Tag Archives: mother

The lesson often left out of the lesson book.

Royalty free image courtesy of Microsoft Office.

Thursdays are my day. The day that both girls are in classes outside of the house while my husband is at work. It is the day I reserve for me. No interruptions. No coffee dates with friends. No animal appointments or other errands. It’s my day to do with as I please, be it writing this blog or in my journal, watching a movie or strolling the mall, reading or walking along a creekside trail. Thursdays are my day, or at least they were supposed to be.

Today marks the 9th Thursday since A started her “one day a week” classes this year. Out of the previous 8, I’ve enjoyed exactly one half of a one of those Thursdays writing as planned. There has been no mall strolling, reading, movies or creekside trails. But, there has been bills, cleaning, babysitting, and phone calls. Last Sunday, I decided I would reclaim and guard my Thursdays to use as I had planned before before the school year began. Today would mark the relaunch of my “self-care Thursdays”, or at least it was supposed to.

Two days ago, A presented herself to me with alien eyes. Her face was so puffy, I barely recognized my little girl. She didn’t complain, but she wondered if her eyes looked a little swollen. (“No,” I thought, “not if you’re trying out for a role on Star Trek.”) I softly tapped my fingers along the sinus cavities beneath her eyes. I gently pressed along her forehead.  “Is the cat sleeping on your pillow again?” I asked before directing her to strip her bed and bring the linens downstairs. The answer was obvious before her reply.

Yesterday morning, she again presented herself with puffiness so marked she appeared to be developing a black eye under her right eye. “Does it hurt?” I worried. “Either way, I’m taking you in to the doctor this morning. I want to rule out a sinus infection.” The doctor also assumed allergies and instructed me to give her some standard allergy meds when we got home. “If her symptoms increase tomorrow, however…”

“Bite your tongue!” raced through my thoughts. “Tomorrow is MY Thursday, my day of peace and the day I’ve reserved as my mental reset button! No, no, she’ll be fine after I dose her up with some meds.” Or, at least she was supposed to be.

Though better, her eyes were still puffy this morning. (“She can still go to school,” I justified.) Unlike yesterday, there was no mistaking the familiar congestion sound in her voice and the occasional cough belied her “I’m OK, but I’ve got a bad headache and I’m hot.” In rare Mama-form, I told her to stand outside in the crisp Colorado air at 6 in the morning. If it didn’t cool her down, it would certainly wake her up. My Thursday was at stake.

I took her temperature and prepared some toast so she could take ibuprofen. A little banana and down went the decongestant. 45 minutes later I could see my day of solitude slipping away. I was going to write today. It’s the start of NaBloPoMo and I planned to kick-start this blog (again) and reply to the comments on my last post that I neglected and read each of the 4 books on my nightstand for at least an hour and get caught up (again) on others’ blogs and finalize my November goals and work on my vision board and finish the Christmas budget and send emails I’ve neglected and maybe give myself a mani-pedi and solve world hunger all before 2:30 this afternoon.

I was at a crossroads: I could push my child to go, or I could teach her a lesson one rarely finds in life’s lesson book.

I sat down and stroked the sweaty bangs off her forehead, but before I could open my mouth she said, “Mom, how about if I go for a half a day, and if I’m feeling really bad at lunch you could come get me?” (“Oooh, I could still have at least half a day to myself….”)

I looked into her eyes, those puffy, alien eyes and told her the decision was hers. “I’m going to walk away so my energy isn’t in your space,” I told her “and I want you to listen to your body, really listen, and make the decision that is best for you and what your body needs today.”

It’s a novel concept. At least for me it is. The idea of self-care is one that was poorly demonstrated by my mother. I grew up hearing the story of my mother hosting a dinner party the same day she had delivered my younger sister, her 10th child. I watched as she would continue to care for her family though less healthy than a zombie. I watched, and I learned well. When I was younger, I pushed myself to attend school or work when  standing upright felt like an Olympic event. As a mother, I’ve repeatedly pushed myself to “bounce back” after illnesses or even surgeries far faster than advised, and though I’ve told my girls that there are no awards for being a martyr, I’ve regrettably demonstrated self-neglect more often than self-care.

I kept my word and walked away as A made her decision this morning. I encouraged her to make the decision her body needed, not the one she thought I wanted to hear. “Just listen,” I encouraged, “Your body knows what it needs.”

“Sleep,” she told me, “My body said it needs sleep.”

In the solitude of her room, buried under the weight of 5 blankets, she is giving her body what it both asked for and needs. And in return, I’ve both taught and learned a valuable lesson on this Thursday; in both sickness and in health, our bodies always tell us what it needs and we honor ourselves and those around us when we listen and act accordingly.

Are you practicing what you hope your children will emulate?

If you feed them, they will come.

See, I really do cook. Proof for my kids after they've moved out.

The movie “Julie and Julia” is one of my very favorites because:

1) It is about a blogger gone famous and who of us in the blogosphere hasn’t dreamed about that?

2) It is about Julia Child–who lived a really, really cool life filled with adventure and love!

3) It made me think of my mom, my mom who loved to cook and worked hard to master Julia’s cookbook. The recipes prepared, joked about, or ruined during the course of the film reminded me of home. Am I the only one out there who ate aspic growing up? I wish I could have shared that movie with my mom.

I don’t mind cooking, but I’m certainly not my mom in the kitchen, and Julia would likely cringe at the lack of butter used in my home. Nonetheless, I do cook. Sometimes, even from scratch.

A few weeks back, I stood, rolling raw hamburger around in my hands. I was teaching C how to make meatballs, nothing “special”, just meatballs, but a special treat for the teen who is gluten-free and can no longer indulge in the ease of Costco’s frozen meatballs. Her sister hung out at the computer desk nearby. The three of us chatted away, and I shared memories of their grandma who loved to cook.  As C placed a meatball on the tray, she asked me about my favorite food prepared by Grandma. There were many, but neither of my top two came from Julia’s cookbooks. I answered: her chile rellenos and her bread. “Grandma,” I explained, “made killer chile rellenos, but it was her bread that I remember most. Fresh baked bread several times a week.”

(A wanted to know if she used a bread machine like me–or did she “Do it right?” Before her sister and I went gluten-free, I made my bread by hand, the method still preferred by the change-resistant, younger one.)

C’s question was a fun one. It took me back in time. I remembered details of my mom’s big kitchen and the food and fun shared there. I asked C to tell me what her favorite food or meal is that I prepare.  She answered me with silence. Dead silence. And, an embarrassed grin.

I stood, dumbfounded. Panic filled my heart and denial raced through my thoughts. Seriously? I cook. I do. I may have relied on the fast and easy nachos a bit too often recently, but I do cook. I even been known to enjoy it and make large meals. Complete meals. Though my cookies and candies may be requested more often than any dinner I make, I cook dinners, too!  Sometimes. 

I waited. She had nothin’. I turned to her younger sister, “What about you? What’s your favorite?” “Your bread, when you made it by hand,” she answered.

Guilt squeezed out the panic and I pleaded for crumbs of validation. “Really?” I asked, “Has it been that long?” (It hadn’t, but I had been played by the masters: teens.)

In the last few weeks, I turned my energies to the kitchen. No child will leave this house without a food-based, favorite memory. There’s been calzones, focaccia, homemade vegetable soup, stew, lasagna, chicken with peanut sauce and (of course) chili.  There’s been homemade waffles, pancakes, puddings, even (failed) gluten-free cinnamon rolls. And all before the big, big feast this week.

Yep, I had been played. But, it has been worth it. I have cooked with intention; the intention of making memories. For the previous 5 and half years,my  husband’s work hours ran long and late most nights. The unpredictability of his return home made it difficult to schedule “dinner time” and the girls and I often finished our meals before he got home. It was easy to get lazy in the kitchen when I knew we wouldn’t all be sitting down together. It was easy to sit on the couch, eating in front of the TV or at the computer. We all ate alone. The family dinner table collected more dust than crumbs.

Thankfully, my husband now works for a company that wants everyone heading home by 5:15 and the girls and I can expect to hear his key in the door by 5:45. Dinnertime is family time, once again. We sit together. We laugh. We talk. We create memories.There is renewed excitement to bond together. If you feed them, they will come.  And, come hell or high water, my children will be able to name a favorite dish before they leave this house!

How do you bond as a family?