Posted by Ilana Angel
This is a typical conversation with my child:
Me: Hi. How was your day?
Me: What happened at school?
Me: Anything exciting going on?
Me: What did you learn today?
Me: Great. Tell me about it.
Him: Nothing to tell Mom. I'm going to my room.
The conversation is always the same, unless I push for one more question, in which case I am met with, "God Mom. Nothing is going on. You need to relax." That is quickly followed by some laughing, a tilt of the head implying he is looking at someone pathetic, occassionaly a sympathy hug, and then his going to his room. Not sure if it is his age, that he is a senior, about to turn 18, or perhaps because he is a boy, but I am not digging it.
I am a very lucky woman when it comes to my job as a mother. I have a great kid. He does not drink or smoke, has not done drugs, is respectful of women, is a great driver, and I don't have to worry about a lot of things other mother's need to worry about. Even knowing I am blessed and that things could be way more difficult, his lack of communication is pissing me off. By pissing me off of course I mean he is hurting my feelings. I sound 12.
I have raised this child by myself and I am proud of my work. I managed to put him through 10 years of private school on my own, encourageed him to believe in himself so he could boldly charge into his future by getting into one of the best high schools in the country, and he is applying to a dream list of colleges, any one of which will be lucky to have him. I have done a lot for him, and sacrificed endlessly, yet I can't seem to get a converation?
If we talk about college, which is all I think about these days, he tells me, "I got it Mom". That annoys the hell out of me. Important to note however, that if I want to talk about his car, gas, money, shopping, Monty Python, movies, or music, he will happily talk to me forever. It is only school, college, homework, and his future that gets shut down. Apparently there is nothing to talk about on those fronts because "he's got it covered".
I cry everyday. Not because of the lack of communication, but because I am scared. What if he doesn't get into a school? What if he does? How will I pay for it? Will he hate me if I move where he is and get a job in the cafeteria so I can catch a glimpse of him everyday? I mostly cry because I cannot understand how my baby, my one and only child, managed to grow up so fast. I do not know how we got here so quickly. I am proud, but also sad.
The sadness is for me not him. I am sad I didn't do more with him. When you are a single mother life becomes about work and providing for your child because there is no back up. My child has had a blessed life, but could I have done more? Should we have gone on more vacations? Should I have taken more pictures? Should I have worked less? Will he look at his childhood and think it was great? Will he remember it as I do? Was he happy?
He will turn 18 in a few weeks and time is flashing before my eyes. He plans to go on a big trip after graduation, then college will start, and my oppotunities to have time with him will be down to holidays and breaks from school. It will not be enough. I know right now that it will not be enough. I want more. I am not ready for this part to be over. Is it the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning? What is going on? What do I do now?
At the end of the day I love him. Really, really love him. I know the world is waiting for him and I want to share him, but I just wish I had a little more time just him and me. Time for me to ask questions and be ignored, time for him to go to his room laughing at me, time for me to sleep well knowing he is the room next to mine. I just want more time. Maybe today will be the day I hear about what is going on. Doubtful, but I am keeping the faith.
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November 22, 2013 | 8:28 am
Posted by Ilana Angel
Today would have been my father’s 75th birthday. I miss him so much there is a physical ache in my heart. He was my biggest cheerleader, the shoulder I cried on, my inspiration to do well, and my in case of emergency person. No matter what obstacle I faced, he knew exactly what to say and how to say it to enable me to jump over it and get back on track. He was wonderful.
He believed in me when I couldn’t, shone a light when I was in the dark, made me laugh through tears, and loved my son in a way that made my heart sing. I have not written here all week because I needed to take a break, but I am writing today in honor of my dad. The fog has lifted and I am able to move forward because once again my beloved father has managed to help me.
My father used to always tell me I was going to be fine. I actually say it about myself a lot now. I am always fine. It occured to me this week however, that fine is not good enough. Life is a blessing and while getting through days just being fine is sometimes enough, we must strive for more than just fine. I want to be fine, fabulous, connected, satisfied, joyful, wise, and happy.
What I want most is to be happy. When I was little and my father would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I woud always say I wanted to be happy. I have not been happy lately but that is going to change. I am in charge of my happiness. I can choose to be happy or I can choose to simply be fine. I will have down times of course, but happiness trumps it all.
Yesterday I managed to muster up some bravery and reached out to someone who matters to me, but I had pushed away. I extended a hand and it was accepted. We spent some time together and it great. Really, really, really great. Risk requires bravery, and bravery can bring rewards. Last night I felt really happy and it was a truly wonderful thing.
I woke up this morning and Googled the word HAPPY to find a quote of some kind to dedicate to my Dad for his birthday. My son suggested a video and it is so special I had to share. You may or may not have heard the song, or be familiar with the video, so sharing it makes me happy. Every single second of this song makes me happy.
I encourage you to visit http://24hoursofhappy.com because it will make you happy. Artist Pharrell Williams, who I have long thought was a genius, has created a 24 hour video. You read that right, 24 hours of random Los Angeles residents lipsyncing the catchy, groovy, and uplifting "Happy" from the Despicable Me Soundtrrack. It really is perfect.
Click through different times of the video, or simply watch when you can, but get through the 24 hours because there are some delicious people who will simply make you happy. If you start at midnight of the 24 hour version, the first person is Pharrell himself. On what is a melancoly day spent missing my Dad, it is now a day of happiness and joyful memories.
I am sad that my father is no longer living, but I am happy for the time we had together and that he was able to know my son. I am sad I wasted time allowing my past to effect my actions, but happy that I came through to a new day. I posted the official video below and I cannot imagine anyone will listen to it and not smile. Pharrell has made me happy.
The best way for me to honor the memory of my Dad is to be happy. It is lovely to donate my hair in his name, it is lovely to keep him in my prayers, it is lovely to teach my son all about him so he is not forgotten. What truly is required of me however, is to be happy because in doing so his dreams for me come true. That is a lovely gift I can still give to my Dad.
Happy Birthday to my wonderful father Robert Angel. Dad, I want you to know not only am I fine, but I am happy. I was quiet this week and found you in the silence. You came to save me like you always do. I feel you in my heart and see you in my son's eyes. Thank you for reminding me to be brave and teaching me to not settle for fine. Your lessons remind me to keep the faith.
November 17, 2013 | 10:35 am
Posted by Ilana Angel
I have not slept in two days. It is bad. I am exhausted. No physically, but mentally. When one doesn’t sleep the only thing to do is think and no good can come of that. I am at a crossroads in my life and I feel like there is a fork in the road with decisions to be made. I am fighting my demons and for the first time in a long time they are winning and I am struggling.
I am blessed in many ways, but there are times when being able to see blessings and give them power over your choices becomes difficult. I am a great mother, but feel like I am not being a good mom at the moment. I am a great friend, but isolating myself. I am a great writer, but not focused. I am a woman who leans on God, but not feeling connected to faith.
I share everything here, maybe more than I should, and yet there is much more to be said. I am embraced and supported by my readers, but attacked and humiliated by those who don’t agree with my writing. It is exhausting, confusing, and in the end I need a break. Not because I don’t want to write about my life anymore, but because I feel a need to be quiet.
The stress is taking a toll on me. I am not being my best self because I am always worried about what other people think, and in doing so I have lost focus on what I think. I have always been someone who didn’t really care what other people thought about me, but deep down wanted people to be kind. I realized while not sleeping that many people are unkind.
I am not being kind to myself, or people I care about. The demons I battle are guiding my actions and it has got to stop. I work hard to not allow my past experiences or relationships to define me, but for the past few weeks I have become the person I fight not to be. It makes me sad, angry, scared, and reckless in how I handle myself with people I care about.
I think the best thing I can do for myself is take a break. I have been writing every day for four years and I need to rethink how I live my life, rather than write about it. I don’t know if this is fueled by the thought of my son going away to university, or because I allowed my history to embarrass myself with a man I care about, but either way, I am tired.
The simple truth is that in sharing myself I have allowed myself to be vulnerable, which is something I am not comfortable with. I like to think I am a tough broad but in the end I am sensitive and people are hurting my feelings. I am not as resilient as I usually am, probably because I am so tired. I am going to take a few days to rest, pray, and refocus.
It all sounds silly I suppose, and dramatic to be sure, but the truth is that when you give of yourself, sometimes you need to refuel your soul in order to continue giving. I will get over being hurt by a hateful few, I will survive the humiliation of being crazy in front of a man, and I will find my way back to faith because it is God who holds my hand through this life.
To the people who write to say my words help them, thank you. To the people who write to tell me I am going to hell, thank you. To my friends who are being patient, thank you. To my family who hug me from afar, thank you. To my son for everything, thank you. A couple days of prayer and quiet will get me back on track and I’ll be stronger and better than ever.
By better than ever of course I mean a few crazy people on Twitter, demons from a history that no longer matters, and a lack of sleep will not break me. I have survived greater things and this too shall pass. Life really is a blessing and even when you live to be very old, it is never long enough, so count your blessings, put a smile on your face, and keep the faith.
November 15, 2013 | 6:00 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
November 22 marks what would have been my father’s 75th birthday. He passed away from cancer and as the date approaches I find myself getting sad and angry. Sad he is not here, and angry cancer is such a vicious bitch. I am going through a transition of some kind and while not sure exactly what I am feeling, his birthday is making me want to find a way to start fresh.
I have been going through old pictures and the last time my entire family was together and all dolled up, was at my brother’s wedding about 12 years ago. I found a beautiful photograph of my parents, sisters, brother, and me. I had a shoulder length bob and am standing next to my Dad with his arm around me. I decided then I was going to cut my hair back to a short bob.
My father’s name is Robert, so a "Bob" made sense. I could tuck my hair into my pants it was so long and the thought of cutting it was scary. I decided to donate my hair to Locks of Love in honor of my dad. I made an appointment and tweeted about it so it was out there and I couldn't change my mind. Thursday was the day. I was nervous.
I called my stylist ahead of time and told her what I was doing and that she should not talk me out of it. I have spent years going in and insisting she just trim it, so I needed her to know I was really doing it and she needed to just cut it without talking about it. I walked in, she hugged me, and got to chopping without questions, but with encouragement and a smile.
When she did the first cut I started to cry. Not because my long hair was gone, but for other reasons. I cried for my dad, for cancer, for my son going to college, for the confusion of dating and pushing away a man I care about, and maybe just a little bit for my hair. Over the years I had somehow decided my hair had Samson strength, which is silly.
When I woke up today and remembered what I had done, I was in a bit of shock. I went to brush my hair and the long stroke I was used to now took a second, so I panicked. I took the picture from my brother’s wedding and put it next to the mirror, and as I brushed my hair and looked at my dad I cried again. Not because I was sad, but because I was blessed.
I will look at that picture everyday and remember the haircut I have now is the style my father last saw me with. As his birthday approaches I will remember everything about my dad, and as he looks down to make sure I am okay, he will see my short hair and remember when we were all together. In going back I am able to start fresh, and be reminded to keep the faith.
November 13, 2013 | 6:32 am
Posted by Ilana Angel
I recently got a tweet from matchmaker and relationship expert Siggy Flicker telling me she was a fan of this blog and thought I was a brave and honest writer. It was lovely, and a big deal because I think Siggy is great and am a fan of hers. I first became aware of her through The Wendy Williams Show, and once I discovered her, I read her articles and thought she had an interesting perspective on dating and relationships. It was sweet of her to speak so kindly about my work and not point out the obvious, that my recent relationships have not ended well.
I reached out to Siggy and asked her if she would be up for an interview. Partly because she is fascinating and I thought you would enjoy meeting her, but also because I figured I could get some advice and guidance. She is a no holds barred woman and manages to be brutally honest without being mean. Unlike a certain matchmaker on Bravo, Siggy is classy, enlightened, experienced, and has a history that makes her an expert. I learned things about Siggy I did not know, and just loved her.
Siggy and I actually have a lot in common. We were both born in Israel, both of our fathers fought in the Six Day War, and both of our families immigrated to North America after the war. We are close to the same age, have the same boldness gene, both speak our minds, and are both quite funny. The big difference, and the one I am interested in, is that when is comes to relationships and finding someone worthy of you, Siggy not only has the answers, she has a way of speaking that makes you understand.
Siggy was raised to respect herself and not compare herself to anyone else. She didn’t need to worry about what other girls wore, or how they did their hair, or who they dated. She needed to be the best Siggy she could be, and that would be enough. She went through her own trials Andy tribulations as a young adult, and even when things were difficult, she reminded herself there were others who were struggling more than her, and the key was to see her blessings and know that she was in charge of her life and opportunities.
Siggy met her first husband at a Jewish singles event. They were married, lived in Florida, and had two beautiful children. She was unhappy and it took her three years to walk away from her marriage, and how she managed her divorce is truly remarkable. Siggy describes her first husband Mark as the perfect ex-husband. They put the needs and feelings of their children first and have managed to do what very few couples are able to do, and that is raise their children as parents, even though they are no longer married.
Siggy wanted to be her true, opinionated, open, brazen, bold, uninhibited, and fabulous self. Leaving her marriage was a necessity in terms of her personal happiness, but she loved who her husband was as a dad and no matter how sad and difficult the divorce was, she remembered who he was to her, what he meant to her, and his role as a father. Not only did she maintain a good relationship with her ex, when she remarried years later, first husband Mark was best man for her second husband Michael.
Yes. You read that right. Her first husband was best man at her second wedding. Can you imagine? Can you even wrap your head around the message that sends to their children? She is my hero. I not only adore her, but I respect and admire these two remarkable men. It is her personal path and experience that make Siggy so great, and even though I am unable to relate to her divorce, I relate to her as a woman. Not only the woman that I want to be, but the woman I know I am. Siggy had some sage advice.
Siggy says that when dating, go out with married or unavailable friends. You wouldn’t take a bunch of other candidates with you on a job interview, so don’t take other singles with you to prowl. Never thought of it that way. Brilliant. Have a cheering section with you that builds you up and reminds you are worthy. When you meet a man, you not only want him to step up to the plate, you want him to go to bat and make a real effort to hit it out of the park. That hit home with me in a rather profound way.
When I spoke of my past couple of relationships, Siggy let me have it. She was firm and clear that I was not with the right men and that "rejection is God’s protection". Love that. She told me I need to be selfish and do things just for me. Get out there and enjoy something I love and it would open my heart and mind. I’m not sure what that thing will be, but I will find it. She reminded me I need to be aware because I could go somewhere and perhaps not meet the man of my dreams, but I could meet his sister. We must broaden our perspective.
Siggy told me we need to look up and pay attention. People tend to look down and avoid eye contact, but eye contact is important. It is when we look that we will see possibilities, so we owe it to ourselves to look up and see what we are meant to see. Amen. When it comes to sex, Siggy used a fantastic analogy. When you read a book you don’t start on chapter 8, so when dating, don’t start with sex because you are skipping a lot of chapters. Take your time and let someone earn the privilege of being with you.
I spoke with Ms. Flicker for an hour and could have chatted all day. She was kind and smart and allowed me to look at my recent disappointments with a new perspective. Dating is hard and love is difficult to find, but the only way I will meet the right someone is if I don’t give up. By the end of our talk she was trying to fix me up with someone, and even though I cried when I got off the phone with her, mostly from emotional exhaustion, I made a date for this weekend because she won’t let me give up on myself or love, reminding me to keep the faith.
November 11, 2013 | 8:44 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
Someone recently posted on Facebook that one day they would blow their grandchildren’s minds when they told them they were older than the Internet. Very cool and crazy. We are so dependant on modern technology it is hard to imagine how we grew up without the things we have. My son is part of a generation being raised in a world that has never been so small. He is more knowledgeable about technology at 17 than I will ever be.
I was speaking with my sister Roni today about how I needed a new phone and was sticking with the iPhone. We got to talking about technology and how much our Dad would have loved the iPhone. We chatted about how our Dad would have been fascinated with current technology. He would have loved, embraced, and mastered every new gadget. He was a tech nerd and it is so sad he missed out on this amazing time in our history.
We cried as we thought about what he was missing. Our dad loved the movie The Longest Yard and would have hated the remake. He read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy once a year, and would have loved to see the movie adaptation. He would have loved Facetime and talked to his kids and grandkids every day, and thought a car navigation was awesome, but would only use it when he was alone so we would think he always knew where he was going.
He would have been thrilled when my son went to Israel and his heart would soar to know my boy is hoping to attend university in his beloved England. My Dad was an amazing man. Funny, smart, kind, fearless, bold, and in love with his kids and grandchildren. He took pride in the smallest things and encouraged us in all that we did. He was fascinated by technology and would be blown away by it today.
I miss my dad every single day. We all do. We wish he were still here to see the world changing and his grandchildren growing up. He always had an answer to every question and a solution to every problem. We were very similar and would occasionally but heads, but he was my hero and I love him. I would give anything to have him here and still cannot wrap my head around his dying when he was only 63 years old. He should be with us right now.
The technological advances in my lifetime are mindboggling, and the world will change in leaps and bounds in my son’s lifetime. I pray my child is of the generation that sees a cure for cancer, an end to hunger, religious freedom, equality for women, equality for love, and an iPhone that does not have endless upgrades that make no sense. The world is amazing, technology knows no bounds, and cures are close, so I am keeping the faith.
November 11, 2013 | 7:00 am
Posted by Ilana Angel
This is a day to celebrate the service of all veterans. While Memorial Day is a time of remembrance for those lost while serving, today is about celebrating those who have served, dn those currently dedicating their lives to our freedom and safety. It is okay to wish people a Happy Veteran’s Day because this is a day to salute the men and women of the armed forces.
I am in awe of those who serve and am grateful for not only their sacrifices, but those of their families. When someone makes the choice to be a soldier they take their entire family on the journey with them, and I thank every soldier and every military family for all that they do. Every single person who works in the military, and for the military, is a hero.
If you see a soldier today, thank them. If you are a soldier, I thank you. We are blessed to live in America and that blessing comes to us on the shoulders of millions of men and women who make sacrifices on our behalf. I hope you enjoy this day because it is for you. I pray you are safe and know that it is because of you that I am free to keep the faith.
November 10, 2013 | 5:39 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
From the moment I got pregnant I started to wait. It took me a long time, and a lot of infertility treatments to get pregnant, and when I found out I was going to have a baby my life became a waiting game. I was nervous during my pregnancy and so I would wait for my doctor appointments, and go more often than was necessary, just so I could be calm.
My son was due January 11th. I had him January 18th, and so I waited. I waited for him to sleep, waited for him to wake up, waited for him to walk, waited for him to sit, waited for him to talk, waited for him to be quiet. I wait for him to drive, wait for him to get home, wait for him to call, and wait for him to ask me for money. There is a lot of waiting.
Don't even get me started on my literal waiting on him. I cook his breakfast, lunch and dinner, bus his table, do his dishes, and have never once been left a tip. I do his laundry, pay for his gas, and still no tip. I wonder what would happen if I refused him service. Waiters do it all the time. Who am I kidding? I like waiting on him, I just don't like waiting for him.
I spend a lot of my time these days waiting for him to spend time with me. He is busy with friends, school, activities, and college applications. I know he has a lot of things going on, and wants to spend time with a lot of people during his senior year, but I want him all to myself. I am not sure what I will do when he goes away to school, and so I wait again.
It is one thing to wait for your child when you know he is coming home. Whether at school or out with his friends, I know he is coming home at some point and so it is easy. Stressful as he is driving himself around, but easy in that I know he will be tucked in his bed at night. When he is at university, which may be in another country, it will be hard.
I am not sure if my son knows how much waiting I do because there are times he seems to be unaware, and not particularly concerned with my waiting. Maybe when he has his own child he will get it, but maybe not. I raised him alone and God willing he will raise him with a loving wife and other children, so the burden of waiting will be shared.
This weekend was a lot of waiting. Waiting that involved crying. He went out on Friday night with friends. His night out turned into him coming home at midnight with three friends. They slept over and I made them all a huge breakfast on Saturday morning. My son went to drive his friends home and I did not see him again until after 11:00 at night.
Driving them home turned into hanging at the mall, which turned into lunch, which turned into hanging out at a friend’s house, which tuned into dinner, which turned into going back to the mall. He came home exhausted and went straight to bed. He then got up at 7:30 Sunday morning and went to some trade show for vintage posters or something.
He got home just in time for me to start working. I have spent no time with him this weekend and it makes me sad. It also makes me a little bit angry. I want to be selfish and hide his car keys so he is stuck with me. I know it is silly, but I miss him. I want him to need me. I also want him to make me a priority in terms of his time, which is ridiculous.
He is a wonderful human being and I am blessed to be his mother, so I wait. I suppose motherhood is about waiting forever. I will now prepare to wait for him to visit, wait for his kids to come over, wait for him to look at his children the way I look at him, and know that I did my job right. Motherhood is all about blessings, waiting, and keeping the faith.