When I Go to My Mom’s House

My hubby, daughters, and I recently returned from a visit with my family in Pennsylvania. I was so glad that Baby G was able to meet my maternal grandmother, who helped raise me, during this time. They shared a heartfelt hello, and good-bye.

We stayed with my parents, as we always do. And as always, my mom made sure her house was ready for us. She put clean towels in our rooms, along with new clothes for the girls. (“Don’t worry about packing them anything!” she said.)

30_When I Go to My Mom's House

My mom has a second freezer in the basement. When we arrived, she began thawing the food she prepared for our visit weeks earlier: breaded chicken, lasagna, stuffed cabbage rolls, zucchini fritters, and—per Little G’s request—lots of cookies. I think second freezers in the basement, bursting with goodies like these, may be distinctive of families of Italian-American heritage. 🙂

Towels, clothes, homemade food … all creature comforts. Who wouldn’t love to “come home” to these things? What I love about my mom’s house, though, is that these things symbolize her caring for my family and me.

All this caring takes a lot of time, and a lot of effort. Of course, this is what moms do.

I remember a moment soon after Baby G was born, when both my mom and Stanton’s mom were standing with me in my kitchen. My mom was staying with us for a few weeks to help out, and I mentioned that Charlotte did the same thing for her own daughter about a year and a half earlier. Playing with the new baby’s older sisters; getting their breakfasts, lunches, snacks (so many snacks!), and dinners ready; making sure they were clean and well-rested. Plus hundreds of other things that moms do every day, from putting Band-Aids on boo-boos (including the imaginary ones) to calling a plumber because the kitchen sink faucet is dripping (again). Basically, taking care of everyone and everything.

“You both did so much,” I remember saying to my mom and Charlotte.

They looked at each other and laughed. “Well, we’re battle tested,” Charlotte said. It was something any seasoned mom could relate to.

As the years move on, I want to create the kind of house that my mom has, and Charlotte has. And I want to be the kind of mom that they’ve been to their children (four each!). I want my daughters to know our front door is always open to them and their friends, and later their families. I want them to know I’ll always take care of them, whether they’re 4 years old or 40. When you come to my house, there will always be plenty of everything. Just bring yourself.

Another hope I have is that my girls will be as close as I am to my sister and brothers. During this recent visit, my sister took time off from her job in New York City to be with us. At one point, Jenna handed me a cup of coffee along with a plate of my mom’s Jimmy Carter Cake and said, “OK, let’s go.”

“Where?”

“To eat and watch an episode of Fright Night Lights, DUH.”

I laughed and followed my sister to the nearest TV, coffee and cake in tow. Because we love simply hanging out and sharing a cup of coffee together (Friday Night Lights reruns optional). It’s the little things, right, friends?

Yes.

I hope my daughters develop a similar bond. And I hope that as they journey along with their own lives, they come back to my house to reconnect.

I’ll need to get my own second freezer one day.

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Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s e-books, available on Amazon.com. Writing at its most heartfelt.

Writing Anything: The 7 Writing Truths I Live By

Whether I’m working on a blog post or business proposal, I write by these seven writing truths. I hope they’re helpful for your own writing, from blog posts to business proposals and everything in between. Good luck, friends!

1. Practice “less is more.” When you write, use exacting language. Take your time picking out the just-right words and the several details that are worth including, that help paint a picture in your reader’s mind of the story you’re telling, be it fact or fiction. Norman Maclean, who wrote my favorite book, “A River Runs Through It,” was a master of the “less is more” approach. Check out the power in the simplicity of this passage from his acclaimed memoir:

“We had to be very careful in dealing with each other. I often thought of him as a boy, but I never could treat him that way. He was never ‘my kid brother.’ He was a master of an art. He did not want any big brother advice or money or help, and, in the end, I could not help him.”

Powerful, right? I try to write “less” as much as possible in my own writing, too.

2. Read a lot. And read lots of different things. Ideas for how to improve your writing can come from wonderfully unexpected places. Case in point: Slate’s “Mad Men” TV Club recently inspired the ending to a piece I was working on. I loved how John Swansburg “signed off” his piece here with the closing “Can we still go to Friendly’s?” (a reference to the “Mad Men” episode in question) and took a similar approach with my blog post “History and Memory in Relationships.”

Another unexpected source of inspiration: Sports Illustrated. Their writers have a talent for threading witty phrases through feature stories, so that you can’t help but smiling.

3. Write as much as you can. The more you practice your craft, the more certain skills and techniques become second nature. For example, the submissions guidelines for many publications prefer one space rather than two after periods. If you regularly space sentences this way, then you can be efficient when you submit your work.

4. Revise. When you have something to write, you should just start writing—extraneous details, “more” rather than “less,” and all. But when you’re done writing, take a breath. Step away for a moment. Finesse the finished product into something sound and beautiful.

5. Include; don’t exclude. When you’re revising, check that your writing welcomes as many people as possible, so that you can reach and inspire the broadest readership possible. The original title of my post above was “History and Memory in Marriage.” During my last revision of this piece, I changed “Marriage” to “Relationships.” Why? Because I believed that the spirit of this post spoke to interpersonal connections beyond marriage—also friendships and the bonds between siblings. And other kinds of romantic relationships, too, particularly those between same-sex couples. The word “Marriage” was acting exclusively here, and I didn’t want it to.

6. Make a connection. In a blog post, ask a question or two. “Have you had a similar experience?” “Tell me your story.” In a business proposal, use “we,” “you,” and “our” rather than the more hands-off “the company” and “the project.”

7. Keep in touch. Encourage feedback and communication. And when you get feedback, reply to those comments and follow up with any reader questions. And always, always share your contact info in an easy-to-access place.

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Melissa Leddy has been writing professionally for 10 years. She’s the author of three e-books, including the popular short fiction “The Moms.” You can follow her writing on her website, and connect with her on Twitter at @MMLWrites.

7 Reasons to Take a Summer Vacation From Facebook

Facebook LogoLately, my Facebook news feed has been serving up pictures of preschool, high school, and college graduations. Hello, summer, and summer vacation! And I’ve been thinking, maybe I should take a summer vacation from Facebook. Maybe you, too? Here are some reasons to consider a seasonal hiatus from that most popular of social media.

1. You just had your second (or third, or fourth) baby. In the midst of your sleep deprivation, you missed the deadlines to enroll your older offspring in enriching summer camps, classes, lessons, and the like. Thus, you will have no “Carter’s 1st day of LEGO Camp!” or “Audrey @ Dance Extravaganza!!!” pictures to share on your Facebook page. What would your Facebook friends think if they caught a glimpse into your real world—the kids watching “Frozen” in their pajamas until 11 a.m. (again) while you simultaneously feed the baby and prepare lunches of Goldfish and Welch’s fruit snacks (again)? Better give you and your family a breather from comparative picture-sharing.

2. On the topic of comparative picture-sharing … Your best friend from elementary school just posted a photo album of 283 “Unbelievable Memories!!” from her summer wedding and looks-like-paradise honeymoon. She appears thin, tan, and well-rested (sooo well-rested!) in every tropical-themed selfie. Meanwhile, your 3-year-old just told you, “Mom, your belly looks like it still has a baby in it!” (For the record, it doesn’t.) No way will you post your family’s latest “Unbelievable Memory!!”: a day at the local water park with you in your maternity swimsuit (still!).

3. And those upbeat status updates … “Grilling outside tonight! S’mores afterwards!! Don’t you just love the LONG DAYS OF SUMMA?!” Hmmm … no, not always. A sample status update from YOUR “summa”: “Baby slept 5 hours; I slept 3. Baby’s crying kept waking up older kids; everyone cranky. Now how will I keep everyone happy ALL DAY?”

4. Your old office friends accidentally included you in a group invitation to this year’s annual summer retreat at the Boca Beach Club. You want to Accept, Accept, Accept, and Declining is disheartening. Because of course you can’t leave your brand-new baby, and you can’t take him with you either.

5. Another invitation, to your college’s 10-year reunion. Ahhh, the carefree days of jungle-juice-fueled parties and sleeping in until lunch … compared to the present reality of juice boxes and 5:30 a.m. wake-up calls from the nursery down the hall. Better to not recall those sweet, sweet days.

6. Speaking of reunions, who doesn’t love family reunions? Mm-hmm, those stress-free get-togethers where everyone reconnects so well and doesn’t bring up past grievances and grudges … mm-hmm, right … If the reunion organizer mainly communicates via a “Family Reunion 2015!!!” Facebook group, and you’re on a summer vacation from Facebook, then you’re golden, sister.

7. Be present in your life. Really. It may be refreshing to peek out from behind the screen of your phone or computer—to be uninhibitedly present in your life, messiness and all. To take a break from comparisons with the imagery of your Facebook friends. To bow out of obligatory invitations. To revel in the chaos and joy of random dance parties in your living room and spontaneous, sticky-from-Popsicles kisses from your kids.

A summer vacation from Facebook might be as rejuvenating as a posh spa retreat (sorry, Boca Beach Club).

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Melissa Leddy has been writing professionally for 10 years. She’s the author of three e-books, including the popular short fiction “The Moms.” You can follow her writing on her website, and connect with her on Twitter at @MMLWrites. Melissa lives and writes in San Antonio. She and her college-sweetheart husband have two daughters.