Wednesday, September 12, 2018

High School Reunion

I had my class reunion the third weekend of August during our rural town, mid-America hometown festival. While it was so good to see folks I haven’t since June 1, 2003, the greatest reunion I’ve experienced since that time has been the most unexpected.

I had no (known) enemies while I walked the halls of Hagerstown High School years ago. But if you asked me the person that I avoided the most, the answer would have been easy: Her name was Morgan. We didn’t run in the same circles (to be fair, I only ran if I was being chased) and when our 17-year-old lives did overlap, it was never overly friendly. I don’t remember specifically why we were never on the right path from day one, but I know I was never a friend to her, and vice versa. 



Fifteen years later, you can imagine my surprise when I began seeing Morgan in the waiting room each time I had a doctor appointment for our second child. As fate would have it, she, too, was expecting a second child. To take irony one step further, we were due on the exact same day: August 5, 2018.  

A lot can change in fifteen years. 

Over the last seven months, I’ve communicated more with Morgan than anyone from high school. I’ve found her to be a source of comfort (“Can you believe we’re in our last trimester already? The end is near!”), reassurance (“I asked my doctor about that and he said it is completely normal…”), insight (“I have a recipe you have to try…”), humor (“You will not believe what I did today….”), and company (“I hope I’m not waking you, but you’re probably awake, anyway….”). She has become the new friend I never thought I’d need at 34-years-old. 

I’ve learned to view Morgan as the kind of person who has been through a sleepless hell, only to walk out of the flames carrying buckets of water for those (that’s me) still consumed by the fire. I know she’s exhausted, but she always asks me, “Is Cyrus sleeping better for you?” That is kindness from a mother with experience. 

Motherhood is quite lonely, even if you’ve not technically been alone for four weeks, two days and seventeen hours (not that I’m counting). But I’ll tell you, having someone in the trenches with you makes it a whole lot better. If you look at Morgan and I’s paths to today, they’re drastically different in schooling, careers, relationships, and beyond. We've never once talked about high school or the years that fall into the 15-year gap since we spent 45-minute classes together. We only talk about today. Or, last night. I’m grateful that we had one similarity, strangely aligned more than a decade after high school. It’s been a fantastic, ongoing class reunion. 

And, a great lesson to remember when my daughter comes home upset with classmate. I'll now have a story in my back pocket that I can share...
"Don't be mean to her, she may be your lifeline down the road. Let me tell you about a girl named Morgan..."

I think back to my high school self and wonder now what began and drove that wedge between Morgan and I in the early 2000’s? We were adolescent girls, so I’m certain it was petty and brief. Unfortunately, it took me fourteen years and nine long months to resolve it. 

That reminds me of the old question, “Whatever is troubling you: in five years will it still matter?” I wish I would have asked myself that in 2003. That would have spared me a couple awkward visits in a waiting room in order to find a friend in Morgan. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

The Guilt of a Second

I write from the throes of pregnancy at week forty. 

None of my favorite jeans fit, I’m sleeping very little and I find myself hungry all the time. It’s like college all over again, but my beloved Chocolate Shop isn’t right around the corner. 


I have a terrible admission to make. I thought if I tell you – and only you – it’ll be off my chest and perhaps I’ll feel a bit less guilt? We’ll see. 

I feel terribly guilty about having a second child. Our daughter Caroline, who just turned two in July, has soaked up every bit of attention and adoration my husband and I have had to offer for twenty-four months. There is no way a second could capture our hearts in the way she has. It is as though I have little love left to give because my heart is running around the outside of my body, begging to go check cows with her baby doll in tow. 


Is this normal? 

Did anyone else feel like their second child would automatically be getting the short end of the stick right out of the gate? How could I possibly love anything in the way I love our first born?

The second will be introduced to hand-me-down clothes on the day they (gender to be discovered at time of birth) come home from the hospital. 

The second will be swaddled in blankets monogrammed with their big sister’s initials. 

The second will use sippy cups with little teeth marks already along the edges. 

The second will never know a mother without grey hair or dark circles under her eyes. 

The second will be bathed with tattered washcloths, wear bibs with spaghetti stains down the front and strut around in cowboy boots already broken in to fit someone else’s feet. 

The second will read books with missing pages, put together puzzles with bent corners and will never have a plastic kiddie pool to themselves.

The second will be compared to the first, out of habit. Will they walk sooner? Cry longer? Bite harder? I pray daily that they arrive in fewer than twenty-six hours of labor. 

The second will use a pacifier that fell on the barn’s dirt floor and wasn’t boiled afterwards. Or, ever. 

The second will blow out birthday candles that have already been lit and blown out once before.  

The second will never get to name their first heifer without input from the next room over. 

The second will never have their birthdate or initials used in a password sequence.

The second will require a sense of humor, high pain tolerance and fierce independence for survival. 

The second is definitely getting the short end of the stick. 

I told my mom and sister about my feelings of guilt and my perceived inability to ever love a second child in the way I have loved our first. My mom quickly responded to my concern with, “How do you think I felt with three kids?!” 

It should be noted here that I’m child number three. 
And her response actually explains a lot of the last thirty-three years. 





UPDATE:

Cyrus Sankey was born August 10, 2018 and when it comes to my fears listed above, 
I think I've had a change of heart. 







Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Discomfort ≠ Suffering

I have never thought of myself as an individual with an entitlement complex, but I do remember certain experiences where I'd like to go back and kick my own butt. One happened just this morning, so I guess that's why I'm writing today.

My first job out of college took me back to a place I swore I'd never live again: Washington, DC. I had interned there one summer and enjoyed it, but certainly didn't catch the "Potomac fever" as many often did. But one year later, the job I wanted to launch my career required I move back to the east coast; I packed a UHaul and my Ford Focus and began my career on 1301 Pennsylvania Ave. 

I remember rinsing out the office coffee pot at the end of a really bad day, thinking to myself, "I did not go to Purdue University for four years and earn a degree to do this."
After a few minutes of scrubbing the pot in my heels and then wiping down the countertops, I remember thinking: "Your father would absolutely kill you if he knew those words were going through your head right now. You were raised better" 
It's funny how sometimes your upbringing can shout at you from the back of your mind when you're 518 miles from anything you've ever known. 

And do you know what? The next day was better. 
And the day after that was better. 

And day, after day, I learned to be grateful for discomfort on the long days because it made the good days that much better. It also proved that I'm capable of anything. Including washing a coffee pot I never poured a cup from. I also learned how to make coffee at my first job. 



We live in a society where discomfort is associated with suffering. People no longer want to experience any discomfort or inconvenience, at all. 
We expect heated steering wheels and seats. 
We no longer drive to a movie store or even a Red Box; we hit "download" and have whatever we want on our living room big screen.
We have thirty pairs of shoes because each feels different on our feet when the temperature swings by ten degrees. 
We don't pay attention to landmarks or even keep a map in the console because we can type an address into our phones and be spoon fed step-by-step directions. 
We expect our professional careers to be constant climbing and measurements of success because we've studied and worked hard and deserve it. 

The truth is that sometimes you have to go into situations understanding that: 

Challenging jobs,
college experiences, 
buying our not-such-a-dream home, but rather the one we can afford
skipping a vacation, 
a lemon of a used car,
or taking the long way
are all things that might not be comfortable, but they will allow us to grow in unforeseeable ways. 

Someone asked me recently how I've come up with content for a blog for eight straight years. 
Well, sometimes I try to be my own life coach and talk myself off a ledge by typing away on this keyboard. 
Because as I type this, our kitchen sink and counter tops are sitting in the yard and will be there over night. A small kitchen project turned a regular Monday into the most Monday-est Monday, ever and this morning I washed breakfast dishes in the 6:00 AM darkness by garden hose while the barn cats watched, smirking. 




So, yeah. 
My discomfort is not suffering. 
It's just a phase of life. 
Let's just hope this phase moves fast. I've got big things to do next week and I don't like making eye contact with animals when I'm still in my nightgown. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Me Before You

Time flies when you spend your evenings pulling corn cobs from the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.

Caroline turned two years old on Sunday and in 24 months' time I've learned time passes more quickly when you're living for something beyond yourself. I mean, I thought recess went fast decades ago, but motherhood moves at lightning speed. 

Very few songs you'll hear on the mainstream radio keep my attention for two full minutes. But the current song that garners my full attention when broadcast is Brothers Osborne's "I Don't Remember Me (Before You)". It's a song about a guy who - despite seeing pictures or hearing stories - can't remember himself before he met the love of his life. It is spellbinding.


Although there are ways I can relate to that song, I certainly do remember life before I loved Caroline. 

For instance, 

Before Caroline my Amazon searches consisted of must-read books, Liverpool jeans and kitchen gadgets that allow me to open and aerate wine more quickly. 
Two years in, and my Amazon searches consist of toddler water shoes, Pull-Ups and gummy vitamins. 

Before Caroline, Cody and I could talk about anything, anywhere, any time. 
Two years in, and our breakfast conversation goes something like this:
"I have to breed C-O-W-S first thing this morning. Your plans?" Cody asks.
"When we get home from town I'm going to fill the P-O-O-L. Have you charged the J-E-E-P?" I respond. 
"Yes. It's behind the T-R-A-C-T-O-R." 
Our adult dialog is a constant spelling bee to avoid losing track of the tasks at hand. 

Before Caroline I never gave a second thought to the pigment of the outer edge of my drink ware.
Two years in, and I realize you can ruin a person's entire morning by pouring milk into the wrong color cup. 

Before Caroline I enjoyed showers. 
Two years in, and I can shower, shave and moisturize in less time than it used to take me to undress. Motherhood is a prime case study of survival of the fittest efficient. 

Before Caroline I could get into the refrigerator and simply select what I needed then promptly shut the door to keep the cold air in. 
Two years in, and I find myself giving a diaper diva a four-minute synopsis of the practical uses of every condiment on the door shelves, followed by a 30-second lesson on energy and appliance efficiency. She never seems to care about the energy lesson because I repeat it five times a day. 

Before Caroline I could try on clothes in a dressing room without saying a word....other than, "The hell? Did I grab the wrong size?"
Two years in, and I find myself saying these phrases on repeat:
"Do NOT unlock that door."
"Stand up! Do NOT peak under that wall!"
"I appreciate your self-confidence, but please stop licking the mirror."

Before Caroline I would spend my evenings doing chores and focusing on heat cycles, levels inside the creep and mineral feeders and pasture growth. 
Two years in, and I find my feeding time twice as long because I have a chore pal who thinks cows in standing heat is hilarious,  enjoys getting her hands in bags of feed to explore textures and likes picking forage samples and showing me every red clover she can find. 



Before Caroline my time was my own. 
Two years in, everything takes twice as long, but is one hundred times over more gratifying. 

There are days when I'm not sure who is learning more, Caroline or her parents, but let's keep that between us.
And while I'll never be a mother that claims to not remember the me before her, despite the self-doubt and dry shampoo, I like this version of myself a whole lot better. 








Wednesday, June 20, 2018

What I Learned from Polly

In recent conversation, I thought of a name I hadn’t in years. 

“Powell. Are they related to Polly Powell?” I asked my cohort.
“Yes, same family. How in the world do you know Polly Powell?” he questioned, back. “She’s quite a bit older than you.”

I thought back briefly to how I knew that name. 

“When I was young, like, your daughter’s age, she was fair queen and she stopped and talked to me at the fair. And that made my entire year. I hadn’t thought of her in a long time,” I explained to him. 

It turned out to be an association so simple, yet quite significant. 

It was true; I hadn’t thought of her in a long time, but she influenced me greatly. During a demanding week of schedules, obligations, heat and responsibility, Wayne County 4-H Fair Queen Polly Powell didn’t pass up an opportunity to visit with a young, impressionable girl. One she did not even know. She got down on my level and asked me a couple questions. I studied her crown and sash. She had perfect teeth. Some things you just don’t forget. 

A decade after Polly, at the age of 17, I was crowned queen over the fair. It was because of that brief encounter years before that I made a conscious effort to be aware of the younger people around me during that week. Who was watching me? Who could I say hello to? It really was incredible how one (very one-sided) conversation left such an impression. That entire year, I tried to be more like Polly.


And so, a lesson for those in the second half of their 4-H career about to spend a week at the county fair, or the ones who are getting organized to attend a national junior livestock show somewhere across the country: 
You're in a unique position to offer something very positive to those around you. 

There are little eyes upon you, who think you’re the best, the expert, maybe even an idol of theirs. Perhaps the greatest swine showman or steer fitter or wood worker or cake baker they’ve ever seen. They already know your name, probably your club or your state association. There is someone who would love to say hello to you, to learn from you, or someone who may just stop by your stall to watch you work. Let them. 

Meet them. Get to know them. Show them how. Teach them. Show them what kindness is. 

It is in those brief encounters that you may encourage a hobby, dream or livelihood. 
You may build a bit of confidence in someone who is lacking it terribly. 
You may bring a bright spot to a day where there hasn’t been sunshine in weeks. 
I encourage you to look around during the busiest of weeks and find someone who could use a brief “how’s it going?” from you, a possible mentor. 

Last Friday the Wayne County 4-H Fair Queen Contest committee hosted a reception for all sixty former Wayne County 4-H Fair Queens at Centerville High School. The earliest queen in attendance was 1959 – how awesome is that? I attended hoping to visit with gals I hadn’t seen in a long time, but also to officially meet Polly. I wanted to thank her for influencing my actions so many years ago. She wasn’t in attendance. I did take a look at the historic wall hanging they had on display to confirm just how old I was when Polly Powell was queen. It was 1992; I was just shy of 8 years old. 

Twenty-six years later, and I still associate very good things with a gal I’ve never met because she created an opportunity to influence a little girl.

Although I do remember the dress she had on that day in 1992 (ask me what I ate for breakfast - I have no idea) what was special about Polly wasn’t the fashion in which she wore her crown as a queen, but rather the way in which she used it to show kindness.





Wednesday, June 13, 2018

I Want More

The house that built me sat close enough to I-70 that we could see the interstate when the corn was down, but we couldn't hear it. We knew if east or west bound lanes were stopped, but it required the use of binoculars to figure out why. 

To pass time in the late 80's, early 90's, we'd use Dad's commercial grade walkie-talkies to contact truckers passing by...under the condition, of course, that we never told the truckers where we were located. We'd often ask the drivers where they were heading to, coming from or hauling. If really feeling ornery (quite often), we'd taunt them and tell them we heard truck driver wore pantyhose. This is the exact reason why we couldn't reveal our location: I guess mom didn't want a fleet of semi's lining our road, trying to track down mouthy kids. 

Because let's face it:
We weren't talking to Teddy Bear. 

Time seems to repeat itself. Thirty years later, Caroline is spending her early years in a house that sits on a busy highway. A portion of nearly every day is spent in our yard, trying to get semis to honk at us. I've taught her how to move her arm up and down and yell, "HONK! HONK!", and though she's small, every once in a while, she's able to garner enough attention that a driver actually does honk at her. It becomes the highlight of her day. 



But as soon as the truck is out of sight, without fail, her response is the exact same, "Mommy, I want more!" She even signs "more, please" to reiterate her wishes. 

It didn't take long for me to notice the trend. She'd work her arm up and down for five trucks until one finally took notice. Then, as soon as the one or two honks were done, she instantly wanted more. And guess what ol’ mom did to make sure that happened? I took part in the charade – darn near throwing out my back to get the attention of a Red Gold rig. 


One or two honks more honks, then she instantly wanted more and more. 
But isn't that the world we live in? 
We get a little bit of something that we like, and immediately we want more. 

We want our kids in more activities so their time is packed with social events, constant stimulation and activity so they don't miss out on anything. 

We get numerous "likes" or reactions on Facebook and we feel the urge to post more often to get positive attention from a random sample of people. (This is where regular selfie offenders about wear me out.)

We continue to say "yes" to volunteer projects, group involvement, giving feedback, youth activities and more because someone told us five years we were good at it. Now we're edgy, can't remember the last time the entire family was around the dinner table for a prepared meal and actually quite exhausted because we're pulled in one hundred different directions because someone else wanted more. 

Sometimes too much of a good thing is not in fact, good. We deplete our resources of time, energy and attention to the point where the things that need them most (our children, marriages and families) are getting the short end of the stick. We run our bodies and minds into the ground trying to get everything done because someone wanted more of us. We forget to take care of ourselves because we’re taking care of something else less important, often forgetting:


“But we held up our end of the deal!” we tell ourselves, when the season is over or the project is done or the event has successfully passed. 
Sure – but at what expense?  

“The things that matter most should never be 
at the mercy of the things that matter least.” 
- Goethe 

At what point is what we have before us, or on our plate, enough? 

This is an area where I struggle as a parent: teaching an almost two-year-old that we can't always get more when we want it, even if we say please. Moderation in all areas in life is a positive thing, and that is a lesson I’m learning myself in my mid-thirties. 

There are several groups I’m learning to engage in less often (this means learning to say no to a commitment or not volunteering simply because no one else will) during this stage of life. They’re each wonderful groups which have a special place in our livelihood, but right now they’re just not at the top of my priority list when it comes to time, energy or attention. It is a tough lesson to learn by someone who has always been involved in so much, but the choice has afforded me more slowed, intentional, quality time with the brown eyed brunette that I live with. Actually, both of them.  



Tomorrow will roll around and we’ll continue to “HONK! HONK!” at truckers in hopes that they respond to the little girl in a big yard on the busy highway. I’ll quit putting in a lot of effort to garner “More!” results from semis, partly to teach Caroline a lesson and partly to keep my back in working order. And, I’ll continue to find ways to show Caroline that saying “I want more” won’t always yield the best results in life. 

Sometimes we have to step back and say, 
“I have enough.”

Parenting is serious business isn’t it? 
Especially when you can’t tell who is teaching whom more. 




Friendly reminder:


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Reporting for Jury Duty

I grew up watching Perry Mason and Matlock, so my expectations for jury duty were pretty high. 



With fifty or so other Wayne County residents, I reported to the courthouse Monday morning to serve my civic duty. We have a nice courthouse, with exceptionally tall ceilings, large windows, spots of stained glass and a budget that apparently doesn't support air conditioning on 85-degree days. 



This was my first experience with jury duty, so I read from front to back the handy booklet they give you at check-in. I was especially interested in the glossary in the back, so I could at least pretend to know what they were talking about. I usually have the Dateline cases solved by the time we get to this point in the show, so I needed to brush up a bit. 

The judge weeded through the fodder pretty quickly once we got started. He asked if anyone was currently convicted of a felony or on probation. As fate might have it, the gentleman to my left was excused during that time. I have a real knack for picking a seat. 

Down the line we were asked if we knew anyone in law enforcement well enough that our opinion could be swayed, or we could obtain special information about the case. I was shocked at how many people in our random sample of fifty folks are related to police officers. My personal favorite example was the gal whose great uncle was a traffic cop. With more questioning, we learned he died three years ago, so she felt confident she could keep quiet about the case, should she be selected as one of the twelve. 

I considered raising my hand and telling the judge that my date to the winter semi-formal dance my senior year of high school is now an undercover officer, but I didn't want to get into the messy details of adolescence.

Four selected jurors were quite vocal in their belief that the defendant was guilty until proven innocent (rather than innocent until proven guilty) so that got them on the fast track for dismissal. I wondered what jaded life experience had gotten the four to that point, but I didn't ask questions. By this time, we were an hour into the process and nine seats remained open. My goal was to avoid all eye contact so perhaps they would forget I was there. 

While sitting on the sidelines, admittedly just waiting for my name to be called, I thought about all the things I could - and should - have been doing on that Monday:
Exploring outside with Caroline
Visiting Grandma
Writing scripts for three agronomy videos to be shot next week 
Answering Monday morning emails
Grocery shopping
Laundry to the line
Prepping dinner
Rescheduling a dentist appointment
Creating marketing pieces for a February 2019 event
and so much more.
Instead, I sat in a hot, old room waiting to be casted onto the 2018 version of 12 Angry Men



Then came Roger. 
Roger was probably fifty-five, but on this particular day he appeared to be closer to seventy-five. He moved extremely slowly to the jury box and wasn't stable when moving between the rows of chairs. His hair was unkept. His sweatshirt had stains down the front. She was unshaven. His white K-Swiss shoes were grass stained.
The judge asked Roger if there was any reason why he couldn't serve on a jury for the next three days. 
"I'm having a hard time staying awake. I'll admit, I fell asleep during the movie, here in the beginning," he went on to quietly tell the judge. 
"Sir, you'll have to speak up. This is being recorded and we cannot make out what you're saying. Do you have a special circumstance that is making you so tired this morning?" the judge asked. 
"I went to work at 10:00 last night. Got off at 7:00.......I went to my mother's and gave her a bath......I'm trying to get her into a nursing home but I can't afford that right now.....Then I came here......I'm just tired," Roger finished, slowly and still a bit muffled. 
"When do you go back to work?" asked the judge. 
"Tonight.......at 10:00," Roger said with his head down. 

Instantly, my better-things-to-do list became incredibly insignificant and trivial. I became sincerely grateful for a night of rest with Caroline's sleep talking as my only interruption.  I closed my eyes and prayed for Roger, his mother, and rest for both. I prayed that God would bless him in a special way this week. 
Roger was dismissed. I hope he went straight home and slept before reporting back to work. 

Two other men were dismissed from duty because they admitted that if they didn't report to work that day, they would not have the funds to pay child support. My case for inconvenience was growing weaker and weaker. 

One lady admitted she has trouble paying attention, and if they put her in a room with windows for three days, all she'll do is watch the leaves blow in the breeze. The entire east wall of the courtroom was windows. She was sent on her merry way. 

One by one, the selection process narrowed down the pool of viable jury candidates. I became more vested in the process because I realized I was quite capable of serving in such a way. Caroline was taken care of for the day, dentist appointments could be rescheduled, I have a good sense of right from wrong, and I was capable of listening to facts and making my own judgement. 

Of the fifty or so who walked into the courthouse that morning, only seven were left as unselected. I was one of the seven. I took three flights of marble steps to the ground floor and texted Cody, letting him know I was able to communicate again. 

I blew out of those courthouse doors like a free woman. 
A free woman with a realization that God has a way of putting life's troubles, worries and problems in perspective. 
It took me over four hours of sitting and listening to strangers' experiences, priorities, home life and circumstances to realize how fortunate I am. All of that, before a minute of testimony was heard.


It is true:


I never even got to hear a minute of the trial, which turned out to be fine by me. Even though I truly believe my years of job shadowing Angela Lansbury would have paid off tremendously in that moment. 

Maybe next time. 


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Old Friend Leaving Town

I’m having a terribly hard time coming to terms with Elder-Beerman closing. 

Some of my earliest memories were walking from the parking garage across the sky bridge to the massive department store. I remember when Mom would have gifts wrapped and how precisely the paper was folded, tied with a perfect, sparkling bow. I remember eating at the restaurant with Grandma. I’m not certain of the year, but at some point they closed that restaurant. It should have been a sure sign, then: you stop feeding people, the end is inevitably near. I think the year was something like 1989.

In my teen years Mom took me to the Clinique counter to learn more about applying make-up. Suzy also did my make-up for the county 4-H fair queen contests I participated in. When I was crowned queen, mom took me back to Elder-Beerman to find a couple suitable dresses to wear to present ribbons and trophies. 
Then I moved to college, but not before visiting the grand old store for things that college girls wear: jeans that wouldn’t fit after the first semester, sweaters that would make me cringe when looking at photos a decade later and shirts that made it quite obvious why I didn’t meet my husband during my four years at Purdue. 



My first job out of college took me to Washington, DC. Before leaving, I burned up my 20% off coupons, card holder rewards incentives and yellow dot coupons. I remember finding a pair of business gauchos I loved, so I bought them in every color Elder-Beerman had available. I invested in comfortable pumps that would get me from my apartment in Arlington to my office at 1301 Pennsylvania Avenue. They had a good sole and sturdy heel. Both were required; I stepped on a lot of sidewalk grates. 



One of my favorite memories from Washington actually included Elder-Beerman. I worked at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association out east. One afternoon, we were having a meeting about animal health and all the leaders from that industry were welcomed to our office. One of the key influencers on The Hill, shot callers, Big Dogs – we actually called her Mrs. BAYER – came to our office for the event. She made over my necklace and asked who my designer was? 

I remember thinking: “Lady, I’m barely making rent in a ground floor apartment where my windows are chalked shut with a 2 x 4. I plan my meals around which political reception I’m going to attend for the food. I don’t have a personal jewelry designer!”

Of course, I didn’t say that. I thanked her for the ravishing compliment and told her my designer’s name was Erica Lyons. She’d claimed to have never heard of her. That was probably because this woman didn’t shop the discount section of Elder-Beerman.

In 2016 I visited a corner of the store that I never knew existed as a child: the maternity section. I sincerely remember in that moment thinking how Elder-Beerman has seen me grow up, through so many phases of life. 

Now, as a mother, my visits to the beloved department store require a trip to the second floor where the children’s clothes are. My focus has changed to stocking a future closet with things which are on sale now, that Caroline can eventually grow into. 

My wardrobe has shrunk tremendously over the years, for a couple reasons: 1) I’ve learned to find a few staple pieces that will remain in style despite the trends, so at my age I focus more on classic than what is currently in style; 2) it is more fun to shop for someone with rolls on her thighs (to clarify, I’m talking about Caroline), than to be in a ladies’ dressing room, myself, and 3) two words: Farm. Payment. 



In fact, in 2018 my goal was to see how long I could go without spending a penny on myself. This challenge excluded things like face cream or toothpaste but focused on frivolous spending on things I wanted rather than needed. I’m proud to say that I did not spend a penny on myself this year until we took mom to Nashville the last weekend in April. I stopped by Elder-Beerman several times January through April, but my Platinum Elite card never came out of my purse. 

OH. MY. GOSH. 

Is my foolish personal goal the reason they’re closing?? I’m going to be sick. 

When the last racks are cleared later this spring, Richmond will have lost such a huge part of downtown. Nowhere else can you sit in your car and enjoy a JoyAnn Bakery treat, then walk across the street and try to fit into a pair of jeans because they’re a Door Buster bargain. I’ll really miss washing down that cookie with a big glass of guilt. Also, nowhere else in town can you bring in bags of Goodwill clothes and then receive coupons to purchase more things to fill your closet. The irony is abundant.  


Mom and I have already discussed making our last run to our beloved Elder-Beerman, together. It will be the end of an era in terms of visiting downtown Richmond, mother/daughter shopping days, actually visiting a store front to purchase clothes, then hiding them in the trunk until our husbands aren’t home so we can sneak multiple bags into the house. 

Oh, Elder-Beerman. You’ve been a good, fun and faithful friend.