Wanting to be free
Wanting to be me
Trying to make people see
And accept the real me
Some people think my voice is too loud
And that my mannerisms strike them as being odd
This perception of me by others keeps me feeling blue
But there are plenty of struggles in life that I must get through
I am determined to show my critics my true personality
Hoping that people move away from their narrow-minded mentalities
I want them to know that I am a bright young man
Who is willing to take on as many challenges in life as I can
December 6th, 2013 | No Comments
And so it begins. Again. The stress/anxiety of playing catch-up during the holiday season. Not sure how I got so behind this time. I mean it’s not like I haven’t had ample time to prepare, since retailers started the holiday season a tad earlier this year – July 5. In fact, I think they’ve even changed the name of that popular holiday Christmas preparation song – The 120 Days of Christmas.
This was going to be it – my YOP (Year of Preparation). I was even going to accomplish something I haven’t done since my girls were young – a holiday Christmas card. I would shoot it on Thanksgiving, when my oldest was home from college. How hard could that be? Clearly not as difficult as it was when my girls were little and wouldn’t stay put, right?
At least that’s what I thought, until I realized they don’t exactly get along.
“That’s great girls, but now let’s take a photo of you two without your hands on each other’s throats.”
What’s worse is that I didn’t even have my parents to help me this year. My mother passed away two years ago and my father “retired” from holiday photos when my kids were young.
“Gina, don’t ask me to come with you to take holiday pictures again. I don’t need that heavy stress at my age.”
Truthfully, I can’t really rule out that my mother’s heart condition was not caused by my kids’ holiday photo stress. (Sorry, Heavenly Mother.)
On to Another Imperfect Plan…
Well, if I couldn’t do the card, at least I could accomplish something else on my holiday preparation list – putting up holiday decorations early. Of course, I should have known that my busy schedule would foil that plan.
“Mom, can we put up the decorations tonight?”
“I can’t, Honey. Tonight the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills are on.”
“How about tomorrow night?”
“Nope. Can’t do it. I’ve got two episodes of Shah’s of Sunset to catch up on.”
Of course, my “helpful” kids (at least when there’s something in it for them) offered to pitch in.
“If you give me a $100 bucks, Mom. I’ll do it.”
Honestly, I prefer to decorate without them. Let’s just say our decorating styles are not in sync, especially when it comes to Christmas tree lights.
“Girls no offense, but I don’t like my Christmas tree to look like the Palms casino. I like white lights. They’re very elegant on the tree.”
“But Mom, that’s so boring.”
One year, I compromised and bought a fake tree that came with a remote control. With the click of a button, I could change the lights from tacky to elegant. I had quite the system down.
“Mommy, why did you change the colored lights when I went potty?
Well, at least until my husband seized control of that clicker, too.
“Awww, come on Gene, we like the flashing lights.”
While I may be a holiday procrastinator, my 14-year-old daughter doesn’t take after me. I was quite impressed when on August 30, she handed me her Christmas list, stating quite proudly, “Mom, I only have two things on my list.”
“Em, I am so touched; you’ve finally realized the true meaning of Christmas,” I proudly responded, before I realized that one of the items on her list was a Lexus. (Kudos to Lexus on an effective advertising campaign, since my daughter doesn’t even know how to drive.)
But despite my slow start again, I know that on December 24, I’ll have my elegant white-lighted tree up with ample presents underneath. I also know that I’ll take it down… eventually… sometime…when I get around to it.
October 23rd, 2013 | No Comments
September 29th, 2013 | No Comments
September 18th, 2013 | No Comments
September 16th, 2013 | No Comments
Tired of listening to bad news in Team Meetings? Well now you can let the IEP Team know how your feeling without even speaking — with this colorful sign. (Available at Target in the Halloween section.)
September 16th, 2013 | No Comments
Young Jessica crying her eyes out when her mother told her she had to go to social skills group. “I don’t wanna go. I don’t like people.”
September 5th, 2013 | No Comments
Gina just happened to come upon some Facebook pictures of her daughter Katie at college (not that she was sketching on her daughter or anything). Katie looked so happy. Meanwhile back at G’s homestead…
September 3rd, 2013 | No Comments
Silly, silly me. I thought letting go of my daughter to attend kindergarten was hard. Back then, I could at least follow the bus, bribe a lunch lady, and rummage through her Scooby Doo backpack to find out how she was doing. (Hey desperate mothers call for desperate things.)
That was a piece of Little Debbie Cloud Cake compared to the letting go I had to do this past Labor Day Weekend. I’m not talking about letting go of my white pants and shoes for the season, though that was pretty tough. This was the hardest letting go I’ve ever had to do — I had to let my special daughter begin her life without me at college.
I’ll admit, there was a time, a very long time, when I thought that day would never come. At least that’s what the experts told me when she was first diagnosed with her disability.
“Mrs. Gallagher, she probably won’t be able to graduate high school, let alone go to college.”
“She’ll be living with you for the rest of your life.”
Of course, I made the mistake I have been so guilty of making for most of her young life; I underestimated her will. As a kid who has always wanted to “be like everybody else,” she desperately wanted to live away at college, and worked diligently toward her goal.
I’ll admit, I was scared to death at the thought of her taking on this challenge, recalling my own college experience and the struggles I had without a disability.
What if she doesn’t make friends?
What if she gets a terrible roommate?
What if she gets too homesick?
I even had painful flashbacks of my move-in day panic attack when my parents left me behind.
“Mom and Dad, don’t leave me!”
“Gina, please let go of the bumper! It’s dangerous!”
I was so homesick my first few weeks that I expected the worst for Katie. I wondered, If I had struggles without learning and social issues, how much worse would she struggle?
I prepared myself for the sobbing phone calls that I made to my parents. (“Mom and Dad I want to come home. I hate it here!”). The poor things never even had caller ID to screen those desperate calls.
But once again, I underestimated my daughter’s strength and will.
After I helped set up her room, I turned to say goodbye. She gave me a hug, a sweet smile, and said, “Bye Mom. I love you.” Then I watched her leave with her roommate and the other students to attend a dorm meeting.
After trying to keep my fears and emotions in check for Katie, I got in the car and sobbed on the way home. When I finally arrived home, I was ten pounds thinner and no longer retaining water. I found my husband, who had gone home ahead of me in a separate car, sitting on his chair in the dark.
“Mike, are you OK?”
“Yeah,” he said, “I’m just sad that she’s not here. Are you sad?”
I replied, “Yes. I’m so sad. I’m also happy, proud, worried, scared, ecstatic, hopeful, and empty. Do you know if they make a med for that?”
What was most difficult was realizing that for the first time, we would no longer know what our daughter was doing or how she was feeling. Was she scared? Sad? Lonely?
We had to force ourselves to live with that and to let her contact us when she was ready. The first evening, we didn’t hear anything from her. As highly experienced recipients of frequent bad news calls and texts from our children and their schools, we knew that this was a positive sign.
The next morning, my husband was climbing the walls. “Gene, I’m sketching on her on Facebook. I feel like a stalker. I’m dying to know how she is doing.”
“I know Mike, but you can’t do that. You’ve got to give her space. Besides, I’m Googling Nanny Cams to see if we can put one in her dorm room.”
Throughout the day, we anxiously awaited for her to contact us. Surprisingly my husband was the most anxious, “Mike, I don’t think it’s a good idea to take your phone into the shower with you.”
Around 9:00 p.m., we both finally received texts from her. She wrote, “Hi Mom and Dad. I love college. I’m making friends and I’m not coming home this weekend.”
We could not have been more thrilled… or relieved…or proud….or happy… or sad. And it made us realize that it was time for us to grow up a bit and let go. After all, it wasn’t like we didn’t have another kid — we still had her 14-year-old sister Emily to nurture, though she didn’t seem to be thrilled at that prospect.
“Dad, stop following me around the house! And Mom, get your nose out of my backpack. You guys are so sketchy!”
August 30th, 2013 | No Comments
She’s been called many things. “Ma,” “Mommy,” “Mom,” “Mum,” “Mama.” Probably even “crazy” by unsuspecting motorists. A Boston television station once referred to her as “The Mom with the Moves.” She’s Tracy Moutafis, mother of two who’s taken the country and the Internet by storm with her unique bus stop boogie, an annual dance ritual in celebration of her children going back to school. We had the privilege of interviewing this dazzling dancing dynamo to learn what moves her to take part in this heralded annual tradition.
SU: So Tracy, what inspires you to dance on the streets?
TM: Well, I love my children dearly, but let’s face it, by the end of the summer, I am ready for them to go back to school and they are ready to get away from me. Five years ago, I decided to show my excitement by breaking out in dance when the bus came. I’ve done it every school year since then.
SU: You’ve gotten quite a bit of publicity. In fact, we’re surprised you haven’t been a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance in the Streets? How did a Mom like you end up in a place like this?
TM: Well, it started off that I posted the video on Facebook for my friends to see. They thought it was hysterical. The next thing I know, I’m getting a call from the local newspaper, which wanted to post the video. It took off from there. I’ve been on Boston TV, Good Morning America, and I was on Skype for Anderson Cooper’s show. This year, I got a call from Fox and Friends.
SU: You have quite the moves, did you have any formal dance training say at Arthur Murray Studios? Or were you ever on Solid Gold?
TM: I don’t like to brag, but I did dance for several years as a kid at Miss Maria’s Dance Studio in Watertown, MA where I grew up. I also danced at high school dances.
SU: Some of our loyal followers are dying to ask you questions. For example, a Mom would like to know if you’ve ever fallen in a crosswalk.
TM: Knock on wood, I’ve never fallen in the crosswalk or been hit by the bus.
SU: Another mother would like to know why in this year’s video, you didn’t dance when your kids got on the bus to increase the embarrassment factor?
TM: Well, in the past I’ve done that. But my 12-year-old, who started middle school, was a little nervous about it. I made a deal with him that I wouldn’t do it until he was on the bus. I love my son and had to keep my promise.
SU: How do your children and husband feel about your display of excitement?
TM: They think it’s really funny. My 10-year-old loves it. I was going to dance for his bus, but then thought about it and didn’t want to overexpose myself.
SU: I see, so you don’t want to be like the Kardashian’s of bus stop boogiers?
TM: Yes, that’s right.
SU: How have your videos been received?
TM: A lot of people think they are hysterical. Others, have been so critical saying that I don’t love my children. One person even told me to go to a gym and get dance lessons.
SU: Well, personally, we are huge fans of your work. In fact, just the other day we tried copying your moves in the mirror. We weren’t successful until we served wine. Then, we were break dancing. What would you like to say to those critical people?
TM: I would tell them to lighten up. I love my kids more than anything. But I’m human, too and there are times when I just want to go to the bathroom without someone screaming “Mom!”
SU: What would someone be surprised to know about you besides the fact that you studied at Miss Maria’s?
TM: People don’t realize that my oldest son has autism. He has his struggles so when he gets on the bus it’s something to celebrate.
SU: In the past you’ve danced to Celebration and Beat It? What made you choose this year’s song, Bye Bye Bye?
TM: Well, I figured with the resurgence of ‘N Sync, it was timely.
SU: Yes, it was. We’re glad you went that route instead of the Miley Cyrus route. Where can we see more of your great work?
TM: You can watch all my videos on Youtube.com.
Tell us would you like to dance with the Bus Stop Boogier?