Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Half Empty Nest Syndrome . . .

This weekend, after seven years of dating, getting engaged and setting a wedding date, my older daughter has decided it’s time to move out of our home. It’s a big step. A milestone. It’s the natural progression of events. It’s the way things are done today. I’ve been expecting this day to come. It’s not a surprise. She has been semi moved out for years already, spending half her time here and half with her fiancĂ©. She has to live her life the way she wants to and she has a good head on her shoulders. I know she is happy because I hear it in her voice and see it on her face. That’s all I have ever wanted for her. We’ve been blessed to have her home for 28 years, and now her future is with her fiancĂ©, who we love. 

But now I have a half-empty nest. My emotions are conflicted at the moment. I am very happy for my daughter and feel blessed she has found a man she can share her life with and who makes her happy. It’s the circle of life getting fuller, but I am feeling a little empty right now. I know it will pass in time, but I miss her already.

I miss seeing her face in the morning as she comes down the stairs, still half asleep with her cell phone in hand. How she looks around the kitchen for something to eat, and nothing appeals to her. How she quickly accepts my offer to make her something small, while she sits at the table staring into the little screen reading God knows what. I miss how she will look up and tells me the the latest news or a fascinating piece of information that she has discovered. After breakfast she would go upstairs to get ready for work. It’s doesn’t take long. She has this down to a science. Then she comes down with her bags, gets the lunch I’ve made her from the refrigerator and heads out the door to work as we exchange “I love you’s.” It’s very quiet here this morning.

The nights she would come home for dinner I would hold off dinner until she was home, even though she arrived between seven and eight. It’s much later than our usual dinner time at 5:30, but I enjoy it when we all eat together and talk about our days. She shares some funny stories from work, or rants about the things that frustrate her. We’ll watch some television together after dinner. I’ll let her pick out whatever she wants to see so she can enjoy the little time she has before bedtime. I’ll offer her favorite snacks like peaches or strawberries with whipped cream, ice cream, cheese cake, but she only says yes half the time. Mostly, she will snack on the cheese doodle snacks I keep handy because I know what she likes. And, because she has already had a very long day, she will head up to bed at 10 P.M. She’s tired. Even though I would love to spend a few more minutes with her, I don’t try to stop her. She needs her sleep. She has always needed her sleep. She got me in trouble with the nurse the day she was born because I couldn’t wake her up to feed her her bottle. I tried everything they told me. I tickled her feet, I opened the blanket so she would feel cool. Nothing worked. The nurse yelled at me saying I should have pressed the call button and asked for help. Oh well, it never occurred to me. My baby needs her sleep.

What I have been doing is a lot of reminiscing over the last 28 years. I’ve been thinking of all the joy and happiness this little sleepy baby has brought into our lives every day. How she made the most ordinary days special with her laughter. How she made us laugh from the time she uttered her first words. “I can’t eat right now, I’m calculating,” she would tell my mother as she played with the calculator at age three. At age two and a half she looked up at me in Hallmark while we were looking at pocket calendars for my brother and said, “Let’s get him a sophisticated one.” Or how at age two she would know how to appropriately insert “in my opinion” and “as a matter of fact” into our dinner conversations. We never knew what would come out of her little mouth. But we knew she was beautiful, intelligent, had a wonderful sense of humor and compassion. At seven years old she came home to find I had put new curtains on the windows. “You bought new curtains? There was nothing wrong with the old curtains.” I explain they were old and I wanted a change. “You could have given that money to the homeless. They have no place to live. We have a house and the old curtains were still good.” Even then there was no arguing with her logic, so I tried some of my own. “Okay,” I said, “Tell you what we’ll do. Instead of Christmas presents this year and more toys, we’ll give that money to the homeless.” Dead silence. 

So many memories, conversations shared, even arguments. We had our first argument when she was two years old and I wanted to record her saying the alphabet, but she refused. I have that whole argument on tape, but no alphabet. I take out the camera and tell her to say the alphabet. “No.” I beg her please just sing it for me one time. “No, you sing.” I tell her that her kids will want to see it, and she’s aggravating me. “You’re aggravating me!” I tell her she is being a haunt. “You’re a haunt.” End of that argument. But there would be more arguing in our future when she hit those “terrible teens.” We hit a rough patch, but we survived. A couple of years later she actually said the words every mother longs to hear, “Can I ask your opinion about something?” I nearly fainted, my little girl had grown up! 

No matter how old or wise she gets, she will always be my little girl. She will always be my sweet pea who curls her hair with her finger as she falls to sleep. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Mom's Candle . . .

While we were in Lancaster, PA and browsing through all the specialty shops in Kettle Kitchen, my daughter was busy smelling candles. She turns to me and tells me to smell the one in her hand. I knew that smell well, but I couldn't identify it immediately. The name of the candle, made by 1803, is called Lavender Linen. I take another smell and tell her, "It smells like my mother." Of course she didn't remember my mother’s scent, but she is partial to the fresh linen scent. Maybe because she spent so much of her baby and toddler years being held, cuddled and hugged by grandma. I took another whiff of this candle, that stirred up so many memories of my childhood, when my daughter turned to me an said I’m buying this for you. I told her she didn’t have to, but she insisted, saying “You said it smells like Grandma.” My first thought was to let my brother smell it and see if he had the same feeling as I did. 

About a week later, my brother was visiting me and I suddenly remembered the candle. I brought it down and opened it for him to smell. “What does this smell like,” I asked. He said it smelled familiar, he knew the scent, but couldn’t put his finger on it. I gave him some time, but he could identify it. He asks me what I think it smells like. I said, “Mom.” He nodded and smelled it again. 

My mother, who never wore perfume and used Camay soap, always washed her laundry and hung it out to dry on the clothesline. The fragrance from her freshly laundered clothes, that crisp linen smell, was strong and almost intoxicating. This simple candle captured it perfectly. Suddenly, I had the urge to try and purchase more of these candles. I checked online and the scent has been discontinued by the manufacturer, their remaining candles sold out. I don’t recall the store we purchased the one I have, so I checked all the stores in Kettle Kitchen online. None of them advertised the scent, probably because it’s been discontinued. In any case it’s no where to be found online. 

I’m not going to light this candle unless I find another one just like it somewhere on a store shelf.  I love it. My daughter must have been instinctually aware of it significance, more so than I was that moment in the store. I’m so happy she bought it for me. Every time I smell it I’m transported back in time, to kisses and hugs, to unconditional love . . . to mom. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Politics, What Do I Know?

What do I know about politics? Probably next to nothing. I have never been interested in politicians until Barack Obama ran for office. I started to pay more attention to the issues and political platforms of those running because I knew this was going to be a historical election. It was possible, that for the first time in our nation's history, a black man was running for office and actually could win. I should have stopped paying attention after the election because politics, politicians and the political process only serve to increase my already high blood pressure. But, even paying attention, I still know relatively little and yet have so many opinions.
Now for my little rant. Since Obama won the election back in 2008, Republicans have been complaining about his leadership. They hate Obama Care. He doesn't do anything about illegal aliens. He made a bad deal with Iran. The list is endless. I can understand some of their points of view. So what have they done in the last eight years to prepare for the election in 2016? I see a dozen Republicans all trying to get the nomination. Many are saying the stupidest things that are sure to lose them support with voters. I am not going to point them all out as examples right now and risk having a stroke. My question is why are there a dozen candidates at this point?
The party had eight years to groom someone and get them ready for this critical election. They knew Hillary Clinton was going all out on the Democratic Party ticket. They knew she had lots of support and money. Hell she has been grooming herself by first becoming Senator of New York, like she gave a damn about us. Then she maneuvered herself into the Secretary of State position to gain more support. Everyone knew her strategy. And, the Republicans knew Obama could not run again in 2016 and that Joe Biden probably wouldn't be running. So here's my question: Why didn't the Republican Party take that eight years and go find someone in their party who they could groom to be the next president? Someone who would appeal to Republicans and Democrats alike? Someone who understands the issues and speaks intelligently about them and has concrete ideas for fixing what is wrong with this country. Why are we watching 12 candidates who are all losing in the polls to Donald Trump? Donald Trump! Now don't get me wrong, Donald is very entertaining to watch and listen to. He talks off the top of his head without a censor. He makes me laugh, but that is not a quality I am looking for in a President. And still he is ahead in the polls . . . way ahead in fact. The only reason I can think of for that is that he is saying what many people are thinking and feeling in this country. I will give him credit for one thing, he has gotten me back interested in the election. He has made me aware of the other 12 candidates, many of whom I have never heard of before. He keeps tabs on them and them tweets everything they say and do. I love it! But at the same time I am afraid he just might get elected. I am afraid the Republican Party has fallen down on the job. They needed a solid candidate to run, not an army of politicians dividing up the party into little pieces. That's my opinion anyway. This feels like a three ring circus where a dozen clowns come out of a little car and run around.
This leaves me with the impression that the Republican Party doesn't have one solid candidate that we can take seriously. When Donald Trump is there front runner, what else is there to think? And maybe the Republican Party doesn't want to win the election after all. Maybe they know they can't fix all the things they claim they can? Maybe they just like to complain about what the Democrats are doing and put up road blocks?

I may lean towards the Democrat side in politics, but right now I am not happy with Hillary at all. I would welcome a good solid candidate from either side to lead this country. Unfortunately, right now, I am not seeing anyone I can put my faith in to vote for.