about Blogs book exercise mamalougues contact Image Map

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Living in the Sub-Points

Last weekend I sat at the dining room table with my dad looking at old photographs.

We spend 4-6 weekends with them every Fall.  Yes, we live in the same town.  We also live in a town with a beloved college football team where people will pay big money for homes to rent. Enough money to get us cleaning and organizing and moving our entire family out of our house for 3 days.

So, that is why we move in with my parents for those weekends.  All six of us. It's all for the money. Oh, and the quality time with family...

My parents live in the same house that I grew up in.  My husband and I sleep in the same bed that I have had since 6th grade, and I can assure you, it should not have two adult people in it, especially one who sleeps like a starfish.

 But my parents are more than happy to have us around, and the boys love the extra attention (and junk food) that my mom happily provides because despite what I say, she is going to do it anyway, and I'm not going to argue with her.

As I was looking through the hundreds of photo albums my mom has taken great care to create, I came across one that I hadn't seen. It had pictures of my brother, sister and me in our 1980's glory, most of the photos I have absolutely no memory of them being taken. My mullet and I look like we're having fun though.  Tucked in the back page was a few small black and white photos, that fell out.

One was a picture of my dad around the age of seven with his dog Pete in a boat.  Although my dad has been through hell this past year, when he looked at this picture he was transported to that very place.  He knew exactly where it was taken and for a moment, I witnessed him mentally transport himself to a young boy, just like that.

My grandfather was a successful lawyer who practiced law even into his 90's but that isn't what my dad thinks about when he reflects on his childhood. He thinks about a boat, a dog, and an afternoon floating around Silver lake with his Dad.

For so long, I defined my success by my title, or what I was going to "be" when I grew up.   I wanted so badly to be an actress. I love acting, yes, but what I discovered is that I loved the idea of fame more. Because in my mind, this would mean I was successful. Luckily I figured out early on how wrong I was.

My job is in publicity; my role is daughter, sister, friend, aunt, wife, mother.  But those are just roman numerals on my outline.What is filling the sub-points, and even the subsidiary ideas under the sub-points are what make me interesting.  Yes, I'm a daughter, but do you know the story about how my dad and I took dance lessons so we would get our father/daughter dance right at my wedding, and we still tripped over our feet? Or how my mom and I get coffee together and sit in the car and talk about nothing?  Or how about how they both know that I still sleep with a pillow that was given to me by my grandmother when I was a baby?

I'm a wife, yes, but what about the time when Don and I cried on the kitchen floor with our first newborn son because we were exhausted and had no idea what we were doing.

Or the first time we lost one or sometimes two of our children in a corn maze.

Or when Don attached a wagon to our dog and the dog chased a squirrel while two of our sons went along for the ride and all of us were screaming.

Or the time when Finegan was two and  fell asleep face first in a plate full of rice and beans at La Esperanza. Even the owner remembers that.   It's the subtext of my life that measures success. And none of those instances would be considered good parenting, or even mediocre parenting for that matter.

On Sunday, we went to church with my parents and the sermon was about our legacy.  What are people going to remember about us when we are gone? Maybe someone will define me as a publicist, actress or writer, but what I hope more than anything is that it is more than that.  I hope my boys, family and friends get that look when they think of me. The look that my dad had when he saw the picture of himself on a boat with his dog.

I want to be a funny memory or a story, that lives deep within the hearts of the people I love the most.

For the people who I have loved who are gone now, I don't care about what they did for a living, I don't even remember. What I remember is how they made me feel when I was with them, and the blast we had making the most of our sub-points.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

My Baby Has a Crush

Last Friday morning I was going about my normal morning routine.  I set the breakfast table, and next to each of the boy's juice glass, I leave a vitamin gummy.    It's super cheesy, I know, but my mom did it for me, and I have continued this instinctively without even realizing it. 
Four little gummies. I even pick out each of the boy's favorite colors. 

I once told my therapist that I like having all my birds in the nest. It not only makes me feel happy and hen-like, but it gives me a sense of control. Something  I need a lot of.  Hence the reason for the therapist.

I went about my day, happily knowing that I even packed a healthy lunch for them in their color coded reusable lunch containers.  (Again, control issues, I know).  

My oldest son is now 13 and to my knowledge, up until 4 p.m. that evening, he liked football, dogs, video games, friends,  fighting with his brothers and eating copious amounts of food at one time.  But at 4:01 p.m. my world came to a halt. 

He had asked to go to a high school football game with his friends.  Although this made me feel uneasy and out of control, I agreed to it, because that is what I need to do according to my therapist. If it were up to me, I would lock them all in the house for popcorn and movie night, even if it was against their will.  But I'm trying to make progress, so I agreed.

But when I asked him why his sudden interest in high school football came about, he said he wanted to see a girl.  I could hear screeching tires in my brain.  Wait, what?  A girl? Who is this "girl" ( heavy on the air quotes) and why is my son being so honest with me? Couldn't he have said, he wanted to check the school out, or he likes football? Here he was, being all honest.   As cool as I tried to be, I'm sure my face had all of the above written all over it.

I immediately texted Don asking if he knew about this "girl" who our son was wanting to meet at the game.  His response was just " yes".  It turns out everybody knew but me.  Maybe I was too busy treating him as a six-year-old to notice.

So I dropped 3 of his friends and him off at the game.  I watched as the moved their little herd into the front gates.  I waiting in the car to make sure they were safe, and I truth be told, took a few pictures.  My oldest bird had flown the proverbial nest.  I didn't cry or anything. I just looked in the review mirror at myself and thought, how is this even possible?

I called my mom.  Naturally, she wanted to know who the girl was, I said I didn't know, anything other than her name. And that they met through a friend on Instagram.  INSTAGRAM! Is that the 8th grade equivalent of Tinder? Or for the older folks, Match?  

My husband had taken the other boys camping so my mom suggested I go to Target to avoid the empty nest. I was already on my way.

I reminisced that the first time I stepped foot in this Super Target was 13 years prior when my son, who is now a walking hormone was in his little carrier. We would wander the aisles and pick up essentials like, diapers, wine and coffee.

I ended up meeting a few friends out later that night for some drinks and of course talked about this.  To make matters even worse, they told me rumors of what some junior high girls were up to these days.  None of their daughters (of course), but they had intercepted some photos of young girls that were a bit provocative.  I ordered another martini, and we talked about it.  If there is one thing I do when something is on my mind, is I talk about it, ad naseum, until I feel better.   This has been known to drive my husband crazy because we have still not finished a conversation about something that began 14 years ago.

The next day, I felt a little bit more clear-headed and asked my son how it went, meeting the "girl".   Based on the advice from a male friend of mine, he said that I needed to be interested but not weird, just normal and "cool". So I said, " so you like her?" He said, "yeah."   Do you mean, like a girlfriend? "yeah", he said.  My mouth dropped open.  He stood there looking at me. I'm so damn proud of this kid for being honest, but at the same time, I'm feeling reality which had hit me in the face, that he is not a little kid anymore.

I said, "that's cool." and he walked away.

I'm not going to say, I stalked his Instagram account, figuring out her last name and then stalked her mother's Facebook page or anything, but I did come to the realization, that she may be a really down to Earth girl. Who likes, football, dogs and pizza.  And her mom may have pictures of her on her first day of school just like I have. 

He is in Jr. High after all, and it is no secret that when I was his age, I wasn't boy crazy, I was boy certifiably insane.  And that didn't stop until, well, I'm not sure it ever did.  This isn't marriage; it's the first crush.

It was still a perfect opportunity to do a refresher course on the birds and the bees, as well as the talk about boundaries.  To which his response was, "You know I'm in 8th grade, right?"

He meant that he is still young, and what I heard is that he is growing up too damn fast.

Eighth grade.  We are on the threshold of high school and in less than a year, he will be crossing it. 

It reminds me of a time in college when I was in love.  This was before I was attached to a smart phone.  I took my watch off. Covered the clocks in my apartment and put tape over the digital clock in my jeep.   I had a day without time.  I wanted to spend it with this person because I didn't know how long it was going to last, and I didn't want it to end.  It was our day without time, and I never forgot it.  We were suspending the belief that time stood still for us. Love is something that you want to last forever.

I'm not saying that that wasn't love because, for that one day, it certainly felt like it.  But I had no idea what guttural, rip your heart out love was until I felt my son kick me from the inside for the first time.
My love for him has only grown, and the realization that he now is experiencing something that makes him feel, even a tiny minutia of the love I have for him, is a gift,.

I will release any control I mistakenly perceive that I have.

And let him experience it on his own.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Opening my vault

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day. Just to let you know, wine was not a factor in this discussion. That is an important detail that you will understand in a minute.  The next thing I know I am sharing something that I don't share with a lot of people and as the words are coming out of my mouth I'm watching them in slow motion wondering if I could cough, or fake faint to blame my recent admission on a freak seizure.

But it was too late. I shared personal details about my life, and there was no going back.  It wasn't a huge secret or anything, but it wasn't as trivial as the fact that I don't like tomatoes.   My friend didn't even really react.  Our conversation just kept going on, and the sharing continued.

The thing is, I couldn't get it out of my head.  Why did I tell her that?  I understand that when you are having a deep conversation with someone, you usually share intimate stories to become closer. That is what friends do.  But usually wine is involved, and I can turn around the next day and hope that either a.) nobody will remember the conversation or b.) I can blame it on the wine.

But I couldn't do either of these things.

A college roommate that I will refer to as Medusa  once told me that I have built walls around myself and I don't let anyone in.  Which was true in my relationship with her, because she was scary.. hence the nickname Medusa.  But if I learned anything from her other than the fact that she didn't like the "pattern" I vacuumed our rug, it's that she was right.

I will listen to you tell me about your problems, your sex life, your lack of sex life, your digestion issues or your childhood phobias, but I very rarely share back.  In addition to my brick walls I build, I also have an incredible vault that I keep all those secrets in.  That is why people tell me so much I guess.

But here I was, an hour after my conversation with a friend and trying to come up with a way to text her to tell her to delete her memory of everything I shared with her.

As much as I don't want to admit it, I am not okay with vulnerability.  All the personal details of my life I hold inside to protect me from who knows what?  Maybe this feeling I was having right then. Like someone had left the door open to my soul and now all of the cold air was being let in.

I like having control of what I share and when I share it.  And I felt angry with myself that I told someone something that I hadn't prepared to tell them. It must have been her fault; she must have drugged my coffee or something.

My plan B was never to talk to her again.

What is so scary about opening yourself up?

So naturally when I can't figure something out, I take out a pen and start to write.  Write until I come to some kind of conclusion.

This is what I figured out.

I like control. I worry that people won't like me if they find out something that they don't agree with. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. I don't want to appear weak. I don't want to expose my insecurities; I don't want them having knowledge about me that could be hurtful if we get into an argument in the future. I don't want to lose a friendship.

And there were many many more on that list, but what I began to realize when I was looking it over was that it was all very negative. Every single thing was what I didn't want.  I counted, and I wrote DON'T over a dozen times.

I got a text from my friend the next morning thanking me for listening and that she felt so much better after talking with me. And that it was nice to know she wasn't alone. Followed by several emojis.  And I have to admit; it made me feel better and kind of warm, and not as freaked out. She didn't think any less of me, and I knew I could trust her.

I'm not going to go out with my guns blazing sharing all of my deepest secrets, but I have to admit, that door that I had left open to my soul may have needed a little fresh air.