Memories

The Book: Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

The Quote: What was the actual benefit of accuracy when it comes to memories?

Did you ever here that old ditty “I remember it well?”. It’s basically a song about two people who have very different recollection of the last time they met…

Does it matter if our memories are accurate?

or

Is there no such thing as an accurate memory because each individual takes something from a moment that is unique because our perception is our reality?

The other day I was talking to my Husband about something. I related a story from years past- I reminded him of something he did to piss me off (I didn’t just dredge this up- it was germane to a discussion we were having at that moment and I was using it to prove a point- my anecdotal evidence so to speak).

He could not remember the story of which I spoke.

Not one shred of memory.

He did something that irked me so much that I know we had words about it (for the record it was a battle that I wanted to fight).

And he said he never did such a thing.

To be fair, his not remembering pissed me off more than the original transgression did. Because I remember it well…

At least I think I remember it well…

How much does my remembering something that my husband swears never happened matter in the grand scheme of things? I mean, this was something he did that hurt me emotionally- where I thought he violated my trust. And I never wanted him to do it again.

But if he doesn’t even remember doing it?

Should I be mad that he doesn’t have the same memory of the event that I have?

How do you proceed if people have different memories of an event?

Should you try not to bring up things from the past, because they just don’t matter?

I know….so many questions…

Pick one or two or all and share your thoughts:

Step Away

The Book- Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

The Quote- That was the secret of a happy marriage: step away from the rage.

Is the secret to a happy marriage to simply take a step back sometimes?

When my daughter was home for break my Husband did/said something stupid. My daughter asked why I didn’t say something to him. I replied:

“In marriage, as in parenting, sometimes you need to take a step back from the stupid. You have to choose your battles, and decide if the battle is the one to take a stand on.”

First off- which quote is better- mine or the one from the book?

Secondly, is the secret to life not 42, but is it really just stepping back?

The people we are closest to are going to annoy us at least once a day. No two people get along perfectly 24/7/365- I know this for a fact because we just had a situation where people were together 24/7/365, and there was a lot of anger and sadness or for the sake of this piece, rage…

Do we need to harp on them every time they don’t load the dishwasher correctly, or they leave their shoes in the hallway? Annoyed because they are wearing an old concert T shirt that is 20 years old and has no arm pits anymore? Disgruntled because they don’t want to watch the same TV show?

If you have a partner, or a child living with you, how often do you point out their mistakes? Or what are mistakes in your eyes?

For homework, I want you to count how many times you nag your partner/child and why.

How many of these things are life threatening? How many of these things needed to be mentioned, and how many of them could have been stepped away from?

Do you step away more than you engage? How does it work for you?

Discuss.

Safety

A few months ago I wrote a post about how I didn’t want my daughter to arrive at Union Station DC in the middle of the night because I thought it was unsafe. Many thought that as my daughter is “an adult” I shouldn’t say that to her. My retort was simple: If I had a friend who planned on arriving in a train station in the middle of the night, I would tell them not to take that train either. Which then lead to people saying- “You would never tell another person that. You would let them do what they wanted.”

So…

Do you tell your friends when you think they are doing something that is unsafe?

I have a really good friend who tells me how unsafe NYC is. The subways. The streets. The crime. And to be fair, my friend has statistics on their side: NYC is much less safe than if was pre-COVID. There was a point where our murder rate was up 86%. While crime has slowly started to come down, I see the difference- these mean streets really are meaner. Sometime in April you’re going to read about some mass transit experiences that I had recently…

But anyway…

Does my friend have a right to tell me to watch my back?

Don’t you want the people you love/care about to be safe?

What is the line between what you can and can’t tell friends?

When I go out with friends, we text one another when we get home. It’s just what we do. I make sure that my friends make it into their homes and are safely behind locked doors. Period. And this includes my friend M who I share theater tickets with and we go to matinees and she lives in Westchester. She texts me an hour and a half later when she is firmly ensconced in suburbia.

Because this is what we do. Is it because we’re women? Is it because we know what crime is like? Is it because we care about one another? Does it matter?

So where do you stand on safety and your friends?

Discuss

Can Moms Help It

When my Daughter finally got back to campus in August, she had a lot of readjusting to do. She was living with roommates and not parents. She was adjusting to doing things in person once again, and she had a lot on her plate. Plus, COVID still had restrictions all over the place with certain things.

Her schedule included five classes, and one class that required her to go to an elementary school to observe onsite. She had an internship. Part time job. Deputy editor at the paper. At least two other clubs she was an active member. Some sort of scholar program. Homework. And President of a volunteer organization that wasn’t able to recruit new members last year because it wasn’t able to be done virtually, and they were still unsure of the status this year as to whether the university students would be allowed to go onsite to actually do the volunteering, and seemed like it was going to be an organization of three.

So August was a tad stressful for my daughter.

I was on the phone with her one morning as she explained everything to me. I heard her voice rise about five octaves. I made a suggestion about something.

One suggestion about one thing after she regaled me with tales of all the above things I mentioned, the stress clearly coming through on the phone.

I said one thing…

She bit my head off. Told me that she was an adult. Told me that my making the suggestion was making her more stressed. Told me I needed to butt out and not meddle.

OK fine. I dropped it.

Later that day, I was standing on the subway platform.

Young woman, late twenties probably, was waiting for the train, which was six minutes away.

Woman gets a phone call.

Woman: Hi Mom.

Woman: Yeah the apartment was really nice.

Women: Well, it’s a little small but…

See her walking in circles

Women: No its not a shoebox it’s…

She starts to tap her foot

Women: No there isn’t a window in the bathroom or kitchen but…

looking down track waiting for train to appear quicker

Women: But Mom it’s the best apartment I’ve found

runs her hand through her hair distractedly

Women: Yes I would love an apartment with big closets and lots of windows but…

look of pure distress

Women: But Mom...

exasperated sigh

Women: Oh Mom- there’s the train. Need to go.

She shuts her phone and waits three more minutes for train.

So my question is: Do Mom’s always try to give unneeded or unwarranted advice? Is it just hardwired into being a Mom?

Can we just not help ourselves?

Do Mothers always feel they need to tell there children what to do? Is it worse with Mothers and Daughters?

Parenting is Hard

Parenting is hard….says my daughter.

She came to this realization this year, as she navigated parenting our puppy.

You need to watch what they eat

You need to pull things out of their mouths

You need to watch what they’re doing

You spend your days telling them No

You worry about them all the time

My daughter ended her diatribe with a question to me:

How did you parent me and not go crazy? Wait – not crazy because we aren’t supposed to use that word anymore. How did you parent me and still function every day?

I didn’t really have to think about the answer to that: You parent because you love. And love is stronger than anything else- except for maybe hate, but that’s a whole other post.

Parenting is a blessing and a curse. You get the opportunity to raise a child. You get to watch them grow and learn things and you get to see those adorable smiles and the tinkle of their giggles. You also get to wipe their butt after they poop. You get to smell them when they go through the adolescent phase of not showering. You get to hear them berate you.

So how do we parent and still function?

We remind ourselves that parenting a child is a privilege. When you have the opportunity to raise a child it is a gift. We know that even though there are some rocky moments, there is so much joy to be had with a child.

Being a parent is being an eternal optimist. When there are issues, it’s keeping the positive attitude that things will get better. It’s reminding ourselves of all the good moments of the past, and if we can just hold on a little, we will see more good moments ahead.

Being a parent is hard. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It has also been worth every moment: both good and bad.

We Just Disagree

Friend A makes a comment.

Friend B disagrees with the comment.

Should Friend B tell A why they disagree?

Or should B just remain quiet and not rock the boat?

There was a time when I wouldn’t hesitate voicing my opinion if it didn’t align with something that was said. Now, with my friends, I often wonder when and if I should speak up.

People have become, let’s just say, sensitive about their opinions… People have stopped being friends because of opinions. People have said harsh words to others because of opinions.

Has the age of polite discourse ended? Does everyone see their opinion as fact, and therefore unmovable? Do we regard those who think differently than ourselves as stupid?

Let’s take a step back:

Perhaps we need to reevaluate…

How do we relearn how to have a discussion with someone who has a different viewpoint than our own?

  1. When someone makes a statement that you don’t agree with, take a breath. Do not react or say something right away. A discussion is not a contest to see who responds the quickest.
  2. Ask why the person thinks that way. Sometimes you have to walk in someone’s shoes in order to understand why they made the statement. Do not assume the backstory. Find out your facts first. You may have heard a conclusion that took the person a long time to come to.
  3. Don’t assume the person is stupid, non educated, or anything else. Assumptions, stereotypes and judging all hide under the same banner.
  4. Listening means listening. It means taking in the words that the other is saying. It does not mean holding your breath and thinking about your possible responses. Try to understand what the person means.
  5. If you choose to state your differing thoughts, do so in as calm a manner as possible. Remember, this is someone you presumably have some sort of relationship with, or know someone who does. Treat them with the respect with which you wish to be treated.
  6. Remember, you do not have to air your opposing opinion. There are no points for arguing with someone. You make the decision whether or not you wish to engage or continue with the discussion.
  7. If you choose to say your opposing viewpoint, keep in mind as to your goal. Do you just want to show them a different opinion to give them food for thought? Or are you trying to change their mind?
  8. Ask yourself if your mind would be changed if you made the statement first and the other chose to argue the point with you. If nothing would change your thoughts, why do you think the other person will change theirs?
  9. Do you want to discuss something? Or do you just want to prove that you are right and they are wrong?
  10. Are you trying to take the moral high ground? And if your goal is to take the moral highroad, are you really accomplishing this by arguing a point?

I know that I do not always follow my own rules. Ok- I almost never follow my own rules. However, when I am in what is supposed to be polite conversation, I am going to try to think before I speak.

Most of the time anyway…

I Miss You

Pet Peeve time:

I hate it when people ask me if I miss my daughter while she is at college.

What does it mean to miss someone?

Let’s talk a little about me…

I love my daughter very much. I also feel that she loves me very much. When you are secure in the to and fro of a relationship, you don’t really feel the “missing” because it’s just a part of your heart. I don’t really “miss” her because she is always with me in spirit.

I also text/facetime/talk to my daughter almost every day. I know everyone out there is going to have an opinion about this. Some will say I’m not allowing her to spread her wings. Some will say I’m being over protective. Some will be jealous of my relationship. Some will think it’s nice that we connect when we can. For the record: don’t care what anyone thinks- this is how our relationship has evolved up to this point. I’m sure as time goes on it will evolve further, but I’m all for letting things happen organically.

What do we talk about you ask?

Sometimes it’s practical. She texts that she received a package. I call because I’m having trouble resizing a JPEG that I need to attach to something. She asked me to read over an review she wrote for the paper. I give her updates about her grandfather.

Sometimes it’s fun- she calls to tell be about a sorority party. I call to discuss a movie I just saw. We text each other pictures from the Met Gala…

Can you really miss someone you talk to almost everyday?

Chew on that for a moment…

You know why else I don’t completely get this question?

In a world where Zoom took over our lives- do we still need to be physically present with someone in order to not miss them?

I guess if we are discussing pet peeves I must add that I hate Zoom and doing things where I have interactions over a screen with more than one person. What am I saying? Even one person. I can facetime with my daughter because we are easy going about it. I walk around the house, I make tea, I put things away while I am on the phone with my daughter because we just kind of go with the flow. I don’t know how many others would be this easy going about my laissez faire video calls.

Now I know you’ve enjoyed learning about some of the things that I don’t like- but we will return to the original question:

When you say you “miss” someone, what do you mean?

What are the things that make you say you miss them?

What do you miss about them?

When is the last time you told someone that you missed them, and what was the who, what, when, where and how of it all?

The Parent/Adult Child Relationship

I’ve been wondering how to navigate the relationship between my daughter and I as she forges on into adulthood.

As luck would have it, I know someone whose Mom came up to town from Florida last week. As I watched their dynamic, I knew that I had the basis that I needed to start creating a better relationship with my own daughter…

  1. When you arrive at your daughter’s house, get mad that your daughter was working when you got there. Tell her explicitly that she should have been at the front door waiting with literal open arms.
  2. Complain, again, about the “no shoe’s in the house policy” that your daughter has. Repeatedly scoff at the suggestion of house slippers, because house slippers are stupid.
  3. Complain that your grandchildren are at school. What’s more important after all- algebra II or being there for your grandmother
  4. Remind your daughter all the things you did for her while she was growing up
  5. Tell your daughter that she doesn’t treat you with respect
  6. Cry that she treated her own mother so much better and she wants you to treat her as she treated her Mom
  7. start yelling at your daughter because your daughter doesn’t cater to your every whim
  8. Tell your daughter that she’s a despicable spoiled brat
  9. Call your son and tell him that she can’t stand his sister and she has to leave that very moment because she can’t spend another minute in the house
  10. Curse at your son because he dares to say that he will call her a car service- a good son would rent a car and drive over and pick up his Mother
  11. Remind both your children that they don’t respect you
  12. Tell your children about how you worked to support them and without her you would have nothing
  13. Spend so much time talking about a gift that you gave, that the daughter hands you a check for the amount of the gift because no gift is worth it being thrown back in your face a million times
  14. Ask why they treat their Father, her ex, so much better than they treat her, because he was despicable.
  15. Give a birthday toast that doesn’t say anything about your daughter, but tells all the sacrifices that you made for your children

Do you understand why this example showed me exactly how to further my relationship with my daughter?

Parents.

What would we do without them…

Careful

Once upon a time there was a couple. Person A was extremely competent and pragmatic. A doesn’t own many things, but when A makes a purchase, much thought goes into it. A tends to keep their things in good working order and generally takes care of them.

B, the partner of A, is not really a buyer either, and doesn’t generally think about what are good things to have. B is not great at taking care of the things in their possession.

One day B had to go into the office with their computer. B does not have a laptop bag, so B asked to borrow A’s.

So A lent B the bag. The bag that took A a month to find, because it is black and slimline and has just the right amount of pockets, has an outer folder pocket and was very inexpensive at Burlington Coat Factory.

The day that B borrowed the laptop bag was one of substantial rain. When B was leaving the abode, B picked up the first available umbrella, which was A’s.

A is very particular about umbrella’s. A likes a mini size because it’s easier to carry. A chooses to have a manual open umbrella because in this case, size is more important to convenience. A get’s a very specific umbrella from Amazon.

B had no idea where their umbrella was, so just grabbed A’s…

B had a French dip sandwich for lunch that day. A French dip is basically a roast beef with au jus on the side.

Au jus, in this case, comes in a Styrofoam container with an ill fitting plastic lid.

B decided to bring home leftover sandwich and au jus.

In the laptop bag.

Guess what happens next?

If you guessed au jus spills all over everything in bag you get a hearty handshake and a pat on the back. The author of this tale doesn’t have the funds to actually give away prizes to everyone who knew that was the answer…

So the laptop bag, and all it’s contents smell like roast beef…

Do you want to walk down dog filled streets with a bag and an umbrella that smell like meat?

No amount of Fabreze cloth spray is going to cover that scent. And you can’t throw a laptop bag and an umbrella in the wash.

A knows. A tried.

So A now keeps their possessions under lock and key. A left the key on B’s shelf because A knows that B would never look for it there.

And they lived happily ever after

I Don’t Want Kids

Scenario One:

Two people meet. They fall in love. They decide that they both really want to have kids. They may or may not live happily after.

Scenario Two:

Two people meet. They fall in love. They decide that they both DON’T want children. They may or may not live happily after.

Scenario Three:

Two people meet. They fall in love. One wants children. The other doesn’t. Then what happens?

Let’s play with scenario three for a second.

You and your significant other get along great except for this one nagging little detail. You don’t agree on children.

  1. Do you break up with the person?
  2. Do you go along with the wishes of the other because your love is too pure and you’re not leaving your soulmate over this?
  3. Do you spend your life convincing the other person of your side and coerce them into doing what you want?

Scenario Four:

Two people meet. They fall in love. They both decide they don’t want children. After being together for X years, one of them changes their mind and decides they want children.

What happens next?

Everyone is entitled to change their mind. We all grow and change and whatever. But what if you change your mind about a big thing? Whether or not you have a child is a big thing.

  1. Do you split with the person because you really want a child and they don’t?
  2. Do you coerce your partner into doing something that they don’t want?
  3. Do you trick your partner into having a child?

Should anyone be forced to have a child if they don’t want one?

Raising a child is a lot of work. Having children is a certain lifestyle. I completely understand why someone wouldn’t want to have a child.

Having a child is a wonderful experience. It’s a different path, but worth the time and effort and money. I completely understand why someone would want a child.

I get both sides.

But what do you do if you and your partner aren’t on the same page?