You Are My Sunshine

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You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

You make me happy when skies are grey

You never know, dear, how much I love you

Please don’t take my sunshine away

 

Dear God,

It’s me again….the one who prayed for my boy when he was in his first Little League Game. I begged you not to let them stop the game so he could tie his sneakers. We both knew he couldn’t, and he was so excited to have his turn at bat. “Please, God. Let him have his moment.” I have turned to You many times in the ten years since that day, but today I am praying for Your intervention and guidance in a way I never have before.

My child is older now, tangled in limbo somewhere between a boy and a man. Each day, with each moment, and every misguided step, a little more of that happy smile I could always count on slips away. With every disappointment and every misperceived “failure”, another part of his heart grows dim. I ask you, Lord, to help me help him find his light.

 

Help me help him find the strength to keep trying.

Help me help him find the faith to keep believing.

Help me help him find the desire to persevere.

 

My boy has asked me many times to give up on him because he has given up on himself. I have not, nor ever will. I continue to fight for him, even when that pits me against the boy himself. I have argued, begged, cried, and bargained to encourage him to move forward. I have been to meetings and police stations. I have been to counselors and court houses. I have made compromises and promises, always with the end goal in mind. Today, that goal seems farther and farther away.

 

Help me help him find the right path.

Help me help him understand something better is waiting for him.

Help me help him desire the better days that are just out of reach.

 

Most of all, I ask You to protect my boy. I fear he will seek ways to relieve his pain and enmesh himself in situations that will further shatter his already broken spirit. Please help me, Lord because I am feeling just as broken as is my precious son.

 

 

Moved to Tears

Do movies, songs, or other forms of artistic expression easily make you cry? Tell us about a recent tear-jerking experience!

Back to School

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Somewhere in the moments between July and August, there is a shift. It’s almost imperceptible, yet parents and children feel it. The laid-back vibe of summer becomes replaced with an anticipatory Back to School environment. It’s seasonal, cyclical, and unavoidable. “Back to School” sales explode in every medium like proverbial rabbits. Somewhere in the moments between August and September, school resumes, engaging entire populations in the annual ritual.

When my children were very young, this was a time of celebration. It was tradition that we hosted “Back to School” parties. Friends and family would gather for elaborate meals complete with cakes made to resemble school buses or chalkboard. The date of the first day was emblazoned with icing on top of the cake. New backpacks filled with colorful pencils, fresh boxes of crayons, and goofy character notebooks were set by the door. First Day outfits were carefully selected and laid out, next to an unblemished pair of shoes. Printed signs labelled with a name, grade, teacher, and school year were taped to the wall, ready for the child to hold in the obligatory photo. After a big breakfast, we would march to the bus stop, cameras, and supplies in hand. Calls of “Have a great day,” as the children boarded the bus were followed by waving parents as the bus drove out of sight. It was a special day.

As my children reached Middle School, the pre-first day party continued, although in a slightly altered manner. Elaborate meals were replaced with pizza and the chalkboard cake. Calculators and ipods joined the backpack ensemble. First day outfits were self-selected and sometimes vetoed. The printed signs were grudgingly held by preteens who managed a smile after several photos. Shoes were important. Memories of shoe shopping still haunt me. Requests not to accompany the children to the bus stop were honored, although I did threaten to join them still dressed in my jammies more than once. Calls of “Have a great day,” were often answered with “K, Mom.”  Alone at last, it was a special day.

High school brought a scaled down version of the Back to School party. It shrunk to the children and us. Pasta, or whatever we happened to prepare, was the cuisine du jour. Long gone were the school bus and chalkboard cakes. The annual photo was taken in the first few years, but have since faded. Car keys and cell phones were paired with with a single notebook and pen. Excitement still filled the air, but with a slightly different tone. “This is my last first day of high school.” Although a bit melancholy, it was a special day.

The past few years ushered in a change as my two older children went off to college. Back to school shopping included new bedding, lamps, and hampers, in addition to the classroom supplies. The Back to School party took on a new life with the extended family gathering together again to send off all our college students. Each year, my parents prepare huge dinners, complete with cake. We spend a night filled with laughter and reminiscing as we face this new phase together. Calls of “Have a great year” are met with hugs and “I love you, Mom.” It is a special day.

While I can hardly believe all these years have passed, I remember each and every celebration. My babies are growing up and becoming young adults. Somewhere along the line, a shift occurred. They are growing older, as am I. It’s seasonal, cyclical, and unavoidable, and each day is still special.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/august-blues/

Handmade Tales – Homemade Mozzarella

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     We had a small, intimate wedding in our backyard. It was a family affair with everyone pitching in to help. My daughters were my bridesmaids, and my young nephew was the ring bearer. My son gave me away.

We practiced marching down the aisle as my dad pretended to officiate. Accompanied by the music of Michael Buble, we sashayed through my parents’ garden, giggling with every step. Everyone participated with enthusiastic anticipation.

Because my husband Mark is a chef, the food was very important to him. He created the menu, testing every recipe, and tweaking it until it was just right. The entire family delighted in being official taste-testers. As we gathered in the kitchen,  Mark announced that we were all going to make the mozzarella. The children, especially the younger ones, looked at him, confused.

     “What do you mean, Uncle Mark? You can’t make mozzarella. You buy it.”

     He smirked and began plunking the ingredients on the counter – water, kosher salt, cheese curd.

     “Ewww! What is that? It looks gross!”

     He ignored them as he put the largest aluminum bowl we’d ever seen on the counter.  As he dumped the curd into the bowl, the kids wrinkled their noses and came closer. We watched him pour warm water into the bowl as he explained what would happen next. He described the particular texture we were waiting for, and told us we all had an important job coming up.

     After a bit, he drained the water and replaced it with hot water.  Plunging his hand in the steaming bowl, he began manipulating the large white mass that was beginning to form, as my mother and sister watched over his shoulder.

     “See how I’m stretching it?” He turned to my family. “Your turn.”

      Everyone had a turn, including my youngest nephew,  our little ring bearer. “Look at me, Uncle Mark. Mine came out good.”

     After we taste-tested a good portion of the freshly made mozzarella, we cleaned up and put the remaining cheese away, leaving it for the reception dinner.

     Our wedding was a beautiful, family affair, and all the children made sure to let the guests know, they had made the mozzarella.

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http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/handmade-tales/

Halloween and Hospitals

Another essay pulled from the shelf. This was written about my daughter in 2005.

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It’s just after 5:30 on Halloween. I should be home getting my kids ready to go trick-or-treating. Instead, I’m on the seventh floor of the children’s hospital, listening to various machines hum and beep. My daughter was rushed here by ambulance yesterday morning with a severe asthma attack. She’s better today than she was yesterday, and she’s even starting to regain some of her sarcastic humor, so I know she’s feeling better.

Being in the hospital is never a good experience, but being in the children’s hospital on a holiday is surreal. They had a parade today on the floor. Doctors and nurses dressed in costumes walked beside children of various ages and in various conditions, and tried to make it festive. They invited my daughter several times, but she decided to watch from her bed. She’s being a good sport about missing all the fun. Her siblings and cousins promised to save lots of candy. I think she knows she’s just not up to it.

Her dad came to visit today so I had a chance to go outside for a minute. I’ve been struggling to keep things together in front of my daughter, so a few minutes alone was a blessing. As I sat on the curb of the parking lot, I saw a swarm of ladybugs. Really odd for almost November, but I decided to take it as a good sign.

We’re not going home tonight. We might be able to go home tomorrow, but everything depends on my daughter being able to breathe freely for extended periods of time without the huge doses of meds she’s on. Hopefully tomorrow will bring good news. We’re both ready to go home.

 

Michele Vecchitto

Dance With Your Children

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Dance: to leap, skip, etc., as from excitement or emotion; move nimbly or quickly: to dance with joy.

We recently moved, and months later, I’m still unpacking and sorting boxes of memories. I pulled out some old cds today as I worked,  and as soon as I hit “play,” images of times gone by flooded my mind. My private listening party transported me to a time long-buried beneath the layers of chaos that now invade daily life.  Snippets of memories, and pulses of emotion rushed through my body as I listened to the soundtrack of my past.

When my children were young, we danced in the kitchen.  We danced. I would put the music on loud – disturb the neighbors, unapologetically boisterous,  feel it in your bones,  loud. All I had to do was put the stereo on,  crank up the volume, and wait. In moments, they would come.  My kids, their cousins, and their friends would appear in the kitchen as the glorious sounds reverberated through the house. And then we would dance…

Sometimes we would dance in a circle, accompanied by kids banging wooden spoons on the counter to keep beat. Often times, we would pair up, changing partners as the song progressed. We’d twirl and spin and bump. Laughter was almost always as loud as the music.

The dance party occasionally moved to my parents’ house, right up the street. Between my sisters and I,  we have fifteen children and for a while, there was always a new baby. It became tradition that “Auntie Shel” would dance with the newest member of the family. I would pick up the infant, cradle him or her in my arms, and sway as the others continued the raucous merry-making.  Most of the time my parents sat back and watched, but every once in a while, they would join us, once even showing the grandchildren how to “Twist.”

These days,  the children have embarked on their own journeys, and my parents are slowed by effects of age, but how fortunate are we to have the collective memories created by our own little commune.

Dance with your children whenever possible. Turn the music up and dance.

Image courtesy of sattva/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Trip to the Emergency Room

Motherhood is a curious thing – exhausting, consuming, sometimes frightening, often times rewarding. As my children reach the cusp of young adulthood, I’ve been reminiscing about the years that led us here. Feeling the need to go back to those days, I pulled a collection of old essays off the shelf. I wrote this almost exactly seven years ago when my son was ten. Seems like yesterday.

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Thursday, June 7, 2007

It started with the phone call. “Michele? Jack is ok, but…”

Something about those words reached right through my chest and threatened to crush my heart. I had to concentrate on what the school nurse was saying, although every part of me was screaming to succumb to panic. My ten-year old had collided with a classmate during gym class and had split open his lip. No big deal. He’s a boy. Typical kid injury. As the nurse described the injury and talked about stitches, I went on autopilot. Call the pediatrician to tell them we’re on our way. Call Dad to pick up the girls. Call the ex to let him know. Screw him…no, no. Call him.

Is there a lot of blood?

During my quick conversation with my parents, my sister offered to come with me. “You don’t do well with blood, remember? I’ll come with you.” I assured her I was fine and there was no time to wait for her. I could handle it.

I hope there’s not a lot of blood.

I jumped into the car and tore up my tiny, residential street. In the short distance between home and the school, I blew through every stop sign and struggled not to go through the two traffic lights. Reaching the school in record time, I threw the car in park and ran into the building. I tried to walk down the hall. Calm down. He’s fine and you’re not supposed to run in the halls. I hesitated for a second before entering the nurse’s office.

“He’s fine.”

“Mommy, we saw you running.”

Deep breath. Relax. He’s fine. Not too much blood. I hinted that I didn’t really want to look at the injury and asked the nurse what she thought. She gave me some information to share with the doctor and we were off.

In the car, my son was very calm. “It was cool, Mom. Lily had a tooth mark on her head.” I asked him if he cried, and he told me he did, just for a second. As we got closer to the doctor’s office, he started asking questions about stitches. “I don’t feel like having stitches today.” I explained he might have to get them, but if he did, they’d give him medicine so he didn’t feel it. We had a very involved discussion about different types of stitches and the times I had to get them. He decided he wanted the dissolving kind, and what would happen when he went swimming? Would they come out?

We got out of the car at the doctor’s office. “Ok, Jack. Show me. Wait, wait… don’t show me. Let’s go.”

The doctor’s office was quick. “Yes, he needs stitches. It is a very deep gash.” I get it…please stop going into such detail. I believe you.  “And no, you can’t go to the clinic. You have to go to a real emergency room. Now.”

At least there are no sirens this time. No ambulances. Memories of Ali at eighteen months old after she was attacked by that dog. So much blood. The two of us sitting in the back of that ambulance, both crying. Memories of Mary-Kate just this past year. Another ambulance. Bad asthma attack. “Don’t cry, Mom.” Sometimes so tired of doing this alone.

Another quick call to my sister to update the family. “No, you don’t need to come with me. We’re fine.” I turned to my son. “I’m ready, Jack. Show me…nope, don’t.”

“Make up your mind, Mommy. Do you want to see it?”

No!

We went to the closest hospital and sat down to sign him in. Terror set in for my little boy who wants so much to be brave, a big kid. He cried and the nurses tried to calm him. He let me pull him onto my lap as I filled out the forms. We waited and waited. The room filled with all sorts of interesting people, but that is a story for another day. Waiting is not a good idea for a child who has nothing better to do than to imagine the horrors that may come. I did what any modern mother would do – downloaded a game to my phone and handed it over. Distraction accomplished. The actual exam by the ER doctor took about three minutes.

“Nasty gash.” So I’ve heard. “Doesn’t need stitches. Should heal in a few days. Do you have popsicles at home?”  The fist that had been squeezing my heart let go.

“Well, Jack, that’s it. Let’s go home.”

“Cool! I get popsicles for dinner?”

“Yes, Baby. Absolutely.”