Life in Reverse – Entering the Work Force at 60

IMG_1292Next year’s birthday will be the Big One – 60! While everyone at this age is winding down, I’m revving up. I’m planning on going back to work after being unemployed for…forever. Let’s just say that big hair and suits with shoulder pads were in fashion the last time I was steadily employed.

There have been numerous paying jobs and volunteer activities over the last twenty-five years, but nothing that would indicate a career path. My resume looks like a schizophrenic on steroids: Parent Association President, Campaign Assistant for Gubernatorial Election, Associate Editor for Poetry Press, ESL Teacher. Is there a pattern there? No, just jack of all trades, master of none.

Why didn’t I work steadily all those years? I had my excuses: Monday through Friday, I had the sole responsibility of caring for the children. In addition to long distance trips, my husband worked in the World Trade Center – two hours round trip from home. After 9/11, he commuted weekly to another state for almost a decade.

My plan to find a full or part-time job was thwarted by the twenty-mile round trip drive to a school in another town. Instead of seeking out a paying job, I filled any free hours with volunteer activities, all very fulfilling at the time. [Read More…]

Autumn Musings

leafIn Love With Death

Fifteen years ago, I was talking to a woman at a party who told me she absolutely hated the Fall season.  No bones about it – she loathed it and would never feel any different, no matter how many picture perfect postcards you could wave of New England’s vibrant color change.

To this day, this mystifies me. My favorite month of the year is October.  I am invigorated from October 1st till well after the Christmas holidays.  The month of October rejuvenates my spirit and I believe that the air I breathe in during that month sustains me for the rest of the year.

This same woman told me that the only thing she felt during the fall was the impending notion of winter.  It was as if on exactly September 21st, her bones began to brace themselves for all things cold.  At the time she had two small children and I asked her if the kids liked jumping in piles of leaves, apple picking, or of course, the thrill of Halloween.  She told me that she didn’t do leaf piles(there might be ticks) and yes she did Halloween but it was generally in a safe place like the mall.  [Read More…]

The Professional Photo Shoot (In Honor of My 3rd Child)

Lori and LouieThe night before the photo shoot, I made sure he had a bath. I brushed his teeth and trimmed his hair so you could see his eyes. The next morning when I said, “We’re going for a car ride,” Louie ran to the door and waited patiently. I packed a bag of his snacks and favorite toys. Finally we were ready. Louie, my dog, was ready for his first professional photo shoot.

I am an empty nester and Louie is my third child. I admit it. Louie has replaced my children – my husband knows it, my kids know it, and Louie knows it.

I love stopping at the pet store to buy little treats and toys for him. He also receives a monthly BarkBox of surprise toys and treats. My phone is filled with pictures of my dog. I feel like a new mom as I take pictures of every new thing he does or encounters.

He sleeps, I take a picture. He looks cute, I take a picture. He plays with a toy, I take a picture. It’s his birthday … well, you get the picture! [Read More…]

The Long Wave Goodbye

Dear Reader: Each year, I repost this essay, written when my children were young. However, it remains true to me; the original wave is etched in my heart and mind forever.  school bus

Today, I waved to my daughter riding away on the bus. The silly kind of wave – two arms, as if jumping for dear-life and flagging down a passing ship.  We both continued waving until the bus was out of sight.  Walking back to my house, I had a lump in my throat. I am both happy and sad.

I’m sad for the time which is passing so quickly; sad, too, that I see that my parenting must be working well – my own daughter still longs for me.  (I did not have that with my own mother.) I waited a long time to become a mother (again). I will continue to try my hardest to fulfill her need until her hands stop reaching for mine, the arm waves stop, and I see her waving to her friends – not me. That time is coming. In fact, it’s just around the corner.

Writer Kelly Salasin blogged, “There are so many deaths in mothering, beginning at the beginning, and arriving every day after. But equally matched with these deaths are the blessings of a new life – new growth – new possibility.” These words resonate with me and touch my heart. [Read More…]

Adoption’s Teachable Moment #27

Melanie's baby's photo

If you’ve been reading my posts, you’ll know that my family is a transracial adoptive family. My husband and I brought our son home with us from Ethiopia nearly 5 years ago when he was a little over a year old.

Since bringing him home, when we are with The Littlest E and sometimes without him, we’ve experienced those awkward and/or uncomfortable moments when someone says something inappropriate (but well meaning at times) about adoption.

They may say something that’s meant to be a joke, but comes off completely off color. Or, they may do something outright rude. When that happens, and it does, I use that as an opportunity for an “Adoption Teaching Moment” as I like to call it. [Read More…]

Feeling Very Mortal – The Tale Of a Weekend Warrior

Lydia and her bikeSprawled in the middle of the road, my son kneeling beside me, I asked, “Why are you home from college?” Not sure if I had said this out loud or merely thought it, I watched his face for signs of understanding.  It hurt to keep my eyes open.  But in those short seconds I saw the fright in his eyes.

“Mom, I graduated two years ago. I’m home for the 4th of July. Remember?”

Fuzzy- headed and aching in every joint, I replayed what might have happened. How strange not to be in charge. It was a reversal to be on the receiving end of my son’s concern.  He had never seen me in such a weakened state. I prided myself on being invincible, at least in his eyes.   [Read More…]

Creating Warriors

Cindy Weaver joyI move through the world as a warrior now – stronger and more courageous than I ever knew possible, but also deeply wounded.

Sometimes, I stop and address my wounds. Other times, I have to keep moving or I know I will die.  A warrior has to be strong, courageous and brave in the face of deep challenge.  A warrior does not know how it’s going to play out, but pushes forward in the face of uncertainty.

The warrior hurts but continues to fight in order to get to a better place.  The alternative to not being a warrior is to be consumed by the challenge.

Today, I received a picture from my daughter, Hope, taking a bath in the river, pouring water over her head.  As the frigid water splashed over hair, her head was thrown back, her face shining with exuberant joy.  One can only understand the depth of this joy by seeing the journey that she has faced, the rugged terrain traversed. [Read More…]

Spreading Mom’s Ashes

Part I

Lydia_cemetery“Go eat dinner while it’s hot.” These were Mom’s last words thirty minutes before she died. Ever a mother until the end, she never wanted or intended to be a burden. Nor did Mom want us missing a meal, even if I was the one now preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner.

My father, sister and I ate at the dining room table, not far from their first floor bedroom. I had set the table with the silver and china, just the way she had done for the past 60 years of their marriage. Gracious dining was the highest art form for my mother. There was no take-out in her world.

She must have known that death was imminent, but she kept it at a safe distance by refusing to go to the hospital and maintaining normalcy. Ironically, this took more effort for us, her two daughters. [Read More…]

Cyma Shapiro Interviews Ellie Stoneley, Author of Milky Moments

Milky MomentsDear Readers: In her first US interview, we are so pleased to welcome Mothering writer, mother, author, breastfeeding advocate, UK-based Ellie Stoneley, featuring her newly-released book, Milky Moments (published worldwide by Pinter & Martin Publishers) – a children’s book about breastfeeding.

Welcome Ellie!

Thank you Cyma … a very exciting and busy time for this mother of one (and I’m talking about my daughter as opposed to my first book!)

Q: Milky Moments features a variety of different mothers breastfeeding in a variety of social situations. It’s not only a beautiful book, but it stresses the importance of individuality and of making such a natural occurrence….well, natural! Was that your intent?

A: Absolutely that was my aim! When my daughter was first born, for her baptism, and for her first birthday, she was given a great many books. Often they depicted babies being fed … and all of those babies were being fed by either mother or father, sibling or grandparent, using a bottle, or feeding was simply signified via the image of a bottle. Not one of the books depicted the act, the normal, instinctive, natural act that is breastfeeding. [Read More…]

From Death to Life (A Mother’s Circle)

Laura Jane Murphy's ashes IIMy sister and I were recently able to return my precious mother’s ashes to her birthplace.

Honoring her life, we traveled back to her hometown. This little dot on the map, reminiscent of “Mayberry,” N.C , was established in the eighteenth century by her ancestors.

Mom died almost four years ago.  At the time of her passing, my sweet daughter was only ten.  Losing her grandmother led to a profound questioning of her own heritage. I will never forget the moment when she spilled her guts out in pain. Grief unleashed the deep sorrow of loss and awareness that she was not of my blood.

In that rare moment of emotional release, crying and in between gasp for air, she asked, “Why?  Why wasn’t I wanted?”  And, added the sentence, “You don’t know MY PAIN.”  [Read More…]

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