Me, My Mother, and a Whole Lot of Coffee

When you have kids, they always seem to collect one thing that seems to take over all your living space to the point that you want to kill anyone who gives them another one. With my daughter, it was stuffed animals. Every time she got a new one I wanted to stuff it down the throat of the person who gave it to her.

In the vein of ‘things never change’ my own mother is still going through that with me, only now it’s my collection of coffee mugs.

My mother babysits for me all the time. She actually does more than that – she is there for me all of the time, for whatever I need and whenever I need it. I always manage to work jobs that have crazy hours; she pretty much takes my place at home when I’m working. That includes washing my dishes.

I don’t have a dishwasher – well, technically I suppose I do, but Mom hates when I call her that.

Her biggest bitch is about the amount of coffee cups I have. When my daughter is out for any extended period of time, it’s almost a certainty that all the ‘dishes’ in my sink will be coffee cups.

People tend to give me coffee mugs as gifts. That happens when people know you drink a lot of coffee.

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The same thing happens when people know you wear tiaras.

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Every time I get a new mug, she starts yelling about how much space they take up. With my ‘older’ perspective, it’s actually quite funny.

Just like old times.

The thing is, I can’t get rid of any of them. They all mean something to me and usually have a story attached.

This one offends my daughter. Even if I hated it (and I don’t), that’s reason enough to keep it.

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This one was part of a set of four that my grandmother owned. My siblings and I each got one after she passed. Drinking from it is like having coffee with Grandma.

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I got a new one two weeks ago while on vacation at Old Orchard Beach, ME. The story behind it is a little longer because it started last year.

For some reason, I wake up very early when I’m on vacation. The last three years in OOB I’ve been getting up in time to catch the sunrise on the beach. The first year my best friends and our kids and I went to Maine together we stayed in a small unit of one house. Last year and this year we got a bigger unit; the same one for this year and last. I had a HUGE problem last year with the coffee cups in the cabinet: they were teeny tiny. I would pour a cup that I would finish drinking before I walked the 15 steps to the sand. Before the week was over, I was on a quest to find the perfect coffee mug for my beach sunrise mornings.

(And I mean “quest”. Everyone heard me complaining about the lack of a decent coffee cup. Mom was there a few days with us, and she heard it, too.)

My best friend Donna found THE mug three days before we went home. We each got the same mug, just a different color.

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The mug WAS perfect – until we got home. One pass thru Donna’s dishwasher and two passes through ‘my’ dishwasher and the logo washed off! We couldn’t believe it!

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These cups are from 1985 and 1988 (they are dated on the bottom), and they are perfect!

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When it was time to go on vacation this year, I was tempted to bring a coffee mug. I had overpacked again, and because of that I almost didn’t pack the mug. It was Mom who reminded me how … uptight I had been the previous year about the coffee mugs. I had actually forgotten until I got there and opened the cabinet and saw the cups that were there – and it all came back to me in a flash. I was grateful I did bring my own. (Thank you, Mom.)

Of course, Donna and I discussed how bummed we were about last year’s mugs. When Donna found this new one, I went out and bought one, too (a different color). The logo is in the ceramic; it won’t wash off!

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Mom was unable to come up to Maine this year, so she did not know I got a new mug.

Because life is life I went back to work after we came home, and Mom was back at my house washing dishes. Of course, she noticed the new coffee mug. I was actually surprised that she didn’t start bitching. Well, she did, but then stopped herself when she realized that the logo wasn’t going to wash off. She actually sanctioned this one because of that! “You DO need your souvenir, and you had to replace the other one.” Wow!

This mug is now extra special to me; it matches one my best friend has, it’s a souvenir of a special place, and the logo won’t rub off. I’m also sure, one day when I’m forced to wash my own dishes after a week of working crazy hours and I notice the ratio of coffee cups to plates, I’m going to think of my mother.

AND because kids never change – even when they get older – the fact that my mother ‘allowed me to have it’ AFTER THE FACT makes me feel a little like I got away with something!

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Taking the Smooth with the Rough

Today was one of those days you’re not unhappy to see end. No tragedies, just unfortunate circumstances that make that night’s sleep a welcome escape. The plans my young daughter and I had for a girls’ day with our cousins who live an hour’s drive away were scratched when my car overheated 20 minutes into the drive. My car had to be temporarily abandoned and a friend came to rescue us and bring us back home.

Today is Saturday. This unfortunate event means all weekend plans are negated – and I actually had plans all weekend, too. Adult ones, even, because my daughter is sleeping over a friend’s house tonight. Here I am, showered, shaved, having a great hair day – even wearing what (for me) could be called a cute outfit (as opposed to the way I normally leave the house: lawfully covered) – and I am stuck.

The drive to my cousin’s house was well-planned and supposed to be part of the day’s fun because it was sort of a ‘maiden voyage’ road trip. My daughter is 12 and only this year old enough and big enough to be sitting in the front seat; we had the tunes ready, we hit the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru, and we had the top down on the car. It was 82° when we left. One of our first real spring days here in New England. It will be 30° cooler by tomorrow. We might have another spring day some time during the week (you know, while we are all working). We hope.

Obviously, that little milestone will have to wait. Hopefully, my car can be fixed without too much pain and discomfort and we can try again another time.

There was another little milestone that she crossed today. Because I am me, this is a milestone that I cannot let be overshadowed by the day’s frustration: she shaved today for the first time. While I whined about my car on Facebook, I could not make a public post about this subject – but I can blog about it, because she doesn’t read these!

She’s a weird little kid. Good weird, but weird. If I had told her last year that she could sit in the front seat of the car she would have refused because she knew she did not meet the age and weight requirements. She’s kind of a stickler for those rule things. Don’t know where she gets that from.

But to me, this is a milestone for her because it was a milestone for me. I won’t get into my feelings about shaving in general (but if you want to read that particular bitch, click here), but it was a big deal for me. I remember begging my mother to let me shave my legs in 6th and 7th grade, but she kept telling me I was too young. I tried to explain that shaving had nothing to do with age and everything to do with hair – and Eddie. He was a year older than me and he tormented me for those two years on the school bus, calling me “Hairy Mary.” She finally let me start just in time for 8th grade – and after Eddie moved on to high school. She wouldn’t let me use a blade, either; I had to use an electric razor because she felt it was safer.

I understood my mother wanting me to wait, because shaving is a lifetime commitment once you start. I was actually hoping the hipsters would decide that shaving was too mainstream and take a more European approach before the subject came up for my daughter so that she would not have to take on this aggravating female burden (we have enough). But that didn’t happen.

She asked to start shaving. I let her. And, I let her use a real razor. (6th grade, Mom.)  I found out during our discussion that she had ‘already done her research’ and watched a few YouTube videos that a few girls had made regarding certain events that come up in a girl’s life. Research. Funny kid. With everything I’ve said on the subject already, she probably wanted to make sure she didn’t go through anything I did.  

And in her usual, quiet way (nothing like me), she took care of business by herself – outside of a few small questions – like it was no big deal. Even after she was done she had little to say about it. Hell, I remember staring at my legs for hours after I shaved for the first time, amazed at the transformation and giddy with it.

She did say one thing, somewhat boastfully, about not injuring herself – but that’s because she has YouTube, and me, and she didn’t have an older cousin who handed her a blade without telling her she needed to use soap and water with it.

I have high hopes for her now. She should not be scarred for life like I am.

She didn’t have Eddie. Or cousin Kimmy.

Self-Love vs. Parenting: It’s Not One or the Other

Do you love yourself?

You can answer that question by answering another:

Who do you take the best care of?

For most parents, the answer is immediate: their children.

I understand that; I am a parent. Yet the idea of self-love – as important as people are realizing it to be – often comes up against that wall of parenting. Most of us were raised (or learned by example – good or bad) to adhere to the theory that “the children come first.” At the risk of poking the hornets’ nest, I will even go so far as to say that parents with the least self-love or the most fear of delving into the subject hide behind the ‘responsibility to’ their children.

Contrary to traditional and oft-repeated belief, self-love is not SELFISH as in “Icomefirstfuckeverythingelse”. Self-love is the best gift you can give your children, because it is self-love that begets the self-respect that motivates them, that spurs them onto new and fantastic things, and prevents them from making bad decisions and/or doing things to hurt themselves. Self-love also makes them empathetic and compassionate towards others. Self-love provides a child with inner strength.

Our ultimate goal in raising our children is to give them the means to know, learn and experience success and happiness; self-love is at the root of those traits. Since children learn first by what they see, by our example, if we are showing them that we have no self-love, it won’t matter what we tell them. We will be raising people who will need outside validation of some kind. Think about it, what will they do when we are gone? Don’t we want them to learn to rely on themselves? How is that possible without self-love?

And, again, there is another side to that coin (isn’t there always?). The sacrifice we are for our children shows them to sacrifice themselves for things. Do we want them spending their lives looking around for (or creating) something to sacrifice themselves for? For someone? Where is the fulfillment there?

Think about this: our parents sacrificed themselves for us, their parents sacrificed themselves for them, and their parents sacrificed themselves … you get the picture. How long has that been going on? To what end?

Do you love yourself?

Loving yourself is not selfish. Loving your self is the most selfless of traits you can show your children, because by loving yourself you are showing them how to love themselves. That is the one aspect that will be the basis for everything they feel, think, and do.

The bottom line is if you don’t take care of – love – yourself, you have less and less to give to your children. How many times have you “put on a face” for your children? Why should you have to? Do you really believe that they won’t learn the difference between your genuine and plastered expressions? Children are sponges. They will soak all of it in. All of it.  Don’t believe me? Take a look back into your own childhood. Even if your parents fooled you once or twice, you still ended up seeing the truth.

The only way to teach your children to be happy is to be happy yourself – that starts with self-love.

I still fight this battle in many ways. The first steps we parents take to do something for ourselves are often riddled with guilt of some kind; we feel as if we are taking something away from our kids, like time or money, or that we’re not allowed to have any fun that they can’t be included in.

We need to get out of the thinking that says showing love for ourselves is selfish.

Keep in mind, too, that once you’ve raised your children and they’ve moved out, you will be left with yourself.

Here’s a thought:

Those of you with more than one child have come up against discussions about whether or not you love one child more than the other (if you haven’t yet, you now have something to look forward to!). It’s not easy to explain that you can love them equally. I’ve found the best way for me to explain it is to say basically that the more people you have in your life to love, the more your heart grows. Adding another person (or child) doesn’t mean you are making room out of a crowded space to accommodate them; that would mean taking away from someone else, wouldn’t it? Love is limitless. It expands. The heart expands as you add more to love to it. The love you have for your first child remains intact and whole, and you have room for loving another child alongside of it – in the same amount.

(Hey, it may not be an exact explanation, but it goes far enough to help!)

Anyhow, if you find that explanation plausible enough, why not try adding a room in your heart for yourself? There’s plenty of room!

Your kids deserve it.

So do you.

 

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