Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Child is a Curly Dimpled Lunatic **Ralph Waldo Emerson

As a first time mom I remember scouring the shelves of the bookstore for parenting advice. Books that would tell me what to do...how to parent. Books written by experts who knew the answers to my many questions. I just knew that I could find someone who would make me the best parent out there. The truth is that all those authors of all those books can go stick their respective heads in doo doo. I remember reading book after book and trying all the different ideas and nothing worked. The truth is parenting is not something that you can read about in a book or learn about from a friend. Good parenting comes with trial and error. Many many errors. The worst part is that you think you are good to go with a second or third kid after you have a first but that is just not true. Parenting is not a blanket. It doesn't cover every type of kid. Some need quilts others need comforters and still others sleep with no blanket at all. There is no expert out there who can dictate a sure fire way to solve all those hurdles we come upon while trying to raise our kids. There is not text book tantrum or perfect punishment. No one can translate their parenting into what works for me or you. Just as no one should judge the way a person chooses to parent their own child. We are all learning and facing new challenges every single day.
This summer is bringing many new opportunities to practice different parenting techniques. Most of the time I feel like I am running around smashing knuckles with my husband saying "wonder twin powers activate in the form of a good parent!!"( OK I know I am dating my self here :) Trying to find the right super power to tackle each diverse issue that a 12, 9 and 6 year old can bestow upon us. Each super power we transform into might work for one child but never for another. Thank goodness we are a dynamic duo and can usually come together to thwart evil and teach a lesson.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Why Can't Liar's Pants Really Catch on Fire?

Sometimes it seems like I am wasting my time. I am spending day after day focusing on the truth and respect and rules and laws. Teaching my children right from wrong by giving them a good example. But every way you turn someone is getting ahead in life by lying or cheating. They do what they have too to do to put themselves ahead. They seem to be able to somehow rationalize their life choices and be able to love themselves despite how they live. The outrageous part is that it tempts me to just throw in the towel and join the forces. Maybe I should stop trying to do what I know is right and begin to do what is right now. Stop worrying about how my actions will affect other people. Think about what makes me happiest no matter who gets stepped on. It isn't like there is someone sitting there in judgement with a tally board keeping track of everything. In fact most of the questionable things people do to get ahead go unnoticed by most. The real problem in this whole plan is that I care too much. I can't throw all those things I know to be right out the window. I don't want my kids to be those people who are out for their own happiness above all else. I need them to have empathy and truth in their lives. Even if it is just for themselves in the end. The hardest part to stomach is that as much as no one notices the lies people tell to get ahead even more people don't see the people who live their life with truth, empathy and respect.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mud Pies and Snickerdoodles

As we get older I think we sometimes forget where we came from. We forget the things that were so important in forming who we are and what we believe. The things we experienced during our childhood years mean more then we could ever really know. The people that knew us back when are the ones who know us well for better and worse.

The other day I saw some childhood friends and one of them said something that got me thinking. She said that she didn't want to get mushy or anything but that she wanted me to know how much we (my family) meant to her..how important we all were in her childhood. She is so right and it went both ways.

The day the two sisters moved into the red barn house across the street from my house my sister and I were so excited. We saw the moving truck unloading a pink bike with training wheels and we knew that there were little girls moving in. From that moment on we made memory after memory together. We spent the summers joined at the hip. The moment we woke up we would meet in my backyard. The grass was still wet with dew and the sun was hardly up. We would make mud pies and hang out in the club house in the mulberry tree. We would hardly stop to have lunch and be back out there playing. No TVs or computers just good old fashioned fun. When school time would come back around we would peel away from each other but always end up back together in the afternoons and on weekends. We played barbies for years and so much more. I think they saw in us a stable family with a mom and a dad. Someone was always home after school and there was always a plate of fresh baked cookies. I think we saw in them the mystery of a single parent household. Their mom worked full time and they spent time alone. We envied that. We saw their dad show up every other Friday in his little sporty car and shuttle them to his house with a pool miles away. It was almost like a soap opera to us. One we couldn't' stop watching.

As we got older things got more complicated as they always do. We had different interests and different friends. The summers got clogged with boyfriends and jobs and the closeness wavered. An uncomfortable smile or a nod would be all we could muster for each other. By then their mom moved from the red barn house. We all went off to college and found our groove. We married and had babies and carved out lives. We have found each other again. A little older and wiser. We all have kids the age that we were when we met across that street all those years ago. Seeing our kids running around playing together brought back the things all those memories and that unstoppable connection. The connection made of mud pies and Snickerdoodles.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Heroes Aren't So Super

I have dreams a lot. They are always the same. I am a superhero. I have the answer to every one's problems and I rush around fixing everything. I leave a trail of smiles and laughter everywhere that I go. Then things turn dark and foreboding. I turn around and look at my own issues and I can't fix them. Typical superhero life. Focused on others and unable to focus on yourself. That is why sometimes hero's aren't as strong and unwavering as you think they are. Behind those capes they have hearts and emotions. They also make mistakes and don't always walk the straight and narrow. As kids we are always asked who our hero's are. Sometimes I think this is a bad approach. A hero is something out of a story. There is no such thing as someone who can sacrifice their own being to do for others. No one who is perfect. No one who can erase evil and do eternal good. Building someone up to be something that they aren't makes them fall farther and harder.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Clean Slate

Sometimes I wish I could join the witness protection program (although I am not sure you can actually chose to join). You know just wipe the slate clean and start over. No baggage. No drama. No complications. I could choose a new name and a new place to start over. I would be nicer and not yell so much. I would dress my kids in matching outfits and have a white picket fence. I would have a floor so clean that we could eat straight off of it and trees perfectly grown and manicured. I would be self assured and confident. I would do the grocery shopping and try clothes on before buying them. I would enjoy pedicures and wear a bikini. I would cry when I was sad.

I might be able to do this a week then I would be who I am again.

New drama would appear and complicated relationships would begin. There is no escaping the fact that we are all human and nothing can stay at the surface for long. Everything becomes complicated and detailed. That is what makes life so challenging yet so empowering. We can't forget our faults anymore then we can forget our identity. We all have things we want to be but don't quite have that courage to reach beyond the comfort we have created. Our identity encompasses the good the bad and the ugly all wrapped up in the past, now and the future. Our pasts follow us forever but our futures are yet to be determined. We can be who we want to be to a certain extent but not without knowing who we were before.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Harder You Laugh the Harder You Cry.

I remember my first real friend. She lived down the street and was a real spitfire. She was everything I wasn't but wanted to be. I saw in her things I admired and wanted for myself and I think that is why our friendship blossomed. She moved when we were 5 but I will always remember her. Although that friendship was primitive and simple it really held the basis for all friend based relationships to follow. I am one of those people that prefers quality friends over quantity. The few that I consider friends are important to me. I am drawn to people who I see things in that I admire. Things I aspire too. Investing yourself into someone else is one of the hardest most heart wrenching, soul fulfilling things that a person can do. Letting yourself be found out flaws and all is part of the friendship pact. Another part is accepting those faults but instead dwelling on those things that brought you together in the first place. Sometimes it is hard to move back to that primitive beginning but it often reminds you of what was important and what began the bond. Just like every relationship, friendship grows and changes through the years. Growing pains are hard but the end result is something that is bigger and stronger. Pain always causes tears and they do sting but remember the harder you cry together the harder you laugh together.