nurturing thursdays: did you talk to your child today?

My daughter and I spoke at some length this evening, after she got home from teaching dance classes and rehearsing students for an upcoming competition. We’re indeed blest to share such closeness all these years, talking on the phone for hours…like best girlfriends.

It wasn’t always that way.

Until she was 16 when I accompanied her to Georgia to train with Atlanta Ballet, I was mom. I set the rules and she followed them. It wasn’t like I had to punish her, it’s just that she knew the boundaries within which to operate to keep everything on an even keel. Because my husband’s job kept him on the road and at the office from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., I functioned like a single parent. Even more so when my daughter and I lived in Atlanta while he remained  in Washington, working to pay the bills.

The boundaries were stretched when she dated her first boyfriend. Their relationship lasted 3 years or so, during which time there were the usual highs and lows accompanying first love. Hers. He’d already been in and out of several relationships. On my own to figure things out, I did my best. There were conflicts for sure, but my daughter knew I always had her back. Early on I tried to send the guy packing because I thought he was pretty selfish. I relented when she ran after him. Eventually he drew me in with his charm. I was still under his spell when my daughter finally broke up with him. Thank goodness she did. He really was a selfish opportunist.

My daughter fared no better with the next few romances. She kept dating losers. Eventually these failed relationships coupled with a profession that requires so much emotional and physical stamina, caused her to spiral downwards into depression. She eventually reached out to us. Thankfully! Bursting into tears on the phone, she immediately agreed to come home so we could help her. 

I flew east to help her pack and see to last minute arrangements. The ballet company kindly offered to hold her job until she returned. For 2 months, our daughter was under psychiatric care. It was determined that a concussion she’d had as a child probably altered her brain chemistry. Unbeknownst to us at the time, the accident skewed her perception of reality. Dance probably helped divert her attention from negative thoughts. There’s just so much choreography to memorize.

Only when she encountered the usual mind games that come with a job and a boyfriend, did our daughter start to overthink everything. On the cusp of adulthood, she tried to tackle her problems on her own. Dance friends her age were little help, since they were burdened with their own problems. Years passed; things worsened. A psychologist she engaged only made our daughter’s task more daunting. She could not figure out how to put her life back together again after those raw, gut-wrenching, one-on-one sessions. Her safety net, my husband and I, lived 2,000 miles away.

With the help of a few close friends to whom she finally opened up, our daughter started to find her way out of the black hole that engulfed her. Thank God for them. Thank God she reached out for help. Thank God my husband didn’t think twice about bringing her home so we could help her heal. Six years later, she’s excited to be marrying a young man who cherishes her for who she is. Her happiness is priceless.

Today my daughter told me of a 12-year-old dancer in one of her classes who lost her brother this week…to suicide. He text his friends, thanking them for trying to help. He told them they did all they could, and asked that they help his parents. Rumor has it that he had been distraught over a failed relationship. Although it’s not certain.

My daughter cried on and off the day she heard of the young man’s death. And the following day, she thought “He was only 16. A baby. And he didn’t live to see today.” She still registered disbelief when telling me about it.

Talking to our children is a lifetime blessing. We wield so much influence over them, whether we know it or not. We can never take for granted that…

…our loving words…can save their lives.

…i know.

………hugmamma.img_5209.jpg

(View more inspirational thoughts at…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/nurt-thurs-would-you-glow/

whatever works…who am i to judge

I reiterated to my husband again last night…”Don’t touch that stack of Wall Street Journal papers!” Never mind that it’s taking up space in his home office.

There are gems to be found in that mountain of treasure. Take for instance the article reprinted in my next post, “Letting Babies Cry a Bit is OK” by Andrea Petersen.

Of tremendous interest to “mwaaa”…me, that is, the information contained in Petersen’s writing reminded me of my husband’s least favorite bedtime story.

Our family had recently returned from visiting relatives in Hawaii. Our daughter, then a toddler, had difficulty returning to her routine of sleeping alone in her crib. Bunking with mom and dad while away from home was probably to blame. We had no choice in the matter since space was scarce in my mother-in-law’s already overcrowded home.

I’d read in a book that was my parenting bible at the time, that I shouldn’t remove my child from her crib when she cried, begging to sleep in mine. Rather, I should return to her side in 20-minute intervals to comfort her until she fell asleep. This had worked before our vacation; I was certain it would continue to work again.

My husband was not as convinced. In fact, he was adamant it wouldn’t.

That was one of the very few times I angered my husband.

In utter disgust and disbelief, he stormed off saying he’d rather sleep downstairs if I didn’t give in to our daughter’s pitiful cries. And they were pitiful. Trust me. They were.

However monstrous I might’ve seemed to my loved ones at the time, I knew the long-term result would benefit our child. And it has.

My daughter has confidently traveled the country and Canada since she was 14, pursuing the dance career she now enjoys. She slept in dorms with strangers as roommates. Since she was 18 she has lived on her own, 3,000 miles separating her from us.

She still dreams of living abroad some day.

And as for our relationship?

Our love for one another has grown exponentially over the years!!!

I don’t suggest it’s my way…or the highway. Parents need to do what feels instinctively right in their guts.

…and my instincts suit my guts…just fine…

………hugmamma.

“hallelujah!,” for not “going white”

Am here to spread the word about a newfound “partner in crime,” Zoriana, my new hair stylist. Where has she been all my life? Obviously not where I was. But circumstances beyond my control finally caused me to seek her out. And I’m very happy I did!

Baby-boomers like me, and those slightly older, and perhaps some who were still toddling around when I was in high school, know that a woman’s “crowning glory” is literally on top of her head, her hair, her hair, her hair! So when our “crowns” start to tarnish, some of us “hit the bottle,” literally. The bottle of henna rinse, that is, or whatever they’re calling it these days. I’ve been guilty of “hitting the bottle” for quite a few years. How old was I when I started? Who knows. And at 61, who cares?

I think I began by doing the job myself, maybe in my 40’s. I couldn’t tell you exactly when. As with age, graying hair snuck up on me. Like all things novel, dyeing my own hair back to its original color, or almost, was okay, no big deal. In my 50’s, it was getting irksome, especially when I’d spatter color on the floor tile, the bathroom wall, my clothes. Then the task became a bigger project, cleaning up after myself. Of course, trying to find the right hair color product was a job in itself, trying to imagine me in the picture on the front of the box. It required a lot of imagination since the models are Caucasians, and African-Americans, never Asian.

When I moved with my daughter so she could train for a professional dance career, dyeing my hair in the bathroom of our rented apartment, convinced me I should have it done professionally. The space was small, and I feared permanent stains might jeopardize the return of our security deposit, when we moved out. At least that’s what I told myself. But I’ve never looked back on what’s become a habit. I consider it part of my housekeeping salary, and I’m sure my husband likes that I don’t look like his grandma, although she was a very lovely woman.

My friend Katy “kicked the habit” a number of years ago. She now has a gorgeous head of hair in shades of “salt and pepper” gray. Unfortunately my head would look like white cabbage. It’s not a bad look, if the body matched. My vision of that person is like Ellen de Generes, cute and perky. A month-and-a-half ago, I thought I had no choice but to “go white.”

The hairdresser I was seeing for several years developed an allergy toward dark hair color. To contend with the problem she washed my hair before applying the color, where previously she use to do the reverse. Perhaps that caused my scalp to react badly the last time I saw her. As she began applying the color, a burning sensation developed in one spot. I think she quickly smoothed on a lotion to counteract the burning. But for the remainder of the appointment, the stylist proceeded very gingerly. When my hair was done, we weren’t sure how we’d proceed in the future.

The burning sensation abated, but that area of my scalp was red and itched. The next day my scalp scabbed, and over the next few days returned to normal, except for some residual itching. But I was left in a quandary as how best to resolve the issue of going “au naturale,” or finding someone with whom I could discuss my dilemma. Having clipped an article about Zorianna from the local newspaper, I gave her a call. Best decision I’ve made in a while.

To our great relief, I experienced none of the scalp burning as in my last appointment. Hallelujah! I’m young again! At least my hair is. I know I’m delaying the inevitable. I definitely plan to “kick the habit,” sometime. But in this case it’ll be later, rather than sooner. We’ve all got our weaknesses. While I’m fine with the rest of me, I’m vain about my “crowning glory.” I know I’m not the only one.

for seniors trying to hang in against all odds, and Zoriana, huge hugs…hugmamma. (www.zorianasbeautique.com)

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.

my minutiae, an update

As in the past, here’s another post to update some of the minute details that make my life, mine. We all have them, some are commonplace, some are unique. If you’re ever inclined, feel free to share some of yours.

  • While I was visiting my daughter, a huge tree fell in our back yard, landing precariously close to our house, perhaps 20 feet away. The top branches lay across the arbor that serves as an overhead roof to the back deck. A “chunk of change” later, a local tree service removed the precariously perched tree right down to its trunk, leaving our house intact. An act of Mother Nature, from which we were spared catastrophic damage by the hand of God. Thank goodness I wasn’t on hand to witness the event. Might have been too much for my heart. Something to ponder.
  • Yesterday was the first day of Fall. The season usually portends of rain, chilly weather, gray skies. So I guess those of us in the Pacific Northwest had exactly one month of summer, August. Retiring to Hawaii or Florida sounds really enticing. Also something to ponder.
  • On the local news yesterday they reported that a man returning home from walking his 2 dogs, was attacked by a black bear at the foot of his driveway. His wife could be heard on a 911 call, pleading for help. Because black bears have been sighted in our neighborhood, I’m very fearful of encountering one. In addition to the one bear bell attached to my dog’s leash, I may have to sew a whole bunch to my jacket. Who cares if I sound like the “Good Humor” man selling ice cream from a truck. I may look like “princess pupule” (Hawaiian for “crazy princess), but I’m sure the bears will avoid me, but so might the neighbors. Hmmm, something else to ponder.
  • The other night my husband announced that we’d been invited to his boss’s home to dine, one of the other guests being the new bishop of our diocese. It always surprises me when we’re asked to socialize with the CEO/President and his wife, because they “run” in such different circles from us. I love them dearly, having told them once that they bring out my maternal instincts. A decade younger, I look upon them like my other children. I’ve met both their parents, whom I also find enchanting. What surprises me is that my candidness seems to endear me to them. I do tread carefully, however, because my husband hovers nearby making sure I don’t say something too outrageous. But what do I chat about with a Catholic bishop? Hmmm…even more to ponder. One thing’s for sure, I’d better not have a lemon-drop martini. You know what they say, “Loose lips sinks ships.” And if I get too loose, oh my goodness…
  • A dance career can be an obstacle course because of the “detours” that unexpectedly present themselves. The last week I was with my daughter, she was unable to dance. Towards the end of the previous week, her male partner had brought her down from an overhead lift too quickly. Caught off guard, my daughter’s pointe shoe hit the ground hard, probably exacerbating an already tentative ankle. As a preventive measure from further injury, her foot is in an orthopedic boot, awaiting a doctor’s diagnosis. She’s hoping it’s not serious enough to sideline her from performing in Swan Lake. As a professional she knows such mishaps are part of the job. All she can do is seek resolution so that she can move forward. We can all learn something from these young folk, I know I can, and am.
  • Dr. Oz’ show shared some good information today. It included a discussion of “obesogens.” From what I gathered, since I tuned in late, environmental factors may contribute to our obesity, from plastics and canned foods that leach chemicals into our food, to farmed-fish, like salmon, whose pesticides and coloring agent also promote obesity. One tip, among several suggested, is not to microwave foods in plastic containers because of the leaching effect. Better to cook or reheat in glass containers. Another topic was dehydration, which many of us fail to recognize until we head to the emergency room for resuscitation. Drinking plenty of water to maintain our body’s 60% composition, is essential to keeping our cells, and the surrounding areas, hydrated. One tip was specifically helpful since I consume a lot of green tea daily. Coffee and tea are diuretics which cause us to lose water. Because of this, we need to replenish the loss by drinking 8 ozs. of water for each cup of caffeinated beverage we consume. Years ago when I followed the Weight Watcher’s Diet, I understood that coffee and tea would count towards the required amount of water consumption. Perhaps their information has been adjusted to reflect more current data.
  • My husband and I are starting our Fall weather regime this evening, going to our community center to walk the track and use the fitness equipment. Wish us luck, for the long haul.

small stuff, that’s life…hugmamma.