Happy Mothers’ Day to….Me!

For many years, Mothers’ Day was a day of conflicting emotions for me. I had a powerful longing for recognition and appreciation that often was unfulfilled in some way, and I also had the accompanying guilt that maybe I didn’t deserve the rewards I hoped for in the first place. There were nagging doubts about whether I was doing a good job. There was also the burden of identity involved. I became a mom at 22, right out of college, and still had a lot of unresolved questions about who I wanted to be in the world. I relied on my husband to bolster my neurotic ego and assure me that I was exceeding expectations doing a job that was valuable and appreciated. He did a great job at that for many years, and for that, I will always be grateful.

I still long for appreciation around Mothers’ Day, even though my kids have all flown the nest years ago. I spent 12 years at home concentrating on doing my best at that one job and the next 12 years trying to do my best at that job plus another one outside the home. Now, I know that I did just fine. My kids tell me that, and I believe them. But my co-parent, my late husband, is not around to remind me in loving detail of the specifics….and I miss that. So this year, I decided to give myself the gift of cherishing myself as a Mother.

My chosen medium for cherishing, looking long and lovingly at something, has always been photography. I have taken countless photos of my kids and my husband — intimate, spontaneous, ordinary as well as posed. I wish someone had recorded my image with that kind of generous eye.

Well, it turns out someone did. Not exactly someONE, several someones. Whether with their own camera or with mine and my instruction (I used an AE-1 manual for 30 years), I have managed to gain a collection. I went through my albums and digitally scanned 48 images this morning.  Now, should my memory fail me in the coming years, I have photographic reminders that I did snuggle, feed, play with, teach, comfort, listen to, attend to, and applaud my four children year after year after year.

I have had a happy motherhood. I don’t need my husband to tell me that. I don’t even need my children to tell me that, although I’m really glad they do. I am owning my happy motherhood myself this year. I think it’s a great gift!

Here is a gallery from my collection as proof:

Expressions of Love

Last night I attended an Engagement Party in honor of my son and his fiancee, hosted by her beautifully kind and generous mother. It was the first opportunity for our two families to meet together as a group and learn about each other. The setting was a restaurant in Chicago owned by a friend of the host. The owner addressed us after each course to give us information about the wines he had selected to accompany the food. There was such a delightful atmosphere of appreciation and curiosity and exuberance flowing around that dynamic place!

After dessert, the hostess requested a song from the Galasso clan. We managed to respond with a 3-part round of “Dona Nobis Pacem” – give us peace. After that, the bride’s grandfather’s travelling companion, a retired singer from Haiti, sang a beautiful song in Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish myself, but easily recognized the phrase “Te quiero” returning longingly throughout. It reminded me of the first letter my late husband Jim wrote to me when I was a sophomore in High School. He was taking Spanish classes then; I was taking Italian. He wrote “Te quiero” at the bottom of that letter. I didn’t know what it meant. It wasn’t “Te amo” or “Ti amo”, but something different.  I had to look it up.

Te quiero. A new love, casual, close, lively. Not as intense and romantic as “Te amo”, it translates more literally to “I want you”.

I want Love. I want Peace. I want a future full of happiness…for everyone, really.

And now, I want to share a gallery of expressions from family and friends, expressions of love (especially for my mother and siblings in California!). 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Against the Odds

What are the odds of marrying your High School sweetheart and keeping your vows “until parted by death” in the 21st century?

scan0027 What are the odds of having open heart surgery at age 31?

ancient suffering

What are the odds of having the love you have, the life you have, the family you have, the memories you have? 

Well, I don’t think the odds mean anything. People don’t live by the numbers. We live by the moment.  Don’t you?

sunset-jim-001_new
Against the Odds

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Two years ago, I did a blog project that I called “80 Years in 8 Days” which was a birthday gift for my mother, who lives half a continent away in California. Today, she is celebrating the 82nd anniversary of her natal day. She is still my favorite friend to call on the phone and talk to about all kinds of interrelated subjects, artistic, intellectual, gastronomical, familial and otherwise. We usually take no less than an hour in our visit, and at its conclusion she says, “Oh, honey! Talking to you is like a month in the country! Which country, I’m not sure….”

When a daughter and her mother get along famously, it is cause for celebration, even if they aren’t celebrities like Carrie and Debbie. I am fortunate to be in a grand relationship with a grand mother. If you care to get to know her better, take a look at the 8 days of blog posts: Day 1 – Ten Background BitsDay 2 – Ten Family Foods, Day 3 – Ten Musical Memories, Day 4 – Ten Parenting Principles, Day 5 – Ten Silly Sayings, Day 6 – Ten Administrative Aids , Day 7 – Ten Lessons Learned, and Day 8 – Ten Inspirational Instructions. If reading these gives you any renewed awareness, gratitude or appreciation for your own relationship with your mother, then then this New Year’s Birthday gift will be doubled. Thank you!

Granne Louise

Weekly Photo Challenge: FUN! and Booty Shaking

I gotta admit, I am a more (ahem!) serious photographer. Nature close-ups, landscapes and the like are hardly the stuff of Booty Shaking shots. And when I’m in the midst of having fun, I usually don’t have my camera out. It’s a relatively big one, a piece of equipment that represents an uncharacteristic birthday splurge for me.  So, it’s not like I’m popping shots from the hip while out clubbing.  However… my kids came to my birthday party and danced in the living room once. 

jubilant

And then there was that New Year’s Eve we opened some Christmas Crackers…

mirth 5

My brother’s wedding reception was a great dance party!

Hora Loco dancer

Andy Josh

Yeah, I’m a pretty mellow kind of person, but I do like to have FUN in my own way!

yoda selfie
Fun!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Jubilant Wedding

jubilant 2

Going through my memory card files, I came across this photo from my daughter’s wedding. Perfect for this theme! There’s only one problem – I don’t think I took this shot. My camera was handed off to my son, who handed it off to his girlfriend, and I think SHE took this picture of him. Hats off to you, Daena Wallace, for this great capture!  Here’s one I did take that day…

time warp
Jubilant