It’s Big Anne’s Birthday!

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As you can see from this picture, my mother comes by the name “Big Anne” honestly. Ok, well it may not be so apparent next to my son who is at least a foot taller than her.

She is “Big Anne” because even though she has a small stature she has a very big reach.

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 When we were kids all she had to do was look at us and we would straighten up. The pool was in our backyard and my cousins towered over her but just one crack of the window and we would all freeze frame on the pool deck.

Here are my top 10 nuggets from my mom:

10. Thanks for making me spell the word A.T.T.I.T.U.D.E. when I was a kid. As it turns out, a good one is nearly all you need to live a good life.

9. You were right about not fighting with my sister and pulling all her long straight hair out when we were kids because she ended up being my best friend.

8. Homemade birthday cakes really are better. Thanks for that!

7. You will always be my Miss America to me. I remember watching the pageant every year and being envious of their long legs and their long hair and before she would kiss me good night she would give me that affirmation…a very sweet memory. We also got to meet several of them and go to dinner with them because somehow my father booked their first public appearance at his car dealership for the new car introduction. Amazing when I think back…

6. Treating your mother-in-law well is just another way to show your husband you love him. Thank you for modeling that for me.

5. I’m no better than anyone else. BUT, no one is better than me. Wow…I just love that one…

4. You want to do it, then do it. She was way before Nike’s time!

3. Think about how long you think something will take and double it. God I wish I paid attention to that one more…

2. Friends may come and go but family is forever.

1. Faith, family and food…and if you can have all three at the same time you are triply blest.

20120926-131632.jpgHappy birthday to my most wonderful mother!

Have a yummy day!

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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

Being a Mom Act II (Act I on Friday)

If you are looking for some kind of budget coach babble or college athletics insight, today’s blog is not for you.  Stop reading and please check back next week when I will resume my inside view of college athletic business.  However, if you would like to indulge me, I will give you a little glimpse into my life and what makes me tick. 

I am the mother of two sons.  The first was born in 1984 and passed away on May 14, 1988.  Tommy is the first “Act” I describe in the title.  The second “Act” began when my second son was born in 1990.  Two and one half excruciatingly long years after the death of his brother.  I have been a mother in two acts with a 2 ½ year intermission.

In 1990 when Anthony was born I was still in the middle of a long grieving process.  I used to watch him sleep and wait for him to have a seizure like his brother.  That never happened.  I cried for years at Christmas when we took a family picture for our annual Christmas card knowing that all four of us would never be in one picture together. 

What I did make peace with eventually was that I am the luckiest person on earth to be chosen to raise two extraordinary children.  When I was pregnant with Anthony I prayed for ordinary.  All the right parts in all the right places…Please God let him be healthy…and he was. 

We watched his brother struggle with health issues his entire short life.  Anthony almost sensed this even as a young child and has displayed real courage and character whenever he has had challenges.  When he was cut from the swim team his freshman year in high school after being an all-star in elementary school he visited the coach the day the list was posted.  He asked the coach what he could do to make the team next year.  About a week later he set out on a course to lose 10 pounds and start working out.  He ended up losing 35 pounds, grew two inches and swam regularly with his club.  He made the team the next year and was selected a captain his senior year. 

When he searched for a college he did it without the intention to swim.  I am proud to say he earned Presidential scholarships at three schools and attends Fairfield University on a full academic scholarship.  The greatest surprise is that he decided to walk-on to the team and continues to improve his times. 

The hardest thing for me has been letting him do what he needs to do.  Having one child die can cause difficulty when raising another.  It can be tempting to put him in a bubble and protect him in case something bad is going to happen.  It is hard to see him fall and fail but I know if he is going to learn how to succeed and thrive he needs to skin his knees and bruise his ego.

I am also lucky that my own incredible mother is still with me.  I spent the day with her today and know that each Mother’s Day is special and unique. 

Motherhood has also taught me I am much stronger than I ever imagined I could be.  I take no credit for surviving the death of a child but I will accept some for picking myself up and trying again, just like my extraordinary second “Act” son Anthony who has made his mother proud at every turn.

Life is good!

Jude

Twitter: MidMajorMom

Twitter: JudeCaserta

http://www.MidMajorMom.WordPress.com

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