Tuesday, April 1, 2014

No!



My children sometimes think I’m mean.   

They don’t always appreciate my methods of doing things.   

Raising children in a culture of indulgence is challenging.  I am often made to feel like a lesser parent or even unkind for rejecting the urge to spoil and indulge my children.  I find this…perplexing.  For me, indulgence would be the easy path.  To me, figuring out different approaches to reinforce respectfulness and responsibility is where the real work is.  Finding subtle ways to help your child come to morally correct conclusions without just straight-up telling them exactly WHAT to think takes a cleverness that is sometimes daunting. 

Saying yes is easy.  

Saying no and helping your child understand that your no is BECAUSE you love them is difficult.  Finding ways to convey that because they are valued so dearly, you want them to always be surrounded by goodness and light, and that materialism and egoism ISN'T goodness and is in no way luminous is formidable.  THAT is what keeps me up at night.  THAT is what brings me to tears of frustration and self doubt.  The constant wondering, am I up to this task?  In this society?  In this world?  How am I to accomplish this?

What indulgent parents don’t seem to always understand is that, for parents like me, “no” is NEVER due to being bothered by our children.  We’re not saying “no” because we’d just rather not have to deal with something—or would rather not spend the time or money on them.  There is usually an endless stream of much grander reasons behind every no:

No.  I will not do that for you.

I want you to be strong, independent, contributory humans.  If I don’t require you to do things for yourself, I will be planting in you a seed of helplessness.  This helplessness could then take root, and ultimately threaten and thwart your autonomy, dignity, and self-confidence.  It could haunt your entire existence.

I will help you, though.  And, I will encourage and support you.  I will do my best to inspire you.  I will teach you.  I will cheer for you. I will help you get you the tools you need to do it yourself.   
    
No.  I will not spend my time or resources in that way.

Because, doing so shows a lack of respect for the time spent acquiring those resources.  And, I want you to ALWAYS understand that you are precious and your time is valuable.  Allowing you to squander mine or your father’s won’t convey that.

I will make every attempt to help you discover a reasonable alternative.  I will meet you in the middle.  I will use all of my creative powers to help you find a solution that teaches you to respect BOTH your time AND your intellect. 
 
No.  You may not play that video game or watch that movie.  

I want you to always value life.  And, if there is even the slightest chance that exposing you to something like this would do anything to lessen the deep and profound awe for the gift of life that I have worked so hard to cultivate in your young mind, then I reject it completely.  If, by exposing you to these sorts of “games” or films will in any way send the message that women, laws, or life are not to be respected—then I want no part of it for you. 
 
I will happily help you to be entertained though!  Let’s pop in the WII fit and play a little baseball or do a bowling challenge!  Or, how about going outside to ride bikes!  Or--I do weekly research on the best books coming out for your age group in several genres—let’s see if there’s one that sounds like enough of an adventure to chase away this rainy, boring day.  We can read it together.  Or build something.  Or create.  The alternatives are endless.  
      
No.  I will not buy you that.

I want you to always shun materialism, as to indulge in it, will create in you a starving void that cannot ever be filled with even an endless supply of ‘things’.  I desire so ardently for your life to be like a rich soil where blooms of every color and variety are constant.  Allowing you to be swallowed by the whale of materialism will not allow your life to bloom.  

I will take you somewhere, though.  Let’s go.  Let’s experience.  I will show you as much of this world as I can possibly afford.  I will introduce you to different cultures and different sorts of foods.  I will work tirelessly to expand your mind and world view.  I will delight in my time with you. 
 
No.  Even though the situation is a difficult one, I will not tell you what to do.

I want you to always think carefully and deeply about things.  I want you to weigh pros and cons.  I want you to put yourself in the shoes of others when trying to discover the best solution for personal conflict.  I want you to always pause and think before proceeding.  Life isn’t about the quick answer.  Telling you what to do is offering you that, which is a terrible disservice to you. 

I will help you talk it out though.  I will help you noodle it.  I will bring my experience to the problem.  But, ultimately, you need to take that experience for what it’s worth, and come up with a solution that is uniquely yours.  This will be infinitely more satisfying for you in the end.  You can do it.  I promise.

No.  I will not cancel my anniversary trip or date night with your dad.

I want you to always enjoy deep and beautiful relationships.  I want you to always give those relationships the honor and respect that they deserve.  Your relationship can set your soul aloft.  It can help you evolve.  It can challenge you.  Love can inspire you to aspire to your greatest self.  Love, in the form of romantic relationships, is a particularly gorgeous sort of blessing.  

I will always teach you to take tender, gentle care of your relationship by modeling that for you.  Always.

No.  I will not speak for you.

You have a voice.  You need to use it.  Your voice is not my voice.  You need to find a way to say what needs to be said, even when it’s difficult.  You need to find a way to express yourself in the way that is uniquely yours.  I love you.  If I speak for you, you may one day allow others to do the same. 
    
I will help you find your voice, though.  I’ll encourage you.  I’ll make every effort to build your confidence.  I will listen.


I love my children.  They are the only two people on the face of the planet whom I loved at first sight.  I looked at them and loved them with a fierceness that was almost terrible in its magnitude.  I can’t even remember what it feels like not to be a mother.  They are somewhere in my every thought.  They are my every breath.  They have been loved and considered in every aspect of my life since the moment I knew of their existence.  

I love them far too much to spoil or indulge them in ways that will hinder their growth and spiritual evolution. 
 
Because of this, they may not always like me. 
 
And, I’m ok with that.       

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Fluster Cluck

Good afternoon, lovelies.

It's a fine sort of Sunday afternoon.

The kind of day that conjures images of quiet contemplation over coffee cups,

or book reading and leisurely strolls,

or even, if you're feeling pessimistic,

laundry.

Not in this house.  Not today.  Why?  Because, that is just simply NOT how we do it here (except yes...as it turns out I do have some laundry).

Went to bed last night blissfully ignorant of the chaos about to ensue.  G's girlfriend and her family were to pick him up to take him back to college this morning (after a week of Spring Break).  Jack had to be up at 5am for work.  H wanted to sleep in for his last day of spring break.  I drifted to sleep, secure in the knowledge that I had my guys and my girls (dogs) safe and snug under my roof.

And, then I awoke to a weird creaking followed by a booming THUMP.

Creak...creak...thump!

Creak...creak...THUMP!

Jack started twitching, which is a sure sign that he's right about to wake up.  And, if THAT happens, then it means a running diatribe for days on end about how he hasn't had a proper nights sleep in decades.

So, I was flummoxed.

Face down the terror in the night alone?

Or, face days of Jack's torpidity induced mutterings about sleeplessness?

I calculated; there was a small chance that the terror was something not so terrible at all.  However, were I to wake Jack--the diatribe was a sure thing.  Blowing ever so gently on the dice of chance, I decided to face the night alone.

I quickly scanned the room for weapons.  With visions of my body lifeless and bloody from having inadvertently injured my own damn self--I shook my head--and, rescanned the room for weapons that seemed safe enough for me to handle.  I made a mental note of the bamboo staff in the corner of my room.  Fancying myself a sort of super-human, home-defending, mama-ninja, my plan was to grab the bamboo rod, wield it like a deranged samurai while flinging open my door and shouting, Sons of Anarchy style:

"We got BUSINESS, emm effer?!?!"

And, yes, my plan was to say "emm effer"...because, think about it, people, what if it had been one of the children?

And, if you're thinking, 'but, wait, won't you, shouting, "We got BUSINESS, emm effer?" wake up Jack?'

The answer is most assuredly yes, but I hadn't thought of that.

A split second before sh*t was sure to get real--I distinctly heard my oldest (G) clear his throat right outside my door.

Bamboo relinquished,  I opened the door to find G across the hall sorting laundry.  This, of course, made me question the reality of the scene entirely.

Firstly, because, he's 19.  A 19 year old boy's idea of sorting laundry is usually sniffing it and placing it into two piles:  1) Stinky.  And, 2) Eh *shrugs* Smells o.k. to me!

(the first pile, is then, of course, set aside to spray with fabric refresher)

And, secondly, because I had done mounds and MOUNDS of laundry!  I had begun it on Friday morning.  Other than the fact that there was some in the washer to be dried and some in the dryer to be folded--I didn't think there was a stitch of laundry left to be done!  I washed EVERYTHING.  Even things I only ever occasionally wash (like blankets--that sort of thing--not underwear or pants, people!).  But, there he was ripping open plastic grocery bags full of dirty clothes.

My good lord--what was he saving it in bags for?

Let's not think on it too deeply. 

The fact was, he had laundry.  And, like the responsible young man that he is, he was doing it.  I even saw him put the soap in.

"What was that thumping?"

"What thumping?"

"The...oh never mind...what are you doing?  Are you staying up late rather than getting up early?  You have to be quiet!  You'll wake your dad and he has to work tomorrow!"

"I'm staying up late.  Don't worry, I only have two more loads to do. I'll be quiet."

Two more?  (!!!)

And, off he headed for the stairs.

Creak...creak...thump.

Creak...creak...THUMP.

There it was.  It was my son.  On the stairs.

He has the feet of a man who's betrayed the Mafia.

I really should have been more forceful about the ballet thing (ie:  Me:  "it'll make you more graceful!"  a 12 year old G:  "Mother.  No!").  But, I digress...

So, heart rate beginning to descend, I made my way back to bed.  Of course, I wasn't able to go right back to sleep--for at least another hour--do you want to hear how I haven't had a good night sleep in decades?

No?

Suit yourself.

The next thing I know, people are at my front door.  G's girlfriend and family are here to pick him up and we're ALL asleep (except Chris who has somehow already left for work). I frantically send H (youngest) upstairs to get G.  Meanwhile, I usher the dogs into my bedroom because his girlfriend is allergic.  Plus, Lilly (hound dog), once expressed her keen desire to straight up throw down with his girlfriend--she's just the slightest bit gangsta--Lilly, not the girlfriend (ie:  Lilly:  Grrr...you think you can come in THIS house?  Take MY best-friend's boy?  Oh no you DON'T!  Gf:  *screams in terror*  I've spoken with Lilly about how completely inappropriate this was.  She's remorseful.  I can tell.)

I reach for my robe.  My hand grasps air.  And, that's when I remember I had decided it was due for a washing.  Yoga pants?  Folded, and sitting on top of the washing machine to be put away.  Trench coat?  Given up in the 90's.  Bah!

I'm still frantically looking for some sort of clothing to throw on when G opens the door and says his good byes.  Somehow, he was able to get everything packed and loaded into her car in 5 minutes flat.  Boys!

So, finally, I come out of my room (after nearly falling when the dogs rush out and I trip on the damn bamboo rod), fish my robe out of the dryer, turn around, walk into the dining room and step squarely into a mess from the dogs (trust me, you don't even want to know).  I begin hopping on one foot, immediately getting the mess all over my newly clean robe.  So, on one foot, I take off the robe, toss it and am trying to take steady breaths as I feel a little nauseous at this point.  And, for whatever reason, I'm saying over and over:

"Not ok! Not ok! NOT ok!!!"

H hops down the steps and yells at me from the stairs:

H:  Hey, Mom!  God has spoken!

Me:  I'll say.

H *completely oblivious to anything being amiss at all--it's like seeing me, hopping on one foot in a nightie with my eyes watering is just an everyday sort of event*:  Yep!  I hooked up the old TV because Grant took the other one and the ONLY channel we get up there now is some sort of God channel.  It's a sign! I'm sure of it!

Me *standing on one foot with eyes watering and still wearing my bleeping nightie*:  That's nice, honey.

H:  Yep! *hops happily back up the stairs*

So, my foot has been cleaned, disinfected, cleaned again, and disinfected once more.  The robe is back in the washer, mess has been cleaned from the floor, and I'm fully clothed.  After having watched the "God channel" for 45 minutes, H has decided God has said all he needs to say to him today.

As for me?  All I can think of is my newly acquired PG version of the phrase 'cluster f***':

Fluster Cluck.

Ask me why anyone would possibly have occasion to use the phrase, cluster f***, so often that they would ever even NEED a PG version.

Go ahead.

I dare you.       




    

  


Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Ring Incident



I went to the mall yesterday...with my mother. 

There is nothing about that sentence that is a good idea. 

Why?  Because, if I'm likely to do something ridiculous--which I am--that likelihood is quadrupled when I'm with my mother, who, frankly is nearly just as likely to do something blush worthy herself.

I wanted to get a cheap chunky ring, so we head into a store that carries such things.  I'm there, just minding my own business, looking at rings.  My mom is trying to help and I literally have 5 rings in my hand that she wants me to try.  So, I'm trying them on--and I'm worried about dropping one--at the same time I'm trying to glance regularly at Holden (10 year old extraordinaire) who is looking at batman watches.  My mother hands me a ring and says--put this on!  My long ingrained reflex of doing precisely what she says, when she says to do it, kicks in and I slip it on my finger.

“Cute,” I say.

“Yes!! I really like it,” she says.

I move to remove it from my finger.

I pull.

It doesn't budge.

Umm...I guess I should explain at this point that this is the sort of thing that can put me straight into a full blown panic.  I told Jack once that I could never get arrested, because having cuffs on my wrists that I couldn't get off would put me COMPLETELY over the edge (I think hyperventilation would occur...and tears...and sweat...probably a little blood).

So, immediately red in the face, I begin to tug.

My finger is turning red from the pressure I'm placing on it, but the ring isn't moving.  And, now my finger is swelling.

The ring is attached to a plastic thing (the sort that costume jewelry earrings come on) and I just can't get the right angle with the plastic.  And, to top it off, the damn thing is zip tied to the plastic and therefore impossible to remove from the plastic backing.

Meanwhile, my mom is cooing in my ear:

"Don't panic.  Just relax.  It'll come off.  Don't worry."

I'm reminded of the time I shoved rocks up my nose when I was 3, my mom had to bring me to the ER to have them removed, and was cooing similar soothing phrases.  I'd like to think I'd progressed since the age of 3...and, really, I have.  I mean, there were definitely no rocks up my nose.  So, that’s something. 
Anyway...her reaction gives an indication as to my demeanor .

Me:  “Son of a...”

Mom:  “language!”

So, I guess it’s a good thing I didn't say what I was thinking, which was, "oh my fu**ing fu**idy F**K nut!  F**K!"

Mom:  “You need to wet it.”

Really?  Take it into the bathroom?  I'll look like some sort of deranged shop lifter! 

Mom (when I make no move to find a bathroom):  “Just lick it a little bit.”

Lick my finger.  In the middle the jewelry turn cases, wearing a ring I don't even want to buy, I should LICK my BLEEPING FINGER?!?!   Visions of Miley Cyrus’s “Adore You” video dance in my head (not that I’ve ever seen it…I mean, really…I’m too old and my music tastes far to refined to have ever indulged a glance at a Miley Cyrus video...Psh...Absurd!). 

Anyway, I immediately I dismiss the idea as too horrific.  At this point my hands are sweating so I just use my sweaty palms to try to dampen my finger.

Nothing.

My mom walks away and begins to peruse the jewelry--thinking, I can only assume, that if left to my own devices, I could get it off my finger.

When, has it EVER been a good idea to leave me to my own devices?

I'm seriously contemplating (because I've been left to my own devices) immobilizing my hand between my knees, and then pulling the ring with my other hand as hard as I can.  Skin and flesh be damned (I can't lick my finger, but apparently bleeding all over the jewelry department is not a problem).

Holden approaches takes one look at me and exclaims (in his OUTDOOR voice--ie:  he shouts):  “Oh my GOSH!  Is that stuck on your finger?!?!?”

My mom rushes over:  “shsssshhhhhhh!”

At this point, I'm thinking--I just need a moist towelette--I need a woman with a stroller who perhaps has a baby and some moist towelettes.  Because, I NEED a moist towelette.  Over and over I am silently chanting, "moist towelette," like some sort of answer to an unclean prayer.  I don't even like the phrase "moist towelette".  Honestly, I'm not overly fond of the word, "moist".  And, in my daily life I call them "wipes"...just "wipes"--not even "wet" wipes or god forbid "moist" wipes—simply,  "wipes".  But, for some damn reason, panic ALWAYS makes me revert to an odd brand of formal speak.  Like the time I was working in a bank, a man collapsed--I called over to my supervisor (who was closer to a phone) and said, "Jill!  Please phone emergency services."

Please "phone" emergency effing services?  Not "call 911" or even "call for an ambulance".  But, "please" (because a man having a heart attack right in front of you is absolutely no excuse not to remember one’s manners, people!) "phone" (I have never told anyone that I would "phone" them...I have never asked someone to "phone" me--truly, I believe this is the first and last time I ever used the word "phone" as a verb) "emergency services" (wtf?!).

Or, the time there was a man running from the police with a gun in his hand.  He was heading directly for the front doors of the bank I was working in (Yes...seriously...this happened!) when I jumped over my desk (it was the most athletic thing I have ever done) and ran to the doors and locked them.  When a customer asked if he could please leave (ie...unlock the doors) I smiled (yes...SMILED) and replied completely calmly (with hands shaking uncontrollably as I was anything but calm), "I'm sorry sir, but there's a gentleman with a firearm right outside the door."

A gentleman?

A firearm?

*shakes head*  Honestly, who says things like that?

So...where was I?   Oh yes...moist towelettes. 

I look over at the counter where a young woman is working and mutter to no one in particular,

"I am in need of a moist towelette."

Holden looks over at the lady at the counter and makes a move to go ask her for one.

"No!," I stop him in a sudden panic at the thought of anyone knowing about my predicament, " I can get it. I don't want...I can get it."

And, somehow, the ring begins to move.  My upper lip is sweating, Holden is saying, "Oh my GOSH!", and my mother says (without even a hint of hyperbole), "Be careful!  You're going to break your finger!"  With one arm shaking, muscle quaking motion the thing finally comes loose.  I immediately bend over with my hands on my knees and attempt to catch my breath (you know...as a marathon runner might...because that’s totally appropriate).

My mom says, “Hey, I think without the plastic part of the zip tie, the ring would fit fine…are you going to get it?” 

(The woman raised me…it takes more than a stuck ring and a jewelry department panic attack to frazzle this woman)

Me:  “No.  Every time I look at it, I’ll blush with embarrassment and…it makes me feel...you know…fat-ish.”

Ring shopping:  you know…safe shopping…the sort of shopping that doesn’t include dressing rooms or any sort of ridiculous breakdowns because a zipper won’t zip or a button won’t button…I have now successfully made unsafe.

You’re welcome.

On the bright side, we still have scarves sitting snugly in the safe zone. 

For now.

Other than the trauma and fat feelings…my finger is bruised, but for the most part ok.  I’m wearing a ring (a DIFFERENT ring) to cover the bruise, which I feel the inexplicable urge to slip on and off my finger several times an hour, which seems to be making the bruise worse.  And, it’s on my right hand, so shaking hands in San Francisco this week will be awesome.
 
All this ridiculousness and I’ve yet to leave town.

Let us all now bow our heads and pray that while in San Francisco, I don’t fall, spill, do that nervous laugh thing I do on occasion, have some sort of uncontrollable gas situation present itself (I’ve never HAD such a situation present itself but let’s pray it anyway), or get tipsy and begin introducing everyone to my cocktail, “Mr. Belvedere…but you may call him sir” (that, I HAVE done), or really do anything else that our good Lord might graciously place under the umbrella of “humiliating circumstances.”

Amen.    

Monday, March 19, 2012

I Blame Pinterest


I blame Pinterest.

Damn that site and all those cute and clever pins that lure me into thinking I can craft.  I can’t.  My rational mind KNOWS this.  Prior signing up with that devil site, I knew my limitations.  I knew if there was some sort of test in order to become a stay-at-home mother, I’d never make the cut.  I can’t sew; if something needs mending in this house, Jack (my husband) does it.  I never, ever, make those clever snacks that all the hip moms make that look like something super neat-o, like palm trees and coconuts, but are really broccoli and raisins and the children are so wide-eyed enamored with the creation that they munch it happily.  Nope. 
 
My last attempt at a crafty hobby was one New Year’s Eve when I drunkenly contemplated my resolutions and decided that 2009 was the year I’d REALLY learn to crochet.  “It’s the year of the crochet!“  I’d shouted (probably waking my poor sleepy children and the neighbors with my unfettered enthusiasm).  Then January turned dreary; and, feeling a little blue, I headed to the yarn store to put my resolution into action and proceeded to purchase ream after ream of black yarn.  Now, the very idea of crocheting depresses me a little.  But, hey, you need some yarn to knit a funeral shroud; I’m your go-to gal.  I CAN mix one hell of a cocktail, but every time someone asks my hobbies and I site cocktailing, they always look a little afraid—like I’m going to bust out a flask at any moment and drink to their health and my love of booze.  Which, let’s face it, might very well be what I’m about to do. 

But, all those darn pins make everything look so easy.  I look at the pinners and think, good heavens, that woman can hardly dress herself (I’m not judging…I can hardly dress MYself), if she can make a decorative flower out of an old clip-on earring, material scraps (of which I have none), mosquito netting, thread, and a little “can do spirit,” why can’t I? 

And the next thing you know, I find myself a project.  Not the decorative flower—that, as it turned out, required sewing.  No.  I pin a do-it-yourself space saving spice rack project (space saving are two very tempting words as we happily reside in a house the size of a postage stamp).  So, I find myself headed to the god forsaken craft store in search of jars, magnets, and labels.  The picture that lures me in displays a number of small canning jars with magnets glued to their tops, filled with colorful spices, and neatly stuck to a wall mounted sheet of some sort of metal.

This isn’t at all like crochet.  I mean, I don’t even need any special skills.  And(!!), I think to myself, my refrigerator is right next to my stove; I can get all the spices off my counter and stick them to the side of the fridge.  And, rather than canning jars, baby food jars will work just as easily and be a better size.

Yay!

First mistake—do NOT deviate from the instructions people!  Because, thinking that baby food jars will stick to my fridge as easily as their apparently supernaturally light canning jars stick to the industrial and obviously magical sheet metal they use was foolhardy.  With a belly full of strained prunes and sweet potatoes, I watch my darling little labeled baby food jars with magnets attached slide slowly off the refrigerator.

Bleep the bleeping bleep with its friggin’ BLEEP!

Honestly!

Jack chooses this precise moment to come home.  He hears me (I may be shouting and stomping my feet…but, you know, only a little), sees the descending jars, and the dog eating a bowl of strained apricots (oh shut it…she LOVED it!), Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” booming from our stereo (“we could have had it ALL…”) takes a breath and says, “Ok…now.  How can I help?”

God bless that man and his endless capacity for unruffled calm.

Another trip to the craft store, more jars purchased (this time small wedding favor jars that the craft experts feel certain will work).  The old labels won’t fit on the new jars, so new labels.  The magnets I purchased aren’t strong enough, we buy stronger.  The fridge just isn’t working, so off to Home Depot for some sheet metal (or flashing or some such dang thing…Jack takes the lead at the Depot, muttering, “Isn’t DIY supposed to be cheaper?  We could have purchased 3 wall mounted spice racks at this point”).   And, of course, some special glue to get the stupid sheet on the wall.  

I get home and re-label the forty (FORTY) friggin’ jars, glue on the super-hootie magnets, bless myself with a silent prayer to the saint of DIY for intercession (whoever that might be…maybe, in my case, St. Jude), and stick them to the sheet Jack has adhered to the wall adjacent to the stove.

Yatzee!

Well…almost, anyway.  Some of the jars still slip a little but Jack says, “it’s charming like that.”  Which, I’m inclined to believe as to disbelieve it would mean revisiting the crafty horror. 



So, yeah.  I blame Pinterest.  I have more baby food than I know what to do with (I could return them, but say what?  My nonexistent baby doesn’t like this brand?).  My dog has gas (it turns out fruit isn’t the best option for dogs--or my dog anyway—who knew?).  I’m broke with nothing exciting or meaningful to show for it.  What did I spend all my money on?  An evening out?  Some indulgent spa service?  Charity?  BILLS?   No…I blew my wad on a bleeping do-it-yourself spice rack, thank you very much. 
   
I’d like to say I’ve sworn off Pinterest and its optimism inducing visuals but Jack has found some sort of built in “space saving” (damn those words!) wine rack (what’s with us and the racks?) on Pinterest that will cost “next to nothing” and I find myself sucked in once again.

Right.

Here goes nothing!