Tag Archives: motherhood

Even the Acknowledgments Made Me Laugh

by Peggy Browning

by Peggy Browning

I’m a follower of Peggy Browning’s Fifty Odd blog, so buying the book was an easy decision. I knew I’d laugh. I knew Browning would make me think and make me thankful for what I have. I had no idea I’d experience the full spectrum of emotions as I read. I took my time with the book, savoring each chapter like a weekly treat. It’s a collection of columns much like Sharon Randall writes, so Fifty Odd lends itself to leisurely reading; however, the deeper I got into the book, the more I found myself wanting to know more. Those weekly treats weren’t enough. I ended up reading the last half of the book in two days. Browning shares so many truths in this story. From love to loss to body image to motherhood to grandmotherhood to bucket lists, Browning delivers vignettes that touch the heart. It’s definitely a collection I’ll return to again and again. When you get to the end of the book, don’t forget to read the acknowledgments. Don’t read them first! Get through the book so you understand. When you close the book you’ll smile to yourself and you’ll cheer for Browning who chose the road less traveled.

I highly recommend this book, especially for women. In fact, I think I’ll buy another few copies for gifts.

Fifty Odd: Viewing Life After 50 Through Rose-Colored Bifocals by Peggy Browning available on Amazon.

Not a Victim: YA Saves

Dear Meghan Cox Gurdon,

I get you. I don’t agree with you, but that doesn’t matter. I get your fear. I get your horror. I get that trembling in the dark, looking up at the ceiling and praying to God almighty that your kid doesn’t go through the beyond belief nightmares in so much of today’s YA.

I get you because every year I see parents realize the truth of the world we live in through the eyes of their children.

Drug abuse, incest, rape, suicide, cutting, eating disorders, bullying, dating violence, pregnancy, abortion, adoption, gangs. They’re all there in the halls of the high school. Sometimes hidden, sometimes in your face, but there. Always.

They were there when I was a teenager, and that was a million years ago. They were there when my mom was a teenager a few years before that. They’ve been there forever, but the further we get from the age, the more we forget, the more we wax poetic about the “wonder years.”

The truth is the world is a dark place, but thank GOD, we’re  talking about it instead of hiding it away and pretending we’re all Little Women. Thank God we get to read about people who win against the evil out there, who find inner strength they never knew existed, who triumph and say I Am Not A Victim.

I get you because I’m a mom and my daughter just made it through to the other side of the teen trauma years. That time scared me, it scarred her, but in the end, we know those scars are what make all the difference. She claims them. She holds them to the light and says she can make it through anything, and she’s so right. YA encourages that mindset.

Are you right to want to protect kids and their innocence? Yes. My God, yes. That’s part of motherhood. Will keeping them from the darkness of The Hunger Games, et al do so? No.

I still get you. Do you have the right to determine what your kids are reading? Yes. Will you know for sure? No. I can’t tell you how many of  my students “weren’t allowed to read Harry Potter” but knew the books inside and out. Should you be aware one way or the other? Absolutely.

Dark YA serves a purpose. Sometimes that purpose isn’t so life changing. One of my students read a book about cutting and was able to cry for hours over her parents’ divorce. She’s not a cutter, never will be, but she connected with the emotional desolation of the character. Other times, the society changing purpose might not have been the intent of the work, but it’s still the outcome. Words like rape and incest don’t have to be whispered any more.

So yeah, I get you. I don’t agree, but I understand.

Find Gurdon’s article here.

NPR segment with YA author Maureen Johnson and Gurdon


P.S. Years ago we ran a package in The Chronicle about teen pregnancy. A reporter shadowed a new mom for two days. Another wrote a story about a girl who gave her baby up for adoption. Another wrote a story about a girl who chose abortion. Over half the faculty signed a copy of the paper and a note letting me know I was encouraging teen pregnancy by allowing my students to write the stories. One teacher came back with an apology and a card with this quote inside: “I may not agree with what you say, but I shall defend to my death your right to say it.” The quote applies here.

Sleepless Nights

When DD moved to Huntsville to go to school, I spent weeks staring at the ceiling in my bedroom worrying about her.
What a difference three years makes.
Then, I looked at her and saw a kid. Today, I see a young woman.
She moved home after a year, and I was thrilled.
In February she moved out, and I was thrilled. 🙂
The first thing she did when moving home was get a job at the local Starbucks. She was promoted to shift manager this month.
She’s always marched to the beat of a different drum. You can see that in all the blog posts over the years. She’s an artist and an only child and, I’ll admit it, I spoiled her. We both paid the price for that, but it all worked out okay.
I’m so proud of the young woman I see today. She’s still finding her way, but I don’t spend hours staring at the ceiling worrying these days. It’s not that the worry isn’t there. It’s more I know she’s grown into a responsible person who makes solid choices.
I’m proud of her, and I can’t wait to see the future holds.

Growing up

I didn’t do her laundry this time.
Until she went away to college, I hadn’t done her laundry in years, but for some reason that simple chore became my lifeline of sorts, the way I stayed okay with the fact that she was packing up and moving on with life, a life out of my house, out of my control, out of my sphere.
I’ll always be her mother, but everything has changed.
So for the first move in August, and the next for the Hurricane Gustav evacuation and the next for the Hurricane Ike evacuation and the next for Thanksgiving, I’ve done her laundry.
But this time I didn’t.
I want to. I want to do it all: the laundry, gas the car, pack…but it’s time to stop. She needs me to stop.
I didn’t expect it to hurt this much.


You would think after almost sixteen years of this I’d have it figured out. But no. Huh-uh.
Last year dd lost her glasses in a field at my mother’s house. Imagine two people in a huge red dirt pasture of nothing but freshly tilled rows. That was dd and me searching. For hours. To no avail. Less than 24 hours after she’d gotten them.
This was the third major purchase loss after two retainers the previous year.
So you’d think she’d know don’t take stuff like that to her grandmother’s. But no. I just got a phone call. Her new glasses–the ones I spent entirely too much on two months ago– are broken.
I guess my teenager is in sore need of being treated like a baby. And I guess she’ll get just that.


12:46 a.m.
I’m wrapping up my writing for the night, finishing the final cup of coffee, thinking through tomorrow’s scenes. Excited.
Phone Rings.
“Mom?” Static, giggles.
“Crap! I thought someone was dead.”
“ohh sorry.” (No you’re not! You’ve lived your entire life with me and my worst case scenario brain!)
“Wait there’s a bat.” Pause. giggles. “Okay. Mom.”
“Can you check out the weather? The moon disappeared and we were wondering if there was an eclipse.”
(Because an eclipse is a weather event) TV on. Blinks. A lot.
“I can’t check out the TV. It takes twenty minutes to warm up.”
“Oh yeah.I forgot. Hey is anything happening in the news?”
“Just Judith Miller’s still in jail and Rehnquist is in the hospital with a fever.”
“Oh. Two judges, huh? Well, I’m going to go. See you tomorrow.”
“Okay. I love you.”
“Love you too. Oh yeah. My fingers are white and I’m coughing again. Love you. Bye.”

From who died? to what? to she’s so smart, to great,she’s got pneumonia again in less than a minute. My day is complete and I haven’t even gone to bed yet.


woo hoo, thank you LORD!

1400 yearbooks out, only three angry parents. I’m one happy camper!
It’s been a little crazy in the Lee household these days. One more week and I’m a full time writer for 2 months. I can’t wait. My goals: to flesh out my inspirational and finish my YA paranormal. Life is good.
Life really is good. It’s something I sometimes forget in the midst of all these crazy days. This week one of my good friends found out her husband has terminal cancer. Last month he went to the doctor and was diagnosed with a little stomach virus. This week that little virus turned out to be a few weeks, maybe months, to live.
I’ve been gripey these days, complaining about my crazy life and the horrible hours and whiny students and a witchy hormonal teenager who loves me one minute and wishes I’d fly away to the moon the next. This helped put things in perspective.
I’m gone the next three days on a writers retreat with friends. My goal is to write…LOTS. My friends will be plotting. I don’t plot first all that often, but I like to help them.
Life is good. 🙂

An experiment

Yesterday as I talked about my love for language I realized I hadn’t written poetry in years. Today while working hall duty I decided to try a little free verse just to see if I could capture the rhythm of language. I have no idea if that poetry would touch a place in a reader’s heart. But I do know, it touched a place in mine. I wrote page after page of a journal type exposition that captured the flavor of that poem. I don’t have the words with me today, but I’ll post them later just to remind myself and maybe show others how a simple exercise with words, a word play of sorts, can inspire so much more.
There’s so much more to the craft of writing than writing. But the writing is the most important part.

*I’m in San Angelo this weekend with a group of awesome kids. We’re competing at the academic regional competition tomorrow. DD is competing in headline writing and I’m so excited.
This trip has marked a huge change in our relationship. I don’t know if it was earning the spot to compete at regional by winning at district or if it’s just a little maturity, but for the first time she’s hanging out with her friends and waving bye to me. I should simply be proud that she’s growing up, but I guess I’m selfish. It hurts a little. It’s just another part of motherhood I’m learning. I bet the lessons never really end.

The Weekend Update.

I’ll never forget my last true temper tantrum. It was horrible and loud and angry and at the end I got smacked by my mom and a talkin’ to by my grandma.
The smack from my mom wasn’t the last.
The talkin’ to was.
This was the day and age of feathered bangs and bright blue eyeshadow. The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders were my heroes. I wanted to be JUST LIKE THEM, (or maybe, if not them Miss Arkansas or Miss Texas) even though I couldn’t do a cartwheel to save my life and my somersault was, let’s just say, SCARY!
The Oklahoma summer was in full hundred degree plus bloom and my grandma had decided to have a garage sale.
It was my first garage sale.
It was NOT FUN.
And my mom gave me the feathered haircut by putting my hair up in a ponytail and, snip, it was gone.
I don’t remember what set the tantrum off. I don’t remember what was said. But I do remember what happened afterwards. And I’m not talking about the smack. I needed a lot more of those before I was done growing up.
My grandma, the sweetest, kindest, most Godly woman I’ve ever known, sat me down and we had a little talk about anger.
Seems my anger issues weren’t the first she’d seen. She’d had a few herself.
I about died. The only time I ever saw her angry was when she and Grandpa would have their “moments” at the lunch table.
She gave me some advice and even though I didn’t use it right away, I did eventually.
She told me that day that the only way I would ever get past the anger was to work at finding peace every day. She said my mouth was a bad habit. She was right.
The last three years I’ve been reliving the mouth stage, only instead of the one saying the words, I’m getting to hear them. Today I shared my grandmother’s advice with my daughter. Times are different now, and I might ought to use the old smack technique, but I can’t do it. But grandma’s advice was some of the best I’d ever been given. I don’t know why it took me so long to share it with my daughter.

I gave four workshops this weekend at our state journalism conference. In three of those conferences I said something I absolutely believe even though it sounds so exaggerated.
High school journalists are so incredibly important to their campuses. They ARE the voice of their entire student body. They are the record keepers for the year. More and more, we’re seeing student voices quashed. In this day of zero tolerance and random drug testing, rights are taken away from kids on a regular basis and slowly but surely they’re beginning to NOT CARE. What happens next? WHat about when they’re in charge of upholding a constitution they no longer understand? It’s a scary world out there. I’m going to do my part to make sure my students understand the dangers in this type of thinking.

I’m participating in a BIAW this week. Hope it goes well.

Some days

Weigh in: I lost 4 1/2 of the five pounds I gained last week. Thank God! Now on to more losses. 🙂

Today after my workout I walked into the locker room and heard a mom and her teenage daughter arguing. Mom wanted to know why teen daughter bothered coming with her because she never wanted to workout, she just wanted to interrupt mom’s workout. Teenage daughter whined, told mom she was wrong and continued to interrupt.
I know. It sounds like no big deal. But for me, it was HUGE!
I’m always beating myself up for being a bad mom. I mean ALWAYS. This conversation let me see a few things:
1.) DD and I have a perfectly normal relationship.
2.) Teenagers have mouths. They’re not nice all that often. Take advantage of the nice times and hold them close to your heart. Within a couple days it’s back to the norm.

A long time ago my mom laughed and laughed when she realized how hard headed my dd was. She got the biggest kick out of telling me I’d earned this one.
I had no idea what she meant…for all of ten minutes. And that hard headedness doesn’t go away.
But what does happen is I grow as a mother. And as I grow I learn certain behaviors are normal. And I learn to choose my battles. And I have a blast watching dd grow up. DD might be heard headed, she might be what my mother calls a super-duper-strong willed child, but I wouldn’t change her for anything in the world. Not even for the last twenty minutes of my workout in peace.

I’m going to Austin this weekend for my state’s scholastic journalism conference. I’m so excited, but MAN, what a bummer too. Friday I got an e-mail from New York Times UpFront asking me to sit in on the editorial board meeting. They were willing to PAY for my trip to NYC, my lodging, my meals, a Broadway play. Now, while I realize I just got back from NYC, saying no to this was TOUGH! I mean, I had to pass up the opportunity to sit in the offices of the New York Times. Just the thought gets me all hot and giddy. I’m totally not joking. I have the same reaction to newsprint and the scent of ink as others do to chocolate. Okay, so the truth is I have the reaction to chocolate too! 🙂 Of course, I’m sure editorial offices at NYT are NOTHING like other editorial offices I’ve been in. But surely they still have the great newspaper smell I know and love!
Anyway, I had to pass up the opportunity because I already have eight kids ready to go learn and get revitalized for next year and no way could I tell them I was passing. Besides I’m teaching four classes at the conference. That would’ve been a little sorry dog of me. Hopefully UpFront remembers me and invites me back!
One good thing about this: I get to write this weekend. At least I figure I get to write. I usually write at these things. 🙂