Tag Archives: #boys

Strep Throat…A Small Price To Pay To Have My Darkness Fade Away

What do you do when you want to write…but your mind feels blank…yet your heart feels weighted and heavy in a way that it needs emptying? I don’t know what to do with my feelings tonight…I am dealing with an illness (lupus) that has managed to completely wreak unexpected havoc on my body and mind, on my spirit and even on my home for that matter. And tonight (and many other nights, days, afternoons, mornings…I AM THOROUGHLY PISSED OFF! ) I am also confused and sad and honestly,  I simply and sadly feel as a person I am CHANGED.

I have always been an emotional person…a “feeling a lot”,  (perhaps too much) type of person. My ability to tune into my own feelings and as well as deeply empathize with the feelings of others has pretty much guided the course of my life. I am a psychotherapist by profession and I truly love my job, it is sacred and beautiful to travel with others on their own inner journeys.  However, right now,  I am definitely in the midst of some deeply painful shit…and though I have an abundance of dear friends, parents that love me beyond words, a husband who has been by my side for almost 20 years, two beautiful boys…tonight and so many nights as of late, I feel so completely and utterly alone.

I know, at least I hope, that  I will be able to  find ways to integrate these dark feelings in with the light…I will have to find ways to weave the painful shredded fibers in with the hopefully stronger, fabrics that make up relief and healing. I pray I find ways to ease the relentless questions of my mind, find a way to  stop the unending search for answers, the hows, the whys, the what the hells?  The what if’s?  Yes, those, “when the fuck did this happen?”  type of questions, the ones that I am sure may never be answered nor would they be particularly useful if even if they were. I mean do I really need to know…”Yes…it was that bug spray, that spray paint, that north wind that caused this disease to activate.”  I can’t turn back time and undo any particular event that may have contributed to this process…so it is just toxic to live there.

I have been having terrible nightmares as well…a side effect of some medication, in my opinion. So,  I feel infinitely more apprehensive this evening, in these late hours of the night.  Yet, as I nod off to sleep, quite literally, falling in and out of consciousness while writing this…I realize that my 13-year-old son has snuggled up next to me, his head leaning on my hip, his size 10 man feet dangling from my bed. (Now…this is not great since he has strep throat and a 101 fever) however, just for tonight,  I am willing to risk just about anything to steal what is sadly becoming…a more limited number of tender moments, the one’s that he used to offer up so freely and abundantly . Yet, tonight …on his own thirteen year old terms (which apparently could be a side effect of him being kind of sick and weak? HEY…I’ll take what I can get! ) Tonight…he is being generous with his snuggles. When he came in to say goodnight, he actually took my arm and said “mommy…I love you so, so much”…This unsolicited declaration is not common place anymore, so if that was the only moment, I would have savored it.

I am also realizing… just as I write this…that some of my heavy heart is also entangled in the thirteenth birthday of this beautiful boy. He is a May baby…just like his mamma. He is dancing on the cusp of crazy adolescence, while still hanging on a bit longer (thank God) to the threads that keep him my sweet little boy.

So, just for tonight,  I worry and grieve and choke back what feels like an endless supply of tears because it feels this sickness is stealing away parts of my life. The parts of me, that at no point and time, and I mean NEVER, NOT EVER… not one damn time, have I offered up for the taking!  These dark feelings try to grip me and drown me in sorrow, they try to take hostage my sleep and my inner peace. But on this night….I lay here in bed, with my laptop humming, my husband sound asleep to my right and my son somehow fitting perfectly into the small space that is left on my other side. All of a sudden, I feel acutely aware of the abundance of gifts in my life.

I am not as alone as I thought just a mere 20 minutes ago. How can I not  cherish the beauty of what I DO have? Pain and fear are making it all too easy to focus on what I don’t have.  While I fight and battle with this pain, this disease and all its unknowns, I begin to realize that there are a few things that I do know and I know them with absolute certainty!

My thirteen year old, the tough guy, the one who  drives me to the brink of insanity almost daily…the one who pushes every damn button I have and laughs as he get’s the crazy to come dancing and jumping right the hell out of me! My boy…the one who gets the reactions he had hoped as he encourages his younger brother to join in the game of  “let’s drive mommy to the brink and watch the show!” Yeah…that’s my boy.  However, for now… he remains snuggled up, sound asleep by my side. His breathing is a steady rhythm bringing unexpected reassurance about mostly everything in the whole world right now. You know what? I am thinking these days may be numbered and that kind of makes me cry even as I type this…Tears. So in this moment, I will simply cherish his sleepy, fevered head by my side, cherish it with every ounce of my being.

My eight year old tried to wrangle his way into our bed earlier and we had the “NO WAY” discussion because he is “too accustomed” to his sleepy mommy and daddy just caving and saying… “sure…come child, disrupt our sleep…because we are too tired and old to fight you off.”  So,  tonight…he stays tucked under his Spider Man Comforter, head nestled in Avengers pillows. The night is young at 12:19 am, so he may still find his way in, during the wee morning hours. But for now, it seems my heaviness, my darkness, is unexpectedly lifted.  I think it’s by this writing, it is by this process of letting my thoughts flow out into words, however poorly written, I just don’t care. Really, I don’t…They are out of my head and on the screen and I can’t help but feel a bit lighter.

I also feel lucky…or is it grateful? Yes, It is Grateful. Tonight I recognize that I have my struggles, my pain, my illness…but it is certainly not all that I have and is most definitely NOT all that I am. Chronic pain can try to steal the brightness from my life…but there is no possible way that it can know this secret…the secret that deep, pure and unconditional love is simply and fully immune to being stolen! It just can NOT be stolen by a thief and his cruel and stealthy ways. For it seems that tonight, I am veiled in protection, I am cloaked in peace. All by this little man who drives me to unimaginable levels of frustration by day…but on this particular night, he is the sweetest of lights. He is the thread weaving together the good and the bad. He is the integration between pain and freedom.

He may likely never know, how on this night…when I felt like all of my chips had been cashed in and the cruel “thief” known as pain tried to steal all of my good…that he was my protector…and that was just from being by my side, his unexpected snuggles and his drifting off to sleep. I listen to him breathe and I feel grateful and I feel blessed. I feel honored by his presence tonight.

I also feel like within 24 hours I will likely be infected with Strep Throat…which can’t be good when dealing with an f’d up immune system, but I feel like this…what’s a bacterial infection if not just a tiny price to pay? Payment for the precious snuggle and sweet, sleepy, unconditional love that is being so freely offered tonight. I don’t know if it’s the fever or the antibiotics or genuinely a boy just needing his mom…honestly, it doesn’t much matter, I’ll take it.

So thank you my boy…thank you for getting me out of my funk…and most likely giving me yours.

He Is My Husband Now…We Are Gay

We all gauge the multitude of so-called successes and failures of parenting moments by different variables. We (us parents) each have a different set of lenses in which we view our children, how we may “think” they are doing. Whether we are talking in general, like their grades, behavior or  mood or  we are looking at more of the minutia. Little snapshots in time, that sort of show you something unique in your child’s development or personality. It can simply be a look, a statement, a small conversation…watching them play, when they don’t know you are looking…those tiny moments that go on, but often are a reflection of who they are “right now” and even perhaps a foreshadowing of who they may  become.

Now…I have two boys. They are both vastly different in both looks and personality alike. They are five years apart. Despite their differences, I try to raise them in quite the same manner, with the same fibers of morals and values being loosely woven through our years together.

O.K…I will cut to the chase. One is a teen and one is in second grade…I am, what one might describe as a bleeding heart liberal. A heart on my sleeve kind of girl. I am a social worker by trade and by human make-up. For as long as I can remember, I have tried to be the voice for the voiceless. The cheerleader for the underdog. The advocate for the marginalized and oppressed…YOU GET IT.  My husband, is also a mental health professional  and is a Latino male, who despite his best efforts, still carries with him what I might describe as this  “semi” machismo  perspective. He has come a long way and is also himself, incredibly liberal but let’s just say when my boys were little and I bought them baby dolls and a stroller to push them in (which they did often and around the neighborhood) …he seemed kind of was perplexed, he “sort of”  tried to discourage me from letting them… (I wasn’t having it).  I would have to say that his reaction was rooted not only in his cultural roots and norms and gender and social norms but also…rooted in FEAR. ( we all know, having a baby doll turns you gay right? )

“Not my boys…not baby dolls? They are not GIRLS!”  As the years have gone by…he has softened a lot… has a greater understanding of why I would encourage that … and as for my boys, despite my best efforts…they don’t seem to really embrace there feminine side right now, and that is o.k. It seems, at least right now, they are kind of these brutish, loud, wrestle each other to the ground primate type of kids. (which does not mean they are not sensitive emotionally) But they are rough, crazy, sports nuts who are dirty and what societal/gender stereotypes may reference as or  consider “All Boy”. Whatever… I still send the message that it is o.k to cry, to openly talk about feelings, to be sensitive and most importantly to not feel pressured to conform to social norms “just because”.

One of the other things we do together, though I watch next to no television, is watch several weekly sitcoms. One is Modern Family…think what you may about the show, but it has allowed us to crack up together, to explore a vast range of family issues and also to have on-going dialogue with my kids about homosexuality. Questions come in many forms like…”why are those guys married mom AND they have a baby?”  Just one of the questions my younger one has asked. My teen…he kind of  get’s it already and knows I am open about  whomever people love they just  love. My little one has asked questions over the past year, and more recently, he seems to “get it” a little more. (not sex…he does not know what that is yet, outside of kissing) But he knows a girl can love and marry another girl…a man can love and marry another man. That God made us all different and amazing and that is o.k.

In a world where gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual youth have so many struggles, higher rates of clinical depression/ anxiety  and a significantly higher suicide rate, I feel it is my job as a parent to keep an open dialogue with my kids. To send the message that no matter who they are, whom they love or even if they were confused….they will always be accepted, loved and supported, at least in our home. Now, obviously my son is in second grade, so I don’t go into great detail. I just answer what he asks and try to communicate that however you are, it’s o.k and you will be loved.

It’s kind of hard to gauge how they are doing on that. My older son had a sleep-over…with a diverse group of boys. He mentioned one would be pretty late because he has dance. (now being most of his friends are on sports with him…I talked to him about this… just out of curiosity because I never met this boy…what kind of dance, how late will he be?) He answered without much thought…” he’ll be pretty late and he will be hungry…and ummm, I don’t know, he does ballet, jazz, hip-hop…yeah…he is  kind of feminine, but I don’t think he’s gay, but honestly…who really care’s anyway?” (For a seventh grade boy…to me this signals, he is getting it!)

Now, my younger son…was snuggling with his big, muscular, Latino father (otherwise known as my husband) I walked in to his room and said jokingly “Hey you…You are always snuggling with my husband…you better give him back to me !”  He glanced up at me, with wild and sleepy eyes, as my hubby lye half asleep and boldly said “HE IS MY HUSBAND NOW…WE ARE GAY!”

Let’s just say my husband was no longer asleep…He gave me the look of “You did this” but then smiled… and I thought to myself:

“YES…PARENTING WIN!!!”  (yeah…I know…I may have clarify a few things as time goes on) but he was being silly and I thought to myself…So far, So Good!

Coaching: DON’T DO THAT!!

verbal_bullying_mean_teacher_coach

DEAR COACH,

I get it…you are the coach of a middle school sports team. You are important. You have the ability to create amazing, positive experiences for 12 year old boys who are LOOKING UP TO YOU. I also understand that your team is losing every single game and that must be super fucking frustrating for you. Do you know who else feels frustrated??? YUP. The little dudes on your team!! Do you even see their sweaty, out of breath faces? Do you watch their heads gazing down at there filthy cleats as they walk off the field at the end of the game that they lost 14-0?

Do you see their eyes looking to you for guidance, acceptance, or a “Hey…you lost, but you guys played with all your heart and you practice 7 days per week and you have endurance and we will get better as times goes on…chin up boys!” Nope, You don’t see them looking and waiting and wondering what the feedback will be and what words you will choose and how it may build them up or simply crush them down.iStock_000002351658Small-700x200

They wait…They get back on that bus…those dirty, defeated, exhausted 7th grade boys and they talk and try to laugh and you tell them…NO!! They should not laugh, they should not feel happy…They should sit and “think about why they lost?” REALLY DUDE? I am pretty sure they are already thinking about that and they’re laughing and playing around and talking to one another is their way of trying to reclaim some piece of their fractured and still developing egos.

I know my boy…this week alone he has had between two teams, collectively 14 Games. So far he has lost every single one of those games. For that matter Coach, YOU ACTUALLY KNOW THIS…yet, you have your “team” run sprints for making SIMPLE mistakes in practice. DON’T DO THAT.

YOU sit boys out for an entire game for having to go to A MANDATORY religious ceremony to practice for an upcoming HIGH HOLY DAY… He is your starting player and shows up for every SINGLE practice, you don’t let him play. DON’T DO THAT.

In your huddle, when you could be building these boys up, with tough YET inspiring words…instead you choose to call several children on the team ‘TRADERS’ AND BENEDICT ARNOLD…for playing on another team that is not their own town (no matter the circumstances) DON’T DO THAT. That sucks. (and pits kids against their own team members. you should know that. Or is that your goal?

You have decided, after I chose to keep my child home from school with a back injury after being hurt in a GAME…That you should tell him in front of his ENTIRE team…”OH, SO NOW YOU’RE GONNA BE THE GUY WHO JUST SHOWS UP FOR GAMES?” DON’T DO THAT.

The kid who was 12 minutes late for class that day…and you have the whole team RUN twelve sets of sprints because “somebody” was late for class and school is important? Don’t DO THAT.

THESE are all of our children, these are your children…you have in your hands a FUCKING GOLDEN opportunity to fill these kids UP…with spirit and pride and the idea that winning is awesome but it’s not the whole damn package.

You Coach…have been given a gift…You are abusing that gift…you are perpetuating the kind of old school coaching that now falls under that perhaps sometimes overused (but not in this case) word of BULLYING.

I implore you Coach…think before you speak…look into the eyes of those young men, who look up to you with every ounce of their being. THINK!!! DO YOU WANT TO BUILD UP? OR IS YOUR MISSION TO TEAR DOWN?

LOOK at the heads staring at their worn out cleats…try telling them to “Pick up their heads…hold them high and understand the character and dedication it takes to stay on team that loses every damn game”…Tell them to be PROUD OF WHAT THEY DID RIGHT instead of “think about what they did wrong”.

And so, a team that loses every game and practices every single day…hmmm, dear COACH…perhaps you should think about what YOU are doing wrong.I MEAN YOU ARE THE COACH..and one more thing… at night when you go home and laugh with your wife or your buddies or kick back and grab a cold beer…
DON’T DO THAT.

SIT THERE AND THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING WRONG. Then why not hit the back yard and run some sprints for being such a DICK.

Sincerely, Every Boy’s MOM