My New Reality….


Danielle has been gone a week and it is already starkly apparent that the reality inside our home has changed.  I always looked at myself as a “girl” mom, despite the fact that I also have two boys.  Our second daughter is a junior and when she is here she is usually in her room studying. So, that leaves me with the twelve and ten year old knuckleheads.  Before you call social services, keep in mind that I used to refer to them as the “idiots” but it made my mom really angry.

To be clear, I adore my sons.  I just don’t understand 99% of their behavior.  In one short week they have brought out parenting skills that I did not know existed.    Who knew that the best way to get their attention was to bellow directly in their faces?  The five minutes beforehand yelling their names is obviously a warm-up.    

Now we can do some math.  If a 130 lb. object and a 168 lb. object move at equal speeds across a space of twenty feet, what happens when the two objects meet?  Their mother screams “If you bleed on the carpet, I will kill you!”  In fact, most of what I say to the two of them ends in a death threat.  More great parenting.  I have NEVER had to threaten the girls with their lives. 

Then there is the bodily function issue.  It seems that the boys think it is a grand idea to yell “safety” whenever one of them passes wind.  Even my husband is saying it now.  Again, the girls and I would endeavor with great determination to keep those types of events private.  Once someone yells “safety”, the other males in the room need to yell “doorknob.”  Don’t ask.  I have no idea.

Let’s move on to responsibility.  This is the fourth week of school, I believe, and it has just come to my attention that neither of my sons knows the location of his musical instrument.   Another family first.  I have an uncanny ability, like most moms, to be able to find a lost object without even turning my head.  Believe me, I have searched the house and there is no trumpet or baritone here.  At least the piano is still in the same spot.  

The whole boy sports thing is mind boggling to me.  “I asked you ten minutes ago if you were ready for practice!!”   “Did you just put that mouthguard that was on the garage floor in your mouth?”  “Yes, I know that is where you leave all of your sports equipment, but that is really gross.”  “No, I have no idea what happened to your cup and no, your brother isn’t wearing it.”   “Fine, borrow one from your friend.”     Ugh.

Finally, I am getting used to being greeted after school with, “Hi Mom.  What do you have for a snack?”

I am sure that none of this behavior is new, but I had previously been able to hide in the warm glow of knowledge that my girls take their personal hygiene seriously and that they care if their clothes are clean.  

Now that the “boy” mom adventure is upon me, I am more grateful than ever that I am working.  At least that makes sense to me.

An Apology to my Mother….

We dropped Danielle off at university yesterday and we will see her again for Christmas.   Our daughter and I are both the eldest of two boys and two girls with an eight-year gap from top to bottom.   Life’s been a bit hectic these past eighteen years and I have no idea how we got to this point so quickly.

I’ve sensed a purposeful distancing from me on her part these past few weeks.  I know that she had to do this in order to make the break from us.

She knows that I am not the least bit worried about her, even though she is on a different continent.  She is so ready for this phase of her life.  Yet, does she know how proud I am of her?  That I see the same sense of adventure in her that I once owned?  Does she know how desperately I want her to be happy?  Or, that I will never try to stop her from following her dreams, no matter how far away they take her from me?  Does she know how much her siblings look up to her?

It brings me back to twenty-eight years ago when I was dropped off at college.   My mother hugged me goodbye as she cried quietly.  I was a bit impatient as I knew that on the other side of her embrace were my new adventures.   That evening my roommate was waiting for me to go to a freshman social.  I told my mom not to worry, I smiled and I turned and walked away.

History does repeat itself.  We took Danielle to Tesco’s to buy some snacks for her room.  Her roommate was waiting for her so they could head out to a social event in their hall of residence.  She hugged her dad and then gave me a big hug as I was quietly crying.   She looked me straight in the eye and told me she would be fine.  She smiled and waved and I watched her walk confidently into her building.  Did she know that as she was walking a chunk of my heart leapt onto her shoulder, ready to stay and watch over her forever?  Probably not.

My mother must have felt all of these things all those years ago and for that, I have to say,  “I’m sorry mom, I didn’t know.”    I’m just grateful that I finally know now. 

Ten Years Later….

  My ten year old son just asked me what he was doing when I first heard of the horrors of 9/11.  I reminded him he was napping since he was only six months old.  Interestingly enough, I had the TV on for just a moment, rare for a weekday afternoon.  I turned it on to watch the second plane hit live.

A short while later I was picking up the girls from school.  British and American parents alike were desperately trying to piece together what was happening.  All of our spouses were being evacuated from their offices in London as no one knew what might happen next.

My house phone rang for hours as relatives were using me as a conduit. They could not make phone calls from the east coast to elsewhere in the States but they were able to make international calls.  I hail from Montclair, NJ, a town populated by many who work in lower Manhattan.  I knew instinctively that friends were lost.  It would be several days before I knew how many.

British friends dropped by all of the next day to check that my family was OK.  It was not something they wanted to ask on the phone.

Three days later I boarded a plane to Italy as one of my closest friends lives there and she had not yet met the baby.  We attended Mass on Sunday and I watched the worshippers cry as the priest dedicated his homily to the victims.  I understand enough Italian to know that his sympathy was mixed with fear.  Fear that if America were taken down, so went all of Europe.

Ten years later the world watched as we commemorated the day.  I tried to stay away, but I was transfixed this morning as every name was read.  Though clergy were excluded, two Presidents, a mayor, a governor and countless family members spoke of God’s promise to carry us forward.

Whilst most of the world continue to pay homage to the ruins of their past, we took an area of immense destruction and rebuilt something beautiful, paying homage to a city moving forward against all odds.

America lost its innocence ten years ago and today we live in a very uncertain coming of age.  Tomorrow, then, holds the promise of a country all grown up.

Happy September……

I’ve always thought it would be more appropriate for all of us to celebrate the new year in September.  Even for those of us whose kids play a ton of sports in the summer, there is still plenty of time for unstructured play for the family.  Memorial Day Weekend brings the promise of months of warm weather ahead, July 4th finds us just getting into the groove of summer and by Labor Day, there is no way to avoid the schedules that come back into our lives in one fell swoop.
These past few years I’ve allowed myself to get overwhelmed by the onset of September.  This year, I am committing to a different strategy and I am going embrace the newness and the changes.

Some may still call the act of earning money work, but I am looking at my new businesses as an adventure.  I am my own boss and I can build an empire that finally allows me to do more philanthropy whilst not sacrificing my love of a good handbag.   I may even give myself every other Friday off.

We take our eldest to university next week and she  will have her own new adventures.  Our second daughter is diving into her junior year with an infectious determination to succeed.  The twelve-year old is not diving into seventh grade with any enthusiasm whatsoever, but he is excited about playing a new position in football.  The  ten-year-old is super psyched because fifth graders rule the school, don’t you know.

The new year is the time to set new resolutions.  I resolve to not feel guilty when my kids don’t like what I make for dinner.  I will remind them that children are starving somewhere.  I still resolve to have two rooms wallpapered when my husband is away.  I will finish the beaded scarf project I have started despite those closest to me taking bets on when I will give up.  I will remind my husband every day how lucky he is to have me.  (Yes, I am lucky to have him, too, but now you sound like my mother.)

If you haven’t already, pick your own new adventure or share my new work adventures with me.  I’d love the company!

Happy September to you all!