Thoughts on Time

The other day I read Seth Godin’s blog titled: How long is now?

At the time, I didn’t understand or appreciate his point. He wrote: “Do we need a sweep second-hand on our wrist watch or merely a page-a-day calendar to mark the passage of time?”

I pondered his post for a few minutes and moved on to other things, not giving it another thought.

Until this morning, when it hit me. Next week my oldest child is turning 21. It happened in the time it takes to blink. One moment he was a newborn. The next he is an adult.

I remember vividly, the drive to the hospital the morning he was born. I remember vividly, bringing him home from the hospital – the love, the fear, the exhaustion, the awe – I could not take my eyes off of him. I remember vividly, the strained and near-panic call to the pediatrician the first time he ran a fever. I remember vividly, taking him to daycare for the first time, and the first day of kindergarten, and the Christmas pageant, and the first day of pee-wee football, and the first Middle School dance, and the first time he drove to school by himself as a newly licensed driver, and his first date, and his first time starting on the varsity football team, and dropping him off at college for the first time.

And when I think back on all those firsts (and seconds and thirds), it does seem that time passed slowly – or at least at normal speed – because there have been so many firsts (and seconds and thirds) to remember.

I am still not sure how long is now? But as a parent, I can honestly say that time is both far too long and far too short.





I was at the kitchen sink, washing the fruit that I had just picked up at the grocery store when my husband came in and announced with tears in his eyes, that our daughter had been in a car accident.  “How bad?” I asked.  “Is anyone hurt?”  “Is she okay?”

I am grateful to report that she and her teammates are all okay.  My mini-van, sadly, is not.  But I’m grateful that she was driving my car and not hers.  She was driving volleyball carpool and was stopping for gas before the hour-long drive home.  The weather was clear and she was not distracted.  The other driver missed a stop sign.

I am grateful that a rescue squad just happened to be at the same gas station and they were able to check on the girls and direct traffic.   I am grateful that the other driver and her son were not injured.  I am grateful that one of the girls called 911 while our daughter called us.  I am grateful that the police officer that arrived on the scene was calm and kind.

I am grateful that the weather had cleared, the sky was blue and the roads were clear. My husband and I made it to the accident site safely.

I am grateful that my cell phone battery had enough charge for a text to the other parents and calls to my daughter, calls to the other girls, calls to the other parents and directions from Google Maps — my charger was in my car — and my battery was on its last legs.

I am grateful that there was a mini-mart attached to the gas station and the girls were able to get a hot chocolate while they waited for us to arrive.

I am grateful that the damage to the car, though substantial (the air bags deployed), was such that my husband was able to drive the car home without any problems.

I am grateful that the other parents met their daughters at the designated drop off points and gave my daughter a great big hug.

I am grateful that she is home safe.

Where Does All the Worry Go?

For my friends who are dealing with the unthinkable

How is supposed to feel when your child dies?

They say having a child is forever having your heart outside your body.

When you first learn that you are going to have a child–a million thoughts–joy, surprise, hope, fear, worry–on a repeating loop


Worry that the baby will be born healthy

Worry that you will drop them

Worry that you will trip when carrying them

Worry that the umbilical cord isn’t healing

Worry that you aren’t producing enough milk, that they aren’t latching on

Worry that they aren’t pooping enough, or are pooping too much


Are they learning their colors, shapes, numbers?

Are they a biter?

Will they ever be potty-trained?

Why are they obsessed with that color, story, stuffed animal, food?


Worry that they are making friends

Worry that they should be in a higher/lower reading class

Worry that they should be in a higher/lower math class

Worry that they are gifted

Worry that they are not


Are they having fun?

Are they trying?

Is the coach good?  Are the refs fair?

Does my child care?  Why don’t they care?

Will they get hurt?  Are they hurt?  What exactly is a growth plate?


Worry that they are fitting in

Worry that they are being bullied

Worry that maybe they are the bully

Worry that they will do the right thing and stand up when they witness an injustice


Will they apply themselves?

What path will they choose?

Will they make good choices?

Worry that they are good, strong, healthy, decent

Worry that they have faith

Does a parent ever stop worrying?

Does a parent ever feel that their child–no matter how grown, how old, how physically strong, how recognized in their chosen field or profession–is not still their baby?

Does a parent ever feel that their grown child is not still fragile, is not still in need of a hug, is not still a piece of their heart outside their body?

The parental instinct to protect your child is the strongest force in the universe.

And when the worst case, unthinkable happens and there is no protecting anymore, where does all the worry go?


July 4th in a Small Town

detail_of_american_flag_190419While July 4th is technically tomorrow, in our little town, the planning began on Sunday June 28th.  That’s the day the first lawn chairs were spotted.

Our town hosts an annual July 4th celebration complete with 5K run/walk, street festival, fireworks in the high school stadium, car show and…parade. The parade route is a 2 mile stretch from the high school through the center of town and ends near one of the elementary schools.

Over the main intersection in town a large American flag waves hoisted aloft by a large green crane.  Electricians are out setting up temporary electrical service for the many street vendors that will be selling their wood carvings, homemade soaps, beaded jewelry and corn hole sets.  There will be kettle corn, funnel cakes, tenderloin sandwiches, Italian sausage and lemon shake-ups.  Stages with red, white and blue bunting have been set up for days ready for musical acts from around the area.  And, at strategic locations and set back at a distance, are rows of portable toilets.  When I see them waiting empty, I thank my lucky stars that we live within a long but doable walking distance of the parade route.

The highlight of the celebration is the parade.  Weather permitting, there is usually a flyover of military planes or historic replicas of some long ago era.  The fire department starts the parade with as many trucks as possible participating.  The festival marshals and then all the high school scholarship winners come by in the fancy cars…some old, some new…that will be participating in the car show.  And then the bands and cheerleaders and sports teams and dance teams and the staff of the local park district and a van from the senior center and floats — some elaborate and some the back of a pick-up truck with signs hanging from the side — and sprinkled throughout are the politicians — local, mind you for city council type positions (though occasionally we’ll get some higher office candidates marching too).  There is usually at least one troop of horses and riders marching in the parade.  And tradition has the high school Varsity Football players following with a wagon and shovel to scoop up droppings.

And I love it.  Every single minute of it.  Rain or shine, I can’t help but smile.  It is my community marching by and waving from their lawn chairs in the grass along the route.  It is a big family reunion 2 miles long.

For years, we have set up chairs toward the end of the parade route.  Not necessarily the best position because many of the marchers bring candy or paper fans or refrigerator magnets and often, by the time they reach the end, they are out of their booty.  One year, we set up chairs closer to the beginning.  Our haul of candy and trinkets was better but it just wasn’t the same.  Tradition.

Some years our kids have marched with their various clubs and teams…I walked with our youngest when she was playing basketball.  Those kids dribbled their basketballs the entire 2 mile route.

We’ve watched or marched in the parade every year that we’ve been in town. Even in downpours.  If the kids can march, we can watch.  But this year there wasn’t as much family interest in setting up chairs to watch the parade.  I have a house full of teenagers now and local parades and street fairs don’t have the same draw.

Without family to sit with or to watch marching by, I wasn’t going to go either.  But about an hour ago, I could not help myself.  I wrapped my chair in a black trash bag in case of overnight rain and drove up and down the parade route searching for a small empty patch of grass.

Because I remembered the color guard, often made up of members of nearby VFW chapters.  When the flag comes by, we all get up out of our lawn chairs and clap and cheer as they march by.  And we stand again when the Boy Scouts march holding a giant flag stretched out between them.  And we stand again for the flag displayed on the front of the fire truck  And we stand again when one of the mounted horse teams is carrying a flag.  Again and again and again.  We stand every single time.

This year seemingly earlier than ever, neighbors started putting chairs out along the route almost a full week before the parade. They stop their minivans in the road, open the back hatch and drop 1, 2, 3 or more lawn chairs in the grass.  Or they might take string or caution tape and mark off a patch between two small trees.  And the chairs and tape stay there.  All week.  And no one moves them.

Who Knew an Organized Make-Up Drawer Would Provide Such Joy?

This morning, at roughly 6:23 am, I organized my make-up drawer.  And when I had placed the last tube of lipstick in the organizer with the other tubes of lipstick, all facing in the same direction, all with caps and none with smears of lipstick on the outside casing, I smiled into the mirror and quietly clapped my hands together.  Smiling into my clapping reflection in the mirror I could not help thinking that today is going to be a great day!  Why? Because my make-up is all organized!  How on earth could something so trivial leave me so confident, happy and ready to face the world?  Simple.  The make-up drawer and frankly everything else in the master bathroom has been in disarray for the past seven years.   And today the bathroom remodel is complete enough that I can put my make-up back in the drawer.

My husband and I bought this crazy “fixer upper” seven years ago.  My original plan was to remodel the master bathroom almost immediately.  It was an illogical layout with a door for each “room”…toilet, shower, tub.  And the fabricated marble in the sinks was all worn away.  But then we got into the house and the kitchen was so “80s” and dis-functional and ugly that remodeling the kitchen quickly moved into the number one redo project list.   And once the kitchen was done, we had to redo the main floor powder room so that guests would be comfortable.  And then it was Spring and the deck was falling apart so we needed to fix that so that we could spend time outside.  And every time any project finished and we looked at the list, something else planned or unplanned always trumped the master bathroom remodel.  There was the hail and wind that damaged all the windows on two sides of the house.  There was the electrical storm that affected the garage doors and washer/dryer.  There was the toddler niece coming for a visit who needed a working bathtub because she couldn’t yet take a shower so we remodeled the upstairs bathroom.

And so, seven years later, the master bathroom was just was it was when we moved in, if not a little worse for wear.  Over the years, the jacuzzi tub in the master bath stopped working so I used the space for storage.  And with all the remodeling projects, we pilfered doors from the master bath for other projects throughout the house.  And I spilled red nail polish on the cream colored tile floor and it stained the grout.

And finally, seven year later, there was nothing left to remodel but the master bath.  My husband completed all the demolition last year before his surgery.  I bought the floor and wall tile two years ago on sale in the hopes the project would start soon.  I temporarily moved all my stuff — make-up, hair care products, accessories and appliances, cleansers, nail stuff, contacts, buffers and such — down to the hall bathroom to share with my teenage son.

My son was a good “roommate” for the first few weeks.  He did a nice job keeping the hall bath tidy enough for out-of-town guests.  But after a while, I believe it was shortly after the winter dance at school, he slowly stopped cleaning up after himself.  At first, he left the stuff he uses to spike his hair open on the vanity counter.  Then it was a dirty T-shirt left in a ball on the floor.  Eventually the bathroom floor was littered with his size 13 large and stinky shoes and an athletic supporter was left hanging on a hook.

But I’m sure I was no picnic either.  My hot rollers or curling iron seemed forever precariously and dangerously plugged in and heating up on the vanity.  Feminine products invaded the space under the sink.   And the waste basket always had nasty looking make-up removing cotton balls, used tissues or a wad of hair from cleaning my hair brush.  (But at least I mostly got these items in the waste basket!)

My husband has recovered well from his surgery and in recent weeks, he’s been strong enough to resume the master bath remodeling work.  There was a lot of foundational work:  moving water lines, changing wiring and building pockets for a new pocket door into the bedroom before he got to the “fun” stuff…laying tile, painting and installing the vanity.

Installing the vanity is what he worked on this week and last night, the cabinet doors and drawers where installed.  And where was I while he was attaching those drawers? I was at the local bath shop buying drawer organizers, of course!

And so, this morning, even before the alarm went off, I took all my things off the shelves in the hall bath and raced back to the new bathroom, the new vanity and my clean, clear and empty new organizers.  I removed all the tags being careful to leave no residue.  I put all my make-up on the counter and examined each item to make sure it was worthy of placing in the clean, clear and empty organizers.  I wiped down some items and discarded some others.  And then put everything in its own compartment.  And continued filling the drawers with all my supplies.  Make-up in the first drawer, teeth and nail stuff in the second drawer and hair things in the third drawer.  I carefully closed each drawer, picked up a few bits of torn sticker off the floor, looked in the mirror, smiled, let out a long contented sigh and did my little happy clap of joy.

Why Can’t My Kids Change a Roll of Toilet Paper?

Before you get too grossed out, rest assured, they will get a new roll of toilet paper from under the sink when the old one runs out.  But apparently there is a great deal more effort involved to actually complete the process than they are capable of.

When they were younger, I never noticed this competency gap with my children because, well, because I changed the toilet paper roll for them.  Even after they had been reliably potty-trained and were taking care of business on their own, I changed the toilet paper just like I changed the sheets and the towels and anything else that needing changing and tidying.  And then it struck me that changing a roll of toilet paper was a task that given a not too complicated holder, even a young child could master.  In our house, there is only one toilet paper holder that is difficult to use and even I am tempted to leave a fresh role on the back of the toilet out of frustration when the rod keeps popping out of the grooves and goes “sproinging” onto the floor.

So, several years ago, we had a lesson in how to replace an empty roll of toilet paper.  We covered the basics:

  1. Push in on one end of the rod to make it smaller so it pops out of the grooves,
  2. Remove the empty roll and place it in the waste basket,
  3. Take a new, clean roll from under the sink,
  4. Slide it onto the rod,
  5. Get close to the holder and push in one end of the rod so that you can fit it back in the grooves,
  6. Line the rod up with the grooves (while still holding the end in),
  7. Release your grip on the end of the rod so that it returns to regular length and the little prong parts extend into the grooves in the holder

All three of my children tried the step by step process and I’m proud to report that they all mastered it in all the bathrooms except the one with the challenging holder.  We didn’t even try on that one.  And I figured we’d stick with the basics for years.  They were children for heaven’s sake and didn’t need to learn the advanced techniques such as whether or not the paper should roll off over or under the roll.

Early on, they seemed to enjoy these “big kid” responsibilities.  But somewhere along the way, the excitement and novelty wore off.  And now, despite the success of those early lessons, my daughters are unable to replace a roll of toilet paper.  When one roll is empty, they will get a new roll from under the sink and leave it on the back of the toilet, on the floor, propped on the old roll or balanced on the lid of the waste basket.  No amount of teasing, needling, nagging, punishing or yelling has changed this behavior.  I’ve timed it and we are talking another 6 seconds max to actually put the new role in the holder.   I’m sure it is possible that they are doing this as a game to push my buttons.  But I think instead that they are caught forever in sibling score keeping “I changed it last time, it is your turn” or “I wasn’t the one who finished the roll” (Note that indeed there are a few torn shreds still clinging to the cardboard roll — these are the same people who leave a thimble full of milk in the carton so that they don’t have to get another gallon of milk from the garage refrigerator.