Excerpt from my book: Mom’s Eye View
The price of love does have a dollar amount.
The holiday season is upon us and so are the vultures. As their unsuspecting victims, they always seem to swoop down when we’re at our most vulnerable. They come at us at the time of year when we worry about how we’re going to find the money to pay for fuel, fill the cupboards with food, make the car payment, as well as buy Christmas presents.
This is when the vultures tempt us with the allure of an easily acquired, high interest rate credit card, which seems like the answer to our prayers.
Resist! Resist I say! But the pull is strong and the process so simple. Approval is almost guaranteed as long as you have a job and have been paying your bills on time. When the card arrives, just days before Christmas, it seems so beautiful; its shiny exterior lulling us into a false sense of financial security.
We tell ourselves, “it’s only a few thousand dollars, I can double up on payments and have it paid off in no time.” Or, “no problem, I’ll just pay it off after Christmas.”
Yeh right, that never really happens…most of us will only make the minimum payment and then bitch about the outrageous interest rates and how we’re getting shafted by the credit card companies. This is our punishment for being sucked into the world’s biggest scam in the first place. It’s the trade-off we make in order to indulge our expectant offspring.
As parents, we hate to disappoint our children. They’re the proof that our time here on earth hasn’t been wasted. They’re the ones who will carry on our family name, hopefully make it mean something in the future. They’re the ones who’ll make our family tree grow bigger and fill it with more apples. So, the last thing we want to do is piss them off.
They tell us they’re worthy of these gifts that they so desperately need. That to shower them with these gifts shows them the depth of our love. And if refused these wondrous commercial trinkets, the words, “you don’t love me!” will bounce off the walls of the house for days.
So, we grit our teeth and choke on the bile that rises in our throats as we agree to the credit card’s horrific and unrealistic terms of service and then reluctantly hand over a good portion of our paychecks to their out-stretched, greedy hands.
Then next Christmas when we again hear the cry, “if you loved me, then you’d get that for me!”
We’ll hand our blessed, darling children the bill from last year’s love-fest and say, “remember last Christmas when you had to have that gaming system and headset and the games to go with it? Here’s the love bill for that.”
From my poetry notebook…This Ain’t Shakespeare.
Long lashes lowered.
Full lips over a knowing smile.
Flowing tresses that tease with their softness.
Curves that entice with her every move.
Open and willing, flaunting her needs.
Encouraging, suggesting, ignoring his ring.
No one will miss it.
It’s just a few dollars.
They have so much.
She has so little.
The children need shoes.
There’s no food in the cupboards and the rent is due.
So easy to slip the money,
From the cash drawer into her pocket.
The doctor says no.
Anymore and he’ll die.
But the need is so strong.
The struggle so fierce.
The addiction controls his every move.
Temptation is thrown at us from everywhere.
How we respond to it is our choice.
Excerpt from my book…Mom’s Eye View.
When I was a little girl my biggest fear was the “Monster Under the Bed.” Others may have had the “Monster in the Closet,” but either way the monster was there and definitely something to be feared.
My monster lived under the bed only at night, during the day it was never there. Not when I played hide and seek with my siblings or even when I had to retrieve a toy from under the bed. It only made its presence known in the dark of the night. My imagination conjured up a monster with scales, red, glowing eyes, a mouthful of sharp, jagged teeth and a body that slithered back and forth beneath my bed, with only the box spring and mattress keeping me safe from it.
My sister and I shared the same bed and would scare one another with our silly monster stories. When we had finally worked ourselves up into a whispered state of panic we would huddle in the center of the bed, “our safe place,” and stay as far away from the edges as we possibly could. We wholeheartedly believed that if we got too close to the edge the monster would be able to reach up and grab us with its long, cutting talons; ripping us to shreds in a matter of seconds.
When we got too scared we’d comfort one another and provide each other with enough strength to get us through the night. Upon hearing actual scurrying noises in the walls or in the ceiling, as we did most nights, we never doubted that the noises were the monster duplicating itself over and over in order to surround us and then more easily capture us and turn us into an evening meal.
We never stopped to consider that we lived in old apartment buildings that were notorious for having rat and mice infestations. To us, it was the monster and nothing else.
We’d eventually fall asleep, sticking close to one another, providing one another with comfort and support when our fears were outweighing our common sense.
My sister and I have always been this way though, we stick together and along with my other two sisters, we all can be a formidable force. As we’ve all gotten older and more independent though, we realize we don’t always have to fight each other’s monsters. But it sure is nice knowing that you’ve got someone to cover your back when the monsters decide to sneak up on you.
I rarely write in depth about my personal life. What I have to say is generally through the words of a poem and the meaning is fairly obvious to those who read it. I don’t mince words and I don’t beat around the bush…I say what the hell is on my mind and the consequences be damn. But I have been struggling for years with a sort of depression that comes from things not having worked out the way I had envisioned. And I know I’m not alone in these kinds of feelings. I truly believe, everyone, at one point or another has suffered through these kinds of feelings. It’s how we deal with them that makes the difference.
When I divorced my second husband, I had in mind that my life would somehow be different, that I would be better off on my own. I didn’t want or need anyone telling me how I should or shouldn’t live my life…to insinuate that my thoughts and feelings were secondary to his. At age 46, I had had enough of that and after fifteen years of marriage to this man, I left my marriage.
I had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to do, how I would afford to take care of myself or if love would ever find me again. I fell into what the doctor’s told me was “low-grade” depression. I was prescribed anti-depressants and although they may have worked, I was uncomfortable taking drugs, so I stopped…which probably wasn’t the smartest move because whatever depression I had been feeling quickly escalated. I moped around, felt like a sloth, drank way too much wine and slept and slept and slept. I was motivated only to go to work (bills still had to paid) and would put on my happy face for my children when they visited (can’t let the kids know what a basket-case Mom was).
This went on for over two years. Even though I began dating again, I wasn’t able to give myself to the notion of a “true romance.” I fought it and felt undeserving of any sort of kindness he showed me. We never became the sort of relationship I felt I was meant for and we soon broke things off. I fell into an even deeper depression and found myself almost unable to climb out of it. I had failed at my marriage, failed at a potential relationship, I was unable to keep my finances in order, I had cut off most of my family, and my children were getting older and didn’t need to rely on me. Who was I, if I wasn’t a mother? A wife? Not even a girlfriend? I was nobody.
I turned inward. I filled journal after journal with crazy scribblings, rants, injustices done to me. Page after page of anger, resentment, built-up words that had gone unsaid. It poured out of me like a mad, raging thunderstorm. Cutting and slicing, the rain beating me down into a drenched mess of emotion.
And it was weird, but writing, for me, was the answer. To write the words, that had for years rolled around inside my head, seemed to give me a sense of relief, of freedom.
I never shared any of this with anyone. Those journals were for me and me only. In fact, I no longer even have them, they were ripped up and thrown into the trash years ago. I no longer needed them, I had said what I needed. Nobody else needed to read it. I doubt they would even understand the torture of feeling useless, unworthy and unneeded.
Depression is real, it makes us forget everything that’s good and beautiful in our lives. It weighs so heavily that at times we feel as though we are being smothered by the sheer enormity of it. Thoughts of suicide constantly flicker and seems like the only answer to find the relief from the black and dark places that fill our minds. It is a heavy weight that begs us to follow it into a murky cesspool.
I cannot say that my dark thoughts have disappeared, they have not, it’s not that simple. What keeps me in the light, is my children and my grandson. How completely selfish would it be of me to forget what I mean to THEM? What kind of suffering would they go through because I had decided that ending my life was the only possible solution?
But, No! I am stronger than that! I want to see my son fall in love and give his heart to another! I want to see my daughter and son-in-law, grow old together! I want to see my grandson grow into a man! These are the things that life is about.
So, I pull myself out of the cesspool and just get on with things.
From my poetry notebook…This Ain’t Shakespeare.
What does a young girl know?
More than she should.
How to keep from getting a fist in the face,
By going down on her knees.
How to avoid the biting sting of a slender tree limb,
By lying helplessly on her back and succumbing to force.
How to stop the lash of a black, leather belt,
By surrendering her body to what she knows is wrong.
What else is a young girl taught?
Things she should never be taught.
Not to trust,
Because trust leads to disappointment.
How to deceive,
Because her entire life is a lie.
How to present a smile to the world,
When inside she’s drowning in her own tears.
Not to believe what is shown in the mirror.
Because her eyes see a pretty, little girl.
But her mind sees a child, ugly and twisted.
What else does a young girl know?
Exactly what she needs to.
She learns to survive.
To hibernate in her own silent shell.
To build up invisible walls.
That even hurt cannot penetrate.
She learns to free her mind from her body.
To a place where they can co-exist,
Without falling to pieces.
This is what a young girl learns…
From her father.
From my book…Mom’s Eye View.
There’s nothing as lonely as an overgrown playground with rusting equipment. The sight of an abandoned school yard bereft of the sounds of children at play, is like seeing a backyard pool with autumn leaves floating across the darkened water. It reminds me of the passing of seasons and the loss of lazy afternoons filled with fun and laughter.
I stand and look at what once was a small schoolhouse, now converted into a home. I see, in my mind, the shadows of its former life. The windows lifted open wide on a warm spring day, the fresh air clearing out the chalk dust and mustiness of a classroom that’s been closed off for the winter. I can see the doors suddenly banging open as children rush out to claim the spring day as their own.
They burst onto the schoolyard, a bundle of tamped down energy, charging towards the once shiny swings. The swing’s only purpose, to aid in its young pilot’s flight into the heavens.
I can visualize the crooked line of impatient children waiting to mount the first step that will lead to the top of a gleaming slide. I see the sun beating down on its surface, warming it to a finger jumping touch. The glare from the sun on the shiny slide, momentarily blinding the children; causing them to squint before flying down the length of the slide.
I imagine hearing the playful screams of little girls being chased by boys. Boys climbing over one another as they scale the jungle gym; racing against one another in order to be the first to make it to the top.
On the asphalt, jump rope fanatics twirl and skip to a monotonous and lyrical beat. Still others hopscotch into chalked squares after throwing down a pebble.
The sound of a basketball slamming against a backboard; then the resounding thwack of it hitting the tar, prompts a whoop from a child who is now two points ahead in the game.
A whistle tweets and a loud chorus of disappointment echoes across the playground. Children reluctantly shuffle across the school yard to line up, single file, then obediently re-enter the small house of education.
I walk over the to now-faded leather seat of a swaying swing and sit. I automatically push off and begin to pump my feet, then arch my back in an effort to increase momentum. I close my eyes and think back to a little girl who also yearned to reach the heavens.
When I open my eyes, I realize how quickly the years have flown by and I’m saddened by the passage of time. There are so many demands on being an adult that there seems no time to relax. Would I want to be a child again? I don’t think so. To go back would mean to relive my life. Though there are many moments that were wonderful, there are also moments of heartbreak and sorrow.
Still, it would be nice to feel that carefree spirit of when I was a child. To once again believe in nothing more than being able to reach the heavens, on playground swing.
From my book, Mom’s Eye View.