On Antiperspirant and Aha Moments

dandelionsShe’d just walked in the back door from checking on the neighbor’s dog.  Time to start baking treats for the church banquet and making calls to beg for donations for the school fundraiser,  in between loads of laundry.  She had the T.V. on for background noise, even though she didn’t have time to watch anything.

Her Aha Moment was delivered by the Power of Oprah, as so many Aha Moments are, these days.

She paused long enough to lean against the kitchen counter, a spatula in one hand, cell phone in the other.  She ignored the sound of the dryer buzzer while she let Oprah’s message sink in.

She would be turning 50 soon, and she finally realized that she’d spent her entire life in a flurry of activity trying to please, make nice, and earn love, all because she never really felt love coming from her mom.

After taking the clothes out of the drying, and de-panning the rest of the chocolate chip cookies, she sent me an email.


I finished the last line of her email, and walked into the living room with the kind of urgency usually reserved for kool-aid cleanups.

I asked the kids if I could interrupt.  They looked up for their clipboards and said, “What’s up?”

“You both know how much I love you, right?”

To which they both answered in a variation of, “Yeah, um… I’ll get to my room today.  Promise.”  Or, “I know.  I know.  I’ll get my skateboard out of the kitchen.”

I said, “No.  This isn’t that kind of I love you.  You know I love you, but do you know that I like you?”

Jenny said, “What’s the diff?”

“You know how sometimes people love someone because they are supposed to.  Like me, I love my dad because I’m supposed to, but there are a lot of times when I don’t really like what he does.  Do you know what I mean?”

They both nodded their heads and said, “Yeah?”

“Well, I want you guys to know that not only do I love you but I like you.  I like you in a can’t-wait-t0-tell-you-something-funny way; in a can’t-wait-to-see-what-you-come-up-with-next way.  I like lots of time to simply hang with you.  I like your senses of humor.  I like what you are interested in and what makes you tick.  I like your kind hearts, your sensitivity and your wise-old-soul outlook on the world.

I’m telling you this because we are going to hit a spell when I’m not going to be your favorite person.  When we are in that spell, I want you to remember that I really like you and love you.”

Then Will said, “Is something wrong?”

I said, “No.  I just need to burn that into your brains.  That’s all.  I’m done.”


Then I emailed her back and said something like, “I kind of know how you feel.  I have to believe that we all do our best.  I think your mom did her best, too, but she was handicapped in the  showing-kids-love department.  The dearest friends in the world can’t fill that hole.”

I told her that a couple years ago I was feeling pretty blue about not feeling loved.  I read something (Aha Moment) that made sense.  I found that unloved little girl inside me, gave her a ginormous hug and told her I loved her best of all.

I asked if she could do the same for herself.

Then I got in the car and drove to meet my dad for his birthday lunch.  I felt that familiar tightness and nervousness in my stomach.  I wondered, briefly, if I’d put on antiperspirant.  Yeah, I had, but there isn’t an extra-strength, turbo variety of deodorant made for these kinds of things.

I walked into the restaurant and looked around for a familiar face.  I was relieved that it was relatively dark inside – no one could see my pit stains.

The lunch actually went quite smoothly.  Talk was pleasant and superficial.  Perhaps I’ve grown up a little and found a way to not get my feelings hurt by his “lighthearted” sarcastic comments.

As I got up to leave, I said, “Hey, Dad, this was nice.  We should do this again.”

He laughed and said, “Yeah.  When should we get together again.”

I smiled and said, “How about my birthday?”

He said, “Yeah.  So when is your birthday?”

I said, “In eight days.  Remember, Dad?  It’s one of the two best days of your life?”

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  1. Good old Dad. He’s a peach. My hubby saw him the other day and said he looked pretty good – just a little negative. But that’s who he is. Gotta love ‘im.

  2. Pat,

    Yeah, I sometimes think my own tendency toward the negative is proof that this apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

  3. The conversation you had with your children was amazing. The magnitude of your love , your acceptance for who they are was conveyed beautifully. This, even though you may be unsure now, will resonate with them. I love both my parents dearly and I know they love me, yet I spent a great deal of my childhood confused by their actions, and their lack of emotion. How do you know how someone feels about you, how they truly see you, if they never tell you? It creates question marks, and leaves you seeking constantly. It’s important to have conversation, to resolve what you need for yourself, and to not take a lot of things personally as time goes by. Deep down it’s not about you. Unfortunately a lot of the time we learn as we were taught. With my parents it was okay to forgive them for what they didn’t know how to do, for what they were not shown, because now they are self-aware and can say I like you, and I love you more than words and reason. The difference from your dad’s negativity and how it relates to you in my opinion, is that you acknowledge the negative, you understand the consequences of dwelling there. And even if you think you have a tendency toward the negative, you fight against not staying there. For your children even in times when there will be spells (unavoidable) there can never be doubt of your love for them. It’s shown, it’s said, it’s felt. love & continued blessings my dear :)

  4. Kira,

    Oddly enough, my father tells me that he loves me, yet his actions don’t match his words. Or maybe they do, but I needed other actions. There always was a disconnect between what was said and what was done. Perhaps that is the reverse of your situation?

    Anyway, I think he and I have always spoken different languages. Have you read the book, The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman? I got a lot out of that book. We may think we are communicating love, but if it isn’t the language of the recipient, we miss the mark. I learned a lot about how I hear love, and how my kids hear their own love languages, from the book.

    My goal is to try to communicate to my kids in the way they best understand love, even if it’s not my first language.

    I love your comments. Can’t wait to refer people to your site!

  5. Jesse,
    Oh yes, the negativity of a father. I have one too. Why say something nice when you can cut your child with a cruel quip.
    The saddest thing for me is that he completely adored me until I grew up.
    I know that as he is aging I don’t have much time left to have him show me respect. I also know, that he probably never will.

    Your comments to Jesse are so uplifting & sum up the love she has for her children. It shines from these ‘pages’.

  6. Tina,

    I’m sorry. Not much can be said to help that hurt. I know.

    I always have to think that they are acting/speaking from their own place of hurt – that hole they’ve yet to fill. It’s hard to remember that when I receive another cruel quip, as you say.

    It’s nice to see you here again.

  7. You’re right Jesse. His mother was apparently the same :(

    It’s nice to be back. I’ve been busy nursing my elderly, beautiful cat, who sadly didn’t make it.

    I missed her so much that I had to add another kitten to my little family :)

    Much love x

  8. Tina,

    Oh, dear. Sorry for your loss. I don’t know what we three would do without the sweet feline that agreed to put up with us.

    And there’s nothing quite as delicious as a new kitten. Enjoy. ;)

  9. Thanks Jesse.

    Will you really be turning 50 this year, or did I read that wrong?

    I am, in July.

    I’m 14 in my head though :)

  10. Tina,

    The ‘woman’ turning 50 is a dear friend.

    I’ll be 49 next week. I’m probably about 14 in my head, too. Remember that? Not a care in the world other than whether ‘the group’ still liked me, or wondering if my jeans were the right ones. Of course, those were HUGE issues back then. ;)

  11. Tina, first I want to say sorry for the loss of your beloved cat. I have 2 so I can only imagine how tough that must be. They truly are an extension of your family, who love you unconditionally, no judgement I say. I am sure your new addition will fit right in :). Thank you also for your kind words!!

    In regards to your dad, you may never change how he seeks to do or see things. That’s the difficult part. We can’t control people, but the good thing is we have control over our emotions. We are entitled to be angry at what the person did or lack thereof, but don’t stay angry too long. Truly letting go is incredibly freeing, when you put the ownership back on the person. I hope you can let go of your hurt. You don’t deserve it.

    Jesse-Congrats on your upcoming bday, hope you fully celebrate & enjoy!!

  12. Kira,

    I love your sweet words for Tina.

    I love this little community here – so kindhearted, encouraging and warm.

    You guys are the best!

  13. Aaawww, thanks Kira. Your words were wonderful. I agree with you. We can’t change people, places or things. We can only change our reaction to them.

    Kira. Another mad cat lady :) I believe I’m becoming that crazy lady that lives alone with her cats. Guess what? I don’t care. I miss my grown-up sons, but I don’t miss the ‘narcy’ that for 16 years, I hoped would change.
    It’s soooooooooo peaceful :)

    Jesse, thanks for letting me share in this wonderful little community you’ve created


  14. Tina,

    You are always welcome here. ;)

  15. Jesse-i am so thankful I am able to share in conversation with you, and this great community here indeed. I often take something away each time I stop in & visit :).

    Tina-enjoy your stillness and quietness. There is truly great peace in silence and sitting with self. Right now I am flying solo, separate my cats of course, but I am enjoying my self discovery. I am glad you are no longer in a relationship that doesn’t compliment you, or fully acknowledge all that you are. I always say it is better to be alone and at peace, than in a relationship that robs you of all you deserve, genuine love & happiness. The good thing is when we do find ourselves in a new relationship, we will no longer accept less than. & until then we can simply continue enjoying our moments. For me I relish a day in, cozy blanket, nice cup of tea, a good book or great music, with my kitties snuggled beside me. It gets no better!! And any new participant would have to be in sync with my simplicity :) Love & blessings

  16. Kira,

    For me, I notice the return of a stressed stomach the minute I start to wonder if I’m settling.

    I love the freedom to be myself, pursue what makes me tick, and not have to rationalize or make excuses to anyone else.

    It’s about time!

  17. It is about time!! I love how our body gives us warning signs, a welcomed way to let us know when something isn’t right for us. Knots in stomach is very familiar to me. Here’s to doing things differently :)

  18. Kira,

    Yay! Here’s to finally listening to the body.

    I like to think it’s better to be a slow-learner than one who doesn’t learn at all. In my case, I’m pretty much of the turtle learning variety. Slow and steady sticks, tho. ;)

  19. Oh you two, you’re sooooooooo right.

    That horrible knot in the solar plexus (spelling?) that won’t untie, however much deep breathing you do.

    Give me kids & cats any day. So much easier to live with than adults.

    Jesse, I mostly brought my boys up alone & swear that it was easier.

    Now I too, Kira, have just me & my cat boys to share the house with.

    Did I cook supper? No. I had Ben & Jerry’s instead :)

    Have a great week ladies

    much love
    Tina xx

  20. I like to think we learn from experience, and definitely at our own pace :). Even if it’s slow & steady at least you get it. I tend to see things after the fact, more fully and in conscious mind. Maybe because I’m not in the situation or relationship anymore, I’m able to see with new eyes.

  21. Tina,

    I so know what you mean about it being much easier single-parenting. I do, however, wonder what it’d be like to parent with an evolved partner. I’ve seen it done, and it’s pretty amazing.

  22. Kira,

    For me, the trick is remembering all the stuff I learn and applying it in a new relationship, so as not to fall back into the same trap.

  23. Oh Dear Friend…. your words are spot on….. always searching, always pleasing…
    Happy Birthday week…… xoxo

  24. Annie,

    Thanks, honey. Yep, that searching and pleasing has left some pretty deep grooves in both our brains.

    love you ;)

  25. Deep grooves on our brains or lines on our faces :-)

    I love the words to that song:

    “All of these lines across my face
    Tell you the story of who I am
    So many stories of where I’ve been
    And how I got to where I am”

    I’ve earned each and every line.

    I wish I could share cake with you this year!

    Love you!

  26. Kate,

    That’s the only Brandi Carlile song on my iPod. I LOVE that song. (Must get more of her.)

    I love that we knew each other before the lines.

    I hope you find this sweet: Last night, your dad was up in his room. He opened the window, and yelled “Happy Birthday” at me through the screen – we were getting in the car. He took me by surprise. I looked around to see where the voice was coming from. At first glance, the thought that registered in my brain was, “Oh My! I see Kate’s smile and eyes in his face.” It was one of those quick glances where things register in a split second. I’ll never forget that.


  27. I do find that sweet – and I love his smile!

  28. I like to think of all the face lines as a sign of all the love in my life. Sometimes there’s sadness, worry, or grief over someone I love. Sometimes I laugh with someone I love. All of those emotions create lines. Do I have love in my life? A ton of it!! Just look at the lines!!

  29. Pat,

    I like your attitude. Funny how when I love someone, I don’t notice the lines. ;)

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