Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Mother's Day Revelation

It's just a day, for heaven's sake. So why do I always have such a sense of dread? My children are wonderful on that day--and I make it hard for them too. Maybe it's because of my crummy attitude. So why is it crummy? I am sure that GUILT has a little to do with it (I can hear a chorus of women saying “amen”). You get “a day” each year to remember all the times where you didn’t measure up as a mother--at least that is what I do to myself. You sigh at lost opportunities, unmet needs, and missed cues--and maybe not loving/being in tune in just the right way with what every child wanted or needed. And since we always remember the sensational stuff (whether good or bad) we tend to judge ourselves by those memories. Just a little narcissistic maybe?

What's missing sometimes in our minds, and even in the minds of our children (that is until they become parents themselves) are the memories of the thousands of minutes, days, months, and yes, years where you did your job, and you did it elegantly--maybe even brilliantly. You did it through sickness, fatigue, sadness, sorrow, frustration and fear. You did it with poverty, isolation, loneliness and loss. You did it with faith, courage, determination or just plain stubbornness—and with never enough time. It was easy to do when you were skinny, happy, financially stable, and with a marriage made in heaven. It was a lot harder to do if you lost your faith, your friends, your sweetheart, or even your dog. The minutes, days, weeks and months of excellent mothering get forgotten by us as we measure our mother's worth by all our imperfections. By all our weaknesses. By all our regrets.

We all have trials--and often the casualties of these trials are the scars we pack around that constantly remind us of the battle. And Mother's Day, it seems, is the holiday we use to celebrate that battle. I've changed my outlook for that day--for several very good reasons--my children. My crummy attitude was affecting their affection for me on that day. I know that they dreaded it too as they looked forward to a day where they would be walking on eggshells. If they didn't say the right things or do the right things they assumed that they would reinforce my own screw-up view of my motherhood. That's a terrible burden to give children, don't you think? Especially when it has NOTHING to do with them. It was all me, but I was inadvertently putting them in charge of fixing me.

Because that is such a dead end path, I choose another: I look forward to seeing them all today while looking into their eyes and seeing the wonderful human beings they are and have become. And yes, even knowing that I DID have something to do with it, and be proud of that work.
I know that I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. And also, just in case, if I taught them anything--I taught them to be forgiving. I trust that that is why they will love and celebrate me on this, my day.

Friday, April 10, 2009

How to Screw up a Child

I took four of my five grandchildren to McDonald's for lunch yesterday. They all wanted to eat and play in the play area.

I sat at the table close to the play area so I could watch my grandkids playing and still feed my littlest grandson Campbell in his highchair. I happened to notice an older woman who was there with her daughter and two of her grandchildren at the next table. The daughter had gone to the play area with her daughter, and the grandmother sat with her five-year-old grandson at the table where the following conversation took place:

"Now if you want to go back into the play area you can't be mean anymore!"
He sits silently looking around.
"Are you going to be like Jesus or Satan?"
He stands up, blankly staring into her face.
"Sit down and do as you're told or you'll make Jesus cry."
He doesn't sit down, so she smacks him in the face, and he cries loud and hard.
Then she tells him to "sit down and be quiet", and to eat his "happy meal".
And he does.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Alone Again.

My children are very good to me. When their Dad travels, and I am left at home, they are very conscientious about making sure that I am okay . . .and not spend any time alone. Jared invited me over and even tried to hide my car keys so that I would have stay in his guest room. Jonathan forces me to be with everyone when they gather, and Jacey and Jennifer both have dinner invitations to keep me busy with. I love and appreciate each and every thoughtful gesture and am grateful for their kindness and selflessness.

After living for many years with a traveling husband I finally lobbied for, and won, the right to get a much-longed-for dog. Jared found Thomas Magnum a.k.a.
"Tommy Boy" in New York for me some three and a half years ago. He has been my constant companion since. He's a Malti-poo and therefore has been bred to stay close to his owner. And so what happens after all these years? Terry quits traveling as much--so now I have both Tommy and Terry in bed (and on the bed) with me! And I welcome the company.

My beloved grandmother lived alone as a widow for some 40 years. I only knew her as a widow, except for a brief marriage when I was a child. I used to hate to leave her house after spending the weekend with her, because I knew that she would be alone. She actually never complained, in fact hers was the neighborhood party home, and she lived a very full life in her church and neighborhood. I just remember thinking that
I would be lonely if I was her--and so my heart would literally break, and tears would secretly flow, each Sunday as I drove away with my parents and four siblings, watching her wave goodbye from her porch. To this day, I still remember how unbearable that was sometimes.

Now, as a very grown up woman, I have known loneliness myself. I truly know what it feels like to think that you will be alone, or are alone, or are experiencing profound periods of loneliness. It was in these times that I introduced myself--to myself--and found out that I had the potential to be pretty good company. It was hard at first, for I am truly a creature of crowds, laughter, family and friends. But I did, and I gained something that has served me well, and for many occasions since. It is not only okay to be alone with me, but I need it more than ever. Almost on a daily basis, I need to fill up my soul, think about my life, talk to my Father, and dream of things to see, places to go, lessons to learn, and how I can best love more fully and completely.

I learned to turn what was once a lonely uncomfortable situation, to one of growth and realization. And so when Terry schedules a trip--after I mourn a little--I know that I am in for another great time of introspection, meditation, soul-searching, and yes, to-do-lists. It also
"takes me off the hook" for a whole list of other things, but that is another blog for another day.

To this day, I still have my moments. The worst are when I drop him at the airport and have to travel home alone in a car that still smells of his cologne. And sometimes when in our great big house I hear a great big
CREAK, and I wish I was not alone. I miss him in the morning, where for years, we have discussed EVERYTHING as he comes home from a run, or readies himself for work. I miss him searching for my hand at night for we always fall asleep holding hands.

In case there be any confusion, although I've learned to love my alone time, I am
most happiest in the middle of people who I love and who love me. You know who you are. And in that crowd, I never feel alone.

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