Monthly Archives

September 2018

In The Beginning

Young children are relatively uncomplicated human beings.  They want to eat, sleep, love, and wonder.  They want to spend the day doing the things that bring them joy.  They don’t want to waste time doing things they don’t want to do like grocery shop. lol  Frankly, littles, as I like to call them, have it all figured out.

Babies also don’t arrive on the Planet Earth with judgements about people or the world around them.  Or about themselves for that matter.  They aren’t wishing they had more hair or less chubby legs.  They don’t care about clothes or what people think about them wandering around wet or dirty.  They are happy to see folks and smile at everybody.  They love the people who show them love and are generous with their affections.  Somewhere along the line all this changes – So what the heck happens?

My Luke was such a sweet baby.  Luke was what every firstborn should be: a good eater and an even better sleeper lol. He was incredibly good-spirited and I swear he woke up from his naps with a smile on his face.  His only fault was that he didn’t say mama first ( which I clearly have not gotten over).  Luke was our King and the world revolved around him for almost three whole years.  When Lolo arrived on the scene Luke was not exactly the doting brother.  There may or may not be a story about him unbuckling himself and hightailing it out of a friend’s minivan because he had no wish to go and visit his mom and new baby brother at the hospital.  Thank goodness Nana was a lot faster then than she is now!  This was our first experience with Luke’s stubbornness, but it was definitely not to be our last.

Still, life with Luke as a toddler was pretty extraordinary.  He loved nature and walking in the woods.  We were always outside those days exploring and collecting sticks and acorns and rocks.  And hats.  I always think fondly of the images I have of both my boys in an array of hats. Luke loved little army guys and Teletubbies and Barney.  Luke had a wonderful imagination and could play by himself for hours.  He was a gentle kid that was being raised to be kind and courteous.  I laugh when I think about another kiddo trying to pull a toy out of Luke’s hands and him hollering – “No thanks!  No thanks!”  He was just a love.

I guess that’s one of the things that makes looking back on his seventeen years difficult.  He was the sweetest of spirits, but somewhere along the way that changed.  Don’t get me wrong, as a young adult Luke still had his moments of kindness and softness, but those of us closest to him also knew the other side of Luke Inwood.  The one you didn’t want to mess with because he could verbally rip you to shreds.  The one who could look at me, his mother, with F*ck you in his eyes.  I was once his whole world – what the heck happened?  I have my own thoughts around this, but that will have to wait for another day.

So here’s what I need you to know:  If today is your Day One, my heart is with you as you think back to when your precious spirit was first born.  It is such a special time in our relationship with our children.  Hold fast on those sad days to the fact that you were their EVERYTHING.  Nothing can change that.

If you are reading this and you have wee ones and you are tired and impatient and cranky because you have no time to yourself, remember it is okay.  You are doing the best you can and it is enough.  Your little loves you and forgives you in those moments because that’s what littles do.  Try and enjoy childhood for all that it is: messy, and exhausting, and about the best thing you can ever do.  I would give anything to have those little arms wrapped tight around my neck as we make our way up to bed.  I would give anything to hear that slow drawl ask me to read him one more story.  I would give anything to peek into his room and catch him fast asleep and so peaceful.  I would give anything.  Xxx

 

I need you to know

If Only In My Dreams

I remember vividly every time I have *seen* Luke since he passed away.  Some people are lucky and have these visions or visitations frequently.  I think I try too hard to make it happen and in that act, block the energy that is trying to reach me.  Perhaps, as I am fond of saying, you get what you need in life, so maybe nightly visits from my boy are not meant to be.  Regardless, when it has happened I have considered it at times both unsettling and emotional, but always a gift.

Not surprisingly, I saw Luke four times right after he passed away.  My first time I was in that dreamy half-awake state you are in just before getting up in the morning.  It was a few days after he died.  I could hear JB in the bathroom and I was reluctant to open my eyes and start another day without my boy.  Suddenly, Luke’s face popped into my head.  It was just his face – not smiling – very serious and surrounded by black.  It felt like he was right there with me.  Frankly, it scared the sh*t out of me.  I wasn’t sure what I had seen and immediately wondered if I had lost my marbles.  I wasn’t even going to tell John because I thought he would think I was making it up or that my imagination and the missing was getting the best of me.  I shared anyway and we didn’t try to rationalize it.

A few nights later Luke came to me in the middle of sleeping.  I could see us sitting side by side on the edge of the bed and Luke had his head in his hands and he kept saying to me, ” I really f*cked up this time, mum.”  I could feel his despair and I woke up with this sick feeling in my stomach.  Two days later I saw him again in my dreams.  I could see him in his car.  Both hands were gripped on the wheel and head was tilted back and it looked like he was screaming like you do when you are about to crest the top of a big hill on a rollercoaster. I could see the tears in his eyes and the tension on his face.  It was like I was glimpsing his last moments before he headed down the road to where he crashed.  As a mother, both of these images were incredibly upsetting.  Your mind goes into overdrive when you child takes his or her own life as you desperately try to figure out the why.  You want to know exactly what those last moments looked like and you want to know that your sweet child didn’t feel any pain.  My visions did not do that for me.  They reaffirmed for me that Luke had done something impulsively and was trying to get me to understand that he regretted it. My poor boy.

The final time I saw Luke I was outside lying in the sun on our back deck.  Sleep does not come readily for parents after the loss of a child and I was no exception.  I was exhausted and had decided to try and nap in the April sun.   I was on my tummy stretched out on a chaise lounge chair and my head was cradled on my arms facing the left. As I started to wake up I slowly opened my eyes and there was Luke.  His face was right near mine and his head was on his arms, too, and he was starting at me with so much love and concern in his eyes.  It felt like he had napped right along with me and was watching over me and as soon as he realized I saw him he was gone.  It had been so clear it felt real which made it that much more heartbreaking when he dissolved before me.  Little did I know that over the next few years I would give anything to experience something that vivid again.

So here’s what I need you to know:  If today is your Day One, you are going to question the things you see and hear in your own head.  You are going to wonder if missing your child is making you so crazy that you are envisioning them in your dreams or thinking you hear their voice in your head.  Trust me when I say You’re not crazy.  Whether you think of it as a dream or as a visitation or even just a memory, it is a gift when you see your baby’s face or hear their voice.  Don’t over think it.  Just relish it.  When Luke visits John he wakes up crying because that feeling of love and being connected is simply so powerful, even in dream-state, but it reminds him, me, you that we are together.  Even across the stars. Always.  Xxx

 

The FIrst Days

Be You

I had an epiphany last night.  I would like to believe I am a deep thinker and they happen often lol, but every once in a while something happens that significantly alters your perception of the world or in this case, my perception of myself.

Anyone who meets me these days struggles to believe that I am, at heart, an introvert.  🙂 It is, in fact, a true story.  I recharge by spending time alone and could quite comfortably spend a month without seeing another soul.  I spent long hours as a little girl reading books.  I was never that popular so my weekends as a teen were not full of parties and dates.  I often wonder how people who knew me in high school and college would describe the Patty that walked those halls.  I’m pretty sure I was weird.  So when you are the weird kid you spend a lot of time wishing you weren’t and comparing yourself to whomever it is you idolize – the cheerleader, the football player, the class clown, the star actor in the school play.  Comparisons inevitably lead to one’s own self esteem getting lower and lower and lower.  We suffer from this even as adults when we should know better.  Those damn Jones’ have a bigger house, better yard, smarter kids, and a better behaved dog.  If we convince ourselves that someone is always going to be doing everything better than we are, how can we ever measure up?  Why try?

So there I was, one year after Luke had passed away.  I am trying, TRYING, to be a model of grace and strength after loss but my emotions and self-doubt is starting to get the best of me.  As our friends and Luke’s friends start to get on with their lives we see less of them and I am falling into old thought patterns that maybe I am just a crappy friend and not fun to be around.  As the fog around death starts to lift, I begin to see the areas in my job that have slipped and I worry that I will never be the level of teacher that I set out to be.  I am eating and not working out and when I look in the mirror I see an older me with sad eyes.  I start to go about my days, quietly, attempting to be invisible because that is what I think I should be.

Enter Dianne.  John and I are at a conference and we are doing a psychometric activity where you give someone something you wear everyday like a watch or a ring and the other person is supposed to see what they might intuit about you.  I, of course, apologized before we even started because I “knew” I would be terrible at it.  And I wasn’t great, lol, but it WAS my first time.  Dianne, however, was incredible.  She described me to a tee, including my childhood and my relationships with my husband and my children.  She then proceeded to give me what I describe now as a spiritual shit-kicking lol.  She looked me right in the eyes and told me there were big things in my future, including some sort of business, but only if I made the decision to step into my destiny.  She basically gave it to me for living in the shadows and suggested I cowgirl up and stop living in fear.  The most important message I came away with was that I was the one holding myself back.

Those words really sat with me.  No one likes to be told that they are not meeting their potential, especially at 49 lol, but there it was.  Following this, I met a woman named Karen.  She was doing a fantastic job helping John navigate his grief and when she met me she said kind words about my energy and also spoke to my unfulfilled potential.  Again?  I thought to myself.  Karen ended up sending me this inspiring quote from Marianne Williamson that begins with the words, “Who am I to be small?”  And it really got me thinking.  Who are any of us to play small?  Why don’t we present ourselves as the amazing human beings we are in everything we do? I’ll tell you why.  Fear.  Self-doubt.  The mind is a powerful tool.  I put the quote on my piano and read it every day and you know what happened, friends?  I started to believe it.  I started to be more comfortable with the Real Patty Inwood and it showed in my actions and my words.  Better yet, I was SATISFIED to be me and that was a good feeling, indeed.

Fast forward to last night.  My fundraising team had come up with the idea of having me do the live auction component of our event.  I started complaining loudly and often that I was not funny and this was a terrible idea.  No one listened, lol.  I started to get more anxious as the day approached and was making comments to the ladies and John that if I started to bomb somebody needed to get up and take over.  That negative self talk was still on repeat when Tracey and Donna had me in the hallway giving me the five minute warning.  Tracey left to check the sound system, and in the mean time, Donna must’ve seen the panic on my face.

“What’s the matter?” she asked me.

” I’m not funny!” I said, just a wee bit hysterically.  Donna grabbed me by both shoulders and looked me dead in the eye.

“You don’t have to be funny,” she told me, “You just have to be Patty. Just be YOU.”

It was like my whole life zipped before my eyes and I realized in that split second that ME was all I COULD be.  And it was enough.  More than enough, for the event, for every day I had lived, and every day left to go.  Just good old me.

So here’s what I need you to know:  Life is short and the amount of energy we put into trying to change ourselves to live up to some expectation we believe exists (curses, that word PERCEPTION is back) is astounding.  It’s exhausting not being who you were meant to be for your time on Planet Earth.  So let that go.  Quit apologizing for your unique qualities.  Let your freak flag fly!  We should be telling ourselves, our loved ones, our children, our students this message:  Who you are today is more than enough.  Forget the Joneses.  Be You.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The FIrst Days

Oh, Mac

This is not a long post because truthfully I don’t have it in me.  I am tired, friends.  I am exhausted from hearing about young people dying when they should be living.  My heart is beyond broken over the death of Mac Miller.  No, he was not my child, but my feeling lately is aren’t they all our children?  and our CHILDREN are DYING at an alarming rate.

Did you know North America continues to experience the highest drug-related mortality rate in the world? – (Overdoseday.com)  It seems like every day someone is losing their life to suicide or to drugs and I don’t know what to do.  I want to stop it and I don’t know how.  I want to look at every young person and shake them and say “Are you crazy or what?!  Don’t try that sh*t – you will get hooked and it will kill you!”  But they aren’t listening.  The young wear this perceived cloak of invincibility and maybe, back in the day, we had one, too. But times seemed safer.  We drank beer or peach schnapps. lol We stole our mother’s cigarettes.  And sure, people smoked a little weed.  But to lose a teenager in the community was a rarity.  It was usually a car accident.  Drug overdoses and suicide were for the rich and famous.  These days the Grim Reaper is not so discerning.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of deaths from overdose have increased 137% since 2000.  137%!!!  Read that number one more time and then think about the fact that the age group most affected by drug overdose is young men aged 25-34 and that each of those young men has parents.  A mom and a dad who are devastated that they have to start each day without part of their heart.  I guess that’s what gets me because I am living it.  We are what gets left behind.  I can’t pretend to know the motivation around the use of drugs, but I can speak to the hole left in the lives of the parents and families who are affected.  It is bottomless and it is black and it is forever.

If only I could make each young person understand that to your mom and dad, you will always be the most important thing they have ever created and that you are precious and that you are loved.  Life is a gift, dammit.  How do we make them see that?

Mac Miller is important to our family for his music.  His songs were the soundtrack to Luke’s teen years.  But to someone else he was Marshall and once upon a time he was little and full of love and hope.  My deepest condolences to his family.

I need you to know

It’s September, Again

September is another kind of  New Year’s for me. Like January 1st, it represents  one of those times when you can reflect and reorganize your priorities and get back into all those routines that seem necessary to move us forward in life. As an adult I actually don’t mind this time of year.  I love getting back to work and the structure that comes with a school day.  For many kiddos, though, back to school is back to hell.  Simple as that.

Personally, back in the day returning to school was often fraught with anxiety.  I was the new girl more times than a girl should be and the stress of changing schools and not knowing who the teachers would be and whether they would be mean or nice, and wondering what the bus ride would be like, and where I would sit in class, and then at lunch, and asking myself if I would have to spend recess by myself was overwhelming!  Add to that the feeling that you are not smart enough or pretty enough or sporty enough and you have the recipe for a very difficult first day.  Sadly, there are so many kiddos who feel this exact same way.  I can see the tension on their faces and the fear in their eyes when they get off the bus and I think to myself – It shouldn’t be this hard.

There are kiddos, like my Lolo, that love school and they walk through the door every day with their heads close together with a friend’s and they are giggling over a continued conversation from the bus.  There are kids who happily show up and can’t wait to learn the math or the social studies or the physics lesson of the day.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could infuse every child with the confidence and skills to find the joy in each new school day?

One of the challenges is that like adults, kiddos accumulate life experiences and it begins to color their perception about what to expect in every situation.  Luke loved school until he didn’t.  And what was the difference?  What was the impetus for that change in attitude?  Truthfully, there were a number of things, but ultimately it was how his teachers responded to him.  The more Luke felt like his teachers didn’t like him or were giving him a hard time, the more difficult it became for him to care about his school work.  And I’m not saying his teachers didn’t like him – I am saying this was Luke’s perception.  And I will preach till I am out of breath, that *Perception* is all that matters.  Every August – even up to his last one – Luke would talk about how this would be *the* year.  Things were going to be different and he was going to try and he was going to get organized and he was going to be successful.  And he would walk through that door with big intentions and they would last for a while – it was almost two weeks that last year – until a teacher would say something to make him feel small and he would just say “See Mom?!  It is the same every time!  The teachers hate me and what’s the point?”  And what do you say to that?  I will never forget the time, friends, I came home from work and Luke was up in his room on his bed with his fists clenched and he was so full of rage over how a teacher had belittled him in front of the other students.  His feelings were HURT that this adult had done this and as his mother… well, I cried a lot over that one.  Who does that to a child?  And ultimately, whether they are 5 or 15 they are just kids.

SO here’s what I want you to know:  If you are reading this and your child loves school, YAY YOU!  What a gift!  Tell them how proud they should be of themselves that they love something so important.  If you are reading this and your child tells you every day they don’t like school or they don’t want to go to school, we have to figure that out.  And by we I mean WE.  It will take all of us.  Talk to a therapist, talk to the teachers, talk, talk, talk to try and get to the underlying issue.  These things don’t go away, friends, they are a problem to be resolved or more often than not, a strategy that needs to be taught.  But your kiddos need to know you believe them and you will do your darndest to help get them through it.

Lastly, if you are reading this and you are an educator, please remember that in September all some kids want is a clean slate.  An opportunity to be a better self than they were the year before.  As the adults I believe our job is to make connections and form relationships and love them… because if they don’t feel, truly feel that we care about them, we have lost them.  And sometimes when we lose them, it’s forever.

I need you to know