Watch Me.

Today I was hard on myself. A project I was doing at work had some technical glitches and didn’t go as smoothly as I hoped (although I got it done. My daughter was a bit upset by an interaction with a teacher in the car line when I picked her up. I had to race out to the orthodontist and stores after work. Dinner was late and I ended up having my son help me with it. I had a bunch of jobs to do like ordering school pictures, trying to gather items for the Closet project. I’m tired. Tired physically and tired of garbage humans who are just shitty people. I looked around at the chaos in my house and felt overwhelmed. I started getting frustrated with myself that I couldn’t get it all done and do more around the house.

Then I took a deep breath. And another. I sat back and watched a mental replay of what I had done all day.

I began to realize that I was too busy giving myself a hard time and wasn’t acknowledging the successes I had today. Some were small, but they were wins as far as I was concerned.

That project? Well, I got it done, and learned a whole new software in the process. I got another big project on my dreaded to do list accomplished as well.

I worked a full day and got a lot done.

I coordinated kids getting home.

I turned my car around in the car line and went to speak to the teacher who had upset my daughter. It was a misunderstanding, and I ended up really liking her and sorting it all out where everyone was happy.

My daughter, who has shed many a tear at the orthodontists, looked at me when I told her “you’re a big girl now and you can communicate what you feel needs correcting and you can rock this” and did just that. She handled it like a boss and walked out proud without a single tear being shed.

I got the items I needed from the store.

I ordered school pictures.

I was able to coordinate getting the shelving units I need for the Closet Project with the help of a friend, for free, donated by her neighbor. This is HUGE because currently everything is in random bags, boxes and bins making it near impossible to find what you need. I also found clothing racks for cheap and purchased a couple. I’m excited to now get it set up.

I coordinated a few more donations of clothing and toiletries.

I took a moment to ponder how grateful I am for the internet and the volume of things I can accomplish by using it.

I scrubbed the tub and toilet quick.

I delegated some jobs to my son, who was a rock star and cooked dinner.

I got a load of laundry done.

I did a load of dishes.

I fed all the pets.

I saw a woman say something vile and called her out as the asshole she was.

I saw a lurker lurking, sighed, and wrote this post anyway.

I did some good deeds.

I made calls I had to make and sent emails I needed to send.

I gave out some compliments. I laid out some truths.

I took out my esthetician’s equipment and helped my son with a breakout.

I gave goodnight hugs and kisses. I sent two happy kids to bed.

In other words, I did a LOT. I did some small things, and I did some big things. I did lots of things and I handled my business. So my house is messy. I work full time, run a major project to help kids, raise two kids, and manage a household often on my own since my husband works different hours. I kicked some ass today! I’m proud of myself and my kids told me they are proud of me too. I often find myself being so hard on me, never taking the time to just stop, breath, and recognize all the things I DID accomplish during the day. Sometimes I need to step outside of myself and watch all the things I have accomplished, and all the things I did get done.

Are you watching me? Because I’m watching me, and I kicked some ass today!

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Astraphobia and “The Incident”.

I remember the days when I would love to curl up in bed and watch the thunder and lightening outside my window. I loved the way the sky would light up in such a way I could see the silhouette of the tree branches blowing in the wind. I found it relaxing. Fast forward to my late teens and that feeling changed into fear. Now, the fear is real, but it stemmed from what is now a pretty funny story. Y’all know I love a good self deprecating story, so here we go. After all, if you can’t laugh at yourself, how can you laugh at other folks (easily is the answer, btw).

Now, I can’t remember if I was living with my parents full time when this happened, or whether I was home from college. I know I was in my room at my parent’s house at the time, which we jokingly refer to as “the Big House”. The Big House was so named because it was a pretty big place that was, in all honesty, far bigger than the 3 of us in our little family needed, but my parents chose it when we moved to Virginia so we’d have plenty of space for people to visit. My room had it’s own bathroom, which I loved. (What I loved less after we sold it was finding out there were walking paths behind the house which I never knew about. Since the house backed up to protected forest land, I never worried about shutting the shades. I’m sure I gave some walkers a scary sight as I shuffled around my room in my underwear.) The house itself sat on a cul de sac in a nice neighborhood.

Anywho, it was the middle of the night, and I awoke having to use the bathroom. I shuffled into the bathroom, and turned on the low light. I sat down to pee, and was sort of leaning with my chin in my hand because I was groggy and half asleep. I was faintly aware of what sounded like rain outside the window that was right behind the toilet. (Why would you put the toilet right in front of a window?) but the shade was down so I couldn’t see anything. Suddenly there was a bang. Not a little bang, might you, but a BANG that would have scared the crap out of me, except for the fact that I felt something hit the back of my head with such force it knocked me out for a second. I opened my eyes and realized I was laying on the floor.

Now, I’m not sure if it was being half asleep, being clocked in the head, or what, but I pulled up my pjs and began to scream…..that I had been shot. My parents, awokened from a sound sleep came running from down the other end of the hall, terrified. They didn’t know what had happened, only that was screaming I had gotten shot in the back of the head. With no blood, no physical signs of being shot, they weren’t quite sure what had happened, and tried to calm me down, thinking perhaps I had a nightmare. I noted my radio had turned on by itself. my clock was flashing. My dad went in the bathroom and found the cause of my injury. It turns out that lightning had hit the house and traveled through the duct work. It hit my bathroom exhaust fan and blasted the cover off, which smacked me in the back of the head, knocking me out,

So there’s that.

Aren’t you glad you kept reading to see my embarrassing story lead to that?

The cover itself and a black flash of a soot mark on it.

My awkwardness holds no bounds, I tell you.

Flash forward several years, and lightning hit the house again. This time, it hit while my mom was home alone, aside from an electrician. My parents had decided to renovate and sell the house so they could retire, travel, and be closer to me. Unfortunately, as soon as they started the demo on the master bedroom and kitchen, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. My father wanted to halt everything, but my mother persuaded him to keep going with the reno, thinking he may want to sell the house anyway after she died. With their room being under construction, and me having moved out, she was staying in my old room. An electrician was down in the basement working on the panels and during the storm, he saw a fireball on the side where the chimney was. Panicked, he ran upstairs and threw the door open to the room where my mom was. She calmly got up and went to see what had happened, checking on the master bedroom. There, a giant mirror on the wall where the chimney was had exploded. Glass was everywhere, and the frame was smoldering. She put it out. She looked out the window and the deck on both sides of the chimney was smashed up, with bricks lying everywhere. The lightning had blown about 3-4 feet off the chimney. All the electric on one side of the house was shot. It was a mess. “Is anything on fire?” she asked the electrician. He responded no, and she headed back to bed. The electrician was stunned. “Not much I can do about it. I’ll call my husband and have him call someone” she said, and got back into bed. The electrician was so freaked out by it all he left. To this day I am so grateful she was in my room, and not hers, as with all the flying glass it could have been a very bad situation.

It didn’t occur to me that these events had triggered a fear in me until a few years ago. My husband and I were in the car during a bad lightning storm, and I had a full on panic attack. Frozen in place, I couldn’t exit the car. I burst into tears and had trouble breathing. He looked at me shocked, as he’d never seen me in that state, but calmly talked me down until I felt like myself again. I used to suffer from anxiety when I was younger but now panic attacks are almost non existent and I feel like I finally have a grasp on the anxiety to where it no longer bothers me much. That moment shook me. I’m not used to having that kind of fear anymore.

Now all that being said, I have kids. And kids pick up on our thoughts, fears etc. This means I have to hold it together as much as possible and not freak out when there is a bad lightning storm. I don’t want them to take on that fear if possible. So I plaster a smile on my face and get through it. They know I’m nervous around lightning, but they don’t know how deep the fear runs. As I’ve been writing this, a big storm is passing through, and my cat and I are giving each other knowing, uncomfortable looks every time the thunder booms and the sky lights up.

Still better than thinking I got shot in the head though.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere A Sign

I love impromptu plans. Just a flight of fancy or interest that takes you on a whole day of exploration. Today was just that type of day. We were at a party last night and someone mentioned the idea of going to an indoor flea market today. It was decided we’d all make the trek, and despite a late night last night, we roused early and headed off for a day of looking for treasures.

We left with three places on our list. One, to get coffee, and two indoor flea markets (perfect for a rainy day). Coffee was a grand success, which fueled us for the drive ahead. The first flea market turned up to be closed, due to open later in the month. We ventured on to the next one, which was further than expected, but quite a great place. I had been perusing my phone while my husband drove and something came up referencing Mother’s Day. Now, Mother’s Day is quite a strange day for me, filled with love, and happiness, but it does strike a bit of a cord since my mom died. It’s always a little bittersweet, but my husband and kids always make the day super special for me, even moreso because they know I miss my mom terribly.

Now, I’m of the opinion that when someone dies, there is a time for grief. And then, I am a believer that the best way to honor your loved one isn’t with tears and misery, but with retelling their story, creating happy memories in their honor, and really celebrating who they are. My mother would have hated if the only stories her grandchildren knew about her were surrounded in sadness and grief. It just wasn’t her way. So instead, I tell them happy, silly, or funny stories about her. I tell them stories where she helped people. I tell them she liked to bust people’s chops in the best of ways, and had a booming laugh. In turn, they see her as someone they would have loved to have known, and I find them often seeing something or in a situation and bringing her up. “Nana would have LOVED that!” my daughter often says, quite accurately, which brings me joy considering she never physically got to meet my mom. It keeps the essence of who my mom was truly alive, and honors her memory.

Today, as we headed into the flea market, my mom was on my mind. I thought to myself “well, I wonder if I will find something that will no doubt remind me of mum” as I stepped in the doorway. Perhaps I was asking for a “sign” but really I just wanted a moment to feel close to her. We wandered the aisles. Everything was very organized and well placed. My daughter held my hand and my husband meandered off to a massive comic book section with our son.

“So, I am going to be looking for something that matches the rose china” I said, “or maybe something that Nana would love”.

The story of the rose china is simple. It was my parents’ wedding china, and was the Royal Albert Old Country Roses pattern. It was used for “best” which means we used it at Christmas, Thanksgiving, and an occasional Easter. It was pretty, dainty, with roses and gold around the trim. It’s a little old fashioned, definitely British, and it reminds me of all of our special holidays together. As a kid, when I saw my mom get the roses china out, I always knew a great meal was ahead, and it would be a special day. It’s funny the traditions we lock into when we are kids, but this was one I clung to. I told my mom that one day, I hoped she would leave me that china. Neither of my parents could ever understand why I loved it so much. For me, it stood for happy memories, family time, and special time together. I also thought it was beautiful and dainty. But then it accidentally got sold during the Estate sale after my mom died and my dad wanted to move. I was devastated. It sounds silly, but it was like a piece of my childhood left, but also, like losing a tiny bit of my mom again.

My husband knew the story, and he knew how sad I was about it, so for Christmas, he got me a 4 place setting of the rose china. I was beside myself, and THRILLED to put it on the table. He also got me a matching coffee mug. Whenever we go to antique shops, flea markets, or anything similar, I always look for pieces of the set, even to have as extra. It’s become a little quest of mine.

Now, as I said, I wandered into the place today with my mom on my mind, and a definite hope that with Mother’s Day around the corner, I could find something that would no doubt remind me of her. As we wandered down to where the dishes were, I saw it. It took me a moment to really figure it out, but there it was: a little tea pot, and the top had a tiny teapot, creamer and sugar bowl on top…..and it was in the rose pattern, part of the set!! It was little, dainty, and perfect in every way! I’ve mentioned it before, but we’re British. My mom always seemed of the belief that no matter what ailed you, a good cup of tea would start fixing it up. This little pot would make me feel closer to her and lift the blues of missing her.

I don’t know if it was a sign, but it sure felt like one. I picked up my tiny teapot, and saw it was only $8. That $8 made my whole day. I immediately paid for it, and walked out with a huge smile on my face. My daughter looked at it and said “Mama, it’s just PERFECT. Nana would LOVE it”.

Yes, she would.

We finished out the day with a delicious meal filled with laughter, more coffee, some shopping, and a quiet evening at home to relax. The little pot has kept me beaming all day.

She’s Got Another Project

Every now and again, something touches my cold, dark little heart and warms it. Or, sometimes it digs in my eyes and makes them leak a little. When this happens, I am often pulled into one of my “projects” as they have come to be known in our house. As cynical, grumpy, and sarcastic as I am, I am almost an eternal optimist. After all, I am a mom. When you’re a parent, if you worth the honor of being called that, since so many deserving people aren’t, you have to have an optimistic view to a certain extent. We have to raise strong, kind, independent children to live in a world that frankly, is pretty messed up. Part of that optimism is living in one’s own bubble probably more than we should. After all, everyone has their own problems, their own responsibilities, and it’s easy to wrap oneself up in that little bubble because let’s be honest, you can only focus on so much at a time. Most of my projects and stepping out of my bubble happen when I probably don’t need it to.

Some of my attempts to help others have backfired horribly. So horribly, in fact, that it became a source of amusement for my family, sort of a shaking one’s head and chuckling at how bad things went. There was the time I stopped to help a blind person navigate a busy parking lot. I almost got hit by a car and ended up in a loud argument with the driver. I tried to feed a homeless woman, and then went to give her my gloves and hat out of my car since she didn’t have any and it was brutally cold. Stupid me locked myself out of my car and had to use the last moment of my cell battery to call someone to come get me. In the meantime, I was stuck in the snow with a homeless woman who turned out to be mentally ill, telling me stories about people getting cut up with an ax. Not my most comforting moment, for sure. Of course, she had my hat and gloves at this point, and I was super cold. That being said, we had a nice chat, despite the ax murder conversation, and I still think of her to this day (I didn’t see her around much after that afternoon). There was the time I helped the woman hospitalized with what turned out to be cancer by feeding her cats and looking after them. She had neglected to tell me she hadn’t changed their litter box in months, and I had to navigate and clean an entire floor of a turd minefield. I came home and wanted to light myself on fire. After getting everything cleaned, I looked after her cats and home, making sure to turn lights on and off, shoveling the snow, and a team of people helped get her furnace fixed and oil put in. When I headed in for surgery last year, the woman who took over was positively mental, and started harassing me. She ended up moving away after the state was called in and she was accused of elder abuse.

Last month, I found out kids at our school didn’t have coats, right before a polar vortex that slammed the country. I dove right in, collected over 150 coats in 4 days, as well as hats, gloves, scarves etc. This spiraled into a bigger project, where our kids in need can get items they need for free from our “kindness closet” which is currently being set up in the school. I am overjoyed by this and am so proud I got to help.

The other day, I got a call from my neighbor, who said her coworker had dropped off some supplies for the kindness closet. I went over and there were bags all over her porch filled with brand new huge boxes of ziplock bags (great for toiletries, and singling out new underwear or pairs of socks for if little kids have an accident), feminine products (some of the kids don’t have these at home, sadly, and the nurse has been buying them out of her own pocket). There were also some coats. Lastly, there were bags and bags of books. It appears the doner has kids and cleared out all their bookshelves, and by the looks of it, the family loves books. I wasn’t sure what to do with those, as they were out of the realm of my project. That being said, I was grateful to have them, as I was sure I could find a home for them.

I loaded up the car with stuff for the closet, including my cart. I have a little collapsible wagon that has been a godsend to me in my endeavors with the coats and closet. I load it up to the brim and head in the school easily (although navigating the multitude of security doors is no joke dragging a heavily filled wagon sometimes). After I dropped the items off, I wandered down to the library and met with the librarian. I asked if she would be at all willing to take used books as a donation. Her face lit up and she said she ABSOLUTELY WOULD. She asked why I was donating them and I explained I was “the coat lady” as a lot of the staff knew about the coats but didn’t know who I was, and that someone had generously donated books that I wanted to find a good home for. She and I had a chat about how exciting the closet was going to be for the students, and I headed home to get the books.

The books were in multiple bags on my neighbor’s porch. I now had to be a porch pirate and go grab them. I got really nervous someone would call the police because there has been so much package theft recently. I half expected to have the cops show up and knew it would be awkward explaining what I was doing. I shuffled back and forth with bags and bags of books, loading up my car. I then went upstairs and emptied my daughter’s bookshelves of all the books she had outgrown. There were a ridiculous amount of books. I’m a huge fan of reading and have always told my kids, “you may not always get a toy, but you may get a book”. I really try to encourage reading. I ended up making two trips to the school to drop off books.

When I showed up, the librarian had me go into a room with a counter. There were kids in the library and they came to help unload the books. They were chatting excitedly. “I can’t WAIT to read this!” “Look how beautiful this one is! Look at the pictures!” “I want to read this one FIRST! One girl was mesmerized by a pop-up book, opening and closing, her lips moving slightly as she read the words. She looked up and told me she loved that book. I was overjoyed. Seriously. These kids were just so happy and grateful. These books made them excited about reading. It was awesome!

The excitement on their faces must have warmed my cold heart again, because now that I’m not the “coat lady” I’m turning into the “book lady” for a while. I was out last night picking up and messaging people about donating books.

Now here’s the thing. Where is the bad part of such a project you ask?

The bad part is getting my bubble burst. When I was in the school, unloading books, the librarian and I got to chatting. She is clearly, like me, a lover of books. She also loves the kids. She confided how super excited she was to get the books, and kept picking up various ones to admire them all. She commented “I can’t believe this! This is so awesome! This book alone is $16 new!”. The reason for her excitement? Her annual budget to buy books with is VERY low. over 500 kids in the school and her budget is about $3k. Now, three grand sounds like a lot of money, but when you think of it, it really doesn’t stretch when you need to buy supplies and books for over 500 kids. She also lost some funds this year despite the BOE moving tons more kids into our school (I’ve talked about our redistricting in prior posts). She has to be so selective, so careful, to get as much as she can for those kids, but while staying in a tight budget. This issue was made more complex by the district moving a whole lower grade into our school, so much of the budget had to go to buying age appropriate books for those kids. I also learned, sadly, that some of the kids in the school, don’t even know their letters. This hurt my heart. Most of the kids came in from other schools, and I can’t fathom how the kids were pushed ahead from Kindergarten and first onward not knowing these basic skills. It’s as if they are being set up to fail.

I am a firm believer in the power of books. I can often tell a frequent reader from a non-reader by looking at how they express themselves. Frequent readers often pick up really good vocabulary skills, spelling and grammar. Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t foolproof, as you can see by my blog. I make mistakes all the time! That being said, reading opens up new worlds and opportunities. You can learn to do just about anything by reading and researching it. Reading is a game changer. Seeing kids being passed from grade to grade without those basic skills is heartbreaking. It only gets harder for them, and frankly, the system is failing them. School will become a hardship, and those kids are more likely to struggle and dislike school. This may cause more to drop out early, or not go on to next level.

This has been bothering me to no end. I hope the kids being in our school will get the help they need that they may not have gotten before. I am hoping that some of the books taken in will be helpful to those that need them.

My son and I discussed this later in the evening, when I explained my sadness over the situation, and my frustration that our schools are struggling to get the supplies and books they need. He mulled it over and said he’s going to talk to his guidance counselor about setting up a school to school tutoring program between the middle and elementary school. They do this with another school in town (my son has been a part of the tutors) but he wants to extend it to his sister’s elementary school as well. Both children sorted their bookshelves and packed up bags and bags of books to donate.

I couldn’t be prouder.

At the end of the day, they are learning a valuable lesson here. They are learning they can make a difference. Even kids can make a difference. Small steps make huge changes. I think they are also seeing that while we don’t always have money for everything they want, they have what they need, and they are growing more aware that needs are what is important. They are seeing that others don’t always have what they need, and they are trying to find ways to help those people and make a difference in what ways they can. Sometimes, we don’t have the money or items to help, but others do, and they are willing to donate those items if you are willing to do the work. If you’re willing to coordinate, collect, and drop off, people will HELP you. If you ask the right questions, you will get the answers you need.

As for me, I learned a harsh lesson myself in all of this. Folks often hide that they are struggling. Sometimes you have to ask the right questions to find that out. I didn’t know our school was struggling because frankly, they are doing what they can and didn’t advertise that fact. They are so focused on doing what they can and I don’t think they normally ask parents for help in that way.

Our schools need help. I don’t think it’s just my school. I think MANY schools have needs that most of us don’t even consider. Unless you personally are deeply struggling, it may not even occur to you how deep the need is. I admit, I was blissfully unaware that some of the things I am now learning about were issues. I assumed things were fine. I assumed wrong.

Let Them Be Chickens

freerange

So, it’s official.  I am officially on the PTSA board of our school as of today.  I am still wondering if I have done the right thing, and also just what I have gotten myself into. My default is to jump in with both feet, and have already been brainstorming some fundraising ideas.  I was told to relax, hold back, and take a “let’s see” approach.  That’s not really my style.  On one hand, I am chaos personified.  I’m the mom screeching into the parking lot at the last minute, but I get there.  I am the mom who gets it done, even if it doesn’t look pretty.  There is some method to my madness, and I usually need at least a baseline plan in place to keep the stress levels down.  I’m not very structured, but I need a basic idea of a plan to get started.  At the moment, I’m floundering and I feel dazed.  I’m not a fan. I will therefore sit back, and try very hard not to think too much about things.  It just won’t be easy.  I’m more of a doer than a not think about it type of gal.

After getting voted in, I was chatting with a mom friend about the changes, about summer, after school care next year for her daughter, and she asked how I manage to work from home when the kids are home.  She was surprised by my answer.

“Well, the older one will play video games or read and entertain himself pretty quietly, and the younger one plays outside or with the neighbor kids.  I’m trying this whole “free range parenting” thing out.”

She looked stunned.  The video game comment gave her pause and a raised eyebrow.  The free range parenting comment made her appear quite surprised.

The fact is, my son is an old soul.  He is extremely smart (way smarter that me, to be honest).  He’s responsible, a rule follower, and very mature.  (Not like me).  He gets great grades and is respectful and kind.  That, along with some chores, is his “job”.  As long as he is doing his job, and his grades are good, I don’t sweat the small stuff.  I let him play video games with his friends after school.  Sure, I keep the time down to a decent amount, but I let him play.  It’s a form of socialization, and he enjoys it.  It’s also sparked an interest in coding, which could be good for him.  He accompanied me to the apple store and jumped into a coding class there.  The instructor was very impressed with his knowledge and demeanor.  I may take him for more.  Currently, my son and his bike have disappeared down to the school to go hang out on the field/playground with his friends.  He has his sister’s ipod which has wifi, so he can text me if he needs me.  I’m only a few minute drive away.

The little one looks most forward to racing outside each day.  I can see her from my home office window.  I can call to her.  We have a system, and it works.  She never leaves the front of the house without telling me where she is going.  There are also a group of great kids in the neighborhood that she plays with.  The parents know each other, watch out for the kids, and text each other when kids are on route from one house to another.  It’s working.  I now have a happier child, who enjoys being outdoors and playing with friends.

For years, I have struggled with balance.  Work vs home, fairness  with the kids, and a constant battle of how their childhood is vs mine was.  When my son got older, my daughter was still 4 years younger, so it was easier to keep them both inside.  With my work schedule, there wasn’t any time to just hang with the neighbor kids.  Growing up, I raced home, did homework, and jumped on my bike.  I rode the back roads about a mile from my house to my best friends, and we would go back and forth between our houses, playing, riding, laughing, and making memories.  I did this when I was about 8 or nine.  My parents trusted me to do right, to call when I arrived, and to do be responsible.  And you know what?  I WAS.  I DID.  I called, and I was responsible.  I knew quite clearly that bad behavior, or not doing as I should would eliminate my freedoms.  Looking back, I believe my mom would drive the neighborhood to make sure I was safe and keep an eye on what I was up to.  I fell off my bike once and she was there in minutes, without a phone call.  (no cell phones when I was a kid, folks!).  Nowadays kids have technology at their fingertips.  Luckily they have ipods and the neighborhood is a wifi hotspot, so they can text me if they need me.  That’s more than I had as a kid.

playborhood.jpg

The fact is, kids were kids, but in many ways, we were more grown up than today’s kids.  We had more freedoms and we learned to handle those freedoms appropriately.  We learned responsibility.  We had street sense.  The small freedoms I received made me feel more grown up, and I behaved better.  Why? Because I didn’t want to lose the privileges I had been given!  Cause and effect is an important learning tool.

It occurred to me one day my kids might not really know how to cross the street safely.  As in, which lane cars drive in, where to look, how to listen for cars, how to double check.  I was horrified.  The fact was though I was always with them and guided them. I started teaching them more street sense.  How to manage if I wasn’t there.  How to be safe, and to help their friends be safe. I started taking them on bike rides, to learn the layout of the neighborhood, where cross walks are, and how to read the traffic signals.  It’s an ongoing lesson, but an important one.  I keep an eye on them, but I am allowing more freedom and choices their way as they get older.

I notice other parents doing the same more than before.  Maybe I’m just more in tune with it because giving the kids so much freedom is a bit daunting at first. The fact is, I am raising future adults.  I have to balance teaching them a healthy dose of reality (ie. stranger danger, car safety, etc) vs teaching them to be independent and responsible.  I need to teach them that outside is where magic happens.  Healthy habits, spending time in nature is good not only for the body, but for the soul.  Not to mention, they sleep AMAZINGLY now.

I’ll still be nervous.  I’ll still keep an eye on them when they don’t know I am watching.  At the end of the day though, this free range parenting, allowing the kids more freedom and responsibility has thus far been a good thing.  The better they do, the better I will do. There are parents allowing their kids to navigate the city by themselves, take the subways, etc.  I’m not there yet.  We’re keeping with the neighborhood and going from there.

 

One Day

Oneday

One Day.

That’s all it took.  Just one, unimaginable day, and she was gone. I woke up to a call from my father saying I needed to come quickly, as the time had come and she would likely pass away soon.  The problem was, there was no “quickly” about it.  I was a good 5+ hours by car away, and still a good 4 if I tried to take a plane instead.  There was no quick. There was only tears, and fear, and horror as the “should be” 5 hour drive turned into 11 painstakingly slow hours.  I was right near the George Washington Bridge when I got the call.  I was too late. I also had a very long drive ahead.   But I am ahead of myself.

One Day.

That day I got married, and she couldn’t be there because cancer made her so weak she couldn’t travel up.  It was a Justice of the Peace wedding, not at all as I had planned in my youth.  But if my mom couldn’t be there, I didn’t want the big wedding.  I married the love of my life without either of my parents able to be there.  That’s a hard pill to swallow.

One Day.

The day my son was born.  The day I truly believe she fought and battled that cancer to be able to be there for.  She couldn’t get there until well after he was born, but she was there.  I remember her telling the nurses to be extra kind to me, because her mum was dying and there was all just so much STRESS when there should have been only happiness.

One Day,

That day my daughter was brought into this world, without her Grandmother there to wonder out loud if she had a curly haired grandchild, and to marvel how pretty and delicate she was.  I remember telling the nurse that I had held it together all day in front of visitors that I was just so heartbroken that my mom wasn’t there to meet this beautiful baby, but I couldn’t hold it any longer.  That nurse called the station to say she would be a while, sat down and let me cry while she held my hand.

One Day.

The day my father finally remarried, and I wrote a lovely speech that thrilled him, smiled for pictures, and made peace with the idea of him making that next step, all while hurting that the change had to take place because she was gone.

One Day.

The day I had my uterus taken out and knew I’d never have another baby for my mom to meet, but that same nurse was working, so I asked for her and thanked her so profusely for what she had done for me to get me through the happiest day that was still tainted with a touch of sadness.

One Day.

That day every year when mothers, including myself, are celebrated and revered, but the day is so bittersweet.  The card displays I walk past, the gift ideas I scroll past online, and the thought of “oooh, she’d love that!” only to know I won’t be buying it because she’s not there to give it to. The day when my husband and kids take me out, and I feel so special, but also a little tinged with the reminder of the loss.

One Day.

That day that I remember how she trusted me to get on my bike and ride to my friend’s, and my son asks me to do the very same thing.  Only this time, I say yes.

A lot can happen in One Day.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks.  In my last post, I revealed I need to start working out.  It hasn’t been an easy process.  I HAVE been going to the gym and pool.  So there’s that.  However, after I am done, I want ALL the calories.  ALL the calories in the world! In.My.Belly.   I’m thinking that’s not going to work in my favor as far as losing weight, so I need to make some changes there as well.  Right now, the goal is just to move more than before, and take things step by step.  More changes will come, but for now, I’m starting with making moving around a new habit.

Look, I am a firm believer that most people don’t really change all that much.  People are who they are, and that’s that.  People don’t magically become a totally different person, and if they tell you they are, they are full of shit.  People’s edges wear off a little, they get new habits, but the core of who they are is what it is.  For example, I have a temper.  I have a batshit crazy, will rip your face off temper.  I also am a grown woman who knows it’s not cute to be losing her temper and doing the crazy stuff I used to do when I was younger, so I work hard at trying to maintain my temper.  Don’t be mistake, I can snap back to the rage of my youth in a New York second, but for the most part, I keep it on the level.  I am a woman who loves ice cream and chocolate.  That’s not gonna change.  I just know that I’m at an age where I need to eat more salads these days.  So I will give it a go….

….after I take the kids for ice cream tonight, that is.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.

In other news, I had a great trip visiting my dad and stepmother this weekend.  The kids and I drove down to his house, about a 5 1/2 hour drive.  They watched the kids for me the first night so I could make a few stops to see friends.  The first stop was my good friend’s grandmother’s 90th birthday.  Yes, my vacation started off with a 90th birthday party, and it was amazing.  We didn’t tell her I was coming, and surprised her.  I spent a lot of time at her house in my early 20’s, and she was like another grandmother to me.  I walked in and she looked absolutely delighted to see me, giving me hug after hug after hug.  She hadn’t aged a bit since I had met her, even though decades had passed.  We were so happy to see each other (it had been about 5 years) and it was an utter joy and honor to be there for her birthday.  My friend’s family and other friends were there and I hadn’t seen many of them in years.  People were coming up to give me big hugs and ask about my husband and kids, asking how we all were.  Some of the folks there were kids when they first met me, but they remembered me and ran up to give me a hug.  I was so touched by all the love and friendship.

After the party, I headed the half hour back to where my dad lives to have a late dinner with another one of my good friends.  It’s funny, my friends down there are all parents, and we don’t talk much on the phone.  We’ll send the occasional facebook message, or touch base a few times a year, but as soon as we get together you can’t shut us up.  We fall right back into our friendships like not even a day has passed us by.  We’re all the same kids who were running amuck back in the day, creating chaos and hanging out for days on end.  These are some of the people who know me the best.  They know who I’ve always been, where I come from, and they know that I’m still that same girl, if not a little older, wiser, and ok, calmer. We’re all very different from each other, and there’s a lot we probably disagree on.  But what we do have is a history of good and bad times, a solid knowledge of each other, and we agree to disagree. It’s times when I go down there to visit that I am always touched by how long we’ve been friends and how lucky I am to have had friends that long.  While she doesn’t live down south, I am still friends with my first best friend from school.  If something happens, she knows me through and through. When I do a facebook post about my mom, she and my friends from down south always comment.  They knew her well and loved her too.

Sunday and Monday I hung out with my dad and step mom.  We went boating, went out to eat, fished, and sat around talking with my step brother and his family.  I wish I could have stayed a few extra days.  There never seems to be enough time with my dad.  He’s the quiet sort.  He has a lifetime of amazing stories that he never thinks to tell anyone, until he suddenly will mention something off hand and I have to say “wait…what?”  I’m fascinated by all the things he knows and has done, but I know he’ll never tell me it all.  Not because he doesn’t want to, he just doesn’t think to.  I don’t think he realizes how interesting he is.

The drive home with the kids was actually one of the best long road trips in a while.  The three of us laughed and laughed, told stories, listened to comedy shows on netflix, and it was a nice no-pressure time.  I didn’t have to be mom, which can sometimes be exhausting.  Momming is hard, man.  I’m a mom first, their friend second.  With the husband working, I have to be the bad guy more than I’d like….having them pick up after themselves, reminding about homework, saying no to stuff.  Sometimes it’s nice to just be another person in the car.  My daughter asked why I call my dad’s house home as well as our house.  “Wherever your parents are is home” was my response.  “When you grow up, and have a family of your own, or a career of your own, wherever Daddy and I are will be your home too.  You’re always welcome there, you’ll always be loved there, and home is where the love is.”  I’m glad I got to tell the kids that.  They both seemed to like that answer, and I saw them both settle into a little smile.

Well, life is short, and ice cream is yummy, so I’m off to treat the kiddos (and myself).  Tomorrow, I’ll try and eat a salad.  Everything in moderation.