Tag Archives: love

Never the twain shall meet

Kate got me thinking today, with this morning’s post.  Mostly about life experiences and expectations, and how much they can vary from one person to the next.  How things that are ‘normal’ for one person can be so alien to the next.

Knowing what I’ve heard of the relationships my mom had before my dad (mostly from stories she told me), and knowing that she married my dad, it is safe to say she was drawn to the bad-boy type.  Maybe she liked the drama, maybe she thought she could change them.  I dunno.

Frank is, simply, NOT the bad boy type.  He does not swear beyond an occasional “dammit” and he gives me dirty looks if I do.  He’s quiet and introspective and just generally nice and well-intentioned.  I’ve had to do a lot of training in the ways of chivalry and courtesy because that is apparently not something that thrives in his family, but my touches have stuck and he’s definitely a keeper.

Once my mom realized our relationship was serious — like going on our third year serious — she asked me if I was sure I wanted to be with him.  Her reason?  “Well, he just doesn’t seem all that…. well… exciting.”  I responded, “You know Mom, he doesn’t do drugs, he doesn’t swear, he barely drinks, and I don’t think I ever have to worry about him cheating on me or physically hurting me or any kids we have.  We get along really well and have shared interests and have fun.  He’s exactly the type of person I want to spend the rest of my life with.”

At first it seemed weird to have to justify a relationship with such a nice guy to my mom.  But over time, as I’ve thought about that conversation, that one question has more and more shone a revealing light on many of the choices she’d made in her life.

I miss my mom

I was laying with Lane tonight, trying to get her to fall asleep.  I was stroking her soft blond hair and singing her favorite Disney movie songs to try to lull her to sleep.  And as I lay there, I thought of my mom.

I thought about how she died, nearly ten years ago.  I thought about how she was only 47.  I thought about how, if I live as long as she did, that means I still have 15 more glorious years of life left, to play and cuddle and love and laugh and cry and squeeze every bit of joy out of every moment that I can.

I thought about what it would mean if I died when I am 47.  Lane will be 19, Jake would be 16.  I was 22 when my mom died, and I wasn’t nearly ready for it.  Of course, I had no warning.  She just died.  No real rhyme or reason, just slipped away quietly in the middle of the night.  And I wasn’t ready.  I wanted more time with her.  I needed more time with her.  I had only been an adult for a couple years at that point, really, and our adult relationship was really blossoming.  My brother was only 15 when she died, and I know he needed more time too, way more than I did.  Our dad sort of dropped the parenting ball after mom died, (not that he was great at carrying it before she died) and my brother was left to flounder.  In retrospect, I knew that would happen.  I knew it, but I wanted to believe it wouldn’t.  I wanted to believe my dad would rise to the challenge and be the parent that my brother needed through his formative years of high school.  But, it didn’t happen.  Part of my denial was self-serving — to admit my dad would shirk his parental duties would obligate me to move back home, to drop out of the graduate school program I’d just started when mom died, and make sure my brother became the man I knew he was capable of being.

Not to imply he’s turned out poorly.  Now, he’s 24, and he’s doing OK.  Career- and education-wise he’s a bit of a ship without a sail.  He knows he wants more for himself, but he’s not sure what and not sure how.  I feel like he harbors a lot of anger.  But he laughs a lot, and smiles a lot, and has healthy (from what I can tell) relationships with decent girls.  He has artistic pursuits that bring him contentment.  I love him to death and no matter what, I’m really proud of him.  But I think with better, stronger, and/or more present adult guidance after mom died, maybe he’d have his bachelor’s degree by now.  Maybe he wouldn’t ache inside quite so much.  Maybe he’d have more direction.  I don’t know.  I just want him to be happy, and I know for a long time he really wasn’t… and I probably could have helped make that happen but I was too involved in my own world, 300 miles away.

Anyway, that was a tangent I didn’t really mean to go on but I just feel like spouting some emotion for a bit, even if it’s a bit incoherent.

I guess it all comes back to that I feel like a lot of how I define myself sort of goes back to losing my mom when I was still pretty young.  I read a book a few years ago called Motherless Daughters which helped validate those feelings.  (If you have also lost your mom, especially early in life – through death or abandonment – this is an excellent read.  I can’t recommend it enough.)  I do wonder how much of who I am today would have been the same even if she were alive, and how much was shaped through the lack of her presence and the process of grief of losing her.  It’s a riddle I know I’ll never have the answer for… but it really doesn’t matter.  I am who I am (or, “I yam who I yam” if you’re a one-eyed sailor with a spinach affinity).

And I guess more than anything, I want more than the cards my mother was dealt.  I want to meet my grandchildren.  I want to live long enough to use my retirement savings.  I want to get old enough to have lots of wrinkles.  I want to celebrate all those metallic wedding anniversaries (my parents only made it to their 23rd).  But if I do go early like my mom did, I want to have been a good enough mother that Lane and Jake will miss me terribly.

It’s all out of love

I like to visit fark.com – in general I’m a nice person, and Fark isn’t always full of nice people (OK, rarely) – but I find the discussion threads so interesting. What’s awesome about it is that there are people from all walks of life there — in the last couple of weeks I’ve been in discussions with ER doctors, psychologists, toxicologists, other moms, people involved in the writer’s strike, and a guy who’s trying to figure out a subject for his dissertation. (Of course this is what they claim, I have no way to know for sure… but I tend to be a smart cookie and these people certainly talked a good game.)

Some of the threads are just hilarious – like this one about Wikipedia. The rampant and intentional spread of misinformation had me in stitches.

Some spiral downward pretty quickly – like the ones that debate race, gender issues, circumcision, breastfeeding, religion, or politics… I steer clear of those. OK, maybe not the breastfeeding ones. 😉 But I tend to focus on the fun threads.

There was one recently that focused on boogers, and I mentioned that I have, in desperation, used my mouth to suck snot out of my son’s nose. He had a bad cold, and the bulb syringes I had simply did not form a good seal on his nose. He needed to nurse, and I was desperate to calm him. So, yeah, it was gross but I did it without hesitation. And after having to do it a couple more times, I went and bought every type of bulb syringe I could find in hopes of finding one that would do the job easily and without making his nose bleed. Luckily, I did find one, and I haven’t had to suck snot since.

Now granted, there are a lot of single, kidless, basement-dwelling people on Fark. People were shocked. Shocked! Swore they could never do something so gross.

But at the same time, probably a half-dozen parents also said, yeah, they’d had to do it too. One guy talked about how he jerry-rigged a turkey baster to do the task.

It may stand as one of my favorite Fark threads. Intellectual discussion actually abounded over boogers. Awesome.

Seriously though, and this is approximately how I tried to explain it to the noobs at Fark. Nobody thinks they would ever have to do something so gross. My son was about five months old when the need arose. He was small and helpless and hungry and upset and he could barely breathe through his sobs and I was desperate to help him. It truly is amazing what you will do for a little person in your lap, who is the embodiment of all your love and life and devotion.

Hard choices

I talked to my dad yesterday about Ginger. He’d talked to the vet, and what he found out isn’t great. Not the worst news imaginable, but not great.

The lump is definitely a malignant tumor. It is definitely in her jawbone. It is, however, a non-aggressive cancer, which the vet explained meant that this cancer wouldn’t get in her lymph nodes and spread all over her body. It would isolate itself on her jaw. There is definitely a viable treatment, which is to remove part of her jaw. They aren’t sure how much they’d need to remove just yet, but it sounds like we’re talking a substantial bit, like a third of her jaw or more. The vet says she should adapt to this just fine and lead a normal life. However, she naturally will be disfigured, missing part of her jaw and all, and there’s no guarantee that the cancer wouldn’t come back. And, since she’s ten years old, fairly on in years for a Labrador Retriever, there’s no guarantee something else couldn’t hit six months from now.

My dad is going to talk to the surgeon who would do the operation in a day or so, to really get some details cleared up, and ask some additional questions. Right now, he’s left with the tough decisions that many dog owners face: where does he draw the line? Should he go into debt to prolong Ginger’s life by what may be only a few months or a year? How much cost is too much cost? And is all of it fair to Ginger?

I’ve told him, were it Bailey, my dog, chances are, unless the costs meant Lane or Jake couldn’t go to college, I would probably do the surgery… but if the tumor came back, in three months or three years, I would not do it a second time. And at the same time, I told him Ginger’s getting on in years, she’s had a good, happy life, and if the surgeon tells him this surgery is going to cost more than his property taxes, that no one would blame him for deciding not to do it, and just letting Ginger live happily for the few weeks or months she might have before the lump starts to interfere with her ability to eat and drink.

Ugh, this is the part of dog ownership that nobody likes. 😦

2007, you were an interesting year

It seems all the rage on blogs to take a moment to reflect on the past year as it draws to a close.  Well, it’s probably more a human quality, and since humans write blogs, well, there you go.

2007 has led me down an interesting path.  At the end of 2006, I was very pregnant, I’d just finished recovering from a broken foot, I was working full time in a promising career at a Fortune 100 company, we owned a large 4 bedroom house in central NJ.

Now, I have a 10 month-old son…. he is by far the biggest thing that happened to me in 2007.  Jake is simply amazing.  He has a curiosity for the world that is already so apparent, it won’t be long before he’s taking apart our DVD player just to see what’s inside.  And he’s happy.  Nearly anything can elicit a giggle or even a hearty laugh from him and it melts my heart every time.  He already has a first word – dog – although that ‘guh’ sound at the end apparently is just too pedestrian for him to bother with.  It’s a fitting first word; we have a golden retriever and he thinks she’s just awesome.  He’s pretty laid-back too, in general, which is good given his sister’s appetite for wrestling with him.

Speaking of his sister, she’s had quite a year too, and it’s been fun (mostly) to watch.  2007 has brought Lane her 3rd birthday, successful potty-training, and the ability to sleep through the night.  Lest you think that has made our jobs as parents easier, don’t you get ahead of yourself.  😉  Lane is – how shall I say this – a complicated child.  The hip way to describe her is ‘spirited’.  She is as intense a person as I have ever met.  There is not an ambivalent bone in her body, and she feels every emotion and shares every opinion with a strength of passion I hope will serve her well in life.  She also may have a birth defect, that being that her body has mastered cold fusion.  This little girl has more energy than anyone I’ve ever seen.  She can go and go and go and go and go.  Sleep is an afterthought for her.  If there is a point where she can burn off so much energy that she will go to bed earlier, we haven’t found it yet.  Please don’t think for a second I’d change any of that.  Lane is awesome fun to have around.  Her joy and verve and exuberance are contagious, and she’s a constant reminder that life is meant to be lived, and be fun, and what use is it to sit around?!?  This year has also brought Lane an exploding vocabulary and the daily joy of having conversations with her.

Anyway, back on track here!  While I started the year as a working, career-minded (though increasingly ambivalent), homeowning mother, I’m ending it, well, I’m still a mother.  We sold our house to move closer to my husband’s parents in downstate NY.  I quit the promising career at the great company, which was at the same time exhilarating and the scariest thing I’ve ever done.  We moved to another state and are renting an apartment while we househunt for a house that, while it should still be sufficiently roomy and nice enough, will not be the house we left in New Jersey. 

2007 has turned me into a stay-at-home mom to two kids, and though I never knew it, it’s exactly what I always wanted.

2008 promises to be a great one for our family, too.  There will be another move when we buy our new house.  My husband is an actuary, and 2008 should be the year he attains his Associate of the Society of Actuaries, which anyone who is or knows an actuary can tell you, that’s a big deal.  Jake will turn a year old, and will reach a ton of milestones this year – talking, walking, maybe even doing our taxes for us.  We’re going to Aruba in April.  It should be a pretty amazing year for our family. 

And here’s wishing that your 2008 is full of discovery and wonder and joy and love.

I actually have time to miss, now

It’s been two or three days since my kids had any presents to open, and I think they have realized that the cornucopia has finally emptied.

They got so. much. stuff.  Oh my goodness.

But they got some great stuff, I must admit.  Nothing too violent or huge or lame.  They got some clothes. 

Some of my presents, however…. yeah, some lameness abounded.  My dad’s presents always seem to reflect a strong influence from whomever he is dating that birthday/Christmas.  His female companionship of late, let’s call her Linny…. Linny seems to have a great deal of sentimentality coursing through her veins.  She is a lovely woman, and in many ways that make my heart smile she reminds me of my mother a lot.  It’s been nearly a decade since my mom died so that striking resemblance is very heartwarming, and not at all threatening in a way it might have been 7 or 8 years ago.

And now that the madness has ended, I actually have had time to miss my mom.  Since it has been over 9 years since she passed, the memories are fuzzier.  In fact, they are starting to be less of “how it was” memories and more of imagining how it could have been, since time has mercilessly marched forward since she died, and she hasn’t been around for her memory to evolve with the lives we have that are so much more different than they were in 1998.  Then, I was just starting grad school.  I knew my husband, but he was just a boyfriend at that point — a serious boyfriend I’d dated for three years, and we both figured we’d get married, but there was no ring and no firm plans at that point.  I certainly didn’t have kids.

And now, having the time to think about it post-madness, I’m sad.  I can’t say I miss things the way they were — because the way they were was me single, no kids, no dog, etc. and I like where I am now.  I miss what could have been.  My mom would have been a wonderful grandmother.  She would have doted on my kids, cuddled them incessantly, loved them fiercely, and bragged about them constantly.  She was a woman with a big heart and a wealth of kindness, and my kids’ lives would have been enriched to have her around. 

So I miss my mom.  I miss her laugh, and her smile.  I miss the way flicked her middle fingernails with her thumbs when she was thinking.  But mostly my heart aches for her love – the unconditional love she had for me, and the love I know she would have had for my children.

At the same time, it is certainly nice to idealize what would have been.  Maybe she would have though the extending breastfeeding relationship I have with my kids is weird.  Maybe she would pin the blame on me that my daughter is such a night owl (I’m writing this at 1:50 ish in the a.m. because she only fell asleep at 1:30 a.m.).  Maybe if she hadn’t died we would have had a big falling-out over something.  Maybe if she hadn’t died, she wouldn’t have gotten along with my in-laws and that would have been a big source of tension.  So in a way it’s nice that I can imagine that everything to this point would have been hunky-dory, but I have no way to know if it would have been or not.

But that doesn’t change that my mom was awesome, and I loved her immensely, and I miss her with every ounce of my being.  I wish she were here.