Archives for category: Parenting

moms car

For the past year, my daughter and I have been carpooling to work every day. We work a short distance from each other, and until she could figure out the means to buy her own car, this was our only option.

It worked out well, with the exception of our schedules. I work from 9:00 – 4:30. She has two radio shows; one from Noon – 2:00 and another from 4:00 – 6:00. Our usual daily routine was, she accompanied me to work, and sat reading at a local coffee shop until 11:30 or so, and then she’d take the keys and head to her job. At 3:30, we would meet at my office, and I would drive her to the station for her 4:00 show, and then return to my office for the last 45 minutes of my day.

That 3:30 shuffle sucks. The lot I park in for my job is 2 blocks away from my office, which may sound short, but in heat, rain or snow, that walk turns into a tiresome trek. And then, when I’m done at 4:30, I had the pleasure of waiting 1 1/2 hours for daughter to be off work. Most times I would grocery shop, but other times, when money was low, it was harder and harder to find creative ways to pass that time.

A favorite of mine was to spend a half an hour at our local animal shelter petting cats and kittens. Or sometimes I would just walk around the mall and “window” shop. For the most part that hour and a half would go by fast.

An additional burn? Sometimes our boss would let us out early.. like at 2:30 if there was little work to do. Then I’d be stuck in town for hours and hours when I could’ve been home with me feet up in front of Food Network. It also was not convenient for meals. We would not get home until 6:30 or so, and the thought of starting chicken piccata at that late time was a tiresome thought.

For a year I did this. My husband would pitch in when it worked for his schedule, but his schedule is ever changing, whereas ours was set, so most times it was me.

The commute itself would be great. We would usually spend the time talking. Sometimes we played music, but the commute was typically spent discussing a variety of things; upcoming vacations, plans for work; and it was really nice.

It all ended this week. Our children recently came into a small sum of money through the passing of a relative, and my daughter knew…this was the opportunity to buy her own car. She test drove quite a few, but in the end we decided to buy the same make and model as my car, which she was very used to driving.

I’m so happy for her. What a sense of independence this must give her. I remember when I owned my first car…you felt the world could be yours. You could go anywhere. But I’m also happy for me. While I really miss driving with her, it’s really nice to be able to just come home after work.

I’ll can always pet kittens on Saturdays…

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This past weekend my youngest daughter spent the night at a new friend’s house. I asked her to text me the address so I could familiarize myself with how to get to the house. I wrote down the directions, and at the very end wrote the address.

As I drove to pick her up on Saturday morning, with my other daughter as my co-pilot, we arrived at the correct street and went about trying to find the house. From the map I’d looked at, the house appeared to be one or two houses down the street. But the address I’d written down took me to a cute little house a bit further down the road.

It had a blue door and a flag post with the American flag and a US Marine flag flying. I went to the front door and rang the doorbell. A nice older gentleman answered the door, and I said, “Hi, I’m Sasha’s mom.”

He replied, “Well, hello! Won’t you come in?” He called to his wife, who he said was in the kitchen making soup. I exclaimed that I love soup, and I was greeted by a pleasant woman. We shook hands and I said, “I’m Sasha’s mom.”

She looked bewildered and said, “Sasha, Sasha….who would she be?”

My heart sank. I asked her, “please tell me there was a sleepover here last night with your daughter and my daughter.” She laughed and said no.

I was at the wrong fucking house.

I apologized profusely, totally humiliated at having made the error, but they were so nice, and said no apologies needed. I skulked back to my car and admitted my error to my daughter, who couldn’t stop laughing for quite a while. After checking my phone I realized I’d managed to Google Map the correct address, but wrote down an address 10 numbers down the street.

Typical Tracy.

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My 16 year old daughter just experienced her first real Valentines Day. And it’s largely in part to a conversation my husband and I had at the grocery store.

We were checking out, and as I saw a package of crab cakes scan up at $5.99, I turned to my husband and said, “$5.99 for crab cakes?” This started a rather lively conversation with the cashier, a handsome, tall fellow, about the quality of the crab cakes, and whether we should even bother purchasing them.

My husband then asked him if he were working while in college, and he informed us he was a junior at our high school.

This adorable boy is a junior at the same school my sophomore girl attends? So, I asked him if he knew her. When her name sparked no recognition I said, “you might have seen her on ‘In The Know,’” which was the school’s news program.

He said, “Oh, is she blonde?” To which I replied, “yes.”

We paid for our groceries and left, and I thought to myself, why can’t cute guys like that ever show an interest in my daughter? Well, little did I know that this small exchange would lead to my daughter falling head over heels a week later.

Because when we got home I mentioned our conversation with my girl, and asked her if she knew a Chris who was a Junior and worked at the local grocery store. She knew who he was, and the next day at school approached him at lunch to apologize for her crazy parents. Apparently this sparked in interest in young Chris, and they continued to talk the entire week.

The following Saturday, my daughter accompanied me to the store, and Chris happened to be working. He spotted her and immediately shouted out a hello to her with a wave. I did a double take and said to her, “Hey, that’s the guy I was telling you about! Are you friends now?”

She admitted they had been talking, while blushing profusely. By the time we were ready to check out, he was out rounding up shopping carts, but they managed to exchange a few words (and a few hugs), and I thought to myself….hmmmm…could this be something?

They texted all that night, and the next day, he came over to “hang out.” He greeted me with a hug, which I have to admit, I liked. They played ping pong and looked at yearbooks, and after a few hours they were hooked on each other. They’ve been dating ever since.

Chris is a super sweet boy, and so far, mom approves of him. He’s extremely kind to my girl, shows her tons of attention (which none of her past crushes seemed to do), is very affectionate, and hugs us all whenever he comes and goes.  I’m so happy that she finally found a guy worthy of the title “boyfriend.”

For Valentines Day, he gave her roses, a stuffed fox, some chocolates, and had his dad, who is a professional chef, cook them dinner. She said the food was amazing, and so is his family. Everything is like a fairly tale. So far.

I really hope this romance lasts for her. She’s given her heart to him, and I don’t know how easy she would get over a bad break up. But, I don’t think I have to worry. I don’t read him as a player – I think he’s more a steady, one girl type of guy, which is good.

Sometimes she will turn to me and say, I can’t believe this all started because you guys were arguing over whether or not to buy crab cakes. Love works in mysterious ways, that’s for sure.

Footnote:
Like most boys, this one turned at to be a dud and a douche. Right at their 4 month anniversary, after days of texts proclaiming his love for my daughter, he went to a party and texted to her “I think I want to be single.” He had ignored her for more than a week now, and friends tell her he’s been asking out another girl. My girl did nothing wrong. All she did was love him.
Just wait until I get in his line next time…..

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Today is my mom’s birthday. She’s been gone for 23 years now, and of course, I still miss her. My mom was a warm hug. It’s really the perfect way to describe her. You never doubted her love for you, unless you pissed her off, and even then, it took very little to get back in her good graces.

As I think about my relationship with my daughters, I can see some parallels between our relationship, and the one I had with my mom.

Mom would wake me up with a song when I would retreat under my blankets on a cold November morning.  Usually it was “Life is just Bowl of Cherries.” I don’t know why she chose that song, but it became synonymous with my mom’s cheerful, coaxing method of rousing us from our beds.

I do the same with my girls…but I use a song I wrote myself. Even at 22 & 15, some mornings my daughters beg me to sing it for them as they snuggle under the blankets for one minute more. I like to think they will sing it to their children one day.

My mom showed a lot of love – and not just through hugs. She was a great cook. Nothing gourmet, but just good, homey food. Pot roast, roast beef, great spaghetti sauce, and soups that I still crave to this day. She was also great about taking us shopping. My dad might bitch at her when the bills came due, but I would rock those new jeans she bought me like it was nobody’s business.

I try to do the same. My girls and I hug a lot, and there’s a lot of “love you’s.” As for the cooking? I’m not in the same ballpark as my mom. I’m not even tailgating in the parking lot of the ballpark. But I can make mean chicken soup, creamed spinach, and palacinke. My meatballs aren’t too bad, and I make a passable ziti. And shopping? I can’t tell you how many times I put off buying new sneakers, or a purse so my girls could get some new shirt or dress.

And they appreciate it. They will hug me and thank me for a good meal, or that pair of shoes. They tell me their friends think I’m a “cool mom.” Everyone loved my mom too. I get tons of Facebook messages from folks who remember my mother fondly.

One difference between my mom and me is the amount of openness about uncomfortable subjects. My mom was not the type to sit you down and tell you the facts of life. I knew about getting my period from girlfriends and movies at school. When my period started, I went to our local pharmacy, charged a box of maxi pads, and that’s how she found out I’d finally joined the ranks of womanhood.

Although she had an interesting life before she married my dad, she rarely shared anything about it. I know she lived and worked in Miami for a while after high school, and that her family life growing up was somewhat strained. Other than that…she was just my mom, with little to no history before she became “mom.”

In contrast, I try to be very open with my girls regarding boys, sex and their bodies. I say “try” because my oldest daughter wants nothing to do with conversations of that ilk with dear old mom. She’s very private.

My youngest? She’ll ask me anything and everything. She’ll talk to me while toweling off after a shower, not caring in the least that I see her naked. I helped show her how to use tampons. You don’t get much closer than that.

I also share my past with my girls. Rarely do we take a half hour drive where at some point I turn the radio down to tell them some stupid little tale from my past. Just this morning on the way to school, I told them about a club I frequented when I lived in Vienna for a semester.

Hell, it’s why I write this blog. I started it when I realized I knew zero about my mom’s history. So I tell my stories, so that they can always look back and see what there dear old mamsh (nickname) was up to in her youth.

So mom, on your birthday, I dedicate this blog to you. Your love, warmth and support showed me how to be the mother I am to my two girls. And I know they really appreciate it. You might not have been here for their lives, but you gave them a pretty awesome gift in showing me how to rock the role of Mom.

In response to the Daily Prompt, Locked

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When my youngest daughter was around 4 years old, we took a vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, and stayed in the million+ dollar house that my cousin lives in. We wanted the girls on their best behavior so we would neither annoy nor cause my cousins to think we were bad houseguests.

About two days into the trip we were all getting ready to go to the beach, but my 4 year old had to go to the bathroom. There was a powder room right in the foyer, so I told her to go there and to hurry it up – we didn’t want to be the cause of everyone having to wait.

Five minutes later, I banged on the door to see what was taking her so long, at which point she told me she had locked the door and could not get it open.

Fuck.

The doorknob was a lever handle, as shown above, but the lock was not your typical push-button variety. It was a separate lock under the door knob…the type you had to twist right to lock and left to unlock. And for some reason, my baby girl could not figure this out.

There was a window to the bathroom, so we went outside to try and coach her through the window (which of course, was locked). After 10 minutes of us shouting instructions, she sort of gave up and just sat on the floor.

Hubby began to freak out. It had been at least a half an hour, and the crowd was getting restless. This was super embarrassing for him…the day was getting ruined and it was our fault. He told me to call the steamship authority and see if we could get on a ferry today…we were leaving the island.

This, along with the fact that my child had pretty much mentally shut down in a small bathroom, made me lose it. I paced back and forth outside the window chain-smoking and crying.

My cousins had decided to call their handyman, who was on vacation, to come to the house and drill through their very expensive bathroom door in order to free our daughter. The thought of OUR FAMILY costing them money and damage to their new home rattled my husband to the core, so he took action.

He drew a picture of the lock, and then an arrow pointing in the direction to unlock the door, and slipped it under the door. Then he quietly coached his little girl, and within a minute or two, the door opened – and none too soon. The handyman was standing their, goggles on and a drill in his hands.

She’d been locked in there for over an hour, and she didn’t cry once. I wish I could say the same. Then I had to talk my husband into letting us stay – that we would look way worse if we turned-tail and ran.

Because these are the types of things that happen when you have kids. Hell, I got locked in a bathroom the same exact way when I was a kid when we were visiting some friend of my fathers. I had to be rescued through the bathroom window.

One good thing came of the incident…My daughter got a new knick-name. To this day, my husband calls her “Locked.”

 

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Today my oldest daughter, a senior at VCU, hosted her very first radio show on the campus station.

She had mentioned a desire to volunteer for her own show last semester, but with classes and her involvement with Phi Sigma Pi, I never thought she’d make the time. Plus, she tends to procrastinate – doing and saying are like Earth to Mars many times for her.

But not this time. Earlier this week she met with the station manager, familiarized herself with the board (which she pretty much knew from her communications classes) and today, at a shade past 10 am, she was on the air.

She played music…and lots of it was pretty good. Some Beck, Vampire Weekend, and Talking Heads. She mentioned her sister and her love of the Beatles. She talked about how it feels to attend a concert, using her time working at the Charlottesville Pavilion as an example. And she admitted it was her first broadcast, and that she knew her family was listening.

And we were, thanks to live streaming. Her dad, myself…even her Aunt Judy in Florida tuned in to hear the show. I sat there listening to her sweet voice – high and clear – sort of like the mew of a kitten, and I was fairly bursting with pride.

Because there was my girl, on the radio. My girl who until she tried out for her first play in high school, was as shy as they come. My girl who continues to take chances and push herself in order to build experience and create opportunities for herself.

And this is the same girl who, while snuggled in bed, will call me to her room only to ask for me to hand her the TV remote that is 3 feet away.

And as for the prejudice part? Yeah, her show wasn’t perfect, but it was really good. And it’s only going to get better. If you want to listen, she’s on the air Wednesdays at 10 am on WVCW.

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As a child, were you ever left behind somewhere? Unfortunately, my oldest daughter was.

When she was in the 1st grade, I would drive from my office every afternoon and meet her across the street from her school. I’d park where all the other neighborhood moms parked, wait for the bell, stand on the corner until I spotted her, where I would then usher her into the car, and we’d go back to my office where she would sit quietly and color.

That was our routine.

Except for one very terrifying day.

On this day, about 2 miles from the road to her school, I got stuck in traffic. I groaned, as one usually does when your travels come to a grinding halt. So I sat, and waited. But this traffic? It wasn’t moving.

I nervously began to glance at the clock. The bell was going to ring in 20 minutes. Surely I’d be out of this by then, right? Every minute that ticked by added to my panic. 15 minutes left and I was nowhere close. I’d only moved about 50 yards.

You have to understand something. This was 2001. I had no cell phone. There was no calling the school or texting a friend. There was no where to stop and call, because the road I was on was nothing but woods on either side. There was no shoulder I could ride on. And even worse, there was no other way to get to the school. I was stuck.

10 minutes left until the bell. I sat there wondering why my Mercury Sable wagon couldn’t just rise up in the air and fly over all these cars that were keeping me from picking up my child. Why hadn’t anyone invented that yet?

By the time the bell was ringing and my small, 6 year old daughter was being dismissed from school, I was about 20 yards from the turn off to her school, where I then had to drive a few miles through a residential neighborhood. I cannot describe to you my level of impatience and hysteria as I inched along towards the intersection.

I finally got to the intersection, made my turn and hit the accelerator to try and get to my daughter before all the children thinned out and she realized she was alone.

And then the old lady turned out of her driveway. And proceeded to travel at the very safe speed of 20 mph.

I just about blew a gasket. I sat behind the wheel, unable to safely pass her and just screamed. The traffic was bad enough, but this new obstacle in my path was life giving me a big, huge wedgie.

By the time I got to the school, my little blonde baby was standing on the corner, completely alone, with the exception of a very kind crossing guard who waited with her. All the kids were gone, all the moms were gone. And this kind woman stayed behind in the hot sun to see that my girl was safe.

I cried when I reached her. I was so worried about what might be going through her mind – confused and in doubt as to why our routine had suddenly changed. Wondering, “Where is Mommy?”

I profusely thanked the crossing guard, explaining about the traffic jam as I picked up my girl and held her close. I was exhausted, but grateful that although life put me through the wringer that afternoon, some other force of nature sent my daughter a protector.

I had a cell phone by the end of the month. I also had a talk with my daughter, explaining to not worry if this ever happens again. Mommy is always coming.

Always.

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I first heard the term “Helicopter Parent” a few months back, I was like, what the hell is that?

So I looked it up. And found out it was pretty much me.

It was a sucky realization – I’m a term – like Tiger Mom or Cougar. Those little pop culture labels that we love to assign to groups of people. So I hover…there is little to nothing I can do about it. Cause once those little girls were plucked from my womb, the world became a much different place.

I was the youngest of four, so by the time I got to the age where I could start doing stuff on my own, I could leave the house and not return for hours. I think as long as my mom knew the general vicinity I was headed to, she was cool and with a wave of her hand and a “be home by 5” I was out in the world on my own.

Lots of times I took my bike and rode miles and miles into neighboring towns, many times on very busy and dangerous roads. Other times I just went up town to the library, or the park, grabbing a slice or an order of fries for lunch.

But our free-rangeness went beyond what we did on our own. When we were out with my dad we would indulge in many activities that could lead to possible injury. Tree climing, walking along the Palisades cliffs, wandering through the streets of New York City on a Friday night, and swimming in an ocean that was way too rough for kids our age.

When we were on Martha’s Vineyard he used to let us ride in this big metal box that we kept on the top of car for the luggage. One bump on a dirt road and one or more of us could’ve popped right out of that thing. I also remember this red convertible we had – it’s a wonder none of us died with the stunt Dad used to let us pull in that thing.

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He’d let us ride sitting on the back hood with our feet on the back seat while we rode down what we called the “whoops whoops hill” – a long, steep hill that would drop down, and level off, and drop down, and level off. We’d wave our arms and scream, and Dad would be going pretty fast – sometimes you almost felt like you caught air.

And here I sit at 50 years old – I somehow managed to survive with no seat belts, no bike helmets, no antibacterial gel.

So why in the world am I such a nervous Nelly lunatic with my girls? Well, here’s a few reasons.

1. I have super shitty health insurance. Therefore, if something happens to my girls from a broken arm to a knocked out tooth I am screwed. So when my youngest asks if she can try riding daddy’s bike, I tell her she should just walk because she’s less likely to hurt herself.

2. I want to avoid the blame game. I would NEVER hear the end of it from hubby if anything happened to my girls because I let them do something that lead to them getting hurt.

3. There are monsters out there. Regardless of whether you believe that there are more pedophiles/murderers/psychopaths out there now, or if it just seems that way because the world is so über connected, the fact is, they are out there. When my youngest walks to the park with the next door neighbor or goes on a scooter ride, I WORRY ABOUT HER. A lot. I let her go, because I know I have to. And still, I worry.

Here’s the simple fact: I know if my girls are home with me, they are a lot less likely to be aducted, or lured away, or hit by a car, or bit by a snake, or beat up by roaming street thugs.

By the way, If I sound bad, you should see my husband. I’m Lenient Lucy compared to him.

So I don’t know how it happened…how I made that transition from a child who could ride her bike halfway across the state as long as I was home in time for dinner to the mom who makes her kids check in every hour. I guess the answer is, I’m just trying to keep my kids safe – Is that so wrong?

Hell, I only have a few more years of this anyway. With kids 19 & 13 how many more years of hovering to I have? But until then, I’ll just take my cue from Arnold….and get to the chopper.

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Last night I had a horrible nightmare. I actually had several bad dreams throughout the night, but one was a real doozy.

In short, I dreamt that my youngest daughter, who in the dream was only 6 or 7, was murdered. She ran away from me at a crowded carnival, and as I was trying to call her back, a man picked her up, threw her over his shoulder, and disappeared into the throngs of people.

My voice wouldn’t work. I was trying to scream and couldn’t. It was incredibly frustrating. People were staring at me, but nobody was helping, and like that, she was gone.

I knew she was dead, but at first couldn’t convince anyone in my family. My husband was strangely optimistic she would come back unharmed. As I sat stuffing envelopes a coworker of mine put two six packs of beer on the table next to me (dreams can be super weird, right?) Then she sat down and told me they had found her body.

The grief I felt was overwhelming. I was crying from a place I didn’t even know existed. My brother in law Mike looked at me and said, “I can’t believe I’m never going to see her again.” I cried, and moaned, and screamed in utter sorrow.

And then I woke up.

At first I wondered if anyone had heard me…it was so real that I was certain I had to be making noise in my sleep. Then I went to my daughter and held her hand, and looked at her, thankful beyond measure that it was just a dream. And I thought of all those mothers who have lived through my nightmare only to have nothing to wake up from.

With Christmas just days away, I thought about the parents of poor Hannah Graham, the UVA student who was abducted and murdered this fall by a loathsome creature who should only live in nightmares, not be a living, breathing thing prowling the streets.

It must be such a sad time for them, this first Christmas without her. There’s no stocking to hang for Hannah, no gifts to buy, nothing to pass to her at the Christmas dinner table. They must be feeling a hole the size of the Grand Canyon without her there. I can’t imagine the pain of losing a child, especially when it’s at the hands of a monster.

When my baby girl wakes up, I’m gonna smother her with kisses. And hugs. And then more kisses. I’m so thankful she’s still here.

Mom

Today is my mom’s birthday. She’s not with us anymore – this marks the 20th year I’ve lived on this earth without her, but I always remember her birthday. Well, not always as this repost will reveal. Yeah, I pretty much put this out there once a year to remember my mom and to remind myself of the one time I forgot…


My mom was great. Always willing to hug you and give you a big dose of mommy lovin’ even when you weren’t exactly in the mood for it. She kept us fed with kick-ass food, and I only wish I had half of her recipes, especially her spaghetti sauce.

Although she wasn’t big on letting us climb trees or go exploring where good little girls ought not to be venturing (that’s what dad was for), she was always ready to take us shopping for new school clothes or those jeans you just had to have even though dad griped that there was no money for them.

She made lots of stuff too. Not only did she sew a ton of our clothes when we were kids (another skill I wish I had picked up from her), she did all sorts of crafty things like embroidery and crocheting. If she could make it rather than buy it, she did. I have a little of that in me. Thank God for the internet or I’d never know how to crochet. But I gave up on embroidery when I stitched my Holly Hobby sampler to my pants leg. Twice.

I remember one birthday of my mother’s specifically. It was when I was around 22. I was out of college, living at home, and totally involved with my job, my friends, and my boyfriend. Her birthday came and went without a word from me. The following morning, I said, “oh, by the way happy birthday!” and went to hug her, and she shrugged me off, clearly upset that I had pretty much blown her special day off.

Talk about feeling bummed out. And ashamed. My mom was the type who could put you on a serious shit-list and boy oh, boy did you feel it. After work that day I went out and bought her a gift. I took my time and chose a fancy black sweater/sweatshirt with a funky geometric pattern on it.

Hey don’t judge too harshly… it was the 80s after all.

I presented it to her that evening with my sincerest apologies. She opened it, threw it aside and exclaimed, “I have nothing that goes with that.”

I was a little crushed, but I had a feeling she was still trying to punish me for being such a douchey daughter. It was a month or so later that she wore it to go spend a night out with friends. 2 weeks later she wore it again. And again. And again.

Turns out she loved it – just like she loved me. She just didn’t want to admit it because I’d really hurt her feelings. I never broke her chops about claiming she didn’t like it either, but I felt a real sense of pride and satisfaction every time she wore it.

I really miss her. I dream about her every once in a while, and it’s nice to see her again. And as I revisit her on her birthday I hope she’s watching me – and I bet she’s wearing that bad 80’s sweater.