Tuesday, June 30, 2015


A good part of anything, my dad always told me, is just showing up.
Even when you are tired.
Even when you are not the best on the team.
Or even when you don't feel like it.
You just show up.
Again and again and again.

And that's pretty much how I have approached parenting.
I'm not that good at it.
I'm not a domestic goddess.
I'm not that organized.
I haven't read that many parenting books.
But I showed up.
Again and again and again.

I showed up at the every day stuff.
Dinner and homework and stories every night.
Laundry and doctors' appointments.
Buying underwear and socks.
Birthday parties.
I showed up.
Again and again and again.

I showed up at school stuff.
Open houses.
Music programs.
Parent teacher conferences.
And IEP meetings.
Discipline meetings.
Projects and summer reading assignments.
I showed up.
Again and again and again.

I showed up at sports stuff.
I sat through a million practices.
Seven-on-seven tournaments
All day track meets.
Games we won and games we lost.
I made a million pans of spaghetti.
And scrubbed dishes at team dinners.
I showed up.
Again and again and again.

And now my son is in the hospital.
This weekend he was saying some really scary stuff.
And I was terrified.
I called the police
and they transported them for a mental health hold.
I sat with him in the Emergency Room.
And for 14 hours on Monday.
I went this morning and he wanted me to leave.
He is mad, mad, mad.
"Why did you call the police?
There's nothing wrong.
I'm going home."
He jumped out of bed
Yanked the tubes out of his arms.
The nurses called security
and sedated him.
Told me they thought
he might sleep
if we left him alone.
So I did.

But my son has been abandoned by one mom.
And he's not going to be abandoned by me.
So tonight I went back.
I stopped and got a cookies and creme milkshake
and took it up there.
He was sitting up in bed when I got there.
"Why did you come?" he asked.

"Because you are my son.
And I love you."

"I want you to go,"
he said after about five minutes.
"I don't want you here."
And so I left.

But I will go again in the morning.
because if nothing else.
I am a person
who shows up.


Peg D said...

What a brave post. I'm glad you got your son help. I'm sorry that you are going through this. God grant you strength. Thoughts and prayers as you go through this together.

wahooliteracyteacher said...

It takes a lot of strength to keep showing up. Your words are so powerful. You and your son are in my thoughts.

Sonja said...

heart wrenching post. beautifully written, and fully felt by this reader. thank you. my thoughts are with you and your son as you continue to show up. keep on keeping on, mama.

Chris said...

You are so strong, Carol. You did the right thing for your son, even if it makes him mad. Hugs and prayers to you.

L Romaine said...

Powerful. You showed up is the main thing.

Linda B said...

I hope this will get the help he needs Carol. Showing up is what moms do, and I hope you read Elisabeth's post tonight. She's writing some things about being mad. I know every person is different, but there may be some words there that will be helpful.

Carol Varsalona said...

Carol, I started reading the poem to my husband out loud because he sometimes has a difficult time with thinking of all the things he needs to do as a parent. When I arrived at the spot that you switched to a deeply personal subject, I thought what a courageous post. May your days of showing up be more than that at this time. May they be the connection to a deeper bonding. I hear you. My son who has mild CP and processing issues has had some rough patches lately. Faith is my guiding post.

elsie said...

Someday he will recognize that you were the one constant part of his life. You stayed when it was hard to stay and be there for this boy of yours that pushes you away. You are one of the strongest women I know. You continue to be in my prayers.

Elisabeth Ellington said...

I felt every word of this. Love how the repetitive structure emphasizes the theme. So much writing craft goes into your slices, Carol. My husband and I talk at least once a week about the likelihood of my son being hospitalized. This is such hard stuff. My son told me a few weeks ago that what has helped him the most is that I keep loving him and never quit on him. What I think he really means is that I keep showing up. And believe me--I know how hard it is to keep showing up after all the pushing away. Sending you love!

Ramona said...

Carol, blessings for your persistence with your son. I'm hopeful that he will get the help he needs. In the meantime, I know that you'll keep showing up . . . blessings and prayers.

Nanc said...

prayers, hugs and are faithful mother, daughter and friend xo nanc

Cathy said...

There's so much truth to that message: life is showing up. Showing up isn't always easy, but you manage to do it "again and again and again." Thinking of you as you work to find the strength to keep showing up.