I’m headed under the covers…

I have a good friend that often says she doesn’t care.

Sometimes when she says this I feel judgmental, believing she should care. Other times I feel intrigued, wondering what would happen it I didn’t care either.

I think what she is really saying is she is not going to allow said person, event or thing to upset her. She is not going to get wrapped-around-the-axle like another friend describes herself doing.

My dad used to say, “I could care less,” when he was done with us and/or our behavior. (Grammatically speaking he should have said I couldn’t care less, but in that moment I wasn’t about to correct his English.) I knew what he meant was we were on the edge of trouble. I felt hurt when he said this. I wanted him to always care about everything pertaining to me. He usually didn’t. Maybe that is why I care so much today.

Recently, several days in a row, I came home from work and imageswent straight to bed. I thought I was tired. Tom determined I was depressed. That’s the thing with depression, the depress-e doesn’t recognize it, someone from the outside does.

I was depressed. And to my surprise, being truly honest here, I enjoyed it. I felt relieved  because when I am depressed I allow myself to care less. I didn’t worry about getting dinner ready or stopping at the store to pick up last minute items. I didn’t feel bad about not returning the calls I needed to make to friends and family. I didn’t care about the half finished house projects waiting for our attention. I didn’t feel not good enough or not important. Because, I didn’t care.

I had unwrapped myself from around the preverbal axle. This was a come-to-Jesus moment.

“Really?”, I asked myself in astonishment. Was this was how I was going to set boundaries? Am I going to take care of myself by going to bed at 5:00 and pulling the covers over my head?

Looking back, my early-to-bed was a break I needed. Kind of a deep breath in my schedule. I have taken this liberty a couple of other times in my life, always around big transitions. Deciding to end my marriage, moving into Pittsburgh and selling our families home, and recently Landon’s wedding.

Sometimes I just need to give myself a break. I depress myself to stop myself. Stop moving. Stop producing. Stop initiating. Going to bed accomplishes this. My mini depressive episode. I now trust this behavior in myself; as long as it is only a couple of days. My internal clock needed to reset.

I wonder if this is an option to getting sick. I used to do that. Every 7 years I would end up in the hospital. My doctor pondered this phenomenon out loud with me, “What’s up?”

Good question.

There are many ways to stop and regroup. This seems to be mine. It gets my attention and prompts me to make changes. I need to care differently. I need to care at least as much about myself as I do for someone else. I want to hold myself to a softer standard of accountability checking in with my energy level, my interest and my availability.

And after all that, I may decide, that sometimes, I just don’t care.

XO
waxseal2

 

 

 

A day in the mountains…

I spent yesterday in a time warp. Jena was a bridesmaid in a best-childhood-girlfriends’ wedding, along with several other lifelong friends, and Tom and I were invited to join the celebration.

Going back to the mountains is a mixed bag for me. I feel totally at home and out of place at the same time. This is how I spent the 24 years I lived there. A neighbor and a stranger.

The small church was packed. I recognized one pew full of people on the other side of the church from where Tom and I sat in folding chairs. It was filled with the neighbors and friends I had raised my kids with, and my X husband and his new wife Patty, from Boswell, PA. Really!

The ceremony these two young kids created was touching. It brought me to tears. Their words, humor and poignancy made me realize how grown up our daughters had become. (Jena if you are reading this don’t get any ideas.)The bride (and groom) had clearly designed a wedding that was uniquely their own. Everyone recognized their personalities and quirks. The groom deliberately ended his wedding vows with a preposition (they are both English buffs), to alleviate his brides insecurity that her vows wouldn’t be as good as his. “Where are your vows at?”

Instead of communion, or lighting a common candle, or pouring colored sand into a bottle, the groom poured milk into a goblet, the bride chocolate. Together they stirred it into chocolate milk. The best man provided two straws and together they drank from the same cup. There was not a dry eye, or a face without a smile, in the church.

The bride and her dad danced to a song they sang together on road trips. Not just any song, but the operatic Sarah Brightman & Andrea Bocelli – Time to Say Goodbye. As they spun around the dance floor they sang it to one another, hitting high notes with dramatic flourish.

In his toast, her dad told funny stories. One in particular was about a phone call he got while working the late shift. She told him she had hit a bird with her car. She had killed it. But, it was still stuck in her grill. Could he please get it out when he got home? “Of course,” he said. Turned out the bird was a goose. Stuck in the grill, and the hood, in such a way that as she drove the 4 foot wing span opened and closed.

Again, not a dry eye or an unsmiling face in the room. Conjoined polarities.

At the end of the evening Tom asked me to drive home. I took the wheel without hesitation. I knew these roads. I had driven them most of my adult life. I recently told someone that I am still learning to be a city driver because I am really a country driver. City driving, with all the cars on the road, the on/off ramps that send me careening into 70 mph traffic, the street lingo rolling off natives tongues — the parkway, the crosstown blvd, the boulevard — the surprise road closures that knock me off my course, keeps my breathing shallow and my wits on end. Being in the mountains, driving in the dark was a piece of wedding cake.

Except it wasn’t. And when had it gotten THIS DARK? I couldn’t see anything outside of my headlights. At some point I noticed the road we were on was getting terribly narrow and winding. I didn’t remember this stretch of road from Ohiopyle to Chalk Hill. Where were we and how had I gotten off course?

I could hear Twilight Zone music playing, Rod Sterlings voice saying, “You have just entered another dimension.”

Tom pretended to calmly suggest I wait to find a driveway to turn around in. He was concerned that the sides of the road would be swampy. In a very small voice I told him I didn’t suspect there was going to be any driveways along this road.

And there wasn’t.

I eventually found a wider part of the road and did a K-K-K turn, knowing that to go further could lead us into the part of the mountains where no man has gone before and returned to tell the story. Dunbar.

I wound my way back up the road, totally disoriented in a completely familiar place. And let me say again, it was so damn DARK. We came to an intersection that I sat at for more than a minute, getting my bearings. (You can do that on country roads at 8:30 at night cuz you are the only one on the road.)

My wits returned, I turned right and successfully drove us home. To Pittsburgh. That is my home now. But driving past the entrance to Deer Lake, my home of 24 years, I could have just as easily turned left to go home.

Returning to a past life. That is what I did yesterday. I fell back into conversations as though I hadn’t been gone for 5 years. As though I had seen neighbors just the other day. But when they asked me, “What’s new?” how do I begin to tell them: my whole life.

Perhaps you can never go home again. Or at least not without some disorientation.

 

I should be writing…but instead I am making zucchini bread

My 4th loaf is in the oven as I type this…and since I have gained 4 lbs in the last 2 weeks I shouldn’t be making my 4th loaf. But without an intervention I am headed into the kitchen to make my 5th batch. I still have zucchini and flour that must be used. Right?

I am using the mixer I got as a wedding gift in 1981 to make the bread. It’s a Sunbeam. I don’t think it was an especially expensive model or brand, back in the day, but they just seemed to make things to last back then.

I still have my Maytag washer from the early 90‘s. Recently I needed a service call to rebalance the tub and asked if I should simply replace it. The repair man, who may not have been as old as the washer, enthusiastically advised me to hold on to it as long as I could, saying, they don’t make them like this any more. His excitement sounded like he could have been talking about a vintage car.

Sadly however, I think my 32 year old mixer is dying. In the middle of my 2nd batch it began to sputter to a stop then accelerate to a speed that sent the zucchini batter air-born. It did this each time I turned my back to reach for something I needed; like a spatula to help it along; or the jar of cinnamon; or when my head was in the oven checking the other loaves with a toothpick. The beaters began to pick up speed, reaching full throttle, followed by the sound of thick dough hitting solid surfaces. Everything was in slow motion. You know the phenomenon when you can’t move fast enough to stop something bad from happening.

Many years ago I remember watching Jena fly down the driveway on her bike, beach towel around her neck, going to meet friends at the lake. As I sat on the deck, grateful  she was old enough to swim on her own so I could lounge a bit longer, her beach towel caught in her front tire and over her handle bars she flew. I saw it all in slow motion as I jummppedd uup aaand rraann doowwnn tthe stteeppss tooo hheerrr.

So it was with the mixer as I rreeaaacchhed tooooo tttuuurrnn iiiitttt ooofffff.

Both times there was a mess to clean up.

So why, you may ask, am I making ALL OF THIS DAMN BREAD?

I will tell you. Some of you have mentioned that I have not posted since the 15th. The Monday after the wedding.

Before the wedding I told my soon-to-be daughter-in-law that although they had been engaged for 2 years, and owned a home together, that rituals are powerful acts of intention and that the wedding ceremony would change them.

Well, I don’t know if that has been their experience, but it sure as hell has been mine. Since their wedding I have been suffering from what Tom lovingly calls Postpartum- Empty-Nest-Wedding-Depression-Syndrome.

I didn’t write because I could not yet verbalize what I was feeling and I was so absorbed in what I was feeling there was nothing else to write about.

Henceforth, no blog posts.

So this morning, after 6 loaves…yeah I made more…of homemade bread, I can talk/write. Doing something that offered instant gratification, unlike child rearing, was what I needed to soothe what ailed me.

The truth is I don’t know how to be my kids mom anymore.

My kids no longer need me in their everyday life. I am no longer their taxi service, their chief cook and dish washer, their special events planner, or the arms that hold them in the middle of the night when they are frightened. So if I am none of these, what am I?

How do I include myself in their adult lives?

I don’t have a model for this evolved relational style. My mom and I never bridged this transition, for many, many reasons. As a consequence of this, I feel lost. And a bit, okay, a lot, worried they will drift from me and I will become a clinging, you’ll miss me when I am dead, mom.

Truth be told, I want to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I raised two really interesting people and I like them.

It was suggested to me by a wise friend, that gave me the zucchini from her garden, that I ask Landon and Jena to co-create this next stage with me. What a novel idea…I hadn’t even thought of that. My paradigm still one of…as the mom I will figure it out and present it. Clearly, if we are moving toward an adult-to-adult modus operandi, I need to include them.

Perhaps this is the beginning and I don’t need to have any more figured out…even though I really, really, like to have things figured out.

I think I will give Landon a call see if he wants to come over for dinner…Lauren is out of town.

And I have ZUCCHINI BREAD!!!
waxseal2

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Home Improvement Therapy

Lately I have been wanting all the home improvements projects done…yesterday. My mind wanders to my to-do list when I should be listening to how Tom’s day was or paying attention in traffic. I have become obsessed, or organized, I am not sure which. I  document my list in my phone’s reminder app. That way I have it handy at all times.

I have been taking pictures of outdoor lighting at Lowe’s, ceiling fans at Home Depot, ordering new exterior shutters — did you know that the size stated on the shutter is not the actual size of the shutter? The Lowe’s man calmly explained it is similar to a 2×4…they are not really 2″ by 4″ either. Who knew? And how is one to get the right size?

I have also been picking paint colors for different projects. I have even purchased my all-time favorite, a can of black spray paint. It is amazing what a little black spray paint can to to refresh worn stuff. I was tempted to give Tom a little squirt today, but thought better of it.

I am familiar with this pattern in myself. I become a DIY maniac when I don’t want to feel something going on in my life.

Landon’s wedding is 2 weeks away and instead of slowing down to feel the full impact of what that means to me, I am spray painting anything that is spray paintable.

The good news is stuff is getting done. The bad news is my back hurts and I don’t have shoes I can wear for longer than 10 minutes for the wedding. I need to be shoe shopping,  instead I am home improving.

I am fully aware I am sublimating, but I don’t really care. As the serenity prayer says, God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I can’t change that I am old enough to have a son marrying. I also can not change that my son is old enough to be marrying. And I certainly can’t change that my mommying days are done. But I can sure as hell can change the color of the fireplace and update our mailbox!!

Here are my before and after pictures. If you like them I do work for hire…

the fireplace before

the fireplace before

 

and after I got through with it...

and after I got through with it…

 

Before a little black spray paint.

Before a little black spray paint.

and after!!

and after!!

I nested before Landon was born. Everything had to be in order and perfect for his arrival. Perhaps this is similar, but this time I am preparing my new nest for me.

Happy home improving to you,

 

waxseal2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons From A Dress

 

Jena and I went shopping in Uniontown for my wedding dress last July. I went reluctantly as I had bought my dress for my first marriage in Uniontown. I thought it bad luck to repeat that history. I over road my hesitation and walked into the dress shoppe.

 

Jena was enthusiastically pulling sequined, lace covered, puffy, stand up on their own crinoline, dresses off the crowed racks. She found several she loved. I didn’t. Undeterred, she kept looking. I looked too, with little enthusiasm. I wasn’t sure a bridal shop dress was what I was looking for. I wasn’t sure what I imagined wearing to remarry.

 

Then she finds it. “MOM! It’s perfect!”

 

It is pretty. Ivory, no sequins or ruffled lace, simple, elegant, strapless, a soft taupe belt around the waist, $699.00.

 

“Oh Jena,” I explained, “I don’t want to spend that much.”

 

“Just try it on Mom.” (Never do that. Once it is on, it is hard to get off.)

 

I tried it on. Everyone in the store came to admire. As I enjoyed the , Jena went in search of her maid of honor dress. No surprise… she found one. It was very sweet; mocha colored, not too expensive and it looked great on her. Her mocha and my taupe worked. Except that my previous bridesmaids wore mocha… I said something to that effect. No one else saw the problem. I let it go.

 

I am always amazed by my ability to override my NO. This particular day my bulldozing self sounded something like this, “If I bought the dress today I got 20% off. The dress shopping would be done. We wouldn’t have to coordinate schedules to go shopping again. It was a lovely afternoon with Jena. I wanted her to be excited for this marriage, I knew it had its pain and awkwardness associated with it.”  I pulled out my Capital One card and anted up.

 

Two weeks later, with buyers remorse and a clear head, I called the bridal shop. “Can I get my money back since I hadn’t taken either dress home with me as they needed to be altered?” The answer was no. The dresses were mine. Ours.

 

As Tom and I secured the wedding location this spring, an elegant 10,000 square foot home on the edge of Mt Washington with an infinity pool, dance floor, disco ball and three floors of glass overlooking Pittsburgh, my dress choice began to haunt me. I couldn’t ignore myself any longer. I felt too young in the dress, too bridal, too corseted (you know how I hate that),and too obvious in a reducing way. My truth was I didn’t want to wear it. I didn’t like it. I never did.

 

I finally allowed myself to be honest with myself. Now what? The wedding is in three weeks.

 

The difference between my reality and my truth was disturbing and oddly familiar. It had a deja vu quality…. my first wedding. I had “settled” in so many ways as a 23 year old bride. I reframed myself right down the aisle. That young bride was now demanding my attention. She wanted me to hear her out. I listened carefully. She didn’t want to settle again. And the dress was the metaphor for that lesson. At 53, she reminded me, “we” didn’t have to settle.

 

I hinted to Tom I wanted a different dress. I did they same with a few close friends. Finally I told Jena. I felt ungrateful, embarrassed and scared of the reactions I anticipated. My young bride self and I were certain no one would understand. Chorus’s of “Get over it! Grow up! Why did you buy it if you didn’t like it? You are so much work!” played loudly in my head.

 

Instead, to my amazement, each one I told was unanimously supportive, offering love, acceptance, and understanding. Tom scoured the internet with me to help me get ideas of what I would like to wear. Trudy went with me to dress shop. Jodi reminded me that at 23 I didn’t have the same support to speak my truth as I do today. Adelais was thrilled. She thought it was perfect that I was “blowing the dress up.” There was so much I needed to “blow up” at my first wedding, but couldn’t. Jena said, “Can I get a new dress too?”

 

Two weeks before the wedding I found the DRESS. An AMAZING DRESS. I found it at Saks Fifth Avenue in Pittsburgh (I had never had a dress from Saks.) It fit me perfectly, no alterations needed. No corsets. I didn’t even need to wear a bra. I felt sexy, sophisticated, elegant and comfortable. It was clearly MY DRESS all along. It was just a long and windy road to find it… and me.

 

Jena got a new dress too. She looked amazing. I hope she knows she doesn’t have to settle.

TAAAHHHH DAHHHHHH

 

 

PS….. If anyone is need of a lovely ivory wedding dress, I have one for sale!