“What do you DO all day?”

LaundryI was at dinner with a friend.  She is a very successful executive, lives in an affluent area, doesn’t have kids and is really fun to be around.  We were having a glass of wine when all of a sudden she said “you are such an outgoing and talented woman, what do you do all day?  I mean I know you stay home for the kids, but what is next for you, what’s next, what makes you feel fulfilled?”

I chose to down the rest of my glass as thoughts raced around my head, trying desperately to formulate a very intelligent answer.  I didn’t succeed.  My very deep ability to reflect and formulate a well thought out response simply abandoned me.  We all have reasons for doing what we do.  When I was a single mom I had to work for financial reasons.  I now have a choice that many women do not have and I currently stay at home.  Some mothers work and juggle their careers and their kids and after school activities. Some mothers work out of their home.   We all have one thing in common.  Sacrifice.

This did not come out in my brilliant answer.  Sorry ladies, I put us all back a couple of decades!

“Laundry.  I do laundry.   I do loads and loads every week.  I put clean clothes in small baskets for the kids to put away and they stay in those baskets until they make it back to the dirty pile.  That’s what I do.  I’m a hamster in a wheel.”

I truly have the chance to redeem myself.  I’ve gone through some emotions thinking about this answer and I’m happy to say that I now understand myself better and the choices ALL moms make, whether they work or stay-at-home.

“I am a mother.  I have made a conscious decision to sacrifice myself for the good of mankind.  I don’t always use my interpersonal skills to sell a company’s product or service.  Sometimes I use those skills to put more good into the world.  Through my children, these three boys, I have the chance to give back..   It’s a ripple effect.  The kindness, the guidance, the character that I instill in them will be magnified and ripple into future generations.  So although sometimes it is difficult and my days can be full of mundane tasks, deep down I know that there is nothing more important than the sacrifice that I am making for future generations.  What do I do all day?  I live a life of love and sacrifice.  I am a mother.”

My dear friend is correct though.  Although I am a mother for life there is an aspect of “what’s next.”  My children are getting older and are more independent.  Am I ready to retire?  Should I commit more time to the blog?  Write a book?  Go back to work?  What is next?  I don’t know, I really don’t, but I will make an effort to enjoy the journey.

I would love to hear your thoughts on motherhood, staying-at-home, working, just all of it.  What makes you happy?  What fulfills you?  What’s next?  If you’re not a mom I would love to hear about that also!  This is YOUR life.  These are your choices!

 

Celebrating Life and the Night I Spent with a Star

imageIt is 4:00 am in the morning. I am wide awake. My husband and I traveled to California to celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday. We have an early flight back to our three children, two dogs and suburban house in Virginia in two hours. At this very moment, I am sitting on a small comfy couch in a cottage that used to be the home of a man named Charlie, the former caretaker of Mission Ranch. Walking into his cottage was surreal, as if I had stepped back in time, and I can’t help but think that he would smile at the excitement I felt at just being in his former home. It felt personal.   Being here made me feel like I am now woven into the fabric of the ranch’s history. These past two days have caused me to reflect on how experiences truly make life worth living.

My heart has been affected by my stay here.

The party was a surprise. Her husband picked us up from the airport and took us to the ranch. The land reminded me of Sweden in that it was untouched, frozen in time, and for me, a place where my soul could breathe. Sheep grazed in the valley, flowers and ivy brightened the various shutters and windows. A gentle fog covered the green hills. This was no ordinary place. I will never forget my brief stay.

We came in on a Tuesday and we are leaving on a Thursday. In this short time we have been to Pebble Beach, drove the coast of Carmel, had a luxurious dinner at Casanova, hiked amongst Redwoods and spent the night with a star. That star was not the owner of Mission Ranch although I and others were affected by his attendance, that star was our dear friend Lena. Continue reading

Through the haze; the curse of having a piss-poor memory.

bad-memoryI’ll forget that I wrote this in a couple of months.  A great idea about a blog post will strike and I will have to search my blog to see if I have ever written about my memory or lack thereof.   True story.   Been there done that.   I suffer from what is not clinically known as a piss poor memory. I go through life in a haze. My childhood friends ask me most ridiculous questions. Don’t you remember so and so? Don’t you remember my mom’s foyer table? What did you eat yesterday?   And I look at them with a dumb look on my face.

My memory has always been horrible. Continue reading

Jump for joy!

jumpforjoyI have just finished watching my son play in the backyard.  He has been jumping on the trampoline for the last twenty minutes.  I picked him up from his after-school activity, parked in our garage and he threw down his backpack and ran back outside.  “I need to get my energy out mom!” he said.  He jumped up and down with obvious joy.  The leaves from previous years gently blew around on the ground and the smell of spring was in the air.

I couldn’t stop smiling.

He would then suddenly stop and sit and gaze into the woods.  I wondered what deep thoughts he harbored when suddenly he would bounce back up in such an abrupt manner, that even Tigger would have been surprised.   Bounce!  Bounce! Bounce!  The joy he felt was infectious.  My heart started to burst wide open, because after all, isn’t it the most simple things in life that truly bring happiness?  For a brief moment I thought that perhaps I would sneak out there one night and bounce around.  I still may try that; alone and in the dark during a time when no one would see!  Perhaps I will need to wear Depends.  You ladies know what I mean.  Childbirth doesn’t make it easy to bounce.  I’ll also need a sports bra.  OK got it.  I will be prepared and I will bounce. Continue reading

Put on the purple hat with authenticity and confidence.

Purpleauthenticity

Live an authentic life and don’t worry about what others think!

Years ago I remember laughing over Erma Bombeck’s essay with my friend Birgitta.  We both loved the message about living life in an authentic manner and putting on “The Purple Hat.”   If you are not familiar with this essay I have included it at the bottom of this post.  The message means even more to me today because I’ve realized that since becoming a mother I’ve been guilty of allowing a bit of my light to dim.  Motherhood, sweatpants, conformity, criticism from peers and getting boxed in by the mommy crowd has put many of us all into the same clothes with the same purses and the same haircuts.  How ridiculous is that?  And it goes beyond clothes into how we are all living our lives.  How many of you have done the same?   We are hiding, blending and conforming.

I’m kind of tired of it. Continue reading

Mommy medical degrees. Moms! You rock!

Sick kid humorMy eldest son is twenty years old.  When he was younger he had sensory issues.  He hated to color and would complain that his hands hurt.  He couldn’t stand to wear jeans because they were too scratchy.  Strong smells caused him to get sick whether we were in a restaurant, at a school event or in church. This doesn’t even include the normal childhood illnesses.   I’ve seen more than my share of vomit, stitches and broken bones.

When I got remarried I thought it would be a great idea to have two more kids.  There’s an age gap of eleven years between my eldest and my youngest child.  Do you know what that really means?  It means that I have had twenty years of uninterrupted and constant childhood sickness in my home and I have another ten years ahead of me!   My house is a wreck.  To top it all off, I have three BOYS so we have had several cases of man flu when they are not truly sick.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve earned my medical degree. Continue reading

Love is patient and love is tough.

lovepatientWhen I was young my mom bought a book entitled Tough Love.  She was looking for guidance on how to love and help a family  member that was struggling.  The premise of the book, from what I remember, was that love is not always easy but may require some very tough stances and positions in order to help and support a loved one.  What my mom didn’t realize at the time was that she and my father were already employing many of these methods with their own children on a daily basis.  I can tell you firsthand that my parents were experts at setting boundaries and following through with them.

It was a beautiful sunny day when a dog darted out in front of the car.  I was in college, on the way to class at the University of Maryland.  The man in the brand new Lincoln town car slammed on his brakes to avoid plowing into the dog and I, in turn, slammed into him.  We both pulled over to the side of the road and he proceeded to walk house-to-house  to find a phone.  To my surprise he called the ambulance and the fire department.  He asked if my parents paid my insurance and proceeded to complain about neck pain.  The police officer that came to the scene asked me to write down what had happened and also noted that the gentleman was quite limber until the ambulances arrived.  I got a ticket and the officer told me to challenge the ticket in court.  It was clear that he did not plan to show up to my court appearance. Continue reading

There is strength in forgiveness.

strengthinapologyTrue inner strength and courage lies in one’s ability to apologize and to forgive.  This truth is a scary one because it may require an open, beautiful, and exposed heart.  A conflict with another human being, regardless of who it is, is truly never one-sided.  Understanding the complexity of our interactions and emotions can be difficult but can also be enlightening and rewarding.

I knew I would make many mistakes when I became a mother.  That’s why I decided that I would apologize to my own children when I messed up.  When I speak to my children, especially after making some stupid mistake, I remind them that in many ways I am still this little ten-year old girl who somehow became a mom and is trying to figure it all out.  Isn’t that really the truth though?  Sure we acquire more wisdom as we age, but I for one still have the heart of a child.  I don’t think I will ever truly stop learning how to do this motherhood thing, how to do this life thing, how to do this living thing.

I screw up.  I apologize.  Even to my own children.

It is such a powerful act of love.  Honesty is a key ingredient.  Honesty with yourself and honesty with others. Continue reading

Shining a light on fatherhood.

shutterstock_257089360When raising my boy as a single mom, I naively believed I could be both a mother and a father.  Single handedly I planned to work hard and overcompensate so that my son didn’t see any difference when he compared his life with other kids’ lives.  I would love him, support him, cherish him, provide for him and rock my responsibilities.  I had no idea how important a father would be to his development and emotional well-being.

I had no idea.

Today I understand the importance of having a positive male role model in my son’s life.  Both he and I were lucky to have incorporated a variety of influences into his journey towards adulthood.  The impact on his social and emotional development has been beneficial.  Sometimes, as a mom I can be too nurturing which can, in turn, interfere or tip the scale negatively when it comes to my children’s self-esteem.   When mom does everything for her child it also prevents the child from learning independence.  A father’s approach provides the balance to that scale.  Of course, the opposite can also be true.  I think that sometimes men don’t truly understand how much their actions can impact their own child. Continue reading

Turn and face the strange! Ch Ch Changes!

There were certain moments in my life that catapulted my growth as a person.  These moments represented a major change in the status quo, change that required transformation and growth in very challenging and emotional ways.  Today I look at this at the word “change” as symbiotic to the words “living” and “success.”

In fact, having the courage to “Turn and face the strange,” as David Bowie so eloquently put it in his song Changes means that we should not avoid the strange or unknown, but instead we should turn and face it.  Do you know why? Because….

“Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older.” (David Bowie)

It is as simple as that!  The elderly will tell you that their biggest regrets are not comprised of what they have done, they are comprised of what they have NOT done. Continue reading