Fluidity

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I went to the water to find peace–

somewhere in the waves,

where the sun fades and the noise becomes hollow.

 

I went to the water to find resilience–

like the aqua liquidity bending and shaping

to whatever it encounters.

 

I went to the water to find a sense of permanence–

like the lasting effect of years upon years of continuous movement,

that leaves its mark on all it touches.

 

I went to the water to find something, anything–

grasping for something concrete to hold onto

or finally letting go forever.

 

I went to the water to find comfort—

but in between the droplets, I found myself.

 

Graduation

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As my son approaches the last week of classes for his freshman year at college, I look back over all the changes he’s made this year. He started this past fall as a scared, awkward, immature teenage boy, but he is coming home a man. I am so very proud of all he accomplished and all the growth he has shown this past year. It was so difficult for me to let him go. But, I needed for him to find his own wings and his own strong legs to stand on and be the amazing man I always knew he would be. There were rough times. Times when I would go in his bedroom and smell a t-shirt, just to feel closer to him. Times I would look through photo albums to the little boy he was and mourn my loss of his youth. But, more than that—-there were times of extreme pride. He made Dean’s List his very first semester. He found a tight circle of friends. He learned to do his own laundry and be responsible for himself. He sends me messages to tell me how much he misses me and how much he knows that who he is now is because of me and some sacrifices I made for him. He tells me he loves me more now than he ever did before. Guess what? He appreciates me in a whole new way. And so, our relationship has grown to this whole new level. I’m not there so much for nurturing anymore, as I am there as a confidante, a friend, a support system. We’ve both graduated to a new level as a parent and as a son. It’s quite an astonishing feeling.

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This is a poem I wrote for him on his high school graduation day. In honor of my son, I want to share it with you.

Song for My Son

by

Allison Cline-Saia

Here he comes

All scarlet rings framing pure alabaster

Towering gallantly like the strong Oak

The little boy shining through the blue depths

A little boy who was never really little.

Exceptional from the start

Setting off a maternal need I never knew existed

He came gently into my world and taught me more than I could ever teach him

From his first steps to these steps towards the Osaka sun

He cuts his own path, coloring his way with his own crayon.

I’ve always tried to hold his hand with steady restraint

Not too tight, always present

He became his own man before he could tie his shoes

Full of spitfire and boundless curiosity

Infuriating, inspiring.  Maddening, marvelous.

As he flies off on his own trajectory,

I hope he remembers that as long as I have breath

He has a home wherever I am

I am his one constant in life, giver and sustainer

My boy becomes a man.

 

 

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.

Forever 21?

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I was browsing one of those cool young women’s stores. You know the ones? Where the sizes are small, tiny, and minuscule? I kept seeing stuff I liked. Skirts. Cool, stylish dresses. Adorable summer shirts. But, I knew at my size I couldn’t even fit an arm in them if I tried. And then I noticed her. She seemed to follow me wherever I went, always looking me up and down. Then, I stopped for a minute to find out just what this middle-aged woman wanted with me. Then, it hit me. That overweight, middle-aged woman wasn’t stalking me. That woman WAS me.

In my head, I’m still in my 20’s. I look at clothing in these stylish young people’s stores and think “Oh, yeah” that would be great, if only I could lose those 50 pounds I’ve been struggling with. But, on this day, I realized even with a 50 pound weight loss, those young, fun things will never be me again. I’m 40. Those days are over. I am no longer that young, trendy girl I use to be. I am a mature woman with one son in college, one about to turn 17. I have a mortgage,  a house, a career, aging parents…..dare i say it?  Responsibilities.

This past year, as I have written in previous blogs, has been filled with so many life changes. Entire house remodel, which meant moving back in with my aging parents. Son going off to college. Health issues. Dealing with a parent’s onset of dementia. It’s been a rough one to say the least. But, with a phenomenal support system of a husband, I’ve dealt with it. Well, almost all of it. But, something keeps feeling ‘off’. I literally cry at the drop of a hat. I sit and pour over old photos. I thought it was the loss of my boys that was doing it. My eldest has flourished at college. I guess the mom in me was hoping he would be a bit more helpless, that he would call on mom a bit more than he has this year. But, I’m thrilled that he has become his own man. My youngest is now 16 and a junior. He wants nothing to do with his mom anymore. He want independence. In fact, I’ve been told, in not so many words, that I embarrass him. So, I am no longer needed as a parent on a daily, nurturing basis. But, on this particular day in this trendy store, I had one of those “A-Ha” moments that Oprah is always spouting off about. I wasn’t mourning the loss of my boys’ youth. I was mourning the loss of mine.

Yes, of course, our children growing up is difficult for any parent. I realize that is part of my problem. But, It’s more about what their maturation means to my mortality. I have so much left I want to do with my life and I feel like I’m running out of time. I guess the only one who can change the course of that is me. It’s time to get busy living, or get busy dying.

 

“It Goes On”

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It goes on

Robert Frost once wrote: “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life—It goes on.” These words hit particularly close to home for me lately. As I have mentioned in previous columns, this has been an incredibly eventful summer. My personal businesses have picked up a great deal, we are doing a total house remodel, and my eldest son is getting ready to move away from home for college. There have been many highs and numerous lows. Days of boundless hope and sleepless nights of dread. But, you know what? Each one of those dark nights turn into sun-filled mornings and yes, as Frost says, life goes on.

Our lives are all like that. That is part of the interconnectedness of being human—we take one step forward and the universe pushes us two steps back sometimes. But, we go on. Our lives change and we wonder how we are going to get through the bad times. We worry when the good times will end. But, somehow, we get through it. Life isn’t meant to be understood, it’s meant to be lived. Living our lives to the fullest extent of our ability is all we can really do each day. I sit here wondering what the future will hold for my son, about to embark on a new path in life. An exciting future awaits him.

But, I keep dwelling on what awaits me: an empty bedroom, an empty chair at my dinner table, less laundry in my washer, an empty space in my life. But, I am so proud of who he is and what he can do for this world. He’s been my pride for so many years and it has made me selfish. It is time to share him with the world. But, letting go is difficult isn’t it? Whether it be letting go of a child off to college, letting go of a long-standing grudge or a bad habit. But, change is inevitable and if we don’t bend, we break.

Sometimes it’s difficult to give words of wisdom to my son, when thinking about him not being around all the time makes me want to crawl in bed and cover my head for a few days. Yes, he will come home for breaks, but there is something fundamentally changing in my life. It’s a new stage in both our lives and I’m trying to find a way to cope with that. Of course, as always, I find solace in the written word. I find help in the words of poets far greater than I could ever hope to be. I recently reread a poem by Rudyard Kipling called “If”.

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;

If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,

if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

While life has gotten in the way of my creativity in recent months, it seems the more emotional I get, the more the words start to flow. As I was helping my son pack this morning, a few lines of a poem came to me and I sat down and wrote for the first time in a while.

Bricks

I filled the trunk with his things—towels, washcloths, sheets, an iron

And my mind flashbacked to picking up Lego and putting them back in the huge toy box.

I used to curse those little pieces of plastic—

They hurt my bare feet and got caught in my vacuum cleaner.

The gifted redhead who was never really a child in the conventional sense…..

Tall, advanced, precocious, full of wonder and attitude.

A true stereotypical redhead to the core.

I used to think to myself, “I can’t wait till he’s through with these things.”

“I can’t wait till my living room isn’t filled with multi-colored landmines.”

Where did the time go?

He would spend hours building —-

Trucks, spaceships, pterodactyls, castles—

Brick by brick with steadfast hands.

Now, the Lego box sits a few feet away from the college bound trunk—

The little boy, now not quite a man sits between the two.

Caught between youth and adulthood, ready to fly on wet wings.

Ready to build a future with the solid bricks of his past.

So, no matter what happens, no matter what the universe has in store for both of us, life will go on. We will both change and get used to this new environment, this new ‘normal”.

Safe Flight

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The skies looked a bit stormy for a while. Dark shadows rolled across the sky and you could see rain clouds in the distance. He wasn’t worried. I was worried enough for both of us. But, when the time came for take-off, the blueness opened up above us and beautiful cotton clouds filled the sky. I stared through the metal fence, wanting to climb over the barbed wire and onto the runway. I wanted to grab his hand like I used to when he would wander a bit too far. But, the taxiing had begun…..there was no turning back. Sure, he hit a few bumps along the way, but all in all the take-off was smooth and off he went into the wide open sky. My baby’s first steps to becoming a pilot.

I’m having a “mom crisis” of late. As my last post said, I have one son venturing off to college in seven weeks and my youngest, Harrison, is getting his wings, literally and figuratively. I’m usually not like this. I was never an emotional mom. I wasn’t one of those hovering moms when they were toddlers. But, as they age, I’ve gotten worse. I see them becoming these strong, independent young men and all I want to do is bring them home to make cookies and binge on Disney movies. I want to tuck them into their bunk-beds and get perturbed at 3 in the morning when one of them yells for mom. I miss the days of Tom and Jerry and Legos digging in my feet.

Then, today my youngest passed his driver’s permit test. Just one more cog in the wheel that carries him onto adulthood. I’m trying very hard to do that tightrope balancing act we moms do. Don’t hold too tight……don’t let them fall too hard. As I sat in the pilot’s lounge on Sunday, waiting for my son to land, I kept thinking back to the times when he was a child. He always seemed to need me more than my eldest. I remember a night when he was barely a year old. I woke at 2 AM to the sound of a screaming child. Harrison was in bed with me, as I was still breast feeding and when I got up to turn on the light, all I saw was blood…on the wall, on the floor, all over his face as he lied screaming on the floor next to me. One trip to the E.R. and some stitches followed. I felt like such a horrible mom. How could I let my baby fall out of bed?

Fast forward two years and he and his brother were playing in my room, when I heard a loud thud and a scream. Another trip to the E.R. and an arm sling for two months for a broken shoulder bone. Again, terrible mom. When he was 10 and a very good competitive swimmer, he was having some issues with a swelling, blue arm. This turned out to be Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and he had to have rib removal surgery at Johns Hopkins. Seeing him lying helpless on a gurney while an anesthesiologist put my baby to sleep was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. But, he pulled through it like a champ. Like he always had.

Add to all these things, the speech problems….recurring ear infections…..OCD and general anxiety diagnosis…..severe depression and intensive psychotherapy……and I think it’s obvious why I’ve grown into this neurotic mother who wants to follow him around just in case he needs me. But, now that we are in the teenage years, he doesn’t need me. Or should I say, he doesn’t WANT to need me. He wants to be the pilot of his life and I’m pretty much grounded to be the guy who pulls the plane into the hangar once the flight is over. I don’t even get a co-pilot seat anymore.

It’s a funny thing to watch this person that you gave birth to, nourished with your own body, bathed, changed their diaper,  become a man. I want to shelter him, but I want him to grow and find his wings. I want to save him from hurt, but I know that hurt brings change and growth. I look at him sometimes and I still see that beautiful little blonde boy smiling out from the teenage face. How did time go so fast? How did my little guy become this amazing young man? I take pride in the man he has become, but I miss that little boy who needed his mom. So, for now, I’ll be a silent backseat pilot. One who can reach over and help steer when the skies get rough, but will be along for the ride no matter what.

Doors

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1015780_4966303596835_1854643420_oI sat here for about ten minutes this morning, staring at my boys’ closed bedroom doors. My eldest was in his room getting dressed to go to the doctor. My youngest was still asleep, reaping the benefits of summer vacation. I kept staring at these doors, thinking about how in the very near future, Holden’s door will stay permanently closed while he’s at college. Then, two years later, a repeat with Harrison. I’ve been very nostalgic lately. I think it’s the fact that during this whole remodeling process, I’ve had to take into consideration that my guys are older and needs change. Holden got the smaller bedroom, because his full-time days at home are dwindling. Harrison wanted his bedroom in a certain place for more privacy.

Yesterday, at Holden’s college orientation, each speaker commented on how a new chapter is beginning in our students’ lives. The VP of Student Affairs even said, “Close the door on your students’ childhood and open the door to the next phase in their lives.”  They spoke over and over about how they are now adults and we should treat them as such. That’s difficult for a parent, isn’t it? It’s such a fine line we walk between letting them fly, even though they may fall off that branch once or twice. And holding their hand so nothing bad happens to them and we are there to break the fall. I’ve tried to give my boys a firm runway for their take-off into adulthood.  But, you never really know, do you? Will they remember the things I taught them? Will they succumb to peer pressure and make stupid decisions? I have eight short weeks to come to terms with sending my eldest off into the world.  The boy who has been a dichotomy since birth. The one that INFURIATES me to no end, yet makes me so proud that I feel like I’m going to burst at the seams.

When I got pregnant with Holden, I was a scared college student with no desire for kids….at all. I had a horrible pregnancy and very serious health issues. When they finally decided to take him a few weeks early, because of my deadly high blood pressure, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen with him. It was a scary time. But, from day one, I knew he was different. He never cried. He never wanted to sleep. He wasn’t a bad baby, just liked to sit and look around all the time. Since this was my first experience, I wasn’t sure if this was abnormal or not, but my mom and my pediatrician assured me that he was fine. As soon as he could sit up and then crawl around, he would explore. He would take things apart and just stare at them. He seemed so aware at such a young age. Then, the growth spurt happened. He got huge….fast!  I also noticed slight oddities in his behavior from early on, he would tug at the feet of his footy pj’s constantly and at his long sleeves. so, I bought short sleeve shirts and threw out the pj’s with the feet in. He would sit with books at age 18 months and I would swear he understood them. Then, at age 2 1/2, while driving down the road, out of nowhere, he started reading the road signs. Now, when your two and a half year old son, in a car seat starts reading to you…..well, let’s just say, it’s amazing I didn’t crash my car.

When we got home, I gave him some of his books, just toddler books with short sentences, and he read them to me. I was gobsmacked. I started schooling him a few weeks later. We did math and reading, spelling, history and science. He was a virtual sponge, soaking it all up and retaining. Around the age of 4, he went to pre-school and could read to the students. They started picking on him, so he stopped. I bought a 5th grade workbook one day, just to test him. He got about 85% of the questions correct. His pre-school teacher was exasperated and, to be honest, not helpful at all, because Holden was so far out of the norm, that she had no idea what to do with him. I enrolled him in Kindergarten, but knew I was in trouble when on orientation night, he walked over to his new teacher and asked, “Could you please tell me where the laboratory is?”  Needless to say, public school Kindergarten lasted 3 weeks. His school recommended he be put into third grade, but I refused and brought him home to be home-schooled.

I took him to a child psychiatrist and he was diagnosed as profoundly gifted with an off the charts IQ. The doctor told me that Holden would have as hard a time in the “real world” as someone with mental retardation would. He also thought Holden had Asperger’s and recommended further testing. We were short on funds at the time, so we never took the money to pursue that diagnosis. But, as the years have rolled on, I see more and more signs that there is, indeed, something just not right with that amazing brain of his.

And that is where I struggle most. I struggle, because when you look at him and his 6’9″ frame….yes, he really is that big!! You would think that he was far beyond his years, both physically and mentally. But, then, when you live with him, you see this childlike behavior that just never goes away, even now that he is 18. He can do the hardest math problem in the world, but can’t figure out how to open his new closet doors. He can explain string theory to me as a five year old, but couldn’t figure out how to ties his shoelaces until he was 12. He truly is a walking, living, breathing dichotomy. So, how do I as his mom close that door on his childhood, when I see the child in him still? My husband tells me that I need to let him become a man and if he falls, he falls. That we will be there to help him pick up the pieces, but he needs to do it on his own. I get that, but it feels like it will be impossible for me to do. How will I sit here three hours from him and not worry? Not wonder if his clothes match? If he’s not wearing his shorts and sandals in a blizzard? That the other students aren’t making fun or taking advantage of the oddities that make him Holden? I guess, in my own time, I will learn to cope. I will learn how to live behind these new closed doors and how to look into the new one that’s now opening, just a crack, and see the light pouring through.