Author Archives: mom2times

About mom2times

Tina Celentano writes about love, life and lessons from the empty nest. She is a Today Parenting and Red Tricycle contributor and is published in the anthology Once Upon An Expat. In no particular order, she is a friend, mom, film buff, book aficionado, music lover, wife, sister, writer and traveler. You can reach her at tina@babyboomermomblog.com

Eclipse

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DSCN0194Last week an event of astronomical proportions occurred when a total eclipse of the sun was seen through a broad swath of the continental US and in partial elsewhere. An eclipse happens when the earth, moon and sun align, normally when the moon is in  crescent stage (according to the science tech who spoke at the gathering I attended to watch this event). The moon slowly encroaches on the sun until it fully covers it for several moments, leaving only a small bright circle of light as the sun tries to unsuccessfully maintain its superior stance in the heavens. In other words, a much smaller, seemingly dead asteroid has the ability to entirely block an enormous ball of burning flame from view, change the daylight to twilight and drop the temperature some significant degrees. That’s pretty cool.

I have always loved the mystery of space and the stars and have often been accused of having my head lost in them. As a young teen enthralled with such TV shows as Star Trek and later the iconic world of Star Wars, traveling to the stars was always an absolute dream of mine. I was determined to become an astronaut until I was undermined by my own inability to master high level math and science classes. Alas, my trip to the stars would only ever be real in my vast imagination bolstered by books and films.

What is it about our dreams that make us believe they are attainable? When we are

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Dreamcatcher by Pexels via Pixabay

young, the sky’s the limit until someone tells you it is not. We can have absolute faith, unshakable and true, that we can achieve whatever we put our minds to until we bump up against reality. Now that is not true of everyone. There are those who knew right away what they were meant to be and have achieved those goals. But I see that as kind of an eclipse; all the stars aligned for that person to make that dream happen. And yet despite that realization, I have never given up on having dreams. What is true is that as flexible humans we can adjust our dreams so that they are attainable. Or perhaps it is ourselves that we adjust to be more in line with our dreams. Like that determined little moon, it is possible to find yourself having your moment in the sun with the greatest of satisfaction and accomplishment. The real trick to dream attainment is discovering who you really are.

In that respect I believe it is important to follow your heart’s demands because more often than not it brings you to the place where you are supposed to be for the dream to evolve. The dream in my 20’s was to work in film and live in Hollywood. That I lived in northern Canada in a small town thousands of miles and a lifetime away from such a dream didn’t stop me. Once I got to Hollywood and started working on the dream, the bump against reality was jolting.  I did not expect it to be easy but it did not take me long to learn that much of the promise of Hollywood is as opaque as the smog that covers it. In a city built on fantasy, image counts, body type and hair color counts, speech and words (but not necessarily truth) counts. Talent really doesn’t register until you’ve been lucky enough to get a few jobs and even then it might not count.

Yet I have no regrets, not one. I grew up in Hollywood, I had fun in Hollywood and yes even got to meet the actor who played one of those fictional Star Trek characters I admired so much. I also met some lifelong friends and the man I would marry and raise a family with. And yes, the dream changed. I realized I was very good at listening to people, pinpointing what they trying to express and able to give them ideas to help with their particular concern or question. I went back to school and got my degree. One dream eclipsed another. That happened to be the right one for me but it could not have happened if I had not followed the one that wasn’t quite right for me.

Today is the last day of August as autumn begins to eclipse summer. Perhaps life is just a series of eclipses and our job is to find that brilliant circle in each event to mark our life’s unique journey. Sometimes it’s hard to know what each transition might mean especially when the darkness encroaches. I think of what the people of Texas are experiencing now in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. How devastating to think about rebuilding their lives let alone just surviving the event. Yet everywhere in that disaster is evidence that love has eclipsed hate. People have come together to help each other and there is seems to be no divide in the common goal of saving lives.

Maybe the universe was trying to tell us something a week ago Monday when millions trained their eyes to the sky. Mother Nature knows how to get our attention as she has proven once again with this cataclysmic hurricane.  We need to pay attention if we are to survive. There always seems to be a light in every moment of darkness. We are human and as such we have amazing capacity to rise again. If we can hold out over those moments of darkness, that sun will start to reveal itself again. Time to let go of all this hate and discourse. Time for the next eclipse.

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Eclipse by ipicgr via Pixabay

Homestead

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Photo by Bluesnap via Pixabay

Home is where the heart is. And your clothes and books and all the other stuff that represents your life. It’s the place you display your memories and photos of loved ones. It has artwork and projects and pictures of your children at every age. It’s also where your spouse might live and where your children might have grown and flown the nest. Home can be a house, or an apartment or any place you feel safe to lay your head. Home is the people in it and not the structure itself. It is the nest that you feather, your peaceful oasis in the busyness of the world. Dorothy, at the end of her adventures in The Wizard of Oz, reminded us that there is no place like it. Yes, a home is definitely one’s castle.

However, the thing about a home is that you have to keep it up or it will fall around you without a moment’s notice. The past 6 months our aging home has protested some of its aging elements. The oil tank decided it had had enough and leaked oil as it brought in water. The water tank also decided enough was enough and just leaked. The old furnace we had replaced two years ago had left years of residue along the walls of the house and a fine layer of black dust over everything. The chimney leak finally was resolved so we were able to look to the other things in need. So a home, like a heart, demands care and attention.

After much planning (and after upgrading the aforementioned tanks) our summer staycation took the form of the interior house finally getting painted. We chose a bright, clean white color to offset all of those picture frames, masks and other mementos we have collected over the years that have sat on our walls and collected that same fine dark dust. Over two days we slowly removed all of those items, each one a memory we mused over and had a toast to and there were some things we couldn’t ever remember acquiring. With everything off the walls and furniture moved out of the way, our small abode looked quite a bit larger. It was time for the painter to do his magic.

There is no doubt that painting an entire house is a job best left to the professionals. Although our cat protested to being locked in a bedroom with food and litter, he was no doubt relieved not to be in the way of a man with a ladder, paint brushes and a definite mission. The project took more than a week during which time we marveled daily how incredible the house looked as each wall emerged from its formerly dingy and dark demeanor. Finally the last of the plastic coverings and paint cans were removed and it was our turn to put the house back together again.

homestead-149897_1280The one thing about doing any upgrade in your house is the unexpected things that get uncovered along the way. The dust and dirt under the rugs that had been rolled up and put out of the way had harbored the equivalent of an entire child’s sandbox. They had to be put out to sit in the sun and shaken until the accumulated dirt fell away. Wood floor cleaning was the next order of business as was hand cleaning all of the glass on the picture frames which had their own layers of black soot. It was the perfect opportunity to store some of those items that had sat on every available surface away and minimize the number of things hung on the wall so that we could enjoy our beautifully fresh new walls.

But as often happens, one change usually leads to another. My husband took the bathroom cabinet doors out to paint and the bathroom looks fresher now.  Closets and shoes were picked through and things discarded. The garage got a clean out. Even the windfall under the apple tree was cleared away. And now almost 3 weeks later we are significantly lighter and cleaner. The house feels as though it has taken a huge cleansing breath and let it go but of course it was really us.

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Photo by Dimitrisvetsikos1969 via Pixabay

Change and letting go are not easy things to encounter. As humans we feel more comfort in familiar things and it’s easier to stay the same then to make the change. But once we do make that shift we can feel it in our bodies and minds. This upgrade has definitely lifted our spirits and cleansed our souls. Coming into the house feels like a different space now although just a month ago it was the beloved albeit dingy home we gratefully ended our day in. But showing love to our environment means showing ourselves the love. It’s taken me a long time to accept that change is good but I have to be the one to initiate it. Our home most certainly agrees with me there.

 

Dads

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DSCN1081I live with a pretty great dad. He’s so great that sometimes I forget that not all dads are like this. Even though we now have an empty nest, this dad stays in touch daily with his children. He shares jokes and stories and texts to show he is thinking about them and to let them know he is there whenever they need him. Like me, he has had to learn diplomacy when often what we really want to do is rush into a situation they are dealing with and take over, not because we don’t think they can handle it but because that is what we do as parents.  Dads, like Moms, know that parenting never stops.

Dads sometimes get a bad rap. Often when we hear the word “dad” it is joined with negative words like “deadbeat” or “authoritarian”. But just like motherhood, fatherhood does not come with a training manual. My own husband grew up where only women tended to babies and children so changing a diaper was uncharted territory as was bottle feeding a baby. But he was willing to jump in and do it if it meant more time spent with his children. I recall joining the first baby sitting co-op I was in and sitting around with other mothers who commented on how devoted my husband was with our children. I jokingly asked “aren’t all new dads, this is the 90’s after all!” My comment was met with incredulous silence as they looked at each other and then one of them said “no, it’s not”.

That’s the moment I realized how lucky my children were. They not only had a dad who was a good provider they had a dad who would prefer to spend all of his spare time with them. We took our children everywhere with us because we were a family but also because we lived far from our extended family and we didn’t trust our babies with anyone else but ourselves (no offense to the amazing women in my babysitting co-ops!) What that did was expose my children to a myriad of life situations like music festivals, sporting events, camping and road trips exploring art and nature. And lots of time with their hard working dad.sunset-934865_1280

I have been fortunate to grow up around some pretty great dads although I lost my own when I was 17. I was given a gift however. I had always felt as a child that  I could not please my dad or make him proud of me for who I was. But the summer I was 16 found the two of us home alone together for two weeks as my older siblings left for school and jobs and my younger siblings traveled with my mom. Suddenly we had common ground and things to talk about. I confided in him about teenage joys and concerns for the first time and he listened. Little did we know that was to be his last summer. He was a good provider to his family so we always had food and a nice home and clothes. But this was a different thing. This was his time and his attention. After his death I could not have been more grateful to have had those two weeks to myself.

I then had the great fortune to have another man step in to be a father figure. A beloved uncle with whom I was blessed to spend more years with and who always had time for me and my siblings and then for our husbands, wives and children. He was the consummate dad, full of life and wicked humor and love, love, love. It was because of his example that I learned what qualities would make a good husband and a great father. We lost him last year in his very august elder years but were lucky to have a had a strong father figure in our adult years. Not only my children but my nieces and nephews have some pretty great dads as do my cousins children and my friends as well.

silhouette-1082129_1280But now I look at my children’s dad as we grow older. Our hair is getting grey and we have aches and pains that were not there 10 or even 5 years ago. Our children are adults now and parenting becomes an ever evolving thing.  There are times we want them to listen to what we say even as we realize they may or may not. We worry over them. This great dad still jumps into action whenever he is needed; at our son’s wedding he was full of pride and joy and was on hand for whatever task needed to be addressed; when our daughter moved to her new place, he was the first to schedule the U-Haul. He showed up with his tools and ideas to help her furnish her own little nest.  He will always be a pretty great dad not matter what age they are. And for that I am grateful.