Facets of Lucy

Looking at the various side of a life


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Letting Go

I am working on letting go, in particular, letting go of my recent college graduate.  I’ve spent the better part of 30 years holding him and his siblings tight, taking care of them, guarding them.

Before they were born, I ate right, didn’t drink, took vitamins and anything else that might help ensure they were born healthy.

Once home, I gated the stairs, put safety plugs in electrical outlets, locks on kitchen cabinet and padded sharp corners.  I read to them from the moment they were home because I was told it would be beneficial.  We never missed a well-baby check-up, dealt with illnesses as they came up and watched to make sure they followed the approved developmental schedule.

All through preschool and later, elementary and middle school, I encouraged, supported, and expected learning.  I wouldn’t say I hovered, but I definitely mothered.  Hugs were given, science fair boards were purchased and attention was paid to all the important stuff in between.

Time whips by (to that first-time mother exhausted by her two year old:  Its really true. They grow so fast!). They learn to drive and you have to let them go places without you.  Having watched and mourned with families who lost a teen in a car accident, this can be terrifying.  How many of us would follow behind, if they could, just to ensure their safety.  And when  you’re not worried about their physical safety, their hearts are also at great risk as they explore their romantic life and sexuality.

College provides an opportunity for your child to learn independence with a safety net.  They learn to live in an apartment but you’re paying the rent; that kind of thing.  They move into their twenties and they do mature.  Then before you know it, they’ve graduated.

Stock Graduate

It really is time to let go at that point.  Sure there’s so much we can tell them to make their transition easier.   But they are adults and can manage their way through society in the same bumpy manner that we did.  Some of us, me included, find it very hard to step back sometimes.  I know my husband has had the same problem with our latest to leave the nest.  He has so much to share and, in a not-disrespectfully way, my son says, “I’ve got it, Dad.” It’s hard not to take it personally but we’ve got to understand that there’s pride in coping with his new town, his new job and his new life.

My father recently said to me, “Will you take the advice of an 85 year old man?”  I said that I offered a lot of advice from my never-you-mind-how-many years and no one was interested so I’d surely accept his.   He said, “Step back.  Let him be.  It’ll work out.”  Easier said than done but I’m trying.

I wonder, in this graduation season, how many other families are feeling the tension between loving and protecting at a time when the protection is far less needed or wanted.  In letting go, don’t we show we did a good job, and doesn’t it  allow the relationship to mature? After all, we had to quit holding their fingers so they could walk alone and we had to take our hands off the bicycle to see if they could balance by themselves.  And we celebrated each milestone. This letting go is just one more milestone to celebrate.  Have you faced this in your family yet?  How did you handle your child’s need for independence? Share what worked for you.

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I Had a Mother Who Read to Me

” You better mind your parents, and your teachers fond and dear,
And cherish those who love you,and dry the orphan’s tear,
And help the poor and needy ones who cluster all about,
Or the Gobbl-ins will get you
If you
Don’t
Watch
Out!”

– excerpt from Little Orphan Annie by James Whitcomb Riley

When I was expecting my first child, I read that it was important to read to your children from the very start.  And read aloud I did, right from the start, as recommended.  My mother-in-law just about had a heart attack when she walked in on me reading aloud to my infant from some bodice-ripping romance novel I had around the house!  But eventually we graduated to board books, like Pat the Bunny, filled with rhymes and textures and Goodnight Moon with the rhythms and rituals of bedtime.  When the next child joined the family, we still read together during the day but each had their own books read to them at bedtime.

Reading aloud is such an uplifting and fun activity.  Have you ever read the little Golden Book, The Monster at the End of this Book featuring Grover from Sesame Street?  I worked hard to sound as much like Grover as possible as he walked with us through the book, trying to stop us from getting to the scary monster at the end of this book (can you guess who it is?).  There are so many fun books to read aloud.  We loved Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne featuring such fun poetry lines as

” Have you been a good girl? Have you been a good girl?
Its always the end of the loveliest day,”
Have you been a good girl?
I went to the zoo and they waited to say:
Have you been a good girl?
Well, why would I want to be bad at the zoo?
And should I be likely to see if I had?
So that’s why its funny of Mummy and Dad,
This asking and asking in case I was bad…Well, have you been a good girl, Jane?”

Rhyme and humor certainly get children’s attention.  But some books have lines and morals that stay with you for life.  My son called home from college one afternoon.  A classmate in one of his engineering classes had told the professor and class about what a bad day he had.  The professor replied, “Some days are like that”, to which my son added, “Even in Australia!”.  To my son’s amazement, no one else in the class got it.  Did you?  If not, its not too late to read Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day.  But hurry!  Other must-reads for lines and morals include American folk tales, featuring such gems as “Don’t throw me in that briar patch”, which is actually a sly way to convince someone to do the very thing you want them to do.

Reading books aloud is a great way to teach your children to read.  As they hear stories that they enjoy repeated over time, they begin to decode and sound out some of the simple words.  When my older child learned how to read, her younger. very competitive brother memorized a simple book.  Every time big sister demonstrated or practiced her developing reading skills, he pulled that book off the shelf and performed. Reading aloud became such a comfort ritual in our house that when we faced a sudden loss of a loved one, the children (teens to young adults by then) gathered together with me while we read familiar childhood tales.

If you’ve also read to your family, share your story and favorite reads.  If you haven’t, give it a try!

“You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be—
I had a mother who read to me.”

(Strickland W. Gillilan, The Reading Mother.)


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Sharing a New Year Tradition

Are you interested in a fun way to start the New Year?

A number of years ago, our family started a tradition of getting together for a bowl of New Year’s Day Soup, basically a vegetable soup containing black-eyed peas which are supposed to bring good luck in the new year.  While we are together, we enjoy an activity that let’s us look back at the year just ended and look forward to what the new year will bring.  We read and write up annual predictions.

There are no rules for the predictions.  There can be as many or as few as each person wants.  Subjects vary, too, although this year, everyone had predicted the presidential election outcome.  But there are engagements, new jobs, World Series winners, pregnancy and travel predicted as well.   I bring out the predictions from where I’ve stored them for a year.  Then, we go around the table reading our prior year predictions and laughing and enjoying them, whether right or wrong.  It was interesting to observe that, last year, everyone predicted an Obama reelection regardless of our political leanings.  We laughed to see that a majority had predicted an engagement for a family member which did not occur. On and on, it went as we went around the table reading our 2012 predictions.  Although there’s no prize, there is an acknowledgement for whoever gets the most of their predictions right.

After the reading, its time to make the new year’s predictions. Once we’ve written all our predictions down, we fold the sheet of paper and put it in an envelope, which we each seal.  Then, each of us signs their name across the seal of the envelope to guarantee they remain undisturbed until the next January. There is a red ribbon which is tied around the bunch, and they go in the china cabinet and there they wait.  When we started this tradition, it was just us and our 4 children.  As they’ve married, we’ve added the new spouses to the circle.  Last year, the grandparents were here and they very happily returned today to hear how they’d done and issue their prognostications for 2013,  This year, we were joined by a friend of my son, recently returned from overseas.  I’m predicting we’ll see him again next year.

If this sounds fun to you, start the tradition yourself.  It’s not too late.


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Harvey’s Wisdom

“My 19 year old grandson is coming to visit”, he told me.  I had become very fond of this 92 year old man I’ll call Harvey.  He’s something special, so, since I have a daughter the same age as his grandson, I teased him that maybe they should meet.

“He’s bad news”, Harvey surprised me by saying.  “His mother is hoping I can straighten him out while he’s here”.  He grimaced and said, “My grandson told me that he plans to drive his Camaro here.”. Shaking his head, Harvey wryly shook his head, explaining his doubts that the car could make it to the end of the block.

“My grandson says he’s made some mistakes.  That’s all well and good; we all do.  But he makes the same mistakes over and over; that’s his problem. ‘But Granddad’, the boy replied after I told him that, ‘I’ve had a lot of bad breaks’”.   Harvey paused and explained that his son, his grandson’s father had  passed away a few years before.  That was one of the items on his “bad break” list.

“Do me a favor”, Harvey told his grandson.  “Before you come here, make me a written list of all your bad breaks.  I’m old and forgetful and I’ll do better with a written list.”  His grandson agreed to do so. “Next”, Granddad said, “Rip up the list and don’t bring it up again.  That’s yesterday and its time now to plan for tomorrow.”

Photo Not Available for Reproduction

“What will he do here?  Will he go to college?”  Conversation took a slight detour here while we discussed someone else who had been forced to join the military because the family hoped it would straighten him out.  Harvey, a career military man, said that some branches had quit accepting troubled kids and kids without a high school degree.

“No”, Harvey said, “The boy needs to find a job”.  Again, shaking his head, he said that he had suggested that the first thing the boy ought to do would be to apply to a local grocery store or superstore for a job. But, the grandfather had snorted, “The boy doesn’t want a job, he wants a ‘position’”. “He said he’s too smart for a job like that.  I clapped my hands together and said, ‘Son, that’s perfect!’”.

“If you are as smart as you say you are, you will stand out among all the dumb people you say work at these places.  Your manager will notice you fast and you won’t be long working at the starter position. But first, you need to get the job.  I worked in personnel for a long time in the military, and I’m telling you, you have nothing to offer an employer, outside of how “smart” you are. Right now, you have no skills, no special knowledge to offer. There are a lot of people like you out there looking for a job that are willing to work hard for their paycheck.”

It was obvious to me that the family holds Granddad in high regard to send a 19-year-old to him to help him get on the right path.

“How long do you think he’ll stay here?”, I asked Harvey, “Do you think he’ll revolt with your tough stance?”

“I don’t know”, he said sadly, “They ruined him”.  “We have a family business, and he got his share when his father died.  He has money from that and needs no paycheck to get by.  I was surprised and said that I thought it was more common to hold shares like that until the minor reached majority or even older.  He said that was more common and would have been better but he had no control over the way this was handled.  “You know”, he told me; “Rockefeller believed that leaving money to children was the surest way to ruin them.  But we’ll see”.


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It’s Mom Time!

I named this blog Facets of Lucy because we all have many sides, and I wanted to be flexible in using mine.  Only once have I done the mother-lecture thing (see Cash in Current Times ) .  But being a mother of four is an important part of who I am, even now that they are basically grown.  So its only fair that now and then, I share some of my maternal wisdom.

Maternal Wisdom of the Day:  Do what you dread, first.

This bit of advice goes against all natural instincts.  In college, it could be choosing between getting your homework done or going to the local pub with friends. I find for many of us, anything that requires us to put ourselves on the line is dreaded, like looking for a job, asking someone for a date ore even pushing the “enter” button sending that first blog post to cyberspace. At the office,  it could be a new task you aren’t sure how to start;    At home, it could be paying the bills or doing laundry . Like so many, I’ve had the desire to put off something which isn’t fun to do.  But I noticed something along the way – what you dread doing doesn’t go away.  The homework, the bills, the new assignment at work, they all will still need to be done no matter what else you choose to do first.  And that dread or guilt you feel knowing that its waiting for you can weigh you down and strip you of some of the satisfaction you’d otherwise have with whatever you do instead.

That’s why I tell my kids:  Do what you dread, first.  Dread can freeze you in place.  Get it out of the way.  It usually takes less time than you’d expect and the relief to be able to “check the block” is immense.  All the other activities you do after can be enjoyed freely without that heavy weight of “should have”.  Get it done, then have some fun!

Family Photo – Facets of Lucy

 


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Cash in Current Times

Empty Wallet
I risk, in this post, of coming across as really old-fashioned.  But for many people up and down the east coast of the U.S. this weekend, cash became an issue when it hadn’t been before.

I have four “children”; actually, all young adults.  I’ve observed that neither they, nor their spouses or friends carry cash.  They rely on their debit cards for nearly every purchase.  Not even a trip to Starbucks is paid for with cash.  Explanations range from that when they have cash, they just spend it to the fact that its a pain to run to the bank or an ATM.  I believe we’re on the edge of the age of virtual money.  Already, paychecks are automatically deposited, many bills are set up to be automatically paid.  So your income and expenses need not bother you in any way at all.  Add in the debit card and credit card and cash is unnecessary.

Until events like this weekend.  An unusually hot summer period brought in massive thunderstorms described by the press as a “land hurricane’ took power away from millions of residents  and the outage might last for some for up to a week.  Lack of electricity has closed pools (electricity lets the pumps work), gas stations (along the same lines of explanation, restaurants and other retail establishments because cash registers and credit payment machines can’t work.  Many that didn’t close went CASH ONLY.  This posed a big problem for people who never carry cash.

I want to use this episode to point out to those who make the choice not to carry cash to at least have the security of some nestled away in your home in the case of any other emergency that might stop the regular process of economic affairs.  Isn’t it better to have a little you can put your hands on in this type of situation than to be found without in a time of need?

If you want, consider this a mother’s “nag” … with my compliments.