forever…

…friends.

Laurie and I have known each other since our daughters were toddlers. She initiated the first ever playgroup in our small town of Redding, Connecticut. For that I will be forever grateful. It was my lifeline to the outside world since I’d decided to forgo a career in NYC to be a stay-at-home mom.

I’d worked since I was 16, so being in a twosome with a child for the next umpteen years was a thousand scary thoughts all rolled into one. I’d no idea how I’d make it from one day to the next without adult companionship.

Thank God for that ad in the local paper inviting new moms to gather with babes in arms. Laurie and I have been lifelong friends ever since.

There were a number of women with whom I’d been close, but Laurie was the only one with whom I’d been so totally in sync. There were never, ever any issues over which we’d have a falling out. Never. Our daughters, only children, were our common cause. It was always about their well being. Our worlds revolved around doing our best for them. We always commiserated over that common goal. Our egos never got ahead of us that way. Amazing! Truly amazing.

It’s been 18 years since our family moved to the Pacific Northwest. During that time, Laurie and I have managed to meet up…in Redding,  NYC, Chautauqua (New York), Atlanta, Martha’s Vineyard and just last week, here in Washington State. (We’re already looking forward to where we’ll next meet.) As with long time friends the world over, we spent every waking moment catching up on…our lives…our daughters’ lives…the lives of friends and acquaintances we’d both known…and Redding, past and present.

As an unexpected bonus, Laurie and I discovered we both dreaded the thought of a Trump presidency. And so from the outset, politics wove their way in and out of all of our conversations. Empowered by our discussions, she vowed that she would help register voters upon returning to her home town in Pennsylvania. And, of course, I plan to continue trouncing Trump with the written word.

One of the first compliments I paid Laurie on this visit was that she was everybody’s enabler…her daughter’s…her ex-husband’s…her two sisters…her niece and nephew…her friends…her coworkers. It’s in Laurie’s very DNA to quietly support those with whom she’s in contact. She never pushes her opinions; instead she listens carefully, building upon what the speaker has said. To her great credit, many have remained loyal to her. And to her very great credit, her daughter is thriving in a gay marriage and enjoying an awesome career as a veterinarian.

I count myself very lucky to still be among Laurie’s closest friends. No matter the distance, no matter the passing of time, we will always be kindred spirits…

…friends…forever.

………hugmamma.787

 

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after decades…relinquishing control…

We wives and moms metamorphose all our lives.Butterfly-Header

Sometimes we’re butterflies. Wowee!!! Look at me flutter…

MothsO18Most times, however…we’re just plain, ole moths. Hardworking, for sure. No time to flit around looking beautiful all day long. We save that for special occasions, which get fewer and farther along once the children start coming.

I can’t remember when I last felt like a butterfly. Come to think of it, I can’t remember what it was like to be twenty-something. Those days of short-shorts and string bikinis are all but forgotten. And yes! I did wear both. You’ll barf if you’re trying to imagine it, given what I look like now. So don’t try!

Over the last 29 years I’ve worn my moth-eaten wife and mother’s gray garb with happy determination. When I was younger I could do it all. At least I thought I could.

Multi-tasking was a given. Getting hubby off to work after a nourishing breakfast…seeing my daughter onto the bus headed for school…household chores…grocery shopping and other errands…yard work…classroom volunteering…chauffeuring my budding ballerina to dance classes…meals to make…laundry to do…bedtime stories with which to settle in.

Thank goodness hubby loved to play so he and our daughter could do their thing every chance they could. I never got over my childhood habit of…work before play. With 7 sisters to do most of the work around their house, my husband and his 4 brothers were “boys of leisure.” From what I saw when we were dating, they didn’t even make their beds…at least not my husband.

That’s not to minimize playtime, however. I was extremely glad my hubby liked playing with our daughter. Otherwise, that would’ve been one more thing on my “to do list.” And if that were the case, I’m sure it wouldn’t have felt like fun to my toddler if I clocked how much time I had to sit around playing games.

I even explained to the school counselor during kindergarten orientation how I would prefer my child have a teacher more akin to my husband than me. Would you believe I even teared up about it? I was adamant about not wanting someone geared toward the three R’s…reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic….and nothing else. My daughter would get enough of that kind of discipline at home…from me.

So over the years as a stay-at-home mom, I assumed control over an empire…my empire. Even when the “king” returned home to his “castle,” I was still in charge…on the quiet, of course. I feigned homage to my lord and liege.

We moms know who manipulates the strings behind this real life puppet show. Don’t we ladies?

For 45 years, even after we became empty-nesters…almost 11 years now, I ruled the roost. Although as this monarch aged the job was no longer a cinch. Not that it ever was. It’s just that I’m not as adept at  keeping all the balls in the air anymore. It’s more like I’m rolling the balls along a gravely path. And it’s getting gravelier every year. Trust me. One of these days it’s going to seem as though I’m rolling those balls straight uphill.

The last several years I rationalized my loss of get-up-and-go to doing quality work. Doing one or two tasks a day was just fine. At least that’s what I told myself. Meanwhile dust collected. I could no longer see my reflection in the wood floors. Not that I ever could. But they were better than they are now, that’s for sure. A few more days went by before I did the laundry. I bought more underwear to tide us over.

I could chalk it up to my having an under-active thyroid, which I learned about during a visit to a naturopath. Thankfully, that’s been resolved.

Working thyroid or not, getting old slowed me down. I can’t do half of what I use to do, more like a third, on my best days. And I sure as heck can’t move between the house and the yard without breaking a sweat. Don’t get me wrong, it was never a breeze. Just more doable. These days the weeds live in harmony with the flowers. That way, the jack rabbits…yeah, they’re no longer cute, little bunnies…can graze on something other than my prized plants, lovingly hand-picked and bought with hard-earned dinero.

So what’s my point?

Yesterday I decided to skip out on an appointment with the designer who was stopping by to discuss window coverings for our newly remodeled, downstairs master bedroom suite. After almost 3 months as project manager and all that entails…on top of my normal routine…on top of nursing our beloved dog who eventually passed, and a loving cat who almost died from some mystery ailment…and on top of 3 weeks in Nashville literally helping my daughter get back on her feet after back-to-back surgeries…my vintage locomotive of a body finally went kaput! My brain gave in and decided we should all take a mini vacation. So I did. I drove to Home Goods, a subsidiary of the retailer Marshalls, and left my house in the very capable hands of my recently semi-retired husband.

Going over what we’d decided to install on the windows, I opted out deciding I’d live with whatever technicalities the designer and my other half finalized. It felt really, really good to relinquish control. My husband could grill the designer on her credentials as far as the installation went. After all she doesn’t work for the manufacturer, so her information is second-hand. More than that, she had to prove to my husband that what she was selling was worth every penny of his money. She knew my aesthetics; she’d never dealt with his budgetary consciousness…first hand. I did. Convincing him to spend the money was a job in itself. Of course, I knew the right buttons to press. Like “It’ll only increase the resale value of our house.” That’s always a good one. Fastest way to get him to open up his checkbook. Not that he’s ever “fast on the draw,” just not “slow like molasses.”

butterfly-garden-4For a couple of hours I felt as though I was floating along on a cloud…free as a…butterfly. No worries. No cares other than looking at what was in front of me…a wall rack for the laundry room doubling as a gift-wrapping station…decorative waste baskets…a piece of art for the bedroom. When hubby joined me later I showed him what I had in my shopping cart. He pointed out things I’d not thought about which made me change my mind, returning some of the items to their shelves. Made me feel good too, having someone else make decisions, however small.

I felt so calm and refreshed that hubby and I wound up having a date night. We walked to nearby AJE restaurant, dining on Japanese food, a favorite of ours. Not having been to the movies in a while, we decided to stop at a nearby Regal Theatre to see The Avengers Age of Ultron. We both dozed off, unbeknownst to one another, near the beginning of the film. Hubby said he awoke and saw me asleep. We didn’t miss much, however, since most action films are primarily about the actors annihilating one another, or trying to at least. It was good not having to think about anything…except the good guys smashing the bad guys to smithereens.

Today I was back on the job. MothsO125As project manager I oversaw last minute details…where to hang mirrors, artwork, vintage pieces and chandeliers.

I never know how purchased items are going to look once in place. I have some idea, based upon pictures and customer reviews. However it isn’t until I see a piece in place will I know if it works as I imagined, or not. Take the massive metal chandelier I bought online to hang over the end of our king-sized bed. I thought it would hang 24″ low. Not until the electrician was up on a ladder, fixture in hand, did I learn that my gorgeous chandelier would block most of our view of the newly minted porcelain tile fireplace with gas insert, as we lay in bed. It was me and my woman’s intuition going up against the practical mindset of 3 men, including my husband and our contractor.

I’m delighted to admit…the men won! What got me over to their side? The electrician saying “If the chandelier isn’t hung as a flush mount, then the only other option is that it hangs 34″ from the ceiling. In that case, what you’ll be looking at while sitting in bed is the light glaring out at you from the chandelier.” That made total sense, so I relinquished control of that debate.

I think I’m going to like having the men in my life take back control…

…as long as i agree. 

………hugmamma. butterfly-world

trayvon martin…newtown, ct…your child and mine

What can we parents do to keep our children safe from harm? Unfortunately, there’s a limit to how far we can cast our safety net.

Trayvon Martin Protest - Sanford

I’m certain most of you are as upset as me when another child is kidnapped or worse…killed. And like me you must ponder the possibilities. Why did it happen? Who’s responsible? Where were the parents? Could more have been done to safeguard the child?

And I don’t know about you, but my heart aches for the child, and for his or her family.

What can be done? That’s the $64,000 question. These days it’s more like $64 billion dollars. There’s no pat answer as to how we can safeguard our kids against all the crazies in the world. Wish there were. Don’t you? Grace Audrey McDonnell services

That’s not to say there’s no solution to the problem. Just that there’s no guarantee any one of a million will work…permanently.

While I continue to feel unsettled about my daughter’s safety as she ventures hither and yon, my customized response to keeping her close in my heart is to do what I can to show her how much I love her…while she’s here…on earth.IMG_4712

When I learned, at the ripe old age of 36, that I was pregnant for the first time, and as it turned out…the only time, I was beyond happy. Sixteen years is a long time to wait. That’s how long my husband and I had been married before the blessed event. Adoption seemed our only answer to being parents.

After I’d had time to wrap my brain around the fact that I was having a baby, reality set in.

How would I handle the transition from career woman to stay-at-home mom? I most certainly wasn’t about to turn my precious bundle over to some stranger, while I toiled away in an office for 8 hours and commuted from Connecticut, where I lived, to NYC, where I worked. All told, I wouldn’t have seen my daughter for nearly 12 hours. And I’d probably be no good to her when I was home. The stress of juggling two careers would’ve been too much. 

At the same time I wasn’t about to turn my life inside out with the addition of a new member to our family. No siree. No ma’am. She was going to be an equal partner. Equal shares all the way around. And that’s how my husband and I have viewed our daughter ever since.

...equal partners then...

…equal partners then…

We never stop to think what’s ours is ours. Our home will always be our daughter’s, and to the extent we are able we will always help support her financially. There’s no question we will always love and support her unconditionally. She never has to earn what we are blest to be able to give, having ourselves been given the greatest gift…her.

Obviously, placing our child in a plastic bubble is not an option. We do what we can to encourage her to be safe. Beyond that…her life is in her own hands, as it should be. 

Parents can’t, and shouldn’t, live their children’s lives. Truthfully, I wouldn’t have the energy. One life is more than enough for me to try and figure out. I don’t have all the answers to my own questions…let alone try to make sense of the ones that face my daughter. 

What we can do is love our children with all our might.

As far as I’m concerned, there is no greater joy than to die knowing I have done everything humanly possible, to make my daughter’s life everything God intended when he chose me to be her mom.

We needn’t fret over what might have been…so much better to be thankful for…

…what is…

...equal partners still...

…equal partners still…

………hugmamma.