The word suddenly indeed takes center stage with what is on my mind. Friday, like every Friday, is spent with my mom. Due to the nor’easter that hit the east coast this week, we decided to ditch our outside plans. Mother Nature had another idea for me.
Our usual Friday consists of errands. Bank, bakery, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods, which means we are in and out of the car a lot. Well, I am. At 91 getting in and out of a vehicle is not an easy task, now add Macular degeneration to the mix, and it’s downright difficult. Not that this stops mom from giving it her best, but knowing her limits.
So, with our change in plans, I was able to spend some quality one-on-one outside of the car. This is where the magic happened.
Suddenly I felt our roles had reversed. Not that V hasn’t given me the opportunity to play worried mother with her in the past. Like the time she didn’t answer her phone, did not let my sisters where she was going or me, which led us to frantically drive to her apartment only to see her laughing around a table with her friends. We all looked surprised as she asked: “what are you doing here?”
Macular degeneration is something that little by little, but suddenly leaves you without full use of your eyes, something that has taken a toll on my mom physically & mentally. Just imagine having your independence pulled out from under your feet.
Now, my once never asking for help independent mother before it was fashionable, suddenly has to have her daughters read her mail. Along with everything else in print.
After reading the mail on Friday, I had the pleasure of reading a letter to my mom. Not just any letter, a letter from a friend, who just happens to be an avid reader and recently read an incredible book about Jackie O., her sister Lee and mother Janet. Knowing my mom shares the same love for Jackie O, she created a CliffsNotes version for me to share. The highlight of the day!
Over the next few hours, we not only discussed the story in the letter, but it also opened the door to discuss all sorts of subjects, including, but not limited to the fact that very wealthy people are weird. Money does not prevent weirdness, but it can pay someone to brush it under the rug.
My mom insisted on making my lunch. Considering cooking and serving are the two things she can do independently I said yes. What was on the menu you ask? A grilled cheese cut into four squares, veggie chips, and applesauce. Suddenly, feeling five years old again felt terrific!
As we were eating my mom suddenly got serious. Not the norm. Mom began explaining to me that she has been having more bad days than good ones, along with a lecture on the fact that people shouldn’t live this long. What?!
I’m not naive. I understand that at 91 life has an expiration date, but for whatever reason, it suddenly became very evident. Maybe there was something in the cheese?
Suddenly I realized that my days of eating grilled cheese cut into four squares are limited.
Suddenly I realized the promise I made to marry my mom when I was 3 was not going to be fulfilled.
Suddenly I realized that my daily phone chats on the way home from work won’t be around forever.
Suddenly I realized I’m not young anymore and neither is the one person in this world who loves me the most.
Suddenly has a way a sneaking up on you, so make sure you Enjoy the Ride!
Imagine receiving a call from a potential employer, who decided to conduct an impromptu phone interview right in the middle of a summer day when your two overzealous boys are home. Are you sweating?
Well, this is exactly what happened to my sister. She was on the phone putting her best professional voice forward, while waving her hands; talking through her teeth and giving an evil eye to her two laughing boys, whom she decided to keep after this day. They have no idea how lucky they are … really.
Mothers of boys know that the laughter only escalates when her face begins turning all sorts of colors and she appears on the verge of exploding. In their eyes this is the best thing since double stuffed Oreos.
While she found herself trapped between motherhood, corporate America and a full-blown circus right in her own living room, she slithered up the steps to the sanctuary of her bedroom, shut the door and continued the interview. Just when you think you’re safe…
Suddenly she heard some sort of commotion outside, which wasn’t too unusual since she lived on a main road, but this noise just didn’t seem normal. At times like this you just want to smother your inner curious cat.
While still on the damn phone she looked out the window only to see her two boys, one in his boxer shorts, holding a sign that read:
Honk If You Like Boobies
Unfortunately for her the neighbors really, really liked boobies!
Express yourself. Never be afraid to find the humor in life and always Enjoy the Ride!
Yes, she got the job!
Todays Daily Post Pens and Pencils asks the following:
When was the last time you wrote something substantive — a letter, a story, a journal entry, etc. — by hand? Could you ever imagine returning to a pre-keyboard era?
Just this week I wrote a note of well wishes to a sick friend and good luck wishes to friends who are starting a new chapter in their lives. I would consider both of these notes substantive, because they had the personal touch of the written word …. my words.
As a matter of fact, I can’t return from the pre-keyboard era because I never really left. I love giving and receiving a written note. I don’t care if it’s a simple “Pick up milk” on a post-it or a loving reminder inside a card that someone out there in the world is thinking of me on a special occasion. Handwriting Rocks!
Let me toot my handwriting horn now. My handwriting truly rocks because I went to Catholic school where penmanship was far more important than anything else on the planet. You haven’t lived until you completed an entire copybook of the handwritten alphabet!
My children, ages 20 and 21, will never ever master this craft. There are chickens in barnyards across America with better writing skills! Although my daughter had a brief stint with penmanship, my son had less.
He has voiced his dislike for my hand written notes claiming he struggles to read cursive, while insisting I print. I refuse to resort to wall drawings on his behalf!
At work I still have the pleasure of using a sharpened wood pencil, along with a date book that has real paper pages. Don’t faint.
I use these old school tools to schedule the doctor’s surgeries and I love it! Sharpened pencils make me smile, erasers … well, they make me smile even wider. Trust me, when you’re dealing with the public erasers are a dream come true.
Honestly though the pen and pencil people of the world have to have some empathy for this keyboard era. What are they going to do save a text message from their lovers on their phones? Ugh … that is just depressing.
I guess if they don’t know any different they’re really not missing anything. Ok, now that’s even more depressing.
I am grateful to have the skills to write a note; the ability to appreciate a written note; and the sense to frame a note written by my husband on our first anniversary. Husband and writing are rarely used in the same sentence.
This little beauty has acted as a reminder over the past 24 years on more than one occasion and I cherish its existence. It has also acted as a life saving tool more than once as well … just saying.
Doing things “by hand” isn’t as dirty as it sounds. So take a moment today to write a note and as always … Enjoy the Ride!
The Daily Post has a great subject line No Time To Waste.
Fill in the blank: “Life is too short to _____.” Now, write a post telling us how you’ve come to that conclusion.
Over the years I’ve heard this wonderful “Life is too short” line many times. But it’s not every day that a seasoned life liver crosses your path and hits you up with valuable words to live by. This happened back in my crazed mother of young children trying to “do it all” days. Ugh …. I think I just got a chill.
I was at the playground with my little angels when a grandmotherly type woman approached me. Apparently she recognized that I was dressed in stress from head to toe when she started a very important conversation. She obviously recognized this look.
This lovely woman began asking me about my children and motherhood in general. After listening to my ramblings about the pressures of having an endless messy house, she calmly stated: “Life is too short to worry about dust bunnies, you’ll have plenty of time to clean when your kids are grown.” Who was this woman of wisdom dressed in grandmother clothing? Gandhi? …. Yoda?
I often think about her wise words and pass them along to other young mothers on the brink of exploding from trying to DO IT ALL. She was so right!
Now that my kids are at an age were my needs no longer include pushing strollers, holding hands or driving from A to B and back again, I do have plenty of time to worry about those dust bunnies. But guess what? Now I’m at an age where a heard of full-grown dust kangaroos could hop over me and I wouldn’t care. Talk about a silver lining!
How would you fill in the blank: “Life is too short to _____.”
Save the Dust Bunnies and Enjoy the Ride!
In honor of Mother’s Day this weekend I am once again sharing a post that I wrote in honor of my own mother Venita Momma You Were Born This Way.
I am blessed to be celebrating her once again this year, considering she was 37 when she brought me into this world, I never imagined that at 50 I would still have this privilege. Feel free to insert a big ole Awwww.
Mom is now 87 and I am so grateful that every Friday we spend our day going from one place to another. It’s usually food shopping, banking or a doctor’s appointment here or there. Nothing out of the ordinary, but we have the opportunity to be together and that is certainly extraordinary. A priceless gift indeed!
A few years back when my mom gave up driving, on her own unlike my father who didn’t give up without a fight, my sisters and I came up with a schedule to get mom out from behind her four dull walls. I for one can honestly say it was the best thing that could have happened. This gives us all the opportunity to spend quality time with our mother, which we may not have gotten if she was still whizzing around town on her own. A blessing in disguise!
These weekly outings have certainly provided me with a chance to sit back and ponder on my own challenges in raising my children who are now 21 & 19. I have to look at my mom and ask “how the hell did you survive these years … TWICE? See, I have older siblings and my brother turned 19 just a few days after I was born! Yea…let that sink in for a minute…
Just as she was about to receive her “I survived raising my teenagers” t-shirt she had to change the shitty diapers of my sister and I since we are only 15 months apart! I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.
Oh, as if this wasn’t enough to warrant a statue being erected in her honor, factor in that she went to work full-time when I was about 7 and was still required by Archie Bunker/my dad to fulfill her “wifely duties” of cooking, cleaning and waiting on him hand and foot. Oh … dear … lord how did she have the restraint not to murder?
I never thought I would actually say “changing diapers and breast-feeding are looking pretty good right now”, but I find myself saying it DAILY and one day I said it to my mom. Her laughter was genuine, but I must admit it was a little unnerving. Then I realized the truth usually is right? You know when there is nothing left but to laugh you don’t have a chance.
- When my mom said “believe me you don’t want him to walk too early” I thought she was crazy until my son started building his own scaffolding to unlock the front door and the gray hairs began.
- When my mom said “let her take her time driving, she doesn’t need her license yet.” Well, I was tired of waiting up to go fetch her from wherever she was, so she got her license. Yea, waiting up until she gets home safely is so much more relaxing…not!
The list could go on, but frankly it’s becoming a little embarrassing at this point. Look, motherhood does not come with a manual for a reason … it’s too fucking scary! No one is going to see that movie after reading the book .. capisce?
So, take time to listen to the wisdom of the
survivors other women in your life … your mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, cousins or honestly anyone with a vagina.
All women are mothers of the world. All of us give birth to something bigger than ourselves. All women are badass and need to be celebrated, so get out there and as always … Enjoy the Ride!
The other morning I came across a reblogged post by Mimi over at Waiting For The Karma Truck that really struck a nerve. Well, it wasn’t actually the blog itself, but Mimi’s comment that got my nerve going. Read on…
I have been having many conversations with friends of mine about what the second half holds. The key perhaps is in re-defining one’s understanding of the concept of ‘doing’ – turning that energy inward and valuing it as much as one valued all those years of externalized effort. Some thoughts for this morning…
The subject of the blog was about aging, a conversation I was also having recently with a dear friend. Calm down we weren’t discussing nursing homes, if fact it was the polar opposite. There were a number of things that brought this subject to the surface, especially our looming “Special Birthdays.” One has already been celebrated, but I must wait with bated breath until February to celebrate mine.
Mimi made a wonderful point in her response to my comment. She said, “I think some of us are just at the age where we realize that we need to move not just to another chapter, but perhaps another story entirely.” Reading Mimi is like having my own personal Yoda around for a daily dose of wisdom. Shit! I hope she doesn’t bill me.
Her words immediately had me thinking about all the chapters and several stories in my own life. We all start out with the same story “New Beginnings” , but the rest, well … they’re on us. I decided to compile a Cliff Note version of some of the more noteworthy stories/chapters of my life.
- Mommy, Will You Marry Me?: When I was my sister/best friend had to go to school and leave me ALL day. In that moment I vowed to marry my mommy. That’s right I had amazing sense even at 4. I knew this woman was the best thing that ever happened to me and damn it I wasn’t going to let her get away. We had two wonderful years alone together before I had to join my sister at school, but I never forgot how special I felt as we watched Pixanne and I proposed.
- Catholic School or Scarred For Life: I think it’s safe to say these two go hand in hand. I didn’t have a chance between following in my over achieving sister’s shoes, constantly being reminded about it every time I entered a classroom and being the emotional punching bag for a group of bitter, sex suppressed woman a/k/a nuns. This may come as a surprise, but I really didn’t enjoy school…can’t imagine why. This story lasted 12 long years!
- Love Goggles: Over the years this story has also been referred to as “What The Fuck Was I Thinking?” and What The Fuck Were You Thinking?” on more than one occasion. I fell hard at 16, sealed the deal at 21 and ended the farce at 23. This story lasted close to 8 years! This was more like a series of short stories that always ended with a clear lesson for the readers, however the author was somewhat of a resistant learner who tightened her love goggles to the point of blindness and missed her own lessons.
- Cupid To The OR … Stat!: This is one of my favorite stories. Cupid certainly had his hands full with me. I walked around with my heart on my sleeve for all to see and when I fell, I fell hard. I went from doormat to a wall to wall carpet while in this relationship, so Cupid had to really push the envelope for me to open my eyes. The procedure took place over a holiday weekend in 1988. Cupid scrubbed up and prepared to surgically remove my “Love Goggles.” He led me right to my bedroom where I saw my husband in bed with another woman…**BAM** they flew right off and I never looked back. There are times when extreme measures are necessary, this was one of those times.
- Love, Marriage & Baby Carriages: After a few years of recovery from my procedure, Cupid put my name on another arrow. This time he dulled the point just enough for me to recognize what true love was all about. After 22 years and 2 great kids later I can say “Thank you Cupid, thank you very much.” This story is still going strong with new chapters being written every day.
- Lisa, Is That You?: Considering the amount of years I spent answering to Mommy, Mom, Momma, Momma Bear, Emily’s Mom, Zac’s Mom and Yo Mom, it’s no wonder that LISA was put on the back burner alongside her underwear. That’s right folks, her underwear! Those cotton sacrificial lambs that went YEARS not being replaced because “Mommy” had to make sure the little asses of her offspring were covered first with their latest cartoon character obsession. Oh, how their big smiles over Rug Rat briefs made me forget all about the missing elastic on my own panties. Until the next Chapter…
- MOM! You’re Fired!: Talk about not seeing the warning signs of this happening. I went from “Employee of the Year” to the unemployment line overnight. All my loyal service and they left me in the dust…with semi worn underwear. Of course they still “need” me, just not nearly as much. I’m proud of the young adults they have become, but I am a nurturer, so I missed shelling out the love, until I realized I had been neglecting the one person who needed my love more than anyone else…ME.
- Who Loves Ya Baby?: It took a few years of therapy, an extreme panic attack, a good honest look in the mirror and the big 50 on the horizon for me to realize that Lisa was overdue for some much-needed loving. Here I am challenging my mind, body & soul in ways that I never thought possible. I am physically seeing changes that make me proud of my accomplishments. I am participating at my Quaker Meeting in ways that enable me to walk the talk and feed my soul, but most of all, I am realizing that I am able to take pride in being whoever the hell I want to be.
Untitled: I’m not sure where I’m headed, but I know I’m going in the right direction and with a lot less baggage. You may want to brush off your sunglasses and be prepared to squint, I have a feeling I’m going to be giving off quite a glow.
Remember, if you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave and Enjoy the Ride!
You’ve been asked to do a five-minute presentation to a group of young schoolchildren on the topic of your choice. Describe your presentation.
Kids: In unison …. G R E A T!
Me: Today I’m here to fill you in on some truths about being a grown-up. Oh, no not the lies the world is selling you, the TRUTH. Growing Up Is A Trap. How many of you already knew it was a trap?
Kids: The sound of chirping crickets filled the air.
Me: First of all don’t be in such a hurry to get there, you’ll be very disappointed. Honestly, it’s not that great. Of course there are some perks like driving, sex & drinking….but, you know what kids? They don’t last forever and if we’re being honest here, which we are, they’re not all they’re cracked up to be…seriously. All of these things can be great, but they can also get you in BIG trouble. Not the “go to your room” kind of trouble, but the “time to go back to your cell” kind of trouble.
Kid: My mom said ….
Me: Your mom is lying.
Me: But nothing kid! I told you I’m here to fill you in on the big secret of life. Are you ready? Every grown-up you see, even good ole grandma & grandpa, mom, dad, teachers … all of them, wish for ONE thing….Interruption…What? You with the hand waving like you’re putting out a fire…what?
Kid: My grandma wishes she could walk faster.
Me: I’m sure she does kid, I’m sure she does. Do you know why? Put your hands down, there is no need to guess because that’s what I’m here to tell you…All grown-ups wish they were kids…just like you. That’s right guys, they want to play in the dirt without a care in the world.
Kid: My dad doesn’t like when I get dirty.
Me: Yes he does, he’s just jealous. I bet your parents don’t like when you run around the house like energizer bunnies do they?
Kids: In unison …. NOOOOOOO!
Me: That’s because once again they are jealous. Do you get it kids? Every time you do something they can’t do, because they’re too big and it’s no longer acceptable, they get angry at you. Have any of you ever destroyed something in your house, but because you are so darn cute you got away with it? You, all the way in the back with the pointy tail and horns..what did you do?
Kid: One time, I um, emptied a case of bottled water in the driveway to make mud for my trucks and when my mom asked me “what happened to all the water?” I told her “I drank it” with a straight face and she smiled.
Me: Great example kid and kudos for the straight face…well-played, well-played indeed. Now, just imagine if your dad did that, what do you think would have happened? Ok, don’t get your pigtails in a knot, what would your mom do?
Kid: First she would tell my dad how stupid it was, then she would probably post about it on Facebook so all her friends could agree that my dad did a stupid thing and then she would just talk in “one words.”
Me: Your mom sounds lovely and pretty much dead on in this case. See, when you’re a grown-up you’re no longer cute…your just big, hairy and well, stupid. So, do you understand the message here kids?
Me: Do you see how important it is to be a kid as long as you possibly can?
Me: So what are you going to so about growing up kids?
Kids: Respectfully decline. Never forget our inner child. Learn how to act in public. Have the courage to become who we really are and Enjoy the Ride!
The Tooth Fairy (or Easter Bunny, or Santa Claus . . .): a fun and harmless fiction, or a pointless justification for lying to children?
This is a great question, one I have been pondering for quite some time actually. I will be the first to admit that the single, childless me may have frowned upon setting the wee ones up for a disappointment. However, the married mother of a 3-year-old me found herself asking “Why can’t Santa make an appearance during all 4 seasons?” Santa threats are what mothers consider…. Leverage.
Oh, put your judgments away folks. I don’t care what anyone says, there is NO and I repeat NO negotiating with a 3-year-old who made the executive decision to let you know in a big way, that they no longer want to be shopping with you and NOTHING gets them out of their human plank position in the middle of the Mall faster than those 2 glorious words…Santa’s Watching.
Personally, I was never a fan of the Easter Bunny. The thought of a giant rodent coming into our house really didn’t bring on the warm & fuzzies, it sort of just scared the crap out of me. I never elaborated on his existence, probably due to my own phobias about that big ugly impersonator they have at the mall. If you ever need a good photo of a frightened child, just spend a few minutes at that display. I don’t find this one fun, harmless or a useful parenting tool…it’s just weird & scary.
Ah, my girl the Tooth Fairy, now this little lady rocks. I love the concept of a little fairy bringing cash in the middle of the night. Sadly she only works for teeth. I know when I was a kid I couldn’t wait to wake up to a nice shiny quarter or dime under my pillow. However, just this week I heard she is handing out an average of $2.50 per tooth. Makes one want to consider some extractions now doesn’t it? It’s 80.00 for a set of chops in case you were digging out the calculator.
My FAVORITE Tooth Fairy story is when I broke the news to my son. He was sitting in the back of the car, drilling me as if I were on trial, about the whereabouts of the Tooth Fairy. My daughter, who is just about 2 years older, let out a “Mom, just tell him!” Lord knows that’s all curious George had to hear before the “Tell me mom” chant entered the vehicle. This kid is notorious for wearing down the strongest pillars of parental strength with his piercing repetitive chanting. So, I broke the news that I was in fact the Tooth Fairy. Immediate silence came over the car.
Ugh, I felt so bad looking at his little face in the rearview mirror. He was so cute with his little glasses and toothless grin that my heart was just melting. Finally I asked “Are you ok Zac you’re awfully quiet back there?” I NEVER saw this coming …”I’m ok mom, I can’t wait to tell my friends that you work, you make the best cookies in the whole world and YOU’RE THE TOOTH FAIRY!” Needless to say we had to take our conversation a tad further until it all sunk into that cute little head. He was actually relieved I wasn’t going into strange homes.
Now back to the question on hand. The only real problem I have with this “lying” is it doesn’t last too long today. Parents don’t get nearly as much mileage out of the farce as their parents did. Kids today are hip. I was so gullible believing well into 7th grade, so breaking the grim “There is no Santa, Giant Rodent or Fairy” news to a 13 year-old really wasn’t a big deal. Parents today are discussing drugs, alcohol & sex to their 13 year olds. Which to me is a much bigger deal!
Lying about fun and harmless fiction is not an issue, however lying about your child’s age to open a Facebook account is. The legal age is 13! Children today are already lacking a childhood, or my definition of one anyway, so lets hang on to what we can these days. We already have technology & academic pressure pushing the fantasy of childhood right out the door as it is, so if telling a few tales to ignite some good old imagination, I say bring it on. There’s plenty of time to be grown-up…let kids be kids and Enjoy the Ride! (In the slow lane)
Today marks quite a milestone here at Life With The Top Down. One year ago today I decided to take the plunge into the great big world of blogging. I nervously hit that big blue Publish button and sent my first post The C-Word out into the blogosphere. I had a love/hate relationship with that button for quite some time, but we’re cool now.
Yesterday I took a little trip back in time and discovered that I really have come a long way through this journey. The first thing I noticed was that my overall well-being and my writing skills have both grown quite a bit in the last 365 days. Along with my ass, but that’s another story.
It was also nice to discover that my girl Miss Four Eyes was the first and only person to like my words. We all know how important it is to be acknowledged. MFE is a breath of fresh air. She is no doubt an old soul who expresses her youthful, yet wise self perfectly both in and outside of her posts. Thank you MFE!
No matter how things go down, you never forget your first and that stands true for followers as well. My very first follower or followers are Daryl and Devon. Do the math, yes it was a threesome. I have laughed, loved & learned quite a bit through their views on politics, current events, black history & music. They certainly keep things real, which was an immediate attraction for me. Thank you D&D!
Of course, the list of people who have sat shot-gun with me on this ride and were kind enough to bring their support, inspiration and encouragement along, have certainly grown over this past year. They include my real life family & friends, along with a new group of virtual friends that I would consider family. You all deserve a great big thank you, thank you and one thank you very much for the road!
I wasn’t sure what my expectations were for this venture, but I did know it was something that was absolutely necessary for me… for so many reasons. I was at a point in my life where my kids suddenly left me in the dust…they decided to grow-up and I was finally handed the pink slip. Of course they call me back occasionally for advice, assistance and we can’t forget the big one …money, but all in all they were doing their thing and I needed to do mine. It was my time to shine!
Sometimes things just pop into our lives to help us along the way, like Kathy over at Friday Night Family, who I hadn’t seen or spoke to since high school did! There she was, this blast from the past, encouraging and inspiring me to find what makes me happy. Well done Kathy…well done indeed!
“You can’t reach for anything new if your hands are full of yesterday’s junk.”
So, I finally decided to unloaded some junk mostly fear and give birth to Life With The Top Down on March 4, 2012 at 12:58 pm. Her first year was a quite a challenge, but I think she is ready to enter year 2 with vigor and excitement.
Hope you will all continue to join me as we … Enjoy the Ride!
Write about what you did last weekend as though you’re a music critic reviewing a new album.
This album features a ROCK STAR that rarely flies solo. He loves to be surrounded by his entourage, which seems to grow each year. Zachary turned 18 last weekend and celebrated in true Rock Star fashion. The house was packed as he took center stage to debut his new album appropriately titled … It’s Finally Official.
We celebrated the release of his new-found freedom album by treating him, the entourage and a couple of groupies to dinner at a Japanese Steakhouse. The paparazzi swooned in and captured this shot of him performing a duet of Happy Birthday with the chef.
Zachary will not disappoint his fans with this latest release. His uncanny fusion of teenage boy, young man and complete goofball can be heard within each track. His hit single I Can Do What I Want Now soared to the top of the charts this week when he came home with a tattoo.
For most of his life, we knew him as an unfiltered energized boy, the kind of kid who just loves to have fun. But lately he’s showing signs of re-birth – taking things a little more serious. Not completely ditching his hands in the air like you just don’t care attitude, but showing glimmers of responsibility that have left us all in a state of…Huh? This comes through loud and clear when you listen to the lyrics of One Less Gray Hair For Mom on track 3.
When Zachary crossed over that imaginary threshold into manhood he learned to appreciate the wisdom that went into the two special tracks cowritten with yours truly…Adult Is A Four-Letter Word and my favorite … Being Grown-up Isn’t Half as Fun as Growing Up so Enjoy the Ride!