Oh Yeah

It’s not like I forgot my son has Muscular Dystrophy. I’m not that kind of airhead. I haven’t focused on my son’s disease here too much of late. Maybe some of you are thinking my blog has lost a bit of its focus. It has.  But come on, you know me well enough by now to know that I have but a passing acquaintance with the beaten path.  Plus, the fact of the matter is that writing here has soothed my anguished heart, and distractions are a gift.  My mom heart of blissful unawareness will never be whole again. Ever. But the despair I felt for a good while is subacute these days.  These days I write to amuse and entertain myself, and hopefully one or two of you as well.

They say music soothes the savage beast. So does writing. So I wrote. I write.

And most days, as the kids say, it’s all good, yo.  But then this arrives, and you go, “Well, shit.”

Oh yeah, that’s right. . .  we’re part of the MDA “family” now.  We get these publications now.  We get information from this wonderful organization we hate having the affiliation with.  No, not hate.  Not hate.  You guys, the work they do?  Whoa.

The “I’m writing about whatever thing leaps to mind” these days stops in a flash and I’m transported back to Day One. To the day marking our before and afterAfter, as I’m completing my son’s field trip permission, waiver, insurance and health forms for his class trip to Washington, DC, I have to complete the Illness/Medical Conditions column and the Necessary Accommodations column.  *sigh*  It’s not that I forgot.  Obviously.  It’s that sometimes life forces me to remember consciously and pointedly.

I remember quite distinctly sitting down at our computer to compose my first blog post.  I was terrified.  But I was distracted from my sorry state, and that was good.  Never for a moment did I think I’d title this home away from home anything other than Greater Than Gravity.  It’s a lyric, THE lyric in my favorite song, the line that made my tummy do flips the first time I heard it, the line I once thought and sometimes still do think I’d have tattooed on me somewhere, and the one that can’t suppress my smile when I hear it.  Every time.

I’m a complete geek for my band, not apologetic for that, and only slightly apologetic for hijacking someone else’s words from a sweet little pop love song for my project here.  I had no idea what I was doing when I began here, only slightly clearer an idea nearly two years in, but the words stuck:  Love.  It’s greater than gravity.  When I get mail like I did yesterday, those words are the lifesaver tossed into the choppiest sea of my emotions.  I barely catch hold of that lifesaver, but I got it.  I got it.  And I hang on.

You don’t have to get it for you.  I get it for me.  That’s enough.



A Teenager

Thirteen years ago at this moment I was in hard labor.  Hard.  My husband was sleeping because he was “really tired.”  He actually said those words,  you guys!  Still not over it, but it did provide a story I can, and sometimes do, hold over him.  And we laugh about it now, as he appropriately smirks, shakes and mock hangs his head.  It’s all good, y’all.  Look what we got for that labor:  A teenager!  (not the dog)

Happy 1-3 to my firstborn.  You were so worth the nine days’ wait past your due date.  I sometimes miss your gooey baby smile and gentle toddler ways.  I miss your soft, blonde baby head, your then-blue eyes sparkling at me when I was the center of your world.  I miss the cute toddler things you would say as you developed command of language–“Nice to coming!” (a cute mashup of nice to meet you and thanks for coming) or “Mama, pick me down” (well, what else would be the opposite of pick me up?)  And I miss thinking you’d grow out of that clumsy gait; I miss waiting for you to grow into your muscles.  Now we know.

I’ll never not hate that you have this stupid disease, but am grateful to have connected with many lovely humans in the blogosphere because of it.  Because of MD, you good people around the globe wish him well.  Because of MD, I found a voice here, and while I wish I never needed to find that voice, well, here you are listening.  I thank you.  Because of MD, he has the opportunity for summer camp.  It really was his best week of the year.

But hear me, muscular dystrophy, I am NOT grateful for you.  You suck.  You’re a mean, terrible, hurtful bully, and I despise you, even though that sounds middle school-y.  When I reflect on my thirteen years as a mother, I lack capacity to relate the hundreds and thousands of glad-hearted lessons I’ve learned.  Sure, I miss blissful unawareness, but being my kid’s mom has brought joy into my life that I’d never know were I not his parent.

I would love to post a beautifully-worded summary of my year-and-three-quarters as a mother whose child has muscular dystrophy, something profound and meaningful, maybe inspirational for others in my shoes.  Something perfect that everyone would hold up and proclaim:  THIS.

I can’t.  But I can say this:  Happy birthday, son.  I love you.  Like crazy.  It’s your birthday, but it’s my becoming a mom day, so for thirteen years the gift has been mine.

My Dog Is Trying To Murder Me

Caleb the Wonderdog has been part of our family for a month now.  I decided last Thursday night that I love him.  His disposition is sweet, his ears are perfect for petting, and he is nice to every other dog we encounter.  Humanity could take a lesson from my maybe Doberman Pinscher-maybe German Shepherd-maybe Whippet mutt.  He’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, if ya know what I mean, but I can take not super academic when it’s coupled with nice.  Overshadowed by nice, in fact.  I could say the same about people too as far as that goes–that I’ll take nice over genius most days (except maybe for my neurosurgery needs, but I think we know where I’m going with this without my having to enumerate professions where brains over nice is preferred).  Plus, despite his person name, Caleb’s a dog, so I’m not expecting him to crunch actuarial figures.

Don’t let that sweet, fuzzy face fool you. Even terrorists have to rest once in awhile.

My dog requirements are fairly basic:  Come when you’re called, stay off the furniture, don’t pee or poop in the house, let me pet you, don’t chew shit up.  I think that’s it.  I don’t expect perfection, and I’ve already recovered from the damage inflicted on my dining room chair.  Pretty much. Maybe.

I wore a long skirt to work last Thursday, and went to change into my after-work uniform after school.  As soon as the weather gets nice (not the straight out of hell kind of hot), my “uniform” is a comfy top and yoga pants.  The thermometer tells me it’s still summery, so my early fall/late spring uniform is shorts and a tee.  Because Caleb loves me bestest, he is rarely more than an inch or two from my behind.  He loves chasing stuff (mostly me but sometimes a tennis ball) up and down the stairs, so navigating stairs with a largeish canine wedged up my butt is an art.  I’ve become quite good at it in a month though, and have fallen down more than three steps at a crack only three times.  Victory right there, people.  The intrigue of the skirt however added layers of complication and an extra millimeter of distance between my dog and my butt.  He was crazy with separation anxiety.

Discipline to me has never meant action of the physical variety.  I’ve never struck one of my children, nor have I resorted to physical punishment of any animal I’ve owned.  I did once smack my little kid on the arm when he switched out my Jelly Belly jelly beans for the earthworm and barf flavored ones, so he’ll tell you I hit him once.  But he’ll laugh his little ass off when he tells you about my “abuse” of him because it was hilarious to his 10-year-old self.  But the other night, as my sweet four-legged boy latched onto my skirt pulling me forward then jerking me back mid-flight of stairs, I lost my balance.  As I fell, I caught his muzzle with my hand on my way down while firmly saying “No bite” to him.  (Yes, the fall was everything embarrassingly spectacular you’re imagining and more!)  But when I bopped his snout grabbing for the railing, he cowered like I’d never seen him do before, ran away and made himself small in his crate.

It was love at Day 27th sight.  In that instant, I saw what his life just might have been like before landing in a Tennessee animal shelter.  His reaction appeared so instinctive that it couldn’t have been the first time.  I barely grazed him, but I did have my disciplinarian voice on–not a yell, no–but firm and stern, and he ran to hide.  You poor, sweet dumbass dog.  I love you.  It’s official, so stop trying to murder me with your attention.  It’s exhausting and sometimes, it’s physically painful. 

In the month he’s been in our family, Caleb’s exhibited some quirky behavior.  If people behaved like dogs–

Instead of shaking hands or saying “hey” upon greeting someone, we’d walk up and smell other people’s butts or growl, front legs down, butts high up in the air. Yeah, not weird at all.  Humans, 1; dogs, 0.

Landfills overflowing with diapers would be a thing of the past, as we’d relieve ourselves on the grass.  We’d all migrate to warm climates. I’m kinda outdoorsy, pro-beach and hiking trails and all, but remain deeply dedicated to indoor plumbing.  Feels like a “no” for me.  Humans win this point as well. 

Instead of playing on our smartphones, reading or jogging, we’d chew on rawhide, Nylabones and Kongs.  I want my Kong filled with peanut butter, thank you very much.

The show Hoarders would be retitled Collectors, and instead of mountains of filth and half-filled prescription bottles held over from the Cold War era, you’d find one shoe, a balled up pair of socks and maybe a jock strap under your couch.  I was looking for that. . .

SQUIRREL!  The struggle is real, people.


Caleb tries to climb on me–picture a backpack. Now picture a 50-something pound dog lurching at me to piggy-back himself in similar fashion. He chews his own leash.  He collects shoes and socks. And cardboard. And baseball cards. And shirts. He is still mastering “sit” and “off,” and when he’s not trying to kill me, I do officially love him. The best thing about him right now though?  When my big kid, and by big I mean 5′ 9″ or more of him, plops down next to him, and by plops down I do mean PLOPS down, Caleb doesn’t move. He lets my big kid get down with him on my big kid’s terms, in his less than graceful big kid ways. Good dog, Caleb.  You’re a good boy.