Sorry this is late, I was at a wedding….

How did I get old enough to have a son getting married? 00000010

How did he get old enough to be getting married?

I can’t say, exactly, how I feel about my oldest tying the knot — bittersweet is the first layer, but there is weeping underneath –I can tell you that our life together is flashing before my eyes, in a good way.

I remember the day after he was born. It was when moms still got a 3 day hospital stay and if you paid for it, a candle lit dinner for two. It was a fair attempt at reestablishing romance, but the donut I sat on was a physical reminder that I was out of commission for a while. Landon and I were alone in our room. I was holding him against me, nuzzling him. Out of the blue he lifted his head away from my chest — I didn’t think new borns could do that — and looked me straight in the eye. In that instant I knew we were in this together. His eyes said, “Here we go mom’”

A couple of nights ago I sat on the deck, alone in the dark, looking at the stars, missing Landon’s youth and my mothering of him. He was a sweetheart and he was a hand full. He took life at full speed, which meant several trips to the ER, firemen pulling him out of a mucky swamp sink hole before hypothermia set in, and looking out my kitchen window one winter afternoon to see a car fly pass with him being pulled behind it on ski’s.

Still, today, I hear stories. He and Jena will decide to tell me about-the-time-when…they pulled the mattress off the spare-room bed into the living room, piled all the couch cushions on top of it, then leapt over the loft railing onto soft heap below. Or when he and his friends jumped, repeatedly, over a bonfire they started in the driveway. Or when he took my SUV off-road. Or…the stories go one and on…

As my first born, most everything I did was an experiment. We were learning together. I taught him know what he felt, what he wanted and to speak up for both. I remember at one particularly difficult stage in his adolescence rethinking my approach, realizing there may be something to be said for the adages, children should be seen and not heard and because I said so…As a result of my parenting style, he could argue like a lawyer. We often thought he would choose that profession. He could out-argue me. And often did. I remember walking away wondering how I ended up saying yes when I was sure I meant no.

And he was a sweetheart.

He struggled with dyslexia and a gluten intolerance — before gluten free was even a term. Together we worked creatively to deal with these issues and they were very hard on him. My heart often broke watching him find his way. I remember one evening, when he was in the 3rd grade, sitting together on the edge of my bed, holding him after a particularly hard day at school, assuring him that it would get better and that I would not let him do it alone.

If I sum up how I mothered it would be that I had my kid’s backs. I read, as a young mom, that my job was to provide a safe harbor for them. That the world was going to beat them up, and they would need a place/person that would provide sanctuary. That was always my guiding principle. I hope they felt that.

So on his wedding day, as we had a moment alone, waiting for all the guests to be seated, I hugged him hard, pulled my head away from his chest, looked him in the eye and said, “Here you go Sweetheart. You have everything you need.”
waxseal2

 

 

 

(pretty much)

I never thought to ask my mother to go away together for a weekend, and, likewise, my mom never thought to ask me. Perhaps we just didn’t want to…

So when Jena called, shaken from a dream that I had died, we decided we needed to spend some time together. We had both been suffering from the changes caused by the  empty nest created when she left home this past December. Jena faces flying solo (pretty much.) I face watching her solo voyage, saying very little (pretty much) and praying a lot.

UnknownSo with some internet searching we decided on Rocky Gap State Park, Resort and Spa in Maryland. It turned out to be much more State Park and much less Resort and Spa, but at least we were together.

We checked out the pool and hot tub. They were inviting, except for the hoards of screaming, splashing kids. I remembered the chlorine-soaked-hotel-pool-evenings of Jena and Landon’s youth. The intention was to water log them so they would go to sleep early and easily. Unfortunately it was usually their dad and I that fell asleep. As I was strolling down nostalgia lane, Jena remarked that she was not interested in swimming with all those noisy kids. I didn’t blame her. Who really does? I joked with her that she sounded old.

We ate dinner in the resort dining room that over looked a sparkling lake surrounded by hills. The meal was mediocre, ending with Jena finding a fly in her almost all eaten salad. The waitress was dutifully concerned, offering a new salad, which Jena declined due to her slight nausea. The waitress, I think in an attempt to comfort us, told the story of another customer who had ordered a caesar salad and was upset to find a fish (anchovy) in her salad. We didn’t bother to explain the difference.

The dinner bread, however, was delicious. Warm. Crusty. Hearty. We ate it all and asked for more. I wrapped the left over bread in a napkin to take back to the room. I knew stuffing bread in my purse was a sign of age. I did it anyway.

We also learned that the annual polar bear plunge to raise money for special needs kids was scheduled the next morning. Jena hopped on board, always ready for the next adventure. She tried to sell me on the idea, saying, “Let’s do it together Mom, you know a Mother-Daughter thing.”  Usually I cannot resist this kind of not-so-subtle manipulation, except when it comes to voluntarily submerging myself in a lake that was frozen-over two days ago. I negotiated my contribution to the mother-daughter bonding would be the $50 entrance fee needed to submerge her 23-year-old body.

So Saturday morning, Jena, along with over 700 other plungers, ran full speed into the icy lake, while snow fell on those of us that were staying dry. I tried, without success, to findimages Jena in the sea of shamrock green charity t-shirts. As I held my iPhone in place, making sure the video light was on so I could capture her heroics, I worried that she would get sick-and it would be my fault.  “What kind of a mom would let her daughter do such a thing?” I reprimanded myself. I had time traveled back to my parenting responsibilities of her pre-eighteen years, when what I said mattered (pretty much).

Jena ran out of the frosty water, and into my outstretched arms holding dry hotel towels, with a smile that radiated heat. I held her as though she was still my little girl, while enjoying the young woman in my arms. I was proud of her. I was proud the us we were forging.

That night we went to the quieter, late-evening pool with a bottle of champagne and paper cups to celebrate Jena’s college diploma and teaching certificate. She told me her life IMG_0937plans, as much as she knew at this point. She told me about her new love and how safe she feels with him. How smart and protective he is. About the practical jokes they play on one another. I got the sense she loved talking about him — as new love does — and that she really wanted me to know what he means to her. I mostly listened. Sometimes I threw in some motherly advise, along with some concerns I wanted her to consider. I realized that she may or may not appreciate my opinion, but our morphing relationship seemed to allowed for it in the moment. We talked easily for a long time.

I felt a new mutuality developing between us. Jena wanted to know about me; about the safe place I went to in the mediation we did earlier; about my writing class as she edited my assignment with thoughtful, insightful suggestions. I softened into her interest. It felt like a door into our future. She was becoming interested in me in a way saved for adult children. Our mother-daughter norms seemed to be maturing. I warmed to it, feeling my historical uber-mother vigilance relax.

I realize, looking over the three generations between my mom, Jena and me, Jena and I are lucky. Not everyone likes their mom or their daughter. I don’t think my mom liked me – I was too much. And she never really knew me. It was my job to know and please her. So I did. Until I didn’t.

Jena and I have something special. I love being her mom and I think she loves having me as a mom (pretty much). She told me that no matter where she is living, when she decides to have children, she is returning to live within an hour of me…because I am home.

With Love,
waxseal2

 

 

 

It’s Just Not Right…

I grew up with my mom telling me to, “Watch your mouth!”  She hated when I said I hated something, when I sang at the dinner table, or told her I couldn’t see my mouth so I couldn’t possibly watch it. She even washed my mouth out with soap once. I don’t remember what I said, but the next day I got tonsillitis and my grandmother blamed my mother for giving it to me. I was vindicated.

 

I did, for the most part, try to please my mom. I watched what I said and did. I became so good at it that I developed TMJ before it was called TMJ. My parents thought it was normal that I had to hit the side of my face to get my jaw to open in the morning to eat my Special K cereal.

 

I don’t imagine this was so unusual for those of us raised in the late 50’s-60’s. We were managed to be polite extensions of our parents. It was our job to make them look better than they felt about themselves. Especially us girls.

 

It’s a hard habit to break, this watching your mouth. “What if I offend somebody?” I would worry. My mom told me the reason a boy I liked didn’t call me again is because I told him a story using the word “poop.” She said, “No boy would want to date a girl with a mouth like that.” Fuck.

 

It seems the older I get the less I watch my mouth and the more I speak my mind. I am a lot less tolerant of what I see and experience. I am “mouthier” these days because some things need to be said. I started a list… Continue reading

If You Can’t Say Something Nice….

I recently read an article by Marybeth Hicks, a Washington Times columnist commenting on OWS. The gist of her piece is how very upset she is with these protesters. Ms. Hicks believes their mothers have not taught them important life lessons, mainly that: “Life isn’t fair.”  She sets to correct this over sight of other mothers by teaching this lesson in her article (Some belated parental advice to protesters, October 18, 2011:

http://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/oct/18/hicks-some-belated-parental-advice-to-protesters/ ).

 

Quite frankly I believe any mother worth her chocolate chip cookies tells her kids, “Life isn’t fair.” It is as common a parenting tactic as “if Randy jumped off the bridge would you?” Nonetheless, when one of our kids is treated unfairly, by a classmate, teacher, or friend, most moms (and dads) rush to their child’s defense to correct the injustice. Ask any teacher. We do this to assure our kids we have their backs and to model how to stand up for themselves later in life. Continue reading