Posts Tagged ‘daughters’

Mean Girls Redux

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
No Gravatar

I may be 47 years old, but I can still remember the pain of adolescence very, very distinctly. It’s one of the reasons I wasn’t overly eager to have a children. I just wasn’t sure I could live through the drama all over again.Isurvivedthemeangirls-button

Thankfully, I did have children and discovered that surviving life between the ages of 13 and 15 not only made me stronger, it also provided extremely valuable lessons about life.

Take, for example, the lessons  I learned from the mean girls of my youth – the “pretty people” who took great pleasure from doing all they could to promote themselves and their social status while belittling others.

As a friend recently told me, “those mean girls just grow up and become mean women.”

I only partially agreed with her. Some change. Some don’t.

I still have to deal with the ones who didn’t, and my daughter is having to deal with the new crop of mean girls.

Sometimes we have to tolerate them because they have more power than we do. Sometimes we have to confront them because we aren’t the only one being hurt.  And sometimes we simply need to talk about them with our friends.

My daughter and I were both doing that last week.

I was angry about the adult versions of  the mean girls.  My daughter is still trying to understand the mean girls at her middle school.

I was venting to friends about how unbelievably selfish some women can be. My daughter was giggling with friends about how ridiculous burn books are. Yes, the mean girls at her school actually have a burn book in which they write hurtful comments about others.

I was ranting about women who are more concerned about their social status than helping meet the needs of the less fortunate. My daughter was making fun of how the mean girls at her school named their clique, demand special privileges and are  proud that they exclude others.

And that’s when it struck me.

I was wasting my time and energy complaining about women who will probably never change. My daughter wasn’t wasting her emotional energy but was simply viewing the mean girls as characters in a book or play. She finds them entertaining but not really relevant.

Since my daughter has a wide circle of diverse friends, she doesn’t care about a few superficial girls who want to exclude her. She’s much more interested in the people who do include her and how they enrich her life.

My daughter hasn’t yet turned 13, but she has already learned some valuable life lessons – ones that I’m still learning.  I like to think my own experiences have helped guide her, but I also know that she’s teaching me as well.

And she’s a very good educator.

She (Didn’t) Love to Vacuum

Wednesday, November 6, 2013
No Gravatar

A few years ago, my friend Vicki developed the unhealthy habit of reading obituaries of people she never knew.vacuum cleaner

The habit wasn’t unhealthy because of any preoccupation with death. It was unhealthy because she was comparing her life to  portraits that others chose to paint of their recently deceased loved ones.

One particular obituary really bothered her. “I’m afraid,” she said, “that when I die, my obituary will read she loved to vacuum.” That phrase was actually used in an obituary Vicki read.

I couldn’t relate to Vicki’s concern. I will never be accused of loving to vacuum – or clean, cook, sew or make crafts.

Being a domestic goddess isn’t in my nature, and it’s not how I want to spend my time. I’m incredibly fortunate that people who really know me recognize this and try to make appropriate accommodations.

Take, for example, Thanksgiving.

Due to a variety of circumstances, this will be the first year I’ll host the annual family Thanksgiving dinner. And even though my family has agreed my house is the best option, the decision wasn’t without comments such as “We don’t have to cook a traditional meal. Maybe Trina can pick up a prepared meal. And, “We can even just eat Subway. The holiday is really about family and spending time together.”

The hints weren’t lost on me, but for the record, they have nothing to do with my ability to cook. When I have to cook, I do. And, generally, people like what I prepare.

The issue had more to do with my family respecting who I am.

They know I’m starting a new job the week before Thanksgiving, and it will be demanding and time-consuming. They also know that I choose to spend my non-work time doing things that are important to me, and whenever possible, things I enjoy. That doesn’t mean I don’t clean my house or cook, but it does mean I have dust bunnies under my bed, dog nose prints on my windows and hand prints on my light switches.

My house may not be perfect, but it is a reflection of who I am:  someone who loves to ride her bike and walk her dog; someone who loves to volunteer in the community and participate in activities that involve her children; and someone who loves to write and spend time with friends and neighbors.

Simply put,  I love allowing myself to be who I am and not who society sometimes dictates I should be.

That’s not as easy as it sounds. I was raised in a house that was meticulous and spotless, and I used to feel guilty that I was a disappointment to my mother, who took hours teaching me the right way to fold sheets and clean windows.

But I’ve come to realize that my mother, like my friend Vicki, actually likes cleaning, and she enjoyed sharing her skills with me. In turn, she’s realized that my “chaotic life” (a label from one of my former interns) doesn’t mean I am turning my back on how I was raised. Instead, it means the exact opposite.

I am making use of the best lesson my parents taught me: be true to yourself.

And this self will never love to vacuum.

Trick or treat, smell my feet

Monday, October 14, 2013
No Gravatar
Halloween 2008

With my bee and lamb, when times were easier.

Some time ago, students didn’t leave their sheltering elementary schools for the exploration of junior high until seventh grade. Kids were usually 12 years of age by September, learning combinations to lockers and lugging rented instruments to last period band class.  I remember those liberating days at Horace Mann in Kanawha City — a school that looked like a college campus and felt like a new world.

But while I was off being a grown up, I missed the decision to move sixth graders to a scary place called middle school.  And now that I’m a parent of a daughter on the verge of changing schools, this graduation has wiped out everything I thought I knew about advanced childhood. Since she’s going to this scary place called middle school at age 11, I’m going to be forced to loosen my protective grip.  This frightens me.

I’ve spent the last few months of parenting telling Ava “NO” to cell phones, social networking, cosmetics and high heel shoes.  “No, you can’t have that/do that/wear that/say that,” I lecture.  “It’s too soon.”

Yet, what is age appropriate behavior for a tween? For instance…

  • Do middle school girls, age 11, still play with American Girl dolls?
  • Do they still visit the cartoon parks at Walt Disney World?
  • Do they continue to shop at Justice or Crazy 8 (if sizes go up to age 12)?
  • Do they still have to sit in the backseat of a car, or can they call shotgun?
  • Do they ride scooters or bikes? If so, where do they do this? At the park or in the street?

Because of these uncertainties, I’ve changed the wording of my standard question.  Instead of Don’t you think it’s a little early for that? — I find myself asking Don’t you think you’re getting a little old for that?

Meaning, do middle school kids go trick or treating on Halloween? If not, this will be Ava’s last parade around the block.

Aha.  All Hallows’ Eve.  This weekend, I got up before the sun to read the latest issue of Southern Living in peace and quiet. I found myself locked in Allison Glock’s family column.  This month, she writes about preserving modesty in the modern era of Halloween. The horror isn’t in the section of the store dedicated to Walking Dead garb.  The real scare comes in the form of “Twerkin’ Teddy”, “Bad Habit Nun” and “Skeleton Catsuit”.  Yes, these costumes are made in youth sizes.

I cherished Ava’s first Halloween.  She was a baby sunflower from the Anne Geddes collection.  The next year, she was Thumper the rabbit, then a bumblebee, and the following year, she was “JoJo” the circus clown.  When she turned four, she made a darling Tinkerbell, and when she went to kindergarten, she was a fancy cheetah. After that, she became a cupcake, then a Crayola crayon, and then a 1950′s girl. Last fall, she transformed into a WVU cheerleader.

Ava and I were on the same team for a decade.  This season, however, we’re rivals.

It all started when Ava asked if she could dress as a One Direction fan.  Do we even need to buy a costume for that? She presented a wrinkled catalog.

“This, “ Ava announced, pointing to the girl in the picture.  “I want to wear what she has on.”

I leaned down to get a closer look.  BRITISH INVASION?!

Bloody hell no!

The Union Jack dress hit the juvenile model well above the knee.  It was a sleeveless sheath made from the thinnest material the manufacturers could get away with. Shower curtains are constructed of heavier fabric.

“I need the shoes, too,” she stated.  GOGO BOOTS?!

In my wicked little mind, I heard the theme song from Austin Powers.  YEAH, BABY, YEAH!

“No, Ava, no…” I whined.  “Find something else.  Here!” I pointed to another picture.  “How about this cute outfit?”

Ava screamed.  “A WATERMELON FAIRY?”

It’s different! It’s unique!

“All right…then we’ll all dress up,” I suggested.  “Maryn can be Scooby Doo, I’ll dress up as Velma, Daddy can be Fred, and you can be Daphne.”

On second thought, Fred wore an ascot. Mike would choke me with it.

“British, huh?” I pondered.  “The Beatles! We’ll go as the Fab Four! Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band!” I squealed.  “But I get to be Paul.”

Ava was getting tired.

“Please, Mom,” she sighed.  “It’ll be fine.”

I slammed the catalog closed.  “Ok, but if you look even the slightest bit cheap, the costume will be returned.”

Ava shook hands on the terms of our agreement and waited by the mailbox at 4:00 p.m. for the next nine business days.  Unfortunately, the ensemble arrived.  She pulled the dress over her head and immediately reached for her knees.  It was…short. Mini-skirt short. Twiggy stood before me.

“No.  It’s too old for you.”

She protested.  “Please, Mom! Look! I’ll wear a tee-shirt under it.”

That was a slight improvement.

“And tights,” I added.  “With biking shorts on top of the tights.”

She flashed a smiled and pulled on the white boots with the stacked heel.

OH, BEHAVE!

“Can I keep them, Mom?” she begged.  I looked at Ava and then down at Maryn.  My youngest daughter was wearing a witch’s hat and dusting the floor with a broom missing 90% of its bristles.

“What do you think?” I asked Maryn.  She peered into her crystal ball.

“She’s gonna get blisters and then Daddy’s gonna hafta carry her home,” she warned.  What a wise ol’ witch.

“All right.  You can keep them,” I told Ava.  “But you will not wear those boots outside of Halloween.”

“Didn’t you wear these boots when you were a majorette?” Ava asked, marching in place.

I answered too quickly.  “Sure, I did.  But I was in….”

“Junior high?”

 

The Three R’s: Reading, Reporting and Relationships

Monday, June 20, 2011
No Gravatar

Parenting by the book.

I’ve been asked by a number of people how I became a blogger for the Daily Mail.  I was invited, yes, but I also auditioned for the role without realizing it.  Before The Mommyhood, I maintained my own site, “Wilbur & Charlotte“, a children’s literature blog.  I wrote about the themes in children’s books that applied to adult life…most of which covered issues in parenting.  A few friends posted my entries on Facebook (catching the attention of the newspaper’s managing editor), and well, there you have it.  Here I am.

Relationships and connections are what matter most.  As a former law firm marketer, I used to (literally) buy in to full-page, front-page advertisements and pull-out inserts that stamped the credos of  attorneys and their services.  I believed in the big splash — making a mountain out of a molehill — and hoarding every square inch of print real estate to tell the firm’s story. Since that time — nearly 10 years ago — I’ve changed my tune.  It is who you know…or better yet, who seems to know you.  Social media has delivered more business to my small writing and editing shop than any other form of marketing. And, I’m mighty grateful that it’s still free.

Once one blog led to another blog and readership and name recognition expanded, I was contacted about serving on the board of directors of Read Aloud, WV.  My career as a writer, life as a parent, and love of books made me a candidate to help spread the word about the organization, which was created to motivate children to want to read.  Read Aloud, WV encourages parents and other adults to read to children early in life, to build lifetime memories through interaction, and to encourage comprehension skills to strengthen academic and professional success.  During my pre-board involvement research, I discovered a new book that has become my own source of motivation — a book that became my daughters’ gift to their dad for Father’s Day.

The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared, is lovingly written by Alice Ozma (named for two literary characters — “Alice” from Lewis Carroll and “Ozma” from L. Frank Baum). The daughter of a Philadelphia-area elementary school librarian, Ozma and her dad  embarked on a streak of reading-out-loud sessions every night as she was growing up. Originally, the father-daughter literary duo decided on 100 nights straight of reading before bed—a minimum 10 minutes, no excuses, but then it stretched to 1,000.

To keep the streak alive, there were some days when their reading date started at 12:00 midnight and some days when it began at dawn.  They would wake each other from deep sleep to read; to keep their commitment to one another.  “Once started,” Ozma’s father writes, “a reading streak can be a hard thing to stop.  The only thing that stopped us was when she moved away from home…almost nine years after we began.”

Ozma’s father goes on to stress that the greatest gift parents can bestow upon their children is time and undivided attention.  “No one will ever say, no matter how good a parent he or she was, ‘I think I spent too much time with my children when they were young’,” he writes.

Ozma approaches her book as a series of vignettes about her relationship with her father and the life lessons learned from the books he read to her. Some of those titles included in the Streak were: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens,  Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling, Shakespeare’s plays, Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series, and those written by famed children’s author, Judy Blume (Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing).

At the end of The Reading Promise, the author has included a contract that parents and their children can fill out, commiting themselves to a lifetime of reading: out loud for all to hear, silently for no one to hear, in a bedroom or on a couch, at the beach or in the park.  Readers will promise to laugh uncontrollably or to sob inconsolably, to look up unfamiliar words, and most importantly…to lose track of time.

Which I have done.  So, I’m going to stop typing and start reading.  My girls have new books to crack — Ava has a small stack of birthday books to dive into — and Maryn will be reading on her own this time next year.  But, I think I’ll take Mr. Ozma’s advice to read to them as long as I can; to make this the one thing they’ll never outgrow.

The Wonder Years

Tuesday, May 31, 2011
No Gravatar

Darn you, Fred Savage!

On June 10th, my daughter will turn eight years old. Normally, the 8th birthday is treated like the one before it or the one after it, holding back the fanfare of  a Sweet 16.  But Today’s Child has a reason to celebrate year number eight because it marks the moment he or she becomes a tween.

Like a mature woman’s biological clock, a child seems to have a tween instinct. I’ve been seeing hints of this in Ava, as she turns her head when we walk passed Gymboree and Build-A-Bear. But, the part that surprised me the most is what did catch her eye.

Fred Savage.

Last fall, I got so excited when I found a new station, The Hub, on cable. Old cartoons such as Strawberry Shortcake air during the day, and old family favorites such as Happy Days and Family Ties air at night.   One evening, I was late putting the girls to bed and they watched the opening credits of The Wonder Years.  The toothy grins and waving hands of Kevin, Paul and Winnie seemed to capture Ava in The Counter Culture’s tweenage haze.  Her eyes locked on the screen … and then I knew that she had developed her first crush. And it crushed me.

I tried to explain that Fred Savage wasn’t really a 12-year old boy living in the suburbs, but a married man as old as her mother with children of his own. Oh, and he became the voice of Oswald on Nick Jr., for one year.

Then, I had a flashback to the late 1970s when ‘my heart stood still’ each time Shaun Cassidy sang “Da Doo Ron Ron”.  I even slept on a Hardy Boys pillowcase. But I had to have been older, right?  1979…let’s see…that would have made me…six!?

Tween is playfully defined as the age and stage of a girl’s life that is “too old for toys but too young for boys.”  (Thank goodness.)  Tween is formally defined as “a period of life in which boys and girls first discover their own interests. (Oh crap.)

Tween behavior could be illustrated as a young girl who listens to Justin Bieber on XM’s Disney Radio while flipping her hair over the shoulder of a hoodie from Justice.  She uses slang language, like all the time, and she thinks everything is cool! — like a sleepover!

Sleepover?

The tweenage clock has triggered another alarm, because in the next hour, my Ava — soon to be eight — will spend the night at her grandmother’s house across town.  I know, I know…kids do it all the time these days.  Well, not mine. I just left my girls for an overnight getaway with friends this past February, and that was after nearly eight years at home with them.

Eight.  There’s that number again.

Before you post a comment on my blog telling me to Please, Mom, get a grip, I need to explain what these past years have meant to me.

I have loved every second of her.  I mean that — every second.  When she was irritable with colic, feverish with colds, and covered with bug bites; when she was worried about storms, finicky about vegetables, stubborn about bedtime, and tearful about school.  I have loved buying matching dresses for both daughters at Christmas and Easter, and I have loved snapping billboard-sized bows in her blonde hair.  I have loved belting her into car seats and turbo-boosters…and I have loved tucking her in at night.  I have loved knowing that she was right across the hallway — or even better — right across the pillow.

So, I’m grieving a little.  I’m getting all caught up in the romance of babyhood and early childhood, and I’m feeling sentimental about the first years that have gone by far too fast.

I’m not sure how I’m going to handle the changes in life that come with having a tween — or God help me — a teen.  But as Joe Cocker says, I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends.

Wonderboy

Monday, May 30, 2011
No Gravatar

There's something about Mary.

I love my daughters beyond reason, but I also love them differently.  I admit there are times when one child is more popular than the other one, such as on birthdays, sick days and field days.  But what happens when those moments don’t pass?  What causes one child to become your favorite…for life?

I thought about this over the weekend after finding the movie, Ordinary People, on one of the cable channels.  I own up to the fact that I sometimes adore Robert Redford more than my husband, and even though he physically doesn’t star in the film, Redford did direct one of the most important stories about family dysfunction.

If you don’t know Ordinary People, it concerns the disintegration of an upper-middle class family in suburban Illinois. The Jarretts try to return to normal life after the death of one teenage son named Buck, and the attempted suicide of their other son, Conrad (Timothy Hutton). Alienated from his friends and family, Conrad sees a psychiatrist (Judd Hirsch), who helps him deal with the sailing accident in which he survived his older brother.  Buck, more outgoing and more accomplished than Conrad, seemed to come first in everyone’s opinion (particularly his mother’s).

Beth Jarrett, played by Mary Tyler Moore, is an unforgiving perfectionist. She  can’t understand Conrad’s emotional problems (or her own, for that matter). Ashamed of Conrad’s fragile mental state, Beth simply can’t find the same level of love for him as she had for Buck.  In one scene, Conrad walks up to his mother and wraps his arms around her.  Beth hardens under her child’s embrace; her lips drawn into a thin line, her eyes fixed on the air in front of her, her arms glued to her sides.  She wants distance, and in the end, that’s exactly what she gets.

But, back to my house: I love my oldest daughter, Ava, because she’s reserved, thoughtful and kind.  She prefers to read chapter books and write stories of her own, and she’s a true homebody.  She also has an old soul that reminds me of my mother. A throwback.

Maryn, however, is exactly like her father. She likes to go to baseball games and eat hot dogs.  I love it that she dances to Motown hits and knows all the words to “My Girl”.  She’s a bundle of energy and laughter.

Two completely different little people need two different types of motherly attention from me:  Maryn calls for lots of hugs and the exchange of our special handshake.  Ava requires reassuring pep talks and a safe hand to hold. The  confident, free-spirited child is easier to take care of, and I’m grateful for her independence.  I enjoy her.  The emotional, sensitive child is harder to take care of, but I’m thankful for her sincerity.  I understand her.  Yet loving my girls for different qualities doesn’t always feel quite right.

C.T. O’Donnell II, president and CEO of KidsPeace, a charity helping families overcome the crises of growing up, says loving children individually is typical.

“Parents are people,” said O’Donnell in an online article for NYMetro Parents. “People respond differently to behaviors, aptitudes, and physical characteristics. It’s human to be more engaged with those who share your similarities and interests.”

The author went on to explain that stages in life play a role in determining a child and parent’s companionship, and time changes everything. After all, children are “guilty” of favoritism, too.  Which parent does a child run to when he or she is sick? In pain? In trouble?

What’s most important, experts believe, is that favoritism — while normal — is best kept under wraps. “Parents need to be very conscious of how they treat each child,” stated one doctor. “If a parent displays favoritism, it’s hurtful and potentially destructive.”

Ironically, the intense secrecy that destroyed the fictitious Jarrett family is the one rule that real life mothers and fathers need to follow:  Keep your preferential thoughts to yourself.

So now I’ll flip back to my leading man Robert Redford, who looked as handsome in his white Naval uniform in The Way We Were as he did in his white New York Knights uniform in The Natural. What woman would be able to choose between All American Hubbell Gardner and Roy Hobbs, considered “the best there ever was in the game?”

K-K-K-Katie!

 

 

Raising an American Girl: Beyond Molly, Kit and Josephina

Monday, May 16, 2011
No Gravatar

An American Girl grows up.

During my daughter’s 7-year-old check-up, I chatted with our pediatrician about junior high and how times have most certainly changed.

“I dread the day I find a note in Ava’s backpack asking for permission to let the health nurse talk to the girls in her class,” I giggled.

“The health nurse? Middle school? What planet are you from?” she exclaimed.

There’s this little place called Naïve.  Maybe you’ve heard of it?

What do you mean? No health nurse? No starched white uniform, white cap, white tights, and white shoes?  No VHS video? No permission slip? What?

This was the moment that our doctor-family relationship merged into a true friendship between women.  Rather than dosing medical advice, my favorite pediatrician was speaking to me mother-to-mother, and I was desperately grateful for her insight.

“You have to be willing and able to answer her questions about life before someone else tells her about it,” she continued. “And, you will hear things that’ll make your forehead sweat and hands shake.”

I admit — girls aren’t made the way they used to be.  As one father remarked about his son’s new girlfriend(s), “Every one of them looks like they could be on the cover of Maxim.”

If I remember correctly, I learned about the facts of a girl’s life when I was 12 and in the 7th grade.  Society (and the media, technology, and milk producers in my opinion) have now forced us to at least start conversations in the 4th grade — or by the age of nine.

What happens when a nine-year-old’s body physically matures before she’s emotionally mature enough to handle it?  Understand it?

As a writer, I’m paid never to be at a loss for words.  But as a mother, I’m already too shocked to know where or how to begin.  Thankfully, I’ve found help.

American Girl Publishing, Inc., has branched out beyond dolls and accessories and into the book industry, promoting fiction and non-fiction that encourage young girls to “stand tall, reach high and dream big.” While the books are aimed at tweens and teens, they’re quite possibly most beneficial to the mother (or father) tasked with explaining what happens when.

In The Care & Keeping of YOU: The Collection, a boxed set of guides tackle the most intimidating topics of the age — “The Body Book for Girls”, “The Feelings Book,” and two companion journals.  The set also includes a pouch for storing body-care supplies.

Also on bookstore shelves are titles such as What Would You Do? Quizzes for Real Life Problems; Food & You – Eating Right, Being Strong and Feeling Great;  A Smart Girl’s Guide to Understanding Her Family – Feelings, Fighting & Figuring it Out; and A Smart Girl’s Guide to Starting Middle School.

Unlike the early versions of Our Bodies, Ourselves (which embarassed and scared the daylights out of me), the American Girl books are kinder, gentler and much more polite.  As with most everything in life, it’s best to approach the subject in moderation….a type of puberty portion control for parents.  A good friend of mine shared sections of The Care & Keeping of YOU with her daughter, but glued some pages together to keep her from reading more than she needed to know at the time.  Of course, she ripped the pages apart when Mom wasn’t home.

I’ve always choked on the $95 doll pricetag, but my attitude has changed since discovering a new world of American Girl products.  The Care and Keeping of YOU just might be the survival guide we mothers have been looking for all along.

Well, that and a bottle of vodka.

Protect and Defend

Monday, February 14, 2011
No Gravatar

There’s a new TV show airing this Spring on CBS titled “Sh*t My Dad Says.” While the name is a bit shocking, the plot is not.  In fact, I’m frustrated that I didn’t pitch my own sitcom called “Trouble My Mom Started.”

My mother was strict and stern, possibly because she had a baby later in life. Nine months before I arrived, my father was considering retirement; my mother menopause. That wasn’t to be the case for either one.

I grew up with old-fashioned values, which were beneficial until I reached the age of 25.  Just like the “bleeped” title of a modern day television show, I was slowly learning that times had changed.

One of the first indicators that I shouldn’t have listened to my mother occurred in 1998.  I was a participant in Leadership Charleston and invited to tour an army base near Richmond, Virginia, (this in and of itself is worthy of a separate blog).  When I told my mother that we were going to visit the officer’s club, she snapped to attention.

“Oh, honey, that’s white glove! The officer’s club? Why, you’ll have to dress for that!”

So, I did.  After a grueling day of being yelled at by drill sergeants (to give us a dose of military reality), I changed into a cashmere sweater set, an “Hermes” scarf, cuffed trousers, and crocodile loafers.  When we reached the officer’s club (by bus), I noticed a wooden sign on the front of the building.

Nuttin’ Fancy.

The club resembled The Boar’s Nest in “The Dukes of Hazzard.”  Cigarette smoke clouded the ceiling and country music bounced off the walls. I scanned the room, feeling completely out of place, wishing I had asked our guide for clarification before donning my finery. When I excused myself to the latrine (to hide), I passed a female officer who zeroed in on my tasseled shoes and worked her way up to my flushed cheeks.

“Who’s that? The general’s wife?” she sneered.

No, but I was proud to be a sergeant major’s daughter.

As military officers and future business leaders hydrated themselves, people actually paid less attention to how I was dressed.  I escaped with a minimal amount of teasing (that’s not true of my hair), and headed straight for a pay phone to call my mother.

“Mom!” I wailed. “The officer’s club must have changed its dress code, because I was the only one not in sweatpants!”

Throughout my adult life, there were similar rules of mother-daughter engagement. One statute was to call when I arrived at the destination of an out-of-town business meeting (co-workers and supervisors loved this one). Another was to keep abreast of traffic accidents and weather concerns while driving beyond city limits with the help of a professional CB radio and antenna kit (which my mother purchased for my Audi A4).

Since the embarrassment has passed, I can look back on the “Trouble My Mom Started” with gratitude. She loved me more than anyone else in this world, and no one tried harder to keep me safe — beyond childhood.  It was not always an easy form of basic training, but her protective nature served me well… particularly now that I have recruits of my own.