My Gynecologist Appointment With Doogie Howser

I went to the gynecologist recently for my yearly checkup. I’m usually a procrastinator in general, but making this appointment is rarely high on my list of priorities. I know that going to the gynecologist is for preventative maintenance, just like making sure you change the oil in your car every 3,000 miles but don’t most people try to make it to 5,000 miles before changing the oil?

Everyone knows it needs to be done, but nobody I know ever wakes up and goes “Yayyyyy! It’s gynecologist appointment day!”

I get to the doctor’s office and sign in, then head over to the waiting room that is currently hosting several pregnant women and now me. I feel like the new kid in school that everyone stares at because she’s different.

After 40 minutes or so (who’s counting?) the nurse calls me back.

We go through the typical steps. She checks my blood pressure. Normal. Pulse? Normal. Then I get on the scales. I drop my purse, jacket, and take off my shoes. I even remove my Pandora bracelet in fear that it will add another few ounces. I let out all the air in my lungs and lightly step on the scales, like it will take a pound or two off the final result.

“Oh, you’ve gained a few pounds since you were here last year.”

Seriously? Does she not realize that I don’t know my pants are tighter this year than last? Do I need the nurse at my gynecologist’s office bringing that to my attention? This appointment is getting off to a bad start.

I’m already in a bad mood lady just because I have to be here. Don’t push it.

I am led into a little room with all kinds of posters on the walls with pictures of vaginas, birth control, babies in the womb, etc. Wow. This is not helping.

The nurse lays out a gown and sheet and I’m told I’m supposed to strip down to my birthday suit and put on the gown.

After a while, my doctor and his nurse come into the room. He’s new to the practice so I have never met him before. He looks like he just graduated from middle school. And he’s so cheerful that it makes me want to slap him. I’m thinking, “Please don’t be this happy while you are looking up my vajayjay because it will make this experience even more uncomfortable.”

He asks me tons of questions.

How many children have I had? Am I married? What do I do for a living?

Sounds like I’m being picked up at a bar. I squeeze my eyes shut. Please stop the small talk and get this show on the road.

He checks my tiny boobies out to make sure there aren’t any lumps in there. My chest is flatter than the table I’m lying on, and all the while he asks me if I have dogs, isn’t the weather nice today, and whether or not I watch football.

What?

I lay back and he does the “other” part of the exam. My knees are like magnets. They instinctively keep closing back together. It is clear that I am not enjoying this experience.

Then he does an ultrasound to see what my baby makers look like. They are 47 years old so they are probably starting to look like shriveled up raisins, but he says that everything looks good.

“Just please don’t see a heartbeat in there”, I say.

“Oh, nothing to worry about. You’re getting up there in age so unless you are trying to get pregnant, you probably won’t.”

W.T.H???

The humiliating part of the exam is over. I can only compare a gynecologist exam to prostate exam. In theory of course, since I don’t have a prostate. You just had someone poking around in your no-no spots and he hasn’t even bought you dinner.

I sit up on the exam table and he asks me more questions.

“How old are you?’

“Just turned 47.”

“Ahh. Are you experiencing hot flashes? Weight gain? Mood swings?”

“Yes. Oh my God, am I dying? What do I have?”

“Oh it’s nothing. You’re probably just experiencing early menopause.”

Early menopause? Seriously? I’m 47! Not 107! Didn’t my grandmother just go through menopause? She’s 96. I’m too young to be going through menopause. Here I was worried he was going to tell me I’m pregnant, and instead he tells me my girly parts are antiquated.

I sit there, stunned, as he goes over other symptoms. These are just some of the fun features of menopause: Hair loss, loss of libido, brittle nails, anxiety, paranoia.

“Oh great”, I think. I’m going to turn into a bitchy, bald, edgy, sweaty, freaked out sex-hater. Sounds like my husband is just going to LOVE the new me.

He asks if I have any more questions. I mumble “no” as I’m still trying to process the fact that he not only insinuated that I’m getting old, but he also just had his hand up my hoo-ha. I sort of feel used.
I could use some chocolate.

And as I’m leaving, Doogie Howser hands me a slip of paper, smiles at me and tells me to have a nice day.

I leave the office and go sit in my car. I look down at the piece of paper.

That little bastard. It’s a prescription for my annual mammogram.

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Just Like Her Mom

They say if a man wants to know what his future wife will be like, all he needs to do is look at her mother.

That can be good OR bad. Some women might not want to be like their mother, but for me, I hope I’m exactly like my mom.

There is something about moms that make everything okay. I’m 44 years old, but when I feel like I’m going to puke, I want my mom. When something makes me sad? I want my mom. When I have good news?

Okay, first I call my husband, and then I call my mom.

But what if I need to complain about my husband? Who do I call?

Yep.

My mom, who everyone calls “Ninny”.

Banma, Mom, Me & Cathy, 1969

Banma, Mom, Me & Cathy, 1969

She is one of the funniest people I’ve ever known, and most of the time it’s completely unintentional. We have always had many different ways to communicate – and not just looks or cryptic sounds. She actually taught us the sign language for “Watch out – Daddy’s about to blow his top” so that we would know without words when Daddy was in a bad mood.

Ninny learned everything from her own wonderful mom. My grandmother, Banma, is probably the sweetest person alive. She is 94 years old and still living on the farm she grew up on, going to the same church she was baptized in, and a friend to everyone she meets.

My mom said that she never heard Banma raise her voice. Clearly, that gene did not flow down to my mother or my sister or me. We have no trouble raising our voice but hopefully we got some of Banma’s sweetness.

Throughout their 52 year marriage, my parents have always been there to support each other. Ninny was a stay at home mom when I grew up, and my father happily worked because he loved his girls and wanted her to be at home with us.

Ever since we found out about my father’s cancer, I have been amazed not only with my father for fighting the cancer so hard, but I am in awe at my mother’s strength. I always knew she was strong, but to be strong enough to care for my dad, as well as her own mother, could easily cause an IronMan to crumble…but not Ninny.

To know how much Ninny is loved and needed, you only have to look as far as this Mother’s Day. I offered to stay with my dad, who has been sick from the chemo treatments, so that my mom could visit Banma for Mother’s Day. But he declined and said “No offense, sweetheart, but I need my Ninny”, and then went on the long drive with her to Mississippi even though he was feeling terrible.

I get it. She can make anything better.

And I thank God every day for her.

When I go to my final resting place, I can only pray that someone will give me the greatest compliment I can imagine.

I hope they’ll say “She was just like her mother.”

Mom, Banma, Me & Cathy, 2011

Mom, Banma, Me & Cathy, 2011

My Mother And the Middle Finger Salute

My mother, who we call Ninny, is one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. And the funny part about that is that most of the time she doesn’t mean to be funny. It’s completely unintentional – it just happens.

Some people are just funny because of things they do or the timing of when they say things. Ninny is a master of both of those things.

A perfect example of this would be what I call the “Glasses Adjustment” story.

And it goes like this:

My sister Cathy and her husband, Jonathan were at my parent’s house for a cookout, along with me and my husband. Jonathan and Dale have always had great son-in-law/mother-in-law connections with Ninny. They love to mess with her and she is just as quick to dish it back to them.

Jonathan was in the middle of telling us his favorite story about Ninny. She was staying at their house watching the kids while Cathy and Jonathan were out of the country for their anniversary. She was running late to pick the kids up from school but couldn’t find the car keys. She finally found them, jumped in the car, hit the garage door opener, and backed their brand new Mercedes into the garage door.

You see, in her haste she neglected to see that the garage door was already open and when she hit the button, the door closed, resulting in a dented car, damaged garage door, and a deflated Ninny. 2653_57801271098_5312612_n

Jonathan laughed as he told about Ninny having to call them in Italy to tell them about the accident.
We looked across the dining room table at Ninny, who was looking straight at Jonathan. She was giggling but he noticed that she was also adjusting her glasses…with her middle finger.

Jonathan said “GOOD GRIEF, I think that Ninny just shot me the bird!”

More giggling from Ninny.

My husband choked on his sweet tea, while my sister sat there with her mouth open. Jonathan started laughing.

I stared at my mother.

Our Ninny? Sweet Ninny? Did she understand what she was doing? Shooting someone the bird? The middle finger wave? The one finger salute?

And doing it so discretely that no one even noticed?

Not even her???

Until now.

The conversation moved on and we continued eating. Every once in a while someone would giggle.

“Does anyone want dessert?” Ninny asked.

“No, I’m good,” I said. “I’m trying not to eat so many sweets.”

Papa looked over at me. “You’re too thin. You don’t need to watch what you eat. You’re not fat like Ninny………..(enter LONG PAUSE HERE)……….and me.”

Dale ducked under the table in fear of flying dishes.

Cathy again sat there with her mouth hanging open.

Jonathan clapped his hands and laughed a huge belly laugh.

I looked over at my mother.

Who was looking at Papa.

And she was adjusting her glasses.

Tom Selleck Called. He Wants His Mustache Back.


I have been lucky enough to call myself a hockey mom for the past 13 years. My son Matthew started playing when he was five years old. He had gone to the ice skating rink with his dad one Saturday afternoon just to skate around the rink. He had played t-ball and done some karate, but when he saw the players coming out of the locker room in their full gear and skates, he decided he wanted to play hockey. Now he had never seen a hockey game before and wasn’t even tall enough on his skates to look over the top of the goal net, but once his mind was made up, that was it. He was going to be a hockey player.

My hockey mom status started with me being (mostly) quiet during his early years. I became the obnoxious hockey mom during his high school years. Matthew made the Varsity high school team while still in middle school so yayyy – I had an extra year of high school yelling.

Hockey isn’t one of those sports where you sit quietly like you’re watching a chess match. Hockey is rough and tough. People are fighting. People are yelling at the coaches and the referees. People are banging on the glass. People are embarrassing themselves.

Wait. I’m talking about me.

That’s right. I’m the loud mouth hockey mom that all of the other parents avoid like I have leprosy. I’m the one decked out in my team’s colors and sometimes I even have a cowbell. I don’t sit down. I’m usually yelling. I sometimes bang on the glass and yell through the seams of the glass JUST TO BE SURE they heard me. And the other parent’s on the team act like they have never seen me before.

“Who is that?” the other team’s parents ask.

“Never seen her before! She looks a little crazy”, our team parents say.

And this all started when Matthew was in first grade. He’s 19 now, so that’s a lot of time to work on my yelling pitch.

Through the years my reputation grew to being a “lipstick-pitbull” (as Sara Palin called hockey moms). The game would begin and I would start yelling. Another parent would lean over and look down the bleachers and me and say “I wondered when you were going to get here.” hockey mom

Yep. I had arrived. I rarely missed a game. I think in the 13 years I missed less than 15 games.

There were few that my fury would not be directed at. What is the coach thinking? Why is he playing that line instead of the other line? That kid he just put on the ice just got his training wheels off his skates. (No, not really. There aren’t training wheels on ice skates.)

The refs were not exempt. As a matter of fact, they received the brunt of my wise cracks.

“WHAT??? How on earth did you miss that penalty??? He was HIT FROM BEHIND you BONEHEAD! My 93 YEAR OLD GRANDMOTHER COULD HAVE SEEN THAT HIT!!!”

Or

“HEY HOPKINS – you must have gone to Collins Hill High School since you’re not making any calls against them. Way to keep your Alma mater winning!!” Incidentally, we were playing Collins Hill that night.

Or even better…

“Hey Linkissy – YOU SUCK at reffing. And by the way – Tom Selleck called from 1986. He wants his humongous mustache back.”

And although I only started yelling at opposing players when my son got to the high school level, they were no less victims. (And don’t worry – what I yelled was G, I mean PG, I mean PG-13 rated.)

There was one guy who always played so dirty – the kind that would take a swing with his stick when the ref wasn’t looking, or checking from behind, or tripping the players with his stick. Penalties that could have caused another player serious injury should have been called and sometimes were. I didn’t like him AT ALL. His hockey pants were so shredded (from what I heard was what he thought was good luck) because he would put his skates on BEFORE his pants, so the blades of his skates would cause tears.

“Hey #81, we can see your pretty lacy panties because your hockey skirt is so ripped.” I would usually get the third finger salute back at me.

That’s right, #81. I just got under your skin. Let’s see how well you play NOW.

And now that my son has graduated and is going to a college that does not have a hockey team, I feel a little sad and melancholy. I miss the smell of the rink after the Zamboni has cut the ice. I miss the chill of the metal bench freezing me to my core.

I miss watching my favorite player and his teammates win two State Championships. Oh how I miss the game.

I ran into another hockey parent at the grocery store recently and I asked how the season was going. I felt a little stab of jealously since her son is still in high school and she is able to continue on with the weekly rituals of being at the rink.

“Yep, the team is playing pretty well” she said sweetly, “but some parents from the other teams were just saying that the games aren’t nearly as entertaining this season without your loud mouth there.”

Oh. My. Gosh.

I’m a legend.

Do You Suffer From Mom Brain?


I’ve always said that our intelligence is highest when we are babies. We probably know all of the answers to the universe but we just can’t say anything or let anyone know what we are thinking.

As we get older, we start losing some of our brain power. It comes to a head with what I call “Mom Brain.” It’s very similar to what my cancer-survivor father calls “Chemo-brain”, but “Mom Brain” isn’t caused by cancer. It’s caused by children.

Mom Brain Sufferer

Mom Brain was diagnosed for me when my son was young, but really went active when he was about ten years old. I was divorced, working crazy hours to make ends meet, taking my son to his hockey practices and weekly games, and trying to have enough energy to cook dinner, (which was apparently very rare since the Domino’s delivery guy knew me by name.)

In other words, I was exhausted. ALL THE TIME.

“Hey Mom, Is this milk still good?”
“It should be. Smell it.”
“It smells like… milk. Should I drink it?”
“It’ll be fine.”
“Is it supposed to be thick?”

In a nutshell, Mom Brain means that you when have a baby, you lose a ton of brain cells along with the afterbirth. Unfortunately more kids could mean a more severe case of Mom Brain. I’m not a doctor so this isn’t medically proven. it’s just my excuse for why I am forgetful and frazzled for 99% of my day.

I’m naturally blonde, which is a strike against me in the first place, so I’m lucky I only gave birth to one child. Any more than that and I’d need to be institutionalized or at least heavily medicated.

The best (or should I say funniest?) case of Mom Brain comes from my dearest friend, who I will not name or else she will probably end our friendship. She is the mother of two beautiful young daughters, both under the age of two. To her horror, her oldest has finally started the terrible two phase, and it seems that she wants to stay there until she’s 10. Her youngest has been screaming with colic since coming out of the birth canal. This has now caused my friend to lose endless hours of sleep and put 147 extra miles each week on her car due to driving around the neighborhood at 3am to help put the baby to sleep.

We were discussing the effects of Mom Brain and she said she was certain she had it. She was telling me about a conversation she had with a girl she ran into at the gym a few months after her daughter was born.

“Hey! You had the baby! Was it a girl or a boy?”
My friend replied, “I had a little girl!”
“Oh that’s wonderful! What did you name her?”
“I named her Anna!” she said. (Long pause here as she thought to herself). “No, actually I didn’t name her Anna. I named her Abby.”

This conversation is absolute proof that Mom Brain exists. I think that maybe webMD should add Mom Brain to their list of diseases so we can self-diagnose ourselves. It kind of makes it a little better to deal with when you know what you have.

I can see it now. The list of symptoms is as follows:
Short term memory loss?
Difficulty performing familiar tasks?
Disorientation?
Increasing problems with planning and managing?
Trouble with language?
Rapid, unpredictable mood swings?
Lack of motivation?
Changes in sleep?

If you answered yes to any of these, then you either have Mom Brain, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Because the symptoms are EXACTLY THE SAME.

And like me, if you too suffer from Mom Brain then I’m not even sure why I wrote this blog entry, because by tomorrow you will probably have forgotten you even read this post.

I Met My Husband Online And You Can Too

Many of you have followed up with that post by asking me about online dating.  Well, here’s my advice and two-cents, which really isn’t much.  After all, it’s only two cents worth so don’t sue me.

If you have read my previous posts, you will know that I was a long time resident of Loserville.  A ten year resident, to be exact and after a friend convinced me to try Match.com where I met the love of my life, I packed up my things and moved out of town for good.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t think that I am calling anyone else a Loser for not being married or in a relationship.  I call myself that simply because I was so ready to meet someone that I easily would have settled for Mr. Close-But-Not-Exactly-Mr-Right, or at some points, even just a human, breathing male.  But I got lucky this time.  Or it was divine intervention.  Either way…

Trust me.  If there’s FourSquare in Loserville, I’m pretty sure I’m still the Mayor.

  1. Use your brain.  When deciding to find a date on line, safety is first and foremost.  There are a lot of wackos out there but on the flip side, there are a lot of good people that are serious about wanting to meet someone.  Use your common sense at all times.  Most on-line sites won’t allow you to post contact information.  You must go through their site to contact a person.  Don’t give out ANY personal information until you are sure you are ready to talk in person.
  2. “How YOU doin?”– Introduce yourself . For me, I sent Dale a “wink”, which is Match.com’s way of saying “Hey you’re a cutie and I am interested.”  So yes, since I sent Dale a wink first, I take full credit  for this relationship.  If they are interested, they will respond.

    Dale’s Match.com profile picture

  3. Cyber stalk him.  After we e-mailed each other back and forth I had enough information to Google him and had already checked out his Facebook page and his LinkedIn profile within the first few days.  I saw pictures of his parents before I even knew their names.  I found his ex-wife’s Facebook and Twitter pages.   I found articles on awards that he had received on software he had written.  My point is, do some simple research.  Thank God Al Gore invented the internet so that we could do cyber-research on someone without them even knowing!! You might want to run a background check on them or even find their divorce information on line – it’s all public information.  Now I didn’t do those things, but I’m pretty sure my Dad did.
  4. Talk to each other.  We talked on the phone like silly teenagers – up until 2-3am talking about the most random stuff.  You can learn a lot about someone just over the phone.  Use your intuition – if something seems off then it just might be.  (I didn’t give him my home number – just my cell number.  I knew my home number could be traced to my home address, and I wasn’t ready to let anyone know where I lived.
  5. Don’t be a victim….meet in public.  We decided to meet at a very public park, where it would be more difficult to kidnap me and make a skin suit out of me if that was his intention.  Let someone know where you are going and give them a link to the page of the person you are meeting.  Sounds a bit overcautious but just think about the skin suit and you won’t feel like you’re overreacting.
  6. Go the 20 questions route – talk about everything.   We talked about everything from politics, religion, kids, reasons why we were divorced, reasons why we turned to on-line dating, what our parents do, etc.
  7. Meet his friends and let him meet yours.  If he doesn’t have friends or “isn’t ready” for you to meet his friends within a few weeks of dating then watch out for that red flag…it’s going to be waving at you.  Dale met six of my closest friends on our SECOND DATE.  I was scheduled to do a triathlon with three of my girlfriends and we all met up for dinner to fill up on carbs.  Poor Dale – he was answering questions right and left, but got the thumbs up from my girlfriends before dessert was even served.  Trust me, you may be blind to any red flags, but your friends will openly tell you if your potential date is a raging psychopath.

    2nd date – meeting my friends

  8. Talk about everything.  Dale and I were really comfortable talking on the phone so when we met, the conversation transitioned very easily from introductions to life stories.  Within the first hour of meeting in person, I knew about a near fatal car wreck he had when he was 17.  There are going to be times when you can’t stay up until 2am on the phone.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a long conversation or text messages, or emails, just get to know each other every single day.
  9. Meet each other’s kids, and let the kids meet each other.  We were lucky that our kids were 15, 10 and 8 when they first met.  The oldest worked at an ice-cream shop at the time so it was a perfect place to bring the younger kids.  Make the kids comfortable when they are meeting potential step-siblings.  Things are changing for them so you need to pay extra attention to their thoughts and feelings.
  10. Meet each other’s families – who better to give you input than your families?  My father is retired military, and a judge….and my maiden name was Gunn…so he’s Judge Gunn.  He is extremely conservative, so when I told him that I met the man of my dreams and we were getting married after only knowing each other for four weeks, my parents were more than a bit skeptical…as were Dale’s parents.  We decided to get everyone together to meet.  After dinner, my father pulled me aside and said “Ok.  I get it.  He’s your perfect match.”  (Then I think he ordered a full background check on my new fiancé. LOL!)
  11. Be realistic.  You may meet the love of your life immediately or it may take a few tries.  Don’t try to make something work if it doesn’t feel right and don’t rush it if you aren’t ready.  Don’t settle!
  12. Finally, Have FUN!  Dating isn’t brain surgery.  It’s about meeting new people and seeing if there is a connection.  Look at it this way – even if there isn’t chemistry, you got out of the house and did something out of your comfort zone…and you may have gotten a free dinner out of the deal!  Score!

He’s Not Homesick But His Mom Is

It’s been a month since my son, Matthew left for college.  I had promised myself that I wouldn’t be a basket case and would not need a prescription for Xanax or several bottles of wine, although I purchased a few just in case.   All summer I knew this day was coming but boy, it sure showed up faster than I expected.

He drove down with his dad to the school the night before he was to move in, and I drove down the next morning with my parents so that they could finally see the campus.  We got to his new dorm early and started moving his things in.  I tried keeping myself busy by making his bed and unpacking his dishes and glasses.  After about an hour, he gently touched my arm and said “Hey mom, I think I can handle it from here.”   I forced myself to smile and suggested we go eat lunch instead.

Moving In The Dorm

After small talk over lunch my parents and I realized it was time to head on out.  I am actually proud of myself not turning into a blubbering mess when we were leaving and not squeezing the life out of him when I gave him the biggest hug of his life.  He sweetly kissed my cheek and said “I’ll be fine mom.  I promise I’ll text you.  I love you.”

I held it together until I got in the car and then I just boo-hooed all the way back to Atlanta.  I cried to the point where I had massive amounts of snot and I was running out of tissues and I was sucking in short, rapid breaths like toddlers do when they have a meltdown.  But I made it.

Matthew & Mom

So day one came and went and I didn’t hear from him.

Day two came along and I finally heard the familiar country song that plays as his ring tone coming from the bottom of my purse.  I dropped everything and dug down into the black abyss that is my purse, searching for my phone.

“Hey Mom!  I have the funniest story to tell you…” and he went on to tell me about his first night on campus.   We talked for a while and then he said he’d call me later in the week.  My heart filled as he hung up with  “love you Mom”.

Day two came along and once again I heard country music coming from inside of my purse.  “Hey Mom!  Can you tell me how to set up my printer?”

Day three…”Hey Mom!  Rush starts next week.  What do you think I should wear?”

And so it goes.  He is now one month into his college life and I have heard from him just about every single day.  Every time I hear the first few notes of that country music song my heart double beats.

And even though I don’t get to see him every day like I used to, in a weird way I am getting more quality time with him with each phone call.  We are actually talking, not just saying hello like we used to when he’d come home and go straight upstairs.  He tells me about his day – new friends he’s made, funny things that have happened, and we just talk in general.  And I’m really happy with our new, mature communication even though I know the phone calls and text messages will slow down as he becomes more and more comfortable with living on his own.

The house is quiet without him and I’m the one who ended up homesick, but I am proud to say that I didn’t need all of those bottles of wine after all.

Home Really Is Where Your Mom Is

Is this really happening?

I found myself standing in my son’s room today. Not in a creepy watching-him-as-he’s-sleeping kind of way. Just standing there, looking around at all of his posters tacked to the walls. I see the “Captain” stripes on his letter jacket gently strewn across the chair. Prom pictures of him and his girlfriend are stapled to the wall by his bed.

But something is different: He is leaving for college.

His Pink Floyd, Dave Matthews & Beatles posters are rolled up neatly with a rubber band keeping them safe. His guitar stand is sitting by the door and his guitar is nestled comfortably in it’s hard case. Two big brown boxes sit by the door filled with his lava lamp, some clothes, his x-box, favorite pillows and his Mac. There are no dirty boxer shorts or t-shirts tossed on the floor. There aren’t any empty Dr. Pepper cans on the bedside table. The TV is off.

And the lump that has been growing in my throat for the past three months is suddenly about to burst. He looks over at me and I realize that I’m about to lose it. I exclaim that I need to go stir the spaghetti sauce that has been simmering on the stove for the past three hours. I race down the stairs, bypassing the kitchen altogether, hoping that I can make it to my bedroom before the tears start to flow. Once the sniffles start, it’s a dead giveaway.

Where did the time go? Wasn’t it just yesterday that he couldn’t wait to ride the bus to school for his first day of kindergarten? Wasn’t it just last week that he found a hair under his armpit –( yes that was meant to be singular)? Didn’t he just grow out of the kid’s department at Abercrombie & Fitch?

Matthew’s First Day of Kindergarten

I watched him grow from a funny and animated little boy into a kind and independent man. He took care of his “mama” after his dad and I divorced, and ultimately became the “man of the house”. Over the next ten years, it was just me and him. I went to every school event – talent shows, teacher conferences, and just about every single hockey game, and of course I was always the loudest mom there. I even took him and his friends on a very memorable camping trip (they didn’t realize that I could hear them talking about Pamela Anderson’s boobs through the paper thin tent walls).

State Hockey Champs 2011

When I finally met my husband, my son carefully “gave me away” at the wedding, knowing that he would eventually be leaving for college and that I had found a wonderful husband to love and share my life with.

Why does this hurt so much? I remember being his exact same age and heading off to college. I was so excited – just as he is. I know what’s in store for him and I am filled with joy knowing he is going to have such an amazing experience. I’ve given him all of the advice about studying hard, and have even given him the speech that “I’m too young to be a grandma.” I know that this is just the beginning of the rest of his life. But as a mom it’s still a bitter pill to swallow.

So as I stand here looking around his room, the lump in my throat comes back and my eyes start to tear up again. I realize that all of his memories from his younger years are either being left behind or packed away in boxes to take with him. I hope that he knows he will take something else with him that’s even more fragile than his beloved Beatle’s Blue Album…

He’ll take his mother’s heart with him.

Don’t Judge A Book By Its Go-Go Boots or Letter Sweater

Today was actually a really great day. Not because anything super-interesting happened. It’s just that my husband and I took MY parents and HIS parents out to lunch. Yes, you read that correctly. My parents. His parents. Us. We went to lunch to-geth-er. Without any special occasion where we HAD to get together. No birthdays. No anniversaries. Just lunch, and we meant to do it.

Most people seem to either really like or simply hate their in-laws. When I was married before, my in-laws and I got along with each other but that was about it. It’s not like my ex-in-laws were mutants or anything. We just didn’t “get” each other. For some reason my FIL called me “Meg” because he once said I looked like Meg Ryan. (Disclaimer: I was married to his son long before Meg had all of that plastic surgery that made her look like a fish, so I have always taken his calling me Meg as a compliment and not an insinuation that I look like Nemo.)

Fast forward several years – I am now married to a great man, Dale, who truly has the most wonderful parents, whose style and personalities growing up could not be on more opposite sides of the spectrum from my parents, who are also pretty wonderful.

For many years, Dale’s father was the President of a record company. His parents met when his mom was working at a record store and his dad walked in. He says he made a cat-call whistle in his mind when he looked at her, and asked her out. They got married during lunch one day after he said “Hey, wanna go get married today?” so they did. He had a big scruffy beard, smoked cigarettes, and wore clothes that were either made of leather or polyester and usually had some kind of fringe hanging off. She wore hot pants and halter tops with white patent leather knee-high go-go boots & big hoop earrings. In other words, they were hippie fabulous.

My parents were equally as fabulous but were considered to be more on the more conservative side. My parents met in college and after getting married in a small Southern Baptist church, my mom became a teacher and my dad joined the military, went on to law school and eventually became a Judge. (That resulted in my very strict upbringing, but that too is another story). My mom, Ninny, wore full skirts and shirts with Peter Pan collars, and my dad was the “Hey, want to wear my letter sweater” kind of guy. You get the picture.

Before getting married, my husband and I got our parents together for a “trial run” before the wedding just to make sure there wouldn’t be any crazy interactions at the reception. You would think that two sets of adults that had such different lifestyles for years would not be able to carry on a normal conversation, but when these four people met it was like they had been friends since birth. They laughed. They told jokes. They liked each other immediately. I was relieved.

Watching them interact together makes me understand that we all have the opportunity to be great friends with people who don’t normally “fit” with us…but ones whose friendships could become our greatest and most treasured gifts.

We went to a fantastic new restaurant today to have our annual Christmas lunch – yes, I know its July, but for various reasons we had not been able to get together until now. The restaurant was called Antebellum in Flowery Branch, GA (yep – that’s a plug because it was THAT DARN GOOD), and the menu was full of wonderful Southern fare that makes your arteries close up a bit and your blood pressure elevate just by reading the menu. We laughed and stuffed ourselves silly on fried green tomatoes, pimento cheeseburgers, sweet potato fries, and Jack Daniels bread pudding. (Seriously – this chef is a GENIUS. Jack Daniels in a dessert? Good grief I love the South). Yes, please. I’ll have another.

The conversation was all over the place: We talked about how viruses can spread on a cruise ship since it’s like a floating petri dish; how to keep those damn squirrels from gnawing holes in your tomatoes; and how my mom unintentionally-on-purpose uses her middle finger to adjust her glasses when she thinks you’re doing something idiotic, silently giving you the bird without you always catching on.

And as I sat back and watched my mother lovingly fight a fork dual with my husband for the last bite of peach dessert with lavender ice-cream, I was reminded of how lucky I am that I have two Moms as well as two Dads that I absolutely adore, and who are equally quirky and unintentionally hilarious. The go-go boots and letter sweaters are long gone and are replaced with bifocals and more comfortable shoes, but the laughter and love remains the same, and I can quite honestly say that my life just can’t get any more blessed than this.

Do you and your in-laws get along? Share your story!

I made the fun photos above using StoryMark – download for free in the iPhone app store and Android Marketplace

And be sure to check out www.antebellumrestaurant.com for more information on the incredible restaurant we visited.

Should I Pack The Kitchen Sink Too?

It’s Saturday morning and I wake up and realize that OMG – I promised the kids we would go to the pool today. I had come up with a gazillion great excuses during the week but today it is warm and sunny…and no rain in sight. Thanks a lot weather.com.

Drats. I’m stuck.

Kids don’t realize that you just don’t hop in the car and head on over to the pool or water park. Those clean towels and drinks and snacks and sunscreen and toys and floats and chairs don’t just magically appear in the car.  Someone had to get everything together and put it there.

Then once you get to your destination, be it a beach, a pool or the lake, someone has to set everything up. There are bodies to be sprayed and noses to be covered with sunscreen, floaties to be blown up, pool toys and sand buckets and goggles to be found and handed out.

Finally, when all is complete then I sit down and open my book to page four…the exact place where I left off the last time we were here.

Ahhh. I can finally relax. I settle down into the lounge chair, close my eyes for a brief moment and feel the sun beating down on me when I suddenly realize that I forgot to put sunscreen on myself.  About that same time I hear the sound of the lifeguard’s shrill whistle and him call out “adult swim!”   Suddenly the kids climb out of the pool and state that they are starving, all the while dripping all over my nice dry towel and book.  Never mind that we just ate lunch moments before we left the house, everyone is acting like they haven’t eaten in a week.

I hand out crackers and cheese and Capri Suns and water and right before they’re finished the lifeguards blow their whistles again and state that adult swim is over. The kids drop everything and start to head out like a stampede of buffalo until I yell for everyone come back and take their trash to the can. They slowly come back each one not wanting to claim the trash that ended up on the ground. The rule is – no one goes in the pool until the trash is gone so it finally disappears.

Ahhhh. Back to relaxation. I start back on page two because I’ve now forgotten what the book was about. I get to page four again when I hear someone crying. Uh oh. I look up from my book.  It’s the dreaded water-up-the-nose scream. I do my best to calm the victim and after a while she slowly heads back to the water and I turn back to my book, about which time I see a tiny drop of water soaking into the tender paper and spreading out like a virus. Then another. Tiny little sprinkles. No big deal. I can handle some sprinkles.  I read another page. Did I just hear thunder or am I just imagining it? I look towards the lifeguard stand and see that the lifeguard hasn’t seemed to notice. I begin to relax a little.  Then I hear it again and this time the life guard does too because his whistle is in his mouth already.  “Thunder. Everybody out of the pool.” I look towards the sky. It looks like Storm from X-Men has been here. The sky is getting darker and darker.   Where did this come from?

The kids stagger up and I distribute towels and flip flops.  I collect goggles, ear plugs, & toys.  I let the air out of the floaties and start to pack up.  Hopefully we can get to the car before the bottom falls out.

When I get home I’ve got to empty the cooler, put away snacks, wash and dry towels and bathing suits, and then I can finally take a shower.

And as I’m soaping up my hair I realize that dang it….I never even got to chapter two.

I used www.storymarklife.com to create the photo above.  Download for free in the iPhone app store or Android Marketplace.

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