Reinventing Ourselves

A Life After 40….5…..?

Carmel Harrington Fall 2015I’ve been writing full time for almost five years, starting just after I turned forty. It’s a funny age isn’t it? On one hand we are told, over and over that life is just beginning, on the other, that it’s all downhill from here.

I, being a glass half full kind of gal, chose to believe the former.

Making the decision to change careers was a terrifying one. I was a Sales and Marketing Manager, with a company car, expense account and decent salary. To become a writer meant giving all that up, because there is no fixed salary for this profession. Many authors never earn a minimum wage, never mind a decent living. And taking aside that not insurmountable obstacle, every time I thought about sharing something I’d written, I’d become paralysed with fear.

It was one thing to kick stories around in my head, another to show the world those very words that up until then I’d kept hidden. who I wanted to be, who I really was. [Read More…]

The Delicate (And Sometimes Painful But Growth-Producing) Art of Co-Parenting

co-parentingOn the eve of what would have been my 15th wedding anniversary, I’m thinking about how I felt on the night before my wedding.

I remember vividly how excited I was to marry my long-time friend. It felt completely right to be laughing with him, eating dinner surrounded by our family and friends, ready to cheer us on as we began our new life. Not only was I in love, but I was full of hope for the promise of what was before us. There was no hint of the idea that this type of love would not last forever.

Fast forward to this afternoon – leaving work in a hurry to meet the bus at my house to pick up my son at drop off and race to my daughter’s soccer game. I was looking forward to it as it was the first I’d been able to attend in two weeks. On the ride there my son asked, “Will Daddy be there?”

“I don’t know Buddy,” I replied not giving it much thought. We hadn’t discussed it during our hurried text conversation of who was picking up who within the last couple days and at that particular moment, he was on my nerves. We’d had a disagreement only days before, so his presence at the game was not on my mind. [Read More…]

By |October 12th, 2015|Categories: Commentary, Daily Living, Motherhood, Mothers Over 40, Reinventing Ourselves|Tags: , |0 Comments

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…]

Where Did the Time Go?? (Letting Go of My Teenager – One Step At a Time)

IMG_3153 (1)My sweet toddler, who only a minute ago was going off to pre-school, is starting high school this week.  I am terrified!

All these spinning emotions are rising to the surface and I woke today with butterflies in my gut.

I was in high school 42 year ago and I don’t have a clue where to begin with all the changes that have taken place.

It’s times like these that I wish my daughter had an older sibling, cousin, someone who could bridge the gap and be there to navigate this new terrain for the next four years. [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…]

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…]

The Difference Between Dad Privilege and Mom Privilege

being nice to dadWelcome to June! That time of year when we celebrate fathers and all of the things that they do to help out in the raising of their children. Although actually, “help out” makes it sound like they are not required to do any child raising and are strictly volunteering on a benevolent basis. “Hey, you didn’t have to do that! But thanks!”

This idea, that fathers are over-praised for doing the most basic of tasks (taking kids to the store, reading a bedtime story, living in the same house as the rest of the family), has led some to dismissively call out “Dad Privilege,” claiming that fathers have it much easier and don’t have to put in half the work mothers do to be deemed a success.

Let me be very clear. What you are thinking of as “Dad Privilege” has another name in the dad community. We call it “Mom Privilege.” [Read More…]

How Our Family Makes Father’s Day a “Biggie” Deal

Christy Stansell FamilyI hope you don’t have one, but if you do, I’m guessing your court order looks something like mine: the child will spend Mother’s Day with Mom and Father’s Day with Dad, even if it is “supposed” to be the other parent’s weekend.  That was all good and fine…. until I got remarried… and now my husband – the “step-dad” – never gets to have Father’s Day with his step-daughter.  It’s heart-wrenching.

When my second husband and I were dating, my little girl told me, “When my dad goes to heaven, I want Biggie to be my daddy.”  We called him “Biggie” because, as God’s humor would have it, he and my daughter have the same name, just spelled differently. Little did she know then that it wouldn’t be long before she’d get her wish. I remarried soon after my daughter’s 6th birthday.  She delighted in being the flower girl for our wedding.

Now my forever-husband and my daughter are “like this” (picture fingers wound together tightly!) And, even though her birth father is still alive, my daughter calls her step-dad “Daddy” (much to her biological father’s chagrin.)  I’m not about to forbid my daughter from calling him whatever endearment she feels comfortable. Honestly, if her dad got remarried, and she wanted to call his wife “Mom” I’d let her, without complaint, because I’m confident in my role as her mother… but I digress. [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…]

Featured In