Monthly Archives: October 2010

What Takes Shape

There is something so fantastic about a blank piece of paper.  Clean.  Open. Welcoming.  I love the moment when Hannah pulls out a piece of blank white paper.  She places is it on the table in front of her, pulls out a marker or crayon and sits staring at the paper.  Her wheels turning.  Her imagination spilling out of her. No rules. No expectations. No right or wrong.

I’m pretty sure Hannah never knows what she is going to create when she pulls out the paper and starts to draw.  I like to sit back and watch her as she starts.  She slowly doodles a shape on the paper and then sits back to examine it.  Often she’ll turn the paper around and around studying the shape.  Until it takes shape.  And then she’ll begin her work.  Today I watched her go from sitting with a blank piece of paper to an abstract green, bumpy shape to an amazing picture of a dinosaur wearing a dress and sunglasses, standing beside two “townhouses”, under an orange sky, its feet on blue grass with two dinosaur friends.  I’m confident “I’m going to draw a scene with dinosaurs and townhouses” was not something that crossed her mind as she set out to draw  today.  But it’s where her imagination led her. It’s where her crayon took her.  And she was quite satisfied with the outcome.

I feel like I live many of my days like this.  I wake up with a blank day in front of me.  No idea of what moods lay ahead.  What obstacles I might stumble upon.  All I can control is how I step out of bed.  Whether I have a smile or a frown across my face. What “shape” I draw at 6:00 in the morning is all I can plan.  The rest just happens.

In watching Hannah add more and more details to her picture today and seeing her get more and more excited with each addition to her picture, I realized what a great way THAT would be to live.  To be more in control, more purposeful, with what I add to what’s already in my day.  What details will make my “picture” more exciting, more satisfying.  I don’t normally do this.  Because it’s not easy to do.  I usually just see my day falling apart in front of me and chalk it up to another one of “those” days. And if the falling apart starts at 10am, so be it, the rest of the day is lost.

I guess it doesn’t always have to be like that though.  Things as easy as a vase of flowers, a cup of hot cider, a phone call to a friend, a thank you to someone unexpecting it can really make that early Shape of my day something Better.

I’m going through some crappy days lately.  Crappy in that if I were to draw a picture at the beginning of my day it would just be a brown mud puddle.  But I had an epiphany, and I’m Not letting the muddy waters drag me down.  Nope.  I’m putting on my new Target herringbone rain boots and I’m going splashing in those puddles.  Because what fun will a picture of a mud puddle be to look back on when the sun comes out?  Not fun.  I’m adding some happy details to my paper.  Maybe not a dinosaur wearing sunglasses.  But happy none the less.

 

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Thinking Chair

 

Hannah sometimes comes home from school ticking off a list of kids who had to sit in the Thinking Chair that day.  She tells me who the offender was, what they did, how they reacted and how she promises she’ll Never Ever have to sit in the dreaded Thinking Chair.  The “Chair” is the consequence for a child’s third offense in a day.  First offense the child is given a verbal warning.  Second offense, the child gets her name written on the blackboard for all to see.  And if a third offense occurs, the child is directed to a small blue chair, off in the corner of the room to sit.  Alone.  To think.  Alone.  Until the teacher feels the child has learned her lesson.

Many of us have our version of the Thinking Chair in our house.  We have a “naughty step” where Hannah and Luke are sent when I just can’t bare to look at them anymore after they’ve been behaving horrendously.   For Hannah it’s the top step of the stairs. For Luke it’s the third from the bottom.  (Don’t Ask.) Unfortunately for me, he actually LIKES to sit on the step.  He sits with his hands in his lap with a silly grin on his face shouting, “HI Mommy!” while I try to keep a stern angry look on my face and wag my finger at him shouting, “You STAY there for a whole two minutes until you can LISTEN!”.  “Oh Tay Mommy”, he usually says, happily sitting, swinging his feet.”

The Thinking Chair in my house really doesn’t work.  Hannah spends the whole time screaming, not thinking.  Luke thinks it’s a game and certainly doesn’t Think for even a millisecond while he’s there.  This is why the top step and third step from the bottom have done nothing recently but gather dust.

But.

I have a Thinking Chair of my own in my house.

I don’t use it as a place to sit when I’ve been naughty.  Instead it really is the chair that I find myself doing the most thinking.  It sits in the corner of Luke’s room.  It’s blue and white gingham, extra wide and overstuffed.  It reclines and it glides.  I spent months nursing Luke in this chair. Months sleeping with him in this chair. More months sleeping on my own in the chair while he struggled to sleep in his crib.  I’ve read him countless tractor, truck and car books in this chair and I’ve sung him thousands of lullabies from this chair.

But the times I cherish most in this chair are the minutes I just sit in his dimly lit room.  Shadows on the wall cast from the tiny nightlight in the opposite corner.  I can only hear the Waterfall soothing sound coming from his sound machine as it blocks out most other sounds coming from downstairs or even next door in Hannah’s room.  I sit comfortably in the dark quiet and watch Luke’s little feet tap each reachable bar of his crib, a routine he’s recently started before he falls asleep.  I watch him softly stroke his blankies with the palm of his hand.  The back of his hand. The palm of his hand.  He sucks on one corner of the blanket while his hand caresses it.  Before he drifts off to sleep he lifts his head off the mattress to make sure I’m still sitting there and then quietly whispers, “nigh nigh mommy”. I know that’s my cue that I can leave.

But I stay.

And I think.  I think without distractions.  Without my phone blinking by my side.  Without the TV disturbances.  Without Hannah Needing anything from me.  I think about the day.  And yesterday. And tomorrow.  Lots of tomorrows.  I clear my head.  I have a chance to remember details. Flip through pictures in my head of things that have happened. Are happening.  I’ve shed a few tears in that chair.  And no one has known.  I’ve breathed deep sighs.  With no one asking me, “What’s wrong?”.  I’ve dreamed.  And smiled at those dreams.  Being able to totally appreciate them with no one telling me I’m being silly.

I love that chair.  That space. I love that I share it with Luke.  Although he has no idea. I always wish I could stay a few more minutes.  To breathe in the quiet. The darkness.  The sound of his slowed breathing.  But I fear waking him as I sneak out.

And the fact that it is a place I cannot sit for long makes it that much more special.  Helps me appreciate it.

Everyone needs a Thinking Chair.  For me it’s a Good place to sit.  And I’d like to be sent there Any Time.

 

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Angry

What do you do when you’re so angry but you have no where to place that anger.  No one to scream at.  No one to truly vent to. No one who can make you feel better?  Instead, you have to put on a happy face. You have to be “strong”. You have to act “fine”.  Even when you are everything but “fine”. And what if the person you’re angry at is not someone who you can reach out to. Not someone with whom you can “use your words”. No, instead it’s an unreachable entity.  Who honestly wouldn’t care what you had to say anyway. And the reason for your anger?  It’s because the one person, who means more to you than anyone else in the world has been wronged.  And there’s Nothing You Can Do.

This is where I am.

My body is aching with anger. Frustration. Sadness.

I’m sorry I can’t get into detail on this, but it’s Tim who has been wronged.  A person who has Never in the time I’ve known him wronged a soul.  I look at his face and I don’t recognize him.  The man I married, full of the Sillies, jumping to make me laugh at every turn, looks empty. Hollow.

And I’m helpless.  Yes, I can help him with my support.  Support in knowing that “things will work out”.  I can help him with my love. My arms wrapped around him.  My smile when he wears a frown.

But I’m not even sure that’s what he wants.  I don’t know what he wants.  I don’t know what I’d want.  I’m not sure of anything anymore.  Because I never believed that someone who always does right, could get something so undeserved.  My optimistic outlook has become cynical. A place I never thought I’d be.

I want to lash out. Scream at the top of my lungs. Stomp my feet. Beat my hands on the ground.  But I guess that won’t do anyone any good.  Not me. Not him. So instead, I’ll stand tall.  Be there.  Be here.  Be honest that I’m shaken up. On edge. Not MYself, even though this didn’t happen to Me.

Although in a way it did.  Happen to me. Because my world is shaken by his world shaking.  So we’ll tremble together on this shaky ground until our footing is found. And then again, we’ll celebrate together. And I’ll breathe again.

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It doesn’t really matter who I Was

It’s taken me three days of sitting on my thoughts post reunion to figure out how to follow up my last post.  My post on knowing who I AM but not quite sure who I WAS.

What a strange feeling it was walking into that party on Saturday, my best friend and biggest supporter on my arm, knowing full well who I am but feeling pulled back into so many feelings I once felt.  How quickly I remembered as I walked into that room who I WAS.  It was as if there was an invisible tug of war going on inside my body.  A tug toward that insecure girl as I saw so many faces that I once envied, but then whipped back into the reality of who I am today.  Then Me that I Like and have become more comfortable living with.

I have to say, the awkward internal pull ended quickly.  As I started saying hi to everyone and realized that it now, for the most part, 20 years later is an even playing field.  I forced myself to believe that there really can’t be the cool kids and uncool kids anymore.  We all grew up.  Most of us have families.  Change diapers. Clean up vomit. Struggle with staying at home or going to work.  Are embarrassed for screaming at our kids when maybe we shouldn’t have.  Are hesitant to admit that sometimes we don’t even LIKE our kids and we miss who we used to be.

And once that realization hit.  That we’re all in this Place, this Life together, I Was Fine.  I realized that no one gives a shit whether I do shots or smoke pot or stay up until 5:30 in the morning.  Yeah, maybe they rolled their eyes at me in high school for not joining in on That fun.  But now, last weekend, I didn’t care.  And that’s not easy to do at 17.  Not care.  Because our whole lives are about caring what others think.  Fearing looked down upon for being too fat, too thin, too slow, too prude, too smart, too dumb, too pretty, too sensitive.

But 20 years later.  Now that I’ve found My Place.  Where I know Where I fit and Who I am.  I really don’t care.  (As Much).  Yes, I still want people to like me.  Think I’m smart.  And fun. And sweet.  But I’ve taken great strides as I’ve found things to take pride in, to come to grips with “Like Me or Leave Me”.  Life’s just too short to care so much.

So what did I walk away from this 20 year reunion with? A mix of emotions.

I left knowing that the qualities that really MATTER when you’re in high school are the ones that can carry you through life.  External beauty, alcohol tolerance, and speed at which you get to third base (although may make you the life of the party) can’t quite score you points in your 40’s.  But kindness, genuineness, and respect will.  There was no one at the reunion I felt regret for having done them wrong.  No, I was not friends with everyone.  I probably didn’t make much of an effort in many cases but I never wronged a sole.

I hope I remember to tell Hannah and Luke, as they go through difficult times of not fitting in (because we all do right?) to Hold On.  Just wait.  Be strong.  Be that Nice person who may not be the most popular but people LIKE because in the end, they’ll end up on top.  Can we tell our kids that?  Is there any chance they’ll listen?  I know, probably not.

I’m also left with sadness.  The night was so bittersweet as I walked away from friends who I had been so close to but lost complete touch with.  It made me realize how important these friendships were.  And are.  And makes me wonder if it’s too late to rekindle them.  And it also makes me wonder, What Happened?  Why did we lose touch in the first place?  And I can’t help thinking I am at fault.  For not working harder to keep these friendships strong.

But mostly, I left the night with Relief.  That those I loved in high school, I still love (although my major crushes never even showed… which might be a good thing?), that those who I envied I now felt no reason to envy and that the night really, was Just Fun.  A ton of fun.

I’m still unclear about who I was 20 years ago.  But tonight I’m realizing, it really doesn’t matter.  Who I was made me who I am.  The times I fell, feeling walked on, neglected or used, I got back up.  It must have made me stronger. It must have taught me something to push me toward who I am today.

And to steal an amazing quote from a dear friend of mine, “Somehow I became the girl I wanted to be”. I just didn’t know who that girl was, until now.

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Who I Was

It’s taken me a long time.  But I think I’ve finally figured out Who I Am.  It’s not necessarily a finished product.  There are still things I’d like to do, and to achieve, and to become. But if someone was to ask me to describe myself,  I could.

The obvious mom, wife, friend, and daughter tick right off my tongue.  But the ones that take deeper introspection, are the things that define Me.  I’m a thinker.  A ponderer.  A wonderer.  I’m quick to like people, even when they don’t deserve to be liked.  I’m an optimist and believe people are naturally good and that things happen for a reason.  I get my feelings hurt easily.  I love to laugh. I love to make people laugh.  And I actually do think I can be funny.  The outdoors energizes me.  The sky truly amazes me with its vast blueness, its dancing clouds and its awe inspiring starry nights.  I’d prefer a hug over a kiss. I’d choose holding hands in silence than dancing in a crowded noisy bar. I’m curious and ask endless questions.  I like to understand. But I’m embarrassed to admit when I don’t.  I seek to be liked. And am hurt and sad when I feel I’m not.  I’m self deprecating and know I’m not perfect.  I don’t actually want to be perfect.  I like to learn along the way.  I detest feeling lonely. But I love to be alone.  I’m kind. And am bitter when others aren’t kind to me.  But I don’t trust when someone is too kind.  I care how I look.  Too much at times. Because I preach that it doesn’t matter.  I like for everyone to get along. And take great steps, sometimes when I shouldn’t, to ensure that they do.  I know I’m smart. But I’m often afraid to state my opinion on many subjects for fear that I sound ignorant.  I love to take the lead.  But don’t necessarily like being a leader.

This is who I am.

My 20 year high school reunion is tomorrow night.  And it’s got me thinking about who I WAS.  And that, I am not so clear on.  I know who I WANTED to be.  How I THINK people viewed me.  But I’m pretty sure that my view was warped.  Or maybe not.  I’m sadly no longer in close contact with my best high school friends so I haven’t had a conversation about who we Were.  I don’t remember if I was funny.  Or outgoing. Or interested. Or interesting.  Warm?  Sympathetic?  Smart?  Passionate?  A follower?  A leader?  Optimitstic?  Naive? Who was I?

I’m pretty certain I fit in. But too often felt like I was on the outside.  I was smart.  But never achieved quite what my friends did.  I look back and see I was pretty. But never felt I was.  Or maybe just never felt noticed by who I wanted to be noticed by. Maybe because I wore insecurity on my face more often than makeup.  I was athletic.  And achieved a lot on the field. And on the court.  But couldn’t help looking over at the cheerleaders with envy.

Or maybe, once again, I’m overthinking.  And who I Am is who I Was.  Maybe I’ll walk into that room tomorrow night and realize who I Was made me who I Am.  Or maybe I’ll see that yes, I was different, and still am.  And that will work for me too.

Regardless, I can’t wait.  To be Me. To see everyone. And who they’ve become.

Twenty Years.

How did THAT happen?

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