I think I’m getting the hang of this

 

It’s my birthday today.  I’ve been around the sun 53 times.

And I’ve been writing this blog for two full years now.

 

For those of you who have been with me from the beginning (or nearly), thank you for sticking with me.  For those of you who are relatively new, I hope you’ve had a chance to read past posts to see where we’ve been,  and enjoy them enough to go along for a ride.

As you’ll have read by now, my son is graduating from high school next week, and leaves for university mid-August… it’s gonna be a brand new ballgame.

I hope you’ll stay with me as I begin this new chapter of my life — empty-nesting is best done with the company of others, I’ve been told.  And, besides sending Z off to college, I’ll continue sharing here all manner of things, as well as keeping you posted on new ventures I’m jumping into this year.

To give you an idea of who else is stopping by to read with you, 85% are women, 15% are men.  Most of you are between the ages of 45 and 54, with healthy representation by folks who are between 35-44 and 55-64 years old.

Most of my readers live here in the USA, but Italians are close behind!  Ireland and Canada are tied after that, with the United Kingdom and Greenland following closely.  Readers from Scandinavia, France, and as far away as New Zealand stop in frequently to read.  The Philippines, China, and Singapore are well-represented, as are Puerto Rico, Mexico, Morocco, Luxembourg, Indonesia, Egypt, and Australia; and your native languages total 20 now.

 

But people from all over can relate in some way to a person in Chicago-land.  And that’s what this Life is all about my Friends:  Connecting here on Earth.

 

Cheers to many more years of making those connections, Friends ~sig with heart

For my son on his 16th birthday

Dear Z-Bear,

Here we are.

16th birthdayI’ll bet you thought you’d never get here — the big ONE SIX.  DRIVER’S LICENSE AGE!!!  Woohoo!!!  (that’s me — you go ahead and make whatever sound you want).  A junior in high school.  Looking seriously at colleges, trying to imagine yourself living somewhere else, on your own.  Pretty heady stuff, isn’t it?

It is for me, too.

In just a while, we’ll pick you up from camp.  I will be jaw-droppingly shocked at how much you’ve grown — not just in inches, but in self-confidence and how comfortable you are in your own skin.  It happens every year.  Besides your kindness, I am most proud of how you are able to fit in to almost any situation and still maintain your sense of You-ness.

And You are pretty remarkable.  Really!  You’re one of the most interesting people I know.  I love You.  I admire You.  I like You.  And I am really, really proud of You.

Those wings you’ve been practicing with over the last couple of years are growing strong, and soon they’ll take you where you need to be for the next chapter of your life.  Don’t worry: they WILL be strong enough.  I know sometimes it might not feel like it, but they will be.  There might be some crash landings in your near future, but nothing that will stop you from picking yourself up, dusting off, and launching again.  You are resilient.  It’s not only because that’s how I’ve raised you, but because that’s who you are.

Some of the things you’ve had to endure so young aren’t fair.  Frankly, they sucked.  You were hurt and let down more often than a lot of adults ever are in their whole lives.  And it hurt me to know I wasn’t able to protect you from it all.

But you did something remarkable for someone so young: you prevailed through it all, and tried to protect me.

You are amazing.

tribeAnd guess what?  You’ll find others like you, others you never knew existed.  And you’ll form your own tribe.  And you’ll learn from each other, and try new things, and find comfort in the “me too” that you’ll hear from each other.  Your tribe will be the people your turn to in need, in happiness, in commiseration, and when you just need to hang out.  These are the people you’ll miss most when it’s time for you all to fly on to the next thing.

You’ll find injustices that make you scream and shout, that will make you cry, because your heart is that tender and that caring.  Not only because that’s how I’ve raised you, but because that’s who you are.

You’ll find your passion in your studies, and in your life.  Whether it’s exactly what you think that will be today, or whether you come upon it by accident in your first years away from home.  You’ll find it.  And I want you to hold on to it and remember the feeling you have as you discover more about it — how exciting and remarkable it is.  Carry that with you, because there will be days when something will cause your day to be boring or repetitive or very, very hard.  Bad things will happen.  Things that will make your heart hurt. But there will be so many more good and wonderful things that will make your heart so happy, I promise!

Then, when something has you down, remember how lovely and exciting it CAN be and WILL be again.  Life really is too short to be stuck doing something you don’t like when you have the opportunity to change it.  Promise me you won’t be afraid to make a change if it’s needed.  Don’t be afraid to stand up and say “this isn’t for me” if you’ve truly tried to make it work.  Take responsibility for your actions.  Not just because that’s how I’ve raised you, but because that’s who you are.

Love.  As a verb.  Go ahead — love your heart out.  Love people, love pets, love books, love music, love tennis, love what you do, love the sunrise and sunset, love the stars, love your family — all of it.  Will your heart get broken at some point?  Yes (if it doesn’t, I don’t think you’re doing it right).  But it is so very true that loving and losing is better than never having loved at all.  Trust me.  Really.  I promise.

Yes, I hope you dance.  And sing.  And study hard.  And play hard.  I hope you are HAPPY in whatever you do.  I hope you find exactly what it is you will be looking for, at every step of the way.  Mostly I hope you enjoy the search — wherever it takes you, whether it’s right around the corner or halfway across the world.  Enjoy the ride.  Take lots of pictures, but don’t forget to put down the camera and be a PART of the scene.  You’ll remember the trip, I promise.  But you can’t remember what you don’t do.

Life is made of moments, big and small.  The small ones are just as important as the big ones — sometimes more so.  I know right now the big ones — like turning 16 — are at the top of your mind.  They are, after all, the “big” markers along the journey to let you know you’ve arrived at a ‘next’ point along the way.

gratefulI have to be honest:  you’re not what I expected — because I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Being your Mom is so much better than I ever dreamed!  I love being your Mom.  There is NEVER a dull moment with you in my life — not because it’s all craziness, but because you are so interesting!  Have there been moments in our lives together that I’ve thought “Oh my gosh, ANYwhere but here!”?  Of course.  Any parent would be lying if they said every moment was great.  But I am truly grateful for you, and so happy you are my child.

word cloudBe grateful.  Be gracious.  Be smart.  Be healthy.  Be kind.  Be You.  The best You possible, all along the way.  Not just because that’s the way I’ve tried so hard to raise you, but because I know that’s who you are.

Always and forever.

Mama Bear

 

Until Tuesday, Friends.  Cheers!

 

 

 

 

Are we there yet?

Well friends, here we are!

On this, my 51st birthday, I would like to thank you all for following me here!  I felt that launching on my birthday was a gift to myself I’d always remember and I am grateful you are all here to celebrate with me.

I hope in the following weeks and months to come that you enjoy these posts; that some of them will resonate; that you’ll leave me a comment; that you’ll want to share with others; or maybe one of them will just give you a good chuckle for the day.

So without further ado:  I feel like I’ve forgotten something….

 

I keep waiting.IMG_0897

One of these days, someone from the birthday police is going to track me down and say “We’re terribly sorry,” (and I always hear it in an uppercrusty English accent) “but you’re not really as old as you think you are.” And I look at my driver’s license, and suddenly I see The Math has been all wrong all this time, and I’m NOT as many years old as the bad, faulty Math led me to believe (I also get bonus happy points because in this scenario, The MATH is wrong which is a total 180 from our usual relationship).

It’s not that I had a problem with 30, 40, 50, or even 51 (we’ll see how the rest of the decade shakes out; I’ll keep you posted). But in my head, well, I’m just not old enough to be in my 50s.

I’m not sure when The Math first started going wrong. I remember thinking – briefly – when Z was born “Am I really old enough (ie, responsible enough?) to have this little person entrusted to me?” I was (only) 35. And it was only a brief thought because, well, then ‘being a Mom’ happened and I haven’t had time to have a longer, more leisurely thought since, unless I hide in the bathroom or the walk-in closet (although the cats have discovered me there, and if you have cats, you know there’s no time for yourself, only for them). But every now and then, there are moments in time that I think “I can’t possibly be this old…right?”

Moments such as:

-When you stop being carded.

-When staying out past 10pm is enough to throw you off all the next day (remember when you could stay out with friends until 2am and still function just fine at work?).

-The first morning you wake up and something/everything hurts – and you didn’t even have a good time getting that way.

-When your doctor is suddenly younger than you.

-You get called “Ma’am” (does “Sir” bother men as much?)

-When you look at your child’s homework and think “they just aren’t teaching it the way they used to” – and you hear it in your grandpa’s voice.

-When the waiter/waitress starts carding you (and let’s face it, they know full well you’re over 21) because they think it’s going to score them points and get them a bigger tip (which it might).

And then the inevitable comparisons to your parents creep in. Your subconscious is trying to get a grip:

“My parents weren’t this much fun when THEY were (insert age here).”

“My parents looked a lot older when THEY were (insert age here).”

“My parents acted a lot older than I do when THEY were (you know the drill).”

And of course, we have the catch phrases that are supposed to make us all feel so much younger: “40 is the new 30.” “50 is the new 40.” And I kid you not, I just saw “60 is the new 50.” It’s only a matter of time before we see and hear “70 is the new 60,” (is anyone else starting to believe a Baby Boomer must have come up with this idea of bumping us all back a decade?) I do think we’ll all need to be more than a little scared when they start skipping decades all together. If I read “80 is the new 25” I’m outta here. That’s just bad voodoo and that can’t be good for you.

No wonder I feel like I’m off a few years. You, too?

If I stop to really think about it, though, I really do not mind aging. I’ve had some pretty amazing moments. I am a better parent. I’m open to more ideas. I DO mind the mystery aches and the fact that some things just don’t work like they used to (and ok, I really don’t like being called “ma’am”). But I DON’T mind having the knowledge not to make the same mistakes I used to. I DON’T mind feeling completely comfortable in my own skin now. I DON’T mind that I am much more choosey about the battles I’ll wage. As for the ones requiring a fight? I will attack with more ferocity and heart than anyone ever thought possible. And I’ll win now.

IMG_3580I guess that’s what all those heartbreaks and mean girls and unfair decisions – and fireworks and best friends and sometimes just pure luck – were meant to eventually teach us. What I’ve realized now is that we needed to listen to the lessons at 10, 20, 40 to really “get” the message that everything changes, and this too shall pass, and there’s SO much MORE out there! That our actual digital age has nothing to do with anything. That’s why, if we’re really diligent in our studies and pay attention to what the World is trying to teach us, we’ll understand all the sooner that the number doesn’t have ANYTHING to do with who we really are, but what we do during those digital intervals has EVERYTHING to do with it. The lesson, it seems, is in the journey. And haven’t we really always known that?   We just need to take it to heart sooner.

So if you see the birthday police wandering around my neighborhood, go ahead and send them my way. And when they say (in their uppercrusty accent) that I’m not as old as I think, I’ll tell them “No, I’m good, thanks.”

Until Friday, Friends.   Cheers!