I found you………A Journey to Discovery…


 

 

Ancestry.com and I have  been acquainted since 2012, but in November of 2014 we became close friends.

I’d spend at least 15 minutes on the site at a minimum of 5 times a day just to see if there was any new information for me.

I was on a hunt and I wasn’t going to let up until I got what I was hoping to find….

Clues to our family’s heritage.

This is the second entry in the series  A Journey to Discovery

 

 

My dad  grew up as an only child not knowing his father.

My brother, sister and I had learned to accept this from a young age. We had questions but no one had answers and my dad’s mother wasn’t talking.

We’d always pondered the thought that there was a good chance that my dad had siblings. We had enough information on his father to know that he’d been married to the same woman for almost all of his life and that they very possibly had children. But up to this point, I couldn’t find one shred of evidence to prove they did.

I had key information……. my grandfather’s name, his father’s name, his brother’s name and his mother’s name as well as her maiden name. And though I seemed to have everything I needed, I was still hitting a dead end…..

This was my 2nd real attempt to research him. I’d come up empty handed before, got discouraged and gave up.

For 2 years.

 

For whatever reason, I dove in again.

 

Then it happened.

 

December 28, we were celebrating Christmas with my family and I was going onto the website to show my mom the progress I’d made on her family tree and there it was…that beautiful green leaf, waving at me. A “Hint” as they’re called….

 

The hint came in the form of a marriage certificate. Specifically, the one recording the marriage of my grandfather to the woman he’d been married to for life.

Really? Now it pops up?  

 

I’d been online for 2 years with my own account and that marriage certificate never, ever came up. Never.

 

Until Then.

 

As soon as I clicked on the leaf I squealed. My mom was right next to me and I exclaimed, “Mom! I have the marriage certificate of *Marvin and his wife,*Dorothy! Finally, we know her maiden name!”

I also now had her mother’s  first name, maiden name and father’s name as well.

 

Writing this now I’m still astounded that for what ever reason that hint didn’t come up until that day…and all the information I’d had from my intial set up of my account was exactly the same. Not one thing was different.

It was such a serendipitous thing as my parents were visiting from out of town and my mom was in on all the research.

 

A few days passed and I continued to look on Ancestry.com. I had never coughed up the membership fee to bump me up to the U.S Discovery Membership. 

It was time.

 

January 5, I paid it.

Totally worth it.

 

Now I was able to search everything. I had access to a crazy amount of information.

 

First thing I did was put in a search with my biological grandfather’s wife’s name.

Lo and behold, up pops a college yearbook with her picture in it.

I knew it was her. Don’t ask me how... but I was certain. Though her name was not uncommon for that time, something went off in me like a bell……... I knew it was her.

 

Seeing that yearbook picture gave me the strangest feeling. I felt as though I’d found a lost treasured friend. This was a woman related to me only in that she’d been married to my grandfather for his lifetime.

Zero blood ties……… but the feeling was there.

As I looked at this picture of a beautiful young woman as senior in her college yearbook I whispered, ” I found you.”

 

I don’t ever talk to myself out loud, I mean I’m a little nutty and all but I don’t talk to myself…out loud anyway. Goodness knows why I was doing it then, but when I did, I had the sensation there was someone with me looking over my shoulder……..Like that, “I’m not alone here” feeling. The hair stood up on the back of my neck…

I saved the picture to her profile in my family tree and I continued to search the Ancestry website. I found her parents in census records with her name listed in the home.

Seems I’d found the right people.

 

If you’ve ever search census records, marriage certificates and death certificates you know, it’s easy to get people confused. I was surprised at how many people can share the same name and the misspellings abound…

 

Though it was probable I’d found all the accurate information, I was nervous.

What if it wasn’t the “right  family? What if I was way off base? What if I’d gone in the absolute wrong direction?!

Yet, I couldn’t shake the undenyable feeling that I had the names I needed.

I realize new information is added constantly but I was still astounded that here it was staring me in the face.

I went from nothing one day to everything the next.

 

I was so intrigued and excited. I found myself bouncing around on the website just clicking away. Back and forth matching dates and names.

 

And then I hit the jackpot…… I found *Dorothy’s obituary. Not the actual newspaper article, but a formatted recorded form with all the verbiage.

It listed my grandfather’s name as her spouse who’d preceded her in death and…….. get this………names of 2 daughters, their husbands and 8 grandchildren.

 

Names. Of. Her Family. Members.

Concrete names.

I was freaking out.

 

I stopped right there. After not knowing whether there were siblings on my dad’s side, here I had names….full on names.

Even though I knew it was likely they’d had children, I’d spent so much time associating my grandfather and his wife as childless. I thought the lack of information was indicative of them not having their own family….

My head was about to explode.

I could barely absorb what I saw. “What if this is really the right record!  I mean really, how many couples with both of the names *Marvin and *Dorothy *Hart  could exist in the United States?”

I was afraid to get excited…what if these were the wrong people?

But what if they were the right ones??!!

 

I was on the website for hours, studying the information I’d found.

 

I utilized one of the searches where you plug in one of your ancestor’s names to see if there are any other family trees on the website with that name in them. I entered in my grandfather’s name and only one “public” tree  I located had his name in it.

“Public trees” are those where a particular user allows other Ancestry.com members to see the ancestors in their family tree. “Private trees” are just that; private. In a “Private Tree” you can see the ancestor who’s name matches your ancestor’s but not much else.

 

With the discovery that I’d found a member, I utilized the messaging option on the website to ask that person if the patriarch in her tree was her grandfather……

……..ESPECIALLY BECAUSE THAT MEMBER’S NAME MATCHED THE NAME OF ONE OF THE GRANDCHILDREN IN *DOROTHY’S OBITUARY!!!!!!!

I know, right?!

Wow.

All my life wondering about my biological grandfather and his possible children……. here I had a legitimate link?

 

The member I messaged, answered within a few hours and said ,”Yes, that was my Mother’s father.”

Aack!! Holy Crap!!!!!

But wait! What if my grandfather’s name was just a common name and she also had a family member with the same one?! I hadn’t been specific enough!!!!

I went back and messaged her again but didn’t get second response.

Oh crud, I thought. I blew that tiny window of opportunity. I just wanted to reach out into the interwebs and scream…wait a minute!!!

 

This was an emotionally exhausting project. So much of my brain space had been devoted to working on it. I needed to let go for a few days and think about what I’d found.

At this point I hadn’t even told anyone in my family about the discovery.

I was at a loss as to what to do next.

 

A few days later, while  I was getting ready for work I was rethinking all the physical records I’d seen concerning my grandfather and his wife. Right then I remembered…… besides their marriage certificate,  I’d only seen records of phone directories, not census records!

I’d seen at least 4 directory records from different places in the U.S. but it didn’t cross my mind what I was looking at!!!!  Phone directories are not census records! They do not show the inhabitants of the household, only the head of the household and their spouse!

As I’m thinking this I hear a voice in my head say,” You were the one who decided there weren’t any children. You did that.”

I had made assumptions based on what I saw not paying attention to what kind of records they were!

 

I didn’t go back to my computer until late night the next day….all the while pondering what was made evident to me.

Phone directories. Not Census records. Phone directories. Not census records…..

 

I kept returning to the obituary and thinking…. I (we) have two aunts (and uncles) and 8 first cousins? Their names are right in front of me. These are real people.

After wondering all my life ……and, if this is true they live 3 flippin’ states away from me?

So surreal.

It only took me a few hours spread over a few weeks to find everything I was looking for. The names in my family tree had never changed from the very beginning. But now I had answers.

 

Two days later, as I was about to drift off to sleep, I hear a voice say my name.

It was a grown woman’s voice gently saying my name. Not yelling, not calling, just saying my name….as if to get my attention.

  “Crap. I was almost asleep”, I thought. And then…”Wait,who was that?”

 

This sort of thing has happened to me my whole life. My whole life. Not the same voice but every once in a while, I’ll hear someone say my name. 

I’ve always assumed it was my own immagination…as vivid as it is….working overtime…except that I was currently reading the book,  A Sudden Light By Garth Stein and one of the characters in the book was having the same experience.

This stuff happens to other people?? Someone actually wrote about this?!

 

( Great book by the way, I highly recommend it. You’re welcome for the plug, Mr. Stein)

 

 

I went on about my business and later in the week I asked a friend, who’s extremely intutitive, about what I’d heard. She looked at me for a minute as if to retrieve information and said,” I think this is someone you know.”

 

Whatever or whomever it was, I was aware that I was supposed to be working on something or not forgetting something.

Or, taking my new found information and moving forward….

 

So, I did…..

 

*Names have been changed to maintain privacy.

 

Side note: It is not my intention to shame my grandmother or anyone involved with our family’s history…this is merely my personal journey in finding my ancestry.

Due to my dad’s mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease, he has not been a part of the research.

 

 

This is the honest accounting of everything we were (weren’t) told and my personal experience in the process of finding my family’s heritage.

To be continued…

 



Incomplete…… A Journey Of Discovery


 

 

It is the strangest thing to not know where you came from….I mean, I know where I came from…..duh, my mom and dad…. but there  was a large missing piece of our family puzzle……. for as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to find it.

The very idea that there was such a big chunk of our ancestry unaccounted for pushed me to search…..

 

 

My dad grew up not knowing his father.

 

It was just “one of those things” we sort of accepted that we’d never know. We knew my Dad’s father’s name but not much else.

The subject, when I was a kid, was totally taboo. We didn’t mention it ever but as my sister and I got older we started asking questions.

Nothing ever came of it.

 

The topic was always hush-hush.

 

I understand it was a time and a place back  in 1934 but come on……like if we don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist?

There wasn’t a way to explain why my sister and brother were so tall when the 3 other complete sides of our family were not.

Or that my dad didn’t look much like his mother…maybe he resembled his father?

My grandmother would not acknowledge our curiosity.

 

That was until my sister had her first baby and wanted to know if there were any health issues on that side of the family. What she got was a extremely abbreviated version of what had occured…..

 

She got pregnant, he got transferred out of state, her  mother took her on a train to where he was and made him marry my grandmother, they went home, my dad was born….end of story.

 

That was it. Nothing else.

Of course my sister, brother and I wanted to know more.

              

 

In 2012 I started a free account on Ancestry. com.

 

I immediatly entered in the names I needed to start my family tree. Even without paying the membership fee, there was a ton of information available.

Gaining access to those 3 known sides of my ancestors on the website  was easy …..those sides were Mormon and their information was listed in the church.

 

It was that 4th side of my family that elluded me. That side was nearly impossible to search. I had the necessary names but it didn’t seem to matter.

When I couldn’t find a thing, got discouraged and dropped the project for two years.

 

Then, in November of 2014 I was prompted to start searching again. Prompted by what..I don’t know….but I began really, really looking…

 

I’ve always felt incomplete. There was this whole side of me…of my sister, my brother and my dad …..missing. 

This time I wouldn’t quit. I couldn’t

 

And it’s a good thing I didn’t………………………..

 

 

 

Side note: It is not my intention to shame my grandmother or anyone involved with our family’s history…this is merely my personal journey in finding my ancestry. The events that occured in 1934 are not important now. This is more about connecting the chain that is our family back together.

 

Due to my dad’s mid-stage Alzheimers’ disease, he has not been a part of my research.

 

 

 

This is the honest accounting of everything we were (weren’t) told.

To be continued…

 



Christmas presence……


Christmastime…….so many memories from 40 plus years of life……some are ones I wish I could relive……some are ones I’d like to forget.

But it always, ALWAYS seems that I end up with some sort of lesson or takeaway nugget from each one.

Up until 2005, things had been relatively smooth for us as a family and as a couple; Hubs and I and our 3 boys.
Due to many factors our lives changed and, for what seemed to be too many years in a row, things were just downright difficult.

We dealt with monetary, health, and housing issues only to find who our true friends were (we’re profoundly lucky to have many quality people in that category) and what the true meaning of the season is.

The year is 2008 and things are rough. The economy has taken a dump and we’re stressed out about how we’d provide a Christmas for our boys.

In times of stress, Hubs and I react similarly……we work. Hard. There wasn’t much available but we did what we could. This meant that we’d ignored some of the preparation for the holiday. A Christmas tree didn’t cross our minds and we’d only briefly discussed lights on the house.

It was a Tuesday late in the month of December and I was on my way home. When I drove up, our dear friends and neighbors were standing in the front yard with Hubs….they were singing Christmas carols.

Hubs was in the front yard SINGING. (?!)

AND there were Christmas lights on the house……I was stunned at the sight.

When did he have time to do the lights?

It was about 7:00 and I was sure he hadn’t been home for very long before me. This was unreal. I got out of the car and Hubs followed me into the house…..

“The lights look amazing! That was the exact design I was thinking of! How did you know?!”
He looked at me and I could see his eyes looked kinda glassy and I thought, “What’s wrong with him?”

He paused for a split second and said quietly, “I didn’t do the lights.”

“Wait.What?”

“Clay did them”, and he smiled and grabbed my hand and led me into the living room where there was Christmas standing. “Mike and Dena got us the tree.” Holy. Crap. Tears ensued…..

Our friends saw our need and went out and did those things for us.
In the busy-ness of their own lives, they found time. Wow. Just wow.

I felt and still feel, that in times of need, God doesn’t abandon us. He sent our friends to be the joy in the season that year.

We are blessed and we know it.

What a truly amazing gift. To have friends like that……..I’m still so beyond touched that when I’ve tried to tell the story aloud I can’t get through it without getting choked up.

Christmas time is here, and once again I’m reminded……the most meaningful gifts don’t always come in a box.



Without bells, without bows.


I didn’t want it to come but it came anyway.  I worried about how I’d get everything done in 3 days. There was no way to stop it.

Christmas was coming; whether I wanted it to or not.

I’ve always loved the holiday season, but in the last few years with traumatic events having occured in December, I find myself bracing against it. It’s as if my body remembers even though my mind tries it’s best to forget. This year in particular was hard and I wasn’t aware until right up to the time of celebration

We’d had a crazy year and I found myself compartmentalizing so many things.

As a hairdresser it’s the busiest time of year and for the last few, my husband and I had waited until the last 3 or 4 days before Christmas to shop. Bills come first and we never know exactly how much money we’ll make…..being self employed. Obviously that determines how much we’ll spend.

We had just moved in with his parents in October after a really rough year and a half. The responsibility of not having to decorate was a relief.  I’ve always felt that as a mother and a wife it’s my job to set the tone. I make the holiday by the atmosphere I create.

None of that would be my doing. I was exempt and trying to escape into my job.

I worked up until December 21st and J and I planned on knocking out all of our shopping in a few days. This is very easy for me.

I don’t go shopping; I go getting. When I leave the house I already know where I’m going and what I’m going to buy.

The youngest boy had been sick with what I thought was a cold so he’d been home with Grandma while I went to work and when he ceased to get better I became suspiscious. His illness had gone on for 4 days…too long for just a sore throat and a cold. The first morning I was off I asked him if I could look in his throat and it was clearly obvious. Strep.

I hauled him off to the doctor….I didn’t tell him he’d be swabbed. He was pissed………..got his medication and brought him home.

Christmas Eve came and we were planning to celebrate at my bother’s house where my parents would be staying as they come from out of town. But, our house has always been the one where we celebrate the holidays. It’s usually my mom and I that prepare the food together …………she and I play a thing I call “cocktails around the world”……..and they stay at our house.

This has been the way we’ve doing it for years. At the time I was relieved to not have all that hanging over my head. I thought this was a good thing.

Until Christmas Eve came.

That afternoon, my oldest son told me he wasn’t feeling well either and that he wasn’t sure he would be going with us to my brother’s house.

I completely understood as I had a sore throat as well. As we gathered everyone up to leave, he decided to come and we all barreled into my family’s celebration.

I was aware I didn’t feel well, but I had stuff to do and I knew I’d be able to sleep eventually.

Dinner was delicious and my brother and sister-in-law’s house was beautifully decorated. Once everyone had finished eating we went into the living room and my parents and my brother’s family proceeded to shower my boys with gifts. This was very unexpected. We’d agreed years ago that we wouldn’t exchange presents. I hadn’t brought a thing.  I felt terrible and embarrassed.

I was still shell shocked from the last 18 months barely thinking about anything except what had to be done.

It came time to leave as my oldest was feeling very poorly by then and it was time for my youngest’s next dose of antibiotics…….. I’d left them in the fridge at home.

As I got up from the couch to go hug and thank my brother, I walked past their Christmas tree.

He is by far one of the sweetest men I know….2nd to my husband……and I think he knew what was going on with me even if I didn’t.

I turned as my mom came over to me and I looked at the tree and started to say, “I miss my own tree. I miss having my own house.”

The second sentence came out completely garbled with tears. They poured down hitting me like a ton of bricks. I had not even thought about anything to do with the holiday. Truth is I hadn’t let myself think about Christmas because I didn’t really want it to come. Different from the previous years. Even different from the year when my boys were so graciously given money from an anonymous person.

This year I had tried to numb myself. To not feel. Maybe I thought if I did that I could ignore the festivities and not feel the losses that I hadn’t let myself deal with.

Ones that had occured 6 years before.

Funny when you stop running from feelings they find you, crashing like a wave over your head. I know I’m being vague but I haven’t revealed any of those things in writing……..guess I’m waiting for the right time to tackle that subject.

I didn’t want the holiday to come. Plain and simple. I didn’t want to do it because none of the particulars were right. Nothing was how I knew it. None of my own decorations or ornaments were present….all the things I’ve collect throughout the years. None of those things were in the house we were calling home. I wanted to skip everything and fast forward to January.

But the gift of Christmas is just that. A gift.

I wasn’t ready to receive it and God (the Universe, whatever you want to believe) was profoundly patient in waiting for me to accept it. Waiting for me to be ready to understand that this gift didn’t require anything in return.

Even when I felt I had nothing left of me to give.

The gift of being loved on by my parents and the rest of my immediate family. Being cocooned……..having a soft place to land until I could properly acknowledge what He already knew. I was sad and in mourning. I had done my very best to ignore it, stuffing it down amidst the chaos and work that had become my life.

The gift of Christmas, I believe, is love. Unconditional love.

I didn’t want Christmas to come but it did. It came without bells, without bows because a gift of that size cannot possibly be contained in a box……….

 

 

 



Oh sh*t. I killed her.


The day started like any other day.

Checked my Twitter feed, looked at Facebook, took my happy pill and went to work .

I’m a hairdresser.

On Thursdays I have two standing shampoo/ blow dry appointments; the first of which is my teeny tiny little Mrs. B.

She’s a million years old, chooses not wear her hearing aids when she comes to see me and shuffles when she walks.

 

Like baby step shuffles.

 

I have an entire hour to do what would truthfully about 25 mins but, because her size is such a challenge I allow more time.

She is the size of a small child……….. minature……..next to her I look like an effing amazon………and I’m only 5’3 1/2.

 

In order to wash her hair, I need 10 towels to boost her up and plastic protective gear just to keep from completely baptizing her every week. She’d be soaked to her waist without all the preparations.

 

On this particular day, It was eleven-thirty and she hadn’t shown up yet. I worry when she does this……… thinking something’s happened to her…………….. She’s OLD, people! All kinds of things could happen!

 

I didn’t realize she’d called the front desk telling our receptionist that she had an appointment with me at one o’clock.

She has an appointment at eleven o’clock. Every effing week. It does not change.

 

“Actually Mrs B”‘. …the receptionist knows her voice…..”your appointment is at eleven o’clock. Which is right now.”

” Oh. I don’t think I’m gonna make it but, I’m not sure.”

“Well, should I reschedule your time?”

“I’m noooooot sure. I’ll call you back…”

I went up to the front desk and the receptionist says to me, “She may or may not come.”

 

 Um, ookaaaay. I had her booked for color and she was already sporting some gigantic roots on her itty bitty head. This would also mean she wouldn’t be getting her hair washed if she didn’t show up.

 

For the record, little old ladies don’t get dirty; they get dusty…………………not even kidding.

 

Within 30 minutes after the call she’d made, Mrs. B shows up in the lobby of the salon. I go up to greet her and she tells me she’s so happy I could still take her……….. knowing how late she is.

She keeps stopping while she’s talking.

 

I’m trying my best to rush her little body to my chair as I remind her that she’s having color.

I race into the dispensary to mix her color as fast as I can and I begin applying while she tells me about the antics of her fat little toosie roll of a dog…..…...which is apparently, is why she’s late.

I guess the damn dog wouldn’t go out and do her business because it had been raining and it didn’t want to get its paws wet.

 

Dude. Really? I guess when you’re 90 this is a huge crisis.

 

 

I leave her to sit while her color developes, but this is a tricky situation. She falls asleep if she has to sit any length of time.

Actually she falls asleep while I blow dry her hair. Every friggin’ week.

I don’t know why I’m surprised by this. She literally CANNOT hear, so it’s not like the blowdryer is loud or anything.

 

The time comes to wash her hair and I’m watching the clock because I have 15 mins to wash out her color and blow her dry. This is gonna run me late, but if I’m lucky I’ll only be about 10 minutes behind.

Hair is washed, I get her settled in my chair and she proceeds to fall asleep almost immediately.

 

 

Deep breath, I can do this. Just nudge her head a little and she’ll wake up.

 

 

I’m trying to hurry and she’s OUT Freaking COLD…….I mean like so soundly asleep that her head is hanging.

 

SH*T!

 

I put my blowdryer down and pick up her head putting both hands on either side. And she’s up.

 

For about 30 seconds.

 

Then, thwap……..head’s down again. At this point I’m a little concerned about whiplash.

 

I pick up her little noggin and try to work as fast as possible so I can get her out of my chair. No sooner do I do this that her head flops to the side and I’m getting totally frustrated and sweating profusely. I have to put my dryer down every single time I pick up her head.

She’s down.

Again.

 

This time I can’t get her to keep her head up at all and I feel panic run through me like and electrical shock.

 

 Oh. My. Gawd!!!!!!! 

 

 SHE”S DEAD!!!!!!!

Oh wait, don’t panic I think I see her breathing.

 Okay. Okay. Everything’s okay……

 

Now I’ve got one hand on her forehead propping her up and the blow dryer in the other because I HAVE TO FINISH!!!  My next client is due in 5 minutes!

I  look around and almost start laughing out of sheer frustration. Everyone in the salon is concentrating on their own work.

 

 

Which is good, I guess. I mean, that’s what you want as a client, right?

 

 

Not one single solitary soul sees what is going on in my chair. And all I can think is…..

 

THIS IS SO FREAKING UNBELIEVEABLE!!!!

I‘m in HELLLLLL!!!!! SOMEBODY HELP ME!!! Or at the very least, look up and commiserate!

 

 

Anybody???

 

 

My hand to her forehead must have perked her up a little because I have just enough time to bump the ends of her tiny bob  hairdo with my curling iron. Without burning her.

 

 

Yes folks, I’m a pro.

 

 

I apply some pomade, quickly spray her, rip off my styling cape……..and she wakes up.

“Oh, are you done? Already? That was soooooo relaxing.”

 

No sh*t.

 

She emits a little giggle and stands up to go change back into her sweater.

 

 

Today, I notice she tips me a little more then usual.  I tell her I’ll see her next week and off she shuffles out of the salon.

I figuratively pick myself up off the floor from the stress of it all and hope she comes in better rested next week.

 

 

 

Side note: This is not an exagerated story. It really honest to God happened; which makes it even more funny.

My husband almost peed when I told about it…..

 

BUT  truly, all kidding aside…..this little lady is so very kind and downright cute in her tinyness. It’s a priviledge to do her hair every week as I’m pretty sure she’s not long for this world.

 

 

She still drives her own car.

 

 

 

 

 



‘Night Grandpa, ‘night Elizabeth, ‘night John-boy.


I’m not a member of the Walton family but I play a cohabitator in real life.

We live with my husband’s parents.

It was a rough decision but I was the one pushed for it. It was my idea. With our businesses struggling we were sinking fast and I wanted a chance to breathe.

We moved in, cluttering and stretching out their pretty little house.

Do they have room for us, you ask?

No. Not even close. But they made room for us. Without batting an eye.

Closets were cleared, drawers were emptied and air mattresses were purchased. We overflowed our storage unit and brought boxes and boxes to their house to keep. The garage is a maze of our belongings.



The gift


Four years ago things began to turn bad.

Two years ago things had progressed to really, really bad.

The economy had nailed us.

My husband and I have been self employed all of our adult lives……. a hairdresser and a custom cabinetmaker

And………. as the economy fell so did we. Hard.

Christmas was approaching in 2009 and I refused to let myself even ponder how we would provide gifts for our 3 boys.

They knew that money was tight…..something I wish they had no knowledge of…………….

They weren’t expecting much.



Motherhood and self esteem….


 

As little boys my older two were so different. We lived in a neighborhood where there were a lot of little kids. This was awesome. They had playmates right within reach. I loved it.

My oldest boy was the calm, reasonable, compliant one and my second one was difficult. He was the one who argued. He was oppositional and sometimes not super fun to be around.

I knew when he was little something was different about him and by 3rd grade it was confirmed. He had ADHD.

Not a death sentence; a learning disability.

Like I said, we lived in this smallish neighborhood where our kids were all essentially the same age. At this point in my mothering career I began to recognize the nuances of insecurity in my fellow mommies. It’s no surprise that when so much of ourselves is invested into our parenting, our self worth gets shaky.



I think there’s something wrong with my little boy.


When my middle son was in kindergarten I suspected something was up. He had such a hard time trying to focus on his homework. Part of me attributed this to the fact that he was young for his grade and therefore was just a little immature……. The other part suspected something more.

He managed to make it through kindergarten but each year the struggle to complete his homework became more pronounced and his teachers all made the same comment.

“Mrs. Gallagher, C is having some difficulties. He daydreams quite a bit and he spends most of  his recess finishing the work the students do in class.”

By the time he was in 3rd grade I knew in my heart that my son had Attention Deficit Disorder.

C wasn’t necessarily hyper, he was more classically inattentive. He could quietly slide under a desk during class with out the teacher even noticing. He wasn’t disruptive he simply couldn’t pay attention.

While doing his homework after school, I would have him sit at the table in the kitchen so I could prompt him to stay focused.

I wish I’d known to let him take a break and run around instead of making him start on his work immediately after school. Hindsight tells me he needed to get his wiggles out, but I was too over-focused on getting him to obey me and complete his work.

 I didn’t understand what he really needed.

I was concentrating too hard on what I thought was necessary.  I felt C needed to get his homework done in a timely manner and I was determined to make that happen.

After 3 plus hours of homework both of us were usually reduced to tears. Every night. This was the routine for us. I knew children inherently want to please their parents and figures of authority, and he wasn’t getting a thing out of not completing his work at home. I wasn’t positively reinforcing his bad behavior. There was no reward in carrying on for 3 hours. It just didn’t add up.

He got plenty of attention otherwise so this wasn’t an attempt at one on one time with me. He was exhausted and I knew it

Thank goodness, C’s 3rd grade teacher was very in tune to what was going on with him. I hadn’t had any teacher even mention ADHD let alone admit he may have a problem. Each teacher prior to that point had all thought he was young and immature.

I’d read enough on the subject and I was pretty sure of what was going on in my little boy’s head. I just needed to get someone to listen to me. I wanted him tested at school but that’s no small feat to accomplish. It takes the right teacher to convince the school district to allow an assessment to take place.

Praise God, C had that teacher.

Test itself is actually a survey that my husband, C’s teacher, and I had to fill out. It asks questions about the student and the one completing the survey has to rate the behavior………..frequently, sometimes, and seldom.

During the process there were two meetings with the principal, his teacher, the learning specialist and the district psychologist. The initial meeting was to pinpoint the problem with my son and get some idea of what was suspected to be the cause of his struggles. Each of the professionals in that room were very supportive and truly listened to me; all except one.

The school district psychologist asked me about my older son, who happened to be a very good student and then insinuated that I was seeking help because my #2 son wasn’t a carbon copy.  He implied that I was annoyed he required more time from me.

Really?

I’m positive he could feel my contempt for him from across the room. I was infuriated, but I knew that there was indeed something wrong with C and the test would show it. The truth would make itself known; I just had to be patient.

And, lo and behold, once the questionnaire was evaluated the diagnosis was a plain as day. At the next meeting the idiot school psychologist had to eat his words. Right in front of me. Victory.

I tried limiting his sugar intake.  No caffeine. We watched out for foods that had red dye in them. I tried supplements. For him, nothing worked.

The course we chose to take is not always a popular one.

My husband wasn’t super excited about treating C with medication, but he allowed me to look into it. He himself has the disorder as well as my brother and my sister. I watched first hand as my brother struggled throughout school because they didn’t recognize his learning disability. I didn’t want that to happen to my son.

I wanted him to feel successful and capable. He was so smart but when you can’t get things onto paper you give up trying. I worried his self esteem would suffer greatly due to his inability to do well in school……….. And, once he got to that point, I was concerned he wouldn’t continue to try…….that he’d simply give up.

I couldn’t let that happen.

I made an appointment to see the pediatrician for the next step in treatment. As advised by the doctor, we went with a low dosage of a medication to start C out on to see what worked best.

What happened after that was a miracle to me.

The first morning C took his medication I was really nervous. I kept picturing my little boy in spontaneous combustion. I had him eat his breakfast first and then he took the tablet.

He must have felt my anxiety because he was anxious as well. I told him everything would be okay and we walked to school. He mentioned that his stomach felt funny but from the things he said, I knew it didn’t hurt so I continued to encourage him as we walked to school.

I heard nothing all day and at dismissal I went to pick up the boys from school.

Once at home he told me what his morning was like.

“Mommy in class I was very quiet and my friend Austin asked me if I was okay. I told him I was but that my stomach felt funny. He asked me if I wanted to tell the teacher and I said, no. Then he asked if I wanted to call my mom but I told him, No, because she won’t do anything.”

“Mommy,” he said looking at me with his crystal blue eyes, “I wanted to say to him, I just need a friend.”

That he could put that into words was amazing to me. My eight year old little boy. I’d never heard him talk that way before; about feelings. He’d never been able to express himself that completely.

I turned to him and stood him on our kitchen chair so that he could be eye to eye with me. Tears were streaming down my face. In his short little life we’d had plenty of run ins. From the time he was born it seemed he’d always hung on to me with one hand and pushed me away with the other. His inability to focus caused his anxiety to go through the roof. His brain was always running on on super-speed. I’ve had to be the target in order for him to decompress.

For him to be able to really talk to me was the best gift ever.

“Sweetheart,’ I said, “I promise you from this day forward your life is going to change.”

“Mommy, my life already changed when you told my teacher there was something wrong.”

 

Fast forward. C is now 17. School has still been bit of a struggle, but with help of a variation of an IEP and medication he has managed to reach his senior year of high school. Medication for him hasn’t been a cure-all and there were many years as a young boy that behavior modification came into play. We have done the best we could with the information we were given. Not everyone would agree with how we chose to handle his disorder, but for us, this has been the best way.

 



Stuff people have said to me that strikes me as funny…..


“You should be a stand up comedian.”

Cool, but I’d never make a dime……besides I’d only crack myself up and then  inadvertently pee my pants…..which people probably wouldn’t find very funny……..

“You know Karyn, you only have about 5 good days a month.”

My husband.  Yeah, the one who values me for my brain, although probably not my hormones……….thanks sweetie……jerk…………hope you’re in on one of those days………….

“Are you from Texas? Because you look like you should be from Texas.”

I was meeting some girlfriends at a restaurant for a birthday celebration and this would be a mix of quite a few diferent people; many I didn’t know.

I no sooner walk in and sit down when this little snip of a chick says this to me.

Uh, for reals? Have another tequila shot, Missy. We say these things to strangers? I think not……..

That was a backhanded b*tch-slap of a compliment……..which I didn’t find too terribly complimentary. Seriously. What constitutes looking like a friggin Texan. Hell, my hair isn’t even that big………..

“Oh Karyn, should have been a governor’s wife.”

What, because I look like the kind of woman who’d put up with my husband sleeping with the help?

I totally get how that happens, I mean I understand……..maybe mama is a cold fish or something………..but I’d probably be a teensy bit irate, do something irrational…..thereby making it not too super cool to be a governors wife…

Arnold was still in office at the time. So thank you, but no thank you.

Of course the money from the divorce would be pretty sweet.

You have the face of a movie star.”

A delusional old lady with a profoundly lazy eye .

I couldn’t figure out A, who she was talking to and B, which eye was looking where.

At 14 years of age, this may have very well been my first experience with someone touched by Alzheimer’s disease. I was puzzled.

I was at the height of my awkward stage. Not cute.

And, probably the beginning of me learning to smile when I don’t know what else to do…………then looking like an idiot so as not to appear rude.

I get my manners from my mother.

I think we were at the zoo, which explains a lot……..

When I said she was old I meant OLD. Bless her little lazy-eyed heart.

and…………..obviously it didn’t mean sh*t because I became a hair dresser…………

“Karyn has NEVER had a weight problem!

NOT an old boyfriend, but a friend from high school upon seeing me after 28 years. Once again, thank you Facebook…….I sound like a stalker don’t I?

Saaweeet! But uh, how in the world would he know?

He hadn’t seen me in 28 years.

I found my friend T and we made arrangements to get together. The four of us had a great time…T’s wife and my husband and the 2 of us. Wait that sounds funny…I mean he and his wife and me and my husband. Together but not together…..

While we were having drinks somehow the conversation turned to my and T’s high school years. My husband didn’t go to school with me so it was fun to have someone there who knew me “when”.

Hell, I’ve had 3 kids I’ve been fat plenty of times.

My husband of course, has been with me all this time so he knows how I’ve changed over the years. He thinks my life didn’t even start til he met me.

That’s okay Babe, think whatever you want…….

 



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