Adulting, military, money, mother love, parenting, Parenting teens and young adults, parenting young adults, Veterans Day

Lessons From A Veteran-You Can Never Go Home Again (Or Can You?)

waimea bay

Just 32 short years ago, I was finishing up my 6-year enlistment.  I couldn’t WAIT to get out!   I was ready to break out of my shackles and take on all the vast opportunities that this big world had to offer.  I thought I would never set foot on a military base again but it’s funny how life works.   As the mom of two young adult daughters, I have long had a dream of taking them back to the place where it all ended for me.  I wanted them to see the place ”that will live in infamy”…a place that became grander in my mind with each passing year that I didn’t return.  The very gates that I begrudgingly crossed each day for years had become inaccessible to me.  Finally, with the help of a friend and no less than a half dozen phone calls to coordinate, I was finally able to infiltrate the secure fortress where I had once roamed freely.  It was both magical and disappointing at the same time.   Magical because I got to relive a piece of my youth and disappointing because I had to face the fact that nothing stays the same.    Back then, I was a member of a team but now I was an outsider just trying to relive a part of her past.    On my stroll down memory lane, below is what I learned and hope to impart to my daughters:

Continue reading “Lessons From A Veteran-You Can Never Go Home Again (Or Can You?)”

Adulting, life skills, military, mother love, motivation, parenting, Parenting teens and young adults

An Open Letter From Drill Sergeant Mom to Her Domestic Platoon

military-662863_1920
As I was sorting through some old papers today, I ran across this old gem. While I was in my active parenting phase, I took my job very seriously. It was very important to me that I raised my daughters to be responsible, contributing members of society. I spent a great deal of time and effort planning and thinking of parenting strategies. Given my military background, I am not quick to accept excuses. Though it may sound a bit harsh to some, here is what the letter said: Continue reading “An Open Letter From Drill Sergeant Mom to Her Domestic Platoon”

Adulting, life skills, mother love, parenting, parenting young adults, wedding

A Tale of Two Weddings- (But Mostly About One)

Kelsey and Matt

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  But this story is mostly about the best!  2018 was a pretty big year in Launch Lady Land.  For the second time in 85 days, there was another wedding.   The same week my youngest daughter got married in June, her older sister announced her engagement.  Being the frugal one that I am, I suggested that she just step right on up to the priest when her sister was done (don’t worry, my perfectionist younger one, I wasn’t serious).  It didn’t happen.

Just as in daily life, their wedding choices highlighted their extreme personality differences.  They both received the same wedding stipend but used it so differently.  My traditional youngest daughter spent all of hers, and then some, on a more formal event that took a whole year to plan.  She scoured the etiquette books to do everything “correctly” according to tradition.  Her very practical sister, who had just bought a new home, took the much more frugal route and chose her dad’s and stepmom’s back yard as the venue for the wedding and reception.  She couldn’t see the point of having a large, one-time party when she could buy a fence for her newly purchased back yard!  The thought of watching her wedding guests ingest surf and turf did not give her as much pleasure as imagining her two large dogs sprinting freely around her fenced back yard.   I suggested she treat her guests to a nice ramen noodle buffet or peanut butter and jelly bar, but in the end, the fajita bar was a tasty, yet non-traditional choice.   Gluten-free macaroons graced the dessert table which would normally contain a wickedly gluten filled wedding cake. Though it was a small afternoon affair, the tee totaling bride and groom did not deprive their guests of adult beverages. Continue reading “A Tale of Two Weddings- (But Mostly About One)”

life skills, mother love, parenting, Parenting humor, Parenting teens and young adults, stay at home mom

Will Work For Food

will work for food

Yes, I was THAT mom.  For more than 10 years, I was a stay-at-home mom.  When you can only rely on yourself and your family for low budget entertainment, sometimes this is all you can come up with!  I have collected a lot of pictures, but this is one of my most memorable.

This picture conjures up a visual of The Little Red Hen in my mind.  To make a long story short, the hen solicited the help of the other farm animals to assist her and her chicks in planting the grain, but they were busy and disinterested.  She later invited them to participate in the other activities such as harvesting, threshing, milling the flour and finally baking the bread.    Again, they were quite too busy to help.  When the fresh hot bread came out of the oven, she asked who would help eat it.  Miraculously, the busy farm animals were suddenly available.  In the not-so-subtle moral of the story, she informed the lazy animals that since they were too busy to help put the food on the table, then they were not welcome to enjoy the finished product.  She, along with her chicks who worked alongside her, finished every crumb while the farm animals sadly watched.

This is how life works.   This wise mother hen was teaching her young chicks the value of work so they could take care of themselves without starving.  Maybe it was because she wanted to be sure that they could take care of themselves when they no longer had her to depend on.  Or maybe it was because there was no basement in the hen house and space was at a premium.  Either way, she did her part to ensure that her chicks had the tools to become independent.  The rest of the farm animals were never heard from again, so we can only speculate what happened to them.

I hope I have taught this lesson well to my own girls.  This picture will always be a reminder to them that in this house, even the FOOD works for food!

#littleredhen #lifeskills #nosuchthingasafreelunch #parentinghumor #parenting #causeandeffect #willworkforfood

mother love, parenting, Parenting humor, Parenting teens and young adults, parenting young adults

Eviction Papers Served-Launch Lady Style

petting rug

I’ve been fostering my daughter’s cat while she prepares to move into a new home.  Here are the papers she was served yesterday:

EVICTION NOTICE

Princess (2)
Miss Kitty

In addition to being a free-loading, pseudo independent yet arrogant tenant, the pictured individual wreaks of entitlement.  She demands that her aging landlord meet, without fail, on the “petting rug” every time the landlord walks into the house. The landlord is expected to clean up the tenant’s excrement daily.  If the tenant’s meals are not delivered on time, her protests would wake the dead. The landlord is informed daily when the sun comes up whether or not the boundaryless boarder has any particular needs to address.  Unfortunately for the landlord, a full moon seems to confuse the domestic inhabitant who likes to sound the “sun up” alarm at random intervals throughout the night.   One of the freeloading squatter’s most memorable feats is the “pop and run”.  This is when the loitering leech skulks off to the side and rear of the recliner where the landlord rests.   This activity always begins with the tenant displaying large pupils.  If the landlord ignores her long enough, the crazed occupant will spring up from the side, execute a quick bite, then run like a crafty little coward.

Miss Kitty must vacate the premises no later than noon on Sunday, but preferably by the previous Saturday evening to allow her landlord one good night’s sleep before the new tenants arrive on Sunday).

Despite her selfish qualities, Princess Kitty will be greatly missed.

Adulting, cats, college, earn money, Financial literacy, financial responsiblity-teens and young adults, life skills, mother love, motivation, parenting, Parenting teens and young adults, parenting young adults, teaching financial responsibility

How This 19-Year-Old Found a Way to Conquer the World on Her Own Terms

Kelsey and her kitty

I grew up believing that 18 was a magical age.  I could not WAIT to turn 18 so I could be independent and do things my own way.  I was bred to be both independent and credit worthy.  I still have my original JCPenney credit card that I’ve had for well over 3 decades.  Filling out the application was probably how I celebrated my 18th!  I had a “soft launch” shortly after 18 when I moved in with a friend.  I paid a pittance for rent while I learned to navigate life totally independent of my parents.  Since I didn’t have a car at this point, my friend was gracious enough to shuttle my pathetic a$$ to the laundromat.  Getting to work required that I either negotiate with coworkers or walk.   After a few months of this, home started looking pretty appealing, so I went home long enough to buy a car. After I got my mobility machine, the independent streak really kicked in and I moved out again.  My early independence is what helped shape my views as a parent.

Thirty-one years later, I was the parent of a teenager who had been bred to be both independent and credit worthy.  We were both brand new graduates; college for me and high school for her.  She entered her first year of community college as she had been groomed to do.   Unfortunately, she hated it.  She hated everything including the town we lived in.  She felt trapped by expectation and didn’t want to waste the time or money to complete college when she had no particular aspirations.  I didn’t try to fight her.  My own experience had shown me that if you really want to accomplish a higher education, then you’ll make it happen when the time is right.  I simply told her that if she chose to end her education that it would be time to be an adult with grown-up responsibilities.

I must digress a bit and talk about what happened the year before.  Her senior year of high school was only one class, so she worked full time.  When I saw how she was spending her money, I brainstormed for a plan.  We sat down and calculated some numbers as though she were going to move out to give her an idea about what “life” costs.  We came up with a figure that she would need to pay her own way.  Then she was given the following two options:

  • Pay the agreed upon sum to me to contribute to household expenses
    • I never told her but I would have saved it and given it to her when she moved out
  • Put the money in her savings account each month with the stipulation that it could not be withdrawn and that I would look at the statement each month to hold her accountable

I persisted even though she thought I just wanted her money.  My true mission, in addition to inspiring her independence, was to minimize the cash that she had been handling so frivolously. I was glad that she chose what most would agree was the only intelligent choice.  My mission was accomplished when she was able to eventually leave home with several thousand dollars in the bank.  She also did a soft launch by moving in with a friend right after she turned 19, but came home a few months later.  What she did next floored even me!

Three months after her 19th birthday, she informed me that she had found a job on-line and was moving to Utah which was almost 1,400 miles from home.  She had gotten a phone interview at a popular ski resort and was hired, sight unseen.  I guess hospitality workers must be hard to find!  She bought an airplane ticket and made it happen.  I remember going with her when she closed her bank account.  The banker, a young man who appeared to be only slightly older than her, told her how lucky she was.  I reminded her that she wasn’t lucky; she had made the decision and she was making it happen.  I had a mixture of emotions which ranged from pride to fear.  When her dad decided to fly there with her, I cried.   With my independent streak, it had never even occurred to me to do so.  She was mortified, of course, but I was grateful that he had taken that extra step to help her ease into her transition given the sometimes sinister deceptions on the internet.

She met a lot of different people while working in Utah.  Many of them were college educated yet not ready to grow up.  She didn’t have the benefit of much college yet, but she was receiving a most valuable education!  The first place she lived was in the worker housing with two roommates that she had been placed with.  The room was not included in the employment offer; they had to pay out of each check.  For anyone who has done any time in a barracks or college dorm room, I think you get the idea.  You end up living with people you don’t know and you learn how to deal with all types.  I watched in awe as she took advantage of all the amenities Utah had to offer.   After a couple years, she moved with a friend to Texas.  Four years wiser and infinitely more street savvy, she returned to her roots bringing with her a sassy feline companion.  I was thrilled to have her back home with me for almost a year as she transitioned back to the area and continued to do amazing things.

Six years from the time she first moved out, I look at the things she has done and what she continues to do.  She is preparing to buy her first home and get married to a wonderful and ambitious young man.  She’s working her way through college and dabbling in different careers.   She’s learned that you can’t run away from yourself; unfortunately, your problems go with you.  She left home a surly teenager and came back a grateful, positive, street-wise and confident young lady.

My beautiful daughter is in transition so I sit here today with her cat, who I am fostering, until she gets settled into her new home.  I have not been able to instill the same independence in the cat.  Though it is a common perception that cats are independent creatures, just listen to the squalls when you fail to put kibbles in their dish at the appointed time!  I have found myself obsessing over the cat just a bit too often these days so I’m trying to focus on my writing instead.   I will miss them both as they get settled into their next phase (to see what happened to the cat, read Eviction Papers Served-Launch Lady Style ) I think my firstborn now understands that I didn’t want her money.  What I wanted was her happiness and her respect, and I’m very grateful to have experienced both.

 

life skills, mother love, parenting, Parenting teens and young adults, parenting young adults

Resisting the Path of Least Resistance

river

Take a look at my linked video if you haven’t already seen it.  This morning, I rode my bike to my favorite thinking spot to sit on a rock and watch the sparkling river glide effortlessly downstream.  Miraculously, I am able to take almost any situation and conform it to one of my two favorite topics which are parenting and money. Today’s session was no different. Continue reading “Resisting the Path of Least Resistance”

mother love, parenting, Parenting humor, Parenting teens and young adults, parenting young adults, Uncategorized

A Mother With a Soul

IMG_8553

I woke up very early this morning and decided to get up in order to work on a very definite project. Unfortunately, as is often my experience, accomplishing certain things on the computer is like walking on scorching coals through the deepest chambers of hell. It didn’t take long for me to abort my intended project and pick up a book. At least I am confident in my ability to turn a page without outside intervention. Today’s selection was “Chicken Soup for the Soul; Like Mother, Like Daughter”. I sometimes wonder whether the mission of the Launch Lady makes her appear to be devoid of a soul. If there is any correlation between a soul and leaking eyes then I do, indeed, have one.

What an amazing way to start the day. I read about six stories and was touched by each and every one. My emotions ran the gamut from “I remember how hard I tried to be like THAT mom” to “Someday, maybe even soon, MY little girls might become moms”. I became a mom nearly 25 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the scariest thing in the world to assume the responsibility for this brand new little “creature” whose total dependence was almost entirely entrusted to me. My firstborn was everything I could have hoped for. She was beautiful, smart, loving and she accomplished all of the milestones with textbook precision.   After a couple years, I was feeling remotely successful and maybe a little cocky. I thought, “maybe I should do this again, but only once because I only have two hands”! My second bundle of joy was just as awesome as the first but I was much more relaxed in the way I handled her. I remember sitting her infant self on the table at a dinner with extended family. Each time someone spoke, I would pivot her body in their direction so she could listen to them speak. She was my obliging little puppet. She was very different from her sister in every possible way. While number one was sleeping from 8pm to 6am at age one, number two woke me up every night for ten years. While she was my infant puppet, I was her decade long jack-in-the-box; popping out of bed each time she cried for me at night or showed up at my bedside!

One of the most important things for me was to make sure that they grew up to be independent.   In doing so, I hope that they were given the proper balance of love and responsibility. I’m not really sure how I did but thankfully, there are two of them so they can laugh with each other about all of the different ways I tried to achieve compliance from them. Everyone knows that the darn “things” don’t come with manuals. Once you think you have found the perfect blueprint for successful parenting, the next child comes along and shatters that confidence.

Regardless of what I did, they have both proven, in very different ways, that I can count on them to be independent. Conversely, I know that I have given them the love that they need. There are many faces of love. Sometimes love is giving and sometimes love is teaching. Often, showing love involves using the word “No”. What I know for sure is that I am best at giving the kind that encourages them to spread their wings and fly.  Number two was married last month and number one will be married soon enough. Every time I see them achieving a “grown up” milestone, my heart swells with pride and overflows with love. Too often these days, like when reading poignant stories about mothers and daughters, my eyes begin to overflow as well. Every sentimental exchange is prefaced with “Mom, you’re not going to cry, are you?” No, my dear girls, I will try to keep my vision from clouding so I can savor every moment of watching you experience the very same things that you etched into my heart and soul as priceless memories!

Adulting, life skills, mother love, parenting, parenting young adults, wedding

3…2…1…LAUNCHED!!!

wedding (3)

It’s been almost a year since the engagement.  I had plenty of time to mentally prepare, but no amount of time can prepare you for the moment you first walk into the church and see family and friends joined together for this very special occasion.   It was only the rehearsal, but it was time for the tears to begin.

I sat at the front of the cathedral near her dad.  When I asked how he felt, he said something about losing his little girl.  With a false sense of bravery, I reminded him that she was just borrowed, that she was not ours to keep.   I choked on my words as I told him that kids are given to us to help us grow up.  After all, we’ve been at this parenting thing for 25 years now.  We’ve earned battle scars, arguments, respect and maybe even a little wisdom along the way.  We’ve traded sleep for sitting in a steamy bathroom to calm a croupy child.  We’ve given middle of the night sponge baths to bring down high fevers.  We’ve cleaned up things that are unimaginable and unmentionable.  Things we probably hadn’t given much thought to before we decided to become parents.  We’ve been their biggest cheerleaders and also the worst people on the planet from our daughters’ perspectives.   Perhaps they were given to us to help us polish up the jewels we were meant to be.  For those who don’t have kids, don’t misunderstand.  There are plenty of opportunities for growth.  It’s just that when you have them, you have no CHOICE but to change, For better or for worse, a parent will never be the same as his or her former self.

The whole day was absolutely magical (well, except for maybe the 90+ degree temperature)!  I got a lot of compliments which I had to deflect to the deserving parties.  You see, while I did render some assistance, it was not with the planning.  I learned early on that the best thing I could do was to stay out of her way and let her do her thing.   After all, I had done my best to create an independent young adult.  This wedding was HER dream, not mine, and who was I to stand in her way! I will not be there to execute the rest of her dreams for her, so I was not going to jump in the middle of this one either.  I offered to read any contracts (After I enjoyed my $250 cake pop, I realized that they had not all been presented to me…).  I made myself available as a worker bee AND I was always there to say annoying things like “what is your rain contingency plan?” and “do both of you have valid passports?”  I tried to limit my intervention to the “big things”.   They handled every last detail from special thank you letters to the wedding party and parents to tissues at the end of the church pews.  If she ever decides to become an event planner, she has at least one successful event for her resume’!

It might seem pretty cold to some that I am happy to send my daughter into the world, but my job is done.  Her formal education has been completed and if she stayed with me, I would thwart her real education.    She has been loved and nurtured.  I was the first one to be entrusted with her care before she was born. I was privileged, along with her dad and sister, to be one of her first teachers.  I wish I could say that we did everything perfectly, but I can’t.  But if I could, then we would have denied her immeasurable opportunities for learning.  She still has lots to learn, but she has to find new educators.  Her newest teacher just gave his heart to her in marriage and it was a beautiful event to witness.

Now they move forward together on their own glorious adventure.  They leave behind parents who look nostalgically at the empty corner of the nest and wonder what happened to their babies.  But they didn’t really lose anything.  You see, her parents have gained a bonus son, and his, a bonus daughter.  As they set out to feather their own nest, we smile with satisfaction and look forward to watching them soar on their own.