My favorite gift ever

My sister had just gotten out of a drug and alcohol rehab.  I had offered her a place to stay after she graduated the program and she accepted.  I was so proud of her.  She had made such a mess out of her life, but had managed to get herself clean and sober.
I spent several weekends painting, cleaning, and making the ‘room’ special for her.  It wasn’t much really, but it was hers and contrary to the rehab–she had a door and didn’t have to share it (except when we needed to access the laundry area).
My sister has always been hard working, and high strung.  She didn’t have a car, and back then I lived out in the boonies.  So, she would commute with me to my job in a mall.  She found a job working at a food service place, and moved up quickly.  The owner took a liking to her, and saw she had potential.  In short order, she saved up enough money to buy a car.  But, before she did the holidays were upon us.  We all were tight on cash, but she hadn’t seen many people in our family for several years and she seemed to want to make a good impression.
But, being prideful, she wanted to buy her own gifts for the family.  We shopped around, and nothing seemed to fit the budget.  So, she decided to make her gifts.  She decided to make dream catchers for everyone.  Neither then nor now would I call myself a fan of dream catchers.  But, my sister made one for each member of our family, printed out a special message in each, and wrapped them up.  She once again had carved her own path.
This was and still is the most treasured gift I ever received.  The sacrifice, the heartfelt sincerity, the genuine love and purity behind the dream catcher makes it irreplaceable.  I still have it hanging in my bedroom window-12 years later.  
Each time my sister is struggling, each time she is contemplating a bad decision, each time I want to tell her how much I respect and admire her–I can show her the dream catcher and know that we share the same feelings and memories.  
The dream catcher symbolizes, for me, what the holidays are meant to feel like.  
A few months later, my sis saved up enough money to buy a car.  And shortly thereafter moved out.  We still talk at least once a week, and I will always love her unconditionally regardless of her decisions.
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Response to Shame

In my previous post, I included a link to a blog I stumbled on by accident. However, I wonder how much of life is accidental and how much is fate or destiny or whatever you want to call it (lets leave the likes of divine intervention out of this). I don’t know the answer to the fate question, but I do wonder about it.

Anyway, I have been really thinking about the post. I have been wondering why people who are molested, raped, or sexually abused feel ashamed of what happened to them. I was thinking about how being abused shouldn’t be a source of shame or embarrassment. But, how often it is. How most crimes like this go unreported and the victims never see justice or closure (not that closure is even possible). It really got me thinking, but more than that it got me feeling.

So, I wanted to free myself from feeling shameful or embarrassed (thanks Grace!). A little side note though: I don’t want to talk about this with anyone. I am posting it here to free myself from it. But, unless I bring it up, I don’t want to talk about it. I have effectively put this behind me, but want to acknowledge that it happened.

I was sexually abused by my step brother when I was 4 years old. It was a brief period of time, and most of it I hardly remember. But, I do remember enough to know that it happened. My sister told my Mom about it a while later, and I remember my Mom asking me what happened. I was flooded with feelings that couldn’t be expressed and words that had no way of being vocalized. After all, I was only 4; it would be impossible to express what I felt or thought at that age. Almost 30 years later I can remember feeling powerless and afraid to be alone with my step brother. Yet, I can hardly express my feelings now–I just don’t have the words.

My Mom left this husband, but not because of the abuse. I don’t think she knew about the abuse until after she left anyway. We spoke of it that one time, and neither her nor I spoke of it again.

I often wonder what sort of effect something like this has on peoples lives. I don’t honestly think you can know the answer to this, since life has an innumerable number of variables. But, I look at my life and wonder how things may have been different for me if this event had not occur ed. I don’t spend much time thinking about it, since there is no way to change to the past. But, I do feel saddened by the fact that it happened. I feels like I was robbed of a piece of my childhood, of my innocence. Something was taken from me during that time, something that can never be replaced or given back.

Just like all of the books say–now that I am a Mother, I have been thinking about my childhood and my youthful experiences in more depth. I am often in awe at the fact that my Mother was able to raise 2 girls essentially on her own. My Mom didn’t attend college, but was a highly intelligent woman (I will explain the use of the past tense word ‘was’ later). She has an amazing vocabulary, has a razor sharp wit and tongue, and has never been afraid to express or stand up for herself. On the other side of the coin, it kills me to think that someone who was so intelligent could allow herself to get involved with man after destructive man, marriage after marriage. How could someone who appears so self assured need a man like my Mom does. It is difficult to not place blame when I think about all of the fucked up things that have happened in my life under the tutelage of my mother (many of them while she was under the influence). And, just when I am filled with resentment and bitterness–I remember that she did the very best she could. I hope that every decision that she made was out of love, and not selfishness. I long to believe that she always put us first when a difficult choice was needed. Many days I doubt it, and that forces a irremovable wedge between us. But, some days I can forgive her and I love her more than myself.

So, there you have another tid-bit of my history. All of the pieces that make up my life and make me who I am today. Are you glad or sad you know?

Dreadful

I had a dreadful time last night. We went home for the weekend to attend a friends wedding shower. We stayed overnight at the hostesses house, so that we could put Lil E to bed at his normal time, and then live it up like the grownups we are.

Sadly for me, I have finally succumb to illness. After fighting off several strains of cold, cough, and whatnot…I have finally come down with something terrible. Body aches, headache, sore throat, major chest congestion, coughing, shortness of breath, running/stuffed up nose…YUCK! All of this is bad timing for me, with all that is going on with my work life. Details on this later.

That wasn’t the dreadful part though, if you can imagine! There were about 60 people at this shindig, and thankfully I wasn’t the only one with a baby! For a while, I was the only one is my group of home town peeps that had a kid. Now, one of my girlfriends is preggers, and a few others are trying. Phew…it was getting lonely being surrounded by all these succesfull, professional, unencumbered chicks.

At this party there were 2 other babies. Both, upon arrival were sleeping. I had heard stories about a particluar baby who constantly cried and these parents who just didnt seem to get it. But I thought it was an exaggeration or girls just talking to talk. It wasn’t. This poor baby cried the entire time she was there-a good four plus hours. The parents seeming to be impervious to the cries-drinking and partying the night away.

It was certainly one of the most emotionally draining experiences I can remember. I can name 20 things (see below for a list) that I wanted to say and suggest to these new parents, none of which were positive and all unsolicited. It was so uncomfortable for me, that I had to leave the party, go upstairs and awake my son from a perfectly peaceful slumber and cuddle him, just so he knew how much I loved him. Then several times during the night, I awoke thinking about calling CPS on these folks. Not because the baby was crying. I understand that some babies are coliky and just cry. There was more to it than that.

I wonder in retrospect, what I could have or should have done. Is there still something to be done? Maybe I am just more sensitive because I am new Mom. Maybe there is more to their story that I dont know or understand. I am sure its a bit of everything, since life is never as easy as 1,2,3…

Too many questions and not enough answers. And worse is that there is no closure. Since I wasnt able to find my voice last night, I want to try and express it here:
1. your 5 month old daughter doesnt want or need to watch tv, expecially not COPS
2. your baby watches tv because you put her in front of it, she doesnt like it
3. She may be screaming beacuse she cant look away or close her eyes when she is over stimulated by it
4. put the drink down, and take care of your baby
5. pick her up, hold her-that flat spot on the back of her head needs a break
6. hold her close so she feels your warmth, so she is close to you and feels safe and loved
7. look for signs that she is overstimilated, and RESPOND
8. dont be so selfish, negligent and stupid (I cant help it…that is how I felt)
9. dont drink and drive (ever! but especiually) with your baby in the car
10. feed your baby-often
11. burp her
12. dont let your friends take pictures with their cell phones while she is screaming
13. Take her to a quiet, dark place to help her relax
14. Carry her in a sling, ergo, or carrier
15. When you are feeding her, craddle her close so she feels comfortable
16. When your baby cries for 4 plus hours straight know that it is stressful to those around you
17. Try and put her down for a nap when she needs it, not when it is conviennt for you
18. Perhaps try a pacifier
19. Your baby should come before you. Babies cant make decisions for themselves–we are all they have. They trust us to give them what they need.
20. look her in the eyes
21. talk to her
22. If your baby is crying for hours and hours straight, you may want to take your baby home.

All smiles

I have had this saved in my drafts for a while, because I didn’t want to forget to document the event and my feelings.

So, here it goes–Elliott was nursing about 2 weeks ago, and we were gazing at each other. And all of a sudden, with my nipple still securely in his mouth–he busts out an ear to ear grin, and a little chuckle of joy.
All at once my heart melted, a big tear formed in the corner of my eye, and my chest swelled with love and pride.
I don’t think I will ever forget that moment.