Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Mother First....Please

A week or so ago I created a post on Face Book. And in that post I was mullygrubbing about my children no longer needing me, calling me when they got good and darn ready, and reminiscing about how much I used to love to read to my children and mistakenly thought, they would still, always need me the same way.

My post received many comments. All alike comments. Mothers all, needing and wanting the same thing. To be wanted. Still.

One of the comments was from my friend Penny Riley. She was joining the conversation, relaying memories of how her oldest son Gabe had treated her for a time in his life, and how she, had treated her mother as a teenager.

Gabe was taken Home July before last. A hero lost as a casualty of war. Immediately upon reading Penny's post, my entire body came to attention, and the ridiculousness of my whining was front and center in my mind.

My next post was dedicated to Penny and her Gabe, and my reality check. What would happen next, as a result of that second post, would bring me to my knees again. This time in shame, stupidity, and great respect. Penny would post again, this time to my private in box. This is the post, not the message in it's entirety, but the most important part of her words follow next:

"Hey Sister, I saw your reply to my post and I just want to say please don't think I was trying to do anything other than still be Gabe's Mom and talk about him like always. I was not trying to teach a lesson. Please, please, please don't think that! We all know you adore your boys the way I do and the other Moms here do theirs. I was just trying to be part of the Mom conversation, to make me feel normal again. Luke hasn't gotten to the stage where he doesn't need me, but Gabe did several years ago, so that's the experience I was drawing on. I'm still his Mom. But I keep putting my foot in my mouth when I try to relate my mothering experiences. Does this make sense? I hope I didn't offend you. I was just trying to say we have all been through this (if the kid is old enough), and that we all support you and understand how sad that "not needed" feeling is when you are the one feeling it. It burns!! Anyway, I love you and I wanted to give back some support you have given me."

How do you come back from the death of a child and ever feel normal again? How do you sit with all of your friends at Ruby Tuesday's for lunch, talking about your children, your life, laughing and talking, when one of your children is no longer living? How do you ever feel 'normal' again. And how in the world can you ever forget the pain and loss, when people like me, keep reminding you that you're different now, and you will never be the same? When the conversation becomes hushed because someone realizes we're laughing about our children and good times, we think you can't, and we change the subject and leave you out.

How does Penny make people understand, she NEEDS to be normal again. She needs to be able to get mad at the child who is still living when he misbehaves without feeling guilty. She needs to be able to have a bad day and lash out at Luke without worrying will those be her last words. She needs to be able to punish Luke when he makes a bad grade or cuts class, without wondering if she's being too hard, just because she can't discipline Gabe anymore. And for goodness sakes, she desperately needs to be able to laugh and talk with all of her friends, re-live the memories she has of Gabe, and the ones she is making with Luke, just like every other Mom at the table in Ruby Tuesday's.  And she needs to be able to give advice, without people begging her pardon for being a burden when asking.

Penny, you have been a gift to us all. And I know you don't want to be that gift all the time. But God picks no one lightly. Whether he's taking them Home or leaving them here. I guess it's not for us to know why he chose Gabe that day. But in turn, he gave you to all of us. All of us mothers with children of whom some days we just can't see the light. All of us mothers, some of whom have also lost children. And all of us mothers, who have reached out to you, for comfort, when their own hero's have been taken home. Mothers who are trying to re-build their lives and need your help.

Forgive me for reminding you that day, of something, some days, you would rather not have to remember. Forgive me for not allowing you to be the wonderful mother you are, and instead making you feel as if you must grieve forever. You are Gabe's mom and you are Luke's mom, always. Please feel free to sit with us any time at Ruby Tuesday's and tell us a funny story, a mad story, or a loving memory story. We would love to have another Mom at our table full of Moms just wanting to be ....a Mom.

copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Eat, Talk, and Talk Some More

As we sat around the breakfast bar this morning, and I listened to the Sunday morning ramblings, my mind drifted back to the Sunday mornings of long ago.

When I was growing up, both of my parents worked for a living. During the week, no matter how tired my mom was, we almost always had a sit down supper. The stopping for take out food was so rare, I barely even remember it.

Breakfast before school was cereal of some kind, and a nasty chewable vitamin. I ate the cereal and tossed the vitamin to the base of the old pecan tree in our back yard. That tree should live to be a million years old. Saturday mornings were pretty causal for breakfast too, as that was yard and house cleaning day.

Sunday morning breakfast. Now that was a big deal. Whether we all sat down together any other time or not, we sat down together on Sunday mornings. Both my Mama and my Daddy were great cooks, so it alternated who would be the chef each week.  We would have all kinds of different variations of breakfast. My Daddy liked to cook fried eggs, bacon and real cut up french fried potatoes. I believe my Mama's favorite was oatmeal , the real kind, not that one minute box mess, with condensed milk and sugar added in and pattied sausage.

My Daddy was never one for table chitter chatter, but on Sunday mornings, we were allowed to talk a little bit. And when I use the word 'allowed' that's what I mean. Food tables when I was growing up were for eating, not talking.  Weekday supper times, he was tired from his day and there was usually NO talking. And of course absolutely no laughing allowed. Which was always invariably when, I would get a fit of the giggles for one reason or another. Which rarely turned out good for me.

Times change. Or maybe just people change and/or are different. But my eating tables have always been the place to unite. The place for us to talk about what we're going to do today, what we did today, and any major subjects that happen to be the topic of that time. There are no limits set for laughter. As a matter fact, after my hard days at work, I welcome the jokes and laughter. I welcome the diversion from the daily grind.

Sunday morning breakfast in our house, is the best meal of all. We're all rested from the week behind us, our Saturday's of yard work and house work are done, and we've had a good night's rest with a little sleep in time to boot. I cook a big meal and we all sit down together. This morning I cooked oatmeal and pattied sausage for me and Zach, and fried eggs, pattied sausage and toast for Mims. As I watched Zach eat his oatmeal, the thoughts of years ago started rolling though my mind.

As he took his spoon and ran it around the edge of the oatmeal on his plate, I remembered teaching him how to do that when he was a little boy, and the oatmeal was too hot to eat from the middle. Because as my Mama had taught me, the edges were cooler, so take your spoon like a train and go around the edges as you ate.

Our conversation rolled and rolled. Zach has been sick for a few days and he slept a great deal yesterday evening after his work day was done. Got up for a little while last night, and went right back to bed around 10:30 and slept until 10am this morning. His daddy was asking him how in the heck he slept so much. I said he needed it, and Zach barely looking up from his plate, as he was winding his spoon around the outer edges of the oatmeal said, "by shutting my mouth and closing my eyes".  We all busted out laughing, as Mims words came right back to him, just ....that....quick.  We talked about the flooding rains that were surely coming today and whether he had any business riding the roads, because he was asking to go to Matt's today to hang out. 

The breakfast dishes are done, his bed has been made, and he's on his way to Matt's now, with the promise of a call once he gets there. Because it is indeed, flooding rain.  I believe in family meals. I believe in talk and laughter at the table. And for the nights I am just too tired or my mouth has run out of words, I still love listening to Zach's chatter about his rougher than usual football practices, the crazy chemistry experiments, the new boy named Tom he tagged with the nickname Penutt (spelled wrong on purpose he says), something funny Andy "Tater" Taylor said,  and what he thinks is making his truck make that weird sound.

Cherish those time folks. Cherish the good food we can afford to eat and the good times we must afford to spend with our loved ones. Whoever they are, your kids if they are still at home, or your spouse, if everyone else is gone and scattered. Don't lose yourselves in silence and call it comfortable. Taking the time to make conversation is taking the time to show your interest and love. And we all want to know, that what we have to say and how we feel, is something someone is waiting to hear.

copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Never Accept No When Nothing But Yes Will Do

The story you are about to read is a true story. Well, all my stories are true stories. But this story is about never giving up. Never backing down. Fighting for what you believe in. And if it means enough, not taking no for an answer.

When I was in high school, my Daddy set out to teach me about sports. The ins and outs, the rules, and the sports 'speak'.   His mantra was, no matter what type of job you maybe have as an adult, if you knew and understood sports, you could stand in any group and hold your own in a conversation. And there it was, how I was to spend every weekend, the year I turned fifteen years old.

I fought it tooth and nail. But he was relentless. So as any smart person would, to make myself feel good about it, at the beginning of the season, I picked a team to follow. The first sport was baseball, and I picked the New York Yankees. Catfish Hunter was the pitcher and he was awesome. Reggie Jackson was Mr. October, and we went to the World Series that year. The same year their catcher, Thurman Munson, was killed in a helicopter accident during the playoffs. Everyone wore black arm bands in memory during the series. They played Steve Garvey, Ron Cey and the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Yankees won the World Series that year. Ok Baseball, I was hooked.

Football season came along, and I picked Roger Staubach and the Dallas Cowboys. They played the Pittsburgh Steelers and Mean Joe Greene in the Super Bowl and lost. I cried. But again, I was hooked, this time on Football.

My dad was not a big basketball fan, so I was not force fed that sport. To this day, it's not particularly one of my favorites. I understand it, and I played it in Jr High, but that is as far as my interest goes.

Now to really understand my love for sports, you would have had to have lived with my Daddy, David Mount. We are not fit for public fans. We scream, we holler, and we stand in front of the television flailing our arms, do a lot of name calling, a little trash talking, grabbing the sides of our heads, banging on armchairs, and stomping our feet. Ranting plays to the coaches on the screen and threatening referees as if they can hear us. We are a mighty loud and rowdy bunch and more times than not, wore slap out once the game is over. Not to mention the restraint that is necessary when we are in public and cheering for our favorite teams.  That's still a work in progress.

The cooler weather weekends were filled with crock pots of homemade chili, homemade soups and stews, plenty of hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, fried hamburgers and all the other foods that go with weekends filled with sports.

As the years would pass, I never missed a Super Bowl or a World Series. Even if my team was not present, I would pick a team through the playoffs and follow them to the end. Cheering them on as if they were my pick from the beginning of the season. You have to do that don't you? You can't not watch the World Series or the Super Bowl just because you're team isn't playing..right?

When I moved to Quincy Florida, I moved into a beautiful old country house outside of the city limits. Which meant, no cable for me. Satellite would be necessary. I had my service with Dish Network hooked up the second week I was here so my kids could get the Disney Channel. First crisis over.

Sometime into about my fourth year living here, Dish sent out a letter stating some of the users would be losing service to certain stations due to regulated laws. I didn't pay much attention to my letter, because in my mind, I had no choice. Cable lines were not coming to my area anytime soon.  Well, evidently, somebody at Dish Network thought I had a choice and they removed some of my major access channels.

I came home one week before the playoffs for the World Series was to start, with no Fox Channel. And my Yankees were in the playoffs. On the Fox Channel. This was not going to work. I started with the normal calls you would make, to Dish Network and such. Talked to about 42 people with no positive results. I told them they could not include people like me in their "sweep" as they called it, because I did not choose to NOT have cable, I could not GET cable. And to penalize me was unfair. By the time I got to person number 42, I was ranting about the World Series, how I had never missed one and I was not starting now.

Somewhere during mid rant, the Dish Representative stopped me. Now,  I am into the next week by this time. The playoffs have started and I am watching them from my then boyfriend, now husbands house every night. The representative, tired of hearing me, said, if I could get the cable representative from the local television station in Tallahassee to write a letter stating cable was not available for me in my area they would reinstate those channels. Finally, someone is listening to me!

After another deluge of calls and speaking to person after person, I was finally was hooked up with the VP of the local station in Tallahassee. He listened to my story and half way though, HE stopped me. He asked me what team I was pulling for in the Playoffs and World Series. Well now, I wondered if this was a trick question, and if I answered it wrong, would I be out of help for good.  I buckled down and answered the very Southern sounding man (as was I ) and told him the New York Yankees. He said, well, that's good and bad news. Too bad, that's your team, because they aren't going to win, and good , that you're a loyal enough fan to admit they're your team anyway.

He agreed to write the letter and send it to Dish. The next night, Dish was calling me to walk me through my hook-up and reboot of the Fox network, and I was able to watch Game Three of the playoffs in my own home forty minutes into the game.  I was whooping and hollering...and of course my kids thought I had lost my mind.

My daddy always taught me, you can do anything and get anything if you want it bad enough. But you have to believe in your cause enough to see it to the end.

I live in the city now, so cable is not a problem. My favorite seasons are beginning, baseball is headed towards the playoffs and football is just beginning. The only fight on my hands now, is who gets to hold the remote, and who watches what on the big TV, and who goes to the bedroom to watch the smaller one. I'm pretty easy, I could care less, just as long as I get to see the World Series and the Super Bowl from one television or another in my own home, and not the neighbors house down the street.

copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims