Monday, February 22, 2016
Feb. 22, 2016
I made it through Valentine's Day and my wedding anniversary...whew...
I'm actually looking forward to taking down all the Valentine decorations around here. I'm just ready for it to be all over. Ready for spring...and the continuation of life.
Here were some thoughts I wrote about Valentine's Day. A friend asked me to join a single mom's Facebook group and the question was posed as to how everyone was handling Valentine's. I had some thoughts:
Ok, so this may turn into a book before I'm done. Today is Valentine's Day and I've been feeling steadily sorrier and sorrier for myself as the day has gone on. I haven't received a single Valentine and it's likely I won't. The kids all got theirs from me but didn't think to reciprocate - which, honestly I don't expect them to. Valentines Day was always between their dad and I, although I always bought gifts for the kids, too. And children tend to be myopic, so their first thought is not going to be, "How can we help Mom get through another Valentine's Day alone?" But regardless, I'm sitting at my desk trying to write a paper on a form of critical analysis that I don't understand that well (my first college class after 24 yrs out of the classroom) and grief, coupled with loneliness, is prodding my soul. This is my third V Day alone and I don't remember it bothering me like this the last 2 years. My wedding anniversary is on the 20th so I was probably more focused on surviving that upcoming day than worrying about Valentine's. Anyway, there's that. And then, right in the middle of trying to decode the theories of Foucault and Derrida, I get a phone call. It's from a lady in my Bible study, whom I don't really know. She tells me that she heard my son, Ben, is going to prom this year and I tell her yes, that's true. Background: (I explain about Ben here) Thursday morning, one of his "normal" classmates asked him to prom (after consulting with me) and it was a really sweet moment for me, as well as exciting for Ben. Both the girl's mom and I were privileged to be present for the asking. So this lady calls me and says, "I want to pay for Ben's dinner that night. Will you let me do that? Ben is so special! " And of course, I tell her yes and thank her.
I hang up and God lets me sit for a moment. Then he prods my heart. What is Valentine's Day about? It's love, of course. And while I no longer have a husband to give me chocolates and gifts on this day, I have a Heavenly Father who has been lavishing our family with gifts since my husband's death. I'm not saying that replaces what I had with my husband. It's different and the loss still hurts. But today I needed a reminder of just what love is. And like He always does, God supplied. Happy Valentine's Day, Ladies!
And then my anniversary was two days ago. Only it's no longer my anniversary. It's the anniversary of my anniversary. It's Family Day now.
And it went fine. Nobody remembered except my brother and my parents. And, this far out, I don't really expect people to. But nobody understands just how painful the day can be until they've been there. I haven't decided yet which is worse - Feb. 20 or June 6, but they're both pretty rough. I didn't put anything about it on Facebook this year. More and more I get the feeling that people think I should really be putting this behind me now. I AM moving forward, but I don't forget, either.
But anyway, it was actually a very nice day. Will took the day off work, which I didn't expect him to do. We ate lunch here at the house and then we headed to downtown Des Moines. The weather was gorgeous. The day before it had gotten into the low sixties and Saturday was in the high fifties with lots of sunshine. We didn't even need our jackets. As we walked through the downtown I was reminded of our 10th anniversary when we spent part of the day in Walnut, Iowa going into all the antique shops. It was much colder that day, though! But the old buildings in Des Moines reminded me of Walnut. And I couldn't help but think what a glorious anniversary day we might have had Saturday if Paul was still alive and we had the day to ourselves to celebrate #23. That made me a little sad.
We went to the Science Museum which is basically a Children's Museum with a science emphasis. I've been there once before. I know people that have memberships but that doesn't appeal to me. I wouldn't think there would be enough to see to make it worth it. We were there for one of David's birthdays, a long, long time ago, like before Sam was born. And they still have the same stuff! They did have a traveling display on the subject of race, which was interesting. The girls were too little to really understand, although Lizzie liked watching a video which showed a white mother not wanting her daughter to play with a black girl at the neighborhood park. She was very clearly able to articulate to me what was happening in the video (sadly, the next day she commented to me that a girl at school had told her last week that she doesn't have any friends because "you're brown." The way LIzzie told the story, it doesn't sound like the girl was trying to be mean - rather just presenting her wrong opinion. It just makes sick that Lizzie is having to deal with this. I do not know what to do - yank her out of school and go back to homeschooling? Dual enroll her in a more diverse school? Hope that things get better with time? Ugh...)
So anyway, we were at the museum for a couple of hours and then we had tickets to the IMAX theater, connected to the museum. They were showing a film on the national parks. Oh, it was neat! My desire to take the kids out west has only increased with watching that! I want to take them to Yellowstone and the cluster of parks that are out there. The idea of doing it alone makes me quail a bit but in time, I think I could...
And then we went to Fuddruckers for supper, which is one of my favorite places to eat. Paul liked it too. In fact, he was the one who introduced me to that restaurant a long, long time ago.
Then we came home and watched my wedding video. Yes, we did. Arien suggested it and I thought about it. I've thought about watching it numerous times since Paul's death but never thought I could. But she said something about it that morning and as I thought about it, I realized that it just felt right. And it was. I didn't tear up or anything - just enjoyed it.
And thus, our third annual Family Day came to an end and is deemed successful. One of these years I'd like to do another overnight trip like we did that first year.
I got my second explanatory essay grade back - another 15 out of 15 possible points. Now I'm worried - is she an easy grader and I'm really not as good at this as my grade would suggest? At the end of that essay I referenced the quote, "The pen is mightier than the sword" and in her comments, my professor said, "And you, Sarah, have a very mighty pen!" Aww...she knows how to stroke where I feel it most! I turned in a paper today on the feminist view of critical analysis. I actually learned quite a bit from this chapter of the book. I'm seeing that feminism is not necessarily only the belief that"women are superior and men are dogs." That's definitely a component of it - blaming men for every ill ever befallen to womankind. But some forms of feminism also have to do with respecting the differences between men and women and working to make life better for ALL of humanity, regardless of gender.
So I wrote this nice paper about feminism today and turned it in. Then, a few minutes ago I sat down to work on my Bible study lesson and this chapter has to do with the ERA and is in fact, saying that there is no way Christianity and feminism can be reconciled. So now I'm worried that maybe I just betrayed my faith by buying in, at least a little bit, to the feminist theory of critical analysis! Ugh.
Will got his grade for the paper I helped him with a couple of weeks ago - 100%. Yay, me! He said the teacher commented that he "obviously has a good grasp of critical analysis." That made us both laugh! Someone has a good grasp of it, but it sure isn't Will...
Actually, that paper was kind of a pivitol point for Will as he determines which endorsements to pursue. He's been thinking he'll go for English but after seeing what all is required and how his mind is not naturally bent that direction, he's decided instead to pursue a Social Studies endorsement which will encompass history, geography, and economics. Of course, he still has to get through rest of the semester in British Lit, though!
This semester he has to put in 40 hours of classroom time, half at an elementary school and half at a high school. He spent one day a couple of weeks ago with his old football coach in his math classroom. Last Friday he spent all day with Ben's special ed teachers. He came home absolutely bubbling with enthusiasm and told me that he had learned more in that one day than he had learned so far all semester. The teachers sat down with him and showed him everything - how the salary scale works, state and federal requirements for special ed (teachers are only allowed to have so many students under their care, dependent on severity of disability), IEPs - everything. They told him what classes to take at college now and which ones to save for when he'd go for his Masters (which sounds like is something all teachers get at some point or another). They had him meet with the middle school special ed teachers who were equally enthusiastic when they realized Will was Ben's brother. Later, I wrote a thank you email to Ben's teachers and one wrote me back and said she is so excited that Will is considering special education, although she has no doubt he'd be successful in any type of classroom. She said she's always thought very highly of him ever since she heard him speak at Paul's funeral.
In my mind, if Will does become a special education teacher (and I'm not pushing it - he needs to pursue how God leads, not how Mom does) it would be redemptive in a way - a way of bringing good out of the terrible events of Ben's birth. Although, I guess I have Ben's life for that as ultimate redemption.
And speaking of Ben...yesterday was a nice enough day that David dug his bike out of the garage so Ben could ride around town. Ben's bike is an adapted model - basically, an overgrown tricyle. Ben came home awhile later complaining that he had been going down a hill when the brakes went out and he crashed, as a result. He rubbed his elbow, so I looked at it and it did look banged up, but the skin wasn't broken.
Well, later that night Ben was in the bathroom when I heard him hollering wildly for me. I ran to the room and there he stood stark naked, pointing to his hip. I handed him a towel while I bandaged up this huge, raw swath of skin on his upper leg. He also needed a band aid on his butt. Then I found a chunk of skin had been wiped away on top of his shoulder on that same side of the body. I guess he did wipe out! I got him all bandaged up and then Ben says, "Ok, thanks. I'm going to take my shower now."
What?! Oh, I could have pulled my hair out. Why did he let me go to all that work when he knew he hadn't bathed yet?
David looked at the bike and isn't sure if its repairable. I'll have Will take a look. We got it from an organization that services the handicapped. I may have to call them if it's not fixable and see what they want to do. We didn't have to pay for the bike, so I don't know if they would want me to pay for repairs or just turn it in and get a different one.
Ellie had a much better week last week, behavior-wise. Of course, she wasn't feeling the greatest all week long. She wasn't quite sick enough to be in bed, but her appetite was off, she was really tired, and she sported a fever, off and on. So, she probably didn't feel well enough to be too terribly bad. But, I did start her Obedience Chart with her, too, and she does seem awfully motivated to earn her stickers and rewards. So, maybe it's working! Time will tell, I guess.
I was doing laundry one day and after I took out a load of dry clothes, Ellie excitedly announced, "I want to get out the pus!" She repeated it several times and I did not know what she was talking about, other than it sounded really gross. Well, she was wanting to clean the lint filter. She mixed up, "pus" with "lint." How that can happen, I really don't know...
She was helping me cook one day last week and when I got out the eggs, she exclaimed, "Hey - these look just like chicken eggs!" Not sure what kind of eggs she thinks I've been cooking with all this time...
Ben watched the Republican debate last week. I didn't even do that. At one point I asked him how the debate was going and Ben replied, "Oh, that Donald Trump - he's such a whiner!" He told me some other things and then said finally, "I think he's worse than Jeb Bush!" It made me laugh.
And finally,..this is sad, but it also serves as a good reminder to me that no matter how rough my own life may seem at times, it could always be worse.
A Facebook friend posted a GoFundMe link with a note telling us that this family is real, as is their need. I read the page and was absolutely horrified and saddened. There is this homeschooling family here in the U.S, who have 9 children. One has Downs Syndrome and was adopted from the Ukraine. The picture posted shows all the girls in the family wearing denim skirts (of course). Very conservative very Godly home...one would think.
Except, a few weeks ago one of the children told her mom that Dad had been sexually abusing her for years. And then Mom discovers that it wasn't just one child, but several. And the abuse had been happening for Thirteen years. Here is where I have the utmost respect for this woman: she could have ignored this new knowledge. She could have attempted to justify it. She knew that by calling the police her family would be shamed and open to scrutiny. They would lose the only income the family had. But the very next day she did just that and her husband still sits in jail today.
And its tough. At the time of the writing of the GoFundMe page by a family friend, this family had $95 to their name. Mom's marriage is (assumedly) over, her children are in pain, and their entire family has just been sent through a meat grinder. In short order, the kids need therapy, Mom needs a job, and the family needs peace and healing.
The GoFundMe page is doing well. I'm glad to see that a lot of Christians are responding to this legitimate need.
But, oh, the hurt of this family. Their last name is Silva. Be in prayer as you think of it.
And on a personal level, may their story serve as a reminder to me that I have been protected from an awful lot.
Well, that's it for now. I'm going to be spending a lot of time this week at the computer, but it won't be on blogging. Lots of papers to crank out in the next few days!
And speaking of blogging - I'll have a big announcement next week. Well, in the scheme of life, it's not really not that huge. But it's time for a change. Details are coming, forthwith!