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!

 

 

spoiling the favorite


Here under The Big Top, it is no secret that we play favorites. “Experts” agree and opine all the time that parents, whether they want to admit it or not, do play favorites. Some parents write about it and become viral media sensations. There’s even a freaking how-to guide for us more indecisive parents. And of course growing up with four siblings, each one of my kids are always trying to figure out who is my favorite child…right now.

Well this week “the current favorite” received a little something from me.

Not because she wanted it…because they ALL wanted it. Not because I had the disposable income to buy it for her because I don’t and if I did that money would be going to stuff like bills that need to be paid. I won this sweet little iPad mini. Boys and girls sometimes you do win those social media contests that you must like or retweet or repost or share or whatever.

The more you know!

But I have an iPad. Gifted to me by my Dad…probably on a day where I was the favorite. My iPad is great.

Cue the sucking up and presentations from my circus act of why each individual clown should have an iPad from me.

Actually my clowns surprised me and did not do so much sucking up…or at least not as much as I expected which could have been a little bit disappointing kids. I’m just saying. No actually because I really didn’t talk too much about winning the iPad to them, or anyone else…well, except for my darling husband because I knew each and everyone of my darling clowns would LOVE for me to gift them with an iPad and OMG the dilemma of choosing…people the struggle is really real.

No!

Really!

It is real.

After much thought, consideration and discussion with my darling husband, the father of these clowns, the decision was made.

They all could use it.They all WANTED it. They all (in their minds) needed it. They all definitely deserved such a gift because, frankly, Bill and I have FIVE pretty damn awesome kids. Still, we both decided that the one who needed it the most RIGHT NOW should have it…the one who finds herself with no working computer. The one who has a phone that no longer connects to the Internet too. The one who recently moved from one part of Cali to another and needs to get settled back to work and (soon I hope) back to school. The one who is our favorite…today…this week.

This playing favorites thing as parents is hard! Still we are rewarded….with hugs, lots of hugs and thanks….

and iPad selfies of their gorgeous, happy smiles.

This week’s favorite child appropriately spoiled…check. Next week will likely be Daniel because Back to School and all that.

Meanwhile, I am enjoying the Nursing Handbook app on my iPad. Thank you Wolters Kluwer Health.

 

 

 

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.