Simple Little Bobby Pins

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As I went to put bobby pins in my hair today, I was caught up in the most amazing memory.
I’m looking in the mirror, and suddenly, I’m watching my mom roll her long, black hair around her finger and then, she uses a bobby pin to hold it in place. Although it is my face, my mom’s face reflects back at me and I smile. I feel eight years old, watching her, the way I did each night before bed for so many years.
Every night, my mom would put those bobby pins in her hair.
Dad, drunk, screaming and yelling, nothing stopped her, nothing he ever did stopped her.
My mum was an amazing, strong and beautiful woman.
She just sat there in her own little space and rolled up her hair.
What a bitter-sweet memory simple, little bobby pins brought to me today.

“I am so proud of you Mum, even more now that I am older, because I have been to war too. Now,  I know how hard you had to fight. I have fought the codependency battles. Your unconditional love and your strengths made me stronger. I love you and I miss you everyday.”

What Am I?


I am hard and I am soft.
I have sharp edges and smooth worn curves.
I am strength and I am weakness.
I can be broken, but I am unbreakable.
I will stand by you when you are wrong,
I will rejoice when you succeed.
I will stand by you when the world walks away.
I will leave you and I will always be beside you.
I will pull inside myself like a snail when you hurt me.
I will bloom like a flower when you love me.
I am a soft place to fall.
I am the hardest place to go when you have fallen.
I will always love you
No matter what you do or become,
You can’t lose my love.
I will smother you.
I will release you,
To explore your own strengths.
I will let you walk away if you hate me,
I will keep my door open if you want to return.
I will soul glide with you.
I will cry with you.
I will fight with you.
I would take a bullet for you.
I will make mistakes that will hurt you,
But no one could ever love you more.
I am where your life began and I am
Where you will always long to return.
I am not perfect,
But God thought I was perfect for you.
I am your mother.

(#2 SHE Saga) She’s Back

She’s back, but she has an entirely different attitude.
I’m sure God had something to do with that change.
She asked if she could hang out with me today, and while she admitted that she was sad, she said we could do something that made us happy.
So, I said she could stay. I know, I’m taking a big chance, but we’ve been together since I was born, and I do love her.
She has given me some of the happiest moments of my life, especially when she comes out to play with the grandchildren.
I’d been missing her anyway, not her emotions, just her company and her playful attitude. She’s the one who taught me to chase butterflies and to climb trees.
We sat down and tried to decide what we would do today, something that wouldn’t upset either of us.
I went upstairs to get a book and I saw a pile of my mother’s letters lying on a table, waiting months for me to scan and share them.
I was going to write today, but with the water department digging up the road in front of my driveway and an appointment to show my house at 1:00, I’m a little distracted. (Yes. House Fifteen for sale after barely a year.)
The minute I saw the letters, I knew what we would do today. I picked them up and read them as I walked downstairs. (I know…another crazy idea, stairs and not paying attention.)
As I read the notes, they brought tears to my eyes.
The pleasure of hearing my mother’s words speak to me once again, touching the paper she had written on, envisioning her sitting at her tiny kitchen table, with me on her mind, removed everything that was hurting me.
Touching the letters, physically pulled her back into my life for just a little bit.
I am so grateful because of all the things I’ve lost from moving too many times, I still have every note and card she sent me.
Her love and her admiration poured over me and I felt it as strongly as if she was standing beside me.
When I ignored her, she got restless and I had to ask her to go back to sit with my mum in Heaven. Yes. That’s exactly where God placed her when I released her to His care.
At least I am learning to share my personal space with her, without getting bull dozed emotionally.
l have been learning to set boundaries this past year and I think I left her for last because I knew she would be my greatest challenge.
Funniest thing about this day, thanks to Mum’s notes, I’m writing after all.

(# 1 SHE Saga) SHE

(#3 SHE Saga) What are we gonna do?

(#4 SHE Saga) Thirty Days

(#5 SHE Saga) She Forced Me Out Of Bed

 

 

Now She Has The Time…


Now, She Has the Time

by Grace Christine Doucette

Mother, I wanted to visit you today
But I was too busy,
other things got in the way.
I knew you’d understand and not complain
You never want to put me under a strain.
So, my days slipped by without seeing you
But, I knew you were there, in plain view.
Now, I have the chance
to come spend time with you
But you’re not here. “Mum, where are you?”
God had the time so he took you away
To sit and talk to Him and quietly pray.
He fills your time with companionship
That I unaware, had slowly let slip.
I missed seeing your smile
and feeling your loving touch
And I forgot to say, “I love you so much.”
Now I have the time, “Mum, where are you?”

A Note From Grace (My Mom)

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A NOTE FROM GRACE (My Mom)
When my children were growing up and got into their “teenage problem” years, I’d become exasperated with them. I’d think, “They’re just like their father!”
Then, one day the light dawned on me, (Marblehead) because after taking a hard, honest look at myself, I realized; they were just like me. The me I had suppressed and hidden deep inside, where no one else could see. I was as wild and rebellious as they, but I had put up a shield of adult perfection, striving to become the perfect mother that everyone expected me to be.
I have now learned that I need to let this child in me come out to play, or the adult becomes a cold hard shell. I must confess, now that I’m older, I have to do this through my books, and old TV movies.
My mind wants to run through fields of flowers with all my clothes flung aside, but my body slows me down to a stroll through Wal-Mart, wrapped in warm sweaters.

Arrived In Oklahoma

June 1, 1:07 P.M.

I woke up this morning knowing that I could run over to my daughter’s and have a cup of coffee. It was the most incredible feeling in the world. Like waking up on Christmas morning.
So, that is what I did and then we went to Wal-Mart and I bought a gorgeous, pink hibiscus and a couple of plants that she picked out. We also bought three quirky, pineapple glasses for the kids.
When I got back to the travel trailer, I got out my new bag of organic dirt and my plants and I gave them all some love and some water.
I re-potted a few and I replanted Jodie’s for her in cute little pots from my house in New Hampshire.
It was probably 90° and I just loved the healing heat on my skin. It made my aching bones feel loved.
I have been so tired of being cold, even in the summer, and I am loving the heat and the constant sunshine.
When I was done, I went inside and cleaned my little, temporary home.
After that, I took a long, cool shower, did my hair and laid on the bed with my puppies, doing Facebook and looking at WordPress.
I should have been looking at Facebook and doing WordPress, but oh well!
After few hours, I decided to take a nap and I fell asleep feeling blessed. I woke to my daughter texting me, saying, “come outside,” so I did!
She lights up my world and it was so unbelievable to have her outside my door on a whim.
Her friend Kelli, whom I love, was with her and they came in and sat down for a while.
Kelli said she loved my little home and as I looked around, I realized; I had made it a home, even if it was just for a few days. I had put homey touches all through the tiny rooms because today is only the day we have, and I knew that for a few todays, I would be living here.
We visited and when they were leaving, I told my daughter that she lit up my day by dropping by unexpected and I meant it with my whole heart.
Now, my honey is on his way from spending the day with his brother and he is bringing me and the dogs chicken for supper.
It has been a perfect day of physical rest and spiritual rejuvenation. I am grounded. I am home. I am healing.
Tomorrow at noon, we sign the papers on our new home and the hard work starts again, but I’m going to take it slowly, one piece at a time.
All the boxes are going in one bedroom and I’ll deal with them little by little.
God has blessed me so richly that I am overwhelmed and I thank him for this day and for all the wonders that I know he has in store for me with each day that he wakes me.
I wasn’t sure if I’d done the right thing pulling up my roots once more and traipsing across the country in a bouncy RV with everything I owned in a U-Haul behind me, but I knew when my daughter showed up at my door that my world was right and as usual God had led me in the right direction.
My grandson Jonas called me and thanked me for his new glass.
Then, Jodie called me and she told me that the kids said that their drinks tasted sweeter when they were drinking them out of a pineapple glass.
LOL
Amen.
And thank you, Jesus.

Notes From Moving


My little momma, throwing it together, beautifully as always, even moving a whole house. Super excited Jeanne Marie! I’m blessed beyond measure to have u moving closer. All the healing n growing we’ve done in past few years has filled a void I can never describe. It gives me hope of sharing myself with my own babies one day. Thank u for being my mum n my friend, love u always. Jodie Lynne

I’m so blessed to have you in my life as my daughter and as my friend and I love you to the end of the earth and back. Thank you for always loving me and for building me up…I can’t wait to have coffee with you anytime we want. I love you, Mum

So Small

My six-foot son hugged me and as he let go of me, he looked down and he said, “Mom, you’re so small. You used to be so much bigger.”
I told him that I was the same height. “You have grown. I haven’t shrunk.”
He said, “No, not that, I don’t mean your height. It’s just that I used to be so much smaller, so you seemed so much bigger.”

Christmas Remembering


As I unpack the Christmas decorations, my memories flow.
I feel my mom all around me because Christmas was my mom’s favorite time of the year. She is the spirit of Christmas to me.
I still see her smiling as she sewed. Doll clothes for presents and our handmade Christmas stockings with our names embroidered at the top.
I’m not sure why it was her favorite because it was also her hardest time of year, with my dad drinking and crazy and hating Christmas.
But, it was and she always made sure…somehow, someway, that there were a few presents and a lot of love surrounding her kids.
I’m thankful that she taught us that it was Jesus’s birthday, not get presents day.
I remember rolling hundreds of Italian Cookies with her, every year.
She packed them in tin cans and gave them away.
Sometimes we had family over for the holiday dinner. I always considered their presence a Christmas miracle because Dad would stop his ranting and raving for just a few hours. He would smile and talk like a sane person and it always amazed me how he could turn it off and on like the kitchen faucet.
I guess he must have known the insane screaming was wrong.
Why else would he have stopped the moment people came in to our house?
Yes, Christmas is a time for remembering and as I move on from my childhood memories, sweet and bitter, I remember my own babies and how I was a child myself when they were young. We grew up together.

I will not think of where I fell short.
I will remember where I succeeded.

I miss them. I miss those babies who grew up before I was ready to let them go.
Pampers and pacifiers, Cabbage Patch dolls and Lego’s. Hot Wheels and Strawberry Shortcake. Little hands rolling Italian Christmas cookies, toddlers growing into teenagers with big hair and big hands hanging KISS posters.
Far too soon, my children were in the driver’s seat, grand-babies and great-grandchildren were born. Years flew past me.
My best chance to be what they needed has been dissolved by time, time I thought was mine, but as I make memories with their children, I pray that they have sweet memories whisper to them on Christmas day.
If you have babies and children, remember that Christmas is a time for making memories and it’s not about presents, it’s about love.
Create the sweetest memories now, not next year.
Next year is not promised.
As the snow is falling outside your windows, and the Christmas lights are blinking on every porch, create the memories you’d like them to remember with a smile.

THINGS I WISH I’D NEVER SAID TO MY DAUGHTERS

You have to wear a bra!

You’re too young to shave your legs and I don’t care if all the other girls your age are doing it!

I read your diary. We need to talk.

Yes, there are microphones hidden in your barrettes!

If you didn’t take my green eye shadow, then why are your eyelids green?

I’m gonna kill you!

I’m your mother and your father!

Take down those rock posters or I’ll tear them down!

I don’t believe you.

Never let your husband see you without your make-up on or your hair a mess!

Don’t ever let him see you in the green face mask!

You have to try harder and look better, after you’re married.

Cook him a big breakfast and have his supper ready when he comes in from work.

Are you gonna let him get up and make his own coffee?

Tough luck, life isn’t fair!

THINGS I WISH I’D SAID EVERYDAY

I love you.

Let’s all go out and play.

I don’t care if you make a mess!

Go to college and get a degree, before you have kids.

 

Memory Clutter

I was finally in the mood to start some spring cleaning and I decided to begin with my office.
As  I cleaned, I realized why I held on to so many mementos and gifts from the people I love.
It wasn’t the actual notes or the drawings, it wasn’t the colorful gift bags with ribbons and bows that captivated me.
No, what I was struggling to fit into this small room, aside from computers, printers, writing, books, CDs, tapes and boxes of pictures were the moments when the gifts had been created and given.
I wanted back the happiness and the love in each child’s face when they had handed the gifts to me.
The pride in my mother’s eyes when she handed me her handmade crafts and the warmth of my sister’s hugs, the memories remained in the gifts.
After so many years, these items still triggered every emotion imaginable.
The metal sculpture my twenty-five year-old grandson welded for me when he was twelve, a green pipe with a bowl.
It had made my teenage son laugh so hard because he said it looked like a bong.
“Bong?” I’d asked. He’d laughed some more.
The toys from McDonald’s that my grandson loved to give me for presents. The man who spun like a top but could never stand up, the mermaid that he took for me when he could have had a GI Joe, into the Goodwill bag they went, but my hand hovered over a miniature Blue Fairy.
I remembered watching Artificial Intelligence over and over with my grandson and he was so proud when he found me the Blue Fairy.
The movie was about a little robot boy who wanted to be a real boy and he searched for the Blue Fairy to help him.
I couldn’t drop the Blue Fairy in the bag. Four out of five is pretty good, right?
The huge finger paintings with crackling paint. My once tiny granddaughter’s handprints with mine certainly had to stay.
The plastic sunflower my toddler grandson had presented to me…running up to me with his little fist closed tight around a treasure, he had opened his little fingers to present the treasure. “Flower,” he’d said, full of pride. When I saw it was plastic, I knew I’d keep it forever.
The poster created by pain and love that my baby sister presented to me the day after my suicide attempt twenty-eight years ago, that did go into the trash.
I pulled off the pictures, but the memory of that day and how much I’d hurt my family still burned.
Huge envelopes and boxes for each of my four kids and boxes for half of my fifteen grandkids.
What should stay, what should go?
Would they remember the objects and would the objects mean to them what they meant to me?
Would my son and daughter clean out all this junk after I was gone, moaning at my eccentric, hoarding habits? I didn’t know.
I set the bag of donations aside so I could repack it. Another box to be saved.
I just couldn’t part with any of it right now, but I could clean another room tonight.
Who knew spring cleaning could be so emotional?

Jodie Lynne and Me

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August 23, 2016

I sat on the front porch of a sober-living house this morning, doing morning group meditation with amens for everyone and everything.
I was surrounded by grateful, sober-living women. I am so proud of each one of these miracle walkers.
As I sat there today, I was reliving throwing my hands up to the sky in complete surrender and handing my daughter to God, so many times, but most of all of the day I started to plan her funeral as she lay unconscious in a bathtub in a dope house, 2,000 miles away, being held under the water in an attempt to either kill her or to revive her from an overdose.
That day, I wept with earth shattering grief as I felt the extreme reality of the pain that her loss would deliver.
And still…I was afraid that he would not save her anymore, because of all the miracles that he had already delivered to her and to me, but God does not give up, he does not falter, he does not say, “Oh no, my child! You blew it last time!”
My heart was so heavy and for the very first time, I was afraid to ask for yet another miracle, but I stuffed my pride and on my knees, I raised my hands to him.
“Not my daughter, not my daughter,” I sobbed.
I asked, I begged and I pleaded, sending my legions of angels to lift her from the tub.
Called my sisters so that they could send out their angels and prayers too.
God was waiting patiently for the exact moment to lift my daughter from the water, to fill her lungs with air, to stand her on her feet, to restore her life, to teach her how to walk again.
The same way I taught her to walk when she was a year old, one step at a time.
I could not save her but he could and he did.
I am extremely grateful for my daughter’s life, for the fact that she is one of these sober-living women, so very grateful for her sobriety, so very grateful that I dragged up the strength and the courage to hand it to him once more when all I wanted to do was jump on a plane and race to save her.
She would have been dead before I could have even packed a suitcase.
I am so very proud of you my daughter for grabbing on to his hands as he lifted you from the water and for holding on to his miracle with all your might.
So very grateful for the woman who obeyed God’s call to open sober-living homes and walked into the prison a few weeks later and shouted, “Where is Jodie Tiger?”
The very next day, she took my daughter’s hand (with the judge’s permission) and led Jodie to this sober-living house.
Thank you God, from the depths of this mother’s heart and God, I pray that you have a blessed day today too.
Love, Jeanne Marie

I See You

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When I look in my mirror, I remind me of you.

I see the pain you couldn’t hide.

I see the weariness in your soft brown eyes.

I see your careworn face beneath my disguise.

I see your strength as you faced each day.

I see the sadness that colored your ways.

I see the exact same streaks of greying hair.

I see your courage even though I’m aware

of times when your load was so heavy,

it was far to much for you to bear.

I see your wrinkles, I see your lines.

I see your shadow behind my eyes.

When I look in my mirror I remind me of you.

 

Another brush stroke added to The Big Picture…

 

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Many of you read my article about my daughter, Jodie Lynne, getting out of prison, The Big Picture, last week.

I said, “I am asking all of you who believe to pray for us. She is walking out the prison gates with nothing but the clothes on her back, a faith that God loves her, a belief that He will help her survive and a very strong desire to not return to prison.”

You responded with encouragement, support and promises of prayers…thank you so much.

I am thrilled to report that we got our miracle. One of many in Jodie’s Journey.

Her ex-husband, currently sober, has used his recovery connections to help her get into a recovery house for women. A very structured program designed to teach women to take responsibility for their own lives, while giving them a safe place to live. This is a big deal, definitely in the miracle category, because I have called recovery programs in the area and Jodie has already burned so many bridges that most of them wouldn’t even call me back.

When she is released, she will be taking a daylong bus ride back to Tulsa and as soon as she arrives, she will be going to the house for her interview. They have two openings and all she has to do is show up sober and say she is willing to follow the program’s rules. She will be accepted into the house that very night. She will not spend even one day or one night wandering the streets, looking for shelter.

She started crying when I told her. She had planned to leave prison with a list of shelters for the homeless and now she has a bed waiting for her.

If she wants to stay straight and stay out of jail, God has given her the opportunity. It won’t be easy, but it will be possible.

She has been calling me the last few weeks full of anxiety and nearly hysterical. I kept telling her that God had a place for her, we just didn’t know where it was yet and I believed that with all my heart, but nothing I could say calmed her down. I understood her fear, but this precious girl has helped me learn to trust God, so when I could tell her that I knew where her place was, my heart was overflowing with gratitude. I told her that I believed for her when she couldn’t and I reminded her that she has done the same for me.

Again, thank you for your encouragement, support and prayers,

Jeanne Marie

https://womenwhothinktoomuch.com/2015/07/05/the-big-picture/

 

The Big Picture…

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Hi! I haven’t been around my blog very much lately because I am in the middle of packing up my house in Florida and moving to New Hampshire.
Crazy as it sounds, I would rather be cold than hot and I am from New England.
I do have other reasons for moving. Still, I’m either insane or very brave considering the snow they had there last year.
So, the day that I close on my house in Florida is the same day that my daughter, Jodie Lynne, walks out of prison in Oklahoma.
I am asking all of you who believe to pray for us. She is walking out the prison gates with nothing but the clothes on her back, a faith that God loves her, a belief that He will help her survive and a very strong desire to not go back to prison.
I can’t go to Oklahoma on that day and I think God wants me to let her sort this one out because the timing means that I have to be here in Florida and not there with her.
Her dad and I have set aside some money so she can get an apartment, but not many landlords decide to rent to a felon, a felon without a job.
In spite of that, I am praying that God already has a safe place picked out for her. He can do that…I can’t.
Jodie and I are writing a book about how hard it is to make it and stay clean when you walk out of prison.
It’s almost impossible to start over when you have been stripped of everything but your life. Your children, dignity, self-worth, confidence and possessions, gone, and now you owe thousands and thousands of dollars in fines.
It used to be that you’d go to prison and work off your fines but now they not only add them on to your bill, they charge you for the services you require to stay free.
She has to pay to see her parole officer and she has to pay for frequent urine tests.
She owes $50,000 in child support and as soon as she gets a job they garnish her wages.
I will never defend the choices that landed my daughter in jail, but I will say this, people do horrendous things and walk away every day. All you need to walk away is money for a good lawyer.
She has no crimes against people, no violent offenses, just a bunch of petty crimes that added up to doing time as a habitual criminal.
Plus, Oklahoma has more women in prison than any other state and it’s not because they have the highest crime rate.
I make no excuses for my daughter, but as we have traveled the prison system together over the last eight years, I have realized that the women and girls who come out of prison are setup to fail.
I don’t know how anyone could come out owing about $70,000 and make it, excepting for a big miracle or a few medium size miracles.
My daughter is a beautiful woman, inside and out and when she is straight, she is my best friend in the world. When she is not straight, she is my biggest heartache.
I would like you to pray with me that she finds the strength and the courage to walk out of prison and stay sober, that she will find a job allowing her to pay her child support and fines, at least enough to stay out of jail. She doesn’t have a driver’s license because she owes child support, so her job options are very limited, confined to the area where she finds an apartment.
I never did understand how losing your license because you didn’t pay child support would help get child support from you. How do you get to work without a license?
And as for me, please pray that I stay strong as I pack about a hundred boxes, while trying to get rid of everything that I don’t care about because it costs too much to move it all and even some things I do care about.
I have to remember that in the big picture, possessions really don’t mean anything, people do.
I am moving for many complicated reasons, reasons that are far more important than fine china or knickknacks.
I care deeply about my writing, my books and my computers and even most of the books I own could go.
I’ve already gotten rid of hundreds of books and I pray for the strength and the stamina to make this move.
I am praying for the courage to allow my daughter to walk out of prison and stand on her own two feet.
My daughter and I are also writing about how going to prison damages the families of the prisoners, the parents and the grandparents, siblings and family members, anyone who loves them, moms who like me, never give up hoping and believing because they love their child.
Please pray that God and the angels cover our backs as we each struggle to do what needs to be done to change our lives for the better and please pray that we continue to move forward in faith despite the enormous odds that we have against us.
Amen and XO, Jeanne Marie

I Am She…

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I AM SHE
There was a time when my mother was middle-aged and me?
I was young and naïve, not a care in the world
the arrogance of youth was on my side.
I was a footloose hippie girl and I thought love was free.
Her skin was firm and tanned, black waves of hair fell to her shoulders
softly surrounding her fair face, bosom quite generous,
legs as fine as any model, she was my mother,
but with flower child simplicity, I used to call her Grace.
She was spirited back then, although she seemed quite old to me,
and how did I become imprisoned while she has learned to fly–a butterfly set free?
Tonight, as I glance into the mirror, my middle-aged face stares back.
Have I become her, and she, the child I used to be?
At seventy-three she’s still a beauty, but time’s fire has burned its’ trail
and when she had a stroke last year,
I realized how deeply she had aged; yet, become so childlike, so frail.
My firm skin, my shapely legs, will soon bow down to time,
much as my bell-bottoms and tie-up tops gave way
to blue jeans and then on to stretch pants and a baggy tee.
I will lose this interval named youth and as I look into her face,
I see my future and
I am she.

by Jeanne Marie
My mom went to play with the angels in 2009.

Happy Birthday Day To My Mum, Grace Christine 1926-2009

I decided the best way for me to celebrate today is to share some of my mum’s writing. I used to write a newsletter and my mum contributed poems and articles on a regular basis. I love you, Mum, and I know that even though you are playing with the angels, you still watch over me. Love, Jeanne Marie

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A NOTE FROM GRACE
W
hen my children were growing up and got into their “teenage problem” years, I’d become exasperated with them. I’d think, “They’re just like their father!” Then, one day the light dawned on me, (Marblehead) because after taking a hard, honest look at myself, I realized; they were just like me. The me I had suppressed and hidden deep inside, where no one else could see. I was as wild and rebellious as they, but I had put up a shield of adult perfection, striving to become the perfect mother that everyone expected me to be. I have now learned that I need to let this child in me come out to play, or the adult becomes a cold hard shell. I must confess, now that I’m older, I have to do this through my books and old TV movies. My mind wants to run through fields of flowers with all my clothes flung aside, but my body slows me down to a stroll through Wal-mart, wrapped in warm sweaters.

RANDOM THOUGHTS from Grace Christine
Life has taught me an important lesson. “Put your money where your mouth is.” I brag to everyone about my clever daughter and her newsletter. Her beautiful public letters to me fill me with pride. Sometimes they make me cry to see the love flowing between us, and it makes me feel so undeserving because I only did what any mother would do…I loved my daughter. I remember how I tried to convince my jealous husband (jealous even of his own children) that “Love shared is never divided, it is multiplied.” My love was multiplied by him, and my four beautiful children, not divided amongst them. The years have shown me the strength in my children, and while I may not like everything they do, I love them and respect their right to be themselves. They have taken some of what I taught them and rejected what they found didn’t fit into each of their life styles; but, the base of our relationships have always been that I love them…unconditionally. So, Jeanne Marie, enclosed is my donation for stamps, and although I love my gift subscription, I want to contribute to WWTTM. Love, Mom
Thanks Mom, and by the way, I’ve met far too many mothers who don’t love their children unconditionally, so take credit for the gifts you have given me. You do deserve it! Love, JM

MY MUM WAS A TOUGH OLD BIRD BY Grace Christine
My mother had a quick wit and she always had a snappy come back. One day at the doctor’s office she complained about an ingrown toenail. The doctor had started to perform the minor surgery when the nurse asked, “Aren’t you going to freeze her toe before you cut?” “No,” said the doctor, with a grin on his face, “she’s a TOB.” Turning to Mum, he asked, “Do you know what that means?” Mum snapped back, “A tough old bird.” Then, she added, “You’re a DOLL. Do you know what that means?” The doctor reluctantly admitted that he didn’t know, so Mum gave him the answer. “A Stuffed Dummy.” Behind the doctor’s back, the nurse gave Mum a thumbs-up for putting the doctor in his place.

 

 

 

 

Baltimore Stew From Grace Christine (My Mom)

grace peach

BALTIMORE STEW

From my mom, Grace Christine  1926-2009

I was born during the “Great Depression” in 1926. It was a sad and poor time for most of the people in our country. However; as a child, my world revolved around my parents and I was untouched by our country’s struggles.

My dad was a barber and my mother was a happy homemaker, in every sense of the word. My parents welcomed friends and relatives into our home, and fed the occasional strangers who knocked at our door, looking for a meal and a place to spend the night.

We had a small garden in the backyard which supplied the family with fresh vegetables all through the summer and enough preserves, jams and pickles to last the winter. The chairs around our table were never empty because my parents loved to invite people to share our meals, and I believe our company came for the generous measure of love and conversation that was dished out with the food.

Mum made cooking an easy chore and she always had a smile or a funny joke as she stirred her pots and pans. Her cakes and pies were rumored to have come straight from a heavenly source to our table. Saturday was the high spot of our week because it meant a trip to Boston for our weekly supply of meat and staples. My sister and I loved the little treasures Mum bought us, such as a pomegranate or an orange, and Dad’s favorite treat, chestnuts.

When I close my eyes, I can still see my mother at our kitchen window, and I can hear her saying, “Here comes Aunt Georgiana and the children. I’ll have to put more water in the stew and another potato in the pot. I should have made more pies!” (She might have had two apple pies cooling in the pantry, but she always wanted to have more than enough for everyone at the table.) Here’s Mum’s (Harriet/Great Nana) recipe for Baltimore Stew, our all time favorite!

Baltimore Stew

Put the following ingredients into a large, heavy pan.

Two pounds of stew meat, cut into small cubes.

Two pounds of fresh carrots, peeled and sliced one inch thick.

One small can of whole tomatoes. One large diced onion.

Two slices of fresh white bread, broken into pieces.

Three whole cloves. One teaspoon of salt. One-half teaspoon of pepper.

Cover with cold water and simmer for about three and a half hours.

Add one can of drained peas and simmer about thirty more minutes. Remove cloves.

Add two heaping tablespoons of regular tapioca.

Cook uncovered for fifteen more minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Serve with mashed potatoes.

As Mum would say, “Eat hearty and enjoy! There’s plenty for all!”

Celebrating My Mom’s Writing

Grace Christine Doucette, October 12, 1926-July 27, 2009

grace garden sit

Dear Jeanne Marie,

I’m dysfunctional? What’s that you say?

Well, I’ll deny it to my dying day.

I look at the world with rose-colored glasses,

It’s the men I find that make the wrong passes!

I’m so innocent, I believe all their lies

I think that’s true love deep in their eyes.

I see only what I want to be there

And accept love unafraid, not a care.

I function perfectly straight every day

And don’t allow reality to get in my way!

When I kiss my prince, he instantly

becomes a toad,

And I’m covered with warts,

alone on the road.

But I keep going, living my dreams,

Life just can’t be as bad as it seems!

Dysfunctional? Nope, not me!

I’m still waiting for my prince at seventy-three!

Guess Who?  (Love, Mom)

THE FLAME

by Grace Christine

How many times must a heart break,

before it falls apart?

How many times can we sift the ashes

and force the flame to start?

In the pain of loving and dying each day,

the smallest flame can light our way,

And as crazy as it may seem to some;

it’s the hope of love that’s yet to come.

So we bind the fragments together with

glue, and place our faith and hope with You.

You alone, can see the other side of life,

You alone, know the purpose

of our heartache and strife.

ODE TO THE MAILMAN

by Grace Christine

You keep the mail flowing between

my daughter’s house and mine,

It’s worth the price, for this way we find

That loves keeps alive with each letter

So tell me, sir, what could be better?

Through snow, rain, sleet,

or hot humid day,

We know our thoughts are on their way.

You guard our hearts,

sealed in white paper

And we trust your devotion,

what could be safer?

I just wish I could squeeze me

tight inside,

I know I’d be safe

throughout the long ride.

And when she opened

my extra-large letter

I would pop out and hug her…

that would be better!

Love ya dear, Mom

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle…My college essay on motherhood, 1994

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Are you crazy? Not yet? Well, you can always try motherhood! It worked for me. Okay, so most women love babies. Women are attracted to babies due to a very basic, maternal instinct. Reason and logic are only slightly involved in this picture. The longing to have a baby is so strong in most women that those who can’t conceive are devastated. Babies are so precious, all soft and cuddly, and they’re even more adorable when they start to smile and coo.

Additionally, there’s no sweeter fragrance than the aroma a baby sends forth, fresh from his bath, swaddled in a Downy soft blanket. Combine that with the essence of Johnson’s baby powder and rare would be the woman whose hormones could resist the “maternal urge.” You visit your friend and her new baby one afternoon. When your husband comes through the door that evening you say, “Oh honey, I want to have a baby!”

Well, I’m here to set the story straight and reveal some well-kept secrets about motherhood. I’ll tell you secrets that will expose the reality behind the charming, family portraits from Wal-Mart, those costly, cheap pictures we love to hang on our living room walls. The things that women who are already caught never tell to the women who are still free. Misery loves company and we can’t bear to see the smug expression on your faces as you say, “My kids are going to be different.”

Let’s start with the pregnancy. One night, you and the man of your dreams make wild, passionate love and as a result you become pregnant. (Sometimes, this occurs even when you’re using three different types of birth control. What a miracle!)

Pregnancy. An awkward word, don’t you think? Rightly so, because in about eight months you will be as awkward as your worst nightmare. By the ninth month, you can’t sleep more than twenty minutes without waking up to go to the bathroom. You’ll forget what your feet looked like. Shaving your legs will be a fond memory. You’ll be praying for labor pains and once they start, you’ll be praying for the strength to get out of those stirrups and kill the man who did this to you. As you begin to scream swears in the labor room (swears your husband has never even heard before) little does he realize, you are saving the superlative curses. They will come out of your mouth, unbidden, in the delivery room.

You’ll think, thank God, as the nurse lays the baby on your stomach. The doctor lets your husband (if he hasn’t fainted or run away) cut the baby’s umbilical cord and you both count the ten, tiny fingers and toes. One nurse takes the baby off to be bathed and another nurse kneads and beats on your stomach. (I kid you not!) They wheel you back to your room and you fall asleep thinking, it’s over. (No, I’m afraid it’s just beginning.)

You’ll be so sick of maternity clothes (designed by men who have never carried forty extra pounds around their waist) that you’ll give them to the first pregnant woman you see. Even if it’s your husband’s old girlfriend. Your husband might gently ask, “Why don’t you keep them for the next time, sweetheart?” and that’s when he will learn about post-partum blues. I don’t think I’ll give all the secrets away; let’s save the “baby blues” for a surprise.

The baby is home. Your friends and your family have left. Your husband has gone back to work. At that moment, reality rears it’s ugly head. You are out of diapers (the baby has soiled twenty-four since yesterday), so you decide to get dressed and go to the store. “Whose jeans are these?” you ask. “Why can’t I get my jeans up over my hips?” You double check the closet to make sure these are your clothes. In tears, you pull on an old pair of stretch pants and one of your husband’s sweatshirts. Get used to them. It’s the uniform of motherhood, and will soon be as comfortable as an old friend.

The baby pooped his last diaper while you were rummaging in the closet, and as you pick him up, he regurgitates down the front of your sweatshirt. (That’s part of the uniform.) The fragrance that your friend’s baby radiated the day you held it, is lacking in your infant. She forgot to tell you that babies don’t stay clean. You sit down, crying, and you call your mother. She brings diapers and advice. “Save your tears for when he is a teenager,” she tells you. “This is easy, compared to that.” You don’t believe her. You think maybe she’s just being sarcastic. (However; years from now her words will haunt you, as your child goes to school, learns to drive and chooses his own friends.)

I think you’ve got the general picture concerning babies. Let’s move on to my personal favorite. The terrible two’s. This usually strikes when the child is between one and two years old and lasts until he moves out. At the onset of this natural childhood disaster, he learns to talk and how to say “NO!” He may forget how to poop on the potty, how to pick up his toys or how to eat with a spoon, but he will never forget how to say, “NO!”

He will get into your record collection, he will get into your books and he will get into your child-proof cabinets. He will climb into the refrigerator at 6:00 a.m., but he will never climb willingly into a warm bath! He will climb into your bed when he is sick and vomit on you as you sleep. “Momma, I’m sick,” will be his excuse. ( Just because the child is six years old and knows where the bathroom is, don’t expect him to use it.)

Young couples fall in love and get married, usually thinking that having children will be the ultimate expression of their love. Survival of the human race is ensured by our urge to reproduce and by our raging hormones. However; if given a choice, how many women would actually go back and do it all again? Ann Landers took a survey on that subject and was shocked at the response. The majority of people who answered the survey voted no, they would decide not to have children, if they had it to do over.

Somewhere, there is a perfect mother who has raised healthy, well-adjusted children. She has balanced the demands of motherhood and a part-time job. She has never had any major problems with her teenagers. She has no guilt or regrets, and she is happy that she gave up her life for her children. When you find her, let me know, because I’d like to meet her.

Each child you bring into this world will brand you. My body bears the scars of my children’s births. I had three cesarean sections and my scars cover the area my bathing suit used to bare. (I’m not even going to discuss stretch marks.) I’ve been doomed to a one-piece suit for all eternity.

My heart and soul bear their own scars. Years of toddler temper tantrums, hyperactive children, teenage mutiny, rebellion, hard rock and rap music, they have all taken their toll. Clothes borrowed and never returned. Disappearing makeup. Teenage pregnancies that made me a premature grandmother. School meetings with various principals and teachers, meetings where I was made to feel like an incompetent mother. (As the years passed, I began to have my husband go to these meetings. They never yelled at him.) Motherhood strips you of your dignity, your rights and eventually your vocabulary.

Some women manage to save their brain and can take it out of storage after the last teenager moves out. With a little dusting, it can be restored to an adult brain. Warning: attempting this restoration with even one teenager still living at home can cause further damage! For example, when I asked my teenage son to turn down his stereo so I could do my college assignments, he told me, “You don’t need to go to school; you’re too old.”

What was he really saying? “I want my mother’s attention. I want her to cook me a big meal. I want her to clean my room and entertain me. Unless one of my friends comes by and then I’m out of here!”

He was also thinking, “You’re not a student; you’re my mother!” I was thinking, “You’re not too old to slap!”

Motherhood drains you, uses you up and leaves a huge hole in your heart when your children leave home. If your child gets pregnant or decides to abuse drugs, it will be considered your fault. Even if it isn’t your fault, you will eventually accept society’s diagnosis, because mothers are supposed to be perfect, in complete control. This theory does not allow for the fact that children have their own personality, outside influences and other people in their life.

When will your child become mature enough to thank you for all you’ve given him, given up for him? Usually, that doesn’t happen until he has children of his own. However; with daughters, you can be almost sure it will happen right after the birth of her first child. Maybe even during the delivery.

Sometimes, your husband leaves, long before the kids are grown. He has a choice. You do not. Your time, your energy and all of your resources will go into raising your children. Did I mention the mounds of laundry, the piles of dirty dishes and the mountains of meals you will cook? Well, that’s another story in itself.

There is a positive side to motherhood, but when your children are teenagers it’s hard to remember that fact. I enjoyed having babies and I loved staying home with them when they were small. As I watched my first grandson come into this world, I was overwhelmed with an incredible rush of love and excitement! It was breathtaking to see the miracle of his birth. My grandchildren are precious and by far the best gift motherhood has given me.

As I read Parents magazine the other day, I noticed that most of the articles concerned problems that arise when raising children and how to solve them. The title of this article really caught my eye: “Survival Guide for New Moms.”
So, even Parent’s magazine concedes, it’s a question of survival!

When you’re thinking about that beautiful baby you’d like to have, remember this advice–babies are easy to have, labor included, compared to the strenuous task of raising them. Your career will be motherhood, trust me. Everything else in your life will come second. I’m sure many women would disagree with my views on motherhood. But don’t even let them approach me, unless they have already raised at least one child.

Do I love my children? Yes, enormously. Would I choose to become a mother if I had a chance to start over? I’m not sure. I can’t picture my life without them in it, but my children needed so much more and I had so much less than what they needed.

Motherhood has taught me numerous valuable lessons. We learn how to raise our children by rock, hard experience and by the time we’ve developed the necessary skills, our children are grown-up and they have children of their own.

On the plus side, the experience does prepare us for grand-parenting.

Update, 04-21-2015
I have fourteen grandkids and three great-grandbabies. Their ages span from twenty-five-years old to four-months.