Tag Archives: Women

Letter to #2 as he leaves for college

Happy Birthday Son:

It’s hard to believe you’re celebrating your birthday away from us. Your birth was the most calming and beautiful I experienced. When people saw you they said out loud “he’s perfect”. From day one I embraced you as my sidekick. You’ve proven you are unique and strong enough to follow your own path. You’ve stayed the same and yet changed so much. That little boy who talked to me about heaven and said: “My heaven will be inside” is now literally jumping out of the house to kayak and climb mountains. Trust me, I didn’t see that coming.

That little boy who was so angry at the day care for not allowing him to be in the “big boy room” with his brother and was subsequently pegged as “angry” is still fighting when he feels there is an injustice. That young man who told me “Mom you have to do something” when he saw the need to help his friends is now making every effort to help others, when and where he is needed. That young man who was defeated during his first year in High School by careless words said by careless adults graduated with a close to 4.0 average (was it 3.93?) and got exactly where he was meant to be.

You know when Jake left I wrote him a letter focusing on the philosophies I wanted him to embrace in life. I don’t need to write those things to you. Seems to me we routinely talk about them. I’ve had the best time sharing and exploring your beliefs and thoughts; because you listened to mine as well and made me feel that you valued the time we shared. Watching how you’ve grown over the years and how your initial observations matured and cemented into your core beliefs has been remarkable for me. I’ve watched a man mature in word and deed

Still, because I’m the mom, I must impart a few thoughts.

Make mistakes – but for goodness’ sake learn from them. There is no failure if there is learning and growth—PERIOD.

You’ll continue to grow and your opinions will change and grow as well. Your strength will be in your ability to awaken people to the benefits of your thoughts. You cannot force them. You CAN inspire them.

Stress is the best and worst thing you can experience. It is good when it motivates you and bad when it rules you. Figure out a way to manage it that works for you. Breathe, walk, listen to music, MAKE LISTS to help you manage your tasks and remember WE can and will carry ANYTHING you might find too heavy to on your own.

You WILL land where you are supposed to land. Making an adjustment in course is what we do to keep the wind moving us forward. Don’t ever think you are failing if you are moving forward. We believe in you, we trust you and we will help you. You are NEVER alone.

Guard your heart. You have a special tenderness and vulnerability that others may exploit in a way that hurts you. Be thoughtful and brave in all things but especially in matters of the heart. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Love is best recognized during the hard times as opposed to the good times.

Nothing you can buy will be as cool as something you can experience and feel. Put your effort toward experiences and capture them with your photography talents. “The business of life is making memories.” Think the “Fun Fund”.

Despite what everyone says – “You can come home”. Home is a place in your heart where you know you are emotionally safe. You were given a great gift that not everyone has; the gift of unbridled love and support by your family. You have and will continue to meet men and women who have struggled to feel the support you have as your foundation. Don’t take that for granted. Build on it in a way that helps you reach higher and stronger every day. You will never be alone when your family is with you…and we will always be with you.

I love you. Your dad and I are SO proud of who you are and are thrilled with your strength to be you. Go out and make a difference with your words and deeds in a way that when you leave a place, people will know “Sammy was here.”

Have a great year my son.

Love

mom

 

 

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Another gift from mom

I used to love the smell of my mom’s perfume. It made me feel safe and warm and was the hello to my day when I hugged her.

Since the boys were little I’ve made sure to spray my perfume on the blankets I tucked into bed with them, or the little stuffed animals I left with them when I had to deploy or leave for a few days. When my oldest left for college I sprayed some of my perfume on a new washcloth and put it in a baggie. I tucked it in his “to go” box.

I’m not sure if he’s ever reached over to open it but it made me feel good to know he could if he wanted to. I’m picking him up from Union Station today and after a long week of GSmarts presentations that had me leaving the house at 0700 and not getting home till 7:30 at night I was just going to throw on some sweats and head up. Then I thought about my mom.

Here it is 0621 and I’m sitting showered, dressed and perfumed getting ready to pick him up. That first hug is important…I hope to him as well.

“Why Me” (A Thanksgiving Reminder)”

“Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, “Why me?”, then a voice answers “Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.”
Charlie Brown

We all get overwhelmed. We go to places that make us wonder what we’ve done to bring such challenges to our lives and question how in the world we’re supposed to cope when so many things are going wrong. The voice that tells you “Nothing personal…” is only slightly satisfying. I really believe you, and me, and everyone else; we need to look at the things in our lives that ARE working and that are, in fact, going better than we could ever have hoped for. When those things come to mind, we need to be just as diligent and ask:

“Why Me?”

When we are facing a challenge and friends rush to our sides to assist us:

“Why Me?”

When we suffer a serious accident, and somehow survive:

“Why Me?”

When we have a child who is struggling with school, and we have teachers who join with us to assist in moving them to success:

“Why Me?”

If we focus solely on the things that are challenges, we just don’t realize how each day brings positives we will miss when our head is down and shaking in dismay. We miss our opportunities to be thankful for today. I am not a Pollyanna, I have suffered many hardships in my life. As I’ve grown through them I’ve come to realize they were a gift that brought focus to the good times in my life. They provided clarity to my thoughts about “the routine” and sharp edges to what is really hard and what is just nonsense. They’ve helped me put into perspective how fleeting time really is.

Now when my sons, rush off the bus, jackets flying and backpacks bumping up and down; when they rush up the driveway in a full out race, laughing and fussing about cheating and head starts; all the time with their eyes smiling. I’ve come to understand that I am witness to the morning of their lives. That’s when I ask:

“Why Me?”

and that’s when I say thank you for all the moments that have shaped me and brought me to this place.

At Thanksgiving especially – look around at your place in this world and ask

“Why Me?”

It’s sometimes overwhelming when we realize just how lucky we are.

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.

The Price of Freedom

I was at Walter Reed with my son today. We were at the physical therapy clinic for an elbow injury he’d sustained playing baseball. I recall being at a VA hospital years back and there was a sign. It read:

“The price of freedom is visible here.”

Today that message was so evident. While casualty reports have fallen from the headlines, I looked on as four survivors of war worked to survive; period. I was struck that three of the four service members I saw, who were dealing with traumatic injuries, were women.

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One young girl, perhaps in her 20s, had lost a leg, had a brace on her arm and visible scars on her face. Another walked in with a cane, her hat pulled down low and her service dog beside her. The third I saw walked in and someone helped her put her arms on the table where they were carefully (and almost lovingly) wrapped in warm compresses. The man I saw, had on a helmet type device and was using a video game to track and locate visual targets (I suspect as the result of a brain injury).

The young lady with the dog sat for her therapy near where I was sitting with my son.

She didn’t look up.

She went through the therapy with a soft voice, lowered eyes and her attentive companion watching her every step. At one point the therapist left her for a moment and her dog’s leash became tangled. I jumped up and went to her to help get things right.

She looked slightly up and said “Thank You”.

I wanted so much to hug her to me, rock her, take her injuries to my older body so she could experience the fullness of the health I had as a young officer when I was her age. I couldn’t…but I wanted to. All I could do was say with all sincerity

“Please, don’t feel like you have to thank me.”

The meaning was felt…as she looked up into my eyes for the first time.
Dear Congress:

Don’t talk to me about women in combat. Go to Walter Reed and then say you fear we can’t handle it. Go to Walter Reed and see warriors of both sexes. Go to Walter Reed and sit there all day long and see if you can pontificate about who can and who can’t handle this. Go to Walter Reed.

“The price of freedom is visible there”

and the cost is being paid by everyone who chooses to wear the uniform.

But it’s okay if you can’t get their Sir or Ma’am…we got you.

Lieutenant Colonel (Ret)

U.S. Army

A letter to my oldest son

My oldest left today for college. One of the boys has a raging fever so I stayed home. Pretty tough to do that but I packed him a surprise box. Sharing the letter I put in there.

You know me…blah, blah…but when I write things I feel like I’m getting them out of me. So read if you care to and drive on if you don’t. This pretty much sums up how I see life…

My dear son:
Today you begin to step away from us. As your dad and I fade into the background of your life I want to tell you what a privilege it’s been to have you as our son. You’ve brought such joy to us in so many ways. Your spirit, your dedication, your integrity; all of that adds up to a future of such potential and such promise for you. A few things I want to impart in black and white because I think they are incredibly important for you to remember:
• People are basically good. That doesn’t mean all of them are but most of them are good. A leader’s strength, I think, is being able to find the goodness and bring it out to shine. If you can do that even when it’s hard you will find the best of what people have to offer.
• There is no finish line in life. Have goals but don’t think of them as the “be all” of what you do. Along the way toward succeeding you have to enjoy the experiences you have, as it will become a part of that success. If you are constantly pushing for the next ending, you’ll end up missing some pretty fantastic beginnings and durings.
• You have lived a life of privilege. That doesn’t mean you have been coddled or that you haven’t done your share when it comes to helping. It means you’ve never had to worry about whether you will be fed, cared for and supported. That is an incredible gift. To honor that gift I ask that you remember to be charitable in word and deed. The only time you should look down at someone is when you are extending a hand to help him or her up. You are young, strong and smart. You can change someone’s life with quiet support. Be someone’s hero. The world certainly needs more of those.
• Keep yourself open to new things but don’t be flippant about the fragility of life and limb. Take care of your body and test its limits. Take chances but I don’t ever want you to risk your health for a dare or a fool hearty adventure. People do exciting things all the time. When you want to do something outside of your experience base – go for it. But research it, find someone who KNOWS how to do it and then learn, practice and step forward with confidence. The best way to arm yourself for success is through knowledge.
• Respect women. This is a big one for me and there will be times that you’ll find women who don’t respect themselves. It is rare that you can change someone with love, so choose wisely as to whom you give your heart. If you find that “love” is causing you to compromise your other values; then examine it closely. Love is when your values align and you can see yourself working hard for the rest of your life to stay with that person. Falling in love is easy. You can fall in love with anyone. Find someone worthy of your love and then put in the work that defines a loving relationship. If someone is worth that effort over and over again, then you are on the right track.
• Never forget son, that YOU are loved for who you are right now. With all your goodness and all of your foibles, you are loved. Rest assured that you are not alone in any challenge you undertake. Our family is strong and regardless of the back and forth squabbles we have at times, we are all here for you as you need support. Don’t give up on the big stuff and don’t sweat the small stuff. Nobody’s shooting at you so it’s going to be okay.
You have been ready for this since you were 2 years old son. Even that young you were ready to run out into the rain and do what needed to be done. Of all my sons, you enjoy the exhilaration of life and living. It makes me happy to see that in you. Run in the rain, dance in the rain, look up to the sky in the rain and laugh as the drops splash against your cheeks. You can withstand any storm. Enjoy the sound of the thunder and when the lightning flashes, let the smile on your face reflect in the light. You will do extraordinary things.
Your dad and I will be there at every turn possible to embrace your successes, support your learning when you make mistakes and provide you a soft place to land when you need it. Home is more than a word, a house, a state or an address. It’s a place in your heart that makes you feel safe and secure.
You got this son and if you need us for anything; we got you too.
Mom

Imperfect Parenting

A friend recently told me she likes to read what I write. I let parents look at my imperfections. They get to read about about the things I’ve done right and wrong and they often identify with it.

I do make a lot of mistakes.

I remember taking the boys on a journey to New Jersey when they were very young. Danny was still in a stroller, just an infant as I recall. We stopped to go into a break area and there was a pond at the top of an inclined walkway that lead to the rest stop entrance. The pond was filled with goldfish so I stopped with the boys to gaze into the water. Cool right?

As the boys and I leaned over the edge of the pond, I heard a woman call to me:

“Ma’am, your baby.”

I looked around and saw to my horror that the stroller with Danny in it was rolling down the hill, about to hit a curb and jump into the road of the parking area.

What do you do at that moment?

What exactly do you do?

I had three toddlers by a pool of water, and an infant in a stroller; a stroller that was rolling into a parking lot.

I couldn’t catch the stroller. It had gone too far and was picking up speed. In those seconds that passed, I held my breath.

Literally, I held my breath and stood there paralyzed for what seemed like hours.

As the stroller picked up speed and rolled toward the road, God,

(I don’t often mention God actually taking the time to touch my life. I know it’s happened, probably more than I realize, but I don’t think he’s there waiting for me to screw up as a parent and come to my rescue)

at that moment God, sent me two guardian angels. Almost like it was choreographed those two angels stepped from behind the building and stopped the stroller.

They stopped it. It was kind of like they were waiting for that moment to do something amazing and stopping my baby from going into the road was that amazing thing they were there to do.

It was like going from panic to a perfectly normal moment in the blink of an eye;

in the blink of an eye.

Okay moms, then what do you do?

You get the little guys off the pond’s edge and you run, YOU RUN, down the hill and try to manage your mixture of relief, joy, and embarrassment. Relief that a moment of impending disaster has changed to a moment filled with tears, thank you’s, and joy.

“Thank God” drips from your mouth and little beads of sweat finally have the nerve to show themselves and run down your face.

Then, you feel the embarrassment.

You just did something SO FREAKING STUPID that you can’t believe that you’ve actually been entrusted with these four incredible, little lives.

SO FREAKING STUPID when you realize that, ONCE AGAIN, you screwed up.

Embarrassment since people are now shaking their heads at you:

“That’s why there’s a break on it lady.”

“Why’d she have that many kids so close together anyway?”

“Can you believe that she didn’t move?”

When you start to breathe again, you take your little boys and walk into the rest area.

You take them into the women’s bathroom with you and go into a stall telling them to stand

“RIGHT THERE!”,

watching their little feet under the door stall.

Then you vomit. You vomit everything you’ve ever eaten in your life. You vomit until your sides are sore and your stomach is squeezed in spasms and then, you wipe the puke off your face, and the tears out of your eyes and you go back out to those four little boys and smile and ask:

“Who wants a milkshake?”

There you have it. My parenting guide:

“Imperfect Parenting”: How to do a million things wrong, and still raise pretty good kids.”

That’s what I’m good at.

Making lots of mistakes, messing up the experts advice,

(most of whom have NEVER been stay at home moms or dads, and actually dealt with the day in and day out parenting realities most of us face),

and still raising children who are grounded, responsible and pretty darn cool.

Last night I found a little girl wandering away from the middle school where I was picking up my son. She was cute as a button. She had long pig tails, dressed real sweet, and just walking like she owned the road ahead of her.

Problem was she was way out of anyone’s sight and I didn’t see anyone near her. I knew she’d slipped away.

I jumped out of my car, walked quickly to her, and talked to her.

“I can’t find my mommy.” She said. She was four.

We started walking back toward the school together and after I got a pretty good distance toward the door of the school I hear from way over at the baseball field:

“Skyler, Skyler; What are you doing?”

We looked and there was Skyler’s daddy running full speed toward us. I started walking toward him and Skyler and I did “knuckles”.

“Thank you SO MUCH.” her father called to me and little Miss Pigtails went running toward a very important discussion with her father.

“No problem dad.”

“I’ve been there.” I yelled as she closed the gap between her and her dad.

Phew, I thought.

Guardian Angels – 2

Imperfect Parenting – 2

As long as it stays a tie; we win.

Real Parenting

I had a hard time with my eleven year old last night. The trouble started when we went to his brother’s basketball game.

Now Sam HATES to unwrap himself from his computer games. He’s also not a big sports guy. I understand computer games are his passion right now and while we set limits to it, I try not to mess with his “on” time. When we have a game though, I like to have us all go and root for the brothers playing. We usually have fun ribbing and joking with one another while we’re watching the game but last night he was having NONE of it.

He was surly, angry and just unpleasant to both his brother and me. Eventually he moved to the other side of the bench and his younger brother Dan, decided he too could be rude to momma. Dan said a couple of unpleasant things and scooted over as well.

That was it. I was done. I was NOT going to be treated rudely by people whom I loved and cared about and act like it was okay. I stood up, motioned to his father that we were leaving and walked out. The two boys came running after me.

“No momma, we’re sorry; we’re sorry.” they cried after me.
Sammy was so upset he started crying saying

“I want to fix this. Let’s go inside and I’ll change my attitude mom. I promise.”

It took everything I had not to hug him up and tell him it was okay. That I understood and that I’d be happy to act as if nothing had happened.

But I didn’t.

I wanted him to know and understand that I have feelings too. That he and his brother couldn’t treat me poorly and expect everything would be okay as soon as they said they were sorry. I didn’t yell, I didn’t fuss; I just left. When we got home I went upstairs to my room and didn’t speak to them again.

I laid down that night with the youngest and explained to him that you cannot treat people you love rudely and expect them to automatically forgive you. I told him it hurt my feelings and that I didn’t particularly want to be around him when I got home which is why I went upstairs.
Of course he was sad, and he apologized. I told him I loved him and said goodnight.

Then Sam came in to say goodnight (I’d actually gone up to bed). He was breathing deeply like he does when he is stressed. I said goodnight and hugged him and told him I loved him. It wasn’t until this morning that we talked about what happened.

“Do you know why I was so upset last night Sam?”

“Yes mom.” he said.

“I won’t be treated poorly by you or anyone else Sammy. Do you understand that?” I asked.

“I do.” he said quietly.

As he left this morning I hugged him and said;

“I missed you last night Sam.”

“I missed you too mom.” he said.

So no funny stories for this one; just wanted to share some reality and say that as hard as it was and is, I think it is really important to teach your kids how to treat you. Some things are not okay and unless you set that standard with them I don’t think anyone else will teach them.

I shared this story with my exercise partner this morning. She told me that her nephew was complaining that his mom called him every day and he fussed at his mom somewhat rudely, saying sons don’t talk every day with their mothers.

“That’s a daughter thing.” he said.

“Do you love your mom?” my friend asked her nephew.

“Of course I do”, he replied, “I’d die for that woman.”

“Vince”, she said, “She’s not asking you to die for her; she’s just asking you to call her.”

Later that night she saw Vince heading upstairs with his cell phone.

“I’m going to call my mom” he said to my friend.

She smiled.

I guess it is never too late to learn a good lesson.

Have a brilliant day!