the nest

the nest

Friday, December 13, 2013

end of the year

This is my last post of 2103.  This year is winding down and I'm ready.  I just watched a brief story on some of the families from Sandy Hook.  Tomorrow is the anniversary of that terrible day one year ago when we witnessed unspeakable horror as a sick young man mowed down 20 babies and 6 brave teachers with weapons he shouldn't have ever had access to.
As that was all unfolding we were in our own personal hell as our sweet 16 year old was struggling with her own demons that threatened to take her away from us.  I sat in my car listening to the news as the death toll rose in Sandy Hook and at the same time waited in fear that my phone would ring with terrible news.
This year has been filled with grief and loss and fear.  Rather than help my children launch I have wanted to bring them back in and shelter them from an increasingly frightening world.
At the same time we struggled to hold it all together, our dear friend Ellen was fighting a much too short and terrible battle with cancer, passing away February 26th.  We grieved again.
With the help of friends and family and doctors we began to pull it together.  For Mother's Day we brought a silly little puppy who we named Thor into our life.  He has brought laughter, love and much joy to our life.  His penchant for eating rugs, baskets, and anything else has reminded us that it's just "stuff" and while we look forward to the day when he outgrows the puppy "chewing" stage, for now it's just "stuff."
I began to release my hold on my children and they made it through the summer dealing with their own mistakes in ways that we could be proud of.
August 16th as we celebrated the end of another awesome summer at Camp Calumet, we received the unbelievable and terrible news that Jeff's Dad had suffered a massive heart attack at 72 and died.  Never in a million years could we imagine that he wouldn't live into his 90's like his mother, Grandma Eleanor, who is still with us at 96.  We were thrown back into grief and sadness just when we were getting our footing back.
The year since then has been more or less normal ~ Our children are finding their way and I am so very proud of the people they are becoming.  Jeff and I are a little worse for wear and with 2014 will work towards taking better care of ourselves.
I'm tired.  I forget that I don't have to do this alone.  My family is surrounded by people who love us and care for us.  I forget that I believe in a God who is loving and kind.  I'm not always sure he (or she) is there, but when I find my faith, I feel calmer and more able to cope.
I'm angry with those who are in power but who do nothing to create a system of care for those who most need it, while filling their pockets with whatever they want.
I am grateful that the children I am sending into the world are more focused on social justice and peace than on accumulating stuff.
I'm hopeful that as this terrible year ends, the days will begin to get longer, the sun will shine and love will win.
I am thankful for the many blessings in my life ~ a partner who is always there for me, children who I love more and more everyday, family and friends who will never let me sink into despair, work that brings me joy.
I know 2014 will be a good year.  I will choose hope and joy and will spread it around liberally.
Like the families of Sandy Hook, I will choose LOVE.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hiding in the nest...

I knew it had been a while since I blogged, but had no idea how long!  Life has been busy and time flies by.  I've also been in my fall funk and felt like no one else needed to listen to me whine.  This time of year is such a puzzle ~ I love Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas, but I hate the shortening days, the cold New England rain, and am generally impatient and grumpy.  I am thankful for my life and everyone in it, but my brain chemistry craves sun and warmth and fights against my attempts to stay out in the world and "put on a happy face."
This is when the real introvert in me comes out.  I can think of nothing better than curling up on the couch with the dogs and a movie and a glass of wine or a cup of coffee.  I spend increasing amounts of time alone and when I do want to be social, it's with a small group of people with whom I am completely comfortable.
The challenge is my very extroverted job and public face.  I sing, dance and play!  I'm perpetually cheerful and full of energy!  I'm charged up and ready to help with whatever is needed!

Just thinking about it makes me tired!

Time to breathe, take some Vitamin D, then get ready to head out to a meeting and a rehearsal….

Life is good.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

the umbilical cord


There is nothing like starting the morning with drama.  It doesn't matter what kind of drama, it's just a tough way to start the day.  
Sometimes coffee and a little Today Show can change it up.
Other times a little puppy love does the trick.
Today, who knows.


The journey to launch children is often harder for mothers than fathers.  I know that I am way more intertwined with my children than their Dad is.  I birthed them, I nursed them, I sent them out to the world.  While the umbilical cord was cut at birth, there is an invisible one that remains.  

"Cut the cord!"  A phrase sometimes used when describing someone who can't seem to separate from his/her parents.

I get that - I hope that once my children head out into the world, they will never move back home again.  I want them to know they can if they need to, but I hope they won't.  I hope that we've given them the skills to take on the world and make it a better place.  I think we have.

I don't like the image of cutting the metaphorical umbilical cord though.  The physical one was cut and from that moment on, each of my children began moving away from me.  
There is an invisible one though that keeps me connected to them.  I don't think that's a bad thing.  

Maybe it's just that the cord should be loose and relaxed most of the time, but still connected.  Allowing them (or me) to pull a little tighter when necessary.
Maybe the trick is knowing when it is "necessary."

Knowing when your teenager needs to work something out for themselves and when they need your help can be hard.  It has always been hard for me to watch my children struggle through something EVEN THOUGH I KNOW THIS IS OFTEN WHEN THE MOST LEARNING TAKES PLACE.  What I'm learning though is that it is sometimes difficult for me NOT because of their struggle, but because of how I'm afraid it reflects on me.


It is their journey, not mine.  I need to not worry so much about how their journey reflects on me.  I am a good mom.  I am a good parent.  I have taught them well.  Some of the very choices they make that I struggle with are because we have raised them to think for themselves and not blindly follow the herd.

Maybe the "cord" is more like a safety rope when you're climbing.  It's there just in case.  The more responsible and independent they become the more slack you give them until you let it go and they are free.  

For now I will hang on so I can pull in a little tighter when necessary and I will continue to 


Monday, October 7, 2013

Random Monday morning thoughts...

It's been a while since I've visited.  This is a tricky time of year for me.  Lots going on and lots to coordinate.  At the same time, I struggle with the shortening days.  The dark mornings make it difficult to get moving and I have a hard time staying focused on whatever the "task at hand" might be.

I have a love/hate thing with Autumn.  The colors, smells, and the coolness are delicious.  I love soup and bread and chili and all foods that are for fall.  But the increasing darkness affects me in a way that is often frustrating, sometimes just annoying.  For a decade now I've acknowledged that SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is part of my make up and a low dose anti-depressant has been a useful tool to allow me to continue functioning through this challenging stretch of the year.  I don't like it, but can't function without it.

This fall, there have been so many ups and downs.  The sudden loss of my Father-in-Law, the perpetual financial stressors of our life, the state of our government, the challenges of raising teenagers... The joy and overwhelming success of our Peace, Love and Music Together Festival on International Peace Day, the love and support of family and friends, and the pleasures of raising teenagers.

Life continues to roll along and sometimes it's easy to "go with the flow" and other times I just want to dig my heels in and yell "STOP!"

So good to always remember that the days getting shorter means that they will start getting longer again soon.  Good to be gentle with ourselves and with others.  When we struggle, it's easy to forget that everyone else has their struggles too.

Be gentle.  Be kind.  Love others.  Breathe.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


2013 has been a suckish year.  I just looked over my last few posts and am tired of hearing myself complain!  I really have a pretty amazing life, but this year has been filled with grief, loss, illness and stress.  I've spent the year comforting, crying with, caring for and yelling at the people I love the most.  Each "beginning" I say "fresh start!" Beginning of Spring, beginning of summer, beginning of school... Each one has been tainted by grief.  As someone who generally dreads the shortening days, I look forward to the end of this year and a fresh beginning in 2014.

Our own personal grief and loss is one thing.  We can talk about it, process it, explain it.  People get sick, people die.  It's what happens.  All we can do is share memories and care for those left behind. It is a sad, but normal part of life.

What is difficult to wrap my brain around is the seemingly increasing grief and loss in the world.  Every time I turn on the radio, tv or computer, there's been another shooting or bombing.  Another mother is mourning.  Another father is weeping.  Mass shootings continue.  After each one, attention ramps up, but those with the guns and money are louder and more persistent and we go back to our lives while those directly affected try to pick up the pieces.  The amount of money spent on protecting the "rights" of gun owners, while we fight for every dollar for education, healthcare and even food, is outrageous.  We don't even realize how many gun deaths since Sandy Hook have happened.

We say that the bombings and massacres in the Middle East aren't OUR problem.  It's those "others."  We ignore them until it directly affects us and then we blame them, pushing us all further into "us" and "them."  Encouraging "them" to hate us.  They are DIFFERENT.  When a beautiful, smart young woman who happens to be an American of Indian descent, much like I'm an American of Norwegian descent, garners an obscene flurry of racist, hateful comments simply by being crowned Miss America, it's easy to see why the world might hate us.  WE ARE HATEFUL TO OUR OWN CITIZENS.  I'm ashamed.


I'm 45 years old and I struggle with trying to understand the hate and ugliness in the world.  My youngest is 14 and experiences waves of sadness that sometimes threaten to carry her away.  I can only assume that her personal sadness about losing Auntie Ellen and her Grandpa this year are made more intense by the sadness, grief and pain she sees in the world.  She is too old to shelter, but too young to understand. I can't explain it and I can't hide it or ignore it.


I can only choose to move forward.  We must TEACH our children to choose love and compassion.  We must TEACH them that caring for others is how they will save the world.  We must SHOW them that bullies don't win.  There is so much going on in schools around bullying, but where do we think it starts?  When do we pay as much attention to the grown-up bullies in our communities and governments?  The NRA?  BULLIES.  Tyrants and Dictators around the world?  BULLIES.
Children learn what they see and live and when they see the bullies getting the power and control, they learn that to be in charge you must be a bully too.


This Saturday, Sept. 21st is the International Day of Peace.  I will spend it with colleagues, friends, family and strangers, at Elizabeth Park in Hartford, CT.  From 10 am -1 pm we will be together.


We will TEACH our children that PEACE AND LOVE WIN.

We will TEACH our children that to change the world for the better we must COME TOGETHER.

We will TEACH our children that there is HOPE, but they must be STRONG and VOCAL.

We can STEP UP and be louder and more persistent about PEACE and LOVE or we can go on about our lives, shaking our heads, wringing our hangs and participating in memorials, while those with the guns and money and power allow our world to be destroyed by hate and violence.

What will you choose?

"It is not enough to teach children how to read, write and count. Education has to cultivate mutual respect for others and the world in which we live, and help people forge more just, inclusive and peaceful societies."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Love wins

Yesterday was 9/11.  An Anniversary we will forever remember.  I was a younger mom, grateful to be with my neighbor on a terrible day.  The next day I began my life's work with my first Music Together classes and that's what I choose to remember.  I will always remember that as sad as we were, coming together in a community to sing brought joy and healing to our community.

This year was different for me.  I didn't want to focus on the tragedy.  I wanted to get on with my day and sing and dance with the new families that came to my demo classes.  I found myself feeling uncharacteristically annoyed by some of the remembrances.  Don't get me wrong ~ I will always feel the pain of that day and the overwhelming swelling of pride at how we as a country came together.

I couldn't help thinking that all the "remembrances" and "memorials" in the world mean squat if we cannot get our act together and change how we live in the world.  If we cannot create a community that cares for the least of these and welcomes people of all races and religions and orientations to our shores, we will continue to allow hate to fester.

When we are bickering at the national level about ensuring that ALL children have enough food to eat and that ALL people should have access to basic health care, we ignore that when people are desperate, they do desperate things.

When time is spent protecting the "rights" of gun owners, and "memorializing" the hundreds of thousands of people killed by guns in the US, we send a message to the world that we don't care about the weakest of our citizens.

I spent much of my life watching what I said.  I didn't want to "offend" people or hurt their feelings or whatever.   Over the last 5 years, since I hit the magic 4-0, that's been changing.  Maybe that's what it is to finally grow up.  Maybe I've just gotten tired of listening to people talk nonsense.  Maybe my filter is faulty.  I still prefer to debate and discuss.  My intention is never to offend or hurt.

But I won't keep my mouth shut anymore when I see injustice or stupidity.

Caring for others is never a bad thing.  Looking the other way is unacceptable.  Blindly following the crowd is stupid.  I prefer to live my life with my eyes open, sharing love and kindness with the world.  Love will always win. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday quietness

It is so quiet this morning ~ Jeff is off to his first day of the new school year, the girls are still sleeping, and the dogs are enjoying their first nap of the morning.  I have a million things to do including making a list of those million things, but I'm not ready yet.  It's too quiet to get busy.

The last month has flown by and has been filled with many ups and downs.  The challenges of teenagers, travel, money and the joy of summer, friends, music and family.  I had plans to blog through our August adventures, but here we are at the end of the month.

The only adventure that sticks with me on this quiet morning is the most recent one.  The others are a little blurry.  A week and 2 days ago on August 16th, my Father-in-law, Tom Roets, passed away after a massive heart attack.  He was 72 and aside from mechanical things like knee and hip, back and shoulder issues, was relatively healthy.  An avid tennis player and golfer over the years, Tom took care of himself and with a family history of heart issues, was diligent about check ups and knowing the signs to watch for.

You just never know when or how you will go.

As I've spent the last few years mulling about launching my children I forgot that as my children age, I age and of course our parents age.  We've been lucky to have 3 sets of Grandparents.  My husband still has a Grandmother and his Grandpa Johnson has only been gone a few years, so our children will have memories of Great-Grandparents!  So amazing!
With age comes death.  It's inevitable, but we've made it so difficult. So much of our culture has made death the worst thing possible, but isn't it truly just part of life?  The more we accept it and allow ourselves to "be" with our feelings as we have them, the more it's not so awful.

I didn't think that I would spend so much of my children's teenage years helping them process death.  It seems like just as we feel we've processed someone's passing and moved on, someone else says goodbye.  Today is the 6 month anniversary of our friend Ellen's death (and her real birthday).  I don't want to think of who might be next, but it's hard not to.

Perhaps death is the ultimate "launching."
Many of us believe (or want to believe) that we go on to a better life after death.  Maybe instead of (or in addition to) funerals or memorial services we should have celebrations ~ "The Big Launch".

My very wise 17 year old said that she has decided that when you die it's like getting into another car.  She was imagining her Grandpa getting out of one car and into another one.  Perhaps a Ferrari.  I think that whatever helps her say goodbye to those she loves is awesome.

I am thankful that I believe in Heaven.  Launching the people I love into a black whole is terrifying.  Launching them into the next great adventure?  I like that idea better.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

Letting go, bit by bit...

The more I allow my children to be responsible for themselves the more I enjoy being with them.  

I think that one of the more difficult parts of parenting for me has been being patient enough to let my children be responsible for themselves.
How many of us have finished tying shoes, finished making beds, done assorted chores because they didn't get done, stayed up to finish projects?
Sometimes it has just been easier to do it myself.  Not useful to my children I'm afraid.
As I've been focusing more and more at letting them deal with the "consequences," good and bad, of their actions, and being there for them without trying to "make it better", I've realized how many things I have not allowed them to do as they've gotten older.  They are more than capable people and can pretty much do whatever we put in their lap, but too often, I get impatient and do it myself.
In the past when I thought about this, I would worry that they would never learn how to take care of themselves, a home, or others.  What I see now is that they are more than capable of doing those things.  It isn't hard to learn how to do laundry or clean a bathroom or kitchen.
The negative impact comes in where our relationship is concerned.  When I give a child a task, then get frustrated when it doesn't get done (or done well enough), the real loser is me.  I get annoyed, either do the task or not, and then don't enjoy that particular child.
When I give a task, insist it gets done and then stay out of the way, I have a whole different feeling about the same child.
This past weekend, the youngest needed to clean her room.  She also wanted to go shopping.  I said there was no shopping until the room was clean.  The room got clean, shopping got done, and I thoroughly enjoyed time with my child.  The difference?  I didn't set foot in the room being cleaned.  I STAYED OUT OF THE WAY.  Did she get everything she wanted?  No - shopping was much shorter than she had anticipated as it took way too long to clean her room, so time was limited.  Did she get upset?  No.  She knew that was the consequence of taking too long.
Now this is kind of no brainer where chores and other concrete activities are involved.  The advanced level is keeping myself emotionally detached from their feelings.  As kids get older, life happens and life is not always fun.  Problems arise and while I think that it's important to "be there" for them, I have to stop feeling responsible for helping them "feel better."  I am not responsible for their feelings and can only try to keep my own emotions from complicating a situation that is not mine to deal with.  Thoughts for them.
1) Life doesn't always feel good
2) Sometimes we learn the most from the hardest situations
3) Know when to ask for help
4) Pray, meditate, breathe
5) One way or another it works out
6) You don't have to "do it yourself"
7) Stay true to yourself and your core beliefs

Watching children grow up is bittersweet.  They grow up and move on and that is as it should be.  Why waste time being annoyed?  Perhaps if our time together is relaxed and happy they will continue to come back to play.  Perhaps if their "situations" don't turn me into a bundle of drama, they will feel less responsible for my emotional well-being and more comfortable coming home to just be.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


The past week has been a busy and tough one.  Hot and sticky with marginal air-conditioning.  A whole Spring worth of yard work to do before hosting 75+ on Saturday.  Re-entering life after vacation.  Trying not to think about finally saying goodbye to a friend.  Worrying about my children and their ability to say goodbye as well.

Our friend Ellen passed away February 26th after a frighteningly short fight with Pancreatic Cancer.  She was our friend and surrogate aunt.  Like other "family" members, we sometimes took her for granted.  When life is busy you forget to pay attention to the here and now and get wrapped up in the bits and pieces.

While her funeral was in her home state of Ohio shortly after her death, we needed to celebrate her life here in CT and so with her family's help, we held a Celebration of Life service at First Lutheran in Ellington and then had the first "Ellen Kates Memorial Kegger", so named by her nieces nephews.

5 months was a long time to avoid the reality that she was gone.  She traveled a lot and life floated along, so we could go chunks of time without contact.  Points when we painfully remembered she was gone:  Spring Concerts, Plays, and Dance Recitals.  With no extended family close by, Ellen never failed to come if she was in town.  Even when I would say "you really don't need to sit through a 2+ hour dance recital for 3 short dances" she would joyfully come!  We missed her this year and I'm sure we will miss her again.

Preparing for the party gave us an opportunity to "Do".  We kept busy in the oppressive heat, doing jobs that should have been done months ago.  Weeding, mulching, etc...  I learned what a tremendously hard worker my son can be.  While being home wasn't his plan this summer, having him home as we prepared for the weekend was a gift.  The day of the party, he stepped up as a true partner in hosting our guests.  I am so proud of the man he is becoming.

My daughter's were poised and articulate at the service.  They got up and spoke about their "Auntie Ellen" while I was unable to open my mouth.  They are becoming lovely, kind young women who can talk with almost anyone of any age.

My children helped me find my way through this goodbye and I suspect they will be there again as goodbyes in life are inevitable.  I'm so glad I have them.

Monday, July 15, 2013

It's not my life.

Lots of time over vacation to think about my children growing up and away.  This was our first vacation with just Helen.  Both big kids had already been in New Hampshire working - Andrew for 2 months, Katy for 3 weeks.  Both had opted to pass on a family reunion to stay and work with "their kids."  I knew I would miss them, but was proud that they made their own decisions and felt committed enough to their work to pass on a week of sun and fun with no responsibility.

July 4th as we were preparing to leave the next morning, we hear from Andrew that he is coming home.  He was in the "wrong place at the wrong time," and the camp policy is clear, so his time at Calumet for this summer ended suddenly.  He was devastated, but handled himself maturely, accepting responsibility, acknowledging that he needed to move forward and make the best of the rest of the summer.  He didn't place blame or cop an attitude.  He accepted how his life would change for the next few months, packed up and came home.

I was so upset!  Angry, disappointed, sad, frustrated and judgemental.  I left him a list of jobs to do while he was home and headed off on vacation.  I figured while I was away I would cool down.  I did until I heard from Katy who was devastated that her brother had left camp.  Two nights in a row I got late night calls from a tearful girl who had "lost her rock" and didn't think she could stay.  Two days I got mad all over again and worried that we would have to trek from Ohio to pick her up in New Hampshire.  Finally one night I said, if he's your rock, call him!  His response to her?  You have lots of "rocks" at camp.  Find them.  You'll be ok.  So far, he's been right.

We got home from vacation to find a house in relatively decent shape, a happy dog, and dinner cooking.  Why was I so pissed??  I couldn't bring myself to look at my handsome boy. I was so angry all over again.

Over the course of the night, I finally opened the conversation and heard the details of what had happened and truth be told, I've done worse in my youth.  It truly was a wrong place wrong time situation.  He's also the wrong age with many friends who are the "right" age which can make socializing sometimes tricky.  He was clear that what was done was done, but was not going to accept my trying to make it worse than it really was.

That night, all I could think was that my feelings about the whole situation were in many ways out of line.  As a parent is it reasonable for me to be angry and disappointed when my child messes up?  I suppose.  But if he was handling it maturely and moving on, what was my problem?  This wasn't about me, so why did it feel so personal?

It's not my life.  As parents we can get sucked into both taking too much credit for the good things our kids do and too much blame and guilt for the stupid things they do.  A friend of mine told me that by the time a child is 5, much of what you can teach them about life and how to handle it is learned.  From then on it's about gradually loosening the boundaries and sending them off to test the waters.  This includes making mistakes.  If we want them to truly learn from mistakes, we can't take responsibility for them.  If we want them to truly feel good about what they do well, we can't take credit for it either.

It's not my life.  I can't decide the path my children take.  I can hope that we have taught them what they need to know about making choices and accepting responsibility.  I can hope that find a path that leads them to a good life that makes the world a better place.  I must love and cherish them no matter what direction they go ~ they are my children, but their lives are their own to live.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Day of Independence

The 4th of July is about more than picnics and fireworks ~ like other holidays I think the meaning is sometimes lost in the "fun".
Growing up, 4th of July was a big deal.  My parents love their country and we always celebrated in some way, often with a powerful moment of remembrance in addition to the picnics and fireworks that were always a part of it.  In 1976 I remember going to Fort Snelling in MN with my cousins.  I'm not even sure it was actually on the 4th, but in 1976, the 4th of July lasted for several days!
When our first child was a baby, we went to the fireworks in Boston with college friends and aside from the crush of people, had a great time.  The Boston Pops and the Fireworks were amazing - being with so many others to celebrate our country's birthday was amazing!
What saddens me is that these days I don't feel the same way.  
I grew up feeling incredible pride in my country and I still love it and am thankful that this is my home.  After traveling in Eastern Europe in 1988, I will never take my freedom for granted.
 My children have grown up in a different world than I did.  I know that the US wasn't perfect in the 70's and 80's, but there was a different sense of respect for the overall position of our country and those leading it.  Big mistakes like Watergate, were obviously taken on, but we didn't follow every move every legislator made and they didn't "tweet" everything they did. We didn't OBSESS about our leaders being personally FLAWLESS.  Maybe we did, but knew less because our access to their personal lives was limited by lack of technology.  Perhaps that was a good thing.
We miss out today because some of those who could be incredible leaders choose not to put themselves and their families under the intense microscope we now use to make sure everyone is FLAWLESS.  Why are we surprised then when word gets out that some legislator had an affair, or made some other personal MISTAKE.  By expecting perfection, we have created our own governmental nightmare filled with congressman and senators who portray themselves as FLAWLESS and above it all and therefore in a position to tell us how to live our lives.  We know they are NOT perfect, simply better at hiding their indiscretions and mistakes.
Maybe it's social media, maybe it's because those in positions of power can't get their act together, maybe it's because we spend more time making excuses for why we can't do the right thing instead of just doing the right thing.  Whatever it is, it seems like more often I am disappointed and frustrated with the way things are going.  Our tolerance for personal failings has vanished.  If something someone says 30 years ago can practically destroy a career, why would any of us step out into the limelight?  WE ARE HUMAN.  WE MAKE MISTAKES.  No wonder our children are stressed.
When we as a country could do great things, we spend time trying to take away safety nets from those who need them most because "BIG GOVERNMENT IS BAD."  At the same time ridiculous amounts of time and money are being spent trying to dictate who can love who and what women can and cannot do with their bodies, there is something wrong.  We protect the rights of those who feel they should be able to have as many weapons designed to kill PEOPLE as they want because it's their RIGHT, while we fail to protect the RIGHTS of our smallest citizens as they go to school.  The rest of the time is spent making sure that the "other guy" can't get anything done.  THIS MEANS NOTHING GETS DONE.

I want to be proud of my country and over the last several weeks, there have been more and more reasons to feel like the tide is turning ~ I want that tide to continue.  I want a flood of common sense and good will towards others.  I want tolerance and forgiveness.  I want my children to love their country.  I want good people to lead us even if they have "mistakes" in their past.  Maybe I want them there because they've made mistakes.  I want them to roll up their sleeves and get to work even if it means compromising with the "other guy." I want freedom, but I want us to accept the responsibility that comes with freedom.  Maybe I want perfection???  Nah, that would be boring.

Monday, July 1, 2013


I've been avoiding my blog for a few weeks.  I wasn't sure why before, but I think I know now.  Here are the "top of my head" excuses:  I've been busy, I haven't really had anything on my mind, I've had other priorities, blah, blah, blah...
Here's the real reason:  I've been afraid to dive into my thoughts and feelings about the last month.

So many changes and glimpses of life to come.  Katy has been gone for almost 2 weeks and while I noticed she was gone, I didn't really miss her, until yesterday when I sent her and her brother good wishes for their first day with campers.
Until that point, it seemed like she was just away for a little bit and she'd be back soon.  With campers arriving, her work begins and it's no longer a little trip away from home; she is gone for the summer, doing important, powerful work!
With that realization, I got so weepy!!  Not because I miss her and her brother though.  I do miss them, but over the years they have steadily spent more time away from home and that is how it should be.  It's prepping them to fly from the nest.  I got weepy because I was overwhelmed with feelings of love and pride.

When my children are at home, they are much like everyone else's teenagers, albeit a little louder and more animated than some:-)  They make us crazy by talking back, not doing chores, leaving messes, needing rides, cars, money etc...  They are also interesting, funny, smart people who I enjoy spending time with.  BUT, they are still children.
When they go to camp in the summer they are transformed!  I'm sure their supervisors would say they are still teenagers, and I know they are, but they also become responsible, respectful, compassionate, self-motivated, confident people.  They become their better selves.  They nurture and care for children - other people's precious children!  What a important job!

The expectations of the staff are high ~ those who make poor choices are sent home.  There is no room for messing up in a big way when you are caring for other people's children.  There is forgiveness and second chances, but the rules are clear and the consequences are immediate.  Because they are teenagers I know that at any point one of my children could make one bad choice and be home for the rest of the summer.  I'm confident they won't - they love where they are and what they get to do there too much!  I think they also love being away from home.  I know they love me, but sometimes I "mother" too much.  At camp they are responsible for their own selves, I can't rescue them and they know that and appreciate it.  I think.

I miss them a lot.  I wish they could come with us when we travel to see other family, but am so proud that they made their own decisions to stay and do their very important work.  As hard as I can be on myself, it is times like this when I know I've been a pretty good mom and my husband and I have done a pretty good job raising some amazing people.  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I'm sorry.

I'll share with you a Hungarian saying. Babies, before they are born, look down from the clouds and say, "I want these two people to be my parents."  Respect yourself, accept your mistakes, and forgive yourself for not being perfect. This will help you be more forgiving of your child's mistakes. And he may later learn to be more forgiving of his own. When he is old enought to understand, he will appreciate that you accepted him for who he is. After all, "he chose you".

This quote came across my newsfeed on Facebook this morning and was just what I needed to start blogging today!  The idea that my children "chose" us or that God "chose" us to be their parents is humbling.  I have spent way too many years questioning every move I make, parenting and otherwise.  What a waste of energy!  Part of the journey I'm on is to focus on the present and the future and to stop myself from dwelling on the past.  

WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES!  Big ones and small ones.  It is one of the many things that makes us human.  It is how we learn.  We apologize (if necessary and authentic), learn and move on.  At least that's what I would like to do.  It's what I tell my children to do.  I'm not sure I model it very well!  
One of the things I do well is apologize.  Sometimes too much.  This is one of the challenges we face with daughter number 1.  She apologizes endlessly for things she's done, things that have just happened, things she bears no responsibility for.  She's working on it.  

What is it about apologizing???  We start when are children are too small to have any understanding "say you're sorry."  If a baby or toddler takes something away from a peer, they're not sorry, so why would we insist they say they are?  For them it is simply part of exploring their world.  There is no "intent" present.  They see something they want to explore, they take it and chances are the child they take it from moves on immediately to something new.  We impose the "intent".  We create the emotional tension.  It is important that children learn to own their responsibility when they have hurt someone, but insisting they do so when they are too young to understand or when it is a "hurt" that wouldn't exist if we hadn't stepped in, we get in their way of being authentic.  Like everything else in parenting, children learn what they see.  If they see us own our mistakes, apologize genuinely, and move on, that's what they learn and will do.  You can't "make" someone feel contrite.  You can't "make" them feel bad.  When we "force" young children to say they are sorry for something they are not sorry for, we teach them the wrong lesson.  

It is important to apologize when we have truly wronged someone accidentally or intentionally, but if we apologize for everything, we lose any sense of authenticity.  

When I watch young children in my work, they are naturally empathetic.  When they take away a toy or instrument from another child and that child protests, here's what happens - assuming grown ups stay out of the way - They give it back, they give them something else, the protesting child finds something else and recovers quickly.  Here's what happens when we step in.  The "taker" feels bad for what was a natural impulse to explore something cool, and feels distress.  Not because they took the item, but because their loved parent is upset with them for exploring.  The protesting child is reinforced for their "distress" and begins to hold more tightly to items they might otherwise explore and discard.  

More and more I am asking the parents in my classes to resist the urge to jump in.  Sit back and observe.  If a child (your own or someone else's!) is in danger, obviously step in, but only to distract or separate.  Watch how even some of our very little ones are learning to negotiate, share, comfort and engage with their peers.  We must keep them safe, but then our job is to "model" the behaviors we want to see, not demand or "teach" them.

I want my own children and the children I work with to be authentically compassionate and kind and to apologize when it is appropriate.  I want them to know that a mistake is just that.  We apologize, we learn, we move on.  Big or small, mistakes are a part of life.  They can be life changing, or not.  Imposing more "meaning" into any one mistake is useless and makes it more difficult to move forward.

So glad my children "chose me".  I hope they know that.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Do as I say, not as I do...

This raising and launching children is tough work.  They continue to teach me new things every day.  Before they came into my world I imagined that I would teach them so much.  It's been the opposite.

Sure I've taught them many things like how to tie their shoes, make their beds, clean a bathroom, brush their teeth.   I've taught them their prayers and how to apologize when they've done something wrong.

I hope I've taught them some things of value, but I think they have taught me more.  I've taught them skills, but they've taught me how to love and forgive.  I would suggest that these are more important lessons than how to wash your face.

My son turns 20 today and my youngest finishes Middle School.  A big day all around.  I'm feeling a little melancholy.  My middle has had a rough year.  She expects so much of herself and has tormented herself with the thought that we expect perfection.  It makes me so sad that this is the message she has gotten from us.  It doesn't surprise me though.

Over the years I have been reminded in many ways that our children will do what we DO, not what we say.  If I say to my beautiful child, "don't be so hard on yourself, do your best and that's enough," but I am endlessly critical of myself, what message does she hear?  If I say to them "you are perfect just the way you are," but constantly criticize myself, what do they hear?   If we tell them to make good choices, but they SEE us make our own bad ones, what do they learn?

I know that we do the best we can.  I know that we are blessed to have amazing children.  I need to remember that they are amazing not so much because of us, but in spite of us.  I need to remember that the older they get, the more the choices they make are theirs, not mine.  The consequences (good and bad) of those choices are THEIRS, not mine.

I have to hope that we've given them strong, powerful wings to carry them through the storms that life will bring to them.  I want them to know that NO MATTER WHAT, I love them forever and always.

Friday, May 31, 2013

afraid to lead

How do I expect my children to take on the world when I'm afraid to do the same?  Maybe they'll teach me.  I'm ready to really dig in and grow my business, but I'm dragging my feet.  I know what I need to do, I'm just AFRAID to do it.  Why?  not sure...

My middle child is 17 today.  Her cousin is 16 today.  These two young women are AMAZING!  They have the potential to truly change the world.  They are smart, passionate, COMpassionate, talented, beautiful WOMEN.

I want them to see me and the other women around them as powerful agents of change whether we are in the boardroom or the kitchen.  I want them to see and know women who OWN their role as leaders. I am thankful that they are both surrounded by just such women.  I'm grateful that they each have a community surrounding them with love and encouragement.

I want to be one of those women too.  I know that I actually am in my daughter's eyes.  I wish I was as confident about my role as a powerful woman as she is.  I want to be as amazing as she thinks I am.  I want to learn from her fearlessness and own my role as a leader in the world.

I want to stop talking about the things I want to do and just DO THEM.

Happy Birthday Katy and Anna~ I wish you life, love, happiness and confidence.  You WILL change the world for the better.  In fact, you already have.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Birthday musings

Yesterday I turned 45.  I was overwhelmed with birthday wishes, celebrated with good friends on Saturday night, knew that it was a busy weekend with people every which way, didn't anticipate being weepy.

45 is closer to 50 than 40.
My middle child went to her Junior Prom.
This weekend, I missed a nephew's graduation from my Alma Mater AND a niece's baptism.
After a very fast week at home, I took my oldest to New Hampshire where he will spend the summer.

During church Sunday am, several of the Pentecost readings brought up musical memories of my time at Luther College singing in Nordic Choir.  Reinforced what I was missing, but made me grateful for what I've had.  "I will sing to the Lord as long as I live."

The launching of my children comes faster and faster.  Good thing my sweet puppy Thor will be with us through the many transitions the 4 or 5 years will bring.

I'm so blessed in so many ways and have had an amazing life so far with so much to come.  At 45 though, there are things I wish I did differently.  I told my son that I know there are many mistakes he just has to make on his own as he grows, but there are a few I wish he would learn from us so he doesn't have to revisit some of them.  Here are a few...

1) When you are 18 or 20 or 25 or 30, and people tell you to save 10% of any income, DO IT.  At 45, with a successful almost 22 year marriage, 3 amazing kids, my own business etc... One of the few things that can send me to the pits is our complete and utter lack of savings.  One miscalculation of funds and I'm in a panic until the next paycheck.  10% of everything goes a long way to feeling secure.

2)  Make sure to write thank you notes.  I believe in them, I can explain why they are important, and why I appreciate them, but I'm terrible at writing them.  Just do it.

3)  Before you settle down think about who you want to be near as you have children and as your parents get older.  We have loved CT in so many ways and at this point it is our home.  I miss being close to our family for special events and even just meeting for lunch.  I wish that we were closer to grandparents and cousins.  I miss my Mom and Dad.  I never thought I would end up halfway across the country.  Maybe this would have been our path, but I wish we had thought forward more than we did.

I'll get over my weepiness.  When you have a puppy and when you sing and dance with families and children for a living it's hard to stay blue.  Happy Birthday to me.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mama love

This is going to be a challenging post for me, but I'm going to dive right in.  The attached blog post
reasons to calm down about babies crying was so thought provoking for me.  When my babies were small, I absolutely hated to hear them cry.  I thought my job was to meet all their needs until they were big enough, or old enough to meet them.  I was an Attachment Parent all the way!  Especially with my second child.
She was my "high-need" baby.  For the first 6 months of her life she was either in the sling or sleeping next to me ~ she nursed all night long sometimes and was happy as long as she was in physical contact with her mama.  I was SO THANKFUL for attachment parenting as I was certain that if I didn't wear her and co-sleep with her she would be so unhappy and I wouldn't survive her infancy!
Once she was mobile, the constant physical contact decreased, but she continued to be intense.  She could go from 0-60 in no time flat and I was there to soothe her and meet her needs.  While I was exhausted, I was a little smug as well.  Not many other mother's could handle such an intense child!
In many ways Attachment Parenting served me and my children well.  Especially when they were infants.
I had studied Developmental Psychologist Erik Erikson's work in college and was sure that as my children resolved their "developmental issues" like trust vs. mistrust, they would move on and I would have done my job to give them an excellent foundation.  I still believe that in many ways this is what happened.
The above post however, made me think that perhaps my focus on resolving all of my sweet girl's unhappiness was not so useful to her.  Maybe it in fact, took away some of her own power and self-determination.
At 16 we have a lovely, smart, caring, powerful girl who is terrified of her own grief and sadness.  The intensity of her feelings has resulted in interventions I never imagined facing.  In some ways we are doing remedial emotional managment education.  I didn't want to see that by meeting her every emotional need as an infant and young child I wasn't allowing her to learn how to process them herself.
Don't get me wrong~ this isn't a "I'm a bad Mom post and it's all my fault that I have a teenager who has had struggles."  We do the best we can with the knowledge and support we have at the time.

I do wonder though, that if I had had the perspective offered by Magda Gerber and her approach to child-rearing, or if I'd simply listened to my own mother and accepted that "sometimes babies cry and that's ok" maybe my sweet girl would know that her feelings, while intense, will not hurt her.  She can get through them.  She would know that her mama believes in her strength and power to get through the most difficult situations and while she will always be there if needed, she won't get in the way.

We begin launching our young the moment they burst from our bodies ~ acknowledging and respecting their ability to make their way from their earliest days just makes the journey more exciting.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Pure Joy

I am so blessed.  I am overwhelmed with love.  I need to make a list.

~ I have a family I love, who loves me back

~I have dear friends in town and around the world who I love, who love me back

~I do work I love, in a community I love, knowing that others around the world are doing the same work and loving it as I do

~It's May 1st, the sun is shining, Spring is here (unless you live in Minnesota)

The last 5 months have been rough.  I have been exhausted, blue, uninspired, feeling old.
DONE WITH THAT!  I have so much to write about my time at the Music Together Annual Conference last weekend.  So much that I just can't process it yet.  It will be a journey.  Feeling energized, colorful, inspired and YOUNG!

love, love, love SPRING

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

keep breathing...

What a few weeks it has been...  Puppy drama, teenage girl drama, and then crazy Boston Marathon Drama.  Add a trip to Virginia Beach with the EHS Music Department and prepping for the Music Together Annual Conference and I am all over the place.  Need to focus.

We sadly brought Luther back to his birth home and are hoping to bring home a new puppy from the Berkshire's Mother's Day weekend.  Trying to keep my excitement in check as we've done this before.
I miss my sweet puppy and hope that he is loved and cared for regardless of how short his life will be.  I still feel some guilt that we made the decision we did, but I just know in my heart it was the right one.

Such relief when the chaos in Boston was over.  With a bus full of teenagers and chaperones all checking their "devices" trying to keep up on the news, it was nice to be able to breathe a little easier knowing it was over. For now.

Emotions have been everywhere ~ With so much sadness and fear, it was such a delight to be with the  students from EHS as they performed and enjoyed each others company.  It was almost as much fun watching them at Motor World and Busch Gardens as it was watching them sing and play.  If you ever think your teenager is too grown up, just watch them at "play" and you'll see glimpses of the young child that is still inside.  It's wonderful!

Such pride was felt by us all when they won the "Esprit de Corp" award ~ this recognizes the spirit and  integrity of a school OUTSIDE of performance.  The Ellington community should be immensely proud of how we were represented by our students.

Transitioning from last weekend to this weekend has been a challenge ~ lots of laundry and bookkeeping to get caught up on, forms to sign, carpools to drive.  It's all worth it though~ the Music Together Annual Conference is around the corner and it is sure to be a memorable one.  I will tell you all about it, but now I have to go teach, prep for a session I'm co-leading, pack, and get my nails done!  Time's a wasting!  Princeton here I come!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

sad news...

"Look for the helpers" is what Mr. Rogers said.  I keep seeing that quote all over the internet and I keep trying to remember it.  He was a very wise man.  I like to think that I am often a "helper," but right now I'm looking to my helpers.
In the midst of the horror and sadness around the tragic events in Boston yesterday, our family was hoping that an EKG done on our sweet puppy Luther would give us good news.  This morning, not only did it not give us good news, it was worse than our vet had anticipated.
At a vet check on Friday, a heart murmur was detected.  It was significant enough that we decided to go ahead with the EKG.  She suspected something called a PDA.  Probably expensive, but repairable and with an excellent success rate.
What it actually ended up being was something called a Tricuspid Dysplasia.  A congenital heart defect that is not fixable.  To sum it up, Luther is likely to have a very short life ending in heart failure.  His poor heart is already enlarged and we are so very sad.
Dr. Brown is a helper.  She is kind and empathetic and I know she feels so very badly about the difficult decision we have to make.  Alis is a new friend who brought Luther to us and has been available over the last several days to talk and process the whole sad situation.
Alicia and Jessica and my sisters have all been sympathetic ears for me.  I don't know what I would do without so many sweet helpers.

What we want is a helper to tell us what to do, even though I know what we have to do.  Most likely, Luther will return to the farm he was born on to be cared for until his heart gives out.  We will bring home a different puppy.  This is the logical choice.  We've only had him for a week, and expected a healthy puppy, not one with a heart defect and a life expectancy of a few months to at the very most 3 years.  We cannot take on the cost, both financial and emotional, of caring for him as he dies.
We have been overwhelmed by how quickly we have fallen in love with this sweet boy.  The idea of letting him go makes my stomach sick.
The idea of taking on the care of a sick puppy and watching him die when I need to be a helper to my children as they face so many challenges makes me feel worse.  I don't have it in me to care for him, but letting him go seems heartless.  We thought a puppy would bring some joy after a difficult few months, but the joy has been too short.
I want a helper to tell me how I make this better.  I know I can't.

Monday, April 15, 2013

keep them safe...

Once again, our world has been shaken.  A day of joy and fun in Boston will forever be tarnished by some sick person's actions.  My stomach hurts and I'm on the verge of tears for what seems like the millionth time in the last 6 months.

Just when I think that I'm adjusting to the idea of sending my children out into the world, I'm reminded what a frightening and unpredictable world we live in.  This weekend I had no fears when Katy asked to go spend the first day of her Spring Break in Northampton, MA with some friends.  Northampton is about an hour away.  After the events of the day, I had a hard time letting her go to the mall with friends tonight.  The mall is 20 minutes away.

I know that I cannot keep them safe.  Horrible things happen and I cannot control who they happen to.  I don't believe anyone, even God, controls WHO is struck.  My children have big plans ~ I'm excited for the adventures they will have as they grow into amazing adults who will do amazing things.  At the same time, I want to just hold them close and keep them safe.

All I can do is hope that they are protected by angels, that they will know what to do if they are faced with tragedy, and hold my puppy tight until I can breathe again and Katy is home safe from the mall.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Into the nest...

Almost a year ago, my family fostered a very large dog named Daisy.   She didn't last with us for many reasons.  She was not a breed well suited to our busy comings and goings.  She was HUGE.  She loved me and me.  She wouldn't let my son in the house.  We had no idea what we were doing.  Some of you will remember.
Tonight, we are adopting a 10 week old chocolate lab puppy who we are naming Luther.  Good breed for our family, impressed with the parents and the breeder who he is coming from, have given lots of thought and conversation to the idea, pretty sure that starting with a puppy from scratch is the right step for us.
I'm excited and kind of wigged out.  I wonder if I should have just had another baby.  I'm pretty sure you will hear a lot about our adventures over the coming months and years.
We've been reading a book called "The Dog Listener" by Jan Fennell.  It promotes a very gentle, dog friendly communication of establishing both order and comfort with your dog.  Very much companions and partners, but with clear leadership from the owner.  I'm finding it very exciting and seeing ways we can still work with some of Lily's (our old lady dog) less desirable behaviors.  I'm ready to spend time with my trainer friend Shelley, and to take classes and go to puppy playgroups.
This all sounds very much like the process we went through when our children were young.  Establishing who cares for who, who feeds who, who protects who, who leads who, who determines things like walk time, playtime, bedtime, snuggle time.

I'll keep you posted  :-)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Investing in beauty

"If you ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it...
But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life."   
Frank Llyod Wright

Wise words for sure - they were on the front of a card that arrived in the mail from a friend and I've been looking at them for days without really reading them.  
It seems like more and more, we ignore the beauty around us.  We don't have time to see it.  We complain, we judge, we whine, we fight.  In the meantime, beauty is everywhere around us, but we miss it.

This has been a dark winter for many of us.  From the moment I heard the news from Sandy Hook, CT through this past weekend when the local high school theatre club had to withdraw from a festival they had been preparing for due to some flukey assault on their stomachs (cause still being determined!), there has been challenge after challenge after challenge.  I'm tired of it.

I want to shake myself and begin finding the beauty.  The communities that have been inspired to fight for the safety of not only our children, but all children.  The friends and family who have been there for us as we have faced struggles and loss.  The snow, the sunshine, the dog that needs to be close.

I want to be intentional about "investing" in beauty.  I want to sing more.  I want to actually plant some flowers this Spring.  I want to really see my daughters when they are joyful and happy and engaged rather than only noticing when they are being challenging.

Perhaps if our government officials spent more time "investing" in the beauty of our country instead of bickering and backstabbing and generally behaving badly, they would set an example for all of us.  Investing in education and early childhood and families.  Investing in local businesses and communities.  Supporting and strengthening from the ground up rather than dripping down from the top.

I'm going to go notice the sun shining outside before the snow begins again - maybe I'll even try to appreciate the beauty of a few snowflakes this time around.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

I don't feel like shining...

The last month has sucked.  February 26th, Ellen dies.  March 3rd, a dear colleague dies.  Ellen was diagnosed just before Christmas.  Sally was diagnosed 3 weeks before she passed away.
They were both women who loved other people's children.  Neither had children of their own, but they were beloved by many.
I know that at almost 45 years old, I'm going to start to know more and more people who become sick and die.  I know that it's a natural part of life and that they are going on to something else.  Some say it will be better.  I don't really know.
What I know right now is that some of the people I love the most in the world live too far away.  Some of the ones who live close get taken for granted.  Any one of them could be gone tomorrow or next week or next year.
I'm just pissed.  Two shining lights in the world are gone.  Sally was a model for so many of us in the Music Together world - we wanted to emulate her and be around her and even if we didn't "know" her, we felt like we did.
I needed Ellen.  I wasn't ready for her to go.  She has always been there to take the place of the aunts and grandmothers who live too far away to attend programs and go to lunch.  Now she's gone and the aunts and grandmothers still live too far away.
I'm feeling lonely and afraid that those I love will be gone before I can tell them how much they mean to me.  I don't know where they're going, I just know that I'm not there and I will miss them.

Thursday, February 28, 2013


As life moves along, we begin to say "goodbye" more and more.  Our children engage more in the world without us, friends move away, others say goodbye in a more permanent way, or they don't.  They leave us to say goodbye.  We say goodbye to dreams and ideas, people and places.
Some goodbyes are good ~ goodbye to a hated job or class.  Goodbye to 10 lbs!  Others are harder.  Goodbye to the things you thought you would do by now.  Goodbye to the fantasy life, child, job, whatever.
Others are really hard.
Yesterday I got a phone call I was expecting, but hoped to never get.  My dear friend Ellen had passed away Tuesday night.  "Auntie Ellen", as my children called her, was a sweet presence in our lives.  She did not have children of her own, but LOVED and CHERISHED her own nieces and nephews and so many other children.  Too many to count.  I really saw how she loved my children.
When we were 24 and new to our church, Ellen welcomed us with the open arms of family and celebrated with us when we told her we were expecting our first child.  She stood with us when Andrew's baptism was remembered here in Connecticut and became his "Connecticut Godmother".  We both lived far from our families, both with two sisters and a brother, and we understood what it was like to be far away from that network of love and support.
Over the 20 years she was a part of our lives, we took her love for granted.  While she was always there for us, I don't know if we were always there for her.  Absorbed in the chaos of raising children, we didn't always reach out.  We included her in our lives when we NEEDED her and when we would think of it; sometimes last minute.  She however, was always there.  Sitting through concerts and recitals, taking our children to see Santa year after year as a special Christmas outing ~ celebrating Christmas with us, sometimes in late January!
Over the years her bond with my daughters became especially strong as they shared sleepovers and shopping trips.  Going to the Dollar Store with Auntie Ellen was much more fun than going with Mom!
I expected to have more time with her - I needed her to help me get my girls through adolescence.  Those significant adults that play a role in your child's life are SO IMPORTANT, and she was one that cannot be replaced.
A week before she died, she left Connecticut on short notice to join her family in Ohio to be cared for in Hospice.  This is where she needed to be and I'm grateful that she got there.  Jeff, Andrew and I were able to see her the weekend before she left.  When I called about bringing the girls to see her, she couldn't do it.  I understand.  Her grief and shock were so strong, she just couldn't bear to say goodbye to the people she loved.  I understand it, and know that my role now is to help my girls say goodbye.  Sadly this will be one of many goodbyes to come over the years.

As life moves along, we say goodbye more and more.

Monday, February 4, 2013

trying too hard

I've been struggling lately with whether I've done what I wanted to do to prepare my children for the world.  Now they haven't actually launched yet, at least all the way, but I've been all wrapped up in whether I've been the kind of mom I wanted to be.  Whether I'm BEING the kind of mom I want to be now.
I love Janet Lansbury's Blog "Elevating Childcare".  So many times I'll read a post, and although they often have to do with infants and young children, they frequently have relevance for my almost grown children.
One post she shared spoke of the idea that "We need to be the person we want our child to be."  Seems so simple.  In many ways our children are the best of my husband and me.  At those moments, I'm so satisfied and proud.  I'm confident that they will go on to have great lives!
There are also times though when I see those parts of me that I'm not so pleased with reflected back at me in the face of an angry teenager.  Impatient, selfish, stubborn...  It's all there.
Because these similarities are pretty clear though, I can deal with all of them.  I may not like it and there is a certain amount of karmic justice that I'm sure gives my parents a chuckle here and there, but I can take it in, address it, modify my own behavior and hope they follow suit.
What is harder to address are some of the more subtle things.  If I'm never satisfied with what I'm contributing to the world, how will they absorb that?  Will they always be dissatisfied?  With they think I'm dissatisfied with them?   I love my work and I know my children see that, but I also long to do more, to make a more significant, measurable difference in the world.  While I want them to strive to always do good in the world, I want them to relish the life they create and find joy and satisfaction in the work they choose.  I want them to feel complete.

I think my first step is to step BACK.  Allow them to find their way with a little less "support" from me.  All the little things I do to make their day move along are things that, if they were responsible for them, would be steps towards feeling competent and satisfied with themselves.
It's their life, not mine.  I have to remind myself that at this point, I need to trust they've learned what I want them to learn and know enough to make their choices.  Their choices may or MAY NOT reflect on me.  If I've done my job, they will feel confident enough to take chances, make choices, mess up and start again.  They'll know that I'll love them no matter what and will always be there to help them up and push them out of the nest again after they've had a rest.
I don't know if they know this.  I hope they will someday.  It's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, January 11, 2013

I'm done

One Million Moms for Gun Control

I haven't joined many (if any) non-local organizations.  In my life I've stayed away from most issues that cause controversy or intense debate.  I haven't wanted to make waves.  I don't want to upset people.  During the 2012 election season, my opinions started to percolate to the surface.  At 44 years old I've decided it's time.

I'm done keeping it to myself.  If I offend you, oh well.  If I upset you, I guess you'll have to figure it out.  If you disagree with me, debate it. Share you arguments.  Disagree if you will, but if you attack me verbally, I will not respond.  I do not have the energy to get into a pissing contest based on paranoid rhetoric and false information, so check your sources.

I've been following the growth of the One Million Moms for Gun Control movement and today I joined.  This morning on the news the President of the NRA once again spouted off about the 2nd amendment. BLAH BLAH BLAH.  The second amendment was written long before the weapons that are now available were even imagined.  It also specifies a "well-regulated" militia.  I wonder how many of those so concerned with their "right to bear arms" ever thought to serve in the military.

When people are talking about how "guns don't kill people, people kill people", I want to vomit.
Look around the world.
The US has some of the worst GUN violence among similar nations.  We are barbaric.

Do we need to address mental health?  Absolutely.  Do we need to look at violence in the media? Absolutely.  Do we need to take responsibility for ourselves and our family members?  Absolutely.

We also need common sense Gun Control laws that require at least as much oversight as driving a car, or buying some prescription medications.  We are all over crazy about things like tobacco, alcohol and marijuana but GOD FORBID we regulate the ownership of a weapon or ammunition that can kill large numbers of people faster than you can smoke a cigarette or drink a cocktail.

I cannot feel good about sending my nearly adult children out into a world as foolish and narcissistic as ours if I'm not willing to step up and speak out when something is wrong.  I hope they are learning to do the same without waiting until they are 44.

Fresh Start

I love the New Year, but I don't usually like January.... It's often dark and cold, the holidays are over and it's "back to the grind."  For someone who struggles with seasonal depression, the cold, dark days can make it difficult to focus on the joy and love that is life.  Even though yesterday was Epiphany and the "light" is getting brighter and longer everyday, it is still dark in the morning and dark in the world.  I've made no resolutions this year, but have decided that one thing I'm going to try to do is be kinder to myself.  Fewer "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts," more breathing, reading, singing and exercising.  And more writing.
Since my last post, our life has been a little upside down and it's been difficult to focus on anything in particular other than getting through life.

One of the difficulties of blogging about the phase of parenting that I am in is that, unlike babies and toddlers, my children will see what I write.  It is important to me that while I need to write about the issues that are relevant to me, I also need to be respectful of their privacy.  To do that I must really focus on "my" side of the story.  What is my role in their growing pains?

Shortly before Christmas, my middle daughter hit a rough patch and it knocked the wind out of our sails for a bit.  She is back on track for the most part, but it was a scary time for my husband and I.  In the past I have blogged about "little children, little problems~ big children, big problems".  SO TRUE.

I have long been a fan of natural consequences and the idea that children learn best through experience.  In fact, some of the best learning happens during the most unpleasant experiences.  This is so easy to advocate and follow when natural consequences might mean a bump on the head, a skinned knee or even an after-school detention.  But what about when the consequences could be life long?  While we hope we have prepared our children to go out into the world and take care of themselves and others, we can't be sure until it actually happens.  What about when there are big consequences for little children through no fault of their own, like in Newtown?

Until then, we earn our gray hairs and wrinkles and return to the sleepless nights we had when they were babies, only now we can't snuggle up and nurse away their hurt and fear.  All we can do is listen, pray and be clear.  Once in a while a snuggle happens too.