My kids have had it lucky

18 Mar

Something on the internet caught my eye.  It talked of a 1979 first grade readiness checklist – and how one of those things was “Can he travel alone in the neighborhood (four to eight blocks) to store, school, playground, or to a friend’s home?”

This, of course, was followed by a slew of “I wouldn’t let my 7 yr old walk down the block alone!” and “If I tried that, someone would report me to CPS!” type comments.

I was a first grader in 1979.  I wasn’t allowed off the block alone – I was tiny for my age and my mom was afraid cars wouldn’t see me.  I could go places with my brothers (who were 10 and 9 when I was 7) and eventually, I was tall enough to leave the block alone or with my best friend in tow.

And so it was.

When we moved to a small town in Michigan, we decided to let the boys – who were in fourth and second grade – walk to school by themselves.  We had established a route that they weren’t to stray from, told them what to do if they thought a stranger was following them (go into a local store and explain this and ask to call home.) By 9 a.m. the first day, I had heard from three friends about how they saw my boys walking.  They loved the freedom and didn’t test our trust.  Nothing bad happened.  Yet so many of my friends who lived elsewhere were astounded that I’d let them walk to school.

Except if you lived in town, walking to school was normal.  You’d see herds of kids, some with parents, walking home.  There was the story of the person who saw her neighbor’s girls talking to a “stranger” in a car and immediately went over to investigate – only to meet the girls aunt.  But it was that sort of thing – everyone looking out for everyone – that made it safe for our kids to do the once normal thing of walking to school.  They could run up to the store that was a few blocks away, or walk down to the library.  So many times, I would wave my trio off as they walked the two blocks to the library.

And then we moved to Dublin. There, it was completely normal for everyone to make their way to school by foot or bike or scooter or bus or tram.  At 11 years old, my daughter was getting herself to and from school a mile away, and Maura knew how to travel on the Luas (Dublin’s light rail).  We had a corner store down the block, and another four blocks away.  During a school meeting for our 4th year students (think high school sophomores) we were told not to drive our boys anywhere, they could make their own way to different off-site venues, we shouldn’t coddle them – they had to learn some time.

I’ll admit, I didn’t go about this easily.  My husband talked me off various ledges as the kids ran out the door towards these ever-expanding freedoms.  There was one moment when we first moved to Ireland where I realized I’d set my sons off on their own in a foreign country.

They survived.

I survived.

It’s a growing process, one I’m glad they’ve gotten to experience.  In a way, they’ve been able to experience part of my own childhood, those freedoms that these days seem hard to come by.  Doesn’t mean I don’t worry – I am Anxietywoman, I’m going to do that anyway.  But I have the security of knowing that every other step of the way, they’ve managed.  In this case, it’s better to let go gradually than do the proverbial “rip the band aid off” routine.

Meanwhile, Maura’s still not leaving my sight.  I will be helicoptering around her for a long time.


Teen girl on airport tram, after her first solo flight


That time my teen lost her phone

13 Mar

This week brought terrible news – teen girl lost her phone.  She didn’t know where it was.  “Maybe I left it on the bus.” she said.  “I know I didn’t take it to guitar lessons.”

I tried calling it.  It rang, but not in our house.  Plans were made to check the school’s lost and founds.

The next morning, I get a text from my daughter’s phone –

“Hi, I found this phone in the street and am trying to get it back to its owner”

My first thought was “Hooray!  Good people!”

Then I realized I’d have to go get it from a stranger. A stranger who started texting me the address where he found it.  And misspelled words.  I’d have to get the phone from a completely unknown person who couldn’t spell and might actually want my address.

Needless to say, my brain went from “Good people!” to “Psychopath serial killer trying to lure me to my doom!” in about 2.5 seconds.

So I called my husband, and tried to explain to the man why he had to go pick up his daughter’s phone without sounding like a crazy woman.  He told me to have the person text him the address.  The person then texted me the address instead.

A very familiar looking address.

I suddenly felt sheepish.  The person I instantly put into the serial killer who lures people to their deaths in the guise of a nice person trying to return their phone….

…was one of my next-door neighbors, whose biggest crime to date has been talking too loudly one night while sitting on their patio.

Remind me to not even start watching “Dexter”.  I don’t think my brain could handle it.


I am not defined by…oh who am I kidding?

12 Mar

“I am not defined by my [fill in the blank]!”

It’s a lovely, empowering, and dare I say it – inspirational saying.  THIS does not define me!  I am so much more than THIS!



…not quite.

Everything that has happened in my life up to this very moment has had a hand in creating me, defining me, refining me.  All those things are in me, are a part of me, and explains why I am the person I am right now.  I have been shaped by them, they have crept into my DNA, and sometimes have an unspoken vote in what I do – or at least, why I do things.

I am not defined by motherhood, and yet, I embrace the title of Mom wholeheartedly. I am not defined by Maura’s special needs, but it is part of my daily life, something I make even the smallest of decisions based upon..  I am not defined by my skin condition, but my psoriasis and I have lived with each other for my entire life.  I am not defined by the little 12 year old girl I was, who was snubbed by an entire 7th grade class of girls at the same time my parents were separating – but I would be a liar if I said it didn’t affect me and change me.  I am not defined by my anxiety, but I am smart enough to admit that sometimes it controls me.  I am not defined by my artistic side, but it is part of my DNA and to deny it would be like denying my right hand. I am not defined by my blog, but it is my truths as I see it at the time.

I am not defined by these things, and yet, they are part of my definition.  They have all played a part in my refining process, and molded me into the person I am right now.

My definition will be added to as my life goes on, I can embrace that fact.

I am defined by motherhood.

I am defined by Maura’s special needs.

I am defined by my psoriasis.

I am defined by past hurts and traumas.

I am defined by anxiety.

I am defined by music and art.

I am defined by writing.

They make me Me, and I accept them all in my definition.







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