Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Trying to find the Norm

One of my children asked me recently why I can't just be a normal mom?
It seems I'm offending him and his family on a regular basis and he's at the end of his rope.
I didn't have an answer for him.
I feel like a normal mom.
I love him and his wife and his children.
And, despite, having more than 30 grandchildren on two sides to keep up with, my husband and I feel like we make a genuine effort to make sure they know we love them.
We mark birthdays, holidays, and try to celebrate triumphs and milestones when we can figure out how to be two places at once.
We have parties. We go places.
We know all of their names and how old they each are.
We keep up with their reading progress and spend a couple weeks each year trying to choose just the right book for their interests and reading ability at the time.
But can I be a normal mom?
I don't think so.
I'm not sure there is one anywhere.
Every mother I've come across has her own set of guidelines and rules for raising her children.
Some are really creative and sew all the kids' clothes.
Some can whip up fancy hairdos on the way to school while driving the car.
Others can handle a professional career singing and dancing and still tuck the kids in at night.
Some start up a business and raise kids on no sleep.
Others are competing for the Olympics in the skeleton race and winning gold.
I look around and there are mothers everywhere trying to get a handle on what's normal, what's expected.
Most feel they're not doing enough.
Others feel they've either been too indulgent or too strict.
Some stay home scrubbing, cooking and cleaning.
Others stress about not being home scrubbing, cooking and cleaning.
The job title alone is a killer.
Moms are supposed to do and be everything including stepping in as a healer, a psychic, a handyman, a miracle worker and a friend no matter what.
Come to think of it, nowhere does it say "be normal."

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Climbing a waterfall

I used to be a skier.
But I was never one like the crazy guys we're currently watching at the Sochi Olympics.
I sometimes came swiftly down the hill without mishap and once or twice I actually enjoyed it, thought I was getting the hang of this death-defying sport.
I'd get the music of Yanni going in my head and come around the corner like I was unafraid.
But not like my husband who's happiest when he is blazing down a steep run or my daughters who can break the hill's speed limit with big grins on their faces.
Where they are turning and catching air, I come along more carefully, relying heavily on the snowplow and the sitdown. I took "never ski out of control" very seriously.
Thus I'll never win a race or go for an aerial on purpose. I'll never be a star.
And, I wonder about the ones who fall and suffer injuries — torn ACL, herniated disc, broken bone, concussion, how do they find the courage to get up and ski madly again?
I once missed an important turn on the hill and ended up trying to ski down something called "The Waterfall" and I was sure I was going to die.
I couldn't go down because it was all ice and certain disaster.
I couldn't go up because it was impossible.
Nobody knew where I'd gone so no one was coming to rescue me.
So I ended up hacking my way back to where I'd gone off the hill, using my ski poles to brace myself and sort of tossing my skis ahead of me for purchase as I went.
It was hard work and slow going.
Another time, I panicked at the top of a hill and tried to take off my skis so I could safely walk down. Instead, I rolled, skidded and squealed for what felt like my last miles.
I realized it was foolhardy to continue.
In fact, after one of my skis snagged a twig on the trail between lift lines and tossed me and my knee painfully to the ground, I gave my skis away.
I didn't ever want to go through the physical therapy and pain required to get to where I could fully bend my knee again.
So I now watch the skiers and snowboarders flying through the sky and down the hill with clattering skis with true respect and wonder.
How do they do what they do?
Where do they find the time in flight to do multiple flips and turns and then ski backwards to the finish point?
I'm truly amazed, impressed and wowed.
And it scares me to death.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A row of sweet singers

The six little girls we took to the show on Monday night know all about letting it go...
There was no holding back when it came time to sing along to the "Frozen" songs.
It was magical and fun and it made both Marc and I cry.
We had 2-year-old Mia, 4-year-old Erica, 5-year-old Hannah, a 7-year-old and two 8-year-olds with us.
They all know all the words.
They've all seen the movie at least a couple of times.
But that didn't mean they weren't thrilled to get our invitation to see it again.
Marc had heard about Disney's Sing-along version with the bouncing snowflake and thought it might be fun to take a couple of girls.
Next thing we knew we had half a dozen ready to go with us.
Since we hadn't seen this movie, we felt it our grandparently duty to get on board.
It was a ride.
We'd already heard all about Anna and Elsa and Olaf and Hans.
We knew the two sisters had been separated for years and one had magic powers that made her dangerous.
But we didn't know about the snow monster or the scary parts.
We discovered there were scary parts when Mia came over to climb up and sit in the seat with her 7-year-old cousin Emma for protection.
We realized it was a little frightening for Erica when she came to sit in my lap.
But, for the most part, it was delightful and fun.
We liked the music.
We thought Olaf the snowman was funny particularly when he sang about how wonderful it would be when he could spend time in the sunshine.
We learned about sacrifice and true love between sisters.
We saw a good movie but mostly we watched the animated faces of the grandchildren around us as they belted out songs with gusto.
That was truly splendid.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Oh Culligan man!

the new one
Marc and I are just about to admit we live in an aging home.
It seemed new when we bought it. But then again,
 that was 25 years ago.
We realized it anew when we started having some plumbing problems.
Our water heater started flooding the floor of the utility room and so we called in a plumber to replace it.
On his way out, he said something about an expansion tank.
Meant nothing to me.
We called in a new guy when we started having kitchen faucet issues.
The new plumber went about looking at our pipes. He found a few problems: copper tubing that was out of code, no expansion tank (apparently you need one of these), no pressure regulator valve on the outside lines.
He was very nice and very young and seemed capable. He said our house is old.
He suggested a new faucet after part of it came off in his hand.That meant giving up my pretty little copper faucet that matched my outlet covers and shelving in the bathroom.
like what we had
He sat down and added up the cost, discounting it a little when he saw my reaction.
I was flabbergasted.
Where I had expected to pay about $200-$300 for work on my kitchen sink, I was now looking at $1500-$2500.
I called Marc.
I called my son who is in construction.
I negotiated and suffered.
Finally, we settled for the tank, the hosing, the valve and a new boxy faucet that works but I don't like.
I paid the guy and four hours later I had working pipes.
The problem is, now we had half the pressure that we had before. The plumber returned and decided the first guy put in a bad PRV valve. Another three hours gone.
We still don't have the water pressure we had before all of this but I'm a little afraid to complain.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Driving with Dad

So we're zooming along on Redwood Road headed to 9000 South to my dad's doctor appointment.
He's adjusting his seat belt when he looks over at me and says, "There should be a sign that says Redwood Road. We need to be on that."
I looked at him. I pointed to the intersection we were approaching.
"I know that, dad. We're going the right way."
"Then you'll want to go over to Bangerter and up to 3000 South after that," he said.
I showed him my little card where I had printed up the instructions off Mapquest.
"Yes, I know, dad. I have the directions right here."
He was quiet for a minute then he started up again.
This is my 90-year-old father who hasn't been driving since the DMV decided he was dangerous behind the wheel.
"Turn left on 3000 South," he instructed.
"Dad," I patiently replied. "The directions tell me to turn left onto 3500 South and that's what I'm going to do."
"I've come this way a lot," he said, somewhat indignant. "You need to get on 3000 South."
I ignored him and turned onto 3500 South which has been refigured so it goes around in a kind of a bend onto 3300 South.
"What are you going to do now?" my father asked.
"I'll turn right onto 5600 West," I said.
"You mean 6600 West," he said.
"No, 5600 West," I repeated.
"I'm positive it's 6600 West," he said again.
"But, dad, the clinic is on 2750 S 5600 West...."
He pulled out a card with his doctor's name and address on it. He showed it to me. It said 2750 W. 5600 West.
He was silent for a time but after our appointment he began again with the back-seat driving. I wanted to stop at IHop but it was on the other side of the street.
"You can't get there," my dad said.
I drove by, turned into the parking lot and doubled back to IHop.
Afterward, we were again heading down Bangerter when I noticed sirens and flashing lights on the right so I pulled over to the side of the road.
Dad heard the sirens and sat up.
"What's going on?" he said, "Are you getting a ticket?"
This is the same man who thanked me for the ride when I got him back to the retirement center and told me I'm a really good driver.
"I feel safe with you," he said.