As My Daughter Turns 30

1053374_10152004907646959_788614697_o30 years ago today, ten days overdue, I wondered if my soon-to-be-born baby would ever arrive. I wasn’t feeling great, but had been told by an OB/Gyn standing in for my own doctor that day that I most likely had a stomach bug. “No, I had similar symptoms when I went into labor with my son.” He wasn’t buying it. And I wasn’t buying his response either.

However, I went home and sat on the couch that evening, no labor in sight – some stomach cramping, but nothing that stopped me from polishing off half a pint of Haagen Daz sorbet. My son was asleep and my husband taking a bath. I remember shouting from the living room around 10 p.m., “I feel like these stomach cramps have some sort of pattern to them.” Per usual, he didn’t think I was in labor. (This reaction became consistent behavior with all four births). A half-hour later, he was calling his parents to come watch our son and we were on our way to the hospital shortly thereafter.

My labor, at the hospital, consisted of me running to the bathroom several times while contractions increased rapidly. I had momentary fear I’d be become one of those moms who actually gave birth on a toilet (insert your own shudder here). Not more than a few pushes later, my beautiful, 10-lb. baby girl arrived. At the time, women were still moved from labor rooms to delivery. Ridiculously, we traveled over quickly, I was hoisted on the delivery table and Marissa Skye made her debut in what seemed like moments later, Even at nearly 11 days overdue by this hour, I never imagined I’d give birth to a child that looked at least two weeks old – and she was perfect. I’m sure the other babies in the nursery were wondering, “What’s up with this toddler? Why’s she here?”

1052189_10152004908231959_369798622_oHer birth was indicative of her life thus far as a daughter. Not a lot of fuss or drama. Throughout the years, I’ve heard any number of horror stories about arguments and sass, tears cried (by both parties) and how rough it is to raise a daughter. I don’t have much to add to that conversation, except this: The toughest part of raising my daughter is knowing what the world can sometimes be like for a woman – the expectations, the disrespect and the vulnerabilities she’ll experience. The most tears I’ve cried are in knowing I’ve sometimes failed her – in spite of my best intentions – and in preparing for her to move out in her senior year of college. I cried for me, not her, because she had become this incredible adult I was so proud of and loved so much, but time moved far too fast for my liking. She was ready, and already older than I was when I left home, but I knew how much I was going to miss her.

1025317_10152004907466959_246878010_oThroughout the years, she’s welcomed me in her life, even during the far more private teen years, and I feel so blessed by how much I’ve been able to share of her life, even now as she approaches 30. She’s made wise choices, worked hard to earn her bachelor’s – going to school three days a week and working full-time the other four, married the person who she’s loved since she was 16 and earlier last year, became a mother.

As often happens, her birth experience was not quite what she expected and she learned the day prior to his birth that her overdue son was following in her footsteps – yet he was topping the scales at over 11 lbs. A C-section would follow – and it was in the hours after that I marveled at how natural it was to see she and her husband as parents. I was humbled in the days to come by her resilience, her lack of complaint when surely she was in great pain and how brave she had been throughout the week prior.

It has been amazing to watch her become the mom she has to my beautiful grandson. For someone who never had much interest in children, it’s like she has been doing this all of her life. Her love for her son has amplified all of her best qualities and added a confidence to her personality of which she probably isn’t even aware.

11249162_815036344616_5263709167496426279_nSo she is about to turn 30, and it tugs at my heart. It’s bittersweet as I miss the girl she once was, but I’m so excited for the woman she now is and the possibilities ahead of her. As any parent will say, time goes by too quickly, far too quickly. Yet, I remember so many moments, many that she may never recall – and those are the moments that sustain me as time continues to spiral us forward. I still see her sweet smile – mirrored always in her eyes, too – and the little ponytails, and the love for every new pair of sneakers. Sometimes her long hair is in a braid and I can’t help but reach out and feel its texture, hold it for a second in my hand, remembering all the mornings braiding her hair so long ago. I see the care she takes in choosing new sneakers, even now, and how her smile is still one of my favorite things – and especially now seeing it in her son too.

I’m so very proud of the woman my daughter has become. She’s stronger than she knows, smarter than she realizes and so very capable of handling whatever life brings her way. She has taken on far more than many women twice her age – acting as a guardian for a chronically ill parent and taking on the role of the family organizer so much of the time. I rest easy knowing that she is the next generation foundation that will always keep our family close.

Happy 30th birthday, Marissa Skye! It is such a privilege to be your mother. I love you so much. 

Looking for Motivation Today

For many, many years, my life revolved around the needs of a family of six. With four children, the youngest to oldest a little over a 10 years apart, there was a lot of parenting, a lot of mothering in those years – and still is, although quite different in those needs. In fact, there are far fewer needs – and for me that means success. My kids have grown to capable, caring adults, who have full lives that they are dealing with quite well. And while we remain a tight-knit family, and I am a very independent woman, there’s still a sense of loss that every parent feels at this stage of the game – as well as a sense of pride.

There’s also that sense of opportunity – what’s next? I am greatly involved in any number of things, the first beyond family and work being school. Three years ago I made the decision to finally return to school and get the bachelor’s degree I began more than 30 years ago – and that’s wrapping up finally in the fall. It’s been a long haul and not always highly enjoyable, even though I have a real sense of accomplishment each time I complete a round of courses. My plan is to start my master’s come March of ’16 and get that done as quickly as possible – and then have some time once again to really do more than I can now. I want to teach eventually, and look forward to that possibility.

I made a conscious decision many years ago to dedicate my life to helping others whenever I can. While I’ve managed to align myself with some very worthwhile nonprofit activities and organizations throughout the years, I know there’s so much more that I want to do – so much more I can do.

As I look around this house – there’s no shortage of things I need to do – seriously need to attend to. I find that I don’t have the motivation I once did to get things done here. I think a major component of that is that I’m here on my own most of the time. In the past, there was always someone here to lend a hand, to join in, or at the very least, to motivate me to do stuff. I wanted to accomplish it for someone else. So now, it’s a chore to motivate myself, although I’m always psyched when things are done.

So that’s my challenge to myself today. Get motivated. Get moving. Stop thinking and start working on something new. With a cool breeze moving through the house via fans and the beautiful sunshine pouring in, I’m doing my best to convince myself that this makes for optimal workflow. Somehow the couch and a good book sound far more appealing. Let’s see which wins!

Finding Time for Appreciation

IMG_1753When life is extraordinarily busy, there’s nothing more pleasurable than having a day unfold without an alarm, without a rush out the door and some time to tidy up the house – to be able to just sit and relax a while. Somehow, even if there’s a few things that must be done and a place or two later in the day that has to be gone to, starting a day like this is pretty remarkable. Continue reading “Finding Time for Appreciation”

Fourteen Years Gone

24153_419790996958_1767782_n-2My father passed away fourteen years ago today, and it strikes me that he has now been gone more than a quarter of my life. Something about that is beyond bizarre to me, and yet his influence is felt every single day. I feel him in my attitude, the way I talk, and the manner in which I approach life itself.

So much has happened since he died – so many things I wish I could tell him. He wouldn’t say much in response. Never a big conversationalist, he would most likely nod or smile, or scowl dependent on the subject matter. He could get exasperated pretty easy, but I like to think he would have mellowed a bit more with age.

My mother always says that my father would never have survived in these times. He’d find them too upsetting, the world too crazy. I don’t know – he was pretty realistic. As an engineer, he looked at life strategically and was a straight shooter in his response to what life handed him. Or maybe she just knew him so much better than me and perhaps his failing health was in response to the world around him and his internal strife in viewing it.

Maybe I just idealize the man that has always meant the most to me. Continue reading “Fourteen Years Gone”

Outnumbered: Five to One

55938_10150102636931959_7433501_oI often arrive home from work and realize that I’ve spent a good half hour dealing with pet-related necessities before even I’ve even given anything else a thought. Or stayed up extra late because I hadn’t been home much that day and felt that it hadn’t been fair to the dogs if I went to bed early since they had been cooped up in their crates most of the day (although truth be told, they aren’t exactly doing much of anything more exciting when they aren’t in them most of the time). And I greet them far more pleasantly each morning than I’ve ever greeted any mammal of the human variety. If any of this sounds familiar to you, then you are most certainly a pet owner.

24153_422630216958_3628000_nAs I was getting ready to settle back down on the couch one night recently, after finally putting dinner in the oven, thinking I’d do a little writing – and maybe about the animals I live with and the shenanigans we encounter together – I walked across the living room and stepped in something wet. I was hoping it was cold wet, as in perhaps some snow came back in the house with one of the dogs, but quickly realized it was warm wet. Warm, never a good sign, and now my deliciously comfortable, fleeced-lined trouser sock was also warmer and yes, wet. With a sigh, I peeled it off, took a quick whiff to confirm what I already knew to be true and shook my head in disgust, for about the millionth time this past year while I broke out the floor cleaner and then the Wet-Jet. Continue reading “Outnumbered: Five to One”

The Peacefulness of Gently Falling Snow

IMG_0844We’ve had a lot of snow lately. That’s a bit of an understatement really. We’ve had more than a lot of snow in the past week or so – and it’s snowing out now. I looked outside a while ago and thought, “Hmm, is it snowing or simply wind blowing it off the roof?” Within a few minutes, the gentle flakes had escalated to a greater flow from above and it’s snowing in earnest now.

Perhaps because I’m not greatly disadvantaged by the snow – no shoveling really (thank god for strong sons, even with just one at home still, and the kindness of a neighbor with a snowblower), the ability to work from home in inclement weather and a warm home – I don’t mind it. I live in New Hampshire and I expect it to snow. It’s when it doesn’t that it doesn’t feel right. Continue reading “The Peacefulness of Gently Falling Snow”

Nailing the Back-up Move

tree light 113I’m sometimes of the misguided impression that I have some decent skills in backing my car up. Now that I have a smaller vehicle and feel somewhat smug at times in my ability to parallel park in tight city spots, I believe that this translates into being able to back up straight or adequately gauge space constraints. All of this is quickly laid to rest in one simple trip within my own small town, to our solid waste facility and recycling center (a.k.a. the town dump).

While I don’t often travel there these days, blessed instead with a series of sons who have taken over that task, there are times when it’s far more efficient to use two vehicles. This time of year is one of them, because like every other household in town, we accumulated a ton of trash due to the holidays, from wrapping paper remnants to lots of empty beverage bottles. ‘Tis the season for long lines at the dump, and having to plan out a solid chunk of time to make multiple trips, as my youngest son learned this past weekend. Offering up my vehicle as well this weekend, he plied the interior to capacity with cardboard and empty boxes, all of which have their own large window in the waste building, and loaded up the trunk with trash bags, which go into yet another window.

Continue reading “Nailing the Back-up Move”

Undecking the Halls

Bowl of OrnamentsMany feel a distinct sadness when Christmas ends and it’s time to start storing away the holiday decorations for yet another year. I don’t.

Christmas, as much as I love it, begins to feel like much too much – and I love the tradition, the beautiful Christmas tree and decorations, and most of all, the special time with my family and my friends. But suddenly, I’m ready, and I welcome clearing the shelves, the tabletops, the windows; you name it, I may have put a holiday decoration there. I’m ready to pare it all down and return to simpler space.

Continue reading “Undecking the Halls”

Resilience

Japanese_Red_Maple_by_wearebombsThere’s a Japanese red maple tree in my side yard, massive in stature, its normally vibrant, deep red leaves darkened by autumn to a rich purplish-black hue. The tree came to us as a sapling – a gift to my oldest son when he was just a young boy, by a beloved grandfather who would one day betray the grandson he adored.

The tree has weathered much; New Hampshire nor’easters are never a gentle thing, yet the tree persevered and continue to grow no matter what kind of battering came its way. Over the years, it’s not only grown, but flourished, and then a couple of years ago, a particularly treacherous storm almost split the tree in half. We lost about a third of its branches and a piece of its trunk, and I wasn’t sure if it would survive.

Continue reading “Resilience”

Road-tripping Through the Maritimes

IMG_0402Having recently returned from a family vacation in Canada, I started thinking about its origin and what it actually ended up being. Many months ago, my oldest son expressed an interest in going to the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware, which featured a ton of bands over a four-day period. He bemoaned the fact that most of his friends were too married or too broke to commit at that point, and I glibly said, “Well, I’ll go.” And I would. To his credit, he didn’t immediately say, “Seriously?” Given our mutual love of all things Foo Fighters-related (we actually saw the band together for the first time a couple of years ago), we both were pretty excited about the possibility of seeing them again. We each requested the time off from work and said we would order tickets soon—but first we would see if my youngest son wanted to go.

He wasn’t sure. It was a financial commitment he wasn’t ready to make. So we waited, and then we kind of knew the answer, but we waited. As a couple of weeks went by, we kept waiting on getting tickets and for no particular reason. And then I started thinking about it, and wondering, “If I spend the money on a four-day festival and then lodging, food, travel and all, would I rather be spending it on something more?” But I didn’t say anything. I already said I’d go. Meanwhile, we waited and occasionally would mention, “Hey, we better get tickets,” and do nothing.

I started thinking about Canada. More specifically, I started thinking about Prince Edward Island, a place I hadn’t been to since I was a teenager and where my maternal grandparents were from. It’s also the place my mom spent many of her childhood and young adult summers. I kept thinking how amazing it would be to bring her to the island one more time; how excited she’d be. Continue reading “Road-tripping Through the Maritimes”

A Revisit: Daddy’s Little Girl

24153_419790996958_1767782_nThis is a piece that I wrote back in 2011, and revisited it again today. It seemed apt, being Father’s Day. I was thinking about the changes Father’s Day had brought over the years. When my father passed ten years prior to this originally being written, Father’s Day lost its luster for me. In the years to come, as my children’s father became less and less a part of their daily lives, the holiday was one more painful reminder of the losses in our lives. Strangely enough, my former father-in-law passed away in 2011 on Father’s Day as well.

10459145_10152984124276959_4907261726708619066_nToday, however, I think of the newest father in our lives–my son-in-law Justin, who became a first-time father in late January to a magical little boy named Logan. I marvel at the father he became the minute his son was born–and the mother my daughter became at that same moment. I remember just what that felt like, to become a new parent and suddenly see the world through a tiny wonderful person’s eyes and how fresh and amazing it became. And somehow, Father’s Day now brings a whole new appreciation for me. I don’t miss my father any less, but I am awakened to what the next generation in our family discovers each day and how grateful I am to know my grandson has such an incredible father. Continue reading “A Revisit: Daddy’s Little Girl”

To Just Be for a While

ImageI was away overnight, involved much in the way of team building, active listening and discussion over the course of two days. Although it was thought provoking and enjoyable, the simple fact was that I was with a ton of people for an extended period of time and I found myself seeking out a quiet spot by lunchtime on the second day. It was a bit cooler out than the day before, graying skies and dampness in the air, and yet I sought the outdoors and targeted not the community tables where others enjoyed their lunch outside, but rather a deserted gazebo, directly on the water at the end of a short dock.

Continue reading “To Just Be for a While”