Saturday, November 11, 2006

Mother-Daughter Mayhem

Mother-Daughter Mayhem

Tomorrow is the Mother-Daughter Style Show and Luncheon. This is an annual event thrown by my daughters’ school. It is possibly responsible for more migraines, more tears, and more curse words being uttered than any other event held at the school.

The reason behind all this angst is that this event is a style show and members of the senior class are the models in the show. They throw in a child from each grade level, but don’t be fooled. This event is about the seniors and their mothers. The rest of the school is invited and they come out in droves, but they are there simply to watch the seniors be celebrated.

This year, my oldest daughter is a senior. So, we have been in the midst of all of this. Since one of my co-workers oversees the event, I have a slightly different perspective on the event than the other moms. Somewhat to my surprise this event has turned into a ‘Really Big Deal’ for us. So far we have come up with photos for the slide show celebrating the senior class and gone for fittings for the outfit my daughter will model. We have also finally gotten Sara contacts, much to her delight. I invited both Grandmothers and they will be attending with us tomorrow along with my sister-in-law (Carolyn) who will be driving my mother-in-law (aka GiGi) today. I took off work yesterday to fetch my mother from Rockport. This afternoon, after work, we have to go out and buy the right shoes (black, round-toe pumps) for Sara to wear with her outfit tomorrow. I am hoping that at some point in our expedition I will find something to wear that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, because I spent $360 on tickets for this event, plus an addition $25 for the dvd of the actual style show.

Once we complete our shopping expedition, we will be hustling back home to fix supper for all of our guests. Thankfully, Carolyn booked a hotel room for the two of them, so I don’t have to make up couches tonight.

Tomorrow morning we will get up extremely early as Sara has to report to the hotel ballroom at 7 am sharp, with freshly washed hair, manicured nails (in a shade called Merlot) and with foundation makeup on. She will be turned over to the hair stylists and make-up artists who will transform her into the vision that will appear on the runway. The rest of us will get there around 10:30. At some point in this event, Sara will take a solo turn on the runway while the MCs read something she has written about how she feels about me. With any luck, she came up with something other than her first choice, which was “She’s not completely insane.” While it’s true, it’s not exactly touch the heart material.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

We’re baaack…

The Democrats that is. The public sent the President a big message yesterday and put the Democrats back in control of the house. This morning my husband reported the news to me by telling me that Nancy Pelosi was now Speaker of the House. I responded by saying “Good. It’s about damn time we had a woman in that position.” I’m not sure he was happy with my response. But he’s delusional if he thinks that I’m going to suddenly start agreeing with him about politics. It’s kind of like the whole sports thing. He’s obsessed with sports. And for some reason, he keeps thinking that if he keeps asking me to watch football games or talks about it to me, then I’ll suddenly become a sports fan. And that’s just not going to happen.

But enough about Larry’s delusions: Back to the election results. While my personal fave candidate for governor (Kinky Friedmann) didn’t win, Tom DeLay’s place in congress has been taken over by a Democrat. But the result that really made my heart sing was the race for the House seat between Martha Wong and Ellen Cohen. Martha (a Republican and the incumbent) had been running some really hideous ads. Or I should say that the Republicans ran some really hideous ads on behalf of Martha’s campaign. They were full of the sort of fear-inducing crap that the Republican party resorts to on occasion. Stuff like “Ellen Cohen isn’t strong enough for Texas. She’s soft on terrorists.” And the viewer is supposed to deduce from these ads that Ms. Cohen is in favor of letting terrorists stream across the border; which will no doubt lead to gay marriage being made legal and the downfall of society as we know it.

Thankfully the voters in that race saw through the Republican fear factor ads and decided what really scared them were Martha and her buddies in the Republican Party. So Ellen Cohen won. I should mention here that Ms. Cohen’s ads (or at least the ones that I saw) did not stoop to the fear-inducing, accusation flinging, quote out of context tactics that the Republicans used. They simply stated her views. Good for you Ms. Cohen and congratulations on your election. Now go do a good job.

And that goes for the rest of the people who were elected yesterday as well. Go work your butts off for us. Cause if you don’t, we will turn on you.*
* A side note: When I finally made it to the polls yesterday evening, sometime around 6:45 pm, the line to vote was extremely long. I waited in line for at least an hour to vote. I was standing next to one of my neighbors and a friend of his came up after she had voted and commented that this was the biggest turnout for an election that she had seen in a long time. Another friend of mine got to her polling place around 5 pm. When she arrived, there were only 8 people in line ahead of her. By the time she left fifteen minutes later, the line was out the door.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Return of Mourning

This morning, I found myself fighting back tears. One of the parents of a Lower School student died this morning and I found myself weeping not just for the child’s loss, but for my own. This sort of thing hits too close to home for me. I was the same age as this child when my father died. One would think that at the age of 50, I would have reached some closure about my father’s death. But it still sneaks up on me and hits me hard from time to time. The clearest memory I have of that time is my father’s death. I can’t remember most of my classmates and for the most part I don’t remember much of anything about the first two years of school. What I do remember vividly is my father’s death: Hearing the noise he made when he had the heart attack; kneeling alongside my parents’ bed as the priest, illuminated by the bedside lamp, gave my father the last rites; going into the kitchen the next morning to tell my mother not to worry, that Daddy would wake up only to be gently told that he would not.

But it will be all right again. I have learned to let myself cry when these memories return and the pain strikes fresh in my heart. And I am, in some way thankful, because it means I still love my father and miss his presence in my life.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Goodbye Ann

Back on Election Day 1994, I sat in my car outside my polling place in Houston and cried. I had had one of those impossibly busy days when everything seemed to work against me. I hadn’t been able to go and vote before work because I had three children to get to school and then my to-do list at work was not only huge, but being added to every 10 minutes. So, I decided I’d just hit the polls after work. But I didn’t get out of work until late which meant a frantic dash to pick up my girls and then I had to track down my son, who was at a friend’s house working on a group project for school. By the time I found the classmate’s house, it was dangerously close to 7 pm and of course, my son still had to gather his gear. With the kids in the car and rain coming down, I made a frantic dash to my precinct polling place. But it was 2 minutes after 7:00 when I finally arrived and I was too late. So, I wept.

Given the outcome of that night, chances are my one vote probably wouldn’t have helped. But I still feel that I let Ann and my fellow Texans down. My feelings that night weren’t helped by the comment made by Michael’s classmate’s mom when I explained to her I couldn’t stay and talk as I was afraid I’d be too late to cast my vote for Ann. The mom, a rather rabid Republican, expressed her hope that I would indeed be too late to vote. (This is one of the reasons I will never convert to being a Republican. Too many of the ones I know wallow in meanness and intolerance.)

So, Ann, I’m sorry. I let you down and the end result is a president who measures patriotism, not by actual love of and support of this country, but love of and support of himself. He has confused respect for the office with respect for him. You never made that mistake.

I wish you could have had that second term as governor. And I wish that you were still with us, talking sense and taking the air out of those who believe just because someone voted for them must mean they are set above the rest of us. You always knew that wasn’t the case. You always knew we voted for you because you were one of us.

Friday, August 18, 2006

I’m not ready to wear beige.

My son headed back to college last weekend for what will (hopefully) be his last year. Over the summer, he traveled three different weekends to either see his girlfriend or attend various weddings of friends. After the first weekend jaunt to see the girlfriend, he came home, sat me down and said, “I’m sure.”

I’d like to be able to say I have no idea what he’s sure about, but that would be a lie. He’s sure about his girlfriend. He’s sure that she is the one for him. Sitting here at the age of 50, I remember the feeling of knowing the person sitting next to you on the couch was the one for life. The other thing I know at the age of 50 is how the same person can be sitting on the couch next to you and you question how much judgment you really had at the age of 22.

So my son is sure: Which leaves me looking at having to buy the dreaded beige dress in a few years time. And I am not ready to wear beige or any other color or style of dress which will identify me as the mother of the groom. This feeling has nothing to do with whether I like the girlfriend (I do like her very much) or any questions about my son’s being ready to take a step like this in the next couple of years. It has everything to do with the fact that I am not ready to be a woman of a certain age. I am not ready to be a mother-in-law. I am not ready to have a married child.

But now it will not be up to me to determine when I acquire my latest identity. Over the years I’ve acquired a lot of different labels which defined me. I’ve been a college student, a bride, a working woman, a mom, a working mom, a business owner, and so on. But with all of these identities, it was my decision to undertake a new persona. With these latest personas I am facing, it is not up to me to choose when I will transform into a mother-in-law or a grandmother. It will be at a time of my children’s choosing. And to fight it or complain seems to me to be churlish and selfish. They are my children. If I have done my job right, they will make the right decisions. And part of doing my job right is to free them to make these decisions.

But deep down inside, I am not ready to be anyone but who I am right now.

Friday, August 04, 2006

So this is summer

I am sitting at my desk at work. It is 7 pm on a Friday night and this is just the beginning of a very long weekend.

I work at a private school and I am responsible for all of the publications and print materials. Since my background is in art direction and graphic design, we don’t farm this work out. I do it all in-house. And it’s a good thing for me because I would much rather design an invitation or brochure than write a press release (another part of my job). But right now I feel totally overloaded. I’m currently in the middle of designing the charts for our annual report. By the end of August, I will have produced two invitations, two brochures, part of our phone directory, our 05-06 annual report, 4 PowerPoint presentations of varying lengths, and various other miscellaneous items, such as letterhead, envelopes, and prayer cards. Throw in all the other tasks that no one but me can seem to do, such as scan items for people (I’m the only one in the administrative wing with a scanner), updating things on the website, updating and proofing the email address entries in our listserv and helping out with at least 3 events. Oh, and taking photographs at all of these events and during the first days of school.

Tonight I’m focusing on the annual report, which has been driving me insane. The first full layout is due next Tuesday at noon to my boss. And it’s been an upward struggle. I am trying to make it match the look of the Annual Fund brochure, which was done by an outside agency last year. One would think that going by an already established look would make my job easier. But that’s not the case. The information contained in the brochure is vastly different from the information that is going into this annual report. So, it’s been a struggle. Today I finally got the other projects on my desk to a point where I could concentrate on the annual report and at some point this afternoon I developed a template for the publication that works. Now I just need to layout and format over 40 pages of copy.

In the next week or so, the parents will start to appear at the school again, smiling and asking how my summer was, innocently assuming that since I work at a school, I had a break. They have no idea that I spent more than a few evenings and weekends working at my desk wishing I was with my family and my friends enjoying the summer. But for now, I've got charts to make into elegant bits of artwork.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Further signs of the deterioration of the universe

Whatever happened to common sense? I read an article today on about people who insist on taking their beloved dogs everywhere they go, including to posh parties at their bosses homes and gallery openings.

While we love our two dogs and consider Libby and Cosmo to be part of the family, we would never dream of taking them to public places or to any place where they might not be welcome. To do so is just asking for a disaster to happen. And despite what these misguided souls are thinking, they are not doing their pets any favors by hauling them with them everywhere they go. They are taking their animals into unfamiliar places and situations when the poor dog would probably rather be at home with his toys and water dish.

At our house, the policy is that our dogs are not allowed to ‘attend’ the parties and gatherings we have at our home, unless it is a small gathering and the guests are close friends of the family who are familiar with our dogs. This policy keeps our dogs and our guests safe.

As for taking our dogs with us to a party or any gathering to which our dogs were not specifically invited, we'd never even consider such a thing. Heck, I probably wouldn't even take them if they were invited. I liken the situation to when my children were small. The bane of my existence was the big family get-together. I would look forward so much to seeing all of my extended family, but the truth was that I spent most of my time at these events chasing after my toddlers. I love my children, but chasing after them for hours at a family function and making sure they didn’t get into mischief was not my idea of a good time. Unfortunately back then I didn’t have a choice since these family events were held in towns where I had no access to a babysitter and my mother would have killed me if I hadn’t shown up with the children. It’s literally a rite of passage in my family: the toddler-chasing stage. When my youngest child was finally old enough to not need constant supervision at family parties, I rejoiced. So I don’t understand these people who haul their dogs with them everywhere. When I go to a party or a restaurant or a movie, I want to be able to enjoy myself and my idea of an evening out is not hanging onto a leash or carrying around a little wriggling creature, no matter how cute and adorable.

Having said that, I will admit we do on occasion welcome other dogs to our home or rather our backyard, but only a select group of animals. We are extremely close to some of our neighbors, to the point where we refer to our group as a “commune” since we get together at least a couple of times a week and usually end up eating together. The commune’s canine population currently consists of a sheltie, a corgi mix puppy, two basset hounds, two smooth collies and a West Highland terrier. For our informal, impromptu get-togethers in the evenings and on weekends, all of these animals are welcome in our backyards to romp together. The dogs all get along and play well together. If a pet does become too rambunctious, the owner promptly removes it and takes it home without having to be asked, but that rarely happens. And while the commune policy is to welcome these pets, it’s also our policy to keep our dogs outside during such gatherings. If the event is being held primarily inside, then the dogs stay home. We also all realize our situation only works because from the moment each dog has joined each household, we’ve made it a point to introduce it to the other dogs in the neighborhood and become familiar with their canine neighbors. This would never work otherwise.

As I said, it’s all about common sense and doing what’s right for both your hosts and your pet. And quite honestly, anyone who thinks he’s doing his dog a favor by hauling her to a party or a public venue probably shouldn’t have been allowed to get a dog in the first place.