Category Archives: Motherhood

My next random blog post

It’s Tuesday morning and I consciously made the decision to get stuff done around the house instead of spending an hour or more typing up the next blog post. Now I’ve got less than 10 minutes.

I also have not been particularly jazzed about writing about any specific topic this week. There are two ways for me to think about this: procrastination might be my friend. In other words, perhaps penning a post with a finite time limit will propel me to write something of substance, something I can be proud of. Giving myself a time limit will prevent me from over-thinking, which is a talent I sadly excel at. The other take I could have is that this could be an opportunity for me to “chill”. Remind myself that I am not in a race. Remind myself that I will not face any truly negative consequences if I choose to not publish this post on Wednesday, which is my typical publishing day. I could wait till Friday, or heck, even Sunday morning.

So here goes nothing. Or something. More likely something in between.

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My theme of the week

 

The other day at my volunteer gig at a local food bank, Santa donated several crates of Nutella. That kind of thing doesn’t happen every day, right? That’s why I love my job helping senior citizens and volunteering at the food bank. I’m interacting with loads of different people and no two days are the same! But for real, he did look like Santa and he shared that he performs as Santa professionally. Funny thing is, I actually know two other male retirees, both from our old church in Wisconsin, who are also happily enjoying gigs as Santa post-retirement. I love those little happy coincidences that life serves up sometimes, don’t you?

I had to acknowledge my age recently when dining out with Hubs in Denver, prior to the James Taylor concert (which was absolutely fantastic, btw). Unbeknownst to me, the  female servers at this restaurant/bar were essentially costumed as strippers. I’m talking bare midriffs, teeny-tiny short shorts, and heavy make up on their precious baby faces. The experience reminded me of those awful reality shows where the little girls are competing in beauty pageants. It was just really troubling to me as a mom.  I struggled to keep myself from telling these young ladies to put on a sweater, for God’s sake!

Lately, Hubs and I have been binge-watching “The Walking Dead”. I find it terrifically fascinating. We actually started watching it a few years ago, but at that time I only made it to the second episode due to the gore and violence. I surprised myself by agreeing to try watching it again, just a couple of months ago, with Hubs. For some reason, the gore and violence, while certainly disturbing, didn’t impact me as strongly as it had a few years prior. When I started getting a little heebie-jeebie-ish, I decided to remind myself that the scenes weren’t actually real (duh, right?) and instead to focus on the amazing make-up, special effects, and costuming that was being showcased. I got to thinking, how much fun must it be for make-up artists to work on this set? So with that little change in perspective, I found myself drawn into the predicament these folks found themselves in. Intrigued by the characters and how they interacted with each other. I think if I was a high school or college instructor of say, psychology, leadership (that’s a thing right?), or philosophy, I would frequently use clips from this show for my lessons. There’s so much material there.

In closing, and more importantly in the spirit of randomness, I present to you the best thing I saw on NPR this week. While it is indeed sad that Koko is no longer among us earthlings, this video made me smile. And it reminded me of what an awesome individual Robin Williams was.

 

Happy fun-day Sunday, blogging peeps!

The Joys of Motherhood

Motherhood is such a trip. It is adventurous, scary, and fraught with unforeseen obstacles. It is not for sissies, as they say. Motherhood is also very wonderful. My life is much fuller because I chose to be a mom. My heart grew exponentially the day I became a mom-June 1, 1992.

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In honor of Mother’s Day this year, I’d like to share with you a random though by no means comprehensive list of the joys of motherhood, according to me.

  • Cuddling my babies. Stroking their rose-petal soft skin and kissing their chubby little feet. Rocking them to sleep was the best.
  • Being present during their “firsts”. It never failed to be  awe-inspiring to witness my children, these little tiny humans that me and Hubs created and I housed inside of me for 9 months, reach milestones like their first words, first steps, or the first time riding their bikes without training wheels.
  • Enjoying the free, spontaneous entertainment our kids provided us. Like when they would raid my underwear drawer as toddlers and prance around with my bloomers on top of their heads and my bras over their pajamas.
  • Pancakes: if I did not have my kids, I would hard pressed to justify making a batch of pancakes (12-14 according to the Bisquick box from what I recall). We enjoyed ourselves a lot of pancakes when they were growing up.
  • Planning and executing great celebrations: whether it be  birthdays, graduations, or a wedding-I took great enjoyment in planning them in a way that honored them and lifted them up. Seeing my kids happy was always worth it, whatever amount of stress it entailed.
  • Companionship. Having kids meant I always had company. I love how my relationships with them have morphed into something new and special now that they are all grown up. I’ve never related to those mother/child relationships where either party proclaims the other is their “best friend”. I am their mother, which to me is a higher honor than “best friend”. Yet, now that they are both grown, I find that I appreciate and enjoy their company on a different level. I’m no longer there to ride them about doing their homework, cleaning up their rooms, or using the bathroom before we get in the car. That sense of responsibility for them is gone. Which makes room for more meaningful conversations and new experiences to enjoy together.
  • Being a part of the journey into their own motherhood. Our oldest daughter was never so beautiful as she was after giving birth to our beautiful grandson. Seeing her with no makeup and messy, sweaty hair with the biggest smile courtesy of her having just fallen in love with this precious boy was a sight to behold for me as a mom and a new grandma. Such a very special moment that will be forever etched in my memory.

Suffice it to say that I can’t imagine not being a mother. My kids mean the world to me. Tell me, fellow moms, what have you found to be the most joyful aspects of motherhood?

Happy Mother’s Day!

The food of winter: Chili

I love chili. Making it, eating it, experimenting with it. It’s one of those rare dishes that almost everyone I know loves. It’s especially perfect during these winter months when you are chilled to the bone. I remember as a kid, when my mom would make a big batch, I’d watch my dad slather on what had to be a good tablespoon of butter onto each Saltine to accompany his hearty bowl of chili. To my dad, everything is better with butter.

One of the few things I remember my dad’s mom making was chili. Only hers was different than all the rest. She added chunks of celery and spaghetti. It was more of a soup than a chili, actually. It smelled and tasted delicious.

My oldest spawn has always been a fan of chili herself. Every year, while we were living in Wisconsin, there was a chili cook off sometime in February. She and I always talked of attending, but for whatever reason, we never did. I regret that.

When Hubs was on a rotating shift schedule and the spawn were elementary school aged, I remember heating up a can of Hormel chili (no beans) in the microwave to create chili dogs for supper sometimes.  My oldest and I loved this messy treat, while the youngest was perfectly happy with a plain old hot dog.

So in that spirit, I’d like to share with you the version of chili I came up with earlier this week. Hubs and I agreed it was the best chili I ever made, so I thought it only right to share it with you all.

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Ingredients:

1 lb. beef stew meat

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 small cans tomato sauce

1 can black beans, drained

1 can chili beans, drained

1 can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes

Chili powder, to taste

Chihula hot sauce, to taste

Heat up the oil in a skillet. Brown the beef. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. It’s ok to leave it reddish inside. Plop it into a crockpot. Add cans of tomato sauce, black and chili beans, and Ro-Tel tomatoes. Sprinkle in some chili powder and Chihula, to taste. Give it a good stir and set the crockpot to low. After a long day of work, walk in the door and savor the aroma. Pat yourself on the back for taking the approximately 20 minutes this morning to put this deliciousness together. Chop some yellow onions and get out the shredded cheddar and sour cream. Spoon up that chili into bowls and add the flourishes to your liking. Eat up!

And if you’re a family of two like we are, give yourself another pat on the back, because later in the week, or heck even next week, you will have a night of no cooking, because this chili freezes very well in individual plastic tupperware thingies.

On Tattoos

Last November, while visiting Spawn #1 in Wisconsin, she said something to me that I will never forget. It went something like this:

Spawn #1: Hey, mom…I was thinking that maybe we should get tattoos together.

Me (mouth agape): Really? You’d want to do that with me?

It was as if she had bequeathed me with a crown and a sash emblazoned with “Coolest Mom Ever”. I was gobsmacked. Honored. Dumbfounded. All at once. 

The child who gave me grief from approximately 2005 through 2012, and after whom several of my gray hairs are named, actually likes me. You’ve no idea the confidence boost this gave me.

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I have no tattoos. At least not yet. 

It’s not like I have anything against tattoos. Especially on other people. Except I think it’s a little weird to see a large tattoo on someone’s body depicting a picture of their children as babies, complete with their names and dates of birth. Or when people have tattoos on their faces. I think those are especially spooky. But that’s just my personal opinion.

Discussing the possibility of me getting matching tattoos with Spawn #1 with Hubs has been interesting. He jokingly made a comment about anti-tattoo sentiments found in the Bible. Something about “graven images”. He also stated that he’d prefer not to see the mother-daughter tattoo on me when he takes me to “Funkytown” (wink wink). I really can’t blame him for that. It could be a buzzkill. 

So that just means if we are to get matching mother-daughter tattoos, at least for me, placement is going to be key. Perhaps on my ankle. Or on the inside of my wrist. Either way, I don’t know that I can resist the honor my daughter has given me by coming up with this sweet notion.

In fact, Spawn #2 may want to join in. That would make it all the more special, right? They almost got a tattoo a few years ago, upon their 18th birthday. My in-laws were visiting from out of state. My mother in law, being the progressive, open-minded jewel of a woman she is, wanted to join us in our first foray into a tattoo shop. The “waiting room” consisted of a black leather couch and a couple of chairs with a coffee table centered in between. Their was a plethora of nudie and tattoo fetish type publications which MIL, to our amusement, peered through.

Spawn #2 was extraordinarily nervous, but determined. Part of their reasoning for getting ink that day was to prove to themselves that they had overcome their fear of needles, which had plagued them since elementary school. I was proud of them for doing this.

In the end, however, Spawn #2 chickened out. They came out of the backroom, weeping and tattoo-less. Nonetheless, I was a proud mom. I told them that it was okay, they have all the time in the world to get a tattoo. They showed bravery and determination by getting as far as they did that day. And after all, it was just a tattoo. It wasn’t like it was a shot of an antidote that was going to save their lives, for Pete’s Sake. 

So maybe 2017 is going to be the year that the women of our little family get some ink. Both Spawn #1 and #2, along with the cutest and smartest and bestest 3 year old on the planet will be coming to visit us in Colorado next month after all.

This could be perfect timing.

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Perhaps this one?

Dear Moms

Dear moms of children ages 12-22,

It gets better. You don’t have to take my word for it, but you should. I have been in your shoes. I’ve experienced unnecessary dressing room drama, engaged in numerous battles over the refusal to eat lovely and nutritious meals put in front of my children (child really-you know who you are), and hosted multiple obnoxious “friends” for sleep overs.

And I survived it all. Fortunately my two kids came out relatively unscathed as well.

These two children I speak of are not perfect. Neither achieved straight A’s in any grade between 1st through 12th. Neither were gifted athletes (they can thank my genes for this as one who was consistently picked last for team sports in gym class back in the day and cannot safely ride a bike). Neither were hard workers.

Slowly but surely though, between the ages of about 21 and 24, I started to see them shine. My oldest managed to graduate with her Associates degree from technical college at the age of 23, while simultaneously juggling a full time job at a fast food chain and becoming a mother for the first time. My youngest, the artist in the family, bounced around a few places (including a stint in college which lasted a solid two years), before landing in Indianapolis where she is making a (albeit meager)  living on her art. She also learned how to speak Japanese and spent time there during her college years.

These two former knotheads are now hardworking, appreciative, resilient, intelligent and thoughtful young adults. I treasure my relationships with them now and am beyond proud of who they are becoming.

If anyone had been able to foresee the future back in about 2008 in respect to my children, I can’t say for certain I would have believed them. At the time, I figured clown college or digging ditches were more likely in their future than what they have now achieved at ages 23 and 24.

Instead, they went and surpassed my expectations. Kids are full of surprises.

So, hang in there moms. It will get better despite what may or may not be occurring in the present. You’ve got this. SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

Wishes on Mother’s Day

With Mother’s Day just around the bend, I’ve been doing a lot of pondering about my journey as a mom. I’ve been a mom for almost 25 years now, which is hard to fathom as the memories of my children’s births are still fresh in my mind. My kids are in fact no longer “kids” as the oldest is soon to be 25 and the youngest turns 24 this summer. I surely made mistakes along the way but I’ve always tried my best. Looking back, I would hit a ‘do over’ button if one was available in a number of circumstances. I like to think that most mothers out there would say the same thing. Of course, that is a way for me to feel better about how I did as a mom, right? But I don’t intend for this post to be about the past. I want to talk about the future: specifically my wishes for my children’s futures.

Wish #1) That my children to retain as close a relationship to each other as possible. The reality is, they are the only two people on this planet who were parented by me and the Hubs. They have their own stories about us as parents, for better or worse. They were each other’s first friends. They understand what buttons to push and not to push with each other and they have a unique ability to comfort each other in times of trouble.

Wish #2) That my children will always trust their gut instincts. When faced with a choice, no matter how inconsequential it may seem, and there’s a niggling feeling in their literal guts, brains, or hearts, I pray they do not proceed with that choice. I wish for them to appreciate the fact that their body is sending them an important message which they must heed. And if they don’t feel they have the courage to make a different choice or simply say “No”, I hope they will call or text me as I am a pretty good sounding board.

Wish #3) That my children make their physical and mental health their first priority. My children both have big hearts. Hearts I of course wish to protect. They are caring, kind, and generous young people. They both have been known to go out of their way to help others, such as loaning money or a place to crash to friends or even friends of friends. I am proud of them for their kind hearts and actions, believe me. However, I worry that the energy they expend on others leaves them with too little to dedicate to themselves. What I wish for them to understand is that if they choose not to prioritize their self-care by having annual physicals, regular dental appointments, adequate sleep, balanced nutrition, and healthy stress coping mechanisms, they will not only be decreasing their quality of life and happiness, but they will have less energy to give to others.

Wish #4) That my children maintain a sense of humor about themselves. When I was growing up, and probably through much of my 20’s, I took myself waaay too seriously. This was very much tied to feeling self-conscious much of the time and having low self esteem. As I’ve gotten older (and I like to think wiser), I have come to the realization that in actuality, I don’t have to be perfect. I can make a comment to someone, quickly realize it didn’t come out as cleverly as I intended, and laugh it off. Because it turns out the sky doesn’t actually fall in when I’m just being me.

Wish #5) That my children never, ever forget that I am always here for them, come what may. I will always listen to what they have to say to the best of my ability, and refrain from judgement. I will always have their backs. My love for them is infinite.

Wish #6)   That my children maintain their hard work ethics. I wish for them to envision what they truly desire for their futures and know they have my full emotional support with every step they need to take to make their visions become reality.  I wish for them to not stop when faced with obstacles along the way, but forge a new path to achieve their dreams.

Wish #7) That my children be life-long learners.  I sincerely hope they follow their curiosity and see where it leads. To further their educations for personal enhancements or professional growth, or simply for the sheer joy of it. I wish for them to strive each and every day to be the best version of themselves. To live as authentically as possible. They owe this to themselves as well as to the world.

Wish #8) That my children do their best to not sweat the small stuff. I know from personal experience that this is a huge waste of time and energy.  I wish them to remember to ask themselves the following questions when they are feeling stressed out by a situation or circumstance: Will this matter in a month from now?  Or next year? Or in 5 years? Often the answer is going to be simply “no”. In my view, most everything in life is temporary.  As I’ve often told myself in times of extreme stress “This too shall pass”.  This phrase has helped me through a lot.  I suspect my unique, smart, kind, funny, and beautiful children will find it useful as well.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!