The Hillhouse

The Journey of a Mother and Son

Stop, Go November 17, 2013

At first her tone sounded potentially cheerful, ‘upbeat polite’, I suppose one might say. Having just had her son over for an afternoon playdate, I listened expectantly for a thank-you, an invitation for future such dates or some such gesture of routine civility. But within a micro second I heard the tone change, and after a slightly hesitant preamble, it came. The verbal cease and desist order. And then, abruptly, a hangup. Holy crap. I had not seen anything like this coming. My body flooded with a dull, sick feeling. And then, in another wave, came the cold shot of adrenaline. It reminded me of the way I’d felt in the wake of the flipper’s news that soon there’d be a house at the foot of our driveway. But worse. This was the mother of a child my son would likely spend the next eight years in a classroom with. And these kids really, really like each other. Oh no. A terrible, nauseous feeling began to grow in my stomach. It was nearing midnight when I heard the message. Sleeping pill or not, this would likely be a horrible night of sleep, and some unpleasant dreams were surely ahead.

In my past life as part of the public school community, my blog and its contents were never an issue. A casual mention of a classmate or pal perhaps accompanied by a pic wasn’t seen as something invasive or threatening; in fact, just about the opposite. It was a social thing, a bright and cheerful pause in one’s day, an online photo album for sharing. Granted, in the past year I’ve become aware how very different the feelings are in our insular community at Elihu’s new school, and I understand the stance on media in general, but I truly never worried – or even thought twice – about any controversy or disapproval over including my son’s classmates in brief mentions. Cameo roles and passing comments, smiling group shots or occasional close-ups of childhood moments hardly seemed threatening. But I do realize it’s a parent’s right to opt not to have their child’s image or information posted on an international bulletin board. Me, I’m fairly transparent, as readers will know. I kinda feel like you’re either pregnant or you’re not. Some information is already out there, irretrievably so, for the eons. You’ve already jumped in the pool, like it or not, so why not enjoy the water? But I suppose there’s the other side too – why give folks more information if there’s only a modest amount out there to begin with? Having one’s data on an insurance form (never mind the folks that list has been sold to) isn’t quite the same as the smiling countenance of one’s child shining as a beacon for all to see. (For a moment I consider the fear that indigenous people have about the camera stealing their souls. Could this be it? I laugh to myself.) I still don’t feel the threat personally, but I concede that I just might be missing something.

Anyway, I get it. And in an instant I was piloting my eight year old G4 thru all the fixes and retractions that I could find. At first I didn’t see much of anything – no name associated with his picture directly – and found his name mentioned only three times. But I changed the text right away. Deleted the pics too, although I did so with some sadness, as the joy just radiated off the screen. Really? I thought. I pondered at the threat these posed; was I putting the two of us in harm’s way on the blog? What wasn’t I getting here? I just couldn’t see it myself, but it didn’t matter. Keep going, get it all gone. I combed thru till I was satisfied he was gone, then emailed his mom an apology. She’s outwardly an affable person, but I don’t have an exceptional feeling of warmth or connection with her. I think I’ve tried, but granted, everyone’s busy, and most are trying to keep up some measure of professional demeanor on the outside. So I factor that in, and in retrospect I can’t say I’m entirely surprised at the situation. But I’m anxious about things now. Cuz this is our world, and we will live in it side-by-side with this family for a while yet. I just don’t want ill feelings in the air. I don’t need warm and cozy with everyone (although I’ll always try for it!), but I need a level playing field for sure.

Having a blog is a lot like hosting a radio program. You go on doing your thing in one small room, to nobody, for no apparent reason other than to hear your voice in the headphones, crisp and clear and perfectly equalized. It feels like it’s just you; there’s absolutely no evidence that it’s not. Then the phone rings. And once again, you’re almost dumbfounded that it’s not just you, alone there in the room playing music and recounting obscure anecdotes about the songs. You’ve got an audience! Of thousands! And one of em is calling to let you know how much they enjoy what you do! Really?? It’s still humbling and flattering, and of course, that one call (representative of the hundreds of others who aren’t so motivated – or geeky – as to actually call in) establishes for you that you are connected to your human family. You are. To your relief, you’re reminded that you’re not alone. And although it doesn’t happen often, something else also happens every now and again. That one other call. That one person against whom you’ve unwittingly caused offense, the person who for some reason has reacted to your broadcast in just the opposite way from the majority. And of course, since the perceived affront was the last thing on your mind or your agenda, you’re stopped in your tracks for a moment. But then you realize that this is a big planet, and it stands to reason that not everyone will feel the same way about things. So you shake it off. And then you get back to sitting alone at your desk, doing your thing – simply because you enjoy doing it – and hoping that somewhere out there just one other human being is smiling along with you.

Sometimes all you can do in the wake of a mistake or misjudgement is stop and apologize, make right your actions as best you can, and keep on going. And just when you think you know better, you’ll find you don’t. Funny how surprises can still be surprising, even when you know to expect them! I guess it’s all part of the adventure. You can plan all you like, but you can’t be prepared for everything. And life is certainly different in action than it is on paper.

As my son and I are often fond of saying, ‘you never know until you go’.

 

Relief October 16, 2013

Much of today I’ve spent fuming at being told just this morning – by an email I might well have missed (as it’s not something I check more that once a day when I’m super busy) – telling me that Elihu was to be on a plane to Chicago at 6:30 am the next morning. Now I realize that my ex’s dad has been terribly sick lately, and we ourselves have all been sick with worry about him, and I realize this visit is important, but with so little notice it was a major logistic monkey wrench in the week, and it’ll take another month to get back on course. Braces being put in, important lessons in school, butchering rescheduled yet again, a skipped bass lesson, not to mention a classmate’s birthday party missed as well. I’m not cold to the importance of the visit, and I don’t want to appear selfish, but I feel like there should have been a mutual acceptance of said plans first. I knew the idea was out there – but Fareed had said his dad was in ICU where children weren’t allowed, and then he said the fares were too insane to purchase one. Lastly, he said he’d get back. Ok, so he did. With twenty four hours to go before the flight. Not a lot of opportunity for me to say no, not at least without becoming the bad guy. !

First, I should take a breath and at least acknowledge the great relief that washed over me when I heard for myself Riaz’s voice on the phone recently, after so many post-surgery days of respirator, infections and fever. I kinda knew he’d make it, but a tinier voice continued to whisper to me “this is how they all go… admitted for one thing, they end up catching pneumonia and dying of it in the end…” We’ve all heard that story so many times that it’s hard to pretend we haven’t. So to know that he’s keeping alive on his own steam – and improving no less – is great news, and it positively lifts my heart. For as much as my former father-in-law may never see things from my side, he is still that beloved, goofy man I’ve known for so many years. The man with whom I’ve traveled around the world, the man from whom I’ve learned to cook Pakistani food, the man from whom I’ve learned so many things I can’t begin to recount them. A man who’s had a huge role in my life, regardless of the other, less fortunate crap that ended up happening with us all.

When things were dire for him over the past weeks, I began an emergency re-evaluation of how our lives would feel without him. First, I’m just not ready to see my ex experience that kind of heartbreak. I know he’s not my husband anymore, but nonetheless it will be very hard for me to witness his grief when that time comes. While it would be very hard on my son to be sure, my ex husband will be a profoundly changed man when his dad dies. They are two of the same cloth, and I’m sure it will feel like part of himself is gone. And speaking purely about the nuts and bolts of the family businesses, Riaz is the patriarch in charge. So upon his death one day, things will change in a big way. And I myself was not quite up to this big of a change – quite yet. (But is one ever really ready??) To know that Elihu is going to see his grandfather again allows my whole body to relax again. This is a great relief indeed.

So for the next four days Elihu will be with his father and his grandfather. All afternoon he was silly and bouncy, in a cheery mood just to know that soon he’d be with Daddy. And how happy I am for him. What doesn’t make me so happy are the cold starts and immediate goodbyes – the instant change with no time for emotional preparation. Here today, there in a few hours. Oops, sorry I didn’t confirm it with you, but you’ll roll with it, won’t you?... I always do. Friends tell me I’m a doormat to my ex. I say I’m only trying to maintain some feeling of love in the family. It’s not often a two-way street, however. I myself have had so little love or respect from my ex that sometimes I really do feel like being a bitch and just saying ‘no’. But if I back off, take a breath and re-assess things, although it still might piss me off, I’m able to handle the rescheduling and the added stress. Cuz I love my son, and want things to be the best for him.  I know that whatever shit goes down all around, the bottom line is that a child needs his parent, and the parent needs his child. There is no greater feeling of relief than to hold your child firmly within your arms after a long absence. It’s a gift I never want to refrain from giving, no matter how angry I might be. And just as it gives my mother’s heart relief to hold Elihu close, so it also gives my heart relief to know that father and son will be in each other’s arms again soon.

 

Too Big September 10, 2013

So while I may have been feeling a little small and insignificant just two days ago, this evening I find my world so full that I’m hard-pressed to indulge myself in such concerns. I have gone from having virtually no work (perhaps contributing to the feeling of being a bit useless and small) to having almost more than I can handle. It’s kind of a shame that the work doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot of income (not saying it’s not appreciated, but it’s a small wage after taxes), but at the very least the work requires I use my brain, fingers and talent once again, and that certainly has value in of itself. I also get to be near my son, and become more involved with his school. That too is a good thing. My new job is essentially my old one; I’m playing piano for the movement classes at my son’s school. But now I’m playing for the high school as well as the lower school, plus accompanying a folk dance class, monitoring recess and playing for after school chorus too. It’s a position that just opened up all of a sudden, as the gal I’m replacing had family concerns she could no longer put off. And to think just days ago I was swimming in my own time. Not any more. While I’m a bit concerned about how I’ll how manage to get all the ‘regular life’ stuff done now that I’m working (not to mention make an elaborate Halloween costume over the next several weeks), I remember that old adage ‘if you want something done, give it to a busy person’. Today it seems I’ve lived up to it.

I’m almost done. I’ve been through a lot since I got up at six-thirty this morning. In addition to a full day of work (which in these first days ‘back’ is quite challenging for me as I’ve never been great at reading music – especially not to tempo and ready to go without much prep) I’ve taken my son to the dentist, dropped some donations off at a shelter, done the usual run of housework (dishes in particular are going to be tricky to stay on top of with a ‘real’ work schedule), practiced the piano for a good hour, assisted with homework, made supper plus picked apples from our trees, baked a pie with em, got the chickens in, eggs collected, washed and put in cartons. Makin a gun with my fingers and blowing away the imaginary smoke… Now one final pile of laundry sits on the bed. I got enough in me to see that through. Cuz I aint gonna to be this close and not finish the job. Yeah, my life suddenly got a whole lot bigger, and my personal sphere of influence is definitely larger than it was the day before yesterday.

On Sunday, Elihu and I went on a tour of some local water gardens. Having just added a little pond to our own homestead, we thought it might be fun to see what other folks had done. The tour was self-directed; we started at a neighboring town’s historical society and were given a map. We then made our way to the ponds and watergardens on the list at our own pace. The weather was of that lovely late summer, early fall sort…. sunny and warm with a chill at the end of the breeze. We lingered at each site, chatting with the owners, admiring their gardens, asking them questions and just enjoying the company of people. The tour culminated in a barbecue. It was a fun day, but as Elihu’d had a sleepover the night before (and therefore had not truly slept), he was more than tired at the end of our day. We came home and sat on the couch. He got onto my lap and laid his head on my shoulder. He was wiped out. “Carry me into the bedroom?” he asked, in a small voice. I considered it for only the briefest moment, but then realized that I could not. He was too big. Just when did this happen? I can never remember a time when I couldn’t just pick him up and carry him. Hadn’t I been doing this all of his life? I thought back over the past half year or so… I couldn’t put my finger on the last time it was that I carried him. Just which time, I wondered, was the final time? It was hard to believe. We were here at last. Kinda thought it would never come. My son had grown too much for me to carry anymore. He was just too big.

Things change all the time, and all around us, although we can’t always percieve it happening.  Situations weave in and out of each other, resulting in still more change and unforseen consequences… Things that once seemed bad now appear to open up opportunities for good, lean times morph into eras of bounty. The cold of winter becomes the heat of summer in imperceptible increments. You look up one day and wonder where you were while all this change was going on, cuz you don’t quite remember it happening. Yet all of a sudden, you notice that things are different. But that’s ok, you get it. You adjust. Life is just doing what it does, after all. Moving along… And you know that more change is coming, because it always does, at some point. Sometimes the impending change makes you nostalgic, sometimes it can give you the happiest sort of anticipation which nearly bursts from your chest… Either way, and no matter how contrary it may seem in the still of this very moment, you can be sure that things will one day be different. Things once too small will one day become things too big.

 

Lake Day September 3, 2013

We didn’t plan on it, but yesterday we found ourselves headed up north for our fourth annual end-of-summer day in Lake George. We’d planned on a final day in Saratoga, but en route changed our minds. We had a very lovely day – which ended just in time as a tremendous downpour started right after dark. We made it home through a raging rain, and after a brief recapping of our day and some last-minute, late-night roughhousing, we got into bed on the final non-school night of summer vacation.

Lake George Dept 2013 346Things started off in an interesting way as I saw a young man holding this sign at the side of the highway… (poor guy left his sign in our car. Oops.)

Lake George Dept 2013 003Here was some mother’s kid! And he needed a ride! I pulled over without thinking twice. Think what you will, he was smiling and just had a good feeling about him. What if this were my kid??

Lake George Dept 2013 007Elihu’s working his magic and cracking up our new friend Harrison (who by the way, was also a Waldorf kid. How crazy is that?) We had a short but very enjoyable ride with this young man. We wish him all the best and will be sending him our good thoughts as he continues his adventure (all the way to the west coast perhaps. !)

Lake George Dept 2013 008Good kid. I just hope he calls home to tell his supportive parents how things are going.

Lake George Dept 2013 020Didn’t feel quite right just leaving him there, but I guess that’s the idea. Good luck, Harrison!

Lake George Dept 2013 027We didn’t plan on this either, but a boat was just leaving, and the captain invited us along – why not?

Lake George Dept 2013 054Enjoying the northward view after a little picnic.

Lake George Dept 2013 061How the other half lives. The elegant Sagamore Hotel on Lake George.

Lake George Dept 2013 068Quite a spread. It resides on a small peninsula.

Lake George Dept 2013 092Perfect day for us. I love cloudy days, and they help Elihu to see better.

Lake George Dept 2013 079Dome Island. Public access. Maybe we’ll explore it one day. Never know.

Lake George Dept 2013 073More of the same, but it really gives a good feel for the day.

Lake George Dept 2013 072Parasailing – we’ll get to this one day too, I hope.

Lake George Dept 2013 096Cap’n Ed invited us into the wheelhouse. Once again, lil man is making em laugh.

Lake George Dept 2013 103I spent some time at the wheel too. Reminded me of the time I drove the multi-level tourist boat on Lake Como. Fareed grabbed the mic and began to announce the stops in Italian. A drunk captain just looked on and smiled. Another time, and another country to be sure. But this was fun and laid back too. (Probably a tad safer as well. !)

Lake George Dept 2013 112Now Elihu gets a turn. We both enjoyed telling Ed – after Elihu’s turn at the wheel – that he was legally blind. !!

Lake George Dept 2013 114He did really well. Yay!

Lake George Dept 2013 128We liked this scrolling map.

Lake George Dept 2013 139Ed took Elihu up to the private room on the top level for a look down below at the dance floor. Many weddings have happened here.  (And many drunken “Titanic” moments have happened on the bow, too.)

Lake George Dept 2013 144We shared the ride with very few people. It was a friendly bunch.

Lake George Dept 2013 154Passing the steam-powered, paddle wheel Minne Ha Ha. We rode on this last summer.

Lake George Dept 2013 169Pulling into the dock. Always interesting to watch. An impressive feat.

Lake George Dept 2013 184Now it’s on the the arcade. Funny, but this flying game blew Elihu’s mind last year and changed his life. Now, months after the introduction of Wii into our home, this is very old-school and he didn’t care to play it twice.

Lake George Dept 2013 187He ran outside when we ran out of cash. Made a little bit more, then dashed back inside….

Lake George Dept 2013 190to the kid-friendly gambling device. ! Elihu has new appreciation for the power of an addiction.

Lake George Dept 2013 213The sun came out and we were able to get a good look at the Adirondac – the boat we’d just been in (and driven.) The glass enclosure at the top right is the room from which Elihu and Ed were looking down onto to the dance floor.

Lake George Dept 2013 201Here’s where we passed the next hour. A beautiful, densely-planted garden in its late-summer glory. (The boat behind.)

Lake George Dept 2013 196Elihu was following the sound of grasshoppers and crickets.

Lake George Dept 2013 195He did find an insect making its sound – he described in detail the movements it was making, but when he tried his luck with the camera, it didn’t appear. Easy to hear – a real challenge to locate visually – by anyone, sighted or low-vision.

Lake George Dept 2013 200Elihu’s world is mostly an up-close one. Nice shot sweetie!

Lake George Dept 2013 258We love this door.

Lake George Dept 2013 255Elihu is showing the ‘Peace Officer’ how he can keep the peace with his Ben 10 omnitrix watch. He surprised them when he shot out a flying disc.

Lake George Dept 2013 268Now on to supper. We follow a cozy, European-esque alley way to our favorite place.

Lake George Dept 2013 266Here we are! Even got our favorite corner table on the railing!

Lake George Dept 2013 284Tomorrow it might be ramen again, but one night a year it’s lobster and clams! (We learned a very important and expensive lesson this meal: always ask if the lobster is fresh. And it it’s a tail, it’s likely been frozen. Never before have we ever tasted such bad lobster. A great disappointment. But Elihu was good about it. Poopie!)

Lake George Dept 2013 300So much for a serious picture.

Lake George Dept 2013 274So we hit the bathroom. I’m thinking about a post that’s been making the FB rounds… Handwritten on a wall is a picture of this message: Things I Hate 1) Vandalism 2) Irony 3) Lists. No sooner had I thought of it, when I thought that Elihu and I should add our names to the ones on the wall in a commemoration of sorts to our day. My eyes landed – at that very thought – on this spot on the wall. It was our mark from last year’s trip. !! I told Elihu about the Facebook post, and naturally he cracked up.  Then I showed him this. Be both knew what we had to do…

Lake George Dept 2013 281Add to it!  (That’s a jumping frog. Elihu says it was hard to draw on the wall surface, plus I used a flash once and it screwed him up. So if the frog is off, it’s my bad. That soured the mood for a bit. Yeeps.)

Lake George Dept 2013 312But not to worry, the mood will soon be a happy one. It starts like this – just one dinner roll does the trick. (That, and a certain, special gift.)

Lake George Dept 2013 318He got her! But she’s a wild duck, and very strong. She knocked the glasses clear off his head.

Lake George Dept 2013 324Calmed down now. Aah.

Lake George Dept 2013 335Now to share the experience.

Lake George Dept 2013 345We drove home in a hard-pouring rain. Usually the road is covered in frogs. We hardly saw one the whole trip (maybe too much rain!) We made an extra detour down a country road and found this guy. He’s in our pond now. For Elihu, this was just the very best end possible to a very wonderful day.

 

Age Appropriate June 9, 2013

Years ago, when I lived in Chicago and rode the train nearly everywhere, I’d always make sure to get a seat that allowed me to put my feet up and rest them on a bench perpendicular to me. If I couldn’t find that sweet spot, at the very least I’d hunker down and prop my knees up on the back of the seat ahead of me. I remember getting on the train with Elihu once, when he was still tiny and in his stroller, and very naturally doing the same thing as I always had. And this surprised me. Why? Because I’d always just known that one day I’d become a real grown up. And how would I know that day had come? When I no longer put my feet up on the seat in front of me, of course! Surely real grown ups don’t behave like that, right? Honestly, I just thought that one day I would ride the train in the normal way, feet planted on the floor. And in that rite-of-passage moment, it would finally become clear to me that I was a fully-fledged, responsible, clear-headed adult. But yet here I was, married, living in the suburbs and shuttling a baby around – and clearly, I still hadn’t made that leap to maturity. That moment surprised me. It had me pausing to reflect more deeply on what it meant to grow up. I’d ticked a bunch of the boxes for sure, but this ‘feet on the seat’ thing had me.

I went back to Chicago year before last. Easily put my feet up on the first available seat I could find. Made myself comfortable. I remembered my self-imposed ‘real grown up’ test of years past and checked back in with myself. Did this feel correct? Did it feel silly? Might I look silly to others doing it? Happily, I felt just fine with my feet up. Still didn’t feel it to look suspicious or titilating on any fronts. I’m going to Chicago in two weeks’ time… I’m a bit curious as to how it’ll feel now. I do look a little older, so maybe it’ll be different. But I’ll be with a ten year old boy – and I think it would look entirely natural to see mom and young son sitting together in the same way. Buddies riding the train. Enjoying childhood and it’s casual freedoms. Fast forward ten years and remove the kid. Then would it still look ok for a sixty year old woman to ride the train in such a posture? Or will I simply be too stiff to sit like that?! (I often wonder if it’s not just physical limitations which dictate what behaviors seem appropriate.) I once watched an eighty year old lady run uphill back to a restaurant to retrieve her purse. I offered to go for her, but she waved me off and started to trot… I was impressed. Had a peer of mine done the same thing, not so much. But go Shirley! Highlights the different standards we hold for each other at different times of our lives. Interesting, huh?

I work at my son’s school in the recess yard. My job is just to keep an eye on the kids, be there in case somebody gets hurt, settle minor disputes, make sure everyone gets a fair turn on the swings. And I do all this just fine, only I can’t help but wonder if I’m not crossing that invisible line that I see most teachers – and adults in general – keeping firmly in place between themselves and littler people. I can’t put a finger on it, but I respond and interact with kids a bit more as if I were a kid myself. I don’t always feel like a teacher or a mom, and my feeling is that the children sense this too. When I was younger, I was known to many as ‘the cool babysitter’. Not sure if that’s cuz I arrived on a motorcycle, because I was in bands, or because I just hung with the kids almost as if a peer. I can’t impress em with a bike these days, but I still enjoy a really good relationship with all of the kids in my life. It’s with no small amount of pride that I can report I’ve been told by several that I’m a ‘cool mom’. (Don’t worry, my kid reminds me I’m not that cool. !) So I have to admit to some mixed feelings about acting as a role model. Somehow a tiny voice inside me wonders if they’d really have me in this post if they knew how much of an ‘un grown-up’ I was. It’s not a real concern though; I do my job and follow the rules. And I know quite definitely that I’m not a kid myself… only I don’t think I’m a grown up either. Hanging out somewhere in between.

When I worked as a jazz singer in my twenties, I lamented that audiences didn’t quite get me. I had this feeling when performing that they just didn’t believe what I was singing. Can’t describe it any better than that, but it was my experience many times over – I wasn’t just pulling the observation out of thin air. It seemed I was too young to be a reliable narrator. The songs conveyed stories of an older, more seasoned and experienced woman than I perhaps appeared. Then some ten years later, as a woman in her mid and late thirties, something changed, and audiences became more accepting, more yeilding. I just felt that they finally believed what it was I was singing about. And I think it had everything to do with my age. Finally, my personage matched the material. How can a twenty four year old girl sing about all the loves she’s lost – or wax sentimental about her years-gone-by love and be taken entirely seriously? If one’s being honest about it, it doesn’t really work. But take a gal who’s been around the block a time or two, and you’re more apt to lend an ear. Oh, how well-seasoned I am now! Somebody, get me a gig! Oh how I’d like to sink my teeth into “Ah the Apple Trees” or “Where Are You” now! Ha! Not a dry eye in the house… For me, I suppose this particular phenomenon is a real marker for aging. While as a sixty year old I might raise eyebrows if I were to put my feet up on a seat in the train – if I instead donned a gown, some false eyelashes and a sparkly cocktail ring and started singing about all the loves I’ve lost – I’d have  a roomful of adults nodding their agreement. Crazy. The dos and don’ts, the things that work and the things we think are taboo.

And that bit about ‘age being just a number’. Yeah, right. I know what the phrase is intended to mean. Yeah, I get that on the inside one feels much the same way all throughout life. Ok. But then one day, in a split second it kinda hits you, that is, if you’re old enough, and you realize that the number of years you’ve been on the planet sounds a lot longer than actually it feels. You do some really easy math and see quite clearly that you’re closer to the far end than you are to the the beginning. But you know that your spirit is still just as bright these days (if not even brighter) and then you think that hey, that’s really too bad, because that stupid number marks you in this culture as diminishing in value, when you know damn well that’s not true! So you comfort yourself by saying, ah phooey, who cares. And maybe you really don’t. If not, you have my deepest respect; you are much closer to your God-self than I! Myself, I know that your age isn’t really ‘just a number’. Your age is a number that helps define you to the world, and to yourself. It’s a quantity, yes, but in our culture it speaks to a certain quality of your life too. Sure, some things improve with age, but let’s be downright honest here. Our bodies certainly don’t. Aging is tricky on a human being. On the knees, the ticker, the skin… the ego. And your number is very much a part of that equation. Alright, so maybe you look and feel pretty good for your number. Enjoy yourself! It aint gonna last forever…

I apologize if I sound dark about this whole aging thing. Just working it out, like everybody else. I am confident that I am not the first person to think any of the thoughts I’ve expressed here. Maybe just the one brave enough to say it all out loud. But just for the record – I’m not entirely bummed with this new chapter. I feel good these days. Granted, I should get yoga back into my life. I should walk a half an hour a day. I should meditate regularly. But on the whole, I’m feeling good about things, gray hairs and all. It’s kinda nice to relax a bit. Not to sweat looking killer every time I go out. Looking good is good enough. And at the end of the day, looking good and feeling good are always age appropriate.

 

Falling Back October 24, 2012

Just too much to do. Although it seems as if I hurry about my errands, chores, jobs and sundry business with head bowed, eyes on my toes, the car door, the wheel, the road… I do in fact look up long enough to notice the trees about me gradually thinning out their leaves. The maples at my place have hardly a leaf left. Only the giant beech has held onto its orange-yellow leaves. And as for the rest of our property, it’s beginning to look barren. So in driving to school, I change my route; I go the longer way ’round so I might enjoy the massive spills of yellow covering the grand lawns of the North Broadway mansions, and I feel some relief that the bright colors of autumn are not entirely gone. But mostly. We’re reaching that time when the silhouette of our environment will be changed for good. Or at least for a good long time.

This is always a densely packed time of the year for us. Each year I make Elihu his own bird costume, and this year he desires to be an exotic and long-extinct flying creature (Quetzalcoatles) and this requires a hefty investment of time. It also takes a good bit of research, a lot of enthusiasm, a bit of cash (don’t ask) plus lots of love and good humor to pull it off. Halloween is next week, in fact there is a party coming up on Sunday, and I must have it all ready by then. Tomorrow is an early morning and a long day. So is Friday. Most nights I find the resolve to pull myself out of bed in the middle of the night and spend an hour or two working on his costume. But tonite I am pooped. I just can’t find it in me.

For that matter, I hardly feel I have it in me to sit and write a quick post. But here I am, checking in, saying hello and hopefully, falling back to my bed again.

 

Call Waiting August 8, 2012

I don’t want to run the risk of embarrassing my son later in his life; relaying the matter on my mind tonight may require some careful use of words, so I will simply say this: he is still ‘challenged’ when it comes to ‘making it through the night’. We continue to earmark a portion of our modest monthly income on disposable paper-based products in order to both lessen my workload (otherwise it would be laundry every single day) and to help maintain his dignity. It’s not something he nor I wish for, but apparently, since my brother also had a similar challenge when he was Elihu’s age, it seems there’s a genetic component in the mix. I do not think my son will enter sixth grade (nor fifth, I hope) with this problem. So I don’t really sweat it. It’s a project we will have to work on together. I’ll do what I can, waking him in the night, helping him to remember the task at hand, helping him to make it routine. That’s my take on it. Elihu’s too. But his father has other ideas.

After a rather cryptic email today from his father, the subject line reading simply “visit with Dr. Mark” he tells me that it was “intense” and that we three should talk soon. ?? I’ve called several times with no answer. So I wait. Wait for the call that will unveil the mystery behind the ‘intense meeting’ with Dr. Mark. I did encourage him to take Elihu to his own family doc if he felt he needed to. I don’t know this Dr. Mark, but that’s not what I’m worried about right now.

I also received another message of concern from my near-ex just last week. Fareed was troubled by Elihu’s continuing ‘problem’ and suggested – in a frighteningly cool tone – that perhaps “we should consider circumcision”, as that would have Elihu paying more attention to “that part of his body”. I was aghast. When I told my mother, she panicked, wondering if Fareed might actually have Elihu undergo such surgery while he was there in Illinois. I certainly don’t think he would even attempt it – and I do not believe it would be allowed to happen without my consent. But still, that shocker of a message followed by today’s email and no still word from him, it all has me a little uneasy.

It’s amazing that a man such as my near-ex, who is in so many ways can appear to be a thoughtful, intelligent and sometimes even loving person, can be such an idiot, and so insensitive. The bladder muscles have nothing to do with the skin of a penis. Causing his child undue, unnecessary pain will not help in this situation. And anyway, we both chose to leave our son the way he was designed. We both knew that the trend to circumcise all baby boys in America without question was a modern phenomenon. Without religious or cultural mandates guiding us, we had no obligation to do so. In fact, as the mother of a son, I felt very strongly that it was my job to advocate for his rights not to be circumcised. I realize that Fareed was born into an era when all baby boys were cut as a matter of routine – but come on! To even suggest this so far into the game – at the age of nine! – and to imply that it will stop bed wetting – all of that is in my eyes simply outrageous. But then again, my almost-ex is the rather spoiled only child of wealthy parents, and he is a musician of mini-star stature in some subcultures. Lots of people know him and think he’s quite a guy; he’s accustomed to having things his way. And apparently, having his son circumcised is the ‘way’ he thinks is best.

I know Elihu’s getting ready for bed right about now. I know that he’s fine, and that he’s probably busy doing something. Reading to himself, or maybe to his baby brothers, maybe taking a bath…. He may even be in bed by now. I hope so. Oh but how I’d like to talk to him once before the day ends. Just to know he’s ok. Poor kid. I hope his dad hasn’t added to the shame and embarrassment he already feels about all this.

All I can do is send him my love. And send quieting, peaceful energy to his dad, so that this might all fade away as just another routine challenge of growing up. Because that’s what it is. Even if tonight doesn’t feel very routine for me.

I hope my beloved Elihu sleeps well tonight. I myself could go to bed much with a much lighter heart if only his dad would pick up the phone…