Darling Daughter’s Last Day of High School…and I’m not crying???

katie-meWhat’s wrong with me?

It’s Darling Daughter’s last day of high school. She’s done in a couple of hours.

And I’m not sad…

Prior to opening Facebook last night, I was excited for the long weekend, my weekend plans; including a day trip to Pennsylvania on Saturday and a family picnic on Monday.

Until I saw postings from parent’s on Facebook, I had no idea what time the kids were done with school. Still not sure of the time, but it’s soon. It got me thinking…

So I called Aunt Kate…

Me: What’s wrong with me?

(A loaded question, I know…)

Aunt Kate: There’s nothing wrong with you.

Me: Should I be sad, crying? Is there going to come a time when I’m a mess?

Aunt Kate: Probably not. I never got that way with Joey. (my cousin)

Me: Oh…good.

Aunt Kate: I think you’re more excited for her. I was the same with Joey. He had a great experience in high school. And I was excited for what came next for him.

And as I think about her theory, I think Aunt Kate is right.

Why I’m not feeling sad…

I think because she’s excited to go to college, to choose her dorm room decor, to leave the nest, I’m excited for her.

As for high school, she’s accomplished so much. She doesn’t have regrets. She played sports, joined clubs, took on leadership roles, performed in her schools show choir and was even in several school plays. She took many challenging honors/AP classes. Made friends. Had some fun.

Even did a bit of public speaking as National Honor Society President…

katie speakingAs a mom, I did my best. I’ve certainly enjoyed raising Darling Daughter, felt blessed to have her as my daughter.

There is some relief…

We ALL worry about our kids. But for me, there’s some extra, added worry tied to being a single parent. Statistically, children of single parents are far more likely to have issues; emotionally, with drugs and alcohol, teen pregnancy, poor performance in school and so much more. I’m breathing a little easier knowing that one of my children has successfully navigated the difficult high school years.

Of course, I’m smart enough to know that I’m exchanging one set of worries for another!!

There’s so much to look forward to…

Daughter will soon be a high school graduate.

She’s off to college in the fall. When I do speak to her, or see her, we’ll have more to talk about. She’ll (hopefully) graduate from college. Then will be career decisions, maybe she’ll decide to get married, or have children, or move to a new city, or buy her own home. There are many more milestones to come. So many more things to enjoy.

I don’t look at her high school graduation as the end of something, it’s another beginning.

Not just for her, but for me, too.

My life…

As the children get older, I get to think about me. It’s always been about everybody else. Being a single parent hasn’t been easy. It has had moments too difficult to share here, or even to find words for.

But there have also been triumphs. I’ve gotten to figure out what type of career I want, to meet new people, try new things. I’m starting to see the end of the ‘raising children‘ phase of my life. And in many ways, that’s exciting for me. It means I have the freedom to chase after my dreams.

And children like that. They love to know their parents are happy.

Mine seem happier, when they know I’m busy, that I’ve got things going on.

Sometimes I tease Darling Daughter with this…”Just think, when you come home from college you’ll get to meet the fella who’s going to be your new stepfather…”

As you can imagine, she rolls her eyes!

I guess we can either look backward, or forward. I’ve never been one to wallow in the past. I try my best to enjoy each day, appreciate my past and my memories–and then plunge forward.

I’m not thinking “Where has the time gone?”

I’m thinking, “What a ride!”

Anybody else have a graduating senior? Your thoughts?

Choosing a College (Ugh.)

Darling Daughter is nearing the end of her senior year. The process she’s traveled to choose a college has been filled with special moments. Darling Daughter has 24 days until May 1st. (All high school seniors must choose by May 1st)

May 1st looms like Doomsday in our house…

Harvard

Out for lunch last week with Daughter and Aunt Kate:

Aunt Kate: Where does your Dad think you should go?

Daughter: Doesn’t matter. Don’t care what he thinks.

Aunt Kate: What about you? (Aunt Kate looked at me)

Daughter: I don’t care what she thinks, either.

Aunt Kate looked a little stunned…

Me: I’m fine with that. She’s the one who has to go to college.

(The sooner the better…)

Aunt Kate: But what if they’re paying?

Daughter: Still doesn’t matter. I’ll find a way to pay, if I need to.

Me: Her dad and I wouldn’t do that, anyway. Wouldn’t withhold money to sway her.

Darling Daughter wasn’t being snotty, but she’s been struggling to make a good decision. Her Dad and I will support that choice–And do our best to contribute to the cost.

When Daughter responded to those questions, I thought…”Good for her. She knows her own mind—she has backbone, confidence and strength in her convictions. She’s willing to stick with her decision and what she thinks is right for her, no matter what that costs her.”

Truthfully, that makes me more comfortable sending her off to college. College is expensive—I want to send a child who wants to go badly enough to incur the cost. Even if the cost is to her. Badly enough to step up and tell me where she wants to go and why she wants to go there.

Many will disagree with me. They’d argue I know more than she does, that I know what’s right for her.

Maybe. Maybe not. Yes. I’ve got experience. But its MY experience. I need to step back and let Daughter accumulate HER own life experiences.

Those who have known Daughter since birth know that she’s strong, has always known her own mind. Convincing her to do things has never worked. (Or at least not with good results…)

There would be hell to pay if I tried to talk her into a college or major—and she hated it!! I can’t imagine the next 30 years of holiday’s, or shouldering the blame for the job she despised. Because it was all my idea?

No thank you. I’ll let her decide. Others with strong-willed children will understand.

Georgetown1imagesCAAF7IS2Funny story…

Or maybe NOT so funny. About 15 years ago, Aunt Kate’s good friend had two boys–both graduated from college. One from John Carroll University. One from Cleveland State University. Both studied accounting. At the time, Aunt Kate’s son was set to attend John Carroll—an expensive, private university.

Aunt Kate: Please tell me that the one who graduated from John Carroll is doing BETTER…

Friend: Nope. They’re both doing the SAME.

Both were equally successful, earning similar  salaries. Even  though one chose Cleveland State, at a fraction of the cost of John Carroll–the private university.

The newest decision-making tool?

photo.jpg

A giant dry erase board. It’s 3 feet x 5 feet. Daughter dragged it home last weekend after talking with a family friend. I was in bed, sleeping and was jolted awake by the sound of the board slapping up against my bedroom wall. Darling Daughter launched into an explanation. I blinked. Hard. (More than once…) Tried to pay attention…

Don’t get me wrong, I was grateful for the parenting assist, but I probably didn’t need the details at 1:00 a.m…

What’s on the board? SWOT diagrams. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats for the colleges still in contention. (Thankfully, some schools are crossed out…) There’s also the ominous Red Box that changes daily,  showing the countdown to May 1st.

I’m considering a bonfire on May 1st. We can toss ALL college pamphlets, brochures, letters, scholarship notices into the fire pit and light it up.  Maybe roast some marshmallows in honor of the occasion.

From there, we’re not looking back…

The past few weeks have been tense. When I speak, I annoy Daughter. When we make eye contact, I annoy her. My breathing is more than she can tolerate. This is unusual, we typically get along wonderfully well.

Just recently, I’ve learned that other parents are in the same situation.

Perhaps we parents should swap children. I could send Daughter elsewhere and take in somebody else’s child. We could stay with this plan until May 1st, when all children would return home to peace and harmony.

I cannot believe I didn’t come up with this simple solution sooner.

At least I know what to do in a few years, if Son goes through this phase…

 

 

 

A Weekend Trip With Darling Daughter …

I haven’t blogged in a while because I’m recovering…

Prior to last weekend I was getting ready to go out-of-town with Darling Daughter—and this week I’ve been regrouping from our little adventure.

We live east of Cleveland, but headed to Columbus overnight to watch our high school wrestling team compete in a tournament, then stayed for daughter to do a scholarship competition at a college just outside of Columbus.

And so we watched wrestling on Saturday, and then went shopping at the mall that evening.

At the mall…

Darling Daughter: Mom. I’m stuck! The zipper…

Daughter was in the fitting room and I went in to help.

Darling Daughter: ZIP IT. And I mean that in two ways!!

Later at the shoe store…

Me: I’m hot

Daughter plopped down in a chair.

Me: I need orthopedic heels for work. My black dress shoes are instruments of torture.

Nice Salesmen to Daughter: Long day of shopping girls?

Darling Daughter: No. we were at wrestling…

Poor fella was stunned. Daughter and I exited the store.

Darling Daughter:  Did you see his face when I said we were at wrestling?

Me: No.

Darling Daughter: He looked confused…

Then it hit us. He had no idea what to think. What the hell kind of wrestling were we watching? Where Daughter and I wrestling? We laughed so hard we couldn’t breathe…

As we made our way through the parking lot to our car, I asked Daughter if there was anyplace else she wanted to go. There’s no limit to the shopping that can be done in Columbus.

Darling Daughter:  I’ve had it. I just don’t know if I can look around anymore.

Me: It HAS been a long day of shopping…

Darling Daughter: How long HAVE we been shopping?

Me: Maybe an hour and a half?

Darling Daughter: That’s IT?

More laughter. Less than two hours is a pathetic effort, really.

Thankfully we’re both blessed with a sense of humor, because we spent most of the day laughing. Mostly at each other. And I had a blast with my girl.

HOWEVER, THIS IS WHAT I’M WORKING WITH:  007

Yes. Daughter went to bed in socks, sweats a hoodie—even AFTER completing an extensive bedbug check.

Darling Daughter: Just be glad I don’t have gloves. If I did, I’d put them on.

She was serious. We both knew it.

There were even sticky notes on the headboards…

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On the nightstand, there were little, white notepads that said “for your thoughts…”

Daughter stuck one of the yellow sticky notes on the notepad and wrote, “This is not reassuring.” She’s never shy about sharing her thoughts.

Darling Daughter to me: I mean, you assume that’s the case.

Daughter was nervous about the college scholarship competition. I tried to calm her down…

Darling Daughter: Sure it’s no big deal. Only my future. What if my dreams are dashed?

Me: Then you’ll change your dream. Get new dreams?

NOT the right thing to say. (Just a little advice to other parents of seniors…)

AND HERE’S WHAT DARLING DAUGHTER IS WORKING WITH:

gigis cupcakesMe: There’s a cupcake shop.

Darling Daughter: You don’t NEED a cupcake.

Me: I might need one…

She also had to cope with my driving. Not improved now that I’ve got my handy, V6, stick shift, Nissan—good thing the leather head rest is cushy, because her head kept bouncing off of it.

I can’t sit still–NOT helpful when we sat through the college info session and she was so nervous she thought she was going to throw up. And I kept making her seat move, jostled her around.

AND WE BOTH HAD TO COPE WITH GETTING LOST:

I plugged 615 Sandusky into the GPS, but Daughter had written 61 S Sandusky in my notebook. We drove around until we were both completely aggravated.

Me: Clearly, we’re at a gas station. NOT a college campus.

Darling Daughter: Yes.

Me: We can hardly MISS a college campus!!!

Daughter finally looked at the directions (again) and as we talked it through, she realized our collective error. I read her ‘S’ as a number 5.

By the time we reached the college, I badly wanted to enroll her—and LEAVE her there.

And had she like the school, I’m sure she would have LOVED to stay!!

Last night at Steak ‘n Shake we discussed the college visit with Aunt Kate…

Aunt Kate: So it went well?

Darling Daughter: No. I failed miserably.

(Or so Daughter thinks…which means that we hoofed it down to Columbus, stayed overnight at a hotel, dropped several hundred dollars…for nothing??)

Aunt Kate: Oh well, it was a good experience for you.

Me: That’s what I said. She doesn’t really agree…

We discussed it a little more and I joked that Daughter could always live at home and commute.

Darling Daughter: No. I can’t!!

Me: I know. No way you can do that.

One thing we BOTH agree on.

Daughter cannot live at home. We love each other, but she is 100% ready to leave the nest. Has been most of her senior year. And I’m ready (or at least I think I’m ready??) to let her go…

This morning:

Mom: Can I take shampoo to school?

Me: Sure. I don’t care which one you take, just leave something…

Darling Daughter has late arrival, yet she gets up at 5:30 and does a 6am morning run (and workout) with a couple of other girls crazy enough to run at the crack of dawn. She showers at the school, then heads to the library to study and do scholarship applications before her first class at 9am (ish).

And so there was NO shampoo in the shower this morning…

That’s why I was on the worldwide web at 7:30am looking for a recipe for making your own shampoo. Which I created with a combination of baking soda and warm water, then rinsed with vinegar per the instructions online.

On my agenda today? A lunch event where I’ll be speaking in front of nearly 100 people—making clean hair a must. How clean it really is, I’ve no idea!!

There you have it. My life is kind of a crazy comedy of errors. Bound to happen when a 42-year-old single mother lives with her 18-year-old daughter. (And I’m not even counting the teenage body, the dogs, etc.)

Tomorrow, I’m just hoping to have shampoo…

Happy (42nd) Birthday to me…

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Today is my birthday. I actually started getting gifts toward the end of last week. I’ve got some extra cash, cupcakes, a massage, a pedicure. And from daughter, my favorite perfume. And a man? Daughter went shopping over the weekend. … Continue reading

I’ve Been Holding Out …

Generally, I blog about normal everyday life.  With (mostly) good humor and (hopefully) a degree of perspective.

But for the past few months, I’ve held back.

Not on purpose. More because I couldn’t FIND perspective. Because this past summer was one of the most difficult I can remember–especially after my car bit the dust in May.

For 4 months, I was without a car of my own.

At a party last weekend:

Friend: Amy, you are too nice. Always the ‘peacemaker.’ We are going to have to teach you how to be NOT NICE!

Daughter was within earshot…

Darling Daughter: Just take her car away. That’ll do it.

Me: She’s right.

Darling Daughter: She’s been horribly cranky…

She spoke the truth and I admitted it to everyone. Though we all had a laugh, those months were awful.  So much so that I couldn’t put words to the low points, my despair. I lost my freedom, my autonomy…and even my sense of self-worth sometimes.

But I finally bought a car. A used car, but it is new to me.

Though older, my Nissan Altima is loaded with safety features, has leather interior, disc brakes, a moon roof, a BOSE stereo system and much more.

I’m not sure anybody appreciates having a car as much as I do.

The cherry on top?

It is stick shift, which I wanted. (but couldn’t find when I got my last car) With its powerful V6 engine, my new/old car is a joy to drive. A party on 4 wheels.

My local Nissan dealership took it on a trade a few weeks ago. And it would have been sold in a day or two. Except nobody wanted a 5-speed.

Several Nissan employees (all men) had their eye on it. Were thinking of buying it.

So it was sort of funny that a girl strolled in and grabbed it.

My first car was stick shift, but I haven’t driven one since my early 20’s. Like riding a bike, it came back to me as soon as I got behind the wheel for the test drive.

The other thing that is sort of funny (In hindsight anyway…) is how quickly our car situation turned around.

My ex gave his Lexus to our daughter a couple of weeks ago, when he got a new car. The Lexus had high mileage since he drives a lot for work. Nearly 200K. But it is a solid car, not very old–and should last her a while.

Our  driveway was empty for months. Unless you count the 14 cars I borrowed off and on.

Somehow,  we went from ZERO cars, to TWO cars in a matter of days!?!

The kids and I have been through our share of challenges, but the ‘car thing’ was almost my undoing. And I have no idea how my children tolerated living with me at times. Or why they didn’t run away from home.

Not sure how family and friends coped either. But they did. Not only did they all hang in there, they went out of their way to boost my spirits,  support me and chauffeur me around.

They ALSO  let me borrow their cars.

And I’m not even the best driver. Yet only Aunt Kate handed over her keys and said, “Just don’t crash it…”

The car isn’t the only thing I’ve held out on…

I’ve had a new job for months. A job that truly enjoy. That I’m good at. (For a while, I wondered if I was ‘good’ at anything.)

After being laid off a couple of years ago, I was determined to find a job/career that suited me. I’ve sold vintage items online and I’m still an eBay PowerSeller and Top Rated Seller. I’ve also taken freelance projects; written and edited web content, set up blogs, even designed a restaurant menu . With no idea where it was going, I kept saying ‘yes’ even when I was terrified. Kept doing what I loved—Selling. Marketing. Writing.

Until I fell into my current job as a Marketing Manager for a local (downtown Willoughby) company.

Then, more serendipity. A friend that I met through my online selling leased space in downtown Willoughby one block away from my new job—and I’ve been busy moving my part-time eCommerce business there. Helping my friend market her upcycled furniture. (More on that another time…)

Not too long ago, I was down…though maybe not out. And suddenly, I’m surrounded by opportunity and possibility.

For the longest time, I felt as though I was on a roller coaster, with it clicking up…up and up farther. Seemed I went uphill forever. With no end in sight.

Then, out of nowhere I hit the top. And now I’m just hanging on for the ride as it rolls downhill…

I’ve got the beginnings of a career in marketing. A small side business doing what I love to do. A blog that has been read by thousands. (for some reason???) A car. Two (seemingly) well-adjusted, happy teenagers. A peaceful and happy home. Family and friends. A couple of dogs

And I’m full of gratitude. For my ‘inner circle’ of family and close friends for not giving up on me. For sticking by me when I wasn’t all that fun to be around. When it would have been far easier to bail. And for continuing to believe in me—even when my belief in myself got shaky.

As I type this post, I wonder if it gets much better than this?

Especially when I’m driving my new/old car. Because it hauls as#. I can’t wipe the smile off my face when I’m behind the wheel. There is a sense of triumph that I hung in there–even when I couldn’t see a way out.

And for sure, I am starting to get excited about what comes next again…

Special Thanks to my family & friends for getting me to and from my new job (one way or another) these past months. I’ve never been more grateful or felt more lucky to have all of you at my back.