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June 2019

Oh, Hell.

September 2011. It’s Freshman Year for Luke Inwood at Wachusett Regional High School. From what I remember Luke was mostly excited to start ninth grade. He was happy to move on from the academic fiasco that was his last year at Central Tree and looking forward to a fresh start. He had a plan and his friends by his side and he was ready to fly. He had HOPE.

Week One was fine. lol Week One, people. Luke managed to catch the bus and get to his classes and do some work. In Week Two reality started to set in. Luke struggled with sleeping and the subsequent getting up on time for school part instantly became challenging. That darn bus arrived at our door at 6:40. 6:40 for crying out loud! That is torture in any kid’s books. Having your mother standing at the door yelling, “You have five minutes till the bus gets here! You have three minutes till the bus gets here!” and so on, must have also really helped to start the day in a positive mind set. :/ Yep, that was me. Being *helpful*. True story. Sigh.

Well, high school, it turns out, friends, is not all Friday Night Lights and Spirit Days. There is work to be done. It didn’t take long for Lukester to recognize that school at any grade, including grade nine, is the same thing – forty-five minute blocks where you have to focus and pay attention and be quiet and follow the rules and try. None of these items were high on Luke’s list of the Top Ten Ways to Spend the Day. Crack jokes from the back of the room to generate laughter? Sure. Homework? Not so much.

Needless to say, it didn’t take too long for old habits to surface and next thing I know John is calling to say he has heard from the Assistant Principal and Luke is in trouble for sassing a teacher. Hello Detention Number One. A few days later he pulls out his phone when he isn’t supposed to and then won’t hand it over. Detention Number Two. And so on and so on and so on. Luke hit double digits in d-halls in the first few weeks of school. Double digits! Truthfully, I can look back now and shake my head and sort of laugh thinking about how incredulous this was, but when we were living it…. no freaking way. It was stressful trying to will Luke or cajole Luke or just straight up yell at Luke to do the right thing or at the very least just get out of his own dang way. We had all hoped for a new beginning. We were all still hoping, but when it comes to mental illness, sometimes hope is not enough.

So here’s what I need you to know: Boy, did I fail Parenting a Hard Child 101. Everyone has advice for you when you are raising a tough kiddo, but no matter what anyone suggests, it doesn’t make it any less HARD. I spent almost 24 hours a day trying to figure out Luke and how to *help* him. It was exhausting – mentally and physically. If you have your own hard child you know exactly what I am talking about. Turns out, me helping him was not HIM helping HIM which is the only thing that matters. When we swoop in as parents to try and clear the path of problems, or save the day after a problem has occurred for our child it is not helping. Repeat after me – IT IS NOT HELPING lol. It was not my job to go downstairs every morning to wake Luke up for school. It was not my job to go downstairs every morning ten minutes later to remind him to get up. It was not my job to yell from the top of the stairs every morning ten minutes after that to tell Luke to get up. Insert chuckle. You see my point. And you’re laughing, but there is somewhere in your parenting style where you do this exact same thing. ( Unless you are Heather LeMay because that woman WROTE the parenting manual. 🙂 I love you Heather! ) SO if I might gently suggest one thing it would be this – teach your child to be independent. Teach them how to tie their own shoes, pack their own snacks, set their own alarm clocks.

Preach, Ann, preach!

And if they can’t figure it out by a developmentally appropriate age, like Freshman year? Well, friends, then we have another kind of problem. But that is a blog for another day. Sending all my parents out there strength and love. Xxx

I need you to know

Twenty-Two

Wednesday, June 19th was Luke’s birthday. Last week I was coming off of the King of the Courts tourney and seeing all my lovelies all growed up, as I like to say, and going places. They are off visiting distant lands or gainfully employed doing the most fantastic things or finishing up school. They are just FULL of possibility and the future. It is bittersweet, of course, but four years later my heart is mostly happy for them. It is the way life goes.

I made my way past the crash site last week and was shocked at how much new foliage had come in. It is lush and full of every shade of green and covering, actually taking over, where Luke took his last breath. It has always seemed appropriately raw and burnt and barren and to see all of this life was almost like Mother Nature making her own point. “It is the way life goes,” she whispers to me. I cried because on this day it is hard to acknowledge that everyone and every thing is moving forward without my boy. “Don’t forget him!” I want to yell to the lovelies, but that is what this momma fears is happening. And not that they forget, they just don’t remember as often.

My next stop was the cemetery. Twenty- two roses from my mummy grace Luke’s spot, but there is no other evidence of visitors. My heart sinks as I realize that I am probably the only one who has been here. Not that there is anything wrong with this. I recognize that not everyone feels the same way as I do about where Luke rests easy, but at the same time, as I gaze around at headstone after headstone after headstone, I can’t help but think that Luke is turning into what my friend Kathy has always called the “folks” at the cemetery – forgotten. Sure, our section has flowers and lights and other trinkets that show a loved one has been by, but most of the cemetery is just a solitary headstone, letters fading away. It’s the way life goes.

So I shed my tears because no momma wants this – the angst of believing you are the only one who remembers the soul and spirit that inhabited your child’s body. The only one who thinks about The hundred little things he or she did in a day that made you smile or sigh. The only one who truly wishes, who would give ANYTHING to have the chance to hug them just one more time.

But life is not a sad country song lol and in my heart of hearts I know Luke is in a thousand places on June 19th and every day after. He’s in a lyric, in a laugh, in the way Lolo does his hair lol. Anytime the kiddos get together he is there rolling his eyes, whispering trash talk suggestions, and backing up the pong winner. He is in Canada playing cards. He is in those quiet moments just soaking up the sun in a really, really great hat. lol. Gone, but not forgotten. It’s the way life goes.

Happy Birthday, my beauty. Xxx

Milestones

I’ll Always Remember Us This Way

Honestly, I wasn’t sure the King of the Courts tournament was going to happen this year. When I asked Logan in January if he thought we should do it again he said his usual “Why wouldn’t we?”, but from the very beginning things were a bit off. I usually have Dom Spinelli making sure I am on track and getting things done, but this spring Dom was off to Europe with school so it was up to me. Friends, my life is a bit busy these days, and as a result, King of the Courts took a back seat. Before I knew it April was upon us and I hadn’t even asked Eric to make the poster to advertise the event. We also decided not to order new shirts as we had so many left from the previous year. Hmmm… what else? Teams were slow to sign up and I wasn’t sure we were even going to have a decent turn out and then I wasn’t even sure LOGAN was going to have a team! It was wonky, friends, and all the signs were there that perhaps this day was not going to happen. Cue the sad Miss Patty face.

But happen it did. Things, as they say, always work out the way they should and we had a glorious day. The weather was spectacular and the ball-playing was even better. We did have to call the ambulance not once, but twice, lol (thank you Rutland First Responders and Nurse Janet!) but in the end we crowned a new group of well-deserving Kings.

The day was bittersweet for me, though. At one point as I looked around, I thought to myself that my boy with the world’s biggest ego would want to be remembered like this. With a bunch of his favorite people up on the bleachers – chatting and dancing and watching the games; with other young sirs on the courts battling it out for the title, the bragging rights, the money. This tournament has always made me feel closer to Luke than any other thing. Until yesterday. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVED the day. Every bit of it. But I have always NEEDED it. I needed it to connect to Luke – through his friends and through his favorite pastime. But what I realized yesterday is that I don’t need it anymore. After four years I am at peace with my relationship with my boy. I feel Luke and our connection in every single moment, every single breath. He is more a part of who I am than ever before. I carry him like those lads carry their string bag or their water jug or their cell phones to the courts. You can’t forget it, you just always have it. I just always have Luke.

So I don’t know the fate of the tourney, but I do know this momma is done. lol It has been an honor to bring all these young people together to celebrate life and Luke Inwood, but I am going to step back and tuck this incredible memory away in my heart and let someone else take the lead – or not. No matter what comes next for uptown, I will always remember this day these past four years – the sun beating down, the kids laughing, the ball clanging on the backboard before dropping in. The crew might be growing up and moving on and living life, but I will ALWAYS remember us this way.

For all our supporters, past and present, you have my heart.

With love and gratitude – Miss Patty Xxx

Milestones

A Letter to My Lovelies

Dear Lovelies,

Congratulations! It’s Graduation Season! Whether you have just finished the long haul we call High School or you got yourself a pricey degree from one of our esteemed colleges, you are on your way! Or maybe you didn’t and that feeling of *Oh Shit* is sitting like a rock in your stomach. lol Either way this message is for you.

My lovely, I want you to know you have time. All around you is this perceived timeline of when we need to have things done by and you need to know it’s simply NOT TRUE. You don’t have to figure out your life’s path at 18, You don’t have to finish college in four years, you don’t have to have a partner by 25 or you’ll be doomed to be single forever. Many of the most successful people I know, and by successful I mean pursuing a career they are passionate about, didn’t figure it out until their thirties or in my case, forties! As long as you are moving FORWARD you are doing okay. No, living at your parent’s house till you are forty does not count as forward. 🙂 So try things out. Make adjustments. Just keep moving forward and You are going to get there. Am I the only one hearing Dory in my head? Just keep swimming! lol

I want you to know that your twenties are meant for the pursuit of happiness. Find your tribe – the people who make you laugh hard and think deeply. The people who accept you no matter what. I know I am a quirky, flawed human being, but the people in my inner circle love me for me – without judgement. That’s what your tribe does. Next on the Pursuit of Happiness is to Figure out what makes your soul zing. Maybe it’s Writing. Helping others. Travel. Spending time in Nature. Whatever it is, you know you have found the right thing when hours go by and you have completely lost track of the time because you are so engrossed in this activity. It’s important to find your passion because when life gets dark and difficult, and it can get dark and difficult, lovelies, it’s your passions that lift your heart and elevate your mood. Show me a person with no passion and I will…. well, just find your passion gosh darn it!!

Lastly, you, my lovely, are enough. I know you are looking around and thinking everyone else is more beautiful, more talented, more driven, but it is just. not. true. You, with all your complexities and insecurities and vulnerabilities are what makes this world a more interesting place. The world doesn’t need one more or one hundred more of the same human being. Can you imagine One hundred people trying to be Miss Patty?! lol Scary, isn’t it? It sounds silly, but we spend too much time idolizing others instead of getting on with the business of being ourselves. DO YOU. BE AUTHENTIC. Be broken and flawed and fabulous. Miss Patty always says, True happiness only comes when who you are on the inside matches up with the who you show to the world. Facts.

I Hope the next five or so years are full of magic, mishaps, and a million good laughs. Here for you always. Xxx

Milestones

Light The Fight

I stumbled onto this podcast recently. It’s called Light the Fight. I know, I know, I don’t love the name either lol and it turns out the creators of the podcast debated what to call this endeavor, but Light the Fight it is. Anyway, in the summer of 2015 a young man took his life and as a result his mother, Heidi Swapp, and his therapist, David Kozlowski, joined together to help parents navigate the hard job of loving and raising children. Now you know this is my wheelhouse, friends, and I love the topics they tackle. I also love the humor and the rawness that accompanies each podcast. No one has all the answers, but as I listen along I sure as heck wish I had been able to access some of this before losing Luke.

So, I am giving up my space to introduce you to something helpful. If you have a hard child or you know someone raising a challenging kiddo.. wait… IF YOU ARE A PARENT lol you should give Heidi and David a listen. Put it on in the car on the way home from work, BEFORE you deal with homework and screen time and girlfriends. You’ll be glad you did. Xxx

Things that help