I have a child that has been driving for almost 2 years, a boy. I also have another child with a permit, and will get a driver’s license in July, a girl. She always wants to drive, and I get it … I was 16 once upon a time, too. She’s a very good driver … Actually, she’s such a good driver, that she “kindly” tells me how to drive, at times … yeah, it’s impressive! <insert heavy eye roll>. That being said, why do I have such a hard time handing her the keys, and just letting her drive?! Things would be a lot less “yelly”, if I just gave her the keys, every single time we have a place to go, but I don’t … and if I’m being honest, I won’t. Because after a lot of soul-searching, I have come to the conclusion, that since I cannot control the hands of time, I can control whose hands the keys land in. She has the rest of her life to drive, I only have three months left to be her chauffeur, before getting a car of her own, and ONLY a little over a year, before she graduates high school, and starts her own life. I know it sounds dumb … I know she should be practicing … and she does, just not as much as she wants. Once she has a car of her own, and the “freedom” to come and go, I’m pretty sure she’ll go, more than she comes, and I’m okay with that, at that point in time. I am the person who likes to celebrate growth and milestones, and very much looks forward to a reason to celebrate my children. I try to not be overly sentimental, however, it’s a different set of emotions, that is so unexplainable to parents who haven’t been here yet. Knowing that the time is coming for my older two children to spread their wings and fly, is a lot to handle. As much as parents “look forward” to empty-nesting, it’s a wee bit scary for this mama. I feel secure in how we’ve raised our children, to be great products of society, but have I really done enough?! Will my “life lessons” resonate with them … Will they remember my words when it’s time to make an important decision?! Oh my goodness … Have I done enough?! It’s a scary reality knowing that your kids will be on their own, making grown up decisions, making mistakes, hopefully learning from those mistakes, and growing from them. My daughter has this false sense of reality, that as long as you’re doing the right thing, everything is peachy keen. In a sense, yes it could be, but you never know what bumps in the road could arise, what crazy forks in the road you will come in contact with, and have to make a decision … LEFT or RIGHT?! Have I done enough, have I said enough, have I taught them enough?! At the end of the day, and in my defense (wink wink) … I know she’ll be okay … I have been in the car with her enough, to know that she will be just fine. She thinks she neeeeeds to practice, I know that even with all the practice in the world, it doesn’t stop all the assholes that ARE on the road, and as long as she’s paying attention and doing the right thing, she will be fine.
For now, I’m holding on to the little girl who never wanted to leave my side … the little girl who couldn’t let me leave the house without her being in tow … the little girl that I have a bond with that no one can touch … the little girl who used to sleep in my bed … the little girl who looked at her mama with those green eyes …
… the little girl that I am just having a hard time, letting go!!
It’s the little things, that make a huge difference …
Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose, right?! Right. My “conventional marriage”, was finalized in divorce, at some point in Early 2004. We brought another child into our marriage in July of 2001 … my only full-term baby (that’s right, in 2010, I had another premature child, 6 1/2 weeks early), and even she wanted to be born six weeks early, but doctors were able to stop my contractions .. with a little bed rest, I was able to hold her in until 39 weeks … July 2, 2001, it’s a girl … 6 pounds, 6 ounces, at 6 am … Hmmm … you said a girl, right?! Not the devil?! (Again, I joke … sorta)
My ex-husband started cheating on me in November of 2000 … That’s right … You do the math! Yet, I still fought for what I thought was mine … I lost, but eventually, when I realized he got another person pregnant, I won. I won my freedom from him, back … I no longer had feels for him the way a wife should have for her husband … Soooo …
In January, 2003, I moved my children and I to Hickory, NC. I was no longer a wife. I had a new title: Single mom … with nowhere to go. My mom, and my brother lived there, so it made sense. We spent about 6 years there. I have nothing, but wonderful memories, and few close friends that will be cherished forever. I do believe it was when my older two kids were happiest in life, if I’m being 1,000% honest with myself. It’s also where, for four years, twice a year, my son was injected with botox injections, in both legs, and then casted (to stretch the tendons in his calves and ankles) for 6 weeks, each time. Even though his cerebral palsy only affects the right side of his body, the doctors felt that doing it to both legs, at his age, would give him an “even” feeling. Along with the botox, came extensive, intensive, physical and occupational therapies, 2 – 3 times per week, during these four years, and beyond. I could sit here and list the numerous procedures and therapies my son has had to endure, but I can’t remember them all. There have literally been hundreds, and if anything, I’m under-estimating!
Single mom, 2 kids … my world … not such a bad title to hold.
I seem to have forgotten to mention what exactly caused my son to develop cerebral palsy (CP) … At birth, he suffered a Grade III, out of IV, bleed, on the left side of his brain, affecting the right side of his body. In other words, he had a stroke. Given too much oxygen at birth? Maybe. However, for all the things that SHOULD be wrong with him, he is truly blessed, and a FUCKING MIRACLE!! Through the years, I have seen many kids born at 26, 27, 32 weeks. I have also seen many born at full term, with cerebral palsy, requiring a wheelchair, having no speech or any motor skills … I KNOW HOW LUCKY WE ARE!!! It’s trying to teach a kid with a severe disability, just HOW LUCKY HE IS!! Even though I have ingrained, in my son’s brain, that CAN’T isn’t in his vocabulary, I still struggle with showing him that he fucking CAN!!
He can do anything he wants in life … He may have to work a little harder, but he FUCKING CAN! (He’s almost 19, so I don’t feel bad swearing at this point).
In 2008, I decided that my ex-husband needed to be in our kids lives more. So what does every sane, normal person do?! Oh … I upped, and moved back home to New Jersey, in August. This whole section of life, is a whole other blog! wink wink!
August 2009 … Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia (aka CHOP) …
My son had some testing done at CHOP, to decipher exactly what could be done, surgically, to help aid him in his growing years. You see, it was these tests that clued us in that his right hip was growing in, instead of straight, causing his right leg to be extra tight, shorter than his left leg, and caused him to tippy toe his right foot for many years, walking with an EXTREME limp. What brought me to this point, as his mother?
Mean people! Cruel fucking humans.
Earlier that year, in the Spring, my son wanted to play baseball … a great little athlete, he was (is) … even with his “gimpy limp”. He had (has) an arm on him, like you wouldn’t believe. It’s a damn shame that some people have to be complete, fucking assholes their whole life, and a mother, at that. Being that we were new in town … No one knew that I was his mom. I was so proud of my kid for joining a team, where he hardly knew anyone. The kids were pretty accepting of him … 3rd graders are still sweet! The first time my son was up to bat, he hit the ball … AWESOME! … and as he ran to first base … Cheering him on, I overheard another mom question who my son was … (in my best snotty voice) “Whoooo is that kid?! Isn’t he considered a liability?!”.
NOW, in my best Mama Bear voice, “I’m sorry … WHAT?! BITCH! … THAT is MY kid … He is NOT a liability … he is a fucking miracle, with a heart of gold, and a smile that would melt your cold ass heart! He has cerebral palsy, and has EVERY right to be here, just as much as your perfect little liability, er … son does!”. ((GTFOH!!))
Can you believe the audacity of some people?!
September 21, 2009 … Morristown Memorial Hospital … Surgery Day!
Look at that sweet, sweet face! How could you not fall in love with this kid?! His big brown eyes, super long eyelashes, and a smile that just makes everything okay in the world! Side note: I love his smile so much!!
THIS … was the scariest day of my life. My baby boy was about to endure EIGHT procedures, in EIGHT hours, and while my memory fails me to know the exact terms of each procedure, I can give you the synopsis … Basically, the doctors had to break his hip, rotate it out, put a temporary plate in (which was removed a year later, during another surgery), while it fuses back together, along with lengthening his groin muscle, heel-cord surgery, stunting the growth in his left leg, so his right leg can play catch-up (those tools were called 8 plates, and they too, were also removed, in a separate procedure, once his left leg caught up, about 2 years later) … that’s five … the other three things were minimal. He was supposed to come out of surgery in a body cast, for 6 weeks. It was a last-minute decision, by the orthopedic doctor, to NOT cast his body … Because he knew my son, and he knew it would only hinder his recovery … and he was CORRECT!!
Again … Look at that face … all drugged up, and still has a smile for his mama! GOD, I LOVE THIS KID! So, now that we have gotten through the surgical aspect, now starts the long road to recovery … A full year recovery, and then some. He had to learn how to walk again. “It’ll be a good 12 weeks, before he’s ready to start to walk,” Dr. Rieger said, “However, I decided to not body cast him, in hopes that he may walk sooner.”
And that he did! He walked 6 weeks before he was even supposed to start trying! “YOU ARE FREAKING AMAZING!”, I would tell him time and time again. “There isn’t anything, YOU CAN’T DO!”, would roll off my tongue, over and over. We went through a full year of physical therapy, and unless you knew he had CP, you would never know it. Mission accomplished!
Fast forward to sixth grade … Ahhhhh Middle School!! Difficult transitions to get used to. You’re expected to do more for yourself in school, change classes, etc. When Sean started middle school, we lived in a neighboring town, to where we live now. After the first marking period, his teachers were all telling me that he needed extra help, or maybe he was a resource kid … a kid who needed help in every aspect of school.
WHAT are you people telling me?! I have NEVER had a problem with his schooling, except in 4th grade, but that’s when he had his big surgery, and got a little behind. He was totally fine in 5th grade, when his lowest grade was ONE C, the whole year?! I literally left there in TEARS!! Who the hell wants to hear that their kid is resource material?! NO ONE, but here we were! Because of his cerebral palsy, he was always being tested, and was always “over testing”. They could never find any learning disabilities … EVER!
Other circumstances in my life, caused us to move from that town, to the one I live in now, allowing my son to change schools in the middle of 6th grade. He did okay that year. Seventh grade, we struggled with some bullying and grades … Of course, I thought it was the bullying that was causing his struggle with academics. WRONG! In 8th grade, yes EIGHTH grade … it was his Math teacher, who finally “heard” what he was trying to say. Long story, short, it was found that he had a terrible processing speed. So things that should normally take you a few seconds to answer, would take him a minute or two … or longer … therefore resulting in a documented learning disability. The poor kid was struggling for years, but didn’t manifest, until he had to do things for himself … such as MIDDLE SCHOOL!! I felt like the worst parent ever … for pushing him so hard to do better. His step-father and I really didn’t accept anything, but his best!! To our credit, every teacher, and counselor has told us that if it weren’t for our “push”, he wouldn’t be where he was at that point.
The very first day of 8th grade, he had broken his “bad” leg, in two places, from a little spill on his dirt bike … Here we go again … Getting behind in school, and MONTHS of physical therapy. I remember when Erica, his therapist, asked me what my goal was for him … without hesitation, I said, “I would like to see him run … properly.”
It’s the little things in life, that people without any type of disability take for granted. I had never seen my son run with both arms at his side, pumping back and forth. Instead, the left side worked “properly”, while his right side flailed in the wind. Although cute, he was about to enter the next four years of his life, in high school …
It’s the little things, that make a huge difference, and the day came …
December 18, 2013 … Drayer Physical Therapy, Sparta, NJ
I saw my son run, like a person without CP, for the first time in his life … LIKE A BOSS!
Tears roll down my face, and I’m reminded, we’ve already come so far.
**Good Morning Friends … I have submitted this piece to be a part of a bigger audience, next month. Please cross your fingers and toes, that I’m one of the lucky ones to be chosen to be featured with a Guest Submission on The Ink Owl’s Page … I’ve included the link to their page, so you can check them out, and or submit something of your own!**
The prompt, for the submission, from the page, is as follows:
” I would like submissions to contain an essence of fantasy as well as reflect this prompt”:
“Into the deep I plunge.”
I’ve included that, so my poem, makes more sense, as you read it. Enjoy! As always, constructive criticism, is more than welcome! ;o)
Into the deep I plunge …
The deepest, darkest place
I can find … in my brain,
Yet … nowhere to be found.
The light, the one that once shone
From within, is beckoning to be heard ….
To be seen … to be loved.
Into the deep I plunge,
Happily Ever After…
One step forward,
Two steps back.
I vowed FOREVER!
Is forever now?
The deeper I plunge,
The further I fall …
… into GRACE?! …
A space forgotten by me,
Forgotten by all!
Shame on them, shame on me!
Take me deep …
Keep falling … Hold Me!
Let Me GO! … Take my hand,
Fall with me …..
Into the deep I go …
Where? What? Why? …
… HOW?! …
How have I fallen…
This deep, without letting go?
Further … Slower … Clinching
Oh … I see now … REJOICING!
You never let go …
Into the deep I plunge …
It’s warm … welcoming,
Inviting … I like it here …
For me, it’s writing. This is my passion. Spreading inspiration, creating imagery with words, taking your head to another place, even if for a little while … THAT’S my passion, with four kids, a husband, 6 chickens, 2 bunnies, a dog and a cat … That’s about as passionate as I get, these days … wink wink!!
Recently, I sat with Rocco Costanza, who is a 24-year-old ROCK STAR … well, at least locally, he is, but I promise you, please remember his name, because his talents are certainly going to pay off … maybe sooner than expected. Rocco walked into my house, very confident with his dark Ray Ban Aviators on, his very cool, very stylish ripped jeans, hat on backwards, guitar in hand … ready to sit down and chit-chat. I couldn’t help but to wonder … Was I that confident at 24?!
Immediately, I admired him. Was it the confidence I admired? Yes, but that’s not all. He was polite, respectful, talked to my youngest child as if he knew her forever … a rock star, but better!!
In an earlier blog, I mentioned The Anti-Bully Squad, which was started by a friend of mine and my husband, Tom Peterson, along side Brandon McManus, from the Denver Broncos. Well, Tommy also started another campaign back in 2000, along with an old buddy of his, Kyle Poyer, (small world) who is also from the area, but now resides in Anderson, IN. Together, they have formed something called Rock For Character, and I’m on a mission, to be their voice, so they are heard!!
This campaign is AHHHMAZING! I’m a lover of writing first, but music is a very, very close second place! For me, it’s my get-a-way from LIFE. If I’m in a bad mood, I’m cranking up the tunes, because I know, that at some point while listening, my mood will change. It’s magical. Why is it magical? WHO CARES WHY?! It just is, and that’s all that should matter, because I know that I’m not the only person this happens to.
Me: “What was your favorite elective in elementary school?”
Rocco: “It was music, and gym.”
For me, it was music. I love to sing. I’m a freaking rock star every day in my shower. It’s an AMAZING show, too bad my family are the only ones to have the privilege of listening to SUCH awesomeness! wink wink!
Me: “Why is it important to keep music in schools?”
Rocco: “If music wasn’t in school when I was younger, I wouldn’t have had the desire to sing, and make music.”
He also went on to say that it was his MUSIC TEACHER, who taught him how to play the piano … in school … for free. Did you hear me?! FOR FREE!! Yet, another, rather PHENOMENAL reason, to PLEASE keep music in the schools!
What does this organization do?
They go into the schools. All schools. Elementary through college, and any event you can think of in between. They deliver a VERY clear message, by using music, and singing, to get the attention of the students, and staff. Everyone loves music, or at the very least, they can appreciate good music. Rock For Character, takes a young artist, guitarist, drummer, etc., and they start off by singing an inspirational song, more than likely a cover of a popular song, they already know … so this automatically engages the students. When that song is done, the artist reaches out to the students, and speaks to them in a language they understand. I watched a video of this program. I was instantly inspired. They go on to sing another song, maybe a little riff on the guitar. They inspire some more, by speaking their language. I was so inspired personally, that I have offered to help in ANY way I can, to “relay” this message, the best that I can. So, I’m starting with this blog …
I’m sad to learn that it’s hard to get this program into OUR NJ Schools … I’m actually not sad, I’m freaking mad! Rock For Character (RFC), has no problem booking schools in PA, OH, CT, parts of NY State, and IN. I’m not understanding what the problem is in OUR NJ Schools?! To me, this is a no brainer!!! RFC, has a motto, Keep your character in tune, one string at a time. They also incorporate this six letter acronym (like a guitar has six strings) into their message, P.A.R.T.T.Y., however, not in the way you may think!
Rocco said, “It starts with you, and ends with you.” It starts with your passion, your want and desire to do whatever you want, be whoever you want. They speak about attitude, respect, trust, all things that are very self explanatory. Here’s where they tie in the Anti-Bully Squad, through THOUGHTFULNESS. It makes sense, right? Again, I’m echoing my sentiments in my previous blog, but bullying is getting out of hand, and it seems these children are getting younger and younger, and parents are fighting with schools for help with their depressed kid, and NO ONE IS DOING ANYTHING!!!WTF?!
PLEASE!! Let this organization into our schools! It could save a life. Not only has it been proven that this type of campaign can help to stop bullying, it can also help reach a kid who is thinking about dropping out, smoking tobacco, alcohol and drug abuse, teen pregnancy, violence, and other destructive behaviors or decisions.
Me: “Rocco, what message is it that you, personally, want to convey to the younger audience?”
Rocco: “Be respectful .. be loving .. be happy.”
Hmmm .. Sounds a little familiar to me. Again, echoing the sentiments of my previous blog, be anything, but MEAN!
You can all have the pleasure of seeing Rocco perform, this FRIDAY, JUNE 23rd, at a fundraising event, that a FIFTEEN YEAR OLD freshman, has put together for a classmate, whose family lost their house to a fire last month. It’s being held at Horseshoe Lake, in Roxbury. You can find more info here. Please make sure to also stop by the Rock for Character website to check them out, along with the Anti-Bully Squad.
Everyone here is just trying to do the right thing, and spread the message. Thank you to Tommy Peterson, and Rocco Costanza for swinging by, and having this conversation with me! I appreciate everything you guys are doing!
Me: “Rocco, how important is it to be an honest, thoughtful person?”
Rocco: “HONESTY is huge … from the fans, from the critics … It’s great to be honest, you don’t have to be mean.”
As a person who likes to write, I carry my knowledge of “life” a little differently. I keep certain things on the back burner for “just the right moment” to give a life lesson. Child #2, who is almost 16 (and female), says it best when I have some advice to offer.
She says, “Does everything have to be a life lesson, Mooooommmmm?!!?” Ohhhh how I wish you could hear me imitate her, I’ve pretty much nailed it.
My response, “Why yes, yes it does, because I wish I had someone like ME around, to offer this same advice to me, when I was your age! Now be quiet, and listen!!”
HA! So, since we all know kids hardly ever listen, I’ve decided to write this letter to the person who listens to me the most, HEARS exactly what it is that I’m actually saying, and loves me to the moon and back … yup, you guessed it … MYSELF!!
Dear 18-year-old, ME,
Soon you’ll be graduating high school, the best years of your life … or were they? I know you hear it all the time from your mom, or grand parents, how “these are the best years of your life”, but are they? Do you know what is in store for the next 60+ years? High School is a mere minute, in this thing called life, and I know it’s hard to see past next week, but you have no idea what life will entail exactly, but I do know these things…
STUDY, study hard, because graduating high school, is WAY more important than that party in the woods…
Remember to thank those that taught you, no matter what you think, they never gave up on you….
When you fall, jump back up, because as you get older, you can’t jump quite as quick, both literally and metaphorically…
Those kids that talk shit behind your back, HA! Have no worries about them, Karma most certainly will give them a smack…
Don’t worry about the clothes you wear, people aren’t going to remember if you had clothes from the Thrift Store or The Mall…
You don’t have to drink or do drugs to fit in and be popular, be yourself, and those who matter will love you for you … and trust me, it is very clear, if you open your eyes, who will still be there in 20 years, and who will be gone…
There are more important things in life than your unruly, curly, frizzy hair (ha! who am I kidding, I’m still pissed off about this one, and some things will never change … yet another lesson in life)
That boy who broke your heart, it’s okay, there will be plenty more fish in the sea, and guess what, YOU WILL SURVIVE. You will also get married at a young age, and when he breaks your heart, you will think your life is over. Just know it’s okay, there is a reason, and that reason will make you happy and content for the rest of your life…
That boss who cut your hours? Don’t get mad at him, he needed to give the hours to Susie Noname, because she’s a single mom of two kids, under the age of 3. She needs the money way more than you. Be gracious, be kind, because one day, that WILL be you, and you will be okay.
Your “best” friend just ditched you for other friends, it’s okay … They weren’t your friend to begin with … Your true friends won’t hurt you, ever, not intentionally, of course. Remember, we are all human, and it is okay to make mistakes, it’s never okay to be mean.
You got ditched at the shore, because guys can suck?! It’s okay, the blessing that “saved” you that weekend? She is still in your life at 41, and she’s the one you call your bestest … guess what? She didn’t even go to your school!
That sense of humor that got you kicked out of class?? Don’t ever lose it!! Having a sense of humor will get you through the darkest of times.
Don’t be afraid to speak up for what you believe in! You have every right to have your own thoughts and opinions. Stop trying to please every single person in your life, and worry about making yourself happy!! It’s your life, live it to the fullest.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Those honors students are Honors, for a reason … They are smart, they can help. Just ask. It’s better to get help, than to fail, but if you still fail, it’s okay, you did your best, and gave it your all. Not everyone understands ADHD, but as you get older, you learn how to deal. It will be okay.
That girl who called you fat? She has issues of her own … let it be. Don’t name call back, just try to be a friend, because you DON’T know what goes on at home.
The rest of your life is waiting for you, you’ll be amazed to know that the best is yet to come. Even though life has its ups and downs, twists and turns, the rest of your life is better than this. So don’t fret when Sally Soandso talks shit, or Joe Blow breaks your heart … These are the moments, that make us who we are!!