Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


Leave a comment

Between Rocks & Hard Places

I’m continuing to read my own books. I’ve given in to marking them up with edits. I can’t help myself. But if I’m hard on myself about writing, you should hear what I do to myself about parenting.

Hindsight might be 20/20, but our memories of past events are also partly skewed, even for those of us that do pretty well with details. I have been surprised as I’ve been reading my journal entries, that my angst about “losing Dave” along the way started long before his teenage years.

I just didn’t realize how long ago it started. The answer startled me. As I read, my first thought was it started right after Tim died. Then I realized it actually started when Tim got sick.

Tim got diagnosed in May. I remembered that sometime in July, Dave came to me and asked if he could stop going places. He was worn out and wanted to stay home. He was only seven at the time.

A kid that young isn’t supposed to be at home on summer vacation and watch his dad deteriorate. We were also overwhelmed with treatment, educating ourselves about disease, and making preparations for our future. Oh yeah, both of us trying to work as well. People really stepped up and took Dave everywhere. Super fun places too. But that created the situation where he came to me and said, “Enough.”

That five months of Tim’s illness was when Timmy and Dave got much closer than they were already. I literally felt sick to my stomach thinking about this little kid who was losing his dad but also lost his mom in the process. My priority was helping Tim journey out of this world. I didn’t ignore my son by any means, but I was definitely focused on doing this “thing” as best we could.

I should have paid more attention to my boy. I shouldn’t have shipped him off all the time. I should have. I shouldn’t have. Damn it! This big community event that we were unfolding, maybe it was all a monumental mistake. Maybe it should have been a small, private affair where I kept my boy in a world closer to the parent that wasn’t leaving him.

But shit. Would it really have been right to not be by Tim’s side whenever possible? He literally only had five months. Was that too much to ask to be the priority? I’m so sick of Catch-22 situations and being caught between a rock and a hard place. It’s so freakin’ unfair.

Dave has always been my biggest worry since the moment he was conceived. And that has only exponentially grown since the death of his father. I thought I was relatively well equipped to handle it, but looking back, I pretty much botched it up. I won’t ever feel good about that.

I’m also aware though, that if I had handled it differently, I would be blogging now about how I pretty much botched up a different aspect of that event in our lives. Because no matter what angle you looked at it, it was an impossible situation to deal with.

And almost nine years later, I can tell you it still is.


Leave a comment

GUEST BLOGGER: EMILY GRAHAM

We haven’t had a guest blogger in awhile. Hope you enjoy this!

How to Connect as a Couple When Baby Makes Three

If you’re a new parent, you know that having a baby changes everything. You’re exhausted, up all hours of the night, and probably a little overwhelmed just trying to stay afloat. It’s all worth it for the little bundle of joy you love so much, but what about the other love of your life? Just like everything else, your relationship with your partner changes after having a baby. The most important thing you can do as a couple is to understand these changes and find the time to reconnect while working through them.

You Worry About Intimacy

Intimacy is both physical and emotional, which is why it’s very common for new moms to worry about sex after having a baby. There are the physical concerns: you may worry about sex being painful, you’re exhausted, and probably touched out. Then there are the emotional changes you’re going through at the same time. These concerns are all perfectly normal, but it’s also a struggle you can work through. One thing you can do is check out this guide that has advice and solutions for some of the issues many new parents run into when it comes to romantic intimacy.

You Have Disagreements

There’s no doubt about it: change is hard. Besides the grumpiness that comes along with being tired, you may have more disagreements while you’re figuring out how to adapt to these changes. According to Parents, couples with new babies often disagree over domestic responsibilities, parenting styles, and concerns over money (just to name a few). You have to smooth things over in order to really connect as a couple, which means you have to make time for finding solutions.

The good thing is that solutions can often be time-savers. For example, if you fight over household responsibilities, create a schedule for who does what and when. This may sound incredibly dull, but it eliminates the feeling that one person is carrying a heavier burden and may help you both stay on top of your chore list.

You’ve Changed as a Couple

Parenting is a job where you’re on the clock 24/7. If you’re able to communicate about what you expect from each other in terms of household chores and parenting tasks, you’re more likely to get along. The downside is that the way you interact sometimes changes. Fortune describes this as more of a businesslike interaction, because so much of your communication revolves around parenting and running a household.

To counteract this tendency, try to be very intentional about setting aside time where you each focus on how you’re more than just parents. Some couples benefit from dedicating just five minutes each day to connecting. Set some ground rules, and during that time, don’t talk about the baby or the house! Even though it’s just five minutes, make this time special too. Pour a glass of wine (if you aren’t too tired) or enjoy a yummy treat together.

When you can, it’s also crucial to spend a little more time together by having a date night. Getting out is always nice, but you can also have a home date night while the baby’s asleep. The important thing is to turn off the parent role just for a little while and focus on yourselves as individuals and as a couple. (Of course, if you’re home, you may have to turn the parent role back on if baby wakes, but that’s ok.) Date night is the ideal time for intimacy, but remember that doesn’t always have to be physical. The point is to focus on connecting with each other – even if you’re just cuddling on the couch watching a movie.

Sometimes, the smallest things you do as a couple end up making the biggest difference. Grab the spare moments to reconnect, and set aside time for dealing with the bigger issues too. Just as the late night feedings and countless diaper changes are worth it for the joy your baby brings, the changes to your relationship and the work they require are worth the effort.

Image by Tanya Patxot from Pixabay

Emily Graham is the creator of Mighty Moms. She believes being a mom is one of the hardest jobs around and wanted to create a support system for moms from all walks of life. On her site, mightymoms.net, she offers a wide range of info tailored for busy moms — from how to reduce stress to creative ways to spend time together as a family.

Emily Graham | emily@mightymoms.net


4 Comments

It’s Not Me, Right?

Sometimes it feels like things are so ridiculous, I wonder if I’ve lost my mind. I feel like I live in a world where so many people are consumed and passionate about these crazy things and missing the whole point. Are they serious?

One example from the world outside my immediate setting. Let’s ban Rudolph because of the bullies in it. I happen to think it has an amazing and relevant message, especially for such an “old” movie. You bet there are bullies, even Santa himself. But the “victims” (Rudolph and Hermie) overcome the crap treatment and become heroes. The end of the movie? All the bullies apologize. His dad, Santa… they realize they had behaved wrongly. Amen! What the hell is wrong with that message? Bullying is worth our attention. Focusing on Rudolph? Um… I don’t get it.

Plus, he’s pretty cute!

Overall, I like Frankie’s school, but sometimes I scratch my head. The athletics department is supposed to keep an eye on grades. Big bad on their part this year. Mistake #1, they forgot to notify the parent. Mistake #2, they forgot to notify the teacher. Mistake #3, they forgot to check in DAILY to see if their athlete was staying after. Three huge oops. And they wonder why the warning papers get thrown in the bottom of the gym bag and ignored. Failing academics? I think that is a pretty important thing for them to worry about.

You know what they did focus on? Frankie’s track meets are 6-7 hours long on Saturdays. In between events, they are left to entertain themselves. Now teens have incredible opportunities these days to get into trouble. Frankie found himself doing the worst thing I could imagine. He put on his nerd glasses he got for Christmas, put on his baseball cap backward, tucked in his shorts, and found himself in a dance battle with kids from another school. Unfortunately, he didn’t get video. I was very disappointed because I would have loved to have seen that.

At practice, he got scolded for fooling around between events.

He and his buddy got in the car and he told me what a “rascal” he was. I told him that he better not try to sing either. I assured him and his friend that I would send them more appropriate things to keep themselves occupied. I would send a vape with cannabis oil so they can calm down, a flask with some liquor, and a couple of porn mags so they can sit quietly next time and stay busy. They appreciated the offer.

I don’t know, is it me? There are dozens of other examples, but it just seems to me people are hyped up about the wrong stuff. I wanna hit my head on the wall sometimes. I just hope my kid doesn’t lose his personality because I think he lights up a room when he wants to. Certainly that’s better than hiding in the dark.


1 Comment

Screwed Up Priorities

Frankie is an avid athlete. He gives 110% for any sport he plays. Currently, he is a cross-country runner and a hockey player. You can see his effort and passion just by looking at him.

DSC_5798.JPGI have been making sure lately that I am thanking his coaches. When I go to meets or games, I am often appalled by the behavior of other coaches and parents. We have truly been lucky to have had great role models 90% of the time.

At a recent hockey game, I was sitting near a kid who looked like he was in sixth or seventh grade. He yelled on and off during the entire 75 minutes of the game. His mother sat next to him not responding in the slightest. He was belittling the referees by calling them “zebras” and “blind zebras” over and over again. At some point, everyone gets frustrated with refs and yells out, but there is a difference when you are denigrating them. If for no other reason, this young kid should show respect to them simply because they are adults. What is this kid’s future going to look like?

Cross country showed some unsavory characters as well. One coach was screaming at the guys, “You are running against these guys. They are not your friends. Stop running with them.” I can’t give you the intonation in written word, but it was awful. Frankie’s team supports each other and have each other’s backs. They cheer each other on and want everyone to be successful.

The worst was when I was talking to the girls after their race. They were talking about the moms from one of the other teams. She said one mom yelled out to her daughter, “At least you can burn off those calories you ate last night at dinner.” I was proud of our girls for realizing that was inappropriate. Plus, they had seen how that girl reacted to her mom and it wasn’t good. All I could think about was how she was a shoe-in for developing an eating disorder.

Competition is good for us. It motivates us and challenges us. Not everyone can have a trophy. But what I adamantly believe, is that my son needs to be a great human being first, and a great athlete second. Winning is NOT everything. Character IS everything. I’m extremely grateful for the coaches and parents we are surrounded by that seem to agree with that.

By the way, I’m pretty damn proud of Frankie- his skills as well as his sportsmanship. Well done!


Leave a comment

ZZZZip it!

You know how when you are saying something that others don’t want to hear, they look at you and say, “zzzzzz” while acting like they are closing a zipper? I get that done to me every now and then. I did it to myself though this week and it worked out rather well.

Dave- Cross Country

Frankie runs with cross-country which is just amazing to me because I can’t run to the end of my driveway. I’ve been complaining this summer though because he practices Monday through Saturday which means waking up at 6 or so. What about summer break? Then I remind myself that soon he will be off to college and then I will singing the blues because he isn’t here to ask for rides anymore.

One day this week it was pouring out. I mean really, really pouring. I woke Frankie up and asked him if he was still running. Yep. The other carpool mom took him and it was my job to pick the boys up afterward. He called me to get them and asked me to bring as many towels as I could.

Whining in my mind again. Of course I can but they are all in the gazebo which means getting soaked myself to go get them. I grabbed four, figuring two each. While I was driving there, you should have heard what was going on in my head.

This is utterly ridiculous. They aren’t training for the Olympics or anything. Can’t they skip days when it’s pouring out?  I mean they run six days a week.  They take this too seriously. Besides, it’s no wonder that Frankie’s $80 sneakers only last a couple of months. You aren’t supposed to run in a flood. I’m going to tell them how silly this is and hope they make a better decision next time.

(Oh yeah, I don’t have much time left to be “inconvenienced” and then I’ll be sad. Besides, they ARE teenagers. They probably think this is fun. This is my much smaller voice.)

I pull in next to another vehicle. I recognize the grandma that usually picks up her grandson. She’s driven my kid about a thousand times too. She rolls down her window and says, “Those crazy kids!” You said it Grandma.

Frankie runs over with a smile on his face and grabs the towels. I then watch with pride as he gives the other towels to all his teammates. They were so appreciative and I could tell he was thrilled to be the thoughtful hero.

He and his buddy get in the car and I can’t resist saying, “Maybe you guys should skip rainy days?” Frankie replied with, “MOM! You don’t understand the grind.” His friend chuckled in the backseat and then, of course, the radio was turned on and blaring.

Frankie was in rare form. He was singing and dancing with gusto and silliness that had me and his friend cracking up. I realized he was high on life. Honestly, sometimes I am such a dope.

The next morning the weather was great again and I woke up at 6:30 am without the alarm and panicked. I woke Frankie who said, “Nah,  I’m not running today.” Go figure.

Please feel free to comment or tell one of your own stories!


Leave a comment

The Real Talent

Some of you that know our family might remember when Frankie was 6 years old in kindergarten. It was his big year. He wrote a story called “The Kite and the Snowflake” and won third place in the Reading Rainbow contest out of 700 entries. (He clearly should have gotten first, of course!) It was an amazingly thoughtful and poignant story. The principal made it into an actual book and held a school-wide assembly for him to read it to the student body. He got invited to the Board of Education for the same. It put him on the map. I credit his teacher for discovering it, buried in the middle of a scribbled journal.

He is now 15 and I ask him to clean out his folders once every six weeks. He puts everything in the recycling bin and then I fish it out. I keep a few things here and there for his memory boxes. I caught this poem written on the back of a sheet of paper. I confirmed he actually wrote it and he even gave me permission to post it which surprised me. Anyway, I know I have a mother’s bias (obviously) but I think he is the real writer in the family. Let me know if you agree this is pretty great. It has the hallmarks of a teenager that make you chuckle, but overall I thinks he captures a deep understanding. The assignment was to write a poem from a Jewish perspective. (Thank God I never got assignments like that when I was in school!)

Where is my God?

My fellow Jews and I stand alone.

There’s nowhere to go or no place to call home.

My friends hidden behind ash.

Here I stand with no cash.

We are torn down by being beaten or blasted.

Maybe Hitler thinks all Jews should be trashed.

One thing that is not really cool?

All Jews are segregated from the great German schools.

Our God seems to be unreliable.

Therefore, us Jews are considered undesirable.

My depression is growing because my God isn’t near.

I can’t numb the pain because I can’t afford beer.

One thing is for sure, my God is not found.

Life is hard without Him around.

 

Yep, I’m a proud mama.

 


2 Comments

Deja Vu

I had a visit from Tim the other night. It didn’t come in a dream or in the form of a hummingbird. He came embodied in his now 14-year-old son, Frankie. We have season Sabres tickets (NHL hockey). Tim had them for years and years. When I first met him, it drove me crazy. I thought the household passion for hockey was ridiculous. I remember Colin and Matthew playing mini-stick hockey in the living room and I would say in disgust to my mom, “Who the heck plays hockey in the living room?”

Of course, I have had to eat my words (and my attitude) about a thousand times since them. Frankie and his brothers and friends still play mini-stick hockey all the time and of course, the best place to play is in the living room. I get it now.

We often struggled financially for the first few years of our marriage. I finally saw a purpose for those damn tickets when the Sabres made the play-offs. People could sell their tickets for enough money to pay for the entire next season! Tim was mortified at the mere suggestion of  selling play-off seats and I couldn’t believe it. Then I went to a play-off game with him. Holy cow. I couldn’t believe it. The energy was out of this world. I never asked him to sell those tickets again. The Sabres in the play-offs? Priceless. No amount of money would be worth it. (Ok, maybe a million bucks or something.)

Usually Colin and Frankie get the tickets. They are super great seats. Here is our view of the ice:img_20170110_185749335

See what I mean?

Anyhow, I decided to take Frankie to the game this week. He is a teenager, so of course he wasn’t thrilled with the idea. In fact, he said no at first, but then he came to his senses. Now, he was only eight-years-old when his dad died, but sometimes it freaks me out by how much he can mimic him. Part of me was thinking that I’m the parent so I need to put my foot down. Then I thought better of it and decided not to rock the boat any more than was necessary. Getting him to spend the evening with me was miracle enough.

The first argument, I knew, was going to be parking. Tim knew where to park so you didn’t have to pay. I would only go to one game a year so I would tell him that I wanted to park close and pay. It is cold and miserable in Buffalo in the winter, but he was driving so I always ended up walking and freezing my ass off. Frankie is quite indignant about paying for parking. He thinks it’s ridiculous. It was raining and the winds were horrid, but we parked where he told me to (which was of course, where his dad used to) and walked to the arena. I was cursing under my breath…LOL.

I tried to engage him in conversation throughout the game, but unfortunately I am hopeless. I kept saying the things that absolutely drive him bonkers. Such a woman. I don’t get the intricacies of the game so I comment on things I know. “Hey, number 90 is Ryan O’Reilly? He is the fathead you got for Christmas right? I didn’t realize who he was. He is my favorite player.” Frankie looks at me in shock. Why is he my favorite player? Now I am silent. I can’t possibly explain to him that last year when Emily was in town, she and her friends and I went to a game. Number 90 always warms up the same way and he is different from the other players. He does these stretches that look incredibly sexy and naughty on the ice. I just tell Frankie, “No reason.”

More dumb comments from a mom. Hey, a lot of the players have beards now. What’s up with that? What will they do when it is play-off time when they are supposed to grow beards? Again, Frankie just says, “Grow their beards longer.” He hates that the only thing I seem to notice is the looks of the players. What can I say? I’m a single woman and some of the players that still have teeth are pretty hot.

A second miracle occurred. Frankie agreed to a selfie and even said I could post it. You can tell by his face that he wasn’t thrilled, but he let me.img_20170110_185509102

It was a great game. We actually won. There was a big fight in the first period. Other than embarrassing Frankie by dancing when we scored, we managed quite well together.

Then the drive home (after the long walk to the car) and more arguments about taking the side streets home rather than the thruway. I spent the night with my teenage son and my deceased husband. It was a great night!