surviving outside adventures

Because it is Throwback Thursday I had to dig up an old photo to share…preferably one that won’t embarrass my four adult children. I just love this picture of my brothers and me for so many reasons.

The awesome that was 1970 fashion.

That pose.

Dear gawd, those damn pale, blue, cat’s eye glasses! I know my friend Kale praises me for being a hipster when hipster wasn’t cool by wearing those sweet frames; but trust me, they might have been ultra cool in the early 60s but  in 1970 definitely not. I cringe today every time I see someone wearing such frames…and yes, I’m kind of jealous that someone else pulls that look off and makes it look good.

Those tore up shoes of ours.

My brothers.

Randy.

Billy and his golden curls.

What lies behind that dead end sign on the street we lived on in Ben Avon during the summer of 1970.

Adventure! Grand, dirty adventures! A creek to wade in and swim in and even drink from. We had no clue what flowed from the giant drain pipe a little ways up the creek. We were kids. Kids who, if the sun was shining, were outside until the street lights came on because that was the way that it was.I seriously doubt Mom ever knew what we were doing and we rarely told her.

Who’s going to tell Mom about getting scratched by the raccoon she was playing with in the creek? Certainly not me. I could only imagine the trouble I would get into for that.

Are you going to admit that you literally rolled in poison ivy because your best friend and sister yelled and screamed at you to “STAY AWAY FROM THE POISON IVY!!” and you HAD to prove that you were immune. Randy never did even while scratching at literally his entire inflamed, itchy body.

Adventures behind the dead end sign, down the hill and in the creek were soon replaced with multiple other adventures because we moved…we moved a lot. A LOT…and because if the sun was shining (and sometimes not) outside was where we were until the street lights came on.

There were late night games in a local cemetery running from grave marker to grave marker, hiding and tagging one another.

Nobody tell that we snuck out after dark.

Oh those endless hikes up and down Robinson Road, which as children seemed huge as a child but not so much when I drove there the last time I visited back home. We chased cows in a nearby cow pasture and played in yet another creek…that also had a giant drain pipe emptying into it. Closer to home there was the trash barrel where the trash was burned and where we often played the Will It Burn? game because we had to try and discover what will burn and what will not.

Trees to climb.

Electrified fences to touch.

Circuses to perform complete with a high wire act on the clothes line in the backyard.

Open fields to run through as thunderstorms rolled in.

And so much more.

As children it was all so much fun…but sometimes not. I used to hide my books outside because sometimes I just wanted to sit and read…even if the sun was still shining and it wasn’t time to come in and make dinner or go to the store a mile away walking alone along Route 22 to pick up cigs and milk and tampons for Mom.

Boy was I shocked when I found out what those tampons were for a few years later!

As an adult and a parent I can’t help but sometimes cringe just a little. Okay, cringe a lot…especially about what the hell was likely draining in those creeks we always ended up in and that raccoon.

Still we survived…no rabies for me!

Different times back then we say. Still I often channeled Mom myself chasing the kids outside to play and make happy adventures. My favorite visual is Abby sitting on the curb loudly boo-hooing because “Mommy MADE me go outside and play!”. Still my clowns made their own adventures because it was their childhood and their time, their neighborhood. No creeks or raccoons or cow pastures or highways to walk along to go spend their 50¢ allowance on a small bag filled with penny candy. They were different kids, with different parents, growing up in a different place in a different time.

Still it’s a wonder they survived some of their bigger misadventures…that I know about and DON’T know about. Blame it on the bad parenting. It’s a wonder the four of them have reached adulthood.

I wonder if Hollie thinks that as she watches her children embark on their own great outdoor adventures in a different time and a different place?

Or perhaps she might better understand why mom would make them all go outside and play.

spontaneous moments like these

I have become very bad about capturing life under The Big Top with my camera. I still carry my camera with me practically everywhere I go but more often than not I’m just holding it, or worse, it is sitting in my bag. I was thinking that as I looked at this shot that has been living in my camera for a few days now.

And after berating myself for not taking pictures like I used to, I found myself smiling just a little bit because I DID CAPTURE THIS MOMENT…THIS MOMENT OF AWESOME BETWEEN A DADDY AND A DAUGHTER!!!

If I ever find myself doubting whether or not my children realize just how lucky they are that this man is their Daddy, I just have to look to spontaneous moments like this.

They know!

 

 

mortifying siblings

We love our brothers and sisters. We truly do. Still sometimes nothing embarrasses us more making us want to crawl into a hole pulling the dirt up over us sometimes as our siblings do…because, oh gawd, because they do. Especially at school. Especially when EVERYONE at school KNOWS they are your sister or brother.

Um, sis, did you NOT wash your face this morning?

OMG! Why are you dressed like me? Can you just not stand next to me?

Oh, hey. Hi.

I don’t know how you can possibly be my sister. Really. Can you just walk away? Now? Please? I swear to gawd, I’m gonna tell mom if you don’t.

Her? My sister? I have no idea who she is.

Would you believe that this is the first time since 1997 where I have only ONE child in school? School starts next week and honestly I do believe that I am going to need at least a week, if not more, to come to terms with that reality.

 

when I find myself in times of trouble

Sometimes life is just not much fun which I explain to my young adult children is why it sucks to be a grownup. I told them when they were younger too but they never listened then as children anxious to be grown up never do.

Today was one of those days where life pressed down a little too hard…a migraine…the eye twitchy thing…worrying about work (or lack of) and finances and a broke-ass car that we can’t afford to replace but replace we must and my kids (as their mom I always do worry every damn day because I’m their mom, dammit!)…dealing with my brother’s texts full of lectures and fears about Mommy Dearest’s colonoscopy because routine is never a reality for them which only served to amp up the eye twitchy thing into hyper-drive…and a scary-assed, WTF-is-happening-around-us, near miss driving from Stockton with my son in the car this afternoon. Quite frankly I just wanted to curl up into a ball and weep and wait for sleep or relief from any of what was pressing down upon me too hard to come.

And then the neighbors came over.

This kind of helps.

Actually it helps a lot.

give them wings

Lindsay, over at Suburban Turmoil, beautifully described an analogy that is not new to any of us that unfolded outside her front window.

And now I miss back home and cardinals because you just don’t see cardinals around here.

She then posed a question on Facebook:

To all of you who’ve raised children to adulthood- Based on your experience, what’s the best advice you can give those of us who’re still in the trenches of parenting?

So much wisdom was shared. And then I added my 2¢ worth because I am the mother of four children over the age of 18. I’m no expert but I somehow managed to get this far so why not offer? After all, she did ask.

Patience, lots of patience. From the time they are walking and talking teach them and expect them to take on self care, taking care of their own things and doing things for themselves.
As they grow and discover their passion and interests know that it isn’t always going to be the same as yours or what you imagine or expect it to be and begin to learn to be okay with that.
Let them fall down or fail sometimes. Then love them and guide them as they get back up and try again.

Not bad considering I was dispensing such wisdom while standing in line at Safeway on stop number four of today’s errands, which my 12 year old, who accompanied me,  was cool with during stop number one. As I was trying to form a coherent thought to share, he was making sure that I knew he was over my errands. And it was then that I remember why it was I rarely took his older siblings with me on errands once they were too big for the baby sling.

Clearly I need to work even more on the patience. I can’t imagine that I will ever have the patience that it takes to be an extraordinary mom. Still I press on.

But I have managed to nurture and teach these clowns how to take care of themselves. They can do a pretty good job at it too. Some of them are so good at it they are taking very good care of others too. I can thank the time I spent with other people’s high school aged children years ago for the inspiration that someday my kids would know how to keep track of their own toothbrush, do their own laundry, hang up their own clothes, clean their own room, pick up their own prescriptions from the drug store, carry their own suitcase, yada, yada, yada. Sure I failed at teaching them how to bargain shop because Safeway time was “me time” but they have managed just fine because they have come to realize that yes, they can take care of themselves.

The learning that their passions and interests are not always the same as mine has been an education yet surprisingly not nearly as hard to accept as I imagined that it would be. Well, after I accepted the passion that Hollie chose to pursue because suddenly parenting her wasn’t nearly as exhausting when I was watching her do and create and beautify the way that she does. It actually was kind of exhilarating. Added bonus is she makes me look good. These adult children of mine are really just barely getting started still I am working hard at just cheering them on as they chase those dreams, explores those interests and live those passions. Theirs are not mine. They shouldn’t be. Not ever. Still I get to passively live them with my adult children and my world opens up even more.

The hardest part of all has been letting them fall or fail. I am a parent of millennials. Any good parent of millennials would never, ever let their precious angel baby fall or let anyone fail them ever…no, not ever! I’m not really a very good parent of millennials still how could I possibly just stand there and watch them fall?

Right?!

But I do.

I have. I probably have Daniel’s former physical therapist to thank for being brave enough to do just that. But just like when they were wobbly toddlers, they somehow manage to get back up again and again and again. And I praise them because they did it all on their own. I also quietly heave a sigh of relief because I am still mom.

I’m sorry dear parents in the trenches, it doesn’t get any easier even as the nest empties. It’s a lot quieter. There is (sometimes) less laundry. You learn not to cook as much for dinner every night. You answer every phone call, every text, every FaceTime and you hold yourself back and mostly just listen because, more than anything, that is what they need.

Hard?

Hell yes, it’s hard.

How much easier it would be for me to lecture them, tell them what they are doing wrong, what they should do, what they could have done.

But I gave them those wings; wings that were made to fly. So I take a deep breath, I say a prayer, I bite my tongue and sometimes I shut my eyes tight as they do just that. They fly.

Today’s reward:

Clearly I’m not the only one impressed with the magic she makes.