Thursday, May 26, 2011

Potty talk...

Ever hear about stories that you think "that can't be true!"? This time, can't means "Please don't let this be true!"

Today I heard a story that I found to be so sad. Bad parenting has taken on a new meaning. Competitive mothering is a word I often use about 08807-moms who try to show how they protect their children in the name of good mothering, when really they have a sick ulterior motive: to feel that they are the better mothers.

Today I heard a story about over-parenting gone awry.

A friend of mine has a 5 year old.  He travels abroad for many months at a time for his job. And apparently his wife who stays home has some unconventional ideas about appropriate parenting.

She's wants to hold her kid back from beginning kindergarten. That's normal enough around here - it seems every parent with a child born in August or September keeps their kid home an extra year. (Except those of us who don't... but that's for a different blog). Most parents do it to let their kid be more confident. Or maybe on larger so they can play varsity sports in high school - long-term planning.

This Mom is considering it because she hasn't potty trained him! (Apparently he had two accidents so she gave up!). She doesn't want him to use the words pee or poo. In fact, she lectured a neighbor's pre-school child (this didn't happen in the 08807-area) for telling another child "I have to go pee". The disservice she is doing her son, imho, borders on harmful. Crazy woman. Who does that to a kid???? "I didn't feel like potty training him, so I didn't because I think the word Pee is offensive!"

Judging other moms is what I hate most in motherhood. But sometimes, it's just hard not to. I don't know her well enough to say something, but I think it is harmful to her kid.

The bar just fell a little lower, and the Moms who make me nuts here just got one-upped. Not in a good way!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Tuesday morning view of the world....

It's a very humid morning. I can't tell whether it will rain or not. But I can tell that there is no reason to fight it: I can't do anything about my hair. Put some gel in it and let it do it's thing. The frizzy curl is a force unto itself!

My office is an amazing place - I'm amazed by the temperature variation. Offices vary from the 80s to the low 60s. My office (well, my "closet") is usually around 62 F, even if the office across the hallway is probably 25 degrees warmer. We spend a lot of time talking about the office's weather. Yesterday I literally wore 2 sweaters to keep warm! It is beyond our control.

Today IT is upgrading some system, so we will be without e-mail, the server and our main software all day long. Also, beyond my control.

Maybe it's a good time to focus on what I can control.

A few weeks ago I suggested to my boss that he send me on a small mission. Today I intend to remind him that I'm up to the challenge and hope he sends me. I want to prove myself.

Maybe that's not completely within my control either, but I think it's worth a try. That's what 2011 is about: trying.

What are you attempting today?

*** Afternoon viewpoint update:

Mission plans shot down. Spent day doing dull administrative tasks. May have to take summer off to job search. What color is my parachute? Hopefully a nice shade of tan!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Yes, it was Monday - definitely Monday....

I started to blog (at least in my head) about what a crappy day this has been. About how I didn't have the right paperwork when I went to get N's passport renewed how the day otherwise was so mediocre. How all I really want to do is turn on the TV, pour myself a glass of wine and knit my Montour shawl... but I should exercise, clear the table and fold laundry.

And then while I was sourly blogging in my head, I clicked my mouse over to Facebook and read something that was like a slap across the face. I was suddenly ashamed for yelling at my daughter only a few minutes before. El's daughter L's facebook status asked how she was supposed to survive the rest of her life without her mom, when it's only been 3 months.

I thought of El today. I think of her often. I was at Gray's - my favorite Bridgewater florist. I was thinking about all the flowers I bought for El in her last months. Sunflowers were her favorite. I thanked the proprietor. She put signs up for me during the election - and took some heat for it from my opponents - but she said I was a faithful customer. I generally buy flowers for 3 reasons: as a gift, as a pick-me-up and to bring if we are invited somewhere. I would love to bring El sunflowers, sometimes mixed with irises. I loved the contrast. 

Yesterday I thought of El too. El gave me all her yarn - and no matter how optimistic I am, I know I will never knit with ALL of it, so I gave some to my friend Pam who knits for LOTS of good causes. Pam writes the Courier's In Stitches knitting blog. Yesterday we met for coffee. She is using El's yarn to knit bears for needy children (to be honest I can't remember which kids, but I am sure they need them). I think El would have liked that idea a lot. 

I think I'll follow in Pam's footsteps, but instead of knitting a bear for the needy, I'll knit one for El's daughter L. She's putting up a strong front, but she is still pretty needy... how is she going to survive the rest of her life? Only with continued love and support. I can only support her as well as I support my own daughter, and today I was no stellar example of loving parenting. It's time to go apologize for my outburst, give my kids a kiss good night and cast on the stitches needed to start a bear.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Thelma and Louise become parents!

A few weeks ago I spent the weekend with my friends from high school. BS (yes, his initials...) reminded us of an incident that I had forgotten on a ski trip. The chaperone came to check the boys' room and we (girls) had to hide quickly... I didn't believe him. But yesterday when I accidentally found my high school diaries, I decided to do some "research" into his story. It was worse than B's claim!  I was so embarrassed, that after reading a few sentences I couldn't bring myself to finish the entire entry and put the diary back where I found it! (Sorry, folks, no more info than that, it's not that kind of blog!). A skeleton jumped out the my closet and cried "BOO!"

None of my Bridgewater friends have told me stories like these from their teen years. Most appear to have had a couple of nice boyfriends before entering relationships that turned into longer marriages. None of my friends in Bridgewater were sound like they were bad girls in high school.  By contrast, my experiences were those of an academic goodie-goodie, who spent her weekends being reckless.
We all are concerned about our teenagers' decisions. I wonder, could having made such colossally bad decisions in my own youth make me a better parent than my "goodie goodie neighbors" who have had a lifetime of straight paths and good choices?

I've done it all - and my kids should know: they can't sneak out of the house. The old trick of replacing liquor with water, one shot at a time - also on my checklist.  Apparently I was a great liar too. When I was 14, I convinced my friend's Mom to leave us at a party with senior boys. Why did I talk to her instead of her daughter? Because her daughter was hiding upstairs, too drunk to go home. What excuse could I have possibly come up to get Mrs. Mom to leave? Dunno, but I will always second guess strange stories from my kids' friends! I can sense cigarette or pot smoke from a mile away and chapped lips... are a tell-tale sign of too much kissing. But I know when I was being most destructive, I was also at the lowest point of my life. Feeling like no one loved me besides my Dad and my friend BP. Perhaps that is the clue: make sure my kids know I love them. Always.

My diaries are probably a great read, if I could bring myself to do it. A venerable "WHAT NOT TO DO". Talking over stories with MC yesterday, I felt ashamed. We were both scratching our heads. How did we both end up so stable (married with kids, degrees and mortgages)? Did our mistakes lead us on the straight and narrow trajectory toward suburbia, or was it luck? What changed? Some of my bad choices probably came out of my situation. I've blogged about losing Dino when I was 15 several times. Had I not lost my brother, would I have made better decisions throughout high school? Would I have had as much fun?

Maybe it came down to parenting? My mom knew a lot of what we were up to.  When one of my friends was kicked out of her house (for heavy drugs, no less) Mom welcomed her into our home. If one of C's friends needed a bedroom and a mother after doing something that awful, I'd like to think I'd follow in my Mom's example but would I be as compassionate for my own daughter or son? If not, who could they turn to that would understand?

I hope my kids will make better decisions, because their friends are good kids. Was EM's bad influence the real source of blame? Or is getting drunk and hanging with members of the opposite sex simply part of growing up, and I'm naive to think my kids will avoid it? Maybe I am stupid to think the "nice moms" I know in Bridgewater just don't admitting to their past lives' secrets?

And maybe, in this uber-protective enclave where people have no problem telling me that I shouldn't trust my kids to walk down our street, letting them make mistakes, as my Mom let me, is the best thing I can do as a parent? Her example demonstrates that life is complicated for both parents and kids. Everyone will make some bad decisions! I just have to forgive myself for things I did over 25 years ago, and enjoy a good (albeit possibly rated R) book.

As Don Henley says, "It (a song) took about 42 years to write... and about 4 minutes to sing." That's exactly how I feel about Summer 1985-Summer 1986...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Love, understanding and volleyball

I play volleyball every Thursday with my faithful friend, S.

How many times do I have to miss before I'm not allowed to say that anymore??? I don't want to say "I played volleyball" because that sounds like I've quit the team or I had to stop because on an injury. But that's not it at all. Life just gets in the way. Today it's not life, so much as it's me. I'm tired and I would need to shave my legs, but I haven't got a razor. Is that a "legit" excuse?

We don't even play on a team. The rec department has a Thursday night open "pick-up" game volleyball that it organizes (well other than reserve the room, provide nets and cash our checks, you can't say they are organizing it - the "men" do that - dividing up teams and arguing over the rules).

My very, very faithful friend. Someone whom I can always count on to listen to me rant and rave or cry no matter how trivial... we are so different (she is quiet and reserved, a numbers person and responsible), and she still loves me despite my loudness, inability to keep a checkbook (not that she'd really know) and complete disorganization.

Every time I blow it off, I feel bad because I'm letting her down.

So really, the question isn't how many times can I miss volleyball before I can't claim to play it, but how many times can I disappoint my friend and partner in crime. As I've noted before, the guys can be condescending, and even mean, so we need one another for moral support, a smile and a "good game!"

Good thing that I'm sure our friendship can handle a little disappointments. I love you, S.
This is for you:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A sign?

Everyone has secrets... one of mine is that when I go grocery shopping, I am usually in a hurry (either I'm needed at home or I have put the perishables) but I still manage to spend (or waste?) five minutes looking at knitting magazines. Starting at $7 a pop, I almost never buy any. Today, however, I did!  I couldn't resist. It was an Interweave Press magazine and most of the stuff looked very basic. But I had to have this issue. I think the magazine was a sign: go back to your roots. Go back to yourself.

About 18 months ago I bought myself yarn. Not just any yarn - a blend of merino wool, cashmere and silk, aptly called Sublime. I bought it in a gorgeous red color - on sale, of course - and it has been sitting in my closet ever since. I promised myself that I wouldn't start anything with it until I had finished the sweater for T and I've kept that promise so far. I've got about 99.9% of it done. But that last .1% is left - and I'm stuck.

Isn't it a bit optimistic to start something new before I have finished what I've already been working on and unable to finish for years? But after searching high and low I've found the pattern, or at least the series I'll choose from.

The one I think I'll knit is called Montour Falls cardigan. There are other patterns called Seneca and Lodi. Places near and dear to me. Montour Falls is only about 15 miles from where I grew up. Seneca Lake is only a few miles farther up Route 14.

I like knitting to mean something. Summer is coming. I know it must be soon (60s and tons of rain on this May day). Why not knit something that is named in honor of my favorite area... my home? Why not start it? On this rainy night, it will feel nice to have the yarn I've been waiting to knit for so long between my fingers. I could have started it months or years ago - but I guess I needed something special about a pattern. This one will say: go back to your roots. Where you are happy and comfortable and feel loved. As Dorothea says at the end of Oz - if you ever go looking for your heart's desire, you don't need to look any farther than your own backyard.

Montour, indeed!

*** Editorial note: I know that Montour is spelled that way, but Ravelry spelled it Mountour, so I assumed *I* was wrong. Clearly, a native of the Southern Tier should know better than a silly knitting site, but I didn't trust myself. I looked it up and corrected the blog. Sorry folks.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dog House....

Do you know what it's like when you know someone close to you is angry at you? 

Maybe my readers are perfect... and everyone adores them unconditionally, and you read this blog to see examples of imperfection. This blog is about lots of things: my perfection has never been a topic.

Again, I'm in a Dog House. Often when I've hurt someone's feeling or done something wrong I like the direct approach: apologize, fix it and go on. This time I wonder: Speak openly and hope to come to an understanding, or ignore it, brushing it under the rug and hoping the disappointment in me blows away? This time I tried to approach the subject... with no luck. Mostly it made clear how angry she is. Since that didn't work, do I ignore it, and wait for the unexpected, but inevitable, attack?

No one I know has memory issues (unless working TOO well is a medical defect). She will remember "how I wronged her" far longer than all the good I've done for her over the years.  I can hear her now: criticizing soccer mom "if she hadn't run for BOE she would have had plenty of time to do this!  It was so selfish of her to run!" Or "If she hadn't gone back to work, she would have done this." Or "Isn't it like Soccer Mom to mess this up! She's so bad at this stuff! Someone else (whom I'm often compared to and come up short) is soooo much better than Soccer Mom. She would have never done that!" The disdain in her voice. And, the irony is that I'm not really at fault - someone else made this decision. And, ultimately, nothing was stopping her from doing what she wanted anyway.

I can say the mea culpa, but even a beautiful apology doesn't erase a bad memory. 

Have a good Sunday.......  I'm meeting  former colleague for breakfast. I need it!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ambivalent Celebrant Part Two

Rarely do I delete a post. I can think of only three posts I've deleted out of the hundreds I've written, but Ambivalent Celebrant is now the 4th lost to cyberspace's netherworld.

In it I sounded like a sour-puss and a spoiled child. Lamenting that because they are all sleeping, my kids and husband probably think I'm a terrible mom. After it's short-lived publication, I took the dog for a run and cleared my head. Maybe it's the fresh air, the sun, or even the endorphins, I realize that mine was misplaced anger and I am a fortunate woman. My children love me, they care about me - and they even look like me!

As I ran, I thought about El and her daughter, L who is spending her first Mother's Day without her mother. Not what you want for a 12 year old. I also thought of El's Mom, who is spending her first mother's day without her special daughter.  Who gives a damn what I do today! Sleep til 6pm, I don't care. I have a wonderful family and we are healthy and happy and together.

N was in tears when he woke up (as I was leaving with Diego). He hadn't planned anything. I assured him it wasn't too late and I loved him no matter what, but he still felt bad. Me going for a run was a chance for him too - he wanted to make something for me. No help from his teachers, from his dad or from me.

When I got back I found that C had made me a card thanking me for all I do- and the oven is on... It's hard not to go and see what is in it. I'll know in 14 minutes.

Yesterday I got a letter from BRRSD that my son had made it into E-Science. He is finally getting validation of his scientific mind. What more could a Mom want on Mother's Day weekend?  Well, one thing this mom needs is a shower and a stretch.... otherwise NO ONE will want to spend the day with sweaty, smelly me!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

On friendship

Today I spent the day with a very special family (and lots of other people). When our daughters were still very small I hoped we might get invited to their daughter's bat mitzvah, since I'd never been to one before. Today we celebrated E's big day.  These friends moved to Florida last summer, but they flew up to have the party here (the religious portion was a few weeks ago).

E's Mom and I have a special relationship. We have a lot in common: we look somewhat alike, with dark curly hair. We have strong opinions (which are often similar) and we both love a good laugh. Our husbands are somewhat alike in looks and demeanor. We both have a daughter and son. And we have the same first name and last initial. Spending the day with her was absolutely wonderful.  We started our girl scout troop as co-leaders and have been having fun "winging it" ever since.

But what struck me the most was the girls. Five of them were in the same kindergarten class. Over time their groups have expanded and contracted, and as they left girl scouts for soccer, and soccer for cheer, new girls have come in and out of the picture. Eight years is a long time for girls to stay friends. As one of the moms and I surveyed the room, we talked about how much we liked these girls and how fortunate we are that they are good girls. Of course, they can all be mouthy and rude, manipulative or mean. And while I am sure we have many headaches and dramas ahead of us, I know they will turn out as good people in the end.

Seven years ago I wondered if we'd be at her Bat Mitzvah. Today I wondered if we'd be at her wedding. They have suitable taste in friends, so I don't worry, although I'm curious: Who will our girls fall in love with? It takes a special friendship to last a lifetime. I hope my daughter's friendships will continue to grow, and once again we will watch them dance the day (or night) away, so involved in their own happiness that they don't notice the boys, or us moms, dancing in small groups on the periphery.

"I got a feeling, that tonight's gonna be a good night...."