Dear Mom

Pink Rose in the sun

Now I know why you didn’t like to get your picture taken. Sometimes I don’t recognize myself in pictures. I take them anyway, since looking at them brings me joy and reminds me that I have a great life!

I know why you spent all of your time with your family at the expense of outside friendships. I want to focus on the people who are most important to me. Some of my friends are like family to me.

Now I know why you always preferred to work in an office where you were the only woman. Relationships, particularly with other women,  can be difficult. They can be complicated and painful, and at the same time they can be joyful and loving. I have learned a lot about myself through the lens of my relationships with others.

I understand how it annoyed you when dad made a mess of your kitchen when he cooked. I’m glad that familial roles have blurred and aren’t as clearly defined anymore. I think that this has made us relate in a different, more intimate way as a family.

I know that you loved me equally as much as my older brother and sisters, even if you didn’t exactly plan to have a fourth child. I couldn’t imagine how I would possibly love another child as much as my first-born son. My heart found a way when my daughter was born.

I know how happy it made you when all of your children got along with each other (we still do)! I love that mine do and take comfort that they will always have each other.

Now I realize how much your happiness was tied to ours, when my kids are happy, I’m happy.

Now I understand why you were so upset when I moved to another state, even though it was only an hour away. It meant that we wouldn’t see each other as often. I feel the most full when I’m with my kids and miss them whenever we’re apart.

I know how difficult it must have been when your mom passed away and how much you missed her every single day. I know how many times you must have wanted to pick up the phone to talk about your day, hear words of encouragement, share some happy or sad news or just to hear her voice. I know how important that unconditional love was to you and how, with your mom, no matter how old you were, she would always make you feel loved and protected.

I miss you terribly and it’s not the same without you.

But now I realize that I was always capable of loving myself just like you always had.

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Use the Good Stuff!

I still remember the day my mom took the plastic slip covers off of our gold velour living room furniture. I was mesmerized! The furniture the family of six had been sitting on, eating on and napping on looked brand new. At 12 years old, I found it pretty amazing that we had 10-year-old furniture that looked so pristine. My mom was my hero. My dad was also very creative in maintaining and repairing things rather than discarding them. He had a flip top kitchen garbage can which stopped flipping its top due to the fact that its side plastic tabs broke off. No problem for my dad, he just glued a bolt in each side and voila, good for another 10 years.

I’m not sure if my conservative attitude in buying new things comes from growing up in a family of 6 with parents that grew up in the depression era, pinching pennies as a stay at home mom in a single income family, or a combination of the two, but it’s only been recently that I’ve even noticed how desperate some of my household and personal items look. I don’t remember my parents ever throwing anything away. They reused everything and if it was broken, they repaired it. If it was dingy, my mom bleached it. Our clothes may have been a bit tattered, but they sure were white. My dad still makes “scratch pads” out of cut up recycled paper stapled together.

Now that I’m into my fifties with a new attitude, I’ve decided to treat myself a bit.  I’m using the fancy salon shampoo and conditioner and the “Jennifer Aniston” skin care products.  After taking my dog, Andre to a Veterinary Ophthalmologist for eye surgery (worth every penny), I even decided to spend more than $20.00 for a haircut!

Perhaps it’s  because I’m into my fifties and my new attitude dictates that I satisfy my wants, as well as my needs, or it may even be necessary these days to replace things more often, since they aren’t made like they used to be and they just wear out sooner. Either way, I’m seeing things with a whole new perspective. A few weeks ago, as I was unloading the dishwasher, I looked at my glassware and my dishes as if I was seeing them for the first time. I was horrified! Many of the dishes had chips around the edges and some even had slight cracks. ALL of my glasses were cloudy and spotty. Ugh! Replacing these items was very inexpensive and, oh, so rewarding. My family never complained about the old things we were using, but they sure did notice when they were replaced.

plates1

My new dishes

I still remember what started me on my recent journey of “me.” One day I really took notice of what was in my bra drawer. I think I laughed and cried at the same time. My kids are in their twenties and I had a few bras that looked as if they were older than them. Some of them were so stretched out that they weren’t even serving their purpose, as evidenced by my reflection in my bedroom mirror (and a comment made by a well-meaning friend). A bit embarrassed, I went for a professional bra fitting at a department store and purchased a few well-fitting, beautifully lifting, very expensive brassieres.

The bottom line is that we’re all worth it. We need to take care of ourselves, to ask for what we need and to let people know what’s on our minds and in our hearts. After all, we teach people how to treat us. We need to do for ourselves what we would do for others. My husband and I didn’t think twice about taking care of our dog, Andre, and getting him the proper medical care he needed. He brings us so much joy on a day-to-day basis and is a part of our family. I guess it’s only natural that I begin to reflect on the fact that my life is not infinite. While I’m here, I plan to have silky hair, soft skin and great bras!

dogs

That’s Andre (minus one eye) on the right and Louie on the left