It’s funny when you’re children are young and you are pulling out your hair trying to do the right thing, make the right decisions, make everyone somewhat happy and losing yourself in the process; (take a deep breath) you kind of can’t wait for everyone to become more independent and/or less needy of you. Grammar school seems to take forever to get through no, really, I’m not kidding. Then junior high years pass a bit faster. Next thing you know it’s time for high school and those 4 years simply fly by. It’s really amazing and crazy all at the same time.
Alyssa went through college without much of a peep of a complaint. She just did her work and projects and even held down internships without a complaint. Alyssa made sure she completed college in 4 years to earn her bachelors degree. After that she was so so done with school. Sam proposed that summer and by March of 2021 they were married and off on their own.
My Lelly graduated high school 6 months early, began college early and worked so diligently to graduate from college an entire semester early with her bachelors degree. At the age of 21 she was ready to move out on her own to Manhattan. Which she did this past September. Bam, she was out of here.
I miss them. I miss them as the young adults they are now. I really don’t miss the younger years as I’ve pointed out in many a blog post, but I miss the fun and laughs we would have before Alyssa and Lelly moved out. I know they had to leave. Alyssa to start her new life with Sam and Lelly to start her life that she’s been ready to start since she was a young child. She’s always been a runner and eager to move to the next milestone or life event.
I know they still need me, I still need my mom. I know they both left with love in their hearts. When Tommy and I moved Lelly in to her apartment, Lelly and I cried and cried as we unpacked her things and I cried the whole way back home. I never imagined I would have reacted that way. It goes to show how your emotions take over.
Sam and I are off this week, her from school and me from work for February break for NYC public schools. Someone is bored and it’s not me. With Sam wanting to “do something” I’m taken back to when all my kids were younger and I had to come up with ways to entertain them when they weren’t in school. It was hard man! Honestly I used to curse the February break like it was brought by the devil himself. I mean didn’t they just have off for the winter break??
During one school break, it was warm out; Thomas, Alyssa and Lelly were young, like grammar school ages. Sam was a baby. I told everyone we would go to the local children’s museum here since it had a lot of different things for the kids to do. As I was driving and approached the children’s museum I felt like I was going to stick a fork in my eye if I had to go there one more time. So I kept driving and asked the kids if they wanted to go on a boat. I drove straight to the ferry. We already had lunch packed for the museum so we boarded the ferry and off to Manhattan we went! We ended up in Battery Park right downtown. There was a park with swings, jungle gym, huge blocks to climb, etc… (That park isn’t there anymore). It was so much fun. Who was pushing who on the swings, there wasn’t any fighting; Alyssa was climbing the blocks… And there was an ice cream truck right there, so we all had ice cream. I had such a nice day with my kids; all of them together.
We went to Manhattan a few more times like that, just jumped on the ferry. Sometimes we would get McDonalds for lunch and eat in Battery Park. It was such a great diversion from the usual frenzy. One day we walked further into the park a discovered a water park where sprinklers appeared from the ground shooting water up at the kids. It was great! Who cares if they got wet it was only water. After we played in the water there were street performers doing flips in the air. Good times.
Sometimes I miss that spontaneity. I should be more spontaneous in my outings with Sam since it’s only the two of us when Tommy is working. I’ve become a creature of habit and after working all week out of the house, I want to be in my house when I’m off. Or only go out for a little while, like to the Sal Val or mall or wherever. There’s still time to be spontaneous; we have a few days left in the break. Maybe.
I’m a strong believer of telling people how I feel in the moment. Especially expressing the good I see in that person. There are too many wasted moments when a person is alive and will appreciate what you have to say, rather than standing around at their wake/funeral saying all these great things about the now dead person. It’s too late then.
I remember the last years of my father’s life. I told him I loved him every chance I had. After every phone call and when I left him after a visit. It didn’t seem like I could say it enough even though I knew he knew I loved him. We do the same with our children. Not one leaves our presence without our saying I love you to them. I always say I love you to my mom whenever I say goodbye whether it be on the phone or in person.
I really appreciate my mom. She may already know this but it’s always nice to hear/read it. She’s an educated, strong woman who is an awesome nurse. She was told while in high school that she wasn’t smart enough to go to college. This was in the 1960’s. So she married my dad, worked for the “phone company,” had her children and after my younger sister became around 4 years old, she went to work full time (retail no less). Mom also began attending college full time to become what she always wanted to be; a registered nurse. Mom didn’t stop at her associates degree. While working full time as an RN, she went back to school and earned her BSN. After earning her bachelors degree Mom went on for her Masters in nursing education. Pretty damn good for a woman who wasn’t college material. She didn’t stop there; my mom then became a nurse practitioner. After becoming an NP she was finished with “school”.
Why am I writing this? Because I’m proud of my mom and I want her to know this now when she’s alive; not telling her story in a eulogy one day to other people. My point is let people know how you feel about them when you can say it in person to their face. Too shy? Write a letter, send a card. Just tell them.
My husband and I have known each other since we met at 15 years old. I remember him sitting down. I was standing in front of him. He looked up at me with those green eyes and I felt as though I was struck by something; that dark hair with longish curls, olive toned skin and green eyes. He never believed anyone who told him he was a good looking guy. Tommy started attending the same high school as me but between the time we met and him starting school I had colored my hair. I went from light brown to very light blonde hair. So he’s asking around school for me not believing anyone who said, “Oh yeah, I know Menay, she’s the blonde.” It wasn’t until his best friend kind of shook him and said yes that’s her! I always smile at that story. To this day I still color my hair often. Tommy jokes and says he could run out for milk and he’ll come home to me with different colored hair. It’s kind of not a joke.
We began seeing each other at age 17 ish. We had typical teen angst and drama and broke up for short periods of time. I was always devastated. The drama! My co workers at the auto parts store were soooo sensitive and would tell me I was “back on the meat rack” during a break up. Finally we stopped the shit. I began nursing school, finally I was serious about my major. I never thought about us being engaged, I never gave him an ultimatum or brought up getting married. Tommy proposed when I was a year into the nursing program. Anyone who’s been through the type of program such as nursing knows how tough it is, how it takes over your life and all you do is study, attend clinical and take tests. Yet, he still proposed.
My husband is really a nice guy. He’s been a phenomenal provider for us. Especially when I was home with the kids. I couldn’t work much anyway. Thomas was a handful and a half plus our parents worked so we decided I would be home. I had a couple of part time jobs here and there but nothing big. I can’t say I totally enjoyed being a stay at home mom, but I am grateful I was there for my kids in that way when they were young. I was able to run Thomas to various multiple specialists and on the other side of my life; go on class trips with the girls.
He’s a great dad, great listener and great with giving advice. He gets to know people well and has some of the same friends from high school. He has witnessed me give birth 4 times and was there when I miscarried twice. Tommy has the best sense of humor, he’s made me smile when all I wanted to do is cry. He has made me laugh during the most stressful times of our marriage. Even when Thomas was in residential school. Was it always appropriate? Hell no, but it was between us and we laughed so we wouldn’t always cry. I can’t imagine being with someone who didn’t make me laugh. Tommy has been making me laugh since we were first friends oh so many years ago. Now 26 married years later he still has those amazing eyes, dark hair and olive skin, and omg that sense of humor.
I always thought Thomas was our most complicated child. We didn’t get a solid diagnosis for him until he was around 6 years old when he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He had things he was treated for such as speech impaired/delayed, muscle hypotonia ( received PT and OT as well as speech therapy) and behavior issues (he would hit me).
It wasn’t until Thomas was 12 years old did an amazing neurologist examine Thomas and all his MRI’s, educational, and developmental reports and come to the conclusion/diagnosis that our son was brain damaged. Static encephalopathy was the official words he used. It means brain damage that won’t get worse and won’t get better. It was a difficult reality to accept after all the years of basically not knowing anything official. Professionals would ask me why I wanted a diagnosis so bad? That they were treating what was wrong…. At the time I wanted to scream in frustration. A diagnosis puts a name to what is wrong, something to research, something you could “touch”. It’s hard to explain.
It’s now years later and we made the best and most difficult decisions I thought we would have to make as parents. We went through a terrible season and came through with God’s help. Now it’s a different child with challenging issues. This child is not special needs like Thomas. This child is a typical young woman for the most part. However she needs us as parents in a different way than the others, needs us to make difficult decisions and choices and be her advocate. I always thought after Thomas the rest of my kids would be smooth sailing. I was so wrong. Being a mom you’re never “done.” Stuff just keeps on coming.
Let me preface this post with: I’m fine. I had my yearly mammogram which yes is totally IMO necessary, and uncomfortable at best. At times I find it painful, not like I’m going to pass out painful but enough that I’m like ok that’s enough. I’m done. So at the end of December I had my annual mammogram; and I was called me back for additional diagnostic images. Well that was a sucky feeling, the worry that “they found something” and it wasn’t good. I made the follow up appointment for this morning. Turns out as per my union contract I am allowed 4 hours paid for preventative health care such as a mammogram. Go union! So anyway, I’m waiting all month for this appointment. To be honest I put it out of my mind and didn’t think about it until this past Friday.
Briefly here and there I thought about the appointment during the weekend. Sunday was mainly consumed by Thomas’ talking and taking him shopping for new sneakers. My guy wanted Nike Jordan’s. Since Thomas will wear the death out of things he likes, he got the Jordan’s. They’re really cool, Thomas has great taste.
So I go to work yesterday, we were busy as usual so I didn’t think about the appointment until I was leaving for the day. That’s when I began to get nervous. We ate dinner and I camped out on the couch watching television; which I really don’t do often. Well watching television and text fighting with Sam over her NOT dying her hair wild colors. You can guess which side I was on. This morning I was up stupid early, like 5:30. I’m usually up at 5 ish for work. My appointment was for 7:45 am, so 5:30 was stupid early. Tommy took the day off for me, he’s great.
We get there on time, I’m called to go in on time (impressive) and all the testing and results were completed in an hour. Like I said I’m fine. The tests were read by a physician at the radiology center and told to me at once. I really can’t complain. Effin mammograms.
I’ve written another email. I might be on a roll. This time it was to the current Pastor of the church I was a member of and used to attend. I’ve rescinded my membership. The Pastor responded much in the way I thought he would. Telling me that my family has been distant from the church (true) and that we’ve been prayed for, they’ve grieved the distance between me and my church family and we have been ministered to but they have disappointed us (?). I didn’t even give an inkling of such. I found the response to my email a bit self depreciating with a sprinkle of hopeful guilt trip. I expected better to be honest.
When I joined this church I was well aware of how conservative they are as a whole. And to some extent I agreed with most of their stances. However I have changed in a way that I can no longer shadow my beliefs. Of course if I were to express those beliefs to the formerly attended church I would be gently told how wrong I am and proven so by extensive quotation of scripture from the Bible. God is perfect, sovereign, all knowing, and does not make mistakes. Even when someone is living a life deemed sinful by those who live a conservative Christian life (such as LGBTQ persons), I find it extremely difficult to believe that God in his infinite wisdom has made an error in creating people who are born a certain way to live their entire lives committing sin which is displeasing to God. It doesn’t make sense to me.
I’m also pro choice. (Gasp!) What I’m writing is not meant to be controversial or challenging. This is my blog and my thoughts. And as much as I may love you, no one will change my mind. We all have solid reasons for how we feel. I’m in no way turning my back on God or feel anger towards God because I’m not getting my way in life. I’m grateful to Him. Without God’s presence and ever so wise guidance I would not be where I am today in my personal or professional life. Jesus Christ remains my Savior. To Him I owe it all.
When I was younger; like registering to vote young; I considered myself not so conservative; pretty liberal but not too liberal. I had a sheltered, young, middle class woman view of the world. At the ripe age of 18 I had a job and was well versed in having taxes being taken out of my paycheck. I didn’t like it but I knew that’s the way things were. Fast forward to me graduating nursing school, my first “real” job and I learned very quickly the value of employment with health benefits. I also learned about welfare and Medicaid/Medicare and where the tax money that was taken out of my hard earned check was going as per our government.
Tommy and I were married and expecting Thomas. After a couple of months and many years of therapies, evaluations, MRI’s, etc… we found that Thomas was special needs. Rarely to never did we not pay for anything ourselves out of pocket or we used our employer provided health insurance for services or doctor/specialist appointments for Thomas. We didn’t know any other way. Until I was told about the Medicaid Waiver program for people with special needs. With the Waiver the government waives the income of the parents and the disabled child/person is eligible for Medicaid health insurance as well as services to help the special needs child. One service we had through the waiver program was a very dedicated woman named Debbie who came every week to my house to work with Thomas on things such as going to stores in the neighborhood, using money, crossing streets safely, etc.. And she would take all my other kids with her. Debbie was one of a kind. Everyone, especially small businesses on Forest Ave knew Debbie and my kids.
You see when you have a special needs child every freaking thing is a secret. And you have to hook up with other special needs parents to find things out. Or spend a lot of your life on the phone or computer going from one resource to another to discover what is are out there. I did a combination of both. I spent a lot of time on the phone and then discovered a priceless online community of moms who’s children were similarly diagnosed like Thomas. Thomas was the youngest of “our” children when he was 6 years old. I learned so much from these incredible women from all over the country. We are fortunate to live a ferry’s ride away from the greatest city on earth so finding doctors who are specialists in Manhattan wasn’t difficult. It’s the day to day living you need the most support for and that’s what these women did for me. They listened to vents, gave praises to doctors and therapist who “got it,” provided invaluable IEP meeting advice and did not judge.
I wouldn’t want to relive those years with my son, things were so so hard. But…I have learned so much from my wonderful friends. That nothing is as it seems on the outside, my favorite: “Normal is just a setting on your clothes dryer,” that everyone has shit they are going through. And most of all, try to be the person you wish you had when you see someone where you once were. A lot of times they won’t listen at first but you can always plant a seed.
I can honestly say I’ve not knowingly or intentionally burned a bridge or irreversibly ended a relationship especially a professional relationship. Until now. A trusted specialist physician I was a client of; who does not take insurance; partnered up with a physician of the same expertise; tripled his rates, now requires a credit card on file for payment and has limited his availability to his clients. This was announced over 3 separate emails with a spin on the details as if this was a great, positive change for the clients.
To be honest I was at first appalled at the changes to this physician’s practice. I had received great care from him, he would accept emails or texts for quick questions or clarifications, and always prompt when an appointment was necessary. I would pay out of pocket and submit a claim to our health insurance company and be reimbursed the majority of his fee so being a patient of this practice wasn’t a hardship. However to continue with this practice under the new policies would be a financial hardship. I would no longer be a client of this physician, it’s not just the increase in his fees, it’s the tremendous change in the practice as a whole. To read the new impersonal emails describing the unacceptable new office policies felt insulting and unreal.
So I wrote an email. I specifically stated that I was no longer this physician’s client. I also stated I would be under the care of a physician who provides more personal and individualized care. Essentially I intentionally burned a bridge. I feel bad about that. I’m really not intentionally snarky, but in that email I was.
I’m sitting in the nail salon thankful that I’m able to get my nails done. Thankful for my husband who is my person who sees my good, bad, unreasonable and irrational self; brings me back and loves me anyway. I’m so thankful for my kids, my family and my friends. I have a small circle of friends I consider like family who are essentially the most loyal non blood related to me; people on this earth. You know the ones; you don’t speak often enough or on a regular basis but when the shit hits the fan there they are. I’m so very thankful.
I was fortunate that I saw all my children plus son in law yesterday, the brand new start of the New Year. Lelly, my Sam and Thomas stayed for dinner while Alyssa and her husband Sam went to his grandparents for dinner. I’m thankful that Thomas is doing well in his group home and that he has a wonderful nurse who oversees the group home residents, and is on top of his meds and the long term side effects. Her name is Peggy and she never hesitates to keep me informed of all things Thomas.
Tommy and I drove my Lelly to her home in the city on the upper east side. She had a heavy jacket and other things to bring back and for her to commute taking public transportation would have been too much. We had a nice ride and when we arrived at her home we went up to see the apartment. Leaving her was still difficult. I hugged her for what seemed forever. Poor kid stood there waiting for me to let go. I’m glad she’s good natured and loves me enough to let me hug her for as long as I want.
My Sam is doing well. I’m thankful she and I are close. I listen to her and I’m grateful that most times she listens to me. I know she trusts me and I don’t take that trust lightly. We both were off (her from school and me from work) for Winter break this past week. We had good quality time together. We both return to our realities tomorrow. And that’s ok. I’m ready to go back- I say that now, haha.
It was really nice to see Alyssa and Sam even if for a little while. Alyssa and Lelly took the ride to go pick up Thomas and they were all funny together in the car. Thomas gets dramatic when he tells us something going on in his life and the girls are so used to his drama we’re all like, “ Okay Thomas: We get it!” Or if he is causing trouble in his house or day program I’m always saying, “Stop! I didn’t raise you to act that way so cut the crap!” Alyssa is such a great big sister to everyone. She’s sweet and honest and never hesitates to stick up for a sibling. I’m very thankful she grew into the person that she is.
So think about things and be thankful. We all have shit in our lives that can cloud the good, but the good is still there you just have to look a little harder to see it.