Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mom's Maple

My friend (and guitar player in my band) gave me this Japanese Maple today. I decided to put it in a pot and train it.

It makes me think of my mom and her fight against Pancreatic Cancer. When I got out the wire and began shaping the branches, the heart just leapt out. I love you, Mama.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Zackary James Stilts

My first baby, 11 days old in 1991.

Parenting is the hardest job I've ever had. The pay is inconsistent and I'm on call twenty four hours a day. The scariest part is the unknown outcome: I have no idea if I will be successful and be promoted, and not a clue whether or not my kids will turn out to be responsible, successful adults.

So far, I have a 20 year old son, a 14 year old daughter, and a 12 year old son.

Zack, my 20 year old, is on his own now and wasn't raised by me. My aunt and uncle adopted him in 1993 when he was 2. Although he came back to me in his teen years, beginning with weekend visits at age 13, we were never really able to repair our relationship. Eventually, my aunt and uncle didn't know what to do with him anymore and he came to live with us when he was 16.
He was a rebellious boy with his own ideas of how he wanted to live. He didn't see what was wrong with partying all the time, nor what the point was with school. After running away several times, we decided to have him go to rehab. He completed his program there and came home with ideas of going to get his GED and finding a job.
Now, three years later, he still doesn't have his GED and he's never had a job. I hear from him occasionally, mostly to ask for help in whatever way but I haven't seen him in a couple of months and have only talked or texted with him a few times. I think about him every day but I know that he needs to find his own way in life. It hurts to see him making the same mistakes I and many of my friends have made, but I am confident that he will grow up and become a man one day.
At least he hasn't made me a grandmother. Yet.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Meadow Bliss

She was so cute! Such a roly-poly chub with a wispy tuft of white-blonde hair. I fought the good fight in so many ways to get her here.

I remember when she started to walk. I wasn't home. I was at work while she waited for me at my "foster" mom's house. Not long after that I commented, "I can't wait until she talks!"


And talk, she did. One of her first words was 'beer.' I can say that and laugh now because she's not using drugs or alcohol. When I first heard it I was torn with a range of emotion from mortification to glee that she was already challenging the status quo. I mean, who can say that the first coherent word she heard out of her daughter's mouth was beer?
I can.

Now Meadow is 14 and still expanding people's belief in what they think is 'normal.'

Now, Meadow is 14 and we fight like cats. A week doesn't go by without a spat. Not usually too serious; it typically ends with me telling her to keep her trap shut followed by a fight for the last word. Tonight was different. Tonight ended with the two of us clinging to one another in the kitchen, crying our eyes out and apologizing.

What is it about mothers and daughters that we have to fight? My favorite school of thought believes that we fight as she is beginning to assert herself in the world...become independent; that if we didn't fight, she wouldn't ever want to leave home. Wait, leave home? Eek!

Meadow doesn't seem to know how deeply I'm affected by these fights. Maybe I don't realize how they affect her. As the adult, I know it's my job to approach every situation calmly and with compassion. As an educated adult who has successfully completed the obstacle course of adolescence, I know that it's normal for my teenaged daughter to feel inexplicably irate at the smallest things. I know that she may be confused by what her compulsion drives her toward and what her heart knows is right.

I also know that we both act out.

It's the ultimate betrayal, right? That our daughters somehow find a way to grow up. They grow boobs and they become women. Primally, another female in the pack presents competition. But what's the competition here?

Lightbulb moment.

Am I jealous that my daughter might be more successful at being a teenager than I ever was? Am I worried that she just might fuck it up? I've actually never thought about that before. Holy shit.

I had a tough adolescence. I ended it at 16 with pregnancy. I was messing with boys much older than me and experimenting with drugs as early as 12.

Meadow, on the other hand, seems to be staying away from this path.
So it seems that, on one hand, I'm jealous that she is taking the right path; on the other, I'm worried that she'll end up doing these things.

Probably the biggest frustration for me is the attitude. I know, I know, it's what teenaged girls do best. Attitude is the new black, right? And hasn't she shown it all along? I mean, she is the girl that, at two years old, said to her preschool teacher, "Jah Rastafari! Don't oppress me!" And then she was busted at another preschool for dropping an F bomb in front of her teacher. Spirited child, indeed.

At the same time, her attitude is one of my favorite things about her. She'll never take any shit from anyone. Including me. Gulp.

Tonight I came home like Pavlov's dog. I was resisting conditioned response as much as I could. James told me around 3 this afternoon that Meadow's grades were slipping. I did some investigating on the school website and discovered at least 12 missing assignments, resulting in an F in at least one class. James was at practice when I got home.

I got through the dinner-making process, calmly talking to Meadow all along. Things escalated a little when the attitude kicked in. And then they escalated a little more. Then BOOM! I lost it. I shouted, no, I screamed at her. I threw her school planner across the room. I was yelling, using foul language, telling her that I was sick and tired of the attitude and the lack of concern over her grades. My tirade lasted about 20 minutes. It left Meadow in tears at the table. At one point she told me that I was scaring her.

I told her to go to her room. Neither of us ate any dinner.

Shaking, I went outside for a smoke before going into my room and collapsing in tears. I laid on my bed thinking about what I'd done. How I'd acted toward my daughter. What a horrible thing. I wanted to go hold her and tell her how very, very sorry I was that I'd blown up like that. But I waited. I was too ashamed. I still am.

After a while I got up and started cleaning the kitchen. Normally the kids are supposed to clean up after dinner but I think I was making a very weak attempt at apologizing for being a monster.

While I was unloading the dishwasher (Meadow's job), Meadow walked into the kitchen and offered to take over. I told her I would do it. She looked at me and told me she was going to go to bed. Then she walked over to give me a hug and I could no longer hold back the tears. They flowed out of us both like a tide of sorrow and forgiveness.

One of Meadow's preschool teachers once told me that you know some huge developmental milestone is swelling inside them when kids start really pushing your limits.

Maybe we're on the verge of something special.

Now, please, before you judge me...think about your own experiences. I've always done the best I could with what I had. We all get pushed past our limits sometimes.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Morning

Two seals and a heron walk into a bar...

Oh, it's Monday. It's morning and I'm really wishing we had another day off. Just one more. In any case, I'm ready to greet the day with a cup of coffee and a smile.

The Dick and Janes had practice yesterday. I'm getting really excited about the songs we're writing. Hopefully we'll be ready to play a show or two this summer. We've been trying to practice twice a week for a few weeks now and we've averaged about one and a half and we've finished one song that's been hanging in the balance. Now there are two more. One that's been a little zygote of a song for probably a year and one that's pretty new. Be watching for shows this summer!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Free Association

Second book in a mediocre series
Trees always make the best eclipse accessory

Why Mother? My mom has had an incredible photograph of a full lunar eclipse framed and hanging in her living room for as long as I can remember. I think a friend of hers shot the photo in the 70s. Amazing.

I'm smiling today. I read a quote that I think we can all learn from:
"I have the right to be angry; but I do not have the right to be cruel."

Sometimes I go into judgment mode when I'm cranky and see something that I disagree with. My goal today is to walk away from those judgments when they creep into my mind.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

It's Raining Babies!!!

So many of my friends are having babies...
Several of my friends have kids under the age of five and at least two friends are pregnant. It's interesting watching the bloom of babies around us, now that my own kids are grown.

We had a baby shower today for our friend, Kriss, who is due next month on the 20th. Lots of fun! Addie and I made a cake...our first attempt at fondant. Making it and using it. There are four layers, with cream cheese frosting and sliced strawberries as filling.
The result was far from professional but turned out so damn cute! Fondant is not very easy to work least not the stuff we made. If I ever use it again, I'll try a different recipe but nothing beats good ol' cream cheese frosting.
I'm exhausted this evening. After working all day yesterday, I went out to Addie's and we stayed up until well after midnight putting togther the layers of the cake. I spent the night out there and was awakened around 6:30 this morning with the worry that I had left my camera on the table downstairs. Conan was up and playing so I ran downstairs to bring my camera up to the guest room. Upon my arrival at the bottom of the stairs I was greeted by a grinning Conan saying, "Aimee!!!!" What a sweet pea that boy is. I just love him! Of course, I went back upstairs and promptly fell asleep for a few more hours.
I'm enjoying life these days. I feel peaceful.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Boom Shackalacka

OK, here it is. Another attempt at blogging. Here we go.

Free association:
Free. What's free? Taking a walk is free. Conversing with Grandma is free. Writing is free. Am I free?
Association. Ass. Ociation. What do I associate writing with? Fingers hold a pencil. Fingers type on a keyboard. Fingers place feathers on a beach to spell out words from the heart. Hands and fingers travel the fretboard of a guitar, spinning a web of music.
Writing memorializes, informs, releases, creates.
I love to write. But most of it goes on inside my head, like the syncopated rhythm that my tiny giraffe dances to. Often never to be rediscovered.