Monday, June 24, 2013

The 36 things project: Item #10 - Mom's Last Wish Trip

This year I set a goal of 36 things to do for my 36th year.  Some are meaningful, some are mundane, some are silly.  Follow along as I check things off my list. 

10.  Take my "Mom's Final Wish" Trip
My mom had a final request and that was for my brothers and my dad to take her grandkids to Disneyland soon after she passed.  We haven't done it yet and it makes me feel guilty.  I know that wasn't her intent, but I can see her shaking her head in heaven and saying, "Make it happen...  there will always be a reason or excuse, that right now isn't the ideal time."  My brother and I feel strongly that we need to honor her request, so this year we will set a date and go.

The back story:   My mom was nervous about traveling overseas when we were little kids, so she made a cassette tape of her words of wisdom, in case something happened.  She stumbled upon the tape 10 years ago, and thought it was still worthwhile.  She added to it then and one of the last things she said, was that her final wish was that we use the "fun money" she had in an account and go to Disneyland as a family.  She always wanted to go to Disneyland with her grandkids and see this magical place through their eyes.   After a year of trying to coordinate schedules, my brother and I decided, we needed to make it a priority.  I wish my dad and other brother could have been there and I know my mom was with us in spirit.  My mom knew what she was doing, my family needed this time together, and for me I needed this time with my brother.
My brother and I toasted my mom over a Dole Whip and when we sat singing along in the Enchanted Tiki Room, I couldn't help but think, "Mom, would have LOVED this."   It was my favorite part of the trip
Here is the crazy thing about Disneyland, we have been there over 60 times, and yet we did things on this trip we have never done.   Such as the Enchanted Tiki Room, and shooting at the shooting range. 
I loved that AK helped Mr. Man navigate and told him, "I'm a Disneyland Professional Dad, here's where we go." 
AK got to meet some more princesses on this trip and I love that she asked, "Princess Tiana, What are you cooking for dinner tonight?" 
We went on Splash Mountain, which I have only been on once, but never completed the ride.   I am technically, banned for life from this ride due to my stint in the Disneyland Jail. 
AK and I slipped away from the group to meet up with some princesses.  We have never met Ariel, she has been our elusive Princess.   (FYI, the new "Princess Pavillion" or whatever it is called, has THE WORST lighting for photographs.) 
We made a special request while standing in line to see if Ariel could come and meet us.   AK was in shock when she saw Ariel.  
AK told her that we have a beautiful saltwater pool that she can come and swim in anytime.  They parted ways after taking a "Fishy Face" photo.  
We went into the nearly vacant giftshop where two Disneyland employees doted on AK and helped her pick out the perfect souvenir.
I couldn't resist a photo in our favorite spot. 
Then we met up with the group and went to a fancy dinner.  My mom would have insisted on the fancy dinner, and I'm sure she was checking out our manners from up in heaven.   We talked about the best part of our days and then talked about my mom.   We talked about how there was nothing more important to my mom than her family, and how she wants us to spend time together.  She wants us to be friends. We toasted her memory and then ordered 2 desserts each.... because that's what mom would have wanted.
After dinner we watched the fireworks show and squeezed in a few more rides.  It was so fun to spend quality time with my sweet husband and darling kiddos.  I couldn't resist taking this selfie of us at the park.
At the end of the day my little ones zonked out, Mouse Ears and all at the hotel. Best Day Ever.   The best thing is that we woke up the next day and did it all over again.
Thank you mom!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

No doubt

I have a big confession. My children do not get along.  They bicker and fight and they try to bug each other constantly.   We've tried 10,000 different things over the past two years, but the reality is... they bicker a lot. It's frustrating and annoying, and it makes me feel like a terrible mother that I can't figure out how to get them to stop.  Then one day over a year ago I confided in a maternal figure in my life and she said, "I have never seen children fight as much as your children."   Those words stung and were seared into my brain.   My kids didn't come with an instruction manual and I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to raising them.  I'm doing my best, but there is a predominant feeling that I am just guessing what the right answer is.

Today we went and swam with some friends at their house and on the way home we chatted about having gooey, grilled paninis for dinner.  Not wanting to go into the big grocery store in my swimsuit and towel, I opted to stop at a little deli/market in our neighborhood.   I stood there and talked to the owner/butcher "Tony" in my swimsuit and towel, while he gathered an assortment of meat and cheeses for our impromptu dinner.   When I apologized for my appearance he told me, "I was the best thing that walked in his store today."  He went on to explain that he loved that we walked in wearing swimsuits to get something quick for dinner, because we had spent all day swimming and playing. There wasn't a better way for a family to spend the day.  When I unpacked our groceries I found Tony had slipped in cookies and a note, "You are a good mom."  

Later that night, I sat in the backyard painting deck chairs.  My children were giggling and chatting in the tent we had set up for them.  They had insisted on sleeping in there, but I knew there wouldn't be much sleeping going on.   While I listened to them tell silly stories, I thought about the unexpected note.  For a full year, I had felt like a failure, putting weight on one person's comment. I decided at that moment, I needed to let go, and stop berating myself.   I'm setting a bad example for my kids and I'm doing a good job at being a mother.  After all, my brothers and I bickered nonstop and we are the best of friends as adults.

Motherhood is a tough gig, and I feel like there aren't enough people like Tony the Butcher who are cheering us on as mothers.   From now on, I'm going to make a conscious effort to celebrate my mom friends, to let them know, they are doing a good job.  If you are reading this, you need to know that I think you are doing a fine job in life, whatever your role might be.   It's time for me to start putting stock more in the praise, and less in the criticism.  Also, I think I need to make Panini's more, and hit Tony's Deli more often, especially if he is giving out free compliments and cookies. 

Have you ever hung on to a criticism longer than you should? 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dear Children, There is something you need to know...

Dear Children,
The other night I was watching TV and saw a gentleman whip out his perfectly folded pocket square to hand to a lady who was crying.   It was a chivalrous act and a gesture of good manners.   I was struck by it, because I worry that chivalry is fading in our society.  When I was dating, I was always bothered by a man opening the car door for me, it seemed awkward.  Since I was raised to be fiercely independent, I would politely tell the gentleman, "I prefer to get my own door" and looking back, I wonder if that was a mistake.
So I have been quietly observing people for the last few weeks to see...  is chivalry gone? Did I push it out of my life while I was busy trying to be an assertive and independent woman?

It doesn't matter, because Mr. Boy, you have a kind heart, and often open doors for strangers. Mr. Man opens the door for everyone too, and while he doesn't wear a pocket square, I've been offered up a crumpled up Kleenex from his pocket on many occasions.

Here is something you should know, your father, is not afraid to proclaim his love in front of others.  Tonight Mr. Man and I chatted while he drove to meet up with some colleagues for dinner. It is a new project and not people he knows all that well, but as he joined them, we said our goodbyes and he said, "I love you." before he hung up.  It made me pause, and I appreciate how he is not shy to proclaim his love in front of those he works with.  

You need to know, my dear children, that he and I practically wrestled each other to the ground trying to hold our babies first when we met you.   He has carried a diaper bag with pride and has done his share of the housework over the years.   He has embraced the title of Father and Husband, while there are times where I have wanted to run away from my roles. 

My dear children, you need to know, just how lucky you are to have such an amazing man as your dad.   We hit the jackpot with him, and for that I am grateful.