Selfishly Sad

When my son Will was little, he had a favorite shirt…he called it his “Steve” shirt because it had stripes like the shirt Steve wore on Blues Clues. We still have that shirt nearly 18 years later. My husband pulled it out last night and I held it. How did that sweet boy grow so fast?

Just a few minutes ago Will and his dad pulled out of our driveway, embarking on the 13 hour drive to Oxford, Mississippi, where Will soon begins his second year of college. I thought this year would be easier, but I was wrong. I told myself that I wouldn’t cry until he left, but I wasn’t that strong. The same pains that filled my heart last August when I left him in Oxford filled me again when he hugged me to say good-bye.

The worst part is…I’m also happy. I’m so excited for him to start his second year, as he tries new courses and comes closer to figuring out exactly what he wants to do for the rest of his life. I’m so proud of the young man that he is and now I’m smiling with joy thinking about that.

I don’t do well with a roller coaster of emotions. I feel so selfish for my sadness because that is what it is…I am thinking about me and my feelings. Yet, even that knowledge doesn’t quell the ache. I am going to miss him so much!

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To My Baby at 19 Weeks

I wrote this poem 20 years ago when I was expecting my first child…as I post this, summer is winding down and that sweet baby boy is about to leave for another year of college.  I’m going to miss him so much!  There are just no words that capture a mother’s love for her children…no matter how grown up they are!

To My Baby at 19 Weeks

When I saw your eyes flutter and your little mouth moving,
My heart leapt.
Then you moved your hand across your precious face,
And my heart flew.
So glad was I to see you healthy
Your heart pumping,
Your tummy full,
Your spine formed fine.
I can’t wait to feel you kick.
I can’t wait to hold you tight.
I can’t wait to see you smile.
I can’t wait to know you because
I already love you

Make That Ball Sing, Terry Jessup

Disclaimer:  I am closing down my old writing website and moving everything to this blog.  I will post a few of my poems here.  Today, I am publishing this one because it is a Tuesday, which is my dad’s golf day. 

Make that ball sing, Terry Jessup,
Walk gently on the velvet, emerald grass,
Approach the tee with the confidence that you can conquer the course
Caress that club with gloved hands,
Keep your left arm straight as you glide the driver
Back with your right shoulder
Keep your eye on the ball, Terry Jessup,
Twist your lean frame with your downward swing
SMACK the I Top Flight with your might
Let the ball sing as it whizzes
Through the air and
Disappears into the cerulean horizon
Let your I’ve-done-it-again smile
Creep on your face
As you think
Man I’m good and
Walk to the green

Stars, Bars, Rainbows, and Common Sense

Although my accent is weak — blame it on too much television as a child — I am a Southern girl.  My roots are in the south, and I have spent a lot of time this summer tracing my family tree.  I have discovered that in my family tree I have Revolutionary War soldiers and Confederate Soldiers.  Just this morning, found that the plantation home of my great-great-great-great-grandfather was used in the filming of The Color Purple.  I like to think that had I been alive in the early 1800s I would have been an abolitionist, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, but I cannot be certain.  While I don’t agree with my ancestors, I am not ashamed of them.  This is in the past, and the past should stay in the past.  With that said, the “Stars and Bars” should stay there too.  I have no issue with this flag being in a museum or in a historical piece of art, but it should not be flying ANYWHERE in the United States today unless it is part of a reenactment.

I was in Washington, DC last week, and I have to say that it was pretty exciting to be there when the Supreme Court ruled that banning gay marriage is a violation of our 14th Amendment.  I was raised in the Christian faith; I married in a Christian church; and I have raised my children to be Christian.  With that said, I am a believer in the separation of church and state, a phrase coined by Jefferson when discussing our First Amendment.  With the decision last week, our high court upheld the ideals established by our founding fathers.  In no way does two men or two women marrying each other threaten my faith or my own marriage.

All of this to me is common sense…this and airport security…but we’ll save that for another post!

Happiness…

One of those days…we all have them, days when everything goes wrong. I’m really good at them when they happen to someone else. I am the voice of reason, the friend who reminds you that it could be so much worse. The voice that tells you that at least this didn’t happen or that is still true.

Yesterday, I had one of those days…a yogurt fell out of the fridge and exploded all over me and my clothes; I spilled a glass of red wine on my tan chair because I was startled during a movie; my dinner didn’t turn out as I had planned. These are minor things, but truthfully, I let them frustrate me.

There was a big thing that happened yesterday. It was the kind of thing that reminds me or should remind me that the little things don’t matter. My sweet 16 year old daughter, who’s had her license less than a week, had a two tire blow out in our neighborhood. She was in our neighborhood, less than a half of a mile from our house. She maintained control of her car and came out unscathed. It shook her up. It shook me up. It wasn’t until she was safe in her bed last night that I was able to fully relax and appreciate the situation. She is safe. She wasn’t hurt.

I have a fantastic life full of so many blessings and so much happiness. I saw on a friend’s Facebook this quote, “happiness comes when we stop complaining about the troubles we have, and say thanks to GOD for the troubles we don’t have…” I can’t think of a statement more true.

Now, I must go and be thankful for the troubles I don’t have!

We Cannot Conquer Hate With Hate

I usually don’t post anything political, but my social media newsfeed has been cluttered with inaccurate historical information.  

First of all, I could not be more condemning of ISIS.  I can’t even call them horrible humans because I don’t consider them human.  Somewhere in their extremism they have lost their humanity.  I have so little regard for this group, that I won’t say more.  They do not deserve my attention.

Now, on to history.  Whether or not you like President Obama, he is correct about the Crusades.  Pope Urban II in a speech full of propaganda urged the knights of Europe to take Jerusalem.  He promised them entrance into Heaven if they killed “infidels.”  As the Crusaders marched toward their target, they took many cities along the way.  They were known to not take prisoner and to kill all inhabitants of the conquered cities [yes, this includes children].  They did not stop at killing Muslims either.  This was also an opportunity to kill Jews too.  In one of the worst battles, as they were running low on food supplies, they turned to cannibalism, eating the flesh of those they killed.  But don’t take my word for it; do some research.  I am posting a link to an article by a professor at the University of Tennessee.  

To compare the Muslim conquest prior to the Crusades to the Crusades is comparing apples and oranges.  As Islam spread,  the Muslims did not kill entire cities.  In fact, in some areas they shared places of worship with the Christians; that is, the same buildings were used as both cathedral and mosque.  It would be more accurate to compare the Muslim conquest to the expansion of the Spanish or British empires.  I’m sure that the indigenous people of the Americas felt the same as those in Spain when the Muslims invaded.

I am so proud to be an American because I like to think of us as a nation of people who want the greater good, who value freedom for everyone, not just ourselves.  It is so upsetting to me to see people whom I know to be intelligent, honorable people castigate Muslims in the same way that a hate group like ISIS denounces Westerners. There are a lot of wonderful people who practice Islam; just as there are wonderful Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists.  The actions of a few do not equal the actions of all.  I’m sure that those of us who are Christian, whether Catholic or Protestant, would not like to be linked with the behaviors of the Westboro Baptist Church or, for that matter, the attacks of the Irish Republican Army in the last century. Any apple can have bad seeds.

We cannot conquer hate with hate.  

http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic1406017.files/Cannibals%20and%20Crusaders.pdf

One of my favorite books is To Kill a Mockingbird.  I have read it so many times and when I taught English, it was my favorite thing to teach.  The part of the story that always breaks my heart is Jem’s reaction to Tom’s verdict and the loss of his innocence.  At this moment, Jem realizes that no matter what the facts were, Tom was found guilty because of his race. A tragedy that is almost overlooked in the novel is Tom’s death.  When he ran from the police, Tom was shot 17 times.

I’ve thought about that scene since the shooting in Ferguson happened last summer.  Clearly, Michael Brown was not an innocent victim, but he was a kid, unarmed, who didn’t need to be shot 6 times.  Teenage boys can be rash in their actions but they shouldn’t die.

Life is not fair.  It is not just.  I pray for all of the people in Ferguson.  I pray for Michael Brown’s family.  I pray for Officer Wilson and his family.  I pray for the members of the grand jury.  I pray for healing for the community.  Finally, I pray for hotheaded teenagers and the police that they may encounter in hopes that cooler minds will prevail in the future.

Yumminess

Out of necessity [pears that were too ripe], I decided to make dessert tonight, a rare occurence in my house.  I should have taken pictures, but I didn’t.  Here is what I used:

pears

butter

sugar [I used Stevia for baking]

mascarpone cheese

Preheat oven to 350.  Cut the pears into small chunks, but in a baking dish [one pear per person].  Dot the top of the pears with butter – I used about a teaspoon per pear.  Sprinkle with sugar – I covered the top.  Bake for 20 minutes or until tender.  Let cool for 5 minutes.  Top with mascarpone cheese.

This was quick, easy, and delicious!

A Pep Talk to Myself

I cannot begin to fathom what a total empty nest will be like. I know that in three years I will know, and I must admit that it’s scary. It got better this week. On Thursday and Friday, when I had to go to work, it was ok. However, yesterday, our first Saturday without Will home, was dreadful. I wanted to have a pajama day, but forced myself to get dressed because “pajama day” made me think of him. When he was little and we started the weekly tradition of having a pajama day during our summers off, he just loved it. It was too much for me yesterday. I couldn’t do it.

This morning, though, I made myself read one of my early blog entries, http://jenspiring.com/2013/07/01/bittersweet-tastes-good. I needed to remind myself that Will going to college is a good thing. I don’t know how to describe how I feel — it’s just weird. We all feel it here – John, Claire and I. I know we are all so happy for him and so proud of him. He had a great week before classes start tomorrow and has been busy making friends – something I never worried about with him. It’s just weird here. I guess we will all learn how to adjust to our new normal in time.

In the meantime, I need to remind myself how lucky we are! He is living his dream! He is at college. He is a wonderful human being. He is brave and adventurous. We did something right as parents! We are blessed!

Memories Rolling Down My Cheeks

Today, I face something that I have been both excited about and dreading.  Today, I leave Will at school.  Today is the day he begins to test his own wings.

Of course, for the past few days, I have been so nostalgic.  Being nostalgic and trying not to sob is an almost impossible task, but for the most part I’ve managed.  I think its important for me to be strong for Will because he needs to be strong as he embarks on this new journey. 

I’ve been thinking about when I first met him, a crying baby looking at me for the first time…the laughing toddler who loved to watch Winnie the Pooh and Blues Clues…the little boy who liked to make faces at me when I filled the gas tank…the moment when we were the only two people on the monorail at Disney…the basketball player who tackled someone in his first game…so many wonderful memories.

But, as wonderful as they are, I wouldn’t go back because I would miss the Will I have today too much.  He has a wicked sense of humor and never fails to make me giggle even when I am mad about something.  We enjoy watching the same shows, although I have a lot of show watching to catch up with him.  He cares so deeply about others.  He has spent the past 24 hours worried not only about his friend who broke 17 bones in a car accident, but truly worried about how his other friends are handling their worry, especially this boy’s brother who just left for college too.

I have always loved each “stage” of my children, and I know that I will love this new stage as well. It will be hard not to see him everyday.  And yes, I am going to miss him terribly.  Still, I am excited about discovering, right along with Will, just who he will be.  I am so incredibly proud. 

So today, as my good friend Stacey says, I am taking out my heart.  I will get through this move in experience, and then, I’ll put my heart back.  I will keep thinking of how lucky we are to be at this stage in life.  I will keep thinking of how proud I am of Will for getting into his first choice college.  I am happy.  Still, I know there will be a few tears because, as Andrew Guzaldo so eloquently phrased it, “sometimes memories sneak out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks.”