Saturday, April 24, 2010

Reflecting...on 41 years.

It's not quite midnight yet so it's still technically my birthday. My 41st birthday. Wow, how in the world did that happen? You blink and suddenly you are middle aged! It's weird, when I was a kid and my mom and dad were this age I thought they were so old and now I look at my kids and wonder 'do they think I am old?'
I honestly don't think they feel like I am as old as I felt my mom was but I know they don't think they feel like I am as cool as I think I am!
So the reflecting part. I really wish my memory was better, I wish that I could remember some birthdays from my childhood. I don't think I really had a true birthday party. I think we mostly celebrated with family and then maybe a friend or two came over for dinner but I think thats it. I don't even remember milestone birthdays. I could not tell you for the life of me what I did for my 16th birthday. I am sure it was a good one and that I had fun but it's as if it never happened. This is one of the reasons why I am writing this blog. I know that when you are actually going through something you think 'I am never going to forget this moment' but then before you know it, poof! memory erased. I am trying to make sure with my kids I take lots of pictures, but I am not good about writing things down at all. I think I am going to encourage them both to start a journal so that when they are my age they can reflect and still actually remember what they are reflecting on!
Now just so I don't forget what I did today let me tell you about it. First I woke up and went downstairs and everything was all neat and tiday and the sheets had even been changed on Allison's bed (without me asking). Chris adn Allison had made sure that before they left they cleaned everything up so I wouldn't go ballistic on my birthday! Lol! Then my awesome friend Melissa and her daughter Miranda drove out from Orange County so that we could go spend the day at Rancho Las Palmas Hotel and Spa. I then had a couple personal services, a massage and a facial. The girls all hung out at the pool and went round and round the lazy river all day. We had a great time. Then it was on to pedicures! We then came home got ready and Chris, Melissa and I all went to the Yard House. All in all it was a great birthday. Quiet, relaxing and indulgent! Yay me!
I hope that I am able to keep up with this so in another 5 years or so I am able to have somewhere to go back to so that I can remember what I did after I turned 41.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

From Single to engaged in 30 days...

The year after my dad died was a really rough one for many reasons, not only did I lose my father I lost most of my family too. We had a big family blowout between our family and my Uncle Don's family. This isn't my story to tell so I can't get into detail on here but it wasn't pretty and it was very hard on me. I have never ever felt so alone in my life. I had been dating a guy that I went to high school with but was a couple years older than me for about a year, he lived in Anaheim and the long distance thing just wasn't working for me. I tend to be very, very fickle and one day I just woke up and said "this isn't working, I am not happy" and I left. He wasn't happy but it's the way that i usually handle things so that was that.
I was pretty happy being single for the next 4 months, just kind of dating and having fun with my friends. Then one night I was at a party with a girlfriend and started talking to this guy, we knew that we had met before and had a mutual friend but hadn't really ever had a conversation. Anyway to make a short story even shorter, we ended up hitting it off and started dating right away. We spent the next 30 days together, (pretty much any free time we had we were together). Then one night we had our first fight... it was a doozie, we were both really upset and we were getting ready to go to dinner with my mom so we quickly made up and got over it but it really bothered both of us. We were driving to the restaraunt to meet my mom when he looked over at me and said "why don't we just get married." Yep that was it, my romantic proposal. So I said "really?, ok." We then went to dinner and told my mom, I thought for sure she was going to freak out and tell us we were nuts. Nope, she was all for it. "When do you want to do this?, do you want to go to Vegas?" I could not believe how all for it she was. So then we went about planning and we were married a very short 3 months after that. Totally crazy, I know. But for us, it worked, I am not saying this is the best plan for everyone but it just seemed like the right time for me, in the midst of all the chaos that was my family I found a soft spot to land... I found my husband. I can't tell you that I knew right away that this was going to work and I can't tell you that if I was ever put in that position again I would do it, but at that time it was right. We have made it work now for almost 16 1/2 years. We have two kids and we are still pretty darn happy. We definitely have our moments like most couples but we know we always have each other.
For the longest time I thought it was such a silly story that I couldn't tell my kids the real story, I remember telling Allison when she was little that when her dad proposed to me we were at a football game and at half time the jumbotron read "Nina, will you marry me?" I just couldn't bring myself to say "your dad and I were driving down the street and he said "we should get married". Now they know the truth and I think it has ended up being a pretty cool story in and of itself.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Daddy's Girl... and what happens when he's gone.

So I am a hard core Daddy's girl, have been one my whole life, I honestly can't remember a time when I didn't want my dad more than my mom. I know that sounds horrible especially since now I am a mom and I would be so sad if one of my girls ever treated me the way I treated my mother. I wasn't nice. I mean I didn't try to be mean or even feel at the time that things that I said or did were out of line, it's just that I didn't really ever take my mom's feelings into consideration. She wasn't one to come out and say to me "Nina, that really hurt me" I think she just internalized it all. I also think that she had my brother Mike and he was so good to her and had so much patience for her that it made up for me.
I remember being young, probably in middle school or so and my parents were arguing (as parents often do) and I thought for sure they were going to get a divorce, because honestly in my 11 year old world it seemed like a pretty bad argument. I looked at my Dad and said "let's go, if you want to leave, I will go with you." I so badly wanted it to be just me and him against the world. I pictured me taking care of him, learning how to cook for him and cleaning the house.... of course it would have never happened but in my imagination it was a great idea.
The funny thing is my dad loved me, there is no doubt, I know I was his "baby" but really he truly loved my mom too, and I am so glad he did. She deserved it. She put up with a lot, much more than I would ever put up with. My dad was a guy who loved his friends and his brother and made no mistake about the fact that he was going to spend time with them when he wanted to, and that sometimes meant he wasn't coming home after work, even IF my mom had cooked dinner and was patiently waiting for him. She would get upset and cry and yell and I would think 'what is the big deal, so what if he wanted to stop after work and have a couple drinks with his friends'? OH MY GOD, if my husband did that to me, especially as often as my dad did, I would kill him. Coming home a little drunk on a random Wednesday night after I had cooked and cleaned all day? Oh no, not in my home, it wouldn't happen. I love my husband and he is a good man but I promise you if he started doing that stuff I would be gone in a heartbeat. It's a different time of course than when my parents were younger and raising kids and I am so glad that my mom didn't leave.

Anyway, the whole reason for this little story is the other story I am about to tell...
My dad has been gone for many years now. My mom instantly became a very independent woman, especially considering she had been married for almost every minute of her adult life. She suddenly was on her own and responsible for everything, buying her home, her car and taking care of all the little stuff too. In the beginning it was great, we only saw each other every week or two, we talked every day but that was it. Then about 4 years ago my mom's doctor told her that she really shouldn't be living on her own, that her health was getting worse and if she had the option of living with her daughter that maybe she should consider it. Hmmm.... so this is where it all changed.
My mom sold her house and put the money into building a guest house onto our home. It was really cute and it was in front of our house so it was really kind of like we were neighbors. She came and went as she pleased, often times without us even knowing that she was gone. We got along pretty well at this point and she was still pretty independent just a little slower moving than she once was.
Two years after she built the guest house we decided we wanted to move. We found a house that had an even nicer guest house but this time it was in the back. My mom's health had gotten much worse at this point and the move was very hard on her. I felt horrible, like I was causing her to deteriorate just because I had a need to have a bigger home. We started arguing ALOT more. It was getting harder and harder to have a conversation with her without feeling like I had to run out of the room before I absolutely lost my mind.
She is a very tough lady, she doesn't have a filter, in other words, if she feels it-she says it, even if it's hurtful. Even if it's offensive. It makes me crazy.
We have been in the house for two and half years now and her health has gotten increasingly worse as time has gone on. I am now completely responsible for everything she does. She no longer drives, I take care of everything, which is exactly what I pictured myself doing for my dad someday... ironic right? Irony or retribution? Who knows. All I know is that no matter how offended I get, how hurt my kids feelings get or how crazy she makes me she is still my mom. I am going to be 41 years old next week and I am still learning every day how to be a better daughter to my mom. I am learning patience.
Today I had a friend tell me that the older I get the more I sound like her. That? freaked me out so bad, I cannot get it out of my head. I am obsessing over it. I do not want to offend people and I certainly do not want anybody to think that I don't have a filter or that I don't take people's feelings into consideration. I feel like I strive to do the exact opposite, I go out of my way to make sure people's feelings aren't hurt. I do however always stand up for what I believe in and make sure my voice is heard when I feel something is truly important. I will never, ever stand in the back of a crowded room and just shake my head when I disagree with something, I will not ever speak ill of someone and then turn around and act as their friend. Some people might think these things are cold hearted (which my mom has been accused of being) but I just feel like I have integrity and am being honest. I make an effort every day to be the best person I can be. I am passionate, opinionated and honest, if those things make me act like my mom, well then so be it.
I realize now that my mom has a lot of great qualities, she is patient, she has lived through so many heartbreaks, given up a son and buried 3 of her own children and was so strong through it all. I admire these things about her. She stands up for what she believes in and she really is my biggest fan even though sometimes it feels like she is always judging me, my appearance and my attitude. I know she loves me and I really do love her. This doesn't mean I don't miss my dad, it just means that had it gone the other way if he would have lived and she was gone I wouldn't have had the chance to learn to understand my mom the way I do now.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Age and Wisdom...

I have always been a firm believer that with age comes wisdom. Being the youngest in the family my opinion didn't always count, my ideas weren't listened to and often times I was pretty much just blown off because I was young and didn't know what I was talking about. Well guess what? Not anymore! Now I am old and wise... okay so maybe not real old and not real wise, however I am getting older and wiser every day and I want to share some of that wisdom now... here it goes.
First, I have learned that as smart as you think you are in your 20's, you really don't even know yourself yet. You are still figuring out and deciding what kind of adult you are going to become, you are stuck between your teens and being a real grown up, you are still relying on your parents and friends and are just beginning to grow up. You think you know who you are but really you don't. Lifes responsibilites are just starting to hit you but at the same time if you really run into trouble you can always go back to mom and dad, grandma and grandpa or whomever you rely on for help.
Second, I have learned that the most important things in life is your family. Don't get me wrong I love my friends and some of my closest friends are like my family. But really at the end of the day your family is who has your back and they are who you should realy on and depend on when times get tough.
Third and most importantly, I have figured out what qualities/traits are most important to me. These are qualities that I admire in other people the most and the qualites that I want people to see in me and my children.
I am not sure if there is one that I find more important than the other, they are probably all equal. I strive every day to be that person. I try at all times to be loyal to those who love me, and that have my back, and I try to make sure that I can be honest with those that I love, if they have hurt me or if I have done something to upset them that we are honest with each other about it. If you and I are friends and if I know that you will always have my back when someone is talking about me or has hurt me I will be loyal to you to the end. On the other side of that is when I have a serious disagreement with someone or really have a strong opinion (and believe me I know my opinions can be strong) and I am sharing that with people as in "I cannot believe she did that, that was so wrong, yadda yadda yadda) I cannot then go to lunch with you the next day and pretend to be your friend. I know that might sound harsh but seriously, if I am talking smack about somebody and think that they are morally corrupt or have just made one bad decision after another I can't then go to Starbucks with them and talk about what they are doing this weekend. I just feel that is wrong. Consequently I have ended up with fewer and fewer friends as I get older because apparantely the general public does not share these opinions with me, and you know what that's ok too. These are just things that are important to me. I have my close circle of friends, those who I talk to every day/week of my life and those that I have known for 25 or 30 years that I can go months without speaking to but I know that they have my best interest at heart and they are always there for me and vice versa.
I am not out to win any popularity contests and at this point in my life I am not willing to compromise my beliefs to be a part of a group or to have more girlfriends to go to dinner with. I love the friends I have and am always willing to open my heart to new ones.... but only if I know we can support each other and have each others best interest at heart.
Finally I want to say that life is too short to live with regrets If you hurt someone say your sorry...if you miss someone call them, if you want to run a marathon... run it. If you have read my blog you know that I have lost many loved ones and most of them way before their time, I hope that when it's my time I go out knowing that I did my best to be a good person and to teach my girls to be good people. We all make mistakes and believe me I am far from perfect but I am learning every day how to be better.