Sunday, September 27, 2009

For Linda B.

Circa 1991.

Chuck and I were living in our first house in the subdivision Pecan Grove, outside of Richmond, Texas. We had 3 children under the age of 5 and were drowning in diapers, dirty laundry and bills. We survived the weeks so we could do chores all weekend. Most of the neighbors on our street were also young parents and doing the same. While I liked my neighbors, the only thing most of had in common was the ear infections our children suffered. You know the conversation....."we're on the 3rd ear infection"....."yea, well mine has her 4th and she's allergic to Amoxycillin." yawn.

Most of the women on my street worked outside the home. I was a stay-at-homer at the time and struggling to make that work for us. The hardest part for Chuck was the one income but for me it was the social aspect. With little to no money, lunches at the country club was not an option. My social network consisted of talking on the cordless phone while changing diapers and stirring the pots on the stove.

The spring of '91, I was invited to a baby shower at a neighbor's house that lived on another street. While there, I met other women who also lived in the area but on other streets. One woman in particular just seemed so fun. So nice. A new friend maybe. Close enough to be called a neighbor but not on my street.

A few months later, I ran into this woman, named Linda, again when I was out walking. A family had moved in across from her and they were all outside in Linda's yard. The new neighbor, who later I learned was named Debbie, was catering to her little boy who had just taken a fall and I will swear to this day that the minute she turned to look at me, I felt a zing. A zing. Like I know you. I've known you forever.

Within days, I had a new group of friends. It turns out that my oldest child was in the same kindergarten class with another family on this same street. I now knew 3 families on the street just before ours in the neighborhood I had lived in for 8 years. Ahhh. Life was good. Our children got along. Our husbands got along. We had great conversations. And lots and lots of margaritas over a great game of Pictionary on many Friday evenings.

This time in my life was so fun. So fulfilling. I was 34 years old and it was the time of my life.

I was staying home. Raising children. Changing diapers. Cleaning toilets. Cooking good dinners. Doing crafts. But this wasn't the fulfilling part. Did you really think it was? Nope. The fulfilling part was this sisterhood of friends I had acquired while doing all those things. We laughed. We traded stories. We did a little male bashing. We babysat each other's children. We were in a babysitting co-op and a bunco group together. We gave parties. We let out steam during major PMS attacks. We were all trying to make ends meet and stay home with our children. We took care of one another.

One funny story from those good old days.....We were all at Linda's corner house with kids running around, in and out of the backyard, moms talking and laughing. After an hour or more of letting the kids play, we all gathered our things to leave. Linda gave me a grocery sack of some hand-me-downs to take home for Will to wear. I put the sack on my hip and gathered my chicks for the walk down the block and around the corner. As I got to the edge of my yard, I looked at my 2 girls, then at the toddler on my hip............only wasn't a was a grocery sack!!! I had forgotten Will! I grabbed my girls and we turned and headed back to Linda's running.

Linda? Debbie? My good friends? They met me in the yard with Will......laughing and asking me if I had forgotten something. And you know that story got told a time or two at my expense.

I knew then that what we had was "the good old days." I had a feeling that it wouldn't last forever....because it was so dang good. And sure enough it did slowly come to an end. One by one husbands got new jobs that transferred them out of state. Tears were shed. Promises were made to stay in touch. And Christmas cards have been sent for well over a decade now.

There is always a nucleus in a group like that. You know the one person that keeps the group going. The one that instigates the parties. Plans the trips to the mall. Calls the happy hour. Finds the best preschool. Always has snacks on hand in her pantry. She's the nucleus. And ours was Linda.

The group began to dissolve when Linda moved to California. The night before she moved away, we all stood out on the street corner and hugged and sobbed. Ugh. I am tearing up now just remembering that night. I knew in the deepest place in me that it would never be the same. The group would slowly begin to disintegrate.

And it never was. Linda moved. Then Grizel moved to Florida. Then Debbie moved to Georgia. Nails in my coffin.

I knew it was the good old days. I knew then that I was in the middle of it. I'm writing this post in honor of Linda. The nucleus. While that isn't a very pretty has a beautiful meaning.

nucleus –noun, plural -cle⋅i - a central part about which other parts are grouped or gathered; core: Linda was the nucleus.

Linda still lives in California and has remained a loyal Christmas card sender all these years. I haven't seen her in person since she moved but she is still a good friend. She has that special place in my heart and memory. I have to admit I am jealous when I think about the people who get to live near her now. As I know she has done for them, what she did for me....for our group.

Linda and I are facebook friends and she reads my blog. Modern technology makes my brain hurt but I love that we can stay connected if even by this crazy cyber thread.
One of the people I am jealous of is a good friend of Linda.....Suzy Bickers....who lives on the same street as Linda now. Suzy reads my blog, too. She sells the overly adorable jewelry known as Stella and Dot. As a thanks to Suzy for reading my blog, I would love for you to go visit her at You have my permission to buy yourself something pretty.

And Suzy....please walk down your street and give Linda a hug for me. And tell her I love her. Always will.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What sound is that?

Reviewing the letters and sounds again today.....teaching the children how to use the Word Wall as a tool.

Me: Find the letter T.

Him: There it is... (pointing to the letter on the Word Wall)

Me: What's that a picture of beside the letter T?

Him: A turtle.

Me: What sound do you hear at the beginning of t....urtle?

Him: tur.

Public Toilet Paper

I work in a kindergarten. And most days, I realize by 2 in the afternoon that I haven't stopped long enough to go to the bathroom. So by the time I do head to the porcelain throne.....I am just about pulling my pants down before I get to the stall.

Yesterday, I open the stall door and I see a million tiny pieces of toilet paper all over the floor. That should have been a red flag for me.....but I am using all the energy in my body to not wet my pants.

I get in the stall, I hover over the potty and know.

And then it's time to wipe. I reach for the toilet paper. An inch comes off. I roll it around to find the beginning but it looks like it has been chewed by a beaver and there is no beginning. So I grab at it again. Another inch comes off. I do this at least 50 times....make that a hundred.... and add to the existing mountain on the floor. Feeling guilty the whole time for littering.

And I am hovering. Because that's what women have to do. My thighs are getting shaky. I am not going to make it like this for much longer.

Here's the thing. I can't leave. I can't quit. Because you know....I haven't wiped. So I continue to roll it and look for a beginning and claw at it and even turned to prayer.

At one point, I looked up to see if there were cameras watching this whole act.

Then I reached way up where no hand will go and tried to engage the new roll above knowing full well that wasn't going to happen. Now you dont' need to picture this....but I am hovering and then trying to reach at an angle impossible to humans to get my hand into an opening the size of a piece of bread.

So with the precision of a brain surgeon, I used my fingertips to tear the paper wrap off the new roll and used that. I did.

A little advice....

1. To the person (I am going to assume it's a man....because we all know they don't really need to wipe after #1) in charge of purchasing all toilet paper for the restrooms in the district. Really? Wouldn't no paper be better than this? Why don't you just go ahead and tell us to bring our own from home. There's a budget least $100 a year, if you pay that much.

2. If you enter a stall and see a mountain of torn to shreds toilet paper on the floor.....grab some of that "bark off a tree paper towel" first.

You're welcome.

Monday, September 21, 2009

What he loves, what he doesn't

Will came home Saturday as it was his last free weekend until Thanksgiving. He has pledged a fraternity and I guess they own him on the weekends. When he said he was coming home, I kidded him by asking "what if I don't want you to?" He responded, "I'm coming to see the dogs."

And he really was. He loves the dogs. I love the dogs. The dogs are this family's glue.

While home, Will worked on a narrative due in his English class.....on his laptop at the dining room table with one dog on his lap and two at his feet. He told me he loves writing. He said it's so much better in college. They can even use cuss words. Freedom.

Will's professor was a screen writer in L.A. for over 20 years as well as a published author. I asked why he was at Stephen F. Austin now (thinking why would one leave a screenwriting career in LA for the small town of Nacogdoches) and Will said he is getter another degree....and teaching.

So he loves writing.

Will also shared something he doesn't like so far. Apparently "everyone there" is homophobic and uses the N word. Really, I ask? Everyone? After a little discussion we whittled that number down but it still seemed like a lot of people to him.

I explained that he is coming from a huge metropolitan area going into a small East Texas town and there are cultural differences to be expected. He says it's offensive to him. Wow. I was not prepared for this.

So he doesn't like that part.

I told him what I tell the kindergarteners. Do not hang around people that don't act nice.

What should I have said?

Remote Control

Reviewing some letters and sounds today....

Me: (showing the letter X) What letter is this?

Him: An X

Me: That's right! What sound do we make for the letter X?

Him: ........uh, you know, that remote control thing.

Me: Remote control?

Him: Yeah, you know, that remote control thing that check your body out?
(as he runs his fisted hand up and down his rib cage)

Me: Do you mean "x-ray?"

Him: Yeah, you know the doctor can check your body with it.

You have to admit I'm pretty good at decoding. I'm almost ready for the game show Pyramid.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mothers and Daughters

My book club met again last night after our long summer hiatus...but instead of meeting at someone's home, we ventured out to a Book Discussion and Signing sponsored by Blue Willow Bookshop. Sue Monk Kid (author of The Secret Life of Bees) and her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor have co-written a book called Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Memoir....and they came to Houston on their book tour.

Our group of 8 met for a quick dinner and then an evening of listening to these two women discuss the ins and outs of writing this book...from its conception to the finished product. The book was available for purchase and the long line was available to stand in to get it signed by the authors.

I had my 2 seconds with Sue Monk Kidd and she was a very kind those 2 seconds. I suspect she won't remember me, but I will remember her. She seemed genuine and unpretentious and still smiling as she signed probably the 250th book of the evening. I asked her if she (pointing to her daughter) was her only child and she responded no, she had a son, much older.....and then I had to move on. Her daughter signed the book and then my turn was over. That has to be exhausting work.

I haven't read the book yet but during the discussion both women read passages from it....enough to know that it is about 2 women, related by the birthed, one doing the birthing....who are at a threshold in their life. One at the door of entering Older Woman. The other at the door of entering Young Woman, just graduating from college with the future unknown. Menopause, depression, pulling away, crashing together. Mother, daughter.

At one point, Sue Monk Kidd said she was struggling with how to "mother" an adult, after years of being a mother to this child. Well, hello. I am so there. So I am going to dive into this book with the hopes of some revelation.

I have 2 beautiful, intelligent adult daughters....24 and 21. Both have brought me more joy than I could ever have imagined. Both going through different challenges. Both have some of my traits. Some of those good, some of those bad. Both are loved. Both show their love differently. Both are fiercely was I. And honestly, I am struggling with how to mother them. I can vividly remember being 19 and thinking....well, I don't need my mother now. (I am not saying this was true...just how I honestly felt at the time.)

Sometimes my daughters still tattle on each other... or one hurts the other's feelings. And I still struggle with whether I am to get in the middle or walk away short of blood. I think they are still testing me to see which one I love the most. I can tell the I would die for either of them....and certainly die myself if faced with saving only one. I love them both. I like them both. I cannot compare. They are both rare jewels.

What I really want for them is to have each other. They share a childhood. Their memories of their childhood are much more closely related than my memories of their childhood. They share the same DNA. I want them to find who they are and what they are passionate about. And then be flexible enough that they can change their mind as they grow older and their situations change. I want them to have their own children one least two. Because then.....then they will truly know how much I love them.

I no longer need to buy their clothes, wash their clothes, fix their meals, bandage their scrapes, help with their projects or study for tests, carpool them somewhere, plan their birthday parties, cut their hair, take them to the doctor, buy their school supplies, wake them up each morning, tell them to get their bath.....but I love them so much and that is how I showed it for so many years. How do I show it now? Now, when they don't need me.

I am going to dive into this new book with high hopes of relating to this story and coming out of it with some sage advice. Or at the very least feeling like I am amongst a sisterhood going through the same struggle.

P.S. I love the women in my book club. It is a treat to be in their presence. Last night as I was sitting with them at dinner, I had this feeling of being so blessed ....that I can call these women my friends. I kind of stopped and smelled the to speak.

Friday, September 11, 2009

If you can't say anything nice,
don't say anything at all.
- as quoted by my mother my entire childhood-

Monday, September 7, 2009

We Met The Boy

Jordan came home for the Labor Day weekend and brought The Boy. He is a home-grown Phoenix boy and she has been there for more than 2 years now. They are a couple...officially dating.... and this is the first time we have seen him, but we've been hearing about him for the past 3 months. He's a very nice guy....and they seem to really like each other. I would say love but that's not really for me to say....

And while "nice" goes a long way with me.....

if you really want to impress me, help with the dishes.

I'm impressed.

He dried some more.
While my own biological children were
no where to be found....he still dried.
Like I said, I'm impressed.
We ate out and stopped by a local bar to listen to a band on Friday.
Jordan took him to the A&M game on Saturday. We went to church then came home for ribs, steak, potatoes, baked beans and banana pudding on Sunday. We played board games around the table. And threw in the dogs in case things weren't chaotic enough. He was a good sport through it all. Now.....let's see if he comes back. He's certainly welcome.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Things I Heard at The Cone

I am on Car Duty in the afternoon at my school. I am assigned to a certain cone. Kids are sent to me when their parent's car is coming up to that spot. So I have 30 seconds to a minute or so with a child I don't know. I usually ask them if they had a good day. They usually respond with something else.

Heard Today at The Cone...

One Boy: I hope I see a real falcon one day.

Another Boy: Your voice sounds old. (I am losing my voice).

A Girl: I need to find 3 rocks so I can work on my magic trick. Actually, 2 medium and 1 small rock.

Random thoughts. Scrambled brains. Living in the moment.