The Good Old Days

Her room sat  like a capsule of honor

waiting for her return

like echoes I  would hear  conversations we once shared

when  I would wake her up in the morning…

I miss those mornings sometimes…

 there was a time…

I once mourned as each child

was plucked from my nest

I waned to scream…. “But wait I am not done YET!!!”

And then I stood proudly as I watched them fly

So high, so strong,

I couldn’t help but take a little credit as I looked on….

And now I am okay. Really I am.

I even enjoy only having to get me ready and out the door again these days.

No diaper bags, or back packs to remember or in my case, forget….

And yet it sometimes stings just a little to know

that those chapters have been written

I don’t have to wonder who my children will be as I did once as a young girl..patting my belly and whispering in wonder… “Who are you in there, who will you be?”

I know them now and I am proud of the children I have had as I watch them soar to heights far above my imagination.

I wander around the walls of my life and look out the windows of my memory

and if I let myself… I can wander even farther back, back,

and reflect on the regrets of things I never accomplished or wish I had done  and that is when I see….

That these really and truly are the good old days, the days I have the freedom and the time to write my book

and live in the chapters yet to be written…

The days when my babies still can return for visits….

And so can other people! Cuzzzz we have a guest room now! GRIN~ (Of course my little chickadee has first dibs!)

Yes, these are the days  where I finally learn that….

                                                                                                                                                      The best is yet to be….

The Wrong Gate!

Just another empty nest story….

My heart goes out to Mamas this time of year. It’s that notorious time of letting go… For some, it is an exciting time of new beginnings. For others, it is a time of dread. I know both too well. The one place I feel like a true expert. Once upon a time, I left both my babies their first day of school. My son was a little different because I worked when he was a baby so the sting of leaving him on his first day of school was a bit muted after leaving him with sitters and at Day Care but I do have a few stories that were memory makers.

Though I loved him dearly, my first husband was a little selfish and careless when it came to parenting. Funny, because when I first met him, I watched him with his little niece and he obviously loved her very much. As I watched him color with her and listened to their  conversation and the sweet exchange,  I KNEW that I wanted him to be the father of our future children. Don’t get me wrong, he ended up being a good dad in many other ways but in his youth, and theirs, at a pretty crucial time, when I needed him to be seriously responsible, he just wasn’t. One shining example is when my son was about two, I woke up the next morning to a big mess. I had waitressed the night before while my husband babysat and I guess he had a small party with some of his regular friends over or so I thought. Obviously some other friends of his I did not know came over that night as well.

As I was cleaning the mess up from the night before, I frowned when I noticed a treasured mirror my very best friend had given me was laying on the coffee table. Puzzled,  I thought that was odd and wondered why it was there until I saw my son pick up a straw and stick it in his nose. Horrified, I realized exactly why he did that and what his innocent eyes had witnessed the previous night and my nightmare began.

I realized that my son’s own father was not going to be the one watching him ever again or at least for a very long time. I promptly went back to school to get a job so that I could work  in the day, put him in Day Care where I knew he would be well watched without coke heads partying in front of him. And even though that may have been a one time incident and little did my husband know that his own barely two year old baby  unknowingly toldl on him, I freaked out enough to realize that it was up to me to take care of my baby. So between my mom and a neighbor, I found safe child care. Sometimes a mama has to do what a mama has to do. And it is ALWAYS about putting the safety of your kids first. Period. I don’t think I even made a big deal about it. I just adjusted things and filed the information away realizing what I was dealing with.

Fast forward, a few months, I finished school, was working and had my son in what I thought was a good school when we ran into the Director of that school. I loved her. She was amazing, or so I thought until my son totally freaked out when she came up to him at a local Fair. I had no idea why, and it didn’t matter. I promptly removed him from that school and put him in a Christian School until we finally moved and I was able to stay home. By then I was pregnant with his sister and had enrolled him in the public school around the corner. He was in second grade and I walked him to school the first day.

He was already showing signs of not needing his mom by then. Though I could tell that he was a little happy that I was there. I had packed his lunch trying to imagine him eating it and thinking of me, lovingly putting in all his favorites, how funny. Now I know he wasn’t thinking of me at school while he was eating his lunch!!! As a young mom, it helped to imagine that anyway~

He had a new backpack and new clothes he could care less about but it made me feel better  knowing  his shoes were new. I prayed all the way to school that he would find a new friend and like his teacher. As soon as he saw the first glimpse of the school, he dropped my hand. Ouch. He puffed up and marched into the line of his new second grade class. Leaving me totally in the dust. Double Ouch. I smile as I think back at how I felt back then. I decided to not make it worse by trying to kiss him but I did remind him what gate to meet me at when school was out. “I KNOW mommm!” He stated as he followed his new class to their classroom.

When school got out that day, I was excited to hear about his day. I watched for him. I watched for his class. I thought I saw his teacher. But I never saw my kid. I panicked. I went to his class. It was empty. I went to the other gate. Everyone was since long gone. I finally went to the office. I was barely four months pregnant but I felt as if I was going to go into labor right there when they told me to call the police! I ran home crying, hysterical. My neighbors had their screendoor opened and I didn’t know what to do or who to call so I told my friend across the street the whole sorry story. She immediately got on the phone and cussed out the office saying “WHO tells a pregnant mother to call the police?” Then we hopped into my other neighbors car promptly drove back to the school.

So let me clarify, I had come from the arms of a private school where anyone picking up my child practically had to give their blood type before they would release him from their care, to a school that loses your children and then takes no responisbility after they have done it! I laugh now but you have no idea the feeling I had back then. I can still feel it even though it was almost 25 years ago. Well, obviously we found him. My friends and I split up and one of them came back with him in tow…. He had gone to the wrong gate! Oh my gosh. Really?!

I guess my point of sharing this story is: we all have those memory making moments… The first days of school, the first time you let go of the back of their bike without training wheels, the first time you watch them drive off with their fresh new license in hand. And then off to school or to whatever life they are heading to. The thing we have to adjust to is that no matter what the age, 7 or 17 or 32…. when they take that metaphoric hand out of ours it hurts a little. We let go in different ways throughout the years. And then we finally adjust to that empty nest. Or do we? Yes, we do. We start writing our own second chapter. We realize that we made all our dreams come true in our first chapter and become inspired to write the next and then the next, only imagining what we can do!

Like I always say, I will always see the little feathers stuck at the bottom of my nest and remember that my own little birds once filled that nest giving me a lot of joy. And know that even now, they sometimes will end up at the wrong gate. But my prayer is that there will be a lot more right gates than wrong… and that sometimes they will come home to let me hold their hand from time to time and I will understand when they need space, and pray that they will always know  that I will be okay when they let go but will always be here  with an outreached hand and a soft place to fall as needed. Because…. I’ll love you forever and forever your mommy I will always be.

What To Expect When You Are Expecting…….To Let Go

Continued from my previous blog:

Hints you need to know to avoid the  (tickets, roommate fall outs, cars getting towed, etc….)

1. If possible scope out the areas she/he will be living. Actually make the drive that they will be driving at the times they will be driving it. (more than once) My daughter moved 17 miles away from her school in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. We were thinking 30 mins max to get to and from. The reality is that at the best, if she hit no real traffic issues, she could make it in an hour and fifteen minutes, ONE way. When you figure it out, you should scope out the areas that are no more than 15 minutes away or less!

2. Once you decide on the neighborhoods you want to look for a place in, make sure that your kidlet will have a parking place! If you have to, budget it into the price! This is a must! A deal breaker, a non-negotionable comodity! Believe me, you will thank me for making this so important. I have stayed over night in my daughter’s studio apartment when she did not have a designated parking spot and she could spend an hour circling her block waiting for a spot that sometimes could be a ten minute walk away. After midnight, you don’t want to be picturing your baby making that walk, believe me! I couldn’t wait until that year’s lease was up!

3. Which brings me to rule #3 Have it crystal clear that you would like a say in the location before they sign a lease!!! Even though they may have a 4.0 gpa and be smarter than you. They don’t know what NO PARKING means when they see it on a lease. When the Manger is reassuring her that it is “no problem” and they are only looking at this cute little empty apartment they want to make their very own… well, lets just say you might need to look at the neighborhood they will be walking from when they finally find a parking place five blocks away. I know they KNOW more than we do and really don’t want our in-put but as long as you are footing some of the bill, set the boundaries before they snap their suit case shut. make sure that your in-put counts.

4. Keep the keeping in touch rule! My daughter texted me when she stepped inside her apartment every night for the first couple of years. All I asked is that she text me one word. HOME. I was told by my friends that I was lucky, I was told I was too controlling. I didn’t care. I wanted to know my baby was safe. I was blessed because she usually added I love you I’m Home. It made me feel better and later, she told me that it made her feel cared for. I got her a nice phone when she left and she was happy to accomodate me. Today she lives with someone who cares about if she is home safe or not so I feel that I can let go. But unitl that time, don’t feel bad that you care and if you set up the expectations early, you won’t be one of those parents fretting that you haven’t heard from your child for two weeks! But THESE are the kind of conversations you need to talk about before you make that drive with them to help them move out.

5. When you pack their first few tubs, here are some things you need to include; A tool box with a hammer, nails, a measuring tape, screw drivers, wrench, pliers, heavy duty scissors and a glue gun. And a Bible wouldn’t hurt! You can go grocery shopping when you get there. Don’t forget toilet paper, paper towels, contact paper or drawer liners, foil etc.. make a list before you pack of things you think they will need. Keep adding to it through out the days before you leave.

6. Choosing roomates is crucial. The shorter the lease the better in case things are just not tolerable.It is hard enough to send your excited baby off out into the big old world but when they are lonely and miserable, it is agony for us parents!  If the choice is only strangers try to have your child get to know them on facebook or other cyperspace ways so that they can really get to know as much as they can to see if they will be a good fit. Sometimes when it isn’t it just has to be a growing experience for the kids but being pro-active is helpful.

7. When you choose the neighborhood, look for street sweeping signs or no parking signs and point them out. That first phone call of “Mom, my car was stolen!” can really wake you right up in the middle of the night. Chances are it was towed! Believe me… maybe more than once. And no matter how well you think you have taught your kid to be a defensive driver, those fender benders are bound to happen once or twice the first couple of years. If they dont~ Praise the Lord! If they do… don’t over-react and Praise the Lord, it wasn’t worse!

8. Have a budget for care packages! Or….get used to buying Target and Trader Joe gift cards (shipping charges are much cheaper in the end!) I know, I know, you want to make sure they have dish detergent and toilet paper but after buying the lastest bikini cover up and going withouyt toilet paper , they will get used to prioritizing!  For some reason it always made me feel better if I sent a big jar of peanut butter and lots of cans of soups and tuna. Do you know how much that weighs?? Argh… I finally had to trust my little bird to buy the staples she needed without my guidance!

9. If they are going to work for extra money, start looking at the job market  before they move. Chances are they will find a job on their own and should but it’s nice to know what to expect.

10. A nice gift to send them off with is a gas card, with strict limitations, (If they are hungry, there usually always is a little grocery section in every gas mart.)  And if they are taking their car with them,  AAA is a must. It is worth your peace of mind knowing your baby is safe!

Hope that helps… take it from a proud mom who has watched her baby learn to fly and then to soar. I am amazed at the levels she has risen to! But believe me, there were a few bumps along the way getting there and it would have been nice to have a book like… What To Expect When You Are Expecting  …….. To Let Go.

Facebook; The Click of a Key Rocked MY World!

My first love found me on facebook. We had a rocky break up but lets face it you never forget your first. He was the first one who asked me to marry him. The first one that I really loved back. The first one who I cared what he thought. My very first everything. We were both young and terribly naive. We let pride and other people play us like game pieces on a board.

Our past hurts from childhood and life such as it was in the few years we had lived it, controlled our destiny. There was abuse and no matter how much I excuse it now as I understand my first love’s own childhood hurts, the things that happened mattered and they positioned me in my life for my future and my way of loving. I built walls where there shouldn’t have been and never let go in exactly the same way.

When I became a mother I was not prepared for the love I felt. It was like no other and yet I feel I didn’t really grasp motherhood fully until I had my daughter seven years later. Before I had her, I wasn’t sure that I could ever love anyone as much as I loved my son but other mothers were right… your heart finds room.
And with my daughter, my heart did not have to make much of an effort to make room for her. From the beginning we just seemed to “get” each other. For the first time, since that wall went up, I felt the wall finally coming down.

At different times in my life, pieces of the wall were able to at least be moved but it stood strong most of the other times. So you can imagine my surprise when I accepted my exe’s friend request and finally felt that wall come tumbling down. In the click of a key we were transported back to our youth. And I stood at a door that I viewed as an opportunity to a kind of a “Do Over.”  Or adventures to be had in the midst of a full fledged mid life crisis. WARNING: You can’t ever go back. There are no such things as DO OVERS.

Am I sorry I clicked the key? You might think that I should yell from the mountain tops a resounding YES!!! But in a way, I guess I have to say that nothing ventured, nothing gained….If I hadn’t taken the time to walk down the path of my past, I may never have been able to see the beauty when looking down the path of my future or just being able to appreciate how lovely the present truly can be.