Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Personal Love letter to Parenthood; Parenthood and PAIN

No parent is prepared to lose their child. You are blessed with the supreme gift of parenting, to guide, to love and to raise a child.  It is unfathomable to love a being so much and have their life taken before it begins to blossom.  Your heart grows fully at their birth to encompass the future of another precious life  It is filled with the miracle of the unique being in your arms, full of promise and dreams.  A part of your soul shrivels and dies...it shrinks to a hard bitter foul pit impossible to swallow when your child is taken from your arms.  There is only faith in the word of your Higher Being that can save you from the bowels of overwhelming despair, it is impossible to defeat the fog of sadness without the hope and promise of a reunion of spirit and heart in another plane. 

Just today, I questioned my own reasons for parenthood...why would I project my own unmet dreams on my child? For Olivia to do and be better than I ever accomplished, how unrealistic and unfair are my projected expectations for her life, it can result in an unhealthy unhappy relationship. Why should my success be based on how I raised my girl; to be the very thing that I could not be?  One should never expect their child to be what the parent failed to be.  Parenting is a responsibility that is daunting and is often fraught with a history of familial pain that can color the joy of THIS precious child in your life. I wasted years without a purpose in my own life.  Really, a wasted life until our Tyler was born. Our Tyler was a lesson from God that was life-changing. A gift to share and not be forgotten.  

Dearest Olivia, no matter how much I say I don't want you to "be me" I can't prevent you from making the same mistakes that i made.  At some point, I have to let my expectations go and know that your life is what you choose and not what I expected it to be.  You can't make someone be successful or accomplished as a substitute for your own inadequacies, your child must have that drive on their own. Parenting, empathy, compassion, classes, summper camps can be shown as an example of a full life, but that does not mean that your child will echo your values or exceed your failures.  My own life disappointments should not be a pattern for another life based on the expectations of others. My mother felt this pain all her youth and she could not keep the insecurities in her life keep me from repeating them. Momma and I went to couples therapy at one point in our life because our relationship was so fractured and dysfunctional .  I'll never forget the counselor asking me "Did I want to repeat the anguish and pain of generations of women before me?  Did I have the guts to break free from this cycle of poor self esteem and being a doormat to life's curveballs?"  And I fear that my insecurities from my young adulthood have created the same lack of self-esteem in you, my precious Olivia. Parenthood is not easy. 

Our children are not a vessel to fulfill our own unmet expectations. They are God's gift to be their own unique beings with His plan for their life. The Greatest Love of All.....

My childhood friend has lost her daughter...my adult friend lost her adult son....we lost our son. Parents are not meant to see their children die before them. It is Hell on earth. There are no words to ease the pain. I was questioning the value of parenting today and then I get a big FACE slap reminder that there is no greater love than a parent to a child. And sometimes that is all there is, the love of child, pure and simple.  It makes you human and connects you to life in its fullest.  We are linked by our love of family. The love of your child is an unconditional love that encompasses all hurts and disappointments.  You love with all your being, you forgive the unforgivable, you hope to instill your values, your dreams and hopes.  Then,.at times, you realize most harshly that life with children is not what you planned but a lesson in how you deal with the challenges.  This hyper-impatient perfectionist waited 9 1/2 years to hear an "I love you" from a boy with a heart of pure gold.  I had to learn to cherish this child that was not whole.  How unfair of me to apply a greater standard of perfection to his sister and expect her to be all that I was not, or to compensate for what was lost when Tyler passed away.   

Our Children are our future let them lead the way.  

I was most unhappy with myself for not funding the Camp Redbird Reunion Picnic this year, held in honor of Tyler.  Fred's heart attack was the priority and it consumed my days and funds.  It doesn't mean that we have forgotten to memorialize the life we lost.  Ty's connection to Camp Redbird was his summer salvation.  Once he gained a comrade in his nurse, Gordon, he loved the autonomy of a day without therapy and school.  Supporting his causes has always been a comfort in spite of our loss.

I urge those parents to find and support the causes that meant something to their lost child.  Lemonade for Cancer, Therapeutic Recreation for the Handicapped, Zap for Cerebral Palsy

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Far from the Madding Crowd, Mad Beach Fish House is Beachy Keen

After a relaxing bit of pampering (manicure/pedicure for moi and pedicure for the ever so ticklish Mister) our tummies were protesting the abnormal length of time spent soaking our toes in bubbly hot lemon scented mineral water.  Our coupled thoughts were bubbling to the surface about our long delayed lunch.  The gossip and chit-chat with Angie had centered around those crazy pedicures where the small fish attack the soaking feet and nibble away the flesh of your toughened callused feet.  Hmm, hot steamy water and nibbling fish, excuse me, I mean nibbling ON fish...sounds like a steamed seafood bucket to me.

Didn't the esteemed Jon of the SOG City Oracle mention a nice seafood establishment in Madeira Beach? Hmm, this may take a bit of conniving to get the Mister to go along for this ride. After choosing a bright boiled lobster red nail polish (foreshadowing my desire perhaps a bit too literally) for my buffed and sanded tootsies...it seemed only natural to head to Mad Beach Fish House for a well deserved lunch. After all, one of my favorite bloggers had already done the reconnaissance for us. The Mister had tolerated his pedicure with a minimum of squirming and kicking.  I did not have to tip extra for the hazard of cleaning his toes.  Thankfully, this time no one took a karate kick to the chin for a foot massage.  Plus, Mad Beach Fish House fit the Notyourmomma rules of good eats...a) it is not a chain, b) it is someplace new to us, c) we were halfway there, eliminating the bellyaching from the Mister about being too far away, d) gorgeous day, convertible, Madeira beach, easy as ABC 123.Mad Beach Fish House on Urbanspoon

It was bordering on the super-late lunch time or hyper-early early bird, that in-between time that can leave a hungry diner looking anxiously for their absent server on a break or busy with sidework for the next shift. This was not the case at Mad Beach, our server was very attentive and her cheerful attitude only added to the pleasure of our lunch.  Gratefully for this Notyourmomma there is an elevator to reach the top level of the restaurant.  Hey, no cracks about the elevator not going all the way to the top, I know who you are.  This old lady is happy for easy access and no stairs to climb.   We had our choice of tables and picked a lovely bench seat overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.
 The benches were reminiscent of Adirondack seating and painted a lovely distressed pale teal blue.  The walls were decorated with typical beach murals, sand tastefully done.  The owners had just purchased the restaurant last October. They have been rehabbing and adding a large Tiki style bar to the bar and patio. There are plans to have a seafood market in the near future.  All of this bodes well to enjoy a well made seafood feast.

After ordering the requisite light beer for the Mister and the tall Vodka and tonic for me, we quickly chose our appetizers while perusing the rest of the menu for our main courses.  The Mister's six advertised Key West Oysters were actually nine per serving due to the smaller size of the oysters. The oysters were topped crab & parmesan, then broiled.  He scarfed them down quickly.  I was offered nary a bite.
 Well, then!  I couldn't resist the lure of fried lobster.  I received light battered nuggets of sweet lobster.  Not greasy, hot, tender and just yummy.  It may be sacrilegious to fry a lobster, but it was way better than the ubiquitous gator or conch nugget.

The Mister was an easy sell on the lobster grilled cheese with tomato and grilled onions on sourdough.  He chose some excellent hand cut fries as his side and a disappointingly small cup of sad slaw.  (Note to chef...fix the slaw, give it a beauty makeover with red cabbage, carrot shreds and a bright tart dressing, lemon/mustard/honey/mayo combo or a chipotle mayo and slivered green onions?)  His sandwich was phenomenal looking and just as drool worthy as the picture.  He was in sandwich nirvana.

Okay, I contemplate the aforementioned bucket for one as my meal, but my appetite was whetted by the fried lobster to try a nibbler lunch approach.  I chose a cup of the conch chowder, a side of red beans and rice, plus a half pound of the peel and eat shrimp in Old Bay shake.  With a bit of a misstep with the conch chowder, I was a very happy beach bum.

The conch chowder lacked some serious heat, both in temperature and in seasoning.  The little pieces of conch were chewy and it tasted as if it had possibly scorched on the steam table, but it was not steaming hot.  Not worth a re-fire, I'll just chalk it up to the lateness of the lunch and it has suffered at the end of shift.  There was a heavy tomato presence and only a slight hint of heat. (Note to chef...lose the super sweet tomato base, add some heat, develop a deep roux and you'll make that limp cup better by far).

Boy, oh boy did the red beans and rice make up for every spoonful of disappointment in the chowder.  Those beans were creamy, flavored heavily with a Cajun kick, full of peppers, onions, sausage chunks in a slightly thickened broth.  Tender rice underneath, I could have eaten two cups.  Seriously, they were that good.  Unctuous, tender to the tooth, rich, it needed not a drop of hot sauce, although I would offer a bottle alongside for those who care to incinerate their taste buds.  Or a bit of pepper vinegar would be a nice tableside addition.

The size of the peel-n-eat shrimp were unbelievable.  Talk about a perfect depiction of an oxymoron.  Jumbo Shrimp does not do justice to the size of these behemoth crustaceans.  They were perfectly cooked.  I gladly ruined my freshly done manicure, peeling and dunking these beauties.  I definitely needed a nail brush to clean the Old Bay debris from under my nails.  Oh, yes, baby, we will meet again.  I would dearly love to see those paper thin squares that barely qualified as a napkin to be replaced with a much better quality serviette.  A wet nap after a finger staining, shrimp deveining, munch fest would be a lovely offering.

It was beyond cruel to offer us dessert after such a feast.  We toddled our buffed and puffed selves to the mid-life crisis vehicle and took a slow ride home.  I certainly look forward to visiting MB again to tackle one of those seafood buckets. I'm tempted to see their rendition of shrimp and yellow grits, after savoring those Cajun beans.
So good they get a second shot of fame!
The promise of a lobster roll sings a siren's song. Yes, this is a worthy rinse and repeat restaurant.   With a couple of tweaks to the slaw and conch chowder, napkin issue and an offer of hot sauce or peppered vinegar, what is good now could be better.
Note:  Breakfast is offered on the weekends.  As well as a Bloody Mary Bar!  I love a pickled salad in my drink.  Our ample meal, two beers, two drinks with tax and well-deserved tip came to $83.00.

In a former life time I was known as "Tina, the Tourguide."  Maybe I gained my nickname because of my penchant for telling 'people where to go' or maybe not.   My former employ as a resort front desk manager allowed me to indulge in tasting, trying and then recommending restaurants for our diverse base of guests. It was the favorite part of my job....investigating what was new, what was popular and what would be a good fit for the diner.  I was not compensated then or now for my dining choices, it is purely my personal opinion on finding the best tasting restaurants, value or splurge, family or intimate, to recommend to either guests or friends.  That being said, I do have a personal bias to the old St. Pete establishments as a life long resident of the city I love.  I am drawn to visit and review the places that have been re-vitalized into something new from my recollections.