Monday, January 23, 2012


Gabby has a zit.

It’s not just any, run of the mill blemish. It’s the elephant in the room. It gets there before her. Her sweet face has been swallowed by this red, pulsating BLOB. My youngest daughter has this beautiful alabaster, sensitive skin, and she’s only NINE. It’s too early for such things. I’m not ready.

So being her mother, I tried to make her feel better. We washed it; steamed it; soaked it. We tried not to poke it. We talked about the redeeming qualities of selecting just the right shade of cover-up. And then we honed our skills at the proper application of it.

We were dealing with life's unfair blow to Gabbo's nose in stride.

Then her sister brought the subject up on the bus the other day in front of  her friends and made her feel badly.  We’ve all been there —that point of unwanted attention leading to public humiliation. It’s horrifying. I was horrified for her.

She was coping fairly well with the whole situation until that point, and so was I. I hadn’t even tried to POP it.

Gabby came home with tears. This is a rarity. My kids are made of some tough stuff. 

Gabbo: “Mom she made EVERYBODY laugh about my nose on the bus; even the HIGHSCHOOLERS.”

(Yes, my 4th and 5th graders ride the bus with the high schoolers. It’s not a perfect world. The only thing I can do is try and get them to sit as far away as possible and out of ear-shot . Apparently not this time, though.)

Me: “Oh Gabbo, I’m sorry. But you know EVERYBODY gets zits. Zoe will get one sooner or later and maybe then she’ll be more understanding.”

Gabby: “I know but …”

Me: “Gabbo …. And yours is not just any zit. It’s a special zit. It’s …. Well it’s more like a TOO-MAH!”

I said this last part in what I imagined to be my best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice.

Then I started laughing. And I couldn’t stop. It was Friday night. It had been a long week battling this zit and everything else life cannoned our way. My defenses were down.

And, of course, the Schwarzenegger reference didn’t resonate with Gabby, so she asked me what I said. So I got myself together and…..said it AGAIN!  


Then I collapsed into even a bigger, shameful ball of giggles.

It was just Gabby and me in the room. No one else was around to witness this horrifying scene of Mom-gone-wrong. She sort of looked on with a combination of confusion and wonderment and a little crying laughter.

Eventually I collected myself and tried to hug away any lasting ill-effects of my blemish — I mean my blunder.

It dawned on me then why, maybe, our three children are pretty capable of coping with life's knocks. 

Sometimes I think that if our children survive the likes of us — their parents — the people who love them more then anything else in the world, then really nothing will keep them down.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Listening to BBC yesterday, I learned Chris Evans, a Radio2 DJ recently bought Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and is having it restored to its original splendor.

Original splendor.

I would like to be restored to my original splendor…

But that’s not what came to mind immediately —(only just now, really).

No — what came to mind and to heart were all the memories and emotions that program evoked when I was six or seven watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on TV. Most likely I was laying on the floor, belly down with a bowl of buttery popcorn in front of me, just about a foot from the footed set.

The mere mention of the car yesterday brought about much the same emotion, only different. I love that movie and all the possibility of adventure it promises. 

More than anything, I lament the beautiful naivety of the age I was when I first saw that movie; an age I now watch my children surpass.

My youngest lost not one — but TWO teeth yesterday, and while she seemed excited by the not one — but TWO silver dollars under her pillow this morning, I noticed that telltale look of knowing shaded by her lashes in those big blue eyes.

Other things lately have me thinking about how easy (hard at the time) it was to be (feel like) a good mom if only I had them dressed properly, fed and happily playing on the floor — or stuffed into their carseats ready for an adventure of my own making.

I can’t seem to get them dressed properly any more. They choose, instead to go out into the cold without their nice coats. The coats are usually left dangling from their hooks, or from my outstretched arm. I want to yell and stamp my foot on the ground, and sometimes I do, but often to no effect. I know this. Every time.

I see my son channeling through his day more and more without seeking much input from me. I try to keep him stocked and sorted.  And I provide rides. He still needs rides.

In fact, last week we came to loggerheads over a respect issue, and the only thing I could really wield to any effect, I felt at the time, was to withdraw the ride. So I made him walk home. He was mad. I was worried. But he made it home and understood why I did it. We talked about it later.

I would like to restore the time when I could stuff my three beautiful people into the back seat of our very own Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and to offer them laughter and adventure; even with all the dangers out there; me at the wheel to protect them. We've had many of those.

But they are beginning to slide over and take the wheel for themselves; seeking their own sort of adventures. I know I need to let them. I'm not quite ready, though. I'm up for a few more of my own design, before I let them take the car on their own...

"Bang Bang, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ... Our Fine Four Fendered Friend!"

Monday, January 9, 2012


I’ve been having more than my share of “blond moments,” lately. In fact, I think I said the term more than once yesterday, "Sorry. I'm having a blond moment."

I’d like to blame my silliness on the color of my hair, I really would. Furthermore, I’d like to say my ever-increasing “ice blond” (read gray/white) hair actually qualifies to be assigned to this esteemed hair-color category.

I guess I’m not sure the term is relevant when it comes to me or my condition. I’m okay with that.

What I’m NOT okay with, is the ever-increasing frequency in which I find myself in the middle of making a point or reference in a conversation that I cannot complete. It’s that pinnacle moment when you’re about to bubble over with some awesome relevancy — and you can’t recall the particulars; instead only a random reference with an approximate summation and an estimated date come to mind.

It leaves one with the same sense of “near to nothing” feeling that having sex with no climax does. That’s okay once in a while, but if it happens with any frequency, it’s a bit of a letdown.

So, like many, I blame my problems on the military.

Here’s my theorem: the more often you move, the more you have to trash information about the place you’ve just left, in order to create enough RAM for the new information you’re about to download.
This repetitive process causes cracks in the short-term crevices of your brain.

All the details about daily living are effected — like knowing the names of: neighbors; doctors; realtors; lawyers; hair salons; teachers; restaurants; libraries; churches; books; the cat; the dog; and/or, ... your children. The list goes on. ALL those things become moot and must be replaced and re-recorded every two to three years (except, of course, your children).

This process can render a person pointless.

Therefore, my lack-of-clarity moments have nothing to do with getting older or with the color of my hair. It is the military that is to blame. The big, generic not-so-specific, overgeneralization many like to make when referring to any or all of the five branches as, "THE MILITARY." In this case it might apply. These short-term memory-loss symptoms resulting from frequent moves know no distinctions.

Have I already written about this? I honestly can't remember ...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


It’s Back to School, chapter 2 — THE NEW YEAR — today. I looked around after the morning rush, with a slow-motion, moving through mud-like quality. This is in sharp contrast to the get up and go feeling I was mentally striving for in my New Year resolve. I conjured a different energy for the past two days in my anticipation.

Actually the kids did really great today. Everyone got up; got ready; got their teeth brushed; all with minimal morning bickering. That, in itself, is a major thing; one to be noted and chalked up as an accomplishment.

I stood at the door and watched my children hold themselves down against the blustering winds that presently whip through East Anglia, England. They are feet-liftingly fierce. (I use plural here, because there has to be more than one wind whirling out there.) They fly about as if there’s a real in-my-face challenge to how serious I was when I penned my page-long goals. which is really the first time I've laid pen to paper in a serious way in quite some time.

I had a difficult time making just one or two good resolutions this year. I have an entire list. I think this must be a direct by-product of “the year after the big move.” Our entire 2011 was dominated by change, both physical location and mental outlook. That’s over now, so time to get busy on some constructive life issues that were shelved or have resulted because of our move.

We all, I argue, are products of our environment, at least in some part. Constant change is the bridge to everything a military family is about. So at least, for us, our surroundings, play a large part in our lives. We live our life sandwiched in between moves. Our achievements are linked together by places and, our military member’s deployment schedule.

It’s easy to lose sight of self in all of this. Self-image, self-actualization, selfishness — you attach the clause, any which one is relevant to the issue.

Some people are in professional fields that bridge nicely, like teaching or nursing. Those fields seem to be largely transportable. Some spouses work in the technology field out of their homes, which is nice, too.

Others — and I seem to fit into this category — have largely left their fields, which leaves them feeling divided. On one hand, you get to reinvent yourself every few years and offer yourself up to whatever your new situation may hold, or focus on family first, which is such a gift. On the other side of the coin, you wonder where you’d be professionally, if only you had the opportunity to, a) live in one place long enough to build your career (again); and b)live in a place which offers you opportunity in your field.

My avocation has become a thread, stitching some fabric of consistency between moves. I began coaching swimming three locations and/or six years ago. Sometimes I get paid; sometimes I don’t. But it keeps me focused on something outside the immediate military sphere. I like that for me and for the kids, although coaching lanes which contain your children poses its own set of issues to overcome.

In addition, military spouse service duties can be smaller or larger, depending on place and time. These range from social to the real work of caring for others. This aspect of our life can be overwhelming at times, when you stop and think that it all exists by virtue of relation, not necessarily a self-driven choice. Some people embrace the opportunity to jump in and roll up their sleeves; others don’t. It’s a personal choice, and one must respect both points of view. The expectations of yourself outside and in, and the tasks involved are, at times, daunting.

Military obligations are a large slice of life, presently. So I resolve to practice balance, and to write more than I have since the move, no matter what the winds of 2012 have in store. It was a relief to see my pre-move blog page still exists and that I can still fill it with words situated in a new place and time. That's a nice bridge.

As with everything on that New Year's list, it's one step at a time; one day at a time. Maybe focus and forward motion don't come with great exuberance and exclamation punctuated by firewords booming at midnight, but instead with steady, studied sailing, sighting the distant light on these windy, ever-changing seas.