Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Love and politics Part 1

I went to be last night feeling sick to my stomach.  At last night's Planning Board meeting the lawyer for AcuteCare (the dishonest company from Lakewood who snuck a drug rehab facility into our town a few months back without our knowledge) screamed at our planning board, threatened to sue the town and said there's nothing Oceanport can do about this latest project they want to shove down our throats, an 85-unit affordable housing project inside an abandoned hospital on The Fort. 

My husband, thoroughly disgusted, began looking up house listings in Fair Haven. 

Not so fast, buddy. I have a life here. I have amazing friends and so do my kids. I lead a cub scout den. I'm in a tennis fivesome with girls from town. I have the best neighbors in the world. 

This is my home. And I'm not giving it up without a fight.

I never thought that I would get involved in local politics. As I  try to write compelling campaign copy, invite people to meet and greets and find myself terrified at a microphone in front of 350 people completely out of my comfort zone, I shake my head at how I got to the point where I would choose let my free time be consumed working on a political campaign for a write-in mayor and councilman.

But it's either this -- trying to make it better -- or we move elsewhere.

And I really don't want to move.

I guess it boils down to love.

I love my town. I want to keep it great.  It's my home. 

And you don't stand by and watch when you feel your home is in trouble.

You don't listen and wait. 

You don't blindly trust it will all work out.

You defend it.
I don't want to be doing any of this...I have to do it. I'm compelled to do it.  I feel I have a responsibility to my town to try to make things better.  Blame Greg and Pauline. My parents raised us to do our civic duty, whether it was attending jury duty with a smile or volunteering for the local fire company.

I'm not comfortable with the way the Fort property is being divvied up and FEMRA's presence there.  I'm horrified that we now have a drug rehab facility that somehow was issued a Certificate of Occupancy without anyone seeming to know a thing about it.  I'm daunted by the notion that the track could close, taking 28% of our town's tax base with it. And over the past several months I've become frustrated. Last night was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.

As my husband Big A says "It's time for a regime change."  Both John Coffey and the current mayor are nice guys. Both are smart. Both are passionate about Oceanport. But we can only support one of them for mayor and that's John Coffey. The one we believe is best for the job given the current set of dire circumstances and challenges we face as a town. 

I gave this a lot of thought and prayer before I got involved. And I did a lot of research. I urge you to do the same even though you will have to read many pages of minutes from town council and FMERA meetings over the past year.  Don't do it without several cups of Rook coffee by your side.

I'm supporting Cullin Wible for write-in candidate for councilman because he's the smartest guy in any room and he's not afraid to respectfully debate anyone. Cullin has a wife, two very young children and a job as a CFO of a huge company and yet in his free time he's been attending every town, Board of Ed, Planning or FMERA meeting and knocking on doors to win the respect and votes of fellow citizens. He asks insightful questions and does the work. I've noticed the current town council has already taken his advice on a number of items, from his suggestion they bring in a map of The Fort to making the town council meetings accessible to everyone. It's clear Cullin knows how to lead. He's already leading. If elected, there's no telling how much he'll benefit Oceanport. 

I have no idea who's going to win this race.  It's anyone's game and that's why every vote counts. So much hangs in the balance of the outcome of this election.  

And yet no matter who is the victor, we're all going to still live in the same town the next day.

So I try to be careful and responsible with my words. I wish everyone could adopt this practice.  It's politics -- don't make it so personal. The former friend you now won't speak to could very well be working the bake sale with you at the PTO Fall festival. The man you defriend on Facebook may be the EMT called to your house when your elderly mother takes a fall.  And how awkward would that be?

You want to destroy the fabric of our town over what?  A local election?  Because someone isn't voting for your guy? 

In Oceanport, we're better than that, aren't we?  Aren't we?

I can say I love vanilla without insisting that chocolate is wrong and hope that it dies a slow and painful death. (Perish the thought!)  I've always been comfortable in the grey area. Not everyone is.
Some people need someone else to be wrong for them to be right.

I'm trying not to be that person. Please -- don't you be that person either.  You won't like yourself in the morning.

But remember how high the stakes are.

Don't be the person who decided to stay out of it and then complain about the outcome as you sat by and watched and let others do the work and take the risk.

Stand for something or you'll stand for nothing.

Stand for something or you'll fall for everything.

Take a stand in a way that feels right for you...a way that allows you to rest your head on pillow at night and say "At least I gave it my all."

Defend your home.

And get involved, ask questions, talk to your neighbors and attend meet-and-greets.

And please cast your vote on Election Day and save Oceanport from ruin.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Worst Commercial in the World

I have discovered the worst commercial in the world. 

It deeply offends me on behalf of most of the parents in our generation.

Here is the link to the 15 second spot in all its glory
but this is the gist.

Basically, in this spot for Embassy Suites a young mom is directing the omelet chef to make her child's omelet just so, not by speaking but by gesturing at the chef rudely as she seeks her child's approval at every turn.

When the chef dares to point his spatula towards a dish of mushrooms, the mom's eyes grow big and panicked as she looks to her son for his reaction to this. He smugly shakes his head and she waves her hand away vehemently like she's the third base coach in the world series insisting the runner stay the hell on second.  The commercial ends with both mother and child agreeing that the omelet is perfect because  (and here's when the mom's voice finally pops up in a voice-over) "It's just like I MADE IT!"

This offends me on so many levels I'm not quite sure where to begin.  And I am NOT easily offended.

1.  The kid in the commercial is at least 5 years old. Why CAN'T HE ORDER HIS OWN FOOD?!  Instead of his mom gesturing at the poor chef like she's an air traffic controller landing a plane, why can't this kid say "Can I please have a ham and cheese omelet?"

2. The mom in the commercial is acting like the balance of the world's future hangs within what ingredients are going into her son's omelet.  She looks terrified that perhaps a tiny piece of onion may slip into her little darling's eggs.  I find myself at the edge of my seat, biting my nails to know what horrible thing might happen if her son's omelet doesn't get made exactly as she makes it at home. What is at stake here? Can no one make an omelet for her child as perfectly as this mom can? And what tragedy will befall this poor family if the omelet isn't made exactly to the child's specifications?  The commercial doesn't say, but we can imagine the consequences would be dire indeed.

3. About the omelet being made to order.  Unless your child has a food allergy, I dislike the perception that your CHILD MIGHT DIE if he doesn't have everything he wants exactly as he wants it and exactly as he's used to it. Did I miss the point somewhere along the line?  Isn't going on vacation about TRYING NEW THINGS!?  If my folks hadn't sent me to Myrtle Beach with a friend's family, I NEVER WOULD HAVE KNOWN WHAT GRITS WERE!  I could not imagine my life without grits.  If my folks hadn't taken me to France I wouldn't be in the love affair with cheese that's kept me me satisfied and happy for nearly two decades now. How about teaching your children to be open to new things?  Trying that venison?  Taking a bite of the brioche? Sipping down ice-cold milk straight from a coconut? What is the mom in the commercial so afraid of?  A tableside tantrum?  Her cowed and panicked demeanor in the chef getting the omelet just right makes me think if she got it wrong her child would somehow tip the omelet bar over and kill chef with his own spatula while force feeding his mother all 10 lbs. of cubed ham.

The team of marketing geniuses behind this commercial have cottoned on to the fact that some parents are so anxiously stressed out and eager-to-please their children that they would stay at Embassy Suites JUST so that their children could have the exact breakfast they eat at home every day.  But even though I've stayed at Embassy Suites before, and it was lovely, I AM NOW BOYCOTTING Embassy Suites until they personally apologize to me and other parents who both encourage our children to try new things in life and discourage them from thinking they are the kings and queens of our household. (Our household is more of a cult with one very charismatic leader...and it ain't either of my children.)

Because this commercial gives good parents a bad name. Don't portray us as rude ding-a-lings ruled by our children and expect us to stay at your hotel. I'm sick of it. We are not all a bunch of idiotic numskulls who fidget nervously, rudely directing a chef (with nary a please or thank you) to satisfy the whims of an entitled child.  Many of us take our children on vacation and encourage them to try something new, even if it's a turkey leg at Disneyworld. And we insist they ask for it themselves and say thank you when it's been handed over.  

Kid, you don't like what you ordered?  Try three bites. Thank you.  Variety is the spice of life.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Dead flowers and living dreams

All of my marigolds are dead.

For the past 12 years since I've been a homeowner, every spring I plant marigolds and lovingly water and weed them daily.  They serve as pops of color in front of my home and people comment on how wonderful and vibrant my plantings are.

But this year the marigolds are all dead. I haven't been watering them.  The only comments my blooms are getting are pitying looks.

You see, for the past 8 months I've been writing a novel and attempting to get it published. And in doing this, I've had to let a lot of things go.  I've had to take a hiatus from teaching Sunday School. I've had to ask for help in running my cub scout troop. I spent the last school year turning down lunches or walks with friends (or even catching up on laundry) while my children were are school because I would rush home, buckle down and write for the precious hours my 3 year old was out of the house.

I used to have it so together.  So together in fact, that I'd always find the time to bake something when I was going to someone's house for a play date or a hang.  I don't have time for that anymore. I buy cookies from Caputo's. Or just bring wine. Or go empty-handed.

And I keep forgetting to water my poor marigolds.

And you know what? Despite this crazy perma-feeling that everything is sort of out-of-control I have never felt happier.

Because we all have different dreams. And my dream, (in addition to having a loving, happy family, wide circle of terrific friends and good health) has always been to write and publish books for a living.  

And you know what I've found? Following your dream can be really, really hard. I know this because the rejection is surprisingly painful. I know this because people tell me, repeatedly, that it cannot be done. And yet it's incredibly rewarding to follow your dream.  It feels courageous to even admit out loud that this IS in fact my dream. Writing my book and attempting to get it published feels a bit like coming home in a way that even I, as a writer, have difficulty putting words to.  

But it's a bit of a trade-off also. To make space for this kind of creativity and hard work, you have to clear away some other things that were taking up room. Things that you realize perhaps weren't that important. Like gorgeous flowers in your front lawn.

It's been a month since I've blogged because I've been so busy with my book project. My children have been watching way more television because that's how I hypnotize them when my co-author Jess comes over and we send out ever more query letters regarding our novel. Sorry, kids. Or maybe, you're welcome, kids.

But the truth is, I've never felt more alive, more stressed and happier all at the same time. I think I'd rather fail at writing books than succeed at anything else.  It's both exhilarating and profound.

So if you have a dream (and we all know that you do), whether it's opening your own bakery, becoming an actress or running the New York marathon, please at least attempt it. You're not too old, too fat, too unskilled or not good enough.  Please don't squash that dream any further down than you already have.  People won't laugh at you...they'll root for you and support you.  And if they don't you can deep six them to make room for the amazing people who are waiting to come into your life who will.

I guarantee you will come to appreciate the excitement, growth and challenge that comes from pursuing that about which you are truly passionate.

But you may find yourself with a few dead flowers and store bought cookies along the way.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Get It Yourself

For the past three weeks I have been working furiously to finish a writing project I've been working on.  I've forsaken sleep, walks with friends, time with my husband, phone calls to my sisters and mom, outside time and laundry (I totally did not mind forsaking laundry) but the kids now know what "going commando" means.

But the number one thing I've forsaken has been giving my children my undivided attention.

And I think it may be the best thing that's ever happened to all of us.

My laptop has been my constant companion as I burned up the keyboard getting to the 86,000 words I needed to make the work complete.  But at first it was an uphill battle as I was barraged by the usual requests from my kids.

It turns out that in the context of when you're trying to get work done my kids' requests are really, really annoying.  They would interrupt me to ask for juice, demand a story, insist they needed a Band-Aid (they didn't), ask me to check their homework, open a squeezie pouch or beg me to get them a snack.

Rather than screaming out "MOMMY'S WORKING!" at the top of my lungs like Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest (sans the wire hanger, of course) I went with the more benign "Get it yourself."

Them: Mommy, I need a cheese stick.

Me: Get it yourself.

Them:  I'm thirsty and I'd like a drink please.

Me: Get it yourself.

Them:  I want to play Zingo.

Me: Get it yourself

Them:  It's on the top shelf.

Me:  You'll figure it out.

And something magical happened.  Once I stopped being both their combination maid and butler, these needy little creatures actually began getting things themselves!  The 6 year old got cups and poured juice for he and his little sister.  They helped themselves to cheese sticks and crackers.  They pulled a chair over, climbed on it and miraculously were able to get the game down.

"Get it yourself" soon lent itself handily to "Do it yourself" and soon the kids were able to unscrew the cap off of the toothpaste without my help, make their beds (not as well as I do, but the attempt was there) and put their clean laundry away in the proper drawers.  I put them to work setting the dinner table in instead of just clearing their plates after their done hoovering down the delicious meal I've made for them.

Seeing their newfound independence, which had sprung out of necessity, made me a bit abashed.  I guess I'd really been swaddling them in cotton wool as I tried to cater to their every demand.   The kids seem much happier not having to depend on me for these basic things and Lord knows I'm much happier not being nagged by their demands for me to do things of which they're perfectly capable.

Now we've created a monster. My 6 year old requested to "ride to the corner store" on his bike to pick up milk.  It's a busy road that leads into a much busier intersection. We initially resisted but he was adamant in his request.  Independence is great but not at the expense of safety. So we allowed him to do it with my husband following him at ten paces behind.

I hope this doesn't come off as uncaring or callous but I love the newfound independence in my children. When I put my work aside for the day I look forward to spending time with them because I haven't been allowing them to nag me all day.  They're not babies.  They're 3.5 and nearly 7.  And the fact that they are doing more themselves allows me the time I need to write.  And this new way of being prevents our home from being a "child-centered" home which it was in serious danger of becoming for a while there....a home where the children call the shots and rule the roost.

Before tongues go wagging, it's like I've given up all responsibility or control. I don't let the kids chop up apples with knives, use the oven or entrust my 3 year old to give herself a tubby.  However, what they can do, I let them do.  And it turns out that even though they're kids, they can do a whole lot more than I ever thought.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

It's A Date

At first I thought my son was joking. 

Big A had a proposition for us, he said. 

To make a long story short, he wanted to use his allowance to take a girl out on "a date".

He's 6.

He suggested going to Carvel.  He outlined that me, his mother, would drive himself and his date but I was to sit at a different table, hidden behind the drink machine so he and his friend could have some privacy.  The plan was that he would order one huge milkshake with 2 straws.

We were in the car and I was biting my lip to stop from laughing. I wasn't laughing with my son, but at him.  My husband began cackling until he looked over at Big A and saw he was quite serious.

What to do?

"Who's the girl?"  I ask him.

"Tulip. She's in my class." he said.  (Her name is not Tulip.  I am merely protecting her identity)

Most of Big A's friends are boys.  He's 6, after all. But there are a couple of girls he has deemed "cool" who have slipped into the friends circle.

"Do you think she's going to want to go out on"

"I think so.  Can you please call her mom now and ask if she can come on the date?"

I wish he would stop calling it a date.  They're 6 for goodness sake. I stalled for time.

"What if she doesn't want a milkshake?" I asked him.

He thought about this.   "That's okay. She can get whatever she wants."

I called Tulip's mother. Tulip's mother asked Tulip, who said that she would like to join Big A for an ice cream social. A time and date were arranged and yesterday I found myself driving towards Tulip's house to pick her up.

"Now when we pull up, you stay here." Big A directed me. "I'm going to walk to the door and get her. And I'll say 'Ready for OUR DATE?' " He grinned goofily.

"Please don't say that," I begged him. "It's just two friends getting ice cream."

"Okay," he concedes.  "I'll say 'Ready to go get ice cream?' but then I'll wink."

Oh good grief.

We picked up Big A's little friend with no incident.  He held the door for her at Carvel and let her order first. She doesn't like milkshakes, it seems, but she got a dish of Mother Earth.  I sat across the ice cream shop pretending to read a book but straining to listen to their conversation.

Apparently Big A had taken it upon himself to come up with some talking points that I'm pretty sure he pulled from an episode of Clarence

"So Tulip, if you were stranded on a dessert island, what three things would you bring?" 

She thought about this for a minute.  "Water, food and a tent."

"I would bring water, food and a laptop so I could watch Minecraft videos."

"So Tulip, if you were being attacked by zombies, what weapons would you want to have?"

And so on.

The rest of the "date" passed pleasantly, the two of them chatting and eating ice cream until we dropped her home 20 minutes later.  I have no idea what came over Big A but he suddenly announced "What if I kissed Tulip?" and started smiling at the sheer madness of such a thing.  He turned to Tulip and said "Did you HEAR what I just said?"  and the wise girl replied, "No" as she got out of the door.

My husband called to find out how the "date" was going.  We thought it was all so charming but the two kids seemed to think it was normal.  Two friends, getting together, having conversation and having a treat.

My husband and I talked last night about how, (even though it's unusual for a first grader) glad we were that Big A came up with this idea to have "a date."  He doesn't see girls as "other", as stupid, covered in slime or not worth his time.  And what about Tulip? I hope this innocent encounter sets the stage for her expectations of dating.  The guy should plan the date, hold the door and pay.  Accept no less, Tulip!

Because soon enough children will age into teenagers and they WILL be dating.   And I hope it's nice. And mutually respectful.  I hope it means conversation and fun.  Not making out at a party and then never speaking to each other again at school. (I know, I know...I'm wishing for miracles here)   But it's never too early to teach out children good ways of interacting with the opposite sex.

"This is what dating should be like"  my husband proclaimed with a definitive nod.  "Doing fun things with different people and getting to know them." 

We brainstormed the idea of letting Big A invite 4 boys over this summer and turning our deck into an Italian restaurant.  The catch?  Each boy would have to invite a girl as his dining partner. Then they could all gather around the same red checked tablecloth, eating spaghetti, drinking grape juice out of wine glasses and having conversation.  After which they would likely run around our yard like maniacs and fight over the tire swing like the 7 year olds there are but, still, the foundation for the future would be set.

Our child won't truly be dating until...what? High school?  But it's nice to shape his perceptions and expectations now.  I still have NO INKLING as to what made Big A come up with this notion of going on an ice cream date with Tulip.  He seems to have reverted back to being a 6 year old kid.  This morning he was focused on his new lego set, latest baseball game and the thrill of back-to-back play dates with two buddies on Friday afternoon.

But when his Grandma asked him how his "date" when yesterday he told her it was "Awesome."

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tales from a Bike

I'll never forget when my nephew James learned to ride his two-wheeler. An extremely agile and athletic child, he was around 5 years old when he looked hard at his bike, removed the training wheels himself and began riding around the neighborhood a few hours later.

From what I can discern, this is not a typical bike-riding experience.  At least, it wouldn't be normal for my son.

Until about a month ago, my 6 year old had zero interest in learning to ride a two-wheeler.  I'd be like, do you want to help me put away laundry?  Or go outside and ride your two-wheeler with your dad? 

He'd choose to put away socks.

But now riding his two wheeler is all my son thinks about.

Every day when he arrives home from the bus he yells "Can I ride my bike?"

Unfortunately, he's not exactly a natural.

He gets home from school, throws on his helmet and drags me outside, away from doing Very Important Things (AKA my books and my wine) and makes me run up and down the street, in flip flops (okay my fault, not his) holding his seat.

I let go of his seat days ago. He rides all by himself, though it's in a zigzagy sort of way, like you'd ride if you were really drunk.  Then he realizes I'm not holding on, screams like Nathan Lane in The Birdcage and topples to the ground, wailing.

So we go from determination and pride to wailing within the course of 5 minutes. This scene is repeated every afternoon with very little variation.

I lift the bike off him.  He's huddled on the ground in the fetal position, sobbing.

"Mo-OM! You didn't catch me!" he says accusingly.  

(I want to state that Big A actually has a huge bike that's his correct size due to his legs being so long. When he falls, he falls 3 feet into the ground. If I even attempted to catch him, we'd both get injured.)

"Calm down, calm down," I urge him, his shrieks so high-pitched that neighborhood dogs are moaning and covering their ears. "You're fine!"

"I'm NOT!" he yells, cradling his arm as a tiny speck of blood the side of a freckle appears on his elbow.

Now he's lost all confidence. Now he's lost all the excitement of riding his bike.  And my Chardonnay is still being held captive on the kitchen counter.

I walk the bike back to the garage, as he shuffles and moans like a member of the living dead.

I apply expert first aid once we get inside, splashing wine on his boo-boo and letting my 3 year old daughter bandage him with a Hello Kitty Band-Aid and a kiss.  He rolls his eyes "I'm not wearing this band-aid to baseball tonight."

Big A skulks over to the couch and throws himself on it dramatically.



"Promise me that I'll never fall off my bike again."

I laugh. He glares. I stop.

"I can't promise you that.  You will fall off your bike again."

"Promise you'll always catch me when I fall, then" he says.

I sing a few bars of Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time.  "If you fall, I will catch you I'll be waiting!" I sing.

"You will?" he asks, brightening.

"Actually, no."  I admit.  "Your father and I are always here to help you with good advice and support. We'll try to help you get out of jams and pickles and the like, but I can't promise that I'll always catch you if you fall off your bike.  Like today for example."

He looks devastated.

It dawns on me that this could be an opportunity for a life lesson. I recall the Batman Begins reboot with Christian Bale when he falls in to the pit of bats as a child.

"Do you know why we fall?" I ask him, trying to keep a straight face and be earnest.

"Because I can't ride my bike that well." Big A says.

"No!  We fall so that we can learn to pick ourselves up."

"Why don't you just pick me up?"

"Because if I picked you up, you wouldn't learn how to do it yourself.  And you and your bike are incredibly heavy. You're like the largest first grader I know."

"Why don't you just buy me knee pads and elbow pads then?"

"Because those are for sissies. And I'm cheap." I say.

I come closer and wrap him up in my arms.

"Listen, buddy I know that riding your bike is scary and that falling hurts.  But when you came home today you were so excited to try to ride your bike. You were so proud when you did!  Did you know that you actually know how to ride your bike? The whole time I'm running alongside you, I'm not even touching you, did you know that?"


"Really. It's all mental. And then when you see I'm not holding you, you freak out."

"Mom, we're a whole family of freaker-outers."

"True, but we have passion!  Who wants to be vanilla and calm all the time? Not us.  But the point is, I don't want you to stop doing something you love, because it's scary.  Don't let the fear stop you, okay?"


"And I know that you are capable of picking yourself up, dusting off your scraped elbows and getting back on the bike.  I know it."


"Now do you want to get back on the bike?"

"No, I just want to lay here with my injuries."

His injuries, of course, being the glorified mosquito bite on his elbow.

Big A then stripped off his Hello Kitty band-aid and went to baseball and played with his friends afterwards. 

When he came home, I heard the familiar "Can I ride my bike?"

It was nearly 745 pm and he hadn't had dinner yet or taken a shower.  This defied our nearly sacred be-in-bed-by-8-pm rule. But I was happy he had gotten over his fear so I let him ride up and down the street, once, to show his dad.  

Big A was very proud. 

Until he ate it on the ride back. I was prepared for him to wail so loudly he'd break the sound barrier once again without an airplane.  But there as just silence.

He gets out from under his bike, picks it up, climbs back on and tries again. And again.  Until he falls one final time and we call him in for dinner.

He walks his bike into the garage with his head held high.

"Band-aid?" I offer him since I see a new scrape or two.

"No, thanks.  Did you see me ride my bike?"

"I did!"

He stops.

"Did you see how I fell and I picked myself up all by myself?"

"Yes, Big A, I saw that."

I feel a lump in my throat. Big A has been practicing every day for a month.  Bike riding does not come as easily to my cautious, overthinking boy as it may come to others.  He'll go on any roller coaster and be brave when blood is drawn or teeth are filled but he's nervous about trusting himself. 

I watched him give his bike a little pat, put it back in its spot in the garage and carefully hang his helmet on his handlebars until tomorrow. I know he's going to get the hang of it. And I know the bigger lesson is that just because you keep falling doesn't mean that you shouldn't keep trying.

At that moment I feel a little hand tugging on my skirt and I look down at my 3 year old daughter smiling up at me.  She's managed to put her brother's helmet on her head.

"Can I ride my bike?"

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


A few weeks ago I heard a woman in our town had breast cancer but since her children aren't in the same grade as my children I didn't know who she was. We have some mutual friends which I discovered when I looked her up on Facebook.

Here's what else I discovered.

This mom was really, really pretty.
If her ripped arms were any indication, she works out regularly.
She has lots of friends.

And most impactful, to me:

She is a single mom to three young children.

Breast cancer is not supposed to happen to someone like her. It's supposed to happen to someone else. Someone we all don't know.  Someone who doesn't live a few streets away. Someone who is old. Someone who smokes, per say.  Or eats nothing but pork rinds, guzzles beer all the time and lays around on the couch.  It's certainly not supposed to happen in our small town to an otherwise healthy, young, lovely mother of three.  Didn't God get that memo?  Seriously, W.T.F.?

People started posting pink ribbons as their profile pictures on FB. Photos of her friends in pink shirts started popping up, reminding all of us that no one fights alone.  Her child's class did a special program to let her know of their support and encouragement. 

At times, I hear people criticizing the drawback of living in a small town, where everyone knows your biz. But this closeness is also one of the great advantages -- if people know you have something going on, they can help.  I began keeping this mom in my prayers so I figured I might as well friend her on Facebook.  Friending someone I've never spoke to in real life was a huge step for me, since I've never done that before. Miraculously, I must have looked fairly normal because she accepted my friendship.

A week or two later, I came face-to-face with her at our annual PTO auction by the Platinum prize section and recognized her right away.  I was so happy to meet her.  Luckily I had only had two glasses of wine and could communicate what I wanted to say which was "I don't know you but I'm with you.  I'm praying for you. You're A HUGE inspiration." I hoped it was that cohesive. I may have squealed like I was meeting Taylor Swift.  But she didn't edge away towards the bar so maybe I did okay. What I meant to say was "I'm incredibly sorry this has happened to you. But you are an amazing person and you have brought this town together."  She was so nice. I remember that she listened and spoke to me, (a virtual stranger who approached her to gush) without me worrying she would run off to her friends and go "Who the hec is THAT freak?"  And she mentioned a silver lining: that due to her diagnosis, a number of her friends had made appointments for their first mammograms.

As the weeks passed, I watched her via Facebook trying on wigs with her friends. I watched as she shaved her head and donated her hair, her children close at hand. Maybe 10% of the women in the world have the kind of face and bone structure to pull off a shaved head and still look super gorgeous and she is one of them.  I watched her hooked up for her first chemo appointment a good friend by her side.

I signed up for her meal train but so beloved is she that the first opening is months away.  Thinking she might be sick of all the delicious yet heavy casseroles and zitis surely coming in, I decided to do a French-themed meal with baguettes, cheese, fruits, a salad and napoleons.  I wondered if she could drink wine while she's in recovery and figured I'd throw it in anyway and she'd get to it, eventually.

But even though I barely know this mom or her kids, she is present in my mind and heart.  She's a mom in my town. She could be me. I could be her. She could be any one of us. And if her fight has taught me anything it's that cancer does not discriminate.  And that no one should fight alone.  When I think of moms in the past with illnesses they were made to feel ashamed of, or who suffered in silence and isolation, it makes me want to bake Mark Zuckerberg an entire cake.  God Bless Facebook! 

I cannot imagine what this amazing mom's battle will be like. I cannot imagine the inner-strength this mom warrior will call upon during her fight. But I am sure she will triumph over it.  Hoards of people are in her corner, rooting for her, loving her, supporting her.  What she is going through is terrible but she will not fight alone.

Below is a great way to show your support.