Thursday, September 24, 2015

September 23, 2015

5:15 am 

5:25 am

6:50 am

7:00 am

7:30 am

8:00 am

9:30 am

10:00 am

10:30 am

11:30 am

1:00 pm

2:15 pm

5:00 pm

6:20 pm

7:30 pm

9:15 pm

9:22 pm

9:22:10 pm

9:22:26 pm

9:22:43 pm

9:22:57 pm

This post inspired by:

Mama Kat's Writing Workshop

Prompt #2: Share a day in your life represented only in pictures and the time the pictures were taken.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Old School Blogging – The ABCs of ME

Whoo-hoo!  It's old school blogging time!  Get ready, folks.  It’s another barn-stormin’ post about MEMEMEMEMEMEMEME!


This month, I am – ahem – co-hosting with the very special president of the exclusive Old School Blogging Association, Elaine of The Miss-Elaine-ous Life.  Get out your diamonds and pearls people, because you are among royalty here.  If you play your cards right you will receive special favor from one of the association's officers: Me.

Totally made that up - there are no officers in OSB.
Wow.  You ARE a disappointment.

Just kidding!  ZING!

Ha, ha.  I don’t play cards, either.  Cards are for TRASH. (I read that on the internet this week. Been using it non-stop for three days.)

This month, OSB is all about The ABCs of Me.  Or, you, if you choose to play along.  It’s really quite simple, Martha – you copy my questions, answer them your own darn self and write your own darn blog post and link it here or on Elaine’s blog and people will comment and gush about how wonderful you are DO I HAVE TO SPELL THE CONCEPT OF BLOGGING OUT FOR YOU

Very well; I will spell it out for you.  Alphabetically, of course. 

Copy the questions.  Generate your own answers.  Link on this blog post or Elaine’s blog post. Share on social media.  Take a bow.  Watch people adore you.  You are a rock star. 

Whew.  That was hard.

* * *

The ABCs of ME – by Andrea Mowery, Official Self-Appointed Officer of the OSB Association, and Official Title Inventor for OSB Association

A- Age: 65.  Don’t I look good for my age?  Looks like I’m about 42, right?

I have waited four months to use 
this selfie on my blog.

B- Biggest Fear: I am superstitious and I hate revealing these things.  But I’ll be brave and say that I’m definitely afraid of winning the lottery and / or becoming friends with oh I don’t know, someone important like Jon Hamm or Beyoncé. Welcome, Jon Hamm. May I take your pants?

C- Current Time: 12:26 pm.

D- Drink you last had: Coffee.  And before that, more coffee.

E- Easiest Person To Talk to: My mother.  She doesn’t mind that my stories go too long, because she has lived with my father for a hundred and forty-three years.

F- Favorite Song:  I love songs way after they’ve been played out.  Still hanging onto Chandelier and Get Lucky.  Pop music is too fickle for me.  Where did all the Blank Space fans go?

G- Grossest Memory: When I was five years old, I found a piece of chocolate on the dining room table and popped it in my mouth.  It was not chocolate.  The cat had just walked across the table. 

I’m going to puke.

H- Hometown:  Small Town Pennsylvania, USA.

I- In love with: Napping.  Ham sandwiches.  A quiet house.  An hour to read.  Having all my chores done.  Putting on a pair of jeans after the summer and finding that they’re a little loose.  

Yeah – I’m aware that I said I’m in love with ham sandwiches.

J- Jealous Of: Queen Elizabeth. That honey's got the money, y'all.

K- Killed Someone?  What kind of question is this?  I mean, this could go downhill very quickly for a person.

L- Longest Relationship:  Been married for almost 16 years, holla!  Longest, though, is being a daughter/ granddaughter / sister / niece / cousin for 42 years.  Boom.

Why yes - my husband's hand is on my butt
in 90% of our wedding photos.
Why do you ask?

M- Middle Name:  Humperdinck.  My parents were HUGE Engelbert fans.  

It's Leigh.  Or IS it?

N- Number of Siblings: 2

O- One Wish:  For more wishes, duh.  If you don’t think this is a good idea then I would like to wish for your wish, too.

P- Person who you last called:  My friend Wanda.  She and I are the last two people on earth who still talk on the phone.

Q- Questions you’re always asked: How tall are you?  “Like seven or eight feet.  I think I’m still growing.  I haven’t measured myself in a while.” 

Did you play basketball?  “Yes.  Do you remember Dr. J?  I’m him.” 

Do you work?  “No.  I have a posse of forest animals who take care of everything.  I pretty much just sit around and eat chips all day.  You know, like Snow White."

R- Reason to smile: Both of my children went to school today.

S- Song you last sang: Currently in my head:  Boom Clap.  As in “Boom, Clap!  The sound of my voice!  The beat goes on and on and on and on, now!  Boom Clap!  Blah blah blah blah, Come on with me!  Come on with me, now!”  I’d like to say “Beethoven’s Concerto Number Seven” or something more highbrow, but, no.  Freaking Boom Clap.

T- Time you woke up: 5 am.

U- Underwear Color:  Long ago I read in a magazine that women should have four colors of underwear: black, white, pink, and nude.  Simple; classic.  The problem is that women’s underwear comes in about thirty thousand prints and neon colors, and basic colors are hard to find.  It’s frustrating.  I am a grown lady – I don’t want cartoon monkeys on my drawers.

V- Vacation Destination: Paris.  Forever Paris.

Not sure why I'm not there right now, but it's not a good enough reason.

W- Worst Habit:  Eating too fast.  Good food is wasted on me.  It really has to be OMG AMAZING for me to slow down long enough to appreciate it.  Terrible habit.  Just terrible.

X- X-rays you’ve had:  Teeth, neck, hand.  I don’t know.

Y- Your favorite food:  If I had to eat only one kind of food, it would be vegetables.  If I was a more creative cook I would be a vegetarian, but being an omnivore is hard to beat.

Z- Zodiac Sign: Taurus.  I love reading about who I am according to the Zodiac.  I *know* it’s hooey.  I *like* hooey.

“Traditional traits of a Taurus woman include emotional strength, independence, loyalty, introversion, and a flair for the artistic.  Taurus women are also genuine and tend to seek out the same quality in others.  They don’t become upset easily, but when they do, they have volatile tempers and the capacity for extreme stubbornness” (from

^^^ YES!  THAT’S ME!  It’s right every time.  HOW DO THEY KNOW?!?!?!?

* * *

So there you have it – OSB and the ABCs of ME!  Want to try it?  First - Go visit Elaine and read her post!  Next: Read everyone else's posts in the link-up to get to know them, too! Then: Grab the questions, come up with your own answers, write a blog post, and link with Elaine or ME!  MEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEME!  

Or Elaine.  It’s the same link-up.  Really.  And don't forget for one second to tweet using the #OSBlog tag, either (tag @elainea)

Can’t wait to read all about YOU! 



Monday, September 14, 2015

Scent Search - Day 4

{sniffs the air}  Sniff.  Sniff sniff.  Oooooh.  Oh.  Somebody smells good.  Oh wow, that’s nice.  Who is that?  Who smells so good?  Is it you?

No, it isn’t you.  It’s me.

* * *

Hey, how’re you doing, it’s been a while since my last fragrance hunt.  Lest you think I forgot, let me tell you:  I so didn’t. 

If anything, I’ve become more of a perfume fanatic since launching my quest to find the perfect scent.  I tool around on like nobody’s watching, make a beeline to the perfume counter and case upon entering every department store and pharmacy, and dream about building an arsenal of favorite scents.

A simple quest – to find my signature fragrance – has turned into full-blown interest.  You could call it a mild obsession.

If you’re new here, a few months ago I posted a general question to the masses on Facebook:

I was surprised to find that so many people were willing to share with me what makes them smell so good.   I had a list of dozens of perfumes.  Armed with nothing but my will, some cash, and ironclad nostrils, I set out on a journey to find my next signature fragrance.

You can read all about my other experiences 
here, here, and here.  Today, I will share the last installment of my journey.

* * *

Scent Search - Day 4
Tuesday, July 28, 2015 - Perfume Nirvana

It was the end of July.  My husband and kids were out of town.  I had a couple of days to myself, and the open road was calling me.

To the mecca of fragrance.  The capital of odiferous pleasures.  Perfume nirvana.

I was going to visit Sephora.

LET’S DO THIS, I said to my reflection in the mirror.  I fist-pumped.  I made a vow never to fist-pump again.

That day, I was going to find The One.  Not that The One, the one that made me suffer a near death by stink experience.

The One.  My signature.

If you’ve been following along, you know that I have collected some fragrances already.  Thus far, I own two lovely musks, a Philosophy scent that my sister-in-law gave me, and some essential oils which don’t work on my skin but are handily scenting our fresh laundry with the actual nectar of the earth.

I like all the scents that I found, and use them liberally without discrimination.  They take turns like good little children.

But I wanted to finish this thing.  So off I went to Sephora, which has two locations in one of the biggest malls in the US, just a short drive from my house.

* * *

After trekking to the entrance from the vast landscape of the parking lot, I sauntered confidently into the mall.  The first Sephora store I planned to visit was situated inside a large department store.  I needed no list that day.  I knew what I wanted to try, and which perfumes were highly regarded by my Facebook friends.  Taking in the wall of scents, I established my position at the first display.  I imperceptibly shook my head to the indifferent salesperson who lazily asked if I needed assistance; she clearly didn’t want to be bothered to help me at two o’clock on a Tuesday in the middle of summer.  As she melted into the lipgloss array, I turned my back to her, cracked my knuckles, and got to work. 

Michael Kors, check.  Chanel, check check check.  Tried them.  Knew them.  As I walked briskly, my eyes glancing at the bottles, I realized that I’d sampled all of them before.  I grabbed Tory Burch and sprayed her on a sample strip and fanned it in front of my face, scanning the store.  Where are the Maison Martin Margielas, the Juliette Has a Guns, the Bond No. 9s?  I came here to try those.  They should be here.  They are supposed to be here.  SEPHORA HAS EVERYTHING.  They didn’t even have Tom Ford.

Gravely disappointed, and with a hint of dread, I left.  What if…? I thought.  I shook the doubt away.  That was just a boutique, a pop-up to draw in customers, I reasoned.  They can’t have everything; besides, they did have a lot of skin care.  The big Sephora will have more.  I checked the mall map for the location of the main store.

* * *

Making my way through the mall’s wide boulevards, I made my way to Sephora.  Feeling a thrill, I entered the bustling store, past groups of stylish young women and teens with ironed hair shopping with their mothers.  I was greeted by a tall, good-looking man wearing skinny slacks and precisely groomed stubble, his mop of curly hair artfully tousled.  He smiled at me and crooned, “May I help you find something?”  He had a beautiful baritone, exactly what you would imagine from an angel in heaven, which by now was totally what I expected from this shopping experience. 

Losing myself in his eyes and feeling the weight of the impending undertaking, I breathed, “No, thanks.  I’ll be okay.”

Scanning the wall, I noted that the perfumes were sorted alphabetically.  This will be easy.  Anna Sui Burberry Bulgari.  Chanel Dior DKNY.  Gucci Jean Paul Gaultier Marc Jacobs.

I stopped.  At once, the women’s fragrances turned to men’s.

My vision blurred as my eyes flitted over the remaining perfumes.  Where the women’s M to Z perfumes should have been, there were men’s.  Only men’s.  On any other day, I would have been open to men’s.  Today was not that day.

Instant panic led to a wild search of the store for a standalone display of the rest of women’s fragrances.  I’ve come all this way – they’ve got to be here!  They just have to.

I found the angelic gatekeeper and asked him in a quavering voice where the rest of the women’s perfumes were.  Tears sprang to my eyes uncontrolled, embarrassing.  He looked right through me with heavy lids. “Wha?” he grunted stupidly, turning into a clumsy oaf before my eyes. “They’re right over there,” he slurred, waving his clublike paw in the direction of my crushed dreams.  His shirt wore a dusting of dandruff like fresh snow.  “What are you looking for?”

I refrained from clutching his sleek shirt by the collar, screaming THE REST OF THE FRAGRANCES, YOU IDIOT!!  Instead, I stumbled out of the store blindly, not even bothering to reply.

Keep it together! I chastised myself.  Outside, I shook my head to clear the cobwebs.  Just then, I realized that the mall is anchored by several high quality department stores:  Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Lord & Taylor, among others.  The first Sephora was inside JCPenney, for goodness’ sake.  There was still hope.  I brushed off defeat and hiked to Nordstrom.

* * *

Everyone's Favorite Keith showed up to help me.
By 'help me' I mean this:
When I asked, "Do you like this one?" he'd answer, "Um... do you?"
. . .

I sent him away.

In the beige, warmly lit, and expansive store, I was greeted by no one, a welcome demonstration of neglect.  Clearly, with my cracked handbag, beach-worn flip-flops, and cheap tank and shorts, I looked as if I stumbled there from another dimension and was roundly disregarded. 

I drunkenly lifted a bottle of something off the shelf and sprayed it in the air like an amateur.  I was still reeling slightly; I don’t remember what it was.  Making two trips around the perfume department, I noted extensive lines of Tom Fords and Jo Malones, two names I hadn’t spent much time with. 

Standing in front of the Tom Ford line-up, all dark and broody bottles, I inhaled them all.  They had dark and broody names, too: Amber Absolute, Tobacco Vanille, Grey Vetiver, Tuscan Leather.  There were many Noirs.  They all smelled seriously stylish, like black silk-wearing aficionados of all things luxurious like tuxedos and truffle oil.
I narrowed my favorite down to Japon Noir, but decided I wasn’t man enough for Tom Ford.  I’m a suburban mom, not Ricardo Montalbán.

After trying most of the rest of the fragrances offered in Nordstrom’s perfume department, I moved on to Jo Malone, which featured simple, clean labels and names like Nutmeg and Ginger, Blackberry and Bay,  Earl Grey and Cucumber.  I like more inventive names, but I tried them all.

And fell, hard.

While I spritzed haphazardly from the display on the wall, moving my favorites around, a salesperson came up to me quietly and guided me to a glass-topped table where all the Jo Malone testers were lined up.  “Thank you,” I muttered feverishly, noting that the fragrance company offered pairings printed on little cards as combinations – in effect, two Jo Malones introduced a third perfume.  I was hooked.  Each one smelled better than the last.   If they’d had a tub, I’d have bathed in them all, right there in the white tiled thoroughfares of Nordstrom.

In the end, I bought two Jo Malones, meant to go together:  French Lime Blossom and Wood Sage and Sea Salt.  A salesgirl wrapped them up for me like it was the only Christmas present I’d receive this decade, and threw in several samples to try.  On my way out, I sprayed a hefty spritz of Bulgari thé blanc on the inside of my elbow, just because.

Triumphant, I left.

* * *

If you like perfume, there is a risk of becoming mildly obsessed with them.  It’s intimate, perfume.  It's personal, yet it invites others in.  I don’t know that I will ever go back to not caring about it.  I took all suggestions from friends and remember the ones they love.  I have a few that I have my eye on, too, ones that I will purchase another day, like Dior Hypnotic Poison.  Burberry Body.  Lancôme La Vie Est Belle.  Vince Camuto Bella.  The Bulgari.  And I will never, ever rule out Shalimar

I haven’t found my signature fragrance.  I’ve found several.


Friday, September 11, 2015

Fourteen Years

It doesn't matter what's going on in our lives at this time each year - the significance of the date seeps into our minds and we start talking about it.

"I can't believe it's been 14 years already," someone says.  "I remember exactly what I was doing."

We all do.

It's a new school year, and like every other year, the kids are having a soft start - teachers are getting to know their students and giving out little actual work to complete at home.  This will change drastically in the next week.  My daughter comes home with little projects that she shares with me. Yesterday's project was an interview.

"Mom, we have to interview people who went through 9/11," she stated, as if that day was a battle we fought.  "Do you remember what you were doing that day?"

"Oh, yes," I replied, launching into my own story.  I gave her the middle-school version of it, peppering it with personal details so it would seem more real.  She needs to know that this wasn't just a historical event - it was an ordinary day.

"Do you remember how you felt?"

A familiar torrent of emotions.  Tears come from nowhere. "Scared.  I was scared.  I imagined more attacks, roads closing.  There was nothing to do except watch the news."

Later, she sat at the table and my husband gave her his version of the story.

There are countless stories about that day.  We share them in conversations, and they are recorded in classrooms.  We write them online and read what others did that day.  Over time the fear and emotions we felt will soften and the hard edges will round, but I hope the stories live on.

That day brought us all together, just like every other major event in history.

Collectively, we remember.


Thursday, September 10, 2015


On Sundays when I was growing up, our family went to my grandmother’s house for dinner. 
She lived half a mile away, and we were always half an hour late.

It didn’t matter what time the meal was served.  If we were to be there at noon, we’d roll in at 12:30.  A five o’clock meal was pushed to 5:30.

A couple of us would get in the car around the prescribed time, usually some time after.  We’d honk the horn to speed up the guilty party still tying shoes or finding a sweater or pulling on a coat.  Sometimes my dad would be missing – working in the yard or tinkering in the garage – and my mom would get annoyed and we’d leave without him.

One of us was always lagging further behind the others.

This pattern has continued in my adult life.  My own family is not always on time.  It usually depends on where we’re going and how motivated we are to get there rather than something or someone interfering in the on-time plan. We all agree when to leave, but it’s regarded as a guideline.  This fluidity can be frustrating, and one person is usually steaming by the time we are on our way. 

I have a running joke with a friend that I am always five minutes late.  I underestimate the drive time, I have a hard time leaving the house, someone always calls when I’m running out the door.

Whatever the delay, I’m five minutes late every time.  My friends accept it; in fact, most of the people in my circle are typically minutes (hours!!) late themselves, and they don’t care about my chronic tardiness… much.

I’m in awe of people who don’t claim lateness, who show up ten minutes early, who manage punctuality.  Are they gifted at knowing how long it takes to get somewhere?  Do they research routes, traffic conditions, keep a close eye on the amount of gas in their tanks?  Do they try on outfits the night before so there are no surprises with ill-fitting clothing, a stain on a sleeve, choosing the wrong shoes?  Do they leave dishes in the sink and a mess on the floor if they’re running behind?  Do they skip teeth brushing if they’ve overslept?  Do they just let the phone ring if it starts after they’ve just stepped outside the door?  Do they leave in the middle of a writing tear, able to pick up the flow of ideas when they get home? 

My admiration runs deep; they are more disciplined than I am.  Their lives are easier – they don’t rush, they don’t play catch up, they never miss anything, and their friends are never annoyed with them.

I’m better at being on time when it comes to our children.  Our daughter has some anxiety about being late for class or practice or parties, so I try to keep her on time to alleviate her angst.  It's extremely difficult for me.  I like to think she is inherently respectful of time, but more likely she learned how to be punctual because she learned that being late is stressful.  Our son has no such qualms about lateness, but he is a teenager.

Why are we late?  Some people cite disrespect and insensitivity of other people’s time.  Others claim cultural differences – people from different parts of the world are less punctual than others.  Poor time management, a laid-back attitude, being unfamiliar with surroundings – these are all good excuses.  Ones that I have used.

I think I’m unruffled by lateness because most things in my life are not time-sensitive.  No danger results from my being perpetually five minutes behind.  I’m a mom, not an air traffic controller.  What’s more, I can choose where lateness is acceptable and I exercise my choices freely.  I can be late to a friend’s barbeque because I had to pick up a bag of ice; I shouldn’t be late picking my kid up from basketball practice at 9 pm because of safety issues.  I have no time card to punch and I don’t get paid by the hour.  There are no coworkers to report me for shaving fifteen minutes off my work day each morning.  I’m grateful for that.

Oh, no – I’ve got to end this here.  I just remembered that I have to be somewhere in five minutes.


This post inspired by:

Mama Kat's Writing Workshop

Prompt #2: Write a blog post inspired by the word: late

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Straight Man

My husband thinks he’s funny.

He laughs, jokes, smiles, teases, and makes people feel good about the world in general, just by being around.

Remember that show Everybody Loves Raymond?  Where Ray Romano plays the good-natured but slightly dopey dad, and is obviously the favorite person in the family, despite being sort of irresponsible and entirely frustrating to his long-suffering wife in every way?

This is my life.  Our friends think I’m too hard on him, our kids stick up for him, and even my own parents take his side in most situations.

I don’t find him funny.  Not when he’s trying to be, anyway.

When he’s trying to be funny, he’s usually also grabbing at some part of my body, or he’s chasing me down to hug me too close and HE KNOWS I hate that, or he wants to drag me away from whatever it is I’m doing so all my attention is on him.

It’s wearisome.

Plus, I am the funny one.  At least give me that.  He’s the head of the household with the big important job, all the friends, the doting family, good in math, all sports, remembering things, and is trusted with all sorts of big-deal things like sitting on boards and councils and all that crap.  He wants to be the funny one, too?


He has to be the straight man here.  The one who can take a joke and a prank, then sit back and shake his head in awe and appreciation of his wife’s razor-sharp wit, keen intellect, and breezy way of getting things done.

He pretty much does this, I guess.  He’s a pretty good sport when I yell at him for being a disgusting slob in the bathroom.

He reads everything I write and tells me it’s good, even if it isn’t.

And despite me not really being important professionally, he still thinks what I do at home is more important than anything else.

He asks me to proofread everything he writes.

He laughs at all my jokes.  Even the ones that I have to tell him are funny.

He patiently puts up with all my shenanigans.

And at times he does make me laugh.

Especially when he doesn't realize it.


This post inspired by:

Mama Kat's Writing Workshop

Prompt #2: Talk about the last thing your husband did that made you laugh.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I’m So Proud of You

A couple of weeks ago, my family and I squeezed a last-minute vacation out of summer, staying near the beach at a family-friendly suite-style hotel.

As we finished our buffet breakfast outside in the pleasant August breeze and chatted about whether the rubbery omelet, the chunky lukewarm sausage gravy, or the dishwater coffee was the best of the worst food we had just eaten, a nearby mother of two small girls launched a chirpy, one-sided monologue onto her angel children, listing each of their many, many positive attributes and skill sets.  “You are a perfect swimmer.”  “Your dress is pretty.” “Your hair is very blonde.”  When her deluge of compliments dried up, the eldest one demanded:


The mom ignored her, and cooed in reply,

“You’re growing so much.  I’m so proud of you.”

I snorted abruptly.  Audibly.  My 14-year-old son stared at me, eyes wide in shock and amusement.  Usually I keep my rudeness in check.

Thankfully, he was the only one who noticed, and I escaped a confrontation.

I am a parent.  A mother.  A spit-cleaning, minivan-driving, kid’s picture on a button-wearing MOMMY of two practically perfect children.

Children who excel in school, behave at and away from home, enjoy various extracurricular activities, clean their rooms and empty the dishwasher, have great hair and beautiful eyes, and give me many opportunities to note their accomplishments, no matter how effortful or naturally-occurring.

I love watching them grow into the people they are becoming.  I have spent the last decade-plus happy and relieved at the passing of certain milestones (Sleeping through the night.  Shoe tying.  Finishing elementary school.  Passing geometry.  Noticing crumbs on the counter.) 

They’re growing.  They’re maturing.  They have conversations with other adults who aren’t their parents.  They laugh and joke with friends, make plans, and do certain things with minimal supervision.  They do laundry and save money to buy stuff they want.  They are supposed to do these things.  They have been taught to do these things.  The world expects them to do these things. 

Pride has nothing to do with these things.

Pride is not a natural feeling for me.  My personal horn-tooting is infrequent; there will always be someone who has done the same and better.  I keep my head in the game, do my work, and sometimes I am the first and the best.  I am aware that someone may surpass me immediately.  Having confidence and cultivating my abilities is more important than trying to win every race.  I don’t dwell on my accomplishments long enough to feel pride, much less announce it.  I’m the same way with my children.

I was raised during a time when normal parents didn’t shout their children’s praises from every mountaintop.  Bragging was considered déclassé, unnecessary – everybody’s proud of their own kid for something.  This may have led me on a bumpy road to self-confidence; I lived most of my life without a naturally-occurring tendency to chuck myself on the chin each morning with a “you got this, girl.”  But I’m an adult, and I’m over it.

When you have kids, you have the chance to do things differently.  We all want our kids to feel special; the current cultural norm is to make sure they do.  I want mine to know they are wholly able to do many things well, but I’m careful to avoid creating two more narcissists for the world to deal with.  It’s a tough balance.

Sometimes I wonder if my expectations are too high.  I certainly don’t want to teach my children that they are never good enough, thanks to my stingy declarations of pride.  Should I practice pride more?  This is the way people talk to and about their children, if I am to use this ordinary mother on the parking lot porch of a suburban hotel as an example.  Is there a difference between pride and appreciation?  I love my kids and value their accomplishments, but I can’t say I’m full of pride for every good thing they do.  They haven’t overcome extraordinary obstacles, achieved superhuman feats, or cured cancer.  Can I just say “I’m happy with who they are today”?  Or am I just a big old meanie? 

I think of that little girl at the hotel.  The girl whose mother ignored her and listened only to her own pride, the girl who was deprived of a lesson on manners because her mother felt it was more important to express how her child makes her feel.  I consider the pressure a kid faces when raised to believe that her very being brings pride to her parents.  I think about the implications of pride when there’s no rationale behind it.  What happens to kids who are conditioned to believe that they bring pride to their parents just for existing – what happens when they screw up?  More than wanting to admonish the mother, I want to hug that child.  And then I realize: that little girl will probably turn out okay.  Her mother loves her; this is how she shows it.

Life is a social experiment, and we are all testing different theories.  Like everyone else, I do what makes sense for the people in my family, taking into consideration individual tendencies and past research, and tweaking parameters when needed.  It’s perpetual trial and error.  I might not shower my children with declarations of pride on the regular, but they do know that I love them.

The other day, my daughter went to the doctor for a physical.  She had grown almost four inches in the last year.  “Wow!” exclaimed the pediatrician.  “You’ve grown so much!”

I didn’t say it, but it was on the tip of my tongue.  My daughter looked at me, and we shared a smile, our new family joke unspoken.  I may not be proud of her for growing, but she knows love.  They both do.