Tag Archives: parenting

Grow strong

I saw something on the Facebook the other day on a page I follow. It’s a gardening/flower appreciation sort of page and there was a post about how important it is to prune plants because otherwise the parts which are struggling to stay alive will prevent the healthier parts from flourishing. It’s something that I, of course, have heard before, but for whatever reason it’s been kicking around my head ever since. Why is it such a struggle to eliminate that which no longer holds future promise? Particularly when it comes at the peril of something that demonstrates positive growth?

My relationship with plants is complicated and long. There was a time when I felt incapable of providing enough attention and support to my boys and my plants. In those days I had one plant, a vine-y sort of thing that had become mine when I was about 20 and had been my responsibility for about a dozen years at that point. It was, and continues to be, low maintenance. This plant was joined by a rubber tree, adopted when a friend moved out of town, when my oldest was in kindergarten almost two decades ago. It is a massive plant now and when I relocate it to its summer home on the back deck, I have to tip it at an angle to maneuver it out the sliding glass door. During the months it resides outside, it grows in a remarkably prolific way gaining a new shiny leaf almost every single day. It’s beautiful.

Those two plants were it for me for a long time. Gradually, though, in the last 7 or 8 years I’ve collected quite a few additional ones including a Boston fern that went full circle dead to almost lush to dead, a passion flower that has yet to bloom for me, citronella and lavender plants which I never expected to overwinter and now have done so for two years, a mature jade and an aloe, and an asparagus fern that is finally doing well. My dining room, with its soft yellow walls and dozen plants, brings me joy even on the gloomiest of days. It just feels warm and alive.

Plants aren’t necessarily as challenging to care for as children, but they do require some attention. It feels like I water, rotate and move them around pretty frequently, as I attempt to encourage them to grow. I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with trimming them and cutting “off the dead and dying stuff,” as suggested on that Facebook page I referenced above, because I know intellectually that the plant will “put all its energy into keeping that dying leaf alive,” neglecting healthier parts in the process. And, who the hell wants that?

In all honesty, though, I do falter when it comes to completely giving up. That Boston fern I lovingly nurtured for years, responded to my absence at the holidays last year by dying, despite how much I wanted it to live. I don’t have the heart to throw it away, so it’s currently in a purgatory state in my kitchen. It’s either going to come back to life or be replaced in its pot by the baby Boston fern I was given a few weeks ago. Whatever it does, it’s beyond my control. I’m going to just direct my attentions to the plants which are more committed to being alive and do my best to help them grow strong.

What’s your relationship with houseplants? How are they growing?

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Filed under aging, beauty, Boys, favorites, friends, Gardens, house, musings

A due date becomes a do date – 22 years later, that is

My first pregnancy was pretty dreamy – I conceived the exact month I wanted to, which meant my maternity leave would be perfectly integrated with my academic calendar. The Lilly baby was due April 5th, which would give me about 6 weeks home, followed by 6 weeks back at work, and then summer off. It all seemed pretty ideal.

Of course, Liam was born 5 1/2 weeks early, arriving at the end of February, rather than early April. Obvious proof, of course, to support the theory that parenting is state of being that can not always be controlled. That perspective, along with the knowledge that once your child almost dies, subsequent things that occur to them make one both less concerned, and more inclined to worry, are how I’ve rationalized a lot of things in the last 22+ years. So far, so far mostly good.

So good! Pizza Suprema.

When it came time to celebrate my oldest’s most recent birthday, we headed to NYC, a full six weeks after his actual birthday, but the day before his original due date. He was interested in seeing a performance at the Metropolitan Opera House and it was challenging to synchronize our calendars and that of the Met to get to the opera that he wanted to see. We were able to find a mutually good date on Thursday and grabbed Amtrak to the city, leaving ourselves barely enough time to eat a couple of slices, get checked in to our hotel and catch the subway to Lincoln Center.

We were cozy in our upgraded seats (When we picked up our tickets at Will Call the man helping us said he had “something better for us.” Turns out that was 11th row center in the orchestra. Bonus!) when the chandeliers lifted to the ceiling and the lights went down. The music was fantastic and the conductor led the orchestra with as much well placed energy as I’ve ever seen. Take this all with a grain of salt – I know nothing about music or conducting.

Don Giovanni is a wonderful opera and the costumes, sets and singing created an experience which was satisfying. I mean, come on, the cad gets his comeuppance! Everyone loves when that happens. While the demise of Don Giovanni was dramatic and well depicted with fire, there were also some more lighthearted scenes with clever dialogue and wit. Admittedly, I dozed a bit here and there, but I don’t believe I missed much. I had feasted on the production and felt sated. It was way better than a C-section.

#renttherunway #openingceremony

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Filed under aging, beauty, birthdays, Boys, concerts, Events, moms, Music, NYC, pizza, road trips, Spring, theater

I’m your Mom, not your pimp

I’m really concerned about today’s young people* and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about what a shitty world in which the next generation is  growing up. Does saying that make me sound really old? If it does, so be it. Unlike much of today’s youth, I can live with a little criticism and negativity.

It may not be fair to make comparisons to my own young adulthood since my situation was a bit different, but when I consider the responsibilities which were foisted upon me at a young age, I have a hard time accepting how lame dependent my sons continue to be on their Dad and me. Don’t misunderstand me – I’m appreciative of the fact that we can provide them with financial and other types of support, but their collective inability to navigate through life without relying heavily upon us, strikes me as kind of bizarre. I’m only half kidding when I say that I’ve wondered at times if they would starve if we were gone and they were faced with a manual can opener and a pantry filled with canned goods. I honestly don’t know if they would even know where to begin.

It’s a similar situation when it comes to finding a job, something both of my younger sons have been needing to accomplish (shout out to the fully employed LL!). Apparently, one of my sons had no idea as to how to actually obtain employment. When I asked him how his friends with jobs may have found their way to employment, he said they “knew people.” I suggested he might want to either search online help wanted ads or visit some retail/restaurant spots and ask for applications. Radical, right? How could he not know this?

What prompted me recently to actually utter the phrase that titles this post, relates directly to finding a job. As he was walking out the door to walk to school, my 14 year-old  asked me to “get him some babysitting gigs.” Keep in mind, he’s the youngest grandchild on both sides of the family and knows nothing about actually taking care of children. When I asked him about his skills when it comes to diaper changing, he informed me that he’d like to start with older kids, like 3 or 4 year-olds and then work his way down to babies because babies are harder. He may not be experienced, but he isn’t dumb.

Maybe you need a babysitter? Or a son?

 

*am I alone in this?

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Filed under aging, Albany, Boys, DelSo, Education, family, ideas, Local, moms, musings, Observations, relationships, Summer, upstate New York

The rich are different – Meghan Markle’s baby shower and the college admissions scandal.

Do you think the wealthy live like you? There have been a couple of news items recently that, to me, have very much demonstrated a fundamental difference between those who are financially rich and those who are not. First example? Meghan Markle’s recent baby shower in NYC, an occasion which seemed to truly piss people off due to the extreme cost of the event. To all the people who expressed disgust at the indulgence of a baby shower which cost more than most people make in multiple years of full time work, I ask this – are you sincerely shocked that Meghan Markle had a baby shower hosted at The Mark Hotel’s penthouse aka the most expensive hotel room in the country?  What were you expecting? Crepe streamers and ice cream cake at the Elks Club?

While the act of becoming pregnant and birthing a child may be one that is practically universal (sorry, dudes, you do not have the power), how that whole process works on a socio-economic basis is quite varied. If you’re poor, black or uneducated your odds of having a well tended and healthy pregnancy are dramatically lower than what the Duchess of Sussex will experience. Focusing attention on the expense of her shower, which was paid for by her wealthy friends, deflects attention from the real issue – there’s an incredible disparity in health care and opportunities between the wealthy and most of the world’s population.  That being said,  I don’t begrudge her the joy that comes from bringing a new life into the world and I don’t believe you should either. Save your energy and outrage for the women who don’t get prenatal care or postpartum support.

Now, about this college admissions scandal…how is anyone surprised by this situation?  Rich people have been buying access to various institutions forever. If you’re wealthy, you can afford to invest in tutors, test prep, and other unearned opportunities for yourself and your children. No real shock there, right? Of course it isn’t enough that the offspring of the affluent don’t ever have to consider, much less worry about,  the expense of the college application process or getting a summer job to pay for books.  Nor will the onerous financial burden of student loan debt* be something that will ever be a part of their lives. Yet, apparently, those benefits of being wealthy aren’t quite enough, so a number of celebrities kicked it up a notch by ensuring their children’s admissions to elite schools by making large donations to educational institutions, buying their children better test scores and bribing coaches and athletics officials. Because, you know, all the advantages that come with white privilege aren’t enough when one can seal the deal with a generous check.

Maybe we shouldn’t be so focused on an extravagant celebration of an upcoming birth. Perhaps it’s time instead to direct our attention toward what children are being taught by their parents after they’re born.

 

*Which, by the way, is currently estimated to be $1.5 TRILLION.

 

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Filed under Education, News, Rant, Schools, Uncategorized

Becoming Purnomo

Circa 1988

When I first moved to Albany in 1988, I got a job working split doubles at PD. Ladd’s, currently Dove and Deer. My apartment was just around the corner on Washington Avenue and, since I was carless, I needed to work within walking distance. The Ladopolous brother were very kind to me and, while I really enjoyed working there, I wanted to work someplace that was more renowned for their food than their proximity to the Capitol for the political types who regularly filled the bar.

At my 50th birthday party.

I read a story about Yono Purnomo, and his recognition as  Chef of the Year, and set my sights on working at Yono’s in Robinson Square never imagining the impact that decision would have on my life. Thirty years later, my relationship with the Purnomo family continues to affect my life frequently. For instance, yesterday I enjoyed lunch with a friend who I originally met at Yono’s where she was a guest and I a server. Today, I will bring my tax documents to a preparer whose office is next door to the original Yono’s location. Back in the day I would deliver happy hour cocktails to his office, cutting across our rear shared parking lot. My dermatologist, veterinarian practice and optician all were selected upon Donna’s recommendation and I’m still loyal to each of them decades later.

Dinner with the ladies!

Because of this family, on some level, I have a family. My boys’ dad and I met working at Yono’s and we held our pre-wedding fete at the restaurant. When my boys were born, there was bakmi delivered to satisfy the intense hunger caused by birthing babies. Through the Purnomos I’ve met countless hospitality professionals and have enjoyed some terrific industry perks and courtesies. I realized recently that the very first time I ever shared a piece of my writing (some thoughts I had when we lost our resident curmudgeon, John Radley) publicly, was at Yono’s. The response and support I received was encouraging and more than likely influenced me to write and share more.

Is there a word for sister-daughter-niece? Maybe in Italian?

My life has been enriched by this hard-working and gracious family, and the experiences we’ve shared, and I am so glad they allowed me to become part of their extended clan 30 years ago. Happy anniversary, Donna, Yono, Nick & Sis.

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Filed under aging, Albany, family, Food, friends, Local, love, moms, Observations, relationships, Uncategorized, upstate New York, Wine

Fierce and 14

Last night, I woke up to the sound of the wind howling. It was fierce and powerful reminding me of where I had been exactly 14 years previously – in labor, climbing the stairs at St. Peter’s Hospital. My progress that night was slow, despite it being my third time at that particular rodeo, and I walked up and down those stairs countless times in an attempt to cajole my third baby boy to come out and join the family.

The stubbornness he demonstrated during (his time in utero and) delivery was a precursor of the level of stubbornness he has exhibited ever since. Q was characterized by his grandmother, who sadly died shortly before his third birthday, as “formidable.” She knew of what she spoke, having raised 5 sons of her own, and I so wish she had lived longer to provide further observations and maybe even advice. This kid is a force.

I’ve often described Q as relentless. He just digs his heels in and refuses to yield and it never fails to exhaust me. In the midst of a disagreement, negotiating isn’t an option with this one. I’m learning to quietly tell him the conversation is closed for now, with the promise of revisiting it at a designated later time. It’s the only way out. But, speaking about the way out, this is the same kid who never hangs up or allows us to part without a kiss and an “I love you.” He’s wonderfully demonstrative and affectionate, sometimes to a fault when it comes to his girlfriend.

We learn so much about ourselves as parents from our children. This one has taught me to pick my battles thoughtfully, to be willing to table disagreements and to do your best to always let loved ones know that you care. Happy 14, QP.

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Japanese Breakfast

Lest you conclude that I’m super hip and actually know much about the band Japanese Breakfast, let me assure you that my only familiarity with this group is through my 19 year-old son who is way cooler than l. I’ve heard a piece of one of their songs titled “Road Head,” a phrase I did not immediately interpret accurately. If you’re in the same boat of innocence, I suggest urbandictionary.com

My son went to see them the other night in Brooklyn (natch) and traveled down to the city with two friends, spending the night in an airbandb I booked for them in LIC because, three nearly 20 year-olds couldn’t get it together enough to reserve a spot, especially when they experienced technological errors. No big deal.

I’ve made reservations for G before. He spent the last week of his three months in Thailand in a lovely apartment in Bangkok. On that occasion, just like the more recent booking, I made it a point to communicate to the property owner that I was reserving for my son and assuring them in advance that he would treat their place with respect. And he has. The Thai woman I emailed with was very impressed with how well he took care of her place, and rewarded him with the favor of storing his luggage during the day prior to his nighttime flight. Things must have gone well in NYC because they were offered a generous late checkout, giving them the opportunity to recover from their night out.

My son isn’t in college, or even working at the moment,* but I’m not overly concerned. He is interested in seeing the world and experiencing life and I feel really fortunate to be able to give him the kind of safety net I personally didn’t have when I was his age, living independently and working 3 jobs. While we had different experiences of being 19, I can’t help but admire that he went to the other side of the world, alone, for three months and came back to tell the story.

It’s taken a couple of months for him to settle back in at home, but recently I’ve begun to see some real signs of maturity. He’s definitely growing up. I’m proud of him, and his confidence in traveling, and I can’t wait to see where he goes next. Greece (with me) and Japan (with friends) are the oft mentioned destinations topping his current list. My son’s ability to navigate his way through life is a display of Road Head that I don’t mind seeing at all.

*there’s a Session job he should be starting soon.

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