Monday, December 30, 2013

Letting Go Is Hard

Last night, I left my daughter with my oldest son and his girlfriend to drive my middle son to his friend's house to spend the night. I hopped in the car and suddenly, out of nowhere, started to tear up. What it was I couldn't name right then. But I knew the feeling. It was the feeling of losing. Of having to let go. Jack is very perceptive and picked up on my mood right away. "You okay mom?"
"Yeah. I don't know. I guess."
"What's wrong?"
"Nothing is wrong, really. I'm just... you guys are just... growing up really fast."
"Oh. Like Connor has his girlfriend over, and I'm going to my friend's...?"
"Yeah. Exactly. Silly, huh?"
"No. I'm still your little boy."
He hugged me then, before jumping out of the car, with all the confidence of a successful adult.
I allowed a few of those tears to fall in the few minutes I spent alone in the car on the way back home.

Letting go is hard.

I remember being sixteen. I had no clue - just no idea whatsoever - that my mom might have been going through growing pains of her own in my growing up and away. I was so very immersed in my own world. A typical, selfish teen, finding her own place, her own way. My friends were my world. Where did she fit?

And today, where do I fit in my boys' respective worlds? I hate to think I'm just the dictator. The homework task master. The rule enforcer. The dinner-maker and clothes washer. I would so much prefer to be the confidant, the friend, the wise woman they might look up to. Hey - check out our mom - ruler of her own universe - business owner, healthy, boot-camping, Insanity-crushing warrior!

Letting go is hard.

And not just as a parent. As a lover. A friend. A partner. Knowing when to let go is painful in itself. Trusting the instinct, even when everything looks great "on paper." When we know in our hearts, from somewhere deep inside maybe we can't even explain - it just "is" - we have to learn to trust that, and know that it's enough. It is enough.

Or when your heart wants so much to hold on, but your head knows. Your head knows that it is time. Beyond time, maybe, to say goodbye. But I digress.

Letting go is hard.

I just finished a beautifully written novel by John Green called "The Fault In Our Stars." How, I still wonder, right in this moment, how did he write that novel? How did he flesh out those characters? How? Because it seems so easy - for him. I am dually touched and tormented by this heart breaking book. Not just because it is sad - which it is. But because it's so honest. It's so real. Yes of course the author Hazel admires is a jack ass. Certifiable. Of course he is. Because only in a cheesy, Harlequinn romance or sappy Danielle Steele book would he be a true keeper of dreams. A hero. It's just not real. Real life hurts.

So does letting go. It hurts. And it is hard.

But if we do it correctly, with love and respect, then maybe the pain will be worth it in the end.
Because I believe that you learn more about a person at the end of a relationship than you ever could at the beginning.

How do you handle the letting go? It can be a painful, angry slice of the wrist. Or it can be agonizing and slow, but beautiful in its own way. It may hurt more to let it happen gradually, to feel the hurt. To understand the reasons and just be okay with it all. But, just as raising our kids, and then watching them slowly, sometimes painfully, learn their own way, we can look back and know we did the right thing. We can't hold on forever, but maybe we don't have to completely let go. There are bound to be stops and starts, bumps in the journey. But it's all a part of the life we're living. And someday we'll look back and smile through our tears and remember it all. The good, the bad, the heartbreak and the joy.

And maybe, just maybe, these children I worry about constantly and love more deeply than I can say will one day look at me and be grateful. And know that deep, crazy love I have for them. And they'll be better for it. Smarter. Successful. Happy.

Letting go is hard.

But maybe it's not forever.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Merry Christmas! OR... Holiday Shoppers You Love To Hate

Last year, I wrote a little blog post about the various types of shoppers I run into during the Christmas season. I thought I'd repost the list, and even add to it this year. So, hey, if this post reminds you ofa certain type of shopper you are forever running into (and never able to avoid), please feel free to add your own description in the comments!

I couldn't be happier that I am officially done with my Christmas shopping. I finished it up this past weekend, traveling from mall to mall to get everything checked off my list. The parking lots were a train wreck, but we Catholics have a very special prayer for that. So, I drove slowly, weaving through the lanes of vehicles, praying quietly... "Hail Mary, full of grace, help me find a parking space." It always works... eventually.

Every year, as I fight my way through the crowds, I bump into the same types of shoppers over and over again…

The Professional Shopper...On a Mission (from God)

This gal takes no mall prisoners.  She walks with a purpose, cutting a swath through the throng of holiday shoppers that would impress Moses. She checks off the items neatly listed in her iPhone notes page one by one, heads to the check out where she whips out that debit card (not a credit card for this pro, no, she's got her budget down to a science) like she's ten paces out in an old western.

The Stressed Mom
Not only has she lost the napkin on which was scribbled her list of gifts to buy, but she can't find the damn coupons she's been saving for just this day...this ONE day that she was able to escape without the kids. She's got exactly two hours and 14 minutes left to get ALL of her shopping done. Her husband just called to ask her where the number for Pizza Hut is, and she can hear screaming in the background. She starts grabbing things - any things - off shelves in an effort to buy something - anything. She fishes in her purse for a credit card - any credit card - and pulls out used tissues, a pacifier and a half-eaten sucker in the process.

The Lost Husband

He knows he hasn't bought a single gift yet, but he's so enjoying himself at the Apple store. When he finally realizes the mall closes in 45 minutes, he gets nervous and heads straight for the only place he knows he'll find something his wife will like...the jewelry store. There he stands, hands leaning on the glass, eyes peering into the long wall of cases. A diamond heart necklace is on sale - especially for the holidays - the ad says every woman wants one.  He is about to do something he'll later regret, but right now, the game is still on, and he could use a beer. So he buys two: one for his wife, and one for his mother. Poor bastard.

The Hungry/Tired/Bored Toddler (aka "Screaming Kid")
There's one in every mall, isn't there?  Poor thing. She's been dragged around for hours, had a lunch of dry cheerios and a seventeen minute nap in the car, and is made to walk right past all the shiny toys, beautiful dolls and cozy stuffed animals.  No, her mama tells her, you must wait until Christmas.  Here come the tears.  The kicking.  The screaming.  The making-my-whole-body-like-wet-spaghetti-so-you-can't-pick-me-up-and-drag-me-out-of-here.  What this child needs is a babysitter.  And an hour of fresh air.

The Young Couple In Love
These two are joined at the hip. They simply must stay together, and no mere shopping mortal will pull their hands apart, even for a moment. They swing their connected arms up over children, dance around groups, squeeze in closer to let people pass around them. But try to walk between them and you’ll get “Red Rover-ed” right into the sunglass kiosk. They’ve got lots of shopping to do, and their eyes are on… each other. So much so that they bump into anyone who dares to stop in front of them. They ohh and ahh over the same merchandise, share a pretzel and fountain soda at the food court, and don’t’ get a single present bought, other than those matching sweaters they found.

The Besties
(this one's for you, Kim...)
These two gals are the best of friends. And holiday shopping is just one of their time-honored annual traditions. From the moment they are in the car together, they have much to catch up on. Other drivers on the road should beware... the one driving is paying more attention to her BFF's latest story than to the traffic signals. Once they arrive, they focus hard on finding a parking spot, and then promptly forget the location in all of their extremely important conversations. Inside the mall, their pace matches that of their mouths, and they speed-walk past half the stores they might shop in - if they were paying more attention. They each buy a gift or two, and one or two things for themselves before deciding it's really just too difficult to carry on these important conversations and shop at the same time. Lunch break!  One appetizer and two glasses of wine later, they are feeling much more relaxed. So much so, that they each buy themselves something to wear next weekend. They weave through the crowds like professional track stars, hitting sales and picking up a few odds and ends and then... would you look at the time? It's happy hour! The time spent searching for their car eats up a bit of their happy time, but they end up at favorite restaurant with a glass of wine, great conversation and, well, a few items checked off their respective lists.

Don’t you just love the holidays?

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Raising Jackson: On Saying Good Riddance (Oops, I mean Goodbye) to 13

In my experience as a mom, thirteen is a tough age. I get that it's not so easy for the thirteen year old either.

But, tomorrow (Nov. 13), my sweet, fun, engaging, big-hearted, stubborn-as-all-hell middle chid, JACK will be 14. FOURTEEN! YAY! That means we can all kiss that blasted 13 goodbye.  Whew!

Hey... we made it Jack!  We did it.

Didn't we?


I had parent-teacher conferences last week. And I was worried, because between you, me and the fence post (oh, and everyone else in the world who will read this), Jack isn't much for silly things like, say, homework. Or studying. Or... homework.

But one of his teachers said to me, "Jack is going to be just fine. In fact, he'll be more than fine. Because there isn't a company or organization in the world who wouldn't want Jack to be a part of it." And ya know what? She's right. When Jack steps through the door, there are a few things you can count on...

1. You'll know his mood within seconds. No guessing how he feels. No wondering whether he's feeling good or bad about something. Jack wears his heart on his sleeve.

2. Jack cares. Good or bad, right or wrong. Jack has an opinion, and he is not afraid to share it.

3. Jack wants to help. Really, truly, he wants to be a big part of whatever it is you need. And if someone is struggling - upset, sad, angry, confused... Jack knows how to make things okay. He just does.

It's ironic I think, that Jack has always been the one who can calm his little sister down whether she's having a massive, floor-kicking tantrum or a full-on crying jag. The ironic part? Half the time, he's the cause of it.

But, I digress. That's Jack. He's like the perfect fiction writer - putting his protagonist up in a tree, then throwing rocks at him, and then, well, helping him down.

I don't know if we're out of the woods yet, as far as Jack's teen angst is concerned. But I'm hopeful that as he matures, he'll continue learning to control his temper, find value in hard work and most of all, know how much I love him.

He'll be heading to high school next year, and I'm looking forward to watching him grow into an amazing young man, with passion, talent and, most of all, heart.

Here's to my son. Willful, loving Jack. And in honor of his BIRTHDAY, a few of my favorite Jack-isms from the past 14 years:

"Bitch, Mama. It's Son of a Bitch" (age 2, as he rounded the corner where I was on the phone. Upon hearing his little feet, I stopped in mid-sentence, i.e. "Son of a...").

"Mama? Did you see her lips?!" (age 3, as he passed an "older" - 4-year old girl on the playground at preschool who was wearing a pink, leather Barbie jacket and applying Bonnie Bell lip smackers)

"Hi Mister Bear!" (age 4, as he walked along the oceanfront with his grandparents and passed a very large, very hairy man).

"Well, why don't you just leave that husband of yours at home?" (age 5, to one of my dear - and attractive - friends, Kris, who had just told little Jack that she would meet us all for dinner as soon as her husband, Joe, got home).

Good stuff.

Last night, Jack and I spent a bit of time at the orthopedic surgeon's office at Mercy Hospital. Turns out, he broke his ring finger. Again. This time, on the right hand. (This has been a TOUGH year for jack... broken knee cap, torn MCL, two broken fingers. Enough already!)

As we were leaving the building, we walked by a woman and her daughter. The little girl's arm was in a cast and a sling. She was about 8 (Jack's sister's age).  Jack slowed down, turned and smiled at the two of them. "Did you break a bone?" he asked the little girl. She nodded politely, shyly. "Look! I broke one too! You must be brave like me. How did you do it?" Turns out she plays soccer, too. "I bet you're the fastest on your team, huh?" he continued chatting with her until we reached the parking garage. Her mom was blown away by his kindness. I was, too. But I wasn't surprised in the least.  That's my Jack.

Happy Birthday Kiddo... May 14 be your best year yet!

I love you to the moon and back.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I Don't Quote Shakespeare OR You Can Still Be a Duck

Every author has their own formula for writing a successful book. As a life-long reader, full-time writer and wanna be successful author, I've watched (or read) many interviews with authors, even conducted one or two of my own. Most of them will tell you they've always wanted to be a writer. Many of them will describe their process of outlining a story, not just in their head, but on great big sheets of craft paper pinned to their writing-room wall, showing plots, characters. I have even heard a few admit that they know the last line of the book before they write the first.

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a live interview with author Lee Child. Child writes the Jack Reacher series (of Tom Cruise movie fame) - he's written 18 so far. I've read the first three, and while I thought they were page turners, I wouldn't say his prose would win him any literary awards.

But here's the thing. He doesn't care. He thinks of himself as an entertainer, rather than a writer. A few more things about the amiable Lee Child I didn't know:

1. He never wanted to be a writer.  Child worked in television until, well, he was fired. Then, he spent $6 on a new career... three legal pads, a pencil, and a pencil sharpener (he still has the pencil).

2. He's curious by nature, and does all his own research for each book. And if you've read any of the Reacher books, you know there's a great deal of detailed information.

When he decided to write a book, he thought about his main character first. He didn't want to create another "James Bond" with the cool name, tuxedos and fast cars, so he created a character with no job, no car... a regular guy, born and raised in the military. He needed a "regular" name. The first name came easily: Jack. And the last name, well that's #3...

He was at the grocery store (a chore he'd inherited after he'd lost his job) and an older woman had called him "a tall drink" and asked if he could reach something up on a high shelf for her. He did. His wife told him if the book thing didn't work out, he could always go to work for the grocery store. As a "reacher." And 'Jack Reacher' was born.

Here's something else he said that stuck with me: He writes what his mind's eye sees. To wit: his editor was reading a draft of one of his books once and made the comment "Shouldn't this (event) come after this one?" Child replied, "Well, it would make more sense... but that's not how it happened."

I am one of these writers. When I sit down to work on any fictional piece, whether it's a short story or a section of my "book in progress," I have no idea what will go down on the page. I tell the story as it's happening in my mind. Sometimes a character gets herself in a bind, even when i don't want her to, but I can't make my characters do what they want - they simply tell me what they are going to do. Odd, I know. So, it was validating to hear that a "gen-u-ine" author does things the same way.

When I was in college, I took several fiction writing classes. Each one of them was held in the room of an old house, painted white about a hundred times on the outside, and in need of a new coat on the inside. The professor was always in a jacket with elbow patches, or a faded black leather jacket: the typical writing professor or the one who wants to set himself apart as "the real thing."

Anyway, the classes were always small - 10-15 students max. And the great majority of them would talk about how they must write, how they'd been writing all their lives, how words move them, man. They'd spout literary terms and pedantic prose, and throw Shakespeare and Faulkner around like athletes toss batting averages and passing yards. I was always afraid to admit that while, yes, I'd always loved to read, and yes, I did write as a kid, and even wanted to be a writer, I never did take a liking to shakespeare.

I never belonged to a Poet's Society - Dead or otherwise.

But I digress. I think the point I'm trying (maybe not very well) to make, is that each of us brings something different to our craft. To follow the mold that someone else has created, or to think we have to fit into a framework of what a writer (or any other profession, for that matter) should look like, talk like, act like, well, that's just boxing us in. What makes a work of art so wonderful is the uniqueness of the artist. The color that their own life experiences bring.

If you've dreamt of becoming a duck, but you don't look or sound or walk like all the other ducks out there, so what?  It was Steve Jobs who urged college graduates to break the dogma. He dreamt of merging art and science - computers and art - into one beautiful, brilliant machine. And he did. Not because everyone else thought like him - in fact, very few did. But because he realized that his own vision was possible, simply because he'd thought it.

Create your own vision. One that is unique to you.  If you believe completely in who you are and what you can accomplish, those around you will believe it, too.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Thing About Fear OR Have a Little Faith

A quick story:

I was about 8 years old. My family was spending the day at Six Flags. If you've ever been to the one here in St. Louis, you know that there is an old, wooden roller coaster called The Screaming Eagle. Now, I was never much for roller coasters (or heights, or small spaces... but I digress), but I was standing just outside the roped-off lines for that particular ride with my dad and brother, when he asked who would go with him. Naturally, I thought my brother would do it - he was three years older, which automatically made him braver in my eyes. But, he declined. My dad tried convincing him to no avail. Then he turned to me and raised an eyebrow. And despite being a nervous wreck, I jumped at the chance to ride it. It wasn't the thrill that convinced me. It was the look on my dad's face. I knew my bravery would make him proud, and give me bragging rights over my big brother. A win-win!
(author's note: Hey Dad, sorry about biting your shoulder, I can still picture the little, red teeth marks puncturing your freckled skin...)

As I got older, I was the kid who always took the Dare when we played Truth or Dare. I was the one who stepped up to be adventurous. I was really just playing tough. I wasn't so brave, I just enjoyed the attention. As a mom, it's probably not a quality you want your kids (especially teenagers) to have. This I fully understand. But at the time, it was great.

Despite my "pretend bravery" I've never really been much of a risk taker. And especially as I've gotten older, my priorities have certainly shifted. Motorcycle joy rides? Not for me. What if something happened to me? I have three kids to raise! Quit my job and start my own company? Why would I do that when I've got a reliable salary, 401k, health insurance, paid vacation, sick days and personal time?

The thing about fear is, it's usually only present when we don't have the knowledge to overcome it. We're afraid of things about which we know little or nothing. We're afraid to take a leap of faith, because we can't know what will happen until after we've done so. It's a tough thing to overcome, this fear. But not impossible. Because the more we face it head on, the less frightened we'll become, the more experiences we'll accumulate and be able to draw from.

I was having dinner with my oldest son the other night, after a visit to a college fair. He was feeling a bit overwhelmed I think. All the choices, and the competition among the "best" schools. Worrying that maybe he wouldn't get in (with two AP classes and two Honors classes, he's got a heavy academic load his Junior year). I reminded him about all the things I never thought I could do, and did. And all the times he'd accomplished things he wasn't sure he would.

"Sometimes you just have to have a little faith," I said.

"In what?" he asked.

"In yourself. If you are the first one to tell yourself 'I can't' why should anyone else believe that you can?"

It's a conversation I'd been on the other end of a few months prior.

My dad and I were on twin kayaks out on the lake. I was voicing my fears about quitting my job, venturing out on my own. I'd really wanted to do it, but I had three kids to raise, high school tuition - and soon, college - to pay for. What if I couldn't make ends meet? What if I failed?

"What's the worst that could happen?" he asked me.

"The worst? Well, I guess it doesn't work and I have to get another job."

"Can you handle that?"

"Yeah, I suppose I could."

"Sometimes you just have to jump," he said with an easy shrug of his shoulders.

And so I did.

On August 1st, I turned my name into an LLC. After years of regular paychecks, I'm making my own dime. If I don't work, I don't get paid. Sick days? Nope. Vacation? Not unless I want to go without income for a week.

But, here's the exciting part: the possibilities are absolutely endless! Doors are opening left and right, I'm writing more, spending less time fighting rush hour traffic, and getting the opportunity to share my expertise, and work on many different projects, brands and initiatives. I'm exploring new options and meeting people who share my passion for writing, for helping individuals, companies and brands communicate more effectively to reach their goals. It's more than I could have hoped for. I'm also home to put my daughter on the bus every morning, and here when all three of my kids get home after school. And I can't put a price on that.

But I digress. Sometimes the thing that frightens us the most is the thing we want most. If you are the biggest thing standing in the way of your hopes and dreams, well then... get the hell out of the way.

As Sheryl Sandberg asks, via her Lean In initiative, what would you do if you weren't afraid?

*Thanks for stopping by my personal blog. If you're interested in social media, marketing, content and/or small business, I'd love for you to stop by my business blog!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The In Between

There are oh, so many poseable moments in life. They are the moments most of us dream about... The first day of high school, senior prom, high school graduation, that weekend trip to the lake with all your besties - the one you still talk about about 20 years later. First day of college, the big engagement, the wedding day, sunset on your honeymoon, the day your first child is born... We can follow these moments in photographs because they are captured this way. Still images of a perfect life. Of making our dreams come true.

I was thinking the other day about these moments with my kids. As my oldest son begins his Junior year of high school, I find myself reminiscing about when he started kindergarten.  I have folders and boxes of photographs of all those milestone moments from his first 16 years. But when I think - really think - about all the most precious memories I have with him, it's not the photographed ones that come to mind.

It's the moments in between...

It's the late nights when he had trouble falling asleep, and I'd climb into his bed and read to him by flashlight so as not to wake his little brother, snoring softly in the next bed.

It's the impromptu snack after a rough day at school, sitting on the front steps licking peanut butter off our fingers, and staring at the little cowlick on the back of his head, hoping I never forget the way that looks. Or the way he smelled. Like a little boy; all peanut butter and play forts and popsicles.

It's the first nights after his dad moved out when I watched him walk from door to door at bedtime, just to make sure we were all locked up tight.

I have these with all three of my kids; those moments not captured on film.

Like the time we were in a car accident; The airbag dust had settled, and we'd determined no one had been seriously hurt. The police and ambulance had arrived, we were all standing on the side of the road, and I looked over to see Jack holding Ella in his arms, whispering to her that everything would be okay.

The time Connor had surgery and Ella got her entire kindergarten class to make a big get-well card. She'd written I Love You in big, bubble letters and when she handed it to Connor, he had blinked back tears and whispered "thank you."

The trip to Atlanta, when all three kids fell asleep, their heads on each others shoulders.

But I digress. These are the unplanned moments. The memories we don't realize are being made until after they happen.

I was talking to a friend the other day, who is going through a divorce. He mentioned that looking back, he can certainly recall good times they shared. The photographable moments. The requisite "romantic getaways," the family trips, moving days. And I realized as he was talking, that these in between moments are also very apropos to relationships. Sure, we've got our wedding photo in a frame, the ten-year anniversary trip to Mexico, births, and first-times galore. But what about those in betweens? If only we knew how very important those moments really are.  More important, maybe, than the manufactured ones. For these moments - these in betweens - are where the living is. The magic, really, that makes it all worthwhile.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Thoughts from Pre-Op

I find myself in familiar territory this morning. We've been through this before, Connor and I. The routine is the same each time. We arrive two hours prior to surgery. I sign the forms. He changes into the worn, blue scrubs. The nurses come in and I nod. Yes, i understand. No, he doesn't have any other conditions. Yes, he does have an allergy to dissolvable sutures. He watches sports on the TV hanging from the wall. I watch him. 

Yep, we've been here before, Connor and I. Six times before to be exact. But this time is different. This time, his little sister is having surgery, too. Her first. Their doctor will take out two chondromas from each of them. I've been promised that they will be able to share a room afterwards.

But right now I am so torn. They are in adjoining pre-op rooms. Their dad sits watching sports with Connor, and I lie with Ella in her hospital bed. We play 20 questions. And she asks 20 more. About her surgery, about recovery, about the nurses, the medicine, the doctors, the pain. I answer slowly, carefully. And smile. So that she knows everything's going to be fine. She's going to be fine. 

I love you, she says to me, prompting me to say our nightly ritual.

I love you, too, baby.

I love you more.

I love you most.

I hear the nurse in Connor's room. It is time for his IV. "Would you like to play 20 questions with daddy for a few minutes?" I ask Ella. She smiles and nods her ascent. Daddy and I switch places.

They prep Connor's hand for the IV. He gives me his free hand to hold. We talk about the Panic! concert he and his brother went to last night until the IV is in and taped. 

A few minutes later, I hear the nurses in Ella's room and switch again. I want to be in both rooms. I NEED to be in both rooms. In Ella's room, the nurse is preparing to give her a liquid medicine to calm her. At 7, she won't get an IV until she's asleep. It tastes yucky, I am told. I nod. I know.

I know.

Inside of a minute she is giggling.  I lie down beside her, look into her hazel eyes. 
"Are you having surgery, too, Mama?" She is being silly with me, but her question pierces my heart.


Oh, yes.

In my heart, I am having two.

The morning goes this way, back and forth from room to room.  At one point, I stand in their adjoining bathroom, just so that I can see both of them at the same time.

Soon, they are ready to take Ella back. Thankfully, she is still feeling silly. Probably won't remember any of this. The doctor explains that they will take her back and have her breath into a mask. She'll fall asleep quickly, then get her IV. They run through the technical and I nod. Swallow around the lump in my throat.

Hey guys, this is my baby.

The nurse looks at me. We're going to take very good care of your little girl. I nod, thankful. I don't speak. I can't. 

Her daddy and I kiss her one last time. 

"I love you most," I whisper into her ear.

Connor and Ella blow kisses to each other. 

It's difficult to put into words what it's like to watch them wheel your child down to the OR. 

It is fear.

It is helplessness.

It is love. So much love.

And it is prayer. Always prayer.

It is times like these that I am thankful for my faith. For my ability not to question what's real, and what's imaginary. What is fable. What is fact. I hope that all three of my children find a strong faith that they can call on in times of helplessness. For what else do we have? Even Connor, who is driven by logic, facts, science. I understand all of that. I respect his questions, I understand his doubt. I have my own.

But not now. Now I pray. 

But I digress. Connor has fallen asleep waiting for his turn in the OR, a mix of exhaustion from a late night and nerves.

We've been through this before, Connor and I. And in fact, I've been through this once already this year. Jack dislocated his knee and broke his kneecap on the first day of Spring Break.  Literally 2/3 of his kneecap came off in the dislocation. In the OR, the surgeon repaired his tendons and then put the puzzle piece of kneecap back in place. Held it there with three pins that were removed in a follow-up surgery four weeks later.  

Hospitals are not new to this family. But all three of my kids in one year? That's a lot. 

But I digress. It has been said that if everyone threw their problems into a pile, we'd all rush to grab back our own. It's true. I am grateful that when the nurse runs through the checklist of health issues, I can answer "no" to each one. I am thankful that they will both get to go home in 24 hours (God willing), when so many other kids are here for extended stays.  There are so many things I am thankful for. There are so many emotions I could write about.

But not now.  Now, I pray.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Here's To The Good Ones

There are just two weeks - TWO! - left of our summer vacation. How did this happen? It seems that every year, the summers go by faster and faster. I was reminded recently that I hadn't posted a new blog since May. That's not to say that I haven't written. Far from it. I've written one short story, two magazine pitches, and a slew of marketing proposals in that time. I've also written about a thousand text messages (and yes, these count - of course - when you are super anal about using the Queen's English regardless of the medium).

Really though, I'd like to think that I've just been living. Enjoying these last weeks of summer with my family and friends.

Speaking of friends, I just spent the better part of a weekend at our lake house at Innsbrook with a very dear friend from high school (and her darling husband). She remembers more of those four years than I do... I'll admit that while I was in high school I worked very hard at trying to get out. I think I was trying so hard to grow up, to be an adult, that I missed out on being a kid.

I dated guys who had already graduated, I worked with college kids, and hung out with my older brother's friends the majority of the time. Which means I missed some important milestones - like my senior prom - simply because I thought they were childish. Which sounds absolutely foolish now, but nevertheless - it was true enough at the time.

I can remember at nineteen, my boyfriend telling his best friend (who was ten years older than me and married with two kids) that I was great, specifically because "She doesn't act her age... She's very mature." As though acting my age would have been a crime. Honestly, I was 19. I believe I was expected to act 19. The teen years are meant to be a bit selfish. A time of self-discovery.  Ah, but I skipped all of that (which is precisely why I went through it - finally - in my early thirties).

But I digress.

Lisa was a dear friend to me back then. We had some good times, lots of laughs. We reconnected during our 20th reunion, and then again about a month ago at dinner with another dear friend from "back in the day." And decided that a weekend on the lake would be a blast.

The weather was uncharacteristically cool and we spent the afternoon on the boat (out of the water) fishing, talking... just catching up.  A few drinks and appetizers later we headed down to the field for a country music concert under the stars, followed by more drinks around a bonfire. It was one of those weekends I'll remember, not just because of the beautiful weather or the great food, but because I realized that this person I met way back when, our Freshman year of high school, whom I liked immediately, is still someone I like immensely as an adult.  She has the same characteristics that have always made her special: genuine kindness, a great sense of humor and an easy going personality.

So, while I haven't been doing a lot of blogging, I have been doing a lot of living, laughing, relaxing and enjoying my time. It's precious, I know, because it does not last forever. Unlike friendship. The good ones, I've found, last a lifetime.