Saturday, October 31, 2015


Discover. Play. Build.

2015 has been one of the hardest years for me as a mother. A year of poor choices, hospitalizations, car accidents, addiction. I have been slogging through long days of hopelessness, wondering if there would ever be anything good again. This week, there was a glimmer of hope. I read the celebrations on Ruth Ayres' blog almost every week, and decided that this week I would join in.


Thursday night. It has been a long, long week- full, full days followed by nights of parent teacher conferences. Three 13-hour days in a row. I am exhausted. I get home and find Zay's bike on the porch.  He is supposed to be at work. I check the family room. His bedroom. I call him. No answer. I call his brother. He tells me that Zay has a flat tire. He took him to work. I need to pick him up at ten.

I get to King Soopers at 10:01. No Zay. I text him. Five minutes later he comes out. He is with a coworker, about his age. Blonde. They are talking to each other as they walk out the door. Zay has almost no friends right now and I am glad to see him engaged in a conversation with another human being.

He brings him to the passenger side of the car. Before I can roll down the window, he opens the door.

"This is S. He wants to meet you."

He wants to meet me?  Not typical for most of my son's friends, but ok.

Almost as soon as Steffan opens his mouth, my teacher brain kicks into gear. The conversation seems rehearsed, like one I might have in our Center programs classrooms or with a band of fourth graders just learning to speak English.

Autistic? Cognitive delay?

My son has been taking heavy duty medication for the past six weeks. Has talked, at least to me, very little. I do not know if he is in there. I do not know what he knows. I do not know who he is capable of being any more.

S wants Zay to go for pizza. It's right around the corner he tells me. And of course, he will pay for Isaiah's pizza.

I groan. I am so tired. Pizza means at least a half an hour, probably longer.

And yet Zay has been so alone for the last few years.

A friend would be terrific. Maybe  I just need to get used to the fact that friends will no longer be the big hulking football players I am used to. Friends might look different. And that is ok.

I tell them to hurry. I will wait in the car. I pick up my book.

Ten minutes later they are back. No pizza. It is after ten. The pizza place is closed.

Zay bids his friend goodbye and gets in the car.

I don't expect him to say anything. He has been long silent.

"He wants to be my friend," says Zay. "And I see how other people treat him. I'm not going to do that to him. I don't care what other people think."

A tiny window of hope opens in my heart. My guy, the man I thought I was raising, is in there somewhere.

I celebrate.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Poetry Friday

I came across this poem on Parker Palmer's Facebook page. I don't know Grace Butcher, but she reminds me of Mary Oliver, who I love…

"Learning from Trees"
by Grace Butcher

like the trees,
practice dying,
do it every year
just as something we do--
like going on vacation
or celebrating birthdays,
it would become
as easy a part of us
as our hair or clothing.

Someone would show us how
to lie down and fade away
as if in deepest meditation
and we would learn
about the fine dark emptiness
both knowing it and not knowing it
and coming back
would be irrelevant.

Read the rest of the poem here

Jama has the Poetry Friday Roundup. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


I walk up the steps at 7:20 and drop my bag in the entry way.

"Any body home?" I call towards the bedroom.

Son #2 answers immediately. "I fed the dogs," he says.

I thank him and walk toward the back bedroom.

He's finding this work stuff pretty grueling and I expect to see the long body stretched across the mattress, where I have found him the last couple of nights but the bed is empty.

"Where's Zay?" I say to his brother.

"I dunno."

My heart jumps up a little. He was supposed to get off work at five.

"Has he been home? Have you seen him?"

"Uh-uh. He's at work."

"But he should be home by now. He got off at five."

"He did?"

"Did he come home at all?"

"I don't think so."

My mind goes to scary places. I picture the green bike upended, wheels spinning, while my son lays bleeding on the pavement. Try to remember the last time I saw him take his pills. Wonder if he has been fired and doesn't want to come home. Wonder if he has gone to the corner liquor store and is downing cheap beer in some gutter.

"I'm going to the store," I say to Son #2. "I'm going to check and see if he is still there. Text me if he comes home."

Just as I head out the door I hear the bike wheels and see the fluorescent orange vest.

I want to sit down on the sidewalk and cry.

"Where were you?" I ask.

"At work," he says. "Don't you remember?"

"But you told me you would be off at 5?"

"They changed my hours," He says. "I worked until 7:30."

"Oh, ok."

We are about two months into the mental health issues. I wonder if I will always feel like I did when the boys were very young- constantly on high alert. I wonder if  it will ever get any easier.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


My son drops me off at school at what he describes as the "butt crack of dawn"- 5:58 a.m. to be exact. My first meeting is at 7 and I have a lot to do before that.

Zay totaled his car earlier this summer and has been living with the consequences ever since. Mostly, he rides his bike. Every once in a while, if it's for something really important, I let him borrow my car.

Today I let him borrow my car.

It's for something really important.

He has a job interview at 10:00. Rain is in the forecast and he doesn't want to arrive at his interview wet, so I let him use my car.

This has been a long hard year for him. In January, he made the decision to quit college and give up his life long love of football. Since then, he has been through a long string of bad decisions and hard luck. He lived with me from January until March, and then I kicked both he and his brother out, because both boys were making such poor choices.

He lived with his younger brother's biological father for a few weeks, then moved in with an older  brother.

He got a job, then lost a job.

He moved back home.

He went with a friend to California and totaled his car.

He lost his iPhone.

He broke his computer.

And he was hospitalized twice, the last time for 2.5 weeks.

He came home last Tuesday. And now he has a job interview for a courtesy clerk position at a nearby grocery store.

I am antsy all morning, thinking about him, wondering about him.

At 11:30 I cannot stand it any more. I text him. How'd it go.

He texts back. It went well.

I text again. What did they say?

Forty-five minutes later, I still have not heard. I take my phone to recess duty. The phone rings almost right away.

I got a job.

He is thrilled. And I am thrilled for him.

When he picks me up, I get the details.

He starts tomorrow at 10. The company will provide uniforms.  He had to take a drug test.

I ask if he will pass it. He says he will. I pray that is true.

It's about time for him to start turning his ship around.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


This afternoon at the library, I found a book I KNOW kids (and art teachers) are going to love. ONCE UPON A LINE by Wallace Edwards was just published this month and reminds me a little of Chris Van Allsburg's classic MYSTERIES OF HARRIS BURDICK. The story begins with an introduction…

One rainy night many years ago, we found in the attic a letter folder inside an old steamer trunk. The contents belonged to our Great-Uncle George. Not much is known about him except that he was a magician who traveled the world and disappeared on stage along with a monkey and a motorcycle. 
It was said that Uncle George had an enchanted pen from the East. With this pen, he would draw an ordinary line. With this pen he would draw an ordinary line. That lined turned into a painting. 

The reader is then invited to look at a series of paintings. Somewhere in each painting is is hidden the line. Each painting has a million details to discover. A king holds a bouquet of balloons. A baby alligator. A penguin wearing a cowboy hat with a peacock feather and cowboy boots. A duck on stilts resting in two miniature rowboats. And an ending that leaves me wondering more than a little bit, and thinking  I need to look at each picture way more closely than this word girl usually does.

Each illustration is accompanied by the beginning of a story. The story that matches the front cover, for instance…

an explorer found a path to a new and strange planet
Should she stop exploring or keep going?
She finally decided to…

Another page, which features a performing circus frog…

there was a reluctant circus performer. /
He was tired of getting stuck in a hoop, /
and feathers made him sneeze, so he decided to…

And of course you know I'd find the dog painting and story…

Once upon a line
 a dog thought she was a cat. 
But why did she make barking noises and ignore mice?
One day she suddenly noticed…

A key at the end identifies the line in each picture.

One of those books I am pretty sure I will buy and re-buy and re-buy.