Matching

She was taller than most of the girls her age. She stood, looking much like an elongated version of Cupid, dressed in a short-sleeved shirt of soft crimson paired with pale, pink shorts. She had rifled through the laundry basket earlier that morning in search of clean clothes and had emerged with these items–the only two clean articles of clothing her size in the house. (Though her germaphobe mother wouldn’t let her wear clothing more than once without washing, the mother did not have an affinity for household tasks such as laundry.)

The girl walked into her sixth grade open-concept classroom, where her eyes met with a fellow student and neighbor, *Kara. Kara was dressed in Guess jean shorts, with the trademark inverted triangle on the back pocket and a matching logo shirt in teal. Her eyes scanned the girl’s outfit and whispered something to their mutual friend, Sophia, who was the most popular person in sixth grade.

The girl didn’t know what to think, but she preceded to pull her social studies homework from her yellow Esprit bag and place it in the box on Mrs. Grammer’s desk.

The girl passed through her morning math (they were studying exponents) and language arts (where they were reading a short story by some old French author whose name she couldn’t pronounce). She even made her usual way through lunch, trading a Swiss Cake Roll for a Nutter Bar with her friend Melanie.

On the way back from lunch, the students had a few minutes before settling into their afternoon studies. The girl prepared her mind for work after the sleepiness that was beginning to take hold from digesting carbs and simple sugars, when Kara approached.

“Hey!”

The girl turned around, and her eyes met with Kara again.

“Don’t you know your clothes don’t match?”

The girl just shook her head slowly but moved her gaze over the crimson shirt and pale pink shorts. She shrugged. “I thought it looked okay.”

“Well, everyone knows that red and pink don’t match,” Kara responded, her voice filled with contempt at such a fashion faux pas.

The other students who surrounded them followed Kara into social studies, leaving the girl alone in the center of the four open-concept classrooms. She wished she could hide under a table, or better yet go home and change her clothing. She worked each day to find articles that could mix and match in an attempt to fit in with her other “cool” friends.

That day, she had failed.

Fear from that moment still covers her from time to time, like this morning when her nine-year-old descended the stairs pairing a yellow-and-green-striped sock with an orange zebra one. She feels it when her older daughter, an echo of herself (though with much more wisdom and much less boy-craziness) stands with the trendy half-tuck in a monochrome blue ensemble. She wishes she did not carry the weight of that burden, one she has yet to share with the world.

Maybe one day she will learn.

*Names have been changed.

Helium

My father asked me a peculiar question when I was seven years old. He said, “Would you like to release your ballon into the air?”

My expression gave him an open invitation to analyze my thoughts. I can still, decades later, feel the contortions of unbelief pulling at my facial muscles as my grip invariably tightened around the piece of string which tied my new treasure to me for what I wished would be forever.

Still, my father, ever open to scientific experiments and opportunities, continued. “We could put a card on the ballon for whomever finds it. They could contact us, and we could see how far the helium travels….”

His invitation brought me no desire to comply.

This balloon was mine, and I wasn’t about to give it away, or let it fly away, off to some distant land containing some floating message in a (latex) bottle.

Within days (or possibly even hours), what was once so importantly elevated above my head was reduced to barely floating along the baseboard line of my childhood home.

During some moments now, I regret the emotions of that experience: the want to cling to everything I felt was mine, the power I afforded this small object (allowing it to rule my selfish nature), the temporary lift of helium.

If I could repeat that moment, I would write the message. I would attach my words to the balloon, and I would let go.

I would watch it rise toward clouds, a spot of brilliance among tufts of cotton and sheets of azure.

And I would wait to see what would happen.


photo credit

Bike Wrecks and Broken Teeth

The sun pierced through the canopy of trees above, painting irregular polygons in less regular patterns across the asphalt. I had lived but a decade and received a Blue Angel banana-seat bike for Christmas only months prior. My thin legs and long feet pushed and pushed and pushed the pedals in turn, racing my running friends along the road back toward the cul-de-sac, back toward home.

Blue Angelphoto credit

I will probably never know what happened next. Somehow my bike stopped suddenly while my body lurched forward over the handlebars with the inertia pushing me airborne and flailing through the newly warming spring air.

My face collided with the pavement, leaving small chunks of rock and gravel imbedded in my skin.

As I rose to my feet, hesitantly, I surveyed what I couldn’t see but could only feel with fingers and tongue. The road claimed half of my front tooth as it’s own victory for the battle, leaving me with a busted lip and broken nose as my battle wounds.

My Blue Angel was relatively unharmed.

Panic ensued in what was a blur of faces and friends inquiring about my well-being.

“Karin, are you okay?”

I was bleeding not only from nose and lip but also from elbow, hand, and knee. Still, I half-ran, half-hobbled down past six or seven houses to my own door step. My mother met me there with a mixture of shock and amazement and welcomed me into the kitchen to press my face with cold paper towel compresses and whatever ice she could find. She was already phoning the dentist.

A same-day appointment was scheduled, and I made the first of many trips to fix my broken tooth. I wish the dentist could’ve mended my heart as easily as he cleaned the root with mixtures that smelled of bleach and the chewable calcium tablets my dad made us eat each day to ensure our bones were strong.

I wasn’t sure if my lip would ever be un-swollen. I knew my nose would never be the same. I preferred walking to the speed and wind-blowing-in-my-hair feelings of riding my bike. I stayed inside for many days. I grew tired of recounting my adventurous encounter with the road. I became a little more cautious.

More years later than I care to count, those feelings continue to set patterns for my practices. I am more careful than I would like to be at times–longing to let the wind blow in my hair and break free of the monotony of my everyday. But then, I am back on that bike, pounding the pavement, and flying over my bike all over again. I want to call to that girl and tell her that she will heal, that no one will notice the nose, or the tooth, or the scars years from now. I want to tell her that she will have what she needs and most of what she wants. I want to tell her to ride.

Ride into the wind.

We can always pick up the pieces later…

together.

Failure…& What Follows

Did you get one of these for Christmas?
Official Rainbow Loom Starter Kit Set MEGA Hot!  Guaranteed 100% Authentic!
No?

Well, I didn’t either. But one of my kiddos did. And, a few nights ago, I was schooling myself on YouTube trying to figure out how to create a “starburst” pattern on the loom.

I tried and looped and grabbed and crossed each band according to what I thought was the right way.

Guess what? When the time came to peel the woven bands from their temporary loom home, we only had two of the six starburst shapes that were even somewhat in tact.

Oops.

I failed at doing it.

Still, I searched over YouTube once again in hope of helping my child. We located a different video…one that was a bit longer, and created the second time what we thought we created the first.

This time, I was prepared for disaster. My daughter offered an audible prayer as I began to remove the twisted-band creation.

Fortunately, this one worked beautifully. And I thought how, on this first day of 2014, I was given a gift–the gift to know that I will fail.

All of us will. You know that list of goals or resolutions you made just a few days ago? Well, review them often. Try. Accomplish. Try. Fail. Try again. Learn and move on…and become better. Become better at life and living and loving and going and doing. Improve on the glorious you that you are already.

You can do it. And I can, too.

By failing at the beautiful rainbow loom bracelet, I was able to work more particularly the second time. My second attempt was nearly perfect. (My third one was a bust, again, though…while the fourth one was amazing.) But, I kept going…and working…and trying…and doing.

So, allow yourself to live and fail and succeed. You will find happiness in the long run for simply trying…and you might just pick up a few skills along the way (like Rainbow Loom bracelet creating). I know I did.  🙂

Letter to My Thirteen-Year-Old Self

Dear Thirteen-year-old Me,

Round out your shoulders. Straighten your back. Go for a run. You life is long ahead of you, and you need all the air you can breathe and all the momentum you can gain.

Stand tall in your shoes. Years from now, a twenty-something musician/salesman in the Apple store will make a tall joke while you are standing in platforms next to your gorgeous husband on your anniversary. You are beautiful. Own it.

You will learn to read faster. Keep trying. The dyslexia you fight with now will be overcome through diligent effort and practice. You can do it. Keep reading.

Study math, too…with a sprinkle of history. When your kiddos are your age, you will need to help them with homework. You may not be willing to study for yourself; still, study for them.

Feed your body with healthy foods–not just Cheez Doodles and chocolate. You really are what you eat.

While you think about feeding your body, remember to feed your spirit. A toddler running around won’t wait for you to find a chapter and verse of scripture to back you up one day. You need to have the word of God written in your heart…always.

Be a good friend. You never know when you might share the only smile a person sees in a day…or a week…or even longer. Whatever friendship you extend will come back to you. I promise.

God loves you for who you are…past, present, and future. Ask for help when you need it. He is there. He will send others who love you to help.

Speak kind words. Anyone can complain. Live higher than that. Look for the good in others–and in yourself, as well.

You are incredible! You will have amazing moments in life filled with joy and pain, laughter and tears, triumph and defeat. Embrace all of it, and you will be better for the living.

Love your body wherever it is on your journey. Your body will take many forms, but love your body through each stage. It houses your spirit and gives you power. Don’t fall prey to the media’s cruel deceptions. Your body is a creation of wonder.

Just keep going. You will be tempted to quit, to give up, to run away from everything. Don’t you dare do it. You have work and writing to do, moments of mothering and friendship to share. You will make it through whatever comes your way, and you will look back years from now and be amazed at what you have accomplished.

Keep dreaming. Your dreams will fuel your passion, goals, and actions. They will bring you energy to continue when life is hard. You really can (& will) do it!!!!

You are stronger than you ever dreamed you could be. Live. Love. Worry less. Feel more. Enjoy being who you are.

With love,

Your much older (and a little bit wiser) You
Karin
🙂

I Thought I Was Different

I recall bygone days filled with moments of his pleading for me to come eat lunch with him. I remember tying his little shoes in double knots because he didn’t know how to tie them if they came untied at school. I can still see him standing on a chair by the counter as we creamed butter, measured and poured in brown and white sugars, counted the eggs, and mixed in flour, baking soda, and salt. He always wanted to pour in the vanilla. I always placed a few extra chocolate chips on to the counter, just for him.

Now he can make cookies by himself…and tie his shoes that aren’t so little anymore.

He doesn’t ask me to meet him for lunch at school.

I thought I was different.

I knew other mothers around me who often shared this tell-tale caution openly: “They grow up too fast. Treasure every moment. Some day he won’t want you around as much.”

As he prepared last weekend to attend a dance with friends, I wanted to go so badly. I wanted to watch him experience the thrill of the dance floor, the upbeat music, the connection with friends. I wanted nothing more than for him to create amazing memories that would carry him through his youth and into adulthood.

He picked out his clothing and worked on styling his hair. When his ride arrived, I knew that moment so many mothers had cautioned me about was really here.

And, I wasn’t different after all.

But I have worked for over a decade to prepare him for these moments, and knowing he is learning each day to become a man helps to ease the separation.

I do hope that someday, maybe ten years from now, he will invite me to lunch again. I will sit across the table from him, and he will be grown and living on his own. I will tell him I am proud of the decisions he has made. But I will still hear echoes of that little kindergartener, so many years ago. I may shed a tear or two, as I am now.

But I will also smile in the happiness that we are not so different after all.


photo credit

What Kiddos Say…

This past weekend, my daughter had our beads out to make some bracelet gifts for two of her sweet friends’ birthdays. As she began mixing and matching beads, trying this pattern with that color, or trading a Swarovski bicone with a pearl, I began to play, too. I found a pattern of pearl beads in various sizes and colors of pale green, coral, and cream, adding them one at a time to a sturdy strand of wire. I crimped the clasp on, and eventually placed it on the counter in my bathroom, where one of my twins found it Sunday evening.

With surprise, he queried, “Are these real?”

“No. They are just acrylic beads covered to look like pearls.”

“Well, if they were real, you would be rich!”

I thought for a moment, as I have been pondering the true value of worldly wealth and possessions as of late, and I responded quickly (and a little cheesily, I must admit…but the sentiment was sincere), “I am already rich. I have you.”

He pondered for a moment, and then spoke.

“I guess you’re right, since you can sell children for about $20,000.00 each.”

Not exactly the message I was trying to send….

🙂

20131028-090359.jpg