Emotional Roller Coasters

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This has been one of those crazy busy weeks. For the last three I’ve resorted to lists that included absolutely everything that I needed to remember, even consisting of using the bathroom, sleeping and eating breakfast. This is where my anxiety meets the normal end of year stress and they compete for which is going to make me the most miserable and forgetful.

Since Monday, we’ve had the last day of school, report cards, forgetting and then buying the teachers’ gifts not to mention the bus driver’s who should be nominated for sainthood. We’ve had a broken bicycle, my middle child’s DARE graduation and 5th grade moving up day, my oldest child’s high school graduation plus keeping track of all the parties he’s expecting to go to this weekend. We had my brother visit for about twenty-eight hours (to attend the aforementioned graduation) and my youngest child’s doctor’s appointment for her yearly physical. I had planned on sleeping late Friday since I forgot about the doctor, and then I was going to just veg out at home for the rest of the afternoon, ignoring everyone at home and on the internet.

However, the internet had other plans for me. Reverend Clementa Pinckney”s funeral with President Obama’s eulogy and rendition of Amazing Grace brought the emotion and grief of last week’s church shooting back into my mental sphere. That sense of loss undermined with the controversy of the confederate flag and the discussion of what constitutes racism if the shooting of nine Black worshippers in their church isn’t (according to some news outlets.)

Then, with the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling that anyone and everyone in this country can marry whom so ever they choose, my Facebook and Tumblr exploded with the force of a thousand rainbows. As one comedian said, opening Facebook on Friday looked like a battle between the confederacy and a skittles factory. A more apt description I have thus far not seen.

While the kids were out meeting Minions at our local FYE store, I stayed home to catch up on my lying around and watched Lee Daniels’ The Butler on Netflix. I thought this would be an interesting escape from the emotional roller coaster this week has been and I’d see the inner workings of a White House staff member, i.e. the butler. I apparently did not read what this movie was actually about. It was excellent, and I would highly recommend it, but in telling The Butler’s story, it wound its way from 1926 Georgia sharecroppers to 2009 and the first Black President. It followed Forest Whitaker’s character through the civil rights movement, which brought out an emotional tear fest for me. It was painful to watch, especially the historical re-enactments of lunchroom counters and beatings and exploding buses, not to mention the fright I felt at seeing white-sheeted Klansmen that I remembered from my history classes.I was a sobbing mess by the end of it.

While I failed in looking for that escape, it was actually a nice way to be reminded of how far this country has come. With the marriage equality victory still taking center stage on my Facebook, this was a good reminder of what the civil rights movement was all about, and how we still have so far to go for so many.

However, the forefront of my emotions were still back at my family adventures, which started the inspiration for this reflection. It was exciting and scary, emotional and giddy as we proudly watched our two sons mark milestones in their young lives and move towards their next chapters. I wanted to be part of every moment, and I tried to relish in it. It’s not easy when so much is happening at the same time, and while I was trying to live in the moment, I was also trying to  record those moments.

And to be honest, my daughter was a good sport that 99% of this week’s activities had her taking a backseat to her brothers. Even her visit to the doctor wasn’t all that pleasant since she didn’t get a special mommy day like usual for those kinds of things because money was short this week. So no lunch out, but we’re making summer plans with the next paycheck.

What really surprised me this week was that amid my frantic-don’t-forget-anything, do-we-have-everything pseudo-shrieking was my oldest son, my almost high school graduate, my volunteer fireman and almost certified EMS worker doing everything I beckoned. Everything. From wearing a collared shirt under his graduation gown to leaving the park early so we could have lunch with his uncle before he got on his train for home to not needing to be asked even once to get out of bed on graduation morning. For twenty-four hours he was on time, ready, cooperative, and non-argumentative as we pushed and prodded, posed and hugged. He even let me kiss him a couple of times.

As much as I think my son slacks off, he passed all of his classes, he received the highest diploma his school offers; he earned some college credits and kept up on his fire department/EMS training. So, his room wasn’t clean. Ever. His bed wasn’t made. Ever. On occasion he got the dirty dishes out of his room, and he took showers, made dinner and helped with his brother and sister when he was asked; sometimes before he was asked.

When I told him he couldn’t come to his brother’s DARE graduation because it was parents only, he was incredulous. “Let them try and keep me out!” I was surprised at his determination to be part of something for his younger brother like that. He went from shrugs and ‘sures’ to caring and wanting to be part of it. I think I was most proud of that moment than even holding his diploma finally in my hands. The diploma was his hard work come to fruition, but the former – that was my hard work. That was my parenting, of showing my children what is important in this life: family.

As they get older, their needs and wants change and evolve, but they’re getting it. The one thing I had control over, I seem to have been successful at. I found out that I’m doing something right, so I can keep trying to do it with my two younger ones, and hope they turn out as strong and kind, caring and loving and thoughtful as their brother who led (and continues to lead) the way.

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