Redemption

Since my blog is about family and my unique perspective on motherhood, of course I’m going to share stories of my family and our lives…I think it’s a good thing to share my stories not only for my daughter, Shantel, for whom I write this blog…but also as a reminder to my readers that when you’re facing difficult times within your family…your not alone..all families have ups and downs it’s how you deal with it that matters…

In my last post, this past Monday, I shared with you how my mother hurt my feelings when I was visiting her and she suddenly got angry with me asked me what I’ve ever done for her…I asked you to pray for me that I would be able to “rise above the hurt feelings and not let it affect the way I treat her…”

When I left my mother on Monday, in tears, and with my heart in my hands, I drove straight to church for my hour of Adoration. I spent the full hour just sitting in the presence of the blessed sacrament thinking about my relationship with my mother and asking God to help me “rise above” the hurt I was feeling. I didn’t say any specific prayers like I usually do, I just asked for the spiritual guidance I needed. As I placed myself in the presence of my Lord I kept thinking why do I keep putting myself through this with my mother…no matter what I do it never seems to be enough…why can’t I just walk away from her and leave her to herself? Then this tug of war of questions/thoughts came into my mind, “do you love her?” I immediately pushed that back with “she’s my mother”…but do you love her?…I pushed back with I feel responsible for her…but do you love her? As I was contemplating those thoughts, my mind was suddenly filled with these words repeating themselves over and over…”she is your mother, treat her better than she’s treated you”.  As I drove home from church I had a new resolve to make that my mantra when dealing with my mother.

A few hours after I arrived home from church, my mother called me to tell me she spoke to my late brother, Stephen’s wife, and she and her two boys were coming to visit mom on Saturday. Mom wanted to know if I would go to the store to get some kind of Easter candy so she could give it to the boys when they came. With my new mantra ringing in my ears…I said of course I would be happy to do that for her.

Wednesday on my way to visit mom, I stopped by the store and found some nice size chocolate easter bunny’s  that I thought the boys might like. I started to get two, one for each boy, but then I decided I would buy ten so mom would have enough to also share with her roommate, staff and other residents…I also picked up a much larger chocolate bunny for mom and told her it was her Easter gift from me.

When I gave the bag of Easter goodies to mom, her face lit up as she realized she had more than she asked for and she looked up at me and said “oh thank-you Cindy, but I’m going to give this big Easter bunny to your brother, Danny, for his Easter present, he’s such a good boy and he’s coming to visit me on Easter…Then she said “your such a good daughter…what would I ever do without you…?” I simply smiled and thought to myself…I don’t know mom, but your my mother and I’m going to treat you better than you treat me…”

When my husband, Bill, came home from work he asked me how my visit with mom went. I shared the story of my visit and told him I didn’t let it get to me today and I’m really trying to not bring anything that happens between mom and I home to upset my family…Bill said he didn’t know how I tolerate the ups and downs of mom’s many moods…because he struggles with just seeing how it affects me…so I shared with Bill that I’m committed to a new resolve of treating her better than she treats me. I told him I’m trying hard to just do the best I can and not expect anything in return, because sometimes people just can’t meet our expectations. But at least for now, for this day… I’ve been redeemed in my mother’s eyes…I’ll take that and not expect anything more!

Stay Tuned!

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Cutting Words

What have you ever done for me? That’s the question my mother asked me this morning while I was visiting her at the care center where she lives.

When I arrived at the care center to visit my mother, she was sitting in her room looking at her phone but she couldn’t seem to remember how to pull up the phone number she wanted. I told her I would write the phone numbers she uses the most in the back of the new Highway’s Calender I bought her at the beginning of the year. I’ve written all the numbers in a tablet for her but she can’t seem to keep track of where she puts the tablet. So this morning I sat with her and transferred all the important phone numbers into her calendar and put the calendar in a basket on her night stand so hopefully she will know where it is when she needs it. When I finished, I took mom to the activity room where we sat and talked for a while. In a short time one of the other residents, Sherry, came in and joined us. Sherry asked me how I’ve been and if I had a good weekend…I told her my husband and I went hiking Saturday, church on Sunday, then just had a nice relaxing day at home…Mom decided she needed to share with Sherry that I also cook for our parish priests, and that I volunteer at Maggie’s Place during the week. Sherry went on and on about how nice that was until mom finally said “well she does everything for everybody else so she doesn’t have time to make a slot in her schedule for her mother”. I was shocked but kept calm and said “mom, you have the biggest slot in my schedule, I’m here with you three days a week, but I do have a husband and family to take care of, a house to run and other responsibilities to take care of too.” At this point my mother became very upset and said in a loud, clear, voice “Well, what have you ever done for me”?

I would like to say my mother’s cutting words were due only to her Parkinson’s, and perhaps some of it may be…,but the fact of the matter is my mother has always been that way with me. Everything is always all about mom and what she needs… she just never recognized that perhaps sometimes, just maybe once in a while, I may need something from her too… What hurts me even worse is that I just can’t believe after all these years, her words still cut through me like a knife…you would think by now I would just let it all roll off now wouldn’t you?

All I can say is I pray to be able to rise above the hurt feelings and not let it affect the way I treat her…please pray for me to accomplish that.

Stay Tuned!

What A Day For A Day Dream

“What a day for a day dreaming girl…” that’s the song I was singing in my head while I spent a beautiful early Saturday morning hiking with my best friend, who happens to also be my husband, Bill, aka Bro.

As we hiked the trails together,

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I found myself daydreaming that this is what our life will be like when Bill retires, hopefully within the next few years, and we will have all the time in the world to just do the things we love to do together…

So much fun to just get out in the fresh early morning air and laugh and talk as we hike. We challenge ourselves to climb higher or hike longer and we  really enjoy meeting other fellow hikers along the way. We even saw a big coyote cross our trail but he didn’t want his picture taken..

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When we get to the top of the hill or mountain we agreed to climb, we stop for a light snack, some water, and a little time to just relax.

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We take a few pictures for my blog…Bill/Bro asked me if I wanted him to capture my whole body or just a “head shot”…I laughed and told him to just make me look young and thin…Ha!

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But, eventually…what goes up…has to come back down…I just didn’t want to look down. YIKES!!

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I can’t wait for full retirement. Until then…I’ll just keep daydreaming:)

Stay Tuned!

It’s A Crying Shame

This past Friday when my daughter, Shantel, and I were on duty at Maggie’s Place where we volunteer to help with house coverage by answering the phone, taking in donations, and bonding with the new moms and their precious, newborn babies…we became aware of a “new” rule the department of economics services (DES) implemented. Among other things, DES helps low-income moms get their children into daycare while the moms are working. I thought I was dreaming when two of the moms, I call them (J) and (I) came out of their rooms crying. They both had their babies in their arms. I asked what was wrong and mom (J) told me she was being forced to take her baby to daycare right then, at 11:00 a.m. but she didn’t have to be at her part-time job until 4:00 p.m. I asked who was forcing her to take the baby to the daycare so early and she said “DES” pays for my daycare but my baby has to attend full-time, which is a ten-hour day, or they won’t pay at all…

Mom (J) was sobbing and saying she wanted to keep the baby home with her as long as she can because when she works the night shift, she doesn’t get to see her baby awake that much…she said she has questioned DES and the daycare repeatedly to see if something else could be worked out but they insist the baby must be in daycare for a full 10 hour shift or be cut off completely from the program. DES says they won’t pay for hours when the baby isn’t there so it’s all or nothing even if mom (J) has to take her child to daycare and leave her there while mom (J) is back home waiting (in this case over five hours) until it’s time for her to be on her part-time job. Some moms would love that…but not this mom. She is very dedicated to her baby and wants to spend all the time she can with her. Mom (J) said she called her father to ask what he thought she might be able to do and all he said was “I don’t mind paying taxes to help people like you, if you really need help to get up on your feet, but it pisses me off to find out I’m paying taxes for something you don’t even need all the time…” then he just hung up on her.

The other mom, (I), was crying because she has been offered a part-time job but can’t get her baby into the same daycare because there are not available spots open…she’s crying because if she can’t find daycare she won’t be able to take the part-time job she has been offered which would be working in the morning hours…and if she doesn’t have a job, she won’t be able to get permanent housing when she leaves Maggie’s Place in a few months.

I still can’t even wrap my mind around how stupid these government agencies are with the insane rules they come up with and force helpless people to comply with…wouldn’t you think a better thing to do would be for DES to purchase a block of time at any given daycare they contract with then let moms on the DES program do something like a time share on an as needed basis based on their work schedules which can be confirmed by the documentation of the hours worked…? Would that just be too simple and easy or am I missing something? As it is now, one mom has more morning daycare hours than she really needs, but another mom can’t get her baby into the same daycare in the mornings while she works her part-time job because there are no vacancies… because mom (J’s) baby is filling that vacancy while both mom (J) and mom (I) are sitting at home crying… What’s wrong with this picture???

It really was a crying shame all the way around.

P.S. In one of my previous posts, about my dealings with Social Security, one of my dear friends suggested I write a letter to the Editor of the newspaper because it might make me feel better…I took that advice and attempted to write an on-line letter using the platform they provide…well.., you are only allowed 200 words and when I realized I had gone over that limit…I tried to edit my letter but was thrown out and given a message I would need to start all over again…talk about pouring salt into an already open wound… I left that little exercise even more frustrated than I was before I started the letter of venting…:)

Stay Tuned!

And All That Jazz

Bonds of friendhsips…Don’t you just love  the time you spend with your friends? I treasure all my friendships and the time I spend with my friends no matter what we do. Sometimes we go walking, biking, shopping, out to lunch or just hang out together laughing and catching up from our last visit …”and all that jazz …”

The people I call my real friends are those I’ve developed a relationship with over time. Time taken to really get to know and understand each other…”and all that jazz”. People I’ve come to trust and know I can count on and who know they can trust and count on me….”and all that jazz” The bonds I have with my real friends, are second only to the bonds I have with my husband, Bill, who also happens to be my very best friend, and my beautiful daughter, Shantel.

I’ve always told my daughter Shantel that I believe the special bonds of real friendships need to be nurtured, just like family bonds are…Then, even when your separated by distance, you’ll  still feel connected, and loved…”and all that jazz”.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve watched my daughter, Shantel, develop a beautiful friendship with a girl her age that she met in college.

Meet Shantel’s friend, Jaz, on the right. Jaz is “all that jazz” and so much more to Shantel.

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Jaz and Shantel have developed a mutual respect for each other, are mentors to each other, and very much enjoy spending time together “and all that jazz…” They hang out together between classes at school, go to lunch together, take the bus across town when they want to visit a mall or try a new restaurant, stay up half the night working on homework together “and all that jazz…”

This past week, Jaz and Shantel were out of school on spring break and asked me if I would take them hiking. We drove to South Mountain Park and took the Kiwanis trail which was beautiful and moderately challenging for me, so naturally I was concerned it might be too difficult for Shantel and Jaz trying to climb up the rocky mountain trail together. I asked Jaz if she was comfortable being sighted guide for Shantel. Jaz never hesitated one bit when she responded “no, I’ve got this, we walk together all the time..” So I dropped back and let the two friends hike in the distance ahead of me…as I witnessed the beautiful bond of trust and friendship they have developed.

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Jaz and Shantel laughed, talked, and enjoyed the early morning hike together and the time spent deepened their bond even further “and all that jazz”…

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As I waited at the bottom of the rocky mountain trail watching Jaz and Shantel make their decent down the mountain, I was about to take one more picture of them hiking together when two ladies came up to me and told me how impressed they were with the sight of Jaz and Shantel coming down the mountain hiking trail…They asked me if they could take a picture for themselves, then offered to take a picture of Shantel, Jaz, and I together. They went on and on about how impressed they were to see the girls hiking together…I smiled to myself and thought “oh, it’s no big deal…it’s just all that Jaz…”!

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Stay Tuned!

Pure Joy And Sheer Heartache

Those are the words that best describe my time at Maggie’s Place.

My daughter, Shantel, and I volunteer at Maggie’s Place every Friday morning. Maggie’s Place is a home of hospitality for pregnant women over eighteen, and their babies, until their babies are six months old. While there, the women receive food, housing, cloths etc. for themselves and their babies after they are born. And, they are provided resources to help them find permanent housing, jobs, daycare etc. so they can provide for themselves and their child after they leave Maggie’s Place.

Some of the women come to Maggie’s Place right off the streets, homeless, desperate, and very frightened about their future. Some are recovering addicts, some have other children who have been taken away from them, but they are all trying to put their lives back together and get back on the right path in life…

Today, one of the moms, I’ll call her (K) received a phone call offering her a job. Great news, but with a real challenge ahead. (K) doesn’t have a car so she will need to take her five and a half month old beautiful baby girl on the bus every morning to the daycare, then take another bus across town to get to her new job. (K) only has two weeks left at Maggie’s Place, and she still hasn’t received confirmation of acceptance into the halfway housing she applied for months ago. If she doesn’t get accepted into the halfway housing within the next two weeks, she will have to leave Maggie’s Place with nowhere to go with her precious baby girl. I can’t even imagine how frightening that would be.

Another mom, I’ll call her (I) is trying to recover from her meth addiction. She has a precious baby boy just three months old. (I) came from Greece, with a man she married when she was seventeen because he provided a way out for her as she was fleeing an abusive home where she lived with an alcoholic/drug addicted mother. (I) was married to her husband for eight years before she got pregnant with their first child. She told me they had a home and a good life until her husband just up and left her when she was eight months pregnant for another women. She was devastated to say the least. Desperate and literally on the streets…she turned to Maggie’s Place for help and she says it was a miracle that they just happened to have one opening on the morning she called. (I) goes to a meth clinic every morning where she is trying to get the help she needs to get into and stay in recovery. She has no job, no family here in the states, and is almost in a panic about having her baby taken away from her if she can’t find a job and permanent housing within the next three months when her time at Maggie’s Place will be up.

As I hold, rock, and fall in love with the precious babies of these mother’s, and listen to the life stories the mother’s share with me, my heart is torn between the pure joy I feel knowing I’m playing a small part in helping them while they are at Maggie’s Place, and the absolute sheer heartache I feel as I too worry about what will become of them once they leave Maggie’s Place…God help me…I want to bring them all home to stay with me until they have jobs, permanent housing, and a way to provide for themselves and their precious, innocent, babies…how can I not want to do more…?

Stay Tuned!

Just Let It Go

That was my mantra chant at the Social Security Office Monday.

You might remember I mentioned in a previous post that I lost my social security card, called the main social security office and was told I could go to any local social security office, show my state issued photo Id and I would be entered into the social security system and granted a replacement card that would arrive through the mail within two weeks…However, when I arrived at my local social security office, stood in line for forty-five minutes just to get in the door, sat for another twenty-five minutes before I was called to the back room, granted a brief audience with the not so nice lady who very quickly escorted me right back out of the social security office with the instructions to “read the sign”, that I missed on the way into the office, but that very clearly states “we do NOT do card replacement requests here…you must go to either the office in Central Phoenix or North Phoenix…” Not a good experience with my local government office at all…

Fast forward to Monday…my daughter Shantel and I arrive at the Central Phoenix Social Security Office at 8:15 and see a small line in front of a door with a sign above it that read “Social Security Court Services” and another sign that read “Social Security Services with an arrow pointing to a much longer line forming on the other side of the building…now I know for sure I don’t need the court services ,so naturally I decided I needed to get in the longer line which we did. We stood in that long line for forty minutes when finally, a security officer came out and asked if anyone in our line was there for a replacement card or to make a name change….I put my hand up along with several other people who were promptly told we need to be on the other side of the building where card services is located…Are you kidding me…? We all quickly ran over to the other side of the building where we saw the small line in front of the sign that read court services in very large letters…and notice a much, much smaller sign that read card services…but now, that small line is wrapped around the building and overflowing into the parking lot…no fricking way I’m thinking to myself…but, I stay calm and start to chant to myself “just let it go…, just let it go…”

After thirty-five minutes in this new line, Shantel and I are finally admitted into the building and directed to the second floor where I was given my number and told to take a seat which we did and waited another fifty minutes before I was called to window eighteen. Once we were seated in front of the woman at window eighteen she asked to see my state issued photo Id and I handed her my driver’s licence. Then she asked me to confirm my address and my mother’s maiden name and made me swear under penalty of jail if I lied that everything I said was true and I am who I say I am…I did, she approved my replacement card and we were on our way.

We, and everyone else in that room, were only in front of the people at window 1-18 for all of five minutes. I, and I’m sure many others, spent two days and endless hours of frustration,  miles and miles of driving, many dollars worth of gas, not to mention the  traffic we added on the streets and pollution added to the air just to take a state issued photo Id (which we all know can not be obtained illegally if anyone wanted to get one…) to one of two specific locations and show it to someone behind a window to approve we are really who we say we are…what a mess that system is for one and all…!

I, being the manager of the universe I think I have to be sometimes…did make a suggestion upon my departure from window eighteen…that perhaps someone could make the suggestion of dedicating two windows, within every Social Security Office, throughout the state, for replacement cards and name changes, instead of making everyone go to one of only two locations…now is it just me, or does that sound like a plan that just might actually work and make everyone’s life a lot easier when dealing with our Social Security System…? Or, should I “just let it go…”

Stay Tuned!

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