5/25/17

The toughest gig in town. (aka Parent be thy name.)

We all, those of us with children, always hope to be the best parent there is. At least I think MOST of us do.

But, it’s a tough gig, this parenting thing.  In fact it’s the toughest job in the world if you are truly honest with yourself. 

I’ve been thinking long and hard about how parents try so very hard to keep their children on the straight and narrow.  We try to teach them to have integrity, to have good morals, to be kind to others, to love themselves and all the other important things that make one a good person and a good citizen. 

But hell, that’s exhausting.  In fact, I think that if we are all truly honest here, we will admit that when the kids are between the ages of 0 -21- we are just trying to keep THEM alive all the while trying not lose our ever-loving minds.

We spend our days rushing them to school, to events, to this and that ALWAYS feeling rushed and late. They forget to tell us we have to hem pants for the next night that we MIGHT have to go buy at a shop that MIGHT be closed at 11:00 p.m.  They forget to tell us that they need snacks for a multi-cultural day at their school the next day that will give them “extra credit and I think I really need it to pass the class so please, please, please”.  Oh, and perhaps they forget to tell us they were FAILING A CLASS. They forget their instruments, homework assignments, permission slips and appointments-but we do our very best to always right the ship.

We spend twenty some years running an invisible, frantic marathon- with no make-up, horrible nails, no real sleep, an exhausted bank account and stretch pants with holes in them against a foe we can’t even see.  How can we POSSIBLY fit in the time to teach them the valuable and important lessons to help them be the people we want them to be?

HOW FOR GOD’S SAKE?

Today I had an epiphany.

While I was busy answering every phone call, hemming every pair of pants I bought at the last minute, driving across the world and back to sporting events, emptying my change jar and finding money where there wasn’t any, running them to and fro and reminding them each and every single day how much I love them – I might have inadvertently taught them an important thing or two.

I am preparing to help Sassy move to Tampa with her fella.  She is leaving Erie, Pa – and 3 jobs that she’s been working.  Three. She has a college degree in accounting from a highly accredited university- and is STILL working 3 jobs.  She calls me every single day, and even though we still may not always see eye-to-eye she tells me she loves me every day.  (As do the Bitchy and The Golden Boy.)

The epiphany? I think it’s this - it’s not the words that come out of your mouth every single day that impact your children- but your actions.  Do you spread kindness?  Are your actions pure?  Are your actions just?  Do they serve others instead of yourself? I can’t be sure if mine always did but I have always strived for that. I have always just wanted to do the right thing.

Now, I thank the Powers That Be every single day that I didn’t screw the kids up TOO much, and that they are (so far) the amazing souls I always hoped they would be. They all work VERY hard, call their mom every day,  aren't in jail(so far), don't do drugs and are kind and decent human beings. 


Parenthood.  It’s the TOUGHEST gig in town.   But it’s the one that will bring you the greatest, most beautiful joy you never ever knew existed. 









4/28/17

Close Encounters of the Caymanian Kind



I wake up early here in Grand Cayman and try to get a morning beach walk in before I hit the books. I don’t think my fella could’ve picked a better place for me to study for my master’s degree, OR for him to get a hip replacement.  We’re juggling both just fine.  I use my walk and an occasional snorkel to motivate me work on a few hours of studying each day. 

I walk out the front door and head down the road, which is parallel to the beach, for about ½ mile where the entrance to the public beach is located.  This morning after my walk I decided to grab my scuba gear and go right back and hop in the water there.  The strong current would help push me back down and around the point – where I can then swim right up to the beach. From there I walk across the street to our front door. (I know- I hate myself these days.)

When I got to the public beach I hid my sandals in the bushes and walked down to begin my snorkel.  It’s a bit rocky along the coast here in Cayman Kai, but fortunately there’s a nice sandy patch right near the public beach entrance.  I rubbed the Baby Shampoo into my mask so it wouldn’t fog up (It’s the miracle de-fogger) and then once my mask was secured I slipped on the flippers and floated out to sea.

I always feel such peace when I venture underwater for a snorkel. I can’t describe it, but I can honestly say I am in love with the ocean.  Because it was early and I was quite alone on  this side of the island, I decided to swim closer to shore than I normally do.  In hindsight, I would say that might not have been a great idea.

I swam slowly for about ten minutes, enjoying all of the beauty of the ocean floor and its inhabitants.  It was about then that I noticed many of the fish swimming very quickly past me. Perhaps fleeing for their lives would be a more appropriate description as I would soon come to realize.  I was surprised by their rapid movement and glanced to my right.  I was stunned to see a huge barracuda swimming right beside me.

A HUGE GREAT BARRACUDA!

While it might have looked like this..




Or even this...






THIS is what I saw...




I back pedaled so that I could get a better look, and realized it was at least as long as me! (Let’s say five feet, give or take an inch.)  He seemed to stop when I stopped, and then I decided to start swimming as fast as I could.  Now remember, I am pretty close to shore, so I was very surprised that he kept pace with me while I tried desperately to flee.  As I was kicking and swimming as fast as I could I kept wondering if barracudas were man-eaters.  Are they? The teeth on this fella were ferocious looking, and I was sure he was eyeing me for his next meal.

I stopped again when I realized that he was keeping up with me, and he swam forward. Then, he turned and faced me like a bull in a ring.  I looked at him and was SURE that he was ready to come in for the kill.

“This is NOT happening.” I said to myself, and I stood up in the water.  I was thrilled that it was knee deep and tried to quickly make my way to shore.  I took off my flippers and mask and ran up the sand. 

“Holy crap, holy crap, holy crap!”  I said to myself.  I stood for a minute and tried to compose myself.  I am pretty sure that this was the most scared I have been on a snorkel.  Sure, I was in knee deep water and it was ONLY a barracuda, but yikes!

Then I made a decision. 

I walked down the beach a short distance, say about ½ a city block, and decided to get back in the water.  I know, I know!  It’s like going BACK into the house when you know the bad guy is waiting in the closet.

But I did it anyway.

I went back in and immediately looked for fish that weren’t fleeing.  When I scanned from left to right and felt pretty sure I was in the clear, I continued my swim.  I made it around the point and went under the pier.  I snorkeled to the spot where I always make my exit and sat on the beach with my snorkel and flippers in hand.  My heart was beating like a racehorse, and I felt like Sheriff Brody as he was paddling into shore after blowing up Jaws. 

Well, except for the dead friends and blowing up the shark and all. But other than THAT, I felt an enormous, barracuda-sized feeling of relief.

Tomorrow, I decided, I would swim STRAIGHT at him.  Yep.  I’m going to walk right back into the scary house and look the bad guy in the eyes. After all, you never really hear of a barracuda attack, right?



3/10/17

I like to learn lessons over and over again, just to be sure they STICK.


We had a couple visit us for a long weekend when we were in the Cayman’s last month.  They are a very fit couple who would get up early each morning for a 6 mile run before enjoying the rest of the day.  We spent time each day snorkeling, bike riding and jet-skiing.  There are many great perks about having friends visit on the island, and one of them is that you do things that you know every tourist should do.

On Saturday we hopped on the jet skis and headed to Stingray City.  This is a sand-bar situated between Rum Point the main part of the island. It’s halfway across the Cove and you can see all of the boats anchored there when you look out from the beach. 



When we got there we anchored the jet skis and stood on the bar among the hundreds of stingrays. They glide past you slowly, and some nudge you as they pass by.  They are very friendly and seem to enjoy the attention.  We left stingray city and went on to visit Cabana Bay, Morgan’s Harbor, Stingray City and then landed back at Rum Point.  It was an incredible, beautiful adventure.

Our friends have an amazing underwater camera, and were able to get amazing shots all throughout their stay. Each night Ed would download the pics onto my computer so I could have copies.  That night I saw some of the underwater shots from Stingray City.




“Oh my GOD! Look at that @$$! Do NOT share that pic!” I said to him laughing.  “Yikes!”

“No!” Donna said, “No, that’s not…”

“Oh stop!” I said to Donna. “Don’t try to make me feel better! That @$$ is huge!”

“No,” she interrupted again, trying to make me feel better.

“Listen,” I said to her, “I need to print that picture and put it on my fridge! I will never eat again!”

“No, what I was trying to say is…That’s ME. That’s MY  @$$.”

Gulp.

“See?” she pointed, “That’s MY bathing suit.  And I do try to run every day….”

“Oh my GOD.  Wait. Oh.  Well, um, that @$$ is VERY tiny.  VERY, VERY TINY.”


Oh my sweet Jesus in heaven, why can’t I keep my mouth SHUT ONCE IN A WHILE?


(You know I like to #*$& up once a day.  It keeps me humble.)