Friday Letters to My Kids

 
 

Forever Young

Friday Letter to my Kids – July 17, 2015 –

Dear J, J. L, and L,

A month ago, consistently and often, well-meaning sales associates, grocery baggers, repairmen and strangers insisted on offering me their senior discounts. What a sweet gesture to want to help me save ten percent on my purchases and services. Unfortunately, I always walked away from such encounters deflated and more tired than I already felt. I didn’t think I looked all that old.

Then one day in less than four hours I was referred to as “young lady” a dozen times. I wasn’t sure how to take that either. I’m no spring chicken, so the reference felt a little odd. I should have accepted it as their way of being polite without making me feel old.

Surely there’s a balance between “senior discount” and “young lady”. I’ll let you know when I discover what it is.

Mom circa 1957

Mom circa 1957

Yesterday morning I spent some time with my mom, your Grandma M, looking at some of the many photo albums she’s compiled over the years. Next time you’re up her way you should ask her to show them to you. (They’re in the living room closet nearest to the front door on a shelf, if she forgets.)

One album my sister N had put together for them as a gift. That album had  photos of your Grandma and Grandpa as kids and as teenagers, as newlyweds and as young parents. I wanted to snap photos of all the photographs but restrained myself to just a couple.

Those pictures bore witness to the my mom as a clarinetist in her high school band and as a smartly coiffed, high-stepping majorette. She also competed in the first Miss Morgan beauty pageant with four other contestants. Ooo la la! I’ll bet  you didn’t know that about her.

Dad circa 1956?

Dad circa 1956?

We stumbled across some postcards with a 1947 postmark that my dad and his brother had painstakingly written to their mother (your great grandma M) who had apparently gone to Illinois to visit someone who’d had a baby. Grandpa’s handwriting improved drastically when he became an engineer and had to hand letter blueprints for the DOT. You’ve probably seen his distinctive penmanship, which could pass as a typesetting font.

Some of my favorite photos in the albums were of Mom and Dad’s courtship days. Such smiles! Such innocence! Such true love!

The photo albums sparked remembrances located mostly in the recesses of my brain, such as:

  • my Dad riding a tricycle with his knees on the back stand and his hands pedaling, quite a feat of dexterity for an adult
  • my Mom hanging sheets on the laundry line or holding my hand on a hike
  • my Dad riding motorcycles on mountain trails
  • peeking in on my parents when they hosted a card game night at our house, laughing raucously with their friends like they never quite laughed with us kids
  • Mom holding a newborn baby after each of my five younger siblings were born
  • Dad’s ear-piercing  whistle that we could hear from the bottomlands of the local park

They were quite a team, raising such a gaggle of offspring. Almost sixty years later, they depend on each other like never before. Dad tries to fill in the memory gaps and missing sequencing ability that Mom’s strokes have destroyed. He makes breakfast every morning for her and she provides background music on the piano throughout the day. She insists on her independence as much as life allows. He still teases Lulu the cat as if he were a sixteen year old. She still makes jokes and laughs at the funniest things. Dad still has a wanderlust and needs to go somewhere every day in the car, even if it’s just to town or the grocery store.

Despite what my eyes show me when I visit them, in my mind they will always be forever young,

They’ve seen a fair bit of the world, from Russia to Cancun and a lot in between, which for a couple of western kids born in the 1930’s says a lot about their willingness to try new things and step outside their comfort zones.

In my mind, my parents remain that young newlywed couple with a future laid out bright and wide before them. There’s no other way to think about it. Anything less is unfathomable; forever young and together forever.

It’s what I’d wish for each one of you. May you also be forever young.

All my love,

Mom

p.s. Here’s a cover version of that famous song by Bob Dylan. Listen and enjoy a wonderful song.

“Forever Young” by Bob Dylan

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

Categories: Family, Friday Letters to My Kids | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

Not a Cookie Cutter Holiday

Friday Letter to My Kids ~ May 8, 2015 ~

Dear J, J, L and L,

You know how I was always such a grouch about mother’s day? I’ve decided to give up that silly notion and move on, finally.

I don’t know about other women, but I feel like I came from the planet Venus. Not because I meet some arbitrary list of ideas that some author came up with, but because I’ve never met anyone else like me. There may be other Venusians out there, other Kami-like creatures, but I’ve yet to run into one.

What does that have to do with Mother’s Day? I suppose it’s that I’ve always felt a bit out-of-place and not in my element. I surely never felt like I fit any Mothering Mold. But I’ve come to believe that there isn’t a cookie cutter for Mothers.

Closest cookie cutter shape to a Mom that I could find.

Closest cookie cutter shape to a Mom that I could find.

Mothers take on the shape that they must to meet the needs of their children. At least, most of them do. (I’ve met a few who don’t.) I tried to shape myself to your needs, not consciously, but instinctively. Whether I was ready for the job or not when each one of you came along I molded myself to fit your little fuzzy head and squalling cry. I moved and shaped my days and years to do what I could to make your life a happy one.

Naturally I fell short in that effort simply because I’m a human. And in that shortfall I often felt I’d let you down somehow. Not that I could have done things any differently than I did. I think it’s just part of life that we disappoint those we most love in spite of our very best efforts.

And that’s where my head and heart sat every May when that greeting card angst-riddled holiday of Mother’s Day rolled around. Feeling that I didn’t deserve honor or accolades or chocolates or flowers. Silly, don’t you think, that I’d hold myself to some standard of perfection? I can see now how nonsensical that was.

But having some close calls in losing my mother the past year or two made me think more about mothering. I never felt like my Mom let me down or fell short. She gave me life. She shaped me. She answered my cries in the middle of the night, cleaned up my messes, worked hard at everything she did and somehow still kept loving me in spite of stupid and hurtful choices I made. Amazing!

And that made me think about how much I love the four of you, each in a different, but intensely personal way. I’m proud of each one of you. I became who I am because of your influence and shaping and needs. I’m blessed beyond words to be your mother.

No gifts are necessary. No cards or words or hugs, either. You are my gifts, my jewels, my crowning joy.

Thank you!

All my love forever,

Mom

~~~~~

"Bluebird of Happymess"

The Bluebird of Happymess

Categories: children, Family, Friday Letter to My Kids, Friday Letters, Friday Letters to My Kids, mother, motherhood, mothers, parenting | Tags: , , | 2 Comments
 
 

Are Your Edges Tucked in Neatly or Sprawling?

Friday Letter to my Kids – March 6, 2015 –

Dear J, J, L and L,

Last night your Dad told me I’m predictable. This floored me. Sure I like to have some stability in my life, some routine. I seem to function best when I can anticipate and plan. Aren’t most people that way?

And you four, of all people, know my life has been mostly anything but predictable. I’ve learned to be a chameleon, adapting to all the various hues life’s thrown at me. Sometimes, I’ve felt like one of those Color Race runners, smeared in so much color it’s tough to figure out who’s who. I’m flexible and easy-going. That’s not predictable, is it?

In homage to my perceived unpredictability and spontaneity I even changed my mini chalkboard to this quote recently:

This week's thought...

This week’s thought…

Compared to your Dad, I suppose,  I’m a brick of predictability, a Stonehenge-sized rock of boringness, an Easter Island statue of immovability.

People keep holding up these mirrors that show me I’m not who I think I am. It’s a little unnerving and discombobulating and confusing and annoying.

I am cheerful though, usually. I at least try to maintain cheerfulness amid my staunchly dry toast without butter demeanor. Sitting here at my freshly cleaned up desk and pristine “writing room/guest bedroom” I look at my bulletin board and read these thoughts which daily remind me of my wish to be contagiously happy and sunshiny.

See, cheery thoughts that I look at multiple times a day. I might be predictable, but at least I’m smiling.

Why do I see being predictable as something negative? I’m not sure your Dad meant it as a negative. He probably said it as a fact, something with no value judgment attached at all.

There’s much to be said for predictability, stability and stick-to-it-iveness. It’s pretty much what keeps the world going forward. But then, so to, the unpredictable, unstable, outside-the-box-thinkers, who never want to color inside the lines or conform to anything. That’s where innovation and invention lives and produces. Mostly, anyway.

This saying also hangs within view from my desk:

photo 3-5 copy 11

A good idea.

It should probably be in Dad’s office and not mine. He has bigger dreams than I have. Mine are tiny and tentative and his are the epic kind that can change the world given a foothold. Or I could make one for each of you, since you’re young when dreams have such promise and possibility.

I guess I’ve always seen myself as a creative thinker. But, really, I’m a schlumpy, by the clock kind of person. I like to be on time or early. I like to have things to look forward to. I like a schedule and a plan. Even if I’m not great at following through with those plans. I need structure.

Where each of you fit on that spectrum, I’m not certain.  I know I’m wowed by what you accomplish and by how fearlessly you face forward. As always, I’m amazed that you’re my kids. I think you’re more like your Dad than like me. And that’s a good thing. A very good thing.

Really, you’re each simply a good mix of both your Dad and me and a bunch of stuff that’s uniquely your own. It’s fun watching you be you. Not a one of you has been predictable yet.

I sure love you!

Mom

~~~~~

“In fiction: we find the predictable boring. In real life: we find the unpredictable terrifying.” ~Mokokoma Mokhonoana

Categories: Friday Letters, Friday Letters to My Kids | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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