For the Boys

One of my biggest joys in life is being a mom to my three sons. And if you want to make an enemy for life, mess with either of them. I’ll make a career out of anyone who messes with these guys. 🙂

I have a son who just turned 31. He’s a working musician. He’s probably the single most talented person I know, and I know some talented people.

My second son (a child I really didn’t think I’d have) is 18 and a recent high school graduate. This boy is a natural academic AND a natural athlete.

Then there’s the 7 year old. (I definitely didn’t think I’d have this one!) He was born addicted and in foster care at 6 weeks old. I was his great aunt, sister to his grandmother. He came to our home when he was 8 months old. His adoption anniversary was in March.

Each of these boys have made me a better person. They challenge me and frustrate me and uplift me every single day. I am thankful God allowed me to be their mother.

Motherhood has many stages. First time moms with new babies are often sleep-deprived and unsure of their parenting skills. By the time the next one comes along, those moms are seasoned veterans who likely feel as though they’ve spent time “in the trenches”. Eventually you get to (finally) become friends with your adult children. (Remember all those times you said, “I’m your mother, not your friend”?

I’m in that last stage with the older boys. One is just now at this point. The oldest has been there for a while. They’re both in relationships with lovely young women who treat them well. The oldest is actually engaged.

Side note: I started collecting a few pieces of nice jewelry some years back, with a goal of gifting these things to the boys for their future wives. So when he told me he was going to propose, I took him to the safe where he “shopped” for an engagement ring. She loved it!

The teenager lost his favorite high school teacher to COVID19 in September. He had this teacher all 4 years of high school. They also worked together (along with my son’s best friend) at a local golf course. They were very close and my son is crushed.

He and his friend felt like they really needed to attend the funeral service, which was about a 3 hour drive into another state. Boy, was I nervous! It was all for naught, though. They made a good plan, arrived safely, and honored their teacher. They both also spoke at the memorial held by the school. Brave boys to let others see their hurting hearts. I’ve never been so proud.

Then there’s the little guy. He’s on the spectrum and we’re learning as we go. He’s very high maintenance—there’s everything from keeping the meds straight, arranging various therapies and appointments, and entertaining him. (Because everyone knows it’s a mother’s job to entertain her bored children.) (Just kidding!)

He struggled with virtual school last year. I honestly felt like he wasn’t learning anything. So, after the holiday break, we prayerfully decided to send him back to in-person school.

He has some sensory issues, so I worried he wouldn’t wear his mask. He was getting a new teacher and he doesn’t handle change very well. He has asthma, so he’s vulnerable to illness. I was scared to death. But I knew it was the right decision for him.

Unfortunately, since coronavirus arrived on scene, he’d learned almost nothing. I spoke with his wonderful teacher and asked what she thought of potentially having him repeat the first grade. She agreed that it was the best option. The main issue was that he couldn’t read.

This awesome teacher agreed to have him in her class again this school year. (She’s definitely a candidate for sainthood in my book!) Thataway, he didn’t have to acclimate to a new teacher and classroom. He comes home daily and shares something he learned. He’ll say, “I know what’s 10 plus 10….20! He can now also read enough to make calls from my phone’s contact list! (Often to their dismay!)

Wherever you are in your motherhood journey, just know that it’s worth it. You will survive, but you might need a little help along the way. And when you have the opportunity to see the good people that your children have grown into, take a minute to pat yourself on the back, because YOU did THAT.

Big love to you.

Make Molehills Out of Mountains

I’m having a tough week. I feel like I might have a cold. Only where would I have gotten a cold? I rarely leave the house. But everyone else does. So I could’ve gotten it from one of them. Anyway, mostly I’m just more tired than I usually am. I’m congested. My whole body aches. And I’ve picked up a cough. I’m monitoring it, don’t worry. If it gets worse, I’ll get (another) Covid-19 test.

I did manage to shower today. Should I be embarassed to say I can’t remember my last shower? I’m not. People without a chronic illness don’t understand how difficult it is to do these everyday things. Just taking a shower literally exhausts me.

I have another IV Remicade infusion on Thursday. I hate this drug. It hasn’t helped me at all. Like every drug they’ve tried, it’s hurt more than it’s helped. By now it’s been over three years of steroids, nearly two and a half years of Methotrexate and now this. I really just want to say I’m not doing it anymore. No more drugs. No more treatments. No more of anything that hasn’t helped and has only made me feel worse.

Being sick has caused so much discord in my home life and even with my friends. I can’t tell you how many people have said, “How many more treatments do you have to get?” Or, my personal favorite, “I thought you’d finished treatment.” People are okay with you being sick for about two weeks. After that, they’re ready for everything to be back to normal. I’m ready, too. But there’s no going back. There’s no cure for what’s wrong with me.

And there’s the frustration of needing/wanting to stay home. I have virtually no immune system. Every time I leave the house I’m risking an atypical infection; not just Covid. But nobody seems to get it. I just don’t want to spend time with my family anymore.

Did I mention the pain? It’s breaking me.

Time Marches On

It’s been a while. And lots of things have changed since I last wrote. My mother died. A global pandemic happened, with over 350,000 Americans dead this year. Hundreds of thousands more sick. We bought a house and moved (during the pandemic–no easy task!). My oldest got engaged. My youngest (7) was diagnosed with an eating disorder. My husband, Tony, finally (!) got glasses!! I was a little bit afraid he’d forgotten what I looked like. 😉 But he stuck around, so I guess he wasn’t too disappointed.

We had several high profile deaths at the hands of the police this year: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, and Tamir Rice, to name a few. And people protested in record numbers. And, in November, an incredible 81 million people voted for HOPE and Joe Biden will be sworn in as our new President on January 20 with Kamala Harris, our first female Vice-President, at his side.

Mr. Biden has a lot to contend with. His biggest challenge will be getting Covid-19 under control, but with a couple or three newly minted vaccines the hardest part now seems to be distribution. The real challenge is going to be getting the economy back on track after the shutdowns and partials shutdowns caused by the virus. Biden has committed, though, to being a President for everyone. And I believe him. He speaks kindness and faith, and that appeals to me. It calms me and makes me believe better times are ahead. We’ve had enough hate and division to last a few lifetimes.

In our little world the Christmas decorations have mostly been put away and high school basketball is about to start. The late start is due to the virus. This will be Bailey’s last year playing hoops. He’s been playing in some form or fashion since he was 3 or 4, maybe. We scrolled through photos last night at dinner, trying to decide which to use for his “Senior Board”. So many teams, coaches, uniforms. So many memories. I wonder if he has any idea how many times his teammates trusted him to take the last, game-winning, shot. Or how much faith it takes to pass the ball when you could take that last shot yourself. I hope he knows.

I asked him if he was ready for it to be over. He said he wasn’t sure. I know it’s been a lot. Six a.m. practices. Two a day practices. Always having to consider the team first. School ball, AAU ball, summer ball–it’s definitely enough to cause burnout. But, I’m not ready. I’m not ready for Senior Night that’s rapidly approaching. I’m not ready for his last uniform. Or his last coach or his last game. I’m not ready for it to be over.

Grayson Goes to “Big” School

In a few short hours from now, I’ll wake Grayson up and get him ready for his first day of “big” school. Until now, he’s only gone to half-day preschool. I don’t know what the transition will be like for him. I suspect not great.

Part of the problem is that Grayson has never slept through the night. How will he manage a full day of school when he wakes up every couple of hours? Another issue is food. He still won’t eat anything except dry, crunchy foods (so basically cereals). He drinks milk all day long. He’s going to get so hungry.

So now we have a tired and hungry boy with behavior problems.

And I’m SO afraid for him. I was never afraid like this with Brendan or Bailey. But in my heart I know that if there were an active shooter on Grayson’s campus, Grayson would not be able to hide. He just can’t be still or quiet. He’s autistic and that’s what it looks like for him: busy.

Maybe there will never be an active shooter at his school. But maybe there will. He’s already had his share of trauma. Dear God, please spare him from any more! My mother’s heart can’t take it.

I was fortunate to meet with his teacher and his other “helpers” — speech therapist, occupational therapist, teacher assistant, counselor, etc., last week. I just wanted a few minutes to tell them about Grayson….who he is, how he got here, how far he has come. In order to be the most effective with him, I felt like they needed to know.

Why does it seem like we just brought him home from Virginia last week??? I can honestly say I never expected to find myself in this position. I thought Bailey was it. Then here was this baby. The day they handed him to me I was so unprepared. At times it’s been terrifying. Other times it’s been hilarious. Tonight it’s heartbreaking.


Some very bad things happened to me when I was a child. No, that’s not accurate. Some very bad things were done to me when I was a child. The majority of it, I lay at the feet of my mother. But not all of it.

From what I’ve been told, my mom wouldn’t allow me to have any contact with my biological father, Elbert, although that’s not what the court papers told her to do.

Mom never missed an opportunity to tell me what kind of awful person he was. Mamaw Goldie often told me those were mostly lies, though, and to pay it no mind.

By the time I was a teenager I decided to send Elbert a letter, mostly out of curiosity. I was nothing at all like anyone else in my family and I wanted to know who I was like. Why did I love to read? Why did I remember almost everything I read? Who did I look like?

Eventually we ended up meeting and spending some time together. Elbert had his own family by then. I didn’t fit there. There was no place for me. I was resentful of his new family. I really don’t know what I expected from him.

During this time I didn’t ask him about the early years. I never asked why he didn’t come for me or try to see me. I just left all of that neatly packed away. Our communication sort of fell off for a number of years and picked back up again several years later when I was an adult.

And finally I did ask. I couldn’t not ask. I was a mother. I’d been divorced. And nothing and no one would’ve ever kept me from my child. I had to know how he just forgot about me, his firstborn child.

He didn’t really answer me. There was something about how the courts were different back then. (But you didn’t even try!!) Ultimately he ended up apologizing and I said I forgave him.

Now, a few years later, circumstances have changed. I’m on Facebook. He’s on Facebook. I’ve seen posts from other girls thanking him for being there for them, for being like the dad they never had. And I want to ask him, “Why couldn’t you be my dad?” He makes impassioned posts about his pro-life position and how people shouldn’t have abortions and I want to scream: “Hypocrite!! You didn’t raise the baby you made!”

And if that was the worst of it, maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t be so bad. But he knew who my mother was and he still left me with her. For ten years (I was two when it started.) her third husband molested me. And that’s just the beginning.

Now my father wants my forgiveness.

I’ve always had a vast capacity for forgiveness, believing we forgive for ourselves, not for others. I do still believe that. The small child in me is hurt, though, and needs time to work through and try to understand this. I cannot forgive him today, but I am working on it.

Hard Choices

Tonight my mother is in a hospital bed a few hundred miles away. She is in very bad shape, and the prognosis is poor. Faced with the facts, I believe it’s unlikely she’ll leave the hospital alive.

If you couldn’t tell, I have a complicated relationship with her. From the beginning she pawned me off on whichever family member would take me–usually one of her sisters–so she could go off with some man.

At a very early age I became convinced that she didn’t love me. Years later I came to realize that she loved me, in her way, but she loved herself more. That was a hard truth for a young girl, but harder still was admitting to myself that would never change.

Many of my friends and family have heard the story of her joining the carnival and abandoning me when I was twelve. What they haven’t heard is that she abandoned me over and over, sometimes to be with different men, sometimes it was booze, a lot of the time it was drugs. I didn’t know where she was or if she was coming back until she’d turn up, broke, hungover, tail between her legs.

In a way it was good when she was gone because I was safe from her. I was also safe from the men she drug in.

Anyway, ten years ago during a clean and sober moment she made a living will. In her living will she lists me as her medical surrogate–the person who should make decisions for her in the event that she cannot. I do not want to do this. I certainly do not feel as if I owe her this. She was never a mother to me. Still, I will do this for her. I will be the responsible one and I will make the hard choices.

I know she had her reasons for wanting me to be the one. I’m just not sure what they were.

Sweet Sixteen

Time goes so quickly. You learn you’re pregnant and it seems like you blink and you’re holding your baby. You blink again and the baby’s walking. Again, he’s starting kinder. Take a short nap, he’s in high school, getting ready to start driving . Sigh… did we get here, my Sweet?

After your brother, I had given up the idea of another child. But sixteen years ago on this day, here you were. And even on the difficult days (which have been few) you have been a blessing. You are the yin to your brother’s yang, day to his night, and you’ve filled our home with so much laughter and joy.

You are a natural athlete and a quick-study. You have so many options open to you. You really can do anything, and I’m excited to see where life takes you.

Though I’d be lying if I said my mother’s heart isn’t starting to get anxious about you growing up and striking out on your own. No matter how old you are, you will always be my baby. Same with your brothers. That’s just the way it works. 😉

Happy 16th birthday, Son. I love you more than you can imagine. Know that God has an amazing plan for your life, and if you pray and listen closely, He’ll make sure you’re on the right path.



The Ghosts of Holidays Past (Or Why I Hate the Holidays)

I grew up poor. Really poor. At one point, my mom and I lived in a three room house with no heat and no bathroom. We seriously had to go next door to use the outhouse. The rent was one hundred dollars in real money and twenty-five dollars in food stamps.

I shared the one bedroom with my mom, unless she had “company”, which was more often than not. I remember you could see the sky through the ceiling. We’re probably lucky we didn’t freeze to death.

Anyway, back to the holidays. My mom wasn’t an alcoholic, but she drank a lot. And she rarely met a man she didn’t feel compelled to support. So when birthdays or Christmas rolled around, there was no money for presents. Shoot, there was no money for food! But there was always money for booze. And there was usually a drunken brawl. Or two.

Sometimes I would get a present, but I’d only get to keep it a couple of days. Then it would disappear back to the store it was stolen from or maybe to a pawn shop.

Of course life is different now and I’m grateful for that. I’m glad my sons will never know what it’s like to stand in line at the VFW on Christmas morning waiting for a donated cardboard checker board with plastic pieces.

They’ve never had to worry about a fistfight in the living room knocking the Christmas tree over–breaking bulbs and blowing the breaker.

These are just a few of the ghosts that live in my past. Some days it seems like a lifetime ago. Other days it was just yesterday and I’ve barely escaped. I can smell the alcohol and hear the glass breaking. It is hard, so hard, to write about this….to go back to that place and time.

I’ll leave you with these Linkin Park lyrics:

I want to heal, I want to feel,
What I thought was never real
I want to let go of the pain I felt so long (erase all the pain ’til it’s gone)
I want to heal, I want to feel
Like I’m close to something real
I want to find something I’ve wanted all along
Somewhere I belong


Special Needs

We’re in Cincinnati again tonight with the little guy. It’s a follow-up from his first appointment. We still have questions–maybe even more.

Like why can’t this now five year old sleep through the night? And am I starting to see anxiety in him?

I’m not a doctor, but I’ve been here before with my oldest. Plus I’ve put in some time in the classroom and the field. What I see matters. What I think matters.

This is true for all parents of special needs children. Don’t ever let a doctor (or teacher or therapist, etc.) discount what you feel in your gut. My oldest son is 28. I have the benefit of experience. I know how it feels to wish you could go back and say, “No.” Or even, “Let’s wait a little while.”

You are the most important partner in your minor child’s healthcare. You spend the most time with them. You know when something is off. Find your place at the table and sit down and don’t get up until you’ve had your say.


This week I’m reading Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. I’ve only just started it, but she has me reaching for my pencil and sticky notes already. Today’s takeaway: You are what you consume.

Tonight I ate at Burgers and Crafts. Now the first time I saw this place I was thinking, “Crafts! What are we making?!?” Turns out they have tons of craft beers. Alcohol and chemo do not mix well, so I skipped the crafts. They have an awesome build your own burger menu, though. You can even get a turkey or veggie burger!

This is the Flying Pig, a turkey burger piled high with barbecued pulled pork, bacon, lettuce, tomato and onion rings. Sound delicious? Because it was!

And these are Smothered Tater Tots. They’re baked super crispy, topped with cheddar cheese, ranch dressing, and real bacon bits. As G would say; Yummy in my tummy!!

My Father

As a child, my mother pawned me off on whichever family member would take me while she ran around. My biological father was married to her, but they divorced not long after I was born. And, from what I can tell, he never tried too hard to rescue me from her. There, of course, is the rub.

I have a vast capacity for forgiveness, and my father and I have a relationship now. Forgiving and forgetting are not the same, though. In my mind, everything my mother did or allowed to be done to me, my father was complicit to.

Then there are the things he did all by himself, like not suing for custody, not paying child support, not insisting on having visits with me. Those are decisions he made all by himself.

Without going into a lot of detail here (I’ll save it for another post.), some Very Bad things happened to me while I was with my mother. Looking back now, sometimes it’s hard to believe I survived. While I don’t blame my father for all of it, he is partly to blame. And I am angry. Really angry.

I see a girl post on a Facebook page thanking him for being part of her life…..for being like a father to her. It breaks my heart a little. I want to ask, “Who the hell even are you!?”

I’ve invited him to visit us at our home. Spend a weekend getting to know my children. Too far to drive. Car’s not that great. Any excuse will do when you need one, right?