Follow – Up

My spinal tap showed increased cerebral spinal pressure, which we already knew from the vision loss. This accounts for the inter cranial hypertension diagnosis. The MRI was normal. My blood pressure is finally back to normal. This is attributed to a bad combination of dehydration from being sick all the time and lithium. Turns out lithium had been making me sick for quite some time. My doctor says we will need to keep monitoring symptoms and give it more time before we would move on to brain surgery and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I don’t want my brain cut open.

This means giving it more time. My patience is wearing thin, but I am encouraged by other areas of my life coming together. Finances are just about straight. I’ve had more friends stop by in the past month than all of last year. Kids are back on track. My niece and nephews brighten everyday. There’s just something about raising kids that fulfills my soul. I have also had the sweet relief of knowing my kids would be watched out for and loved, genuinely, for the rest of their lives. I cannot tell you how heavily that has weighed on my heart and the enormous weight that has lifted from my shoulders. That, in and of itself, has been a major contribution to my stress relief. I am so incredibly grateful to my best friend, Tess, for being an unbelievable source of strength and comfort to me.

THIS is where I need to keep my focus.

The Hazy Cynapsis 

I have grown a real disgust for Mothers Day.
I cant even explain why.

Maybe it feels too forced or fake like Valentines Day?

Maybe I resent being type-cast?

Maybe I don’t want to recognize people who dont recognize me?

Maybe I just know too much?

I know all too well what goes on behind closed doors and that some Moms wont get what they deserve and others wont deserve what they get.

Sometimes I really wish I could indulge in a blissful eternity of ignorance.

The Little Things

Yesterday I came upon a blog of a neighbor Mommy blogger which she described her little mornings rituals, the simple joy found in a child’s sleepy smile and how these little moments mean so much. This coincided with me working on importing nearly a decade of blog entries and coming to the realization that later this year I will have a son entering college, a son entering high school and my babe girl entering middle school. Wasn’t it just yesterday though that I was drinking coffee, listening for those little pitter patter steps so I could climb the stairs and swoop one of them up in my arms, to nuzzle my nose into their neck, giving little kisses, savoring their scent and committing their giggle to a sacred spot in my head. The time goes so fast.

Of all the things Ive seen them through what I cherish most are those little things. Little toes. Little kisses. Little whispers. Squeezing into their little bed to read a bedtime story until those little snores came. Even their little farts that set out those big belly laughs. The way they did that little booty bounce up and down when a song struck them the right way. Painting little fingernails, tying little shoes.

That’s good stuff.

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My child thinks they might be gay

Well, 2015 isn’t messing around.

Jan 2nd and just as Im about to lay down my sleepyhead and dose off I get this text to my phone:

Mom what if Im gay or bisexual

As fate would have it, having several LGBT friends and family members and living in Ohio, most of my newsfeeds this week have been largely about Leelah Alcorn. I was rendered frozen hand to mouth the first time I heard about the suicide. Having experienced a suicide as a family member, I am instantly taken back to the gut wrenching heartache that follows. My heart hurt for this young life lost, the potential stolen and the family.

It has started an important conversation. One that I hope every parent stops to have. What do you do if/when your child comes out to you? I don’t know that you can ever fully prepare yourself for it. However, Just as we prepare our children for potentially awkward conversations, we need to prepare ourselves. There are moments and words and decisions that we can never get back.

I am convinced that there is really only one right response and it’s remarkably easy to arrive at. No matter what your background, beliefs, race, gender, sexuality et cetera because it’s etched on our hearts and every fiber of our being the moment that child is placed in our arms.

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To my Ex-Husband on your Birthday

I think you’re 44 today.

I think it has been about 4 years since our last real conversation. In the midst of our marriage, even when I was certain that our demise was becoming increasingly inevitable, I never imagined that there would come a day that the kids and I would no longer be a part of your life.

I wonder what you thought about when you woke up this morning. Did you look back over the years of your life? Did you have any remorse for destroying our family and casting the children by the way side like items you no longer needed. I just can’t imagine having a “happy” birthday without knowing where they are, what they are doing and who they are becoming. I cant imagine wanting to slice a cake without being able to share it with them. How do you do it? How do you celebrate? How does it feel?

When you look on the current state of your life and know that they’ve been less than 10 miles away being raised by another man…
When you know how easy it is for someone else to fill those shoes…
When you know you broke every promise to the only people who would’ve loved you unconditionally…
When you spend the day before your birthday in another Court before another judge facing more consequences for making the same mistakes as you did 20 years ago…
When you know your whole life is a lie…
What makes you go on? What’s the motivation to continue your miserable, undignified existence?

My wish for you is that something about today makes you take a long look at the reflection of your life. I hope that you are disgusted enough by what you see that you decide today to make some changes. Changes that will help you become the man you’ve always wanted to be. I wish that you’d decide to take the pain of your childhood and instead of using it as an excuse for your poor behavior, you find something rise up to take advantage of the experience and use it as your reason to be something

I wish that our children’s heart reject bitterness and remain forgiving. I wish that one day in the future that should they reach out to you, that you are the father you always wanted…the father they always deserved.

I wish for you to find your way to redemption starting today. Not just for them, but for you too.

The silent epidemic continues

Over the summer, Diva attended a youth church camp.

That sentence contains all the sacred this post will contain.

When we picked her up at after camp the first Friday in July, Diva began to tell us all about her “boyfriend” who we will call Lil John. Being that Diva is all of eleven, this prospect did not delight me, but I am also aware that this is a part of the growing up she must do. I took solace in the fact that Lil John lived some two hours away from us. This would be a long distance, short lived, complication free relationship in my book. I had no idea how wrong I would be.

The first thing that rubbed me wrong about Lil John was that he was asking her to use Snapchat and insisting that this was the only way in which he could talk to her. I, not being born yesterday, allowed her to download it only for the sole purpose of finding another way in which they could communicate. This was accomplished, Snapchat was deleted.

As part of the deal of my kids having technology available to them, they had to sign contracts agreeing to certain rules established by the husband and I. Rules such as, I will not show other people my private parts, I will not access pornography, I will not use social media accounts to bully others, etc, etc. These rules also allow for my husband and I to have the ability to review their phones at anytime without warning. This is not something we do unless we catch wind of a reason. I like my privacy, I want them to have their privacy as well. In an effort to not let this technology run amuck though, it is, dare I say, a necessary evil.

I caught wind of something. I asked Diva for her phone and lo and behold, Lil John was not very boyish, but certainly coy. He was asking my daughter to send pictures of herself that would make him “happy” and detailing lewd ideas he had about the two of them. Remember, my daughter is 11. As luck would have it, the phone rang as I was reviewing these messages and it was Lil John. Lil John and I had words. I was cordial and kept my wits about me despite wanting to say things that no adult should ever utter to or even around a child. Thinking back on my own adolensce, I thought hearing from me would put the fear of God in the boy and that there would be no additional issues. I was also comforted by the fact that my Diva did not appreciate the tone that he took with me and decided that they shold just be friends.

Fast forward…Septemeber. Diva spends the night with her BFF, Hepburn, and husband and I take a much needed break ALONE. A fun night out at a Black Keys concert, a pub or two and crashing at an upper scale, downtown hotel. Just as husband and I are getting into bed to “relax” my phone starts getting text message after text message. BUZZ! BUZZ! BUZZ! BUZZ! right? This doesn’t happen. There is something going on and I must attend to it. Husband, having had a few drinks and not being accustomed to nights on the town, rolls over and falls asleep. I don’t fall asleep, but end up in a nightmare. It’s Diva. She’s upset. The texts details how her and Hepburn decided to prank Lil John. Of course they did. (eyeroll) He apparently went right into mission mode and asked for pictures again. So my genius Diva googles “boobs” and sends him the picture. And then the lewd idea commentary starts again. I ask her to send me the texts. They go like this.

LilJohn: Next year when we go to camp we should have sex
Diva: What? Arent we too young for that? What about the counselors?
LilJohn: We can sneak away. We won’t get caught.
Diva: My Mom would kill me. Besides I dont want a baby. I want to go to college first.
LilJohn: The p has sperm in it so the v can make a baby.
LilJohn: How about a blowjob
Diva: Whats that? I don’t know anything about it.
LilJohn: The p goes in your mouth
Diva: WHAT? Gross. Im not doing that!
LilJohn: No. The penis goes in your mouth. Only sperm comes out.
LilJohn: *picture down pants*

This is when Diva stopped talking to him and texted me. Of course, I’m livid at this point. So I send LilJohn a text message telling him that I had tried to extend him some grace and allow him to redeem himself by staying in contact with my daughter but that he had disrespected her and myself for the last time and “Do. Not. EVER. text my daughter again. Ever.”

I didn’t sleep that night. Not sleeping is a BIG no-no because of my autoimmune complications. It just sends my body into hyper-hositle mode. My mind is racing. It isn’t sitting right with me. I know boys will be boys, I have a couple myself, but THIS isn’t normal. So, why would a boy do this? Something in this situation is amiss. After not biting my nails for over a year, I gnaw them down. Thinking…stewing. My gut is turning over. This situation begins to make me think of all the child sex abuse issues I’ve come across. While I’m up, I see one of my friends is logged on Facebook at work. He happens to work for the sex crimes unit in a police department. I send him a text asking if I can talk to him about something and vaguely descrobe the situation and he calls me right away. He tells me to go with my gut. With no way to get ahold of the parents, he recommends that I file a report with the police department where we live. I instruct Diva to turn off her phone and give it to Hepburn’s mother after also explaining the situation to her because now her own daughter has been exposed to this mess.

When Diva got home Sunday morning, husband and I decided that it was important to sit down and talk about what had happened before we did anything else. We needed all the details and I needed to check her phone. I immediately looked to see if the location services were on his texts and thankfully they were. This was the only way I was able to obtain his address and possibly track down the parents. I blocked LilJohn from contacting her and sent everything from her phone to my own and deleted it. Within about an hour, I get a message via Voxer from a number I don’t recognize and sure as shit, it’s LilJohn. This kid has cajohnes.

LilJohn: What did I do
Me: *forwards all text messages that he sent Diva the night before*
Me: Do not contact me and especially my daughter anymore.
—silence—
I mean really? What is there to say at this point?
But, when I thought this nightmare was finally nearing it’s conclusion, it got worse. WAY worse.

When husband and I sat down with Diva it became painfully obvious that she was afraid. There was more to this story. When I explained that I was going to have to contact the police and that they may want to talk to her just to hear her said of the story she broke down crying and ran into my arms.

Diva: Mommy, what if they get mad at me and I get in trouble.
Me: Baby, this isn’t your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong. You tried to be his friend and he was very inappropriate. That is wrong.
Diva: But what if he lies and says I did do something.
Me: Hey. I believe you. We’re on your side. You don’t need to worry about anything, ok? Just make sure that you tell us anything that you can rememeber so that we know about it, ok?
Diva: I have to tell you something … *sobbing*

My heart dropped.

Diva: When I was at camp with Lil John and because I was his girlfriend he always wanted to touch.
Me: Well you told me about him always wanting to hold your hand. Did you guys kiss or something? Or did he ask to touch you somewhere else?
Diva: He asked me if he could touch my boobs, but I wouldn’t let him. I told him that was wrong.
Me: Well it’s not wrong but…
Diva: But for my age…
Me: Right. Exactly. You’re so smart.
Diva: But when we were in the pool, he grabbed my hand and put it in his swim trunks. I got away from him because the camp counselors saw him just with his hands near me and we’re not allowed to touch and grab in the pool so no one drowns or something, but as soon as they went away he tried to do it again and I had to get out of the pool and go back to my cabin to get away from him.
Me: Honey, why didn’t you tell Mommy?
Diva: Because they won’t let us make phone calls
Me: No, I mean, when you got home? When we picked you up from camp you were so happy and excited. Why didn’t you tell me then?
Diva: Because he apologized and I still wanted to be his girlfriend.

It really is amazing how many times your heart can be broken in a lifetime and yet … you survive.

At that point we decided we had no choice but to contact the police. I mean, my daughter is 11 and this is borderline assault. Regardless of the fact that the home address revealed no home number or connected names, it had to be done.

The police officer I spoke to didnt treat me like an overprotective parent. That was what I was expecting. In fact, he referred me to the sheriff’s office in the county where the camp had taken place to file a report there as well while he handled the phone harassment portion. I decided to contact the camp as well prior to contacting the sheriff in the hopes that they could provide me the parent’s contact information, but they couldn’t do that do to privacy laws. Then, after all of this, I filed a report with the sheriff’s department.

Today, I received an email from the sheriff’s department following up on this whole situation and also passing long LilJohn’s mother’s contact information. She was apologizing profusely and wanted to contact me, but … laws. Without wanting to overthink the situation into a frenzy I dialed the number and introduced myself. She broke down in tears. As I suspected, LilJohn had been exposed in the worst way. He was another child victim of sexual assault. The story is eerily similar to my Pickle. I knew this mother’s pain. I knew LilJohn’s pain. Then, we were crying together. Me apologizing for her pain and hurt. Her apologizing that her son had drawn my daughter into the mix. Every ill feeling I had for this boy was gone. All I wanted to do was take this mother into my arms and reassure her with solidarity that she would get through this.

I told her our story. I offered to make every resource I have had available to me, available to her and I told her I would be there for her…and I will.

Child sexual abuse is a silent epidemic in this country. It’s victims are shamed into silence and the supporters are too busy being of support to the victims to be advocates. Once your eyes are opened to it, you see it everywhere. Someone will start to tell you something about their childhood and you see the memories comes and the eyes gloss over. You know.

I don’t know why this happens. I can’t even begin to pretend to understand how it happens…how a grown person can look at a child in a sexualized way. I certainly look at little girl’s Halloween costumes and think we have some sort of mental deficit as a whole, but other than that, I can’t figure it out. I can’t understand.

I just survive.

The Resillence of Children

My son and I are both under the weather at the moment. I’m guessing its the turn of the season…maybe allergies. However, he was determined to attend his Truth & Training class at my parents church last night. It’s like a Bible study progran for kids. They were also having a special music presentation at the church so there was a rather large group gathered in the main sanctuary from what I was told.

Anyways, the pastor asked if one of the kids would pray for the kids who were in the main service and Jedi who has pretty much lost his voice at this point, volunteers. So he got up in front of a group of about 250 people and prayed, just like that. This is no small feat for a nine year old. I’d say it’s pretty special and I’m very proud.

After service he came across an elderly black woman who was changing out of her heels and into a pair of flip flops to be more comfortable except that when she had gone to place them on the floor, one had turned upside down and out of place. Jedi stopped in front of her, reached out to grab the flip flop, place them on her feet and then handed the woman her heels and went on about his business. The woman looked at my son, pointed at him and said, “I heard you pray. The Lord has plans for you, young man.”

After everything my kids have been through for them to believe in anything is amazing. They just have such big hearts. They are truly inspiring to me.