these things i ♥

DSC_0724friendships that last a life time  (even if they are new)

motherhood

pie

the Gulf Coast of Alabama

a July birthday

5000+ years of yoga teachers

thank you notes

black coffee

good grammar

men who love their wives

laundry dried outside

lunch

the sun

powder days

grandmothers

pineapple

the architecture of the olive tree

cities

most birds

all teenagers

front porches

Canadian roots

lacrosse

my children’s stories and dreams

running

words

in-laws

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self performance review: blogging

phr keyboard December is a very hot month where I have worked for the past 20 Decembers.  While on the outside, winds, rains, and several months of chilly darkness blow into town, inside it is an overheated  pressure cooker.  The reasons why are unimportant (and idiosyncratic to the cult of personalities we call our firm).  Let’s just say that last December internal temperatures escalated even further when one of my partners ripped a page out of a business school text and suggested we should add performance reviews of ourselves to the mix.  The exercise was just as sweaty as we had feared.  However, after I finished, I had to admit – the self study had done me some good.  So recently I applied the same scrutiny to my blogging to uncover why I am so surprisingly horrible at it!   Nine posts since fall 2011 !?!  I am particularly embarrassed to admit that in one of my first posts I  even bragged:

I was born to blog.  Some  might say I have been blogging since long before “Al Gore Invented the Internet.”  Harriet the Spy was my childhood heroine.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet_the_Spy  Yes, I was the one in the hoody, hunched over the notebook chronicling the late  1960s and the 1970s in Upstate New York and Ontario.  My family rolled eyes, cringed and made paranoid comments in stage whispers.  The compulsion continued and I have innumerable volumes tucked away in locked trunks and sealed envelopes on my property in An Unnamed West Coast City.

https://momdeguerre.wordpress.com/2011/09/02/if-a-mother-cries-out-in-cyberspace-does-it-make-a-sound/ I  blog in my head constantly, but seldom unleash the text onto the keyboard.  Why?  I am opinionated, nosy, and surrounded by people doing meaningful, kooky, sensitive, and absurd things – often all at the same time.  In other words, I live in a land deep in rich material.  So why don’t I write?  Why don’t I write HERE?  On WordPress ??  What are my excuses?  Thanks to my self review, I now know.

  1. No time.  Like nearly every other  citizen of the  modern world, I am very busy and “important.”  I do not have time for this self-indulgence (even if it would improve my mental health)! 
  2. WordPress is too confusing.  I believe this, but because I am so busy and “important,” I have not had time to find a good alternative.
  3. Perfection is the enemy of the good.  This one is probably self-explanatory.  In me, the condition can be acute.  It usually affects structure, language choice, and message.  I probably do not need to mention that I also hate typo’s and misspellings, especially my own.   Interestingly, I do a lot of writing in my everyday professional life and turn out a good work product without letting the pursuit of meaningless perfection rule my days.
  4. No theme!  This one is important.  I love other people’s blogs and follow them.  I read about writing.  I read about blogging.  One of the first rules about the latter is to have a theme.  My head is like a tossed salad; there is no organizing theme, not even the vinaigrette is reliable.  My family and friends and colleagues are similarly scattered.   I think this is a problem with my writing in general.  I am not exactly writing about any particular thing on a regular basis.  You know, like the pretty meals I have cooked, the books I have read, my travels, or even carpools I have known and loved (or hated), being a lacrosse mom, the emptying nest, or what it is like to have a child run away (even though you know exactly where he is).
  5. Fear of the ordinary.  I say I fear the ordinary, but at the same time, I believe in the ordinary – mine and everyone else’s.  That’s why I like following blogs and talking to people on buses.  I have even written about my belief in the ordinary.  https://momdeguerre.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/joy-v-08-19-12-the-long-good-bye-begins/
  6. Fear of being uncovered.   I really try not to write anything that would embarrass my people, but …..recently I wrote a barbed review of an evening at my home with a visiting relative.  I compared our kitchen that night to a saloon and mentioned that it was my first lap dance ever.  (It is well-known that  I am not leading a lap dance sort of life.  )  Then I emailed it to a few friends, but would be mortified if the kitchen island lap dancer, who is related to my husband, ever read it.
  7. Not sure I like my blog name and I do not like the subtitle.  Okay.  I love the name, mom de guerre, because of the play on words but it is grim to the point of being a mismatch with  my everyday life.  As for the subtitle (“musings from the dark side of parenting”), it spilled onto the screen during a black period of child raising.  I have had my nose pressed against the underbelly of parenting and it is ugly.  The child who takes me there has given me permission to be open about it, but at core I am upbeat and hopeful, as well as protective of his privacy.  Besides, I really do not want to wallow there even if I should.  I have entertained a new blog name and maybe for my mental health I should adopt it.
  8. The dogs need a walk, there is a load of laundry to be done, and I brought some work  home.  This relates to # 1.  There is always something more urgent to do.  I am a horrible relaxer and consider that a character flaw.  I also have a 20 year long guilt streak about being a mother who works hard outside the home.  Even as I write this, I am thinking about our federal taxes (due Monday), two cards I have to write, whether this is a productive way to spend an afternoon off of work, and, of course, the dishes in the sink.  Oh! And did I exercise yet today (not really).

Joy v. 08.19.12 : the long good bye begins

Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus), Michigan

Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus), Michigan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think about JOY a lot these days.  I have posted obliquely about the darkness that cloaked 2011 until I stopped looking for joy in life’s headlines and started looking for it places like well-made sandwiches or the late summer return of the sharp shinned hawk couple to the tree we spend the rest of the year worrying will take out the entire block in a wind storm. 2011 was one of those years that proves the second part of this statement: “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”  (V. Lenin).  I finally concluded that “joy is in the footnotes” for my own mental health and immediately started looking more closely for it there. 

Now as our nest begins to empty, I look for joy in the everyday for different reasons.  In two weeks my youngest plunges into his senior year.  The long good bye begins.  He lives a good life – crowded with sport, his talents, loving friends, academics, a business, his opinions, dreams and us.  Less and less us, of course.  This summer his father and I have sat on the figurative front porch of his life (and the literal front porch of our home) waiting for drive-by’s.  And we love it.  Even as I miss the carpools, the down times on sidelines of practice fields around the region, long and lazy post-dinner conversations, crowds of boys around the PS-whatever in the basement – and ask my husband why we couldn’t have raised at least one mama’s boy – I know in my heart this is what we raised them to do: to leave, carrying their own portable nests.

Several years ago when one of my sisters-in-law faced the emptying of her own nest, she recommended The Gift of an Ordinary Day: a Mother’s Memoir   by Katrina Kenison, to me.  www.katrinakenison.com When Kenison faced her own sons’ flight from the family life they’d built and known and loved, she wrote about it. At the time I took the book as a reminder to enjoy the ordinary rhythms of our lives together and as a caution that they would too-soon change. I now appreciate the deeper meaning.

Yes, I am going to look forward to this boy ‘s last year at home.  We didn’t get a last year with our oldest son.  He left suddenly one day before he finished high school – loudly, viciously, prematurely with more emotion than plan.  We have been dealing with the backlash ever since.  To this mother, a long good bye sounds delicious. And I am going to find joy in the ordinary every single day.

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