Author: Jenna Serignese

What’s in a Name?

In the first year of our marriage, my husband and I were tasked with picking the perfect name for our unborn son.  It is a surprisingly big undertaking, choosing a moniker that is going to identify someone his entire life.  After plenty of daydreaming and suggestions, we found a name that we both loved:  Theodore.  A bit old fashioned and not at all common in these parts.  Ready made for an adorable nickname.  We thought we were all set. At a point in time where my mother’s words still had the possibility of affecting me, she asked me if we had chosen a name and I made the mistake of sharing it with her.  She made it clear that she hated the name.  We ultimately picked a new name and kept it to ourselves. Had we just waited, and introduced little Theo in his teeny newborn clothes, I cannot imagine anyone would have voiced an issue with our choice. (The exception is always my daughter.  On many occasions, she has made it clear that we chose wrong for her, as she should have been named EllaRoseFlower). Toward the end of the years when my mother was living semi-independently (i.e., only through the kindness and patience of family and a close friend), her warping mind determined she no longer wanted to be known by her married name.  She kept the...

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Tripping

Any time my husband has an opportunity to get away, without hesitation, I tell him to go. It does not happen often, but when it does, I recognize the fact that he could use some time away and he deserves that time away. There is just something about hanging with old friends that reminds you of the person you once were, and even sometimes makes you appreciate the person you have grown into. I recognize the great value in a brief period of time where the focus is not on being a parent or a spouse. So when the invitation arises for a baseball game, a guys’ trip to Miami or the Poconos, or, before everyone got married, a bachelor party, he has my full-fledged support. He figures out his travel plans and returns, refreshed (or exhausted, depending upon the trip) and excited to see his family, who shower him with hugs and nonstop chattering. This spring, a girlfriend from graduate school invited me to Ireland. She is turning 40 this year and, before she begins an exciting adventure with her family, she rented a house for a long weekend and invited a small group of her girlfriends to join her and celebrate. Immediately, there were a flurry of group emails, excitedly discussing things to do and places to visit. And from me? Radio silence. My girlfriend recognized that...

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One Crazy Summer

Last week, my son asked me if the summer was half over. We talked about all the different things he had done over the many weeks since second grade ended, and all that was planned during the five full weeks until third grade begins. He was disappointed to realize that his vacation is on the downslide. He could not hear my internal cheering, thrilled that the summer chaos, while still in full swing, is approaching its conclusion. Here’s the thing: the kids are having the summer of their lives. But wow, is it wrecking the adults. My in-laws have a house in southern Maine, so we are fortunate to have a wonderful go-to vacation spot. It’s a magical coastal town, a place that my husband and I love, where we got engaged and later married, a place that our children cherish as much as we do. Two summers ago, we noticed a day camp at one of the beaches. Last summer, the kids attended the camp for a week while my husband and I worked remotely from the house. It was the first time my son had been outside his comfort zone for as long as I could remember.   He still looked shell shocked when we picked him up that first day, when we learned that he barely said more than a few words. But by midday of his...

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Moments of Clarity

Just over two years ago, my older brother took a redeye from California to Connecticut with my mother, ostensibly for a “visit” with her daughter and grandchildren.  My younger brother drove up from New York the night before and the two of us picked them up from the airport.  Without even stopping for breakfast, we drove 45 minutes or so to the nursing home where my mother would soon be living. After all the careful planning it took to get my mother to this point, not one of the three of us reasonably intelligent adults figured out how or when we were going to explain to my mother that her children had jointly determined that she could not live independently and, without her input, found her an appropriate assisted living facility. Of course, in her constantly confused state, this version of my mother did not recognize that, or why, we were at a nursing home.  In fact, sitting in the lobby, she asked if this was where I worked. Finally, sitting downstairs, in the locked memory care unit, with assistance from an administrator, we shared the news with my mother.  When my mother finally understood what was happening to her, tears rolled down her cheeks as she sat there, forcefully and repeatedly stating, “Not gonna happen.”  “This is not going to happen.”  “I am out of here.”  “I will...

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Scars

Later this month, my son turns 8 years old.  The world is his for the taking.  He tells me that he does not plan to get a job when he is a grown up as he is going to be a professional baseball player, who gets to play instead of work.  He is constantly laughing, playing with his hair, negotiating, being goofy.  He is a fantastic first child, making it almost seem possible to reproduce enough to populate a basketball team, if only some higher power could promise four more just like him. Most of the time, I stay in the present, focused on my incredibly blessed life.  But as he approaches third grade, all in, there are times when my defenses are down, after I marvel at his confidence and joie de vivre, when I think about the 8 year old girl I once was. Of course, elementary school memories from over three decades ago are hardly reliable.  I have fuzzy but warm recall of great friends, exciting class plays, independence, the time I tried to bring a pet mouse to school in the pocket of my bomber jacket.  But there are other recollections as well. When I was 8 years old, my world turned on its head.  Before I entered third grade, my father was kind enough to lie to us when explaining that my parents’ decision...

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