My first “official” boyfriend was a young man named Pat. We were 14 years old. He was such a good guy. I am sure he still is. I don’t know how many actual “dates” we went on as high school freshman, but on our first date we went to a carnival/bazaar at a local church. It was great and awkward and wonderful and everything a girl’s first date should be.

My first husband and I met when I was 18 years old. Our first date, where we “happened” to meet each other after being set-up by a mutual friend, was at a bar – our favorite underage watering hole. Eight years later, we were married. Sadly, seven years after that, we were divorced. But during those seven years, I was blessed with the gift of three small miracles – a girl and two boys. For this, I will always be grateful.

My new husband and I had a very special, five-month long courtship over the phone and via text. He made me laugh like I had never laughed before. We knew each other for years – since my early 20s – as he is the brother of one of my dearest friends, but it took those extra 15 years of living separate lives and then five months of reconnecting and building a solid friendship before we finally reunited at a local restaurant for our first date. After drinks, we didn’t want the night to end, so we did the next logical thing – we went bowling (you know I must of have been falling hard because I hate bowling). Fast forward to today and we are happily married with five children (three from my previous marriage; two from his). I cherish this man and the family we have so beautifully blended together.

Those are the three dates with the three men I choose to remember. The three first dates that are worth remembering.

I added one more this past weekend … it was a different kind of date – not one of romantic feelings, yet the strongest love you can feel for another person. I went on the best date of my life – with a 10-year-old boy; my oldest son, Joey.

Hand-in-hand we walked to the station platform, and he cuddled up to my warm coat to try and escape the frosty chill of the air. As the train approached, he cautiously held me back, nervous that we may get too close to the edge. Once on the train, our conversation never stopped as he excitedly talked about the basketball game we were going to see and all the players he admired as I pretended to know who and what he was talking about. I probably would have preferred to play Candy Crush during our 53-minute ride to New York City, but when would I ever get this time back and his undivided attention? He wanted to hang out with me. He wanted to talk with me. He wanted this time. Candy Crush could wait. Keep talking Joey…

When we arrived at Penn Station, again he carefully took my hand and said “watch the gap” which all LIRR train riders know means to clear the few inches between the train and the platform. Outside on the city streets, still hand-in-hand, he marveled at all the tall buildings. He was mesmerized. I was so in love with his amazement.

Once in Madison Square Garden, we stocked up on supplies – water, a pretzel, and popcorn – before heading to our seats. “Hey mom, do you think we can get cotton candy later, too?” Sure Joe. Who needs dinner, anyway?

The rest of the night was more of the same … Joey was excitedly watching his favorite players, and I was excitedly watching Joey enjoy our evening. Swish! Slam dunk! Two points!

On the train ride home, he put his head on my shoulder and thanked me for the greatest night of his life and told me I am his best friend. HIS. BEST. FRIEND.

I will hold on to that night in my memories as long as I am blessed to live on this earth as his mother.

As parents, we only want what is best for our children. One day, I know Joey will find the love of a lifetime and will treat her the way the love of a lifetime should be treated. Until then, I am sure he will sweat through a bunch of first dates and possible heartbreaks.

But through it all, I am confident that my boy will always cherish his first true love – his momma; his best friend!



Dear Santa,

By now, you have already received the “wish lists” from my children (aka – the contents of the entire Toys R Us/Target/WalMart/Best Buy holiday circulars). How about this? I’ll help you out with those pricey requests, but you have to help me out with my personal wishes.

I have been a good mom all year. OK, I’ll admit, on occasion I *may* have wanted to throw my children out the window (metaphorically speaking, of course!) and *possibly* pretended I didn’t know them while we were in public (to be fair, they were acting like jack-asses!), but on the whole, I have made sure they were happy and healthy. I did their God awful homework with them, kept them fed and relatively clean (10-year-old boys are pretty gross!). And I always have – every single day – loved them with all my heart (sigh)!

That said, I am asking for the following Christmas gifts this year:

  • One morning, JUST ONE, when the kids don’t ask me: “Where is/are my clothes, shoes, schoolbag, homework, jacket, etc.?”
  • One afternoon, JUST ONE, when the kids decide to do their homework without being told (bonus: without asking me for help or giving me a “just five more minutes” whine).
  • One evening, JUST ONE, when everyone is happy about the dinner menu (and NOT when it is pizza).  Bonus: they put their dishes in the dishwasher.  You know what, I’m not going to push my luck – JUST PUT THEM IN THE SINK!
  • One day, JUST ONE, when I wasn’t at least a little bit tired.  If you can’t deliver on that, maybe you can work a nap in to my day.  Pretty please.  With sugar on top.
  • One car ride, JUST ONE, without the kids asking: “Are we there yet?”  Oh, and it would be super awesome if they didn’t drop their fast food french fries or Xtra Cheddar Goldfish on the floor of the car.
  • A couple of “me minutes” each day – you know, enough time to brush my teeth and wash my hair without the constant sound of “mommy, mama, mom, ma, mommy, mamma, mom, ma” distracting me from everyday hygiene.

In return, I promise you the following:

  • Continue, each year, to support your image at our local mall by purchasing $0.79 worth of photos for $25 (no thanks, we don’t need the keychain – much less two of them…I can’t find my keys half the time anyway).
  • Hold you to one of the highest powers to ensure somewhat decent etiquette of my children (admit it, you love the power trip…though I will admit, the freakin creepy little Shelf Elf is a close second in terms of threatening the kids to have good behavior!).
  • To leave you cookies and milk (and maybe some Bailys!) every Christmas Eve and to make sure the fire is out in the fireplace…you’re welcome.

By the way, Santa, if you are feeling extra generous, feel free to leave *yours truly* gift certificates for an eye lift, hair coloring and a new wardrobe. Some wine and chocolates would be a nice treat too. By the way, does Mrs. Claus offer any free babysitting?

Thanks, in advance, jolly guy.

Hugs & cheers from … one grateful mom!


My first-born son, Joey, recently celebrated his 10th birthday.  I have been the mother of a young-man-in-the-making for ten years….one full decade…3,653 days.  In eight short years, he will be leaving the nest, flying the coop, heading off to college.

Here is how I see this going…

The time: August 2023, drop-off day at college

The setting: My 18-year-old son sits quietly on his neatly made bed in his perfectly clean dormitory room accented by family photos, including an 8×10 of his first love….his mom.  He is taking a break from studying (even before classes have started) to read a letter I slipped on his nightstand after a mutually tearful good-bye.

My dear son,

As you are ready – dare I say eager – to say goodbye and start the next chapter of your life as a college freshman, please know how much I love you and how proud I am of you – especially for receiving a full, four-year scholarship to one of the finest universities in America [This is my letter and I just dropped my son off at college – let me have this!].  I think back on all of the years mothering you, preparing you – and myself – for this moment.  Guess what?  I’m not prepared.  But I have prepared these thoughts for you.  Please never forget them, and never forget how much you are loved, how much you will be missed while you are away at school, and how important it is to change the sheets on your bed.  Seriously, change your sheets.

Looking back, I remember the greatest moments, the most fun times, the snapshots of your childhood.  And of course, I am reminded of just how much you love amusement parks – the whole experience from the rides to the games to the junk food we would share.  These are such wonderful memories that I will forever cherish.

That said, I will try and convey these bits of advice in a way you might appreciate.  Let’s go on a little ride I call “Mother’s Wisdom:”

  • Life will always have ups and downs; twists and turns – it’s a roller coaster of sorts.  Always buckle your seat belt.
  • Sometimes it will seem like life is dizzying and you are spinning around and around – like you are on the Tea Cups.  Always know where the closest bathroom is in case you get sick.  (And, always wash your hands after using the restroom.)
  • You will often have to wait to get where you want to be – remember standing in line for more than two hours for a two-minute ride at that park with all the mouse ears?  Good things come to those who wait.  Patience is a virtue.
  • Funnel cakes, cotton candy and snow cones are delicious – but there is such thing as too much of a good thing.  Don’t overindulge – in anything.
  • You may want to win a girl a $2 stuffed animal that will cost you $20 – in other words, you will want to impress her with a gift.  If she is worth it, do it.  If not, save your cash and buy your mom something special.
  • While you are too old for the face-painting booth, if you are suddenly interested in getting a tattoo, you need to remember it will not wash off – no matter how hard you scrub.  Don’t do it.  (But, if you must, can I recommend the word “mom” with a nice heart?)
  • Do not focus solely on physical appearances.  Think of it like the House of Mirrors – what may look a little odd on the outside does not represent the person within.  See people for who they really are – not just what they look like.
  • Sure, you can kick butt in the water gun game, but sometimes it’s better to save some glory for the underdog or the child sitting next to you.  Think about your little brother.
  • This is a big one – perhaps the most important of this list: Treat women as you would want your sister to be treated.
  • The flashiest Roller Coasters are not necessarily the best use of your time.  Remember to enjoy the simpler things in life.
  • The Bumper Cars are a ride – only a ride.  Always drive responsibly.
  • Never underestimate the simplicity of the Merry-Go-Round.  There is always something different to see each time you travel – even on the same path.  Keep your eyes open for the things you never realized were right in front of you.
  • Even when you feel like you are on top of the world – like when you ride a Ferris wheel – you will, eventually, be brought down to reality.  Enjoy your successes, but remember life has its share of ups and downs.
  • Do not waste your time playing games that are designed not to be won.  Reach for the stars, but don’t set unrealistic goals.  Know your limits.
  • Don’t live on the edge.  Tightropes and trapezes are for trained performers.  Don’t gamble with your safety.  Ever.  EVER. E-V-E-R!
  • Do not hang out with a bunch of clowns.  Pick your friends wisely.  They can be fun to be around but make sure there is more to the company you keep than the ability to make balloon animals.
  • You must be “this many inches tall” to ride.  OK, you tower over me now.  You are tall, dark and handsome – I get that.  But you are still not old enough to drink alcohol. 

 Much like an amusement park, life can be exciting, thrilling, awesome, amazing and astounding.  But it can also be scary, nerve-wracking, overwhelming and terrifying.  Don’t be afraid to try new things, but always remember: 1) use good judgment and 2) if you need me, I will always be here to hold your hand – oh, and share your funnel cake.

I love you.  Now, go study.  Or, call me.  Yes…call me – I miss you already.

xoxo, Mom

(I miss him already)