Valentine Party #20

February 8, 2015

The guests have all gone but their laughter echoes off the walls in my house – their smiles shine in every mirror. How wonderful it was to spend this blustery winter afternoon in the company of so many women who have shaped my every day.

Almost every year I hold a Valentine Party – ladies only – and it all began because we were young mothers with babies and toddlers and the glow of Valentine’s Day had worn off in our marriages as these babies replaced candlelight dinner and the need (I suppose) and the energy for our husbands to court us. It was a completely normal and understandable change in our lives – but me, the hopeless romantic, wanted to still celebrate Valentine’s Day and so I thought, wouldn’t it be great to celebrate these wonderful women I know with a Valentine Brunch.

And so the Valentine Party was born -” the ladies only” part meant -No Kids!! We dressed up, put lipstick on and tried to wear something in some shade of red or pink. We were only 8 at that first brunch….and  then it grew….and it grew…and it grew, as did my incredible circle of friends.  This afternoon we were 28 people in my small, but party-friendly house. Champagne and orange juice always starts off the celebration and the main event is the connections we made – we continue to make and the freedom to be the young girls that still live inside each one of us.

I am just now putting my feet up, sipping the last glass of champagne, watching the various Valentine decorations swing back and forth and listening to all that wonderful girlish laughter that my walls are kindly holding onto for me.

The Sounds of the Sleepless

January 22, 2015

(Lying in bed this morning, I heard Simon and Garfunkle’s Sounds of Silence as I was writing this)

 

Hello 4:30 my old friend

I’ve come to sit with you again

In the dark before dawn I am creeping

while my family is upstairs sleeping

and the noise of the trucks on my street removing snow

is waking neighbors that I know

These are the sounds – of the sleepless.

 

In my bed I tossed and turned

while my clock’s face light burned

How many hours before I go to work?

Why does menopause have this sleepless quirk?

and as the hours slowing tick on past

I’m thinking fast

of all the things – I have to do

 

How many people stop and stare

at the numbers flashing there

on their night tables a-gleaming

and the crazy thoughts that send them  reeling

all the worries that loom so large at this tiny hour

by dawn, have no real power

These are the thoughts – of the sleepless.

 

Tonight I will begin again

to try to sleep the night and then

we’ll see where I am at dawn

still asleep or writing here with a yawn

Now the coffee maker begins to spit and sputter

I hear a mutter

Someone else is finally up – good morning

Strange wanderings

January 18, 2015

My son moved out 5 months ago. Just the fact that I wrote it that way – “5 months ago” – reminds me of how when your children are very small you count things in their lives by the months. You know; they are 12 weeks old instead of 3 months old; they’ve been eating solids for 4 weeks instead of a month etc. I’m sitting here grinning at myself…..once a mom….

So, yes – my son moved out 5 months ago. He’s 24 (and a half – Lol!) and it was time. By that, I mean that it was the perfect time. He was ready and I have a firm belief that everyone should have the opportunity to experience living alone at least once in their lives. When you live alone you have time to be truly still and quiet – you can really study and ponder your heart’s desires….you can wander around your apartment feeling lonely or bored or if need be, you can scream out loud in disappointment and frustration and you can break down and cry a river of tears when your heart has been broken, without any judgement  and without the comfort of anyone which can not only be cathartic but also give you the chance to then pick yourself up and stand shakily tall….and realize that yes, you will be okay. Essentially, you learn to survive – you get the chance to really know who you truly are.

Now, my son lives in the same city so we get to see him pretty much every weekend. He enjoys being an active part of our family, not to mention that he likes to come home for a real “meal” as he calls it (I have always loved to cook and bake) and do his laundry in the comfort of a clean laundry room. He plays video games with his sisters, helps with homework with his youngest sister and my husband gets to rehash all the heavy news stories and engage in “tech-talk” with someone who actually understands what he is saying and not simply smiling politely (listen, I can barely manage my cell phone!). For me? Well….truthfully, there’s not too much room for me when he comes home – but that’s ok – that’s just they way it is right now. I had years, so many years of being “the one” – being the main focus of my children’s lives;  The Almighty, All-Knowing Mother.

What prompted me to write this was that it occurred to me how weird it is to have lived with someone all of their lives, to have had them be the reason you got up in the morning (and not been able to sleep at night!). To have had their every need – from basic survival, like eating, sleeping or tending to them when they were sick – to entertaining and playing with them. School, birthday parties and play-dates…all part of your every “work” day (I always viewed my choice to be a stay-at home mom – a Career choice).

Now – you see them once a week, or once a month or once a year, depending on your situation. It’s not like breaking up with someone….it’s like a purposeful drifting apart – and it’s fine – it’s good – it’s normal and the way life goes…..but it is strange.

And so now, it’s me who is wandering through the house, alone in my thoughts…..twenty years ago – who’d have thought?

Friends who do Lunch

November 9, 2014

I had lunch the other day with someone who I have known for a remarkable 26 years. Although we don’t see each other all of the time – she is someone who has known me from the time I was a newlywed, through motherhood, career changes and now struggles with aging parents. We met when I came to work at the same magazine (she was even my boss at one point) and although there are several years between us, she has never made me feel it – we have simply been Friends, each one of us bringing something wonderful to our relationship. We have stayed in touch all these years but sometimes years would pass before we would see each other, our lives were simply busy travelling in different directions.

Then one day, a few years ago, we decided to finally “do lunch” and I am happy to say that this is now a regular occurrence. When we get together we do sometimes touch on the past – barely. Mostly, we talk about today and our conversations are endless.

I always feel so full when we part company and I think it’s because she knows me for Me. Not someone’s wife or mother … just me. She has a good idea of what my hopes and dreams are for myself and she knows of some of my struggles, as I do hers.

We have a history, but are not so intertwined that it is ever old….and when we get together, happily – neither are we.

Picture Perfect

November 9, 2014

My husband and I were looking through old pictures last night. We are working on finally cataloging and tagging them all.  As each frozen moment in time floated across the screen, so did my heart. People who are the dearest to me, captured in easier times. All physically so free and easy and well….it really wasn’t that long ago, and of course all of us were so completely unaware of what prisons were to come for some….thank goodness, I guess.

I saw my children so young and sweet, and I desperately longed to just reach through that screen and scoop them up into my arms and onto my lap – as I used to do. Each picture was more beautiful than the last, and I was amazed at how perfect I found each one –  because I do remember that at the time the photos were taken, I was often kind of annoyed at how many times at least one child was squirming, making a silly face or looking away. As a photographer, I have the habit of always searching to create the most magical moment and for each picture to be absolutely perfect.

Now I realize that every one of them….is.

Coffee Club

September 12, 2014

Yesterday I met an old friend for a long overdue coffee. It was wonderful. It was like old times and always, all at the same time. We used to meet once a week – every week with a third friend, at this same coffee shop – back when our youngest children were babies. We lovingly coined this day as Coffee Club. It was the day that we hashed and re-hashed and solved both our own motherhood troubles as well as solved all the world’s crisis’ – or at least decided on what we were going to make for dinner that night.

Here we were again, re-kindling our Coffee Club – just the two of us this time.  My friend had left her job a few months ago to help her mother care for her aging father. She was going to move to another town – a 10 hour drive from here. Six weeks in – she realized that this new move was not going to work out for her and her son…at least, not right now. So once again – Coffee Club was in effect to try to shed some light and make an effort to set a path for a new future for her. I asked her what her thoughts were on pursuing a new line of work…she said she wasn’t sure. She wondered if she should go back to something that she already she knew or try something completely different – maybe even go back to school. Then our conversation turned how she just hadn’t been feeling great for the last few months…aches, pains and ailments had crept up and she was having them investigated. I chuckled and reminded her that she was “eyeballing 50″ (a term I have used, in relation to myself many times over the decade – half in humor…sadly, half in truth) then laughed out loud and told her not to feel bad; Heck – I’m eyeballing retirement I told her (ok, not really… not quite yet!). We shared a giggle.

As she spoke of her increasing maladies – I showed her the index finger on my right hand, now slightly bent with its often somewhat swollen knuckle (hello arthritis – been waitin’ on you!) and thought about how my ankles applaud me as I make my way down the stairs every morning with their snap, crackle and pops accompanied by the operatic sounds that I often make when rising from a chair.  Then there’s the hip that aches when I dare to stand for an evening in heels at a cocktail party or get really crazy and dance at a wedding.

Like every other woman who is 50 – I don’t sleep…I really, really want to, and I try so hard – but my brain just spins and spirals from 2 to 4 most mornings. In fact, as I lay awake this morning at 2am, I thought myself that it was a good thing we had Coffee Club in the morning – otherwise I am sure I would still be awake by 6…in time to greet the alarm.

I blinked

September 6, 2014

My son came home for dinner last weekend, bringing his laundry in tow. I smiled – I expected it. We had a nice family evening, everyone catching up on each other’s week – pretty much like any other Sunday night dinner….but as I looked at him sprawled on the couch, chatting away, I realized that he would be going home tonight. Home – his home – not ours. Seemed funny for a moment because he hasn’t been moved out for very long and so it just seemed so natural that he would be bounding up to his room in the next 5 minutes to study or catch up on email etc.

We got into the car to drive him to his apartment – my husband, my youngest daughter and my son. Of course the two kids in the backseat were just that – being kids – all the way there, like always. We arrived in front of his apartment building  and he pulled out his laundry basket from the trunk. I felt I needed to get out of the car for a moment – so I could give him a hug. He stood in front of me , so tall….I don’t remember when it was that he got so tall. I hugged him and whispered in his ear that I missed him – I hadn’t realized how much because the whole experience had been a whirlwind and now, bathed in the glow of the streetlights,  I suddenly had a moment to catch my breath…and I was surprised how it stuck in my throat. I exhaled and put my best Mom face on – I didn’t want him to feel bad. This was a great time in his life and I wanted him to know that…so I smiled and silently thanked the night for being so dark…and watched him walk away – walk into his own home.

I rolled down the window on that hot summer night – and the air smelled like 1993….would I find my toddler in his footed pyjamas waiting for me at home? Silly silly me – I chastised myself – of course not. How fast had I been blinking? I prided myself for always being in the moment and enjoying my children – staying home with them, playing with them, learning and growing with them. The thing is that I was always so very aware that this day would come….but I didn’t know that it would have happened in a blink.

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