When Mothers’ Day Is Anything But Happy

Tomorrow, mothers will be served breakfast in bed, taken out to brunch and children of all ages will happily send cards, flowers and good wishes to the women who raised them.

Social media, well… all media will be filled with reminders of the day, stores will be filled with shoppers, restaurants will be overflowing with mothers and their children and even your local street corner may be occupied by someone selling mothers’ day flowers.

It will be a day of love and happiness.

But not for everyone.

It will be a day of inescapable pain for many.

Women who have tried to conceive and been unable

Mothers who have lost children

Those who have lost their mother

Those who were abused or neglected by their mother

Those who are estranged from their mother

Yes, a woman who has been unable to conceive can adopt, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t feel a great loss and/or inadequacy for not being able to do what many traditions deem to be the most important and sacred duty for a woman. Add to that, the fact that the average cost of adoption in this country ranges from $34,093.00 to $39,966.00 which is a hefty debt to take on, on top of what it costs to raise a child and it’s not so simple or even possible for many.

For a woman who has lost a child by miscarriage, illness, suicide or accident, Mothers’ Day is nothing but overwhelming pain, loss and (unfounded) guilt. We all expect to outlive our parents, but no one expects or should have to bury a child.

While we all expect to outlive our parents, it doesn’t make that loss any less traumatic and life altering.

Many more suffer in silence because they were neglected or abused by their mothers. It’s still considered taboo to speak about such things, and often when the victims of such behavior choose to share with those they trust, that trust is most often, albeit, unintentionally violated by well meaning but misguided advice to forgive and get over it. It’s not that simple or perhaps even possible, and if you are ever tempted to give that little nugget of advice to someone… Don’t.

For those whose abusive, or neglectful mothers are still alive, they may have made the painful decision to sever ties for their physical and emotional health and that of their families. No matter how grievous the offenses against them and no matter how many other options were exhausted first, they are wracked with guilt and don’t need someone telling them that they should “reach out” on Mothers’ Day. Again, if you’re tempted to offer this advice… Don’t

Those of you who are or still have their mothers, embrace that day, tell and show them how much you love them.

If you are a mother, hug and kiss that child and tell them how much you love them and how proud you are of them (bonus if they are of an age where they pretend to hate it 😉

None of us will begrudge you the happiness that we lost or were never afforded. We don’t want to ruin the day for you. If we care about you, we want you to have your happiness because we never know when life will change or end and that happiness is fleeting.

I share this, in hope that you will not, in an effort to help, make this day harder on someone who is estranged from their mother or has bad memories of their mother.

I share this because many people (far more than you would likely ever imagine) will be in pain tomorrow, most of them will not tell anyone how painful Mothers’ Day is for them out of fear of ruining the celebration for others and/or the fear of being judged and given unsolicited, inappropriate and damaging advice.

I share this so they will know that their experiences and pain are valid and that they are not alone.



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Family, Love, Loss and Magic at Christmas

Tis the season.

The season of love, joy and family.

It is the season of shared traditions.

For many, it is the season of melancholy.

Many (far too many this year) are spending their first holiday without a parent, loved one, beloved pet or child who has passed from this earth (losing a child to an early, unfair death or suicide… I can’t even imagine)

I was reading a Facebook post of a friend of mine today who asked if she was the only one who felt melancholy at this time of year.

She mentioned that she wished she had known as a child how precious those holidays with family were despite the fact that even though they were Jewish, they gathered at Christmas when they were free from work and school obligations and spent quality time together.

As many of us are wont to say, “Hug your loved ones; tell them that you love them, for you never know when it will be the very last time.”

Truer words were never spoken.

I do my best to distract myself from the fact that I have no immediate family (I do have some cousins in other states) and that due to my own abusive, dysfunctional, upbringing in an alcoholic household, I have been unable, as an adult to form a lasting functional romantic relationship/partnership (Wow, do I ever “pick wrong”)

I host holiday gatherings with chosen family (which in cases of severe dysfunction, neglect or abuse can be preferable to and healthier/safer than blood family)

I try to make sure that anyone who finds themselves alone at this often emotionally challenging time of year for whatever reason, knows that they have somewhere to go.

I cook, bake, decorate, send out cards and letters and try to give back to my community.

But in the end, there is still, always, that sense of aloneness, of being different-not in that cool, quirky, creative way, but in that “there is something wrong with me kind of way”.

Tonight, I will be cooking a holiday feast for friends/chosen from all walks of life, relationship statuses and faiths (or lack thereof)

I am going to hug them and let them know that I love and appreciate them, because we never know what someone else may be going through inside and because we never know when it will be the last time we have the chance.

I encourage everyone to do the same.

Family eating Christmas dinner

And just to end this rather serious reflection on a positive note, I offer up one of my favorite, past Christmas experiences.

“One Perfect Christmas Moment in Tacoma”

Sometimes when we least expect it, something amazing and profound hits us out of the blue, more often than not, it comes from a source that we least expect.

I am one of “those people” who prefers to use the words “Happy Holidays” to greet people during the winter holiday season in order to respect and acknowledge the fact that the season is shared by many faiths and traditions. It’s not a “war on Christmas”, it’s merely being inclusive and respectful.
I am not a Christian, but I do celebrate Christmas as a holiday of shared seasonal traditions. I celebrate it as a season of light, hope and ideally, peace on earth. To me, rebirth and renewal is a universal concept.

One Christmas morning, many years ago whilst living in Tacoma’s Stadium District, I walked to my neighborhood corner market to pick up something for a celebration that I was going to attend later in the day.  The weather was beautiful, the air was crisp and clean, and I was still enjoying fond memories of a celebration with good friends the night before.

As I looked out on to the deep blue waters of Commencement Bay, I also contemplated all the stress and depression that many people feel at this time of year, and how truly sad that is. I thought of all the pressure that our society puts on people to be happy and have the “perfect” holiday, and how many end up disappointed and frustrated. I thought of those who have lost loved ones, and for whom this time of year brings only painful memories of loss.; and as I watched a homeless man digging in the trash, I thought sadly of those who don’t even have a home and a hot meal. It seemed so wrong to me that a season that is supposed to be about happiness and joy brings stress, depression and sadness to so many. I was feeling pretty darn jaded.

I was distracted from my train of thought when I stopped to chat with a friend from work at the little coffee shop on the corner, and was then greeted by familiar faces and smiles at our little neighborhood market. I made my purchases and began my walk back home, my mind drifting back to the sadness I was thinking about earlier..

And then, I heard it on the air.

At first it was faint and distant; then it began go gain strength and seemed to be coming from all around me.
Music, bells, magic.

Stadium is an historic neighborhood where most of the buildings are at least 100 years old. It contains several beautiful old churches.

Resounding across the waters of Commencement Bay, the castle that is now Stadium High School and the old brick buildings filled with history, was “Gloria, In Excelious Deo…” coming from real bells in an old church (I don’t know which one) that has an organ controlling the bells. Next I heard, “Joy to the World” and was reminded that this indeed is a season of hope for many traditions.

I stopped walking and just stood there to listen, appreciate the world around me and experience something that was very powerful. It was then that I noticed other people stopped on the streets, also mesmerized by the magical sounds. They came out of their businesses and homes to sit on the stoops and listen, some even pulled their cars to the side of the road and turned off their engines.  Everyone, regardless of their religious upbringing, traditions or even current life circumstances was smiling in shared joy for the beauty in the air surrounding us. Most of us did not know nor had even seen each other before that moment; yet we felt an undeniable connection of the spirit.

For one brief moment, the world stood still, filled with peace, love and joy.

It doesn’t matter which church, religion, tradition or building that joyful sound came from. There are certain messages in this world that are universal.

If only we could all share more moments like the one I experienced Christmas morning in a tiny Tacoma neighborhood.

The world would be a better place.


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Fatherless Day

A couple years ago, I sincerely wished my friends who are fathers or who have/had fathers a “Happy Father’s Day”.

When I did the same last year, a friend jokingly commented on my Facebook post asking if those who were “immaculately conceived” need not apply.

I simply explained that some of us never knew our fathers; we were never given the opportunity so the observance does not in fact, apply to us.

I don’t want to put a damper on the celebration or happiness of others, so I generally keep my experiences/feelings/pain surrounding this particular holiday (as well as mother’s day) to myself.

Then other people started sharing their stories of divorce and being kept from their fathers.

Still more started sharing their stories about having their children kept from them.

It was then that I was reminded that while I don’t want to ruin the day for others, there are many others who need a place to vent and share there feelings.

In addition to not having, been kept from or losing a father, some were abused by fathers or step-fathers. Yeah, I got the double bonus in the “father” department; one I never knew and one who abused me.

People who were abused as children feel a wealth of pain and anger, and even guilt for being estranged from/not loving their father.

This is a difficult and painful day for so many people; many of whom are spending their first Father’s Day without their fathers or the fathers of their children.

Yes, they may have happy memories, but to them, this day is a painful reminder of their loss.

I have no words that will comfort those who are feeling pain and loss today. I have no words at all other than.

“You are not alone”.

I do however have words for women who are keeping children from their fathers. Actually, they are words for anyone keeping a child from a parent.

Unless the child is in danger/being abused, there is no excuse to keep a child from their father just because you think he’s an a$$hole.

My mother left my father when I was barely three years old.

I have no memory of him at all.

I never even saw a photograph of him.

When I would ask my mother what he was like, she snapped at me, “You don’t want to know what he was like, he was a terrible person, all he cared about was money. He is incapable of loving anyone, he didn’t love or want you or me.”

We moved a lot and she always made sure that we had an unlisted phone number and could not be tracked down.

I finally found his family when I was an adult; I found them too late, he had died two years prior.

I remember curling up in a ball in my kitchen and crying because I was too late. Yeah, I felt guilty for not trying hard enough.

I did finally meet his/my family. The letter I received back was from my step-mother, who had me come visit her.

She gave me some things of my fathers and told me that he did want me and did try to find me. My name was listed in his funeral program. I visited my aunts and met my grandfather before he died. They gave me a few photographs, something I had missed and craved my entire life.

Part of me was comforted by that, and part was very VERY angry for having been lied to my entire life.

I have had to do a lot of forgiving of my mother in regards to this, and other situations. It is a challenging and ongoing process. After she died, as I was going through her things, I discovered the true, terrible depth of her lies. Trust me folks, if you keep a terrible secret, it will be found found out eventually.

I share my story, not to bring anyone down or to ruin the holiday for those with reason to celebrate.

I share my story in hopes that some parent out there will make a different, better choice than to keep a child from their parent.

For those of you who are keeping your children from their other parent (for reasons other than the child would be in real danger) I have these words.

Taking away a parent, even photographs and stories, takes away half of a child’s identity.

Telling that child that one of their parents in a terrible person, teaches them that they are also a terrible person because it’s half of who they are.

Telling a child that one of their parents doesn’t want or love them teaches them that there is something wrong with them and that they are not worthy of love.

Lying to a child, teaches them that they can not trust anyone.

Please don’t do that to your child. They deserve better.

the above photo is of my grandfather and grandmother Lawrence, my father (the one who looks like trouble) and his five sisters/my five aunts


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It’s all in (the very painful) Details

I am at the “detail” stage of my orthodontic work at month 16.

I had the final wire put on at my last appointment with only one tiny adjustment. Other than the one tooth that was being adjusted, I had no pain at all.

I was sure that the rest of this process would be a piece of cake and an easy ride to my early release (for good elastic wearing behavior) from orthodontic torture.

Today, I discovered how very wrong I was.

I introduce to you… power chains.

They are elastics that wrap around each bracket and pull the teeth together.

These aren’t mine (mine are clear and won’t show up in a cell phone photo), but the bright colors show you what is on my brackets under my wire.

For those who have seen earlier photos of my teeth, I had no gaps in between my front teeth (more on that later) because crowding was the issue, but some of my molars needed to be pulled closer together.

Before these things got put on my top and bottom teeth, a rotary file was taken to some of my front teeth and gaps created (yeehaw…that was “fun”)

I knew the second these were attached that my days of “easy adjustments” were over. The discomfort was immediate and relentless.

Oh… but a few minor wire adjustments and the power chains weren’t the only thing done today that hurts like heck. I’m in new elastics.

My over bite was over-corrected (commonly done) to allow it to naturally relax into place, so I was only wearing my elastic bands at night and was back down to the super light ones that don’t hurt.

Now, I’m back to wearing them in a different configuration, 24/7 and they are worse than ever; they are much larger, with more tension, and they are doubled up running from a bottom tooth, up across two top teeth and then back down to another bottom tooth.

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They are a giant pain to get on and off (have to take them out to eat and brush/floss) and are so tight that I can’t open my mouth more than a fraction of an inch. (oh the weird color on that crown is from extra bracket adhesive so the appliance would quit popping off)

So here’s the latest photo…

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Let it suffice to say that in addition to being extremely painful, it’s not pretty and I do not feel cute right now at all (which is challenging enough at my age with all the weird stuff my body is doing and don’t get my started on my red puffy eyes due to allergy season)

To add insult to injury, my orthodontist’s decree that I had dropped my 24 month time down to 18 months doesn’t look to be that accurate.

I was hoping for a July removal, but the doc I saw today (had to go to a different doc in the same practice because I changed appointment dates due to a work event) said that I’m “on schedule” and ‘”while it would be nice to get them off early, that’s not the goal, perfection is the goal.” (maybe for my birthday in October instead of Mid-December? A girl can hope… right?)

I get that, I’m just in pain, not feeling pretty and am a bit discouraged after hearing that.

I could really use a hug and a cookie.

Oh wait… I can’t chew. No cookie for me.

This too shall pass.

Even though I’m supposed to be wearing these things 24/7, I can take them out for dances and other social events where I don’t want to look goofy/not be able to open my mouth/be in pain, and if I find myself around anyone I might want to kiss (although I’m not feeling very kissable right now at all)

I’m sure the pain will lessen in a few days as well.

Let this be a lesson to you kids… wear your retainers and have your wisdom teeth out if the dentist or orthodontist recommends it because trust me, you don’t want to go through this again as an adult.

*note, I wasn’t going to blog about today at all (because I hate whining), but so many of my blog hits are coming from adults all over the world searching for info on having orthodontic work that I feel compelled to keep writing about it so that they do not feel that they are alone in this.


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I got to lick my teeth!!!

Today was a very breif teaser of what I hope to be able to do permenently in less than a year.

I got to lick my teeth! (hey, if you’ve never had braces on, you’ll never understand what a big deal that is)

The braces were put on one year ago this week (December 14th 2011) and a LOT has been going on in my mouth.

My bite is completely corrected (actually a tad bit over corrected which is what they shoot for) so I no longer have to wear those nasty, heavy, painful elastic bands 24/7. I only have to wear them at night, and they switched me back to the super light ones. I will have so much less pain and won’t look as goofy.

I’m now entering the “finish” phase which is where things are fine tuned. Today, I had the panoramic X-ray so that my ortho could look at my roots.

There is always a danger of root resorption, where the roots shrink and bone collapses due to the movement of the teeth which can result in tooth loss. I know one (adult) person who had to have his braces removed early before treatment was completed because this was happening to him. After all this pain and hassle, I want to see this through to the end.

Luckily, my roots look great and so does the bone; which means that the braces are doing their job and correcting the gum and bone issues I was experiencing due to the teeth crowding (kids, wear your retainer and get your wisdom teeth out before they mess up your mouth or you’ll have to do it all again as an adult). I had my cleaning appointment last week, and my hygenist said that my gums look great and to keep doing what I’m doing.

Since the teeth, roots, bone and gums are all healthy, the next step was to move some of my brackets so get the teeth/roots better aligned.

I was worried that several brackets would be moved to push teeth up, pull them down and rotate them and that I’d be in severe pain after this adjustment.

I got super lucky and they only adjusted the brackets on my four top front teeth.

From Braces

I was so excited to be able to lick my teeth; they were super smooth and felt so good. It was a little preview of how wonderful it’s going to feel to have all of the brackets off less than a year from now.

Trust me, if you’d had metal brackets and wires on your teeth for a year, you’d be positively giddy if you got to lick them, even if it was only for two minutes.

The other thing he did was grind down the front right tooth which is a bit long due to a repair when the tooth was broken and badly repaired (kids… never dive into the shallow end of the pool) he also ground down a nasty chip in the tooth. There will be more finish work/repair after the braces come off so that my smile will be pretty.

So here is the latest/greatest shot of my braces. It’s a far cry from the photos of the first couple of months of braces tacked on to the end of this post…

From Braces

In additon to the good news that I only have to wear the lightest elastics at night only, I got even better news.

When I asked about treatment time and if we were still on schedule for 24 months of treatment (the original estimate) meaning that I could eat Almond Roca without putting it in a food processor first next holiday season, he said, “Oh, I think we’re way ahead of schedule because of how good you were about wearing your elastics.”

The new estimate is 18 months instead of 24, which means I cut six months of my treatment time by putting on my big girl panties, sucking it up and dealing with the inconveneint, painful things (kids, wear your elastics even though you hate them).

I could get these things off my teeth as early as June. How awesome would that be?

On a related note, I was trying to decide if I should buy mistletoe for the house this year; No one seems to be interested in kissing a 50 year old woman with braces so it seemed like a waste.

Then this little guy showed up in the mail today… I decided to hang him up and see what happens 😉

So just for comparison… here are the braces the day I got them on….

You can see what a big pull it is on the front tooth and the spring on the bottom (probably a hint of the elastic in the back as well)

From February 29, 2012

Here they are about a month later.

You can’t really notice much cosmetically yet, but there was a lot of movement of the cross bite and back teeth (the ones that are wired)

From February 29, 2012

Here they are with the slightly thicker wire, heftier spring. The bad front tooth is pulling down nicely and the cross bite is corrected (he’s having me wear the elastics though the next appointment so it doesn’t go back before the thicker wire goes on) The bottom tooth still isn’t ready to be pulled forward (it’s tied to the wire) until the teeth on either side of it push out just a bit more.

From February 29, 2012


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