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Thursday, February 23, 2012

People who Entertain me - blogs

I'm just really getting into the world of bloggers. It's a fascinating place. Some of my favs are mommy bloggers. Others just make me think. Some just amuse me. They all entertain in one form or another.

http://havestrollerwilltravel.blogspot.com/ Alissa makes me want to do good things in this world. I like that.

http://crazylovesme.com/archives/71 This is a new blog from a chick whose life is enviable. She travels, experiences life and crazy shit finds this girl. Always.

http://www.ooblick.com/weblog/ Epsilon Clue. Full disclosure: I date this writer. That said, I don't always agree with him on everything but he always makes me think.

http://mommaneedsabeer.blogspot.com/ Kelli is right. Momma needs a beer. Or a sangria or just a shot of tequila.

http://www.justpowers.com/ My neighbor who has a sense of humor and makes me think.

http://aparentinsilverspring.com/about This is the go-to site for parents who need things to do with their kids. And for fun give-aways. I want to be a blogger like Jessica.

That's a good start. There are more. I'll add more later.....

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

When Mean Girls Grow Up

I didn't find out if my babies were boys or girls prior to their birth. I wanted to be surprised (because having twins wasn't enough of a surprise). I certainly had no idea what was in the cards for me by spawning two little girls.

From the beginning of this journey, one of my sayings has been "no mean girls in this house". And I mean it. I have never understood the need of girls and women to denigrate each other. Men don't do this. Boys don't do this. Girls do this. It makes me nuts. It's probably the reason all my closest friends have been male.

I knew my fair share of mean girls growing up. There's still one person who I probably wouldn't help if she was hit by a car in front of me. Karma is a bitch. And she was a bitch to me for years. After all, a leopard doesn't change its spots so a nasty girl grows up to be a nasty woman, right?

Maybe not. Social media has brought me in touch with people I thought were gone from my life for ever. Most of the people are folks with whom I want to be in touch. There are others who surprised me by sending me friend requests. Generally I either ignore the request or relegate them to some hidden place on my page. Occasionally I am surprised by them.

One, who shall remain nameless, was mean to me in school. I have no fond memories of her whatsoever. I avoided her at reunions. I saw her posts on the pages of mutual friends but I never comment on them. So I was surprised to get a friend request from her.

I read her info and looked at her page. She didn't look so mean any more. She looked like a mom. And not a mean mom.

Then out of no where she donated to my Avon walk for Cancer site. I was stunned. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it was me who was being judgmental and mean. After all, I don't like it when people still see me as a purple-spiky haired teenager. There's more to me than that. Maybe I don't give others the same opportunity to change.

I'm watching one of my kids take on the mean girl character. It makes me nuts. Maybe I can take solace in knowing it might not last forever. One can hope....

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Family

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.” Richard Bach

I think Richard Bach was on to something. That phrase has stayed in my head for years. Other than my immediate family, my mother and my brother, I've never felt a connection to my family. My aunts, uncles and cousins don't know me. And I'm fine with that.

I moved to Maryland to work for a well known sign language interpreting agency. When I had my interview I was told it was a "family" atmosphere. Doesn't every office say that? They were right, which I didn't realize for many years.

Last night I went out with a group of former co-workers. I've known most since 1993, some since 1996. These are the people who went through my dating trials and tribulations, my wedding, the birth of my children and later my divorce. These are the folks who would show up at my house with McDonald's and be willing to hold a baby so I could take a shower (kids with reflux get cranky when they lay down). These are the folks who kept me grounded when I didn't think I could be and always made me feel welcome. These are the folks who would make me nuts at times yet always be there for me. They were my family.

We've gone through so much together - births, divorces, new jobs, deaths - all the things families do. Sometimes we don't see each other for years. But we can always pick right back up from where we left things. I think some of them don't realize how much of an impact they've made on my life. One person in particular stands out for me. She made me nuts when I worked there. I was always kind of scared of her. But when I had a child and would get so frustrated at my husband for doing things "wrong" (read: differently than how I did them), she would tell me "Mommies and Daddies do things differently and it's okay." I would say that over and over in my head until I finally believed it. She was also the first person to tell me that I really would live when my kids were with their dad - I'd never been apart from them for more than a day or two before that. Now they stay with him for a week. That was an adjustment. But she was right. Another is my work twin (we started on the same day). Nothing significant happens in my life without him knowing it, though we may only see each other once every few months. I hope these people know how much I value them.

We all left that company at some point. It was kind of like leaving the nest. But we all stay connected. And thanks to modern technology, Facebook, we're all in touch more than ever. Getting together is like going home. And homecomings are always sweet.




Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Well Meaning Ignorant People

I wrote the following post for the blog of a friend of mine about three years ago. Have Stroller, Will Travel (http://www.havestrollerwilltravel.blogspot.com/) is a favorite of mine. She lives in the same world I did when my kids were the age her child is now - semi-stay at home mom, semi-working mom. Recently she had an incident with someone who questioned her parenting choices. I'm sure people question other folks' choices often but who has the balls to say it? Out loud? Even though we know people who do that are not worth our time, it still affects us. So, Alissa, this one is for you. Again.

Well meaning ignorant people

When I was pregnant with my twins (now nearly 9), I was stunned at the stupid things people felt they had the right to say to me. Twins? Oh, you’re going through IVF? Low sperm count? Did you wait too long to start trying? And that was just the beginning!

My husband is far more laid back than I. Nothing riles him – except the stupid things people said to us. After a while, he grew weary of hearing “Oh, IVF?” - like our reproductive life is anyone’s business! So one day someone asked it and he answered, “No, missionary.” That ended the questions. Awesome.

People felt the need to tell us horror stories. “You know, my cousin’s next door neighbor’s daughter was pregnant with twins. One died….hope that doesn’t happen to you.” Nice. “You know twins will have language delays or (fill in the medical horror story blank).” We got used to it but it was always unnerving.

One day when my girls were just a few months old, I was walking down the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ, and a man saw me walking by. He yelled out “There’s double trouble!” I shot back my normal retort: “No, they’re a double blessing!” He started to argue with me, explaining that he had daughters, he knew of what he spoke. My husband had to steer me away from him before I punched him in my hormonal rage. On the same trip, while holding one of my girls, a woman approached me to tell me I was permanently damaging my child by using pacifiers. She was a chiropractor, she explained, so she knew this to be true. Seriously? This is what motherhood was going to be like?

That continued for several years. People felt they had the right to touch my children and offer me advice that I clearly didn’t want. Until recently, we would be asked things (in front of my kids!) like “Who’s the good one?” They didn’t seem to understand that if you label one good, the other becomes the bad one. “Who’s the smart one?” They’re both smart, thank you very much.

People were also curious about my delivery. I had one non-medical person in the delivery room with me: my husband. Why on earth do people care about my vagina? “Wow, you probably had a lot of tearing….lots of stitches?” I don’t know you. You have no right to ask questions like that. One day I did ask some random person who bombarded me with questions on a particularly bad day if she asked others about their vaginas? No? Then don’t ask me.

There were two locations that were full of crazies. Walmart, not unexpectedly, harbored quite a few. “I knew a twin once. Can I touch yours?” No, you can’t. “My mom has a neighbor with a daughter who married a guy with twins in Kansas. Do you know them?” No, I don’t. Then there was the Superfresh grocery store in Silver Spring, at the time one of the few stores that had all their aisles handicap accessible (big enough for the double stroller). Without fail, every single time I was in there, a man (different every time) would ask me to demonstrate how I breastfed them simultaneously. I stopped shopping there.

My kids grew tired of the questions, too. One day at our local mall, a woman started to approach us. One of my girls turned to look at her and spout out “We’re 7. Fraternal. Yes, we know we look alike but trust us, we’re not. We’re both good.” I stood there, dumbfounded, but also kind of proud. What a shame that my kids have learned that people are so intrusive.

We chose not to have more children for a variety of reasons, one of which was what happened when we went out with our friends who have multiples AND singleton children. Those singletons didn’t even exist to the strangers who felt the need to ask a million questions about the twins. Another mother told me the story of someone asking all about her twin sons – when is their birthday? How much did they weigh? Their beautiful non-twin daughter volunteered “My birthday is in May! I weighed almost 9 pounds!” The stranger paid her no mind…and she never forgot that.

There are nice stories as well: countless people who helped me when my hands were full, people who are very kind to my children and the very few who helped in public places during potty training. I remember those far more fondly than those who felt the need to invade my private life with their inappropriate questions. When asked by soon-to-be-parents of multiples what to expect, I usually tell them to prepare for the onslaught of weird questions.

I know parents of singletons get their bellies felt and commented on as well. Maybe it was my crazy pre- and post-natal hormones but I was stunned that people felt they had the right to ask such questions. The good news is now as my children get older, the questions lessen a bit. Now it’s “Are they twins? I thought so but wasn’t sure….” I like that much better!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Measuring time

I know 60 seconds are in a minute and 60 minutes are in an hour. I know that each year consists of 365 days. I know how to measure time as it was taught to me in school.

But there are other ways to measure time. My children are knocking on the door of age 11. It doesn't seem that long ago they were in diapers and I was pulling my hair out in an attempt to potty train them. I clearly remember thinking "if they go to school in diapers, so be it" (that didn't happen).

I measure time differently these days. Occasionally I feel older than I used to but it's not a conscience thing. I know my children grow but I don't notice it daily. I know my mother is in her 80s but she's still My Mom, the same as she ever was.

I was struck today while shopping in my favorite thrift store about how much time has passed. First, it's not the new store any more. Second, the clothes I peruse for my kids are no longer in the baby aisle. Or the toddler aisle. They are in the big kid section, just across from the adults.

My bff from high school is a grandmother. Twice. My ex's bff (who is younger than us) is going to be a grandfather for the third time. How is that possible? I remember another friend's child being born. He's in college now. I don't really remember the years in between.

I guess lots of people have their own time lines. My mother's friend, Anne, gave me a rhinestone bracelet when I was in high school (I collected then and still love bling). She said it was BM - before marriage, when life was fun. I remembered thinking about that as my own marriage ended, though our 14+ years together were more fun than not. I divided my mother's life by BM (before marriage), DM (during) and AM (after). Even those timelines are further divided by life when my brother was young and life when I was young (10 years apart).

My life is divided by locales. There's my brief life in Massachusetts. There's my life in Pennsylvania (which borders a few short stints in NJ) and then my life in Maryland, which I always thought would be temporary but as I'm coming on 20 years, I think it might not be.

I also have the medical timeline. I have the pre-thing-in-my-brain life. That coincides with pre and post lyme disease. There's pre and post pregnancy. Even my ex's various life changing (for me) diagnoses left a mark.

If someone had said to me "You will stay in Maryland for 20 years" when I moved here, I would have scoffed in disbelief. I'm a Philly chick and not politically correct enough to be in DC. Little did I know....

Maybe it's just me. I have a warped sense of time and age. I am in denial of my daughters aging before my eyes. And of my gray hair that never seems to go away.




Sunday, February 12, 2012

What's your story?

I survived the funeral yesterday. I was struck by the number of people who had been affected by my mother-in-law. I felt much the same at my father-in-law's funeral. I learned from both events that having friends is important not only in life but in death as well. Both times I couldn't help but wonder what kind of memories I'd leave behind.

I think people would say I made them laugh. Or I made myself laugh in front of them. Often.

I didn't follow the rest of the world. My mother said this was "following the beat of my own drummer". This translated into a harder world for me but one that felt true.

I was a good mother. Much to everyone's surprise this was true.

I was a decent daughter who could have done better.

I wasn't good at domestic things but I was a adept at finding fun.

I felt most at peace on a beach, specifically Ocean City, NJ. But really any beach will do.

Growing up with a deceased parent affected me. I wanted to live long enough to make sure my kids remembered me. Each year that passes is more time they'll remember. Now I want more. I want to see them grow up and see what they'll choose to do with their lives. That will be exciting.

I realize that most people don't think this way. My funeral has been planned since I was 9 years old. I've often wondered if that was because my mind is warped or because of how I grew up. I was thrilled when my mother showed me the old movie "Meet Me in St. Louis." It starts with a little kid burying her dolls and having funerals for them. I knew I wasn't alone (though I must admit I've never done that.)

So what kind of history will you leave?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

How to make a memorable exit

My mother in law lost her battle with breast cancer yesterday. She left my life much the way she entered it - in a way I will never forget.

The day I met her, I knew I was in for a challenge. She knew I collected carnival glass. Our first conversation started with her asking me "You don't collect that ugly iridescent purple stuff do you?" Why, yes, I do. Sigh. Our relationship was like that for a long time.

Then something happened. I gave her her first grandchildren. My standing improved in her eyes.

We continued in a friendly way for several years, though it was clear we didn't understand each other. Then, again, several important events happened.

Her husband developed Alzheimer's Disease. That was a horrible time. Shortly thereafter she was diagnosed with breast cancer. All of our worlds turned upside down.

We helped her find help for her husband and then concentrated on helping her. After months of hell, the old Ruth started to come back. After a few years our confidence returned. She traveled, gambled, lived the life she wanted to live. Then cancer returned. Our worlds turned upside down again.

The last year and a half has been a blur of hospitals, doctors, tests, and treatments. It's also been a time of friends showing her how much they loved her, helping wherever they could. I learned a lot during that time. I learned how to maintain grace during pain. I learned what it means to be a good friend to someone and how to allow people to be good friends to you. I learned that words are important. Having that time to say everything that needed to be said was a gift.

I also learned how to make an exit that people will remember.

I predicted she would leave at a time when it was quiet and when I, her son and our children were not there. I didn't think she could leave if any of us were present. I was right. The girls and I were at our home. Mike was at the store. Her friend was by her side. She did exactly as she wanted.

Then she got ornery.

The transport people arrived a few hours after Mike called them. Two nice men appeared, one seeming very kind and gentle, the other more formal and proper. They were polite and friendly, though not too much so. They went to their van to fill out paper work and after a while appeared at the front door with chagrined faces. The poor man was embarrassed to tell us for the first time in his life, certainly in his professional career, he had locked his keys in his van. Nothing could happen until a co-worker could come and unlock the door. Fearing our yelling, crying or other form of annoyance, he was relieved when all we could do was laugh. We assured him that this turn of events was not his fault. Ruth said she would need to be dragged out of this house and this was her way of extending her stay. She had a mischievous streak and it was appearing again. Those poor men were relieved. It was a nice jolt of levity at a time we needed it most.

Thank you Ruth. And goodbye. You will be remembered as someone who made us laugh and occasionally made us want to bang our head into a wall. Just as you wanted it.