Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dear Sons, The Wheels on My Bus Went Round and Round And Jumped The Curb On Crazy Street

Dear Sons;

Mom's at it again. She's trying to save the world and she left the house without her cape or brain for that matter. So sad.

Do you remember when you were all little and used to ask me about all the wrinkles on my forehead and my downturned mouth? I'd tell you I was practicing to play Worf's girlfriend in Star Trek, The Next Generation television series. Well, let's not ponder over that nonsense. Anyway, mommy always had a habit of playing chess with all of life's trials and tribulations. I always tried to figure out every possible answer to every possible question, you'd thought I was studying to go on Jeopardy.

"I'll take Worrywarts for $200 Alex"

What can I say boys, your mom is a worrier. But I'm happy to announce that for a while now I've been working really hard at not being so hard on myself. After all, it WAS my job to worry. I have the most important job in the world. Taking care of you. Now, now, I know you all are grown and practically out of the house but a mom's job is to make sure she takes care of her children. You shouldn't have to be the ones to worry about things like the light bill or if I have enough for tuna fish for lunch tomorrow. I know I'm doing the right thing by telling you when those things happen and not pretending that everything is alright. We're partners in life and always will be. It's just how I know that when the time comes for you to be on your own that you all will be alright. Yet I worry.

It's hard work so don't let anyone tell you differently. Juggling four lives is no easy feat. I wanted each and every one of you to have every opportunity to have good lives. It's why I did what I did, worked as much as I could, studied about the world and culture and places. We were doing more than watching silent movies or broadway shows together. We were scoping out all the possibilities and FOR YOU! I'll have my shot at seeing the world but seeing it with you, through your eyes really means so much more to me. For you, the universe was truly going to be your playground. But it's dangerous out there and no one will ever look out for you the way I do. What do I say? Out there people will say you're nothing, but here, at home with me, you are my world. Say what you want about your new found relationships when you get older or get into them. NO ONE. NO ONE will love you and champion for you like I will. There is only one me. Don't laugh, I know AND that my loves is saying a lot. I'm intense!

I've "been there" and contrary to what you may think, I've been your age, sometimes two, three times for good measure! Why that's why I started this letter because for a week I've been acting like a fool, acting fifteen! See, we can all be foolish mortals at any given time. All that's needed is the right circumstance or person to bring it out in us. Anyway, you know what I say about relationships. "Relationships come and go, but the children born from those relationships - THEY are THE FOREVER. You boys are MY FOREVER. While we don't live with dad you've never had to worry about not seeing him around. Mom would never keep your dad from you. You are the best part of him. Please understand that love is complicated. Mom and dad love each other, we just couldn't live with each other. We'd evolved into two entirely different people. But you boys, you are the absolute purest and best of both of us and we both love you. While he and I didn't agree on a lot of things when we decided to go our separate ways, while we both left feeling hurt, we were blessed in knowing that we couldn't place the burden of that hurt on any of you. We had to be grown up about it and put our personal feelings for each other aside and partner in parenting to bring you three up. So while your dad's life has moved on and you have seen him in relationships and you've definitely seen me struggle to come into my own, you've had us both there, the good, the bad and everything in between.

So back to Crazy Street. Sometimes I get too intense, as this mother does. The Engineer in me kicks in and I want to solve problems that aren't even there. Haley Joel Osment saw dead people, mom sees problems that she THINKS may need solving. I can't help it because it's what I'm paid for. I'm expected to solve problems, find pathways not traveled, come up with the next greatest and best thing for people. I scare people away because it's like playing chess with people who only came around to play checkers. I let my imagination get away with me and you know what that means! Yes, like the time I decided to take each of you out of school and the Principal yelled at me and I told her that my sons were going out to make memories and that one week out of school wasn't going to harm them! Then we flew off to Disney World! Yes, mom gets that way sometimes. Well, a lot. Hey, I've no regrets. Mickey was exceptionally great that year and boohoo to the Principal or anyone else. WE made a marvelous memory together. "I love it when a plan comes together!" (Yes, I'm Hannibal of the A Team and I love that you all know the show and we've watched it together regardless of how dated and cornball it was)

So this week mom was feeling fifteen and the wheels on the bus were just grinding and grinding and I gave myself a concussion practically. You see, there was this boy. Oh I can't be too specific. You all know mom can not be getting sick over imaginary things! Why I have every intention to live to be a hundred just so that I can get on your nerves when you're older. I have it all planned out! Oops! There I go again.

Mom's better now. Maybe the boy was a figment of her imagination but you know what, it was fun wondering for a while. I promise if anything real materializes you all will be the very first I run to with the news. So now, the bus is parked and I've given all the wheels flats. I've been as good a mom as I can be for these last 25 years (yes, I'm counting the nine months sweety!) and it's me time now. I really must stop trying to figure everything out, even problems that may or may not arise. It's tiring and no fun. Mom is in much need of fun right now. It has been an intense decade, that's for sure.

Mom's on a wonderful journey, re-discovering herself and her childhood and it's an amazing and wonderful thing! I don't think I've been this happy in eight years! And we all know why that is! Just reread my first book, Defining Moments! Mommy was NOT a happy camper. Settling into a life of serving my purpose always had me fulfilled but it's been such a long time since I've felt carefree, happy and dare I say it, truly in love? I do feel carefree. I do feel happy.

I look at all of you and see that being that serious mom paid off. We have talked through all of my mistakes so you'll have something to go on IF you ever find yourself in a similar situation. Remember though, don't worry your way into them, that's not for single people without children! Now, when you have children (notice I didn't say "if") then you'll have a bit more brain power to exert but this Glam Ma will be right there, laughing at you the whole time, waiting for my hugs and apologies. Seriously, you all were too amazing to raise, I can't say enough on how I'd live my life, the same way, all over again. Yes boys, the same, exact life. Every painful moment too.

Why? Can't you see it on my face? Because everything I did, every good, great, stupid, crappy, silly thing I did, gave me all of you and led me here. HERE. TODAY. THIS MOMENT. I am breathing in this moment deeply and my body is radiating energy, love and filling me with such peace and calm and pure joy. I am loving this moment. I am looking forward to the next. I have no idea where it will take me but you know what, no more trying to figure that out, then figure out "what ifs".

Well, unless it's "what if the boys cook dinner tonight so I won't have to".

I adore you all.

Mom

(look, no need for meds!)





Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and now on parenting. She is writing a series of "Dear Kids" letters to her three sons on a series of topics and issues.
Her website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Her books can be found online: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon

Mother to three amazing self sufficient civic minded sons. Devin Christopher, 24, Fashion Designer, college student in NYC and youngest athletic director ever hired at a major sports complex in NYC. Antonio Fernandez, 20, choreographer, dancer, model, college student in NYC, has already performed with Cyndi Lauper at the Beacon Theatre and simply ready for his close-up. Taylor Aidan, almost 18 (at this release), HS Senior in NYC, amazing singer who is studying to be the next greatest sign language interpreter the world's ever known. (DISCLAIMER: Ok, mom wrote that.)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Dear Sons, Mom's Been In Need Of Some Serious Healing

Dear boys;

I guess you've been wondering what's gotten into me lately. After all, you've seen me at my worst for so long that by now you know all the signs.

Don't talk to mom early in the morning, she'll be moody. Don't talk to mom when she get's home, for AT LEAST an hour, she'll get crabby. Don't talk to mom right before she goes to bed or she'll go off. Sigh......... yes, it's been a hard decade for mom.

I want you to know that you all have been great and amazing sons. You've endured me in my maniacal manic slumps and have been right there with me during my insanely Bi-Polar highs as well. Raising you has been the most amazing part of my life bar none. None of the other things I've done compare to the awesomeness that it is of being your mother. You are the only human beings on earth that knows what it is to live with such a simple yet complicated human being like me and I believe you can live anywhere, with anyone and will be fine. A testament to all that is so great about each one of you.

See, love is complicated. Oh it's easy to love another human being but to do so in a healthy way is where it gets really messy. You have to start by loving yourself first. Yep, this is my A-HA. I didn't realize this until recently. Oh we all here the slogans, the mottos, the taglines, the quotes..."LOVE" is everywhere, being forced down our throats, embedded into our psyches, sold in every ad.

RuPaul said it, “If you don't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

I've spent my adult life looking for something that I should have simply been giving to myself all along. The part about adding another person really has everything to do with sharing time and space. If two people who love themselves can enjoy their time and space with another human being then, voila! That's "love". Well dammit, so it took me 47 years to figure that shit out!

For the past few years you've seen me go in and out of hibernation, a licking of my wounds after what I thought were failed relationships. In fact my darlings, I was trying to make those connections into things they weren't. I was trying to make them out to be the fairy tales I grew up with and we were the characters of those great sagas. LOL, yes, your mom is crazy but she has an AMAZINGLY creative imagination. After all, if I'm going to be the heroine of my own novel, I'm going to BE THE HEROINE. And here in was the problem, I thought that my trials and tribulations were failures when in fact I was just hurting and looking for solace.

I have some very deep wounds my darlings but I promise you that I am healing, finally. The tears you may catch a glimpse at are healing tears. I've been avoiding the wounds for so long that the scars are many. It will take a while and when I slip, maybe into an old habit that doesn't do me any good, I try not to be too hard on myself, I try to find out why I slipped into that old habit and what was I trying to avoid again.

Some of my wounds have to do with those who you know I've devoted my time to. I'm always in awe of your candidness when I ask for your opinion of a love interest. I'm sitting here beaming from the inside out as I remember your responses, "as long as you're happy". You all say that first. I am so blessed that you've all persevered during these rough times for me. That at least you all did as I preached and not as I'd done. You all love yourselves first and it is so obvious to all I introduce you to just how mature and amazing you all are. So unique, fabulously one of a kind - times three!

My wounds also have a great deal to do with my fears. I was afraid for so long that I couldn't raise you right, in terms of finances and so the harder I worked the more afraid I was that I'd never make enough. Then the issues with the house started in 2008 and well, foreclosure is a frightening frightening thing and I was hellbent on enduring it alone (yeah, see above, self-love, gotta have it). So, you see, your mom's been blaming herself for everything, everything and probably all of the world's issues for good measure. If things didn't go right between me and someone I loved I'd blame myself, if work didn't go well, I'd blame me, yes. mom was a sad bundle of blame for a very long time. And doing that for a very long time does exactly what it did to me, it made me physically ill. Then I spent the years in silence afraid I was dying when in fact it was the fear that was killing me; slowly, painfully.

I've not always been there for you and it is some of why my heart breaks but once I realized that I wasn't there for myself, so how the heck could I be there for anyone else. It took a long time getting here and I have a great way to go.

This year has been pivotal. I came close to marrying again which was honestly frightening for me, and I'd witnessed the passing of so many people my age as well. I think the fact that by this time next year each of you will be in your own respect colleges at the same time and I'll be home alone was the beginning of the end of this vicious cycle I'd been in. My young men, each one on your individual journeys of your lives and that part of my life as Mother Hen/Tigress, for good or bad, will be over. Onto Supportive Mom next and I'm looking forward to that with great gusto as well.

So you see kids, mom's working on herself now and just like Dolly Levi I think it's time for me to join the human race and not be so hard on myself. I see forest green shutters in my life, starting right now, actually, I'm several weeks into this new found love for myself and it's going to take some getting used to. I've a great many excuses and distractions at the ready and I'm sure you've seen me hiccup a few of those buggers in the last few days.

NOTE: "Always" and "Never", not a couple of great words, believe you me. I try not to use them. Well, except for when I say I love you. ALWAYS. That's because I mean it, from within my soul, energy flowing through all my chakras (now if you ask then I'll make you listen so don't, LOL), from every level of consciousness that is me, when I say I LOVE YOU, it is real, it is pure. I've gone over everyone I've said that to and I realize I do. I did and I will always love them for the people they are, even now. They were special, to me, at one point in my life and I love their souls. (no, relax, I will not be revisiting any of those paths) Mom's finally let go, of the ideas of them all. Letting go of the idea is the hardest thing to do, I'd spent a life clinging to ideas.

So, mom is now on the journey of healing herself by loving herself first. Oh I have frightened myself into old habits once or twice but I'm getting better, I feel it, in my soul and in my bones. I laugh easier, I cry easier, I love easier and I'm having the time of my life with myself. Being your own BFF is interesting but I check in with myself first now, as best as I can until I hope it becomes second nature.

My darlings, if you see me down or pensive and you want to ask me what's wrong, it's alright. I've not been in a crabby moody mood for days now. Uhm, but it's still not a good idea to catch me before I go to bed... LOL. I need my beauty sleep.

Love ALWAYS,
Mom




Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and now on parenting. She is writing a series of "Dear Kids" letters to her three sons on a series of topics and issues.
Her website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Her books can be found online: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dear Sons, I've Been Meaning To Get To That, You Know - My Life

Dear Kids,

I had this idea, ohhh last week, and it was a really great idea! I can't wait to tell you about it! As a matter of fact, it's so great I should have called each of you and told you at that moment but I was distracted, at first by work. I wa at work and so I told myself that I would tell you all about it that evening when I got home.

I forgot to write it down to remind myself, I am closing in on fifty you know, I really should write down a daily list of things I'd like to accomplish like I used to when I was younger, like last year. So I forgot to write it down and as soon as I got home I had to unwind. The day's stresses all over me like slime, you know that I need a good hour where everyone must beware and not try to approach me with THEIR stuff or I'll bite their heads off.

Actually, about that, I've gotten better. No, I'm not on new medication, smart alecks. I've been researching stress relief options so that when I'm driving home I don't want to run down any of the idiots I come across every day. Goodness but why does it feel as if I've entered into a world of morons? Did they all just get dumped on this planet all of a sudden or were we in a bunker when the dumbass rays came beaming down? I swear everyone is just six degrees of being permanent residents of Bellevue Hospital, no offense to the Hospital.

Oh yeah, where was I, I had something to tell you all but wait, I put down my things, I picked up my mail and I'm just in disbelief to the tons of GARBAGE I'm receiving. It's election time and we're a month away from elections. Now I'm a pretty active participant in my community (I call 311 every single time I have an idea with a city agency!) and oh YES, let me tell you why you should call 311 every single time you see an issue you are unhappy with.

Well, it seems that things only get done in this city when there is a trail of complaints. For example, potholes. They're not going to fill themselves up of course and this city isn't exactly resident-friendly (I blame the Mayor but that's a whole other encyclopedia on politics) and the city's excuse is "if we don't know about it, it doesn't exist". Oh really? You know my mantra, the one about "learn all of the rules and then beat the bastards at their own game". Well, if they need to know ti exists to fix it then I'm going to CALL 311 (their online website is atrocious and NOT meant to be helpful but waste people's time!) and sit through the ridiculous labyrinth of options they offer before we get to a live person and BE SPECIFIC. There is a pothole on such and such a street, in between this avenue and that avenue and the pothole is directly across from the Piggly Wiggly or whatever landmark you record. Have them repeat it to you. Then ask them to repeat their name, possible an ID number and yes, you will leave your name and number and yes you do want a confirmation number as YES, you will be looking for an update.

Now all this may seem like a waste of time but truthfully, the waste of time is in doing nothing.

After you've done ALL that, here is the trick. They may make note of it but it won't be fixed unless there are an ABUNDANT NUMBER (a number THEY seem to pick out of the sky apparently) of complaints before the incident or complaint goes up that ladder of priority for them. So now you call every time you pass by that pothole. Personally, twice a day for three days is the most I've had to call. Once in the morning, going to work, and once in the evening coming home. Now of course you will get those people who say, why don't you just go another route. My loves, tell them to mind their own business. You don't answer to anyone but yourselves (and me until you're 21, oops, that means only the baby is still trapped huh, LOL)

You can change route if you like or if you find this inconvenient you can take it upon yourself to be a good citizen and let the city know, hey, you have an issue here that can be dangerous for people, can you please fix it. Ok, next!
Oh yeah, so I'm getting all these ridiculous placards and posters and flyers for people who apparently think the only time they need to show up is the month before the election. SMH. Remember to recycle. It's good for the environment and yes your neighbors may not, which sucks but as long as you do your share and they are not encroaching on your property, thereby having you call 311 yet again and again until they are fined to the point of - oh look! THEY GOT THE POINT!

Coming home, unwinding, trying to relax and enjoy what few hours of the day are left until you have to get to bed and rest so that your day can start over again, it's a lot. Sometimes I'm not in the mood to hear about everyone's day and I do recognize when we all get a little to withdrawn in ourselves because we'll go through days where everyone is home, I come in and we each murmur hello and go our separate ways into our own rooms. Sometimes that is just what we need but I do try to get us all together at least once a week so that too much time doesn't get away from us and we don't become strangers in the same house.

I've finally unwinded, sitting down, was just about to turn on the Roku to catch my favorite shows when I realized that if I did that I'd never get a chance to really sit with you all and tell you my idea! So I yell out to you, no I am not going to spend money on an intercom when I can still get each of your attention by yelling "COME DOWN, MOM WANTS YOU". Ok, so we're all here and it's now that it dawns on me just how much I love and adore each of you. I see the faces of my babies staring back at me, with nothing but your full attention and then you become the young men that you are and I can see life and its experiences started to get etched on your beautiful faces adding marvelous detail and character. I am so ready to share with you and be in that moment and I can't even remember the stress of my day anymore.

"Let's go on a family vacation."

Yes my loves, that was my great idea. It has been over eight years now. Since I purchased the house and every dime has been on just keeping us all afloat and we are blessed to be healthy and alive and even if it turns out being a "family staycation" I don't care. Time together, even for a weekend is what we need. Next year each of you will be in your own respective colleges and it will be my first year on my own, ever.

Mom wants to be mom to all of you in one place just one last time before you go off into the world and begin your own individual journeys. No, I am not taking everyone to Vegas and I think Disney has been done besides apparently Florida is sinking so let's look into something more manageable.

Yes life gets to become so full of distractions that we find we put it off or forget to live. Well, I won't forget if you won't forget. Live my darlings, stop and enjoy your moments. Do your duty, produce at work, but remember to relax and take note of your experiences.

I love you.

Mom


Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and now on parenting. She is writing a series of "Dear Kids" letters to her three sons on a series of topics and issues.
Her website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Her books can be found online: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon

Friday, August 9, 2013

Dear Sons, I'm So Sorry I Won The Lottery, Here Let Me Give It Back

Like most overworked, overstressed parents there are times when I let my mind wander, sometimes a little TOO far into fantasy. It happened Tuesday morning and I'm still reeling from the effects three days later.

Dear Boys;

All I ever wanted was to see you all happy, for each of you to have a life of substance and purpose and meaning. I really screwed that up didn't I. See, I didn't mean to win the Lottery. I wished and wished each day that we struggled to get by for just enough relief so that we could have some breathing room and enjoy the fruits of our labor. But that wasn't meant to be, not when all this cash fell into mommy's unprepared lap.

It happened instantaneously and I couldn't keep track of all the bills that could now be paid off - but wait! Priority! Priority! The house! Pay off the house! Shoot forget this house, we'll buy another one! No! Wait, grandma needs a house, let's do that first. Well, we'll get to that later. Why there's the uncles and aunts and oh wait, we have cousins we can't leave out. My lifelong friends who were there helping me by baby-sitting for you. I can not leave out the people that were there for us when we had nothing to our names. Sure they did it out of love but nothing says I love you back like here's a wad of cash right?!?

The emails and cellphones would start ringing and mommy would be overrun almost immediately by everyone she'd ever met! Whoa, I know I'd met a lot of people but damn! People who had some serious nerve looking for a handout??? REALLY DUDE! You kicked me in the Third Grade!

This is when it began to sour for me boys because what came over me made me ill. I started a list. Yes, a list of the relatives who weren't around when times were tough, you know who, the judgmental ones who spent more time talking about us, of the friends who really weren't friends, who I was going to have the pleasure of NOT helping out. It started to get even bigger, this feeling of power and meanness. All the frustration of not being taken seriously just came to a head. Wanting to teach a lesson to those who marginalized your mom when all she wanted to do was matter and make a difference. I was going to give a vacation to our dentist's receptionist who was so cool to us but I was going to spurn away any attempts at helping out that postal delivery guy who always threw our packages recklessly on our porch.

Mom went a bit off the path with this need to validate herself by "punishing" those who made her feel less than. That's not what a lottery is for, is it? To wag cash in the faces of those who don't have it? To inch a few people up on another rung of the imaginary ladder of society's definition of "success" above some others. I was losing myself in trying to make myself feel better after all those years of feeling trounced upon that soon I forgot all about the charities I wanted to donate to, the organizations I wanted to join.

The job I was ready to quit turned into the place where I could wield my lucky (?) lottery wand and as I sat in my cubicle I wondered who from this god forsaken place would I save and who would I leave behind. As if it was my job to save any of them?? But no, I wanted to see the looks on the faces of the knuckleheads who treated your mom like crap for 20 years, when I, like an Empress changed forever the life of a co-worker, simply because they were cool enough to get me a coffee with cream every once in a while. Oh kids, I was done for and I hadn't even cashed the check yet!

It grew worse this Lottery Fever that gripped me and my soul! I envisioned paying off each of your college tuitions at first, this way you'd have nothing hindering you from concentrating on your studies and then all of a sudden I was taken over with this notion that if I just gave each of you a small fortune you wouldn't need to even bother going!!! WHAT??!!

Oh the injustice! In one fell swoop I had damned you all to a life of material consumption, without a strategic plan or compass that would give you the answers when trials and tribulations arise. I had left you with only a bag of cash as your arsenal. SMH. A path with no goals, no milestones to really create out of wonder or need, just sailing in an ocean and no map to guide you anywhere. The hours of study and focus and learning of skills that would enhance your lives and the lives of those you touched and met along your own journeys lost and replaced with hours of leisure and hedonistic adventures. Where would you find your passions if there was nothing left for you to desire???

Mommy was in a tail spin and she was flushing all of our futures down the drain just for the sake of a little bit of financial relief! Our lives lost to wanting too much of just one resource, one tool! How I longed for those times when we all pitched in when the times got hard. How wonderful you are were when I explained which bills could be paid and which ones couldn't and why some of the things you wanted I couldn't get because it was not within our budget. How proud I was seeing your understanding faces and how my heart still tugs when you all hugged me and said it would always be alright and we would stick together and get through it.

And then it happened! The truth so clearly in my face! The longing for financial relief was real but the hunger for riches was gone. I was richer than any of my wildest dreams boys and you all know mom's got one heck of an imagination! So times get tough, ok then. Mommy is going to come home and we'll sit down like we do and we'll talk about what we can have and what we can't - for now - and we'll get through it. We love our life, tough as it can be sometimes, and I'll squirrel a few dollars here and there so that when that tuition bill comes around you won't have to work too many hours to make up the difference. You'll all go to your respective colleges, all state or city, you'll find your passions as you go out and meet people and go places and see new things. You'll be too busy figuring out what you love to do to spend that bag of currency. Because that's all it would have been. A bag of currency that would have led to passions put aside for that rush of immediate gratification, then an addiction to that.

Boys, I gave it all back. The dream of some relief turned into a nightmare of vindictiveness and petty revenge, of coddling and corrupting, of power playing and punishing. Too much of a good thing isn't good...darn it who said that? So I put back the lottery tickets, the money is going into your Tuition Plans. THAT IS THE SUREST BEST I KNOW I'LL WIN!
You'll struggle, we all do, but you'll have your own journey to experience, not one preordained by my selfishness. Of course if it gets too hard you have me to lean on... So, you see, I gave it back. All of it and I can't wait to get home and tell you all, just how amazing we have it, tough times and all!

Mom