10 Fingers and 10 Toes

When you’re first expecting a child, some people ask “What do you want?” referring to the child’s sex.  The classic mother-to-be’s response is: “A healthy child with 10 fingers and 10 toes.” And, when the child is first born, those features are quickly checked by the mother before a deep breath of relief is sighed. All is right with the world.

As children grow older we tend to impose new standards on our desires for them – may they play nice with others, not get bullied, go to religious school, whisper in public, and keep family secrets in the family.

As they move through teen years, we hope they don’t get pierced in odd places, join the gay alliance in support rather than in affiliation, don’t become drug addicts, don’t DWI, don’t become a teenage parent, and the list goes on.  Later, we hope they don’t marry out of the religion, or get snipered by terrorists, or travel the world without getting hijacked. We’ll deal with whatever happens, but we hope against hope for only good things to happen. We pray for safety even while preaching “take risks.”

When my brood were in middle school, Columbine happened in Denver. It was akin to when Kent State occurred during my own college years.  A sense of safety was permanently ruptured. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time took on new meaning. Even the hallowed halls of academia were not safe.

Lately, youngest’s college is being attacked with a rash of bomb threats. I won’t say too much about it now. I could bring her home, but hibernation is not an option. It’s only a matter of time before she’ll have a different close encounter with other crazies.

And, perhaps that’s what it’s all about.  At some point we all need to come to terms with the elusiveness of safety.  All we can wish for our kids is that they live as long and safely and happily well adjusted as possible with 10 fingers and 10 toes. And if even if the appendage count is not possible, it’s not the end of the world. One can live without thumbs. It’s the living that’s important. Everything else is just gravy.

Knock. Knock. I’m Back to Blogging

It’s been awhile since I’ve tapped on your door – or e-mail box. In fact, it’s been close to two years.

I took a hiatus to regain sanity from moving South, having a husband toying with a near death experience, sending two kids to college, and starting a new job.

I had said I would blog while the kids were in high school and didn’t feel there was much to write about once I was an almost empty nester. But, not one for long phone conversations, or ongoing Facebook posts, I’ve missed having my blog to stay in touch with friends and gain perspective on my ongoing personal sitcom.

Thanks to a push by Apple in discontinuing my blog service, I was in danger of losing all past blog posts.  It was too much like losing and old friend before its time. Then, with the terrific help of a knowledgeable friend who knew how to painlessly set me up with a new server and blog platform, I’m back in the blogging business.

Unlike previous posts, I won’t email subscribers with new posts except for this first time. After this, I’ll post the links on Facebook and hope you either friend me, or if we’re already friends and you’ll click through.  It’s just one of the ways I’ll use social media differently two years later.

The first post is ready to go and will post tomorrow night. The kinks aren’t all worked out, but I’m stumbling through remembering how I used to do things and learning how I have to do things now. Pictures will change as might the name. Nothing remains the same, but I’m not yet up to changing everything.

Hoping you’re happy to hear from me, and I’m looking forward to hearing from you.  Because if there’s one thing I miss in South Jersey, it’s all of you!

Home is Somewhere

Home: The place we go (in time or place) to be with those we love. Sometimes it’s physical, and sometimes it’s simply in our minds. But, we know it when we’re there.

They say home is where the heart is. It’s as good a definition as any, but not totally correct. I’m back in Ridgewood for the weekend, and it’s still home. It’s where all for of us have a chance of ending up in the same place at the same time.

Increasingly, for all of us Ridgewood doesn’t feel quite like home, or at least as much of the home as it used to be. It feels more like home than anywhere else because

a. most of our stuff is here
b. most of us are here

It increasingly doesn’t totally feel like home because

a. not all of our stuff is here
b. frequently one or more of us are not here

We’re all in a state of flux, which is not good for family sanity. Luckily, with many fingers and toes crossed, both us parents and Eldest may have found the next places to live come September. Youngest is the only one who for sure knows where she’ll be next year, but she is also feeling out of sorts with this home being in constant disarray and other family members being increasingly out of sorts.

We’ll sort it all out. And, if all goes as planned end up in a truly wonderful place. I wonder how long, however, it will take for our new digs to feel like home?

P.S. This week’s blog post is dedicated to one of the Robin’s in my life, a long-time blog reader who yesterday, at much too young an age, lost her year-long battle with cancer. She was home, surrounded by close family. She will be sorely missed by everyone who ever came into contact with her. She leaves behind a husband, young son, devoted sister, and mother among many other relatives and friends. Her life was all too short and reminds me to stay focused on what’s truly important – time with those we love.

Scrap Happy

This weekend was devoted to a massive garage sale. It was time to seriously clean up the North Jersey home in preparation for our downsizing move to South Jersey. Not that we have a South Jersey home yet, but clearly wherever we end up, the lodgings will be smaller and have no need of Burger King Happy Meal toys circa 1995, wooden tennis rackets circa 1985, or even basketballs and bats still viable but outside of our current interest zones.

As I looked around the stuffed driveway I commented: “Our garage sale makes us look more interesting than we are.”

“How so?” asked my Eldest.

“Well, I noted, we look like a literate family with an eclectic taste in books, who is also athletic, and plays lots of board games for family together time.” Trust me, we are not athletic, have very focused tastes in books, and rarely play board games.

My husband got the most sentimental just before the garage sale opened. He felt it was akin to selling the sum total of our lives. I only got teary eyed when our basinet went out, or a youngster left in tears because a mother wouldn’t let her take one more of our precious Disney princess stick figures.

Youngest was the least sentimental and had an entirely different reaction. “I’m appalled at the amount of stuff we own,” she commented. She felt we looked like hoarders akin to the TLC/Bravo TV shows.

I was shocked at how much stuff was out on our driveway with our home inside still looking very well stocked. Most of the driveway paraphernalia came out of closets, the attic, storage units, and the garage. We had done a marvelous job over the years of putting stuff out of sight and, therefore, out of mind.

As we look at new abodes in South Jersey, we’ve been known to comment on our need for more storage space. Perhaps our true goal should be to have a place with no storage. That way, all our stuff will always in our faces and force us to make go no-go decisions about its value to our lives at that very moment in time.

For now, we’re a bit lighter and have another family memory for the scrapbook.

P.S. We did market research (actually my husband did) and everyone we asked said they heard about the sale from….. the newspaper! And that’s with listing it on Craig’s list!

Guardian Angels

A good friend/long-time co-worker always had a sign in her office that read: “Never fly faster than your guardian angel can fly.” Good thing then that Eldest is a relatively slow driver and recently wasn’t going more than 55 mph as she was going back to DC this month. The car was side swiped and totaled after flipping off the highway and turning over at least once as it landed down an embankment. She emerged unscathed.

Some are calling it a testament to seat belts and roll bars. Surely it is, but I’m calling it a testament to guardian angels. At least more than one was in attendance that evening.

There’s little you can do when you send your children down the road of life. Once when they were very little, perhaps during Columbine, I remember thinking that I didn’t care if they married out of our religion, or were gay, or decided on any type of alternative lifestyle. Whatever was happening that particular year was scary enough for me that I had only one wish as a mother – that they live. I didn’t want crazy people shooting at them or kidnapping them, or other children taking out their woes on them.

Many parents don’t get that joy. Crazy things happen from horrible diseases, to stupid death defying acts that go awry, to horrible accidents. I can only proffer my continuing thanks to those guardian angels who watch over my children particularly when they are out of my sight and implore both the angels and my children to stay ever diligent. Once again, I can only reaffirm the one true prayer I really have every day – that my children live. If I’m allowed a selfish prayer post script, it’s that they stay safe and sound, hopefully surrounded by peace, prosperity, love, health, and happiness. But, the first priority remains simply the same; Life. All else is truly the small stuff. I’m not sweating it.

Father’s Day Post Script:
In deference to Father’s Day, a shout out to Dads and men everywhere and the skills, objectivity, heroism and passion they bring to the parenting party. When Eldest called in hysterics post-accident, we had to manage short-term long-distance. The good news is that good Samaritans immediately got on the phone to assure us she was OK. It was payback, I felt, for all the times Husband had stopped our car and pulled people out of accidents or picked them up from sidewalks. His calm in the midst of chaotic blood, guts, and tears is a true testament to the value of testosterone and a good soul.

Within an hour of the call and a confirmation of the hospital where Eldest would be taken, an already exhausted Husband was on the road towards DC to be the on-site point person. He calmly took the post-accident pictures the next day at the junk yard, while I resolutely refused to view most of them. This Father’s Day, she sent him a card that admitted how much his on-site assistance meant to her. He remains our Father of the Year and Guardian Angel on the Ground, but it’s a title he’s held for 22 years running. I don’t see either crown being dislodged any time soon.