It would have been our 21st Anniversary

Real Parenting

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At the hospital they let me stay alone with my husband for 20 minutes after he passed.  I hadn’t left his side for more than two hours for the last three weeks.  A wonderful angle of a neighbor stepped in to help care for my kids: 11 and 14. Our minister was there and my father and family came two days before he died. But when I was alone with him after he passed I had no idea what I should do.  I took his wedding ring off his finger and took mine off and placed them both on a gold chain hanging around my neck. I then just collapsed into his body and cried telling him how much I and his children loved him.

Three years later at what would have been our 21st wedding anniversary it’s still there our rings around my neck.  I know I should have moved on and taken this pathetic plea for attention off. Yet somehow it had become a token of comfort, something tangible that I can grasp at various points during the day when I want him at my side.

Our daughter and son brought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers and wrote a touching card in honor of the day.

My daughter told me she picked out each flower for the bouquet, certainly her perfectionist father would have done the same. They are so much alike.  The flowers are beautiful just like my children.

I remember two weeks after my husband died I went to a widowers grievance support group at Greenwich Hospital.  A  widow in his 70’s said the pain of his wife’s death  four years ago hadn’t eased. In fact, he wanted to join her.  I didn’t return to the support group.

I have my husband’s personality, charm, temper and eyes in both my children for which I am blessed.  Sometimes it’s hard to ‘get over’ and ‘move on’ after your soul mate dies. Those who seem to grieve long after the acceptable time are still in pain and may not want to ‘move on’. There is no acceptable time limit for sorrow.

 

 

 

 

Women Talk Sh*t About Each Other, It’s Genetic

Real Parenting, Uncategorized

imagesA friend of mine (we are both over fifty) told me that women talk sh*t about each other because that’s what women do.  Then we’re supposed to make up and choose someone else to talk sh*t about.  Apparently it’s a gene particular to women and it’s something a woman can’t escape. “It’s what we do. We gossip,” she said.

The next morning after she told me this gem, I woke to find the most popular New York Times article on its website was “Why Women Aren’t C.E.O.s, According to Women Who Almost Were”  The article quotes Mrs. Clinton commenting on her defeat, “Certainly, misogyny played a role” in her loss to Donald Trump. I would venture it wasn’t just men hating Mrs. Clinton but many women didn’t support her and chose Donald Trump. I was aghast that she lost. And more shocked that women supported Trump. I was so proud of being a woman in the USA and to witness the first female president.

 

My daughter was ecstatic with the possibilities and campaigned for Hillary as did my friend’s daughters. I felt a resounding attitude that a woman was qualified and the best candidate for president and would be elected. After all hadn’t Trump said  a slew of misogynist statements such as “Grab them by the pussy”images-2 and all women hate prenups, because they are gold diggers and pumping breast milk is “disgusting.” Or that a woman must be hot in order to be a journalist and women on “The Apprentice” need to rely on sex appeal.

Yet some women chose him over Hillary. Was this the Stockholm Syndrome? Some of my female friends confided to me that they liked Hillary better but their husbands supported Trump. I was astonished that they were still married to their sexist husbands much less quietly kept peace because their husband were “good providers.”

I don’t think women are inherently in competition with other women.  I support other women and would like to think they support me. Talking sh*t about other women is horrid, not a casualty of my sex. As Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.”  After all, I am woman.

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

 

I Don’t want your Husband, I want mine

Real Parenting, Uncategorized

usI may ask you how to start the generator or how to work a chain saw to remove a fallen tree or what type of epoxy to use to replace tile or if I can borrow an axe but you tell me your husband does that. So, I ask your husband for advice.  Yes it’s more important to me to be friends with your husband for survival reasons but it’s one hell of a jump to think I’m making the moves on him.  I loved and love my husband. And after a terrible illness he is gone, not just to me but his children. Yet I still need to survive.  There’s no pot full of gold for my family after his death, there’s heartache and survival.

My neighbors exclude me from parties, but invite my son.  He’s at all the neighborhood spontaneous gatherings: Memorial Day, Fourth of July, the just because what the hell let’s have a party. But I’m never asked. Maybe that’s because I’m their worst nightmare, the 50 something widow without a life insurance policy payout. I know why you dread having me around.  I’m like the ghost of things to come in the Christmas Carol.

But that doesn’t mean you should shun all the single ladies.  I was married for twenty years. I’m not looking to entice your husband as my sugar daddy. I’m looking for advice on how to care for a home. I’m looking for employment. And yes, I’m looking for female friends.  I have thankfully one married woman who invites me to gatherings and welcomes me into her home.  Her husband, a doctor, was at my husband’s side in the hospital when he passed. To both of them I’m eternally grateful.

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

 

 

Are You Cool

Real Parenting

uncool3I was cool, but no longer. My kids say I’m like uncool. In other words, my cool is their uncool. If you can agree with any of the following, you are no longer cool. You’re uncool. Welcome to the club!

  1. You type texts on your with your index finger?
  2. You leave 2 spaces between sentences.
  3. You get out of the car, take your phone and the GPS App starts giving you directions in the store.
  4. You have a home phone
  5. The main use of your land line phone is to call your cell phone so you can find it.
  6. On Facebook you post an obituary and tag the deceased.
  7. You believe in the practicality of fanny packs.
  8. You still turn around when you back up in the car although you have a backup camera.
  9. You watch the network evening news.
  10. You watch it on a television
  11. You pay bills via snail mail.
  12. You write in cursive.
  13. When you listen to music and hear a song you like, it’s a remake of a song originally sung by a group at least 20 years ago.
  14. You don’t recognize the names of the majority of current bands
  15. You think your daughter’s dresses are shirts.
  16. You tuck your shirts in pants
  17. You own a velour workout suit
  18. You believe the word Brazilian should only be used in reference to a person, not a beauty procedure.
  19. You have email account with AOL.
  20. You wear clogs and you aren’t a a doctor, or a nurse or cook.
  21. You think a hook-up is something on the back of your car.
  22. You wear sneakers in neon colors.
  23. You think tattoos are only appropriate for pirates.
  24. You wear a watch.
  25. You subscribe to a hard copy magazine or newspaper.
  26. You can’t turn on your home lights with your smart phone
  27. You use a rolodex or date book.
  28. You require your son to take his hat off when he sits down at the table or in church
  29. You pay by check or cash
  30. You “drink” water as opposed to “hydrate.”
  31. You think it is rude for someone to look at her phone when she’s talking to you.
  32. You wear nylons
  33. You feel bra straps should be covered by your top
  34. You rent DVD’s
  35. You want store receipts printed out, not just emailed to you.
  36. Black, grey or dark navy are the only clothing colors appropriate for funerals.
  37. You use a real clock for an alarm
  38. You mail, via horse and buggy invitations
  39. You bank in a bank.

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

Sibling Rivalry: I Love You Both!

Real Parenting

I have a daughter and son, both teenagers and one child asks whom do I love most. “Both,” never satisfies as an answer but it should. I promise my child its not a cop-out. It’s the truth. Granted, I may LIKE one child more at different times, but never does my love wane for either one.  My frustration fluctuates, but that’s not love.

After I had my first child I thought I could never have another baby, for my love of my daughter was so powerful and strong it could never be replicated. If I were to have another child, it would be impossible for me to love him as much. That child would end up as the forgotten bag of groceries left in the shopping cart.

I never wanted my daughter to be an only child. I had 3 siblings growing up and it was wonderful . As my biological clock ticked louder, I knew if I really wanted another child I needed to conceive ASAP. Like many decisions I’ve made, I went for my gut feeling and did it.

There wasn’t any less love for my daughter when my son was born.  Somehow my heart grew bigger and my love for my daughter grew as my love for my son blossomed. The more love I had for my children and husband the more love I had to give. Love is not limited, it’s infinite.

Sometimes, one child needs may require more attention and monitoring than the other but that should never be confused with the strength of my love. I love them both to infinity and beyond. I hope they will feel my love and love each other…someday.both1

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

 

 

Body Image and Males

Real Parenting

IMG_6486I have had many a discussion with female friends who bemoan the fact that women and girls don’t have the same societal standards for body image that boys and men have regarding, clothes, skin care, hair, weight and cellulite. Unfortunately for our sons, I think they also have impossible standards subjected on them that can cause social anxiety, eating disorders and interference with learning.

Let’s pick it apart starting with clothes. Teenage boys may not care about how dirty their clothes get at the end of the day, but they certainly want to wear the right brands and put on clean clothes in the morning. I’m raising both a daughter and son and can say they both are very choosy when it comes to color, style, fit, brand and latest trend. In fact, boys have this whole thing about athletic shoes that the girls don’t have such as finding the latest Micheal Jordan. My daughter certainly never cared about socks as much as my son and even though her designer jeans and Lululemon leggings cost more than his Vineyard Vines pants, national sports team logo wear or goofy lacrosse pants, the label was important and both wanted what they wanted.

Skin care is paramount to both genders. Nobody wants huge, swollen, pussing zits. Although, boys usually don’t wear make-up, in a way that’s too bad, since it’s a crutch not available to them to feel beautiful with just application of a few products.

When it comes to hair I think it might be harder for the boys. Most girls wear their hair long with subtle variations with length and bangs, but boys need a hair style and are concerned with the perfect hat if they don’t like their cut.

Then there’s body image, a particularly painful subject for me.  Frequently I hear men/boys don’t have to be concerned with their weight and they don’t struggle with dieting, unfortunately this isn’t true. Maybe boys suffer in silence, as do many girls, but they suffer at increasingly alarming rates and help may be more difficult to access.

Thanks to the pressure that always existed combined with social media postings, it’s no longer safe to think we can just assume indifference to our boys’ emotional state concerning appearance and weight. Women are gaining equal rights slowly in many fields but some of the cultural norms we hold are nothing I want to share with my son.  IMG_6488Body dysmorphia should be eliminated not granted equal rights. Neither my son nor my daughter need to be defined by his or her thigh gap.

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

Does Falling in love exist after 50?

Real Parenting

Widowed? Divorced? Never Married? Bad Marriage?

Maybe you haven’t been ‘in love’ since your first love.  Maybe you’ve fallen out of love. Maybe there’s no desire to have sex. Or maybe you’ve just given up.

Is it possible to fall in love with someone after a certain age? I’m not talking about falling in lust or falling in love with the idea of being taken cared for.

Is it possible to sexually desire someone? To feel overjoyed at a phone call ? To look forward to being with someone?  To feel an attraction so strong that you actually daydream about being with him or her and can’t stop thinking about him?  I’m talking about the whole deal. To want to be with someone because it feels so right and exciting at the same time.

Do the great powers that be agree with any self-doubt you might have? Let’s face it none of us look like we were in our teens or even forties anymore.  And even if you’ve had tons of plastic surgery, great dermatological procedures, daily workouts and diligent dieting, the experiences you’ve gone through, can’t be eliminated with a little Botox..

Can love exist for people who’ve gone through heartbreak and lost? Or is love only  reserved for the young, the beautiful, the affluent?

I have little tolerance for bullshit. I want to edit through an individual and get to his core. Maybe it’s because my biological clock is ticking, not for a baby but for the possibility of enjoying the next thirty plus years of my life (hopefully) in love.

Maybe the answer to true love is a website away or maybe it’s a pipe dream and loneliness is better since at least it’s real and not a delusion.

 

 

 

Little Kitchen in the ‘Burbs

Real Parenting

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I’m a city girl at heart, loving the life of the doorman and handyman a buzzer away.  There was no grass to mow. No trash cans to pull down to the end of the driveway. Gardening was done in containers on the deck with the dirt and plants delivered by kind delivery men who were even kinder with a large tip. And when it was too cold to garden, we didn’t have to worry about shoveling snow or warming up the car. Our chariots were stored in the condominium garage and appeared when summoned with the heater blasting and door open waiting our arrival.

 

One of the most difficult transitions into suburban living was limited food delivery to our remote abode. Unfortunately for everyone involved, I needed to expand my culinary talents beyond the preparation of Kraft Mac & Cheese dinner and Pop-tarts.

My husband decided he’d be at my side assisting me in this cooking journey and presented me with the “White House Cook Book.” I guess if Jackie O ate dinners made from recipes in this book, it must be good, but wasn’t she smoking like a chimney and drinking gin and tonics for cocktail hour(S) every night before the meals were presented to her? Ode to Camelot. Chef Verdon didn’t include this tidbit in his recipes.IMG_6304 The only recipe I mastered in the book after several months of trial and error was, “Poularde Francillon” which my six and three-year old soon referred to as “White House Chicken,” as in “Do we have to have White House Chicken again? I’m soooo sick of it!”  Yet I never grew tired of the cuisine, mainly because it called for a pint of champagne which left half bottle for me to enjoy as I prepared la cuisine. I also applauded the rich flavor from the 3 cups of heavy cream and 1/2 cup melted butter since Atkins was the diet du jour back then.

My supportive husband decided I might need more help in the kitchen, so he presented me with “Le Cordon Bleu At Home.” NowIMG_6309 I could learn classic French Cuisine from the masters. All I had to do was complete the course by learning over 70 “simple techniques”.  I mastered scrambled eggs but after many meals of “oeufs brouilles,” we soon couldn’t stand the sight of eggs, I particularly disliked the ouefs since they didn’t call for any ingredients from the Champagne region.

Submitting to the young uns’ demands, my husband ordered fast food from the local Chinese take out. I’m not sure why it was called Chinese but after one bite knew why it was called take out since it was so vile we had to immediately “take out” the food to the trash!

Not one to deny our children good food, my husband’s solution was delivered to me by Amazon several days later. IMG_6445 (1)

However, many of the recipes were impossible to replicate since I couldn’t find ingredients like hairy melon, bird’s nests and shark’s fins at Stop & Shop.

Due to the dearth of ingredients, my husband quickly changed gear and decided to trade in the wok for a pasta rolling machine. This time Gourmet Magazine’s Ruth Reichl joined me in the kitchen.IMG_6452

Her stay was short-lived when my husband discovered her recipe for stuffed breast of veal called for matzoh instead of the traditional Italian stale bread. Obviously her food was ridiculous! I personally grieved Ruth’s departure since many of her recipes called for vino.

Not to fret, Little Italy was soon replicated in my 80’s style mustard yellow kitchen, (upgrading the kitchen was on our to-do list.) when the “Bible of authentic Italian cooking” was delivered.  Soon,I discovered why it was called the “Bible.”IMG_6442 (1)

I needed God to intervene when it came to Rotlolo di Pasta, which is  hand rolled pasta rolled around stuffing,  then wrapped in a clothe, secured by a string and poached. Only deep prayer and the intervention of God was the way I was going to successfully cook anything from this book.

The culinary world is always evolving and we soon forget the Bible, after all it was the 21st century. My husband decided I needed to modernize my entrees . Thanks to another Amazon ‘gift’, I was to become the guru of wheat juice which incidentally has more carbohydrates than Chef Verdon’s White House recipes ladened with butter and cream and sadly none of the wine.IMG_6448 (1)

Although the vegan period was short-lived it served a purpose when I served fresh beet and garlic juice. Although no one could drink it, the juice reminded my husband of a time not so long ago when he enjoyed borscht in New York City. Honestly, I hate beets. They have always triggered my gag reflex. So I wasn’t too keen on developing a palatable borscht.  Yet once again my knight in shining armor came to the rescue with yet another gift. We no longer would miss the Russian Tea Room, thanks, honey. IMG_6446 (1)I guess the Russian cuisine ran it’s course after my husband grew tired of listening to my gagging at the dinner table.

By this point my significant other discovered the Food Network and decided I needed to kick it up a notch. Bam!  Just like that the UPS man delivered a cooking book by the Food Network’s Giada De Laurentiis. My husband suddenly developed an insatiable appetite for her style of Italian cuisine. He generously invited me to watch an episode with him so I could emulate her skills.  Boy she had no use for the cleaver with all the cleavage she exposed. Giada was meat eater. Maybe that’s what turned me vegan. The book was returned.

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Some say,  “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”I guess this explains why I’m a widow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ode to Lacrosse Moms

Real Parenting

laxmomSo I’m packing for a weekend of lacrosse that the parents of the kids on my teenage son’s team will attend. I’m slightly challenged trying to find, slimming, age appropriate fashionable, decade current  (ie not short, shorts from the eighties, “If you dare wear short, shorts Nair for short, shorts…”) clothing that might fit the bill. In addition, to this treacherous challenge, I have to get the drinks, snacks, cooler and directions ready.  Fortunately, my son packs for himself.  If you want your children to learn to pack on their on pack old super hero t-shirts and too small underwear with cute puppies on them.  I guarantee, they’ll never let you pack for them again.

Back to me…ok, I might pack a pair of leopard print shorter shorts from J. Crew that I bought on sale, end of season, at least seven years ago when I had a perky derriere, but now they just slide down my hips and show my crepy legs…on to the next. There is a pair of turquoise shorts with red embroidered tulips from Talbots but I’m not sure.  The other day I was wearing them to Stop & Shop and a man out front collecting donations for the needy told me he’d wear them to play golf.  UGH! Not the image I’m going for. Challenging!

And  this is even before I decide on a swim suit. Ok all my Speedo suits from back in the day when I was a swimmer have zero support, forget about it! Bikinis, that ship left the port a long time ago. This leaves the safety suit for all us middle-aged women: a tankini with a  little skirt type bottom.  Look out son, Mom’s about to rule the hotel pool!

Now for what my daughter thinks is the watershed moment: the fanny pack. To pack or not to pack, that is the question.  Let’s be real. I’ll be on hot fields for six hours at a shot. I’ll need my iPhone, headphones, tournament field assignments map, instructions,  money (for purchasing countless mini lacrosse sticks and over priced t-shirts) and of course the car keys. There’s no way I’m going to carry a handbag but all the items I need don’t fit into my short pockets; in fact I’m lucky if a can tuck a slim bill in them much less keys.  The fanny pack is a must, along with a box of wine for back at the hotel. Forget “God Save the Queen.” It should be ‘God Save the Lacrosse Mom.”

 

 

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Peonies and Love

Real Parenting, Uncategorized

I’m not sure why peonies are my favorite flower. Maybe it’s that I grew up with floral arrangements of roses, carnations and baby’s breath so when I first saw what I thought were roses on steroids I was astonished, but more likely it’s because l knew my Chinese mother in law loved them.

I brought a bouquet of white lilies to my first mother’s day as a newly married daughter in law. She didn’t seem pleased when I handed them to her, yet was still gracious. I don’t think the arrangement ever made to a vase. Later that evening my husband told me white lilies in the Chinese tradition were considered funeral flowers to be displayed by a casket. My husband gently suggested peonies. He said they were her favorite flower.IMG_5913

Eighteen years later my husband died in the winter.   I wanted to bring them to his memorial service but it was February and I couldn’t find a florist that had them. That spring, I planted peonies throughout my yard. They only bloom for a short period of time, and they are perhaps the most ephemeral flowers I know but I  remember my mother in law saying that she looked forward to them blooming in her family’s courtyard in Shanghai every spring. And I remember my husband bringing them home every June and handing them to me with a huge smile on his face.

Maybe it’s ironic or just coincidental but my daughter’s favorite flowers are peonies. The other day she walked through the door with a beautiful smile carrying two huge bouquets of peonies. She suggested I get more so, I did. Today our house is full of peonies and the sweet remembrance of my mother in law and my husband and the ever-present love of my beautiful daughter in whom I see traces of my husband and her grandmother everyday. Yes, life and love are short and ephemeral like peonies, but when they bloom it is to be appreciated.IMG_5917

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.