the greatest love…

If memory serves me correctly, the Bible teaches that…”There is no greater love than that a man lay down his life for another.”

As Father’s Day approaches I can’t help but think of the men who have done just that for their loved ones…lay down their lives…in the process of providing for their families.

Cover of

Cover of Father’s Day

Women get much of the credit for raising our youngsters to be exemplary human beings. We dote upon them endlessly, instilling them with manners, compassion, self-confidence, skills for success. We are there to transport them…to volunteer on their behalf…to play hostess to their friends…to console or to celebrate, depending upon the circumstances.  

Mothering is hard work, for sure. However the rewards we reap are priceless, beginning with…an endless supply of hugs….and “I love you’s.” We don’t have to wait for a special occasion, like Mother’s Day.

My daughter and I begin and end our phone calls with “I love you.” And as though that weren’t enough…we manage to incorporate a few more into our conversation. When I’m searching for something else to say, I fill the void with…”I love you.”

By comparison, fathers often miss the small moments in their children’s lives. They’re on hand for the big occasions…birthdays, graduations, weddings. Fathers are lucky if they make the ball games, the recitals, the swim meets, opening nights. It’s more than likely when their jobs beckon…dads are off and running…whether they like it or not.

As a seasoned travel industry employee my husband hasn’t had the luxury of witnessing the minutiae of our daughter’s life. When she began focusing upon a dance career at age 14, their time together was  further impacted.  

When our daughter was 16, she and I relocated 3,000 miles from home so that she could train with a professional company. My husband remained behind working to support the venture on top of his other responsibilities.

As you can well imagine, parenting took on a whole, new twist. I was pretty much single-parenting a teenage-wannabe- ballerina in a strange environment…with dad a phone call and a plane ride…away.

I can’t say which of us fared better…or worse. The day my husband flew home after helping my daughter and me settle into our new lives…I shed a few tears. My best friend and soul mate was leaving .

We both had to hold up our end of the deal. Mom had to help make the dance dream come true…dad had to pay for it.

Like all fathers who love their children very much, my husband continues to give as completely of himself as he is physically able. Between his job and his duty to family, there is no gap…no doing just for himself.  His love for my daughter and me is…that great.

Since my father died when I was one, I cherish the relationship between my husband and my daughter. She and I agree…her dad’s the best.

every day’s father’s day…in our home…Imported Photos 00345

………hugmamma.

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a fine line…

English: Bo Derek attending the

English: Bo Derek attending the “Night of 100 Stars” for the 82nd Academy Awards viewing party at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA on March 7, 2010 – Photo by Glenn Francis of http://www.PacificProDigital.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Acknowledging female beauty has always been at the forefront of society. There’s a subconscious standard where women are rated on a scale of 1 to 10. Bo Derek was labeled a “10” in a film of the same name, co-starring Dudley Moore…a 4 or 5 by comparison. Yes, even women are guilty of judging whether a guy is a hunk or a dud…pun intended.

Mothers, and fathers for that matter, unwittingly expose their daughters to societal discrimination. It’s an age-old desire that they measure up to the standard set by others…be they relatives, friends, acquaintances or even complete strangers.

We allow ourselves to be bullied into thinking we should look like Angelina Jolie or Beyonce.

English: Phyllis Diller portrait

English: Phyllis Diller portrait (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

God help us if we look like Phyllis Diller, a comedienne of the psychedelic 60s and 70s. I can’t even think of a current media darling who looks as homely. There are none! Those folks don’t make the small screen, big screen or print. Unless, of course, they’re meant to draw attention to what we don’t want to emulate.

Whether we like it or not, we imprint our mindset onto our daughters.

Other adult females  are also guilty of doing harm. A relative once asked her husband if he didn’t think I looked gorgeous swimming around in their pool. Wanting to escape his appreciative stare, I instinctively crossed my arms over my chest and tread water. While the moment quickly passed, it has never faded from my memory.

There’s no escaping the web we have woven for ourselves. It is embedded into the very fiber of our souls, I’m afraid.

My daughter is a ballerina…the quintessential embodiment of female beauty. At least that is what is presented to the paying public. It’s a different story behind the scenes. If you’re an avid fan of “Dancing with the Stars,” you know what I mean. The same is true for the reality shows about models.

It’s important we teach our daughters what’s true and what’s false. There’s no escaping the latter, considering our constant bombardment by the advertising and marketing world. Only a solid, moral foundation can help our youngsters maneuver life’s slippery slope.

Beauty need not be evil…if it shines from the inside out.

…perhaps we should…shift our focus to…our inner beauty…IMG_4505

………hugmamma.

 

 

life lessons…from a ballerina

I’m always amazed by the wisdom of my ballerina daughter. Not that I should be, but she is after all, still a young ‘un at 25. I’ve no doubt that her personality and her chosen career have proven a winning combination.

For a long time I’ve maintained that my daughter is well-suited to her profession as a dancer. She’s selfless, always has been. Envy isn’t something that sits well with her. She battles the green-eyed monster every chance she gets. Granted, it’s not always easy. But my daughter chooses to like, rather than dislike, people. And that goes a long way in keeping her out of the clutches of “Mr. Green.”

Moms always want the best for their children. I’m no different. I’m worlds away from being a stage mom, but that doesn’t make me invulnerable to wanting everything for my daughter. She’s taught me that not every great dance role should belong to her. That’s not to say she wouldn’t love to grace the stage as the lead now and then…Juliet to her Romeo…Cinderella to her Prince Charming…Maria to her Nutcracker…or even the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Miyako Yoshida and Steven McRae as the Sugar P...

Image via Wikipedia

What my daughter has learned is that each dancer has her strengths and weaknesses. My daughter also understands that the artistic director is looking at the broader picture when he casts roles. She gets that he’s the boss and that what he says…goes. She knows she’s free to leave if she desires.

The greatest lesson my daughter seems to have learned is…balance. Keeping the scales of life evenly weighted. No obsessions…about roles…weight…what others think…or say…or do. What keeps her so grounded? Her unbreakable love of people. Her desire to be a good friend…colleague…and member of society.

Religion is still a mainstay of my daughter’s life. She attends church as best she can. Kneeling in God’s presence provides her solace…a reprieve from life’s rat race…time to be thankful…the opportunity to shed any negativity that has attempted to undermine. I’m sure my daughter gets to church more often than my husband and me. That’s quite an accomplishment for someone educated in public schools, while her parents were born, raised, and educated as Catholics.

My beloved daughter is living proof that depression is manageable, that it need not sideline her from living life to its fullest. Perhaps the disease in itself is a lesson. Perfection is an illusion…not to be touted…and not something for which she should strive. Being the best she can be, given the gifts with which she was born and those she’s acquired, is my daughter’s life-long goal.

Having been allowed to travel with my daughter as she’s journeyed toward a career in dance, I too have wised up to life’s lessons. Along the way…

…the teacher became the student…and i’m still learning…from my lead ballerina…

Eadweard Muybridge's phenakistoscope

Image via Wikipedia

………hugmamma.

“hope springs eternal”

My daughter continues to progress well in her recovery from health issues. When I first posted of it last September in “It’s a Good Morning, there’s always hope,” I wrote that “Every new day is a good morning, the opportunity to right what’s wrong.” And as 2011 gets underway, the hope that my daughter continues to flourish grows with each passing day.

Not only did my daughter return to work as a professional ballerina after a 2 month medical leave, to solo in a piece staged by an internationally recognized choreographer, but she also won a second coveted role in another piece. Two couples are the principal dancers in Twyla Tharp’s “Short Stories,” and my daughter is one of the partners. She and the others were selected by Tharp’s representative, after a brief audition of all the company dancers.

If you’ve watched any of TV’s reality dance shows, you’ll understand how intense the competition can be. It doesn’t let up even in the professional world. But once a dancer has proven herself repeatedly in talent and work ethic, she’s rewarded with good roles. Those values, along with patience and hope, are the mainstay of longevity, and self-satisfaction for a job well done, not only in dance, but in life.

it’s true what they say…hope does spring eternal…hugmamma.

when to “cease and desist,”parenting

Sometimes parenting a daughter who is legally an adult at 24, is like “walking on eggshells,” like “walking a tightrope,” like jumping from a plane hoping my parachute will open. Until a few years ago, her life was still within the realm of our control; it still is to some degree, because we continue to offer financial support. But having lived on her own since she was 19, it’s not easy to reel her in at this stage. Not that reeling her in is necessary. But I’m sure all parents agree that there are times we are impatient to substitute our substantial years of experience, for their paltry few. My husband has no problem restraining himself. I, on the other hand, am usually chomping at the bit. This is not surprising, if you’ve been a regular reader of my blog.

Deciding to give an opinion, in the form of advice, is a slippery slope. Fortunately, I have a huge inventory of words at my disposal to wend my way in and out of a tricky conversation. It’s like fencing, or a game of chess. I move; she moves. I act; she reacts; I react, and so on, and so forth. What usually begins as opposing viewpoints, evolves into an understanding of sorts. She sees my perspective as a concerned mom, and I realize her life is hers to live. And that’s the best I can hope for, an understanding that there are 2 sides to every story. But ultimately this is my daughter’s story, not mine. Wouldn’t we all like to write a happily-ever-after for our children?

Living in an apartment together while my daughter trained as a ballerina, gave us 2 1/2  years to bond, and then separate. I knew it was time to leave her, when the time came. Weaning her from total dependence upon my husband and I, was our daughter’s rite-of-passage. And she was ready to take the reins, even though her future, personally and professionally, was far from certain. In the ensuing years, she has weathered her share of challenges, managing the repair work when her bathroom ceiling fell in, minor car accidents, the end of a long relationship, auditioning for a dance job, career politics, and health issues. We were always available, on the other end of the telephone.

Children grow up, despite our hovering. What my daughter and I have always shared, and continue to share, is a two-way conversation. We’ve never turned our backs on communication, because we know we love each other unconditionally. There are tears and raised voices, for sure, but there are calming words and soothing hugs as well.

So I continue to hover, and will probably do so until I draw my last breath. My daughter will always know where I stand. What she does with that knowledge is her decision as an adult. I can’t live her life, I can only cherish it. So while I won’t cease and desist, I will step back, knowing that my daughter is well equipped to determine the course of her life. I’ll be here when her life takes a “detour.” She will probably seek advice, and I’ll be happy to oblige. As Elizabeth Edwards told Wolf Blitzer of CNN in an interview, “There’s no mother who doesn’t want to put her two cents in.”

for staying involved, hugs…hugmamma.