I Wanted To Save Him.

I had to take a First Aid/CPR class at work, the other day. It would be safe to say that I didn’t want to. Initially, that was just because I’m lazy. But, as it progressed, it was hitting a little too close to home. See, if you bring up anything related to the heart, I’m going to think of my Dad. And that terrible day when my mom left me a message saying that his heart stopped and that I should come to the hospital.

It was the day that I lost my dad and was forced to accept the fact that life stops. I spent years saying how grateful I was that I had both my parents and then suddenly I didn’t have both parents.  I have had a hard time accepting how it happened or that it happened at all. And I live with the awareness that I will lose my mom, too. That is something that I can’t handle dwelling on so let me just skip past that thought.

When I took the class, my mom was in the hospital. She’s home now and she’s ok. But, it was obviously on my mind. I explained to the instructor that I would be checking my phone and she understood, totally.  Anyway, between worrying about my mom and missing my dad, the class was emotional for me. I also was anxious about performing the cpr on the dummy because I am not known for my strength. I was anticipating not being able to make the little lights go on to indicate that I was doing it hard enough and that the rest of the class would wait while I kept trying and trying. But, that’s not what happened!

I reluctantly got down on my knees over this cpr dummy and gave him cpr. When I did, I put my heart into it, no pun intended. (Well, maybe a little pun intended.) And to my surprise, my classmates were saying things like “Wow, she’s got some crazy arm strength!” and “He’s gonna live, damn it!” I laughed with relief. My only mistake was going too fast. She told me to slow the thrusts down. I passed quickly and easily. I awkwardly (but with relief) got off the floor and back in my chair. I was amazed that I, of all people, was referred to as someone having any kind of physical strength. I mean I’m notoriously not strong. I breathe heavy when I walk up hills (small ones) and I can’t spin in a circle without getting dizzy. So why had it been so easy? Then it hit me. I was trying to save my dad.

When I realized that, all the memories of that horrible night came back. Seeing them try to revive him will haunt me always.  I don’t actually think that I could have done better but I think in that moment with good old cpr dummy guy, I was going to try.

But, of course, there’s nothing that I can do. I continue to struggle with finding peace. It will probably be a bit longer. There’s really no probably. It’s funny, I attended a funeral for a friend’s father recently. It was sad, obviously. And it was weird to realize that she, I and another friend who was there have all lost our dads. Sometimes, I feel like no one could understand and sometimes I wish that was true. Because I hate the idea that she will now understand and that my friend next to me already did. And as I sat there, I wanted to feel the peace that these people already seemed to feel due to their strong Christian beliefs. But, instead as I listened to “How Great Thou Art,” three words kept going through my mind. I’m Still Pissed.

I am. But I don’t want to be. I do believe he is in heaven. I do believe he is at peace. I do believe that he is hanging out with his parents. But, I still think it’s unfair.

So many things are unfair. But, some things aren’t. It’s nothing short of a blessing that I have my mom. My sisters. My nieces and nephews. My husband. My kids. My friends. My animals.  So many things to be grateful for. And I definitely am grateful for the fact that I am apparently stronger than I think. And that I didn’t have to be embarrassed in front of my co-workers. 😉  I will try to focus on all these good things and be grateful for what I have. Because I have so much. I will try not to be pissed. I will try to be a good person, make both of my parents proud, pay it forward and enjoy my life.

Even though, I know some part of me will always be trying to save my dad.

cpr

 

 

 

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Is There A Handbook For This?

Let me just start with saying, I love my children. We all know this. They are the best and make my days brighter and my heart full. But, seriously, what is with their inability/unwillingness to clean??

Well, not necessarily clean, but just pick up their stuff. Well, not necessarily just pick up their stuff, but pick it up and not leave it somewhere else.

Ever since we moved, cleaning and organizing has become my hobby. (Yeah, I know, I need better hobbies.) It’s important to me that everything stays in good working order and oddly enough, I actually enjoy it. But, the kids don’t seem to share my inspired motivation. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I would say that Antwan was deliberately thwarting me.  It’s amazing the amount of times that he moves things right after I put them away. And I knew it was bad when William was upset that I asked him to sweep and mop the upstairs floor. He said that he can’t enjoy his weekend now because he has to do chores. (20 minutes, tops, people! 20 minutes!) Kaleb says things like, at least, I didn’t, insert slightly worse option. Lizzie is the rarest offender, she almost never makes a mess anywhere in the house but, what’s up with the collection of food wrappers in her room?

I know that this isn’t just me. If it is, don’t tell me, it might make me cry. 😉  But, I don’t understand why my 19 year old thinks it’s ok to clean his shoes with the hand towel in the bathroom. Or why he insists on setting the toilet paper on the floor. And don’t even get me started on his tendency to throw his shirts in the sink and complain that I put them in the washer because I assumed they are dirty when they are actually  clean. And, I don’t understand why my 16 year old can’t put the towel back in the bathroom but instead throws it on his bedroom floor.  And  can’t take his dirty clothes to his room but leaves them on the bathroom floor instead. Or why my 12 year old has to decorate the living room floor with his orange socks, leave his toothpaste on the kitchen counter, and why he left hangers on the porch. Or more importantly, why did he bring hangers outside in the first place? And why can’t he close a cabinet. Why? Why?

I thought about putting signs up everywhere as reminders. But, that would be an eye sore and I have a cute cat sign in the bathroom reminding them to flush and that sure doesn’t happen so why bother?

Cuter than it is effective!

catsign

I haven’t gotten very far with this winner, either. hahacatsign2

But, I did think of a potentially pointless and definitely time consuming, but maybe at least irritating enough to work, idea.

I’m going to write a Parker family handbook!

It will come with all of the expectations of the household! It will insure that no one can say that they didn’t know that I didn’t want them to leave plates in their room, for example. They will sign that they received it and get their own copy!

As I typed that, I realized how pointless a handbook would be. But, as far as I can tell, everything else is, too. But, please, (seriously, please!) let me know what works for you parents out there. And if nothing works, definitely tell me that, too. Maybe we can get together for coffee and cry together. 😉

But, meanwhile, I’m going to make my little handbook. I love to write so might as well.  I’m sure that my children who I love so much will appreciate my efforts and understand the importance of following rules. They will grasp the fact that I’m trying to mold them into successful and competent future adults and they will thank me for it. It’s ok, you can laugh. I can’t hear you over Brian’s laughter, anyway. 🙂

 

Should You Really Sing Like No One’s Listening?

When I was in kindergarten, my mom decided to play friendship matchmaker with a little girl in our neighborhood and me. We hadn’t lived there that long so I didn’t really know the kids yet.  As my mom asked the girl her name and introduced us, I wanted to run and hide. But that girl ended up becoming one of my closest childhood friends. She and I and two other girls in the neighborhood spent countless hours together over the years. That is until sixth grade when she became popular and I did not.  (But, that’s another much less funny story!)

She was no angel. Through the years, she caused some trouble for me but it’s all water under the bridge. With the possible exception of the scar that I still have in my arm from the time that she stabbed me with a pencil. Ah, memories. 😉

But, she was fun. Lots of fun. And she will always hold a special place in my heart. And she was also responsible for one of my most embarrassing memories to date. Side note: Can you tell that I was googling blog post ideas? 🙂  Anyway, here is probably my most embarrassing moment. I must have done ok in life if nothing beat out fifth grade. Or maybe I just go used to doing dumb stuff.  Who knows?

Anyway, our fifth grade class was taught in a portable trailer. I guess maybe the school was growing. All I know is that my friend was already starting to pull away from me. I’m realizing this now as I look back on it. She also seemed to enjoy making things awkward for me.  She must have because one day, she told me that it was lots of fun to sing in the bathroom because of how it echoed and that I really should try it. (The bathroom was inside the portable with the classroom.) I appreciated any advice that she had for me so I made a mental note to try it. Ok, it’s important to tell you that I was extremely shy and quiet. To the point that I was later signed up for the big sister program because they thought I must be troubled. I was fine, I was just shy. It was rare for me to talk in class and I only relaxed around close friends. Like her.

So one day, I had to go to the bathroom.  And I decided to see if my friend was right. I sang a few bar from “Annie.” She was right, the acoustics were great. I’m not a skilled singer, mind you, but I am skilled at belting it out. So I did. I did a little medley of Annie tunes, complete with a little clapping and dancing routine to “It’s a Hard Knock Life.” I  then moved on to Ah-a’s popular song, at the time, “Take On Me.” Now if you are from my generation, you have seen the video. If you haven’t, there is a part where the character is slamming into the wall repeatedly, trying to break through. That is unfortunately the scene that I decided to re-enact.

I was having a great time. Unaware of how thin portable walls are. But, in hindsight, I really should have been aware. But since I wasn’t, I really did have a great time.  And when I finished my creative bathroom experience, I collected myself, returned to quiet Emily and came out.

I instantly picked up on the combination of my classmates looking at me or trying not to look at me. I told myself that it was my paranoia. But, I soon learned that it wasn’t. As I sat down, Mrs. Foster gently and slowly said (like she was choosing her words carefully), “Emily, in the future, please don’t sing in the bathroom.”

The realization hit me that they had heard it all. They had heard me sing and heard me slam into the walls. I don’t remember how I got through the rest of the day but I do know that I never sang in that bathroom again. 😉

I guess the lesson here is be careful who you trust and think before you sing. Pick your moments seems to fit, too!

Anyone else want to share an embarrassing moment?

keep-calm-and-sing-in-the-bathroom

 

I Should Have Read The Room.

 

 

The whole time that I have been mom to my kiddos, we lived in an area that was not particularly diverse. I guess that’s the reason that everyone knew who we were.  Transracial families were also more unusual than they are now. Not that they are particularly common now but it is definitely a bit less note-worthy.  Anyway, we have grown accustomed to everyone knowing us. Often more than we knew them. We constantly got comments about how they are growing, unsolicited but welcomed advice on Lizzie’s hair and sometimes direct questions about our family dynamic.

Brian and I have joked that we are local celebrities and this awareness probably kept me in check when my temper was about to flare in public settings. So, thanks, St Johns County! 😉

Now that we have moved to a more diverse area, this is changing. Our neighborhood has many more people of color and my kids are just kids.  I love it.

I also have a part-time job that involves a lot of independent work. This means that I haven’t spent a lot of time with my coworkers. We are all out in the field and don’t spend much time interacting. I love the freedom but don’t love the lack of socializing opportunities. That’s not the point, though.

The point is society’s perception of us has changed but my perception of our image hadn’t. I still think that everyone knows my story. Until the other day when I went to a work training and I noticed one of  my black coworkers had a new hairstyle.

See, I was excited because Lizzie had just gotten crochet braids.

And while her hair was being done, I asked the stylists some questions. They kindly and patiently answered them all. So anxious to test my knowledge, I asked my coworker if she had crochet braids.

She looked surprised (as did the black co-worker next to her) and said, coldly, “No. This is my hair.”

Awkwardly but still trying to be cheerful, I said “Oh, my daughter just got crochet braids and I’m trying to learn all the terminology.”

More strange expressions accompanied her response, “No, this is my hair. It’s locked.”

More awkwardly, “Oh, it’s very pretty.”

“Thank you.”

Silence.

Meekly and totally confused with her reaction, “I hope it’s ok that I asked.”

She said it was totally fine.  Neither of the women looked like it was fine, though.

The room sat in silence as I wondered why that interaction had been so weird. Then it dawned on me.

She has never met my children.

And since I don’t go running around saying, “Hey, we’re a transracial family! Nice to meet you,” she had no idea that I didn’t have white kiddos.

I sat there, dealing with the realization that the women were imagining me taking my white daughter in to a African American focused salon and getting braids in her hair. And, to make it better, I then came in acting like I’m now the authority on African American hair styles. Man, in a world where appropriation of other cultures is a common topic, it would not be cool to come in to a meeting room, bragging about basically appropriating one of their hairstyles. Which from her perspective, that’s totally what I did.

But, I wasn’t!

All I wanted to do was scream “No, you don’t understand! My kids are black!” But, something told me that it might have made an awkward situation more awkward. 😉 So I just sat there. The group moved onto other topics while I obsessed until our boss came in and rescued me from my mental loop. (Thanks, boss lady!)

It’s a little funny, a little embarrassing, and I think it’s safe to say this will not lead to a friendship between my coworker and me. But, since I see her maybe once every couple of months, I guess that’s ok.

And it is definitely a lesson in thinking before I speak and not worrying about what people think of me. I also probably shouldn’t take the hair stylist up on her offer to put braids in my hair. At least not until I quit my job! 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, it’s been amazing being let into this secret circle, so to speak. I’ve gotten so used to it that I forget that every black woman in America is unaware of my honorary membership

Everyone Has Their Stuff.

I was talking to a mom of someone I knew in high school and she was telling me how her daughter was often made fun of in school. I was shocked. So shocked that I called a mutual friend and asked her if she had any idea. (She did not.) You see, this girl always seemed very confident and happy. She dressed differently and definitely walked to the beat of her proverbial own drum. And I regarded her as the coolest girl in the world. To be honest, this opinion hasn’t particularly changed much, through the years. 😉

So, I never would have known. I never would have thought that she had a care in the world or that anyone gave her a hard time for anything. Because being different was what I thought was so cool about her.

It was an important reminder. You just never really know. You never really know what it’s like for someone else.

And, when I listened to her mother’s story, I was reminded of an image that I often connect to my high school friend. I remembered when she walked across the stage to get her diploma at our high school graduation. We had been warned to be appropriate…get our diplomas, shake hands, smile for the picture and get off the stage. And, that’s what we did. I mean, that’s what we did.

Except for her.

She got her diploma, shook hands, smiled for the picture, and then threw her hands up and did a dance. And IT WAS THE COOLEST. I remember how we cheered. I don’t remember but I’m pretty sure, the administration did not join the cheering. But, seriously, it was so cool.

My point in telling this “had to be there” anecdote is that I see it differently now. Now I realize that that there may have been more to that celebratory move. Maybe it was more that just the average happiness about being done. Maybe she was glad she made it through the crap; maybe she was relieved that she made it. Much like many of us, I’m sure.

 

I’ve been trying to take it to heart. I mean, I always tried to be kind but I like to think I am a little more aware now.

We all have our own battles. We all have our own stories, our traumas, and our successes. I’m going to try not to forget that.

Be kind.  It matters.

12

What About My Son?

It’s been an eventful bunch of months. I adjusted to working outside the home, weathered motherhood, and had countless moments of self reflection. Blah blah blah, I lived. I got wrapped up in it. This is just the obligatory explanation that I feel compelled to make after not blogging for so long.

I (we) also moved across town into my childhood home. There was a lot of drama around it but it ended up with us in a pretty darn good situation. And, for the first time in a very long time, I feel equipped (or more equipped) to handle this crazy little thing called life….

Anyway, there’s my little recap. What I really want to talk about is William.

William has come a long way. William and I have come a long way. But, like life with teenagers, there will always be challenges. (And I know that William feels the same but opposite way…life with moms are challenging.)

So, the kids’ school does a lot of award ceremonies. One a quarter to be exact. Some might say that’s excessive. I know I did. But, I also respect the intention behind it of trying to keep the kids feeling enthused, motivated, and supported.
I missed the first one because of work so when the next one came around, I was ready to reluctantly attend. I emphasize the reluctance because I asked the school if my three would be getting any awards (because I was fully prepared to bail if not). I was told that they try to make sure that each student gets one.

Now that might be an example of how kids today become entitled but for my purposes, it was just confirmation that we had to attend. So Brian and I put our big kid pants on and showed up. I was so glad we did because the pride on their faces when they got the awards made it worth it.

kidawards

I left feeling so proud of those three. So when the next one came around, I recognized the importance of going. The kids did, too, but, on the way, one of the two younger ones was a little less inspired (and a little more tired). They asked what the point in going was. And William, of all people, said that they do the award ceremonies to build confidence. Well, I thought that was pretty cool.

So, we went. They started with the younger kids first. Lizzie got an award for reading and her straight A’s. Antwan got one for science and something else that I wish I could remember right now.

Then it was time for William’s class. His teacher went through his list and I watched everyone get called up except for William. I sat there, stunned. Then his math teacher did his awards and made no mention of William, either.

I sat there, fuming. (And feverishly texting a friend to determine if I was overreacting or not. Ha!) Now, I am painfully aware that William’s grades…well, they suck, So, I understood that he hadn’t earned anything for his grades. But, my take was that you can’t have it both ways. If they were going to try to make sure all the students got an award, then they sure better include my kid.

As I sat there, I was flashing back on what he said about the awards building confidence. I was wondering if this was going to lead to a fall-out in the days to come as he dwelled on it. And when he came up to me after, he had a tone. It’s a tone that I believe is indicative of bad things to come. Although, to be fair, I could have just been reading it that way.

Either way, I handed him the keys so he could go to the car and then I marched my little, afraid of confrontation self to the principal’s office. (Fyi, the principal is also his math teacher.)

I mentioned to him that William was the only one who hadn’t gotten an award. I said that I understood that he didn’t earn one academically but I was concerned with the fact that everyone else got one. When I told him what William had said about the awards building confidence, that struck a chord with him.

He said that he didn’t want to damage William’s confidence and started to think out loud about the fact that he had given another student a “most improved” award and since William had also made up a lot of work recently, he had also improved. Next thing I knew, he was filling out a certificate.
Through the whole interaction, I was worried that I was a part of the problem and just being a helicopter mom. But, I was all in, anyway.
He then went to our car and presented William with the award.

He said – Your mom was talking to me and I realized that you had been working hard, etc, etc..

He gave him the award, William thanked him, he closed our car door and then he got ambushed with a teary-eyed hug from this helicopter mom. haha.

And, ever since that moment, William and I have gotten along great.
Initially, I cringed at the idea of William knowing that I basically went and complained my way into him getting an award. But, I think, inadvertently, I couldn’t have planned it better. He knows now that I have his back and I know that he hasn’t felt like I do. If the angry jabs that he has thrown my way, in the past, are to be believed. 😉 So I like to think that this meant something to him. Or maybe he’s just been nicer to me because he’s just been in a good mood, but I’ll take it, anyway.

Maybe just as importantly, I learned that I do have his back. I can’t say for sure if I would have bothered a handful of months ago, but I hope so. Sometimes, in the midst of the drama with him, it’s been easy for me to lose sight of the fact that I really love that kid.

And, it’s easy for me to lose confidence in the idea that he loves me.

But, a few days after, as they were getting out of the car, I said “I love you.” I had actually made a mental note to say it out loud, to make sure they heard it. Well, first, William made some smart response. Then he stopped, smiled, and said “You know I love you.” He was right, I did know. But I didn’t know, until that moment, how much I really needed to hear that.

So, yeah, maybe I contributed to the problem. Maybe I taught William a bad lesson. Maybe if I had backed off, he would have tried harder next quarter to earn an award on his own.

Maybe.

But, maybe I don’t care.

No Secret Sisters For Me!

So, recently, a friend posted a Secret Sister invite on her facebook page. Like many others, I was enticed by the idea of 6-36 presents. I’m not gonna lie, I am pro-present. I absolutely love getting presents. Now to be fair, I also love giving presents so it’s not that I’m selfish or anything like that. I just dig presents, all around.  Anyway, in previous years, I haven’t participated because I was afraid that I couldn’t be trusted to go through the whole process of buying a gift, buying a box and going to the post office. You see, I’m pro-presents but I’m not pro-hassle. But, as it points out in the post, it’s a “Hello, amazon!” society now. I realized that I could definitely commit to sitting in my recliner and clicking “proceed to checkout.” So, I commented “I’m in!”

Of course, I soon found out that I was obligated to re-post the invite on my page. So, I did. But, not before getting my 10 year old daughter on board. I planned to post one on my behalf and one on her behalf. Then I would help her pick a gift for her secret sister and enjoy watching her get gifts, too. That’s something that I also am in favor of, seeing Lizzie happy. But, once I reposted, this positive diversion in a sea of negativity became just another negative.
Because everyone said it was a scam.
When I saw my notifications after I re-posted, I was excited to see all of my future “secret sisters,” but instead I got one person who wanted to play along and a few others warning me that it was a scam. While I was truly appreciative that my friends had my back, I was disappointed. And after reading the article that one person shared, I still wasn’t particularly swayed. I wasn’t worried about identity theft since I was only giving out my address. Anyone could find that out, honestly. And, my friend who posted the secret sister invite assured me that her friend (the original poster for this particular exchange) does it every year and it always goes well.
Determined, I scammed on because I wasn’t going to leave my own Secret Sister hanging. She was waiting for her gift and a gift she would get! Plus, I had my one friend/cousin who still wanted to play along! Well, at least, until she re-posted and got all the warnings from her friends, too. Ha, figures. 
So, my concerned friends have guaranteed that I won’t receive any of the promised presents because it stops with me and my name will never be added to the list. It’s not really that big of a deal, just a bit of a bummer. Not the lack of a present, necessarily, just the lack of fun. Well, maybe a little bit the lack of present. haha. Not long after, I mentioned to my friend, who originally got me going on this secret sister almost adventure, that if I did get a present, I was just gonna give it to my daughter because I didn’t want her disappointed. And, guess who magically got a secret sister present just a couple days later??  Yep, even though, her name was never officially on any list, Lizzie got a gift!  And, then the next day and the day after that!
The Secret Sister gift exchange may be a scary chain letter, pyramid scheme to some, but to my daughter, it was an unexpected pack of socks “all with cats on them!” (“How did she know that I like cats??”). And it was a cat coloring book. And it was a ridiculously cute Fingerling toy.

So, I call it a success. 🙂

Thank you, Lizzie’s secret sister, otherwise known as Jessica, and your sister helpers, you made her week!

And, please, I beg you, no more links of articles or ominous warnings. I’m not going to be arrested for re-posting a chain letter or lose my identity because my church friend’s mutual friend knows my address. And true, I’m not going to get any gifts (so thanks for that, haha). But, I am going to go look for another happy diversion and borrow my sweet girl’s socks when she’s not looking. 😉

*Disclaimer: My blase’ take on this would not be quite so blase’ if some random person who I don’t know wanted me to send a stranger a present. That might be weird…

*Second disclaimer: Don’t stop looking out for me, friends of mine. There’s no telling what I’ll get myself involved in next week! 😉