Milestones Lost

I can’t stop thinking about the milestones she’ll miss.

Some that seem everyday-ordinary to us; some that are nothing less than extraordinary.

All around me lately, these milestones are being celebrated and announced.

First day of school

First steps … first words … first smile

First day without diapers

Thirteenth birthday

Leaving for college

24th wedding anniversary … 45th wedding anniversary … 50th wedding anniversary …

5 years cancer-free

And as these milestones are being shouted and celebrated, I keep thinking what about her milestones?

She’s been fighting for her life this whole summer, since she gave birth to her second daughter nine weeks ago.

Nine weeks.

And this past weekend, she lost her battle with an aggressive cancer. A disease that doesn’t discriminate or care who it takes on. No matter if your family, friends, and little girls need you; cancer doesn’t care.

This woman is only an acquaintance to me. She is a very close friend of one of my very dearest friends, and my heart is heavy and raw with pain for her loss.

Do we ever really know that we’ll see that next milestone? How much time do we waste waiting for it to come? Or how many daily milestones go uncelebrated because we are waiting for that really big one?

Two women who are very dear to me lost their husbands after 19 years of marriage. I’m sure they were focused ahead, to that 20 year mark that seems so much bigger and grander.

My 24th wedding anniversary is next week and I find myself thinking about what we’ll do next year, when it’s 25. As if each passing day being married to my best friend isn’t reason enough to celebrate.

The milestones, they keep coming. Some grander than others, but still.

What about hers?

Do We Have Time?

They are displayed right at her eye level. Almost a tease.

She is drawn to the colorful display of braided bracelets in the Juniors department. They are much too large for her delicate wrist, but that smile begs to try them on anyway.

Yes, we have time…go ahead, pile them on. How many can you wear at once?

Plenty of time.

When you are four years old, the pressures of schedule and time mean nothing to you. And really why should they?

From one store at the mall to another; so many things for her to admire and chat about.

Sunglasses? Sure you can try them on.

Plenty of time.

My almost-thirteen year-old daughter helps her try them on.

Huge lenses framing a tiny angel’s face make me smile and remind me that those faces don’t stay tiny for long.

How in the space of nine short years has my daughter morphed from a four year-old into a young lady?

She gently holds the little one’s hand as they wander the stores.

Stiletto heels in a leopard print? My daughter helps miniature feet balance in them, just long enough for the little girl’s mommy to see.

Both mommies smile.

But that mommy part deep inside me? Holds back some tears.

Did I take the time, those nine years ago, to try on the bracelets? To let her wobble in stilettos and be silly in huge sunglasses?

Didn’t I know we didn’t really have that much time?

Or was the schedule and the list of To-Do’s that much more important to me?

My memory is faded; maybe I don’t remember these little things anymore.

I have to believe that I took the time with her to smell the flowers, taste the chocolate, try on the grown-up shoes.

But I always thought we had plenty of time for that.

Later.

We still have fun shopping; we always take something outrageous into the dressing room just for fun. I adore the young lady my daughter has become and I cherish these years more than she can imagine.

But that four year-old little girl who used to live down the hall is gone.

And I thought we had plenty of time.

If You Give a Dad a Daughter

If you give a dad a daughter…

he’ll probably wonder what to do with her.

Especially if he’s a man’s man.

So he’ll play catch with her, teach her to climb trees, and to ride a bicycle.

Which seem like things a girl wouldn’t like to do.

But she will.

He might wonder if she’ll be all emotional and hard to understand.

So he’ll be silly with her and hope for the best.

And she’ll throw it right back at him.

Tenfold.

And when they are teasing each other and being silly, it might remind him of a song.

So he’ll attempt to sing it to her; not necessarily in the right key.

Or with the right words.

Which will make him decide to look the lyrics up on the Internet.

While looking up the lyrics on their iPods, he’ll remember a funny video he saw on Youtube.

So he’ll show it to his daughter and they’ll laugh together.

Laughing will remind him that he’s thirsty.

So she’ll offer to make some iced tea, which they both love.

As they sit together on the couch enjoying their iced tea together, he’ll remember a show he taped from The Discovery Channel about a tea farm in China.

Which she won’t want to watch, but she’ll humor him and sit with him for a while.

Sitting next to him will make her relaxed, and she’ll cuddle up next to him.

Having her cuddled up next to him will remind him why he loves being a dad.

Which will make him wonder what he would ever do without her.

And so glad that you gave this dad a daughter.

One of my very favorite books to read to my daughter was If You Give a Mouse a Cookie …Happy Father’s Day, babe.

Booby Prize

Breasts.

Boobs, Hooters, Honkers, Gazongas, Mounds, Melons, Funbags, Happy sacs, rack, chest.

Whatever you call them, they’re just another body part, really.

They fill out our sweaters, feed our babies, catch crumbs from our lunch, attempt to defy gravity, and distinguish us from men (usually).

My lunch crumbs fall directly onto my lap.

And whether we’re quite small up top or rather well-endowed, we all have very deep feelings about our girls.

Anyone who’s ever been called a member of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee knows all about the Wonderbra, chicken cutlets, and what Victoria’s Secret really is (padding).

They also know that clever way to hug yourself with your arms crossed that gives you instant cleavage.

At least I’ve heard you can do that.

Anyone who is rather well-endowed quite possibly has a hard time finding clothes that fit right, is familiar with wrapping them up in an ace bandage before going running, and wishes they could be small enough to squeeze into those secrets of Victoria’s.

For the most part, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about mine; we coexist just fine most of the time.

Not counting swimsuit season.

So my boobs? Don’t think about them too much.

Until my daughter came home from 7th grade last week freaking out about boobs.

Her class is starting the Reproductive Health unit in science, and to kick it off the girls had to watch a video on breast self-exams.

Which sounds informative. It’s useful information we all need to know, and should be way better than the video next week showing a woman giving birth. Which I think is perfect birth control, by the way.

So what’s the problem? you wonder.

Apparently the woman in the video demonstrating how to self-examine your breasts was old. Maybe even older than me, my daughter said.

With huge, saggy boobs that resembled pancakes.

My daughter had no clue things could get to that point. No clue.

It was like finding out the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus were frauds.

She’s terrified of the prospect of one day having boobs that look like plastic grocery bags full of Jello pudding.

Just hanging there.

“Couldn’t they have hired someone with normal boobs, mom? Someone younger? Ugh, it was disgusting!”

So we had a long conversation about normal and how the models in In Style magazine aren’t a representative sample of the population in general.

And how she’s got genetics on her side.

When your mother is a card-carrying member of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee, there are some things you’ll just never need to worry about.

As long as you have a Victoria’s Secret charge card.

Mirror Image

Who is this woman and what has she done with my youth?

It was just here a minute ago.

Or did I just set it down for a moment when I was at The Alibi? The Office on the Beach?

Maybe someone will turn it in to Lost and Found.

I may have taken a wrong turn at sunbathing in baby oil and spent too much time worrying and developing a scowl.

That’s the only explanation I can come up with.

I’ve tried to take good care of myself.

The younger me didn’t know how good she had it; knees that weren’t baggy, hair that didn’t require chemical intervention at six-week intervals, a jack-rabbit metabolism, and a face free of wrinkles and age spots.

This new woman? She follows me everywhere. Shows up in restaurant bathroom mirrors, reflections in the windows at Starbucks, all those fancy-schmancy mirrors in the Crate and Barrel store.

She looks a bit tired, takes longer to rise from a seated position, and her shoes may qualify as sensible.

It’s not my mother.

Because in those Crate and Barrel mirrors today? My mom was next to me on one side; my daughter beside me on the other.

There was no denying it today.

I am in that middle place.

In the middle where you can remember being your mommy’s little girl; going out shopping together or just hanging out.

Until that was no longer cool.

In the middle where you can still see the beginnings of your own motherhood journey; still remember holding those crying little ones and rocking them ever-so-gently.

In the middle where your kids become self-sufficient, busier with their own lives, less likely to need you for something.

In the middle where I can also see forward to my own mother’s life.

Kids grown, out on their own, no longer needing to worry about daily tasks of motherhood or trivial questions like peanut butter and jelly? or pink shirt or yellow?

This woman who stalks me? She’s not half bad.

She’s got a pretty good sense of humor, as long as you don’t ask her kids. She loves her family, likes a good pizza, a nice glass of wine, and plays a mean game of Scrabble.

And since she’s not going anywhere soon? I’ve come to like her.

But I still check the Lost and Found occasionally.

Driven to Insanity

After spending hundreds of dollars on a Driver’s Training course and surviving the required 50+ hours driving with parents, my son recently passed his driver’s test and became a card-carrying member of the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Which for teenagers is the height of awesomeness.

Subsequent to his passing this test, I became a card-carrying member of the Insane Moms Club.

As a public service, I’ve written a guide to keeping yourself busy during this stressful time when it comes up in your life.

You’re welcome.

How to Pass the Time While your Child is Out Driving Alone for the First Time
or
Is It Happy Hour Yet?

When your newly-licensed child asks to take the car out alone for the first time, smile and say, “Certainly! How fun that will be!” while the contents of your stomach begin a slow ascent towards your throat.

After handing over the keys remind him to drive safely, use his seat belt, and watch the speed limits. Force another smile and wave goodbye while biting the inside of your cheek to stop the tears.

And to stop the scream that’s forming deep in your chest from escaping your mouth.

Stand discretely by the frosted window at the front door, where he can’t see you watch him as he pulls away. Make a mental note to comment on how nicely he backed out of the driveway without hitting anyone or anything.

Say a prayer, clutch your rosary beads, consult the Magic 8 Ball, or whatever else you think may secure his safe return.

Wander aimlessly into his room and sit down on his bed. Wonder where the time went, then wonder why his socks don’t always make it into the hamper. Decide not to spend much time in this particular part of the house.

Decide to take your spice rack alphabetizing to a whole new level and alphabetize the spices in the pantry as well. Distract yourself with a rousing self-discussion on how to alphabetize the different salts properly and whether or not to include Epsom with Kosher, Garlic, and Sea.

Distract yourself with odd jobs you never have time for. Like trying to get all those crumbs out of the cracks on the kitchen table. Or trimming small bits of carpet that stick up higher than the others.

Sit at the kitchen table (which happens to face the driveway) and pretend to be busy blogging.

When pretending to blog doesn’t work, turn to Twitter for solace of other moms.

Remember that most Twitter moms you know have little kids and you’ve just given them something else to worry about in advance. Log off Twitter.

Start wondering how long it would take for the police to call you if he’d been in an accident.

Check for a dial tone on the phone to make sure it’s actually working.

Try not to panic when the phone actually rings, and the first thing you hear is, “Hi, this is Steve Anderson with the Cal….” and you’re pretty sure he will say California Highway Patrol. But he doesn’t. (this actually happened: he was calling from the Cal Poly Pomona admissions office. Whew).

Once your heart stops beating 167 beats per minute, check the time again and realize that he’s almost due home. Notice that it’s also getting dark, and mutter something aloud about turning on the headlights at dusk and reciting the vehicle code that mandates that.

Shuffle around the pile of mail on the counter. Sort it at least seven different ways (size? alphabetically? smell?) while continuing to casually look out the front window at the empty driveway.

When the car appears in the driveway and isn’t being pulled by a tow truck, move away from the window and seat yourself on the couch. Grab a book, wipe the sweat from your forehead, and pretend to be relaxing.

When teenager finally comes through the front door, smile and say, “Hi Honey! Did you have fun?” while wondering if it’s too early for a glass of wine.

Repeat as many times as necessary until you get used to the fact that he’s really driving.

Alone.