Family and Motherhood

MOTHER KNOWS BEST

Seven months ago, I got into a severe car accident that seemed like it should have ended my life, but I walked out with merely a scratch from the glass on my left index finger. I couldn’t believe that it happened, much less that I was barely harmed. I spent six hours in the hospital crying and cracking sadistic jokes to myself in a continuous cycle until I finally got to leave at 2 A.M. That night, I realized just how short and precious life is. I was 21, worked full-time at a job I hated, and lived in a town I had no interest in. My boyfriend lived over 600 miles away and I still hadn’t finished my Bachelor’s degree. If I had died that afternoon, I would have never had the opportunity to really live, achieve my goals, or live my dreams. My boyfriend was coming to visit the next day, ironi...

DISCOVER YOURSELF THROUGH OTHERS

I’m Scottish, German, English, a little bit Irish, and probably a mix of some other things as well.  At some point the side conversation at the gala or event is brought to heritage. Small talk is a universal attempt to connect to strangers. As an American we tend to bring up our heritage, which is both fascinating and identifies a point to connect to others in this melting pot of a country. I’d argue that one shouldn’t just talk about the heritage of one’s past, but discover it instead. I’ve had this heritage conversation with hundreds of people and most of the time they casually mention a Polish grandmother, or how they think they are Irish because some cousin has red hair, or occasionally they pull the cool card of being distantly related to some former president. Most of the stories of ...

GRANDMA’S RULES

It’s 12:00 noon and I’m still here in the kitchen. I estimate I’ve been sitting at this wooden table for about 2 hours. My pencil-thin thighs are stuck to the vinyl, floral cushions that accompany each dinner chair and the whimsical sounds of a Wheel of Fortune re-run echo from the living room into the kitchen, which now feels like a jail cell. I unleash my thighs from their sticky state and scoot my butt to the end of my chair to peer into the living room, careful not to let my grandma see. She’s nose-deep in a crossword puzzle and drinking her third cup of coffee, ensuring her breath to smell of stale coffee beans all day. Past her tiny head patched with random tufts of thin curls, I see my sister. Brightly colored notebooks and crisp loose-leaf paper are neatly arranged on the cream car...

COMING TOGETHER, EVEN IN SMALL WAYS, CAN CONVEY A BIG MESSAGE

Like many Americans feeling a sense of unknown—I’ll just say it, despair—following the election, a group of six moms in Bloomington, Indiana, decided to do more than just talk (ok, cry) to each other. We needed to do something. Our goal was simple: outreach. Why? To say loud and clear that we do not support the instances of swastikas spray-painted on public trails, the sudden rise in occurrences of shouts of racial epithets, and other messages of unwelcome.  We will not let this behavior define our community. We decided to rage against it with messages of welcome, love, and community-building. This sounds lofty, doesn’t it? The truth is, it was that simple. We created a name, Bloomington Moms United, and dove headfirst in to an inaugural initiative. In two weeks, our voices were heard. Our...

DAUGHTER OF TEEN PARENTS

Traditionally, people go to college, get a job, get married and then have kids. My parents practically went down the road less traveled. Well, not practically, they did. My parents were 18 when they found out I was on the way. I’m not too sure what their initial feelings were considering I can’t hear through placenta walls, but I do know they were happy when I was born (I think? I hope? They’ve better been). At the time my dad was only a bagger at a grocery store near my childhood home named Raley’s. He still tells me stories to this day about how he won some intense bagging competition that was held by his work. Obviously no 18 year old, fresh-out-of-high-school guy, who’s making minimum wage, would be anything less than scared and nervous to hear such news. I’m positive it was both...

BE THE CHANGE

Being a preschool teacher and having to entertain seventeen 4 to 5 year olds every day can be exhausting. However, in the beginning and the end of each day, I remind myself how much of a difference I am actually making in the lives of these children. YOU are their first impression of being in school and away from their parents for a full day. YOU are the one teaching them at a young age that learning can be fun. YOU are the one holding their hand from the first day of school and teaching them how to be independent little individuals. Since the beginning, I have received many hugs and thank you’s from parents telling me how much of an impact I have made on their kids in such a short amount of time.  In just a matter of my first 2 months of ever teaching, I have had a student bring me flower...

HER MOTHER, MY MOTHER, ME

Young men in relationships always have a moment with the men of the family when someone says, “Take a good look at her mother because that’s your future.”. And sure, that line’s used as a set-up for some hilarious sight-gag on every tv show known to mankind. But, when I think about my own life, that phrase is really quite a compliment. The women in my family, particularly my mother and her mother, are truly women of strength and admiration. So, to say that I’ve the opportunity to become them someday leaves me with only one response: My future and my future family are in good hands. Her Mother: Maria My grandmother, my mother’s mother, Maria, Nani (that’s what us grandkids called her). Maria Tenuta was born in Calabria, Italy on August 25th of 1939 ...

TUNE MY HEART TO SING THY GRACE

“Get your feet off the table, young lady.” It was the first time I’d ever been in trouble with my grandpa.  I was four years old, and independent.  After being asked more than once by my mother to take my feet off the dining room table (during dinner), Papaw was fed up with my lack of listening skills.  He raised his voice at me and I looked wide-eyed at him in shock.  As the tears started welling up in my eyes, I looked around the table to see everyone else’s faces displaying the same shock as mine.  Papaw does not yell. I heard his voice loud and clear.  You better believe I never put my feet anywhere near that table again. Since that day, I’ve listened carefully to Papaw’s voice. His morning voice — between slurps of coffee, he’d count money from the family restaurant in a whisper...

THE 10TH CHRISTMAS

THE 10TH CHRISTMAS I grasp at the pieces, needing more limbs than my human body gives me. A piece here, there, drifting slowly apart in both deliberate and chaotic fashion. My family a cracked and broken thing and my home a vestige barely visible to the distracted people within its walls. A father was there, but not mentally or emotionally present. A younger sister was there nested in the couch, the television her only constant companion. An older sister was away with her husband and his family. A mother was gone, a memory, a topic carefully avoided. I was there-home from college for Christmas. Trying to keep the cracked broken thing from disintegration, attempting to conjure the vestige into a comfortable refuge, false, but enough for now. Enough to pretend that the holidays were the joyf...

CHRISTMAS DAY, 2001

CHRISTMAS DAY, 2001 We rush Christmas present opening and a breakfast of cinnamon rolls. I gather my Game Boy Advance, Mario Kart, batteries and a blanket (you drive without your coat on,
and while I want to be just like you,
I get cold far more easily). Mom goes off to work, her nurse’s schedule rarely allowing her holidays off. Interstate 79 is ours, dad. No one else in the greater Erie area dares leave their families at 7 a.m., Christmas morning. We have the road, white cheddar popcorn, and a soundtrack of laughter, classic rock (mom wouldn’t approve) and Yoshi yelping as he redshells Bowser. In four hours, we will be with your side, with my once-a-year grandma, aunt and cousin. In those four hours, I watch you transform into who you truly are, and who thirteen-year-old me a...

BLENDED

Blended Not unlike most parents, my idea of what parenthood was going to be like was flawed at best. I had a strategy in mind (she scoffs), a grand plan in place (she laughs), of how I would parent my kids – whether they be birthed, adopted or married into my life, love rules all and all children shall be raised in the same manner (oh, the bleary view of this misguided woman, I look back and feel for her).  My naivety was driven with good intentions but misguided and mostly just wrong. A lesson I learned (not quickly enough) is that it’s near impossible to raise two individuals the same – my children ensure I get a refresher on this daily.  My step-daughter and son are the lights of my life, I love them equally with all that I have to give (which some days is less than others) but their si...

BE LIMITED!

Be Limitless! LIMITED! I am a huge fan of party planning – whether it’s for my own birthday, or now that I am a mom, my daughter’s birthday. I enjoy it! I have a fun time thinking of great party themes, fun games to play, decorations, and having awesome food. My goal in planning a party is that everyone has a good time, has good food and drink, and leaves feeling better for having attended. If I love it so much, why do I always feel so drained as the party time draws closer? And so glad it’s done afterwards? I would often vow to myself, “I’m never doing THAT much work again.” Something would always go awry – either not enough guests would show up, or I would end up not having enough time to do everything I wanted to do, or the food would be bad… The icing on the cake was during the prepara...

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