Tag Archives: motherhood

Getting To Graduation Day Only Slightly Unhinged

I started “writing” this blog (thanks to voice to text on my cell phone) while driving back from Tallahassee yesterday. And before anyone starts accusing me of improper use of a vehicle, I promise both hands remained on the wheel and both eyes on the road the entire time.

Trust me, it was much safer than having me rocking it out at the top of my lungs to 70s and 80s music with some occasional Broadway tunes through in for good measure since I can easily get lost in the lyrics.happy-quotes-1753-520x245

Anyway, I was there for a few days while my daughter was filming her senior thesis at FSU, just a few days after my son graduated from high school and less than a week after returning from the experience I shared in my previous blog about Camp Jenny.

Yeah, it has been a crazy busy time.

I had actually been thinking about this week’s blog ever since the curtain rose at Ruth Eckerd Hall last Thursday evening while “Pomp and Circumstance” was played by the high school band and 178 boys young men sat on the stage in their tuxedos (they wore the traditional cap and gown the night before at the Baccalaureate service at school)

…in perfectly lined up rows

…hands strategically placed on top of each of their thighs

…looking straight out at the filled to capacity audience comprised of family, friends and faculty (by the way, my husband did lose the bet about how filled it would get…when will he learn?)

…with the most serious of expressions on every one of their faces

So, call me crazy but… I am getting chills sitting here now thinking about it. It was such a dramatic sight. Everyone gasped and then erupted into applause and a lot of cheering.

I was there with my husband, father, sister and brother in law. And we are admittedly a somewhat cynical and sarcastic bunch (I know shocking). But that moment? Seriously, it took our breath away.

Sadly, my daughter missed it. She started production earlier that day. Truth be told, I didn’t know I should have been prepared to videotape the moment.

Well, that’s not really true.

As a parent, I should always be ready. And with the release of Periscope for  Android last week, I definitely had no excuse and should have streamed it live for not only her but also for my brother and his family out in California.

That, of course, would have required me to know that Periscope for Android had been released.

Sigh…

I did manage to get a photo, albeit a very blurry one, of the scene and immediately sent it to my daughter. The school’s photographer, thankfully, got a much better shot that will go where all other photos go these days…into my Google Photos account hoping to make it into a to be created online album.jesuit graduation

Source: Jesuittampa.com

 My son is in the second row from the top on the left, first seat off the middle aisle. Fortunately I found that out prior to the ceremony or I would have spent the entire time looking for him.

Then again, they were sitting in alphabetical order, but I probably wouldn’t have thought of that until after I spent the entire time looking for him.

Did I mention it has been a crazy busy few weeks?

To say I am proud of my son may seem like a given, however, I need to say it just the same. Yes, he graduated Cum Laude (which was revealed in the program that night and, of course, I cried) and he has been a real team player on various soccer teams for the past 14 years, but my pride goes well beyond his academic and athletic accomplishments.

Simply put, he’s a good kid. He wasn’t too happy that I had him stand outside in his tuxedo when it was 90+ degrees so we could get this photo. One day he’ll thank me or at least that is what I choose to believe.me and nathan

Some may say he didn’t start out such a “good” kid at birth. He came out screaming and really didn’t stop for the first 3 or 4 years of his life. I am talking ear piercing, never ending stuff.

You know it’s bad when even the grandparents don’t want to be around.

He was, though (in my opinon) a really cute baby… 10

But that screaming?

Painful.

He also didn’t sleep, eat and, forgive me if it may seem like “TMI”, poop. I mean he did a little of each, but not nearly enough of what the average baby was supposed to do.

As a result, I never ate, I never slept and well the third thing…use your imagination. Suffice to say, I became slightly unhinged (by my definition) and it certainly didn’t help an already troubled marriage.

We took him to every specialist in town and while we were grateful there was nothing seriously wrong with him from a physiological standpoint…or at least not via an official diagnosis…it was, nevertheless, a very emotionally draining situation.

Come on moms with difficult children, fess up! You know you relate to this…c09f5d03d153650c1c7614c8bdb71126One close friend who happens to be a pediatric development specialist told us at the time that some kids have a “kink in their hard wiring” when they are born and it just takes a few years to work it out of their system.

Ummmmm…that was all fine and wonderful to hear but going through those years???

OMG!

She was, of course, right because he is now capable of sleeping until mid-afternoon, eating more than his body weight on any given day (or so it seems) and, well, again use your imagination about the third issue.

We never really know what we are going to get when we make the decision to bring a living, breathing human being into the world. I’ve had friends and family who have breezed through the childhood years while others have dealt with everything from some typical teenage rebellion and minor learning disabilities to autism, cancer, mental illness, drug and/or alcohol addiction and even the random, unexpected and extremely tragic death of their child.

So if it meant no sleeping, eating plus that third thing and ultimately going through a divorce to come out on the other side and sit in a room of almost 2000 people knowing I have a healthy, smart, well adjusted, all around good kid heading off to college in a few weeks, ok then so be it.

One final thing, I realize it is unlikely my ex-husband will read this but I still need to put it out there that I am very grateful that he provided Nathan the opportunity to attend a private high school. I do believe it has and will continue to pay off even if he insisted on sticking out his tongue in graduation pictures.20150527_212544 (1)

I guess boys will always be boys.

That’s it for now…#BlackerOut

 

 

 

 

 

33 Comments

Filed under Call Me Crazy, Motherhood, Parenting

The History of Mother’s Day: A Day For Sentiment…And Smiles

As happens every year, April showers have made way for May flowers…or at least that is what I experienced this past weekend while in New York City where tulips, daffodils, lilacs and irises were everywhere.

Springtime in NYC

Signs of spring in NYC with tulips lining Park Avenue (left) and daffodils making their appearance at the Saturday Union Square Farmer’s Market (right)

 

And the trees…OMG…blooming in all their glory!

In front of The Plaza Hotel across from Central Park at 59th Street (left) and outside the brand new Whitney Museum in the Meatpacking District

In front of The Plaza Hotel across from Central Park at 59th Street (left) and outside the brand new Whitney Museum in the Meatpacking District

In Florida, however, not so many signs of spring.

So call me crazy but…I always assumed that the proliferation of flowers elsewhere may, in fact, have been the reason why America’s version of Mother’s Day was chosen for this particular month.  With the day we honor all maternal figures rapidly approaching this Sunday, I took it upon myself to check the origins via my good friend Google and suddenly found myself reading a very different history than I had imagined.

It appears our modern day version started as a result of Ann Reeves Jarvis. A social activist from a young age, she was the founder of the Mothers Day Work Clubs around the time of the Civil War. The goal of these local clubs was to help promote better health and sanitation, but also to demonstrate the value of mothers to our society beyond the traditional domestic stereotypes. Eventually, Ann began to dream of a way for our country to better honor all mothers as their role was rapidly changing.

Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis (1832-1905)

Ann passed away in 1905 and her daughter, Anna Jarvis, an extremely community driven woman in her own right, decided to fulfill her mother’s dream. With the help of many friends and activists she started a letter writing campaign  to establish a holiday to recognize the importance of motherhood. The first official Mothers’ Day ceremony took place in her hometown of Grafton, West Virginia on May 9, 1908, three years to the day after Ann’s death. At the service, Anna presented all of the mothers with a white carnation, her mother’s favorite flower, still to this day considered the symbolic flower of the holiday.

It took a few more years and a lot of letters until, one by one, every state began celebrating some form of a Mother’s Day. And on May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed Proclamation 1268, creating a national holiday on the second Sunday in May.

“The history of the day has its roots in honoring the broader networks, social ties, and political concerns of women. The day is about women’s commitment to the past, present, and future at both the personal and political levels. It honors women who have acted not only on behalf of their own children but also on behalf of an entire future generation.” (Source: Legacyproject.org)

By the 1920s, however, Anna had watched how commercialized it became and actually spent the rest of her life denouncing the holiday.

A Day Of Sentiment

Despite her profound disgust for what she started, she was labeled the Mother of Mother’s Day and until she died in 1948 her room at the nursing home where she lived was always filled on Mother’s Day with cards and flowers from around the country.

Anna Jarvis (Source: Wikipedia)

FYI…don’t ever underestimate the importance of punctuation. The original holiday was Mothers’ Day with the apostrophe being after the “s”. Why? So the emphasis would be on all women’s social and political activities.  Officials, of course, messed it up by changing the placement between the “r” and “s” and thereby forever making it a holiday about one’s own particular mother.

For me,  Mother’s Day has been rather bittersweet in recent years. Many of you know that my own mother passed away on May 10, 2005, two days after we attempted to celebrate the holiday in her hospital room in Little Rock where she had recently received her second stem cell transplant to help curb her incurable Multiple Myeloma. She actually had been cleared to go home the week before but took an unexpected turn for the worse.

Sadly, Mother’s Day began to leave me with a very heavy heart. I don’t know if I would feel the same way had she died at any other time of the year, but like Anna Jarvis 100+ years ago, I needed to do something to make sure my mother would always be remembered.

A simple email (my version, I suppose, of a letter writing campaign) on May 10, 2006 to family and friends asking them to take a moment during the day to have a cookie and smile (she was an incredible baker and made amazing chocolate chip cookies) led to an annual “event” of sorts selling her cookies to raise money for various cancer charities. If you don’t know the story, feel free to read a blog I wrote three years ago, in her memory as well as in honor of my first Mother’s Day after starting my baked goods company, tcP! Sweets.

While I no longer have that business, I still have daily reminders of my mother and the incredible role model she was for me beyond the four walls of our home growing up and through my adult years before her death.  After all, she came from incredible stock…my grandmother and great-grandmother were also very strong and fiercely independent women.

My mother (center) at her Sweet Sixteen with my grandmother (left) and great-grandmother (right). I may be a little biased but she was so beautiful.

My great-grandmother, Helen, actually ran away from her home in Czechoslovakia when she was 12 and took a ship to the U.S. by herself. Her family managed to get her back to their village until she was 14, only for her to run away again.

Did I mention she was fierce??  

It seems her parents figured out she was determined and decided to let her settle in Detroit where she ultimately met my great-grandfather and the rest, as they say, is history. Clearly, had she never left Eastern Europe, the chances of her surviving the Holocaust years later would have been slim…talk about rewriting history, right?

I wish I could rewrite what happened to my mother. Instead, I will continue to keep her memory alive the best way I know how especially by having a cookie on Mother’s Day, possibly for breakfast, since that’s what happened last year when my son and I went to visit my daughter at college and neither one of them, of course, made it out of bed before noon.

Photo

Mother’s Day morning 2014…Yep, that would be my son sleeping in the background.

This year, I’ll be in Tampa. No idea what the plan is yet (giant hint there for my husband and son to figure something out), but regardless of whether I have the cookie for breakfast, lunch, dinner or anytime in between, I guarantee it will be with a big smile on my face.

You know what else would bring a smile to my face? If you would consider voting for my dog, Gavin. He (whether he realizes it or not) is competing for the Dogs With Purpose Calendar Contest.  Since I am not doing any baking this year to raise money for any cancer charities that I’ve helped in the past, I figured I would put Gavin’s sweet face to work for me…1507781_10152567157693226_3598771262779493801_n

Come on, a vote is only a buck…cheaper than a cookie or cup of coffee!!!! And you will be helping Women With Purpose, an amazing non-profit helping cancer patients with their non-medical financial needs.

That’s it for now…wishing all the moms out there a wonderful day filled with love and life on Sunday…#BlackerOut !

 

56 Comments

Filed under Call Me Crazy, Holidays, Motherhood

#ProudMama Moment … Score One For Higher Education !

Anyone who knows me, knows I have never been one of those moms that brags a lot about my kids, hovers over them like a helicopter or tell them “It’s ok, Mommy will take care of it.”

And I am admittedly a terrible soccer mom…seriously, after a dozen years of watching on the sidelines I still don’t understand when they get a corner vs. goal kick.. Inevitably whenever one of my kids scored or made a really great play I was talking to the mom or dad next to me.

But I ALWAYS remembered to turn the beaters off before letting my kids lick them…score one point for me!

food-quotes-from-pinterest-2

Anyways, I am a realist and while I certainly wanted my kids to be kids and feel like the world could be at times simply filled with thoughts of rainbows and unicorns, I tried very hard throughout their “formative” years to teach them they were absolutely going to have to suffer through some skinned knees…literally and figuratively.  And trust me, I have, dare I say, “suffered” through the tears and fears right along side them.

But we all have managed to get to the point where my now 21 year old daughter and almost 18 year old son, are just fine. Well, at least by my definition of “fine”.

So call me crazy but when my daughter, now a junior in the Florida State Film School program, tells me that her documentary from last year, Earning Jenny, has won an award for editing at this past weekend’s Black Warrior Film Festival  at The University of Alabama, I’m very proud.

Proud Mama Alert

Couple the award with the fact that the documentary was featured last night at the National Federation of Temple Youth’s (NFTY) Biennial Conference  in Atlanta, I am literally gushing.  You see, I have history with the NFTY program so this is kind of a sentimental thing for me too. I was very involved as a high school teenager through my synagogue in Metro-Detroit and the experiences I had definitely helped shape..all religion aside…the person I am today.

When my daughter was in high school, she too became very involved in her temple youth group which included going to Camp Jenny 3 out of the 4 years of high school plus the past few years while in college. So yes, I’m proud that she took her experiences and turned them into something even bigger while in college.

It is, in my opinion (albeit a very motherly one) an awesome documentary about the Camp Jenny program, established in 1988, which provides 150 kindergarten through 5th grade students from the F.L. Stanton Elementary School in Atlanta the opportunity to literally earn throughout the school year 4 days of a camp experience at the URJ Camp Coleman property in the northern Georgia mountains every Memorial Day weekend. Some of these kids have never been outside of Atlanta let alone spend a weekend away from their parents. This is a really big deal and the kids work incredibly hard to get one of the very precious spots.

So while some may poo poo the costs vs. benefits of higher education these days, I am going to give it a big THUMBS UP … or at least for my daughter. She has totally earned it and it is my hope all of the children who earn Camp Jenny will go on to earn many more things too.

Earning Jenny on Vimeo

FYI…if you want to watch the video you will need to send me an email to receive the link and password. Sorry it is technically the property of the film school but trust me it is awesome and totally worth the 7 minutes of your time.

That’s all for now…#BlackerOut

29 Comments

Filed under Parenting