A Message in a Bottle

Have been co-leader on a (write the love letter to your teenage daughter) life coaching call for three Saturday mornings over three weeks. It’s been wonderful to stop and look around.

image
Char dancing at a dance concert at the end of year.

Sit for a minute on life’s journey to assess where you are and how far you’ve come.

Maybe like me, your June is a shifting kaleidoscope.

My son graduated from high school, got a job, wants to buy a car — all in less than a week.

image
Mom and Me and an Act of God.

My mother came and went, visiting from Chicago. We walked and talked. She offered unasked-for advice. She also offered unasked-for love. We picnicked in Riverside Park, walked the High Line, wandered in Central Park, took in a Broadway Show (“An Act of God with Jim Parsons).

One of my 15-year old daughters set off for 12 days of kayaking in Alaska last night.

The other daughter came home at 1 am last night, causing me to worry with a heart attack. (She was repentant. Blamed the West Side Highway traffic!)

Chris gathered some of his friends from First Grade for a reunion dinner party at our house last night. It was lovely. When I first met Chris, I was deeply attracted to his friends and the way he loved them. Funny, isn’t it? This is such a lovable quality — having nice friends. But Chris is slowing down a lot. Because of his Parkinson’s, he seems older or frailer than his friends.

image
We went to the Museum of Natural History. We went to see Nature’s Fury. And then, as usual, lay under the big blue whale. Meditation. Ah.

When? Why? How did we all grow older? Why did my kids grow up? I told them not to! I said Stay Little! They were the cutest little darlings. Does all this mean I am ageing too?

The life coaching call reminds me to embrace the memories; celebrate the moment; choose joy; stay true; stay present. We make mistakes; we make amends. We hang in there. We have a family motto, “Jones Kids never give up.”

In the midst of my busy family life, the life coaching call is a breath — a slowing down — to take it in. Celebrate this moment. We have so much. Gratitude wins. Love wins.

I jot down my thoughts and dreams and hopes for my family. I send them like messages in a bottle. Hope they reach the shore. Hope my daughters and son (husband, mother, extended family, friends) know I love them. Believe that love is enough.

PS Remember to join me at the Irish American Bar Association’s Bloomsday June 16th! Another busy week. But this one will be less family-centered and more friends, work, writing-centered. Thank God.

Am also getting psyched for my trip in July to Ireland with the Dublin Writers Retreat.

 

Advertisements

Boyhood

I saw this movie the other day and it unhinged me. The boy grows up too quickly. Right? That’s the reality around my house too.

One of my classmates said this movie changed her parenting. She no longer yells at her kids because she realizes that life goes by in a blink of an eye. And she is trying to savor her children while they are home.

The film was shot over 12 years with the same cast.

I was particularly moved by the mother’s plight, played by Patricia Arquette. She has to hustle so much to provide for the family. And yet, the kids idolize their father who only shows up occasionally. I relate. So many times I feel like a workhorse. In my quest to provide for the kids, emotionally and financially, I may miss out. I may not always make the best choices. I may not get all the fun.

My heart breaks that the sister, Lorelei Linklater, has to grow up. The most spirited child, she becomes a surly, monosyllabic teen. Ugh. I worry this will happen to my spirited children.

There are scenes of an alcoholic stepfather. As moviegoers, we want our preteens to rise up as heroes in their alcoholic families, defending one another or speaking out against injustice. But children cannot mount a mutiny over the tyranny of an alcoholic leader. Their helplessness’s heart-wrenching.

Families are going to be okay. Much as we worry, endlessly, about our kids’ possibly embarking on drunk driving or texting when driving or excessive Xbox use or getting pregnant. All that. There’s a message throughout the film of resilience. It’s going to be okay. Our family is good enough.

When I went into the movie theater, the ticket collector, an older gent, told me, “I love this movie. Everyone loves this movie.” I do, too.

I just wish boyhood would last.

Peter and the Starcatcher

When our daughters were little, they always wanted to hear a bedNIGHT story. Of course, they meant a bedTIME story but I dared not correct them. It was one of their charming childhood malapropisms. Chris and I would tell them stories until they entered the magic of their dreams.

(courtesy of Peter and the Starcatcher)
(courtesy of Peter and the Starcatcher)

And if you are like them — and like me and Chris — sometimes still, you want and need a good new bednight story, and so I suggest, little one, that you take yourself to see Peter and the Starcatcher. (Though for some reason I keep calling it Peter and the Dreamcatcher! A penchant for malapropisms may be genetic!)

Whatever you call it — Oh. So. Good.

I was bummed when it closed on Broadway. More than a few of my friends told me that I’d like it. But it’s not always easy for me to get to see everything I want in New York City. Though God knows, I try.

Once in a while, I get a reprieve. While it closed on Broadway in January, it reopened a few blocks away in at New World Stages with much of the same cast and in the same amazing production.

Score.

I don’t know how to summarize the show’s many themes — It is about how to grow up; how children are wiser than adults; how believing in one another is never wrong; how music and comedy make magic; how letting go is part of what you do when you love.

Children can fly (one of my darlings at the swimming hole in the Adirondacks).
Children can fly (one of my darlings at the swimming hole in the Adirondacks).

My favorite recurring theme was taught by the girl Molly. Here is her secret to good leadership: a leader looks out for her tribe. Molly taught this to the boy who became Peter. Molly, played by Nicole Lowrance, is the only girl in the show. She’s so good.

Molly has to be sister, friend, love interest, and, of course, mother to the orphan boys.

But she is not the kind of mother or leader who scolds needlessly, (although she does scold).

She is the kind of mother who finds magic in stories. She’s the kind of mother who soothes scared nerves by suggesting a running race. Molly’s a playful leader.

She knows that to save the day, a leader must:

  • be creative
  • be open-minded
  • be brave
  • be empathetic
  • be funny.

I found a new heroine and her name is Molly! Molly is the starcatcher.

The musical shows how theater is a collaborative art. And there are many times when the antics reminded me of the joy of improv comedy, but the show only looks seat-of-the-pants hilarious. The action is all orchestrated. (Brilliant brilliant directors Roger Rees and Alex Timbers! And my old chum Wayne Barker — brilliant, brilliant — did the music! Funny. Funny!)

It’s a physical show where the leads play doors and walls and mermen.

The words are witty and the physical shenanigans are hilarious. At one point I was laughing so hard I was crying. And then at another point, I noticed that Chris was weeping.

I think his tears came from the place of nostalgia for we miss the nights when our darlings were still little enough to climb on our laps and beg for one more bednight story.

Ah well. We can always take them to see this show. And even if you’re not in NYC, you can see it too, as it’s touring this year, starting in August 2013.

The show is at New World Stages, 340 West 50th.

Order tickets at: PeterandtheStarcatcher.com

Related Stories

Girls can be pirates too. Empowering girls.

Sandy’s post about taking her 7-year old son to Peter and the Starcatcher

Diane’s post and a backstage tour!

Thanks to CultureMomMedia.com for the tickets. All thoughts (and memories of bednight stories) are my own. 

Independence Day

I let Hayden, my 14 year old, drive around the gravel road by the country house. He sat tall and proud. He was focused. He handled the minivan around the sharp turn as elegantly as if he’d been driving race cars his whole life. Which in a way he has — all that time in video arcades and gaming devices prepared him well for the finer motor skills necessary to

This was the 4th of July sunset over the Hudson River from the Amtrak train coming back from the country.

motor the family van.

He can’t wait to drive.

On the 5-hour drive to the country, from the backseat, my son asked, “Is it fun to drive?”

I had to think about it. Accelerating is nice. Passing people is sweet. Feeling the breeze from the wide open window is cool. Blaring music is happening.

“Yes, it is,” I said. “Driving’s fun.”

The best part of driving is that you feel independent. While my tall son may believe he’s ready to drive today, the quarter mile loop by the Big House is as far as he will go. He may be ready but I’m not.

The Ephemera in My Purse

You used to find cookies in my purse, cheap, crumbly, little chocolate chip cookies wrapped in a paper napkin.  Always ready. I never was good at packing the hand gel cleanser or even Baby Wipes when the kids were babies.

But I was always good at having a little something sweet tucked in an inner pocket of my bag. I was always ready to plop a little sweet thing into one of my darlings’ gobs – if they got hungry, restless, noisy, whiney, needy. So imagine my surprise at the office yesterday when I reached into my purse to grab a tube of  lipstick, not to find a tasty cookie but to find a boy’s sport’s cup.

I remembered how it got there. Hayden was fingering it while we were waiting for dinner of burgers at the West Side Brewery on Monday night.

“Gimme that!” I snatched it out of his hands and shoved it into my purse.

This must be one of those undocumented Mother’s Rights of Passage, when the cookie is replaced with the kids’ sports paraphanelia. At least I could eat the cookies myself. At least the kids’ stuff in purse had a purpose for me too.

Now, it’s just a reminder that the kid has an 8 am game this weekend in Central Park. And that’s really not as sweet.