Sunday, October 1, 2017

Burger King

Empty nest. Sounded so nice some ten years ago when every last minute of the day was filled with a little person that needed MOM MOM MOM MOM. When night consisted of picking up every last toy on the ground the whole time knowing within hours the carpet would consist of army men and legos and puzzles and fun. I personally rocked every one of my children to sleep. I came up with the great plan of sleeping with all of my babies. Not so much for the sake of having them with me but more because of time management. I didn’t have to run from bedroom to bedroom. I didn’t have to sing “Mamas Little Baby” three separate times. Mamas little baby likes dancing, dancing…Mamas little baby likes to boogey down. And ‘boogeying’ down with a huge 8 year old boy in your arms aint that easy. So I shifted my schedule. I adapted to their needs…and mine. I lived for them and them alone. Don’t get me wrong I still LIVE for my children. I would gladly give any part of me if they needed it HANDS DOWN. Some designer said that the only real love in the world is the love between a mother and her children. That kind of love is real and true and clean and pure. I get it. Yes I believe that! I often look around my home which is filled with photos of my life with my children. My kids think its ‘clutter’.  My decorating technique consists of photos of my babies at various stages of their lives. Everywhere. What else would I want on my walls or filling my shelves. Nothing! And when I have my morning coffee and I wander around my home I often find myself crying. I have such a blessed life. I am so lucky that I have this wonderful family and these beautiful children that are kind and loving and smart and honest and people you want to sit down with and have a conversation with. That is how I raised them. I raised them to be that warm cup of coffee; that belly hurting laugh; that come and give me a hug when you need it; that brush the hair out of your eyes; that sit with your dog and rub his tummy; that let me listen to your story; that ‘its my last dollar let me help’ type of people. I NEEDED to raise them to have these qualities. I needed to raise 3 more people to live on this earth to think like this…about others…about what matters…about caring and loving and compassion. I had a bedridden mother most of my life. I KNOW without a doubt in my body that my compassion for others came from those years as her caregiver. I tell my kids pretty much daily about those years. I tell them about those years because I pray daily that they will develop the compassion that is 100% necessary in this world. I pray and I pray and I pray and I pray and then I get a phone call and its Parker saying he’s waiting outside of a Burger King with a young homeless man who he is helping get into a rehab because he was crying alone in a parking lot. Or I get a phone call from Hannah that she is friends with all the homeless people at her college. Or Ashley is telling me that she wants to make sandwiches for the homeless and distribute them around town.  Mother Theresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Teach that. Demonstrate that. Be vigilant about that! If they have that then the next 60, 70, 80 yeas of their lives will be a good world to live in. We belong to each other. I had a long conversation with a friend of mine yesterday about the whole standing for the anthem thing. We are all divided on that issue. I understand the ‘meaning’ behind it and the ‘reason’ some kneel..okokok. but then I talked to a mom whose child is at some military academy that starts with a ‘Fort’ and when they mention it you have to act like you know what they are talking about but you have no idea…anywaysssss…. She said ‘It’s my son’s 19th birthday but he is at Fort XYZ becoming a Marine’. HE IS AT FORT XYZ BECOMING A MARINE! Her baby is learning how to defend our country. It sounds like a broad term ‘defend our country’ but what it really means is that I can wake up on a Sunday morning and make a fresh pot of coffee and go outside and listen to the birds sing while petting my dogs and text my babies and ask if they want to come over because I’m cooking bacon. I can do that because some mom taught her child how to be compassionate enough to care about how my Sunday morning will go because he is at some place called Fort XYZ learning to be a Marine. With that being said, my baby turned 19 today. He is NOT at some FORT place becoming a Marine. He is in a dorm room about 115 miles (exactly) from me, probably hours away from being awake and even caring that today is his birthday. I used to fill the house with balloons when they woke up each morning on their birthdays. It was a grand event! I have to admit that I don’t know how to do birthdays anymore. If I fill the house with balloons my dogs just look at me like wtf. So I send some texts that read: ‘want me to come down and take you to lunch on your birthday?’…or ‘text me back please I want to know what you want to do on your birthday’……… and then I wait…..tick tock….he’s probably still asleep….. he is asleep. But he will wake up as a 19 year old. Let me tell you what that 19 year old looks like. He is a bowl full of laughter. He has the wit of his uncle. He is ‘Parker with the pretty eyes’ (earned that name in kindergarten). He is a top ranked athlete in Arizona. He is a kid who hung up his cleats when all the world gasped to ‘try something else’. He is a die-hard fraternity member. He holds the world in his hands as he gently tests the waters one toe at a time. He messes up…sure he does…I wouldn’t have it any other way….to learn to be human is a valuable lesson. I know without a doubt that he will defend our country some day in some shape or form. If you meet this person know that behind the dimples and the ‘pretty eyes’ is a great man…who genuinely GENUINELY cares about you whether he knows you or not, because he has a mother some 115 miles away, with unfilled balloons, that taught him that compassion is what matters the most. Oh, and he STANDS when he hears the anthem…we all stand… because there’s some mom who has a son at some place called Fort XYZ that is turning 19 and learning how to be a Marine on his birthday.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Saw It

“No one is ever quite ready; everyone is always caught off guard. Parenthood chooses you. And you open your eyes, look at what you've got, say "Oh, my gosh," and recognize that of all the balls there ever were, this is the one you should not drop. It's not a question of choice.” 

Hi Moms, and Dads, and friends who treat those kids as their own, and fellow ‘villagers’ who help to raise them, and dads that are moms, and step moms, and whatever the hell you want to call yourself if you are raising a child that came out of your body or just simply one that lives in your heart…

If you know me (and you all know me by now) I have a love of words…and maybe someday when I am too old or tired to do my figure competitions I will find something to write about and finally write that book. In the meantime I will be happy with putting my thoughts in this blog and sharing my mind with you all. It is just as important to have a healthy mind as it is a healthy body. This is why I saturate myself with self help books, and sermons and inspirational quotes…. I heard a sermon the other day and I thought I would share it with you. “You cannot BE what you do not SEE”…
Oh, but I did SEE it… I saw her at every important event as my eyes searched the crowd for the most important people in the room; I saw it when I stepped in the car after a long day at school and was asked how my day was; I saw it when family vacations were meticulously planned to maximize togetherness; I saw it when I cried, when I laughed, when I hurt, when I was alone, when I was in a crowded room, I saw it when her face was the first thing I saw in the morning and the last voice I heard at night. I saw it when I needed a cheerleader or just an ear. I saw it in the way she held my hand or brushed my hair. I saw it when disease had ravaged her body but she still always had a smile on her face for me. I saw it when her final days were spent here on earth and all she wanted to do was reminisce about the family she raised. I saw it when she left….and our hearts broke. 

I saw it. 

“You cannot be what you do not see”… I saw it….and I’m trying my effing hardest to BE half the Mother that she was to me…so that my kids can SEE it and BE it to their own kids some day…. And even after she has been gone some 20 years now I still SEE it everyday…Happy Mother’s Day Mom.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

My Big Fat Christmas Tree

“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?”
― Bob Hope

"It's not even Thanksgiving yet, Mom". I heard this all night since I started putting up one of our trees. I have always wanted a massive Christmas tree. There are only a few material things that I have always wanted in my life and a massive tree is one of those things. I like to concentrate more on the intangibles when I create my ‘want’ lists, like love that is pure and strong; kindness that is felt with your heart; a healthy family; good friends that have your back; and laughter that makes your belly hurt. That’s my REAL want list. But ya, I also have that list of wants that can be bought, too. And a 12 foot tree at my entrance of my home was one of them. Check that off! I also have always wanted a huge fountain in front of my home, a front door adorned with topiaries, and a miniature horse if you are thinking of what to get me for Christmas. Oh well, I guess I still have time. So I brewed a pot of coffee and sat under the new addition to my home. There is something about a bright Christmas tree when the rest of the house is dark that makes you feel nostalgic. In the glow of my tree it made me think that maybe it isn’t the tree that I really wanted. I think what I really want is every person that walks into our home to feel the love that comes at this time of the year. I want that tree to blast them with the need for family and gathering. I want them to feel the warmth of this home that is filled with the most important people in my life. I want the kids to walk downstairs in the morning or when they are up late at night and know that this mom of theirs is creating an environment for them to feel peaceful and loved. This is the last year that the boys will be home until they go to college. They will be seeing next year’s tree on their visit home for Christmas on their college break. They won’t be able to enjoy it in the weeks before Christmas any more after THIS Christmas. So I put that damn tree up extra early this year so that they can get it engraved in their minds about what it feels like when that tree is lit. (I also have a Europe trip planned and won’t be home for the December 1 house decorating that we always do, but that’s a different blog post). Anyways, the house is that much more cozier and loving at this time of the year. C. Joybbell C. said that, “Hopefully, our soft moments in life will largely outweigh, outrank, and outrun our dark moments”. This is one of those ‘soft' moments, when the house is filled with the Christmas spirit. Last year I didn’t really want to ‘DO’ Christmas. I kept most of our decorations in storage. I unenthusiastically put up our tree and threw on some decorations and BAM that was Christmas. There wasn’t any particular event that made me less Cristmas-y. I just didn’t feel it. Slightly Scroogesque. How sad I think. I have decided that as long as I have these miniature adults in my home I am going to overdo every single special moment that we share together so that when it is time for them to have their own families, they will remember how it was in this home. They will create their own memories from the reflectance of our time together. Hannah sent me a video of her apartment and their tree. There was a candle lit by their tv; a tree by their window; a wreath on their front door; Christmas decorations throughout their apartment; and pillows to match. And in the one-minute video that she sent to me I could see the smiles on their faces. I could hear the laughter. One of the roommates was dancing amidst the glow of their tree. They got it…..the feelings that come with the light of a Christmas tree. I’m sure some people in some houses put up the biggest tree to outshine their neighbors or fill up their spaces. Not in THIS house. I went big to make a statement to all who enter and all who live here that THIS year we are enjoying every single moment we have together. The message will be loud and clear: In this family we do love; we do togetherness; we do it our way! .”The rest of the year, I wondered if the point of Christmas was just spending money and getting fat and opening gifts. Indulging. But when Christmas finally comes, and that warm, tingly, mints-and-sweaters-and-fireplace-fires feeling gathers in the bottom of your stomach, and you're lying on the floor with all the lights off but the ones on the Christmas tree, and listening to the silence, you see the point. For that one instance in time, everything is good in the world. It doesn't matter if everything isn't actually good. It's the one time of the year when pretending is enough.”

p.s. Be prepared for the next blog entry title, “Get this damn tree out of my house”.

Monday, October 31, 2016


“I walked over to the hill where we used to go and sled. There were a lot of little kids there. I watched them flying. Doing jumps and having races. And I thought that all those little kids are going to grow up someday. And all of those little kids are going to do the things that we do. And they will all kiss someone someday. But for now, sledding is enough. I think it would be great if sledding were always enough, but it isn't.”

They bus in. Literally hundreds of them. The streets are lined with cars. Little red wagons are overloaded. Strollers carry the entire family as mom and dad push them from house to house. Sometimes a wine glass can be seen in the hands of the parents. Flashlights light up the street like fireflies. Carefully the parents wrangle their little ones to the next door. Dads can be seen choosing the next ‘perfect’ house. The streets are alive. I sit at home without a single trick or treater ringing my door. In fact, I don’t even have a potential ghost or goblin preparing for the night. But I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember the organization needed to haul my little ones around in our red wagon. I remember timing dinner and forcing them to eat before the big outing, as they anxiously waited until the sun went down to begin their hunt. I remember the hours of choosing the perfect costume. I remember mapping the perfect routes. I remember pulling my Parker home in a red wagon because he simply couldn’t walk another step in his Superman outfit. Once home I remember the piles of candy poured out on the floor as they counted their prizes. I remember getting home in time to hand out candy to the ‘older’ teens that would come out and think ‘ya, they are a little too old to be trick or treating’, but would gladly hand over the goods. I remember being so glad that Halloween was over. I remember being exhausted from the night. We quickly adopted a tradition of going to our neighborhood ‘Bloody Bistro’, which was actually a house full of actors that created an elaborate Halloween set each year. I could also recite exactly which houses handed out glasses of wine to the parents, which was always my favorite neighbors. I remember loading up the golf cart when they were older so that we could hit more houses in less time. As I write this I can hear the shreaks and laughter of children in the neighborhood. I remember what it felt like when Halloween meant something different than it means to me today. I see the faces of the parents walking with their children and I want to place my hands around their cheeks and say “Cherish this. Cherish this with all your heart”. Every step. Every doorbell ring. Every piece of candy. Every piggy back ride around the block. Every little costume. I want them to know that their little monster or Superman or ballerina or cowboy will grow into an adult someday. I want them to know how quickly that ‘someday’ comes. I want them to know that someday they will be sitting home on Halloween and hear the sounds of young families out their door and will remember. I caught a glimpse of a family on a golf cart tonight. The dad drove their three kids in the back of the golf cart. The children appeared exhausted. The dad was driving fast, as if to race to get home, and probably trying to catch the last half of a Monday night football game. But one little boy in the back sat slouched over his bag of loot in a giant old man mask. I thought to myself, yup they age THAT fast. Before you know it. Before you even realize it.  

I have walked through many lives so far on this journey called life. I have nursed babies that turned into toddlers that learned how to walk, then learned how to drive, then drove away.  When you are in the midst of being a young family all you ever want is for them to grow up so that you can have some time to yourself. You are so over the diapers and the bottles, dishes and drama, the homework and teenage years. You long for more time alone. Until you actually wake up one day and you are what you wished all those years for: alone. And you quietly open a fun sized Snicker bar and prepare to dress your dog up as a football player and remember the days that passed by in the blink of an eye.

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