Isn’t it my birthday too?


I smell the smell. I can taste the sweetness with a hint of lemon-lime of the Sprite that I sipped that morning to take my daily anti nausea medication. I feel how tired I was and how I really wanted to hurry up and get back home so I could sleep some more. The lights, the denim skirt I wore, the laughter of my doctor, my friend. This is all like yesterday, like it happened only a moment ago. My birthday of sorts. The day I began riding a different carousel and one I will never get off. My free spirited penguin was born on this day, one week earlier than planned, six years ago.

Today is her birthday. The day that God decided to break out the mold he used in 1978, dust it off, and give it another go when he gave me this unending gift six years ago. There is no doubt we not only share DNA, but most would agree that we are the same, I in adult form can see my childhood self daily when I look at her. I am raising myself. That, in itself is a gift. 

Today is my birthday. The day that I was born into a new life, a new person. I became more than just a sole person, more than a wife, more than a daughter. I became a mother to the best thing ever. There are days that I could lay down and scream, and yes, some days I feel I’ve lost myself, but then I can remember that smell, that taste, all of the details of today six years ago. My heart becomes overwhelmed with awe and I am humbled that I was chosen. Chosen to be her mother. What a gift!

Happy Birthday my sweet penguin. My love, the beating of my heart that you dance to. My birthday wish is that you always feel that wind that leads you to dance freely.

I know it seems cliche’, but pass the Kleenex 


I’ve always been the strong one. That weird parent, that other than my strange over protectiveness, I really have never gotten emotional at the “normal” emotional milestones for parents. The first birthday I was just happy to have made it to with my hair, the first steps, first words, unfortunately I don’t have a specific memory on because of the crazy stress of insignificant things. Although the past three years have presented so many challenges and emotional stressors for me, it also has provided a wonderful opportunity for my penguin and I to build a strong, unique bond. 

This momentous day, that happens every year, and for parents with multiple children it happens more than once, is happening to me tomorrow. Yes, I know it is not me, but I’m an emotional wreck. I’m trying to keep it together for her because she is so excited. But it’s bedtime, and she just whispered into the monitor, “I’m a little norvous about big school tomorrow.” Boy am I glad that’s not a two way camera. I tried to choke back the tears and press the mic to reply, “it’s okay, you’ll be great.”

This is my penguin. This is the start of it. I will make it, we will make it. But, yes, I am bringing the Kleenex and doubling up on the meds.

Is her kindergarten my eighth grade?

Always reach high my strong willed child

Eating solid foods. Crawling. First steps. First words. Just a few milestones a parent looks forward too and remembers about their children. I have the pivotal one coming up that starts in motion the rest of her life. I know that may sound dramatic, even for me, but as I think about it, I don’t know how else to explain the importance. Kindergarten. Then I realize, my mini me, the almost 6 year old version of myself, sees kindergarten as I saw starting eight grade. And, that makes me sad. And, that makes me excited.

Starting kindergarten for me was no big deal in this rural southern town. At least I don’t remember it being an issue. At that time there was no choice where you went, if you lived in one county you went to School A, if you lived in the adjoining county you went to School B. I already knew many of the children I would be in school with, either from daycare/preschool or church. It didn’t hurt that my daddy was principle at the middle school at the time either I guess. So for the next 8 years (1st grade-7thgrade and kindergarten) I went to school with the same children. Even if we moved up a grade we only went to a slightly bigger school with children who had been at our old school the previous year. There was no anxiety about not knowing the lay of the land. No anxiety about a sea of new scary faces. Until the end of 7th grade. At that time, 8th grade was at the High School, which meant I had 4 months between me and an entire school with 4 whole grades of new people. Older people. Some, like the juniors and seniors, we’re so much older our paths had never crossed paths in other schools before. Scared? I spent the summer outlining reasons why I should be homeschooled. I did not want my independence and free spirit that my class since kindergarten had been accustomed too, to become the punch line for lunch room mean girls table talk. I also knew I didn’t ‘look’ the part. I didn’t particularly want to, and further more I knew I never would. But, of course I made it through high school. I have some bumps, bruises, and scars to help me remember, and that’s okay.

What if, when my precious, free spirited penguin looks at me and says “mama, I am a little norvous about big school”, she feels the same anxiety on some level? I know it seems I’m reaching deep for this one, and yes, it’s perfectly normal for a child to be somewhat apprehensive about a new school. Stay with me though. She has only been to daycare/preschool and church with the same group of children. Now, in the same rural town I grew up in, there are two private schools to choose from which have become quite popular among the parents. My penguin knows that some children went to a different Pre-K and come to her school for after school care. She realizes that not all of these ‘friends’ of hers, and children who know her ways are going to be going to school with her in a few weeks. To top it all off, I have to keep reminding her of all of the horrible things that don’t happen in kindergarten. No changing clothes just because you dribbled water on your shirt at the water fountain (yes, I know we have some ‘issues’), no going to the bathroom on a moments notice which   also means you can’t have ‘accidents’ because you can’t change clothes. And….no naps!!! So yes, my all the world’s a stage, aka her stage, penguin is standing in front of this milestone with quite possibly some of the same apprehension I had about high school. 

It’s okay baby penguin. I know more now and I know what I should have told myself then. That works out well for you since you were made from my mold. I’ll guide you as the older version of yourself and I will teach you and love you like only your mother can. We’ve got this. You. Me. Together. Let’s jump over the milestone ready to see what waits. 

Are you there? It’s me….I’m not sure who that is most days.

Okay, so the title is a bit of a stretch. The fact is I know exactly who I am, but that is part of the problem. I know who I am but I’m unable to be that person. Yes, I am able to be a mom, which I am first, but not always the way I would like. That’s another blog post. But so much has happened since the last time I posted, things have just gone crazy. 

Personally, on the home front, things are great. The truck driver changed his schedule and is home every 4 days. The Penguin is very excited. The two of us haven’t exactly found our groove only because of my work schedule, but it’s still a positive adjustment.

Really this whole post is a farce. There is so much more I want to say. Not about my relationship mind you, just about life and some serious things that have happened. But, it’s just so much. I haven’t processed it all yet, much less tried to put pen to paper. It’s almost too much for even Penelope to bear. 

Sorry to waste your time. I’ll be back when I can sort through it all. 

Scared Straight by grief

  
The Belle works in a prison. Yes, this gentle southern belle of yours works with some of my state’s worst criminals (insert sarcasm on the gentle southern belle part). But, it’s true, I walk into one of the oldest, and the original death row for this state, prisons every morning and stay behind its locked gates and within the cinder block walls for 10 1/2 hours. I work in the dental clinic on a medical floor that is open 24/7. I’ve done this now for over 8 years and I’ve seen many things. There are many things I have not seen. 

Fortunately or unfortunately , depending on how you view it, I’ve become desensitized to a lot of things. After the bureaucracy of the department of corrections reared its ugly head and the dog took a bite causing my husband to loose his job after 10 years of service, that desensitization became even worse. Most days I am quite capable of ignoring everything and anything that an inmate may say or do. I often drift to the ER when there is an emergency to see if any of my Grey’s Anatomy skills can be of use, and because I’m curious to see what’s going on. Don’t judge! It’s prison.

Yesterday’s trip over to the ER started off as any other. I could see the “big time” security officers standing around, the ones called in to contain a situation. This usually means something good. So like normal I casually made my way over. But, this wasn’t a normal “cutter”, room mate fight, or just an inmate faking a seizure. It was something that I have not encountered in my 8 years. Then Penelope started to think. What I witnessed would be better than any scared straight program.

You know, the Scared Straight and Beyond Scared Straight that are on AE and similiar shows on other networks.  According to CrimeSolutions.gov here are the practice goals to the Juvenille Awareness Programs (Scared Straight)  

juvenile awareness programs (also referred to as “prison tour” programs or “prison awareness” programs) are deterrence-oriented programs that involve organized visits to adult prison facilities for juvenile delinquents and youth at-risk of becoming delinquent. The most well-known of these programs is Scared Straight. The overall goal of juvenile awareness programs is to deter youth from future criminal behavior

These programs use different methods to obtain these goals such as tours of prison facilities and presentations by current inmates. The inmates often rely on intimidation, fear, and hostility to attempt to scare the youth into living a life free of crime that would land them in prison. Sometimes they are shown pictures of inmates that have been involved in violence. 

I’ve seen that. The result of inmate violence. I’ve seen inmates die from it. I’ve performed CPR on inmates who have overdosed or hung themselves. Should we show the juveniles that? I’ve seen blood smeared down the halls. I’ve seen enough to scare me straight. But what I saw in the ER this time maybe what the scared straight programs need to focus on.

Grief. I heard the sounds as I walked towards the ER. I thought it was the typical sounds of an inmate moaning as he resists whatever it is they are asking him to do. But when I entered the room the moaning clearly turned into wails. The purest of human emotion. Grief. There he was, a 25 year old boy crying from the bottom of his soul “why are you telling me my mama is dead? I want my mama, I want my mama”.

I’m sure some of you are asking/thinking “what about his victim(s)”? True. Very true. First off, I didn’t even ask his name so I didn’t even look up what he was sentenced for.  If he has victim(s) of a violent crime I am in no way diminishing their grief or their right for justice. I’m trying to show another side to prison life that often gets overlooked when these programs are trying to deter youth from a life behind bars.

Heart wrenching , guttural grief, and the words “my mama was the only one there for me and now you say I’ll never see her again? I want my mama, I want my mama” coming from a hardened inmate. May do more than just someone yelling in their faces. 

Why I go to a public place for silence

  
 It’s my day off. I really have A LOT to do. Tons of housework. Dogs to clean up after. Naps to take. Grey’s Anatomy to watch. I have a bank account that needs to be straightened out after a mishap with an overdraft (oops?), and April’s monthly budget has to be completed today. 

Why am I in a coffee shop? Well, the first answer is obvious. I am addicted to caffeine after all (hint, hint Southern Belle on Caffeine). Secondly, S’Moores Coffee, has THE best coffee around. And the real reason is because it’s quite. A public coffee shop quite? Yes, even with the sound of the espresso machine and the occasional blender plus the hum of constant chatter in the background, it is still quiter than my empty house.

My empty house is very noisy. The pile of laundry continues to make a high pitch sound as I try to calculate the budget. The overall neediness of the small army of #meredithgreythepug, #gizmothelucydog, and their guest Tinker Bell makes so much noise and can also take over your olfactory senses as well (phew). I’ve got a brand new vinyl machine still in the box that I can hear clawing to get out (I send the lotion down) and a wardrobe of penguin clothes to sort through for the fall that have no home and I can hear sobbing. 

So yes, the public place is quiter. It’s easy for me to zone out and focus on this budget in front of me. All the sounds of my empty house will still be there when I get back home. For now I have coffee, a calculator, my budget book, and the silence of this place.

Photo credit: http://www.liveluvcreate.com/image/ive_never_heard_silence_quite_this_loud-440420.htm

Numbness 

  

Some days the numbness just takes over. It’s usually when I think things are going better. When I’ve had those “lightbulb” moments in a bathroom and I thought I could see the light. That’s when the light just either just stays in place or fades away again. I continue to function. I continue to love my penguin. But the rest? The rest just doesn’t phase me.

The questions I ask at the end of these days are simple. Does the penguin feel loved? Does the penguin feel secure? Has she been fed, clothed, cared for, and is in bed next to me? If I can answer yes to those questions then when I look around at the other stuff I feel nothing. I am completely numb about my situation. 

I am numb that my husband was used as a scapegoat in a larger corruption case and now he is away from me most of the time. I have no desire to wash clothes. It’s not laziness, it’s really not. I’m not lazy. I go to work at 4:00 am. I just feel nothing else besides taking care of her. My feelings, my needs have all gone away.

Maybe it’s just the mother instinct. Maybe it truly is a problem. I know it is resentment. Resentment that has turned me into a smiling “yes, dear” robot. What else is there? Nothing will change. I’ve talked, cried, screamed, all until I’m blue and his stupid pride wins every time. 

And my numbness just sinks back in…..

Care Bear Stare and Prayer

  

For some reason Penelope thought about how the beloved Care Bear Stare of the 80’s was similar, yet an innocent form of prayer. I am not trivializing prayer in anyway!! Here is the definition of The Stare:

” The primary uses of this ability are to defeat the Care Bear’s enemies and to heal people and objects that have been corrupted by them.”

“When the Stare/Call is used it creates a ray of light that is usually filled with hearts and stars and also it glitters. When it strikes a major enemy of the Care Bear Family is appears to harm them whereas when it hits someone or something who has been affected by one of their enemies it appears to heal them from the evil power”

Credit:  http://carebears.wikia.com/wiki/Care_Bear_Stare

Isn’t that what we do when we pray? Especially when a group comes together to pray? We want to protect, intercept, heal on someone else’s behalf or by our own petition.Much like we use prayer to protect and heal.

Prayer warrior:

Prayer warrior is a term used by many evangelical and other Christians to refer to anyone who is committed to praying for others.

Within the context of Dominion theology, prayer warriors see themselves as engaged in spiritual warfare against satanic forces

Credit: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayer_warrior

Ephesians 4:30-32). We learn that we are in a spiritual battle with Satan, so we must pray for our own spiritual well-being to maintain our strength and focus in praying for others (Ephesians 6:12-18).

The point of my rambling this morning is that there is someone close to my heart and others around her that could use any and all. Of course, I would love to dress as a Care Bear and stand out front pretending to emit rays of light from my belly, but somehow I think campus security wouldn’t get my humor. Please use your power of prayer, your care bear stare, or anything else positive you have for my love friend this morning as she faces a huge mountain to climb. Together we can get her over!

  

It happened in a prison bathroom

  
I just cannot believe the “light bulb” went off. The plan was figured out. The weight was lifted. All in a prison bathroom. Not in a Orange is the New Black or OZ prison bathroom kind of way. I actually work in a prison. 

*Yeah, who knew? When everyone supports “throwing the book” at someone, those same people fade away and forget you have to have people like me to take care of those the “good” have punished. Ahem, I digress. Another rant, another post, another day.*

After a year of tears and trying to find the light in all of this, I may have finally figured it all out. I don’t need to have a mid life crisis and go back to school. I don’t need to find another job that won’t support my family. I need my husband back. I need my family back. 

No, I don’t need a husband to complete me, but family is important to me. Before the events of 2 1/2 years ago that got us here, our little family was thriving. We were in a nice, smooth groove. That’s what I want back. My family. The three of us at home together. 

We’ve spent the last year debating if the trucking job is worth it. Then we decide to prolong it so I can go back to school. Prolong it so I can find a job that pays less. But just when we thought it was settled I went to the bathroom Tuesday at work.

I want another job because there is no one here for the penguin. That wouldn’t be so if trucking was over. I wanted to go back to school to start a new career to find a new job. All because I’m just looking for something. That something is right in front of me, well every so often any way. We just need a way to get him home. There I was in that prison bathroom and it occurred to me. I keep my job. He keeps trucking until Summer 2017 and we stay on the outlined budget and he can come home then. No school, no lower paying job, nothing to keep him out any longer. All of this from a prison bathroom. 

Miss Lauren, the Aggravated

This is my penguin’s pre-k teacher. She is the BEST. What a wonderful response to a difficult day……with 5 year olds 🙂

Miss Lauren, Pre-K Teacher

image

“Please lay down.”

“Please stop touching that.”

“Please just wash your hands and stop playing in the water.”

“Keep you hands to yourself, honey.”

“Stay in line, darling.”

“You have 5 seconds to move away from that table.”

“We don’t say potty words, kids!”

“We don’t do that, guys.”

“Let’s chill it out a bit, dudes.”

“Please don’t talk during nap time.”

“No, seriously. Please don’t talk during nap time.”

“NO, SERIOUSLY! PLEASE DON’T TALK DURING NAP TIME!”

I have repeated these phrases so much today that I’m going to outlaw them from my vocabulary. I’m so tired of hearing myself say them, honestly. Surely, the kids that hear them are tired of them too. Oh, wait, that’s not true, because they would actually have to be listening to hear them! Why are they all deaf?! What’s the deal with them today!? Where are my angels and who is responsible…

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