Tag Archives: mothers

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.

8 Comments

Filed under Adult Children, Motherhood, parenting

And A Zen Mother’s Day To You!

image from the New York Daily News

May you find some zen, some quiet, some relaxation this Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all my favorite moms out there!

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Filed under Holiday

The #1 Little Piece Of Information NOT To Share With Your Child

It was a feminist literature class. On the contemporary reading list was The Joy Luck Club. A book chock full of mother/daughter relationships.

The assignment?

An interview with your mother.

The questions we were required to ask were predictable. How did you meet my father? Why did you choose marriage at that time in your life? What was your life like before kids? How far did you take your education? What did you learn from your mother about parenting?

What was your reaction when you heard you were pregnant with me?

“Defeat.”

Huh? Did I hear her right? Did she really say defeat?

Uh. Yes.

She did.

I knew I didn’t really want to hear any more. A glutton for punishment, I asked her to explain.

“Well. When I married your father I knew I wanted to go to college. He wanted to start a family right away. So I made a deal with him. We would have sex one night in the month of March. He could pick the night. If I got pregnant, fine. We’d start having kids. If not, I could start school.”

Oh.

“I was looking through college catalogs and I felt a little sick to my stomach. Then I realized I was a few days late for my period. I knew your father had won. So I threw the catalogs in the trash and here you are.”

A consolation prize?

“You know. I never wanted to be a mother. But that’s what was expected of me. So I did it.”

Four times. What were you thinking?

“You kids kept me from getting my degree for 10 years. But, I eventually got it. So I guess it all worked out, right?”

Uh. No.

It didn’t.

Your response explains a lot. It explains the heavy sighs. The crabby days. How we always seemed in your way. Why we all scurried every time you came home. Your nightly vodka tonics. How some days you could barely look at us.

But it didn’t work out.

Not for me, anyway.

And when you completely forgot my birthday this year? No card. No phone call.

At least now.

I know why.

20 Comments

Filed under Moms, Motherhood

Like Mother, Like Son Or Is It The Other Way Around?

Five minutes from home, I noticed a voice mail message on my cell phone.

“I hope you receive this before you get home but #2son is complaining of a stomach ache. He’s in the infirmary now and you’ll need to come pick him up.”

I just dropped them off at school 20 minutes ago. He seemed fine.

It figures.

I was raised in a Western Medicine household. My great-uncle was our pediatrician. My mother was a intensive care nurse. There are more nurses, a surgeon and a general practitioner.

So I go off and marry a man who practices Eastern Medicine. I could just have well married a man from Mars.

“Are you sure these herbs are safe?” “Why am I taking all three of these?” “What does this one do?” “What if I just took that herb?” “I’m supposed to take how many? Are you sure that’s the right dose?” “Will this react with anything else I’m taking?”

My husband calls me his worst patient.

It’s OK.

He’s right.

When we arrive home, I call my husband. I tell him the symptoms our 6-year-old son is experiencing and he confirms my diagnosis. Well, not my diagnosis, but the herbs that I was planning on giving him.

“What did Daddy say?”

“He said it sounds like a damp cold pathogen in your digestion,” I tell him, getting the herbs from the cabinet.

“What are you giving me?”

“OK,” I say to my son, “These are for your tummy and these herbs are just in case it’s something more.”

“Something more?” my son asks.

“Yes. More than just a tummy ache.”

“But what if it’s not? What if it’s just a tummy ache?” He holds up the second dose of herbs to show me.  “Will these pills damage my body if it’s not just a tummy ache?”

“No, those herbs will not damage your body if it’s not just a tummy ache.” I’m fighting back the giggles.

“Are you sure?” He questions.

By now I’m laughing. I can’t help myself.

“You ARE your mother’s son!” I say.

“Of course I am, ” he quips, exasperated, “Everyone can see that!”

Yes. Yes they can.

 

(My week started out with two heavy posts so I’ve ended my week with some light-hearted family entertainment. I usually don’t focus on my kids too much here so if this isn’t what you’re looking for, I apologize. I suppose I’ve been spending some time lately counting my blessings. (And now #1son is going to wonder why he didn’t get any press time. I’d better start cracking!) Stay tuned next week for more thought-provoking words of wisdom. Or not. You’ll just have to wait and see!)

22 Comments

Filed under children, funny

Now Showing In A Neighborhood Near You – The Wrap Party

FADE IN. Comfy living room open to kitchen area. A mouth-watering buffet is set. Beverages of all kinds, including YOUR favorite libation. All of Plain Jane’s blogging buddies are chatting and relaxing, laughing and sharing….

Thank  you, all, for your supportive comments yesterday. That post was a nice burden to unload. (And a fun way to unload it!) But it still frustrates me that I stood there like an idiot. I feel like I let my son down.

A few of you asked about my friend’s suggested retort. I’m probably mis-remembering (so correct me if I’m way off, K!) but it went along the lines of this: “Oh! That’s why we chose Even Better Montessori for our boys. We WANT diversity. We want our Asian son to feel confident and secure and accepted in his school environment. We want to teach our children that what matters is on the inside, not the color of your skin.”

Great response but as Annah pointed out, a garden party may not have been the time to educate.

And staying away from these women? Pretty much impossible. And quite honestly, the comment wasn’t said in a mean-spirited tone. The Pollyanna in me would like to think that what they were getting at was that the school population of Perfect Grades Elementary was made up of “like-minded” individuals. And we all want that, really.

The school my children attend is a beautiful mix of skin colors. There are many reasons we chose that school but the blended skin tones was a plus. And the parents are willing to shell out tuition to ensure a strong education for their child. There are mandatory volunteer hours for each family. The campus is set on many acres with walking trails, sheep, goats and chickens, raised earth gardens and compost bins. It’s a beautiful environment that we chose to reflect our values.

At least, I’m hoping that’s what those women were getting at about their school. Hopefully, they just have a misguided view that homogeneous means shared values.

I need to stop beating myself up about this.

But I still wish I had been woMAN enough to have said something. Anything to let them know how offensive their comments were.

Instead of just standing there.

It’s done. I can’t transport myself back to that moment in time. I can only move forward and give my children an extra hug. And try to be prepared if it ever happens again.

Ok.

That’s a wrap!

21 Comments

Filed under Be-Causes, Lessons Learned

Now Showing In A Neighborhood Near You!

FADE-IN. Beautiful garden pool party. The sun is setting and children are playing in the pool. The beautiful people mingle and talk, carrying drinks in their hands save one plain Jane, trying to fit in. Soft conversations and the laughter of children can be heard in the background. Four women are talking together in a group.

WOMAN #1

Oh, we just LOVE Perfect Grades Elementary! Absolutely LOVE it!

WOMAN #2

We had Mrs. Spectacular this year. For kindergarten. She is a gem!

PLAIN JANE

Oh, is it a K-5 school?

WOMAN #2

Yes, it is. And they’re making it a Charter School next year. They’ll be offering karate, piano, Chinese, expanded art classes. I can’t wait.

WOMAN #3

I know. I hate it that my little Allie is graduating. We’re going to miss it!

PLAIN JANE

What are the class sizes like?

WOMAN #2

Oh, the average size. But every class has an aid and the kids are so well-behaved. They WANT to be there.

WOMAN #3

And, most of the kids are (her words are barely audible, muddled by the shouts of the children playing in the pool)

Thinking she misheard, Jane leans in closer.

PLAIN JANE

Pardon me?

WOMAN #1 and WOMAN #3

(leaning in together and whispering)

White

Plain Jane is speechless and unable to overcome her shock. She glances over at her Asian son playing with the other white children. The chatter among the women continues as Jane fades into the background.

This scene actually happened to me this past weekend. A gorgeous garden party in our subdivision. The perfect evening. And when those women repeated the word “white” I stood there, unable to utter a sound. I thought, in that moment, that this is going to be one of those times when I’ll think of the perfect thing to say as soon as we get into the car to go home.

But I didn’t. And days later, it is still bothering me.

I shared this scene with a dear friend and neighbor of mine. She had to miss the party. I was relaying the scene and before I could finish she said, “Oh, I know EXACTLY what I would have said. I would have said….” And then she rattled off the perfect retort. (Just one of the reasons I love her so!)

But what would YOU say? How would you finish the scene?

 

 

38 Comments

Filed under Observations

Selective Memory – Crazy or Coping Mechanism?

I have selective memory. It drives my husband crazy. It drives me crazy sometimes.

For example…

This past Mother’s Day was wonderful. One of the best ever. And my husband was an absolute angel, treated me like a queen. When my sister asked me how my Mother’s Day was, I told her it was fantastic.

I asked her how her’s was. Less than fantastic. In fact, it was horrible and it all started on Saturday night when her husband….

Oops. Wait. I remember now. Mine wasn’t so hot. Well, it was, but it didn’t start out that way.

(Let’s play a little Mad Libs, shall we?)

You see, on Saturday, my husband decided to (insert activity) even though I asked him not to. It was something he does (time reference) and I usually have no problem with it. In fact, I never have a problem with it. But it was Mother’s Day weekend and it was sure to (verb) with Sunday. He did it anyway. So at (insert time of day) when he decided to (insert activity) and it (past tense verb) me, I was more than ticked. Mother’s Day started off with a (adjective.)

But the rest of the day was great. Fantastic. Magical, even.

My Pollyanna brain chooses to focus on the magical and forget the awful 24 hours preceeding Mother’s Day. Simple as that. It keeps me sane.

But there is something about my selective memory that really bother me. It eats away at me. It’s a nagging thorn in my parenting manual. What about my childhood memories of my mother?

I try. I really, really try, to remember the positive. You’d think, with my Pollyanna approach, the positive would be all I’d remember. But I can’t. I have fuzzy images of her smiling or laughing – but it either feels forced or it’s in a large group and she’s putting on her show.

There are pictures of her reading to us. But the only memory I have of her reading to me involves us cuddled together on an oversized chair while she lets me have sips of her White Russian (at age 5).

By the time I was a teenager I had learned the art of manipulation. My mother is a shopper. And when you’re in her good graces, she buys you stuff. Lots of stuff. And my parents had the money to buy us lots and lots of stuff. I remember a few shopping trips with me finagling some pretty pricey items (leather jacket, designer jeans, cashmere sweater, jewelry) because I was “Golden Girl” for that week. I was happy in that moment. But the little black cloud of being indebted to her makes that happiness fleeting.

I try. I rack my brain, picturing kindergarten, 2nd grade, 5th grade, 9th grade. Nothing. She is absent from any real memories. I can see my dad. My grandparents. I see my cousins, aunts. No mom. And if I do see her she has her arms folded over her chest and she’s glaring.

What childhood memories do I have?

Testing the waters each day to gauge the mood she was in and wondering if this was the day I could ask her about: going to a friend’s party, staying after school for a project, going to the mall or a movie.

Making vodka tonics for her when she got home from work, waiting anxiously for the bad mood to pass and her “couldn’t care less” attitude to take hold.

Keeping my three younger sisters quiet because she was studying or she was sleeping or she was sick.

My mother pulling my sister by the hair to get her to do something.

Laughing when we flinched if she made a sudden move, thinking we were about to be slapped.

The way she would barge into our room with such force, without knocking or calling out, and how we’d jump three feet into the air, hearts pounding.

Fists through the wall. Broken glass. Slamming doors.

Yelling. Lots of yelling.

Silence. Tip-toeing. Daring not to disturb the sleeping giant.

Because I have so few happy memories with my own mother I am panicked that I’m not creating them with my own children. I quiz my daughter, acting as if it’s a light-hearted exercise, “What’s your favorite memory of you and I when you were in grade school?” or “What’s a favorite vacation we took when you were little?”

The exercise is two-fold. I’m trying to reassure myself that I AM doing a good job. That I’m not repeating my mother’s mistakes. But I’m also trying to ingrain these positive memories, praying that she doesn’t forget the good times.

This is a part of me I’m not proud of. This insecurity I carry is unattractive and stifling. But I can’t seem to let it go. It keeps me focused. It keeps me from repeating negative behaviors.

And I desperately pray, it keeps the good childhood memories flowing for my precious angels.

(This post is part of the Five For Ten project at Momalom. Please visit their site for more wonderful posts on Memory. Or click the button below to find out how YOU can participate!)

28 Comments

Filed under children, Growing Up, Moms, Motherhood, parenting

But They KNOW Better, Right?

(This Hey! That Reminds Me! edition was inspired by Elastamom’s post Holland Sucks Sometimes)

In college, taking classes on child development – if my professors were talking about little knee grabbers (anyone under the age of 10)?  I tuned out. I was never going to teach the itty bitties. Ever.

In my Adolescent Psych classes I was mesmerized by theory on the development of the brain and how certain areas were still not developed in a teen. The areas that control perceptions of permanence and danger.

Why I couldn’t understand that this would apply to my own children? At every stage of development? I don’t know. Major disconnect.

I breezed through parenting with my daughter. She was easy. Obedient. (Most of the time.) An angel. (Much of the time.)

Then I had boys.

Tiffany, at Elastamom, was sharing some struggles with her daughter. The phrase that struck me was, “She KNOWS better.” How many times have I repeated that phrase in my brain? Countless times. Biting my tongue, so as not to let it escape.

And then? An epiphany.

I read an article in a parenting magazine about impulse control in toddlers. Wait. Scratch that. It was about the LACK of impulse control in toddlers. How their tiny little brains simply could not resist temptation. The logical part of me nodded in agreement. The emotional side of me thought, “But they KNOW better.”

How many times had I asked the boys not to put their hands on the television screen? How many times did we warn them about climbing the furniture? How many times did we say: “Sit on your bottom,” “Don’t run in the house,” “Chairs are for sitting” ?

One afternoon, folding laundry on our breakfast room table, I had a clear view to the family room. My toddler son was watching TV and playing with his cars. His favorite character, Ernie from Sesame Street, was on. Showing his favorite toy, Rubber Ducky. He was talking about how much he loved his toy, how much he loved its squeak, the way it fit in his hand.

My son wanted to touch Rubber Ducky. You could see it in his eyes. He walked over to the television and started to reach out for Rubber Ducky. He saw his right hand reaching for the television screen. He took his left hand and grabbed his right wrist. I could see the tortured look of frustration in his eyes. His left hand trying in a futile attempt to pull back his right hand. And then, his shoulders slumped. Resignation. He let go. And allowed his hand to touch the television screen in an attempt to touch Rubber Ducky.

Then, he remembered I was close by. He looked at me with sad eyes.

He knew better. But he couldn’t help himself. That sweet little part of his brain wasn’t fully developed yet. One part understood the 100 times we had asked him not to touch the television screen. The other part simply wanted to touch Rubber Ducky.

I scooped him up in my arms and hugged him close. I whispered, “Sometimes it’s hard.” I felt his shoulders slump again, this time in relief.

Tiffany is dealing with something much bigger. Her child has Cri du Chat syndrome. But her struggle is real for all of us.

Our children know better. Yet they still fail. They still make mistakes. They struggle, just like us.

What is important, what is critical — is how we choose to respond.

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Filed under Hey! That Reminds Me!

Out Of Touch Mom Gets Lesson In Pop Teen Culture

My daughter is currently between boyfriends. The other day, I asked her a question…

“So, any crushes you want to share with your old mom?”

“No. Not really,” she mused.

“Not really? Ooooo, sounds like there’s someone!” I said, smiling.

“Well, I suppose there’s always Taylor Lautner but there’s no chance of THAT ever happening,” she answered.

“Why not? Don’t sell yourself short! You are a beautiful, intelligent, wise, amazing young woman. Taylor would be lucky to have you! Why wouldn’t he be interested in you?”

“Well, geography for one thing,” she grinned.

“Your dad and I had a long distance relationship for a while and it worked out just fine,” I replied.  

“Mom,” she laughed, “Do you even know who Taylor Lautner is?”

“No. Why?”

“He played Jacob Black in Twilight. Really, Mom. He quite honestly doesn’t even know I exist.” She’s laughing now, trying to hold it back.

“Oh,” I chuckled, “I see. Well, you’re probably right.”

And now we’re both in a fit of uncontrollable giggles.  

(So I suppose my self-deprecating comment earlier about being her “old mom” is absolutely spot on. Oh, I am so out of touch!)

25 Comments

Filed under funny, Lessons Learned, Motherhood

So Hard On Ourselves, Why Are We So Hard On Each Other?

Yesterday’s post from Kristen’s at Motherese had me thinking all day. A few days ago there was Aiden at Ivy League Insecurities exploring thoughts in this post. Just before the weekend there was this post from Sandy at Momisodes. And like a good movie, if you’re still thinking about it the next day, you know it was good. All of the posts dealt with the degree of guilt we take on as mothers, second guessing ourselves and our decisions.

Kristen’s post tackled the struggle between working moms and SAHmoms. More specifically, how we, fellow mothers, crucify each other if the choice of another mother doesn’t match our own. It got me thinking about one of my favorite songs by Tori Amos, aptly named, Crucify.

This song is off the first album I ever purchased by Tori. It’s considered her debut album. I know every song on this album so well I have no idea which ones were played on the radio, which ones were most popular. I identified with so many of the songs  – and Crucify is one of my favorites.

Thinking this would be a great song for a Tunes for Tuesday post, I sat back and listened. I almost didn’t go with it. I wanted something current. This isn’t. I was hoping I’d choose a lighter, happier song – like a love song. This isn’t.

But a song that still resonates in me now – as it did almost 20 years ago? This is. And that’s a bit scary to me.

I just had to dive in.

“Every finger in the room
is pointing at me
I wanna spit in their faces
Then I get afraid of what that could bring” – I’m the type that thinks of the absolute perfect comeback. Fifteen minutes later. In the moment? My insides are jelly.

“I got a bowling ball in my stomach
I got a desert in my mouth
Figures that my courage would choose to sell out now” – I’ve been challenged about my own choices as a mother. Am I calm, decisive and direct? Nope. I’m defensive, insecure and shaken.

“Why do we
Crucify ourselves
Every day
I crucify myself
Nothing I do is good enough for you
Crucify myself
Every day
And my heart is sick of being in chains” – I was a young adult when I first found this song. Trying desperately to break away from a very dysfunctional mother. What scares me now is that I can still apply this song to my life, with other people, almost 20 years later. Have I not grown? Have I not learned? Why am I repeating patterns?

“I’ve been looking for a savior in these dirty streets
looking for a savior beneath these dirty sheets
I’ve been raising up my hands
Drive another nail in” – As mothers, we are so hard on ourselves. What I don’t understand is why we have to be so hard on each other.

“Got enough guilt to start
my own religion” – I love this line. I was raised Catholic. I know a lot about guilt. And then I became a mother. I didn’t need the Catholic Church anymore. I had the Church of Motherhood, showering guilt down every day. Do I work? Do I stay at home? Do I let her have processed cheese? Candy? Soda? How many activities are too much? Are they socialized well enough? Too much TV? Why isn’t he potty trained yet? Why have we been sick once a month for the past year? Flu shots? Vaccines? Down time? Bed times? Are they getting enough sleep? Green vegetables? Too much juice? Not enough water? A never-ending list.

“Please be
Save me
I cry” – A cacophony of screaming voices in my head. Second guessing. Judging. Evaluating. Disregarding. Embracing. When all I want is peace of mind, support, calm.

It’s been a never-ending cycle for me. I moved on from my mother to other people, other things.  I look to other mothers for support and understanding. I crucify myself every day. I don’t need to be crucified all over again by someone else.

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Filed under Motherhood, Music