Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Collective Sorrow of Suicide

It started out as a normal Tuesday morning with the usual madness - getting kiddos dressed, fed and out the door to buses, schools and daycare.  Everything moved along according to plan - except the bus - it was late.  And not 5 minutes late but a good 10 - and I was starting to get frustrated.  I needed to get the littlest to daycare and my work day into full swing - but we were stuck waiting for the bus.  Finally - a small white car drove up, someone spoke quickly to the parents on the corner, and everyone starting moving towards the other end of the street.  One of the Dad's came up to me and said there was a crime scene at the park (just a block or so away from our house) and the buses couldn't get through.

"Suicide" he said, shaking his head and walking away.

Suicide.  What a weighted word.  At first, I was sad.  Then, a little curious.  Where was the body and where did it happen?  I quickly backed out of the driveway and headed off for daycare - taking our normal route. When I got to the park there was yellow tape everywhere, and police cars, and all sorts of people milling about looking sad, frustrated, defeated.

"Can I get through this way?" I asked the officer closest to my car.  He directed me around a bend and towards another exit from our little neighborhood.  While I was driving I turned to look at the park - and in that moment I saw them moving the body - most certainly that of a grown man based on the size of his shoulders in the bright blue t-shirt.  I shook my head, sad for that family - what if he had kids? and wondered again what brings a person so low in life that their only solution is to end it?

My heart was heavy for the rest of the day.  As time went on, more and more information was released. Suddenly, it wasn't a man - as I had suspected - but a child.  A boy.  A brand new gut wrenching grief hit me - a boy - a baby?  I was struck dumb and silent - unable to really process what I was hearing.  A 14 year old boy who thought the only answer to his pain was death?  My heart hurt and my head was spinning but I knew, in the bigger scheme of things, that this was not my concern.  It wasn't my child.  It wasn't my family. That wasn't my baby.

But I was wrong.  All day and night I kept coming back to that scene - where I watched the paramedics move the dead, lifeless body - and no matter how hard I tried I just couldn't escape that moment.  The next day, it was back to normal and I headed about my routine - doing the same things I do every day.  Except, when I drove by the park and the crime scene - I couldn't look away.  I felt an almost uncontrollable urge to stop.  See what this young man had seen just moments before he ended his life.  But I drove on - as there were schedules to keep, appointments to attend, and work to fill my day.

Coming back - I saw a women.  I had never seen her before, but I KNEW she was the Mom.  She was walking down the sidewalk - wrapped in a blanket - looking completely lost with tears streaming down her face.  I had to stop.  I knew - in that moment - this was why I had felt so connected - so unable to look away from this experience. I NEEDED to stop and talk to this women.  I NEEDED, above all else, to hug her and dry her tears and maybe - for a moment - let her know that I felt her pain, her sorrow, her tragedy.

I pulled my car over and got out.  She stood on the sidewalk - looking confused, broken and utterly exhausted.

"Are you okay?  Can I help you?" I asked, and she looked at me, and wearily smiled.

"Can I give you a hug?" I asked - and I know it sounds so weird - but at that moment it felt so right.  I hugged her and she cried, and cried - and then we stood and talked.  She told me about her son, and the night he disappeared, and how they had searched and searched the neighborhood looking for him - but just couldn't find him.  And how she still had to go home - and get her other kids ready for school - while he was missing. Then she got quiet, and looked away, and said,

"They wouldn't let me see his body.  They found him, but they wouldn't let me see him.  How could he have been there, that whole time, and we missed him?"

The pain in her voice cut through me.  I cried with her - and we stood there a bit longer and I just listened while she talked, alternating between happy memories, and sad times, and the unending grief of wondering what she missed, or did wrong, that would drive her beautiful child to this.  After about 40 minutes, I drove her home.  She invited me in to meet her family - but I knew it was time for me to go.

I'm not a particularly religious person - and I don't necessarily believe in a God that directs and sees all - but in that moment - I knew this was part of something bigger than myself.  It was about humanity, empathy, the connection that runs between all of us - and a sad, confused, heart broken Mom that will forever wonder until the end of her days what she could have done differently.   I hope - that for those few moments - I helped her.  I hope - in that time - that she was able to talk and say what was on her heart - knowing that I was there to listen and hear her - not just her words but her thoughts, fears, regrets and loss - the hard part of life that rips you apart and tears at your soul.

That evening, when I got home, I sat down with Hayden.  I looked into his perfect face, his beautiful eyes - and had to turn my head away.

"Do you know what suicide is?" I asked him.

"Yes" he said, eyes downcast, "it's when you kill yourself."

I turned then and looked at him - only 10 years old and full of life - and told him all the reasons why suicide is never the answer.  I made him promise me - many times over - that if he ever was in a place where he felt that was the only solution - he would come to me.  That we would do our best to make it better.

In that moment he looked at me and said - as clear as crystal and so full of heart - "Mom - I would never kill myself.  I have dreams."

OMG.  My baby, my love - my first born, open hearted, sweet child - captured it all in that moment. Dreams keep us alive - keep us moving forward - and feed our hearts and souls.  A life without a dream is not a life worth living.

I didn't know the other boy's story - I had never met him before - but this whole experience made me realize that life is so fragile, so fleeting, and so full of heartache yet, within all that,  filled with promise and possibility. I'm confident that boy had dreams...and I am so very saddened to think that something or someone crushed him so deeply that his life no longer held promise and his dreams stopped mattering.

Everyday is a gift.  Every moment we have with our loved ones is an opportunity to do good - bring joy - share love and happiness.  With the collective sorrow of suicide hanging heavy over my neighborhood, our schools and our children - I can only hope that something positive can come out of this terrible moment.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Where has the year gone? 2013 Wrap Up!


I can't believe the last time I added to this blog was May 2013.

Several  years ago when I started Positively Mom Street I made a promise to myself to write everyday. Everyday soon turned into once a week, then once a month - and now here we are - barely checking in handful of times a year!

Ahh...I guess life happens.  The saddest part for me is this is a record of my family - one not ravaged by time and my ever flaky memory.  First resolution for 2014 - make more of an effort to capture the days before it's too late.

So - that out of the way - it was quite a year!  I started a new job, left said new job, and started another new job.  I am happy to report this one looks like a keeper!! :-)  Constantly acquiring and departing employment is exhausting.  However, despite the ups and downs I've tried hard to find the value in my experiences.  My biggest take-away from "Job Hunt 2013" is - listen to your gut.  While I did not want to admit it, I knew early on (by March 2013) that the role I accepted in January was NOT a good fit for me.  But I was afraid to start over, afraid of failure, of judgement, of trying AGAIN only to fail AGAIN.  Overall - I was just scared.

Sometimes fear is so powerful it can paralyze.  I spent the last 6 weeks of that job trying to convince myself I could make it through.  Maybe it wasn't THAT bad.  However, when I started waking up every morning with intense stomach pains I knew something had to give.  When I was told that in order to "meet expectation" I needed to start traveling a minimum of one week out of each month - my fear gave way to straight up anger and resentment.  It was time to move on.  So, I did.  I gathered up my courage, walked into HR and said what I needed to say.  Then I left and have not looked back.   It was terrifying and liberating and the most intense thing I have ever done.  I feel like I came full circle in just a few short months but in a good way.  I regained my confidence and put myself on a path to happiness.  And it worked. :-)  I was super lucky to find a new job in less than one month and it's a much better fit.  I love my new work, I am challenged but not overburdened and feel like I am finally in the right place.

So...that's all for now.  I plan to write another blog or two in the next week to go over all the amazing things that my kiddos did this year - and not to brag - but they were pretty incredible for a 4 and 9 year old. Mommy pride aside - my kids are fantastic.

Until then...



Friday, May 17, 2013

It's Okay to Look Away...

"If you don't watch your children all the time you'll miss something."

"Turn off your phone and tune into your child."

"Every moment is precious - don't waste a single minute of parenthood."

Lately there has been a rash of articles condemning parents for talking on their phone or surfing the web instead of "watching" their child. I don't know about you - but I'm kinda over this whole sentiment. 

I'm here to say it's okay if you look away.

'Cause do you really SEE what is in front of you all the time?  I know I don't.

In fact, when I try to be that "perfect" parent - you know - the one that is at the park and fully engaged with their kids - running, laughing, watching every little step - it's kind of an act.   I'm not REALLY into playing the 20th round of hide and seek - I'm just going through the motions.  Sure, the first couple of times were great fun - everyone laughed - we bonded - it was all good.  But after about 15 minutes - my eyes start to glaze and my mind totally wanders.  On the outside - I am SO the engaged parent making the most of  every single minute with my kids.  On the inside - different story.  I'm wondering about dinner, work, Facebook - ya know - the stuff that runs through EVERYONE'S mind.  The minutiae of life.

For example, the other day I was at soccer practice for Harlyn.  Prior to the start of practice, Hayden likes to kick around the soccer ball with his Dad and I.  We had a great time while Harlyn was warming up.  Kick, pass, laugh - it's all good fun.  Then they (the boys) had to leave and I was left behind to "watch" practice.  I immediately grabbed my phone, sat down and started to go through emails, check messages, etc.  After about 10 minutes I looked up to see Harlyn running down the field.  In that instant - I REALLY saw her.

She is perfect. :-)

Her legs are strong and straight - her hair this cute mess of blonde strands forever hanging in her eyes - and her little face was just shining as she ran after the ball.

THIS is my baby - my pride - my love - my little girl.

In that moment I had an appreciation for her that would not have had if I was always watching. At some point when you look and look and look you stop seeing what is right in front of you.  

No - I'm not a perfect parent.  Yes - I look at my phone, read my book and feed my own interests occasionally.  However, when I look up and take notice - I really SEE - and those moments are magic.
And magic doesn't happen every minute of every matter how much you watch and wait.

Perfectly crazy... :-)



Monday, November 5, 2012

The Halloween Costume - Part 3 - The End Result

So - I did it.

My Lego Mini-Figure Man!

I wish I could feel more excitement but I'm just so thankful that the whole silly project is finally over.

I am not crafty.  Not in the slightest.  However, I am fairly stubborn which worked in my favor when it came to completing this costume.

My procrastination started me off on the wrong foot - hello - who hordes boxes in the corner of their kitchen for a month - but ultimately my stubborn desire to finish this thing won out in the end.

There were late nights - early mornings - and wasted afternoons.  Craft paint in yellow, orange and watered down version of black.  Who knew that craft paint goes bad?  I certainly didn't - and when I opened the bottle of black (which sat in my closet for 6 years) it plopped out in weird, gross clumps.


That was all I could think - both literally and figuratively.  It was the day before Halloween (okay - the night before Halloween) and there was no way I was haulin' bootie to Michael's for more.  I had to make it work.  So 5 coats later we had success - kinda.

Black courtesy of Sharpie!

Come to find out - Hayden hated the costume.  Go figure, right?  He actually cried (real, full crocodile tears) when I told him it was ready for him.  He said he'd look stupid.  He couldn't reach his hands around the box to hold his candy bucket.  He was horribly off balance.

I was pissed.  Real, hard core angry.  I totally did something I thought I would NEVER do as a parent.  I guilt tripped his little butt.

"What?  You don't want to wear this costume?  Are you kidding me?  I spent the last week and a half working on it."

Hayden, through tears, didn't seem swayed.

"Everyone will think I'm a nerd."


I know I should have been a better Mom.  I know I should have talked to him calmly - had him explain what he didn't like about the costume - see if we could figure out a way to make it better for him.  Instead, I looked him in the eye and said fine.

Not the fine you say when things are REALLY fine - but the fine that really means NOT FINE AT ALL.

He knew.  He started to back peddle like crazy.

"It's fine.  I'll wear it.  It will be okay."

I wasn't having any part of it.  I remained firm in my "angry mom" stance.  I told him he could go without a costume tonight and explain to everyone that asked why he wasn't wearing one.  I called my Mom, in New York, and told her that Hayden hated his costume and refused to wear it.  That he didn't appreciate all my hard efforts.  That I finally understood why parents think their children are ungrateful.

It's because they are.

In the end - he is just a child - and I needed to remember that and put it into perspective.  Maybe the costume WAS over the top.  It was big, and bulky, and hard for him to move around it.  But I was attached, dammit!  I'd put hours of time into that bugger and, if I do say so myself, it turned out alright.  

So - despite the tears and silent treatment - the night went on.  He wore the costume and EVERYONE loved it.  He got lots of compliments and even more candy.  It was a good night.

My cute kiddos!
I doubt I will attempt a home made costume again.  However, thanks to the Internet and this blog - I'll always have photo-proof of my attempt at costume craftiness.  Someday - when Hayden is older - he'll see this blog and hopefully remember the costume fondly - finally realizing all that went into making it a reality.

I can hope. :-)



Friday, October 19, 2012

The Halloween Costume - Part 2 - The Panic

Yep - I'm starting to panic.  Just a tad.  I'm not waking up in a cold sweat quite yet but my fear is pretty tangible.

I have boxes.  Lots of boxes.  I have paint - brushes - some weird Styrofoam circle thing - but I am afraid to start putting it all together.

What's it gonna be????  Maybe it will remain in its natural box state
Hayden was ready to go on Saturday! "Hey Mom - let's start my costume!"

I, unfortunately, have a bad case of crafty paralysis.  I can't bring myself to start because I am terrified I will do it wrong - it will look bad - and I will be a failure.

The boxes and paint brushes are mocking me!

Can't handle that pressure right now so I'm going to leave the boxes where they live - in the corner of my kitchen - and pretend that Halloween is not happening.  We'll see where that gets me. :-)

In the meantime, enjoy this picture of Harlyn in her "hiking outfit." It is distraction in its purest, cutest form.

This is not the costume you were hoping to see!
12 days and counting...



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Halloween Costume...Part 1...the Commitment

Ok - so this year, since I'm playing SAHM - I thought I'd get creative and MAKE a costume for Hayden.

Now - all of you that know me are laughing and shaking your heads - mentally making a bet on how long it will be before I quit, cave and run to Target to purchase the nearest suitable costume for my little man.

I am here - on the world wide web - to declare that I WILL NOT QUIT!!!

Terrified but determined!

I am dedicated and WILL make a costume for Hayden.  It WILL be awesome - he WILL love it - and everyone WILL bow their heads in awe at how great and amazing our home made crafty costume turned out.

So it is written - and promoted - and now I have to follow through or face the embarrassment of failure in front of all my family, friends and the greater gods of the Internet.

Stay tuned, my friends, as I whip my creative juices into a frenzy of costume making glory.

Do not hate - do not be jealous - just wait, watch and be ready to gasp (I hope in amazement, not terror) at our final product.

Pictures to follow....

Dah da da da daaaaaah....



Friday, September 14, 2012

Doggie Doo-Doo Fun

Baby girl just ran over - super duper excited - about this game.

I'm not kidding - she was giddy with joy - alternately hugging the iPad and yelling "Dog Poop!  Dog Poop!" while running back and forth from the couch to my computer.

Really now?  Are the toy makers that desperate?  How did that conversation go?

"Anyone have ideas for a fresh new kids game?"
"C'mon people - there must be at least one unique idea out there.  Use your heads.  Tom, what do you think?"
"Shit, I don't know."
"Shit?  Shit! Yes - that is unique!  I don't think there are ANY other toys on the market that deal with shit. This is brilliant."

And a game about dog poop was born.  :-(

Perhaps hubby was right when he characterized our  Harlyn as a "Tomboy Princess" - for a little girl that wants everything pink and sparkly she sure seemed over the top for some Play-Dough poop.  She made me promise I would "go to the store and buy this right away."


We have a real dog, ya know?  And this one poops FOR REALSY - like at least 2 times a day - in our backyard.  Yet the idea of picking up her poop is somehow "gross" and "nasty" - but I should shell out $19.95 for the privilege of letting her play pretend Pooper Scooper with a plastic, flatulent wiener dog.   

Don't worry Bella - we know you're the real deal!

I think I'm going to pass - and if any of the family reading this thinks it would be HI-LAR-I-OUS to buy this for the kids for Christmas - just remember - I know where you live!