My Childhood Memories

Things Reminiscent of My Childhood

Running amok from sun up to sun down.

Teaching myself how to ride a bicycle.  Many thanks to my neighbor, Paige, who let me borrow her bike.

My yellow, banana seat bicycle. “The Rascal.”

Spending summers with my beloved Grandma in San Francisco.

Japanese paper wallets – and stashing as much cash as I could “save” in them.

Pee Chee folders, and newsprint tablet paper.

Reading anything and everything.

Grape Bubble Yum, Pixie Stix, and Jolly Rancher Cherry Sticks!

Mrs. Corpus and her encouragement.  Best & still my favorite teacher EVER!

Cherry Kool Aid and Grape Tang!

Saturday morning cartoons.

Summer vacation from June to September!

Being the fastest girl runner in my classes.

Junior Olympics, running track.

Wondering if I would ever grow tall enough to reach the pedals of a car so I can drive.

No worries.  No cares.  Just being a kid trying to grow up.  My “problems” were so different that what kids have now.  Enjoy your childhood.  Be a kid. Don’t be in such a rush to grow up so fast!

Run With Me, Not Away From Me …

I know and understand that we are not all meant to be the same. I get that we were born to be original versions of ourselves, that we all have our own paths in life, that we all have our own destinies to find, and our own plan that is already predetermined and laid out for us by our Creator. I believe that wholeheartedly. However, I when it comes to those that are closest to you, you would think that we would be somewhat closer or more similar, especially when it comes to your own children.

I have four children. Yep, that’s not a typo, I did say FOUR. 4! Three boys, and one girl, the youngest. All four similar to me, yet all different in their own right.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that I wished that they were MORE like me in some respects, yet I appreciate their individuality and their uniqueness. I can’t turn them into Mini Me’s, nor do I believe that I want them to be “just like me.” As they get older, it’s difficult to try and keep them on the the same path that I am on. Try as I might, I can only do and say so much to try and persuade them to stay on course with me.

I watch and listen to them formulate their own decisions. Some I let them make on their own, others I believe they are not quite old enough to decide for themselves yet. I can put my two cents in and gently guide them back on track, or if need be, I can assert my authority as their mother and let my upper hand rule for the time being. Sometimes they look at me as if I were crazy and didn’t know what I was talking about, but for the most part, for now, they don’t resist, they just roll their eyes or cop an attitude but do as told.

I can’t control what happens when they are not in my line of vision. I can’t control their thoughts or make them do anything. I understand peer pressure and the influences that their friends may have on them. I can, however, let them know about my experiences and my thoughts on the matter and hope and pray that they make wise choices and decisions.

I worry about their futures. I stress about the things that they are or may be exposed to. I worry about the kinds of friends they may have chosen for themselves. I harp on and constantly nag them about doing their homework and doing well in school, and about doing certain chores around the house. I wonder what kind of people they will grow up to be.

The truth is … I have no control over this. I can’t determine or see the future. I can’t wrap them up in bubble wrap to shield them from life’s unfairness and harsh realities. I can’t hold on to them so tightly that they would only recoil and land farther away from me when let go.

It makes me sad to know that time is flying past me so quickly. I find myself wondering when did it happen that had to start looking up so look into their eyes? So many times I find myself wishing that I could do more, would have done more, had been more patient, took more time off. Believe me … it breaks my heart to know that my time with them is so limited. On the outside I may appear so strong, yet on the inside it takes all that I have to hold myself together when it comes to them.

This is not exactly where I was going with this blog post. I was writing this because I was thinking, and I wanted to write that sometimes I wish that my children (or at least one) enjoyed running. Mind you, I am thankful for the times that my boys have ridden their bicycles or skateboards beside me as I ran. I just feel that I spend so much of my time on foot that if they were to actually run beside me, we could spend a few more precious moments together. Alas, NONE of my children find pleasure in running … only in running away from me as I heard my Nathan jokingly tell someone recently when asked if he ran. My children enjoy swimming, baseball, football, and jump roping. I have one that loves poker, another that enjoys skateboarding, and one that I have have dubbed my “GQ” boy. But … I am NOT complaining. I would not have them any other way. I enjoy them as they are – they are their own people. A different, better, more improved version of me and their father … I love them all dearly.

It is my desire that they find wisdom eventually in my nagging – do your homework, study hard, do your chores, be nice to people, save some money, etc. I hope that they eventually learn that what I do, what I have done, I do/have done for them. And I find comfort in knowing that if I *really* wanted them to … Really, really wanted them to … I could just ask them and they would run with me … and that one run would be enough to last me a long time.

– Posted using BlogPress from my RowPhone =]

As I Drive With My Mother

It never fails … no matter how “old” I may be, the minute that I am in the company of my mother, I revert back to the child that I once was – the ornery child, always with something to say but biting my tongue in an effort to lay low and remain out of trouble.

Yesterday was no exception.

Driving beside my mother always causes me to take a defensive position.  For one, there’s really no where to hide.  I’m stuck and I have to listen to her talk to me as if I am once again a child.  Not only that, but I also have to take driving directions from her even though I own my own cars and have been driving since I was 15 1/2 years old.

I love the conversations that we have, mostly one sided, with her doing the majority of the talking, me just nodding and acknowledging her with the occasional short answer knowing that if I say anything it will be the wrong thing anyway.

Me:  Sniffling.

My Mom:  Why are you sick?

Me:   I’m NOT sick, Mom.

My Mom:  You are. What do you call it then?  Watch out for that car.

Me:  I’m NOT sick, Mom, and I see the car.

My Mom:  You should take antibiotics.  The light is red.

Me: I saw the red light, and I was already getting ready to stop. I don’t need antibiotics, Mom.

My Mom:  You do.

Me:   Mom, I know I don’t need them.  I’m a nurse.

My Mom:  I have some at home that you can take. It starts to sprinkle. Turn your wipers on.  The light is green, go.

Me:  I turn my wipers on and I have already started to go. Mom, you need to finish taking those when they give it to you.

My Mom:  Oh, I do, I just keep asking my doctor to refill it and I keep it until I need it.

Me:  I shake my head. Don’t do that, Mom.  You can’t just take antibiotics, they’re for specific illnesses.  One day you’ll really need them and they won’t work because you keep taking them.

My Mom:  What do you mean they won’t work?  Don’t you know that antibiotics kill infections, they will always work.  She sighs then changes the subject. You’re too skinny. I don’t think you’re eating enough and that’s one reason why you’re sick.

Me:  Mom, I’m not skinny, I am fit.  No, you’re too skinny.  Mom, I weigh xxx lbs.

My Mom:  What?  How can you be heavier than I am?  You are driving too fast.

Me:  I’m not driving fast enough. Mom, I’m muscular.

My Mom:  You need to eat.

Me:  Mom, I do eat.  I eat a lot.

My Mom:  I don’t think that you do.  I don’t think that you take care of yourself.

Me:  My eyebrows are raised at this point and I sigh deeply to myself.

My Mom:  You should stop exercising so much.  You’re already too skinny.

Me:  Mom, I’m not skinny.  I eat enough.  I am healthy because I eat good and because I workout.  I’m not sick.

My Mom:  I don’t think so, Rowena.  You’re already doing too much – working, taking care of your kids.  You don’t have time to workout.  Watch out for that car.  Brake!

Me:  There’s no reason for me to brake, I’m not going to hit anything. Mom …

At this point some update on Egypt or Libya comes on the radio …

My Mom:  Oh, my God.  Make sure you buy gas, pretty soon it will be over $4.00/gallon.  Be sure you stock up on food, too.

Me:  Mom, we’re not going to run out of gas or food.

My Mom:  How do you know?  Look at all the earthquake in New Zealand.  You never know what’s going to happen.

Me:  Mom, if we do, I’ll just ride my bicycle.

My Mom:  What about your kids?

Me:  Mom, they can ride their bikes too, and they’re not going to starve.

My Mom:  Don’t worry, I’ve been stock piling rice and other things.  You’re driving too close to that car.

Me:  I’m not driving too close to anyone. Mom, you shouldn’t buy so much food.  Just buy enough for yourself.  Food has an expiration date.

My Mom:  Pretty soon we will have another World War 3.

Me:  Mom, why are you worrying about that?

My Mom:  I have to worry about that.  You should worry about that also.

Me:  I’m not worried, Mom.

My Mom:  I should buy a new car. We are driving my Dad’s 2004 Mercedes that never gets driven.  She’s talking about her 1994 Nissan Maxima.

Me:  Mom, you don’t need a new car, just drive this one.

My Mom:  I can’t drive this one around.  Can you imagine if I drove this car to bingo?  Someone would think I had money and follow me out and rob me.  Joel (my brother) doesn’t think that I should drive it.

Me:  No one is going to rob you, Mom.  Just drive this one.  At this point I’m irritated that she doesn’t get that just because you own a Mercedes that you should just leave it in the garage.  Cars are meant to be driven!  It’s also pissing me off that my brother would believe that someone would harm our mother because of the kind of car she drives and tells her not to drive it. If you’re not going to drive it, Mom, then you should sell it and get a different car.

My Mom:  Now she’s irritated with ME! I can’t sell this car, it’s your Dad’s car!  Why would I sell it?  This is a luxury car, don’t you know that?  Your Dad loved this car, it was his dream to own it.  I can’t just drive it to bingo or to the grocery store.

Me:  I’m counting because I’m seething.  I can’t say what really I really want to say because that would be disrespectful, right?  I’m going to just keep my mouth shut!  Whatever.  She doesn’t get that “average” people own Mercedes nowadays, not just “rich” people.

At this point we are at our destination and I can’t wait to get out of the car.  It has only been a short drive, but it feels like the longest 20 minutes of my life.

Listen … The relationship that I have with my mom has not been an easy one and I get a lot of flack from others who don’t understand how difficult it has been for me because they have not walked in my shoes.  It has only been recently that my mother and I have reconnected.  I have come to accept that our relationship has not been perfect, nor will it ever be.  As an adult with children, I know now that she raised me as best as she knew how.  Much of what happened to me as a child is still difficult to swallow, but I believe that I have forgiven her for whatever shortcomings, faults, differences that I believe that she has had.  The best thing about being an adult, for me, is that I am free to keep to myself, stay in my own home, choose when to call her, and that I don’t have to see her or talk to her everyday.  I can say, “No” and not feel a lick of guilt.

I understand that commandment that says, “Thou shall honor thy father and mother.”  I get it, and I do for the most part.  I believe, though, that within that commandment, there is an understanding that parents should love and respect their children also.  I don’t believe that parents should be dictators as my mother was.  I believe that they should raise their children to be the best that they can be. asking their opinions, and actually talking to them instead of just telling them what to do.  I understand that parenting is by no means an easy job, but being a child and growing up is not easy either.  There’s so much to learn, and one learns best when their leader is open and guides.

I was always one who really, seriously wished that I had different parent  It’s not worth it to rehash my past, but I believe that the memories of my childhood are filled more with unhappy memories and I struggle to remember any happy ones.  It’s sad that I have such difficulty doing so.  I have asked my brothers what they recollect and what their memories and perceptions of things that have happened are, and their versions so very different from mine, so I keep my mouth shut and my memories to myself.  Funny how siblings can grow up in the same household with the same parents, etc., and our perceptions and memories differ vastly.

This much I know is true:  I am an adult that reverts back to that part of my childhood when in the presence of my mother, which means that I have a tendency to shut down and just let her do and say what she does and says to me.   I also know that it is because of my experiences, I am the person that I am today – this includes how I respond to my children and how I mother them.  I know that I am a much different mother to my children because of my mother.  The relationship that I have with my own children is FAR different that the relationship that I could ever hope to have with my own mother.

I know that no one escapes their childhood without a few scrapes and bruises.  No childhood is perfect.  We all have issues in some way, shape or form and that’s what makes us all unique. But life goes on, and eventually we must all learn to be our own person outside of our parents homes.  We need to understand that we are NOT our parents, we are our own selves.  We need to let go of whatever has happened, and move forward, knowing that we were exposed to certain things to help make us who we are today.  We also need to understand that our parents, for the most part, did the best that they could with what they knew.  The best revenge for that unhappy inner-child of ours is to acknowledge him/her, and let them know that they are now safe, and that life is good, and that you and the children that you have are all okay.  Then go get some ice cream for the both of you!

Once A Tomboy …

I will be the first to admit that I am far from your “girly girl.”  Far, far, far away from that.  First impression when you look at me is that I’m your average woman, but if you look deeper you will see that I’m a true tomboy.

Tomboy, by definition, is a girl who dresses and sometimes behaves the way boys are expected to, often into more masculine things like “stronger” sports, computers, or cars.   Tomboy refers to a female whose behavior is free from the restriction of unwritten societal gender rules. She doesn’t think she is being boyish or girlish, she is being herself.  Girls are typically called a tomboy when something is done that requires physical strength or when playind and one doesn’t mind getting dirty or injured if that goes with the game.  Tomboys are usually heterosexual by instinct and choice. Tomboys are usually willing to fight if necessary & tend to be fearless though not stupid in that respect. They are intolerant of bullies and tend to step in to balance uneven situations. Warrior-like in an honorable way. (Urban Dictionary.)

I have always identified myself with the tomboy mentality.  As a child, I was the one always running around, riding my bicycle, preferring to be dressed in pants versus dresses, preferring tennis shoes over those patent leathers.  You could find me dressed in a dress with tube socks and tennis shoes.  Imagine my mother’s horror – brings back such precious memories for me!

As I grew into an adult, you can still find me like this, just a little more refined.  Wardrobe … haha.  You can find me in my gym clothes, or in my scrubs.  Standard outfit for me.  I love my jeans and t-shirts. Don’t be fooled into thinking that I won’t wear a dress or something girly … they’re in my closet.  I don’t mind getting dressed up or wearing a dress.  Lots of skirts, dresses, and girlish tops, but for the majority of the time I’m in those shorts, jeans, and t-shirts.  Heels and I are not friends.  My shoe collection consists of athletic shoes, or Vans, or flipflops.

I’m the woman who doesn’t wear a lick of make up.  For one, I’m not one to take the time to do it,  secondly, I don’t know or care to learn how to put it on, and lastly, I’m so active that make up just gets in the way.  I’ve tried, and I do slap it on when I feel like it, but generally, on an ordinary day you will always find me fresh faced, just moisturizer.

As for my hair … Forget it.  I am not one to schedule elaborate hair appointments at the salon – I tried it, but it’s just not really “me.”  If it takes too much time, please, don’t even bother to style or cut it, just trim up my bangs please.  Gotta have my bangs!  =)  You will find me with my hair up in a pony tail, or with it just loose with it’s many waves … I just can’t see spending a lot of time doing hair and make up.

I sound as if I would be a great candidate for What Not To Wear, or some other make over show!!!  I wouldn’t go … I may, albeit kicking and screaming the entire way!

About the only thing “girly” that you will find about me is my vast collection of Coach purses!  Oh … I love those purses.  Many of them are in the color purple and that makes me happy … =)  Haha … but even on most days you will only find me with my little Coach wristlet along with my gym gear, no purse to be found!

I don’t really give much thought to what people think of me.  I have always been my own person, not really conforming to the “norm.”  I’m happy in my own skin and that’s all that matters.  I know exactly who I am and I am okay with me.  I have lots of friends who are girly girls, or divas … and I love my friends.  I wouldn’t ask them to change for me, nor would I change for them.  My husband accepts me as I am – always has.  He has never asked me to change.  My own daughter is a girly-girl and I love her as she is.

Tomboy … yep … that’s Row.  Once a tomboy … ALWAYS a tomboy!  Deal with it.

Dear 14 Year Old Row.

*I love this song by P!nk!  It’s amazing, with a  poignant message, and everyone should heed it.   I know that you can’t view this video on my blog, but PLEASE, watch it on YouTube.  It’s worth the time.  Trust me …

Many, many years ago I was 14 years old. I can see myself as if it were yesterday. The geeky girl with no fashion sense. I was a wallflower, so ordinary that I literally blended into the background, never really seeing anything special about myself. Never being one who called attention to myself, I was quiet for the most part until you got to know me. I had a mother who proclaimed me “ugly” and a “mistake.”

Fast forward to today … almost thirty years later … to remember all of this and to write it down brings tears to my eyes. I look in the mirror and try to convince myself that I have since healed that part of my past, but I see my inner 14 year old self and I feel that hurt all over again, reminding me that I’m not yet completely healed. If I could go back and talk to me, I think of all the words that I would love to say. I would like to write a letter now and tell that 14 year old girl all that I know now …
1984 - I was 15 in this picture.Dear 14 Year Old Row.,

Wow. What an amazing young girl you are. You can’t see it yet because you are slightly clouded by everything that’s happening and hurting you at this moment.

First of all, your mother is DEAD WRONG. DON’T believe her, Row. Please, plug your ears, and don’t listen! You are NOT a mistake, maybe unplanned, yes, but not a mistake. You were placed here on this Earth for a reason. You will make a difference in many lives. And as for being ugly … think twice about that. Look closely in the mirror. Look inward and you will see that you are far from being ugly. You WILL transform into a beautiful woman. Trust me on this one.

Study hard in school. Do your homework. You are a very smart girl with so much potential, you just lack direction and guidance. You will find that you are capable of , and so much smarter than you give yourself credit for. You know what you want to do, who you want to be … DO IT. Don’t let people talk you out of it. You’ve always known … your heart has been telling you for years now. Don’t be afraid to go away to college … it’ll be a great adventure. And college is cake!

The children you desire to have are amazing! Oh my God, are they ever beautiful and so amazing. You carry your children within you well, and you are a good mother … so different from your own. Better, stronger, wiser. You are close to your children, and your children trust you. Don’t ever question why you were blessed … just know that you are. Know that you were blessed with them for a very good reason … just know that YOU ARE the BEST mother for them.

Never stop moving. Keep running, cycling, exercising, working out. You will find workouts fuel you. Without it, you are not you. By the way, you look AMAZING in your 40s, than most do in their 20s – just so you know.
As for the boys that passed you up … too bad for them. Know that they were NOT the ones for you. There will be many that come and go, that break your heart (and you break some, too) … just know that they are all leading you to the love of your life. You WILL become the woman that will turn heads, and make those boys wish that they hadn’t passed you up. He’s awesome, by the way, your husband. Everything you ever wanted in a man/husband. You are a good wife, and you have a great relationship. Not perfect, but no relationship is ever perfect. 
Keep writing. You love writing. Make your lists, write down your dreams, all of your goals and aspirations. Keep sending your friends snail mail. Your words are so impactful, thoughtful, meaningful. Your written words come to life, and people love how you write with feeling and sincerity.
Be happy. Life has a tendency to weigh hard on your Libra scales, tipping them off balance at times. Just know that you are so much stronger than you give yourself credit for. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually you are “balanced” … You ARE stronger than you believe. You bounce back quickly, and get yourself back on track. Ride out the rough patches and believe that all will be well. Always look on the positive side, and watch how you react to things.
You ARE beautiful. I know it’s hard to see it now, but you are. Even at 14 you are beautiful, but we’re spending too much time comparing ourselves to people and girls who don’t matter. Yes, they’re beautiful, but so are you! When you believe it, you will see it … you will see YOU and just how gorgeous you are. We are all beautiful in our own way, Baby. We are not meant to look like everyone else. You are beautiful as you, and you only get better. Really.  I’m not kidding …
Believe in yourself. You are strong, smart, powerful, capable, beautiful. You ARE. No matter what anyone else tells you, YOU ARE. What they think doesn’t matter, as long as you believe in YOU.  You posess a mental toughness and a tenacity that is to be rivaled.  You are resilient!  You are a very tough cookie! Don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t or that you can’t. Your mind is powerful, and I have seen it in action, taking you to places that you have never dared believe. Believe. You have to believe in something whole heartedly first before it can happen. ALWAYS BELIEVE in yourself!!!
Love yourself. Really. This is important. YOU matter. You are important; very important. But you have to love yourself. Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are loved, even if it’s only by you at that moment. As long as you can look into your own eyes and tell yourself that, you’re good. What everyone else thinks or believes means nothing as long as you have self-love, Baby.

Your life is good. You *really* have a very good life. You are happy, healthy, self-sufficient, self-motivated, goal oriented, independent, strong, beautiful, smart, funny … You are a good woman. Really, and you life is very, very good. You are very, very BLESSED!

Oh, Row., had I known all of these things then at 14, we would not have wasted so much time fretting and crying about it … But I know now that every thing, every person, every experience has all brought me to the place where we are at today. We are *exactly* who we are supposed to be, with the people who we are supposed to be with, doing what we are supposed to do … Know that. All of the answers that you seek are inside of you. You already know all of the answers. You already know.

Know that God does not make any mistakes.  You have a purpose.  You have meaning.  You have a reason.  And remember that God answers all prayers – be it yes, no, not yet, or I have something better in store for you.  Trust.

Live life. Have fun. We’re gonna be okay, really. I love you dearly, 14 year old Row. Row. Take care of us. I’ll see you when you get to me … 

Love, Row. at 422011


P.S. Don’t worry … you’ll be able to reach the pedals of any car that you choose.  You’ll be able to drive, okay?  Stop worrying about that!