Tag Archives: Mom

What I Want for Mother’s Day

On Mother’s Day, there are lots of ways to show your love and appreciation for mom.

You can send flowery cards with hearts and sweet sentiments. You can buy decadent chocolates, make dinner reservations, or vacuum the living room. You can send expensive roses or hand-deliver flowers chosen with care. You can call, text or email – remembering your one and only mom.

I believe the best way to show your love – at any time of year – is to give an all-out, soul-baring, love-you-to-the-moon-and-back, and-I’m-not-letting-go hug! I think your mom will agree!

Kitty hug

My cat wishes he could give me a hug!

Do you know the kind of hug I mean? These are the kinds of hugs that are given when a spouse returns home from a long tour of duty in the military; when families are reunited after years apart, or when a child is rescued from a burning building. Highly emotional moments like this elicit the tightest of hugs.

When I was much younger, I wondered why after months or years apart, reunited lovers would embrace for what seemed like an eternity before they got down to the kissing. However, now that I am an older hugger, I understand why hugs come before kisses. The embrace is connection. It is warmth, it is comfort. It is the way to feel the person’s soul. The kiss is good too, but really secondary.

And, as Mother’s Day 2014 approaches, I realize there is no reason to wait for these rare, emotionally charged moments. The strongest of hugs are meant to be shared in the same way conversation is meant to be shared – freely and often! This year, all I want is to feel that connection with my loved ones.

You see, I lost my mom to pancreatic cancer in February and I’ve given her my last hug. I told her I loved her and I did all I could to help her pass. I don’t have any regrets, but I won’t be able to give her a hug on Mother’s Day this year.

Instead, I’m looking forward to big hugs from my husband and family. It’s not so much about the tightness, but about the utter surrender – the best hugs are from those who say with their embrace that they love you to the moon and back and will never let you go.

So, what do I want for Mother’s Day? Don’t let go until I’m ready – there is no rush. Just hold me awhile.

Time with mom is so short. Perfect your best hug – and hold her awhile.

Mother's Day

Love you Mom!

Peepin’ the swag and other musings

Rainbow - Peepin' the swagOver the New Year break, I had a great vacation with my family and a much needed mental rest. While away, we encountered everything from beautiful weather to cancelled flights – but through it all, we managed to have fun.

For me, it was a chance to reconnect with my college boys. My middle son finished his first semester at college and I really missed his sense of humor. I’ve also missed his unusual vocabulary – a major source for “things teenagers say!”

Cool mom or uncool mom?

But before we started chatting in secret code, I had to take a little alone time to decompress. On our first sunshiny day of vacation, I took my book (I actually read two!) headed to a comfy beach chair and enjoyed the sun. For the most part, my kids did the same – stretching out, being lazy and reading books. When they got hot, they jumped in the pool and spent the rest of the day playing ball games and jumping games in the pool. Personally, I’d rather take a quick dip to cool off. I’m not known for swimming when we go on vacation, and I’m most assuredly not know for playing games in the pool.

I realize this is boring. Apparently, it is also uncool. My kids threatened me with being an ‘uncool’ mom if I didn’t join them in the pool (what distinction could be worse?). I was formulating my response when I was surrounded by my kids. They sandwiched me with their bodies and walked me down the pool ramp into the deep end – with all of us laughing and screaming (ok, I was doing the screaming). Minutes later, I was a cool mom again – and definitely happier for it!

Secret language

Now that I had passed the cool mom test, I was allowed into my teenagers’ verbal inner circle! Conversation was lighter, funnier. Loud music was playing and we were all singing along and acting silly. (Ah, vacation – where for art thou?)

Here are the two main phrases I caught up on while spending time with my 18 year old – we even used our ‘secret language’ with each other in front of my eldest son, 21, and he didn’t understand what we were talking about! How cool is that?

  • Peepin’ the swag – “Hey mom, are you gonna peep the swag while we swim?” asked my son  when we went to the beach one day. Translation: “Mom, will you watch our stuff while we swim?” Get it? Peep = watch; swag = stuff. (And of course I peeped the swag!)
  • Sleeping – I know, sounds like a regular word but this is what my son said to me: “Hey mom, you know what? Most people are sleeping on the 80s! Not me, I’m not sleeping on the 80s!” Translation: “Lately I’ve really been enjoying music from the 80s. Most people my age don’t listen to this kind of music.” Pretty simple right?

For this article, I double checked with my son on the usage. Here is the comical text exchange:

Me: Hi, how are you? Are people sleeping on the 80s, snoozing on the 80s or both? Let me know!

Son: I’m good and I’m sure they’re still sleeping. Someone’s gotta set an alarm.

Me: Hahaha – I’ll peep your swag until they open their eyes!

Son: Haha ok thanks mom.

The moral of the story

No matter what age your children are, remember to engage with them whenever you can. If your child likes to play with trains, sit on the floor and build a train track. Forget the laundry and the grocery store and keep playing. And when your children are pushing 20, keep engaging with them – your time together is so limited. Put down the book, put your hair in a pony tail – and jump in! The water is fine…and oh so cool!


Saying Goodbye

It’s that time again.

There’s a hint of cool and crisp in the air.

We’re shopping for school clothes and supplies.

My husband is putting the athletic schedule on the family calendar and talking about how to divide up our time.

It’s August.

It’s technically a summer month,  but I know better.

August is really the gateway to fall – to school – and to goodbyes.

We’re all feeling it here at my house. That pending sense of excitement and loss.

My mother-in-law tells me each year how much she hates fall. Fall meant sending her boys to school again – and saying goodbyes each morning. She liked having her boys close, at home. And she liked the freedom of summer.

I understand.

But for me, fall starts this month. August.

On August 16, my first born drove his new car out to St. Louis  and started his fall semester of college as a junior. We’ll see him, we’ll Skype, we’ll text and Snapchat – but when he left, we said goodbye.  And he was gone.

Goodbye comes again next week when my middle son starts college as a freshman.

We’ve been through this before, but it won’t matter.

We’ll say goodbye and leave him with a quick hug.

It won’t be enough.

But it will have to be enough.

And we’ll drive home and we’ll think about him.

And even though it’s still August – we’ll look forward to next summer.

college campus

Baritone Saxophone

Marching Band: She Found a Way to Play

If you need a reminder that supporting your children is the right thing to do, I have a story for you.

I had forgotten that my mom played in a marching band in high school. Yesterday, quite by accident, we starting talking about it. We were sipping some hot tea and she told me the entire story of her experience. There were lots of obstacles thrown in her path – but she persevered in spite of them – and in spite of her parents.

It was the 1950s and my mom and her family had moved frequently throughout her childhood. “Seventeen schools in fifteen years,” she said. Her parents had survived the depression and were cobbling a living together by following the development boom of the time. My grandfather built tunnels, dams, and roads all over the world. They would leave a community or a job sometimes with only a moment’s notice and with only the possessions that fit in the car. One time, she had to leave behind her best friend, a dog named Duke.

By the time she reached high school, they were living in New York state and things seemed a little more settled. Now a teenager and searching for that sense of belonging we all begin to embrace, my mom wanted to join the marching band. Her high school band was successful and had earned the distinction at school as the group to join. But her parents did not support her interest in joining the band. “They were not going to spend good money on an instrument” and told her she was wasting her time.

Baritone SaxophoneShe refused to accept this discouragement and decided to play an instrument the school already owned – the baritone saxophone. There was only one complication. Her dad was working nights at the time and slept during the day. Practicing in the house was not an option. “There was a barn out back and that’s where I practiced.”

My mom earned her place on the squad and sported a band uniform that she loved. She competed and placed in tournaments, even marching in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

“You had to be invited to march in the Macy’s parade. We were a very good marching band for such a small school.”

I commented about how her motivation seemed to be driven by her parent’s rejection. I guess I was trying to lighten what sounded like such a hard situation. I said something like: “that reverse psychology really worked and got you to practice and work hard at your instrument!”

But she stopped me and said: “there was no psychology involved, they just didn’t support me. You know, they never went to one performance.”

She went to Syracuse University after high school (and that’s another story about her persistence in the face of discouragement) but she never played her instrument again. I asked why she didn’t join the band in college and she reminded me that it was the 1950s: “There were no women in the Syracuse marching band. At the time, they were known as ‘One hundred men and a girl’ – only the baton thrower was a woman.”

And that’s where her marching band story abruptly ended. She played her instrument to belong and to assert her independence. But she never played again. Where the story continued, however, was in her love of listening to music. She shared her love with me and I have fond memories of marching to John Philip Sousa on the front lawn in the summer; listening to Handel’s Alleluia chorus at Christmas time; and dancing to Godspell and Hair in our living room.

Marching band

John Philip Sousa

I guess the lesson is to make music a part of your life and to support your child when they show you they have passion for it. If your child is anything like my mom – she’s going to find a way to play. You might as well be part of the experience.

Mother's Day

Good Influence: Mother’s Music

Like it or not, your mom is a big influence on the music you like today (Dad too, but because it’s Mother’s Day, I’m focusing on Mom!). It doesn’t matter if you listened to Mozart, the Mamas and the Papas, or ‘NSync. She was connecting with you, sharing a love of music, sharing an equalizing experience that can’t be matched by any other, except maybe a good night hug.

Today, I’d like to recognize and thank my Mom for playing lots of music in our home. When I hear this music, I have nothing but great memories. And I realize, now, that these are actually my very best memories of all! Thanks Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!

My Best Music Memories:

  • The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings the classical and beloved Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah.

My Mom tells the story that when I was a baby, she would play Handel’s Messiah, and especially the Hallelujah Chorus, over and over while she was house cleaning. She claims that my first word was “lu-jah, lu-jah!” I was singing along! And it is still one of my favorite classical pieces.

  • Herman’s Hermits “I’m Henry, VIII, I Am”

My grandparents lived in Oklahoma on a farm, and almost every summer we drove out to visit them for a few weeks vacation. I loved visiting my grandparent’s farm. For a suburban kid with all of the latest appliances and conveniences, it was an adventure to go “back in time.” On wash day, my grandmother used an old electric washing tub and then ran the clothes through an ancient “ringer” that moved the clothes between two rubber rollers to  squeeze out the excess water. The next step was to take the clothes out back and hang them on endless clothes lines with prehistoric wooden clothes pins. My music memory of this Herman’s Hermits song is mixed in with this laundry experience. I was helping to hang clothes on a hot day, and my Mom was inside washing dishes at the open window that looked out back. She was singing this song loud and clear along with the radio. Even though I didn’t know the tragedy of Henry VIII and his wives, I was thoroughly happy to be where I was, listening to my mom sing this happy tune!

  • Hair!

Fast forward to the early ’70s and to the family bonding we engaged in over the original sound recording of “Hair!” the musical. My parents saw the show in Columbus, Ohio, where we were living at the time and enjoyed it so much, they brought home the double album. There were many nights after dinner that my brother and sister and I ran into the family room and begged our parents to crank up the song: “Hair!” We would run around the room, throwing our bodies around, shaking and swaying our long hair around just like the dancers in this video!

  • Cat Stevens sings “Morning Has Broken” (with ironic “Disco” sign behind him.)

In 1976, my Mom bought me my first “stereo” (it was made of a cool, modern white plastic!) and several albums. One of these original albums was Cat Stevens’ “Tea for the Tillerman.” Cat Stevens’ gorgeous voice eased many of my teenage transitions and still gives me pause whenever I hear it.

From this point on, my Mom had less influence on my taste in music, but she succeeded in instilling in me a basic love of music – and the idea that music is a fun way to share with your kids. Thanks again, Mom.