Importance of Family

My mother always raised us to understand that family is the most important thing.   Whether it is your immediate/nuclear/birth family or your extended family…. they are important.

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My mother lived this.  As the baby of her nuclear family, she often said that she felt that she was an only child and often left out of things.  However, she was the sister that helped to take care of 3 of her 4 sisters when they were sick and/or near death.    She talks fondly of her nieces and nephews … some of which are closer in age to her than her siblings.


Even now, with her brain cells damaged and dementia in full swing, she often thinks of her family.  She regularly asks about her parents, or one of her sisters… or sister-in-law… she talks about her nieces and nephews with great regularity.  Yesterday,  Jerry Lee (Jake) was the topic of conversation.  Most of the time it is Katie Saintenoy or one of the Saintenoys.  She is especially fascinated with that family.   Now, please understand… she isn’t talking about them in a manner that makes sense or is even truthful… it is just that those names and people come to her mind and her mind makes up some story about them that she believes is real.  For example:  Jake was supposedly at the “senior center” and doing something with the old ladies there.  Katie is her most frequent family member in stories… she gets to do all kinds of things.  


HOWEVER…  while I think it is OK that she loves her extended family and thinks of them.  Hardly ever/never do her stories include her own children or grandchildren.  She doesn’t bring them to mind as easily as she does nieces/nephews that she rarely sees.  This makes me sad.   I wish that she talked about her grandchildren or her children.  It is almost like in her mind we do not exist… which is probably partly true since she often thinks she is still in school and lives in Akron.


I have generated a family tree, of sorts, that lists all her siblings and their spouses and their children.  I wrote DEAD across all the people that are… well… dead.   Today we had to reference this again… almost always when she looks at it she tells me:  “You are not dead.”  Which I confirm is a fact and remind her that my name doesn’t have DEAD written over it… and then I know that she thinks I’m her sister Dora.  While Aunt Dorie was a lovely aunt, we hardly ever spent time with them. I didn’t know her overly well and I know that I do not look like her.  They only thing we can figure is that when my mother was 10-12, Dorie would have been the only sibling still at home, so maybe she had to take care of her?  


I have tried to raise my children to understand that family is important too.  Sadly, that is harder and harder to do these days.  Sometimes family members don’t like to “play nice” and it is hard to be around them.  Sometimes you are not treated as important by family members, so it is hard to hold them up as important as well.

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In 30 years… when I am making up stories and incorporating family members, the only people I envision being in my stories are my own children (and hopefully grandchildren).  We hardly ever see any of our nieces and nephews and when we do, we just don’t have that close of a relationship with them.  Just the way times are these days, I suppose.   This makes me sad.  


Family is important.  It is the most important thing in your life.  Without your family, you are nothing.  Whether you are born into a family, adopted into a family, have chosen your own family from friends, or are in the process of making your own family, please remember that.  What names and faces do you want to be in your dementia stories when you are old?  Make those people important to you now.


Are you a Hugger?

So sorry about being gone.  I doubt that many of you really missed me… I’m not some fabulous blogger and have millions of followers.  I just share from my heart and hope that encourages someone else.


If you are on Facebook, then you probably know most of what my life has been consumed with for the last 11 months.    I will reflect on that in a couple weeks.


Here is my pondering for today… I may have touched on it in other blogs, but I couldn’t find it specifically, so I figured it was time to meditate on it.

To Hug or Not to Hug?

That is my question.

I am NOT a hugger… wasn’t raised that way…. have never been… makes me uncomfortable.  Though, I am trying in small baby steps to try to do a wee bit better with some friends.  It is hard for me.  Hugging, in my opinion, requires a level of trust, security, peace, and love for the other person.  It is a personal event.  You are in close contact with someone.  You need to feel safe and loved by them in order to want to be that close to someone.

So… what if others are huggers and can’t grasp that it makes you uncomfortable?  What do you do?

I have a friend who usually warns me… says something like:  “I know you aren’t a hugger but I’m going to hug you anyways.”  I am getting better at accepting hugs from her.  Because she has taken the time to know me and respect my level of comfort with hugs.

So… if the huggers can’t/won’t do that?  What do you do?

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Do you hug because it is expected of you?  I can’t do that.  It truly makes me very uncomfortable… especially with people that I don’t feel safe and loved by.


What do you do?


I step back.  I keep someone else or something else between us.  Yes, that is a bit awkward, but I’d rather that then the even worse feeling of being hugged.


I have even asked to not be hugged… and said something like:  “No thank you, I’m not comfortable with that.”  And I feel like I was judged for being rude.


I really do want to know.   What do you do?  I will NOT hug if I am not comfortable.  Hugging randomly is not how I was raised and it is not something I will start now.


I just wish that the people who constantly try to hug me (and my children) would understand that we are uncomfortable with hugging as a greeting/farewell and would respect us.  Not everyone is the same… not everyone has the same comfort level… we do not exist with the same comfort level as them… to force/encourage/expect us to do something outside of our comfort zone on a regular basis just sends the message to us that we are not loved and respected for who we are and what we need to feel safe and loved and comfortable.


AND… don’t get me started on the kissing…



Today’s Grief

I realize that I have not blogged in a very long time.  I realize that you don’t really want my raw thoughts and grief… you would rather have knit/crochet patterns… but today I just have some thoughts to get off my chest/head.  Sorry.


Today, while in the midst of the daily discussion/argument with my mother about who I am…   (Seriously, I wouldn’t argue with her if she NEVER knew who I was, it is only part of the time that she is confused about that.)

… today it hit me… like a ton of bricks.   Hurts even to start thinking about it again now.


All of my life I have tried to gain her approval.  This is something that all children do.  They want their parents to approve of what they do, they want their parents to be proud of them.  I have been trying for 50+ years to  make her proud of me.


Since the day I was born and was not supposed to be a girl, in fact I didn’t have a name for a couple days.  Since the day my brother was born and then the next brother… and the story we always heard how the first brother was the only wanted/planned for child… she may have been joking about it… but it still stings.  There is still a kernel of truth there.  She prefers boys…


Despite the fact that I was the “good” child and did everything I could to be the best I could be.  To follow the rules.  To behave appropriately.  I never felt it was enough.  I never felt that I made her proud.


Sure, there have been moments when she seemed pleased with what I had done.  Or with something my family was doing.  There may have even been times that she told others that she was proud of me (I don’t know that for a fact, though).   She never told me, nor with any regularity acted like it.


My mother is/was a very private person.  Emotions were not ever shared or expressed.  This is even worse now with her brain damage.  I can’t say that I ever saw her cry… not even when Dad died.  I can clearly recall her yelling at me and slapping my face many times during the teen years.  The only time I can recall her hugging me was when she was told to by a pastor friend when my #2 daughter was being loaded into a life-flight helicopter.   Touching and sharing of feelings is not something that she does.  It is not something that I do well either.  That is how I was raised, how was I to learn anything different?


Today, as I sat and looked at her as we ate supper on her porch… I realized that I so desperately want her approval.  I want her to be proud of me.  I want her to know who I am and love me.  I want her to thank me for taking care of her.  I want her to tell me that I am doing good.  I want her say that my daughters are wonderful young women.  I want her …


However, that will never happen now.  I no longer have a mother.  I have an elderly person that I take care of that happened to provide 1/2 of my DNA.    I wish that didn’t hurt so much.


Maybe this is why I always feel like I am still 12 inside.  I am desperate for someone to tell me that they are proud of me.


Yes… some of you will say that you are proud of me.  Yes… some of you will tell me that she is proud of me, she just cannot express it to me.  Sorry… as well meaning as those words are meant to be, they will NOT be helpful to me (so please refrain from doing so).

I am not sharing this to get “warm fuzzies” from everyone, I’m sharing this … because I just need to get it out.  I need for people to realize that I am real.  That life is terrible.  That some days I cannot cope.  That I really want my mommy to be proud of me and that will never happen.


I know that I do not verbally tell my daughters this same thing.  I have however shared it in written form either here or on Facebook.  Like my mother, I’m not good with verbally sharing things emotionally.  I am however, trying to be better at not hiding my emotions.


Daughter #1 – She makes me so very, very proud!  She is a responsible young adult, holding down a job as a nanny (and a super-duper wonderful one!!).  She is paying off her car and paying on her college loans.  She is my right hand woman in taking care of Grandma.  Without her, I don’t know what I would do.  She is so very talented… just like me… she can paint a wall, spackle the holes, sand the baseboards, build a fire, knit an afghan, cook a cheesecake, design a birthday cake, create crafts for young children, and so many more things!  Abigail is wonderful!  She is my favorite almost 24 year old daughter!


Daughter #2 – She makes me very proud!  She is becoming a responsible adult as well.  She is finishing up college and has an internship lined up for summer that will hopefully roll into a job after she graduates next year.  She has figured out her own housing for summer and is working on figuring out what she is doing next year at school.  She is a master camper/hiker.  She can out fire build an eagle scout, and make delicious campfire meals.  Elizabeth is wonderful!  She is my favorite 21 year old daughter!


Daughter #3 – She makes me very proud!  She is finishing up High School and has a plan in place for summer and college next year.  She has taken ownership of her Selective Mutism and is working through that.  She has filled out every scholarship application she possibly can in hopes of getting lots of $$ for college.  She has been a great help in getting the house organized and holding down the fort here while I am at Grandma’s.    Lydia is wonderful!  She is my favorite 18 year old daughter!


Daughter #4 – She makes me proud!  She is a very responsible teenager.  Still finding her way and making her mark on high school.  She is a faithful friend.  She is helpful to me when asked.  She is kind to Grandma and a joy to have around helping there.  She certainly is the perfect daughter to round out the family.  Esther is wonderful!  She is my favorite 15 year old daughter!


Please, girls, know how much I love you and how proud you make me!

SAHM – Stay at Home Mom

I read an article this afternoon that appalled me.  Maybe I’m reading it wrong. Maybe it was written tongue-in-check.  But, I think it really speaks to something that is wrong with society today, the lack of value for a mother and family.


Here is a link to the article, so you can read it:


Here is what I want to say in rebuttal (not that my thoughts and rebuttal matter to anyone)

The author claims these are truths.  I claim she is very, very wrong!

She says:  We feel lesser.

I say:  How can you feel lesser when your primary responsibility is raising and caring for your children?  If you feel “lesser”  then you have your priorities wrong.  You should feel “more-er”  because your task as a mom cannot be replicated.


She says:  We are jealous.

I say:  Who are you kidding?  Staying home in your jammies if you want, and not dealing with make up, heels, pantyhose, etc.  That is the benefit.  She claims you only look “important” when you are dressed up and going to work.  Sorry, you are THE MOST IMPORTANT person to that little one you are raising.  They don’t care how you look (or smell).


She says:  We eat boring lunches.

I say:  What constitutes a not boring lunch?  Spending $13 on a burger?  Why?  Your lunch date everyday is wonderful.  You get to teach them about nutrition, and manners, and sharing, and how to cook (if you want).  How much fun is that to mold and encourage a young mind?


She says:  We feel pressured to act really busy.

I say:  Some days you are really busy, some days your are not. If you are married to a wonderful spouse, they realize that.  Somedays you might be just playing Candy Crush on the computer, but that could be after a long bout of Candyland and a struggle to get little one down for a nap.  Other days, you will be picking up toys, doing dishes, etc.  Everything fluctuates.


She says:  We feel intermittently busy, lazy and lonely.

I say: OK, this might have a kernal of truth in it.  However, there are lots of outlets available to counteract the lonely.  Parent-child swim and gym classes… playgrounds… art classes… dance classes… walks in the park… walking the dog…you have to reach out and find those groups.


She says:  We count the hours until dinner.

I say:  I don’t understand that.  Does she mean we count the hours until our spouse comes home after working a full day to “take over?”  Does she mean we count the hours till they can be fed and sent to bed?  Really it seems this woman doesn’t like being with her children at all.


She says:  We wonder if we have made the right decision.

I say:  If you cannot see the wonder of raising your own children and instilling in them the values that you hold dear.  Being the one to take care of them and see all the firsts and rejoice with them.  To be the one wiping the tears and cleaning the puke.   There is no better decision.  If you doubt that decision, maybe you should have thought of that before you had children.  Sure, there will be days that the child(ren) get on your last nerve, but all-in-all, they are YOUR children.


She says:  We don’t put the laundry away either.

I say:  I kind of agree with that concept but not her reasoning.  She says that she doesn’t do it because if the kids are too lazy, then why should she pick up the slack.  HELLO!  You are the mom.  You are supposed to be teaching them and nurturing them.  They learned to not put it away from you, not the other way around.


She says:  We long for time alone in the car.

I say:  OK.  Sure.  But why the car?  If you feel you must entertain your children at all times, that is your problem.  I believe that children can and should be raised to be able to entertain themselves.  I don’t need to be their playmate at all times.  They should be able to sit and play with a toy on their own, find a book to read on their own, self entertain.


She says:  We don’t get bored.

I say:  I will agree with this one point.  Being a SAHM mom is NOT boring.  It is the hardest and yet most fulfilling role to have.  I realize that not everyone wants to be a SAHM.  I realize that not everything believes they can be a SAHM.  I am very grateful that I was able to do so.


OK.  My rant for the day is done.


Sorry I’ve been gone from this blog for so long.  Being a SAHD (stay-at-home-daughter) is harder than being a SAHM.  The challenges are similar, but toddlers learn and grow, senior citizens just get snarky and repeat the same thing day after day… you know like:  Groundhog Day or 50 First Dates.


Frequency of Fun?

It is pretty clear that if something isn’t fun, you try not to do it very often.  You only do it if you HAVE to… dentist:  every 6 months, Gynecologist:  once a year, Mammogram:  once a year, taxes:  once a year….


But what about if something is fun?  How often should you engage in that activity?

Once a quarter?fun

Once a month?

Once a week?

Twice a week?

Once a day?


It depends, doesn’t it.

Once a Quarter – this would probably be those things that cost a bit of money or extra time to do.  Like taking the Girl Scouts camping.  There is the cost of the campsite and then all the preparations and food.  Once a quarter is more than most troops do, but something I really like to do with my scouts.  We might not be able to this year due to their High School Schedules.


Once a Month– would this include things like movie night?  Dinners out?  Cards with friends?   Things that might require some money, but not a lot of planning time.  I can’t think of anything specific that we do once a month.


Once a Week – what would you do once a week if you could?  This could also be a meal out.  When we lived in Cambridge, we ate out every Saturday night at Brightons.  What good memories we have of that time.  That was the first restaurant for at least 2 of our babies.  What else might be once a week?   Maybe a hike or bike?  Maybe a visit to Grandma?  Writing on your blog?  What about a backyard campfire and quiet night under the stars?   These things probably cost very little, if anything, but are nice little respites during the week.


Twice a Week – what is so fun that you might want to up the frequency a bit?  What would you up the frequency of to do at least twice a week?  If you could, would you eat out twice a week?  Would you take the time to exercise – hike or bike – twice a week?  Would you call someone on the phone more regularly and visit with them?  Would you sit and read a book more frequently?   Twice a week isn’t much, but for some things, it would certainly be nice and would probably improve your overall wellbeing especially if it involved exercise or human interaction.


Once a Day – WOW!  Is there anything that you would love to do once a day??   Is there anything that you should do once a day?  Maybe those hikes?  Or reading?  Or visits?  Maybe a shower?


Is there something that you would like to do more frequently than you currently do?


If money is an obstacle… then you might just have to be happy with once a month or quarter.


What if it was entirely free?  What if it included human interaction?  What if it would make you feel good?  What if it would help your health?


What would you have to give up to increase the frequency?  Probably some of your own selfishness, is my guess.  If it involves others, you will have to think of them and work it out so you can connect with them at the appropriate times.  Won’t it be worth it??  Fun is good!  Free Fun is even better!  Free fun with someone you love and who loves you and it might improve your health is the best!!


What kinds of things do you do with regularity?

What kind of things would you like to increase in regularity?