Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ask Not What Your Mother Can Do For You . . .

ask what you can do for your mother.

Yesterday morning, my son had a flag football game. We had to arrive an hour and 45 minutes early for practice and individual and team photos. I stood with the other mothers filling out forms and choosing portrait packages. All of the usual banter was going on . . . Do we put our son's photo on trading cards? Did you know they can put the photos on a fake magazine cover? I was lamenting the fact that my son had, that very morning, fallen at the park and scraped up the front of his nose. This is usually something that happens every portrait day. Another mother told me to have his photos retouched, but I said I wanted to "keep it real". Truth is, I probably wouldn't recognize my son with every scrape and bruise retouched.

We watched the boys line up and get their individual photos taken. My son knelt on one knee, football helmet in front of him, holding a football and smiling his gap-toothed smile with a big scrape on his nose. Classic. This moment would be forever preserved in time.

After individual photos, the boys had to wait around to have their team photo taken. I was supervising my son, and standing where I could see the other players have their individual photos taken. There is a set of identical twin boys on my son's team. Their Mom always looks frazzled. I can't imagine having twin seven-year-old boys. The twins' Mom was watching her boys have their photos taken. When the second twin was posing, I heard the Mom mumble something about his shoelace being untied. She yelled out to her son to tie it, but he didn't hear her. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the Mom dive onto the ground to tie the laces on her son's cleats just as the photographer snapped the photo. We all stood for a moment not quite believing that she did that. The photographer admonished her for ruining the photo, and she got up, brushed the dirt and grass off herself and muttered, "I didn't want the laces untied in the picture." One of the other mothers took her by the arm, and the rest of us gathered around her and showed our support. Poor thing. If I ever had any perfectionist tendencies, I gave them up years ago. It's just easier.

There are times in every mother's life when she wants to throw up her hands and give up. Preoccupied husbands, ungrateful kids, unending mind-numbing tasks . . . they take their toll. And in the end, whether they remember it or not, children have their mothers to thank for standing in endless lines to sign them up for swim/dance/sports/music lessons, driving them to all their activities, making sure they have everything they need for said activities, and giving them encouragement the whole time. And what do we get in return? Well-rounded, intelligent, confident, talented children, of course. And, if we're lucky and strive to make it happen, perfect photos will adorn the walls of our rooms in a nursing home one day. Photos of our children with every hair in place and every shoelace tied. Or not. I prefer to remember the missing teeth, the scrapes and scratches and hair that sticks up in the back. These imperfect days are precious and fleeting.

Here's a video for the twins' Mom and any mother who has at one time or another felt overwhelmed and wanted to throw up her hands and walk away from it all. If I could choose one person whose voice I would like to have, it would be Adele. There is something about this video that I love. She looks like a school girl, and then she sings effortlessly and beautifully with this incredible voice. Her mother must be very proud.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

If You're Vapid and You Know It, Clap Your Hands

Clap, clap.

I'm trying to pinpoint the exact moment in time when the minutia in my life became mountains.

A couple of days ago, I was wandering around my local Target store which is in the process of being remodeled to include a larger grocery section. Most everything has been relocated in the store, and I miss the layout that I knew like the back of my hand. I used to be able to go in that store, get what I needed, check out and be back in the car in about eight minutes flat - depending on the wait in the checkout line.

I wandered and wandered in the unfamiliar territory in search of kitty litter which I found directly across from the men's underwear. I guess they haven't completely finished moving things around and some merchandise is in a temporary location.

The longer I spent in the store, the more agitated I became. I ended up leaving the store and forgetting half of what I went there for because I was so confused by the whole experience. I stood in the checkout line lamenting that it had become such a bad day - all brought on by the Target remodel. And I wondered at what point did something so minor become so paramount in my mind.

I never did transition well. My teachers used to tell me that change is the only constant in life. And they were right about that. Well, change and my cooking disasters . . .

I remind myself of the three goldfish we have in an aquarium. I often stare at them and wonder if they are happy. They swim around, and mostly look for food. They have everything they need, water pump and food, all in a carefully decorated environment. They seem content. And then every three weeks or so, I come in and pull them out of the tank in a net and put them in a bucket while I clean the tank. They hardly swim in the bucket. Mostly they just look terrified until they are back in the safety of their familiar tank.

I need to come out of my fish tank and work on being a little less self-absorbed. I can't tell you how many times I have tried to teach my kids to "roll with it" when things go wrong. I often tell them "This doesn't have to ruin your day" when they are met with an obstacle on their road to happiness.

My life has changed so much in the last few years. Sometimes I feel like Dorothy in Oz who, while dreaming of a place where there isn't any trouble, just crash landed in an unfamiliar territory full of munchkins and wicked witches. Dorothy navigated her way past evil trees and flying monkeys and managed to hold onto her ruby slippers and help her friends too. She surrounded herself with her dog and her friends and never lost sight of her goal. But even Dorothy's goal was to get home where things were safe and familiar.

Note to self: Take things in stride. Come out of your "shell" more. Don't dwell on minutia. Don't let anything or anyone ruin your day. The power to do things is always within you. And, even though you need to get out and experience some wild and exciting things in life, there really is no place like home. And try not to blog when your thoughts are all disjointed and you ramble on and on and don't make sense. And don't ever lose your sense of humor.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Alone Again, Naturally

Today is the start of a brand new school year. And while I've looked forward to this day for about two and a half months now, I'm not feeling as jubilant as I thought I would. The peace and quiet I had craved almost seems deafening. And I can't remember all the things I felt needed to be done when the kids were in school and I would have all the time in the world to do them. It's just me and a snoring cat.

On the bright side, I'm going to save a lot of money by not drinking Kahlua for breakfast to get me through the day full of kids arguing and yelling and hitting each other.

Here's a little blast from the past. A song so sweet and sad that it remains in my memory from childhood. They don't make songs like this anymore. A gift from me to you on a beautiful late summer day that I will spend trying to cope with all the quietness.