BY JENNY B
We had similar drop-off times at our daycare. You were the mom who always had cool sunglasses and an actual hair style. Our kids were inseparable in their 2-year-old classroom. They would greet each other with palpable excitement and the biggest hugs. The daycare teachers told us the girls loved each other so much that they had to tell them to hug or pat on the back instead of exchanging kisses while they played. They chose each other, and it was the purest form of baby love.
We don’t have the same social circles, and I only ever ran into you once in the grocery store. Our kids started climbing out of their seats in the shopping carts to get to one another, and we laughed. They had recognized each other before we had noticed ourselves. Being barely 2-year-olds, they didn’t talk much, and didn’t need to to be thick as thieves. I showed you this photo and a short video from the Valentine’s day party. In the video, their little eyebrows raise and they gleefully charge toward each other, swinging around with abandon on the school gym dance floor. In another short clip, they are wiggling and shaking, like a small modern dance act to the song, “Shake it off.” They were completely unrehearsed and yet so in synch. I thought about asking for your phone number, so I could send you the pics from the school party. But, you looked tired and mentioned that you had some good ones, too. So, I let the moment pass.
I was just getting to the point in my own motherhood journey that it felt like things were getting easier. I resolved that the next time I saw you I would suggest that we have a playdate/meet-up outside of the daycare. I had just found a discount on passes to the Children’s Museum.
When COVID-19 precautions temporarily closed the daycare in March, I was overwhelmed trying to balance multiple responsibilities. In the blur of thoughts about the well-being of family and friends, I wondered how your household was. It’s one of those things never to assume and to wait until you’re told, but I thought I had noticed that you may be pregnant.
When the daycare reopened at limited capacity, you didn’t return. Weeks later you and several other families have not returned. I’ve thought about asking the school director to share our family’s contact information with you. What is the protocol for this? I haven’t been sure what to say to my daughter or what I would say to you, now.
Logistically, we won’t be able to hang out at the Children’s Museum, any time soon. And, 2-year-olds aren’t great on video calls. If you are dealing with extra stresses from a job loss or related to health/pregnancy, I don’t want to burden you. I guess I just want to know if you are doing ok. I wanted to have other ‘mom friends’ and know that I am doing ok. It feels like the tectonic plates beneath our feet have shifted and that whatever I was going to try to talk about with you during a meet up in March would be so different now.
My daughter used to wake up sometimes in the morning talking about how she had to get dressed to go see Harper. Sometimes, trying to get her to go to bed, we’d name all her cousins, one-by-one, “Jacob is sleeping in his bed. Tyler is sleeping in his bed…” And, she’d contribute to the list, “And, Harper is sleeping in her bed.” I think the whole Covid-19 Stay At Home timeframe was so strange and abrupt, at such a young age for her, that she didn’t ask questions about it. Or, maybe little kids are just so used to sweeping changes and the end of eras, because they are growing so quickly. To me, it feels like that routine and the mention of Harper’s name in our house just dropped soundlessly off a cliff. I was almost afraid to broach the topic with her, in case it upset her to remember that she hadn’t seen Harper, or that I didn’t have the answers.
With kids starting back at school this week, I was reflecting on all the new beginnings and missed connections in some way. My daughter talks a lot more, now. I asked her who she played with at school, and she was naming the children. I paused and then decided to open the subject, “Did you play with Harper?” She looked at me puzzled, like I missed the memo, and said, “No, she went home,” in a way that I knew she must have been asking her teachers and learned that response weeks ago.
I hope that you are well. I hope that you are out there having a healthy second baby, if that is the path you were on. My daughter will be turning 3, soon. Maybe we can find a way to have the girls celebrate, together. I heard Taylor Swift dropped a new album in July…
Stuck, Stagnant, Or Frozen?
BY DIANE KERTH
Your finances are being challenged. Your boss is micro-managing. Maybe you don’t like your job. Maybe you don’t have a job. Your health is always of concern. Your family is adding to your stress and the world constantly has something happening. It’s easy to get in the mode of ‘everything is bad, my life stinks, and it feels like it won’t be getting better anytime soon’ as a way of LIVING. (Is that living??)
I have heard many people over the years say that they are OPEN to coaching, advice or guidance but the truth of the matter is there are times people DON’T really want to hear anything constructive from someone else. Yes, I do get it. Life is hard and sometimes people just want to wallow, be sad or feel angry because they think, “No one else really understands what I’m going through or how hard my life is!”
We have all been there at one time and it’s hard to go through things that we didn’t choose to have happen to us, or sometimes we are living through choices we did make and now realize was a bad choice. Change of any sort can be hard! The difference with many successful people is how long they stay in that mode of wallow or even realize that they ARE wallowing and soaking in the misery. It’s unproductive and will make life worse the longer they stay there.
We need to stand up on the inside, shake off the negativity and DO something to move forward. We really need to FIGHT to MOVE forward.
“You don't lose if you get knocked down; you lose if you stay down”. ~Muhammad Ali
So, what’s a solution?
Start asking yourself, What CAN I do?
Stop focusing on what you don’t have any control over. Focus on what you do have control over.
Here are some examples of what I have heard over the last 25 years that do NOT move you forward:
From now on ask yourself these 4 magic words:
What CAN I do?
I can clean my car.
I can call a friend. Ask about their lives. Listen to them and say nothing about my own problems. (Doing for others is very healthy)
I can take a walk.
I can drink more water.
I can research something online that I have always wanted to do.
I can ask someone for help! (This IS doing something and often the hardest thing to do.)
It’s the MINDSET we all need to strive for, there are ALWAYS things we CAN do.
Treat this as an experiment for the next 7 days. Keep asking yourself at any moment you feel stuck, “What CAN I do?” and see how your life changes.
BY MARYBETH GRONEK
With most things still closed and social distancing orders in place, I would like to say I’m spending all my extra time on fruitful and edifying pursuits, like reading, scrapbooking, and deep cleaning my apartment.
In reality, the majority of my time has been consumed by take-out and TV. And watching the dramatic performance that is 2020 unfold in all it’s Shakespearean glory.
Please tell me I’m not alone in this.
The silver lining of this couch-potato, sedentary existence has been the absence of a few extra pounds around the waist (what some have wittily monikered “the COVID-15”). Ironically, I’ve actually lost weight due to my *accidental* intermittent fasting. All the hours blur together, and I get to 2pm realizing I haven’t eaten yet. I’m sure I’m not alone in this either.
Watching TV during quarantine feels a lot like reading Harry Potter in the 2000s or the Hunger Games/Divergent in the 2010s. These fantasy and dystopian novels allowed us to transport to a place totally foreign from real life. And in so doing we could relax into something that was so ‘other,’ so not like what we were experiencing. It provided respite. And a common experience that we all could, for the most part, get behind.
In such polarizing times as these, my time in front of the TV has, shockingly, had a grounding effect. It’s provided characters and storylines that have inspired me, made me laugh, and most importantly made me feel like a human again. Which, in a mask-filled, glove-filled, six-foot-distance-filled society, is a welcome refreshment.
Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to the five most important fictitious characters in my life right now.
Janeway is Captain and lead actress in Star Trek Voyager. Assertive, driven, feminine. She is the perfect example of a leader. She goes head-to-head with the war-lusty Kazon. She evades the Vidiians and their unconscionable organ-grafting racket. She crosses the Nekrit Expanse without precedent or regret. She does the unthinkable in negotiating with the Borg to ensure her crew’s safety. Oh, and she has terrific hair. #Bungoals
Let’s talk about her crew. She brings together Maquis and Federation crewmates — both with distinct organizing and leadership styles — to operate as a cohesive and unified force under her command. She treats each crew member with decency and dignity. She speaks her mind when people miss the mark, and offers praise when it is well-deserved. She’s tough and kind. Her crew adores her and respects her, a highly-coveted combination for any impactful leader with a long view of history.
I find myself admiring her interpersonal dynamics, her directness, her leadership style, and her compassion. I find myself using Janeway phrases like ‘Acknolwedged!’ and ‘I’ll be in my ready room’ (the former at work, the latter with my boyfriend). I find myself thinking if I could be more like her, there’s not a problem I wouldn’t be able to solve or a dangerous scrape I wouldn’t emerge from with grace. I find myself wondering what my relationships would be like if I gave more second chances the way Janeway did to Tom Paris and B’elanna and Seven of Nine. I find myself thinking if I could navigate the many seasons of my life the way Janeway navigates a starship, I’d be more than alright.
He’s the stuff of legends. L.A. Defense attorney. Suit donner and bullshit slayer. There’s not a hopeless, yet justified, cause he’d turn down. He defends the innocent client with bad optics, you know, the person found standing over the dead body holding the murder weapon but actually didn’t do it. A bulwark for truth, justice, and the American way.
He finds a proper motive the way a stoned teenager finds a Taco Burrito King — quickly and with singular devotion.
And no one says “Incompetent. Irrelevant. And immaterial” quite like he does.
Cinematically, the show is the perfect blend of suspense and predictability.
The show — boasting one of the longest syndication runs in TV history — is a history-buff’s dream. Set in 1932 Los Angeles, it was the first courtroom drama to hit television, as well as the first hour-long program that wasn’t a Western. Courtroom shows are so ubiquitous nowadays, so it’s hard to imagine being the first show of its kind pioneering that trail.
But Perry Mason was more than an archetype. His stoic tenacity for justice inspired many now-notable attorneys and justices, like Sonia Sotomayor, to pursue litigation as a career.
Yes, I am re-watching this late 90s show about a teenage witch, her two crazy aunts and their talking cat. No, I am not embarrassed to admit it. It’s been the guilty pleasure that I cannot get enough of.
I didn’t watch this show when it first came out. I was so bookish my teenager years that I barely came near a TV (how do you work this remote, anyways?) I first watched the show on Amazon Prime during grad school and I was hooked.
Sabrina is the high school student I wanted to be — confident but not popular. She’s quirky & fully embraces her eccentricities. That confidence gets her the dreamy boyfriend and an overall fun, rich life.
The first episode is Sabrina’s 16th birthday when she finds out she’s part-witch. Throughout the show, her aunt Hilda and Zelda, as well as the former-dictator-turned-cat Salem, help Sabrina through the process of maturing in her powers.
I like Sabrina the Teenage Witch the way I like Jane Eyre and To Kill A Mockingbird — it’s a Bildungsroman, aka ‘coming of age’ story. I love watching Sabrina mess up and learn from her mistakes. I love seeing the encouragement she gets from her family as she moves from adolescence to adulthood. And honestly, this go around, I’m taking notes. If I’m ever blessed enough to have children, I’d want to raise them the same way. Not with a talking cat, obviously, but with a family culture that encourages exploration, delivers guidance with charming candor, and makes space for grace.
The Victorian house and the magical powers would be an added plus. 😉
Andy Griffith is the dopest, most honest and upstanding sheriff that ever did grace the big screen. Son to Aunt Bee, father to Opie, and mentor to Deputy Fife, Andy is the *glue* that holds Mayberry together. And his southern drawl is somethin’ charming.
More laid back than a recliner, his easy-going, genteel attitude gets delinquents to change their ways & earns him the respect of everyone in the town. He’s Opie’s dad. He’s Mayberry’s dad. And, if you’re anything like me, you leave each episode kind of wanting him to be yours too.
If you’ve been reading this and wondering to yourself, How geriatric! Does she even watch anything from a more recent decade? Alas! You are wrong. Well, partly wrong. I do watch a lot of MeTV, who, judging by their preponderance of incontinence and life insurance commercials, is targeting an audience above seventy. So yes, I’m a bit of an old soul. But I do watch TV from this decade. I watched Fuller House (and loved it). I watched Once Upon a Time (and rewatched it). I watched Tiger King (and couldn’t quite settle on how I felt about it. Horrified? Enthralled? Is there really one word to summarize the vast array of emotions accompanying that show?)
Lately, though, I’ve been watching Sweet Magnolias on Netflix. The story of three women from a small town who go into business together. Helen Decatur, one of those three woman, is my TV crush right now. She’s a fun, witty, and vivacious attorney who uses her charm to pretty much get anything she wants. While she’s tough, she’s got such a soft side. I think that’s why I like her so much. Her power hasn’t diminished her femininity one bit. She’s not afraid to cry or tease, and when she speaks her mind its not in a harsh way. Firm but kind.
She reminds me that I can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. And I don’t have to trade assertiveness in the process.
Added bonus: Heather Headley (the actress) and I used to go to the same church back in the 2010s and to see her career skyrocket has been nothing short of amazing.
I’ve learned 5,728 million things during quarantine.
My most favorite lesson?
Don’t be picky with your muse.
Inspiration comes from the oddest of places. Like fictional TV characters.
I try not to be too choosy.
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