Monday, August 18, 2014


When I hear/read about Ferguson, MO this is image that comes to mind

This photo was taken 2 years ago at a reunion for our elementary/middle school class.  I love this picture.  Because I love them (clearly its not the best photo of me to date).  This is what I think of when I hear of a young man of color shot to death.   I think of Tony who is pictured on my left.  When we were in 11th grade we wanted to have an adventure 'like on television" so he borrowed his sister's car and we went for a joyride.  Thank God we weren't stopped because being black in a car not technically yours with a white girl on the passengers side was not going to end well for us.  Kareem is on the other side of me.  Also in 11th grade he tried to teach me how to parallel park.  I drove a white Nova he drove a fire engine red Volvo- he failed as I was a horrible driver and even worse at parking.   I bet Kareem got pulled over in that Volvo- he never told me he did and he didn't have to.  I also remember Kareem always always made me laugh, even as far back as 7th grade. He never teased me and always had a kind word for me.

And on the other end is Ray- Raphael if you didn't grow up with him but I did so he is still Ray to me.  Kareem didn't have to tease me because Ray did enough for everyone.  Ray is the closest I came to having a brother.  Ray and I used to swing on the flagpole before school in 6th grade.  He could tickle me until I cried, we cried on each other's shoulders throughout junior high and high school over school yard crushes and real life loss.  Ray could make me madder than anyone else and I fought with him like I did with my sister.  He taught me to play tunk in the basement with his uncles, I cautioned against the neck tie on the first day of school (he didn't listen).  Before every prom his Mom, and sister would come over with him so we could take our prom pictures then he'd go pick up his date and the do the same thing again.  I share so much history with all of these men and this photo reminds me of all of it.

Two of the three have sons of their own now.  And each time I hear about Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown I think of them and their sons, and I say a prayer for their safety.  My experience and friendship with them is unusual and maybe even rare- and I wonder how many times they came close to being at the wrong place at the wrong time.  So when I see press conferences and police statements and vigils the truth is I have to turn away because when they flash the picture (and they are always flashing pictures) or showing the video tape I see my brothers, and I see us when we were kids and I see us now.  The turning away makes me feel ashamed.  Because they can't turn away and I can.

In a recent post Anne Lamott said she would prefer God had a "magic wand instead of a raggedy love army of helpers"  and I couldn't agree more.  Its very tiring being a part of a raggedy love army.  But that's all I know to do- all any of us can do.  Show up, show love and keep going.  So I am going to stop hiding from the news and start hoping that my story will be better because of it.  I know my story is better because of the friendship of these men.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

We don't speak "Whinese" here...

Pet parenting peeve?  Whining- oh my LORD I cannot stand it.  We have a hard and fast rule in this house you  never get what you want by whining.  When Robert and Ethan were smaller I would tell them that whining hurt my ears, now I tell them that we don't speak Whinese and they need to try again so that I can understand them.   But as we all know its far easier to preach than practice and so this morning I had a whole internal conversation in Whinese....I don't want to go to work, I hate cleaning the house why do we have to celebrate Halloween for whole freaking month?(Seriously, Halloween is out of control people put on a mask grab some candy be done with it).

I can rant with the best of them and this internal whining could have gone on interminably.  Until- I heard about a family in our community that a got a piece of devastating life altering news.  I don't know the family personally- but it shut up my inner whiner pretty quickly.  Halloween excess, dirty dishes in the sink and a crazy work schedule are all evidence of my having blessings beyond measure.  So the whine fest is over for awhile.

There is a phrase I use in my work a lot,  Radical Acceptance.  It means to accept that which is without the need to change it in the next five minutes.   That's what I am working toward today. And just to drive the point home for me this was on the sign in front of Robert's school :
"Patience is the ability to accept difficult situations without a deadline".    Radical acceptance, patience, peace of mind whatever you call it-  there is no word for it in Whinese.  

Excuse my while I put on my big girl clothes and get busy learning the language of gratitude and acceptance.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Back to school

Its back to school time here in the land of sunshine and grits and football.  Which means that after I packed backpacks, made lunches, made a halfhearted at best attempt to take a Back to School photo of all the boys I spent hours a few minutes looking over everyone's photos and comments.  And among the sea of backpacks and Vera Bradley lunchboxes and barely managed cowlicks and new shoes and sorority girls in white dresses I see so much to be thankful for.   For teachers willing to teach, students ready to learn, Moms and Dads preparing their children of every age for the world.  But I also know that at my house we barely found a brush (hiding in a suitcase last used 6 weeks ago leading to the conclusion someone hasn't been brushing their hair) and socks (an ongoing and disheartening battle in a house full of boy- matching socks) and I rejoiced not at the idea my kiddos were off to conquer the world but that I had 20 minutes to drink a cup of coffee and look at Facebook do research.  

We all know that FB is for cute pictures of kids, and Pinterest is for crafts that I never attempt but aspire to.  But my own attempt at a FB worthy BTS photo made me think about what isn't on FB and say a prayer for those things.   For the kids who are scared to go to school, for the kids who are scared to go home from school, for the parents who don't know how to afford 12 different folders and for the kids whose parents don't know they need folders.  For the teachers that are burned out, underpaid and ready to quit but hanging on for one more year before retirement.  For the kids who are too sick to go to school, and the ones who go anyway.  For all these and more I said a special prayer and I sent my boys out into the world with the hope they will be kind and compassionate to all those kids in pretty hairbows and smocked dresses and equally kind to the ones in torn shirts and hand me down shoes.  Because  that's the lesson I really want them to learn, to be kind and compassionate and look a little deeper than Facebook or Instagram or Twitter.

Now if you'll excuse me I have a back to school tradition to Pin but not really complete....

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Last spring I took my oldest to the pediatrician and when I had to write down "what concerns bring you here today"  I wrote the following : "Someone is leaving her today with a prescription me or my son I don't care who"  While I was kidding (sort of) I often see/hear some version of this from frustrated parents when school begins.   My oldest is very bright, and likely borderline ADHD- but after a thorough assessment with our doctor, teachers, counselors etc we have elected not to medicate him at this time.  (I didn't get any either despite my initial request).  Which is not to say we are not treating the problem, just not through medication at this time.
 Many parents struggle with this dilemma- what exactly is ADD/ADHD and what interventions are available? I found an infogrpahic that may be helpful:
Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


I am always a social worker, and always a Mommy.  I try really hard not to "social work" (I know not a real verb) my family.  Despite my best efforts to keep my roles separate the two overlap many times.  Last week's bombing in Boston and the explosion in Texas prompted me to go in to full social worker mode.  Turning off the news programs, answering my precocious 9 (almost 10) year old's questions in a reassuring way and generally feeling pretty good about myself.  Then yesterday my four year old gave me this picture.
  And this is what he said about it "This is a picture of bombs going off everywhere.  People put bombs in trash cans and then it exploded."

My heart and stomach sank.  I tried so hard to shield him from the violent distrubing images thrust upon us and yet somehow this.  It is a stark reminder of what I tell families almost everyday, that children soak up so much more than we ever realize.  That even while we tell ourselves "they are too young to understand" children pick up many cues about what is happening around them and they assimilate those clues in ways that make sense to them.

But it is also a reminder that children's work is the work of play.  My son wasn't frightened or upset by his drawing, or what it represented.  In fact, he may  not even realize that it is a drawing of something  in the "real world."  By drawing the things he doesn't understand or that may confuse and frighten him he gains mastery and control.   He makes his world safer through the work of play.  My work with children (including my own) is to help facilitate that control and mastery.  Work and play are not that different for children, and sometimes for Social Work Mommies.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

One Of Those Weeks

This was one of those weeks.  One of those weeks where the days are long the evenings short and by Wednesday I feel like I've been juggling for a month  .But these are the times when I try to find and cherish the small moments.  This week I sat with adoptive parents and birth parents and foster parents and babies and teenagers, and I saw joy born of grief.  And I celebrated the passage of time and what life can bring when you are open to change.

 Then I cam home and bandaged  cuts and iced boo boos and soothed hurt feelings and tended my own little flock.  I shared pancakes, tea, and British melodramas with my Mom.  Then finally on Friday the boys helped me to welcome the hubby home from a work trip.  This week brought tears of frustration and tears of laughter. I turned around and my baby was a toddler and my big boy was crushing hard on the class beauty and my toddler turned into a preschooler.

 It was a hard week but also a good week to be a social worker and a Mommy.  Can't wait to see what next week brings...