Tag Archives: relationships

An Open Letter To The Fathers Of Daughters Around The World

father-daughter

An Open Letter To The Fathers of Daughters Around The World:

Starting at a young age, at a very young age, make father/daughter time a priority. Make it a such a regular, natural occurrence that by the time she is a teenager, she expects you to take her out for sushi or ice cream.

When she’s six, laugh at her knock-knock jokes, teach her to fish. Walk the dog with her and dance the Macarena. Listen to her giggle about her favorite television show. Sit in the front row at her school music assembly. Let her fix your hair with barrettes and bows. Tell her she’s beautiful, inside and out.

When she’s ten, indulge her passion for ice cream. Ask about her teachers at school. Know her best friend’s name. Ask about her friend’s friends. Tell her about your friends when you were a kid. Go to every gymnastics meet. Play catch with her in the backyard. Go on a hike. Listen. Watch. Teach. Tell her she is beautiful, both inside and out.

When she is 14, share your passion of sushi together. Have her teach you how to use your iPhone.  Even if you already know. Watch a baseball game together. Go to her cheerleading competitions. Listen to her babble about things that seem unimportant. The important things will slip into the conversation when you least expect it. Listen harder. Tell her she is beautiful , inside and out.

When she is 19, take her out for coffee to hear all about her college classes. Listen as if your life depends on it. Nod. Smile. Offer advice if you think she’ll hear you. Sit silently, if you think she won’t. Just be there. As close as a text. As close as a phone call. Send her a funny picture in the mail. Make sure she knows you think of her every day. Tell her she is beautiful, both inside and out.

You have a power we mothers don’t have. You have the ability to teach our daughter that she is worth treasuring. The partner she chooses will be a reflection of you and all the work you did when she was still a little girl.

Will she pine for a boy and wait by the phone, just as she had to pine and wait for you? Or will she expect to be treated with kindness and consideration and respect? Will she allow her heart to be trounced on, over and over because she doesn’t feel she deserves better? Or will she let go of the frogs and hold out for a prince because you taught her that she is a princess?

Model good behavior with her mother. Show her how she should expect to be treated by her future soul mate.

Do these things, these simple, yet oh-so-important things to make life a little easier for the mothers of the daughters of the world. We tell our daughters that they are beautiful, both inside and out, every day. But they roll their eyes at us and say, “But Mom, you’re paid to say that!” When you say it, they hang onto your every word. Their eyes sparkle. They stand taller. They begin to believe what you say.

And then someday.

One day.

They will find a man, like you, who is beautiful.

Both inside and out.

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Filed under Adult Children, children, parenting

I’m Saying Goodbye To Fair Weather Friends

I’ve been popular. I’ve been not-so-much. I’ve had an insanely complicated amount of friends. I’ve had three or four truly close friends.

Sitting here, in my forties, I’ve looked back at my friendolution with wonder and awe.

Elementary School – A plethora of friends. Popular among the girls because I wasn’t afraid of the boys. Popular with the boys because I was a crazy tomboy. Snakes wrapped around my wrists, climbing trees, playing kickball and racing bikes – all wearing a dress (with shorts underneath, of course.)

Middle School – Down to a few close friends. An awkward, yucky phase in my life. It suddenly wasn’t cool to like school and I still liked it. I loved it. It was my escape. So, I closed myself off and hid in the library whenever I could. Books became my true friends. Books and Stacy, Jill, Sharon and Rita, that is.

High School – Back to tons of friends again. I was on the swim team, involved in student government, sang in the choir and the select ensemble and tried out for school plays. I loved sports, so I hung with the jocks and the cheerleaders, too. I had friends in every stratosphere of high school. Being an intellectual was swinging back to cool at my school. Especially if you could help your friends with their homework.

College – The pendulum swings back to a choice few friends. But then, I was a bit obsessed with my boyfriend by this time and overwhelmed with the freedom of young adulthood and college life. My choice few friends were all I could handle.

Young adulthood and beyond – Sometimes lots of friends. Sometimes not. But I’m still not good at allowing friends to drift in and out of my life. I wonder. I obsess. What did I do wrong? Why doesn’t Lori call anymore? Why am I always the one who has to contact Drew? Why is it always tit-for-tat with Grace?

There are some friends that have drifted out that I am relieved to be rid of. Doesn’t that sound harsh? But it’s true. The psychic vampire friends. The ones who were exhausting to be around in the first place. Or the ones whose expectations I could never meet.

Then there are the friends, just a couple, that I still wonder about. Still pine for. Why did our friendship have to end? Was it something I said or did? What happened that I missed?

But through my friendolution, one truth remains the same. I have no use for the fair weather friends. To be my friend you must stick with me through thick and thin. Loyalty is paramount. Kindness is crucial. Compassion is a must. Patience and understanding will take us far. I make mistakes but I own them. I’m not afraid to apologize.

The friends who have dumped me because: I divorced. I wouldn’t gossip with you in the teacher’s lounge. I changed jobs. I moved 10 miles away. I got re-married. I had kids. I didn’t have kids. I moved out-of-state. I might as well have moved out-of-state. I wouldn’t stay at your teeny, tiny condo. I got sick and you thought I was faking it. (Seriously? What did I see in you?) I went to college. I chose to be a stay-at-home mom.

All of you?

Good riddance.

I don’t need any fair weather friends.

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, friends

The Grass Isn’t Greener. It’s Just Different.

(I’m sorry for the unscheduled re-run but here is a post from last year. My sister’s husband died over the weekend and it’s been a little crazy in my house, in my head. Didn’t want to leave you with nothing to read with your morning coffee so here is post originally from September 21, 2009, from my blog’s infancy. Hope to see you all tomorrow!)

A close friend was going through some struggles in her marriage. And if you believe in coincidences, a blast from her past appeared unexpectedly. They ran into each other at a sporting event. She was with her husband and 2 other couples. They chatted about old times and he encouraged them (a few of the people in the party, including my friend)  to stay in touch.  Well, she did. One thing led to another and they were about to do something they probably shouldn’t but she stopped.

She has a loving husband. Beautiful children. Comfortable home. Good job. Loving friends and family. She was so embarrassed and upset that she had been tempted. But things weren’t as perfect as they seemed in her marriage and she started listing all of the cons in her relationship with her husband. The magic is gone. He doesn’t appreciate me. His priorities always take precedence. And on. And on.

I asked her to look at the pros. But all she could think of was the excitement that this ex was providing. She was so caught up with the magic she couldn’t see why they had ended it so long ago. And I told her; The grass isn’t greener. It’s just different.

wooden_fence_green_grass_scrapbooki

Some varieties need more attention, more water. They need to be cut more often and edged a certain way. Others are less needy. You can skip watering and let nature take care of it. It doesn’t need to be weeded or fertilized. There are so many varieties out there. You have to decide which variety is best for your lawn, where you’re living and how much time you have to devote to it. You make your decision and then work with it.

I’m so glad my friend decided not to go back to her ex. She’s making it work with her husband. But recently she told me that when I told her about “the grass not being greener” she was just listening politely to me. She didn’t really get it. It didn’t hit her until the ex said something that dragged her back to reality. It brought back all of the reasons why they had broken up and she didn’t want to deal with such a high maintenance lawn.

She liked her life the way it was. She was familiar with this variety. And while there was some weeding to do and she never could quite get which fertilizer to use when; it WAS a beautiful lawn.

(My sister and her husband had a very real, down to earth, love-all-the-warts kind of marriage. They appreciated each other in a way that I so admired. Let’s all hug our spouses a little tighter today. We never know how long we’ll have with each other.)

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Filed under Marriage

When Father’s Day Is A Fat Hen’s Day

(Warning: Possible downer post below. I say possible because I’m not sure how I’ll end this. I’m not feeling hugely optimistic and upbeat, learning some kind of lesson through it all. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to see a bright, beautiful rainbow at the end of this post. I truly have no idea where this post is going to lead me. All I know is I feel crummy in this moment.)

I’m writing this on Father’s Day night. But not posting it for a few days. I want the fun and the good thoughts and the raves about all the dads out there to die down. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade.

Don’t get me wrong. The Father’s Day we had, together as a family (kids and me and my husband) was awesome. We went hiking. We ate at my husband’s favorite German restaurant. We came home and he napped. Then, it was off to Tai Chi class. It was the perfect day for him. And I’m so glad.

But my phone call with my own father, 1000 miles away. Lackluster. Awkward. And sad.

The very first Father’s Day gift I ever remember giving him was a card. A card I had made. Out of construction paper and crayons. And he laughed. “Fat Hen’s Day? What in the world is Fat Hen’s Day?” I was probably about 7 or 8. With the penmanship of a 7 or 8 year old. I was crushed. I had worked hard on that card. So there was a space between the t and h of father. So my r dipped down a little and looked more like an n. He didn’t have to laugh. And it didn’t have to be part of the family jokes in the years to come. “Hey, isn’t Fat Hen’s Day coming up?”

Reflecting on this early memory? It feels a little out of place. I have so many happy, fun, loving memories of my father. He was silly. He loved puns. He could always make us laugh. But my Fat Hen’s Day card? In that moment, I was the butt of the joke. And it didn’t feel good.

And then there was last year.

I have always given my parents something, some kind of gift for Mother’s and Father’s day. My husband would just call and sometimes send a card to his parents. It wasn’t until we were married that he (and by that, I mean I) started sending a little gift. His parents were always so appreciative.

There was always a twinge of expectation with my own parents. And last year was no exception.

My dad, a voracious reader, would appreciate a gift card to Barnes and Noble, right? Of course right. (You can’t buy my dad a book because invariably, he’s already read it.) When I called him on Father’s Day, he thanked me for the gift card and said, “Yeah, I’ll be able to buy a…..newspaper with it.” And laughed. Money was tight for us. I couldn’t afford a lavish gift that year. I sat there stunned. And then defended my gift, suggesting some latest new releases (in hardcover) that he’d be able to purchase with his card. My heart sank. I’d disappointed him again.

This year I didn’t send a gift. I sent a card. I called. And he spent the conversation sharing with me all the things my sisters were doing for him. The gifts received. Blah, blah, blah. I barely listened. I’m tired of feeling hurt.

He and I used to have a close relationship. Well, a closer relationship. A relationship my mother was always so very jealous of. And so, my mother has come between us and we barely have a relationship at all.

When the conversation came to a close I said, “Well, I hope you have a great day, Dad. I love you!” And he said, “Thanks for calling.”

Click.

No “I love you, too.”

I suppose that was my sting for this year.

(And because I can’t possibly end on that sad note I’ll share with you a favorite clip from Bill Cosby. One of my dad’s favorite comedians – and one we thought my dad resembled: sense of humor, facial expressions. I could use a little giggle right about now.)

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Filed under family, Lessons Learned

Teetering On A Tightrope

Today’s Tune for Tuesday Selection = Kandi by One Eskimo

You’ve been my queen for longer than you know
My love for you has been
Everything step i take
Every day i live
Everything i see” – Growing up as I did, it was difficult to feel worthy. When a boyfriend, or even a husband, claimed love for me I had a hard time believing him. Insecurity doesn’t even begin to describe.

“But i heard from Jo about this guy And i want to know” – As a result, I teetered on a dangerous tightrope, many times. If another boy gave me attention, I listened. I encouraged. I often came close to crossing the line.

“What did he say?
He called me baby, baby all night long
What did he do?
He called me baby, baby all night long” – But I didn’t. Not physically. But emotionally. Intellectually. Instead of confronting issues within my current relationship, I savored the attention of someone else. Not some of my prouder moments, to be sure.

“Why? Why? Why, did you need him?
Where was i?” – So I’d feel unworthy all over again. A vicious cycle. One that I’ve broken, thank goodness. But the regrets of my younger years haunt me sometimes. I’m much stronger now. Much more secure. But still, regret lies in the shadows.

“And it hurts beyond hurt
It was a love that blinds
And a love that stings” – I’m so thankful that I am who I am. I’m thankful for regret. For mis-steps. That I’ve been hurt. That I’ve hurt.

Without the sting I wouldn’t be able to appreciate what I have now.

(Update: And the winner is…..lucky number 4! (Chosen by #2son because “that’s how many Star Wars army guys I have in my hand!”) Mary Lee of Marrilymarylee’s Weblog is the lucky winner of Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s copy of “Life After Yes!” Congratulations, Mary Lee and thanks to all who played!)

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Filed under Growing Up, Lessons Learned, Music

Dancing with Mrs. Happy and Mr. Right

In my younger days my mother would say to me, “Would you rather be happy or right?” and I would reply, “I’m happiest when I’m right!” I was young. Ready to take on the world. I thought I knew what was what. I wanted to go to law school. I could certainly hold my own in an argument.

But it took me until now to really understand what she meant.

And some people? They never get it.

I was at a neighborhood get-together and I met the elderly mother of one of my friends. She was visiting from out of state. We were chatting about her grandchildren, her visit and then moved to the innocuous topic of the weather. “The weather man said today that we’ve had 8 straight days with no sunshine,” I told her. “Well we had four days of no sun,” she replied. I thought she hadn’t heard me. I smiled and said, “Yes, but we’ve had more than a week without sun…unusual for this area.” I was trying to be more clear using the term “week” instead of 8 days. She said, “But we had 4 straight days of rain!” I just nodded as I tried to figure out if week or eight somehow rhymed with one, two or three and that she still just misunderstood. But she hadn’t.  Every topic of conversation continued in the same vein. She had worse allergies, better seat at the event, worse meal on the plane. The draft we were feeling was stronger where she was standing – not 6 inches from me. I kept hearing my mother’s voice in my head, “happy or right? happy or right?” I nodded, smiling dumbly. I was going to be happy.

I would probably never see her again. With some people it’s easy to just smile and nod. Let them be right. With the people you love? Not so much.

And that’s what I struggle with. My husband knows a lot. About lots of things. Even when he doesn’t. My teenager knows everything, too. All the time. In her mind. These moments become defining moments where I pick my battles. The “happy or right?” mantra playing over and over in my head until I can choose what is needed for that situation. Sometimes, I can be happy that the movie we just saw was PG-13 (it was R rated) and wasn’t it pretty violent for PG-13? (really, it was R) I can smile and nod and be happy. “But you said I could go to Sara’s after the concert!” Ahhh, no, I didn’t. Your grandparents are visiting. “But you promised.” I wouldn’t have promised with out of town relatives visiting. You’re lucky you’re going to the concert. Any more discussion about this and you won’t be going to any concert.

Recently, while at a nice restaurant, a server brought two plates of the appetizer we ordered. “Oh,” I said, “We just ordered one.” She got very defensive and told us that our waiter had written down two. Our waiter, was standing just behind her and smiled. “No,’ he said, “It was two soups,” which he had in his hands. He set the soup in front of my husband and I. “No it wasn’t!” She wanted a fight. He just smiled. And I could faintly hear: happy or right? happy or right? I believed him. You know how you can just tell when someone is right? He had proven to be a very experienced waiter so far. I don’t believe he made the mistake. And he wasn’t going to engage with her- not in front of the customers, anyway. But I think he was choosing to be happy.

Knowing when to Pick Your Battles and the Smile and Nod. It’s a dance I do every day. And I’m getter better and better. Pretty soon, I’ll be good enough to try out for So You Think You Can Dance. And I bet I’ll win!

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Filed under family, Growing Up, How We Roll, Problems

Journeys Shared Are The Journeys Worth Taking

life

I’ve made a conscious decision in my adult life to focus on people who reciprocate. I don’t mean in a tit-for-tat kind of way. I don’t keep score. I have some friends from far away that make an effort to visit and some that don’t. With some friends we need to talk a few times a week and with others we can pick up where we left off after months of no contact. I suppose my criteria is different depending on the relationship. But for the most part,  it has to feel like we’re both making an effort to nurture the relationship.

A very wise man once gave me the following visual about marriage. He said that there are times when a marriage is like this – and he made a fist with one hand and covered it with the other. And then there are other times when a marriage is like this – and he reversed his hands. But for most of the journey a marriage should be like this:

hands

He interlaced his fingers, joining them together.

That visual made such an impression on me. I was in a relationship at the time that was so lop-sided. I was codependently orchestrating our journey. I left that relationship – thank goodness. I’ve applied this visual to other parts of my life, both with family and friends.

I recognize that we need to carry the other person sometimes. We all have struggles in our lives where we need others to pick up the slack. And sometimes, we’re the one who needs to be carried. Being able to lean on your friends from time to time is essential. But for most of the time, for most of our journey, we need to be working together to nurture and care for each other.

Journeys shared are the journeys worth taking. I surround myself with people who nurture me and allow themselves to be nurtured by me. People that listen with their heart. Act with compassion and kindness. See with loving eyes.

These are the people who I make time for.

P.S. After reading what I’ve written I realized this may sound preachy. So not my intent. I’m struggling right now with my relationship (or lack there of) with my parents. I think I wrote this to validate my adult decisions.

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Filed under family, How We Roll, Marriage, People