Tag Archives: parenting

Throwback thanksgiving

Pies from Debbie’s Kitchen, Albany NY

When I was a kid I had faux aunts and uncles. There were no true relatives (that I knew about) in the States, so my mother provided close friends who functioned on some level as family. It was a laudable attempt and there were some good people in our lives during those years, some of whom remain to this day.

One of these families, the Ls, had the most multi limbed family tree in the my world and I loved the holidays we shared with them over the years. Dinner usually included all of the following: the married couple, (about the same age as my mom), and their daughter, who was a toddler when we met, his son from his first marriage, joined by her two children from her first marriage. Also present, her first husband with his son from his second marriage. And the three of us.

It seemed like the most exciting, bizarre and totally normal holiday gathering ever. The traditions all blurred together, Jewish, Italian American, German, and the food was crazy – lasagna, bagels with lox, ham and fruit cake. Thinking about those days always makes me smile big.

Yesterday, for the first time in a few years, I had Thanksgiving dinner with friends. It was very low key and comfortable. We brought desserts and a savory vegetable casserole to join the bounty that was already present. While we didn’t play backgammon for boxes of Marlboro Reds, (as I might have decades ago with “my” extended family), we sipped far better wine than in those long ago days, with a mood which was comparably mellow.

My first attempt at curd – Cranberry Curd Tart from the NYT.

At the table was my UG* and his children. And his children’s mom and her partner, along with her partner’s parents and her brother and sister in law. Looking around the table and seeing the threads that tied us all together, I couldn’t help but smile at the familiarity of the situation.

We recreate the chaos with which we are most comfortable. (I use “chaos” here to suggest a familiar dynamic with lots of activity, not as an indication of lack of control.) There’s a vibe or pace that we try to replicate, whether it’s conscious or not, because that’s what we grew up knowing.

Sitting at the dining table with a bunch of people who, through the years, have chosen to share their lives with one another, defines the holidays for me, even more than turkey and cranberry sauce. The combination of common histories and yet-to-be-explored future activities is what I was raised on and yesterday was the first time I felt that familiar energy in a long time.

It was a good holiday.

How was yours?

*don’t ask me what it means, it’s a private joke term of endearment

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Filed under aging, Albany, Boys, Christmas, Dinner, drinking, Eating, family, Food, friends, girlhood, holidays, Local, love, marriage, musings, Observations, relationships, upstate New York, Wine

Catch up!

Believe it or not, DelSo is nearly ten years old. It’s been a pretty interesting run for me. Writing and sharing my life with people who take in my words, without looking in my eyes, is a sometimes odd experience.

My original concept, an inspired idea without much planning (aka The Silvia Story), was a community blog with neighborhood things and local events. I had birthed the sometimes hated name, DelSo and, for some weird reason, it stuck. I’ll never stop smiling just thinking about “DelSo” appearing in some official city mailings and on Google Maps. Kids, you can make up your own language!

Anyway, my idea was to explore happy hours around town and write about it. Low key, kind of insider foodie stuff. Fun. You know, light.

My life changed and the blog changed. There was a lot of emotion and readers responded. I grew to accept that the stories I shared were, in fact, mine to tell and if my transparency revealed the shadows of others, it wasn’t my intention.

DelSo has been a consistent outlet for nearly a decade, something I never imagined. Since last spring I’ve also been publishing pieces on a new platform, CivMix. Some of the topics are similar to things I’ve written about right here, but they’ve been tweaked a little differently. Truthfully, I sometimes wrestle with where to publish what. It feels like some weirdo writer’s infidelity thing. Whatever.

Here are some recent posts I’ve written over at CivMix. Hope you enjoy them – S

Travels With Sons

 

http://civmix.com/2019/09/the-school-year-…chers-confession/

Why Own When You Can Rent?

http://civmix.com/2019/09/the-waterboys-ca…-theater-9-19-19/

Beach birthday – Jersey Shore Weekend

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Filed under aging, Albany, birthdays, Boys, DelSo, Events, family, ideas, Local, musings, Observations, Recommendations, road trips, Summer, travel

When silver is golden

Twenty-five years ago today I got married. It was a beautiful day filled with special moments and memories I will never forget. The photographer complained  that the skies were too blue and lacking clouds, yet he still managed to capture images that illustrate what a great day it truly was.

I was 27, nearly 28, on that Labor Day weekend Sunday. I thought of myself as an “older bride.” Friends and family came from miles and miles away  to join my groom and me in Washington Park where it seemed that the flower beds had conspired to fit our color scheme, It was everything I had ever imagined my wedding day to be.

The reception was held in a historic Shaker meeting house where guests enjoyed a delicious meal catered by the only restaurant to say “We’re caterers. Tell us what you want and if it’s possible, we’ll do it” instead of “You must have three hot h’or d’oeuvres and three cold h’or d’oeuvres and 2 salads and…” People talked about the food for years. We had so much fun.

But, as you know, a wedding day does not make a marriage. A marriage is hard work under skies that are not always blindingly blue. Learning and growing together takes effort and sacrifice and communication and maybe I wasn’t really as old as I thought I was on that gorgeous summer day.

Somewhere along the way we got lost. Our marriage ended and, while I take no joy in that, I am so very proud of how we’ve together parented the children our love created. We have always been able to put our children and their well being first and avoid the ugliness I’ve seen in far too many divorces.

While I may no longer be in love with the father of my children, I’ll always love the years we shared and that part of my life. It was a really good chapter.

 

 

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Filed under aging, Albany, beauty, Boys, Events, family, love, marriage, musings, Observations, relationships, Summer

Love them while you have them

Traveling with my 20 year-old son made for an interesting trip. Because of the time he spent in Thailand last year, he has some experience with having to navigate his way from destination to destination. He may not have the same intuition as my oldest son when it comes to transportation, but he has grown to be helpful and developed some useful skills.

I’ve jokingly remarked a couple of times (maybe even to you, specifically) that the best part of our recent vacation to Greece was having someone with whom to day drink. With some sobering up reflection, I now recognize that what’s going to remain with me, even longer than the 5lbs of feta and dolmas I brought home, are the moments we spent talking, sharing thoughts, making decisions together (rosé or white?) and spending hours and hours outside together, under cloudless blue skies.

Over the years I’ve witnessed too many friends lose a child, most frequently, a son. I grew up in a town where a number of my peers died being physically reckless in a way different than today’s young people. Usually it was a car + alcohol + speed situation, not exactly the same kinds of substances to which our country is experiencing an epidemic of abuse and addiction to currently.  Narcotics have always been way too scary to mess around with to me, which initially made overdoses so incredibly shocking. Now, though, it is my presumed cause of death when anyone between the ages of 17 and 30 dies suddenly.

A few former colleagues of mine have lost children suddenly and at least one was directly related to substance abuse. That mom told me something that will always stay with me. In my whole life, I might have experienced two other instances in which words have had the same profound impact on my heart and thoughts. What she said was revelatory:

All you can do is enjoy them while you’ve got them.

During times of frustration with my sons, I’ve reached for that truism frequently. It helped me to accept that I couldn’t make my sons do, or not do, really much of anything. Whether it was attending classes at the High, writing a thank you note or washing their hair, it was on them. No amount of time spent arguing or in disagreement could force any of my children to do what I wanted them to do, if it wasn’t what they wanted to do. They are their own people.

After my friend’s loss and the lesson she gave to me, I  remember thinking “if something really horrible happened to my kid, I wouldn’t want his last interaction with me to have been a heated exchange about why he hadn’t handed in a required assignment for school.” I’d much rather it be a quick “love you” at the end of a call or text. I learned I needed to let some things go.

On Naxos Island, my son and I rented bikes for the day and rode about 20 miles to the beach and an abandoned hotel project that had become a destination for graffiti artists.  After we were fitted for bikes and provided with helmets, my son clipped the strap on his together and hung it on his handlebars. I said, “you’re not wearing that?” And he said “No.” I bit my tongue, clipped my helmet on and told him to leave his helmet behind if he wasn’t going to wear it. My helmet remained firmly in place on my head for the duration of the ride.

Over the course of the day, I suggested once or twice that my son might want to hit the sunscreen. He declined. I rubbed on my second or third application of the #30 spf I had purchased in Athens without comment. His decision. His eventual sunburn.

There comes a point in a parent’s life when they have to let go in ways that may be frightening, especially when their child’s approach is completely contrary to what they themselves had spent years teaching their offspring was the right or best or appropriate or safe way to conduct the life they had been given. It’s part of the process of separating from one another, isn’t it?

I returned to Albany last week to hear of the death of the child of a neighbor I had when I was in high school. Again, a son.  My assumption about the cause of the young man’s death was, unfortunately, correct. My heart hurt for those left behind.

Finding one’s way through life isn’t easy, despite the maps with which we are provided.  We hope that our children make good choices, but when they don’t, we can only wish for the consequences to be negligible – a sunburn at worst, certainly not the loss of their young life.

Love and enjoy them when you have them.

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Filed under aging, Boys, drinking, family, friends, Greece, musings, Observations, relationships

Prince Charming

Last weekend my youngest son did something I could never imagine doing – he performed onstage as Prince Charming in his school’s production of Into the Woods.Sitting in the audience and watching him act and sing made me incredibly proud of him. Not just because he was great, which he was, but because he had the confidence to put himself in the spotlight. Middle school years are hard ones and kids are so critical of one another (and themselves), that placing one’s self in a position of vulnerability takes a lot of nerve. It was a great evening, made even better with the presence of my middle son and a couple of other 20-year-olds whom he dragged along to witness his baby brother’s shining moment.

It was a special night to be the mom of these Lilly guys and I hope Q continues to stretch himself and explore newly recognized talents and that G stays as sweetly supportive as he was on Friday.  My heart feels full.

 

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Filed under Boys, Education, Events, Local, love, musings, Observations, Schools, Summer, theater, upstate New York

Winds of change

There’s been so much talk this spring about the rain. Many people seem to feel that we’ve had an excessive number of stormy and wet days. Until recently, I believe, there hadn’t been more than an instance or two of our stringing more than three rainless days together since March. Or something like that. Rain doesn’t bother me too much, especially since I’m finally having some necessary work done to my house to ensure it remains dry when it rains. The wind, though, is a different story.

I was thinking about wind and why it makes me uncomfortable and I think it’s because wind is 3-D. I mean, if 3-D is defined as being discernible with three different and unique senses, that is. Is that what 3-D means? Wind is audible, visible and physical, which is kind of a lot, don’t you think? I don’t know if it’s a childhood spent watching The Wizard of Oz every year or what, but wind frightens me. It’s powerful.

It’s going to sound completely ridiculous, but I’ve been working on becoming more comfortable with the wind. For a long time, actually. I know wind and change are partners in moving life along and I’ve gotten better at swaying when in a gust, instead of going with my usual response of digging in and refusing to let go. I’m a work in progress. Mid-gust, shall we say?

One recent change that I’m trying to relax into is the diminishment of family dinner nights. I think it’s more a function of the season than a complete breakdown of family time, so I’m tolerating it. Time will tell, but for now I’m going to cook when I feel like it and continue to make an attempt to prepare meals that can be reheated or repurposed. Case in point, last night’s baked ham with scalloped potatoes and broccoli, became the foundation for a pasta with cubed ham, peas, arugula and grated cheese. Tomorrow I plan to eat some leftover scalloped potatoes with poached eggs. Is it morning yet?

Has the rain or wind impacted your mood? How old were you when your parent stopped regularly cooking dinner?

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Filed under aging, Boys, breakfast, Cooking, DelSo, Dinner, Eating, family, Food, moms, musings, Observations, Spring, upstate New York

20 for 20

Some of the things I thought about on the day my middle son turned 20…

  • My pregnancy with him was the least stressful of my three – he went full term and I wasn’t yet considered to be “geriatric” as defined by obstetrics.
  • When my water broke in the late afternoon, I was scrubbing the grout from our newly tiled bathroom floor as a chicken roasted for dinner. Griffin’s favorite meal growing up was what he called “big chicken,” aka roasted chicken.
  • Griffin was born the following afternoon. I was not a quick birther.
  • Delivering him was my proudest physical accomplishment.
  • He had no hair when he was born, but there was a reddish glow and I was convinced he would be a redhead.
  • After the horrible circumstances involving my oldest son’s birth and neonatal experience, mothering Griffin gave me confidence in my abilities to take care of a baby.
  • He was not an easy baby. Whereas Liam was placid, Griffin was demanding and would nurse (or cry) for hours. Or so it seemed.
  • I’ll never forget waking up one night with him in the middle of the bed, his usual spot, and seeing his eyes wide open as he just stared at the ceiling. He looked incredibly wise and peaceful.

  • He climbed out of his crib at 9 months and was running by 10 months. He remains the most coordinated of my children.
  • His first word was “Go!,” which he yelled at the car in front of us which did not accelerate fast enough when the light turned green.
  • Griffin was always aware of his appearance and clothing. He refused to wear a winter parka because it made him look fat, which was weird because we never talked about “looking fat” and he has never been overweight. Or, thank goodness, afflicted with an eating disorder.

  • He received a classic toy for his second birthday – one of those plastic lawn mowers that “pops” as you push it along. He was playing outside with it with my mother-in-law shortly after receiving it and somehow she lost track of him. We located him about a block away from the house, completely oblivious to our collective panic.
  • His nickname was “the runner” because he would intentionally take off when he was out in crowds. It was an exhausting phase which caused him to miss a number of special events because no one wanted to take on the responsibility of supervising him.
  • School and making friends has always come easily to him. This has been good and bad.
  • One of my biggest worries for him has been that he never really has had to work hard at anything.
  • I was wildly frustrated with him when he was in high school and not really applying himself.* At the time, I remembered some wisdom I had received from a friend who had tragically lost her young adult son. She said all we can do is enjoy them while we have them. I’ve thought about that often.
  • We’re down to just one teenager in the family.
  • While my oldest and youngest sons enjoy traveling and seeing historic sights, all Griffin wants to do on our vacations is “eat and hang out.” I’m really looking forward to doing exactly that with him in Greece in a couple of months.
  • His awareness of the inequities in our world and his interest in contemporary politics makes me think he’d make a great advocate for the disadvantaged.
  • I’ve never been prouder, or more frightened, than the day he walked away from me and got on the subway to go to Thailand, solo, for three months.
  • It doesn’t seem possible that this guy has been my son for two decades. I am so interested to see what he does in the next twenty years.

*gross understatement

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Filed under aging, birthdays, Boys, Events, Observations