Archives

Standing Alone

 

standing alone2

 

Finding myself “traveling solo” again, I have learned some new lessons. It has now been a full year since I made my big move across country from Chicago to Arizona. The high point of my year was when my 19 year old daughter joined me out here. However, she has decided she wants to attend college back in Chicago with her friends, so for now, she has returned.

Initially, I worried about being alone. But I am realizing that I am NOT alone. Quiet moments bring such peace, allowing me to discover parts of myself I never knew existed.

I am finding gratitude in the little things I did not notice before. Waking to the sun creeping in between the blind slats on my day off, instead of hearing the alarm in the darkness of the early morning. Sitting in bed with a cup of coffee and my laptop, writing. Hearing the cars whiz by, with drivers rushing through their morning errands, while I sit in a tank top and shorts, in no hurry to go anywhere or do anything.

I miss having my “little” girl here with me. But she is no longer “little”. She is an adult with a life of her own, and she needs to go out and live it. She will discover, on her own, that she is capable… just like her mom!

~ Patti Crowley

Advertisements

I Got Something Perfectly Right

perfectAfter six long months, my adult children have come to Arizona. It is the first time I’ve seen them since I moved here from Chicago in June of 2014. My daughter has moved here permanently, and my 22 year old son is visiting. Life is good!

My decision to move across the country was met with much judgment and many questions, as I’ve chronicled in previous blog posts. I was looked at as selfish by a few of my closest friends, while others completely supported my decision to better my life and start anew. Regardless, I have held fast to the belief that this move was something I was meant to do, and had been waiting for my entire life.

Now that my children are here, I have this feeling that I’ve done something perfectly right… after a lifelong gnawing voice had been telling me I was not perfect. I now fully realize that I will never be perfect, and I have stopped trying to be. However, when I look at my kids, I realize I did do something perfectly right… right for them and right for me.

If the decisions we make throughout our lives have good intentions, then what we have done has been done perfectly right. It does not matter how others view our decisions. They are not living in our shoes… they have not had our experiences… they simply do not know the whole story. Every lesson I have ever taught my children, every piece of advice I have ever offered, and every word I have ever said was taught, offered, or uttered with love and good intentions. If that is truly the case, then how could I have achieved any result that is even less than perfect?

I choose to look back on my life with pride. I am not saying I never made any mistakes… hell, no!  Instead, I am simply saying that I always hoped for the best and did what I thought was best at the time. You could never ask for more than that.

~ Patti Crowley

To My Beautiful Daughter

Today, my youngest left for college and I wasn’t there to see her off. As I’ve talked about in other posts, I recently moved from Chicago to Arizona. My daughter and I had planned to move together, and she would attend college out here. At the last minute, she decided she would attend her first year in Illinois and then move out here after the school year. As sad as I was about that decision, I completely supported her in it, and only want her to be happy with her choices.

With a new job and the financial strain of having just moved across country, I was unable to manage a trip back to Illinois to see her off to school. I have been devastated about this, and it has caused me to feel a tremendous amount of guilt. What kind of a mother can’t find a way to be there for her daughter at such an exciting and life-changing time in her life?

Although Megan had her father with her for her move, I still feel as though she needed her mom. Here I am in Arizona, with a job I love and a life I love… but I missed out on one of the most important events in my daughter’s life. I told my daughter that I would probably only be able to swing one trip back this fall… so it would have to be either move in day or parent weekend. She said she would prefer that I come for parent weekend. But ugh… the damn guilt is eating me alive.

So proud I am of her. What a beautiful, generous, intelligent, and savvy young woman she has become! She is growing up and making adult choices for herself, and I see her as being smart way beyond her years. When I shared my feelings of guilt at not being there, a good friend offered some terrific advice. These were the words she said to me, which offered tremendous comfort:

“Remember, Patti. Your daughter is capable and brave, and it is an honor for you to witness the new ways she is expanding her life that are fully in line with the natural order of things. You may not be there with her today, but you can find new and meaningful ways to show her love and support.”

WOW!

So to my beautiful daughter, I say:

Megan, I love you more than I can ever fully express through words, but of course, I will try! 🙂 You are the light of my life. You inspire me with your passion for life, your love of others, and your compassion for the students you’ve worked with over the last four years. What an amazing special education teacher I know you will be. Lives will be forever changed for the better because of you… trust me on this. You have a sense of self-respect that is admirable. You make me (and everyone you meet) laugh uncontrollably… especially when your chin quivers and your eyes tear up while your gut aches from laughing.

You love and respect your big brother, and I know that the two of you will always have each other’s backs… long after your father and I are gone… I take a great deal of comfort in that. I have not always been the best mother, but you loved and supported me through both the good and the bad times. I have gradually witnessed you grow from the sweet little chubby cheeked child, into a tall, beautiful young woman who carries herself with amazing grace. I love that you have my eyes… they are identical to mine and I love that we share that trait.

And so it begins, my sweet girl. May your college experience be filled with wonderful adventures, many lifelong friends, and a world experience that you will treasure for the rest of your life. Enjoy every single moment! I will be with you, in your heart and always right here, every step of the way.

I love you forever, I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be. (Robert Munsch)

Love, Mommeg

 

 

 

A Mother’s Love For Her Son

michael1

 

My silly little boy was such a delight. He made me laugh constantly. Sadly, he had a condition that caused him to faint suddenly with no warning. It started when he was in kindergarten… probably around the same time as this photo was taken. It frightened us, but the doctors told us that he checked out fine, and was just one of those kids that faints from time to time. Young and inexperienced as we were as parents, we accepted this diagnosis.

The fainting went on for years. When he was in sixth grade, we had moved to a new area and had a new physician. He had another fainting spell, so we took him in. The doctor immediately suggested we see a pediatric cardiologist that day. After a number of various tests, Michael was given a stress test. On the treadmill, he went into v-tach (ventricular tachicardia). He was diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome… a condition in which the heart goes into a dangerous rhythm. The result is either losing consciousness or full cardiac arrest. We had been lucky up to that point to say the very least.

Michael had to have an internal cardiac defibrillator (ICD) put in, and overnight, had to quit all sports, which he loved. It was devastating to him. The day of his surgery, we were terrified. He had been sent to Children’s Memorial in Chicago to ensure he had the best electrocardiologists. I stayed overnight in his room the night before surgery, and we watched Napoleon Dynamite. He was so oblivious to the magnitude of his condition, which was truly a blessing. His father and I, and most of our family members, waited for news during the procedure. Every time someone walked through those doors, we all nearly jumped out of our seats. Finally, a nurse came in and said, “The implant went well. Now the doctors will stop his heart to make sure the device shocks his heart back.”

At that moment, my own heart stopped. My thoughts were all over the place. “They were stopping my baby’s heart!” I broke down, and for the first time since our divorce, my ex took me in his arms and we held each other. The surgery went well, and our boy was just fine. I walked into the recovery room to the sound of his quiet voice crying, “Mommy”. He hadn’t called me mommy since he was a very little boy and I melted.

Today, my boy is 21 years old. He is the most kind-hearted, genuine, funny, and intelligent young men I have ever known… okay, so maybe I’m a bit biased, but it is all TRUE!  He had surgery last week to replace the ICD device with a newer model, and he is in excellent health. He may be an adult, but he will always be my little boy. I was just as nervous with this surgery as I was the first time around. Things never change, and most certainly, neither does a mother’s love. He is the light of my life, and I am forever grateful for the doctors who discovered his condition and saved his life. I count my blessings every day.

michael

~ Patti Crowley

Having Never Been Understood

I was that kid in school who followed the rules, never got in trouble, obeyed authority, but rebelled deep down inside. I was so fearful of not being understood, so I went along with what was expected of me and never challenged anyone. I have seen the following quote from John Lennon before, and I remember thinking, “Yes, I know EXACTLY what you mean Mr. Lennon!!”

happiness

Even a few of my closest friends question the way I live my life. Oh they don’t necessarily tell me how they feel, but trust me, I can feel it in the questions they ask, the comments they make. It has occurred to me that I will never be able to please everyone, so I stopped trying quite some time ago.

One of my closest childhood friends, someone who knows every sordid detail of my life, called me back after I left her a message a few weeks ago. We had not connected since I made this move across country to Arizona. We talked about all of the usual things… how are the kids, how is work, etc… Then she started asking me the tough questions. Do I regret making this move, even though my daughter decided to wait a year to come out after her first year of college? Do I feel bad that I wasn’t there for my daughter while she shops for all of her dorm furnishings? Do I feel that the timing was right?  The judgment was evident in her voice.

If I am completely honest, I have made a few major life changes over the years, always with the intention of bettering the life of my children and my own. I walk to the beat of a different drummer… My goal has always been happiness. I never followed the traditional path… the one that might be viewed as socially acceptable. This friend of mine has been married to her high school sweetheart for many years. She was the PTA mom. She works as a nurse. She has never really understood what it is like to be a single parent, juggling a career and being the sole household provider. She cannot understand what my life has been like, and that is okay.

So when I tell her I just want to be happy, it must sound like a cop out. But that is all I want to be, and I am.  My life doesn’t fit in the traditional mold of what looks like happiness to others. But to me, it is exactly that.

I make no excuses for my life. To explain how I feel sometimes falls on deaf ears. Happiness is all I ever wanted. The road to this point may not have been a perfect straight line, but it was a road that I have been thrilled to travel, and am excited at where it will still lead.

~ Patti Crowley

Old Age Beats the Alternative

alternativeThis cracked me up… It is exactly how I feel today. One year closer to half a century old. Okay, okay, so I have a few years left before I turn the big 5-0. For the past 6-7 years, I have said each year on my birthday that old age is still far better than the alternative. Oh, how true!

Growing older brings about feelings of what we could’ve done, should’ve done, and have yet to do before time runs out. Pretty dismal thoughts, right? But the truth is, I am at a place in my life where I simply do not want to live with regrets. I wake up each day and try to do the next right thing. Sure, there are things I have yet to do. I will get to them, and hopefully sooner rather than later.

So today is my birthday. My children are still in Illinois, and I am here in Arizona. I miss them so very much, but they both called to wish me a happy birthday. Trust me, the fact that my 21 year old son remembered AND actually called me is a miracle in and of itself. Not having them here gives me too much time to think about the actual birthday event, and in thinking of turning 47, I suppose I should be making a bucket list. Then I wonder, “What’s the point?” As things come up that I want to do or accomplish, I can either set my mind to make them happen, like making this move to Arizona, or I can decide they aren’t really all that important after all. I look at people who have made up bucket lists with things like the following:

1. Climb Mt. Everest.

2. Skydive.

3. Drive a race car.

I mean, seriously, how important are these types of bucket list items? If you want to climb Mt. Everest, start collecting your spare change in a jar marked “mountains”.  If you want to drive a race car, post something on facebook. Chances are you have a friend somewhere, who knows someone, who knows someone with a race car hobby.

I say, forget the lists. Start living now. Want something to happen? Damnit, make it happen. Have a dream? Start living it right this very minute. There is no dream worth putting off. If it seems unattainable, figure out a way to make it attainable. Where there is a will, there is a way. Believe me on this!

~ Patti Crowley

Laughter is an Instant Vacation

laughterI have not laughed as much in years as I have this past week. Having my daughter here in town with her best friend has been wonderful. There has not been a dull moment, to say the least. Why is it that when you finally settle down after a huge laughing session, that you feel so spent? What an amazing feeling!

Milton Berle said it best: “Laughter is an instant vacation.” I have spent many years taking myself too seriously, drudging through each day as if I was on some sort of mission, thinking only of the destination instead of the journey. But it is when we live in each moment that we find the most happiness. I remember working myself to exhaustion, just trying to get through until my next day off. But I can have an instant vacation if I simply live in the moment and enjoy every second, finding humor in mundane things.

The other night I went down to the pool with the girls after a long day at work. They were reenacting the scene from Dirty Dancing where Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey were practicing lifts in the lake. Now, may I remind you that these girls are 18 years old. I laughed so hard that I was crying. I realize this is one of those stories where you “had to be there” to find it funny, but I had to pass it along anyway.

lifts

As I sat there with my feet in the pool and tears streaming down my face, I realized that this week, I have been living in the moment. Even at my new job, I have been enjoying getting to know the residents in the community which I manage. I have been taking the time to laugh with them, and listen to their stories, even though I may have files piling up which I know I will get to eventually. It is those little things that make life worthwhile. Laughing at silly stories, taking time to look at the mountains on my drive in to work, sipping a cup of fresh coffee that has just been brewed.

Life is beautiful, not to mention FUNNY, if we simply take the time to look around.

~ Patti Crowley