Mom’s Who Do To Much

The other day a coworker asked what I was doing for Thanksgiving.

nice gloves

 

“Cooking.”

 

She asked if I usually cook Thanksgiving. It struck me as an odd question. Who else would cook?…I am the mom…after all.

 

“Yes, I have cooked, give or take a year, for the past 27 years.”

 

Her eyes got big, “Wow, I never cook Thanksgiving.” Now I was intrigued. She is a mom too. How did she pulled that off?

 

She explained that the first time she cooked a turkey it wasn’t fully cooked when she served it, so her family didn’t want her to be responsible for the next years, or any year after thats’ holiday meal.

 

Brilliant. Why had’t I thought of that? I had, after all, accidentally burned the first shirt my then husband asked me to iron resulting in his never asking again. I had the paradigm. I saw how it worked. I didn’t take the hint.

 

Later that same day, when rescheduling a client, I offered a session the week of Thanksgiving. She declined explaining she will be too busy preparing for Thanksgiving. She was cooking.

 

I thought of the many Thanksgiving weeks that I worked in Pittsburgh while living in Chalk Hill. An hour and a half commute that I returned home from on Wednesday night around 6 or 7. I had made the stuffing, nut bread, and cranberry bread and shopped the weekend before so all that needed to be done to get dinner on the table in the next 20 hours was par boil, peel and make the white sauce for the creamed onions; peel, boil and mash the potatoes; prepare and boil the green beans to toss into the sautéed garlic and chopped shallots; whip the heavy cream into perfect decadence; put the leaf in the table and set it for 8-10 friends and family; panic because every year I seemed to forget the cornucopia themed paper napkins leaving me with Scott Every Days to design the Martha Stewart wannabe table; oh yeah, stuff and cook the turkey.

Apple and pumpkin pie was deliciously prepared by my then Husband. I never learned how to make pies, so he did. (Hint, hint.) Kathleen brought the sweet potato casserole. Heidi another dessert and/or vegetable.

 

This is what I expected of myself. And soon it became what my family expected also. I  trained them well. It never occurred to me that it was too much to do or that I could do less. Especially when working a full week. Out of town no less.

 

It is Thanksgiving again with Christmas right around the corner. And you know I am no easier on myself at Christmas. I usually begin asking myself, sometime the morning of December 26th, why I do this to myself year after year, concluding with my traditional New Years Resolution promising not do so much in the new year.

 

I do it for other reasons too. I do it for the sake of tradition, so my kids have endearing holiday memories, because my mom cooked Mama B’s cornbread stuffing and creamed onions, although she did not work outside of the home and the tension at the well set table of china and sterling usually made dinner a fast and furious event, because when all the preparations are complete and the people I love most in the world are sitting around the table, I feel sweetly and fully blessed.

 

Yesterday I was offering to teach Jena how to make her great grandmothers Alabama corn bread stuffing. (Perhaps unconsciously passing the torch…PLEASE.) Jena said she was planning on being one of those people that never learned to cook. (She does seem to date guys that love to cook.) I heard myself judgmentally ask,”How do you think that will be for your kids?” My question shamed her into retracting her statement saying she was only kidding.

 

As I retold this exchange to Tom I owned how sexist it was of me to assume holiday traditions will be her responsibility.

 

So how does a mom do it? Create tradition, if that is important to her, and not exhaust herself in the process? Ask for more help? Do less? Care less? It is a labor of love that can end in tired resentment.

 

I would love to hear your ideas. How do you do it?

 

And Happy Happy Thanksgiving!

Good Surprises

So I am here to tell you, ya just never know.

 

We just have to be open to the next thing that appears.

 

So I am telling myself…as I work with determination and faith to develop a new venture I am alternately thrilled by and terrified of. (Can I end a sentence with of?)

 

I am offering my counsel as a financial wellness coach.

 

I am thrilled because I have been informally sharing with anyone who would listen–and some who would not–my personal financial transformation.

 

After my divorce I decided to I needed to change my relationship with money. I knew if I was going to make it on my own financially I had to take a look what was not working-just like I had done with my ailing marriage. Over time and with a discerning eye it was clear-money and I needed some couples counseling.

 

So, one night, with a bottle of wine, steamed shrimp, cocktail sauce and chocolate for dessert (my comfort menu at the time), I sat myself and money down on the couch. We spent the evening reacquainting ourselves with one another. We painfully sorted through everything, especially what was coming in and what was going out.

 

What made this evening so memorable is that money and I became very clear we both needed more from each other. I needed money to help me have more adventures in my life and money needed me to be pay more attention to it.

 

So we began, awkwardly at first, like dancing with a new partner, to develop our rhythm.

 

This meant learning several new steps. I had to look at long held family dysfunctions concerning finances. I had to treat myself and money with respect…everyday. This meant making responsible money choices. At least once a month I needed to spend quality time with my budget and bills. Finally, and maybe most importantly, I needed to dream and plan my future.

 

The resulting two-step crescendoed into a very specific budget system I call The Best Money Management System in the World (pretentious perhaps, but true!). Eight years later I am living the financial life I dreamed about that night on the couch.

 

I recently shared my journey and my system with some close friends. Their unanimous advice was to teach this to others. “Really? Me teach money stuff?” I countered, “I can’t teach this.” This brings me to the terrified of part of my story.

 

You see I was never a math wiz. Actually, that isn’t quite true. I was good at math until I hit middle school where my 7th grade math teacher hated me. I, in turn, hated him. He was also the vice principal. So while commendations for History and Spanish were being sent home, Mr Small (yes that was really his name) sent home Math deficiencies. He called my mom in for conferences on my behavior and dress. He took exception to the culottes I wore, calling them shorts. Unfortunately for him, my mom had made those culottes and was quite proud of them. Mr Small was sorry he had shared his opinion with my mom. He never commented on my culottes again.

 

He also would keep me in his office all day bullying me into confessing to offenses I didn’t commit. I was a really good girl in middle school. I tried very hard to stay on adults’ good side. My rebellion thankfully showed her brilliant face though by refusing to give in to his harassment. I was determined and I succeeded sitting the full day in his office without showing him any hint of fatigue. He finally gave up, but the damage to my math self esteem was done. I had come to believe I was bad in math.

 

I went on to bomb out on my math SAT’s. I zoned out when I saw anything math related. My first job after college was as a bank teller outside of Richmond Virginia. My friends were astounded. They knew my talent was in talking with people, not banking. However, in Va. I needed a masters to work in the therapeutic field, so I took the job that would hire me.

 

Citizens Saving and Loan.

 

My money drawer never settled. Some days it was over, some days under. Amazingly Citizens never accused me of embezzling. I think it was because they knew I was not mathematically savvy enough to rip them off. At my exit interview my manager Rick commented that my people skills were exemplary. He went on to say that wasn’t so true of my teller skills.

 

He highlighted the day a familiar customer pulled up to the drive thru window explaining she had forgotten her check. She asked if I could give her the amount of the check and she would run the check back later in the day. I had no doubt she absolutely would bring the check in. I also knew first hand what a pain it is to forget your check when you need the cash for your next errand. I considered her request. I trusted her.  I still believe, to this day, she would have come back with the check. Rick didn’t agree. He said, “No.”

 

Today, I am out from under Mr Small’s spell and I understand why Rick said no.

 

Necessity derailed my self-fulfilling prophecy, as it is known to do. I needed to support myself and my kids, I wanted a life with more financial pleasantness and security.  I had to get serious with myself and with my relationship with money.

 

I am writing this on my way to Barcelona, Spain followed by 10 days in the South of France. Places I never dreamed I would be able to afford to visit. I have also been to vacation in Paris, Mexico, New Mexico, Wyoming, Cape Cod and the California wine country in the past 8 years.

 

My ability to travel is a dream come true. My ability to pay for it feels like a miracle, but it isn’t. It is a result of using a very specific budget system that thinks ahead so there is money there when you need some.

 

Who knew?