Musical Milliner

October 28, 2017

Si spezza il cuore

Filed under: abuse,Divorce,family life,grief,motherhood,music — by Musical Milliner @ 10:40 am

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When I became a mother, I experienced the most intense and unexpected love for another human being.  To that point in my life, I had loved, been loved. But nothing even close to the depth and unconditional love I felt holding my newborn. That intensity increased when my child began to reciprocate. I felt unworthy of his devotion and adoration.

At the same time, I was so grateful to finally understand how real love could be. This little child’s love for me healed a lifetime of wounds. It helped me heal from the loss of my own mother as a girl, due to an illness she had when I was born. This child brought me respite from an abusive marriage. I thought, maybe my husband will stop hurting me now that I had a child in my arms.

My husband’s rages were fewer for awhile. But more than a few times he hit me while I was holding my son. Once when I was nursing him. Emotionally, it was confusing.  During the day, alone with my child, life was sweet and calm and busy. Nights were another thing. My husband came home and started drinking. We had dinner. He drank more. My floors were covered in egg shells. My goal was to avoid a fight, and avoid being verbally and physically abused. I was able to hide from him by being a busy mother. Not always. Eventually I was caught in his anger.

This child who was so kind and loving eventually became aware of his parent’s terrible marriage, something for which he judges me harshly, and has never forgiven me. And of course, he took notes. He often treats me with the same disdain and disrespect he learned from his father’s treatment of me.

Where once my heart was more joyful that I’d ever imagined, that place is sore and bereft. I will never know that love again from him.  I am ignored. I am marginalized. He contacts me when he needs or wants something of me and takes advantage of my vulnerability, but seems unaware that I need his love and interest.

Life is getting shorter.

August 4, 2013

Allattare tutti i bambini

wbw2013-flower-colorIt is our annual World Breastfeeding Week. In a former phase, Musical Milliner was a certified lactation educator. Because MM breastfed her kids to age two, the only singing was lullabyes for a time. We know anecdotally that </=5% of women cannot nurse due to medical conditions. That leaves 95%of us who can, with support systems in place, experience long-term breastfeeding.

We know that most breastfeeding failure occurs when there is a lack of education, family and peer support. The whole village needs to get on board. Support is crucial in the first few weeks, and peer support is one of the greatest predictors for successful breastfeeding, along with frequent consultation with a certified lactation consultant and a new moms support group as needed. Most medical insurance companies have seen the light, and knowing of the long-term cost savings, now cover lactation services.

Not long ago, WIC distributed vouchers to low-income mothers for formula, a demographic for which health issues are more common. We got the hospitals to stop distributing “samples” of artificial formula. These women learn that breastfeeding will lower their grocery bills and lessen their medical costs.

Yes, there are challenges for most women at first. Between sleep deprivation, and the social, relational and physical adjustments new moms make, things can be tough. Again, support of family, peers and lactation consultants, is key for long-term nursing relationships.

Mother-friendly policies in the workplace is another area in which we’ve seen progress. Having a dedicated space for moms to pump and store milk, or have places to nurse in privacy are important. We need to keep pressing on this one until it becomes the norm.

And while we’re at it, for those still-backward parts of the world where mothers are expected to go nurse their hungry babies in a bathroom stall? NOT okay. How would YOU like to eat your meal in a public lavatory?

All I can add is that my own children were obviously healthier than some of their peers. one child has never taken antibiotics, and the other had one ear infection at age three, when he began pre-school.

In addition, they’ve been raised vegetarians, and I believe this has contributed to their robust health.

Someone once said to me, “Breastfeeding is the first promise we make to our children.”
http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/

(C)GoshGusPublishing(ascap)2013

January 1, 2012

Ricordare

Two years ago today we lost our good friend. None of us saw it coming. I have a story to share, and a list of Mark’s wisdoms.
Soon after his mother died, I received a large package in the mail. It was the corduroy patchwork quilt she had made some thirty years before as a going away gift for Mark as he went off to college.Over the years, Marilyn had collected scraps of the fabric from her son’s trousers and shirts, and created this beautiful thing. When I followed Mark up to Northern California, it became my quilt, too.
For Mark to pass this on to me, a quilt over which his mother had lovingly labored, which had been so skillfully sewn as to have no tears or snags after so many years of use was a great comfort to me. Mark’s mother had for some years mothered me as well, and I miss her, too.

In my home, the quilt holds an honored place. We call it “The Mothers Quilt.” Any time someone is ill, or needs some warmth and comfort, out comes the quilt, and a cup of tea. The person is wrapped like a big corduroy burrito, and being a quilt of near magical powers and full of mother love, never fails to raise the spirits of whomever is wrapped within it.

For me, the quilt remains one of the strongest reminders of Mark’s legacy.

Here is a list of words I recall Mark saying, or sentiments I can attribute to him.
1. Always be kind.
2. Consider that the other guy may have had a worse day than you.
3. Wave pedestrians and other cars through a four-way stop.
4. Hug your mother while you still can.
5. Learn three corny jokes. Use them to disarm people and demonstrate that you are not their better.
6. If a friend needs some money, know it was hard for them to ask and give them small chores in exchange so they save face.
7. Remember that most folks really want to do their best.
8. Forgive and forget as often as possible.
9. It’s okay to keep your opinions to yourself.
10.When all is said and done, true love remains forever.

(c) GoshGusPublishing(ascap)2012

December 26, 2011

Memorie

Like most children, I looked forward to the Christmas season. Deep in my memory is a tray of Kodak (pre-carousel) slides flashing vignettes on a white wall.

The first tray contains slides when my mother was still walking.

I see my dad taking pleasure and effort to make from found items, a giant arrangement of red candles in graduated sizes, each wired with a different colored light atop, and attached to a platform which was displayed in front of the house on the lawn outside my mother’s kitchen window.  Something about a neighborhood decorating competition. Something about the wires occasionally shorting out. I found the whole thing fantastic.

I see him on a ladder, held by my eldest brother and being cautioned by my mother, taking care to hang lights under the eves.  I remember the glow of the soft colors filling my bedroom as I fell asleep, and how magical that felt.

I have a flash of my mother trying to make potica, a Slovenian holiday bread my father grew up with, and her quiet mumbling as she struggled to get it right.  I’m not sure if she ever did, but I wouldn’t have eaten it, being too picky to try unfamiliar foods like most little ones.

Then there was a year when my father had erected some tacky cardboard fireplace and mantle.  I attribute this to his solution of pestering questions about how could Santa come down the chimney when we didn’t have one.  None of the ranchers where I grew up had them because it rarely got cold enough.  Some companion slides appear on the wall, and I see my parents, who seemed to entertain a lot, sitting around with a living room full of happy people on Christmas Eve after church, and I in my jammies wanting to wait up for Santa.  I remember what I thought was a sonic boom, but, given the day and time of night was probably a quick, sharp earthquake jolt, and the adults telling me that the noise was Santa parking on the roof, and I’d better get to sleep or he wasn’t going to come inside.  Snap.  I woke up later and quietly padded into the living room (the squeaky parquet floor was a challenge) to find that Santa had left many presents, including a doll for me!

My next oldest brother convinced me to get back to bed before we got caught.

The milk and cookies we had left for Santa were gone!

There are slides of our family at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.  The creche scene behind the rail suddenly replaced by humans.  I was told many times that I made my stage debut as the baby Jesus when I was twelve days old, and slept peacefully per the script.  I  can’t forget the well dressed man next to us who dripped some astounding green-red glop from his nose onto a crisp white hankie. I couldn’t have been more than three or four years old, yet I remember this fellow. He is stuck on that slide.

The fragrant tree so beautifully decorated.  The ceramic creche underneath the spruce with which I  entertained myself, rearranging the cattle and sheep. Moving Joseph around.  Keeping the straw tidy and off the carpet for my mother.

Slides of the company- all the visitors.  The endless trays and dishes full of food.  The shock of seeing the rector in collar, sitting on a sofa with a cigarette and a glass of Scotch, and not having a clue as to how to deal with this contextual confusion.

It was a time of innocence which all children deserve.  By the time I was five, my mother was no longer able to walk.

The second tray of slides sits quietly in my mind.  The wall is blank. I don’t want to look at them.

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap) 2011

August 20, 2010

Passaggio: How Could It Be?

Yesterday was tough. Exactly a day to a time many years ago when I watched my high school sweetheart drive off to college, car packed full of LPs, stereo, and some clothes, I found myself  helping my eldest son move into his freshman dorm.

Among all the mixed emotions of the day, I could not get the picture out of my mind of seeing that old car pull out and go. I felt so alone then. Abandoned.

Those feelings welled up again yesterday. I recognized them, and across the years the visceral memory was fresh. I had done this before, had seen a young man I loved take a big step away from me and into the excitement of university life.

There is a pain so deep, so familiar, and so very strange as well. It is surreal. Both strong and gentle men. Both reliable Pisces. Both good friends.

There are, of course, differences.

A child I carried, birthed and cradled in my arms became a man so fast that I’m absolutely stunned.

How many times have I endured the unsolicited advice to savor every minute with my child because it all flies by so quickly?  Higher mind knows this. Heart fights it. Helpful people annoy.

A friend of mine who is a fabulous father told me that he’s been depressed about it for several years. Worse with each child. He warned me to be ready for more helpful comments from the well-intentioned about how wonderful it must be to finally have a quiet, empty home. From what planet do these people launch?

To give them the benefit, I’ll assume some people prefer the distance from their children. For me, as for my friend, these kids are interesting, interested people. The idea that months will turn before I share coffee at the kitchen table with my son is unimaginable. But it is the new reality. No matter what, I can’t change the facts. As with all passages, I can struggle or I can choose to just roll with it. .

I knew this day would come. But nothing can prepare you for it when your time arrives. Your heart gets ripped out, and the hardest part of it all is to not transmit the depth of your pain to your child. He knows your sadness, but he will never know the whole story until it becomes his turn to experience a similar day with his own offspring.  To come unhinged in his presence would be selfish. He doesn’t need my baggage with all the changes he is undergoing.

We raise them to leave. If I’ve done my job well, my son will embrace this new journey. I will as well. I love you son!

(c)GoshGusMusic(2010)photo cjarc(c)

May 17, 2009

Lullaby

Filed under: family life,Poetry,traditions,Uncategorized — by Musical Milliner @ 6:24 pm
Tags: , , ,

imagesOver the years, a few Mother’s Day’s have been misplaced. Conflicting performance schedules have been popular excuses. Too busy-ness, and a big job that requires travel (Three-quarters of the sum total of family birthdays have fallen under similar consequences.), and the refusal to write in a datebook such occasions which I take for passive-aggressive-sideways behavior. I could be wrong.

There was a golden time when Mother’s Day was a warm occasion celebrated with brunch or an early dinner. The days started out being special and fun. There was this feeling of “cool- I’m a mom! I baked these little people.” When the cards were drawn by small hands, the flowers wild and spiced with rosemary sprigs in honor of me and The Mother, those were happy times.

It was a time when more than motherhood was celebrated. What we were taking time to recognise was the joy of being a family. Despite all the underlaying unhappiness and frustration of the parents, we were a family of bright and beautiful young people who knew laughter and fun, and love.

Years passed, and small children grew as they must, but these special times of pausing to count our blessings became distilled into last minute mumblings of “Holy fuck, I forgot to buy the card. Did I buy the card? Is the flower shop near the corner still open, or maybe I can get to the grocery store before X wakes up and purchase the cake or flowers or card or chocolate croissaints or…? ”

On Mother’s Day this year, the first since my spouse moved out, I awakened to the sounds and smells of him making French Toast. By the time I’d dressed and opened my bedroom door, the kitchen was tidy as if no one had been there. Everyone gone early to church to vest for liturical duties.

On the counter in a drinking glass without water to nourish them, was a small bouquet of flowers, still in their wrapping. But there was no French Toast for me. No bread. All the eggs consumed. The traditional freshly juiced blood oranges were not present either. Perhaps worst of all: no coffee. None at all.

My feelings were multiple and weighed heavily on me. I quickly dressed and went to church. Maternal affirmation pervaded, and it made me both sad and angry. I was part of things, yet I was apart from things. I was not sure where I belonged.

One child went off with his father. Another went to see his girlfriend, and I went home to my kitty and made fresh coffee with a French Press. Then I went to bed and cried.

I miss being a family. It was something I treasured, something I put my whole life into creating and managing, and now I have fractured it because it was broken, and needed a remodel for all the members to be healthy again. It will take years.

On Mother’s Day, I questioned my judgment as I began the process of thinking, “never again will I know this.”

My first Easter in this new life was abysmal as well. I didn’t make baskets, or dye eggs, and the kids, knowing how tight the purse is, never mentioned anything.

I must remember not to let my grief interfere with the family traditions we created together. It is important that I keep these going. For them. For me.

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2009

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