Time Machine

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My Mother’s Day wish this year is simple: a time machine. Just for a few hours. No, I wouldn’t take it back to buy Microsoft stock or witness some historical event. I would go back to an ordinary day….just a typical Wednesday, maybe 2001. I would go back to our humble house on our less than great street. The one I never really liked, but at a young age, was lucky to have. It would be a sunny, nice spring day. I would go back to the morning. When my boys, then 7 and 4, would still be asleep.

I would creep into their rooms, and sit down and watch them sleep. I would take in everything about that moment–each hair on their head, the sound of their sleeping breath, the smell of the room. After lingering a bit, I would wake them up and we’d go downstairs for breakfast. And they could have whatever they wanted—-ice cream? Sure!! Chocolate chip pancakes with extra chips? You got it!!

After breakfast, we would move head back upstairs to our “learning room” to get started on the school day. Lego on the floor?? Again??!!! As the plastic missile makes its way into my foot, I would smile and enjoy the searing pain shooting up my toes. As the school day begins, I remember how difficult it was homeschooling two boys. But, this day, I wouldn’t yell when Holden didn’t want to do his English lesson, because he wanted to read about space and rocket ships. I wouldn’t get frustrated at Harrison when all he wanted to do was look at the photos in his animal books. I would grab all the books and sit with them.

I would do every single thing they wanted all day—-no matter how silly it seemed at the moment, no matter what I had planned for the day. I would hold the hugs just a little bit longer. I would kiss just a little bit more. I would cuddle up on the sofa just a little bit longer as we watched silly cartoons, which I used to think were a waste of time. The extra cookie that they wanted after dinner—I’d give them 2.

As I look back now, fifteen years later as my boys are now a senior and sophomore in college, I realize how much time I spent on things that weren’t important. I complained about things that didn’t matter. I didn’t spend time taking in those mundane moments that become the best memories. I look at them now with their own lives and their independence and I long for them to need me just a bit. I long for days of Sponge-Bob on the TV and Lego all over the floor. Days of rough and tumble boys laughing a bit too loud and being a bit too silly.

Time flies so fast. We are so busy looking to the next moment that we miss the beauty of the current moment. We miss the beauty in the madness that is the day of a mom. Those mundane moments are what I miss the most. Those days when nothing special happened, except it did……I was spending the day with my boys. The two halves of my heart. My eldest, who taught me how to love, and my youngest who taught me that that love was limitless.

They tell you a lot of things when you’re pregnant—what to eat, what you should or shouldn’t do when the baby is born, how to stay healthy. But, what they don’t tell you is how you lose your heart. How you lose part of yourself. These babies that grow inside you for 9 months, take a piece of you when they are born. And no matter how old they are, no matter how far away they roam, they carry that with them. A piece of you will forever live outside of your body, but you still feel it. Like a phantom limb, you ache for it.

Every Mother’s Day, as I celebrate my own mom, I also thank my boys. They made me a better person. They made me love deeper, they made me stronger, they made me who I am. As I marvel at their talents, at their compassion, at their humanity, I continue to miss those ordinary days. But, I’ve learned to hold onto each moment they are with me. Now, if I could only get that time machine…. just for a few hours.

 

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A New Silence

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My house is quiet.

Their rooms are empty.

There is no laundry in the hampers.

There are no messes to clean up.

There are no diapers to change.

No faces to wipe.

There are no lunches to be made.

No 3 p.m. drives to school for pickup.

There was no rushing around this morning.

It’s silent. A deafening sort of silence. Almost mournful.

My head is loud.

The voices frantic and scared.

I try not to listen. I try to tune them out.

But they become deafening.

Destructive.

The silence is an unwelcome friend.

Droplets of Life

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I had an experience yesterday which honestly rocked me to my core. I was eating a Labor Day picnic lunch with my parents and my husband, when a piece of chicken got stuck in my throat. I panicked, which of course made it worse, and it lodged deep in my throat. I couldn’t breathe. My military-trained husband remained calm and gave me the Heimlich Maneuver…..twice to no avail. I started to see stars, the light started to fade. Finally, as I lay over the sofa, another thrust and out came the blockage. I didn’t stop shaking for hours. I’m still feeling the pain in my throat and my ribs.

Talk about a wake-up call! I suffer from severe anxiety and worry over the slightest things. But, I can tell you, in that instant–I wasn’t worried about if my bills were paid or if my hair looked ok and my make-up just right….I was worried about my husband. I would be leaving him with the care of my elderly parents. I was worried about my boys–would I see Harrison’s National Geographic photo shoot? Would I see Holden’s world-changing invention? What would my parents do if they lost a child? I was thinking about how I would never again feel the sun on my face or the water in my eyes.

Today, as most days, I went for a swim. It is my calming place, my sanctuary. It is where I feel most at peace. With all the chaos that lives in my head on a daily basis, I need a place to quiet the noise and allow me to just be. I find that in the water. My favorite thing to do is to stand under our pool fountain and watch the streams of water hit the surface, as the hot sun beats its rays on my face. Today, I noticed something different. Today, I noticed that these individual drops of water make their way through the fountain and come together in a stream, which then hits the surface and creates a ripple effect throughout the pool.

But, when those streams of water hit the sun, just right, they create this beautiful kaleidoscopic prism effect that looks like a rainbow.  I had never really noticed this before. It was magnificent. Aren’t our lives like those droplets of water? We come into this world as a single entity, but we come together with our parents, our friends, our spouses, our children to form a stream that flows through everything we do. And every once in a while, we get our chance to shine in the sun and spread our kaleidoscope to the world. Our light shines. Then we create a ripple that touches others and impacts them and carries them further on their journey, till we come to the end. Our ripple is gone. But, the effects can still be felt by those left behind.

I keep thinking today, what is my ripple to the world? How many prismatic moments do I have left to share? If I learned one thing yesterday, it’s that our lives truly hang by a thread. We have no control…..we think we do. But, truly, we don’t. I want to leave a mark somehow, some way. I have to find a way to worry less and love more. To be happy more and to give of myself more. To be more forgiving and less judgmental.

And the best day to start is now….the first day of the rest of my life.

Stranger at my Door

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Even when life is looking up, I still have a difficult time looking on the bright side. I could list 50 things going right, but I dwell on the 10 that are going wrong. That’s just me. That’s just my nature. No matter how hard I try to change, it feels like on a cellular level, that’s just who I am–just part of my DNA. I’m just never ENOUGH for anyone or anything. For myself.

I’m starting to compile my poetry for publication in a book. I’m over the moon excited about it, but as usual, my old friends, doubt and depression rear their ugly heads and I can’t seem to find a way to be happy about it. I have a job i like, but it’s still difficult for me to get out of bed most mornings and do my work. I have to force my feet onto the floor and force myself to sit down at my computer and do my daily duties. I’m still happily married and my husband is the greatest gift I’ve been given in my life, besides my sons. But, I always feel like I’m not good enough for him. Like he deserves so much better than this borderline, roller coaster, hurricane of a person that I am.

Stranger at My Door

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Allison Cline-Saia

I wonder if I would recognize happiness if she showed up on my doorstep

Like an old friend in faded jeans and a t-shirt

Holding a plate of cookies and a bottle of wine.

I hear the doorbell ring and slowly move the curtain

Peering  through the glass pane

She’s standing there with a face almost familiar.

Like someone I may have known in another time, another place

An old acquaintance perhaps?

A faded memory runs across my mind like an old movie reel.

I think I know her from somewhere long ago

In days of sandboxes and water sprinklers,

A time before I walked into the darkness.

Maybe she won’t see me standing there,

If I don’t answer, she’ll give up and stop trying

She’ll leave me alone and let me be.

A New Beginning

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He looked at me and kept walking. Too wound up in laughter and conversation with new friends to acknowledge Mom. A knife through the heart, yet a heart bursting with overwhelming pride and love.

So, was my day yesterday. My youngest son had college orientation–a 3 day event including scheduling, fun, and just getting to know his new home. We went to pick him up and pulled in front of the auditorium where he would be coming out. I wanted to walk with him to his dorm and help him pack up and come home. There he was, my boy, walking out among the other college freshman with wide eyes and wide smiles, knowing that this was the start of a new chapter in their lives. He was surrounded by a group of new friends, but the way they were chatting and smiling, you would have thought they knew each other forever. I yelled for him, so he knew we were there. He looked around, then kept walking, kept talking. My heart hurt. He was in a new city, but seemed completely unfazed and completely courageous.

We drove to his dorm. There he was standing outside, bags in hand, like an old pro. He jumped in my car with the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas morning, full of stories and excitement. He didn’t just like his new home, he LOVED his new home. “It’s kind of weird,” he said, “we come here and then go home and have to wait another 2 months to start college.” He wanted to be there now, no waiting. He was ready to fly my nest. His wings were dry and he wanted to soar. I just smiled.

It’s what we are supposed to do, isn’t it? We are supposed to nurture our children, give them the right tools to be successful adults, then send them on their way with encouragement, But, somehow when that time comes, we want to stop it. We want them safe at home where we can protect them from the ugliness of the world. But, it’s in the ugliness that they find their beauty. Things have to get messy sometimes in order to become harmonious. I wonder why it hurts so much when it’s what I always wanted. I wanted to raise 2 successful, creative, intelligent, funny, interesting citizens of the world. I wanted them to face life with enthusiasm and sheer abandon. And I did. I should be proud and happy and move on to this new phase in my life with a sense of adventure as what will come next, not just for them, but for me as well.

And I am….but it still aches. Aches for the little blonde boy picking up bugs in the yard and worried for their safety. Aches for the little redhead who loved Elmo and wanted to read every book he got his hands on. Aches for the blonde boy whose first word was “firetruck” and who insisted on becoming a vegetarian at age 5 and still is, by the way. Aches for the curly red-haired boy who asked the principal on the first day of Kindergarten, “Where’s the science lab?”

But those boys are still here, they are just in the guise of extraordinary men, ones ready to conquer the world. The blonde boy now shows me his visions through his lens, a lens that now captures the bugs and the firetrucks with a love that permeates and radiates through the photos he takes. The redhead that sits for hours on his computer, coding games and creating fantastical lands and creatures with that enormous creativity. They are still there and I am still their mom.

So, as they continue on their journeys on the streets of Pittsburgh and the walls of the Corcoran, they know I will always be their number one supporter, unconditionally and with my whole heart. In an odd twist of the universe, there is a bird’s nest on my front porch, inside a hanging basket. I’ve been watching it for the past 2 months, from egg to chick to bird. I watch the mom and dad hover over their babies, feeding them and squawking away at invaders. I watched as the babies began to grow and fight for space in the nest. Today, I looked out, as I do every morning and they were gone. They had left the nest. They were now soaring off to new adventures, creating their own lives. But, there was mom in the tree, chirping away as usual. Ready for her own adventure.

Thank You

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Once again I find myself in this unwanted position—the mother of a graduated senior. It feels like I was just here and now three short years later, I’m back here again…..for the last time. I’ve sat through my last parent/teacher conference, read my last report card, attended my last awards ceremony. The past week has been an emotional roller coaster. I’ve been happy one minute, a sobbing mess the next.

I’ve heard a lot of graduates talking about gratitude and thanking their parents and teachers for helping them get through the 13 years of school and supporting them all the way. As I sat at the Graduation ceremony, a few nights ago, I thought about how thankful I am to both my sons. So, I write this to them.

Dear Holden and Harrison,

I want to thank you. I know I should be soliciting gratitude from both of you. I mean, I did create you(well, I guess your dad helped). I did nurture you both for 9 months, through 2 high-risk pregnancies. I did spend excruciating hours trying to birth you into this world…..years of breast-feeding, late nights, bumps, bruises, hospital visits, temper tantrums, etc. etc. etc. Then, let’s not forget the 11+ years I home-schooled you both. Some days, I just wanted to send you to the principal’s office, but that wouldn’t have done much, would it?  Oh and all the money spent, time given, tears shed, did I mention money and tears? But, through all of this, there isn’t one moment I would change. Not one single tear, I would take back. Every second being your mom through the years has been a pleasure. It’s an honor being the mom to two such magnificent creatures.

Today, though, I want to thank YOU both. Thank you for showing me what unconditional love truly is. You taught me that I have a capacity to love that I never dreamed I had in me. You taught me to laugh more. Thank you for the laughter that was always around both of you…..from Holden’s squirrel friend to Harrison’s love of my credit cards(inside jokes), there was never a shortage of fun around the house.

Thank you for showing me how to be a nerd. I had always liked sci fi and all that geeky stuff, but you both opened me up to a whole new world of geekdom and I couldn’t be happier. I love watching tv with you, going to all those superhero movies(who likes those crappy rom-com’s anyway).

Warning: Mom is going to get serious now. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, for being the lights in my darkness. I know having a depressed, Borderline mom has not exactly been a walk in the park, I know. I know it’s been extremely difficult some days. I know it’s felt like Mom is crazy and the craziness was spilling over into you. But, it was never about you. It’s just me. Always has been. Always will be.

The days I couldn’t get out of bed. The meltdowns. The tears. The screams. When I was in the darkest recesses of those caves in my mind, there were these 2 points of light that always hovered around me. When I was on the edge, contemplating whether or not to jump, there was always something tugging on each of my legs, pulling me from the brink. That, my beautiful sons, was both of you. YOU saved ME.

The thought of not seeing those blue eyes. The thought of never hearing the word, “Mom”…..that is what pulled me back to reality. My reality. Not perfect, kind of broken, but MINE. You were my salvation. My saving grace. So, while I may have given you life. You returned the favor.

As you both continue on this journey of life, take with you my absolute gratitude. You made me want to be a better person. You made me want to survive. You made me want to live. Because, in giving you life…I found mine.

I love you both to the moon and back times infinity.

Love, MOM

A Boy’s Passion

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I just finished my 2-year term as Poet Laureate of my town. A very distinguished title, huh? I’ve always written poetry, it’s another form of expressing myself. In fact, sometimes it’s the only way I know of expressing myself. My youngest son is turning 17 next month. One more year left and he, too, will be flying the coop. His passion is photography. When I watch him get so excited about what he does, it makes me so happy that my “baby” has found his place. I was inspired to write this one by watching him watch the world.

 Second Sight



He sees the world through his looking glass—

With all its unseen magical shapes and colors—

Bringing life to the torpid….

The concavity molds to his eye.

Full of the curiosity of the little boy of yesterday

And all the promise and hope of the man he is becoming,

He creates art.

 

Each flash of the shutter captures a microsecond of time

A small moment that is his and his alone—

He creates a new perspective—

One full of vision and clarity: a multi-faceted brilliance.

As he creates this world around him with his lens,

I wonder if he realizes that’s what he did for me.

He made me see the world as a brighter place.

 

My boy. My guy. My young man. My son.

I watch him as he watches the world.

I see him transform the mundane into the magnificent.

I watch the spectacle of him and see the glimmer in his eye—

The blue glint behind the blonde hair—

That sees beauty in every aspect of life.

He is a work of art.