I Love My Job … and I get SO sad.

My bosses had me in tears yesterday.

My heart is so sad for our kids. Divorce really hurts the children. So few of us divorce well. Being used as pawns to injure their other parent, being shuffled from one house to another and, often, coming home to an empty house. Parents who have “no time” and “have to work” and think nothing of telling this to their children. Every day there’s another story to listen to (and I know they’re one side of the whole story). Every day there’s another child to “worry” about.

We had a fourth or fifth grader this week who is behaving badly on the bus. His mom won’t get out of the car to talk to the bus driver because she “works” and “has meetings” … blah! blah! What this translates to, is that she doesn’t have time to help her child. She’s telling him that, at least. And he’s an angry boy. He “doesn’t care” but cries when confronted about his behavior. He’s just a little boy. He needs to know that he’s loved and valued. His parents are the most important people in his life.

I had a third-grade girl in the clinic for quite a while this week. She obviously didn’t feel well (kids get this look around their eyes) but she so wanted to talk. She and her classmate were chatting as I knitted. She said her mom is an alcoholic who isn’t working (sits on the couch all day but makes a killer lasagna) but stays out late with her motorcycle friends. They’ve moved in with her grandparents. Her aunt and cousins have, too. She’s often awakened in the middle of the night when they come in. When I called mom to see if she’d come pick her up, the angry, clipped response was, “tell her to stop faking and go back to class.” My boss said that mom was an active participant in her life three years ago but it seems that she’s just given up.

I know I can’t save the world but the boss saw me crying this week. I work every day to be a smile at the start and end of a child’s day. I hug them. I talk to them. I make eye contact. I find them food when they haven’t had breakfast and give them pep-talks. I give them permission to tell me what they would like to do – call home, rest for awhile. Most of them don’t have any idea what they want. I hope that I’m making a positive difference and teaching them that someone cares.

Sometimes it’s a heavy weight on my shoulders but I was “called” to be around young children. I missed having young children in my life. I love my job.

Gone knitting.

Empty Nests

Baby birds have left the building

The baby birds have left the building.

I have been watching a nest full of baby birds this summer.

When I first arrived here in Maine, the nest was active (mom and dad were flying in and out) but I couldn’t see anything in the nest. After a few weeks, the tippety tops of baby heads were visible. In the last week or so the nest has been very full of four little birds who would huddle in the nest together and stare back at me when I peeked out from our bedroom window.

I tried on several occasions to get a decent photograph of the babies in the nest but mom and dad would dive-bomb me and I didn’t dare spend enough time to take said picture.

So, the best thing that I can do is report that the the babies have all fledged as of yesterday morning. The first baby flew into the living room window. Fortunately, not hard enough to harm him or her. Just enough to perhaps stun it for a little while – it sat on the sill for a few minutes before flying off with mom and dad. The last baby fledged (left the nest) yesterday morning. And they haven’t come back. I keep checking the nest. It’s still empty.

My statement to myself was, “The empty nest is a little bit sad” (or something like that) and I realized that it’s true in our house today. Once again  … our nest is empty and we’re a little bit sad this morning.

I was so lucky to have been a full-time stay-at-home mom and as my kids grew up and went on their ways (as they should), it was sad. They are all full-fledged (coincidence?) adults now and they’re happy and productive and I am so proud of them. I’m proud of myself, too. My job was to raise them to be decent human beings and then let them go to build a life of their own making. It’s not easy letting them go. There were (and still are) times when I can get very sad but I love it when we get to visit.

But time flies so quickly. And, today, no longer having my daughter and her boyfriend and little pup in the house, I’m a little bit sad. And I know that they are a little bit sad, too, as they start their long journey back to Chicago. It was a fun visit and we built some new memories. Double-fisted drinking, “binocularing”, sighting a family of loons with two babies, listening to the loons, hearing the osprey overhead, slapping mosquitoes, and sharing this beautiful place that we are so fortunate to enjoy.

It’s good that I can feel sadness because it means that I’ve felt joy. And I’ve had a lot of joy.

Gone knitting.

Not Blogging … Not Really Knitting

Gee, this working full-time sure does cut into my knitting time! It seems to affect my blogging time, too!

A Pretty Picture from Third Grade!

A Pretty Picture from Third Grade!

But the work is rewarding and fulfillng even at the (what did the Principal say at the time of my interview?) horribly low pay. Apparently my pay comes from the state which funds the special services program and it’s lower than what the school district would pay a temporary employee. The good news is that I chose well and I love the classroom that I’m working in and enjoy working with the other teachers and our students, too.

And today our teacher is proctoring the FCAT so it’ll be the Assistant and me in the classroom. She’s the sub and I’m the assistant and it’s “Fun Friday” so we’re going to be doing some Science and will be sprouting beans in our classroom and keeping watch over them and taking notes about what happens! Yesterday they were excited about it … and we hope they will be today!

But enough of that, I’ve go to run to get ready and out of the house …

Gone teaching!

Proud Mama!

You can tell I haven’t been knitting enough because I am blogging this week about WIPs, our new Big Brown Dog (Monk) and now being a proud mom. This is supposed to be a place where I write about knitting but it’s also my way of sharing bits and pieces of my life.

I have three big pieces of my life in my three children. The last few years haven’t always been easy. When parents go through a divorce, it directly affects a family and my kids have had some “issues” to deal with which have not been easy. It’s been difficult for me to be perceived as the “strong” parent because I’ve had to live a life without seeing them enough -I ‘m not sure there’s a chance of seeing them enough now that they’re grown and on their own. I have had to find peace living a life that’s radically different than the old one and especially around birthdays and holidays. But I am getting away from the purpose of this post …

Easter Day Daffodils on Fifth Avenue!

Easter Day Daffodils on Fifth Avenue!

We spent a weekend in New York City around Easter time and all three of my kids were there. I was thrilled to have them all in the same city and I am so proud of the people that they’re becoming! My youngest, my son, is in transition now and thinks he’s moving to New York. A terrifying prospect for a mom but he feels it’s time for him to give it a try – and why not try while your sister is there and you have a couch to land on! My younger daughter is my “body double” (maybe not today’s body, but even I see the likeness from when I was young!) and she’s got a real big job at a university in Chicago and seems to be content in her life there. My oldest one is why we were all there …

On January 1, she got engaged to long-time love, Spencer and one of the steps is to meet his family which we did. They’re great people and we will all support this wonderful couple. Our kids!

We also went to see my daughter in her first starring role on Broadway in “Rock of Ages”. The show has been on Broadway for a long time and is in the Helen Hayes Theater which is a small house, intimate and the perfect venue for this 80s rock party. I am proud of my girl who is living her dream and building a career. She’s got an amazing talent – and I’d like to take some credit for having encouraged her to do what she loves … and her beauty, too, of course!

This week I got a text messaged photograph.

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Yes, my kid is on a bus stop poster!

 

Yes, I’m one proud mama!

Gone Knitting!

An Easter Story

When I got divorced, my life changed drastically. It was (I was?) all turned upside down and I didn’t realize that it would never be the same. I have been working for the last six (plus) years on building a new iteration of my life. Some parts are very, very different. Some are similar. I work to maintain threads of some traditions that we valued as a family even though the family is not the same. And there are some parts that I am grateful to have given up & thrown away. We’re making new traditions, too. Figuring out how to be a family after a divorce isn’t easy and it takes time and perseverance.

The part of my life that I love the most is my children and this “Easter” (at least the few days leading up to Sunday) I got to spend some time in New York City with all three of my children. There’s nothing like it. And I am so proud (I know I’m repeating myself) of the people they are becoming … productive, self-supporting, happy, and fun to be with. All following their passions and building lives of their own. What a mother wants for her children and yet, also, requiring her to let them go … a mother’s worst heartbreak. A double-edged sword.

But this post isn’t written to make you sad. It’s joyful. I’m so happy to have spent time together in New York. And my little dogs were happy to see their “kids”, too! We also got to meet my son-in-law-to-be’s family for the first time which was a treat. Despite her concerns that someone would start a conversation about religion or politics and that everything would explode, we all got along. We all love this young couple bunches. Enough to be there for them and support them, no matter what.

What I realized this Easter is that I am “rising up” into a new life where I will be happy; filling my life with people I love and following my passions, too. Leaving the world, I hope, a better place. Making a difference in the life of a child. Just as I taught my children to do, I am now encouraging the same bravery in myself.

I didn’t take enough pictures but I have a heart-full of  memories to carry with me. Until the next time we meet!

Gone Knitting.

On Being a Mentor

I’m a mentor at my local elementary school. I had been feeling like I was missing being around children. Mine a grown and have full lives of their own; boyfriends, girlfriend, jobs, social lives, homes to clean, dog to walk … all the things that they’re supposed to have as young adults. I did my job as a mother and as a result of having done it well, my kids have moved on and are building lives of their own. It’s a good thing. And I was still feeling like I had something to offer to children. So I signed up as a volunteer with our local school district not really knowing where it would lead.

A little over a year ago, I got a call from the counselor at my local elementary school. She was looking for a mentor for a student – a third grade foster child. While the “warming up” was slow, I know now that she was holding herself back because she’d been disappointed by adults who had been in her life and was hesitant to trust that  would stick with her. We had a great time visiting over lunch at school every week. I often brought a little craft project or a book to read together or a puzzle to solve and was there for her when she decided she wanted to talk. When I met her, her foster family was going to adopt her. This fall, she moved again to a former foster home two and a half hours away from me. Now, I choose to drive down to visit with her every other week – I started out visiting every week but she’s so well adjusted now, I know she’s OK when I’m not there every week. But at first, she was having a rough time.

Last night, her “foster mom” called me and we had a face time session. I love to see her snuggled up at home and smiling because her report card was a good one and she’d been to a fun Super Bowl party. Normalcy is a good thing for children. Especially those who’ve had a rough start.

Last week I got a call from my neighborhood school again. This time, there’s a little third grader who is in crisis. Grandmother takes care of her and her siblings and cousins. We’re going to meet again next week and I’ll help her get up to speed on her math and be there for her so she feels important to somebody. No strings. No manipulation. Just a grown-up who’s there for her. This one is adorable, too. And so needy.

I’m so lucky to be able to work with these two little girls. They help me as much as I help them. They give me purpose and allow me to give something back to the community that I live in. And they give me joy – a lot of good laughs despite their difficult circumstances and hugs. There’s nothing like the full-heart feeling that you get when you make a difference in the life of a child. And there are so many children today who need a solid adult presence in their lives.

All you have to have is an hour a week and a phone to call your local school … you won’t be sorry. I’m proof!

My Trip to the Windy? City

Sunset from the "el"

It may have been windy but it was not chilly at all at the end of March. In fact, it was downright warm … Ok, let’s be totally honest and call it freaking hot! 85 degrees in Chicago? In March? Absurdly warm … and I brought long sleeves. Thank God for Target!

No particularly flattering but my chins are smiling!

Despite my actor daughter’s mysterious illness that kept her out of three shows, including the one I – and theater house manager daughter – was to attend, we had lots of time together and it was wonderful. Got to see my son briefly on his way to Michigan on Spring Break (his last). What a treat. Met daughter #2’s new beau … and like him very much.

There’s nothing quite as comforting as leaving your child knowing that there’s someone that she loves and who loves her. Someone who’s got her back. Someone who she can talk to and someone who puts up with the crazy family drama and still hangs around. My approval stamp was already taken out, used and put away. Welcome to the family, M! Thank you for loving my daughter. Daughter #1 has a man in her life who’s really special, too. I feel very grateful that they both have someone to share the ups and downs of life with  and that they don’t have to deal with “it” alone. It makes my heart feel full and calm.

We did a ton of walking and eating and talking and walking and eating. We may have had a couple of glasses of wine or a martini or two. Saw the Marilyn statue on Michigan Avenue on the way to the urgent care clinic. Went to the beach and buried Mabel – my grand-dog – in the sand. Shopped at Target and Whole Foods. Threw away a couple of organic mangoes two days later. (Boo!) Drank tea, coffee, water, rode busses and the “el”, walked and ate some more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fishy Tree on the Magnificent Stinky Mile

The flowering trees were all in bloom as were the tulips and daffodils… some smelled sweet and some, not so much! (What tree is this that smells like rotten fish?! And why did anyone think they are good trees to plant along city streets?) I can’t imagine how those who have the fortune (or misfortune) to have one of these trees outside their apartment windows survive this time of year!

Mom's Bad Hair Day - by the (used-to-be-green) Chicago River

It’s always great to spend time with my kids and this trip was no exception. I’m so proud of them all and I’m so happy to be their mom.

What a wonderful trip to Chicago – thanks, L. for letting me sleep in your bed and sharing your space with me. I love seeing you grow and spread your wings! And, K., when was the last time I got to take you to the doctor? 🙂 And my boy – you’re almost done. A couple of months of college work and you’ll have to find a real job or come and live with your mom. I’ll take care of you! 🙂 Ha! Like that’ll happen … the live with mom part, I mean!

We needed to deal with some serious family stuff that reared its ugly head while I was there. I’m full of gratitude that this stuff is coming up now when I’m feeling stronger and more capable so that I can offer support to my children as they deal with some very difficult stuff. I am so lucky to have been given the gift of these three kids.

Gone knitting (with a grateful heart).