The autumnal equinox is on September 22nd this year, officially ushering in the fall season. As a Floridian, I’m more than a little happy potentially cooler, dryer days will replace the stifling days of summer. So it seems odd to be writing about a holiday, 4 months hence, namely, Mother’s Day.
As long as I have a memory, May 11th, 2014 will be indelibly imprinted on my heart. I have been known to mope on Mother’s Day succumbing to the Mother’s Day Blues on that Hallmark holiday. My daughter lives in Baltimore, my son and daughter in law in Chicago so it is is a rarity for me to actually be even in the same room with them on Mother’s Day. My kids are wonderful about calling, face timing, and sending treats but it is not the same as having them across the dinner table. But this Mother’s Day was different.
As the day was concluding around 8ish in the evening, David and Katie facetimed me. Expecting them to chide me about my whiny “I’ve Got the Mother’s Day Blues” blog post earlier in the day, I was surprised to find two giggly 31 year looking like they had just swallowed a couple of canaries. David loves teasing out the punch line so in an understated way, he said they were calling with a bit of news. I couldn’t imagine what it might be. They were married last December; my son received his Ph.D. last fall. Naively I thought, what possible milestone remains? “We took a test and it looks like we are pregnant” they declared. I’m not sure I realized I was screaming for what must have been a minute. Now it was my turn to be fidgety and giggly. Months of ultra sounds and doctor’s visits reassured them about viability (I actually can’t stand that word used in conjunction with my future grandchild). Two weeks ago they posted this photo on their facebook page to share the news about their baby girl to be. They intend to name her Maya Rose. Thinking back to that momentous Mother’s Day moment I realize my children gave me a rose for Mother’s Day. What could be more beautiful.
I somehow have assumed the role of Exercise Czar in my family. I nag, cajole, and coax my husband into regular exercise regiments. I seem to have anointed myself the omniscient judge of what constitutes exercise. Like a virtual Ouija Board or crystal ball, I answer, “Yes, sweeping counts as exercise.” Or “No, ambling doesn’t count.”
We were vacationing in Chicago this summer where our son, daughter in law and two grand-dogs reside. The day we flew in we drove to Millennium Park where we rendezvoused with my son. David is a psychologist whose entire day is segmented into 50 minute blocks of time. Our reunion consisted of a quick kiss, a “Mom will you buy me a sandwich?” and a “Come back in 50 minutes for a 10 minute visit.” We spent the better part of 2 hours hustling back and forth to 8 S. Michigan Avenue for the privilege of spending 20 minutes of quality time. (It was well worth it ).
Once I was assured my 31 year old had sufficient sustenance, we walked down the street to the Art Institute to see a Rene Magritte special exhibition. Following a two hour tour, coupled with our 2 hours of hustling from parking garage to lunch spots to offices, I looked at my husband and said, “I think this counts as exercise”.
I’m sitting on the sofa in our beach condo. August, 2014 is the 20th anniversary of owning this condo in beautiful New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Our beach place has been a sanctuary for my husband and me, a place only 60 minutes from our full time residence but oceans away from problems and anxieties. The sea breezes manage to penetrate the schedules, to-do lists, and deadlines that live inside overworked brains. Concurrent with the joy, however, are the pangs of guilt over owning a place encroaching on the habitats of wildlife and contributing to beach erosion. (The joy has obviously trumped the guilt considering our longevity here.)
As I sit on this sofa I remember it once inhabited our Maitland house (permanent residence). That is what happens to the furniture in our lives- it transitions. When we bought our red leather sectional, this saffron sofa, festooned with foliage and blue piping, was hauled down the highway to our beach home. The former furniture here swapped geographies ending up in our son’s Winter Park art studio. It’s funny how furniture can tell the story of our lives, tangible mile markers. The rocking chair currently occupying our beach bedroom was bought when my son David fractured his kidney on a playground in the second grade. I spent so much time in one at his hospital bedside I wanted a rocker for home. My son just turned 31 and married last December, moving his own life to Chicago. Now, accompanied by the lulling sound of the ocean, the chair is used to rock my grandson to sleep- another mile marker in my life.
Living room at beach condo
This has been the most incredible week I’ve experienced in a very long time (and I’ve been around for more than 3,000 weeks). On December 19th my step son and his wife had a baby boy, their first, and our first grandchild, Austin Vaughn. Two days later my son and his soon-to-be bride (and two dogs) arrived on our doorstep from Chicago, beginning a week of wedding festivities. Christmas fell in the middle of this week bringing along its myriad of hubbub. Each day brought new guests to stay in my modest home– the wedding officiant, brother of the bride, maid of honor…and did I mention with my 2 dogs and my son’s 2 dogs, there were 4 dogs running around. It was a crazy, incredibly fun time. In addition to stuffing gift bags, making the wedding cake, trips to the pediatrician, wrapping presents, manicures, hair and make-up, there was that post-rehearsal dinner beer pong party in my back yard until 3am. There will be more posts to follow on this topic but suffice it to say, the most adorable baby boy is now a part of our family. The sweetest ceremony gave me the most wonderful daughter-in-law I could have ever imagined.
So much to be grateful for as I enter this new year.
This is a two-part blog post related to the fact I turned 60 last month. I find that fact almost incomprehensible. I’ve lived fully and forever, but wasn’t I just 40 a couple of years ago? 60 is definitely a milestone birthday. Frankly I’m not sure why every birthday isn’t a milestone birthday. Birthdays serve as yardsticks, measuring where we are and where we’ve come from. It’s funny how we have assigned the most significance to decade birthdays. But, like the rest of society, I’ll give this decade birthday its due.
I’ve been yardsticking (yes, that is officially now a verb) the amount of love I have in my life as compared to my younger years. I’m a little stunned by the outpouring of love and affection my friends and family have demonstrated. The blog post immediately preceding this one was written by my friend and Be Brave. Lose the Beige business partner, Jackie. I’ve probably read it 20 times, more and more awed each time by her description of me as an “angel on earth”.
My friends Susan and Suzan whisked my husband and me away on an all expense paid weekend retreat at a Ritz Carlton. The lunches, spa treatments, cards, facebook posts, and gifts from dear friends, family, and my 20 year poker pals have made me feel rich in so many ways.
So, in spite of the “Sixty Sucks” mug made for me by my dear friend, Suzi, the six decade notches on my yardstick measure wealth well beyond what I could have imagined as a 20 or 30 year old- that of the love from fabulous friends and family.
60th Birthday Party
Susan, Suzan and Liz in Amelia Island
I’m honored and delighted to have my article published in Boomer Cafe’s online magazine today. Check it out-http://www.boomercafe.com/many-baby-boomers-rarely-stop-nurturing-their-children/
I spent time this summer with a young woman with whom I have developed a very close relationship (I’m hoping she will be my future daughter-in-law). Katie is exceptionally intelligent. She has two masters degrees in psychology and has just finished her Ph.D. course work. Her life (and my son’s) is a bit in flux right now as they work to finish their doctoral programs.
Katie got bit by the puppy bug this summer. She fell in love with a labradoodle puppy the breeder had named “Pink Collar Girl”. There were more reasons not to buy this puppy than there were in favor of buying her. Labradoodle puppies are not cheap; she already has a six year old labradoodle, so sibling rivalry could be an issue; she and my son were soon to return to a studio apartment in Phoenix, Arizona. So, yes, there were so many reasons not to get the puppy, and family and friends around her did not hesitate to offer discouraging advice on the subject. As I noticed her slightly saddened face one afternoon as she succumbed to the logical arguments against the potential adoption, I offered the following observation… there are people in this world who say no to things. And, it’s often hard to argue with their logic, as generally, their reasoning is correct. Then there are those who tend to say yes to things, often allowing their hearts to guide their decision making. “No” people can be a little intimidating to “Yes” people as they are often quite righteous about their opinions.
Katie ultimately decided against purchasing the puppy. And perhaps that was the wise decision. My husband and I bought a sister litter mate of Pink Collar Girl. We have spent the past few weeks engaged in non-stop puppy pooping talk. We are more than a little sleep deprived, but it is so worth it. We are hopelessly in love with our Jozy.
Be Brave, Lose the Beige (the name of this blog) is about saying yes when the world around us says no. I choose to be a yes person. I hope you will join me.