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Archive for August, 2009

I sent my first child off to college in August of 2003, the next in 2006, and the next in 2007.  Sending kids to college is old hat to this old mom.  However, sending this one was going to be harder.  She is the baby girl, the youngest girl in our family, and always the youngest in her class.  She will turn 18 next Tuesday, the day after she starts classes.  We were both expecting it to be horrible.  She said, “you’re going to have to peel me off you like you did when I went to kindergarten when you leave.”  “Um, Kelly,” I said, “I never had to peel you off me when you started kindergarten.”

And i didn’t have to peel her off yesterday either.

After we finally talked to the people in financial aid and the bursar’s office and financial aide and the bursars office and financial aide again, we were a little stressed out, but I managed not to pop an aneurysm, and much like in other areas of her life, Kelly was sort of like what? what is going on? why is this stressful? I am not stressed.  Also, thanks in no small part to her older sister who is a UMHB alum, she landed a SWEET work study gig in IT, or as they are calling it now InfoTech.  I am not sure she realizes how lucky she is in this regard, but when she realizes that that sweet gig will last her whole career at UMHB, she will.

Anyway, after a quick bite at Jalisco’s we were back on campus to get the girls back for their 4 o’clock meet and greet with their family groups.  UMHB does an amazing job of getting these kids hooked up with small groups and getting them involved.  While she did that, Casey and I went back to the room to try and make some sense out of it, which included putting the all important Twilight posters up. Since Casey has lived in that very house, she was moving desks and the refrigerator and the bunks around like tetris pieces until she was happy with the outcome.  By the time we were finished, there was floor, there was a place for her food, there was a set up desk, and it was good.

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With our work done, there was nothing left to do than the inevitable. It was time to leave. Hugs and kisses all around and she walked us out, more hugs and kisses and we were off…Go Cru! 5780_119512862858_504222858_2195822_2694282_s (she is holding up the “C” for Cru, which is short for “Crusaders,” which is their mascot). 

Nary a tear was shed in this whole process, short of the ones I shed on the way down there when those two hateful children told me the story of the The Giving Tree which rendered me practically useless for a few minutes. 

Also, how in the world have I raised five children and not read that book? Seriously?  The only thing I can think of is that I got wind it was as bad as I Love You Forever and just steered all the way clear of the evil thing.

When Casey and I were nearly home I said “Thank you for going with me to take Kelly to college today,” and she said

“Thank you for not making it painful.”

Which, as a mom, is sort of my job.

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I have a friend whose ex-husband and his whole family are from somewhere in the high mountains of Virginia.  Oh, the stories he would tell of these “mountain people” who hoard canned goods and bury their dead in the sides of mountains and believe that Campho-Phenique cures everything from fever blisters to malignant melanoma.  If at any point in time you were at their house and say, you accidentally cut your finger off, well…they were going to put some Campho-Phenique on it.  It was their magic potion that made everything all better. 

Which is exactly what beer was to me for the better portion of the last decade or so. 

Happy?  Have a beer.

Anxious?  Have some beer.

Stressed out?  Have a keg of beer!!!

Beer was my Campho-Phenique.

I have purposely not really said much about the specifics of why the party stopped here at the Casa, as I didn’t really feel like it was my story to tell.  In my mind, it seemed that I was just the Best Supporting Actress at the party.  I rationalized a lot of things. I told myself that of course this was okay since in my previous life all that fun stuff was as tightly controlled as a high fashion model’s caloric intake.  I told myself if the fun was becoming a little problematic, and I first realized it was back in 2005…(or 2003 when we stopped wearing watches and started wearing flip flops all the time after our South Padre Island vacay and went on permanent vacay mode in the backyard), it was okay because hey, i wasn’t locking myself out of the house in the middle of the night or falling overboard like meg ryan in “When a Man Loves a Woman.”

We were just having fun.

And it was fun.

I’m not even going to lie.  It was fun and it was a very meaningful time of my life.  I think I will call it the Backyard Era since that is where we practically lived…and if it was summer, you could take away the practically and just say lived.

Some years ago, when Robert Downey Jr. was on Inside the Actor’s Studio, I heard him say something that struck something in me.  It was back when I first started paying attention to the fact that perhaps we were tiptoeing into very deep water.  He said:

“to say it got in the way would be to say that what i was expressing did not have validity for the suffering that i chose to put myself through. if it is all for nothing, then it is a tragedy and if you put it down and move on, then it is a way just to demonstrate that that is something that occurs and there is really really really nothing that anybody can’t survive as long as they survive.”

Reading that, I can’t really tell you what exactly it was about that that struck such a chord for me…perhaps that whole “as long as they can survive” part. 

Because here is what I knew.  Substance abuse, of one sort or the other, is prominent in our families.  Two of my uncles, one of whom became my father, were alcoholics big-time.  My dad/uncle died in his 50s and my uncle Ray is 70-something and has drank away his whole life and everything he owns in the world can fit in a few boxes.  The more I saw their faces in my mind, the less fun the party was for me…then a lot less fun…and then i was just like oh ferpetesake can we just stop this already?

And then Rob got sick and suddenly, in an instant, drinking was not an option anymore.  So I stopped too  (I also quit smoking which he has not yet, but my arms starts hurting if I start patting myself on the back too much about it) and our lives were instantly and profoundly transformed.

So, as it turns out, this was my story to tell…I mean, not saying out loud that I think I had a drinking problem didn’t change for a minute the fact that I did. 

Okay already. The point.

As I said last time, lately I’ve been feeling a little like a wet dish towel.  Out of the blue, I will cry.

Then I will stop.

I call it hitting emotional air pockets. 

I also laugh a lot. So, so much. I laugh a lot with my children. I relish in the times we are together and laughing. I hope that when they are old they will relish those memories, too, of us all around the dining room table…laughing. 

See, what has happened over these last nine months of my beer-free life is that I have learned to feel things again, and in this next year, I am going to experience taking my 17-year-old to start college, the college graduation of my beloved Longhorn, and the marriage of my oldest daughter and I am going to do it all without putting beer on it.

A friend of ours came by to bring some brisket last night (because that’s what we do in Texas…we comment on our neighbor’s facebook about how whatever he’s cooking sure smells good and BAM…knock knock knock…and you got yourself some brisket) and we got to talking, really for the first time since we put down the cans, and he just was looking at me all….like…not to be corny, but with wonder, which made me go all WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT DO I HAVE A BOOGER!?!?! 

But as it turns out, he was just noticing how happy I seemed, how smiley, how serene.

How nice is that to hear?

Specially since the next buncha months are going to be a lot about having a new freshman in college, lord help us all, and Reagan getting ready to jet off to New York City forever leaving me here in the Texas dirt, and wedding colors and bridesmade dresses and flowers and my firstborn walking down the aisle and leaving me here in the Texas dirt, and there are going to be plenty of times when I don’t necessarily feel happy or smiley or serene…

but the point is that I am going to feel.

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understatement much?

Wow. It’s the 11th. Of August. How’d that happen? Gah. I have some catching up to do.

To put it simply, there is a lot going on in my life…if  by “a lot,” I mean so many big things…HUGE things…not like a new refrigerator or a new dog or a new job….those are all things I’ve talked about before.  Those things are easy to talk about.  Those things have preloaded adjectives like SHINY or SWEET or AWESOME and make for a quick blogpost:

GOT A NEW FRIG!  IT IS SHINY AND SWEET AND AWESOME. WOOT! <insert picture here>

The “a lot” going on now is the sort of “a lot” that makes me stand at the kitchen sink washing dishes and think a lot.  I also think a lot before I go to sleep at night…while I’m driving…while I’m at Walmart…while I clean house.  My brain has been like a refrigerator full of those word magnets and i am constantly manipulating in order to get what all is up in there out…and what always happens is that I get the first sentence and…the next thought pops in and I’m done.  It is exactly like someone has the remote control to my brain and is a channel flipper like Rob…they leave it on one thing just long enough for me to think of a sweet, poignant way to talk about how my baby girl is leaving for college and FLIP…we move on to NYC Prep…FLIP…get more coffee…FLIP…work.

It is very annoying.

That said, I better get on with it and catch y’all up…in bullets.

  • I am going to be the mother of the bride.  My oldest daughter, The Teacher, and her long-time BF, who for a long time we referred to as Not the Boyfriend, are getting married next summer! 

He is a Marine and stationed in Japan, so a few weeks back she went over to visit and he proposed on the beach…in the rain <swoon>.  When she got back, she came over with all the Japanese schwag she brought us and we talked wedding for a long time and she passed right out on the big couch in the den.  I sat there across from her…this big girl all sprawled out, sleeping the sleep of someone who just lost 12 hours on a plane ride across the water, and just watched her sleep.  Like I used to do when she was a baby, leaning over the side of the crib, amazed at what a beautiful baby she was…awed over the fact that she was mine.  And I kept thinking where did that baby go?  Then I remembered this book I used to read to her called “Where Did the Baby Go?”  The next day I went tearing through stuff, trying to find it, but couldn’t. Somehow we kept a lot of lame-O kid books and sent THAT ONE to the book program at school. GRR.  So, I ordered a new one.  I will probably write something on an amazingly sappy card about how she will always be my baby and how when she reads it to her baby girl of the future, she should always remember how fast she is going to grow up and how she should treasure each moment with her.

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hang on. I have to get some tissues.

See, that’s another thing.  I am soooooooooooo soggy lately.  Yesterday I was reading a wall-to-wall between my Longhorn and her childhood friend, Hunter, who is also going to be a Longhorn this year, and I GOT ALL TEARY for petesake.  I’ve taken to just walking around with a dish towel over my shoulder to wipe myself up after each emotional air pocket I hit or that Walmart commercial about the kid going to college…which leads me to bullet #2.

  • Next Wednesday, I will be making that drive down 35W with my baby girl to drop her off at UMHB so she can start another chapter in the book of Kelly. 

She is 17 and acts 17 and sometimes will languish about, forgetting to feed herself or drink or move or blink, so I worry about things like if she will remember to eat.  Dane is younger than her, but she is definitely ‘the baby.’  She will be rooming with her BFF Joelle, and her oldest sister is a junior there, so I won’t worry quite as much, but it is definitely going to be weird just leaving her there…like really? am I just going to LEAVE HER THERE?  And I will probably write something on an amazingly sappy card about how proud I am of her and as is my tradition, I will choose a song lyric.  The one I have chosen for her is by John Mayer, Great Indoors…

so go unlock the door
and find what you are here for
leave the great indoors
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And I will cry when I write it and have to wipe up with the wet dish towel I have on my shoulder.

  • The Longhorn is back from New York and ready to start Senior year in Austin. 

I am so proud of that one.  She lived in New York all summer and will be going there to live after graduation, which makes me all like YAY YOU DID IT YOU ROCKED COLLEGE at the same time as I’m all like CRAP COLLEGE IS OVER AND YOU ARE GOING TO LIVE IN NEW YORK CITY WHICH IS FAR FAR AWAY FROM ME. 

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Wipe. Wipe.

I am tempering the sadness of  her moving with the fact that I can go visit and stalk Robert Pattinson and on the way home stop over and see Casey and Lincoln wherever they are going to be stationed, which leads me to bullet #4.

  • Immediately upon becoming a married woman, my oldest child will pack all her stuff and move.

Move far, far away to another state to be someone’s WIFE for petesake.  So, while I’m all like WOOHOO WEDDING PLANNING IS SO FUN LOOK AT THE PRETTY FLOWERS AND THE CAKE, OMG THE CAKE…I’m also realizing that she won’t be down the street anymore and I expect after the wedding it will be like after Christmas, when it is all over and you are standing in the middle of the room with all the boxes and paper and everyone has taken their toys to the other room…and it will be all over and she will be  GONEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

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West Virginia, that’s where.

  • Rachel, my adorable, angelic, soon-to-be vegetarian stepdaughter, is heading to UMHB today. 

Her purple go-car is loaded to the hilt and she will hit the highway after she says bye to her daddy when he comes home for lunch.  There have been times over the years that I’ve almost resented the relationship those two have, but now I just think how lucky they are to have each other.  He loves me, but she is and will always be his little buddy.  She was when she was 2 and she will be when she is 30.  She “gets” him and he her.  She’s a sweetheart, that one.

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  • My baby boy, my youngest chiild, is about to be 11.  E-LEV-EN.  Please, someone, anyone, tell me how 11 years have gone by? 

He is going to be in 5th grade,  then in middle school, THEN IN HIGH SCHOOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL.  GAH.

Oh, but this boy. He is so funny and so bright and he really gets me.  I’d always heard about how different relationships are with mothers and sons, but I only just “get it” recently.  I am having fun watching this one unfold and for now, other than the fact that he has gotten so big allasudden, I don’t have to get the dish towel.

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So, it occurred to me the other day that I didn’t have one single picture that wasn’t from christmas morning of all the kids together.  And it became very urgent for me to get one before they all scatter.  So, on what had to have been the hottest day of the year, we journeyed out to take one.  This one says it all.  WE’RE DONE. HEADING TO THE CAR. IT’S HOTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT.

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and then we raced to Sonic.

I can’t imagine my life without this amazing bunch of people.  How I got this lucky, I’ll never know.

Where’s my towel

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