My Christmas Failure…

tree 2015I just really didn’t get it done this Christmas.

I should have known it was going in that direction when Darling Daughter and I were hanging out in the living room several weeks ago…

Me: I saw a watch I love; going to buy it next time I’m out.

Darling Daughter: Oh? What kind?

I tried to describe it, then fumbled with my iPad, as I tried to look it up.

Darling Daughter: Was it like this one?

Me: Yes! That’s it. Isn’t it pretty? Working in an office, I need a watch. Just isn’t acceptable to look at my phone to keep track of time.

Darling Daughter: It will be here in 2 days.

Me:  Huh?

Darling Daughter: Just ordered it.

I was a little stunned…

Darling Daughter: You can wear it when it gets here. We can just wrap it up on Christmas morning, and you can act surprised.

So really, Darling Daughter started things off with her gift to me…

The Christmas Tree

Lead off the season getting it up a little late. In the spirit of our tradition of cutting down ridiculous trees, this years was a long-legged beauty—like a gazelle. Or a “pencil necked” tree, depending on how you look at it. The tree has a very long trunk; branches start 2 1/2 feet from the ground.

The Christmas Cookies

I made homemade dough. My mom’s recipe needs to sit in the refrigerator overnight  before being rolled out into cut out sugar cookies. Except it sat overnight for many nights, and we (mostly I) slowly ate the dough. I did roll out and frost 11 cookies a couple of nights ago. A miserable failure, really.

The Christmas Gifts

We started off with gifts under the tree from Santa, but the kids slowly opened them before Christmas.

I had the best of intentions, but I’m working downtown now and who wants to shop after work? I’m not a fan of the mall, avoid it at all cost. I’ve always been the girl who wishes the right clothes would magically appear in the closet. Same with furniture and household goods. Shopping has never been my thing. I kept planning to get the Christmas shopping done, but things came up…

And the kids couldn’t come up with anything they wanted.

Darling Daughter: You know what I REALLY want for Christmas?

Me: Hmmmm…

Darling Daughter: Toilet paper, paper towels, Clorox wipes, cleaning supplies for my apartment, shampoo, razors…Would it be bad if I asked for Kroger gift cards?

Me: No.

Darling Daughter: Because I really have no problem buying clothes, shoes, the fun stuff. I really, really hate spending money on groceries, the things I need when I’m back at college in my apartment.

Then, three days before Christmas, she tells me about a college t-shirt that she’d always wanted, but never bought because it was pricey. FAR too late to order the damn thing!

My son was no better. Badly needed a couple of pairs of jeans, and a couple of pairs of sweatpants. We went shopping a few days before Christmas, so that he could try on jeans. We found ONE pair that worked. He wore them to school the next day. They never got wrapped. Same for the sweater that my daughter picked out. Ugh!

That is how we wound up with only a few gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. We were already wearing many of our gifts, using others. I guess I just kind of threw my hands up, figured why run out in the madness? Why stuff boxes with shit nobody wanted, or that wasn’t needed? Figured I might as well take the kids out shopping this week, get them what they need.

My Solution

I drew fun pictures of what I would have gotten them, if I was more perfect, if I had gotten it together–gotten the shopping done. Rolled them up, tied them with ribbons, and put them in their stockings. They (thankfully) were amused…

gifts

Really, I’m just giving them stories to tell. If I was a better mom, they’d have no stories.

I had Darling Daughter fetch my laptop so she could pick out the shirt she wanted—and we ordered it Christmas morning. It will be here soon. Almost the same as opening it Christmas morning, right?

Family Time

Though we pretty much ruined the normal traditions this year, we spent a wonderful Saturday before Christmas at my Dads house, spent time the family/cousins,  in Pennsylvania (a short road trip across the state line) on Christmas Eve, and the kids and I attended midnight mass. After breakfast on Christmas morning, we took a Christmas walk in the woods and we’ll see more family this afternoon.  We’ll have fun in the coming days, we’ll get that shopping done—and the whole family will be together for New Years Day, even the Pennsylvania and California crews.  We are getting the important things done.

Kids often grow up thinking they’ll do better than their parents…

I’m helping my kids out. Setting the bar low.

On Choosing a College, Career Path…

tealtreeframed1Friend: I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up and my life is half over.

I knew there was a reason we are friends.

Then it hit me. We’re guiding offspring toward college, careers and futures. (Gasp!) Our children are making decisions that will impact the rest of their lives. As adults, we’re guiding them.

Take a look around.

Does it LOOK like we adults know what we’re doing?

My Career (or lack thereof…)

After graduating college, I married, had children, and stayed home to raise them. Divorce changed my plan. The word ‘divorce’ has negative connotations. But really, it’s like getting off one bus and taking a different bus to a new destination. Just a change in path.

My résumé is a crazy mix of full-time jobs and freelance projects. It’s impossible to chronicle where one job ends and another begins, such is the chaotic overlap. I’ve been lucky to have worked for/with wonderful people, have appreciated each opportunity—but I’m not 100% sure where I’m headed.

And now it’s my job to guide two young adults?  God help us…

True Story:

A job presented itself a couple of weeks ago. It intrigued me, so I applied; agreed to an interview to see if the job, company, and I were suited for each other.

Interviewer: If you could go back to the beginning of your career, what might you do differently?

My (Brilliant?) Response: Nothing.

Interviewer: So, No regrets?

Me: No regrets.

I did elaborate. Gave solid reasons for having no regrets; that my choices led to my current place, tied that to my suitability for the position. I refrained from admitting that I loved every walk in the woods with my children, gathering rocks and leaves outdoors, biking to get ice cream, all the moments and memories. Perhaps they wouldn’t have seen the value in those years?

Common Advice from the Adult Contingent…

Go to college, but don’t overspend: Don’t go heavily into debt for a major/degree that offers only a slim chance of a job, or a job that won’t pay enough to satisfy college loans. What if that nixes a students’ chosen career, the thing they dream of doing? What if pursuing a major in a high paying field is highly competitive, stressful, and miserable? And that’s before even getting out of college. What about those pressured into college who would prefer a trade, or another path?

Do something you love: We often encourage our children to do something they’re good at, that they enjoy. (See above) Sometimes our best skills are difficult to monetize, or for the workplace to value. For example, I’m good at creating art with items (i.e. rocks, sticks, rusty metal) found outdoors and stringing words together in a pleasing fashion. My kids have ridden that bus with me; watched me wrestle that into making sense. It’s challenging that my talents are better suited to hobbies, than a career.

Use sports to pay for college:  College sports require the same dedication as academics. It can be difficult to schedule co-ops/internships, or manage more rigorous courses of study. My son is working this out now; he needs a college major that works with a track schedule, yet provides a future career. In college, they fly to meets—he cannot be in class and in another state at the same time. Injury is also a consideration.

What if there is no right way to choose a college, career path? What if the path is ever evolving over a lifetime?

On Aiming Low

pole vault

Per NCAA statistics, there are over 1 million high school football players. Only 6.5% will play in college, with 1.5% of those ever being drafted into the NFL. Even then, chances of NFL success are ridiculously small, but isn’t that the case with so many things in life?

Do we really want to teach our children to think small? That taking chances, or chasing dreams is a waste of time? If everybody played the odds, made choices based solely on logic and common sense– discounted as options ALL things with minimal possibility of success, what would happen?

We’d still be riding horses instead of driving cars. There would be no Apple Computer. Or brilliant structures by Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry. Imagine the books never written? Songs, movies, art never created. The businesses never started. The lack of medical advancements, diseases without cure.  Forget about Olympic medals…

I’d love for my children to have easy paths, to never experience failure, or obstacles—yet I know that those things will shape them, pave the way for future success. I want them to take some chances, chase dreams.

What comforts me? Eases the pressure?

My children aren’t listening to my advice anyway.

They nod their heads when I speak, then go about things their way. And really, that’s fine. Who am I to choose their path, or tell them which bus to take? Can’t do it. Can only love them, support their choices.

Many thanks to my friend for sending my brain down this path. I needed a few more things to think about…

She in the CLE

USA-Cleveland-267x267There’s a new blogger collective in Cleveland and it’s called She in the CLE.

From the She in the CLE site: 

Welcome to She In The CLE! We are a blogger collective dedicated to driving conversations with purpose by women in the Cleveland area. We provide a channel for women to engage and discuss topics at all levels from climbing the corporate ladder to sampling the best eats in the city to raising a family! Our mission isn’t about defining the conversations or topics – it’s all about creating a vibrant, virtual space that allows for networking, continual learning and storytelling.

Happily, I’ll be a contributor.

I’m very much looking forward to connecting with other Cleveland women and the conversations, friendships and connections that lie ahead. Here’s a link to my first post:

From Homemaker to Single, Working Parent (sigh…)

Happy Weekend!!

Thoughts on Raising a Gifted Athlete

Gallery

This gallery contains 6 photos.

My son is competing at the state track meet in Pole Vault tomorrow morning. He is a gifted athlete. And that’s all very well. But it has nothing to do with me. At the spring awards banquet last week, he was … Continue reading

High School Graduation…no time for reflection

“Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.”

~Paulo  Coelho

Today: Darling Daughter graduates high school. She does so with style, in a pretty white dress, white cap and gown and being that she’s a ‘shoe person’ … sparkly silver shoes. She’ll be wearing bling on her feet and on her person, as she graduates with honors and distinction at the top of her class.

Tomorrow: We leave home at 5:45 a.m. for orientation at Daughter’s chosen college. She’ll enroll in her first semester of college classes and later in the day, we turn around and drive three hours back home.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: I’ll work. (Probably a lot given my abbreviated week.)

(Also on Tuesday: An appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. Toss fixing my banged up right hand into the mix…)

Friday: Daughter and I (and maybe the family?) will be up again at the crack of dawn, to drive to Columbus. We’ll arrive at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, on the campus of The Ohio State University,  by 9 am. Son competes in the state track tournament. As of a few months ago, he pole vaults? He’s only a freshmen.

color runSaturday: Up early again. For The Color Run. Our group will run (and walk) a few miles in white shirts, and have paint thrown on us all through the ‘race.’ Team name? The Misfits. “Fit teenage boys, a fat old lady (me) and some teenage girls somewhere in between.” Thankfully, my good friend (and fellow 40 something) is joining me. I won’t be the only ‘old lady’ in our group.

 

Sunday:  Darling Daughter’s graduation party. When are we getting ready for it? I’m not sure. Thankfully we kept it simple. It seemed to me we had two choices. Have a small, casual, gathering (approx. 40-50 people) or it could get big, really quickly, easily 150. (In our small town, we all know each other.) Grateful we went small, given the week’s events…

June 12: Son turns 16 and gets his driver’s license. He’s ready, been taking his classes, etc. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be!!

July – August: In a few weeks, we’ll welcome a new baby girl into the family. (Aunt Kate’s first grandchild…) The kids and I will move to a new home this summer (I’ve been packing for months). We’ll get daughter ready, then take her to college in August.

Reflection? No time for that now…

Having just started a new, full-time job six weeks ago, as well as a couple of new freelance side jobs, I’m a little befuddled these days. Seems there’s so much going on. Ceremonies that precede a high school graduation. Awards nights, last day of school, parties…

And Son making a run at state pole vault champion? He picked up a pole barely three months ago, began the season flinging himself up over 9 feet…and is now quickly closing in on 14 feet?

white cupcakeAt some point, I’ll have quiet moments for reflection…

Right now, I’m just hanging on…enjoying the ride!!

Knowing that next weeks graduation party brings a cupcake.