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Navigating the Middle

through adolescents, menopause, aging parents & other flying debris

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August 2015

It’s Not Him; It’s Me

Before checking out my thoughts, please watch the video that inspired this post.

Would you let him give you a Tattoo?

I answered the question before I watched the video. –  No, I would not let him give me a tattoo. The man has no hands. To be specific, he has no arms either.

I attended high school with a guy who didn’t have hands, and he was quite the artist. So if you’re thinking that THAT’S the reason I wouldn’t let this guy give me a tattoo, think again. My reason has nothing to do with him and everything to do with me.

I don’t like tattoos. (THERE, I said it; rather, I wrote it!)

I LIKE people who LIKE tattoos; I LIKE people who HAVE tattoos; and occassionally, I like tattoos themselves. It’s like graffitti for the body. YOUR body. I don’t think I’d let the footed man (or a handed one) draw graffitti on MY body. Not that I haven’t EVER imagined such a scenario because in truth, there have been two occassions.

The first was when I lost my breasts to cancer. My plastic surgion offered a tattooed areola as part of the reconstruction. After giving it some thought, I decided against it. Cancer makes you tired of hurting. I didn’t want to hurt any more.

The second time I considered it was more recently, after chemo took my eyebrows. I was in a MAC store, buying a brow pencil when I met a woman who had tattooed eyebrows. They looked so realistic, I thought I might give it a try. That was before I decided that tattoos were not something to TRY, despite what tat lovers may claim. I chickened out of that one too.

Like I stated: It’s me.

There’s just something about having ink injected into my skin, that makes my skin crawl. Friends I know have no problem to committing to the deed – over and over again. When I think about it, the only people I know who have a single tattoo are the ones who either (1) regret getting it in the first place (i.e., they were young, intoxicated or both); or (2) ones who haven’t made it back to get a second tattoo.

I tried to imagine being one of those people. So I visited PINTEREST for inspiration, and I started following a board dedicated to mastectomy tattoos. Some of the work was hauntingly beautiful, especially when I learned the meaning behind the art. http://www.pinterest.com/personalink/mastectomy-tattoo-ideas/

Afterwards, I asked myself the question that I started with at the beginning of this post: ” Would you let him give you a tattoo?”

…uhm…

Maybe?

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Weird Parenting

My sister got on my case the other night when I told her that I wouldn’t be joining her in DC for our annual girls’ weekend. Her expectations were not unwarranted. We try to take a sister-trip every year, one that usually revolves around her work as an insurance agent. However, due to serious illnesses on both our parts, we’d missed the last two years. Suffice it to say, I was really looking forward to our time together. But you know what they say about best laid plans.

After quickly mentioning that her conference would be in DC this year (while downsizing her home; running a business; and being a single parent), details from my sister dried up. It wasn’t until she literally forwarded her hotel confirmation email, that I noticed the dates: dueling schedules which meant that I would be on the West Coast, dropping my Number 1 son at college, during Stephanie’s visit to our area. While I hate to miss out on the late night talks, socializing, and enjoying one too many glasses of wine together, this could be one of the last mother-son activities that Chris and I will ever share. EVER may seem like a really strong word here, but he’s moving on. I’m the one who’s being left behind, along with his dad and two younger brothers.

I remember being his age, barely able to contain my excitement over leaving home to pursue my new, grown-up life. Back then, I didn’t know there was a difference between becoming an adult and being a grown-up. And being a grown-up means you make grown-up decisions, like committing to seeing your firstborn through his transition to college, even if he is 18.

Since Stephanie also has a teenaged son, I knew she was kidding when she teased, “I can’t believe you’re chosing to take your kid to college instead of seeing me! What kind of WEIRD PARENTING is that? Just because he’s going to school in another country…”

I might not have been a semi-finalist in the NGB (okay, that’s not really a thing), National Geographic Bee, but I am certain that Seattle is in the U.S; I told her so.

But Stephanie just responded, “Um. It may as well be another country.” (Spoken like a true Texan.) She had a point. For about the same distance, (give or take 80 miles and a student visa) he might as well be going to school in Ecuador! And that’s on another continent and below the equator!! THANKS SIS! I hadn’t considered any of this before talking to you. I feel much better now.

I also finally understand why some moms delivered the cartoon-eye-popping-stare when I told them that Chris would be leaving our mid-Atlantic home for the Pacific Northwest. “You’re going to let him go that far away? Could he go any farther away?” were the two most commonly asked questions, followed by: “Aren’t you going to miss him?”

Well, yeah…to all inquiries. (1) He was allowed to apply to any university, provided he was able to secure scholarship money, which he did; (2) He could have gone farther away…like Ecuador (see previous paragraph); and (3) You’d miss your child if he went away to school, regardless of the distance.

Perhaps that was the point some of my friends were trying to make. They couldn’t fathom the thought of having their college kid so far from home. I get it. But we are the parents who attended college across the country (Jeff) and who moved to Hawaii after graduate school (me). In our WEIRD PARENTING world, our son moving 2,300+ miles away seems like a natural choice.

Besides, I am confident that we have done a good job raising him. He will make mistakes, just like we did. And he will figure things out; he’s a smart kid. After all, we trusted him enough to fly across the country (without us) for college tours. I look forward to visiting his campus for the first time when I deliver him there later next month. (WEIRD PARENTING, right?)

And while I might not feel the need to squeeze out every living, breathing moment with him before he takes off, I do want to enjoy this rite of passage before he pushes me out to make room for his new life. He’s a teenager, so the pushing is well underway. Like labor, it’s painful but hopefully seeing your beautiful baby boy turn into a caring, responsible, kind and productive man helps erase the pain.

So as much as I love spending time with my sister, and I really do, I won’t be able to join her this year. I’ve got more WEIRD PARENTING to do.

The Who & The Why

Day 1 and I feel like I’ve been here before – asked to write about “who I am and why I’m here.” In the grand scheme of things, I should answer the second question first. I am here because I believe that everyone has a story. That story matters because what people really want, what we ALL really want, is to feel validated. We want to know that we matter.

…which leads me to answer the first question.

I’m a woman with a desire to share life’s journey as a wife and mom, believer, cancer survivor, warrior, conqueror. I have already managed to capture some BIGGIES in my blog “Losing a Lifelong Friend.” Now I’m ready to tackle the challenges staring me squarely in the face: menopause, fading beauty, a college kid, aging parents and whatever else is hurling toward my head at warp speed.

In short, I’m getting ready for the second half. My Grandma Katie will turn 106 this year. So according to my calculations, I’m just getting started. Join me.

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