Category Archives: Lessons Learned

Mom Cries Foul At 8th Grade Awards Night Or How Our Awards Happy Society Has Jane’s Panties In A Twist

There is a story, complete with proud-parent-and-child picture, riding the internet waves. Specifically, on Facebook. (Where I seem to get all of my news, sadly.)

This mom is pleading for us to like/share/comment on her son’s pathetic tale. Apparently, at 8th grade awards night, her son received his award for great grades in 8th grade but his name was inadvertently left off the list when awarding students for great grades for their entire middle school academic career. Her son was so shaken, and so was Mom, that she is pleading for us to like/share/comment so she can give her son the recognition he deserves.



I read the plea to my recent college grad daughter and she rolled her eyes and said, “I’ll bet he’s as embarrassed as hell. I’d KILL you if you ever did that to me.”

And then, wisely, she said, “There are so many disappointments in life. So many good things that he’ll do that may not go unnoticed but WILL go unrecognized. Isn’t that the bigger lesson there?” (Ahhh, now I’M the proud mom.)


If he is so bright. So determined. So driven. He is going to go on to achieve many great things in life. Some will go unnoticed. Some will go unrecognized. But in his heart, he will know he achieved “greatness.” Those close to him will know. And isn’t that what’s important?

We have become a society that applauds and awards the smallest of achievements. We give recognition when, sometimes, it shouldn’t be “due.” And we are doing this with such regularity that we want our children to be recognized for every little thing. And when they aren’t recognized? For the big and the small? We are livid.

A few times, during my son’s baseball career, I’ve cringed at the end of the game awards ceremonies. Every kid is guaranteed a medal, at least once in the short 6 game season, for “greatness.” Well, I hate to put this out there, but my kid ain’t great. He’s mediocre. He loves the game. He has a blast. He makes great strides for him. But most kids would have hit that ball. Caught that pop fly. Or made it all the way to 2nd base on an overthrow to first. So when the coach would sometimes have to search for something to praise my kid about I wanted to say, “It’s okay to give it to the boy who hit the home run with 2 RBI’s or the outfielder who made the over-the-fence out.”

But I don’t. And my kid is bursting while he wears his medal after the game. And my cruel heart softens, as I see him bursting with pride. And that’s okay, too.

Because sometimes, he’s going to get awards for things that are disgustingly easy for someone else. And he’s going to watch, someday, as someone gets the award that maybe he should have received. There’s a lesson there, too.

There are so many lessons of unfairness for each of us to learn. And sometimes, we have to learn them in 8th grade so that when it happens in 12th grade and in college and umpteen times in our adult careers we don’t want to curl up and die because no one noticed our greatness.

We aren’t always going to have mommies, cheering on the sidelines, making sure every single one of our achievements is noticed. And we shouldn’t.

The true value of an achievement is what we learn from it.

What we take from it.

And how we apply it to further greatness.




Filed under Lessons Learned, Soapbox

Revenge Of The 14-Year-Old Burrito

True story.

Dear Husband: “Honey, I don’t feel so good.”

Jane: “What do you think it is? Do you think you’re coming down with #1son’s cold?”

Dear Husband: “No, I think it might be the burrito I had on my way to work this morning.”


(Check out the Sell By date)

(Now, note today’s date.)

Jane: “Hmmmm, ya think?”


Filed under All In A Day's Work, Edibles, Lessons Learned

Contemplating My Navel. Or Botox.

Catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror this morning….Oh, who am I kidding? Let’s start again…

Staring at my new crop of wrinkles this morning, I found myself musing….

“Hmmm. Maybe I should try a little botox. Just right here. On my eyebrow cleavage.”

You know the spot. Right between your eyebrows. It hadn’t bothered me that much before. But this morning, when I was contemplating injecting bacterial toxins into my body all for the sake of beauty, I gasped a little.

That just isn’t me. I’m happy with the way God made me. I’ve always said, I could never alter my appearance, unnecessarily, all for the sake of measuring up to society’s standard of attractiveness. Plastic surgery for accident victims or malformations of the body? Sure. But to emulate someone in a fashion magazine? Never.

Until today.

In my twenties, and into my mid thirties, it was easy for me to silently judge those who were struggling with their weight. I had the metabolism of a marathon runner. I could pretty much eat anything and not gain weight. If I thought about losing a few pounds they would seem to miraculously drop off. But then menopause hit. And I got pregnant at age 40. (I know. Odd sequence of events, but completely true.) And my mid-wife warned me that because of my advanced age, maintaining a healthy weight might be a struggle. But I didn’t listen. Now, almost 10 years later, I struggle. And I no longer look at others and think “They have no discipline” or “They must be emotional eaters.”

I am one of them.

In my thirties and well into my forties, I silently gasped when friends told me they tried botox or plastic surgery. Bigger boobs and tummy tucks. Getting rid of frown lines and the dreaded forehead cleavage. Be happy with how God made you, I would think. You earned that tummy with the four beautiful kids you have. You are beautiful just as you are. Easy for me to say. When the nurse at my physical kept shaking her head saying, “I can’t believe you’re going to turn 50 this year. You look like you’re in your thirties.” I admit. It felt pretty good. But now, when I think about the wrinkles, I absentmindedly rub my forehead cleavage with my index finger and it feels cavernous. I feel like I should do something about it.

I am one of them.

South Korea boasts one of the highest rates of plastic surgery in the pursuit of beauty in the world. About one in five females go under the knife in order to enhance their appearance. The latest trend is the “smile lipt,” a procedure that turns up the corners of the mouth, creating a perpetual smile, not unlike The Joker, of Batman fame.



If you Google bad celebrity plastic surgery, pages and pages pop up like this one and this one.  One article after another, exploiting Joan Rivers and Donatella Versace, Mickey Rourke and Michael Jackson.

Plastic surgery, to alter or enhance our appearance, is here to stay. It is a trend that seems to never go out of style. Procedures improve. More people jump on the bandwagon. We are not all blessed with exceptional genetics. And someday, the aging process catches up with all of us. We are bombarded with youthful images. Appearance enhancements continue to become more mainstream. It’s hard not to jump on and ride with everyone else.

But I’m going to try. Harder. I’m going to like what I see in the mirror and feel blessed that I don’t struggle with real issues, like burn scars and birth defects. I am going to enhance what I have with a little bit of make-up and choosing colors that flatter.

It isn’t going to be easy. But I think I’ll feel better in the end.


Filed under Deep Thoughts, Lessons Learned

To The Parents Of Small Children: Trust Me. I Speak From Experience.

A friend alerted me (us?) to this article on Huffington Post in her Facebook status with a hearty “Amen!” When you bring an exclamation like “Amen!” into the picture, I am intrigued.

So, I read the article. It’s about something I am very familiar with. Infertility. And then pregnancy. And then getting what you want, only to turn around and say, why did I ask for this?

The chaos. The sleep-deprivation. The frustrations.

I know this, having two boys only 10 months apart in age, all too well.

I remember just weeks from my due date and my husband and daughter were teaching our middle son to crawl. I screamed, “Why are you doing this? I can barely see my toes. How am I going to chase a crawling gremlin?!?”

And then, just as our youngest was learning to crawl, my husband and daughter were teaching our middle son to walk. I screamed, “Why are you doing this? I can barely keep up with one little gremlin. Now you…”

But I stopped, mid-rant. What was the point?

Yes, it was tough. Yes, I snapped on more than one occasion. And when people said, “Enjoy these moments now. They grow up so fast!” I knew exactly what they were talking about.

My children are 10 years and then 10 months apart in age. I benefited from the experience of having been-there-done-that with my oldest.

With my daughter, when people would tell me to “enjoy her now” and that “they grow up so fast,” my eyes would glaze over and I would nod politely. I never quite felt the same anger towards those well-meaning people as the author of the Huffington Post article does, but I certainly agreed with him (at that time in my life) that their comments weren’t helpful. His annoyance is much stronger than mine was. He threatens to “break up with you” if you say it to him. He begs all well-meaning people out there to avoid that advice.

Well, with my “wealth” of experience, I’m about to rock his world.

I say?

Say it! Shout it! Climb onto the roof-tops and shout to every stressed out parent out there:

“Enjoy every precious and not so precious moment! They grow up so very, very fast!”

As annoying it may be to hear it the second time around, it made me pause. It reminded me to stop, take a breath and breathe in their sweet, grubby goodness. When my boys were 2 and just turned 3, my daughter was 13. Not needing me. Only around the house between school and gymnastics practice. Hugs were less frequent. And a tuck-in and a kiss goodnight was met with, “Mom?!? I’m not a baby anymore!”

My daughter, 10 years older than the next child, is a constant reminder of how fleeting those baby-toddler-childhood years truly are. Now in college, needing me so much less and at a university 4 hours away, I am missing her so much more. The grimy fingers. The skinned knees. The silly songs. The talks in the car. The butterfly kisses. Even the whining.

Oh sure, there were times when I’d hide in my closet, tears welling up because I thought I was going to lose it. I gave myself time-outs when I’d catch myself at the end of my rope. Parenting is not for the tender-hearted, and yet, it is.

Parenting is tough. Parenting can make you say and do things that you wish you hadn’t. But you pick yourself up, you learn from your failures (and we all have them) and you move on.

Much too quickly.

Because before you know it, they’re grown. They’re independent. They’ve taken all the skills you armed them with.

And they’re gone.


Filed under children, Lessons Learned

Hey, World! We’re Doing Something Right!

From the mouth of my oh-so-innocent, sweet little blond-haired, blue-eyed boy:

“My mom says that I can be anything I want to be when I grow up. So, I’m going to be an African-American!”



Filed under From The Mouths Of Babes, funny, Lessons Learned

Black Friday. Worth Every Penny. And Then Some.

I’ve never liked to shop. Ever.

Still don’t. So when my 17 yr. old daughter asked if we could shop on Black Friday I laughed. Out loud. When she told me she was serious, I eyed her suspiciously.

“Only if we go at 5am,” I said, confident that she would back down immediately. You see, I’m a morning person. She’s a night person. A very late night person. She sleeps ’till noon every chance she gets. I knew I was safe.

“Ok!” she said enthusiastically.

Huh? What the…? How did that happen? I then tried to weasel out of it.

“Seriously? You’ll get up at 4:30? I don’t think so. Besides, I don’t think the stores you’ll want to shop even open up that early.”

Remember? I don’t like to shop. So in my forty-something years I’ve never shopped on Black Friday. I’ve avoided it like the plague. I thought only large discount stores and appliance stores were open at that un-godly hour the day after Thanksgiving.

“No, I already checked,” she said, “The mall opens at 5am.”

Rats. I was stymied. I had no idea where to go from there to get out of it.

“Ok…….” I said, voice trailing. I still had 5 more days to figure out how to get out of it. Surely, something would come to me.

But Thanksgiving Day arrived and I still didn’t have a way out. And she was so excited. Sharing this story with my sister on the phone she chastised my lack of enthusiasm.

“You set that alarm for 4:30am and enjoy yourselves. You’re creating memories,” she said, “Just don’t forget your helmet and elbow pads.”

Yikes. That got me. Especially since my stomach sinks every time my daughter receives a letter from a college trying to recruit her. I’m trying to cherish every moment she wants to spend with me. What was my problem?

So on Friday morning, we woke up before the crack of dawn and set out. We drove past our local Wal-Mart at 5:15am. Every, and I mean EVERY parking spot was taken. People were parking on the grass, off the curb. I’ve never seen it so busy. What was I getting myself into?

We arrived at the mall by 5:30am. It was busy but not unbearable. We shopped. We laughed. We waited in lines. I had to go check out the deals at the Disney Store (of course) and she reluctantly tagged along. 

The line was about 10 people deep and she rolled her eyes. “This is just like waiting in line for the rides, ” she groaned. But when we went to Hollister (her favorite store) the line for the cash register winded, weaved and wove through the store. “This must be SOME roller coaster!” I said excitedly. She pretended not to know me.

We chatted on the way to other stores. We chatted over coffee. We chatted in lines. We chatted in the car on the way to lunch. We observed people and talked about that. She shared with me things that were going on with school and with her friends. We reminisced. Mostly light things but some heavy things came up, too. And when the heavy things surfaced it slipped into our conversation easy, calm. I was able to share things I’ve always wanted to say – things every parent should say. She shared her feelings with a little awkwardness. (She is a teenager, after all.)

It was an amazing day.

I remember hearing Dr. Phil impart his wisdom on teenagers once. He said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that if you want your kids to talk to you about the big things then you’d better listen to the little things. In theory, I wholeheartedly agreed. But that day, I was able to see it in motion.

I’ve always felt I was a pretty involved parent. But days like this remind me I can always do more. Listening to those little things – how many sisters we could tell were shopping together, who her friends were dating, the latest fashion must-haves, how awful school lunches were – turned into conversations and snippets of some really big things. (And since I’d like to preserve some of her privacy I’m just going to let you guess what those were.) I heard her thoughts. She heard mine. It was amazing conversation with a little shopping thrown in. We enjoyed ourselves so much we’ve decided to make it a yearly tradition.

I saved a good bit of money on Black Friday. I lost a little sleep. Looking back, it was a simple gesture that became grand. And I can’t believe I tried to get out of it. What a shame that would have been.

(This is a repeat post from my first year of blogging. But it’s a lesson I have cherished. As I’m about to approach our 4th Black Friday Extravaganza, I thought I’d send a shout out to all of you to get out there and start making memories with your daughters. And sons. In ways that are meaningful for you. For us, it involves shopping. Yes. I have been reformed.)


Filed under Holiday, Lessons Learned, Motherhood

We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby! Or How The Cleavers Could Take A Lesson From Us

There are some sitcoms that are timeless. My kids love to watch The Brady Bunch, The Cosby Show and Leave It To Beaver.  Lessons from these shows often translate into something we can talk about, something that reinforces values we are trying to teach them.

And sometimes, an episode is merely a sign of the times and a chance for us to see how far we’ve come.


We were watching a Leave It To Beaver episode recently regarding the topic of smoking.

First June Cleaver says, “But Wally promised not to start smoking until he was old enough!”

(Old enough? What?)

And then my 9-year-old son turns to me and asks, “What’s an ashtray?”

You know what?

In the last 50 years, I think our generation has finally gotten something right.




Filed under Lessons Learned, television