Right now, in this place, I feel nearly perfectly happy. This warm July day, I sit in the welcome shade of a maple tree, shadows of leaves dancing on the ground in front of me, flitting around like so many monochromatic butterflies. A light breeze raises goose bumps on my skin. I lean back and close my eyes, hearing the rustle of leaves in the trees; the chatter of swallows as they dive and dip through the grasses at the creek edge; the burbling of the water as it tumbles over stones and winds its way around fallen branches. A verdant lawn stretches out in front of me where, not long ago, I sat watching an intense match of Bocce ball played out between my son and his grandfather. In the distance, a mountain rises up, dotted with rocks and layered with Ponderosa pines. Here, there is peace and tranquility and quiet, even among all the noises of Nature. This, as my mother-in-law would say, is a magical moment. When life’s frustrations take their toll and I am feeling pulled in too many directions, I will try to remember moments such as these. I will allow them to fill me up, to pull me back together again, and to remind me that I am a part of something bigger than myself and the demands of my every day. I am a part of Nature, she is a part of me, and we need not be so often separated.
I am blessed with more than the usual number of mothers, the usual number being one. I count four. And that is not including the adopted mothers that I claim as my own… the mothers of friends who have given me guidance, support, and love over the years. I won’t go into the details of how I came to have four mothers but let’s just say that my family tree has many branches. Mother’s day around my house is a big deal. Just signing Mother’s Day cards requires an assembly line set-up that would make Henry Ford proud. Unfortunately, most of my mothers are far away. But, on Mother’s Day, I gather up the mothers closest by and we celebrate with food, drinks, presents and walks on a beautiful spring day, being thankful for each other’s company and honoring those who couldn’t be with us for the day. After all, being a mother is an amazing gift and it deserves special recognition.
Since becoming a mother, I make a special effort to take time on this day to think about the many mothers in my life and to reflect upon the ways in which they have helped me to be the woman, and mother, that I am today. I am so grateful for the lessons in courage, confidence, giving, humility, fearlessness, humor, determination, and dignity that they have taught me. We, like all mothers and daughters, have had our ups and downs. But we maintain an infinite capacity for patience, love, understanding, and forgiveness and this has made us grow only stronger over the years.
The other mothers in my life, my girlfriends (and I count my sister in this bunch because she is my best and forever friend) also receive a special place in my thoughts on this day. They are the women I’ve grown up with. In some cases, we have known each other years before ever becoming mothers. We have embarked upon life’s journeys together… love, marriage, careers, and then, children. We have supported each other through bad times and good. Though life has put distance between us, we remain close in each other’s hearts. Though years may separate us, our reunions feel as if were just together yesterday. We have walked the path of motherhood together, feeling the joys and doubts and sorrows and triumphs that this wonderful calling has given us. I could not have survived motherhood without these women and I feel so lucky to have them in my life.
And, finally, my thoughts turn to the men in my life who have allowed me to have this most amazing of jobs. My husband shares this parenting journey with me and he is a wonderful father and husband. And then, there are my sons. Their smiles, the little freckles on their noses, their humor and cleverness, their will and determination…. Well. I am one lucky mom.
Thank you, all of you, for walking this road with me. Happy Mother’s Day to you and to all the wonderful mothers in your lives!
Well, turns out I am not skilled enough to create a separate page for recipes so I will be mixing recipes in with regular blog posts. Maybe some day I’ll get some actual help in managing this blog site. But, for now, you are stuck with me. So, today I thought I’d share with you my world famous (I might be exaggerating a tad bit) guacamole. I happen to think it’s pretty awesome. My kids love it. My husband loves it. It even converted my sister-in-law to a lover of guacamole and she hates avocados. We eat it with chips, I put it on nachos, I even use it to top burgers (along with a little chipotle mayo). My mouth is watering just thinking about it. The problem is, I don’t really have a recipe. It’s a bit of this and a bit of that. But I’ve recently had requests for a recipe so I’ve tried to put some measurements to my concoction. Here goes…
- 4-5 small avocados, ripe
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup packed cilantro, leaves and stems ok, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup finely diced red onion
- 1/2 large lime, juiced
- large pinch Kosher salt (or to taste)
- 10 turns pepper grinder (or to taste)
Combine and enjoy! This recipe serves about 5-6 when used as a dip. Let the fiesta begin!
Nope. That’s not a typo. “Lice” is what I meant to write. For those of you that have dealt with this scourge in your families, you may not see a bright side. But I, ever the optimist, have chosen to see the good that has come from those little buggers.
How fitting that we discovered on April 1st that our family had been afflicted. It is the start of the kids’ Spring Break and we were set to drive to Portland to visit our dear friends for a few days. “April Fools!” You’re not going to Portland for vacation. You get to stay home and do load after load of laundry and scour each other’s heads for vermin. Won’t that be fun?
That’s the crummy part. But here’s the glass-half-full point of view. I always wanted to be a momma monkey. Now’s my chance! Also, my house has never been so clean! There’s nothing like a little infestation to bring out the obsessive compulsive cleaner in me. Furthermore, how often do you get to spend an hour and a half of uninterrupted one-on-one quality time with your child? Searching for nits will allow you this blessing. I think we bonded. And, now my son has received the most thorough going over of the moles on his scalp that he has ever had! My husband and I had some well deserved alone time. As he searched diligently for lice in my hair, I could almost imagine that he was giving me a scalp massage. It was practically a date.
I wish for all of you that you never have to deal with lice. But, if you do, may you enjoy the quality time with family that it brings you. Happy April 1st! Oh, how I wish this was a joke.
Dear Elementary School Administrators,
In my house, February is usually a month full of joy. Both of my sons were born in February, as were several other family members, so there is typically a lot of celebrating going on. But lately, February has become a month that fills me with dread. Anticipation of February is enough to give me the cold sweats. February, in our school district, is Science Fair month.
The process starts out all right. We brainstorm ideas (“No. Which brand of soda shoots the farthest when you drop a Mentos into it really doesn’t have many real world applications.”). We settle upon a question and form a hypothesis. The testing piece isn’t usually even all that bad. But then… then, comes the research, data collection, and interpretation. Don’t even talk to me about creating charts and tables. I have nightmares about the kids typing their segments for the poster board. And, please, put me out of my misery if I have to help cut one more piece of construction paper.
I don’t remember science fair projects being such an ordeal when I was a kid. But then again, I was in middle school and these are elementary school kids we are talking about. The attention span of a nine year old is quite a different thing than that of a 13 or 14 year old. Maybe I’m looking back on it with rose colored glasses. After all, I was the kid in that scenario, not the parent. Now, as a parent, I am convinced that there is a place in one of Dante’s circles of Hell reserved for science fair projects. They were most definitely designed to unravel the fabric of family life. We parents have to hear whining and complaining. We have to endure tears and accusations of “Why do you always make me do stuff I don’t like?” We have to sit by and painstakingly watch our child type up their research and results sections – one hunted and pecked-out letter at a time. Shoot me now!
We’ve all been at science fairs where you see a project, perfectly appointed with professional quality graphs and photos, and say to yourself “That kid’s parents totally did that project for them.” In the past, I would have secretly judged that parent, thinking they were just in it to win accolades and live vicariously through their child. But now, I totally get it. That poor parent was probably just at the end of their rope and, in a fit of anger and frustration, said to little Johnny, “Move over. Just let me do it!”
Dear educators. I implore you. For the love of all that is good, please take pity on us parents. I love science. I majored in Biology. I became a doctor. I want my kids to have an appreciation for science and investigation. But can’t we wait until middle school, when kids are a little more responsible and independent, to require them to do science fair projects? Or at least, let’s call a spade a spade and label the projects honestly.
“Which Brand of Paper Towel is the Most Absorbent?” by Johnny Jones (4th grade) and his mom.
Worn out in Washington
Yep. It’s my birthday. I actually woke up this morning and had forgotten that it was my birthday until my husband reminded me. Maybe I wanted to forget. After all, there’s nothing special about 43. At 41 and 42, I could still imagine that I was fresh out of my 30s. But at 43, I am well entrenched in my 40s, only inches away from 45 which is half way to 50 which is half way to death. My son called me middle aged the other day and I suppose I am. But I always thought of middle age as being in the 50s to 60s. Though, if I do the math, none of us are living into our 120s these days.
I’m not doing anything special today. My family gave me their cards and gifts last night, wonderful homemade cards from my sons – one of which said I was “old” and the other which said that I was “not old”. My oldest just thinks he’s being funny but age will come back to bite him in the butt one day. My youngest is just trying to make me feel better. Today, I am home on my day off, doing the usual errands and activities. Tonight I have a Board meeting to attend. Whoop! Whoop!
Okay, I shall make a list of the good things about being 43. Here goes…
- I am not stupid, like I was in my teens and 20s.
- I am a mom to two amazing boys who bring smiles to my face every day.
- I have a wonderful husband and don’t have to do the whole dating scene thing.
- I’ve learned to not care too much what other people think of me.
- I have the confidence to speak my mind, even if my opinions are unpopular.
- I have grown comfortable with my midsection, having stretched a little to grow those two amazing boys.
- I am devoting more time to my creative side.
- Every new year gives me experiences that help me understand and sympathize better with my patients.
- I have found a new common ground with my parents.
- I am not stupid, like I was in my teens and 20s.
Well, there you go. I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful for good health. I am grateful for amazing friends and family. I am grateful that I get to pursue my passions in life. I am truly a lucky 43 year old. Happy Birthday to me!
Able to nurse one cup of coffee for an entire day.
Able to sleep in uncomfortable positions at any time or place.
Able to work terms like “aortic aneurysm” and “poop” into the same sentence.
Able to help the kids with their “new math” while simultaneously calculating days to next refill for Oxycodone.
Able to cheer on her little soccer player (“Great job, buddy!”) and keep her other kids from losing life and limb (“Get down from there this instant!”) while taking weekend call (“No, not you Mrs. Jones. Yes, you may be having a heart attack. Please call 911 and go to the ER immediately.”)
Able to defer all bodily functions until patients and children are taken care of and then…
Able to find peace and solitude behind any locked bathroom door.
I used to think there was something gone awry with my youngest child. Is it possible to have ADD only at home, I wondered? He seemed to be doing just fine at school. He’s social and gets the occasional reprimand from teachers for talking too much but I never got reports of difficulty staying focused on work or grades that were dropping. Yet, at home, to get him to focus on a task, one single task, was next to impossible. Ask him to get a pair of socks and 10 minutes later he’s still in his room, no socks on feet, listening to music and playing with his toys. Getting him to take a shower is another lesson for me in patience. I’ll check on him after I hear the water running and, is he in the shower? Nope. He’s playing with water in the sink or styling his hair. And once he gets in the shower, you might expect washing to happen. Oh, you silly, silly people. Many a time, I will come upstairs 15 minutes later and there is nary a sud of soap on his body. He’s just been standing there…singing. Holy Lord, give me strength!
Mornings are the worst. Getting ready for school is always a fight. We have tried setting out clothes the night before. We have tried using an egg timer to give him a sense of the time he has remaining. We have tried threatening loss of technology time. We have tried a reward system if he runs on time. Nothin’ doin’. At least he has graduated past the “It doesn’t feel good” stage of dressing… or maybe he’s just trained us not to buy clothes with tags in them. The frustrating thing is, I know he can get ready quickly. The other day, he wanted to gift his teacher some books for the classroom that he had finished reading. He set his alarm (Wait. What? He knows how to work that thing?) for 30 minutes before he normally gets up. He got dressed, brushed teeth, made his bed, AND wrapped a present, all in the space of about 20 minutes. Is he trying to drive me insane?
I seriously was contemplating having him tested for ADD until my husband and I were talking about it one day and he said “There’s nothing wrong with him. He’s just like ____ (I will not name names).” Ah ha! Light bulb! That makes total sense. My husband, my eldest son, and I are all Type A personalities and my youngest is just a Type B. It’s not that he’s purposefully being slow or not listening to me. It’s just his nature. He knows not the constraints of time. Neither order, nor regiment binds him. His is the laid back, carefree life of which I sometimes dream. While I am known to have a mini panic attack if running late, he takes life at a leisurely pace. I have begun to appreciate him for the amazing Type B traits that he possesses. He is creative and curious. He enjoys the journey. He feels fewer social pressures. He is a friend to all. And he is the sweetest of boys who still loves to snuggle with his Mom. To understand this has been freeing for me. It helps me to be less frustrated by his slowness and distractibility. The key word here is “less”. I am not entirely frustration free, mind you. I am still Type A, after all.
Remember when your kids thought that the “F” word was “Fart”, the “Sh” word was “Shoot”, and the “H” word was “Hate?” Now, at 11 and 8, my sons unfortunately know what the real words are. They have heard them enough from TV, their Dad’s mouth, and their friend who’s vocabulary has benefitted from having two older brothers. They know it is a faux pas to use these words and they know that they may get in trouble if we hear them uttered. But it is clear that they, especially my 11 year old, are starting to learn the power of the curse word.
Growing up, I lived in a household where expletives, though used sparingly, were used with confidence. Perhaps it was because I was shy and introverted as a child, but I never really felt comfortable wielding those words. The words felt phony coming out of my mouth. As an adult, however, I recognize the power of an appropriately uttered F-bomb and I have become more comfortable in these expressions. They can diminish the pain from a thumb whacked by a hammer. They can demonstrate the anger that my tear stained face cannot convey (You should know that I tend to cry with any emotion – sad, angry, happy. Reading my face does not always tell you how I am feeling.). The “Sh” word expresses frustration and disappointment, typically in my own actions. For example, “Oh, Sh&#$!” I forgot to pick up the kids!” Just for the record, and so you don’t question my parenting, I have never actually done this. But you can imagine that the “Sh” word would perfectly sum up my feelings in that situation.
So, the other day, when we were on the way home from school and my son was telling me a story about a kid in his class that was really bothering him and he said, “He really pissed me off, Mom!”, I responded in the way that most good parents would… with disappointment and consternation at his use of the expletive. But, deep in side, in a place I would never share with my kids, I was thinking “Way to go, J! You F&#%ing owned that word!”. I was secretly so proud!