Tag Archives: growing up

My Alex P. Keaton Family Ties Moment …

30 Apr

I realized I only had about four years left …

While everyone was fascinated with the planets and stars aligning on 2-22-22 it hit me … he’ll be gone in four years. Off on his next adventure into adulthood. And I felt that twang in my heart.

The little kid who liked bulldozers, Batman, choo-choo trains, and Wonder Pets. He’ll be gone. The one that reached for my hand as we walked across the street, with his tiny feet. That gave me pause.

It reminded me of an episode of Family Ties when Alex, Alex P. Keaton that is, was going away and his mom was having a hard time with it, the good-bye part. I remember the episode, I remember how she felt love and sad and hurt. I remember.

That’s on the horizon.

And it’s more than just Spring Breaks, Easter’s, Summer Escapes, Beach Staycations, and Saturday ball games to consider. It was mustache growing and height adjustments. It’s carne asada dinners that are on the countdown because I seem to have them numbered and that got to me. The everyday togetherness won’t be together.

I know it’s my job to prepare them for the world and educate them into being compassionate, hard-working, kind, smart, independent human beings. I got that. I know that’s at the top of my list but I had to take a minute there. I remember people telling me it’ll go by fast, the days will seem like forever when you’re changing diapers but the birthday candles will come and go quickly. And here I am nodding my head at comments I heard more than a decade ago, with four-plus years left, now the fast-forward button seems to be on.

I find myself wanting to hit the pause button. And I made a conscious effort to do that. I catch myself ready to steam up and holler when the not-listening phase extends itself multiple times throughout the day and we find ourselves rushing through, trying to get somewhere, and daily life making it harder for plans to work out smoothly.

The fire in frustration is what I’m working on as a parent. I want to be remembered for the Coach Taylor vibe I give off when I’m headed toward progress, not the hectic and stressed-out mom who’s constantly yelling at them to pick up they’re shoes, socks, cleats, or laundry off the floor and wondering when that extra common sense is gonna kick in.

I look at the grays in the mirror and try to be grateful for how I got them, because each comes with it’s own story, and one of the chapters is closing soon.

So I marked 2-22-22 as the opportunity to step it up a notch and try to increase the joy and venturing, because those four years will go by quick and then the kids will be making they’re own choices down their yellow brick road, their own gray hair adventures.

It’s been over a month now and although it’s been challenging and frustrating at times, I’m making that extra effort as the end result matters most. Filming a weekly log and leaving digital notes for them in the future is a surprise I hope they enjoy, as every day has an impact on what they feel. The countdown is on, it’s live and interactive. But not so much in counting the days and checking them off, but more so as my buddy would say … making the days count.

Buen Camino…

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Words on Wednesday …

29 Dec

Thinking of La Vecindad just last week when Chente passed away, and then I find out that someone from La Vecindad had only a few days left to live and it hit me again.

All the memories flooding in from my childhood with Doña Maria, her caring and easy-going nature, and some of best pozole I ever tasted.

She lost her battle to cancer a few days ago and I felt that saddened pained heaviness in my heart. She’d met me when I was in diapers, and knew me through my first communion, TrapperKeeper and PeeChee folder days all the way until high school graduation. I’d seen her almost everyday. She’d been part of all the carne asada and Vencindad parties. She’d been there my entire childhood watching me grow and now she was gone.

In peace, I hope. No longer suffering the hurt that comes with cancer.

I was lucky enough to see her a few days before she had passed and I mentioned my favorite story …

Being a latch-key kid growing up, it was super important not to forget or lose your your key. I happened to forget it on one occasion and I had no other choice but to sit on the steps and wait. Cold and cloudy. I waited for someone to come home.

Doña Maria’s husband, Don Chuco, coming home saw me sitting there, like a stray dog and invited me to come upstairs and wait until my parents came home. We walked in and the first thing I noticed was the smell of something savory coming out of the kitchen and the giant painting of The Last Supper hanging near their dining room.

Doña Maria came out and smiled.

Ven mija.

Mija.

That’s what she called me. It felt warm and fuzzy.

Sit down, sit down, what were you doing outside waiting, you know you could have come up here and waited inside. Come sit down, we’re gonna eat some soup. I was part of their family. In La Vecindad we were all family.

She served me a bowl of warm soup and I joined them at the table. As we began eating they both grabbed tortillas from the basket, but I just kept eating my soup. Then they grabbed another, but I just kept slurping away.

They looked at each other and smiled.

Don Maria asked if everything was all right and I said it was fine, tasted good. Don Chuco shook his head and in his big deep booming voice said …

Oyes que no sabes que con tortilla se llena la gente …”

Roughly translated it meant … Don’t you know that tortillas help you fill up? Eat up.

They laughed. I smiled. I took a tortilla from the basket.

She let me watch cartoons the rest of the afternoon, by the window, so I could see when my parents came home.

When I told my dad later that night about the Last Supper Painting, the soup, and the tortillas, he chuckled. Said we should probably buy more tortillas then …

Doña Maria smiled at the story as she sat up on the bed wincing in pain.

Ay mija.

She smiled.

I smiled.

She passed away five days later and I felt sad. Still do. Hard to picture strong, kind, salt-of-the-Earth people that I knew, that were part of my life, part of La Vecindad no longer being here.

🙂

I send her light, love, sunshine, and waves.

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Buen Camino …

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Letting Go

6 Mar

30 Days.

What the hell?

It was a completely unintentional a 3-hour-tour-Gilligan’s-Island disappearance on my behalf. I had no idea where my motivation fell off the ship, but with the help of The Professor and MaryAnn and rest of the S.S. Minnow Crew I’m able to tap away at the keys again.

It might have been the fact that our family kept up our New Year’s Resolution and tried something completely new that inspired this post and sent me on the most anxiety-mom-crazed-roller-coaster ever. Feelings like that tend to spur inspirational writing moments.

Growth is what people call it. Parenthood, I guess.

Our new adventure last month?

Away From Home.

Letting go.

Normally my people don’t do sleepovers. It’s something that I hear other families talk about and moms share stories over the preparations, fun times, and lack of sleep. But us?

Nope.

Unless it’s family, my kids have never slept over anyone else’s house. Aunts’. Grandma’s. Cousins’.  If you’re not a blood relative my kids were not sleeping over your place. Their Dad and I are both on the same page with this. And I don’t know what it is, but for some reason we’re just like this and we’re O.K. with it.

That was until the annual Fifth Grade Outdoor Science School field trip where everyone in the fifth grade goes away for three nights and four days, accompanied by teachers and parent chaperones. My son was excited to go. Looking forward to this all year. All. Year. And then neither their Dad, nor I got selected to be chaperones.

Duuuuuuuuuuude.

Huge dilemma for me. BIG.

For most people this was an easy decision. But I struggled with it for weeks. Now I didn’t want to be that crazy parent … the one… that didn’t let her kid go on this trip. I didn’t want to be that one, where the kid is on lockdown and never experiences anything because the overprotective parent is watching them like a hawk and protecting them like SuperMan everyday. I didn’t want to be that parent. Even though every fiber of my being was like nope, you just CAN’T let him go. You can’t. You can’t!  

But I didn’t want to be that parent. I know that with the best intention they have sometimes this kind of parenting does more damage than good. I know this. I do.

His Dad and I discussed it.

And I opened the gates.

It’s been the hardest thing I had to do as a parent so far. First time ever.

Let go.

It felt like the first time he went to preschool or kindergarten and I was that parent peeking through the fence, making sure that one kid didn’t push my kid off the tricycle. That was me. I had flashbacks. But I let go.

Letting Go

🙂

 

He was so excited when we gave him the news that he could go. I got that thank-you-thank-you-thank-you-thank-you-hug-you-so-tight hug. His sister was not that thrilled as they’re pretty close buds. And me? I was wrecked with anxiety and filled with summer camp 80’s movies and wondering if some jackass kid would scar my kid for life. Other moms seemed to have it so together, while I was losing it inside.

When the day came, we walked to the front of the school and waited. All I wished for was positive vibes and good things. I hugged him goodbye, waved as the bus drove off.

I felt the ugliness in the pit of my stomach and hoped for the best.  His sister was having a hard time with it, although I put on my Mom face and told her everything would be fine and he would get the secret letter she put in his sleeping bag and he would love it and be fine.

After she fell asleep, I completely lost it.  I felt like Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption the last night Andy Dufrane was there. One of the longest nights of my life.

The next morning I realized I’m completely unprepared for when he leaves for college. I’m gonna be a complete wreck. Sobbing. Weeping. Heartbroken. I can totally imagine it. It’s going to be a disaster and this in no way prepared me. Sure I wasn’t that parent that kept her kid home and deprived him of an awesome learning opportunity, I wasn’t keeping him locked away from the world. I know he has to grow and learn and get beat up by life a little bit. But inside I soooooooo wanted to be that parent.

It was a serious internal struggle.

And in the midst of this internal battle and complete breakdown he came back early. Snowstorm in the mountains. Freak storm closing down the roads forced them to come home earlier than expected. Gone just two days instead of four.

I felt like an idiot afterward, just two days. But the anxiety was real, the worry was real, the stress, the emotions. I was battling my Motherhood worst-scenarios and he came back smiling and full of hugs.

Best hug ever.

He was disappointed that the trip ended early but grateful that he at least got the chance to go.

I ended up being NOT that parent, but I struggled every minute of it. I’m gonna need some advice from the parents out there about letting go, because I know I’m gonna have to do it again and I know I’m not prepared for it. I might be better at it the next time it comes around but I’m for sure not going to be emotionally prepared for it.

The college years will be here before I know it and that part of Parenthood is going to suck. But I guess until then I’m gonna make sure to instill lessons of strength, empathy, kindness, responsibility, resourcefulness, and humor. If I’m missing something I’m probably gonna pick it up along the way, but veteran parents out there feel free to let me know.

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Home

13 Feb

Home.

Home.

 

 

Lived in many places, but home?

Home was laughter.

Home was a place that always smelled like baked chicken.

Home was the one-bedroom apartment in the barrio where we lived most of my childhood.

Home was family … through killer plaid bell-bottoms, MC Hammer parachute pants, Levis jeans, Dockers and Dickies workpants.

Home.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth

7 Aug

Footprints

 

Growth.

Tiny feet fitting in the palm of your hand, ten toes wiggling.

Tiny feet taking first steps.

Tiny feet hitting your face while taking a nap.

Tiny feet needing shoes.

Running, not walking anymore.

Causing chaos in the patio, leaving muddy footprints everywhere.

Soon tiny feet will be pressing the gas pedal on a four-door vehicle.

Soon tiny feet will be trying to tip-toe inside the house passed curfew and they will no longer be tiny.

Growth.

I Knew She’d Take a Bullet For Me … And a Car

22 Jun

We don’t talk much, but I know she’d take a bullet for me.

I was reminded of her today, when I saw two siblings at the supermarket. One of them grabbed a toy off the shelf and was totally into it. Admiring it. The other one snatched it from her hands and ran down the aisle, passed the Ritz crackers.

My sister, otherwise known as The Queen of the Nile. I call her that, because during her high school reign she won the homecoming and prom queen titles. She was into that kind of stuff. I was not. So it was natural for me as a younger sister to make fun of my older sibling.

When we were children, we were close. I have pictures to that effect so I know it must be true. But during middle school, high school, and college it was the normal dysfunctional relationship. We weren’t really friends, but we weren’t enemies either. We were just acquaintances in the same blood type.

However, there were moments growing up when I knew she wasn’t just my acquaintance.

I can’t remember if I was in fifth or sixth grade, but I know it was around that time when it happened.

As I mentioned before, my parents were extremely strict. They were Latinos. We lived in a rough neighborhood. We were girls. They had reason to be strict. So in this strict Latino fashion, we never went to sleepovers or to places without someone from the family taking us and bringing us back. That’s just how my parents rolled.

So when my sister asked to go to the movies with some friends on her own, they weren’t really warming up to the idea. She was the responsible one, so eventually they caved in, on one condition. She needed to take me. The younger sister who’d probably report on anything and everything, like a good covert spy. My sister needed to be careful. She needed to make sure we got back by curfew. Those were the conditions and she agreed.

She was Richie Cunningham, so they were confident it would happen.

So off we went on our very first trip to the movies. We were careful. We stayed away from the bad alleyways and from suspect characters on our way to her friend’s house. Once they finished putting on their Maybelline mascara, and frosty pink lip gloss we made our way to the bus stop.

We walked up the hill and saw the bus coming in the opposite direction. We raced to catch the light. It was still red and we were hoping the bus driver saw us screaming and waving our hands in the air.

The bus began to pull away from the curb, but the driver stepped on the brakes as the signal light turned red.  We waited. Anxiously. Our signal light finally turned from red to green. We stepped off the curb and began running across the street when it happened.

A green car came racing through the intersection, right at us.

I must have blacked out because the next thing I knew I was face down in the middle of the intersection with my one of Adidas tennis shoes hanging out in the middle of the cross walk. When I got up and looked around, I realized what had happened.

We had gotten hit by a car. But I really shouldn’t say we. My sister’s friend, had gotten hit. My sister for some reason had managed to avoid it, and in the process had managed to push me away from the incident. I didn’t know she was that strong. It must have been all the adrenaline, because I flew pretty far.

In the end her friend was all right. She ended up getting a cast for her arm, and plenty of ice every where else. But no crazy internal damage, which was a miracle. As she was getting treated in the ambulance, she joked around a bit and said that our parents would probably not let us go to the movies again.

But they did.

In the end I realized that even though we weren’t friends and we weren’t close, we had our moments. She’d probably take a bullet for me and definitely a speeding car.

My sister … Queen of the Nile.