To Cry or Not To Cry

“Mom, you’re not going to cry at graduation are you?” My daughter asked me. Translation: please don’t cry, or set your hair on fire, or any other parental hi jinks. I’m not going to cry I assured her. I tend not to cry at graduations, I view them as true commencements, beginnings. So I planned to stay dry eyed.

She probably didn’t believe me, because I am a cryer.  Big time. I cry at sad movies. When Kevin Costner says to his dad in  the movie “Field of Dreams”  “Wanna have a catch?” I tear up.  My kids always look at me in darkened theaters while I sniff at “My Dog Skip” or any other “family” movie.

I cry while watching TV.  Hallmark movies really do me in.  And the commercials are worse. But I said  I would not cry Sunday at Graduation when my youngest marched in while they played Pomp and Circumstance.

Piecrust Ponderings

I was remembering my mother the other day. I was rolling out pie crust, and she came to mind. I don’t remember loving her pies, I was not much of a pie lover growing up. Me, I’m about cake, and brownies, cookies and such. But, my mother was a pie-woman. After I was married I picked up a rolling pin for my kitchen. It was big and made of white plastic, didn’t work too well. Later I replaced it with another one. Still not much of a pie baker. And than my mother passed away and I inherited her rolling pin, cloth and sleeve. Now whenever I use them I think of her. I also use her pink-handled pie spatula and her small paring knife. I’m sure these items were purchased from the grocery store near her home. She would be mortified to wander in to William Sonoma with me and see the prices they get (sometimes from me) for their kitchen supplies.

My father also gave me my mother’s jewelry after she died. I wear her wedding ring along with mine. And, the diamond and ruby necklace he bought her always gets compliments when I wear it. But it’s those inexpensive kitchen tools that warm my heart the most.
Another thing I’ve noticed about kitchen and dinnerware in particular, is how big they’ve gotten. The stainless steel flatware I received as a wedding gift 30-plus years ago was missing too many pieces. So, this fall I bought a new set. The drawer insert I had bought when we remodeled the kitchen 17 years ago did not fit the new knives and forks–they were too big. And I know more than a few folks who after redecorating their kitchens (new paint not new cabinets) replaced their dishes. Only to find the cabinet doors would no longer close on the over sized plates. It’s hard to find small 3oz juice glasses, and don’t’ get me started on coffee mugs. What does all this mean?

Everywhere you look our stuff takes more space than it used to. And the question is does it have to? (You could extrapolate this to the cars we drive and the portion sizes in restaurants, but I’ll leave that for another day.)

So, I was thinking about my mom as I rolled out pie crust with her old wooden rolling pin the other day. Feeling her right there besides me admonishing me not to roll the crust out too much or it wouldn’t be flaky. And I knew some things are best left unimproved or enlarged. And finally after all these years, my mother’s rolling pin in hand, I make a pretty good pie. I’m just say’n.

The Future Is Now

I confess to being something of a techno-novice. In other words I came late to the party on the information highway. I resisted e-mail, I scoffed at my husband’s need for a Blackberry over a cell phone years ago. And when I finally got a cell phone I was barely able to make calls.If I needed to add a number to the contacts one of my kids had to do the programing for me. As a matter of fact every time someone in the family needed a new cell phone we just tacked more time onto my contract and updated theirs. Until finally my phone just burst one day quite literally in my hands. At this point my husband decided I should join the rest of the family and get an I-phone. I also, by now had my own laptop. I joined Face book, and started a blog. My family still can’t believe it.

But this month the world really stopped spinning when I asked for and received for my birthday an e-reader. A Barne’s and Noble Nook, to be exact. I have always been an avid reader spending much free time at the library and various new and even used bookstores. I probably like books even more than shoes. Which is another blog all together.
And so I have come to this. The woman who told my son’s kindergarten teacher I would volunteer for any post just not “computer-mom” now has not one but three wi-fi devices.
Now, I am no genius at any of these tools. I still do not know how to “cut and paste”. And I am woefully ignorant of many other basic tasks. And the “language” of the computer. Well,when I had my first day as “computer-mom” (yes my request went ignored) I did not know what the “mouse” was. Now it was the early ’90’s and I had left an office position where I used only a “word-processor” 4 years prior. But even still thank goodness for the 5yr old who could direct me to the mouse.

So, I have entered the future. A little late, and far behind the rest of my family. It’s kind of fun. And my husband and kids love to tease me about my failings and foibles with all these devices. But I’m not worried or embarrassed. I’m still the only one in the family who knows how to properly load the dishwasher. I’m just say’n.

Keepsakes and Memories

When is the right time to discard or find a new home for memorabilia? Every morning when I brush my teeth (and for that matter every night too) I see it. A small stainless steel cup, a raised teddy bear face on the front, my son’s name engraved on the back. It is somewhat like the sterling silver cup on the windowsill over my kitchen sink. One is filled with Q-tips, the other houses lip balms, assorted sewing needles and other small items. They were both gifts to my now 23 year-old son. I don’t think he realizes they are actually “his.” And while he does use Q-tips, he does not have a kitchen sink window in his Chicago apartment. But I wonder, at what time should I relinquish ownership to the rightful owner?

I have nooks and crannies all over my house that hold someonelse’s something. And while the two cups are emblematic they do give me pause. The collection of school art work, report cards and his National Honor Society certificate are all safely housed in a Rubbermaid container. Will he ever want them?

I’m not the first parent confronted with these questions. When I had been married 2 years and my husband and I were moving across state lines my parents had us stop by to “pick up a few things.” Let’s just say that it was a good thing we already had a truck. Some of the items I was ecstatic to take, like the antique oak curio my father salvaged that had been in my room since I was 10. Other things like paperback books were just things I then got rid of. But, I feel like my mother must have back then. She could not just dispose of the items of my past no matter how large or insignificant. It would feel just wrong.

I have a friend who helped her mother-inlaw move from a home of many years to a condo. In cleaning out the basement they came upon the dental retainer of my friend’s husband. That’s really a piece of personal memorabilia. That story prompted me to dispose of both my children’s retainers when they passed out of the land of orthodonture. But I hold on to other things.

I have small remnants of both of their “transitional objects.” Otherwise known as security blankets. They remind me of a sweet time in their lives when a soft cloth could ease their hearts and give them comfort.

The reverse of this story is of course the keepsakes I inherited from my own parent’s lives. The box of really old photos of nameless unknown people from the lives they had together and separate of each other haunt me from my attic. I just could not get rid of them.

These are not things I cherish, I just feel like releasing them is too close to erasing my parents lives from history. Periodically, I am able to get rid of something. The last winter jacket my dad wore hung in my basement for years until I could put it into a coat collection barrel. But that bowling shirt with his name on it, his driver’s license, I still have those.

And so I think I’ll keep the baby cups for a while longer. They really don’t fit into a 20-something’s decor. But there will come a time I’m sure when they will have to go to their true owner. But somehow I’m sure they will always mean more to me than they mean to him, I’m just say’n.

Do you have a treasure trove that is not quite treasure? Please comment and let me know.

Worst Mom Ever

A friend lamented the other day what an awful mom she was because after working two jobs, her volunteer duties and taking care of her two at home kids and dog she had taken her son to his Sunday track meet to discover one problem. The meet was Saturday. She just felt awful sure that she was a “bad Mom.” Her comrades in arms/Spanx all assured her she was not a bad mom and that “we’ve all been there.” But what is it that makes Moms so hard on ourselves?
Mixups and forgotten bake-sale cupcakes have happened to most of us and we all have felt the pain of self-censure. Nobody’s perfect. And nobody expects you to be perfect; except you.
Some time ago a Dad-type person I know took his daughters to Six Flags for some summer fun.
After the usual morning-time chaos and the hour drive to the park they arrived. Only for Dad to notice that his youngest, 6 or 7 at the time had forgotten her shoes. Without to much wringing of hands he drove to a nearby discount store and bought her some sneakers. Problem solved.
I don’t remember him telling me his daughter’s lack of shoes reflected on him as a parent. And it didn’t. (He did laugh when he told the story and call his little darling “goofy.) He did not think she would be forever scarred or damaged. He was right. And , she grew up quite beautifully. Now she peaks into patient’s brains as part of Hospital’s Neuro-surgical team. Not so “goofy” after all.
I think my girlfriend is a victim of what I call the syndrome of “Too many shoes.” It goes like this. Your’e doing what you need to do working,managing the household, baking the cupcakes. When someone comes crazy-eyed into the room asking “Do you know where my shoes are?” They maybe 6, 16, or 26 and they have no idea where their soccer/sandals/ dressy black shoes are. You are in equal parts frustrated with their inability to put things where they belong and frightened to realize you do know where their shoes are. You know where everyone’s shoes are.
Your head is full of footwear location information. And you are worried. Worried that they will never be able to manage their own lives if they cannot even find their footwear. Is it any wonder that sometimes a detail is overlooked or an afternoon double-booked when your head is full of all those shoes. Yes my friend has two many shoes.
I also think Mom’s are hardest on ourselves because we really know how much we love our own Moms and try so hard to be that kind of Mom to our kids. And hind sight being 20-20, we now appreciate the little ways we were loved and nurtured by our own mom. Ways we never noticed while it was happening.
A year or two after my mom had died I was in a department store buying underwear. Nothing exciting just underwear. There was probably a sale. While waiting in line with the other women, all different ages, someone remarked that they liked it better when new underwear just appeared on your bed after school. Provided by Mom. We all agreed. This simple purchase for many of us symbolized the intimate relationship of Mom caring for us like no onle else. Those day -of-the week underpants meant more than their cost in dollar and cents ever could.
So on this Mother’s Day I want to tell my friend she is a good mom too. She wanted to be at the track meet, she forgot the day. She does so many other small and big things for her kids that on this one occasion she confused the days. But she hasn’t once confused her children. They know shes loves them. They will know years from now that she always was thinking of them. She always knew where their shoes were. Because she always knew where her heart was. I’m just say’n.

Transition and Tafeta

This is shaping up to be one interesting week in our home. On Sunday a friend and I took my daughter on the mystical, magical hunt for a prom dress. This rite of passage came with it’s own feeling of one part nostalgia and two parts of disbelief. On Monday our 22 year old son accepted a job in Chicago. It’s his first post-college job not meant to be a “summer” marking -time job.

When I look back at the events in a family’s life that seperate the stages of life I am interested to see how we are all connected by these transistions and how alike my experience is to that of my co-workers and friends who have traveled this same road.

The friend who told me over and over “they’re only little for such a little time. ” When I was exhausted by lack of sleep and my days were ruled by nap-time and wipe-downs it seemed that they would be needy little sponges forever. But now it seems, as if those days just flew by. And oh that reminds me, “the day’s go slow the years fly by” was another pearl from another Mom I know. The truth is if we are on any level awake as parents we are continually having the kind of moments where we are surprised by the passage of time and our own transformation into “grownups.”

Because in my mind (and by that I mean your mind too) it was only yesterday when I was picking out a prom dress or starting a job I would keep past Labor Day. But somehow here we all are. And if your’e not on your way to the promwear department this week don’t worry you will be soon. I’m just say’n.