" I feel I am very sane about how crazy I am." -Carrie Fisher
"Own your Crazy." -Kim

Thursday, September 11, 2014

When is it Time for Funny?

I'm not sure when the right time is for funny. I am an amateur comedian at best. In light of the death of Joan Rivers, I realize that funny can happen fast. In fact, Joan would encourage funny to happen fast. It probably happened much faster than her daughter Melissa was ready for, but she knew her mom. Joan would have wanted funny fast.

In my family, my immediate family, the one I grew up with, funny is important. If you are going to sit down with my dad, my brother, and I you better be prepared to keep up. There is a sarcasm and quick wit that runs through our blood.

My grandmother passed away in her 94th year. She was 93. We never say 93. I always say, "in her 94th year." I am both mocking her and paying tribute to her when I say, "94th year." It is a long story, but it is definitely important to note that is important she get credit for the 94th year.

At my grandmother's funeral, my brother was late. He was young, in his 24th year, and had zero concept of time or responsibility. I was old, in my 34th year, pregnant with child number three and had so much responsibility it was choking me. I was peeved at his tardiness.

Fashion and style were important to my grandmother. I have lived in the shadow of that expectation my whole life. She passed it on to her daughters, and they have passed it on to their only daughter and niece. At heart, I just may be someone that could live happily in sweats and leggings and a big fleece shirt. It is her legacy that forces me through the doors of Gap, White House Black Market, and Ann Taylor each season to "get it done" so to speak.

My mother is a fashionista. She has style. Naomi is 71, looks 50 and with grace dresses like she is 40. She was about 60 at the time of my granmother's passing, had the body of a 30 year old and was in a word, "hot." She wore leather to the funeral. She looked good.

I was prickly with my brother for being late. Until...he leaned over the pew at the church and in the middle of the service whispered in my ear, "I didn't know we were wearing costumes. Why didn't anyone tell me mom was coming as cat woman." And just like that, all was forgiven.

There is a 9/11 story I never tell. It never seems like the right time. It never seems like the right thing to do. But it is funny. It was the first funny. It was told to me about 8 that evening. And I laughed. I laughed for the first time in about 10 hours, and for me that is a really long time without laughter.

My friend Mary and I were very close. Taught together, pregnant together, similar lives. Her daughter Annie was 5 on the day of 9/11. She probably sat on the couch all day. She probably heard her mother tell our story on the phone about 100 times. She had it down cold.

The brief version of what she heard goes something like this:
Corey was in New York
Corey was in the World Trade Center
Corey was there for  Morgan Stanley training
Corey was on a break during the morning session
Corey was in the bathroom and when he came out and everyone was running
Corey never looked back and ran down 50+ flights of stairs and out the building to safety.

At five o'clock on the evening of 9/11, after hearing the above ALL day, with the news probably on the tv ALL DAY, and being left to her own devices ALL day....Annie had a friend over. And the friend asked, "what happened." And Annie said,

"Oh, our friend Corey was in New York...for bathroom training and....."

The rest doesn't matter because, I laughed. At bathroom training, I laughed. Long and hard and with total sincerity, I laughed.

I don't know when the right time for funny is. But I love that story, and today, on year 13, inspired by Joan Rivers, it seemed like the right time to tell it. You have heard all my deep thoughts on this subject, today, for me, it was time to share the laugh. Be inspired to be better, be inspired to be strong, be inspired to love, be inspired to care, but always laugh when you can. You need the laugh to get you through the moments where you never think you will again.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Never, NEVER, Say Never...

At times in your life you have a good friend that you meet through your children, and you experience life moments or milestones with them that you don't forget. My friend Robbin and I have experienced summer swim team together for many years. Our years at the pool have changed as our children grow, and each year has different stages and characteristics attached to it. It is our early years at the pool that I have been reflecting on lately. Our children are the same ages, both of us having multiple children (3 for her, 4 for me) and both of us having a younger child that kept us in the baby/toddler stage a couple of years past our tolerance for it perhaps.

The early years we shared at swim team were probably best titled, "The Drudgery Years." Those years when you are lugging a ton of crap to the pool, the kids are too little to help out, someone is always whining, someone is always at the baby pool (which is fenced off from the rest of society and slightly alienating by nature), and it was demanding both physically and mentally to get there every day. I was always grateful for her presence there and the small bit of adult conversation we were able to have in the midst of the drudgery. 

These days our children are older, independent teens and our younger children out of the baby pool and somewhat self sufficient. We have become the mothers we used to stare at longingly from inside the baby pool fence. We are able to drop off at swim practice and run errands,  go work out while they practice, or not even show up and have an older child drive them. We see each other in passing, we wave from our cars, and our time together is fleeting compared to our daily hours together in those early years.

In fact, my life has changed so much that this summer I didn't even make it to the first two meets. My mother handled meet number one while I was on a real vacation with just my husband, and my husband handled meet number two while I was on my annual girls' weekend. It was actually sad for me when I missed the second meet and my husband had to send me pictures and updates. These days swim meets and banquets are where Robbin and tend to have our time to catch up, and I haven't been there so we are behind this summer in a really big way.  Last week she caught me in the parking lot. We were laughing at her first sentence.

She wanted to tell me what a beautiful swimmer Paige was. This shouldn't make us laugh, but it does. We laugh because we share the history and evolution that is Paige and swimming. And, if you follow my blog, you share the history of Paige and swim as well. During the drudgery years I wrote a blog about it. After laughing in the parking lot, I reread my blog on Paige and swim. It is one of my favorites, and I will repost with this one for those that are new readers and may need the history to appreciate the update. Upon the reread, I was reminded that we learn the best lessons from our children and our parenting of them. The title of the post was, Never Say Never, my parenting motto. And after rereading I realized, once again, that when I forget that motto...it bites me in the ass...always! Even when I least expect it. Even when it doesn't seem even remotely possible that I could be wrong. Always where Paige is concerned.

This weekend I made it to my first summer swim meet. Paige basically took first in backstroke, first in her A team relay, and second or third in everything else. I knew this going in because I had heard about it from everyone even though I hadn't seen it live. Hearing it, and seeing it are two completely different things. I stood humbled as I watched this beautiful girl swim to victory and success. Now, I cried a little instead of laughed. She is perfection in the water.

I wish I had two things to go with this blog. I will do my best to give you the visual in words because one of these things I don't possess, and the second I probably can't figure out how to attach.

Number one: A photo of 7 year old Paige. Seven year old Paige forced to be on a swim team with older sisters who swim easily, well, and with confidence. Seven year old Paige in goggles that are two tight for her face and pinch in her eyes, but she deems necessary so that NO water gets near her eyes in any way. Seven year old Paige in her flippers walking the perimeter of the pool (with the tight goggles still on). A slow, purposeful, exaggerated, high lifting walk intent on just making it too her spot. Seven year old Paige smiling at our tent on Sunday of championship weekend, a day that in her own words goes like this, "Is Sunday the day I get to sit and read and play games while my sisters swim? I love Sunday!" Seven year old Paige never once complaining about her hatred of it all. Seven year old Paige determined to make it through.(I know Robbin has this visual locked in).

 Number two: Video of 12 year old Paige swimming to first place with the ease, grace,and confidence that true swimmers have.(Robbin's idea)

Somewhere between my blog of 7 year old Paige and 12 year old Paige, a swimmer was born. I wrote in that last blog something along the lines of, "...and while she may never be an Olympic swimmer..."  I remember thinking at the time that I was so proud of her, but that we would probably quit swim about this time. Drop summer swim and swimming all together when high school started. Because it was OBVIOUS she would never want to continue, or excel at it.

Paige has requested to swim year round after summer swim. She wants be ready to swim in high school in a year. Summer swim championships are next weekend. Paige will swim on finals day..Sunday, multiple times.

Please note the capitalization in the second never in the title of this piece. I stand corrected. I am humbled I was wrong...in every way.

I think I will end the blog in this way...please look for Paige in the Summer Olympics 2020! Never say never...

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Entitled



This is what I know about parenting...it is difficult. There are moments of great success and then those damn kids turn on you and there are such lows you think you will never climb back out of them. I also know that with four kids, enjoying the moments of their success is fleeting because you are really just jumping from one kid's low to the next. All while they yell, say, demand, ask, whisper, sign, smoke signal the words...mom, mommy, mother, mama. They never yell for dad, even when he is standing right there.

Nicole is leaving for college in August. When I started this blog she was starting high school. I am busy this weekend getting off announcements, cleaning my crack-like house for a party, and shuffling children to sporting events. Same old, same old. I am not going to lie. Nicole has been an easy kid to get to college. Maybe she is setting me up for a ridiculous fall into disaster when she gets there, but she has been easy. She did the hard work, she got in to the college she wanted, she had back up choices in case it didn't happen, and blah...blah...blah...she has been easy. That being said, she can also be very entitled.

I am not sure how this happened. I think some of it comes naturally to children living in suburbia in the year 2014. I think some of it is innately part of her personality, and I think some of it is our fault as parents, because in many ways she has lived a life of, in my humble opinion, great privilege. She has a car. It is our old Navigator. To be fair she loves it. She was happy to get it, embraces the odd awkwardness of it's size, smiles at it's squeaks and creaks, and never once has asked or insinuated a new car would be nice. Our driveway is often seen with a BMW, or convertible this or that when her friends come over, and Nicole always happily jumps in her old SUV and drives off. She also has a job. A good job. She does parties and camps at the local gymnastics place. Great hours, good pay, nice boss and she has a great work ethic. Super proud of all this. She has been diligently saving for months so that she can help pay for sorority costs at college next year.

Two weeks ago she had a fender/bender in the school parking lot. Her fault. And here is where the entitled aspect of her personality comes roaring in. It bothered her so little, or she found it so unimportant, that she did not tell us for two days. When it did come up, she was very dismissive of the whole thing. Rather nonchalant. As though it was no big deal. "Not really any damage," says she "But,oh by the way I gave him my insurance information and now he is calling me. Can dad talk to his dad?"

 As it turns out it was a big deal and there WAS some damage. To the tune of about $800.00. She was still very dismissive. And here is a synopsis of what followed and was revisited several times over several days

-Oh, great, insurance can pay for that.
-Ummmm...No, you will pay for that.
-What? I can't pay for that.
-Ummm, yes you can. You have the money in your account.
-Yes, but I have been working really hard for that.
-Thank goodness you have, now you have the money to take care of it instead of having a payment plan with this guy
-When my friends wrecked cars they got new ones and insurance paid for that
-Hmmm? Well, in this house you are writing a check and paying for the damage
-This is very unfair. Why can't you pay for it?
-We did not hit his back bumper
-Why can't insurance pay for it and so on and so on and so on... Exhausting

In the end he paid the man. She was a humble Tigger, a quiet Tigger. And a Tigger that pulls out of our driveway and cul de sac at a much, more cautious pace. I am sure the lesson is learned, for the moment. As I write this I am reminded of my high school car accident. Where in reality, I did not pay for the damages, my father did. I am reminded that there is an extreme amount of hypocrisy in my parenting (some of which I have touched upon in an earlier blog). I am reminded that what I first said is true.

Parenting is difficult. Raising good children is difficult, having them take responsibility is difficult, and here's the thing...sometimes parents aren't honest about how difficult that is. This blog is all about my honesty. I am big on calling a spade a spade. An idiom I guess. I am not even sure of it's origin.