Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

Shaking my 15-year-old self.

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Today, after I read a post over at Nucking Futs Mama, where she asked, “What did you learn this week?” (go read it–she’s great), I’ve been thinking about what I learned. (Warning: somewhat self-indulgent and treacly. Must be hormones. Or the inmates have finally gotten to me here at the asylum.)

I wondered if I should write about how I learned that getting the Shout stain stick on the enchilada stain ASAP can be the difference between a great pair of white shorts and heartache,

Or how apparently tomato plants really seem to thrive with hot, dry soil and benign neglect (if the jungle I’ve got growing is any indication),

Or how the smoke alarm’s repeated shrieking (due to construction dust) will push an otherwise smart, capable Goldendoodle to hide out in a steamy hot car in the driveway and refuse to come inside (after the alarm was disabled) even when offered bologna to do so?

But then something fun and wonderful happened that got me thinking remembering. I got an email from an old friend from my elementary/middle/high school years. We’ve known each other a loooong time, he and I (oh, stop those waggling eyebrows. It was never that way.). We had touched base here and there throughout the (many) years and lost contact here and there too. We reconnected earlier this summer when I found myself his current city.

So what did I remember after reading that email? Many things, about growing up in rural NJ, about long rural route bus rides to school, about friendships that were more mature than we probably realized at the time. (BTW, none of that was in his email, in case you all {and he} are wondering if it said something that triggered all this navel gazing.) But the most important thing I remembered?

I remembered feeling, back then, like a fish out of water, like an ugly duckling, like a…(choose your misfit animal simile and insert here) _________. And then what I remembered, and what had me almost dancing through the Target parking lot* and laughing to myself (got the email in question on my “mobile device” {which may or may not be a Droid [but Google, you’re still dead to me]}) was the following:

It’s all good! All really good!

My husband is the best person I know, my children are awesome, my house is lovely, I’m in the best shape of my life — never going to be a size 2 but I could bench press you, my hair is more fabulous than it’s ever been — and still no hair dye for me!, my dogs are sweet and adore me, my truck/car/vehicle is kickass big and fun, I have incredible friends who think I’m smart and funny (and tell me when I’m not), my parents are healthy, and I lucked out in the in-law department.

My husband and I still like to travel together, talk together, laugh together.  My kids are really smart and funny and cute (sometimes).

My house is a wreck, but the good kind of wreck that is caused by happy healthy children who are attempting to make their mother crazy. I’d love to weigh 15 pounds less but I love a cold cocktail more and hate the gym even more than that.  After decades of really not loving the redheaded curly life, I found Mecca with Carlos at Mario Diab and so all is better now.

Although my dogs sometimes eat the mouldings from the dining room, I can’t blame them because a) fiber in the diet is important and b) have you seen what dog food really looks like?

My truck/car/vehicle uses a lot of gas (driving children hither and yon does that) but here in Jersey we don’t pump our own gas and I know the local Exxon guy by name.

I have the kinds of friends who hang up from a conversation with me and then send me an email to say that they’re still laughing about something I said. The kinds of friends who throw in with me — logistics be damned, no questions asked — when I propose a long weekend in December full of cold drinks and warm sand. (But really, wouldn’t you?)

I still talk to my parents daily — and the conversations are (generally) not about aches, pains, medications, or lost memories (unless it’s my aches/pains/medications/memory loss), and we vacation every year with my husband’s family and it’s fun.

Have I got it great or what? Waterless fish, aesthetically challenged water fowl be damned.

*By the way, if you dance in a WalMart parking lot like a crazy person, I’d bet no one would notice (although you might end up on that fabulous website about the people of WalMart). However, if you were to dance in the Target parking lot like a crazy person, you might have some ‘splainin’ to do. There are a number of fine hospitals in the area with professionals ready to help.

Higher education.

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

I took my oldest child, our daughter, to a residential writing program at Bryn Mawr College this morning called Girls Dream Out Loud. The two week program focuses on writing, dramatic arts and fine arts for girls (middle school through high school). This is the second year of the program, and it looks — on paper — to be wonderful, and it feels — in person — to be fabulous.

Walking into her dorm room, which she’ll share with another girl for the next two weeks, was like walking back in time. The building is very old — historic, really — not unlike some of the buildings on my own college campus. The two beds were on opposite sides of an uncarpeted floor, window a/c in the tiny window, one closet for the two of them, bathroom down the hall. The buzz of move in day was not unlike what will be going on in dorms all across American in another month or so. New bedding, clip on lights, fans, shower shoes, the whole thing. If I didn’t know better, I could convince myself that it was *my* moving day, or her freshman moving day. Could’ve been 23 years ago — or four years from now. Just as my parents did on my first day of college, I left my girl with her schedule for orientation and her schedule for the next two weeks. She hugged me goodbye, and nodded sagely when I repeated the same things I told her every day as she got on the school bus (“Be smart, be wise, be kind to all you meet.”) And then we went our separate ways — she, back into the old dorm to await the “ice breaker” portion of the afternoon, and I, back to the car to head home to the other awaiting monkeys.

The first child is an interesting force in a mother’s life. Although all of her children are unique, the first child is who actually teaches the woman to be a mother. Before getting pregnant with the first, you have no idea what your body will or won’t do. After that first pregancy, you have a barometer for what is “normal” for you. That first baby’s birth sets the stage for all other births — did you have a c? Can you VBAC? How long was labor?

That first baby’s personality molds who you are as a mother. Did you have a colicky baby? Then you learned coping mechanisms that I didn’t need to. Did you have a sleeper? Then perhaps you learned to be laid back and relaxed, or perhaps you were nervous and hovered over the crib, checking for a rising and falling chest.  Did you have a cooperative toddler? Or one who power struggled? It is amazing how such a small force – – 8 lbs 8 oz — can shape and mold the adults around her!

As for me, our  first child was, and is, a pretty easy going child. She and I learned about the value of scheduling and routine, to the point where she would take herself upstairs for a nap (or “quiet time”) when lunch was over. (I’d be cleaning up the dishes and turn to see her heading upstairs for naptime.) She modeled discipline: when we told her she had to leave her nuk (pacifier) in her room if she wanted to keep it (she was probably 3 at the time), she readily agreed but would take breaks during the day to head upstairs and “take a hit” off the nuk…and she never brought it downstairs.

She wasn’t — and really, still isn’t — terribly silly and was hard to make laugh. But oh, when she laughed, it was (and is) a glorious sound. She really means it. And that taught me, as a mother, to relish the times when she laughed, and to really be present for those moments.

She wasn’t nervous today about being dropped off for her 2 week program. It is her first time away from home, and she knows no one there. But her demeanor reminds me that such new experiences are invaluable, are a part of growing up, and that she is well prepared for them. As her mother, I’m awed that she’s got such self-assurance at almost-14. I don’t think I had that. As her mother, I’m grateful, and as her mother I’m proud of her. And as her mother, I’m going to miss her these next two weeks!

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