Tales Of A Recovering Hyper Over-Enthusiast

Published in The Ferndale Record, March 27, 2013

I used to be ‘that’ mother. The one that yelled the loudest from the stands for her kid on the field, the one that clapped and hooted vigorously after every child’s performance, the one that gushed and cooed over every ‘participant’ ribbon my children brought through the door. 

When it was a trophy or winning award, the air oozed with gusto that could easily suffocate everyone else in the room. Exceptional examples of schoolwork or first numbers scrawled on a napkin were stuck onto the refrigerator for months.

Everyone knows parents who fall into the hyper-enthusiastic category. I thought prolonged cheerleading was how one motivated offspring, and didn’t know any other way to express the abundance I felt.

Then some time ago I discovered how embarrassing my antics had been to one of my children. This cut deep and hard. In the name of encouragement and parental zeal, I’d humiliated one I love.

I used to be ‘that’ mother, and inside my heart of hearts, I still am. I’ve toned it down, which is not a natural state for me, but curiously, especially as the mother of adult children, it’s revealing. Maybe it’s simple maturity or something like it, but robust hollering from the sidelines has been replaced with perspective and gratitude.

Recently, my son and daughter-in-law invited me to Boston for a visit. I got to spend a few days with their family, see them in their natural habitat, and observe the life they’ve built since their move from Seattle last summer.

The entire trip could have been me shouting from the stands. “Oh, this is wonderful! I love this house! What adorable children you have! This city is amazing! WOO HOO!” I could hear it all rumbling around in my soul. When we drove past Fenway Park, I’ll admit to a somewhat sedated outburst. I just couldn’t help it.

Then, right before the flight back to Seattle, I visited my son’s office on the 14th floor with a spectacular view of the Boston skyline. I saw his name on the door and felt that tug again—the one that wants to gush.

I saw the pictures of family on his shelves, the awards he’s earned, and quite suddenly I felt like he’d just brought his first finger painting home from kindergarten. Only this time, I had no words, no overwhelming ebullience to express. It caught in my throat, and the only thing I could feel was joy.

As he drove me to the airport I told him what a great job I thought he was doing with his family, his life, and that it was lovely to witness. He laughed and said something like, “And this from a mother who thinks everything I do is great!”

“No,” I told him, “It’s more than that. You love your wife and children and they love you. Your kids feel safe and want to be with you. You are building a happy life. I’m telling you I can see that.”

I’ve figured out that it’s not so much about me being a frenzied proponent as it is about loving without agenda, guile and ego. When I do that, my tendency to emote gets swallowed up in pure joy.

I still bubble over occasionally and probably always will. But there’s more satisfaction in subdued observation than I ever would have thought. Gravy days for sure!

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Make It Retro, Please

Published February 27, 2013 in The Ferndale Record

Disconnecting cable TV was a brave thing for me to do. It was a monthly expense I could ditch and feel pretty good about. But as a child of the TV age, it’s always been within my reach to entertain, soothe and keep me company. It’s not a popular thing to admit, but I love television and yes, my children were raised within TV’s warming glow.

So, I miss it, but not because of Downton Abbey, the series finale of 30 Rock, or Saturday Night Live. I can watch those online if I want. I just miss it being there, ready to distract and delight me on command.

Since my remote using days are over for the time being, I’ve become attached to Internet sites that dish up what I can rarely find, even with a bazillion cable or dish channels. I get the old stuff, whenever I want it. Nice, right? I’m not talking about I Love Lucy, which can be seen somewhere in the world at any time of the day or night—and with good reason: it’s a classic.

Recent exploration has led me back to television in the 80s when my hair was big and highlighted, and my children were babies. It was a time when anything seemed possible and Ronald Reagan was President. I wore Hard Rock Café t-shirts and a Mickey Mouse watch purchased on Main Street in Disneyland. When I dressed up, it was in clothing with shoulder pads large enough for aircraft to safely land upon and chunky, sparkly jewelry like Cybill Shepherd wore in Moonlighting.

Days were for keeping up with the family and evenings for losing myself in whatever tripe I could find on the tube. It was rarely soapy drama. No Dallas or Dynasty for me. I was more about MacGyver and The A-Team for adventure, The Wonder Years (if I needed a poignant pause), and every Friday night it was ABC’s lineup of comedy, mostly importantly, Perfect Strangers.

I don’t own the DVDs (yet), but finding full episodes of this show online reminded me of why I watched TV in the first place. It’s full-blown, utter silliness with physical comedy that rivals that of Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz. It’s sweet without too much sap, and the chemistry and timing between the lead actors is crazy good.

There’s no high moral message, no “something to think about,” just complete nuttiness that makes me laugh every time

I appreciate it even more now because it reminds me of those Friday nights when all my kids were under the same roof, no electronics distracting any of us. There we were, just hanging out, watching TGIF together.

Online viewing has other perks besides nostalgia. Before the networks and cable stations turned closing credits into half screens and filled the void with what’s coming up next, you could actually hear the music (sometimes good stuff) and read the credits without a de-squintization device (I know there’s no such thing, but if there was, it would apply here).

Until the day I have TV again, and I will, I’m entertained and informed with a good Internet connection. And not always, but sometimes, I’ll use technology’s built in time machine to revisit the exquisite buried treasure inside my computer.  I’ve got to say, it’s worth the trip.