Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why I Believe

Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may I wish I might have this wish I wish tonight. Please, please, please bring me a dog....

It was the prayer of a 7 year old. A bedtime ritual that finally became a reality when our family moved into our first house. A real house.

Schatzie was a stub-tailed schnauzer that looked somewhat like a seal when I pushed his ears back. He had a distinct odor and a brown and grey matted beard. He was my best friend and I could tell him anything. He heard about fights with my friends, my first love interests, and all of my wishes and dreams.

We lived in a safe area, but on the corner of a busy street. Schatzie was always walked with a leash. Although he could be trusted with secrets, he was kind of a dumb dog and would wander away if he wasn't chained to the house. One day he got out by mistake. I don't know how long he was gone- but I know my parents had that worried look on their faces. My dad drove around in the car, we spent hours calling his name, the police were contacted and the family was beginning to lose hope. It was dark and almost time for bed. I had to try. Just one more time. I didn't tell anyone- they wouldn't have let me go.

I remember walking up the dark street, praying once again.
Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight...


God, please God, help me. Help me find my dog. I need him. He can't be gone. He has to come home. He is the best dog...a tear trickles down my cheek.

I can see movement in the street. It is him! Schatzie, my chubby little stub-tailed friend. He comes right up to me with not a care in the world. I pick him up and carry him the rest of the way home, struggling with the awkwardness, thanking God all the way.

I don't know why Schatzie came across the street at that instant. I don't know where he was as we looked and called for him for hours. What I do know is that a child prayed with all her heart and believed that God would provide. A child knew that no one on earth had the power to find her best friend, that God was her last hope and that He was listening. The child believed. I believed.

As I write this, I have a heavy heart. There is so much wrong in the world. So many things happen each day that force me to question my beliefs. But as I reflect on that day I still know that God will provide. He is a presence that will not abandon and even as I question, I can truly say, I believe.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The room smells of a combination of sweat and pool chalk. I think about my need for air and glance toward a small window. Through the layer of grime I can just barely make out the iron bars. A feeling of claustrophobia sets in. The room is stark, painted cream brick with a cement floor. An old pool table is the only distraction from the reality of where I am and who I am with. Inside my core I suppress the fear that I told myself I would not feel. I am a minority. I am white. I am female. But, I belong here. As I knock one in, my confidence builds. Nervous laughter and arbitrary conversations can't eliminate the uncertainty of my choices but I must take a stand. Countless things could go wrong and as I focus on the little white ball in front of me, peripheral movement transpires within the corners of the room. The focus of my partner is not on the game. Instead it has moved to the shift in the atmosphere. What originated as an uncomfortable gathering has transformed into a tense realization that I have absolutely no control. My partner approaches with uneasy smile. "You need to be goin." "What?" I ask, feeling a combination of stupidity and fear. "Do it now- you ain't gonna wanna be here for this." "umm, okay," I reply as I contemplate what to do.

I knock hard on the door so it can be unlocked. Unsure about what to say to the guard, I head immediately for the bathroom. I lock the door and exhale while fighting back the tears. I can't cry- they will know. I hear a scuffle and the guards incoherent voices. The jangle of keys coupled with yelling authority trying to gain control. As the hall empties, I slip through to main desk where I quickly sign my name. The buzzer sounds and I exit the center without regret but full of emotion. The security of my car takes hold and as I crank the heat the tears flow freely down my face. My blurred vision leads me down the deserted night road to the highway. I pull over and take a deep breath finally feeling safe as the roar of cars speed past. Safe from the naivete of my idealistic beliefs of the power I could not hold.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Silence. But, I can hear the clock ticking. That steady beat that marks a day gone and another to come. It never stops. It doesn't care what I have accomplished. It is the constant. As I sit hear in the quiet, time keeps ticking away. Or is it ticking to something?

Live life in the moment. Live for the present. Seize the day. What does it all mean? Is there really a present? Or is it just the tightrope between the past and the future. The thread that weaves and just barely
connects the two
causing us to wonder which has the most significance.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


The dialog from Quentin Tarantino's  interview with Kimmel drowns my thoughts as his irritating voice reminds me of the sound my screeching cat makes when she is trapped. Subsequently, deliberations occur on the upcoming football season and whether Ocho Cinco should have kicked that extra point.  GO TO BED ALREADY!  

When did family life become a test of endurance?  The member who is capable of staying up the latest is the one who gains the much needed solitude after a trying day.  Being a woman at this moment in time encompasses too much.  I crave silence.  But instead, the thoughts in my brain spill over, interrupting my quest for peace.  

I fantasize a life that is not my own.  

I am not unhappy here.  I have made choices and overall have been content, even happy, with the outcomes.  My glass is always half full.  My life is good, yet chaotic.  I thrive on the challenges.   

Yet, I need to be taken to another place.  I need someone/ something who will take care of me, adore me, and let me rest.  A shoulder to lean on.  A strong arm that draws me toward safety and security.  No worries here.  Only comfort.  I can finally breathe.  

And then I awake.  I am rejuvenated and able to return to reality.   

They coincide- reality and fantasy.  Both crucial in a life such as mine.   

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Code blue at the cath lab...code blue at the cath. lab. My dad's eyes met mine and we needed no words. We knew.

A month earlier I finally was home from Germany. Erik and I and my baby to be. Matt stayed to take care of loose ends. I was due in less than six weeks. Our baby girl. It was great to be able to take walks around my neighborhood. Living with my parents was even seeming to be more than tolerable. My gram was so excited that I was having a girl. She adored Erik and looked forward to us stopping by with the wagon but I knew that she preferred girls. She was already shopping. Gram, mom, and I...years spent shopping together... ready for a new generation to join in the fun. 

As my dad and I searched each other's eyes I quickly blurted out, "I have to go to the bathroom. I will be right back." Dad nodded as Mom watched Erik run around- she knew nothing. She was unable to hear the page because of her hearing loss. 

Two days earlier Dad and I were hanging out with Erik waiting for my mom to return from work. Matt was finally back but was working 3rd shift in Chicago. The phone rang and I jumped up to answer- it was so great to be back in a country where answering the phone didn't take much thought. I put it to my ear and heard the words, "I can't breathe...I think I am having a heart attack!" Gram? ...Gram?? Just relax. I am going to hang up and call 911. Dad will be there in a minute. Running. Have to get there. She has to be okay. 

Yesterday. Gram is okay. She is safe in the hospital. Went to see her and she is back to her cranky self. Making fun of how huge I am. Ready to meet the baby. Katelyn Margaret. The middle name from Matt's great grandma who had died last summer. Although Gram did have a heart attack they are going to fix it with a balloon surgery tomorrow. 

One hour ago. Gram is prepped and ready. "When is this baby going to come out?" I ask. "Don't worry" says Gram. She will come- they always do. A doctor enters, checks the chart, then exits. Gram comments on the fact that he is too young and handsome to be performing her surgery. We all have a good laugh. She rolls away with the nurses and Mom and I decide to have lunch. 

15 minutes ago. My dad comes into the hospital lobby with Erik. Erik is very hot and sweaty. I am ready to take him home for his nap, but decide to let him cool off before getting back into my dad's car with no air conditioner. We make small talk as we wait for Gram to be done. 

As I head to the cath. lab my heart races. What will I say...will they tell me what is happening? I see a nurse and ask her to go in. She comes out and explains in what sounds like a foreign language that Grams heart stopped and that they have been trying to restart it. They want to know if they should continue with life support or let her go. I must find my mom. 

I am in the hall. How can this be happening? She was just laughing with me. Katie hasn't been born yet. It isn't time. How can I tell my mom? She will never be able to handle this. I look at my dad and he knows. 

"Mom" I say.......
Erik is still playing. Noises are everywhere, but time has stopped. "'s Gram..." 
No. No it can't be.

Tears, hugs, more tears. Decisions. Let her go. Pain...intense pain. 
15 hours later. Katelyn Louise is born. She is perfect. Gram's legacy. Gram's spirit is in her. She loves to shop...there are still only three of us at the mall, but I know Gram is there with us. Looking down and smiling. 

Saturday, May 30, 2009

On Being a "Good" Mom

I have always considered myself to be a pretty good mom.  I am laid back but have high expectations of how my 4 children should behave.  We are currently THE house.  The one that the teenage boys flock to after school to play the sport of the day.  Usually there are at least 2 extras around for dinner and it makes me smile when they call me mom (even though I can't claim them on my tax returns).  

A few weeks ago, my son told us that in health class they learned how to properly put on a condom.  I wasn't sure how to react so I replied with the token, "really? hmmm."  He proceeded to explain how they did it and said that anyone can buy a condom no matter how old they are.  My son is 14 and in 8th grade.  My husband (who is usually a little too lenient for my taste) felt that it was too soon to be teaching this to our firstborn who up until last summer thought that it was against the law to have sex until you turned 21.  My opinion tends to allow for information with conversation.  It is fine to learn about condoms, as long as I can be an involved parent.

I was just chatting with a co-worker about high school looming in the distance. She said that her spouse was emptying the garbage in their son's room and found a condom.   Really this didn't surprise me.  I am not naive and I realize that the majority of high school students are sexually active.  Again, my thought is to give them the necessary information to make responsible choices.  

Then last night I was completely caught off guard.  I had dinner with a friend and her son who is a high school senior.  This young man is a popular, varsity baseball player.  We talked about a variety of subjects including the obvious- girls.  He said that he didn't want to get serious with a girl at this time in his life and that he is waiting to have sex.  Wow.  Wasn't ready for that.  

My desire to be a "good" mom, one that is easy to talk to, a mom that can get along with all of my son's friends led me to forget what it means to be a mom.  It concerns me that I may be inadvertently supporting pre-marital sex by encouraging this openness with my son.  My generation needs to remember that although we are different than our parents, and that we must remain abreast of the times,  we must still give our children the guidance they need to make good choices. Their choices.  Not only do our children need to know how to put on a condom, but they also must know about abstinence.  They must realize that it is okay and even admirable to wait for this significant milestone.  And WE need to remember that being a parent is so much more important than being a friend.    

Thursday, May 28, 2009

My Imperfection

It amazes me how I can have a million things swarming through my head throughout the day, yet in this moment of peace, as I focus on my new obsession of writing every day, I cannot think of anything profound to say.  I am awfully good at giving advice- ask my sister, husband, four kids, mother, classroom of students, friends or pretty much anyone in my town of 25,000 people.  Because of this current lapse of words, I will begin by writing about me.  Now I could go on and on about things I do, qualities I possess or lack, my family, etc.  But I feel that the following narrative may give you more of the real truth.  

It was a Wednesday afternoon.  I had spent the previous two days attending an out of town conference.  After a grueling time of picking up the pieces in my classroom due to an incompetent sub, I was ready to get home and take a hot bath.  Driving up the street, avoiding the swarm of students who were free at last, I thought about my own four children who I knew were going to be ready for some mommy time.  My husband left on a business trip and after two days of fast food, I decided that I would forego the bath and try to be "perfect mom" and make a nice dinner for the kids.

A quick trip through the grocery store and I had a swing in my step as I headed for the car.  I can do this, I thought.  Work full time, go to grad school, take care of a husband and kids....  I am great!  It was a good day- the sun was peaking through and I had even gotten a parking spot right next to the cart corral!  

I threw the bags in the back of the Durango, grabbed the hatch and whack.....shit.

I am in a daze....somehow the hatch landed right on the top left side of my head....what the hell...??

My first reaction was to look around- remember, I am great.  

Hopefully no one saw this small catastrophe that just occurred.  Two people on my six...far enough away to not have noticed.  I reach up to my head and feel a damp stickiness.  What to do.  The next 15 seconds brought a variety of scenarios.  Going in the store might offer too many unknowns for a control freak like me.  Can't go home- might scare the kids if it is really bad.  Off to Sister's house.  Driving with one hand glued to my exposed brain (I have obviously taken first aid courses!)  Woman in front of me will Not Get OUT OF MY WAY!  I may be dying for crying out loud!

Sister takes a look and says shit.  We better go.  Go?  Go where?  Stitches?  No.  I have to make dinner.  Remember, being perfect mom tonight.  Plus stitches = pain.  I am really NOT  into pain.  

My feeling of life being great turned into 10 staples, bloody hair that couldn't be washed for 24 hours, 7 kids up late with another crappy dinner (my sis' kids ended up at my house) and 1 more sub in my classroom the next day.  I don't even think the teenage doctor appreciated my asking for an epidural before he stapled my head shut.  

But, ya is great.  Sister and I had a good laugh.  We got the chance to bond- something that rarely happens much anymore.  The kids had a great story to share with their friends.  Husband felt bad that he wasn't home to care for me (yeah, right!)  

Shit happens.  Not just to everyone.  Life is fragile and as we go about it trying to create perfection in the middle of chaos something like this happens and we realize that we are not in charge.  But the shit of life is sometimes what allows us to realize how great life really is.