June 30, 2011

Life GPS

I asked Kevin what my worst habit is . . . and he rattled off some nonsense like, "Well, I'd tell you . . . but you'd just tune me out halfway through."

So I asked his sister, who stated that I think everybody has a milk allergy. (I do NOT think everybody has a milk allergy. I think SHE has a milk allergy and you probably do too.)

Anyway, I feel like I'm always trying to make big permanent changes for myself that never really stick. Probably because I don't LIKE making big permanent changes that aren't really fun. I like chocolate, I love my sarcastic humor, biting my cuticles is comforting, I hate balancing the checkbook, etc., etc., etc.

So, in honor of my 50th birthday (in 27 months), I have made a list of 27 bad habits to tackle. (Just finding 27 negatives about ME was challenging enough. I'll easily admit to 3, but the other 24 were fabricated to make me seem humble for now, and to seem disciplined later. I'm just sayin'.) Where was I? Oh yeah, tackling negative behaviors. One a month. Nothing crazy like the couple who decided to go 'trash-free' for a year, and nothing drastic like my camp friend Danny who is doing nine 40-day fasts this year. (Though I SO ADMIRE both ot these!) Just 27 simple changes to make the 50-something me a slightly improved version of the 40-something me, disregarding the addition of gray hair, wrinkles and failing eyesight.

In the last couple of years I have gotten into the habit of eating out, like ALL the TIME. Picking up lunch rather than packing a little brown bag, grabbing dinner before I go home, especially when the cowboy works nights, because it seems like such a waste to cook for just one or two.

So July's Challenge: Stop eating out. I have 3 'lunch dates' and one birthday sushi celebration on my to-do list for July. I'm allowing myself those four events and that's it.

Now . . . if you want to take ME out to lunch . . . we'll go in August. :)

June 19, 2011

who, me?

When I started blogging four years ago, I didn’t think twice about the title. “Who, me?” - mischief and ignorance and identity crisis all rolled into two well-punctuated words.

See, I don’t know where I'm going. At 16 that’s not such a problem - so much time and so many opportunities. At 28 it’s time to get serious, but sometimes it takes awhile to “find yourself” and your direction. At 47, well . . . “Who, Me?” just means I'm wandering. And frankly, I've been in the forest without breadcrumbs for far too long.

Since I was 22, I’ve been ‘Mom’. It was not a role I planned or even wanted, but once I realized it was fact, I threw myself into it 100%. Natural childbirth, parenting books, Mothering magazine, 24/7 MOM. I BECAME Mom, and I loved every second of it. Every step I took was intentional. But now, my baby girl has her own baby girl, and my baby boy turned 18 and is preparing to leave for college in 57 days (yes, he is counting), and I find . . . I don’t know which direction to turn.

Part of this identity crisis is that for 25 years, I have read Where the Wild Things Are and biology textbooks and Little House on the Prairie and How to Talk to Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk (note to parents: still one of THE best parenting books ever written.). And I have taught classes and chaperoned field trips and hosted teen events and run children's programs and homeschooled. I have chauffered my kids to baseball and gymnastics and scouts and play practice and choir. I have spent a year of my life being chauffered BY my kids as they each learned how to drive. I have rewatched every movie I have ever loved, reread every book I have ever loved, retold every story that was important to me, so my kids would have an appreciation for the things I love.

Now it’s over, and I have no regrets with them. Okay, I have a FEW regrets - the Beanie Baby craze being at the top of that list, followed closely by the one time I yelled at Kevin in 1998. But I have mothered them well.

However, my job is being phased out. I am being “let go”.

It’s time to find out where to go from here.

Can somebody tell me where to buy a Life GPS?

June 13, 2011

q-tips and quiet, clones and comic relief

(the best of kevie-poo)

I never thought I would enjoy the boy as much as I enjoyed the girl. I am NOT one of those moms who plays favorites, who chooses to love one more than the other. And though sometimes you can hear me say, "Kevin is my favorite, but I love Kacey more," I could just as easily flip-flop that statement and never realize it.

I never wanted a boy. You've heard me say that before, but it's true. Having been the oldest of two girls, and then myself giving birth to a daughter, the idea of a boy was foreign. Especially the idea of raising a boy. So when my order for a second female offspring turned out to be on permanent backorder, I was a bit bummed. But you have also heard me say how God knew what I needed better than I did, and how much comic-relief and unconditional love the little man brought into my life.

Still . . . when my daughter-clone left for college, leaving boy junior behind, I couldn't imagine a relationship with him like the one she and I have. Which is good. Because if I had the expectation of shoe shopping, late-night girl talks, and sharing a love of all things sparkly, I would have been sorely disappointed. However, a love of great music, action movies, sushi rolls and a myriad of quirky little inside jokes keeps this mother/son duo pretty tight.

We don't have those late-night "talks", you know, because of the whole XY chromosome thing, but he does share with me, in detail, the latest goofy thing one of his friends did, or every single play of the last football game, or each hi-def detail of whatever video game happens to be the flavor of the month. Sometimes I even find out the big stuff that goes on in his brain, though it usually takes him about a month to get around to the really important topics. But he is sweet, he does little things to brighten my days, and he works hard to never hurt my sometimes way-too-fragile feelings. (Although there was THAT incident at McAlister's . . . but that's another blog altogether.)* All in all, he seems to tolerate my existence in his life and on his facebook with minimal disdain, and what more could a mom ask for, really?

So, the other day I was working at my desk and glancing at him from time to time as he sat four feet away at his laptop, doing school. (Why is it homeschoolers always say, "doing school?" Anyway. . . ) After a few minutes, he loaded his 67-pound AP Biology book onto the furniture dolly and headed down the hall to an empty classroom. He has done this for about 3 years now, this going down the hall thing, whenever he has needed room to "spread out and study".

But that was before . . . I remodeled my office. That was before . . . when he had virtually no desk space of his own. That was before . . . he had an entire table to himself. Now I had to wonder . . . why is he still "speading out" on the table in the empty classroom down the hall? There is absolutely nothing in that room but a table and a dozen chairs. It is hotter in the summer and colder in the winter. It has those evil retina-destroying fluorescent lights. Plus, it's quiet. Too quiet.

So I asked him why. "Why?" I asked him.

He shrugged it off as just a preference, merely a change of pace, "think of it as changing classes, if you will," he implied.

This answer did not satisfy me. Not with a perfectly good table sitting empty before me, just screaming for something to be dissected or depolarized or dehydrated on it. So I kept asking, why? Every day he would drag those enormous textbooks down the hall. Every day he risked herniating something, and every day I would ask again, "Why?"

Finally, one day, the truth came out. The truth he feared would hurt his mother's feelings.


Seems that mommy talks to herself. A lot. Seems that every time she talks to herself, or hums a little song, or argues with her hard drive, he thinks she is talking to him. Seems that sometimes she even answers herself, and it is just more than this man-child can handle while trying to concentrate on peroxisomes and eukaryotic cells.

Therein lies the difference between sons and daughters. The girl could have worked there just fine. She could have hummed along with me, played "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon", and still memorized the periodic table of elements (though why anyone needs to know there are seven stable isotopes of mercury, is beyond me). But not so the boy. He has been quietly leaving the room for 3 years just to avoid hurting my feelings and telling me that when I talk to myself it drives him crazy enough to want to "sneak into my room at night and stick Q-tips up my nose."

If that's not the basis for a great mother-son relationship, I don't know what is.

(from Sept 09)

* The "Incident at McAllister's" refers to us throwing straw wrappers at each other. I threw one that landed IN his ear. He gave me a "WHAT THE??" look and I merely commented that it was easy - his ears being the largest target on his body. He proceeded to wad up a straw wrapper and throw it directly at my backside, implying exactly what you think he was implying.