Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I will always be the mother!

A common phrase in our household, that covers layers of meaning:

As the boys pass me by in height, there's inevitably a moment when one of them looks down at me, pats the top of my head, has a Cheshire grin on his face... I say, "just remember, I will always be the mother."

When they get their driver's license and they grab the keys to the car..."just remember, I will always be the mother." This time I have the Cheshire grin!

When they graduate from high school and they are feeling a real surge of independence, and they're pushing the envelope on that independence all summer long, especially in the curfew department..."just remember, I will always be the mother."

When they head off to college and they're experiencing that huge transition from big fish to little fish in a big sea, the emphasis on various syllables may be a bit different, but...."I will always be your mother."

When they turn 21 and decide to jump out of a plane and sky dive for the first time, because they could... and you hear about it after the fact, because they know you'd worry, or try to talk them out of it, or say "can I join you?" You flip or semi-flip, and somewhere in this flipping out you say, "because I'm your mother, I will always be your mother. Mother's say stuff like this regardless of your age."

When they're home for a visit after they've "moved out" and live on their own, working in the big city, and you get up in the middle of the night...take a moment and pad down the hall, looking in their bedrooms, just checking to be sure they're there....guilty....they just may say to you the next morning, "Mom, I'm 25, you don't have to check on me!" and I say, "I will always be the mother."

They call you from the ER, God forbid, and they say "Mom, I'm OK, just wanted to let you know I'm here, not feeling so good." And you instantly go into Mom-mode, asking a million questions, wishing like heck that you could be there to hold their hand (but they're hours away by car or plane) and so thankful that they called, that they are ABLE to call, "I'm calling because I know you're my mother and I know you'd want to know and I know that you'd be pissed as heck if you found out after the fact...." And they're right, about all of the above.

I guess that's what we really want, is just to be communicated with and to have the chance to discuss stuff with them. It's not our life, it's theirs, I get that... and as they get older and go through life's experiences, they make more and more choices and decisions on their own (just what you want and hope for) but there's no denying, it sure is nice to have stuff run by you!

After all, I wasn't born yesterday...another one of those phrases...been through some life experiences myself, know a few things (though sometimes they don't think so)...

Thank God that I'll always be their mother!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Connections and Use your manners!

Today, kids (Gen Y) are much more apt to think about "who they know" or more specifically, "who their parents know" or "who their friends' parents know" or "who their parents' friends know" when it comes to job hunting. Unlike our generation, when a lot of us resisted those parental "connections"...(why were we like that? What were we thinking? It probably was the residual of "anti-establishment" stuff, I don't know. But I do remember that if my parents suggested I call some one of their friends or tried to encourage me to go "across the street" and talk to a neighbor, because they worked for a company that had a good "management training program", I basically said, "thanks, but no thanks. I can do this on my own.") In retrospect, foolish.

Here's the catch, however, with our kids...it's how they handle this connection, this contact, that's critical. What am I talking about? Here's an example: The daughter of a friend of yours, Sally, calls you on the phone and asks if you'd connect her with a friend of yours that her Mom told her you know in a particular line of business. Your first reaction may be to say, "sure." So you pick up the phone and call friend, Jenny, and ask if she'd mind sitting down with your friend's daughter who's just graduated from college and talk to her. You tell Jenny that Sally is interested in her line of work and would love to get more information about her vocation. Jenny says "have Sally call me and I'll meet with her." You pass along all of the contact information to Sally, thinking that Sally will do all of the "right things" and be polite, follow through on suggestions and say "thank you." Not so fast. Not always the case.

Whatever happened to good old fashioned manners? You know, Emily Post kind of manners: Please and thank you. If you say you're going to do something, you actually do it.

In the handful of times that I've personally experienced making those connections, the varying degrees of how Gen Y handles this is like night and day. Some kids are terrific, saying and doing all of the "right things" to all parties: to the connector (me), to the person who's sat down with them, to the various job connections that meeting led to, etc. But others, are the pits. No pleases or thank yous, no follow throughs to anyone, just going through the motions, kind of. This is not good.

To: the kids asking for the connection: It's amazing how a good old fashioned thank you note, either in snail mail version or even email version (I'll take it anyway I can, at this point) goes a long way. Showing up on time. Having done your homework about the company, even a little homework, following through on suggestions...keeping in mind that in a distant way, you are a reflection of the person that has connected you. And oh by the way, that person may be a contact you 'd like again in the future, so don't screw this up.
As the connector: learn from my mistakes. Be clear up front with this Gen Y kid. Tell them that you'd be happy to connect them (assuming that you believe in them) as long as they follow through, "say please and thank you," and remember that this is indeed a favor and should be treated as such.

There's a fun book out by Emily Posts' great great granddaughter, "How Do You Work This Life Thing" which tackles some of this "basic" stuff. I thought this was basic, but I'm learning ... not to everyone!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sleeping arrangements...

When I mentioned that I was going to blog about this, one of the members of my peanut gallery said, "OMG, you're kidding me?" Nope, I'm not. Here goes.
So they come home for a visit: for a weekend, for the summer or on vacation AND they bring their "significant other" with them. Where does everyone sleep? Now I "wasn't born yesterday" and I know what goes on "out there," out from under mom's watchful eye, but really? Do we all have to be privy to this when they're under our roof? The answer is "no."

Mom did you hear that? I'm sure my mom is looking down on me just smiling, because I know there was a time she had angst about this herself and now that I'm there, I can only but think about that and her. Here's the difference, she spent all kinds of time and energy moving beds around and setting up a "guest room" for our significant others and this guest room was about as far away from her child as physically possible, and though I don't really think this was the case, I think each of us kids "felt" like she was awake all night, baking, doing laundry or something, so no shenanigans would go on. I remember after I got back from my honeymoon, honeymoon is the operative word, I felt really awkward that Bob was not in the guest room and I wasn't in my old bedroom by myself. Weird, I know.

A girlfriend of mine shared that if she had to do it over, her eldest is now in their mid thirties, she would have opted for the 'separate bedrooms until marriage' (in her home) arrangement because there have been several young ladies that have bunked in with her son over the years and it's been challenging "role modeling" for the younger siblings, not to mention uncomfortable for the parents, when they think about it, so they just don't think about it.

I've brought this up in various groups recently and it's been an interesting conversation. Everyone has different feelings on this. But everyone agrees, this is one of those awkward times in our kids' lives and our lives. You'd really rather not have to deal with it, or talk about it, but when that moment arrives and he/she walks through that front door and your child gives them a warm greeting and then, suitcase in hand, your child looks at you and says, "where do you want us?" or "where do you want him/her?" You're on! That's your cue!

I also have noted, that once the precedent was set (and actually it wasn't even really set, it was just clearly more comfortable for our child not to "go there" and each were in separate bedrooms) the other siblings followed suit. Now they may say that it had nothing to do with precedent, that that's how they were the most comfortable, but I have breathed a huge sigh of relief over this. At least for the moment.

That takes care of under MY roof. Vacations are also challenging, especially if you're paying for the accommodations OR if you're at the grandparents'! My current thinking on this is same sex bunk-in together! After all, these significant others need to get to know the family, don't you agree?

Speaking of family... role reversals do tend to appear when you least expect them....sleeping arrangements for your parents when they're back in the dating world and they both come to visit....
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