To the one who made it all possible…

Happy Mother’s Day Mom.

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I’ve spent my entire 35 years trying to please my very intense, Marine father.  However, I have not once felt the need to “try” to make my mother proud.  She just always is proud of me and has always made me feel very secure in her love.

I call her every day, with no particular topic or question at hand-just because I enjoy hearing her voice.  We are very different people.  My daughter is much more like her than I was, am, or ever can aspire to be.  They are both people-pleasers, always concerned about others, always trying to make people happy.  They have a genuine empathy that is instilled in their hearts and could not be faked.  They can both be very affected by things people say or do, albeit unintentional or just an offhand comment.  I am much more nonchalant and things roll off my back much more quickly and I am definitely not all sweetness and goodness as those two are.

My mother has set the bar so high for parenting it is almost impossible to attain.  She worked full time my entire childhood, cooked meals every single day, packed lunches, did all the laundry, sewed, quilted, gardened, painted and built…she is more Martha Stewart than Martha Stewart.  To this day, I ask her to hem pants or fix a pillow or any other chore that to her is routine, but to me a major undertaking.  Just recently, she revamped a too-large tablecloth into the right size, making the excess material into matching napkins and pillows for my sun porch.  Over the past 15 years she has taken care of her two elderly parents, her aging mother-in-law and helped all of them to die with dignity.  She has watched her children have children and has become the role model my daughter so desperately emulates.  She is the “fun” Nana who takes B hiking and playing outside and yes, shopping too!  She is a fitness fanatic and has instilled that love of the outdoors and exercise in both me and my daughter.

We are so different I sometimes have trouble understanding her reasons and her upsets.  When she is stressed out, I have a hard time being compassionate, as that’s not something I “get”.  I often say that I won’t allow stress in my life…I feel it is a choice and drama that I don’t have time to allow in.  She doesn’t understand the bittersweet feelings of remarriage and divorce and single parenting.  She’s been with the same man since she was 19.  (She conceived ME on her wedding night)!

Yet, sometimes, she still surprises me with a bout of open-mindedness.  Recently I told her the Twilight books were incredibly good and since I don’t usually love fiction and especially not popular fiction, she listened.  She’s now on the third book and surprisingly completely addicted!  My daughter and I adore movie nights at her house, where we snuggle up and eat junk food.

She is passionate and strong and hopelessly in love with my father.  She’s curious and loyal and always there.  Getting angry with her can upset me like nothing else can.  She’s ridiculously wrapped around my 9 year-olds finger and it both makes me envious and warm inside, all at the same time.  I can’t begin to imagine a day when she is not there.  I’m not sure I would be able to go on, without her in this world.  It gives me hope that my daughter too, might feel I am necessary, needed…long after she actually needs my physical presence every day.

Thank you Mom…I love you.  You have done the most exceptional job of mothering I have ever seen.  Thank you for giving me everything and then some.  For traveling to stores far away so I could have those Guess jeans back in 10th grade.  For allowing me all the sports and clubs and activites that kept you running for all my teenage years.  For hunting down a Cabbage Patch kid when I was crying each night because I wanted one so badly. For making every Christmas, Easter and even St. Patrick’s Day magical.  For gifting me with the most idyllic childhood imaginable.  For lying in bed with me, spooning behind me and holding me as I cried myself to sleep, the night my first husband left our home and I drove to your house, 7 months pregnant.  For supporting me as I stubbornly held onto my home for three years after leaving my husband.  For helping me when I bought a house in a more convenient location.  For being so happy when I remarried and built a new family.  For….just being.  I love you more than you can ever know.  And I appreciate it.  Every last thing…every day of the last 35 years, and 4 months.  There is no other you.  How lucky am I?

Happy 35th Mother’s Day Mom.

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Break into Spring!

Our neighborhood is fabulous for a growing 9 year old girl!  We stayed home for spring break, since we usually travel during February break, when it’s just dreadful here in NY.  Spring break is sunny and smells good and fun for bike riding and rollerblading and yes…trampolining!  I love that we have little girls B’s age next door, but I hardly see her anymore!  It shows me what its going to be like as she gets older and has this “life of her own”.  I know its the point of parenting to raise independent children who make the right choices on their own, but does anyone else feel a bit sad too?  I don’t feel quite as needed.  I think B feels it too…she pops her head in periodically and yells, “Mom???  I LOVE you!”.  Here we go-the beginning of her taking care of me.

August 17th.

This is the day that I married B’s Daddy.  Way back in 1996.  I don’t think I regret that.  Not exactly.  Except that I could have gotten this amazing little girl through a one night stand with him and spared myself all these years of rebuilding, healing and then regressing, only to rebuild again.  Permanent healing?  Does that exist?  I’m guessing not.  It would have been our 12 year anniversary.  And it’s…not.  Every year this day is remotely painful, no matter how fabulous my life is at that moment.  It still feels like exactly what it is-a failure.  

I’m not always as positive as some of you think…lately I’ve been a little more down and actually missing having my own home and my single mama days.  I like being alone a little more than I am, and not having anyone to “answer” to.  The new marriage still feels so, well, “new”.  Even though it’s to someone I’ve known for a long time.  I’ve never lived with anyone other than my ex-husband and that, well, it’s that part that takes getting used to.  It’s not just a new husband, it’s a stepson too.  Am I really cut out for this?  Stepson comes home today, until next Sunday, then he’ll go to his non-custodial mom again for a week.  It’s been very quiet this summer, with him visiting his mom so frequently.  Wondering how we’ll get used to it all again once school begins.  He’s a much, much different type of person than the rest of us.

Time to get moving and get some planning done for the new school year.  I’m hitting paranoia about the new job and the first day of school in front of a pile of high school kids, trying to teach them some subjects they don’t really want to partake in (Chemistry/Physics).  Thanks for listening.

And her pride in her country goes on…

The girl knows no bounds.  I shipped her off to her Daddy’s like this today:

I’m preppy, a bit more conservative…not nearly as well accessorized.  This girl pulls it all together in a flashy, glam, trendy way.  It’s nice to see that most of my tomboy-ness did not wear off.  She’s the perfect mix.  She’s going to fireworks tonight with her Dad’s family (it’s his weekend darn it), and we took her via boat to see some last night.  Sitting on the front of the boat, talking about well, really nothing at all, I got to thinking how our traditions change depending on who we are with.  With my new husband, we take his sister and her husband and our two lovely nieces out on the boat tonight, along with his parents, to watch fireworks.  That’s obviously a new one.  B and I have always celebrated on our own or at a BBQ with my parents before now.  Divorce changed our normal routine of going to the parades and family things all together.  

What are your 4th of July traditions?  Have they changed over time?

 

I will never change our Christmas ones.  For some reason those seem much more concrete.

My worst fears.

This is in response to a contest posted by Ms. Single Mama about posting your worst fear.  I have to list two because they both rattle me right to the tip of my size 7 shoes (usually flip flops actually).  

My first fear is regarding my daughter.  Although she’s only 8, I’m perpetually worried about the day that she will rise out of bed and be a teenager, who no longer cares about snuggle parties watching movies with her mama in bed, no longer choose me first in her options of things to do for fun, no longer speak to me with admiration and respect and no longer come home telling me that I’m the coolest mom and she’s so lucky she’s got me.  I worry that I won’t ever again crawl into her bed and wake hours later with her long, gawky legs wrapped around me and her sweet breath in my face.  I worry that her freckles will fade, her chest will grow and she will not change uninhibited or shower with me anymore.  No more shooting each other with the handheld shower head singing “shower fountain fun, shower fountain, FUNNNN!”.  I worry even more since she got braces and her face seems to be reshaping into this shockingly pretty young lady.  No longer a baby fat laden, little girls face with braids hanging down on either side of those darling freckles.  I horribly worry that she’ll become one of those angst-riddled teens who are angry and bitter and walk around with arms crossed and scowling faces.  Those girls I see in church who looks so miserable.  My little girl has often been touted as “the happiest little girl I’ve ever seen, nothing rattles her” by all who meet her.  My biggest fear is that her outrageously sunny disposition will change, like people say it’s bound to, when she’s a teenager, and I’ll lose the little person I know now.  How will I conquer this fear?  I’m doing all I can to make sure this doesn’t happen.  There are no guarantees, but she and I have one of the most open and honest relationships I’ve ever seen.  We discuss nearly everything and have daily talks about all sorts of things.  I never, never yell and never talk down to her.

 I never make her feel that her ideas are small, or that there is anything she can’t tell me.  We talk about things that aren’t even real problems now, but might be later.  We talk about when she gets older and dating and drugs and peer pressure come along.  I tell her every day how special she is, in hopes that she will have that confidence and self-esteem to know what’s right.  When she was younger, we practiced learning empathy and other moral virtues, by following certain books, such as this one, Building Moral Intelligence: The Seven Essential Virtues That Teach Children to do the Right Thing” by Dr. Michelle Borba. (Highly recommended, my daughter is incredibly empathetic and I credit this book and it’s exercises for that one).  I plan on keeping a close relationship with her by making sure that no matter how busy we are, we have special times alone together.  I will take her out of school occasionally, as long as she is doing well academically, for day trips with Mommy where we talk on our car ride and go shopping or to the movies or museums and re-connect.  By taking vacations alone together where we can get some much needed bonding time as she gets older and more independent.  In short, I plan on carving out a niche in what’s sure to be her busy social calendar.  At eight, nearly nine, I’ve already had to do this as she embarks on her busy athletic and social schedule.  I’ve told her about this fear and she swears it won’t happen to us.  And I’ve told her this will happen, that at times (gasp) I thought Nana was just the most awful unfair mother ever.  But now, I see that she was right.  I tell her that no matter how mad she gets at me, nothing I ever do will ever be without reason, that she can always try to show me that her side is reasonable and explain why it’s valid.  But I will have the final say, and it will always, always be in her best interests.  When all else fails and she shouts the refrain oft heard by mothers of teenage daughters, “You don’t even love me!”, I will pull out of my work desk drawer a tiny notebook I’ve kept since she was born that professes my love for her on a regular basis.  I’ve written love notes to her in this tiny journal, during dull spaces at work, whenever I thought of something good to tell her (money, boyfriends, death, relationships).  But they always tell her how much I love her.  I think if she reads that, she’ll see.  That’s why I plan on giving it to her when she’s 16.  That’s my plan for this one.  I will just do my best to raise her in a strong, assured way.  And when these fears creep into my head, I will squash them immediately by looking back at that little journal where the first sentence begins…”Tomorrow you will be three months old and I wanted to send you letters that I will give you when you are old enough”.  When I read through those pages it eliminates those fears because I know she will see easily how loved she’s always been.  I’m also teaching her an “appeal” procedure to use when she feels something is unfair that I’ve decided.  That helps to eliminate controversy as well.  

My other fear…bats.  When I was 17 I was sneaking back into the house after coming in late from something or other and went to shut my bedroom window.  Shockingly something flew towards me, tangled in my hairsprayed head and kept flying.  I screamed and ran out of the room.  Running out of his bedroom in his tighty-whities was my Dad.  When he saw what was up, he chased it around and I hid in the living room (my brother had shut his bedroom door in fear and wouldn’t let me in).  Finally he got it to land and he punched it, knocked it out and carried it outside.  To this day, my fear of bats paralyzes me.  But in writing this, I realized that latter fear of bats is physical and psychological-whereas the former is just completely way too real.

As for my fear of bats-I’m going to sit outside one night this summer when they are really flying overhead around the lights down by the marina and just let them fly.  It’s an immersion therapy approach and definitely works.  When I was afraid of snakes as a college student, I went to an area pet store and asked to hold several.  It really did work!

Thanks Ms.SingleMama, this was FUN!  (And chilling).

Lightning McQueen Red Please!

Or so my stepson said when I asked what he wanted his room to look like.  It was time to cover up the Thomas the train mistake that his Daddy’s ex-girlfriend had painted on there a long time ago.  It was so fun to laugh at though!

And the really bad painting job she did (jab,jab)…

And it became THIS!

And then I ran this race with my Mom the next day!

And we did well!!!  Can’t wait for the next one.