Watching Her Sleep

Recently the kids and I watched the movie with Liv Tyler, Ben Affleck, and Bruce Willis…can’t think of the name right now.  It’s only relevant because as I lay here not able to sleep, the Aerosmith song from the movie is playing on repeat in my head. “I could stay awake just to hear you breathing…”

I have so many memories playing in my head tonight.  I don’t remember a lot about the first hours of Will’s life. It was a difficult birth and I was so exhausted. However, I remember Claire’s first night with such clarity that is seems like it just happened. She was born in the late afternoon and after getting a visit from her big brother and her granddad, we settled in for the night. I couldn’t sleep. I just laid there watching her. Her little bassinet was next to my bed and I could touch her easily. I remember waking her to feed her and not wanting to put her back down.

I’m laying in  hotel bed now, just watching her sleep. It’s our last night before I leave her nearly 800 miles from home. I want to wake her and talk to her. I want to hold her and tell her how much I’m going to miss her. But I know that would be “weird” as both of my kids would say. I pray they will both understand my “weirdness” one day. I pray that they both experience this wonderful gift of parenthood and that they not only love their kids but genuinely  like them too. I hope that they both have something so amazing that the ache of missing it is tangible. I know how lucky I am as a mom and I wish that for both of them.

That’s a long way into the future, though. For now, I just wish them happiness and enough homesickness that they miss me just a little…and I will lay here, watching her sleep.

We’re Not Going to Take It!

I’m an ancestry.com buff.  I spend a lot of time tracing my roots and I’m very proud of where I came from even though some of the characters in my past would not necessary be people I would admire today.  My family immigrated to the American colonies.  That’s right, colonial times [1600-1700s].  They came from Britain, but most of my family had immigrated there from France, Germany, and Italy [think the Holy Roman Empire].  My American roots are strong, but I still recognize that my heritage belongs to Western Europe.

I had ancestors in the American Revolution and ancestors that fought on the losing side of the Civil War.  I’m also a bit of a history buff too.  Generally speaking, most countries do not celebrate wars that they lost.  With that said, I feel like I need to yell this part so forgive the all caps here, THE CONFEDERACY LOST. Not every Confederate soldier wanted to fight for this cause – I have an ancestor who deserted the Confederate army more than once [I know I would have LOVED him] because he didn’t want to fight.  I recognize that many of these soldiers were fighting because it was their home they were defending.  I get that and I’m not wanting to dishonor them.  The Civil War is a stain on our history, though.  It was ugly and not something of which we should be proud.

I really don’t understand people who want to celebrate the Confederacy.  It was war that ended a very long time ago but the only ones celebrating it are from the losing side.  I don’t celebrate sports losses.   Scholars will argue that the Civil War was fought on economic principles and states rights, but most Americans feel the war was about slavery.  SLAVERY WAS BAD.  Slavery was horrible.  It was the culture of the time, but that doesn’t make it right. 

Robert E. Lee was a great general.  He had a distinguished military career before the Civil War and was offered a position of general in the Union army.  He chose to fight for his home state even though his personal letters imply that he was opposed to slavery.  Choosing to fight against his country was technically treason.  Lee had many admirable qualities but he became a traitor to the USA when he donned the gray uniform. 

So why do people erect statues of him?  He LOST a war and he was a traitor.  People obsessed with the Confederacy seem to miss the point that the Confederacy lost.  If they were truly obsessed with history then they would know this.  They would also know that many of these statues were built in the 20th century during the Civil Rights Movement – and we can certainly infer what the purpose of building these statues was. There are people who celebrate the South who aren’t racist, white supremacists, but if we are all honest here most of the people sporting Confederate Flag are racist, white supremacists.  In other words, they are the dishonorable dregs of our society.

I have a message for the white supremacist out there [though I do doubt anyone reading my blog falls in this category].  You, neo-Nazis are pathetic.  You are a low life.  Scum.  You are the people who say immigrants should go back to where they came from.  I’ve got news for you, Nazi, unless you are related to Pocahontas or Sitting Bull, then you have immigrant roots yourself.  If you want to celebrate the losing side of the Civil War, then you are delusional.  We Americans need to stand up to you and say not in my country!  We Americans need to call you out for your despicable behavior.  We’re not going to take it anymore!  America is a place that welcomes all skin colors, all religions, all genders. If that doesn’t appeal to you, Racist, then perhaps the USA isn’t the country for you. Perhaps if you don’t like it, you can trace your ancestry and go back to where your family came from.

Our country needs to come together, and people who live a life of HATE will never help us achieve the harmony our beautiful nation deserves.

For Moms/Parents of Younger Kids

This is another self-indulgent post.  I could barely sleep last night.  I spent yesterday watching recitals of little girls just to see my big girl perform.  Today, is her recital.  She has two shows, and the anticipation of closing this chapter is overwhelming.

I remember when Will played his last soccer game.  It was the last of his sports.  I didn’t know it would be his last game until the end, and it was when it was over that I realized I would never have those moments with him again.  It hit me like a ton of bricks and I cried on the way home from that game, but even then, the enormity of saying good-bye to that part of motherhood didn’t seem quite real yet.

Now, though, he is an adult and our relationship is different, wonderful but different, so this enormity of losing this part of motherhood is much more real the second time around. 

As I watched the little ones come onto the stage yesterday in tutus bigger than they were, I wished I had been able to note when her last recital with that kind of costume had been.  It seems like forever since I’ve heard her whine about it itching while I thought it was so pretty and precious.  Those are the moments we don’t know to appreciate. 

So today, I am going to watch and enjoy.  I may shed a few tears with my fellow moms — there are so many of us this year.  Claire was in a large dance class of seniors and they have been together for so many years.  The theme of this year is “The Time of My Life,”  and I think these kids have experienced that together.  Our concerts have a dramatic piece, and Claire and her friend Bianca play the two friends that essentially narrate the show, that has a climax where Biana’s solo leads into a piece featuring all seven seniors that are still dancing [we’ve had an injury].  The show concludes with graduation.  It is so special that even with such a large class each of these seniors are still able to perform their solos and do their special piece.  I should proudly mention that they just learned the new piece last week — these kids are really rockstars!

My message that I wanted to share is this — for those of you with younger children, be present.  Sometimes you will be blessed to know when the “lasts” of your children are happening but many times you won’t.  If you are present, you will be blessed with the happy memories that will make days like the day we have today truly special.  Yes, I will shed tears, but they will be happy ones.  I am fiercely proud and have so many happy memories.  It’s time to move forward and turn the next page…3dosher first recitalShow5Rehe-18Show5Rehe2-2818Screen Shot 2017-06-11 at 8.10.08 AM

Life Changing Circumstances

My move to Florida was an interesting one.  Twenty-two years ago, my husband was interviewing for promotions.  He had been advised that if he were to advance in his company that he would need to move.  We literally looked at a map and chose a radius for how far we were willing to move.  Tampa, was at the edge of our distance. 

During his interview process, we discovered that I was pregnant.  We were hoping to start a family after the move, but life works in mysterious ways and our little miracle happened sooner than expected.  In August, just as the school year was starting, John got an offer to move to Tampa and we began making plans.  We went to look for a place to live and signed a contract with a realtor to sell our home. 

John left for Tampa on Labor Day weekend 1995. I stayed in North Carolina.  It was brutal.  I was young, pregnant, and wanted to be with my husband.  However, because we were young and quite honestly poor at the time, John and I had each chose to have our medical insurance with our employers.  John was not changing companies, only positions, so if I left my job, I could not be insured.  I had a preexisting condition, my pregnancy.  I had to remain in North Carolina until open enrollment in January.  I worked until the start of the winter holidays, moved on Christmas Eve, and officially resigned on December 31 so I would remain insured until January 1.  My baby was born just eight weeks after I arrived.  I spent most of my pregnancy away from my husband and barely had enough time to meet the doctor who delivered my baby. 

With all of the talk of preexisting conditions in the news, I thought I would share my story.  Since then, I have always stayed on my husband’s insurance, not wanting to risk being separated again.  I thought then that it was ridiculous that I had to wait.  Bureaucratic red tape kept our family apart and made what should have been a happy time more difficult.  Because of the late term move, I was deemed a high-risk pregnancy and there were challenge’s with Will’s birth.

There was a reason why most people liked the preexisting conditions aspect of ACA coverage.  When we look at what conditions can be deemed preexisting now, it can be frightening because while coverage is still guaranteed, the cost can be raised. 

I don’t know the answer.  I don’t pretend to know the answer.  I know that what we have now isn’t working for everyone.  We are lucky now.  My doctors are constantly pointing out to me that I have a “Cadillac” insurance plan.  Twenty-two years ago, my husband and I were both hard working, and a move that we were making to better our finances could have been detrimental to us.  Luckily, I had a good friend that let me move in with her when my house sold so we didn’t have to try to have two mortgage/rent payments while trying to maintain health insurance.  My point is, we weren’t people who were lazy or trying to avoid healthcare cost.  There are a lot of people in working circumstances like us that have to make tough choices to provide healthcare.  I think of that baby I had nearly 22 years ago, being almost at the place we were then.  I hope it doesn’t have to be so hard for him. It just seems that it shouldn’t be so hard.

She Used to Be Mine…I think

Please forgive this totally selfish, self-indulgent post.  I’m sitting on my couch feeling sorry for myself right now, and I totally shouldn’t be…

At church on Easter Sunday, our pastor referenced the What to Expect When You’re Expecting book.  I hadn’t thought of that book in years.  It was, in essence, like a Bible for me during my early years as a parent…a daily devotional if you will.  I read it cover to cover at least twice, maybe more as we hit rough patches and went back to it as a reference. 

At some point, I gained confidence as a parent and no longer needed the books in the series.  Unfortunately, there is not a book called What to Expect When Your Kids Grow Up or What to Expect When Your Kids Go To College.  I have to say I need that book right now.  There is a reason those books don’t exist, at least not as a catchy bestseller.  Those books are not full of hope, excitement, and thrills for the future.

I actually know what to expect when a kid goes to college.  It’s brutally sad at first and then it becomes the new normal and you realize that life will never be as it was before.  You will never be as important in your child’s life as you were before.  I was talking to Will earlier and realizing that although he’s coming home in a couple of weeks for the summer, he is wishing it was just for a weekend and not for the summer.  It’s his time now, I realized.  He is truly beginning his own story where John and I are just supporting characters and no longer protagonists in his tale.

I think that is why I’m struggling right now.  When Claire leaves for college, as she finds her own path as Will has already, she will need me less and less.  It’s tangibly painful and extremely joyful at the same time.  This independence, of course, has been the goal of parenting.  It is what we have worked so hard to help them achieve, yet where does that leave us moms. 

I can’t remember who I was before being a mom.  Last summer, Claire and I spent a weekend in New York and we saw Waitress on Broadway, which we both loved.  Near the end of Act II, Jessie Mueller as Jenna delivered the amazing song “She Used to Be Mine.”  Claire and I both cried.  The story follows a very unhappily married waitress who is trying to accept her pregnancy as she is married to an abusive man.  Although the situation in the story is so different than mine right now, I couldn’t help but relate to what I was hearing – a woman trying to remember who she was before.  The thing is for me, I don’t want to remember that person.  I wanted to be a mom, I think, more than any other dream I had. I was the girl who played with dolls until I was ridiculously old.  Every other accomplishment of mine truly pales in comparison to my children.  It just seems so unfair that the time we have with our children passes like a fleeting glance. 

This transition now is marked by big milestones and a lot of lasts:  last prom, last dance competition, last recital, last day of school, graduation.  Milestones come throughout parenting.  I don’t remember mourning the last day in diapers as the end of an era — jeez, that couldn’t come soon enough.  I wish someone had told me to remember that day, to shed a tear when bottles/pacifiers/sippy cups are through, to mentally note the last time they ask Santa for toys.

It’s selfish.  There are friends who would give anything to be crying the silly tears I am just to have the chance to see their kids reach these milestones.  I feel guilty when I think of them, and very, very selfish.  Yet for today, I’m going to be a little sad about this era coming to an end.  I’m going to remember these milestones that I have left while she still lives at home and still needs me day to day.  Sometime, next fall, when she’s at school with her brother, I’ll try to remember who I used to be.  Maybe I’ll discover what the song says, “”She’s imperfect but she tries / She is good but she lies / She is hard on herself / She is broken and won’t ask for help / She is messy but she’s kind / She is lonely most of the time / She is all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie / She is gone but she used to be mine.”

Anne Frank, “Half-Pint,” and the Kind of Grandparent I Want To Be One Day

On one of my many trips to our nation’s capital, I bought a book about Anne Frank for my daughter; Claire was about 10 at the time.  I remember learning about Anne Frank, not really in school exactly, but from reading a Scholastic magazine with an excerpt of the script from the 1980 Melissa Gilbert movie based on Anne Frank’s diary.  I was compelled by her story then, probably more because I loved Melissa Gilbert and it was fascinating to see her in something besides her prairie dress.

Over the years, as I matured past my devotion to “Half-Pint,” I began to understand the wonder of Anne Frank’s story.  It wasn’t until I became a teacher that her words truly impacted me.  That is when I actually read her diary in full.  To be in her situation and to be able to still believe as she wrote that people were still good just filled me with such wonder. 

Last night, I met with a group of women.  We ate snacks, talked about our families, and talked about the future.  While talking, we all took pen to paper and wrote to our Senators and Congressional Representatives.  We wrote to members of both parties.  Each person there wrote their own messages.  I tried to take an encouraging tone.  I do appreciate the work that those working in government do on behalf of the people, and I believe wholeheartedly that most do it for the right reasons, even though I might not agree with all of their policies.  It was nice to feel like I was taking action in the wake of recent circumstances, when my belief that the people who are in the highest office maybe aren’t in it for the right reasons.

While we were writing, one of the women said that she wanted to say to our leaders, “What do you want your grandchildren to think about the decisions that you make when they study this time period in school?”  I found that prolific. 

And that brings me back to Anne Frank and my daughter.  When she read the book, I didn’t think to warn her about the ending.  I’ll never forget holding her when she realized Anne had died.  That night I remember wondering if I would have been brave enough to be Miep Gies.  Would I have been brave enough to risk everything to save someone else even if it was the right thing to do?  Would I have landed myself on the right side of history?

I want to think I would have.  That’s why I’m speaking out now. 

I have another friend.  A wonderful, loving, well-educated friend post a Facebook message about Liberals needing to give the new President a chance.  I don’t think it’s just the liberals who have a problem with what is happening.  I don’t consider Senator Graham of South Carolina a liberal.  I don’t consider Senator McCain of Arizona a liberal.  Former Secretary Condoleeza Rice is not a liberal. 

This is not about liberals.  It’s not about conservatives.  It’s about being on the right side of history.  Unfortunately, most issues are complex.  If they were simple, so many people wouldn’t be so upset.  I have friends on both sides of most of the issues facing our country today.  I wouldn’t call a person a friend if I didn’t respect that at his/her core was a value of caring about others and strong integrity. 

So as I close, I am thinking about what kind of grandparent I’m going to be.  When my grandchildren who have yet to be born [and hopefully that is years and years away], look back on this period of time and ask me how I responded to the politics of 2017, what will my answer be? 

Life is a Cabaret – Seriously, It Is!

I went to see Cabaret last night.  I was excited and giddy, not just about the show, but honestly to get away from the political atmosphere for a bit.  I must confess that I had never seen the movie or show before, but as a dance mom, I feel like I know the soundtrack by heart so I was looking forward to a wild, racy time at the theater.

I was wrong.

I was made to think.

It was interesting that a show that in many ways was about social freedoms being slowly taken away would be playing in my town this weekend.   As the character Herr Schultz, the Jewish Fruit vendor, kept proclaiming that he was German and this Nazism would pass, I kept thinking about our current political climate.  How many people are thinking, this will pass…it’s just politics…nothing will happen.

And, of course, there were the songs.  “Money, makes the world go around…A mark, a yen, or buck, or a pound…is all that makes the world go around,” I know it’s cynical, but how on target are those lyrics?

The end of the show was so unnerving that I truly had a hard time sleeping.  I loved the show; it just upset me.  Stories of that nature do. 

So this morning, as my usual, on the way to work I listened to Morning Joe.  I love this program because I think they try really hard to present a balance viewpoint and offer a healthy political debate.  As the hot topic was the border closing, it wasn’t going to get my mind off of Cabaret  and it’s chilling prelude to the Holocaust. The guest on my way in to work was Sean Spicer, and he offered and explanation about the border closing this weekend.  He said [and I’m simplifying this statement] that if inconveniencing 109 travelers meant keeping just one American safe then it was worth it. On the surface that is reasonable.  However, there is a problem with this argument. 

Most of the terrorist attacks committed on US soil have been committed by US citizens, the exception is the Ohio State incident last fall, which was committed by an immigrant.   If our new administration REALLY wants to protect Americans and keep Americans safe, then I would suggest they look into what has caused 120 times more American deaths than terrorism on American soil and that is firearms.  Seriously, look at the chart below.  I am not making this up.  This is not fake news.  I am all for our constitutional rights and all for the second amendment, but I think our founding fathers would agree that some restrictions are necessary when it comes to keeping our citizens safe.  If a license is needed to drive a car, then why not to own a gun?  I know the arguments already [the criminals will have them anyway …blah, blah, blah].  Well, people drive cars without a license and then they have to face a consequence.  The same could happen with guns.  I’m just saying, if this whole issue of closing our boarders is about making our country safer, I think maybe our leaders and their followers should take a closer look on the inside before being so judgmental about what is on the outside.

I think it’s time for those of us who are reasonable, those of us who can compromise and who are normally quiet to start asserting ourselves into the conversation.  The majority of us, I think, probably feel like neither political party completely represents our views in whole and just vote for the who we think will do the least amount of damage.  I think we deserve more. 

In the meantime, I’ll close with another thought from Cabaret:

“What good’s permitting some prophet of doom?

To wipe every smile away

Life is a cabaret, old chum!

So come to the cabaret!”

What is our Cabaret going to be?screen-shot-2017-01-30-at-2-36-55-pm