The nice part about age is you no longer care as much what others think. You dress how you want, look how you please, say what you feel, and do the things you want to do. That was one of the things I admired the most about my grandmother. 

Gramma lived until 98, and she was well known for speaking her mind. She was funny, sweet, and irreverent as hell. All the borderline raunchy expressions we knew as kids, we picked up from Gramma. My mother wouldn’t allow us to say “hell” or even “damn” at home. I remember sitting and giggling with Gramma (my mother’s mother) at some funny thing she’d said or something we’d seen together. 

2BC35592-15FB-468A-B585-3DF8E0C411ACBecause I couldn’t swear at home, of course, I swore like a sailor away from home. I swore at school all the time. My mother always thought swear words showed a lack of intelligence. I loved my mother, but I can see now that my mother was uptight and prissy as hell. Where she got that from, I don’t have a clue. Gramma was a stitch, and my aunt (my mother’s sister) was a lot of fun, too. 

I remember my mother being horrified when my aunt MaryEllen said, “If you can’t beat them, join them” about swearing (and her own teenaged children). In hindsight, my mother’s method didn’t work either. Her strict rules (she yelled at my poor father once when he said “kick him in the balls” when he got excited yelling at a televised football game) only made me want to rebel more. She didn’t make me more refined or softer spoken. 

F6367446-4A8D-456D-AEEB-5298DF5C3482This was a woman who watched AND laughed at Monty Python sketches, for pity’s sake. She had a sense of humor, but  she didn’t swear. Her favorite expression when arguing with my Dad was, “Oh, go soak your head!” I will admit that I have told my sweet hubby far worse in the heat of battle. 

I am who I am. As far as my mother goes, I might’ve respected her rules more if she hadn’t been so ridiculous about allowing others to speak freely. So what if I said “fuck” on the day of my father’s funeral? I was 28 years old, and she yelled at me like I was 7. So what if my father said “balls”? I do believe that was the only borderline thing I ever heard that man say. He never swore, at least not in front of my mother, but I can guaran-damn-tee it that he swore at work. 

I remember a conversation once when he was discussing his coworkers who were all older men than he was. He said something about how they all farted and they all cussed. My mother was thrilled, of course. She probably thought they were corrupting my Dad. He spent five years in the Army during WWII. Does she think the soldiers were all non swearing, gentle-bred men? It was the Army and it was WARtime!

I often think my mother would be disappointed in how I’ve turned out. I’m happier than I’ve ever been, rough edges and all. Sometimes I cringe internally when I hear myself (thanks, Mom). I swear more than my trucker husband does. My oldest son got worse at his first job. He worked at a car dealership with a bunch of guys, older mechanics. He came home with funny stories about one guy nicknamed “Hippy” who swore every other word. You had to laugh at some of the things this guy came up with. My youngest son swears, too. Who cares?

I know. My mother would. But my mother has been gone thirteen years. So I swear. I have five tattoos. I have pink highlights in my long, naturally curly hair. I wear black fingernail polish, leggings and rock band t-shirts. 

I also have two college degrees, one earned with a 4.0 GPA. I’ve worked since I was 19 (forty years). I’ve been married (according to Date Calculator) 10,451 days or 28 years, 7 months, and 12 days. I have two adult sons, 27 and 22. I have my own home, and I pay my bills on time. I read. I write. I play the guitar. I may not be outgoing, but I can fake it. I may not be a great housekeeper, but I’d rather do other things than clean. I may swear, but I don’t drink or do drugs. 

488723EF-9C98-4247-8212-234CD07D1636I can hear Toby Keith singing, “How Do You Like Me Now?”

I’m not positive my mother would like all of my rough edges (many of which popped out after she died), but I hope she’d find enough here to be proud of raising. 

How do you like me now, Mom? And I’m really not sorry I posted the word ‘fuck’ online for all the world to see. Shit happens. 

Images courtesy of Pinterest

Reclaiming the Wild Child

My hubby recently celebrated his sixtieth birthday. Yes, I’m married to a sexagenarian. Makes him sound like a pervert, doesn’t it? LOL. In our case, I think the pervert label fits me better than it does him, but I’ll never tell.

I’m sure everyone sees it anyway. I’m the one with the ink, the pink hair, the foul mouth, the preference for metal music, and the penchant for smutty romance novels. Hubby is so normal I often wonder just what it is he sees in me. He’s a trucker, and he’s the kinder, gentler half of this couple. I’m not sure even he knows what to make of me half the time, but this is who I really am. I stifled this for years; it had to come out sometime.

Hubby was the catalyst for releasing the inner wild child I hid so well for a quarter of a century. In my mid-20’s, I was attending metal concerts on a regular basis, and I had long, curly, blue-black hair. Then my cousin moved away and I lost my wild best friend, the one who attended concerts with me, and the one I laughed the longest and loudest with. I’d always been shy, but with her I was louder and more alive. I grieved her moving from New York to Texas to join the rest of her family. A short time after she moved, my father suddenly got sick and he passed away, and I suffered another crippling blow. I was twenty-eight, single, and still living at home.

Knowing I could lose my mother, too, at any time, I decided I needed to meet someone with whom I could possibly share a future so I dialed back who I was. I settled into normalcy. I cut my hair; I went back to my normal, boring brown. In essence, I grew up. I had a steady, decent paying job, and I was ready to settle down. Unfortunately, I altered who I was to fit in at work, as a partner and wife, as a mother, and in life. Giving up my wild side, I hated who I was, and I didn’t even know it. I thought it was just my natural reserve that always made me feel so damned inadequate.

I met hubby when I was twenty-nine. We married when I was thirty, and we had our first son when I was thirty-one. Life moved on fairly quickly.

Together hubby and I raised two wonderful, young men. We had our challenges with ADHD, Autism, Diabetes, Celiac disease, Asperger’s syndrome and way too much time spent with doctors, specialists, administrators, teachers and others who all thought they knew what was best for my sons. I stifled a lot over the years to see two young men through the nightmare and quagmire that was the public school system. I bit my tongue so many times when all I wanted to do was swear and lash out. As their advocate, I thought I had to hold my anger inside. I tried to put my boys first at all times. Having to deal with all these strangers who knew nothing about my sons but passed judgment anyway made me more outgoing but it also made me bury all that fury and anger deep inside.

I lost my mother when I was forty-six. Shortly after that my aged pets began to leave me, one by one; not their fault, of course. Everything dies. To get by, I buried my hurt and grief deep along with all that anger. I was probably clinically depressed and didn’t even know it at the time. I was hurting so badly I was barely functioning inside, but I made it through each day.

Something about turning fifty changed things. I hadn’t even realized that my sweet hubby knew deep down inside that I wasn’t a happy person. I was just going through the motions. He pushed. He pushed at me some more. Then he pushed even harder. Over the course of a year, he kept pushing at me. I had thought that we were happy and that we were complete. Being the saner, smarter half of this couple he knew differently. He knew I wasn’t happy, and since I wasn’t happy, he wasn’t either.

Hubby pushed hard, and he told me things needed to change. When it finally occurred to me that something was in fact “broken”, I began to get scared that maybe it was our marriage. He was the one who suggested I needed to do something really different to break out of this funk that I was stuck inside, a mid life crisis sort of gesture. So at age 51, I went back to school to start on my first college degree, and I got my first tattoo. The ink actually came first. It was something I’d always wanted to do but hadn’t because I didn’t want to disappoint my mother.

Gradually, the wild child began to find her way back. I finally opened my eyes and realized I no longer cared what others thought, and I didn’t have to fit into any molds of what I should be. I only have to do what makes me happy. I finally figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up.

My marriage? It was never broken. I was. My sexagenarian hubby? He loves the wild child. Me? I’m happier than I’ve ever been, pink hair, ink, loud music, bad language and all. I wish I’d realized what was missing years ago. Me.

Images courtesy of Pinterest

Popularity, Friends and Readers

I’ve never been the type to worry overly much about blog traffic. I’ve always maintained that I write what I write, and I do it for me. If others enjoy it, that’s great. For the most part, I post and try not to worry overly much about it afterwards. I do wonder at times if it’s worth it or if I shouldn’t be doing more to increase readership.

I know I am not alone in terms of lack of readership. There are blogs that I follow written by truly lovely people, and it breaks my heart every time I like something or comment on a witty, beautiful or interesting post and find that I am either the only one to do so or only one of two. I’ve noticed a few blogs written by published authors that also have no likes or comments. Why does that happen?

audiencePerhaps it’s because there are just so many blogs out there to read, or it could be that the blogger isn’t assertive or aggressive in promoting what they do, or it could be that the blogger’s content is too broad or even too specialized, or maybe they just don’t have a huge circle of friends (personal or virtual). Maybe blogging has just been done to death.

I hate the popularity thing. I had more than my share of that crap back in high school, and one of the things that I like about being online is that you are as anonymous as you choose to be. You can share a little or you can share a lot, you can write from the heart or you can make things up. No one, other than folks who know you in real life, know the truth. There are many bloggers who blog under a pseudonym. No one knows the real person behind the blog.

I try to be honest in what I write, but there are times I have to pull punches. I had a discussion online the other day with a friend about cuss words. I use them a lot in real life. Sorry, that’s just me, but I don’t use them very much online. Why? Because I still have elderly relatives who sometimes read what I write. They don’t need to read me dropping the f-bomb repeatedly. I don’t swear in posts for the same reason that I waited until after my mother had passed on to get my first tattoo. I try to save tender feelings where I can.

That doesn’t mean that my feelings aren’t sometimes hurt after I post. I agonize over things I write. I write and revise and write and revise. I don’t think I’ve ever posted off the cuff. I think hard about what I’ve written, and yes, even though I’ve said repeatedly that it does not matter, I look to see whether anyone liked it or not. When they don’t, I feel bad.

I feel bad enough sometimes to wonder why I bother. I get fed up or burned out every so often and walk away from blogging. My posts come in fits and starts sometimes. Maybe that’s why readership isn’t huge. But then again even when I post every day, the results are pretty much the same. I have a core group of friends who have stuck with me, and I love each and every one of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support.

I know my blog is sometimes all over the place (too broad). It’s a blog of squirrel photos, book reviews, creative writing, random musings and nonsense, but it’s mine. I’m proud of it. My blog was begun on August 12, 2012 on Blogger as “Reflections from a Middle-Aged Lady”. The first post was a musing on whether or not I should let my hair go completely gray. It wasn’t earth-shaking stuff, but it was a start. I’d been encouraged to write by a friend of mine.

I got my writing start in high school when I’d write silly romantic stories about hockey players starring me and my friends. My friends and I all wrote them. We’d gather at lunchtime and read each other’s offerings. It was a hoot. I was a shy kid, and I was pretty embarrassed when the official class prophecy for Charlotte High School’s graduating class of 1977 stated that I was destined to one day marry one of the Boston Bruins hockey players. We all know that didn’t happen, but my scribblings then were the precursor to my writing today.

I write because I have to. It’s part of who I am. Some days I’m more popular than others. That’s okay, too.

Image courtesy of Pinterest

Can You Hear Me Now?

Communication is a funny thing. We all want to be heard even though we really don’t have anything to say.

“I thank you for your interest but it really wasn’t worth listening,” I heard son #1 say to son #2 last evening. He had been making some off the wall comment mainly to himself when his younger brother took his headphones off of one ear to say, “huh?” At least they were being polite to each other and trying to communicate.

heardI feel the same way son #1 did often in life. I will say something and it’s not profound. It’s nice to be acknowledged but it’s usually not worth repeating if someone doesn’t hear me the first time. I am often not heard. I think that’s from too many years of being shy and not speaking loudly enough. I mumble and my comments get overlooked. It’s odd because I can be plenty loud at home.

I also use far less classy language at home. I’m not proud to admit that I swear more than my trucker husband does. It’s a bad habit that I developed as a teenager. I was a shy kid and a nauseatingly good girl. I always behaved out in public and never wanted to disappoint my parents. I started swearing in high school because it was a secret way of defying my mother. My mother would’ve been horrified at some of the things that came out of my mouth when I was talking to friends. That’s why I did it and now that I’ve been doing it for 40 years, I don’t think it’s going to go away any time soon. I try not to do it at work because I know better than that. I try to say things like “oh, crap” or “oh for heaven’s sake” when things go wrong and I feel the need to curse. It’s not quite the same, though.

I’ve had issues recently with a new person at work. I can be socially awkward but I’m usually never intentionally rude. When someone talks to me, I answer him or her. This individual doesn’t respond in social situations – ever. If you say “hi” or “hello”, this person looks you in the eye, says nothing and walks away. Someone else suggested that possibly this person is autistic. I took offense to that. I know autism. My son has it. He answers people when they address him. I taught him how to behave in public. The rude person at work walked away from me without speaking again yesterday. I ended up sticking my tongue out at the back of this person’s head. Yes, I’m real mature. I’ve been told that before.

My work day started yesterday with a shower of stones and pebbles coming off the rooftop of a building I was passing. I thought it was hail until I realized it was concrete. They were working on the roof of the building. You’d think they could’ve blocked the walkway off, huh? Talk about wanting to curse out loud. Then I came out onto our city’s main street to find a raving street person coming towards me. There are quite a few disturbed (drunk, high or whacked) people wandering around downtown. I could hear this one coming from blocks away. I started to move to the edge of the sidewalk closer to the street (to his left) and I did not make eye contact. As he approached me, he yelled, “Get your ass to the left!”  He yelled the same thing at someone behind me, too. Okay, at least I’ve never yelled that at anyone. Maybe I should try it out at work sometime. Can you imagine the reaction?

I suppose in this guy’s mind he was just communicating. He wanted to be heard so he made sure that he used his outdoor voice. While I didn’t appreciate his choice of words, it had the desired effect. No one got in his way.

Image courtesy of Pinterest