Sometimes, It Stings.

It is midnight.

I am trying to finish prepping Pride and Prejudice for tomorrow when I realize that my thirteen-year old is avoiding going to bed.

I finally question her hovering.  “You just went to the bathroom and got water.  What are you doing?”

“I had to blow my nose,” she responds.  However, her voice has a lilt in it.  I can tell something is wrong.

Hmmmmm.  I feel agitation.  I want nothing more than to finish my reading.  She is at least an hour passed when she should go to sleep.  Ugh!  I am feeling a little undone because I am pms’ing and the dishes are never put away and no one else seems to be able to fold the laundry and the damn garage door needs fixed.   To be honest, I just want to go to bed but I have a lot of reading left and the minutes on the clock are ticking away.  I sort of feel like an emotional roller coaster, so to have my thirteen-year old daughter milling around when it is already midnight makes me feel like I could teeter or I could totter. Either way, it might not be pretty.

“Carson, it is late. You need to go to bed.”  I speak these words in the calmest, most motherly voice I can muster.

Of course, she says good night, but then, from behind her not-so-closed-door, I hear crying.

Momentarily, I assess the situation:  I need to finish prepping.  It is late.  She should already be asleep.  I should be asleep.  Shit.

I walk into her room.

“Carson, are you crying?”

“Sort of,” she says through a mixture of sniffling and tears.

“Why?”

“Because Susie is having a birthday party and I wasn’t invited.”

Susie.  A dance friend.  A friend that is a friend but not really a friend but seems like a friend because proximity puts them in the same building together four days a week.

Upon this proclamation, she lets go.  If I could teach actresses what true blubbering is, this is it: snot and tears and saliva and a constant wiping into arms and pillows and covers.

(If the sanitary police exist… we may need to be arrested.)

Watching this fiasco of emotion, I feel somewhat ambivalent.  It is late. She is overtired.  I am overtired.  I selfishly wish I would have let her cry it out.  What is it that she wants me to do?  Offer advice?  In the state I am in, my advice will either be to address Susie directly or tell her off, with the latter winning in my brain as she exhales the jagged breath of a crier.

As she escalates up her emotional Mount Olympus, some paradigm shifts in my brain.   Wait!   I will not have to spend thirty bucks to buy a gift for some kid I do not really know? 

Cha-ching!

The Hyde of my dispassionate Jackal realizes the pain she is feeling:  Someone told her about a party she was not invited to and  she believes the inviter to be a friend.  She feels ostracized.

“What do you expect from this crying, Carson?  Will this solve any of your pain?”  I ask.

“No!”  She takes a deep breath and cries harder.

I inhale deeply.  I count to three.  What to say?  What to say?

“Honey, this friend is a friend now, but she will not always be, and even in two months, her party will be arbitrary.”

I go for reason.  It doesn’t work.  She crosses her arms at the elbows and covers her face.

Yet, I still continue with reason.  “Carson, this is just one party of hundreds of parties in the course of your life.   She made a mistake!  Chances are you might not even remember Susie in twenty years.  Please do not let one little indiscretion hurt your feelings.”

“Okay,” she says as she tries to control her breathing.  She knows that I am right, although I cannot take the hurt away.

*****************************

 At thirteen, her world is so limited that she is unable to see a bigger picture.  As much as I want to protect her and punch all the little Susie’s of the world in the face, she is experiencing reality:  sometimes, you are not invited to the party; sometimes, the friends that you put all of your hopes in end up leaving you in the end; sometimes, what you thought was real was not actually there.   But, there will be other parties and other friends and more experiences that will fill her with joy.

Hold out Carson, it will be better soon.  And don’t forget.  I am your mother.  If you need me to, I can ruffle some feathers.

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In Memoriam Irish Katie

I spend a great deal of time during the holidays feeling lucky and grateful for the people who have had a positive impact in my life over the course of the year.  I think of my neighbor who has become our friend; a woman who is always willing to help with the girls.  I think of my brother who has shown me the true meaning of perseverance, working tirelessly to achieve his goal of becoming a pilot.  I think of the many students who have sat in my classroom; these young adults make me feel young, to feel invigorated, to feel excited about learning.

It is not odd, then, to think that many people in the blogging world have had an impact on me over the course of the last year.  Even though I wrote less in 2013, many of my followers eagerly commented when I chose to post.

  • I got excited when my friends, people who have known me for years, took time out of their busy schedules to read– Marta, Scott, Amy, Kim, and Jill, just to name a few.

I got down right giddy when my blogger friends commented, too.  You see, as ridiculous it might seem to people who do not spend real-time in a virtual world, I have gotten to know my blogger friends on a very personal basis.

  • I looked forward to the wisdom of Richard, both through his words on his own blog and his comments on mine.  His positive, good-humored attitude makes me look forward to growing old, shatting accidents and all!
  • I looked forward to the insightful snarkiness of the twenty-something Becca.  She has brought me laughter and a reminder of how important it is to discover oneself and experience youth for what it is.
  • I especially loved the relationship I developed with Irish Katie, a woman I felt a kismet connection because of our similar age, similar attitudes, and similar love for our daughters.

Thus, it came as a complete surprise and an utter blow when I learned this past week that my friend, Katie, someone I never had the pleasure of meeting in real life, passed away this past October.  She announced in June that she was battling ovarian cancer, but I was hopeful that modern medicine and her healthy living would allow her body to kick cancer’s ass.  Even when she stopped writing often, I kept faith that it was only because of the exhaustion and sickness caused by radiation that kept her from her computer and communicating with all of us that loved her in the blogosphere.  I kept the faith that one day soon we would be sharing anecdotes and stories once again.

I may have never known Katie but I feel like we were friends.  I will miss her comments– her “*giggles*” and “*hugs*.   I will miss her *smiles* and her special nod nod.  Through her comments and her own writing, I knew Katie– a positive, insightful, introspective, loving woman who has been taken from this world far too soon.

I think we all fear that in death, will people remember us?  Will we have made an effect in anyone’s life?  Well, Irish Katie, you made an effect on me, and I want you to know that I will never forget you.  You taught me that it is better to giggle and laugh then it is to cry.  You taught me perseverance through your countless posts about training for a mini-triatholon, and even though you were never able to accomplish this goal, your efforts will always put you in the win column.  Most importantly, you reminded me of my love for my own children through your love for Rachel.  I can only imagine how difficult it will be for Rachel to live without you, but over time, the pain will lessen, and she will know that even though your earthly body died, your love for her will never, and that you will always live on in her memories, and in her future accomplishments and joys.

Thank you Irish Katie, for being a part of my life for the last year and a half.  I will honestly miss you.

The Golden Rule

Since the time of Confucius, and probably even before that, man has been very aware of the concept of the Golden Rule.  Confucius himself said, “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.”

And all of the major religions of the world have a similar concept. All religions, although most religious zealots would not agree, actually have the same spiritual tenet running through their belief system.

  • Buddhists believe: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.”
  • Christians believe: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
  • Jews believe: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”
  • Hindus believe: “One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self.”
  • Muslims believe: “That which you want for yourself, seek for mankind.”
  • Even atheists who do not believe in a higher power believe in the rules of reciprocity.

So, pretty much close to eight billion people are in agreement that we all believe that if we treat others well, speak well, and create a welcoming environment, we in turn will be treated the same.

Hmm.  It sounds a bit like karma.  Personified, karma is either an angel or a devil, a well-wisher or a bitch.

I am fairly certain that as individuals, we need to look past our differences and see the commonality of our wants and desires.  Whether you live in a house or an apartment or a tin structure in the middle of the desert,  I feel optimistic that at the core, our wants and desires are the same.  We all want health, happiness, and a sense of peace.

Maybe, just maybe, if we spend less time pointing out our differences and more time finding our common thread, karma will be a bit kinder to us all.

Maybe, just maybe, the sun will seem to shine a little brighter and the smile shared between strangers will be from a place of kindness and mutual respect.