Sunday, February 28, 2016

Dear Mae: A Letter To My Granddaughter

You are not even here, Little One, and already everybody is so excited to meet you.  It will be a long time before you understand how special that is - to fall in love with someone you have yet to see or hold.

You have a lot of years of growing to do, but far into the future (when you are a teenager and God forbid not sooner) you will one day fall in love with a boy.  You should know, Mae, that this will  sicken your parents.  Every time they observe him looking at you with his lusty, hormonal, teenage boyness and a starter mustache, your Mom and Dad will throw up a little in their mouth and think about gouging this boy's eyes out.  No kidding, Mae, your normally laid back parents will scare themselves with the thoughts that consume them about this new friend of yours.  One night before drifting off to sleep your mother will casually say to your father, "And that kid's stupid, little mustache?  He looks like a porn star." Then she will fall asleep dreaming of a boy in your life like Justin Timberlake - the kind of guy who brings his mother to the Grammys.  Meanwhile, your father will gingerly walk down the stairs, turn on the t.v (the volume barely a whisper) and binge-watch How To Get Away With Murder with a notepad and pen beside him.  When your grandfather, who roofed his way through graduate school with some characters who knew a thing or two about the Big House, meets this boy he will pull your father aside and say, "I still know people. You just say the word."

You will enlist your grandma's help in turning the family tide in your favor and, oh honey, she will try to be on your side.  After all, she still vividly remembers that dating stint of your mother's with the Republican that nearly did her in.  But whenever this boy's name comes up her chest pounds and her throat tightens like a vise and so she will do what she always does in these situations.  She will google her symptoms.  She can no longer help you, Mae.  Dr. Google has diagnosed your grandma with multiple illnesses - all leaning heavily on the terminally ill side.  Now she needs to quickly assemble a team of experts at MAYO Clinic while there's still a prayer of being cured.  And if that's not possible, (due to a perfectly legal scam called the deductible) she will need to go to Target one more time for ibuprofen, toilet paper, throw pillows, and the perfect red lipstick to wear to her final resting place - which according to the terms of her most recent will happens to be the clearance section of Target.

One day your Starter Mustache Boy will make a grave mistake.  He will walk into your parent's house, cock his ball-capped head, look at your Dad and say, "Dude, what's happening?" "Dude" will hang as heavy in the air as humidity in July. You will look at your dad with his clenched jaw and pulsing neck veins and, Mae, even you will know that you have been in love with a moron, and, sweet girl, that's okay.  We've all been there.  Your grandma once went out with a nice boy from church that she had been crazy about since the 6th grade.  "You do know his father is a lawyer," said her mother, who daily prayed for the souls of the dearly departed and her daughter's wretched dating life.  It turns out that the son-of-a-lawyer thought that taking your grandma along to buy drugs was the perfect getting-to-know-you ice breaker.  There's all kinds out there, honey, but you come from a long line of sensible women.  We might go in head-over-heels but we know when to cut and run and you will too.

Your dating life from high school, college and beyond will be up, down, and around before you recognize the right one for you.  He will not be perfect but he will feel like home to you and you will not want this man who makes you laugh, cheers you up and on, and whose eyes twinkle with love for you and the life you are making together, to slip away.  Maybe the two of you will decide that the home you've built needs a baby in it as well. 

And when that happens, when you stand in the bathroom holding that pregnancy test in your shaking hands staring at the plus sign, you will finally know what it was like for your own mom - to be so in love with someone she has yet to see or hold.  That, dear Mae, is called hope and from that moment on it will be tangled up in everything you know for the rest of your life.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Last Dance

This week is Mallie Bee's senior recital.  After four years of college dancing to other people's choreography, this time it will be her turn.  I am a mess of emotions.  I can't believe that the last of our kids is nearly done with college.  I can't believe that fifteen years of watching her dance is coming to a close, and while I would never want my wants to collide with her needs, it is clear that her choices will not be likely keep her close by.

An introvert by nature, her heart explodes in dance and we have been lucky enough to witness it from the beginning.  There is so much excitement with all of us for this night and I spent part of my Sunday doing a Facebook invite to every person I know who I think might be remotely interested in my kid's recital.  They have responded in spades.  Who are we that so many people will go out on a Wednesday night to share our joy?

I work at the college that Mal attends and our paths never cross. Today, however, I overheard a student in our office talking about the show she's going to be in on Wednesday.  "You have to come," she said to another student.  "We've all been working on it for a long time and it's going to be fantastic."

I wondered if it was the same show that Mal was going to be in but it is a big school and there are likely many things going on that night.  But the guy she was talking to said her name and I recognized it and came out of my cube to introduce myself.

"Mallory's mom?  You're Mallory's mom?"


"Do you have any idea what kind of human being you raised?  I don't know anyone else like her.  She's the kindest person I know.  Really.  She is kind to everybody."

Which was funny because just the night before Mal was talking about people who are nice when it's convenient and easy for them and makes them look good instead of as a trait that they aspire and work toward on a regular basis.

Every year after the recital we take a picture.  Maggie (the documenter of our family) insists on it.  I am grateful that she does and that we have these memories.  I am also grateful that, as hard and expensive as it was for us to pay for it, that we have had the chance to educate our kids in order for them to pursue what they love.

But mostly I am grateful that when they go about pursuing those passions they remember that being kind is a daily sort of thing.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

We're All Here

It might be a little early to trash talk 2016, but so far it has been out to give us a run for the money.  And by "run for the money" I mean we need to RUN for some money.

To date....

*We have had a repairman out three times for the furnace

*Had fraudulent charges on our credit card

*Broke a crown eating a granola bar

*Temporary on said crown fell off after a week.  Returned to dentist to get sealed on again.  Resealed temporary lasted two days

*Downstairs toilet tank decided to stopped filling with water

*Husband gets put on committee at work to discuss pay cuts for entire department

*Looming tax bill

It's been a little hard to keep a perky attitude when every time we turn around there are fistfuls of money flying out the door.

When talking complaining to the very pregnant Maggie carrying the newest addition to the family, she said, "Mom, we're all here and we're all fine, right?  Isn't that what you always say?  That as long as that's true everything else will be okay."

From the mouths of babies carrying babies comes a precious little pearl.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Keep Your Rope Taut

My mom doesn't like water.  As a kid I have no memory of her getting into a pool or lake with us.  Sweating and miserable in the blistering heat of her least favorite season, she would sit on the edge of the neighbor's pool and put no more than her feet in to cool off.  Her showers are legendary in their briefness. "I only let the water splash my face," she says as if we all wanted tips on ways to make a shower last no longer than five minutes.

What is also legendary about her aquatic history is how she got up on water skis the very first time, went around the circumference of a lake and never fell in.

Whenever the story comes up we are all amazed.  "Mom, do you have any idea how hard it is to get up on skis the first time?  It's almost impossible," we always tell her.

"What can I say," she says as nonchalantly as what Esther Williams might have said about synchronizing her way around a pool with a fruit bowl on her head.  "I didn't know how to swim.  I wasn't about to fall into that lake."


In the throes of a nasty political season that has a year to go, and the waning days of The Dismal Season, it seems like everyone I know is either depressed, tired, frustrated, sick, or utterly bored.  Even the Super Bowl isn't generating much enthusiasm. 

Coldplay?  Okay, I guess...... but then what?

Valentine's Day?  The new year awkwardly lurches from dismal to rosy disappointment, and without more than a dusting of snow around here there isn't even a blanket to cover up the gray.  Bare trees, bare, grass, bare gardens.  If it were possible to buy my way out of this grayness I would but that requires effort and that's as well hidden as the sun. 

What would I buy anyhow? 

I bought some fabric.  2.5 yards which is probably 1.5 more than I need but I didn't want to be short and have to go out in the cold again.  I'm going to recover the seat of the wicker bench that's on the back porch.  It will be navy this year and I may sew some new pillows.  Lots of color is about to go out there.  Vibrant, in-your-face color.  Our dinners will be on the little bistro set and when it gets dark I'll turn on the garden lights tucked into the eaves.  The crab sign will remind us of Maryland and Mark and I will talk for the thousandth time about The Crab Shack - the hole in the wall restaurant we could walk to from our townhouse.  We will pine for brown paper tablecloths, little mallets and salty air. 

Until then my twelve dollar purchase and a new project is the reward for keeping my rope taut for awhile longer.   I don't know how to swim in the waning days of winter and I don't care to learn.  

And falling in isn't an option.