Thirty-two years ago…


Thirty-two years ago today, when I became a mother at 7:32 PM, on Wednesday, August 13, 1986, I had no idea of the difficult road ahead. No parent-to-be knows for sure what to expect in their new role, of course, but there’s a continuum of “typical” and there’s off-the-child-development-charts “unpredictable.”

If you’ve followed my story, you know where my motherhood experience fell.

I thought I was ready to be a mom. I had loving role models in my parents, I was an attentive big sister, and I babysat as a teen. I had a supportive husband, a fulfilling career, a cozy house with a crib, and a changing table stocked with onesies, cloth diapers, and blankies. I took my prenatal vitamins and shunned alcohol and attended LaMaze and breastfeeding classes, and read every page of What to Expect When You’re Expecting.

I was prepared for a typical child. And I expected to be a perfect mom. Matthew and I were neither.

But we’re resilient. Matthew’s recovery from his brain tumor, diagnosed when he was 11, is profound–unpredictable in a good way. Every time I see him, I think he’s smarter than the last time, and the last time, he was reading The Communist Manifesto. 

He’s one remarkable human being. I am so blessed that he is here today so I can wish him:

Happy Birthday, Matt.

Love, Mom

My husband will hate this. But I’m doing it anyway.

 My husband's birthday cake for his surprise beer-tasting party. He would hate if I put his picture here, so I didn't. (But you can find it below.)
My husband’s birthday cake for his surprise beer-tasting party. He would hate if I put his picture here, so I didn’t. (But you can find it below.)

My husband is not the attention-seeking kind of guy. In fact, when I mention him in my blog, he prefers to remain unnamed. 

When we first met in college, about 37 years ago, (when I was around 5, if my math is correct,) I called him Mike, as he was known by his friends.  After dating for about a year, he asked me to call him Michael, as he is known by his family. That’s when I knew we were getting serious.  

So the first thing he’ll hate about this is that you know his name – both of them.

The next thing he’ll hate is that I’m calling him out for his 60th birthday. Not that he cares if people know his age, but he’ll hate if there’s a fuss. (Don’t worry, Dear –  I promise you won’t even notice the commotion from my huge flock of subscribers and followers – all three of them, including my mom.) 

Besides, I already made a fuss. First, we spent a weekend in Cooperstown, NY, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Ommegang Brewery.  (If you ever have a chance, check out the Bed and Brew weekend package at the Inn at Cooperstown – it was a blast!*)  That trip was to throw him off the scent of the two surprises I planned for him: 1) His sister and our son coming in from out of town.  2) A surprise birthday beer-tasting party.  And now, here’s a third whammy – this blog. 

 My husband at the Ommegang Brewery during our Bed and Brew weekend. The wine bottle in the background is mine. I know - it's such an embarrassment.
My husband at the Ommegang Brewery during our Bed and Brew weekend. The wine bottle in the background is mine. I know – it’s such an embarrassment.


My husband’s a great guy.  He would hate if I told you that, so I’ll just share this story: 

It was the early 1990’s. (Let’s see – that would have made me about 15 by then.) I came home from a really bad day at work in tears. He gave me a hug and said: 

“Come over here and sit down and tell me all about it.”   

I swear to you, I am not making this up,  And he didn’t even read Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, even though I conveniently left it laying around the house. In fact, after his statement, I looked at him sideways and asked him what planet he was from. It certainly wasn’t Mars.

In subsequent years, when I had a bad day, he would cut to the chase by handing me a Manhattan he had chilled in the freezer. But you didn’t hear that from me.

So as to not embarrass him, I won’t tell you about his Type 1 diabetes, and what a role model he is for living well with this disease. Nor will I say that he’s been a great role model for our two grown sons. And I won’t mention his integrity, how he believes in doing the right thing and then does it, even when it’s inconvenient.

I wouldn’t want to tell you that stuff because it might make him reconsider being a nice guy. Not that I think that’s possible, but I don’t want to jinx myself. We’ve had a pretty good run.  

(Sorry, Dear, but if you were a jerk, you wouldn’t be subjected to this right now.)

By the time you read this, my husband will no longer be 50-something.  He’ll have crossed the threshold into a new decade of life.  At this very moment, he’s probably squirting out his morning coffee, falling off his kitchen stool as he reads this. He’ll hate it. Almost as much as hates turning 60. 

But I’m not worried about it.  

Because love trumps hate any day. 

(*I don’t get anything from this endorsement, and it really was a blast!)

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One step at a time.

This past Tuesday, November 8th, was a big day … my birthday.  Oh yeah, and that other big thing.  But enough about other things…

A quick back story to this blog is that I recently wrote an election day op-ed piece asking my husband to rebuild our basement stairs for my birthday. (You can read it under the Writing tab at the top of the page.)

You can see in this before picture the current state of “astairs.” You have to duck your head to clear the overhead joist, and if you have a basket of laundry, you have to tuck it up to clear your knees.  I can handle the head-ducking OK, but ducking and tucking at the same time is hard – like the concrete basement floor below.  Every time I head down with my arms full, I worry that this is the time my neck and my knees will protest and send me flailing.

When we moved in 10 years ago, fixing the basement stairs was on our to-do list.  Since then, we’ve rebuilt two other sets of stairs, and fixed-up enough of this old house to give me blog material right through my nursing home days.  Now it’s time to re-visit that original to-do list.  And since my request is currently a matter of public record, Michael is kinda on the hook for it, wouldn’t you say?  (Hint, hint again, Dear.)

But don’t hold your breath.  Building or rebuilding anything, whether it’s steps, a house, a relationship, or a career is a slow process.  One step at a time.

Like this blog I’ve started.  Wouldn’t it be great if I wrote something so profound that it goes viral or becomes a best-seller or gets me a book deal?  Yeah, right.  That will happen for me someday, but in the meantime, I have to settle for building my flock, one follower, one “like,” one “share” at a time.

The elusive lesson which seems to be the bane of my existence – patience – taps me on the left shoulder from behind and pops up innocently on my right side.

On my birthday morning, I wanted to post a “before” picture of the stairs on FaceBook.  When my sister visited recently, she got some nice shots, which she either emailed or texted to me.  All I had to do was click and post.  But the pictures weren’t on my phone, email, or tablet.  I checked again – not there.  Nor two minutes later.  Nor five.  (What did I expect?)  Lost to cyberspace, or more likely my delete-happy finger.

So much for a quick FB post so I could get on with enjoying my day.  Instead I had to change my shirt, fix my hair, and have Michael take a gazillion shots (so he thought) to get another one that I liked.   There went a good hour of my birthday, and a good chunk of my patience.  Sigh.

OK, universe.  I get it already.  From now on, I will embrace patience.  Just like going public with my wish for new steps, I’m stating here for the record that I welcome the slow, steady growth of this blog.  I will be zen with the delays and setbacks.  I’m taking a deep breath.  Ohmmm.

I know patience and I will do this dance many times in the future.  Patience – I’ll try to stay in step.  And if you tap me on one shoulder and pop up on my other side, just watch that overhead joist because it may still be there.