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Yes, I am a Mother

I was asked one question several times while I was traveling over the Mother’s Day weekend to see my best friend’s wedding – Are you a mother? I instinctively said no I don’t. I don’t have any children so this seemed like the most honest answer. Most smiled and wished me a happy Mother’s Day anyway.   Then one person asked me if I was a mother, and I said no, but I do have a sister and nephew who are living with me. She smiled and said, “Then make no mistake, you ARE a mother.”

And upon further consideration, I suppose I am. After all, sometimes being a mother has nothing to do with biology.  I am typing this after every one has gone to bed, after dinner has been cooked and cleaned, everyone has settled in for the night. Kitchen is cleaned, lunches are ready for the morning.

I make sure this house is a home, full of love and comfort, Make sure those I love have what they need, and most of what they want. I work hard, every day, to make sure they know they are loved and wanted.  I support them, all of them, in my home and their own households when they are not here. I plan the grocery list, check the locks at night, turn on the alarm, make sure the household is running smooth.

There are chores that are planned, who vacuums, cooks cleans and such. The snack plates and glasses are gathered from their rooms. There isn’t a time during the day that I do not think about them. They come before what I need most of the time. There are conversations about how their day went; hopes, dreams, thoughts and more. I brought up hot tea and cold beverages before setting in myself to write. This is a spring board, for them, I know.

Dating? Personal life? My family is my personal life. Between all the work that I am doing, all the writing, both contract and freelance, making sure my family is comfortable and has everything they need, I don’t have time to worry about men. And men like to come first. My family comes first, so that does not bode well for relationships. If a man wants to be with me, he will have to come after my family. And he will have to understand that my time is limited, valuable and make the most of it. He will have to keep up with me and the busy schedule that is my life at this time.

I give everything I can, all that I am, to my family, my writing and my home. I love hard, work hard and play hard.  There is fatigue when my head hits the pillow. There is pressure every day to do more, be better, than the day before, for them.

Sound like a mother? Yes, indeed I am. And I love it and am so blessed beyond words to have my home be their home too.

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In Between

If you obey all of the rules, you miss all of the fun.– Katharine Hepburn

In between the blogs, the words typed and thoughts discovered, have been many events, smiles, laughter, fingernail painting, hopes, dreams, wishes and secrets. Indeed, life has been full, overflowing even. Jobs and contracts, handwritten notes and typed reports. I have flown, walked, driven, screamed, caught flowers, played jokes, broken rules, taken risks and won poker games. I have even felt a young man’s teeth on my thigh, as he slid a garter on my leg, then took the garter off, then put the garter back on, all with his teeth, at  my best friends wedding, all caught on tape.

There has been moving out, moving in and moving on. Many dinners, countless dirty dishes, some desserts and more glasses of wine. Family, friends, new chances, things gained, moments lost, seconds taken and actions pondered. I have cried in joy, frustration, fear and from missing someone. From missing you and your voice, and your touch.

The garage is full, closet packed, trunk empty, attic organized, grill bought, freezer stacked and shelves lovingly cleared. I have seen my best and longest friends married, seen one loose a friend, one get divorced. A close friend get a promotion, one loose a job, one pack to move and start over and one going back home.

Oh yes, in between the writing, there has been so much, of everything, to tide me over. And so many times, I feel as if I am about to pop if I don’t run and write it all down, saving, recording each moment, expressing each detail. But  that would require my absence in the moment, and I am too busy living, soaking it all in. All the while, my heart is full, Peace is at  my door and happiness through the clouds calls my name. And I answer.

So more to come, so much more, in between living life.

All in the Family

My house has been taken over by my family. And cats.  It’s like a whirlwind/tornado when my family comes to visit. It’s not like in the movies, where you open the doors and there are calm, sweet hugs and kisses. There are hugs and kisses yes, but then there is the unloading. The unloading of the van is like a race, it must be fun fast and furious, before anyone sits down or catches up. While this may not seem like anything substantial, it is quite the event because my parents pack for just in case – of a nuclear war, of a famine, of a mass communication outage or power failure.

There will be many coolers worth of food (they feel bad for making me cook and provide sustenance, so they bring a lot of their own). Meats, breads, cheeses, wine, filtered water, fruits, vegetables and a whole smorgasbord of home made, home cooked yummy goodness. Even fresh canned treasures from their own garden. There is more food than can possibly be imagined, and my mother immediately starts organize the treasure on the cupboard, refrigerator and freezer with such precision, talent and concentration, one can only stand back in awe and watch the master at work.

Next will be all of Dad’s electronics. My father is a professional engineer, and truly believes that having every gadget known to man-kind is a must. And so he travels with the Garmin, his laptop and several things I have no clue as to their purpose, but they have a lot of chords. And parts. And little lights. And sometimes they make noise. I try not to go near where ever his treasure of electronics are, as I am a clumsy disaster waiting to happen, especially after a few glasses of wine.

All the bedding is next. Blankets, sheets and more pillows than anyone should be legally allowed to own. There is no shortage of pillows at my house, however, they like their own and want to make sure they are comfortable sleeping. Don’t you hate it when you sleep at someone else’s house, and it’s not YOUR pillow? And you can’t get comfortable. And it smells different. And then you wake up the next day with a sore neck? Smart people travel with their own pillows.

My wonderful parents also always bring lots of things for me . And the house, or garden, the laundry, the garage, or just because you might find a way to use it, stuff. It’s like Christmas, but better because you didn’t have to spend any money on gifts. Or wondering what to get people who already have everything. (Monogrammed golf shirt? Dad doesn’t play golf. That new fangled, gotta have it, only available for a limited time, can’t find in stores, so call now and get free steak knives too, kitchen gadget? Mom already has it.  A nose hair trimmer? Now, that’s just tacky).

After all of this, two very small, almost dainty, overnight bags are unloaded, containing toiletries on clothes. NO matter how long they are gone, a weekend or a month, somehow everything they will use, wear or need fits in those little bags. I swear they have no bottom, like going to see David Copperfield and he pulls a 10 foot pole out of a two-inch hat? Yes, just like that. It really is amazing to see everything they fit into those bags.

After everything is unloaded, organized and put in the proper place, everyone sits down and starts to catch up. Coffee is poured (unless it’s after 5, then it’s wine). There is laughter and smiles, teasing and oh so much love. we talk, tell of our latest adventures, whether in the garden or across the world and have good family time. Yes, it’s good to have family come visit.

Thine Actions and Words to be True

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

This famous quote when Polonius speaks to his son Laertes in Shakespeare’s Hamlet is one of my all time favorites.  I have long grown up with the belief that actions speak louder than words. That a man is only as good as his word, so if his word is no good, than by default, neither is he. But this quote takes it many steps further and to me at least, is one of my personal creeds by which to live.

Some people think this quote means to be selfish and do as you wish as long as you get yours. I see it very differently. To first glean the true meaning of the phrase, you must first look at it’s origin. Hamlet’s Polonius also gave us the famous quote about “Never a borrower or lender be” and that indeed was part of the original meaning of being true to yourself as well. Polonius is instructing his son to take care of himself by being careful with his actions and words. To be an honest man true to his word but also be aware of what actions are in his best interest. Do not engage in activities which are disadvantageous or disingenuous.

This quote seems to mean that you must look after and take care of yourself if you want to be able to take care of anyone else.

Yes, Shakespeare was quite wise when picking out themes, as taking care of ones self and being honest are still two very relevant topics in this day and age.

When you are honest with yourself and follow what you know to be right, then you will lead an honest and authentic life. People who lie and cheat to get what they want from others are a dime a dozen. There is nothing special about them at all. But someone who follows a sense of integrity, even when it’s not popular? Even when it’s hard? That is someone special, that is someone who you want to have in your life.

Those people who lie and cheat, they know what they do is wrong. Why do they do it? Because they are not strong enough to do the right thing, to be true to themselves, and thus be not be false to others. Because if they haven’t the strength to look themselves in the mirror and be honest, how could they be honest with anyone else? They say charity begins at home, well so does honesty. And trust me, if they can’t even be true to themselves, you don’t want them. Run, run like the wind.

I am no saint. Let’s face it, we had to be judged by what we did in our 20’s, most of us wouldn’t leave the house. We have all done stupid things, made errors in judgment. I have done things for which I am ashamed. But in everything I have done, both good and bad, I have always been honest with myself. And I have never done anything just to be malicious. I have always been able to my head high, even when it was not easy, even when others were hurt and angry.

But if you live your life authentically, if you are true to yourself, then you will always be able to hold your head high. And you will always have respect. If you are selfish and you lie and hurt people? You will lose respect because word will get around. Just ask my last ex boyfriend, who, after he lied and cheated on this girl, found out just how much respect he would loose when his friends and family found out what he had done.

Take care with your actions and your words. Live a life of which you can be proud. And to thine own self be true. And besides, you never know just who might be driving the Karma bus…

What Real Means

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?””Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.”Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”  “Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” – The Velveteen Rabbit

“What is real?” asked the Rabbit.  One of my favorite questions of one of my favorite stories.  And a very good question.  In this day and age of bigger is better, plastic rules and superficial is best…does Real exist?  Yes, At least I think so. To me to be real means our experiences have made us deep enough people to understand what is truly important in life.

The problem, I think, is that by the time we are real, we have lived, been loved, unloved, hurt and roughed up to the point where we are a bit shabby.  We’re not new and shiny any more.  Sometimes we feel that we have lost our worth – after all, how could anyone love a worn out little rabbit? And someone may have to look past all the roughness to see what Real really means.

I think it means that you have a real heart, you have been through enough to know, through experience, what is right, wrong and in between.  Living through those experiences teaches us compassion, empathy, how to love and so much more.  It makes us a better, deeper person.

What about the shabby parts?  Well, I guess that depends on your definition of shabby.  To me it’s nothing on the outside.  It’s a heart that is so closed it can no longer let love and light in.  Maybe we all get a little shabby…but just like the Skin Horse said, you can only be ugly to those who do not understand.

So, the key is to find someone who can see through our shabbyness, our weary-ness to see the beauty of our Realness.  Someone that can loves us anyway.  But being shabby and a little worn is ok. I have often said that it is our scars and flaws that make us our most human, most beautiful…and most Real.

The Friendhsip Contract

I Will hate the same people you hate, and re-like them as you do.

Unless it is some jerky boyfriend. Then I reserve the right to not like him, but pretend to like him for your sake. And I will secretly hope a piano falls on his head. I also reserve the right to make faces behind him when you are talking to him, or “accidently” kick him under the table.

I will always be honest about how you look.

I will never let you leave the house for work/date/social event if you do not look great. I will not ever be mean about it, but I will make sure you never leave the house in anything that makes you look fat. I will also always tell you if you have something stuck in your teeth or have something hanging out of your nose. I will also tell you if you have “that leak” around your time of the month.

I will always know your cycle

and have appropriate feminine products at my house and in my purse so you are never stranded without. I do reserve the right to make fun of you for still using maxi pads.

I will keep your secrets

and only joke about them when no one is around…or when no one will get the reference.

I will have your favorite snacks at my house

If there is a break up involved I will haul ass to the store to make sure I have your favorite ice cream, chocolate snacks and alcoholic beverage beverages.

Help clean your house when it is dirty.

When you are going through a rough time, are super busy. I will come and help clean your house. I will also help set up then clean up after parties.  I will also co-chair all of your parties/events with you. And if your house is not available for your events, my house will be open.

But I can always ditch you

if there is a chance for incredible, hot, amazing sex. Especially if it is with that hot guy that I have had a crush on forever. But I must make it up to you by telling him you are my best friend, that I love you dearly and I must give you appropriate details the next day.

I will help you pack and Move.

This is a big part of the friendship contract. Anytime you move, no matter how many times, I will be there to help pack and move it. I will help you move out of the boyfriends, out of the bad apartment with bugs, out of the bad roommate situation. I will hate it, especially if you have not packed much before I get there, but I will be there.

Buy candy that your kids sell for school.

And wrapping paper, and jewelry, and popcorn and…whatever. All of it, until I have a closet of useless stuff that your kids of sold. I will also take care of your kids if you die.

Drink with you.

I promise to be there with wine, beer or whatever adult beverage of your choice for whatever occasion is needed. I will also pay for your drinks and or dinner if you are broke.

I will watch your pets while you are on vacation,

No matter how strange, big, weird or unfriendly they are. I will come over and feed your dog, change your cats litter box, talk to your snake, make sure your hamster, goldfish, iguana, bird are all OK. But I can make fun of you for having such weird pets.

We borrow each others clothes.

All the time. And if I really like a sweater of yours, I can always keep it in my closet and you can come and visit it on occasion. And even though we still call it your sweater, you will understand that is really is mine now.

Hold you hair back when you get sick,

And put a cold rag on your forehead and help.you in and out of bed. Whether it’s the flu or a bad hang over, I will be there.

Listen to your problems, over and over and over.

And over. But I will give you a kick in the pants when you need it. You have the right to be shitty for a certain period of time. But beyond that, I will tell you when you need to get it together.

I will defend you to anyone who does not like you.

And I will refuse to like them. Ever.

Tell you to keep your Susie-Stalker crazy self in a box.

It’s Ok to be Susie-Stalker with your best friends, but not to that hot guy. Keep it in a box and stay in your lane.

Facebook stalk the guys you like with you.

And I will agree that they look hot and the things they “Like” are compatible with yours.

Check on your boyfriend after a fight for you.

When you have a bad fight and you want to check and make sure he is either at his house, his guy hang out bar, or the office, I will drive by his stomping ground and report back to you.

Pick you up at any time of the day or night

When you are too drunk to make it home, when you are sick, when your car dies in the middle of nowhere.

Not get mad at you for taking me for granted.

If you don’t say thank you, don’t call me back or disappear because you fell in love, I promise to pick things up right where they left off when you resurface. It would be nice if you did send a text or email every now and then just to touch base.

I will listen to you lament about your latest crush and/or broken heart.

I will help you plan drunk revenge schemes and promise to hide the bodies in the trunk until we bury them. In the words of the Dixie Chicks, Earl Had to Die.

To never let you leave with that hot guy, no matter how hot he is, in a bar.

I will hunt you down and take you from his car if I have to to make sure you do not end up a headline on the news. We girls have to watch out for each other.

Easter and Chainsaws

Easter with the family is always wonderful and this year was no different. We drove to the family compound this year. The weather was wonderful and it was a great break from the rainy cold we had been having prior tot he holiday in Atlanta.   It was the perfect weather for yard work, and our parents took full advantage that their young healthy children would be there for the weekend.

Spring in southern Georgia is a very special thing, so having to be outside was not a problem at all. I helped Dad with the yard work. We started off by trimming Mom’s many fruit trees. Dad got the little, what I call mini-chain saw. We worked well together, he chainsawing the limbs as i would hold and catch them as they fell (they were small trees). I would put the limbs in the back of the truck to haul off to the burn pile later. Those who have grown up in the south or in the country are very familiar with this practice.

Soon the limbs from all the trees were taller than the cab of the little work truck. This meant it was time for this 40 year old girl to revert back to childhood. This meant fun! I climbed into the back of the truck and started walking, even jumping on the large pile of limbs. I felt like I could shout “I’m the king of the castle and you’re the dirty rascal!”  You can take the girl out of the country…

Next it was time to cut down a few small dead fruit trees (something that doesn’t happen very often around my mother because she has more than a green thumb). I begged, begged, begged to finally be allowed to use the chain saw. After all, I am forty. My father agreed and we had a great father daughter moment as he showed me how to use it. He was proud of his little girl. A chain saw wielding red-headed klutz. Oh yes. Be afraid, be very afraid. Especially any ex boyfriends or anyone who eve cut me off in traffic (insert evil laugh here).

But before I could cut the trunks of the trees, all the grass and such needed to be cleared put. Dad offered me some gloves, but they would have just gotten in the way. Having my hands in the dirt makes me feel closer to God, as I feel the dirt on my hands and smell the earth. It’s a lot harder than it looks! But I felt triumphant the stump I was chainsawing became nothing more than a small piece of wood that could be pulled up later.

After the hard work with the chainsaw was done, it was time to sit and relax. By this time the weather had changed, and the clouds were rolling in. There was just enough time to pour a glass of wine and sit out on the back porch. Soon you could hear it; the sound of the rain hitting the lake.  The scent of the rain was heavy on the breeze, and finally when the sight of the rain caught up with the scent and sound, it was quite a site. Lighting lit up the sky, and the rain came down in heavy sheets that flooded the yard and made waves on the water. It was beautiful.

And that is the way it is in life – Sometimes a little rain must fall, even after a lot of hard work. But when the storm is over, everything is clean and clear, ripe and green. And if we look, we can see God’s hand in the changes that the storm creates. For change is often not easy, and the waves are far reaching. But every storm runs out of rain. So until then grab a seat and a glass of wine. And know, in your heart of hearts, that it will be ok.

This year Easter was a wonderful blessing. There was a lot of hard work, lot’s of love, laughter and family. Yes, life could not get much better (well, I could win the lottery, or George Clooney could fall madly in love with me…but I digress). Life is good and I am happy.