My Name Is Nobody

When my sister and I still lived at home, many years ago, we would look at each other sadly and randomly say: “Nobody cares.” It is in fact, true on some level. People don’t seem to care the same way anymore or maybe they are just too busy. Too busy to show that they care? Yes. Sorry.

Life

Life (Photo credit: bitzcelt)

I used to be Somebody but not anymore, I don’t feel like Anything or Anyone anymore. I just Exist.

A very long time ago I was a little girl who played dolls, went to school year after year and I was a Student. I was known for always Smiling by my teachers but I seemed invisible to my classmates.

When I was in college I became a Young Woman, an excellent student, also able to cut a class for an outdoor concert with good friends, under the sun. My camera draped around my neck like jewelry, it did not get better than that. Of course I didn’t appreciate it then, does anyone? No, there is no frame of reference until you look back. Those WERE the BEST years of my life.

I always worked, every summer during high school,  I started working right after college but my world was still centered around Me. That wondrous place in time, the narrow window of fun, between college and the real world, now in today’s world fraught with unemployment. I had my apartment, I learned from good experiences and bad; mice running over my arm and leg at night or crawling in the walls and utter fear to getting frozen at knife point by a gang and the guardian angel who saved me. I learned that sometimes it is easier to say no, than it is to say yes. Eventually, I moved.

English: Portrait of old woman sitting by a wi...

English: Portrait of old woman sitting by a window. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I used to travel for barely nothing, to visit a friend, to fly across the ocean, to visit different countries. I was lucky, Dad worked for the airlines. Then, I was a Traveler, a Tourist. I learned to eat new food in Greece, jumbo shrimp staring at me with watchful eyes, lemon-egg soup, and everything tepid, I loved that. Food was not served burning hot. I walked up winding white and blue steps in Greece on a tiny island, where there were no cars, just donkeys. My family traveled to Portugal and I refused to eat sardines that the fishermen just caught. But, our family drank wine together outside in a beautiful garden, near a forest.

I learned to trust MY instincts, not my sister’s, the daredevil, with no common sense. We ended up on a canoe, going to on an island with two fishermen.  I had never been so scared in my life. No big deal, she shrugs it off, grinning. Yeah. Right.

Then, I was a Working Wife and Mother, I had a title again, a meaning for my Life,  the most special one. Being a Mother did not feel like a job but it fulfilled every one of my dreams, it was all I wanted to do my whole life. I wanted to have two babies, a boy and a girl and bring them up to be good, conscious, wonderful people. In that, I know I succeeded; I did my job well, I am proud.

My life has no meaning anymore. You can’t argue with something that is true. My kids are adults, they don’t need me anymore, my husband and I are very best friends, he could manage. My friends, the real ones who care, are sincere but have their own lives.

I need a new Life. I am so sick of the old one. I want to peel off my skin like I peel bananas for the banana bread I bake. I need to do something new with the second half or even quarter of my life. The end of my life, where did the first half go?

It left like whispers in the air, silent passages of time, I blinked.

 

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Haiku Heights

USELESS

Snooze, dear old man, gramps

children gone,

all alone, sad.

rock your empty chair.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Typical Finnish wooden rocking chair.

Typical Finnish wooden rocking chair. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Blink, joy, blink sadness

numb eyes drool, lips shake, quiver

Alone is black-gray.

******************************************

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Leaving Us, Lost

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbili...

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbilical cord has not yet been cut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Children will always leave you, from the minute you cut the umbilical cord until the day that you take your last gasp of air. When your child is born you are swept away with joy. Is it a boy, a girl?  You cuddle that dear baby close to your body and cover its head with sweet, soft kisses. Your life has now changed forever. You try to inhale the smells and remember them. Unfortunately, like everything else, we hold precious in our hearts, memories fade.

Babies turn into toddlers and their first independent steps they take away from you are greeted with great excitement and applause.”She’s walking!!” we say proudly to anyone who will listen but we don’t think about this as a step of independence, we are merely celebrating a milestone in our brilliant child’s life.

I can say, with confidence, that as much as you want that uninterrupted night of sleep, it comes with a price. You will miss those sticky grilled cheese hands and arms around your neck and those sloppy grape jelly kisses a lot when they stop. One day you are swinging hands in public, the next your child is muttering “that’s embarrassing.” and they pull away. The rules have changed, your children have changed, now you have to change, quickly.

Childhood is so important and then comes middle school and high school when your children are tweens and teenagers. Groan, I know. It is important for them to grow up and for you to let them. You will go through, as my husband called it “the teenage tunnel of darkness” hang on tight, folks, it will be a bumpy ride. The arguments, slammed doors, taunting, fighting, will probably make you feel like you wish you had the money to send your kids to boarding school, but they need to go through this to become independent and their own person. This is their way of leaving their comfort zone, by fighting and doing things you probably don’t even want to know about and they will lie as well. Your kid? Never! I said that too. Believe me, I don’t condone this behavior, but it smacked me in the face. Once, when I asked my son how he would describe high school he said : high school is one big lie.” I will never forget that. Ever. I was so stunned that I was speechless. Wrong time to be speechless, believe me.

I am grateful that my two young adults, 18 and 20 are so independent and comfortable with other adults.  For that, I thank the strong sense of confidence we instilled in our children and sleep-away camp. Our children begged to go to sleep-away camp where their cousins went, we agreed to give it a try. They LOVED it and so did we. When it came to college, it was easier, for all of us, having been separated before.

How we feel doesn’t matter in this equation anymore. It’s true and we need to accept it. My husband and I like being alone, together. It reminds us of the days before children without all the anxiety and stress. Staying home and watching television is date night, we don’t feel the need to go out, we can relax at home. Our babies are not babies anymore, they are young adults. Do we miss the love that they used to show us? Yes, I know I do. Things change, we have no choice but to adjust. It is not always easy; sometimes it takes a little longer than it should and yes, sometimes I cry in private.  Children will always have you in their hearts but they will leave to find and follow their own lives. When they leave, they are looking forwards to their new lives which leaves us, their parents, looking backwards for sweet memories.

Carry On Tuesday: “So good to be be believed in once, so good to be remembered…..”

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbili...

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbilical cord has not yet been cut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The dreams of childhood – its airy fables, its graceful, beautiful, humane, impossible adornments of the world beyond ; so good to be believed in once, so good to be remembered when outgrown.

I am the mother of two children. “Children”, I laugh to myself, “children, no more!” My daughter is a skip away from eighteen, my son, soon to be twenty in a few months. Once I was everything to them, now, nothing much. Yes, they still come to me when they are hungry but they do not come with sticky kisses and hugs that curl around my knees like sloppy green caterpillars. No, it’s been many years since that has happened.  They yell throughout the house “what’s for dinner” or “I’m hungry” and even though they are fully capable of cooking their own meal but it is still nice to be needed, once in a while, in this small, insignificant way, although I am quick to reprimand them. It ‘s something. I know they love me, they just don’t show it; my husband and I have done a good job bringing up two wonderful, independent young adults. It’s not their fault that once in a while I feel so lonely.

When they were three and five, it was a magical time. A time for believing in Batman and monsters, pink princesses and glitter pixie dust. An innocent time and I was the one they truly believed in for anything. I could right any wrong, make any hurt feel less painful. I could vanish fears before bedtime or sing them lullabies, sitting exactly equally between their rooms so they could fall asleep. It was a truly special time, it felt “so good to be believed in once.”

Now, that is all left in the past. We are all moving on, this childhood home will be child-less come late August with two teenagers headed to college. Yes, there is a small part that wonders what my husband and I will talk about, what do we have in common except our off-spring? Perhaps we will talk about the puppy I adopted to avoid the complete empty nest. I don’t know, I will have to wait and see; we are all in this together. Together but alone.

Last year we adjusted when our first born son went to college and the three of us shifted in our dynamics, making more time to chat with our daughter, our “baby” and watched her grow an incredible amount. Dynamics between siblings are often fraught with competition and jealousy. It was nice to see our daughter for one year sans her older brother. I am the younger sister too, I understand her feelings.

We will watch them grow up through tales of college and on vacation, perhaps they will see us in a different light, slightly removed. It’s not a bad thing, it can be a very positive and mature thing. Maybe they will appreciate us more or understand one day in the future, what it is like to be a parent. To love a child so unconditionally, with every fiber of your being that while the umbilical cord is cut, the attachment is forever. I hope they understand one day what it is like to be a parent and even more, I pray that I am alive to see it. I hope to be sitting on the lumpy beige sofa with matching fluffy yellow and red pillows with you, my dear husband, chatting, joking and whispering to each other about what OUR children were like, joking with our grandchildren: because once your own parenting days are over it feels “So good to be remembered when outgrown.” It is their job now to parent, not ours any longer, we have moved out of the inner circle to the outer circle and we need to accept that as graciously as we possibly can. It all falls under the circle of life. People change; we all do, we must accept it, not fight with it, with God’s blessings. Amen.

An Empty Chair: Father’s Day and Graduation, 2012

English: Chair

English: Chair (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tomorrow is Father’s Day, it’s also the day that my daughter, my baby, graduates from high school. My father, her grandfather will not be sitting near me, holding my hand, smelling of after shave cologne. His arm won’t be around my mother’s arm, excited to see their granddaughter walk across the stage, beaming, to get her diploma. He died almost died ten years ago, not seeing any of his four grandchildren graduate.

He will be with me, inside, a huge hole in my  heavy heart and in the tears that I will most assuredly shed. I will wipe them up with a “Vienna hanky” the soft, cotton handkerchiefs that my father always had, that my sister and my mother and I shared upon his death. They are thin now, like transparent paper but some have his initials on them and they are very important to us.

My daughter’s graduation should be a joyous occasion but it too brings mixed emotions, as most everything does. An “empty nest” a sign of us aging, her new life just beginning. I try to be as festive as possible for my husband, father of our two children but he is not that caught up with the Father’s Day holiday as much as I am and frankly he has lower expectations. I don’t blame him at all. Mother’s and Father’s Day were adorable when the children were young but at almost 18 and almost 20, something is lacking, like true sentiment. The kids go through the motion with plenty of reminders but that’s about it and that’s all we can expect at this time in their lives. Hopefully, if they have children of their own one day, they may appreciate us more; they will be able to relate.

I am looking forward to tomorrow with a mixture of excitement and dread; I will try to hide the dread as best I can. My daughter and my “second daughter,” our friend Christina, will be graduating from high school and going off to college in August. I have watched these two special girls grow up. Christina and her family have lived across the street from us since the girls were about three or four years old. They played together every day; they went through the monkey phase together, the gymnastic phase, horses phase and plenty of others together. While they both have other friends, I think their friendship will last in the future.

Christina reminds me of a young me, she is innocent and kind and wears her heart openly. I know what she is thinking and feeling by just looking at her face or hearing her voice. I want to protect her and prepare her for life but of course  I know I can’t do either of those things. My own daughter is more street smart, independent and fearless. She hides her feelings, she is very private, harder to read and fiercely independent.  Tomorrow, when their names are called to go up on stage and receive their diplomas, I will clap and scream, for both of these beautiful, strong and smart young women.

Congratulations to Jillian and to Christina!

Passing Over Passover

Day 337 - Tuna and Salad Sandwich

Image by JoeGray via Flickr

It’s a big year for change and not something fabulous like: “OMG, we won 230 million dollars in the lottery.” I wish. My husband, after two years of unemployment, finally found a job three months ago. “Be careful what you wish for” because at the moment (and for a few more months) he is working in Buffalo, NY coming home only on weekends. “Not that there is anything wrong with that” as Jerry Seinfeld used to say but it’s about an 8 or 9 hour drive away from home or a one hour plane ride away and another hour and a half for traffic. Good news: he has a job, Bad news: location, undesirable. Having a job is the most important thing, of all people we know that. Trust me. However, I have a chronic pain disease, Fibromyalgia and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and being home with two teenagers and a dog, all the time is hard on me physically.

My son is graduating high school in less than two months. This is a big change, HUGE. Our first child going away to college is an enormous change for the entire family and yes, especially for me, his mom. I burst into tears at random times and yet when he is taunting me and acting arrogant I think, ‘it’s really time for him to go.’  I KNOW he is ready to go and he can’t wait. It’s just a little more difficult for the parents and sister he is leaving behind. All I want for him is to be happy but I can’t help feeling a little sad, selfishly for me. My daughter will be a senior in high school next year, only one grade year apart from her brother but in actuality almost two years apart in age. I can’t wait for her to have the limelight in her own family. I was also the youngest sibling in my family; I know how she feels.

Another change: my nephew is  graduating college this year and when I heard him say on the weekly radio show he hosts that there were only 3″ Grand Avenue Freezeout”  shows  left, forever, I burst into tears. Thank you Jon, for playing and dedicating the song Birds to me by Neil Young.  At least when one cousin goes to college, another one will come home. There is a little comfort in that.

My mother has had a horrible year so far because she first broke her wrist and several weeks later she fell down two stairs and broke two of her vertebrae in her back. Right after that, she got a nasty flu with a high temperature. Then she had to take some medicine that she really didn’t want to take. She has never had anything like this before and it took a great toll on her. This was a horrible and long time period and we were all very worried. Finally, she’s a little better but it was frightening.

It’s Passover and while we are not a religious family  my mom was right when she said “Families should be together on all holidays” this was generally our tradition until the cousins got older and one by one are in college. With my husband away, my kids spending all their free time with their friends on their Spring Break, sharing a tuna sandwich with my dog, Callie, did not cut it. I missed everyone and felt sorry for myself. It wasn’t the religious aspect as much but it was more that I was alone and the lack of loved ones sitting close to me that I dearly missed. It’s hard to be home alone on any holiday. Mom, I understand that more now. You were right and I was wrong, this one is for you, with great love.

Hey Ba, I Think It’s Now

a bird nest

Image via Wikipedia

I’m beginning to think that”these days may just BE the good old days” and I want to stop and appreciate them as much as I can. I want to  savor my children’s laughter, energy, and yes, even fighting. I want to enjoy family dinners served with a sauté of sarcasm and lumpy cheese sauce with laughter. I’m not saying that things are great but they are definitely good enough and  that’s just fine. My husband is still unemployed and our kids are just about to skip from home to college and I will be living in my own new reality, as an “empty-nester” which is both incredibly sad and exciting.

When I was in my early twenties, my best friend Barbara and I would alternate saying “Laur, when is it gonna get better?”or “Hey Ba, when is it going to get better?” I don’t even remember now what was so bad back then. We asked each other this as we were selecting French pastries from a small patisserie: the fruit tart or the chocolate mousse? Two Libra girls in an enchanting bakery meant only one thing: both. Now, thirty years later, back then seemed like it WAS better but it was just different. “Youth” is wasted on the young” my mother used to mutter. We laughed and knew she didn’t know what she was talking about. We have all said the exact, same thing to our children as they look back at us and roll their eyes. How can we expect them to understand what no other generation ever did before?

Rereading the book Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg is helping to keep me in the present. It’s a book about a woman dying of cancer and her loving friends. It makes you stop and think about your life. For me, these are the good old times. Are we silly enough to think that things will get easier as we get older? They don’t. I prescribe reading Ms. Berg’s book surrounded by tissues and as Oprah would say “a-ha” moments.

Now, while we still have our two children home, at least for a few more months I am relishing my time with them. I want to freeze these days like photographs on our mantel. My son, my first born, a Senior, is always running out the door, his black and orange sneakers barely trailing him. He has about four and a half months before he leaves home  for the summer to be a Counselor at the camp he attended for many years. Camp is my son’s other home; it is a magical place that helped shape him as a person. My first-born,  has the same temperament as I do; we understand each other with a casual glance. He’s waiting to hear from colleges in the near future. As much as I try to spend time in the present, I miss him already.

My daughter, a Junior in High School came home from “College Night”  and sounded like a newly opened bottle of soda; her enthusiasm and excitement was contagious.  “I want to go to college tomorrow, Mom” she chirped.  I will have a whole year with just her where she doesn’t have to share the limelight with her older brother. I am not even ready to think about what life will be like when she goes off to college. This beautiful young woman will always be my baby.

I would like the world to stand still so I can try and burn memories in my heart. My nine year old dog is sleeping at the foot of my bed. The children laugh, fight, shout and antagonize each other yet their love for each other is incredibly obvious. I know my husband will find a job eventually and I just want to hold on to this feeling of our family; for as long as I possibly can. Here is my life lesson: cherish each moment; it’s as simple as that.

Buying A Purple Shirt While Eating Jelly Beans

This is a picture i took for the Candy article.

Image via Wikipedia

This is the kind of post you want to read on a Monday afternoon when the clouds are all gray and gloomy and it is the start of a brand new week. The orange-green-red leaves on the trees are swaying and they look like they want to cry. I’m thinking about the future and living somewhere else where the sun stays out all day and you don’t have to wear a thick black jacket.  The only perk today is that our house is clean and it looks pretty. There are no cobwebs that I can see and the wood shines like a Pledge commercial. It smells lemony and the beds are made and the sheets are fresh and I am planning to take a hot bath tonight. It’s against house rules to put your dirty body into a brand new made-up bed with sheets and blankets that beckon you and smile.

It’s our friend Christina’s 16th birthday and she looked so sweet and innocent and happy like a shiny polished Macintosh apple. My son drives her to school and back every day along with his sister seated proudly in the front seat. Christina was wearing the soft beige scarf that my daughter gave her for her birthday. Her arms were packed with brownies and oatmeal cookies and chocolate cake that her school friends made for her birthday celebration. Oh to be young, filled with sweetness, innocence and incomparable joy. I see myself in young Christina, all eager and willing to please, her arms outstretched for a big, warm, hug.

I’m listening to music to quell the anxiety that has been plaguing me for the last week. It starts in the late afternoon and escalates until nighttime; my stomach clenches and my legs ache with unbearable pain. My aches and pains stem from stubborn, bossy, Fibromyalgia and sleep comes as a welcome relief.

I’ve taken down all the photographs of my children when they were very young and replaced them with an up-to-date picture of the two of them grinning, their eyes alive with mischief; my son’s arm casually draped around his sister’s shoulders. I had to beg and plead a lot for that one portrait. While I am extremely proud of my children’s independence I have had a few problems lately adjusting to it.  I can’t forget the moment last year when my son said patiently “Mom, High School is one big lie.” It is a message that has been burned into my brain and I think of it often.  I didn’t believe him then but I do now. Apparently, lies are commonplace but I need to force myself to look deeper, for honor, and not compare my past, unhappy and burdened youth to their present, over-indulged happy lives.

I am booking a massage at the local spa, a gift I received for my birthday, and I am looking forward to it. There, I will not think of the last year, tension pressed up against stress like two sweaty lovers: unemployment and illness together as one.  I will fantasize about traveling, seeing the tulips in Holland, a trip to Israel in the spring, perhaps the countryside of Spain. I will picture my loving husband’s face, his hand in mine, playing the punch buggy game in the car and competing in the “I love you more” contest. I will remember that when I asked him for a phrase, another definition for “empty nest” he threw his head back, howled loudly, with glee and in a snap of a second he shouted: “Freedom.” I love him so much in many ways but I especially love him for giving me that.

Dedicated to Danny

I Am A Whore…

A vacation whore that is.  I love going on vacation so much that all I need is an invitation and I RSVP “yes” joyfully and immediately. Vacations, especially family vacations with our two teenagers, are hard to beat. I will be with my loved ones where I don’t have to do the laundry, dishes, cooking, dusting, daily errands to the post office, drugstore, library, and grocery stores…etc.

Generally I worry about the outfits that I don’t have for a cruise.  Those elegant gowns women parade in, with diamond tiaras, so not me! The task of packing ( I am the worst packer in the world) is always tortuous for me. Fashion-wise, my 16-year-old daughter,  will give me her unwavering and brutally honest opinion of what to wear and what I absolutely can’t wear or basically what she won’t allow me to wear. To her, the color black is not elegant, it’s purely for funerals and old ladies (I am in this category), or old lady funerals. Same thing.

We are being  treated by the in-laws for a cruise; a cruise to Bermuda and I can barely sit still;  I am smiling even as I am typing. Five glorious days of sun, on the ocean, my most favorite combination in the world, second only to peanut butter and jelly.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the food on a cruise which is totally unbelievable, my mouth is watering as I picture the flaming desserts being carried out by waiters, the incredible amount of different dishes, filet mignon? Lobster? Both? “But, of course.” The quantity and quality of the food is clearly overwhelming.  If I don’t have the midnight buffet, I will just lovingly look at it (oh please, who am I kidding??) I can see the chocolate covered strawberries, the chocolate fondue, platters of cheese and French bread and the European pastries shining up at me. Winking.

Nothing makes me happier than the beach and the water in any combination. Being away with nothing to do except have fun, to me, is absolutely absurdly wonderful.  There are no dishes in the sink, no laundry to wash or fold, the dust can accumulate up to 3 inches….who cares? Everything is done for you and you feel like royalty, for a little while anyway.  Here at home I can be found curled up in bed watching Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice; I’ve even watched  Survivor this season. Television has become my night-time world, my pleasure, my escape.  I don’t venture out of the house once I am in my night-time attire (ok, a ripped T-shirt). On the cruise I imagine sitting royally overlooking the aqua-green waves in their library and at night  I will rush to get good seats for the comedians or silly game shows. New experiences, new people, a new life to live for a few days.

I will be poolside with a Mojito,  happy and appreciative of every minute. At the end of the cruise I will have many new memories and I will be eternally grateful to my in-laws. I wonder if they know how much this really means to us.

Once home I will wait and save up every penny that we have, so that maybe in a year or two we will have the money to go, as a family, somewhere else. It surely will not be a luxurious cruise. These memories are truly treasures to me because our children will soon be off to college.  My husband and I,  our almost 18 year old son and our 16-year-old daughter will have more time together. I hold on to these precious moments before the kids leave us, like little birds, racing, dancing, and singing out of our nest and into the world. On their own.