Get Happy

Madame President

20140605-163530.jpgMy daughter was sworn in as President today and I missed it.  Thank goodness this was just the practice run.

My alarm clock sounded at 4:30 this morning.  I sat up immediately, panicked that I might fall right back to sleep if I allowed my head to hit the pillow again.  Going back to bed would have cost me dearly.  My daughter would have banished me from her life forever if she missed the bus destined for Philadelphia with her and 80 of her classmates.

Whose idea was that?

I remember planning for a similar trip when I was in elementary school.  I was beyond thrilled, so excited to be staying in a real, live hotel room with my entire 6th grade class.  And then it was canceled.  Needless to say, I was thoroughly disappointed.  So disappointed, in fact, that it is one of the few memories that I have hung on to.  I know, I know – let it go.

There is a slight possibility that I was living vicariously through my daughter when the note came home in early September, inquiring about our interest in an overnight trip to Philadelphia.  My immediate reaction was pure excitement.  What a great experience for her – a 2 day trip with all of her classmates, taking in all of the sites and sounds of good ol’ Philadelphia.  How exciting!

And then my Mom instinct kicked in.

A 2-day trip to Philadelphia.  With all of her classmates.  In a hotel room.  Hmmmm.  The trip suddenly started sounding a bit sketchy.  Did they really need an overnight trip?  Weren’t there other, closer, sites to visit just for the day?  Philly is nice and all, but…..

These definitely weren’t the things that I thought about when I was hoping to get away with my entire class.

I managed to keep my ‘mommy crazies’ in check, I signed the permission slip, paid the bill and sent her off at 5am this morning.  The phone rang at 6pm tonight.

“Hi Mommy,” she was clearly running on pure adrenaline.

“Hi babe.  How’s your trip going?”  Based on the sound of her voice, I didn’t need to ask, but I did anyway.

“Sooo much fun!  We went to Constitution Hall and we saw the Liberty Bell and our tour guide was really funny and we climbed the Rocky steps and…..”  She couldn’t get the words out fast enough.

I suppose a future president should be allowed to venture out on overnight field trips now and then.  I’ll go to sleep happy tonight…..and I’m pretty sure Madame President will too.

 

 

 

 

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I’m Sleepy and Lucky and Happy

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There’s so much I want to write about tonight, but I’m really sleepy.  I don’t think clearly when I’m tired, so it’s unlikely that these thoughts that have been running around in my head all day will make any logical sense when I try to share them with you tonight.  I’m going to try, but consider this fair warning.

I spent the night at the CIA last night.  No, not the Central Intelligence Agency – although, if I had a bucket list, that would definitely be on it.  Becoming a secret agent is second only to learning to fly on my list of things to be and do.

But I digress.  Let’s try this again.

I spent the night at the CIA last night.  That’s the Culinary Institute of America.  If you’ve never been, you should go.  The views alone are worth the trip.  Add in the food and you’ll feel as though you’ve been swept away to some beautiful, foreign land. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there for the views or the food.  I was there for work.

The CIA was the site of our JDRF Hope Gala this year and it was a beautiful night.  I always find that our gala gives me a much-needed boost; a reminder of the importance of our work.  Sometimes I lose sight of that.  I’ve been working for JDRF for seven years.  I knew very little about diabetes when I first started and, like most people, I had an incredibly skewed perspective about the disease and its causes.  Last night, our emcee (whose daughter lives with type 1 diabetes) joked that every time his daughter talks to her grandmother, her grandmother says, “Why don’t you stop eating all that sugar.  That is why you have diabetes.”

How frustrating it must be to live with this disease.

There are two different types of diabetes:  type 1 and type 2.  Type 2 is the one most often associated with a poor diet and lack of exercise, but type 1 is different.  Type 1 has absolutely, positively nothing to do with diet and exercise and there is absolutely, positively  nothing – nothing – that you can do to prevent it.  Most people don’t know that and that’s why I love my job.

Every day I get to talk to school-age kids about diabetes.  I get to tell them that there is a difference between type 1 and type 2.  I get to tell them how cool it is that they are learning about this in elementary school because, I admit, I didn’t have a clue until I was a grown mother of two.  And do you know what’s so awesome about admitting that to them?  They think I am totally uncool for having no clue.

My job makes me feel like I might be doing something good for the world.  That makes me happy.

My goodness, there’s so much more I want to write about tonight.  I want to tell you about the two little girls I met seven years ago – my “first family.”  I want to tell you how much I learned about diabetes, about mourning the loss of life before diabetes through this family.  I want to tell you about the tween-age boy who stood up and spoke to a room full of adults about his experience with the disease.  I want to tell you about my amazing village of friends and neighbors who make it possible for me to spend an entire day at work.  The safe space that I know my kids can go to when I need to be gone from morning ’til night.

There’s so much I want to say…..but I’m sleepySo, I’ll simply say that I am lucky and that makes me happy.

Life After Life

I have this preoccupation – maybe fascination is a better word – with the notion of life after life.  My husband shakes his head whenever I pick up a book on the subject, as though this is something I seek out.  It’s not.  These books just seem to find me somehow.  And they always seem to have such perfect timing…

I was struggling the other day, trying to find new words for a friend who lost her son several years back.  Are there really any words for that?  I can’t imagine that there are, but I tried.  We all try.  We all try to find words that will somehow mend a heart that, in truth, can never heal.  There are no words, no gestures, no love that can possibly transcend that heartache.

I sat quietly and listened to the conversations around us play out.  I listened as one mother explained how her own son felt grateful that his life journey brought him to my friend.  I watched as my friend lowered her head, holding back the tears.  I imagined the mix of emotions she must have felt;  flattered yet desperate to alter her own life journey.  Desperate to find a way to cross this boy’s path while still holding on to her own boy.  There are simply no words.

That same night, I finished reading Touching the Surface – a book beautifully written by another friend.  It’s a book about second chances, about a place where souls reflect on their life and on their death.  A book about understanding life’s journey, about delving into the minds’ scary places and emerging with a new found wisdom.  And it is a book about passengers – people who selflessly accompany others on their life and death journey, their only wish being the enlightenment of another.

And suddenly I had some words.

He was a passenger, her son.  A boy who gave himself up selflessly to help guide others on their life journey.  A boy who has enlightened so many – including me – with his own journey;  inspiring passion, dedication and devotion.  A boy who touches lives even in his death.  A boy whose short life had immeasurable purpose.  I’m certain this boy was a passenger.

I know I can’t stand in front of my friend and say these words out loud.  I’m not stoic enough for that.  My words can’t take away the heartache.  Words seldom ever do.  Today, a small bit of unexpected comfort may be the best that I can do.

 

I Don’t Want to Stop and Write

There are going to be days when I simply don’t want to sit and write. I’m beginning to realize that now. Not because there is nothing to write about – just the opposite. There is so much to write about, but I’m so busy enjoying the moment that I don’t want to stop and write.

Tonight is one of those nights.

We ended our day with some good wine and some better company, but so much happened before then. There was the morning spent wandering nearby art studios with my oldest and the afternoon spent watching my youngest kick butt on the lacrosse field. There was the cute little pup we met, my daughter fell in love with and my dog seemed to have a motherly affection for. There was the alone time I spent with my youngest and there was the Jiffy Pop we bought because every kid deserves to know the happiness of popcorn popping on a stove.

There was nothing extraordinary about today. It was just a day that I didn’t want to stop. A day that I didn’t want to write. It was just a happy day.

She Can’t Get Married

20140517-211222.jpgShe just can’t get married.  That’s really all I have to say today.

Watching my little one make her Communion today tugged on every possible heart string.  That toothless grin and those little freckles, her pretty dress and that little girl veil.  Irresistible. 

But a wedding dress?

Nope.  No way.  I just don’t think I would make it.  So, today I planted the seed.  She can stay home forever with me.

Yep.  That would make me happy.

The End is Near

CT K GradI’ve spent these past two days celebrating “lasts” with my oldest daughter. A glaring reminder that the end is near.

OK, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic.

She’s moving on to middle school next year. That seems unreal; unbelievable really. I remember racing out of my office on her first day of Kindergarten, desperately trying to catch the bus as it pulled up to her daycare. I made it just in time.

“Turn around and smile before you get on the bus,” I called to her.

She looked so little. It seemed unnatural to let her go, to assume that she was in good hands and that she would make it to her Kindergarten classroom without me there to hold her hand.

She turned and smiled, her enormous backpack weighing her down and pushing her shoulders forward. She waved and waited patiently for me to take her picture…. and then she turned and found her seat on the bus. I grinned from ear to ear – so proud of my little girl who suddenly seemed so big, so independent. I waved to her, watching her little face smooshed up against the window, smiling and waving back to me. I smiled and waved until the bus turned the corner, and then I went back to my car and I cried.

Yep, I did.

That first day of kindergarten quickly turned into her last. Standing on the alphabet carpet, decked out in a paper cap, she was moving up….moving on. It seemed surreal. And then I blinked and here we are, saying goodbye to her sweet, little elementary school.

My goodness – seems I’ve made myself cry.

She still has a month – and so do I – to enjoy these lasts. Her last elementary school concert and her last challenge day, her last late morning pick-up and her last school bus ride….so many lasts. I’ll share them and savor them and store them in my Mommy memory bank, and after it’s all done, I’ll watch her move on. I’ll watch her and guide her towards so many exciting firsts.

Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Innocent…or Not-So-Innocent

An overdue phone call with a friend gave me a much-needed belly laugh today.  We talked about everything – from our crazy husbands to our narcissistic children, our bothersome jobs and our crazy families.  We talked about all of the chocolate that I’m going to eat – I mean make – for my daughter’s communion.  We talked about Mother’s Day and about being a mom.  We talked about our questionable choices in teenage boys and we fretted over our own daughters and their future choices.

What’s that saying about payback?  We may be in trouble.

In high school I dated a boy – we’ll call him Billy.  Billy embodied the classic bad boy imagebiker boots, leather jacket and a pack of cigarettes rolled up in his sleeve.  He lumbered when he walked with a toothpick in his mouth and a devious little sparkle in his eye.  His laugh was contagious and, somehow, he held on to that sweet, little boy glow.

Have I ever mentioned that I am a sucker for a hidden heart?  Well, now you know.

Shortly after stealing my heart, Billy was shipped off to a special place – a place for wayward boys not far from where I now call home.  The happenstance of life is funny sometimes.  He wrote to me on a regular basis.  I, of course, did the same.  And, on occasion, he would call.  We didn’t have cell phones, there was no caller ID and unlimited long distance calling seemed a wild and crazy notion.  Phones were planted squarely on the kitchen wall, the attached cord keeping you close by while you talked.  There were still people called ‘operators’ and they assisted with things called ‘collect calls.’  When Billy called, it was always collect and my mom always picked up the phone.

“I’m pretty sure Billy gave your mother a few gray hairs and then *Kevin took care of the rest,”  my girlfriend laughed.

Kevin (we’ll call him Kevin for the sake of this story) was the hidden heart that followed on the heels of Billy.  Kevin wore a denim jacket, his cigarettes stowed away in a pocket.  He was never shipped off to a special place and that devious sparkle was kept hidden away.

“Billy never gave my mother any gray hairs,” I laughed.  “Those were all from Kevin!”

“Billy was calling you collect from rehab,” my girlfriend said incredulously “and that didn’t give your mother gray hair?”

“I know,” the laughter came hard as I recalled, “and she would yell for me, saying ‘Sweetie, it’s Billy.  Do you want to talk to him?  Should I accept the charges?”

We laughed at the ridiculousness of it all and when we were through, we decided to hold firm in the belief that our own girls are much too smart for such things.  Of course, if they’re not, they’ll be happy to know that they have mothers who certainly are.  How lucky are they?