Everything I Never Told You

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I don’t often write about the books that I am reading. But when I am not writing, I am reading. As in reading all-of-the-time reading.

(When’s my walk, our dog asks. Where’s my dinner, my very tolerant husband wants to know. Sorry, but I’m in the middle of a really good book, I respond.)

Last night, or rather very early this morning, I finished an amazing novel called Everything I Never Told Youby author Celeste Ng. It was her debut book, a New York Times best seller, it won all sorts of awards.

(I’m jealous! Writing a novel is #1, #2 and #3 on my list of life goals. If only someone would invent a device to get the book that writes itself in my head nightly while I am dreaming onto paper.)

I won’t ruin the plot of “Everything I Never Told You”, but truly you need to race out and read it. The author manages to combine the elements of a mystery (my favorite literary genre) with the story of a family that kept their true feelings about themselves a secret from each other, to their own peril.

After I reluctantly finished the book, I pondered its title further. So opposite from my own family. We have always told each other everything. Candor to a fault. Critical when not necessary. Over-sharing well before that became a “thing.”  As my cousin told me after our recent Passover Seder, sometimes you just can’t get in a word edgewise at one of our family’s meals.

My husband says I am a “truth-teller”. But lately I’m finding it easier to write through my feelings rather than say them aloud.

I may have been influenced by this TMI trend. Let no difficult experience go unmentioned. Share every moment, express your inner feelings to all.  The comedian, Margaret Cho, said in a recent interview that she “can’t think of a thing that should be hidden.” In her life, as in her show, her interviewer commented, “nothing is too private, too sacred or too humiliating to be turned into a punch line.”

I am not, nor do I wish to be, a comedian, although I do enjoy making my friends laugh at what I believe is my witty repartee. For years as a lawyer I also liked to amuse my clients in our non-legal moments. I relish drawing praise for my punch lines.

But where do you draw the line at using your own personal life to create a good punch line?

Last Friday I met two friends who I had never met for lunch.

Translation: in an online writing class I took this winter (plug here for the terrific Her Stories Project) three of us in discovered we lived in the DC area so decided to meet each other in real life after class ended. We already “knew” each other through the drafts of our shared essays. I knew about their kids, their husbands, what they worried about, what they didn’t, as they knew about mine. We had a wonderful lunch, we were instantly at ease with each other, as I expected we would be.

The three of us talked a bit about over-sharing. About how much we should be making public to an unknown crowd (hoping it is a crowd) of readers through our essays, our blogs, our  published work, about us and our kids. When our kids get older, as mine already have, what will they think when they read what we have written about them, we wondered? Is it enough of a cover, an acceptable justification to say that we, as parents, are writing our own stories, not theirs, even if our kids often play leading roles in what we write?

May 21, 2015 will be the one year anniversary of this Blog. 48 posts, one a week. (the math may be approximate here.) I have been enjoying it immensely.

But have I occasionally been guilty of using people from my real life as punch lines?

I think so. And after much thought, I am going to stop – or at least try – to stop doing so. Celeste Ng wrote so eloquently in her book about a family that was not candid enough with each other. Hers was a novel but I sense her words rose from a real life place. In my own real-life place over-candor can be hurtful, not helpful. Whether in private or in a public forum.

Announcing My New Plan: Write my own truth but at no one else’s expense. And think hard about signing up for a new writing class – this time in fiction. Look for my first novel – in, say 2018?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Blogging, Books, Communications, Family, Female Friends, friendship, Moms, Over-Communicating, Parenting, Raising Kids, Reading, Social Media, Women, Writing

“Opening Day” or Just Another Monday in April?

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Of the many annual events on my calendar, one stands out – “Opening Day” – the day in April when professional baseball leagues begin their regular season.

Nearly all of my friends, relatives and other human beings with whom I come into regular contact are big baseball fans.

And I am not. Never have been. May never be.

For me “Opening Day” marks the beginning of my lonely season. The season when most people I spend time with in the DC area talk incessantly about baseball – and I am unable to join in.

A conversation in which I cannot participate is very difficult for me. As you may have gathered, I have opinions on all topics and like to offer them to others, whether requested to do so or not.

My unwelcome opinion is that watching baseball is both boring and tedious, two cardinal (oh, wait, isn’t that the name of a team?) sins. I prefer to watch sports that move more quickly. And have more transparent rules.

  • Like college football. Every ten yards = a first down.
  • And college basketball = the ball goes in the basket and the score board changes.
  • Add in rowing, in which my daughter participated in high school (she was a coxswain). When the first crew boat goes over the line = that team wins the race.
  • All action, speed and easy to follow.

Just as the cherry blossom trees on the mall make their annual appearance so does my early spring willingness to try to learn why I should like baseball.

Last week I recruited two of my most fervent baseball fan friends to help me to overcome my dislike of America’s Pastime.

What is it, I asked my old college pals, Martha and Paula, that makes you so hot about the sport that leaves me so cold?

Martha traces her love of baseball to her New England childhood, recalling summer afternoons in her backyard “slathered in baby oil and listening to the Red Sox on the radio.”” And years later as a Mom, Martha kept up with her teen son’s favorite team finding it “a great conversation starter when every other topic elicited mostly grunts.”

Then she tells me about how much she loves debating baseball strategy and understanding its’ legalistic complexities.

(Have I mentioned that Martha also is a lawyer?)

I have heard this many times before. Allegedly, as a lawyer, now a semi-retired one, I should find baseball fascinating because of its intricate rules.

(Can I state here, for the record, just to allay your fears, that I do have many friends who are not lawyers? Although it is not easy to have non-legal companions in DC, I work at it.)

My friend Paula, yes, also a lawyer, came to love baseball later in life.

As an adult, the minute I started practicing law, I needed something major to distract me. Reading, my other primary form of entertainment, didn’t demand the same level of anger, joy and mastery of arcane facts.”

O.K., I get it. You don’t need to keep hitting me over the head to prove that baseball and the law share an affinity. But when I practiced communications law, as that technology rapidly changed, so did the laws and rules that went with it.

Unlike in baseball. Where nothing ever seems to move with alacrity.

Martha gets a tad testy when I complain to her about the s-l-o-w pace of a baseball game.

Are you kidding me? Is the pace of a Mozart concerto too slow? The game is poetic. It’s a thinking person’s game.”

Ignoring the part where Martha implies I am not a thinker, I remind her that even those at baseball corporate agree with me on the pace problem.

When Major League Baseball adopted changes this February intended to speed up the games, I cheered. A new rule will require hitters (a/k/a the ones with the bats) to keep one foot in the batter’s box (self-explanatory, although I don’t really see it as a box, more of a semi-circle maybe?) between pitches with several exceptions.

And pitchers and batters will only have up to 40 seconds from the announcement of the batter’s name (how long can it take to pronounce someone’s name?) to the time the first pitch is thrown.

Will the game of baseball finally become sufficiently fast to retain my wandering attention?

Probably not, the experts say. So I throw out one last wild pitch to my pals:

“Why can’t I love baseball the way that you do?”

Martha.Because of your constant need for speed? Maybe you just haven’t learned enough about the game to appreciate it? Or maybe you are just WRONG?”

I prefer Paula’s more measured response.

Paula: “Frankly, Nancy, I can’t explain it. You are otherwise a woman of intelligence and taste.”

Yes, Paula, I am  – and I am also a good closer.  Call me the Drew Storen of the essay world. (get it, Nats’ fans?)

 

THE END.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under College, Female Friends, friendship, Lawyers, Women, Writing

Who Wants My Grandmother’s Dining Room Table? We Keep Memories, Our Millennial Kids Don’t.

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In a rare burst of hospitable energy, I invited my friend, Liz and the new longish-term man in her life, to come to dinner on Sunday night. Anticipating our  dinner guests, ever so subtly my husband suggested that this would be the perfect opportunity for me to clean and organize my study.

The New Man, my husband noted, might be put off, if – while en route to our “powder room” – he caught a glimpse of my work area with its disheveled stacks of files and heaps of my carefully curated, extremely relevant, never-to-be-discarded or read again newspaper articles?

O.K., so I am a collector, do you have a problem with that?

If you are in my general age bracket, you may be a collector too. Of newspaper articles, vintage jewelry boxes, antique candle sticks, old sports memorabilia.

A recent article in the Washington Post  confirmed what I had suspected – our adult millennial children are not like us. They do not collect.

Millennials, the article tells us, don’t keep their old college text books in their basement like we do we did. They live simpler lives, preferring their own personal design aesthetic to inherited brown furniture.

I am coming to grips with this fact.

It is highly unlikely that my own kids will want my grandmother’s large, mahogany dining room table nor will they fight over my well-loved, but hardly used (I’m still saving it for “good”), 12 place settings of ornate sterling silver.

We boomers believe that our memories are stored in tangible objects.  Our adult kids do not wax as nostalgic over generational hand-me-downs. They value intangibles instead. Posting their experiences as they experience them, they instagram, they snapchat and then, poof, what could become a memory quickly disappears.

How will our adult kids pass down memories to their own kids if their memories never leave their iPhones?

Yet another problem I won’t be around to solve.

I do see the Millennial attraction to intangibles. They are definitely the lighter way to go.

Admission:  Sometimes I feel tied down by, rather than affectionate towards, the very tangible objects in which my family memories are stored. My grandmother’s dining room table has never been and is not now, let’s face it, an attractive piece of furniture. It is an ungainly space occupier that can seat 12 people. The last time I hosted 12 people at a sit-down dinner was never.

But a few years ago when I considered  – in a brief, wild, rebellious moment  – that I might rid myself of the old dining room table and purchase a new more contemporary one, I could not bring myself to do it.

Sad to contemplate, then, that the big brown dining room table along with my grandfather’s collection of old beer steins and my aunt’s no longer tunable piano will probably end their useful lives in a tag sale, a thrift shop or shudder to think, our county dump.

So when it came time to plan the menu for our Sunday dinner for four, I decided to go all out. Let’s put some sentimental items to work for a change!

Put an old white tablecloth that was my mother’s onto the big brown table. Use a vase we received as a wedding present 37 years ago for flowers. Hand-wash the crystal, half-moon-shaped salad plates that have quietly resided in the china cabinet for all these years. Drag the sterling silver flatware downstairs for its annual airing. Just using all of these tangible objects did make me feel a bit nostalgic.

But I firmly draw the line at cleaning and/or organizing my study.

I do plan, however, you will be glad to hear, to give a full cleaning to our “powder room” (in which, to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever applied powder)  before Liz and her New Man arrive. I figure if he is as thoughtful and kind as Liz says he is, he will also be smart enough to look the other way if happens upon my messy study. I am too attached to the reassuring existence of my carefully curated nest of newspaper articles to sort through and discard any of them – at least for now.

Why mess with my memories while I still have them?

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Adult Kids, Baby Boomers, Family, Female Friends, friendship, Husbands, Parenting, Women

Let’s Stop The Real “March Madness”: the Stress of College Admission Season

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I disagree with part of what New York Times columnist, Frank Bruni, said  – and take issue with what he didn’t say – in his recent column about the madness of this College Admission season.

Yes, it is a ridiculous and harmful obsession that some parents have, shared at times by their teens, with getting accepted to an elite, highly-selective college.

And yes, “getting in” can become the narrowest of goals in this March Madness college admission season.

But – can I be honest here?

I think it really DOES matter where you go to college.

But probably not for the reasons you think.

First – the name brand cachet does opens doors.

When I applied for internships during and for jobs after college, every single interviewer I met labeled me (rightly or wrongly) as smart based upon the school from which I had graduated.

“You went to Smith? My (daughter/wife/niece/cousin) went to Smith. You must be smart.”

(note that the interviewer in my day was always a man. always)

The name of my college opened doors – got me interviews, introduced me to well-connected alums. But it was up to me to achieve once I got in that door.

So if your teen pushes for a brand name school, he understands its name will always be on his resume. He’s right; that name alone will ease his path to jobs and graduate schools.

Second – going to a selective college offers a diverse and intellectually stimulating community in which to live.

Much of the learning in college comes from outside the classroom – which is why it is so important to attend a college where you will be surrounded by people you will learn from.

And, assuming a student, is open to new ideas, because this is really what college is about, isn’t it? –  she will not learn as much from people who look like her, think like her and grew up near her than she would from people who are dissimilar.

Diversity does matter – because highly-selective schools can afford (although not all do) to offer more financial aid, a student is more likely to find a truly diverse student community, in terms of background, beliefs, ethnicity, race and social class in a more selective school.

Third –  and most important, IMHO, where you go to college matters to a student’s mental health.

Bruni does not discuss this but parents and students must.

The absurd stress of the college admission process is but a harbinger of things to come. If a student gets accepted to the dream elite school of her choice, the prize is an entrance ticket into an even more highly stressful academic environment.

Highly-selective schools function as pressure cookers, packed with intensely focused kids driven to succeed and achieve, to get that A, to find the best internship, to land a prestigious job after graduation or get into a top medical school.

And the impact of all of that stress?

An increasingly deleterious impact on the mental health of college students. More students than ever, according to a recent UCLA study, report feeling anxious, depressed and/or stressed.

The University of Pennsylvania, seeking its own answers after a series of student suicides, acknowledges but wants to change its own campus culture of “destructive perfectionism” – – a culture sadly familiar to many at top colleges where similarly driven students put immense pressure on themselves to achieve and then think they have failed themselves (and perhaps their parents) if they don’t meet their often overly-ambitious goals.

Don’t the most selective of colleges bear much of the responsibility for the creation of this pressure cooker culture since it is the colleges themselves that have ratcheted up, with each passing year, this March Madness of the college admission season?

So step back a minute.

If accepted to a highly selective school yes, it’s true that its’ name brand will be a helpful lifetime credential and connection.

And yes, an elite top college may provide the most diverse community in which to live.

But perhaps – even if your student gets accepted by the most tippy-top, elite of schools, because of his perfect grades, mega test scores, impossibly impressive list of awards, achievements and leadership positions, even if your son or daughter is the kind of student who could barely find time to floss in high school, given how busy he or she was keeping up the most competitive of applicant resumes –

Perhaps your student should do the unexpected –  and say “no, thank you” to that most elite of colleges?

What if your student instead considered instead a college with a culture that is not one of  “destructive perfectionism” – but instead one that will support as well as challenge a student.

Here’s the plan:

  • Colleges must take the first step to lessen the pressure to be perfect in order to be accepted.
  • Parents must dial down their expectations.
  • Our students must get the message that colleges (and high schools) are places in which to enjoy learning, to thrive in instead of being driven into a frenzy of unrealistic achievement goals.

Then the only March Madness will be the games we watch on T.V.

Let’s all bet on that.

 

 

 

 

 

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March 31, 2015 · 4:19 pm

Lessons from an A-Minus Childhood: “Do Your Best” or “Be the Best”?

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If Nancy M., my friend and occasional nemesis in elementary school, is reading this, I hope she is happy and successful.

No doubt she is because she was one of the smartest girls in our grade.

Born one month apart, classmates from kindergarten on, she and I shared a popular-at-the-time, first name (in case you missed it), as well as highly developed verbal abilities (top reading group!) and dark  brown hair. She was Nancy M. and I was Nancy W. We both excelled in spelling bees, english and social studies. Teachers always called on us because they knew we knew the answers. Our Moms were close friends and chatted often. Apparently a frequent topic of their conversation was how their daughters were doing in school.

When I came home after school with a newly graded test or quiz, the first question my Mom would often ask me was:

“What grade did Nancy M. get?”

Forever I was to be compared with Nancy M. And forever I was the one who received the occasional A-minus while Nancy M. dutifully came home with straight A’s.

I’m sure my Mom (who sadly, is no longer here to ask) never intended to create in me the belief that an A-minus was akin to a failing grade. But that is how her frequent question made me feel. I did well academically, but knew that however well I did, there was always someone out there, named Nancy or not, who got the A when I got the A-minus.

The legend of Nancy M. made me more sensitive when I became a Mom. I was determined to raise my kids without that theme of comparative childhoods.

Yet as hard as I tried not to put pressure on my own kids, anxieties about their academic success did cross my mind, even if they didn’t cross my lips.

One of my young adults tells me that I was always measuring his performance against other kids. To hear him tell it, his childhood was filled with stress-inducing, albeit unspoken, parental expectations hovering above him at all times like a cartoon thought bubble.

My other young adult remembers it differently.

I know you and Dad went to top colleges. So I expected I would do the same.” She tells me I didn’t have to say a word to know what was expected of her but that most of the pressure she put on herself was self-driven.

So I started to think during this March Madness a/k/a The College Admission Season:

Is it what we say as parents – or sometimes what we don’t say – that causes our kids to feel that sometimes overwhelming stress to succeed?

Last night I watched a new TV show that my friend Caroline (devoted readers of my Blog may remember her from “Road Trip” fame)  introduced me to. Called “Fresh Off the Boat”, it seems at first glance to be the kind of laugh-a-minute sitcom I usually don’t see. But this one is different, laughs yes, but subtle too, focusing on the immigrant experience, through a Chinese-American family who is trying to fit in without losing their values.

In last night’s episode, the Mom, Jessica Huang, adroitly played by actress Constance Wu, tells her children, as she does everyday:

If you are going to do something, be the best.”

But so well-written is the show that she doesn’t come off as a stereotypical, perfection-demanding, “Tiger Mom.” Instead we understand that the pressure she puts on her kids is because she truly wants them to be happy. And in her mind, being successful = being happy.

That made me examine my own parenting motives.  I always said “Do your best” to my kids before they participated in a spelling bee in elementary school, had a math test in middle school or took the SAT in high school.

But perhaps what my kids really heard was not the explicit “Do your best” –  but the implicit message “Be the best.”?

It is too late now to take back what I said or didn’t say to my own kids. But if yours are still young enough to be somewhere between math quizzes and the SAT – or even more importantly if they are looking at or are in college now – – the lesson here is that even if we don’t say it aloud our kids still hear the – do well! – succeed! – be the best! – pressure-inducing messages loud and clear.

And stress, teens and college students are an increasingly combustible mental health mix.

From a Mom who knows, please let them do their best without worrying that they must always be the best. Even if Jessica Huang feels differently.

 

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Filed under Adult Kids, College, Education, Mental Health, Moms, Parenting, Raising Kids, Women, Young Adult Mental Health

Three Friends, The MammoVan and The Flat Tire

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Men think it’s weird when women go to the ladies’ room in groups.

Men may think it even weirder that I go with two friends each year to get our mammograms.

We call it the “MammoVan.”

Let me clarify  – the three of us travel together in one car but we have separate mammograms in consecutive appointments. Even the most advanced imaging machine can only accommodate two breasts at a time.

The three of us – Martha, Liz and I went to the same college and ended up in the DC area. All lawyers but not the boring kind.

We became friends before our breasts did.

Somewhere in her 30’s Martha developed breast cancer (she’s fine now but pretty religious about keeping it that way, as you can imagine). And Liz, somewhere in her 40’s, discovered the BRCA gene ran in her family so she got the same religion.

Me? My breasts have been the healthiest part of my body so far.

Fortunately, another college friend of ours, Dr. Linda, is an expert radiologist with her own practice less than an hour from DC devoted solely to breast imaging. Picture a spa-like setting with plush robes, soothing music and soft colors on the walls together with cutting-edge digital technology. The best part is that all of her patients get the results directly from her that same day. No waiting a week to get a letter in the mail with scary words like “dense tissue” or “ductal.”

If you might be expecting bad news, what better way to take it in than with close friends?

That was the idea that launched our now annual MammoVan.

On our first visit Dr. Linda showed us around her new digs. In the darkened room where she reviews the images that look like white squiggles with a few bright dots on a blurry field she displayed three of our latest studies.

Liz innocently asked Dr. Linda – “Whose image is whose?”

Dr. Linda very sweetly answered:

Can’t you tell? Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear.”

Perhaps TMI but let’s just say that the three of us have differing physical characteristics of our upper torsos.

This morning we set off for our annual visit in the MammoVan (a/k/a Martha’s car.) Halfway there, while on a highway with trucks whizzing past us, we started to hear a clinking sound. Liz, the car expert, confidently announced that was a tailpipe that had come loose. The ridiculous potholes we have had this winter have done their damage. But as the tailpipe clinking become a louder, more clunk-a-clunk sound, Martha guessed correctly, the car had a flat tire.

We pulled over to the side of the highway.

(I was silently cheering. Surely it will take hours for the road service to come and install the spare tire? Yay, we will miss our mammogram appointments!)

No such luck.

While Martha called for help, I noticed that we had pulled over on an overpass precisely between the National Security Agency (barbed wire all around) on one side of the road –  and some kind of penitentiary (more barbed wire) on the other.

Yup, we and our breasts were stuck between two heavy and ominous places already – and we hadn’t even made it to Dr. Linda’s office.

Sadly, the roadside assistance arrived promptly and quickly put on the spare tire. Liz impressed me by knowing the location of something called a lug nut. And when I called Dr. Linda’s office, her receptionist told me she was able to squeeze us in (the squeezing thing!) even if we arrived late.

30 minutes later –  for the benefit of any men still reading this, the following occurred:

1. I took off my bra and sweater and put on a fluffy blue robe, then was escorted into a room with the giant machine.

2. I took off the fluffy blue robe.

3. While standing in front of the giant machine, a technician with a very soothing voice guided me into proper placement upon a solid glass plate onto which my breasts, first the left, then the right, got squished between the solid glass plate and a sledgehammer appearing device which came ever so gently slamming down on the top.

4.  “Hold your breath!”

5. The technician moves away behind the screen. A few buttons are touched.  I breathe again. Unsquished.

6. Then, while staring at a lovely painting of a calming flowers, I was repositioned to stand with my side to the machine. Again, the right, then the left, or maybe it was the other way around.

7. Squash, “Hold your breath!”, squash again, squeeze, more breath holding. Breathe.

8. Done.

It wasn’t so bad at all. I’ll take a mammogram over dental work anytime.

And then, one at a time, we take turns going into Dr. Linda’s office where each of us was told:

You look fine, you are good to go until next year.”

Good news: our breasts are healthy as is our friendship.

If you don’t have a MammoVan in your life, may I suggest you get one? And bring someone along who knows where the lug nut is kept.

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Filed under College, Female Friends, friendship, Lawyers, Men vs Women, Midlife, Women, Women's Health

Road Trip: Part II – An Empty Nester Tries to Escape into the Scenery

 

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The views outside the windows of my friend, Caroline’s, car are spectacular.

Ever changing landscapes that look like moonscapes so unusual are the rock formations that we are seeing at the place where the states of Arizona and Utah meet. The sandstone rocks have names like East Mitten and The Three Sisters and The Thumb. I study the brochure so I can distinguish between a butte, a mesa and a spire.

On Day 5 of our Road Trip we are visiting Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, a valley of shrubs and wind and underground aquifers and the iconic rock pinnacles that rise to 1,000 feet in the air from a valley that is already 5,564 above sea level. It is so very quiet here, off-season, only a few visitors; you can almost hear the wind whistle along the valley floor.

Caroline, who is a geography buff, talks about the forces of water and wind that created the rock formations millions of years ago.  No wonder the Navajo people revere this area.  I am filled with a sense of peace and contentment as I sit on a ledge with my face in the warm sun, overlooking the beautiful valley below.

Then my cell phone rings.

I knew it couldn’t last. I recognize the number, one which I am intimately familiar. It is my son, calling no doubt to tell me of some new problem that he needs me to solve. Right now. He struggles with his mental health. While I am sympathetic, often empathetic and love my son deeply, please know that – there are times – and this is one of them  – when I feel heavily weighed upon by his neediness.

I’m on vacation, I want to shout into the phone. Call your father, I want to tell him. (and then feel  guilty because my wonderful husband is at his DC office while I am the one getting to enjoy this amazing Road Trip from DC to Los Angeles with one of my oldest friends.)

I hesitate, then I pick up my phone, which I had turned on for photo-taking purposes only. A minute into the call, just as my son is getting ready to unload on me (I hear it in his voice), the call fails. Thank you to the cell phone gods for the very spotty service here in this remote rural area!

How ironic is it that even in this most ancient and peaceful place the real world intrudes. We can go on vacation to far away places but no matter where we are, the concerns we left behind follow us. I knew that but still naively thought that for a few days at least, I could escape into the scenery.

Tomorrow we head to a place where I will also be greatly needed.  Caroline and I are volunteering at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, a 3,000 acre animal rehab and rescue center in southern Utah.  When we signed up for our shift at Dogtown, I had visions of sitting on the grass cuddling adorable puppies ready to be adopted. Or taking sweet older dogs on walks through the canyon trails. Caroline thinks instead that we may be asked to fold laundry or clean out dog crates. I am hoping Caroline is wrong.

Even if you are not a dog person, you have to admit that being needed by an animal is a joyful experience. You are nice to them and they love you back. Their needs are uncomplicated and easy to satisfy.

And if you are a parent, you remember, as I do, how when your kids were young how intensely they needed you. I loved that feeling of being the center of their world when they were little. I welcomed their demands and their insistence that I pay attention to them.

But as I relish my empty nester years, I am happy not to be needed so much.

After all I did to get to this stage of life, I feel, selfishly I admit, that I now deserve some “me” time. Realistically though that doesn’t always happen even when our nests empty out. If it isn’t our adult kids seeking our attention, then we have the demands of caring for our elderly parents. Most of my friends are pulled by their adult kids or their aging parents or both.  “Me” time can be very hard to come by.

So I consider myself lucky to be able – right now, this early spring, at my age (I just qualified for a senior lifetime pass to the U.S. National Park system, in case you were wondering) to have both the energy and the time to go on a Road Trip.

When my cell phone rings again, as it no doubt will, and given my son’s impeccable timing, he will likely call just as we are driving through the Mojave Desert in California, I will try to see it not as a burden.

Being needed is a gift, even if it sometimes doesn’t feel that way.

 

 

 

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Filed under Adult Kids, Empty Nest, Family, Female Friends, Parenting, Travel, Women, Young Adult Mental Health