Ardmore Returns

Me: Ardmore?

Ardmore: Yes?

Me: I’m scared.

Ardmore: We’ve already talked through this. The toilet seat will not cut you again.

Me: You don’t know that! But that’s not actually what I was talking about. I’m scared to go back to blogging. It’s been a long time, bordering on unacceptable.

Ardmore: Why haven’t you been blogging?

Me: I’ve been busy.

Ardmore: I’ve been busier.

Me: What? How can that be?

Ardmore: It takes a lot of maintenance work to retain a place in your head.

Me: Is that a slam?

Ardmore: No one uses “slam” any more.

Me: Did they ever?

Ardmore: Did you just slam yourself?

Me: Touché.

Ardmore: Hilary, don’t you think the best way to get back into blogging is just to begin?

Me: I was actually thinking the best way would be not starting.

Ardmore: I’m sorry. Was that a joke?

Me: You’re not my favorite person.

Ardmore: I’m not a person.

Me: No. You’re more like a friend.

Ardmore: Hilary, let’s not blur the person/secondary-personality line here.

Me: Fair enough, Ardy. Fair enough.

sunset palm tree

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Mother’s Day! Yay!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mommas out there!

But especially Happy Mother’s Day to my mommy.

I’ve blogged about my mom before for her birthday. I could blog about her for the rest of my life because she’s just that wonderful, but in order to get everyone to brunch, I’ll keep it relatively short.

My mom is a summer gal. (Though she’d say her favorite season is fall for the leaves.)

Every summer she always has a list a mile long of changes she wants to make on the house, gardens to plant, vacations to take, books to read, and, of course, spending most afternoons at the pool. Now, usually this doesn’t all get done. (Sorry, Mom.) However, an amazing amount of this list is accomplished because my mom is always going and always making time for the “most afternoons in the pool” part.

I was going to tell a story about me calling Mom daily from my high school teacher’s phone to apologize for being snippy on the way in, but I actually think that says more about me (though it was probably inherited from her).

Instead, I want to talk about two moms in stories I’ve read/seen lately.

I recently read The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I know. I’m a little behind. The prose in this book is incredible, and the characters are amazing as well. (Mom, you wouldn’t like it.)

The mother in the book is sad. She’s sad about her place in life. She’s sad to be a mom. Now, I know I’m talking about being a mom when I’m not one, so feel free to shove the screen away. But I am talking about this from the perspective of growing up with a mom who made me feel really, really wanted.

Now, to be fair to the mom in the book, she goes through unspeakable tragedy in her daughter’s death. (This comes out in the first ten pages.) But it becomes clear throughout that she didn’t want any of this mother business. I understand. Well, the best I can, I understand. Don’t all moms sometimes feel trapped? Feel inadequate? Feel like their kids took everything good from their lives?

(My mom is saying “no” and wondering where this is going. Me too, Mom.)

Anyway, I get that moms don’t always feel like supermoms. But the mother in that story leaves her family. And there was something missing there that I couldn’t figure out. Like, it asked a question, but it gave the “wrong” answer.

Then, yesterday, I saw Moms’ Night Out.

By myself.

At a matinee.

I was the odd singleton surrounded by moms’ groups.

Now, the movie was really cute and unabashedly Christian. (That’s kind of refreshing sometimes.) And there’s a mom in the film who feels very similar to the one in The Lovely Bones. The mom in the movie makes it clear that having kids was something she really wanted, but she’s just not happy.

The mom in Moms’ Night Out feels a similar sense of drowning, of never measuring up, of missing everything good in the chaos, and of making mistakes. A lot of them.

(I should say that I don’t think the film was without its issues, even with the concept. Could they make a Dads’ Night Out movie? Because dads don’t “babysit” their own children. They’re their children! Thank you to Mrs. Denning, Jill‘s Mom, for setting that straight.)

The mom in The Lovely Bones leaves. She decides she’s inadequate.

The mom in Moms’ Night Out decides that she’s been equipped. Every day might not be sunshine, but she’s doing the best she can, she’s loving her kids, and she’s spending her afternoons in the pool, figuratively.

Oh, I know you’re not supposed to compare moms. I don’t mean this in any malicious way. Both stories have their place. Also, the mom in The Lovely Bones went through A WHOLE LOT, and I don’t even begin to know how I would handle something like that.

But I do think that mother represents this question in culture of moms. Both of the moms in the stories ask the question of what do you do when things get rough. One mom leaves. The other stays.

I know my mom must have some of these feelings. It’s a mom thing, right? She would never tell us (or show us) that, but I think it’s normal for moms to feel like they’re screwing up their kids’ lives.

But it’s incredible thing when you get a mom who not only chooses to stay every day as the wrangler of four children, but who also chooses to have fun with it all too.

My mom is not perfect. (Sorry, Mom.) But like the movie said, “I don’t think the good Lord made a mistake in giving your kiddos the momma He did.”

She’s the perfect mom for me, and I can’t believe I’ve been so lucky to have her.

So, after some very convoluted thoughts on motherhood, which I am on the outside of, to all the moms (and especially mine), here is your honest Mother’s Day wish:

I know it’s not always easy. I know sometimes you feel like a failure. Or you feel like you’re kiddos are sucking every ounce of fun right out of you. Or your kids are truly sucking every ounce fun out of you.

But you are capable.

You are loved.

And doing the best you can means you’re the perfect mom for your kids. So breathe and get to the pool most afternoons, figuratively (and literally, when you can).

Or ocean. Ocean works, too.

Mother daughter look at ocean

Ch-Ch-Changes

 

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(Estelle Getty would like to thank Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue for their consideration.)

I don’t like change. Well, sort of.

“Let me explain. No. There is too much. Let me sum up.”

Two weeks ago today I finished the last class of my Master’s. The second year kids went out after, and as I looked out on the basket of chips, I realized I don’t want to move on from this. I don’t want to move on from this place, these people, and those chips.

I’ve had a really wonderful last year of grad school. The first was dramatically less wonderful. The chips were always wonderful.

Why did it all go by so fast? What’s going to happen next? How do they make those chips?

I resist almost all forms of change. It’s a bit of a habit.

A week before I left for college my mom said, “You know, you could stay here and go to [local school] for a couple of years.” It wasn’t an unreasonable thing to say. I was following her around the house for weeks, as I claimed to be storing up “bonding time” before I left for a the great big world of college (45 minutes away).

My first year of college was an epic disaster. I made approximately two friends. The way I bonded with said friends was over a game of Scene It? Twilight Edition. (For real.) I also ate peanut butter straight from the jar and watched five seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. When summer came, I was left to see that I had fallen very far from the bright girl who graduated from high school a year earlier. (That’s very dramatic. Let me be clear, that I was still a lovable nerd, but I was hidden under acne and sweatpants.)

The next year I tried really hard to make friends and to eat peanut butter from the jar only on special occassions. I even forced myself to say hello to all the people in my dorm. (Technically, that was my job as a RA.)

Forcing social interactions allowed me to meet good friends. It allowed me to fall in love with college. It wasn’t love at first sight, but sometimes that slow friendship kind of love can be more powerful. And then, I had to leave.

The move to Cali went slightly better than college. No enormous weight gains were had. No severe Grey’s Anatomy stupors were entered. I watched Vampire Diaries instead. (Concerned about my TV choices? Me too.)

And then California got better. It turns out it’s pretty easy to fall in love with 27 miles of coastal beauty, constant sunshine, and friends who share nachos.

Now it’s almost over, and I have to start over again.

I love that opportunity. Starting over means possibility and personal growth. It means finding new favorite bookstores and their forgotten corners. It means new challenges and a new furniture arrangement. Maybe this time I’ll invest in accent pillows! Maybe I’ll have an oven! Maybe I’ll get to park my car at the apartment!

Starting over also means patches of loneliness. It means not knowing where the closest Costco is (for hotdog purposes, obviously).

It means limiting the number of phone calls I make to my family per day.

It means forcing myself to interact with strangers in the desperate hope that some of them could be friends.

I don’t like that plan. I like the people I talk to. I like having conversations that are little shortbread cookies of pleasure in my day. I like laughing without people commenting on how my nose scrunches. (Friends don’t care about nose scrunching.)

It’s funny how sometimes we don’t get what we like. (Though, I would really, really like the throw pillows.)

I talked about being an RA earlier in this post. I can’t say that I was overcome with happiness when I got the position, but I am now overcome with gratitude for that position. It made college for me. It was nothing like the experience I would have imagined for myself. It wasn’t anything I wanted, but it was what I needed.

It’s funny how sometimes we get just what we need. (Throw pillows and good chips are a need. Right?)

I’m counting on that. I’m trusting that I’m going to be led exactly where I need to be. Sure, this next step might not be a step into perfect land. There might be some straight-from-the-jar nights, but maybe this time I’ll upgrade to cookie spread. Maybe this time I’ll binge on Mad Men. Maybe this time I’ll “have fun storming the castle.” Okay, that didn’t make a lot of sense, but I had to bring The Princess Bride back in somehow.