3/16/2010

Finding the Perfect Mate, Reality Style?



Last night I watched a show about where have all the past bachelor, bachelorettes and potential suitors gone from past reality shows. This reality phenomenon, the Bachelor and The Bachelorette is about finding your mate, your one true live, in prime time. I have watched it a time or two but not been an avid viewer. Why not? My reasons have a lot to do with not buying it, the whole concept. When I saw this episode pop up on network television last night, Where Are They Now, I sat down to take it all in. If it is on during prime time, I must be missing something by not checking it out. So, I watched it with an open mind.

What I learned during this two hour program is that the same thing happens every season. Women with incredible bodies wear bikinis and flaunt their assets, and I don't mean anything outside of their physical attributes. Forget the fact many are gorgeous and should have no trouble getting folks lined up on their dancing cards, apparently they are now looking for love. I wondered, why if they were so hell-bent on finding love, were they not looking in the real world? Could it be getting air time on national television in prime time was more appealing, you think?

Last night was all about giving insight into the show’s premise, the rave over it and updates on all involved. But to me, learning every season has it beach show, its visit the parents show, its steamy hot tub scene and its overnight date episode seems too contrite for my taste. It was amusing to learn even the host has questioned the scriptedness of continuing to say the line "This is your final rose" when only one rose is left on the table. Come on, as if no one can count. This is sheer dramatics and ridiculous to point out the obvious. Maybe the thinking in repeating the verbiage over and over each time the contestants on the show are so star struck and dumb founded in love they can’t count roses. One never knows how love strikes others.

The premise of this show is just an updated fairy tale. Each season has its modern day prince or princess who gets to pick out from the crowd of avid admirers that swoon over them who they want as a permanent fixture. Put another way, they get to pick who gets to make the show circuit with them after the show airs, appear on the celebrity mags and tout the show. Oh yeah, the ultimate price is they are to be committed for life, in holy matrimony so they can grow old together. The only problem with this concept is that most of the relationships from this show barely last long enough to be together when the next season's show starts.

Is this representative at all of what it is like to fall in love? As my husband sat next to me half watching this show with me, it became clear to me to question his dating style. Why did he not treat me like royalty when we were dating? If he had taken me to the Caribbean, or on a carriage ride and a picnic overlooking a beautiful mountainous view, I would have fallen in love with him quite a bit sooner. Actually with any man that had courted me in that fashion. That scenario of romance is conducive to creating an environment wet for love, or as my husband said, lust. And most of the shows, from the recap last night, involve drinking and I do not mean soft drinks and water. Altered states can cause red flags to be ignored as many country songs can attest to. Drunk with love or just plain drunk?

I freely admit I have watched a few episodes during past seasons. Occasionally I got my husband to even watch a few minutes with me. We enjoyed taking turns poking fun at the folks on the show. That certainly, for us, made it worthwhile. He duly noted just out how many pharmaceutical reps and general marketing women were on the show. Oh also, the "I still live at home with mom" or as he put it the 'token virgin.' In turn, I pointed out the men that were rich. Come now, we all know it is easier to fall in life with a rich man than a poor one! I also commented on the physique of the men, the standard typecast for this show. Requirement: must look like a cover model and appear to be every girl’s knight in shining armor. And there was always a token minority too. Why, we both wondered, are no minorities picked as the bachelor or bachelorette? Could it be about ratings and demographics and not about real honest soul search mating?

Back to my reality, I have never dated a pilot, a millionaire or a guy with abs that look better than Janet Jackson in her prime. In fact, most of my friends haven’t either, male or female! I do however love the concept of romance and roses but want to know is this a real portrayal of the way to find true love? I mean really, the statistics of survival rates of the couples off this show are worse than the national average (which is not good!).

I am writing this with tongue in cheek as I do not chastise anyone who watches these shows. I do think though there should be some caution. Reading romance novels obsessively may set the reader up for unrealistic expectations for a union with a soul mate. Most of us do not get swept off our feet nor taken on a pirate ship and held hostage by a dashing man built like GQ's best prospect. This reality show may do the same for your dating scene expectations. Dates like those on this show, bungee jumping, helicopter rides and couple massages may happen once in a blue moon but do not except this to be the norm. And ladies, just because he doesn’t do this does not mean he does not love you! Relationships are more likely built on dates to Taco Bell, catching a movie or sharing popcorn in front of the tube. Exciting dates are going to a gala in town, attending a football game, going clubbing or big scale parties. In fact, about the closest most of us get to getting dolled up for our dates in princess like dresses or sexy get ups is to attend a wedding, someone else's!

Shows like this are apparently, according to the show's statistics given last night, getting high viewer ratings. Hence, folks are watching it. My bet is mostly women! My husband has never heard of one single man watching this show from his man cave. I can see some merit to this venue for it is certainly a person watching at its best. But please don't get so drawn in that you are writing hate letters on the web about people on the show. I mean, really, you are only seeing clips that the producers want you to see. Let me state the obvious, people it is just television not true reality. The behind the scenes editing is meant to make you love and hate contestants.

For example, on last night’s recap, it was shown how one bachelor, when he was on the bachelorette version was likeable, funny and just an all around good guy, your guy to bring home to conservative mom. Later, this gentleman got his own opportunity to be the prince, the dashing eligible bachelor. Thus began the rumor mill, which worked overtime. Apparently, Mr. Clean and Wholesome was known by all as Mr. Kissy Face, even at his own admission. That is not the bothersome part but how about the fact that he consistently pushed for more than just a light hearted kiss to be sure, as he put it defensively the 'chemistry' was there. Note, gentlemen wait and do not invade ladies space. Which image is closer to the truth of who he is. Who knows who cares?

My thoughts, if you are avidly watching this show for its entertainment value, for a relief from stress of everyday real life, no harm will be done. However, if you are watching it to figure out what true romance is and how to find your Mr. Right or Mr. Wrong, do not take notes. Your time might be better spent reading by experts in the field, conversing with well versed honest friends or just getting out there and experiencing life firsthand! At the end of the day, only you can decide if it is truly worth kissing frogs to see if they do turn into princes.

3/13/2010

Always a Mother, Sometimes an Outcast



I find it fascinating to compare stories with other women that have adult children. I am not sure at what age the parameters of the relationship change, but everyone agrees, it does change.

No longer are you, the mom, consulted on major decisions. Infact, it is more likely that news is dropped on you like an atomic bomb. With no advance warning, you are told things like “I am getting married; I am buying a new house; I am pregnant, I want to get divorced.” There is usually no precursor to the news flash it is just blurted out. Young adults simply want their moms to say “That is great, I am happy for you” even if you are thinking “Oh no, what a bad move!”

During the formative years, teens, kids chose frequently to alienate their parents. Their parents epitomize ‘ uncoolness’. For some reason, moms think, when they their children graduate from high school, this stage will end and this attitude will also. Sometimes it does, but more often, it does not. This then becomes even more hurtful as mothers are first dealing with the empty nest syndrome and are now even less kept in the loop of what is going on in children’s lives. No matter what age a child becomes, they still, in the eyes of the moms, are a child.

I think adult children see it differently though. A friend recently said, “Thank goodness for facebook! I can know learn what is going on in my children’s lives. Before facebook, I sat waiting for the phone to ring. “How sad is it that, after all the years of sacrifice, parents are left sitting waiting on their adult children to find time to call them?

A lot of my friends complain that their opinions are not sought out anymore at all by their adult children. When they give their viewpoinjts, whether it be verbally or by today’s main course of communication, email, the advice is met with anger. The adult children today perceive this input as interference in their live and unsolicited advice they do not want nor respect. It is fine to give adult children money when they hit hard times and need it but it is a totally different scenario when it comes to giving advice. The advice can be the death kiss to a relationship,
Amazing that all those years of changing diapers, taking children to sports events, and holding hands and broken hearts lead to this, a feeling, at times, as if a parent is a stranger and on the sidelines of their adult children’s lives. Any interjection on your part, as the parent, in particular moms, is met with animosity so you slowly learn to pull back and just totally keep opinions to yourself and learn to deal with the hurt.

A good illustration of this is was from my daughter in law recently. She said via text to my phone when it came to mothers in her life and support, “I don’t ask or need anyone’s advice.” When did this happen? That a young mother needs no one else’s input? It is not a far stretch to say inputs from elders is not respected nor considered good advice. Otherwise, why would so many young adults turn away from loving advice given with nothing but a desire to help, not enabling advice but just input.

I guess it is a lot like riding a bike. As a young parent, we had to let go and watch our children go down the street eventually, on their own, all the while praying they don’t fall. They looked to us for training, and then looked at us to celebrate their great ride on the bike and for input on how to stay on. But, in life, when they are on the ride, if and when they fall, as all of us have some failures, it all changes, even with the adult child. All of the sudden, the first person they want to call is a parent. It is as if the emotional distance was nothing more than an illusion. But when it comes to all else, stay put and stay out. It is like they all belong to a club and you are forbidden to join.

Every parent I know with adult children gets called when there are troubles in their children’s lives or, if they have things to boast about. Our role as a parent is to be called upon only in these circumstances. Our adult children are more diplomatic in rejecting advice as they get older , but it is still a rejection. Too often we are silenced and told our opinions are not valued. It is seen simply as interference that is unwarranted. I admit there are those that do have adult children that seek out their parents advice for their honest viewpoints. This appears to not be the norm, in my circle. Either that or I am hanging with the wrong group of friends!

Whatever happened to the sentiment in the past, elders were, without question, given respect? In days gone by, hearing an occasional no or constructive criticism was a parent’s way of showing love and concern. A close friend of mine, years ago, left her job and her family to care for her elderly dying grandfather. In the worst of circumstances, as he lay on his death bed, she recants all the lessons in life she learned from him. She never stopped believing he, her grandfather, had knowledge and wisdom and she wanted to tap into while he was still alive. Yet, when it came to her own daughter, as soon as she grew up, it is as if her own mother was denied access to her inner circle. What a shock to a mother who spent her living as a living role model to family unity.

The generation of adult children only wants to hear affirmation for everything they decide to do. They want a world with resounding yeses to everything they do, nothing but positive affirmation. When, in reality feedback, positive and negative, provides insight and growth opportunities.

How odd too that the adult child seeks out other’s opinions that they are not related to but won’t listen to their own parents. In my case, I have many young friends who frequently like to use me as a sounding board for their lives, much more so than my own children. These young people will listen with an open mind. Those relationships often seem as strong if not stronger than those with my biological children.

I am not alone in this observation. The premise of this viewpoint is something many have shared with me over the years. Input into life’s decisions are valued and sought out by young adults but just not by our children. Somehow parents have become an obligatory call, when things are going well and a sounding board only when things are going major array.

It makes me wonder about the future. No one lives forever, parents that are here today could be gone tomorrow. When they die, all that is not expressed dies with them. Too many people my age wish they had one more day, one more conversation with their deceased parent. They long for the honest open dialogue they will never have. And yet, all around me, I see young people that just take it for granted their parents will always be there. The relationships they are forming are based on solely what their needs are, not on what their parents need and want in the relationship. Honest feedback is constructive and does not demonstrate parents wanting to meddle in lives but perhaps something greater, love and a better understanding of part of who they are. Once a parent is gone, the question will never get the chance to be asked. Open the door while you still can. Embrace your parents, they need and want that and yes, at the end of the day, miss it.

3/07/2010

Big Joy in Small Package


The pitter patter of little feet,
And sounds of giggles fill the air,
Is there any sweeter sound
than that of my granddaughter around?

The sun is shining,
It is a gorgeous new day,
The rays of the sun catch her highlights
And look as white as her starch tights.

Ava is in the house,
And never quiet as a mouse.
...Unless she is hiding
Waiting for Grandma to find her.
Then, there is not a stir.
For nothing delights her more,
Even though she hides in the same place as before!

I go thru the motions,
“Oh where has my Ava gone?
I can’t find her!” As I feverishly look
Behind every nook and crook,
For my pretty little girl.

When I open a door
That she is perched behind,
Her face lights up with glee
And her smile is as big as can be.

I am met with sounds of music
As her laughter fills the air
Ah, God knew what he was doing.
When he brought us this little care bear.

And when the sun stops shining,
And the stars fill the sky,
Ava begins to rub her eyes,
This is a sure sign my little darling is tiring
And about to be retiring
To a soft bed, a cuddly blanket and sweet dreams
Of all the next day will bring.

3/01/2010

Grace for Julie

Wow, another friend dies of breast cancer! The phone call came and when I heard the news I didn't really react. Though I expected it, it just didn't sound right, and I felt shocked. I took the news, at first well but as the evening wore up, and the finality of it hit me, I was speechless.

Today, at home with her husband by her side and her two sons, both in their early 20’s to say their final good byes, Julie passed over. The three men's final good bye’s were said and felt on this earth to a wonderful wife and loving mother. But, it was not a good bye forever. They will unite again, in another place…

I can’t help but reflect on the timing of this death. How fitting, God took Julie out of her pain during Lent. With Lent being a Christian time to remember Jesus’ death for our sins and thus, giving us eternal salvation, he took Julie out of her misery. Her body has been raging with pain as her incurable cancer spread through out all of her bones causing her increasing chronic pain with no end in sight. God to the rescue, she is now free of pain. Heaven frees her from the misery, the sorrow and the hurt. Such a good kind loving woman that brought so many happy memories to those of us that knew her well is now at the final destination. She believed in God and in good and now has what she deserves. Yet, those of us left behind are filled with heavy hearts. We shall miss our friend, until the day comes when we see her again.

In facing death, we are all reminded of how short life truly is. And also of God’s promise to us.

I am so grateful I had the chance to tell Julie what was in my heart, when I sensed her passing was inevitable. I sat with her one day not long ago, while she was in the chemotherapy treatment room, a place somber and sterile, void of personality. I swallowed hard and quit worrying about if it was the right time to say it or not. I then started to slowly talk to her about how she had touched my life, how I felt about our friendship. I will never forget the sparkle in her eyes as I espounded on my feelings. I told her just how much she meant to me.

I reflected with her about how, when our hair had came back after being out of treatment, we both felt alive again. I told Julie that day I saw her with her beautiful curly redish hair, I saw the beauty in her face, the life that had seemed lacking in both of us when we met years before in treatment. I told Julie that, no matter what, I will never forget her. A piece of her will remain in my heart as she has deeply touched my life. I meant it when I said it to her and she knew it too. I think she felt likewise.

I had not a clue that would be the last time I would see my friend. Oh, how many times we hear life is short and pay little credence to it.

Don’t wait to say what is in your heart to others. Trust me, tomorrow doesn't always come. Don't wait till the very last day on earth to recognize the best healer of all - Faith. Get some now and plenty of it!