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Monthly Archives: August 2016

Summer

For as long as I can remember, summer has been my favorite time of year. Maybe because I was a summer baby – born in July. I love the warm weather and absolutely hate the cold. From the beach club growing up on Long Island, to camp, to spending days on the beach and nights at Paddy McGees in my 20’s (I know some of you know what I’m talking about), to Fire Island and Hamptons sharehouses – summer has always been associated with fun and relaxation in my mind. It was my happy time. Howie felt the same way I did and we loved our summers. Before the girls were born and after, we took weekend getaways or just went to the beach often (although not as easy in NJ as it was on Long Island) and loved to eat dinner outdoors. I always felt a sadness around Labor Day.

I never thought anything would change that – it’s just the way I was. But I think Howie’s death did. My last few summers just haven’t been the same. The summer partner I had for 20 years was no longer here to enjoy it with me. I didn’t sit at home and cry all day – I still had beach days and dinners and weekends away with girlfriends which were always fun. But the leisurely, fun, spontaneous, joyful feel wasn’t there like it was in past summers for me.

There were so many summer things that felt a little emptier. First of course, my summer birthday. My friends and family always made sure to be around and take me out and make me feel special, but it just isn’t the same as celebrating with a special person in your life, either with a bunch of friends or just the two of you. Something was always missing.

The other thing that stands out in my mind is Lily’s camp visiting day. The day when all the parents go up to visit their child(ren) who are at sleep away camp for seven weeks. I never loved that day even when Howie was alive. I don’t want anyone to get all judgy, or Lily to get insulted (even though she knows this already) about this. Most parents of sleep away kids will say it is their favorite day of the year blah blah. I am just being honest – OF COURSE I love to see her. I miss her terribly when she is gone. But you drive 3 1/2 hours to park a mile away and schlep a ton of stuff up a hill. Then, I am thrilled to see her for an hour or so. I love to see how happy she is and hear about her summer. But being there from 10 am to 4 pm is way too long to sit outside and walk around in 90 degree weather. Especially when you have a child that is not athletic like Lily. There isn’t much to do. Honestly as she’s gotten older I think she is happy when the day is over and she gets on with her summer. But since Howie is no longer here, I actually dread it (I am clarifying – I don’t dread seeing Lily – I dread the day). Because now Amanda and I drive up (at the crack of dawn) and back by ourselves, and then carry stuff that weighs more than we do up the hill. Every time we get up there I am shocked that we made it without an injury! And then of course everyone around us looks like big happy families having the time of their lives (this of course may or may not be the reality but it is the appearance). It’s just another time that reminds me that something and someone is missing. And let’s face it – Lily is a fifteen year old girl in her favorite place with people that she loves – she doesn’t really need me there. It’s just a tough day.

There are a lot more summer things that just haven’t been the same. Spontaneous outdoor dinners, get togethers with friends etc. The past few years I have actually been looking forward to Labor Day – something I never thought I’d say! I wanted the regular routine of the year to start again – it felt safer somehow.

This summer was the first time in a long time that I almost felt like my old self, which shocked me. This July I turned 50 and it was something I thought I would be miserable about, but I wasn’t at all. I almost felt like I can start a new chapter. Again, not move on but move forward. I took two mini vacations with two separate groups of girlfriends and I truly just relaxed and had fun. I have been spending time with someone special in my life, including my birthday, and that makes me happy. Plus – guess what – Lily was away from camp on visiting day so I didn’t have to go!!! :). And as I write this, I happen to be away in Aruba with my family and really having a great time.

It is a great feeling to know that my love for summer hasn’t disappeared. Although it’s never going to be the same, I had a really good summer and I am actually kinda dreading Labor Day…

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Making Pink Lemonade

A few months after Howie passed away I was shopping with Amanda and Lily and we came across an ipad cover that said “When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Pink Lemonade”. We looked at each other and decided to buy it. We thought it was a good motto for us – and loved the pink part since we are three girls (and obviously I’m fond of the color).

While that is a lovely motto – it’s easier said than done.  I think everyone can understand the sadness and grief that comes with losing someone you love – especially someone so young. But what is not expected and sometimes not understood is the anger. This is the thing I struggle with the most.  I don’t even think I realized how angry I was, or that I was angry at all, until recently. But now I know it was there. When I think about it, I have every right to be angry.  I lost my husband, the man that I loved.  And my two little girls lost their father. This was not the life I signed up for. And it’s not fair.  If I could stomp my feet like a two year old and scream “it’s not fair” over and over again I would.  I think I was angry with the world. My family just didn’t understand how I felt, even though they tried, and that made me angry. My friends, although they were so good to me, still had their happy lives that I used to have and that made me angry. I was angry when I heard people complain about little ridiculous problems – didn’t they realize that there were bigger problems in the world??? I was angry at happy couples I’d pass on the street. I was angry at the TV when I saw commercials with happy families on vacations. And I was angriest of all when I saw a father with daughters.

I think that the degree of my anger came and went over the years, but it was always there in some measure. I’m not even sure what it depended on. Over the last few months I have finally been dealing with it.  I had what I call a bit of a “breakdown” about eight months ago. It wasn’t really a breakdown but that is what I like to call it.  Believe it or not, I think it was the best thing that happened. I guess that the last few years had taken their toll on me and I got to my saddest, angriest point. But with help I came to realize that I was so unhealthy (mentally as well as physically – I looked like a mess!) and I needed to get out of that place. I believe that recognizing it was the thing that helped me get out. Once I knew it was there, I was able to control it.  Not push it away like I think I used to, but deal with it.  I understand now that it was holding me back. It’s easy to be mad at the world when you have a very valid reason to be. But you can’t hold on to that anger forever or you will never move forward.  And that is what I am doing now. I read on another widow blog that you don’t move on, you move forward. I love that.

I’m not saying “and then I lived happily ever after”. I will always have a tiny bit of that anger with me.  I think it’s impossible not to. It is a part of me. But it does not overtake my life and consume me anymore.  I think this is why I decided to write this blog – I want to show that it is normal to feel anger (and sadness). It takes some longer than others, but when you learn to recognize it and strive towards being a healthier, happier person – you can do it.  I am at the happiest I have been in 5 years. This is a really good thing.

That ipad cover is still on my ipad.  But now I feel like I am truly doing it – “Making Pink Lemonade Out of Lemons”. I want my daughters to know that we can get through anything and we do have a lot to be happy about 🙂  even if we all do it at our own pace.

 

Working

When I was in my 20’s I worked in sales for Mattel Toys and then for Fisher Price. I liked my job – the toy industry is really a fun place to work and I loved the people I worked with. Plus there are a few perks – I still own a great collection of Barbie Dolls – and I was in the Thanksgiving Day Parade one year! (this is my claim to fame!)  I worked until Amanda was born.  I was actually planning on going back part time after my maternity leave but I had complications with my pregnancy and Amanda was born premature at 3 lbs. (a whole other story), so Howie and I agreed that it would be best for me to stay home. I became a stay at home mom and I loved it!  I really loved being with my girls all day when they were little. We took classes and had play groups – this is how I met most of my friends (who are still my friends!). It was a good time in my life.

When Lily was in kindergarten and Amanda was in 2nd grade I started to get bored. The girls were in school all day so I didn’t have much to do. By chance, I ran into one of the girls’ old preschool teachers and she mentioned to me that the school was looking for assistant teachers and asked if I was interested. I thought about it and it sounded like a great idea. I really love children, I loved the school, and the 2 or 3 day a week schedule gave me enough to keep me busy and give me a “purpose” while the girls were in school. So I became an Assistant Preschool Teacher. I was very happy there. The kids were adorable and I worked with some great women who I am still friends with today.  I was working there for five years when Howie passed away. From the minute it happened, the school and everyone in it was so supportive. So many of the teachers reached out to me right away, came to the funeral, sat shiva etc.  They were really so thoughtful. The directors let me take as much time as I needed and were just very good to me. That was so important to me at the time. I could not imagine going through what I did and working somewhere where they were not understanding, which I’m sure does happen. I stayed there for the next three years. It was good for me to have a place to go to that took my mind off of everything that was going on even for just a little while.

During my eighth year at preschool, I started to feel that my time there should be coming to an end.  I guess with all that was going on in my life, my patience started to wear thin (and you need a lot of patience to work with two year olds!) And honestly, I needed to start making a little more money.  The job and people there might have been great but preschool teachers make nothing!  If you are the parent of a preschooler remember this – the teachers really do it because they love your kids – definitely not for the money.  While I was considering leaving, a friend of mine told me he knew of a financial adviser that was looking for an assistant. I literally laughed at this.  I knew nothing about the world of finance! (if you go back to an old post of mine, you will see that I was barely able to handle my own finances) He told me that he didn’t think I needed that much expertise and to just go for the interview. I figured it couldn’t hurt so I went. It went much better than I expected and the next thing I knew I was offered me the job. I thought about it and decided it was time for a change. I was very hesitant about this – I’m not a big fan of change – and there had been a lot of that in my life recently.  But I decided to take it.anyway. I finished out the year at preschool and then started my new job.

At first I thought I made a big mistake.  I felt like I was learning a new language.  I really knew nothing about what I was doing.  But slowly I began to get it, and actually started to like it. This job is totally new to me and in a different field, but it reminds me of being back at Mattel and Fisher Price (minus the toys :)).  My boss is so nice and we work well together, I love the other people in our office, and I am learning a lot.  About six months after I started, my boss told me that he wasn’t so sure about me at first, but I was working out much better than expected. I told him I felt the exact same way!

I mentioned in an earlier post that one of my best friends’ lost her dad when she was twelve.  Right after Howie died, her mom came to see me and we spoke for a while.  I remember her saying that she became a new person in the years since her husband passed away (she has since remarried, worked as a teacher for years, and is now retired and has beautiful grandchildren). She said that this was both a good thing and a bad thing. I didn’t really understand what she meant back then.  But now I’m getting it. Change can be scary but can help us move forward…

 

Hearts for Howie

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A couple of years after Howie passed away, my girls came up with the idea to start a charity in his name.  Starting a charity?  That seemed like soooooo much work and I really did not know if I had the time or strength for it.  So I put them off, and put them off, and put them off.  Finally they bothered me enough so I decided to look into it.

I knew NOTHING about starting a charity. Plus I am not the Type A, super organized, go get ’em  kind of girl that most people I know are. I’m kinda laid back and a little all over the place sometimes. Funny – I used to try to be that super organized girl but it’s just not me (I hope my boss isn’t reading this ;)). Now I have learned to embrace who I am. But fortunately for me, most of my friends are that Type A personality. So I called in my troops. They were more than happy to help me get started on this – they love a project! They all knew and loved Howie so it was something we all felt good about.

Amanda’s Story

 

Before I begin this, I just want to say that Amanda and I talked about it, and she has happily given me permission to write about this.  We both hope that maybe this can help someone in a similar situation (or their mom!)….

Amanda was 12 years old and in seventh grade when Howie passed away so suddenly.  That is a tough age for any girl, but I still can’t comprehend how devastating it must have been to lose her father at that age (or any age – it was no easier for Lily). Both of my girls had a horrible time those first few months. But Amanda got so busy with Bat Mitzvahs and her social life that she seemed to bounce back pretty quickly.  Maybe too quickly. About a year later Amanda crashed.  Not all at once, it was more gradual.  Slowly I started to notice a change in her. She got quieter. She spent more time in her room.  Her grades were horrible.  And after a while she seemed angry all the time. Amanda and I now refer to this as “when she went dark”.  She just wasn’t herself.

From the minute she was born, Amanda was a “difficult” child. Most of us have one – the stubborn one that throws tantrums and just gives you a hard time. I am the first to admit that Howie had a lot more patience for her than I did. He was always able to calm her down and talk to her. But all of a sudden he wasn’t there anymore. I think at some point this all hit her and she didn’t know how to handle it. So her way was to withdraw. It was as if my Amanda wasn’t there anymore and what replaced her was an angry, closed off stranger. She didn’t even look like herself. Amanda had always had a love for clothes and makeup. From the time she was in kindergarten she had a knack for putting outfits together and dressing herself and everyone else! Now she was walking around in sweats all day and wearing horribly dark makeup. I was very worried. 

At this point she had been seeing a therapist for a while who she was very comfortable with and I really liked as well. I expressed my worry to him and he tried what he could to help the situation. But after a short time he told me that she needed more help than he was able to give, and referred me to a specific counseling center that he thought was wonderful and would be the right place for her. I respected so much that he was honest with me and found the right fit with the right therapists for her.  So I called them right away.  Huge problem – there was a waiting list to even meet with them.  They said it would probably be a few weeks.  We did not have a few weeks – I was terrified of what was happening to Amanda and what might come next. I am probably the least pushy person you will ever meet but I did not leave these people alone. I called them every day to explain how desperate I was and begged to get her in sooner. They were very nice and promised they would see her ASAP but they just didn’t have an appointment available yet.

In the meantime, a friend gave me another recommendation. She referred us to another place that sounded very similar to where I was trying to get in.  I called and got an appointment right away (maybe that should have told me something but at the time I couldn’t think straight).

I picked Amanda up early from school one day and drove her to the appointment. I kept looking at her in the car. She looked terrible and wouldn’t speak to me except to say she did not want to go to this place. As we walked up to the building there were a few girls standing outside the building who were smoking cigarettes and staring us down as we walked in. I wasn’t getting a good feeling. We walked into a very sterile looking office and they shuffled us from therapist to therapist who were all very cold. It felt like a factory. They gave Amanda strict instructions for DAILY counseling and homework. When we were done and walking out, Amanda screamed at me that she hated this place and would never go back. I honestly didn’t disagree with her but I was at my wits end. I had no idea what to do.

We went home and Amanda ran straight to her room. I fell onto the couch and just cried. I really did not know how to help my daughter and I felt lost, afraid, and very alone. I did not think I could fix this and it was terrifying. When I wrote about the blackout a while back, I said that it was my first rock bottom moment. Well, this was my second. I was truly scared and I couldn’t believe what was happening. A few minutes later, Amanda walked into the room and saw me crying. She looked at me and I believe this was her “Aha” moment. She sat down and cried and apologized to me. Then we talked for a while. She admitted that she needed help and I promised to do it in a way that was comfortable for her. We made a deal that we would try to keep it together until the original place had an opening for her, and then she would go with an open mind.

A week later they finally called and we went to meet with them. When I walked in, I felt a little hopeful for the first time. It was such a homey, pretty environment and we were made to feel so comfortable. They explained their philosophy and how they would help Amanda to help herself. Amanda had one therapist that she would see once a week and we would do group therapy together, also once a week. I felt like they understood what was going on with her and we were finally on the right path.

We were on the right path – but there was no quick fix. It was a process and it took a while but Amanda really worked at it. I also learned in our group therapy the right way to help her. Little by little I saw her coming out of her “dark period”. This is what I mean when I say that therapy saved her. Over the next year, she became a new person.  Not only was my old Amanda back, but she was better than ever.  Her grades are great, she looks healthy and amazing, she is happy, she has a fabulous group of friends, and she has a job that has done wonders for her.  I said before that she always had a knack for fashion.  She got a job in a local clothing store “Kids at Heart” and she loves it.  She is doing what she loves and what she is good at. It has given her amazing confidence.

I am beyond proud of her and how far she has come.  I am proud of both my girls. Life threw them the worst curveball and they are both thriving. Amanda is starting her senior year of high school and she is applying to colleges. A few years ago I didn’t even know if that would be a possibility. It is certainly not how I wanted it, but this has made her a much stronger person and I believe that will serve her well in the future. I know that Howie would be so happy with the amazing people our girls are becoming.

So Kelly Clarkson I agree, “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger”, but it’s a tough road to get there!

 

Kids Will Be Kids (And Sometimes Adults Will Be Kids)

When I was 16 my friend Laura’s mom passed away from complications from Lupus.  We weren’t the closest friends but we were friends.  I am sure that her mom was sick before we were 16 but that is the age that comes to mind for me. I remember her Sweet 16 being the day after mine, and if I remember correctly she had moved the date up because her mom wasn’t doing well. She passed away shortly after that.

We lost contact probably when we went to college. All these years later, she and I are now Facebook friends.  She seems happily married with beautiful children.  A few weeks ago, she commented on one of my blogs that I posted on Facebook.  It was such a nice comment and I was so touched.  This got me thinking about her losing her mom when we were kids, and about my kids losing their dad now. About all kids that lose a parent. About how other kids handle things and react to them, and adults as well. And about how times are so different.

It can be hard to remember how you felt about something from when you were 16.  I am trying to remember how I felt and how I acted when Laura’s mom died.. All I remember is feeling bad for her around the time of our Sweet 16’s.  I remember thinking how hard it must be to celebrate when something like that is going on in your life. I also remember her looking happy that day and having a good time.  But that’s it. I don’t remember saying anything to her when her mom died.  I don’t remember paying a shiva call. I might have and I hope I did, but I don’t remember. And if I didn’t, I actually feel bad about it now. I texted her today to tell her that I am writing about this. She told me that her house was robbed two days after her Sweet 16 – while they were visiting her mom in the hospital! And then her father passed away when she was 19. I can’t even imagine how tough that all must have been for her. But it is crazy to me that I didn’t know these things.

I was 16 and still pretty much a kid back then, but looking back now as an adult I can’t believe how clueless I was.  I can’t help thinking that I should have been nicer, done more etc.. I also wonder if her closest friends did more for her, were more supportive. Then I think about my kids when Howie died.  They were much younger, only 10 and 12, but they both had friends that were really good to them. They came to sit shiva often, brought them little presents, and were just there for them – as much as kids that age can be.  I think a large part of it was their parents being so good to me, so the kids were led by example.  I also think it was a different time back in the 80’s when Laura’s mom died. There was no social media, you didn’t always know everything that was going on with everyone. Plus our parents were different, they weren’t as involved as we are now.

But as time goes on, life goes back to normal for everyone around us. This is when my girls would sometimes get upset about things their friends did or said.  I just want to make it clear that nothing has been done purposely or in a mean way. Their friends just might not understand that their dad’s death affects my girls (or anyone else in this situation) every single day in all kinds of ways. So on Father’s Day when 500 pictures pop up on Instagram of everyone’s dads and how much they love them, it does bother them.  Or when they talk about all the fun things they did on vacation with their dads.  Or when it may be harder for one of my girls to do something because they only have one parent, and friends aren’t that understanding. Kids are kids and they are not always sensitive. Teenagers maybe even less so. So unless it’s something terrible, I have just explained to my girls that they probably don’t realize what they are doing and they do not mean them any harm.

But I do expect a little more from adults around my kids. While for the most part people have been more than kind, there are those who just don’t think.  My girls have been pointed at and stared at often, especially in the beginning. This was so disturbing to them. There was one instance when Amanda was in the office of her middle school waiting for me to pick her up.  There was a couple in the office waiting for their appointment.  One of them motioned towards Amanda and said “that’s the girl whose father died” loud enough for Amanda to hear.  She came out of school crying. I wanted to kill them. I called the school to find out who they were but they said they didn’t know (I have a feeling they just didn’t want to tell me).

One of my best friend’s lost her dad when she was twelve.  I did not know her then, but there has been no one more understanding of my girls and their feelings than she is. I’m sure it is because she has been there. I hope that one day my girls will be the same way if they are ever in that situation. And as for me – I have learned to be a lot more understanding than when I was 16. 🙂

 

 

 

Therapy


Some people don’t believe in therapy. Some people are afraid of it. Some people just don’t understand it. I might have been in one of those categories a long time ago. But that changed for me about 20 years ago when Howie and I had fertility issues. It took a long time and a few rounds of in vitro before our girls were born. I had a very hard time dealing with this back then. My mother in law suggested talking to a therapist that she had heard was really good. I met with her and I found her so helpful. I saw her for a few years but when life was a little more settled I stopped going.

A week or so after Howie died my mother answered my phone while I was out one day and told me that my old therapist called. She had heard about Howie and she was reaching out to me to see how I was doing.  It was so thoughtful. She asked if I wanted to come in and talk to her. I absolutely did and she squeezed me in the following day. After that I started seeing her regularly.

I am certainly not trying to preach to anyone. Everyone is different. But going to therapy at that time really helped me get through those horrible first few months. She made me realize that everyone has to get through things in their own way and in their own time. That I needed to do what I felt was right for myself and my girls. That is what I tried to do and still do. But ugh – about 8 months later she told me she was retiring. She actually said I was the patient she was dreading telling the most. This was obviously upsetting. I tried someone new but it wasn’t the right fit so I just stopped therapy, but I did miss it

A couple of years later I felt I really needed someone again. After a few tries I finally found another therapist that I love. I went regularly for a while but now just go as needed, which seems to be getting less frequently :).

My girls have also gone to therapy. Different therapists for their different needs. And where Amanda is concerned, I believe it saved her. She has given me permission to tell her story and I will be doing that soon…

So How do I Answer that Question?

For my friends at my table at Lithos the other night… thanks for the suggestion 🙂

There is a lot of awkwardness that goes along with being a widow(er). It is awkward to be around all of your married friends when you are alone. It is awkward to be the fifth wheel at a dinner table. It is awkward to check into a hotel as “one adult and two children”. It is even awkward to be the only single adult at a holiday dinner with your own family. Yes, even after all this time, it still is. But this is my life so I deal with it.

What I still can’t get used to are the questions when I meet someone for the first time – “Are you married?”, “Are you divorced?”, “Where is your husband?” or anything similar to that.  They are normal questions – people making conversation – but I dread them.

The other night I was at a friend’s birthday dinner – all women, and all married except for me. A bunch of us were sitting at a table.  I got up for a minute and when I was walking back towards the table I saw a man standing there talking to my girlfriends.  I assume he was asking if they were married because when I sat back down he asked me if I was married or divorced.  Ugh I knew the awkwardness was coming. My response was “neither”.  He looked  a little confused. I guess he thought maybe I was just going through a divorce or something like that because he then said “Yea I know divorce sucks – I’ve been there”. So I just said “I’m not divorced”.  He either thought I was a little strange or just a bitch because he then said it was nice to meet us and walked away. My friends all looked at me and asked if things like that make me uncomfortable.  My answer was yes.

Then we talked about it for a little while. With using this situation as an example – the way I responded was definitely vague, and a I’m sure I seemed a little standoffish.  But let’s say I responded “I’m a widow” or “My husband passed away” – I think in this situation it would have been even more uncomfortable. First of all, it would have brought down the fun, happy vibe of the evening – nobody wants to hear, and I don’t want to talk about, this terrible tragedy in my life all the time. Second of all, I would have shocked this poor guy and made him more uncomfortable than he already was. Believe me – no one knows quite what to say to that.

In other situations I feel like there is no other choice but to just come out and say it. I really hate doing it because that is when I make other people uncomfortable. I was once using a new hairdresser for the first time and while we were just making small talk she asked me about my husband.  In that case there was nothing to say but the truth. She actually got tears in her eyes when I said that he passed away. I made her upset and that made me feel terrible. Over the years, I have gotten horrified reactions, sad reactions, and those who apologize over and over for having even asked. I get it – the old Stacy probably wouldn’t have known how to react to that either.  Nobody is doing anything wrong, it is just very awkward for both sides of the conversation.

So I still do not know “how do I answer that question?”  I just take each case as it comes and say what I think will work best, cringing the whole time. So if anyone who may have been through this has any advice on the subject – feel free to comment.  I’m always open to suggestions 🙂

To Vacation or Not to Vacation?

Recently I have been looking at other “widow blogs” out of curiosity. I am so new to this blogging thing and wanted to see how others do it.  I found a few that I really like. I was reading one post this morning where the woman listed things she wished they had done differently before her husband died. One thing that got my attention was that she wished they had vacationed more. It got me thinking…

Nobody loved a beach vacation more than Howie.  It is also one of my favorite things.  It was something we completely had in common. We didn’t travel the world together – I have never even been to Europe. That was something I thought we would do as we got older, maybe once the girls were in college.  But we did go to a lot of beaches together!

Some people are savers. Howie was not.  He was not irresponsible with money, but just liked to live life.  He liked nice restaurants, nice cars (nothing crazy) and vacations. Funny, the expression “live life to the fullest” keeps popping into my head.  I guess that is what he did. I didn’t realize until now how much that really meant.

Our first beach vacation was while we were still dating – I remember thinking we were going to get engaged on that trip – which we did not! Then later our honeymoon. We took a couple after we were married but before the girls were born.  Then after we had them, little by little we started going on vacation even more often. We rented a beach house with another family, we went on group trips with a bunch of families, other trips with just one family, and sometimes just the four of us. The last few years we would go to Florida in February, a beach resort in April, and down to the beach in NJ for a few days at the end of the summer (I am sorry NJ people – this NY girl still cannot utter the expression “down the shore”.)

We did not travel very extravagantly and always tried to get the best deals we could, but obviously these trips cost money.  Every time we were thinking about booking one, we would always say “maybe we don’t need this”, but 90% of the time would book it anyway. So now that Howie is gone, would I have a little bit more money if we hadn’t gone on all those vacations? Yes probably. But I wouldn’t have traded them for the world. Those are the most amazing memories I have. Just the four of us on the beach and going for family dinners, or with our friends and seeing the kids all playing together – that is priceless to me. They are also the funniest memories I have.  Amy and Jason (our friends that we traveled with the most) and I still laugh hysterically  over some of the crazy things that happened on those trips. I also took a lot of pictures on vacations (I am not such a picture taker in real life) and it is so nice to go back and look at them now.

So to vacation or not to vacation? I would never advise anyone to go into debt or anything, but when you have the chance – take the vacation. Not just because you never know when something tragic might happen – but because they are fun and you will create memories that you will have forever.

I still love beach vacations and do still try to take the girls when we can – although I don’t think either one of them has inherited our love for the beach (which I do not understand)! But it is truly my favorite place to be and if I do end up with someone else one day, that is definitely in my criteria 😉

 

 

 

 

 

Carpools

Carpooling is a pain in the ass – not just for me – for everyone (at least I think so).  Just when you have to make dinner, or want to go to sleep, or need to help one of your kids with homework, etc. – you need to stop what you are doing, get in the car, pick up a bunch of kids and drop them somewhere – and try to be on time! Dance, Hebrew School, sports (sports for other kids – my girly girls do not play sports!), parties, or a million other things that they need to go to, we have to get them there. And depending on where you are going and who you need to pick up, it can literally take an hour.  But it is part of our job as moms (and dads) and we all happily do it. It’s for our kids. How else would they get to where they need to be??

Carpooling as a single person takes on a whole new meaning. I believe this goes for all single people – widowed/divorced whatever. But for widows/widowers it’s even a little harder – this is seven days a week – 365 days a year.

A single person cannot ask their spouse to pick someone up on their way home from work. They have no one to turn to to ask to go out when there is a late night pick up and are just really tired.  Or when they aren’t feeling great. Or especially when their other child needs to be driven at the same time.  It’s all up to one person.

I have had a lot of great experiences with my carpool situation since Howie passed away. During both of my girls’ Bat Mitzvah years, they were literally going to late night parties every weekend – sometimes two or three of them in one weekend!  There are large neighborhood carpools that are created. There are excel spreadsheets, charts, graphs, signed contracts (ok I’m exaggerating) to arrange who is driving and when. This was just starting for Amanda when Howie passed away. I know that one of the moms sent an email in our carpool suggesting that I be exempt from late night driving, and the others all agreed.  I was so appreciative of that. Not only was I in no state to be driving around a bunch of girls at midnight, I also had a ten year old at home sleeping with no one there to watch her if I had to go out.  I did drive to the parties when I could.  They usually started around 7 PM, and at that point I pretty much had zero social life so it wasn’t too hard for me.  When Lily’s year came around, I was in a little bit of a better state of mind. And also Amanda was 15 and able to stay alone. Lily’s carpool was a whole different set of moms, but they were just as good to me as the other ones were. I did late night pick up once or twice but for the most part they said it wasn’t necessary for me to do it.  One of them told me that her husband did not like the idea of Lily and I walking into an empty house late at night by ourselves so he would always do it for me if he was able to. Sooooo nice! I am still so thankful to both carpools for helping me out the way they did.  It saved me a lot of stress and aggravation at the time.

Some people are really super thoughtful.  But some I guess are not, or don’t think about someone else’s situation all the time.  I understand that – we are all living our own busy lives and no one can worry about me (or any single person) in all instances. I also carry around a lot of guilt about my kids’ situation so I will sometimes turn myself inside out to do whatever I can for them and not ask anyone to do it for me. So there have been plenty of times where I am running around like a lunatic trying to get both of my kids somewhere at the same time. I have had to cut evening plans short, or cancel altogether because I needed to drive a carpool.  Yes I understand that all parents have to do that sometimes.  But what married people may not understand is that while changing plans for carpooling can be an inconvenience for them, it can do damage to a single person’s social life. Not many people want to put up with dating someone that only has a 2-3 hour window to go out because they need to carpool all the time. It’s not as if I go out that much – far from it. So when I do have plans and this happens, it can be very frustrating. Also, my girls are teenagers now so they go out and stay out a little later. Sometimes I am tired and just don’t have the energy to run out late. Like I said in the beginning, I can’t turn to a husband and ask him to do it when I don’t feel like it. I have heard people (married couples) actually say that they just don’t do night time pick up because they like to go to bed early.  Really??? I so enjoy waiting up at night to go pick up a bunch of screaming girls! I wouldn’t rather be sleeping!

Ok I’ll stop my rant now :).  Was it a rant?? I didn’t mean it to be but like I said, it can be frustrating to be in those situations. So if anyone reading this knows someone in a similar situation to mine, drive for her sometimes if you can. It’s just a little something that will make her life a little easier. But the good news is that for the most part, people have been so kind and helpful, and that does sometimes make up for the ones that may not be. And the even better news is that Amanda recently got her license.  I no longer have to carpool her around and she even sometimes drives Lily for me :).

You see, as time goes on life gets a little better.  Sometimes it’s just the smallest things…