Marjorie Writes…

Everyday Musings of an Extraordinary Woman

Feeling Validated as a Mom

My kids have been gone for over 3 weeks now – they’ll be home in less than 2 days. When I talked to them this weekend (I’ve been talking to them everyday) they both indicated they were ready to come home. That made me feel really good, as they have been having fun with their father, but they still miss me and want to be with me, despite being with me 11+ months a year.

I should really be asleep – it’s very late and I have a LOT to do before picking them up at the airport Saturday morning (their flight comes in about 30 minutes before noon, but I’ll have to leave my house probably by 8:30 so I can get to the airport and get through security and wait at the gate for them.

However, tonight is the last night I can stay up as late as I want and sleep late the next day.  Hopefully my kids will sleep late when they come home, as I know they have been staying up very late. But I can’t count on it. And I want to spend time with them once they’re home, thus I want to get as many chores out of the way as possible. So, of course, I’m up late tonight, watching tv and playing games on Facebook, etc. You know, the important stuff.

I’m looking forward to the return of my kids – please remind me of that next week when they’re driving me nuts. But when they told me they were ready to come home the other day, it made my heard swell so much I thought it would pop out of my chest. Seriously, that’s mommy validation – even though they’re getting older and much more independent, and even though they’re with their father whom they only see for a few weeks every summer, they’ve been ready to get home to mom. Yay for me! (channeling whatshername from The Suite Life of Zach and Cody)

I have a long list of things I have to get done tomorrow, so wish me luck in that. But I know I’ll go to sleep with a smile on my face tomorrow night, knowing I’ll have my babies safe at home with me again the next day!

Live, love, laugh….it makes it all worthwhile!

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Friends and Blessings – One and the Same

I know, I tend to write about friends a lot, but that’s in large part because I am blessed to have so many good friends in my life.  As my kids are gone for a long time this year (3 1/2 weeks), I’ve been not only getting together with my good friends, but also making a concerted effort to get caught up with those who don’t live close enough to get together with. As for many moms with young kids, it’s often hard for me to chat on the phone for long, as those conversations are often repeatedly interrupted by my kids. As they get older, I do get to spend more time on the phone, uninterrupted, but my daughter often likes to pepper those conversations with multiple questions to me: Who are you talking to? What are you talking about? Are you talking about me? No, this is what happened….you get the picture.

So far in the past 2 weeks, I’ve gone out for dinner and drinks with several friends and groups of friends, went kayaking in the ocean and hung out on the beach, spent the day at a music and wellness festival, had a long lunch with an friend I hadn’t seen in a couple of years, had numerous long phone calls and even a long Skype video call with a friend I haven’t seen in person in probably over 20 years. Of course, I’ve also had a lot of quiet, down time, time to spend doing chores, working, reading, watching movies, and reflecting a great deal over the many blessings in my life.

I may complain regularly about not having a full time job and about what a handful my kids are, but I know for certain there are few people as blessed as I am.  Despite my lack of luck in my love life (which is non-existent right now) I am so blessed to have a tremendous amount of love in my life. My kids, 9 and 11 now, make me smile and laugh and fill my heart to bursting on a very regular basis (that is, of course, when they’re not making me pull my hair out, especially the almost pubescent 11 year old). And my friends? I marvel at the fact that I have been so blessed by who has been put into my life and who has stayed there.

I am a very loyal friend, the kind who is willing to do anything for my friends. And that has been so greatly reciprocated by so many amazing people, I am so thankful.  My friends make me smile and laugh and lift me up on a regular basis. And they are always there for me, as I am there for them. While I have a strong sense of self-worth and self-confidence, and know my true value as a person and very rarely doubt or negate that, there is nothing better to boost that than friends who believe in you and show unwavering confidence in you, especially when you’re in uncertain times.

I have been counting my blessings a lot these past couple of weeks, when I’ve had so much peace and quiet in my home. Granted, there is generally a lot of peace in my home, but quiet (especially during the summer days of kids coming in and out and playing and laughing and fighting) has been somewhat scarce in the past couple of months. This quiet time has given me time to reflect and thank G-d and my Angels for the love and peace, friends and blessings, in my life. I am especially grateful for my parents, despite them both having been taken from me far too soon. Between the values they instilled in me both through teachings and their own actions and words, and those beliefs they instilled in me, it helped shape me into the person I am today, with the life I have so full of friends and love.

I could go on and on, but I think my points have been made. Thank you to all of my good friends out there – you know who you are. I love you so much, you bring so much to my life. And I’ll always be there for you, as you’ve always been there for me.

Live, love, laugh….it makes it all worthwhile!

And the Countdown Begins…

I have my kids all year long, no break unless I hire a babysitter, they’re in school, or have a playdate or sleepover. And I don’t complain. But for a few weeks every summer, they go visit their father and grandparents, and then I get my break.

My kids are leaving on Tuesday evening for about 3 1/2 weeks with their father and his family. I get a long break this year.

Generally, by the time school gets out, I’m almost ready for them to go. And by the time we’re a couple of weeks into summer, I’m completely ready. This year, school got out later than usual, and we had no camp activities scheduled to occupy them. In other words, they’ve been around 24/7 except for a few sleepovers. And surprisingly, they haven’t been driving me completely crazy, despite having their friends over regularly and my house being wrecked on a regular basis. In fact at this point, I’m planning on cleaning it after they leave.

In the past week, I haven’t felt ready for them to leave. They must have felt this since this weekend they have been trying their best to drive me crazy. Of course, it’s not working. I think they’re trying to help my adjustment. So sweet.

The day after they leave is my birthday. I’ll be 29 again. Or wait, I’ll be 35 again. Whatever it is, I’ll be a year older. Anyhow, my daughter decided today was the day we were celebrating. This afternoon, she changed her name in my cell phone to that of my best friend. Then she texted me asking what my favorite food was. That clued me in and I looked at the number and told her she was busted. Mind you, the last name she had on my phone was Goofy Girl, and that was after she changed her name to Unknown so when she called or texted me it came up as Unknown. Now I’ve changed it to Silly Girl.

Anyhow, my Silly Girl made a chicken pot pie from the freezer, saying it was for herself. She served it to me with a glass of lemonade, after moving a small table into the living room in front of the couch where I was sitting. She also presented me with a homemade card and a new tube of lipstick, wrapped prettily. It was all incredibly sweet – I was sure she wanted me not to want her to go. Of course that was until later, when she ran me ragged and then wouldn’t go to sleep.

So I’m down to a day and a half before they leave and nothing is packed. Not only is it not packed, but I have a ton of laundry (all clean) to sort through and fold. I guess that will make it easier to pack them. And then before I can blink, I’ll be driving them to the airport and putting them on an airplane to fly across the country. Yes, I’m still ambivalent about them leaving, for the first time ever.

If you talk to me in 3 days, I’ll be missing them terribly and won’t be sure of what to do with myself. If you talk to me in 3 weeks, I’ll be having a great time and not ready for them to come back. We do this every year. But this year they have Oovoo and Skype on their phones, which will encourage them to call me more, because they think video chatting is so cool. Gotta love technology!

Live, love, laugh…it makes it all worthwhile!

Friends and Perspectives

When I first started this blog, one of the things I wrote most about was friends. I’m still grateful for my friends, that will never change. Both old and new friends are so important.

One of the great things about friends, aside from the obvious fun, sharing, being there for each other, is the opportunity to see things in a different light. And they can encourage you to step out of your comfort zones, or try new things. Or just look at things from different perspectives.

While I’m often good at doing that for my friends, I’m also sometimes not so good at doing it for myself. For instance, I’m looking for full-time work right now, so money is tight. My friend suggested we take the kids down to Washington, DC for a couple of days. When I told her I really couldn’t afford to spend a lot of money, she came up with a new suggestion. So instead of staying over, we’re driving down for the day tomorrow. It’s only roughly a 3 hour drive from here, so we’re packing up the kids and a lunch, and going. Many of the attractions there are free, and with our packed lunch and snacks, we’ll be able to have a fun, different day with the kids for a limited expense.  We’ll have dinner before we head home, and our kids should come home tired and happy, having had a fun day in a different city. (As well as them having spent the day in our nation’s capitol, which they are very excited about!)

At some point, once I’m working more (or at least have a stronger source of income) I plan to take them back. One day is nowhere near enough time to see everything there. I know it’s going to leave me wanting a lot more – I love DC, but haven’t been there for years. And this new perspective on doing things on a tight budget should translate well for the rest of the summer. A lot of the places I really want to take them in Philadelphia aren’t free. However, there is so much there that is so historical and free that we could easily go for the day and have a great time, and it’s also a great learning trip for them.

When I first decided to move up to the Jersey Shore, it was right after my daughter was born. One of the things I was most excited about was that there were so many historic areas in such a close area. I had grand plans to teach them history through trips up and down the coast. Sadly, about the only time we’ve done that was when we went to Gettysburg upon evacuating from a hurricane (which didn’t end up hitting us, thankfully). And that trip was infused with history and ghost-hunting. Very fun, even if it would have been more fun for me had I not spent half of the time preoccupied about whether our home would be there when we returned.

So thank goodness for friends. I’ve always loved my friends, and as I move through my life, I’ve always been thankful for the friends I’ve made along the way.

Live, love, laugh…it makes it all worthwhile!

It Is What It Is

Do you believe in signs or messages from loved ones who have passed?

Starting on Thursday (July 4) I have either heard or read a post on Facebook (today) someone say “It is what it is”. The thing is, that was one of my father’s regular sayings. My Dad had a lot of sayings, or Goodmanisms, as someone once coined them. When I was younger, I thought they all sounded corny and they used to drive me crazy. As I got older (possibly more mature?) I came to appreciate the wisdom in his simple sounding sayings.

mugs

So when I talked to my cousin on Thursday, at one point in the conversation, he said it is what it is. And I said that my father always said that, which led to a conversation remembering my father. I can’t remember where I heard it on Friday, but I know I did. And then yesterday, when I had a table at the local Summer Fest (selling gorgeous hand-made pottery mugs with these great reiki-charged healing stones (leave me a comment if you’re interested!)) I was talking to the vendor next to me. I don’t recall the specifics of the conversation when he said it, but he, too, said it is what it is. And then a friend of mine from high school posted a picture of her new charm bracelet with a charm that said it, today.

Ok, so apparently I needed to be hit over the head with it. My father is trying to send me a message. It is what it is. I can’t change it so I have to accept it. Or just leave it alone. But what? I’ve been thinking about this on and off all day, trying to figure out what it is he wants me to accept or leave alone. And I just cannot figure it out. And yes, it’s driving me crazy.

So it is what it is. When I figure out what he’s trying to tell me (aside from the obvious), I’ll let y’all know.

Live, love, laugh…..it makes it all worthwhile!

Just Do It

I just watched a YouTube video someone had posted on Facebook. Wow, talk about powerful! I don’t know what the laws are concerning these posts, but I’m sharing the link here: http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiS8q_fifa0. All of the attributions are on the YouTube post.

Did you watch it? Amazing, right? She made some incredible points. A friend of mine, after watching the video, said, “Boobs are functional, but they are also objects of beauty.” He had a good point. My response was that they were never more beautiful than when providing sustenance to a baby.

This poem by this woman, Hollie, was incredibly moving. And it made me remember my experiences as a new mother. First of all, I was shy about having my breasts out in public (and they say childbirth takes away a woman’s modesty!). And while I’d gotten the hang of getting the baby latched on, I wasn’t so adept at it when combined with subtlety. So for the first month or so, I tried to only nurse my daughter when I was somewhere I could do it in private.

Then my brother came in town. And you know, no matter how well you get the schedule down for feeding a baby, babies go through growth spurts and change their schedules, or make their mothers change their schedules, depending on their needs. So when my daughter was maybe a month and a half, we went to the airport to pick him up. And as we were waiting for his plane, with more than plenty of time before her next scheduled feeding, she started crying. After a while, a mother learns to recognize what her baby’s cries mean, and this one meant she was hungry. I tried soothing her, but she wasn’t interested in anything other than being fed.

It was at this point I took my first foray into public breastfeeding. Using one of the baby blankets to cover her head (and my breast, stomach, etc), I began to nurse her. But of course, she didn’t want to be covered. What’s a mother to do. I did my best to make it as discreet as possible.

And so began my foray into breastfeeding my baby in front of others. I am pretty sure I flashed my husband’s cousin. Oh well, I’m sure he wasn’t the only one who got a flash. And guess what, that’s ok. I was feeding my baby and that was more important than a little modesty (not that I did it on purpose, or wasn’t embarrassed).

I nursed my daughter for the first year of her life. I became very proficient. By the time my son came along, I was an old pro. And I knew the tricks, and had the wardrobe (nursing shirts and bras made it easier). In fact, I worked for my father when my son was born, and I was running a cash register with a long line of customers one day when my son announced his hunger. So I put him in the Baby Bjorn carrier (greatest invention at the time – he was a big boy and with the lumbar support I had no pain or discomfort with him in there), and quickly got him latched on, and voila, I went back to ringing up customers and taking orders. And everyone just assumed he was sleeping in there! Given people’s reactions sometimes at breastfeeding in public, I got a kick out of it.

So nurse your babies when they need it, no matter where you are. How is that somehow not acceptable, when you see less of the breast with a baby in front of it than you see by modern fashions with shirts cut down to there? Or on the beach with the little bikinis or even tank suits that are revealing. There’s nothing more natural, more beautiful, and more healthy for your baby!

Live, laugh, love….it makes it all worthwhile!

 

 

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July, y’all! I hope everyone had a good day, enjoying the summer (we had great weather here!), celebrating with family and friends, watching the fireworks. I’m so grateful today to live in this great country where we have so much freedom and we are generally safe to live and enjoy our lives.

I had a peaceful, relaxing day. Spent the early part of the day relaxing with my kids, then my son’s friend came over and all 3 of them played well together – ok, so that part wasn’t fully peaceful, but it was filled with the sounds of kids playing and laughing, so it was good. I even bounced on my son’s huge bouncy ball and laughed like a child myself. Tonight, we went down the road by the bay to watch the fireworks – always a good time.

I spoke with my cousin tonight for the first time in a few years – I called to wish him happy birthday. I was so glad to speak with him because there was some discord between us a few years back, caused by my ex-husband. That has bothered me so much because he was always the cousin I was closest to, despite the 12 year age difference. It felt good to chat with him this afternoon.

Today would have been my parents’ 45th wedding anniversary, if my mom hadn’t died 24 years ago and my dad 4 years ago. My mom used to say she picked July 4 so my father would never be able to forget their anniversary. Smart woman. And that she told him it was an hour earlier than it was so he’d be on time. Now, I only remember my dad as being very punctual, but then I don’t know what he was like when he was younger.

I generally don’t get too thoughtful about the anniversary on July 4. This year, I keep thinking about it. And choking up (and tearing up) when talking about it. I don’t know why the change this year, but my guess is it’s because I’ve been missing my parents so much lately.

So many of my friends who are lucky enough to still have their parents complain about them regularly. And I was the first one to complain about my father, despite how close I was to him. He was incredibly stubborn (a family trait from his side of the family) and was always often certain his way was the better way to do anything. And while he was often right about some things, it wasn’t always the case, and it usually wasn’t what I wanted to hear. However, I would do anything to have him back. And my mom. And so I always tell my friends that as crazy as their parents may drive them, make sure they appreciate them and enjoy them and love them while they are still here.

I am so blessed to have my kids and great friends and loving, fun extended family members. But that doesn’t stop me from feeling like I don’t have family, although I keep reminding myself that my kids are my family. And they are amazing and wonderful and annoying and everything in between. I just feel every so often that I’m letting them down since they aren’t getting the whole extended family experience.

Anyhow, today was one of those days that I tried to forget about all of it and just relax and enjoy the family I have in my home. And it was a great day. But then, how can it be a bad day if it ends with a beautiful display of fireworks on the bay?

Live, love, laugh….it makes it all worthwhile!

PTSD Stinks

Funny how things happen. I had gone to the store earlier this evening, and one of the things I bought was a package of cupcakes. So later tonight I decided to open them and have one. However, they were no longer in my purse. Since I knew my son wouldn’t have gone into my purse, I figured the dogs got them. Sure enough, I found the open, empty wrapper on the dining room floor. I picked it up and held it toward the dogs and the mama dog took off running faster than I’d ever seen her run. After a good laugh, I decided to run back to the store to replace them.

As I was turning the corner to come home, I saw a man on a bicycle riding down my street, in the direction I was heading. He looked back and saw my car, and pulled into a driveway two doors down. After a brief hesitation and another look over his shoulder, he continued to ride between the two houses there (there aren’t many fences in my area) and disappeared. Now, it was a little after 10 at this point. So I pulled into my driveway and called the police. I explained to the person that the man was on bike and rode between the houses, pulling off the street when my car approached. I gave the limited description I had gotten, and went into my house.

Some time later (not sure how long, but it was a non-emergency call), I had a knock at my door – the police. I stepped outside (fighting to keep the baby dog (around 2 yrs old) inside. In the light rain, he asked what I had seen, etc. I explained it was probably nothing but this is a quiet street on the end of my island, and it’s not usual to have adults riding their bikes between houses in the dark. He said he’d look but that I had my dog here (I don’t think he got a good look at her – she’s no more than 20 or 25 lbs – not a big dog by any means).

Now, I had a pit in my stomach for the rest of the night. I have PTSD, courtesy of my ex-husband.  I have a restraining order against him and haven’t seen him in a year and a half, since our divorce was finalized (he was incarcerated at the time, from a DUI charge). I haven’t had any contact with him since I’d gotten the restraining order almost a year before then. And even though it was a very brief marriage (2 1/2 months before I showed him the door), I knew he was the type to hold a grudge forever.

Now, my daughter is out at her friend’s house and I let my son camp out in the living room tonight, sleeping on the floor. Around 1 in the morning, the little dog started barking. And jumped up on the back of the recliner closest to the front door, where she likes to perch when she hears someone here – that way she can try to beat me out the door to greet them. So I went and looked out the window, accidentally turning on the light there on my way. Nothing. So I turned off the light and sat down at my laptop again. And again the little dog ran to the chair and started barking. That went on for about 5 minutes, with intermittent barks. Now, she’s sleeping soundly next to me on the couch, my son is passed out with the other dog on the floor, and I’m writing this, hoping by expressing myself I will get rid of the feelings and be able to go to sleep.

All of this over something that was probably nothing. I haven’t had any feelings of paranoia lately, as I got when I thought he was around, no nightmares waking me up, petrified. Yet the PTSD lingers, popping up it’s ugly head now and again, like tonight.

For a time after we split up, I would sleep on my couch with a baseball bat – afraid that if he broke into my house I might not hear him from my room and be able to protect my children and myself. And I didn’t sleep well back then. Thankfully, that is all in the past.

Yet, here I sit, almost 2am and afraid to go to sleep. But little dog will let me know, right, if she hears something? I think I’ll be sleeping on my couch again tonight, especially since my son is out here. I’ll have the phone nearby, but will not go in search of the baseball bat.

Live, laugh, love…..it makes it all worthwhile!

The Big C: Hereafter

I’m still crying after watching the final episode of The Big C: Hereafter. After 3 seasons (plus a 4th mini-season, the Hereafter) the series has concluded. For those of you who haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It’s serious and funny, black humor, about Cathy, a woman diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma.

Earlier in this season, Cathy had decided to move into a hospice facility – she didn’t want her husband and son to have to take care of her; she especially didn’t want to die in their home, to have her son feel of the house as it were the place his mother died.

Several things struck me after watching the end of this episode (sorry if I spoil it if you haven’t seen it yet!). She didn’t want to die at home, but in my experience (and believe me, I have WAY too much in this arena) that’s precisely where she should have been in her final days and moments. My Mom died of stage 4 lung cancer when I was 18, at home. My step-mom died of stage 3 lung cancer when I was 30, at home. My aunt died of lymphoma (after 17 years and 3 remissions) in my uncle’s home. My father died of stage 4 lung cancer, in my home. My father stayed in his condo, on his own, for almost the full 6 months of his time in hospice. It was only when he’d gotten too weak and the morphine required to keep him relatively comfortable had grown to too large a dose that he couldn’t stay alone any longer. He fought tooth and nail, as Cathy did, but I won (he couldn’t walk at that point, so couldn’t run away). He moved into my home, my dining room turned into his bedroom, and died a week later. This just felt normal to me. They were at home, surrounded by the people they loved, in their normal surroundings (more or less), but at least surrounded by love and people who loved them, nothing clinical or cold around them.

Also, she died with none of her family immediately around her. After having breakfast with her estranged father, her son (who surprised her that morning with his principal and a year-early high school diploma), her husband, her brother and her friend/daughter/mentee who was living with them, they all scattered to take care of things. Her hospice nurse came, they were going to share pie. Her husband came home to have the nurse tell him she’d passed 30 minutes prior to her return. I remember being told that people often didn’t want to pass in front of their loved ones. Even if they’re not conscious (as she was), they somehow can sense when they’re not in the room.

So this episode made me cry. But I knew it was coming. Everything was tied up neatly, which is to be expected in any kind of series where they have the ability to create the perfect ending, unlike life. But it was still a good ending.

Remember to always tell your loved ones you love them. Life is too short and we never know how much time we have left.

Live, love, laugh…it makes it all worthwhile!

Stepmom

I just watched Stepmom. I shouldn’t have turned it on when I was flipping channels. But it’s a beautiful movie. Maybe I needed a good cry.

For those who don’t remember the movie, or haven’t seen it, it came out in the 1998, starring Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts. Sarandon played a divorced mother of two, and Roberts was her ex-husband’s young girlfriend/fiance. Of course, they didn’t get along in the beginning. But Sarandon was harboring a secret from her ex and her kids – she was fighting cancer. Eventually, it would come out and they would grow close.

The first time I saw the movie was with my Stepmom, Eileen. She and my father had come down to Houston to visit, and while he was out playing poker with his friends, we decided to go to the movies. We went to see You’ve Got Mail, and afterward snuck into another movie, Stepmom (her idea, not mine, I would never have done that not have suggested to her that we do that. (See my halo?) We didn’t know what it was about, and missed the beginning.

As we were sitting there in the dark theater and caught up with what was happening on-screen, we realized that the situation in the movie hit too close to home and it was probably as uncomfortable for her as it was for me. Of course, not wanting to make her feel more uncomfortable, I was trying to stifle my tears, which were definitely flowing.

Mind you, she wasn’t younger than my father and she had come into his life after we lost my mom. However, it was still close enough to home since my mom had died of cancer 9 years before.

Watching the movie again tonight, this time with kids of my own, touched me on different levels. I pray my kids never have to go through what I did – I fully plan to live forever. Grin. Ok, while I know I can’t shield them from the pain of losing me forever, I mean I hope they won’t have to deal with that loss until they are grown with kids of their own, who are also grown. Maybe even grandkids of their own. Great-grandkids would probably be stretching it.

Anyhow, in the movie Sarandon is talking with her daughter (middle-school age, again, hitting close to home tonight) about her not being around in the future. She told the girl that she would always be with her in her mind, that that was how people stayed around, when she graduated, she would be there, when she got married, she would be there, when she had her babies, she would be there. And I found myself talking to my mom. You WERE there when I graduated (in my case, from college, as I was lucky enough to have her until the end of my freshman year of college). You WERE there when I got married. You WERE there when I had my babies. Even though I so desperately wished she had been there physically with me, I had felt her with me at all of those times.

I had almost forgotten the memory of watching that movie with my stepmom. We lost her 2 short years later. That was just a random day in our brief history, not one of the bigger ones which come to mind when I think of her.

If it wasn’t so late, I might have a drink in her memory. She liked white Russians. Too bad I don’t have any kaluah.

Live, love, laugh…it’s what makes it worthwhile!

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