Beautiful Boy

Eight years ago today, I was rebuilt.

Everything I thought I knew or believed to be true fell away to become inconsequential dust. You changed me as nothing ever could and I shed the weight of alone when I became your Mother.

rowan 3

Thank you, Rowan. For teaching me true love, what dreams really are and for awakening in me all that had long been dormant. Because of you, I am a better woman. It is an honour to be your mom.

My beautiful, brilliant boy. Every second of every day, I wish you something wonderful.

Happy Birthday.

And So It Begins

This post might have a lot of typos and bad grammar but that’s only because I’m trying to write it while laying face down on my bed with a pillow over my head. The worst has happened. I may never be the same.

My seven-year old son has a girlfriend.

I knew it was inevitable but still. I asked him how his day was at school and he told me. Quite happily.

“It’s Lana, Mom. She told Cohen that she LOVED me!”

In my shocked mother-mind I thought,“Well, she’s a forward little thing”. But I just said “Okay.”

“Yeah. And she held my hand while we waited for the bus!” Mother-mind yelled “Whorebag!” My mouth said “What?”

“Well, she just kind of grabbed my hand, Mom. I only held it for a little while.” Mother-mind thought “What’s with this little hussy? After ONE day? Isn’t hand holding at 7 like third base?

I calmed down. Spoke rationally.

“Son, I’m not sure that’s allowed at school.” I did okay, right? “What do you think about this girl?” (That’s what you say, right? Supportive, interested, not wanting to slap some sort of chastity belt on your son? Right?)

“Well, last year, Cohen was her boyfriend and before that she liked Daniel. ” Mother-mind: “This broad sure gets around a lot, don’t she?”

“It might be okay if she and I went to the same College or University but we’ll have to see.” (Hear that? My boy is planning for his FUTURE! Take that, you grade two HARLOT!)

“Mom? I’m won’t hold her hand anymore. I promise. And you can’t tell anyone! If her brother finds out he’ll KILL me!” Mother-mind filed that piece of info away under Hmm . For later use.

“And Mom? We will never speak of this again. You must tell NO ONE.”

Apparently he doesn’t understand what a blog is. “Okay, my sweet, little, itty-bitty baby boy, my only child, my only one ever. Okay. Please don’t grow up too fast.”

He hugged me and said, “It’s okay, Mom. We’ll probably live with you when we get married anyway.”

 

Family Vacation (Now With More Snakes)

I have so many posts I have to write but due to absolutely craptastic internet connection and rampant depression I’m behind. To catch you up on my summer, I’ll use three words:It sucked shit.

I took forever to heal from my appendix surgery, as my stupid body is getting old and cranky about such things as being cut open. I remember the days I could fall down a flight of stairs or get in a knife fight and be up and around in a week. (Only one of those is true, surprisingly.) So I mostly laid around and gained weight. I also had to put my old dog down and that was terrible. And I ended up with bronchitis. The end.

Kidding. But yes, I have been battling an epic case of depression. To the point I just felt like giving up, laying my head down and letting it all go on without me. But that’s not who I am. The anger sets in and I get furiously busy being furious at my mood. Then I start making lists. Lists of what I’m afraid of, what’s holding me back, why I never let this depressed me win out. What I would say to myself if I had the chance to step out of my head and give myself one hell of a good talking to. It goes something like this:

Smarten the fuck up! Life is for the living! You have a child! Get on with it! Look at this place! Clean it up! It could be so much worse! You could live near snakes!

Snakes? My primal fear. I will repeat my feeling on snakes for you. Ahem.

The only good snake is a snake that eats another snake, feels guilty about it and then commits Hara Kiri.~Leanne Moffat (Yes.You may quote me.)

I decided we needed to salvage some of the summer, get away from our grief, me to get over myself. Here in Alberta there is an interesting place called Drumheller. They’ve found many dinosaur skeletons there and have a wonderful museum. It’s also home to a place called Reptile World that has all manner of nightmare inducing reptiles. Destroying primal fear and dinosaurs? Can you say two birds with one stone? Off we went.

The World’s Biggest Tourist Trap, I mean Dinosaur.

We paid $29 to climb 100 steps in 30C heat. We took a picture to prove we’re idiots.

RAWR! (I just wanted to type that once in my life.)

I managed to hold him still for a moment.

A good perspective. Mildly interesting for the boy. For 6 seconds.

He’s good here and happy, because I had to tickle him to make him smile. Miserable little bastard.

Look at the sunshiney joy in his face! All because I said something like “Get the hell away from the canyon edge!”

“Hold it? Okay!” Notice my hovering, ready to grab it and kill it.

Now this, this is COOL!

At this point, I had a nice convo with the young, sweet snake man. He said “Would you like to hold her?” I asked him if red made her pissed off, like a bull. “Um, no, they can’t see colour.” You’re certain she won’t get all bitey with me? Because of the red? “Um, well, she’s 18 and she has bitten anyone yet.” I’m certain he’s lying but go ahead. Primal fear, be damned!

Oh Dear God! I’m about to hold a fucking snake!

FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST, DON’T PET THE SNAKE! YOU’LL MAKE IT BITEY!

I’m alright…I wish it would quit fucking moving.

Okay, it’s been 2 seconds. I think that might be enough now.

I did it! I held a SNAKE! Yay me! I actually even watched them eat. I learned. Fear now over.

That’s this one for now. Oh wait. One more.

Signs all over telling you not to crawl on or hump the fake mini dinosaurs. Hello? Dangling candy in front of an immature woman!

A good fun trip. It helped. Broke the funk.

I am getting happier, sillier day by day.  Fingers crossed.

Love you all.

A Dog Shaped Hole In My Heart

I got Daisy when I was 31. I was living with one of, if not the best abusers on the face of the earth. He happened to be a police officer which made him that much better at it. He knew how not to leave marks. Every day was an interrogation, a trial, which I inevitably failed at. I lost 20 pounds in less than 6 months. I didn’t eat. I barely slept. Panic attacks became my reality and I started to shake when I knew he’d be coming home. He decided to move us out to the country. I believe it was just to have more control over me and less prying eyes.  At that time, I decided I needed a dog, as an alarm, as protection from cougars and bears.To let me know when he was coming home. And of course because I needed company.

My parents had come to visit and while they didn’t know precisely what was going on, I think on some level my dad knew how bad it all was. Without any forethought and with the abusive ratbastard beside him, my Dad bought me a puppy.

He handed it to me as if it  were a gold-plated sapphire. “It’s a female! There was some guy selling them outside of a tire shop! She was only 50 bucks! She peed on me on the way here but that’s okay. She seemed like the quietest one.” And lo, I had a dog.

I found out within a few days why she was the “quietest one”. She was sick. So, so sick. Didn’t eat, wouldn’t drink. I made 3 trips to the vet, Daisy staying overnight with an I.V., just to bring that poor sick little puppy around. Abusive ratbastard kept raging about how a bullet would be cheaper than that fucking dog. I didn’t care. In less than 2 months, she went from a $50 dog to a $900 dog. But she was mine. The more he tried to crush me, the more I loved the dog. When I thought about ending me, I stayed here for the dog.

I think I’d had Daisy 3 months when I left. She gave me the strength and love to move on. After that, it became “love me, love my dog”. Two years later, she went on the second date I had with my hubby. He passed the test.

Daisy was with me through our courtship, baby and marriage. She was treated as a member of our family. My hubby bonded with her when Daisy went fishing with him and had to lick every fish he caught. When she greeted him at the door at the end of the day. And when we brought our new baby son home, she sniffed him head to toe and wagged her tail, as she finally had her own child to play with.

I kept her here for maybe 2 years longer than I should have. Her hips were gone, to the point that she had to be helped up a couple of steps to get into the house. She was losing her bladder control. Her breath. I made the decision last Saturday. I knew. She knew. We were both very brave as we took our final walk and car ride. She had chicken for breakfast and a hot fudge sundae as a treat. Chocolate is bad for dogs but on their last day here exceptions can be made. I held her and thanked her for all she’d meant. She butted foreheads with me, which was her “I love you and I get it” sign. It was peaceful. And my heart broke.

We went away for a few days this week as a distraction from our grief. When we got home I checked messages. The vet had phoned and Daisy’s ashes had arrived at the office. I dropped everything and told my boys,”I’m going to pick up our girl and bring her home.” They both got teary and nodded.

Tonight is a blue moon and we sprinkled her ashes around the yard she loved so much. How perfect. How fitting for my rare dog.

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. ~Anatole France 

Bye, Daisy. Good girl!

My Sweet Blabbermouth

When you have a child, you wait breathlessly for that first word, that first verbal acknowledgment that yes, your sweet baby does indeed have the means to communicate with you, in a way other than sobbing.

Say mama, Poopy! Say Dada! (Yes. I called my son Poopy for the first 2 years of his life. I only quit when I realized that this was one of the major ways I would ruin his ego. Just the first of many, I’m sure.)

His first real word was ‘Hi’. He was 6 months old and the. smartest. fucking. child EVER BORN!!!

Well. My dear sweet little boy became a talker. With a slightly British accent. (I have no idea where that has come from.)

Now, at 7, having been talking, singing and generally making lots of sounds for only 6.5 short years, this child will. not. shut. UP!

I am honest when I say that his dad and I have asked him to please, PLEASE, just talk in his head for 10 minutes. Please. please. please.*whimper*

I hate doing it. But when my ears are ringing and I am so confused  by trying to keep up and respond that I can’t think and he bursts into song for the umpteenth time, I just want  some silence. Or some duct  tape.

I can’t ‘fake’ not hearing him. Oh no. If I do that, I get ‘Mom. Mom? Mom? Mom. Mum. Mum. Mum. MOM! MOM! MUM! MUM!‘ Ad nauseum. Until I bellow something motherly like “Ch my god, WHAT?”. To which he will reply, “May I ask if you heard me?”.

I told you. He’s like a little Brit. Many things are prefaced with ‘May I ask?’.

“Mum, may I ask why there are candy wrappers on the table in the morning? May I ask where you keep this chocolate of yours?”

He wants to be a cop when he grows up. I think he has a grand start on interrogation tactics.

By bedtime, his father and I are exhausted. We barely talk to each other. Just the odd grunt ,nod or point. We’re like Cave Men!!! (Well hubby kinda always was…).

Now my poor sweet boy has lost some teeth. ( Have you noticed how little kids go from being cute to being snaggle toothed freaks for a couple of years? Yeah, we’re in that time. I’m already window shopping at orthodonists offices.)

Release the Kraken!!!

Release The Kraken!!!

Poor guy. Missing all these important teeth has now given him a lisp. And a horrible case of the spit showers.

Sad part is that as much as I need some quiet, in a few short years, I’ll be begging him to talk to me. And I’ll miss my little blabbermouth.

Different, Not Less

I feel obligated to write this. It may be different from everything else of mine you’ve read, but it needs to be written. And I need to purge.

A while back, I wrote about my Uncle Brad. https://onlyoddduck.wordpress.com/Brad If you’ll remember, he has cognitive impairments, autistic symptoms, hearing loss, and now is going blind. I saw him briefly at Christmas. This is his story, in honour of him. This is also a cautionary tale and a call to arms for anyone with a loved one who may be differently- abled.

My grandmother did the best she could for Brad. There wasn’t the knowledge and expertise that there is now, 30 years ago. She moved off of her beloved farm into the city, just to get Brad a bit more help. As I’ve said before, he never was given a concrete or specific diagnosis. I recall once, when he was in his teens, a diagnosis of “Emotionally Disturbed”. To me that smacks of Autism, yet also makes no sense. Like I said, we’ve learned a lot.

He lived with his mom, went to school until the age of 21. He had a job at a recycling depot. He was functional. He wasn’t “one of them”. I think my grandma’s mortification possibly prevented him from getting more assistance and training in life skills. But I don’t begrudge her anything. She did the best she could with the knowledge she had at the time. Plus, he could be so “normal”. He was just Brad.

Then she died. He was 33. He’d never lived on his own and had only ever had his family for support. What now?

He tried to live on his own with my mom and dad for support. I’d help when I could, but I lived in another city an hour and a half away. I remember, he would obsessively clean the house after work. It was as if he thought if the house was clean, he’d be seen as capable and could stay there. Yet he’d wash a dish and turn the faucet on all the way to hot, so hard, he would have to phone my folks to drive over and turn it off. Once I found him trying to clean something off of a table top with a screwdriver. Brad also couldn’t sleep through the night. His OCD would have him getting up at all hours, to check that the door was locked.

It finally came to a point that he needed to live in a group home, for his own safety. The town where he lives found him a spot in a new supported living group home. The operator of this home had no qualifications or training, however she had a daughter who was schizophrenic. Apparently this qualified her to get money from the government and have 4 extra disabled folks living in her house. Now, here’s the interesting thing.

Did you know that if you have a mentally disabled person living in your house, you get less money than if you have a mentally ill person living in your house? Yeah, me either.

Brad has always told himself jokes. He’s always talked a bit under his breath to himself. It’s part of who he is. I tell myself jokes all the time. I talk to myself all the time. But because of this woman’s ‘expertise’ in mental illness, she decided to convince a psychiatrist that Brad was delusional and having auditory and visual hallucinations. That he was potentially dangerous. Just like that, he went from being disabled to being a mental health patient.

And his group home operator? She got herself an extra $700 dollars a month. He was put on pills. Lots of them. In the psychiatric industry, we call them chemical restraints.

He was drugged when I’d go to pick him up. To the point of bladder and bowel control problems. He was dirty. His clothes were filthy. As I was working in mental health at the time, I about lost my mind. He moved. As fast as we could do it. As an aside, that lady? She ran her home unimpeded until she left town several years later.

In the last 10 years, Brad hasn’t been unmedicated. I believe he is still under the psychiatric umbrella. He now lives in a group home that is very well staffed, clean and comfortable. He’s well liked and well looked after. He is a different man than a decade ago, but for all intents and purposes, he is happy. He still tells himself jokes. But the people who care for him make him speak up so that they can hear.

The point of all this? When I saw him at christmas, I realized that he is aging far more rapidly than you and I. He will need more care than can be provided to him, sooner rather than later. All that is available where he lives are regular long-term care facilities. I’ve worked in them. It will be absolutely the wrong place for him. Trust me when I say the chemical restraints will just get tighter. A drugged, bedridden patient is much easier to care for than one like Brad.

My folks are aging. He lived with them as long as he could. They haven’t the stamina to have him back. Their health should be their priority. Rightly so.

It falls to me. To that end, a couple of years ago I started phoning around to see what steps I needed to take. I was told by a lovely lady who has made this her life’s work that it was going to be an uphill and unhappy battle. As she put it, “In this country, one province does not want another province’s retarded people”. She told me that I would probably not be able to get funding for him here and that to the powers that be, it was my problem, not theirs. She also told me to never move him into my home, because I would never be able to get him out. Meaning, if this government knew he was here, they would move at a snail’s pace to keep him here. Not their problem, right?

I’m not sure what will happen in the future. My husband and I have discussed it. We both understand that having my Brad rotting in an old folks home 5 hours away would be unthinkable. My mother knows it, too. She also knows that when she passes, I will be his voice.

Here’s my voice. We must remember that above all, anyone with a disability or disorder is not less human than we are. They are to be accorded the same dignity and treatment without question. We must realize that family, who are most often advocates for those that can’t speak for themselves, will pass on. As a human society, we must protect these folks in their age, as we would want to be protected. We must demand that there are facilities for the aged that are specifically designed for people who are mentally disabled. Psychiatric hospitals are not the answer.

I’m so tired of knowing of people who’ve slipped through the cracks. I’m so tired of worrying. I’m tired of people being labelled as nothing. He is my loved one. He is my Brad. He didn’t do anything wrong. He’s here. Just like your loved ones.

We need to get our governments in this game. Before it’s too late.

“I am different, not less.” Temple Grandin

He Means Well

My father is an interesting man. He’s an engineer by trade and any of you who have one of those in your family will know what I’m talking about. Engineers think on a different realm than you and I and therefore, flash their ‘geeky fucker’ badge even when trying to fit in with the rest of the world. It’s truly only been in the past couple of years that my dad has stopped wearing a fully loaded pocket protector around the house. I shit you not. I think he slept with that thing on in case he had to ‘make a quick note’. Sadly, he has replaced it with suspenders on his pants (even rainbow ones, like Robin Williams in “Mork from Ork’)(No fucking joke. Mom threw those out. Now he wears red ones. Or black. Depends on the mood.) and horrible dorkish watch cap hats, toques for us Canucks. But he doesn’t snug them down tight on his head. Oh no. He likes to pull them up into a cone right in the center of his bald pate. Gives the old noodle room to breathe.

Mom is beside herself.

“I got your Dad a new toque for christmas. Sonofabitch had to snoop at the receipt and found the sumbitchin thing so I gave it to him early. Oh good god, why can’t he wear it like a normal person? What’s with the cone? Your Dad has a pointy head anyway! Does he have to accentuate it? I am not going out in public with him!!”

This all said right in front of him.

Well, this is about the advice and such my dad has given me over the years. Not his gleeful penchant for looking like a dink. So here we go.

“Never get into a pissing contest with a skunk!”

All right. Sounds reasonable. I’d probably lose even if I could find a skunk willing to compete, only because I’d have to shinny my fat arse out of my too tight yoga pants and squat, being I is a female. But if it was a contest with a female skunk wearing yoga pants, I guarantee I’d win in sheer volume of liquid. Only because I drink a lot of water and forget to go to the bathroom. I can see the shamed skunkette now, lowering her tail in defeat.

“Always talk to the front end of the horse.”

Again, sound advice. I tried once years ago to have a vodka fueled conversation with the back-end of a horse. All I really remember is having a few of my teenaged girlfriends pull me up off the ground after slipping in horse shit. I don’t think the horse had much to say. But in future I will always try to find its front before I converse. Lesson learned.

“Put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig.”

No, it’s not. It’s Miss Piggy!

“Don’t piss in the wind!”

Are you seeing a theme here? I believe my father thinks I have a penis. He’s got one kid. How you could fuck that up is beyond me.

“Don’t shit where you eat.”

I think this was his attempt at career advice, and I hope that was it because, really?

“When you get a cold, go out to the bar. Drink lots of scotch. Your cold will get drunk and forget who it’s supposed to go home with.”

That one has actually worked for me.

“Men don’t understand froofy language. We need you to get to the point. When you say, I feel, all men hear is blah, blah, blah. Talk to a man like a man talks to a man. He’ll get it then.”

Best. Advice. EVER!!!

He took me to the dr. when I was 27.

“What are you going to the dr. for?”

“Nothing.”

“Well you can’t go to the dr. for nothing. What’s up?”

“Nothing.”

Silence.

“What are you going to the dr. for?”

“Jesus christ Dad! I think I have a yeast infection okay?”

Stunned silence.

And then, my dear father, with a vague look of disgust on his face says,very quietly,

“You women. You’re always bleeding or leaking or something.”

Touche, Dad. Touche.

The poor fellow. For such a smart man, you’d think he’d know when not to ask. But he’s held his own with my mother and I. He’s taught me to change my oil and spark plugs, to throw a ball like a man. Even to throw a punch like one.(Don’t cross me!)And now, in my adulthood, he’s become a damn good friend.

But I really don’t want him giving my son any advice. Poor kid is confused enough with out all the strange animal platitudes.