A Tribute To A Trio Of Terrific Moms

I have been told over the years that there is nothing more powerful than the love a mother can have for her child.  We see it in all walks of life from mama bears protecting their young to moms who would do anything to ensure the happiness of their children.  It’s a strong love and one that I hope to experience some day.

For now, I choose to honor three of the most amazing mothers I have ever known.

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Adventures In Dog Watching

While my mother is out of town, I am the lucky one who gets to stay with Jake. I relish the days with the little fur ball since I rarely get one-on-one time with him since I moved out five years ago. He eagerly greets me when I come home, snuggles at night, and gives me the biggest guilt trip in the world when I have to leave him.

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A History Of Father-Daughter Dates

They say that a woman’s relationship with her father sets up the course for all of her relationships with men.  It makes sense.  The first relationship with the opposite sex that a girl knows is with her dad, so it would no doubt teach her what that relationship is supposed to look like.  Unfortunately, not every father-daughter pair is a healthy one.

Many women, myself included, suffer from “daddy issues.”  These are the underlying characteristics that most people blame for a woman having screwed-up relationships with men.  They show up in the form of failure to trust, excessive flirting, eagerness to please, clinginess, and an attraction to much older men.  I should know, I’ve exhibited all of those traits at one point or another.

My relationship with my biological father ended abruptly when I was a freshman in high school.  After dealing with his alcoholic wife who began to treat me like an inconvenience rather than a member of the family, I decided to stop my every-other-weekend visits during what I still consider to be one of the worst nights of my life.  My biological father let me go.  His contact with me soon disappeared.  He believed that I should be the one to maintain the relationship; I questioned when the roles of parent and child had reversed.

The good news is, I had a spare dad.

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A Four-Legged Nut Job

I am someone who lives alone.  When I walk through the door at the end of a day, there is no one there to greet me or cook me dinner or draw me a bath.  Recently, I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a pet.  Unfortunately, my nickel-and-diming property management believes that an animal equates to an additional monthly pet rent.

Not a deposit, a pet rent.

Needless to say, I find this completely ridiculous and have shelved any attempts to cure my solitary home life.  In the meantime, I rely on weekly visits to the family dog for licks on the nose and cuddles on the couch.

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What I Learned From A Two-Year Old At SeaWorld

Check the bottom of the post for info on how to enter the Blog-Warming Giveaway, Take 2.

Last week, seven adults took one two-year old to SeaWorld San Diego.

Even if the trainers don’t get into the water anymore, it’s still amazing to see a whale jump out of the water!

My nephew had never been to the place of Shamu and dolphin shows and he enjoyed every minute of it.  As his auntie, I learned a lot about what it takes to keep a munchkin happy and entertained during an all-day theme park adventure.

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Fun In The Sunday

With a classic case of pink nose on half of the group, my family and I are back from our wonderful vacation in San Diego and about to keep the fun going with a picnic on the beach.  I forgot how much fun it is to be around these crazy people!

Lots of laughs, lots of love.

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Black Sheep Are People Too

I am the black sheep of my family.  Part of me is proud of this identity.  Another part wishes things were different, particularly with my siblings.

I’ve never really felt like I fit in with any of my relatives.  Other than my mom, I often feel like I don’t have anything in common with anyone and that the person they know is only a superficial version of myself.

The characteristics that set me apart from my family are some of the things I am the most proud of.  I was the first/only one in the family to go away to school.  The first one to get a Bachelor’s degree.  The only one to have a Master’s.  The only one not married, engaged, or a playboy.  The only one who was never baptized.  The one who gets along with everyone.  The only one who tells people the truth even if it might hurt them.  The one with the most friends on Facebook (not that it means anything, I just like having that title).  I support the ACLU and equal rights for everyone.

Sure, I know my family loves me, but the thing is, they don’t get me.  I’m sure to them, I am a dirty liberal who went to Berkeley and dates outside her race—oh, the horror—and I would not be surprised if they all questioned whether or not I was a lesbian because I haven’t been in a relationship in over five years and most of them have never met the men that I have dated.  Trust me, that’s more for their protection than my family’s.

I do go to the annual Christmas parties or celebrations and I feel like I have to be on my best behavior.  Sure, everyone has different personas based on their audience; few people act the same way around their parents as they do their friends or lovers.  It’s just how it is.  But with my family, even my siblings who I feel I should be close with, I feel like a complete outcast.

My eldest brother, Darrin, and I get along great.  We play off each other well when it comes to joking about anything and everything.  Though we are quite the pair when we are physically in the same place, we have never been what I would call close.  Being almost a decade older than myself, our lives have never exactly been in the same place at the same time.  I have fond memories from my childhood of him teaching me to say my ABCs backwards (a trick I still have), making me watch The A-Team, and skating around the local roller rink where he worked.  Unfortunately, as adults we have been reduced to just closer than strangers.  And the thing is, we have become closer since he married Samantha, but they are much more bonded to her side of the family than his.  Not that I blame her.  Ours is quite the nutty bunch.

I have alway looked up to my older sister, Bree.  When I was a kid, I would spend hours going through her yearbooks, watching her favorite shows, and doing anything I could to be more like her.  A part of me still does want to be like her, if only for her and I to be as close as I’ve always wanted.  I’m sure, I was quite the annoying younger sister, but I worshipped her.  Even when she would trick me into doing her chores, she could do no wrong in my eyes.  As an adult, we are now separated by more than just 3,000 or so miles.  We have become completely different people (she would make the perfect political candidate’s wife who excels at maintaining the perfect public image while I would be a liability for my outspoken ways and willingness to dismiss the opinions of others) and even though we do not share much common ideology, I still long for the day when I can feel like we are sisters rather than women who share DNA.

When it comes to Zack, I will wait for him to come back down from the cloud of fantasy that he lives on.  He has always believed that in order to be cool, you have to worry about how people perceive you.  To one extent, I believe he’s right.  However, I don’t believe that the type of people who will worship you in that regard are really the type of people you want to worship you.

Then there’s my youngest brother.  Sadly, I have not had a regular relationship with him since before he was two years old due to the previously mentioned falling out with the sperm donor.  I hope that one day this will change because when I do see him, I fear that he and I share the same feelings of being out-of-place among the rest of the clan.  I do hope that when we are both adults, we will have the opportunity to discover who we are and I can explain to him that the reasons I didn’t have a relationship with him had absolutely nothing to do with him.

Maybe it is normal to feel out of sync with one’s own family.  Or maybe I’m not quite the black sheep I believe myself to be.

Perhaps I am a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Family Shrub

Today, while mindlessly flipping through the channels, I stumbled across A Family is a Family is a Family, a documentary short that Rosie O’Donnell executive produced and stars in.  When I first heard about this project, I was quick to dismiss it as another one of the former Queen of Nice’s ultra-liberal, shove-it-down-your-throat agendas.

Boy, was I wrong.

This is one of the most pure and honest portrayals of what it is to be a family.  The documentary tells little stories about a variety of families and has children under the age of ten describing their families or what it is to be a family in a manner reminiscent of Kids Say the Darndest Things.  The producers did a fantastic job capturing all different types of families: society’s “traditional” mom/dad/kids, mixed race, single-parent, adopted children, same-sex couples, surrogates, you name it.

And it got me thinking.  I have, what one would consider a complicated family structure.  Please see Exhibit A.

Yes, that is the make-up of my immediate family.  For clarity’s sake, let me do a little explaining.  My mother was married to my biological father—who I have had roughly no contact with since I was fourteen years old, despite being at the same family events at least once a year—before she met the man I consider my dad when I was about five or six.  The SD decided it would be easier to have no contact with me as it put a strain on his third marriage, but that’s a topic for another post.  My dad was the one that was there for all the important milestones: graduations, proms, getting my driver’s license, moving me into my dorm room/first apartment.  He has two sons: one (Son #1, not one of my brothers—we do not get along) from his former marriage and another(Brother #2—we were raised together after his mother passed away and he came to live with us) from a relationship he once had.  He and my mother dated off-and-on for years and though they haven’t been together since I was in high school, they are still the best of friends and we celebrate all the major holidays together as a family.

When I was a kid, I never understood why my mother was the stepmom of my oldest siblings and why their mother, Chrissy, was not.  Eventually, my mom told Chrissy to just go with it when I referred to her as my stepmother.  Decades later, I still consider Chrissy my stepmother and whenever she can steal herself away from the beautiful island of Maui and come to the mainland, it is wonderful to see her.

I have been referred to more than once as the “glue” that keeps the family together.  I’m the no-drama one.  And the funny one, or so I’m told.  Much to my dismay, my siblings and I are not that close, but when we do manage to get together, I enjoy each and every minute with them.  I love them and have tried to make things different, but when there are 8-, 9-, or 12-years difference between siblings, it’s hard to connect when you’re not really in the same place in life.  Brother #2, Zack  is the perpetual “cool guy” who gets all the ladies and who people fawn all over when he walks into a room.  We may be less than a year apart, but, because I simply don’t care what other people think of me, I do not have enough cool stock to be worthy of his affection minus the few times a year when we actually see each other.

Confused yet?  That’s the thing about families, you never know where anyone belongs unless you are right in the thick of things.

I guess the point that I’m trying to make about families is the same as the documentary: they all come in different forms, but family is the joining of people who love and cherish one another regardless of marriage, gender, biology, or race.

At the end of the day the Beatles had it right all along: love is all there is.