Friday, 31 January 2014

Hey! If I met me, I'd want to be friends.


Hey! If I met me, I'd want to be friends.
31 January 2014

I think a natural progression of growing older, is getting to know yourself better.  Of coming to terms with who you are.  Of realising your strengths, identifying your weaknesses and working on them.

However, the greatest gift of getting older, is accepting yourself for who you are. 

Now I know that I said we work on the weak areas, and it’s only right.  But still, on the whole, you accept the person you are.

Not so many of the youthful hang-ups remain.  One’s focus shifts.  You see the wood for the trees.  Realise what’s important.  Focus on the good.  Forgive yourself for your mistakes and your past.  And turn your attention to the future.  Keep your eye on the greatness that still lies ahead.  Strive to do even better.

Everything in your life, until this point, has shaped who you are.  Led you on this path.  Turned you into the person you’ve become. 

You don’t beat yourself up anymore for the things you can’t change.  You learn to live with your shortcomings.  And see them as merely a portion of yourself.  Not the whole thing.  Because if you don’t, you can make yourself terribly unhappy.

No amount of willpower, is going to make my nose smaller.  So I might as well accept it.  As resistance to my shnozz is futile.  It’s there.

However I don’t need to like the selfish part of myself.  That dark little corner, I don’t really like anybody else to see.  Now that – that is a bit I can work on.  And I do.

But in general I’ve realised that if I were to meet myself, I’d probably want to be friends. 

In a warped kind of way, it even makes sense.

Me and Me would make awesome BFF’s.  We’d like the same people.  Share the same family.  We’d have the same taste in clothing, and d├ęcor too.  Actually, all things considered, it would be a perfect fit.  Not so sure I’d let Me get too close to my husband.  He might fancy the other Me a lot.

Which does not mean that I think that I’m perfect or better than anybody else.  I’m just in a comfortable space with me.

So here’s my suggestion to you.  If you haven’t befriended your own Me, do so.  Perhaps take it slow in the beginning.  Work your way up to a proper honest-to-goodness friendship.  Maybe the odd coffee date in the beginning.  A walk on the beach.  Eventually working yourself up to a sleepover date.  Chances are, if you really got to know your very own Me, you’d like them too.  Sure you’ll find you have lots in common.

As for me and Me?  Actually to be honest, I like Me.  A lot.

And it’s good.
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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

We've been infected - with Beatles fever, no less


We've been infected - with Beatles fever, no less
28 January 2014

It’s like an illness is reigning in my home of late.  An epidemic of epic proportions. 

Perhaps it can be called a musical epiphany.  An auditory awakening of the senses.

Every single last one of us, has been infected.  With Beatles fever, no less.

The Beatles music, forms the soundtrack of my childhood.  The music I grew up to. 

Yes, there was lots of other music too – The Rolling Stones, Cream, Jethro Tull, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Led Zepplin, The Doors, Supertramp, etc.  Yet the prevailing flavour, was always The Beatles.  A firm favourite with everyone in the home. 

All of us knew all of my Mom and Dad’s LP’s off by heart.  Instinctively knowing, when one song finished, exactly what the next one would be.  Singing along, knowing all of the words.

By the time we picked up instruments, it was the songs we wanted to play.  That we got real enjoyment from. 

And I suppose the infection has been lying dormant for a while.  Brewing and brewing.  Festering away. 

But I had not really been actively listening to any Beatles tunes for a while.  It happens that way sometimes.

And then a cousin got married in December and we decided to do a wedding flash mob.  Only one song would do – “All you need is love”.  It was really rather obvious – a perfect fit.

And I do believe, that it is at that exact point that the virus became active once more. 

I gorged myself on that song.  Over and over and over again.  And you know how it goes with an obsession – once you have one, you simply have to have another.  Denial is futile.  And thus one Beatles song, led to another.  And another.  And another after that.

Still I ambled along in a fairly good non-terminal-infectious-state for a bit.  Until, quite per chance, I stumbled across the movie, aptly called, “Across the universe”.  My aunt had been raving about it for many years, urging me to watch it.  Yet somehow it never really crossed my path.  Until one fine day, when I bumped into it.  And I just couldn’t resist.  It is an absolutely incredible movie, using (yip you guessed it) Beatles songs to tell a story and use as a soundtrack.

And it was at this exact point, that the contamination levels rose dangerously.  Nobody was safe.  Infection levels had spread.  The virus was set free in my home, to consume all at will.  No one was safe.  Protection, inoculation and vaccination was futile.  Perhaps not even quarantine would be safe?

Cause where there’s a Beatles tune, there’s a way.

My kids are humming it.  Listening to songs on the computer.  Amber’s been fiddling playing, “Here comes the sun”, on the piano – one note at a time.  Figuring out the bits as she’s going along.

The infection got so bad, that Grant eventually resorted to making one big monster Beatles MP3 disc with as many Beatles tunes on as possible.  We have all of the CD’s, so it made sense to put them onto MP3, as one can just fit so many more songs onto one disc.

But you see, here’s the problem.  In his ignorance, he only cut one disc.  What a chop!

It is like a roaming CD at the moment.  Playing musical owners, not just songs.  Changing hands many times in one day.  Switching between Grant’s car and mine – the kids CD players in their bedrooms.  We’ve all put some songs on our cell phones too.

Still I’m suspecting, that like my folks’ LP records of late, the CD will be played until the tracks have just about been worn off.

And would you believe it, I’ve been overcome with a sense of just letting things be.  Of not worrying about yesterday.  Seeing strawberry fields forever.  Picturing myself on a boat on river.  Wanting to hold people’s hands.  Seeing diamonds in the sky.  I want to please, please me.  And you.  Realising that you can’t buy me love.  That I need a ticket to ride.  And that I don’t mind if baby drives my car.  Because something in the way she moves, attracts me like no other.  Cause I feel fine.

Actually, it’s all coming together – right now.

Over me.

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Monday, 27 January 2014

My kids have more money than me


My kids have more money than me
27 January 2014

It’s a sad fact in life, that my unemployed children have more money than me. 

The kids that don’t yet earn a living.  That are still in school.  That have not yet embarked on a career, or even chosen an employment field.  The kids that have not received a single salary cheque.  Ever.

Yip, those same kids, have more money than me. 

Something is terribly wrong with this picture.

Though it can be said, that on occasion (not always), I have more money than them, the problem is this – it’s never really earmarked for me.

Instead, it has other cavernous holes, it has to fill.  Those school fees, the municipality, Telkom, sports, extra-murals, and the bottomless pit that is their stomachs, not to mention the endless lists of holes, standing in line to be filled.

Truthfully, some never really get filled either.  Mostly, I throw a bit of money down most of the holes, to semi-pacify, yet never quite fill it.  Oh, I would give more if I could.  But the problem is this – there’s just so bloody many of them! 

And somehow the list usually tends to grow, not diminish. 

And ironically, apart from seeing to my kids financially, I don’t really give them money at all.  Oh, they get the odd tuck shop spending treat, or spending money when they go on an outing, or have a rather scarce outing to the Mall.  But mostly, I tend to buy stuff for them.  Stuff they need.

So how come they have so much money?  Well, they do a fair bit of hoarding.  Some of them save up their tuck shops bits and bobs.  Change is not really something kids give back.  And as a parent it’s understood.  Though it does also depend largely on what denomination of money you gave them in the first place.  If you give them a big note, then you expect big change.  It’s only fair.

But the biggest source of random income for kids, is birthdays.  Grannies in particular are fond of giving money – yay!!! 

And another sure-fire way for kids to get some dosh, is to have a birthday party.  Now we’re talking the big leagues.  Kids tend to give other kids cash too.  It’s a safe option, as it allows the birthday kid to choose a gift of their own, and to pool all of their birthday money takings together.  Affording them the freedom and opportunity to get something really special. 

And believe you me, they get quite a substantial amount of money!  The more guests, the more bucks.  A friend’s daughter recently got just over R4 000 at her birthday party.  To be fair, it was a rather large party, but still.  And this clever kid, bought herself a laptop.  Very wise indeed.

It’s like receiving an annual bonus, without having to put in the time, labour and effort.  Clearly a win-win.

And as it is a birthday, it is perfectly fine.  My kids always give other kids money, as they so enjoy getting money in return.

But here’s the thing – if you and I get money, it has to go somewhere.  Do something.  Pay something. 

It’s very seldom just there for the sole purpose of self-splurging and spoiling.  Which is the rather unique and privileged situation these young kids are in.

I know they absolutely love it.  Aeons are spent deciding on what to do with their money.  And it is a part of the fun and treat.

Now I’m woman enough to admit, that on occasion, I’ve pushed my kids for a small short term loan. 

No mafia loan shark anywhere, has anything on a kid owed money.  And I never quite feel that my kneecaps are safe.

Which is why I tend to aim to pay them back as quick as possible.  Same day service – my best.

Anyway, funny thing is this – pooled resources after my recent birthday a few weeks ago, left my R1 000 richer, with strict instructions, to spend the cash on myself.  And now, just like my kids, I’ve spent a disproportionate amount of time, planning and dreaming on exactly how I’m going to treat myself. 

In fact, I’m almost loathe to finally spend the money.  As the dreaming about it, as more than half the fun.

And so I think I’ll stretch it out some more.  Window shopping at quaint little shops, until I find my long lost future treasure. 

To find that one thing, I never knew, I always wanted.

Yip, I might wait a really long time.  Perhaps end up pooling next birthday’s dosh and this one’s together…

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Sunday, 26 January 2014

I suppose two out of three isn't so bad

I suppose two out of three isn't so bad
26 January 2014

As odds go, two out of three, is actually not bad.  It’s a clear majority.  A definitive 66,6%. 

Statistically speaking, you’re doing okay.  Only a 33,3% margin, to the other side.

However, I suppose it all depends on exactly what you are measuring.  What these odds indicate.  Their significance, if you like.

Now take my kids – the reason, for this specific statistical analysis.  66,6% of my kids are compliant.  And this is good.  It’s that dastardly 33,3% though, that’s the real bugger. 

Within bounds, two of them are happy to toe the line.  To follow instructions.  Oh, they might not like it very much, and they have the odd whinge or whine.  And streak of rebelliousness.  Most of this age-appropriate behaviour.  Normal even.  Part of the deal.  Accepted.  It would be strange, if they didn’t object and complain. 

But basically, they are just that – compliant.  They bend.  They understand that I’m the boss.

As a parent, this is a good thing.  It makes for fairly easy and effective parenting.

It goes like this: 
  • Give instruction = kid follows instruction
  • Explain situation = kid understands
  • Ask for patience of child before they get something = kid is patient
Etc. etc. etc.

But with that 33,3% non-compliant child, it’s not that easy. 
With them, it goes like this:
  • Give instruction = kid argues, won’t understand reasoning, defies, mumbles, grumbles, feels done-in, feels victimised, drags feet, mother’s patience diminished, tempers rise, knock-on effect on other kids
  • Explain situation = kid refuses to understand, argues with the logic, tries to find a way around the situation, mumbles, grumbles, feels done-in, feels victimised, etc. etc. etc.
  • Ask for patience of child before they get something = really why even bother

Now logically, you would think that the 66,6% majority, would overrule the 33,3% minority.  But it doesn’t.  Sadly.

Cause somehow or other, that one non-compliant kid’s behaviour, dominates the situation.  By about 99%.

It truly defies logic.

Statistics are a fine thing, if they work in your favour.  But in this instance, the minority, rules the majority.

Ironically, I think the non-compliant kid is going to get exceptionally far in life.  Possibly more so than the compliant kids.  As the non-compliant kid, strives to go against the grain, break the rules and not just blindly accept the status quo.  This child will challenge and always aim higher.

Ironic also, is the fact that the non-compliant kid, is completely compliant at school and amongst friends.

Go figure.

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Friday, 24 January 2014

Are you an over or an under?

Are you an over or an under?
24 January 2014

Now don’t let your imagination go running wild.  This is not a dirty question.  A question best reserved for bedroom pleasures.

In fact it’s perfectly reasonable.  Obvious even.

Personally I wouldn’t have thought that it mattered.  I wouldn’t thought that I cared.

But clearly, I thought wrong.  There’s a huge debate about the whole issue out there.  An online forum even.  More than one.

And what it boils down to is this:  Are you and over or an under?

Well, loo roll of course!

Do you prefer the loose bit flapping over the bog roll, or underneath it?

If you ask me, this all shouts OCD.  Actually, it screams it.  And depending on how far advanced your Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is, it might do it at regular intervals.  At a certain decibel level.  For a specific allotted time.  Repeatedly.  Pointing to the right.  Excepting on Thursdays.  Just saying.

But then I gave it some thought, I think it has affected me too…

In Helene-land, I prefer the loose flap, on top.  And I will always change a roll in this manner.  When I replace one that is.  Or my husband or kids put it in wrong…

However, I have not yet sunk to the depths where I will change the bog roll, in random places, simply because it’s wrong.  Like in the bathrooms of friends, while using the ladies’ room at my kids school, or when visiting family.  And other such places.

I am quite capable of restraining myself and of holding back.

But as for my bathroom? 

Overs, not unders baby!

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Right! So about this!
Hardly surprised to know that my way, is the obvious right way. It's logical you see!


B! B!! B!!! The answer is always B!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

I'm ashamed


I'm ashamed
23 January 2014

Shame is not an emotion I like.  It leaves me feeling uncomfortable and generally outlasts it’s welcome.  Lingering and lingering, much as I wish it was gone.

And at present, I’m feeling shame.  Even worse, I’m feeling ashamed.

Deeply so.

Worst of all, I’m not ashamed by my own actions, and hence self-loathing and self-recriminations are not an option.  I’m not the perpetrator.  The instigator of my shame.

Instead, I am blind with fury, at someone I don’t even know.  He is at the core of my ire.  And I’m happy to admit, that I’ve had a few rather violent fantasties about how I’m going to off this individual.  Cause life is surely too good for him.

I don’t believe in the death penalty.  Sorry, I can’t lie about it.  I abhor violence and the whole eye for an eye thing leaves me cold. 

Maybe this is partly due to the fact that I feel that death is just too easy.  It’s too final and relieves the criminal or the wrong-doer of emotional trauma after the deed is done, as they are no longer there.  Whereas the suffering of their victims, simply carries on, and on, and on.  Stretching on forever and ever.  So perhaps in essence, the relief of death is too good for them. 

But on this particular occasion?  Well I’m discovering a sadistic core, I never even knew I had.

And the cause of my anger?  The reason I’m so hell bent?

How can I live in a world where a twenty seven year old man, rapes a nine year old girl repeatedly, all night long?  Where she’s innocently walking from the home of her mother, to the home of her father, and she is sexually assaulted?  Where in an effort, to protect his anonymity and kill his victim, the rapist pours oil over her, laughs and sets her alight?

My mind cannot fathom cruelty of that kind.  It doesn’t want to.

My youngest son is nine.  He’s just a little boy, living in a world of his own.  His days are filled with the pleasures of being a child and the grand adventure that is life.  He doesn’t know cruelty.  He wouldn’t understand a random stranger, doing unimaginable things to him and then trying to kill him.  With extreme violence, causing unbearable pain and suffering. 

How can anyone?

Children are our future.  Every single one of them is precious.  They are to be protected and revered.  Shielded from the harshness and unforgiving cruelties of life.  Nurtured so that they can reach their full potential.

But this little girl?  Well, she’s alive.  Her whole body is covered in burn wounds, and I believe she is breathing through a tube in her mouth.  She has months and years of physical therapy and pain ahead of her, as her body will hopefully slowly start to heal.

But her soul?  I don’t think it can be fixed.  Chances are she’ll never feel safe again.  The innocence of childhood is lost for her.  Never again, will she walk home from school, or out with her friends, without fear in her heart.  For the rest of her life, she will look over her shoulder.  Feel unsafe when a man invades her personal space.

One can attempt to soothe her.  To shower her with love.  To give support to her and her family.  To be understanding.  To be compassionate.

But one can never give back that which she has lost.  Her belief that people are good.  That she deserves to be cherished, not hurt. 

In a few years’ time, when the raw wounds have healed, and all that remains are the burn scars, she will still remember.  When we have forgotten already.  She will remember. 

She might be on the playground with her friends at school, laughing and seeming to have fun.  But in a quiet moment, she’ll remember.

And as for this monster?  Well I’ve thought up a few different story lines.  Most of them entail dismembering with a blunt, rusted knife.  Slowly.  While he’s awake.  Publicly.  On a stake.  In the hot boiling sun.  Actually, best case scenario, is that he lives...

I’ve had some time, to give this some thought.

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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

I want to start a Smile-a-Thon

I want to start a Smile-a-Thon
22 January 2014

I genuinely enjoy smiling.  It is one of the few free pleasures in life, that does just that – it brings you pleasure.  But even better – not just to yourself, but the lucky recipients of your smile too.

Look, even if your smile is not the best and your teeth in urgent need of dental work, few people can resist a genuine smile.  You know those – the ones that reach your eyes and make the sides crinkle.  And a honest-to-goodness twinkle shine forth.

It is so easy to go through life with one’s head down, missioning on, on your own little mission.  With your eye only on what you have to do, where you have to go, what you have to achieve.

It is so easy, to only reserve your smile for those you love and like.  Your family and your friends.

And I get that – though perhaps for them, you save your special love-filled smile.  It’s only fair.

But for strangers?  Well, I think it’s pretty friggin awesome to smile at them too.  For them, you reserve your “look-how-friendly-I-am smile”.  As well as your “isn’t-today-a-beautiful-day smile”.  And let’s not forget your “hey-isn’t-it-awesome-to-smile-at-random-strangers-and-give-them-faith-in-the-goodness-of-people-which-automatically-lifts-their-spirits” smile.  Pretty effective, let me tell you.

When two strangers smile at one another for no apparent reason, it feels as is for that little pocket of time, they’re in complete harmony.  Synchronised.  Almost as if they’ve got their own private little secret.  One that no one else is privy to.

I’m pretty shy.  And I suppose you have to have a certain sense of confidence, to start a smile-drive, with someone you don’t know.  Still few things make me feel better and gives a more buoyant little spring to my step, than a stranger smiling at me.  Whether I started the smiling, and they’re merely reciprocating, or whether they initiated it and I’m the one responding.  It doesn’t matter. 

The end result is the important bit.  Someone I didn’t know smiled.  For that little bit of time, they felt good.  And I sure know that I did.

It really is the simple pleasures in life.  The ones that really count.  Who knows, sometimes, that smile, can be the very best thing that happens the whole day long.  Like a stolen pleasure, that’s not really forbidden.  Easier on the hips than chocolate cake.  An indulgence, not tinged with remorse, as indulgences so often are.  Not an expensive splurge on an item of clothing, or something or other. 

A complete an utter freebie, just begging to be taken.  In fact, it’s a highly addictive pastime and hobby.  Completely transportable, requiring no set-up costs, or time away from home (barring the obvious stuff you’re doing away from home already, like shopping, etc.).

Actually, if you think about it, mouths are really pretty awesome.  Such versatile items.  You can use them for the obvious – smiling.  But that’s not all.  Some of my very favourite things can be done with a mouth.  There’s kissing (especially the French kind).  There’s eating – yummy!  There’s talking – yakkety-yakkety-yak.  There’s laughing – bwahahahaha!  And there’s even singing – lalalalala!

For me personally, I’ve evolved.  And grown and grown in comfort and skill with my smiling.  Instinctively knowing, before I’ve dispensed a smile, who will return the favour.  It’s kind of like playing “Sweet and Sour”, the way kids do, when they wave at strangers.  Those that wave back are sweet.  And the grumpy ones that don’t are sour. 

Which brings me to another point – I smile, wave, pull faces, and generally act like a loon, when I see young kids in a car.  I play peekaboo behind my hands.  I stick my tongue out at them.  I make a play-play mask with my fingers.  I make a trumpet with my fingers on my nose.  Basically, I goof off.  And little kids are just the sweetest – they always respond.  They laugh.  They point at me.  They tug on their siblings and parents, to get them to share in the show.  And I must say, I do deliver.  The bonus in doing this, is that it is doubly rewarding.  You get smiles and laughs.  You gets waves in return.  You get big eyes of disbelief and giggling behind hands.  It is one of my favourite things to do.

There is no specific venue, or dedicated space, where you are restricted to the practice of smiling.  My smile-therapy is mobile, if you like.  I do it while I’m out and about driving.  Smiling at fellow motorists too.

But here’s the thing – I fear it might be contagious.  Actually, I’m really holding thumbs it is. 

Just imagine how awesome it would be, if a smile I started spreading to some random stranger in the morning, somehow came back to me again, via a different stranger in the afternoon.

So, therefore I implore you.  Let’s make the world a friendlier place.  Smile at people. 

It makes you feel good.  It makes them feel good.  It’s a natural face lift.  And it’s free.

Let’s start a smile-a-thon!


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Monday, 20 January 2014

If you're the parent, then you have to be the adult


If you're the parent, then you have to be the adult
20 January 2013

I think that when one has kids, there’s lots you don’t anticipate.  Things you don’t think of in advance.  And actually, it’s a good thing.  Cause if you really thought through the whole parenting-thing-and-all-that-it-encompasses, chances are you wouldn’t even bother.

I’m telling you, it’s a minefield out there.

That cute little baby, that’s lying in your arms so sweetly, is going to lie to you to your face.  She’s going to smoke.  And lie about it.  She’s going to be late for her curfew and lie about it too.  She’s going to fail the odd test.  She’s probably going to bunk a class, or even a day or two.  She’s going to snog her boyfriend, when she’s way too young to do so.  She’s going to sneak out.  She’s going to go through a challenging experimental faze.  She’s going to be cheeky.  She’s going to roll her eyes at you.  She’s going to get up to no good with her best friend.  She’s going to trust some drunk guy to drive her home.  Sometimes, she’ll even be the drunk one.  She’s going to sneak into pubs and clubs, with a fake ID no less.  She’s going to be reckless, and fearless and make your hair stand on end. 

Please note, that all of the above is also applicable to boy babies.  Except maybe for the snogging boyfriend bit.  But hey, it’s not impossible that your boy will be snogging his boyfriend. 

You’re going to worry about that cute little baby, one day having sex, and possibly not being safe.  Of possibly choosing an unwise partner (picture long haired, tattooed, workless charmer), and not using birth control.

You’re going to worry.  A LOT!

But here’s the thing – most of us, went through the same stuff.  We were that kid, getting in some drunk guy’s car.  We smoked and we lied to our folks about it.  We tried to bend our curfew times, and came up with inventive, sometimes even semi-plausible excuses.  We had a drink when we shouldn’t have and we were way too young to.  We snogged.

It’s part of growing up.

But now I’m on the other side of the coin.  No more happy-go-lucky-the-world-is-my-oyster teenage side.  I’m now in the parent camp.

And it scares the bejeebers out of me.

It’s a jungle out there!!!

I would rather face a hungry Great White, an angry family of snakes, and a burning inferno, than having to cope with some of this stuff. 

Cause here’s the deal - I HAVE TO BE THE PARENT.  And there is no escape.  The buck stops with me.  The discipline too.

I know – it’s really scary!

Not only is my kid growing up.  I have to grow up too. 


I’ve never had to deal with any of this stuff, from an adult’s perspective.  I’ve only been on the other side.  The irresponsible side.  The fun side.  The fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants side. 

Let me tell you, it’s pretty hair raising.  And I have bucket loads of respect to parents that have gone through this, and come out whole on the other side.  Who’ve lived to tell the tale. 

Now I haven’t gone through all of this with my kids.  Thank heavens!  But I’ve had to do some of it.  The relatively easy-ish stuff.  And I think there’s a lot more still coming up the lift.  We live in a different era and age to our kids.  Their challenges are not the same as the ones we faced. 

Still, every single time, my teenager steps out of the door and steps back into the door, I hold my breath.  Wishing protection and wisdom over him when he leaves, and grace that he was good while he was gone when he returns.

I’m not trying to be funny here, but take it from me, I seriously prefer the teenage side of the coin.  Way more!!!

Speaking for the teen I’ve got, he’s a good kid.  Most of the time.  Still this unchartered parenting of a teenager is daunting.

And from where I’m at now, I have huge amounts of respect for, and am in awe of, my folks.  They did the parenting a teenager thing, when they were still ridiculously young.  When I met my Grantie, I was seventeen and my Mom a mere thirty five.  Sure I caused her many sleepless nights.  Sorry Mom!

Holding thumbs, that I too make it through to the other side.  But not only me, my kids as well. 

And as for me?  My aim is to come out of it alive and semi-whole.  More than likely, I’ll bear physical evidence to my trials and tribulations.  More grey hairs.  Frayed nerves.  Shot nervous system.

With not too many war stories to retell.  I should be so lucky.

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