RSS

Category Archives: Daughter

It starts at the Marrakech Grill…


“What DO you want to be when you grow up, Shar?” It’s the same question my husband has asked me for years. Only this time, I have an answer. I hesitate before speaking, though, and think about how to respond.20160116_121227.jpg

We are at the Marrakech Grill in Denver, and I am on the hunt for the Happy, Fat, and Full. Those are three words that have become important to me. I don’t use them to describe my belly. I use them to describe my overall well-being. The short word would be BLISS. If I am happy, fat, and full in the wallet, I can relax. If I am happy, fat, and full in my marriage, I can relax. If I am happy, fat, and full spiritually, I can relax.

The Happy, Fat, and Full means I can enjoy the moment.

I look down at my plate and start the mini ritual that makes up my meal. Thinking of the salad scene in the Barbara Streisand movie, “The Mirror Has Two Faces”, I skewer the tender bite of Shish Kebab chicken on my fork. Then I add a bit of green pepper for balance and crunch. Next, I lightly skim the bite through the tzatziki sauce. Lastly, I plop it on the mound of Saffron rice, picking up several grains, to make THE PERFECT BITE. I bring it to my lips and… MMMM… it is.

The Perfect Bite. 

Munch Munch Munch. Chew Chew Chew. My husband watches me through this ritual, like he always does, with amusement and patience. He knows I am stalling, and he knows I know he knows. Twenty-four years of partnership is a good start to getting to know each other’s habits, I guess. He takes a bite of his own food, Chicken Shawarma with Basmati Rice, and seems content to wait me out. I swallow and start talking. “I want to write on purpose. With purpose, I guess. I want to be a travel writer.” My husband swallows, takes a swig of his Coke, and says simply, “About dang time.”

And it is.

For twenty-four years he has asked me what I wanted to do, or be, when I grew up, and at first I thought he was just teasing me. I mean, what else could I be, other than a mom and a wife? I had started off early with those two things on my resume, and had become resigned. Eighteen years old early, to be exact. But even before that, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to be. The closest I got was knowing I wanted to travel. I wanted to see the world.

pic of grantsvilleGrowing up in a small town had given me a taste for solving the mystery of what it was like Somewhere Else. Anywhere Else, actually. My parent’s library painted pictures of rain-forests on misty mountains, and gently lapping waves on a sandy, palm tree-laden islands. I wanted to see everything in reality. Up close and personal-like, and it all started outside of my small town.

But how to start? It just seemed a bit overwhelming.

My older sister got out to see the world. She was an exchange-student in France, and then a nanny back east, and I admired that. I didn’t like her when she left. We fought a lot growing up. But when she came back, she was different. She talked differently. She walked differently. She dressed differently. She was calm, and confidant. She seemed happy and… content.

I wanted that.

So I decided to be a nanny as well. In spite of my dislike for children. Uh… yeah. I, at 18, had no desire to be around children. And may I just give a big ‘ol apology to the kids I babysat, and also to their parents? No, nothing bad happened while on my watch. No, your kids weren’t monsters. No, I didn’t neglect them. I just didn’t know what to DO with them. So they played with board games or watched TV, and I watched them play, kept ’em safe, and looked at the clock. I had no clue how to engage with them. Mediocre, for sure.

new born baby ultrasoundImagine my surprise, then, when I picked up a permanent babysitting job. My own child. Karma started early, I believed, so I cancelled the nanny job I had lined up in Washington D.C., right after graduating high school, and began the adventure of motherhood. No regrets, whatsoever, for my son. He is 23 years old now and an amazing guy. Four sons and one daughter has given me quite a journey. However, my husband would ask that question every once in a while, and it would make me wonder.

He would usually ask while I was changing a diaper or feeding someone. And I would usually return the question with a withering look or a bark of a laugh. Being a mom and a wife was my life. My journey. My adventure. It’s all I had time for.

Right?

Well, as I finished my delicious food in the beautiful atmosphere of the Marrakech Grill with the love of my life, I looked back at my adventure. I realized how much I had hidden my head in the sand when it came to his question. “What do you want to be when you grow up, Shar?” This was a question I secretly shied away from. Because deep down, I wanted nothing more than to be out exploring as much of the world as I could get to. And that did not include me being in one spot, watching everyone else experience their life while I was “The Heart Of The Home”.

I didn’t feel like the heart of a home. It seemed ludicrous for me to play that role, actually. Especially starting out at 18 years old. I was to be in charge of prepping the place for others to enjoy. I was the warden, the custodian, the support group, and the clean-up crew for the family, of which I had created and which had come out of my loins, so they could learn, be safe, and grow.

Ludicrous!

I wanted to explore the world, but did not allow myself to think about exploring, because that would be the opposite of responsible. And it became supremely important to be responsible. In fact, it became everything. All consuming. I had to show others, and myself, that I could be a grown up. So I did. I did it the best way that I could, pulling on whatever lessons and experiences I had at 18. I learned along the way.

Spoiler Alert: It Got Good.

Looking back, the journey got intense. Many times. But, along with the intensity came this: THE LOVE. THE COMPANIONSHIP. THE BONDS. I hadn’t counted on that. I don’t know why. I mean, I had heard so many times in my community that the calling of motherhood was the highest calling there was. A huge blessing. I just never believed them, while I was having back labor,  fainting with every pregnancy and earning bed rest. I didn’t recognize the blessings while cleaning up toys and books and dinner and kids faces for the umpteenth time in one day. imageI surely didn’t see any while holding a crying infant as my two-year-old screamed bloody murder at a Wal-Mart, with so many of those same community mothers looking on disapprovingly. I didn’t count on the blessings of love, because I was busy babysitting. Nevertheless, the bonds between my kids and husband grew.

That bond grew between those kids and I, in spite of the chaos that is motherhood. As they grew up, my adventure became less about being on the hunt for sleep and privacy, and more about individual memories where they would play the piano with me, or dance around with abandon while I played it. Or sharing jokes and stories while we drove around, going from scouts to camps to play dates.

Eventually, I knew what to do with these kids. I stopped babysitting, and started mothering. And it got good. Along with being responsible and in charge all the time, the good stuff canceled out the heartaches. I think it still does. So now, my journey of motherhood will not stop, if I start writing and traveling while I do it. It will just be a different role: Empowerment Coach. “Yes, it is about time, Husband.”  In the Marrakech Grill, I have found my Happy, Fat, and Full.20160116_121213.jpg

 

Advertisements
 

Sick Kids Rock…


Yes. I said it. I have a soft spot in my heart for the magic moment when my kids get sick. Now let me clarify… There is a difference between “Mom, I don’t feel good. Can I stay home from school?” And “barf, I just threw up!”

Here is the difference: The whining. THE WHINING!

when said child is not feeling well, all I hear is the reinforcement, in whining voice, that they are sick. In addition to the requests for water, takeout, and wanting the tv shows changed.

But when he/she is truly sick… This is where the magic happens.

My independent child goes QUIET. Quiet, do you hear?  She/he lays in bed or on the sofa and breathes in and out quietly. It becomes my job, nay, my labor of love, to change out barf bowls, bedding, and wash clothes on foreheads.

Now why on earth would this be a positive???

because my kids are teens. And young adults, that’s why. They spend their days cutting the apron strings and letting me know in no uncertain terms that they can “Do it on their own”.  This can make me proud that they do their own chores, laundry, and school work, but they also down play hugs and back rubs given by me. And they certainly stop initiating it.

So. So, I miss it. And for this reason, I selfishly love that they need me again. Gone is the need to push me away a bit. And in its place is an attitude of gratitude. They accept hugs and even kisses on the forehead. They say thank you for changing the cool wash clothes on their forehead. They are thankful for the medicine and glasses of water, or mugs of tea.

And that is what I love.

So I will take the late nights of staying up with them, and changing of barf bowls. Because what comes with it is the assurance that they still want and need their mom.

🙂

 

 

 

 

Of grieving, living, and fruit…


It’s February now. I have not been back Home to see mom since dad passed away.  I call her every few days, or at least weekly, but it is all small talk, and we never bring him up.

I cry, without fail, after I hang up with mom, but somehow never allow myself to show sadness to her directly. I usually call my youngest sister within that hour. For whatever reason, I can grieve only with her. She lives close to mom and sees her every day.

I feel jealous, or maybe envious, of her.

Sometimes I feel guilty for being alive when my loved one is gone. I mean, I know he was 73 when he went, and he had a very full life and … Blah, blah, blah…I still just wish I could see him, and talk with him again.

i guess this is grieving, right?

for a while, I didn’t let myself cry. Like it would betray his life. Or his memory, I guess. Like I am supposed to remember only the good. He passed away with family and loved ones surrounding him. He was a good man that left behind a legacy of kindness and service. He was a good chess player and advice giver. Stuff like that.

now I cry when I think of him. Or when I don’t think of him first, but then forget I should be thinking of him. I cried on his birthday, and on Christmas. I will cry on my moms birthday.   I am crying now.

it feels good. To have my eyes leak about him. I don’t fully sob, yet. Let’s be clear about that. When I say I cry, I screw up my face and let the tears come, holding in the sobs for another time. I will cry later, I say.

This is how I grieve. Amid live, I guess. I mean, life goes on.That is cruel, sometimes, that life moves and swirls around tragedy and pain. I still notice that the sun comes up. There is still beauty in the world. My kids still need me. I still eat and sleep and watch the latest episode of Downton Abbey.  And, I still smile.

many things stay the same and are all the sweeter for it. The alarm sounds at 7 a.m. On school days. My husband and I go to Pho on Mondays for lunch. My son sakes for the car, and to stay out late, like clockwork. I can count on those things.

but then there’s the fruit.

odd, but my fruit changed. All of a sudden, and for the first time in my life, our fruit bowl is not full of fresh fruit. It is not arranged with apples, oranges and bananas that get eaten for the first week, and then are left to spoil, only to be thrown out and changed all over.

something as ingrained as fresh fruit has been changed to fruit in a cup. Fruits in cups? Eh… You know what I am saying. Those single servings of mini oranges, mangos, and peaches, all diced and covered in light syrup. Or heavy syrup, if I can find it. (I haven’t found it yet, but am still on the hunt.)

so about 20 fruit cups get deposited every 2 weeks, and are completely devoured, every time.  No one says a word about the change. They just get gobbled up. Why this matters to me is that it is something I have let go of. I don’t know if this is a phase, or it is a new tradition. A tradition of having teens and adults indulge in what is traditionally a kids thing, every day, and fooling ourselves into pretending it is healthy as fresh fruit.

I guess I realize that life is too short to stand on principle alone. Think outside the box, for gosh sakes, at least for a while.  So I coddle my kids when they have food poisoning, instead of leaving them with more room to barf in peace. (They are teens now, I would have figured. They don’t want me smothering them when they are this old.) again, they don’t say a word about it. They just let me in, and coddle me back, I guess. We never speak about what the changes mean, or when they started, but we all know. We all know that when a loved one passes away, some rules just don’t matter.

some customs, and traditions shore us up, but others, like affection and fruit, can be improved upon.

 

Tags:

An Update…


Dad passed away on October 7th. Just 2 weeks ago now.
In some ways, it feels like years.
In other ways, I am still in the middle of it.

I see the sunshine seeping in my parents kitchen window. It’s about 2:00 PM, and it’s just that right temperature of warm but not too warm.  I still hear dad breathing hard in the other room, from his hospice bed. He is in the very last hours, and 2 of us kids hold his hands at all times. It’s not my turn. (When it is my turn, I look forward to touching his warm skin, and looking at his face, knowing I won’t have very long to do that.) His breathing gets easier for a bit, then stops. We all count, as we have been told that an apnea can come at this time, stopping the breathing for anywhere from 15-45 seconds. …5, …10, …15, and he takes in a deep breath. We all take a breath, too, and continue our scrabble game.

Yeah, scrabble. We were playing a game while my father was dying. We had been looking over and after him for 5 days straight, and as neighbors, friends, and relatives came to say their goodbyes,  or dropping off cards and food and hugs, well at some point we just realized that it was ok to do something other than watch the man die. It didn’t mean we loved him any less. In fact, it was probably a relief for him to hear some laughter and gossip coming from the next room, like in old times. (You should probably know that dad got 5 daughters, and would lament, only half jokingly, that he had somehow upset The Lord for Him to punish dad with so many chattering, laughing, bickering daughters…)

So we went on with our game. QAT was my word, and I got it hooked to a double word score. Woot! And I did woot, right out loud.  We all looked at each other quickly, and then at dad in the other room. And our voices raised even more. It was almost a relief to remember that we were allowed to be living, while he was dying. It was odd, but during this vigil, we still ate meals, and hugged each other, and talked normally.

At first this all felt like a betrayal. How dare I sleep when I should be watching over this dying man! Right? And I could not imagine leaving his hospital bed, whether to go to the bathroom or for food, a walk outside, or to play a game of scrabble. Why should I go do these things when he could not?  I don’t know what I expected. I guess for us to be hush hush around him so he could labor in quiet…. I guess that was it.

Well, life is not tidy.

What happened instead was 8 siblings descending upon the Thornton home, from across all sorts of states, all in various stages of grieving. The one thing that didn’t happen was quiet. I was stupefied. The house of grieving flipped like a switch. We had a room of crying and whispering. A room of food prep and eating. Then we had a room of catching up and visiting. And, because we are Thorntons, that room turned into a room of laughter and loudness. In all rooms, reverence was gone.

It was the best thing that happened, in my opinion.  Where I had been moping and obsessing before, being exhausted beyond belief, there was now a life and energy renewed.  Instead of literally watching a man die to death, we provided a father and husband with family living and celebrating his life all around him.

We played board games in the kitchen, just a few feet from where his hospice bed was set up.  We played the piano where he could hear his favorite songs. We put Pandora on the iPad and let him listen to the “Tabernacle Choir” channel because he loved the music so much. And it worked

Whatever IT was.

IT spread through the house gradually. Through each room of sadness, IT seeped in and smiled the sadness away. Oh.  The IT was… Peace.

Peace spread through the house and household. It made it ok for us to laugh or cry. It made it ok for us to sleep in, or stay up all nigh with our sweet dad. Peace made it ok for dad to rally at the end, for us.  He came out of the labored sleep he was in, and acknowledged those who were there in the house. He said he loved hearing the music. He touched our faces and let the little ones give him kisses or high fives. He loved our laughter and talking which, he said, just sounded like LOVE.

And that was when I let go of the process looking a certain way.  I was not in charge, and neither was anyone else. Dad’s death was between him and The Lord. My only responsibility was to be part of the peace and love that was family.  And so I did.

He passed away peacefully, between one breath and another, with family around him.

 

Never Too Late…


6th Grade Math Book_4912

I’ve decided to get up out of bed (a very comfy bed with controls for your head and legs, I might add), and live life with a purpose today.  What does that mean to me? Being outward focused, so I called my daughters elementary school. Parents volunteer, right? I mean, I haven’t done it since my oldest son (now 21) was in elementary school, but still.  I guess it is time.  PTA, and all that, right?

I started out by asking if they (the 2 teachers of my daughter, who’s in 6th grade) would like some help in her class.  I was told that they have plenty of volunteers….except for during math. That should have been my red flag, right there, but I remembered that I enjoyed math (until my senior year in high school, I mean), so I said sure I would love to help out, not realizing what I was in for.

The nice lady teacher, Ms. Harding, let me know that they do math at 10:30 every day. She did not, however, sound very enthused that I would be coming in.  In fact, she didn’t specify when she wanted me to start, or what I would be doing, or anything.  So I asked if she really wanted help in this area, or was she just being nice to let me volunteer.  She said that she has a high turnover rate of parents and math.

Well! That sounded like a red flag…

I got nervous.  But would I tell her that? Nope. I’m a bit stubborn.

I said I would be there next week, and hung up the phone. This would give me time to spiff up my 6th grade math. (I haven’t used anything other than basic math skills for years.  It’s true. Don’t tell my kids.) And how hard could it be, after all? It’s 6th GRADE, for crying out loud!

Oh how the mighty can fall!

So this is me doing research online about what the 6th grade level math skills entail.  AND… I’m ticked. Good grief! I feel like I have no skills at all! I have forgotten how to solve for X, for starters. Let alone divide fractions! When did my head turn to mush?  I raised 5 kids and taught them how to tie their shoes, make their beds, cook, clean, and drive (Not my daughter, yet.  Just being clear…).

At what time did I trade in my scholastic education for the family education? Did I really let this happen?  And I’ll tell you what! I’m starting to panic. I almost, in my panic today, forget how to spell encyclopedia and Mississippi!  I ran through my math, science, history, and English highlights in my head, and it only took a few minutes! What the? Where’s the rest? I’m getting more and more despondent.  I realized that the more I texted the shortened versions of things like LOL on my phone, the less I think capitalizing and punctuation are important.  AAAAH!

By this time, I am sure that I am just minutes away from Alzheimer’s Disease. I hear that if I’m not expanding my knowledge, I am losing it, after all. I’m ready to lie back down!

So after I had a cup of hot chocolate and calmed down, I realized that all is not lost.  I put my cup away and hopped online. I typed in “6th Grade Math”, and there it was. All the info I needed to spiff up my skills. And when I get lost and have to look up what the FOIL method is? It’s right there too.

Whew!

Next, I went into grammar.  You know what? I didn’t lose those skills, I just forgot for a bit.  “I Before E, Except After C” does still hold true and make sense to me. Then Chemistry. The periodic table is still online if I need to cheat to find out what the symbol for Hydrogen is.  Tomorrow I will delve into history. Yep, history.   But first…

This whole path today led me to registering for free online classes from Texas University, Yale, and Berkley. Yeah, I said free. They are the same classes as people who are there, in person, but I get to piggy back and sit in for free. Oh I love technology.

Right now, I am learning about Pharmacy Drug Interaction phases. And am happy as a clam.

Thank you, volunteering process for 6th grade math. It got me out of my bed, led me on a merry chase, and put me all the way to the sofa, learning to love learning again. Even if I’m nervous about volunteering on Monday, I’ll be back in the right frame of mind.

And maybe I’ll stay and volunteer to eat lunch with my daughter.  I don’t really need to read up on that subject.  🙂

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Did I Win That Battle?…


Whew!

I just had the fight of my life. It knocked me down, bruised me, and left me breathless. I was scraped and I scraped in return. It was exhausting. And not a finger was lifted.

I was in an argument with my daughter. My 11-year-old daughter.

Angry face

I remember in vivid detail how she felt and smelled and sounded as I brought her home from the hospital, just 2 days after she was born. I remember when she smiled for the first time. I remember her walking, and riding a bike and …. you get the picture.  I DO NOT REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME SHE SNEERED AT ME.

It has come on so gradual. What the heck? Most times she is loving and caring. She comes home from school bubbly and warm, barely containing the good news that comes with … whatever school has to bring her that day. It is just those few times that I feel I have been through the wringer with her.

This time, I woke her up too soon to go to church. Granted, it was at 9:00 A.M., and that was even early for me. But nevertheless, it was time

to go, and I started waking her up gently. “Hi hon. It’s time to get up for church. Can you get up for me? Should I start the shower for you? (usually this gets a good response. no such luck this time.)”

What I heard in return was a groan, a comment that she was sick, and a grunt as she pulled the covers over her head.  From there, it got a bit ugly. Not all at once, you see. It just gradually turned into a battle of wills. She pushed my buttons, and in turn, I pushed hers. I didn’t even know I was acting like her! Like a child. Like a tween. And, I lost the battle.

It ended with a slap.

It ended with crying, and stony silence. It ended up in catastrophe.. Needless to say, church was a mess. Nothing was taken in, and nothing spiritual was to be let in our hard hearts. Even prayer was fruitless.  What did work was saying I Am Sorry.

Yes, it was me that uttered the apology. Yes, it was me that was supposed to. Yes, I had no idea whether she would accept it or not.

She did.

English: A of , Croesyceiliog. Located on Newp...

She broke down crying, and so did I.  Right there in the chapel. People thought we were caught up in the spirit of the Lord. 🙂 We weren’t.  But we were caught up in the spirit of loving each other. Our bonds of love overcame the battle of wills, and I was so thankful. Sniffling, with tears running down my face, and my nose and eyes red, I came to know that my sweet girl was being just fine. She was doing exactly what she was supposed to do. She was being 11.

She rocked.

So now here I am, listening to her laugh as she runs up the stairs, the morning forgotten, and I wonder at the sweet child she is, and at the hormones that run through her body.  I wait for the next trigger and realize that it is me that needs to grow up. It is me that needs to have patience with her. It is me that needs more tenderness.

The battle that we had, was such a good lesson for me because I will remember the slap. I will remember the harsh words, and I will remember that she is my daughter. She is my labor of love. She is worth it.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Aside

 

 

 

#ds469 - Fear, Dread, Neuralgia

I was asked to write about my strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness. The memory that pops up is one that still makes me cringe. It was something that made my stomach hurt, and my legs twitch. It felt surreal to me. I can’t remember who helped me get dressed that day or what was said, but before this happened, I was so sick inside that I couldn’t eat or drink. When the event came up I had a dry mouth and bad breath.

 

Not a good way to walk down the aisle to get married, eh?

 

Now, I know now that the man I married is my perfect companion, but it has taken every bit of the 21 years we have lived together to find that out. I love this man with all of my heart. He makes me happy, and I work every day to help him remember that he loves me, too.

 

We just had to grow up together to find that out.

 

Bride's veil close-upWhen we started the journey, I was 19 years old and had decided that he was NOT the man for me. So imagine my surprise when he wiggled on in to my heart, in spite of circumstance and opinion. Before I knew what happened, I was in an enormous veil (the moms-in-law had made it together as a token of their … support…), an off white, 2-piece wool suit-dress (It was to be something I was to wear later, over and over again), and a baby bump. Now don’t get me wrong. The man I was marrying was an amazing man. He was strong and confidant. He was attractive and charismatic. He was….18.

 

The nervousness came simply because I was walking down the aisle. The aisle that represented a few things:

 

1. The vows that say “Till Death Do You Part”? In my part of town, it meant, “FOREVER, Whether You Are Dead Or Not, There IS No Getting Out Of This.”

 

2.Once we were married, we would be OLD.

 

3. We have no plan as far as having a job, or an apartment, or a life plan. AAAAAHHHH!

 

Man, that was a long aisle.

 

So there I was, in my hideous veil and dress, feeling like this was a pretend day. Maybe a practice day. I knew that some friends and class-mates were there. I knew there was a bishop to officiate the occasion. Even Mr. Butcher, the music teacher, was there to offer the music. And I knew that I had a 2 tier cake from Soelberg’s, the small-town grocery store (they did a beautiful job.).

 

I had all these things lined up, and I still felt that this was pretend. In the room upstairs where I was to wait for “The Music” to bring me down the stairs and down the aisle, my pits wouldn’t stop sweating. My makeup was running at the corners of my eyes, and my heart kept pounding.

 

What was wrong with me? I had already decided to go through with it, right? I had made my list of pro’s and con’s (mom taught me to do that for every hard decision in life. It was a close list, but my loving the man at the end of the aisle kind of bumped it over). I was even told, “You made your bed, now lie in it.” (That was my Aunt Marlene. Man, I didn’t like her at the time…). This was a day I should have been happy, right? Nope. I was terrified.

 

Cold Feet

 

It didn’t occur to me that anyone else could have cold feet. I didn’t know there was a term, “Cold Feet“. Why should I? I wouldn’t normally be thinking of marriage at 19! Nevertheless, I had them big time. It just didn’t occur to me that any other woman, or man for that matter, could have questions like mine.  I just assumed I was the only one that couldn’t see the carpet under her feet, or the sunshine pouring in on this special day.

 

Thus the terrified look as I almost slunk down those stairs, then pushed my back straight, and walked down that path that brought me to him. To This. To Now.

 

I am so glad I went through my most terrifying moment. I am so glad I pushed through, instead of backing away. For me, I have spent my 20’s and 30’s with my best friend. We have gotten to see life as a couple. We have had some really scary, really hard, and really sucky times, but we have pushed through them. I think we got to push through them because we made the leap in the first place, to push through.

 

My man didn’t tell me until many years later that he had cold feet so bad he almost left me at the altar. Good for him. 🙂

 

 

 

That Worst/Best Memory…

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: