Beauty School Drop-out

There is something to be said about higher learning. Though I can’t speak on this subject personally, I long to be able to.

I wasn’t able to go to college, but if I had I would have attempted to get a masters in American History with special studies in Native American History & Culture. I find the deep and rich cultural heritage of the Pacific Northwest Indian tribes fascinating, inspiring. Their roots, unlike my own, are steeped in tradition. They have a value of the world around them that is rare and beautiful.

There is something to be said about having a high school diploma/GED. I don’t have any stories for you here either, as I never got my high school diploma or a GED. I’m a drop out.

 

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At what was my second senior year in high school I was part of a gifted/alternative high school program located on our university campus. I had already had several pieces of published writing thanks to the most passionate teachers, as well three paintings that had been on display at the university and then at a local gallery. I had an A in chemistry, English Lit, and had only 2 elective credits left to earn before I would graduate….when I had to drop out to care for my son, who was a tiny and loving one year old. Going to school full time and working part time at $4.10 an hour through a grant was not enough to meet his needs, and I didn’t want to be part of the ‘welfare state of mind’ that was plaguing my growing community. So, I quit school with a heavy heart and got a job, working 60 hours a week when I could to make ends meet. Having to ‘grow up’ at light speed was just life…because my life was no longer my own.

Time moves on with or without us…

Within a few years I met my husband. We married and started our family and the months turned into years. Our oldest children are attending college, and one will (hopefully) make the decision to go this fall. My middle child Jay uses my not graduating from high school as a reason/excuse that perhaps he should not put forth any effort, and drop out. It’s a very personal matter. I find it more of a slap in the face than anything. Not because he says it, but because I know what he will be missing out on. (?) Though I’m aware he could get his GED, or become a successful human being without it, I want to live through him. I want to watch him walk down the isle, collect his diploma, and get his degree in physics, basket weaving…anything. There was a time in the not-so-distant past that I tried to get my GED. I wanted to say to my kids that it was never too late to achieve your goals. I wanted to show them that if you put the effort in to what your dreams are made of that they can become your reality. Alas, I did swimmingly on everything but the math….which I failed by one or two points, every time. And I took that test many times. I was crushed.

*There are so many things we would have done differently in our lives isn’t there?*

If I could do this all over again, I wouldn’t.

The child I had as a teenager is what or rather WHO saved me from overdosing in an alley somewhere. He made me buck up and face life head on, in spite of my fears and struggles, and become a mother in every sense of the word. Do I worry as a result of my lack of formal education? Yes. My husband is the one who provides financially for us. I haven’t had a job in almost 14 years. (They asked where I attended high school rather then where I graduated from so I didn’t have to lie…I’m sure they’ve fixed that by now.) What happens if I suddenly have to become the one to provide? Or if Jay decided to stick to his guns and drop out, how will I change his opinions on this when I’m talking in two different directions?

Writing this post has required a lot of self-exploration, and life-long friends helping me to find perspective. This next part, is in part, because of them…

There was a time I longed more than I can explain to have a high school diploma. Hearing people complain about their homework, internships, graduate degree progress or the lack there of would cause a twinge of pain somewhere inside me. How fortunate they are, I would want to say. It brings up a desire to tell them about myself and say “You are so blessed to able to go to college. Don’t waste it complaining! Make the most of yourself. Go Forth in Knowledge.”

Now, I GET it.

There is far more in my life that I have without a degree than many people have with a lifetime of higher learning. My six degrees of separation are more like two, because I connect on a level with others that those with only a formal education can’t. I have all these beautiful children, a family that is complete because I’m a part of the equation. I am lacking in nothing.

Much like Benjamin Franklin, I have worn/wear many hats…often many in one day. I am a mother, wife, friend/confidante. I make the very best gumbo you will ever taste. I have memorized all the mother goose nursery rhymes I could find and I can hook a trout with the best of them. I am a writer/artist and I have lived. I have lived a life at times that was a struggle to want to be a part of. These struggles have brought me into the lives of people from all walks – who I have given a hand to and held while they cried, people who I cherish, who have helped me grow into the woman I am…compassionate, loyal, accepting. My interpretation of achievement is no longer measured by my desire for student loan debt but rather by the amount of change I make in the lives and hearts of those I love.

So what will I say to my child when he or she talks to me about dropping out now? I don’t know, but I’ve had a wonderful education and I’m sure I’ll have the answer.

 

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Mommyland

Trying to figure out where my extreme case of exhaustion has come from I have decided to reflect on my life as a mom. Is it that I’m older and my body just can’t keep up? Is it my anxiety? My diet? Too much coffee and then too little?

*My 11 month old is crawling all over me, literally. He’s like that little monkey in those museum movies.*

Up to the wee hours with a nursing baby, then time for myself….but in reality it’s just laying awake in bed with the hubby, said baby and a dog at the feet…I couldn’t escape if I wanted to, which by the way I should try to use the restroom one more time before beddy-bye.

Where was I? Oh, exhaustion….

So putting my midnight math skills to good use I have stumbled sleepily upon the following facts —

•I have been a mom for 18 years, 1 month and 22 days.
(Not included is my first pregnancy…because I was woefully yet delightfully clueless.)
•I have been pregnant for a total of 4 years and 2 months.
•I have been a nursing mommy to my teeny humans a grand total of 7 years and 10 months…so far…
•I have been a stay-home mommy for 13 years, non-stop, no give-backs.

•In all this time my hubby and I have spent just one, yes ONE night away from all of our 7 (yes SEVEN!!!!!!!!) kids…in total, EVER. *It.Was.Glorious.*

…And there’s that exhaustion again.

On top of all of this I clean the floors, scrub the toilets, wash the butts and wipe the boogers. I change the babies, bathe the kids, cook (I admit, the hubby cooks more than I these days.) and match socks. I do dishes, and potty-train. I grow gardens of food and flowers, mow and weed…all for everyone else. Never to perfection, but with my all, and always with what is my best.

On nice sunny days there are dog walks, trips to the park. Weekends are fishing.
School days are homework+homework+reading.
There are always sports events for the kids, choir, science fairs and girls scouts. (Not all on the same days, weeks or even months…usually, *yawn*…)

So, with all that math, and my mind wandering off to a quick and needed good night, let me say to all the moms (stay home parents of all kinds) no matter what we deal with in life…I feel yuh! You’re exhausted. You do so much, which is often too much. However!…look at all you accomplish.

For bumps in the night…
Whether sick or well…
We do our jobs…
We change their diapers…
Whether hot or cold…
We play the games…
We read the books….
The love we get back is what keeps us hooked.

Thank you exhaustion. You’ve taught me much…
In this…my little bit of heaven.

Answers

Many many times I have stayed up all night with my children. Sickness, new teeth, heartache and loss. My fondest memories are always of them after they fall asleep. Even now, seemingly unneeded and often feeling unwanted by my son Jay, I peer into his room and for just a moment I watch him sleeping. He’s so calm, not a bit like the teenager I see briefly wander down the hall to and from his junior man-cave.

I have made a lot of mistakes in my life as a parent, and I’d like to think that I have learned from them. I keep reminding myself that this too is merely a season, all be it a really rough one.

Jay has anxiety (GAD). It’s a thorn in his side and an ache in my heart. We butt heads constantly and I am forever trying to reach out, let him know I’m here. His symptoms are so similar to mine at his age, but unlike my mother, I have refused to give up. I will never disown him. I can’t begin to describe what it feels like to be told that I was owned, and then thrown out time and time again….

I was given to a family at around 9 years of age, just down the road from my mom, and my brother. I remember the family very well. Both of their girls were adopted. For the first time since my dad had left I felt whole again. It was for lack of a better word ‘normal’…how I thought a family should be. I know my mom would stop by, usually to start a fight with me, eventually with the mother and then she would disappear again. Then after about six months I was back home – devastated. I remember thinking how bad I must be if they didn’t want me either. Then again at 11. When I was twelve I ran away from our tiny home (or as it was once called ‘the servants quarters’) to the home next door where my friend lived. I stayed there two nights, in her closet. A window in her bedroom faced the walkway to our door. Hearing my dads voice I crawled slowly from the closet floor and listened…

“What the hell is going on?” He said.
“She just wants attention.” My mom growled.
“I don’t have time for this shit, I have a life.” He walked away.

I was right there. Heart broken. Too afraid to say what had happened, what had been done to me as a child, I was frozen in time. Lost. Alone.

I left the closet a few hours later and walked through the alley-ways to my school, terrified I was going to jail… Or possibly to burn in hell. I walked straight into the office. The counselor greeted me. (I had talked with him a few times.) My mom arrived soon after. They disappeared into the back room and I was left toiling over the infinite possibilities for punishment. I knew it would be bad. A door ripped open, and my mom stormed out. She didn’t look at me once. Not even a glance. I was sent to class after I gave the counselor my reason for running away.
I didn’t want to go back. Home wasn’t home for me.

Again I was told I had no right to feel, and that I wasn’t forgiven though I pleaded with her to do so. She told me the school counselor was a fraud, a fake, and stupid. He had told her she was a terrible mother. Her anger grew and I felt this immense need to flee. Run. Anything. She swung at me and I hit her first. I was in shock having never hit anyone other than my brother…which usually led to mutual destruction. She froze. I screamed as loud as I could in her face…

“Don’t ever fucking hit me again! Evvvvverrrr!”
She didn’t.

After a few months of battling with her, watching her turn her anger for me to my brother, I stepped between them so she would stop smacking him, so hard, so loud it sounded like paper ripping, with a wet cloth, cornered behind our front door. Once again I shouted for her to stop. Face red, eyes filled with both rage and fear, she grabbed one of my arms and threw the cloth at us. It was fall, my favorite season. On Thanksgiving day she kicked me out.

This was my childhood, and eventually my brothers, although he seemed to be accepted more as a human being instead of a worthless, dirty piece of trash. I know our mom loves us, and she has taken steps to get help, taking medication for depression (possibly). To this day she stands by the claim that God told her to let me go, that it’s my fault. She has told my son she hates him. She had told me to send my son away.

Through the years, I have asked myself how I could not know I was suffering from Anxiety, OCD, PTSD. Why didn’t I see it. I suppose it’s hard for someone to wonder why I had a family at all. My answer is this –

You can’t know what you don’t know…and I thought, with every bit of pain, every heart beat, every skipped meal, that I was normal. It’s all I knew. It’s all I had.

I have a family because I’m worthy of one, and I love deeply and forever. Unfailing, unfaltering…My little bit of heaven.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…and my family is the most chaotic, loud, beautiful masterpiece I will ever create.

Good Morning to You!!

Good morning minions! The birds are chirping, the kids are sleeping….I know, miracles do happen! Anyway, hello followers!! I’m so excited that you think what I’m writing is of value. I’d love to get to know each of you if that’s ok. I love love love learning about people. My days are spent at home raising kids, so to communicate with adults…yippee!

I’m going to start. Bragging, bitching, broken heart ramblings are all allowed. If you don’t know who you are tell me who you’d like to be! There’s no judgement here. I just want to know you. 💜

Ok…..
I’ve been given the nickname Bits, so that’s what I’ll call myself. I’m a stay home mom. We have three kids that are all grown up and moved out, and four kids at home ranging in ages still-wearing-diapers baby to wrecking-ball teenager. I am a step-parent of our two oldest, but in my heart there isn’t a damn bit of difference. I try to let my kids be what I wasn’t allowed to be…individual, unique. Don’t worry! Not in a Will and Jada sorta way. I just don’t force them to be blonde if they want to be a red head, or violin when they want to run. I’ve been a mom my entire adult life, and when they’re all grown up I will be completely lost in this world! We are transplants to the Midwest from the Pacific Northwest. And no, there are no real mountains here. All trails lead to home so here is where we stayed. I have anxiety, as do two of our kids. Their idea not mine I swear. I’ve been married almost 14 years. Miraculous. My husband is an infantryman, Army. No longer chasing bad guys in foreign lands, he fishes, chases our tiny ranger. He’s got two brand new shiny knees and is the biggest smart ass EVER. He does Facebook…which is on my ‘I hate that shit’ list. He’s my big, cuddly, funny kid. We have two dogs, Moe is our ever present guard on duty, while freckles is well, freckles. Puppy, chewy, naughty, so very loving. I have early onset macular degeneration but I still have eyes in the back of my head so it’s all good! I would love to have more tattoos, but alas, we have kids that need to eat. I have a nose ring, ear piercings and purple hair. I LOVE my purple hair. I am unique, might as well let my social awkwardness fly freely!!! I love writing, coloring, hiking…and back in the day I loved to ski. Now, aware of the danger I avoid it…and there’s no mountains here! Damn it! My favorite painter is Vermeer. I despise selfie sticks. They are all that’s wrong with the world. I curse, which I hate, but try not to. I have a love hate relationship with being at home all day. Mainly because I have no life of my own. While speaking to adults I often use words like ‘tummy’ or ‘ouchie’ or ‘poo poo’…because it’s what I say all day long. I hate spiders. I love to garden. Growing the things that we can sit around and eat together is great therapy! I am a Christian. God has brought me out of more than I will ever say here and now, but rest assured I would not be alive if it were not for His Love and Grace. I don’t push my faith on others, rather choosing my life as an example of who He is. Hence ‘little bit of heaven’…there is always a lesson that can help someone.

I’m not cool and don’t care, but because I can and will..it’s your turn brave followers.
*Mic drop*

A Love of my Own

Das Geschenk eines Childs Liebe

There are very few things in my life that have brought me to my knees. Being a mom is one of them. Whether for the need to praise the Lord, or beg for mercy, I’ve been there…on the ground.

Lately one of our teenagers has really, really been trying. Our personalities clash all the way down to a molecular level and our wants and desires for his life are about as far apart as they could ever be. I say wear pants (because you know, it’s 20′ outside) and he walks by me to the outer realms of his universe wearing what else – basketball shorts. Awesome. His constant desire to be loved has vanished, and he’s got facial hair. What the hell happened while I was loading dishes and slicing apples?

There are many, many, MANY days that I look into my broken mirror and think that perhaps I have failed. I see the wrongs, the mistakes, and so many what ifs. The cracks grow, and I can feel the tears fall. I lock the door. Sitting on our toilet I try to remind myself that there doesn’t always have to be a bad guy. I’m not the bad guy, nor is my son. He’s learning how to be.

Do you remember that taste in your mouth you got when you realized everyone on your bus knew it was picture day except you? Or perhaps you tried to trim your own bangs in 7th grade and there was no turning back from the EPIC failure? Maybe it was more serious, and you were pregnant at 16…. Imagine if all that was on Faceflop, tweeder, instafail…?

My son is not me. He will have his own failings, trials and tribulations. I forget that I didn’t have social media to hound me, belittle me, trash me, and then make me feel ‘likes’ again. Oh the abuse. It’s no wonder the the kid is BEYOND my teen mood swings, my adolescent angst. I could not have survived it if it had been his way. For that I commend him.

Anyway….back to the point of this post….

Through that same broken mirror I am reminded of his love. The way he opened all the doors and cleared the entire sidewalk of branches and pebbles, nuts and leaves…just for me, when I was pregnant with his little sister, each way, every time we walked it. The cracks grow smaller. He is still that little boy. I leave the bathroom, as I remind myself to breathe. This too, shall pass.

As the time passes he will walk into my bedroom. He will grab his baby brother and kiss him sweetly. Baby feeling the stubble on his cheek.
“I love you honey” he says.
The baby growls back, in a language just for him, in understanding, and pulls him close.

I take the moment and place it deep within my heart, for this….this is my little bit of heaven.