Entries categorized "Holidays"

This Thanksgiving, I'll Just Have Seconds on the Hugs

I've witnessed some incredible Heathrow Moments in my life. They occur when I'm alone in an airport, waiting for a flight. Most often I'm surrounded by crumpled napkins, a slice of pizza slice and a glossy magazine filled with shock and awe: celebs wearing no make up.

And then it happens.

I look up and spot someone running with flailing arms and a beaming smile toward an arriving passenger. As I watch the two greet, hug, and laugh, the positive energy from their reunion has a ripple effect, as if love is contagious. 

Those are Heathrow Moments.

If you've seen the holiday movie Love Actually, you may understand why. In the movie's opening scene, loved ones greet one another with hugs, kisses, and laughter at the arrivals gate of London's Heathrow Airport. Hugh Grant narrates:

"Whenever I get gloomy with the state of world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the twin towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around. "

Some things are better seen for oneself. Here's the one minute clip:

 

 

 

This week I experienced my own perfect Heathrow Moment. It wasn't glamorous like in the movies. It was rainy. It was cold. Moreover, I was at Midway in Chicago, not exactly Heathrow.

I waited, and I waited. I paced, unable to stand still. My 15 year-old son, away at school since August 31, was headed home for Thanksgiving break. I'd been counting the days until his return.

Boys at midwayWhen I spotted him at the back of the barrage of arriving passengers, I lost all composure. I was no longer the cool, blend-in-to-the-crowd, casual mom. I jumped up and down. My eyebrows went through the roof, and according to my younger sons, I made embarrassing pointing gestures. Although surrounded by just a few people, I waved frantically as if I might get lost in a sea of travelers, worried he might never find me. My whole body trembled and tears came to my eyes. In that moment, I became completely oblivious to everything in the world. 

This particular moment was larger than a Thanksgiving homecoming. Over the few weeks, the world has suffered countless losses as a result of terrorist attacks and madmen with guns. In a flash, loved ones have met violent deaths. The stuff we think will never happen to us, has happened to them. Those families will never be the same. As a result, I found myself uttering unimaginable phrases to my children: 

"If you can't get to an exit, play dead."

"If you see something, say something."

"If you can run, try to run in a zig zag, you'll be harder to hit."

"Only show your American passport when absolutely necessary, otherwise keep it hidden in your pocket."

"Say you're Canadian."

Although I was uttering unimaginable phrases, since my son was flying out of New York's LaGuardia airport, I knew in my heart these were no longer unimaginable scenarios, flights of fancy, or the result of an overactive imagination. 

It sounds trite, but it's still true that we just don't know how much time we have on this earth. Thanksgiving could not have come at a better time. The deaths of so many innocent people remind us of the fragility of our own lives. So many flowers offered. So many tears shed. So many stories shared. So many hugs given.

Augie and mom at midwayThus, I felt an overwhelming sense of urgency to be with all three of my children. I raced to Midway Airport. I paced through the multiple delays. And as my oldest came through the arrivals gate at 12:30 am, I needed to touch him. I needed to look him in the eye and know he was okay. I needed us to be together. We had a group hug on the spot.

 

This year, Thanksgiving wasn't about the food. It wasn't about the football. (As a Packer fan, I've just committed sacrilege.) Thanksgiving was about the hugs. It was about the exchange of positive energy, the connection, the unspoken message: hey, you mean a lot to me.  I have hugged almost everyone I've seen over the last ten days. In these tragic times, I feel an overwhelming need to connect with others. Even the football fans felt it. You can't tell me your eyes were dry as Brett Favre and Bart Starr hugged. Generations across the nation connected in that moment.

The holiday is over. My son has returned to school. The week wasn't perfect-- it was gray, the Packers lost, and 24 hour news cycle continues to jar me. However, the hugs were just right.  

  

 

 

Sending you peace and love through the holiday season!


8 Things I Wish I Could've Given My Kids This Christmas

Christmas letter

Dear kids,

I know you're excited. You've been awake since 5:55 AM. I tried my hardest not to hear you playing Minecraft on the floor outside my bedroom. Thank you for not opening my door until the sun came up.

In a few moments, you'll open your Christmas gifts. The wrapping paper will fly, a mug of hot chocolate will hit the floor, and Styrofoam peanuts will cling to the dog's butt all day.

IMG_7927
However, while I have your undivided, yet toe-tapping, impatient, attention this singular moment of the year, I have something to share with you. Quit the eye-rolls. It's Christmas. I have the floor. I'll be short and sweet. 
I need to tell you the truth about the presents you're about to receive. You see, I wasn't able to buy the gifts I wanted this year. I couldn't.

I know you'll smile and nod politely when you open that new snowboard, remote control car, or electronic device. I'm grateful you'll be magnanimous. Magnanimous means- oh forget it, I know you're barely listening at this point, so I'll be quick. These are the things I'd give you this Christmas:

1. I'd give you a strong sense of individualism: the courage to forge new paths, speak up to right a wrong, and avoid following the crowd. The "in" group is not important. Having a clear conscience when closing your eyes at night is.

2. I'd give you a sense of wanderlust, a thirst to see different countries, and an appreciation of their cultures. I'd encourage you to toss aside laminated itineraries and experience the thrill of discovery. Don't let stuff get in the way of experiences. Put down the devices and participate. Notice the crisp air. Breathe in the fresh pine. Be present.

3. I'd box up a lifelong supply of questions so you'd never run out. I hope you ask as many questions at age 20, 30, 40 and 65, as you do now. And if you ever hear: "The answer to your question is, 'Because we've always done it this way,'" Be curious and challenge outdated traditions and thoughts.

4. I wish I could wrap and give you the urge to always be kind, especially to each other. With the exception of your mother, no one's got your back like a brother. I can't stick up for you if some jerk is hassling you in the boys' locker room, but a brother can. There's nothing like a band of brothers. Be there for one another.

5. You may not understand yet, but I want to give you the gift of serenity from living a spiritual life. I'm not talking about religion. Don't worry about people or things you can't change. Have faith in a higher power and embrace what you have, not what you don't. You are not God. Sorry. You are not the center of the universe. Sorry. I'm still wrapping my head around these facts, too. But I don't want you to think you've got to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. You don't. That's why I'd give you faith if I could.

6. You've already been given the gift of a sense of humor. I hope you'll be generous with your smiles, your laughter, and your hugs. Be the first to offer your hand, and radiate positivity and hope. Don't take yourself too seriously. The folks who do are so boring.

7. I'd love to give you the desire to be a lifelong learner. Stay teachable. Accept help and keep an open mind. The world is much cooler when you can look at it from different perspectives. Being stuck sucks.

8. No matter where you are, I'll be there for you, um, except in the boys' locker room...although don't put it past me. I am your rock. I am your North. I am your mom. You are my most precious gifts.

Merry Christmas!

xoxo

Mom

Yes...now you can open that other junk under the tree.

 

If you enjoyed the post above, please SHARE it through Facebook, Twitter, email, fax, snail mail, tack it on doors at Wal-Mart, read it aloud on an airplane, leave it in the bathroom at work. I'm not picky. You get the picture. Thank you!

 


Finding Connection in an Unimaginable World

I've witnessed some incredible Heathrow Moments in my life. They occur when I'm alone in an airport, waiting for a flight. Most often I'm surrounded by crumpled napkins, a slice of pizza and a glossy magazine filled with shock and awe: celebs wearing no make up.

And then it happens.

I look up and spot someone running with flailing arms and a beaming smile toward an arriving passenger. As I watch the two greet, hug, and laugh, the positive energy from their reunion has a ripple effect, as if love is contagious. 

Those are Heathrow Moments.

If you've seen the holiday movie Love Actually, you may understand why. In the movie's opening scene, loved ones greet one another with hugs, kisses, and laughter at the arrivals gate of London's Heathrow Airport. Hugh Grant narrates:

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the twin towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around. 

Some things are better seen for oneself. Here's the one minute clip:

 

 

 

This week I experienced my own perfect Heathrow Moment. It wasn't glamorous like in the movies. It was rainy. It was cold. Moreover, I was at Midway in Chicago, not exactly Heathrow.

I waited, and I waited. I paced, unable to stand still. My 15 year-old son, away at school since August 31, was headed home for Thanksgiving break. I'd been counting the days until his return.

When I spotted him at the back of the barrage of arriving passengers, I lost all composure. I was no longer the cool, blend-in-to-the-crowd, casual mom. I jumped up and down. My eyebrows went through the roof, and according to my younger sons, I made embarrassing pointing gestures. Although surrounded by just a few people, I waved frantically as if I might get lost in a sea of travelers, worried he might never find me. My whole body trembled and tears came to my eyes. In that moment, I became completely oblivious to everything in the world. 

This particular moment was larger than a Thanksgiving homecoming. Over the last few weeks, the world has suffered countless losses as a result of terrorist attacks and madmen with guns. In a flash, loved ones have met violent deaths. The stuff we think will never happen to us, has happened to them. Those families will never be the same. As a result, I found myself uttering unimaginable phrases to my children: 

"If you can't get to an exit, play dead."

"If you see something, say something."

"Stay away from the windows."

"If you can run, try to run in a zig zag, you'll be harder to hit."

"Only show your American passport when necessary, otherwise keep it hidden in your pocket."

"Say you're Canadian."

Although I was uttering unimaginable phrases, my son was flying out of New York's LaGuardia airport. I knew in my heart these were no longer unimaginable scenarios, flights of fancy, or the result of an overactive imagination. 

It sounds trite, but it's still true that we just don't know how much time we have on this earth. Thanksgiving could not have come at a better time. The deaths of so many innocent people remind us of the fragility of our own lives. So many flowers offered. So many tears shed. So many stories shared. So many hugs given.

Augie and mom at midwayThus, I felt an overwhelming sense of urgency to be with all three of my children. I raced to Midway Airport. I paced through the multiple delays. And as my oldest came through the arrivals gate at 12:30 am, I needed to touch him. I needed to look him in the eye and know he was okay. I needed us to be together. We had a group hug on the spot.

This year, Thanksgiving wasn't about the food. It wasn't about the football. (As a Packer fan, I've just committed sacrilege.) Thanksgiving was about the hugs. It was about the exchange of positive energy, the connection, the unspoken message: hey, you mean a lot to me.  I have hugged almost everyone I've seen over the last ten days. In these tragic times, I feel an overwhelming need to connect with others. Even the football fans felt it. You can't tell me your eyes were dry as Brett Favre and Bart Starr hugged. Generations across the nation connected in that moment.

The holiday is over. My son has returned to school. The week wasn't perfect-- it was gray, the Packers lost, none of my pants fit, and the 24 hour news cycle continues to jar me. However, the hugs continue to fuel me and make everything okay for now.

Get out the Kleenex, watch the final one-minute clip, and give a hug. 

  

 

 

Sending you peace and love through the holiday season!


Parents: Start Laboring Now for a Seemingly Labor-less Labor Day


DSC08554Labor Day weekend, the last glimpse of summer, is right around the corner. For control freaks like me, Labor Day weekend actually requires a great deal of labor to appear labor-less for the broods we love. It's an iconic American holiday marking the end of summer, so there’s serious pressure to have the most family fun EVER. I’m talking idyllic, Norman-Rockwell-painting-fun. Kennedy-Camelot-football-tossing-fun. Corn-on-the-cob-lobster-salad-and-peach-pie-buffets-appearing-out-of-thin-air-fun. You get the picture.

This very minute, tightly-wired moms are maneuvering grocery carts at dangerously high speeds and ticking items off their iPhone list faster than the average man could read it. Coolers, koozies and kites are loaded for their final summer outing, while school shoes and soccer cleats rest quietly in the corner 'til Tuesday.

Concerned not enough fun is planned for the weekend, or worried too many Uno cards are missing from the deck, anxious parents scurry to purchase last minute Mad Libs and Bananagrams for the road trips, and insanely fork out cash for that unsightly PVC pipe game involving nunchuck golf balls.

True perfectionists desperately Google Martha Stewart articles regarding not only how to pack the perfect picnic, but how to embellish it as well, because nothing says family fun like a blingy, decoupaged, origami picnic basket.

On a previous Labor Day getaway to Chicago as a single parent, I left nothing to chance. I created a detailed itinerary to maximize fun for my three sons: the John Hancock Building, Shedd Aquarium, Navy Pier, Chicago-style pizza, Nike on Michigan Avenue, a steakhouse, shopping at 900 Michigan and tickets to Mary Poppins.

IMG_0055Sure, my boys thought some initial sights were interesting, but beyond the bullet-proof divider in an old taxi, they weren’t wowed. I began to think they were a tough crowd to please. However, just when I thought the trip was a fail, they began to show enthusiasm for the magic of the city.

On the quaint carriage ride back to our hotel after Mary Poppins, the boys oohed and ahhed over the horse’s steamy dump. Ten minutes before, Mary Poppins had flown over our heads in a twinkling starlit theater. I mean, she seriously flew, umbrella in hand, and all. The boys gave flying Mary Poppins a raised eyebrow and nod. Splattered horse shit on a city street received a standing ovation, an obnoxious “Yeah, baby” and a “We love you, Chicago!”

In the Nike store I lost all three. Filled with panic, I hoped I’d see them, around each corner, arms heavy with merchandise. Instead, I spotted my boys two stories up, riding the escalators. “Hey-“ I shouted, “if you guys aren’t gonna try on any shoes, let’s move on to the next thing on my list.” Only to hear in response, “Mom! Escalators! We’re on an escalator! This is awesome! Can we ride a little longer?” I quietly mumbled, "Yeah, we don't git to the city often" and covered my “Appalachia is for Families” t-shirt. 

At the top of the John Hancock Tower, my youngest son announced, “You guys GOTTA check out the urinals in this bathroom. Come on!” They admired the Chicago skyline for three minutes and the public restrooms for ten.

Mary PoppinsThe pricey steakhouse did impress. “Mom, you picked a great place. The restroom is awesome. Huge peppermints are floating in the urinals. Did you know you can even pay a guy to watch you pee here? Seriously. They have combs you can keep.” Yes, well, along with the free matches, that’s why the guidebook recommended it, boys.

To parents who want to provide a memorable Labor Day weekend for your children, I wish you well. After you vacuum the minivan, drop the dog at the kennel, and hunt down one damn DVD that isn’t scratched to death, you might want to toss out your laminated itinerary, bedazzle your noise-reducing headphones and prepare for Plan B. 

In the meantime, I’ll be at home charting our next family vacation: the Public Restroom Tour of America. 

 

 

Liesl Testwuide, publisher of the website Hairpin Turns Ahead, uses humor and humility to write about navigating life’s twists, turns, and inevitable changes.  A divorced mom of three, she has come to accept that even though her white-picket-fence life blew up in her face, it was the best thing to happen to her.  Follow Liesl on FacebookPinterest,and Twitter.


Even Goo-Be-Gone Can't Destroy This Bond: Happy Mother's Day!

Mom and Mrs. BeasleyMy mother and I were born opposites. She's a Felix and I'm an Oscar. She's OCD. I'm ADD. Her passport is filed under "P" and mine...well, mine is around here somewhere.

Growing up, I'd purposely do the opposite of what Mom suggested. If she said, "Boy Liesl, your natural hair color is so pretty," I'd dye it darker and darker. If Mom said, "You know, Liesl, you so look nice with long hair,"  I'd cut it short. And then even shorter. I went way too far with the asymmetrical cut in the 80's.  

When Mom would mention, "Skirts are so flattering," I'd wear the Guess jeans with pockets up and down each leg. I could fit 9 beers in those jeans. And when Mom said, "Liesl, if you'd wear a bit of a heel, it'll give you a nice, long, slimming leg,"  I'd put on my coveted hiking boots with the bright red laces. 

As the female Felix Unger, she speaks a language that is foreign to me. Recently smiling, she said the words, "Just for fun, why don't you and I wash all the crystal in the dining room." I have no idea what that sentence means.  

Hiking bootsAlthough I give her a hard time, Mom has been quite a role model for being organized and keeping a clean house. Every piece of paper brought into her home is filed within a minimum of 90 seconds. She regularly bleaches the cleaning rags. She's on her 17th label maker. The last one died while labeling the light bulb cabinet shelves. It made a fizzing sound and broke into seven pieces just as she was starting on the 30-70-100 watt three-ways. 

I didn't inherit that clean gene.  

When Mother visited me in San Francisco, she asked where I kept the scissors in my apartment.

Without blinking I said in a tone, like duh, "Under the sofa." 

"How can you possibly be my daughter?" she said. "Most people keep a scissors in the kitchen or maybe in an office or laundry room."

"Yup, but I keep mine right under the couch. That way you don't even have to get up."

On the same visit, I accidentally dropped a bag of flour on the carpet. 

"No problem," said Mom. "Just get the vacuum. It'll take two minutes to clean up."

"Right...the vacuum cleaner," I said casually.

Mom, Liesl and boysPanicked, I scoured four closets until I found the damn thing. Out of breath, I plugged the machine into the walI. Like a hawk, Mom watched my every move as if she doubted my vacuuming prowess. I nonchalantly kicked my foot around the sides and corners of the thing with no luck. Then I patted my hands along the handle but nothing happened. I unzipped and then rezipped the bag part. I unplugged and replugged the machine.


About to pull out her hair and transform into Mr. Clean right before my very eyes, Mother Unger exclaimed,
"Oh my God! You don't know how to turn on your vacuum cleaner, do you, Liesl Margaret?"

"Yeah, um...well, no. I usually just get out a lint roller."

But at 27 when my boyfriend dumped me while the rest of my friends were tying the knot like a row of dominoes, I called my mom.

When I woke up July 21, 2004 and needed help with my drinking problem, I called my mom.

When I knew my spirit was dying and it was time to file for divorce, I called Mom. 

Gaga Augie meSo although I give my mom a tough time for being the clean freak she is, I'm also very grateful. I've come to her with plenty of messes and she's always helped me put the pieces of my life back together. She doesn't shy away from the debris of a storm. She's like a human SOS pad. Trust me, she will view that as a compliment.

It took me almost 40 years, but these days I listen to my mom. My hair is long. I wear heels and a skirt every chance I get. My scissors are stored safely in a kitchen drawer. It's a messy drawer, but it's progress, not perfection, right?

My mom and I look like an odd couple on the surface. She never has a hair out of place. I'm usually covered in dog hair. She plans ahead. I know I am typing this sentence at this very moment. She's 5'2", barely 100 pounds and always has my back. I'm 5'6" and weigh dis-girl-don't-shop-petite-section and lean on her heavily. Yep, an odd couple connected by the most amazing bond there is: unconditional love. Even Goo-Be-Gone can't destroy that shit.**

Not so long ago, when I became a single mother, who'd been out of the workforce for 15 years, I called my mom.  

She said, "You have a gift. Keep writing. Follow your dream. Oh, and here are some extra vacuum cleaner bags."  

Thank you, Mom. I love you! Happy Mother's Day! 

 

**Mom, sorry I swore in the Mother's Day post. I don't know where I learned such language!

 

 

 




10 Reasons the Gym Denied My New Year's Resolution Application

Woman with alarm clockI had good intentions for my New Year's resolution. Really good intentions. As a single mom, four years post-divorce, it's time to get back on the proverbial horse. Call it a horse, a rooster or whatever you choose, but it's time for me to get on something.

I decided to get back in shape to avoid being alone for the next decade, so I filled out the membership paperwork at a fancy, schmancy fitness club and awaited their response. In the meantime, I was so serious about this resolution, I shopped online and almost bought a 17-hook-and-eye sports bra made of steel. Turns out I'm not only off the hook; there likely won't be any eyes on me, either. The following arrived in the mail today:

Fitness app 2


A Letter to the Kids On the Eight Things I Wanted to Buy, but Couldn't, this Christmas

 

Christmas letter

Dear kids,

I know you're excited. You've been awake since 5:55 AM. I tried my hardest not to hear you playing Minecraft on the floor outside my bedroom. Thank you for not opening my door until it was light outside.

In a few moments, you'll open your Christmas gifts. The wrapping paper will fly, a mug of hot chocolate will hit the floor, and Styrofoam peanuts will cling to the dog's butt all day.

However, while I finally have your undivided, yet toe-tapping, impatient, attention this singular moment of 2016, I have something to share with you. Quit the eye-rolls. It's Christmas. I have the floor. I'll be short and sweet.

Christmas letter 2I need to tell you the truth about the presents you're about to receive. In all honesty, I wasn't able to buy the gifts I wanted this year. I couldn't.

I know you'll smile and nod politely when you open that new snowboard, remote control car, or electronic device. I'm grateful you'll be magnanimous. Magnanimous means- oh forget it, I know you're barely listening at this point. But in all seriousness, if I could, these are the things I'd give you this Christmas:

1. I'd give you a strong sense of individualism: the courage to forge new paths, speak up to right a wrong, and avoid following the crowd. The "in" group is not important. Having a clear conscience when closing your eyes at night is.

2. I'd give you a sense of wanderlust, a thirst to see different countries, and an appreciation of their cultures. I'd encourage you to toss aside laminated itineraries and experience the thrill of discovery. Don't let stuff get in the way of experiences. Put down the devices and participate. Notice the crisp air. Breathe in the fresh pine. Be present.

3. I'd box up a lifelong supply of questions so you'd never run out. I hope you ask as many questions at age 20, 30, 40 and 65, as you do now. And if you ever hear: "The answer to your question is, 'Because we've always done it this way,'" Be curious and challenge outdated traditions and thoughts.

4. I wish I could wrap up and give you the urge to always be kind, especially to each other. With the exception of your mother, no one's got your back like a brother. No one. It'd be awkward for your mom to saunter in the locker room to stick up for you if you were getting hassled by a jerk. There's nothing like a band of brothers for that kinda stuff and much, much more.

5. You may not understand at this age, but I want to give you the gift of serenity from living a spiritual life. I'm not talking about religion. Don't worry about people or things you can't change. Have faith in a higher power and embrace what you have, not what you don't. You are not God. Sorry. You are not the center of the universe. Sorry. I'm still wrapping my head around these facts, too. But I don't want you to think you've got to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. You don't. That's why I'd give you faith if I could.

6. You've already been given the gift of a sense of humor. I hope you'll be generous with your smiles, your laughter, and your hugs. Be the first to offer your hand, and radiate positivity and hope. Don't take yourself too seriously. The folks that do are so boring.

7. I'd love to give you the desire to be a lifelong learner. Stay teachable. Accept help and keep an open mind. The world is much cooler when you can look at it from different perspectives. Being stuck sucks.

8. No matter where you are, I'll be there for you, um, except in the boys' locker room...although don't put it past me. I am your rock. I am your North. I am your mom. You are incredible gifts.

Merry Christmas 2016!

xoxo

Mom

Yes...now you can open that other junk under the tree.

 

If you enjoyed the post above, please SHARE it through Facebook, Twitter, email, fax, snail mail, tack it on doors at Wal-Mart, read it aloud on an airplane, leave it in the bathroom at work. I'm not picky. You get the picture. Thank you!

Looking for more holiday posts? You may enjoy these:

Alone For Christmas?

My Resolutions for 2013

My Psycho Elf on the Shelf

 My 2012 Christmas Letter to Santa

2012 Christmas Card to All

My Rolling Stone Interview and Christmas Video for My Love, Louis C.K.


Let's Share the Love on Mother's Day

As Mother's Day approaches, I can't help but think back to all the interesting gifts I've received from my three sons throughout the years. I fondly recall getting a bean plant in a Dixie cup. One fragile, hopeful stalk, reinforced (suffocated) by Scotch tape. A Hugo and mom drawingcouple years later, I was treated to a Dixie cup just full of dirt. But man, I loved that dirt.

Another year one son surprised me with a beautiful type-written poem. It began, When I saw you across the room and our eyes first met, I knew it was love at first sight... Turns out the poem wasn't actually a poem. It wasn't beautiful, either. The second line began, Or maybe it was pure lust? And that's when I knew I wanted you to.... We had a brief talk about internet safety and then went to brunch.

Mothers worldwide dream of receiving painted rocks, handmade cards, extension cords (boys, I especially loved the green 8-footer, so thoughtful), and pots of marigolds along with breakfast-in-bed. Those years fly by. So bring on the macaroni, glitter and glue projects. We cherish them.

Eventually our children get older and we receive books, tickets to the symphony, or a lovely scarf. All nice gifts, but nothing quite compares to an overflowing cup of dirt that's been watered too much, carried with both hands over the white carpet, down the hallway to our bedroom at 5:30 am. We honestly don't care if that marigold ever sprouts. We just like watching our kids enjoy a moment of giving. 

And nothing beats a handwritten card mom can save to read at a college graduation or rehearsal dinner years later. This is one of my treasures:

Mother's day card

Yet for some, Mother's Day is tough, even painful. We look around, but don't always know who is suffering. Some faces are well-practiced at hiding the pain. But there are too many wonderful women in the world who won't get marigolds on Sunday.

Some wanted to be moms but were unable.

Some are estranged from their children and live with regret.

Military moms pray daily for their kids serving our country.

Some moms are in hospitals, comforting their sick children, content to get a smile, a nod, or just another day together.

Some mothers may feel sharper pains of grief on Sunday for the children they've to mourn prematurely. 

As a mom, I'm only as happy as my most unhappy child. No matter the age of my kids, when they hurt, I hurt right along with them. So although Mother's Day is a joyous occasion for so many, let's remember and comfort the women who ache for babies who were never born, have children who are sick, hurt, lost, addicted, missing, in pain, struggling, or have passed on. Their pain is our pain. 

For those of us blessed to celebrate this Mother's Day, let's be generous with our smiles, hugs, phone calls, and even our marigolds. It's the little things that make the big difference.

 


Alone for Christmas?

In about an hour I'm heading to Christmas mass alone.  I'll see families gather, little girls in their holiday dresses, little boys with wet hair, trying to keep a stubborn cowlick down. I admit, it's hard to watch. My little boys are in a different city with their father.  It will be this way every Christmas Eve so I need to learn to accept this new normal. God, I hope he wet down their hair.

Lonely woman at christmasDespite the holiday ads, TV music specials and festive decorations, the holidays can be the loneliest time of year for many. The pressure to be happy and excited can be overwhelming! If I think about past years or the way I imagined the holidays would be I get emotional. I get all wound up in what I thought life would be and that precludes me from the ability to just stay in the moment and be grateful for what I do have. 

If you are alone this holiday, without friends or family, the good news is that like any other day, Christmas is just 24 hours. When I break things down into 24 hour increments and remind myself to stay in the moment -- not focus on how I want the moment to be, or how it used to be, I can make it through. Admittedly, sometimes I need to break it down further and focus on getting through hour by hour. Nevertheless, knowing the day will pass in 24 hours, just like all the other days that have come before it, helps me weather emotional holidays. 

If you are feeling alone, just know that you are one of many feeling that way today. It's normal. No, I'm not a psychiatrist, but I'm human and therefore speak from experience. It's ok not to dance around with scissors and scotch tape singing, "Fa-la-la-la-la..."  In fact, that's just plain weird. This time of year, I believe it's most important to take good care of myself, so when those happy moments come my way, I'll be healthy and ready to enjoy them, thus no scissors-dancing.  

 Hey-- Merry Christmas. Hang in there.  And remember: you are not alone.