Don’t Climb that Ladder! Living out the Cycle of Life and Love

I’ll love you forever. 

I’ll like you for always. 

As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.

This is the  lullaby of a mother to her son in Robert Munsch’s beloved picture book, Love you Forever.

This mother crawls across the floor of her son’s  bedroom, and if he is fast asleep, she cradles him on her lap while reciting the lullaby.  She does this when he is a baby, a toddler, a 9-year old, a teenager, and ultimately an adult.  Yes, an adult.

Finally the mother is too old and sick to come to her son, so he visits her.  And as he cradles and rocks his mother, he repeats the familiar words, “I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always.  As long as I’m living, my mommy you’ll be.”

After his mother dies, the son goes into the room of his own baby daughter, picks her up from her crib, cradles her, and recites the lullaby.  And so the cycle continues.

Now, it is pure sacrilege to utter a word of criticism regarding this beloved classic. Maria Shriver has praised the book, saying she could not read it through without crying.  It was even featured in an episode of  “Friends”  when Joey gives a dramatic reading at Emma’s 1-year birthday, leaving everyone overcome with tears.

But as for me, my tears dry up at the scene where the mom goes to her adult son’s house.

She brings a ladder and climbs through his bedroom window!

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Publishers Weekly said about this part of the story, “Either it moves you to tears and you love it, or it makes your skin crawl and you detest it.”   Another critic said, “It’s either a touching account of a mother’s unending love or the ultimate helicopter parenting gone bad.”

I find this scene downright creepy.  But maybe that is because, if I’m truly honest, my heart’s desire is to do the very same thing.  I am jealous of those mother-daughter relationships where they talk or text each other multiple times a day.

But I also know that healthy detachment allows grown children to find their own path and parents to find their own lives while remaining cheerleaders, pray-ers, safety nets, listening ears.

So we should probably resist the urge to climb into our kid’s bedroom window in the dead of night.  Much as we want to.

That said, I am going in the garage right now to make sure the ladder is in working order and will fit in the back of our SUV.

Joy here: 

Where was I in 1986 when this children’s picture book was published?? I don’t remember it at all.  In fact, I never heard of it.  I was a bit busy at the time, having made the decision to move back to New York City and finding out I was pregnant with our 1st child.  Nevertheless, a book that so many people know and love (some hate) and that won The Parent’s Choice Gold Award, as well as selling 30 million copies worldwide, is hard to miss!

I listened to it being read on a You Tube video this morning. While sweet, endearing, and touching, it’s a bit of an over the top obsessive mother child story (in my opinion). Cradling your teenage child at 17?!!  Child services might be called in today!!!

I could picture SNL doing a skit on this and having a blast doing so, but I also smiled to myself.  It dovetailed so well with my thoughts on letting go and over texting my adult children.  What’s the right amount of space?  Will they reach out if they really need me or should I be happy that they are trying to work out their own issues?

I wonder how tall a ladder I would need to reach my daughter’s 2nd floor apt?  Kidding!!

Today’s Takeaway…

-A bond between a mother and child is powerful, and for most of us, lasts until our last breath of life.

-Know when to pull back and when to dive in.  It takes practice!  Maybe, by the time your children have children of their own, you’ll get it right!!

As always, enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

Barbarella, say it ain’t so! Women Embracing the Gray

Joy here –   I was aghast when I saw Jane Fonda present best picture of the year at the 2020 Academy Awards.  Sexy, bombshell, toned, Fonda, who had inspired millions to exercise to her 1982 Jane Fonda’s Workout, walked out and showed herself to millions of viewers with gray hair!!!

I think this trend of going gray might have started with Helen Mirren (elegance personified), culminating with Sharon Osborne, who had dyed her hair flaming red every week for 18 years!  What gives?  Are women of a certain age feeling more confident in their aging hair and skin?

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Not only did the fabulous Jane Fonda go gray, but she vowed that she was done with surgery to make her look younger.  At 82, she is remarkable by anyone’s standards.  I give her credit for speaking her mind and standing up for what she believes, still an activist in her 8th decade of life!

The guy who is responsible for both Jane and Sharon’s tresses is a top colorist by the name of Jack Martin.  Lady Clairol this is not!  The shades they both chose are truly beautiful grays, not your dingy dish  water gray that creeps up on you and says “time to go to the beauty parlor!”

I admit that I am not ready to go this route.  When I’m 80, (G-D willing) I might go gracefully into the white space. It will highlight my blue eyes, which will be cataract free by then!

 

Barclay here – I’m with Joy!

In fact, I never want to catch sight of what lies beneath!    When I sense its wire-like, springy presence, it is time to call Colette, my miracle working colorist and stylist who has become a good friend, given all the time we spend together!!

The truth is not many of us can afford the likes of Jane’s and Sharon’s colorist, who has deftly overseen their transition to the gray side.  OUR transition would likely be raccoon like, and reveal texture about as smooth as steel wool.

But I DO applaud Jane Fonda for boldly embracing the gray (smooth and perfect as it is) and encouraging us all to age with grace and gratitude.

Personally, I am grateful for her example, but I am equally grateful for Colette, whom I should probably call now.

 

Today’s Takeaway…

-You can spot them on the Red Carpet and on the streets of Naples, Florida, where I am presently.  The big lips, the pained smile, the too-arched eyebrows.  I have heard it said that, “The gods we worship write their names on our faces.”  May our faces radiate contentment and gratitude with normal sized lips and the inner beauty that comes with generosity of spirit.

-That said, let’s give thanks for make-up and hair products!

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

Little Children,little problems, big children, big problems

cartoon.jpgI’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “your’e only as happy as your least happy child! I have to admit I, Joy De Santo , am a controlling person, a “helicopter mom’.  I mean well, always have, but after many many years, I’m finally beginning to get it that adult children are different.  I can’t call the guidance counselor anymore and discuss the crappy teacher my child has or complain about a bullying kid that is rude or pushy. I can’t call the mom of a child who isn’t being nice to my daughter or hasn’t invited her to their birthday party.  My ability to help is limited and most of the time, they want to work things out for themselves (as they should) Nevertheless, when it comes to boyfriends and career decisions, every once in a while mom is the only person who can help.

My younger daughter, wise beyond her years and truly an old soul in a young person’s body, gave me an admonishment the other day.  She said, “Mom, you are there to be a sounding board, nothing more.  When a daughter calls, she wants to vent, I am told.  It’s .  a knee jerk reaction-I’m upset, the world sucks, and I want to talk to my mom! Why don’t they call with good news?!!!  They call to complain, kvetch, cry, sob, lash out, and be comforted.  I listen now and try not to interrupt (a very bad life long habit!) If I am asked for an opinion or guidance (not usually the objective of the call), I’ll give it.

Little children are easy.  Their issues, while important to them, are minor in comparison to the adult child. Trying to find your life’s passion, who am I, what do I want to do with myself, how do I afford an apt on my own, convince a hiring manager to give you a chance, live with another person and come to the conclusion that this person is “the one” or not “the one” are big issues, not to be dealt with lightly.

I may be slow in coming round, but I think I get it now.  I need to listen more, speak less, and comfort with a hug, a kiss, or from a distance a note letting that person know that they are loved at all costs. Nothing that is bothering them is bothersome to me as the recipient. That’s what I am there for.

When you are a fixer, a problem solver, this new role is hard.  I can’t stop them from falling down or making mistakes, but I can be there to pick them up and wrap my arms around them (no swaddling!  Requires too much material for a grown child!)

Today’s Takeaway…

.Accept this role of mother to adult children with patience, wisdom, and love

. I will always remember  the first time I had words with my husband or got fired from a job, or thought I had some dreaded disease, who did I call?-my daddy!

Even at 30 or 40 (if your’e lucky to have your parents around) there are times when the only call, text, messenger, FaceTime, you want is your mom (or dad)

As always, enjoy the ride

Barclay & Joy

x0x

When death hits close to home

About a month ago a friend of mine from my former company, one in which I worked for 19 years, texted me. He apologized for contacting me in this way, rather than a phone call. A colleague from work had died suddenly.  She had been in my age group, and though she had some health issues, her dying was totally unexpected and truly overnight.  She had been in the office the day before selling sponsorships to an event, something she had done for years and done it better than anyone could.

She was filled with joy (no pun intended!), a zeal for life, dedication to hard work, specifically selling, and she was quirky.  There is no other P  (name omitted in deference and with respect). She loved good gossip (and there’s always plenty of it in an office environment), purses (she had a house in Spain and couldn’t resist buying beautiful leather bags of every shape and color when she vacationed), shoes (Imelda had nothing on P!), pasta, good coffee, her partner of 25 years, and her family. Dedicated daughter to a very sick mother, kind sister, and loyal friend to all.

I sat next to her when I went back to my former place of employment for 7 months.  In the morning, she’d make me a cup of Nescafe, the European kind, not the crappy American one from the grocery store. If you were working on something and didn’t have time for lunch, she’d make sure you had something from the vending machine!  Selfless, sweet, thoughtful, all would describe P.  One of my friends at work told me he had a drawer full of Kind bars that P brought him every day, even though he disliked them. She wanted to make sure he ate, since he had a reputation for skipping meals! She would never know he stored them away in his drawer for over a year!

When someone dies who is a contemporary, it is a shock, it hits home.  You may love someone in their 80’s or 90’s, but know that their time is nearing and if they pass, it’s not shocking.  It is part of life.  A person in their 50’s or 60’s is still young (at least, they are to me!) and they have so much more to accomplish.  P never did get to retire, have that last goodbye lunch, make that last sale, see one more client, or make one more call to convince a prospect sitting on the fence about attending an awards dinner.

Death doesn’t announce itself.  It can come suddenly and unexpectedly, without warning, without an invite.  P worked for the same company for almost 32 years, truly a part of the fabric of the firm.  She was part of the old culture that had existed, like  your work family. Several of my best friends in life, I made through my time there.

P will be sorely missed by so many, but she leaves those whose lives she touched all the better for having known her.

I know that there will be other calls, texts, emails, to tell me of someone who is near and dear to me dying or being very ill.  I cannot bear the thought.  It saddens me so.  I remember being in Florida with my mother when she got the call that her childhood friend, a woman she had known

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all her life, had passed away.  She sat down and wept.  She hadn’t seen her for many years, but death wakes us up to our own mortality and pinches us to let us know we are alive.  We know not for how long.

Today’s Takeaway:

Death is not somewhere in the far off future. It can come at anytime.  We must take the best care of ourselves, but understand our fate in someone’s else’s hands.

Live life to the fullest and let those who are close to you know how much they mean to you.

As always, enjoy the ride.

xox Barclay & Joy