Friday June 16, 2017

We now have three cars and three people working in this house, so it's a bit like Grand Central Station!

It's only going to get worse when Erin starts her summer volleyball workouts with her Mayo teammates next week. After playing on separate teams this spring, it's time to get the band back together.

Erin has started her first ever job, work for the City of Rochester Park and Rec department as an instructor with the First Tee program. She's teaching golf and life lessons to kids every day from 7am to 2pm. So far, five days in, she loves it.

She had to join the real world by filling out a W-2, agreeing to a background check, all the fun stuff that goes along with being hired. Good life lessons for her.

Luckily the job is flexible enough to fit her busy schedule. She gave them the days she could work, and they said OK. This was one week where she was available for all five days, so nothing like jumping right in.

Erin came home and shared a story yesterday. She had this pair of sisters in her group and Erin thinks the younger one has the chance to be better than the older sister. Anyway, the younger one was confessing to Erin that she never beats her sister at anything and that the big sister is always better. Erin told the little girl "My big sister is better than me at most things. But not at golf." The little girl's eyes lit up and said "Really? How much older is your sister?" "Two years, same as your sister is to you." The little girl was happy and said maybe golf will be my thing.

Erin teared up as she told me. It was the first time in a long time that I heard Erin sharing any Shannon stories with someone who doesn't already know. Erin's life since Shannon passed has been filled with people who know her story and nothing needs to be said.

But, as Erin gets closer to leaving the nest, she will need to figure out how to include her sister in who she is, how to share and when. Writing a college application essay will happen soon, and Shannon is maybe on Erin's mind. It's quite a story for Erin to tell. It's part of who she is today.

Yesterday, a Shannon and Erin story was enough to make a little girl's day. Perfect.

Another exchange yesterday was a little more light hearted. Erin has a 30 minute lunch break and she send me and Dan a photo of her and the other instructors sitting around a computer monitor, watching the US Open golf tournament during their break. Dan, who is in FL at a sales team retreat, quickly responded with a picture of his laptop with the US Open streaming on it. Second later, I sent them a photo of my "office" - my laptop on the kitchen counter with the kitchen TV tuned to the tournament!

Father's day weekend is here. This will come as no surprise, but Dan wants to play golf with me and Erin and then watch the final round of the US Open from the comfort of our family room. Works for me...

Monday June 5, 2017

Today was a day filled with all the things that make parenting the toughest job in the world. Wanting what's best for your kids, wanting them to achieve their goals, wanting them to reap the reward of their hard work.

Erin had an amazing junior golf season, becoming her team's number one golfer, making all conference for the second year in a row and breaking 80 for the first time with a career best 77 at the conference tournament.

The section tournament is a two day event played on a difficult course in Cannon Falls. One team and 5 individuals qualify for state. Erin was 7th after the first day, putting herself in a position for a shot at state. When all was said and done, she missed a trip to the state tournament by one stroke. One damn stroke.

Erin is only a junior and will have a chance again next year, but that's not a discussion for today...

Now, Erin has felt pain worse than losing out on a state tournament bid. But she should be allowed to just hurt like any kid would in this situation. Not everything should have to be viewed through the lens of losing Shannon.

Knowing how much she would hurt made Dan and I hurt. Erin kept it together as well as could be expected. In the comfort of our home, she let it go... the disappointment is a weight she will carry for a while, I'm sure.

But, today was also a day to celebrate my kid. Erin tried the best she could. She kept fighting even when it wasn't going exactly as planned. She rooted for her playing partner from Winona, who is a friend. She birdied the last hole to give herself a chance. She was happy for her teammate who made it. She was happy for her senior teammate who shot a personal record today. She thanked Papa Harkins for coming to watch. She hugged her coach through the tears and thanked him, too.

At 16, you don't feel that being a good person is more important than going to state. That it will serve you well in life. At 48 (almost) I have that longer view perspective. It doesn't make today less painful,   really, but it does give me hope that there are bigger and better things ahead for Miss E...

"You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you" - Mary Tyler Moore

Wednesday May 24, 2017

Erin had a goal this golf season - to break 80 for the first time. As Erin explained to her non-golfing friend, you want to get the lowest score you can!

Erin had been breaking 40 in some 9 hole meets, but hadn't been able to "go low" in an 18 hole event. Here in the O'Hara household, you'll hear lots of golf lingo. The three of us are always trying to go low... I'm afraid my days of glory (if I ever had them) have passed me by. Dan and Erin are both better than me now.

On Monday, Dan walked and watched Erin in the Jewel Invite in Lake City. She played some really good golf, but had a couple tough holes at the end and finished with 82. Still, her best score of the year.

Until yesterday. In the Big Nine Conference meet at Mississippi National in Red Wing, Erin shot a career best 77, including a one over par back nine. The MGG team had it's best ever day under coach Myhro shooting 333, and finishing ahead of Winona and Northfield, two teams we lost to during the regular season. MGG finished second as a team behind state champion Red Wing.

It was my turn to walk and watch Erin yesterday. It sprinkled and rained most of the day, but neither of us cared.

People ask me "Do you watch a golf meet?" If you're like me and Dan, yes. There is nothing more enjoyable - and nerve wracking - than walking along for 18 holes and watching Erin play. I got a little melancholy yesterday thinking there's only one more year in Erin's high school career.

All that's left of this golf season is the Section Tournament starting June 1st. But, we've got some ground to cover before then...

Dan left yesterday for a 9 day tour of Michigan: Work, then play, then more work. After this week's work is done, he has a guy's golf weekend at a Michigan resort with a championship golf course. Then, to make the most of his time, he will stay in Michigan early next week to see customers again. 9 days is a long time to be away from home, even for a traveling salesman. I hope he packed enough underwear...

There are just eight school days left for Erin and then finals. She's got two physics projects, a Human Geography final project, and AP Literature final project and then exams in Math, French, and Physics. Oh, and she misses two of those 8 days for the section golf tournament!

Junior year is a crusher for kids, so I'm hoping she can make it to the end relatively unscathed. She's close.

Erin's got a summer job lined up working at The First Tee, teaching kids golf lessons. She's got a full slate of volleyball and golf laid out for the summer as well. We talked about senior pictures and college applications and... uff da... I need to stop. One thing - one day - at a time.

As for me, I'm just doing my thing... working and running the homestead as best I can. Everybody's happy so that means, I'm happy, too. It's a mother's role. And I'm OK with that.

Mother's Day 2017

Happy Mother's Day to all who mother, support mothers, are mothered... that means all of you!

Today doesn't feel bittersweet as it has in the past. I don't have an explanation. I don't miss Shannon less than I did last year. Maybe it's the passage of more time. Maybe it's my ongoing work to stay in the present and enjoy today. Maybe it's Miss E who is thriving and allowing me to really enjoy being her mother. She thanks me often and tells me she loves me every night before bed.

My own mother is back in Minnesota now, and able to be present for things now - holidays and Erin's activities. We have the three generations together more often now, and that feels good.

So, today is a day to feel good about who I am and where I'm at and to celebrate the fact that I'm being the best mom I can be.

This week gave me a chance to see my kid in action, doing things she loves.

Erin had her best day ever on the golf course, shooting 38 in a 9 hole meet on Thursday. First time she's broken 40 in a competitive event. When Dan and I were saying to her that it's too bad she didn't get to play 18 on that day, her response was priceless. "No, I'm glad it was only 9 holes. I finished bogey, bogey, bogey so I was kind of captain crumble!" That made us laugh.

The other big activity of the week was Mayo prom. Prom is not just a dinner and dance. The necessary steps to get to the dinner and dance include: going with your date to get his tux and accessories to match your dress, ordering flowers, getting your nails done, getting your hair done, having a friend do your make up, getting dressed together with friends, then pictures in a pretty location, more pictures at the school with other friends who weren't in your initial picture group, and on and on...

It is fun to see them all dressed up and looking beautiful. Erin's group included her two best girlfriends, Lexie and Liz, and her best guy pals as well. Erin and her friend, John, looked lovely together.

While they look stunning in their formal poses, my favorite pictures of the night were Erin, Lexie and Liz and their lovely spirits on full display...

With friends like these, Erin's life is good. Seeing my kid happy makes my life good, too. 

Happy Mother's Day to me...

Thursday May 4, 2017

I awoke this morning to bright sunshine. It has been many days since I remember that sensation! We have had a gray, wet spring so far, but it looks like a nice stretch of weather through this weekend. Thankfully, we will have time at home to enjoy it. Life has been a whirlwind lately...

Last week, Erin had a golf meet Monday, then went to volleyball practice. I'm not sure how she's maintaining her grades, but she is! Thursday, her volleyball team headed to Minneapolis for a 3 day, weekend tournament. Erin stayed behind to compete in Thursday's golf meet and then would join her team on Friday morning.

Thursday the temp barely reached 40 degrees, but the girls played. It snowed on them. They kept going. There aren't too many high school sports that require 4 + hours of concentration in extreme conditions. If you can play high school golf in MN, you can do anything!

Erin finished her round at 7pm, shooting 85. She was the meet medalist for the first time in her career. After that, home to shower, eat a pizza and pack. The alarm woke us up at 5:30am and we were out the door at 5:45, headed for the Minneapolis Convention Center. 13 hours after finishing her round of golf, Erin was on the volleyball court competing with her club team.

When Erin made the decision to play on this off-season volleyball team, we knew it would be tough to juggle it all once golf season started. But, Erin's goal is to be a contributing part of next year's varsity volleyball team at Mayo, and this is her way to get the touches she needs to improve. She is determined, and mama bear here will do whatever I can to help her achieve her goals. Even if it means driving to Minneapolis at 5:45am on a Friday!

The weekend volleyball tournament was fun. I stayed downtown Minneapolis for a little Jen-cation. Dan, who got home Thursday night just in time to have pizza with us and say hello and goodbye, stayed home to care for the pets and have some down time as he is traveling again this week. The hamster wheel is spinning quickly for the O'Haras right now...

But, it's all good. Our jobs are good. Erin is doing well in school and managing to juggle all her activities with success. What more could we ask for?

Just a month left in Erin's junior year of high school. I keep reminding myself to soak up every minute of it and enjoy the ride...

Wednesday April 26, 2017

I listened to an interview this week with Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook executive and author of "Lean In", who lost her husband suddenly two years ago. She and psychologist Adam Grant have written a book "Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy" and her interview struck me to my core.

It reminded me of so many feelings from the early days and feelings I still have today. Guilt over feeling happy, anger that never goes away, the permanence of the loss. But good feelings, too - resilience, perspective, compassion and gratitude.

It reminded me to take stock of where we've been and where we've managed to go. Option B is a perfect title. We all have grand plans for our lives and we think we know what's ahead. Then the world turns upside down. When option A no longer exists, what do you do? How do you reset your vision?

We all face adversity and deal with grief in our lives. And when those we love are dealing with grief, often, we don't know how to help them. Sandberg and Grant share words of wisdom.

Take a listen:

Sunday April 23, 2017

Ahhh, the sunshine and some down time does wonders for the soul. We have had a weekend at home, time with friends, time on the golf course and a few home cooked meals. Good to slow things down every once in a while.

Erin, however, does not let any moss grow under her feet. She is back to full time driving, still in the Lincoln, but we are hopeful that the RAV will be done this week. She is driving herself to school, to golf practice, to volunteering, to friend's houses, and to half price apps at Applebees.

Yesterday, she went to the golf course to practice, then to the Mayo HS baseball game, then to see her volleyball teammate in the prom grand march at St. Charles, came home briefly and changed, then off to the Mayo lacrosse game and over to friends houses after that. In true teenage fashion, she arrives home just in time for her curfew. As it should be, I suppose.

We are in the push to the end of the school year now. Overlapping golf and volleyball seasons continue. This week will have two golf meets followed by three days of volleyball next weekend. I need to stay young and in shape to keep up with Erin. (Let's be honest, I am neither!)

This warm spring weather is one of my favorite times of year. The promise that it brings - new blooms, better days ahead - is a metaphor for life. You weather the rough stuff and keep the faith that the tide will turn.