Thursday, October 8, 2015

Promises Again

This is the same story as told in: "It's Been Five Days Since You Left, But We're Still Here and You're Not and It Is So Quiet."  But, I sought help from Kevin McGeehan and this is how it evolved. I just wanted to put it out into the world beyond the one storytelling event I was brave enough to enter. Which was my event. I produced it. So, not really all that brave.

A different take on the same event:

When my daughter was 10 days old, I promised I would never leave her. 18 years later as I stood in her dorm room, I’m about to break that promise.

There are six of us in this tiny space: proud grandparents, anxious parents, Hannah-the-Freshman, and Talia-the-supportive-little-sister who is singlehandedly organizing what appears to be a closet. Everyone is shoving “necessary” items wherever they could fit, except for me. Overwhelmed by debilitating fear I was rendered useless in this chaotic room. I just stood clutching my favorite pair of Hannah’s shoes. All motherly devotion had been irrationally transferred onto these shoes. My crushing heartbreak was mostly repressed until Hannah’s new roommate, Christine, pitched into the room, drunk. No longer was this a room of sweet chaos, it was a stunned room of Christine’s boobs spilling out of her tiny tank top and white cheeks peeking from the bottom of her shorts.

Christine squealed “HANNAH!!!” and lunged forward on her stiletto’s to give Hannah an insincere hug.

I backed against the desk clutching the precious shoes. Christine was the embodiment of every parental nightmare: a partying freshman roommate.

Not knowing what to do, I did what I do best. I froze. This was not my first time lost in motherhood.

When Hannah was a week old she got an audition for a commercial from my husband’s agent. At the time we were actor’s living in L.A. Hannah booked the job and at ten days old shot a national commercial.

She was fabulous during the casting; alert, quiet. Perfect. On the day of the shoot though, she wouldn’t stop screaming. I didn’t know what to do, so I just stood there, frozen, listening to her cry and wincing at every dirty look from…everyone.

After what felt like a few years had passed, the director called to “remove the crier” and a disgusted assistant director handed her over. I grabbed her, ran out and begged her to forgive me. I didn’t rescue her. I’m the Mom and I blew it. When her gasping sobs stopped, I held her out to look at her scrunched up little face. I swear she smiled at me. I stopped breathing for a second. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. “I promise I will never leave you.” I swore this would be my last mistake as Mom.

18 years of mistakes later, the day has come to move out of her childhood home into her freshman dorm. On the sidewalk in front of our house a sobbing Hannah could not let go of Andrew, the-stunned-soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend. About to attend universities in separate states, it didn’t look good for the long run.

Hannah and Andrew dated during senior year and, of course, he asked her to the prom. Hannah bought her dress with her own money, a sparkling, soft pink, strapless gown. It cost four times what I was willing to pay for a prom dress.

I paid for the shoes, and because Andrew is not tall, Hannah, in a shocking turn from her usual death defying high heels, was determined to wear flats. We found a pair of Steve Madden sandals with rhinestones imbedded in clear plastic straps and a beige plastic sole. They looked pretty cheap in the box. But when she put them on the clear plastic straps disappeared and the sparkles wrapped  around her feet as if held on by magic. They were the most beautiful shoes I’ve ever seen.

I borrowed them once and even my gnarly old feet looked beautiful.  For a moment Hannah and I shared these pretty, pretty shoes. In a moment I must relinquish the girl and her memory of the promise of a sweet dance in beautiful shoes with a handsome boy.

Back in the dorm room the shoes seem cemented in my fist. The perfect place to leave them didn’t exist. Christine might want to borrow them. Christine could ruin the shoes.  

Of the two girls who are about to live in this dorm, I love one so very much, but I relate to one of them so much more.  I was Christine when I was 18. I knew this enemy. It used to be me.

Okay, new plan: throw a bag over Hannah’s head, push her into the car, go home, make popcorn and watch all ten seasons of Friends. She cannot spend a year with the slut on stilts.

Without having looked at anyone other than Hannah, Christine slurred “Nice to meet you” to the room in general and was gone as fast as she came.

Watching Christine leave I realized I had little control over this situation. I probably never had control over any situation ever. Because I am only Mom. Not God.

18 years ago I had no idea she would be the one to leave.

I stepped on the printer to climb over the mini-refrigerator and sat next to her on the long, single bed. I reluctantly handed her our pretty, pretty shoes. “Please. Stay. Strong.  Do not lend these to Christine. I would like to see them again.” Hannah just laughed, “Mom, the shoes and I can both stand up to Christine.”

Our time was almost up. “If you ever need anything Hannah, you can always come crying to me. I’m think I'm ready for you now. “

Out in parking lot the proud grandparents drove away first. The sobbing, mascara stained sisters clung to each other as our existing world changed forever. There was nothing my husband and I could do to ease their pain. We could only stand aside and watch. Eventually he and Talia drove away leaving me alone with Hannah.

What I wanted to say to my pair of beautiful girls was, “I promise I will learn to let you go.”

What I actually said was “Take your vitamins and be gentle when you break up with Andrew.”

College, it’s the real world transition for the parents, not just the kids.

Shoes pictured are not actual size. Or the actual pair mentioned in post. Just really pretty and very similar to aforementioned sandals.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

No Promises

I have time to write at the moment. I read through previous blog posts so I don't repeat myself - too much. I came across this piece and thought it might be worth re-visiting. 

It is now edited a little and it comes with a question: 

Is there anyone else who, despite the terror of being tied down, made the decision to get married and have children and realized you looked fear/phobia in the eye, and replied "yes" instead of "I don't know" and now your life is better because the word "yes" or "okay" was said out loud?

Please leave me a comment if this is you. Even if it isn't. I'd love to hear any story.  I have time to read it and reply. Maybe it will be inspiring to look back at your life and find something good came from sticking to a choice. 

No Promises
(first published in 2011)

I have commitment issues. 

I can’t even spell commitment. Spell check has fixed it every time I’ve written it. Which is exactly 2 times as of this writing. Spell check fixes imperfect thought patterns - doesn't it?

The mere confrontation by another person just to set a date with me (and I do view it as a confrontation) invokes an immediate back pedaling deep in my soul.

At first an invitation has promise and hope, so I want to reply; “Yes, I’d love to meet for lunch or marry you or circle the globe.” But the inevitable fear induced answer is said instead. “I’ll check my schedule and get back to you… However, my schedule is not available at the moment.” Loosely translated this means, “I don’t know if I’ll feel like doing that then.”

If I agree to a lunch date, I may not be able to make the 8 other places I’ve sort of committed to already. There are no small decisions. Each act must be weighed carefully so to avoid as much regret as possible.

When I replied "okay" to my husbands marriage proposal it was a hesitant, shaky, wimpy answer. Which really meant: I can answer with a confident yes after we’ve been married and had two children who make it to their teens. I’ll know then. Maybe. But, a couple of questions first – IF I marry you, will your kisses still make my knees tremble next year? Will you still want me when the biggest choice of my day is to tuck my boobs into my pants or throw them over my shoulder? Will I want you sleeping right next to me every single night? Will there be no other men? Ever?

I’ve been married to a wonderful, strong, caring man for 21 years because some very wise friends told me he was the best man they knew. They were right - which I realized on the honeymoon and most, if not all, of the days since.

No one has ever asked me to circle the globe with them. I would need to check my schedule before I replied "Yeah, no. But thanks."

I go kicking and screaming into anything that’s good for me: marriage, child-bearing, roughage. But I willingly and easily jump into anything that isn’t, for exp: I moved to NYC when I was 23 with $200 in my pocket and that is all the money I had to my name. I easily choose wine and Fritos for dinner over, say, a salad. Laying comatose on the couch watching The Big Bang Theory while having wine and Fritos seems a good use of time. 

And obviously, flirting is more exciting than promises-well, duh....

Maybe it's really the choice of fun versus lifelong healthy goals that's the issue. Not committment. (I CANNOT spell that word!) (Why can't spell check spell it either? Does everyone, including computer applications, have this same issue?)

WHY do I run from people and healthy food and a secure future? Only guessing, but I think it may be because I'm a product of the sixties. I just want to be free - to go back to a world before commitments, before life as I know it - back to before - when there were no promises to keep.

I do not have a full time job – I have 8 part-time jobs. Full time seems like such a lot of time in one place....I have 20 ex-boyfriends, 1 husband, 2 daughters, 3 pets and I’m 52 (it has been 5 years since I wrote this. I'm not 52 anymore. Time went on and I haven't changed). I’ve committed somewhere – or at least should be...I have been married for 21 years and the daughters are still living. (Yay me!?)

Maybe it's a good sign I know I’m flaky and scared. I have not ended up alone. I show up when I make a lunch date. I'm late, but I do show up eventually. I have love. And spell check. I have promises I made and will eventually keep. Maybe even before the compelling deep in my soul to skip freely away – wins.

My knees still tremble at the promise and commitment in my husband’s voice-and in his kisses-maybe he’s my spell check. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

5 A's and a C

5 A's and a C. Her grades for the final semester of her freshman year in college. 6 classes. All of them academic with deep, theoretical, thought provoking concepts. Well except for 1 unit of modern dance. For which she ran in circles and rolled on the floor to achieve her A. Actually, I guess that can be thought provoking.

5 A's. And what is the question everyone asks?

What's up with the C?

I didn't have to ask. I knew. Thank God I knew. Because that means I asked throughout the semester and listened and remembered the answer.

I really thought English or Critical Cultural Concepts was gonna be the kicker. But, no. It was the subject that was easy in high school.

So this means there were 6 surprises for this first year away from home. 6 that I know of any way.

1) She finished her first year with 35 credits and a 3.9 something GPA. (I could not have done this.)

b) She didn't leave college to marry her high school love.

3) She didn't fall apart when she had every opportunity to cave. We had the roughest issues with our family this year that no one knew how to handle, and she had to handle them alone in a dorm room shared with well, let's just say, a roommate who came to college for the extended party, not the thought provoking concepts. As well as surgery on her toe the first week of the year at the student health center (Oh Dear God this was terrifying! and she said quite painful), a break-up with the boyfriend she didn't marry...and there's even an, etc or two.

4) Not really so much a surprise as a welcome unveiling, it turns out that so far, she is a determined, hard-working, sensitive, strong woman.

5) Everyone, except me, asked about her C grade before they congratulated her on getting 5 A's. (Yay me!) (It's the only "Yay me!" I'm allowing myself this year.)

6) The C was in Math. Apparently, it was harder than expected.

She is happily home now with a tremendous sense of humor about the C in math.

Home for only a minute before she leaves to volunteer with International Student Volunteers on an Elephant preserve and teach the poorest kids in a rural community in Thailand.

She sounds too good to be true. She is!


Her floor here has disappeared under enough clothes to cover all of the poorest in the rural communities in Thailand and none of them are clean.

I don't believe she has eaten a vegetable since last August. I was hoping she would gain the "Freshman 35" but, she adamantly disagreed and only gained 5 lbs.

She seems to have inherited from me an instinct to watch romantic comedies as priority over anything else.

Well, and, of course, there's the C in Math.

And I'm sure 1000 other idiosyncrasies and questionable behavior I have thankfully missed.

All of it: her living, her love of life, her desire to help, her C, are all...Grace.

I still believe God gave me children to increase my prayer life. My knees are worn-out and the time spent there has been worth all the moments in-between and hopefully yet to come.

If you would love to help my idealistic Hannah on her journey to start saving the world - here's a link that will inspire you to do so!!