I said no…to lemon

I was inspired to blog this story because my amazing niece shared a post on Facebook where a woman compared her dog not eating the steak in front of it to men keeping their shit together and behaving. Meaning some dogs are better behaved than many men. Her caption was, “Teach your boys better people.”

I couldn’t agree more. I have two boys. I’m sick to my stomach every damn day when another celebrity or well-known person is outed for being a pig. Honestly, it’s a little overwhelming. I mean, I’m glad these brave women are speaking out and I’m proud of them. But the sheer volume lately is sickening. It’s like when you turn over a rock and tons of those little worms go wriggling for cover. There are far too many worms right now.

The up side, if there is one, is that it makes me super vigilant with my kids and how they are learning to treat women and be respectful.

My six-year-old LOVES to “make” you a water with lemon. I don’t know, don’t ask. Anyway. I’m not a fan of lemon in my water. So the other day, I asked him to put water on the table for dinner. He asked if I wanted lemon. I said no. He gave me water with lemon. When I reminded him that I said no to the lemon, he smirked and said, “I heard yes.”

Poor thing. Let’s just say he got the message that that is not acceptable. (Don’t @ me, I didn’t spank, yell or threaten to beat him.)

I know he was not being malicious. He’s six. He just likes to stick a lemon on the side of a glass. It makes him happy for some reason. But his happiness does not trump me saying no. That’s a really serious lesson that he needs to learn now.

What do you say? Let’s raise a generation where we don’t have to worry about all those worms under the rocks. It starts now.

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On regret

My life has been kind of a shitshow lately. I don’t really talk about it publically. Besides, it’s small potatoes compared to the actual trauma some people around the world deal with. So whatevs.

But I got a sympathy card in the mail today from our vet, Clairmont Animal Hospital. It contained handwritten notes from Dr. Smith, our vet tech Joyce and a few of the other staff expressing their sadness for the loss of our beloved nut job, Roxy. It was so thoughtful.

That was the proverbial straw. I always fall apart when people show kindness—to me or anyone—and this did me in.

Roxy started acting strange around two months ago. Normally an insane bundle of jumping, barking, tail-wagging happiness, she was more sedate. She didn’t get excited about going for a run, and when we did run together, she lagged behind. I wrote it off to the heat.

Then she started limping off and on, and yelping if she moved the wrong way. She had torn her left ACL last year, so we thought she had now torn the right. “Crazy dog,” we said, and started doing the math in our heads, lamenting the cost of another surgery.

But it got worse–fast. I took her to the vet and they couldn’t find anything wrong. Long awful story short: two weeks, three different vets, many pain pills, X-rays and an MRI later, we found out she had bone cancer. We asked how much time she had. “None,” they said. Our hearts broken, we released her from her pain. She was four years old.

That was almost two weeks ago, and saying I miss her is a massive understatement. I keep thinking about all the signs that she didn’t feel well that I wrote off, or was too busy to think about at the moment. That tears me up. She had to be in a tremendous amount of pain. And the grace and strength she showed that last month just flattens me.

The very worst thing, though, is I remember so clearly the last time Roxy tried to get me to play. Her modus operandi was she’d find a sock, or hat, or something she wasn’t supposed to have. She’d come to me with a sparkle in her eye and a wag in her tail, showing it to me, taunting me to chase her. And around the house we’d go, me mock yelling, “Gimme that sock!” Her pretending to let me get it just before taking off again. It was her favorite game.  That day, I know she hadn’t been feeling well, and somehow she pulled herself together enough to bring me a sock and entice me to chase her. I was working, though, and brushed her off, saying, “Later, Rox.”

There wasn’t a later. She never asked me to play again. And I didn’t even realize it until she was gone. You can’t imagine how that hurts.

How often do we say “later” or “not now” or “I’ll do it tomorrow?” There is no tomorrow. Don’t buy into that “there’s always tomorrow” bullshit. Because there isn’t.

The next time someone you love asks you to grab coffee, read a book, go for a walk, look at their picture, talk, chase them around the house, or whatever, do it. Do it. Nothing is more important. Nothing. Because there is no guarantee that there will be a later.

On rejection

So, I wrote a story. I thought it was a really good, clever story. My writing group thought it was a really good, clever story. I was very proud of myself, because I hadn’t written (OK, finished) a short story in a long time.

I submitted it.

I did the research and picked a publication that I thought would be perfect. It fit the genre. It was the right length. It seemed to match the other things they published. So I held my breath and clicked Submit.

They turned it down. Swiftly. And, since I asked for feedback, they kind of tore it apart. My sweet little story, that I thought was so clever.

It stung. A lot.

I went through the stages of rejection. Shock. Anger. Denial. Wine. Anger again. Acceptance.

Then I looked at the story again, and realized maybe–just maybe–they were right. A little. I shared the feedback with a creative friend whose opinion I value. He kind of agreed with them. So I went back to work–editing, rewriting, rethinking–to make the story better. And I went back with a vengeance, because darn it, this clever little story is going to get published.

Sometimes things don’t work out as planned. Take the hit, feel sorry for yourself for a minute. Then get up and get back to work.

Photo by Georg Nietsch on Unsplash

I Cried Today

  I cried on the way to work today. I cried for my daughters, gay and straight, for my granddaughter and my nieces. I cried for all the beautiful LGBTQ people I know, who are terrified of losing everything. I cried for myself and for every woman who has ever been sexually harassed, abused, demeaned, raped or made to feel that she’s somehow less because of her gender.

  I cried today for all the people who came here, to America, looking for a better life for themselves and their children. For the people of all races, colors, genders, and religions who have fought and struggled for basic human rights.

  I cried for the people who believe that the man they elected cares about them, because if you don’t look like him, if you are not a rich, white, middle-aged male, he really doesn’t.

  I cried because yesterday America decided that none of that matters.

I miss my baby boy.

My son is 12. I check his web search history and read his texts. He knows I do. I want to make sure he’s on the right path, so for now, I’m all up in his business. (We’ll save the privacy debate for another time. )

Recently, I was looking at his search history  and found something that broke my heart. (To protect his privacy, I’m not saying what it was.) Oh, man. It was like a punch in the gut. It still hurts my heart just to think about it. Why did it hit me so hard? Not because it was something shocking or bad. Because it made me realize how much I miss my son.

There was a time he and I were inseparable. We did everything together. We talked about everything. He never hesitated to ask me questions, about anything. It was me and him. We were buddies. Then, things changed. Mostly for the better, sure, but still… I got a promotion and had less time. His little brother came along. Puberty came along. Girls came along.

Now he’s this pre-teen boy with secrets who won’t be seen with his mother. Who won’t hug or kiss his mother (God no!). Who won’t talk to his mother. I don’t know how to reach him. And I miss him. I miss him somethin’ awful, as my Gram used to say.

Here’s a boy who for years started every morning by curling up in my lap for a few minutes. Every. Morning. I tell you, there is no better way to start the day. Now, I’m lucky if I get a “good morning” grunt.

And every day would end with us snuggled in his bed, with books and bears and talk of what we did that day, and what we’d do tomorrow. Now, I get a quick “good night” and when I go in for a kiss I’m met with a turned cheek and an eye roll.

And now he’s a young man who Googles things instead of asking his mother.

I know it’s normal. (I hope?) Boys grow into men and to do that they must change, and pull away from their mommies and start to figure things out on their own. But when I see that my boy, my baby, is looking for answers to something, and that looking doesn’t include me, I want to go full on momma bear.

I’m not gonna lie. I worry. I worry that it’s not normal and this divide between us is something I did. Or some pain he’s harboring. Or something that went wrong. (WHY DIDN’T HE ASK ME?!) I worry about him a lot.

So, what do I do? How do I get this man-child with the thin mustache and croaky voice to open up to me? Is that even possible? And how to I deal with the guilt I have for my part in this? Was there something I could have done to prevent this chasm? Should I have been more engaged?

It’s not all bad. We still have “our time.” I do my best to make time for him alone. We have movie dates, which are my favorite. And we do talk. But mostly about lacrosse and Nirvana and which Avenger would kick which Avenger’s butt and how the Beatles influenced most music we hear today. But not about how to talk to girls. Or navigating middle school society. Or the thing he Googled.

I miss my baby boy.

 

 How Many Socks Can I Pick Up?

Bob Bobson: Welcome ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for America’s favorite game show: How Many Socks Can I Pick Up?!

(applause)

Please say hello to our returning champion: Suzanne Kosmerl! Suzanne hails from a little town just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, is married, has two boys, and is defending her How Many Socks Can I Pick Up title of an amazing 45 socks in one swoop. Suzanne, what’s your secret?

Suzanne: Well, Bob, having two boys and a husband, I have to pick up a lot of socks! And, we have a crazy dog who likes to steal socks and hide them in strange places, so I’m used to the odd numbers. Let’s just say I get lots of practice!

(laughter)

Bob: Well, Suzanne, it sounds like you are a picking-up-socks pro! Let’s see if you can hold on to that title. We’ll meet your next challenger, after a brief word from our sponsor, Maytag.

(applause)
(cut to commercial)

Amanda

I wrote this when I was a young mom, shortly after my first baby was born and I was overwhelmed by the love I had (and still have) for her.

Watching her sleep, so helpless and small

The greatest gift from God20160905_121527

The most beautiful miracle of all

Tiny and wonderful, full of love to give

She smiles in her sleep, having angel dreams

I reach down and touch her cheek

Stroking her soft pink skin

Looking into sparkling, wide eyes,

Laughing over a tiny upturned nose,

She has brought joy and love to an empty life.