Amy Supports AmeriCares

September29

AmeriCars_logo
AmeriCares is a wonderful organization that puts medical and emergency supplies in the hands of local professionals in times of emergency.

I am honored to have voiced their current video.

Please watch and learn about AmeriCares vital work!
- Amy

Filipino Doctor Finds Help and Hope in Midst of Typhoon Devastation from AmeriCares on Vimeo.

Learn more at: www.AmeriCares.com

When Anything Can Happen

September23

As most of you know, my daughter has an intellectual disability.  Much of my heart opening path has stemmed from that, and parenting in general.  If I didn’t have children, I would think my shit didn’t stink.  But in the most loving of ways (or not) my kids rub my nose in the shit of my unresolved issues about once an hour.

Friday morning I sat inAB_AnythingCanHappen2 a support group for mothers with kids with special needs.  I am big on groups; they have always worked for me.  Without them, I feel hopeless and alone.  With them, I am not alone and even if I feel hopeless, I know I can borrow your hope for a week or two.  (Thank you for that, by the way.)

On Friday a woman who is new to me spoke of another friend, also a mother of a child with special needs.  “I wish my friend could come,” she said, to the already full group.  “She said to me this morning, ‘I can’t believe this is my life.  A child with significant disabilities, and two other kids besides.’”  The woman went on:  “My friend is a highly educated chemical engineer who hasn’t worked for seven years because of her children’s needs.  She used to travel; she had plans.  And now her life is so limited.  I know how she feels.  I always thought I’d get back to Europe, travel more, and maybe live with my family in another country.  I can’t see that happening any time soon.”

She paused.

(Although I don’t know her well, I like this woman immensely. She has an immediate, blindingly honest way about her.)

“Of course I love my kids, they are the best thing that happened to me,” she finished, and we nodded.  Of course.  “But wow.  Before you know it, life gets so… real.”

That night, Brad and I went to a birthday party for a friend of ours turning 35.  In a hip part of town on a hip little street, we walked into a room of twinkly lights and textiles from many trips taken by my friend and his vivacious girlfriend.  Because I am a middle-aged homeowner, I looked at this beautiful home and asked, “Did you have to do a lot to this place?  Knock down walls?  Re-do bathrooms?”  Donna (vivacious girlfriend) smiled and said, no they rent.  She throws up her artsy stuff on rental walls and transforms cinderblock into Morocco.  “I make all our rentals look good,” she said. “The owners like it so much they’ve sold three of our past rentals with my stuff in it, because it shows so well.”

I was back in the demo of transitory living.  I remember it well.  I lived in probably 45 different rooms between the ages of 20 and 31.  I’d put a lamp down, cover it with as scarf  (Blanch Dubois-style), throw up my Bhutanese blanket and voila — I was home.  I looked around this crowd of 20 and 30 somethings – artists, activists, those in-between careers and those who had never had one –and I thought of my new friend from that morning’s meeting.

AB_AnythingCanHappen

It seemed to me that most of these partyers hadn’t made choices that had anchored them.  They were Jell-O that had not yet set.  They lived breathlessly in that moment where Anything Can Happen.

And everything will happen. Children will happen and weddings will happen and careers will change and money will be made and lost. An illness will arise.  A child will have a special need.  Someone will go to rehab. A marriage will run its course.  A financial investment will boom!  Then bust!  Then boom again!  Plans will be made, and with shocking predictability, Life Itself will upset those plans.

I have solid things in my life today, none of which I could’ve predicted. I have a marriage; I have two wildly different children to whom I am committed.  I have a circle of friends and a mortgage and I pay taxes.  I have aging parents who cared for me when I was young, and now I am committed to paying back that service.

But despite this supposed solidity, I too live in the moment where Anything Can Happen.  My father goes in for a heart procedure on Thursday.  While writing this I am knocking wood, my heart, my head that all will go well (I trust it will.)  But as he is 86 and my mom is 88, I’d be naïve to think our time together is not short.  Anything Can Happen with my blossoming children, who surprise me at every turn and challenge my preconceptions every day.  Anything Can Happen with my marriage, where another door of intimacy is always waiting to be opened (if we can get away from the kids for five friggin’ minutes!!!)

I didn’t wish to be back at the age of my partying friends.  I didn’t know how to love then.  I had never felt the exquisite pierce of staying committed to something.   I’d blow out of things at the drop of a hat – a job, a romance, a city – when they no longer served me.  Staying committed has been a crash course in love – for myself and others.  Back then, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

And when the buoyant, slightly unhinged girl in the skinny jeans went trolling for some Adderall to snort, my husband and I took the cue, packed up, and drove back home.  The fat lady had sung.

It’s nice to be middle-aged.  You get more sleep.

“The Boxtrolls” Premiere

September22

Amy and her daughter Charlotte Silberling attend Focus Features’ “The Boxtrolls” premiere, Universal CityWalk on September 21st, 2014

The Boxtrolls Premiere, Universal CityWalk, September 21, 2014

The Boxtrolls Premiere, Universal CityWalk, September 21, 2014
The Boxtrolls Premiere, Universal CityWalk, September 21, 2014
The Boxtrolls Premiere, Universal CityWalk, September 21, 2014

 

Changes

September14

My son turned 9 in June. Always a thoughtful, precocious dude (in his mama’s indulgent eyes anyway), he has now entered what Rudolf Steiner termed “the nine year change.” My kids started out in a Waldorf school and if I were a good Waldorf mother I could quote chapter and verse Steiner’s philosophy. I’m not. But here’s what I know.

Bodhi_Age9Nine is an age where authority is questioned and danger becomes real. Bodhi is squarely “in the world” now – asking how much things cost, how certain things historically came to be and (most annoyingly) realizing his parents are fallible. That last one is a pain in the ass. Every day he is a lawyer in the Courtroom of Life, drilling down questions to catch us in lies.
Which he does, of course. To us, they are white lies. To him they are EVIDENCE that his parents can be WRONG.

We were in a coffee shop. CNN played yet another image of yet another angry police state. Riot gear, sobbing citizens, rocks picked up to be thrown. I turned him away from the TV so we could have one more lunch in the Age of Innocence, before me (adult) would learn of another gruesome story and he (nine year old boy) would know of another upset in the world.

It was Ferguson. Bodhi was deeply interested in all that went on there. He has many friends of many different colors, so the whole idea of modern “racism” was new. He’d learned about Rosa Parks and MLK in a historical context, but those were the Bad Old Days of Segregation. That was all done, right? If not, why the hell not?

He asked me about it at bedtime.

“Here’s the thing, bud,” I began, groping for words like parents the world over. “In Ferguson – in a lot of places, actually – if things have not been worked out and expressed between two sides, a law won’t change that. It’s supposed to. But if there are still feelings that haven’t been expressed or ways of doing things that aren’t fair, they will bubble up. There will be a ‘final straw’ and it will all bubble up. It seems out of nowhere, but really it just means there have been things heating up below ground for a long time. Like a volcano.”

Long pause.

“Adults tell us all the time ‘use your words” but then they pick up guns and shoot each other. Why don’t they what they are always telling us to do?”

Nine year change.

Also, the truth.

His secondary interest, besides the Courtroom of Life, is roller coasters. (I know, I know. From the sublime to the ridiculous.) With exacting detail that borders on tedium for us non-zealots, he will explain all the rides in parks around the country and – most significantly to him– the height limit for each.

Fifty-four. The magic number. Fifty-four inches and you get to ride everything.

There are previous cut-offs at 42 inches, 46 inches, and 48 inches — each threshold met with the excitement of a Bar Mitzvah. But 54 inches? That day you really are a man. And get to ride Batman.

Again, bedtime.

“You’ve really had a growth spurt, honey,” I say idly.

Bodhi’s eyes light up and he races for the tape measure.

“REALLY? Do you think I’m 54? I think I’m 54. Let me put on my sneakers to see if I’m 54.”

Wearing nothing but his underwear, he puts on the sneakers with the thickest sole. I stretch the tape measure and with a pen mark the 54-inch spot on his door jam. He stretches up — no tip-toes (he knows better) but the longest giraffe neck a human being can muster. His eyes are wet with anticipation.

“Woooooow,” I say, drawing out the word, delaying the inevitable. “So close, buddy. So close.”

“Am I 53 and three-quarters?” (Thank you third grade fractions.)

“Uuuuuuuugh.’ More drawing out. “Not … really. More like 52 and a half.” More like 51 and three quarters.

For all the newfound cynicism of the nine-year-old, they are still children after all. With lightening speed, they switch from eye rolling to inconsolable sobs, as Bodhi did then. Stretched out on his bed, he wept for the injustice of it all, for the confusion of being all grown (seemingly) only to be slapped down to the kids’ table once again. The sobs were so committed and so sudden, I wanted to laugh. I am an actress after all. “Aw honey, “ I wanted to say, “that cry is so fake! No one will believe it!”

But of course it wasn’t fake. It was a cry from the soul, and as such warranted nothing but love. I rubbed his back and murmured, “I know. I’m so sorry. This must be so hard” – none of which had any effect. So I tried telling the truth.

“Bodhi, here’s what I do know. Once you are 54 inches, you will never not be 54 inches again. This time seems so long because you want to ride Batman so badly. But once you are tall enough to ride Batman, you will never not be tall enough to ride Batman again.”

Once you know about racism you will never not know about it again.

Once you know about hypocrisy you will never not know about it again.

Once you know about global warming, you will never not know about it again.

I don’t want to keep my children artificially innocent. I have no fantasy that there is a place on this earth where this moment is any easier. Small towns, cities, USA or otherwise – this is a moment in child development that is inevitable, necessary, and breathtaking. I only hope that as these awarenesses come to my kids, they also have tools, community and courage with which to face the very real problems of their world. I hope that they – and I – can be part of the solutions and not exacerbate the problems.

Our reward for all that? A long ride on Batman.

Seems like a good deal to me.

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