Happy Mother’s Day to Mothers everywhere.
My Mom, my sister and myself.
My sister and her son.
Great Grandma holding my oldest for the first time.
Great Grandma holding my oldest for the first time.
Day Five of Christmas Horse Pictures!
Christmas Day! Ring in the Happiness! Good Cheer! Presents…..
At my house, sort of.
I didn’t wrap anything until this morning, Christmased out by decorating the living room and Tree on Christmas Eve. Normally, all the presents for my kids are wrapped and under the tree by the week before. Not so this year, but maybe that is okay. It is okay not to try so hard?
It wasn’t like they were up at the crack of dawn.
So, I wrapped for them, then the rest of the my family. After opening presents at home, under the newly decorated Christmas Tree, my oldest mixed up Mac and Cheese and some oatmeal cookies for the Family Gathering later that morning.
This was at my asking, mind you. No, not asking. Telling. This wasn’t some bright insight on her part.
They both did an excellent job with my gifts. My son got me a neat black and white drawing of a barn scene with a bright-orange/red fox in the foreground. My oldest got me an agenda and a GC to B&N. Her gifts surprised me. Usually, it’s a DVD.
I was just about to start my “Great Agenda Hunt” for 2018 and this saves me so much time. It isn’t one I would have picked, but she did and it will work fine.
The we drove down to my parent’s house for Christmas with my Dad, sister and her son.
Truthfully, everything felt odd and awkward. Maybe it was just me, but usually I am pretty good about reading such things.
We handed out presents. My sister asked if I had purchased Dad’s gifts to my kids. I said no, I hadn’t been asked to put that on my agenda. Strike one, thought my Dad did write them each a check before we left.
Strike two, we took the dog. I am not yet comfortable leaving her home alone (well with the cats) for long periods of time. She has abandonment issues due to being dumped on our street. We didn’t take her inside my Dad’s house, because she had not been invited. She wasn’t even mentioned until we were getting ready to leave.
We ate and rushed home so my youngest could go to work. Christmas was over.
It was a good Christmas, I guess. At least, an okay one. I don’t do well with holidays on a whole – they overwhelm me – and the same with family gatherings.
Could it have been better? Could I have made it better? Yes and yes, but I’m not sure faking the emotions was the needed ingredient. I don’t want to fake and pretend. I just want Christmas to mean something more again.
That said, Christmas really isn’t for adults, not the Christmas Tree/Santa Claus side anyway. Christmas is for children, those who haven’t forgotten the world of Christmas magic.
I can remember being that child, but can I ever be that child again?
Maybe if I had gotten that pony under the Christmas Tree……
Show us someone or something you admire (and tell us about them, too)!
I admire my mother for all she did for my sister and me, all she sacrificed so we could have wonderful childhoods.
The opening sentence for the February 26th Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner:
“Nothing is ever as easy as it looks…”
Children weren’t easy no matter what they said. She’d found out the hard way – by having a child. It would have been easier with a partner, a marriage, and not just going it on her own, but she hadn’t wanted a partner. It wasn’t she didn’t trust men, but she didn’t trust men. She’d been hurt too many times to take the chance, must less expose her child to the possibility of divorce. She might have done things different if she’d known, but she hadn’t.
Her eyes drifted to the toys on the shelf above her dresser. It all seemed so long ago. He’d called last night to say hello, he loved her, but he couldn’t come for her birthday. One of the kids was sick. The other was on her first sleepover.
She understood. She’d never wanted to leave him when he was sick. Now, she was the sick one. She’d taken the move to the facility as well as possible. He’d agonized over the decision as had she, but in the end, she’d made the final decision, removed the burden from his shoulders.
Just like they’d said, you never stopped behind a mother. That, after all, was what mothers were for.
It’s been over a year since my mother died. I no longer think about her death every moment of the day. Now, it’s the little things which stop me in my tracks. An old Christmas card with her signature. A new Christmas without her signature. My child calling on the phone, needing help, lost in the confusion of the world. I always want to say ‘figure it out on your own.’ I know I need to say ‘figure it out on your own.’ He needs to learn to stand on his own two feet, to take care of his problems, not to always think Mom will fix things for him. But I think of my Mom and ask, ‘What would Mom do?’
She would have done anything and everything in her power to help her child. To help me. To protect me from the world and even from myself. She would also pick up a broom as soon as she entered my house and start sweeping. Or folding laundry. Waxing the floors. Going to the Grocery Store. I hope I’m not that compulsive of a cleaner in my children’s homes (when they get homes other than mine), but for the rest….. how can I argue with my mother? How can I not follow her example?
Mothers are special. My Mom was special and I hope, one day, I will be as special to my own young men. I hope every day that I can live up her to legacy. To calmly say, ‘What can I do?’
WWMD – What Would Mom Do? Not a bad way to live my life.
I lie here wondering why, once again, I can’t sleep. I go in endless concentric circles, forbidden sleep by some force within my own mind until I’m so exhausted, day after day, I can’t stay awake and then, sleeping at the drop of a hat. Somehow, there must be a middle ground. I used to live on the middle ground. Bed by 8 pm every night, up in the morning, and over the first few months my sleeping gradually reverted back to normal. All the sleep lost over the years made right.
Which lasted until about….towards the end of the marriage and the struggle afterwards. Back to square one.
But wait. That’s not what this post is about, not really. I’m pretending, hiding, avoiding the reality that thirty-five minutes ago the clock clicked to 12:01 am and now it is June 7th, my mother’s birthday. The first birthday without her. No searching for the perfect present or baking cakes, finding the sweet treats she liked the most. My family is small. Celebrations are almost always meals, mostly at my parent’s house.
But there will be no meal this year. No one will gather, bustling in with gift bags and coolers full of food. There will be no gathering around the kitchen for the blessing, no filling plates from the counter between the kitchen and dining room. No bright paper. No candles. No laughter.
All my life, I tried to imagine what it would feel like to be without her, trying in my childish and then less than childish way to prepare myself for the dreadful moment I knew would eventually arrive. But no amount of preparations, no years of illness or the knowledge of what was to come, could possibly have prepared me for the reality of her emptiness. It couldn’t prepare any of us.
No balloons. No cards. Just sadness. Working later today. Needing to come home and accomplish something, anything, to keep from wasting away the hours of the day, minutes ticking like raindrops on glass. Each minute another tear. Each second another loss. Each tick or tock the feeling of being utterly alone in the thick dark when most children cry for their mother. I can only cry after. There is no more crying for her to come.
I would like to say there is a glaring riff in my soul, a chunk torn from my heart so large that it will never heal. That would be poetically beautiful, show me as the brave heroine standing fast against the pain. But I can’t. I don’t have a riff, just the tick tock of minutes moving me further and further away from the woman who showed me, both by example and by my refusing her example, how to be the person I have become in a world in which she has finally, inevitably, left me behind.
When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth.
― Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
How true. And how sad. Everybody has lied at one time or another. I won’t lie and say I’m any different, but I’ve written about lying before because it has become the major deal-breaker in my life. So apologizes if you’ve heard this before.
All children lie even if just by omission. My children lied. ‘I don’t know who squirted all the toothpaste out of the tube.’ ‘No, Mom, I didn’t eat the last of the pizza.’ Well, if neither child ate the pizza and they are the only two in the house…. hum…. But still they would maintain to the end of time that they hadn’t eaten the pizza. Where then are the stray kids hiding in my house, eating the pizza, squirting the toothpaste, and every other thing my children swore they never did.
So where do we draw the line between childhood lies when lying means ‘the thing never happened, was never eaten, because they don’t yet understand the difference between lies and truths,’ and adult lies meant to intentionally deceive? Or are they are both the same thing just on a different scale?
My children lie now, at 19 and 22. Small wonder. Their father taught them lying to avoid responsibility was the acceptable way to be a man. He also taught them that lying to their mother was an acceptable way to avoid taking responsibility for their own lives.
My Ex spent 20+ years lying about everything and, yes, he stole my right to a truthful life. In order to maintain the fantasy of what I thought life should be, I lied to cover him. In a previous job, I had to lie to cover the owner’s inability to run the business properly. I hated lying, but I didn’t know how else to survive. I wasn’t strong enough to stand up and say ‘no,’ when it might impact my job or my marriage.
I am strong now which goes a long way to explain why I now have an Ex and not a husband. I still have the same kids, however, and retraining them is a long, grueling battle. How do I show them that lying steals my right to the truth, and to a truthful life. How do I make them see, above and beyond anything else, lying is disrespectful, both to me and to themselves? How do I teach them the courage to stand up and tell the truth no matter the consequences and the courage not to steal anybody’s inherent right to truth?
In addition to saying nothing
negative to your (sons) again today,
do at least one unexpected gesture
as an act of kindness.
As many of you may have noticed, I am…ah… rather exacting over the meanings of words and sentences. I don’t do vague in day-by-day communications. The sentence means what it means. A ridiculously simple example would be the construction truck with the warning on the back – Working Vehicle Do Not Follow.
Okay. So the truck is working – usually a dump truck so I *assume* the fear is the back will give way and drown the close-following car in dirt or whatever happens to be lucky enough to be enclosed within.
Then my mind goes to work. (And yes, this will relate to the subject eventually…. sort of.) My first thought is, ‘So you can’t follow the truck…. for how long? A mile? Forever? Never?” Will all the traffic suddenly come to a stand-still while the truck drives off into the distance alone?’
The sign doesn’t even give you the respect of clarifying, ‘Do not follow behind this truck any closer than 60 yards. You might get smushed.’ There is still some vagueness here but never mind for now. You can undoubtedly see the point. I’m anal about words and grammar.
And now here is where I am going to make a flourish with my hands, say TA-DA, and suddenly spring a ‘new’ subject on you, even if I did just give you a hint of what was to come.
What does the Love Dare mean by Kind? Am I kind if I bake you cookies? How about if I mow your grass just because? Pick up your child from school so you don’t have to miss work? Send a card? Call? Flowers? Does kindness mean that I have to do something for somebody else whether physical, mental or emotional?
Or can kindness also be not doing something?
I thought about the ways and means of kindness this week, trying to figure out what kindness I could offer to my sons. Their suggestions would mostly likely cover the money or food avenue of giving them something of monetary value.
So, yes, kindness can be giving but must it always be giving?
Doing their chores for a day? What chores? The ones I have to threaten bodily harm to get done? Those chores? They wouldn’t even notice.
Take them to dinner? A dinner out would be kind if you mean kind as in ‘nice.’ But is nice what the Dare is asking me to be?
Nice is a ‘nice’ word. The sky is nice today. Tells me nothing about why the sky is nice. Or the clouds or the sun or your spotted dog. Nice really tells nothing more than the speaker doesn’t have the ability, time, care enough, or is afraid to, to say what is really meant.
I don’t want to be just *nice.* I want to show kindness with action or actions that are real and solid and meaningful. I want them to be able to say, ‘Wow, Mom sure was kind to me today. She…. fill in the blank as you wish.’
But kindness shouldn’t need shouting from the mountaintops. Kindness isn’t something done for praise. So maybe kindness should slip quietly into one’s life like a shadow, maybe not even realized until later.
Last Friday, as always, my oldest picked me up from work. He had just recently painted his room and I’d told him I would buy him a new rug. I was tired. I didn’t want to go to the store then, but he wanted to go and every other time I was off he had plans. So off to Kohl’s we go.
Found the rugs. He liked. We’re done. Right?
Ah, no. He’d been hinting that he needed shoes but I explained to him that was why he worked – so he could buy his own shoes. But I could tell he wanted something so I suggested maybe he might like to look at the clearance clothes. Instant smile and off he goes.
And there, in the middle of Kohl’s, I found myself in the middle of kindness. There is a reason why we disagree on clothes but it isn’t something I’m comfortable with at the moment. Suffice it to say, the greatest kindness I could have shown him at that moment was to tell him he could get clearance clothes and then walk away. To remain silent when he came up to me with clothes in hand, waiting for me to give the Mother’s ‘No.’
I said nothing except ‘do they fit’ and ‘do you want them.’ And then, ‘let’s go pay.’
At that moment, I was enfolded in the arms of kindness towards another person. Silent. Warm. And filled with overflowing love.
At that moment, I was kindness and isn’t that what the dare was really asking…
I know you might not believe me this time, but I still want to do the Love Dare. I keep telling myself I don’t have time, I’m too exhausted when I get home, anything to keep from adding one more responsibly to my daily To Do List.
Excuses… excuses. I know. I’m human. But like all humans I can do better, I can try harder. I can, at least, say I’m going to step up to the challenge.
So here, again, is the first day of the Dare for my sons.
Day 1: Love is patient
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
The first part of this dare is fairly simple. Although love is communicated in a number of ways, our words often reflect the condition of our heart. For the next day, resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your children at all. If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything. It’s better to hold your tongue than to say something you’ll regret.
I have a hard time with biting my tongue and patience. I’m light years better than I used to be, but still not where I’d like to be. I get angry when I’m home from 8 or 12 hours of work, trying to get the house cleaned, straightened, groceries, caring for 4 cats and my sons are sitting on their butts playing on their computers. They came by this habit honestly. That was all their Dad did. Probably all he still does but I’m getting off the point.
Today I will strive not to speak sharply when their chores are left undone, when their only connection with me is ignoring.
Back tomorrow to report on my success or lack thereof.