kariskhaos


Roots and Wings
October 3, 2018, 7:39 pm
Filed under: blessings, communication, empty nest, Parenting, travel

930BAB42-0A8F-4680-AF44-0EF45FF7594DThis girl, this heart of my heart, is spreading her wings once again.

Jessie leaves for three months for an adventure in South America.
By. Her. Self.
Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, Chile, and Argentina.

Some of the trip is a planned tour group, some is visiting friends, some is just flat-out solo travel with no agenda. The last 5 weeks volunteering in a hospital with the goal of solidifying her Spanish conversational skills and discerning a path in the medical field. She’ll stay with a host family during this time.
My only daughter, a beautiful 21 year-old woman/child is taking risks, pushing past her fear, choosing to not let her anxiety – which has been crippling at times – keep her from this trip. I am in awe, I am a bit scared, probably more than a little jealous and incredibly proud.

My heart is torn.
I feel sadness of missing her, not getting to see her sweet smile on a regular basis. I will miss sharing our lives in the same intimate world where daughter and mother have become friends and
talk and text often.A31AED64-A02E-44F4-AA7A-32D180FE9743
I will touch my necklace she gave me for her graduation from high school and yearn to know where she is at that exact moment.
At the same time my heart bursts with pride, admires the strength and courage she is embracing and celebrates her independent, determined, risk-taking soul. I am looking forward to seeing pictures, hearing stories and watching from “afar” the growth and changes this trip will most definitely make on her soul.

Roots and wings.

Joy and sadness.

Holding on and letting go.

I don’t have control. I cannot protect her, or save her, or make her decisions.
I do get to watch her fly and that is the greatest gift of all.

B169DD84-E7DC-43D1-89B1-AD454B279B3F

Advertisements


A week, a lifetime, a future

It is Sunday, Isaac has been off work for two weeks, we leave for Cal Polly SLO in six days, and he says to me “Hey mom would you be able to get a dental cleaning appointment for me this week?  Oh and I need a hair cut.”  Really?  I manage to get him an appointment for the cleaning and the morning of his appointment he comes out of the bathroom after brushing his teeth and comments to me about how he thinks it is going to be a rough visit because his mouth is bleeding.  I casually smile and say well that’s how it usually is when you don’t floss, and then finally do it the day of your appointment. He looks at me with his typical sheepish grin, and then says the words a parent never wants to hear from their 18-year-old child who is leaving for college in a few days, “Its not from flossing mom, they are bleeding from me brushing them.  I kinda got out of the habit of brushing my teeth.”

I am totally mortified. I am speechless.  I have failed in a rudimentary way as a parent and mom. What exactly do you say to that? This boy is going to college?

It is now Thursday and his friend Troy is over to say goodbye.  Boys are really awkward with goodbyes.  A quick hug, a fist pump, a joke about being non-emotional and off he goes to get his haircut.  He packs the rental Saturday with the help of his dad.  Tetrus like engineering to fit all his stuff and still leave room for me, my sister and his lanky body to almost fit as we make our 12 hour car ride to San Luis Obispo.  A tearful goodbye from his dad and sister at 7:00am Sunday morning(the brothers said goodbye last night, no need to get up early) and our adventure to his future begins.IMG_0426

We arrive with no problems, find our hotel and talk about the morning move in.  I have all the paperwork, the parking permit printed and the do’s and don’ts memorized.  I am trying to talk to him about logistics, what time we want to get there, meeting his roommates etc.  Isaac calmly says to me “Mom, I want to sleep in till 11:00, I am going to be there 4 years, there is no rush.”  Really? what about your mom and her panic and need to get there and fix things and know that you are going to be okay, what if you need more things, or we forget something, what if there is an apocalypse and you never get to see your dorm room? Really? You will be able to sleep in on the day your new life of college and future as you know it begins?

Monday I am up early, my stomach hurts, I am a nervous wreck.  Isaac sleeps.  My sister and I get up, get dressed, and go to have breakfast so that I do not jump on my boy and wake him up because of my nerves.  I drink coffee, look at the beautiful view and pray for time to move faster and stop all at the same time.  I so wish my husband could be here.  He is coping about as well as I am but has to do his from a distance.  He loses his glasses and spends an hour looking for them before going to work late with his prescription sun glasses instead.

My sister tries to keep me occupied as the minutes creep by.  I breathe in, I breathe out.  I think of him when he was born, I think of his first steps and first words.  I groan as I think of the sarcastic, laid back, man-child he has become.  Can I get him up yet? We go back to the room at 10:00.  I jump on his bed and hold him tight.  Isaac asks what time it is, and when I tell him, he groans and growls at me.  I ignore him.  I look over and notice my bed has been made.  My sister and I look at each other oddly.  How did that happen? We ask Isaac.  He mumbles something about the maid coming in, not knowing he was still in bed.  She started on our bed and threw some pillows on him.  When she turned to get them, she realized Isaac was there, gave a quick start, apologized and left.  Only Isaac I think to myself.

It is now Tuesday afternoon, he is moved in, we have been to orientation, I have bought my Cal Poly Mom sticker and Isaac is off with his roommate and new friends getting their cards for the athletic center.  I want to take a nap because I am emotionally, and physically exhausted but I don’t think Isaac would appreciate his mom crawling up on his bunk and sleeping, instead I decide to write him my good-bye letter.  IMG_1258

Isaac,

You are off with Cole being a college boy as I sit in your dorm room.  You have tolerated very well my comings and goings, my nervous over reactions and my extra affection.  Thank you.

So often I have thought what I might want to say to you at this moment.  Flash backs of your childhood, your buck teeth, your high school years and your laid back, goofy smile.  I do not have any advice.  I do not have any real concerns about you here.  It is a perfect fit- you will do well, thrive.  Spread your long wing span and fly.

You know all the other stuff but maybe you need it in print to be able to look back at.

  1. You are Loved – No matter what – Change schools, change majors, change sexual orientation, change anything  knowing you are loved.
  2. We trust you – Make decisions, make mistakes, fall on your face and get back up.  We trust you.  You know how to make good choices, make them freely.
  3. I am ALWAYS your MOM – I will always worry a bit, I will ask too many questions, I will ‘baby’ you about food, rest, water, girls- it is just who I am, but I will try really hard to limit my vocal worry to when you are not with your college friends.
  4. Remember who you are and Whose you are – You Isaac are a child of God, beautifully and wonderfully made.  It matters not what you claim to believe right now, only that you know you are not an accident.  You are here for a purpose.  Find that purpose and live a life worthy of your uniqueness.
  5. Laugh every day – Find joy in the small things.  When it is hard and you are stressed out and life really sucks remember a corny joke your dad told.  Remember Gus and how he dances with you and will be so excited to see you.  Watch a stupid, crass, no redeeming value movie or an episode of Tosh.O. Laughter heals, laughter calms, laugh to survive

I will miss you, I do already.  There is a spot in my heart that is Isaac shaped.  It formed when you were conceived and will be with me till I die.  It has to adjust and change to not having a daily interaction with you, it will feel empty but it will adjust-it will not diminish, it will not be forgotten, it will be different.

I love you Isaac Scott Johnson, MOM

Its Friday, he has been sleeping in his dorm for three nights. I am home getting ready to go to two football games, help with a basketball fundraiser and work at the shop. I have heard from him in one word texts.  He likes his roommates.  He is brushing his teeth. It is enough.

250



“See Ya”

He hugs me with his large hard arms and chiseled body, “See Ya.” I hold on just a second more, smile and watch him walk away.  I go back to my car that is still running, with Gus my dog now sitting in the front where John was. My stomach has nervous butterflies as  I slide into the driver’s seat.  I take a deep breath and say a quick prayer of safety for him.  I pull out of the departures drop off and weave my way back into the traffic flow.

My head is full of contrasting thoughts warring within my mind.  What kind of mother are you to leave him at the door of the airport? He is legally blind, what if he misses his flight? What if he gets lost?  Are you really letting him travel across the country without even a cell phone? He has always wanted to be independent.  He is very capable and if he cant do this how will he go to college in a year?  It’s John, he is proud and strong and will ask if he needs help. He has all he needs and he will text me, no worries, no worries.  What the hell was I thinking? What if he gets kidnapped, or off at the wrong place or … be serious Kari he is a sixteen year old, black male, who looks like an ox and has forearms the size of your thigh and thighs the size of a small horse, let it go.

John is off to Baltimore to join about fifty other blind and legally blind students from across the country for a program sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). STEMX which is:

Science, technology, engineering, and math to the extreme!

The following is an excerpt from the web site:

“The “X” in the program’s title draws inspiration from the aerospace community, where historically programs and missions have utilized the letter as an abbreviation for exploration, and as a statement that the effort seeks new solutions and new discoveries that surpass previously assumed barriers to scientific advancement. In this same way, the NFB STEM-X program challenges the notion that blind people are unable to pursue STEM fields, or on a larger scale, are predestined to a life of social welfare and government dependence.

Students will choose from one of five focus disciplines (chemistry, computer science, engineering, robotics, and space science) in which to specialize during NFB STEM-X. Students will spend half of each of the four instructional days engaged in their focus discipline, learning alongside fellow high school students with blind and sighted STEM professionals as their guides. All five focus disciplines will work collaboratively throughout the program, capitalizing on each other’s specialization to innovate creative solutions to complex problems.

Outside of their work in their focus discipline, students will have the opportunity to participate in enrichment activities that will provide them with authentic learning experiences in a wider variety of STEM disciplines. Evenings will be filled with activities that will help students develop their leadership skills and build their confidence while having fun and socializing with blind teens from across the country.”

This is an incredible culmination of twelve years of blood, sweat and tears for our family.  John has not been the poster child for adoption.  He has had a very difficult life and our journey with him has been far from easy.  His anger issues, post traumatic stress,  attachment disorder, stubbornness, on top of his vision issues are well documented, but his intelligence, sense of humor, determination, fearless attitude have made it possible for us to come to this point.

In choosing to apply for this opportunity he needed to admit he was legally blind, be willing to be with other blind students and acknowledge his need for help to make it happen. In a series of small miracles over the last five months everything fell into place.  In a rare moment of candid conversation before he left I heard words I never thought I would.  John called me “mom” for the first time in years and thanked me for all the work I had done to make this a possibility.

I drove over the mountains figuratively, and literally, with a renewed hope for our family and the world that is opening up to embrace our son John.



Soul restoration

I come to the sea to breathe. I come to the island, my island to restore my soul. It has always been this way. My life off the island is filled with good things, four kids, an incredible husband, friends, work, and a color coded calendar. It is crazy, busy, chaotic, stressful, satisfying and non stop. My island is my oasis, it my gift to me, it is the one place I completely relax. A favorite theologian of my husbands, Dietrich Bonehoeffer once said “My time with others prepares me for my time alone, and my time alone prepares me for my time with others.” The Island gives me the strength, courage and restoration that allows the life that I lead off island to be possible.

I have never come to the island alone, various amounts of family, friends and pets accompany me here. It is a small cabin, one bathroom, two bedrooms and a large deck. It is enough and I never feel crowded or claustrophobic. Island time is slower. Island life is a step back in time from all the communication breakthroughs, the social media, the constant background noise of a tv or computer or PS3. It is life unplugged by choice.

I have heard experts say you need time for yourself everyday, and though I know this is true to an extent, my life does not lend itself to this. My non island life is a whirlwind from the moment I get up to the time I hit the pillow once more. It is filled with teenagers, sporting events that need team dinners, stinky laundry washed, meal after meal made, a quick walk with the dog and then off to other wonderful, very necessary appointments and so the days go. It is a very fulfilling life, I really like my life, but I could not manage this pace, this frenzied atmosphere of 110 miles per hour if I did not get my island break.

Escape is not easy. Juggling the kids summer camp schedules, work, time with family and other obligations try to claw and plead and work on my sense of responsibility and prey on my need to please others. This year was especially hard. Two of my sons have full time jobs for the summer. They would not be coming with me to the island for the first time in 12 years. My best friend’s oldest son is getting married in Bend with lots of drama and the pull to stay and help and support Jen was strong. The hardest part by far this year, was leaving my husband who after eighteen months of living away from us during the week was finally home with a new job that started the week I left for the island.

A younger me, would have changed her plans. She would have given in to the belief that she was so important she must stay. A younger me would push herself to be everything for everyone and do it with a smile. A younger me would need the ego stroking accolades that would come from sacrificing my plans to serve others. It’s not like a summer in Bend, Oregon is a hardship, spending time with my husband and best friend is not difficult, or a burden. It would have been fine, but the older me is wiser now.

I chose me, I chose from a menu of good things, the best one for me. My understanding of this need is ultimately my gift to others for it allows me to have a reservoir of mental health and strength to give the rest of the year. I come to the sea to breathe. I come to the island to restore my soul.

20130715-155828.jpg



The circle of life

Sitting at a small cafe, drinking my late after finishing the most delicious, buttery decadent croissant I have had in years, I am trying to find my bearings as I start this new day. I have traveled many miles to get here, both physically and emotionally. I am philosophical, and a bit pensive this morning. Isaac, my first born son and the miracle of my womb is still sleeping back at the motel. We are here to visit his number one college choice Cal Poly, in San Luis Obispo, California.

The bakery bustles with activity, the girls behind the counter are very peppy and seem to enjoy being here. Mom’s and babies, college kids, tourists, and an eclectic mix of older women ooh and awe over the delicious and beautiful choices displayed before them. An older gentleman sings his greeting in a deep and beautiful operatic voice and no one seems a bit surprised. I like it here.

I sip my coffee and reflect on the days when I was that college student, that mom of a toddler, and see my self in the funny old lady whose hat is jauntily sitting on her bed of grey hair. It is as the great writers of Disney put it “The circle of life”. I get up to leave and wake up my almost 18 year old son, and some of the butterfly’s in my stomach fly away.

20121004-145429.jpg



Fill in the blank Friday Johnson style, miscellaneous

20120728-001253.jpg
<br /

Continue reading



Day eighteen, the last night

20120726-234531.jpg

20120726-234407.jpg

Sunshine warms my face, and Gus sleeps at my feet as I enjoy the breakfast/ lunch that Christian made for me. I slept in for the first morning of my time here, and had no agenda for the day. Christian had asked that we go to a beach since we have spent all our time working on the cabin. John wanted to work a few more hours on the property so the rest us took off for Bennett Bay. The boys and Gus venture down the beach to rock hop and climb to the end of the bay. Jessie, her friend Jas, and I sat down to soak up the sun.

It was hard to believe that this is my last full day on the island. I am so thankful for the time here, and the house is looking great. I created a little vignette of my grandmothers hats, purses, gloves and jewelry in honor of her amazing collection. I have loved seeing my children invest in the house that was built by their great grandparents. I am so proud of their hard work, and how their investment will pay off for future generations of our family.

We ventured down to jump off the dock, and even though Isaac and John did not jump, we all walked together down the hill and onto the dock. It is moments like this that I treasure. I etch the moment in my heart, and know that I will be able to recall this feeling, this smell, this special time in the future.

We end the night at the lighthouse. A beautiful sunset, a baby seal barking out to his mamma, and the waves slapping the shore. This is a perfect day, a beautiful night and fitting end to my special time on my special island.

20120726-234340.jpg

20120726-234354.jpg

20120726-234442.jpg

20120726-234545.jpg

20120726-234649.jpg