Carry on Tuesday: Once Upon A Time

Miss Haxby is holding a newborn baby that is i...

Miss Haxby is holding a newborn baby that is in an incubator at the Toronto Western Hospital in Toronto, Ont (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1956 there was a child born six weeks premature, it was the first time the child’s mom had worn a borrowed maternity dress to a party. Doctors back then were strict about weight gain so she wasn’t really showing at all. After every appointment with her Obstetrician, she treated herself to a chocolate ice cream soda, a delicious, frosty treat that she looked forward to every two weeks.

Once at the party she wasn’t feeling well but had no idea she was in labor until her friend, Claire, suggested she sit in the chair and she timed the odd cramps, soon it was off to the hospital. Claire drove her to the hospital while Claire’s husband, Teddy drove her husband. Her husband hadn’t even tasted his favorite German potato salad yet, I’d imagine, he was a bit disappointed.

They arrived at the hospital and the mom was rushed into the delivery room, she hadn’t expected to be giving birth six weeks early. The labor was fast and soon, a 4 pound, 6 ounce tiny baby girl was born. The mother said she “looked like a plucked chicken.” Dad apparently said to “Uncle Teddy “how cute can you get.” Uncle Teddy told that part of the story every time he saw the little girl until he could no longer speak. It was “their” story.

It turned out that the dad visited the little girl in the hospital, on his way home from the subway every night. He looked through the window and tapped the glass, it was in the late 50’s and he couldn’t do much more than that but him telling her that he was there every night made her feel good. Mom’s story was that she never visited because “there was nothing she could do” a story she changed recently when speaking to the child’s older sister.  She hadn’t visited; why would she have told the ugly truth so many times before? Did she want to rewrite history? Maybe. All of a sudden she was feeding that baby, bottles every other day. The sister just wanted to help but the child knew her mother was lying. It was okay, it just seemed pointless. Why bother now? Maybe it was guilt or she wanted to right a wrong or maybe in her mind, she decided that she wanted to remember it that way. One’s history is really made up of interpretation from others and ourselves.

Once upon a time had happened already, the child had accepted the parameters of her relationships with both her parents, with her Uncle as well. You can’t rewrite history. You just have to accept it for what it was, like she had done, all those years ago and then slowly, quietly, tiptoe, on soft, gray, stocking feet, walk away.

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.

To Reach A Hidden Heart

heart

I’m a mom, a fifty-four year old, plump (not so pleasantly),  kind, giving person but I laugh too loud. Sometimes because I have only fifty percent hearing in my left ear, I also don’t always hear things perfectly. I wear old mom jeans, sneakers instead of  gold strappy sandals, or even unlaced Keds, because my feet hurt and ache constantly. I have plantar fasciatis and just walking in any shoes is uncomfortable.  I have Fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s Thyroididtis and numerous other ailments. I’m old.

I don’t wear flirty skirts because (see above) it would just look plain silly. I can’t wear tight shirts (well, I could) but the stomach bulges would hang over my jeans. I used to have pierced ears but I think they closed so I don’t wear much jewelry anymore. Most importantly, I don’t wear make up from Sephora or MAC or Bobbi Brown. When I wear lipstick, which I do almost every day, I consider that enough. Should I be ashamed of these things, proud or just accept them? I’m okay with it but I have an almost seventeen year old daughter who most probably wishes, I was a cooler mom. A much cooler mom.

It’s not as if I stay in the kitchen and make home-made oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies because I don’t. I spend money at the supermarket and look at every single product, especially new ones.I bake brownies from a box (Ghiradelli) and the only thing I bake from scratch is an amazingly moist banana-raisin -chip loaf. My son adores it and appreciates it, my daughter won’t even try it because she hates any type of raisin and anything resembling a mushy banana. The only banana flavor she eats is mixed with strawberry in a pink container that has artificial  flavorings called yogurt. Sometimes, if my husband makes a smoothie (with ice and ice cream) she will drink it; when I make a smoothie it isn’t cold enough.

More importantly I wear my emotions like I would a soft new white scarf. Actually, you can see how I feel miles away. The worst offense, I’m mushy. My daughter is not. She keeps her feelings inside of her so even when I attempt to tone down my mushiness and delicately try to give her a compliment, she turns inwards. I wear my heart on my sleeve, you can see my emotions a mile or two away, my daughter keeps her feelings way deep inside her. I’m trying to connect with that but I’m not having much success. I know she loves me, I do know that and of course, I love her more than anything (read this kids: I love you both equally.)

When my daughter was very young, I was her world. She needed a lot of comforting and she could find that only in my arms, her tear-streaked face blanketing my neck like a worn-out washcloth. Now, she’s an amazing young woman, sure of herself, has a lot of friends, talks to me about them but her feelings are buried down deep. She is like my husband before my constant influence on him for the last 24 years. I want my daughter to know how much I love her, how proud I am of her, how I know she is incredibly intelligent and kind but I’m not sure I’m getting through. Yesterday, we spent the day together and I delicately told her how happy I was to spend time with her each week. I got this as a response: “ok.”

I feel frustrated but I guess my job as a mom is to make sure she knows I love her and that I will always be here to listen if she wants to talk. If I turn down my emotions any more I will be mute. The only thing I can do is wait and see what happens and accept her for who she is. I am happy that she talks to me about her friends, I am thrilled she is affectionate with her friends; I hope they can reach inside her wall and feel her beauty, her heart and her strength. I hope someday I will have the same privilege too.

The Moment ( HS Graduation 2011)

Cap Toss

Image by Herkie via Flickr

I never knew how high and wide the big white High School graduation tent was until I stood under it. I didn’t realize how massive it was until I wandered through it.  I walked through the aisles under the tent saying “Hi” and “Congratulations” to people I hadn’t seen in years.

I didn’t know how I would react when my son’s name was read over the microphone yet instinctively we stood and clapped and cheered and roared. I saw a young man walk back to his seat in slow motion; I didn’t realize it was my son; his face  looked so grown up. Teenagers age, I think,  once they put on their High School graduation caps and gowns; he looked six inches taller and six years older too.

It’s all a blur, the speeches and the people you smile at, familiar faces that you have seen in elementary school recitals or a middle-school play. The friends that you hug warmly are the best, closest friends that you have, that you have talked to all year, day in and day out, wondering anxiously if you and your child would ever make it to this grand day. We hold on to each other for an extra minute, sharing this surreal moment, not believing we are actually, finally, here.

They officials on the podium made an announcement to please refrain from clapping until all the students names have been read. Yeah, right. I felt sorry for the first few kids whose last name started with “A.” Those parents were very well-behaved; it just took one family to start…  There were further instructions from the podium to NOT clap for each student so I felt perfectly justified playing my silly game of selection. I did NOT clap for the kids that had ever been especially mean to my son (starting with kindergarten through 12th) and for the mean-spirited moms, dads and kids that everyone knew, were the culprits of spreading ill-will. It was like a silent victory lap for moms and dads; besides we all did the same thing.

I was proud of my self-control, all my sadness, tears, and sobbing began months before the actual event. On the day of graduation I smiled and laughed and was so proud of my son and the amazing young man he has turned out to be.  I was also filled with pride when his three best friends names were called, we shouted and clapped for each one. I will, undoubtedly, miss my son when he leaves for college but also, I will miss his friends, “the posse” as I called them or “The Entourage.” I have no doubt that they will see each other when they come home from college, but this long, lovely chapter of best friends and video games, parties, dinners, dates and diners has ended. I will miss that and my special group of “The Moms.”

Just when I thought the ceremony was over, the President of the High School, told the students that they had officially  graduated. The blue caps were flung in the air with unbridled joy and excitement. There was a deafening roar from the students and all my self-control evaporated in that moment; I burst out crying. It was so emotionally intense; it was captured in my mind and heart forever.

The graduates beamed so much that it looked like they were lit up from inside with joy and pride.  They were shining, like new copper pots or brand new pennies, excitement dancing in their eyes. Congratulations to my son and to all his friends and classmates; Congratulations to the Class of 2011!

Predicting My Future? Plinky Prompt

Brother and sister in the street of Qala-i-Sha...

Image via Wikipedia

  • Congratulations, Pass The Tissues
    Ten years ago my son was eight and my daughter was 6. I’m sure I thought about them graduating one day from High School  for a second or two but I was in a dense fog. I just had NO idea how I would feel. With a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old you don’t have time to think about the future; you are busy every minute with carpools and dance classes and baseball and swimming and lunches and snacks and dinner and shopping and playdates. Endless playdates with an equal amount of driving. My son graduates on Sunday and I have been crying a lot. I try to hide it from him, but sometimes he figures it out, it isn’t hard. One quick glimpse of my face and he knows, he senses it, he sees it. We understand each other without words. I expected him to graduate but I never thought how devastated I would feel. My brown-haired, brown-eyed first-born. I am thrilled with him no one could be prouder; his choice of colleges was fantastic. Change is hard for me and I never was good at saying “Good-Bye.” All my life, I’ve hated to say “Good-bye” to anyone I loved.
    My first-born son is leaving and I have written a lot about that in my blog. A year from now, my daughter, my blonde-haired baby will also graduate from High School. Twenty- one months apart yet only one grade year apart. I feel like I am being sucker punched constantly. In a year, my husband and I, will be “empty nesters” and while I am sure that we will enjoy it, now, it’s a bitter, lemon-sour word, near a very open, raw, wound.
  • Can anyone out there with a graduating Senior from High School relate?
  • Previous Answer

“(S)He’s Leaving Home, Bye, Bye”*

Kleinkind beim Laufen

Image via Wikipedia

(April, 2011)

My son, my first-born made his final decision for college in September. He’s excited, thrilled and after celebrating with him, I slipped away and am now holed up in my bedroom, sobbing. It’s not like I haven’t been prepared for this, it’s not like he’s still six it just feels like he was six a moment ago. He’s my boy and as much as I know how happy he is with his choice, the deposit put me over the edge. I fell apart; it was now official.

I know I am being ridiculous, this is not sudden bad news but it feels like a total shock to me. I am weeping and I can’t explain it except to say that while I am so happy for him, I feel vastly sorry for myself. This is my son, my first child, the kid I called “buddy” so many times my husband was worried people would think that was his name. This boy is a delight, a warm, compassionate, smart young man. At the age of 2 1/2 he stunned a grown-up friend when he used the word “compromise.” When the friend doubted him and asked him if he knew what that meant, he explained it beautifully: “If I want to go to bed at 9 and my daddy says 7 then we compromise in the middle.” You can’t argue with facts.

(June, 2011)

I lost it today, in the supermarket between the pizza rolls and the pizza bagels, two past favorite foods of my son. The tears welled up in my eyes and I started crying, quietly, discreetly but that was just strength of will on my part. I could have sobbed but I held myself together. My son is graduating High School in a week and a half. The day after, he leaves to go to his old camp to be a counselor. I never liked being left, that’s for sure. My parents left me alone a lot when I was younger so they could travel together in Europe. I would cry hysterically but once the yellow taxi disappeared from the view from my sixth floor kitchen window, I was alright.

I feel, like many other mothers and fathers feel that he is leaving me and us, the family. I know I am overreacting but this is how I feel. It’s a great thing, a joyful thing but the good feeling hasn’t caught up to my heart yet. In time, I’m sure it will. I just have to get used to it but it is a drawn out process.  I like to think that when he actually leaves FOR college I will be better, but who am I trying to kid?  I’ve never been great at change and this is a big one.

It doesn’t help that my daughter, only one grade year apart from her brother, will be a Senior in High School come September. This little girl of mine is smart, independent and always knew what she wanted from the minute she was born. She planned her birthday party themes four years in advance and stuck to each one of them. She is a fierce animal lover, and vegetarian, she is very smart, extraordinarily beautiful and has an incredible quick wit. This girl, wrapped her arms around my neck for years and wouldn’t let go. No one else could soothe her except me. Soon, she too, will be running out the door, this independent free spirit that I fervently admire.

In our hearts, our secret fear is that our sons and daughters will forget us. So, I am saying this now. Please remember we love you so much. Please don’t forget us or stop loving us. Keep in touch and the hug you give when you visit, try to make it last a second or two longer so that we can remember just how good it feels.

*Courtesy of The Beatles song

The Start Of Good-Bye

In two weeks my son will graduate from High School and head to his summer job, after that he will be going to college. This is harder than I thought it would be. It’s also brand new and I’ve never been too good with change.

Simple yet elegant prom corsage

I literally want to sink my head into my folded arms on my cheerful, flowery bedspread and cry. I want to cry loud and hard enough to erase the pain of change and sadness, new beginnings and endings. I want to cry for all the graduating seniors that will say good-bye in two weeks to their life-long friends, their girlfriends, their boyfriends, their parents, siblings, dogs, pets. I want to cry for me, I want to break down in unwavering sobs because it feels like I am losing my son to the future and I know that things will never be the same. Already, the “Seniors” have changed you can see it on their faces. Next year, my baby, my daughter will graduate High School as well.

I am a fluctuating emotional mess, happy, sad, crying, excited and miserable.  It is after prom and before graduation; it is the time in-between. The Pre-Prom party was at my son’s girlfriend’s lovely home. For me, it was like a Hollywood set, the girls with their glowing, shiny faces and beaming smiles, the sun streaming down on the back lawn highlighting their hair. Girls in long dresses of all colors: fuchsia, beige, royal blue, gold, gorgeous girls, each one of them, with the light in their eyes dancing, their faces sparkling. Their wrists adorned by delicate  wrist corsages awkwardly put on by their dates. I have known some of these girls since they were four. The young men in their tuxedos, stand tall and proud, handsome and mature. It felt like the tuxedo added years of wisdom and maturity to them.They stood brave and beaming, handsome and charming, strong and proud, very proud. Each one had a boutonniere shakily attached by nervous girls with manicured fingers.  My son posed willingly with the three best friends he has grown up with, solid friends, forever friends. He posed with his girlfriend, he posed with his family. This was a boy who refused pictures taken of him since he was nine.

These were not boys and girls anymore, here stood young men and young women going off very soon, to follow their dreams. Even though as parents we try to be prepared for the good-byes, it still hurts us. Like pieces of our heart literally being chipped off never to be repaired exactly like it was before. Our hearts still work but differently. With the young men and women’s new-found freedom, so too, comes pain. As a parent, not being able to prevent that pain is horrible yet I know, being a good parent means just that, letting them go solve their own problems, make their own mistakes.

As a mom, I am on an emotional roller coaster. Am I grieving beforehand like I usually do? Merely picturing graduation makes me wince. When my son actually leaves for college, I hope I will be just fine but anticipation is truly my downfall. I look at the photos I took of Pre-Prom over and over as if I will learn something new each time. Yet, every time I see the photos I see the same thing, utter, unblemished joy and happiness. As a parent, I wish that these things would continue but I know in a mere two weeks a lot of that joy will become heartache. It doesn’t seem fair does it? That is what growing up is all about, I’m afraid, there are always trade-offs.

These youngsters have precious little time to say good-bye to all their friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, best friends. I don’t envy their losses but I am happy for their new adventures. Tonight, on a dark and windy evening, I dread my own loss. My son is one of the nicest people I know, he is moving on and I will miss him. I love this boy of mine and in addition, I truly like him. Follow your dreams, first-born, the world will be a better place with you in it. That, I know, for certain. We will always be here for you, will always love you and support you unconditionally, when you are ready to leave, place that in your heart forever.

The Worst Flight I've Taken

_ People _

My husband and I and our two-year old son were flying home from a vacation in Oregon headed home to Boston, Massachusetts. Normally, we are the loving, sweet family but on this trip we were the couple to HATE. I wish I was kidding but I am afraid I am not. There are always people who roll their eyes, make nasty comments or try to change seats when there is a baby crying; we were the couple with the child that you wanted to stay far away from. I promise you, we tried EVERYTHING possible to stop our wailing, crying and screaming son and show you the quiet, tranquil, Buddha baby that he usually was.”Yeah, right” I’m sure you muttered under your breath. I know, you hated us; you even hated our poor innocent child. Frankly, I don’t blame you. Just remember, we tried so HARD; we walked our son up and down the corridors, we tried pacifiers, bottles, new diapers, toys, anything and everything to, well, put it bluntly, shut him up. I know you, fellow passengers, felt angry and bad but honestly, we felt worse. We didn’t want to inflict this pain on anyone, including our precious boy.
My husband and I (now that the precious child is 18 and graduating) still make faces when there are screaming children aboard, but we always remember the plane ride when we were the family to HATE, the couple from hell, and We try to have a little more patience and understanding.

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Saying Good-Bye To Oprah

Signature of American television personality, ...

Image via Wikipedia

I loved the peachy-pink dress you wore on the last show, Oprah. I didn’t think this last show would be your own last lecture, a love letter, a synopsis from you to your adoring fans but in retrospect, it was what you were all about. Teaching. I admit I wanted to be able to cry, with you, for you and for me and the rest of the world but you saved that, and rightly so, for the last ten minutes.  Your walk from the stage out was like watching a play, with emotion, but not with regret. How wonderful to be you.

I imagined I would get to see an emotional Oprah, one that showed your vulnerability, any slight doubt you had, any separation anxiety. But, I, was the one with the separation anxiety and loss, not you. I was the one who needed an emotional good-bye, you didn’t. Truly amazing. For the last twenty-five years I have grown up with The Oprah Winfrey Show. Today, even though I tape the shows I had to see it live.  “I have to watch Oprah from 4-5pm today” I told my children. They understood and at 16 and 18, they have their own favorite shows, their loyal friends, their own lessons to learn, their own truth to find. We will have to teach them what we learned from you.

Oprah, you have been a friend to me and to people all around the world. “Your life is speaking to you, what is it saying…?” For me, it is saying that I will miss you, that I have learned so much from you, that 4-5pm will feel empty without you. You told us that “when it was the right time to leave, there was no regret, not bittersweet, just sweet.”  I know I couldn’t be like that. Sometimes, I second guess myself but I know how to listen to my gut, to my feelings, to search inside my soul. I always knew that but you validated my feelings; you cheered me on as a woman and especially as a parent, as a stay at home mother.

Oprah is a teacher, an educator, a spiritual and religious woman, that was very clear today.  You were on our own, to thank us, the audience, for making you feel special and loved and validated.  “We too can find our own passion, in whatever way we choose. We can help people, be kind to one another and stave off bad karma by putting forward only good karma.” Yes, we have heard it before but it was good to hear it one last time. To remind us all of what is important, to be kind and give to others.

We will spread the love, we will spread the joy and the passion. You were the love of our lives too, Oprah, as we were yours. After 25 years, I have to say good-bye to a friend who has been on television all of my adult life. I grew up with you and I have learned a lot of lessons from you. I feel sorry for this new generation because they will not have you in their lives to teach them. We will just have to pass down what we have learned from you; as you see, you will be in our hearts forever.

I will say good-bye, because I have to. Thank you for all that you have done for this world. I will truly miss you.

I’m Participating in NaBloPoMo. May 1, 2011, “Maybe”

The Sandwich Generation

Image by MediaStorm via Flickr

It’s my mother’s birthday we are all celebrating with her. I also have to go with my son  a senior in high school to get fitted for a tuxedo for the prom. I’m being pulled in two directions at the same time. Maybe, I should stop worrying so much about what other people think and just do the best job I can. I’m not perfect but I am trying to be kind to everyone. I don’t think it’s working. I feel stressed.  I want today to be fun for everybody but I just can’t shake the feeling that my mom will be upset that I am leaving her brunch (after two hours) to do something for my son. The “Sandwich Generation” I truly cannot win but I know I am not alone in this situation. I thought I was over being a “people-pleaser” I guess not.