Tag Archives: momday monday

MomDay Monday – I’ve Been Called Worse

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“Merry Christmas, Mr. White. And to you Mrs. White.”

A simple greeting from someone we’ve known a long time. But as she said, “Mrs. White” her face dropped & she stammered for a moment, apologizing as she leaned in to give me a hug. As if she had said something wrong. It’s a common reaction. People just don’t know what to call me sometimes. In her defense, we were standing in a Catholic church. The Kids had just served Christmas mass & The Ex & I were waiting for them to change out of their robes. Let’s face it… it’s not exactly the place to go when you want to be around people who are comfortable with your divorce.

I specifically kept my married name after the divorce. I did ask The Ex if it was okay. I mean, it was his name first & I guess I thought that maybe he wouldn’t want me to use it anymore. But it’s my kids’ name. And they were young enough at the time that I didn’t want to deal with schools & clubs & teams trying to sort out different last names.

I suppose it’s not the name so much as the “Mrs.” that throws people off. Whereas a man will always be called “Mr.” regardless of his marital status, a woman gains the title of “Mrs.” only when she’s married. So when she’s no longer married….? What then?

I can’t speak for every divorced woman. I’m sure there are those out there who would keep their married name then get offended at being called “Mrs.” – as if the most important thing for everyone on earth is to know what title they prefer. As for me, I feel like my last name came with the “Mrs.” so if that’s what you want to call me, feel free – especially if you met me when I was actually a Mrs.

Somehow, in my little mind, the title goes with the parenting of these two kids. “Mrs.” equates to “Mom.” I was Mrs. when these two cherubs came into being. It took Mr. & Mrs. to create them. It’s still a perfectly acceptable thing to call me.

If you feel more comfortable with “Ms.” that’s fine too. Want to go with a straight up “Miss”? Do it. (Although “Miss” implies youth & I actually get pissed when I’m asked for an ID. I mean, do a lot of 19-year-olds struggle with crows feet?) Or just use my first name. Or “Hey… The Girl’s Mom”! or “Yo – Boy’s Mom!” Whatever works.

So as she leaned in for the hug, apologizing for calling me “Mrs.” I said, “Lots of people still call me Mrs. White. Please don’t feel bad.”

Because believe me – whatever you call me… I’ve been called worse.

Mr Mrs

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MomDay Monday – As I See…

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Just days after Veterans Day, my friend Shannon sent her husband John off into the great unknown that is military deployment. A mom of three, this military life has taken her family around the country to their current life in Virginia. I am beyond grateful that their nationwide tour brought them to my city & into my life. I am beyond sad that their time here ended & they moved on to greater things (MomDay Monday – Goodbye Friends).

We no longer talk every day – a fact made inevitable by life & kids & jobs & homes – although we’re still in touch when we need to be. But through the magic of social media, we still get to see a piece of each other’s lives. Usually it’s the sunny & the shiny things we post. This morning I woke up to this post from Shannon:

“Social media is remarkable:
As I see posts of children and families smiling, playing and enjoying life I think to myself: I just sent my husband off to protect that.
As I see posts of attacks in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad I think to myself: I just sent my husband off to defend that.
As I see posts about gun control and our government I think to myself: I just sent my husband off to protect that.
As I see posts of the American flag waving proudly through the sky I think to myself: I just sent my husband off to defend that.
Here I sit, with my stomache in knots, struggling to catch my breath at times, and my heart in pieces, I am emotional and powerless because I just sent my husband, an active duty service member of the United States of America off into a troubled world of uncertainty and unpredictability and I wonder do others ever sit back and think what THAT feels like? God bless America and the Sailors who possess the strength to walk across that ships brow into the unknown world to defend and protect Americans, or the Soldiers who stand on the enemies soil prepared to fight in hopes of returning home soon. I could not be more proud of my husband and my family for all the things we muscle through, and I hope that others take a moment and reflect on just a few of the sacrifices made from the military and their families so you can enjoy your freedom and democracy: because I just sent my husband off to defend and protect that.”

I’ve written about my nephew, Dan & his time in the Marines (MomDay Monday – God Speed). But that knot in my stomach that I talked about is from an aunt’s perspective – not from someone who lived with him daily. How much bigger must that knot be when it’s the person you most rely on?

As John deployed last night, Shannon posted this picture with the caption “Goodbyes are not beautiful, but true love certainly is. Stay safe lover!!

John & Shannon

I’m sure she’ll forgive me for stealing her picture.

I couldn’t comment. Couldn’t even “like” it. Once again I watch this family go through a deployment. And this time, it’s from too far away to do anything but pray. Especially in light of everything that’s happened in the world in the past week, I hate that my friend has to go through this.

Like Shannon, I could not be more proud of John. And I could not be more proud of Shannon & her children as they endure yet another round of uncertainty. So as we pray for Paris & Beirut & refugees who have no home, please… add a prayer not only for our military, but for those who just sent their husband off to defend & protect.

MomDay Monday – Trust is Overrated

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Me: “Leave your binder downstairs with your backpack. If you forget it, I’m not coming back home to get it for you.”

The Boy: “I want it upstairs with me in my room. I put it by my door so I remember it.”

The Boy has a binder that he brings all of his schoolwork home in. For some reason, he insisted on bringing it up to his room when he went to bed. Me, in all my wisdom, couldn’t resist the fight. If I want to remember something in the morning, I put it by the back door where I know I’ll see it when I leave in the morning. I just didn’t get his reasoning & thus the fight began.

With the final words, “Why can’t you just do what I ask? Why is everything such a fight with you?” I stormed out of the room & downstairs to make lunches. Muttering to myself, I heard someone on the stairs. I knew it was him. He will usually come downstairs for a hug if we have an argument. But this time, he just headed back up. When I left the kitchen, I saw his binder downstairs with his backpack.

And I immediately felt like shit.

The truth is… I don’t trust my kids. I always know best. ALWAYS.

And yet… I don’t.

They’re getting older, these two cherubs of mine. And sometimes they have ways of doing things that work better for them than anything I could have taught them.

They come home after school to an empty house. And in the hours before I get home, they do their homework & any chores that I’ve left them. The Girl gets ready for swim team practice. And judging by their posts on Instagram, they have some time to relax. All without my presence & constant interference.

They come downstairs in the morning & feed the pets, get themselves breakfast & get their things together. Again, with no input from me other than maybe making them a cup of tea & if they’re lucky, toast.

They are growing up & becoming capable of taking care of themselves. That’s how it’s supposed to go. That’s how I know I’m doing my job.

Maybe not trusting them to do the right thing is my way of holding on just a little bit longer. I realized recently that The Girl will be starting high school in a few short months, and then I will blink & she will be graduating. The Boy not far behind her.

I’ve always told them that my job is to teach them how to live on their own. And not just how to cook & clean, although God only knows those are not strengths that I can pass on readily. (Laundry. I’m really all about the laundry. I got that nailed.) Teaching them how to live on their own also means helping them be strong, independent, morally decent people; how to make choices that will help them lead happy, healthy lives.

Who knew it would start with a binder?

I mean, if I can’t trust him to make the right choice about where to keep his binder at night, how do I think he’s going to grow into that strong, independent, morally decent person? That person isn’t going to just appear out of nowhere after years of mommy doing everything & always being right. I can suggest what I think is best, but ultimately, he needs to learn from his own mistakes. If he puts the binder in his room & forgets it the next day… that’s a pretty tough lesson. That’s all of his homework & study notes. It’s going to be a long day without those.

I picked up his binder & crept back up the stairs & into his room. His sleepy eyes opened & he looked at me skeptically. “What are you doing?” he said.

I put the binder by his door, pulled his blankets up & gave him a kiss. “I’m sorry. If you want your binder up here & you have a system so you won’t forget it, I need to trust you with that.”

It’s time to step aside & let them make decisions for themselves.

But I’m still not coming back home for the binder.

MomDay Monday – God Speed

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dan

My nephew is a Marine. He’s wanted to be a Marine since he was about 10 years old. It’s all he ever talked about.

Last night he got on a bus to begin a journey that will take him more than 7,000 miles away to Afghanistan.

Yeah… THAT Afghanistan.

I have a knot in my stomach. It’s not nearly as big as the knots in KK’s or her hubby’s or their other sons’ stomachs. But it’s still there. I mean, Dan isn’t old enough to hoist a beer to celebrate here at home… well, not legally at least (I remember your graduation party, Dan)… but abroad, as part of the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, he’s going to be called on to do… who knows what.

Back in March during a training exercise in Nevada, 7 Marines were killed when a mortar exploded at the wrong time. It was Dan’s Battalion that was training there. KK’s Hubby texted Dan when he heard about the explosion but he heard nothing back. All anyone heard was that 7 Marines were killed. It was almost 11 pm when Dan finally reached his dad & let him know he was okay but those hours of nothing were nauseating. And again… I’m just the aunt. I can’t imagine being the parent. As a friend whose husband is currently deployed at sea told me tonight, “The way you felt when you didn’t know where Dan was in Nevada? You’ll feel that way every time you watch the news & hear something about a problem in Afghanistan.”

I suppose I will. I suppose we all will. I have a feeling it will be like a dull ache that never quite goes away but that you can forget about in rare moments.

The Kids & I went shopping tonight to put together a care package. My Navy wife friend gave me lots of good tips & we’ll be shipping something out to Afghanistan later this week. I figure it’s the least we can do to support the efforts of someone who has willingly put himself in harm’s way.

And now all we can do is pray. And wait for him to come home.

God speed, Daniel.

 

MomDay Monday – Cue Alice Cooper

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School’s out for the summer. School’s out forever.

Thank goodness that last sentence isn’t true. By the end of August I will be happy to load up backpacks & school lunches & jump back into the battle with the Honda Pilots at drop off & pick up.

The Kids faced an enormous challenge this year going from the private school they’ve attended since they were each three years old to the neighborhood public schools. The Girl to middle school, The Boy to elementary. It was probably the hardest thing they’ve ever had to do.

The Boy had it a little easier. His school is big enough that there are four third grade classes. So even if a kid had been at that school for the past few years, there was a chance he could be in a classroom where he didn’t know anyone. Even so, I remember the first week of walking The Boy to school & having him cling to me, almost in tears. “Why can’t we go back to St. Joe’s?” he would ask. And how do you explain to an 8-year-old that everything he knows has changed because his mom & dad can’t seem to make it work?

Fast forward to the end of the school year where I now have this incredibly confident 9-year-old who plans on joining Student Council & the basketball team next year. Finally at a school where no one knows his sister, there’s no comparison. So he’s gaining confidence where, in the past, he had everything his older sibling had accomplished looming over his head. It never occurred to me before, but it must be hard to carve your own niche in a small school where your outgoing, social, funny, smart sister has already gone before you.

The Girl had it worse. Much worse. Starting sixth grade in a middle school that begins in fifth, she knew no one. Okay… almost no one. She had one friend who moved away after two weeks & one other friend who she knows from the neighborhood. A boy. A very sweet boy but not the friend that The Girl needed at the time. To make matters worse, sixth grade girls are… well… bitches. They have their cliques all set, they’ve known each other for years & they’re all at least a foot shorter than my long-legged daughter.

Basically, there’s no room for anyone new.

She spent a lot of time at the school psychologists’ office & he was a God send. Mr. B was kind, generous with his time & great about keeping in touch with me to make sure Grace was getting the help she needed. Even so, I watched the first few months of school go by & my outgoing, social, funny, smart girl sank deeper & deeper into a pit of depression. At the same time, I got my breast cancer diagnosis & was exhausted from all that went into treating that, so there were times when I felt useless to her.

But there is no wake up call like hearing your 11-year-old tell her counselor that there are times she would rather not be alive than to have to deal with everything she was going through. Add to that the realization that the private school curriculum she had wasn’t teaching the same things as the public school. Her grades plummeted & my A/B student started bringing home D’s & F’s.

I’m going to tell you a little secret right now. If you think it makes me a bad mom, then so be it. Here it is…

Bribery works.

Yup. Bribery works.

“Make Honor Roll & I’ll get you a laptop.”

I said those words. A laptop of her own is something she has wanted forever. So I made it part of the deal. Honor Roll = Laptop.

That Girl started going to extra help every Tuesday afternoon. And early morning help every Wednesday & Thursday morning. And tutoring every Thursday afternoon. And she did it. I am now $300 dollars poorer but she closed out the year with two semesters on the Honor Roll. And she did it all herself.

As we started getting The Girl the help she needed to dig herself out of the pit, she found Lilly, a kindred spirit. Lilly is funny & outgoing & sings all the time. The first time I met Lilly, we were walking home from the local Santa Parade. The Girl was wearing sweatpants with a large pink guitar down one leg, a rainbow fleece & an Angry Birds hat. Lilly was wearing sweatpants with Tinker Bell down one leg, a rainbow fleece & an Adventure Time hat. It left me no room to wonder why they were friends. Thank God for Lilly. She will never replace Emily, The Girl’s original BFF or Lynnea, The Girl’s other BFF, but she is ever-present & has given The Girl that one trusted friend that she really needed to get through the year with.

The Kids have proven to themselves that they can overcome a lot & that there is nothing that they can’t face with a little bit of extra help & perhaps some bribery motivation. And they have reinforced my knowledge that they are two of the most amazing kids I will ever know.

Recently, the principal of The Kids’ former private school saw The Boy at church. I won’t go into my diatribe about how she should have kept her mouth shut but here is the conversation:

The Principal: “Hi, Sam. Are you coming back to school next year?”

The Boy: “Oh… I’m still in school.”

The Principal: “I mean, are you coming back to St. Joe’s next year?”

The Boy: “No. My mom still doesn’t have any money.”

Now that’s acceptance. God how I love that Boy.

MomDay Monday – Blech Frizzy

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As most of you know, when I’m not freaking out on taking joy in The Boy & The Girl, I work full-time in retail. Naturally, my job entails tolerating helping shoppers find the items they’re looking for & yelling at supporting the team that helps me do my job. Last week was Thanksgiving, which in the retail world means only one thing.

Survival.

My phone understands this all too well as has taken to auto-correcting “Black Friday” to “Blech Frizzy.” Seems oddly appropriate.

Having survived another year of Blech Frizzy madness, I’m still stunned that there are people whose Thanksgiving plans include standing in line for hours to purchase an $8 coffee maker or a $19 toaster. So here, some random thoughts & observations on the entire experience with a few words of advice for the shopping public.

Sir, I’m sure you take first place every year at the county fair whistling contest, but 20 minutes of your whistling rendition of “Hey, Soul Sister” throughout Small Appliances is quite enough.

– On earth it’s called a “scale,” not a “weighing machine.” And drawing little imaginary circles around your feet while you say it in your very thick Neptunian accent doesn’t help.

Ladies, One-Size-Fits-All is not a challenge.

– We actually sell cardigans for men. Gentlemen, listen to me; unless you are Mr. Rogers, there is never a reason to wear a cardigan.

Where can you find that green ladder in the flyer you’re showing me? Well, since the flyer is from K-mart, I’m going to go with… K-mart. We’re not them.

– Yes ma’am, we do still have the $300 50″ TVs. They’re right over there in that time machine. Just set the dial for 9 pm when we opened.

No ma’am, I am not aware of curling irons that use lighter fluid. And while I appreciate that you are aware of the internet and looked it up online, I”m not sure which website said we’d have such an item. You’ll have to be more specific about which site is “the place you go to online to buy stuff.”

– I don’t need the back story, sir. Nor do I need your design ideas & where you’re thinking of placing your new table. I also have no vested interest in which table you get. Please just pick one.

It’s okay if you don’t believe me about where the kitchen items are, ma’am. Enjoy your time in Automotive looking for measuring cups.

– Yes ma’am, I would assume that the electric carving knife would cut meat. But that’s just me.

And finally… don’t leave your shopping lists around. They will make their way to the internet. 

MomDay Monday – The “C” Word

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No, not that one.

The other one that everyone hates.

Cancer.

It took my friend Dianna (see Dearest Dianna). It’s been annoying a good friend of The Ex’s for the past four years. It took my grandmother. And my aunt. And the moms of two dear friends. Two women at work are battling it even as I write this. And there are countless others waging this war every day.

Now it’s my turn.

I found it myself. About a month ago, I noticed a strange dent on the top of my left breast. “That’s new,” I thought as I started poking at it. And there it was… a weird lumpish thing underneath. It wasn’t round, it wasn’t smooth… It wasn’t supposed to be there.

There’s a moment of panic where your mind goes immediately to the worst. But I went through this two years ago. Even had a biopsy. It was just a cyst. “I’ll just schedule a mammogram,” I thought, half kicking myself for not having one last year. It was the high tide of the divorce storm last year and a mammogram never crossed my mind.

The day of the mammogram – or mimmeogram as The Joan would call it – arrived without fanfare. “It will be nothing,” I told myself again. After the mammogram, I was told they wanted me to stay & have an ultrasound done on the area in question. Okay – same thing they did two years ago. And just like two years ago, the radiologist came in after looking at both the mammogram and the ultrasound. “That doesn’t look good,” she said.

Wait… What?

No no no. You’re doing this wrong, Doctor. You’re supposed to give me the generic “9 out of 10 times it’s nothing but let’s follow-up” speech. She told me she was calling my primary care physician as I was leaving the office & to follow-up with her & schedule an appointment with a surgeon. “Any questions or concerns?” she asked.

“Yes. I don’t like the looks of the dent on the top of my skin,” I said, giving her one more chance to tell me it’s nothing & we’re just doing the surgeon/biopsy thing to be sure.

“Neither do I. That’s very troubling,” came her reply.

Again, doc, you’re doing this wrong.

A little shaken, I got dressed and went home. Waiting for me was a voice mail from my primary care doctor – not her office… from her – telling me to call right away to schedule an appointment with her before I saw the surgeon. The next two weeks became a whirlwind of appointments with doctors, surgeons & eventually a biopsy. I so wanted to believe that this would be nothing but with each conversation with each doctor, my hopes were sinking. Unlike two years ago, there was no reassurance. The radiologist wasn’t encouraging. The surgeon talked to me like I had already been diagnosed. The only time someone tried to be reassuring was when my doctor brought in a medical student she was working with. But I think he only tried because, from the looks of him, mine was probably the first booby he ever touched.

I had to bring my mammogram films & ultrasound CDs to the surgeon so of course I opened them up & tried to see something by holding the images up to the kitchen light. Not sure what I was looking at or even which side was which, I pulled out the piece of paper with the written report. And there, in large black letters, were the words, “Highly Suggestive of Malignancy.”

That’s when I started bracing for the worst.

That week between biopsy & results was perhaps the longest week I will ever live through. And then the words that I will never forget… “Unfortunately, it is cancer.” I had wondered what I’d do if I had to hear those words. Would I cry? Yes, briefly. Scream? No. What would be the first thing that crossed my mind? The Kids. How would I feel? Utterly alone.

Only I haven’t been alone. You can never know what it feels like unless you’ve lived through it, but time & time again, as I’ve told people, I heard, “My mom’s going through that now.” Or “My aunt has been cancer free for 23 years.” Or in the case of my boss, “I know how you feel. Wait… no I don’t. But I’m still here for you.” People have been offering their help in droves. So much so that I sometimes want to make something up so they can help. (Who wants to rake my leaves?) The Joan has been with me every step of the way so far. The Ex is taking The Kids for a few extra days while I have surgery. KK & Hyde have been in touch almost daily just to check in. The few people I’ve told at work have been generous with their time, one of them sending me a surprisingly eloquent message reading in part, “Do what you have to do to get healthy and I will personally make sure whatever work you can’t finish gets done.”

It’s what has been keeping me going.

When I got home from getting the original diagnosis, The Joan said to me, “You’ll be just fine. You’re strong.” I know I am. It just gets so damn tiring sometimes. That’s when I need all the support I can get.

So thank you to everyone who has offered their help, thoughts, good vibes & prayers. I’ll keep you posted. You just keep on helping me be strong.