Tag Archives: mother

I’m a Vigilante. And Here’s Why.

“Sometimes justice is better served by those who have experienced the pain.”
― Mark W. Boyer

October 1. We all remember it, and will for years to come. The day that a lone madman decided to rain down bullets on an unsuspecting crowd of country music fans at a concert in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more. Our hearts broke for our brothers and sisters as we could only imagine what they must have been going through.

And then, as some idiots among us never fail to do these days, some decided to turn this horrid, random incident into a political one. No, not just to discuss gun rights (which is a worthy discussion that needs to be had) – but to place the blame on one “side” or the other.

Cue a local preacher rant.

I live in a small, highly conservative town in North Carolina and one man – a man of “God” – decided to post on Facebook about what happened. He posted a news link to the shooting and used the following words as his caption:

“Welcome to multiculturalism. Thank you Democrats, the media, and liberal education.”

Okay, let me give you a minute to let that sink in.

Take all the time you need.

Yes, my friends, you read that right. This PREACHER – a man of “God,” – decided to place the blame for this lone, white, unaffiliated, non-religious madman’s actions on multiculturalism (different races and religions living amongst one another), democrats (you know – most of whom want to tighten gun safety laws), the media (because um…yeah…I got nothing), and liberal education (whatever the hell he wants to claim that is – acceptance of LGBTQ? Beats me.)

So, needless to say…this pissed me right the hell off.

I screenshotted this atrocity and shared it on social media. I posted it to the church’s website (to no avail because it didn’t seem to bother them).  I contacted the preacher directly who told me, and I quote, that this was “none of my business” and that he would not “stand by and watch liberals destroy his county.”

*Ahhem.*

And then, as some would enjoy telling me over the next few weeks, I became a “vigilante.” I continued to post about it – to remind people of who this man was and what he was teaching his congregation. I continued to post on the church’s website, even though they continued to delete my posts. I even thought about posting a sign on their church to show them who their preacher was. (I decided against that one because it was blatantly obvious that the powers that be didn’t care who he was – they apparently agree with him. Or at least they don’t disagree with him enough to do anything about it.)

Eventually, I was told even by people who agree with my stance on this that “vigilante justice” was not the way to go.

Now, before we go any further, I have to just go ahead and admit that I’ve never been one to listen to anyone else when they try to tell me what to do. Whether they’re on my “side” or not, and whether they’re even “right” or not. Is it healthy for me to continue to feel this anger towards this preacher? Maybe not. Is it productive? Maybe not.

But am I going to stop? Nope. And here’s why.

You know what “vigilante justice” is? I looked it up. While it’s often accompanied by ‘destruction’ (I haven’t torn anything up…yet…) it’s basically just simply taking “justice” into your own hands….whatever that justice may be. It’s also defined as being rationalized by: “the concept that proper legal forms of criminal punishment are either nonexistent, insufficient, or inefficient.”

Okay. I can dig it.

So, basically, what everyone is saying is that since there is no “law” against what this man has done – then I’m taking the nonexistent law into my own hands and seeking some other form of “punishment.” Some other rectification.

Well, hell yeah!

That’s exactly what I’m doing.

This man is leading a congregation. He is shaping minds. Some minds are already formed and agree with what he has to say, but the ones I’m concerned with are the ones that aren’t shaped yet. The young minds. The children.

Let me tell you my story.

I have two children. I have a 19-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter. For a large part of their childhood, I was a single mom. I was tough and I did what had to be done, but I’ll admit it: I was lonely. I was lost. I had a very religious grandmother who had a large hand in my raising who had instilled in me that it would be wrong of me not to raise my children up in a church. So, for the most part, I did just that. Now, granted, I skipped around to different churches and never really found one that suited me or my beliefs so I didn’t stay in any for very long. But I did go. And I drug my kids along with me.

My daughter? Let’s just say the church thing never really stuck with her. She has always been wise beyond her years and was always a ‘questioner.’ She was a bit like her mom – just didn’t quite “fit it” anywhere. I’m not saying she doesn’t believe in a higher power – that’s between her and her god if she chooses to believe in one. I’m just saying that she was always a questioner of the “rules,” – especially the ones that didn’t make any sense.

But my son? Now that was another story. I honestly thought (and still do sometimes) that he’d end up becoming a preacher. He has such a deep sense of belief and a black and white sense of “right” and “wrong” that leaves no room whatsoever for questioning. He knows what “is” and “isn’t” and that’s just all there is to it. Period.

So here I have two very different children, now almost grown adults.  One who’d end up leaning towards the conservative, Christian way of life, and the other who’d lean toward the progressive, open-minded way of life. One strict rule follower and one champion of the underdog. Very different people, to put it mildly.

And then…bam. A few years ago, my daughter announces that she’s gay.

Suddenly, momma has to put her money where her mouth is. I’d spent my life running from this religious teaching that being gay was a “sin” because I just didn’t believe it. And now, I had the chance to look all that indoctrination right in the face and decide, once and for all, what I was going to do with those heaps of spoon-fed “knowledge” I’d been given all my life.  What did I choose?

To hell with it.

This was a turning point for me. No longer would I drag my children into a place that was going to tell one of them that she was “dirty.” No longer was I going to open up a dusty old book written by men a couple thousand years ago and that told me that my child was going to burn in hell. Screw that noise.

I’m out.

But that posed a problem. I still had a son.

As of this writing, I have not seen my son in a month. We have not spoken – in person or by text – in over two weeks. He has decided (after a multitude of disagreements – not just his sister’s sexuality) to “cut ties with his liberal family.”

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I don’t care. Because I do. When I allow myself to think about it, I can’t stop the tears. But here’s the thing. I’ve spent my entire life overcoming men who have told me who and what to be and think. It has taken me years to discover who I really am and to teach my children to be who they really are. Am I going to undo all of that so my son will love me?

I can’t.

I just can’t.

So, why am I so angry at this preacher?  Why can I not leave well enough alone and let it go?

Because I’m angry at myself. I want to prevent other mothers from making the same mistake I did. I want the scared, lonely single mothers of the world who are looking for a place of refuge to know that places like the one where that man spouts off his vile hatred have the capacity to turn your children against you. I want to give them the knowledge that I didn’t have. I want to stop them from leading their child by the hand into a place that tells them that their cult-like beliefs are worth more than their own family.

I want to stop them from doing what I did.

Vigilante justice, huh? When you have a personal connection to something, you are more passionate about it. I am a Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor. When I hear of a fundraiser to raise money to help fight this disease, I’m more apt to donate to it because of my personal history with the disease. Am a “vigilante” against lymphoma? Sure. There’s no “law” against lymphoma, but you can bet your tushy that I’m going to fight it when and how I can, even if it’s just with a small donation when I can afford it.

The same goes for bigotry.

If you’re an individual who believes in everything the Bible says – if you believe that homosexuals are going to hell and “liberals” are evil – then here’s the thing: I’m just not going to like you. That’s all there is to it.  I don’t think you’re a good person and I don’t want to be your friend. Sure, you’re allowed to be who you are. Go ahead. But I don’t want to be around you and I don’t want you to be around my children. However, my children aren’t children anymore.  They are grown and they can make their own choices. My son can make his own choices and he might very well chose to have people like you as his best friend. And he can choose to shut out the people like myself and his sister.

But would he have made these choices if I hadn’t exposed him to this line of thinking?

I don’t owe anyone an explanation. But here it is nonetheless. I just can’t stand down. I can’t watch this man slowly inch his way in between more mothers and sons of the world. I can’t watch him welcome more innocent minds into his cult and not at least warn them about it before they step into his fold.

I just can’t.

Call me a vigilante if you must. But I want to stop this from happening anymore than it has to.  If I prevent just one child from being indoctrinated into that madness, then I will have done what I set out to do.

I miss my son.  And this is all I know to do.

***

Silly Kid Quotes #12

“Children are remarkable for their intelligence and ardour, for their curiosity, their intolerance of shames, the clarity and ruthlessness of their vision.”
– Aldous Huxley

Funny kiddo time again.

This is a precious brother/sister moment from my son’s exploratory surgery last year. Gets ya right in the feels, man.

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Controversy

“I’m not an activist; I don’t look for controversy. I’m not a political person, I’m a person with compassion. I care passionately about equal rights. I care about human rights.”
– Ellen DeGeneres

So, here’s an idea. I know it might sound crazy, but hear me out.

So you’re sitting there and this crazy controversial issue pops across your radar.  Let’s say it’s…oh, I don’t know…Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner’s gender transition. (Hypothetically speaking, of course.) And let’s say that your uber-Christian beliefs tell you that Bruce (not Caitlyn – because you refuse to call HIM Caitlyn) is going straight to hell as fast as the little fire-breathing demon chauffeurs can get him there. And let’s say that you think, “Hey! You know what?! I think the whole world needs to know that Bruce is going to hell” and so you decide the next logical step is to post something about that on Facebook. And let’s say you lean back, prop your crossed-legs up on your desk, place your self-righteous hands behind your self-righteous head and wait, with a “God loves only me” smile, for the ever-supportive comments and likes to roll in like the waves at high tide.

ConflictBut then…wait.  What is this?  Oh no!  You drop your feet back to the floor, sit forward and stare at your computer screen in utter disbelief.  Right there, in the midst of the support you receive from your like-minded friends, suddenly a comment pops up that….*gasp!*….goes against your opinion.  Whaaaaat?  Oh yes, ’tis true. There it is. Right in the middle of the self-righteous (have I used that word already?) rants from you and your cronies, there is a comment that has the audacity to imply that you might just be wrong in your stance. A comment that suggests that CAITLYN Jenner is, in fact, not going to hell and that God actually loves HER just as much as He loves you.

Whoa, nelly!

So, what do you do? You pout. You and your friends gang up on the commenter and tell her how wrong she is and how “rude” she’s being by going against what you have to say.  About how she and anyone who agrees with her are on the wrong path and had better turn from sin and see the light. And then…in a display of utmost maturity…you DELETE said comment so that your post remains nice and one-sided like the good Lord intended.

There. That solves that.

But wait….along come other comments that go against your beliefs. What?!  There are more heathens out there!? “Delete!” Pretty soon, after tedious editing on your part, your post sits there just as you like it, with only the supportive comments accompanying it.  Shew!  That was a close one.

Oh, but wait.  You’re not done just yet. Since you know the initial commenter’s mother, you decide you had better tell her what her teenage child did. You proceed to send the mother…let’s hypothetically name her…oh, I don’t know…”Melissa”… a private conversation you had with her daughter (where you contacted her to tell her how rude she was being by disagreeing with you) and then sit back to wait for the mother’s wrath to ensue upon the kid.

But uh oh. This didn’t quite turn out like you thought it would.

Momma Melissa doesn’t quite agree with you.  In fact, Momma Melissa is actually PROUD of her daughter. Can you believe that crap? What kind of mother actually encourages her child to stand up for what she believes in and to speak out against something she feels is an injustice? The NERVE! What kind of mother has raised her children to believe that just because someone is different from you, that doesn’t make them wrong? What kind of mother would not only not punish her child for voicing her opinion, but would actually congratulate her for doing so?!

What is the world coming to?

But no worries. At least you’re not the one going to hell, right? Those poor lost souls….

So, back to my point. That crazy idea I had, remember? How about this? How about you not post controversial things unless you want a controversial response? Hmmm? How about that? How about you realize that Facebook is a public forum and, as shocking as it may be to you, there are actually people out there who think differently from you! I know, sweetie. It’s insane, it really is. But alas, ’tis true. Some people out there don’t sit at their computer pushing the little “share” button on articles knowing that they sit at the right-hand of God and that they alone are his chosen one. Seriously. Some people out there feel that we’re all created equal and that, if there is a God up there looking down on us, he wants us to love each other and save the judgment for him to take care of and decide for himself what he deems judgment-worthy.

I know, it’s weird, isn’t it?  But darling, these people do exist. Sad as it may be to you…they exist.

And those Momma Melissas of the world?  Sheesh. Look out, lady. You try to tell them that their kid has done something wrong, when they know good and well that they haven’t…well, be prepared to hear about it.

In fact, the really crazy Momma Melissas out there?  Ha!  They might even have a blog and might write about it and call you out in it.  Crazy, right?

People these days, man.  I tell ya….

***

“Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ‘crackpot’ than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.”
– Chauncey Depew

Silly Kid Quotes: Lauren

“My children are the reason I laugh, smile, and want to get up every morning”
– Gena Lee Nolin
This week’s installment in the Silly Kid Quotes series comes from a time a few years back when my then 11-year-old step-daughter Lauren was reading my childhood diary….

 

sillykidquotes2

Motherpluckers

“Yes, Mother. I can see you are flawed. You have not hidden it. That is your greatest gift to me.”
– Alice Walker

This post is a short ode to the motherpluckers of the world.

I salute you.

photo You know who I’m talking about, right?  Motherpluckers.

The women (particularly moms) who still find the time to pluck their eyebrows and stuff like that during their uber-busy lives. (Wait…what did you think I was saying?  That’s the name for them, right? Motherpluckers?  Well, sheesh, what do you call them?  Anyway….)

Let me just say that you chicks amaze me. I don’t even have small children anymore, but Richard and I have three teenagers and one pre-teen between us and let me tell you – getting myself ready to go anywhere falls LAST on the priority list. By the time everyone is up, fed, bathed, and clothed, I’m usually standing in a towel with dripping hair while the rest of the family is wondering why I’m not ready to leave.

If I manage to get out of the house with pants on, I’m doing good.

How do you ladies do it?  How do you have the manicures and the highlighted hair and the perfect makeup?  TEACH ME, OH WISE ONES!

Eh, I guess I’ve made it this far with my bushy eyebrows and frizzy hair, so I suppose I’ll be alright. But still – it’s hard not to look at you guys with the adoration that my teenage daughter reserves for boy bands. I’m in awe. Mesmerized. Obsessed.

Jealous.

But, I’m guessing those same women may look at me and wonder how I find the time to run, don’t they? I’m sure they wonder how I squeeze that into the day – and sometimes I wonder that myself.

busy_moms_prayer_postcard-r4f6031192de84898be9b22dcb21a3867_vgbaq_8byvr_500I guess all of we moms wish we had more time for the things we can’t seem to fit into our busy lives, don’t we?  I suppose I should just look at it like this: If we’re all finding time to do at least something just for us – whether it be running, plucking, reading, or whatever else makes us feel better about ourselves – then I’d say we’re probably doing alright.

“Get busy living, or get busy dying.” as my buddy Stephen King says. As long as we’re living, we’re not dead. If I manage to leave my house with two daughters with French-braided hair and two sons with their bellies full, then I guess my bushy eyebrows are a small price to pay.

Hey, at least I’m wearing pants.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have things to do… 😉

***

“The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.” – Jessica Lange

Comments

Dear Commenters:

If some of you are wondering why your comments on my last blog are still saying that are “awaiting moderation,” I would like to explain what and why that is.

What this means is that I, as the blog site operator, can “moderate” what comments are allowed and which ones aren’t. And why are you receiving this message?  Here’s why.

I’m sick of it.

I truly am. I am sick of the bashing of a CHILD.

Now, I allowed many comments to go through that are against what I’m saying. That is fine…this is a highly controversial issue and I understand that many will not agree with me. You are welcome to your opinions, just as I am welcome to mine. Childhood sports is apparently a hot topic – a much hotter topic than I myself even realized. This blog has blown up. Am I sorry for that? Absolutely not. It’s a topic that needed to be discussed. Too many people sweep things under the rug and hope it goes away. I am not one of those people.

However, the comments from the people who actually know the parties involved – those are the ones that are really upsetting me. Why is that? Because they mention my son specifically. And the knowledge they have (or think they have) is only knowledge that would come within the school. Meaning: these are comments from faculty and staff of the high school.  Comments that are BASHING a student.

I have a message for you. I know you used “fake names” and “anonymous” for most of your messages.  But there’s this wee little thing about the WordPress site that you might not be aware of.  When I receive an anonymous message, I also receive this:

comment

To temporarily protect whichever staff member this one happened to be, I have blackened out your info. But I have it. I have your email address.  Oh, and in case it’s a fake email address, I also have your computer IP address.  Don’t know what that is?  It’s a little number that will track your message right back to your computer. YOUR computer.

And you know what else I have?  Techie friends. They’re pretty handy…you should get some of those.

I feel certain that the Board of Education for the State of Virginia would be thrilled to know what kind of staff members it has working at Grayson County High School. I’m sure they’d love to know that the staff is calling attention to one child’s past, and threatening to list the info (some true, some not) on a public, social forum.

And I can’t wait to tell them.

For those of you who have already commented – consider yourself informed.  For those who want to comment in the future in the same manner – heed my warning.

I’m sick of it.

But thank you for reminding me why this needs to be done. The corruption in this school is sickening.

***

“The fight for justice against corruption is never easy. It never has been and never will be. It exacts a toll on our self, our families, our friends, and especially our children. In the end, I believe, as in my case, the price we pay is well worth holding on to our dignity.”
– Frank Serpico

Open Letter to the Grayson County School Board

“I don’t care what kind of pressure to win that you face from the administration. If winning is your primary goal as a coach you have significantly lost your way and as a consequence, you’ll actually win less.”
Alan Goldberg, PhD

[Before reading and commenting on this, please see announcement here. If you have already commented and your comment is not showing up, you may want to take a little gander as well.]

Dear Superintendent:

Although you have already been made aware by telephone of this recent situation at the high school, I wanted to proceed with providing something in writing for the files.  I am copying all parties involved.

Last week, after a boys’ varsity basketball game (another loss), my son pulled his coach outside the locker room to speak to him privately.  He asked him why he and a few of the other upperclassmen were constantly remaining on the bench while the coach allowed the younger, recently promoted JV players to play instead. This behavior had been taking place throughout the previous nine games of the season.  My son had not mentioned anything to the coach prior to this particular night, and had handled his disappointment with a maturity beyond his years.  All parties will agree that he also handled this private conversation with the coach in a very mature, calm manner as well. The coach, possibly upset because of the recent loss to add to many others, responded to my son with, “They get to play more because you’re not as good as them.”

[Let me interrupt here by saying that, (1) this is absolutely not true. My son and the other benched players have the same set of skills that the others do and twice as much heart.  And, (2) no coach should ever…EVER…speak to a child in that manner.]

So, after hearing those words from his coach, my son (who’s heart and soul was in this team and his fellow players), fought back tears and shook his coach’s hand and told him to have a nice rest of the season.  He then came upstairs and told myself, his father, his step-father, and his grandfather what had just taken place. He was in tears, which is a rare occurrence for a sixteen-year-old boy, as I’m sure you can imagine.

And, as I’m also sure you can imagine, this did not sit well with his family.

[Let me interrupt here yet again with a story. One day I stopped at a gas station on my way to work. A sweet little black dog started to come up to me. Thinking, “aww, he loves me,” I bent down to pet him. Instead, he walked straight past me, proceeded to pee on my tire, and then went back to his spot and lay back down. This, my friends, is what had just happened to my son.  But, I digress….]

After hearing of what happened, I proceeded to go downstairs to speak with the coach. I remained outside the locker room waiting for him to come out. I was approached by the athletic director and two of the assistant coaches, who all told me that any incidences that happen in a game have a mandatory 24-hour wait period before they can be discussed. While I did understand this rule, the incident in question was not something that happened in the game. It was something that happened after the game, when my son was humiliated by his own coach. So, I remained where I was waiting to speak to the coach. Once we realized that the coach had actually snuck out the back door of the locker room to avoid speaking to me (cute), the athletic director offered to call the principal to discuss the matter. I took him up on that offer. I spoke to the principal, to the assistant coaches, and to the athletic director about the situation, but not to the coach, who had snuck away to avoid facing his actions.

While on the phone with the principal, she offered a meeting during the day the next day at the school. I explained to her that I work out of town and that timing would not be convenient for me. So, she suggested (as a first step) to speak with the coach and my son privately first thing in the morning, to which I agreed.

However, this is far from what happened.

My son’s grandfather called the high school first thing in the morning to arrange for him to be at the meeting due to my son’s father’s physical limitations that make it hard for him to get into the school. After a series of holds (one of which exceeded 20 minutes), my son’s grandfather was told that he was not “allowed” to attend the meeting. The school then proceeded to have the meeting, which did not in fact take place just between the coach and my son, but which included the coach, an assistant coach, the principal, the vice-principal, and the athletic director. And my son. Alone, with no one on his side. The principal insists that they were “all there for my son,” but that is highly unlikely due to what took place.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

During this meeting, the coach first blatantly lied and said that he did not say that to my son. He then proceeded to imply that “if he had,” then “isn’t that what coaching is all about?”  (The principal also suggested this when speaking to me on the telephone later…that every child has a “role” on the team. Apparently my child’s role was to be told that he was no good and just be there as a practice dummy for the “real” players during practices.) Well, Mr. Coach. And Ms. Principal – let me explain something to you.

No, that is absolutely NOT what coaching is all about.

I have been a coach myself. I just recently coached a running team that consisted of all girls…all of varying speeds and abilities…and I would never, EVER, look at one of them and tell them they weren’t as good as the others. No, a coach’s role is to nurture their players, both mentally and physically, and help them become the best players they can be. Telling them they are not “good enough” and keeping them on the bench where they can’t get any experience are not the way to do that.

But look at me digressing again.

So, after the highly inappropriate meeting of many members of “authority” ganging up on my son, he was sent back to class and nothing was accomplished.  He was still off the team and the coach still insisted that nothing was ever said to him to cause all of this.

Our family was irate. I spoke with the principal who, as I implied earlier, reminded me that “even if the coach had said that to him, that is a coach’s role,” and then my son’s father followed up with a phone call with regards to his disapproval of the way the situation was handled.  He went to the school and, very painstakingly, made his way to a repeat meeting that included the same people, minus my son who did not want to miss his first day of classes in the new semester. At this meeting, nothing was accomplished either, and the coach was the first to get frustrated and get up and leave – before the meeting was officially over.  Mature behavior? I think not.

There were two more games last week that took place after these events. My son attended them to cheer on his team.  Talk about maturity. At both of these events, while all other parties involved spoke to my son (including the athletic director and assistant coaches), the coach did not. In fact, at one game, he was walking towards him, saw he and his grandfather standing there, and proceeded to physically turn around and head the opposite way to avoid having to speak to him.

Is this the kind of person we want leading our children?

In the days following this incident, I have heard a few things that may shine some light on the happenings of last week. I have learned that another sports team was caught doing something that was against the rules, but were allowed to resume. Perhaps a punishment was enacted, but the team members continue to play. Most notably, however, I have also learned that the principal and the coach have been “buddies” since high school.

Now, you have to understand, I didn’t grow up in a small town. I grew up as an Army brat. So, this small town “good ole boy” politics is something that is brand new to me. And it is something that does not sit well, to say the least.  I will not allow this to lie dormant.

Something must be done about this situation. What we, his parents, want is this: we want our son’s position reinstated on the team and we want the coach’s and the principal’s behavior in this situation to be addressed by someone in a higher position. We want our child to be believed and treated with respect. We want everyone involved to act as maturely as our son has and put this situation behind us, with a better understanding of what a coach’s role should be.

I will anticipate a speedy response to my request. I am making this letter public on my blog because, while I may not be able to enact a change, I can definitely enact awareness of the situation. My next step is the local newspaper (with names inserted), but I’m sure we’ll be able to come to an understanding and a compromise before it has to go that far.

Sincerely,

Melissa Edmondson
(A highly upset and fiercely determined mother)

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The Company You Keep

“You are known by the company you keep.”
– Heather Dubrow

I noticed something this week that I would like to share with you.

See that quote up there?  I’ve heard that sort of thing all my life. I always applied it to friendships and the workplace and things of that nature.  But something else has just recently dawned on me. The company that I keep is not really friends or coworkers at all. The people I’m around the most is my family.  And I want to tell you a little something about a few of them.

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Richard and Kelly

See these gorgeous creatures right here?  This is my boyfriend Richard and my daughter Kelly. Now, between Richard and I, we have a total of four children.  But for various reasons (other parents, summer commitments, etc.), the other three aren’t around quite as much as Kelly is these days. So, more often than not, it’s just the three of us spending time together. That makes them the two people that I spend most of my life with.  The “company I keep” if you will.

And I want to tell you a little something about them.

This week my community theatre is putting on a marvelous production of Les Misérables. This is a massive musical that is not known to be done by small community theatres…but ours didn’t let that silly little fact stop them.  Now, usually, I would be involved in the show since I’m the actor in the family.  But I decided to sit this one out for a while. I just didn’t think I had the energy to put into it (you can’t imagine the time and dedication it takes to put on any musical – much less this one! – unless you’ve been involved in one before).  But, as it turns out, I ended up being the only one of our little threesome that wasn’t involved.  Both Richard and Kelly volunteered their time to be “techies.”

Now, for this past week (the week that has lead up to the show), Richard and Kelly have been scarce.  They have spent their every waking moment at the theatre.  This is quite a turn of events for me.  Usually I’m the one at the theatre while the rest of my family sits at home wondering how late I’ll be coming home. It was odd being on the receiving end of that for a change. However, I honestly haven’t minded the time alone. I was able to catch up on some laundry, some cleaning, some reading…and some thinking.  While piddling around the house last night (opening night!), a thought crept into my mind:  My boyfriend and my daughter are just friggin awesome.

richardmusic

The Southern House in Transit

Now, I’ve always known this, of course.  This wasn’t a “new” thought.  But last night, I had something specific to apply it to.

For those of you who don’t know, Richard is a musician.  He’ll tell you he plays the drums but just owns a guitar – but he’s full of it. He plays them both and is wonderful at it.  Oh, and he sings, too.  This man who has the ability and talent to get up in front of audiences and make beautiful music (even making some decent money at it at times), has spent the past few weeks of his life volunteering to help others sound their best. He’s the one you won’t see when you go see this phenomenal performance, but everything you hear will be because of him. The man who makes music is just as happy (if not happier) this week in the shadows watching as he makes sure you can hear the actors making music.

I don’t know, man.  There’s just something about that.  Such humility. Such a lack of need for attention or applause.  The ability to derive pleasure from helping others receive recognition.  That’s no small feat, in my little book.

annie2

Kelly as Annie

And then there’s my little Kelly.

Kelly is no stranger to the spotlight.  This is the girl who played the role of Annie last year to five straight sold-out audiences.  She got up in front of hundreds of people and sang her heart out, while “Sandy” jumped on her, licked her face, sniffed in her pockets for the treats she knew were there…etc.  I’m telling you, Kelly was a pro. It’s hard enough to trust other actors when you’re onstage, but to get through an entire scene with just you and a canine as your co-star…and while singing!?…let’s just say this kid earned some serious points in my respect book for those awesome skills.  But you know what I respect even more?

The role she’s playing now.

That’s right.  This week, little Annie’s redhead is nowhere to be seen.  That spotlight that she knew so well last year?  She’s now sitting behind it.  She’s the follow spot operator.  She is making sure that you can see others as they shine.  And you know what?  She loves it.  Like I mentioned before – that takes a special kind of person.  A person who is not looking for recognition, but just wants to help.  She’s just as happy shining the light on others as she was feeling it on her own face as she played a title role to a sold-out audience. In fact, I think she’s a bit happier doing what she’s doing now.

Wow.

I hope you don’t mind the fact that I took an entire blog to give a shout-out to these two wonderful people in my life.  If that old saying is true – if you really are known by the company you keep – then I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am to be known as the mom to that hard-working little girl and the one who is loved by that humble, talented man.

What a lucky lady am I.

***

company

 

 

10-Minute Rule

“Each day should have a clearly marked emergency exit sign.”
– Dr. SunWolf

Whew. These past few weeks have been somewhat Stressful. (Yes, I capitalized stressful in that sentence. That word deserved a capital S in this case.)  Between work stress, financial worries, worrying over a friend’s medical issues…it just seems like it has been one thing right after the other. And amid all the stresses, there have also been time-consuming good things as well – softball games, getting a house ready for renters, taking care of that precious new puppy of ours, watching my handsome son turn 16.  All good things, of course, but whew….after a few weeks like this, I’m beat!

So, here I am (exhaustion-induced grumpy mood = check!) and suddenly it dawns on me.  I know what I’ve been doing wrong.

I have let my 10-minute rule slip.

10minuteruleWhat is the 10-minute rule?  So sweet of you to ask.

I have decided that there are a few things in my life that I absolutely love that are only about ME.  Sure, I love spending time with my family and with that wonderful man I love, etc. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.  I’m talking about the things that are about and for me only.  And for me personally, those things are acting, running, reading, and writing. (I’m guessing your list probably varies somewhat from mine.)  When I’m doing those four particular things, I am doing them for me only. They are the fundamentals of what make me me. They are my escapes, so to speak.  The places I go where I’m no one’s mother, sister, daughter, partner, employee, etc.  I’m just doing what I want to do…the things that I feel make me a better person because I’m being true to myself.

Well, obviously I can’t spend all day doing these things.  I have a job and responsibilities that I can’t neglect.  But a while back, I made a promise to myself that in every given day, I would make certain that I spent at least ten minutes every single day doing one of these four things.  A 10-minute soul tap, so to speak.

Now, luckily, I have four things on my list, so it shouldn’t be all that hard to find ten minutes in a day to do at least one of them.  Now granted, I can’t just jump on a stage on any given day and act for 10 minutes (I know some community theatres that would frown upon someone just showing up and doing a random 10-minute monologue during a performance), but I can pick up a book and read for ten minutes, right? That doesn’t require any special circumstances…just a book and some downtime. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s not.  And these past few weeks have proven it.

I have not posted on this blog in two weeks. Two weeks. I think this may very well be the longest stretch of time I have gone without posting since I started this thing in February 2012. Not only that, but I haven’t been working on my novel either. (It’s starting to feel like I may possibly have an eight-chapter novel with a horrible ending sitting on my computer for the rest of my natural life.) My running has been very sporadic (too much on my mind to dedicate the time I needed to it), I’m not involved in any theatre shows at the moment, and I’ve been carrying around a book that I have barely cracked open at all.

And you know what?  It shows.

I’m stressed. I’m grumpy. I’m overwhelmed. And, of course, I’m no doctor by any means, but I wonder if maybe skipping that 10-minute rule of mine has something to do with that?  I’ve forgotten to “take my medicine.”  Forgotten my soul tap.  Forgotten to check in with me. Is that really why things have felt so haywire lately?  Heck, I don’t know.  But I don’t think I want to roll the dice anymore. I think it’s time to pick it back up and stick to it this time.

It obviously can’t hurt anything, right?

Anyone else out there need to implement your own 10-minute rule?  Hey, who knows? It may be just what the doctor ordered.

***

“Tension is who you think you should be.  Relaxation is who you are.”
– Chinese Proverb

Out of the Mouths of Babes

“I don’t give a shit if kids take too many selfies or listen to bands I don’t like. They’re smarter, braver and care more than we give them credit for, and that’s pretty much always been the case.”
– Zack Foley

(I hope you’ll pardon my French with that quote above, but censoring it just wouldn’t have packed the same punch.)

I had been toying with a blog idea in my head for a while when I scrolled through Facebook and the above quote caught my attention.  A friend of mine was quoting a friend of his and what he had to say fit right along with the blog I had in my head. So, I asked permission to share it and there you have it.  And here’s why I liked it so much.

kellyselfie

My brilliant little Kelly in all her selfie glory

It’s true.

So incredibly true.

Case in point: my daughter, Kelly.  Those kids Mr. Foley refers to in his quote?  Oh yeah, my kiddo fits it to a tee. That little selfie-taking, weird-music-loving teenager of mine is everything that quote describes.  Especially that last part.

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend Richard and I were…um, let’s say…having some “issues.”  Okay, let’s just call it what it was. We were fighting. And it was bad. Now, if you haven’t heard me mention this before, Richard is a very quiet man. VERY quiet. So, when I say “fighting,” what I mean is…we weren’t speaking to each other. (Even I get tired of yelling when no one yells back.)  These non-communication fights have a tendency to drag on forever, as I’m sure you can imagine, since nothing ever gets talked about or worked on, and this particular fight was no exception. And while we try to hide our arguments from the kids, they aren’t dummies. We go from being the happiest, cuddliest couple in the world to not wanting to be in the same room? Yeah, they kinda figure something is up.

Well, this time, Kelly wasn’t having it.

She sent both of us a group Facebook message.  And I want to show it to you.  Now, I’m editing it a bit to keep out the details of the argument (I’d hate to broadcast publicly how WRONG Richard was, ya know…bless his heart…), but I’ll put enough here for you to get the gist.  Check this out:

“Okay. Y’all are getting on my nerves again. Fighting over really stupid stuff…..To be honest, you both are acting like middle schoolers. You guys get in a fight, don’t try to fix it or don’t want to talk about it, and just act like you don’t care. You do. I know I’m only 14 but I have sense….I know you both love each other and I know you care about each other, so start acting like it…Suck it up and be the couple all of us know you are.”

Okay, so I’m aware that I could be mad that she spoke to adults like that.  The whole “ya’ll are getting on my nerves” and “suck it up” parts aren’t the most respectful terms she could’ve used, of course.  But you know what? She was absolutely right.  Absolutely 100% right.

She didn’t know every detail of the argument we were having, but it really didn’t matter. The details aren’t the point. The point is that, even at 14, she could see that we weren’t handling things the way we were supposed to. She could see the love that he and I were forgetting during our anger. She could see that we needed a reminder to “be the couple that everyone knows we are.”

Now, I’m not sure how Richard immediately felt when he read this (after all – we weren’t speaking), but me?  I instantly felt the tears coming to my eyes. Not only because I knew she was right…I so love that big doofus-head boyfriend of mine with every ounce of my being…but because she cared enough to stick her nose in and try to get us back on track.  That took guts. And a heart.

And I’m so proud of her.

(By the way, Richard’s written response to her message?  “No fair – why do you get to be the smartest one in the family?”)  Heh.

Now, with all this said, I just want to clarify: I’m not saying the kid knows everything.  (Although if you ask her, she’d probably disagree with that statement.)  She still has lots and lots to learn yet.  (Don’t we all?)  But what I am saying is this: sometimes it sure does help to look at things through the simple, caring, knowing eyes of a child.  They see a lot more than we give them credit for, and they have a lot to tell us if we’ll take the time to listen.

Sometimes the details just don’t matter. Sometimes, you just have to get back to the heart of the matter…the love that lies dormant underneath all the chaos. And sometimes…a lot of times, actually…it takes a child to help you do that.

***
“In youth men are apt to write more wisely than they really know or feel; and the remainder of life may be not idly spent in realizing and convincing themselves of the wisdom which they uttered long ago.”
– Nathaniel Hawthorne