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Ode to Summer

Family Time, life, Mothering 101, Travel and Adventure, Uncategorized

I’ve been buried eyes deep in packing boxes, fresh from the “big move.” Racing to make the new house “home” so that we can get back to the pace of real life again. You’ll hear more about that adventure soon. Since I haven’t had much time to write, I thought I’d post my first “guest blogger” and share this lovely article, Ode to Summer, with you.

Enjoy!  I think you’ll enjoy it as much as  I did when I read it.

Ode to Summer

Those lazy, crazy days of summer! Photo Credit Suzanne Scheve 2017

I’m sitting on a California beach watching my daughter jump the waves. This year we swapped our annual crazy road trip for a stay on the west coast, and at the end of an idyllic, albeit busy, ten day vacation with my family, I suddenly find myself staring at a new school year lurking just around the corner. While I’m excited to get my class list and finish organizing my room, I’m definitely not ready for summer’s last hurrah.

Summers Past

When I was my daughter’s age, I counted the days to our annual two-week beach trip by number of sleeps until the big day arrived.    We didn’t own a car, so travel was by motor coach to the south coast of England, a 7-8 hour mostly tedious journey, endless motorways finally giving way to the first views of the twinkling blue waves at the bottom of the hill as we pulled into the bus station at our destination.

We always stayed at a B&B for our fortnight of sand, sea, and sun; usually chosen sight-unseen from a holiday book, sandwiched somewhere along a row of Victorian three-storey homes, mostly the same on the outside, but revealing the personal stamp of the owners on the inside.  Creaky floorboards, uneven staircases, and old paisley carpets were de rigeur, however; along with the smells of morning bacon wafting up the stairs as we woke to the alarm call of the gulls wheeling in the impossibly-blue skies; the sound of stainless steel spoons in bowls of cereal, the scrape of knives and forks as you ate up every scrap of that full English breakfast which always tasted better on holiday.

Nell at the beach, Cardiff, CA. Photo Credit, Suzanne Scheve 2017

Sand Castles and Salty-Sea-Lips

Most days were unplanned but usually had the same routine –  heading down the Chine to the beach with a towel (sometimes splurging on a deck chair); digging sand castles with a new bucket and spade; salty-sea-lips, mixed in with the taste of suncream and lunchtime baps filled with tomatoes, cheese, the obligatory packet of crisps,  and some form of lunchmeat.  Most importantly, it was essential to time the return to the B&B perfectly so that we’d be first to stake a claim on the communal bathroom – otherwise we’d be relegated to a quick cold dip in the tub, or worse, a ‘lick and a promise’ with Quickies and cold water in our attic twin room.  The bedroom sink did double duty as an underwear rinsing station too: M&S smalls hung to dry on a makeshift clothesline outside the window – and never a problem until one day a gust of wind blew a very sparkly pair of my purple knickers off the window sill and onto the No Vacancy sign in the parking area, where they remained until Mum rather sheepishly reclaimed them before dinner that night.

On the days when the tide was high and the beach area was reduced to a few feet, we’d take day trips to explore nearby towns and sights: a local safari park and forest, miniature recreations of British and worldwide monuments; we’d play mini-golf or time-waste in thAe penny arcade; or shop for souvenirs at Beale’s or W.H. Smith’s.  In the evenings, we’d walk into town or hop on the open top bus and ride the cliff roads with views of the bay: the Aqua show, Pier Theatre, and the fairy lights in the Public Gardens were always at the top of our post-dinner to-do list.

Sometimes we would go to the pictures – I remember seeing the Sound of Music for the first time and crushing on Colonel Von Trapp; belly-laughing at the corny jokes of Airplane!; and the summer of the disaster movie – Earthquake with the simulated shaking in the theatre; Towering Inferno with a sweaty Paul Newman and George Kennedy; and Jaws of course, after which every innocuous black shape in the sea caused a mild panic on the beach.

Years later, I look back at old photographs and find great joy in those memories of childhood summer holidays.  How lucky I was!  And how lucky I am in my summers now, to be able to spend many days off with my own daughter.   My Junes are filled with swim team and Vacation Bible School – quite possibly the best summer invention ever; my Julys and early Augusts calendared with trips by road or plane to visit family.

This summer, my goal was to get my house in order and focus (my one little word for 2017) on the myriad personal projects I never have time for during the school year.  I’ve organized and reorganized my pantry, kitchen, and the bedrooms; prepped for my new classroom; purged, tossed, and shredded paper piles; donated, sold, and put away the contents of my closet; finally tackled my tangled up jewellery boxes;  read more books for pleasure than for professional development; and most importantly, carved out serious quality time making new summer memories with my girl.

My grand daughter, Nell and “grand dog” Toro, a.k.a “Mush” Photo Credit, Suzanne Scheve 2017

Last week, on our connecting flight here, I found myself sitting next to a mother who had recently lost her Navy son to a tragic accident.  She was on her way to give comfort to her daughter-in-law, who was drowning in despair, struggling to come up for air with a seven-month old son.  We talked about loss; about hanging on to faith by your fingernails when everything seems overwhelming; how there is no timeline on grief; how anxiety and depression can overwhelm your soul in those early days of loss; and how the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel can seem as unattainable as the summit of Everest when the pain of loss is but a few days old.

Time Waits for No Man……. or Woman

In 9 days, I will be exactly the same age as my husband was when he left this earth – 52 years and 98 days old.  28 days after that will be the 6th anniversary of his passing.  My daughter is a rising 5th grader who will turn 11 in October.   She tells me she remembers his voice.  I hear his laugh in hers, and see his kindness in her thoughtful ways.  She is his legacy of love.

Stopping the clock to freeze our favourite moments in time; pushing the snooze button on summer; tweaking the past with a time-turner – these are not available options for us.  In times of loss, it’s easy to clutch at the past, as a drowning man grabs for a lifebelt.  Time passes, and the rawness of immediate grief gives way to what is often called a new normal (I hate that term by the way); we resolve to go forward; to try to live our best lives, appreciate what we have, while we have it.  To be present in the moment and enjoy those simpler pleasures.  Dust bunnies and laundry can wait til tomorrow. Our lives shouldn’t be measured by piles of stuff, but too often, those piles become our defining memories.

Simple Pleasure of Summer

So summer of 2017, here’s to you and your simple pleasures…..

….to lazy days of walking on the beach and jumping the waves….

…..to that can’t-put-down novel and languishing in luscious language……

…..to sunburned shoulders and freckled faces…..

…..,to diving in the deep end of a pool and blowing bubbles through noses….

…..to cold pizza and icecream for breakfast, juicy watermelon dripping down chins, and everything good to eat…..

…to sleeping in on weekday mornings, and napping on the wraparound porch as the hummingbirds dive bomb the hanging baskets like kamikaze pilots…..

Cheers to you, summer…..

Cardiff-by-the-Sea CA. Beach. Photo Credit, Suzanne Scheve 2017

A bit about the author:

Suzanne Scheve is a single mom and a third grade teacher living in Houston, Texas, with her daughter, dog, and cat.  She enjoys traveling, cooking, eating anything on a plate, and hanging with her extended family in California, St. Louis, and on the East Coast.

Suzanne is also my step-daughter, from a previous marriage (it’s complicated, and FAR too difficult to explain here! She is also the fabulous mother of my only Granddaughter, Nell. Suzanne is a talented writer and photographer, in addition to her other previously named skills. I will vouch for her love for travel, cooking and eating! I have witnessed her abilities in all 3 activities!

Just days after they were with us for our summer visit, and their return home to Houston, Hurricane Harvey hit. Luckily, their home wasn’t damaged, and they were not impacted as severely as many there were.  We are blessed to have these two females as a vibrant and important part of our family.

You can find more of Suzanne’s writings at https://suiteanglaise.wordpress.com

By the way, If you haven’t yet subscribed to my blog, do it now! As soon as the boxes and clutter are cleared away, and I can get back to “real life” I’m going to be running some fabulous “subscriber only” contests!  You don’t want to miss your chance at fabulous free stuff—- do you?SUBSCRIBE ALREADY!

 

You Did the Best You Knew How!

Mothering 101, My Humble Opinion, Royal Ramblings!, Serious Shit, Uncategorized
Kids & Patti 1991

My kids and me, 1991 Gotta love my clothing and hair selection!  Every Day is Mother’s Day!

Mom, You Aren’t Perfect

It’s the eve of Mother’s Day.  A holiday that touches every one of us in some way, no matter our religion, our age or our status.  If we aren’t a mother ourselves, every one of us had a mother.  Our mother may or may not be alive. Some mothers did a better job of it than others. We may have a close relationship with our mother, or we may not have a relationship at all with them, but when Mother’s Day rolls around, we are all aware of it, no matter what the situation is.

A few days ago, I saw a facebook post about Mother’s Day which struck me, as it spoke to my “mother’s heart”, and I decided to share it. I have been amazed at how many of my friends shared it, and how many of THEIR friends have continued to share it.  I was also stunned at how many people took the time to comment on the post, and actually thank me for posting.  One “friend of a friend” actually posted that he was amazed at how many people cut and pasted this sentiment, and asked if our society can’t think for themselves, and come up with their own unique sentiments, posts and feelings.  Her response to him was that sometimes, someone else can articulate better than we can, and that this piece speaks our feelings as a mother rather profoundly.

The Best Gift

I’ll share the original post, before I go on with my own thought on Motherhood and Mother’s Day:

“Every year my children ask me the same question. After thinking about it, I decided I’d give them my real answer:

What do I want for Mother’s Day? I want you. I want you to keep coming around, I want you to ask me questions, ask my advice, tell me your problems, ask for my opinion, ask for my help. I want you to come over and rant about your problems, rant about life, whatever. Tell me about your job and your worries.

I want you to continue sharing your life with me. Come over and laugh with me, or laugh at me, I don’t care. Hearing you laugh is music to me.

I spent the better part of my life raising you the best way I knew how. Now, give me time to sit back and admire my work.

Raid my refrigerator, help yourself, I really don’t mind. In fact, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I want you to spend your money making a better life for yourself, I have the things I need. I want to see you happy and healthy. When you ask me what I want for Mother’s Day, I say “nothing” because you’ve already been giving me my gift all year. I want you.
If you feel the same way, feel free to copy and paste… I did!  ❤️❤️”

If you are a mom, I’m sure you can fully understand the sentiment that was in this post.  We don’t want “things” from our kids. We want THEM, their time, their presence, their love.

Jane Clark, Patti Phillips mom.

My mom, Jane Clark. What a great woman! Gone far too young.  She left us when I was only 22 years old.

A few years ago, when my firstborn was small, I met a woman in a Mommy and Me group who had a beautiful necklace.  On a simple disc was inscribed, “Always remember, you did the best you knew how at the time.”  When I asked her about it, she told me that when her first daughter was born, her mother presented the necklace to her at the hospital.

“This is the best parenting advice I can give you,” her mother said.  “It’s inevitable that throughout your parenting years you’ll look back and wonder if you did the right thing, if you should have done things differently.  This is what you need to always remember.  Don’t be too tough on yourself.  You did the best you knew how at the time.”

I’ve never forgotten that necklace. Never forgotten that sage piece of advice her mother gave her.  By the time I had my son, my firstborn, my mother had been gone  over 6 years.  She wasn’t around to give me her advice, so I adopted that wise woman’s advice to her daughter as my own belief.

50['s party 1994

My son and me at Our 50’s Party 1994.  One of my favorite things other than motherhood, is dressing in costume!

What mom did it perfectly?  Who hasn’t thought of things they could have done better, done differently or not done at all?  They say that with age comes wisdom, and when we look back, we sometimes shake our heads in wonder that we all made it quite as far as we did in life, without the whole damn thing unraveling and coming to a stop.

50's paty

Alyse & me at our 50’s party 1994.  I had fun making our skirts for this party!

But for the most part, unless we are some sort of abusive, drug addicted, psychopathic nut-case, we probably did a pretty darned good job of it. There is not doubt in my mind, we did the best we knew how at the time.

The thing we don’t have control of, so often, is our children. Years ago, I would speak to groups of young moms, and my advice to them was to not take too much credit for how their children turn out, whether they turn out stellar pillars of society, or at the bottom of the societal heap.  Unfortunately, this is the truth in the matter.  I’m sure that if you dissected any number of families, whether you looked at the immediate family of a Nobel Peace Prize winner, a president, a top athlete…….or you looked at the family of Jack the Ripper, a mass murderer or Hitler…….. if any of those people had siblings, some of them turned out average, some of them turned out well, and one sibling was outstanding and became famous.  Whether that “achievement” they were known for is for the good or the bad, those parents raised their children all with the same basic set of rules, the same parenting skills and the same environment.  Therefore, we can’t take too much credit- good or bad, for how they turned out.

I have two of my own “natural” children, and have raised many stepchildren throughout my lifetime (and some of that is another story for another day……).  The relationships I have with my daughter and my son are two very different ones.  I’m not nearly as close to my son as I’d like to be.  Why?  I wish I could say. My daughter and I are very close.  Is it that they were raised differently?  No.  Would I like it to be different?  Yes.  Just as the facebook post says, I’d love to have my kids in my life on a daily basis.

The Choice Becomes Your Children’s

The discussion my man and I repeat over and over about our relationships with our grown children is that we have to do the best we can.  We reach out.  We extend the invitation to join us in our lives, at events, in our home. We extend those invitations with love, sincerity and a desire to spend time with the people we helped create. What those adult children choose to do from THEIR end is their choice.

What I DO know, is that, as the sage piece of advice stated, I did the best I knew how at the time.  My best may have not been the best ever done in the world.  But, it also is far from the worst.  I happen to think I did a pretty damn good job of it a good amount of the time.  That’s all we’ve got to give. Our best.

Meanwhile, I get to spend Mother’s Day with my family this year.  The plan is for all of my “ducklings” to be together for the day, my own two, and my step-daughter who I had the privilege of raising for many of her years.  And that, for me, is the best Mother’s Day present a mom could ask for.

And by the way, if you want to share the Facebook post that inspired this on your page, feel free.  If you want to share this whole darned article on your FB page, I’d be honored.

If you are a mom, Happy Mother’s Day to you.  Thanks for doing the best you knew how.