MommyBest blog is a coffee chat for all moms--including expectant mothers and grandmas. We celebrate the motherhood journey and share the magical lessons we learn along the triumphant--and sometimes-- turbulent waters. We spotlight Moms who are making the world a better place for children because of what they do or contribute as MommyBests!
Now that the
Fall is racing by and everyone is settling into the "school in
session" season, I'm reflecting upon what started out as an awesome Summer
2012--going into NYC for dining, mom play dates with friends, beach time and
yes, I even went fishing for the 2nd time in my life. So when I had an accident
in NYC only a few weeks into the summer, I was not a happy camper.
My girlfriend and I went into NYC for a day
of fun when I injured my foot, leg and neck, in an accident, and--even worse
than calling my family from the hospital to tell them this news--was explaining
to my younger son I wasn't going to be able to take him and his friends to Lake
Compounce the next day as I had promised. When I called Dylan from the hospital
to share the details of my injuries--there was a long silence after he realized
I wouldn't be able to go to the park the following day. His brother and his
friends had just gone the week before so he wanted his just dos. My girlfriend
was with me at the hospital, and the one salvation we had after the 7 hours at
Lennox Hill was laughing many times that my son was more upset about Lake
Compounce than my injuries : )
So what could make the summer even worse?
The day after my accident, our younger son flipped his bike over and broke his
clavicle in a "jagged split," according to the orthopedic who gave
him a 6-8wk minimum recovery time. His entire back was skinned from the fall,
and he couldn't find a comfortable position to sit much less sleep for weeks.
One mom who has become a good friend of mine and our sons are also friends put
it really well when she offered healing wishes adding, "How cruel for an
active teenage boy to break his clavicle in the summer." No baseball, no
sports at all--not even swimming."
Once Dylan was able to sit comfortably, we
started going out for walks, having a few friends over--although it was quite
challenging to create activities that would be nearly as fun as water slides,
kickball and just plain summer craziness. We started doing day trips and going
away for a few nights at a time. After four weeks into his healing, the doctor
said he could start swimming before moving around to more challenging
activities. And, of course, Dylan went with my husband, who was one of the
coaches, to all the baseball games to support his team from the bench.
Dylan loves the Yankees! So, I wanted to
take him to a special game. Since my older son had another event to go to and
was active all summer--and especially since my husband is a Red Sox Fan ( Can
you imagine our summer dinner conversations? The constantjabbing and rival team trash talking),I wanted the game to be an activity for just
the two of us.
We had an awesome time last year when we
took the Yankee shuttle to see one of the ALCS game. I was able to buy the
tickets last minute from a friend who lives in the city (Larry : )
Everyone has a favorite player.
Gearing-up for the game!
There was an electricity in the air from
the moment we boarded the packed subway car. Even though the chill in the air
felt more like football weather, there was no mistaking that this was a
baseball night to remember--A Yankee night for sure. The fans were jovially
bouncing around, already spewing their victory chants against the Texas
Walking into the winding trail from train
stop into the stadium, the smell of chestnuts roasting filled the air and it
was cold enough to blow smoke rings. It was jammed and the fans were jamming.
What a great start with the Yankees
winning the first few innings. We were screaming and stomping our feet along
with all the other fans. Then, one decision changed the direction of the game:
A.J. Burnett intentionally walked a player, which was then followed by a home
run, slammed by Bengie Molina. The game ended with a 10-3 loss for the Yankees.
Yes, we still had an amazing time,
especially on the train rides there and back, listening to all the jokes and
banter. But the ending was disappointing.
after a rough summer recovery, I also wanted to recover that Yankee loss and
replace it with an ever bigger, more spectacular win. I found a Red Sox verses
Yankees Sunday Night game, got tickets and surprised my son. I admit I asked the man upstairs for some
intervention because I wanted to have a winning memory.
I'm sure most moms can relate to
supporting their kid's interests. Before I had my boys, I had no interest in
baseball. But after becoming my boys' number one fan in all the sports they
play, I also became a fan of their baseball team (not my husband's team lol).
Like wounded warriors, my son, with a broken
clavicle, and me, limping along, worked
our way to what has become our favorite seats: high behind home plate. We love to sit
there because there's an awning to shield us in case it rains, is windy or too
sunny. However, on this occasion, climbing high after filling our hands with
sodas and treats, along with our injuries, caused much chaos trying to work our
way to our seats. Other fans graciously tried to help us through the maze. Dylan
and I were laughing so hard trying to maneuver our way up the stairs that we
had to stop several times.
The game was amazing as the Yankees scored
and the Red Sox didn't. We didn't want any surprises this time and began to
have confidence that this game would be a winner. Highlights from the game
included Hiroki Kuroda pitching a scoreless game and Ichiro Suzuki scoring two
home runs, ending in a 4-0 victory. Now, that's what I'm talking about!
This time the trip home was even
sweeter...until we arrived at the train station where screaming fans waited by
the schedule board, looking for the number of which departure track we should
board to get home. Only minutes before the train was scheduled to leave was the
track number posted. Needless to say it was mayhem trying to keep my son's
shoulder shielded as I clung to him down the stairs. We squeezed into a seat
while many others weren't so lucky.
As people were scrambling, a dad yelled,
"Could someone please move over so my son can sit down. He has a broken
foot?" At that time, someone else yelled, "There's a few guys
throwing up in the back of the train." The train didn't move for about 40
minutes--and still the boy with a broken foot was standing. I looked across
from us, and there was an open seat between a woman and a young man who was in
& out of his drunken stupor. His head kept falling on to the shoulder of
the woman (who he didn't know) next to him. And she wasn't happy about it.
Again, the dad pleaded for someone to let
his injured son sit down. So, as an advocate for children and having an injured
son too, I stood-up and said, "let this boy sit down NOW!" The woman
sitting next to the drunken boy moved over and let the young man sit down. He
made an immediate friend when the inebriated boy now snuggled up to him. We
were all laughing, and I asked him if I could take his picture for my blog,
which I included.
another Yankee Clipper ride with me and my boy by my side!
So, I’m walking on the NYC streets, feeling good about getting into the city early enough to be part of the studio audience, standingoutside the Good Morning America Show, which starts at 7am. Even though we arrived early by 6:30, there are already several rows of people, mostly tourists holding their place in the front rows, in the eye of the camera. Soon the crowd is going wild, but I have no idea why, so I ask a mom and daughter standing next to me what all the hoopla is about; she points to Sam Champion at the window as he’s going over the weather. Naturally, my girlfriend and I join in the clamor.
After Champion leaves, we all just wait idly as the Robin gets her make-up freshened and the show gets ready to air. Robin looks absolutely stunning in a tangerine, fitted silk dress. I have no idea how far back into the audience the camera will get, but I have inkling that my spot in the back row is equivalent to being in Siberia. Soon one of the cast members comes out and the crowd goes wild. I don’t know who this TV personality is, nor do the spectators around me. But the women in the front row know who he is and go crazy. He hugs a few of them for photo shoots and even kisses a woman who is waving her hand like a fan to calm her frenzy. Honestly, I found him annoying because he was playing so much to the crowds and cameaa snapping. By many measures, he's an attractive guy, just not my type--with perfect hair and pasted smile.
I love the morning shows and realized that I haven’t promoted my book for moms in this venue. Since I’m not a famous TV personality, it’s been one of the most challenging tasks to get MommyBest in the forefront of big shows, especially when I have undertaken other professional endeavors to make a living. Sometimes, it’s very discouraging when mediocre stories written by stars become best sellers when beautifully, well written prose gets lost on the shelves because the authors are “unknown.” Only other writers will understand and feel this disappointment.
The camera light turns on again, and the crowd goes wild; my friend and I hold my book, MommyBest: 13 Inspirational Lessons…up in the air for the camera to share to millions of views around the world—if the camera ever makes it to us. Suddenly a policewoman nudges me and asks, “What is it that you’re holding in the air?” I got a little worried that I may be doing something wrong, as I did go to Catholic school a few years and, like a little girl, still worry anytime someone in “authority” questions me. So, I shared my book with her and the main reason my friend and I came: to share my book with Robin and America. Since I don’t have a platform as Bethany or any of the supposed "Real Housewives" do, I wanted to reach out to a few of the talk shows to share my book. I even had a note to Robin. The policewoman,” Katie,” smiles at me, and like an angel, asked the security guard to give Robin my book & note. He, along with the producer who came out, promised me they would give it to her. I hope they did:)
I had an awesome conversation with Katie. I learned she was originally from Brooklyn, now working in Harlem and that she didn’t have any kids of her own, but had a niece. How great of her to do that for me, especially since I found out that the camera wasn’t recording the back row. Katie was helping many of the viewers in finding where to stand, along with fielding many questions from lost tourists. She is one of New York's finest.
Eventually, Robin did come outside. But she too only got to chat with the front row, so my friend and I decided we didn’t want to stand for another hour and would leave the show early to later come back for the backstage tour I signed us up for. Before leaving I asked one of the staff what time the tour began and he said there were no tours that day due to additional tapings for other shows. He invited us to come to Good Afternoon America. But my friend and I were heading to some other sights; first among them was the Museum for Motherhood. I wanted to share my book with them as well.
Once we arrived at the museum on the East Side, I realize it’s closed on Mondays. Knowing I probably should have checked ahead of time, I sighed as I left my business card under the door. Disappointed but not defeated my friend and I decided to get breakfast; as I crossed the street, within an instant my life changed before my eyes. Suddenly, I was on the ground, barely able to life my head or body, both in pain from being slammed to the ground. Cars were coming towards me, so my survival instincts kicked in, and I mustered all my strength and painfully got up from a deep hole in the ground, to limp a few steps to the nearby phone poll. I hugged the pole as the entire world began to spin and go dark. I felt as if I was going to vomit.For the first time, I felt like those characters in movies before they black out into oblivion.
“Call 911,” I whimpered to my friend. “I need an ambulance.” For an instant, I felt like I might die as the world was spinning out of control. I was clinging to a phone pole as tight as pantyhose adhere to a woman's leg.And I thought about my family and tears streamed down my face. Then, as ridiculous as this sounds, I remembered what a mess my bedroom was and that my entire house was in disarray—and that I didn’t want anyone to go through my things when they’re so disorganized.My mind raced as I thought about how disappointed my younger son would be because I was supposed to take him and his friend to Lake Compounce the next day, and now wouldn’t be able to honor my promise.
The ambulance came and my mind was in a fog. I thought of a great headline. “A mom fell flat on her face in Manhattan today.” I have fallen many times in so many aspects of my life, but this time I literally fell to my feet. I so wanted to start the day over again. It was only a little after 9am, still early morning, but the day would last an eternity once I arrived at the hospital.
I went back to my hometown for fireworks on July 4th to share a little bit of what my experience as a teenager was on this celebration of Independence, something my now 14 & 15 year-old boys constantly tell me I don’t give them enough of.
One of our family traditions has become eating dinner out someplace we’ve never eaten before in the tri-state area prior to viewing a fireworks celebration on the Hudson River watching from NY or NJ or, if we stay local, in Westchester at places like the Kensico Dam in Valhalla.
For this year’s holiday, we found a diner in Tarrytown open and tried some Greek dishes before traveling over the TZ Bridge during an awesome light celebration orchestrated by Mother Nature herself. Lightning danced across the sky and burst into some thunderous echoes. I wasn’t sure if the show was still on, but we continued into Pearl River, parking at Pearl River Lanes, a place I am all too familiar with as one of our haunts during my teenage years. The owners didn’t like my friends and I (& our boyfriends) hanging out there smooching most of the night. I honestly think I bowled there only once out of the hundreds of times I loitered.
As I walked amongst swarms of mostly teenagers who filled the streets--chatting away--I was transported back to the times my girlfriends and I were those young, vibrant girls ready to conquer the world and never imagining becoming our parents age or sharing stories of “when I was a kid, I used to…..” Yet, here I was now; alongside my younger self as if no time had passed with the knowledge that decades had gone by. I felt like joining in with the young girls giggling and wondering if any of the boys they liked were going to be at the fireworks. I tried to be inconspicuous as I eavesdropped, but when I turned to look at my girlfriend to add my thoughts, I instead saw my two sons stoically maneuvering alongside my husband through the crowds while engaging in their own teenage banter.
So, I was in one of those solo moments when no one but myself would truly understand the mixed emotions I felt. At first, I wondered why I felt all these intense feelings when I have been back to Pearl River on so many visits with my children throughout their baby through toddler and now into teenage years. And I realized that it was for a few reasons: I have always visited my parent’s home for celebrations, and when we went to any town events such as the St. Patrick’s Day parade, my children were younger so I was focused on making sure they were safe and enjoying themselves. Hence, it was truly a family experience. Additionally, I didn’t move to Pearl River until I was in 6th grade, so my memories are connected to those challenging, middle to high school years, which I associate with so much on a visceral level and with keen recognition.
By the time we reached Central Avenue, there were more people than I’ve ever seen at this event during my childhood, and there were so many teenagers. It truly looked like a picture perfect town to raise children with all the quaint shops and family fanfare. So, I understood why an associate who I befriended while teaching shared her long-held dream of moving to Pearl River to raise her family, which she is currently doing. Yes, she is of Irish descent and was wooed, in part, by the grand St. Patrick’s Day Parade. I must confess that when she shared this dream with me many years ago, I confided that I had spent enough time in Pearl River that, several years after college, I yearned to start a new life somewhere else. Still, there is a part of my heart and my soul that will always belong to PR.
As I watched the lights explode into the night sky, my 15-year-old looked over at me as if he sensed some of my ambivalence and asked, “Mom, is it weird for you to be here, the place where you grew-up?” “Yes, it is. So much is familiar, and yet unfamiliar, if that makes sense.” I told my kids how I used to go to what we called the “Center,” a youth recreational facility that we basically partied at or went to after we partied (21 years old of course lol). The times hanging out at Franklin School with friends and boyfriends. My kids laughed and actually shared how they were going to always visit where they grew-up with their kids and I smiled.
As the celebration continued, so many memories flooded my mind, and of course, they were the ones that were filled with explosive emotions of happy times with my best friends who I will always be grateful to Pearl River for meetingJ. Celebrating in Washington for our Senior Trip, our proms and late night escapades are cemented in my mind, along with some of the sad times I experienced leaving my friends in the Bronx. My twin sister and I had a challenging time acclimating to PR with some of the “mean” girls who didn’t accept us at first because we are identical twins. Additionally, a few of the older girls were extremely mean to me when I dated an upperclassmen, so they would actually ask him on dates etc. while I was with him. It was very hurtful, but I knew even at that young age, that this was their issue, not mine.Later on, like anyone or anything that is “different,” we found ourselves and developed lasting friendships with those who cherished us as we cherished them.
I even fell in love for the first time living in PR and there’s a whirlwind of elation and heartache that I, like everyone else in this life, experienced as part of growing-up
Now, as my own children are of this age, I know they will be living all of these wondrous and challenging moments too, and it makes me both joyful and sad. Even though I'm a parent, I still feel like a kid at times, and now I have to let my children grow-up too.
I realize life is like the fireworks display, isn’t it? Where there once were bright, vivid colorful, fiery images mere seconds ago, there are now only remnants of specs of light trickling down, beyond our grasp; like time passing, they slip through our hands. But if we close our eyes, we can still see, feel and celebrate the beauty we experienced and set the painful moments sailing into the sky.
An excerpt from The Journey toward Motherhood, from the book, MommyBest...
Since I was absolutely positive I would be having a girl, it was the biggest surprise of my life when I gave birth to a son.
The instant I held him, I felt a bond like no other—a bond that reached into the depths of my soul, beyond expression, beyond comprehension.I realized along with a baby, a mother had been born-- a parent was in the making.
As I looked into my son’s innocent eyes, I knew I had always been destined to become a mother, even though I hadn’t been ready to acknowledge this while I was achieving all the goals I was determined to accomplish.I was too scared of losing my own identity and too busy proving I was someone “more” and something “else.”
Although I had taken a different road than the one my mother followed toward motherhood, I realized we both arrived at our destinations on time-- the time that was right for each of us.We are two women, similar in some ways and different in others, somewhat products of the eras that we grew--up in, somewhat products of our unique personas.
Now, as I listen to my music, my heart soars as I dream dreams for my son:
Who will he become?What will he enjoy doing?Which paths will he follow? How shall I guide him?How will he guide me?
As his mother, I am embarking upon an amazing journey-- like no other journey I’ve been on-- one toward true self-discovery!I begin this journey with a deep love, gratitude and respect for one who has traveled through the precarious terrain and rough waters of motherhood before me, my own mother.I understand her sacrifice and love –and now perceive her as a woman of greatness for all she has given to her children.
I also recognize I am becoming more of an independent person by pursuing my dreams-as my son has helped me to find a new voice in my writing. I must bring to him the best person I can be first, and then I’ll be the best Mommy to him-- when my choices reflect who I am at any given moment in my life.No matter which direction my path turns, I am a mother.I am Derek’s Mom—now and forever!
This story is dedicated to the mom who sent it to me. She and her family recently lost their dog after he suffered from seizures and, among other illnesses, cancer. So this post is dedicated to "Snuggles" and all the love he brought into their family. They took such good care of him and he loved them. How do I know this? I witnessed first-hand some of the magical, heartwarming moments they shared...and the amazing "connection" dogs have with their families. RIP, "Snuggles."
This really isa greatstory!
Anyone who has pets will really like this. You'll like it even if you don't and you may even decide you need one! Mary and her husband Jim had a dog named 'Lucky.' Lucky was a real character. Whenever Mary and Jim had company come for a weekend visit they would warn their friends to not leave their luggage open because Lucky would help himself to whatever struck his fancy. Inevitably, someone would forget and something would come up missing.
Mary or Jim would go to Lucky's toy box in the basement and there the treasure would be, amid all of Lucky's other favorite toys. Lucky always stashed his finds in his toy box and he was very particular that his toys stay in the box.
It happened that Mary found out she had breast cancer. Something told her she was going to die of this disease......in fact; she was just sure it was fatal.
She scheduled the double mastectomy, fear riding her shoulders. The night before she was to go to the hospital she cuddled with Lucky. A thought struck her....what would happen to Lucky? Although the three-year-old dog liked Jim, he was Mary's dog through and through.
If I die, Lucky will be abandoned, Mary thought. He won't understand that I didn't want to leave him! The thought made her sadder than thinking of her own death.
The double mastectomy was harder on Mary than her doctors had anticipated and Mary was hospitalized for over two weeks. Jim took Lucky for his evening walk faithfully, but the little dog just drooped, whining and miserable.
Finally the day came for Mary to leave the hospital. When she arrived home, Mary was so exhausted she couldn't even make it up the steps to her bedroom. Jim made his wife comfortable on the couch and left her to nap.
Lucky stood watching Mary but he didn't come to her when she called. It made Mary sad but sleep soon overcame her and she dozed. When Mary woke for a second she couldn't understand what was wrong. She couldn't move her head and her body felt heavy and hot. But panic soon gave way to laughter when Mary realized the problem. She was covered, literally blanketed, with every treasure Lucky owned!
While she had slept, the sorrowing dog had made trip after trip to the basement bringing his beloved mistress all his favorite things in life. He had covered her with his love.
Interestingly enough, something unexpected happened to me when I watched The Reunion, Part 3 of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. After getting most of my work done for my job as a Writer and a Mom/Wife, I nestled into my favorite sweats and cuddled onto the couch with my dog for some long overdue entertainment. It wasn't long before I found myself checking e-mails and folding laundry while watching. I was BORED.
What did I find so monotonous? It wasn't the clothes, hair or make-up which overall looked spot on. Loved all their shoes. Enjoyed some of the snide comments and banter...but I was there and done that with the interactions and pettiness of the conversation. And the truth is we all knew that Kim had a drinking problem at the very least, so Andy's interview with her wasn't as revealing as BRAVO must have thought it would be.
The bottom line for me is this: Kyle and Kim's relationship as sisters is real and one that all siblings can relate to. In the midst of all this BS and TV farce, the one REAL element in this show is the struggles, hardships and bouts with happiness that family experiences. Like Kyle and Kim, families stick together in times of struggles and celebrate in times of triumph.
This is why I truly understood the heartache that Kyle felt when Kim was absent during much of the Hawaiian trip because, regardless of all the "friends" who accompanied them, a sister's presence trumps them all. It's also why I understood Kyle's protectiveness and defensiveness when others, Brandi, in particular,were criticizing her sister. And why I totally get how embarrassing it was for Kyle when Kim didn't show up to events or even respond. A sister's love is a visceral thing, stronger than bonds we make with most, if not all, of the friends we make in a lifetime. It's a relationship as complex as those super, carbohydrate foods in the health store, yet as simple as sharing a chocolate ice cream cone with the sweetness of chocolate sprinkles--and a cherry on top!
I have a guilty pleasure in watching the "Real" housewives shows, except for the DC and Miami lack luster seasons, which I couldn't even bring myself to view more than twice. Like all moms, I'm busy juggling career and home, so I watch as much as I am able to. For awhile, I liked the NY wives the best because I am a New Yorker and, like several of those housewives, tell it like it is. I can't stand phonies and there are plenty of them where I live, especially if they are trying to get an opportunity for their kids.
But, an unexpected favorite of mine has become the Beverly Hills version because I feel (and I may be wrong) that the characters are less scripted than the other shows and are a bit more "real."
Still, part of the lure for me, and I suspect for most moms, is the realization that all these "REAL Housewives" are so far from reality that we use them as a means of escaping to a different planet and vicariously living some of their outlandish experiences. I also have my favs, liking and loathing a few. My least favorite housewives are Brandi (Beverly Hills); NeNe (Atlanta); Gretchen (Orange County) and The Countess (NY). I believe each one of these women is so self absorbed she will do anything to get what she thinks she deserves, and that includes your husband and kids. Right now, Lisa Vanderpump, you truly better watch your step and I'm not referring to those new pumps you're wearing, but rather to being kicked by Brandi's pumps as she desperately tries to lure your husband to assume your matriarch role of fabulous.
The recent episode of Brandi strutting around with a dental floss bathing suit showcased her insecurities and narcissistic need for attention. Yes, she has a nice body, a little thin and flat-chested in my humble opinion. But, I know from the years when I looked my bathing suit best, I was humble about it, especially not trying to flaunt my youth to older moms and, most despicable, is her constant attempt to seduce their husbands. Brandi's crude comments, sexual innuendos and ruthless remarks were evident in the first Reunion show last week. I'm going to watch the Reunion, Part 2 now, so I have to go...
*sorry if I misspelled any of the housewife's names, but I'm in a rush...to be continued......................