Husband And I Had Trust Issues This Week

Husband And I Had Trust Issues This Week

Picture this, if you can.

My husband and I had trust issues this week.

Did I doubt he would provide for our family?

Pull us out of a burning building, if need be?

Step between me and a hungry saber-tooth tiger?

Nah, he’d have that covered.

This, though, was big.

Months ago, I accepted a rare work gig that was going to take me out of town for 5 days.

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I figured Husband and our girls could, would do fine. That is, until I looked at the calendar again and realized, gulp, this work trip meant I was going to miss the first day of school.

Keep in mind, our girls are big-starting 10th and 11th grades. They are capable of getting themselves ready.

But first day of school means that ever important first day of school photo!

One might accuse me of being a bit over-invested in this. As if, without that photo, the rest of the school year won’t count.

Trust me, only I know how to capture that moment in time, please grandparents, share on social media.

Dear Reader, how do you turn over to your spouse the very important thing you are usually responsible for?

It’s not like this crew hadn’t given me reason to worry.

The girls are not exactly willing participants, squirming fake smiles, complaining when I insist on single shots, two-shots, full body shots. “The more shots give me more choices to get the best picture,” I explain.

Then there’s Husband, who has a tendency to run, what’s the word, oh yes, late.

The night before, I spent most of our phone call coaching Husband with tips on how to manage time, where to place the girls for the best lighting, how to coax them to cooperate.

“Got it covered,” he said without great enthusiasm.

And so, I mentally prepared myself for the blank space to go in the scrapbook for “First Day of School 2015.”

Fast forward to the next morning. There I was interviewing some CEO mucky mucks in Las Vegas when my phone chimed.

The photos!

Husband came through, after all.

As I went to look, I didn’t even care if the quality wasn’t perfect.

The thing is—

These photos were great.

Excellent.

Maybe, perhaps, even best ever.

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Husband sent a single shot, one above-the-shoulder shot. And one of the two girls together.

They are smiling, happy and relaxed.

“Gosh,” I remarked, to one of the girls that night. “The photos are really good. I didn’t see a single fake smile.”

“That’s because Dad didn’t drag out 13 cameras and make us take 400 photos,” she pointed out in an only slight teen exaggeration. “We only had time for three shots on his phone. We were running a little late, y’know.”

Picture this—

Wife cuing up Frank Sinatra.

Husband did it his way.

Now, to get booked out of town for the start of school next year.

It’s the only way to get the best first day photos.

Trust me.

Please catch more of my columns in The Atlanta Journal Constitution and The Dayton Daily News.

Mother’s Day Panic Button: I’m Messing Up Big Time; Help Me Fix It

Mother’s Day Panic Button: I’m Messing Up Big Time; Help Me Fix It

You know those warm, fuzzy gushy feeling columns you read around Mother’s Day?

I’ve written a few myself. (Like this and this.)

Yeah, this isn’t one of those.

Oh, it’s about motherhood, all right.

But this one is more like hitting the motherhood panic button.

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A button I hit the other day while, don’t get too excited, sewing on a real button.

A button that had fallen off one of my girls’ school uniforms.

That’s when I realized–

These children,

Scrap that,

These teenagers,

These young adults—

Don’t know how to sew on a button.

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Don’t even know how to thread a needle.

Holy Worthless Parenting, Batman! I’ve forgotten something so basic, so elementary, so important about motherhood.

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I’m supposed to be raising humans.

Humans, as in people who are one day, all too soon, supposed to be functioning adults in this world.

I’m not the only one, am I, Dear Reader?

The only one who has been so busy building self-esteem, creating moments, acting as chauffer ensuring these precious beings arrive safely at each social opportunity, each after-school activity?

So busy, I forgot basic life skills.

Talk about major fail.

And so I started scribbling out The List.

Can my girls sew a button?

Cook?

Figure out how to get from here to there?

I’ve started shoving my precious baby birds out of their comfort zone.

Last week, I dumped them in the middle of the grocery store.

“You guys are making spaghetti dinner tonight,” I announced. “You need to go buy all the supplies you need. Oh, and here’s your budget.”

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Momentary panic set into their teen brains, but they figured it out. Well, I think they did. Husband and I went out to dinner that night just to be safe.

Then, there is Daughter who is learning to drive.

“How are you going to get there?” I asked the other day as she got behind the wheel to get to her friend’s house.

“I, well, you go, then,” her eyes crossed and her brain scrambled as she actually didn’t know how to get to the block 10 minutes away where she used to live.

Turns out you don’t have to think about how you get somewhere when you sit in the passenger seat madly texting your friends while your mom does the driving and the thinking.

We got there, eventually, with a few bonus left turns.

Of course, there is this—

This column is written by a former kid, the one whose dad cut her pancakes right up to the time I went to college.

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I’m not sure what it was about a knife and fork, but I couldn’t seem to master it.

I was clearly no Einstein in the life skills department, myself. Yet, I somehow grew up to be a functioning, pancake-cutting adult.

This is my Mother’s Day gift I’d like from you—

Please add to The List.

What other basic, human life skills do my kids need to know?

Please help me raise functioning humans with your comments below.

Find more uplifting stories on my website, DarynKagan.com

Please catch my newspaper column each week in the Atlanta Journal Constitution,the Dayton Daily News and other newspapers across Ohio.

An Adoption Celebration: Motherhood Is Like A Cup of Tea

An Adoption Celebration: Motherhood Is Like A Cup of Tea

Get out the gloves and nice dresses.

My daughter and I are heading to High Tea at a fancy schmancy hotel here in town.

It’s what we do each year to celebrate the anniversary of our adoption.

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And I do mean OUR adoption, as she was 11 when we met, 13 when I married her dad. 14 when the judge made legal what was already long official in both our hearts.

When a kid is a certain age, she has to sign a paper saying she’s adopting me as much as I’m adopting her.

So we celebrate!

Going to tea is perfect because it’s a delicious treat and our special time.

Between you and me, Dear Reader, it also represents so much I’ve learned about motherhood.

Earl Grey, Ceylon, Darjeeling, Chamomille. There are so many teas to choose from just like there are so many ways to become a mother.  Do It Yourself, Surrogate, Adopt. I would’ve never believed it if you told me this would be my path. Now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. How boring if everyone only drank Lipton’s.

Certain teas, like life, can be bitter and hard to swallow. My daughter losing her first mom when she was 8 years old was tragic.  Then, along comes me, our chapter, like adding some milk and sugar to a bitter brew.  I never forget that my daughter’s childhood is a mix of two moms, the greatest of losses, a dash of hope of happiness.

You might’ve warned me that motherhood would be like a constant steady drip of caffeine, like an IV tube of tea. You just don’t sleep the same when you’re a mom. A cough, a stir and I’ll hear it.

High Tea, when done properly, is served in courses: tea, finger sandwiches, scones, followed by pastries.

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Life is like this, as well. With all due respect to  women who try to do it all at the same time—high powered career, marriage and motherhood, I know I don’t have it in me.

The career that once ruled all aspects of my life is now scaled back. I imagine I’ll ramp up again when Daughter is launched.

Just like I wouldn’t want to shove tea, sandwich, scone and pastry in my mouth at once, I’m liking this path of enjoying each bite in its time.

Tea reminds me to let my daughter find her own brew, her own recipe for her life. I sure didn’t have this life thing down when I was a teenager. I might offer some guidance, a recipe for success, but Daughter has to have space to figure it out for herself, even when that means brewing up some doozies of failures and mistakes.

The hardest part of this motherhood thing?  It’s not like a leisurely afternoon tea at all. It goes too fast. It’s more like zooming through a fast food restaurant.

We didn't plan to dress alike to go out to tea.  Just happened. Must be a mother-daughter thing. :)
We didn’t plan to dress alike to go out to tea. Just happened. Must be a mother-daughter thing. 🙂

I’m going to blink and it’ll be time to get the gloves and dresses out again.

Here’s to the sips of joy, tears, aggravation, and wisdom between now and then.

Find more uplifting stories on my website, DarynKagan.com

Please catch my newspaper column each week in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Dayton Daily News and other newspapers across Ohio.

So, I Broke Up With The ‘What If?’s’

So, I Broke Up With The ‘What If?’s’

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We had a crisis in our house this week.

As are most crises with teenagers—

This one was astronomical.

Huge.

Tragic.

It involved,

Get ready.

It’s big.

Our daughter losing her cell phone.

Yes, I know.

International relief funds have been started over tragedies smaller than this.

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“I think I left it behind at school,” she explained in a panic while using someone else’s phone. “I couldn’t go back and check or I’d miss the bus home.”

You can imagine how this crisis set the table for dinner conversation.

“Surely someone stole it,” she and my husband believed.

“Maybe a good person picked it up and is holding it for you for tomorrow,” I offered.

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Multiple eye rolls were my only payment for offering the possibility of well,

Hope.

As my daughter’s stress level continued to rise, I detected teachable moment.

The question is “What do you do with The Wait?

Dear Reader, what do you do with your Wait?

That time between now and seeing how something turns out.

Before you get the medical tests back?

Before you find out if you got the job?

Before you know if he will call for a second date?

“I’m going to believe in the good person theory,” I told my daughter.

“But, how do you know?” she doubted my optimism.

“I don’t,” I admitted. “But I also don’t know that your phone was stolen. Once you’ve done everything you can, the only thing you can control is how much time you spend looping the bad possibilities over and over again in your head.”

She shrugged her doubting shoulders.

Within the hour of dropping her off at the school bus the next day, I felt my cell phone buzzing in the pocket of my worn sweatpants.

I couldn’t help but smile at the caller ID.

My daughter’s name was flashing on the screen.

“I got my phone back!” she screamed. “You were right! One of the security guards locked it up for the night. That’s why no one answered when I tried to call it or use the tracking app!”

Score one for the good guys.

I can only hope Daughter took note.

Sure, I know the news won’t always be good at the end of an anticipated wait.

And I’ve certainly tortured myself enough times with dreadful “What If’s.”

You, too?

These days, the ‘What If’s’ and I are broken up.

I’m not some evolved spiritual being.

More like a little worn down, broken in.

The journalist in me likes to do an inventory of the facts I actually know.

It’s usually not much.

There’s usually more “What If’s” trying to bang around my head than actual facts.

So what if good guys won’t always win?

There’s plenty of time to deal with muck once I know an actual outcome.

Meanwhile, it sure is nicer to hang out with hope in my head.

That is how I wait.

How about you?

Better to leave me a comment here.

Y’know, just in case I lose my phone.

Find more uplifting stories on my website, DarynKagan.com

Please catch my newspaper column each week in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Dayton Daily News and other newspapers across Ohio.

I’m Parenting From Another Planet

I’m Parenting From Another Planet

Looks like I will be turning in my American passport.

I’ve been informed I’m not of this country.

Oh, it ratchets up from there.

Apparently, I’m not even of this planet.

The notice came via a look.

A look from my kids.

Perhaps, Dear Reader, you’ve gotten “The Look,” as well?

It comes about the time you mention celebrities or movies that were part of the fabric of your youth.

“This guy reminds me of Elton John,” I remarked the other day about a song that came on the radio.

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“Ella What?”

“You’ve never heard of Elton John?” I asked unbelievingly.

“Nope.” My kid didn’t even feign interest, not a blip of “Tell me more, Mom.”

“Who’s in the movie?” the other kid asked the other day when I took notice of a new trailer.

“Kevin Costner.”

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Blank look.

Hottie Kevin Costner! He of “Dances With Wolves,”

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“The Bodyguard”

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“Field of Dreams.”

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Kevin Costner might be building it, but kids today aren’t coming.

Not only do my kids have no clue about the media of my youth, they have no interest in how I consumed it.

“Y’know everything hasn’t always been On Demand,” I explained going to the dark place and time of when you actually had to wait for something you wanted to see.

It’s called, wait, big vocabulary word coming, “Anticipation.” (Cue Carly Simon, just don’t bother explaining who she is.)

“If you wanted to watch cartoons you had to get up on Saturday morning.”

“What’s the big deal?” the kids asked. “We can do that.”

“You can watch Saturday, Tuesday at lunch, Thursday night,” I clarified. “Saturday morning was it for us.  Sleep in and Scooby Doo became Scooby Don’t.”

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They put their hands over their ears. “Please stop,” they almost begged. The imagery was scarier than watching “The Exorcist” or “Jaws.”

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My attempts at explaining how a mechanical shark kept me from even going in a swimming pool for an entire summer didn’t translate.

The sad thing is I recognized “The Look” because it’s the same one I gave my parents when they shared the stories of getting their family’s first television set.  Or the first time they saw color TV.

That’s why there’s no need to get too frustrated with my “It’s all about now” kids.

I know their day is coming. (Insert revengeful snicker.)

I look at a photo of my daughter. It’s just an everyday photo, her arms draped around two of her friends.

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But there clutched in her left hand is her cell phone, as it is usually clutched. It’s possible it’s super glued even.

I fast-forward about 30 years from now. Her kids will be laughing at her.

“Ewww! Look at that. What is that in your hand?”

“It was called a ‘cell phone,’” she’ll have to explain. “We used it to watch our favorite shows and text our friends.”

Her kids won’t hear a word. They’ll be too busy giving her “The Look” to launch her to another planet.

Find more uplifting stories on my website, DarynKagan.com

Please catch my newspaper column each week in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Dayton Daily News and other newspapers across Ohio.

My Terrible Singing Makes For One Lonely Couch

My Terrible Singing Makes For One Lonely Couch

Talk about a potential movie moment gone bust!

The “Woe is me” moment brought on, by all things, by the recent “Sound of Music” Sing-A-Long on TV.

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Did you happen to catch it, Dear Reader?

Did you sing along?

As Julie Andrews sings, “Let’s start at the very beginning….”

Of coming across the movie on TV, of looking to my family and saying, “Yes, Family let’s sing!”

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Here’s the thing—I didn’t get as far as a “deer, a female deer,” before my family turned this moment into “So long, farewell, Auf Weidersehen, goodbye!”.

Husband declared old, cheesy musicals were not one of his “Favorite Things.”

The kids actually suddenly felt inspired to go clean their rooms.

I really shouldn’t have been surprised.

My singing is not Something Good.

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No, really.

I’m not being humble.

It’s bad.

I’m bad.

It’s certainly not for lack of enthusiasm.

Perhaps, it’s possible you can relate, Dear Reader? Do you have something you love to do, even though you know you have zero talent?

I love to belt out my Do Re Mi’s with the best of them.

It’s just my brain thinks C sharp. And B flat comes squeaking out.

This is not a new challenge for me.

The first clue came when I tried out for choir in sixth grade.

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After what I thought was a fine rendition of James Taylor’s, “You’ve Got A Friend,” Mrs. Wyatt, the music teacher, looked at me with a stern suggestion, “Have you thought about joining the school newspaper for an elective instead?”

True story–that’s how my journalism career was born.

Just as Mother Superior tells Maria, “One door closes and a window opens.”

Back to the movie and climbing every mountain. I held my ground on the couch in our den belting out each tune as Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer fell in love, as the adorable children entertained Austrian aristocracy, as the evil Nazi empire loomed.

My family has no idea what they were missing!

At least my dog stayed with me.

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She’s loyal.

Well, and at almost 15 years old, totally deaf.

There’s that.

Still, I suspect, I’m not alone. Perhaps you have something you love to do, that it turns out you’re not particularly good at?

Slowest runner in last weekend’s 5k race?

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Hack golfer?

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Worst baker at that holiday cookie exchange?

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Okay, let’s be honest—we stink and we love it!

Can we agree to into this new year embracing the joy of it, forget the critics!

You won’t have to go it alone.

I can loan you my dog.

At her age, she’s slower than you are, still enjoys retrieving a golf ball, (as long as you don’t throw it too far) and she has yet to meet a cookie she doesn’t like.

With DarlaDog’s encouragement, let’s have the gumption to embrace from brings us joy!

Now, everyone, sing along!

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Find more uplifting stories on my website, DarynKagan.com

Please catch my newspaper column each week in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Dayton Daily News and other newspapers across Ohio.

Do Humiliating Mommy Moments Ever End?

Do Humiliating Mommy Moments Ever End?

In case you were wondering—

The lady running around last weekend from one end of the metro area to the other in what can best be described as “Mom High Fashion of Shame.”

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Yeah, that was me.

How shall I best describe my outfit?

T shirt that I had slept in, so big it would still be loose on King Kong. Sweats from 1984, or thereabouts with stains and holes to match. Plastic Croc sandals. Uncombed hair half up in a clip.

Teeth were brushed. Yay for me. Points for that.

Bra? Deodorant? I managed one. Let’s just say you wouldn’t have wanted to come too close.

How did I manage to (as I hear my own mother’s voice shrilling in my head,) ever let myself “go out of the house looking like that?!”

I can explain in one word:

Karma.

I’ll admit it.

I was that long time single gal who had “tsk tsk’ed” other women, mothers, leaving the house looking like a hot mess just to get their kids where they needed to go.

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“I’ll never do that, if I’m ever a mother,” I said silently. Smugly.

Clearly, we make plans. The Fashion Gods laugh.

How did I step out in the Mommy Outfit of Shame?

Would you believe I thought I was leaving the house for a simple 5-minute drop off at the school close to our house?

It’s what I do every weekday—transition from sleep to taxi service by throwing something on the bottom of fancy (not) giant sleep shirt.

Would you believe that simple 5-minute drop off turned into a 5-hour comedy errors where, as they say in local news, “Something went terribly wrong?”

There I was Saturday morning. All I needed to do was get one of our kids to school so she could hop on a bus to her cross country meet.

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When the bus wasn’t there, we figured we’d missed it, so I decicded to drive the kid to the actual meet which happened to be more than an hour away.

Or so we thought.

It took two more stops to get to the actual correct location.

And so yes, that was me.

The awful looking bag lady frantically driving across the state and back looking for a meet, running into countless people I knew along the way.

The lesson in this?

Not being attached to how I look?

That the kid is more important?

That, dare I say this, my mother is right?

I really shouldn’t leave the house looking like that even for 5 minutes.

I’ve learned a lot in the last few years jumping into this Mommy land.

You’ve been kind, Dear Reader, to not let me know this badge was waiting for me.

Motherhood doesn’t get more embarrassing than this?

Rather, better you don’t tell me.

Let’s keep it to sharing your horrifying Mommy Moment you thought would never come.

Or even, worse, how your mother was right.

I’ll be reading your email from the comforts of my home in some fabulous, huge t shirt.

Find more uplifting stories on my website, DarynKagan.com

Please catch my newspaper column each week in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Dayton Daily News and other newspapers across Ohio.