Fourteen Years, And Just Another Day

What does a 14th wedding anniversary look like?

It starts with a 5:30 a.m. bootcamp class. When you get home, you spend 15 minutes with your husband before he heads out to work. It’s the only 15 minutes you will see him all day, but you’re a sweaty mess from bootcamp, and he is dividing his time between talking with you and finishing up his morning routine before walking out the door. You’ll spend the rest of the day doing laundry, running errands, then heading off to spend the night with your daughter’s girl scout troop before your husband even gets home from work. You’re the troop leader, and tonight was the only night that all the girls would be in town to have their final field trip. So 15 minutes with your husband on your anniversary will have to do. Continue reading “Fourteen Years, And Just Another Day”

But You Never Knew Him

You talk about him quite often.

But you never knew him.

You recognize him in photographs.

But you never knew him.

You include him in your prayers.

But you never knew him.

You sometimes reveal a little smile that has just a breath of the one he used to give me.

But you never knew him.

You would have gotten “the look” from him on many an occasion. And you would have towed the line when that happened. Trust me.

But you never knew him.

Yet you also would have made the apples of his cheeks protrude with the pride and joy he felt for all of us who felt safe standing in his shadow.

But you never knew him.

He would have loved you and your funny ways. Loved those hugs of yours that come with a running start. Loved your wacky dances. Loved your toothless grin. And he most certainly would have had a nickname for you. Something like “Muckel Jay” or “Mike the Tyke.”

in memoriumBut you never knew him.

Still, you act like you did.

When his name is the first one you think to write down on your paper for All Souls’ Day…

…you act like you knew him.

When I say, “You know who hated strawberries?” and you say, “Dooda”…

…you act like you knew him.

When, out of the blue, you draw an amazing picture of a tank and tell me you made it to put on his grave, the man who always had a war story to tell…

…you act like you knew him.

Maybe I talk about him more than I realize. Maybe the family lore of this man who was our hero is that strong and present. Or maybe he whispers to you when the rest of us are not listening. Maybe God tucked a little bit of him inside of you before you became ours…so that he could still be ours, too.

in memorium
Visiting Great-Grandpa, a.k.a. “Dooda.” My daughter was the only great-grandchild he ever got to meet, but somehow I think he and my son are good friends.

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A Girl Needs Her Friends…Just Ask the Fish

“A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”  – Irina Dunn

fish on a bicycle
photo credit: Caro’s Lines via photopin cc

My friend Karen made reference to that quote the other day, and I smiled when I read it. I immediately had a flashback to my sophomore year of college when my dorm mates and I adopted it as our unofficial slogan, since all four of us had hopeless crushes on guys who either barely knew we existed or were masters at mind games. We were even going to make tee shirts emblazoned with the phrase, complete with a drawing I had made of a fish riding a bicycle, toting the four of us along in a side car. We never actually made the tee shirts which, in the long run, probably helped my future dating life, lest I be branded a man-hater.

And I have to admit now I sure need my husband a whole lot more than a fish needs a bicycle. In my case, maybe I could change the analogy to “A woman needs a man like a fish needs that little snail who eats all the crud off the walls of the tank and makes the place a little less lonely.” But the spirit of sisterhood the original statement implies is still something I believe in…probably now more than ever. A woman needs her girlfriends. Period.

I have amazing girlfriends. Funny, intelligent, big-hearted, supportive, do-anything-for-you amazing girlfriends. And I am lucky to not just have a few of them…I have a lot of them. For some reason, I must have been at the right place at the right time on several different occasions to acquire all these groups of women who at any given point in my life fill my bucket when too many things have been dipping into it. And they can each do it in a way that is special and unique to the certain bond that we have, be it our nostalgic high school or college experience, having kids in class together, our family ties, our shared love of music, all being married to fraternity brothers, or having worked side by side as colleagues. But they can also do it in a way that can not be matched because they are women, and we all share bits and pieces of a larger conscious, like Ralph Waldo Emerson’s over-soul: a conscious that allows certain things to go unconditionally understood.

Yet that does not keep us from sitting around a table of margaritas and Mexican food, talking about anything and everything for hours on end. My average girls’ night out dinner runs about three hours, and probably would go longer if we did not get such dirty looks from the wait staff who are trying to close up and go home on a Tuesday night. My husband has said on more than one occasion, “What do you talk about for that long? How do you sit in one place? I’d shoot myself in the eye.” Well, that’s how I feel about football, which is equally as long, not nearly as funny, and no one is wearing anything that I care to know where it came from so I can go get one for myself.

So yeah, girlfriends rock. To all my girlfriends, consider this my love letter to you. I thank each and every one of you for being in my life, for making me laugh way too hard, for talking me through things, for listening me through things, for having my back, for making me feel normal, for making me feel special, for inspiring me, for giving me role models to look to, for loving me for who I am, and for letting me know who you are. Because you are all beautiful. I feel honored to swim in your schools.

And to my husband, lest he feel slighted by this post: This fish may not need a bicycle, but I have never been a strong swimmer, and I much prefer the ride offered by your wheels.

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What I WAS Going to Write About: The Enigma of the Three Year Old

doctor pediatrician
“There has to be something wrong, right?” (photo modified from Flickr under CC by 2.0)

Last week I began formulating an idea for a blog post, born out of the frustration that comes with being the mother of a three-and-a-half year old. I have often said that the age of three should be declared a medical affliction. After all, there has been many a mother who has gone to the pediatrician with complete certainty that there will be a diagnosis of an ear infection, a sinus infection, an ANY infection to account for the increasingly whiny behavior of her child, only to have the pediatrician tell her he is completely healthy…he’s just a three year old. True story. And if three is a medical affliction, then three-and-a-half is a chronic disease.

That WAS what I was going to write about in my post.

I WAS going to pepper the post with a slew of examples proving my hypothesis that the age of three-and-a-half is a chronic disease, examples from right under my own roof. Like last Saturday when Michael pouted that he didn’t want his dad to take him to the playground because he would rather sit in a gym with me and watch his sister’s basketball practice (yes, it is nice that he loves me so, but only a three-and-a-half year old could make going to the playground a bad thing). Or Monday when Michael noticed that I sprinkled just the tiniest dash of flaxseed in his mac ‘n’ cheese and would not eat it because it apparently smelled and tasted “ridiculous.” Or pretty much any time Grace has something worthy of being on video: every recording of her performances, recitals, or games has the sound of Michael whining in the background. And in the case of last year’s Christmas dance recital, he is actually physically IN the background (listen for the cue around the 2:43 mark where I whisper “MICHAEL!” in horrified embarrassment at what I know is about to happen yet have no power to stop).

I WAS going to post about all those things, until a series of good behaviors and heart-melting actions made me feel like a frigid mommy dearest for even thinking to disparage my sweet little boy. Like the fact that on Sunday we were in a church with no cry room for literally almost three straight hours (mass followed by a baptism) and he was a complete and total champ about it. Or the fact that on Tuesday, for pretty much the first time all school year, he walked right over and sat on the rug after hanging up his coat, instead of latching onto my leg and making the goodbye process a battle of wills. Or the fact that on any given day, at any given time, I can ask him for a snuggle and he happily obliges, usually throwing in a goofy little smile as he squashes my cheeks together with his little hands before planting a sticky kiss on my face.

So that is what I AM going to write this post about instead. About a little boy who pretends to be Santa and wraps up things around the house to give his sister. About a little boy who plays house with his four Batman figurines, designating a Dad Batman, a Mom Batman, a Brother Batman, and a Sister Batman who all throw a party in the Batcave for the “Terrible” Hulk so he will turn into the “Happy” Hulk. About a little boy who has me read Llama Llama Misses Mama over and over again because it helps him remember that his own mama might go away sometimes, but she also always comes back. About a little boy who, every day as soon as we drop Grace off at school, says “I miss sis.” About a little boy who calls the kitchen the “chicken,” thereby making it hysterical every time he scolds our dog by yelling, “Scout, get out of the chicken!” About a little boy who sounds like Forrest Gump when he says “ice cream,” and who makes us giddy by humoring us with the movie line we taught him to say for full effect: “Lieutenant Da-an…iiiiice cream!” About a little boy who still has the captivating sing-song voice of innocence, making me sometimes hang on even his jibberish ramblings just to listen to the way he says the words.

Yes, there is definitely a lot to complain about with a three-and-a-half year old. But fortunately, there really is so much more to love. And that is the best medicine for any chronic disease.

What I WAS Going to Write About

kid at the doctor
There HAS to be something wrong with him…right?

Last week I began formulating an idea for a blog post, born out of the frustration that comes with being the mother of a three-and-a-half year old. I have often said that the age of three should be declared a medical affliction. After all, there has been many a mother who has gone to the pediatrician with complete certainty that there will be a diagnosis of an ear infection, a sinus infection, an ANY infection to account for the increasingly whiny behavior of her child, only to have the pediatrician tell her he is completely healthy…he’s just three. True story. And if three is a medical affliction, then three-and-a-half is a chronic disease.

That WAS what I was going to write about in my post.

I WAS going to pepper the post with a slew of examples proving my hypothesis that the age of three-and-a-half is a chronic disease, examples from right under my own roof. Like last Saturday when Michael pouted that he didn’t want his dad to take him to the playground because he would rather sit in a gym with me and watch his sister’s basketball practice (yes, it is nice that he loves me so, but only a three-and-a-half year old could make going to the playground a bad thing). Or Monday when Michael noticed that I sprinkled just the tiniest dash of flaxseed in his mac ‘n’ cheese and would not eat it because it apparently smelled and tasted “ridiculous.” Or pretty much any time Grace has something worthy of being on video: every recording of her performances, recitals, or games has the sound of Michael whining in the background. And in the case of last year’s Christmas dance recital, he is actually physically IN the background. You can watch it here (listen for the cue around the 2:43 mark where I whisper “MICHAEL!” in horrified embarrassment at what I know is about to happen yet have no power to stop.)

I WAS going to post about all those things, until a series of good behaviors and heart-melting actions made me feel like a frigid mommy dearest for even thinking to disparage my sweet little boy. Like the fact that on Sunday we were in a church with no cry room for literally almost three straight hours (mass followed by a baptism) and he was a complete and total champ about it. Or the fact that on Tuesday, for pretty much the first time all school year, he walked right over and sat on the rug after hanging up his coat, instead of latching onto my leg and making the goodbye process a battle of wills. Or the fact that on any given day, at any given time, I can ask him for a snuggle and he happily obliges, usually throwing in a goofy little smile as he squashes my cheeks together with his little hands before planting a sticky kiss on my face.

So that is what I AM going to write this post about instead. About a little boy who pretends to be Santa and wraps up things around the house to give his sister. About a little boy who plays house with his four Batman figurines, designating a Dad Batman, a Mom Batman, a Brother Batman, and a Sister Batman who all throw a party in the Batcave for the “Terrible” Hulk so he will turn into the “Happy” Hulk. About a little boy who has me read Llama Llama Misses Mama over and over again because it helps him remember that his own mama might go away sometimes, but she also always comes back. About a little boy who, every day as soon as we drop Grace off at school, says “I miss sis.” About a little boy who calls the kitchen the “chicken,” thereby making it hysterical every time he scolds our dog by yelling, “Scout, get out of the chicken!” About a little boy who sounds like Forrest Gump when he says “ice cream,” and who makes us giddy by humoring us with the movie line we taught him to say for full effect: “Lieutenant Da-an…iiiiice cream!” About a little boy who still has the captivating sing-song voice of innocence, making me sometimes hang on even his jibberish ramblings just to listen to the way he says the words.

Yes, there is definitely a lot to complain about with a three-and-a-half year old. But fortunately, there really is so much more to love. And that is the best medicine for any chronic disease.