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The Sky is [Not] Falling

There is a phrase that moms pass around when talking to new moms that goes something like “the days are long but the years are short.” Other moms hear this and nod their heads in agreement. We know this. I know this.

And yet, here I am in the middle of it, living the long days, and I forget the phrase that I know so well.

 

These were my kids almost four years ago. Four years. My twins were two weeks old. Every memory of them, every single memory of them (except for their first two weeks spent in the hospital) has happened between now and when that picture was taken. All of those memories with them and it has only been four short years.

I can’t help but think of the many different phases we’ve been through as a family. The ‘three kids in diapers’ stage. The ‘one walker, one crawler and one sitter’ stage. The ‘there is no way I’m taking all three of them to the grocery store again’ stage. As hard as each of those stages were, they were just that: stages. They came and they went. The exit of one stage made room for another stage. The ‘three kids sleeping through the night’ stage. The ‘buckle themselves into their car seat’ stage. The ‘shoes and coats on by themselves’ stage.

My weakness in parenting is forgetting about the stages. I constantly forget that one hard day or even a series of hard days will not last forever. My son with not always yell “Hey old lady!” to the women over 60 that pass us. My daughter and I will eventually find a happy medium that allows me to brush her hair without her screaming bloody murder.

Last month I wrote about my son and his favoritism toward my husband. It was something that I had struggled with for a while. And yet, almost immediately after I wrote the post, my son’s attitude toward me seemed to soften. [I think it's obvious what this means; my three-year old is secretly reading my blog while I'm not looking.]

I cannot stress how important it is for me to remember that parenting is a timeline of stages. When I find myself in a rough stage, it is important to remember that it will pass. Likewise, when I’m in a stage when things seem to be running smoothly, it is vital to cherish each moment for it, too, will pass.

So take heart, mothers of the world, the sky is not falling. These hard times you’re experiencing are merely some rain showers that will pass. The weather will eventually turn. I can’t promise that it won’t rain harder, because some days it will. But make sure to keep that chin up. Because eventually the rain will stop. And after the rain comes the rainbow.

And you won’t want to miss that.

Why I Don’t Want To Be Friends With My Yoga Instructor

I recently began taking yoga classes. This is long overdue since I’ve been a proud wearer of yoga pants for more than a year now. But believe it or not until three weeks ago, I had never actually participated in a yoga class. I like to wait until trends are good and established before participating in them. Which is why you won’t see me in a Zumba class until at least 2017.

My first yoga class was the Wednesday before Christmas. The stress of the holiday season was at its peak. I had two more very busy days of work before a week of vacation. I had presents waiting to be wrapped. Groceries to be purchased. Laundry to be done and a house to clean.

And then the class started and my yoga instructor began to do her thing.

Sixty minutes later, I walked out of that room completely relaxed and refreshed and ready to conquer my holiday to-do list. Later that day, my kids’ argument over who got to sit where at the table was no match for my relaxed state. After just one class, I was hooked.

Most classes run late. She’s not the type to keep to a tight schedule. Probably because it’s more important to listen to what our bodies are telling us than to watching the clock on the wall. or something like that. You can leave early if you need to, but you’ll miss the relaxation part or, as I like to call it, mini-nap time.

I attend class with a friend and the two of us enjoy fantasizing about our yoga instructor’s life outside of class. Is she always that calm and relaxed in her real life? Does she have kids? How does she react when her kids misbehave? What if she’s actually this completely stressed out person and teaching yoga is just “another thing” on her plate?

That’s when I decided we could never be friends: my yoga instructor and I. It would never work. I don’t want to know about the days when she’s overwhelmed. I don’t want to hear about her bad day. I want to live in a world where I believe that she lives her entire life the way she lives it in yoga class. I want to imagine her always like that.

Presents of Joy – My Reflections on the Sandy Hook Shooting

Friday morning I took the morning off to wrap presents for Christmas. I had just finished wrapping for the morning when I heard the news about Sandy Hook Elementary. So maybe it was due to my morning activity or maybe it was my mind shielding me from considering the real weight of this tragedy but I kept thinking about the presents that will go unopened this Christmas. The presents that will sit under the tree and remain untouched throughout the day. It sounds so superficial I know, but my mind kept coming back to those presents.

This year, my three-year old son is getting a new bike for Christmas. His current bike is a hand-me-down from his older brother. He has ridden it faithfully since last summer and never complains but the truth is he’s too big for it. I can’t wait to see him on Christmas morning when he sees his brand new big bike. There is a little pouch in the front, perfect for collecting odds and ends that he’ll discover along his travels. Best of all, it will be new and it will be his. I can already imagine the joy it will bring in the months to come as he transitions out of training wheels and begs to ride farther and farther down the street.

As parents, we anticipate these moments of joy in our children. They are not limited to birthdays and Christmas and gift-giving. We hold these presents in our hearts and cannot wait for when our child will unwrap these moments of joy. They are the moments in parenting when we understand that all the nagging and whining and fighting is worth it. Those moments seem so insignificant and far away when our children are unwrapping these presents of joy: reading his first book, scoring the winning goal, showing off her prize-winning art project, opening the college acceptance letter he was waiting to receive. We then imagine them as adults unwrapping more adult-like presents: getting their first job, getting married and having kids of their own. Each moment of joy is like a present being unwrapped in our hearts.

Last week our family went to a winter carnival. At one point the five of us found ourselves riding a ferris wheel together. My husband and I sat on one side, the three kids were on the other. We got to the top of the ride and the kids were so excited. Pure joy is the only way to describe it. I will never forget my husband’s words,

“Remember this. Remember this moment. Look how happy they are.”

They had just unwrapped a moment of joy. It was kind of unplanned, the carnival was an afterthought to another activity we had just concluded. I hadn’t anticipated this little present that they would unwrap. But here we were, experiencing a moment of joy and it was wonderful. I quickly snapped a picture so that the memory of their faces would never fade in my head.

When I heard the news about Sandy Hook Elementary, I kept thinking about the parents of those students and the presents of joy they will never see their kids unwrap. My soul aches as I think of the many presents of joy belonging to those children that will remain unopened. Trophies that will never be won, trips that will never be taken, memories that will never be made. The bright futures that were lost in that tragedy. I cannot imagine that loss as a parent. My prayers are with the victims’ families, the surviving children at the school and the entire community. I’m sure the weeks and months to come will be unimaginable. No one should have to go through what those parents and kids have had to go through Friday.

Hug your children every day. Thank God for them every day. Tell them you love them every day. Every day.

And one last word of advice about those presents of joy. Don’t store all of them up waiting for the perfect moment. Give joy and give it freely.

The post I didn’t want to write.

I didn’t want to write this post. For weeks, I told myself that I didn’t need to write it. But I’ve been blogging for over a year now and what I’ve found is when I blog about something, I can make sense of things and find the silver-lining in a situation. So it’s time. It’s time to write about something I haven’t wanted to write about for quite sometime. I’m going to warn you, it’s not about committing to a hairdresser or catching worms. Today’s post has a bit of a different tone. I hope that you’ll hang on until the end. The purpose of this post is not to bum you out. It’s not to throw a pity party for Susan. It’s a way for me to sort my thoughts and heal.

My son loves my husband more than he loves me. I know this because he lacks the developmental skills to know that he’s not supposed to have a favorite parent. Instead he tells me that he loves Daddy more than me on a regular basis. I realize that he’s three and three year-olds say things they don’t mean all the time. Except that they are also brutally honest. They don’t sugar-coat things to spare someone’s feelings. That’s why I try to be strong when I enter my son’s room to read him his bedtime story and he exclaims “No, I want Daddy to read to me.”

In some ways his words are the easiest expressions to deal with. Of course he’s going to say he likes my husband better than me. My husband is the fun parent. He has all the patience. He sneaks them candy when I’m not looking. I’d like him better than me too.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s one thing to say he loves his dad more, but deep down he doesn’t mean it. There are other ways to express love. He loves him more in those ways too. When my son falls and skins his knees, it’s my husband’s kiss that will make it all better. When he wakes in the middle of the night with a bad dream, he cries out for his daddy. When he had his tonsils out, awoke from anesthesia, was groggy and needed a parent to hold him for two hours before he could be released, it was my husband who got to hold and comfort him in the comfy chair. Meanwhile, I sat in the uncomfortable chair usually reserved for dads and watched as child after child came out of surgery crying for his mom. How does it feel to be the second place parent? Sit in the cold, hard “dad chair” for two hours and you’ve got a pretty good idea what I go through on a daily basis.

It’s not that he doesn’t like me. It’s not that he doesn’t hug me. It’s just that I’m not his preference. And being the open and honest kid that he is, he’s very upfront about this. If you’ve ever spent time with a three year old, you know that they are particular. Good luck trying to get one to eat a graham cracker that has the tiniest broken corner. My son is the same way when it comes to my zipping his coat. When he’s in one of his “my way or no way” moods, daddy is the only approved helper.

Quite possibly the only thing worse than being turned down for my husband when he’s around is being turned down for my husband when he’s NOT around. There are nights when my son will sit in his bed crying for his dad and there is no act of comfort I can give him that will calm him down. A hug from me will not do. A kiss from me will not do. No cuddles. No tickles. I am simply not his dad.

Second place sucks.

It shouldn’t suck. I should be happy for my husband. I should be happy that a little boy can love his dad so much. Many children aren’t close with their dads, how fortunate that my son has such a close bond with his. How lucky am I that I have such an amazing husband that built such a bond with my son. I could got on. There are many reasons why I should be happy about this situation.

But the truth is, it sucks.

It sucks because when my son falls off his bike and starts to cry I want to hug him. I want to hold him in my arms and tell him he’ll be okay. I don’t want him to scream and say “Don’t touch me, I want Daddy!” It sucks because when I plan a fun outing with just my son and me I want him to be excited and jump for joy instead of saying “No, I want to do that with Daddy!”

It sucks.

It sucks because I’ve convinced myself that I’m the only mother who has ever had this happen to her. I question where I went wrong in my parenting. I wonder if I held his twin sister too much and him not enough. Did something go wrong during his “imprinting” stage? We should have been more intentional about switching babies. Did we play favorites and now they have favorites?

It sucks.

I’m learning to look for opportunities to sieze the good moments. For a lifetime planner, this is a challenge for me. Because the opportunities come without warning and often without any pattern. On Wednesday, he wanted to hold my hand while walking to pick up my older son from school. Last week, he asked if I wanted to play with him in the basement. On Saturday, he asked if the two of us could decorate the Christmas tree together.

Each day I continue to hope for progress. I’ve learned to not take a single act of kindness for granted. I celebrate each hug, each kiss and each bedtime story. I know these moments aren’t forced. I know they are real and honest. I cherish them all and hold them all in my heart.

The Great Dress Making Project

When I was in 7th or 8th grade my mom helped me sew a dress from scratch. We went to the fabric store, picked out a pattern, found some fabric and began the process of sewing a dress.

As a teen, my mom had been in 4-H and regularly sewed her own clothes not only for 4-H competitions but to wear to school as well. I’ve seen the newspaper clippings of her wearing her prizing winning fashions–the outfits were pretty good.

When I was a little girl, my mom bought the patterns for American Girl dolls and sewed me multiple outfits for my two dolls. My dolls were very well dressed and never lacked something to wear.

So I think my mom’s challenge to me in middle school to sew my own dress was her way of passing on her love of sewing to her only daughter. Only I really had no interest in learning how to sew.  I especially didn’t want to have to wear a dress I had sewn myself. While I’m sure my mother was hoping it would foster a sense of pride and satisfaction in my work, I worried my friends would think I made my own dress because we were poor.

But, I gave her the benefit of the doubt and set aside time each weekend to work on the dress. There was some big event on the calendar that served as our deadline to finish the dress. The plan was to wear the dress to that event. Each weekend we worked a little bit more on the dress. My mom taught me different sewing tricks about how to finish a seam and work with a pattern.

When it was all said and done, I had a pretty cute jumper dress. I don’t really remember what my attitude was during this time, but I can take a guess. I was a young adolescent girl participating in mandated mother daughter bonding time. I’m sure I wasn’t always a complete pain, but I’m pretty confident I didn’t enter into each sewing lesson with the same excitement I expressed when hanging out with my friends. I’m sure I gave my mom some attitude more than once during this project.

It kind of sucks to grow up and become a mother only to look back on all the crummy things you did to your own mother doesn’t it? I’m sure she imagined this project differently in her head. She might have even hoped I would have asked to sew another dress with her once we finished the first dress. But I never did. In fact, after finishing that dress, I only used the sewing machine a handful of other times. Any hopes of passing along her love of sewing ended with we finished the final seam on my dress.

But the other day, while sewing a button on some pants, my kids found some scrap fabric and asked me to sew them something. After some thought, I realized I had enough fabric to sew each of them a pouch. Using some hand stitching tricks that I’m sure my mom taught me during the great dress making project, I made three little pouches. These were even less fancy than my jumper dress, but in the eyes of two three year-olds and a five year-old I was a sewing genius.

To this day, when I find myself mending a hole or replacing a button, I’m thankful for the ease with which I am able to grab my sewing kit to repair the problem.

I have my mom to thank for that.

Happy Birthday Mom.

Listening to Christmas Music Before Thanksgiving

I started listening to Christmas music on Friday. I look forward to this time of year for months. I’ll admit, I started a little early this year. Usually I wait until Thanksgiving, but I just couldn’t wait this year. So I started early. Our local radio station started playing Christmas music on Friday and I figured, if they can do it, then so can I.

I know what you are thinking: it’s too early. I disagree. Most people will only tolerate it during the month of December. For four short weeks these songs that artists spend so much time on get played. That’s not long enough for me. There are too many good songs. I want more than just four weeks.

I’ll admit sometimes around December 18 I grow weary of hearing yet another version of Do You Hear What I Hear?. But when I find myself getting sick of Christmas songs on December 18, do you know what I have also done? I have taken in Christmas. Since becoming an adult, I’ve suffered from Life Goes Too Fast syndrome. Symptoms of Life Goes Too Fast syndrome usually display in the form of phrases such as “how is it already the middle of November?” and “I can’t believe he’s already 3!” I also discovered that when suffering from Life Goes Too Fast syndrome, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas becomes roughly 2.5 days. Which is why I start my Christmas music early. It makes the weeks between the two holidays seem longer.

I’ve always been a fan of Christmas music. I began listening with dedication in college. My school schedule was such that I sometimes had exams until December 22 which meant that I came home on December 23. While I was away at school, I missed the Christmas atmosphere I grew up with at home. I missed the tradition of decorating a Christmas tree. I missed coming home from school, plugging in the Christmas tree lights and doing homework by the tree. Listening to Christmas music was my connection to home. My freshman year I made a mix CD called Kickin’ It Christmas and it was quite possibly the best Christmas mix CD ever made. I burned copies for pretty much every peson I knew. It was that awesome. I listened to it roughly a million times.

A few years, and a few moves, after graduation I couldn’t find my Kickin’ It Christmas CD. Luckily my former roommate who saves everything, still had a copy, burned me one and mailed it to me. Imagine my surprise, and slight embarrassment, when I listened to it only to discover that Kickin’ It Christmas was comprised mostly of N’Sync and 98 Degrees’ renditions of Christmas Carols. With the exception of Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas and The Dave Matthew’s Band’s The Christmas Song I could not even bear to listen to the CD anymore.

Each year my tastes change slightly. Some years I favor the classics. Other years I seek out the newest versions of the Christmas songs. There are favorites from childhood that will always warm my heart and there are new ones that are added to the list each year.

I love Christmas. I love the joy that it brings. I love the hope it represents. When my schedule gets packed with extra work and social commitments, listening to Christmas music is my way of remembering that this time of year is not about a bunch of presents. It helps me slow down and focus.

Unless, of course, it’s off a CD called Kickin’ It Christmas.  Stay away from that one. Trust me.

Throwback Thursday: Rose Colored Glasses

The time has come. This is the final Throwback Thursday. I’m not sure what prompted me to end my blog at this point but for whatever reason this was my final post. Whether I did it on purpose or not, I think this is a great final post. Considering all the ups and downs I went through during that semester, this reminds me that I made it through everything with a smile at the end.

[Comments by 2012 Susan]

November 20, 2002 4:27 PM

Recently I have been told that I see the world in rose-colored glasses. I don’t entirely dispute this fact, but I think because I do not know any different, it doesn’t seem to me that I see the world any differently than anyone else.

But then I began to think about situations and the different ways people can perceive them. For instance, a lot of good things tend to happen to me. Case in point, last week I found two tickets on the ground to the sold out Counting Crows concert at Cornell [this still remains my best lesson on why you should also pick up trash that you see littered on the ground]. That’s a pretty big thing, but I also tend to get good parking spaces and luck out in other situations. But I don’t luck out anymore than anybody else. I think I just notice it more.

I think that I get my fair share of misfortunes as well. I am not saying horrible things, but two weeks ago my computer crashed and I lost 4 pages of the outline for my paper [this happened to me more than you can believe, even in a world of auto save. Amazing right?]. Or there was also the time I lost my favorite cross necklace then, a week later, I lost my favorite ring. That’s not lucky at all. Maybe I just take things better.

Maybe I do see the world differently. When I was walking home from class today I was thinking about how wonderful it was that we had such a nice day of weather. Wouldn’t everyone notice a beautiful day of sunshine? Does that make me simple? Maybe. But it’s not because I am not intelligent. [Okay wow. We just took a big leap there, didn't we? I'm guessing there is more to this story. Seems a little defensive to feel the need to defend commenting on a beautiful fall day, not quite sure what was going on here.] I may point out a lot of stupid things about life, but it’s not because there is a lack of other thoughts roaming around in my head. I just tend to focus on the good. Sometimes the good things in life are no more than a warm day in the middle of the November. It may not be the best news ever, but it’s still a good thing about the day.

So sure, hand me those rose-colored glasses, I will wear them any day if it means that I will be able to enjoy the day better than someone who can’t see the silver lining in the clouds.

Please Pray For Rose

Sometimes when you start dating someone, you start dating his friends. The people that matter to him begin to matter to you. If they don’t, you start to have real problems. When I met Rob and Rose, they were my husband’s “married friends”. While most of my husband’s other friends were still searching for Mrs. Right, Rose was the consistant female at social functions. She was like the head girlfriend (except technically she was a wife). She helped fill in the back story on how everyone met and how long who has been dating who. From the very begining she was a mentor to me. Teaching me the ways of my husband’s friend group.

A year later, after I got engaged, it was Rose that answered my questions about wedding planning and married life. I was the first among my friends to get married so I looked mainly to her for guidance. It was Rose who applied my makeup on my wedding day and Rose who prepared a plate of food for me so I wouldn’t starve at my reception.

Rose was my first close friend to have a baby. Just a few weeks after our wedding she became my first friend that was a mom. A few years later when I was living only a few blocks away and pregnant with my first baby it was Rose who I watched for tips on how to be a mom. After my son was born, Rose and I would meet at Chick-Fil-A for lunch and swap stories about being a mom of one.

A year after my oldest was born, Rose had a second child and the following year I had my twins. We now had five kids between the two of us. Chick-Fil-A lunches weren’t so easy anymore. I still remember the day Rose came to visit me after the twins were both home from the hospital. We were downstairs looking at all the kids and discussing how crazy it was and she told me just how crazy it was about to get. She was pregnant with twins.

In the span of four years, the two of us had seven children. We had twins 9 months apart.

We don’t live a mile apart anymore. We hardly every see one another. Our lives are such that finding time to hang out means finding a needle in a haystack. But perhaps more than any other person in the world, I know she understands. On my hardest day, I remind myself that Rose has one more kid in the mix.

I’m thankful for Rose in my life for so many reasons. She’s helped me be a better girlfriend, a better wife and a better mom.

Today Rose is having brain surgery. Rose has a brain tumor. The prognosis is good as the doctors are pretty confident the tumor is benign. But it is brain surgery nonetheless. Rose will be recovering in the hospital for several days and then at home for several weeks. As anyone with small children can tell you, this will be difficult for the entire family.

If you are reading this today, please take a moment to pause and pray for Rose while she’s in surgery. Pray for the doctors that are operating on her and pray for her family members that are anxiously awaiting the surgery results. In the upcoming weeks, please remember to keep Rose’s family and Rose in her recovery in your prayers.

You can follow Rose’s story at www.insideroseshead.com

Throwback Thursday: Life is the Small Moments

I don’t want to freak anyone out, but we are down to the last two Throwback Thursdays. This actually works out perfectly because the Thursday after next is Thanksgiving which is a perfect stopping point. Who wants to mix a delicious Turkey dinner with young twenties angst? Most of you will be visiting family and will have plenty of drama to fill your day, you don’t need to read about mine from ten years ago. I’m pleased to inform you that today’s post has no mention of my ex-boyfriend. In fact, it doesn’t mention any guys. For my loyal Throwback readers, this is going to be rather hard to believe. I will point out that this entry is an entire week after the last post so it does seem that I have started to see the bigger picture in life. I enjoyed re-reading this post because I have very little memory of this night which, after reading it, is somewhat ironic. Without this post, it might have been lost from my memory forever, but because I wrote about it, I have it. I’m thankful for that.

November 15, 2002  12:20 AM

[Comments by 2012 Susan]

I think that life is made up of a bunch of small moments. Nothing really big ever happens, or if it does, it is rare. But what does happen is years go by, you look back and remember a bunch of different memories. Think of high school. You don’t think of senior year all at once. You remember homecoming, senior skip day, and graduation parties. They are a bunch of little memories put together. That’s what life is. There are a lot of things that happen that we file away and never think about again. But they are just as important as other things that happened to us.

Okay Susan, where are you going with this one? [Not, an error there, that's actually 2002 Susan asking that question.] Last Sunday I was sitting at The Nines [a bar] listening to one of my best friends singing at an open mic night. It was a spur of the moment kind of thing and we decided to go just 30 minutes before we left. I was sitting there listening to her, at a table with the other three girls I am going to live with next year, and it struck me that I never wanted to forget this moment [I think we can agree it's a good thing I wrote this post, wasn't it?]. It was nothing special, well my friend was amazing, but it wasn’t some huge concert with her playing in front of thousands. It was just her singing to a bunch of people chillin’ [not a typo, I actually wrote chillin'] in a bar on a Sunday night. I was kind of jealous of her in that moment. She was doing something she loved and she was sharing it was other people. I don’t know if she will remember that specific night in 20 years. Maybe one day one of her kids will ask her if she ever sang on stage and she might reply “Oh, a couple of times in college, it was no big deal.” But it was a big deal. It was life. It was four girls taking a break from homework to see someone they cared about perform. The fact that I could share that moment with my four future housemates was really great.

People go their whole life waiting for something big to happen. Meanwhile, they overlook all the little things that are going on around them that make up life. There is a quote that says “life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” Too often we go our whole life waiting for things to get good. When really, if we were to just sit back and enjoy what was going on around us, we would find that living life is not about jumping from a plane or making lots of money. Life is sitting with your friends watching your favorite TV show; life is making hot chocolate on a cold day; life is watching your friend sing the best version of a Jewel song you have ever heard. That’s life.

Happy Birthday Dad

A word of advice to those considering starting a blog: plan ahead. For example, if you decide to write a thoughtful post to honor your father for his birthday, realize that a year later when your father’s birthday comes around again, you are going to want to write another thoughtful post to honor him. And that year you might feel added pressure to make the second birthday post even more special because that year happens to be a significant milestone, as birthdays go. And while your thoughts and memories are not limited to only one blog-worthy moment, you might realize that the topic you chose to write about the previous year would have been much more appropriate the following year. And so, I am admitting defeat. My father is a wonderful man. Our relationship is full of many wonderful memories, however, I’m going to reshare my post from last year, as I feel it’s very timely this year.

Happy Birthday Dad.

[Reposting from November 4, 2011]

There are some conversations with my parents that I will always remember because the content of the conversation was so memorable. The day they told me they were getting a separation. The morning my mom asked if I wanted to go buy a new car. The day they told me I couldn’t go to Japan like I had planned. The phone call when I told them I was engaged. The two times I told them I was pregnant. The conversation I had with each of them during my second pregnancy when I found out I was having twins.

Those conversations are memorable because the content was so important.

There are other conversations that seemed so common at the time, but years later when I look back on them, I realize how significant they really were. Specifically, I remember a conversation I had with my father.

It was the fall of 2000. I guess you could say it was my first adult conversation I had with my dad. I had just returned from college for the first time. I had left for college as a 17-year-old and celebrated my 18th birthday in the first few weeks of school. I was now home for my fall break. It was an election year, one that held significance to me because it was the first time I would be able to vote.

I grew up in an area where people didn’t really talk about their political beliefs too much. Or maybe they did but I was just a kid and didn’t care so I didn’t listen. Many people held jobs where you couldn’t publically take sides politically. That being said, I assumed everyone was Republican. My father had worked for a Republican U.S. Senator for several years of my childhood and I just assumed that was the right party (excuse the pun). I specifically remember finding out one of my friend’s parents was a Democrat. You might as well have told me she was a Communists. I was devastated.

So you can image my shock when I attended a liberal arts school in upstate New York. Saying you were a Republican was like saying you supported the Nazis. I went from thinking I knew a lot about politics to being very quiet on the matter. I was hearing things about the ‘Grand Old Party’ that I had never heard before. The picture they painted of Republicans didn’t quite match the fond memories I had with the former coworkers of my dad at the annual summer picnic.

But back to the conversation.

I arrived at my dad’s house in the evening. My father and I started talking about what life at college was like. I had been elected to Student Government so I filled him in on the different requests we got each week at our meetings. Different student groups arguing about different campus policies and staging protests and sit-ins. I often felt that some of these students would have been better suited growing up in the 1960′s. This was a year before 9/11. It’s funny how things that seemed to matter so much before that day seem so insignificant now.

Somehow the conversation turned to politics and I remember asking him to help me see his side of things. This was the most important man in my life at the time and I needed to know how he could sleep at night knowing he was a card-carrying Republican. So he began to explain his views. I told him things I had heard at school and he told me why he disagreed. I asked him about specific issues and he gave his thoughts. Only he wasn’t talking to me like a child. He was talking to me as an adult. I was an adult talking politics with my dad.

Eventually the conversation changed to how I was enjoying my classes. To be honest I don’t really remember what else we talked about.

But I will always remember sitting in the living room that night talking for hours with my dad. For so many years, our conversations had been about curfews, chores, allowances and school. And now here we were, talking politics in the living room like a couple of adults.

I still have to ask my dad to help me see the Republican side of things. He helps me see that life is not always black and white. It’s not that the Democrats are always right and Republicans are always wrong like I was taught by my college classmates. Sometimes both parties are wrong. Sometimes neither one has a perfect solution.  There has to be some give and take and compromise on both sides. I credit my father for helping me see that.

Happy birthday Dad.