Posted by Womomma on 3:01 PM

I hung up on him, technically. I had emailed Aster (wonderful husband of 29 years) saying I wish he hadn't gotten upset about something I had said. He's been traveling for more than a week and he's exhausted and worn out and full of well deserved self-pity for being on the road. He had taken offense and I had felt bad but after thinking about it, although it wasn't worth any big deal to iron out, I wanted to share some of my thoughts with him. I felt I had said something supportive, I MEANT it supportively and he took offense at it. I had taken the offense in stride and tried to make up for it but why should I? Shouldn't he know that I am grateful for the life he provides us, for the fact that I can work very part time and that I understand how hard he works? I do show it, I do share it. So he said, on the phone, nicely, really, "I think you've blown this out of proportion." I said, "I'm not that upset about it but I wanted to explain that I didn't think you should be upset about it". And from there to the hang up is blur, except, he fought me on it and was angry with me after saying I was blowing it out of proportion. I tried to zero in on my feelings, which were "Just say that you hear me and understand me." to "You never acknowledge that you even hear me and understand me when you disagree." I realize I was begging him to just say "I HEAR YOU!" Obviously there was more to this than met the eye..more than I realized, more than he realized. "Oh I never say I understand you, " he repeated several times with increasing anger and...and..I hung up.

A follow up email has not been responded to.

Posted by Womomma on 2:00 PM

The "Phew Factor"...maybe it could be a reality TV show on one of the commercial TV stations. But, let's face it, we all have our version of the Phew Factor, don't we? The close call at the bad corner in our town? The time we thought we hit "reply all" on our email where we criticized our boss or relative? The child who doesn't get off the bus because she fell asleep and the driver didn't notice. And our health scares -- the topic for today's show on the "Phew Factor".
Actually, it wasn't a health scare they way some of the Phew Factors can be health scares but definitely a health Phew!

The Background (okay, if this were a reality TV show, there would be some dramatic and tragic music playing, a montage of old photos, family and tears by a gravesite) and a sad voice over by me or the emcee of the show. My mother died of breast cancer at the age of 57, her younger sister died a couple of years earlier, probably at the age of 55-ish, their oldest sister died at a much older age but still of breast cancer. The final sister, who died at a ripe old age of 90+ never had breast cancer but three of her daughters have had it and two of her granddaughters have had it too. We don't have the BRCA gene according to my cousins but obviously something is going on. I have had mammograms starting from the time I was 33, regularly since I was about 40 (and I'm 53 now). So far all has been well. Phew, phew, phew.

Flash to Current Day (scenes of middle aged mother blogging and interacting with the last child at home, the teenager, and passing a post-college age daughter in the home's hallway as she rushes to work (we communicated more when she wasn't living at home)). A sister-in-law calls and says, "You should have the Breast MRI because they are saying some really good things about it, and you know, with your family history." Oh yeah, I've been thinking the same thing myself. Of course there is that little ick factor that comes up every time I go for the annual mammogram: "It might show something!" Oh yeah (clear head by shaking) that's WHY we do it because it might improve one's chances of survival. But isn't it true that we would in some weird way just not want to know because then we'd have to 'deal' with it? It's not how I live and practice but it definitely goes through my mind.

Flash to annual Gyno Visit. Nice nurse chats you up, asks about your children. I remember not to ask about hers because even though you have for the past ten years, I realized last year that she talked for about a half an hour about her children and her ex husband and it was just a little too much, I mean I feel for her but five minutes would work just as well. The doctor is a woman and we all live in the same small town and share information about college acceptances and teachers and the sport teams. "Hey, are you paying attention down there?" Once again, like last year, I forget (forget?) to ask about the MRI. At the check out desk I say, "Oh, I forgot to ask you, what about the breast MRI? Is there value in having that if you have my family history?" She promises to run you through "The Calculator" (shivers) and see if you qualify. Turns out that you DO qualify (gulp) and the appropriate referrals are granted and off you go to the hospital a few days later.

Honestly, I was worried but not about what you think. The The IDEA of an MRI gives me the creeps. Being in that cylinder? Yep, I have some latent, not important in the real world claustrophia. A closet, an elevator..these things don't bother me one bit, but to watch a program where prisoners of war dig a tunnel under the ground and crawl in the dark, to see nature video of spelunkers or of scuba diving spelunkers go into caves and....well, listen you can hear my breathing get shallow right now and it's hard for me to breathe. Aster just had a brain MRI (everything is fine) and he says, "What's the big deal you just relax and kind of doze."

Now to the Breast MRI. First there is the contrast dye through an IV and I have the bruise in my inner elbow to prove it. Then when you enter the room..a large, iron lung type thing fills the room and a bed is sticking out for you to climb onto. I purposely don't look at the iron lung, luckily until after I am all done. One lies, I had to lie face down, arched over an open contraption through which hung my....well, conical protrusions called breasts. My head was able to rest comfortably on a pile of pillows up to the level of the contraption. A call button is placed in my hand and the IV is gracefully threaded over the other hand which are at the base of the pile of pillows. The contrast dye will be pushed remotely after the first series of pictures are taken. I didn't realize that I was in the iron lung until they tucked something around my head. Truly I felt a little panic but I repressed it and kept my eyes closed. "Sleepy, be sleepy," I reminded myself and just enjoy that you have to lie still and do nothing, absolutely nothing for 40 minutes. They talk to you in the lung and then they start the pictures. They explain the horrendous noise, for which you have donned earplugs, as the magnets. I mean really, why do they have to make that kind of noise? It's absolutely deafening. ON the other hand, it's kind of numbing and reassuring in a strange way too. Only it makes different kinds of noises which I couldn't really explain to myself as I tried to make sense of them: click, click type noises, thundering, clapping and clanging. Physically either feel the vibrations of the magnets moving or in fact the sound waves or something causes you to feel as if something were moving up your body. Flash to the claustrophic worry that a mouse is in the lung and there is nothing you can do because after all you can't move can you, especially draped over this breast encasement? Every now and then, they would talk to me: "Are you okay? This series will be 7.5 minutes." or "Now we are going to push the IV contrast dye, your arm might feel cool when it goes in" (for the record I actually felt nothing). Then it was over and the magic bed slid me out. I needed help uncurling from my new form, stretching out my back, taking out the IV and returning to a sense that the real world still awaited me.

This morning my Gyno called (so soon?) and said that I had "perfectly normal" breasts. Phew. Phew. Phew. The Phew Factor.

My husband called to respond to the Phew Factor email that I sent him: "Definitely much better than normal." He said. I thought he meant the news was much better than normal. It took me a moment to appreciate the compliment.

Middle Age Momma grins and The Phew Factor closes with her blogging this entry!

Posted by Womomma on 1:19 PM

My kids all have hundreds of ‘friends’ on their Facebook sites. HUNDREDS! Some of them are relatives and some are parents’ friends. Most are friends from school and summer camp and then friends of those friends. And, at times, they are friends with me.

Rosie, the eldest, blocked me in AOL’s IM from the time we got it. I chalked it up to the whole ‘separation’ challenge that every child must navigate and anyway, I could go upstairs and talk to her for the most part. When she went to college, she created an IM name for me only...I guess she was serious about me not being able to see her “status”. It infuriated me because her then 11-year-old brother had access to her status and I didn’t. Even so, at least she IM’d with me every few days and I knew she was alive. Her separation needs haven’t abated much but I’ve always tried to accept that about her.

She allowed me to be her “friend” on Facebook but I soon realized that it was a ‘limited’ thing. I was her “friend” but I had no rights. I wasn’t really her friend. She thought it was creepy that I had a Facebook account. It irked me and infuriated me a bit but then again she was always the one who shut me out and what was new about that? She was on Facebook when no one but college students were on it. Okay, I could live with it. Until….

Nola and Jack freely added me as their “friend” and seemed not to mind when friends of theirs “friended” me or vice versa (although I was careful to only do it with those were close family friends). Until….

For Rosie, suddenly one day this summer I realized that not only was I no longer a friend but I was a “blocked friend” meaning when I did a search on Rosie’s name she didn’t exist in Facebook. She had purposely and spitefully blocked me from knowing her at all on Facebook. She didn’t exist. There wasn’t even a phone number to call her and introduce myself.
The anger and shock and hurt…I can’t describe it. Raging, hurting emotions from ‘What does she not want me to know (which I wouldn’t have known anyway the way it was set up) to Why do you want to hurt me so badly’? Tears, anguish in the belly, an angry, hurtful email sent through the cybersphere to her while she was walking across Spain. I sent you to Spain to grow up and you repay this graduation present by shutting me out FURTHER? She wrote back that it was no big deal, I should cool my jets and she ‘friended” me…full status. Of course, this left me feeling guilty and ashamed.

My closest friend, HJB, who also has a college age child said that she understood Rosie’s point of view and that I needed to let it go. It’s not about me. That’s her place. And I know it’s true, I know it’s true but I can’t let it go. I’ve tried, I’m trying.

Now Nola is off to her first year of college and suddenly I am seeing things on Facebook I don’t want to see about how she is spending her time, what she is doing with her free time, who she is spending her time with. She is behaving in ways that I don’t think she should be behaving and so, knowing that I risked being excommunicated and brought up my concerns about how much drinking she’s doing AND sharing on her Facebook. We have a tense conversation and I am still her ‘friend’ for a few days and then, suddenly, Nola doesn’t exist on Facebook anymore. I’ve been excommunicated again! Restored by one and then ditched by the other. Again, it’s as if I’ve been punched in the stomach. Not invited to the party at the neighbor’s house even though everyone else on the block was.

So, here’s my question to the world: should a parent be a Facebook friend to their child in college? Should they want to? Or, as HJB tells me, ‘just trust that they will figure out the things that they need to learn, just like you did in college. AND stop looking at her Facebook!” I KNOW this. I say these things to myself actually but the fact that other people have access to my child’s site and I don’t and that I have reason to believe that they are sharing themselves with the world in ways that isn’t a good idea still bother me. If you see what your college age child has on Facebook, do you talk to them about it?

Posted by Womomma on 1:18 PM
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Yesterday Aster said, "Well, this is probably the last warm day." This said with a sense of impending doom and despair. "You said that about ten times last fall," I reminded him. "No, really," he said standing and looking at on his computer's monitor.

And indeed, today is cold and rainy. The bathroom window was cracked open and the air seeping in was icy and wet. The sky is a flat grey and the view from the back of the house extremely fore-shortened but the trees are orange, yellow and brownish orange, lightly peppered with the green evergreens which will remain through the winter.

Aster can't stand the cold and the dark of the winter. Biologically, physically, he's not made to deal with it. We learned yesterday that barometric pressure can cause migraines and he has them often and we wondered about the weather and his migraines and his misery throughout the winter and whether weather is more of a connection that we have even acknowledge.
Oops, the flat grey sky has broken and the some white fluffy clouds are suddenly moving across the sky, hints of blue and one can actually see the horizon!

Posted by Womomma on 1:16 PM

"You're Awfully Perky This Morning." (rolled eyes, annoyed face)
"You're awfully perky this morning this morning." Rose said this morning while standing in the kitchen. It wasn't a compliment.

I had just finished telling her about an article about Sarah Palin in the New York Times (she was a shy wall-flower as a child but high school basketball may have changed her life), an amazing endorsement of Barack Obama in the New York Times that I thought she should read and an interesting article about placebos in healthcare today. The sun was streaming into the kitchen, which I had neatened so that when Aster came down (after being away all week) the place would look nice. Jack was at school and Rosie had a double shift at the restaurant lined up.

Rose's long orange hair was messily (from sleep) but luxuriously bundled atop her head. Strands stuck out and hung down around her faintly freckled cheeks. Stunning. A halo of sunlight through her hair. Stunning. And yet, she was snarling at me for my early morning enthusiasm. I could hear in the silence between us that I had in fact been rattling along without taking a read from her..assuming she would share my interest and excitements. The morning was too beautiful to be upset. She's never been a morning person, neither she nor Jack nor Aster are. Nola doesn't mind. But Rose is 22, she lives at home after being at school for four years, she off to waitress for 12 hours, she just came home from seven weeks walking across Spain and here I am asking her to read some interesting articles in the New York Times. She'd rather find them herself.

Posted by Womomma on 1:14 PM

So, here I am, middle aged woman, mother and wife. I have been married for 29 years, together with said gentleman, Aster, for 33 years! We have three children: Rose, 22, Magnolia (Nola for short), aged 18 and Jack, aged 15. Rose just graduated from college, Nola just went to college and Jack is a high school sophmore.

I have done everything from working more than full time and having a more than full time nanny to working from home to very part time work and now, wanting and needing more work..both from a personal point of view but also from a financial perspective as well. I can pretty well say that I understand all the different options a woman can have in the workforce. Albeit, I have been extraordinarily lucky to have a supportive husband who has also had the good fortune and ability to let me have these options over the years. Hopefully, it has been beneficial for the family as a whole for me to have been home more than not.It's hard now though, with the economy the way it is, savings disappearing in the stock market and us getting older and wistfully thinking about our options disappearing for an early retirement.