Thursday, December 31, 2015

Bring on 2016

      As 2015 draws to a close I reflect on my year. I tend to try to be a positive person but I can honestly say this year was quite challenging. I suffered the illness and subsequent loss of a loved one, struggled with illness myself and a painful surgery, and was forced to be among someone I would rather not see. Starting from January and until this present moment each month had one or more of these challenges.
     I thought a great deal about what it all means for me and came to the conclusion that what these really crappy things did was give me gifts. I know it might sound crazy but I love when things "Suddenly dawn on me." So here are the gifts I have been given this year.

     1.  Forgiveness. I never quite understood this one. I learned to forgive people that never asked for it but really hurt me. I know I will never hear an apology and they might not even feel sorry, so for me this is huge. I never knew how to move on from this but I saw how much anger I was harboring.  It wasn't keeping them up at night but it was doing that for me. I obsessed and fixated on it. I even thought about how their lives where a mess and it was because of their choices. So instead of carrying this I literally put my hand to my heart and tried to feel sympathy for them. As I touched my heart I imagined that if I were them and needed the help they needed what would I want someone to do for me?  The answer was clear it was time to help and although I do not forget the hurt I can know in my heart that I have done a loving thing for myself.

    2.  Patience. This year I saw people at their worst. Confused, making poor choices, and behaving in a manner that made no sense to me. I learned that sometimes people need time to figure things out. They need to go through making bad choices to come to the good ones. I even learned they may never make good ones. I needed to learn to let them make their choices. It was a very hard to stand by as people I loved struggle, but I learned that for them change was extremely difficult. It also put me back in touch with how difficult change is for me. I'm still working on this patience thing but have definitely gotten better.

     3.   In sickness and in health. No one wants to feel crappy everyday. For me this started in late August and continues today. I am married 11 years and am only 50. I never thought that at this age there would be days my husband would have to dress me, walk me to the bathroom, and drive me places. Luckily I can do those things for myself now but I still need his help and patience with me. I think back on how time consuming I was after surgery and how limited our lives had become. It showed me the gift I have in him. That silly sentence that is part of most peoples vows is often not something you seriously think about. He certainly lived that vow for me this year and that is a true gift.

     4.   Putting my air mask on first.  Of course this is not a literal thing but for me I would normally stay in situations that made me sick, stressed me, and caused me not to be my best self. I learned to just leave even if it doesn't look good to others around me. I have had to go home in the middle of chaos because I knew I could no longer be patient and kind and needed to get a breath for myself.  Sometimes you have to be a priority.

    5.  The Rosary. I went to Catholic school my whole life and yet I had not said the rosary in years.  At the urging of a former high school friend I picked up the rosary and had to reteach myself the prayers. So beads in one hand and kindle fire in the other I muddled through my first rosary. I wept tears of peace the first two times I said it. I still need the internet to remind me how to say it but it has given me a welcome break and a peaceful retreat from the day.

     I hope as you reflect back on your year you will find that it was a good one. I pray that if it was not, you will have come through it stronger and with better insight to handle the year ahead.  So for me I say bring on 2016. To you all I say be gentle with yourself and others and have a very Happy and Healthy New Year.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mother's Day

  In the month of May we celebrate mothers. Moms are fabulous and worthy of receiving this recognition but I think our recognition falls short in including the mothers that I think about. We think about the dirty diapers and car pools and that certainly is a challenging part of motherhood. The following are the mothers or mother figures that might not come to mind for others but I think about.

  1. The moms of the sullen beasts called teens. Oh boy if this is not a stage of motherhood that a glass of wine should be on hand at all times. We had three teens in our house at once. Luckily only one was the sullen one. A mom is always left to wonder what the hell is going on? Are they mad at me or just angry at the world? Moms of these teens take heart, you may be the target but they are mad at the world. You get lots of advice on how to handle these years and many moms fall into the trap of trying to be friends with these aliens. Do not! This is when you are really needed to be a mom. Yes be the square peg that wants to ruin their lives because try as you might they will never really consider you a friend. They will keep secrets so don't be fooled, and they will make mistakes so expect it and keep wine on hand.

  2. Moms that never got to be moms. Some woman through medical issues or just relationship circumstances never got to be the mothers they wanted to be. Mother's Day can be so painful for these would be moms. No one recognizes them because in the true sense they are not technically mothers but this doesn't mean that it wasn't their greatest wish unfulfilled.

  3. Moms who lost a child. I cannot imagine the pain. Maybe they still have other children but they will always be mothers to the one they lost. If they lost an only child the world may not see them as mothers any longer. I do. They are mothers with a pain that will never go away.

  4. The nuns in my Catholic schools who mothered me and others. I know most people have horror stories but I like to remember the nuns who showed me kindness. I was lucky to have some gentle, loving, and sweet ladies teach me. Not all were, but I can say the same of some of my lay teachers. Nuns showed us a selfless love similar to a traditional mother. I learned compassion, kindness, and humility. One of my best qualities, as pointed out by my husband, was taught to me by a nun. She called it a warm fuzzy and it's just a simple thing that makes a big impression. Simply saying something nice to someone about appearance or a quality they possess. I never forgot that lesson and have used it my whole life.

  5. I think about moms who have children in prison or accused of a terrible crime. It seems ironic considering I was a cop but my heart knows that this is a mother few think about. I have met mothers in the station house that of course love their children but are horrified by their actions. Maybe they weren't the best mothers but I know that not one of them gave birth hoping to raise a murderer, pervert, or drug addict. I have no sympathy for their children that made those horrible choices but I do think about the mothers. I am especially humbled by the amazing, godly woman who are the victims' mothers that after a trial can go over and hug the criminals mom. That is the an ultimate level of forgiveness that I am not sure I possess.

  6. I think about all the step moms out there. I speak from experience that it is much more difficult than traditional motherhood. I always tell people it is like being put in a boxing ring with both hands tied behind your back. I applaud these moms who try hard to help co parent and often are given very little recognition for their efforts. I congratulate you for working at loving children that may not love you back. Keep trying and if all else fails have that glass of wine with the mother of a teen.

 Everyone knows there are no instruction manuals given out when the strange creatures we call our children are born. We do the best we can, we pray, we cross our fingers, and then I personally saved for a good therapist. I give thanks to all mothers and hope you will join me in encouraging other mothers, mother figures, and wonderful dads filling in for moms. Happy Mother's Day to you all.