Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Like this Article

Someone sent me this article via email today. I thought it was good and thought that you might enjoy it as well. I'd love for you to post your own note/advice. We can all learn from each other!

Written By Regina Brett
The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written."
1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry, God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
25. Frame every so-called disaster with these words “In five years, will this matter?".
26. Always choose life.
27. Forgive everyone everything.
28. What other people think of you is none of your business.
29. Time heals almost everything. Give time, time.
30. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
31. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
32. Believe in miracles.
33. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
34. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
35. Growing old beats the alternative – dying young.
36. Your children get only one childhood.
37. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
38. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
39. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
40. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
41. The best is yet to come.
42. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
43. Yield.
44. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.
45. The best is yet to come.

46. (from Krista)- When you are trying to get through something tough...Fake it 'til you make it!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I Wish I Could Be My Kids’ Grandparent

I have three great kids that mean the world to me. I spend my days and nights loving them, taking care of them, disciplining them, worry about them, and planning for their future. There is love, pride, fun, stress, and of course guilt involved at times. It is a very fulfilling job yet the responsibility involved can be a little overwhelming. Which school? Vaccinate or not? Is this really a bribe or merely a positive reinforcer? Organic or not? You know what I’m talking about. You just don’t want to do anything that will send them into lifelong therapy where they always seem to blame their MOTHER!

My newest hypothesis is…wouldn’t it be great to be their grandparents for a little while! I know it sounds weird but think about it. I’d be carrying around a bag of fruit snacks without thinking about the red dye or artificial corn syrup. I’d be buying the “cool” toys regardless of their absent volume control or the lofty price tag. If there’s a dirty diaper to be changed I could just volunteer to change it and be a saint for offering. When a big issue came up, I could offer advice and possibly feel some relief that I’m not the one making the final decision. I could be the one that they complain to when mom is “so mean.” I would still love them with all my heart and would jump in front of a bus for them without hesitation.

Of course I’m just being silly. I would never want to wish this experience away and frankly our parents have earned the right to be great grandparents. I just think that my kids would be better off if I took a step back every now and them and looked at them through grandparents’ eyes. There would probably be a little more laughter and whole lot less stress. It reminds me of when my son came upstairs at Grandpa’s house and said the cat bit him. When Grandpa looked a little puzzled and told him that the cat doesn’t bite, he quickly responded “Well he does if you push him off the couch!” Grandpa wasn’t concerned about him pushing the cat. He just found great humor in my son’s matter of fact response and the silly look on his face.

I remind myself now that “much of what children do is childish,” (Dr. Sears) and when I look at a behavior like potty training, I say to myself “she won’t be wearing that pull-up in college, right?” It seems to put things into a better perspective for me when I actually remember to do it.

My children really are funny and wonderful little people and I don’t want to take this time for granted. I’m blessed to be their mom and I look forward to the time (far, far, away of course) when I am a grandparent and I can spoil them and give them back. I would have earned it by then, right?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Why Stop Sharing Now?

I am sitting here with a dumb walking boot on my foot due to a stress fracture and feeling quite thankful for my husband. He refused to carry the laundry to the basement last night so that I could do the laundry today. He insists that we’ll do it together tonight because he doesn’t want me gimping up and down the steps to get it all done. I reminded him that I can manage just fine and he returned by reminding me that we share responsibilities around here.

This led me to think about how much things have changed for our generation of wives and mothers when I watch shows like “Mad Men,” or re-runs of “Happy Days.” This is not a statement of judgment on our parents’ and grandparents’ generations but merely an observation of my own experiences. One of the most striking differences between Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham and my husband and I, is that we do share or have shared most responsibilities from earning money, caring for kids, housework, and making decisions during our relationship. There have been times when I was the primary bread winner and he was a stay-at-home-parent, and visa versa. Of course, there have always been areas where he or I prefer to take the lead like medical decisions and gift giving for me or banking and lawn mowing for him. However, if I am at home more, it makes sense that I would do more housework and cooking and visa versa. If he is at home with the kids when I am out, he moves forward with the bedtime routine, etc. When he comes home at night he might say, “What needs to get done?” which puts us both on the same page. I think it is good to be careful not to say things like “Would you fold the laundry for me?” or “My husband is babysitting the kids.” because it sends the message that doing those particular tasks is your responsibility alone and your spouse is your helper vs. your partner. Don’t get me wrong, we approach responsibilities differently sometimes but it all seems to get done in the end. Overall, we try to manage our lives together and I see many of my friends living a similar experience.

This is why I find myself writing the same thing at weddings or baby showers when they ask everyone to provide the new couple or new parents with a piece of advice. I sum up it up this way…DO NOT DO IN THE 1ST YEAR of MARRIAGE OR PARENTHOOD, THAT WHICH YOU DO NOT WANT TO DO FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. I feel like this sets us expectations that can rarely be maintained as your family or career responsibilities keep growing.

For example, if you don’t want to be the only one who knows how the washing machine, oven, or dishwasher works…then don’t be the only one to do the laundry, cook, or do the dishes. If you don’t want to be the only one who changes a diaper, gives a bath, puts a child to bed, or enforces a time-out then don’t be the only one to take charge of those activities. Yes, the other person will do it differently than you but trust that you married a capable and loving person and walk away and get something else done and share taking the lead. This is why my husband’s ground rule is equally as important. He has always told me “You can tell me to do something or how to do it but not both.” Smart man!

At least for us, I feel like the work gets done faster so that we can spend more time in the evening doing what we want to do, which is going to bed early for my husband. I also think that it is good for our children to see that vacuuming isn’t just for Mom and Dad isn’t the only one who can put the Transformer’s arm back on (however he is so much better at it than me). After all we've been taught our whole life about the need to share, why stop now?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Good Grief!!

I had the pleasure of a wonderfully close relationship with my mother for 32 years. We talked everyday on the phone, sometimes more than once. She was the one that I told that my boyfriend (at the time) was “the one,” and he is now my wonderful husband. She was the first person that I would call when I left the pediatrician’s office to give her an update, needed recipe advice, or had great news that we were expecting a child. Sometimes, I even jokingly called her my “stalker” when she’d call me. Needless to say, our lives were intertwined.

Unfortunately, my mom unexpectedly passed away in March 2008 due to complications following a surgery she had had two weeks prior. I went to the ER that Sunday expecting to find her getting some tests ran for possible pneumonia and soon found myself hearing the ICU nurse on the phone tell me that her heart had stopped, they were “working on her,” and that she didn’t think that they’d be able to “bring her back.” I begged the nurse to tell Mom that we were here , that we loved her, and please do not to stop trying to save her. Minutes later, the doctors came out to tell us she was gone. Even now, the thought of that moment brings me to tears and I can feel my chest squeeze as if it were yesterday.

I find myself writing about this less than upbeat topic because I feel like it will be helpful for me as I continue to deal with the loss. I also know that grief is something that we all will experience in some way and at some time. I also know that it will leave friends and family feeling helpless. I also know that experiencing such a loss is not merely an event yet it marks the beginning of a process that will change your life.

Sometimes I find myself comparing the process to that of a chronic pain condition. The initial loss is like the falling off the ladder, getting in the car accident, or experiencing the injury. The pain is so intense but you need to survive so you just keep going. You stay positive and focus on what needs to get done and you make it through the initial days and weeks. The pain may remain visible to others who know you well for a while, as it is still fresh so you can’t hide it- like having a limp or wearing a cast. You still go to work, love on your kids, and make dinner. You just start realizing that something has changed in life. Something important and comforting is missing, and it sucks.

Eventually, you get to what I call the “chronic pain” phase. This is where I find myself now, almost 19 months later. It sounds cliché, but I think of and miss my Mom every single day. There is a silent yet ever present ache for her presence in my life. It is manageable and it is rarely visible to others. However, there are those moments when suddenly and often unexpectedly, the pain builds and comes to the surface. It is the song that reminds me of her, the kids randomly saying how much they miss her, my 1st birthday in 33 years without a card with her writing on it, or the thought that she will not be there to call when we adopt our next child that seem to sucker punch me.

I have chosen to use this “ache” as a reminder that relationships are a blessing, need to be attended to, and never undervalued. I have chosen to embrace the pain because I know that I could never feel such grief unless I had first been blessed enough to feel great love and "joy.” I had a close relationship with her for 32 years that others may not experience in a much longer lifetime. I also believe that my Mom has become a part of Heaven and I believe that my pain serves as a reminder that she is experiencing true bliss. I know that she would demand of me that I spend my efforts spoiling her grandkids, loving those she left behind, and laughing about the fun we had. After all, only my Mom believed in the healing powers of Vick’s salve, the use of a good old metal spoon for boo-boos, and that Breyer’s ice cream was much colder than other brands.

Patrick Swayze said in the movie Ghost, ““It’s amazing Molly. The love inside, you take it with you.” Here’s to my Mom who I am sure had a lot of love to take with her. Also, from the conversations I have with people who knew her, she left a little bit of “joy” with some of them as well.