Tag Archives: parenting

Fierce and 14

Last night, I woke up to the sound of the wind howling. It was fierce and powerful reminding me of where I had been exactly 14 years previously – in labor, climbing the stairs at St. Peter’s Hospital. My progress that night was slow, despite it being my third time at that particular rodeo, and I walked up and down those stairs countless times in an attempt to cajole my third baby boy to come out and join the family.

The stubbornness he demonstrated during (his time in utero and) delivery was a precursor of the level of stubbornness he has exhibited ever since. Q was characterized by his grandmother, who sadly died shortly before his third birthday, as “formidable.” She knew of what she spoke, having raised 5 sons of her own, and I so wish she had lived longer to provide further observations and maybe even advice. This kid is a force.

I’ve often described Q as relentless. He just digs his heels in and refuses to yield and it never fails to exhaust me. In the midst of a disagreement, negotiating isn’t an option with this one. I’m learning to quietly tell him the conversation is closed for now, with the promise of revisiting it at a designated later time. It’s the only way out. But, speaking about the way out, this is the same kid who never hangs up or allows us to part without a kiss and an “I love you.” He’s wonderfully demonstrative and affectionate, sometimes to a fault when it comes to his girlfriend.

We learn so much about ourselves as parents from our children. This one has taught me to pick my battles thoughtfully, to be willing to table disagreements and to do your best to always let loved ones know that you care. Happy 14, QP.

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Japanese Breakfast

Lest you conclude that I’m super hip and actually know much about the band Japanese Breakfast, let me assure you that my only familiarity with this group is through my 19 year-old son who is way cooler than l. I’ve heard a piece of one of their songs titled “Road Head,” a phrase I did not immediately interpret accurately. If you’re in the same boat of innocence, I suggest urbandictionary.com

My son went to see them the other night in Brooklyn (natch) and traveled down to the city with two friends, spending the night in an airbandb I booked for them in LIC because, three nearly 20 year-olds couldn’t get it together enough to reserve a spot, especially when they experienced technological errors. No big deal.

I’ve made reservations for G before. He spent the last week of his three months in Thailand in a lovely apartment in Bangkok. On that occasion, just like the more recent booking, I made it a point to communicate to the property owner that I was reserving for my son and assuring them in advance that he would treat their place with respect. And he has. The Thai woman I emailed with was very impressed with how well he took care of her place, and rewarded him with the favor of storing his luggage during the day prior to his nighttime flight. Things must have gone well in NYC because they were offered a generous late checkout, giving them the opportunity to recover from their night out.

My son isn’t in college, or even working at the moment,* but I’m not overly concerned. He is interested in seeing the world and experiencing life and I feel really fortunate to be able to give him the kind of safety net I personally didn’t have when I was his age, living independently and working 3 jobs. While we had different experiences of being 19, I can’t help but admire that he went to the other side of the world, alone, for three months and came back to tell the story.

It’s taken a couple of months for him to settle back in at home, but recently I’ve begun to see some real signs of maturity. He’s definitely growing up. I’m proud of him, and his confidence in traveling, and I can’t wait to see where he goes next. Greece (with me) and Japan (with friends) are the oft mentioned destinations topping his current list. My son’s ability to navigate his way through life is a display of Road Head that I don’t mind seeing at all.

*there’s a Session job he should be starting soon.

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Bins, boxes and folders

I may need to consult with an astrologist because it feels like the planets have shifted recently and things have gotten a little whacky in my world. My head is full of thoughts and wonderings and second guessing and I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, to be honest. It’s exhausting and I need to get myself in check and put things in order asap.

Enter – organization and alphabetization! You see, that’s my technique for gaining a sense of control. Somehow the act of sorting, folding and tidying up my possessions, both real and virtual, soothes me and helps to calm my mind. Yesterday, I cruised the aisles of Target searching for just the right containers to place my running clothes, sweaters and shirts into to create a more harmonious home. Here’s what I walked out of there now owning:

My plan is to remove everything from my clothing armoire, determine what to keep and then neatly fold everything into the appropriate bin. There are a few small organizers as well, which I’ll be using in a large kitchen drawer to maintain the order recently created when my middle son finally gave me the Christmas gift I most wanted from him – the cleaning of that particular drawer. See how easy to please I can be?

With my Target purchases stowed in my car in anticipation of a weekend of gaining organization, I took on my next task: digital peace of mind. I’ve been mocked before for my IPhone’s desktop appearance, but I don’t take offense by critics seriously, especially when their phone desktops are a jumbled array of apps and icons with dozens, if not hundreds, of unopened emails and notifications. I shudder at the mere thought of that kind of lack of organization! As you can see above, I have thematic folders for my apps which somehow make sense to me.  The additional time it take to click on the folder to launch an app is justified to me since I don’t have to waste time thumbing or scrolling through my phone’s contents. The fact that my folders are in alphabetical order…well, I’m a librarian. What can I say?

How do you deal with mental or emotional angst? Stress eating? Substance indulgence? Physical activity? Share, please.

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Filed under friends, love, musings, Observations, relationships, stress, Uncategorized, winter

Hiking with the golden girls

Yesterday I spent a lot of time on my feet exploring and reacquainting myself with Palm Springs. In the morning, I hoofed it to Palm Canyon Drive to wander along the wide avenue, browsing shop windows and people watching. The cloudless blue sky and mild temperatures made it easy to lose myself for a couple of hours and I really enjoyed my alone time.

Later in the day, my friend R and I drove to meet a friend of hers for a walk, that is a walk for me to take with R’s friend, J. An MS diagnosis has caused my friend to curtail her activities and she wanted to give me a chance to exert myself, so naturally a hike with 80 year-old J was just what I needed. Um, ok.

I’ve walked and run these trails before and they are no bullshit. The grade can be pretty steep, the trail is often quite wide, but equally rutted and rocky and the surface is an unsympathetic sandy dirt. Introductions were made and a remarkably fit and youthful J and I headed up the hill in the warm sunshine.

It turns out that J, a retired Canadian teacher-librarian (!), and I immediately hit if off. Our conversation, between catching our breath from the demands of the trail, was easy and comfortable. We talked about sons and husbands and divorce and politics and life and the time flew by. Her fitness was impressive and she told me how conscientiously she has worked to stay active, how it hasn’t been easy but she feels rewarded by her efforts. She was a marvel.

We made our way down the hill to meet R, who we were going to walk a bit back up the hill with to cool down. As we collected R, another woman familiar to my friends joined us, E. Walking poles in hand with eyes of the brightest blue, E, another active 80 year-old, became part of our posse. I learned she was a retired physical therapist and it seems, judging from her level of fitness, she was good at her job. E made some suggestions to me to work on my bothersome piriformis muscle and shared some thoughts on staying active. Her walk with us was her second time of the day to hit the hill and she said it wasn’t unusual for her to visit the trail three times in a day. Wow.

Growing old can be daunting. We don’t do a great job taking care of the aged in our country and I could really get myself freaked out about staying independent and healthy, but after my time yesterday afternoon, I’m feeling more inspired and positive than I’ve ever been previously about what 70 or 80 might look like. Honestly, I’m hoping to grow up and become Rose.

 

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Things I’m still learning

  • How to achieve a comfortable balance between what I share and what remains private.
  • The importance of stretching and using that dusty foam roller.
  • How to get to yoga once a week.
  • When to allow my kids the opportunity to fail.
  • How to trust – both myself and the people I allow into my life.
  • Being comfortable enough with my body to dance.
  • Why I have so much (clothing, shoes, jewelry) and how to eliminate what I don’t really need.
  • How to yield control.
  • To not immediately conclude that anyone’s actions are directed at me.
  • Why people aren’t honest.
  • How to be better at remembering names.
  • Acceptance of things I can not control.

 

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Albany XXX

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Amsterdam

What’s up with that title, right? Is it porn? Extra large? Nope…Roman numerals – thirty, as in thirty years since I first moved to Albany.

In August of 1988 I was 21. I moved here knowing not a single person, other than Mary Panza who I was lucky enough to meet when her roommate tried to seduce me find me an apartment in his role as a real estate agent. The summer of ‘88 was hot, so damn hot. There was a heat wave that was unrelenting. I traveled to England and the Netherlands in July that year and I loved every day of dreary, damp weather we experienced abroad.

That first trip to Europe changed my life. It opened so many doors and windows and made me a traveler in a way I had never imagined. I had met a guy on the ferry on my way back to London and was acutely aware that he was great, but that the timing was not. We did, however, make some lovely memories and everyone should know the excitement of a long distance romance. When a man flys into jfk, hops into a rental car and drives to Albany to spend 2 days with you…well, you feel kind of special. I hope you know that feeling.

Albany charmed me from my very first visit when I found my way to Lark St.and enjoyed a fancy brunch at The Beverwyck. Once I got a handle on the size of the city (it’s always felt small to me, initially a disappointment but ultimately an asset), and began connecting faces and names, history and legend, I settled in with interest and made a life here.

Albany has witnessed my greatest joys. I got married here, right in Washington Park on a picture perfect Sunday afternoon. I own a house and pay taxes in the city and appreciate the privilege of both of those being possible because of the education (and degrees) I received from SUNYA. My children were born here and are students in the city school district and, while the education they receive may not be as immediately impressive as the high test scores and college acceptance rates of the suburbs, I do know my sons have learned a lot about getting along with people who don’t necessarily look or think like they do. Lessons in life count too.

I started running, an activity I never could have imagined I’d love, while a student at UAlbany and have run thousands of miles around this city.  I’ve learned to write and take photos and have been lucky to share some of my passions with an interested audience.  The opportunities here have been limited only by my own level of competence.  It’s been so cool, really.

Albany, though, has also been the setting for some of my saddest days. There are places around this town that are absolutely haunted for me – spots that I do my best to avoid because of the personal ghosts. The news, both domestic and international, that I’ve witnessed while living in Albany, has left an imprint as well. Princess Diana dying, the towers falling, the children murdered in whatever most recent school shooting…I can tell you exactly where I was for each of those breaking stories. I’ve shed a lot of tears in this town. Believe it.

After 30 years, I love Albany more than ever. The happiness I’ve known in this city that receives credit for how easy it is to get to places “to which you really want to go,” has far outweighed the heartaches I’ve experienced. I’m not sure what the future holds, (once I hit my 30 years teaching, who knows?), but these three decades have been the most productive, challenging and exciting times of my life and I wouldn’t have wanted to live them anywhere else.

Thanks, Albany xx

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21

This summer when I travel to Europe, it will be, I think, the 21st time I’ve crossed the Atlantic, which boggles my brain. What’s most remarkable, though, isn’t that I’ve been lucky enough to travel so often, it’s the fact that the next trip I will be taking will be with my now 21 year-old son. Oh! And it’s pretty much exactly 21 years since the very first time I took him to Europe.

I was running tonight and thinking about all of the places I’ve seen and all of the things I’ve learned since I began to travel, since I became a parent. For instance, I’ve learned there’s no better way to explore a new place than tying on sneakers and hitting the streets. Being strong and healthy are things I don’t take for granted and life has taught me that muscles, including the heart, need to be used.

The very first time in a new place, for me, is a consistent combination of exciting, overwhelming and mildly annoying. Parenthood can probably be described in a similar fashion. Getting oriented, making connections and finding the means to achieve a sense of competence takes some time. Again, particularly if we’re feeling optimistic, we could probably describe parenthood similarly.

When I went to London in 1988 with my brand new passport, my baggage was the heaviest among all of my friends. The excessive size of my luggage embarrassed me and caused me consider the discomfort of being responsible for a big, heavy bag. I don’t travel like that anymore. I no longer am willing to be responsible for carrying anything that is extraneous.

On our first trip together, Liam was about 5 months old. I remember organizing the transportation to the airport – a shuttle bus that made one stop in Kingston before heading to JFK, and climbing on board with my baby, luggage and breast pump without a moment’s hesitation. We landed in Dublin, got into a rental car and immediately drove west across the country to meet a friend who had decided to join us on our adventure and would be arriving the next day in Shannon. I had no reluctance or fear. It’s a big world and I was (and remain) convinced that my job as a parent was to introduce my children to as much of it as possible.

This summer Liam and I plan to visit 4 cities in 3 countries. It will be his 8th trip to Europe, something I’m kind of proud of considering my own travel abroad experiences didn’t begin until I was older than he is now. I know there will be moments when I feel stressed by the challenges involved with navigating an unknown city or transit system, but Liam has developed a great sense of direction and understanding of maps and he will be a big help. We’ll stretch our legs, figure out how to get to where we want to be, carry with us only what we need and do our best to learn by witnessing how other people live. I’m already getting excited.

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