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reflections

Today I woke up to this lovely quote:

“Look at yourself in the mirror and critique yourself and your movements as you would a piece of artwork. But don’t beat yourself up. Unless you need to lose weight.” — A sampling from workout guru Tracy Anderson’s new food program service.

And I have been irritated ever since.  I don’t have a clue who this woman is, but I don’t like her one bit.

Now, for my vanity’s sake I have to point out that (except for those last 10 pounds just about every woman over 40 thinks she needs to lose), I don’t really need to lose weight. I want to, of course, but Sawyer is 20 months old and I have finally begun to feel like I have my body back.  My BMI is 26.7, which technically puts me “overweight” since 18-25 is normal, but I refuse to feel like shit over one or two BMI points and, as long as my clothes still fit and I don’t have to go up any more sizes, I am fine with it.  Kinda. Read More

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In rare cases, I believe so.

During WWII if an American had been with German troops planning, abetting and conspiring against the Allies wearing a German uniform and living with the Germans, not one American soldier would have been called out for shooting the traitor on sight. A story like that would have hit the new reels and pulled Americans together in horror at the treasonous nature of such an individual and the soldier would have been given a commendation. Not a moment would have been wasted worrying about the rights of such a traitor and their having been killed without due process and trial, though the only thing anyone would have thought a better outcome was that he be captured, tried with due process and hanged back on American soil – after we’d gotten as much intelligence out of him possible.

I understand that today technology exists that is truly awesome in its power and can give the impression of ease and seemingly remove the immediate consequences of  killing so that it is different than shooting someone on a battlefield like we did 70 years ago.  But then a lot of things have changed since then. You don’t have a country declaring war and an enemy in uniform out posted along a battlefield front.  It is not an army we are fighting now, it is a semi confederation of terrorist cells working underhandedly and deviously because they cannot get a legitimate government to back them and take us on face to face.

So if a born and bred American posts, plots, joins and otherwise aids terrorist groups, training them and training with them, living among them and – because they understand our lives, beliefs and culture – provides tactical and other intelligence to these enemies who have taken it upon themselves to come after us and we get the opportunity to take them out at some training camp or some hidey hole they’ve scurried to out in Yemen with a drone? I’d fire the rocket myself if given the chance and sleep like a baby afterwards.

When an American does such a thing, it is not our responsibility to follow him around the globe with an arrest warrant, reminding him of the rights he obviously does not care to have and putting troops in danger to make an arrest.  As an American you do have rights – and I think in such traitorous situations those people have exercised the right to give up those rights.  You hate America that much?  Fine.  We don’t stop people who want to leave this country.  And if they want to denounce us, they are free to do so.  Go join the enemy.  But when they join in the fight against us, they should know what they are up against.  After all, they were born and raised here.

And anyone who does such a thing and then whines about their civil rights once captured should be shot, just out of principal.  They can’t have it both ways: Death to America.  Down with the American system of government.  Oh, wait.  I’ve been caught by America?  I want my American rights granted to and protected for me by America!  Give me a fucking break.  Save the cost of a trial on that. I’d rather pay for the drone strike with my hard earned tax dollars and not give these people a propaganda platform in the guise of a trial.

You want to have the conversation about drones and whether or not they are ethical?  Fine.  There is a discussion to be had on that. We can and should debate this, especially when it comes to killing kids as such strikes by necessity sometimes do. But don’t go getting your panties in a wad about the killing of a traitor whose own actions and Youtube videos confirm it.  That doesn’t even make a blip on my ethical meter.

I have a 5 year old little boy and it has been a hard few weeks to be his mother.

It was hard to turn on the news.  Hard to listen to the names and see the faces of those murdered. Hard to hear about a child being taken at gunpoint and held underground for a week.  Hard to contain maternal hatred for men who would perpetrate such horrors. Hard to contain tears of gratitude and grief for those who stood between a gunman and children to die more valiantly than most of us could ever hope to live, much less die.

It was hard to process the mixed feelings of relief and shame at that relief because the only thing that was different about me and someone else was their unimaginable loss and grief and my luck and chance not to have lived where they did.

Then a murder/kidnapping on a school bus 20 minutes from my parents’ house where I grew up – 10 miles from the bus route my daughter rode for years – reminded me that proximity was a risky defense on which to base my relief.

And, to be perfectly honest, in an attempt to shield myself I pulled away from these stories to a certain degree.  I read about them daily, I offered my prayers and held out hope, but I stayed away from commenting, watching and participating in the hourly drama of it, because the more I watched, the more certain I became of one fact.

There is no real safety for my children.  And that haunts me.

I grew up in a world where mothers don’t die in childbirth and, except in the direst of cases, babies live.  Polio, smallpox, dysentery and other child killers have all but been eradicated due to the advances of medicine.  I walked through an old graveyard months ago looking at all the tiny gravestones from 150 years ago (one family I remember had more than 5) and gave thanks that I live in an age where my children will most likely all live to adulthood – something that didn’t happen for either of my grandmothers, nor any of my great-grandmothers. In that I am so very blessed.  Even with the health risks of Downs, Sawyer has every expectation through science, education and the advancement of compassion to live a high quality life where 100 years ago doctors would have recommended I never see him and that he be thrown into an asylum to rot –something completely unfathomable to me, as his smiling face is my greatest joy every day.

But I have other things to fear – not viruses and disease – something worse: my fellow human beings.

The things I used to lay awake worrying about in the night – that Ezra may one day put himself danger because he doesn’t listen when he should and do something dangerous like run out in front of a car, that Sawyer will one day be taken advantage of and mistreated because of perceived disabilities – have been replaced by more violent actions from the insane adults around them.

When my daughter was growing up my big boogeyman fear was that she may be lured into a van with candy or a puppy and raped and murdered.  I taught her about strangers, was vigilant and kept my fingers crossed, relying a good deal on the knowledge that – statistically speaking – she was probably safe and doing my best to keep the odds of such dangers as low as possible. I tried to raise her to be aware of her surroundings and stay out of high danger situations. She is 20 years old now; so far, so good.

I still have that boogeyman to worry about with my young sons to some extent (I cannot forget about the Sanduskys of the world), but now I have a new one to hate and fear.  One whose insanity cannot be explained away so simply and straightforwardly as a child predator taking one child at a time for their own sick gratification.

Now we have these mass child murdering motherfuckers to worry about.  Ones whose insanity is sneaky and devious and seemingly has no recognizable profile as of yet.  Ones that you cannot warn your children about because if your child is in the presence of this kind of madman, it is probably too late.

How am I supposed to teach my little boy to be vigilant and protect himself when his entire world view is based on the knowledge that he is precious, loved and cherished and that adults are his protectors? Do I shatter that innocence?  Would that be more dangerous?

These crazies operate so far outside of our society’s moral contract that the rest of us cannot fathom their levels of insanity. And quite frankly, I don’t care to.  As compassionate as I can be, these monsters engender no compassion or forgiveness from me – no matter their circumstances, problems or mental diseases.  May they rot in the bowels of Hell for all eternity.

The mindset of one who would intentionally target children is so horrifying and terrible that it is impossible to protect against it. I listen to the arguments from banning all weapons to putting armed guards in schools and know that neither would work.  Neither would stop someone who wants to kill children. There is no sure safety against that.

There is one thing that we all agree on, no matter where your political, religious, racial, ethical, sexual  or any other dividing line in society may be; whether you have children or suffer from a phobia of them; we ALL operate under then indisputable knowledge that children are precious.

We recognize and believe that children who are the least among us in years are in fact the future of the entire world. Just the amount of energy and imagination embodied in one child is so precious to  us as adults who have grown up and lost their wonder that, without children, we would be utterly lost in a cynical world unsavable and unredeemable.

Our children are that redemption.

They are our lights, our beacons, our reasons, our future.

I am terrified for all of them – quite selfishly, mine in particular – and thus the future of humanity.

No, it is not Cotton. 🙂

Weaving The Fabric of Your Life

Weave the fabric of your life carefully. 

You hold in your hands the strands you have chosen

to use in weaving the fabric of your life.

It may be that you think some threads are more beautiful than others. 
And there may be others you think are muted and dull.  

But do not be fooled.
All of them are necessary.

If you are careful and treat each strand
with the knowledge that the finished composition
can only be one of beauty when all are woven together seamlessly,

then you will be able to look back on the fabric of your life 
and see that,
though it is surely flawed,
it was woven with
love and care –
making it the beautiful manifestation of your
heart’s desire.

That small feeling

of being a small person

In a very big world.

(I am not complete)

That rush of excitement

When confronted with the possibility

That you are not so small anymore.

(I am as whole as I can be)

That sinking dread of fear

When you contemplate

Your abilities and measure them out.

(I wish I were more)

That leaden feeling of commitment

When you pull yourself up and

Decide to be limitless.

(I am standing in my way)

That surging of inadequacy

When you see someone doing

When all you are is being.

(I am ideas without substance)

That blissful realization

That no one knows or can see

Any of it.

(I am the only one who knows)

That sobering responsibility

Of knowledge only you have

And you alone are your own judge.

(I am the only one who can redeem me)

I heard the door open and turned my back to it.  The cold draft from the hall swept through the room and I nestled even deeper into the covers.  I was annoyed at being disturbed from my slumber and eager to get back to the timeless oblivion of sleep. 

Her footsteps were light and quiet, but they irritated me all the more.  I wanted her to leave me alone.  But I knew she wouldn’t.  She never did. 

“Get out.” I said.

“No.  I am not going anywhere.”

I didn’t answer.  Mainly because I knew she was telling the truth – she would sit here and wait indefinitely, damn her – but also because I hoped she’d not disturbed me so much that I couldn’t go back into that dream world and lose myself again.  

No such luck.  She came over to the bed and sat down carefully on the edge. 

God damn her.  She was going to pull me out of this nothingness and back into life. 

All the sudden I was furious. Anger surged through me though I tried to ignore it and stay in my cocoon.  But I could hear her breathe and the sound of it infuriated me.

Why can’t she just leave me alone and mind her own business? I thought.  I feel better now than I did.  What is it about her that messes everything up? Why won’t she just LET ME BE???

Of course, I knew the answer.  It was her job.  She could no more leave me alone than I could stop breathing.  She would wait and wait and wait.  And when she could not wait anymore, she would do it anyway. 

I concentrated on my breathing trying to stave off my anger – and extend my hibernation.  And then I felt her hand stroke my hair.

DON’T TOUCH ME

Yet, even as I snarled at her, I knew I wanted to grab her and hold her tight.

She stood up and backed away carefully, her hands in the air as if I’d pulled a gun on her. I really did not know why I put her through this whole rigmarole.  We’d done this before… many times.  But this was a process and it had to be followed. She understood that better than I. 

All I felt was raw emotion and pain. The other had worked me over good. I did not know how long I had been hibernating this time.  There was really no way to know.  Time does not exist in this part of the mind. 

“Why don’t you leave me alone, you meddling BITCH??”

And with that the dam of internalized venom over flowed and spewed out of me in a turbulent, vitriolic vomit.

I struggled to my feet as rage kidnapped all my senses.  I could feel it pouring in hot tears from my eyes, hear it ringing in my ears, taste its bitterness and smell the stink of sweat and fear radiating off me. Yet I seemed blinded, or at least unable to comprehend the little I could see, as I stumbled around the room.

I fell into the desk and wiped all my beautiful research onto the floor and stomped it. 

I cursed myself and, eventually, God for my existence.

All the while she watched.  Tears ran down her face, but no sound escaped her lips.  She allowed me the release unmolested and without judgment.

And then, after the rage had hollowed me out and left me trembling, I fell to my knees and began my confession.

Only then did she come to me.  She knelt next to me and stroked my hair.  I grabbed her around the waist and held on with everything that was in me as the sins and guilt tumbled from my lips into her lap. 

She had heard it all before, I knew.  But this was a process.  One I had to go through over and over and over, apparently. 

When I was done, she rose in front of me, seeming to drift out of my grasp effortlessly, and pulled me up with her.  She led me over to the couch, sat me down and produced a basin and cloth from nowhere.  As she bathed my face, neck, shoulders and hands, the last remnants of rage, pain and sorrow eased and then left me.  My head that had been pounding stilled; my throat, sore from curses, healed; and my eyes, burning and swelling with hot pain, cooled and abated. 

“Now.  That is over.” She said.  “Better?” And I smiled.

I looked over and saw my desk had been restored.  My research carefully stacked again, just as I had left it before, I was sure.  The entire area was clean and ready for me – as if by magic.

“Why?” I asked.  She simply shrugged in response. 

There really was no need for her to tell me. I knew everything she knew. 

Just as I needed the other’s torment, I needed her healing.  Maybe one day I would reach a point where the other did not come.  Maybe one day I would not need either of them.  But for now I did. 

The other is gone – at least for now.  Only you can decide if and when she comes back.  Maybe she won’t.  I do not know.  What I do know is that you have to come out now.  You cannot hide in there forever waiting for time to take the reigns out of your hands. Then it will be too late and you will bear the blame for it.  And from what I have seen and heard from you, you don’t need any more guilt.  You have enough as it is, don’t you think?”

She kissed my cheek and all of the guilt, fear, blame and doubt blinked out of me.  All of the sudden, I did not know how I felt. 

I just was – and it was wonderful.

She went to the door but turned to me as she opened it. 

“I have told you this before.  I am telling you now.  And I will tell you again if you need me to – you are forgiven.”

And with a slight wisp, she was gone.

Being that this weekend is Father’s Day, I’ve had some shopping to do.  Like every woman in my situation, I struggle with what to do for Father’s Day  – and I have three of them in my life. 

Ezra’s dad and I are divorced but we have managed (with lots of soul-searching and knock-down-drag-out text fights over about a year) to come to terms with the fact that he and I, along with Jay, are raising this child together and we all love Ezra and have his best interests at heart.  We get along very well now, especially for people in our situation.  I am grateful for that.

In that spirit, he very nicely got me a Mother’s Day gift that he let Ezra pick out. So last night it was my turn.

Ezra and I went to dinner and then went to a collegiate sports store to get his dad’s gift. 

Another thing you have to understand about me and my family and our Southerness is that we are an Auburn family. 

Big time. 

My dad went there, Jay graduated from there, Jay’s little brother is there now.

I was raised to be an Auburn fan from birth.  And I will do the same for my children. 

This is a BIG deal down here in the South.  The SEC rules the roost.  The other day, my brother posted a simple, “100 Days!” on his Facebook page and I immediately knew that it was exactly that long till the first Game Day of the 2012 season (it is down to the 80s by now! Yay! I cannot wait!)

Ezra’s dad, on the other hand, is a graduate of the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M. Yes, the very Texas A&M who left the Big whatever conference and are coming to the SEC this year.  And playing one of their initial SEC games against Auburn in Auburn. And being that the Corps is the oldest military student organization in the country and Ezra’s dad was in the Corps band, which never missed a game his entire college career, he is a bit of an A&M fan in his own right. 

Never during the years I was married to Ezra’s dad did this become a real issue. I will watch any college football and as Auburn and A&M were in different conferences they never met up on the field. 

Until this year.  So this is gonna be fun. 

I have already done my best to inoculate Ezra from his father’s A&M influence.  He has a myriad of Auburn paraphernalia from the pennant hanging in his room to pom-poms, jackets, hats and other such items. 

More importantly he watches the games with us.  Mostly because he has no choice, but we also try to explain it to him and play football with him.  You know, make it fun and teach him.  It will be a whole family deal. Sawyer already has Auburn gear to grow into (he wore his first AU shirt in the hospital when he was born – you get the idea?). 

It is a full indoctrination program we have going. And Ezra’s dad has both noted and commented on this on several occasions. 

Despite that, and with full recognition of the fact that I am such a big person spirit of thanks and Father’s Day, I bought Ezra’s dad an A&M flag he could fly outside his home with pride for A&M’s first season in the SEC.  He will come to understand why the SEC is the most respected conference in the country and he will, eventually – provided A&M can hang – enjoy that same pride. 

But a part of me was a bit concerned about purchasing something that could be used to undermine the Auburn training Ezra has had up till this point.  So when Ezra asked very sweetly if he could get a little plastic Auburn helmet for two bucks at the register, I smiled and bought it for him.

And this morning when I dropped him off at school, he wanted to take the little helmet in for an additional show-and-tell. Hm, imagine that. 

“Can I take the Auburn helmet to my Daddy’s house, Mommy?” he asked innocently as he got out of the car.

“You sure can, love. I got it just for you to keep at Daddy’s house, ok?  War Eagle!!”

“War Eagle, Mommy!”

We high-fived.

That’s right Ezra.

Exactly.