When I Don’t Like Myself

My Sister in Law and her family were not able to go to dinner with us on the night of my daughters graduation, so we went to dinner with them on Thursday, the night before. Also in attendance were my Mother in Law and her boyfriend.

Ten people.

Honoring my Daughters accomplishments and High School career, a pre college send off.

Except, did you know that my niece won the English award at her middle school moving up ceremony? And she goes to private school. And there are one hundred kids in her grade. And you know it’s private school….

And did you know that B is going to be in an Honors class next year? At private school?

And J is the BEST athlete in the whole town they live in? he pitched the game.

Now repeat all those statements about a thousand times. In my Mother in Law’s voice. Because it was not my sister or brother in law making these proclamations. Nor was it the kids themselves. It was my Mother in Law.

Ask me how many times she mentioned my daughter’s 98 average over four years of high school, including a 100.32 senior year?

How many times she mentioned my daughter’s three school tennis trophies including MVP this year, highest doubles rating in her division and numerous strong finishes?

The fact that she was allowed to take over the maximum amount of AP classes that her school allows?

It was so bad that my sister in law said to my daughter- “Sorry. I can’t say anything nice to you without my Mother jumping in to tell us how great my kids are.”

That’s how bad it was.

So for 2 hours we heard how great my niece and nephews are, and nothing about my daughter.

Which turns me into a bad person. I really wanted to say something mean about the kids. I wanted to say something mean about how they weren’t really accomplishments. How they didn’t compare to my daughters accomplishments. I was starting to get passive aggressive about the whole thing. It’s not a look I want to wear. I am not proud of myself for these feelings.

I really don’t like the person I become when my Mother in Law is around. I don’t understand why she wants to compare her grandkids. Shouldn’t we all be allowed to embrace their accomplishments without having to continually tout one over the other?

I’m going to do some sort of penance for my bad thoughts. But it will be after tomorrow’s post because I still haven’t talked about graduation yet.

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Search For: Roommate

Prolougue:  Our heroine clicked the button “Accept” and the roommate search was done.

Chapter One: When I went to college, there was one way to find a roommate- the college sent a questionnaire, we mailed it back, and a month before school began you received a name and an address. Welcome to your roommate. Now- there are all sorts of ways. Most of my daughter’s friends found roommates through their schools official Facebook page. Some ended up with friends of friends, or classmates from their High School.

Chapter Two: My Daughter’s school does it a little differently. Students fill out an online questionnaire and are then matched with about 30 people based on their answers to certain questions. You are then supposed to reach out to the people that interest you.

Chapter Three: Stress: OMG emailing total strangers? What do I say?

Chapter Four: You have the ability to write a “profile” a short paragraph that basically describes who you are. This is not mandatory, but my daughter did write one. She also had the expectation that the person she would room with would also have written one. So immediately upon receiving her matches, she was able to eliminate about fifteen names. She also eliminated anyone who appeared to be a partier- just not her thing.

Chapter Five: Stress- How do I know what answers are red flags?

Chapter Six: My daughter ended up sending notes to about ten people. Five responded. This annoyed her a little that some people didn’t even have the courtesy to respond back. Now, they could have had an issue with the system, some kids did. But really- how do you not respond at all…

Chapter Seven: Stress- What’s wrong with me that people don’t want to reply? Am I too uptight? Too urban? Too perky? Not perky enough? Do I look like a nerd?

Chapter Eight: She ruled out one girl right away. She just knew the fit wasn’t right.

Chapter Nine: Stress: Is she sure that girl wasn’t right? Am I basing it on that her social media profile pictures would not correspond with the person that I am?

Chapter Ten: Continual conversation with one girl who seems more social than her. Girl seems nice.

Chapter Eleven: Stress. This girl is really into the sorority thing. She almost went to Tulane and Ole Miss. Will she be too outgoing?

Chapter Twelve: Rule out nice, but probably too outgoing girl and concentrate on other three. All seem nice. All have much in common with our heroine.  Two of the three want to be lawyers. All on the history/government track.

Chapter Thirteen: Stress. One girl has almost no social media profile. Is this a red flag? Did she scrub her profile? Does she have a secret profile? Is she just out of the loop of a teenage girl? My gut instinct is saying No. But we’re oddly similar…

Chapter Fourteen: Our heroine has come to the realization that any of these three girls would be fine, even the low social media one. But she is still unsure if any one of them is better than another.

Chapter Fifteen: I, the Mother, is starting to get stressed because the deadline for a roommate is Monday and I don’t want her to get a completely random roommate. I want her to decide, because there’s that quote- the devil you know…. With these girls she already has an idea….do you want the great unknown?

Chapter Sixteen: My Mother is driving me crazy. Doesn’t she know how stressful this is?

Chapter Seventeen: One of the girls has popped the question: Will you be my roommate?

Chapter Eighteen: Stress. This girl seems fine. There’s no reason not to room with her. Why is it so daunting saying Ok? Maybe because I just got home from prom and I’ve been up over 24 hours straight and my feet hurt? My makeup stayed on great though.

Chapter Nineteen: Mother perspective- OMG just tell the girl yes or no. But remember tick tick tick

Chapter Twenty: Will literally live with Charles Manson and Ted Bundy clones just to get away from the crazy maternal roommate I have now

Chapter Twenty One: Did you accept her yet? It’s not fair, not letting her know.

Chapter Twenty Two: *&%$#@

Chapter Twenty Three: I make some sort of hand gesture to my daughter.

Final Chapter: A roommate is chosen- a very smart government major who wants to be a lawyer and is from Florida.

The End

But don’t worry: Sequel to follow….

Take it to the Limit

How honest should we be with one another? I ask this often and I sweat this is not an entire post about this subject: it’s going to lead to something else.

When you are at someone’s house and they serve you food, do you immediately say that it is salty? More than once? When asked how the meat is, do you reply “A little tough.”

Think about that- do you tell your host that the food isn’t good?

Now let’s add another variable: What if the cook is your Mother, and the one making the statement about the food is your Father in Law?

FYI- true story about my Father’s Day meal and the food my Mom took three hours to prepare. Let’s see, at the meal my FIL also told my Dad that the way he was treating his cancer was wrong. (No- my FIL is not a Doctor, nor is he in the science field at all. And no, he did not have cancer- so yeah- no frame of reference).

To add to his conversation, he also yelled at me. Nastily. Why? you ask. Because while we were at the table eating dinner I turned off the TV in the living room. He yelled  “Why did you turn that off? I was watching.” Nasty. In front of my parents- and you know- that doesn’t put them in an odd position at all. You know, my parents who can’t cook a meal nor know how to treat an illness…

Last night I had the pleasure of eating dinner with my Mother in Law. Look up passive aggressive in the dictionary- her picture is there…. She proceeded to tell me that no one ever tells her when my daughter wins anything. First off- usually posted on Facebook, which she has. Second off- I know my husband forwards her the pictures. And she’s going on and on about how she’s only the Grandmother, why should she know anything. To which I said to my Husband (rather loudly) “You don’t tell your Mother anything?” thereby extricating myself from the situation.

I also heard that the weather in Ithaca NY is the same exact weather as Washington DC because my MIL is a little (ha) annoyed that my Daughter is going to a Catholic college and though she is all accolades, she’s writhing that my daughter didn’t choose another college….(FYI- she didn’t talk to me for a month and a half after my daughter chose her school)

So Friday, which is already going to be emotionally laden for me will be made worse by the onslaught of family at the table. Good times. I know I am whining, but I don’t have the energy to deal with pettiness this week. I just want to watch my daughter graduate, and take pride in her accomplishments.

Why does family make it so difficult?

 

Prama

My Daughter has Prom tonight.

Well, actually, she is getting her make up done at 10am. Then her hair at 11. Then Pre-Prom starts at 2, and it will be a half hour cab ride to the person hosting pre prom. Need to be at school by 4pm for the busses to leave at 430.

As of now it’s like, a 65% chance of rain.

Pre prom is outside- big roof.

Prom is at a lovely place in New Jersey, with a big terrace overlooking the Hudson River.

Hence prama….

But the whole thing surrounding prom….

Some people hated prom. Others said it was the best night of their lives. Some simply do not go. What makes this night special enough to warrant a million emotions?

My Daughter hates the abstract idea of prom being something that one takes a date to. To her, it is a school dance, and therefore, as a school event, there should be no push to have this a dated event. At the beginning of Senior Year, she and her five best friends made a pact: Unless someone was in a relationship, there would be no dates. This would be their last Hurrah as a group, before they head out to various parts of the country.

Fine.

Except the first prama came when one girl wanted to bring a date- a boy she did not know that well…

In the end, she’s not bringing a date. But the angst….the ridiculous conversations….the prama….

Tables. Who is going to sit where and with whom. That was a fun ten days…

Where are they going to do pre prom? How many pre proms are they going to?

Where are they changing after prom for the after prom….

Do you want to go in the talk of who is renting a space for after prom? Which diner they will go to at 6am?

Prama.

And the anxiety has already begun in my house as my daughter is one very taut nerve. If you want to know why parents lose their cool, it’s events like this….

I’m sipping tea, listening to the jackhammers in the background, knowing that that will be the least annoying sound I hear today. I’m sure the whining will be much worse….

But I also know that at 4pm, when my daughter is standing under golf umbrellas with her friends, and they all look so pretty, and their smiles will be flashing, I will stand next to by friend S, and we will tear up a little, and we will hug each other. We will smile and laugh and cry. We will watch our incredible daughters head off to, hopefully, an incredible night under the stars.

I’m sure that Billy Joel tune will ring in my ears- “Now before we end, and then begin, we’ll drink a toast to how it’s been, I’ve loved these days.”

 

My Friend

This week is going to be about reflection and memories, because I’m in that sort of mood.

My daughter has been in the NYC Public School system since she entered Pre-K at age 3. I remember meeting many great parents that year, and we sort of formed our own little family. Around November of PreK, a new family moved into our class. I had no idea that this Mom and this little girl would become the rock of our ride through elementary school.

Last Friday I had breakfast with the Mom. We have had breakfast on the last day of school for the past fourteen years. We’ve been together through three schools. I would not have survived being a school Mom without this woman.

In Manhattan there are zoned schools for elementary, which most people attend. Middle school and High School are fairly open game. While you have the option of attending your zoned middle school, many people apply to other schools. Yes, in NYC fifth graders are applying to public schools. Standardized test grades count. Everything counts.

Our Daughters both got rejected by the Middle School they wanted. Fifth grade girls demoralized because they didn’t interview well. Yes- there’s transparency- I know exactly where my kid missed points. Shy doesn’t work well when applying to middle school… So S and I relied on one another to get us through the difficult road of bucking up our kids self esteem. When I didn’t know how to parent my kid through this, I had S to use as a sounding board. I had S to cry with. Without her, I would not have been able to get through this daunting time, nor have the energy to get my daughter through it.

And besides this particular time, S has always been there for me. We had very similar parenting strategies, so I had a safe space to explore ideas and theories and figure out how to help my child navigate puberty and friendship and high school and the whole college thing.

There was also the fun stuff. Going to school auctions. Sitting with each other at recitals, including the fourth grade recorder concert. Yeah- “Smoke on the Water” on recorder. Good times. Volunteering at Middle School events. Texting each other in meetings when someone said something particularly stupid. Cheering each other’s kids on when they did good, which was pretty often.

Today is my Thank You to S for being the best possible friend these past fourteen years. When I saw her at the coffee shop I started to tear up- I looked at her and said “This is the last last day.” I hugged her. I thought about telling my Daughter’s college that she won’t be attending and figuring out how my Daughter could transfer to the other school. I mean, how can I get my daughter through college without this Mom? What if I don’t like the other Mom’s? Who am I going to gossip with? Who am I going to laugh with? Who am I going to cry with?

Tomorrow night we will snap pictures of our daughters as they go off to their last school dance. Friday we will be passing one another tissues as we watch our daughters flip their tassels. It will be one more picture of them at a major milestone. To go with fourteen years of pictures at major milestones.

I tip my metaphorical cap to my friend S- the mother of the best friend my daughter has, and the best friend that I could ever have.

And So It Goes

Today is my daughter’s last day of classes.

Which alternately means that it’s the first day of my teary journey culminating in graduation.

When I perceived the this week’s theme, I did not envision that I would write one of my most controversial blogs ever, or that the week  would become doggate. It was supposed to be about how we treat one another- which I guess it basically was.

My daughter brought home her yearbook this week, and she allowed me to read some of the things her classmates shared. As I perused this book this week, I knew how the post’s this week would end.

As I read through I noticed a lot of “hard working” and “smart”. The NHS President thanked her for being the best Secretary, and realistically, best President, ever. But along with all the expected tributes to her intelligence and work ethic, I also noticed these:

  1. Thank you for playing Mariokart with me before school sometimes. I know you get to school early to do work, but you always took time out if I looked lonely
  2. I remember walking into a class where the desks where formed into tables. I was sitting alone and instead of joining your friends, you sat with me.
  3. Thanks for making me feel welcome to the tennis team. I was so happy that you sent me a text over the summer telling me that you would meet up with me to go to the first august practice. I was scared and you helped me out.
  4. Thanks for being best law team captain. You always helped me when I would freak out.
  5. Thanks for helping me study
  6. Thanks for proofing my papers
  7. Thanks for always answering my question no matter how stupid
  8. Thanks for being a great listener
  9. Thanks for being a great friend
  10. You have a great smile and you use it

There were more, but you get the gist. Sure, my kid works really hard. She gets good grades. She is involved in many aspects of school life. But she also took the time out to be nice. She took the time out to make sure people felt included. She tried to make people feel a little less scared. Maybe she made someone’s day just a little bit better….

I have done many stupid things in my life. I have not always been the best wife, mother, daughter or friend- my imperfections abound. But somehow, even though I feel like I continually screw up or let others down, I have managed to impart the good parts of me to my daughter. And as I have very few good parts, this is almost miracle status.

Somehow I have managed to show her how to be a decent person, who has self confidence, yet is able to be empathetic and kind. Just don’t ask me how I did it, because I have no idea….. .20190614_0736306037526881733892812.jpg

Muzzle It

Most of you have heard me speak of my dog Sally. Sally is an eight pound yorkie (we think) who is so docile squirrels and birds do not move out of her way when she walks down the street: they just sit there and continue eating whatever treat they found on the ground.

Topically, there was an issue this week. I’ve mentioned (in passing comments) that there is a dog in my building who really doesn’t like my dog. Dog A is about twenty five pounds and obviously twice the size. When I say doesn’t like I mean dog barks ferociously and makes movements towards my dog, as well as other dogs in the building. When this dog is in this mode my Sally literally just sits and looks at it- not even a bark.

This dog has exhibited this behavior as long as the dog has lived in the building. As I like dogs and understand that they are animals, I have never said anything about the behavior.

Until…

On Monday I was outside the elevator bank (ok-it’s two elevators- I don’t know if you call that a bank) I was talking to a neighbor and we were to the right of the right elevator because we saw that the left elevator was going to be the first one down- because you move out of the way because people are going to exit.

Fine.

Dog A was in the elevator. When the door opened Dog A lunged at my dog and came so close to biting her that I needed to check Sally’s face. I yelled at the owner that she needed to muzzle the dog because this was the third time this week that the dog made an aggressive move towards my dog.

Fine.

Ten minutes after this incident and my yelling at the owner, the owner was taking the dog A up the stairwell to her apartment. She let this dog off the leash, and of course my neighbor was coming down the stairs with his leashed Maltese, who is quite possibly smaller and more gentle than my dog.  Dog A was off his leash, racing and barking towards the Maltese. Luckily my neighbor was able to quickly scoop up his dog .

Ten minutes after her dog lunged at my dog and I yelled, she had her dog off the leash in a common area of the building.

So yesterday my neighbor and I put in formal complaints with the board and the management agent. The building and agent agreed that the dog needed to be muzzled in common areas of the building, and a letter was sent to them yesterday afternoon.

Fine.

Except now the Husband of the women is claiming that we are unfairly attacking his pregnant wife. That we’ve upset her. There is nothing wrong with his dog. Yada yada yada.

So for today’s discussion:

What is the responsibility of the dog owner if the dog exhibits aggressive behavior towards other dogs and there is common space between your apartment and the outside?

Should I have yelled at someone who is pregnant, or is yelling at someone pregnant just bad form?

Should the onus be on Dog A’s owner to properly control the dog when in common building space?

or

Should the onus be on the other dog owners in the building to be hyper aware of their surroundings because Dog A might be around?

Side note: These people were not singled out. We have other dogs in the building that are/have been muzzled because of their aggressive behavior. This is protocol in the building.

 

Can You Not Sit There?

I was recently at the botanic garden (pictures of roses and peonies to appear on my insta soon) When I visit the New York Botanic Garden, I take the MetroNorth commuter train out of Grand Central because it is quicker and more convenient than the subway. They are currently doing repairs at the Botanic Garden station, so the train was only loading on four cars. Which means the car you enter is super crowded and you need to walk through to the back of the train. Fine. After walking through the train we started to see empty seats, but none together so our band of four needed to split up. Fine. I sat down. Fine. The women next to me said

“I have allergies to strong perfume. Heh cough heh cough  heh cough.”

Not fine.

I looked at her incredulously. Basically,  because I have an extremely light hand with scent, especially during the day and I just do a dab on my wrists. And we’re on a train car. In New York City. Which is a place known for big crowds and tight spaces. And we were heading towards Manhattan…I mean…did she think that no one in Manhattan smells?

I looked and saw another seat, so I began to get up. I may or may not have said what could be considered a snide comment, and I may or may not have made a really ugly facial gesture.

I am also going to admit that if I hadn’t seen another seat I would have said to the woman “Would you like to get past me?”

Because:

When you have an allergy or a sensitivity to something, do you move, or do you expect the “aggravator” to move?

What is the allergy protocol when you are in a crowded place?

I know the peanut issue is a big deal. And I get that: I truly do. If my kid had a peanut allergy I would not want her to be around someone with peanuts. A few of my daughters close friends have peanut allergies and I am hyper aware of what things are in the house when they come over, or if my daughter is having a birthday party at a  restaurant I tell the place about a million times that there are allergies at the table. I make my daughter send ingredient lists from packaged foods to her friends before they come so I know whether or not I should serve a particular thing. My daughter is well schooled in the protocol of what to do if her friends appear to be having an attack. So I am sensitive to the issue. I am down with not bringing peanut laden food to a school event.

But

If I’m on an airplane, should I move because I brought nuts as a snack and my seatmate is allergic? Or should the onus be on the one with the allergy?

Should the women on the train be the one to get up and move if my Jo Malone is offending her?

I’m sensitive to the fact that people have real issues with these certain allergens. But is this a case where the individual is greater than the collective?

Should there be special accommodations for people with sensitivities and allergies? Should there be a train car for people with allergies? Separate lunch tables? Separate sections of a plane?

Or should we just ban everything that someone might have an allergy to?

Which leads me to my next point:

What if people use this as an excuse to not sit with someone?

What if the woman on the train just didn’t want to sit next to me? What if she wanted that seat to herself?

What if you don’t like that a heavy person sat next to you on an airplane? Do you pull an allergy out of the hat so that their seat is switched?

I have no known allergies to opinions, so what say you all?

 

 

Nothing but the Truth

A few weeks ago, our friends and neighbors lost their dog. They got their little guy not long after we got ours, so I watched him grow up alongside my Sally. You all know how I feel about pets….my dog and cat are clearly my favorites…(if you don’t have the heart to read about pets who have died, you might not want to read further)

A few days after my Husband and I ran into the couple in the lobby. I hugged my friend M and we cried a little. Her Husband E (let me state that this is the most blunt man in the universe- he’s a lawyer for local government so bureaucrat is his middle name. E posed the question:

“Do you stay in the room with your dog when it’s time?”

Oddly, my daughter had recently read something in her psychology class about this very topic, so it had been a discussion I had just had recently. According to what my daughter said, apparently dogs look for their owner…

So I said to my neighbor- “If you’d asked me a few months ago I’d have said- not in the room. Now….I’m not sure.”

And the conversation went on a little longer and came to an organic conclusion.

When we got upstairs my Husband said that I should have asked a question to see what side of the aisle E was on before I answered- that I should have tailored my answer to his. Knowing how direct E is about literally everything, I felt honesty was the answer he was looking for.

I know I’ve asked this before, but I’m trying it again: How honest do people want us to be? How honest should we be? Do we let people think we agree so that we ease their minds? Or do we just flat out give an opinion?

When people ask an opinion question, how honest do they want us to be?

Was it rude of me to give my actual, honest opinion?

What’s the line between rude and honest?

 

Highlights 6/9

Very busy in my house- and my mind is whizzing and…you know….

But- we had out summer tea event with my tea club which was incredible! 20190608_1625064050819773677481924.jpg

The Lowell Hotel in Manhattan has a charming room, The Pembroke, and they do a lovely tea. This event was championed by Pret a Portea, the tea society I belong to. What can be better than spending a few hours drinking tea and eating scones!!!!