Category Archives: moms

Want a good laugh? Yes Please

imageWas there a time in your life when receiving a book as a present would have prompted you to toss another log, along with the new book, on the fire? Well, trust me that will not be the response of any recipient of  Yes Please by Amy Poehler. If someone should be so doubly lucky to have both a blazing fire and this new memoir, all they’ll want to do is curl up in an easy chair and enjoy the ride through Amy’s life.

I knew I was going to read this surprisingly weighty (in ounces, not concepts) book quickly after I randomly opened to the chapter in which Amy relates her pregnancy experience with her oldest son. How can a reader not be immediately taken in and compelled to read about someone who claims to have the “Angelina Jolie of vaginas?” When she shares the unfortunate news that her ob-gyn, who apparently delivered Sophia Loren’s babies, died the very day before Amy’s due date, it is hilarious. At least from my never-having-another-baby-ever perspective, that is.

Additionally, Poehler offers sex advice for men and woman, a wonderful haiku collection about plastic surgery as well as other nuggets of her past, including personal photos. She talks about body image, education, marriage, relationships, SNL and charitable works in a very down-to-earth manner that made me want to be her friend. Her honesty is refreshing, particularly when discussing her own mistakes and experimentations. There is no photoshopping of her life.

Amy includes a frank discussion of her own experimentation with drugs (under the assumption that her children will never read her book because nothing is more boring to a child than their parent’s life) and offers this wisdom

“Teenage bodies should be filled with Vonnegut and meatball subs, not opiates that create glassy-eyed party monsters.”

Buy this book for someone you really like.

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Filed under Books, favorites, moms, Recommendations

Writing my son’s college essay (in my mind)

Dear Prospective College Admissions Officer -

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I can only imagine how many of these letters you must read and how difficult it must be to evaluate potential students from mere words and numbers on a page. Since neither words nor numbers adequately describe my oldest son, maybe I can offer some assistance?

To satisfy the need for percentiles and numbers of measurement, let me offer this – he was 5.5 weeks premature and, at one time, weighed less than 3.75 lbs. His father and I were advised that he was at risk of never recovering from the health challenges he faced and that, even if he survived, he might never walk. He crawled at twelve months and finally walked at 17 months. He was a willing participant in speech, OT, PT and special education services beginning at the age of 18 months, never complaining about the demands made upon him, the leg braces he wore or the frequent doctor’s visits.

Early in my son’s elementary career he was diagnosed with ADD and prescribed medication, which he continues to take. In the ensuing years, his dosage has been adjusted but he has also developed coping mechanisms and skills to increase his self-control and capacity to stay on task. His study habits and commitment to academic endeavors are remarkable and his grades in recent years reflect his strong work ethic.

While standardized tests are not my son’s strength, his passion for history has clearly been documented in his mastery of the NYS Regents’ exams in history. While his math and science scores have not been as stellar, I couldn’t be prouder of his decision to retake state exams to improve his transcript, despite his guidance counselor’s assurances that the importance of the grade ultimately was negligible.

My son has tackled the college search process with realistic independence, researching academic requirements and offerings, along with campus activities and opportunities. He has scheduled his own campus visits and participated in the process with excitement and enthusiasm and welcomes the new opportunities which will be available to him on campus.

In addition to his interest in history and government, my son is curious about the world.  He is an experienced traveler and witnessing his response to some of the world’s wonders has been one of the most rewarding gifts of parenthood.  He truly is one of my favorite travel companions and his choices, in terms of foreign locales to visit, have broadened my world immensely.

In closing,  if you’re looking for a student who shows their worth when they are faced with a bubble sheet, your institution may not be the right one for my son, but, if you’re seeking students who demonstrate their abilities when faced with challenges, my son may be exactly who you want to join your academic community.  Like his father and I, you’d be lucky to have him.

 Sincerely, a proud parent

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Filed under Boys, Education, moms, Schools

The story of our lives

Image: jellyjars.com

Image: jellyjars.com

As I walked past my car in our island seashell driveway, I noted the 5 consecutive years’ worth of Wellfleet beach parking stickers affixed to the rear window. It made me smile. I considered my previous car, also a wagon that had displayed at least as many years of evidence of our travels, and wondered how all of these summer road trips would be woven through the memories of my sons.

I would hope that one day my children will share the stories of their childhoods with their own families – and there are some good ones. After years of traveling together, we have a collection of moments which belong to us and can be taken out and polished countless times. Like sea glass, some began with jagged and sharp edges, but after years of repeated stroking they have softened and no longer have the ability to cut. They’ve become our treasures.

Projecting into the future, even beyond the expected years of my own life, I imagine my children telling their children these stories of us. The times spent with family, together, exploring new sights and revisiting favorite places. Ordering the same meals in the same restaurants in the same towns, not as an attempt to recapture that time, but instead, to pay those former days homage.

These days and weeks collectively combining to encompass months and months of our lives, are deserving of a chapter in our “story of our lives.” How about you, DelSo reader?  What chapters are you writing in your own life?

 

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Filed under aging, Cape Cod, family, favorites, moms, travel

Expectations

What are “reasonable” expectations?  Are you comfortable with those you have and, presumably, honor?  I was thinking about some of the expectations I have and considering their degree of realism.  I think I do ok with most of them.  My problem comes when I allow something external to start putting the squeeze on me – like Hallmark or Madison Avenue.  That’s when I’m sure to be dissatisfied.

When I recently wrote my list of Mother’s Day wishes, I didn’t think I was asking for all that much.  Most of the items had more to do with thoughtfulness than money.  I thought it was a reasonable list of expectations. Shall I share how many I received and how it made me feel?

There were 10 “things” on the list.  Three were delivered, a number  I can accept.  Well, was actually more like 2 were completely met and two were partially met, which I decided to count as three.  I’m almost always able to see the positive, and the overall spirit of my wish or expectation was met.  For instance, I didn’t have to get up prematurely to take Jeter out, because he wasn’t home yet from Center Square.  That sort of thing.  So, three done with one more  that I’m going to nail before the day is done.

Today, in the morning, I was disappointed.  There was very little showering of attention and there wasn’t a single sweet bakery treat.  I washed and folded four loads of laundry and thawed some chicken for dinner.  I decided I no longer wanted to go out.  I did some puttering around the house, a little garden weeding and then spontaneously joined friends for a glass of prosecco.  The day started to shift.

kale, pears, roth bleu, craisins, sunflower oil, salt

kale, pears, roth bleu, craisins, sunflower oil, salt

I came home and prepared a beautiful dinner of slightly charred chicken with two marinades, grilled local asparagus and a fantastic kale and pear side dish. The boys set the table with minimal protest.  They helped to clean up following dinner, as well.  When the kitchen was tidied up, I headed down to the Normanskill for a walk, minus any FLB, but Jeter with riding shotgun.

Normanskill

Normanskill

I saw the end of my day in sight.  A walk, some writing, a run, a shower and in between the fresh sheets.  My annoyance with the FLB and their fail for Mother’s Day began to roll off my shoulders.  What did it matter?  Why are flowers or candy any more special because they arrive on a specified holiday?  Isn’t it more enjoyable to receive some acknowledgement of our value on a day when our children are inspired, rather than pressured?  Who cares?  Or, more specifically, why should I care?

So, Jeter had his first swim (not as much of a natural as Cassidy), I had a walk in the sunshine and now, my run beckons.  The day didn’t go as expected, but it still was a day of sunshine, good food, new experiences, friends, bubbles, exercise, and being a mom to three “boys.”

Hope your Mother’s Day expectations were met equally well.

not really sure about how he got here...

not really sure about how he got here…

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Filed under aging, Boys, Eating, family, holidays, moms, musings, Normanskill, sunday

What (this) Mom really wants for Mother’s Day…

to…

• wake up and not need to immediately take the dog out because one of the Fabulous Lilly Boys (FLB) already has done the job

• make extra coffee and enjoy it on the back deck in the morning sunshine

• find the newspaper on the dining room table without having to actually leave the house

• sample an array of baked goods, thoughtfully selected by one of the FLB, from the Delso’s Bake for You

• take a walk along the Normanskill with the FLB and Jeter, too.

• not have to referee a single spat or argument between the FLB

• a brief nap and a long run, order of said events unimportant

• walk to the Capital City Gastropub without a single complaint from the FLB about how far it is (<1 mile)

• two (3?) glasses of wine at aforementioned dinner destination

• climb into a freshly made bed with a good book

It’s really that easy. I don’t want or need flowers, chocolate or jewelry.  A card, preferably handmade,  is always appreciated and saved forever.  Could someone please get this list to the FLB?

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Filed under Boys, DelSo, holidays, ideas, moms, sunday

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