Being a Mom

It’s nice to be needed. My son who is eight years old loves school but says it’s hard on him because he is away from me. I wonder how long that will last! He doesn’t like being upstairs alone and frequently showers in our bathroom and falls asleep in our bed because he doesn’t like being alone upstairs. When college-aged sister was home for the holidays, he slept in her queen sized bed with her. It’s a good problem to have that our house is big enough that being upstairs alone is an issue. I get it that he is old enough to be in his own bathroom and bedroom full-time. And my husband usually takes him upstairs to his own room after he falls asleep in our bed. But most of the time he comes back downstairs either to our bed or to one of the couches. When I ask him why he won’t stay in his bed all night he answers, “I don’t like being far away from you.” He’s good about keeping his room clean and doing chores and ‘mommy homework’ (math, reading and writing Mon-Thursday excluding holidays). In many ways, he is learning some responsibility and independence. But in this way, he is still my baby, the littlest kid whom blessed to have stayed home with until he started school at the age of six. These years while he still feels little enough to want to be near us will pass quickly, so I cherish them now with gratitude.
My twelve-year old daughter needed my help on her science project today. She did the plan on her own and got a 70%. I like to let her go on auto-pilot as much as possible with her work, but when her grades tell me she isn’t working to potential, I step in to help. And she accepts it. She knows having an educator for a mom has its rewards. The main advice I gave her was about measuring the data. You have to have a way to quantify the experiment. I helped her figure out what graphs to make, how to measure her leaps and jumps, and took videos of her experimenting with dance using different kinds of dance shoes. She also learned how to make a sandwich this week. I know that sounds silly, but apparently she didn’t know how to make one because I always make them for her. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t believe she said she don’t know how to make a sandwich (figuring it is so easy that of course she knew how to make one). I thought it was ridiculous that she wants to be mothered to that extent, yet she also thinks she is old enough and responsible enough to go to public places without adults. She does her own laundry and has chores so she can learn responsibility and independence. As I said, I also don’t micromanage her school work, and most of the time she gets As and Bs on auto-pilot. She is at that age when she wants me to bring her lunch from subway to school, but she doesn’t want me to stay while she eats it in the cafeteria. (On the other hand my son wishes I would join him for lunch every day)! She hugs me and asks for my help on her own time. When she needs me, I’m there, and I feel lucky.
Even my nineteen-year old daughter at college still needs me for this and that. Of course, she needs financial support, but I’m also there for her as a mom in many other ways, for emotional support and to lend guidance and advice about the many facets of her life as a college student. I haven’t been able to visit her since moving her into her freshman dorm. In fact, last year I was injured during family weekend, and she told me not to come for her sorority’s moms’ weekend because it wasn’t a big deal, just a brunch. I was also really busy last year working as a teacher. Well, it turned out she missed me when all the other moms were there, and I wasn’t. I promised her I would attend this year and just booked my flight and hotel reservation yesterday! I’m excited to visit her in her world and am proud to be her mom!
Little things like these remind me that while they aren’t so little, they still need me for different reasons. Or at least they want me to be there for them as their mother even though they might not technically need me.. I Being a mother changes over the years, but it is wonderful to be reminded of the fact that there are certain things that mothers can do for their kids that soften their worlds. And I am grateful for all of those little things that remind me what an important job being a mother really is. It’s not glamorous. The hours are grueling. It can be a thankless job. But I wouldn’t want any other job in the world!

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Friday Fiction #3: The Aftermath

Every Friday this month, I will be posting fiction as part of a Friday Fiction challenge from my friend Molly Field at her blog Grass Oil. If you missed the previous two installments, here are the links:

January Fiction Challenge #1: Lesson Learned

January Fiction Challenge #2: Althea

Amanda was a mess for years after the car accident that resulted in the deaths of two of her young children. She didn’t take it well at all. And she felt it was her fault that her daughter and son died. Her husband didn’t help the situation. As a logically thinking man, he couldn’t help but deal with the facts that led up to their deaths. Amanda let Ella sit in the front seat even though she wasn’t thirteen yet. Amanda let Anderson sit in the back seat without his booster because she was in a rush and Ella was complaining and trying to persuade her to allow her a special ride in the front seat. She knew about the safety guidelines, but she didn’t think anything would happen on that one time she was lax on the rules. Richard couldn’t help but blame her for the accident. He wanted more than anything to turn back the time so he could put the booster seat in the back and make Ella sit in the back seat too, regardless of her complaining. They went to counseling and were trying to move past the blaming, but Amanda had a hard time with the guilt on a day to day basis.

Every morning, she had trouble getting out of bed. She couldn’t fall asleep at night because of her racing mind, and Robert and Brad were still in school, so she got up early to help them with breakfast. Steven graduated and joined the army. He was always on her mind too. She hoped he would come home safely, and she often thought of the little girl he fathered but never met. It took tremendous energy for Amanda to keep her mind focused on the day to day instead of the past or the future.

She popped pills to regulate her moods, and she drank alcohol to numb the pain and escape to lighter places in her mind. She was under the care of a psychiatrist and a marriage counselor and an individual counselor and was trying her best every day to function.

She reconnected with a former flame on Facebook and agreed to meet him for lunch one day. It had been twenty years since they last saw each other, but it seemed like yesterday. Their connection was just as strong as it used to be. They laughed and shared memories and filled up on salads, pizza, and wine. She realized that school would be over soon and she needed to pick up Robert. He asked her if they could get together again sometime with a flirtatious grin, and she returned the smile with an answer of “maybe.” They hugged each other and went their separate ways.

Pulling into Robert’s school zone, she was suddenly pulled over by a police officer. She didn’t realize she was speeding because she was on her phone checking messages. Because school zones are cell phone free zones, and she was going almost thirty in a twenty zone, this particular officer was not very pleased with this driver. He could smell the alcohol on her breath, so he gave her a breathalizer test and tested her gross motor skills. Amanda was mortified this was all taking place in the school zone where other parents could see it. She failed every test and was taken down to the station and booked with a DUI.

English: School zone sign in Latham. Taken by ...

English: School zone sign in Latham. Taken by me on 20th January 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Richard came to pick her up when she sobered up. He was furious and disappointed and confused all at the same time. Once they got in the car, he asked her “so do you mind telling me what the hell is going on with you?”

“I don’t want to talk about it Richard. Can we please just go home?”

“Don’t want to talk about it? Amanda, I just picked you up from the police station….after you being so drunk that you got a DUI and a ticket for speeding and being on your cell phone in a school zone. What am I supposed to think? Honey, there is something serious going on with you. What can I do to help?”

“You can be nice to me. Stop blaming me for everything!” She cried.

“What? I am nice to you? Where did that come from? And what were you doing today?

“Why do you care? You’re always so busy with work and you only care about what I’m doing when something goes wrong.”

“Please honey, stop being defensive and let’s talk about this. What did you do before you got arrested? Where were you?”

“I don’t want to talk about it. You wouldn’t understand.” She wanted to tell him the truth, but she knew he would get angry with her. She took some deep breaths and thought about things. She realized just how bad things had gotten. She missed the old days when she and Richard spent more time together, when the kids were little and they were all happy together.

He breathed deeply too and kept driving with a cool head. He didn’t want there to be any more problems that day or ever. He answered in a loving tone of voice, “take your time and tell me when you are ready…and I promise to try to understand and be nicer to you. I love you.”

Here is the prompt:

“Your character commits a crime. (What is the motive?) Your character’s husband/wife/SO, discovers your character changing dealing with the evidence, and wants to know what’s going on. Write the conversation. What happens next?”

Visit the other blogs to see what the writers did with the same prompt:

My Music Habit

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https://www.facebook.com/susanne.k.nelson?ref=tn_tnmn#!/notes/susanne-kim-nelson/55-nationally-known-bands-ive-seen-in-concert/471954841505

1. REM

2. The Police

3. U2

4. Duran Duran

5. Prince

6. Alabama

7. Grateful Dead

8. Bob Dylan

9. Steep Pulse

10. Ziggy Marley

11. James Brown

12. Circle Jerks

13. Fleshtones

14. Echo & The Bunnymen

15. The Ramones

16. Dishwalla

17. Hole

18. Gin Blossoms

19. Bush

20. Jewel

21. Gwen Stefani

22. Kelly Clarkson

23. Akon

24. O-Town

25. Alice in Chains

26. Red Hot Chili Peppers

27. Steely Dan

28. Jane’s Addiction

29. Meat Puppets

30. 10,000 Maniacs

31. CSNY

32. The Cure

33. David Grisman

34. James Taylor

35. Ani DiFranco

36. Joan Osborne

37. Britney Spears

38. Christina Aguilera

39. Beyonce

40. Pink

41. Pussycat Dolls

42. Justin Timberlake

43. Timbaland

44. T-Pain

45. Lil Wayne

46. Snoop Dogg

47. 311

48. Soulja Boy

49. Young Jeezy

50. Jay Z

51. KISS

52. John Legend

53. Lynyrd Skynyrd

54. Kid Rock

55. Green Day

56. Taylor Swift

57. Kool and The Gang

58. Rick Ross

59. Van Halen

60. Sublime

61. Sam Adams

62. Staind

63. Linkin Park

64. Incubus

65. Sheryl Crow

66. Rush

67. Rage Against the Machine

68. Fugazi

69. Waxing Poetics

70. Phish
71. Zeitgeist

Friday Fiction #2: Althea

I’m participating in a fiction challenge. Every Friday this month, I and several other bloggers are posting fiction based on the same prompt. Welcome to installment number two. Here is a link to last week’s post in case you missed it.

“There are things you can replace and others you can not. The time has come to weigh those things.”
There was a knock at the door. “Just a minute!” Althea said as she turned down the television. She was busy coloring with her daughter at the kitchen table and the Disney Channel was on in the background. They were having girl time. She had a lot of studying to do for finals next week, but it was important to her that she spend some quality time with her daughter. It’s hard to find moments like that when you are a teen mom working on your education.
She expected it a package delivery since it was almost Christmas. Almost every day that week, more and more packages arrived. When she opened up the door and saw the soldier in uniform holding a bouquet of stargazer lilies, her favorite, her jaw dropped. Her stomach sank like that feeling when you are on a roller coaster just going over the top of a hill and it starts to plunge downward. Their eyes met as she took it all in and didn’t know what to say.
“Steven. What are you doing here?” finally fell off her lips.
“Althea, I’m sorry. Please listen to me. I know you’re mad at me, and I deserve it. I just got back from Afghanistan, and I need to talk to you.” he explained as he offered her the bouquet. “I brought your favorite flowers. I’m so sorry about everything. Can we please talk?”
LILIACEAE 百合科 - Stargazer Lily 'Tiber' (Lilium...

LILIACEAE 百合科 – Stargazer Lily ‘Tiber’ (Lilium orientalis) 火百合 (Photo credit: kaiyanwong223)

“I’m so surprised to see you.” She replied, feeling a flurry of mixed emotions. He left her when she needed him most. He was her first love, and she got pregnant not long after the first time they decided to have sex. She was only sixteen, and he was seventeen at the time.
“I thought you didn’t want to have anything to do with me, with us. Last time we spoke you told me to get an abortion. You left me here alone. Now you just show up on my doorstep and expect me to listen to you?” she answered incredulously.
“Althea please. I’m feeling lost. I’ve been lacking direction. When I found out you were pregnant, that was right after my mom’s accident. I lost my little sister and brother and couldn’t deal with anything. My parents were fighting and talking about divorce. We were so young” his voice broke and his gaze fell into the bouquet “these are for you; please take them.” He handed her the flowers, and inside she felt her heart soften. He was surprised to see her as a mother. She looked as beautiful as ever but more mature and self-assured.
The fragrance brought back memories from when he used to bring her flowers when he picked her up for dates. “Mommy, are you coming back? I need help with my crayon.” a little voice called from the kitchen.
“Is that her?” he asked as his eyes opened hopefully. He never met her, but mutual high school friends wrote to him while he was away in the military and told him Althea had given birth to a healthy baby girl and was still living at home with her parents. They provided for her and supported her throughout the pregnancy and subsequent years after the birth.
“Yes honey, just a minute.” Althea felt flustered and didn’t know what to do. She stepped out on the front step and shut the door. “What do you want me to say?” she inquired. “I can’t believe you are here. I have a life you know. I’m going to school and taking care of this child. It’s been really hard.” She felt a lump in her throat and fought back the urge to cry.
“I want you to give me another chance. I’ve been thinking a lot, and I never forgot the love we had. I never forgot about you…or her…I just was self-centered to the extreme. I’m sorry, and I am here for you both now. I’ve been to hell and back. I’ve lost friends in combat. I’ve lost the only family I knew. Since the accident, nothing has been the same. My parents are still in therapy. I’ve realized that there are things that can be replaced and some things that can not. I love you Althea. I need you. I’m her father. Little girls need their fathers. I can’t change the past, and I know I’ve missed out on her life so far. Please can we try to start over?”
“Okay, yes.” She cried on his shoulder as he hugged her. “I’ve missed you so much.” She didn’t want to let go of him again.
“I’ve missed you too. Thank you for giving me another chance.” He kissed her and held her tight.
“Come inside and meet your daughter.” Those were words she never expected to say. She couldn’t help but feel sympathetic for him after everything he had been through, and she hoped all along he would change his mind. He needed time to reach that point on his own. She gave him space, and he came back to her on his own.
Thank you for reading this entry. Peace out.
Here is the prompt!
Years later, the character’s first love shows up on his or her doorstep again. Both your character and his/her first love are surprised at how the other person has changed (How?) This encounter causes a disruption in your character’s life (How? What does your character do about it?) Write the story.

Life of Pi

I saw Life of Pi again today. My oldest daughter hadn’t seen it yet, and my two younger kids and I wanted to see it again. After reading the book and seeing it twice, I wanted to write a response to the story and what it said to me.

I loved how it mixed non-fiction with fiction and all the spiritual metaphors. It’s an incredible, unbelievable story told by the main character who survived against the odds. The story is framed as one that will make people believe in god. He is narrating the story to a friend of a friend, an author looking to write an incredible story.

Pi said we don’t know god until someone introduces him to us. Pi is born Hindu, but is also inspired by Christianity and Islam. His dad tells him to start with rational thinking and what science has proven. Believing in everything is like believing in nothing.

A common theme was appreciation of the diversity of life. Pi’s family owned a zoo with a plethora of creatures. When he survived the shipwreck during his family’s move from India to Canada, he found himself alone at sea with a tiger, hyena, zebra, and an orangutan.

Pi had compassion for animals and saw their souls in their eyes. His father told him he was only seeing his own emotions reflected in the animals’ eyes. He saved the tiger from drowning and said sorry to a fish he killed to feed it.

The tiger, Richard Parker, ate the other animals. He and Pi learned to coexist during their twenty seven days at sea. They faced life threatening hunger and thirst and were overwhelmed by the power of the stormy seas.

Pi surrendered to god, having lost everything. He didn’t give up hope.

Once he surrendered, the storm passed and the boat washed up on a carnivorous island. Beautiful and teeming with life during the day, it became acidic and brought death to the animals at night. After some rest, hydration, and nutrition, he decided to get back on the life boat. He didn’t leave Richard Parker behind because it would have meant killing him.

They finally washed up on a Mexican shore. Pi was so weak he could barely hold his head up. Richard Parker jumped off the boat, walked to the forest, and paused for a few moments and gazed into the forest. Pi hoped the tiger would turn around and look at him and was disappointed when he didn’t. After everything they endured together, he wanted some closure, an end, before he disappeared so unceremoniously into the forest.

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At The Stroke of Midnight Where were you last night when 2012 turned into 2013? Is that where you’d wanted to be?

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/daily-post-midnight/ dailypost.wordpress.com image I was at the Four Seasons With my husband last night. It was exactly where I wanted to celebrate New Year’s Eve. We had our first kiss at the stroke of midnight when it turned 1999, so this was our fifteenth time spending new year’s eve together. We checked in, and I hit the spa for a massage and then relaxed for a while in the jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, and intermittent dips in the cold plunge. We had drinks with friends and then went to the dinner party. It was an elegant affair with a roaring twenties theme. After dinner, there were s gambling tables in the bar area and in another room there was a DJ, a dance floor, a few more bars and desserts. At midnight, we were dancing. Fun times! Thanks for reading. Peace out and happy new year!

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Daily Prompt: Un/Faithful (Tell us about the role that faith plays in your life – or doesn’t)

To me, faith is wishing, hoping, positive thinking.  I don’t think it hurts, but I also don’t think it helps.  In a religious context, I’ve struggled with faith over the years. In fact I wrote a blog entry the other day explaining my position on religion and faith.  Here is a link in case you haven’t read it yet.

https://susannenelson.wordpress.com/2012/12/25/what-does-christmas-mean-to-you/

I don’t have faith that prayer works, but I don’t think it hurts to pray (to wish and hope for a desired outcome).  But over and over, I’ve seen prayers come back with tragedy (especially in the case where someone dies and people have been praying and praying for healing).

Thanks for reading. Peace out.

Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures

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We rang in the new year at the Four Seasons.

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In February, I turned 44. My husband made this ‘cake’ for me out of fruit and dark chocolate (with beer sugar) since I have so many food allergies and don’t eat regular cake.

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Sunset on our street. It’s beautiful every day.

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Justin Bieber party for my daughter and my son’s birthday cake.

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Work event at the Dallas Arboretum with my husband’s law firm. Cool sculptures on display there.

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Doing handstands in the pool with one of my daughters. We love swimming!

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Beach week in Destin, FL with my husband and kids. It’s one of my favorite beaches!

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Cool clouds

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Looked up one day when it was about to storm and saw this little patch of blue sky. I thought it looked like a heart.

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We were Katniss and Batman for Halloween.

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Sunrises are beautiful here too.

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We went to Reno, NV for Christmas vacation. Just got home tonight.

Thanks for reading this entry. Happy new year and peace out.

Daily Prompt: The Early Years, (write page three of your autobiography)

I don’t know what I would have done if I was in my mom’s shoes. She loved my dad and wanted to work things out, but after confronting him about the affair he didn’t want to save the marriage or attend marriage counseling. There had been a lot of fighting and difficulties with their cultural differences during their four year marriage. She had no choice but to move to her parents’ house in Maryland and face life as a single mom with my two year old brother and me, a six month old infant.

I don’t remember anything about those first six months of life. I’ve heard the stories of my birth on an icy February day and of how both my parents thought I was dying one day and rushed me to the hospital only to find out that I was bleeding from my ear because I scratched myself so badly. I don’t remember any fighting, and I don’t remember any happiness either.

Fortunately my mom was an educated woman and talented musician and had a supportive family to help her out in her time of need. My grandparents took care of us for two years until we were able to get an apartment in northern Virginia. There were pictures taken of me in a floral suit and bonnet on the beach at Ocean City, MD. there is grainy old video of me and my brother playing in the yard (and him hitting me with a plastic bat). There was another elderly lady who took care of me sometimes. My uncles and cousins lived nearby too.

My mom was a music (strings) teacher in the public school system, and we were able to get an apartment on our own when I turned two. I have some memories from the two years we lived there. I remember swimming at the pool at the apartment complex. I remember the long hallway that my mom says I would run down at night so I could get to her room. There are cute pictures of a miniature version of me dressed in pink footsie pajamas in my crib.

I started pre-school when I was two, and I remember the my mom dropping me off and picking me up. She wore a dress coat with fur lapels, and I loved how soft they felt on my little cheeks. One of the grown ups at that preschool pulled out one of my teeth!

When I was four (and my brother was six), my mom bought a single family house in northern Virginia. In fact, she still lives in that very same house. It’s a two story brick house at the end of a hill that dead ends at a wooded area that connects to some of the local parks.

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Life as a Married Mom

Two movies in two days, both with the same lead actress and plots about being married parents. In This is 40, a couple faces middle age, parenthood, and marriage. In the Change Up, a single slacker and a married lawyer switch lives by accident after wishing for each other’s lives. In both movies, the characters learn to appreciate what they have and how to fix problems common in every family.

Let’s face it. Life is hard. Being single is hard. Being married is hard. Having children is hard. Being childless is hard. It’s hard to be a kid. It’s hard to be a student. It’s hard to have a job. It’s hard to be the parent of adult children.

It’s tough having quality time together as a couple and/or family, and its tough finding time to be alone. Meeting our own needs as individuals is difficult, much less meeting the needs of spouses, children, and parents.

Our jobs as parents require us to have all our shit together enough to provide for, care, guide, and nurture the little people we created. We shape and mold them emotionally, spiritually, physically, financially, and psychologically. If we are too busy or unhappy with own own lives, they pick up on it. It affects their sense of self. It affects family dynamics.

As with everything in life, it seems that the answer is always balance. As adults, we need to take care of ourselves first or we are no good to our children. Do we sacrifice for them? Of course we do. But if we don’t take the time to meet our needs first, we won’t be able to give to our children in a quality way. And we won’t be able to be happily married while we raise them.

Both moms and dads work hard to provide financially for families. We have different needs, but it’s important we allow ourselves some down time when we are not working to pursue our interests, socialize, and exercise. It’s important we care about what we eat and how much we sleep so we can feel our best day to day. We need quiet time to reflect and develop ourselves spiritually. We need friends and fun. We also need alone time, both as individuals and alone time as parents.

Holidays together exaggerate family dynamics and intensify expectations and tempers. A college aged kid wants to come home for the comforts but doesn’t want to be treated like a kid. Little kids misbehave when they eat too much sugar, stay up too late, and are bored because adults are talking. We try to give them what they want, yet we try to teach them that Christmas is for giving, not getting. We try to make things special for them, but we also need to be consistent with expectations and consequences.

We have to remember we made these little people and act accordingly. We need to remember that life is precious and we create our realities. A yoga teacher once told me,a “where the feet go, so do the hips.” It’s the same with the mind. The way we think is reflected in the world around all of us. It’s up to us to be strong, balanced, and loving. It’s up to us to communicate. It’s up to us whether our kids have happy memories from childhood. Nobody is perfect, but finding the fine line of balance can make life feel perfect.

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