Children, teenage boys in particular, are wonderful... most of the time.
It started happening again. I can't sleep. Rather, I can sleep, I just can't STAY asleep.
This leads to a frame of mind that's an ideal breeding ground for worry production. So I worry. Worry about getting back to sleep turns into worry about work, bills, taxes, life insurance, dementia, cancer, Ebola, my car's engine light that keeps coming on, my oldest driving, even deflated footballs - stupid Tom Brady.
I am writing this letter as I would like to lodge a formal complaint.
I've done it. And if you are being honest, you have too. My mother warned me about it. It happens all the time. And sometimes the damage is done before you get a do over. Just ask former GOP staffer Elizabeth Lauten.
When something bad happens, that bad can reach in and pull the breath right out of your gut. It feels like suffocating. But as your arms flail and you gasp for air, the light turns green, traffic starts to move, pedestrians take to the cross walk. No one notices. It's as if the people in cars, on cross walks, in the grocery or at the DMW don't care or don't feel the shift on the planet when life as you know it forever changed.
It's that time of year again. Relatives are heading home. We bid adieu to the tree and that stupid elf till next year. Returns are made. My jeans feel about three sizes too small and I've not even put them in the dryer. Regret from my over consumption of cheese balls, peanut butter balls, chips, dip, wine, cookies fill my head every time I see a new 'NOT APPROVED' photo floating around on Facebook. I have to diet and lose the weight that crept on between October 31st and January 1st. I knew it was time for an intervention when I bit the inside of my cheek while noshing on a handful of fried peanuts (Seriously!).
There's few places as beautiful as Middle Tennessee in the fall. And one only needs to visit Facebook or Twitter to take in all the beauty. Changing leaves, crisp air, family photos in all orange or red surrounded by a bevy of changing leaves posted all over social media, and general giddiness of the season make even this girl excited about football...for the social atmosphere, not the game.
Everyone is thankful for something. Even on the day of Thanksgiving, when 40 members of your family are talking loud, complaining about the food temp, and wondering "out loud" if the serving dish used for stuffing belongs to them. As much as my family and close friends may test the limit of my nerves, I still say a silent prayer of thanks. It's not a prayer you are familiar with I'm sure. In the chaos of the holidays before I let myself utter or think, "THIS IS THE LAST TIME I'M COOKING THANKSGIVING!" I stop (obsessing), drop (the attitude), and roll (add Parker House to my grocery list) and instead say, "Thank you."
Thank you for a husband who helps with everything and doesn't complain about it (to me anyway). Who doesn't mind coming in second to so many things; work, kids, friends, sisters, the housewives of BRAVO TV, dad. Who just like me rolls his eyes when people talk about "soul mates." Because it's more important for us to simply be "mates." We can save the soul part for the afterlife. We've built a life together. It took us a while to finish the foundation but when we did, the rest just sort of fell into place. So thank you for him and keeping us smart enough to know that just because one day is bad doesn't mean tomorrow will be.
Thank you for a 15 year old who still talks to me and talks back to me. A boy/man who is trying to find his way and his identity. And a boy who still let's his mama run the bases with him when life throws a curve ball his way.
Thank you for an almost 11 year old who is so much smarter than all of us but doesn't rub it in. My youngest babe who makes very grown up observations like, "You know the "E" means you should stop and get gas?" or "Why are you always trying to lose weight? You don't need to." Oh! And he still loves to snuggle while watching "Elf" this time of year.
Thank you for my sisters and brothers. Those connected by blood or connected through life. Without a single one of them this island of misfit toys wouldn't be fun at all.
Thank you for my mother-in-law. Yes, you read that right. I'm thankful that she accepts me for who I am, messy kitchen and all.
Thank you for the dementia that changes our dynamic on a daily basis. It's not always fun. There are days when I'd love to stay in bed, watch bad reality television and post anonymous messages on political websites. But instead, I listen intently as dad tells me about how he met mom during the 1961 fall quarter at Western Carolina University. And for a moment I wonder if this is real. Maybe it's not as bad as the neurologist says. Then he sits to eat his soup with a butter knife. No big deal. I hand him a spoon, we giggle and he reads Jon Saraceno's latest. We go on. And so does life. Because while he will inevitably forget many things, his family will remember for him.
So for these things and so many more, I'm truly thankful.
A guide for my boys...whether they need it or not.
As of Thursday, September 25th I've been on this earth four decades. That day usually gives me the opportunity to reflect. 40 seems so grown up. 40 is the deadline for having your life in order. Over the years I've looked to friends in their 40's as my own personal Dalai Lama; full of wisdom and experts at living a life full of intent. But the closer I inched to this decade the more I began to realize it wasn't that all of my Dalai Lama's were given the wisdom gene much like someone born with red hair or freckles. Instead they embraced the "what is" and tossed the "never will be." They didn't, like I assumed, wake up on the first day of their 40th year with a brand new perspective that was delivered while they slept. They learned through trial and error, just like me and eventually my children will. Sometimes it takes a 40 something's opinion or insight to make people realize that just because Sarah Jessica Parker is wearing it doesn't mean it's the best choice for you. And while there's plenty of mistakes in my future, I wanted to share a list of a few of the lessons I've learned as a helpful guide for my children.
Have you ever been involved in a verbal confrontation and, after it was settled, thought about the perfect comeback? Of course, we don’t ever do that because that would be stupid. If we counter with the best comeback one day or even one hour after said confrontation, that person would now think you were even more inept than before. Not to mention, “crazy.” I’m the worst at comebacks. But afterwards, I. AM. AWESOME. I keep these little snappy retorts on file just in case the need to use them in the future ever arises.
A couple years ago I wrote an article that I often still hear about today. It had to do with my tendency to take down names...in sharpie. I'm not sure when or the how the practice first started, but at some point in my life my Oprah inspired gratitude journal went to hell in a hand-basket.
I live in a home that is all about justice. Maybe it's because we're lawyers or maybe it's just in our children's DNA, but nothing gets done in our house that doesn't involve negotiation, reward or retribution.
Take for instance - dinner.
"Neill, pass me the fork," says our middle child.
"I will but first you have to hand me the ketchup."
"No, I'm not handing you anything because yesterday Mama told us to put up the groceries, I put them all up and you did nothing. Now pass me the fork or I'm going to hurt you."
"Try it and Mama will take your phone away."
"No she won't," she says, as she begins eating her peas with a knife, while clutching the ketchup in a death grip.
The negotiations can continue for what seems like an eternity until at some point I pass the fork and Brody passes the ketchup. I'm sure that's not the right parental response but somedays we just want to eat our pork chops in peace.
And so it goes...be it putting up the laundry, feeding the dog, cleaning the garage, nothing gets done until negotiations are complete.
And while I appreciate hearty debate and even a bit of obvious posturing, at some point the fact that there are no clean towels in my linen closet is just more than I can take!
On January 1, I decided it was only fair to switch out the chore list. Laundry, the most dreaded of chores, had been the middle child's to-do. Nothing makes my little perfectionist more crazy than things that are not meticulously folded and in their place. Yet, with five in the household it was a thankless, never ending job.
So at the beginning of the year, I gave that chore to our oldest who had previously been on kitchen duty. Our oldest is our dreamer. Life, to her, isn't about law and order but instead is about taking time to smell the roses and living each day to the fullest. Which basically boils down to the fact that for almost 7 weeks nothing has been getting washed, folded or put away. Living life to the fullest in no way, shape or form includes doing laundry. A fact I do appreciate and the reason...I make my kids do the laundry.
But after almost two months of drying off with hand towels and listening to the never ending arguments concerning the state of the laundry, I informed our household that we were reverting back to the 2013 chore list.
"Zoe, you are back on laundry duty."
"That's not fair!" she screamed out, as our oldest danced around the room.
"She did a horrible job and now I have to do it for her!"
And while I admit my actions are completely unjust, it's a fact, I've come to live with each and every morning as I reach into that linen closet and find a clean, folded towel.
As one of the great scholars of this century said "Parent's are not interested in justice. They are interested in quiet." Bill Cosby
To read more of Angel and Becky's columns go to
www.wilsonlivingmagazine.com or www.wilsonpost.com.
Making new friends…
I decided years ago that being a little different (see: myself), is easier than trying to live up to the expectations doled out in People Magazine. Don’t get me wrong. I love People. Where else can you get the real story behind the Bernie Madoff scandal, George Clooney’s relationship status or read what Justin Bieber’s fourth grade teacher thinks about the star’s recent arrest.
A feeling of both melancholy and excitement prevails in the Kane household as letter after letter arrives for our oldest, from colleges near and far. As I watch her open each one, I distinctly remember being her age, knowing very little about life, yet believing I knew everything.
As she readies for her journey into this big, wide open world, there is so much I want to be sure I say to her, teach her, show her before she takes off, while deep down I know the real lessons in life will come from figuring it out on her own.
And yet, if she were to indulge me, I’d write it all down for her, place a copy in her suitcase and hope that when she came to that fork in the road, she’d pull out my map of lessons learned and they’d help guide her home.
I'm not sure if I should be offended or rejoicing, considering I've just been disinvited to my son's soccer tournament. Our youngest has been playing soccer since as far back as my 40 something year old brain can remember.
So the text messaging went something like this...
Me: Where are you?
Brody: At the office.
Me: Great. At 5, Denise Thorne is going to drop off half a cow. Be sure the freezer at the office is empty.
Brody: A what? What are you talking about?
Me: I ran into Gary Thorne - yada, yada, yada - I bought a bunch of meat and it's on its way.
Needless to say, I won't bore you with the "flowery" texts back and forth, but let's just say someone was surprised.