Sometimes you just have to let things flow. Or get the hell out of the way of the Tsunami. After a mini emotional Tsunami in the Spring and with no apparent storm on the horizon, in a clear place and from high ground, I swear I see into eternity.
This summer began on Memorial Day in a surge of peacefulness and clarity and probably a bunch of my dumbfounding luck. My daughter brought 2 of my grand babies to see me, us, my life and family. As I often dream and as I know, it was so natural, so right, so void of the trappings of judgement or the noticing thereof. Like when something is just too good to stop and point out, for fear of jinxing it or popping it like a balloon. It feels natural like breathing, or even gasping for air. The heart(h) room I finally turned into my dream kitchen is pulsing like a heartbeat and full of living specks of the continuation of us all. My baby came home. My first daughter, my first true love, bearing her maternal gifts and with a whopping dose of hope for the future.
The sweetness of it all! Could, would the bitter taste of the past be laid to rest? My husband of 20 years talks nervously on, my teenagers’ eyes wide and questioning. Mama cry no more…?, Shea thinks. For the mostly hidden sadness is no longer feeling like a secret threat to her stable loving home. Russell stares proudly on, ready for anything but relieved to feel the authenticity and normality of it all. “It” affected us all differently and living without your half siblings almost all of your childhood seems alien. The old suitcase in the basement full of beautiful remnants of my brief time as teenage mother of Devan and her brother Cody seems no longer a deep, beckoning well of grief.
I feel hopeful and flowing and strong, praying to be blessed with more time and just plain sick of my sensitive, PTSD, prone to triggers old self. There is no deeper sadness than losing a child, yet eternity is looking like the most beautiful sunset after the most heart wrenching storm. And so I flow, so I go…
Now, I am far from a saint. But, motherhood has been a driving theme my entire life. My name means “Lamb” as in sacrificial lamb. As a child I felt like I needed protect my family at all costs. The cost of which you can’t even imagine. But that is a closed vault, past trauma long let go of, no place for in this happy life.
It was as if I was born a mother. It was the nickname my family gave me as a toddler. I took care of everyone. I cooked for the entire clan, all 8 plus of us through grade school. I cared for my half brothers when they were born and I was in grade school. My room was between my half brothers Eben and baby Elijah and my mother’s. So when Elijah cried in the wee hours, I consoled him, changed his diaper, bounced him, laid him back down. At the lake in the summer I always had a baby on my hip. When Eben cried and cried with his ear infections I rocked him until my mother and stepfather came home. No cell phones, no way to contact them, 3 miles out on a dirt road in the middle of New England’s God’s Country. Our cat even had babies in my bed! This is one of the highest compliments, in my opinion.
GOOD LORD I have made mistakes. I am the one responsible. No one else is. There, I said it.
Now let’s get on with it-I want each and every one of you who has lost a child to know that you CAN rise above, live through it. I only want to inspire YOU, The Underdog-to let you know that you are not alone as a mother or father, that is, for whatever reason, without your child. The great tides of life pull us out to many riptides, and the only option, for the time being, is to swim parallel to the shore, never losing sight of it. That is exactly what I did.Continue reading The Great Underdog Story of The Mavericks, Bing Russell and an Alienated, Non-custodial Mother.
A decent amount of “US” seem to start the summer with the greatest of intentions. Torn between just plain LAZINESS and the ever-present old-fashioned GUILT, we honorably and optimistically see summer as a BONDING opportunity with our children. The alternative, SHLEPPING them back and forth to CAMP each day sounds like GROUNDHOG DAY as we are BONE TIRED from the 9 month GRAND SCHLEP of the school year. The idea of NO STRUCTURE beckons us, lures us in with visualizations of sleepy mornings and BUCOLIC scenes in the park.
The WORKING contingent in our family, in this case my HUSBAND, sees MAMA CAMP as a FISCAL NO BRAINER and, from his perspective, a CAKE WALK. “You have the FREEDOM to do anything you want with them!” he proclaims, excitedly. The SUPER HERO ROAD WARRIOR, HEROIC PROVIDER, GRAND PRIX RACER AGAINST THE CLOCK, LIST MAKER and PERPETUAL DOER has no qualms whatsoever with “suggesting” an ongoing, INSURMOUNTABLE list of activities and adventures. You see, most of the week, he will live vicariously THROUGH me, WITH us by virtue of the APPLE GODS as he traverses the country WORKING. With us in SPIRIT, yet armed with the incredible SUPER POWER of gracefully bowing out with a light tap of his Ichabod Crane-like pointer finger.
And so the Summer of 2014 began with this NOBLE vision. I told everyone I knew that the REAL beauty of our OCEANFRONT pad was the incredible playground that is our FRONT YARD. Truth be told, we have MANY incredible MOMENTS scattered though out each day. It’s just that, well, turns out that MAMA CAMP is as BONE TIRING as all of the SCHLEPPING. Beginning with the HIGH BAR set by not just the WORKING CONTINGENT, but MAMA and the KIDS too, we struggle with an ALL or NOTHING (read:sleep drunkenness) approach to our days. Trouble is, once you FEED these MONKEYS the GOOD stuff, the ROLLER COASTERS, the 130ft BUNGEE jump at THE FABULOUS DEL MAR FAIR (which, by the way, is probably what most kids AND adults think HEAVEN looks like), the DRIVING of the GOLF CART, the MONSTER ice cream cones, the SIMULATED WAVES to ride, etc. etc. there is literally and figuratively, no where to go but DOWN when you are the JULIE McCOY, Cruise Director/Camp Counsellor/Entertainment Coordinator of the MALONE FAMILY LIFE.
IF you know me well, you probably know MY story. It begins in my toddler years when my family nicknamed me “MOTHER.” I was the middle child who nurtured my 5 siblings with EASE, like I had somehow done it before…(PAST LIFE?). We ALL have stories, recurring THEMES in our lives. As you hit The Illustrious MIDDLE AGE—-who came up with this? It should be a stage people can look forward to like “The STAGE of ENLIGHTENMENT”—-you FINALLY START to make sense of the often EXCRUCIATING lessons that vividly begin connecting in a positive way to your SELF ACTUALIZED, (wiser?) SELF. If I manage to hook you with my anecdotal musings, I promise you will laugh, cry, and be able to envision these now connected, sometimes DANGLING, LIVE WIRES (trust issues), nerve endings if you will, that will no doubt be familiar to you as you live out your OWN story.
So perhaps now you can see where I am GOING with this whole MAMA CAMP thing. After being completely, methodically alienated (PARENTAL ALIENATION is a real epidemic) from my 2 older children-now in their upper 20s-Devan (girl) and Cody (boy), I was eventually BLESSED with 2 more, Russell and Shea (girl), at a time in my life where not only can I afford it (HA!), I can actually LIVE it with an OPEN heart. The road to MAMA CAMP has been long and littered with intense lessons and heartbreak (NOT only mine). Not until RIGHT NOW have I TRULY been in a safe “place” to share it, with humor, a WEE bit of wisdom, and an OH-SOOOOOOO-BITTERSWEET heart.
Before I break, I want to share a BEAUTIFUL anecdote from MAMA CAMP with Russell early this week. In trying to keep the excitement level HIGH for my 10-going-on-16 bungee jumping THRILL SEEKER, we rented a wave runner and headed out to the NO SPEED LIMIT ZONE in the bay. As he climbed on the seat behind me, he said, “THIS IS GOING TO BE THE LONGEST HUG I HAVE EVER GIVEN YOU!” Because Russell is so deep, (and get this, he REALLY likes ME…) he ALWAYS thinks like this-his innocence still in tact. Once we got out to the OPEN WATER, he slid into the seat in front of me and proceeded to take me on a FULL THROTTLE HELL RIDE.
DOES ANYONE ELSE SEE A METAPHOR FOR RAISING CHILDREN HERE?