Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Real Housewife....

I'm a loser. Worthless. My time has not been well spent. I have consumed bon bons by the truckload while consuming the truths of daytime tv. "The Doctors", and "Dr. Phil" are my gurus, providing medical help with the power of the remote control while not requiring me to move off my couch. My colonic cleanse will resume in 3, 2, 1...tmi...

OK - now that some of that is out of my system. I am truly none of those things. I am not a loser. My time has been very well spent, I never watch daytime tv, and I'm not sure where bon bons exist. As for the colonic cleanse, that's what collards are for, y'all.

I finally actually got a real interview for a job! Then I made it to the second round! And I didn't get it. The people were great, really, but the gap, it's always about the gap, and I ain't talking about the thigh gap.

I've been out of the workforce (as determined by society), for a number of years. No where on your resume do you get a slot for the following:

Our older child has severe ADHD. He has gone from a child who was constantly complained about by teachers, to a high school junior who is well behaved, and considerate. After being told that he "isn't very bright", and "doesn't know what my other kids know" (just a sample of comments endured), he is in the Beta Club, and on the Math team. He has letters from schools as far away as Cal Berkeley, Northwestern, the University of Chicago, to all the schools close by, and in our state. How? Persistence, flexibility, research, and prayer, lots of prayer - still a work in progress.

Our younger son had health issues, and a self confidence issue. He is a Master Sergeant in Air Force Junior ROTC, and is working on his Eagle Scout. Oh, straight A's, too. How? Patience, kindness, and I have I mentioned prayer yet?

Now - because I have a hot button about this, let me pause and say - my solution of staying at home is not the solution for ANYONE ELSE! At no point do I want my rant, err, nah, we're gonna stay with rant, to be interpreted as an ultimatum as the right way to raise children. If there is one thing I have learned from being a mother, it's humility. Each one of us has unique children, and unique circumstances, and we try our best.

But I could do with a little less humility. Why is my time so undervalued by society that a new college graduate is more desirable, and viewed as having a better skill set? I have actually had my accounting skills questioned (BS - Accounting - they haven't changed the whole debit/credit system...). I've done quite a bit of volunteer work, almost all centered around my accounting skills. I was told that would help. Maybe a little, but the questions always go back to what have I done these years...

I've honed my skills for working with difficult people. I've furthered my ability to doggedly pursue solutions. I am patient, and calm in a crisis....

And I don't give up easily...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring has sprung, the grass is riz. It’s prom time, help me! Here it is!

Prom, the flutter in the stomach, the slow dance, the magical surroundings, the boy, the girl, the dress, does anyone remember? I do, and it isn’t the same. At the risk of sounding like a parent, “In my day,” we did our own hair, makeup and nails, and we felt wonderful! When did the prom become so complicated? It’s a first world problem, the dress, the hair, the nails, and the shoes. When I think of what message spending all this money on “beauty” might be, I cringe, but by the same token, I want this experience to be special for my daughter.

I’m caught up in all of the hoopla. I have been informed that “all” of the girls have their hair, nails, and makeup “done.” Can we add up the cost on that? When did going to the prom resemble the bride getting ready for her walk down the aisle? Its nuts! What concerns me more is that the natural beauty of our daughters is cast aside in yet another market geared to make them feel inadequate if they don’t spend, spend, spend to look just so. Even when I was an adequate weight for my height, I never could look like Cindy Crawford. We are supposed to be different, unique, and lovely in the way we were created. Don’t get me wrong, I adore a great pedicure and hairstyle, I enjoy being pampered, but where do we draw the line? I suppose it comes down to why we are doing it. 

I took my daughter to the hairstylist for a trial run for prom night. I saw the woman inside. She was lovelier than I could have imagined, but she had tears in her eyes. Her hair wasn’t what she envisioned it to look like. When I asked her what was wrong, she responded that the hairstyle didn’t make her as pretty as she had hoped. Well poop. That bugged the mess out of me. On the way home, while she dabbed at tears, I told her that her young man would find her beautiful in bib overalls with mud streaking her face. After all, he didn’t see her across a ballroom when they first met. She smiled, or at least the corner of her mouth lifted a millimeter. I think she got it. I hope she did.

Time will fly, as it often does, and prom night will be upon us. I have no doubt that the hair, nails, shoes and dress will be spot on. I hope the young man is a gentleman, that the night is the stuff that teen dreams are made and that, fingers crossed, my daughter will know her beauty is her own, inside and out.

Friday, February 28, 2014

26 for Life

"You can't be 53. I'm only 27."

"I hear you're considering Accounting."

"Who are you?"

It is a comfortable spot. Elvis, the cat sits near me. The music is playing. I have an abundance of books, and some knitting beckoning me. The teenagers are downstairs, happy to be free for a while on a Friday night before an exciting, but hectic Saturday. Hubby has the big tv going in his kingdom. All is right with the world. But really it's not, as the world has been tilted on its axis for some time, and the end of the tilt is not in sight.

Yesterday, I read an article. Seth Rogen testified before members of Congress regarding Alzheimer's, and dementia. No disease has a barrier stopping at the wealthy or connected, and certainly Alzheimer's, and dementia are not exceptions. One quote stood out, "so few people share their personal stories". (Seth Rogen Testifies, ABC News)

Here are the conversations involving the quotes above:
Last weekend:
Daddy - "Who are you?"
Me - "I'm Evelyn, your daughter."
Daddy - "You're my daughter? How long have I known you?"
Me - "Well, I'm 53 so I would say all 53 of my years."
Daddy - "You can't be 53. I'm only 27."
Me - "OK. I'm 26."
Daddy - "That's better."
Me - "Works for me."

Daddy - " I hear you're thinking of East Carolina."
Me - "Sure, I'm thinking of East Carolina."
Daddy - "I hear you're considering Accounting."
Me - "Yes sir. I bet if I go to East Carolina, major in Accounting, and get a degree, I could make good money, meet the love of my life, have a couple of kids, and a nice house."
Daddy - "That sounds like a good life."
Me - "Yes, Daddy, it does, doesn't it?"
(Since I actually graduated from East Carolina University with an accounting degree in May of 1985, obviously I was in high school here.)

Every family touched by this has stories - some of faith, some of loss, some of blessings, and some of tragedy. We have been blessed that my brothers, and I have pulled together as a team. Some families are not able to work it out. Resources, and faith are strained, and relationships go with them. There simply has to be a way. As for me, I will continue to be whatever age Daddy needs me to be until he forgets me completely, and then I will pray, and cry even harder.

“Those with dementia are still people and they still have stories and they still have character and they are all individuals and they are all unique. And they just need to be interacted with on a human level.”
- Carey Mulligan

Saturday, February 1, 2014

It's a Gift - {Eyes Roll}

It's a gift. Maybe it's one our teenagers feel they could do without, but it's one I freely give - unlike time on video games which is only grudgingly granted.

I can take anything, anything, and turn it into an opportunity to lecture, err learn. We're driving down the road, and I point out another driver's flaws (trust me, I point out my own, theirs, and hubby's too - I may want to work on that side seat driving). A song comes on, and I can come up with a way to discuss the lyrics and what they really mean (except "Brown Sugar" by the Rolling Stones - I am NOT explaining to them that I didn't get that until I was in my 30's. I'm already in the stupid zone - they are teenagers.). And of course, you can't turn on the news or pick up a magazine or newspaper without the opportunities provided by Bieber, Cyrus, Kardashian, the Russians, politicians of any stripe...it's a constant.

Methinks I may be overdoing it, but one is a sophomore, and the other one is a junior, and I feel like I'm racing an hourglass set at fast.

So here's an early commencement lecture, and maybe I'll try to relax today, and just enjoy them - which is my advice to me.

Don't stay stuck - I'm talking driving. People stack up in the left lane or in the right lane. Use a signal, move to the left to pass, and move back to the right. There are exceptions - understand them. Come to think of it - it does work on politics, too. Look at each issue individually, decide, and make the appropriate moves. Don't stay stuck, not when driving, or when thinking.

Never follow the maddening crowd. It's not necessary to have the same opinions to have a friendship, and if it is, then that's not a friendship.

Become addicted - to learning, to reading, to listening, to music. If you nurture an addiction to these, then you won't need an addiction to drink, drugs, food, smokes to handle the stress of life. Nothing handles stress better then to sit, and listen to nature, sit, and love a pet, and listen to their appreciation of you, and your time, sit, and listen to God, sit, and listen to the words written in a well-written book, sit and listen to an incredibly well-crafted piece of music. There is a peace, you can find it.

When in doubt, show kindness. Sometimes kindness is an act, and sometimes it's not acting in anger. You'll figure it out.

Never decide someone is beneath you. When you do, you've just placed yourself beneath them. The People of Wal-Mart website isn't funny. It's sad. The homeless are sad. We never know the circumstances of someone else's life. The wealthy person who has it all could have had the most horrific childhood. 

Never assume someone is better then you. You are you. Be the best you possible. Never let someone else's opinion of you determine your own opinion of you. 

Always remember - you are loved. Oh, and please use your turn-signal.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Hugging Distance

Letters from colleges are starting to arrive in droves. My daughter is a junior in high school and everyday a new reminder of how little time she has left at home arrives in the form of shiny packages in our mail box. Glossy pamphlets tout what each school has to offer and I see an excitement growing in my daughter’s eyes that I could, quite frankly, do without. It’s not that I dread an empty nest. When she packs up and takes that major step into the academic world, we will still be parents of a child under the age of ten, but I dread my girl leaving non-the-less.

I worry if she will be ready. I worry about the emotional highs and lows she will experience; I worry about boys, grades, distance and the everlasting need to hug her when I want to. Two more well designed packets came in the mail today and I trembled as I laid them on the kitchen counter for her to check out when she came home from school. I know her preference currently, and I shudder at the drive, the climate and hugging distance away. Unlike my husband, I am not a helicopter parent, but as the time nears to push my child from the nest, I catch myself holding my breath and taking in each moment. Even the eye-rolling ones.

All of this has been done before by other mothers, leaning out, letting go and hoping beyond hope they did everything they could to help prepare their child without the manual. Oh sure, there are a gazillion books out there about parenting, and while many are helpful, they are just like life, trial and error. I remember my Mama once saying that “You just do what you have to do in the moment and pray to God you did the right thing.” I know that letting go is the right thing, but no one prepared me for how hard this is going to be.

No, I will not miss hearing the morning out-of-tune serenade of “I AM up.” Nor will I miss the consistent need of a teen/woman/child to always have the last word, but I will miss moments. You know the one’s I’m talking about. The ones that take your very breath away at the amount of love and gratitude you have for being graced to have this very life put in your care. I had an unexpected hospital stay in November of 2013 that caught us all off guard. The recuperation period had both of my children showing their concern with a heck of a lot more attention to me than I was used to getting by them. My daughter walked by to clean a dish in the sink and hugged me on her way. The smell of her hair, the curve of her cheek, the very promise of all she is took me out of myself and found me marveling in the wealth that loving a child is. She looked at me funny, knowing that some moment had passed and then I told her not to worry. I told her I’d be well enough soon and back to riding her butt. She laughed long and hard, and so did I, carrying out the moment and making a memory. 

Thinking of that, I was reminded of my stay in the hospital and of the insatiable need to still have my own Mama taking care of me though she is long gone and spring has long since left my step. Once you are a parent, it never ends, and hopefully, the need for a parents love and affection is always wanted, even long after they are gone. 

From a different sort of distance, I still long for a mother’s touch, and from a geographic distance, I hope my daughter will still want mine. She will find herself in a world where she is becoming. The excitement of new ideas, her sense of self, all of this will be part of the process of leaving. It’s hard to let go, but it’s oh so exciting watching your child become who they will be. 

I had always said my three main goals as a parent were that my children could learn to be content all on their own, be self-sufficient, and not need too much therapy because of my parenting. I know now that I missed one goal. May they always know how much they are loved. A little hug now and then wouldn’t hurt either.