Archive of ‘Kids’ category

What could be better than Princess Dresses No Matter the Age

Having our office so close to Disney means it’s hard NOT to be inspired dressing the little ones! Next week, our grand daughter will be coming back for a visit to see us as their parents, my son and wife, go to witness the wedding of another set of Disney employees who met – just like they did – at Disney.  It will be during this trip that I hope to remind them that living 3000 miles away is NOT as much fun as living close by.

And of course, that means my little munchkin will wear our Cinderella inspired flower girl dress for the day because EVERY little girl should be wearing Swarovski Crystals. I will likely lose that point but at least I can dress Holly in her newest dress, a Cinderella Dress.  It is going to be hysterical because she is now walking so having our little munchkin walking around in her Disney princess dress made by my company will make me so, so proud beyond measure.

Will post soon!!

We recently made one for a very special and beautiful little munchkin who is “differently abled” and had it ready for pick up the same day. We do this often for these Special Needs angels who really steal our hearts. Disney merchandise doesn’t accommodate these special children (however, they are allowed to wear costumes even at older ages). We believe that even a girl who is Special Needs in her mid-thirties or a plus size little girl should still get to wear her favorite princess dress… and been doing so for transplant girls too who, because of steroids, tend to blow up, as well as various other children with special circumstances.

This was before we added her crinoline and cameo and of course, pixie dust. Her mom used a term I never heard before, Differently Abled….. I just can’t wait to see her in her dress. If you have questions, or need help to make your Princess’s day, contact us!  Please call for appointments.

 

Long time in posting

I realize I haven’t been posting in a long, long time.  But I don’t feel super guilty because one of my favorite blogs in the world, House of Turquoise has been just as bad. By the way, you should go over to Erin’s blog – it is one of the best especially when you LOVE turquoise as much as I do.  Like Erin whose hands got full with 3 little babies, I got full with my big babies.

Originally this blog was to be about my experience in the bridal business  (love), life in general (meaning busy family life), home (what renovations and projects are going on in our lives) and finally, work – because my husband and I have been in the children’s wear business creating flower girl dresses (pegeen.com) together for over 30 years at a time when most marriages don’t last 30 months.  Top top off all that, I am a pretty private person and don’t like to really put out there my life.

However, I decided that for my own sanity I need to unload from time to time.  Therapeutic, yes but in hopes of finding more information it’s not a bad thing to share these things.  I am a mother of two boys, one just got married 2 years ago and blessed me with my first grandchild a mere 12 months ago.  It was lovely that at first, being a new graduate, he was feeling out several careers and one day, out of the blue, after living in California, he and he very pregnant wife decided to move east and live with us while we hoped Bill would join our company and be the start of the next generation.  He, like his brother, suffers from Metabolic Syndrome and was found to have levels of insulin in his body 49 times higher than normal.  It caused a lot of concentration and personality issues during maturing but lucky for me, he picked the perfect wife who is on top of it.

Having that little girl here for 6 months was so rewarding, and helpful too because my husband was suffering with some severe complications after an injury from Hurricane Irma and ravaged by Type 1 Diabetes.  This resulted in many operations within the span of a year…. brain surgery (shunt), laser surgery to repair the bleeding in his eyes (more diabetes), a back operation for herniated disks, then the injury from moving sandbags (even though he sat on the dock, moving the bags of sand just a few inches) which resulted in a million dollar back operation.  Poor thing, two major back surgeries in one year, the second completely dibilitating, taking 7 hours to unwind the nerve which had grown around his spine, cleaning completely blown disks and spinal fusion.  So, having my son and daughter-in-law here to help move his body or help do errands and give us the pure joy of just having this brand new life to cuddle was wonderful.

Sadly though, a job moved one of them cross country and I haven’t gotten over the sadness since.  Yes, I am always busy with our business but the support I got from my son was something else beyond description.  It was a quiet respite and I never felt so happy everyday just to know that I had someone to take my mind off the constant worry.

But isn’t that what all moms do anyhow?  Worry all the time?  My youngest at school is an entirely different set of worry, as he has severe ADHD and being at an Ivy League school is, I am very aware, very difficult for him due to the amount of work load and the fact that it takes him 4 times longer than a normal student.  EVERYTHING has to be perfect for him to start.  We didn’t do drugs – or as he said at age 4 – “why drug me – I may be needing a high level of security clearance and I am far too young to be able to make those decisions.”  Imagine that was my 4-year-old telling the doctor who tested him!  This is an entirely different subject and I will someday go into everything I have learned and read. I will BRIEFLY say there is a brilliant series of Ted Talks by a Dr. Russell Barkley (books too) that help the three of us (me, his dad and my now-adult student).

My husband has a really hard time understanding it all – little things like – “why doesn’t he just write it down?” but now at 24, we still go to move him in and out of the dorm because that takes too much organization for him and found it impossible and I help with appointments etc from afar.  And no, I am not a helicopter parent – more of an Administrative Assistant (AA).  Next year, because we can’t afford a full time aid, we are going to get an apartment at school, his senior year, just to help make it easier on him and from time to time, one of us will stay there with him to assist with what normal kids can do on their own.  He just needs a full time aid at certain times and I found from the learning center at school, we will be one of three parents doing the same.  That’s my forever focus for him.

My dad used to tell me, your job (during college) is to be a student. So many tasks are difficult for him because he is just like the Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland – never enough time. So, if Jim or I can just be up there to make sure he gets his shopping done, or trips to the drug store, or just helping with the organization, it’s what we plan to do. Ah the miracle of remote offices and laptops.

Our job has always been to help him be ready for life on the outside of school but the Ivy League is very demanding and if he were in the real world, he would hire an AA.  So we are helping to make systems for him that I suppose we will just help in training his AA once he gets a job.  He is brilliant, utterly brilliant and anything we can do to help him become “one” with his disability, the better.  When my son finally decided in college to start taking these drugs and began to better understand their workings, it became a bit better but it still took us 5 years for him to find a doctor who works scientifically with Adult ADHD.  I forget the scale but if it were 1-100 on severity, he is about 105!  Best thing we did was to hire an executive coach we found at school for him, (that’s what she calls herself but really it’s an ADHD coach – and it has helped quite a bit on most days.)

It reminds me of the time when beginning in 6th grade he and his guidance counselor would sit on the floor with his back pack and just help him get organized.  By the time he was in 7th, we hired someone who worked a few hours on Mondays just helping with “systems” – learning aids that helped him to organize, setting up assignments and so forth.  By 8th grade, they met Mondays (to set up the week) and Fridays as a de-brief. We started a year ago with his executive coach and even though he didn’t feel he had the time he commented after a session a few days ago about how he felt upbeat meeting with her as they just resumed post-midterms.  Of course, by today it’s a struggle again however, it is a constant effort and that is what I believe is so hard for ADHD folks – the willingness to start again after failure, even if the failure is to forget to bring your calculator to an exam.  I have learned that patience and always remind him, (as I am his AA right now) – I am not here to judge, just to assist (as I remind him of something that you and I would not have trouble remembering.  The Metabolic Syndrome doesn’t help either because it causes memory problems.

He has many other issues as well and I am just burst with pride of his willingness to get back on his horse, so to speak, most time –  as I am of both my two kids.  His insulin level was 80 times higher than the norm and has some other issues that just complicate his life.  We are plowing ahead though.

SO, with all of this piling on, I still manage to mostly keep humor about it all.  The stress level for me is really relieved however by getting over to Disney about as much as one can.   One thing we do there is go to the lazy river and walk, not float, and I especially like Typhoon Lagoon because it is deeper than Blizzard Beach.  Research found that the resistance we get in our water walks is 4 times more resistance so I get through the exercising faster I suppose. Disney has that wonderful effect – it keeps me from going off the deep end, as if there was ever a deep end for me – and I find it brings my blood pressure down at least 20 points.

Anyhow – lot easier than sweating like a pig in Orlando temperatures!

That’s all for now.

Becoming a grandparent

I have had the most incredible ride this past year.  My youngest went back to UPenn after a medical leave (no biggie but we became “empty nesters”) whereupon his return to school meant that we found ourselves alone again.  Although we were sad to no longer have him bounce around the house,  however, selfish as it may seem, my house was always clean, nothing shoved in drawers and counters uncluttered.  For my anal-retentive self, it was wonderful. Laundry time was cut in half and food prep was simple, because there was none of that “making two meals”, one for us and one for Mr. Picky Eater.

Years ago, my father gave me the one-eye curse when I was 25 or so and came home unexpectedly with one of those “didn’t mom tell you?”.  Dad said, and I quote ” may this happen one day to you “.  It wasn’t that my father was upset I moved back home, but it really was more that, since I was the last to leave, they had everything they wanted in their house in order and for a father with a strong desire to have order, having me move back was the unexpected.  Naturally, the chaos that comes with a 20-something with an apartment full of stuff moving into their garage and spilling out everywhere else was hard for him to adjust to. Lucky for both my parents though, I was organized beyond a fault and that made the temporary return to the nest fairly enjoyable for all three of us.

For a long time, my father’s curse never materialized. Then it happened.  My son called me in early January, only 6 weeks from delivering their first born, said he felt really bad about my husband’s illness (Type 1) and severe back problems.  He had said that if we wanted him to help with my husband then his family was prepared to move the 1200 miles back home.  He would love to learn the business, take much of his dad’s responsibilities away from him and also help out with taking his dad to any one of his 11 doctors.  I was thrilled. My oldest son coming back with his wife and a new baby to live with us???!!!  Heaven for me.  Since Bill had pursued a business school degree and wasn’t interested in getting his, (entrepreneurship runs in his veins), I was happy to work some of his ideas for the business, especially now that the US Economy was on a roll, meaning, expanding.  (We still REALLY want to open a store at Disney Springs so this will be the start of moving those plans forward.)

Oh and did I say I am now officially a grandparent?  And now I have my father’s curse because there is chaos here at home.  There is baby stuff everywhere.  Drinking wine helps.

And a girl?  FINALLY??? After wishing for one we finally get our dream of dressing a little one in frills and bows.

And naturally, where does one go for her first excursion out – to Disney of course!  Our design studio is only a mile from the park so, we bundled her up, Jim in his wheel chair (he just had major surgery on his back two weeks earlier and was feeling better).  However, it was freezing and we had nothing to coordinate this munchkin in!  SO I am starting with designing a line of little dresses, perfect for those cute photo shoot for newborn.  Haven’t posted the pix yet for our latest collection of “Pegeen Babies“, but we are popping out new dresses all week long.

And, I am pleased to say that even though the hospital billed the insurance company for $187,000+, Jim is doing pretty good out of the hospital just two weeks.  Thank you Dr. Villalobus, an awesome Neurosurgeon.

Well I just can not win

That’s the bad news.  My oldest siblings get everything first.  Including nicknames. The good news is better however.  About a year ago, my oldest son got married. Then a few months later, went on his honeymoon to Hawaii. True to some family honeymoon tradition (hahaha)  they got pregnant with their first child. Unexpectedly, Jim and I found ourselves not only becoming new in-laws but grandparents-to-be.

Now lots of my friends have children much older than mine.  I didn’t start my family until my late 30’s so while my youngest used to beg me to dye my gray hair “Mom, people think you are my grandmom” he cried in first grade, it left the two of us young in spirit.  Then my oldest got married so young (for today that is) and well, soon in just a few weeks, I will be able to join that special club where you get to have all the lovin’ in the world and send them home.  (Who would want to?)

But, not feeling like a grandma yet, especially since I do color my locks every four weeks, I had to choose a name that didn’t say “old lady with now dyed hair”.  My sister chose “GiGi” and my other, “MiMi” which leaves me with only one name as far as I am concerned.

lollipop

How many of you all growing up in the 60’s remember this box?  It’s official, I’m Lolli and Jim is Pop – and this comes from a Mom who named her kids Bill and Ted for fun.  They took the good names, they won!

Always exciting to bring your kid back from college

As I wait to pick him up from his plane, thoughts run through my head….I wonder how fast I can get him to the barber!  I wonder, will I recognize the strength he now has that he finished another semester?  More importantly, can I get him out of bed the first two days he is home?

I baked his favorite cookies, his dad made him his favorite meal (spaghetti) and put clean sheets on his bed so there was no dust in the bed.  What a mom.  Let Christmas vacation begin.

I call it “SOMEDAY” – when your kid leaves for college again

Many years ago, when my oldest son was a toddler, I was watching a show on Oprah about Empty Nester’s.  About half way into the show, I became somewhat hysterical.  At the time, I had a UPS driver who was kind of excitable but loved Billy to death.  SO, that particular day, my driver came in to see me falling apart and all I could say was “Billy” and sobbed uncontrollably.  Well, Ricky, our driver, a good ole boy from SC was scared to death and ran to his nursery to see Billy cooing.  Puzzled, but relieved, he came downstairs to me to see what was my problem.  I continued my crying fest, wailing “SOME DAY”, still overwhelmed with what it was going to be like when my sweet little son went off to college.   I was hormonal (pregnant again) but still, that show hit me like a brick.  Luckily he was pretty close when he went off to school but it was pretty hard none the less.  My kids loved the story and would always tease me “Mommy, Someday” and fake tears.  Trust me, it always got me started and them a laugh.

Flash forward to now.  After a really nice summer we get to say goodbye again to our son.  It really is hard to let go of the deep love for them when they leave.  You find yourself looking around the corner, expecting them to trample down the stairs and miss the socks on the floor, although not that you have to smell them to see if they never got into the drawer (God forbid) or onto the foot.

We have had to take extra care with my son because of issues with both ADHD and the crippling difficulties he some times had in his high school starting, finishing, not restarting homework or papers. He has medical issues too so he has had to take off time on Medical Leave to get everything in control.  Yet I am really amazed at how well his University works with him.  They have excellent services and even though the student has to go and make the appointments it sure is different that when I was in college.

On many other levels, we have also had an excellent summer because this year we decided, due to medical issues, that it would be better if he didn’t work. That was of course after he did not make a deadline to get back to the company that was going to hire him.  (Another difficulty with ADHD students, remembering to check their phone, appointment calendars and messages).  “Take the semester off, you deserve it” my husband said.  So in many ways, after years and years of numerous AP classes and year round studies, we all felt that the pressure of an Ivy League school wasn’t pretty and he needed to face the start of the new fall semester fresh.  (Boy are his classes hard – I know, my husband and I sat in on one and thought the math professor was definitely speaking in foreign tongues, but alas – Calc5).

So instead, he helped me tremendously with our new website, with his own hours until he found his own routine, let his hair grow and stopped biting his nails.  I am fairly certain too that he played enough video games to NEVER touch them again (though he is good about not doing so at UPenn),  He also learned (because there are consequences after all) that working like he did for a small amount of money wasn’t as good as what he will be able to do in terms of a salary when he graduates.  Good lesson for a Millennial who would have LOVED to gone clothes shopping for new clothes for back-to-school, when the clothes you like are totally different than the ones you can afford. Although he never had any doubts about wanting to finish college, I believe he was learning that budgeting is different that all the things you truly want. (He’s actually quite good at it).

So, for the first time, my son really took off from studying – likely when school became super serious for him>  For example, in 2nd grade he took 6th grade math and read on an 8th grade level.  He was always pushing himself, competing with his other academic friends which was good.  He did a lot of work for me this past vacation, even helping with packing orders, and learning to prepare meals then cook them rather than me having to think about that during the week, was a great relief for me. Next summer he is doing an internship and like his past full time job at Disney, will be doing the 9 to 5 but honestly, he is so excited to be doing it in a field that he loves – building robots and mechanical engineering stuff for a mapping image company.  I am sure with each paycheck he will be going to the stores and checking out the clothes and then running over to the outlet malls and putting the math together of how much time it took him to earn that shirt.

A talk this week with a customer raising 4 girls (omg, the wedding costs) made me realize that our generation never really got the lessons in finance but in my house, if we wanted something, we worked for it.  I loved skiing – and from the time I was 13 when I made $.88 cents an hour plus tips, every ski ticket I bought cost me x amount of labor.  I am glad he took off time to learn this valuable lesson – true he didn’t work a full forty hours a week but he did learn that video games get boring and clothes are expensive.  This year, he also will live in a dorm suite with less cafeteria time and more in room kitchen cooking.  I know he is going to do great.  But, “someday” is back again and we will miss his smile every morning.  Well, his idea of morning that is.

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Pegeen Announces Their Wedding of the Year ~ AGAIN

Yeah.  Murphy’s Law struck our household again.  After spending oh, I don’t know a hundred hours preparing our for our wedding of the year contest – THEN my hubby who has Type1 Diabetes and shakes ALL THE TIME was so tired he put a screwdriver into that electric plug thingy to take out the battery.  OOPS.  Then I decided NOT to listen to my dentist of a few years ago and cracked my tooth in half.  NO MORE CHEWING ICE. THEN, as my web designer and I were preparing to launch our new mobile ready website – disaster struck.  (Thank God for full, overwrite protected backups)  29 breath-holding hours, we restored the website BUT, alas, I forgot to protect WordPress.  Dumb.  SO, here is my best attempt to re-write a story about my son and his new bride.  Here it goes at my attempt to re-write my previous post (Yes Rob, I saved it in Word.)


When my son Billy was pretty small, 5th grade in fact, he and I were sitting at rehearsals for his dance show, and he announced to me in a deep sigh, “I so want to be married”.  My son, you see, was a romantic and liked having his ducks in a row.  So, while at Disney working  after graduating from business school, he met his fiancée Juanita there although while they worked there they didn’t date.  Then Billy moved to California (sigh) to set out to conquer the world but they stayed in touch.  A few months after living there, and many calls later, they started dating. At first it was long distance as she had now finished her college internship program with “The Mouse” and moved back to Reno while Billy was living in Modesto. Luckily, they were just a quick drive from one another over the Rockies.  A few short months later, Billy announced he was engaged, and while we were happy for him, I knew that the picket fence was what Billy had long searched for.  Plans were for a wedding 12 months later, but after months of planning a Nevada wedding, we got a call from Billy and Juanita because, quite honestly, my son couldn’t wait to get married.  Like I said, this is something he dreamt about since, oh, I don’t know, 5th grade.  So, with less than 6 weeks’ notice, we found ourselves flying to Denver for their wedding in their new home town.  We all will be celebrating as planned this summer on the original date, but even though it wasn’t as I would have planned, it was the most intimate, loving and special day for me, yep a mom in the wedding business for all of these years.

I DO know how Martha Stewart must have felt when her daughter Alexa decided to basically run off and get married.  My son Bill did not quite do that but we were surprised when my son and fiancé decided to move their wedding from August to March.  But you know what?  Even though there were just a dozen or so guests, they pulled it off and it was the most intimate, wonderful occasion where we, his brother, dad and I – along with Juanita’s mom and her closet friends – pulled off quite a number of surprises. Lucky for us, this beautiful woman, my new daughter-in-law has the same heart of gold as my son and relaxed style.

And, as Walt Disney himself would say, it all started with a mouse.It all started with a Mouse

Of course I would be a bad mother if I didn’t say “MY SONS WEDDING WAS THE BEST IN THE ENTIRE WORLD”, correct?  But actually, we named their wedding our favorite “Intimate Wedding of the Year.”  Gosh, we had so much fun though at first I wanted to kill him because I was worried about my youngest mid-terms 2 days later (Teddy only flew in for 12 years). After all, mom’s never stop worrying about grades, huh?  I can’t forget what a nice time we had in the hectic hours leading up to his wedding.

Originally I had planned creating new designs for the 500 flower girls I was hoping they would have, but those plans went out the window when they moved up the date. As a surprise to Juanita, her sister brought her niece and on Thursday they let us know they needed a flower girl dress. I threw the bride’s color scheme for a loop because I brought along, after some alterations, my favorite dress from our Fairytale Collection (and my favorite color) and hopped on a plane Friday morning.  Frozen Fairy Tale Flower Girl Dress by Pegeen.com

The morning of the wedding there were haircuts (thank you Teddy for cooperating after no sleep), a quick run to Men’s Warehouse for better coordinating shirts and Tiffany blue ties, dry cleaners and some package drop offs (yeah, even on vacation I am always working).  At 5pm, we gathered together at a beautiful venue in Denver.  His cousin, my niece and her now-fiance picked up 3-sizes of the most delicious cheesecake (thank you Cheesecake Factory in Boulder) topped with a newly purchased glass topper of Cinderella’s Castle that Jim and I picked up Thursday night at Disney for a surprise!  After the ceremony, the 20 or so guests gathered at a restaurant for the Wedding Reception.  Oh, I was even able to sing to Billy the song we practiced around his dancing and performing days, “My Best Beau” to the guests and yep, barely made it through, sobbing.  It was really touching for me that he joined in.

SO how could I not include one of my children’s wedding?

Intimate Wedding of the Year

I loved their first look photo as they both said a prayer with the pastor. intimate-wedding-021

These two are never serious, his brother Ted served as Bill’s best man.

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Nice socks, Teddy!intimate-wedding-026

Always a Disney Dream.

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Eh… I did choose two other wonderful and beautiful weddings to be included in our yearly contest but for me, there was no other Wedding of the Year. I will be writing about them in our regular, Pegeen Flower Girl Dress Blog but this blog is really about Life, Love, Home and Work. And my crazy, loving family.

 

I’M A MOM OF A GROOM!!! WOOT!!

My oldest son moved to California in January, as far away from what he knew, to seek his fortune (I suppose).  As a mom of adult children, I have to say it is so exciting to see them grow on their own, not to mention, do their own laundry. Bill has been a terrific kid with one of the kindest hearts I ever knew.  As a one year old, he called everything he loved “mommy” using different intonations to mean different things, but what it mostly meant was “I love you” bird, cat, dog, uncle, candy, and of course mom.

billy

He loved to dance and as a former dancer myself, I took him to the studio where I taught dance classes and he took classes, in fact both of my boys did.  He had and still does, a very loving heart. He could sell the Brooklyn Bridge too.  In fact, while driving in the car, when he was only 5, he told his friend “my pop-pop was president of the United States”. (His grandfather was in politics so I guess it messed with his five-year-old perception).  Well he almost convinced me.

He not only had a great imagination and he also keenly needs to know that his ducks are in a row.  While in fifth grade, out of the clear blue sky, he sighed and said, “I so much want to be married”.   He and I called it the picket fence moment.  SO, it was really no surprise to me that once settled in his new state and into a job, Bill was ready to start on the quest of the wife and the picket fence.  Eventually, I got the phone call – “Guess what mom?  I met HER”. (He actually met her while they were both working at Disney World where we live only a mile from and they stayed in touch after she moved back to Reno.)  And so my son introduced us to Juanita…. well via Skype that is.

Over the summer, recently in fact, Bill brought Juanita to the east coast for us to meet her and attend my nephew’s, his “brother” cousin’s wedding.  We had talked to Juanita by this time, many times, so meeting her in person for the first time was like, well, we didn’t skip a beat.  She met our crazy family and didn’t run the other way.  She even listened to my husband, who has a penchant for over explaining, and listened to every word.  She passed the test!

SO, over the next year I will be blogging for sure about some of the preparations and of course our Pegeen.com flower girl dresses and ring bearer suit we will design exclusively for their wedding in Reno/Lake Tahoe.  As a mom-groom I am resigned to deciding on only the rehearsal party, but you can bet it will be over the top because, after all, this guy called everything “mommy” in part because he loved me to the moon and back.

Just a reminder – although we sell exclusively online,  if you are visiting Orlando, Pegeen.com Flower Girl Dress Company is located just 1.25 miles from Disney World.  Call to visit our factory or design studio. 407-928-2377

 

 

 

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This Guy’s Getting Married. Sigh.

Okay, so when Jim and i were first married, we said, just like that commercial, “We’re never having kids”.  Besides, I justified in my mind, I had three of the best ‘kids” who were more than rent-a-kids, they were my best friend’s (my brother) three children.  Two girls and a boy.  Perfect, I thought.  I could rent them when I needed that special moment and donate them back to their parental units when I had enough.  These kids were MY kids, I was pretty sure. We did Halloween trick or treating together for YEARS until they were too cool to go.  Christmas was a blast and in order not to MISS any moments, we occasionally showed up,  without brushing our teeth practically, in PJ’s so as not to miss their giggles.  (One year we ran out of gas and the State Cop was pretty amused when he brought the gas to us).  There were birthday parties and more.  I had a blast with my rent-a-kids and more.  Then, after we had our two kids, all five were fighting and playing along side each other like siblings.  Naturally too, we used my brother’s 3 kids as our models in our photos in Child Magazine and Martha Stewart and more… last year I boo-whoooooed all the way down the aisle with Jessica quite sure that Alan would be the perfect husband for my “first” born.  Now, Thomas is about to do the same with one of the greatest gals Bridget, and from Jersey too!  Perfect.

In just a few weeks, this guy is getting married.  Thomas.  Sigh.  One of the greatest “big brothers” ever known to my two.  I love you.

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Mommy Guilt

My husband and I recently celebrated 30 years together . Funny how I think that time stood still yet time flew by. Sometimes I feel like I am this entity that has messed everything up – like would have, should have and then, I remember, I did everything okay.  What is often said about mommy guilt is true, no matter what you do, you are definitely sure you screwed up your kid’s life.

It used to be that women wanted to have it all – those who influenced my generation were people like Gloria Steinhem, Shirley Chisholm, and to a smaller extent, Oprah Winfrey. But my personal role model was my mother, who made everything fun yet always believed in me and my father who, no matter how busy building his own law and political career, always seemed to stop when we ran into the room.  He also taught me to be a voracious reader from an early age. When kids my age were reading Nancy Drew,  I started on the Presidents and their families (probably because of his involvement in politics) and then moved onto the great industrialists. I read everything about the “big families”, the Vanderbilt’s, Mellon’s, Carnegie, Astor, Duke, Morgan, Rockefeller, Stanford, Flagler, Frick, Hilton and so many more.  I was particularly fascinated about how so many of their wives also became strong arms to their business entities. My dad always got a kick out of me knowing so much about all these families and how these companies grew.  I still remember going into our small-town library with it’s musty smell reading about these great business leaders. Trust me, I was just as interested in reading about Mrs. Astor’s First Four-Hundred as the reasons for the boom of Florida (via Flagler, Plant and Chipley).

Running a company was empowering. Wanting to “be the boss of my booth”, as my then- 6-year-old son whose concept of business was a 15×30 foot booth at the Jacob Javits Center where you were in charge, was what drove me. My father was a strong influence in my life – not for the patience that he showed us when he got home from work but from the deals and the meetings that he would have and how he could remember everyone’s name. It also felt as the time we spent with him as a busy father was very heartfelt.  I wrapped up what he taught me, what my then 60’s values were growing up and translated it into the business I have now.  I used to tell my employees that having the chance to run over to their children’s school play was just as important as getting deliveries out, embracing your kid home from college by taking off an extra day or two was exactly what they needed to have a profound effect on their child’s well-being.  All the while, I don’t know how I “picked” such a great husband but I am so lucky to have chosen the prefect compliment to my strengths and one that had no difficulty taking a back seat to my strong personality while still maintaining his.

My son, the oldest, also pursued a career in entrepreneurship. He went to business school and I will never forget, he asked me once, “Mom, why do you do this day in and day out?” My answer was simple. “I love it Billy, I love being the boss of my booth”. For the most part, it is fun and interesting and empowering. But it takes a special spouse to put up with it. Like my aunt who owned one of the largest dance schools in the east coast, I always wondered, did my Uncle Johnny mind being called Mr. Marcia? Its the same thing for me too. How do couples work together everyday without killing each other? Still show respect at the end of the day, especially when the woman is the boss? How did these things affect my children? I always worried, would they adjust to strong women or hate them?

I suffered from so much mommy guilt as if I didn’t give my two children enough of me and now that I am this “empty nester”, I realize, I gave them so much.  These two great kids also gave me more. Working for myself has been hard at times and infrequently a strain on our marriage.  But the one thing I know, even though I was positive that I destroyed my kids life at times with the long hours and role reversal, I enriched theirs by giving them a strong role model for women.  I am beginning to see that what they learned is, that to be in love, is to find a partner who is just that – a partner.  Someone to share decisions with, even when it is not easy to express the opposite opinion – to work out the kinks in daily life and to change the idea of normal roles for a mom and dad – these were the things that were important for my husband and I to teach our children.  I think this valuable lesson about having the right partner, I learned, made it easier to deal with my tremendous mommy guilt.  Photo c2009

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