Filed under: Graced Moments, Motherhood, Raising Sons, Unconditional Love | Tags: commitment (2), community (2), contagious, courage (2), grace (6), integrity (2), journey (2), love (10), milestones, mothering, optimistic, satisfaction, sing (2), spellbound, strength (4), tenderness | August 6th, 2014
He leaves her little notes around the house, in the silverware drawer, on the bathroom mirror, in her favorite coffee cup. She makes sure he eats healthily, supports his dreams and believes in his goodness and integrity.
He is strength and tenderness. She is courage and grace.
They complement each other.
And three short weeks ago, Peter and Brianna committed to a life together as husband and wife.
There’s something very contagious about young love.
It draws us in and mesmerizes. It holds us spellbound. It makes one want to try a new recipe for dinner or say hello to a stranger on the street, be a better person, sing in the shower, color a picture with crayons.
Peter and Brianna make me optimistic about the future of our world. We pass the baton to our children and find such satisfaction in seeing how easily they grab hold of it and run with confidence, taking with them all our hopes and dreams invested.
I wonder if we really know our children fully until we observe them navigating the major milestones of life- making their way in a career, establishing a community of friends and colleagues, taking on the challenges of marriage and all the joys and responsibilities that go along with it.
After years of mothering and guiding and teachable moments, the tables have turned. I am a witness to my children’s journeys.
I am being taught
And baby, THIS love never felt so good!
Filed under: Graced Moments, Motherhood, Raising Sons, Unconditional Love | Tags: advice (2), By heart, dancing, Incubate, listening (2), love (10), one sun, singing, tender | July 5th, 2014
It’s all the rage. Right up there with pre-marriage counseling. And I invented it.
Peter is my first son down the aisle. The first one to get the pep talk and the unsolicited advice about marriage and women and everything he’s ever wanted to know about life but didn’t know he didn’t know!
On my way up highway 101 to our meeting place- Stack’s in Burlingame, I contemplate my speech. I have resisted the urge to bring index cards with notes. Isn’t this wisdom encapsulated within? Aren’t these things I know by heart?
Oh, now I know what that means… To know something by heart.
I’m listening to NPR and they are coincidentally interviewing Raffi, singer songwriter of songs for children. Songs that teach them about world peace and brushing your teeth and loving your family. Songs that Peter and I sang “by heart” while putting puzzles together on the living room hard wood floor, anxiously waiting for his brothers to come home from school. Synchronicity. My world is lining up to herald the beginning of a new way of life. Passing the baton so to speak. A married son. A new daughter. A new branch of the family systems map.
All those good Raffi lyrics imbedded in the heart and soul of my youngest son. Incubating. Shake your sillys out! Rise and shine and show your love all around the world! One light one sun, one sun lighting everyone.
I get to the restaurant before Peter and pick the best table near a window. I love light when I eat out. I see him enter and I wave (like a mother..). He looks taller. Can you continue to grow in your late 20′s? He walks with such confidence and grace. Comfortable in his own skin. So very unaware of the stir he creates when he enters a room.
Clear sea green eyes. Beautiful olive complexion. A heart of gold.
I only have two hours on the parking meter. Will that be enough time, I wonder? I have so much to say! I need two breakfasts! Or maybe another week! Time has run out.
My mother told me that before each of my brothers got married she bought them pajamas and told them not to discuss money on their honeymoon. My mother told me before I got married- she was ahead of her time- to never depend on a man to support you! That seemed harsh at the time and I told her so. And we argued. But I understand her words now and have not forgotten them.
I took them to heart.
It occurs to me that Peter is going to remember everything I say this morning.
One hour and 45 minutes later- eggs, cheese, bagels, coffee, orange juice, fruit, potatoes, and a connection that is fierce between a mother and her son, we conclude. There’s more to say, no doubt. The love is palpable. We take a selfie, hug, and go on about our days.
I am exhausted and come home to take a nap.
When I wake up I realize that it isn’t just about what I said this morning. It’s about the years and years of love and modeling good behavior and love and tender instruction and love and singing and dancing together and love and listening late at night and love and respecting others and playing fair and world peace and making your bed and shaking your sillys out.
We covered all that in the last 28 years. Peter’s good to go.
All things considered, I’m hoping my other two sons wait for a bit to get married until I’ve recuperated from this mandatory event. I pray that Rob and Patrick know all this by heart and that our breakfast will be just a recapitulation of years and years of Raffi songs, loving your family, doing your chores and one sun shining on everyone.
One love, one heart
One heart warming everyone
One hope, one joy
One love filling everyone.
Filed under: Being a Daughter, The Power of Positive Thinking, Unconditional Love | Tags: Daughter (2), death, forgiveness, honor, hospitality, love (10), mistakes, networking, optimism, passion (3), potential, princess, smile, song, visualize | June 13th, 2014
1. How to swim in the ocean.
2. To always take my vitamins.
3. How to use a thesaurus to improve my writing.
4. Army songs… (I left, I left, I left my wife and a 15 kids, over there, over there…)
5. That a freshly showered man in a nice suit is something to behold.
6. To smile often because I’m pretty when I smile.
7. That daily exercise is an important part of keeping fit.
8. To honor my mother.
9. That it’s perfectly acceptable to break out in song wherever and whenever.
10. The gift of hospitality.
11. To always be optimistic, dash negativity, visualize the life you desire.
12. The fine art of networking.
13. How to underline meaningful sentences in my personal books and read them again and again.
14. That everyone I meet is a potential friend.
15. That I am actually a princess. (Didn’t you know?)
16. That fresh figs are God’s most perfect food.
17. How to write a love letter.
18. That people make mistakes and need forgiveness.
19. That real men cry.
21. How to let a man lead on the dance floor.
22. That ” it is what it is” and “that’s a crock of bull”!
23. To say I love you always and often.
24. To never give up.
I had a different relationship with my dad than my five older brothers had. I’m sure their blog about Edmund Francis Shaheen Sr. would be quite different.
Therefore the twenty fifth thing I learned from my dad..
25. There is no denying the special bond between a father and his little girl.
Love you and miss you, Dad.
Filed under: Graced Moments, Motherhood, Raising Sons, Unconditional Love | Tags: camping, contemplate, divorce (2), faithful, First born (2), GI Joes, Grampa Healy, history, keeper, rooted, things, touchstone, transition (2), wings | May 23rd, 2014
My oldest son texted me during dinner last night. “Hi Mom! I’m going to swing by your house tonight after my final if that’s ok. Need to grab some of my camping stuff.”
I am quietly thrilled. I am the keeper of things.
He arrives as I finish up the dishes and wipe the kitchen counters. I hug my first born son- life changer, trail blazer, heart breaker, 33 years of connection, love, and journey together infused in an embrace.
We walk the time line through the laundry room and into the garage where the archives of family life line the walls- boxes labeled “Patrick’s GI Joes”, “brio train”, “Christmas decorations”, “dress up clothes”, the wooden toy horse made by Grampa Healy, a shelf crammed with size 13 crocs. We rest our eyes on the row of sleeping bags and tents above the work bench and the requisite green plastic tubs that hold the treasures of camping trips of yore- plastic table cloths autographed and decorated by camping buddies, liquid dish soap, camping stoves, a variety of pots and pans, lanterns, plastic forks and spoons, make shift coffee makers, propane tanks, camping games.
I am the keeper of things. I have worked over- time trying to keep life consistent and predictable for my three sons through two major relocations, new schools, new friends, various homes, their parents’ divorce, the transition to college and eventually to adulthood and the fast and furious challenge of living in the Silicon Valley. I have housed their baseball cards and dress suits, amplifiers and cast off instruments, baseball mits, autographed baseballs, baseball hats, high school yearbooks, art projects, stuffed animals, and boomerang plants. Cartons of camping gear tucked high on garage shelves. More sleeping bags and tents than one family could possibly utilize. The family pictures. I have intentionally rooted myself so that they could be free to explore and take risks and chances in the world yet still find their way back to a touchstone of familiarity and an infusion of security.
I look at my handsome 33 year old son in the soft light of a bare energy efficient bulb. He’s quite a man. A full time job at Facebook, a new car, a flat in Palo Alto. He phones his 31 year old brother, Patrick, to make sure he’s not forgetting anything they might need. They discuss Nate and Chris and Todd and Sam and the things that they agreed to bring for the camping trip. Good friends from high school. Solid friends. Rooted friendships.
We hug goodbye and share an “I love you”. He drives away in his sleek dependable Subaru- the temperamental yet utterly faithful Volvo thankfully a remnant of the past.
I linger in the garage contemplating my youngest son Peter’s pending wedding this summer and Patrick’s journey through grad school in Denver to his current professional life in Santa Clara.
They are rooted. They have wings.
How much longer will I need to be the keeper of things?
Filed under: Being a Daughter, Motherhood, Unconditional Love | Tags: Attitude (2), complicated, embrace (3), food is love, kitchen, Lebanese, lifetime, peanut butter, pray (2), relationship (2), siblings | May 9th, 2014
1. To save all my receipts from everything
2. To stand up straight and hold my shoulders back
3. How to pluck my eyebrows so that they don’t run together above my nose
4. How to roll a pot of stuffed grape leaves in less than an hour
5. How to iron parts of a shirt in the correct order
6. How to cook without a recipe
7. To love my siblings but never go into business with them
8. To sing Broadway show tunes while cooking
9. That peanut butter on anything is a perfectly acceptable meal
10. To not say bad words (unless you say them in Arabic)
11. How to entertain friends, strangers and angels and make them all feel welcome in your home
12. How to cook for 20 people when only 6 are coming for dinner
13. How to embrace the feminine in the midst of a male dominated household
14. That food is love
15. That I am as Catholic as I am Lebanese
16. To wake up in the morning with a good attitude and smell the coffee no matter how bad the previous day was
17. How to boss someone around the kitchen (♥ Breezy)
18. To pray the rosary when I cannot sleep
19. How to raise sons to be strong, compassionate and loving men
20. How to stretch one pound of meat to feed eight people
21. To sleep in the bed I made for myself (You’ve made your bed, now lie in it!)
22. How to wrap my babies tightly, hold them closely, and sing to them sweetly
23. How to trust God’s plan even in the most desperate situations
24. That love is stronger than death
My relationship with my mother was complicated until I had my first born son. After which I realized the most important thing she taught me. A lesson to last a lifetime.
25. How to be a mother
Filed under: Being Catholic, Midlife Mischief, Motherhood, Raising Sons, Testing the Limits, Unconditional Love | Tags: Catholic (3), detox (2), golden retrievers, Good Friday, mums the word, smug, TZ, UBER, urban | April 19th, 2014
“It’s called Technology” says my youngest son, Peter, as he walks me through downloading the app for UBER and showing me how it works. We are at some groovy cafe in the Marina District of San Francisco having “detox” salads sans the chicken. ”It’s Good Friday” I remark to which my cradle Catholic son snarls “So what?”
I am feeling old.
He thinks I’m out of touch with technology (although I can create a mean excel spreadsheet and share a google doc with the best of them) and my religion is regarded as dated and useless.
As I attempt to keep up with my 6’2″ son forging the steep hill towards his home, Peter gives me last minute instructions on the goldens, Lua and Willow. ”Make sure they know who is boss? Don’t let them walk you! Be in charge!” I listen carefully and nod appropriately like a good student.
When we get home, Peter shows me on line how to get to the Spa International where he and Brianna have so generously made a reservation for me to have a 90 minute massage. As we discuss different routes and terrain I begin to make a rustic map with pen and paper. ”Mom! It’s easy! Fillmore runs parallel to Pierce and is intersected by Green which runs parallel to Union and Chestnut where we just had lunch!” When he turns his back to rummage through a drawer in the dining room sideboard looking for a parking pass so that I am not towed from the three hour parking two blocks away, I give him a swift but gentle kick in the teezy (that’s butt in Arabic) and tell him “Hey! I raised three boys! Don’t ever underestimate the power of your 5 foot 4, 130 pound mother!”
I think he gets the message. Nonetheless, as he kisses me sweetly goodbye, I set an intention to prove to Peter that THIS suburban, durable, and low maintenance 50 something year old woman can master the urban universe! Armed with my UBER app, a double dog leash and poop bags, my homemade map and some good walking shoes, I launch.
First matter of affairs is a walk with the girls. I gather sunglasses, reading glasses, keys to the house, ID, a credit card and kleenex into a little Nicaraguan purse and hook up Lua and Willow on the front porch. I, of course, inform them that I am the boss. They listen about as well as I do..
Around the block we go as I recite to myself “Ok we took a left turn and then another left so we’ll take another left and left again on Green and we should be home.” Easy breezy. But of course I get distracted wondering what’s down THAT street. Suddenly I find my self turned around. Oh Lordy.
Thank goodness the girls know their way home. At every corner they nudge directions. I figure we are either heading towards home or to one of their other favorite destinations miles from nowhere. Fortunately it was the former.
After a quick snack, one for each of us, I anticipate the arrival of my friend, Jennifer, and her daughter Margot, the opportunity ripe for a visit being that they live right around the corner from Peter and Brianna. Sharing a bottle of fine Italian wine the afternoon slipped by and soon it was time for me to leave for my spa treatment. One more round the block with the girls and I’m off on foot up and down hills and through the maze of Friday night shoppers and happy hour partiers along Fillmore.
The massage was spectacular!
In a relaxed stupor, I manage to hail the UBER by a simple touch of an app and two minutes later Saba arrives in her Toyota Corolla chariot to whisk me home.. Feeling quite smug that I remembered to write down Peter and Breezy’s address on a post it, disaster is averted. However, not entirely.
As I was greeted at the front door by my excited granddogs I regaled in my technological success. I reached for my phone to text Peter that the spa and UBER activity went down without a hitch I clearly realized that my phone was nowhere to be found. Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
The UBER website gives me my driver’s phone number but without a phone that’s not helpful. I run outside hoping to find a friendly house with lights on where I can knock on the front door, explain my situation and make the call. But no one seems to be willing to open their door at 9pm on a Saturday night. I flag down a sweet high school girl running home from her Lacrosse practice and she is delighted to help me out. Mission accomplished. I make contact with Saba and she is on her way back to Green Street with my phone.
It is now 9:30pm and my relaxing 90 minute massage has gone south. At 10:15pm I am still standing in the middle of the street wondering if I will ever see Saba or my cell phone again. Then she arrives.
Now exhausted, the girls and I sit down to watch some TV and finish the bottle of wine. (I finish the bottle of wine.)
So all is well and as far as Peter knows everything went as planned this weekend. He’ll be home late this evening and by then I will be on the road back to suburbia. Do you like the picture of the girls and me in this post? Well, that was snapped by a nice German man right before a little leashless mutt walked by and caused my pups to take quick and dirty flight. Yes, I went down for the count. But that’s another blog…
Tonight I am going to hobble into the Easter Vigil Mass at the Mission Santa Clara. I am a little sore but happy.
I mastered the urban universe Rosemarie-style.
Oh.. BTW. Don’t tell Peter what REALLY happened.
Mums the word. :)
Filed under: Being Catholic, Graced Moments, Motherhood, My Lenten Journey, Unconditional Love | Tags: blessed (2), connection, dormant, dreamer, forgiven, goodness, grace (6), inspiration, inspire, lover, nurturer, perfect, precious, prosperity, sacrifice (3), solidarity (2), united, womb | April 14th, 2014
Hail Mary, full of grace
At a Lenten overnight retreat with 65 adolescent girls.
The Lord is with thee
Yoga pants, push up bras, still trying to make sense of their bodies and their souls, clear skinned and broken complexioned, immature and seeking- all seen and heard and embraced by a higher power.
Blessed are you among women
You are precious and perfect in God’s eyes, a temple of the Holy Spirit, hope for the world. Don’t ever underestimate what lies yet dormant within you. You are destined for goodness and prosperity.
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus
Co-creators with God, the capacity to bring forth life both literally and figuratively. Nurturer, dreamer, lover, sanctuary. You have so much to give. I wish you could see what I see when I look at you.
Holy Mary, mother of God
Look within yourself for inspiration and strength. Look outside yourself and see your journey unfold. Reach out and make a holy connection with all of human kind. You are never alone in this world.
Pray for us sinners
Let Mary be your spiritual mother. Let her life and her sacrifice inform your every decision. You are loved and forgiven. Again and again and again.
Now and at the hour of our death
Live like there is no tomorrow. Take joy in this day. Be the woman you are destined to be. Start now. Don’t dilly dally. Your life is precious and you are already on the path. Be kind. Be in solidarity with the poor and the poor in spirit. Be the womb that gives forth life.
Be a woman of God.
Filed under: Graced Moments, Midlife Mischief, Nurturing the Soul, Raising Sons | Tags: boomerang, cocktail, coffee (2), fern, french blue, fugitive, nurture, plentiful, poinsettia, repotted, spring, stately, thrive | March 23rd, 2014
Last Sunday as I opened the window over my kitchen sink to let in the warm spring air I turned around and noticed this beautiful healthy poinsettia sitting quite proudly on the island, definitely out of place. Who keeps a $7 poinsettia alive not only through the Christmas season but way into March?? Ah.. the challenges of having a green thumb.
My home is beginning to look like a nursery. Give me a plant? You can bet it will be twice the size next time you come over. My indoor plants take all the love and attention I can muster. I often give them baths in my bathtub or kitchen sink so that they can luxuriate in a cocktail of plentiful filtered water and the morning’s left over coffee. I swear they are smiling as they absorb the nutrients and attention! (Maybe it’s the cocktail I’m drinking.. ?)
Most people worry about having boomerang children in midlife. I’m happy to say that my three sons are living on their own and thriving. No, rather, I have boomerang houseplants. Let me explain…
My two oldest sons lived together during and after college for several years. When Patrick left for Denver to attend graduate school, he divided his house plants between Rob and me for safe keeping. I was happy to house and nurture almost 10 plants for Patrick during the three years he was gone. In the meantime, Rob moved home for a short time, bringing all of his plants plus Patrick’s. I worked overtime to absorb the extra greenery. Eight months later, Rob moved out, taking only his favorite plant- a remnant of a long lost lover- and leaving the rest with me.
Do the math! My plants plus Patrick’s plants plus Robert’s plants and Patrick’s plants minus one plant. Yikes! My photosynthesis runneth over!
Low and behold, Patrick finished graduate school and moved back to San Jose. When I asked him about reclaiming his plants, he said “Don’t worry Mom! I’ll just buy some new ones!” Oh Lordy! However, once settled in his new digs, he came over to collect his bounty. Among them the beautiful Japanese Maple I gave him for his college graduation, a prolific rose colored geranium, and, to my dismay, a delicate fern that I had repotted in a lovely french blue pot that went perfectly with the decor in my guest room. ( …most likely payback for me letting his homegrown-from-a-pit avocado tree freeze to death in my back yard winter of 2013.)
However, Patrick was generous enough to leave me a cactus that had grown arms, boobs and hair since he left (“she clearly loves it here, Mom!”) and a stately coffee tree that adorns the landing of my staircase. I am also housing a fugitive ficus tree stolen in a drunken dare by both sons and their friends off a porch in Berkeley a la college years. Believe me, if I knew whose it was I would return it! But until then it will grace the corner of my living room reaching almost to the ceiling.
I repotted several plants last weekend, among them a Bleeding Heart that I actually purchased myself several years ago.
That’s me.. a bleeding heart. A hostel for a feral cat and closets full of men’s suits and baseball cards. My home is a revolving door to children, friends, and homeless plants. I am honored.
Be green, dear thumb. Be green.
Filed under: Hip Hip Hooray!, Midlife Mischief, Testing the Limits | Tags: alcohol, caffeine, coffee (2), dairy, detox (2), free people, gluten, kool-aid, levitate, redeemed, sugar | March 2nd, 2014
I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid and I’m detoxed, de-flead, delightful, decompressed, delivered from sin and indecisive about the results, end product, over-all value of the experience and determination to continue some kind of gluten, sugar, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, throw caution to the wind never again kind of life-style.
Did you follow all that? Perhaps you need a detox so that you can think more clearly and join the ranks of the “free people” who will certainly reach a state of nirvana in this lifetime.
“Let me know how it turns out!” said my friends and co-workers. It’s like bungee jumping. If you are alive at the end with no major injuries you might be able to convince other people to do it! But for the time being, they are content to watch you endure it all.
The crowning event of my 14 day detox was the day 13 Faculty Appreciation Dinner at my place of employment, Presentation High School. Several weeks ago I signed up to do my duty and bring a dish to the event. I accidentally signed up for the “free” table. And I mean gluten, sugar, dairy, peanut, unknown additive free table. Oh well, I figured what’s the big deal? I was told that only the “free people” would be eating from this table. The rest of the group would be consuming the “catered” option.
At the end of the night I took home at least 99/100ths of my homemade arugula, cucumber, green onion, mushroom, tomato, toasted pecan with oil and vinegar (on the side please) salad. Where were all those free people?? Did they drink the kool-aid of the fried, buttered, glutened and sugared? Glancing at the table as I reclaimed my beautiful salad, I noticed that the food had hardly been consumed. Shall we add waste-free to the agenda? Oh Lordy, the people are starving in Biafra and we are picking at our plentiful food sources!
So the final evaluation? Drum roll please..
- I gave up coffee and am switching to green tea in the morning.
- I have so much energy from this detox that I haven’t really slept in 14 days.
Rather anti-climatic isn’t it?
Overall, I’m happy that I joined the ranks of the ”free people” and have had the discipline to do a 14 day detox. Now I know. I’ve been redeemed. I can enter into all those crazy conversations that the “free people” have and sound intelligent and informed. I can go to Whole Foods and find the chia and flax seeds and know how to use them. I am dangerous. I can spot a gluten in a list of ingredients.
I have drunk the kool-aid and lived to tell the story.