Category Archives: moms

Good morning, heartache

My middle son is going through a phase which I am calling his “asshole phase.”  Please, hear me out on this.  He is a smart, social, funny and athletic kid and I love him dearly, but he is having a very difficult time understanding that “with great power comes great responsibility.”  As a parent who remembers high school as a time of not necessarily applying myself, I am empathetic to a certain extent, but when I consider the advantages he has compared to what was available to me, my indulgence of his laziness starts to dry up.  Time to figure it out, my friend.

Possessing the myriad of gifts and advantages he has, yet not using them, has prevented him from fully participating in sports this spring.  This should be his third year playing lacrosse, but instead of suiting up and getting on the field, he’s sitting on the bench because of academic probation.  I am so appreciative of the fact that there are academic requirements for extracurricular participation.  It prevents me from dropping the hammer and once again being the “bad cop.”

Today is the last day of his freshman year’s third academic quarter and he has failed to submit his outstanding work for the past 10 weeks of school.  Looks like he’ll continue to be a bench warmer rather than an active participant in his chosen spring sport.  C’est la vie.  It hurts my heart to see him not achieving all he is capable of, but at least I don’t have to worry about him getting hurt physically, right?

As the middle guy struggles with time management and fulfilling the expectations and responsibilities which come from growing up, my little guy is taking steps away from me.  This morning, as I parked my car to walk him into school, I noticed his friend walking down the block, solo.  I pointed out his buddy and asked Quinn if he wanted to walk into school with just his friend.  He quickly said yes and happily joined his classmate for an independent “big guys” walk to school.

I got back in my car, pleased that I would be uncharacteristically early for work.  Before I turned the key, though, I took a moment to watch my baby walking away from me and felt a squeeze around my heart.  He’s growing up soo fast!  I paused, thinking about how parenthood at times feels like a series of nearly physical exertions – sometimes we push from behind, other times pull from ahead.  As I drove away from the curb I glanced over at Quinn at the same moment he turned back to look at me.  We both smiled.

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Filed under Boys, moms, Schools

Motherhood and The Silver Star

This is either the perfect book or the worst book to read when you’re dealing with an impossible mother-daughter situation.  You’ve been warned.

Are you familiar with Jeannette Walls?  Her first book, The Glass Castle related the story of her own childhood and was on the NYT’s bestseller list for 6 years.  It was a powerful story, but her tale complete with two dysfunctional parents and an extended family,  was certainly not one to which I really related.  I did admire, however, Jeannette’s survival instinct and her ability to propel herself forward through sheer determination and the desire for stability.  I understood that.

Her second work, Half Broke Horses, delved even deeper into her treasure chest of family history, merging reminiscences and imagination into a tale which brought her maternal grandmother’s colorful life to readers.  This book was clearly an artful blending of fiction and nonfiction, and Wall’s grandmother, Lily, an almost mythical character.  Her resourcefulness and tough as nails attitude make her an unforgettable narrator and woman.

This new book, though?  Well, it kicked my emotional ass.  Here’s how the blurb from the library catalog begins: “Two motherless sisters, Bean and Liz…” Mentally replacing “sisters” with “brother and sister,”  I immediately checked the book out.  Last weekend I tore through the novel’s 269 pages, stopping to catch my breath after this passage -

“Mom’s account of my dad had always left me hankering for more details, but she said she didn’t want to talk about him and we were both better off if we put him behind us.  Mom didn’t have a picture of him, and she wouldn’t tell me his name,  I’d always wondered what my dad had looked like.  I didn’t look like my mom.  Did I look like my dad?  Was he handsome?  Funny?  Smart?”

Oh my God.  How did Walls know exactly what that conversation sounded like?  Even more painfully, how did she know precisely what having that conversation felt like?  Jesus.

The passage though, that nearly broke (or maybe Half Broke me) was this -

“I think Mom believes it, but that doesn’t mean it’s true.  Maybe she just needed someone to blame for the way everything turned out.”

Never before have I read anything which so clearly expressed my own experience with my mother.  Never, I said.  That was my own mother perfectly summed up in two sentences.  Mercy.

I guess maybe I don’t have to write that book now after all.

Screw the silver star.  Walls gets a gold one for this book.

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Filed under Books, family, moms, Recommendations, relationships

Moms@Work – September summary

image:timesunion.com

image:timesunion.com

Here’s what was going on over at Moms@Work…

Thanks for reading.  Always.

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Filed under moms, Moms@Work, Schools

A bridge, a baby and some boys

There’s almost nothing like the ocean to punctuate time, especially when you’re temporarily living on an island which is inaccessible during high tide. The necessity of planning is as explicit and unavoidable as the tide chart adhered to the fridge with a magnet.

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When the tide is out there’s the shallowest of tidal pools under the bridge, barely enough water to carve the silty bottom of the marsh into rivulets. When that tide rolls in, though? That’s a different story. The salt water flows in and submerges the almost garishly green marsh grasses. The bridge becomes a launching pad for the neighborhood adrenalin seekers, some complete with choreographed group dances and cheeky chants. There’s a remarkable difference between the two extreme states of the tide, yet it is predictable and easily planned for – just refer to the chart. It’s there in black and white.

This year, for the first time in a long time, we’re vacationing with a baby, and for the first time ever – it’s a girl. She was present (in utero) last year, but nothing really prepared me for sharing a house with a baby again, especially a busy baby on the verge of walking. Like childbirth, you just forget what was demanded by those days, it was simply survival when you were in the thick of it. The minute details (each of which seemed ever so critical at the time) of taking care of a child have disappeared faster than a sandbar in a rising tide.

Despite promises made, be it to yourself, your child(ren), or the well-intentioned older person offering advice, just like you’ve heard your entire life those early days of parenting/babyhood go far faster than could ever be imagined. There was no punctuation to mark the end of that chapter of parenting. It’s gone, and unlike the tide it won’t be back.

This year my middle son chose to only stay in Massachusetts for one of the two weeks of our vacation. He wanted to be home, hanging with his friends and practicing lacrosse. I felt that I needed to respect his preference and, for me, it was an exercise in letting him go. I was okay with the decision, but I’m less able to accept the fact that 2012 may have been the last year that my boys and I would be together for a two-week vacation at the beach. How could that even be possible without some sort of acknowledgement? Where’s the chart to refer to for important things like that?

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Filed under aging, beauty, Boys, Cape Cod, family, moms, musings, Observations, Summer, vacation

Full Moon Fever*

Broken in!

Broken in!

I had a conversation a couple of weeks ago with one of my boys and I declared some behavior of his to be rather odd.  Not in an overly critical fashion, it was merely an observation or impression.  He accepted my remark with a laugh and then countered with “You like to run at night.  That’s weird.” Guilty, without even an attempt to plead it down.

I’ve got a couple of women with whom I’m always happy to run.  We have a similar pace and an unspoken comfort level with whether to talk or not, to speed up or back off.  It’s awesome to be able share races and rambles with my friends and, as often as possible, we like to get together for a special Full Moon Run.  Last night was our night and it was absolutely epic.

The day had been hot with increasing humidity.  When we got out it was close to 9pm and the moon was playing coy.  The solstice had made the evening feel particularly leisurely, and we headed out at an easy pace.  Our planned route took us down the fabled yellowbrick road and through the Normanskill meadows.  We were greeted by flickering fireflies and a delicious dampness in the air.

The uphills quickly out measured the downhills and we worked really hard.  I know I’m not alone in admitting the amount of effort, a literal pain in the ass, it took to climb the back 9.  At 2 miles, we took a brief break to take advantage of the water station on the golf course and then continued towards the club house and New Scotland Ave.

My intention had originally been to hang a right on Whitehall Rd and head back to my place, however as we approached the intersection, we all agreed it was too soon to head home.  We continued on New Scotland and did the long “big girl” loop back to Academy, adding another couple of miles to the run.

Ultimately, we did nearly 7 blissful miles.  We cooled down on my stoop, with beers, under the light of the silvery moon.  It was, without a doubt, when one of my favorite runs ever – comfortable in more ways than I could explain, even to myself.  Perfect – something I don’t say (or even attempt to achieve) very often.  Who wants in for next month?

* a nod to Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers @SPAC, obviously.

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Filed under Albany, DelSo, Exercise, favorites, friends, moms, Normanskill, running, Summer

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

Last week my boy crossed the line and said a couple of really mean things to me.  I was quite rocked by his lashing out and am expecting an apology. Looks like it might be a while.

During these days of waiting, I’ve been puzzling over his inability to offer a simple “I’m sorry.”  As a mom, I can only assume I failed to convey some fundamental component of character to him.  I can’t imagine that he doesn’t understand how hurt my feelings were by his words, especially since I’ve mentioned a number of times how hurt my feelings were by his words.  I can only conclude that he must not know how to properly apologize.

After arriving at this conclusion, I’ve made several attempts to help him formulate an apology.  My initial bid was quietly direct and went something like this: “You know I deserve and expect an apology from you, right?”  Response: nothing.

I continued to treat him to my cold shoulder, a technique which I find most males struggle to get beyond, until I took another crack at it prompted by his request to host a sleepover at our house.  When I refused to allow him to have a friend spend the night (using a minimum of words, of course), he asked if I would change my mind if he apologized.  I told him I wasn’t negotiating with him and gave him an excerpt from Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture to absorb read. The topic of the chapter was perfect – it was a discussion about how an insincere apology is more offensive than no apology.  End result: nothing.

My most recent foray in eliciting an apology was an appeal to his adolescent need to be popular.  I asked him how he thought his friends and their parents would feel about him if they knew the things he had said to me.  His response: nothing.

I don’t think my son is a bad kid, nor do I think he truly thinks I am a not-too-smart-female-dog, but I do believe we’re at an impasse.  I don’t often dig my heels in because I think parenting is the ultimate pick your battles kind of job, but I know this is a critical lesson he needs to learn and, for that, I’m not apologizing.

Any suggestions or similar experiences you might want to share?

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Filed under Boys, family, moms, Uncategorized

April Moms@Work & Women@Work catch-up

My byline snap

My byline snap

Notice I said catch-up instead of catsup or ketchup.  We all (or those of us who hang on every word of dialogue in Mad Men at least) know there’s only 1 ketchup.

I digress – anyway, here are some blog posts from my other spot out here on the internet, Moms@Work.

Also, excitedly enough for me, the print edition of the May/June issue of Women@Work is now available in all sorts of lobbies and waiting rooms around town.  Grab one, why don’t you and read my piece on page 59.  Don’t forget to linger over my name on the page listing of contributing writers!

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Filed under Boys, Education, family, ideas, moms, Moms@Work, Observations, politics, Schools, Spring, travel, vacation