Friends

L-O-V-E

I’m in Arizona for Sara’s roommate, Julie’s wedding.  Julie has been like part of our family for the last four years.

She is the roommate you pray for when you want your daughter to be happy in her new college life.

One afternoon when I was visiting them during their sophomore year, Julie asked Sara about her day.  Then she said, “Come and sit down and tell me all about it.” She scooted over on the couch to make room for Sara and I, then crossed her brown Arizona legs and got comfortable, facing both of us, ready to listen, really listen to Sara tell her about her day.

That was the moment I fell in love with her.  I knew Sara had a generous, open, kind, and loyal friend, and that their friendship would not end at graduation when they went their separate ways to create their individual lives.

When they both applied for the London Study Abroad program, her Mom and I worried about what would happen if one got in and the other one didn’t.  How could we have half of this perfect pair schlepping to class during a cold Utah winter while the other one discovered Cath Kidston, visited the Tower of London, and watched London roll out the red carpet for a royal wedding?

 

Luckily they were both accepted and made their jolly trip to London together.  They attended prep classes on campus before they went, and walked in separately so they wouldn’t tip of f the other students that they were best friends.  This was their way of branching out. Then they met outside and came together like two magnets again.

They both flew to London from different places but met at the airport and rode together to their new home on Palace Court. They lived off cupcakes, crepes, and European chocolate; rode bikes in Hyde Park and had tea in Kensington Palace.  They celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, and fell asleep on each other on every sightseeing bus trip.

When Doug and I went to London at the end of their semester to take advantage of them as our experienced tour guides, they were sad to leave Palace Court but when we took them to our hotel, they were giddy with excitement about sleeping in what they saw as fancy luxurious beds after sleeping on student bunk beds all semester.

We toured Italy with them and laughed at their goals of having gelato every single day and taking pictures of all their meals.

When we arrived early to help get ready for Julie’s wedding reception, Julie wasn’t in her wedding dress yet. Sara and Julie looked at each other and tears filled up in their eyes, and they grabbed each other in a tight hug.

“Do you want to help me get dressed in my wedding gown?” Julie asked.

“Of course!” Sara said, and they walked off together.

I couldn’t keep the tears from filling my eyes either as the two of them walked away.

Even though Julie’s got a new best friend and roommate, Sara and Julie’s sweet friendship will not fade away.  They have too many memories from their freshman dorm life to their dreamlike semester abroad.  They have helped each other through homesick moments, broken hearts and boyfriends, homework, finals, and studying stress, and a million other moments known only to the two of them.

As Julie climbed into her husband’s jeep with “just married” scrawled on the window, I watched Sara and the other guests send them off in with sparklers lighting up the night sky.   Sara and the other bridesmaids spelled out L-O-V-E with their sparklers. Just then, Julie turned around, smiled and waved at Sara, and I knew that another one of those priceless girlfriend moments had transpired.

 

I am so grateful for my daughters’ friends.  They are there for them when I can’t be.  They are the shoulders they cry on when they can’t cry on mine. They are the ones they confide in about all the things they can’t comfortably tell me.  They are the ones who keep them going in their day-to-day lives because they share a girlfriend bond that is different from a mother-daughter bond.

Congratulations Julie, and thank you for being Sara’s true friend, for lifting her up, cheering her on, and consistently loving her.  Thank you for being there for me because when God gives daughters good friends, he gives mothers peace of mind and solace, and to a mother, that is the greatest gift ever.

 

 

 

 

Personal, Pets, Uncategorized

Here kitty, kitty…

I’m dedicating this post to my cousin Becky.

When my mom and I arrived at the beach a couple of weeks ago, we filled our arms full of all the supplies we hauled down there and headed up the stairs. When I peeked over the Costco-sized packages of toilet paper and paper towels to unlock the door, I noticed a cat sitting on the cover of the hot tub.

“I think we have a visitor,” Mom said, standing behind me with her arms full of new mattress pads.

“Oh great! I wonder how long it’s been here. Lew and Brian will die,” I said, as I fumbled to get the key in the lock.

Lew and Brian and Doug bought the house before Doug and I married and we’ve all vacationed there nearly every summer since. We rent it out the rest of the time.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to call these men “particular” or “fastidious” owners. Every time we go down, they expect a report on the house — what’s broken, worn-out or needs to be replaced, for example. In fact, it’s because they are so meticulous about the house being in good shape and well-stocked that Mom and I packed the back of my car with all those rolls of paper towels and toilet paper, only to discover the shelves and closets were already filled with those basic supplies.

So when I noticed a cat living there, I thought they would want it removed from the premises ASAP. I imagined them worrying about the cat having some nasty disease or scratching or hissing at some little beach-going toddler or people writing in the guest book that a feral cat ruined their beach vacation by hanging around the house making people sneeze or by holding the hot tub hostage.

As a dutiful wife of an owner (I know my place in this beach house triumvirate), I fired off an e-mail telling them about the cat. Then I said, “Should I call animal control?” I told them that when I woke up the first morning we were there, I opened the blinds in the kitchen window and the cat’s face was staring in at me.

“It loves sitting on the hot tub and stretching out across the door so that you have to step over it when you go out. I almost fell down the steps trying to avoid it as it wrapped around my legs.”

Then, I received this e-mail from Lew: “I didn’t know you liked cats so much. I have a new name for your new cat –“Rascal, the Raccoon Cat” or it could be “Rascal Turner” for short? Actually, there are many feral cats down there. Many of the residents feed them and certainly the tourists feed them because they are so cute. I doubt there is an animal control down there.”

So I overreacted about the cat. Then Brian replied and said, “How about writing a play about the Cat on the Hot Tub Roof? Have the setting in the south (oops, Hatteras is the south), then we can get some celebrity cats to play the keys roles.”

Doug just wrote back and said, “Send pictures!”

Clearly I was the only one with the cat problem.

The boys didn’t care about a cat taking up residence at their beach house.

And, no animal control?

I found a little story about “Basket Lid Wisdom.” It said, “Before you reach to pet a cat on Hatteras Island we suggest you exercise caution. Many of the cats roaming the Island are descendants of a breed of cats that date back to the first settlers of the island…The cats came with the ships…As the years have progressed many of the wild cats have become domesticated, but you will still occasionally run across one that has that wild look in his eye…”

This cat didn’t have a “wild” look in his eyes and he must have feasted on food at someone else’s door because I didn’t feed it or pet it. And every time I tried to take a picture of it, it eluded me.

I’m not much of a cat person. When I was in high school, we had a family cat and it loved to sleep on the top of the front wheel of my car. When I turned the car on, it jumped off and ran away. Except one day it didn’t jump off…and, well…

“Mom, remember the cat that got hurt when it didn’t get off my tire and you said it ran away?” I asked.

“Oh, well, I might have told you that so you wouldn’t feel bad,” she said, not looking up from her embroidery project. “You actually killed the cat.”

“Now you tell me!” I said. “No wonder I don’t like cats.”

And of course the beach cat liked to wrap itself around my feet every time I went outside. It never loved up to my mom like that. And it liked to rest pressed up to the storm door, staring at me while I worked at my computer. Mom looked in the guest book and saw that several renters wrote about the cat. “It was weird because a cat was here and we loved it. You will too! We found out that it’s notched ear means it’s a Kinnakeet cat descended from shipwrecks.”

“The notched ear means it was captured, spayed or neutered, and then released,” someone wrote.

I checked that out and discovered they were right. There are about 1,000 wild cats living on Hatteras Island.

“The cat was so friendly,” another person wrote. “My kids called her Mrs. Raccoon because of her striped tail. With the broken porch screen, she jumped in through the window and slept on the hot tub at night.”

Well so much for the renters hating the cat. Still, I thought the owner boys would want me to drive the darn cat to the end of the island to live at somebody else’s house.

Toward the end of the week, Mom said, “Do you think I could get that cat home? I could just sit it on my lap on the airplane. It’s so friendly, and it’s really quite pretty. What would you think about me taking it home?”

“No way are you taking that cat home. You have the worst possible history with pets! You should call Becky and see what she thinks of you taking home a cat,” I said.

Many years ago, my mom adopted a cat that made itself at home at her house. She fed it and took good care of it. Then one day she decided she’d had enough of the cat, so that night she decided to give it to my cousin Becky.

Even though Mom was in her pajamas and ready for bed, she scooped up the cat, climbed in the car, and off she went to Becky’s house.

She knocked on the door with the cat in her arms and when Becky opened the door, Mom said, “Here! I can’t stand this cat for one more minute. You have to keep it.”

Becky liked cats so she agreed to keep it.

I recently asked her if she remembered this incident. She said, “I’ll say I remember! That damn cat had three litters of kittens and then one of the kittens had a litter at the same time she did. I had 11 cats in my garage at one point!”

And the real problem? Mom found out the cat she adopted and then gave away belonged to her neighbor!

“You cannot take that cat home. Becky will not want an Outer Banks cat even if it does have a notched ear, a raccoon-like tail and a pirate or shipwreck pedigree,” I told her.

With animal control and adoption out of the question, we said goodbye to the kitty. Then as we packed the car, it followed us up and down the stairs… until I accidentally stepped on its tail, and it decided to go back to the hot tub.

“I think you like that cat,” Mom said. “Maybe you should take it home with you.”

“No way. I am not swayed by its distinguished pirate ship pedigree. And, you certainly can’t take it home and end up giving it to Becky.”

“True,” she said. So we told Mrs. Raccoon goodbye and drove back to Virginia.

But I have to admit I’m curious about whether the cat is still there, whether the renters are feeding it, loving and petting it or if they’re searching the phone book for animal control…

Family

Just Like Me but Better

While visiting my mom recently, I said, “Mom, remember when you used to say, ‘I hope you have a daughter just like you?’ In case you haven’t figured it out by now, your wish came true.”

My 18-year old daughter Annie is so much like me it’s scary.

I realized how much Annie is like me as I drove her to a doctor appointment in Utah. I almost drove off the side of University Avenue in Provo while listening to her rattle off her long list of urgent goals. She sounded so much like the college version of me that I screamed, “Annie, you sound just like me!”

I quickly apologized, knowing that she might not appreciate the comparison.

I felt like I needed to assimilate what I was experiencing. It sounded like she read all my journal entries and absorbed them in her DNA somehow.

“I’m so stressed Mom. I need a plan! I need to know how everything is going to progress over the next four years. And, by the way, I don’t think I can do everything I want to do in four years. I think it will take five. I want to do an internship in Africa. (Oh, and did I tell you I’ve been learning the tribal languages? I have words and sentences taped around my dorm room.) But, back to how I need a plan. I need to know how to schedule out my classes over the next five years so I don’t miss anything.”

“Annie, slow down. You don’t have to know these things now!”

Hypocrite, a little voice echoes in my head.

“Mom,” she protested. “I don’t want to waste time!”

“Annie, you’ve been her for six weeks! You can’t expect to know your major, have every semester’s schedule planned in advance, and know your career plans now. It will all evolve. You don’t have to control it all right now.”

Hypocrite! The voice says a little louder.

Be quiet, I command the inner voice. I’m an adult now, and I don’t need to know my entire life’s plan. I trust the universe and all those other platitudes. Don’t you think I remember how I obsessed over my short and long-term plans, and how frustrated I became when I didn’t know everything I needed to know to fill in the blanks of my entire life? I’m not like that anymore.

Hypocrite!

Well, I am wondering about this empty nest life I’m facing. But, I’m confident it will evolve naturally, and my life will still be fulfilling, rewarding, and fun.

Ah huh…

“Mom, it’s just that everything is so important now,” Annie said. “I just can’t afford to waste time or I won’t get what I want.”

“Annie, this is so eerie! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said exactly what you’re saying. Now I wish I’d slowed down a bit. It’s good to have plans, but sometimes you have to let life happen. Sometimes we get so consumed with our plans, schedules, goals and dreams that they become burdens and just pile on more stress. If you don’t loosen your grip on your plans sometimes, you miss out on some of the lessons you really need to learn.”

John Lennon~

Wasn’t it John Lennon that said something about how life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans? Plan or no plan, life just happens sometimes. I’m all about letting it happen now.

Sure you are, the voice whispers.

“Mom, you don’t get it. Everything matters more now that I’m in college.”

I know she’s right. I felt that way too when I was in college. I believed it even more when I had children. Wasting valuable time was my worst fear. I wanted to remind her that life doesn’t always go according to The Big Plan. In fact, sometimes it goes way off The Big Plan and we need a little flexibility to accommodate for the stuff we didn’t anticipate. But, I let it go, knowing that I was already in eye-rolling territory.

A few days after I came home, she called and said, “Mom, I’ve been thinking about my life and how things have played out for me lately. I mean, I had a big plan, and it didn’t work out. When I tore my ACL playing lacrosse everything changed for me. It took me out of my favorite sport during my senior year, and killed my dream of playing college lacrosse, at least for now. It’s weird how things change because in college, nobody knows the “me” I was at home. I’ve lost my status as class president, my athletic ability, my friends, and everything that was familiar and comfortable to me, but I realize now that I can find new things and just rework the plan a bit. I can build my confidence in other areas, and it’s all okay.”

I hung up the phone thinking, I love that girl — that cooler, wiser version of me. I love that sometimes when I hold back from spewing out too much advice, she learns more from her own life experiences than she ever could from my words. Then she one-ups me and teaches me something new.

As I move into my new phase of empty nest life, and lose all my labels, I’m going to dip into Annie’s well of wisdom and rework the plan, build my confidence in new areas, and trust that it will all be okay.

After all, it’s working out pretty well for her.

Friends

Things you don’t say…

My oldest daughter just turned 21 years old.

She is home for the summer working to bulk up her bank account after draining it with a semester abroad in London with side trips all around Europe. (Oh, to casually say, “When I lived in Europe…”)

I’ve noticed a new maturity about her since she came home.  Some are small things like how she makes her bed, whips up masterpiece desserts in the kitchen, and actually seems to enjoy being a mentor for her younger sister.

There are the big things too like how she is planning for an independent future.  She resists the idea of graduate school but knows she selected a major (human development) that essentially requires more education to use it in the working world. Her future is coming at her too fast and she doesn’t feel ready for it.  In fact, at 21, she feels old.

I remember being at that transition stage of my life and 21 really did seem old.

She casually mentioned recently that she doesn’t have her life all planned out like I did when I was her age.  Ah, sorry to break it to you honey, but I certainly did not have my life planned out when I was 21 years old.

In fact, I distinctly remember believing that if I could just make three major life decisions, the rest of life would be just a smooth walk down my well-planned life path.

As I pondered my life when I was a student roaming around the campus of Utah State University, I thought the three most important decisions in life were what to do for a living, where to live, and who to marry.

While those might be major decisions, I was extremely naïve about them being my only big life decisions.  It shocked me when the decisions just kept coming and the path never smoothed out.  Instead, my path had sharp corners where I couldn’t see what waited on the other side.  There were steep hills, dark areas, and lots of surprises.

I explained to her that when we look back, things seem planned out because the awkward transitions from one phase to another don’t really show up on resumes and in conversations about our past. The murky parts get skipped most of the time.

So now that she is contemplating life and where she’ll go, I wonder whether I’ve taught her enough.  (I clearly misled her about my life following a well-thought out blueprint.)

She knows how to do laundry, make dinner, and manage money.  She knows how to create and sustain friendships, fill up a tank of gas, and get the oil in her car changed regularly.  She even knows how to host a great party, make small talk with strangers, and boy, can she pull an outfit together.

She knows the importance of faith, and how to draw on the powers of heaven for direction and comfort.

There are so many other things I want to teach her.  Unfortunately, they are the kinds of things that cause eye rolls, and groans.

There are definitely things I don’t say because they don’t easily fit into conversations. In fact, they would mostly be categorized as lectures.

Here is the lecture I’ve wanted to deliver lately:

Don’t ever doubt your beauty or your power.  You will have instances every day that will make you doubt both. Your beauty is yours. Don’t look at Kate Middleton and want to be like her.  Just be your kind of beautiful.  And don’t doubt what you can do because you see others who do things better. This is probably the biggest mistake women make.  We compare ourselves to everyone around us and it zaps us of our self-worth and power.  If you start believing others are better, smarter, prettier, etc., you start to withhold your contributions from the world, thinking they are too small, too insignificant to share.  This thinking is flawed.  You are magnificent in every way, and you must make your mark on the world with all the confidence you can muster.  God created you to make a difference, to stand out, to believe in yourself.  Don’t hold back.  Give the world your best every day and send the self-doubts packing every time they rise up their destructive little heads.

 I know that you and your friends follow blogs with beautiful brides and GQ husbands who live in Pottery Barn homes with clean, well-dressed children. Naturally, you want to be like them, look like them, and have the kind of marriages that you imagine they have. Remember they put all the pretty, glossy stuff online.  They leave the gritty stuff out.  So don’t buy into the perfect life idea.  There are no perfect lives, even if blogs make it look like it. Oh, there are great, happy lives, (I have one) and you will have one too if you set your mind on it, and always choose to be happy.  But, create your vibrant life in your own way, and remember you’re reading only the bright and lovely things of their lives.

No matter what happens in your life, remember this:  NEVER want something or someone so much that you compromise for less than you deserve. 

 Now, it will be hard to find the right man because not just any ordinary guy will do.

 You have so much to offer and that means your Mr. Right must have a lot to offer you. 

 You can have fun with different guys and enjoy their company but don’t even think about marrying a man who isn’t worthy of you.

(I could tell you whether he’s worthy but you’re not going to want that when you’re cross-eyed in love.)

So I want to tell you my marriage advice now, hoping that it will burn into your heart, and become part of your love radar.

This is what I want for you:

  • A man who has fought just as hard as you have to do what’s right; a guy that never retreated, gave up or took the easy way out. I want you to marry a man who shares your beliefs and values, and has a past to prove it.
  • A man who values education as the only way to have a happy, productive, enlightened life as a successful, contributing member of society.
  • A man who loves God just like you do and puts His will first always.
  • A man who loves his family, honors his parents, and respects and honors women, and cherishes children.
  • A man who wants a strong woman for a wife, a woman who will lead the family with confidence and courage, a woman who will speak her mind and exert her independence in healthy, productive ways; a man who will support your dreams in every way and never hold you back from achieving your own success.
  • A man who can laugh at the silly foibles of life and take mistakes in stride.
  • A man without a temper.
  • A communicator, someone who will talk about everything with you and listen to you with his heart to really know who you are, what you want, and what you’re trying to say.
  • A hard worker, someone who never sits back and expects success to come to him without serious, hard work and continued learning and education.
  • A big, tender heart; a sense of humor, and a man who will be a great addition to our family.
  • Someone that you can stand next to at the trailhead of your lives, and see a beautiful vista open up in your future — a big panoramic view of opportunities, fun, family, love, and everything you’ve ever wanted.  I want your heart to feel full, but light, and happy. 
  • I want you feel like he will make you a better person because he believes in you, sees your divine nature, and wants to nurture you to be every good thing you can possibly be.
  • I want you to feel safe with him in every way — emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, and physically.
  • I want you to feel confident that he will always hold your hand, walk down the same path with you and, never stray and go off on his own path.  
  • I want you to love how he sees you because you will see yourself through his eyes for the rest of your life.  Make sure you LOVE how he makes you feel about yourself because you won’t believe how his love and vision of you will get you through some very tough times. There will be times when you need to rely on his vision of you because it is better than the one you have for yourself, and it will elevate you, enlighten you, and make you return to loving yourself. Just trust me on this one.

I know this is lofty list, and you probably shouldn’t show it to a date because he will think you have a psychotic and overprotective mother, but it’s what’s in my heart.  It’s probably in every mother’s heart.  We are wired to want the best lives for our kids.  The person you marry will have the greatest influence on your happiness in your future.

I will love the man you love.  But, I won’t be able to stand happily at your wedding if your dreamy, handsome husband doesn’t also make you feel like a million bucks every single time you look into his eyes.

I want to look at him and know that he will never break your heart, never be less than you deserve.  I want you to have the assurance that he is a man of deep, solid substance.

I guess in the end, I want you to marry someone exactly like your dad.  He meets all these qualifications and more.

If you hold out for someone like that, I’ll never have a day of worry in my life about your happiness.

I’ll confidently smile at you on your wedding day knowing you chose a man who will make you happy.

Your happiness will be his mission in life, his reason for living, and I will thank God from the deepest part of my soul for giving you the very best, a man like your dad, the kind of man you deserve.

(This goes for you too Annie!)