Monday, December 29, 2008

my name is mommy

so...this is rosie.

i don't think i'm one of those very intense moms, who believes her whole life was just on hold until the birth of her child or children. but this kid is, in general, my reason for breathing.

my life before rosie was good...very good, in fact. i was raised in a wonderful family...perhaps the most wonderful on the planet (nothing against yours...i'm just sayin'). i had lots of friends, was involved in many activities, and was, on the whole, a very fulfilled person. particularly after i met tim and we it was we were doing. i had a job i LOVED, nieces i was completely devoted to (and still am), and was up to my hips in volunteer work. i had my own home, and once tim and i married, we bought a new one together. i was a stepmom, which is just one step off the mom path, right? well, not so much...he had this actual mom involved...but i digress. in short, i was doing great. love was all around me and life was good. better than good. blessed.

then, the bun found the oven. for the first few weeks, i was as sick as the proverbial dog, and i was pretty sure this childbirth thing was a big mistake. then, week 13 came, and i never felt better in my life. my hair looked great, my skin glowed, and i had such happiness and energy! the day she was born was a little tricky, but it all worked out okay. she came out skinny, red-haired, and blue-eyed, but i saw them pull her from me, so she was mine alright.

and now she's six ("almost seven!!!"). for a little kid, she's pretty cool. she digs the music i like. she can turn a perfect cartwheel. she L-O-V-E-S school and books, which fills my heart with joy (have i mentioned i'm a special ed teacher?). when she smiles, her nose crinkles up just so. the very hint of a beat makes her wiggle and she sings constantly. she is stubborn and willful, which sometimes makes her a tough six year old to parent, but i'm hoping will serve us well when peer pressure kicks in. she's creative, full of curiosity, and funny. i am think i'm pretty realistic about her weaknesses...she's kinda bossy, doesn't always follow directions, and has issues with anxiety...but i'm proud to be her mom. she fills my life with hope and love.

i cannot bear the thought of her growing up without me, so her very presence makes me want to be healthier, safer, and a better person. i want to eat more vegetables, volunteer more, and start up a neighborhood watch. i want people who would harm children to be given life sentences right off the bat. i want our world to be peaceful and loving...or at least i want her world to be that way.

this mom gig is alright.

Monday, December 22, 2008

good stuff/bad stuff

so, here's the thing about "good" stuff and "bad" stuff...

i think we can all agree that HIV is bad, right? i mean, it's a virus nobody really wants, but a lot of people have. the good thing about having HIV here in the states is that you can get treatment, and it's pretty available and affordable. not so in many other places. doesn't that chap your heinie?? it chaps mine.

anyway...HIV started out as a big, scary, bad thing in my life wayyyy back in 1985. my dear, wonderful, crazy friend, tom tested positive. we were 22 at the time. we had NO idea what it meant...what to do...what not to do. so, we didn't do much. the one medication available then was AZT, and his body couldn't tolerate it. he cleaned up his act (no smoking, limited drinking, eating healthy, sleeping know) and he did fairly well. his goal was to live until we were thirty. i was SERIOUSLY pissed off. it didn't seem right, and there wasn't much going on in the community at the time. people were scared.

then, a friend told tom about a little non-profit in the city (phoenix). he went there for the free legal service...he got his affairs in order, so to speak. i needed to do something, so tom encouraged me to volunteer. he liked the people there, and thought i would too. at the time i started there, in 1991, there were more people talking about HIV...more social services available for those in need. we were serving largely men who identified as gay at the time...and many of the men we drew in (because of our location) were working in the sex trade. needless to say, i learned a LOT. i met some incredible, amazing, strong, loving people. i helped people, and i was helped. a good thing.

in 1993, we noticed a sharp increase in families coming in for service...positive moms, dads, and children. we started monthly parties, so the families could network. then, i'm not sure why (because we were naive idealists, i think), we decided we should start a week in the summer for families with infected/affected members. so we did. it was HARD work, but it was completely glorious. we all lived together for five days in the cool(er) pines of the north. the volunteers took care of the kids. they rode horses, swam, and did art. the parents took classes, got massages, and shared their lives. and through this program, i met tim, to whom i am currently married. a really fabulous thing.

tim was a freaked out dad when he arrived at our little agency. his wife had tested positive for HIV during her pregnancy with their son...and at six months of age, the baby (who is now zach) tested positive too. we invited them to camp. there, they met the families who had gone before them...into the land of blood tests and medicine...and who would come after them. this was a really good thing.

after a few years, tim and his wife went their separate ways, and tim continued to bring zach to camp. tim wanted to volunteer and he did. he helped lots of kids have a great summer. zach has grown up in this community (which, in our area, is very diverse). he does not see non-traditional families as different. he knows what to do to keep himself healthy, and he does it. he has watched peers and close adult friends die, and he doesn't want to. he has seen the quilt, he has talked about his sexuality (yep, he likes girls), and he has helped others learn that he is okay and totally not scary. an amazing thing.

so, now i have this wacky little family...tim, rosie, zach, and me. three negatives and one positive. we live with this bad thing in our home all the time, but it brought us here together, and that's the best thing of all. i also have cherished friends i met through my volunteer work...some fellow volunteers, some clients...and we have wonderful shared lives. a beautiful thing.

in march of 1994, darling, brave, incredible tom lost his fight (we were both 30). i credit him with bringing me here. thanks, tom. i love you and miss you. watch over us. i hope we make you proud.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

energy conservation

so, there's this idea out there (where? not sure) that says if you put energy into something, be it negative or positive, that energy comes back to you. for instance...instead of being "against war" (so your focus is on the war part), it's better to be "for peace", so that your focus is on peace, and that's the energy that comes to you. i really need to get my head wrapped around this way of thinking and being. i don't want all of this negative energy sucking up my life.

i am a step...step-mom, step-wife...and in that role, i find a lot of influences outside my range of control interfering in what i would like to have happening in my life. these influences intrude on my time, my feelings, my thoughts...but most of all, my energy. the influences that have been brought into my life are not what i consider entirely positive. i guess, in reflecting on the idea i wrote about above, that i've allowed these things to focus my energy on things i do not want, instead of things i do want sometimes. so...i have to adjust my flow of energy. that's hard. i'm trying. i spend a lot of time trying. exhausting...

well...that's it. done ranting for now. peace out.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

okay, just one funny thing...i had a hard time finding a photo of me alone. since we've had a digital, my daughter, rosie, has been around, so there are really none of me anymore. she's always in them. or tim (squeeze). or zach (step). funny. i'm also mostly known as "rosie's mom" in "hi rosie's mom!"...instead of "donna", which some people used to call me. other people called me other things. but that's all for another post...

getting started

wow...i have no idea what i'm doing, but here i am doing it. i thought i'd create someplace to mostly just journal/rant/carry on. my friends might be the only ones interested (or maybe not), but that's okay. it's mostly for me.

as i get things up and running, i hope you'll see photos, ideas, dreams, and general crankiness. just me. we'll see!