I have a secret confession to make.
I am still figuring out what I want to be when I grow up.
I thought I had it all figured out in 1995. A mom. That is my life’s destiny. A wonderful, giving, nurturing full-time Mom. But, then in 1998, we kinda needed some cash too and that whole plan went awry. I was suddenly a Working Mom, a whole mother beast entirely. Trying to fit in 2 worlds but, not giving my all in either. I did not like being a working Mom, I wanted to devote my time to my kids entirely and get the chance to watch them grow, sick days and all.
So, after much deliberation and cut backs – I was back home in my nest surrounded by my little chicks.
And then, a funny thing happened. When my little ones started going to school full-time I realized I no longer needed to be home with just my laundry and dishes. I needed more stimulation and my brain felt smooshy. I decided to follow a long-time passion and write. I had always written for myself and loved that feeling of accomplishment. That feeling of peeking inside your own soul and seeing what lay beneath. That story that lay under it all. I felt I was ready to share that with the world. So, I started a blog to test the waters.
Blogs are fun, but they don’t make money. So, I took my skill and I began a freelance business providing all sorts of fodder for my words. My brain felt full of inspiration while my bank account got little bumps of joy. I was happy. Until, I wasn’t.
I realized that in writing for others I was not touching souls, uncovering layers and delving into the deep. I was writing websites, and creating Top 5 lists and getting paid, but it felt like – work. It’s strange because you spend your entire life wishing and wanting and dreaming and suddenly you’re there and it’s like ‘meh’. So, now what?
I am a firm believer that if you love what you do it will never feel like real work. I mean, of course some days will, I get that. But, I want to like what I do, love getting a bonus of being paid for work I am proud of.
I discussed this with my Mom Friends and my husband (my best friend) and have discovered I am not alone. I am in a boat so full of people who ‘Don’t Know What To Do Next’ I wonder if anyone really knows. Does life ever reveal the answers?
Last week, I bought an antique piece of furniture. I got a fantastic steal on a corner unit for my dining room I had always dreamed of having. Usually far too expensive, I knew I’d never actually own one. But, as I was walking along a street I saw a sign “Antique Treasures” – it called my name. I walked in and touched my hand to the blue and white french plates, admired the old, dirty brooches someone’s love had gifted and lifted a few old kitchen items to feel their history. I imagined women with thick, european arms rolling out dough for bread with the pins or grating potatoes on the tattered, rusty grater. I smiled at the stories each of these pieces held. And then, I saw it. Holding antique green dishes was my destined corner hutch. My heart literally jumped. Full of just the right hint of rustic, mixed with modern, clean lines my turn of the century farmhouse corner piece called my name. When I asked the price, I expected to be horrified, but surprisingly it was quite affordable. I had to have it.
I became obsessed with this piece as I thought about it at home. It made no sense. Why was I obsessing over a piece of furniture I didn’t need? I already had a dining room hutch that was perfectly good and fine. But, I had to have it. I convinced my husband, with some obvious “I don’t get women” reaction from him and 3 days later, my beauty arrived.
There is something in the story of furniture that excites me. The time that my daughter threw up on our brown sofa and we had to search for a cleaner willing to deal with bodily fluids. Or, the time we purchased our first piece of furniture for our home, a sturdy coffee table with huge baskets that held toys, then games and now books. The wooden globe I purchased for our 10th anniversary that they called would arrive a day late, so I ran out to get another globe (I wanted to give him ‘the world’, corny, I know!) only to pull up to the package of the first globe on my doorstep. Now we have two worlds. The chip on the table when my littles one bumped her head or the little sticker that lay glued to the bed in my son’s room reminding me he was once a little boy.
So, maybe now, my passion is furniture. Can furniture even be a passion? Who knows? Maybe it’s still stories. Maybe it’s yet to be written. I realize I am having my mid-life crisis, I already had my mid-wife crisis so I guess this is what’s next. Anyone else in my boat?
For years, I fought the sports circuit in my home as I slowly accepted becoming a football widow. After nearly 20 year of marriage I finally figured out that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Anything fun deserves good food and good people – so I have worked on some ideas that can keep all of us munching and engaged (sort of) all game long. Check out the end of this post for a free printable!
Here are some yummy snacks and ideas you can prep with your kids to make Super Bowl Sunday almost as exciting as Daddy makes it out to be… If you’re on a diet, don’t ‘do’ calories or just like’ fork and knife’ food, you can stop reading right now. Otherwise, carry on and wait 3 days before stepping on a scale.
Table ambience sets the tone for any party. A football field tablecloth is a great idea and makes clean up a breeze. The kids could have a lot of fun with this project.
Chips & Dip No party, football or otherwise, is complete without a good chip and dip. Here we have an easy to do, yet impressive, 7-layer dip. You can easily sub Tofutti Sour Cream for the dairy here. Cheese can be subbed with non-dairy or skipped altogether.
Here’s 1 more way to serve your chips. This one would be a great project for the kids earlier in the day. All you need are lunch bags and duct tape (leftover from your tablecloth project!). They could even personalize the bags for their guests.
Wings are a must-have at any football occasion (see sweetie, I learned well!) and these will not disappoint. Pop em under the broiler for a last second to give them an authentic browning on top. You can adjust the heat to do half a batch for the kids and then pop in more hot sauce after for the real men at your party.
Pulled Chicken Sammies are delicious and so easy to make. I have used a lazy rotisserie chicken and some BBQ sauce in a pan. Plop it on yummy buns and you’re good to go. Wanna a fancier version? This one is also super yummy and crockpot friendly.
Facon – Let’s talk Kosher Bacon. Some think it’s gross, others think you will die from the fat content. I, however, think anything wrapped in facon just tastes Mmmmmm. So here is a yummy little recipe for Chicken wrapped in Facon. Use either mayo or Tofutti cream cheese in place of the dairy here. You will not be disappointed.
Corn Dogs are one of our all-time favorites. But, they are super fattening and a pain to make. That’s where these little guys come in a win the vote for best little corn dog muffin, ever. Did I say, ever? Seriously – these are always a hit with the kids and adults alike. I use soy milk in place of dairy here.
Drinks like beer and kid’s root beer are always on the menu. But, if you’re in the mood for a kid-friendly project here’s a great one. You can easily use Mountain Dew, green Gatorade or any green drink you’d like.
Anything covered in chocolate is my friend. Add in a football and you’re superbowl ready to go. Here’s 2 yummy looking football desserts to throw on your table.
If you are insane, like some of my ‘fancier’ friends you can give one of these Buzzfeed ridiculous stadium snacks a try. They are really for the artsy fartsy football wives and I refuse to ever give in that much. But, if you make one please do send it to me J Here are directions for an easy way to make this if you’re really needing the ooohs and aaahs of your guests!
Printable Bingo Keeps things fun and interactive for bored little kiddies that could whine during the game. Print this out prior, get some football stickers at the party store and let them have fun! Click here for the printable.
Image Source : Huffington Post
Last year I wrote a piece for my blog on Chicago Parent discussing the Been There, Done That Fairy Mom-mother. Essentially, being a young mother has enabled me to experience everything first, before my friends, without any go-to mom to glean sage advice. I just had a few teary-eyed calls this week that reminded me of this article and made me wish for that fairy all over again.
My friends, now parents of seniors in high school, are experiencing the beginning of the grieving process as they watch their oldest get ready to leave the nest. By far one of the hardest years of my life, I can honestly say it does get better. But, it isn’t easy to go through. And, you are going to need your friends. And, tissues. Lots of tissues.
Last year, when I was stuck in the muck of it I just wrote. I wrote and wrote and wrote. Then, I cried. Then, I wrote some more. I wrote so much he asked me to please stop writing about him so much.
So, I did.
If only I had someone to go to, to ask if it would get better, to assure me that my child’s really going to be okay – more than okay. And, that yes, I could eventually walk around without feeling like my right arm had been cut off.
So, here I am my Senior Parent friends, to tell you: Not only will you get through this year, and the next, you and your oldest will thrive. It is an amazing moment when you look at your child and realize – they are their own person and that person is pretty fantastic.
Perhaps because of you, perhaps despite you.
You overthink it, you come up with every anxious scenario how they will be absolutely be lost without you there to guide them. But, then you realize, in time, and with those darn tissues, that they can guide themselves pretty well and know how to get in touch if/when they can’t.
You insist you know their path best, you have it all mapped out in your head. The school abroad or the college, the majors, the lifestyle, the food plan. But, then they eat what they want, go where they go and do what they do:
Since last year I did in fact locate a few Been There, Done That Moms and here’s what we’ve put together to share. We cannot say we successfully did all of these, but wish at the time that we had this list in advance:
Express your vision, then hear theirs One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to listen. Let them feel heard because this process is damn hard. Take the time to express what you want for their future, where you see them and how they can get there. That is valuable information. Then, shut up and listen to how they see their own. This is even more valuable information.
There will be loud discussions – Part of leaving home is prepping a long time for that big day of goodbye. It’s a lot of emotions and a heck of a lot of decisions to make in a short period of time. They’re stressed, you’re stressed. So, talk and try not to let it escalate too much – but, be understanding if and when (oh, it will) gets loud.
Push and they will push back harder – You want one thing, they want another. It’s totally normal in the process. If you push one school, or insist on something because “I’m paying” the chances of them wanting that are now greatly reduced just to piss you off. Ultimately, they have to go to class, earn the grades and have a future. If it’s all controlled by you – it will not go well.
Let this be their future, not yours – Some moms shared with me that they unknowingly tried to live out their dreams through their children. This seemed more prevalent in those I talked to with moms and daughters, but I have no hard evidence of that. This is not the time to live out your dreams, its time to let the kids figure out what they want.
Deny, Deny, Deny My go-to coping mechanism of choice was to live in the lovely land of denial. But, then it does really happen. They really leave. And it seriously sucks. But, then they will come back to visit or oddly you go to visit them (and feed them).
Don’t freak when they make a mistake I did this. Whoops. It was bad. I expected perfection and what I got was human. Nothing, short of life and death, is that bad. Let them F it up so they can learn and grow and figure it out for themselves.
Just like we had to.
There is a mean part of parenting no one tells you at the beginning when they hand you that bundle of smooshy cuteness. That is that one day you will be totally caught off-guard, by a surprise so big, so great and overwhelming nothing (not even ice cream and oh, I tried) can make it better. Until, suddenly you just move forward organically into the next stage.
Adultish (?) parenting.
I am still learning exactly what this next part of parenting means when I still pay for bills, and dole out spending money, but we’re learning to navigate the territory. Part coach, part friend, part parent, part nothing but a text at times and part in awe of what G-d let me have a hand in making – it’s weird, awesome and terrifying all at the same time.
No, I do not have my been there, done that Mom to guide me around the ropes of all of this. But, I hope I’m doing okay so far…So saddle up Senior Moms, and get ready for the ride of a lifetime.
Okay, I admit it. I am sorta in love with a football show. This anti-sports gal who once fought vehemently to win back her Sunday or Monday Nights now sits and discusses QB1s and plays (well, I’m still in a learning stage). My husband spent years trying to get me into football. Begged, pleaded, prodded, poked and then, gave up. It was a moot point. All I ever heard was “blah, blah, yardage, scrimmage”, yet here I am now eating wings, sipping Corona and watching a bit of the Patriots. It’s all because of Friday Night Lights, and I think now, I get it.
Yes, the people on the show are good looking. Yes, I could be some of their mothers, but I digress… Yes, the story lines are fun and interesting. But, my favorite part of the show is the married couple Tammy & Coach Taylor. They have one of the most ideal and real marriages I’ve seen on television. Tammy supports her coach husband in his role and he in turn, supports her back. They both work hard, raise the kids and show the value of a healthy marriage. They fight over lack of sex after baby, parenting teens, money issues and all the things most marriages do. But, what I adore about this couple (and yes, I know it’s all television – but as a writer, I get the value in good, realistic writing) is how she isn’t bit in the butt for supporting her husband and his career. It’s sort of old-school – make your man feel good about himself, meets new school – woman don’t take no crap from no one.
The messages all around me have always been First Kids, Then Husband. I dubbed it The Man Can Make His Own Damn Lunch. My mom used to make my dad lunch every day. I saw this and literally ever fiber of my 80s feminist mind wanted to puke (sorry, Mom). I made a personal vow that when I got married my husband would make his own damn lunch!
And, so he did. Brown bag and all.
But, I think early on that translated to me doing my thing, him doing his thing and then us doing our thing. It never even occurred to me that I could or would try out ‘his’ things or vice versa! But, over 19 years of marriage I’ve been trying out some of his interests and I actually enjoy them. Well, some of them. And, he has also tried some of my interests. Not because I asked or he asked, but just because it felt right.
A good marriage is a supportive and loving partnership. A great marriage consists of respecting your partner enough to try and get to know him even better. To listen, to snuggle up during his team game. To sometimes make him a brown bag lunch…
Last night I had a dream about an old friend.
Leah and I became close friends on my first day transferring in to a new school in the fifth grade. The only person who chose to sit next to me at lunch, I was forever grateful for her. Leah had a hard life for a 10-year-old, with her father recently dying of cancer and her mom remarrying a Sugar Papa. But, you’d never know it.
Leah was raised in a super-strict household with lots of rules and little flexibility. But, she didn’t care. She was full of life and spunk always “effing off” her step-monster when he left the room, flushing her okra down the toilet when her mom went to work ou’ or sitting in the formal living room (a huge no-no) when her parents were out for the evening.
Her house is where I first learned about, tasted and subsequently vomited, macrobiotic diet. Leah’s older sister taught me the phrase “A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips”. Hers was the first house I realized what eating disorders could really look like. I didn’t realize it at the time, but her Mom was grooming Leah to become a wife. “Whaaat boy will want you if you fatten up on that junk?” she’d often be heard saying in her heavy New York accent.
Leah’s house is where I would go to escape the chaos at my house, as her siblings had all grown up and left the nest. She was a lone survivor. Often spending hours in her room, we’d dream up our fancy filled adult lives, try on her clothes and pretend we lived anywhere but Far Rockaway, NY.
At 19, her strict family insisted Leah go get a husband. In an arranged marriage, after 4 dates, (he’s not that bad, she’d tell me after date 2. I think I can learn to love him, she said on date 3) Leah married a man a few years older than her. I attended their wedding, just like she would mine, a few years later. It was my first friend’s wedding- small, intimate and missing any aspect of the romantic love we had dreamed up all our lives. It was actually one of the saddest things I have ever attended – watching a lamb to the slaughter with a heavy, draped cloth over her face.
Leah and I stayed in touch for a time after her wedding. She was actually happy, she would tell me. Living in a very right-wing Orthodox Jewish community in Boro Park, NY, Leah was surrounded by families of 6, 7 or even 8+ children. Trying to stay thin so her husband would stay interested, she would have me visit only when he wasn’t home. He doesn’t like me to be distracted when he’s home, she would tell me rushing me back on the train.
After 4 years of no children arriving for her and her husband, Leah called me one morning after months of silence, hysterical crying. Her husband had informed her that with no children they would have to get a divorce.
She was devastated. I was relieved to get my Leah back.
I had only recently become a married woman and was completely confused about Leah’s situation. I did not know how or what to do to help her. She went back home to her mother’s home, her step-monster now dead.
I called a few times, but her Mom would tell me she was ‘unavailable’ so I figured she needed her privacy. But, weeks, than months went by with no returned calls. As quickly as she came back, she left my life again.
A number of years later, with the invention of Facebook, I looked her up. Up popped Leah’s profile, with a smiling, beautiful face I recognized. Excited to hear from her, I messaged her and waited. About a week later, Leah responded with one sentence. “Call me.” And, put her phone number.
My heart beating out of my chest, I quickly ran to the phone and dialed. I couldn’t wait to hear her voice and relive our old memories. More importantly, I wanted to see how she was doing. Leah’s so resilient, I am sure she’s amazing!, I would tell myself periodically when I thought of her.
A woman’s voice answered the phone after a number of rings. It wasn’t Leah. I asked for her and she put my on hold. I heard a lot of voices in the background. I assumed after all these years, maybe she had remarried and these were her children or something.
“Hello?” It was her!
I quickly bombarded her with a million questions. She began to laugh and told me her story.
After Leah’s forced divorce she had a mental breakdown. Needing to be medicated and calmed she was required to move into a mental institution in New York. She lived there for one year and then moved into a halfway house for women back in Brooklyn. The phone number she provided me with was her halfway home. She had been living there for over three years now, she explained. She had high hopes of soon getting a roommate and a place of her own. She told me some horrific stories of abuse in the mental institution and a sexual relationship she carried on with a much older man prompting her to get moved to this all women’s home.
As I wiped the tears from my cheeks, I could not believe what I was hearing. My beautiful friend, so full of light and spunk, now living in a halfway house in Brooklyn. I was furious with her family, furious with the world and wanted to scoop up Leah and run away.
We chatted a few more minutes about my life and she said her phone time was up and she had to go. I never heard from her again.
I dialed that number a dozen times and no one ever answered. Her Facebook account still active, but never used. Her old home number disconnected. And, now she’s lost to me.
I still think about her from time to time and I have this recurring dream, like I did last night. We are at a lake house, which looks just like her old childhood bedroom. We are in fancy outfits, pulled from her closet, and we are chatting with glasses of wine about our lives. The couch is soft and comfortable and she looks so happy. But, then it all changes and we’re suddenly in her kitchen and Leah has a glazed, scary look in her eyes. I wake up.
I pray for Leah, that she has found peace and happiness. I think about her often and send her good wishes and good health. Leah made my first day in a new school a happier one. Leah made my empty middle school angst full of fun, adventure and a whole lot of F-Bombs when things got rough. Leah made my breakups in high school and my unrequited crushes seem like glamorous stories from another world she could never be apart of. From midnight sneaks into the junk drawer she had hidden in her dresser, to prank phone calling the neighbors, I will never, ever forget you – wherever you are