Sunday, April 25, 2010

Happy Birthdays

Today my son turns thirteen.

Nine and a half years ago I brought this tiny preschooler home. He came from an emergency foster care situation, so he pretty much had the clothes on his back. Our foster care system is extremely overburdened, but I don't think most people realize that when you take on a child from the system, you receive nothing but the clothes on the child's back. He had no bed, no carseat, nothing. We had, in a frenzy, collected as much as we could to prepare for him. Garage sales were our best friend.

I couldn't imagine then what he would be like now. That this little child would grow into a handsome, funny young man. That he would have amazing talents in art and sports. That he would be so attached to me. I also never imagined that whatever was going on with him, was more than I could love him out of. I was incredibly naive but wanted more than anything to be a good parent. Foster, kinship, or otherwise. I wanted to do right by him.

Looking at him today, I think I have done my very best. His life will always be challenging. He faces challenges most of us can't imagine, but he hasn't given up. He's courageous, this boy, and I admire him for that.

I don't really have a lot to say about who he is that won't sound contrived and passionately "motherly". What I can say is that I love him more than I could have imagined ten years ago. And thirteen is a wonderful number.

Happy birthday, sweetie. Mom loves you. Always.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rock stars and therapy

As I was looking at this blog today, I realized my last post was the one I posted at the end of my beloved Criminal Intent. Goren and Eames had ridden off into the sunset, somewhere in Mahattan. I hope in that alternative universe they both got good positions and could keep their pensions.

I'm writing this post as an ode to my therapist Scott. I'm home sick today instead of processing my crazy life with him. I'm sure he misses me. I'm also pretty sure he thinks I'm dicking around on him and not really sick. Trust me, Scott. I'm sick this time. You really will rest easier without me around today.

Scott is the rock star of therapists. Trust me, I should know. My mom is a licensed clinical social worker. I went to school for a master's in social work for two years. I've had tons of therapists and tend to be from the school of thought that everyone can get something from therapy if they're teamed with the right person. And I've been teamed with some good ones before. But this guy? Every time I leave he's given me something new to think about. And I'm a pretty analytical person, so it's hard to give me something different to chew on.

But he does it. And he's incredibly respectful of me as well. When we began discussing a topic I really didn't care to discuss, I said so and we backed up and changed direction. Altered the dance steps. Like I told him, it's not as though i don't have a bajillion things we could talk about--take your pick.

At any rate, most of my life I've worked with female therapists. Personal issues from childhood made me more comfortable disclosing my feelings to women. When I was a young teen, I had a male psychologist for awhile and he was terrible. He stared at me for what seemed like forever, every session, and then would say, "Penny for your thoughts." Dude, if you were really giving me all those pennies then my parents would have been bankrolled on your business.

What changed my mind about trying a male therapist again actually had very little to do with me and more to do with my son. During some of his struggles, my son has seen several different therapists. Three of the four were excellent. And two of them were men.

When I started therapy this time, my goals for myself were to get clearer about who I was and what I wanted in my life. I also wanted support from someone who could understand what it was like to live with an attachment-disordered child. I decided that if a man could do those things, I would give it a try.

Enter Scott. Honestly, we're still getting to know each other. Our first meeting would have been awkward if I hadn't been a time bomb about to blow. I think I cried the entire session. I remember him saying one thing to me that stuck, and made me commit to come back. He told me, "I've worked with children who are severely mentally ill. I believe everything you've said to me. "

So I came back. Every time I go I cry, but now I cry for a few minutes instead of forty-five. In a matter of weeks, Scott has helped me to view some of my perceived weaknesses as strengths, helped me give myself permission to be a human being, helped me figure out how to be a better mother. I've never had a therapist that gave me so much good food for thought. This guy is good. This guy is a rock star.

I quit my own program toward a degree in social work because I knew I couldn't do what Scott does. I don't have the skill to delicately pull truths out of people and weave together a healing portrait. In fact, it's been my experience that most people don't have that skill--even therapists. That skill is rare. But when it's done, it's gently and nuanced and feels more like an art--like rearranging delicate pieces of a mosaic to make a new picture. Like an artist. Or arranging chords and keys to make a masterpiece of music.

You know. Like a rock star.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


So it's over.

Yes, all my friends who hate Criminal Intent, you can rest easy now...I will no longer be able to regale you with stories of the insanely clever Bobby Goren or the loyal, intelligent Alex Eames. With a firing, a hug, a kiss, and a resignation, there they go. Out the door.

I found myself wondering today, after the airing of last night's final episode, what it would feel like to be the actors. Knowing that it's finally over. Whether the end came about as a need to move on and engage in other creative ventures (kind of D'Onofrio's claim) or the well-known fact that USA network planned to cut the actors' salaries in half if they stayed, how did it feel to wake up today and know that it was done? Weird, I bet. I just watch, and I feel weird.

Our economy sucks and most people wouldn't be thrilled at the idea of staying in a position where their salary was literally cut in half while their work expectation remained the same. Some people have the ability to walk away from that situation, as in our two actor friends, who are already dipping their creative geniuses into other projects. Not so much for us people in reality. When your household income is less than a third of what it costs to buy a house in your area, you're not likely to be walking away from your job anytime soon.

Regardless of the myriad of opinions to follow the last two episodes, mine is simply this: I'm grateful for what I got. Two episodes of semi-closure for two characters that I enjoyed watching tremendously. How many shows just disappear into TV wasteland without even that? And while part of me curses the writers for leaving the future of both Goren and Eames so open, I'm partly glad. I can forever imagine that somehow Goren finally finds his happy place (yes, OUTSIDE of an asylum) and that Eames does too.

Even cops should be able to find some happiness. Even testy, middle-aged, lonely cops.