Category Archives: Adult Children

Thank You For Your Service

My sister visits every summer. But this summer was different.

She needed a distraction.

Over the years, the number of kids she brought with her has dwindled. First, it was all three. Her two oldest hover in age on either side of my oldest daughter. Her youngest, 4 years younger, was left out of the fun much of the time. But she didn’t mind. It meant that she got to play a “grown up” with my two younger sons who hung the sun and moon on her.

This summer, however, was my sister’s first solo trip. Her oldest, is a working girl now, having finished art school and struggling with her career – in a good way. Her son is in his last year at university. And her youngest, her baby, is in basic training.

My niece didn’t need to join the Army. I mean, not the way many think. She’s an excellent student. She’s highly self motivated and disciplined. Just the kind of person the Army wants. No, Dear Niece, wants to be just like her father. She’ll go to her father’s Alma Mater, a Big Ten University. But her father was also in the Army. And now he’s in Federal Law Enforcement – which is what she wants, too. So, she’s following his path. Step by step.

My sister knew this summer would be hard so she wanted to make it special.

“Let’s take the boys to Disney!” she said. No twisting my arm. I’ll take any excuse to go to my most magical place.

So we did. And we had a blast. But she wasn’t fully present.

“What if she calls when we’re on a ride?”and “Here, I just need to check my messages again.” and “What’s the area code for Missouri? What if I don’t recognize the number?” and “What if she wants to leave and I can’t get to her?” and much more seriously….”What if she gets deployed somewhere awful?”

My sister is well aware of how awful this can be for the family left behind. Her husband volunteered to go to Iraq. They fought. She felt the kids were too young for him to leave. He felt the need to honor his duty to his county. She lost. He won.

I sympathized this summer with my sister. I tried to feel her pain. And I told her I got it. And I thought I did.

As soon as we received a mailing address we all started mailing letters. My sister warned me that they keep them so busy during the day, they’re exhausted at night. She may not be able to write back very often. No worries, I told her. We understand.

We received our first letter from my niece a few days ago. Or should I say, my sons received a letter. Addressed to the both of them. It was a busy day and and we were rushing to get ready for Boy Scouts.

“Read it to us at dinner, ” they said. “It’ll save time and then we won’t fight over who gets to read it first!” (My oldest son. Always thinking!)

“Thank you both for writing me! Getting letters is the best part of my day! I hope you don’t mind that I am writing this to both of you but I don’t have a whole lot of free time…”

My sister was right.

“I am having a great time! Every day I accomplish new, cool tasks. For example, so far I have done land navigation courses, repelled off a 40 foot tower, team building obstacle courses, gone into a gas chamber, learned all about the M4 rifle, (which I’m shooting for the first time tomorrow!) learned combat first aid and a bunch of other stuff that I can’t remember right now.”

What? My eyes scan back to gas chamber and shooting rifles and combat first aid. Yes, I know what being in the military entails. But this is my baby niece we’re talking about.

“My favorite part has been the navigation courses and repelling off the tower. The gas chamber? Not so much.”

And then it really hits me about the commitment she is making to our country. And the weight my sister has been feeling all summer. And my eyes well up with tears.

This shouldn’t be new to me. My grandfathers, uncles and cousins have all served. My brother-in-law was in the middle east just yesterday, it seems. I know what it’s like to miss someone, worry about someone, and care for someone when they come home wounded.

But my niece feels like my baby, too. And I’m getting a tiny taste, a tiny glimpse into what my sister, her mother, is struggling with every single day until she comes home.

To all of you  mothers out there, mothers with sons and daughters in the military:

Thank you for YOUR sacrifice. And please thank your children for me for their sacrifice. They are awesome. You are awesome. And my heart aches and swells with pride, all at the same time, for all of you. 

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Filed under Adult Children, family, Moms

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

Tip #104 For Parents With College Students Coming Home For The Summer

Tip #104

When your college student (you know, the one who is pulling mostly A’s and a couple B’s and works part-time to help pay for school, the one who is coming home this summer to save money) calls home, excited about the internship she just snagged for the summer and she announces that it’s not a paid internship, but it’s going to be great experience and look amazing on her resume…

Your first response should NOT be: “What are you going to do for money this summer?”

Epic fail, Jane.

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The Story Of My Life

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Filed under Adult Children, All In A Day's Work

Pinch Me. College Age Daughter Actually Wants To Come Home For A Visit.

“Mom, they cancelled my shift on Saturday. I don’t have to work until Wednesday,” #1daughter whined over the phone.

Boy, this is a switch, I thought. The realities of college expenses are finally sinking in.

I’m dying to ask her to come home, spend some time with us before the boys start school, but I want to be the “cool mom.” I want to be the mom who gives her daughter the space and independence she needs to become a functioning, healthy adult.

So, I bite my tongue. I ask about weekend plans, instead. I suggest biking or checking out the pilates class at the school fitness center.

Silence.

I joke, “If you were a little closer you could come home for a few free meals.” (Okay. I’m not really joking but I’ve run out of suggestions.)

“Really?!” she says excitedly.

“Of course!”

“Okay! I’ll pack a few things and call you as soon as I’m on the road!”

Click.

 

Four hours later my angel was home. Teasing her brothers and taking them out for frozen yogurt. Watching the Olympics with her mom. Late night B-movies with her dad.

Given a few free days and my daughter actually wanted to come home and spend them with us.

What a relief. Maybe I am doing something right.

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Filed under Adult Children, Motherhood, parenting