page contents

Sunday, May 29, 2011

No More Tears?

My typical maudlin pose had gone on sabbatical.

"Seriously? You didn't cry at Alex's 8th grade graduation?" my friend asked me.

I was a bit baffled by the experience of not crying a watershed of tears myself. I mean, my eldest enters high school next year. And I'm the girl who cries over dead opossums on the side of the road...literally. So, what was with this new, dispassionate me? Has my Germanic-stoic of a husband rubbed off more than I had realized? At first I wondered. But then I analyzed the situation. There was simply too much to worry about during the graduation ceremony for me to cry. My concerns:

  1. Would Alex be recognized for her academic excellence?
  2. Could she perform her guitar for the choir without any major discord?
  3. Lastly, would she be able to walk across the stage in those heels?
As it turned out, my prayers were answered. I'm extremely proud to report that she marched across that stage without falling on her face. And she was quite lovely.

Last night our family sat around the campfire and listened to Alex play her guitar.  My heart swelled. Tears assembled on the rims of my eyes. It was nice to feel my old sappy, self back again.
Alex and her Best Buds' Heels
Alex and her cousins, Mikayla and Mitch!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Just a Word!

The other night my daughter and I were having a spirited dialogue after the results of American Idol were announced. As Alex was pleading her contempt with the public over Haley's dismissal, I was giggling over my sweet daughter's unusual sense of vigor. But then it got ugly.

"I don't give an F anymore, Mom."

No, she didn't actually say the f-word. But I stopped the conversation and said, "Cut it right now. I don't like that attitude. It's only a show."

Isn't she lovely?
Later, when I told my husband about our daughter's little outburst, he basically shrugged and said, "So? It's just a word."

Just a word! Well, we had a quite a conversation...about that word. But I don't want to talk about that conversation (because it was all about the f-word). I'd rather talk about the power of ALL words.

Words have the power to uplift, shame, enlighten, humble, rescue, demoralize, liberate or inspire. Whether we speak, write, read, text or even use sign language, don't words carry a colossal bit of sway in our every day lives? Heck, in our aspirations? And, most importantly, our relationships? 

I suppose you all remember the game called "telephone" when the teacher whispers a message that must travel through the entire class. The last student must relate the message out loud, which is often muddled by the time words have passed through all the sets of tiny ears. Recently, I read an article in the New Yorker about a Tibetan Monk performing a similar exercise with thirty people using a Buddhist sutra. The results? While the words became completely lost, the sentiment remained. (Check out the article in the link above.)

Okay, so maybe words are just words...until affection takes hold. Then watch out. Powerful stuff begins to unfold. And just prove that point-

Peace to all of you and God bless! I truly hope you have a week like none other.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Field Trips and Lessons Learned

Somewhere in my genetics, I was blessed with an ability to be completely be consumed by guilt. It can be about anything, but usually it involves my ability to be a good mom. Often the attention placed on my job (and that little terrorist called a Blackberry) is called into question. And, of course, this tears me up inside because I adore my family - infinitely beyond the financial spreadsheets at my place of employment.

But like most working mothers, I try to strike a balance. So after nearly six weeks of medical leave (and some MORE guilt about missing work), I took a day off to join Cole on his field trip to the Science Center in Des Moines. And it was fabulous. Almost.

The day really was delightful. I got paired with a fun mother. We enjoyed the IMAX showing of "Born to be Wild." The kids were awed by the liquid nitrogen and the fiery hydrogen balloon. Good science!

Then the end of the day came. The kids were allowed to visit, gulp, the gift shop.

Now, I've done some thinking lately. Nothing that Aristotle would find groundbreaking. But after sitting at home for six weeks, I've decided that we need to buy less stuff.

Especially after noticing that not all kids had money, I knew Cole wouldn't be making a purchase at the gift shop. And after showing me a dozen silly things he definitely did not need, I stood my ground. But it was actually difficult. I almost gave in, because he was not one bit happy with me. He was embarrassed. But I knew it would be one more toy that he wouldn't play with. One more thing to be tossed aside.

Last night, I showed him the devastation in Alabama. "See, Bud? This is where money needs to go. This is more important than wasting $10 on a stuffed animal that you would've lost already."

An Unusually Tired Cole
He wasn't listening. His eyes were focused on the TV. But I like to imagine that his subconscious was picking up on my message. Suddenly, I didn't feel any guilt whatsoever! And I had done exactly the OPPOSITE of what I normally do - I had not picked up a gift for my cute little guy. For once, I had done the right thing. And he didn't seem to love me any less.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mom and Being Mom

I baked cookies tonight. After seven weeks of my family having to live with what appeared to be an interminably impaired matriarch, I made cookies. They were pretty bad. Gluten-free and from a mix. But I baked.

Once upon a time, many years ago, I found myself unwrapping a "care package" in my college dorm room from my mother. The only thing I remember with great clarity about the contents are the crumbly, delicious chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. No baked treat ever, ever, ever tasted so delightful and scrumptious. That combination of oatmeal and choco-chips? Seemingly mundane, but brilliant all the same! Comfort food for sure. But was it really about the taste? I wonder. Probably a little. But I think most of all it was about how the cookies made me feel - loved by my dear mom. Those cookies could've been laced with ostrich beaks. And I would probably be bragging to my kids about how my mom used to make the best ostrich beak cookies ever. Well, maybe not.

When I was really young, my mom was a Mary Kay consultant. Some nights she'd have to be gone. Dreadful. I love my Dad with all my heart, but I could never convince him that MOM DOES NOT ADD TOMATO CHUNKS IN THE SPAGHETTI SAUCE! Without Mom at home, things were just... off-kilter. Who am I kidding? Mom was a very necessary ingredient to receiving a whole bunch of attention. She took care of us. It was heaven.

As I get back on my feet again, I (in my motherly role) will sincerely appreciate the opportunity for my hubby to tell me that I don't have to pour their milk, cut their meat or put any of their precious cargo away. Certainly, most of us mothers know why we're tired. Our insane, hard-wired system sends signals that we must ensure abundant provisions for our loved ones until we're absolutely certain that we've exhausted all of our resources. Because deep-down inside, it feels good.

On this mothers day weekend, bask in the memory of your mother, or simply being a mother. Cheers to you all.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Royal Hitch is All Over

While I seemed to be the only one in our household who cared about the festivities across the pond, I thought the Royal wedding (of what I could pick up from videos, photos and TLC's fashion journalism) was simply...lovely. But who doesn't love a fairy tale wedding? Well, plenty of boys/men, I guess.

My fascination with William and Kate stems back to 1981 when plenty of us Gen Xers watched the pretty Lady Di (with her never-ending train) marry Prince Chahles. (Of course, I did NOT wake up at 4:00 AM to see the nuptials. But we watched replays on the news and waited for articles to be published to relish in the details. No, we poor souls didn't have Internet back then. It was the worst of times. Or maybe it was the best of times...) Of course, that fairy tale went a bit awry, but is the fascination still there? Apparently!

So, what's this female obsession of weddings? Whether the locale is Westminster Abbey or the Westside Bar & Grill, a wedding is a wedding. And for me, it basically boils down to two things:

  1. To see young love so pure and innocent...that glorious time before dishes and laundry get in the way. (And apparently that just might happen to Will and Kate since they are choosing to do their own chores. Crazy. I wonder if this option is reversible once kids come along?)
  2. The dress. Mostly, it's about the dress. To see how pretty it looks. Kate's was quite beautiful - not too ornate. And sophisticated - seemed very fitting for her style. I actually really liked the bridesmaid dress as well. Just a tad sexier. Anyway, WAY BEFORE I became a bride, I dreamed of what my dress might be. And after I was married, I almost immediately began dreaming of what my daughter's would be....and this was before I KNEW I would give birth to my beloved Alex. Of course, maybe I'm just a nutcase. But I don't think I'm in the minority here.
So, with all of the hubbub of the royal wedding, we took my wedding dress out of the box. Funny, Alex didn't love the portrait collar - my favorite part. But she seemed much more enamored by my train...

And in twenty years, I told her it will be all hers!