Thursday, July 21, 2011

Revelations in gratitude!

Today was a travel day at work, and a solo trip at that. Leaving dry, hot, scorched Fresno at 7am is better than leaving at 1pm, when the place is an inferno. My destination was Monterey County via Pacheco Pass.

As I neared the center of the pass, I noticed the sky was dark, smudgy, angry looking. The hills were shadowed, even the trees seemed to droop. The temp outside had dropped by at least 20 degrees--my AC was warmer than it was outside. My mood started sinking right along with the skies. What am I going to do about this deadline, this task, this client? What about the kids? Why am I not a better parent? Why am I not more of a go-getter? What am I waiting for? What am I hurrying toward? How can I possibly be considered an adult when I'm really just a kid acting the part? Do the kids hate me? Do they have any inkling of how much I love them and would lay down my life for them? What can I do to make Dad take better care of himself? Did I call Grandma?

I was headed to a business meeting, with a group of city leaders, law enforcement, community based organizations and faith based organizations that are trying to do something truly amazing to help a region in need. Not destined for white sand beaches and sea lions fighting over scraps, not for the beautiful scenery or sweet little boutique hotels, but for a small town to hear a lot of mixed news.

"Well, we talked to the kid that was shot, and he was hangin out with gangsters."

"We saw an increase in the number of kids self-reporting that they feel safe in school."

"It's tough, seeing the elementary school principals in tears, hearing first hand from students that they were punched, kicked, hit, or called mean names, when staff really thought it couldn't be happening at their school."

"Well, that one didn't count as a homicide really, it was a domestic violence issue that went all the way."

"We laid off another officer. Five more are scouting new positions because we've taken everything we can from them and demanded more."

I stopped on the way out of town for lunch. No-frills burger joint next to the freeway, it was a family run spot. Three young women were running the entire operation, doing their best to keep up with the lunch rush. I sat by a window, watching the slow-flow of small town summer life. Kids walking to the school to play ball. Young mothers pushing strollers almost as big as they were. Older folks out enjoying the cool breeze.

So on the way home, I had plenty of time to think about how incredibly blessed I am...what I'm thankful for, what makes my heart skip a beat.

Leona Lewis' song Better in time...which literally makes me teary every time I hear it. Mariah sang that for the school talent show last year--it stopped my heart. My sweet baby girl has the voice of an angel and wisdom far beyond her 11 years. My daughter has an old soul that truly shines when she sings. I adore her.

The amazing view and color contrast, driving through Pacheco Pass in the summer--rounding the curve where the San Luis Reservoir comes into view is excuse enough to make the trip. The water (especially when the levels are higher) is the most beautiful, calm shade of brilliantly dark blue. Set against the sun-scorched yellow and brown fields of waving grass, the reservoir calls you so strongly...that you miss the exit to go down for a closer look :)

My son. He's only 14, and such a man already. He makes mistakes, and takes out his frustration on me, he hurts, he loves, he grows. But I still see his sweet, wide-smiling face, and hear his little toddler voice. He likes to bring me back to reality by showing me how much taller he is than me :)

The pair of birds flying in circles, ever closer to the ground. For just a moment, they're suspended over the small valley I'm passing through. Wings spread, casting shadows on the waving grass below. Putting on a beautiful show that I often forget to enjoy.

My imagination takes control over my mind occasionally, and lets me fly over the valley with the birds, soak up the sun next to the beautiful water, see again those small things that I didn't absorb in the moment. It reminds me to hold close to what I love, and to enjoy it today. Not to constantly rush, or let myself be rushed.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Just One Day

If you know me at all, you know I have the most crazy, vivid, realistic dreams of anyone I've ever met. Sometimes it's horrifying, sometimes beautiful, usually fairly brain needs the day time to recover from it's nighttime activities!

Last night was one to commit to memory, though it was exceedingly painful...

I dreamed I died. Not so crazy, people dream of dying all the time, I know. But I dreamed that I died but was unaware of it until some gentle soul broke the news to me. I felt alive, but not present. I remember being so incredibly upset, telling her that I wasn't ready, that I hadn't had time to make sure my children knew how I felt about them. Ridiculous, I tell them every day, and hopefully show them in my actions. But I was absolutely heartbroken because I was sure I hadn't convinced them of just how much I love them. I was at peace with dying, but not with my feelings potentially unknown to my babies. I envisioned them growing old and always doubting whether I truly loved them or not. I wasn't ready...

Luckily for me, I was given one day to accomplish my impossible task. Although I wasn't alive, the kids could see me. I was afraid to touch them, afraid of how they'd react, afraid I'd feel cold, or simply not feel. They didn't accept my passing at first, argued that they could see me, that maybe this was all a sick joke. I did my best, I told them, I showed them, I gave them my best advice for the future. All in one day, all the things I've spent the last 14 years doing, I frantically crammed into one day, just to make sure it stayed with them for a little while longer. Just one day.

I woke up trying to convince myself they'd be ok, that I'd done all I could, that they knew just how much I loved them. And today, I've had more patience with them...we've talked, I've told them point-blank that they mean the world to me. I sent them off to school with an extra squeeze, trying to minimize the everyday fear in my heart.

Because today might just be that one day that we're given. And I don't want it to be wasted.

You smell

Getting ready for work one morning last week, 10 year old Ms. M wanders into my bathroom for some conversation and procrastination...

Me: Good morning baby, did you finish getting your backpack ready?

Ms. M: Yep, all done.

Me: Do you want me to straighten your hair for you today since we have time?

Ms. M: No thanks. Mom, you smell good...

Me: Thank you sweetie, that's very nice of you!

Ms. M: You smell like a Walmart or something...

Me: Uh...thanks? (Vigorously reapply deodorant and body spray)

I smell like Walmart????

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The sins of the mother...

Shall come back to haunt her when her children become adolescents with minds of their own, and attitudes on top of it.

I cannot believe Brandon is 13...I remember being 13, and let me tell you, I was not the most pleasant person to have around...just ask my dad and grandma. Surly, disrespectful, non-commital, not careful...

A few days ago, while putting dinner on the table, I called the kids to wash up. Brandon brought his taller-than-me self in, and slouched into a chair. Because I believe everyone has to contribute, I told him "What do I look like, the maid? Get up and get your own plate." He did, slamming everything he could in the meantime. "Relax," I said, "and lose that attitude. Do you guys have such attitude problems at Dad's house, or is it just when you're at home?" Imagine my shock, and hurt, when they both responded "Just here Mom." Seriously?? I'm a sucker for punishment, especially when it comes to emotional issues, so of course I pressed for an explanation. Mistake. Answers included "I don't know," "Because," and the like. One that came from Brandon related to how strict I am, which I fully admit to being. For a reason. I was a 13 year old in San Francisco, and I know the extent of trouble a kid can get into.

Anyway, the discussion went on, mutating into an argument, and I made mistake #2--I told Brandon he was going to spend some serious time at his dad's, so he could realize how great he has it at home. Never pass down rulings when you're pissed. More flip remarks from him, then my telling him to go pack a bag for the week. More slamming from him. Then my little breakdown at the table, quiet though, and Mariah comforting me and getting upset herself. Terrible mother.

So what do I do now, let him separate, or pull him closer, neither of which I see being helpful, and both with the likelihood of causing more pain and anger? Do I let him have more autonomy, knowing he needs to develop, but also knowing there are some serious freaks out there that would willingly hurt my baby? Or rule by force, and lock him down more? Both options stink, and I don't know who thought up this whole parenting thing. I do know that I wouldn't give it up for the world, but it may well kill me in the long run. Where's the manual??? I didn't exactly sign up for this gig, and the costs are much higher than I thought they would be. The rewards are amazing, it just feels like it will be a long time before I see another one of those...

Friday, September 11, 2009's only been....

Four months! Since I posted that is...Got slammed with over time at work, and then the axe fell...they actually laid 35 of us off! Saw it coming, didn't think she'd follow through, then got my notice. The stink of it is, my first day of unemployment was my freakin birthday lol! Thirty two years old, and unemployed for the first time since I started picking in the fields at age nine...So now I sit around and happily wait for my unemployment check to come in, not sure of which direction to take. On the one hand, having a break after so many years of work is kinda nice. I've been able to take on small catering jobs, walk the boy through his first weeks of junior high, and get more involved with friends, family, and the kids' school stuff. On the other hand, I get the feeling of uselessness that is so common among those not working by someone else's choice. I sleep...ALOT, so I know there's something in that. We lost our health insurance, that's a major pain. Gotta figure out where to cut now, and that's never a fun process. But, I'm pretty positive. When one door closes, a window opens, and I think that being laid off was my little clue that it's time to try something new. I would LOVE to get into this sonography program I found, I could handle being an ultrasound tech, and there's no 5-year wait list for the lottery to get in like City and FSU. So here I stand, in the middle of an intersection, not knowing which way to take, but enjoying the fact that at least I have options. Who knows, maybe I'll find my life's calling, and all thanks to a greedy politician that took no notice that her pawns are actually people with families and responsibilities...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Power of Women

I am continually amazed with what we put up with as women...and how we overcome basically everything with grace, dignity, and fire. Especially after I've had the opportunity to just chat with friends, it becomes so evident that our struggles seem to be universal, and yet we're so shocked that we all really have the same problems! We internalize everything. We don't ask for help, we just get it done, unless it really can't be done without help. Women possess such a quiet strength, but it's such a force! I wonder why we haven't broken into politics and leadership more than we have, but maybe that just makes us smarter. Let the men fight with their words and have the pissing contest, we end up being the power in the end anyway. I wish women received more recognition for our everyday battles, but perhaps it's better that we don't. Knowing what and who we are and accepting that is recognition in itself. Maybe we should work on quiet recognition of each other and our victories.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ms. M's debut

Ok, sorry, proud Mama moment...gosh I love that little girl! I don't know who was more nervous, her or me!! Check it out, comment if you like, just remember, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all...remember, she's 9...and thanks!