Archive for July, 2010
OK, so I’m having big mother-guilt feelings about my recent decision: I am going to a family reunion without my 19-year-old son.
I have been in a bit of a quandary over what to do about this for several weeks now. It’s a family reunion. It also happens to be in a place that’s about a 7-hour drive away. And because of G’s work schedule, it would be impossible for us to arrive at the beautiful Great Lake(side) lodge with gorgeous outdoor swimming pool before about 3 a.m. on Saturday morning.
What was it a dying Spock said in that climactic scene in one of the Star Trek movies? “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” After much consideration, I decided that as sad as it will be to leave G at home — alone — it’s not fair to the rest of us to drive all that way and only get to spend a few hours with people we don’t see very often before turning around and coming back home on Sunday.
He’s OK with the decision, although I’m sure he’d have a great time swimming and enjoying the outdoor activities there. It’s me who’s wishing there was some way I could make it work.
It just seems wrong to go to a family reunion without my whole family. But it’s just another sign of changing dynamics. The kids are older and with that comes the reality of their own schedules for school and work. Those schedules don’t always jive with plans for trips and gatherings and other family activities.
I guess I’ve just got to get used to it. But it might take me a while!
Why does it sometimes seem like getting a family ready to be somewhere at a specific time can be like trying to shove an elephant into a Volkswagen? Especially when you’re trying to pack for any time away — then add in the time necessary to prepare the car for a long drive.
In my family, some of us look at pre-trip prep with the same enthusiasm shown when we have a dentist appointment — no offense to our dentist intended! I’ve never quite understood this, since everyone is usually excited about getting away. It’s just the getting ready to get away part that can be a hassle. A recent trip was a case in point.
“Is everybody ready to go?” I asked the night before departure as my mostly adult children were watching a movie that, in my humble opinion, shouldn’t be watched by anyone over the age of 10. “Is your laundry done? Are you packed? Are you going to be ready to go on time?”
“We’re only going away for the weekend,” one of the boys pointed out, reiterating that it would take about 5 minutes to throw everything needed into a suitcase.
“So go spend 5 minutes and do it now,” I say, “because we need to be ready to leave as soon as everybody is home from work tomorrow.”
They continued to watch the silly movie – avoiding my gaze and the task at hand.
“Don’t make me get mad and start to yell.”
“Mom, we’ll be ready, don’t worry!”
And they were. In fact, they had to wait for me. Guess I was more preoccupied with making sure they were ready than with getting my own affairs in order. Lesson learned!
Is spontaneity a sign of youth? It seems my kids’ plans change on a minute-by-minute basis. First I’m told they’re doing one thing, then something else, then they go back to Plan A, and so on and so on.
I’m sure I was like this when I was their age. But now, I tend to like things planned. Last-minute stuff can sometimes throw me off. Like having last-minute company. This requires a flurry of cleaning and shopping and cooking and it tends to make my stress level rise. But that’s a different story.
Sometimes I wish the kids would just wait to tell me their plans until they’re sure everything is worked out and final. Doing so would spare me from the thought process I go through each time I need to coordinate their plans with my own. Then again, I do appreciate it when they want to keep me in the loop and make sure they’re not handing me any big surprises.
Truth be told, I’m probably envious of the carefree position from which their plans can change on a dime. Maybe I should make a pact with myself to do at least one spontaneous thing each week? Until then, I can live vicariously through the kids — even when their lives seem like a roller coaster ride. Or maybe especially because of it!
I know this blog is called Midlife Mom, but I could also call myself a midlife wife. And today marks another milestone — it’s our 24th wedding anniversary.
We’re still a year shy of the big 25th, but we’ve actually been together since the fall of 1979. So minus the rings and the paperwork, he’s been my significant other for nearly 31 years. Seems impossible — more than half of my life.
Imagine my surprise, then, when a couple of years ago his company sent a letter saying they needed a copy of our marriage license — and birth certificates for each of our children — in order to continue everyone’s health coverage. It didn’t matter that he’d listed me as his wife for more than two decades (we got married after he started working for this company) or that we’d added each child to the insurance coverage as he or she was born over the past 22 years. Even that the insurance had paid for all of their deliveries! Nope. We still had to produce that piece of paper.
So I went on a search. I’m sure it’s probably in a box in the attic, but I couldn’t find it. “This is ridiculous,” I said to my husband. The law would consider us married at this point, even if I can’t find the certificate, I said. But being less than thrilled at the thought of going down in the company record books as his “common law” wife, I put in a formal request for a copy of the license from the courthouse in the county where we were married.
Imagine my second surprise when it came back — with the wrong date! I’m sure it’s just a typo — a 5 instead of a 9. Are you sure we haven’t been thinking our anniversary was on the wrong date all these years, my husband asked? Of course not, I said, producing a copy of our wedding invitation (which I could find), which clearly had my parents requesting the honor of everyone’s presence on July 19, 1986.
It doesn’t matter, I thought, giving him the copy with the wrong date to take to work as proof of our legal union. It is, after all, just a piece of paper.
Of course, that piece of paper reflects our commitment to one another. But it doesn’t make our marriage. The past 24 years have made our marriage — both good and bad. It’s not always easy, but when you make a commitment, you do your best to make it work. And I think we’ve been successful. We have three great kids and a good life. Sure, there are always pieces here and there that could be better, but when you look at the big picture, it’s a good one, I think. Filled with beautiful colors and lots of wonderful memories.
So here’s to my husband, and our family. All have enriched my life in more ways than I could ever have imagined!
What a change the summer has brought! During this past school year my house was quiet (for the most part, anyway). With two away at college, we went from a household of five down to one of just three — my husband, myself and our teenage daughter.
But as the school year ended and the boys came home, summer has brought a flurry of activity. From visiting family members to visiting friends and girlfriends, our sleep sofa in the guest room is definitely earning its keep. I’m happy to have the visitors and hope I’ve relaxed a bit, not worrying as much about whether everything is perfectly scrubbed and clean. Our guests might feel otherwise, but somehow I don’t think many of the kids’ friends are taking notes about whether they see any dust on the hardwood floor or whether the kitchen counter is clean and spotless or whether there are shoes or flip-flops left by the front door.
The activity is nice, actually. Last night we had two extra faces at the dinner table. One of the boys’ good friends who moved away to Pennsylvania a few years ago is visiting this weekend. Another visitor is expected next weekend. I’m happy that our kids are nurturing and maintaining good friendships and hope it’s a habit they’ll keep for life, along with their friends!
And when the house quiets down again at the end of August, I can think of all our summer memories and smile!
How do you learn to be a good in-law? I guess I should start by trying to be like my own mother-in-law, who I love dearly.
Not that being a mother-in-law is something I’ll be doing anytime soon, since none of my children are old enough to be seriously thinking about walking down the aisle. But both of my boys have girlfriends who have visited the house and despite my best attempts to make each feel welcome, apparently one of them did not.
So I’ve made a promise to myself that if she returns, I will re-double my efforts to be warm and welcoming. I’ll do my best to get home from work early and make nice sit-down family dinners, since the last time she visited was after my oldest’s college graduation and we ate catered party leftovers for pretty much the entire week she was here. After all, we paid a fortune for the food and I didn’t want it to go to waste!
But I guess I wasn’t thinking from the perspective of a teenager who is close to her family and was far from home. I guess we can be a bit intimidating — even when we don’t mean to be.
Maybe subconsciously I gave off bad vibes because my boys are my boys and I don’t want to share them. I hope that’s not the case because really, I don’t feel that way. In fact, part of me is looking forward to the day when they come to visit with my grandchildren… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here!
First, apparently, I’ll need to learn to be a good in-law.