Posts Tagged ‘love’

Unforgettable Fun

Wednesday, June 25, 2014
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I made a huge mistake last Friday. I asked my daughter if she wanted to do something fun with me on Saturday.

I had forgotten that, in Kendall’s almost 13-year-old mind, there is only one situation that involves both mom and fun: shopping.

But she didn’t just want to go to the nearby mall where we usually shop. She requested we go to a much larger mall in the D.C. suburbs, and she only wanted to shop in stores that have clothes fashionable enough for nearly 13-year old girls. For the record, these are the exact same stores where she shops at the nearby mall and, from what I could tell, the clothes were exactly the same too.

The day was hard on pocketbook, hard on my feet and hard on my patience.

But I tolerated the shopping trip knowing that the next day we would be having real fun.

We were going hiking.hiking - Copy

But in Kendall’s almost 13-year-old mind, there is absolutely no situation that involves fun and hiking.

At first, I think she forgot that. As we were getting ready to go, she asked what she should wear. (For some reason, she asks me this every day. When I make a suggestion, she rolls her eyes and tells me what she thinks of my suggestion. Then, she wears what she wants and we repeat the routine the next day.)

I advised her to wear a t-shirt and sturdy shoes.  Per usual, she ignored my advice and wore  a newly purchased floral top, matching shoes and new prescription glasses she wears to see long distances. She asked if I liked the look.

This time, I rolled my eyes.

By the time we actually arrived in Harper’s Ferry, she was already complaining that she didn’t want to waste her whole day on a trail.

While my son forged ahead, she was demanding an explanation about the purpose of the hike. When my husband told her that someday she would appreciate it, she scoffed at the idea. IMG_3502When we joined up with a large pack of Boy Scouts at the overlook, she stopped complaining and seemed to enjoy the view and the company.

Then I made the mistake of suggesting we complete the hike along the ridge, which added additional hours to our time  in the woods and on the mountain. While I enjoyed the challenge, nobody else in the family did, especially my daughter. The only solace I could provide was the promise of a hot dog and ice cream at the end of the trail.

The hike, and subsequent meal out, were hard on my pocketbook, hard on my feet and hard on my patience.

But despite my daughter’s complaints, I thoroughly enjoyed the day and the memories we made. Something tells me my daughter will also remember the hike long after she forgets the trip to the mall. I’m also fairly confident that those memories will be good ones.

That’s how life works.

Despite our disagreements and dislikes, stepping outside our comfort zones and testing our endurance always builds our confidence. When we do it with people we love, it’s even more meaningful.

And when we do it together with family, it’s unforgettable.

The Empty Lot

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
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The small house was torn down only a few weeks ago, and already there are few signs it ever existed. Grass and clover cover the empty lotare growing where the foundation once was, and there is no indication of the fence that bordered the small yard.

Now, it is just an empty lot.

Maybe someday the area will be used for  a garden or a new structure, but the space will never be the same again.

The destroyed house shouldn’t even be on my radar. When it was standing, it meant no more to me than a random stop where my dogs sometimes greeted the dog on the other side of the fence. Soon, I won’t even notice the changed landscape during my short, daily commute to work. I will accept the space for what it is: the status quo.

Yet, the destruction of the house has been weighing on my mind like the rapid progress of time, the growing independence of my children and the aging of my parents.

Maybe that’s because its destruction was timed perfectly with my son attending his first real graduation party – not one for a family friend but one for a friend no one else in our family knows.

Dropping him off at the party reminded me of dropping him off for his first day of kindergarten almost eleven years ago.

For months, people had been asking me if I was ready, and I blew off their concerns. I didn’t understand why they thought kindergarten was so significant. Both of my children had been in day care since they were toddlers, and I thought kindergarten was no different from day care.

Only it wasn’t.

On that first day of kindergarten, his teacher didn’t know my name. The school personnel didn’t know my son’s unique issues or about his contagious sense of humor. He was just another little boy who needed to be taken out of his car seat, encouraged to wave goodbye to his mother and walked into his classroom.

And I, his mother, couldn’t even watch him walk away. The woman working the carpool line frantically waved me to move on as the tears trickled down my cheek .

Now, my son’s public school education is quickly coming to a close. This coming school year, he will be a junior, which is considered an upperclassman. He is already talking about colleges and moving out of our house – which is exactly what I want him to do. I have no desire to have a 30 year-old son still living in my basement and depending on me to do his laundry.

And yet, there is a part of me that is sitting in my car watching my 5  year-old son take a teacher’s hand and walk into doors which lead to a world over which I have no control. And I can still feel the tears trickling down my cheek as I realize that my children, like time, grow, change and move on without me.

I can’t control my children’s growth or the rapid flip of the calendar any more than I can control the landscape I pass every day on my way to and from work.

What I can do is appreciate the potential.

Roses might bloom in that now empty lot. Or a  young couple might build a house and start a family there. Or the lot might remain one of few empty green spaces where people can walk their dogs while enjoying fresh air.

But I have no doubt that the space is destined for something meaningful that will make the world a better place.

Just as I believe my children are destined to make a positive  mark on this ever-changing world.  And like the empty lot, their quickly fading childhood needs to be appreciated rather than mourned, celebrated instead of regretted and, most of all, serve as the foundation for something even greater.

 

Lovesick

Wednesday, May 7, 2014
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My daughter, who is in seventh grade, joined Facebook on Saturday.lovesick

On Tuesday, an eighth grade boy was messaging her with professions of love. (No, they didn’t meet on Facebook. They are in show choir together and he apparently “fell in love” with her during auditions .)

Instead of calling or texting her friends, she turned me for advice. I couldn’t have felt more important, so I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I was probably the last person who could help her. No boy was professing his love for me in seventh grade, or eighth grade or even ninth grade, so I didn’t have a frame of reference regarding love before age 13.

Kendall must have figured that out fairly quickly because she came up with her own plan. She told the boy that her parents didn’t allow her to date. He responded that he would explain his intentions to us. (Really? He’s in eighth grade!!!)  Then she said that she was glad they were friends and she didn’t want to lose that. He responded that maybe they could sit together at lunch, and she agreed.

All was right with the world until I sent a Facebook message about the situation to the guy I’m in love with. The guy who happens be my daughter’s father.

He was not happy. In fact, he freaked out. He even told me he’d checked out her Facebook page and found the boy. He then jokingly threatened to send the boy a message about leaving Kendall alone.

I should have known better. This had happened before.

When Kendall was attending her sixth grade orientation, I overheard a boy in her enrichment class tell his dad “she’s really cute.” He subsequently hounded her to “go out.”

She regularly told him she wasn’t allowed, but he was persistent. At least, he was persistent until my husband met him.

Then his interest waned.

I may not entirely understand my husband’s concern with my daughter’s love life because, well, I’m not a guy.

But I can understand his love for his only daughter and his desire to protect her. I also understand he wants exactly what I want for my daughter: a partner who cares more about who she is as person than what she looks like; a partner who recognizes all of her potential and her desire for independence; a partner who celebrates how smart and witty and rebellious she is. And, most of all, a partner who supports her being the person she is rather than the person other people think she should be.

I understand that because my daughter’s father has provided exactly that for me. And I also know without a doubt that is the standard my daughter will set for anyone she dates.

Which is exactly why my husband has absolutely no reason to worry.

The Rules

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
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If nothing else, I am a persistent person.

My husband and my children call me obsessive and tell me that it’s an extremely irritating trait.my rules

I prefer persistent, and being persistent is one of my rules for living.

Someday I hope my family understands. In the meantime, I simply hope they learn to appreciate my rules.

In all honesty, I’ve broken several of them, but the outcome was never good. In fact, those miscalculations only reinforced why the following rules are so important to me:

  1. Always admit when you make a mistake. If people already know what you did, they will respect you for the admission. If they have no idea you made the mistake, they will disregard you or believe you are covering for someone else. Either way, you spend a lot less time and energy owning up than covering up.
  2. Never believe you are smarter than those around you. There are multiple forms of intelligence, and having the facts is simply one form of knowledge. Knowing what to do with the facts is something else entirely.
  3. Make time for yourself every day. That’s not selfish; it’s maintaining your sanity. People who think they have no time for themselves are often the least healthy.
  4. Never make political decisions based on what will serve your personal interests. If you do, you will always be disappointed. Make your decisions based on the Golden Rule. If you consider how we treat each other rather than how you can get what you want, you will always be more satisfied.
  5. Don’t ever use your own life and circumstances as a frame of reference for someone who is struggling. You may have succeeded in difficult times, but your resources and support system can’t be duplicated.
  6. Always remember people in the service industry are individuals with their own stories. Listen to those stories. Not only do you have something to learn, they have something to teach.
  7. If you are counting hours at work, you aren’t in the right place. If you are counting the lives you touched in a positive way, you are.
  8. Remember that you are the only person responsible for your own happiness. External gratification is a simple substitute, but it always fails. Always.
  9. If you are going to talk about others behind their back, be accurate about the facts. We all need to vent. That’s human nature. But if you are more concerned with tarnishing someone’s reputation than with being truthful, your reputation is the one that will suffer most.
  10. Watching television isn’t necessarily a waste of time. Scheduling your life around television is.

These are my rules. They might not apply for everyone, but they work for me. My greatest hope for my children is that they can develop their own list of rules and that they can follow these rules down a road to true happiness.

Love Lessons

Wednesday, February 12, 2014
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This April, I will celebrate the 16th anniversary of becoming a parent. Since I was already in my thirties when that life-changing event occurred, I am now what  my children consider absolutely ancient. In  the world of adolescents, I am clueless, especially regarding matters of the heart.

That’s in their world.

In my world, or at least in my mind, I have enough experience to render my insights about love worthy of attention.heart

I am under no illusions that my children will even acknowledge my wisdom, but I don’t care.  As Valentine’s Day approaches,  I feel obligated to once again share ten lessons I’ve learned about love:

1. You can’t truly love someone else unless you love who you are. And who you are is an imperfect person who makes mistakes, gets mad and will sometimes say and do very stupid things. Love yourself anyone. How you handle your mistakes and flaws is more important than trying to hide them.

2.  Love is only genuine when you are being true to yourself.  Don’t pretend to enjoy something when you don’t. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t compromise. You should. Love requires a great deal of compromise. But compromise doesn’t mean you should pretend to be someone you’re not.  If you do, you’ll wind up being miserable.

3. Love isn’t a competition, and you can’t make someone love you. You will always be loved for being the unique person you are and not because you are prettier, smarter, funnier, sexier or nicer than someone else. Therefore, you should never worry about what others are doing to attract attention or affection. Being yourself is enough.

4.  You don’t fall in love. That indescribable feeling of “falling in love’” is usually a combination of infatuation and physical attraction. Love is something that is grounded in mutual respect, grows slowly and doesn’t necessarily bloom as much as it thrives.

5.  Love isn’t about romance. It’s about experiencing someone at their very worst and realizing that walking away would still be more devastating than dealing with a tough situation.

6. Love is about having passion in your life – but not necessarily in the way you might think. Never invest so much of yourself in a relationship that you don’t have time for everything else you love. Be passionate about a hobby. Be passionate about a cause. Be passionate about your family and friends. And also be passionate about your love.

7. True love means you aren’t worried about what other people think about your relationship. If you spend time worrying about what others are thinking or saying, you likely have concerns yourself. If you’re confident about your relationship and the integrity of your significant other, you won’t care what others say. Always stay in tune with your inner voice and be honest with yourself.

8. Love means saying you’re sorry. Unlike the quote “love means never having to say you’re sorry” made popular in the 1970′s movie “Love Story,” love means that you’re willing to let go of your ego. Admit when you are wrong or when you’ve said or done something hurtful. And when you are in a relationship, you will say and do hurtful things at times.

9.  Don’t expect love to always feel exciting and new. Just like life, love can sometimes be dull and boring and predictable. Relationships are like roller coasters: sometimes they can be difficult and sometimes they can be easy and fun. But being able to work together during the uphill battles is what makes the downhill ride so enjoyable.

10. People do change, and that can affect your relationship.  Our experiences shape who we become. The person who you fell in love with several years ago will probably be different from the person you know today. And you will be different too.  Many times, you can join hands while you grow.  Sometimes, you drop your hands and grow apart. Often, the decision is yours, but sometimes it isn’t.

As I share these lessons, I realize I learned most of them the hard way. But I also realize that those experiences have made life more interesting. Which leads me to one final lesson about love: it doesn’t make life easier, but it does make it more meaningful.

80 Years of Marriage(s)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013
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From the diary of Letha Bates Smith:  ”Nov. 29, 1933 Wed. Finished cleaning at the house this morning. Met Sylvia at 3:25. Morden, she & I met Martin in E. Lansing and had the knot tied at 8:30. Home then to Vilas and Evelyn’s for the nite.”

That’s how my grandmother described the day she married my grandfather, Morden, in the chapel at the People’s Church in East Lansing, Michigan with her sister Sylvia and her brothers Martin and Vilas in attendance.

Exactly 30 years later, my mother married my father in the same chapel. Unlike my grandmother, she didn’t keep a diary, but, just like my grandmother, she had a very practical wedding.

Exactly thirty years after that, at age 26, I was a completely different person than both these women. I was less conservative and more reckless. Yet the three of us would be forever connected not just by blood but by our sensibilities and our belief that a strong marriage, just like a strong woman, is defined by substance not glamour.

This Friday my husband and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, and my parent’s will celebrate their 5oth. If they were still alive, my grandparents would be celebrating their 80th wedding anniversary.

I am under no illusions that my daughter will marry on November 29, 2023. In fact, I hope she won’t as she will only be 22. But I do hope that the  stories from three couples who passed their DNA on to her will serve as a reminder that weddings are not about a fancy show or an exotic honeymoon. They are about two people deciding to move forward together and create memories that can bond families together for generations.

Letha and Morden

My grandparents met on a blind date while they were both students at Michigan State College (later University) during the Great Depression.  My grandmother was one of four children from a farming family in Quincy Michigan who were all  determined to go to college. Despite the odds and through their own perseverance, all four obtained college degrees.

My grandfather, the youngest of seven children, grew up in a family that had an uneven financial history – sometimes they had significant resources and sometimes they didn’t.  My grandfather’s older brother, Carl, had died when he contracted smallpox working in a lab while in medical school. The money from his insurance policy allowed my grandfather to pursue a degree in electrical engineering.

I know little about my grandparents’ college romance.  My grandmother wasn’t a talkative or an emotional woman. But for decades, she documented her life in diaries. The one or two sentence entries she diligently recorded provide some insight into the often hidden thoughts of a woman who, on the surface, was practical to the bone. The grandmother I knew had one dress that she wore to every special occasion (including my wedding) for decades.  But, that didn’t mean she never cared about a new dress.

“Oct. 30, 1932 Sunday. My sweetheart down today. And what did he bring me  - Um does it sparkle? Simply gorgeous delightful! The dear boy.” 

“Nov. 1, 1932 Tuesday Met Sylvia downtown this P.M. spent the nite with me. The ring fixed –  lovely now –  more thrilled than ever. A new dress.”

Even after my grandmother died, we never found picture of her wedding or her wedding dress.  At the time of their marriage, my grandfather was a relatively new employee at Citizens Gas Fuel Company. My grandparents chose to get married the evening before Thanksgiving because my grandfather would have a four-day weekend.

My grandparents’ marriage ended when my grandfather died in 1998, just shy of their 65th wedding anniversary. My grandmother would live for another seven years.

The words in her diary will be passed on to future generations.

Evadna and Ken

Following in the footsteps of her parents and her older brother, my mother attended Michigan State University. After graduation, she moved to Manistee, Michigan, but neither her job nor her location were exotic or adventurous enough for her. She wanted to see the world and submitted an application to join the newly established Peace Corps.

After he graduated from Idaho State University, my dad, a Massachusetts native who had already seen a great deal of the world while in the Navy, also applied to join the Peace Corps.

They were among the first individuals ever selected and were in the third group deployed. Before they left for Chile, my parents attended training at Notre Dame University, where they spent days in Spanish class. My father excelled with his ability to speak the words perfectly in his  loud, booming voice while my mother shot him dirty looks while she struggled.

Her irritation didn’t last long. Before they returned to the United States, my parents were engaged. Instead of a diamond, my mother wore a simple gold band on her right hand that she would transfer to her left hand when she was married. The only diamond I’ve ever seen my mother wear is her mother’s engagement ring, the one that sparkled so brilliantly in 1932.

After returning to the United States, my father, a forester, got a job in Montana. He hadn’t accumulated any leave, but he was allowed to take a few days for Thanksgiving. And so, a wedding the day after Thanksgiving made sense, and my parents spent their honeymoon driving west to their new home.

They’ve spent the rest of their lives sharing stories of their adventures with their children and grandchildren.

Trina and Giles

Ironically, I met my husband on a November night.

On  November 8, 1988,  I was a college intern helping cover election results in the newsroom at West Virginia Public Radio. Giles was reporting for his first night of work. He thought I had an attitude, and I thought I had work to do. No sparks flew, and I didn’t give him a second thought.

But after I graduated from Ohio University, our paths continued to cross and our circle of friends became one in the same. Over time, we eventually ended up together.

Our relationship was nothing like I imagined everlasting love was supposed to be and everything my mother had told me it would be. (She’d told me on multiple occasions that common values  and compromise, not romance, were the key to a successful relationship.)

In the beginning, our schedules were very different, and we accommodated. Our schedules are still very different, and we still accommodate. In the beginning, we watched a lot of Star Trek. Giles still watches a lot of Star Trek, and sometimes our kids even watch with him. And in the beginning, we laughed at my intensity and his lack of it. Now, we work around our differences… and we still laugh a lot.

Giles and I didn’t get engaged out of some romantic notion of marriage. We got engaged because his roommate bought a house, and moving in together just made sense. When we realized the significance of the year, we picked a very significant wedding date.

Unlike the two couples before us, we didn’t marry over Thanksgiving weekend nor did we get married in Michigan, Instead, our ceremony took place the Monday after Thanksgiving in Charleston, WV.  And yes, our wedding was also simple and practical (my mother made my dress), but it was also a bit quirky.  We received gifts of Star Trek dinnerware and had Star Trek action figures on top of our cake.

Our children look at the photographs and simply roll their eyes.

I get that. I used to do a lot of eye rolling as a child, especially in regards to my mother’s stories about being married on her parent’s anniversary. But, like many children, my eye rolls eventually evolved into an appreciation of family history.

Something tells me my children will do the same someday.

 

Seeing the Light

Monday, August 8, 2011
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Does this card look blurry, or is it just me?

During a phone call with one of my clients, I begged him not to fire me anytime soon because I had my eye on a 2012 Cadillac SRX.  He burst out laughing and then asked how old I was.

Well, you know…I’m in that 35-44 age range like most of The Mommyhood readership.

After our conversation, a text appeared on my cell phone reminding me of my standing appointment for hair color. Without giving that much thought, I moved on to writing my blog post for the week, which had to do with being of Advanced Maternal Age.  Still paying little attention to the giant elephant in the room, I went to my mailbox to find my AARP card and membership welcome packet.   I posted a picture of it on Facebook and asked if someone knew something I didn’t…(LOL!).

But a few days later, all of the joking and elbow jabbing seemed to hurt instead of humor.  My eye doctor informed me that I had a cataract.

Earlier in the week, I had walked out of Books-A-Million with my daughter and commented that something was on fire.  “Something’s burning,” I told Maryn.  “The smoke  is terrible.”

Maryn looked at me with a confused face.  “I don’t smell anything,” she replied. Don’t you see it? I prodded.

So, I closed my right eye.  Smoke.

Then, I closed my left eye.  Clear.

Right eye. Smoke.

Left eye.  Clear.

Holy smoke.

I got in the car and dialed my husband’s office.  “I’m seeing a white light,” I stammered.  “Do you see Jesus?!” my joker of a spouse asked.

“I’m serious. Something’s not right.”

I “watched it” over the weekend, blaming it on another migraine or a sinus infection, the possibility of conjunctivitis, too much pool chlorine, possibly pulling something loose when I worked in the yard, and every other culprit that could be fixed with minimal care. But when it didn’t go away, I knew I had to call my eye doctor.

After a round of tests, he sat back and announced that I had “quite a nice sized cataract that requires surgery”.  Immediately, tears filled both eyes.  “I’m a non-smoking, infrequent drinker who eats kale and salmon three times a week.  I don’t go to tanning beds and I wear a hat in the sun. “

This was the genetic kind.  The kind my mother had.

I remembered what she went through 14 years ago, and I  remember how scared she was when she went in for pre-op tests.  “They’re going to stick a needle in my eye,” she said.  It sounded bad back then, but now….it sounds horrible.

When I left the doctor’s office, I didn’t think about the surgery ahead of me, dubbed “a piece of cake that takes 30 minutes at best”, but of the condition I had inherited … and the one that I feared was still to come.

My mother died of cancer in 2000, which might not have happened had she told someone about the lump in her breast.  Instead, she hid her fear and pretended it didn’t exist.  When it spread throughout her body and made its hateful resting place in her brain, we knew that she had been keeping a secret for a long time.  By then, it was over.  She was diagnosed the week of Thanksgiving and she died the week of Christmas.  She was 67.  I was 27.  We were both far too young to lose each other.

There is a touching line in the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, in which Jimmy Stewart’s character is seated at the dinner table with his father, discussing his ambitious goals for the future.

“You were born older, George,” his father announces.

Ditto.  I was born older. Perhaps it was because my parents had me late in life, or perhaps it was because I was an only child who “played” with adults.  I’ve worked in an office setting since I was 16 years old, and I have always had jobs that were about a decade ahead of my time.  Looking back, being so mature now seems so premature. Growing up fast became a characteristic that served me well in college interviews, in managerial interviews and in television interviews. Now that I’m seeing gray hairs and white lights, I wish I had allowed myself to be a kid a while longer. But since I can’t turn back the clock, I can insist that my daughters take their time.

So… I have a cataract.  It’s not the end of the world. I’m not going to die, and I’m not going to go blind (I hope).  But, I’m going to pull on my big girl panties, as a good friend says, and do what needs to be done so I can see my children’s sweet faces.

When it’s all over, I’m buying that Cadillac SRX.  And I want the black wrap-around sunglasses to go with it.  But they will be Chanel.

To Sir Paul, With Love

Monday, August 1, 2011
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Paul McCartney with wife, Linda, whom he called the love of his life. She died in 1998.

After I had my first baby, I forgot a lot of things: where I left my car keys, whether I turned off the iron, how long the roast had been in the oven, and how to be a wife.

My time — all of it — was spent doing normal newborn things: feedings every two hours, diapers every few minutes, load after load of laundry, rocking and swaddling, and on occasion, sleeping.  I was attentive and doting and every bit obsessed with my new daughter, and I was also ignoring the “other” person in the house.  The one who was there first.

My husband, Mike, was equally distracted, sharing every responsibility that came with being a parent, including managing the sale of our home and the purchase of another, all while working 10+ hour days designing construction equipment for a manufacturing company.  Our relationship changed the second our daughter was born and we became busy in different ways…and in time…different people.

I was so wrapped up in being a perfect parent that I became a rather imperfect partner.  I took motherhood seriously, mainly because I didn’t know what I was doing and had no one to ask or show me how to care for a baby.  Almost immediately, I lost my sense of humor.  Worse than any of the above mentioned behaviors, I also forgot how to talk to Mike as an adult.  After a year or so of motherhood, I realized that I didn’t talk to him, but at him.  Mike didn’t say much about my new personality (well, not too much), and he didn’t have to.  I could hear it in my own voice.

During Ava’s toddlerhood, our household grew by two more people:  We had moved my father into our home (he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease), and then I became pregnant with our second baby.  With new duties in the mix, we were even less of a couple and more of a couple of caregivers.  If we wanted a break, there wasn’t one to be had.

And that was the point:  I couldn’t leave the house.  I was so tied down between children, a sick parent, a handful of pets and freelance projects that I didn’t see the light of day.  I wasn’t unhappy, believe it or not, but I was spoken for…everyone needed me.  Yet, I couldn’t see that my marriage did, too.

Let me be clear: We didn’t have marital problems, but we certainly should have.  I learned during this era that I was married to the most patient, pleasant man ever created.  No conversation?  No privacy?  No downtime?  No vacation?  No breaks? No problem.

After my dad passed away, I gained some freedom to do the things I once couldn’t. But being at home also meant that I had to train myself to go out again…to loosen my grip and trust others to keep the home fires burning.  I had to take baby steps of my own.  Mike and I would race through Target for a half-hour or so. Then to dinner.  Then to dinner AND a movie.  Then to a local baseball game (four innings, max!), and then to the 7th inning stretch…and then the whole game!  Finally, the big one:  A trip to Cincinnati to see the Reds play the Red Sox.

It was a gigantic step for me to leave the girls with a babysitter in a hotel room in Kentucky (yes, I know…Kentucky and Ohio are a bridge apart — you can throw a rock at both welcome/come back soon signs).  I went, but it took some prodding from authors of magazine articles who outlined why marriages struggle in the first years of parenting.  When one spouse is more focused on the children than his/her partner, the other person becomes focused on different things (and people), too.  Separate lives often become separate residences.

I vowed never to find myself in those ‘unfortunate’ statistics. After all, this was the guy whom I had a crush on since I was a teenager.  He was as close to a Mickey Mantle lookalike as I could have found in this world, and about as ornery. A blonde-headed-blue-eyed-baseball-loving-boy with a smile brighter than the lights at Yankee Stadium, Mike was still the kindest and most respectful man I knew. He deserved a lot more from me.

Now in our 20th year of togetherness (married for 14), we found ourselves back in Cincinnati when the Reds played New York (and we took our girls!). While standing in line to get into the ballpark, I looked up at a banner advertising Paul McCartney’s “On the Run” concert slated for August 4th.  Mike appreciates old music more than baseball, and I knew he’d love to see a Beatle in person.  I headed for the box office, where I discovered that a few seats remained.  I returned to the line and handed him an envelope.

“You got tickets?” he exclaimed.

“I bought ‘em. We’re closer to John Lennon than Paul McCartney, but we’ll be there.”

Mike looked inside.  “Only two tickets?” he asked.

Yes, just two.  Just us.  It’s a date.

Later that night, we made plans for our weekend in August, recognizing that not many people can say they’ve seen even one of the Fab Four.  And, we might not have a chance like this again.  That’s true for a lot of things.  We have to enjoy every moment, however and whenever we can get them.

“Hey, maybe before the game we can get a bite to eat somewhere downtown, then head over to the concert, and then get a drink afterward,” he suggested. And the rest of the weekend? Who knows what we’ll get into.  I’m just going to let it be.

A mommy I want to be like

Wednesday, May 4, 2011
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I was recently asked if I am like my mother. There is an easy answer to that: I wish!

My mother is confident, organized, hard-working, tall…

I’m more rushed, less organized, much less put together, a lowly 5’8.

By the time she was 24, my mother was married, had me (the oldest of four) and had opened her own business. That business was our family’s mainstay over the next 20 years.

When I was 24…  *grasshoppers chirping*

My mother offers pretty big shoes to fill — literally, she has huge feet — but also figuratively. She raised three children on her own when my dad passed away. She later remarried and added another kiddo to the crew. And she did it all with perfect lipstick. Nothing frazzles her.

If times were tough, and I’m sure they were, we never knew. She somehow juggled kids in band, ball and her own business (in later years, two of them). I tried to be a working mother for one year and had to quit before I completely disintegrated.

I would like to think that since she is the mother that taught me everything I know, I’m something like her. In some ways I think I am. She’s pretty level-headed, I’m the same. There’s not a lot that shakes either of us. Family means a lot to her. Me too! Her generosity is immeasurable. I’m trying to work on that area.

But we’re also very different. Neither of us wrong, just different. I hold onto things, she gets rid of more stuff than Goodwill can hold. I am patient to a fault, she is stricter. She listens to country, but I’m working on that! There might be an Adele CD in her Mother’s Day stocking. (Mom, if you’re reading, make a Mother’s Day stocking.)

I feel bad sometimes because I really can’t come close to measuring up to her. I will never be as creative as she is. I’ll never be able to build a deck like she can do. Let me tell you, the lady knows how to operate a saw. I’ll never be able to keep my house as clean as she can keep hers. But she gives me a great pinnacle to reach.

She also has 25+ years of experience in the mommyhood. That’s a lifetime of wisdom away from where I am. I am so thankful to have her as a guide, the most amazing reference material anyone could need.

“Mom, do you think he’s too big? Too small?”

“Mom, I just found the grossest thing in his diaper, look and tell me what it is.”

“Mom, he keeps telling me no. What do I do?”

As I grow into my mommy shoes, I have faith that my mancub wont be a total mess. Afterall, my mom taught me everything I know and I turned out OK, I think…

I love you Mom!

And the Oscar Goes to… Mom

Monday, March 7, 2011
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Steel Magnolias sharing Terms of Endearment: Shirley MacLaine and Sally Field

Last weekend, I watched the Academy Awards from the family room couch, swaddled in a Snuggie. I spent the evening criticizing beautiful, talented women in toddler-size dresses, but I never anticipated that Anne Hathaway’s awkward “Hi, Mom!” moment would help to create this blog.

There are only two categories specifically earmarked to honor women – Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. While women may write, produce and/or direct, they aren’t heralded for their female contributions to the entire film in any other way.  Therefore, I will do so by honoring the Best Mothers in the Movies:

10. Barbara Hershey – Beaches

“I don’t want Victoria to see me here.”

I hate to begin a top ten list with a hospital deathbed scene, but a mother’s greatest responsibility is to protect her child. Of course, it helps to have Bette Midler as the wind beneath your wings.

9. Diane Keaton – Father of the Bride

 “Will you stop acting like a lunatic father and go out and talk to her before she runs out that door, marries this kid and we never see her again?”

What’s more complicated that a mother-daughter relationship? Being daddy’s little girl. Thankfully, Nina Banks comes to her daughter’s rescue as she attempts to wiggle loose of her father’s overprotective grip.

8. Olympia Dukakis – Moonstruck

“When you love them, they drive you crazy because they know they can.”

Nothing compares to the wisdom of an old-world mother who dishes out a healthy portion of tough love with a side of manicotti.  Rose Castorini always knows when her daughter’s life is “going down the toilet.” And she tells her so.

 

7. Diane Keaton – Baby Boom

“And your sister’s name in Wiesbaden – in case of an emergency – and her prison record if any…”

Corporate workaholic J.C. Wiatt has no trouble hiring new graduates to work on entry-level marketing accounts, but she doesn’t possess the same confidence when searching for a nanny to care for 18-month-old Elizabeth.

6. Katharine Hepburn – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

“When she fights you, I’m going to be on her side.”

In parenting, it helps if mothers and fathers are on the same page when it comes to handing down an important decision.  Yet Christina Drayton is willing to sacrifice her own marital bliss to make sure her daughter lives happily ever after.

5. Katharine Hepburn – On Golden Pond

“Don’t you think that everyone looks back on their childhood with a certain amount of bitterness and regret?”

Once again, leave it to Katharine Hepburn to be the voice of reason. Fed up with her adult daughter’s sulking, she insists that Jane Fonda’s character get on with life before it passes her by (in a motorboat).

4. Sally Field – Forrest Gump

“Remember what I told you, Forrest. You’re no different than anybody else.”

Mama always had a way of explaining things so Forrest could understand them, and she sure did care about his education! Always reassuring, Mrs. Gump challenged everyone to define “normalcy” in his or her own unique way.

 

3. Sally Field – Steel Magnolias

“I was there when that wonderful creature drifted into my life and I was there when she drifted out. It was the most precious moment of my life.”

No child has been blessed with a better mother. Devoted to Shelby’s special needs, M’Lynn Eatenton would have jogged all the way to Texas and back for her daughter. Luckily, she had the support of my next honoree to provide laughter through tears.

2. Shirley MacLaine – Terms of Endearment

“GIVE HER THE SHOT!”

If Ouiser Boudreaux doesn’t scare the daylights out of you, then Aurora Greenway will.  MacLaine proves that even the coldest mothers have the warmest souls and the loudest voices, particularly when their child is in pain.

1. Robin Williams – Mrs. Doubtfire

“I do have one rule: they’ll only eat good, nutritious food with me. And if there’s any dispute, it’s either good, wholesome food or empty tummies.”

Yes, a cross-dressing housekeeper wins the top prize for being the most outstanding parent. Bound (literally speaking) and determined to spend time with his children after a bitter divorce, Euphegenia Doubtfire kept the home fires burning.

The ‘please wrap up your blog’ music is playing, so I will conclude my tribute by saying, “Thanks, Mom. We owe it all to you.”