Monday Gravy: AA Comes Home

My first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting was Saturday night.

Beloved daughter was celebrating two years of sobriety and asked Mommy to come to the party.  I was thrilled.

Whoa. It was a room full of tangible love. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. Hugs all around.. genuine support.. people of varied backgrounds. I saw quickly there was no one stereotype for alcoholism–it crosses every barrier.  But I think I already knew that.. my attendance at the meeting only confirmed it.

After spending 90 minutes with these people I was astounded.  They were real.. no cop outs.. no pretending.. no excuses. It was an honor to be in the same room with them.. and be part of the ritual not only marking my daughter’s second birthday.. but the birthdays of many others.  Some had 10 years in the program.. some 8.. or 6.  I met one woman who had 30 years there.

After sweet daughter began the program, I read the AA Big Book.  I saw how the implementation of these ideas helped and continues to assist and breathe life back into so many who would otherwise be dead or wishing they were. When I saw the positive roads this journey was opening up for my girl, I began to examine my own life.  The principles are solid.. the success undeniable.

The people I met take nothing for granted. They seem to live each day in joy and possibility.  And when they asked “Carrie’s mom” to speak to the room.. I couldn’t say no.  Instead, I was honored.. and grateful.  At first, it was because of what they’ve all done for my daughter. Then, it became personal. Being there was like having a warm blanket thrown around my heart.  Rapt attention to what everyone said signaled passionate respect.

Funny how my children keep bringing positives into my life.  When I was a young mother I thought I would always be the one supporting, helping and providing insights for my offspring.  As the years roll by, and as I allow it.. my soul reaps the benefits of people, places and things I never would have thought of on my own.

Like AA.

My name is Sue Ann and I am not an alcoholic.  But they invited me back anyway.

I intend to accept that invitation.


Dave’s New Gig

Well, it’s official.. David Letterman is no longer single.  Truth be told, he’s been attached for a long time.. but until the final vows were said, I considered him fair game.. the mother of his young son notwithstanding.

I’ve loved him forever.. as long as I can remember knowing who he was.  And true, in later years, he’s become more cynical and even bitter at times.. and well, older.  But I forgive him for this because he’s brilliant. He doesn’t pander to the lowest common denominator like Jay Leno, and his wit is dangerously sharp–still.

A man with a sense of humor has always caught my eye.. but one who’s also flawed and a bit deranged is irresistible.

You know that gap between his teeth?  Perfect!  His skewed charm, his flirtability.. all fodder for years of my dreams.

Dave said he avoided marriage partly because he felt other men saw him as sort of “the last gunslinger”.. a man who’d escaped the trappings of that convention.

Hmm.. well.. maybe other men are disappointed.  But I’ll tell you what.  David Letterman’s new gig only makes him more attractive to women–at least this woman.  It only sweetens the deal.

His purple tie, his gray socks, the goofiness.. it’s all part of the love.

I’d wish him good luck, best wishes and all of that.. but I’m still smarting from the news that he chose someone else instead of me.

Never mind that he never met me.

Unrequited adoration?  Probably.

It’s still great to know that he’s in the world and making funny stuff happen.  That has to be good enough for me.

Monday Gravy: The New “Middle Age”

My friend turned 55 over the weekend.

He talked about being a senior citizen now.. at least in California.  He mentioned the upcoming “senior moments” he’d be experiencing.  I protested wildly.

“No!” I asserted. “I hate that term.  The only reason we can’t remember things as we age is because of all the stuff crammed into our brains. It has nothing to do with our capacity to remember.”

Even as I wrote it I saw the fallacy.  The more we have to remember, the older we are.  It does have to do with aging.. and that’s that.

My friend’s claiming to be a senior citizen was especially disconcerting because since we are the same age, it meant that I was one, too.  He makes a good point, though, when he says he probably won’t live to be 110.. dispelling that trendy adage about 50 being the new 30 (or 40.. I forget which it is right now).

Technology and medicine keep raging into the 21st century with innovations that prolong life. Let’s face it.. that’s true. People live longer, healthier lives than ever before. Maybe that’s part of my objection to the “senior citizen” reference.

But I suspect it’s something else.  I’m not ready to die.. at least I don’t think I am.  That long, slow decline from age 40 (or even earlier, some say) gets faster with every year.  I find myself not denying it as much as ignoring it. But maybe I do both.

My friend is right.  55.. or even 50.. is not the new middle age.  We are way past that.  It doesn’t mean we are dead or dying,  just past middle age.  And with everything our modern world gives us to look forward to.. I still expect vitality and joy.

Come to think of it.. what’s ever been so great about “the middle” anyway?  It’s safe, it’s sandwiched in between two extremes.

I am officially past middle age and while that slapped me silly when I realized it, it also cracked open doors.  Doors that lead to more of who I really am.. doors that fling wide to parts unknown.  And that doesn’t necessarily include The Early Bird Special at 4:30 pm.

I like the sound of that adventure..

Monday Gravy

I’ve been told the right brain never sleeps.  After all the facts and figuring of the day, the left brain says nighty-night, shuts down, and leaves the right half to ponder and muse.  This, supposedly, is the reason that often when we wake, we have ideas that didn’t occur to us the night before–the playful, more liberated brain has had time to ruminate over an answer.

If that’s the case, Saturday morning should have produced rocket science at our house.  The boy slept (off and on) for close to 20 hours.. and I put down a solid 12.  Yum.

But.. no illumination, really.. just a relaxed mom and her boy who spent the day getting haircuts, leisurely cleaning rooms and watching Iron Man. So much for the hurry-up-and-get-things-done mentality.

But maybe that’s all that really mattered that day.  It was rainy–a condition conducive to slothfulness.  Although, we weren’t actually lazy.. just mellow.  Is there a difference?  I hope so.

I know people who weigh their worth in how busy they make themselves.  The lists of to-dos are endless.. they are always on the phone.. they’re always running late.. and there’s never enough time.  I used to play that game, too.  Soon, you start to believe you’re indispensable.. and when illness, true emergency, or something else slaps your face, reminding you you’re not, that’s when the light begins to dawn.  The right brain tells you there’s another way to live..  maybe even a more satisfying way.  You remember how to play.

What’s really important will get done–eventually.

Meanwhile, I’ll turn off the phone, sleep in late and eat bacon once in awhile.  Maybe next Saturday morning I’ll do all three.

13 Random Things I Know About Mothers

1.  You never know.  I mean you really never know.  You may think you know.  You may pride yourself in knowing.  You may make it your life’s work to know. But the truth is, you never know.  Not everything.. not even some of the things you thought you knew. Children keep a cache of well-hidden secrets. You never know everything.  Just accept it.

2.  Since mothers are often in charge of food gathering, I offer this nugget: You can never have too much food available, especially for teenagers. Have food of all kinds, and lots of it. This will ensure crowds at your house, but the odds are you will never be sorry for it.

3.  It’s been said that mothers wear their hearts on the outside of their bodies.  For most of us this is true.  There is the occasional mother that is not a nurturer by nature. But usually, we are. Big time. Everything our child does is fodder for our emotional well-being, or not-so-well-being. They become extensions of us.  And while this isn’t healthy, it’s common practice. Go ahead, love ’em to death, but at some point, in the name of everything maternal, back away and keep your feelings to yourself.  Running out onto the baseball field after Junior throws the winning pitch is not a good idea, no matter how close you are.

4.  Mothers often take credit for the good things their children do.  It’s because we have so much invested in them.  Their success is ours, too.. right?  Not so fast, Ma Walton. If we take credit for their accomplishments, we have to absorb the bad stuff, too.  At some point, they make their own decisions..accompanied by consequences.. and if I’m lucky, I’m along for the ride, that’s all.

5.  We like to take take ourselves too seriously.  But what about our responsibilities–shouldn’t we take them seriously?  Yes.  Ourselves?  No.  My thinking here is that no one should do this.  But mothers have a tendency to hold onto pride and entitlement. It’s unattractive and repels children.. not to mention men.

6.  Whenever I produce a healthy belch.. usually after a couple of good swigs of Dr. Pepper.. it makes my teenage son smile.  This is worth any public humiliation I may endure.

7.  I’ve learned I need to back off.  I lean toward pushing.. pushing a child toward betterment, responsible behavior, for information. A nudge is OK. Doing my homework about the child is crucial. But pushing just alienates him.. and makes me come off cranky and yes, bitchy..  which, of course, I am.  Give the kid some room.

8.  Lock the bedroom and bathroom doors.  I’ve learned the hard way that seeing one’s mother in her underwear only confuses already weird feelings in a teenager.  Even as a daughter, it played with my head a little when I saw my mother in her undies.  11-18-year-olds especially don’t like to think of their mothers as people with lives and feelings, and well, underpants.  Just lock the door.

9.  You know when a child says, “You don’t understand”?  We really don’t.  We can’t.  We may understand what it was like for us, and while that has value, it’s not definitive. Mothers like to think it is.  Our children are growing up in a society that even 20 years ago was unimaginable.  They are faced with burdens we do not know.  Maybe our best response when they say this to us.. and if they haven’t yet, they will..  is “You’re right. I don’t.”

10.  Mothers should touch their children lovingly.. even teenagers.  Especially teenagers.  It’s easy to snuggle and snog with babies and toddlers.  But the older ones need it, too.  They may not talk about it or request it.. although I know that some do. Most, however, will turn shades of scarlet if this is done in public.. or in front of friends (the kiss of death).  So hug them, put an arm around them, pat them on a cheek or tousle shaggy hair.  Just do it.. and do it a time or two every day.. because this means something.  To them it means they are still adorable to you, even though they are older and awkward.  It teaches affection.  And to a mother, it can be oh, so satisfying.

11.  We will fall on a sword for our children. But too many of us do it even if it’s wrong. One mother in the Midwest sold her son’s car because she told him one of the rules was no drinking, and she found a beer bottle under the seat.  She did not witness the act of drinking, but despite claims the bottle in question didn’t belong to her son, she put an ad in the paper to sell the car, touting herself as “the meanest mom on the planet.”  She received calls from all over the country.. parents, emergency workers, hospitals.. all thanking her for the courage to take a stand.  It’s hard to do this.. but mothering is not a popularity contest–although some of us try to make it into one.

12.  Don’t take it personally.  Mothers do this.  We pout or induce guilt, we turn into martyrs or screaming machines.  They are children.  They’re younger than we are. They are still learning.. even if they are 17-years-old.  The benefit of our years and experience comes in handy here.  That, and a look at the big picture.  If we are functional at all, and show we care even a little.. they love us.  Don’t worry.

13.  Expect goodness.  Children will do “bad” things sometimes.  They will, of course, balk at requests, chores, authority, and clean underwear.  But there is a lot of good there.  Teenagers can be disrespectful and downright mean.  We teach them appropriate behavior and start over again.  They are individuating.. they have to do these things.  Look for all that’s good..  grades, positive behavior, reliability, kindness.. and let the compliments flow free.  Expect it all.. but especially the good.  It’s there for the taking.