What do you do when they don’t answer your texts?

I’ve had some bad mom moments. Like seriously bad. Like one time when I couldn’t reach my son at college and I literally called the campus police and had them track him down. Nothing like the campus police walking into your baseball practice to tell you that your mom is looking for you. Yup. Bad mom moment. But here’s the thing, they don’t respond. Well my daughter generally will but the boys – just no freaking way.

Wait a minute. They do respond in the following situations:

  1. When they need an Xfinity code and it comes to my cell phone number;
  2. When they want money in their Venmo account;
  3. When giving me their “orders” for the food I’ll make and bring up for them;
  4. Anything related to money or credit cards; or
  5. To tell me that the large charge on the credit card for a keg will be reimbursed to them by their friends.

To be fair, one of them was sober enough on the morning of my birthday, to wish me a great day. He likely was still drunk but his sister is a good “reminder” person and I know she “reminded” them. The other … well it took him 3/4ths of the day to read her text message so that he could be reminded to send me a text message!

I know they are not too busy to pick up their phones because the data usage proves that the phone is operational.

Recently I started sending Snap Chats of the dog. And while they responded at first with “cute” or “aww” – even that’s stopped.

So, what’s a mom to do? Well, she can write a blog post about them and then SEND IT directly to them. Or, she can Facetime them so her face comes up on their screen over and over again until they answer.

Yes, I can do those things (and I will) but I’m going to go a step further. When they come home on break, I’m going to have them install the app “Reply ASAP.” This will make their phones ring when I call, even when its on silent with a message “Reply ASAP” that continues to pop up on the screen until he responds. I’m excited just thinking about it! Got any other ideas here?

To Be Continued.

XOXO

Jessica

My love affair with food (or, I’m Italian).

I don’t blame my mom for making me nuts. But my Italian obsession with food was definitely her fault. My mother was an Italian from the Bronx. Need I say more?

For Italians, food is always a reminder that life can be complicated and hard, sad and cold… but happiness is just a matter of few, delicious ingredients to sooth the soul. That’s why as soon I’ve finished one meal, I am wondering what the next one will be. It wouldn’t be normal at my house, if you didn’t smell food cooking as soon as you woke up. My shelves are full of food (mostly for me to give away to anyone who walks in our front door). And you cannot leave my house without an armful of something!

I guess being Italian is more than just food. It’s 14 conversations happening all at one time. It’s the Italian good-bye, where you might try to leave five times but you really never can leave until you take a few more food containers containers “just in case” “for later on.” The actual good-bye is 20 minutes later at your car (because saying good-bye once, twice or even three times is not enough for an Italian!).

Being Italian means taking 3752 pictures of the same thing just to be sure you have just the right angle of everyone. We also kiss and hug everything and everyone. I mean even strangers (which really is a total embarrassment to my children).

I also remember hearing my mom say things in the car to other drivers (along with giving them the finger – which (sadly) in 2021 could get you shot). Oh, don’t forget that everything is accompanied by a funny Italian gesture(s), to communicate what you’re feeling or to add an insult to any situation. And, growing up, having Nutella on hand was more important than having a boyfriend.

Today someone asked me a question about something that pissed me off … and I bit my hand, shook it in the air and said something in Italian. I think she thought I was crazy. I just shrugged and said, “I’m Italian.” Enough. Said.

XOXO

Jessica

The Coyotes.

I still have a bit of PTSD from this experience and it actually colors every single walk I take with Lily.

In mid-August I was walking my dog at the Perpich Arts High School – a place I’d taken her for two years. People go there and let their dog off leash to chase balls in the soccer field.

I’d seen coyotes there before but they usually retreated behind the fence in the woods. This day I saw one and decided to go behind the high school rather than the soccer field. I took Lily off leash and threw the ball a few times. For some reason, I happened to turn around and found that we were surrounded by three coyotes. They were close – like 20 feet. They were coming toward us and clearly wanted Lily.

I dropped Lily’s leash (I just was not thinking) and ran to Lily – all the while screaming at the coyotes. I guess I thought being loud would get them to stop. It did not. They just kept advancing towards us and since I didn’t have Lily’s leash I needed to keep her near me. I knew if she veered from my side, they would kill her. The thought of it right now still affects me. I remember thinking how was I going to stop them if they attacked her? What was I going to tell my daughter about her dog? I was completely panic stricken.

We started running and by the grace of g-d she ran along side of me. I think she could sense something was wrong or maybe she thought we were playing. It seemed like a crazy nightmare and I kept looking back to see if I was hallucinating. I was not. They kept chasing us. By this point they were approximately 15 feet on three sides of us. They could have attacked us but I was screaming so much, which must have kept them from jumping us.

Despite my best efforts to yell, throw my phone and bag, they didn’t stop. They chased us around the school and into the parking lot at which point I grabbed Lily’s collar and ran across a very busy Hwy. 55 in rush hour traffic. No one – not one person – stopped to help me.

Ever since then, no matter where I am, I scan for coyotes. I just can’t seem to shake it. I heard that a neighbor across the RR tracks had her dog mauled by a coyote – right in their front yard. Horrible.

Not sure I’m a good dog sitter (well, clearly I’m not if I almost got my dog killed), but I do know that I have a special bond with this crazy ass dog . This will haunt me for awhile. I better stick to the dog park.

Be careful everyone!

XOXO

Jessica

My watch said “record a walk” when all I was doing was picking up dog poop.

I’m not sure I even need to write anything. The title speaks for itself.

I know I have hit a new low when my watch thinks that I am doing some kind activity when I’m really just holding a small green bag and bending down. This means one of two things (maybe more than two, but I’m afraid to go farther): (1) I maybe need to listen to my friends and get on a dating web site; or (2) I need more hobbies other than work and poop detail. I think the latter is more realistic!

I was initially against getting one of these “watches” that track your every move (although it saved me when I had the coyote incident … to be blogged later). But, I’ve gotten the hang of it and it helps me when I’m swimming and lose track of my laps – which is a frequent occurrance.

The truth is that fitness and health apps are taking over our lives. None of which does much for our life balance, which clearly is another topic. I get that these apps give us a lot of control. But, they also lead us to constantly look at our phones, our wrists and to find one more thing to obsess about. I think we have a major problem here!

I remember a friend of mine freaking out when the battery in his step counter was dying. He. Could. Not. Function. I told him that freedom from his watch could change his life. We didn’t talk much after that. 🙂

Look, I don’t mind counting the three + miles I walk the dog each morning. I need the sanity of knowing that we’ve gone far enough so I can get some freaking work done while she’s sleeping! So, maybe (in a way) I use my mileage counter for my own freedom from Lily wanting to play, if only for a few hours.

Anyway, the “record a walk” when I bent down with the bag was a good reminder that life might be passing me by … one poop bag at a time. Reset. To. Be. Continued.

XOXO

Jessica

Her (last) swim?

I was swimming a month or so ago and there was almost no one there, although I noticed one woman on the pool deck and another one swimming slowly in the pool. As I walked up and put my stuff down, I started a conversation with the woman on the pool deck. Long story, short, she was the daughter of the woman in the pool. Her mom had been a swimmer for most of her life. It was her happy place. She was 91 (the mom) and she still loved to swim!

Unfortunately, the mom had been given some bad health news recently and she was getting to the end of her swimming days. As the daughter told me, I felt almost as if I was leaving my body. It just felt painful and sad. I could not think of one thing to say.

I turned to look at the woman slowly gliding in the water and tears formed in my eyes. Honestly, as I think of it right now, it was the 21st of August – the anniversary of my mom’s death. Weird that just hit me now …

Anyway, I finished my conversation with the daughter and went to sit on the edge of the pool. It took me so long to slide myself into the water. It just felt like such a sacred space and time … I didn’t want to disturb it.

I can’t recall how long she was in the pool but it wasn’t too much longer. I remember feeling a quietness in my swimming when I realized that she had gotten out. I looked around as I was swimming and happened to see the mom and daughter walking out toward the locker room.

You would never have known by watching them that anything was wrong. That’s the thing about life. We never really know a “last” is. Since then, every time I’ve been in the pool, I’ve marveled at how the lights play off the water and how the gentle waves feel when someone else is swimming next to me. I definitely don’t take my pool time for granted any longer. And, I think of her (and another friend of mine … who also loved to swim) every time I get into the pool. It’s my happy place.

With that, I pray you all have a wonderful and loving weekend!

XOXO

Jessica

How to piss your kid off in one phone call or less.

Yup, this is a thing. And, certainly a thing I know how to do. Generally, I can bite my tongue and find a different way to address an issue but sometimes I can’t and either I just intentionally give my unsolicited opinion or I unintentionally just piss a kid off with what I’m saying.

I’m super far from perfect.

Your child may be an adult now, but when they’re talking with you about big, possibly painful issues, you’re likely interacting with a younger part of them that can be emotionally reactive. And, then it’s easy to revert into that parent/client interaction, which often (read: never) doesn’t go well when they are in their 20’s! This, my friends, is a steep learning curve.

That’s what I did tonight. I failed to understand her side of the situation because for both of us, we were looking back at past interactions. he was asking me to let go of the past and look to the future and I wasn’t ready to do that.

A little of my college psychology comes in handy here: When we have emotional wounds, they occur on the right hemisphere of the brain, where we store experiential memories, and when those stored memories are triggered, the right hemisphere of your child’s brain will likely become engaged, reigniting those old feelings of ‘fight or flight,’ that they might have felt in the moment from the past. This is why those emotional reactions may seem inconsistent with the intensity of the actual interaction or topic.

While I suggested to her that she have grace for her dad and I regarding this particular issue, I didn’t practice my nonjudgmental acceptance for her experience. I talked and I didn’t listen.

I need to apologize and I’ll do that tomorrow when I’m not so tired and don’t have the dog crawling all over me for attention. My apology should be sincere and transparent – authentic. I need to recognize my own defensiveness and fear – which is not an excuse but just is part of the equation.

Importantly, and before I sign off of this topic, I need to forgive myself. I’m not perfect. I’m not a perfect parent, I’m not a perfect partner nor am I a perfect dog babysitter. Look, we can be good parents and still unintentionally hurt our child’s feelings. Even the “best” parents make mistakes … and who are those “best” parents anyway … ??

I cannot change or rework the past. She can’t either. And, maybe we both need grace and forgiveness. A former therapist of mine once said, “Forgive yourself for not having the foresight to know what is now so obvious in hindsight.” I’ll have to take that one to the bank tomorrow. 🙂

XOXO

Jessica

It’s “all out there” when you get a mammogram.

Look, I’ve given birth to three kids, two at one time. I have an ex-husband and can survive in front of some of the toughest judges. But there’s nothing like the baring of your soul during a mammogram in a cold, dimly lit room to bring you to your knees. Guys, you won’t get this but for my women friends, you know what I’m talking about.

Today was my day. It was a zippy 15 minute appointment. It’s not as loving as it was pre-covid. Back then, you would get warm tea or coffee and a bunch of magazines to look at. Now, you are checked in on line and there is no coffee or magazines.

First of all, I think it’s important to remember (which I often do NOT) that you are not to wear any deodorant or thick body lotion on the day of the mammogram as it shows up on the x-ray. If you do, you are banished to a room to “take it all off” so that you can be clean for the machine. Today, I remembered (hence “zippy”)!

It seems like it will be easy. You are greeted by a nice volunteer and given a robe to change into. There is nice music. Warm lights. Nice chairs.

The rest is not for the faint of heart. There is a jaws of life machine that does the most unbelievable things. I just never realized (prior to my first mammo) that a body part could be flattened down to a pancake and for that long and still come back to whence it came. The wonders of the human body.

My biggest problem on mammogram day, is that during the scan, I completely forget my right from my left. I don’t know what it means to stand on tippy toes or move my feet so they face the machine. I really just become a bumbling idiot responding (without words) to the directions from the technician. I don’t even know how to talk (I almost never talk in there — shocking, right?). All I do is breathe and “hold your breathe.”

Look, I am infinitely grateful for mammograms. Saved millions of lives. I’m not complaining. I’m just saying that not matter how zippy it is, I still always need a shot of Jack when it’s over … just sayin’.

XOXO

Jessica

I’m breaking a lot of plates.

I listened to services yesterday via zoom and the Rabbi talked about being at her daughter’s wedding and breaking a plate. As she spoke of the significance of the experience, I knew what she was talking about. I could tell she felt it so deeply, and I in turn, felt the same thing.

First let me explain the tradition: Generally, at the wedding of your child, the mother and mother-in-law break a plate–a symbolic rending of mother-child ties, and an acknowledgment that soon their children will be feeding each other. In other words, the bond that the mother and child had, will soon form between the newlyweds. There are so many really cool traditions in Judaism! I’ll have to write about a few others.

While my kids are not getting married anytime soon (gratefully so!), I feel like I am (in a quiet way) breaking plates with my kids. I’m finding that we are changing the bonds between us. For those friends whose kids have just left for their first year of college, the bonds with your children will actually grow during college.

I find that we are more open, more emotional, and less afraid to share our feelings. We’ve become more interdependent rather than dependent. I’ve become more of an advisor, rather than an authority. Also, we are less afraid to speak our mind about the other’s behavior, knowing or actually finally realizing, that when we talk with one another (sometimes passionately) it’s really because we care.

So, I’m smashing plates. But I’m also picking up the pieces and putting them together in a whole new way. It’s exciting! Plus, who doesn’t want a whole new set of dishes??

XOXO

Jessica

My dad used to say this to me every morning…

I used to call my dad every morning. He would answer his phone and say “Hello honey [clearing his throat]. You’re the first person I’ve talked with this morning.” I felt honored to be his first call.

That’s not my reality. Here’s how it goes in my house right now:

Me: It’s only 4 am? Why are we up?

Dog: Silence but cute face looking at me.

Me: Go back to bed. Just because I pee 4 times a night doesn’t mean you have to go.

Dog: [Stare down by the dog. Truth is, she didn’t need to go. She was just faking me out]

Me: [Frustrated] Fine. I’m going to get up and make some coffee.

Dog: [nothing. not even a raise of her head to look at me]

Me: Ok. I’m getting up now. Sure you don’t want to come?

Dog: Nothing

Yesterday, I found myself talking with the dog about a problem I’m working on. What is wrong with me? My first words every morning are to a dog, who I’m pretty sure doesn’t understand [nor does she seem to care] what I am saying. In fact, she doesn’t even understand, “come” (which is really pissing me off right now). On our walks, I’m literally talking with her, as if she knows what I’m saying. But, she just looks up at me, maybe wondering if I’ll have a treat for her. Literally, by 8 am, I’ve had entire conversations with a dog, who is only is concerned with “food” “ball” “park” “treat” and “bone.”

As if that’s not bad enough, the next thing I do is get on Snapchat and start talking to my phone – messaging my kids about random shit that I assume goes no where with them (other than my [failed] efforts to keep our Snapchat streak going). What is wrong with me?

I used to say to my kids that watching Sponge Bob dumbed down America. But I now take that back. I’m dumbing down America – or at least I’m dumbing down the only life forms in my house right now – me and the dog. I’m hoping someone is praying for me … can I teach the dog to do that??? 🙂

XOXO

Jessica