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Category Archives: Mom

cartoon of boy with the flu

As a parent, I have tried to teach empathy and compassion to my children. We want to model behavior that will make an impression and reach the depths of human love and kindness.

Sometimes, a teacher can make an unforgettable impact with his ability to open his heart and show his students a lesson that will last a lifetime. For my son, and others, a compassionate and empathetic act will never be forgotten.

It has been a snowy and difficult winter. The Polar Vortex became a part of our vocabulary and people struggled all across the United States in bitter cold, ice storms and record-breaking snowfalls. Along with that, people became sick with colds, viruses, and the flu; all that time indoors may have been too much togetherness.

At the school my son attends, over 60 boys, in the dorm, were sick with the flu. Rising snow drifts and cold drafty apartments did not help anyone to feel better. A teacher with a heart of gold and an empathetic soul rounded up the boys who were still feeling fine. He sent them to the grocery store for ingredients and together they made a huge pot of soup.

The pot was so heavy, that it was carried by two boys, one on each side. The teacher, and his students, went from room to room, and bed to bed. They gave out bowls of soup and stopped to ask each young man how he was feeling and chatted a bit. It was not enough to acknowledge that they were sick; offering comfort in warm food and kind words taught a lesson more deeply than I could in 18 years.

A little creativity, sincerity and empathy can make an impact that will never be forgotten. My husband and I were so touched, and grateful, when we heard the story from our son. As parents, we wonder what trouble our children can get into away from home with unknown influences. This was a teaching moment that made a difference to each student that day, whether they were receiving kindness or sharing it.

What small act of kindness and empathy could you create that would be unforgettable?
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A good post reaches for your heart and remains on your mind.

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so many candles so little cake

It is January 26th – The day after January 25th. So far you are obviously impressed with my superior manipulation of the obvious.

However, my days truly are numbered and the day after the 25th suddenly becomes more weighted with emotion and consternation. Yesterday, my youngest child turned 18; a big achievement and a milestone for us all. However, while I was happy to hear that it was his best birthday ever, it brought reality crashing into the 26th.

This best birthday had nothing to do with me. He is away at school and happy with his teachers, dorm mates and looking forward to bench pressing at the gym.

I brought him into the world and he is more than ready to fly. In fact, he would fly just about anywhere rather than home. No, I am not being maudlin or feeling sorry for myself, it is simply the truth.  His days of adventure and the freedom to travel, without permission slips as a minor, are stacking up like his collection of boxed basketball shoes.

My kids are more powerful and independent and I am more tired. This may be the cycle of things, but it is still scary to see the unknown third act.  Arthritis is setting into my joints as my son bench presses 900 pounds with his legs.  He cannot get his clothes tight enough and I cannot get mine loose.

He tells me that the ability to push off so much weight is all in the mind.  How did the 18 year old figure this out when I cannot? So, it is January 26th, the first day of the rest of my life with “adult children”. Truly, a Mother’s oxymoron if I ever heard one.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/daily-prompt-numbers/

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balloons in the sky
The Great Balloon Ceremony is what my father dubbed our Mother’s Day 2013 celebration. My mother passed away two weeks ago, before the month of May even began. With heavy hearts, my father told us that we would celebrate my mother with joy ~ as well as balloons and ice cream cake ~ in this world and the next. That is how Mom celebrated every other family brunch in the past and this year would be no exception.

Eighteen members from four generations joined at my parents’ home on Sunday morning. My brother and daughter were Skyped in from New York and Chicago, respectively. Each time we needed to change the scenery, I would hand my Kindle to my nieces and nephews to chat with their cousin electronically. My brother was passed around the room, by iPhone, from one hand to another. His daughters took turns saying hello as well and each got a bird’s eye view of the party room.

The sun was shining with a crisp breeze in the air. Eighteen shiny Mylar balloons, multicolored heart-shapes and ribbons, floated gently in the corner, glinting in the sunlight through the picture window. Finally, it was time to begin the gift to our mother, grandmother and great grandmother as if she were here. She could see us so much more clearly than we could see her, but the level of love was not lessened. We raised our faces and our hearts to the sky as we each took hold of a long colored ribbon. After a bit of singing, rising voices saying Happy Mother’s Day, and silent prayers of love and tearful messages of the heart, it was time to let each of them go. A rainbow of love gliding high.

They rose afloat, up and over, skyward, over treetops and houses, up into the great clear blue sky with only wisps of clouds to keep them company. We each shielded our eyes, looked up into the sun, and wished our respective balloons to go higher and bring our messages and rays of love further than the next. All for Mom, always, on Mother’s Day.

Yes, there were some Charlie Browns in the bunch, balloons wound and drifting among the leafy green tops of the tall trees in the backyard. But, gradually, as we watched, they blew in the breezy skies and freed themselves. I turned away for a moment, and the last one was mysteriously gone.

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anne taintor valium
There are a lot of greeting cards and many condolence options are available to the needy consumer. However, some people just don’t get it. I am a firm believer in the concept that stupidity should be painful. Of course, there are the people who are disconnected and clueless on purpose. Don’t even get me started on that one. But maintaining a dark sense of humor for special occasions does seem to help.

We don’t have any idea of how to conduct ourselves in difficult situations and have lost the ability to extend comfort or empathy to someone else. Some day you may be in this horrible situation, having to endure the loss of a loved one. I can tell you that you will be numb with some people and want to beat the crap out of others. You will want to scream and rant and say “Don’t you know that my mother is dead?” (Of course, please only say this if it is true) How can the world keep turning when the person we love is gone, lost to us seemingly forever. Those who are blessed with no experience, in such matters, need a little guide book explaining some basic etiquette.

When you express condolences, try to use your “indoor voice”, make eye contact, and express the brief hope for healing and compassion. This is a fairly quick process and can be conducted in most open, common areas such as a school, home, office or grocery store. No special clothing is necessary and you don’t need to know which utensil to use.

Wasn’t that easy?

It is not hard to have a shred of humanity. Attached to data packages and technology as we are 24 hours a day, a ten second email or text “Sorry for your loss” is not complicated. It is not heartfelt either, but hey, at least you took the ten seconds out of your day to share the full depth and range of your emotional wattage.

A tweet that says “There should be comfort….” just sounds disdainful. An ellipse????? Really? Is this a punch line? Will this be followed by a 2 second frowny emoticon?

Have we lapsed so far from human interaction that we cannot even use words to express pain anymore? I know, the iPhone gives you a wide range of emojis so that you never have to try to find the words to say you are sorry. All you have to do is pick out some freeze-dried, dehydrated, animated facial expression and the hard work is done.

But maybe that is the problem. We have taken away any need to use words or face- to- face communication. We run from the car to the door, so that we are not speaking to the neighbor and don’t know the names of our childrens’ teachers or our coworker’s family members. Simple communication, that is sincere and gracious, is the smallest piece of humanity we have left.

Life, birth, death, loss – – these may all be part of the cycle of life, but it is not black and white. Someone, somewhere, is mourning something every single day. Loss is loss. Whether, it is a pet, a spouse, a friend, a job, a piece of jewelry, the sense of community, foreclosure, or a favorite sweater that gets bleached in the washing machine. How we deal with it, feel, and live with that loss is uniquely individual and immeasurable to the naked eye. Who am I to say what loss feels like for you or what triggers hurt you the most? Yet, I do understand how it feels, in my own way, because I have had to say goodbye too many times, and, truly, it never gets easier.

It is hard to handle death. There may be an awkward pause until you carefully choose your words and your throat might feel a bit tight or moisture will bathe your eyes. Persevere, take a deep breath, push through the pain, and please put yourself in someone else’s shoes. If it was you, you would want to rant and scream too. I assure you that it hurts me more to have to hear it than it will be for you to have said it. We should not meet under these circumstances, but remember, all that means is that from here on in, there is nowhere to go but up.

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