One thing I tend to do when I’m feeling low is isolate myself from friends and family. I don’t want people to see me when I’m down and my eyebrows are bushy and my roots are gray because I haven’t been taking care of myself. It’s really the worst thing I can do when I feel this way. And yet, I do it.
So, last night I made a date with a friend to meet for coffee this morning.
I had a great time catching up with her, just being out of the house. (I wish I could say “not wearing my black sweats” but I was totally wearing my black sweats. Baby steps.)
It was exactly what I needed.
When I got home, I was feeling good, better than I’ve felt in days. My daughter greeted me at the door. “Hi Mommy! There’s a surprise for you on the table.”
I walked over to the kitchen table. There was a plate of fruit with a handwritten note.
Today was a good day.
When your kids are little, one thing you can’t help but wonder is what are they going to be when they grow up?
A teacher? A fireman? A veterinarian?
When my first born was little, I would ask him what he wanted to be when he would grow up and he always had a different answer. He never had a passion for a specific career. “He’s little. He’ll figure it out as he lives his life.” I’d tell myself.
When he was a junior in high school, he had to make up credits for failing a class. He enrolled in a criminal justice course. After week two of the class, he decided he wanted to be a police officer. Of course, that made me both proud and also kind of sick to my stomach. Such a courageous choice– to protect and serve– but one that comes with great risks. But, I was happy that my son finally had decided on a path for life after high school.
He had a plan.
And then, one day after graduation he went with a friend to the Marine Corp’s recruiting office.
The next day, he informed me that his plans had changed.
“I want to join the Marines.”
My heart sank. I tried not to panic. I told myself once he researched and talked to people who had been through boot camp, he’d change his mind!
He started going to physical training at the recruiting office every day with his friend.
One thing I’ve learned is that when you tell people that your kid wants to join the military, they tell you that you should be proud! How brave! SUPPORT THAT BRAVE SON OF YOURS! The truth is that was not my first reaction. My first reaction was “No. Not my son. Never my son.”
Over time, it became clear to me that my son wasn’t going to change his mind. In fact, he became more sure with each passing day. We had many conversations about why he wanted this for his life. He articulated “why” in a thoughtful, intelligent manner. After one particularly intense conversation, I decided that I would stop saying “not my son!” and support the hell out of him.
Earlier this month, he went to LA for two days to go to MEPS. He passed his test and the physical. He was sworn in as a Marine Reserves recruit. He’s just waiting for an official ship out date for boot camp. Yesterday, he was told it’s very likely that date will be March 19th. (But possibly as late as August.)
So, how am I feeling about his decision at this very moment?
I’m a mixed bag of emotions. I feel proud– My son is courageous and brave. I feel nervous– My son will be away for 13 weeks at boot camp where he will be challenged physically, mentally and emotionally in ways that I can’t even begin to comprehend. I know he is strong and that he is smart, but I can’t help but worry about what he will go through during those 13 week. I feel sad, I feel excited, I feel unsure, I feel SO MANY THINGS.
The other night I was sitting on the couch with my husband watching TV. During a commercial, my husband turned to me and said “can you believe our son is going to be a Marine?” I could see that he had tears in his eyes. “STOP IT.” I said. “JUST STOP IT.” We both just sort of lost it. We started to cry and talk about how quickly our first little baby grew up and remember how we used to just hold him and look at him and be in awe of him and kiss his fat little cheeks and sing to him and rock him and just LOVE OUR SWEET LITTLE BABY?
That baby is all grown up now and in a few weeks, he will be a changed man. I am looking forward to the day I can say that I am The Proud Mom of a Marine.
When my Grandpa passed away, the family decided it was best that my Grandma sell her house and move in with my parents. When I spoke to her about the possibility of moving in with my mother, she expressed hesitation.
“I don’t want to be a burden to your mother. My mother lived with me for years before she died and I know how hard it was to take care of her. I don’t want to put that burden on your mom.”
That’s how my Grandma was. She never wanted to burden anyone in any way. She just wanted to take care of everyone and make sure everyone else was happy. I can honestly say I never once heard her complain about her life or hardships. And believe me, she had many.
She did end up moving in with my mother and it was the best decision she could have ever made. She had an amazing three years. She started attending my parents church, she made many friends– spent her day visiting people from the church, holding bible studies at my mom’s house and even visiting convalescent homes to minister to the people there.
Everyone loved having my Grandma around.
But no one loved her more than her grandchildren.
Any time Gabby would spend time at my mom’s house, the first thing she would do was run to her Oma’s room. She would lay on the bed while my Grandma knitted. My Grandma would tell her stories– mostly about when I was a little girl. My mom said she wouldn’t leave her room. She loved being around her, listening to her stories, or singing her songs.
The day before my Grandma passed away from cancer,we spent the entire day with her, in her bedroom. She wasn’t awake, but we explained to the kids that she could hear what they were saying. So, they sang songs to her, drew pictures for her, they told her their favorite memories with her. It was heartbreaking, beautiful.
After Oma passed away, I sat Gabby down to tell her the news.
I expected her to burst into tears, but she didn’t.
“I feel so sad, but I don’t feel any tears, mommy.”
I told her that she didn’t have to cry. That Oma knew she loved her and that’s all that mattered. ‘
A couple of days ago, Gabby climbed into bed with me early in the morning. She buried her face into my chest and started to cry.
“What’s wrong, baby girl?”
“I miss Oma so much!”
I held her close to me and cried with her.
The past few days, there is a sadness in her eyes. More than a month has passed and the reality is finally sinking in. She will never see her Oma again. And she misses her deeply.
Last night, she told me that she was going to write a letter to Oma, just like she did for Opa. She asked me how to spell Oma’s last name because she wanted to be sure that God knew which Wilma the letter was for when he gave it to her in heaven.
She asked if we could send the letter to heaven with balloons. I told her we absolutely could and would.
After school this afternoon, we stopped by a local party supply store and I let her pick out five balloons. She carefully chose each balloon.
“I want a black and white polka dot one because it looks like a shirt she used to wear to church. I want some with hearts because hearts stand for love and I loved her…”
When we returned home, we got the letter and headed outside.
We took a walk to the horse trails.
She found the spot where she wanted to let the balloons go.
Before she let go, she said a few heartfelt words to Oma. Then, she looked up to the sky and just let go.
I knelt down to hug her as we watched the balloons float away. She held onto me as we watched. As we walked away, we both kept our eyes glued to the sky. I held her hand and we walked slowly back home.
I told her that what she had done for her Oma truly touched my heart.
She looked at me and said these exact words.
“Mom, I just had to let go. I had to do it for my own freedom. Now, I feel entire joy!”
When we arrived home, she sat down in the driveway and watched until she couldn’t see the balloons anymore.
Do you know who James Maslow is? If you do not, I envy you.
I know who James Maslow is because I have a seven year old daughter who is in love with him and his stupid boy band. Every day, I have to listen to his songs pumping out of her pink princess boom box. And every day I’m all “turn that down and shut your door!”
The other night while I was cooking dinner she asked if she could go on Nick.com I was all “sure you can! Just make sure to keep the volume down!” Because I know that Nick.com= Big Time Rush music blasting through the computer speakers.
A few minutes later, my oldest son shouted out “Mom! You need to come see what G is watching on YouTube!” Now, keep in mind, the computer is in an open area, right next to the kitchen. If I look to the right while I’m cooking, I can see the monitor. (I have it there for that reason.) However, in my haste to make The Perfect Rarebit Smash Burgers and Pub Potatoes, I hadn’t noticed that she had wandered away from Nick.com and onto YouTube.
I ran over to the computer. At the same time, G ran into her bedroom, screaming and slamming the door behind her. I bent over and looked at the monitor. There was a video titled “James Maslow, Shirtless, Hot and Sexy.”
BLINK BLINK BLINK BLINK went my eyes.
How did my sweet, precious, innocent, little seven year old daughter end up finding such a video? Oh, by typing this into the YouTube search box, obviously.
After I stopped laughing while hiding in my closet, we had a Very Serious conversation about the internet. She apologized for searching YouTube without supervision and promised to never do it again. But she remained unapologetic for wanting to see James Maslow’s Sexy Musuls.
I’m more convinced than ever that the Teenage Years With G are going to be the most stressful, amazing years of my life.
I’ve always worried that when my children are older, they’ll look back at old photos and wonder “where was Mom?”
I am the one behind the camera, making sure that our lives are documented in photographs. It’s what I love to do. But when I look through old photos, it makes me a little bit sad that the moments I’ve spent with my children at Holiday dinners, or Christmas mornings or at school functions were never captured for me to look at.
Every once in a while, though, someone will pick up the camera when I’m not looking and turn it on me.
I stopped by G’s school on my lunch break to cheer her on during the school jog-a-thon. I brought her big brother along with me. I knew she’d be so happy to have us both there, supporting her. She did so great! She ran so hard, never complaining or stopping to rest. When she was finished, I ran to meet her. I wrapped my arms tightly around her. “I’m so proud of you!” I said. “You did such a great job!”
My son had taken the camera and captured the exact moment this happened. I’m so grateful that he did.
A lot has happened since the last time I posted.
Ethan joined a competitive basketball team and played in his first ever basketball tournament in Vegas. It was a thrilling experience for him and a heartbreaking one for me. I watched him sit on the bench, minute after minute while his coach walked passed him over and over again. He would look up, with hope in his eyes as his coach would turn his way. I imagine he was thinking “put me in, coach. I’ll knock a three down and tie the game like I always do!” But the coach would just walk past him and put the same player in he had just taken out. I wanted to punch that coach in the face. I wanted to grab my son off of the bench and scream “YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE HERE, COACH!” and storm off with my son. Instead, I got up, stood in the corner of the room where no one could see me and I cried. I cried so hard because I know how much my son loves the game. I know how excited he was about the tournament. I know how badly he wanted to help his team out. One thing I’ve learned is that life isn’t easy, sometimes you have to fight hard for what you want, so I let my son sit there, as painful as it was for me to watch. The next game, the coach finally took my son off the bench and gave him a chance to play. In the very short time he was given to play (less than two minutes) he scored four points. I couldn’t have been more proud.
My Grandmother was taken to the emergency room because she was experiencing pain in her abdomen and hadn’t been feeling well for days. While she was there, they discovered a tumor in her colon and spots on her liver. The doctors were able to remove the tumor. The next day, we were told it was malignant. A few days later we were told she had stage 4 liver cancer. Last week, she was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. She’s refused chemo and says she’s at peace with whatever happens next. I hope I can feel that way soon about the fact that I’m going to lose the strongest, most wise, loving, hard working, loyal women in my life to cancer.
My daughter turned seven years old. She had been counting down the days since May. “Mommy? How many more days until August third?” She’d ask, every single day. Sometimes, I’d get annoyed. “I just told you yesterday how many days!” “I’m sorry mommy.” She’d respond. “I’m just SO EXCITED to be seven!” She couldn’t fall asleep the night before her birthday. She tossed. She turned. She giggled. It was well past midnight by the time she finally fell asleep. I greeted her that morning with a kiss on her cheek. “Happy Birthday, sweet girl.” I whispered in her ear. She opened her eyes and smiled the most joyful smile. “Oh Mommy.” She said. “I feel different. I feel seven.”
Seven. It’s hard for me to come to terms with seven. Maybe it’s because I know how quickly seven turns to eight to nine, nine to ten. Then, one day you wake up and they’re eighteen, graduating from high school and never home because their are more important things to do than sit on the couch and talk to mom or go for a walk with mom or play a game of Trouble with mom. I don’t want to get caught up in the sadness of how quickly she’s growing because the truth is, I’m enjoying my daughter now more than I ever have. She’s blossoming into the most precious young lady, so full of love and life and humor. She reminds me each day how blessed I am in life.
Not as important, but something worth mentioning… I ran 2.5 miles in boot camp. Four weeks down, two weeks to go. I haven’t lost much weight, but I have gained confidence, strength and a desire to keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I guess you can say boot camp has been a success and everything I hoped it would be.
This morning my daughter came running into the room while wiggling her front tooth.
“I think it’s ready to come out, Mommy!”
This was both awesome news and dreadful news because pulling out a tooth= drama. There is excitement, fear, nervousness. There is laughter, crying, screaming followed by more laughter, crying, screaming.
It started out like this: “Pull it out! I’m ready!” and quickly turned into “STOP IT! WHY DID YOU PULL SO HARD!”
This “okay, pull it!” “STOP PULLING IT!” game went on for a better part of the morning. I’d beg her to let me try just one more time. She’d give in, but the second I’d start tugging, she’d be all “Stop! It hurts! I’m never letting you touch it again!”
The thing is, I’m not the kind of mom who can be all “It’s okay, sweetie, we’ll try again when you’re ready.” I’m hardcore (or is it, “I’m half Mexican?”) I’m like “let me pull that tooth out so we can move on with our lives, kid.”
Gabby wasn’t having it, so she spent a very long time in her room, trying to pull it out herself. Which was kind of cute, but mostly frustrating because I just wanted to pull that effing tooth out of her precious little face? Head? Mouth?
An hour or so later, she came back into the room, ready to negotiate.
“I will let you try to pull it out, if you promise to stop when I make THIS noise.” And then she made this very loud noise.
I was all “Okay!”
(Notice, I didn’t say “I promise?”)
The second that I began to pull the tooth, she made THAT noise. I didn’t stop because I knew that tooth was less than 3 seconds from coming out. She started to scream, not realizing the tooth had already come out and was in my hand.
She started doing that super crazy laugh that kids do after a tooth has been pulled out of there mouth and ran to the mirror to admire her new smile.
After she was done celebrating, I asked if I could wiggle her other tooth to see if it was ready.
She put her hand up, Stop in the Name of Love Style and said “Don’t even THINK about it.”
I agreed to leave that tooth alone for now. But that tooth is on notice.
As I began making my bed, my son Ethan walked into the room.
“Need some help, Mom?” He asked.
“Sure.” I responded.
He walked over to the other side of my bed and began to help me make the bed.
(Confession: I’ve had the same blanket on my bed for twenty years. I’ve purchased other blankets, but this particular blanket is amazing. My husband bought it in Tijuana just before we got married. It is ugly– it’s brown and has an image of a giant tiger on it (I KNOW, I KNOW. )–but it is soft, it’s warm, it’s basically the best blanket ever made.)
“I love this blanket, Mom!” Ethan said, as we straightened it out.
I then went on to tell the story about how old it is and how much I love it and how I’ve tried to part with it many times, but can’t seem to let it go.
“I plan on getting a new comforter soon and when I do, I will let you have it. Do you want it?”
“Yes!” He said, all excitedly.
Then he paused, his facial expression went from Pure Joy to Kind of Disgusted.
“Oh, maybe not. This is the blanket you and Dad have made love on for twenty years.”
“ETHAN MICHAEL!” I proclaimed, while not making eye contact.
“It’s true, Mom!” He said, as he laughed at my discomfort with the words he was saying.
In my mind, I was all “flip it around on him! Make HIM uncomfortable! Say something like ‘damn right! lots of Jesus Approved Sex has happened all up on that blanket!” But I just couldn’t do it.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about! You guys were all adopted!”
He laughed, rolled his eyes and walked out of the room to tell his brother about our conversation.
Talking about sex in general with my kids? Easy.
Admitting, discussing that I have sex with their dad? Not so much.
“I wish you guys were just regular people and not parents because all parents do is boss kids around.”
-My daughter, 2011