Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day, Part 1

Once again, Happy Mother’s Day to all who mother.

I attribute my happiness in life to having a wonderful, supportive mother. She never berated, belittled, or criticized. Rather, she nurtured the very best in all her children and was unfailingly on our side. This doesn’t mean she condoned bad or inappropriate behavior -- not at all. Her standards were high; her love was unconditional. She made being a mother look so effortless that when I had my first child I accused her of making parenting seem too easy.

It wasn’t.

Married to a workaholic school administrator, she was a stay-at-home mom who forged a decades-long writing career that has resulted in more than 50 published novels.

She is my mother, my writing partner for the last 20+ years, and my best friend.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day, Part 2

In addition to being a daughter, I am also a mother. An old mother by my reckoning, married at the tender age of 22 and a first-time mom five days shy of my 31st birthday. Had my second son when I was pushing 36.

They turn 16 and 21 this year, so you can do the math.

Unlike my mother, I sadly run a loose(r) ship. Like my mom, I endeavor always to be supportive and value the importance of children stretching their wings.

The other night my older son, Erik, was packing for a train trip East. After a layover in Chicago, he’ll arrive in Pittsburgh, take a Greyhound to Morgantown, WV, liberate his girlfriend’s car and drive to Baltimore to pick her up from college.

I must have asked him half a dozen times if he had packed his tickets.

Like his father, Erik is a transportation junkie. Trains are his preferred mode of travel and his interest in locomotives started at an early age. From “The Little Engine That Could” to Virginia Lee Burton’s better-than-Mike-Mulligan’s-steamshovel “Choo-Choo” to all things “Thomas the Tank Engine,” Erik was a train aficionado.

Of course he had packed his tickets.

I explained to him I feel like I need to catch up on some ‘hover mothering.’ He had come home from his ‘final’ final that same day and announced he’s now a senior in college.

Huh? Seems like only yesterday we were winging to Germany to visit him during his high school exchange year. His little brother, Andrew, is nearly done with his sophomore year of high school.

Erik will be back in a couple weeks, then he’s off again (this time to NYC for a university writing workshop) – via train.

In the fall, he’s hoping to do another study abroad (he studied in Germany again in college). Eventually he’s going to go for good.

Then it will be Andrew’s turn. But it won’t be a totally empty nest since we’ll still have Grandma, thank goodness.

Somehow I recall knowing when I held my tiny (at six pounds we called Erik a ‘little monkey baby’) firstborn son in my arms that long-ago December in northern Arizona, when it was so cold there was snow on the southern cacti, I wouldn’t get to keep him forever.

I just didn’t know the time would come so soon.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Work in Progress

Note: I wrote the following a couple weeks ago, and nothing has changed. Kind of scary but kind of symmetrical?

I don’t know if I’d qualify this as a wonderful day, but I sure as shootin’ got nothin’ to say.

Zippity do dah, zippity ay.

Or zip, zero, zilch.

Now those who know and love, or at least tolerate me, are now rolling on the floor barely able to contain their peals of laughter…I’m sure.

Me, at a loss for words, is a rare thing indeed…the spoken or written kind.

My mother called me, affectionately and accurately, ‘satchel mouth’ when I was a child.

You know, suitcase, open and shut, open and shut…well, you get the idea.

Contrary to this mom-labeled moniker, I can keep a secret. However, I also have never been very good at keeping my mouth shut.

It’s not that I’ve run out of things to say, I’m just takin’ a breather.

My deadlines are met, new exciting projects loom on the horizon, and as for holding on and letting go… here’s an update.

School is winding (or as my eldest says, crashing) down. My college professor husband is busy with end-of-the-year stuff. Older son Erik is finishing up his junior year of college and planning a study abroad in Korea next fall. At the tender age of 15, he first broached us with the idea of going to school overseas. Since then a lot has transpired. Now a German major and English minor, he’s blossomed into an excellent writer and is planning his future.

I said to him the other night, “I’ll miss you when you grow up and go away.”

His insightful response? “I don’t have to grow up to go away.”

His younger brother, Andrew, now 15 himself and finishing his sophomore year of high school, told me recently we’re entering into “uncharted territory.” I’ve never had an 11th grader before. Erik spent his junior year of high school in Germany. Then, as detailed previously in this space, he applied to college, dropped out of high school, got his GED, and went off to college a full year early.

Having a conventional child is indeed going to be a new experience, and I wouldn’t have it any other way with both of my sons.

In early June my husband and I head to West Virginia. I’ll be seeing old and dear friends at the West Virginia Writers’ Conference. Spouse will head south with a good friend to motorcycle. Also this summer, we’ll see much of our extended families, my mom and I will continue to write together, and thanks to Facebook I’ll continue to reconnect with friends from decades ago.

I guess for a girl who doesn’t have anything to say, I’ve managed to say a lot.

Zippity do dah.