Monday, December 27, 2010

A Call to Something Bigger

When I was a little girl growing up (mind you I grew up Roman Catholic), I wanted nothing more than to become a priest. I used to give mass to all of my stuffed animals. I can fondly remember carrying them outside to my backyard and setting up a place for all of them, then going through the steps and giving mass. On rainy days, I might be found doing this indoors since soggy stuffed animals would have made my mother unhappy. I knew mass so well that I could speak while our priest would speak in church and know just what he was going to say. To this day, I could probably still walk into a Catholic church and "go through the motions" with great fluidity. Anywho, girls can't become priests in the Catholic Church, so I thought I'd become a nun. That thought ran fleetingly away as I had discovered boys, almost within the same breath as wanting to become a nun.

For those who know me, it's not that I felt any type of calling to the religion in which I was raised, but, rather, a calling to something higher. In all honesty, I tried very hard to "fit in" to my religion, but my thoughts always strayed another way. That is a post for a different day though.

To get back to my point, I had never lost that feeling of wanting to be a priest. Now into my adulthood, I found myself being a mom. For those that aren't a mom or a parent, believe me, it's like being a priest/priestess. You are literally ministering to the needs of your children. You are a counselor, guide, healer and a great source of love and protection. Although I was a minister to my children's (and my own) needs, I still felt a call to do something more. I had also found my religious path, one that I had wrestled with when I was younger, and finally, as an adult, stopped wrestling and accepted who I was

During my last pregnancy, the call grew stronger. My husband asked why I don't become ordained. This actually scared me a bit. While to some that may seem strange, but to me it was almost a feeling of being overwhelmed. Ingrained in me is a worry of failure. What if I was no good? Well, I must be doing something right as my kids have all turned out pretty darn good. So in January 2010 it happened. I made a conscious decision to become a legally ordained Priestess. I realized that I can't be worried about failing as I'll never do anything if I keep that mindset.

So did I choose right? Yes, I know I did. A few months after becoming ordained, I had very vivid dreams of two specific rites that myself and another Priestess were performing - a Wiccaning and a Handfasting. Most recently I have felt myself being pulled to write a funeral/Summerlands Rite. All in all, my spiritual self has grown and this has helped me to raise up my children and know that I can continue to minister their needs, while I help others on their own paths.

Many Blessings to All!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Article for the Newspaper

As promised, this is a copy of the article I wrote for the National Hands & Voices Newspaper. If they accept it, I'll let you know!
(BTW - There's no title as my mind drew a blank on that part)

“We’re sorry, ma’am. Your baby failed her hearing screening.”

Not the words a mother expects to hear when the nurse comes in with your newborn after taking her to the nursery while the doctors are checking in on them all. However, those were the exact words that I heard. I didn’t even know that they tested hearing at birth. So, what next? I got angry, demanded a “recount,” as if this were some awful game someone was playing. The nurse was nice enough to call someone back to re-test my daughter and she failed again. Prior to leaving the hospital my daughter was re-scheduled to have her hearing tested at a later date. I was told that since she was a cesarean birth I shouldn’t worry too much as most often times there is fluid in the ears. So I came back, time after time; each experience the same as the previous, a failed screening.

At that point in time I lived in Maryland, but my daughter was born in Delaware, her doctors were all in Delaware as well. The decision was mine, to aid (hearing aid that is) or not to aid. The audiologist gave me a huge resource guide. I still have it, as it has been incredibly helpful. Every tidbit of information they gave me was helpful. The only thing they couldn’t do was tell me WHAT I should do. The other problem was, even though my daughter was being seen by doctors in Delaware, and I am a native of Delaware, I was still a Maryland resident. This meant that the audiologist and doctors had no information or person they could refer me to for Early Intervention services in my resident state.

Luckily enough, I happen to have had an older, school-aged daughter in our public school system. Many months later she brought home a flyer for a Special Needs Fair that was happening at one of the elementary schools in our district. I almost didn’t go. After all, it was a “special needs” fair and my daughter was NOT “special needs,” rather, she just needed to use a hearing aid. After talking myself out of going, I talked myself back into going, as there was no harm in seeing what was there. Curiosity did kill the cat, right? Boy was I ever glad I went. I met the person who was heading up the Child Find program for our county. He took my information and called me at a later time to schedule an evaluation. What I found was that, not only did my daughter have hearing loss, but she was delayed in other areas as well.

By the time that all of this was occurring my daughter was between nine and ten months of age. She wasn’t talking, not really babbling like a typically developing baby. In fact, she really didn’t babble much at all as babies typically do. She would smile, laugh and giggle, but what she spent a lot of time doing was taking in visually what everyone was doing. I had found a program to start teaching her sign language. Something in her mind just clicked and she took to signing immediately. I was in amazement and really overjoyed that my daughter had found her voice through American Sign Language (ASL).

After the results of her evaluation, I asked, as they were assigning different types of therapists to work with her, that the therapists at least have some knowledge of sign language. I had also made the request for the Maryland School for the Deaf (MSD) to be contacted. They made their own evaluation, and my daughter, and myself included, began receiving services from their Family Education Department.

I was criticized by many, family, strangers and medical professionals alike, for making the choice to teach my daughter American Sign Language. There were many things that I was told, and I even had an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor admonish me for making such a “poor choice” to use ASL. So, basically, I was wrong for giving my daughter two languages with which to be able to express herself. If it had been Spanish or any other verbally spoken language, I would have been praised. Needless to say, the ENT heard that day exactly why I felt he was wrong, that she was my daughter to raise, and we have never returned for another appointment with that doctor. I should mention that when I made the original decision, when she was five months of age, to have my daughter aided, a different ENT in the same office had laughed at me for doing that. So, I was first wrong for having her hearing aided via hearing aid and then wrong again for choosing to also teach her ASL. Apparently I couldn’t win in that office.

Even though I had made the choice to teach and use sign language with my daughter, we were a hearing family, so we continued speaking as well. My daughter’s linguistic knowledge of sign language grew in leaps and bounds. Her speech was slower to develop. Many months later (and I do mean it was some time later) her speech exploded. It was as if someone turned on the light. She continued with services through MSD and I even drove her to school a few times a week at the Columbia Campus, eventually ending in me driving her five days a week. She loved it there. When we left the program at MSD at the age of four, her spoken English and ASL knowledge were almost dead even with each other; the only difference of two words.

Because she only had a unilateral hearing loss, my daughter wasn’t eligible to continue attending school at MSD. I toured the pre-K program at the public school close to my home, but knew that the options available to her wouldn’t be the best fit. I made the decision to move back to Delaware, and had checked with Delaware School for the Deaf (DSD) to see if placement there was appropriate and if she met the eligibility guidelines. We held an interim IEP to get her setup for services prior to the Fall start of the school year. I was really excited to know that my daughter could continue her education in an incredibly language rich environment.

My daughter is now in her second year at DSD, in Kindergarten, and we couldn’t have found a more perfect fit for her when it comes to schooling. Her ASL and spoken English are perfectly matched and balanced. My daughter’s level of articulation is fantastic. At home we sign and speak. My children are all learning. Because children are children, they don’t always sign, but she holds her own very well. My husband and I continue to learn to sign, and she is more than happy to come home and show us new signs. My daughter has adjusted very well to using both speech and sign. She has also become very cognizant of who can speak and who can sign. She has developed a very natural ability to “code switch,” to move from signing with one individual to speaking to another and back again.

She will wear her hearing aid to school, but prefers to go without when we are out in public as the noise is too overwhelming. When she was a bit younger, this was evident as she would break her hearing aid into pieces and throw them upon entering the car. Now that she is older, she prefers to say, “No thank you. I like my quiet world. I love being deaf!” She identifies herself as deaf and no one could ever tell her otherwise. She is very proud of who she is and I know that, no matter what may be on the horizon for her as far as her hearing loss is concerned, she is well prepared to take on the world. With the help of many therapists, doctors, the wonderful staff at both MSD and DSD, the loving support from our family, and the persistence to just keep doing what felt right, I am raising a beautiful daughter who is perfectly bilingual in her first language, ASL, and her second language, spoken English.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Life Begins at 33

Ok, so I realize I am no longer 33, but, rather, 35, however my life, my truly wonderful life, began at 33 (33 1/2 if you want to get technical). This is a brief retelling of how I came to be where I am at this point in my life. I promise it's not all that boring.

From the time I was a little girl I had wanted nothing more than to be a mom to several kids; 4 precisely. That was just one thing I wanted to be. Seeing my parents divorce, I had decided that when I married I would never divorce, no matter what. I love my parents very much, and am actually quite happy that they aren't married to each other. They are both very different people. I am just saying that I had decided that divorce wasn't going to be for me. My stubborn Irish nature to not give up and attempt to keep things going no matter how bleak is what almost landed me 6 feet under. I'll explain.

When I first got married I was 18, less than a year out of high school, in the military and stationed at a language training facility. The guy I married was ... ok in a sense. Unfortunately, he was very controlling, obsessive and other not so very nice things. We had a child, a daughter. By this point I was almost 21 when she was born. I've skipped some of the details because, it's not that they're boring, they just don't belong broadcast to the world unless I decide to write a book. Actually, I could write a book with regards to that relationship. Those who know me personally know exactly the types of things that went on in that relationship. This guy I married fought with me, and I with him, all of the time. To be honest, he was nicest to me when we first started dating and while I was pregnant. That about covers it. Anyway, this baby we had together changed my life. I wanted nothing more than to love and protect her. So, once I had taken all I could of this guy in my life, I packed up my little girl and left. After all, it was one thing for me to be the target of some one's issues, problems, etc, but I wasn't going to put up with my daughter being berated. Mama Bear instincts were in full force there.

I moved home, started over with my daughter. My family was wonderful to me. By this point that beautiful little girl was 2 1/2. Some time later, in the midst of a new life, new job, new location (which for me was really back to my roots. I love the place I grew up. We have actual seasons here. Right now it's currently snowing!) I met a guy. He had a little girl of his own. We began dating, moved in together and everything seemed to be going well. We didn't really fight, which for me was like a total relief because that's all that ever happened before. We got married, I got pregnant, we bought a house; it seemed like a pretty natural progression to me until he got weird. He had every excuse in the book for why he couldn't go anywhere with me and the 3 kids, why he HAD to stay home, why he couldn't go to any of my family members houses for holidays and why he had to run to the store just before my family showed up. He also almost always managed to be gone until sometime after they left. Bring on the infidelity issues! And I was pregnant again with another child. Somehow we got past that and continued our life together. Things "seemed" to be going well, or at least maintaining the status quo. Our daughter (this makes 4 kids now between the two of us in case you lost track and they were all girls) was born, his mother unfortunately soon passed before she turned a year old, and shortly after she turned one I discovered I was pregnant again. So we had 3 children together, the last was a boy. I decided to name him after my granddad, whose name was also (luckily enough for me) the same as my then husband's favorite baseball player. Well, my life was so engrossed in child-rearing it left me no time to realize my husband and I had no relationship. We existed like roommates. He had been working overnight shifts, I worked part-time during the day. We would see each other for 5 minutes when I came home at the end of my shift as he was walking out the door to work, and then for a bit of time on the weekends. That was it. Time continued on and we argued quite a bit. I was miserable. He was miserable. I had accused him, on more than one occasion of cheating again. Each time I was told I just had trust issues. Time continued on. We continued to "exist" as strangers living under the same roof. This took its toll on the kids. Not a healthy, happy situation for them or us.

Since I had no relationship with the person who shared this house with me (I got the bedroom, he had the couch), I had made up my mind to just be the best mom I could to all of the children including my then stepdaughter. My son was only months old when this had occurred (and yes, I mean just a few months old). I did my thing, he did his. At one point he had told me he didn't know if he even wanted to be married, but didn't want to leave since the kids were involved. Nice of him, huh? So we existed and did what was necessary. On the outside, people thought we were doing really well as a couple, as a family and we kept that facade up.

I, myself, had decided that love wasn't worth chancing, risking, or otherwise. Relationships stunk and it was better, safer to just be Mom. Because I had already "emotionally and mentally divorced" myself from this man some time prior my heart, by the time my son was 2 1/2 went off in search of what it was missing. I ended up in contact(and that's a story in and of itself. quite accidental and incredibly magickal) with an old classmate from my school days. When I say school days, I went to school with this person from 1st grade all the way up through 12th grade. In elementary school he made a habit of chasing me daily during recess which always resulted in him getting kicked by me. Yet he pursued me daily. By the time our senior year had rolled around, we were playing footsies in English class. He knew me as shy and quiet. My family knows otherwise.

Anyway, somewhere in between reminiscing with each other and getting to know each other all over again, we fell in love. I can honestly say I have never been so happy. Even my oldest daughter has asked me why I couldn't have taken a chance on him before I had graduated high school. She's cute. "Quite simple, my dear. You wouldn't exist as the you that you are today." Our lives compliment each other very well. He's the "planner" and I am the (and these are his words, even if he IS right) "extreme free spirit." I love our life. We have my four children, his son, a son together, my cat and his dog. I love where we live. We are a bit in the "country," but not so much that you can't find people.

After kissing toads, and that proved fruitless, I found a prince without even looking. He is my knight, my lover, my husband, my friend, and he loves me for just being me. I can and have told him everything and anything. He doesn't look for me to be anything more than my typical extreme free-spirited, barefoot(almost all the time even in Winter), cartwheeling through the wild flowers, dancing in the rain, Goddess loving self. And I couldn't imagine asking him to be anything but him. We have been totally goofy together, then attempted seriousness. I even let him catch me when I go running barefoot down the hills in the park or even around the house.

There are no regrets to how my life unfolded. I wouldn't be the me that I am if it had been different. I have been a mom nearly all of my adult life. I have always put everything I had into my kids and to those in my life. I love being Mom. But, I have spent so long putting myself on the back burner that I forgot to live. The chains that bound my soul were broken the day I opened my heart to this man and my soul was set free. So my life, the time that I really started living, really did begin at 33. And I am so happy that it did.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Back to Writing

In 2008, I began editing for a monthly Pagan ezine called Pagan Moonbeams. From being merely an editor, I began to write. I found that I had a real passion for it. Of course, life showed up knocking on my door one day. Isn't that always how it happens? My writing, by mid-late 2009 had come to a halt. Shortly after I stopped writing, Life went knocking on the doors of our other writers as well. Hmmmm. Curious thing, life. Anyway, the staff went on a hiatus.

A few months ago, I had the urge to start writing again. It's kind of an itchy feeling. So I reached out to my fellow writers. I should mention we are an all volunteer staff and live in different parts of the world. We all agreed to give it another go. We all believed in this newsletter way too much. Then, we also got a few new faces on the staff. So far we have put out the November and December issues and we are wrapping things up for January as I sit here and type this.

I am truly blessed by the Goddess to be able to write and "work" albeit virtually with such a wonderful group of women. This newsletter has led me to be asked to write an article for a completely different type of group that I am involved in through my daughter and her school. I recently turned it in. Even if it doesn't go to publication or is not what they are looking for, I am going to post it here at a later date.

I love life. The twists and turns can sometimes be difficult, especially with the bumps along the way, but there are so many truly wonderful things that can happen if we only open our eyes.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Gone too long

So I haven't blogged in forever. I know, it's a shame, right? I'm a writer. I love to write, yet I left my blog here all lonely without any posts. Does it make me a bad writer? Nah, just a busy mom.

So it's December 2010 & I think my last legitimate post was 2 years ago.

Okay, so life happens. And boy does it ever.

I have the most wonderful family though. I have a husband whom I love so dearly and he loves me back. Really there are days when the world could disappear around us and I would be just fine with that. He is the most incredible man, and the guy that every dad out there wishes his daughter would marry. My kids I wouldn't trade for anything, even when they frustrate me. Ornery, free-spirited, and unafraid to take on the world. Yep, they sound like me.

I can say I love my job. I truly love it. It challenges me, and it's awesome. I get to stay-at-home and raise my kids. No, the monetary pay isn't there, but watching my children learn daily is such a great reward. And if you think it's a cake walk to be a SAHM, guess again. I am probably busier than most conventional working parents. 24/7 is the shift, and I LOVE IT.

Pretty soon I'll start posting pics again. There's a new addition to our family - 7 months new. What a love he is too!!

Wherever you are and however you're reading this, have a beautiful day.