Friday Letters

 
 

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

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What A Card!

Friday Letter to My Kids – February 27, 2015 –

Dear J, J, L and L,

So I’ve been slowly sorting through some of those boxes of papers I told you about. It’s like watching a glacier move. Oy vey!

But I’ve run across some real gems among the odd pieces of paper I can’t for the life of me figure out why I still have in my possession. Old church bulletins, receipts from ten years ago, to do lists with half the items scratched off, envelopes with nothing in them, bills from forever ago. Sadly there have even been some grocery ads in the piles.

I shake my head at myself.

But that’s beside the point. The point today is I found treasures among the flotsam!

I’m talking about treasures like this card from Big L. It so perfectly captures the essence of our family life then and now.

Boy, that's an understatement!

Boy, that’s an understatement!

What it says inside is even more priceless.

Which reminded me of other cards you all have gifted Dad and I over the years. Like this one on Dad’s desk, which gets funnier considering the non-scruffy awesome dude Little J ended up with.

Princess Leia rocks!

Princess Leia rocks!

And this one from just last year that I seriously want to frame. Sparkly orange and practically daring me to feel happy, its message has brightened the kitchen and my days for a while now.

Bringing it!

Bringing it!

And this reminder from Little L that in spite of all the weirdness of life we should still dance, love, sing and live with abandon and joy.

Good advice!

Good advice!

I think this card from Big J to Dad captures what family life often felt like for each of you, especially as we moved around so much and finances were rollercoasterish.

Close to the truth, sort of.

Close to the truth, sort of.

Closer, still.

Closer, still.

Getting this postcard in the mail from Switzerland made my day, as did seeing it again recently! I loved that you had that chance, Little J, to explore Europe with nothing but a backpack, a friend and courage. That you made that dream happen in real life, not just once, but twice, makes it even better!

Aw…Switzerland!

Aw…Switzerland!

I know I can’t keep every greeting card from every celebration. But there’s definitely some worth saving. I’m thinking I need a binder just for the best of those cards. They capture funny moments and sweet reminders. You never know when a card you pick out will brighten someone’s day beyond the day it’s meant for. These sure have added light to mine.

You each bring light to my life regularly, often through some remembrance of a time with one of you, a conversation, an event, jumps to the front of my thoughts and briefly I relive the joy, the angst, the laughter, the strangeness, the us of that moment. It gives today perspective and depth and light. You each have, and still do, bring me joy. Exponential joy!! Thank you for that. I’m pretty sure no card exists that expresses quite what I feel toward the four of you.

I look forward to all the future moments we share, whether in person, or through a card, an email, text, Facebook, private message, phone call or Skype. I love seeing your lives opening out and becoming what they are.

All my love,

Mom

~~~~~

Love from Mom

Love from Mom

“What a card” = a phrase meaning an amusing or eccentric person

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Curing my Paper Addiction

Friday Letter to my Kids ~ 2/13/15 ~

Dear J, J, L and L,

photo 1-6 copy 11My favorite three-year old gifted me these origami cranes a while ago. No, she’s not an origami master, but her mother’s pretty handy in all things crafty. They’ve got a few of these hanging around at their house. Using paper that’s been previously written on adds value to the pieces. I can make out a few words but would have to completely dismantle the crane to read what it actually says. That’s kind of where origami began, as a way of sending a message where the reader would know if it had been read because the folding sequence would be out of whack.

I love paper. Notebooks, book books, notecards, drawings, sticky notes, envelopes. (Not so much a fan of mail though, bills, advertisements, newspapers.) You probably knew that.

I’ve always liked the idea of handcrafted papers, I love their textures and the uniqueness of each page. It’s as if the blank paper is already art and whatever you write on them enhances or is enhanced by the medium it’s written on.

Did you know paper once was a very rare commodity? I learned that recently. Kind of made me want to hoard a few notebooks.

Oh, wait. I already have a paper stash. Actually more like a used paper warehouse. But you know that. You lived with it all your growing up years. And it’s not really a stash, it’s more of a paper monster.

Not sure if this is the paper monster or me afraid of the thing.

Not sure if this is the paper monster or me afraid of the thing.

I’m slowly getting it tamed. Pulling such a beast into a submissive state takes willpower and courage and a few other gifts I’m rather sketchy on.

Several weeks ago I finally cleared my desk. By clearing I mean that I took everything off the desk and made a ginormous pile behind me to sort through. I’m hoping most of it ends up in the recycle bin. A few too many papers have migrated back to the desk already, in no particular order. And a smaller “to be sorted” pile emerged from the first gigantic “to be sorted” pile.

Your dad says he can see progress. He’s so kind to me. I’m not so sure there’s any improvement.

Also, in the garage, I plan condense a shelf of ten boxes of random papers into one or two file boxes of organized documents, and then fill the recycle bin to the top two or three times. I think I have twenty years worth of Christmas cards among those boxes. Pretty certain I don’t need them all.

Do you ever wonder if a hundred years from now paper documents will appear on Antique Roadshow as something stunningly rare and worth zillions. If future archeologists uncover my garage or my office they’d feel like they found the mother lode of paper.

Here’s the thing, which probably sounds like justification or excuses to you, but it’s the truth. Bunches of those papers have this magical power over me because they’re from one of you. I could probably part just fine with the school papers and class assignments. But the notes you’ve written to me or your dad, the pictures you drew, those snippets of “who you were” need organizing and special care. Does that sound dumb? I’m sure it sounds so stupid.

Simply letting all those papers go into the recycle bin somehow feels as if I’m letting parts of you slip through my fingers. Nonsense, yes, I know that.

If I could approach the task as a museum curator perhaps I could finally succeed in whittling away the amount of papers I have squirreled away.

cu·rate
ˌkyo͝oˈrāt  verb
  • select, organize, and look after the items in (a collection or exhibition)
  • select the performers or performances that will feature in (an arts event or program).
  • select, organize, and present (content, information, etc.), typically using professional or expert knowledge

Perhaps, with that sort of thinking I could manage the task of taming the paper monster. Maybe my kid museum could be one binder per child. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

I’d classify my interaction with paper as a love/hate relationship. As I attempt to tame the monstrous paper fiend that hides in the garage (and the smaller but equally tenacious paper boogie man in my office) I hope to find some balance and health in the process.

Photo By Ron whisky (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

My paper monster could someday look just like this, ya think? Photo By Ron whisky (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I could whip that paper monster into shape until it’s a warm, fuzzy, unthreatening thing in my life.
It could happen.
I think I’ll hang the cranes over my desk as a message and a symbolic reminder that I’m a curator and not a hoarder. Wish me luck!
Hugs and Love to you each,
Mom

 ~~~*~~~

 

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Friday Letter to My Kids: I Hope You Laugh

Dear J, J, L and L,

You know that poster that hangs in the guest bathroom? The one with all the little bits of wisdom to make for a happier life like “Call your Mom,” and “Sing in the Shower”? Life’s Little Instructions. Yup, that one.

I think I’d add a few of my own.

See I can make a meme, just not very well.

I could do it…

  • Laugh some every day

  • Give at least one hug daily

  • Cry like you mean it, don’t hold back

  • Write it down so you’ll remember

  • Naps are okay, encouraged even

  • Grow something

  • Get outside and do something

  • Remember childhood Happies

  • Make new Happies

  • Have some quiet time daily

  • Get rowdy at least twice a month

  • Dance

  • Sing

  • Crank those tunes

  • Ditch the to-do list sometimes

  • Put yourself in time-out and enjoy it

  • Sleep somewhere odd

  • Be a tourist in the state you live

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help

  • Smile more than not

  • Wink at little kids

  • Roll down a grassy hill when you can

     

That’s all stuff I ought to remind myself of, often. Maybe I can get your dad to play along with some of them. Not sure I can picture him rolling down a hill, unless it’s unintentional while skiing. Ouch.

And of course, everyone has their own definition of rowdy. Let’s just all keep it legal. (Wink.)

I hope you laugh! And sing and dance and love life!

 

Love you tons,

Mom

 

p.s. I could make this into a cute meme if I wanted to spend the time and understood computers better, but I don’t. So here’s a drawing I made of myself instead. Way faster than creating a meme.

photo-25 copy 23

Sending lots of love!

p.p.s. It seems like a long list. Probably because it is. If I thought about it for a few days I could narrow it down some. But, it’s Friday and I wanted to get this letter out to you today. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Still Kami: Bringing Me Back to Myself

Geese making a noisy run for it.

Geese making a noisy run for it.

Friday Letter to my Kids – January 16, 2015

Dear J, J, L and L,

I read this book about five years back called “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova about a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s. (It’s coming out as a movie soon, but of course, the book is better.) Since then, and since my Mom’s stroke, I’ve thought about getting older and memory loss a whole bunch.

Frost lace on a December morning.

Frost lace edging the leaves on a December morning.

Some days I already feel ancient and ready to call it a life. I never dreamed that by this age I’d feel old already. Creaky, slow to get going in the mornings, aches, pains. Some days thinking about living another twenty, thirty or forty years just about puts me over the edge. I know this is tough for you to grasp since you’re all still really young regardless of how old or mature you might feel.

Anyway, the real point I want to get to is this. If I start to forget stuff, or get a bit of dementia, or if I just need lots of physical care, could you please make sure I get my daily fix?

I know for some people that’s a morning cup of coffee, or a diet coke, or some chocolate, or maybe a certain news program, a half hour of Jeopardy, a glass of wine, a good laugh, prayer, meditation or a zillion other possibilities.

Mid-january leaves carpeting the pathway.

Mid-january leaves carpeting the pathway.

For me, my daily fix comes in the form of nature. When I start to forget who I am a walk at the Riparian always brings me back to myself. If I can’t fit in a walk then just sitting on the porch swing can kickstart the old psyche. Even as a kid in midwinter with the temps hovering at minus ten, I’d find a way to get my daily dose of sunshine, usually curled into the shape of the sunlight coming through a window.

If you have to put me in a nursing home or care center it’d be best if they had a sunroom, or a little garden. If, heaven forbid, I have to live in an apartment I’d really really really need a patio or porch and some plants with a hummingbird feeder and maybe even a bird feeder.

Indoor plants don’t cut it. I always manage to kill them with kindness and attention, or inattention, I’m never sure which.

What is it about a body of water that's so soothing?

What is it about a body of water that’s so soothing?

A daily walk or stroll will keep me from tipping the scale from sanity to insanity, even as my legs and eyesight and mental capacity all wither away.

Yup, I count nature as more important than books, if you can believe it. Of course, I wouldn’t say no to an audio book or large print novel to read while I sit outside in the shade or the sun.

That’s all for today, I guess.

Oh, except, I hope you know what your daily fix is. What’s that one thing that gives you daily energy, fills your morning bucket, floats your twenty-four hour boat or keeps you moving forward every day? If you don’t know I hope you find it soon and then make sure it happens regularly. It can help keep you cheerful even in tough times.

Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. Nature isn’t all that little, but a tiny bit of it every day keeps me steady and strong.

Loving you in a big way,

Mom

Yesterday's sunset at the Riparian.

Yesterday’s sunset at the Riparian.

 

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North by Northwest, Then East Toward the Sunny Side

Friday Letter to my Kids – January 9, 2015

Dear J, J, L and L,

We moved to the Northwest when only two of you had joined the family. What an adventure for all of us. That many years ago cell phones didn’t really exist yet. Surprisingly, we didn’t experience any car problems, which if you recall our travel history, probably made it to the record books. Driving that far with two little kids on my own (your Dad was already working and had found us a place to live) helped me feel like a mini-rockstar.

Happiness!

Happiness!

I’ll never forget when we pulled up to the local playground to wait for your Dad to bring keys to the new apartment. You both hopped out of the car, relieved to finally escape and stretch your legs. Little J immediately walked over to a boy on the monkey bars and said, “We just moved here. Will you be my friend?”

That floored me. What a direct and honest thing to say. Luckily, four year olds aren’t all tangled up in social customs and nonsense. They just say what they think, do what they feel, go with the mood.

Both of you made friends with kids of all ages when we lived in that first apartment, which helped me get to know the adults associated with those kids. You made the big change to a really new place so much easier. (As a side note, do you remember picking wild blackberries in the woods nearby? I think I might still have a scar or two.)

We added Big L to the family while we lived there. Then we moved a couple of years later, forty miles north. I loved that restaurant we went to that had the little train that ran on tracks suspended from the ceiling. They served this appetizer called an onion loaf. Basically fried onion rings packed into a bread loaf shape. But my tastebuds sidetrack us here.

We still have a cassette tape (which I should transfer to digital) of a typical morning there. For some reason there’s a cat in the house, although we didn’t own one, must have been a neighbor’s. I love hearing your voices, our discussion about needing lunches packed or buying lunches that day. Big L saying “stupid cat,” over and over again. And figuring out who was walking or riding with who. I think it might’ve been raining (ha, like that’s a wild guess for up there, huh?). Ah, good times.

  • Big L discovered knots when we lived there. She used to disappear into my closet and tie all the shoes together, which made getting ready to go somewhere an interesting exercise.
  • Big J played Lego’s every single day with, what was his name? And took shortcuts through the  golf course to visit your friend whose Dad worked for Nike.
  • Little J fell in love with the movie “Beaches” and ate candy bars and drank Cokes every afternoon with her best friend Sara.

I had a friend there too. I don’t remember her name. Maybe if I dug out an old journal I’d find it, but I don’t think I want to remember a name. We weren’t friends all that long. One day, out of the blue for me, she basically said,”I can’t be friends with you anymore. I’m trying really hard to be more optimistic and positive and you’re always so negative.”

Talk about a punch to the gut.

Even now I kind of feel this wave of nausea thinking about it.

You know how you sometimes walk along somewhere and all of a sudden you see yourself in an unexpected mirror? It throws you off balance a little. I know I carry around this picture in my head of how I sound and look. But then when I see the real me in a photo or a mirror they don’t match up. What my friend said was like a mirror thrown in front of me.

I think we need those unexpected mental views of ourselves that honest outsiders can provide. I try to be open to their perspective.

I had no idea I was such a downer until she said that. I thought one of the things friends did was share honest thoughts and feelings, even the negatives. Maybe I over shared. Probably she hit the bullseye there. Back in those days I probably rode the negative train, most of the time.

I wish I could say I changed immediately. More than likely I got defensive. More than likely I moped. More than likely I didn’t try to make friends again for a while.

In fact, I’m thinking I probably didn’t really change for the better until Oklahoma a year after Little L joined our gang. Do the math there. That’s a long time as a dweeby, self-absorbed, cloudy skies sort of person.

Sunny is good.

Sunny is good.

I could hope that there’s some chemical equation that makes positive ions/attitudes weigh more than negative ones and that things have balanced out. I think they might not have. For me it’s a nearly constant struggle to “keep on the sunny side of life.” (<= click to hear the song)

What does any of this have to do with how this letter started out?

You all have weathered change and challenge with such bravery and grace. You must have arrived here preprogrammed with awesome genes. You step up, state the facts and take action. Look at you!

When I grow up I want to be like you: open and straightforward with what I think, willing to try new things, brave enough to ask for what I want and need, creatively finding ways around obstacles and difficulties. And optimistic! Yup, you each see life as a bright, good thing.

Thanks for the great examples you are to me. I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to have worked the other way around. At least that’s probably what the parenting books all say.

This I know for certain. I’m positive that I love you.

Always,

Mom

photofy copy 4

~~~

“What day is it?”
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.

~ A.A. Milne

 

Categories: Friday Letters, Happiness | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Secret Code Words of Sanity

Dear J, J, L and L,

It’s Friday. Time for another letter to the four of you. And I’m blank as a chalkboard on a Saturday morning. Do they even use chalkboards anymore, except as memes on Facebook and for coffee shop signs?

Oh, wait. I just thought of something.

There’s a few sayings or specific words we share as a family or at least as certain family members that almost always make my face bust open into a smile.

Not the actual hairbrush...

Not the actual hairbrush…

For instance:

Watch out for the hairbrush!

Tan Van.

The Grasshopper.

It’s a sign!

Tight!

Israel and Palestine.

Praying mantis.

Fabulous.

It makes you feel alive.

I’m FINE.

Is everyone in the car?

Apples to Apples, lots of laughs.

Apples to Apples, lots of laughs.

Inventory.

Remember the beanie baby.

Peace on earth, good will toward siblings.

It’s either men or a cheap motel.

This is the life.

Organize the garage.

Keep your hands and feet inside the ride…

And probably a couple dozen others you could add.

Not one of these phrases or words mean the same thing to other people that they mean to us. And I love that. They’re like code words that unlock secret doors of laughter.

No restrictions.

No restrictions.

They evoke, at times, noteworthy stories of endurance, hilarious memories and weird happenings that we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies. Some of them serve as coping mechanisms to keep insanity at a safe distance. All of them define our weird sense of humor and unique family chemistry.

I like us. I mean I really, really like us.

I like our family history, as painful, silly, nonsensical, weird and tragic as it occasionally turned out. If I wrote it out as a novel, no one would believe it. You had to live it to see how really strange a group we were/are.

And yet, if you look around you, and listen to a few people on occasion (or watch any reality TV at all) we have the most normal, boring, typical family on the block. Seriously.

And that’s a little frightening, don’t you think?

If we’re normal, is there any hope for the rest of the world?

I hope so.

I hope other families laugh as much as we tried to. I hope other families have their inside jokes and silly pranks or strange movie quotes. I know one family who has a plaque by the front door that reads, “Have fun storming the castle.” That’s a good sign…

I hope you have your own secret code words and phrases that no one else gets. If you do, you’ll be just fine.

Remember, only you can prevent forest fires.

I love you tons!

Mom

~~~~~

Remember...

Remember…

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Santa’s Staff Reorganized this Year

Friday Letter to my Kids: December 12, 2014 ~

Dear J, J, L and L,

'Tis the Season!

‘Tis the Season!

One of the hardest things in life is giving up something you love. You’ll each have to or have had to face this in one way or another. I think this year is my big year for having to finally let go.

I tried about five or six years ago, but found out, with only hours to spare, that you’d all be disappointed if I let go of this one. How could I let my kids down? Sure, you were all in your late teens and twenties then, but reality doesn’t always want recognition.

“What they heck is she talking about?” I can hear you thinking already. It’s even difficult for me to talk about it. But I can do this. Here and now.

As you’ve known for some time now, I’m one of Santa’s helpers in this part of the country. He’s kept me busy over the years. It looks like last year was my final year. I had hoped for one more chance to strut my stuff at my speciality, but Santa had other ideas and didn’t really let me know I wasn’t officially on the team until a month or so ago. I suspected something like this, but have been in denial.

I loved my position as Chief Stocking Acquisition and Surprise Fulfillment Coördinator – CSASFC. I made it a personal quest for the entire year to locate some unexpected small trinkets and extra delicious treats for plumping out those stockings.

That one year where I tried the new and improved smaller stockings definitely backfired. I nearly lost my position over that one. But contrition won out and Santa kept me on, albeit with a slight cut in pay and no bonus that year. Sigh. Disappointment abounded, that’s for certain. The next year more than made up for it, at least I hope so.

Honestly, Santa probably should have let me go years ago, but I begged and pleaded. Made a great case for how very much-needed I thought I was. He has a tender heart and couldn’t break mine, so he let me hang on these past few years when the job should have passed on to younger associates. What a good guy!

I’ll be fine. Really.

See's, a day's dosage.

See’s, a day’s dosage.

Not sure I can bring myself to hang up a stocking for your Dad and I this year, since, as you now know, part of my job also included filling those stockings. But Santa assured me that I would weather this first year of retirement just fine. He recommended extra doses of hot chocolate, easy on the hazelnut creamer, heavy on the peppermint. So far, that’s helped quite a bit. I may have to resort to adding a prescription grade of chocolate orange sticks to the mix though. And I have a gift card from See’s, (thanks to the Valentine bunny, or is that Easter cupid?) Whatever. I can go with that good stuff if I have to. I’ve heard great things about Lindor Truffles too, but I’ll only resort to those if all else fails.

Anyway, I’m sorry to be the bearer of sad news. You probably saw this coming long before I did. Nothing sadder than an aging baseball player or arthritic basketball star pretending that they’re still at the top of their game. Nothing sadder except a Santa’s helper who won’t let go of the job when retirement age has come and gone.

You all probably have plenty to do with your own Santa assignments this year, so I’ll keep this short.

All I have left to say is this. It’s been a pleasure and a delight working with Santa all these years. I will miss this job, but I’ll probably get over it. Whatever shape your own Santa responsibilities take, just know this: the years fly by and before your know it you’re reluctantly passing the baton on to your successor. Enjoy every frazzled minute of it!

I’m gonna go bake up some sugar cookies and lick frosting from my fingers, right after I make a batch of divinity and a double batch of toffee. I’ll be just fine.

Merry Christmas!

Lots of love,

Mom

~~~~~

photo-25 copy 16

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” ~ Buddy

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Learning to Share Again and Again

Friday Letter to my Kids – Nov 28, 2014

Dear J, J, L and L,

Your Dad and I just spent the quietest Thanksgiving Day ever. Just the two of us, here at home, no big dinner, no outings, no football. I don’t say that with any negativity whatsoever! No, I actually really enjoyed it. We slept in. I wrote some, made homemade caramels, listened to an audio book, went on an evening walk, put up the outside Christmas lights with your Dad and generally enjoyed a slow day sitting in my porch swing every chance I got.

By Rennett Stowe from USA (Walking in Yosemite  Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Rennett Stowe from USA (Walking in Yosemite Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

All that was okay because we had our Thanksgiving Dinner/Day last Friday with little J and family in town for a visit. The day felt every single bit like all of our other Thanksgiving days. I spent the day before baking more pies than we can eat. I planned out a schedule for getting all the food cooked and hot at the same time. Littles ran around and fussed and napped. We hung out and talked and reminisced and laughed and snacked until the food finally, finally, finally was ready for the table.

With all that perfection six days early, we didn’t need some imitation version with just the two of us, or some random group of people. I felt such immense gratitude that day that it’s carried me through an entire week.

My only regret found purchase on the niggling fact of little L’s absence. We should have Skyped with you. But I worried it might make you feel a little sad to not be part of things. I should have done it anyway.

It’s part of the sharing thing I seem to have to keep learning, I suppose.

You all used to feel like mine, all mine. I didn’t have to share you with anyone. Which I really liked. But then each of you fell in love, got whisked away by it and began your own families. Which I always dreamed you’d do.

I find it ironic that what we really want for someone often carries with it a kind of backwash of sorrow.

I love that you’re each so loved and so in love. That some of you have started sharing that love with little ones of your own makes my life exponentially grander, brighter and so joyous I can hardly contain it. Nothing makes a parent happier than to see their children truly happy.

Part of that happiness means I have to share you with that person you fell in love with. And, even more so, I get to share you with your beloved’s family. In fact, you became part of their family as much as you’re part of ours.

That all means sharing you for holidays, without being insistent or demanding or childish about where you choose to spend that time. I accept whatever arrangements your life requires because of love. But my acceptance doesn’t make me miss you less, or make all our shared times from the past any less valued.

Apparently, that’s the way it’s all supposed to happen.

This photo is part of National Photo Company Collection (Library of Congress)

This photo is part of National Photo Company Collection (Library of Congress)

We start out learning to share our toys, our dolls or dump trucks, moving on to sharing a bedroom and clothes and parental love with siblings. As we grow we learn the hard lessons of sharing among friends and that girl boy messiness. We learn to share our time, our means, our dreams. We share what gifts we came with and those gifts we’ve learned so we can see joy on others faces. Hopefully the learning curve of sharing lets us give within a marriage sufficient to meld two souls into something stunning. And then, after raising a family with all its requisite sharing, you think you’re done, you’ve shared enough. But the sharing goes on as you give away those precious ones to a life separate from your own.

I never would have guessed at the abundance that comes from sharing. Even coming from what often seems like almost nothing, sharing happens and leaves in its place an exquisite gift.

Yes. I miss you when you aren’t here for holidays, or family dinners, or any of the other whatevers. But knowing that you’re happy makes all the difference. Know that I’m happy even in the missing of you.

I hope you find the holiday season extra bright this year.

All my love,

Mom

~~~~~

 “Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste.” ~Charlotte Bronte

Categories: Friday Letters | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Not Giving Up On Us: The Middle of A Strange Love Story

Friday letter to My Kids – 11/21/14

Dear J, J, L and L,

Remember the New Mexico camping misadventure? (Okay, I suppose little L wouldn’t remember since she was still in utero then, but you’ve heard the tale.) I’ve concluded that New Mexico, from what little I recall of it, makes Arizona deserts seem like lush tropical rainforests in comparison. Remember the windblown rock covered weird ramada reservoir campground we stayed at? Remember the scrambled egg in the dirt fiasco? Well guess what? I found a photo of those very eggs.

Trying again.

Trying again.

I’m only sorry there’s no video or audio to include. The dialogue and sound effects of cursing, tears, yelling and incessant forty-mile an hour winds would add so much to the scene. The lesson I learned? Don’t use lightweight backpacking equipment when the winds exceed most speed limits. Oh. And never, ever, no never, go camping in New Mexico.

That’s the only time I remember a camp breakfast going completely south. Normally, your Dad produced cuisine worthy of kings on that tiny burner. He always managed to keep all the food warm when cooking over a fire, too. He’s got some skill on the grill!

Another talent your Dad possesses, quite frankly, probably acted as the hook that pulled me in initially. The way he could spin me around on the dance floor, ultra-klutz that I am, left me feeling graceful and dizzy. I was giddy with the high he got me on swirling, swinging, and moving that night. (If guys knew the real way to a girl’s heart was on the dance floor, really dancing, they’d be lining up to take lessons. But they’re slow to learn this one important detail.)

Each of you girls have enjoyed Dad and Daughter dates, with that same thrill of being led around a dance floor, feeling every bit like a princess. Not too many Dad’s can do that, so count yourselves extra blessed for those experiences.

Of course there was that one time he wasn’t so graceful and debonair. I came home to a story about a failed grand j’ete over the couch. That horrid bruised toe left him limping for weeks afterwards. Luckily he laughs about it now.

To look at him you’d never guess at his wry sense of humor. He loves to laugh. That’s something he’s refined over the years. I think it’s one of the good ways I influenced him. I certainly gave him plenty to laugh about. And cry about. But then, the reverse proves true as well. We make interesting music together.

Your Dad’s piano playing, I hope, holds a sweet place in your heart. Beethoven’s Fur Elise always reminds me of him since it’s a song he played often over the years. And his version of Mason Williams’ Classical Gas still lights up the house with energy and fun. Just a couple of months ago two of my favorite little people danced up a storm while your Dad rocked the piano with some fun tunes.

His love of music drew me in when we first got to know each other. I’d never met anyone who preferred classical music to rock or pop. That placed him high on my list of classy guys. Imagine my surprise when I found out he liked The Moody Blues. Once I learned more about that group and their classical beginnings I understood his selection.

One of our backpacking adventures in North Carolina, I think.

One of our backpacking adventures in North Carolina, I think.

Your Dad mellowed in some big ways over the years. A little less perfectionistic, more flexible and way more fun. I like to think I influenced him in those good ways, but I’m afraid I wasn’t always good for him. The guy I met in college never cursed, that’s for sure. But then, the guy I met wouldn’t have gone camping or rock climbing either. So I suppose it balances out some.

We’re still a major work in progress, your Dad and I.  And that’s okay. At least the work still happens. I mostly credit your Dad with the fact that we’ve stuck it out. You know that Jason Mraz song, “I Won’t Give Up”? Yup, that one. It caught me by surprise when I heard it. Why? Because it sounded like something the two of us might say to each other if we were poetic and musical. We’re an odd team sometimes, polar opposites I often think, but we keep plugging away together anyway.

He’s a good, honest, kind, generous man. I’m a lucky woman.

Here’s a little secret I’ll let you in on. Each of you started out light years ahead of us in your own marriages, which means I have high expectations of marital bliss for you and your sweethearts. I envy that in you. I know you’ll hold on tight and enjoy the ride when it’s good, just as I know that you’ll make the best of things when the road’s scary and hard.

I just wanted you to know this one thing for certain because you saw it in writing: I love your Dad.

Yup, dirty scrambled eggs and all, I love that guy.

 

With love,

Mom

*~~~*~~~*

This is a link to that Jason Mraz tune I mentioned. It’s not the studio release version, but a pre-release of the song done in the UK. Just him and a couple of backup singers and a box. Yes, a box.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturevideo/musicvideo/live-music-sessions/10938389/Jason-Mraz-performs-I-Wont-Give-Up-music-session.html

Or, you can click on this one. But I think the video gives the song a different flavor and feel. So, close your eyes and listen. How about that?

 

Categories: Family, Friday Letters | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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