The Circle Of Life: When A Beginning and Ending Collide

Yesterday was the first day of school for my boys. Eighth grade and fifth grade, respectively — Their last year in middle school and elementary school, also respectively. And from what I hear, it started the same way that last year ended … With each of them chasing down the school bus before it left our neighborhood. Sigh! At least they’re consistent.

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First day of 8th grade — Yes, he ran after the bus with his shoelaces untied (photo courtesy of my husband).

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Pre-bus chase smiles on the first day of 5th grade (photo courtesy of my husband).

I, too, am consistent. Last year, I cheaper out went green and sent the boys to school with the previous year’s backpacks, lunch boxes, clothes and unused school supplies. I did buy them new underwear and get them fresh haircuts as part of a family tradition, but this year, I didn’t even do that. I know, I’m a horrible mother. I did replace their moldy, torn lunch boxes, but other than that, the start of the 2016-17 school year looked a lot like the end of the 2015-16 school year. At least that’s what my husband tells me. I don’t really know for sure because I wasn’t there. I was in Boston.

As my boys were saying hello to their new teachers, I was saying goodbye to one of mine. Virginia Delaney was truly a remarkable woman who taught me, through her life example, that it’s not your situation or circumstances that define you, but your attitude. She lived life to the fullest every day, laughing, joking and making the people around her feel loved. From the outside looking in, she lived a storybook life: Married for over 60 years with 5 children, 13 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren, all of whom loved her dearly. A world-class traveler, veteran theatre-goer and the consummate hostess, my Aunt Virginia was simultaneously sophisticated and casual. She was a true beautiful soul. But beneath all the joy was a fair amount of darkness. From caring for a husband with Parkinson’s Disease to six separate battles with cancer and a few other challenges along the way, my Aunt Virginia never let on when she was sad, angry, hurt or grieving. Her approach was to always remain positive while fighting like hell. She was as tough as nails and as sweet as they come until the very end.

We all have our burdens to bear in life and Virginia Delaney had her fair share. But she handled every one of them with grace, dignity, class and strength. My father, her youngest brother, is the same way. I only hope that it’s hereditary because this is a life lesson I want to master and pass on to my kids. You may not be able to change your situation, but you can always alter your attitude about it.

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Yesterday was both a beginning and end for my family and me, filled with both great excitement and even greater sorrow. But if I know my aunt, she would want me to focus on the joy instead of the sadness, so that is what I’m trying to do.

Rest in peace, Aunt Virginia.

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– LJDT

I Used To Be Fun

I recently read an article in the New York Post (so take it with a grain of salt) about how parents (at least those from Manhattan and Long Island) are letting loose while their kids are away at sleep away camp.  And by loose, I mean wild.  As in no-clothes-allowed rules at home, sex in the kids’ bedrooms and drug-fueled threesomes, wife swaps and orgies … You know, the usual.  Wait, what?!  Are people my age really doing this?  According to those interviewed, yes.  They see it as their second chance to do all the things they didn’t get to do before they had kids.  Um, okay.  My boys have been away for two weeks (big ups to Mom and Dad, Denise and Peter — thank you, thank you, thank you!) and the wildest things I’ve done are triple workouts, an afternoon massage and dinner out with friends.

I used to be fun.  Not coke-and-Molly-laced-sex-party fun, but stay-out-all-night, dance on bars, ride mechanical bulls fun.  You know, normal fun.  But that was B.K. — before kids.  I think when I gave birth, my fun genes came out with the placenta.

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That’s me, riding a mechanical bull in Texas back in the day … See, I really was fun.

If you ask my kids, I am not the “fun mom.”  I’m a “rules mom.”  My sister’s a fun mom.  My friends Paula, Mary Liz and Kathy are fun moms.  But I am not a fun mom.  I’m too serious, too scheduled and too strict.  In a (hyphenated) word, I’m high-strung.  Every now and then, I let my freak flag fly and the boys, after the initial shock wears off, love it.  Embarrassing dance moves in the kitchen, randomly thrown flying rubber pigs in the family room, spontaneous trips to the creamery — that’s about as crazy as it gets for me.

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Fun these days means old-school roller skating under the Ben Franklin bridge in Philly with my kids.

Truth is, I don’t want to be the fun mom.  It’s not who I am and I’m okay with that.  At 44, I’m not trying to impress anyone or be someone I’m not.  I’m just trying to be the best version of myself, one day at a time.  Some days I succeed and some days I fail, but I’m always trying to be the best mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter and woman I can be.

I hope my boys know that I’m trying.  Even on those days when my yelling sucks all the fun out of the room, I really am trying.

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– LJDT