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Wisdom of Pooh

7 Feb

For the Superbowl, we gathered with a few neighbors for the ritual of football and too much food. As the game began we noticed the men had congregated on one side of the room and the women were on the other side. When one woman commented about our “middle school party” situation one of the husbands who clearly had one ear on our conversation said “That is because we are at a Superbowl party…..to watch the Superbowl.”

Yea, yea we caught the high-points – men yell during football – so we knew when to look. And we paused to watch the commercials and half time show.

My daughter had just texted me that her sort of boyfriend (she says they broke up but he seems around a lot) and his friends didn’t show for the Superbowl party he had requested and now had way to much pizza and was annoyed. I am ready for this guy to hit the road – he is very nice – but he is his own obstacle. I commented to my neighbor “I think my daughter is trying to fix him.” My neighbor commented she tried to fix several boyfriends before she met her husband. Then she asked which Winnie The Pooh character I liked as a kid. Both she and I had an Eeyore. We both had hoped to love Eeyore enough to get him to smile. We wanted to ‘fix’ poor Eeyore.

My neighbor said “Now I wouldn’t have patience for Eeyore. Get over yourself Eeyore!” I commented “Hey you would be in a bad mood too if you walked around with a tack in your ass. Let go of the tail Eeyore – move on with your life and forget about the tail!” He was seriously obsessed with the perfect tail, constantly losing his tail, looking for his tail and enduring a painful reattachment of the tail! Another neighbor looked at both of us and said “It was Winnie The Pooh all the way.”

Not sure we actually hit on some deep wisdom or too much wine.

Pondering

31 Jan

I have been scanning old photos of my mother’s. I am scanning them to preserve them and to share them with siblings, cousins, aunts and all. It is a process that takes time. But the time it takes to examine a photo forces me to pause and identify the moment and faces.

I have a batch of photos from when my mother was in college. I love seeing her in her youth, before she was a wife and a mother. Now she is 87 and still doing well but I really love trying to imagine her as a young woman. I love the group of photos from when she was in California in 1946. She would have been 22 years old. She remembers the trip well. She went with her Aunt and felt like country bumpkins dropped into that world. That isn’t what I see.

I see a beautiful woman crossing a street in downtown Los Angeles wearing a smart suit and pumps. I see the adventure of boarding a steam ship to Catalina Island. I see a woman visiting the Pacific Ocean for the first time. I think how daring they were.

I was scanning a photo of my mom standing on the steps of her family’s home and noticed she had written a note to my father. It was dated 1950, when they were dating.

The photos lend a different perspective to my parents. With my own children out of the nest, and I try to find my own identity again, it is great fun to ponder my own parents lives before marriage and children.

My mother in LA 1946

My mom, Donna, in the late 40's

I Am A Slow Learner

11 Jan

ages 4, 7, 9

It is interesting as kids age from teens to young adults. I still think of them as my babies and want to mother them, and give them advice and try not to smother them. And I mean smother on many levels!

They are old enough to make their own decisions and mistakes and I find I can now look back on my parenting and see my mistakes as a parent. I was definitely guilty of doing too much for them and trying to never let them fail. I now see failure as a good thing in maturing to an adult. (Although I don’t see any good come out of my own failures!)

My latest examples…..My middle child was heading back to college this semester and I find he dropped a lot of classes (rather than take a failing grade) So I paid $10,000 for a couple of classes? So I’ve decided to let go – he has a bit of money, so I told him he was paying for the semester. It was his money to lose and if he does well – I will repay him, but I was no longer funding him to play video games and ignore life. Today is the first day of classes and he sent me a text “In class”. YAY! It is a start, but I will take it as a positive step. I hope this is his turning point. He will have to change his habits to succeed and I hope he does – but he will have to bear the failure this time. 

My oldest son…..he partied his first 3 semesters at a private east coast prestigious University. We (along with the University)finally said – “ENOUGH!” brought him home and told him to get a job. When he couldn’t be bothered, his Dad took him to his office to do filing. He quickly found a job. I hoped he would find he would rather go to school than work at a low paying job. Unfortunately the company quickly realized how capable and smart he was and suddenly he was making 6 figures. So much for my wicked plan..But he got a new boss who was quite unethical and a bit of an ass (YAY!) and my son decided to go back to school. He learned he wanted to “be the boss” and for that he would need that piece of paper. But this time, he realized how hard it is to earn the money to pay tuition and took out a loan and pays part of his own tuition. And, he is on the Dean’s list. 

I look back to lower school, middle school and high school and how my love for them prevented me from just letting them fail…..I didn’t make them get summer jobs or really require a lot of household responsibilities of them. They are wonderful, loving boys and I look back on a lot of fun in their childhood, but I think a little responsibility could have gone a long way. 

My daughter? She is clearly from another planet. She is 18 and a hard working responsible kid. I have no explanation. I won’t take credit but will just give thanks for the blessing.  

Grading Mom

9 Dec

How do you measure if you were a good parent?

I figure if my kids are all productive happy people – I will have done ok.
I was listening to my own mother talk about stories when we ( my brothers and I ) were younger. Perhaps it is just a difference in perspective or a bit of revisionist memory – but she wasn’t the mom she remembers!
But she has mellowed and well….I am a relatively happy productive person and all my brothers are successful happy guys…so by my test she was a good mom. And 30 years later – it is kinda funny to think about her turning to my about to be mother-in-law and saying “you know she is a real bitch!” Yes – referring to myself! It is still what my cousins and I all remember best about my rehearsal dinner.

So interestingly enough….this fall in a conversation with one of my sons, he pointed out how I had failed to recognize when he had suffered bouts of depression. I listened to him then noted to him – it is difficult to tell the difference from a surly teenager who may have played video games all night and then finally crashed from someone who is depressed. I apologized for not being aware – but the conversation just cannot leave me.

So interestingly enough……my daughter recently was invited to take an acting workshop. The woman who taught the class is very well known in the film and theatre industry. She was trying to get the participants to learn to go deep inside to access feelings to use in acting. She told the students to think about their relationship with their mother – recent interactions, conversations. My daughter looked around the room and everyone was sobbing. She called to say thanks mom ” I had nothing. I couldn’t recall one time that was painful or difficult”

I’ve always told my kids “I am trying to give you plenty of material for therapy”. Could be a self fulfilling prophecy!

Bad Mothering?

31 Aug

This past weekend there was an article in the Denver Post. The article originated with a reporter (Steven Schmadeke) from the Chicago Tribune. It was concerning a lawsuit that had been dismissed by an appeals court brought by two children against their mother for “bad mothering” Of course I had to read this article. I’ve always told my kids I give them plenty of material – whether they use it in counseling or in stand up is totally up to them. Never considered they might sue me for my incompetence.
Apparently 2 kids whom were raised in a $1.5 million home by their attorney father (first clue – dad’s an attorney) have spent the past two years pursuing a lawsuit against their mom for “bad Mothering”. I had to know – what she did that was so bad. I had to know how we were different and therefore would never occur to me.
The evidence of bad mothering? Failed to buy toys for one, and sent another a birthday card he didn’t like, failing to take her daughter to a car show, telling her then 7-year old son to buckle his seat belt or she would contact police, haggling over the amount to spend on party dresses and……wait for it…….calling her daughter at midnight to ask her to return home from celebrating homecoming.
WHEW! I’ve never done any of these. My daughter never wanted to go to a car show, my kids at 7 feared me more than the police, I always gave in when my daughter shopped (she looked so cute!!). She failed to send her college student care packages. It doesn’t specify how many she missed. I just sent one yesterday to my middle child – and I had already planned to send it before I saw this article.
She isn’t accused of beating her kids or leaving them in a hot car while she went to a bar. The court file was a foot thick. But it all seems so trivial. Her attorney said she found her kids wanted “the benefits afforded by a family relationship, but none of the restraints.” (Is that code for “her kids are a couple of brats?” )
Thankfully, the suit was tossed out. I cannot imagine the precedent this could establish. And, mostly I hope my kids didn’t see the article. They don’t need any ideas!

Less words of wisdom….Please

20 Aug

My son’s birthday is on Monday and on Tuesday I am driving him back to school. He is a smart kid. He requested his cake early to maximize the number of pieces he can eat. I made it last night and put steaks on the grill. In true college fashion, a couple friends of his moseyed in just as I was putting the food on the table. Amazing the homing sense of a college student looking for a meal!

What I love is the humor and conversations that weave through a meal with these kids. The birthday boy is a rather quiet kid and I worry about him being social. Yet when he was with his buds I saw a side of him I thoroughly enjoyed. They were laughing and talking throughout the meal – and sitting and just observing, I couldn’t help but laugh too. Even when some of it was not mom approved conversation – it was just a fun moment.

I worry about my kids – are they going to succeed in life? Did I do a good job as a mom? Where did I go wrong?!?!?!?! Well – guess I will be waiting a while for the jury’s decision. As a wiser mom has said to me – If your kids are happy and good citizens of the world – you have done your job. The rest is up them. I know that…….but why is it so hard. It is hard to let go and let them live their lives!! Wish him luck on the 10 hour drive back to school!

The Pirate

Already making his own path


I need some chocolate – if I am eating chocolate, I can’t talk at the same time. So that is one less lecture I can deliver.

Hello Karma….it’s me!

18 Aug

Not sure what my karma is telling me. Every morning, I open the back door to let in fresh cool air and let out 3 rambunctious labs. Today, the dogs burst out the door chasing a rabbit or a squirrel, no doubt. The chocolate lab trotted back after his daily bark as if nothing was the matter. In the flurry of feet I noticed he was depositing bright red footprints. He had sliced the pad of one paw open.

I tried to compress it, but on closer examination knew a vet visit was in order. He received a few staples to keep it closed and a stiff splint to aid in keeping the pad closed. And, while he was at the vet, I looked through the backyard and found some exposed edging that probably was the culprit. When I was out of town this summer, I had asked my boys to cut back the junipers in that bed. (I hate junipers – I believe in Dante’s hell is hedges of junipers – but I digress) My husband decided to just remove some of them. In doing so, the metal edging became exposed. I have now made the hardware store run and it now is capped with a protective plastic edge. Poor dog! I feel guilt having been negligent to cover that.

Meanwhile, my tree guy stopped by to look at a birch that wasn’t budding out well. Denver received such little snow this winter and all winter my husband and I argued over watering. I said we needed to water – he said “NO – ridiculous” The birch was diagnosed as dying – lack of water over the winter. I have not texted him to gloat – I know who was right. Right?

And, my husband’s handle set on his sink – started leaking today. (perhaps the water is mocking him in solidarity with me) Aside from the tree and looking at poor Hank and the leaky handle – next Tuesday the dog’s health insurance would expire and I was debating renewal and the home warranty policy would expire and I was debating its renewal also. Karma is scaring the crap out of me – I renewed both !

Hank - glad to be home!