Feeling a New Feeling

Two things have happened that are a fortuitous coincidence. One is my son and his partner moving nearby. The other is reading Brené Brown’s latest book, Atlas of the Heart.

The book has pretty quotes. This one fit in with my current ambivalence about expectations.

The book seems sorta silly in concept. It’s a list of definitions of human emotions. Apparently many people can only identify three emotions: happy, sad, and angry. So, perhaps at atlas is useful after all.

My son in 2019, by Rollie

I learned some interesting nuances about emotions, such as how jealousy and envy differ. But I also learned a new one that explained how I’ve been feeling about the possibility of having some of my family nearby.

I feel like I can’t be happy and look forward to fun times and what the future might bring. It’s called foreboding joy. Brown says it’s a nearly universal experience, especially for parents. Yeah. What a term. Foreboding joy. You can’t let yourself enjoy good things because you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Page 216 of Atlas of the Heart

That’s it. I’ll try to slide some real joy in the next few weeks. I need some goodness, strength, and courage! And I’ll write more about the book later. I’m pleased to have words to describe the weird feeling I’ve had lately. Hmm.

Our Community Is Growing

As a winter storm is barreling its way toward us, it brings hope and possibility. Thanks to the rising costs of housing and the never-ending gentrification of affordable neighborhoods in Austin, my son and his partner have made the hard decision to come out here and start over.

A place to start

In a lucky coincidence, our sweet tenants in the old cabin on the ranch property we share with Sara’s family moved to south Texas right when Declan and Rollie ran out of Austin options. We agreed to offer it to them as a more affordable option.

Such a fine deck

We all have good memories of this place. Ten years ago, this is where we celebrated New Year’s, while Sara’s house was being built. It’s quirky, but cool, so we weren’t sure what our young folks would think. So, they came up last week to look it over.

I was so touched to see how much Rollie was charmed by the place. Rollie has experience with basic living conditions. They can see potential and charm, like I can. Declan will have a harder time, but we think we can work it out. He will have his own music room! And hobby space.

We met to figure out rent and expectations. The plumbing is sensitive, so much must be taught. Vlassic helped.

Tonight we had our traditional meal. Those young folks ate a lot. That always makes me so happy.

Pork loin, cornbread, black-eyed peas, rice, collard greens, cole slaw (bonus cabbage)

Declan and Rollie wanted to go back and look at the cabin again. Did I mean toon it’s the oldest structure on the property? It predates all the neighbor houses. So we went, even though it was getting dark.

Ten years after my first New Year’s sunset, Rollie enjoyed one.

They took lots of pictures to help them figure out where to put stuff. That’s when I let myself believe they will actually move up here in a few weeks. That lowers my concern for them so much. They can find plenty of stuff to do here to meet expenses.

I’m glad to be able to provide options for these two as they figure things out. They can have their independence but not feel alone. And they can plan their next steps.

Meanwhile, Harvey is glad there are no steps to get into his new giant water dish, and Goldie says thanks for the sandbox.

I have no expectations. We talked about it tonight. This weird time has helped us learn a lot about ourselves. We don’t have to expect others to be anything other than themselves. But if I can help, I will.

One day at a time, with intention, off we go in our expanded family compound. Thanks to Sara and her family for helping us help our family.

Dolphins and Mother’s Day Wishes

My patience paid off! I have been scanning the ocean from our room every day since we got to Myrtle Beach. I mentioned before that it was oddly empty of…anything. Slowly, but surely, more things have showed up. I saw a couple of yachts, a kayak, and sailboats yesterday, and today there are parasailing boats, sailboats, jet skis and all sorts of activity. Maybe today is the first official day of “the season” or something.

What I was actually looking for all that time was dolphins. I knew they were there, but all I saw was a glassy sea. Today, though, I saw something black out there. I figured it was a sea duck or something, so I grabbed the binoculars (so glad I brought them) to check.

This time, there are dolphins in that glassy expanse.

There was at least one, and maybe two pods of dolphins out there, playing and jumping. At one point, three of them were jumping together. It was mighty fine entertainment! I had a blast, and I felt like it was my Mother’s Day gift from my Mom and Mother Nature. What a full heart I had watching those families playing together!

The black dot in the center is a dolphin heading down. Obviously I couldn’t get a real photo, since they were way out there.

It’s Mother’s Day in the US as I mentioned. It’s been hard since my older son stopped speaking to me, but I think he knows I love him anyway. Maybe I’ll hear from the other one today! I liked the new Facebook background that showed up today, of love cactuses. That’s how family is; you love them, even if it’s prickly.

My sentiments.

Sometimes you lose loved ones, they don’t appreciate you, they don’t understand your motives, or they have challenges that make loving hard for them. I’m sending love to all of them, as well as to my own loved ones I don’t understand. I’m no saint about it, myself!

I did enjoy mothering my kids!

Hug someone you’re allowed to safely hug today, and enjoy whatever gift Mother Nature brings to you, my friends!

Thirty Years Ago Today

On January 15, 1991, the Gulf War was all that was on the news. I was, however, preoccupied with other things, since the previous day, I’d taken a very bumpy and snowy drive to the local hospital in Urbana, Illinois, where I’d spent the least-pleasant day and night in my life. No one wants the gory details, but in the end, the day dawned with a new human being in the world, my son, Kynan. The name means high and mighty in Welsh, or something like that.

Cute little tongue!

I have to say that this baby brought so much joy to his parents, grandparents, and friends that it was totally worth the interventions and ickiness of his birth. We had so much fun with this bright, funny, and entertaining little soul.

He started talking at nine months. We went into the back yard to look at the stars, and he pointed up and declared, “Moon!” He’s never done things the standard way. My dad said K. was revenge for how I was as a baby and toddler. I apparently talked constantly, too. Lucky for me, I was in my element gabbing away and reading to my little buddy.

Woodland exp0lorer (sorry, bad photo; it’s high on a shelf)

He was also an annoyingly early walker, but again, that was fine. He got his dad’s athletic build and skill, that’s for sure.

Raising this young man was one of the great joys of my life. I always enjoyed his friends and was impressed with his loyalty to them. If a friend crossed some line, though, they were out. His sense of right and wrong has always been very strong. His intellect is bright and very sharp; he’s fun to debate with (he was good at it in school!). He’s a gifted musician, and I always loved listening to him play his mandolin.

Stick a beard on it, and that’s him as an adult.

The other greatest joy I had was proofreading his college papers. It was awesome to see how his writing became better and better during college. By the time he as finished, he wrote as well as me and didn’t need my help (and I couldn’t really understand the philosophy stuff, as he’d passed me long ago).

I’m very proud of his work as a high-school teacher, and have worried about him a lot during the COVID-19 period. That has had to be so challenging for someone who cares so much for his students.

Here, he looks like an angel. Even though it hurts, I look at this every day.

Anyway, it’s a sad day for me on January 15, 2021. Like many people I know, I have a child who will not communicate with me. The last time I heard from him normally was two years ago today. It’s been a hard time for both of us, I think, as there have been many challenges in both our lives. I hope though, that he is happy with his family and household, and thinks of me in positive ways, at least occasionally. I know when he’s ready, he’ll get in touch again and I’ll find out what caused him to ghost me two years ago.

If you have a close relationship with your children, tell them you love them often! And if you’re estranged, hold hope and love in your heart. That’s about all I can do. I’m not looking for advice, just sharing how things are right now. My sadness today is perfectly normal, and I’ll be fine and keep coping.

My children aren’t big on gift giving. This is my treasure, which he had made for some band fundraiser in high school.

Change is always possible, and is inevitable. I’ll be here for my son whenever he wants me to be.

Warmest Solstice Greetings

Last night, as the official solstice occurred, I went out and looked at the Jupiter and Saturn confluence (or whatever it’s called), humming “Star of Wonder, Star of Light” to myself. It was a welcome getaway from the people in the house once again discussing why they don’t like my stovetop (this is said with a laugh).

A doe in Illinois, not Texas. Photo from: @castlemandesign via Twenty20

The morning dawned frosty and silvery, with the sun practically rising in the south, it seemed to me. I was given the gift of watching a herd of deer bounding across one of the nearby fields, with the buck turning briefly to look at me. That’s enough to warm my heart for the rest of the day.

In my office, which is a bit of a mess while I await my new glass shelves, I lit all the available fake and real candles, and of course have a roaring fire in the fake fireplace. Sitting here in the darkened room gives me plenty of time to reflect on all that’s transpired since last Yule, when Lee and I were happily preparing for our supposedly solo trip to Bandera.

Don’t these look pretty?

This evening, I plan to light all the candles in the house and pretend I have a Yule log in the fireplace (unless I can convince someone to light a fire). This year, especially, the longest night of the year provides time to finish mourning the losses in the past months and look for the glimmer of light that’s approaching. I’m glad there are now vaccines for essential workers.

Solstices Past

I haven’t done a memoir in a little while, so I’ll share how my family used to celebrate the solstice. It was a lot of fun when the boys were young. As they got old enough to understand, we explained to them what the winter solstice meant, and how it was celebrated in the past.

These are all the cheap fake candles that still work after a year.

We had a tradition of having a fire, lighting all the candles in the house (and I had lots back then, since the kids’ dad was not deathly opposed to scented candles), doing a little ceremony where we shared the best thing from the past year and the worst thing (these were often pretty funny), then selecting ONE present from under the Christmas tree to open before Christmas (we also celebrated Christmas!).

Continue reading “Warmest Solstice Greetings”

The Wonder of Babies

Maybe you know this, and maybe you don’t, but back in the early days of the internet, I was a semi-famous web designer, specializing in sites for people working with breastfeeding mothers and babies. Now, THAT was a career I never would have foreseen (besides not knowing there would BE a World Wide Web, I was pretty sure I would never reproduce. My first love didn’t want children (and never had them, just cats), and I thought they’d slow down my feminist agenda, or something.

Turned out, though, that not only did I like babies quite a lot, doing websites allowed me to stay home and watch them grow, with plenty of time left to support other mothers and babies. And by gosh, I got a career out of the whole deal. That pretty much fit right in with my agenda, after all.

While that career path has dwindled a bit (oh wait, I am still the webmaster for some organizations), my enjoyment of babies has stuck with me. I love the potential. I love watching them change every day (though I haven’t had a chance to do that in a long time), I love watching parents grow and rise up to all the inevitable challenges, or lean on others when those challenges overwhelm.

This was my challenge. No sleep! Lost me a spouse! I wasn’t much fun. Photo by @andreafwagner via Twenty20.

Parenting brought me life-long friends (I have some from 30 years ago, when I first got pregnant and looked up information on online bulletin boards). Now that my friends are grandparenting, I get the joy of watching those relationships develop. It’s really amazing how my friends have been helping their children’s children during the pandemic, ranging from caring for them so the parents can work from home to home-schooling programs on Zoom.

It doesn’t appear that I’ll be a grandparent (I guess if K fathered children, I’d not get to see them, and there are some challenges for D). I guess that’s good for overpopulation. But I’ll miss having the chance to be there for my sons and their partners, and to hold and smell little ones again (yes, I remember there are also bad smells).

This generic newborn stands in for the real one, who I don’t want to plaster all over the internet, since he’s not my child. Photo by @christyhermogenes via Twenty20.

But, other people’s kids aren’t quite so set on not having babies, so I got to be a great aunt by marriage a few days ago. I’m excited, though the pandemic means I only get to see photos of the little guy. I look into his face, with eyes old beyond his age, and see so much potential. He already shows what he might look like when he’s older, with a large mouth, lots of hair, and very expressive eyes. What a wonder, indeed. His young mama is enjoying him, and his grandparents are ridiculously excited, as they should be. I get to enjoy it vicariously, which is better than a kick in the head!

The actual baby. I got permission to share. Isn’t he adorable.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next few very scary months in the world, but I’m very glad that I will have a sweet baby boy to distract me and to remind me of the timeless wonder of babies as they grow. May he grow into a world full of peace, love, and kindness.

I Forgive You. Forgive Me.

Admission: I’m not feeling too great today, and this UU Lent prompt, forgiveness, didn’t help. I shall now indulge in some wallowing in self pity. You know, sometimes you just have to do it for a while, pick yourself up, and get going again. I promise, I’ll get going again. So forgive this post. I just need to say it.

I had absolutely no clue how to parent.

With the pandemic going on, it’s just killing me that forgiveness hasn’t happened in important parts of my life. Mostly, I just want to tell Kynan that if he did anything that led him to disappear from my life, I will forgive it, because I love him. And I so dearly want to be able to ask his forgiveness for anything I did that led him to desert his mother.

I tried really hard to be a good parent. Obviously I wasn’t perfect, because there’s no such thing as a perfect parent. I know I gave them too many presents, because I’m totally clear now that my love language is gifts. Oops. That’s okay, all the kids left most of the things I gave them at home when they moved out <insert smiley face>.

Memories! What a bright little kid he was.

So today, I officially ask forgiveness of my kids, people who I felt maternal toward, and anyone who I may have hurt when they were young and vulnerable.

I also want everyone who’s hurt me that I forgive them. People mess up. People get angry and do things they wouldn’t normally do. Mental illness can color people’s interpretations of others’ motives and actions, and I know that. If I love you, I love you, warts and all. Even if I don’t forget things that happen, I can forgive you and accept you.

I will always care for these three, no matter what happens in our lives.

That was all really hard to write. Today I’m still reeling from some terrible dreams I had about Kynan a couple of nights ago. He was there, which felt great, but he kept reminding me we’re really apart. At one point, he rejected an outreached hand and said, “You know, we never really did like each other.”

No, son. I adored you and thought you were the most amazing creature on earth. I only want happiness, growth, and love for you.

Interestingly, I am wearing that same shirt today.
Equal opportunity baby picture of Declan.

Hey, I know I’m not alone. Estrangements are more common than I once realized, and I am sending virtual hugs out to anyone going through this along with me. I’d just like to know why I’m estranged, but until then, I’ll go on living and hope to heck I get to see my children and all my loved ones again, and that we all make it through this disease.

Forgive someone. Forgive me. Life’s short.

End of self-indulgent wallowing. Supportive comments will be appreciated.

Highs and Lows of 2019

Questions!

Yeah, so I said I wouldn’t be posting about goals for the year, but I didn’t say I wouldn’t pause to reflect a bit. I finally have a few minutes to actually do that, so I’m going to answer some questions originally shared by my friend (and brilliant writer) Teresa Pitman. I will also add some cheerful flower photos to prove it’s still colorful, at least among the tiny flowers outside our former church building!

What made 2019 unforgettable for you?

The most unforgettable thing is that other than one sentence when we ran into each other in the summer, my older son didn’t speak to me in 2019. I’m still at a loss about what the reason is, but I’ll never forget 2019 for that very unexpected turn of events. I honestly thought we had a good relationship and could discuss any issues that came up. It’s a mother’s nightmare, but dwelling on it and going through possible scenarios won’t help. I’ll keep waiting and sending love.

Common storksbill

What did you most enjoy doing in 2019?

There’s no one answer to this one! I crammed a lot of good stuff into the year. Here are some of my favorite things:

  • Riding on Apache and exploring the ranch
  • Playing with the dogs
  • Walking in Austin and at the ranch
  • Attending book club
  • Learning from Master Naturalists
  • Writing
  • Brainstorming in all my jobs
  • Traveling to beautiful places
  • Spending time with my family
Continue reading “Highs and Lows of 2019”
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