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Well-prepared or Over-packed? March 2, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in Books, Knitting, motherhood.
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I’m out for the day with my youngest boy and I know the day will include lots of waiting around on my part. Currently I’m in the waiting area while he’s in an audition for a college music program. Next comes an audition for the theater program at the same school (well, “next” as in two plus hours later).  When that’s dome travel 1.5 hours south to drop him off at rehearsal in downtown Chicago. I’ll meet up with him again at the performance at four and when that’s done I’ll head home

To keep myself occupied I brought along:


– Two books (nonfiction, the kind one reads in bits and pieces, pausing to consider)

– Three knitting projects (one glitten (glove/mitten hybrid)  that just needs the ends sewn in, one glitten that needs mitten cap finished and then a few ends sewn in, and yarn to start a new Wingspan)

– Notebook for writing (there are a few things stirring that need to come out)

– Three pound bag of Cara Cara oranges (it was simpler to grab the bag than just a few oranges)

So, what do you think? Too much? Just enough? Or might I end up at loose ends with nothing to occupy my time?


My First Thanksgiving November 22, 2009

Posted by phoenixhopes in Holidays, motherhood, thoughts.

Tomorrow, November 23, 2009 is, in some ways, the first day of my life. My mother died when she was 51 years and 8 weeks old and that is precisely my age today. I was 15 when she died and my mother was the center of my world. Her death left a hole in my heart that has never been filled. Since the day she died I have lived in the shadow of that  loss. It has shaped me more than any other event in my life.

For months this has been on my mind and I’ve been mulling over what to write, how to commemorate the day.  From the time I wake up tomorrow I can no longer think “when my mother was this old, her life was like this”.  For the past 36 years, in one way or another, I’ve always compared myself to my mother. Although I always knew it wasn’t founded in truth or logic, I often wondered if I would live longer than she did.

Tomorrow morning I step out from under the shadow and take my first steps as my own person. Later this week I’ll celebrate what could be thought of as my first Thanksgiving. I know it’s symbolic and nothing fundamental will change about who I am, but at the same time, everything has changed and I have much to be thankful for. I’ve survived. I have a future. I have hope.

Learning to live alone November 22, 2008

Posted by phoenixhopes in motherhood, thoughts.
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For most of my life I have not ever been really alone. Sometimes it looked like I was alone, but it was an illusion. The children were sleeping and the house was quiet, but my mind was occupied with thoughts of laundry or doctor visits or next weeks’ activities. Even when my family wasn’t physically with me, they filled my conscious thoughts and plans.

In the midst of all this, I often found time to feed my creative side. Reading late at night (or even sometimes all day), cross-stitch or other handwork projects while waiting for music lessons to end, learning alongside my children in our homeschooling adventure. But the time was always carved out and I was never fully alone. Instead, during those times, my life was temporarly paused.

This is not to say that I never felt lonely. Cliche I know, but “alone” and “lonely”, although they may (or may not) occur at the same time, are not the same. It is also possible to feel bone aching lonliness surrounded by others or lying in bed next to the one you have promised ’till death do you part’.

Then came the Year of Changes. A tsunami hit and nothing was recognizable. The marriage was officially over. I was a shell of a mother, functioning on auto-pilot (and not very well at that). Our address changed and then changed again. The younger boys entered public school. The oldest spread his wings and moved away from my nest. I learned to spend my days working in a corporate office. For the most part, whether I was physically alone or not, the only thing I felt was numb and the most creative activity I could think of was sleep.

Gradually, in fits and spurts, we all started to heal. The kids have grown and more have sprouted wings. Most of the time older children do not require the same sort of intense mothering that toddlers and pre-teens do. They spend more time away from home and, although one never really stops thinking of them, worrying on occasion, wondering often what they’re up to, they no longer fill every corner of my thoughts. My plans no longer center solely on their needs and schedule.

If we’ve done your job right as a parent, children are supposed to grow up and become independent. Oh, they never stop needing us, but how they need changes.  While there was once a day when we planned their every waking moment, now they make plans without even consulting us. Although it is right and good and The Way Life Should Be, as the children grow, you find yourself spending time alone.

2008 has been the year that I have learned to live alone. Three out of my four children no longer live at home full time and the fourth often spends days at a time away. I spent New Years, the Fourth of July and my birthday alone. I had the apartment totally to myself for weeks at a time. And mostly, I’ve liked it.

There certainly are days when that bone chilling lonliness attaches itself like a leech on my soul, but those days are much fewer and farther between. Instead I’ve learned to appreciate the silence, to listen and begin to remember who I am.  This has been a year of restoration, a time to let the me that has been hidden for so long to begin to bud and bloom.

The only constant is change August 25, 2008

Posted by phoenixhopes in motherhood, teens, thoughts.

Did you ever have a pain so raw and so deep that you couldn’t look it squarely in the face? You had to dance around it, stealing glances, sure that if you made eye contact it would wash over you like a tidal wave and you would be consumed?

This is what my summer has been, waiting and dreading the day I had to face another change in my life. Yesterday I moved my thirteen year old, my baby, to the big city to live with his brother. It’s a good move for him, the right one, full of opportunity and hope. He’s surrounded by people that know him and like him and will grow to love and nurture him. I expect that he’ll flourish and grow to become the man he’s meant to be.

Deciding to let him go was a decision I made for him and not for me. It seems that most of the decisions in my life, big and small, have been made for my children. Where will I live? Will I stay at this job? How will I spend my money? Who will I spend my spare time with? What will I do this weekend? Some days I wonder — when do I choose based on what I really want? When do I choose the ending I most want to see?

Almost every conversation I’ve had over the past few months discussing this move has been centered on what is best for my boy — The school here is killing his spirit. He needs a place to let loose his creativity. He spends too much time alone. He needs the daily influence of men in his life. He wants to go. He’s happy and relaxed in a way I haven’t seen in years. This is the right thing for him. He’ll be ok.

Through it all I’ve wondered if I would also be ok. I’m tired of changes, tired of adjusting, tired of watching my dreams die. I’ve reminded myself that mothers throughout the ages have made the hard choices for their children, sending them off to their destiny even when they want to hold them close. I’ve told myself (although I’m not so sure I fully believe it) that I’m a better mother for making this choice. Somehow, by letting him go and live apart from me, I will help him become more whole and more the man he is supposed to be.

But the pain lurks, like a dragon, just around the corner. I have to consciously hold it away from me so I’m not consumed. I’m afraid if I look it square in the face that I’ll be overwhelmed and immobilized by the enormity of it all. I have to keep moving forward, to somehow make it through the long quiet nights when the doubts and the loneliness sneak up on me. I have to convince myself that I can survive this change as well as the others that came before it. That somehow, in the end, I’ll be ok.

Saturday reflections September 21, 2007

Posted by phoenixhopes in motherhood, singleness, Uncategorized.
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I’m a single mom. To say it more accurately, I’m a mom who happens to be single. I don’t have the freedom to be single first. It is impossible to have quality time with teenagers without lots and lots of quantity time. If I don’t spend the time with my boys, I cannot be the mother they need. I know not everyone sees things this way but I don’t care too much about ‘everyone’. I care about what my family needs. People have told me that I need more “me time”. I ask them what I’m supposed to cut out of my life to get that time. Accepting the challenge of parenting means accepting the sacrifice that may come along.

I don’t mean to say that my life is only about my children or that I’m obsessed with them. But right now I could do everything else in my life ‘right’ and totally fail my kids. I only have one shot at raising them, influencing them.

As much as I am committed to being who my kids need first, it does get lonely. I am not outgoing by nature, never been a party person, not one to strike up conversations with strangers. I’m comfortable being a homebody. My idea of a good weekend is one spent curled up reading. A great weekend would also include someone to curl up next to and meaningful discussion about what we’re reading.

I long for a man who wants to be a friend, who sees into my heart, recognizes the gold, isn’t afraid of the chaff and helps me get rid of it. A man who is willing to be transparent to me in the same way. I’m cautious about romance, about giving my heart away. Romance is the easy part but it doesn’t last without the foundation of friendship built first.

For now I’m a mom who happens to be single. My life is not on hold until the kids are independent. Some days the road seems lonely but I don’t think I’ll look back and regret the choices I’ve made.


Teenagers September 21, 2007

Posted by phoenixhopes in motherhood, teens.
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It’s like this, you spend the first 10 or 12 or whatever amount of years building a go-cart with your kids, then somewhere in the teens, you both hop on and start careening down a hill. Unfortunately, there are no brakes and the steering doesn’t work so well. In order to make your way around trees and big rocks, you’ll need to lean your body hard to the side. And hope that your passenger is also leaning in the same direction. The rocks don’t necessarily mean you’re doing anything wrong and you can learn to maneuver around them. No matter what you do, you’re going to get hit in the face with a few branches. And sometimes, you’ll hit a nice smooth, grassy spot that isn’t so steep. That part of the ride is quite enjoyable and eventually you’ll have more grass than rocks. Somehow, while you are hurtling down the hill, you need to transition the parent out of the driver’s seat and watch the emerging adult start to navigate. The goal is for both of you to make it to the bottom of the hill in one piece.