Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain.” ― Bob Dylan

Hey mom. I remember sometime in high school or early college, I told you that I thought depression was just people being whiny, even though I knew you were dealing with some.  I’d just like to apologize for that.  Someone that I spent a lot of time with in the theatre department took his own life last night and no one saw it coming.  Just wanted to take a moment to tell you that I love you.

My daughter sent me that text just a few days ago.  This is not the first time in my children’s young years that this kind of tragedy has brushed into their lives. When my son was in 8th grade, a classmate had also taken his own life.  You wonder what can be so bad, that that’s the only solution you can come up with. I remember being at  Christmas Eve mass and I was handed a free book. So as I read through it, I remember reading that Bob Dylan’s grandmother used to tell him to be kind to everyone because you don’t know what they are going through. I thought about that.

How very true that is.  We just seem to bump around day to day, lives softly brushing by one another as we make quick judgements on the mother with an unruly child, or the disheveled person at the grocery store, or the aged person driving way too slowly on the road. There is a show out there on Netflix that has just surfaced and it’s all about suicide.  The creators say it’s not supposed to be easy to watch and that we should watch it with our kids. Well I think they are wrong.  Why would I want to coddle and encourage that topic with my kids? I realize that it needs to be addressed, but weekly?

There is something seriously wrong with our society. Just look at the selection of reality shows out there.  Look at what’s happening on social media, where murders are being recorded and people are actually laughing in the background.  It reminds me of the Roman times where people would flock to an arena to cheer on as someone was killed.  Sometimes I just sit and try to think of how we can fix this.  Mark Zuckerberg is hiring thousands more employees to sift through social media to pull inappropriate postings, but honestly, I don’t think there’s anything you can do when there’s a live feed filtering through.  My 18 year old jokes to me that his children will have flip phones.  I think it’s a good idea. Hind sight is 20/20.  When phones came out with cameras, they should have had regulations in place where kids in elementary and middle school could only have a flip phones at school to call in case of emergencies and after school communications with parents. And if there parents wanted to spend yet another 200 on a camera phone, fine, but not in  school.  With these devices at a very young age, we have promoted addiction, and desensitized our youth. Movies have ratings ( and don’t get me started) alcohol has an age restriction, why not these devices? I’d also love to see packages bundled where you don’t have to accept the channels that conflict with your values.

So what is the fix? I don’t know. What I do know is we need to slow down and challenge ourselves to put down our devices a little longer each day and take an interest in our neighbors. Friendships and relationships need to be nurtured, but it requires paying attention. And a lost art needs to make it’s way back. The art of listening and taking in another person’s opinion without knocking them to the ground figuratively.  They seem like small steps to take.  I think it’s worth a shot. And who knows, someone that may be considering doing the unthinkable, may change their mind, and figure out they do matter, and they in turn may be able to help others.

” Be kind to everyone because you don’t know what they may be going through.”

 

 

 

You Can’t Regret Regrets!

Special milestones often invite reflection and with reflection comes regret.  My two children are about to graduate and though this should be a very happy time for me, there is a sad echo inside saying I wish I would have been more, or done this. The truth is parenting is the hardest job in the world. And when people are touting about their adult children’s accomplishments the response that often follows is, ” Do you know what that means? You did a great job as a parent!” But what if that person grows up to mark society in a negative way or doesn’t measure up to what your idea of success is? Does that mean you were an awful parent?

I recently read of an interesting experiment that started off with a simple observation of rats and pups.  Scientists were pulling the pups out to observe their physical condition, then putting them back in the tank.  Randomly, they noticed sometimes an adult rat would rush to the pup and nurture it by preening and licking it. The pup would calm down. So the scientists decided to separate the pups they knew to have been nurtured verses the ones that did not.  The ones not nurtured would stick to the outside rim of the tank while the ones that had been nurtured would venture to the center. Then the scientists would put food in the tank. The ones not nurtured took longer to trust and eat. The nurtured ones were bold and just went to the food.  So they went on to study a group of kids that grew up below the poverty line through out their lives and concluded the ones that grew up in a nurturing environment were successful. This included studying the ones that were held more as babies.  They addressed how there was a period where babies were viewed as mechanical and parents were encouraged to leave them to cry, and they would eventually fall asleep. According to their study, this was not the best thing to do.

So I reflect and I have regrets of my parenting performance, like most people do. But then I quiet that echo by telling myself, “You can’t regret regrets.” No one has a baby and knows what the heck they are doing.  When the second baby comes along, you might have learned something, which is why the first one is often called the guinea pig. But if I never had that first one or any at all, I would have never have known the joy that comes with holding a pure innocent life in those aqua pink and blue blankets, and feeling that you are needed and loved by that soul. ( And I know friends that have adopted and get it because as children grow with you, the love does too.)

I am blessed because my two kids grew up to be pretty great people to get to know.  One is a college graduate, an English major.  The other is going off to college.  Can I take credit for it? I don’t know. What I do know was that their younger years were a tumultuous course because there was divorce and separation. Do I regret having them? Never! What I regret was that chaotic transition they witnessed as I settled into my new life. But if I wouldn’t have met the man I divorced, then I never would have met them. And that would indeed be the biggest regret of all.  “You can’t regret regrets!”

Two Traditions to Take Us Into

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Heading into 2017, I think about what I have to look forward to this year and how I want to receive this year. Since I was a little girl, we always had grapes around in the New Year. My relatives trace back to Spain and Cuba and this is a Spanish tradition. I like red grapes as they are sweeter and I equate that to having a sweet life. I normally have a “mental war” on New Years because I tend to be a person that looks back.  I have worked this year on shifting my idea of beauty- mind, body and soul, so I am actually looking forward to gathering with friends and if I’m lucky enough my children, adults now but always my children. A New Year is a time of renewing commitments.

My resolution this year and every year is to be a better woman- a better mom,wife, branch to my step family ( when possible), friend, aunt, sister, daughter, dog owner, writer and literacy advocate. Our children graduate this year, 2 from high school, 1 from college. My nephew will receive the blessing of confirmation.  My husband and I will continue to grow, with opportunities to grow before us.

A new tradition I started just last year was to keep a separate journal for my daughter and son. Whenever I am having a moment with them , good or bad, I write to them and I may put cut outs of stamps, tickets, pictures throughout. I will also write a bit about their family history, such as my grandfather had a family tree in which he traced our bloodline to Junipero Serra a controversial Saint. There was also a rumor this same grandfather had lunch with Al Capone in Miami Beach once.  I don’t write in them much, but the times I do write are significant. I just want them to know that being a mom to me was a privilege and not a burden. This was brought on by a couple of things: one a dysfunctional upbringing which many people can identify with I’m sure. Two: A woman in my neighborhood passed away in her mid 40’s of breast cancer, leaving 2 middle school ers and 1 high school er behind. I thought to myself, how terrible to loose someone so central to your life at those developing ages. They would not have their mother witness their graduations, successes, and celebrations any longer. Wouldn’t it be somewhat comforting to read on how proud  mom was because they couldn’t hear her voice any longer? Or know their ancestral stories…

So there you have it, a little of everything…two traditions to carry into the New Year and a resolution to be a better woman. I look forward to growing followers for this blog and making new friends, and sharing in the journey of aging with grace and peace. Cheers and Happy New Year to my new friends out there! Don’t forget your grapes… bring them in a cool presentation to a party. Skewers, Mock champagne glasses… I haven’t decided how I will bring mine to the party I was invited to, but I will make it fun and festive .If you have any ideas, send them on over. And hey, for those of us watching our weight, it’s a good way to keep our habits in check.

Day 208 Still hanging on under 147. But I want to eat cake!