Follow by Email

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Failure

Dear Darlings,

Sometimes I fail at this parenting thing so much my heart can't handle the impact. Sometimes guilt weighs heavily on me...feeling like I failed at parenting you. Now is one of those times. What caused my feelings of failure is neither here nor there, at this point. It's simply the fact that I failed, in some epic way, to impart a crucial piece of parenting advice. Your failure became, by default, mine

And my heart is in a million, tiny pieces, thinking about this failure of mine.

The thing is, all of you are so wildly different. What parameters and rules work for one of you, doesn't necessarily translate to another. So with each of you, it's back to square one, and learning all over again. Sometimes, it's like trying to keep up with a three-ringed circus.  Zach, you can handle a hard hand and strict rules. Lucas, you need a little more gentle approach. And Claire, well, you basically parent yourself, coming to us with words of wisdom well beyond your years. But then the universe shifts a little and suddenly you need some other way of being parented, and I somehow missed that memo, so I failed you and my parenting test.

I know I shouldn't feel like this. I know you kiddos are are blessed with free will. I know that, deep down inside, but sometimes I wish your free will would be damned and you would just bend to my will. I'm the mom, for heaven's sake! I'm supposed to know what's best, right? Except, in this instance, I didn't know what was best and the pull of your free will was too strong for me.

And this got me to thinking...

Sometimes, I truly miss the times of diapers and cribs. That may have been the most physically taxing part of parenting you, but I knew where you were. I knew what you were doing. I knew when I put you in your cribs at night, you would be there the next morning. I knew I couldn't fail you as long as I fed you, bathed you, comforted you and loved you. This time, right now, is more mentally challenging, more exhausting and far scarier than it ever was when you were babies. The stakes are incredibly high, it's not just about feeding and loving, it's about helping you to learn to navigate the entire world. Failures now come with a huge price tag. Diapers and cribs are a walk in the park.

But I guess sometimes I need to let you fail on your own to help you learn and grow. Sometimes, maybe, I enable you too much so you don't fail when really you should. Sometimes, maybe the protective lioness in me comes out and I try to swipe away all those obstacles that would force you to learn and fail and thrive.

Just know, my sweet loves, that I never mean to fail you or this thing called parenting. Sometimes it just happens, but we'll work together to find a resolution and a positive way forward. That's what family is all about...failing, making mistakes, learning, forgiving and most of all loving.


oh, for the love of my children...

Monday, February 6, 2017

Eff civility

Dear Darlings,

Okay. Okay. I told you a couple of weeks ago I try hard to stay out of political discussions. I try hard to stay just a mom blogger, but things are out of control. Civility is gone. It's run amok. It's just vanished. "Eff civility," some say. "Eff anyone who doesn't agree with me," others say.

I say, "eff all of that!" We need civility and I'll tell you why...

A little more than eight years ago Barack Obama ran a tough campaign against John McCain and won. Handily. One of my favorite hockey mamas and I were on opposite sides of nearly every aspect of the campaign, polar opposites, actually. Diametrically opposed, you might say.  She wanted things out of our government that I couldn't fathom. I wanted things she felt were wrong for our citizens. We debated. Fiercely, heatedly and often. Eye-to-eye was not a place we were. But we were civil in our discussions. I may have stomped my feet to be heard over her raised voice, but never a derogatory word about each other, or to each other, was ever uttered. I respected her passion for what she believed in, even if it didn't mesh with what I wanted for our country. She remains one of my favorite people, and I enjoy our differences of opinion. I love that we can spar and go around, but still come back to middle ground, maintaining our decorum, dignity and civility.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, I have a family member who got into a heated debate with another guest at our house on Christmas Day last year. My family member asked a question about whether or not the detention camps were a necessity during World War II (yes, World War II). My guest disagreed with the family member, who promptly responded with, "Well, then you're a fucking idiot," (and no he didn't just say Eff, he dropped the real eft-bomb)! Relations were strained and now we all walk on egg-shells when those two are around each other. Our guest usually bows out of any invitation where our family member will be present, and with good reason. Our family member decided to tell civility to eff off.

Fast forward to last night and the Super Bowl. I hate the Patriots. Actually I despise them, and I have for more years than I can remember. I think they're all a bunch of arrogant asses, led by one of the most supreme arrogant asses ever to walk this earth. (Kind of like some world leader we all know.) I had mini-meltdown after mini-meltdown in the fourth quarter as the Patriots started storming back from a 25 point deficit, as is evidenced in this video Claire decided to post on social media.

Stan piped in with, "See this is what is wrong with our country right now. You're not a Falcons fan, but you hate the Patriots so much that you are rooting for whoever is against them. You don't really care if the Falcons win, you just don't want the Patriots to win."

And to some degree he was right. (Although, in my defense, I had been reading up on them. I loved the fact that the Falcons honored our fallen troops by wearing initials of those who have sacrificed their lives for us on their helmets.) I just wanted the Falcons to beat the holy, living tar out of the Patriots. I didn't get my wish, but Stan proved his point this morning when he asked, "Do you know what the number-one-trending-tweet is right now? #NotMySuperBowlChamps."

Here's the thing...the Patriots, as much as it pains me to say this, WON. They won the Super Bowl, fair and square. They are the champions. And I have to accept it. I was powerless to stop their march toward victory. There is nothing I could ever have done to change the outcome, as much as I hate it. I will be gracious from this day forward as they bask in their victory. But I can tell you, I don't want them to win next year.

To me, this is such a parallel between the Super Bowl champs and our political situation right now. But here's the difference, we have the power to change our political culture. The power is in our voices and in our votes. We live in the best country in the entire world. Hands down. without a doubt, the best country in the world is ours. Lady Gaga delivered a powerful message last night with her performance...

This land is your land. This land is my land. This land was made for you and me.

It's okay to disagree. It's okay to have mini-meltdowns and stomp feet and raise voices, but we need to hear each other. We need to agree to disagree sometimes. We need know that we have the power to change what we don't like. But we need to stop bashing each other. Telling civility to eff off should have no place in this political climate. WE need to be the bigger people, to lead by example, when our leader doesn't. We need to cling to civility. 

For the love of all of our children...


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Trust me

Dear Darlings,

Sometimes I really don't know how I got here.

Today was Claire's very last day of class room driver's ed. She'll start behind the wheel in a couple of weeks, and not long after that she'll be a fully licensed driver, free to roam about the streets of least to places we allow her to go. Anyway, that's really not where I'm going with this blog. I'm not planning to wax poetic about the fact that the baby of my babies is now almost old enough to handle being behind the wheel of a multi-thousand pound weapon. Nor am I planning to lament and whine and cry about time passing so quickly.

What I want to talk about is ME. Claire's class ended extremely early today and in order to be let out of the building I had to walk in, show my face and pick up my daughter and her friend. This is the text she sent me...

The part that got me was when she said, "...but you have to come inside to insure (sic) that we are leaving safely." 

As I was walking into pick her up, I caught a glimpse of my self in the window. I don't look like someone who should be trusted with ensuring somebody else's safety. Today, I got a glimpse of myself from waaaay back when. And I couldn't believe that I should be the trusted adult. How the heck did I get here? I feel like it wasn't all that long ago I was the teenager waiting to be picked up. 

There have been many days in the time of parenthood where I have wondered how the heck someone else would trust me with another human's life.. Like all three times the hospitals have sent me home with helpless newborns. What the heck did I ever do to earn that kind of trust? Or anytime I have had to sign medical papers allowing doctors to work on my kiddos? I should have no say in anything relating to the medical realm. Or today, when I was the trusted adult. The one who had to walk into a a building to check Claire out of class. How did I get to be the trustworthy one? I still feel like a kid in my own right. 

Today, feelings of fraudulentness kicked into high gear. Today, I pictured myself masquerading as an adult. Trust me? Ack! I'm just fumbling and bumbling my way through parenthood, hoping beyond hope I don't screw my kiddos up too much. Trust me, that's one thing I really don't want to do!


Oh, for the love of my children...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

From anxiety to tight security

Dear Darlings,

Lucas has left the building. Stan safely delivered him to Washington DC. And anxiety is setting in...

This election has amped the stress levels for so many people. I don't normally wander into political issues. I strive hard to be strictly a mom blogger and fiction author.

But here's where I am right now.

I'm struggling to keep my nerves and my anxieties under control as the inauguration looms closer and closer. I know so many others are feeling the same way too, but probably not for the exact same reasons. My fear is not because I wanted one party to win and one party to lose. I'm not going to get into a political discussion with any of you because, again, I'm just a mom blogger, and I like it that way. The jangling I feel is because both of my boys will be in DC for this inauguration, and, just to be clear, not for political affiliations.

For the past hundred years, VMI has been invited to march in inaugural parades so Zach, and the entire corps of cadets, will be part of our national story. VMI has marched for both republicans and democrats. In most recent history, they marched in Bush's (41 & 43) and both of Obama's inaugural parades. And now for Trump, they will march once again into the history books.

Last February, Lucas was invited to join a leadership summit, which was well before anyone knew how this election would develop. The summit is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Lucas to see all that an inauguration entails, from a peaceful transition of power as a new president takes the oath of office to the pomp and circumstance of the day. He will be on the National Mall, with so many others, watching history unfold.

With thoughts of both Zach and Lucas being there, anxiety has crept in. I'm trying hard to contain it, but it's stirring because the crazies are out there. Waiting and watching.

We've seen it all too often. Boston, New York City, Orlando, Paris, Brussels, Nice and Berlin...the crazies took so much from so many because they wanted to inflict pain and incite fear. I would never not let my boys attend (well, with Zach I don't have a choice) these events because of the crazies. We can't give into that. And I have to say, all politics aside, I'm proud of them for wanting to be a part of something so big, but as proud as I am, I'm just as nervous for them and everyone who will be there. I don't want anything to happen to anyone because of the crazies.
So, I'm asking you to please keep good thoughts, vibes and prayers cast over all who are going to attend this piece of history...the good, bad and the ugly parts of it. I hope all of you will send up prayers upon prayers to keep not only Zach and Lucas safe, but all of our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and friends safe...whether you agree with the politics of the day or not.


PS: I do know that security is going to be extraordinarily tight. Stan just gave me the highlights of security after he dropped Lucas off. I do feel a bit better knowing how much has been done already, and how much more they are planning to do. As far as I'm concerned the tighter the security the better.

For the love of our children...

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 ~ #TheYearOfChange

Dear Darlings,

2016 is gone. Cooked. Finis. Caput. Over and out. D.O.N.E. Everything that happened is in the history books. Nothing can be changed.

For me, personally (I'm not talking politics or news or pop culture, I'm just talking about my little world), it wasn't a bad year. For our family, it was a good (actually pretty near a great) year. Sure there were blips and blops, and all sorts of strangeness...complete with a few screw ups and some bad decisions. But in the grand scheme of life, we are a-okay. We didn't have any traumatic injuries. We didn't lose a loved one. No one got divorced, or had an accident. We lived life in our little bubble and tried hard to ignore the chaos and pandemonium just outside our door. For me, personally, 2016 wasn't one of those years where I just couldn't wait to put a nail in the coffin and shove that S.O.B. into a watery grave, thankfully.

This year is gearing up to be different for me. A couple of months ago I was at a girlie lunch chatting and catching up with two of my favorite friends. We were talking about changes we wanted to make in our lives for the upcoming year. 2017 became #TheYearOfChange...we made it just for ourselves. It's what we wanted to do and accomplish and change within ourselves so we could work to achieve our dreams, or exact a change on our worlds, both in our little bubbles and the world at large.


For my kiddos there'll be lots and lots of changes. Zach will turn 21 in February. His job next summer is not only in a different city, but a different state. He'll be somewhere in the Southwest. He could be in New Mexico, Texas, Arizona or he could even end up in Hawaii (yikes!). Lucas will graduate from high school in June (omg!). He'll spread his wings a little when he heads off to college next fall (OMG!). I'll have a "only" child at home (and she won't like it, not. one. little. bit.). Claire will get her full-on driver's license in three short months (oh, for cripe's sake, this is just too much!), and then she'll be off toodling around town on her own. They're growing and changing every day. It's almost like when they were toddlers, and you could map their progress, except this time the changes are bigger, more life-altering, and more than a little bitter-sweet.

For me, #TheYearOfChange includes some pretty good ideas and resolutions.
Write more.
Listen more, talk less.
Give more and take less.
Ask more questions.
Make more time for of what's important by wasting less time on what's not.
Wear pants more often and leggings less.
Seek more knowledge.
Purge more and buy less.
Volunteer more.

(Most of these are probably pretty self-explanatory, but I want to clarify the one about wearing leggings. I love leggings. In winter, I have only one fantasy...big, cozy sweaters, fleece lined leggings, and my warm, wooly Uggs, with my leggings taking center stage. I adore my leggings. I'm comfortable in them...I'm just a little too comfortable in them. I have allowed my love of leggings to let me get soft and complacent where I was once structured and disciplined. So, the leggings need to be reserved for my reward at the end of a day. Of course, I've already broken this one twice and it's only January 2nd, so you can see how well I'm doing with that one!)

The thing of this is, #TheYearOfChange shouldn't just be an idea between three friends, because 2017 is a brand new year for all of us. We have to embrace it, the good, the bad and the bitter-sweet. We can't do a thing to stop time from moving along, so we might as well make it good (actually, let's make it a great) year by taking charge of what we can. #TheYearOfChange is for all of us.


Change is for the love of our children...

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Five years in the making

Dear Darlings,

Picture days come and go, and come and go, and come and go like waves in the ocean. One departs and the next one rolls gently in. School photos from those picture days rotate in and out of frames in our house. Each year builds upon the next. My office is lined with photos of all three kiddos as babies with their current picture directly above. It's one of the favorite things about my little space in our house.

In 2012 Zach was a junior in high school, Lucas was in eighth grade and Claire was in sixth. On picture day they all departed, their clothes pressed and smiles ready for the camera to capture their essence of that year. Their photos came back and were promptly put in their respective frames. The following year was nearly the same ritual, but with only Lucas and Claire getting ready for picture day (Zach was a senior so his session was upgraded to portrait day). Pictures came back and I went to replace the old with the new when I noticed something peculiar. And I giggled. The following year Lucas and Claire got ready for picture day and photos came back. I laughed. A blog needed to be written, but Lucas made me promise to sit on it until his senior year. So I did.

This year marks the end of a journey for Lucas and his red, white and blue plaid button down. Or it could even be considered the end of an era, really.

Lucas' shirt has accompanied him to picture day every year for the past five years. The first time was an accident. From then on, though, Lucas decided to run with it, to let this shirt be his mainstay, his mark on his yearbooks. When he made his pronouncement so many years ago Zach said to him, "If that shirt still fits you when  you're a senior, I'm going to punch you in the face." Ah, brotherly love. It still fits and there was not one punch to the face when the senior portraits came back with Lucas in his shirt. Instead this is what Zach had to say when Lucas posted this picture on Instagram...

The story of Lucas and his favorite shirt has been in the making for five years. Five years!

God, I love this crazy, sweet, blond boy of mine and his foresight in turning what, to some, could have been an embarrassing mistake into something so darn memorable.   


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Determined Sunshine

Dear Darlings,

16 years ago I was 37 weeks pregnant with our third baby. Lucas had just turned two. Zach was not quite five. I was exhausted beyond measure from taking care of two very active boys, and to top it all off, I looked like I swallowed a watermelon. I waddled when I walked and strained to bend over. I couldn't sleep because the baby kept shoving itself this way and that way, poking me, prodding me and causing me to continuously shift to move it from wherever it was lodged. I say, "it" only because 16 years ago we had no idea if the baby within was a boy or girl. We had no idea what to expect, we only knew our third baby was healthy. I didn't want to know. I wanted to be surprised when it was born. And I was.


22 days from today I delivered a healthy, hefty baby girl into her father's arms. And there was love. Instant, complete, enduring love. Claire Denise came screaming into this world.

Roaring, actually.

I thought third babies were supposed to go with the flow. I thought third babies were supposed to be easy. She was not.

Last week she, the baby who came roaring into this world, asked me to write a paragraph describing her personality for an AP Psychology project she has to complete by next week.  I gave you the background, and I now I give you the paragraph she will submit to her teacher.

From the very second Claire realized she could make noise and make demands, she did. She roared her way into our family, as the youngest of three. She was determined to make herself heard in a world of two older, and very loud brothers. Our entire family was loud, but she was louder. Fierce determination spread through her countenance day-by-day. She strove to keep up with those older brothers of hers and when she couldn't there was hell to pay. The roaring got louder. And then one day, the universe shifted, and Claire's greatest desire came to be. She left crawling behind, She learned to walk and then run. And she could keep up with her brothers. Her face lit up. She was beaming sunshine. Those two traits define who she is. Determination and sunshine. Claire Denise, the little girl who roared into this world has taken those two (very awesome) pieces of her personality and combined them to become determined sunshine for all who are lucky enough to meet her.