Life Topics

Second Chance

How early is too early to arrive at the airport; two hours, three hours?  If you are taking an early morning flight and like to get there when they are washing or fueling the plane – you are there too early.  If arriving before dawn, which I did tonight, chances are the place will be a ghost town with few gates open.  Getting through security is a breeze but getting a cup of coffee is damn near impossible.  Trudging through the dim gray lifeless terminal, I stop several times to put my large pink tote bag and luggage straps back onto my shoulder; a groggy balancing act.  I knew I should have brought my suitcase with wheels. A few people are ahead of me making their way to a glowing area, the place where the journey starts or maybe ends.

I wait at the gate, people watching and typing on my computer.  Across from me sits a pair of new parents with a blue stroller in front of the dad, and a lot of gear littering their space.  The mom sitting a few seats away from the dad eating a yogurt, probably exhausted.  It’s 3:30 in the morning.  A large red bag that resembles a hockey duffle sits between them on the uncomfortable plastic airport seats, no doubt filled with baby stuff.  Mom was tall and thin with shoulder length brown hair, which looked like she wore it up a lot, maybe just took it out of a ponytail.  Wearing black sweatpants and a zipped-up fleece jacket, she sat staring into space.  The dad is obviously on duty, looking into the stroller intermittently.  He is shorter than the mom, a little hefty with sandy blonde hair, with day old stubble wearing a layered winter coat.  It was a cold March night in Boston.

I could see little arms and legs flailing inside the buggy but couldn’t see a formed human.  There were fussing noises coming from inside, as he reached in to relieve distress.  He pulled out an alert and adorable 8-month-old baby girl.  She wore a blue dress, cream tights, and a ribbon in her peach fuzz hair.  The dad held her on one knee which made her shriek with delight.  I can’t help but drift back in time to when my sweet angels were an armful.  I’ve been there, juggling a bag of toys, diapers and Cheerios, my travel buddies for years.  Then slowly over time, one by one, you would lose the rattles, then the diapers and finally the Cheerios, substituted with soft granola bars suitable for their new teeth.

I don’t know if it is because I’m so tired that I can’t stop looking at them.  I didn’t sleep before leaving at 2am for my flight, running on anxiety and anticipation.  Am I having a nostalgic breakdown here at the airport?  My mind continues to wander.

My daydreams happen everywhere, coffee shops, libraries, restaurants, anywhere.  I look at new parents like I’m an infertile woman, longing for a child.  This makes no sense, as I am a middle-aged mother of two grown children.  I was blessed with two sons and feel so lucky to be their mom.  I’ve enjoyed them and have paid my dues; those days are over.  I really don’t want another child.  So, why do I do this?  I think I miss having a little one. Their arms and legs full of rolls and puffy cheeks, kissing exposed knees and rolled necks.  Maybe I’m trying to vicariously re-live those precious days. I want to once again feel that velvety baby skin against my face.  Inhale the unbelievably clean fragrant smell of the top of their head.  I want to be a grandmother.

The dad reaches into the large bag and pulls out a small plastic container of yogurt.  Putting it down beside him, he balances her on his knee and opens the treat to start feeding her.  Her eyes are wide and bright with wild anticipation of a creamy sweet mouthful.  She starts with a shake of excitement for what is coming.  A little shriek of euphoria follows as her eyes are transfixed on the spoon.  Her blue eyes bulge, the arms shake like a baby bird, and the legs stiffen, ready for the first installment.  I laugh a little at how cute and funny she is.  The mom catches my voyeur eyes and sees how amused I am.  We smile at each other.  She is so proud of her child.

About eight years ago I started to think a lot about having grandchildren.  It happened as the realization that my fertile years were over.  My friends were becoming grandparents and were transformed into a higher being.  All the fun with little responsibility; no babysitters, parent-teacher conferences, or doctor appointments.  I thought a lot about my sons having kids and being there to help them.  To me, it would be like having a second chance, enjoying the child of my child.  Watching them create a family and care for them as I did them.  However, my sons do not plan to have children, and I’m proud of them for making such an important decision.  If it’s not right for them, then I totally respect that.  Their happiness means more to me than anything.

There is a loud announcement that my plane is boarding.   I looked up from the computer, and the new parents are gone.  They slipped away without me noticing.  Just like my mothering years slipped away.  I hope they enjoy every step of the journey with their baby.  I gather my heavy bags and decide that this is my second chance.  I will live life to the fullest knowing my kids are safe and happy.  I can travel anywhere I want, whenever I want.   There’s great satisfaction knowing that I did everything I could to provide a happy childhood for them.  I believe being a good mom is the ultimate reward.  No more dreaming about things that aren’t meant to be.

I may never become a grandmother but I gave my mom two beautiful grandsons.

Life Topics

Thank you boys

Adam & Colin

Thank you boys for making me your mother.
There you were in my loving arms.

Thank you boys for teaching me that life’s plans are fleeting.
Ready for the party until someone was crying or had to go to the hospital.

Thank you boys for helping me appreciate time. Birthday party planning
and school trips.
The days were long and the years were short.

Thank you boys for showing me that I could be helpless
especially during the bedtime struggle when the night seemed endless.

Thank you boys for making me the mother I always hoped to be.
Making so many mistakes that you thankfully will never remember.

Thank you boys for your devoted love.  It is pure and sometimes undeserved.
I am only human.

Thank you boys.  You’re grown now, but you have taught me all I need to know.
My heart is full.

I will love you forever.

Life Topics

Perhaps

I fancy myself a wine enthusiast, a drinker, a partaker if you will.  Yes, I drink to an uncertain excess if the truth be told, but just shy of drunkenness.  I hate to be drunk and avoid it at most costs, but it happens on occasion regretfully.  I come from a family of non-drinkers, so I’m the unnamed black sheep. I usually sit with my family drinking wine, while they have their tea.  Eyebrows are raised, silence ensues as I pour my first glass.   My wine bottle gets cracked open at cocktail hour like clockwork.  Six o’clock on Thursday and Friday, if I’m not working that night, and 4 or 5 o’clock on the weekend days. I have my standards.   I try not to drink during the week, but Thursday is close enough to the weekend to count.

“Are you a wino” my mother asks with an accusatory tone, as I stand in her kitchen.  My only response is simple and quiet, “Perhaps I am mother.  Perhaps I am.”  What can I say?!?  “Yes mother, I drink to make you miserable” is what she may want to hear, but it’s not true.  I drink because I enjoy it.  I like the taste, the smell, the feeling.  I think she envisions me as the loveable “wino” character Otis in the Andy Griffith Show; disheveled, falling down, slurring words – a person to be embarrassed of.  I think it’s the idea that her daughter could be “a drunk” that really disturbs her.  I am nothing of the sort.

Most of my friends end their day with a wine or two.  I have no judgement.  However, I found a few years ago, that drinking wine during the week effected my ability to concentrate and focus the next day.  So, I changed it up and only drinking on weekends, with the exception of special occasions, holidays and vacations.  Sipping wine while I knit, watch TV or chat with a friend is a great pleasure.  I am relaxed and happy to share my time and my life.

I write this after having a bottle of wine, no effects of a wine stupor.  I am not drunk.  Why is there such a stigma around enjoying wine or alcohol?  Why must I justify my actions to those who do not like alcohol or those who don’t drink it?  Explaining why I drink wine reeks of insecurity and self-doubt.  I can’t do that.   Is it not possible to partake without being seen as having a “problem?”  I think so.  But, for many, the perception is that one drink is too much.  Is one cookie too much, is one bowl of ice cream too much?  Where are these invisible standards that we must adhere to?  Who makes up the rules?

People know what works for them, so let’s live and let live.   Perhaps we should.

Cheers.

Jo McLaughlin

Jo is a media professional working in Massachusetts. She is the founder of Dilettante life, and the co-host of the podcast Dipstitch (dipstitch.net, available on Spotify and Apple podcasts). She enjoys writing for Dilettante Life observing life and sharing experiences.

Life Topics

Dipstitch Podcast

Hello Dilettante Life followers, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything.  Time to get back in the saddle soon.  I miss my blog.

However, the reason I’ve been absent for so long is I have found a new passion I wanted to tell you about…

I have a new podcast!  It’s called Dipstitch,  a 15-30 minute episode of “sisterly conversation” brought to you each week.  What is sisterly conversation?  Well, my sister Susan and I talk about food, family, faith, dogs, knitting, jobs, holidays, parenthood and EVERYTHING in between.  I know you might be thinking, “this is a chic podcast” but it’s not. Most topics are very relatable and entertaining.  We have some laughs along the way and even have a guest every so often to join in the fun.

Won’t you have a listen?  Our audience is fantastic and makes the podcast worthwhile.  But, we’re looking to grow our fan base by inviting you to listen.  Dipstitch is available on a number of podcast platforms, but the easiest one to use is podchaser.com.

To become a loyal listener, go to podchaser.com and in the search box type Dipstitch.  Our podcast page will come up and have a green “Follow Podcast” button on the right side of the screen.  Click on it, and you’ll get an email when a new episode is uploaded.  It’s that simple.  And, if you scroll down, you’ll see Recent Episodes with a link next to it, to “View All”.   One stop shopping.

Thank you so much for being a loyal follower of Dilettante Life.  I hope you will enjoy Dipstitch as much, and become a follower there as well.

Warm Regards,

Jo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life Topics

Like a Fresh Bloom

I wanted the picture to be a promise.

A symbol of love that smells like a fresh bloom.  Time fades in the background.
A place that didn’t really matter anyway.

It sits on my desk and whispers stories I’ve never heard.  Was she ever that young?  Those hands didn’t belong to her, aged, wrinkled and riddled with veins and spots at the end.

The picture ties me to her other life.  A life without me. Eyes that look hopeful but cautious, not fully knowing anything.  Soon to be a bride, then a mother, my grandmother.

Promise me we’ll see each other again.

Promise.

Life Topics

Abduction – #MeToo

window_backgroundMediumREPOST:

I was almost abducted.  It took two weeks of being followed for me to realize that I was in danger.

My best friend and I would frequently walk the neighborhood, going to the corner store, or just taking walks to pass time.  We noticed a man in a van waving his private parts as he drove by.  We were at the age where we didn’t quite understand what was happening, but knew somehow it was wrong.  We finally asked each other if we saw what we saw, and we were in agreement that we did see something creepy.

Not mentioning it to anyone, I set out to do my daily paper route one day, not knowing what lay ahead.
As I walked the sidewalks that I’d walked a million times, I saw the van drive down the street.  Looking up from my routine, I saw this man wave his genitals as he drove by.  I began to panic. I felt my pulse quicken and was in a state of confusion.  I did, however, understand that this fear was real.  My house was nearby, so I ran inside to tell my mother.

Upon entering the house, I crouched down, as to not be seen through the windows, and confessed to my mother that I was a target of this deranged person.  She calmly told me that I had nothing to worry about, and that I should say the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23:4, and I would be fine.  She continued to say that I should finish my paper route, and to not worry.

I don’t know why I continued the paper route, or why I even left my house, but my mother said to say the Lord’s Prayer, and that’s what I was going to do.  She said I would be safe and I halfheartedly believed her.  As I took a side street, connecting two major roads, I saw the van again.  This time, it was slowly turning onto the side street heading toward me.  I was on the 3rd or 4th Psalm 23:4 as the van approached me.  Without any premeditated thought, I instinctively ran into an overgrown grassy corner lot, heading toward the middle and layed flat on my stomach, paper sack by my side.

I held my breath, as to not have the grass move to give away my location.  I remember feeling shocked as the van stopped on the side of the road and the driver’s door opening and closing.  I was petrified.
He was coming after me, and I had no protection, nowhere to go.  I could see him approaching the lot through the grass. “ The Lord is my shepherd…the Lord is my shepherd.”  Then all of a sudden, I saw him re-enter his van, as another car came driving up the side street.  He didn’t want to be seen I realized, he didn’t want to get caught.  He was going to let me go.

After about 20 minutes of lying flat on my belly, I realized that the coast was clear.  I should have ran home, but I had a paper route to finish.  So, I collected myself and continued my route.  But, it didn’t take long before he appeared again.  I didn’t know what to do this time.  I was safely canvasing my customer’s homes, keeping close to their doorways and away from the sidewalk.  But, it wasn’t enough.  I was inflamed with the psychological toll this was taking on me.  I was not safe, and I had stopped saying the prayer.

Finally, I had enough.  I was delivering a paper to the back door of a customer, when the van stopped at the end of the driveway.  Luckily, the customer was in his back yard.  I implored him to help me, trying to explain what was happening, without getting into the gory details.  Right about halfway through my plea, the van pulled up at the end of the driveway.  The customer was at his back door, not visible from the street.  I stopped to catch my breath and saw a devious smile from behind the van’s glass.  The customer stepped away from his backdoor, and looked toward the street.  The van peeled out with a loud sound of the revved engine and burning rubber.  I pointed toward the van to tell my customer that this was the man following me.  My customer called my father to tell him that I needed to be picked up.  “The Lord is my shepherd there is nothing I shall want.”

Detectives came to my house a couple of days later to question me about the incident.  It was during Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.  I hated to have to stop watching my favorite show.  They asked me all kinds of questions about the pervert, which I answered completely and truthfully.  My father sat at the table with us.

I learned a few weeks later that the man was caught, and that my mother didn’t want me to go to court to relive the entire events again.  That was fine with me at the time.  However, looking back, I can’t understand why she didn’t want him off the streets.  Would someone else know to say the Psalm 23:4 when stalked?  And, most importantly, I wondered why my mother didn’t protect me at the time.

I have now come to terms with what happened.  I trusted my mother, and she trusted God.  It was her way of dealing with the situation.  It was 1974, and these things didn’t happen in suburbia, or so we thought.  I would have protected my children in a much different way, but this was her way.

I have said the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23:4 under my breath many times since the near abduction.  There will always be predators amongst us, but they won’t take me.  They can’t take me.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil.  Who knows what saved me that day.  Could it have been prayer, or quick instincts?  I’ll never really know for sure.

Can I get an AMEN?!?!

Life Topics

A Mother’s Trail

DSCN3864
A Mother’s Trail

I’ll probably never have girls,
only you have that treat,
To listen to my whining
with patent on my feet.

Bruised knees, temporary curls,
Pantsuits for generations to last.
Hand-me-down memories play over, and I grasp.
Who was this blonde little jewel?
She’s still there, but now box color is a tool.

New clothes sewn with love,
worms enjoyed straight from the can.
The boys cast first, I was once last in the clan.
With baby teeth and warm exposed chest,
those worms were delicious.
Fishing was the best.

Dress up on Essex included gown and fan,
and into the carriage went toy cars and vans.
Pushing my possessions and caring for steel,
I wanted it all and pushed endlessly genderless zeal.

I grew as expected, and tried to stay in line,

Realizing that nothing is perfect – only the
slow, gentle healing of time.

So easy life seems at the start.

Then on my own, and slowly I felt things came apart.

A bad marriage, a struggle, an end.
You supported me almost like a friend.

Only not too close, you are the Mom
and sympathy and emotion is not an Irish charm.
Get through it, and be who you are…
have the confidence to carry yourself far.

You’ve guided and walked my trail with me,
holding your breath silently,
as I’ve veered off without careful thought,
to things you’ve seen – knowing I’d get caught.

I wish you ran after me, or guided me more,
but watching me go, you shared a strong core
that a mother must have to see a child stray…
hoping I would remember my mistakes some day.

Instead, keeping me in sight,
you’ve kept my trail worn, defined and true.
As I fall in the distance,
I lay there just waiting for you.

I can see where you are, and I’m desperate to get back,
this ground is so dark, and so wet and so black.

This offshoot seemed so right at one time.

I’m pleading, please, rescue me, hold me
the way you once did, when I was sick or scared.
But you look, and gesture and slow for me now,
I have to understand a direction, somehow.
I’m too heavy to carry, and you don’t want to break stride.
I must learn to travel with dignity and pride.

When I finally reach you, not a word is exchanged.
I’m muddy and tired and feel so ashamed.
Soon or steps move together, determined yet strange.

We’re not alone on our hike.  Turn and look back.

My own children are coming, they’re now in sight.
I must clear a trail for us that is safe and right.

Mom, let me run back and carry them some of the way.

I want to love and protect them more than any words can say.

You shoot me a glance that is both loving and strict.
I know what you mean, but my heart feels sick.
I’m strong now, I can carry them as long as the day.

Instead, keeping them in sight, I turn and gesture
and slow for them now.

They must understand a new direction, somehow.

You take the trail up the hill to the left,
and I will go right.

My blonde little jewels still keeping me in sight.