My husband and I are attempting to buy a new house. We’re actually planning to sell our old dream house for a new dream house – bigger, fancier, with more stuff. Potential buyers are walking through my wonderful house at this very minute, looking at my life, judging my housekeeping, making comments about what they like and what they don’t; what should be changed and what shouldn’t. I feel like I’ve opened my private life up to the world – vulnerable. I’ve made my home an object of criticism.
My house has been a wonderful house for us – we’ve raised five kids there in the last thirteen years (with two still to finish raising, and all the grandkids). It’s a great kid house, with a big yard, and a big circle drive that acts as a raceway for a multitude of bicycles, skateboards, and scooters. My kids don’t want to leave – they say that house contains their childhood memories. They love their house. They don’t even want to put new carpet in for fear it will change their world.
Of course, that’s what my older kids said when we moved there from our first house. But they soon learned to love it – to leave the old in their memory banks, and make room for the new. As I look into her tear-filled eyes, I tell my daughter that all things change – nothing can ever stay the same. Even if we didn’t move , we’d still remodel, and it would look different. She, and all the kids, will always have their special memories. The memories aren’t attached to the house – they’re embedded in their brains forever.
So why do I feel like I’m trading a fat, old, ugly relative in for a younger, thinner, prettier one? Why do I feel like I’m betraying an important part of the family? I never expected to feel this way. But I do. Even in my dreams.
Hopefully, the next family who lives here will appreciate our house as much as we do. It is, was, and always will be the greatest.
And hopefully our next house will be just as great.
It’s great to have gotten through the terrible two’s, the know-it-all teen years, and most of the angst your kids suffered while they were growing up. You now have grown children whom you’re proud of – they have their own problems to deal with, but they’re THEIR problems. Not ours.
And that’s one thing we parents have to learn when dealing with grown children:
MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!
Or, in simpler terms:
M Y O B!!!!
(Unless of course they need help, and then they’re usually more than willing, even happy and enthusiastic, to accept handouts and help out of their jams).
Hey – if any of my kids are reading this – DON’T WORRY: it’s not YOU! (It’s the “OTHER” one).
(Note to parents: Kind of like telling each of your kids on the sly that they’re your favorite, but to keep it a secret!).
Kids – gotta love ‘em!!
Have you ever experienced the not-so-strange phenomenon of being vastly different from your other family members but still being expected to fit in and all get along and be happy?
Surely not you too???
Well, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been the square peg in my family. One sister, my brother, and my mother are three peas in a pod – they stick together through hell or high water. And that would normally be a very good thing…unless someone not like them – - LIKE ME – - has an opinion that they disagree with. Then I AM WRONG!! No ifs, ands, or buts about it. And not only am I wrong, I am WRONG AND MEAN! MEAN, MEAN, MEAN!
And the other sister is just totally out there – - WAY OUT THERE. My thinking is so totally different from hers, I guess it was a miracle, or a major genetic mistake that we’re in the same species, much less the same family.
Well, how is this to be handled? I’m not normally one to observe, then just sit back and shut up. If I see something that doesn’t make sense, or isn’t right, or isn’t fair, I’m going to say something about it. And of course if it involves one of the three peas, or the satellite orbitting in the far reaches of space, then I’m in big trouble.
Shouldn’t anything ever be said about honesty? After all, I AM the oldest. Isn’t that my job?
Well, sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not sure there is a solution. I guess one way to fix it would be to stay away from family functions. Or I guess I could just always keep my mouth shut (probably an impossibility). So, how can this be dealt with?
I guess the only thing to do is suffer through those family get-togethers, smiling when you might not want to smile, and gritting teeth when you really want to tell someone they’re acting like a moron.
What’s your suggestion?
Oh well, that does it for my therapeutic venting for the day. Thanks for listening. I’m off to find some acting classes!
Today my grandson would have been nine years old. It’s hard to believe it’s been nine years. Two days after her seventeenth birthday, my daughter gave birth to her first baby – a stillborn. A horrible thing for any mother to go through, but especially a teenage girl.
She hadn’t felt the baby move in two days, and the sugary intake of orange juice didn’t wake him up. We went to the hospital, and the sonogram we saw on the huge monitor of the huge machine confirmed everyone’s worst fears. There was a baby, but no heartbeat. Everything was still and silent. No kicks, no flutters. Only stillness, and dread, and despair.
My daughter still had to go through labor. How tragic to go through the extreme pain only to be rewarded with the stillness that comes from babies who aren’t breathing; those that don’t ever gaze into your eyes and know you’re their mom. There was no excited expectation that night; only sorrow and dread for the day ahead.
When he was finally born, he weighed almost five pounds. I was the first to take him. We wrapped Matthew in a blanket, just like a living baby, and held him in the hospital all day. Rocking him, and cooing at him, and wishing he were breathing and crying. Wishing he were full of life and not death. We took pictures, and named him, and baptized him. Giving him all the honor and respect that we would have had he survived the journey of birth. Some might find this morbid, but we found it necessary.
When he wasn’t being held, his swaddled form was placed in a hospital bassinet filled with ice under the blankets. So we would be able to keep his small form there with us just a little bit longer. So that he could physically stay in our presence just a little bit more. But later that evening, it was finally time to say goodbye.
We gave the funeral home things we wanted to be buried with him. Things that would normally accompany a new baby into the crib at home; instead finding their way into a tiny casket, which would be carried into the church two days later by his parents.
He was buried in the Garden of Angels section of the cemetery, with the other babies that had gone on to be cherubs. We said poems and prayers. And we again said goodbye.
His mother had a small box filled with keepsakes, not needing them to remember, just to keep as she would if he had survived. But this would be the only thing she had left of him. That box, and her memories. For a long, long time she visited his grave every day.
The way our family understood life and death changed on that day. We then understood that as long as there wasn’t death, anything was possible. Anything was fixable. Anything could be dealt with. Anything was better than the alternative. We later survived many terrible times with the understanding that Matthew gave us. We learned a lot during that terrible weekend. And that was the weekend we started being a true family. Anything was possible; anything was fixable. As long as there was life, and not death.
Thank you, Matthew, for the gifts you brought to us that day – April 14, 2000. Happy Birthday!
What can I say – I tried really, really hard to be more of a “partyer” this New Years (at least for the sake of my younger kids, who like to stand on the front porch and bang pots and pans at midnight while drinking sparkling cider fake champagne. I went home from work (via the grocery store) and snagged an hour nap – my preparation for a night of wild and crazy carousing waiting for midnight to roll around.
On our way to dinner, my husband told me that he’d had a New Year’s revelation during the day. I anticipated that he was going to tell me of a soul-searching issue he had been contemplating, finally coming to a decision. Well, my high hopes for something inspirational were good and all that, but he announced that he’s finally come to a decision about what to do with the back yard. Wow that was a mind-blower!!
Dinner consisted of our family of fifteen (half of them kids) crammed into a private room, which was especially good for keeping the little “runners” at bay. After scarfing down a good supply of comfort food (chicken-fried chicken and cream gravy – yum), it was time to hit the road toward home. I was wearing more of my grandson’s food that he managed to get into his mouth – launching edible missiles his favorite dinnertime activity. Oh well, I didn’t need clean pants anyway.
I was determined to make it to midnight – I think I can, I think I can – my mantra every New Year’s Eve. 10:15 and counting…
I got home and broke out the sparkling cider fake champagne for the kids, complete with plastic fluted glasses. And it dawned on me – I’d forgotten to buy the requisite black-eyed peas. I searched my pantry and freezer high and low for the little buggers, even looked through the bag of 15-bean soup, but couldn’t find not a one. Had I just doomed my family to a year of misery? Oh well, I decided that at least my kids could legitimately blame their bad luck on their mother. Giving them a scapegoat was a pretty good New Year’s gift, I thought.
My lids were growing heavy – the champagne I’d bought in the hopes of revelry still sitting in my fridge. Comfy bed or champagne? Comfy bed or champagne???? Countdown – 11:00 PM.
Yep, I chose the comfy bed. I apologized to my eleven-year-old daughter for having such boring parents, and she said it was OK. Of course she then told me that the better answer would have been to disagree with me, but … the truth is the truth!
My seven-year-old crashed at 11:30. One down.
Then at 11:56, between drifting in and out of consciousness, I called to my daughter, and asked if she wanted to go to the front porch to ring in the New Year with pots and pans (our normal celebration of choice). But lo and behold, she said she was too tired. Two down. That was my signal…
Yep – you guessed it. I think I fell asleep at 11:59. Without champagne. Without drunken revelry. Without participating in the expected New Year’s hooplah. But I had a contented sleeping family safely tucked away, and what more could a middle-aged woman ask for?
So Happy New Year to all, and to all a good night!