“Losing” Mini Me

I’ve been away from the blog for quite a while. I have had plenty of subjects that are worthy of a post, but some I am not comfortable sharing yet, and others were just not striking any deep resonance within me to write about. In a way this is good because it means nothing especially terrible has happened. Plenty of great memories have been made in the last six months, including a husband and wife trip to Spain and Italy, and a family trip to Philly, Stone Harbor, NJ, and NYC. At some point I’m sure I will post about these wanderlust travels. Today, I want to talk about our youngest son. My taller-than-me male duplicate. My mini me. 

Brennan turned 18 in June. He graduated from high school in May with his International Baccalaureate degree and a departmental award in History. He is such a bright kid. His book smarts far exceed mine. He loves to learn, and really enjoys physics and history. I am one proud mama. We must have done a few things right along the way because he has grown into a wonderful young man. We have been preparing him for this moment his whole life. I knew it was coming, but time goes too fast. On August 23rd, We moved him into his college dorm. I had to say goodbye to my little boy. My mini me. 

We have been fortunate because our eldest, Ethan, has been commuting to college while living at home. We still get to see him every day. We know where he is most of the time, and we know he is safe when he comes home at night. I knew It’d be hard when the first one left, I’m sure it will be hard when the second and third do, but you never really know how it will feel until they are gone. I tell myself we are lucky. This is a good event. a GREAT event. We succeeded, HE succeeded, but I miss my boy regardless. I miss my mini me. 

It is getting better day by day. I even go a few days without texting him now. I try to give him space. Space to grow, to learn, to thrive. The nights are the hardest. I think it’s because even if he were gone all day before, he always came home at night. I don’t know where he is, what he is doing, or if he made it back to his dorm at night anymore. I have to rely on what we have taught him, the decisions he makes, and God’s protection. Stay safe, my mini me. 

I love you, Brennan. This house will never be the same, but this world will be better because of you, and I’m proud to be a part of it. You be you, my gift from God. My mini me.

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Hiding in the Bathroom

Let’s face it. We’ve all done it at one time or another. You just can’t handle it anymore, and you head into the bathroom for a few minutes of peace and quiet. It’s one of the few rooms in the house where you can lock the door, and convince all but the smallest of children, that it’s best to give you your privacy.   If your lucky, you can sneak in with a glass of wine and a good book. Turn on  the shower, and  up the music, to block out noise (and claim you couldn’t hear, if called), and you never know, you could get mommy-alone-time for…..and I may be overestimating……….10 minutes?!

For whatever reason, men do not have the same problem as us. No one follows them and sits outside the door. No one screams from another room, begging for their attention.  If this does happen, they ignore it, and it goes away. The persistence just isn’t there if it’s not the mom.  In my house, the men use this to their advantage.

Bill goes into the bathroom every morning to get ready for work. He takes his iPad with him, and listens to music, and reads his book. I’m pretty sure he has no intention of spending a long time in there, but he gets distracted. “I’ll just finish this chapter.” “Listen to _______ song.” “Hey! That reminds me of _______song.”    I have to strategically plan my bathroom usage around this habit. Do I go in before him? After him? Or do I just go in once I hear the shower water go on, and screw the privacy rule?!

When Brennan was little, if a situation came up where he was asked a question that made him feel uncomfortable, he would say “I have to go to the bathroom, ” and sprint away from said conversation. As he’s grown, it has continued in some form or another, and although he doesn’t actually leave conversations anymore, he won’t hesitate to avoid them before they begin. He uses this method to escape unwanted tasks, as well. When it comes time to unload the groceries, or put them away……nature calls. Time to vacuum……going into the bathroom may result in parents forgetting for a few more hours, and due to the fact that I can be absent -minded…it works!

Ethan doesn’t even try to hide the desire to flee. If I am going into his room to ask him questions he doesn’t want to answer, and he feels he can’t escape the conversation with half-hearted responses, he will push past me to relocate to the bathroom, and  will hide for as long as it takes, reading, or watching videos, until he feels the coast is clear. He is a stubborn kid, and can outlast the best of us, so this tactic works amazingly well.

After years of finding safe haven in this room, the boys have found that they LIKE hanging out in there, even when not avoiding the wrath of mom. Overall, I don’t mind, but even though we are lucky to have two bathrooms, we do not have an endless supply of hot water. There are nights I hear the boys’ bathroom door close, and I make a beeline for the upstairs bathroom, so I can take a HOT shower. Who would have thought that I would have to worry about my teenage BOYS  bathroom time more than my daughter’s?! No one warned me!

As I sit here writing this post, Brennan is in the bathroom, sucking every ounce of deliciously toasty water out of the hot water heater. He should be out in an hour or so. I will eventually go bang on the door and ask him to save me some hot water, and later I will take a less-than-satisfying lukewarm shower, while the family finds ways to need me, immediately……..if not sooner.

 

I am JUST a Homemaker

I recently read a post from a friend who was belittled for what she does for a living. She has many, many talents, and is constantly looking for ways to impact the world around her with the use of those talents. Her biggest passion, one of her finest  talents, is loving and caring for dogs. She has three of her own, and she walks many others for a living, for people who trust her with their precious pets while they are away at work. She is always happy and smiling, and has a peace within her that most do not. She works hard. She has found a way to make a living doing something she loves. It’s unfortunate that some do not find that to be a worthy job. That one would diminish another, who is making the world a better place for others.

I am JUST a homemaker. I have been so since the birth of my second child. I do not work for a paycheck. I DO work outside of the home, though. I have a job that requires travel. I spend hours traveling to, and waiting outside of my children’s schools, going to doctor’s offices, guitar lessons, rock climbing gyms, volleyball, baseball, and swim practices, meets, and games. Driving children to and from work, and friend’s houses. I don’t get paid for gas or mileage in the typical way. My payment comes in the form of happy, healthy, well-rounded children. We don’t force them to play sports or take lessons, they only do what they want to. We let them explore their talents, and find their passion. It is worth every penny I  ” lose”  by not working for a paycheck.

My life involves daily professional development seminars. I am constantly learning FROM my children, and FOR my children. They share with me. They talk about subjects that they are excited about learning, goals for their future, and  what they are worried about. They ask advice. They look for reassurances, and guidance. I am always there, doing the best I can to provide it, and constantly looking for, and refining, ways to help them meet their goals.

I have odd hours, and I am constantly working overtime. My busiest times of the day during the “work week”  are between 6:30am and  9am, and 2pm and 11pm, but that varies day-to-day, and I am by no means “off” during the time in between, I am merely working independently. I don’t have weekends or holidays off. I am constantly on call, and I can’t leave my “work” at work, at the end of the day. Vacations are severely limited. The pay raises and bonuses are not traditional, and may not be fully realized until years  later. They come in the form of growth in my children. Kindness, gratitude, honesty, empathy, courtesy, morality, love. My bonus comes in ensuring that  my children are raised to be decent, thoughtful, giving, caring, happy adults who don’t diminish others for what they choose to do.

This is NOT a thankless job.  I know I can never be replaced. Job security is never an issue. There is no possibility of a lay off in my future. The health benefits are variable, but the retirement benefits are countless. I have never regretted this job. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity I have been given.

Can They See Us From Heaven?

Over the last week, my heart has broken over and over again, as I think of my dear friend, who just lost her son. As a mother, I cannot imagine having to deal with such a tragedy.  I feel like she is on my mind almost every minute.  I check her Facebook page several times a day, to see how she’s doing, and what others are doing in support for her. I can’t help it. That’s how I’ve always been. I  want to help people. But where is the line between concerned friend, and creepy Facebook stalker, and have I breached it? Are others who are close to her, also consumed with her grief?

In the past, my daughter has been in circumstances similar to what Adam endured. It is because of this, that she feels connected to him. The day of the funeral she expressed sadness that she did not know him, and therefore, could not help him in his darkest days. She asked me if he could see and hear us, and I told her it’s possible. Maybe he even knows of their connection. I would like to think that is part of the reason for the rainbow I saw on the day of the funeral. She desperately wishes she could have told him that things would get better. There was light in his future, even if  he didn’t see it yet. Seek help. Don’t be afraid. Have hope.

Shortly after our conversation, I went upstairs to take a shower. As I have said, Adam and his family have been constantly on my mind. I started wondering if he, or any friend or loved one in Heaven, COULD see and hear us. This was followed by the realization that I hoped NOT in the shower, or other awkward moments for that matter. Heebie Jeebies commence. This thought reminded me of when my oldest son was three years old. He walked into the bathroom while I was taking a bath, looked me straight in the eye and said….”Grandpa Dave is watching you.”  For many years, and countless times, we have told that story, assuming he was referring to my “very much alive” father-in-law, in some unexplainable yet very creepy, toddler moment. It had never occurred to me, until now, sixteen years later, that my grandfather’s name, on my mom’s side, was “David.” He passed away before I was a twinkle in my parents’ eyes, before they were married, and even before my dad entered into my mother’s life. Because of this, I don’t often think of him, or his name. Once again, but in that wide-eyed, “I see dead people” kind of way….heebie jeebies.

I hope my grandfather is watching over us, and if Adam is keeping an eye on my baby girl, I’m all in,  but unless there’s an emergency, can you keep it on the other side of the bathroom door, please?!

 

The Heart of a Parent

I am so proud of my kids. They are strong. They have already been through many ups and downs in life, but they thrive. Most of the time. Sometimes they fall. Sometimes, they curl up into protection-mode, because the world can be a harsh place, and they are scared.

In the last few days, they have shown me many reasons to be proud. Giving a dollar to a homeless man, sharing a dessert they swore they wouldn’t with a sibling, calling out the child who was mean to another, reminding me that they have listened to what I have said, and learned what is polite, and what is not. They are growing up to be caring individuals. I have done a few things right. These moments are beautiful……for the heart of a parent.

Many times, though, I get the feeling something is brewing, deep in the pit of their being. They are not ready to talk yet, but it is coming. They desperately want to figure it out on their own, but they cannot. They don’t have the tools. Did I fail to provide them? Did I let them down? Or is it just something that comes with time, different for each child? Life lessons are hard for kids, maybe even harder for the parents who have to watch. And wonder. Could I have done something different, to better prepare my child? These questions are always floating around……..in the heart of a parent.

Over the years I have learned to be patient. To give them time to come to terms with whatever is bothering them, and seek help or advice when they are ready.  I have learned that trying to dig it out of them will only create resentment. But it’s hard to wait, when you know they are struggling. Or hurting. Or stressed. Patience can be hard……… on the heart of a parent.

I can only hope that years down the road, I will see how these experiences helped them grow. Become stronger, and more resilient. Molded them into adults who will wear armor when necessary. Who will not hide from the harshness of the world, but will stand up,  weather the storm, and come out even stronger still. That as parents, we will have provided them with the skills and the determination they need to be successful in their endeavors, whatever they may be.  In the meantime….Parenting is hard…….on the heart of a parent.

 

 

 

 

WINE and Milk

Today, as I wrote a grocery list for my husband to take to the store, I thought about the ways I try to relax. How I deal with the pressures of parenthood, and how I occasionally escape them.

The first thing that came to mind for my list, was WINE. I need wine, to deal with the whine. Recently, a glass of red every evening seems to do the trick. Two on a bad night. As the kids get older and want to drink soda and juice more, I tell them to drink more milk and water. I have even stopped buying juice and soda as often. But as I have reduced the money spent on those things, I have increased the funds spent on wine.

I start looking forward to my glass of vino around 3PM, but I won’t drink if I have to drive, so I usually have to wait until around 6PM.  It takes the edge off. Dealing with a pubescent  tween, and a teen, is a difficult task. One on the way in, one on the way out. One girl, one boy. Big mess. The college kid is still living at home too. This means we know if he wakes up late, gets to school or work late, doesn’t go to school or work, or stays up all night. Things we would be oblivious to if he were staying in a dorm. There is a perpetual parental lesson going on. I am constantly trying to find a happy medium for my younger two children, and give independence to the oldest to find his own way.

Every now and then, but not nearly enough, I get together with a group of friends from my city. We met years ago, when our children were toddlers and newborns, in a local moms’ club. We have grown very close. At times, they are my rock. I can say anything to them, and them to me. We do not judge. I recently started saying “I love you” to them. A lot. I do. They are amazing. I don’t ever want them to think otherwise. They make me laugh. They put me into happy hysterics. They keep me sane.

We went out on Friday night. We ate some food, and drank some wine. And some Rumchata coffee. And a few Rumchata and Fireball Martinis (Except the designated driver, of course…..and to that person, I got it next time. You deserve to drowned your worries now and then too.) We know when it’s time to stop, and we don’t do it often, but the occasional release from the everyday is bliss.

When I woke up on Saturday, I realized how much better I feel the next day, than when I did after a night of drinking in my twenties. I could actually function. My stomach felt a little off all day, but nothing like the miserable hangovers I had in my younger years. I thought to myself……I think I’ll skip my daily glass for a few days. Maybe even weeks. The thought of a drink was not appealing. When I was younger, it would have been weeks at least, before I would partake again, and I wouldn’t even make it out of bed that day. It’s not that I’m proud of my higher tolerance, I just find it interesting. When I recall back to childhood, I don’t remember my parents having a daily drink, at least not faithfully, until the first child hit high school.  It must be something about those teen years. One child affecting  you sooner than the last. A cumulative effect.

On the complete opposite side of the “party with friends” spectrum, the restorative effects a hot cup of coffee, quiet house, and a good book can have are amazing. Escaping from reality for a few hours. Living in a different world for just a bit. A warm blanket, a lap dog, a purring cat. Heaven

As I’ve gotten older,  I enjoy staying home more than going out. There are actually days that I have little battles of will in my brain. “Maybe I should have my gal pals over.”  “Ooooor….I could just snuggle into bed and watch Netflix.” “I could really use some girl time.” “Movie marathons with Bill are so nice though.” “If the kids are doing their own thing, it may be quiet.” “If not, we do have those really good ear plugs from our overseas flight days, and I’m reading a really great book.” Usually, a quiet evening at home wins. That’s what makes those girls’ nights out so special when they do happen.

This afternoon, as the tween mouth went off on a rampage, I realized one day without my glass was plenty. Cheers…. to the lessons I learn from the kids I love, the love of my life, whose always by my side, and the best friends a girl could have. None of which I could live without.