La-de-freaking da

‘Tis the season, right? 

Laughing thru the snow and merrily-merrily-merrily—PUHLEEZE. La-de-freaking-da and Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle is waaayyyy more like it. 

Today at the coffee pot I had this very conversation. A co-worker burst out,”I know this is supposed to be the happiest time of year but I am just so tired!”

The tree, presents, 3 weekends of guests and decorations…in a moment of brutal honesty she lamented that she knew she should be happy but she was too stressed to be happy. And that made it all worse-knowing that she was supposed to be happy yet she wasn’t. 

And there it was. Exactly what a lot of us were feeling but just couldn’t say aloud. Out of guilt? Out of denial? Out of shame? 

The happiest time of the year is just not reality for most of us. Either we, as mothers, have too little time, money and energy to live up to the Pinterest version of the holidays or the reality of the season never lived up to the expectations so we lived in a perpetual state of disappointment.  Or  the Ghost of Christmas past, present and future haunt us so badly that all we want to do was wake from the nightmare. 

That is way more realistic then the tv commercial and hallmark freaking Christmas movies that bombard every moment of the airways from November to January. Not everyone falls in love while holding hands in the snow. Not everyone gets kissed under the mistletoe (it’s a fungus for goodness sake!) or has a brand new Lexus clad with a bright red bow in the driveway. 

But we fight the good fight. We paste stepford wife smiles on our faces and go about the task of looking joyous and put together and gleeful. We decorate. We bake. We buy. We wrap. We tie bows and put up lights. We take part in ugly sweater contest. We put Christmas carols on the radio and plan events to celebrate the season. And we do all this without telling anyone that doing so takes all we have. We do so without even admitting to ourselves that the effort takes more then we have. Until a weak moment at a coffee pot one cold December morning.

Another woman joined us and admitted that for years she held onto traditions and visions of what Christmas was supposed to be. Then one year she realized she was the only one that cared about the homemade ornaments or all the trappings of the commercialized holiday. 

And that brought me some peace. I think I struggle with that the most. The version of the holiday versus the reality of the time of year. By letting go of some of the “rules” I can be free to find moments that bring joy. 

Complete, smiling families in matching attire with interlocked arms and love oozing from their pores in shiny, heavy cardstock aren’t my reality. So I quit sending cards.  And that’s okay. I am not a failure for NOT sending cards. I dare say no one even notices. Sunday night I had the privilege of taking a family photo. My family photo. And there is love and joy written all on the casual snapshot. It’s not of me and a spouse with all my children perfectly poised and attired. But it’s my family…my family with happy smiles and grateful hearts. 

Brown paper packages tied up with string make me happy. I hear the limericks from the sound of music as I wrap. Sometimes I even sing aloud. So I use brown paper wrappings because it makes me happy. And it makes my girl happy. It’s 12/11 and my packages aren’t wrapped. But they will be. As soon as I have a moment and some energy they will be. Even if it’s 12/24. And I won’t beat myself up because it’s not done 2 or 3 weeks before the holiday. 

Party frocks, festive decorations and chatter of endless holiday parties make me sad. Last few years I didn’t attend a single holiday event. Lonely and sad. I had no ocassion for gold lame or velvet or bright red and green taffeta. It embarrassed me. 

The truth is that I am an awkward introvert who doesn’t do well at parties. Why let the season make me feel like a loser? 

Instead I took my girls and suprised my parents as they hosted a Christmas party. I got to help. I got to make my parents happy. I got to show off my girls. And-to my delight-I got to see the handmade table cloth my grandmother made. The festive table decor has been part of my Christmas memory for years. This year I realized that I didn’t need to attend the parties. I needed to help my mom throw hers. I needed to see her festive decor, drink her spiked egg nog, see my dapper dad in his red vest and to watch them delight their guest while I sit inconspicuously in the cornwe. What I need is to see that table cloth….that special table cloth. That’s what I need to feel festive. Seeing the handsewn sequins and jaunty felt Santa made by my grandmothers hands is all I need to feel the spirit of the holiday. 

Now it’s a party!

I remember sneaking bites is the horse devours before the guest arrived. Food never tasted better or looked more magical than at my moms parties. Last night I saw my sassy little own sneak a bite. I knew that she would remember these parties like I do. I don’t have to be Martha Stewart to create memories for my daughters. 

Same with cookies. I love the idea of baking. I am not good at it. I don’t have a patience for it nor do I have the energy. But I can buy the stuff! I can help my big girl find recipes. I can give her ideas and find delight in her creations. She finds joy in baking and I find joy in her joy. It doesn’t matter if I actually make the cookies. 

Seeing my daughter make her own gifts. Seeing her find joy in giving. That far outweighs the worry I feel over not having much to give or not knowing of the perfect gift. I just need to look more at her heart and worry less about what I think the world expects of me. 

Crafty little priss!

Being present. That’s what I need to do. That’s all I need to do. I may not buy into all the trappings of the season. And that’s okay. It is. It’s okay as long as I let My little ones find joy. One traditions  make me ache? Make new ones! Rather then focus on want I don’t have or can’t give I wanted to change my own point of view this year. So I volunteered at a food bank. I have enough to eat. I can feed my children. I am blessed. That 4 hours showed me that. I want to do more of that type of giving this year. 

This year we have a church we like. I find joy in the music. Traditional holiday carols bring up loneliness but the words to the carols are lovely and peaceful. This year I am hearing the same hymns with new rhythms and melodies so I hear the words clearer. And it’s comforting. 

It was sad but nice to hear that I am not the only one suffering a bit of holiday angst this season. It was good to be reminded that the holiday I have don’t need to be compared to anyone else’s. And it was a reminder that we shouldn’t be afraid to reach out and hang onto one another this time of year. The first Christmas without a parent. The first Christmas alone. A Christmas that you can’t afford gifts. A Christmas without your child. Someone struggling with poor health, depression or a slow recovery. Everyone isn’t feeling joy this season. I’d like to make sure that those people feel loved…even if the happiest time of year doesn’t feel so happy. 


Holding onto a shadow

Will he give in and give up?

Will he fight back?

Will he fight through?

These are the things I am asking myself tonight. Once upon a time I wouldn’t have even asked the question. Once upon a time I would have known.

Now I don’t. 

I don’t recognize this defeated fella. 

And I don’t know what to do. 

I am floundering trying to find the right approach. The right words. The right argument. The right punishment. The right reward. The right speech. The right action. 

But I am lost. He’s lost. But we aren’t lost together. And I don’t know how to find my way to where he is. And I don’t know how to talk him back on the path. 

I want to grab him in my arms and hug him. I want him to still be little enough to believe his Momma can make it all better with a kiss and a hug. I also want to smack him in the back of his head and yell get it together! I want to spank him and ground him and wait it out. But none of those things will work anymore.

He’s got to find the fight on his own this time. He’s got to face his fears and break through them. I can’t do it for him. He’s got to stop being afraid and start being fearless again. I can’t do that for him. He’s got to step up, step out and make his own way. I can’t do it for him. 

And that is breaking my heart. 

He wants to be an adult. Well here it is dude. Life. Adulthood. Staring at you. What are you going to do?

Will you give in and give up?

Will you fight back?
Will you fight through?
Who are you when the chips are down? 

Today he heard I am disappointed. He heard …let us down. Let your team down….he heard …expected more, thought you would lead….he heard it from me. He heard it from his coaches. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy to hear those things said to him. It wasn’t easy to say those things to him. It’s not easy to step aside and to wait, to watch and to wonder how he’s going to respond.

Come out fighting! Show the world the character I’ve seen and still see. Overcome. Be better. Believe. Don’t be so afraid of the future that you give up on the right now!!!! Go out swinging and fighting. Leave all you have in the pool so you never, ever ask “what if” or “if only”. Regrets are, by far, the heaviest burden you will ever carry. Don’t weigh yourself down with them now. Shine. All that you are got you here. It was enough then and it will be enough now. Please baby boy. Please. Show the world the person I see every single time I look at you. Those are the things I want to say…but you don’t want to listen. So I’ll wait until you are ready to hear. 

The first time my little guy fell down and skinned a knee I thought this has to be the hardest part of parenting. The first time his heart got broken I thought this is the hardest part of parenting. The first time he was disappointed, the first time he failed, the first time he drove away…each time I thought that was as bad as it was going to be. 

I was wrong.  

I could kiss away his boo-boo. I hugged away a broken heart. I rallied him out of defeat. I encouraged him through disappointments. He was my little guy and he still believed I could fix everything back then.

Not know. Now he feels like he’s got to fight the battles alone. He has to be grown and conquer this on his own. He’s got to find his spark. He doesn’t look to me to provide it anymore. 

And that…that is the hardest part of parenting. It’s holding onto the shadow where your son used to be. It’s offering your hand but knowing your son, no matter how hard, won’t take it because at some point he has to made his way on his own. 

The good-bad and ugly. 

It’s been a helluva weekend. 

Friday I spent 4 hours volunteering at the food bank. We made over 150 bread bags that will go to public school children’s weekend food offerings. There are so many children that wouldn’t be able to eat without the food bank offering take home food on Fridays. It was humbling and rewarding. I left feeling fabulous. To fight the blues I tend to battle against this time of year I have to make a conscious effort to do things to remind myself of all the good that can happen at the holidays. This was a good start!

Most people hear Jingle Bells ringing in their heads this time of year. I literally hear the words to “hello darkness my old friend.” I struggle with the merry and bright. I fight, and lose, a battle to not feel sad with all the fairy tale pictures of families. I desperately want to be joyful but I am not. But I try. The volunteer work was the first part of my efforts this year. 

Friday night didn’t end as well as the day started. Life lessons, poor decisions and consequences made up the bulk of my Friday late night. My son ended the night with his head in my shoulder crying. Getting to that moment wasn’t pretty. My throat was raw from screaming. At one point all 3 of us were crying and no one made it to bed Friday night. 

It hasn’t been an easy year for my fella. He’s at the end of something that defines him and he’s terrified-although he can’t verbalize it-at what comes next. Seems to me like he’s throwing it all away trying to make is easier if it’s the end. My fella has lost his spark and I had been expecting the swim meet on Saturday to ignite it again. But he wouldn’t be swimming we learned late Friday night. I literally watched him deflate–to disintegrate right before my eyes. I didn’t handle it well. He didn’t handle it well. The whole situation wasn’t handled well but from rough lessons you become tough. 

Hearing your 18 year old son cry out “I just want to be enough for someone!” Hurts in a way I can’t put into words. His mistake turned away his coaches and isolated him from his team. A person close to him wanted a break from him. His friends have all gotten acceptance letters and he hasn’t. He wasn’t enough. That’s all he saw. That’s all he felt. 

Saturday, for the first time ever, my boy sat with me as a spectator at a swimming event. His sister represented our family in his swim team. She’s had to defend and explain why he wasn’t there all while battling her own nerves at the daunting day ahead. My girl handled it with poise and grace and fight…just like she does in all things. Her joy was as high as his despair was low. And I sat in the bleacher feeling both of their emotions. It wasn’t easy. 

My guy tossing away his dream made me realize that it wasn’t just his dream. I’d dreamt of his success as a swimmer as well. I was counting on his escorting me at senior night. I’d dreamt his dream and felt betrayed that he would so easily give up. 

The best part about a really bad situation was that I got to see my fella (who edges on the side of self absorption sometimes) cheer on his team. It couldn’t have been easy. It wasn’t easy for me. I cried more than once when the race started at his lane was empty. But disappointments build character and he rallied through his disappointment to be coach his sister. He was supportive and complimentary and damn impressed with my girl. She swam a 200 free followed by a 200 IM one race afterward, managed at 100 fly a 100 free and was part of a 400 relay. And she races them all! Daunting as it was, she took to the block and, true to form, excelled. For once she was the one being cheered on. I got to see a different side of their relationship…and it was nice. She was the star and he her supporter. 

The upside of a very downsided situation was that my boys punishment involved being with me all day. After the meet we made our way to Christmas shop. He managed to be a good sport and spent the afternoon thinking of others. I watched him pull out his own money to buy some things. He listened as I offered advice on some personal situations he was fighting though. We talked about a plan b if college swimming didn’t happen. It was a bad situation but we turned it into a good day. 

That night we found a bar and wached the UGA VS AUBURN SEC championship game (go dawgs). That was a new experience. Having a beer while my son had a Roy Rogers, eating wings and watching football. 

He escorted me to watch my friend perform incredible feats in an an acrobatic show. I watched her daring to do something incredible and I felt disappointed in myself that I had nothing. I’d quit dreaming a long tome ago. Now I live in my son and daughter’s dreams .

Sunday my big girl announced she wanted to make some Christmas presents. My heart felt happy. Is always taught her that a homemade, thoughtful gift was if more value then anything you’d find on a shelf. Seeing her, in her own, understand that made me feel good. 

Friday I wasn’t sure that my parenting was something to be proud of. His supporting her, her rallying to accomplish something HUGE and seeing her and her sweet, sweet heart so anxious to GIVE made me hope that maybe, maybe I was crafting good and kind people. 

This weekend every emotion that a mom can feel slapped me right upside the head. I was as low as my fella. I was as high and my fighting-spirited daughter. I was proud while being disappointed. I was supportive but I also failed to support. This weekend was a jumbled mess of a lot of things. The good-the bad and the ugly. That phrase makes a lot of sense to me after the last 48 hours. 

Tooth fairy 

With my first little one the tooth fairy delivered gold dollar coins. Fancy money. Magical gold left under the pillow by a fanciful fairy. 

That quickly became a pain in the a$$. 

The second one came along. No more gold coins. But the tooth fairy did sprinkle glitter on her pillow proving she was there. And, I will admit, once-just once I had a very mad/sad little girl crying out,”SHE DIDN’T COME!” I rushed in to save the day (and to drop a $5 bill on the floor) to help find it. 

And then there were 3. 

My phobia of teeth has intensified. I can’t even look at the nasty, wiggly things. Thanks god for big brothers!

Little hot mess lost a tooth Friday. Literally.

She’s a one track thinker. Once she realized it was loose (Wednesday) she didn’t rest until the poor thing was out. This included trying to wait up in her bubba Thursday night so he could wiggle and pull it for her. He was working so he didn’t make it home before she fell asleep. 

Her eyes weren’t even good and open Friday morning before she was hollering for her bubba to check her tooth. He answered her beck and bellow and promptly checked. “Another day,”he announced to her disappointment. 

She’s determined. When I picked her up from after school Friday afternoon there was the tooth in a wadded up paper towel. Lord she was excited. 

Thanks to modern technology she was able to face time her father. As she attempted to show him the tooth it fell. In the car. Between the seats. 

She has little itty bitty teeth. The car has great big crumbs. I fear the tooth is forever lost. Did I mention she’s determined? We all but sent in a search party for the little bugger. No luck. Drama and panic but no tooth. 

I promised her that the tooth fairy would take a note. 

We promptly went home and wrote a note. Which was promptly slid under my pillow. Did I mention she’s determined? She was determined the fairy would visit and that she would be sleeping with me when the visit occurred. 

I made my way to bed once the man child got home from work. It wasn’t until I’d settled in for a long winters nap….oops-wrong story…that I remembered a visitor was expected. Thank goodness she was asleep as I muttered a curse. Who has cash anymore????

At the very bottom of my purse, amongst the loose change, old cough drops and cracker crumbs there was a wadded up dollar. YES! A little more foraging and I found 3 more. Worn, wadded and old but money nonetheless. Score. 

I tried to get a bit of the wrinkles out by scraping them along the edge of the table. It didn’t work very well. In the end I gave up and took my wad to bed. Pretending to help her situated on the pillow I slipped the treasure underneath and then curled up to sleep. 

“Hey! She didn’t even take my note!” Are the words I awoke to this morning. Crap. “But I got monies!!!” In her right little first the wadded up dollars stuck out. Hallelujah. “It’s a little messy though,” girl doesn’t miss much. ‘Be glad you didn’t get copper my love’, I thought. It was that or those 9 pennies and a dime. 

This tooth fairy just ain’t what she used to be. 

A 10

“Mama?” She asked,”is it okay to be proud of myself for taking 10 seconds off my 200IM?”

“Absolutely! It’s okay. I am proud of you.”

“You know what would be a good reward?” Ahhhhh. Here is comes I thought. “Will you put it in your blog? That I took off 10 seconds?”

“Absolutely,” I said with vigor. 

So baby this ones for you. 

Last week in your first EVER high school swim meet I watched helplessly from the stands as you stood behind the blocks. You were the color of a piece of notebook paper. You were crossing your legs and jiggling a bit. A sure sign of your nerves. At one point I saw you fan your face and I knew you were doing so to prevent passing out.

You were terrified. Absolutely and completely scared to death. 

2 laps of all 4 strokes is not for the faint of heart. Even the most seasoned swimmer fears the beast. You’d never attempted a 200. You’d been in the pool barely a dozen times since summer swim. This was the big league. 

UGA natatorium. The stands were full. Hundreds of high school swimmers. Your first race. 

I wanted to jump over the railing and hug you. I wanted to rip the goggles off your head and whisk you away. Instead I whispered ‘you can do this, you can do this, you can do this.’

As terrified as you were I knew if you got on the block and started the race you would finish. That’s who you are. And all I wanted was for you to finish. The conquer the beast. 

I’ve got to be honest…for a few seconds I didn’t think you were going to get on the block. But you did. I swear I could see you shaking as you bent down to get in your stance. I don’t know whose heart was beating faster-yours or mine. 

The horn sounded and off you went. I am pretty sure I held my breath that entire first lap. It wasn’t until your flip turn that I Lesley my muscles relax.

At the end of the first half of the second leg I watched a girl quit. She stopped-pulled herself out of the pool and gave up. ‘Please don’t let her see that!’ I begged, fearful that would scare you.

As your mom I wanted to protect you from what scared you. I didn’t want you to be afraid, doubtful and nervous. But I should know that you, my girl are a fighter. Nerves reek havoc on you. You are self-conscious and doubtful anytime you face anything new. But you don’t back down. You attack. You push through the nerves and find this core of strength that I do admire. 

This race was me different. I wanted you to finish. That’s all. But you did more. You can on 4th overall. You scored points for your team. You were victorious!

And tonight you faced your fears again. Same race. Only this time you swam 10 seconds. 10 seconds, which is HUGE on swimming, faster. You didn’t just conquer your beast tonight-you slayed it. 

And that, my dear, is who you are. You are a fighter. A young woman of strength. A woman of character.  A competitor. You take a deep breath and you dive right in. And you don’t stop until it’s done.

Will I write about you taking 10 seconds off your time? You bet I will. Not because the time matters but because of all it represents. 

How I admire you. Your passion. Your gumption. Your standards. I admire the confidence you show at some things while exhibiting vulnerability in others. You embrace what’s hard and you appreciate the journey. Your sharp wit is tempered by a sweet smile. Your big, big heart is apparent in all you do. You lead without realizing you are being followed. You are humble at the right times and absolutely steadfast and strong when you need to be. You stare down challenges. You look at things that are hard and you find a way over them, through them or around them. You don’t suffer fools and you don’t mind calling a spade a spade. Being called QUEEN OF ATTITUDE by your teacher was probably not meant as a compliment but you took it as one. Because you saw that as a sign she noticed you fighting back and standing strong. You see that as recognition that you will stand toe-to-toe against your foes without flinching or backing down. Yet you did so with a wit and smile that leaves your opponent laughing. Quite a feat. 

With all that strength you are still kind and sweet and thoughtful. You’ve never once NOT thanked me for coming to support you. After every meet, every game, every event you always, always and more than once, say,”thanks for coming, Mom.”

I am proud of you for taking off 10 seconds. But I am prouder still of all that those 10 seconds represents. 

Congratulations my girl on facing a fear, conquering a beast and coming out smiling and strong. I am so proud of you.  Not because of the time on the scoreboard or the number that you placed. I am proud of so much more. My little fighter. My warrior. My winner. 

May your spirit, your spunk and your zest take you where you want to go. That’s my hope for you. That   you will always look at challenges the way you looked at this race–as something to conquer. 

I was an actress 

I was an actress.

That is so hard for me to write. 

One of my proudest facts is that I went to college on a drama scholarship. But it’s not something I talk a lot about. As a introverted, rule following, straight laced HR professional I a) don’t think anyone would believe it b) don’t want a anyone to ruin it by not believing it and c) am afraid someone will tell me I wasn’t good which would break me. 

I graduated from college on a high. I was Sabrina. I was named best actress twice. When it came time to graduate I left the theatre and didn’t look back. 

Until tonight.

Tonight I am exhilarated. And it’s not from a swim meet. It’s not because of a softball tournament or a cheer event. Tonight it’s because of a show. Tonight, for the first time since 1993 I am exhilarated because of a show. 

Kinky Boots–the traveling broadway cast stopped on Athens tonight. My friend was given tickets. She asked me to go. That alone made me happy. 

We had a pre-show dinner as perks. We had wine. We had box seats. C’mon. I don’t get out much. I  was pretty elated from the free drink ticket! When the usher said “oh, I don’t even know where those seats are” and suggested they might be box seats I was giddy. I downright lost my mind when a waitress asked for my drink order as the theater grew dark. 

The show started. And it was fun, energetic and had cool sets. That was what I noticed in the first 2 minutes. 

Then I quit noticing anyting at all and starting feeling. The energy on  that stage. The performances were raw and had a vulnerability that grabbed me. I was dancing in my seat one minute and quietly sobbing during “not my fathers son” one minute later. 

Once upon a time I was special. I think of uncle gene who watched me perform. I think of my parents who made it possible for me to go to college and whe made the drama scholarship happen. I wonder if they are disappointed in the person I am versus that person I used to be. That’s what that song made me feel. 

I want destined for stardom. I conceived myself I rode the theatre ride as far as I was meant to ride it. And I didn’t look back. 

Until tonight. 

That show. That cast. Seeing people that are celebrated for who they are. Seeing characters re-invent their lives. Knowing I’ve graced a stage, just like these people, and have felt the energy from an audience. Have moved people to tears. Have made people cry and think and feel. I’ve done that.  

I’ve stood on a dark stage seized my fright until the spotlight hit my face and all fear evaporated. I’ve bowed at the end of a show to people standing on their feet. I’ve. Done. That. 

I was tingling with energy. I am energized and full of emotion tonight for reasons I can’t even explain. It’s powerful. 

So long ago…

Tonight’s show was about acceptance and re-investing yourself. It was about the people you encounter in your life and how they impact you. It was about hope and love and the power of red boots. 

Too much to process. 

As I left the swag booth from buying, like An adolescent  school girl, the CD, the t-shirt and SOCKS that looked like red boots, my friend pointed out that the lead of the show was standing not 5 feet away.
Yes. I made an old lady ass of myself and asked to take a picture with him and gushed about how much I enjoyed the show. Yes. I gushed. I couldn’t help it. I was, and still am, giddy. That the power of good theatre. 

This story isn’t done. I don’t know the next chapter. I don’t know where it does from here. But it’s not done. 

Before the show I was show I was congratulating myself of being adult enough to have purchased a new dishwasher.

Tonight I realized:

  • I can still have exhilarating moments that are mine and don’t revolve around kids accomplishments 
  • I was an actress. And I am proud of that
  • I miss the stage
  • Everyone needs a friend like the one I shared the night with. 
  • There is power in red boots.
  • I am 47 years old and still haunted by the worry that the person I am disappoints people
  • I miss the stage
  • I love people that pursue their dreams—even if they aren’t dreams I understand 
  • The person I was is still there. Somewhere

Thanks Erma

Erma Bombeck penned a list of regrets when she found out she was dying of cancer. The “inviting friends over” stuck with me. 

Despite a teeny house; a broken dishwasher, a slow toilet, dog smells and a very lived in look-I had people over. 

I was nervous and slightly embarrassed but I did it.

HOCO (homecoming) 2017. My son would have to work 8-10 hours to afford a nice meal before the dance. My girl had different friends doing different things and was struggling to be everywhere with everyone. They both had dates that didn’t go to their school. Solution: a pre-party at our house. It wouldn’t cost my son money, everyone could meet and relax before the dance and I would get to see my girl at her first dance and my fella at his last. 

And so we did…

A porch party. I pictured a quaint, twinkling ambience. I saw sparkles and glitter and lots of twinkling light. Pintresy and Goodwill to the rescue. If it didn’t move we spray painted it gold or dipped it in glitter. My kitchen table looked like a Hobby Lobby! Even the dogs had sparkles and glitter on them. 

Pinterest overload

My friend sent me some ideas to which I immediately thought we can do that! And so we did. My girl and I planned and made a photo back drop. The end didn’t look quite like our original version but it did the job. 

Famous last words: I can make that!

Lights were hung. Reinforcements (my momma) were called in. I fretted and worried and worried some more. I thought of canceling more than once…heck more than fifty times. 

But then I remembered Erma. 

And being present for the first HOCO for my girl and the last HOCO for my fella were suddenly way more important then the size of my house or the condition of my kitchen. In years to come no one would remember the cluttered kitchen or the slight dog odor. (I hope). But they would remember having fun, meeting one another and feeling special. That they would remember for a long time. And that mattered much more then the size of my den. 

It wasn’t easy. Goodwill treasure-a punch bowl and 14 punch glasses. That lead to my grandmothers punch recipe. One issue–I didn’t have any plastic containers to freeze it in. I don’t dwell on issues-i find solutions. A clean sand bucket was just the right size.  Oh my grandmother would have shuddered. 

The moment did provide some comic relief. What kind of grown woman doesn’t have a stocked kitchen?!?! Me. The planned cheese ring fell victim to the same issue when I didn’t have cayenne pepper to add to the grated cheese. I thought every kitchen had red or cayenne pepper. Maybe every grown up kichen has that as a staple. Obviously I don’t have a grown up kitchen. 

But it didn’t matter!

You put enough lights and glitter on things and no one notices a missing cheese ring! 

Lemonade bottled on glass bottles chilling in a champagne bucket makes teenagers happy. So do meatballs and queso dip. Pretzel rods dipped in chocolate and dusted with gold, edible glitter make up for missing cheese rings every time! 

Because each attendee had a date that didn’t go to our school we wanted them to feel welcome. A dead Christmas tree discarded in the woods, a color printer and some gold spray paint took care of that! Each couple helped decorate the scene with a picture of how they were asked to HOCO. They turned out cute I think.

The fire put in the sidewalk wasn’t a good idea. Yellow lights should have been clear in hindsight. An extra hour to prepare would have been good. But you know what??!! I don’t think anyone but me noticed those things. 

I love this picture of the “guys” hanging out and talking while the girls took pictures in front of our handmade backdrop. 

I love that my baby girl got her own dress and got to take pictures with the big-pretty girls. 

I love that each boy arrived from the formal picture session carrying their dates impossibly high-heeled shoes. 

I loved that the son of a man I grew up with, the grandson of a friends of my parents since before I was born was at the party as the date of one of my daughter’s friend. The circle created by that moment made my heart smile. 

I liked making new friends and welcoming old ones. I loved seeing my daughter’s handmade corsage and seeing her smile as she showed it off. 

Erma was right. I am glad I didn’t wait until I lived in a bigger house or had a working dishwasher. I am happy I didn’t give up on my idea. I am so thankful for a son and a daughter that each thanked me over and over again for creating a special night. They noticed! Their friends noticed. The sparkle, the lights, the ambience…they noticed. And has I waited for cleaner house or a newer sofa or clean floors I might have missed the chance to share their night. 

Life is about the moments we create. And I was so lucky to be allowed to help create a moment for my loves and those that they love. I won’t regret hosting the event but boy would I have regretted not having it! Erma was right!