The “Snow Grudge”

An extremely rare snow-filled day in New Orleans, Dec. 11, 2008

An extremely rare snow-filled day in Uptown New Orleans,  Dec. 11, 2008.
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

“You owe me snow!” Yes. Yes I do Olivia.

Aren’t all parent-to-child debts structured in this way, long term and complicated? Absolutely. There’s no simple interest here, only daily interest characterized by 2 Gs – a Grudge layered with compounding Guilt.

I introduce Olivia, my oldest daughter, and most favorite 15 year old girl in the entire world. It’s best to establish very specific criteria when referring to each of them to ensure they both get bragging rights as my “favorite” daughter. (Emma recently tricked her grandmother into saying she was her favorite, and in full CIA operative mode, managed to capture it on video – but that’s a story for another day.)

Olivia, in a very giving manner, is always willing to share her position statements, arguments, beliefs, and an accompanying arsenal of explanations, reasons and quick responses (the latter more commonly known throughout society as teenage blame/excuses). Well, her position was quite clear here – I owe her snow. And I do.

It was December 11, 2008 and New Orleans was experiencing a measurable amount of snow, which had only happened 17 times since 1850. Though it was snowing, it was also a work day for this busy professional…and I had 2 meetings in none other than Uptown and Downtown New Orleans – which required traveling right down St. Charles Avenue as seen in the picture above – while it was snowing. My kids, on the other hand, were at school. Well, stuck at school. They had called and asked me to get them out so they could see the snow, but mom was too busy that day. I really wanted to go to the meetings. I couldn’t leave them home alone, so I simply said no as any responsible adult would… and have regretted it since with much help from Olivia.

Emma’s class had originally scheduled a field trip that day that had been canceled due to the weather, so they let those little 2nd graders go outside and experience the snow, as recompense of course. Olivia’s class….not so much. She was relegated to the position of passive observer,  watching from a window in her classroom as the little children, including her younger sister, frolicked outside in the snow for a bit. If that wasn’t enough, her friends’ parents decided to hang me out on the limb alone (this is where she gets that blame thing) and check their kids out of school so they could play at home in the snow. Thanks for having my back guys!

What a horrible experience I put you through Olivia Frances. I’ve been filled with Guilt for years (or injected with it) and finally, this week, it was all about to change. After more than 5 years of being “in the red” with you Olivia, I’m finally able to pay up, so here ya go.  Here’s your snow – the debt has been paid. Sort of. Well, almost. Okay, not at all.

This is all I got baby girl! Some ice still around after midnight.

This is all I got baby girl! Some ice still around after midnight on January 29, 2014.

I mean, it’s not really my fault. I don’t control the weather, right? The meteorologists do, don’t they,  and they were wrong!!! Oh how I thought, prayed and hoped the saga would end this week.

It’s so sad to say that you must return to school tomorrow after these 2 fun-filled “Snow Days”. I love you Olivia. I do owe you snow and I’ll find it. I’ll make it happen!

….and the the Snow Grudge continues…

“Is that bad?”

Such an “Emma” moment it was. In fact, few can get away with some of the things Emma does…or says. Even Olivia has been known to pass from anger to laughter in a flash of a moment. On this particular night, I never got to anger. Sometimes, her quick wit eludes even the fiercest of tempers. There’s really not that much to the story. It’s just a good way to introduce Emma. She had asked me to study science with her earlier that evening, when I was finished working of course. Apparently she had a science test the next day. She doesn’t really talk much to me these days, unless she needs something specific, like a study partner. I’m first string for science, but not for social studies. We’re ranked like that – 1st string and 2nd string for various subjects. Her dad is 1st string for social studies as it seems I ask too many questions and point out her spelling errors to which she responds “This is not English mother!”

Tuesday had been a really hectic day for me and I had so much left to do that evening. Having just started a Masters program a couple weeks earlier (and 27 years later than the last time I was in college), I was feeling overwhelmed with class time, reading time, essay research, technology and this thing called APA formatting. Earlier that day, I had remembered that I had forgotten a project team commitment due EOD (end of day – which is quite subjective when you work in a remote environment). I finished editing the final product around 8:45pm. I was so anxious to get started on my 2nd paper, but Emma came in and reminded me about my promise to study with her.  With anxiety, I rushed her into the chair in my office and got us started.

As I’m sitting across from her asking her questions in support of her academic success (she’s quite the smarty), enduring complaints and feedback from her at every turn about the errors of my study partner ways, I notice her head – and eyes – facing downward to her hands, which couldn’t be seen. They were slightly covered by a blanket, which was my first and only clue. I’m a pretty smart mom. I know when someone’s looking at her phone. I do it myself sometimes during meetings. It’s so addictive – you hear that sound that tells you someone thinks you or your answers are critical to solving some world problem at that very moment. Anyway, I look at her with mom’s eyes and a mom tone and ask her what she’s doing. She glances up, looks straight at me with confidence and says “Don’t worry, I’m not texting. I’m on Instagram.”  Seeing the look on my face, she asks and answers her own question in that self-critical, yet not really regretful tone, one that only Emma can employ with some measure of success – “Is that bad? I think that’s bad.”

I started my paper around 10:15pm that night and worked well past midnight. I often do just about anything for my 2 girls. Is that bad? I think that’s bad.

How Fast They Grow Up….

How Fast They Grow Up....

January 20, 2014
I quietly entered the girls’ rooms tonight after they were asleep to give them a kiss goodnight. With sadness I noted how quickly they’ve grown from little girls to young ladies. The sadness is in the truth – the truth that I can’t hold them back. And the truth that they’re not really mine to keep; they’re a gift from God and my time to love, hold, influence, praise, shelter and just be with them shortens daily. If you think about the regrets, the should-haves, the mistakes, it merely takes away from the present, but it’s hard not to have thoughts and wishes of things you might have done differently. Not impossible, just hard, so I bury it in the moment. I was close to my mom, and still am, and I want the same for my girls and me…but relationships are each unique and can’t be duplicated. I will cherish what is special about the relationship I have with each. I will respect that my role is as mother, not friend, however difficult it is sometimes to have to choose the former, which definitely has momentary impact on the latter. I love them so much. One day, when each walks in the room of a child gifted to them by God, just to offer a never-to-be-known goodnight kiss, they’ll completely understand as mothers the feeling in my heart and mind tonight.