Posts Tagged Parenting
When I was young, I would sing songs to my friends about being young and listening to the radio. When I was young, I dreamed and I planned and I created. When I was young people told me all the things I should be. A writer, they said. A singer. A scientist. Be a strong woman. Don’t let the men get all the good jobs. You’re good at math. Go to college and do mathy/computery things with the big boys. It’s a woman’s world now; the women who came before you sacrificed greatly to open these doors for you. Don’t let it go to waste. Women can be fighter pilots now. Join the air force and bullet the blue sky just like the men do.
When I was young I met a boy that I knew I wanted to spend my life with. Don’t do it, they said. You’re too young. You have so much to offer. You’ll regret it someday.
When they get to the part where he’s breaking her heart, it can really make me cry.
I’m pretty sure my high school counselor is still mad at me. He worked hard to get me that presidential scholarship. I had a free ride to a place where other people’s parents paid bootie-loads of money for super-smart people to shove crap down their kids’ throats.
I lasted one semester and two weeks. I cried every day. I didn’t like the taste of crap.
People still think they know all the things I should do and they still try to tell me and I still don’t want to do any of it. Or if I did before, I don’t once they tell me I should. But I still dream. I still plan. And I still DO. My whole life, I have done things. REALLY done things. Someone put this thing inside of me that pushes me to excel and I rarely settle for less than the realization of my dream exactly how I imagined it. Other people look at that drive and they say “You should DO something with that!” and I always think, “……but I am……doing something…..”
It’s a quiet drive that I have. Like a luxury vehicle.
Is contentment with a small world a waste of a life? I think of the parable of the talents and sometimes I just don’t know. But I have had dreams and I do have dreams and I will have more dreams. They always consume me and I work at fulfilling them and when they are fulfilled, I am content for the moment. They mostly don’t involve performing on stages, winning grand prizes, dancing with royalty, or breaking world records. They are mostly private and I don’t talk much about them. One of them was to be a mother at a time when so many others were telling me I could accomplish so much more. I have watched a mountain grow in my belly (three times) and I have groaned and writhed with the agony of the curse and I have known the joy of a mother’s love when that wriggling, squawking, angry little thing has been placed at my breast and known contentment. What a blessing. What an immeasurable blessing.
I have nurtured (and wriggled) and guided (and squawked) and loved (and hen-pecked) those three young things to the places they are now, with the tender, loving help of their father. I don’t think I’ve wasted much. But then again, I don’t think anyone else would say I’ve wasted much either. But I don’t like to talk about it.
All my best memories come back clearly to me….some can even make me cry.
On His Blindness
When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
When I learned that I was going to be a mother for the first time, I remember being aware of the fact that I would be 40 when that child turned 18. I just didn’t think it would go so fast. I just didn’t think we’d go from 0 to 18 to 40 in only 25 seconds. It leaves me reeling.
Today is my 40th birthday, and in true (to myself) birthday form, I have cried a lot. And no, not really a good cry either. For some reason, all the sadnesses of life have overwhelmed me on this day every year, for as long as I can remember. I think even before I can remember, actually. I am pretty sure that I comtemplated all that I had already lost on my 3rd birthday. That is why it is hard to be me.
I like getting older, but I don’t like people acting like it’s a private shame to talk about this age that I am. I am not ashamed to be 40. I’d rather be 40 than 22 or 25 or 39. It’s what I am and I want to be it and I don’t want anyone insulting me by insinuating that I shouldn’t want to be what I am. But they do. The world insinuates and the world comes right out and says it and I am left wondering what’s wrong with everyone for not wanting to be what they are. I’ve always been more on the aggressive side of passive, but passive none-the-less.
Tonight at dinner, one daughter talked about how she just doesn’t worry about stuff. She just takes life as it comes and lets it happen. And her face looked just like the flower child she is at heart with her peaceful little smile and slightly unfocused eyes and the unspoken words in her brain that we could visibly see on her face were “Peace, Love and Grooviness, man.” And her dad told her that right then, she was his favorite. And another daughter threw her hands up in the air at that and said “WOW” and looked around in disbelief and repeated herself: “WOW.” She’s more on the aggressive side of passive too. And the other daughter ignored all of them and wondered how many times I’ve come in her room after she’s fallen asleep and smoothed her hair and kissed her face and said “I love you” while she slept. Someday she’ll know. Someday she’ll know this aching joyful sadness that it is to be a mom. She’ll know that each sleep and each smooth of the hair and each “I love you” will only take her farther down a road that she can never come back from.
(When you’re 40, you can end sentences with prepositions if you want to.)
This week I read through all my birthday posts from time immemorial, which was six years ago. It made me feel a little better to remember that I’m always sad on my birthday. On second thought, it didn’t really make me feel better at all. But I do like patterns. I figure if there’s a pattern, there’s something to be excited about. So there you have it. If you want to read about fleetingness and pain and floating and grief, and you want to watch the pattern repeat itself over and over and over, then here you go.
Happy birthday to me. And to you, whenever yours may be. May all your roads be ever flowing onward through beautiful woods, sandy dunes where you lose your footing, rocky canyons, green meadows and snow-capped mountains ~ with occasional rests beside still waters.
And may some of those forest-framed roads be journeyed by fast rides on four-wheelers.
A few weeks ago, we went to Oregon, where magic lives. Blue waters, cold winds, green trees, smoky fires, white clouds, adventurous people, happy cows, dogs and chickens all live there too. It had been ten years since we’d been back with our family and it was true refreshment for the soul.
And now we’re back.
I think this is the first time in all my years of parenting in Dallas, TX that I HAVEN’T been ready for summer to end. I wish we could hang on to it for just a bit longer. There were just so many summer dreams left undone and I don’t feel ready for this school year. Not at all. But here it is, ready or not.
I remember when I didn’t feel ready for this one to start kindergarten and here she is, starting her final year of high school. All her hopes and dreams show all over her face and I delight in her. I delight in her sweet spirit, her love of beauty, her devotion to working hard in all things, her precious past that I like to visit from time to time and her future that I look forward to with a somewhat anxious joy.
I remember when this one wouldn’t let go of my neck in the swimming pool. She could cling with the best of them. I didn’t even have to hold on to her because there was no way she was letting go of me. And now I feel like I’m the one desperately holding on while she swims and runs and drives and dances away from me. I love the deep waters that she floats on. I love the beauty that she makes in her music and the silliness that comes out at the strangest of times. She is making a big change in schools for her tenth grade year and I look forward to all the goodness that will come out of it and into her.
And I remember when this one used to ride around Dallas with me while her older sisters went to school. She was mommy’s little helper and what a trooper she was too, never getting the simple routine that her sisters enjoyed in their years of staying at home. We went here, there and everywhere all day while she was happy to be with me and I with her. And now she is starting the seventh grade and is still a trooper. Always up for whatever, always on top of everyone’s schedule, always up for making her sisters laugh at her. She plays hard, tries hard, gives hard and loves soft.
O LORD, Jesus Christ, who dost embrace children with the arms of thy mercy, and dost make them living members of thy Church; Give them grace, we pray thee, to stand fast in thy faith, to obey thy word, and to abide in thy love; that being made strong by thy Holy Spirit they may resist temptation and overcome evil; and may rejoice in the life that now is, and dwell with thee in the life that is to come; through thy merits, O merciful Saviour, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest one God, world without end. Amen.
If when you can’t find enough free minutes in your day to replace your desktop wallpaper that you used to love but now you hate, then it’s time to let something else go.
If when you neglect other things and you find that beautiful picture of a city at night blurred in the background behind a steaming mug of coffee sitting on the edge of a high-rise balcony, then it’s time to start neglecting more things.
If when your one teenage daughter brings up the fact (at the dinner table) that the other teenage daughter deleted her as a friend on Facebook and wants to know what you’re going to do about it and the other teenage daughter yells very animatedly that she was sick of the one teenage daughter’s posts about almonds taking up her wall space, then you will know that there just might not be any hope for these daughters so you might as well enjoy your dinner by making fun of both of them.
If when your boss has you make a list of all your duties and how long it takes you to complete each of them and when you’re done compiling the list, the totals show that you would have to work a 13.86 hour day every day (not counting lunch or any other breaks) just to complete each task in the average amount of time, then you should refer back up to the first If When.
If when your teenage daughters get mad when you make fun of them, then you should squeeze their chins and tell them how cute they are.
If when you find that you used to love lots of things that you now hate, then maybe it’s time to make cookies.
If when you’re driving home from work and the clouds are stacked one on top of the other in amazing, perfectly outlined fluffiness, then you should look forward to your youngest daughter running in the house after riding her scooter outside a couple hours later to tell you that you have to come and look at the beautiful sunset.
If when you hate your room because it’s messy, clean it.
If when you can’t believe how much you miss the sound of claws tapping on the floor, following you all around the house, running to get dropped food off the floor, sitting companionably near you when you’re resting, hurrying to follow you outside to roll around in the grass while you sit in the twilight and watch the last of the pink clouds disappear, then cry.
If when you get the chance to go out to lunch with your dad and it’s just the two of you outside on the patio at a nice restaurant with the summer breeze blowing and the sound of the trolley mixing in with the rest of the traffic on the city streets makes you change the volume of your conversation often, like a symphony, and you talk about things you will remember forever, then don’t ever let that moment go.
I’ve been fighting my own personal Mommy Wars in these recent years. I war with myself. I war with the mommy I used to be, the mommy I always wanted to be and the mommy that I am. I don’t need anybody else to enter this war because it is ferocious enough with just the three of us. And I know full well that there can never be a winner so I’d like to call a truce. I really, really would. I don’t even want to talk about it. I just want it to be over. I work outside the home even though it wasn’t something I ever saw myself doing. Lots of mommies work outside the home, some of them wanting to and some not. I am blessed beyond measure with a husband who loves me, children that I adore, a pleasant work environment, a church where we can worship and food on our table. It’s hard work raising a family and I am working hard. Kaboom.
I’m reading one of those books right now that I can only digest in little bits because of its awesomeness. It’s one of those life-changing, infuriating kinds of books. It’s called “Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating” by Norman Wirzba. It is everything I know to be true. The only problem I am having now is that I don’t know what to DO with the life-changing information I am inhaling. So I would like some of my friends to read it please, and discuss it with me. Please and thank you.
The other day, I drove by a cute little family of five, walking home from the grocery store. The dad was leading the way, laden down with multiple, heavy bags of groceries. It was obvious that he was rushing because he wanted to be rid of his burden as fast as he possibly could. The mom followed behind him, pushing the baby in the little umbrella stroller as fast as she could manage while trying to keep it from tipping backwards due to all the grocery bags hanging from the handles and causing an uneven distribution of weight. The ten year old (or so) girl followed behind her, sucking on a sucker, not nearly as concerned with hurrying with her two bags, but also not wanting to be left behind. The six year old (or so) girl brought up the rear, always running but never getting anywhere while she carried her one bag and sucked on her sucker. She never got anywhere because she didn’t run in a straight line. More concerned with activity than direction, she skipped in circles or ran up to her sister to laugh about something with her, then ran back to pick a flower, then ran up on a ledge so that she could jump off of it. The last thing I saw as I turned the corner after my light turned green was her running straight up the steep incline underneath the underpass, then running down and tumbling hard on the sidewalk while her one bag that she was carrying tumbled hard with her. No one in her family saw her fall and she didn’t cry out or bring attention to herself in any way. She just picked herself up, and picked up the bag and kept walking. The bag was slightly see-through and I could see two cartons of eggs in there.
My car breeds fruit flies. I have had my children clean out every crevice that can possibly be cleaned out and we still have fruit flies. Yes, it’s true that multiple banana peels, orange peels and apple chunks were found in the cleaning, some of them in motion due to the maggots crawling around in them. Yes. I do mean that blackened, hardened banana peels were MOVING. That was fun. But as far as I know, we found all fruit and the car has been fruit-free for days now. And yet, I still swat gnats away from my face on my drive to work each day. How do all those other mommies out there (the ones that I’m NOT at war with) get their children to take all of their stuff out of the car every time they get out? How do other mommies’ cars not have fruit flies in them? Come on, mommies. I’m on your side. I war with myself and no other so spill it.
I have a dear friend who has always appreciated the simple (and profound) wisdom in country music. She appreciated it way before I was mature enough to get it. One of her favorites has been running through my head lately. In the words of the wise Pam Tillis:
You do what you gotta do
And you know what you know
You hang on until you can’t hang on
And then you learn to let go
It sure is a beautiful Eastertide. The honeysuckle in my back yard smells amazing tonight.
It’s not in the endless view of chrome fenders and exhaust pipes I see through the front of my windshield every morning.
It’s in the rainbow that I see way far up above the fenders. Over there to the right, in the sky. It didn’t even rain and it’s not going to rain. But two little white clouds squeezed themselves together at just the right moment. They kissed and it made a little tiny rainbow in the early morning light.
It’s not in the way that I can’t keep my foot steady on the gas, but must keep going, braking, going, braking, letting this guy in here, going again, trying to get over there, braking again, almost running into the guy in front of me.
It’s in the way I almost run into the guy in front of me because I am distracted by all those black birds over there to the left, way up in the sky. They don’t know or care that they’re in the middle of a concrete jungle. They only know that the patch of green right beside me, connecting one concrete patch to another is good enough for them to descend upon, all at once. A living work of art, they land in perfect rhythm, one after another and sit there contentedly as I and the guy in front of me drive on by.
It’s not in the way that the people getting off the elevator in front of me have the identical conversation with each other as they arrive at their respective places of employment on Monday morning: “Did you have a good weekend?” “Yeah – too short though.” “Tell me about it.” Then the elevator door shuts on them and the conversation is repeated as the next person gets off at the next floor.
It’s in the way that I feel when I create the perfect spreadsheet. All formulas work and everything balances and for a moment I am at peace. My desk is clean, my mind is quiet, my to-do list is shorter and my drawer is filled with all the pens, scissors and post-it notes that a girl could want.
It’s not in the fact that today was the 65th day this year over 100 degrees. There is no longer any satisfaction in beating old records.
It’s in the realization that today is the last day of this month. All things start new tomorrow. It can only get cooler from here, right? Right?
It’s in the sound that my Coke can makes when I pop it open during the afternoon lull.
It’s in coming home to my middle girl, sitting alone in the living room, playing her dad’s guitar.
It’s in watching the delight on my youngest’s face when ¾ of the way through The Magician’s Nephew, she realizes with great joy that this story is just like the story of Adam and Eve.
It’s in my oldest telling me all about getting the best sushi in the world with her best friends in the world and looking every bit like she did when she was two years old while she’s telling me.
It’s in school starting next week, which means I will once again have my most favorite companions in the world with me for half of my morning commute.
It’s in the fact that tonight, when the passion and the heartache and the wonder of this day is over, I will unmake both the face and the bed that I so carefully made this morning and I will rest.
I will be unmade.
Somehow, that’s inspiring.
Tonight we went out in the back yard and moved the trampoline because the grass was dead all around it, while a forest was growing underneath it. Apparently the grass in our back yard really likes the only place in all of Dallas that has shade all day long. Seriously, the abundant green grass growing underneath that thing is about a foot tall. It makes for an amusing look now that the trampoline is moved over to the other side of the yard. There is a perfect twelve-foot circle of green lushness in the midst of a dry and barren land. The apple tree is brown and brittle, the ivy covering our trellis dried up weeks ago and withered away and you can’t walk barefoot through most of our yard because each individual blade of grass is like a needle puncturing the bottom of your feet. But we now have our own little perfectly soft and perfectly round crop circle. It calls to me, begging me to do a barefoot rain dance in the middle of it. So I do. It consists of hopping on one foot while spinning in one direction while chanting, “Hi yah yah yah Hi yah yea” and then switching directions.
I’ve been noticing lately that I don’t have time for things like I used to. When I dwell on that, it depresses me. I’ve even had to stop reading a lot of perfectly beautiful blogs that I used to read because they now depress me. Not because there’s anything wrong with them but because they portray lives that are so very different from my own and I find that what I am really longing for is somebody who is like me. I gravitate towards people I can connect with. And when I can’t connect, it’s kind of depressing. And then it starts feeding all sorts of jealousies, self-pities and ugliness. And there’s just no good that can come out of feeding those things and so I just stop reading those blogs.
But I’ve started wondering if everybody else is like me in that. And if so, who reads this blog, I wonder? So far, I have not found another woman working full time in corporate, downtown, glass-walled America with a husband studying to be priest and three mostly teenaged children who also blogs. If anybody knows of her, please point me in her direction. I would like to hear her perspective on life. But if she does rain dances in crop circles in 100 degree weather at 9:30pm, I am not interested. Because that’s weird.
The other day I overheard my daughter ask a friend:
~ Who does the dishes in your family?
~ My mom, mostly.
~ Oh. My mom NEVER does our dishes.
So that’s about how things are now. But at least we’ve reached day 38. Only four more to go. I know we can do it. Come on,Dallas! First the Rangers went to the World Series last year, then we hosted the Super Bowl in an amazingly icy ice storm, then the Mavericks won the whatever-you-call-the-basketball-biggest-game and now we’re about to beat a record not touched since 1980. Could we ask for anything more, really?
I mean, everything is brown and dead and people are walking around like zombies and moms don’t do dishes anymore but it will all be worth it if we can pass 42 straight days of 100 plus temperatures.
Hi yah yah yah Hi yah yea.