Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mama Stomped First.

I’m stuck on birthdays. My daughter just had her Sweet Sixteen. Wasn’t it yesterday we brought her home and I slept on a pallet in her room, afraid the monitor wouldn’t work, that I wouldn’t hear her if she needed me? Heck, wasn’t it just yesterday that I had my own 16th birthday? 

My memory is strong and serves me, sometimes, too well. I don’t live in the past, but I do cherish it. My daughter’s milestone birthday called up memories of all my Mama did to make that day special for me and I think I reacted much in the same way my own daughter did. I enjoyed the day in the company of friends and family, but did not recognize all the planning and work that went into the preparations for my special day. I know now that my Mama was exhausted even though it was a simple affair. I asked for dinner in our dining room with three of my friends and my family. My Mama cleaned all day, cooked a meal that a five star restaurant would be in awe of, and then served all with the knowledge that it was a job well done.

As good as my memory is I can’t recall if I ever really thanked my parents. It’s what I call an “Aha” moment.  Everything is a cycle. The crazy circle of life. When my teen rolls her eyes at me, I can see myself stomping up the stairs to my room and slamming the bedroom door. The apple doesn’t fall far from the Mama who stomped before. The comfort is in knowing that realization eventually hits home. One day, you look at your parents and think “Holy gratitude Batman! They love me; they really, really love me.” And so it goes, because I am able to look back and whisper a prayer of gratitude that my parents did so much for me, even when the angst of teen years, the indestructible not me attitude, and the heavy sighs of discontent must have frustrated them to no end.

My daughter had her day, full of band friends eating pizza, cutting up and ending the afternoon with a paint ball party. When they sang Happy Birthday to her, it sounded like a choir. That same evening we had dinner with family, and I reveled in how incredibly blessed I am to have this woman-child as my daughter. 

I’m one of a billion parents on the planet going through the same thing. I carry with me the lessons of someone who gave before. I hope I’m around long enough to see my daughter’s eyes widen with new recognition that this was all done before, for her. Most of all, I hope she realizes that all the eye-rolling, sighing, and stomping, is worth every moment because, ya know, I really, really love her.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Back Seat Driving Through Life

I’m turning 54. I’m struck with the quintessential “Where did the time go?” saying running rings around my brain. It’s not quite just the age and time thing either; it’s a sort of landmark year. My father passed away when he was 54, and if I make it to the end of November of this year (God willing and no natural disasters), I’ll have surpassed him in age. It’s weird. 

Some would call my thought process morbid, but I find it revealing. I understand now, with two children at home, just how much my father didn’t get the chance to see, and how impossibly alive he was at 54. I know that it’s not middle age, unless I live to be 108, and that thought is enough to scare dentures right out of my head. I can’t imagine me at 108, but I can see myself at 55, 56, and so on. There is so much I want to do and the realization that my father wanted to continue further, and be more, rides with me like a back seat driver, poking and calling attention to all I need to see.

The day after my birthday, I’ll also be celebrating my Mama’s. Fifty-four years ago I was her day-early birthday present, and I wish she could be here so I could thank her for all the birthdays and life lessons she gave me. Yep, it’s quite a day. I carry with me my Mama and Daddy and get to be surrounded by my own little family as well. Who says things don’t come full circle?

Whether I make 108 or 55, I know I’ve been hit on the head with luck. I had parents who loved me; a father-in-law who has been my Dad longer than my own was allowed to, the grace and giving of true friends, the blessings of a husband who is my friend, and the challenges of raising a family of my own. You might wonder who could ask for anything more, and I can honestly answer, me.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Today is 9/11. That simple statement can bring tears to the eyes of anyone who was capable of comprehension on that day twelve years ago. As everyone who remembers that day, I can completely recall all of it - where I was, who I was with, how I first heard of the horrors...

Our children were only four (almost five), and three, and we were at my parents - my parents who remember where they were when they heard of Pearl Harbor (real time reporting wasn't upon us then), and here was another man-made tragedy unfolding immediately upon us.

I don't speak often of my faith. To me, it's a private thing. But I believe, and I use those beliefs as I navigate an often unfair world, and as I try to raise our children. I don't use my faith as a reason to exclude or to hate. I have difficulty with those concepts. Why would you want to worship a deity who tells you to despise or murder or protest as a way to push your hate? (Hey, Westboro Baptist - those last words were aimed right at you.) Why is it so easy for them to remember the verses they use to hate with, and so hard to remember the 'don't judge', and 'love thy neighbor' ones?

I've seen hatred aimed incorrectly. We all have. Some use the internet, and hide behind screen names, and comment pages to call others idiots, fools, and worse. May each of us learn from the evils not to hate, but to accept, to care, to try.

And thank you to every soldier, to every first responder who tries to stand between us and hate. And may every survivor have love, and peace in their grief.