Pondering…

Let me begin by wishing all of the Mother’s out there, a Happy Mother’s Day. I know being a mother is challenging and rewarding and exhausting and fulfilling, and overwhelming and exhilarating, and that’s all in one minute. So yeah to us! Even if you’re not a mother, congratulations if you’re  a caregiver to someone you love.

I can’t deny I love my sons beyond measure. Being their Mom is the greatest joy and the greatest test I have ever endured. I pray that when they’re in therapy talking about me, and they probably will be, they remember that I tried with all my might to be the best person/mother that I could be. I know I don’t achieve it all the time, (cue the eye roll from my sons), but I’m aware most of the time when I miss the mark. Each night I pray that I can do better and be better tomorrow. Some days I’m fabulous! Some days I bite!

I know that I have dropped out of sight lately. I needed to take some time to mull over the ever-changing landscape that is my life. I’m going to admit something that my family and friends already know, I ponder, deeply. I gather information about whatever I may be going through, the bigger the problem the longer the gathering process goes, and then I go to ground. 

I take all of the advice, solicited and unsolicited and I mull over every inch of every discussion or thought. I write but my thoughts are so jumbled that they’re not fit to share. My ability to see photographs in daily life, dries up. I turn inward and I shut down emotionally. On the outside I am functioning but on the inside it has all turned blue, dark blue. Sounds are muted, light diffused and hazy and I roll through my to do list like a mantra but my brain is quiet, like walking outside after a snowfall, cushioned.

After awhile my synapses start firing again and I reemerge things slightly out of focus, but resolved and undeterred. Recognizing that I need to put the past in perspective, let go of the incessant chatter of regret and embrace the possibilities of now. I’m through hashing and rehashing the old and am ready to turn my attention to what’s new. It’s not all roses and sunshine but the light has shifted, altered in a way that affords me the vision to see the nuances and mystique of my life. This one life that I have.

Change is hard. Ha, who doesn’t know that?! Necessary for sure. Unavoidable without a doubt. Dealing with it is the key. Inquisitiveness, self-awareness, truthfulness, and resilience are an all equal measure, the only way to rise again. Each of us handle life’s challenges in our own ways, unique to the people we are. Hopefully I’ve come through and have learned something along with the pain and sadness.

I think spring is a good time for new beginnings. I’m surrounded by renewal, rejuvenation, resilience and endurance. For me, a reminder that life moves on even when I find it necessary, no imperative, to slow it all down and pause. The earth keeps revolving and luckily my friends and family love me through the brilliant blues of a summer sky and through the abrupt ever-changing storm that arrives on the horizon and rushes through my life-like a hurricane. Destroying and restoring a new balance and order. A new flow and for a change, I’m ready. 

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Cabin Fever

Usually I write when things are crazy. It’s how I cope but with the endless snow and the kids being home more than in school for the month of February, I’m exhausted. As if the snow days weren’t enough, we are coming to the end of February vacation and though I love my sons and would rather spend time with them more than anyone else on the planet, I can’t wait for them to go back to school. To get back to some sort of routine; theirs, and mine.

The snow is higher than my windows and I admit, I may be suffering from cabin fever. Oh sure, I’ve been out and about and working super hard but the white, whiteness of the snow is getting to me. Everywhere my eyes can see, there are mounds and mounds of snow too tall to throw snow on top anymore. Shards of ice dangle precariously from everyone’s house, and businesses, and the lakes and oceans are coated with huge chunks of floating, frozen, frigid white ice, far and wide.

I crave colors, green grass, the smell of fresh flowers, the warmth of the sun, and the water cascading over my head as I wade out to swim in the ocean. This is beginning to sound more like a plea for help or a message in a bottle from some foreign land. I’d laugh but I’m afraid it might sound a bit maniacal.

So hopefully, March will roar in like a lion and I know everyone here on the east coast will dance with fevered merriment and joy when the temperatures hit 50 and the only sounds we hear are the drip drop of snow melting, melting, melting. And our lives return to some semblance of order. I will end by sending the final snow photos for 2015 and hope that the next thing I write will be more optimistic and this winter will be something I talk about with nostalgia and not while gritting my teeth, my white teeth. I know, I’ve gone too far.

The freezing ocean
The freezing ocean
Dock frosting
Dock frosting

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#endless snow #cabin fever

Blizzard of 2015!

It was a lovely Monday morning that suddenly, and with much expected, pomp and circumstance, the day had morphed into “The Blizzard of 2015!” Panic arrived at the grocery store, the Packie, (New England for liquor store), and tempers mounted at the gas stations, as hearty New Englanders jocked and braced for 2-3 feet of snow, depending on where you live. It is no surprise, I live where 3 feet of expected snow raged and fell heartily and steadily for two days and two nights.

If you live in New England, as they old saying goes, “if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute and it will change.” It did change with the fury of 1000 winds, as snowflakes danced determinedly, gracefully, purposefully, and endlessly to the startlingly white covered ground. Even knowing the snow was coming, it arrived at an alarmingly fast pace; relentlessly, dramatically and unceasingly, until bedtime last night.

My sons declared it the “best snowfall, ever,” well at least for now. They suited up and as surely as New Englanders know the weather will change, we also know that we must also buckle up and get about the cleaning up after surviving the storm. Be it, hurricanes, wind gale seas, flooding, or snowing, we must get our outer gear on and start to shoveling, period. My sons made me proud and we tackled the Blizzard of 2015, with zeal, delight, and vigor, shoveling our way out of the storm, sort of , mostly just to the street where the plows pushed it back on the driveway. But hey, that’s still progress. We can know see the street.

What could be the reward for working so hard, you ask? Well if your 9 and 12-year-old boys; white and milk chocolate chip pancakes. Yum, and they did shovel for two hours, well what is a mother to do? I sat back, ate an omelette (just looking at the pancakes hurt my teeth). Indeed eggs and coffee may just pull me through the next few days, as school was canceled for another day. Can’t say as I blame them, it’s a blizzard out there, haven’t you heard?

Yup, the Blizzard of 2015, (so far), has come and gone. I’d say we should just continue to count our blessings for being warm, safe, fed, shoveled out, and loved. 

The door opens, snow has arrived.
The door opens, snow has arrived.
Shoveling begins at the door.
Shoveling begins at the door.
The Blizzard rages on.
The Blizzard rages on.
Neither sleet nor rain.
Neither sleet nor rain.
Marshmallow snow mounds.
Marshmallow  fluff snow mounds.
Just Rewards.
Just Rewards.

Masters Class..

I find New Year’s Resolutions often boring and predictable. I spent this New Year’s Eve ushering in the New Year with my Mom and three of her life long, good friends. I found their perspective and life views to cause me to stop, think, and review my purpose in the world as a woman, friend, and mother. I was honored to sit and be schooled by four teachers, (including my Mom) who have enlightened hundreds of students over the span of their collective lifetime. Silently and unwittingly, I had entered a Masters Class.

The evening was spent playing games, cooking, eating, watching a funny movie and talking, debating and sharing, no holds barred. These women are not shrinking violets. Each in their own right have achieved great success as teachers, mothers, educators, administrators, feminists, and women. They take their roles as educators very seriously. It is their calling and they know their stuff.

All but one are retired but I don’t think they know how to retire, at least in the conventional sense of the word. They are still in the trenches, in schools, their communities, and churches. Each continuing to make a difference with their wisdom, contributions and shared life experiences. I was in awe of how they approached retirement, life, friendship, relationships, motherhood, marriage, widowhood, and even death. The lessons were timely, valuable and as varied as the women who were sharing them.

First, if you can not hold your own in a debate, this is not the group for you. You can’t just “state” your position, be ready to defend it, be knowledgeable about it or you will be devoured with intellect and reasoning so strong you are instantly reminded of your third grade teacher tsking and shaking her head at your feeble attempt to answer a question, incorrectly and without raising your hand first. So come strong or stay home. No time for a Goggle check, if you speak on it then you must Know about that which you speak. If not you will be challenged, kindly but with intensity.

Second, disagreement is welcome, argument encouraged. I mean this in the most respectful and adult way. There is no name calling or disparaging remarks, no eye rolls, teeth sucking, or out right dismissal of anyone’s point of view. Seems strange in a world where it seems we can not hold two opposing thoughts at the same time, (Cognitive Dissidence, in case you’re wondering, I wasn’t wondering but I received an education about nevertheless). That’s the other side of being raised by teachers, don’t use a word or phrase if you don’t know it’s origin or meaning. It has the potential to be embarrassing as they are trained listeners. I learned the true value of a loving and heartfelt debate, valuing their choice of words, their tone, more than any ego driven need to win an argument.

Third, dismantling, attacking, and categorizing other women is not allowed. Collectively these four women have raised ten plus children and they know that there is no value in teaching a lesson with pain attached, life teaches us that lesson whether we like it or not. They are forthright, well spoken, intelligent women who have continuously worked on uplifting, educating, and supporting children and adults for dozens of years. They believe that Information is power, freedom and independence. They have marched, and challenged the status quo. They have lived through the free love of the 60s, the civil rights movement, women’s movement, mother’s movement and they are not done yet, not by a long shot. 

Fourth, no two women are alike. Each one is a strong woman in her own right, working their entire lives and making creative and difficult choices, often alone. Their decisions and sacrifices have affected their families, their careers and themselves. Still you won’t find a drop of bitterness or martyrdom to be found among them. This is a group of women who get the job done, no time for muss or fuss. No time to wonder if they will get the credit for all of their hard work, (and I can say from experience, they do not). No time to sit around and whine about who is doing what, when. If something needs to get done, big or small, these women are on it. They are practical, ingenious, problem solvers and they don’t get nearly the recognition they should. 

Fifth and finally, I sat back and watched and learned more in one night than I could ever write about today. I sat, in rapt attention barely moving as they shared eloquently the lessons of their own lives. l listened and I learned about being a woman in her 60s, 70s and 80s. I learned about being a mother, for a life time, (I know we know we are mothers forever but these women exemplify what a mother is and the dance that is required as their children have grown). I learned that I can speak up and out and frankly that I should at every turn, particularly when injustice is being done. I learned the true meaning and the treasures of life long girlfriends who support and love each other through the challenges, joys and pain that life brings. I learned how to fall spectacularly and continue to get back up, again and again with dignity and integrity. 

I will leave you with some last words of wisdom from the oldest member of the group answering the age-old question, what is your New Year’s Resolution? She paused and thought about it for a moment, and she said, “I am living my New Year’s Resolutions every day in the choices I make, the people I love and cherish, the work I continue to do, and in the way I live my life. I don’t have any new resolutions, just to continue living, learning and loving.”

Yep, I will say it again, this was a Masters Class and these women should be on the cover of Time’s most Influential Women of their Time. As teachers they have taught these principles, shared these principles, prayed over these principles with their own children and the many children, many of whom are now adults, that they had the privilege of teaching over 50+ years as Educators. Retirement is only a word to them and these women are graceful, strong, real, honest, hardworking, dedicated, beautiful, intelligent, resilient, and extraordinary. Their lives are a blueprint for how I hope to live my life as I grow older. 

Thank You for your hard-earned lessons, Mom, Ann, Beth, and Pam. And thank you for sharing them, albeit unknowingly, with me. Much love.

 

Summer’s End…

By now all the backpacks are packed, lunches are made, schedules outlined, bookbinders and folders are all labeled with each child’s name and the Summer is Over!

It’s been a great and memorable summer of lounging around with my two boys. I admit the pace was hardly, restful, but I learned a lot about my sons, maybe more than I thought I wanted to know.

1. If I let them they would stay up all night or until they fall out on the floor exhausted and still they insist they are not tired.

2. The have a never-ending need to discuss our menu options for the day. And since the two of them rarely agree on anything this conversation can last from breakfast well past lunch. Unsolicited food reviews in my house are a common occurrence.

3. Even if they say they like a certain food, or have had a particular food, (“I love Quiché I had it at Grandma’s”),  I have to check, and double check their expressions to see if they actually like it. If the food isn’t up to their standards and or expectations and they don’t want to eat it, I launch into my usual spiel, (#74), about the blessings of having food, having the choice of food, and about people starving all over the planet…ok, you see why they might avoid going down that road, again.

4. They are frequently cavalier with their never-ending criticisms; of my work (“do you really have to?”), of food (“is that our only choice?”), adventure (“my friend went to this other place and said it was way better”), vacation plans (“but I wanted to go to the Bahamas!”), hairdo (“did you mean to make it look like that?”) and affection in public, (“it’s better if you don’t hug or KISS us EVER in front of people”). If I was dating them, I would have broken up with them by now for sure.

5. They have begun to question the wisdom of  well, My wisdom!? Do I really know how to get back to the bumper boat place? Ah yeah,  I was there with you guys and I drove you there in first place, remember? This is followed by blank stares.

6. They have perfected the middle school/ junior high school eye-roll when I ask mundane/chore related questions. I must do this far more often than I realized or their eyes are locked in a perpetual roll. I fear head spinning isn’t far behind.

7. Swimming played a big role in our summer fun and I don’t mean swimming like regular people swim, I mean like jumping on your brother’s back and pushing him underwater until he lurches out of the water gasping for air, Swimming. Big fun!

8. My beloved sons are not capable of minding their own business especially if they feel they are well versed on a subject. When I am talking to one son the other chimes in with his opinions, insults, useless and often irrelevant remarks and then is supremely offended when I ask him to butt out. Of course, being 9 and 12 does not lend itself to vast experiences, still they can wax poetic for hours until I am forced to leave run from the room, some say shrieking. I can neither confirm nor deny this as I am usually covering my ears and humming at this point.

9. They pass one another in a hallway, driveway, store or kitchen and they poke, push, and trip each other all the while giggling with ghoulish cackling, and fiendish delight. Then they look up at me with their beautifully innocent brown eyes and say, “What, it wasn’t me, he did it first.”

10. The funny thing is that when they return to school tomorrow, I’m going to miss them more than I thought. They made me laugh out loud at silly jokes and antics that I remember laughing about with my friends and family as a kid too. They made me forget about being an adult for a while. I plotted ways to sneak up on them and douse them with the garden hose in our yard and with great superiority and no shame, I would pull out the “Mother” card when they tried to reciprocate, (please note; this is not a good use of the  Mother card as it gains you no respect when they return fire soaking you from head to toe, and they will).

Having kids forces me to be the parent and to be a “Grown Up” and I discovered this summer, I don’t want to grow up, so there.

I hope everyone had a wonderful summer. Have a happy and safe school year.

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