Boys will be…Men.

Two decades ago, I gave birth to a baby boy. A rainbow baby, forced to arrive into this world, and a full 8 pounds, with complications throughout his delivery, I was smitten from the get go. I worked hard for this miracle child’s safe arrival, and knew that he would leave an imprint on my heart. What I didn’t know at the time, but continue to learn more and more each day, is that he is FULL of heart, and, much to his dismay, much like his mom in so many ways.
He has had more than his share of challenges, having been a severely allergic child, to numerous things, and reliant on epinephrine which he has carried on his person for almost as long as I can imagine. This was often met with resistance from many people surrounding him, from a lack of play dates, to legally advocating for being allowed to carry epi pens and ride the school bus. Responsibility came early to this little boy, who was required to carry his epis (auto injectors) with him from about 19 months old, in his little duck backpack, until he began carrying them in assorted waist packs that changed sizes and styles throughout his growing years.
He spent years working on his allergy challenges and self esteem, not to mention his music, and is an accomplished flautist because of it. Listening to him play, is like nothing I have ever heard or could even imagine that one day, that small child, carrying his school back pack, wearing his waist pack, and toting along that flute to school, would sound like…truly beautiful. He has been a section leader, taught music to others, and became a lifeguard, head lifeguard, and water safety instructor at earlier ages than others might. I listened in awe at his college auditions from outside audition rooms, as the music swelled, as those auditioning him engaged him in conversation, and shared exchanges. I couldn’t hear what was being said, but he always left with a handshake, a smile, and a kudos to his mom in the hallway, many moments longer than other candidates remained amongst the evaluators. However, the ultimate goal that I had for him, early on, was to not only be a contributing person to society, but to do it lovingly, and with care to others, and to treat them with the ultimate respect. I joked, early on, that I was raising the perfect spouse. But, I really wasn’t joking, and one day, someone will enjoy the fruit of my labors!
I’ve noticed much growth in him as of late, both spiritually, and emotionally. Along with adjustment and finding your niche, comes great potential. I never doubted the intelligence of my son; he has always been intelligent, but, he didn’t have to work as hard at it as others, as logic came easily, and he therefore didn’t often study or prepare ahead of time for things, and found it quite difficult when he had no choice but to change his ways. The conversations are changing, the sharing has increased, the defenses are lowering, and he reaches out sporadically to check on his mom. The moments of tenderness are increasing, and it touches my heart. He reminds me often that he is not a kid, and he’s not, but like any mother will tell you, he will always be my kid.
I’m reminded of a few things over the last couple of weeks… Early on, I kept an ongoing communication journal, if you will, between him and myself, in a marble composition book. It was an idea I stole from his preschool teacher who required a daily journal entry, just to get my, 3, 4, and then 5 year old writing. I did the same thing at home, but, instead, wrote to him, and left it under his pillow, just to keep the lines of communication open between us, allowing him to respond to me, as I have always worked crazy hours, and I know that it’s much easier to write as they get older, than talk, face to face. Eventually this fell by the wayside, but then, years later, when I got an iPad, he left me notes, which he challenged me to find, and conveniently, this was after those sleep away camp letters arrived less often, and then ceased. I would have my iPad charging somewhere accessible, and, every now and then, there’d be a note to respond to. Next, came texting… I was left in the dust at first, as I didn’t have a texting plan, but then I caught on. Texting now, gets a bum rap, but, it’s been a lifeline for us during times when talking by phone just won’t do. He’s not as far away geographically as his older college sibling, but the distance feels similar. We’ve always talked openly about everything, and for that I am grateful, but, I think, as a parent, those seeds must be planted early on. When he was home on break, I took him out, just us, to a deli for matzoh ball soup, which we sporadically did as a mother/son date night when he was little and thereafter. He didn’t recall having done that, but put down the phone on his own, and easily slipped into conversation with me in the comfort of his surroundings. We both love matzoh ball soup, sushi, and Broadway musicals, as well as many other things that he probably never thought we had in common. And, I know, as well, that we have our differences. But, I’m finding now that it’s a wonderful thing to see that not only will boys be boys, but boys will be men. And I do hope, that my man will be the man I hoped he would be, because it already looks like he’s well on his way.

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The numbers game

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The first of the year was weeks ago, February 14th has come and gone, as has the 50 percent off chocolate thereafter (though I WAS lucky enough to score some) and now, just short of a week later, there are numbers swimming through my brain…yesterday was the 19th, and marks precisely one year since I have been struggling to keep us afloat, working a number of jobs, right after several years of pay cuts, supporting 4 of us, and all of the many number of things and expenses that go along with that number and contain their own numbers.

However, I am struck today by another very significant number, with that number being 20.  Today IS the 20th and though we only became aware of its significance about 8 months ago, our daughter will graduate from college on May 20th…a mere 90 days from now…3 short months. It seems like we were just looking at colleges while in high school, looking at SAT scores, ACT scores, tuitions, loans, miles away, hours away…numbers, numbers, and more numbers.  And now, the numbers are back…numbers of grad school responses…7…still to hear from…7…costs, offers, financials, scores, employment outcomes, and, of course, tuitions,  loans, miles away, hours away…numbers, numbers, numbers. It’s amazing to me though, that her knowledge is numerically oodles higher than the four years of knowledge she has now experienced.  The conversations  vary greatly from a mere 4 years ago, when she was only 4 years younger, but 140 plus credits ago, 2 fabulous internships ago, 2 TA experiences, multiple extracurriculars, grant writing experiences, classes, papers, living accommodations, close friends, roommates, and professors and instructors TOO numerous to mention.

We wonder, when we agree upon attending a college and committing, whether or not we’ve made the right decision; whether we will stay, whether we will be successful there, gain the intended knowledge, be employable or successful in pursuing an even higher level of education, but more so, whether we will be supported in our endeavors, have mentors to help us along the way, as well as people to be our second family.

Many of you know from my previous blogs that my daughter has attended school 4.5 hours south of where we live, and though it could’ve been, and was very much almost 6 hours north of here, we went with the most logical choice, rather than her most desired choice. We know now, how amazing a decision that ended up being for sooo many reasons… And we can’t say enough about it.  True, there was a cultural adjustment for my bagel girl in the land of biscuits and gravy, and a period of needed acceptance to commit to her choice,  but that came with time, commitment, and a little help from those around her.  Not only did she watch many of her class leave, fail out, transfer, lose their honors status, lose their scholarships, and make poor choices, but she gained some amazing relationships with those she might never meet otherwise, including someone from another southern school that she met abroad. She worked in the state attorney’s office, the office of the mayor, the local high school and middle school empowering students with limited English skills, after acquiring her own grants, and teaching them to publish their writing.  She has held offices, sat on boards, choreographed for dance ensemble, has partaken in numerous brunches, lunches, teas, seminars, conversations, tutoring sessions, tours, convocations, awards ceremonies, an honors thesis, and so much more. She has been supported every step of the way, and by some of the most amazing people to have been there for her.     Dr. Kathleen Bands, who returned to teaching from administration, helped my daughter to create a leadership minor, exposed her to a position as a TA, not once, but twice, taught her about style, professionalism, and leadership, and has kept her supplied in post-its throughout her academic career. Dr. Donna Bertazoni, her academic advisor, professor for several of her classes, and department guru, who has advised her  but has also heard her and accepted her choices. Dr. Bean, who came into her world later than the others, but who has been there for her grad school preparation to the utmost degree, pushing her to put herself out there and go confidently. Her English literature professor, Dr. Heather Mitchell-Buck, and all time research guru, that got her (finally…thank goodness) to England for the most amazing research, that she is STILL talking about on a daily basis.  And, finally, Dean Olivia White, who I was smitten by as soon as we met her at accepted honors students weekend…with her fabulous smile, warm demeanor, caring heart, ability to remember anyone’s name, great knowledge of local restaurants, and amazing ability to motivate anyone who walks anywhere near her path;  She has treated my daughter like family, heard her, motivated her to take action, and to always do it professionally, with a smile, a thank you, eloquence, and a warmth like nobody’s business.  There have been a NUMBER of others along the way, but these women are a (mother’s) dream come true. It would not be fair, to not mention Melanie from the Dean’s office as well…another extraordinary connection.

I know that these fabulous people have been brought into her life for a reason, and that they will continue to watch over her in the number of days left, and from afar, as she continues on her journey. I know, too,  that she is aware how blessed she’s been.  And though the number of days rush by, she will count these blessings as numerous and know that in the numbers game, she has really scored big.

 

 

Caught off-guard…and no toast.

The last 5 days have been an absolute whirlwind. When my daughter, a college senior, attending school 4 plus hours away, phoned me, I had no idea what we were about to experience. She had skipped class to return to the health center on campus as a follow up after having incredible side and back pain over the last several days, and an excruciating night. She was already stressed due to skipping her class to even go there. (You have to know my daughter to know how stressed she was by this, and I mean REALLY know her.) (She DOES NOT skip classes, overachiever that she is.)  The campus doctor was pretty sure that she had an inflamed gall bladder and not the gastritis that they had been treating her for, and advised her to seek Immediate medical treatment. With scripts and referral in hand, she made calls, and attempted to have bloodwork and a sonogram, but the office wouldn’t see her for several days, and having new insurance and no card in hand, would not treat her, even though she had every number necessary. Being out of state, she was fearful to go to the ER, and possibly creating more out of network issues, and called us, quite upset and frustrated. We decided that the best course of action was to come get her, and seek medical treatment in state and closer to home. Her dad headed out, and her friends, geniuses that they are, packed her up for a day or two, and threw her in the car to head toward her dad in order to connect quicker. I called around, endlessly, to find her an appointment near us much later on in the evening to be seen, due to the travel timing, and thought I scored when I got an appointment with her pediatrician at a satellite office, 45 minutes away at closing. We could possibly get her there in time…maybe. Unfortunately, after many years of being with this practice, they realized that they no longer accepted this, new to us, insurance. I got the name of another doctor whom our friends adore, who does participate and scored the first appointment for the following morning! Yes!!!                             Well, we never made it there. Instead, we ended up in the ED of a hospital somewhat closer to home, after the pain worsened and the vomiting began. We parked, were registered and waiting to be seen, and then the guy next to me began to seize. I realized immediately what was happening, and got help. Not the quickest response from the staff, but, I know, it’s all in a day’s work for them. It didn’t help the rest of us with trust. Moments later, she was taken in, gowned, bedded, IVd and examined. The ED nurse, thank you Stephanie, we loved you, and the ED Doctor, thank you Andrew, were great with her, and concurred with what we all thought was going on. Bloodwork and sonogram ordered, nausea meds at the ready, and then my daughter began to have complications while the IV was being done, and had what I’ll call two “episodes” where she lost consciousness and created quite a stir, and a lot more attention. It didn’t help the rest of us, and delayed the sonogram, additionally getting her an EKG, which was very necessary, and then she refused pain meds, claiming she was only at a 7. They warned her that the scan could become pretty uncomfortable, but our warrior refused. Well, cleared for the scan, they got transport, who moved her to another gurney, and then we proceeded to circle around the hospital trying to find the right radiology place, as the one we were sent to had a sign newly on its door…”we’ve moved!”… Not that they told this poor girl to where, but she remained patient and stopped at every known radiology temporary location, while we followed her and the gurney like puppies after snacks. When we finally found the right place, they apologized for not letting transport know, and then the sonographer apologized to us for the tight quarters. The test, itself was pretty intense, and now our daughter’s pain threshold was at a 10….naturally.
We spent the entire day in the hospital, hydrating, treating the pain and nausea, and awaiting results…the scan ruled out the gall bladder, so no impending surgery for that. The  bloodwork showed a probable severe kidney infection, dehydration, and a gastrointestinal ulcer, plus a couple of other, hopefully, non emergent issues to be tended to after healing from this…again, did I say she’s an overachiever? We are finally discharged; I head home to get her Into bed, and the hubbs heads to the pharmacy to get all of the prescriptions, which, of course, without medical cards, becomes the next fiasco, and delays us further, as if it’s par for the course. A few hours later, I head into work, for a mere two hours…only my program director knows what’s going on, and, apparently, I pull it off, as no one there catches on, until someone, well two someones, tell me a couple of days later that they had NO idea, how crazy I am to have come in, and how could I leave my baby? And then the guilt, already sitting JUST below the surface, emerges….How do you explain something that you don’t want to explain? …When you have a job where you forfeit your pay if you don’t show? That you have already lost time, and are the sole breadwinner for a year already…that the impending snowstorm creates more stress and more of a pay loss…that you’re freaked out by how you have even been holding this together financially since before the now unexpected but expected, hospital bills were even an issue…you just can’t….and you don’t. …and I continue to hold it together. I feel pretty focused.
The next day it snows…and it doesn’t stop for 13 hours, cancelling my morning classes, and, shortly thereafter, my evening classes. …And I succumb to it…the decision has been taken away from me and I am home. Maybe, as it should be.      My husband, true to his fashion, is already on the phone, yelling and cursing at the insurance rep that has no idea why our cards still have not arrived.
I cringe…it’s not my way, believing that you always get more with sugar than with vinegar, and it truly just makes me uncomfortable…I know he’s also frustrated, but It’s not the rep’s fault, and I tell him that…he does not appreciate my input. I decide to channel my energy into prepping hospital friendly, safe to digest food, to be at the ready to tend to my patient. I’ve done nothing prior to this snowstorm to prepare for having an ill child at home; I didn’t know it was going to happen. She’s still highly uncomfortable, nauseous, dizzy, and can’t take meds without food. I consider toast…she might be able to keep that down. Maybe not, but maybe. Scared to eat anything solid, my mother suggests jello…brilliant. He makes jello, and I make farina, and then I have an epiphany. I head straight for the cupboard and make pasta…lots of pasta….small pastas…pastina, tiny shells, ditalini, and reject anything larger. I put them all in separate, tiny, portion sized for a toddler, containers, and stack them, and fill the top shelf of the fridge. I feel accomplished. In charge. Victorious. And then….the toaster oven breaks, just as I plan on making toast for her. Yes, it’s the same toaster oven that I have single handedly repaired the handle to two times. The same one that toyed with me in November, and teased me that it was going to die…When appliances are SUPPOSED to bite the bullet in our house, but it didn’t. The timing is all wrong now, and I am completely thrown by it. (Read my “no appliance November”; I promise, you won’t be disappointed.) and, because of the toast, I lose it.
The following day, i set her up, feed her, medicate her, and head to the supermarket, determined to find just the right things to care for my child, and I purchase more pastas, cranberry juice, and a dozen packets of jello, and duplicate all of it to send back to school with her. (The overachieving Apple doesn’t fall far from the overachieving tree.) I then head to kohls to purchase the toaster oven I researched throughout the entire evening before, and when I get there, they don’t have it, even though online it said it was in stock at that location. I find someone to assist me, and he helps me find one at another kohls 20 miles away, which I then call, to be sure they have it, and Andre assures me it will be waiting for me at customer service. I also confirm that it is not an exclusion from using my 30 percent off coupon, which he assures me it can be used for, and I look at the time, and head north. I’m driving “expediently” and toward what will soon be early Friday rush hour traffic for those trying to get a jump on the weekend, but I figure it’ll only be the start of it, and I forge forward. When I arrive there, the store, unfamiliar to me, is flipped around from the layout of the other, and I end up in the wrong area, need a GPS or directions to find customer service, and then see that there is only one woman on line ahead of me. She seems to need every assurance in the book for her credit of $21.67 back to her gift card, and I begin to show my impatience. My daughter is not answering my calls or texts, and hoping she is sleeping, I glance, again, at my watch. Yes, I wear a watch. (Thank you camp, and isn’t a phone for communicating?!) I feel like the nursing mom, running out of pumped breast milk and needing to get back to my newborn. This is taking wayyyy longer than expected, and is further stressing me out. I make it to the counter, the rep? Clerk? Associate? Calls someone to lift the toaster oven to the counter for her, and it is MUCH larger than I expect. She assures me it’s just the box, but then she lets him go. She then tells me that I cannot make the purchase there, and have to bring it to the main cash registers in the front…SERIOUSLY? …ummm, can I get someone to help ME carry it there? Thanks, love. She calls to someone already in a jacket, not the same guy, and he confirms the item number and he accompanies me and carries it to the front. Of course there is 1 cashier, and 7 people ahead of me, already looking like they’ve been there for days, and he gets on line with me. We wait for about 10 minutes, which seems like eons, along with the screaming infant behind me, that can’t be consoled, and I just HAVE to ask him… “Do you always wait with the customer?” And he replies “um, no; I was on my way out for my lunch break and they asked if I would carry this up here for you.” The baby continues to wail, a not so subtle reminder of my mommydom, and I swear I actually looked down at my chest to be sure I wasn’t leaking breast milk, (I haven’t nursed in 17 years) and then I totally lost it…I mean REALLY lost it. I looked at him and said, pretty loudly, “YOU have been VERY helpful, and kind, and patient, but YOU should NOT be waiting here on YOUR break.” And then I got louder…THIS guy has been EXTREMELY helpful, but now HE’S going on his break…RIGHT NOW.” And the guy just smiles at me, I thank him, and he leaves. Picture Shirley MacLaine in the hospital in the movie “Terms of Endearment”… “It’s time for my daughter to have her shot…she’s waited all of this time, IN PAIN…GIVE. HER. THE. SHOTTTTT!” Everyone stops, and looks around, and, miraculously another cash register opens…a very far geographical distance from where I am standing with this huge box, and no one to lift it, but the cashier smiles and awaits my approach. I have no patience for anyone now, and push the box to the register. And, of course, when the sale is rung up, she and two managers can’t get the system to accept my coupon. I name everybody I have ever spoken to from kohls, and they get Andre on the phone who confirms our conversation, and that it’s not an exclusion, but now two cashiers, two managers, and Andre don’t know what to do. I suggest computing what 30 percent off would be and subtracting it from the total. I suck at math and they think I’m a genius. And then the manager tells me she also has a migraine, and I try to help her. I suggest caffeine with her tylenol and I mention how this was a multi hour fiasco, that my daughter is home, not answering me, when all i needed was to make toast…toast that she probably wouldn’t keep down anyway, but she needed toast, and the toaster oven just went, and I had been everywhere I was told to go to get this one, with my coupon. And then, it happens…I begin to cry…REALLY cry…over toast. The manager apologizes to me, and offers for someone to carry out the box, and someone immediately appears to do so. I get in the car, realizing now that I’ve also lost one of the lenses of my sun glasses. This errand has taken hours instead of what should’ve been 45 minutes, and the guilt ensues. I thank the guy, gather myself together and head into the now, not so early, Friday rush hour traffic. I call my mom on the ride home, to help me calm down, and she can’t understand why I need this fancy toaster oven when her toaster cost $18.  I decide to tell her that we “just have different needs”.  She accepts this, but I’m aware of her “tone”.  I probably should’ve just blasted the radio and sung very loudly…next time…When I get home, we unpack the box and prep the oven for use. My daughter, for the last several hours, of course, has been trying to sleep, because of the pain, dizziness, and, of course, needs to eat something before having pain meds, so I sheepishly offer her something….we go with jello….I don’t even dare offer her toast. I may never see toast the same way again. The lesson learned…#gowiththejello

Beaches–the controversy

“It must’ve been cold there in my shadow, to never have sunlight on your face. You were content to let me shine…”        Yes, we all know the words. We certainly know who sang them. We remember the first time we saw it…and all the times, again and again, thereafter. The countless tissues, the ice cream, the numerous discussions with friends regarding the emotion, and how we are drawn to watch it whenever it’s on, and just can’t seem to stop ourselves.  How it is a go-to movie for so many of us, when we are in need of a good cleansing cry. This gem, untouchable…or so we thought.  Enter The lifetime Movie channel, circa January, 2017.  WHAT?! There’s a remake?!  How DARE they?! There’s no WAY anyone could do this, or that it could possibly be ANY good.  I actually have friends that boycotted watching it, just on principle. I for one, was torn, but secretly set my DVR. Well, not so secretly. In fact, I put it on Facebook that I was going to watch it.  I mean, Idina Menzel was starring in it, and singing, of course,  and I am a really big Idina fan.  (You know, Adele Dezeem?) Well, I just couldn’t stop myself, and I was very hopeful that it would be sort of good. I mean, it would never beat the original; How could it?  But I just had to see it for myself. And so,  I set myself up, snuggling in under the covers, with some chocolate and a big bowl of popcorn, and the worst cold imaginable…the timing was impeccable.  …and I watched.  At first, I thought it was a corny copy of the original, but then I slowly got sucked in by the two girls who played the characters’ younger selves…two girls, both very talented, and, I found out later (when I watched the “after party” show…yup; I did– no judgement) that they are really best friends in real life, having performed in Matilda together on Broadway, and they even submitted their audition video together…Art, Imitating life. And then, the unexpected happened; I stopped comparing it to the original and began enjoying it. You know, it’s amazing when you watch something decades later, in which you know the story well, and it seems timeless, and then you realize how dated it really is. Now, I’m completely aware that that is part of the charm, and the familiarity, not to mention the comfort of this movie, but CiCi and Hillary’s relationship, to those watching it today, for the first time might seem odd.  They meet as kids at the beach, spend a couple of hours together, write letters for years, and then don’t see each other again until their mid 20s, when Hillary just shows up, having left her current lifestyle. To this generation, keeping in touch via social media, in addition to letter writing, and sending text messages to each other probably makes more sense to them. Just them having cell phones alone is a necessity.  What is ageless though, is the friendship that they share…the triumphs, the tribulations, the falling out, and the coming together when tragedy strikes. Maybe it was time for it to be remade, but, I guess you’ll just have to watch it and decide. Feel free to come on over–I still have it on my DVR, as maybe I’ll watch it again two or three (hundred) times.