Sunday, June 29, 2014

Yesterday & Today

Living in the moment is what I've been trying to do more of,  given how fleeting life continues to prove it can be.  I simply can't expect that I'm going to live to my mom's ripe old age of 97 (come July 28).  Granted, I'm about 40 years younger, but if I don't get moving, I could be looking back with a host of "should've would've could'ves" haunting me.

Keeping that in mind, I became motivated to actually do what I've been telling myself repeatedly that I want to do.  Taking a vacation with my adult children (ages 21 - 26) was at the top of the list.

So in the spirit of enjoying one another, I tossed around all sorts of destinations that would be conducive to a several-day getaway.  My thoughts jumped from the unusual (dude ranch) to the glitzy (cruise), but all that Internet research left me longing for what had been our annual vacation spot for many of the kids' early years - almost right in our back yard:  Ocean City, New Jersey.   

My kids reacted excitedly when I told them, and while I'd guess that they were looking forward to daytime at the beach, nighttime on the boardwalk complete with ice cream, caramel corn and fudge - Who am I kidding? I was too! - I was driven by something even more compelling than sheer indulgence...time together.   

It didn't take long for us to pick up at our happy place right where we left off, with a seemingly short hiatus separating then and now, and yet there were also dramatic changes for all of us that marked a rather significant passing of time.

For starters, the first day at the beach, I was getting sea sick watching the perpetual motion of the young mother with her three little kids on the blanket next to ours.  I actually had to re-position my chair to turn away from them, as it was difficult to watch her run after the youngest one, hour after hour, while tending to the needs of the other two as well.  How on earth she didn't pass out from exhaustion was beyond me.  Twenty years ago, I was that mom, and those were my kids. 

I wanted to shout out, "Hang in there!  They will grow up - Look at mine!" but boy, she had a long way to go before she'd actually be able to enjoy a "vacation" with the kids. 

Reminders of the transformation that had taken place since our last stay in OC continued.  At lunch the next day when I reached for my wallet, the two older kids announced that they're treating me.  Even though each has offered individually in the past, planning together to do something nice for me made the gesture even more meaningful.  The little one - a senior in college - was also surprised and voiced displeasure that she was left out of the equation, but she put herself back in by insisting that she leave the tip.   

They also offered to help me carry the blanket, towels and chairs each day, threw into our beach bag drinks and snacks for each other, echoed sunscreen reminders throughout our stay, suggested I might want to wait till after dinner to have my ice cream cone (I didn't) and my older daughter initiated dialogue with the front desk manager to rectify our sleeper sofa problem.  

All the kids thanked me for the trip, but my oldest one texted me later on that night to say, among other things, that he is so appreciative for the fun break from the stresses and daily grind of work. 

Are these the same kids who ran me ragged on the beach? 

Yes, they are, just a moment ago, or so it seems.  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Mom's First

I have a very bad habit of frequenting Diane's Water Ice at lunchtime - good because I love every spoonful and bad for...need I spell it out?  Rachel, the manager there most familiar with my obsession, and I have become chummy, sharing stories about our kids like we're longtime friends.  

She knows for example that I have a daughter with Celiac Disease and how trying that can be, so she's been very patient with me when I quiz her on Allison's flavor preferences to be sure she can still partake.  I know as well that she has a daughter who seems to have grown from baby to "teenager" - at just 2 years old - overnight, and Rachel is not happy about it. 

When she voiced sadness of time gone by too fast, my emotions took me to a place I haven't visited for years - back to the day when I experienced the magical powers of first-time motherhood. 

I embraced it like a fish to water, loving my new little companion Michael - the best interactive toy one could hope for - and our time together brought joy, peace, satisfaction and endless fun to my life.  I got a kick out of everything he did - from complete stillness as an infant to making sounds, moving around and reacting to everything around him. 

A short time after Mike was born, about when he was starting to bring his hands around to his face and trying to grab his feet, I began to feel the need to capture these fleeting moments on film, so Mike's dad and I bought the hot item of the time (1987) - a shoulder-mount VHS camcorder.  I could hardly maneuver it but that didn't stop me from recording hours and hours of Mike doing almost nothing.  I remember telling my then in-laws when they came over one day that I have something amazing to show them, and they sat down to watch with much anticipation. They oohed and ahhed very kindly but I'm sure it was painful to sit and watch for over an hour Mike make ever so slight a gesture.  Yet, I found it riveting. 

So I get that Rachel is missing her teeny-weeny baby.  

I still miss all my babies.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day

Hats off to dads everywhere who give the very best they have to their children (and to their spouses too, of course).    
Yesterday - the Saturday before Father's Day - provided one reminder after the next of the important role that fathers play in their kid's lives. 

First, my husband left the house at 5:30 a.m. with his daughter to take a week-long vacation together.  Other than his waking me as he gathered his belongings - when I would've otherwise been fast asleep for another couple of hours - the timing was perfect, Father's Day weekend and all. This will undoubtedly be a very difficult time for both David and Lauren, as they mourn their beloved Matthew and third Musketeer.  As yesterday approached, David showed some concern that Lauren's youth mixed with her sense of adventure and overall vitality could be exhausting for him, but certainly they will return home with an even stronger bond than they had before the trip.

In the afternoon, I went to see my nephew Daniel perform in Shrek, a Wolf Performing  Arts production at St. Joseph's University, which brought tears to my eyes for not only the love story but also in watching Daniel's dedication as an actor and enjoying his look of gratification after the show.  Denis has raised Daniel on his own (with incredible help from Amy, Daniel's aunt) since he was born 13 years ago, when Denis' wife Lisa passed away.  I've seen my brother flourish into Super Dad overnight, becoming both a dad and mom interchangeably. This still mystifies me at times, recalling how silly a brother he was and now how silly (among other wonderful qualities) a daddy he can be when he's not wearing his Judge of the Court of Common Pleas hat.  I'm fairly certain that as much as Denis has been able to do for Daniel - giving his boy a life of fun, knowledge and heart - Daniel has given his dad more than Denis could ever have imagined. 

When I got home from Shrek, Allison, Amy and I went to see "Chef."  What a delightful movie.  John Favreau was Chef Carl Casper,  divorced from Inez (Sophia Vergara).  Together they had a 10 year-old son named Percy (Emjay Anthony).  The relationship that developed between Dad/Carl and Son/Percy with some coaching initially from Mom/Inez was not only touching but illustrated how critical it was for Dad to take the plunge from focusing on himself to his child and addressing his son's craving for a connection with him.  Dad was able to pass down his grit, humiliation and love for cooking, all of which would've been lost without his son to want to soak up these life lessons and perhaps pass down to his own kid.  Movie review aside, while the child here truly needed his dad, and maybe not the other way around, the relationship brought each other what no one else in the world could have.   

I can't vouch for Favreau, but I can state with 100% certainty that Minches and Cohen are fine men who became fine fathers by the very children whose lives they in large part shaped.    

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Captive Audience

Not to be too dramatic, but Bluetooth has changed my life.

And not because I use it much.  I'm really not in my car long enough most days to have conversations with anyone on my contact list, as my commute to work is only about 5 minutes. 

However, I am behind the wheel long enough to have conversations with myself - aloud - about anything and everything.  I can ask myself how I'm doing, tell a joke, attempt to resolve a conflict, argue a point, clarify a concern, or present a decision. I can experiment with my words until I find the right ones to say and that sound right to hear.  I  can play the part of me or someone else or create dialogue between two parties.  I can even tell myself all the secrets I promised not to tell anyone. 

And the greatest thing of all is that I can do all these things while LOOKING like I'm talking to SOMEONE ELSE on my Bluetooth, with no one from the outside looking in able to conclude that I'm talking to myself.  This is an absolutely brilliant outgrowth of an absolutely brilliant invention.

Now don't get alarmed. I don't think I'm beginning to unravel.  In fact, before I wrote this blog, I googled "people who talk to themselves," because obviously if it seemed questionable, I wouldn't advertise that I do this, nor would I recommend as I'm doing now that YOU try it too. 

But I looked at tons of links applauding people who talk to themselves and it seems to be general consensus that talking to oneself about matters requiring action or decision-making is time well spent; in fact, it's good for one's mental health. Throw in a little schmoozing for good measure.

For the record, I'm not saying that I look forward to yapping to myself every time I anticipate getting in the car or that I'd rather talk to myself than someone else, and anyone reading this whose help I count on knows this is true.  Nonetheless, there's nothing like feeling absolutely free to say whatever I want and not being held accountable because it's just between me, myself and I.

And because I so enjoy this new lifestyle trick, I say to you...

Don't knock it till you've tried it!  

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Ctrl Alt Del

I have a love-hate relationship with my computer.

My computer is either one of the best things that's ever happened to me or one of the worst. 

These are my top 3 reasons why it's the best:  1 - I enjoy connecting with friends, family and professional acquaintances, thanks to E-mail, Facebook and LinkedIn; 2 - My favorite hobby - writing - is much easier on a computer than with pen and paper or typewriter and carbon paper, and the simplicity with which I change my words and punctuation feeds so perfectly into my editing obsession; 3 - Shopping.       

And  my #1 all-encompassing reason why having a computer is the worst thing is because I can spend endless hours doing my top 3 reasons above, day after day, year after year.  This gives me little time for anything else.

My husband David kissed me goodbye around 5:30 a.m. the other morning to take a train in Trenton for a New York City meeting.  Normally when I'm up that early in the morning and Shea Doggy is still asleep, I'd mosey on over to my computer and poke around until the pup reminds me it's time for our walk.  I could sit at my desk for 2 minutes or 2 hours. 

This time, however, there was no point in heading over to my desk because my computer had crashed the day before and so I was computer-less.  What's a girl like me to do with this change in routine?

So I headed downstairs, Shea Doggy followed, and we went outside for a lengthy walk. Luckily it was light this time of day, this time of year.  I checked the clock when we got back in:  5:50 a.m.  Now what?  I didn't have to leave for work for 2 hours.    

A compelling desire to feed my soul took over.  I sat down with the newspaper and a cup of hot perfect...until I glanced at the microwave clock for some reason - habit, I suppose - and saw that it was 6:30 a.m.  Unfortunately noting this time triggered an urgency to get one "quick wash" load of laundry out of the way, and then it was back to my work-now-relax-later mode of operation which included putting away the piles of laundry that would've sat for a week, making my bed which I rarely do, cleaning out the frig and straightening up all sorts of other areas I often neglect.   

Of course I had to brag to David about how productive I had been, and without missing a beat he took credit for it, telling me his good-bye kiss filled me with adrenaline. 

Two days later, I had a new desktop machine, compliments of his hobby of building computers. 

And my laundry has already begun to pile up.