Category Archives: moms

The precariousness of balance

Last Monday while I attended the Leap Day event at the University Club, my tightly wrapped world unraveled a bit. It was a great reminder to me about the always tenuous hold we have on life, how rapidly things can take a turn in an unexpected direction.

To begin, Monday night has been declared as “family night” at my house. Participating in last week’s panel discussion was an important opportunity for me, though, so I made an exception and, while I don’t regret my decision, there were definite repercussions. For instance, I seriously did not know what day it was for most of the week. I just felt off.

Leaving the boys to fend for themselves and not cooking dinner on Monday night, meant there was a distinct lack of leftovers for lunch and Tuesday night’s dinner. This lead to my taking the boys out for a late-ish dinner on Tuesday night, which, of course, was an expense. I also ended up eating food that I typically might avoid – heavy on the cheese and fried, another not so positive result of not being home to cook.

During my time at the restaurant on Tuesday, I learned that we were out of beer gas, a situation which prevents draft beer from being available. When I called our usual supplier I learned they had sold their business to another company, a company which I did not have an account with, naturally. There would be no draft beer until the beer crisis was resolved. Once we received a delivery (thank you, DeCrescente!), rather than being back in business, we hit another wall – the coupling for the tank was not compatible with our system. Ugh.

And still I did not know what day it was. At least not until Wednesday, that is.

On Wednesdays I run between school and when I go to Lark + Lily and I truly believe that this is what finally reset my week for me. I hope it doesn’t sound as if I am more committed to a run than I am to my children, it’s just that Wednesday the guys are with their dad and I have a window of time that belongs to me. And Jeter.

Family, work, food and exercise each play an important part in my life, but they aren’t all I want or need.  There must be time for adult relationships, romantic and platonic, room for creativity and writing, moments devoted to being quiet with a book or even taking a nap. Keeping it all going is one of life’s biggest challenges.  Accepting that keeping it all balanced is a temporary condition is one of life’s biggest lessons.

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Filed under Exercise, family, love, moms, musings, Observations, relationships, running, stress, Uncategorized

Observations and the science fair

imageI’m a little ashamed for thinking, much less saying, this but … I really kind of detest the science fair. It isn’t because science isn’t really my thing, or that I’m opposed to exploring a topic of interest, it’s just that it turns into so much work without much reward. It’s hard to be excited about a process that comes with as many demands as a science experiment. Eh, maybe it’s just me.

Part of the science fair process involves observations which must be documented. In the spirit of research, I’ve got a few observations to share from my weekend. They’re in no particular order.

  • I’m not a bad feminist because I like Bernie more than I like Hillary.
  • The same is true when it comes the fact that I think it’s ok for a woman to want to look pretty when she leaves the house.
  • A winter walk with a friend and the dogs at the golf course makes for a perfect afternoon.
  • On a related note, lipstick has become my friend in a way it wasn’t until I was in my 40s.
  • Wearing a hat can be a real act of bravery. I’m not talking about a baseball cap, I mean a more bold chapeaux – something in a vivid colored felt or a generously proportioned straw number.
  • I don’t completely understand why folks get so uptight about getting older. I kind of think of adding years like putting another notch in my lipstick* case. It’s an accomplishment.
  • Recently, Delaware Avenue has been interesting to walk on, but scary to drive on. People really need to slow the hell down and stop being so aggressive behind the wheel.
  • In theory, I love brunch. What’s not to like about day drinking and someone other than me cooking and serving a meal? In reality, though, I just don’t have time for day drinking and a big meal midday. Maybe on vacation?
  • I thought the ribs I made on Saturday were pretty banging until I ate ribs at Jay and Karen’s. Never mind.
  • I’ve got an idea for this year’s science fair which just might be fun.  I’d say more but don’t want anyone co-opting our experiment.  Hint: it involves soda.

*what’s my obsession with lipstick?

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Filed under aging, Albany, Boys, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, Local, moms, Observations, Random, Schools, Uncategorized, winter

What parents think when their kid doesn’t make it home by curfew

  • I can’t believe (s)he’s late! Midnight is more than reasonable a curfew!
  • I’m so annoyed. Give an inch, they take a mile.
  • I hope there wasn’t an accident.
  • Were there drugs at that party?!?
  • You can’t even text?
  • Why can’t you text? Are you injured?
  • Did you forget your keys? Are you outside too hesitant to ring the doorbell and wake me?
  • Should I go unlock the door for the night?
  • There’s no way they (s)he tried to sneak in somehow but got hurt, right? Is my child lying outside on this frigid night?
  • Wait – did (s)he even get to the party? What if there was an issue on the way there? Were they mugged or even killed for their coat or phone? It’s not unheard of, unfortunately.
  • After not receiving a response to multiple texts and phone calls what do I do? I don’t have contact info for the party hosts. When do I call the police?
  • What if something terrible happened? How would I ever survive my child’s funeral?
  • Stop imagining the worst. I’m sure there’s a reasonable enough explanation. These thoughts are not productive.
  • What makes me think for a second that my family is untouchable? Is there a single parent out there who ever expected tragedy to knock on their door?
  • Something terrible could have occurred. No one ever expects it to happen to them, to their family, but it does to someone’s family every single day.
  • I’m not angry anymore, just so scared.
  • It doesn’t matter why they’re late as long as they come home.
  • Thank God! (after finally hearing from your kid)
  • We need to review some basic family courtesies.

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Filed under Boys, family, moms, Observations, stress, Uncategorized

Worst mother, best neighbors

Now I need to get some new pillows!

Now I need to get some new pillows!

Last Monday, my oldest son and I took a walk with Jeter around the neighborhood. We were about a mile away from our house when we came across some curbside treasure – a leather couch in remarkably good condition. Hmmm.

I should tell you about our history with couches. In the last 20 years there have been at least 6, 3 of which were bought on Craigslist. You see, we (and by “we” I mean the male Lillys, Jeter included) destroy couches and I refuse to spend more than a couple of hundred dollars on a replacement, particularly in light of the fact that I spend very little time actually sitting on one. So….

Liam and I gave the couch a quick once over and decided it was worth my walking home to get the car. I left he and the dog and returned with my wagon within 15 minutes. That’s when the real fun started.

The couch is a small sectional in two pieces. The small piece and the cushions easily fit into the back of my car, but the larger part? It was not happening. At this point, I was committed to getting the couch and came up with my best option – drop the smaller section at home and pick up my middle son. We were going to have to carry the couch.

I wish someone I knew had been able to witness the ridiculousness of us carrying that piece of furniture approximately a mile. The laughter (mine alone), the bitching (Griffin owned that part), the cursing (all of us)…it was a classic moment in mothering which, I hope, will one day be passed down to future generations of Lillys as an example of how crazy I was.

We made it, with uncountable pauses along the way, to about a block from our house when I caved to the complaints and called my always helpful and strong neighbor, Emily, to literally lend a hand. As we hauled the couch down the street, two more neighbors came to our assistance – big, strong guys who completely saved our asses, not to mention backs, by muscling the couch up the stairs and into my living room.

I look forward to sitting on it soon.

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Filed under Boys, DelSo, family, friends, house, Local, moms, Uncategorized

Letting go

imageSaturday was a big day and I’m not talking about American Pharaoh’s upset up in Saratoga. No, it was the first day of my oldest son’s adult life – he is officially a college freshman. Yesterday was Drop Off day, which might be better named Jump off a Cliff Day because that’s what I felt like doing after waiting in endless lines on a hot afternoon.

How come no one told me about the clusterf*ck involved with getting your kid situated in a dorm room? I suspect it is part of an overall conspiracy of silence involving parenting situations such as childbirth, potty training and your child’s impersonation of Satan during puberty. Come on, more experienced parents, you need to share this information! For the uninitiated, let me tell you what it was like…

First, you’re assigned a specific drop off time, which is silly because it truly means nothing. If you’re like me, you dutifully arrive 5 minutes early (forgoing that gas stop in favor of promptness) to join the already inordinately long line of vehicles trying to reach the promised land of “Student sign in.” After approximately 30 minutes, you reach your first destination, park your car, race to use the bathroom and wait patiently as your child queues to receive their dorm keys.

Step two involves driving to another parking area, one I ultimately referred to as the “holding pen,” where you park near other parents with children with the same dormitory assignment. This is where you have an opportunity to meet other annoyed parents and discuss the odds of getting your children unpacked before their graduation day arrives. After about an hour, and numerous parents complaining to the keepers of the gate, we were finally released to go wait in our cars for the final line step – drop off.

This part of the process is made much more exciting if your gas gauge indicates that your miles-to-go-to-zero is clicking down at the speed of light, or so it seems to be when contrasted with the rate of speed in which the line moves. If you’re lucky, a nice university cop will let you advance when he correctly detects panic in your voice as you ask him how far it is to the nearest gas station. Now things get fun.

imageYou pull to the curb and are immediately approached by an enthusiastic group of students who happily take the remaining possessions out of your car (everything other than the refrigerator already unloaded and hauled on foot by your children as they try to hasten the process) and place them into wheeled bins to deliver to your child’s room. There are brief conversations (Student: “Do you know where you’re going?” Parent: “Yes, the f*ck out of here.” and “I love your Bernie sticker!” said by the young woman in charge of UHart’s Students for Bernie Facebook page) and then you park your car in the third parking lot of the day and finally enter the room where your child will be living.

imageAnd then, it gets real. You see your child unpacking the things they found most important to bring along on their college adventure – books, electronics, that tea kettle you gave them as a birthday gift. You take in their surroundings so you can imagine them there when your home feels off-balance and empty without them. You walk back to your car and know beyond a doubt that the original cord cutting 18+ years ago was just the first of many. And you let go.

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Filed under aging, Boys, Education, family, moms, road trips

Moments that mean “Beach Vacation.”

 

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  • 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.

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Filed under Boys, Cape Cod, family, favorites, moms, musings, road trips, Summer, vacation

Unforgettable lessons

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.

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Filed under aging, Books, Boys, family, favorites, holidays, ideas, love, moms, Recommendations