The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same

Post I wrote but never published from June 2012:
Welcome and forgive my absence, as usual a lot has been happening around here. Life is constantly throwing things at you just when you think you’re at the finish line – an obstacle gets thrown up in front of you.  It’s June and graduation season is here and in ten days my son will be graduating from high school.  It’s been a long, hard road at times.  The finish line was clearly in sight, he had just a few weeks and he would be done.  All it took was an unfortunate push from behind during a lacrosse game while he was coming out from the goal resulting in a torn ACL needing surgery to make the sprint to the finish line more of a hurtle.
The surgery was 9 days ago but it feels like its been a month.  The first week, twenty four hours a day his knee has been on ice requiring me to fill up the ice machine multiple times a day and once during the overnight.  He had to be given medication as well on top of having to use a CPM (continuous Passive Motion) machine for 6 hours a day. 
It’s been hard to do anything around here to say the least.  Since the surgery I have only been out once and that was with him to go to the physical therapist.  He still has to finish his senior project, a photography portfolio of his work in order to graduate which is due next week. His prom is next week too. 
He did the same thing to his leg last year but earlier in the season. This kid has been injured every single year of high school playing lacrosse. The first two years it was concussions. The second concussion was so severe he was out of school for 24 days and had headaches for months before finally disappearing altogether. 

I reread the post above which I never published at the time for reasons I don’t remember and I get knot in my stomach.  Eight days ago I received a phone call from Nick, my son who is now a freshman at Ithaca College. I had just finished a long relaxing bath after my metal sculpting class (washing is required afterwards since I look like I’ve been down in the coal mines). My cell phone went off around 2pm but I didn’t recognize the number and almost didn’t pick up. It was Nick, he sounded upset and scared. He said he had been in an accident snowboarding.  My first thought – his knees and did he hit his head.  It was difficult to understand him a little – his breathing was labored which I figured was from him being so emotional.  He tells me he thinks he dislocated his shoulder or something – I relax. Dislocated shoulder, not problem we’ve dealt with much worse.  I tell him everything will be okay and that he should keep me posted and that I’d call his Dad who was also in Vermont at the time. He said okay and hung up.

It was long before he called again and said that the EMTs at the base lodge told him he didn’t have a dislocated shoulder and recommended that he get x-rays at the hospital. Since I was no where near Nick and I was getting the information via text message and poor-cell connected short calls, my concern level wasn’t tremendously high at this point. Nick has complained in a text about waiting with all the other morons in the emergency room and how he just wanted to go an hang with his friends. I was afraid he’d leave if the wait was too long.  I was in bed watching TV when he finally called me again. He put the doctor on the phone who proceeded to tell me that Nicholas punctured his lung, bruised his kidney and could have a hairline fracture in one of his lower lumbar vertebrae. He recommended that Nick stay the night in the hospital although he said that Nick wanted to go back the condo and stay with his friends and just rest.  It was at the time I had my boyfriend who is training to be an EMT who told me that the doctor couldn’t force Nick to stay their legally – all he could do was urge Nick to stay.  “Put Nick back on” were my next words.  He was scared and didn’t want to be alone in the hospital. I told him had to stay  – it had become clear he had suffered a traumatic impact –  that I’d get his father to get down there as quickly as possible – but he had to stay with the doctors. I was relieved when he finally agreed.

Some people rely on the groundhog to predict spring – we have Nick’s annual injury which seems to have become our own personal indicator of spring. However, so much has change in our household since Nick’s first injuries in high school.  Nick is in college – struggling to find his way through making the transition from living at home to living at college and being responsible for one’s self.  I have been in a relationship with a wonderful man who I’ve known for 25 years. We will celebrate our second anniversary of being together in May and has lived with us for the last 18 months or so.  We also started a new business together, Homegrown Harvest where we help people grow their own vegetables by installing pre-seeded and planted raised bed and container gardens for them.  My daughter has been on her own journey throughout the years. 17 now, she is a junior in high school who has been on her own journey of self discovery. Another story for another blog entry, I’m sure.

Change happens in all sorts of ways. Sometimes it happens fast and sometimes its gradual.  It can be painful. But overall change is good, it means your life isn’t stagnant.  Life should be like a flowing river – at times there maybe rapids and it gets narrow and rocky. Other times it flows slower, calmer and stretches out comfortably.  Either way the river is in constant motion.  Sometimes in life we don’t always feel like we are making forward progression that we may have taken a few steps backwards from time to time. That’s life on the river – it can sometimes lead you down a false tributary that leads to an end where the waters lay stagnant. It’s your decision to get out and find the right path though. Sure it will take a lot of effort and energy at first as you have to work your way through the marshes and blaze your trail back where you eventually find the waters flowing again and lift you along with them. Just remember you are the one steering the boat. You are the one making the decisions to set a new course – to make that change despite how difficult it may be. 

My brother taught me this lesson when I was 25 years old and engaged to someone I realized was not the right person for me in the long run and I felt trapped and scared and alone. Some of this may have been because I was drunk off my ass when I had this epiphany in the bathroom of my godparents’ house as my future in-laws and my fiance’s two brothers were showing up to meet my parents and family for the first time. I was in there for 3 hours terrified to come out.  I eventually let me best friend in and my sister in law in. After many hours I emerged from the bathroom and hid in my cousin’s room where my brother gave me I have dubbed “The Path Talk”.  He was the one who told me the story of being on a path in life and discovering it wasn’t the path.  He said when that happens you can always change paths but sometimes you may have to get your machete out and blaze a new trail to a new path and that can get messy and take a lot of effort but in the end you will find a clear path for yourself.  I have lived by these words over the years and found them to be some of the greatest words to live by.

It’s A Family Affair

It’s a family affair
It’s a family affair
It’s a family affair
It’s a family affair
One child grows up to be
Somebody that just loves to learn
And another child grows up to be
Somebody you’d just love to burn
Mom loves the both of them
You see it’s in the blood
Both kids are good to Mom
Blood’s thicker than the mud
It’s a family affair
It’s a family affair

Lyrics to the Sly & The Family Stone song “It’s a Family Affair” circa 1971

Sly and The Family Stone knew what they were talking about – there is no bond stronger than a mother’s love of her children. All mother’s will say they love their children all the same – which is true in a way. I have two children and I love them equally but I have a different and special place in my heart for each of them. My first born was a son, my second a daughter – the amount of love if the same. How I love my children does it effect the way they are shaped as people – most definitely.

But I think family order plays a major role in shaping your own character – whether you are a first born male vs. female; middle child or only child, 6th in a family of 8 children (God knows that must be happening more and more often with the rising success of invitro-fertilization!) Don’t think so? Remember Jon and Kate Plus 8 on TLC and then you have families like the Duggars on what 19 and Counting -good god! Invitro and multiples have become increasing more commonplace. I was blessed not to have to endure the countless injections and many other hardships that those strong women endure. To be sure they are some of the toughest cookies out there to subject themselves to the onslaught of tests, shots, poking and probing in areas that don’t like to be poked – all in the name for the love of their own child. A creation they’ve made together with their beloved spouse – a little part of each of them that will eventually drive them insane as teenagers!

We each share a unique relationship with our mother which I believe has something to do with our birth order. I think a mother tends to remember more things about the first child since it was THE first. No other distractions from siblings to take away from the memories. This drives my daughter nuts that I remember my son’s first movie and not hers. Well excuse me for remembering going to a drive-in movie to see Lion King after being stuck up in the house all winter in sub-zero temperatures. It’s not to say that I don’t remember anything about her birth or things that happened during her first years because of course, I do. However, sometimes when put on the spot I may fail that pop quiz of hers. Mothers love their children unconditionally and whether one kid is a math whiz and the other is not – in the eyes of the mother she loves both equally the same. But kids tend to feel that parents favor one child over another in some way, that someone is the “golden child” and never fully believe them when they are told they are equally loved.

Families these days have evolved – long gone are the days of Leave It To Beaver

and welcome the Modern Family

This must make for some very interesting and complicated family dynamics. When I was growing up more of my friends parents were married (their first marriage) as opposed to divorced. I don’t think that’s the case for kids these days or at the very least its a hell of a lot more common day then it was back in the 1970’s and even 1980’s.

We all know life is not a sitcom but if you watch Modern Family or Parenthood, another favorite of mine,


you see that there is a common thread that families that communicate remain closer and are better off for it, no matter what type of family you have – traditional, or blended. It takes time, effort and a ton of energy to achieve this too. It can be exhausting on you mentally and physically. Even if you feel like you are going through hell and back on the way; it’s your family and aren’t they worth the trouble? Mine is and hopefully yours is too!