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

Parenting is Hard.

After an experience with one of my precious children this morning, and after some weekend reflection, I’ve come to this conclusion:

PARENTING IS HARD.

Maybe that isn’t news to you. If I stopped parenting long enough to think about it (which only happens in tiny little moments), I might have figured this out sooner. Maybe? 🙂

Anyway, these recent moments of reflection have shown me similar traits in my children to my own personality flaws (which are actually quite difficult to view). For example, remember when you have read a novel or watched a film and you find yourself identifying with the feelings or habits or personalities of a certain character? Those connections have been happening abundantly lately for me…only my children are not mere characters in a book or movie. They are my children.  And they are flawed (which I knew) like me (which is what is so difficult currently to view).

Maybe some of the difficulty is knowing the path they have ahead of them…and my desire to help them wake up to a realization that certain behaviors that I have wasted years of my life practicing can lead them to heartache and sadness.  I find myself defensively saying (in my mind) to them, “I’m getting over [that behavior].  Why can’t you?”

But, some lessons need to be learned from the inside out, not vice versa.

I guess what I’m saying is, after this weekend and this morning, I’ve got some work to do…both for myself and also with my children. And I’m wondering what I can do to change today….

Each of my children (and yours) is a gift, a life, an opportunity for love and learning and greatness. My children don’t need the fame of a Super Bowl ring, a Julliard degree, or a name in figurative lights to be valued and precious and productive in society. They are each amazing in their own spheres of influence as they develop and share their own talents and gifts with those around them.

I wish I had learned that earlier. I still find myself fighting feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness daily. But, at least I am fighting them (most days) instead of giving into negativity.

On the way back from taking one of our children to school (the one having a rough morning), my husband gently said my name, followed by the words, “You are a good woman.”

My immediate thought was, “If I was a good woman, I could cure more ills and take away more pain.”

As I fought tears in the thought, I saw something else, though…a smattering of light…of truth.

Pain is part of life and a tool to help us grow, just like a flower fights the adversities of gravity and wind to grow and stand straight and bloom.

So bloom. As a person. As a parent. As YOU. We can make a beautiful bouquet together.

Who Are You?

As I’ve been connecting through blogs and Twitter with many new and wonderous people lately (yes, I’m talking about YOU!), I’ve been reading several lines regarding what each person says “About” himself or herself…and I’ve been delighted to feel a little better acquainted with each of you!  Still, this experience of seeing what you write about yourselves (and pondering also what I have written about myself) has produced some thoughts upon which I would like to expound this lovely Thursday….

Who are you, really?  (And what are the first thoughts that come to mind when that question is posed?)  If you asked me that question, I might start by listing my roles in life (mother, daughter, sister, wife, friend, neighbor, etc.), or my interests (“I like to write, paint, cook, read to my kiddos…”), or I might even define myself by my appearance (“I am about six-feet-tall, caucasian, hazel-eyed and have long dark hair”)…but does that really answer the question?

Some of us define ourselves through our experiences (“I am a widower,” or “I am a cancer-survivor”), while some others of us use our religions (Catholic, Mormon, Muslim, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Hindu, Buddhist…) to describe ourselves.  At times, (like during this last US election), people present political party platforms (how’s that for alliteration?) as part of their identities (though I would propose that quite a few Americans do not believe in the entire platform of a single party).  Some define self through a list of achievements (“I’m a straight-A student” or “I’ve published seven best-sellers”), while others cite their origins of life (“I’m adopted” or “I was an accident”) as part of who they are.  Some people define themselves by their sexuality (“I’m gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, hormonal, sex-addicted”).  Some use their careers as a definition of self (“I’m an engineer, radiologist, writer, nurse, cashier, toll-booth attendant, farmer, manager…”).  And let’s not forget the describing words regarding learning styles or brain capacity (such as I.Q., dyslexia, slow-learners, visual, auditory, kinesthetic).  Each of these labels come complete with social connotations and repercussions, but do any of they define who we really are?  I propose that they do not.

When my husband and I brought children into this world, I felt a desire to teach them to look at individuals in a holistic manner and not to piece them apart with labels.  All people in this world have varied experiences and belief systems, but–on the basis that we all share this planet together–I wanted to help my children respect the diversity of each person’s experience and not pre-judge an individual on the basis of skin color, religion, achievement, family situation, or any other label.

And don’t get me started on the use of labels to excuse behavior.  I know have been guilty of that in the past, but–in my current quest to live the best I can and live a life with no excuses–I am trying to do better.  I have heard people say, “Oh, that person is [or was] ____________; he’s [or she’s] just like that.”  When we accept a label to define our present circumstances, we often close the door on inviting ourselves or others to change for the better.

So, here’s a two-fold invitation I am willing to accept today (and I hope that we can be in this together):  first, examine the labels with which I define myself, and, second, examine the labels I use for others.  Am I projecting a negative or fear-filled belief from my past toward myself or this person?

For example, I have a wonderful, long-time friend who practices the religion of Islam.  She and I have discussed religion since we were in grade school, and I find her to be one of the most peace-loving people I know.  When the attacks on 9-11 (2001) came, several people spoke out against her religion while I defended it, knowing that true followers of Islam do not believe in violent behavior.  But, I know that people have given her upsetting looks since that time, simply because of the fear-filled belief surrounding that event over eleven years ago.  Are you hanging on to something like that which holds you back from being a better version of who you are?  I’m ready for some self-reflection–and I’m ready for this post to be over now!  🙂

As always, I invite you to share your thoughts here in the comments or here on my Facebook page.  Hugs!!!