Back to School

Today, Ronan looked at me and said, “Mommy, party’s over.”

Then a millisecond later: “Mommy, summer is in the wind.”

I have no idea where he comes up with this stuff. But he is right. Summer is in the wind. It has blown away.

Everyone is all bummed out about this. At least that is what Facebook tells me.

I am not bummed about this. The Fall is my favorite season of the year, always has been. It is the season where we don’t have to care who is on the Vineyard, which celebrity someone saw on Nantucket, whose summer house is the biggest. Whose kids were the cutest on the beach.

It is a time, I think, to regroup. Especially for parents. The end of summer is like the fiscal end of the year for us with little people. The school year begins. The schedule gets nuts. The tides turn and we focus less on beaches and sunsets and vacation and focus not on them as lovely little sand covered photo ops but as little people getting older.

Growing up. Heading to school. Standing on our doorsteps, their backpacks filled with fresh pencils and blank notebooks and a future filled with promise. All of this, hanging on their little shoulders; their little futures in our hands.

Which brings me to this. That picture. That quintessential photo op; your child (or children) on the doorstep, ready for school. Smiling. Ready for a new year, a new adventure.

Why is everyone so sad about this? Facebook is littered with parents expressing their remorse about this. I am not sure I understand. This is a beautiful thing. These kids are growing up, moving up. Their smiles are a testament to what amazing parents you all are.

I see these pictures, they make me smile. I am looking forward to hearing about all your little wonders and the things they do.

But, most of all, I think this. Maybe not this year, maybe not next year, but someday Ronan will stand strong at my doorstep with his backpack, and his pencils and his notebooks— and his smile. My camera will be ready.

And everything every naysayer said will be blown away. It will all be in the wind.

And I will have the best reason of all why this is my favorite time of year.

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Loss

I think, at the end of the day, this is what it is all about. Loss. That there was a game, and you played it, and you lost. You lost big. You threw all your chips down. On Hope. On Faith. The dealer dealt you a furrowed brow and said I don’t think so. But nice try.

It hurts like a paper cut, a splinter. It is not that bad but it lingers.

There is the loss you get handed, that you can’t control, and then there’s the loss that happens for other reasons. The reasons you should have controlled but didn’t. The loss that is a side effect of the hurt you are feeling from the paper cut. Or the splinter.

Having a child with a disability is like this. It is a constant feeling of loss, of failure, of the knowledge that you threw your chips down, you crossed your fingers and toes, you said a prayer to the man upstairs, you bet on life, a normal life, and you didn’t “win.”

So you boo hoo a little bit. You mourn the loss.

And then, you snap out of it. You stop betting, you stop playing. or begging, the odds. You focus on the cards you have been dealt.

Then I look at that face, that ginger hair. That smile. That personality. The wonder of him. And I am up. And I realize I have actually won big.

And you can guess what I bet on.

Red. Every time.

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Father’s Day

Today we celebrate our dads. All that they have done. And it is a lot. The love they give and gave us. The sacrifices they made. The hours they worked. The things they said.

The gifts they gave us. Hopefully, we are thinking most about the gifts that cost nothing but mean everything. Gifts, and lessons, that take a lifetime to give. To maybe understand and appreciate.

Things like this.

Confidence–My dad always taught me to hold my head high. To believe I could do it. Whatever it was. Whatever the odds. The never let ‘em see you sweat lesson. It’s a good one.

Gratitude-If I had a nickel for every time my dad told me, as I walked out the door, to say “please and thank you” I would be a very wealthy woman.

Wisdom–“Do your homework”–not just in school but in life. My dad taught me that. So I try. I try every day to show up prepared.

Humility-One of my dad’s token’s phrases? “Self praise is no praise.”–This I also carry with me. Because it is good advice. Because you are only as good as your last day at work. Get over yourself.

Perspective-Another “Mr Murph” ism? “Don’t get on the worrying committee.” You screw up? Own it. Learn from it. Life is short. Which leads me to the very best Mr Murph-ism there is– “You are gonna be dead a long time.”

Humor-My dad is hilarious. He knows a joke or a funny comment has the ability to change the mood, heal a wound, lighten the mood.

So today, as I am sure you are, think about the things, big and small, your dads taught you. And as you give them the tie or the book or the whatever it is that society has forced you to feel is a great gift for your dad, do something better, which is to take the lessons they taught you and live them.

I am trying to do the same.

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Mommy Wars? Really?

I don’t get this. This week we saw a Time Magazine photo of a beautiful young mother breastfeeding her toddler and the world was afire with comments. Is the child too old? Is this a misrepresentation of motherhood?

And my favorite:  Are skinny jeans only for women without kids? (somebody call CNN, THIS is a social issue. Puh-lease)

They deemed it the “mommy wars.” Like we as women are so competitive, so emotional, so bitchy, that we are always looking for a fight.

Come on ladies, let’s not bite the media’s bait on this one.

I literally rolled my eyes when I saw that cover. I knew the storm would come.

And the comments.

“Real mothers don’t look like that.” (Yes, some of them do. She looked pretty real to me. Mothers come in all shapes, appearances and sizes. Just like kids. As mothers, we should know that, teach our kids that.)

“He is too old to be breastfeeding.” (Is it your kid, your boob? Then what do you care?)

And the skinny jeans thing. I am wearing them now. Somebody call DSS.

Let’s regroup. Let’s stop projecting our emotions as mothers on a photo or a fabricated social issue. Let’s not waste our mommy energy (which is like liquid gold in my opinion) on this junk.

I have no time (as I am sure you other mommies don’t either) to get mad about a nameless mother on a magazine cover clearly created for PR value.

Instead, I try and do this.

I make sure Ronan is safe, and warm, and happy. That he feels loved and gives love every chance he gets.

That he recognizes right from wrong, that he does the right thing in a challenging situation.

That he laughs. A lot. Often at my expense.

That I read to him,  sing to him, talk to him in a way that is nurturing but not baby talk. That I respect him as an evolving little person. Still my baby but a man in training.

That he looks at all people as equals. And does not pass judgement, or lay down a sentence to a behavior or a person he barely knows.

Tomorrow is about celebrating all mothers. About respecting individual “mothering” styles. About focusing less on the mother next door. And looking inward. Thinking about our own mothers. And mostly, looking at the fruits of our labor, these glorious little (and big) people who we are so honored  to be addressed by the best title on earth by: Mommy.

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Mother’s Day (again)

Mother’s day is Sunday. As if you needed a reminder. I have, lucky me, been reminded by red envelope, proflowers.com, david yurman, crate and barrel, nordstroms and scores of other retailers.

Thanks guys (and girls). I am well aware.

I guess the message is “Hey mommy, you are supposed to get flowers, and jewelry, and fancy pants gifts on this day because you are a mother.”

Ok, thanks. But I beg to differ. I think the gift of motherhood happens every day, all year. It is a blessing and a privilege.

It is about raising, and having a life  you created that means more than anything. Anything. And about navigating the challenges, celebrating the victories. Those are the real gifts we get as mothers. Red Envelope and David Yurman aside.

People ask me all the time how I “do” it and I always am stumped for an answer. How do I “do” it?

I usually just answer “Because I am his mother.”

I don’t think Mother’s Day is about me. It is about him. The way he looks to me, laughs with me, loves me.

Sorry proflowers.com and Mr. Yurman. That is all the gift I need.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Winning (No Charlie Sheen involved)

Ronan and I have been watching the Bruins. With bated breath. Staying up too late, wasting years and prayers hoping we win.

Why? I don’t know.

I think it might be because I was raised in what could fairly be called a hockey household.

This game. It was always there. Complete with the constant (ick) scent of hockey equipment, the trips to Sports Etc to get my brother’s skates sharpened, the nightly conversations between my dad and brother about whatever game was happening, whether it be my brother’s pee wee team or the professionals.  I ate a lot of rink pizza, played catch and hide and seek under the stands at the Burlington Ice Palace.

I learned as a young girl the difference between a forecheck and a backcheck, the meaning of shorthanded, the reason why the ref blows the whistle for offsides. I remember being a little girl and thinking “offsides just means the players are getting ahead of themselves, literally.” I am not even sure if that is right, but that is how I looked at it. Still do.

I remember sitting with my dad, watching the Bruins, and he would say things like “trouble” or “goal”, and 9 out of 10 times he was right.

I also remember this. Those conversations between my dad and brother at dinner, in the car. My father never told my brother he played badly, he never blamed my brother’s teammates for a loss. It was never about who won or who lost. He focused on the game, the bigger picture. What went wrong on the ice, what went right. How a play should have gone differently, how a shift change was too quick, or too slow. He talked about the coaching. He taught my brother to look at the bigger picture. To learn from what went wrong, to repeat what went right. To look to the next game, the next day.

It wasn’t about one kid, or one play. Ever. He taught all us kids that.

And it worked. Because my brother has grown to be a standout coach and a person who doesn’t blame individuals for a loss (or congratulate for a win) but looks at the bigger picture.

Of course, this makes me think about me and Ronan. Why I should not focus on what he did, or didn’t do, in one “play” or one game. On a given day. It is about the bigger picture.

And how, “winning” is not always the ultimate goal. It is about doing your best, learning from your mistakes, focusing on the bigger picture.

To looking to the next “game”– the next day.

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Easter

It’s Easter.

This holiday, like most, makes me happy. It is, after all, somewhat defined by cuddly bunny rabbits and pink marshmallow candies and chocolate coated everything.

Who can argue with that?

But it is also about other things. Rebirth. Rejoicing. Fresh starts.

It is, of course, most importantly, about a desperate and seemingly hopeless situation that became a miracle.

I dig that. I get it. Ronan and I have been blessed with fresh start after fresh start. And, of course, we have faced a situation that some thought was hopeless; a situation that we, hopefully, and somewhat defiantly, are (I hope) rising above.

Thanks to Ronan. He sprinkles a little miracle every day.

No chocolate coat needed.

Happy Easter all!

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