Mom

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Maternal Ties by Noreen Braman

An excerpt from the book Treading Water available through www.noreensdigitaldreams.com 

As most single parents know, there comes a time when trying to be both mother and father falls short. At no time is this more evident than when the children become TEENAGERS — when puberty hits them like a semi on the interstate. Dads of daughters are suddenly faced with running the gauntlet of the Feminine Hygiene aisle of the supermarket. Mothers of sons suddenly are dealing with deep-voiced strangers who eat everything in sight. 

My son is at an especially distinct disadvantage, being child number three behind two sisters. Only three years span my oldest to youngest, meaning the puberty hormones in my house can be as thick as a Cape Cod fog. So, living in a house of women is especially trying for my son. It wasn’t immediately apparent to me that he would not like shaving with a cute pink razor, or bathing with gardenia shower gel. And standing around in Victoria’s Secret, while the three female members of his household giggle over bras is not his idea of a fun day at the mall. 

Now he at least has his own personal care products, and gets to shop in the more manly mall establishments. I’ve made a diligent effort to be responsive to the needs of his gender and give him his own time away from “the girls.” Recently, without traipsing through a single women’s clothing department, we enjoyed a shopping trip to buy him a suit for his graduation photographs. Together we discovered that men’s dress clothes come in strange size combinations and apparently, it is very important to know how big your neck is and how long your arms are. To further complicate things, one cannot even try on a man’s shirt to see if you have guessed properly, as they are all packed up in unbreakable plastic like Tylenol in the drugstore. 

When finally, the suit, shirt, tie and shoes came home, my son immediately went to his room, to try on the ensemble. My eyes filled with tears of pride when he stepped out of his room, looking so much like a grown man. Except, the suit pants were dragging on the floor and the tie was hanging limply by his side. 

Folding, pinning and begging an older sister to utilize her sewing skills took care of the pants. By that time it was 10 PM, on the night before the photographs. As my son tried on the suit for the second time, I said to him “lets see the full effect, tie the tie.” 

“I can’t tie a tie,” he answered. “You tie it.” Ah, the faith of a child who thinks his parent can do anything. There was no way I could tie that tie. “Ask one of your teachers in school tomorrow,” I suggested. 

The expression of horror on my son’s face made me realize that this was another puberty/teenager/manliness issue. Asking a teacher for anything so personal was out of the question. So we tried to tie the tie ourselves. 

Rule #1 for tying someone’s tie – the gentleman cannot have a ticklish neck. Every time I even touched my son’s neck he collapsed into uncontrollable laughter. 

Rule #2 – Tying a tie is not the same as tying a hangman’s noose. At one point, this knot was so tight I though I would have to call the fire department to extricate my son from its murderous grip. Also, a square knot is suitable for a sailor, not a high school senior, and take my advice, don’t even mention tying a bow. 

Rule #3 – It is just about impossible to tie a tie that is around a neck other than your own.

As each attempt by me failed miserably, I was reminded of a story told to me by a good friend. Having grown up in a third generation family of funeral directors, leaning how to tie a tie was a skill he acquired at a young age. However, after injuring his hand, my friend was unable to tie his own tie, and he went to his father for help. After all, here was a man who had been tying his own tie for decades, as well as the ties of countless deceased gentlemen. Gentlemen who were reclined in eternal peace. There was only one way he could tie his son’s tie. “Lie down,” he said. 

Well, that didn’t work for me, and just about when we were resigned to a tie-less photograph, the cartoon light bulb over my head lit up. I rushed over to the computer and signed on to the net. 

“I can’t believe you are going online now!” moaned my son. But he didn’t realize what I was doing. After all, you can find out how to build bombs, buy drugs without prescriptions, spy on your neighbors and enlarge certain parts of your body online – why not how to tie a tie! 

Sure enough, we found a guide, complete with pictures. It was still impossible for me to do it, but eventually, after several attempts and a lot of head twisting, my son was able to successfully knot the offending piece of cloth around his neck. We celebrated like baseball players who just clinched the pennant. 

And just to be safe, my son slipped the tie over his head, and hung it — still knotted — over the hanger. Part of becoming a man is knowing when not to tempt fate.

Noreen Braman  – Creativity On Call,  American Institute of Graphic Artists (AIGA)Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH), Certified Laughter Yoga Leader

Noreen’s Digital Dreams

Living on the Smile Side of Life in Jamesburg, New Jersey

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A Tribute To My Mother-In-Law by Barbara Hammond

I want to write about my mother-in-law today… so I will.

She was the kind of woman who spelled D A R N in front of my kids until they were in their teens but then completely shocked me with the unexpected story of how she learned what f*ck meant.

After she and my father-in-law had been married for a while she mentioned to him that she thought it was an Italian word because only the Italian kids in her neighborhood wrote it on the sidewalk. He promptly set her straight

This is the perfect day to pay tribute to my mother-in-law. It has been twenty-two years since she left this earth way too soon. I miss her all the time, but especially during big family events that I know she would have loved.

When our oldest son got married fourteen years ago I missed her more than I could have ever imagined. She would have adored his wife, Marcie. Our youngest son’s beautiful wedding at his bride’s family farm in Virginia would have truly wowed her.

When our first grandson was born I thought about Mom constantly. She was such a wonderful grandmother… I couldn’t possibly live up to her standard, could I?

She would have laughed, as we do, about only having boys in our family. But when the first great-granddaughter, Caylee, was born last year I know Mom would have been over the top with joy for my sister-in-law and her family!

Well Mom, your fourth great-grandchild, third boy, is on his way at this very moment. We are all awaiting the call welcoming Owen into our family. You would be so proud! I know you would love Greg’s wife, Marsha, as much as we do.

I had a very tumultuous and difficult relationship with my own mother, which I think deepened the bond I had with my mother-in-law. She was the kind of mother I’d always dreamed of having.

She personified ‘Home Maker’ and disliked being called a housewife, thank you very much. She taught me so much about running a household. Things I’d never learned in the environment I grew up in, like how to set a proper table, the importance of being a woman first which makes you a better wife and mother.

She told me, “You raise your children for someone else, so keep the fires burning at home.” Great advice! If you keep that in perspective you won’t be suffering ‘empty nest syndrome’.

I know she is watching over us and celebrating along with us as we welcome the newest member of the family.

So, Mom, you are on my mind and in my heart very much today. I took your advice to heart. Thank you so much!  

xo

Barbara Hammond
 
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Don’t Worry! Its Just A Stage! by Noreen Braman

Noreen Braman

 

Like any parent, I can recite the dates and times of my child’s developmental milestones. Those famous firsts: first tooth, first steps, first words, all clearly remembered. Are they recalled so well because of instinctive pride? Hardly.

We remember them vividly because these events represent periods of parental relief. Parents of toddlers are like beginning water skiers, holding on for life as their child careens through all those celebrated “stages”.

We remember the Sleeping All Night milestone because it ends the Mixed Up Days and Nights Syndrome. Usually the infamous Teething Stage begins thereafter and each tooth is applauded for the few nights of unbroken sleep it brings.

First Steps are a thrill for parents, until we realize it heralds the Getting Into Everything phase, which arrives hand-in-hand with the Can’t Sit Still Stage.

During this time of constant motion, most children speak their first words and utter their first sentences. Fascination with the child’s speech dulls after spending days and weeks trying to comprehend and then translating for everyone else. Then, the baby talk clears and real conversations begin. If we are lucky enough to have them potty-trained by this time, we may think we see light at the end of the tunnel.

But there are more several more tricks up those innocent toddler sleeves. Parents of children in the “No” Stage know the meaning of exasperation. Following this is the equally trying “Why?” Stage. Reasonable people turn into screaming maniacs after spending a day with a “Why” child.

Somewhere around the time my oldest started school without a hint of the Won’t Do Homework phase and my youngest finally came out of the Terrible Twos, having thoroughly enjoyed his stint as dictator, I began to think that I could handle anything a preschooler threw at me. However, the middle child, in a brave effort to break out of the pack, invented a new stage, the “What If” Stage. Annemarie developed this infuriating game into a science.

For example, we were seated in a family restaurant, waiting and waiting for dinner. Annemarie wanted to know (as did we all) why it was taking so long. We explained several possibilities, but she wasn’t satisfied.

“I’m so hungry, I’m going to throw up!” she announced loudly. Hushing only encouraged her.

“What if I really did throw up in here?” she continued. We tried to pass over the question.

“What if someone just kept throwing up and couldn’t stop?”

Parties at nearby tables began to look uncomfortable. We whispered threats, but Annemarie had a whole restaurant of people to entertain.

“What if someone just walked by and threw up on my food? What if the waitress tried to clean it up and she started to throw up?”

The families around us put down their utensils and stared menacingly at us.

“What if I didn’t see them throw up in my plate and I ate it?”

After this remark the room was strangely silent. When I had the courage to look up, I saw the restaurant was empty. My oldest daughter was holding a napkin to her mouth and I began searching my pockets for the car keys.

“Where everybody go?” asked the baby.

For quite a time after that, when out to dinner with my children, curious strangers would ask about the bag over my daughter’s head.

I told them she’s just going through a stage.

 

Noreen Braman

 “Creativity On Call”

American Institute of Graphic Artists (AIGA)

Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH)

Certified Laughter Yoga Leader

Noreen’s Digital Dreams

Living on the Smile Side of Life in Jamesburg, New Jersey

 

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TURN THE CAR AROUND DOMINIC! by Lee Romano Sequeira

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lee Romano Sequeira
Twitter: @madnessmomandme
 

One of the things I most looked forward to (and some days despised at the same time) was our weekend family daytrips. Looking back, it seemed that we all—Mom, Dad, me and my cousin Tracy—were always jumping in the car to hit the best the New Jersey and Pennsylvania areas had to offer:  Turtleback Zoo, Space Farms, Roadside America (a vast indoor miniature village), Bertran’s Island Amusement Park (home of the most rickety old wooden roller coaster in the USA), The Land of Make Believe, Gingerbread Castle, The Snake & Reptile Farm, Jenny Jump Mountain, Jockey Hollow (a George Washington slept here type of park) or some other family type destination.  Places where the many happy normal families ventured to on the weekends but being Romano’s, we just didn’t “do” normal.

You may be thinking, why would a little girl despise all of these fun family places? Mom’s in the passenger seat. Driving to and from these events would be a total crapshoot. Would we go in? Would we turn around with me and my cousin Tracy in tears? Would Mom throw something out the window? OK, let me explain, here’s a typical scenario:  We leave the house with such anticipation of a family fun day ahead. Tracy and I are goofing around all happy and giggly in the back seat (unbuckled of course, as nobody buckled up in those days—we were all ready to be launched out of the car like a cold war nuclear bomb). Tracy and I would often play what we called “Cousin It”, which meant I’d flip my long hair over my face, put sunglasses on over my now hairy Cousin It face and wave my arms like a child maniac to the cars behind us. Our goal was to get the driver or passengers to wave back, offer up a peace sign or simply a smile. Tracy and I made it fun to ride in the car back then but that was usually only on the way there. 

When we arrived at our destination, brimming with excitement, there was still one caveat and our day’s fate was up to the tar—otherwise known as the parking lot. Yup, the freaking parking lot was our “fortune teller”.  If the lot was too crowded, Mom would say “Dom, let’s get out of here, this place is too crowded!” If the parking lot was empty, Mom would say, “Dom, nobody is here, let’s turn around and go home!”  If Dad put up an argument or disagreed—DRAMA TIME! Mom would take control of the situation her way, which meant throwing something—ANYTHING out of the car window. I’m not talking about a paper cup or trash, but I’m talking her wallet, her shoe or shoes (as if one wasn’t enough)—sometimes her whole handbag would go flying out the window if Mom was feeling extra dramatic that day! This antic of hers forced my poor dad to turn the car around, get out and get her f*-king shoe, wallet, purse, whatever it was, and proceed to head home speechless. After screaming “Nooooooooooo Dad!” and “Come on, Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!” begging Mom to stay, the car would soon be heading back to Dover, and Tracy and I would then begin making the nastiest faces at Mom and shooting her a violent finger (with both hands!) behind her back (from the back seat, she couldn’t see us of course). Sometimes, we’d first break down in tears at the thought of our totally ruined day—that just sucked. One thing you could count on was that Mom would get the finger whenever she turned her back to us for the remainder of THAT day!

Luckily, even with all of the turning around of the car, crying, kicking and screaming, our nutty little family still managed to see so many places over the years.  And yes, we usually had a really good time—I have plenty of photos to prove it—REALLY!

 

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Mourning Mom: This Can’t Be Real by Lee Romano Sequeira

 
 
 
 
 
 
Lee Romano Sequeira
twitter: @madnessmomandme
 
“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.”

 

Not to sound cliché but this is by far the hardest, most heart-wrenching post I have written so far. Honestly, if anything else in the next decade comes anywhere near this, immediately find me a stiff new straitjacket, so I can throw myself into a padded room — forever.
 

Ok, here comes the hard part, words I thought I would not have to write about for at least another decade: Mom is gone. My wonderful witty mom passed away in her sleep Thanksgiving morning. No warning, no illness, no clues, no nothing, no Mom. Mom is gone. Mom is gone. I have to repeat myself over and over, because I just cannot believe it’s real. I’m hoping my next post is about the coma I’ve been in for the past week or so — I’ll write about how when I awoke, Mom was there with one of her famous QVC jewelry trinkets for me to open, and a pot of her famous spaghetti sauce bubbling away on the stove, so we could all get home and enjoy a  nice Italian dinner in celebration of my new coma-free existence.

Yes, Mom is gone. My house is filled with condolence cards, flowers and such very touching notes from caring family and friends, but somehow it doesn’t seem real. It CAN’T be real. Mom was SO ALIVE, so funny, always ready with a wise-crack or words of wisdom. I loved her advice. She was one of my best friends in the whole world. I see the cards with her photo and a pretty poem, yet I’ll still dial her phone number and expect her to pick up.  I’ll want to call her about who was just told to f*ck off on Hell’s Kitchen, or who we think should have gotten fired on The Apprentice, or the new boots I bought, but then the cold harsh smack of reality hits me right in the face, telling me those days are over.

Mom and I would dish together, watch movies together, shop together, cook dinners (for my hubby and the furkids) together and every so often I’d mix up a couple of whiskey sours and Mom would share her humorous and wonderful stories which fill a small notebook of mine.

Loss of any kind is a real tough pill to swallow  and when you lose a mom and a best friend, you feel like your heart is literally ripping apart. With that said, I think I’ll mix up two whiskey sours, leaving one on the coffee table in Mom’s honor. I just hope I don’t water them down with all of my tears.

Love you & I’ll miss you forever Mom
xoxo
~ Your daughter
 
 

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Shanetria Y. Peterson: What It’s Like To Be A Mom -The Good And The Bad

 

 

 

 

Name: Shanetria Y. Peterson
Email: shanetriaypeterson@gmail.com

 

Being a mother has its share of rewards and is an experience I learn from each day. I am a single mother with an eight-year-old daughter and we are forever growing, trying to adjust to the changes that are occurring in each one of us. Every year, we each celebrate our birthdays and change and mature to adjust to a new age.

 
On April 4, 2003 I almost died while giving birth to my daughter. The experience was traumatic and I’ll never forget the horror of watching through blurred vision as doctors and nurses rushed in with machines, and coming to the stark reality that we were dying. I was slowly but surely succumbing to death’s beacon call, when I thought about the fact that my baby was inside of me and we were both dying. I cannot talk about that testimony without tears welling up in my eyes. It’s amazing to note that God pulled us through that ordeal. I shared the story recently with my daughter, who had no clue and I was surprised not to receive much of a reaction, but I’m sure as time goes by and she remembers that story, she will appreciate the miracle of just taking a breath.

 
The wonderful thing about being a mom is that my daughter and I have a great deal of time to spend together. I marvel at the fact that I get to share the precious moments of watching her grow. She has made her mommy proud; even in her school work. The cons of being a single mother are that it does get lonely sometimes. There are moments when I grow afraid that something will happen and I won’t be there for her or there to share one of our precious moments together, but that’s when my faith in God becomes the strongest. I know without a doubt everything that will happen or has happened has been carefully woven into the palms of his delicate hands and that we will be well taken care of, regardless.

I am blessed to say that my walk as a single mother didn’t end in a puddle of misery. I went back to college, I’m now an author, a gospel recording artist and an outreach minister. I’m looking to start a chapter of the Bridge of Hope Ministry for homeless single mothers and their children in my own area. I have God to thank for my daughter, even through the times when she is not so humble and cooperative, but when we have those moments, it’s amazing how we bounce back from them and love each other better than before. Each mother/daughter will have their tough moments but those who work through them and come out the other side with a stronger relationship are truly blessed. It’s so very easy in our world to take our loved ones for granted.

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My Mom by Ann Werner

 

 

 

Mom pictured: Mary Werner (1914-2007) with great grandson Hugo.

My mother was a first generation American, her parents having come to this country early in the twentieth century from Lithuania. They were dirt poor and what little they had was wiped out in the Great Depression.

 My mother, her brother and my grandparents lived in a two-room apartment in downtown Baltimore. Neither of my grandparents spoke English. My grandmother was illiterate and signed her name with an X. I don’t know about my grandfather. I never met him, as he died before I was born. With all of those disadvantages, there was no time for schooling. My mother had an eighth grade education. My uncle was sent off to the Jesuits after eighth grade and was educated to become a Jesuit Brother.
 
Although my mother wasn’t educated, she was an intelligent woman. She was also kind and always ready to help. I remember an Easter Sunday when my friend Donna walked over to meet me so we could walk to church together. She lived several blocks away and somehow, on the way over, her brand new Easter coat got caught on something and the pocket ripped away from the coat. Donna was hysterical, fearing her mother’s reaction. My mother took the situation firmly in hand. Before meeting my father, she had worked in a tailor’s shop—and there’s a funny story associated with that but I’ll save it for another time—so she knew just what to do. She got her sewing kit and found thread to match the beige coat and in no time flat, she repaired Donna’s coat perfectly. It was small but that was my mother. She did small things that made a big impact.
 
She and I didn’t always see eye to eye. What mother and daughter do? But I always knew I could go to her and she would tell me the truth. When I decided to leave Maryland and strike out for California and my ex-husband threw a fit and was angry that I would be taking our daughter across country with me, I went to her and asked if what I was planning was a mistake. My mother, who had no pioneering spirit whatsoever, looked me straight in the eye and said, “Ann, if you don’t go, you’ll always wonder what could have been. If you don’t like it, you can always come back.” Words of wisdom from a woman who would never have left her hometown but knew who I was and what I needed.
 
My mother passed away in 2007 and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her and remember what a wonderful mom she was and in so many ways, continues to be.
 
I miss her very much and I guess I always will.
 

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