Insomnia

It is 2 am and I can’t sleep. I hate when this happens, as it inevitably does, ever so often. My eyes want to close, feel tired and gritty, but then I lay there for hours, just thinking.

I think about things I want to do, things I should have done. Mistakes I made and directions I want to go. On the worst nights, I play “what if,” which is so destructive.

So, I sit here in my bed, watching movies on Netflix to keep my errant mind from wandering too far afield.insomnia

I find myself wondering what you’re dreaming about. If it’s sexy or sweet. If I’m there in your dreams. I know I shouldn’t wonder. I know it’s probably a little creepy that I admit it. But I do wonder.

My dog is under the bed, snoring. Ever so often she dreams and yips in her sleep. I wonder if she’s dreaming of a field full of bacon, all there for her enjoyment. All three cats are fast asleep as well, dreaming of world domination, no doubt. The kids are passed out. I can hear my oldest sometimes talking in his sleep. It’s sweet.

couple sleepingAnd here I sit. Wishing I could sleep like everyone else in the house. Wishing I could sleep in your arms, honestly. Wondering what it would feel like to have you warm at my back, your breath feathering the hair on the nape of my neck. Your arm thrown across my ribs and cradled against my chest, your knees tucked behind mine. Our feet touching, gently.

If I could sleep, I know I would dream of you.

If I could sleep.
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Honesty to the extreme

I read an article on the Daily Mail UK by a woman who said that the biggest regret of her life was having her children. She was very honest and forthright about the fact that she disliked the children taking up her alone time and that she never felt any bond with them as they were growing up. Quite paradoxically, she devoted her life to them. Her feeling was that if she had children she was going to raise them and not have nannies or other caretakers do the job for her. Having decided to have them, she was going to be the best mother she could be.

Not that she was demonstrative, but they were well cared for and wanted for nothing. She always knew that she didn’t want children, but her husband did and she decided that it would be selfish to deny him of that opportunity. They worked out a life that worked for them and her children grew up to be productive and loving adults. Somewhat ironically, her daughter was struck by MS in her 20’s and has had to return back home where her mother must tend her every day. But, as she states, she would take on that tragedy from her daughter if she could. Because she is her mother and that is her job.

The comments under the article are as rude and horrible as you would think. Some call the woman selfish, self-centered, horrible, awful.

But I don’t see it that way.

This was a woman who seriously thought about what she was doing before she did it. She knew that she would not bond with the children the way that other mothers would. Was she a demonstrative mother? Absolutely not. But she was nothing more than fully attentive and giving to her children.

She states:

“I cannot understand mothers who insist they want children, then race back to work at the earliest opportunity after giving birth, leaving the vital job of caring for them to strangers. Why have them at all if you don’t want to bring them up, or can’t afford to? And why pretend you wanted them if you have no intention of raising them? This hypocrisy is, in my view, far more pernicious and difficult to fathom than my own admission that my life would have been better without children.”

I have to admit, I was one of those mothers. Or would have been if the opportunity had been afforded to me. When my oldest was 2, and my youngest was just born, we lived in a foreign country where I couldn’t get a job due to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). If I could have, I would have run off to have a job and left my children with strangers to raise them.

Why? Because I was miserable. I was not hardwired to have small children around. Don’t get me wrong, I love my children. I do. I get more enjoyment out of them now that they are grown a bit. But when they were little, I was absolutely miserable. I missed my alone time, I missed my time with my own thoughts. I missed having a name, instead being known as “A’s mom” or “J’s mom.”

Even now, while I love to coo over babies, I love, even more, to hand them back to their mothers when I leave. I appreciate that I am not the one that has to give that amount of time to them that they require. I appreciate my independence, what little I have, now that my children are older.

I wouldn’t say that they are the biggest regret of my life, because THEY ARE NOT. I love my children and I am proud of them each and every day.

I guess I am saying that I understand, partially, where this woman is coming from. And I appreciate her honesty, with herself, her husband, her children and the world. I also appreciate her single-minded objective of raising her children, giving herself to them fully when they needed her. I appreciate that her and her husband worked out a way of life that worked for them, with the husband being fully attentive to the children when he was around instead of it all falling to her.

I’ll admit, and always have, that I cannot wait for my children to grow up. When my youngest started school full-time, I remember standing there with the other parents, dutifully waiting for school to start. Giving my son kisses and hugs and telling him that he was going to have a great time. I meant every kiss and every hug, from the bottom of my heart. I wanted him to succeed in school. As he turned the corner with his class and walked out of sight, I actually let out a whoop of joy. All of the other parents were crying and upset that their babies were growing up. For me, it was a sign that there was light at the end of the tunnel. That I would, eventually, have my life back.

Does it make me a horrible person to say these things? Maybe. I have enjoyed every milestone that my children have reached. I have fought hard for my oldest and I have worked hard with my youngest, to make sure that they have every opportunity that can be afforded to them. I love them and hug them and give them kisses and support. Because I do love them. I do support them.

But I don’t think that I could characterize my parenthood as a labor of love. More a labor of responsibility. I have said many times, and will say it many times again: I chose to bring these children into the world and I have a responsibility to mold them into productive members of society. I have a responsibility to make sure that they are polite and well socialized. This is my responsibility.

My heart bursts with pride when someone tells me that my children are polite and very sweet. It means that I have done a good job. My children say “please,” and “thank you.” They call ladies, “ma’am,” and men, “sir.” They do well in school. They have friends. They can read and write and do ‘rithmetic.

But I am counting down the days until my youngest graduates. I want to go live my life while I am still young. I will always be there for them. I will love any grandchildren that they bring me. But I won’t ache for it. I won’t itch for it. I won’t be that mother that continually asks them when they are going to have a child. I won’t be that grandmother that hopes she can babysit all the time. I just won’t.

To be honest, I don’t think there is anything wrong with anything I have said here. Will it sit well with everyone that reads it. Absolutely not. Will there be some that will think I’m a horrible person? Yup. Will there be some that think that I’m selfish. Oh, hell, yes.

But I don’t see it that way. I don’t see myself as selfish. I see myself as someone that has two children, whom I love, that has sacrificed and given, and continues to give, to make sure that they have a top notch education and want for absolutely nothing. Are my children spoiled? Mildly. But they also understand the word, “no,” and that mom uses it liberally.

I do love my children. I don’t regret my children. They have enriched my life in ways that it could not have been enriched without them. Do I want them to grow up and am I looking forward to that day? Absolutely.

But I can understand where the author of the article is coming from. I can sympathize, and even empathize, with her. I don’t think she is a bad mother. I don’t think she is a bad person.

Any more than I think those things about myself.

Any more than my children think those things about me.

Am I good mother? I think so. Whether or not you agree with me actually doesn’t matter. Time will tell how good of a mother I was. I think it already does.

I think I have two terrific kids who light up my life. But…..I still can’t wait for them to grow up! 🙂

Pride doesn’t begin to cover this moment

Yes, I’m still alive, contrary to the internet rumors.  I just haven’t had the urge to write.  Life has been hectic, what with school starting and stuff.  But today….today I  had to share.

15 years ago, I had a beautiful baby boy, who we named Jeffrey.

13 years ago, he was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.

For the past 13 years I  have fought, kicking and screaming, to make sure that he has the best chance at success that I, and his teachers and therapists, can give him.  This has meant going up against school districts, school principals and lazy-ass case managers who want me to do their job for them.

Please, let me make clear, I know that my son’s education is a team effort.  The therapists, teachers, case managers, principals, counselors, myself and my son make up this team.  We should all work together to make sure that Jeffrey is successful.

That hasn’t always been the case with those that I have had to work with.  But Jeffrey and I have made it through the fires and tribulations to today.

Today is the fourth day of school for my boys.  Today is the day that I got a phone call from the school. 

I got a good phone call from the school 🙂

My son, my autistic son who so many had told me would amount to nothing.  My son whose condition was to be blamed on my “bad blood.”  My son who I was told would never be more than a burden on me for the rest of my life.

My son today was offered an internship at the library on Tuesdays.  He is doing so well in his classes, and his teachers have such faith in him, that he will be allowed to miss a day of one class and half of two others once a week.

I’m so proud of my son.  If there was a word that could convey the happiness and the pride and the amazement at the young man he is growing into, I would use it.  If I could bottle this feeling, I so would. 

I am so happy that I was chosen to be his mother. 

 

We Have Lived

I was aghast, as so many were, to read about the massacre in Colorado on Friday night.  No one should go to the movies and end up fighting for their life.  I read an article today about those that died.  The youngest was 6.  She had attended the movie with her mother, something that I’m sure she had looked forward to for the entire week before.  Two of those killed were active duty military, one from the Air Force and one from the Navy.  I’m sure they didn’t expect to die in their own back yard.  One man that died was in his 50’s, the father of two teenagers.  I’m sure he was looking forward to bouncing his grandchildren on his knee in the future.

All of these lives cut short so quickly and mindlessly.  It is sad and we are all wanting answers.  Why did this man do this?  What was his motivation?

But does it make it easier to know why he did it?

We know why the terrorists acted on 9/11, but does it make it easier?

On Sunday, I went to the Ground Zero 9/11 Memorial.  Eleven years ago, most of the United States awoke to the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor, almost 60 years before. 

Panoramic picture of the South Pool of the 9/11 Memorial

While the attack happened here on American soil, with American planes and many American lives were lost, it was truly a global tragedy. More than 90 countries (not including the terrorists) were represented in the death toll of 9/11, only one of them being the United States.  372 foreign nationals were killed on that day, 12% of the total death toll. 

I was living in Italy on that day and I remember the outpouring of sympathy from all of the Italians that we came in contact with for weeks after the attacks.  They were just as stunned as America was that someone would act in such a terrible manner.  Complete strangers would come to me and hug me and tell me that they supported us in our time of need.  I remember the Italians being very supportive at a time when I was worried about what other attacks may happen to us in the bucolic Italian countryside.

I was reminded of this time while I stood in line to enter the Memorial.  I was surrounded by many different people and I counted at least 6 different languages being spoken:  German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Russian.  Interspersed with this was English from the local tourists, like myself. 

One World Trade Center – now the tallest building in NYC.

We all stood together waiting to pay our respects to those that died on 9/11.  We all stood thinking about that dark day, and remembering those that had died.  I have never been somewhere so big that was so quiet.  It was a Sunday, so the construction areas around the Memorial were silent.  People spoke in low tones, pointing out something that had caught their eye or that they wanted to know more about. 

When we entered the Memorial area, the quiet continued.  The sound of the falling water in the waterfalls was ever present, no matter where you stood in the Memorial area.  No one laughed, no babies cried.  It was silent. 

Reverent.

It was a place to come and recall.  A place to come and remember.  Even if, like me, you were not personally touched by the tragedy there, it was a time to remember those that were.  I thought about where I was that day, how I found out about the tragedy, how our lives have changed since then.

I traced the names in the bronze at the Memorial and thought about how this was someone’s brother, sister, father, mother, son, daughter.  I thought about children that had lost a parent, parents that had lost children.  I thought about lives lost and the potential that was gone with them.  I thought about how they were victims in a war that had almost nothing to do with them.  I thought about the victims of the Pentagon and how they gave their lives in service to their country.  I thought about those on Flight 93 and how they fought back and won, even as they lost their lives.  I looked across those huge waterfalls, those pools of endlessly falling water, and how that one day, those thousands of lives, changed how we look at the world.

There will be a memorial to those that died in Aurora, Colorado.  Just as there will be a memorial to those that were killed in Oslo, Norway, one year ago this past Sunday.  Just as there are memorials to those that died in the Oklahoma City bombing and in Columbine.

To me, the memorials are a place to come and remember.  Not just the deaths of those memorialized, but their lives.  Each of these people had touched numerous others in their lives.  With a smile, a handshake, a kind gesture.  Each of them had left their mark, not because of how they died, but because of how they lived. 

Each one of those names, on any memorial you go to, was a person who laughed and loved, who pulled practical jokes and gave of themselves.  They had family that loved them.  They had friends that would go to bat for them.  No, they probably weren’t all good people, but most of them were.  No more or less than your average person.  They were sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, fathers and mothers.  They have family members that miss them daily.

While I stood in the Ground Zero Memorial Gift Shop (all proceeds go to the upkeep of the memorial) there was a video playing on the screens at the back of the store.  The silence from the Memorial carried over into the store.  We all stood and silently watched the stories of those touched by the tragedy play out in the survivor’s own words.  One stood out for me.  It was a young man talking about his mother:

“I’ve learned to live without her.  It’s taken me years, but I have learned to live without her.”

Whatever the motives behind these tragedies, whatever the reason for them, we have learned to live without those that were lost.

More importantly, we have lived.

That is the greatest testament that anyone can give to one who was lost.

We have lived.

Do a great job and get fired. Huh?

I am an advocate of public schooling.  I don’t believe in home schooling as I don’t believe that it is regulated enough. I speak from experience.  I knew some folks who “home schooled” their children but the dad could only count to 21 with both shoes off and his pants down.  His wife could manage 22, but she had to be shirtless.

You guffaw, but I’m not kidding.

I have also known parents that are amazing home schoolers and they do a terrific job with their kids.  But it’s seriously hit or miss.  And here, in New Jersey, there is almost NO regulation on who teaches their children. 

I have serious issues with that.

However, this post isn’t about that.  It’s about the public school system that is in serious need of an overhaul.  I’m not stating that I think that the public school system in this country (and especially in some states) isn’t in dire trouble. 

I know it is.

In fact, this story out of California illustrates this very fact.

*Before we start with the bashing of California, I wish to tell you all that I graduated High School out there and that my senior English teacher, Mrs. Baker, was responsible for my being able to write pretty well.  I’ve honed that talent since then, but she was my basis.  So, no bashing my public school education, K? (A little shout out to all my Wheatland High peeps~*muah*)

Everyone is broke these days, and I understand fully that budget cuts mean that jobs have to be cut.  I don’t agree with it and in a perfect world our schools would be a number one priority for everyone.  But this is just the reality of our country right now.

So, last hired, first fired, right?

Why?

This woman, Michelle Apperson,  was named Sacramento’s Teacher of the Year and she got FIRED.

Ready for why our schools are failing?  I’ll give it to you in a direct quote from the school district spokesperson:

School spokesperson Gabe Ross told News 10 that who gets laid off is mandated by state law and is based on seniority, not performance.   *underlining mine*

What the hell kind of thing is this?  Why is the person that performs the best laid off?  I understand it, but it logically doesn’t make any sense. 

Now, don’t start screaming about unions and stuff.  I don’t want this to devolve into a political discussion.

I just wanted to point out the absolute, utter lack of logic applied to this situation.

And there are laws to make this happen.

Wow.

The injustice of this, to the teacher and to the children that she could have been shaping, is palpable. 

I seriously have a bad taste in my mouth.

The fact is, the education system needs an overhaul.  And that won’t happen until the politicians in every single state house and in Congress understand, fully, that public school is where 90% of their country is being educated and assign it the importance that they seem to assign to my uterus or my BMI.

We need to make them hear what we are saying.  They need to understand that not all of us can afford to send our kids to the schools that they are sending their children on my dime.

I want my dime to go to MY children and to MY community for their education and their future.

I want teachers like Ms. Apperton to keep her job and influence so many little, maleable minds.

This is a disgusting shame.  Truly.

 

 

That’s right, you’re not as special as you were led to believe

I want to preface this post with this:

I fully believe that every single person on the planet has something unique and special to offer to the world.  Just by our being here, we will influence people and we will make a difference – if we choose to.

But, now, I have to get up on my soapbox for a moment:

I have worked with children for years.  I love children. Some more than others. Some WAY more than others.

Alright, some I outright abhor.

These are the ones that think that they are all that because they have been told this over and over and over again.  They have been given a false sense of entitlement.  They think that every single person in the world should treat them like the royalty that they have been led to believe they are.

And why shouldn’t they believe that?  I have reams of certificates from my sons’ schools saying that they are “special.”  For example:

Good Attendance Award:  this award is given for not missing any school in a quarter.  Now, forgive me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that you were supposed to go to school every day unless you were a) throwing up & running a fever; b) just hit by a car/bus/any other vehicle; c) had to go to a funeral of a CLOSE relative (cousins twice removed don’t count…unless you’re in West Virginia cause then they might also be a sibling); d) you are having life saving surgery.

See, I don’t think you should get an award for something that you should be doing anyway.  Which leads me to my next one:

Citizenship Award:  this award is given for being a good citizen.  In my school days, this was considered something that you should do every day and not get rewarded for.  In fact, this is something everyone should do everyday.  It covers being helpful, polite, conscientous, etc.  In other words, treating your fellow students the way you would like to be treated.

Since when did this become award worthy?  I thought we were all supposed to be doing this!

There are tons more.  Homework award (doing your homework every night), Testing award (doing well on tests), Friendly award (for being friendly).

What???

These things are all things that are supposed to be done in school.  You’re supposed to do homework, you’re supposed to do well on tests, you should never be rude.  Why do these get a certificate?

I can understand a certificate for making an honor roll (you have to work hard to achieve that).  I can understand singling out a valedictorian or salutorian at high school graduation.  Those things should be celebrated.

But that other stuff?  Those are responsibilities, not things that should be given awards for.  That would be like me giving my kids a certificate for doing their chores.  No, thank you.

And don’t even get me started on youth sports.

Hasn’t anyone figured out that if EVERYONE gets a special trophy then NO ONE is special?  We hand them out like they are candy and they are about as worthless.  It’s another piece of hardward to put on a shelf somewhere so that it can collect dust.

The dust is probably more special than the wholesale trophy that was handed out to EVERY SINGLE teammember.

And the kids expect these things!

Because we have conditioned them to expect them.

Why?

Why can’t we make children understand the difference between being truly exceptional and the difference between participation and responsibility?

Because we don’t want to.

My generation is the worst.  The baby boomers were unduly under the influence of Dr. Spock and other pop psychologists when they raised their children.  Then we grew up in the 80’s (Greed is good….instant gratification) where we got pretty much whatever we wanted.

Now we have children.

I have always made it a point of pride to tell my children “No.”  I remember being in a store and my children going nuts over the check out counter candy, asking if they could have some.  I told them, “No, and don’t ask me again. You don’t need any candy.”  The guy at the counter looked at me and said, “I don’t know how many times I’ve seen kids come through here and throw a fit and their parents just give in.  You’re the first one that I’ve seen say ‘No.'”

Seriously?

Don’t parents understand that “NO” is a word that their children will hear more often throughout their life than any other word?

– “No, we’re not hiring.”

– “No, I don’t want to date you.”

– “No, you’re not qualified.”

I mean, telling your children “Yes” all the time leaves them ill-equipped to deal with the real world.

Know who says “yes” to your children all the time?

Their friends.

How about you try being a parent instead of a friend?

How about you do your job and prepare your child for the real world rather than coddling them and giving them an unreal idea of how the world is going to treat them?

Your child is special, no doubt.  They’re special because they are here.  They will make a difference in the world because they exist.

But, let’s face it.  How many of the children out there are truly exceptional?

Childhood should not be the best times of their lives.  Childhood should be a safe, secure time where they learn how to be productive adults and they get a good foundation to go out and have the best times of their lives.

A teacher at Wellsely High School gave the following speech.  I thought it summed up very nicely what I’m trying to say here and did it with humor and panache as well.

Notice he ended his speech with this comment:   “The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special. Because everyone is.”

No one person is more special than anyone else.

We would do well to teach our children this.

Faking Phone Sex

How many women, by show of hands, has faked an orgasm at some point in their life?  *counts*

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Every woman has done it.  Maybe you just weren’t into it that night.  Maybe he was just that bad.  Maybe your mind was on what needed to be done for tomorrow. 

Whatever the reason, there are some of us out there that deserve an Oscar for making their man feel like a man by faking their satisfaction.

I’ve done it.  Don’t be ashamed.  We’ve ALL done it at least once in our lives. 

But last night, I think I stooped to a new low.

I felt like a phone sex operator….and I wasn’t getting paid.

I’ll admit, when my usual NSA (no strings attached) texted me earlier in the evening and started talking naughty, I couldn’t wait to have a little phone sex with him.  He was talking all kinds of stuff – tying me up, spanking me, using his tongue in places that are not mentionable in polite company.

Yummy!

But then I picked up the kids.  I ate a Subway sandwich for dinner and it didn’t agree with me, at all.  At all.

I definitely wasn’t feeling like any phone sex after eating my weight in Tums and fighting with the kids to take a shower and get into bed.

But, I had already promised.  And I don’t like to back out of my promises.

So, after the kids finally got to bed I called him.

And I totally phoned it in. 

I made all the right noises and said all the right words.  I talked sexy and dirty and hmmmm’d and ahhhh’d. 

I did all this while fully clothed and picking out my and the boys’ clothes for tomorrow.

Yes, I totally faked an orgasm on the phone.

He didn’t fake his 🙂

I have phone sex with this gentleman at least once a week.  It’s always enjoyable.  I like it because I never have to worry if I’m making stupid faces or my one-ab doesn’t look sexy in that light or that position.  I can just let go and totally enjoy myself.

But it just wasn’t happening last night.

I take solace in the fact that I don’t normally do this.  This was a one off deal, I hope! 🙂 

But I feel a little guilty that I did phone it in….but not enough that I wouldn’t do the same thing again.

Tums, kids and showers a romantic scene do not make.

Here’s to it being better the next time….and I’ll accept my Oscar whenever the Academy decides to call!