Archive | June, 2011

Pack It Up

25 Jun

Packing is one of the travel necessities that can be so daunting I might choose to avoid it and stay home!  While sharing personal stories about who packs the children for summer camp or family vacations, two of us (controlling) mothers admitted to usurping this task. We have no qualms over feeling more capable of ensuring that our children have enough clothing, toiletries, etc. and that luggage space is maximized. I gloated that I know how to fill each corner of the luggage by rolling shirts and socks to fit into each nook and cranny.

The conversation led me to ask, “Who taught you how to pack or did you just figure it out?” And, of course, we each had the same answer—“MY MOTHER.” I remember my mother’s pride as she folded, rolled and secured each item into the most efficient spot. As she maximized space, she also minimized creases and wrinkles.

As your children prepare for summer camp, vacations or even college, do you pack with them? For them? Do you do a final check to make sure nothing is left behind? Who influenced your packing? Did your mother have certain rules or methods? Which is more important to you (and which would your mother choose), maximizing space or minimizing wrinkles? If we control the packing too much, are we shirking our responsibility to pass along the packing protocol?

Honoring my Dad on his Birthday

21 Jun

While writing this blog helps me celebrate the relationship I did have and think about the relationship I could have with my mom, I often get a pang of guilt for not writing about my dad. He passed away six years before my mom and was always a HUGE and WONDERFUL part of my life. I had a great relationship with my dad. In fact, I often credit him with some of the most important factors that have shaped me.

Today is my dad’s birthday and he would have turned 82.  While he was obstinate and strict and did not lavish me with things, I always felt loved and secure, without judgment or measurement. It was easier to please my dad than my mom. All I had to do was try my hardest and keep safe. When I came home from my freshman year in college and announced that I wanted to change my major and career goal from economics (and either business or law) to English and teaching, I feared I would disappoint him. Wow, was I wrong. He was thrilled that I had found a passion and profession. He was quirky, but I don’t remember being embarrassed. He had a CB Radio and handle, Bold Eagle, and spent hours on it, at home and in the car. As soon as the Commodore 64 computer came out, he bought one and spent hours on that. He was a Brooklyn native and New Jersey resident, yet wore Stetson cowboy boots and hats. He drove me anywhere I needed to go and, I think, tried to say yes when he could. Yet, it was not all perfect. I remember when he was angry that I drove his car to work in an ice storm. At the time I thought (and I’m still not sure) that he was more worried about his new car than me. He was a cosmetics company executive, but told me I looked like a call girl when I put on too much blush (ok, so I was young, only 12 and used a ton of gel rouge).  Yet, he was responsible for teaching me so many life lessons during those crucial moments, like when I broke our first and only color TV, broke into our house because I forgot my key, or had to re-write an English essay he thought was horrible.

I could go on and on. I miss him as much as I miss my mom. Yet, there is a certain tie that I have with my mom and that I yearn for as a woman and mother. So, especially today, and actually always, I wish my mom and I wish my dad….

What differences do you recall in how your parents handled important moments in your life? Even if you were “daddy’s little girl,” do you find the mother/daughter bond to be even more crucial? What are the differences in a mother’s and father’s influence in our adult lives?

Other Mothers, Part 2: The Bleachers

12 Jun

Other Mothers, Part 2 Sub title: The Bleachers

Back in April I wrote about my “Other Mothers.” ( These are friends and friends’ mothers who reach out to me and either consciously or just because it’s their nature, mother me. These same women often inspire me and act as role models.

I have discovered another group of “other mothers:” Grandmothers who come to watch their grandchildren’s baseball games. For about 2 hours, I sometimes find myself immersed in conversations with them. Some of these women become my sounding board. They tend to share wisdom as they watch the game. “Children these days, they just have too much going on, they’re so busy….” Or, “It’s so good to be on a team. Johnny’s dad played….” If they are frequent attendees or we have common teams more than once, they will even make personal comments. “ Wow, he has really grown up. In the last season….” I actually become so entranced with them, that I look forward to the games I know they will attend. Did I really come just to watch my child?

I even get pleasure in just observing these grandmas. I wonder if my mom would look similar. I watch them and imagine my mother doing the same thing. I think, “Oh, this is what my mother would be saying….this is how she would act at my son’s game. That is the smile she would have when my son gets a great hit….”

Have you had similar experiences? Do you find yourself admiring these women, hoping they will be at the next game? If your mom is alive, but does not come to these events (hopefully because she lives to far away), do you also find yourself becoming attached, even for a very short while, to the grandmothers who are there? What do you think of these other mother experiences?

The Offer to Help

5 Jun

Who notices you are drowning and throws you a life-preserver? Drowning in stress, that is. I sometimes feel selfish in wishing my mom was here–for me. If you’ve read my posts you know how sad I am that she did not have the chance to enjoy her grandchildren and adult companionship with her daughters…. But, I also readily admit that I wish my mom could help me! I was reminded of this wish today when a friend expressed sadness and even anger that her mother is unable to help her. My friend feels a desperate need to get away for a night with her husband and asked her mother to stay with her children overnight. One problem inherent in this scenario is that her mother did not reach out to her. More than anything, she wanted her mother or husband to notice her stress and offer help. Imagine how comforted you would feel if someone close to you said, “Wow, you seem stressed lately. Maybe you’re feeling crazed from work or from the kids. What you need is to get away…..” Just that remark would make you feel better, right? And, certainly from there you could use your mom’s, husband’s or friend’s help to plan the stress-relieving get-away.

Luckily, as I have said in previous posts, I have some people in my life who do notice and offer to help. But, a mom is just so uniquely “there for you.” , She most likely is free of huge responsibilities—no other children at home, possibly retired,… If your mom is not able to or simply not the right person to work with you, who is watching out for you? Which of your friends will throw you a life-preserver? Will they offer first or wait for you to ask?