Mother’s Day 101: Advice and musings from a “seasoned” mom

When you’re 5 Mother’s Day is a pretty big deal.  You spread toast with jelly, add the card you made in Kindergarten and carry the tray to mom who is “sleeping”  past her normal 5:00 am wake up call and serve her breakfast in bed.  By the time you are 12, you go all commercial and depend on dad or another willing driver to take you to the mall where you expand Hallmark’s coffer and choose a card — which can range from sentimental ” best mom ever” to a farting “how do you put up with me” piece of poetry.  And, if you’re lucky, dad throws in $10. so you can get her some flowers, or a piece of jewelry…In that strange period of time which marks the transition from high school senior to college freshman you see mom as a bit ( ok,a lot ) of embarrassment a good deal of the time.  So Mother’s Day gets the traditional treatment, maybe you and your siblings take her to brunch ( which consists of 45 minutes in line, past the time of your reservation and room temperature bacon served alongside something they call scrambled eggs and a massive hunk of prime rib, or ham….) .  During college Mother’s Day is, well its another Sunday after another “oh my God, the semester is almost over” Saturday night.  You call, and if you can you visit, hoping someone is making bloody Mary’s or mimosas, you know, “hair of the dog…”

Then, you graduate.  You get all melancholy that first year you have your own place, your own bills, your own, well, life.  And Mother’s day rolls around and you make plans to spend the day with mom, and when you get there she comments on your hair, and those jeans and asks if you’ve brushed your teeth or paid your college loan…and you wonder, “What the heck is this lady doing?  Trying to tell me what to do?”  And  you realize there are now two WOMEN in the conversation.  You realize, she doesnt…so you suck it up.

And then, its YOUR first Mother’s Day.  Glory of Glories you have birthed a child!  Trumpets announce the arrival and you sit royally in your throne awaiting the massive parade of guests and gifts.  NOT.  Your husband gets you one of those ” 3 for $10.” bouquets at Acme, the baby pukes all over the one clean blouse that fits those massive breastfeeding boobs and you are exhausted after 3 hours sleep.  Mom calls to ask when you are coming over and you secretly wish you were in Austrailia, with Alexander….

Years come and go and your children repeat the cycle.  You are amazed at how wonderful that jelly toast tastes, how your children chose the most perfect card — Hallmark must have studied my life to write this one —  You treasure the bacon and sing songs while you wait in line.

If you are lucky, and blessed, you will experience Mother’s day as a grandmother.  Yesterday as my husband and I sat on the beach, breathing in the salt and the calm, I pondered this day, my 7th. as a grammy.  I marvel at my daughters and their amazing babies — at their patience and work ethic and the different, yet equally effective lifestyle that they are living and raising their children in.  I treasure the way my son stepped in and raised his Ava, on his own, after her mom walked out on him, and her, at 5 months.   I laugh when I realize that I have had 6 grandchildren in 6 years, and now number 7 is on the way…

My husband sat a triad of gift bags on the counter on Friday.  He and two of the grandsons had gone shopping for my Mother’s Day gift.  Funny man — doesn’t he realize?  My Mother’s Day gifts surround me every day.

Happy Mother’s Day.  Enjoy the ride.

Dad minute…

thought of dad tonight.  sitting on the grass, all my grandchildren in one place, all my kids there….all of us watching Ryan play T ball….all of 5 years old and has an entourage…

but I thought of dad.  how many games, practices, matches and performances did he sit through.  Carrying flowers or snacks, peppermints in his pocket, trying to figure out how to work his camera….happy as can be, hat cocked to one side on his head, watching his grandchild do whatever it was one of my kids was doing at the moment.  Thanks dad.  You werent perfect, but you gave me such quiet guidance in the things grandparents need to do to make their kids, and grandkids, feel special.

Soft edges….

Friday night had a soft edge.  Freed from babysitting we jumped at the chance to sit on a deck at a local pub and nosh on crab dip while throwing back a shot or two of tequila.  The air was sweet with Spring and we watched the sun go down. Our need for sweets took over on the way home and we stopped at an ice cream place, one of the ones where you stand at the window and order.

Standing behind the young dad with the coupon and the 50-something lady with a need for butter pecan, we waited,snuggling a little.  A group approached, 6 or 7, obviously siblings or cousins, related — sharing that banter that only people who love each other very much, who have shared thousands of moments –can.  As they pointed at the sign that says “free ice cream if you’re shorter than this” I had to laugh, and get in the conversation.  The one trying to be “shorter than this” was at least 6’8″ , and I felt the need to tell her that “we could fold you in half and you wouldnt be “shorter than” that.  A great conversation ensued, she was from Atlanta — where they didnt have WaWa, but do have waffle house ( waffle waffle waffle house…), Bobby is her brother, she is staying with him, the little sister ( probably pushing 40 ) was “not like dad, we’re all tall, all 6 of us, but her, shes short”.  More conversation about the sign, and how “little sister” could probably make herself free ice cream sized with  a bit of effort.  Then, I had to ask — “what brings you here to our town?”

The laughing eyes sighed, the smile weakened.  “Our dad, our father passed on Monday, we’re having his services tomorrow, Im going home in a couple days”.  And, as I said I was sorry, as I looked each one of them in the eye and told them I felt their loss, that I had lost my dad 4 years earlier, I felt the edge, soft as it was.  They were a bunch of brothers and sisters, sharing ice cream and laughter, probably as they had done with their dad many times.  They were sad, but they were together, and I couldnt help but feel blessed that I got to see that — the way they returned to familiar things, missing dad.

rethinking….me

Lost my dad 4 years ago today.  4 years.  Not a day goes by where I dont think of him, or something  i want to tell him, or show him, or ask his advice about.

But what is giving me pause tonight is the realization that I didnt remember this was the anniversary of his death until 8 pm this evening.  Sitting on the couch, it hit me, It’s April 7.

No way I should ever be too busy or stressed or self involved to miss the anniversary of my father’s death.  No way I should spend the day involved in a hundred other issues and not take the time to go to his grave.

Im sorry dad.  Sorry that i get self involved.

Time to rethink me a bit.  Or  a lot.  I pride myself on realizing what is important in life, in putting my family first, in praising God, in working a life of service.  But, at what cost.  Time to center ….

you just never know what’s gonna pop up.

Googled a website today that was instrumental in helping ME survive my daughter’s illness, 8 years ago.  My last couple attempts to log in were met with failure so I thought I’d see if I could figure out what was going on. Google sent me to a list of articles and restaurants (?) and, surprisingly, a blog written by the founder of another organization that set me back years during the recovery stage of my daughter’s illness..  Weird.

Long story short, and I think I have written about it on this blog somewhere, I was asked to become a board member of an organization working in the field of my daughters illness.  Asked after MANY long conversations and emails.  The founding Exec. Director was stepping down and I applied, on a whim.  Im one of those people who wants to pay it forward, and since we had been helped by so many when our daughter was struggling, I thought this might be the opportunity to step it up and be a force.  WRONG.  So, anyway, we talked and talked and talked. They ultimately chose another applicant, but called to ask me to take on another role, sort of a face for the organization.  Someone who could speak with parents, the press, the former exec., the new exec. Great gig, right?  WRONG.

My husband and I planned on making the trip to DC for their National Conference, I bought a new suit — took a day off work and drove down.  After signing in, with a wonderful lady who knew my name and seemed excited to see me, I wandered around for about a half hour, introducing myself, unsure of what or where my place was — feeling like I had stumbled into a Sorority Mixer that I wasn’t really invited to.  Finally the new Exec. Director approached and told me “don’t introduce yourself as a board member, the members are getting offended.”  Huh?  “There are people on the board who don’t know about this decision, people who have worked with us for a while, who are unhappy, trying to figure out who you are.”  HUH?  Wouldn’t the business meeting the night before have been a good time to tell them about me or the role you had in mind for me?

Needless to say, this did not end well.  We stayed the day, listened to the self congratulatory speeches about all the organization had accomplished, watched the new Exec. Director be introduced — Couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I remember my husband’s face as he tried to gauge my disappointment, tried to say the right thing.  I had been “removed” , belittled and dismissed by people that  I thought shared my vision, people I wanted to work alongside.  His proclamation?  “You don’t need them, bunch of stuck up women”.  Gotta love him.

Which leads me back to where this post began.  Google led me to  a blog entry, written by the former Exec.  about another website set up to help people suffering from this illness, and their families.  Very similar initiative.  The former Exec. had been ‘removed” from this site for a difference of opinion, belief, whatever.  Years ago.  Apparently her removal was the impetus for starting the new organization.  Apparently she feels the former site was detrimental, archaic and giving bad information.  Maybe, I don’t know. I don’t think so.   The former site had, truly, given me solace and comfort when my daughter was suffering.  I could turn to the site and post my feelings, my fears, my challenges, our triumphs.  I didn’t fixate on  the ads or the promos, didn’t see this organization as promoting themselves as experts, just purveyors of information for you to analyze yourself — I needed moms and dads, brothers and sisters, to listen to, react to and empathize with what we were going through. That is what I got there.  No preaching.  No “our way or the highway”.

So in her blog she ranted about the horrors of the site and demanded it be taken down or revamped.  Sometime in the period of her writing the blog and the time I found the entry, the site had, indeed, been taken  down.  Because of her feelings?  Because of her blog?  Doubtful, but who knows.  On that former site I had shared information with parents.  People had contacted me, comforted me — given me advice and led me to resources that , I believe, helped our family survive.

And yet, the other site couldn’t stand the presence of their existence.  Ironic, right?.  She described her hurt at being removed from the original site, the pain it caused.  I offer up, as a comparison, the pain this group of women caused me when they dismissed me , revoked their offer to work ( for free, obviously) with them.  They missed out on something good.  Im good at this, this advocacy gig.  I am working to better the lives of women, to eliminate racism, to promote health and joy and empowerment.  Your loss, dude.  look in the mirror.

You just never know what’s gonna pop up when you hit “search’

work work work

This retiree, who ,is actually a restartee, is getting tired…. I am, surprisingly, not 22 anymore.  Hell, Im not even 42 anymore….my mind is still sharp, my creativity level is still high, I am stimulated by the challenge and strategy needed to do the job I have taken on, but the hours in the day just dont allow me the time to do what i need to do.

Im slowing down.  damn it.  tasks take longer, organization takes more thought.  And at 6:00 when I get home, i am dog tired.

The drag of it is, I dont have to work.  I have a decent retirement income, we have savings and “plans” that will get us through the “golden years”, but I really really really believe in what we are doing at my job.  My heart is made for service and it gives me joy .  In the 8 1/2 months Ive been on this job we have accomplished great things, built the program, built our reputation, helped people.  So, I dont want to stop, or quit. or even slow down, i just need a few more hours in every day so that I can do my Job and see the grandbabies, go to the mall, meet a friend for lunch, have dinner with my husband, go to church, WP_20140930_043go to the beach…

This night

This night, exactly 8 years ago, was probably the worst night of my life.  worst.  my baby, deeply entrenched in illness, came as close as anyone could ever come, to losing her fight for life.  And she was fighting.  Fighting me, fighting her dad, fighting herself.  But this night, tonight, i feel none of that fear, that all encompassing terror that comes from the inability to make a difference — I feel peace.  Triumphant peace, as for the first time in 8 years I didnt need to see her, to touch her, to hold her, to know that she is all right.  It seems, finally, that we are both healed.

shades of the past

So, I retired 2 years ago this month. went back to work part time the very next day…..then a year later found the perfect fulltime gig == great job, great people, strong mission…..good stuff.

But, yesterday, the job interfered with the life.  Family situation that I needed to deal with, right in the middle of preparation for an important presentation.  Juggle.   Family wins, of course.  So I took care of that, and have the privilege of being able to telecommute, so did some work last night to catch up.

And this morning, it continues.  Needed by family for a few hours.  Supervisor excellent, understands, all good. But, do I ?  Do I want to be in that place where you have to decide whether to spend time with the grandbabies or the office?  Do I want to do 8 hours a day behind a desk or at meetings?  Or do I want to sit in the backyard watching the kids play….

time will tell.  I dont do anything halfway, so it will be a conscious decision, for sure.  Time will tell.