I Never Regret Mother’s Day

From time to time, I read posts on social media or hear people say in public they regret having had children. That someone would feel that way about their children — adopted, fostered, or biologically created — is shocking.  While I am among the first to say that parenting isn’t something to be taken on lightly or without complete dedication, I am also among the first to say that no one should ever regret having had children.

Back in 1995, I was weeks away from becoming a mom.  My feet were round (based on other people’s observations as I could no longer see my feet), it was gearing up to be the hottest summer on record where I lived (and the weather was making good on that promise already), my then-husband (being a long-haul trucker) was oftentimes hundreds of miles away from home, and I could no longer drive a car.  Why couldn’t I drive a car?  For me to be able to reach the gas and brake pedals, I had to be closer to the steering wheel than my pregnancy would actually allow.

When I went into labor early a few days later, it was a rush to the hospital where things didn’t look very good.  A few hours later, the staff at the hospital had managed to stop labor and I was sent back home.  As scary as that episode was, I didn’t regret being pregnant.  This was part of the journey.

When my son was born in July , the staff at the hospital told me there were problems.  He wasn’t going to make it through the first 24 hours.  I disagreed with that assessment. That night as I visited my son in NICU, I whispered to him, “Thank you for spending your first day with mommy.  I hope you’ll come back again tomorrow.”  Guess what happened?  The following morning, I held him in my arms, gazed into his eyes, and smiled.

A week later, my son was still in NICU and despite all sorts of tests, the staff at the hospital had no idea what was going on with my son.  Two weeks in, and still in NICU, they were none the wiser.  It was a harrowing time, especially for a new mom. but I had no regrets about being my son’s mother.

Over the years, my son’s health was unpredictable and difficult.  My then-husband decided early on to throw in the towel, and walk away from parenthood.  He oftentimes told me he regretted having our son.  Leaving our family created a hardship for me, but that’s how things go in life sometimes.  Despite all the troubles of trying to juggle hardly any money and the demands of ensuring a child with health issues has what he or she needs, I didn’t regret being a mom.  Every night, I would put my son to bed and whisper to him, “Thank you for spending another day with mommy.  I’ll see you tomorrow.”

As a toddler, my son was diagnosed with autism.  There were no services or supports available to help me help him:  Not even when the Children’s Advocate Office in Saskatchewan stepped in and tried to secure some kind of services or supports from the provincial government.  I still didn’t regret being a mom because my focus was on helping my son be the best version of himself possible.


School wasn’t easy for him either as two different school boards in which he was enrolled, struggled to understand how to encourage my son to work through social issues, deal with new experiences, and overcome challenges.  Despite the fact I kept telling them the world wasn’t a Special Needs World, most teachers, school staff, autism experts, and administrators from various levels within both school boards felt that catering to his comforts was the better way to deal with him.  I didn’t agree with them (just as I hadn’t agreed with the hospital staff when he was born) but sometimes you have to live with the fact that the many oftentimes drown out the voices of the few.  I still didn’t regret being my son’s mom.  It just meant I had to work harder with him to nudge him along his journey to become the best version of himself possible.

When he turned 12, he was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis which is a rare, incurable, life-threatening neuromuscular autoimmune disease that strikes 2 in 1 million children, and is 5 times more rare in children than in adults.  Over the years, he had suffered many “mystery” health issues that landed him in hospital, and it was one bad episode in particular that made me ask his pediatrician if he could test my son for Myasthenia Gravis.

“Myasthenia Gravis doesn’t happen in children,” he pronounced sternly with that look I had come to know all too well.  It was the look many closed-minded professionals reserved for parents they dismissed out of hand without considering the validity or the questions asked by those parents they dismissed out of hand.  “It only happens in old men over 60 and women over 40.”

“My brother was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis,” I replied respectfully.  “He wasn’t 60.  He was my son’s age.”

“No,” he insisted.  “This is definitely a tumor behind his eye.”

We discussed the matter for a few more minutes, and he decided to send my son to the Hospital for Sick Children to be tested for a tumor.  Because I insisted, he jotted down a note in the file for the doctors at the Hospital for Sick Children that indicated he felt I was being unreasonable, but to ‘manage’ me by doing a Tensilon test if nothing else showed up on the other tests.  Even with the pediatrician’s dismissive attitude, I didn’t regret being my son’s mother.

The Hospital for Sick Children, taking the pediatrician at his word, very nearly forgot the Tensilon test until I inquired about it.  They were so convinced I was a University of Google parent, they didn’t even have their camera set up to record the results of the Tensilon test.  It’s unfortunate these medical professionals were so convinced the pediatrician was right in his conclusions because that Tensilon test proved my son had Myasthenia Gravis.  Even with that news, I still didn’t regret being my son’s mother.

The next few months were some of the most trying for both of us, and after 14 months of battling Myasthenia Gravis, it was decided that a thymectomy was the only way to go as his health plummeted.   I knew how unpredictable Myasthenia Gravis could be (my late brother was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis back in the 1970s).  I knew how dangerous surgery could be.  I knew how dangerous the after-effects of surgery could be if he made it through the surgery itself.  These were dark times but I focused on the fact my son was alive and every night, I would say to him what I had said to him every night at bedtime since July 1995:  “Thank you for spending another day with me.  I’ll see you tomorrow.”

He entered high school and even though the school board seemed to overlook the fact that my son wanted to be in a regular class, by the second semester, he was auditing regular classes.  The following year, he began taking regular classes for credit, and by the time he was in Grade 11 he had a 79% average for all the classes he had taken.  He was a geek in that he loved computers, but he also excelled in History and in Religious Studies.

He left high school when his peers left high school, and he continued to make his way in life.  Even when Myasthenia Gravis made it so he could barely do anything (as sometimes happens), he had an interesting life that didn’t always take him where he was originally headed.  For his 20th birthday, I put together and shared this montage celebrating 20 years of him being him.  No regrets.

For his 21st birthday, I made sure I didn’t embarrass him with a mushy mom-style card.  He got this card instead along with a small collection of gifts of things he wanted or things he needed.  Just because he was an independent adult didn’t meant I wasn’t still his mom.  No regrets.

I have a nice collection of scrapbooks I’ve made over the years with pictures of my son:  Places we’ve visited together, difficult times we’ve been through together, and the successes he has had over the years.  So whether it’s this version of him I’m thinking about ….

… or this version of him I’m thinking about …

…. being my son’s mom is something I will never regret.

Happy Mother’s Day, Lewis.  I will always love you wherever life takes you because I have faith in the person you are, and I know you have it in you to be anything you decide to be.

 

 

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Love For Logical Types

Ten years ago, I wrote a song (it was later recorded and included in the “Countdown To Midnight” CD) that many of my colleagues referred to as one that celebrated affairs of the heart for mathematicians and scientists.  Over the years, it’s stood the test of time and is as fresh and inviting as it was when I first wrote it in 2006.

Because today is St. Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be appropriate to share this song with all of you visiting my blog.  After all, romance is romance no matter what day of the year it happens to be, even if the romance is romance for logical types.  Enjoy, and feel free to share the link to this song.

Listen to “Infinity Squared” by clicking HERE.

 

 

Thoughtful Words

Ngobesing Romanus is a journalist, a writer, and a blogger.  He’s also a man who inspires others to make the most of their talents and to aspire to achieve their goals in life.  With more than two hundred articles, twenty books, and pamphlets to his name, he has had, and continues to have, a positive impact on people around the world.

Yesterday, he published a beautiful piece on his blog entitled,May You Be Famous.”  The piece ended with these words:

If this touches you, know that it will touch other people too. If you would like these wishes to come true for you, know other people would like same. Therefore, make it a wish for another person by sharing or reblogging. Don’t forget the rich have no right to their food if they forget the hungry who also need to eat.

Today is Valentine’s Day … a day when people express their love for others.  While I may not know many of you personally, I believe that sharing this piece by Ngobesing Romanus with you today is at the core of the spirit of the piece as well as the spirit of Valentine’s Day.

The original article is found on Ngobesing Romanus’s blog site HERE.

MAY YOU BE FAMOUS
© Ngobesing Romanus

May today be the best day of your life
Up to this moment!
May it be the beginning of a new life
of sunshine for you!
May your first big dream
come true today!
May you find favor with people
in high positions
Who will help you realize your fondest dream!
May your star start shining brightly from today
and forever!
May you be dearly loved starting today
Until the end of your life!
May the blessings of each day for you
be more than the blessings
of the day before it!
May God’s shower of good things
never stop pouring on you!
May your dream job
start coming towards you today!
And may it get to you at the right time!
May the door of prosperity open to you today!
May you never experience the sorrow of poverty!
May you become famous
throughout the world some day!

 If you feel inspired to share this beautiful piece with others on your websites and blogs, please remember to link back to Ngobesing Romanus’s site as I have done.

Elyse Bruce

Books To Good Homes

The Chattanooga Times recently reported on what’s been going on at the Chattanooga Public Library … and what’s happening should shock and alarm everyone!   So, what’s going on at the Chattanooga Public Library, you might be asking yourself?

In 2009, the library boasted nearly half a million books that included some impressive and valuable collections.  Five years later, that number was down to almost 200,000 books.  Hundreds of books were allegedly taken to the Orange Grove recycling center and it’s alleged that a number of the books pulled from storage or off the shelves and dumped weren’t documented.

While it’s true that some items such as some of the magazines could only be recycled, some of these magazines were valuable.  The Chattanooga Public Library had Atlantic Monthly magazines that dated back to 1867 … just two years after the U.S. Civil War ended.  To better understand why such a collection would hold valuable insights, let’s take a look at some of the important events that transpired from 1867 onward.

In 1868 Andrew Johnson was impeached (and acquitted by the Senate), and Ulysses S. Granted was elected President of the United States of America.  1871 witnessed the Treaty of Washington and the following year, Yellowstone National Park was created.  The Civil Rights Acts of 1875 happened the same year as the National Baseball League was created, and the year after that was the Battle of Little Bighorn. And in 1879, Thomas Edison created the first functional light bulb!

Whether the Atlantic Monthly magazines published articles on these specific topics is immaterial.  What matters is that these historical events shaped America, and that shaping would be evident in the articles published in the Atlantic Monthly magazines.

In 1880, the population of the United States of America topped 50 million and surely the magazine would have made mention of what Billy the Kid did in 1881 (shot and killed Pat Garrett) and what happened to Jesse James in 1882 (he was shot and killed by Robert and Charlie Ford).  The Brooklyn Bridge opened in 1883 (a momentous event especially in light of the oft-used idiom of the bridge proper) and 1885 saw the Washington Monument completed.  And it was in 1888 that the National Geographic Society was formed (keep this in mind for later reference).

The 1890s had a number of auspicious moments from the creation of Yosemite National Park to Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah becoming states.  General Electric was founded and the Wounded Knee Massacre was widely reported.  For those who have no idea who Stagger Lee was, 1895 was the year Lee made a mark on American society (read up on that in history books).  Gold was discovered in the Yukon’s Klondike, the Boston subway was completed, the Treaty of Paris ended the Spanish-American War, and Hawaii was annexed.

All of that helped to shaped America into the country it became.  And all that insight into Americana has been lost with the disposal of the entire Atlantic Monthly magazine collection.

Stepping into the 20th century, William McKinley assassinated and Theodore Roosevelt was elected President.  The very first World Series was played, and in 1903, both the Harley-Davidson Motor Company and the Ford Motor Company were formed.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation was established in 1908 (a very important bureau, especially during the Prohibition Era, and onward) and Robert Peary reached the North Pole.

The Indianapolis 500 ran its first race ever in the second decade of the 20th century, and both the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. were chartered.  The Federal Reserve Act was enacted and Henry Ford developed the modern assembly line that exists into the 21st century.  Both the Titanic and the Lusitania sank, and New Mexico and Arizona became states.  And let’s not forget World War I!

The decade after that experienced the first radio broadcasts out of Pittsburgh and Detroit, Charles Lindbergh made his first trans-Atlantic flight, and the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre took place.  The 1930s (the Depression era) was filled with historically important events that would have been reflected in the articles published in the Atlantic Monthly magazine, not the least of which  included the completion of the Golden Gate Bridge and World War II breaking out.

In other words, every decade had important moments that were either chronicled in magazines, or that were reflected in how society reacted to those important moments as shared by writers and authors of magazine pieces.

That one collection — which was complete — is now gone.  This generation and those that follow won’t have those magazines at their disposal.  They’re sitting in a landfill somewhere on the American landscape.  And remember when I asked you to keep the National Geographic in mind when I mentioned it earlier in this article?  Well, the Chattanooga Public Library began collecting National Geographic magazines in 1906.  They’re all gone as well.  Destroyed.

Allegedly most of the niche collections and biographies that had been purchased with an endowment of three millions dollars were cleared out with little to no regard for how those niche collections and biographies were originally acquired.  Much like the magazine collections, they were considered obsolete and useless, taking up too much valuable real estate within the library’s walls.  But why would a library gut themselves so utterly and completely in the first place?

The claim is that libraries are changing with the times, and need to include things such as meeting spaces and coffee shops along with online connectivity, computers, and interactive technology such as a creative lab and a 3D printer as well as video games and a technology based music studio.

That’s great that libraries are changing with the times, but does it have to be at the expense of history and literature?  And should it be done without proper checks and balances, and consideration of options other than destruction of niche collections and other priceless books?

There are children’s hospitals that would have gladly accepted some books for their own on-site libraries, as well as small town libraries as well as small school libraries that would have embraced some of those destroyed books and magazines.  Donating some of those books to the Good Will and Salvation Army stores would have resulted in sales where money would go to support those in need.  And let’s not forget the used book store owners that might have been able to not only save some books, but earned some money by way of increased sales in the months that followed.  A number of private collectors would have been interested in taking some of those books off the library’s hands, and more than a few everyday regular people would have traveled to Chattanooga to bring a few treasures back home with them.

Being trendy, fashionable, and up-to-date shouldn’t mean that what is old and valued by others should be upended and thrown away.  After all, how many of us consider a book or two from our own childhood or youth to be among our oldest and best friends?  I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t have at least one book they cherish from their younger days.

Maybe it’s time for libraries to open their doors to those of us who would be more than happy to “adopt” books that are marked for death.  We could refer to them as “rescue” books, and those who adopted these rescue books would gladly give them a good home where they could live out the rest of their lives in peace, safe from danger, and well-loved by their new owners.

Elyse Bruce

The Most Beautiful Time

We’re one week away from Christmas, and as snow blankets most of the U.S. and Canada, as well as other parts of the world, Christmas decorations are being hung with care in anticipation of the big day.

Whether Christmas is a secular or a religious celebration for you isn’t the point of this essay.  It’s about the feelings that come about because it’s that time of year again.

Yes, I realize that some people suffer during the holiday season, and it’s not all happiness and joy for them.  But if you know there are people who suffer during the holiday season, ask yourself what you can do to make their lives better … not just over the holiday season, but all year long.

That old codger who lives in the little house on the corner who always yells at the kids for making too much noise and running across his front lawn?  Maybe you could put some effort into getting to know him a little better.  Offer to pick up a couple of things at the grocery store for him the next time you’re headed off to get your own groceries.  Offer to make him a nice homemade cake for his birthday.  Offer to just sit a spell and share a coffee with him.

And that neighbor over on the next street with the difficult kid that hardly ever talks to anyone, and when he does, he’s hard to understand because he’s really surly?  Maybe that difficult kid isn’t all that difficult.  Maybe he’s hard to understand because he’s diagnosed with a medical condition that makes speech more problematical than you realized, and he’s not really surly at all.  Maybe that’s what his diagnosis does to the muscles in his face.

How about that overweight woman you see waddling down the aisles at the grocery store?  Maybe she doesn’t have a primary care practitioner and she’s struggling with undiagnosed diabetes, and that’s why she carries so much extra weight.    Instead of assuming she must eat everything in sight, consider the possibility that it isn’t that at all.

This the most beautiful time of the year, but you can make it even more beautiful if you take the time — make the time — to see how you can make it a beautiful time of year for those who are struggling with day-to-day living.

You may not be able to change anything, but you’ll never know unless you try.

Maybe it’s time to make some hot cocoa for yourself, toss in a smattering of annoying miniature marshmallows, and consider the possibilities.  They’re endless, and each of them brings its own special magic back into your life when you entertain them.

Shake It Up

The stores have been playing Christmas carols and Christmas songs for weeks now, and the snow is piling up pretty high on either side of the sidewalks all over town.  Outdoor lights have been blinking and winking during the evening hours, and indoors, decorations and Christmas trees are taking over little nooks and crannies everywhere.

One thing I’ve noticed over the years, is that the same songs are played over and over again during the holiday season.  It’s almost gotten to a point that you don’t dare ask if anyone’s released a new Christmas song or carol since it’s unlikely it’ll get airplay past your own iPod.

But sometimes, it’s good to search out new arrangements of old favorites.  Sometimes it’s good to step out of what we’re used to, and try on a new flavor.

The holiday season feels old because we let it get old.  The same decorations go up and come down in homes all over the world every single year.  The same lights are nailed to the house and the same wreath it hung on the outside door.  The Christmas tree is set up in the same place as every year before, and everyone talks about the turkey and turkey left-overs that are just around the corner.

I say: “Shake it up!”

Have chicken instead of turkey.  Put Christmas wreaths up in place of a Christmas tree, and do something imaginative with the outside door.  Make homemade snowflake stencils, hold them up against your front window, and spray them with canned snow.

Actually take the time to bake cookies from scratch with friends and family!

Don’t let the activities scheduled for the holiday season overwhelm you.  Don’t get it into your head that you have to do everything on your Christmas list of must-do’s and must-go-to’s.

Step back and look at that list.  Take out a pencil and scratch off a few things.  Take a second look.  Scratch a few more things off that list.  Take another look.  There you go … a list that’s manageable and filled with things you want to do instead of crammed full of things you want to do slotted in between the great number of things that you think other people expect you to do.

And don’t forget to turn off all your lights one night, turn on  your Christmas tree or Christmas wreath lights on, set your CD player or iPod to 1 or 2 on the volume meter, sit back, put your feet up and enjoy the season.  Yes, shaking it up doesn’t have to be about frantic movements.

Sometimes all it takes to shake it up is to slow it down and enjoy what  (and who) you have in your life.

The Secret Of Life

The secret of life and living is one of those mysteries that intrigues the human spirit.  It’s been the focal point of countless books and movies, poems and songs.  But despite it all, no one’s ever really succeeded in being able to unlock it.

But you know, some have come terribly close, and it’s all because they quietly sit back and watch how the heavens and earth trip the light fantastic.  They take their cues from how beautifully Mother Earth spins through time, and they translate what they see so the rest of us can see things as they see them.

Now the thing about time is that
Time isn’t really real.
It’s all on your point of view.
How does it feel to you?

Simple words sometimes carry with them very complex realities.    To say that time isn’t real is to say that everything is relative.    Time is what you believe it to be.  A lifetime can be as brief as the blink of an eye when compared with the vastness of the cosmos.  A lifetime can be as eternal as the first kiss between soul mates.  Time is never-ending and time is fleeting.  Whatever time means to you has its roots planted deep inside your point of view.

Nobody knows how we got
To the top of the hill.
But since we’re on our way down,
We might as well enjoy the ride.

There are so many theories on how we got here, and there are so many more theories on where we’ll go next.  Some believe there’s a greater plan than the one we can see from our pinpoint on earth, while others believe it’s all part of a happy little mistake caused by molecules as defined by science.  But no matter how we got to where we are in the universe, you can choose to fight it or make the most of it.  But no matter what you choose, there’s one universal truth that talks to all of us.

The secret of love is in opening up your heart.
It’s okay to feel afraid.
But don’t let that stand in your way no longer
‘Cause everyone knows that love is the only road.

The secret of life is wrapped tightly within the secret of love.  Don’t let fear keep you from loving … loving who you are, loving where you are, loving who you’re with, loving what you do, loving what you experience.  When you allow yourself to take those first few steps down that road, you have no way of knowing where it’s going to end.  All you know is that at some point, the road will end.

But if all you think about is the end of the road, you’re going to miss everything between where you started and where you ended.  Being afraid isn’t anything to  embarrassed about when it comes to the unknown.  Being afraid is natural.  Missing out on the adventure of the journey through the unknown, however, is the saddest journey.  Let yourself feel the fear, and step through that fear into the unknown.

And since’ we’re only here for a while,
We might as well show some style.

Tomorrow, throw open the shutters of your heart and take in the beauty of what’s behind those shutters.  You might be very surprised at what you find.  It might just be the very thing you’ve been lacking in your life.

And if it isn’t as amazing as you’d hoped or as awesome as you’d thought, don’t get caught up in the disappointment.    Just kick back and listen to some music. Contemplate the world at large.  Contemplate your life in detail.  And when all is said and done, do what James suggests:  “Try not to try too hard; it’s just a lovely ride.”

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