the nest

the nest

Friday, May 8, 2015

and one leaves the nest...

So 22 years ago this weekend I was graduating from UConn with my MA in HDFS (Human Development and Family Studies), days away from my 25th birthday and weeks away from welcoming the young man who would change my life forever.  
This little one would teach me so much starting with his birth!  He was stubborn and facing the wrong way, but after 28 hours of hard work he was born and I learned the first lessons of motherhood.  I was stronger than I ever knew AND if ANYONE messed with this little bundle I would unleash a whole lot of crazy! I also learned that starting from day one, he was going to do things his way.

Here he is on his 18th birthday as I'm getting ready to send him out into the world.  4 years ago when I started this blog.  I needed a way to process the next phase of life. Launching my babies.  It used to make me nutty when people would say "enjoy every moment!"  Seriously? Some of the moments are not enjoyable!  Now, I say it a lot.  From the moment you birth a child they are beginning the journey to leave you. Over 18 years, I hoped that he learned the lessons I wanted him to learn.  I never imagined I would learn so much as well. You can despair and fret and demand, but once they start their journey when the umbilical cord is cut, all you can do is guide them, keep them from going completely off the rails, and enjoy the ride.

This week he graduates from UConn with a BA in HDFS.  He has worked a ridiculous number of hours in a dining hall kitchen while in school full time and has found his voice. He has no patience for entitlement or inequality. He knows that while I will argue with him and disagree with him, as long as he does his research, is respectful and open-minded, I will ALWAYS listen.  He is passionate and smart.  He challenges the status quo.  When he was young I wanted him to learn to follow HIS path. I didn't want him to blindly live his life following the rules.  He learned those lessons well! When people ask me what he's going to do now and I say "I'm not sure," the assumption is made that he will be moving home.
Here's the thing... While he is welcome to come home if he needs to, I don't think he ever will for more than a brief visit or transition.  He has become practical, capable, responsible and independent.  He's learned to pay bills, cook, negotiate and handle problems that arise. 
He's ready to fly and I'm so very proud.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Shining a light on some Mama's

It's Monday morning.  I made my list and now I'm ignoring it.  The need to write and process life is feeling too strong.  I guess just like rules are made to be broken, lists are made to be ignored.

The last few weeks have been filled with sadness ~ four lovely women gone, 3 of them too soon, one gone peacefully.  Riots, violence, Nepal, nastiness in the news.  On and on.  It can overwhelm the heart and soul. I've struggled with blogging, because it has seemed like so much of what's on my mind is dark and heavy.
The sun is shining, life is amazing in so many ways, and yet I'm so sad.  Sometimes a hug, a deep breath, and thinking of someone else is the only thing that can lift me out of darkness.
I'm getting really good at deep breaths after 22 years of being a mama, and I get more hugs in my life than anyone deserves, so it's time to think of someone else.
A post on Facebook inspired me to focus my blogging for now on those who have touched me or my family in special ways. The world spends so much time watching and focusing on the darkness and the violence and I'm tired of it. My focus for a while will be on the amazing people who make my world and my family's world beautiful.

With Mother's Day approaching, I want to shine a light on a few of the many "Mama's" who have shown me the way.
My Mama, Juanita, has taught me so much from the beginning. Always there but never intrusive or overly directive, she taught me how to be present for my children without dominating them.  I remember in Junior High and High School, coming home from school so many times, yelling down the basement to say hello (she would be doing laundry or something!), and then not seeing her until dinner, but I KNEW SHE WAS THERE.  I was a very dramatic, emotional kid and while I'm sure I overwhelmed my Mama at times, she never let it show.  I grew up with a rock.  Even when we made each other nutty, I never doubted that she loved me and was there anytime I needed her.  Hundreds of miles away this still holds true today.  I'm sure that some of my life choices have left her questioning, but for the most part she has trusted me to follow my path and kept her doubts to herself.  As my own children begin forging their paths in the world, I hope I can do the same.
My Mother-in-Law, Noreen, came into my life when I was still so young.  Getting married at 23 felt a little like playing house.  While my MIL is very different from my Mama, she also taught me so much about being a wife and a mother and a woman.  She loved me from the beginning because I loved her son.  She would share her advice and opinions freely, but would support us even when we disagreed.  As someone who is not particularly good at organizing my household and my life, I learned so much over the years about juggling work and family.  I continue to relish my relationship with my MIL and again hope that I will be as gracious and loving to the future life partners of my children as she has been to me.
One more Mama who helped me find my way is my dear friend Julie~  I met Julie in graduate school and while the time we were in close contact was short, just a few years, she continues to be one of those Mama-friends I have thought of often over the years, and on those rare occasions we are able to talk or see each other, the years melt away and it's as if we've never been apart.
What I learned from Julie about being a Mama was how to own my power and my voice.  From pregnancy and birth choices, to breastfeeding, cloth diapering, questioning everything.... she opened my eyes to the power of listening to my body, my babies, and my heart.  She helped me find my voice as a Mama bear and those early lessons of being mama's together shaped so many of the decisions I've made over the past 22 years.  Being a Mama isn't easy and having women around you who trust and value you as a Mama and a woman is an amazing gift.
I hope I have been and will continue to be a guide, friend and support to the many Mama's I cross path's with. The Mama's who have guided me will always be in my heart. Sadly women can be so hard on each other. Finding ways to support and hold up each other regardless of the choices we make as women and mothers would go a long way to strengthening our power and our ability to raise strong healthy children.  Isn't that how we will ultimately make the world a better place?