The fact that I wrote this 2 weeks ago, in my notebook, and didn’t actually post it might mean I shouldn’t ever bother to put it up here. But what the hell?
The last time I wrote here I was throwing up because my job stressed me out so much.
Now I’m ecstatic that I left that job in January and have one that is fulfilling and interesting, but that I can largely forget about when I walk out the door every afternoon.
I think I’m pretty close to having something like that “balance” that everyone talks about.
Now if I can just de-clutter and organize, not to mention decorate, my house top to bottom… drop the large number of pounds I packed on through my recent 24 month Comfort Food Fest… and find a good book to read. Is that too much to ask for? I hope not.
*I’ve given away dozens of pounds of kids clothes, a glider, a play kitchen and two car seats towards this goal in the last week. And I’ve gotten up at 5:15 every weekday to exercise and counted my calories towards the second… progress!!
My mom would tell me that it’s okay that sometimes I get so caught up in work, that I go hours without thinking about the fact that she’s gone. That it’s normal that it’s not until I get in my car to drive home, when I pick up the phone to tell my mom about the latest craziness in my job, that I realize that I can’t call her.
She’d say that it’s NOT okay that I get so caught up in work that I throw up.
She’d tell me that today, 10 years after another very important woman in my life left us, is a day when it’s okay to be a bit of a mess.
My mother died on Monday morning, September 26, 2011. The day before, my brother and I brought our children to her in the in-patient hospice facility. She said she didn’t have much time left and that she wanted to see them all. I stayed with her the night of the 25th. I was awake most of the night, but sometime after 5 am I fell asleep. When I woke up at 7 am she was 3 feet away from me, but she was gone. I hate that I was asleep at the end; I feel like it was weak of me to fall asleep. People keep telling me things like, “She knew you were there and that you were relaxed, so she chose to go.” I don’t actually believe that, but I suppose it could make me feel a little better if I did.
These are the remarks I read at my mother’s memorial service on Sunday, October 2, 2011. My mother’s family, friends and colleagues turned out for the service in numbers larger than I, or she, had ever imagined. There were people there I had never met, some I had only heard about for years. There were also people who had known us for decades, who met my mother in college, who fixed my mom’s car, who caught rides home from our childhood soccer games with my mom. It was an amazing day.
I want to thank all of you for coming today and for being a part of my mother’s life.
I’m going to talk a bit about my mom, what she believed in and how she lived her life according to these beliefs.
I’ve spent hours this week talking to people who knew my mother; her family, her friends, colleagues from work, people she socialized and volunteered with. It occurred to me shortly into these conversations that I was learning something about my mom, not just checking tasks off my To Do List.
You all were sharing the feelings you had for my mother, what you remembered about her, what made her a good friend, worker, sister and niece. You said she was kind, intelligent, fiesty and that she worked constantly to try to make the world around her fair and just for everyone. At first I thought… I know all these things. I know my mother was great; she was absolutely my best friend. I also know that my mother devoted most of her life to me and to my brother.
What struck me is that every person, without exception, said that the most important thing in the world to my mother was her family, and taking care of that family, often alone. It doesn’t surprise me but just struck me how evident that was to everyone outside of our house, to all of you. An old friend of mine, who neither my mother or I have laid eyes on since my high school graduation in 1992, sent me an email this week that said so much, and proved how important she was to everyone around her.
“I know we’ve lost touch but I wanted tyou to know that your mom impacted my life. I didn’t have a strong, independent role model in my life. I was envious of you because you had a great relationship with your mom. You had an incredible mother who pushed you and loved you. I can’t imagine how many lives she impacted.”
Now I can’t imagine how many lives she impacted either.
I realize now that my mother’s only real goals were to take care of us and to ensure that we were healthy, happy, compassionate and kind people. When we grew up and had children she wanted these same things for her grandchildren. I believe she accomplished her goals.
And I believe she left so much more for us, for our kids. I see her in all of us. In the way we look, the way we speak, even the way we read and write. And I hope that I continue to see these things, and to take care of my family the way she took care of us. My mom gave all of us so much, and I wanted to share a couple of ways my daughters showed me that this week.
My 7 year old wrote a story at school called “All About Grandmama.”
I have been feeling sad because my grandmother died over the weekend. She had had breast cancer, treatments and some years when she wasn’t sick. But she got sick again when the breast cancer came back. The medicine (chemo) made her hair fall out so she shaved it and wore cloth around her head.
Some things I liked to do with Grandmama were to read and play games. I would pick out a book in my room and she would read it to me. I liked to hear a lot of the stories, anytime, and at bedtime.
When she came to my house, I also liked to play board games. Checkers and Guess Who? were my favorites. Sometimes my sister played too. One time we made a book about shapes, and I really liked doing that with her.
I really loved Grandmama and I will always remember her.
Oh, and she gave me this awesome book called Bats in the Library.
That honesty about my daughter’s feelings and the illness would have meant a lot to my mom, and making those books with the kids was so very important to her.
Never to be out done by her big sister, my 4 year old drew this picture that shows her impression of her Grandmama. It’s hard for you to see but it’s her Grandmama in the middle, with her family all around her. When she thinks of her Grandmama, she thinks of her as the center of this huge circle of people who make up our family.
I believe that my girls showed me how my mother accomplished her goal of caring for her family before anything else. Whether she intended to be the “center” of the family or not, she was. And the things she taught us will always be central to who we are and who we raise our children to be.
Thank you again for coming and for caring about my mom. She cared for each of you deeply.
There are a lot of things I haven’t gotten around to doing in the past few months and this blog is just one of the casualties of my inattention. But one must prioritize and I’m okay with the things that I’ve let slip recently. A lot has been going on, and there are no signs of a slow down, but I just felt like popping in here. Time to pay attention to the blog a bit, since I’ve been thinking about what else we do or do not pay attention to.
Recently I’ve been thinking that my kids, particularly The Bug who is 7, need to have their perspectives expanded. They need to look beyond their own needs and wants and realize that the world extends to other people and other issues besides how many times they’ve seen this specific “Good Luck Charlie” episode. J. and I have discussed church participation (it’s Unitarian, we can’t get too crazy here) and service projects. I also think just being back at school, being surrounded by more kids and the “community” that is school will help.
But this week I started feeling like maybe I need to be reminded to pay attention to something outside myself too. I know everyone’s been talking about it, and it’s getting old, but the earthquake kind of freaked me out. Not because I was scared when it happened. But because I wasn’t scared. I stood there with J. and The Bug, surrounded by tall brick buildings and did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING while the earth shook for 15 seconds. I didn’t even call The Bean’s daycare to make sure everything was okay there. You would have thought I was from CA and I was used to this! I guess I feel like I should have been quicker thinking, more protective of my family… or something. I tried to redeem myself last night, when I felt a 4.5 aftershock and wandered around the house at 1:15 am checking on things. I’m hoping I don’t get another chance to deal with this, since that might mean some sort of dangerous natural disaster (can you say Hurricane Irene?) but my reaction, or lack thereof, surprised me in looking back on it.
Yesterday The Bean and I had a rare hour alone, after picking her up from daycare and before The Bug was dropped off from a playdate. We walked home from daycare and stopped at the park near our house. She wanted to swing and for me to push her “really high!” I did and she let go of the chains, threw her head back and laughed. She laughed in that way that only little kids do. The way that only pure innocent pleasure can make you laugh. In the way that never fails to make me smile, and yesterday actually made me cry a little. Because I thought, “She hasn’t laughed like that in a long time.” But, certainly, she has. She’s a little kid. Who runs and swims in the pool and plays in the ocean and gets tickled and kissed, all things that make kids laugh.
I realized, it’s not that she hasn’t laughed. It’s that I haven’t heard her laugh. Because I haven’t been paying attention.
It’s time to pay attention.
I read a lot of decorating/organizing/house design blogs. And a common theme on all of them is IKEA! The Swedish warehouse store with fake wood furniture and paper light fixtures is so popular that people drive 8 hours round trip to buy bookcases, cardboard storage boxes and dine on meatballs while their kids play in huge ball pits. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been saying I want to go to Ikea for years and I finally made the 90 minute trip a couple of weeks ago. In my house, we swore off fake wood furniture a few years ago, but I was still afraid I’d go crazy and buy all the cardboard storage boxes. I didn’t go too crazy. Found some great, basic stuff. But my opinion of fake wood furniture was confirmed when I saw pieces in the “showroom” that were falling apart. Anyway, one of the home blogs (the writers of which buy LOTS of things at Ikea) posted this on Facebook recently and I thought it was hilarious. It’s a universal love-hate thing I guess!
In the midst of a federal budget battle that may shut down the government in a few hours, this week actually brought a couple pieces of great political news. At least in my mind.
First, the worst kept secret in politics was finally announced. Tim Kaine is running for the Senate seat being vacated by one term Democratic Senator Jim Webb. I am anxious about this race because the people of this Commonwealth have the chance to elect a great public servant, or a total bumbling idiot. I worry that they may make the wrong choice (it’s not unheard of). But I also think Kaine will run a hell of a campaign and I am looking forward to calling him “Senator” instead of “Governor.”
Kaine’s announcement brought about the second exciting piece of news. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was named Democratic National Chair, replacing Tim Kaine when he left to run. Most of my knowledge of Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz is limited to her appearances on Hardball and her updates on her friend Gabrielle Gifford’s condition after the Tucson shooting. But I think she’s going to be great for the DNC. She’s already proven herself to be a powerhouse of a fundraiser, which is the key duty of the party chair. I’m also glad that she’s breaking into what has long been a “boys’ club” of DNC Chairs. Go Debbie!