gifts, 2

So the first round of gifts were store-bought. My favorite shortbread cookies, packaged chocolates. I included a lovely card with my name and address with the festive bags. Yet the second round of gifts were received much more readily than the first.

IMG_0332.JPG

These included homemade sweet banana breads with walnuts, and delicious cookies from a blogger family I follow who often post wonderful recipes. Here is a link for the ones I made which were raved about. I recommend you visit their blog. Always informative and interesting:

Kitchen Sink Cookies

Anyway, these treats went to a nearby fire station and my local post office. The best thing about these kinds of presents was the look of happy surprise when I handed them over.

IMG_0338.JPGhappy ladybug resting in the notch of a small tree

I still have one more delivery, a pecan pie and a festive box of Hershey’s treats to my other local fire station. I will take these on Christmas Eve because they are there working on Christmas Eve. Not with their families. Maybe the firefighters there that day are all unmarried people and volunteer to work over the holiday, but maybe not. Beside, it makes me happy.

IMG_0339.JPG

So whatever your plans, whomever you will have near and hold dear, whatever you celebrate I wish you love, joy, peace, and wonderful friendship.

 

external-content.duckduckgo.jpg(from pinterest.com)

 

 

 

time matters

In my brief attempt at a happy marriage I failed miserably in befriending my mother-in-law. After a couple of years my son was born and life for me had more purpose. Then the happy part of the marriage disappeared and so did my son and I. From the marriage at least. He was two and suddenly I was no longer a stay-at-home mom. Working both in and out of the home presented interesting challenges and required more than one calendar. But we managed it, even had a little fun.

IMG_0283.JPG

My son’s father had a liberal amount of visitation privileges so I signed my son up for frequent flyer programs. Most of our vacations were driving distance ones, but my brother lived in interesting places, Washington, DC, then New York city and invited us to visit. This way I only had to pay for one round-trip airfare and I felt like a genius. Although one of those visits was by train because, well, trains. They are an experience.

IMG_0277.JPG

So yes, some– well, most –of it was hard but my son doesn’t remember those parts. Thankfully he remembers the fun. And he surprised me this year with a Thanksgiving visit. Generally I visit my brother and his family in Houston, which is also where my son happens to live now. But my brother took his family to the Galápagos and my son’s girlfriend’s family were going to be in Houston instead of Colorado this year so my son had plans pretty well set, too. Which is ok, I have been on my own for many years now and don’t mind being by myself.  So when he called a couple of days before Thanksgiving I was delighted. And scrambled. Suddenly I needed a dinner and breakfast food. And everything was accomplished and the day was a great day.IMG_0291.JPG

We walked down by the river, noted little raccoon handprints and other unidentified tracks in the river mud. The wind was brisk which made standing out on the pier a challenge, and cold, so we did not stay out there for long. But Lily and Lulu with their fur coats and the fascinating scents found it hard to leave.

IMG_0288.JPG

Rescue dog Lily’s surgeon is concerned about her recent knee operation, that she might be rejecting a component which can happen occasionally and can be remedied, but requires another surgery. So the chances of seeing my family at Christmas don’t appear to be likely. So I was happy to have an opportunity to see my son.

But his life is busy and he works very hard, so his taking a little time to share with me is something for which I am very grateful.

IMG_0295.JPG

Happy memories.

download.jpg

 

 

 

not the pumpkin

I can remember when I last participated in Hallowe’en. Fall 2008. I was living in northwest New Mexico. I had just adopted a new rescue dog, husky-mix Lily. She was the ideal dog! She knew all her commands– sit, stay, shake, lie down, treat, ride, walk and she could give you “five”.

Until Halloween night. I bought a huge amount of treats. I was so ready for this. Then the doorbell rang. Lily was apoplectic. She raced to the door, clawing at the door frame snarling, saliva flying– she was her own night of terror.  I had to find a way to hold her back, open the door and stick the bowl of candy out the door. Fistfuls were taken I am sure but I was so relieved to shut that door. Half a minute later the entire scene threatened to repeat but, though I heard Lily she was not at the door. I opened the door, gasped at the little monsters waiting their cavity-inducers and closed the door to see Lily standing on the baby grand piano barking in a complete frenzy.

Ok so this won’t work. I took the bowl, poured the other bags of candy and set it at the end of the walkway, turned out the lights and went to bed.

Lily was at peace.

So this year my son called me walking on his way home from work to let me know he would be nearby this weekend for a meeting and would like to come see me. I was so happy! But he sounded a little hesitant. The only reason I can think is because his live-in girlfriend and I have never actually found a common ground. Except my son, which she seems to lord over me. Why I have no idea because clearly, the relationship each of us has is vastly different. But the tension is there all the same. She is ‘New Age-y’, I am conventionally traditional. My son is stuck in the middle.

So we chatted about the weekend and he explained he was juggling a bag of groceries, the phone and a large pumpkin for Halloween.

That stopped me. The image I had was not the literal items he mentioned but the other things in his life– his girlfriend, his work, and me. So I said, “I don’t want to be the pumpkin.”

“What?!” he said.

I explained what he was doing right at that moment was kind of exemplary of other things he was also juggling in his life and I did not simply want to be something superfluous in his life that he would eventually throw away.

Sometimes my worry fantasies are a bit far-fetched. I guess this one was.

A little history: My parents were traditional in that they belonged to the country club, took the family to church (most) Sundays, every major holiday, saw to it we had a good education. Beyond that their lives were consumed with (Dad’s) executive jet-setting, Mom’s golf, book club, junior league, garden club, DAR, bridge club and travel with Dad. I do not take after them much at all. They were unconventional in that we the children fell in there somewhere but inconsistently. We weren’t the pumpkin but we were sometimes rather incidental unless and until we had trouble. My brother? Never. Me? often.

Anyway, sadly my son has nothing whatever to do with the life I knew growing up. He is innocent. Yet I carry this baggage around and sometimes say or think things totally irrelevant to a situation. Because of that history.

Insecurity factors in I suppose, but still.

I do not ever want to be the pumpkin

IMG_0717.JPG

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.”   
 –Psalm 139:16

Visitors

Not like Amahl’s visitors but visitors just the same. My son and his girlfriend are coming to spend Christmas day with me as a starting point for a marathon of visiting family.

I know I should be flattered but I kind of blew it when I raised my son. I knew he was “on loan”, enough churchy friends were more than happy to remind me, many times. I was fiercely independent but unfortunately that doesn’t buy food or pay bills. So I got a job.

Several jobs, actually. One year I laughed so hard at my 1040 form because it literally fluttered with W2 forms, I’d had so many jobs. But the most important one I saw as an inconvenience.

I often hear flattering compliments when people meet my son. How handsome, how nice, pleasant, polite, interesting… and I laugh and say yes, he grew up in spite of me. There may not be another mom in existence as hard on herself as I am but honestly? I truly believe this. While my parents were alive (and we were on speaking terms) they were the ones to go to my son’s plays, pageants and parents’ days. Oh I always went to the teacher’s meetings but I missed all the fun stuff. My dad was good about taking pictures but it’s not the same.

So my son’s life growing up was not unlike mine. My mom enjoyed DAR, junior league, bridge club, garden club, book club and filled her free time with golf. My dad commuted from NC to NY Sunday nights and was gone all week. Usually once a year they took a trip out of the country and as a family we did spend a week at the beach.

Carbon copy for me, only for all their activity I substituted all those jobs.

You miss so much when you are trying to fill someone else’s shoes. I wanted very much to please my parents. Finding that this would never happen I became disillusioned, right in the middle of raising this precious child of mine. It’s amazing how sons and daughters think their moms and dads are heroes.

Until they don’t.

When my son went to college everything changed. He needed me for… nothing. He had his own car, knew what he wanted to study, even had an (only one) episode of trouble his freshman year like everyone does and got through it without me. I think there is nothing so awful for a parent to discover….. that their child no longer needs them. Maybe never did.

But there it was. Even his breakups he didn’t need me. He gets through everything without me. So when he said he wanted to come here for Christmas this year I truly did not get it. Why are they coming? To make fun? Out of a sense of obligation? Sweep me in a collective family visit dustpan? He feels guilty for some obscure reason? I honestly have no idea. The dynamic now, between him, his dad’s family (not unhostile towards me), his girlfriend (with whom I have never established a connection) is total disharmony. So I think I must be something to be checked off the list.

I even went so far as to try and make this dinner fun, texting my son to tell me what they might like for dinner. They got a pretty good laugh because he came back with complete un-festive things, off-hand, non-special ideas. So I texted back and asked about vegetables.

Nothing. No response.

I have no idea where they are even staying.

Makes me want to just scream at them: “Why are you even coming here??”

But then I’d look totally nuts. And his girlfriend is a social worker. Wouldn’t want her having me put away.

Wish me luck. No idea how this is gonna fly.

Any ideas??

Grey areas

Christmas Day 2015, its celebration, is now a memory. We hope to carry what Christmas Day is and means, as Charles Dickens said, “all throughout the year”.  My anticipation of this day was heightened by the arrival of my son and his live-in. It would be so easy to say I discount her because she is never going to measure up because no one is as good as my perfect son deserves. That is what most misconceptions are of a mother’s thoughts of her son’s love-interest.

In my case I hope against hope each time that this will be the time this young woman has a light dancing in her eyes indicating she clearly understands how hard this is for both of us. She knows since we both love and adore my son/her boyfriend this will all work itself out, that there are comedies of error around every sticky and difficult situation.

Not this year.

She smiled a bit more at the outset of the visit but as we saw more of each other rather than become warmer and friendlier she became quieter and more distanced. Yes, we have differences of opinion but isn’t that normal?? Yes, she is 28-29 (? I really don’t have a clue, just know she is over 25) and I am some 30 or 40 years her senior, but should that daunt anyone? I truly want to like this girl, to embrace her as a healthy dimension to my son’s life but cannot seem to break down the walls. Whether or not he put them up or she or both did I may never know. I just know that they are there and if I cannot melt their iciness with warmth then it is they who must do the work. Or not.

My sister-in-law chided me that she sees a great fondness for my son from his girlfriend. She also reminded me of what I already well know, that her parents adore him. They have comfortably enfolded him into their routines. I know all of this. Easier for them to have a relationship with him in that they all live in the same city while I am 5 states away.  Sunday night dinners. Visits back and forth.  All I can do is try my best to somehow find a way to fit into their lives. Unless my son decides to cut me out of his life entirely which I recently mentioned to a friend I hope to find some way to be in this picture without having to completely deny who I am.  I am industrious and resourceful enough to manage should there not be a place for me but the sadness will be overwhelming!

I’ll survive, black, white or grey, one way or another.