Monday, January 15, 2018

A Letter to My Pre-Teen Son...

Dear son,

You're getting closer to being a teen, and I'm noticing a shift. Truth be told, I'm struggling with that shift. It's sort of like when I get that call that you made the All-Star team and we'll get to watch you play four more weeks of baseball but also lose any chance at vacation the last month of the summer - I'm half cheering for it, and half like, ohhhhhh, yayyyyy sarcastically.

But no matter what, I'm always rooting for you. I'll always be your obnoxiously loud #1 cheerleader in life, so embrace it and accept it and prepare for more!

I know sometimes you get embarrassed when I'm cheering so loudly for you at whatever sporting event you're taking part in. I had a good run of about eight years where it didn't phase you to have mom yelling how proud she is of you or telling you to move your hands up higher on the bat. Now we're at the stage where you let me do my cheering but once in awhile, slip in the side-eye to show me that you already know everything there is to know and you need no more guidance. I get it. I do. I've been there, thinking the same thing about my mom.

I walk down and you're playing video games with your friends, chatting away on the headphones. When I was a kid, we talked on a phone but today, I feel like I'm saving on phone bills because you'd much rather talk through a mouthpiece on your headphones. When I ask who you're playing against, you're like, "Mom, just Jimmy and Corey, and don't say hi to them!" I used to be cool but apparently, that's faded. I get it. I do. I've been there, asking the same thing of my mom.

I know I'm nagging you more and more now, but there's just so much more to nag about. It's not just brush your teeth and make your bed and do your homework; it's wear deodorant and please pack all your homework so you don't get a zero and no you cannot bring your phone to school. And sometimes you oblige my nagging and say "Yes, mom," and sometimes you just wait until I'm done and shut the bedroom door. I get it. I do. I've been there, tired of hearing my mom's voice nagging me to do the same things day after day.

I am sitting here on my laptop, tears falling from my eyes, because I remember being twelve and thinking that my mom just didn't understand; that I knew more than she did; that she was just out to drive me crazy. And I find some peace in remembering that despite all that, I loved her so fiercely even on the days I'd never tell her so. I know you love me. Even on the days when we're both a little harder to love. I get it. I do. I've been there, and you will be someday, too.

We're both going to stumble and we're both going to fail at things; that's just life. I've been a pre-teen but times are different (school research is easier - thank you internet) and growing up is different (and way scarier) today (also, thank you for that, internet). While you're doing your best growing up and I'm doing my best to stand by you and guide you, it's not going to be a perfectly paved road. There's going to be bumps and potholes and obstacles in the roadway but just like you're there saying "It's okay Mom, tomorrow will be better," when I have a rough day, I'll always have your back in life. I'll be there to help when you need it, and be there to celebrate your achievements.

Here's the thing: I take for granted all the little things in life, including you sometimes. When you were little, I was so excited for the next big phase of your life: walking, talking, little league, kindergarten, junior high. And it's cliche and it's been said before but time really does fly. I am still so excited for each new phase of your life but as a mom, I hope you can cut me a little slack because with every new phase in your life comes a moment where it hits me that you're not so little anymore. Every day you're a little more independent; every day, you're a little bit taller; every day, you're a little bit closer to a driver's license and graduation and a thousand other things that I am so, so excited about but also so, so not ready for.

So when I hug you for an extra couple seconds, it's not to embarrass you. It's because I'm trying to squeeze in every single possible hug before, in the blink of an eye, you're grown up and moved out and getting the side-eye from your own kids.

And whether you like it or not, I'm going to cheer louder than anyone else at your games, I'm going to say hi and get to know your friends, and I'm going to nag you to do your homework and clean your room and be a good human being. You may not love it now, but I know just like I did with my mom, you'll look back one day and hopefully never have any doubt of how incredibly much I love you and how proud I am of you.

Love you always,

Mom

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Dream Interpretation...

Ever had a strange dream you couldn't shake? I did. Last night. It wasn't even a bad dream - it was sort of nice, but has left me with this nagging feeling. I don't know why I have this nagging feeling.

I dreamt that I was at a gathering and someone from my past was there, along with his whole family. He's not exactly the kindest person in my memory, but in the dream he was very laid back and nice. There were a ton of people there (I'm not really sure where we all were) and all I remember is I had to get to my next destination, and I didn't have a car. He just kind of lingered on the outskirts of the crowd in my dream, like he wanted to talk but didn't want to make the move to say anything. While he was mainly silent, it was as though he was very sorry about any angst he's caused, and wanted to build a friendship.

The dream ended when his family gave me a ride to my college, where I was going that day (mind you, in the dream, I'm my current age) and then he called later to make sure I made it okay.

Super strange. I welcome anyone's thoughts on what this dream means. 


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Miles to go before I sleep...

I haven't written in quite awhile. I made grand plans to get back to writing more, but life has again taken me down a new fork in the road! 

I have, however, been lucky to keep writing in my life, if only a little at a time. Recently, a dear friend from high school - who is now a professor at a local university - asked if I would be a panel participant on writing books at their annual writing conference. I was very excited not only to be a part of the panel, but to see my friend, Beth, whom I haven't seen in nearly 10 years. I presented alongside a very thoughtful and talented man named David Masciotra. (David Masciotra is the author of five books: "Mellencamp: American Troubadour" (University Press of Kentucky, 2015), "Barack Obama: Invisible Man" (Eyewear Publishing, 2017), and the forthcoming, "Half-Lights at Evening: Essays on Hope" (Agate Publishing).)


I was struggling recently with the fact that I haven't made the time to finalize the edits on my newest novel, which I'd hoped to have out already. I'm reminded of one of my favorite poets and a line from his poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening: "The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep." And that, my friends, sums up my writing at the moment. My almost-published book is one I am so proud of and love so much, but I have bigger obligations right now and a lot to do before I can rest. So, it will eventually get done, but right now I must stay focused on taking care of family.

Have a wonderful holiday! 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Social Media

Have you heard of this new (okay, is it considered old now because it was really hip like, a month ago?) app called saraha.com?

Kid1 asked to download it and wasn't thrilled with my "Ummmm, no," response. I am not a big fan of him downloading anything I don't really know about. So I downloaded it on my phone in order to check it out and see what it's about. (My job is largely social media, so it doesn't hurt to see what it's all about.)

Apparently, it's an app where people can anonymously send you messages. Which, I mean, sounds like a wonderful app for all the people who are more comfortable blurting out what''s on their mind while hiding behind a screen and a keyboard than talking to people face to face.

And in the days of combatting bullying, I feel like this is the exact opposite of what ANY gradeschooler should have access to! Isn't there enough bullying and name calling already? Do we really need to give people an anonymous way to insult another? Because I feel like kids who want to use this aren't giving each other warm and fuzzy sentiments, but I could be wronf!

I signed up (allisonbr.Sarahah.com if you're on there and can teach me more about this thing) so I can try and figure out the ins and outs of it. I'm searching for some articles to demonstate why this is a bad idea, and welcome suggestions.

What other apps are kids using now that need to be deleted or closely monitored?


Monday, October 23, 2017

Under Construction

Hello!

Please bear with me as I clean up the blog a little over the next couple weeks. I have quite a few blog posts to put up, some to reactivate, and some to remove. I'm hoping to start the process tomorrow, and have it done by the end of the next week. So not only will there be new material, but lots of other things to read about (or read again, lol)! In the meantime, please take a moment to answer this anonymous poll to help me determine what posts to start writing more about. Thank you!

What would you like to see more posts about?



Monday, October 16, 2017

What Makes A Good Mom?

If there's one thing I've learned about parenting, it's that the internet is an endless abyss of people telling you what you are and aren't doing right. We search Pinterest for ways to make our child's room fantastically unique. We scroll through Facebook seeing the Halloween costumes that are way out of our price range and yet call us to purchase so our kid isn't ridiculed. We read articles about how to give our kids the best organic lunch, shaped into an artistic outdoor scene sculpted in the late hours of the evening.
And if I really stop to think about it, my kids don't really care about any of that stuff. Sure, they'd love new paint in their room - but they'd rather be painting a big piece of paper with mom or dad. Because that's what they're really looking for - quality time.

I've said it before but unfortunately, it needs to be a constant reminder for me. I don't have a lot of time with them between work and other responsibilities, and sometimes I lose sight of the need to spend some quality time with each of them. Today, amid the muck of Facebook, I came across this article and it gave me a new bucket-list to do before the end of this year: 30 Little Things That Mean A Lot to Kids.

My mom did a lot for me growing up. Laundry, taking us to practices, cleaning the house, shopping for school clothes. I don't remember any of those things though, at least not in the sense of a memory of her actually doing them. What I do remember, though, is her waking me up for high school at 6 a.m. with a sock she made into a duck puppet, just being goofy. I remember her helping me to make pies the right way when I wanted to experiment with baking. I remember that on Tuesdays, she would "sleep over" in my room and we'd talk about school or boys or troubles until we were both too tired to talk.

I think about my beautiful girl and how many times I tell her I'm too tired. (Which, by the way, is far too many.) We do lots of things together, but I'm starting to think she has a far better grasp on how precious the time we have together is than I do. Or perhaps she just appreciates it more. Some days, when I'm really tired, I think Oh my goodness, I wish she would learn to play on her own! Then there are days like today, when I look at her get up, get dressed, make her own breakfast, pack her own lunch, and head out the door to school that I am blindsided by the fact that in a very short time, she won't be asking me to color with her anymore. She won't be asking me to do her makeup or make up a dance or listen to the song she wrote. 

We do a lot for our kids, but I think we can always do more. Not in terms of buying them more or taking them more places, but rather in giving them time and attention in the comfort of our own homes and neighborhoods. Sure, she loves heading out to mini-golf or shop, but she'd be just as happy coloring a few pictures from the big coloring book she bought herself at the school book fair. I hardly remember vacations we went on or going to a pumpkin patch, but I will forever remember that ridiculous sock puppet and the beautiful woman who made something so inane and silly one of the dearest pieces of my memory.

What is your favorite memory from growing up?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Missing the Old Times

Writing this novel has definitely brought back some memories for me. Part of writing any story is research. If it's set back in history, you need to know every detail and every aspect of that time, from politics to what a button on a jacket looked like. This makes your story more authentic.

So as I wrote this one, I definitely spent a lot of time reminiscing on my own experience of being a teenager way back when: the emotions, the highs, the lows, the friends, the broken hearts, the laughter of sleepovers. I spent many hours speaking to people around the age of my characters and their high school experiences, as well as their hopes, dreams and regrets from then and today. 

Needless to say, all the reminiscing definitely made me nostalgic for those days. I don't want to go back (I think living through my dramatic teenage years once was enough, and I love watching my kids build their own lives in the here and now!) but I definitely miss the people from those days. College was okay and I have some wonderful friends from my college years, but it just wasn't the same. I spent my college years testing boundaries and in many aspects, hanging around some people I should have distanced myself from, searching for whatever I felt I was lacking in my life at that time. (Don't get me wrong - I also had some amazingly awesome college buddies!) Every day there was something and someone new, so it was a rotating door of new and unfamiliar, which I don't particularly do well with. 

High school was never like that - there was familiarity. There were the same people, eight hours a day (and sometimes more), weekends filled with no responsibility and no jobs but rather just fun and camaraderie. I definitely miss the lesser responsibilities sometimes as I'm drowning in work and running kids to ten different activities, but, I know someday I'll miss what I'm doing now just as much. 

My dad has a hard time remembering current affairs, so often, what we talk about is those years around when I was a teen. He likes remembering some of the friends that came through our doors and laughter that would infiltrate the entire house. Perhaps that is why I am feeling so nostalgic lately; they were indeed good (and easier) times, and I really miss some of the people I knew and loved.

I think that's one of the hardest parts of growing up. These amazing human beings come into our lives for a little bit but they stay in our hearts forever. Life is like a big apple pie where each slice is something important to us. We get older, get jobs, get bills, get families, get homes, get more responsibility and as the pie is sliced yet again, it cuts back on that slice of time we have available for the people outside our immediate circle, no matter how important they are to us. 

And perhaps that is why getting a note or email or social media message from one of those familiar faces just saying "Hi, thinking about you, wishing you the best" is one of the sweetest parts of my day. No matter how much time and distance comes between us, know that I am thinking about you - and that you made my life better just by being in it. 

It's been a very long, very trying week, and I find myself hoping for one of those messages. 

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