Woman@Heart

Musings on Life, Love and Leftovers

Archive for the category “family time”

Woman@Heart: Essays on Life, Love, Laughter & Tear

Just Released

WatH 3DWomen are an unstoppable force, united by sticky note to-do lists, soccer schedules, and occasional spa pedicures. We share laughter and sorrows, taking comfort in each other’s strengths and commonality of experiences. Woman@Heart is a celebration of that sisterhood.

Originally published as columns in thirty regional magazines, these heartfelt, whimsical essays are mirrors every woman peers into and frequently recognizes herself. Each piece shares the unpredictable, meaningful – and often comical – adventures of one gal’s journey as a daughter, a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend.

In these slices of life, you’ll find a sisterly common ground; a witty safe place to laugh at our circumstantial camaraderie and be inspired by the female spirit.

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Momisms: A Mother’s Words of Advice

My sons will never be mothers. They’ll never know firsthand the joys of morning sickness, labor, and delivery. Hopefully, one day they will become parents, but the closest they’ll get is to be a dad. And in my world, fatherhood is light years away from motherhood.

Sure, dads teach their children neat stuff like how to hit a ball off a tee, draw to an inside straight, or burp out the National Anthem. But it’s mom who imparts the meaningful wisdom, the stuff that changes lives. Moms do more than teach you how to sew on a button or make a hard-boiled egg. Our advice is a mixture of the practical (check for TP before you sit down), the emotional (laugh some every day) and the spiritual (what goes around, comes around).

I didn’t embrace this role as the family sage. It just came with the territory; this mammoth task of offering insight, common sense, and real-world perspective to my sons. To share the knowledge I’ve garnered over the past few decades. This is a lifelong project and I realize that a lot of what I have to say isn’t original, new, or high-tech. With my advice and $3.75 they could get a grande mocha at the mall. In fact, some of my most useful nuggets of enlightenment are borrowed, recycled, or stolen directly from my mom, Florence.

Nevertheless, as the days unfold, I continue to reveal my own brand of “momisms” to Shawn, Jake and Seth, when I think they’re listening—however, frequently they’re not. That’s usually when I’ll hear my mom’s voice coming from my mouth. “Never give up. Don’t waste anything. This, too, will pass. You get less wrinkles if you smile.”

I think I’ve come up with a few of my own gems—words my sons will sagely repeat in years to come, as they become adults, get married, and parent my grandchildren. Here are some of my favorites, offered in no particular order; strategies that help me keep priorities straight in the midst of chaos, confusion, and what we commonly call daily life. Borrow, rewrite or purloin what you wish:

Put things back where you found them.

Spend less than you make.

Don’t be in a rush to grow up.

Don’t be in a rush for your children to grow up.

Smile often.

Listen more than you talk.

Take time for those you love.

Each day is a new chance to discover your life.

Things work out.

Don’t be afraid to say: I love you. Thank you, and I’m sorry.

Pray, pray, and then pray some more.

A new pair of shoes fixes just about anything.

Stay in the moment.

Take out the trash, even if it isn’t your turn.

You’ll get another chance.

Put the seat down.

Hug someone every day. When you are hugged, hug back.

Put on a pot of tea.

Use a tissue.

Walk the dog.

Grow roses.

It’s okay to be bored.

Don’t put the empty box back on the shelf.

Pack an extra pair of underwear.

Floss.

Let the other guy go first.

Take care of your friends.

Count to ten. Count to ten again.

My hope is that what I’ve learned and tried to pass on to my children will enhance their lives in ways that successful careers and money can’t. But that’s probably wishful thinking. Let’s be real: none of us takes Mom’s word for it. I didn’t. I had to find things out in my own way. I still do. No shortcuts for Claire. And inevitably, when life presents me with another chance to learn a lesson (check the gas tank before you get on the freeway), I nod my head and think: Yeah, Mom told me that. She knew.

My trio of fellas is wandering down their own “I-gotta-learn-it-myself” path. They’re figuring out the stuff I tried to tell them. In the years to come, when they become dads, I hope they’ll see the value of what I’ve shared. The greatest compliment to me would be to see that same head nod. A recognition of that ah-ha moment when it all comes together. And they’ll think: Yep, Mom really did know what she was talking about.

Follow me on Twitter @claireflaire               claire@clairefadden.com,

Like my Facebook Fan Page                            Join my mailing list.

 

Get The Picture

Every summer, under a crisp, sunny summer sky, serious faces study programs, debate odds and circle sure winners in the racing form. There are a few minutes to post as my family mills around, each one with an ink pen at the ready. It’s our annual Uncle George Day at the horse races. This group of about 20 is focused on how to parlay two dollars into two hundred.  Everyone, that is except me. My winning ticket involves capturing this moment with one snap of my digital camera. Corralling chickens is easier.uncle george day

Hours earlier we set up lawn chairs and spread blankets on Del Mar’s trackside apron in preparation for a picnic of sandwiches, fruit and chips. Gathered alongside my husband, Nick, are our kids and kids by choice. Sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, cousins and long-time friends join in the fun.  No one is interested in the future importance of photos chronicling our outing to where the turf meets the surf. More attention is paid to an over-sized bag of kettle corn propped against the cooler.

Nonetheless, I remain undaunted and perhaps a tad annoying. It’s not every day this group, spread over hundreds of miles, is together. Hoping to placate me — and have a chance to get their bets in before the windows close — people slowly shift into frame. A few even smile. I smile back as I take the picture.  “Oh, don’t move,” I say. And the voice of any of my sons replies, “We’ve got to take two.”

Photo Bomb at Uncle George Day (2018_01_26 07_27_09 UTC)

Photo bomber circled!

With the images safely stored on my smartphone, everyone moves to their original places. The sound of a trumpet blares in the distance. A few scurry to the betting windows, seemingly mesmerized by names like Briarpatch Betty, Countyourwinnings and Pappaspepper. The younger kids scamper toward the metal fence surrounding the track and watch the horses and their jockeys trot to the starting gate. I breathe a sigh. Another family memory captured for eternity.

My gang doesn’t realize it yet, but someday these random snapshots, converted to digital data, will become family treasure. We moms, know. That’s why many of us assume the role of family photographer/historian, with the same seamless leadership and commitment we exhibit as family party planner, nutritionist and chauffeur. And this usually means we’re not in the picture — at least most of the time. That’s a small price to pay in exchange for the satisfaction of having the images of those we love preserved on a sheet of photo paper, tucked into a family album or captured on a computer slide show.

IMG_2289

I wasn’t always a fan of digital photography. I mistrusted anything I couldn’t drop off at the drugstore for developing. It took nearly a year after receiving a digital camera for Christmas before I traded in my insecure attachment of film rolls for the convenience, efficiency and quality of a digicam. I fell in love with knowing instantaneously whether the photo was good or not. No more waiting days or weeks to find out I had blinked, someone had looked away or one of my sons (or their pals) had photo-bombed the picture.

Later that day, while everyone else gathers around the dining room table recapping their winners and losers, I sneak off to my computer to download the candid shots snapped in between races. I linger a moment and after a few mouse clicks, I open a digital slide show of other family events. One son’s first day at kindergarten, their grandmother’s 80th birthday, the sweet smile of a new bride, the joyous birth of a grandchild. It doesn’t matter where the pictures are stored — in an album, on a hard drive or at a photo sharing site. Or whether my face is among the group grinning from the image. I’m part of the moment and the emotion that only a photo can preserve.

I smile as the pictures glide past, reminding me of forgotten occasions. Like the sleepy Saturday morning I had awoken everyone early for a family portrait. The professional photographer insisted the light at Coronaod beach was best before the clouds disbursed.  Sometime around 7 a.m.  Complaints and protests — mostly Nick’s — echoed in my ears. “Why are we up earlier than the sun?” he moaned, as he and our young sons trudged barefoot through the wet sand to reach a sea wall.

Wearing rolled-up jeans and white T-shirts, our fivesome posed casually, while the photographer captured our smiles forever. It’s a great portrait. And that time, I was in the picture.

 

 

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