Merry Goosemas!

(I said this to one of my third graders as they left my classroom last Thursday. He got the biggest kick out of it and I heard him saying it to other kids as well.)

For years, my parents and my siblings and their spouses used to come to our house for Christmas breakfast. It was a tradition that I was hoping would continue. Unfortunately, it stopped due to what usually happens with family relationships – people squabble, feelings are hurt and people stop speaking to each other.

This year, I said “damn it all,” and told my parents that I really wanted them to come to our home for Christmas breakfast. It means a lot to my parents to see all of us kids together. My parents grew up in very dysfunctional environments. For them, family really is everything.

Relationships are complicated, but I think that it is up to each of us to try to work out those differences. My dad is 70 and my mom is approaching her 70’s. While both are very healthy, I also know that the reality is that things can happen in an instant. I really don’t want to waste my time fighting with my siblings. We are all better than that.

So, I’m starting the year anew, extending the olive branch. It just doesn’t feel right to have family over for breakfast and not have everyone there.


Taking a bullet for other peoples’ children

The reality of Friday’s event in Connecticut is slowly sinking in to our collective memories. The hand-wringing has begun and the vows of never-again are starting to percolate.

This is what I posted on my Facebook page just this morning (because the more I think about those babies & the terror they must have felt, the angrier & more pissed off I get).

“There are restrictions on amendments, such as the freedom of speech. One cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theater. We put limits on our freedoms when it means there is a threat to the common good. It is time to put limits on the 2nd Amendment. I’m tired & angry that we keep having this conversation & not a damn thing changes.”

It was women and children murdered on Friday, murdered in the one place they should have felt the most safe – a classroom.

Last year in the school district where I work, one of our teachers dealt with an intruder in her classroom. This intruder acted like he had a gun and threatened both the students and the teacher in the classroom. Fortunately for her, this intruder did not have a gun.

The school where I’m teaching this year was in lockdown last year. The high school is just up the hill and there had been an incident at the high school in which there was a threat of a gun. One of the police officers later shared with me that during the lockdown, one of the teachers on my campus did not know the campus was in lockdown due a phone malfunction. This teacher walked her students in a single file line right in the line of fire of the police officer. As he shared with me later, he stated that had he been the person with the gun, the teacher and those students would have been dead.

How many other schools have had to deal with lockdowns this past year? My guess would be thousands. When teachers are faced with the potential threat to their students, we do what we always do – safety for our students as a number one priority.

I also tweeted yesterday the statement that “those who bash teachers, remember they are the ones who will literally take a bullet for your child.” Every single one of the adults who lost their lives on Friday were women and every single one of those women left behind families who will grieve for them for a lifetime.

We need as a nation to start having a serious conversation about gun control. We need as a nation to do more for those who suffer from a mental illness and provide support for those family members who have loved ones dealing with a mental illness. Finally, we as a nation MUST recognize that the majority of people in our schools today are women – women who care for other peoples’ children as if they were their own.

We cannot let the lives of the women who took a bullet trying to save the lives of other peoples’ children go in vain. We must do something. We must change. We need to stop the bashing of teachers and recognize that many willingly sacrifice so much of themselves doing what they love to do – teaching because we want to make a difference.

The women who lost their lives on Friday were my colleagues and their children were my children. We as a nation can do better. We as a nation must do better.

T is going away to college

T submitted his application a few months ago and today, he is took his placement test. Our next steps will be to look into housing & for him to make his online counseling session. 

I am happy that he has followed through on this like he said he would. He has so much potential and staying where he’s at (here where we live) makes it too easy for him to fall back into bad habits & associations.

He is slated to begin in January. I know he can do this.

Where we are today

M. (my beloved Persephone for which this blog is named) lived on her own (with financial support from her dad & I) for about 9 months, then lived with her boyfriend and his family for another 9 months. During the 18 months she lived away from us, we encouraged her to find work and/or enroll in some classes. She found two jobs relatively easy, but the first she lasted a day and the second, a few months.

What I keep in mind when I start myself feeling frustrated with M. is that during this time, she was still in denial about being bi-polar. And, if I’m truthful with myself, so were her father & I. I think when we think of the mental illness “bi-polar” many of us are left to think of Brittney Spears, shaving her head and her rather bizarre, erratic behavior.

That has never really been M.

Rather than lashing out, staying up for hours on end in frantic pace, M. tends to become reclusive, depressive and lethargic. When she is in a “manic” phase, her depression and anxiety kicks in along with insomnia. So imagine being depressed and anxious and not being able to sleep for several days, despite every attempt to do so. She is a classic Bi Polar 2. (The scary stat about this diagnosis is that those who are left untreated are at a higher risk for suicide.)

What do I see now? Now that she’s back on meds (lithium and klonopin), I see a person who is much more optimistic & loving. She is talking to us and is more open with what she’s feeling. She is the girl we used to know.

I’m loving it.

Entering the winter months . . .

I mean this both literally and figuratively.  For awhile, dear Persephone, you seemed to be doing very well.  Your life looked as if it was getting back on track and you were making better decisions.  I’m not sure what has happened, but I feel you again withdrawing, going into that world that I’ve never understood.  What is the allure of that world?  It consumes you, drawing you in like a moth to light.  Will you come away unscathed this time? Or will you, like the moth, die because of an attraction that cannot be explained.

Again, I worry.  How long will it be this time before you find yourself in that dark place, unable to climb out and are successful this time in doing yourself in?

I’m losing my beautiful girl again.  I hope this time it is not for keeps.  However, I’m not sure how many more times I will get before it is for keeps.

love, mom

Growth and Change

You are making your mom quite proud.  Going to AA meetings and counseling will go along way towards making you are mentally healthier person.  Then, to top it all off, you’ve signed up for a couple of classes!

Yes, I’m very proud of you.

Then, you tell me that you have given up the friends who only want to party.  You’re not interested in living that lifestyle anymore.  I know that some of your so-called friends have been upset by your decision, but I hope you also realize that real friends stick by you no matter what.

You are growing, maturing and becoming the young woman I always knew you could be.

Yes, you make me proud.  And, you should be proud as well.

love, mom

counting fingers

When your baby is born, the first thing most parents do is count the fingers and toes, thus visibly ensuring that their baby is “o.k.” This visual once over seems to work to ease the mind of worried parents. Then, when the baby follows the milestone, rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking and babbling, the parents breathe an audible sigh of relief, thinking to themselves that their child is perfect.

However, what the parents don’t realize is that sometimes signs imperfection do not show up for many years. Most people who are schizophrenic are often not diagnosed until their late teens or early twenties. The perfect child one thought they had, suddenly is assaulted by voices, sending that child over the brink into madness.

Darling Daughter, your depression has crept upon you like a tiger in the night stealths upon its prey. One day we had a daughter who was well-liked, happy, and secure. Suddenly, that daughter was gone, replaced by a stranger, one who took to cutting in order to feel something, anything, in order to just feel, even if that feeling was one of hurt.

Like the schizophrenic, you to hear voices. The voice inside your head telling you that life is just too hard and we would all be better off without you. That voice scares me and I hope that it doesn’t finally win. It winning would mean losing you forever.

I look at you and your beautiful. You still are perfect to me.

love, mom