Tuesday, September 24, 2013

All those things you didn't say

   Not too long ago a classmate of mine passed away suddenly.  We were no longer close, if I was to be honest we were casual friends even in high school.  However, we kept in touch via FB and had just exchanged a few lines about a week before he died.  

It got me thinking of all the things we may not say - either because we forgot or because we feel there will be another time or are afraid of what we may not get back - to those people we care about.  Sometimes we are just busy saying all the things that we feel they need to hear (advice with good intent).  Other times we just think of them as always going to be here.

I was sad to hear my classmate had died - he was young and had a great smile that even after all of these years would light up the page when you saw it even just on FB.   He was a good guy.  I am not sure I ever told him what a good guy he was because in my mind he knew it, he lived it, we were not that close, and a host of other reasons.  

Tell the people that you still get butterflies when they walk into a room and that their touch still makes you shiver.  Tell your friends that their support is essential to your well being and that you are grateful for every moment that they give you of their very busy lives. 

Time and life are funny things -- they are not as long or as under our control as we think they are.  This is a short blog because I want to take some time to make a small list for each of those people in my lives who may hear my I love you but not the things that run through my head about them, the little things that have mattered so much over the years.  

It is hard to be in a place where you remember all the things you didn't say if you can't say them anymore.  

It's only words, and words are all
I have to take your heart away
You think that I don't even mean
A single word I say
It's only words, and words are all
I have to take your heart away...Bee Gees

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Two dates 9/9 and 9/11 that define my life

 My boys and I just watched "Mr. Holland's Opus" together.  One of those movies that I can watch over and over.  There is so much to be learned about appreciating what a good teacher can do, what music and art can mean to the development of children.  There is the need to remember that our children are not what we want but their own people with faults and gifts that we may not have asked for.  

In it there is a very touching scene about one of the students that dies in the Vietnam war.  My sons were very moved by it, as was I, especially at the tragedy of war.  They agree that war is "stupid".  As we sit at the edge of over a decade of wars, at a Middle East that is quickly going on fire, at more wars than ever were in the Cold War era and on the brink of what could be yet another folly at the expense of young lives it really makes me sad and angry that we cannot focus on what is important. Important like education, art, music and reminding each other to not worship with intent to judge but to appreciate the gift of life, regardless of where you think it came from. 

This is a very difficult week for me.  It starts with an amazing event.  It starts with people from all walks of life coming together on their day off, at their expense to gather to help eradicate breast cancer.  The Komen race shows us that one person can start a movement for good.  They stumbled in recent years with a leader who forgot that women's lives include women's choices for those lives and that Planned Parenthood is a healthcare provider.  They recovered and moved course back on track.  They went back to being what they have become; a beacon of light for women and the lives they touch as they struggle with a terrible disease.  They have raised money and awareness but most of all they raised our humanity and reminded us that we can gather and be a force for good and that we care about others.  That is my faith - my faith is in our humanity.  

I do this race with my whole family and a lot of my friends, who I have known forever.  Some of us have seen the mothers of our friends, or their own families, devastated by this disease and we walk so others, hopefully, will walk not in "memory of" but to celebrate "survivors" of this disease.  I cry at the beginning of the race when I see the people around me.  There are so many walks for too many disease that we can do but we choose this one as a family.  I am humbled by the positive vibe of all that is good in people.  It reinforces my belief that most of people are good, very good and have the same goal - to make the world better for being in it.  

This week though is also 9/11.  A day that for me still is raw, where images from that day bring tears to my eyes.  It is the day my city, a place that has a lot of my soul like an old friend, and my friends were attacked by what is the worst of humanity.  I cannot stand the arguments from ignorant, vile people who tell me how other places were attacked - I feel for them but that does not make this one any easier to bear as I am sure it does not make the pain for people in other places to bear when they are attacked.  Trying to out kill one another is not a discussion I want to engage in.  For me 9/11 is not a museum, a ceremony or a place to visit.  It is a fracture in my heart that pains me every time.  

The date of 9/11 makes me look at the sky and remember that moment when I saw the first Tower on fire. However, over time I have made a choice.  I choose to remember 9/11 not for the criminals that flew those planes into NY/DC but for the bravery that was shown in all of those cities and in the air over Pennsylvania. I choose to remember the Towers as they were, not the best in architecture but the the passion of what people can accomplish in a building.  I think of my friend who died there and honor his bravery rather than give thought to the cowards who chose to kill so many.   There is the dust and the silence in my memory but it is the time when we of all colors, religious beliefs came together to help one another and remember that we are first united in our goodness which was millions of people strong to the 19 who choose to bring death instead of remembering that to worship any god you should strengthen life.  

This week is the best of humanity and a glimpse at the worst of it.  This week helps me remember that I choose to fight against death instead of support it with military strikes.  This is for my sons who deserve to have schools that teach music, art along with other subjects instead of fighting for dollars that may be spent on weapons.  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

For Kids Only

As a working mom you seem to take on some different guilt than a mom who is not working outside the house.  They have their share, we have shared guilt, but we working moms have our guilt that comes from working.  If you like your job, like I do, and feel your career is important and that you want to work - well that is a therapy session that will put that psychologists kids through college.  I love being a Mom and I enjoy spending time with my boys, especially now that they are interactive and beyond the crawl stage. They still need me and think I am beautiful, smart, talented and know a lot but are old enough to have conversations with.  I happen to also have two very funny kids so there is a lot of laughter, singing in the car and general good times around here. 

 My first experience with daycare was at my job, great perk, went like this (after nanny decided that inability of child to sleep all day as he became mobile would interfere with her ability to join him in sleeping all day and quit with no notice); drop off, crying hysterical child, walk away as crying - hysterical mother, get called about an hour later to ask to pick up child who is giving self a headache crying so hard, go get child crying hysterically on way stopping at door, smile at child who is now holding on to the door to the baby area for dear life with giant breaths saying "ma ma".  Oh yeah he had me, he was done, I found another nanny.  

We were lucky to have some amazing women take care of our children when they were young. I did not think these women raised my children - they took care of them while I worked.  They allowed me to feel some level of comfort while I went on with a career and a job I really liked.  They were employees and trusted family friends all in one.  They understood that I bathed, fed dinner and scheduled my children and respected the way we partnered to do that.  

As I decided to pick a daycare I realized 1) how expensive child care is in the NY area regardless of nanny or daycare choice 2) how few options there are 3) how many rules there were in some of these centers that stressed me just reading about it - what would they do if say I was 10 min late as it was frowned upon 4) they were pleasant but the guilt seemed heightened because they looked too institutional for me.  I know many parents who felt that day care is an option that gave them peace of mind when it came to safety - I felt I needed no nanny cams because I trusted that instinct when I hired the nannies we had.  I was a bit dispirited when I went to my 4th day care walk through.  The place was a house.  A house - that was well maintained and turned into a daycare.  No one lived there but it felt instantly better than the more generic places I had been to.  The owner had kids who had gone through our school system, she had advice and tips and we had not even signed up yet.  There was a feeling of comfort that I got - a transition from nanny to something that felt right for us.  There was no crying on their part on the first day - there was moment when the older child did ask to "visit" his younger brother to make sure he was ok (umm younger brother was more comfortable and older brother really needed the visit more). 

This is a wonderful place, a place where the boys have never cried to not go to.  A place where though there is always a little guilt for not being there makes me feel just that much better for the choice I made.  This is the place where children make up the majority of the school bus pick up, for their respective grades, to school and from school, adding a level of safety that this city raised child did not have in the bus - it seemed like it was evil waiting to happen in yellow.  This is the place that teaches children to play with all ages that are there and where older kids know how to treat younger kids.  The staff is wonderful and makes those children all feel welcome.  I hear, along with other parents at pick up, the cries of "really - leave now? just a few more minutes".  Today after a summer of the kids scattered to the various camps and travels they were back together.  There was loud, loud laughter and hugging and the kids were all so excited to be back "home" at day care.  They may love where they go for the summer but they come back gladly to the place that they all have friendships and takes care of them when the parents have to work.  They have learned a lot by being there, a sense of charity through the owner's various projects that taught them to collect and give to others, to cook on Fridays, to do homework. They have learned to be glad to have a place where they get a hug if they needed and a stank eye when they don't realize they deserve it.  

For Kids Only - the name really tells it all.  It is a place for kids, with an owner who understands kids and wants to help make them into the type of adults that will make a difference in the world.  They have solar panels, plant veggies and teach the kids to respect nature and the earth along with each other.  They celebrate accomplishments like kindness. I will always wonder if I missed something by not being there for bus pick up and drop off but my boys seem to enjoy the time they have at daycare.  They know I like work and I have to admit that I want them to respect the ability of women to make that choice as they grow up.  They know their friends all have parents who are doing the best they can and to that end have formed friendships in a place where every parent smiles as they say goodbye and often sighs a little as they turn toward their cars (for they are glad the kids are fine but they miss them anyway).  I am grateful for Wendy and her staff - for having a place that is For Kids Only.