Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Break

Katie was home on spring break last week. I am so grateful that this is where she chose to be while many of her friends opted for sunny climates and carefree, parent-less adventures (and who could blame them?).

 The week with my girl went by way too fast, and I want her back.

 I want her back so that we can savor the many, many good times and stretch every awesome second out of them, but I also want her back so that I can pull out my handy little wite-out pen and smooth over the few bumpy parts of our week. The times when I said the wrong thing (or just said it one time too many), or when my exasperation about her way of doing something (read between the lines…not my way) came through loud and clear.  I hate those moments. I am immediately filled with regret, even when I know that many, probably most, of the things I say are things that she needs to hear.

These moments, the good and the bad, happen every day in every kitchen of every mom that I know. We do the best we can in that moment, but sometimes we really miss the mark.

 I am a mom who apologizes. If I get myself all worked up over an issue, or situation or teenage eye roll and then something harsh, or less kind than I intended comes out of my mouth, I will apologize. But I expect the same in return when it’s my child with the fresh tone, or snarky comment, or utter disregard for everything I’m doing (luckily this last one is rare). I will also apologize is I find out after the fact that I was wrong about something; a situation, a friend, or even just a trivial fact that I was so sure was correct. Again, I hold the kids to the same standard, with me, and with the other people in their lives. It’s a good balance, a give and take, and it works for us.

I am also a mom that speaks her mind. I can’t help it. The words are out before I can stop them. If you ask for my opinion, I will gladly give it. The trouble often comes when the opinion is out there and no one even asked for it. I was out last night with a bunch of really great ladies (subbing at Bunco – so much fun). One mom, whom I adore and wish I knew better, was talking about biting her tongue and not giving her opinion to her 21 year old daughter about a boy that the daughter really likes. I can understand trying to bite your tongue if you think it’s a mistake, or if the boy is no good, but this mom would like nothing better than for her daughter to give this boy and this relationship a chance. I would NEVER be able to keep that to myself. Truly. I know I should really try, and that one day my kids may have to silence me with a big, fat “butt out”, but it is just so hard.

So I say all this because these types of things are what make up the fabric of our family. It is the flawed and beautiful story of our lives, our collective memory, where we weave our relationships together built on mutual respect, give and take, good times, bad times, lessons learned, tears of sorrow and sadness and tears of laughter and pure joy shared together. Sometimes I say the right thing -- sometimes I don't.   I like to believe that at the end of any given week, there is far more good than bad, far more talking and sharing and hugging and texting with little happy, kissing, smiley face emoticons (I really love getting those!) than harsh words, loud silences and hurt feelings. And I really do believe that on balance we err really far on the side of the good stuff. We are very lucky. If one week is bad, or particularly hard, the next brings just the right amount of joy and laughter to fill the gap of the week before. I guess that’s how life works. One foot in front of another. Tomorrow is another day. Sunday starts another week.

All of this brings me back to Katie’s spring break. With only one week together, I always wish for everything to be perfect. But it can’t be. I’m not perfect. She’s not perfect (although, she’s close…insert kissing, smiley face emoticon here!). I hope she got off the plane and headed back to her dorm filled with a week full of good memories. I hope that she too used her little wite-out pen to smudge out our less than perfect moments. And I hope above all, that she returned to school with the overwhelming sense that her mom loves her with everything she has and everything she is. Because I do.

Here are some of the highlights of our week...

Cole picked Katie up at the airport and drove her straight to Abbey's performance of Dear Edwina. It was a complete and very happy surprise for Abbey, who thought that Katie would not see the show until the next day.

 This is one very proud big sister. Katie performed on this very stage for three years and is thrilled beyond belief to see her sister on it.
So, so proud of my little Periwinkle

Katie, Cole and I had a road trip to the DC area for a few doctors appointments. Cole has some upcoming sinus surgery and needed an evaluation, and Katie had her very final appointment, after two plus years, with her completely amazing maxillofacial surgeon. She had very extensive jaw surgery (orthognathic surgery) last June, something I will write about soon, when I can work up enough courage. 
While this may not sound like a highlight, it actually was. We absolutely LOVE Katie's doctor and his entire staff, so it was great to see them. We also squeezed in some really fun shopping at Banana Republic -- my favorite store these days! The bad part is, I think it is now Cole's favorite store too. Oops, I created this monster! But it was really a highlight because Katie and I had Cole in the car for a total of almost 8 hours that day. That much time with Cole almost never happens. He was funny, and fun and just a joy to be with, but he is a very social creature and does not spend a great deal of time at home with us these days. We laughed and talked and listened to a few episodes of This American Life (one of my very favorite things) through the magic of the iPod. We capped off the drive home with a stop at the Maryland House rest stop. Katie and I opted for our favorite road trip food, Nathan's Hot Dogs. Cole went off the board with this...
It was some sort of Fried Seafood Extravaganza. Not what I would choose at a rest stop. Katie and I were skeptical, but Cole proclaimed it the best rest stop food ever!

Katie and I had  planned a trip into NYC to pick up some dance shoes that had been a Christmas gift. We knew we would see a show while we were there. Katie decided to invite Abbey along on her "mom day", so we pulled Abbey our of school and went to see...

It was spectacular! We had such an amazing time! The children in the cast were phenomenal. We actually got to talk to them after the show while we were all waiting for our cars in the parking garage. They were so sweet and little, and their smiles beamed from ear to ear. My girls were thrilled.

 Abbey in Time Square

 Bad iPhone pictures -- but very happy girls. We got home very late, and Abbey was really tired the next day, but it was soooo worth it.

All of this fun AND my first born turned twenty while she was home. Happy birthday, Katie. It was a good week.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

This Really is It!

One night, about two weeks ago, through a series of clicks and wanderings on the computer, when surely I should have been doing any number of  "more important things", I came upon this video. It is worth every second of the 5:31 it will take you to watch it (plus the few extra seconds you'll need to get up and get a tissue when the tears are streaming down your face).  Go ahead...I'll wait.

Kelly Corrigan

Wow, right?  Kelly so beautifully and eloquently put into words exactly how I feel about being a mom to my kids. What a privilege and honor it is to be their mom (except in those moments when they are torturing me about something :) )  My whole purpose for finally starting this blog (read here) was to write/reflect/urge myself through this stage in motherhood where I don't feel my footing is as strong as it was when my little people were grabbing me around the legs or twirling my hair while I held them on my hip, frantically trying to throw dinner together before Mike walked in the door. I may not have known it then, but those were the easy days. 

I have never regretted one moment of my choice to be at home all of these years, but every one in a while, when I hear of a friend or school mate who is a mom AND has some fabulous career, I wonder if I'll be able to find that calling or purpose in the future, or, more importantly, if anyone will see my value after all of these years.

After listening to Kelly, I've spent more time reflecting on all of the amazing days and years with my little ones,

 and trying to savor exactly what's happening right now, this minute, with each of them. 

 I'm trying to worry less about where this road will take me, and just enjoy the ride. The future, my future, will sort itself out when the time is right.

 I still miss the early days with my beautiful, sweet babies, but i wouldn't go back... not really. They have grown into such interesting, complicated, fabulous, kind, smart people. It was such a great journey getting to this point. I am so grateful for all of it. Don't get me wrong, it's not all sweetness and light at my house all the time (as I'm sure my kids could tell you), but it's real and it's ours, and there is no place else I would rather be.  Thank you, Kelly Corrigan, for the beautiful reminder.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Don't Forget to Breathe

So... it's been a week since my last blog post.

 I started to feel overwhelmed thinking that some of my ideas for posts might not make for good reading. And then I froze. Talked myself right out of writing for an entire week. I do that sometimes. Make something small into something huge in my mind. It grows and grows, and then I forget to breathe.

"Don't forget to breathe" is a phrase I'm very familiar with these days.  I hear it over and over while working out with Vinny, my amazing and ever-patient trainer. He met me a year and half ago when I began working out for the first time in my entire life at age 46. Apparently, when a particular exercise gets too difficult for me, I hold my breath. Still. So a constant refrain of "don't forget to breathe" follows me around the gym (more on my fitness and health odyssey very soon. There will be a few good laughs in that story).

 If only I had a "life trainer" reminding me to breathe when things get tricky in real life.

And then today, I just decided that whether or not what I write is stellar, it is still more than I was writing three weeks ago. And the hilarious part of all this worry is that hardly anyone in the world even knows this blog exists. I think five people (one being my niece) have seen it so far. But those of you that have seen it, have been so kind and complimentary, and I didn't want to let you down. If we're going to have this relationship, you may as well know that I worry far too much about what other people think. I'm working on it. My goal was to break myself of this habit by the time I turned forty. My new goal is fifty. We'll see how that goes.

So for today, I just really needed to get this off my chest. For today, this is enough.

  Lots more posts brewing on the topics of decluttering, overindulged versus spoiled children (and I think there's a big difference), mean girls of the teen and grown-up varieties, my amazing book club women, my favorite place on earth (hint: bottom left hand corner of my banner), my absolute love of NPR and specifically Ira Glass, and solo travel (a gift everyone should give themselves at least once in a while).

So while I figure out the best time to get all of those thoughts in print, I'm going to try to not be so hard on myself.

And if your day isn't turning out exactly as planned, or the kids are sick, or it's snowing (again) where you live, or you're just second-guessing yourself, just remember --  don't forget to breathe.