Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A place for friends

(Cross posted at fMh)

The holidays are a difficult time for me. Most of my adult holidays have been spent alone or as the awkward guest in another family’s family-time. Even as a child it was difficult. I was the step-kid and often treated as a guest at my mother’s husband’s family get together…Oy! How the holidays sucked.

I thought it would be easier to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas when I remarried. I thought having a ‘family’ would change things, would change me, but His family is in Wisconsin and it’s just the 3 of us-often only two of us. Making a big turkey dinner with all of the trimmings is a lot of work and a lot of food for a very small family.

As I thought about my feelings, and the 30+ years of emotional baggage I carry around with me this time of year, my thoughts turned to a familiar saying on fMh:

It’s good to know that I’m not the only one that feels this way.

And then I remembered the single mother, the widow, the never married, the newly married couple, the childless, the individuals who have been discarded by their biological family and anyone that feels alone this time of year, and I though about how, if I could open my heart and home to comfort those people during this time, I would have the ambition and desire to celebrate.

I’m not saying that my family isn’t worthy of celebration but when 2/3 of my family isn’t the celebratin’ type, it takes all the fun out of all the work.

So, to everyone who doesn’t have a big family get-together awaiting them tomorrow, know that if my home was the center of the fMh universe you would be welcomed here and we’d cook and burn food and make the house smell like heaven. We’d talk and cry and laugh at everything that came to our minds. We’d watch some football and most definitely some hockey. We’d break bread and stuff ourselves silly until we couldn’t stand to look at another slice of pumpkin pie and then when we’re full and content and satisfied, we’d part ways and say to each other : until we meet again friend.

My thoughts are with you.

Monday, November 16, 2009

On friends and money

Some of us grow up poor and learn frugality and resilience and common sense. We learn how to make-do with little, expect little and learn how to be satisfied with what we have. We take the lessons of our youth with us into adulthood and we are cautious with our money. We save it and only purchase items we have cash on hand for. We plan in advance for unexpected events because we are always mindful that it can all come tumbling down with a loss of a job or accident. And we do our best to teach our children the lessons we learned and hope that they too will be prudent in their adulthood

And others....

Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die!

Or so it feels to me. It's frustrating to hear of the financial missteps of dear friends. It pains me to see potential hazards along their path and know I am unable to counsel them because they don't want to hear what I have to say. And because it's none of my business.

Money is funny. The standard rules of friendship do not apply. It seems my job as "friend" is to sit back and watch as the misery unfolds and do my best not to say “I shoulda told you so”.

What an unnatural thing to ask of me.

How do you handle these things?

Monday, November 9, 2009

(Bitter)sweet 16

16 years ago, my little Petunia came into the world. I was just three years older than she is today.

Now she’s asking to drive the car and buying undergarments from Victoria’s Secret. We talk about boys and drugs and stupid girl tricks. We laugh together–though not enough. Yell at each other–way too much. And cry together– at the stupidest things.

Harsh as it sounds, we are not friends. I am her mother and she is my daughter and the roles we play defined who we are to each other. Ours has mostly been a relationship of survival and necessity. Of frugality and pragmatism. Sure, we love each other, but our lives are not full of demonstrative love. And we’re very close, but we have a clear understanding of each others space and boundaries. Softness was a luxury that I couldn’t afford and safety took priority over idyllic childhoods.

I have always considered Petunia to be an extension of me. And who could blame me? First she was inside me, then at my side when we slept and at my breast to be comforted. Later she would be behind me in the car seat when we traveled and beside me in the bed where we read. She stood at my side when I married N and she stands near me when we talk about the things of life.

Because of our circumstances, we have always been together, me making a home for her and both of us growing into adulthood. Many years have passed since it was just the two of us and I have finally reached that time when I am forced to realize: She is no longer an extension of me.

And so, while I lived my life in a way that would teach her to be a kind person and I trained how to be polite to people and I showed her what it takes to be a person that will go into the world with confidence and awareness and skill, I now have to admit that our relationship isn’t “about me” anymore.

It’s about her now.

Now it’s my turn to stand by her side as she grows into the young woman that I helped to create.

What is your footprint?

Ecological Footprint Quiz by Redefining Progress