- Having no idea whatsoever of the time.
- A margarita – and then another one.
- Donuts with breakfast and chips with lunch.
- Classic board games.
- Ordering your afternoon like this: walk – nap – run – shower – wine.
- Another load of towels in the washing machine.
- A layer of stickiness that can only be created by salty air, sand and sunscreen.
- Eating off of paper plates and out of Rubbermaid containers.
- Finding a temporary new rhythm that is decidedly a bit off beat.
There are books that I read which are impossible to put down, a recent example being The Girl on the Train. I was so eager to find out what really happened that I refused to stop reading until I finished the book. I was neither disappointed, nor regretful of my decision to push on until I reached that final page and felt a welcome sense of resolution. It was a really good read.
The book I’m reading now though, is, if you’ll pardon the pun, a whole different story. Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime by NPR newsman, Scott Simon, is a work that I don’t want to finish. You see, if I finish it, the story will end and I so want the story (and Scott’s mother’s life) to continue. Simon’s book, a memoir of his mother, and their life together, originated as a series of Tweets during his mother’s time in the intensive care unit at the end of her life. The time Simon and his mother shared together in the hospital was a quilt of memories, thoughts, laughter and songs that provided comfort and solace to them both as they faced their final days together.
Below are some my favorite nuggets of wisdom. Simon’s Tweets appear, as in the book, in bold text. Quotes are the words of his mother, Patricia.
- I just realized: she once had to let me go into the big wide world. Now I have to let her go the same way.
- “You tell your children something a hundred times…You’re lucky if they remember one or two. Dos, don’ts, count for almost nothing. All they remember is what you do. Whether you want them to or not.”
- I love holding my mother’s hand. Haven’t held it like this since I was 9. Why did I stop? I thought it unmanly? What crap.
- “Show children the best people and places. Let them know they belong.”
- She will make the face of heaven shine so fine that all the world will be in love with night.
There’s so much wisdom in this book, so much love and laughter that I wish it went beyond the mere 244 print pages, that Patricia’s life went beyond only 84 years. As a mom to three sons, I can’t help but read this and hope that at the end of my life my “boys” will honor me with an iota of the respect and appreciation that Scott shows his mother. I don’t need one of them to write a book or anything, but I love the picture I’ve drawn in my head of my children sharing the memories and moments that have woven us together forever.
Mother’s Day is coming. Buy this book.
Many years ago, there was a girl who once jumped out of her second story window to sneak out of the house and go to a party. The landing on the concrete slab front porch wasn’t as light as she would have liked and her ankle took quite a turn, an injury that was only compounded by the subsequent 2.5 mile walk to town. By the next morning, her ankle had swollen to twice its size and was quite painful.
Since that long ago time her ankle has never been the same. Sometimes it randomly twists out of place, always taking her breath away. Each time it happens, it never fails to remind her of the lasting effects of being a dumb teenager. Live and learn, if you’re lucky.
What’s the connection between a permanently, albeit mildly, damaged ankle and a pain in the neck, you ask? Well, this girl is now a grown up with teenage children of her own. Apparently, the teenaged idiocy gene is something shared with her children. Case in point – one of her children (unnamed to protect his
idiocy innocence) recently was inspired to dive head first into a snow bank. Despite the remarkably powdery quality of the snow, he hurt his neck and shoulders. Badly.
Days later, he is still walking with a stiff neck and erect spine. He reports that while the pain is somewhat diminished, it remains pretty intense. Maybe that will remind him to not be so reckless in the future. I really hope so. There are enough ways to get hurt in this world without trying so hard.
In 2001, I accepted a librarian position at Mohonasen High School. Although I only remained in the district for three years (the position which I currently hold became available and I had to go for it), I made some wonderful friends, worked with some cool students and was introduced to some great music. One English teacher, if you can imagine, during my brief tenure exposed me to Jeff Buckley, Wilco and the White Stripes. Talk about getting an education!
My middle son was a toddler when I got a bootleg of the White Stripes’ Elephant and the song Seven Nation Army quickly became one of the songs he always requested in the car. Repeatedly, of course. It didn’t matter because I wanted to hear it, too. Loud.
Fast forward a dozen years or so, New York City, that same son and I walking up 7th Avenue. We were on our way to catch Jack White at Madison Square Garden… My son is tall, maybe 6’1″ and he looks comfortable. It’s the third weekend in January that he’s been in the city and it shows in his confident stride. He’s got a new phrase he’s been running recently, “you be you,” he says. I love it.
I think I was 15 at my first show at the Garden, just like he is. Unlike Griffin, I never went to a rock show with my mother, not even in my imagination. Never. I understand that taking your kid to an adult-ish sort of venue can define one as a “cool” mom, and it’s a term I’m okay with except for the fact that I think it’s too small of a name.
You see, I take my kid(s) places that we both want to go because I’m a person who has interests. When my sons and I share experiences together we always learn something – about each other, ourselves, something. I love my sons, even adore them at times, but they aren’t my entire world. They’re who I want to share my world with. That’s what I want my children to take away from our outings and shows, trips and vacations.
As far as Friday night’s show in NYC, it was very much like time spent with my guys – really fun and not quite as much as I would have liked. Absolutely memorable.
While it may be early in the new year, I think we have a real contender for most ridiculous statement of 2015. Did you see the article in Saturday’s NYT about the day spas for children which are popping up around the country? Well, I’m not even going to address that topic because folks are free to spend their money however they like, but a statement made by a Colorado mother who treated her children to a day’s worth of pampering may just explain the sad state (and future) of our country. Ready? Here it is:
“I don’t want them to feel that my saying ‘no’ means that I don’t love them.”
Go ahead – read it again. Really?? Is that truly something that a parent fears? Are adults afraid to tell their children “no” because they are concerned that their child(ren) will somehow interpret denial as a lack of love? Please say it isn’t so.
When I say ‘no’ it means that I believe something isn’t possible, necessary or deserved. When I say ‘no’ it is often more difficult than simply saying “yes.” When I say “no” I do so because I believe it is the right thing in the long run. When I say “no” it most certainly does not mean that I don’t love you.
If the people in your life, children included, believe that the word “no” is an indication of a lack of love, no amount of beauty products or treatments will ever make that situation pretty.
We’re the parents to our children that we wanted for ourselves. When I think of all the cool things my kids have experienced – the trips, the meals, the traditions, I realize how much I wanted to do those things when I was growing up. I’m interested to see how my children parent in the future.
After abstaining from running for more than a week because of a weird, intense pain in my hip, I finally got out tonight for some miles and had to bail after barely one. Not sure what I did to cause the injury, but those of you who know me, understand how hard it was to stop running. It hurt. I stopped doing it. See? I am a grown up.
I’m not really much for New Year’s resolutions, although I did quit smoking cigarettes a million years ago on January 1st, but I have one for 2015. When I was practically limping home after my aborted run, I passed a young guy at the end of the block. After hesitating, I gave him the nod but immediately regretted my reserved greeting. I should have simply said “hello,” I thought. Next time I will.
Was 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.