Archive for the ‘the ‘rents’ Category

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Taking Stock of 2011

January 1, 2012

Yesterday’s realization that 2010 sucked, and then 2011 sucked, was kind of daunting. It’s also a little weird, because I’m far from being an unhappy person, or thinking that my life sucks.  How can my years suck, if my life doesn’t suck?

Looking back at last year’s end-of-year posts, I see that I was right about 2010 – it wasn’t a great year for me.  2011 wasn’t really a bad year, except for work.  And work didn’t leak into home in the same ways that it did in 2010.  When things weren’t going well this year, starting in April, it was because I had so little to do.  That resulted in less time at work over the summer.  I spent more time reading, I took a day to go to the beach with a friend, I came home from work earlier.  So the effect on home was a good one.  So that’s something, at least.

According to last year’s posts, I had the following resolutions:

1) Lose weight.  I didn’t, really.  I went up and down with the same 10 pounds, but didn’t really make much progress here.  I need to step it up.  I did run a good bit, starting in April or May.  So I have habits in place – but I need to kick it up a notch.  I need to run more, run harder, and do more than just running.  I need to do some strength training, and I need to be more careful about food.  I’m not letting go of my “fit by 40” goal.  I can do this. I have 11 months, and I can do it.

2) Draft my resume.  I did that.  But not until I was up against the wall and on my way out the door.  But it’s written, and it’s been reviewed by professionals, and it’s in good shape.

Then my littler areas of focus:

My extended family: My sister and I are definitely back in touch and things are good there.  I do try to be better with my parents, and I think I’ve been less irritable with them.  My brother is no different, but I’m not taking responsibility for that.  He and his wife are a bit too overwhelmed by having young children and a job (him, not her) and bills to pay, and I have a very hard time  commiserating with them.  Because – really?  Who DOESN’T have young children and a job and bills to pay?  At least at some point?  You’d think that they believe my teenage daughters sprung fully formed out of my forehead and that I somehow have a trust fund and pretend I’m a lawyer for show, for the way they’re convinced they’re the ONLY people with young children and a job and bills to pay.  If I hear either of them reference my brothers “10-12 hour days” one more time, I may barf.  Instead, I hold my tongue, and don’t try to “one up” them with stories of my years in their shoes – with a husband who was in grad school and making NO money (but still working 12-20 hour days . . . he was clever like that), or the years where I was a single parent with young kids, a job, bills to pay, and no second parent in the house.  I just say “yeah, it must be hard.” And don’t call again.

So, no.  No improvement there.

Family (home):  Like I said – this year’s job stuff  gave me more time with my family, not less.  Lemon was a bit of a snarky kid last year – and this year, she’s in a groove and easy to manage and thriving.  Mouse is starting with the snark, but it’s less constant than Lemon’s was, and so far, we can deal.  She’s still thriving, and that makes us happy. They’re very good kids.  David and I are good – of course some months we’re totally in sync, and others we are “off,” but overall, we’re very good.  I’m still grateful every day for being married to a partner.

Community:  Well, I just wrapped up producing the Best Play Ever, and I delved into it more than in years past, because I had more time (the good side of no job . . . or transitioning out of a job).  This spring, I plan to be involved in the planning and executing of Mouse’s 8th grade graduation (I know, I know, “graduating from 8th grade is STUPID!” But these kids have been in this K-8 school since, well, K.  It is a big milestone, and I would like the stupid-callers to do so elsewhere.  Thanks!)  I know I should do something else, now that I’m wrapping up my volunteer efforts at the kids’ school, but right now, less than a month after producing the play, I don’t want to.  I want to say I’ve put in my time, and I’m done.  And as far as the kids’ schools are concerned, that may be my final conclusion.  I think I’d like to shift my focus to the town-level.  Not sure what yet, but I still have time to explore and figure it out.

Finances.  David and I did, in fact, see a financial advisor this year.  It was illuminating.  Depressing, but illuminating.  We do NOT have a house fund.  We are perma-renters.  We did start aggressively socking money away into savings, and our 401k has been doing well.  If we hadn’t done that, this job-news would have been a lot more devastating.

Travel.  We did some.  Not enough. We did New York City in February, I went to Wisconsin with Mouse in April, we went to the Berkshires. We went to Vermont.  We went to Maryland/Virginia/D.C. (when my Outer Banks vacation was thwarted).   But I still haven’t brought these girls to Europe.  And we still haven’t gotten back to California.  I want to see my friends, and my sister.

Some positive outcomes from 2011 that I cannot overlook, and that I hadn’t included in my list:  Friendships.  I have enhanced existing friendships and found new ones.  This was especially obvious with the job-issues, as my support network was so very  strong.  While two of my three most supportive friendships at work have been in place since my summer associate days, another is one that has really taken shape this year.  I’m very grateful for this friendship, and glad that I got over my assumption that she and I would never really “relate” to one another, because she’s young and has no kids.  Not the case.  I’m very glad to have made this friend.

Another new friendship on the home-front, in my running partner.  We’re very like-minded (and our mini-me older daughters have found this in one another, as well), and clicked instantly.  I have a comfortable easiness with her that I haven’t had with someone in a very long time.  “Wanna come over?” without caring at ALL that there’s dirty laundry on my bathroom floor.  A really great find this year.

Still to come — looking ahead to 2012.

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T Minus Two Days / Weekend Distractions

November 14, 2011

Finally, my review has been scheduled. Wednesday at 3 pm. I have never had a review in the afternoon before, and have decided that it is further evidence that this will, in fact, be D-Day. WD disagrees, and thinks if they were to lay me off, the review would be on a Friday, instead. I disagree. And will disagree until I leave that conference room without getting some kind of notice.

In the meantime, I’ve finally pulled my resume together, and continued to explore the current job market to see what’s out there. But other than those things, there’s little to do right now. Until I know what is actually going on.

So, this weekend, I once again put my head – and my feet – in the sand.

My parents are on the Cape for a couple of weeks, taking a break from their rat race to breathe and celebrate their 40th Anniversary. We visited quickly last weekend, but then this weekend we went for a couple days. We had an early Thanksgiving meal on Saturday night, since the girls will be in the Middle of the Country for the holiday, and WD and I are staying home, and we did a little off-season exploration:

[I tried to draft this post on my iPad, because my pictures were there.  This has become a frustrating experience – the pictures won’t size right, and I can’t put any commentary in between them.]

Not sure why it is being so damned annoying.  But moving on ….
For some reason, Lemon was letting WD take tons of pictures of her, but was being a pain when I tried.  I think he got some great ones, but I was stuck with only that one (up there – she’s the one in the green coat) with her making a funny face.  I think even with the funny face, she’s a beauty.  But she doesn’t like the picture, and would be horrified to know I made it public.  If she ever discovers this (which I’m sure she will), she can take it as a lesson about WHY she should let me take better photos.  I had many more to choose from of Mouse.  She was in her heyday in the wind with the ocean spray.  I think she may have enjoyed it more than even I did.
Sadly, Lemon woke up on Sunday feeling poorly. WD and I felt like she wasn’t acting the wya she usually does when she’s sick (she’s usually sweet and sad when sick; yesterday she was grouchy and angry and difficult to be with), and weren’t sure how much credit to give the “illness.”  She’d been up the night before until at least 1:30 watching SNL, and our day trip required her to wake at 10 a.m.  So we thought it possible that she was simply over tired.  And so I pushed her to pull it together, and did not cancel our plans.
I won’t go so far as to say that was a mistake, but she did not perk up, and she is home from school today.  The things we chose to do did not over-tax her, though, and she rested in the car a great deal.  We took a 2 hour break in the middle of the afternoon at a very casual pizza parlor, and she lay across a bench the entire time (while not typically appropriate behavior, the place was so empty and laid back, it was okay).
We had a nice visit with my parents.  There was no negativity, and everyone got along well (despite Lemon’s grouchiness). It was odd when it got dark at 4:20 yesterday afternoon, and since we were enjoying outdoor activities, it did signal an end to our day.  That worked out well because it meant we could drive home, unpack the car, forage for dinner provisions and STILL watch the entire Patriots game.
And now I have to be creative about ways to keep my mind off of what feels like impending doom and to keep myself focused on getting through the tons of work I have in front of me.
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Ornery

September 17, 2011

Today is a bad day.  There are three reasons:

1)  My mother appears not to be speaking to me;

2)  I’m pretty sure Lemon isn’t, either; and

3)  We’ve had a second unexpected change in our directing staff for the school play I am producing.

I’m also in the midst of an over-stuffed weekend — plans all three nights — which I do not like.

Saga the first — My Mother

There is a cabin in Vermont.  I have been going to it since I was 2.  With my parents.  Since I moved back to the east coast, I have been revisiting the cabin.  Sometimes with my parents, sometimes just with my family.  My dad’s boss owns the cabin, and he and his family use it primarily for skiing.  We have always used it off-season from them (because we don’t ski).  I worked for my dad’s company for years, so it’s not that awkward that I use the cabin sometimes now, as an adult.  The owner’s grandson and I used to work together in the company, and now he’s the one who manages its use, and it works out well.

We tried to go to this cabin for Mouse’s birthday (with lots ‘o girls), back in May.  It didn’t work out.  But now Columbus Day weekend is coming up.  Enough kids on Mouse’s soccer team were going away for the weekend that their soccer game was postponed.  We had toyed with going to Niagara Falls over this weekend, but when push comes to shove, it just seems too far.  Eight hours of driving on either end of even a long weekend seems like too much.  Especially since we all still have our hours of driving during vacation on our minds (which went well, but it isn’t yet far enough in the past to have triggered our driving “reset” button).

I brought up the cabin in Vermont.  WD said, “Wow, that could be 10 kinds of awesome.”

Vermont?  Peak foliage?  Alpine slides? Amazing independent bookstore that somehow swallows the girls for hours on end just like it does their parents?  Rushing river in the backyard?  Decent restaurants nearby?  Only a 2.5 hour drive from home?  And did I mention — FREE????

I emailed my friend-of-old to see if it was free, offered to pay some $$ for the privilege (refused), chatted a bit about how the town we’re headed to was “destroyed” by Irene (why?  why did she have to wreck EVERY SINGLE PLACE we want to go???)

I told WD, “you know my parents are going to want to come?” He said yea, but that’s fine.  They can come along with the things we’re doing, or they’ll go do something else (i.e., my mom’s knees aren’t in good shape, so a hike wouldn’t work for her).

I emailed my dad, told him what were doing.  He was happy for us.  I said, “do you think you guys will try and visit during some of it?”  He said “Eh, we’re traveling the weekends on either side, and we’re probably on call. But maybe we’ll try.”  Seemed fine to me.

But then later, I get an email from my mom.  “What do you think we if invite your brother and his wife and their 2 kids, too?”

Wait.  Wait.

No!!

First, the cabin is not that big.  Two of the three usable bedrooms are open loft rooms.  So when the toddlers (2 and 4) need to go to sleep at 8 or something, what do the rest of us do?  Well, I guarantee you that we’ll be told by my very demanding brother that we will be SILENT.  And because he has a temper, woe to the person who disobeys.

And then, in the morning?  What happens when the teens are looking to sleep in past 6 a.m., and the toddlers are squealing and screeching?

And did you see what I said up there?  3 usable bedrooms?  I didn’t mention 1 usable bathroom.  There’s only one usable bathroom!!!

So you take a family of 4, and you put them in this quaint cabin.  They have a blast.  The girls can share a room if they want, they can refuse to do so if they want.  You then stuff SIX MORE PEOPLE in, and you know what?  It’s kind of not fun anymore.  Especially if some of the personalities in the over-stuffed cabin are not easy ones.  Not flexible ones.

My mom’s email also said, “I haven’t said anything to them yet, so if you want to say ‘no’, that’s fine.”

So I did.  I said no.  I said I was sorry, but it really changed the weekend in a way that we weren’t up for right now.  To have a break from the busy-busy-busy is a treat.  That having mom and dad come is one thing, but another family of 4 with their very different needs and schedules is a lot to stuff in the cabin.

But really – the biggest problem is that my mother can’t just let me make plans.  She has to co-opt things.  To decide the right way to do things, and then push until her version is what happens.

Knowing this, I should have known better.  I should have known that she didn’t MEAN that “if you want to say ‘no,’ that’s fine.'”

Because she’s now not speaking to me.

2)  Lemon is a Sourpuss

Less of a big deal.  She was rather rudely demanding a ride to crew, instead of her riding her bike (like she does every day).  I said no.   I had things to do.  The play (see #3), dinner company tonight, etc. WD said no.  He was on his way out for a run, and he’s the cook for the dinner party tonight.

Everybody said no.

Therefore, Lemon was a tearful martyr.  Then an angry martyr.  I was not amused.

But for a little while, she wasn’t speaking to me. Fortunately, she came home with apologies.

3)  The play. Which is not all fun & games, but rather – work.

Last year, I think I refrained from blogging about it too much, out of fear of being discovered, and making things public that didn’t need to be, we went through HELL with this play.

We hired a director for our fall play in JUNE.  I, as the producer, was in touch with him throughout the summer to confirm his continued availability.  A group of us met in August, to get the process started.  We worked together in September, to do auditions and casting.  He started the rehearsal process in early October.

After the third day of rehearsal, he wrote me an email that was a very formal – yet unexplained – resignation letter.

Unheard of.  It’s a 10 week process.  We were 2 weeks in. And he quit. Contract be damned, kids be damned, commitment be damned.  He was gone.  He didn’t respond to our emails asking he finish out the week.  He didn’t return our phone calls.  He didn’t give a single reason for his abhorrent behavior.  (We can imagine some reasons — but none of which should have been unexpected when directing a play in a junior high school … they are very typical.  Parent-issues, principal issues, volunteer issues.  He had experience working on school plays.  This should have been anticipated.)

Fortunately, we were able to pull things together and get a new team in place (including moving our Assistant Director up to Lead Director).  Some things were rocky going forward:  The first (loser) Director had chosen the show, and the new directing team didn’t love it. The first Director cast the show. The first Director edited the script (or didn’t … in this case … leaving very age-inappropriate material in the script).  But we pulled it together.  We had a great show.  Things were fine.

This year, we are having odd shadows of what happened last year.  Our lead-director called right before our start up meeting and asked to switch places with the Assistant Director.  It was fine.  They are both well-qualified.  I had a moment of hyperventilation, after last year’s trauma (it was horrible, you know), but I knew it was going to be fine.

But then today – another phone call!   The now-assistant director got an acting gig, starting 2 weeks before our show.  Which is dress rehearsal week.  Tech week.  PERFORMANCE WEEK.  And the now-assistant director is ALSO the choreographer.

This, too, will be fine.  The rug is not pulled out from under us (as it was last year).  We have time to figure out a transition and coverage over the last weeks.  But it’s still not what I would have chosen to happen today.  On top of the other stuff.

The rest of the day was full of frantic emails trying to get the audition schedule squared away, juggling kids’ conflicts and preferences, working on getting all the kids registered, and generally fussing through the details.

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A Good Mother’s Day.

May 9, 2011

My public plea for patience worked.  I think that we had a nice, mellow visit with my parents.  WD had to field a few prodding “I am a conservative and you are a liberal, lets see if I can goad you” questions from my father when they were alone in a car.  Oh, and Lemon had to defend her boycott of Target, which led my parents to roll their eyes (she/we boycotts based on their financial support for political candidates who oppose gay marriage).

Otherwise, we had a very good weekend.

Lemon’s race went very well.  Six boats from our school raced, and hers was the only one that took a medal (silver).  My parents got a taste of the kids, the community.  My mom helped me to work the food tent, where parents pitch in to feed the 50+ athletes throughout the day.  She chatted with some of Lemon’s friends, and walked away quite impressed with the state of 14 yo’s in this day and age.  (Because they rock.)

Then Mouse had a soccer game.  My dad, WD and Mouse left the race at 11 to get Mouse there early, as is required.  Mom and I stayed behind to finish our shift at the food tent.  We were running late for the game, thanks to traffic, and by the time we go there, so had some thunder & lightning.  They called the game, and so we all went home.

Potentially Awkward Thing That Ended Up Not:

In December of 2009, my mom asked me what WD would want for his birthday.  I said a GPS.  She said, “great! That’s a good idea!”  We were shocked when the GPS arrived at the house, because it was obviously a used and very outdated model.  At first, we thought they just gave us theirs.  Either way, I was pretty offended.  I mean – new GPSs are $100.  My parents often gift around $150-$200 for birthdays, etc.  True, WD is not their son, but still.  They hadn’t done that before.  We were very confused, and I was a little pissed.

When I spoke to my mother on the phone later, she said, “I spent forever trying to find our exact model!  We love it so much, and I don’t know anything about them, so I thought I should just stick with what I know.”

It may very well be that the gift was punishment for me.  Because my mother has this …. thing.  When she buys gifts for me, my sister, or anyone in our families, she wants it to be not just a gift-giving process, but a gift-buying process.  This means spending hours on the computer or the phone looking at options, clicking on links, and making suggestions.  I find it very frustrating, and I always try to get out of it.  I thought I did get out of it with the GPS.  “I don’t know what to get, tell me waht you want.”  To which I responded, “I don’t know, Mom.  I don’t know anything about them, either.”

And we got the used, outdated, software-less, instruction-less, charger-less GPS model.  Lesson learned.  I guess.

So, 6 months later, we said forget this crappy GPS model.  We’re getting a decent one.  We went to Best Buy during tax free weekend, and we picked out a Tom Tom.  It was $125, if that.

We spent some months saying, “what if your/my parents notice that we got rid of theirs? What will they do? What will they say?”

This weekend, they noticed.  My dad ooh’d and ahh’d, and my mom said, “what!?  It tells you what LANE to go in? I want that one!  Give me the model number!”  (And has since emailed me twice, asking for the model number.)

So, they weren’t offended.  At all.

My Parents left on the early side after brunch on Sunday.  Lemon had her Latin lesson, and then was due to have a friend over.  I was quite happy to have an afternoon with little to do.

But then I remembered that Thor came out this weekend, and was suddenly very interested in going to a movie.  And it was Mother’s Day, so what Suzie wanted, Suzie got.

We should probably be embarrassed about our love for what we term the Big, Dumb Movie.  But we do love them.  And they tend to be the ones we see in theaters.  Non-dumb, and non-big, movies are easily viewed at home.  But the Big, Dumb Movie is best seen on a huge screen.

Last Mother’s Day it was Iron Man 2.

This Mother’s Day, Thor.

Both were very fun for me.

Maybe next Mother’s Day will be the Avengers.

So, that was mothers day.  Wishes granted; happiness had.

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My Mother’s Day Wishlist

May 6, 2011

For Mother’s Day this year, I am requesting one thing.  I want it not only for myself, but to benefit others.

I’m asking for Patience.

I need patience.  Because my parents are coming to town.

Lemon is in a race tomorrow, and Mouse is playing soccer.  Mother’s Day is on Sunday, and my parents hadn’t been here for a while.  So it seemed to make sense.

But a couple of weeks ago, I had a super-brief visit with my parents on my way home from the Middle of the Country, and my mom was … off.  A little too eager, a little too talkative; almost manic.  Then she went on this strange tirade yelling at me about something that happened a long, long, long time ago, as if it happened, well, right that moment.

If she’s that way all weekend, I’m going to struggle.

When my Mom was “acting up” (for lack of a better term), my father was making “sorry” faces at me.

But then today, my dad called me.  I was on my way back to the office after a necessary but inconvenient trip to a courthouse in a suburban county, and I’d gotten several emails while on the trip from partners wanting me in their office right now, which I obviously could not do, because I was in suburbia.  I wasn’t thrilled about going back to the office at 4 p.m., but I was thrilled that my darling husband drove me back, instead of me taking a cab (which I would have had to wait for) or the train (which I would have had to wait for).

My dad was calling to see if I could “just stop somewhere on my way home tonight and pick up a nice plant” for him to give my mother for mother’s day.

Uh, no, dad, I cannot “just stop somewhere” tonight.  First of all, I odn’t have a “somewhere” to stop.  I live in an urban center.  I don’t have florists peppering my path.  I get off the train in a residential neighborhood, again, no florists.  I am spending my evening washing and drying towels, in addition to driving kids all over the place – crew team dinner, soccer practice, etc.

I wasn’t kind in my rebuff.  I was testy.  I’m sure he knew I was irked.  But he still wouldn’t let me off the phone.  So I got more irked.  And more testy.

I want to not be irked or testy this weekend.  I want to be a loving, respectful daughter.  I want to say, instead, “Gee, dad, I’m sorry.  My time is totally full this evening, and I just don’t think I’ll be able to do that.”  In a gentle tone.  A loving tone.  Not a “What is your fucking problem?” tone.

That is my wish.

For Mother’s Day, I want the patience to be a good daughter.

Please.

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Agitated (or, Notes from the Daughter of a Birther)

May 2, 2011

I have a cousin, with whom I am not close.  He’s in his early 30s, has 2 young kids.

He made a comment today, following the Bin Laden news.  My assumption was that he was tongue-in-cheek: “Mr. Obama, nice distraction, most people don’t even remember your birth certificate case is today ….”

I mean, that’s kinda funny.  When think about how few people have given the birth certificate controversy even the tiniest corner of their minds, right?  Maybe he meant it for reals, but my assumption was — tongue-in-cheek.

__________________________

I went out with work friends last night.  We had a really nice time, talking about BigLaw, and women in the workplace, and next steps.  We played mah jongg.  I won both hands.  We ate yummy soup, and cheese, and bread.  We drank less wine than usual.  I got home right around 10:30.  Lemon was still up, but Mouse was long dead-to-the-world, after her 20 mile walk (peppered with sprints, I heard today).  I was tired.  I was chatting with WD and checked my phone before heading to bed.  “Obama due to make an announcement at 10:30!”

I don’t really know what it says about me that my brain thought, “a meteor is going to hit the earth!” and “maybe a nuclear warhead is on its way!”  (Actually, I think I know what it says about me:  I read and watch too many dystopias.  I spend too much time thinking about how to survive an end-of-the-world tidal wave.)

We turned on the t.v. to find that it was expected that Obama would announce that Bin Laden was dead.

It seamed vague at first.  I spent at least 15 minutes thinking Bin Laden died of cancer.

I truly don’t know what it says about me that most of my thoughts throughout the next 2 hours had to do with political strategy. And a little bit of how Georgie had better been feeling embarrassed. Actually, there was more “so there!” toward Georgie than there was anything else.  (I was very unhappy with him as my president.)

Lemon was watching with us for a while.  It was very interesting to hear her pattering about her memories of 9/11.  How she didn’t “get it” at the time.  She was not yet 5, and more concerned with the fact that her favorite t.v. show wasn’t on, and she wasn’t able to go to preschool that day.  She was trying to say it wasn’t a big deal to her, but yet, at the same time, the details she remembered about the day made it clear that it was very much imprinted on her brain.

_______________________

I’m not a blood-thirsty person.  I haven’t been clamoring for Bin Laden’s death.  I had some sense that him on the run did as much to protect us from him as would him being captured and/or dead.  I also have a very “pollyanna” approach to terrorism.  I do not live in fear of it.  I will never see it as the rule, and always see it as a very rare exception (and, indeed, it is).  But I wasn’t abhorred by Bin Laden’s death last night.

I felt pretty neutral.

I was surprised when my very right-wing, Sarah Palin sympathizing, Obama-distrusting mother got on line at 11:30 or so and said she was NOT celebrating the news.  (In contrast, my father’s reaction was complete celebration.  In fact, he didn’t even work a full day, because he wanted to watch the “good news” on television.)  I didn’t explore her sentiments, though, because it was late.  And I needed to sleep.

Today, to my surprise, mom posted something on Facebook in support of the more peaceful reactions to the day, an MLK, Jr., quote, even:

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.  Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.  Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light cannot do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate:  only love can do that.

I agree.

I had a moment of thinking that maybe Mom is breaking away from dad, and his “string ’em up by the balls!” way of thinking. [You must read that quote with a very gruff voice.]

Until tonight.  Back to my cousin’s post.  The whole “nice distraction” stuff (see above).

My mom responded:  “exactly … cold blooded murder for his own purpose …”

Look.  Like I said, I’m not out for blood.  But to call the military operation against Osama Bin Laden — the last in a series of many orchestrated by two administrations — “cold blooded murder”?  Really?

I’m just at a loss.

I’m also thinking about perusing some right-wing reaction to the news.  Is this something she picked up from Fox?  Or is it her own brand of wacked-out thinking?  If someone has heard this cockamamey sort of thing elsewhere, please let me know.  It might make me feel better.

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Why am I not moving at 75 mph?

April 25, 2011

My 3-day drive-a-thon went as well as could be expected.  Perhaps I could have had less rain, but it didn’t slow me down.  Perhaps I could have gone without the brunch with the in-laws, but it was virtually painless.  Perhaps I could have a 16 yo with a driver’s license, instead of an almost-13-year-old with the propensity for napping, but that will come with time.

I don’t regret the drive for a moment.  I will even go so far as to say I enjoyed it.  I’m glad I did it.

The drive to the Middle of the Country was uneventful.  I drove a lot, stopped a little, and gamed the numbers on my GPS as much as possible without getting a ticket or compromising my safety. Two small things of note:

  • Just as a rainstorm was about to hit me, some rubber weather-stripping came loose on my car roof.  It was whipping around frantically, amusingly causing the cars around me to get out of my way.  I’m sure the idea of having your car whipped is a frightening one.  It didn’t take much to re-attach the strip, and I only got hit by the very beginnings of rain drops in the process.
  • At one point, a red pick up truck passed me.  The truck wasn’t new, but not too old, either.  It was obviously used for the purposes for which it was created — the bed was full of useful items, perhaps used to build houses or barns or something.  There were bungee cords holding some sheet rock in place.  And driving the truck?  A 20-something gal with long curly tresses wearing a tiara.  She was smiling and singing.  It made me want to listen to Taylor Swift.  (But I didn’t, because it was “Suzie Solo Drive” playlist day.  The teen/tween playlist was in the queue for later … I didn’t need a preview of that hot mess.)
During my drive, I ended up with a few new favorite musicians:  Adele, especially her newer album, titled “21”; The National (almost every song); Anna Calvi (thanks to WD for that find) and Florence + the Machine.  Old favorites remained favorites, and I enjoyed spending time with them:  Elbow (love love love love); Coldplay; and The Decemberists.  The Decemberists, especially, I enjoyed having the quiet focused time with.  Their lyrics are so damned interesting, and I can’t focus on them in my usual life.  It made me miss my high school/college/early 20s days, when I would buy a [tape or] C.D. and just lie on the floor listening over and over while reading the included lyrics.   Maybe “rewinding” the tape to listen to a particularly compelling song more than once.
I arrived at the Ex’s house approximately 40 minutes later than I meant to.  I’d forgotten that I would be crossing into another time zone when doing my planning.  Upon coming to the realization in my hotel somewhere in the middle of Indiana, I was very excited.  It meant I could sleep!  Until 8 a.m.!  Which meant I could watch another episode of Jericho! And stay up until midnight!
What I forgot was that I’d have to re-factor the hour when I crossed back over the time zone line.  Duh.
Instead of sleeping for an extra hour, I should have texted the Ex and said, “I meant 11.  I’ll be there at 11, not noon.”
The only real reason for the rush was that Mouse wanted to swim.  I’d worked hard to find a hotel with a pool (and paid a little extra for the pleasure), and didn’t want my lack of math skills to keep her from her swim. Which means – it really wasn’t the end of the world to be running a little later.  In the end, the extra hour of sleep was probably very good for me.
Brunch went well.  My Ex-Mother-In-Law hasn’t  changed an iota from when she was my plain old Mother-In-Law.  It was relatively interesting to watch me, my ex, his new wife, his parents, our daughter, and his baby daughter, all interacting.  It was very natural, cordial, and even pleasant. Mouse loved it.  She sat at a table between her two parents for the first time in several, several years.*  His wife is very nice and easy to talk to.  She had a few blips in the past years where she approached Evil Stepmother status (probably while dealing with infertility and pregnancy), but by-and-large, for the past 10 years, she’s been a very positive presence in the girls’ lives, and I have little to complain about.
Mouse and I had a pretty easy drive.  I’d planned for a shorter drive on Saturday, and more hours on Sunday, and I’m glad I did.  We did end up at the hotel with a couple of hours to swim, and then went in search for food.  Upon looking at the plethora of fast-food-only options in the Middle of the Country, we decided we weren’t actually hungry. Instead, we went to Walmart.  It was her first time, since her mother is typically anti-Walmart.  We got some forgotten toiletries, and generally took in the sights, sounds and smells of an American phenomenon that she had not yet experienced.  The next day was liberally peppered (by her) with knocks on Walmart, and the inferior quality of the items purchased there (but seriously, the Cadbury Mini Eggs did taste a little funny ….)
She is not a good listener of music.  She cannot just settle into a playlist.  she wants every song to be “that song I really want to hear!” and so she did a lot of connecting and unconnecting the iPod from the stereo, and searching for certain artists (Avril Lavigne, Avril Lavigne, and Avril Lavigne, mostly).  She was dismayed at one point when I finally cried uncle and insisted that MY playlist get a turn, and A Fine Frenzy came on.  “Why do you have them?”  Because I like them.  Duh.  Apparently, when your mother discovers and even likes an artist that you thought you discovered and liked as an independent teen, you get upset.
Not very upset, though.  Moods stayed good the entire time.
As it turns out, our route home took us on the highway that passes within 2 miles of my parents’ house.
When I went to the middle of the country, I obeyed my GPS and took the northern-most U.S. highway.  The problem was, in order to go where I had to go, the highway made me turn north, stay straight west for some time, but then turn south along the great lakes before I could head back west.  Felt like wasted time.  Also, honestly, the freeway through upstate New York is not exciting.  So on the way home, we took the other highway.  The one that makes you go east, then turn south for a bit, then go east, and eventually turn north again.  Grrr.  Why can’t you just go east/west from Massachusetts?  What’s up with all the turns and twists and unnecessary mileage?
We decided if we had to go all zig-zag anyway, we may as well take the zig-zag option that lets us pop in and say hello to our parents/grandparents.  We had every intention of making it a surprise, but as my parents’ Easter dinner plans came clear (through their 10,000 calls to me to make sure I was okay), we realized a surprise could cause a problem.  So we told them at 2 that we’d be there at 4:30.
They were having dinner at my brothers’ house, and they all decided, “oh, let’s wait for them for dinner, instead of eating at 3.”  But they decided that after Mouse and I said, “oh, they’re eating at 3, so lets stop and get food so we aren’t hungry when we get there.”
And my mother was in rare form.  I am not entirely sure what was up with her.  But she was in rare form. I ended up getting a 5 minute lecture about my “attitude” when I was in college.  When Mouse and I got back in the car, I thought about giving her a 10 minute lecture about her toddler tantrums.  How dare she act so irrationally?  What was she possibly thinking?  But, actually, those tantrums were only 9 years ago.  Not twenty years ago.  For crying out loud.
Then, to top it all off, the last 2.5 hours between my parents’ house and my house was our first run-in with traffic.  It was riddled with traffic.  When we first got in the car, our GPS told us we’d be home at 8:15.  We got home at 9:54.
It was good to spend a lot of time quiet and with less input.  It was great to spend time with my sweet daughter.  And she was a sweetie.  At one point, she dozed in the car, and the blanket I’d brought for her got twisted in such a way that she was uncovered.  I reached over and covered her up, and she rolled over with a big smile & blew me a kiss and grabbed my hand from the gear shift, and fell back asleep holding my hand.  We enjoyed each other’s company and made each other laugh.
And it is good to be home.
* I had them for brunch once, a couple of years ago sans the parents and baby daughter.  Same thing – much civility, pleasantry, and get-along-ability.  Bodes well for weddings and graduations, I think.
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Losing Touch

March 29, 2011

Toward the end of the day on Sunday  — after WD and I went to the museum, and after met the girls for dinner at a restaurant that just opened in Boston that we loved when we were in NYC — I logged onto Facebook.  I scrolled through the ridiculous onslaught of music videos that so many people insist on posting — even when “music video” means “lyrics scrolling across the screen while the song plays” — and saw a few fun tidbits from friends and family.  Including a post by my mother talking about how much fun she had celebrating her granddaughter’s second birthday.

Huh.  Her granddaughter = my niece.  “Today’s her birthday?” I thought.

Pathetic, right?

So what did I do?  Did I pick up the phone?  Nope.  I posted on my brother’s and his wife’s facebook pages.  Because no one has picked up the phone in so long, it didn’t seem feasible.

I think I’ll send her a gift, though.

And then I think “Why?  He’s really NEVER gotten my kids gifts for their birthdays.”

But – does that matter?

On my commute home yesterday, I started to think about it a bit more.  I struggled to remember when I last spoke with my parents.  I couldn’t remember when I last spoke with my sister.  And I thought, you know, I don’t like this.

______________________________________

In my family of origin, I am the oldest of 3 siblings.  My sister is 2 years and 8 months younger than me, and my brother is 5 years and 9 months younger than me (I think I did that math right — I’d always said he’s 6 years younger, but why break out the months for my sister and not my brother?)

We grew up in a relatively rural part of New England.  It was just rural enough that if we wanted to do get together with friends, our parents had to drive us.  For some reason, for us, that meant we stayed home a lot.  My brother, sister and I spent a LOT of time together.  For a while when we were younger, my mother worked nights on the weekends, and she slept all day on Saturday and Sunday.  My dad worked in the service industry, and he spent those days working.  So it was just us kids …. all. day. long.

We fought a lot.  But we also had a lot of fun.  My sister and I especially had a pretty close relationship.  Sometimes,  that closeness resulted in cat fights and physical altercations … but most of my memories of my pre teen years involve my sister.  Watching t.v. together after school, trying and botching taffy recipes, and stashing the wrecked remains in the woods, staying up until 2 a.m. during the summers playing spit and listening to Cyndi Lauper, etc.

As I may or may not have mentioned, when I was a pre-teen, my mother had a “religious awakening” of sorts.  She had been raised Russian Orthodox, then we had a blip of Congregationalism, but when I was 11, my mother became Born Again.  My father eventually followed.

Today, my brother, sister and I all have chosen not to be a part of that religion.  That choice meant different things for all of us, and the separation process from our parents’ religion took different forms.  There was, as a result, a certain amount of separation from our parents, as well.  We all three do what we can to stay close to them on the levels we are able, and I think I have been successful.  We all three carry different levels of scars from the years where the religion shaped our home life.

Since we’re adults, us siblings ahve gone through various levels of closeness.

When I was a single mother, living in California, my sister left her husband.  She and her then-2-year old son lived with me and my girls for a long time. We functioned like a married couple, an intact family.  She cooked and took care of the house.  I worked.  If my kids were sick, she picked them up from school and helped them to feel better.  We did things together on the weekends.

We were very, very close.

When it was clear that we needed space, she found an apartment across the street.  The kids would run to visit her in their jammies and bare feet.

When I moved back east, we had tears.  (Just like we did when I went to college.)

But since I’ve been back east, we’ve drifted.  For a while, we stayed close through email.  But that faded, too.  Now she’ll occasionally text me.  If something comes up, there’s no problem picking up the phone for a quick call.  But I have no idea what her day-to-day life looks like.  There are a few potential reasons for that, which are not blog fodder, but regardless, I really miss her.

My brother and I also have had our ups and downs of closeness.  If hard pressed to say why we’re currently in a down, I would pin the blame on myself.  We worked through some issues in the past couple of years, and he was doing a really good job of keeping in contact, calling frequently, checking in.  But the timing of the calls was tough, and I wouldn’t pick up because I couldn’t have a conversation with him while sharing an office at work.  And I wouldn’t call back quickly, because by the time our later dinner hour took place, I knew he was putting his small children to bed.

And now – tons of life is happening on both ends, and we’re not really talking much.

And I missed his daughter’s birthday.

Now I feel compelled to fix it.

I called my parents last night – although, really, I wasn’t very out of touch with them.  My mom is a big chatter (i.e., instant messenger), and we often touch based through the computer and give updates.  It isn’t a bad way to at least keep some level of contact.  They visit us occasionally, and us them.  We used to more, but my girls’ sports makes it difficult.  Lemon has a crew race every weekend starting this Saturday.  They take an entire day.  It’s tough to do a 2 1/2 hour drive (each way) in one day.

So I am going to try – I am going to pick up the phone and check in with my brother – break through the potential icy start, until we get to place of more comfortable chatting.  I will try and do the same with my opposite-coast sister.  And see if I can’t make my actions match my priorities.

[This makes me a totally typical oldest child, doesn’t it?]

[Also sad to realize I don’t have my brother’s phone number in my phone.  Geez!!  Where’d it go??]

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Balance

December 29, 2010

I’m feeling a little guilty about yesterday’s rant.  It goes against my latest mission:  The mission to appreciate my parents more.  To be more loving toward them.

I am 38, and my parents are 60 and 63.  They were young when they had me, and I am grateful that I have them around.  But despite that gratitude, I often find myself slipping into irritation, frustration, annoyance, when I am around them.

And it has struck me lately – as I see my 14 yo slip into irritation, frustration annoyance with me – that my parents deserve better.

Yes, they have beliefs I disagree with.  And – yes – those beliefs were implemented in ways that have impacted my life in important ways.  But so what?  Whose doesn’t?  What parents don’t profoundly impact their kids’ lives?  Whether it’s religious beliefs, divorce, relocation, job loss, illness — parents and children are intertwined, and the decisions and events of one will impact the other.

Many of my friends have lost their parents, and they have chastised me for complaining about my mother:

Me: “Ugh, my mother is insisting that we travel to Connecticut for a Christmas celebration!  I don’t have time for this!”

Friend who lost her mother when she was 15:  “What I wouldn’t give for another chance to celebrate with my mother.”

That didn’t stop the irritation, though.   It didn’t keep me from choosing not to call my mother, rather than hear cliché after cliché.  It didn’t keep me from seeing my father’s caller i.d. on the phone and letting it ring and ring, rather than hear the usual harassment about why I haven’t gotten on the road yet, or the teasing about the Patriots losing, or something else.

It really is the recognition that my kids keep getting older.  And they will not stop.

Right now, Lemon still comes and lies next to me in my bed, and asks me what I’m reading, and rests her head on my shoulder.  She still wants to tell me funny stories about things that happened during her day (even if I can’t make heads or tails of what she’s telling me, not knowing these new high school friends of hers or their inside jokes).  But there are glimpses.  Glimpses that come with, “can you PLEASE shut my door when you leave?”

And I find myself spending considerable time wondering what it will be like when we reach the phase in life where I don’t talk to these two people who mean so very much to me every single day?  What will that be like?

It will be like shit.  That’s what it will be like.

Will it be less crappy because they’re one day 38 and have kids (babies, hopefully, because they will obey me, and not have children until they are 30)?  No.  Will I ever want to hear frustration and annoyance in my daughter’s voice when I call her?  No.  I will NOT.

So, my parents struggled with me during my teen years.  But they also took care of me when I was a baby, and they changed my diapers, and they taught me how to laugh, and how to have fun.  They taught me about the importance of the family unit, and they gave me a good life.  They have apologized to me for the struggles we had when I was a teen – they know they went overboard.  They know they were over-zealous.  They were finding their way.  They weren’t perfect.  And I have benefited – as a parent – from their mistakes.  My kids will benefit from me knowing what not to do.

And when I was divorced, and they were so disappointed, and when I subsequently told them I had nothing in me that followed their faith, and they were heartbroken, they moved on.  And they continued to support me, and to accept me.  They did everything they could to be there for me.  Through the divorce, through my move back east, through all of law school.

And I am grateful.  And I will do my best to show it, and to be there for them, no matter what.  Without irritation.  Or at least with less irritation.  Hopefully.

[But I was still mad on Christmas.  So there.]

 

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I Guess I’m Still Angry

December 28, 2010

My flu did not go away in time for our trip to my parents’ house.  It stayed with me.  I had my 102 degree fever through the 2.5 hour drive south, through the Christmas Eve gathering with my brother and his absolutely adorable young children, through that night’s sleep, through the Christmas morning gift-extravaganza, through my almost-all-day-long-nap on Christmas Day, through the 2 short hours of Christmas Day that I was awake, through the snow storm that started on Sunday morning and drove us into our car more than 24 hours ahead of schedule, through the 6 hour drive home, where we apparently did not beat the storm into Boston, and through that night where I was unable to enjoy the snow and the wind and the awesomeness of winter.  Finally, yesterday, the fever waned, but I was left a little dizzy and without much energy to speak of.

I was sick enough, with little to no voice, that I could not talk to my husband about many things I wanted to talk to him about.  I just didn’t have the energy for real conversations.

One of things that kept running through my mind to discuss with him happened at the tail end of Christmas dinner, long after I had to flee to a recliner in the other room.  Let’s set the stage.

My dad invited some old family friends over.  He thought they’d come after dinner.  They did come after *their* dinner, and arrived 20 minutes before ours.  So they sat with us through our dinner, and for a few hours after.

These family friends became friends around the time that I was Mouse’s age.  12.  My mom had just found a “church home,” and was born again and baptized.  She had one mission in life:  To Convert My Father.  He had one mission in life:  To Give God the Finger.  Those missions were in conflict.

But then my mom met our family friend, who had long been a member of the church that was new to us.  He was 10 years younger than my dad, but relatively similar in appearance.  Bearded, gruff-looking.  He shared many interests with my dad.  He hunted!  He fished!  He had a motorcycle!  These things were important things in Winning Dad Over.

The short story – he was instrumental in winning my dad over.  My dad – after 3 long years – was Won Over.  Since then, the family friends and my parents no longer attend the same church, and they are not quite as close as they used to be. Even though we were very close for several years.  I think that their younger age lent to them being close to us kids, as well as to my parents.  The wives had less in common with each other, and I got along better with the wife than my mom did.  So family dynamics changed with my siblings and I growing up and moving (far) away, my dad and the husband stayed friends, but independent of the families.  They still hunt and fish together.  Once they came to Boston together, Patriots tickets in hand, and WD and I went to the game with them.

My dad remains very much Born Again and very conservative, but he is a little less conservative – behavior wise – than the family friend.  For instance, my dad enjoys alcohol beverages, while the family friend eschews all alcohol, and always has (freak).  This probably also keeps them from spending as much time together as they used to in larger social circles.  My parents now hang out with other born again people who don’t mind giggling over the fact that their margaritas went to their head.

But the family friend came over on Christmas, with his (only) daughter, who is one year older than my Lemon.   His wife was sick (she had a COLD, not the much-more-serious FLU that I had/have).

I have the same uneasy and relatively guarded relationship with this person as I do with many of my parents’ friends from that period of my life.  They must know – from my life choices and from my parents’ “prayer requests” that I no longer share their faith.  But we don’t discuss it.  I don’t cuss like a sailor around them, nor do I flaunt my Sunday Morning Sleep Ins or my raucous partying ways (ha!).  They may mention people we used to know in common, but rarely will talk about god or their faith with me.

So it was after I left the table that the Conversation happened.  I thought WD was still there.  But he doesn’t remember the conversation the way I heard it.  So maybe his feelers were up, and he left before things turned.  Maybe I hallucinated in my fever.  But this is what *I* heard, and what *I* stewed over for 3 days before I had the energy (last night at 12:30 while WD scratched my back trying to calm me down) to rant and rave with my squeaky-barely-a-whisper voice:

Family Friend’s Daughter:   Dad says I should go to B____ college in Boston. [I’m not being craftily anonymous.  I have no idea what she said — I was 3 rooms away.]

My Father:  Yeah, but not until your third year.

My Husband:  Well, what do you want to do?

Daughter:  I want to be a teacher.

My Father:  You really should just stay home for the first two years.

[small pause – perhaps wherein my husband and the high school girls left the room?]

My Father:  After all my experience with my three kids, I really feel strongly that it’s important that kids stay home for the first two years of college.  It’s a good way to ease the separation.

My Mother:  Yeah, you know, all that really matters is what the degree says, it doesn’t matter where they go to school leading up until then.

My Father:  Suzie stayed home, you know.  She went to college the first year right down the street.  And that was real good for her.   You know, they go from being dependent on you and under your roof to just out there on their own.  It’s just too much.  They need more time to ease the separation.

Family Friend:  Well, yeah, but B____ is a Christian College (why I have no clue what school he’s talking about.  What “christian” college is in Boston?  Also, for the record, in this conversation, “Christian College” means “evangelical born again college” – not “a school grounded in any faith that believes in Jesus.”  ]

My Father:  Yeah, pfft.  So was Liberty.  I mean, it was christian enough when Suzie went, but by the time her sister went, it lost a lot of its values.  [Although, for the record, if my sister got caught kissing her boyfriend, she would have gotten kicked out.  And if my sister wore a skirt that came above her knees (skirts being the only thing we were allowed to wear outside the dorms before 6 p.m.), she would have had to pay a fine.  And my sister still had to attend church 3x a week, chapel 3x a week, prayer meeting 2x a week, and had a midnight curfew.  She also wasn’t allowed to watch television, and couldn’t listen to non-evangelical music without paying a fine.]

Family Friend:  Yeah, no kidding.

My Father:  They really should stay home for 2 years.  It really helps with the separation, and the transition.

Yeah, dad, you said that already.

I think that’s a fine idea.  A good plan.  Worked well for all your kids:  Shelter your kids, tell them what to believe, who to be friends with, allow no questions to be asked – basically, refuse to prepare them for the outside world.  Then, because they are UNPREPARED, oh!  Just keep them home even longer!

Then, when they do leave all the series of bubbles that you built for them, they will not be at all maladjusted, or delayed in their maturation process.  They will not ( in 3 out of 3 cases) rush into a premature marriage at a ridiculously young age, in light of pressure from said bubble environments, eventually ending in divorce.

But wait.

This has been sarcasm.

No, let’s continue the sarcasm for a minute to say – who cares about the quality of the actual education your offspring receives during their college experience?  That is not important.  What is important is the amount of indoctrination received, the amount of oversight by adults who will ensure that children (I mean … young adults) will not be kissing other children (I mean, young adults), will not be watching Rated R movies, will not be dancing, will not be listening to music with lyrics that may suggest intimate relationships with people of the same gender, and hopefully (although less importantly … especially if they’re athletes, or boys) won’t be drinking alcohol.

Maybe I will stop ranting now.  And I will just say … I do not share my father’s priorities.  I am working to prepare my children to be ready to face the world after high school  – whether they choose to head directly to college, to partake in a gap year activity, or otherwise.  I understand that they will not be fully formed upon their graduation from high school, and I am okay with that.  I am okay with them making mistakes during their still-formative years, and making those mistakes away from home.  I feel that I can trust that those mistakes will not have life-long impacts, because they will be leaving our home armed with enough education to know what consequences result from what behavior.  They will leave our home with enough self-confidence and education to know where their own limits are.  And maybe that won’t protect them.  Maybe serious mistakes will *still* happen.  But I will have done all I can – and I will have done my best, and I will be UNABLE to prevent everything from happening to my ADULT children.

___________________

The whole time I was in high school, my parents insisted that I get “good grades” so I could “go to college.”  It didn’t sink in for me.  I didn’t want to do the work to get “good grades.”  I didn’t have a goal other than to “go to college.”   At the same time, mother often talked about my future ONLY as when I got married and had children and took care of my children … While I do not remember exactly how I viewed my own future during my childhood, I am not surprised today at my lack of goals then.

I didn’t do well in high school.  I was smart enough – I could pull off my final exams with As and A+s, but after averaging them in with a semester’s worth of missing and late homework assignments, I was a pretty solid C student.

When I was a junior in high school, I started dating a boy that my parents hated. We fought about it.  I kind of won, and kept dating him.  Until they found out that we had … well … that I wasn’t a virgin.

Two years of intense fighting, grounding, family counseling – absolute misery – ensued.  My grades suffered.  I almost enjoyed the look on my parents’ faces when they saw the grades I brought home.  There weren’t many ways that I could return the misery that I felt they were inflicting on me (of course, the entire package of this mess inflicted plenty of suffering on all of us.)  I was solidly a non-college path.

During that time, I had a job in a law office working as a Girl Friday.  I did secretarial tasks, I ran to the court, I ran to other offices.  I did computer projects.  I liked it.  My mom started to fantasize about my life as a Legal Secretary, and how well I would do.  “Did you know that Aunt Marge knows someone who works as a Legal Secretary in the City, and she makes $70,000!!  Just think of the things you could do?”

It wasn’t until spring of my senior year that I realized that everything in my life was about rebelling against my parents, and I was sick of it.  I broke up with the boyfriend, and started caring about school.  I filled out college applications.  I told my parents I accepted Jesus as my Lord & Savior, and that I was sorry for being so stubborn.

But they told me I couldn’t go away to college.  Not until I proved myself.

Academically, it made sense.  I really didn’t get decent grades until my last semester of high school.  Then I got all As.  They didn’t want to pay for room and board just to watch me flunk out.  They weren’t super well off, and that made sense.

But they also made it clear that they “didn’t trust me yet.”  To behave.  Not to slip into my non-Christian ways.

So I stayed home. For my first year of college.

It really didn’t have anything to do with “easing the separation” or the fact that I was “depending on getting everything under their roof for my whole life.”  (What does that even MEAN?)

I guess we all try to do things with our past to make it work for us.  That makes us feel better about the decisions we made, and the paths we chose.  But when I hear my parents contort the things that shaped my life in relatively meaningful ways so that it works for them, it really upsets me.   I think my dad looks at where I am now, and glosses over what happened in between.  Maybe he really thinks that I am “where I am today” because he didn’t trust me to move out of his house when I was 17 years old and a freshman in college.

He looks at me, and sees the first person on his side of the family to graduate with a college degree.  He looks, and he sees that I went to law school, that I work in a very tall building in a very big city.  I live in a city.  I have two teen daughters who get straight As and play sports and have really great senses of humor.

Sure, I got divorced, and he does not approve.  But do you know how easy it is for him to place all the blame on my ex husband?  Just as easy as it is for my ex husband’s family to place all the blame on ME.  So they can continue to love their son, unconditionally, and enjoy his new spouse and his new family.

I look at me, and I wonder what I could have done with my life if I left my parents’ house solid in who I was?  If I didn’t squander away high school rebelling against rules designed to keep me biblical, if I didn’t spend 3 years at Liberty being told how to think, what to believe, what party to join?  And then another 3 years — while getting married and having babies — wrestling with how that all conflicted with the world BEYOND Liberty?  Then another 3 years trying to take this new reality and figure out who I was inside of it?  Now with a divorce, a 6-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a house to support?  Then another 3 years, as the kids inched their way through Kindergarten, first grade, second grade … trying to get my feet under me, paying off the debt from the ex’s ph.d., the years of floundering, and figuring out how to pursue my OWN goals?  Then another 3 years attending law school?

And now I’m 38 years old, my oldest is 3 years away from college which is almost completely un-funded, I still rent in a very expensive city, and feel way behind.

Of course this is not ONLY because I stayed home for my first year of college.

But I believe it’s all twisted up into the point of view that makes him say that.  At least somewhat.