Driven to Insanity

My son is 16 years old.

For those of you who do not have children, this number may mean nothing to you.  It may not strike fear into your heart.  It may not ignite inside your soul the devastating fear, the agonizing terror that lives in the heart of every parent.

My son is nearly ready to get his driver’s license.

I stalled the inevitable by making the boy take Driver’s Education.  That gets you a break of approximately $0.00000004 on insurance.  (Incidentally, I think it is crap that insurance is more for a boy than for a girl.  So much for equality, right?) However, in spite of my many attempts to pretend that my children are still small, the boy is nearly ready to get his driver’s license.

He will be able, according to the law of our great state, to operate a motor vehicle on his own.

(Who made these laws? Someone without children, I guarantee.)

I consider myself a very adaptable person.  In fact, it is one of my strong suits.  I’m not one of these people who get bogged down by the fear of change.  I laugh at those people.  Ha!  But someone I find myself ill prepared for my son to drive.  It isn’t just him–all of his buddies are also driving.  A few of them are older than my son and have already received their operators license.  A couple of them drive themselves to school every day. I still visualize these kids as the same ones who couldn’t tie their shoes without assistance, and they are out on the same roads as you and me, with no adult supervision, in vehicles capable of many thousands of dollars of personal property damage.

God help us.

The worst part of it all is that I’m not sure if I’m upset because my son is 16 years old and driving (and he is a good driver, very cautious and law-abiding) or if I’m upset because this is just another reminder of my own impending geezer-hood.

I am not ready for this.  I myself identify as a cool young person.  I listen to cool music and drive too fast (in a minivan) and have tattoos and all of the other stuff that makes people cool.  But how can I be a cool young person when a human being that I grew inside of my own body is now old enough to operate a motor vehicle?

Okay, I’ll tell you the truth.  I’ve been sly about it and pretended like it was about so many things that it wasn’t.  It isn’t really about my son.  It isn’t about him driving.

It’s about the fact that I’ll be 40 in a couple of days.

You read that right.  I will be forty years old.  Conceivably half way through my whole entire life.  If I’m lucky, that is.

I cannot stand to hear about people having midlife crises, especially men with the sports cars and the blonde mistresses and such.  But honestly, I have to seriously ask myself if I’m not in the throes of a midlife crisis right now.  Why else would all of this be hitting me so hard?  What other explanation is there that the contemplation of my life and the life of my son and his friends should cause me such distress?

I’m sure the wine has nothing to do with it.

Regardless, my son is sixteen years old, and getting ready to get his license.  No matter how much I piss and moan (and drink), time just keeps on slipping by.  I thought I had lots of time.  I used to complain about how slowly time passed.

I’m sorry, okay? I’m sorry.  I didn’t know.  I take it back.  Just please, please slow down a little.  They can drive now, so let’s just take a breath.  Let’s take a minute to get our bearings.

Let’s realize how precious our time is, and how much we take it for granted, okay? I swear, we’ll do better from here on out.

Okay?


 

(not so) Happy

I have unlocked the secret to happiness.

Now hold on a minute.  Don’t just roll your eyes and walk off. Come back here! I’m serious.  I know the secret to happiness.

Are you ready to know the secret? Okay, wherever you are, go to a mirror. Close your eyes.  Stand in front of the mirror.  Take a deep breath.

Now, open your eyes.

See it?

You are looking at the secret of happiness.

For those of you who cheated and did not go to a mirror, I will give you the answer.

It’s you.

You are the secret to happiness.

Now, before you feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility, don’t misunderstand.  You are not the secret to everyone’s happiness.  Just your own.  Do you follow? I’ll say it plainly, with bold font, so you can get it.

You are the secret to your own happiness.

In my never-ending observation of people, I see everyone constantly searching for happiness.  They look for it in people and places and things.  They want happy lives and happy relationships and happy jobs, but they are let down over and over.

I spent more years than I am willing to count trying to find my own happiness in other people.  I was continually disappointed.  I was chronically disappointed.  Why? Because I thought someone else had the key to my happiness..  I placed impossible expectations on the people around me, and then held it against them when they couldn’t deliver.

I’m not sure what finally clued me in.  I can’t pinpoint one big “ah-ha” moment when I realized I had it wrong.  I think I just got tired of being such a drag.

Every morning I get up, and I don’t have what  people would  consider  a “fun” schedule.  I have to get my people out of bed and feed them and medicate them.  The daughter can be down right uncooperative.  Sometimes I have to hold her arms down with my leg so I can get her medicine in her.  That is not fun.  But I make jokes about it and laugh and accuse her of trying to kill me.  I sing songs and make faces to try to keep her from getting too mad.  When it’s finished, I make a big show of wiping my brow and then that’s that.  When she has a seizure, we sit together and bitch about it for a while.  It makes us feel better.  Then it’s over.

What if I wanted to make a different choice?  What if I decided to lament the difficulty of my life? What if I fussed at my daughter for her extreme hard-headed-ness (which she gets from her father) and started my whole day off on a sour, negative note?  What if I wanted to look at all of the things wrong with my life, all of the hard things that just don’t seem fair, and what if was mad or sad about them? Well, life around here would certainly be different, wouldn’t it?

No one can make those choices but me.  I can blame who I want.  Is it fair that things are the way they are?  Maybe not.  But guess what?  There’s not one damn thing I can do to change things, fair or not, and how in the hell does me being miserable help anyone?

Misery loves company–we’ve all heard it.  It’s true.  Misery is catching.  The beautiful thing, though, is that happiness is catching, too!

In our marriages, our relationships with our children, our jobs, every single aspect of our lives, we make the decision of how we are going to live our lives.  It breaks my heart to think of how much of my life I have lost being miserable.

Laughter is such a part of our lives now.  We have to laugh at ourselves and our lives–we just have to.  I don’t think we could survive day-to-day if we didn’t.  Look around yourself.  If you are with people, or, God forbid, if you are a person who can’t laugh at yourself, seek help immediately.  Put your head between your knees.  Call 911, something.  Just bail out.  You’re drowning.

You’re drowning in our society’s notion that happiness is something that is owed to us, that it is something therapy and medication can provide.  We have convinced ourselves that others should mold themselves into the shapes that make us happy.

We are deluded, and what’s worse, we are miserable.

If only everyone could decide to be happy.  If only everyone could see that each life, each relationship, each job, each person, can be a part of what our happiness is all about.  There is so much that is beautiful in even our hardest moments, so much that we should celebrate.  Even when things are hard, we can deal with them and move on.  There is so much to be thankful for, so much to appreciate.

So much to be happy about.

Go back to that mirror.  Look yourself directly in the eye.  Don’t take any bullshit.  Who is standing in the way of your happiness? Can you see them?

Now, what are you going to do about it?


 

 

 

 

 

Spongebob for President

I was raised by my grandmother.  Not just any grandmother, but THE grandmother.  Let me tell you, she is a believer in voting.  She thinks voting isn’t just a choice we have as Americans, but an obligation.  She especially thinks this is true of women, because we had to fight so hard to get the right to vote.  She thinks it is an abomination that so few people turn out on election day.

I think she’s right.

I have voted since I was 18.  It’s a big deal to me.  I vote in local elections, presidential elections, even elections for dog catcher.  If there is an election, I’m there.

But this time, I may be in trouble.

Here’s the thing: I have absolutely no idea who to vote for.  The reality is that I don’t really want to vote for any of the current presidential hopefuls, but there’s this voice in my head that won’t stop saying “Not voting is the same as a vote for the opposition.” Fine.  I get it.  But from where I’m sitting, everyone is the opposition.

Let’s all be honest here.  Have you looked at these people? I don’t even know what to say about Donald Trump.  Literally, I have no words.  Hillary Clinton just reeks of scandal and lies.  I wouldn’t trust her if she told me the sky was blue.  And Bernie Sanders? God bless him, I think his heart is in the right place, but apparently no one realizes that this country is not in a position to implement socialism, even “democratic” socialism, or that the power really lies with our senators and representatives.  (As an aside, it breaks my heart to see all of these 20 and 30-somethings who think that a presidential candidate will actually do what he promises during his campaign.  Oh, to be so young and naive again!)

I’m not getting into my political affiliations here.  I refuse.  That isn’t my point.  I just want to know what the solution is when you don’t like any of the political candidates.  I believe in voting.  I hate to hear people say they don’t vote because it doesn’t make a difference anyway.  I HATE it. It is our privilege, and yes, our obligation as Americans, to vote.  But here I am, getting ready for a primary election, followed by a general election, determined that I will not cast a vote for any of the current candidates.

Really this post is just a plea for help.  Someone help me.  I’m drowning.  Am I the only one who feels this way? Does anyone else want to cry when they see the current candidates on television? What do we do? There’s only one solution as far as I can tell.

A write-in.

Spongebob 2016.

Roman (Catholic) Mythology

Easter of 2013 was a big occasion for me.  I was confirmed into the Roman Catholic Church.

Interesting for a girl who was raised by a Baptist minister, right?

I won’t use this post to go into what lead me home to Holy Mother Church.  What has troubled me nearly every day since my confirmation is how the Church is perceived in our society.

If you live in New York or Boston, or any fair-sized city, I guess, this may mean nothing to you.  However, when you live “in the country,” as I do and always have, Protestantism, in one form or another, is pretty much the only religion you know. When you say the word “Catholic,” you can almost watch as the misconceptions about the Church roll across people’s minds.

So, rather than get into a theological debate about the finer points of Catholicism, which I am NOT qualified to do, I want to share with you some of the things I have heard about the Church, and how I know they are not true because of my own personal experience. Here we go:

1. The Catholic Church worships Mary.

The short answer to this, of course, is no, we don’t.  Stick with me on this “worshiping something besides God” thing, because it seems to be a recurring theme.  The most important thing I can say about this accusation is that Catholics worship one God, and only one God.  Further, we believe in God as three persons–the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Since we also believe in and follow the Ten Commandments, the first of which is not to worship anyone but God (I’m paraphrasing), to worship Mary (or the Pope, or a saint) would be a mortal sin and a heresy, and as such, would endanger our souls to Hell.  So we don’t take this lightly.

However, that is not to say that we do not love our Mother.  She is the Mother of God, and, as such, we honor her with highest honor.  She was the first Christian.  She is a model of how a Christian should behave.  Since another Commandment tells us to honor our parents, we feel pretty sure the Mother of God is worthy of honor.  And yes, we invoke her intercession in our prayers.  More on that later.

2.  Catholics aren’t Christians.

In simplest terms, Christians are followers of Christ as the true Son of God, and as part of the Holy Trinity.  That is exactly what Catholics believe, and so, yes, we are Christians.

3. Catholics worship The Pope

Please see number 1.  We don’t worship our Holy Father.  We do not think he is divine.

We do, however, acknowledge him as the Earthly leader of our Church.  He is the number one Catholic.  Have there been corrupt popes?  You’d better believe it.  Peter himself, the first head of the Church, denied even knowing Christ.  History buffs could tell you all kinds of shenanigans popes have been up to.  Here’s the thing–the Pope is, after all, only a human.  He is placed at the head of a Church that is also made up of–you guessed it–humans.  In his own actions, he is not infallible.  However, we do believe that in Church doctrine he is infallible.  His being the head of our Church is no different that your pastor being the head of yours.  And so what if we all get very excited to see him? Good grief, we live in a society that does nearly worship celebrities! Consider William and Kate, and Brangelina.  Don’t even get me started on how people acted towards The Beatles and Elvis.  And we can’t jump up and down and cry when we see our Holy Father? Baloney.

4. Catholics pray to Saints/Statues/Pictures/Other Graven Images

Wow, this really is a recurring theme, isn’t it?

Anyway, again, see number 1.  We don’t worship anyone but God.

Do we pray to Saints? Yes we do.  But not in the way you think.  The way we talk to the saints is the same way you talk to your brothers and sisters in Christ here on Earth.  Heck, you probably ask someone to pray for you almost every day, don’t you? Why? Well, when we call upon the saints, we are asking for them to pray for us.  These are holy people and why shouldn’t we believe that they can hear our prayers and pray for us? All of us need all the help we can get.

Do we love pictures of saints and statues and all of that good stuff? You bet.  Let me ask you this–do you keep pictures of a dearly departed loved one? Why do you do that? Do you keep mementos from trips and vacations and baby clothes and locks of hair and who knows what else? I’m sure all of those things are perfectly acceptable to you.  Why wouldn’t they be.  So, why can’t I, as a Catholic, have a painting of a saint whose life speaks particularly to me? Why can’t I have a picture of The Blessed Mother to remind me that she understands what a mother’s suffering for her child truly is? These things are mementos, and reminders, of people who Catholics love.  It has nothing to do with worship.

5. Catholics think a priest can take away their sins.

This one seems more complicated on the surface, but it really isn’t.  No, we do NOT believe a priest can take away our sins.  God’s mercy takes away our sins.  However, for that to happen, Catholics do believe you need to confess those sins, and yes, you confess to a priest.  The priest is acting en persona Christi, which means in the place of Christ, there in the confessional.  And yes, the priests prays the prayer of absolution over you, but let me tell you, it is Christ who is there in that confessional, and it is Him who absolves you of your sins.  The priest is basically your tour guide through the most wonderful experience you can have as a member of the Catholic Church.

6. All that bowing/crossing yourself/incense, etc., is just weird. 

If you’re not a Catholic, I’m sure seeing what goes on in an actual Mass would be very intimidating to most.  All of the bowing and kneeling may seem strange, and to some, even sacrilegious. Let me tell you, I’ve been to a lot of church services in my life, and I have never felt more in the presence of God than I do during Mass.  We bow and kneel because we believe the Body and Blood of Christ are on that altar.  Speaking things in unison causes everyone to participate in Mass together.  You are doing something, not just sitting there.  You are practicing your faith. It is revered as a holy and sacred time and place.  Shouldn’t the worship of God be treated with such reverence?

 

I’m going to stop for now.  I’ll leave you with this:

I’m not trying to make everyone become Catholic (although if you want to, good on you!) What I’m trying to do is make people realize that Christians are cutting their own throats by quarreling among themselves.  It’s about time we let go of misconceptions and outright lies and just remember that we are all called to follow Christ’s example.

Can’t we all just get along?

 

(not so) Super Hero

When you’re a teenager, you spend a lot of time figuring out exactly the path you want your life to take. You’re going to be married (or not), have kids (or not), have such and such career, live here, work there–on and on.

Life sure is funny sometimes, isn’t it?

I think one of the biggest rites of passage from the teen years into actual adulthood is when you start to realize that the things you wanted and the things you actually have really have nothing to do with each other.

Me? I wanted to be a marine biologist. I was going to work and live between Alaska and Hawaii, studying marine mammals. I would become a leading expert in the field, maybe appearing in National Geographic occasionally just for variety. I didn’t much care if I was married or not, and I certainly didn’t want any kids to slow me down.

I am not a marine biologist, incidentally. I am a caregiver.

What happened? Life, that’s all.

This isn’t a biography. I hold no delusions that the boring tale of my transformation into the ultimate soccer mom I am today is of any interest to anyone. It will suffice to say I am married with two children. Also, and the full time caregiver to my sister. Oh, and my 14 year old daughter is also permanently disabled, and I’m her caregiver, too.

My sister and my daughter’s disabilities are very different. My sister has CP, and my daughter has an undiagnosed neuromuscular disease. Sister is non ambulatory. Daughter ambulates a little, but poorly, and is a fall risk because of seizures.

So, you may be asking, what’s my point?

As with most of my writing, there is little point. (Sorry.) But I heard something the other day that seemed insignificant at first, then began to gnaw at my mind and churn around in there (along with the lyrics to hundreds of songs and a vast library of movie quotes) until I finally had to write about it.

Someone called me a superhero.

Let me start by saying I wouldn’t be caught dead in tights or a unitard or anything else that is the going fashion among the superhero community (you should be grateful–trust me.)

Mostly, though, the comment left me feeling a little disappointed in the way caregivers are viewed in our society.

As a full time, total care caregiver for two people with disabilities, I can assure you I am many, many things, some good and some (not so) good, but a superhero isn’t one of them. I’m not even side-kick material.

Superheroes don’t get tired. They are strong and fearless and they always save the day and solve the problem. They always beat the bad guy. Superheroes swoop in, set everything right, and fly away to do whatever it is superheroes do when they aren’t superhero-ing.

I am painfully non-super.

Tired doesn’t even begin to describe the level of physical and mental exhaustion I can experience. I’m physically strong (I like to think I have a dependable, pack-mule type build), and I act fearlessly when necessary, but I am afraid almost all of the time. Sometimes I feel like a total emotional weakling.

The biggest difference is that I can’t really set things right or beat the bad guy. Oh, I can manage day-to-day life pretty well. Everyone is clean and fed and warm and (hopefully) happy. I can change a diaper with one hand. I can administer meds in all sorts of fun ways, and I can load, strap, unstrap and unload a wheelchair in Olympic-gold-medal-worthy fashion.

What I can’t do, though, is beat the real bad guy.

I can’t make Sister or Daughter’s disabilities go away. We manage symptoms. We fight fires and try to prevent new ones, but I can’t make Sister walk, or Daughter talk, and I surely can’t make their lives “normal.” I can’t swoop in and destroy all the things that are basically just mean–things that take and tighten and weaken and hurt and sting and crush. Hell, I can’t swoop at all.

I would also be willing to bet that superheroes never have days when they are almost drowning in self-pity. They probably never sit morosely on the side of the bed and think, “why does everything have to be so hard?” They never have secret, hateful moments when they wonder what happened to those dreams and plans they had when they were teenagers. They certainly never have weak moments when they wonder if their lives will ever be anything more than an endless cycle of cleaning and feeding and medicating and entertaining. Obviously, I don’t have super powers.

I’ll tell you what I do have, though: a very important job.

My job is far more important than any role I could have ever played in the marine mammal world. I don’t think I’ll every make it into National Geographic, but I’m okay with that. Sister and Daughter rely on me to take care of their physical needs–that’s obvious. That’s what caregivers do, right? Provide physical care? Yes, but we do so much more.

I am the link between my people and the rest of the world. I make them aware of the world, and, more importantly, I make the world aware of them. I advocate for them, and I make sure others treat them fairly. I work very hard to make others see Sister and Daughter for what they are–a 36 year old woman and 14 year old girl. Each unique. Each wonderful in their own way, just as we all are.

In short, I am their voice.

Somehow, this seems infinitely more important than wiping a bottom or administering a pill. It is the heart of what we do, the very essence of caregiving, and we are doing it with plain, boring, every day skills. We aren’t superheroes. We are sisters, and brothers, and mothers, and fathers, and wives, and husbands, and children, and so many more. We are caregivers.

And, if you ask me, that’s pretty super.

anxietygirl

(not so) High Times

Below is the body of a recent letter I wrote to our Senator.  I wanted to post it so everyone could be aware of what is available out there for those who think they are running out of options.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

 

I am writing to you from Fayette County. I write concerning my daughter, a fourteen-year-old with profound special needs.

This letter is not meant to be a medical documentation, so I will spare you the details of her lifelong struggles. For the purpose of this letter, suffice it to say that she has severe epilepsy. Further, she has drug resistant epilepsy. She has anywhere from one to ten or more seizure per day. If she is standing when they strike, she falls, the result being that she is frequently bruised and bumped. The situation has degenerated over the past year to the point where she is required to wear a helmet and a gait belt while at school. She also has to be in her stroller or an adaptive chair for a large part of her day. Although this is for her safety, it is discouraging, because she has limited mobility as it is, and she needs to be walking as much as possible.

There is, however, hope. In the past months, I have studied the benefits of medical marijuana to individuals with various forms of drug resistant epilepsy (also called intractable, or refractory epilepsy.) I have also learned, with some disappointment, that West Virginia has not yet joined the more than twenty states who have put some sort of medical marijuana bill into place.

Must West Virginia always be at the back of the class? With the current administration’s insistence that healthcare for all is of the utmost importance, how can such an opportunity be overlooked? I have to sit here and watch as states all around us, even the Commonwealth of Virginia, put even the most basic laws into effect regarding medical marijuana use. Meanwhile, my daughter’s quality of life continues to diminish while I wait for everyone to get over the archaic notion that using marijuana medically, even in alternative forms such as oil and under the supervision of a physician, is “using drugs.”

I can tell you all about “using drugs.” My daughter, though just fourteen, uses more drugs than the Whites of Boone County. She has to have routine blood work to make sure the drugs aren’t reaching toxic levels in her body. What differentiates her, of course, is that her drugs are “legal.” Or, to put it another way, her drugs have gone through all the appropriate channels to line all of the appropriate pockets. What’s worse, even with all the drugs, she still has daily seizures.

Senator, what can we do about this? I don’t know your position yet on this issue. From what I can tell, it is just now coming to the forefront of our thinking in West Virginia, as I myself have only come by this knowledge over the past few months. Still, I say it’s well past time that we start looking into the future of caring for our most vulnerable citizens. My daughter, though limited, is as entitled to her dignity and quality of life as everyone. Our beautiful state should work in partnership with other states, not to mention the federal government, to make these types of options available to people in need.

I know there are no guarantees. Perhaps CBD oil (a form of medical marijuana) will not help my daughter’s seizures. Perhaps it will be like so many of the drugs that she has tried over the years, and will work for only a short while. However, I would like to be given the opportunity to find out, without having to break the law to do so.

I know you are but one man, but every forward movement requires that first push. Please, Senator Laird, consider helping make that first push. I am willing and able to help in any way possible. I hope to hear from you soon.

 

Sincerely,

Janice F. Bostic


 

 

The Split Second

I don’t know about where you live, but lately around here there seems to have been an increase in the number of child-related tragedies.

I won’t rehash them one by one.  They were depressing enough the first time around. Suffice it to say that some terrible, strange accidents have happened to some small children around the state.

Accidents aren’t really what this post is about, though.  What got me thinking was looking at and listening to some of the comments that people make about these tragic accidents.  Without fail, the parenting abilities of the parents involved with these accidents are always called into questions.  Sometimes people are downright cruel, saying that some people shouldn’t have children and that how idiots should be sterilized so they can’t reproduce.  You hear such mature, helpful advice as “hang them” and “arrest them for neglect.”

I have no doubt that some of the horrible things that happen to children are the result of bad parenting.  But then, these things aren’t really accidents, are they? What about the horrible things that happen that really are accidents? We are so quick to judge, so quick to pass sentence and shake our heads at these poor, foolish parents.

Haven’t we all been that foolish parent?

Nobody wants to admit it, but we have all had our less-than-stellar parenting moments.  The difference between me and the woman whose son died in a tragic accident is little more than pure luck.

Children are fast, and I don’t think any human on Earth can honestly say they are prepared for every possible danger scenario in the life of their child.  We try.  God knows we do.  We baby-proof and use car seats and door latches and we hover and wring our hands.  But sometimes stuff still happens, doesn’t it?

I know as the mother of two I’ve had some close calls.  One that stands out in my mind is the time my then two-year-old son found the switch that operated the automatic door we had so my sister could go in and out in her wheelchair.  The house was baby-proof.  But I noticed I didn’t hear my son, and when I went in search of him, I found him standing on the back porch looking through the door which had closed just as easily as it had opened.  He was so shocked that he had just stood there, and in reality, no more than a minute could have gone by, but what could have happened? What if, instead of stopping and looking back through the door, he had kept on trucking and went out to the road? Or down in the woods? Or, or, or, if, if, if.  I was lucky.  I grabbed him and mentally calculated the number of years that had been shaved off of my life, but that was it.  We were fine.

Another time, we were in DC seeing the sights.  We got on the elevator to go down to the Metro.  We were packed on there, and somehow I got shuffled behind my sister’s wheelchair.  My son was in front of her chair.  The door opened, and he stepped off.  For some reason, everyone else just sort of stood there.  The door started to slide shut, with me inside and my four-year-old son standing on the platform by himself.  I literally climbed over the back of my sister’s chair and hit the “door open” button.  Everyone shuffled off then, and I joined my child on the platform.  Yet another year or two off of the span of my life.  It could have gone down very differently, and been much worse.  Or, or, or, if, if, if.

So, what about you? Have you had those life-shortening, sphincter-tightening moments of parenthood? I know you have.  We all have. Go ahead, tell me about it.

I won’t judge.

 

 

 

Tear Jerkers (Sorry, Mr. Sparks)

I just watched a video which listed the biggest tear-jerker movies of all time.

I think movies based on Nicholas Sparks books made the list at least three times.  Maybe more.  I sort of lost interest about half way through.

We just can’t get enough of the sappy, drippy, romantic tragedies, can we? What is it? Maybe it’s the idea that love transcends tragedy, and exists even in spite of cancer and death and dementia.

Now, before any of you Sparks fans out there start planning my painful death, let me assure you, I think Mr. Sparks is a talented man. He knows how to tug on the heart strings.

But there are some of us (or at least me) who believe a real tear-jerker movie isn’t just sap from front to back and top to bottom.  It’s a movie that gets you.  It breaks your heart. And then someone gets stabbed in the eye with a sword.

Anyway, here are my nominations for the greatest tear-jerker movies of all time:

  • Last of the Mohicans. This  movie kills me.  Kills me.  It is a very violent movie at times, but it is also a wonderful story based on the book by James Fenimore Cooper.  The acting is top notch (we are talking about Daniel Day Lewis, after all) and there are true edge-of-your-seat moments.  It really hits the mark, though, because there are whole scenes with absolutely no dialogue. Guess what?  These are the scenes that are the most powerful and, yes, tear jerking.  Whole planets of emotion are shared between the characters with just eye contact, and of course the heart rending music in the background.
  • Cast Away. I bet you think I’m going to tell you I cried the most near the end, when Tom Hanks is getting ready to drive away and Helen Hunt comes running down the driveway in the rain (of course.) WRONG! Although that is a highly charged moment, the part of the movie that will crush you is when Tom Hanks loses his best friend.  That’s right–Wilson, the volleyball.  Wilson is tied onto the life raft, and he comes loose and starts drifting away before Tom realizes it, and then gets too far out of reach to be recovered.  Then we get to see Tom Hanks sobbing his heart out over a volleyball, and I sob right along with him.  Because it’s not really just Wilson he’s crying over, you know?  He’s crying because, well, everything. And that breaks your heart.
  • The Patriot. I can’t pinpoint one moment in this film, because it is brutal.  Let me just say, don’t get attached to too many characters in this film, because they drop like flies.  I will say the scene where Mel Gibson is leaving and his little girl runs after him and speaks to him for the first time in forever is over-the-top ugly-cry material.
  • Forrest Gump. You knew this one had to make the list, right?  Tom Hanks is brilliant, and this movie is all the proof needed to back up that statement.  How many times do I cry during this movie?  The Lord might know–I don’t.  Bubba dies, Lieutenant Dan has his “what am I gonna do now” moment, Momma dies, and let’s not forget when Forrest sees his son and wants to know if he is like him.  Then Jenny dies, and if you had any heart left, it gets destroyed by the whole “I miss you, Jenny” thing.
  • Braveheart.  I have never cried over any movie as  much as I cry over this one.  It would take a book to list all the tear-jerking scenes in this movie.  This movie uses the “no dialogue” technique, too.  When Murron is killed, and Mel Gibson leans over her right before they are going to bury her, he breathes in her scent like he did when she was still alive, and it’s almost too much to watch.  Then right before he dies, he sees Murron in the crowd walking toward him, and the music changes, and, and…..excuse me a minute, okay?

Okay, I’m better.  Sorry, but that one gets me every time.

So, what makes your list?  What movie rips out your heart?  And don’t worry if it is a Nicholas Sparks film.  I will only make fun of you a little.

 

The Thin Line

When you have little baby children, you think that things are very difficult.  You have to feed them, change them, and suck the boogers out of their noses with those little bulb things.  They cry and vomit and don’t sleep.  Life seems like one endless sucking maw of baby bodily fluids.  Oh, when will they grow up?

Then they become toddlers.  I’m far too tired this evening to recount the joys and horrors of raising toddlers.

Then they kind of go through a cool phase.  They get to be around, oh, seven or so, and from then up until around ten or eleven, or even twelve if you’re lucky, you get to interact with what appears to be an actual human being, in miniature form.  You do fun things together and talk about everything.  You are buddies.  You are best friends.  Furthermore, you are the coolest parent in the world.

Then they become teenagers.

Jack Sparrow Screaming

 

 

 

 

 

Suddenly, you find yourself looking back wistfully on those diaper changing days.  Needs of the body are easily met, but meeting the needs of the teenage mind is a problem that is unlikely to ever be solved.

My son is fifteen years old.  I know the child I gave birth to is in there somewhere, but some days I wonder if that little boy hasn’t been replaced by some alien from Planet Attitude.

Teenagers know everything. I mean, when did I miss the class in middle school that taught literally every thing about every topic and every possible scenario in the history of mankind?  Because teenagers certainly seem to know it.  They can argue about anything. They can argue with you if you tell them it’s raining outside.

Now I am starting to run into the real difficulties of raising teenagers.  Sure they are obnoxious and know-it-all and they never listen and the eye rolling thing, oh LORD don’t get me started on the eye rolling thing, and they are so dramatic that they could give acting lessons to soap opera stars, and they think their lives are just so tragic and no one understands them and their parents are totally lame and old and —–

Whew!

Sorry, I got carried away there.

My point, in case you forgot, was that raising a teenager has to be the most difficult parenting stage, hands down. The issue that I have been struggling with lately is privacy.

I’m an advocate for privacy.  I love my own.  I want my son to be able to have his space and set his boundaries and know that no one is messing in his personal business.  I can truly see it from that point of view.  It’s part of treating our children like adults.

But…….

Where is that line?  I want my son to be responsible and be able to have his personal space, but I cannot allow myself to forget that this is a fifteen year old boy that I am talking about! His decision-making capability at this stage is right on par with that of a hamster, or maybe a really smart potato.  I’m not singling him out!  I’ve known his friends since they started kindergarten, and they are all the same.  Remember when I said I thought maybe they had been abducted by aliens from planet attitude?  Actually, I think they have been abducted by Hormones, and the Hormones don’t care about consequences or mistakes or grades or anything like the future.  The Hormones care about one basic topic–sex–with many sub-topics, such as jokes, tv, games, videos, movies, all related to the main topic, which was, in case you forgot, sex.

So, what do you do?  Do you read all the texts?  Do you stalk the email and the Facebook pages? Do you snoop in drawers? Do you hire private detectives to track your child’s every move? (Just kidding.) ((Sort of.))

Help me, dear readers.  How far is too far?  My job is to be his parent, and I am going to push into those boundaries all the time, much to my son’s distress.  At what point do I officially become a stalker?

I’m all ears.

 


 

 

The (not so) Skinny

I’m fat.

I’ve always heard that the first step in dealing with a problem is admitting you have one, so there you go.  I said it.  I’m fat.  Obese.  Portly.  Robust.  Chubby.  Rotund.  Chunky. Round. Not thin.

You get the picture.

I’ve never been what one would call a “skinny” person.  Certainly I’ve never fit into the modern ideal of how a woman should look.  I have always had a comfortable, pack mule type build.  Short, strong, and dependable.  Not ideal, but useful.

At any rate, the pack mule has been packing on the pounds.  It’s depressing.  The simple fact is, my metabolism has become my enemy.  The things I used to be able to get away with now seemingly add pounds and inches almost instantaneously.  I can eat an order of fries, and if I’m very quiet, I can actually hear the fat cell orgy that is going on in my thighs.  Those little suckers multiply by the thousands, by the millions, and they are nearly impossible to kill.

Not that I’ve tried all that hard.

The truth is, I never worked up enough care to do much about my physical appearance.  The years go by, you get a little older, a little slower, and a little squishy around the middle.  That’s life, right?  For me, though, the years have gone by, and the fat has sneakily appeared. At first, I thought the changing temperature and humidity in my closet was causing my clothing to shrink.  Then I noticed only my clothes were shrinking.  Huh.  I had to buy a bigger size, then a bigger one, until I have now finally reached the point where, if I don’t do something, I’ll just have to convert a king size sheet into a toga and wear that.

That’s not the worst part.

The worst part is that I also recently got a lecture from my doctor about a bunch of scary terms like “HDL” and “LDL” and “blood pressure” and God knows what else.  I finally had to take action.

So I went to McDonald’s.

Ha ha, just kidding.  What I really did was join a gym.  Really.  I also gave up sweets, soda, and, horror of horrors, smoking.  So, in short, my life sucks now. Ha ha! Another joke! See how humorous I’m feeling?

Britney Spears crying

I’ve never been a member of a gym before. It’s hard to pretend you know what you are doing when, in fact, you are trying to use your legs for the chest press.  Anyway, the treadmill seemed like a safe option, so that’s where I spend a lot of my gym time.  Treadmill time is sssslllloooooooowwww time, so I have a lot of time to reflect, while trying to pretend like I’m not about ready to drop dead from a heart attack.

That’s really the biggest challenge to the whole gym thing, isn’t it?  Pretending we are already in shape? Obviously, I am at the gym because the only shape I’m in is round, but why is everyone there smaller and in better shape than me?!  They run on the treadmill.  They toss free weights around as though they (the weights) were made of paper mache.  And over here I am, praying to God I don’t have some sort of bowel-related incident while trying to leg lift 25 pounds.

It’s hard not to be discouraged.

Also, I think about food a lot.  Like, a lot.  Our entire culture pretty much revolves around food.  Did you ever notice?  Every family gathering, from weddings to funerals and everything in between, is somehow focused on food.  I’m not talking about health food either.  When was the last time you took tofu and watercress to a family reunion?  In addition to constantly having food, the amount we eat is ridiculous.  We aren’t satisfied until we have eaten enough food to test the limits of the most forgiving elastic waistband.  We may actually reach a point where we have eaten so much food we are no longer able to hold ourselves in a vertical position, but we would ask, from the floor where are laying, what’s for dessert.

So, I’m missing food, and I’m exercising.  I’m also trying to do things to keep my mind and hands busy, such as work on this blog faithfully again.  But for now I’m going to take a break.

I’m hungry.

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