Goodbye Macaroni: A Different Spin on Mother’s Day

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July 2013 in Chinatown, Chicago IL on a water taxi just hanging out. Crappy lighting but I love this picture. My kids still talk about this day. No special occasion. Just a regular day in the life. I love this memory. I love their smiles most of all.

Mother’s Day has always been a conflicting one for me. I wish so many things had been different between my mom and me, but she died when I was 25, so I never got to see what might have been. My birth mom and I don’t speak anymore – my choice – another story and another layer of complexity. I myself am a mom to two teens, so I am smack dab in the middle of the “child to adult” transition phase x 2. And I’m friends with lots of moms and non-moms who all have different perspectives, opinions, kids, situations, etc.

In other words, I’m a regular mom with all the regular baggage.:)

Then comes Mother’s Day, with the commercial pressure to make the day “special.” I hate that. This brings all sorts of expectations that can’t possibly be met. Well, maybe. Sometimes. Sometimes you end up happy but a little sad for what used to be. What could be. What never will be – ever or again. I am learning to live with this ambiguity. That’s why this year I have a new goal.

Let go of expectations and make room for experience.
I don’t want things. I never did. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve loved, saved and cherished every macaroni necklace, customized gardening gloves, homemade ornament and card. We don’t have money for expensive things, never did, and while those kinds of gifts are lovely and memorable in so many treasured ways, (and I would certainly not turn them down), they are still just…things.

Maybe it’s because my kids are getting older. I feel the end of something looming. I am not sad about it. It feels like the natural order of things. We’re all moving on, as it should be. I just realize I need to change up the Mother’s Day game a bit to fit where we are now.

So what I really want more than anything is a simple, memorable experience. A little slice of time carved out from the real world where we just hang out, laugh, enjoy each other’s company, light candles, play music, just be together, in our little house – the three musketeers, me and my kids. I want an experience we can remember with a smile, no matter what tomorrow may bring. I want in real life what the best photographers capture on film: people lost in the moment, being their true selves, loving, connecting. I want a great story that we can tell again and again long after the day has passed.

Is that so much to ask?:)

And the “expectations” reality check…
This “experience” will more likely than not include four arguments between the teenagers; a puking dog (or two); something burning somewhere; and of course, something lost, spilled and/or broken. No one will be responsible for any of it. This is the way of life with kids no matter how old they are. I’m good with that. Sixteen years into this mom thing, I’ve learned to roll with it. In it. Through it. Over it.

Whatever.

So my Mother’s Day request this year is…
I’ve asked my teenagers (boy and girl, 16 and 14 respectively) to collaborate together to make me dinner AND clean up. I will take them to the store on Saturday to get their items, but from there – it’s all them. As a mom, I want to see my kids working together, unified for a common goal. A good friend inspired me earlier this year with stories of cooking with his older kids, and I am grateful for this. It gave me a new way to connect with my kids and I’ve been engaging them in the kitchen ever since. They are learning to cook, a great life skill, but more importantly – we found something we can do together.

So unlike every other day, this day, Mother’s Day, I will be sitting at the little kitchen table, talking about whatever, while my teenagers bustle around our tiny kitchen and prepare a meal that they think I will like. (My criteria: no dairy, healthy, and nothing out of a box.)

Expectations aside, what does it really mean to be a mom?
It’s a different experience for everyone, isn’t it? For me, it’s always been about finding the best way to connect with your kids no matter what their age or stage. Teaching them. Guiding them. Loving them through the good, the bad, and especially the messy. As they get older, I believe it’s about sharing what you think, your life, your hopes, your dreams, lessons learned, and yes, your disappointments, too. Being vulnerable and open yet firm. Setting limits yet being flexible and understanding. And watching them. Like. A. Hawk.

These days, it also includes being recorded singing (when you cannot or should not ever sing, not even in the shower) or ordering McDonald’s in a cartoon voice when you are not aware and then having it posted on Snapchat without your knowledge or consent. (Not naming names…daughter!!!) The inside family jokes, many of which now come during car trips to school, activities and friends’ houses. The many stories that can only come from many years of just…being there. Bearing witness to lives in the making.

Being a mom is an incredible gift.
Day in and  day out, building the foundation, laying the groundwork, planting the seeds, doing the best you can at any given time and hoping against hope that you are doing right by these tiny little souls entrusted to your care. Giving them everything you can and everything you feel you didn’t get; making up for every missed kiss, hug and word of praise. Trying your best to heal the wounds that are bound to happen, despite your best efforts. Sometimes because of you. In spite of you. We all carry our scars.

Yet still, despite everything, we carry on. We never give up. We may give in once in a while. But we never, ever give up.

Goodbye, macaroni. Hello, dinner!
My days of dressing the kids up, posing them for the camera while enticing them to smile, and attending school-mandated “Mother’s Day celebrations” with macaroni-decorated anything are long over. I’m okay with that. It was kinda fun while it lasted. I am coming to learn that one of the best parts of being a mom is that I know where my kids have been. And now I am excited to see where they are going.

So on this Mother’s Day, I will sit back and watch my teenagers cook a meal for me in my little yellow painted kitchen. It feels like the right way to celebrate what was, what is, and what could be. Honoring their journey to becoming who they are meant to be as I sit on the sidelines – cheering them on, laughing, joking, talking too much and taking way too many pictures.

As always.:)

Wishing you all a happy, meaningful Mother’s Day!

 

 

Why I quit online dating

Hearts On Mobile Phone Shows Love And Online Dating

No, it is not because my knight in shining armor came galloping in, stage left, on his white horse, sweeping me off my feet and up onto the back of the horse with one chiseled, romance-novel strong arm, and then off we rode on a sandy beach as the sun set to live happily ever after.

No. This is not that.

Let’s start at the beginning of my entry into the world of online dating. It started with a phone call from my father in November 2014. It was one year post-divorce for me and almost two years since his second wife passed away. It went like this:

“Hey kid! How’s your love life?” Dad says, unusually chipper.

“My what?? Ha ha, oh, yeah, that. It’s dead,” I say, deadpanning as I always do with him. Not expecting much, I say, “Why, how’s yours, Dad?”

“It’s GREAT!” he says with more enthusiasm than I’ve heard in his voice in months. “I have a date this weekend, another next weekend – and we’re going out on Christmas Eve AND New Year’s Eve!” he says, beaming. (I can hear someone beaming over the phone, can’t you?)

“Wow! Dad, good for you!” I meant it. Seriously. I did.

Continue reading ‘Why I quit online dating’

Engaging our teens: Keep trying

IMG_8572-1291.jpgI don’t know about you, but as a mom of two teenagers (boy and girl), I am always trying to figure out the best way to engage with them and, in marketing terms, ‘stay relevant.’:) I feel this pressure now more than ever to try to communicate all the last drops of wisdom and guidance that I can as they begin their journeys into high school and beyond.

But I’m old and they are young and of course I have no idea what I am talking about.

I’m not a parenting expert. I’m just a mom who wants to stay connected to my children. I have always tried to parent with purpose and that will never change no matter how old they are. Yet I feel the very nature of our relationship changing every day – I am still the parent, they are still the children. But my son is Continue reading ‘Engaging our teens: Keep trying’

keep dancing: bouncing back from life’s curveballs

danceAs kids, we think about becoming something. A fireman. An artist. A parent. A better version of our parents. Lots of things. But life throws us curve balls and where we actually end up tends to deviate from what we once imagined. What is that phrase – life is what happens while we are busy making other plans?

In the last three years, I’ve experienced tremendous change. Divorce. A special needs child finally properly diagnosed after 15 years of struggle. I lost my home. Money. A few friends. My job. At one point, I felt like I lost me. Other times, I lost hope that things could ever be right again. I made mistakes. I tried to make amends. There are still days where I feel like Charlie Brown when the football gets taken away at the last minute and I fall flat on my face.

Some days I still think the universe is punking me.:)

But amidst the change and loss, I found so much more. Continue reading ‘keep dancing: bouncing back from life’s curveballs’

Why I write: Find or reignite your creative fire

creativityThis is for anyone who creates, used to create, wants to be more creative, or wants to start creating something new or different. We all create things. Some of us make art, new recipes, or clothing. Some of us build businesses. Raise children. Creativity takes many forms. But life and time takes its toll. Our creative pursuits often fall to the wayside or we get burnt out, especially if we have to be creative for a living.

I once worked with a group of senior citizens in an assisted living center as a volunteer to help them write their stories. In the first session, there was a lot of silence until one woman finally said, the only thing I’ve ever written is a grocery list! The others laughed. I said – that counts! Because it does. (And yes, we got to their stories.) The ways we share our words and stories may have changed with social media. But any effort to capture our ideas, thoughts, plans and vision matter. That’s why we should do everything we can to make time to create and stay fired up about our creative passions.

One way to do this is Continue reading ‘Why I write: Find or reignite your creative fire’

Be happier in the new year: Say no to resolutions.

 

happy family at music concert

We’ve all had the resolutions – this is the year I’m going to lose weight! Lead a healthier lifestyle! Find a new job! Find a partner! Have a baby! Quit smoking! We start off resolute and determined. But then the days and months tick by, life throws us a million curve balls, and we find ourselves at another new year with the same damn resolutions.

It’s time to think differently about your new year. About you.
Resolutions are not necessarily a bad thing. But they are not motivating. Behind the resolution is the emotion: I’m bad, I’m wrong, I’m failing, I need to do this better, I have to change, I hate “fill in the blank” about myself. It’s no wonder we abandon resolutions. It’s telling yourself – there’s something wrong with me and I NEED to fix it. This YEAR. Or ELSE.

No wonder the gym parking lot and classes are packed in January but open by February.

The problem is that resolutions are missing the top strategic layer of what truly keeps us motivated and on track over a long course of time: a vision and a purpose that excites us down to the core. You’ll know it when you talk about something to others and you feel as if every molecule of your being is lit up like a Christmas tree. This is the real you, and the real source of your power, your new year and your future.

Ditch the resolutions. Choose a theme.
There is a reason why I am hired to create themes for corporate sales teams. Themes motivate people. They bring a concrete structure, energy and life to something that is otherwise intangible. Themes unite people in a common goal over a long period of time. You can build a great story around a theme. Themes are simple, short and memorable. They are positive and motivating. You can add a theme song to amplify the power of your message. A theme can be carried throughout the year and keep groups of people motivated through all the ups and downs that are a certainty, because that is life, not just in the corporate world, but in our personal worlds, too.

Themes help sales teams stay productive and motivated throughout the year to make money for companies. Why not use a theme to make yourself more productive, motivated and quite possibly, financially better off?

Here are three steps to choosing your theme and making it work for you to accomplish your goals in this new year:

Continue reading ‘Be happier in the new year: Say no to resolutions.’

Dealing with a tough situation? Recover faster by asking the right questions.

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Anyone who has ever been stuck in a bad relationship – whether it’s a marriage, a job, dysfunctional family, toxic friends – you know how crappy it feels. There are a million articles out there about how to identify these situations, seven signs of “fill in the blank.” I know. I read everything I can get my hands on.:) And you can get lost in the why. Why did this happen to me? Why did ‘fill in the name” do this to me? Why did my brother die? Why does my child have a disability? Why am I stuck? Why am I here?

This is an important part of the recovery process, don’t get me wrong. But often, we can stuck there, trying to process the why. We can stop there, filling in answers that don’t really help us move forward differently. I believe the only way to move forward and make real, lasting changes in your life starts with asking different questions.

Continue reading ‘Dealing with a tough situation? Recover faster by asking the right questions.’



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