Navigating the Middle

through adolescents, menopause, aging parents & other flying debris



Day 20: End-of-the-Year Burnout

IS IT JUST ME or has the last month of your life been a whirlwind of hyper activity? I’m talking to those with school-aged kids, who are just trying to survive the end of the school year without having EVERY hair on your head turn gray.

When my kids were young, I used-to dread the approach of summer. I couldn’t understand why friends with older children eagerly looked forward to summer break. I thought I was being a “bad” mother,

now I know better.

It’s because the wind-down of the school year is actually a ramp-up for every extracurricular and non-curricular activity imaginable. At least the Christmas holiday only lasts a week. By January 2nd, it’s all over.

But the end of the school year starts in May and doesn’t let up until it has zapped every ounce of strength from my “I-so-need-to-be-at-the-gym” biceps. Have a peek at our schedule. I didn’t have the energy to write a complete list; my forearms are too weak:

May 3 – Junior Prom
May 6 – 8th Grade Dance Committee meeting to address invitations
May 7 – Teacher Appreciation Week Volunteer serving Rita’s Ice in the teacher’s lounge
May 9 – Band Trip to Six Flags Great Adventure
May 12  – State Band Competition
May 17 – Mayfest PTA Volunteer serving nachos: “Would you like cheese on top or on the side?”
May 22 – 8th Grade Dance Ticket sales
May 23 – 8th Grade Cruise
May 29 – Spring Choral Concert and New Parent Athletic Orientation (same night; different schools)
May 30 – Field Day
Jun 3 – Spring Strings Concert chaperoning  3rd, 4th ,and 5th graders before their performances
Jun 4 – Summer Pops Concert and Enrichment Fair (same night; different schools)
Jun 6 – 8th Grade Dance committee-related task followed by Uniform Sales Set-Up (as an incoming freshman parent volunteer)
Jun 7 – Uniform Sales and SAT exam
Jun 10 – School Coffee & Conversation meeting followed by After School Driving Lesson
Jun 11 – 8th Grade Band Banquet
Jun 13 – 8th Grade Dance Volunteer serving dinner 
Jun 17-20 – Finals
Jun 19 – 5th Grade Promotion Ceremony Volunteer serving refreshments

Before you get the impression that I’m pulling a “my-list-is-longer-than-your-list,” think again! We are ALL working hard to support our children. I am one example among millions.

On a lighter note, I finally got the chance to spend a little time with a neighbor (and friend) who lives two houses away. I’m sure you’ve already guessed where we reconnected – at last night’s concert, of course.


Day 25: Graduation Day

Today is graduation day at our local high school and thousands of students throughout Maryland. Speeches will delivered; diplomas will be handed out; and Instagram, Twitter and Facebook will explode with pictures.

In honor of all graduates, I am sharing the 2014 keynote address from my Alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin. In this inspiring video, U.S. Naval Admiral William H. McRaven shares lessons learned during basic SEAL training and how these lessons can be used to change the world.

And even if you are like me, and you graduated many years ago, it’s still worth the 20 minutes.

If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment. – Admiral McRaven


Day 27: Phenomenal Woman, phenomenal life

What can I say about this “treasure,” this woman of substance and insight. She was and will always be phenomenally,  “Phenomenal Woman.”

Listen to Dr. Maya Angelou’s May 2013 appearance on Super Soul Sunday (OWN)as she shares her words.

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.


I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.


Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.


Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.


by Maya Angelou, April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014

Day 33: You Shouldn’t Have to Explain…

My friend Kelly has a graduating senior this year. Like many proud moms, Kelly took to Facebook to celebrate her son Jordan’s acceptance into college. Although not his “original” choice, Jordan ultimately selected Howard University in D.C., over several other institutions vying for his enrollment. Kelly had insisted that he apply to at least one Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). 

I wasn’t surprised by Jordan’s decision; I know the sound reputation that the university enjoys. But I wanted to share their story, because I believe it speaks volumes to people’s preconceived notions, and even ignorance, as to why someone would turn down acceptance to a predominately White-serving Institutions (PWIs) to attend an HBCU. 

But I’ll let her tell you, in her own words…

It’s been interesting to note the reactions of some people when they learn that Jordan has decided to go to Howard University. He and I talked about this just yesterday. You can see it in their expression, “why would someone supposedly so smart go there?” It is clear that to some he will be earning an unrespected degree from an inferior institution with no job prospects as a result. I know they are wrong. I am thrilled that he is going to an HBCU, it has been my hope for all three of my children since they were born. I am confident that as long as he does his work, Jordan will receive a stellar education.

The article linked below, written by a current HBCU student, addresses the concerns of any parent or student grappling with the issue “HBCU or no”. Just wanted to share.

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