Grown Siblings, Mothering Them by Text

For the past hour, I’ve been having two simultaneous, but extremely different text conversations with my two kids. I worried I would accidentally send a comment or emoji to the wrong one, as I alternated answering one and then the other.

Kid number 1, who lives a few hours away, has spent the morning at urgent care and is feeling terrible, plus worried about not being able to go to work tomorrow. Kid number 2, who still lives with me, just finished participating in a game jam* with a local game developers’ club. He’s flying high with exhilaration over what his group accomplished this weekend.

It’s one of those situations where I want to be present for both, and I guess the technology makes that possible. But I’m dizzy from the back and forth.

“My whole body aches.”

😦 I hope the medicine helps soon.

“Here are the coolest features of the game we created this weekend.”

🙂 That’s amazing. So cool!

Back and forth, back and forth — celebrate, commiserate, celebrate, commiserate. Never letting on to either that I’m having a conversation with their sibling, or what it’s about. Why remind the sick one of other people having fun? And why deflate the happy one by bringing up worries about the sibling?

And if this doesn’t epitomize being the mother of more than one child, I don’t know what does.

*Participants break into teams and have a weekend to create a computer game on a given theme.

 

I’m Not a Package Thief! Let Me Explain

equipment pavement security security camera
Photo by Scott Webb on Pexels.com

In the past few months, I’ve seen a fair few security footage videos on social media, showing people stealing boxes from front porches. “Help us identify this thief” is a common caption. I keep wondering, don’t these front porch parcel bandits realize how likely they are to end up on camera, and then all over the internet, their crimes broadcast to the world?

This was all going through my mind the other day as I removed two boxes from someone’s porch and carried them across a busy street in broad daylight, taking them to my own house, with the full intention of keeping them. Did someone record me doing this? Is my image even now being impugned on the Facebook pages of strangers? See the dastardly woman making away with her neighbors’ goods!

Rest assured, I am not a package thief. I am merely a player in a small coincidence of the cosmos.

I’ve been keeping an eye on my neighbors’ house while they’ve been out of the country. On the day in question, when I  went over to do my rounds and make sure everything was in order, I spotted two packages on their front porch. I thought it was a little odd that they’d order any goods delivered when they were halfway around the world, but figured I’d better take the boxes inside the house so they didn’t get stolen or weather damaged.

One was large and I hoped it wasn’t too heavy. I was relieved to see the words ‘furnace filters” printed on the cardboard. Coincidentally enough, I had just ordered furnace filters from the same company. How about that?

When I took a closer look, I saw the coincidence was of a different nature. Those boxes were mine, both of them. They were addressed to me — my name and my home address. But they’d been delivered to the wrong house. Where I happened to find them anyway, because I was keeping an eye on the place for my neighbors. What are the odds?

And what are the odds someone saw me take them and recorded the whole thing? That’s what I keep wondering. If you see a video posted of a middle-aged, curly-haired woman swiping two unwieldy boxes from someone’s porch and carrying them away, please let me know. I can explain the whole thing.

Merry Crisis and a Happy New Improvisation

Christmas decorations
Our dinner venue for Christmas Eve

Considering who raised them, my kids couldn’t help growing up with a dark sense of humor. It helps get us through hard times, minor and major. They’re both in their early twenties now, long past the age where I could shield them from the troubles of the world. Past the age where I even want to. It’s a relief in a lot of ways, being able to speak openly with your kids about big issues.

It’s been a year of living since last Christmas, which means a year with a few problems mixed in with our joys. Car repairs. My younger son, the 20-year-old, has been dealing with annoying health issues off and on for several months. Our washing machine is about to give up the ghost — in a shuddering exorcism, by the looks of things. My firstborn has roommate issues. Deep cuts in benefits at my workplace. Some deaths of loved ones. I hurt my back a couple of weeks ago, and could barely move for about three days. Which meant Christmas prep was rushed and last minute. Then there are the things happening on the world stage — refugees needing asylum, climate change, markets crashing.

But in the middle of all of that, we’ve been able to foment a spirit of celebration within the family around Christmas. Granted, the celebratory spirit has an edge to it. “Merry Crisis!” read the text from my oldest a few days ago. It quickly became our unified holiday greeting. With every newly developing issue — Merry Crisis! Yeah, the world’s going to hell, but we’ve got each other and we’re going to make what joy we can.

I ordered some gifts to be shipped to Kid One, thinking we wouldn’t be seeing them for Christmas. They live four hours away, too far for a day trip. Parties on neither end could do an overnight, for various reasons. I thought I was okay with being apart, since we message all the time.

But I got sad as the day approached, and sadness is sometimes the mother of invention. At nearly the last minute, I pitched a Christmas Eve plan to meet halfway. I looked at maps, researched restaurants that might be open, and found the perfect spot to meet, a two-hour drive from each end. That perfect spot was an IHOP in Quincy, Illinois.

It worked out. It wasn’t the Christmas get together of days gone by, but it was a new innovation that turned out nicely. Kid One brought along their significant other and we had a great visit, filled with our usual brand of humor, leading to lots of laughter. In case anyone wonders, we left a sizable tip for the wait staff working on the holiday. Without them, I wouldn’t have gotten to visit with my (23-year-old) baby.

If there’s a lesson for me, it’s to let go of what I think a Christmas celebration should be or what it has been, and to improvise as need to make it what it can be.

Merry Crisis and a Happy New Improvisation!

What if We Used to Be the Same Person?

person sky silhouette night
Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

What if we used to be the same person? Or will be the same person in the future? Or both? Were and will be.

Lost yet? Let me give you a glimpse of the kinds of thoughts that can take over my brain in the middle of the night.

Several years ago, I read A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. It’s a popular science book. One thing he said stuck with me and I think about it often, sometimes even in broad daylight. Since matter is never destroyed, only transformed, that means all of the atoms that make up our bodies used to be other things. Or people. It’s possible that some atoms in my body right now used to be part of Shakespeare. And we know we’re all made of stardust, right? Which is amazing. Here’s an article explaining what I’m saying.  Continue reading “What if We Used to Be the Same Person?”

Thankful for Quiet Holidays

IMG_4052This Thanksgiving marks my first major holiday as a mom spent apart from one of my children. My firstborn won’t be home to visit until the end of next week. It’ll be just me, my husband and the six-foot-tall kid who lives with us.

We could have gone somewhere, but chose not to. We could have invited people, but didn’t. I haven’t dusted, or anything similar. Honestly, I’m looking forward to a quiet day.

I had so many years of busyness, of overwhelming to do lists, of making the holidays into something. As much as I enjoyed a lot about those times, I got worn out. I’m depleted. I find myself now just wanting to rest from more than two decades of being on.

I have a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner planned. Homemade minestrone. Rolls. Mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. Steamed asparagus. Cranberry Sauce. Pumpkin pie. We’ll probably play a board game. Maybe take a walk, weather permitting. We’ll say what we’re thankful for.

This year, I’m thankful for the prospect of a quiet, low-stress holiday.

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Looks peaceful, doesn’t it? Just like my vision for Thanksgiving.

Vote!

i voted sticker spool on white surface
Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

I like to offer my opinion, but had to learn as I grew up that there are appropriate and inappropriate occasions for that. The most appropriate time and place ever is the voting booth on election day. I couldn’t wait to turn 18 and go express myself on a ballot.

In all of the intervening years (there have been a lot) I’ve only ever missed voting in one election. There was a single city bond issue at stake and I had a stomach virus. I still regret how the world was deprived of my input.

I have a plan tomorrow. It involves dragging a 20-year-old along. He was diligently researching and filling out his sample ballot yesterday. He’s a responsible, informed, caring person, and would vote even if I didn’t make him. But I want to do it as a mother-son activity, so I’m making him accompany me early, before I go to work.

What’s your plan for voting? Or have you cast your ballot already? If you don’t yet know where to show up or what to bring, check that here. Your voice matters. If you can at all, show up and vote.

 

 

When a Small Change Makes a Big Difference

pedestrian crossing

Sometimes a small change makes a big difference. The pedestrian/bicycle crossing light pictured above has improved my quality of life tremendously. And I am far from alone.

Since I no longer have to drive anyone to school before or after work, I commute to my job on foot almost every day. As a result, I cross this intersection several times a week. Though a crosswalk was painted years ago, drivers mostly ignored the “yield to pedestrian” rule. I often found myself standing there in all sorts of weather, waiting as eight or a dozen or thirty cars went by before I got an opportunity to cross. This could leave me cross if the temperature was above 90 or below 20.

But now I merely push a button to set the lights flashing, and the drivers stop right away. Usually. I’m in a better mood when I get where I’m going, and I feel a lot safer. I always assumed I’d die in that intersection some day, but this traffic improvement has given natural causes their chance to take me out.

Not only did the city put in a light, they turned the cross street into a bicycle boulevard. Cars are still allowed on it, but auto traffic is reduced by new islands disallowing anything but a right turn. It no longer fuctions as a thru street. This helps my husband, who commutes by bicycle every single day.

I live in a health conscious, environmentally conscious community. Many of us bike or walk when possible, instead of driving. But on this stretch of busy road, pedestrians (yours truly included) tended to watch for any opening in traffic to run across at whatever random place, because the distance between traffic signals was so great. Since the installation of the crossing light, I never jaywalk, and I see very little of it from others. This is safer for drivers, as well. It’s a win-win-win-win-win situation.

Many city residents lobbied repeatedly and for a long time to get this installed. And now we have it. It might seem like a small thing, but it’s making a big difference.

In the troubled world of today, the huge problems can seem overwhelming. I know I can get paralyzed, feeling no difference can be made. I would encourage everyone to take what steps you can, wherever you are. We’re never going to solve all of the world’s problems, but we can make a dent. Look around and see what at hand needs improvement. Lobby to get a pedestrian crossing, if that’s what you can accomplish. It might make more difference than your realize.