Lessons from Motherhood

The softer you speak, the louder the lesson. Nothing gets attention more quickly than a <seemingly> calm parent.

There is always room in the house for “homemade” anything. I still have a pin shaped like a heart and covered with red granulated sugar that I am going to wear to Mother’s Day Mass given to me when my son was in early elementary school.

It’s easier to bust them for things you did when you were a kid. Growing up I shared a room with my sister. We kept the light on in our closet overnight as an unofficial night light. Because we frequently moved the furniture, I always tried to get the one nearest the closet because I would open the door a little more to get enough light to read. I would be so tired the next day that my mother would think I was sick. Years later I remember accusing Anthony of reading after bedtime. Imagine, chiding your child because they were up late reading. Not every moment is a mother-of-the-year moment.

PlayDoh colors can mix and the end of the world does not come. I think about how many minutes of my life were spent trying to pick-up the wonderful molding toy and it makes me crazy just thinking about it.

All we have is time. And, all we don’t have is time. While I regret only having little Tommy for nearly four years I have never regretted the time we simply just spent together. Fast forward to Anthony and I made life and career choices I am proud of and still reap the benefit of.

The best way to land your helicopter is to never let it take off. Maybe it’s because I watch parents every day at work but I wanted to be sure I wasn’t that parent we all talk about. I am happy we taught our son how to manage money as a young teen, helping him get a checking account when he was 14. I only went toe to toe with one teacher, backing up the rest even when I was less than certain I agreed with their lesson. Watching him navigate his life, making decisions and doing it on his own is way more fun than flying a helicopter.

Even in death, all things are not lost. Over twenty years ago, after Tommy died I planted daffodil bulbs behind our property in a wooded area. I could see them every year and as they multiplied I was reminded of new life. Last year, without notice, the village clear cut forty feet of brush and trees to help with a drainage problem and I was never able to dig up those bulbs for planting in another area. I cried like a baby. I wept because it brought the loss back to the tip of my eyes and the front of my consciousness. About ten days ago, around the remaining brush, this is what I saw:

 one daffodil survived reminding me to hang in there. All is not lost.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers in my life.

Life is good!

Jude

Twitter: MidMajorMom

Twitter: JudeCaserta

About these ads

Taillights Disappear: Another Passage

It was still dark when he left this morning so our traditional blinking of the headlights (him) and front porch light (me) quietly symbolized our wave goodbye.  Another college Christmas vacation in the record books.

He reminded his father on one of their many walks during break that he was graduating from college next year.  Wow!

He reminded me that he was turning 21 THIS year.  Wow, again!

He will likely not be home again until the end of the semester, after finals have been written and the car packed once again.  He has so much to look forward to these next few months including a training trip to Hawaii on Thursday.  He will be back in Buffalo in February for the MAAC Swimming and Diving Championships but that trip is not a visit home, just another part of his swim schedule.

Roommates and friends are packing up into cars and driving down to Florida for spring break, hoping they have the need for a side trip to see their Men’s Basketball team play somewhere in the NCAA First Round.  Easter break will be down at the condo and although it is a second home, I think by then he will be pining for his northern one.

Our regular visits end this month as the season is finally drawing to a close.  This is the semester when I miss him…the house is so quiet…

When he returns in May it will not be for the traditional 3 ½ month break.  He will only spend two weeks at home before we move him to NYC for a 10 week summer internship at PWC.

Today I’ll remember our light flashing goodbye as I pray he has a safe trip and misses me just a little, too!

Life is good!

Jude

Twitter: MidMajorMom

Twitter: JudeCaserta

AthleticBudgetCoach.com

Holiday Stress Meets Female Hormones: Holimones©

3 Comments

Yes, Holimones©! I think it is a great description of what many of us women feel this time of year.  And, if you are a middle aged female you can really understand this because of the sleep disruption associated with this period of life.

Picture her at the Post Office, sliding her packages through the winding que only to get to the counter and find out she used the wrong marker for the address.  She melts down and a neighbor in line remarks to another “she is normally a very nice, courteous person but, you know those Holimones©…!”

She’s the one online at 3am ordering the Sponge Bob Chia Pet.  What right-minded person would do that?

There she is, like Gumby on acid, dusting the living room at midnight, while cookies bake in the nearby kitchen.  Sleep can wait until the 26th!

She is winding the last package with ribbon as she walks out the door for her next holiday party. 

And, guys, you’re not off so easily?  What happens with middle aged men and their hormones?  What else?

Holirones © 

Life is good!

Jude

Twitter: MidMajorMom

Twitter: JudeCaserta

AthleticBudgetCoach.com

My Mother’s Face

9 Comments

It actually took my breath away.  It made me cry.  It filled me with love.  It made me realize how precious life is.  It made time freeze.

Yesterday was day like so many others.  I sang with Voce Regales, a female vocal group formed about 4 years ago by our church’s music minister, Peter Smith.  I have been singing in choral groups since I was in 4th grade, so, that makes it…4 plus 5 minus 52…a really long time!

When I was a kid, my father used to clear his throat.  This way I knew he was there (never always sure about that – he worked a lot and had lots of things going on) and where he was sitting in case I could glance over and smile, wink or discreetly wave.

But my mother was always there having already dressed me in the appropriate outfit, baked the requisite item for the punch and goodies afterward and delivered me to the appropriate venue with minutes to spare after the boots were removed and choir chair found.

If Dad was the wild card, Mom was the Queen.  If Dad was the variable, Mom was the absolute.

Have you ever noticed how little we think about the absolute and how the wild card gets all of the attention.  Yesterday that thought was like a punch in the stomach for me.  My lovely lively mother sat at St. Peter’s Church staring at me with the most devoted face of love I have ever witnessed and all I could do was cry.

To gain composure I looked a little further in the distance, several rows behind me and saw the parents of one of my favored choir members.  What did I see?  I saw the look of absolute love for their daughter.

Most profound for me, however, was the reality that I still had the opportunity to see that look of love and how lucky I am to have at least one of my parents.  To have made it into middle age and still have a parent is a lovely thing.

If your parents are alive, give them a call today for no reason, only to ask about them and offer love.

Life is good!

Jude

Twitter: MidMajorMom

Twitter: JudeCaserta

AthleticBudgetCoach.com

That One Flight Segment Home

While I know that today is the busiest travel day of the year and TSA rules are causing a political and practical stir, you cannot underestimate the power of one…one flight segment.

When we had the “college talk” years ago we instituted very few rules about schools.  The one I was very firm about was the “one flight segment” rule.  This was the one where we wanted him to select a school no further than one airport you can get to without a plane change.  From Buffalo that did not limit him very much.  It only took California off of the radar. 

He can get to New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and Baltimore/DC in one easy flight.  Ironically, Fairfield (50 miles from NYC) takes almost as long to drive as it does to fly when you consider getting to the airport, parking and pat down.

When our son was a freshman we made his Thanksgiving flight before school even started.  It seemed like a good idea at the time but we ended up giving up his return flight because he needed to get back for swim practice.  Still, I do not regret that because it was far less expensive in August than it would have been in the fall.

When his roommate from Sacramento, CA became ill several years ago it brought the distance issue much closer.  His mother needed to make arrangements to fly to Connecticut and could not get there for almost 24 hours.  They think we’re crazy until something like that happens.

Here’s to those freshman parents who are welcoming their children home for the first time since their college adventure began…and to the rest of us who are happy to have a full house, even if it is only for a few days!

Life is good!

Jude

Twitter: MidMajorMom

Twitter: JudeCaserta

AthleticBudgetCoach.com

15 Hour Drive for 2 Minutes and 10 Seconds

20120625-065125.jpg

It’s true. We are THOSE parents and darn proud of it!

I have always been fascinated by the parents of student athletes and now that I am one of them I understand so much more. Many of the coaches I work with tell me about the wonderful things their parents do for the program and believe me, most of them are not sexy…just a great way for them to save money and to save time.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a Canisius College Women’s Soccer game on the campus of Fairfield University. We arrived on campus Friday evening to attend his swim meet at the University of Connecticut the next day. This was the first time a Canisius event occurred on campus while I was there for a swim meet since my son started there in 2008.

Decked out in my Canisius College Athletics jacket, I found the visitors section by listening for the cheers from their hale hearty fans. I would venture a guess that the entirety of the visitors section had some sort of DNA match with someone on the field.

I introduced myself as a member of the Canisius athletic staff and enjoyed meeting nice folks who share the student athlete parent bond. We talked about the competition in the conference and the frequency of the games. We compared notes on distance traveled and they commended me for traveling so far each week for our son’s meets.

My favorite conversation was with a mom who wanted to let me know how much easier it was to be the parent of a swimmer rather than one of an outdoor sport. She supposed it was much easier to sit in a natatorium than to battle the elements. She thought it more comfortable to be indoors and while she is mostly correct she does not understand how oppressive the heat can be in a pool. When you are cold you can add layers but when you are in the pool and sweating from the high heat and humidity you cannot take off your skin.

My answer was simple. I gave her the weather issue and agreed we have it easier to be indoors. But I left her with a thought. If their child was a starter or even a top layer substitute they watched them play for 1-1 ½ hours in a game that lasts about 2 hours total start to finish. But with swimming you could attend a meet which lasts 3-4 hours (including diving but that’s another blog) and your child could potentially compete less than a minute if they are a sprinter. Whoosh, they are done!

If this seems like complaining, I’m not. Actually I’m honored to be able to attend so many meets and grateful for the time and means to do it.

This week it will be at least 20 hours…but he may swim a longer event so maybe it will be 4 ½ minutes!

Life is good!

Jude

Twitter: @JudeTheFoodie

Facebook: Jude TheFoodie

JudeTheFoodie.com

We Survived the Teen Years!

My baby is 20 years old today.  We made it!  The teen years are now in the rearview mirror…where did they go?

It was just 2003 when he was in 8th grade at St. Peter’s School in Lewiston.  They were fundraising for their class trip to Splash Mountain in Erie, PA.  There were only 16 kids in his class at that point and they seemed to have passed that petty junior high nonsense. 

Age 14, as a freshman at Canisius High School, he endured one of the biggest disappointments of his life: getting cut from the swim team.  It was a hugely humbling experience which he ultimately turned around by working out, eating better and swimming more with his club.  By senior year he was voted a captain and contributed to another championship.

Age 15 was frustrating for him because his high school friends were largely located 45 minutes from home with the reliance of parents to get them together.  This was the year where all he did was wish away time…I wish I could drive…I wish I could just go out with my friends without it being a huge production…I wish I were older…I wish…I wish…I wish…

Age 16 – oh, how I remember this day!  Anthony, being Anthony, had done all the research and knew what pieces of ID we needed to get his learners permit.  He probably lined them all up in a folder, clearly marked.  I had the folder with me when I dropped him off at school with the understanding I would pick him up immediately following school and bring him to the DMV.  I picked him up but realized when were nearly on the Grand Island bridge that I forgot the neat folder of ID in my office.  We had to go back, delaying us about 35 minutes.  We got to the DMV at 3:55pm and the woman at the window would not process the paperwork and let him take the test.  You see, there was a clearly marked sign explaining that right next to the window…in four languages so it would be understood by all parents and guardians from all walks of life and continents.  Needless to say, he was not a happy camper.  Bad mother.  I did bring him to the Power Vista parking lot near Niagara University and let him drive around there.  If I was busted, I didn’t care.  Arrest me for letting my “undocumented minor” drive around a parking lot!

Age 17 – college applications were nearly done and waiting for guidance to complete the process.  Little did I know, that was when the true teen angst (his and mine) would begin.  My angst: him driving at night.  His angst: where to go to college.

Age 18 and 19 – freshman and sophomore year at Fairfield University, accounting major and swim team…

We had dinner with him on Friday, saw him swim at UConn Saturday and took him to breakfast this morning.  Zoom zoom…he’s 20!

The older I get, the faster time goes!

Life is good!

Jude

Twitter: MidMajorMom

Twitter: JudeCaserta

AthleticBudgetCoach.com