Monday, May 12, 2014

Just Keep Swimming...!

Thank you to my friend and neighbor who gave me permission to post this picture of my eldest walking with her eldest. It just seemed like the perfect illustration for sisterly support.

I have a number of friends, many of them at work, who are probably about 10 years younger than me. Their kids are about 10 years younger than mine, and they're definitely hipper than I am, so I'm going to assume my 10-year estimate is accurate. These moms are getting ready to send their oldest kids to Kindergarten for the first time.

Do you remember that feeling? I'd forgotten how scared to death I was as we started our first school adventures. But it all came back to me when I hung out with my friends and found myself in the position of reassuring them that it will actually be really great even when they run into some tough times, because it's actually a cool journey. Is it a scary journey? Hell, yes. Will you think you are totally screwing everything up? Absolutely - just like you did when you brought your kiddo home from the hospital the first time. But MOST of the moments will be really great. And if one particular school situation doesn't work out, don't sweat it. You can change the situation - and I can pretty much guarantee you that your child will suffer no permanent damage.

As I listened to myself imparting these pearls of wisdom (and hopefully not annoying my friends TOO much), I remembered getting the same advice from moms who are about 10 years ahead of me. These same moms are now helping me through the early years of having a daughter in high school as I wonder how to support my kids as they figure out how to know....ADULTS. I'm sort of living vicariously through the "adviser moms" who are 10 years ahead of me on the journey.

It's a neat image - each of us has our spot on the river of motherhood and every once in a while we need to turn around and encourage those moms going through the rapids we already conquered (or at least survived). Just keep swimming, sisters.

Friday, May 9, 2014

50 Things About Momma

My amazing friend Megan posted a link to Laura Lynn Brown's essay Fifty Things About My Mother. Megan said "A good writer makes you want to write." I've been resisting writing as if I'd catch Ebola from picking up a pen - but Megan is an amazing writer, as is Ms. Brown. I am duly inspired. To that end, in honor of my own mom, here are 50 Things About Momma:

1. She has green eyes like my dad. And like me.
2. She always kept my hair short as a kid because I wouldn't let her come near me with a brush in hand.
3. I remember watching her bathe my baby brother. I was only three and the baby tub was up on a cabinet so all I could really see was the sunshine coming through the green plastic and his skinny silhouette, but I was struck by her love for him and that made me feel very loved also.
4. She is a fighter.
5. She fought the Southern Baptist Convention tooth and nail in the 1980's, to the point of staying for the convention even after they canceled her hotel reservations and turned off her microphone when she arose to speak.
6. She only slapped me once. I deserved it that day and plenty of other times as well.
7. She was a really great Girl Scout leader but I think she got annoyed with the grown up politics at play.
8. She always fabulously overdoes Christmas.
9. She made me King Ranch Chicken on the day I graduated from high school.
10. She repeatedly told me, for as long as I could remember, that I should be a writer.
11. She should have been (and wanted to be) a preacher. But that wasn't a viable option in her religion (see #5, above).
12. Barring that, she would have been a brilliant attorney. One of her undergraduate professors told her to apply to law school but she laughed at the idea.
13. I was much too frightened to follow my calling (writing) so I tried to follow one of Momma's callings (the law).
14. In her 50's she went to seminary and blossomed until a chronic medical condition sidelined her dream.
15. She bought her grandchildren so many baby clothes that they often outgrew them before they even had a chance to wear them.
16. She was in the room when both my children came into this world.
17. She was in the room when her dad left this world.
18. When my son was a toddler, she told him bedtime stories about "Prince Dennis." This was a big deal for him.
19. My teenage daughter talks to my mom about a lot of things and wishes she could spend more time with her. She says my Momma really understands her.
20. There's a look I apparently get on my face when I mean business. Kathryn says it's intimidating and calls it my "Marmi Look." I remember it from my own childhood. It always serves its purpose.
21. She reads constantly. I can't even begin to imagine how many books Momma's read.
22. She made almost all of my semi-formals and formals for my high school dances. I still get goosebumps when I remember going to look at the bolts of taffeta and satin at the fabric store with her.
23. There was never any question about whether I would register for everyday and fine china, crystal, and sterling silver flatware when I planned my wedding.
24. I called her multiple times every day during the first 18 months that I was a mother.
25. She nursed me, in 1971, when most mothers went straight to formula.
26. Her favorite flower is the daisy.
27. She refused to say she would obey my dad during her marriage vows (of course, he wanted no part of any such vows anyway...they were a good match and still are).
28. She was a stay-at-home mom until she went to graduate school so she could help teach my brilliant, dyslexic brother when our school district refused to help him.
29. She became a Montessori teacher and a big believer in the system. People clamored for her to tutor their children.
30. She fought hard to support friends who needed her support, but sometimes they let her down.
31. She couldn't wait to be a grandmother.
32. She allowed her hair to go silver naturally.
33. She loves Walt Disney World, and imparted that passion on to me. She also adores college football but failed to pass that passion on to me.
34. Growing up, I knew every word to every single Neil Diamond and Willie Nelson song because of her.
35. On rainy days she encouraged me to go out barefoot and take a "duck walk."
36. For years, she made me fruit crepes for my birthday breakfast...with homemade whipped cream.
37. We always had nice, wrapped gifts for Valentine's Day.
38. She wouldn't let me give up on piano during the time of year I was preparing for "Guild" (performing in front of judges...lots and lots of memorization and work). She always said that if I still wanted to quit after it was over, I could. I never did.
39. She quilts beautifully and we have countless Marmi creations in our home.
40. She teaches Sunday School.
41. She will scream loudly at the TV when football players, coaches, and politicians screw up.
42. She kept the most amazing closet of art supplies in our house when I was little.
43. She helped our cocker spaniel give birth to puppies when I was a little girl.
44. She told me to stop running because I kept breaking my ankles. She said it was time to find a new sport.
45. She also told me to stop running from my past. I'm still working on that one.
46. She didn't like my high school boyfriend and was spot on with her analysis. That always pissed me off at the time. She immediately knew that David was perfect for me. Again - SPOT ON.
47. I'm 97.4% sure Momma knows (or at least suspects) all my secrets. I'm 100% sure she loves me anyway.
48. She wrote to me constantly when I was at college. I recently came across my box of letters and decided that when my kids go off to college I'll do the same thing. I hope they remember to check their mailboxes.
49. She can't stand The Great Gatsby but loves To Kill A Mockingbird.
50. I know that she's thinking of me, or my brother, or one of our spouses or kids right this very second even though I haven't spoken to her yet today.