Weak end

I sat alone by the lake close to the spot where my brother almost drowned. “Why didn’t you try to save me?” I heard him ask. Because I was only six. He told me that he still has nightmares about drowning. How can that be? He was only two. Sometimes when I am all alone the memories scratch my mind. 

I was hoping that my weekend up north would be peaceful and relaxing. For the first time all summer, I had a weekend without plans. I decided to go up north with my two daughters to prepare for Angel’s graduation party next weekend. I cleaned the cabin and hid the clutter. My parents still have boxes with my middle school books in them. 

Saturday morning I received a call from my son. He said that the car wouldn’t start. As I sit here typing, my car is broke down in the front lawn awaiting repair. There has already been fighting over the use of vehicles since Alex got his license almost 2 weeks ago. This is the start to the busiest week so far this summer. My youngest is in summer school and needs a ride. Angel got asked to babysit and provide transportation for 3 different families this week. Plus she took on Arabella’s pet sitting job while she is in summer school. We need a car! I had to find a ride to work and back. 

I ended up letting Alex drive my car this past weekend while I was gone. He was asked to pick up the mother of his girlfriend’s best friend who was too drunk to drive. Great! He was happy because she bought him food at the drive thru. I don’t even know this woman! It is not too uncommon for new driver’s to be the designated driver. That’s real life in the drinking state. I know people that have their kids pick them up from the bar almost every weekend. I suppose it is better than driving drunk. What kind of life is that for a teen? 

With all the driving around that my kids are doing, I should put an Uber sticker on the car. Maybe they can make enough money to pay for the gas.

The whole rest of the weekend my daughters fought something terrible. It even carried over into today. Arabella brought a friend up north. She made rules for her friend that she was not allowed to talk about how awesome her sister Angel is or spend time with her. The rules didn’t work out too well. Her friend didn’t like being bossed around. Arabella didn’t want to play the games that she wanted to play whereas her sister did. We tried playing badminton, Arabella would only be on the team with her friend. She didn’t want to play by the rules and got mad at her sister when our team was winning. Then she chased her sister around the yard with the racquet. 

They screamed at each other. Arabella accused Angel of stealing her friends. Her friend was crying because she liked both of them and just wanted them to get along. It was absolutely miserable. I just wanted to pull out my hair. I have never seen Arabella so jealous and angry at her sister before. She even told me that she was afraid that the dog she was pet sitting would like Angel more. It is hard because Angel is older and has better people skills. Last weekend her cousins told her that they liked Angel but not her. Then she tries to force them to like her and it doesn’t work. 

I spent the weekend worried about problems. I was irritated by the constant fighting when we could be having a fun time. Then I thought about memories that made me feel sad. 

I wish I could just do the whole weekend over. 

Road trip

Angel and I decided to go on a little road trip.

Tomorrow is Angel’s freshman college orientation. Then we are heading to Wisconsin Dells for one full day at the water park. We are ending the road trip with my cousin’s wedding in Milwaukee this weekend. 

It was a long and fairly uneventful several hour drive to Angel’s new home. We saw the smallest little Bambi come out to us in the middle of the road without hitting it. We saw Amish children working in their gardens while the Amish men were working their fields with several large horses. I saw a very large man cross the road to get his mail in shorts. Little images stick in my head from the road. The men at the first stop and go light holding signs asking for change for a burger wearing better clothes than mine. The waitress at the restaurant who exchanged numbers with my daughter because they would be attending the same college together for the first time in the fall. The rest was a blur of people, places, and things but mainly fields. Field after field as we wound through small towns.

I left a list behind. A list of things that I do. Chores that need to be done on certain days. I entertain this fantasy that the others can’t live a few days without me. You would be proud of me, I let go of perfectionism when it comes to chores. I let the kids help out. I give them chore lists. I also implemented a cooking rotation. The kids get to pick out the recipe, shop for ingredients, help make the food, and clean up one day a week one kid at a time. I have given up a lot of control.

I remember a conversation with the mom of Alex’s first girlfriend. She told me that she does not allow her children to do anything because they don’t do it up to her standards. No laundry, no cleaning, and absolutely no cooking. She said that she was OCD that way. I thought about the words she said for a long time, in fact longer than the relationship lasted. I thought that I didn’t want my kids to end up marrying someone that didn’t know how to do anything. Then I pointed the finger back at myself because I really was the same way. I never wanted my kids to do anything either because it really wasn’t perfect enough. How is that going to prepare them for the future?? It doesn’t. So I decided to let go.

I give them chores and I look the other way when it is not clean enough. Sometimes I rewash the dishes. Some of my kids seem to realize that their lack of cleanliness bothers me. Sometimes they do a crappy job in hopes that they will no longer be asked. But it doesn’t work that way. 

I think that everyone will survive just fine without me for a few days. After all, they will be living a long adulthood without mommy being there to clean up their messes. 

I am planning on enjoying this road trip and spending some time with my daughter as adults all alone on an adventure…

Graduation day


This past weekend, it happened. My oldest child grew up and graduated from high school. It was a very busy weekend with a whirlwind of activity which I am sure to write about in the next couple of days.

I just wanted to let you know that I made it through the whole graduation ceremony without crying. Phew! I started the day by putting on lots of black eye makeup. I told myself that I can’t cry because I would look like a raccoon for the pictures. So we took this before picture just in case. Then both Paul and Angel admonished me in advance about not taking too many pictures. I admit I am rather trigger happy when it comes to taking pictures of important events.

During the graduation, the choir sang a very touching song. The mothers in front of me were recording it and crying. Paul nudged me several times about getting out in front and taking pictures. I didn’t want to cut off the crying moms. I also felt rather irritated with Paul bugging me about taking pictures when he said earlier not to go overboard. Although, it ended up being a blessing since it probably stopped me from sobbing my eyes out.

I did my fair share of crying over graduation the past couple of weeks.

I decided to make a conscious effort to be happy for Angel. She has such a promising future ahead of her. That is something to be happy and excited about, not to mope and cry about. But bets were placed anyway whether or not I would cry.

The great news was that all of Angel’s grandparents were able to make it to the graduation. We were very surprised to see Martha there. She decided to skip her chemo appointment in order to make sure that she felt good enough to go. She realized how important it was to Angel to be there. I am thankful for that!

Afterwards, we had a small pizza party at our house to celebrate. It was a very nice day!

Graduation anticipation

Today I want to talk some more about graduation. Eons ago, when I graduated from high school, we had to sit a couple of hours in a warm stinky gym. The mothers cried while the teens rejoiced in their new found freedom. We listened to someone talk for what seemed like hours in a monotone voice (of course!) saying something about this being the first day of the rest of our lives…blah, blah, blah… Now let’s get out of this school and on with our lives. We knew it all already. Why do we need someone telling us what to do? Graduation lasted for a few hours for one day. You’d think that some things, like graduation ceremonies, never change. Right? Nope.

For the last several weeks now we have been celebrating graduation with the seniors. It started out with the senior tea, which was really a mother-daughter banquet for the senior girls. No, we didn’t even drink a lick of tea. We did watch the jazz choir perform. Then between that and all of the other pre-graduation events, we had a slew of the last of everything. The last choir concert where we said good bye to the seniors. Last, last, last, last, last..

Then there was the senior scholarship banquet. Thankfully, Angel applied for many scholarships and received a few since the college she selected is far from cheap. Then last night there was the senior banquet for the parents and their graduate. We had a meal followed by the class picks. Angel was picked as the most musical in her class. Then we watched a slide presentation of pictures from over the senior year. The slide presentation went very fast before we could even focus on the images we were seeing. It went almost as fast as the senior year. Then they had baby pictures followed by senior pictures. ***Insert tears here*** 

What happened next floored me. They filmed showing the graduates items that they had to identify such as a fax machine, a pager, a camera with a flash bulb tower, and a floppy disc. The seniors could not identify the items. Really, where did the time go?? Then they had teachers close to my age answer questions. They asked, “What is a bae?” Apparently, it is not a large body of water. What is a tinder? Apparently not kindling to start a fire. I leaned over and asked Angel what a tinder was again. She said it was a hook up site. Hhmmm, a hook up to kindle a fire?  Certainly not. I can’t even imagine online dating. I have never felt so old!

The events over the past several week have been confusing. Sometimes we had to dress up, sometimes it was casual, and sometimes they had to wear their caps and gowns. I never could figure out what to wear. This morning was the award ceremony. Apparently this event required a cap and gown but Angel not know that. She drove 20 minutes to school and realized that she needed it. She called home upset saying that she wouldn’t be able to graduate. Angel started driving back home but was almost out of gas with no money. Paul ended up running her cap and gown to the school early since I didn’t even take a shower yet or get my dress clothes on. Yikes! It all worked out in the end.

On the way to the award ceremony, I had the radio on. I heard the song Rumpshaker that was popular when I was Angel’s age. Tears threatened to erupt from my eyes once more. Over the stupid song Rumpshaker! Geez. I was thinking about how old I was feeling. Hearing an old song made me think of the time that I thought I knew everything. I realize now that I am old and still don’t know anything. My eyes started watering, but I couldn’t have raccoon eyes before I even got to the school. Get a grip!

The awards ceremony lasted several hours. I sat next to the valedictorian’s mother. The valedictorian’s parents are both doctors. She was picked as the most likely to succeed. She earned 75% of the awards. She has a brilliant I’m going to find the cure for cancer mind. Angel won a few awards too. She received the top music student award. She has an incredible record for music performance including earning 3 exemplary awards at state. You can only earn that award for solos that have a perfect score. Angel earned 3 awards, a new record for the school. The valedictorian’s mother leaned over and congratulated me on my daughter’s success. I was shocked at her kindness since her daughter received more awards than she could carry. 

Now after having half my calendar booked this month with pre-graduation events, the big event is this weekend. I am sure that a few parents will be crying in relief that it is finally over. Did I just say that?? Not to mention the kids having finals this week and having countless graduation practices. Tomorrow is graduation cap and gown practice and pictures. Then a summer of endless graduation parties. I still have a few invites to send out, pictures to find, and a party to plan. Okay, maybe graduation does not end after graduation…

Today my neighbors brought their newborn baby home from the hospital. It seems like yesterday that I was doing the same.

Time to move on

The marathon is over, now it is time to move on to next weekend’s big event. Graduation! My daughter will be graduating from high school. I think that I finally accepted the fact that she is ready to move on with her life without us. Over the past couple of weeks we attended her last school play, a musical that she was in, state solo and ensemble, and her last choir concert crying a little along the way. Last, last, last, and last. I don’t want to be sad about this anymore! I want to be excited about all of her new adventures in life. First, first, new, new, new..

Throughout the last several years, my mom, Paul, and I have supported Angel though all of her events. Last night Angel expressed some sadness over the fact that some classmates have two rows of family come to support them. At her last choir concert, Angel had several solos with only 3 family members there to cheer her on.

She is worried that her grandparents won’t even come to her graduation. Besides my mom, I don’t think that her other grandparents will go either unless we try hard to convince them.

My dad volunteered to work at a food stand this whole weekend. If he can do that, I am sure he could take off an hour to see his granddaughter graduate. When I mentioned attending graduation to my mother-in-law she said that she probably couldn’t afford to go. She can’t afford to drive a half an hour to her grandchild’s (free) special event? Pathetic!

Year after year, we listened to lame excuses for not attending the parties/events of our children. I don’t feel good, it is too hot outside, it is too cold, it might snow, it’s raining, I don’t have money, my car broke down, I have a casino trip planned with the girls, I can’t take off of work, I had to go shopping but I will stop by after your event, my water heater broke and I couldn’t take a shower, etc… This has been very hurtful.

My dad isn’t any better. He doesn’t make lame excuses, he just doesn’t go.

But how can we expect our parents to be good grandparents when they weren’t good parents? It is very disappointing. They can blow off all the other events, but I think a graduation is a big deal. I am planning on giving my dad a call and Paul is going to call his mom and step-dad in an attempt to try to convince them that they should go.

We’ll see what happens. If they decide not to go after we tell them how important it is for them to be there, I am ready to write them all out of my life…

We really shouldn’t have to try to convince our parents to attend our daughter’s graduation, should we??

Snow spring

Wow, it’s been a rough week. I tackled a lot of big topics this week from my failures, fears, and feelings about my mother-in-law’s cancer diagnosis. So I decided to lighten things up today. Nice and light and fluffy like the newly fallen spring snow.

Happy spring! The full spring sunlight today was brightly reflecting off of our new snow. We didn’t end up getting the ferocious blizzard that we were expecting. We ended up getting about 6 inches of snow over a layer of ice. Not the light and fluffy snow either, but the heavy wet snow that is hard to shovel.

After the snowstorm ended yesterday, my daughter wanted to go see her boyfriend as they had lunch plans with another couple. She needed to put gas in the car, so I told her that would be a good time to check out the road conditions. Ideally, it would be great if she never had to drive on questionable roads. But we live in WI, so that is not our reality.

My daughter didn’t even leave our driveway before she got stuck in a snow bank that she couldn’t get herself out of. She called Paul and I at work to come help her. It was almost noon, so we were about ready to come home for lunch anyway. Paul got into her car and pushed the front seat back. Hiding under her front seat was her spare set of car keys. Paul couldn’t get her out of the snow bank from inside of the car. When he got out of the car, he accidentally hit the lock button. He locked both sets of keys in the car while it was running and stuck in the snow bank.

It was fun to call for assistance. “Yes, I am in a safe place. Yes, my driveway. That’s right. No, I am not in the ditch. Well, yes, my car is running in my driveway with the keys locked in it. Oh, by the way, the car is almost out of gas as well.” Most of the tow trucks were busy making lots of money getting cars out of the ditch. But because the car was running, we were able to get someone to come out. A huge tow truck arrived at our house to unlock the car doors. How funny was that?? It gives the neighbors more stuff to talk about. 

My daughter learned the valuable lesson of respecting WI winter (spring) weather. Plus making sure her extra set of keys are not in the car. After the last couple of days, I learned that it is risky going home for lunch.

Acting like everything is alright 

I am sorry things did not go according to your plan. When you asked me why God did this to you, I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to fix things for you. I wanted to make you happy again. Instead I just listened. I asked when you would rather know, now or later. Maybe God has a better plan that we just can’t see right now.

You said that you were a great actress. You went to play practice with a smile on your face. Then you came home and cried. The odds weren’t in your favor this time. Out of the hundreds of talented kids that auditioned, you weren’t in the handful of those selected for the musical theater program at the college you will be attending. You cried even more when your brother told you that they didn’t know what they were missing. 

The truth is that your musical theater talents are lopsided. You are a phenomenal singer, great actress, and below average dancer. Even though you have the shape of a dancer, your body fails you. I am so sorry that you seem to have my lack of gracefulness. 

I was the little girl that they laughed at during the dance recital because I danced to a different beat then everyone else. I was the scrawny little kid that was always picked last on the team. I was the little girl that had to do extra credit to pass gym class. I had to write about sports because I couldn’t do them. While other kids could do flips and splits, I remained rigid, tight, and inflexible. Why do you think I am a runner? It requires grit, the only thing I have.

There is one gift that I am happy to have passed on to you, your voice. When you sing, people feel the emotions you are singing about. A happy song puts everyone in a good mood. A sad song can change the audiences laughter to tears in a few sweeping moments. When you auditioned for the vocal performance program, they complimented you on your voice and told you that they wanted you. I know that you will find a home there. 

I know it is hard right now. You have been eating, drinking, and sleeping musicals for so long. I am impressed with your optimism despite a few minor road blocks. 

It does not mean that you can never audition for musicals in the big cities. This is your journey now and I am excited to see where it takes you.

Just small talk

Yesterday was my dad’s birthday. I always dread calling him for his birthday. I really wish it wasn’t that way, really I do. 

Yesterday evening, I was the first person to call and wish him a happy birthday. I asked my dad if he received any birthday cards in the mail. “No,” he replied. Then we talked about the weather. He said that it was snowing. He said that he was driving but the roads weren’t slippery yet. After a few minutes of ackward silence and small talk, I told him that I should let him have both hands on the wheel. Bye dad.

I wish it wasn’t that way. I know that the time is coming soon when these birthday calls will end. Maybe it was already the last one. I feel sad for the relationship that never was. Although we get along better now than we ever have before, we never had a father daughter relationship that was anywhere near Hallmark greeting card close. I would settle for a relationship that gets beyond small talk.

Some things have been broken so long that I don’t know how to fix them.

Grace uncommon, part 14

When I was a young girl, some of my best memories were of times spent with Aunt Grace. She would take me on bus trips to see musicals. Sometimes she would let me bring along a friend or my mom and grandma would go. I would stay overnight at Grace’s house the night before. I would always end the evening with a bubble bath. Then we were up before dawn to catch the bus.

One of the first shows that I remember seeing was Hello Dolly in Chicago. I don’t remember a lot about the show. Grace was excited that Mickey Rooney was in it. Plus the main female actress was rather old, maybe around 80. I don’t remember her age…I could be way off. What was old to me then is a lot different than what is old to me now. Heck, she could have been 40 but I don’t think so. Grace was excited that the female lead could do the splits and dance with the energy of a young adult. I remember being in awe of that too since I couldn’t dance, much less do the splits as a little girl.

Then Grace took me on a bus trip to see Oklahoma at the Fireside Theater in Fort Atkinson. I remember the meal before the show. Grace let me sit at the head of the table in a big theatrical wicker chair. They brought food out to the table that was on fire. I remember little of the show.

The next show that we were supposed to see, we didn’t end up going to. We were hit by a big snowstorm the night before and couldn’t go. I was so disappointed. Not long after that, Grace took me to see Annie at a local high school. Then she bought orange material and sewed me an Annie dress which unfortunately I did not wear that much.

When I was an adult, she still wanted to see shows. We watched Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, and Miss Saigon. I remember glancing over at Grace during the opening scene of Miss Saigon when the women came out on stage in thongs. I thought that she would be appalled, but she loved the show.

I think that all of those good memories prompted me to get on stage despite my shyness. When Grace found out that I could sing, she always asked me to sing songs in church. Then I started to audition for musicals at the local community theater. The first musical that I auditioned for, I took my daughter Angelique to audition as well when she was 8 years old. She has been singing and acting ever since.

The last couple of weekends, Angel has been auditioning for college and a summer performing job. She picked her college and auditioned for both the musical theater and vocal performance programs. The vocal performance program accepted her on the spot. We are still anxiously waiting to hear back from the musical theater program and the summer job which are much more competitive.

I feel that Aunt Grace was very instrumental in my love for the theater. This appreciation was passed down to Angel. I love the way that family blessings have a way of trickling down through the generations. Sometimes you never know the effect that you have on other people. Sometimes I wonder what my grandchildren will be like. Or I ponder over how different my life would be if I never had someone special like Aunt Grace in my life.

 

The travel diaries, sailing off into the sunset

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As the old saying goes, all good things must come to the end. This is the end of my travel series, but not the end of my travels.

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It has been fun spending the last couple of weeks writing of a lifetime of previous adventures. I am glad to finally have those memories written down to forever cherish before they slowly fade away. 

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In a few months, I will be perched in a favorite spot armed with my camera and a good story to tell. Writing reviews and telling stories while they happen with a favorite photo or two. 

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In the meantime, I will be sending off my oldest daughter to explore different shores to a place where her adult journey will begin. I can’t wait to see where life will take her.

Keep traveling!