Odd years

“2016 bit the big one so 2017 has to be better.”

I recited this mantra incessantly towards the end of 2016 and the beginning days of 2017. It gave me some hope with the impending new year that all it would take was a flip of the calendar page and *TA-DA,* everything is better. I even subjected Ri to the mantra when she cried to me about her uneventful New Year’s Eve (while viewing all of her friends partying on Snapchat). New Year’s Eve occurred in 2016 so it’s gonna be wrapped up in the horrible mess of a year. 

But here we are, two weeks into the new year, and I haven’t found any revived spirit or amazing promise. Did I flip the calendar page too quickly or with not enough force to clearly show 2016 we wanted it out?

Last week, the kids agreed, without any fighting, to walk to Stauf’s with me for lunch. I asked, and they agreed. No pleading, begging, bribing. It wasan exquisite moment. We braced the 2o degree weather and walked up to the coffee shop with playing cards in tow. We even lucked out and got our favorite bar table and stools. Ri talked about becoming a pediatrician while Mario talked about packing it up and heading to Hollywood or Miami. The conversation was delightful. 

So there, 2016, take that! 

I am an impatient person; I want to see immediate change, feel immediately more hopeful, witness immediate kindness in the world. 2017 has been my wake-up call. It ain’t gonna happen. 

Slow and steady may need to be my new mantra. The world ain’t gonna be fixed (or destroyed, hopefully) overnight. I just gotta keep plugging away at being there for my crew – the kids, family, friends – and taking on causes and acts of kindness as time allows.  

My girlfriend told me the other day that odd years end up being better for her than even years. Interesting – I never looked at years in that fashion. But as I thought about it, I was born in an odd year as was Jon, Ri and Mario. We moved into our new home in an odd year. We got Rocco in an odd year. So there you go. 2017 is gonna be better than 2016 if only because it’s an odd year… I will take that immediate assumption and run with it.

Eat Pray Love… and weeping

I watched the end of Eat Pray Love last night. I paid money to see it in the theatre and left after the first 45 minutes.  When I told my girlfriends that I left, they shook their heads at me.  “You missed Javier Bardem.  That is a shame.”

They were so right.

What a gorgeous creature he is and what a gentle, caring, HOT man he played in the movie.  In one scene, his 19-year-old son comes home from college for a few days and he weeps as his son heads back to school.  His emotion was so raw in the scene that I felt I was right there with him feeling the loss of Maria or Mario as they left for school.  He also falls madly in love with Julia Roberts, takes her shopping and brings her cures for hangover after a night of partying.  Do they get any better?! Actually, Jon pulled all 50 of my bobby pins out of my hair the night of our wedding when I drank a little too much out of pure exhilaration for the day so he ranks up there with Javier.   

Fast forward 15 years in their dorm rooms!

Back to Javier’s weepy departure with his son.  I wept for 15 minutes in my family room after I watched that scene.  I thought of Maria and Mario heading off to college, scared but also ready to be on their own, creating their own memories with friends, learning who they are, putting themselves to bed (that did quickly bring a smile to my face).  I try every day to teach them something new or bring a smile to their face or listen to their stories.  And every once in a while I wonder “does it even matter?”  Will Maria and Mario grow up to be better off because I read them one more book or I pushed aside my work projects to listen to them perform a song? Will they miss me or shun me when they head off to college?  Will they only call me when they need rent money or will they call me to talk about dating issues? 

Fast forward to Maria in her chair at college!

Yeah, all of those thoughts from a ten second scene of a dad kissing his son goodbye and weeping.  Truly, I must be PMS.  But, alas, I could (and often do) bog my mind down with 550 different questions and concerns about what my children will be like at the age 20: whether they will confide in me as they get older; whether they will feel a bit more secure and confident in this world because of Jon’s and my actions; whether they will charge into the world with a free mind.  One of the ways I try to stop myself from engaging in such a stress-filled activity is by closing my eyes and practicing gratitude for the opportunity I have been given to be with them at this time.  I appreciate the moment I put my work down and read Curious George instead.  I enjoy listening to Jingle Bells being sung off-key and misquoted rather than finishing the dishes.  I am thankful that I can head to the park and run around the swing set acting like a monster out to get them. 

Fast forward to Mario dancing in his dorm room!

No matter what occurs with them in the future, I know that I have given myself to Maria and Mario.  I have dived into the pool of motherhood and swam far underneath.  If they forget me when they are 20, then they forget me.  Eventually they will come back again.  And I will be there with wide open arms.  Because that is part of parenting.  Ups and downs, great times and horrible ones.  You have to be willing to let yourself dive into the water with the risk of sinking for a while.  It is only when you go far underneath that you see all the wonders of it  too.  And the wonders are too awesome to miss.