Tag Archives: perspective

Mea Culpa

Today would have been my mother’s ninety-first birthday.  You would think I would be reminiscing about old times, remembering how well she took care of me whenever I was sick, calling the doctor for a house call and hovering over his shoulder in my fevered memory.  The food she spent all day making for us, or how she was a do-er; how she could get “drunk” and giddy on just a Coca-Cola, or how she lost her first husband at the very end of World War II yet was strong enough to build a different life with my father and us.

Instead, I am spending the day wishing I could apologize.  As my daughter approaches her last day of high school this week, I find myself understanding more and more about my relationship with my mom during our contentious years, discovering what she was trying to do.  Time and experience wipe the bull-headedness of youth out of the picture, and I can see her more clearly.

I used to get so frustrated, so irritated that last year before I went away to college.  She seemed to be holding even tighter to me, and I only wanted to take flight.  As my girl does the same thing, I struggle to not want to hold her to my chest for as long as I possibly can.  My mother would tell me things I already knew, give me advice I thought I didn’t need, and treat me like a child.  I fought like a toddler wanting to be put down, trying to get away, only looking forward.

Mama, I understand.  And thank you.


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Filed under empty nest, Family Relationships, Gratitude, Growth, Looking Back, Parenting, Self-realization


The travelers will be home today, and the two bachelorettes will be back to everyday life in mere hours.  A few things picked up and put away, a spit and a polish, and we will be done and ready for the weary tourists to drop their bags in the entryway.  It’s been a relaxing, fun weekend, and though I enjoyed every moment of it, I look forward to hearing tales from the road and getting back to the whirlwind that is my full life.

The older girls are coming home from the last school trip they will take before college.  I wonder if they appreciated it in that light?  There will be other outings, with family and friends, colleagues, even jaunts for university groups if they are lucky, but this is the last band trip with friends that will so soon be scattered to the winds.  I hope it has been a fun, eventful journey that they will look back upon fondly.

A little deviation from the normal routine lets us all look at things from a different perspective and perhaps appreciate it all a bit more.  Number three and I got a sneak-peek at what life might be like in a few years, and numbers one and two got special time to spend with both their dad and high school friends – things that will be in a little shorter supply soon.

More lasts; then on to another round of firsts.

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Filed under Changes, empty nest, Excursions, Looking Ahead, Looking Back, Parenting

Yes, My Darling Daughter

Parenting advice has certainly changed over the years.  I have been having a great time discovering and rediscovering some old songs with the swing band I sometimes rehearse with; songs with titles that would never fly these days.  “Back Door Stuff”, “At The Fat Man’s”, “Beat Me, Daddy, Eight To The Bar”, “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby”,  “Tail End Charlie”,  “Alibi Baby”, “How Come You Do Me Like You Do”, “Queer Street”, “Dodgin’ a Divorcee”, “Flinging A Whing-Ding”, “One Night Stand”.  Vintage music doesn’t have a monopoly on odd names, but sometimes it just illustrates what a different world it was back then.

We rehearsed one a couple of weeks ago that spoke directly to me, with my three daughters.  Be sure to click on the title of the following song and get the YouTube link to listen along.  In spite of the questionable advice that we don’t dare give to our girls, it’s a fun tune:

Yes, My Darling Daughter – Glenn Miller Orchestra  (1941)

Mother, may I go out dancing?
Yes, my darling daughter
Mother, may I try romancing?
Yes, my darling daughter
What if there’s a moon, mama darling, and it’s shining on the water
Mother, must I keep on dancing?
Yes, my darling daughter
What if he’ll propose, mama darling, when the night is growing shorter?
Mother, what should be my answer?
Yes, my darling daughter

Mother, will it be exciting?
Mother, do I look inviting?
What if he holds me tight & my knees just turn to water
Mama, what should I do?
What if there’s a moon, my mama darling, and it’s shining on the water
Mother, must I keep on dancing?
Yes, my darling daughter
What if he’ll propose, my mama darling, when the night is growing shorter?
Mother, what’cha think should be my answer?
Yes, my darling daughter

Oh mama darling, what if he holds my hand & then says, “Come just a little closer?”
Mother dear, what should be my answer?
Oh yes, my darling daughter

I love my girls, but the last thing I would advise them to say is “Yes, yes, yes!”  Welcome back to the year 2011.

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Filed under Changes, Looking Back, Parenting

More Corners Turned

Well, it’s set.  We have decided on a date for the Graduation open house.  The invitation to the Senior All Night Party has been sent back in.  Cap and gown have been ordered.  Immediate relatives have been given the date for the official graduation ceremony.  As her father says, all my eldest has to do now is actually graduate.

Senior year is such a tough time in any person’s life.  It’s a time of some firsts but many more lasts.  It’s hard for them to concentrate on what they are finishing because there is this big, new, shiny thing hung there in front of them: college and finally living away from home.  I don’t really remember my Senior year other than as a time of impatient waiting.  I was so ready to move on that the last year seemed a waste.

That made it easier to leave behind all the familiar and friendly, all of the people and places I had been around for all my life.  Without the chafing feeling of needing to move on, perhaps it would have been just too sad to end my childhood.  I don’t remember moving from child to adult, myself.  If I had it to do again, I might savor the many things I would never be able to do again in the same way.  Adulthood is so tantalizing, so desired, so coveted by the young, and my daughter is now the one ready to move on.  I see it in her, and so keep silent about my small regrets; she would probably politely discount my words anyway.  I am older, how can I understand?

I am left here, mourning it for her.  Quietly.

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Filed under Changes, Growth, Looking Ahead, Looking Back, Parenting

Story Time

I was standing behind my youngest daughter, brush in hand, working my way through the big snarl that often forms in her hair overnight.  I don’t know how she does it, but it’s always in the same place, in varying degrees of twisted and intertwined mats.  To take her mind off of my tugging and the pain I was obviously causing, I began a “when Mama was young”-type story.

“You know, I used to spend hours untangling knots just like this from my horse’s tail when I was about your age.  We used to call them fairy knots and imagine mischievous pixies dancing on the horses backs and weaving the strands in and out, just to give us extra work.”  I thought she would like the image of those trouble-making imps taking the horse’s tail and messing it all up.  Instead, she went a whole different direction with it.

“Does that mean you think my head looks like a horse’s behind?” she asked, with a gleam in her eye.

Some things just don’t come out the way you intend them, especially when you have a smarty pants for a kid.  I lifted one eyebrow in her direction and let the words “If the shoe fits, deary…” roll around in my head.  Wonder where she gets it from?

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Filed under Day to Day, Looking Back

Routine Adjustment

My morning got flip-flopped and now I’m not even sure what day it is.  I hadn’t realized how important the actual, precise morning routine was to the rest of my day, but an unexpected change has thrown me for a loop.  Sounds pathetic, but there it is.

Girl #2 had to go to school thirty-five minutes earlier this morning to complete some pre-testing rigmarole.  Everybody else remembered and had it planned, but I got home late last night and no one mentioned it to me.  This morning, I woke to a partially awake and moving house when it’s usually a still, slumbering one.  I guess that made me feel like I was behind and late, so I rushed around to get everything done before she left.  Then the other two had to go at the regular time, so I felt like we should leave for the bus 20 minutes early.  I actually had time to stop, pour a cup of coffee, and stand still for a minute.  The whole thing was topsy-turvy.

I’m still feeling like a horse after a race, hours later.  Maybe it’s what I needed.  A little shake-up is envigorating, and things might fall back to place in a new and more interesting pattern.  That could be too much to ask for a little routine change, but I’m going to run with it…

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Filed under Day to Day, Growth, Reflection, Self Discovery

Not Anybody’s Anything


As much as I take pleasure in being something important to someone else, and as much as it is a major part of my make up to be so, sometimes it’s necessary to be myself in a solitary manner.  It’s not selfish, just smart.

Getting back into my music making, in perhaps a more aware manner this time, has allowed me to find an unexpected but important side effect. When I am playing, especially in an ensemble of some kind, I am not anybody’s mother or wife or teacher or daughter.  I’m not supposed to be somewhere else, I’m exactly where I should be.  What is important is what is in front of me.  I’m myself, responsible only for how I perform.  If I mess up, I can fix it next time with more practice.  If I do well, it’s only due to me, not to those around me.  Though much of the joy of ensemble playing is what I help to create as I add myself to the efforts of others, it’s a singular me that gets added.  I don’t bring baggage along.

Then, after I’m done playing, I can return to being something for others.  Renewed and refreshed, stronger and more true.

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Filed under Accomplishments, Changes, Dedication, Growth, Success/Failure