Posts Tagged With: Friday Letters to my Kids

Friday Letter: The Traffic and Song that Never Ends

Dear J, J, L and L,

Finger puppets might save your sanity.

It all started with Lambchop, although I don’t remember when he began riding along with us in the car. I just know that one day we found ourselves sitting in traffic amongst a zillion other cars going nowhere and getting there at five miles per hour. More than likely, two of you, (guess which two) were arguing or whining in the back seat. No doubt the radio played nothing but the Macarena or advertisements. And most likely the AC failed in its efforts to cool our car just as summer arrived.

Whatever the circumstances, I remember putting Lambchop the finger puppet on my left hand, and letting him wildly sing his signature song whilst dancing out the window.

“This is the song that never ends…it just goes on and on my friend…somebody started singing it not knowing what it was… and they’ll continue singing it forever just because this is the song that never ends…”

Here’s a reminder if you’ve forgotten that ditty:

The Song That Never Ends

One of you in the back half of the car probably slunk lower in your seat or said something profound like, “Mooooooooom!!! Stoooooooop!” or may be not. Maybe you laughed. Maybe someone in a car behind or beside us laughed.

Then Lambchop changed the words. “This is the traffic that never ends…it just goes on and on my friend…somebody started driving once not knowing where they were…and they’ll continue driving now forever just because this is the traffic that never ends…

Lambchop was a hit. I laughed. Ya’ll laughed. Tension dispelled, at least momentarily.

From then on I was on a quest for other finger puppets, which it turned out, were rare and hard to find. (Pre-Amazon and Google, y’know.)

FullSizeRender-3 copy 2

Moose, the finger puppet. Who could resist this smile?

This guy, Moose, joined our car late in the game. He liked to sing “We wish you a merry Christmoose,” if memory serves me correctly.

There may have been others, but some of our more traumatic years seem to reside in a foggy region of my brain that I’m unable, or unwilling, to access. But Lambchop, for sure, spent a ton of time on the dashboard, reminding us of the threat or the possibility of performances while stuck in traffic.

Now the most traffic I encounter happens while trying to cross Greenfield road on my bike. And of course, your father doesn’t appreciate the finely honed skills of finger puppet singing. So Lambchop now lives in the closet with all the other stuffed animals. I found Moose covered in dust next to a certain restaurant gift card on my dresser.

If you remember the names or songs of any of our other sweet car companions, remind me. Good times ought not be forgotten. In fact, perhaps they ought to experience a comeback.

Hey, whatever it takes to maintain your sanity in traffic seems like a great idea.

May all your roads lack multiple four-way stops and frequent construction zones. And may you laugh daily and often.

Happy driving!

Love ya tons,

Mom

Categories: children, Family, Friday Letter to My Kids, Friday Letters, Fun, Traffic | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

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
 
 

One of the Coolest Kids I’ve Ever Known

Friday Letters to My Kids – March 13, 2015 –

Dear J, J, L and L,

One of the coolest kids I’ve ever known showed up in my house the other day. Actually, it was a photo of him.

In it he’s about six or seven years old. A first grader I would guess, or maybe the summer before second grade. He’s got a great set of wheels, complete with hand brakes. The Northwest sun reflects off one of his slightly chubby cheeks, which he inherited from his Mom’s side of the family.

Is this cool, or what?

Is this cool, or what?

He’s smiling, but just barely. I’m not sure if the camera simply captured him before he reached full grin or if he was going for a certain look.

He’s got a James Dean confidence in his stance, on his face, in the way he rests his hand on the bike. And, this important detail, he ain’t wearing no sissy helmet.

Not that the little guy on the right is a sissy.  He probably went on to rock the quarterback spot of his High School football team in Gig Harbor.  I liked his family. Nice people, salt of the earth people. I feel bad we lost touch with them.

Big J here, on the left, loved riding that bike. A year later he got a Joe Cool skateboard because, frankly, I’ve always thought of him as a Joe Cool. Suave, relaxed, charismatic, able to master any skill he set his mind to.

He’s still that way. Except the bike is way flashier and a helmet would not be a sissy thing at all, not at those speeds. And he has a hot blond who rides on the back with him. He can also do anything. At least, I think he can. Change out an engine on a car? Why not? Design, engineer and build a custom part for his ride? Easy. Make a computer do whatever the heck he wants it to? Cake. Need any kind of repair in the house done?? He’s got it handled. No problem.

On top of such coolness he’s a nice guy, too. He’s one of the first to stop and help push a car to the side of the road if they stall out in an intersection, or do a gas run for a car on empty. He’ll go out of his way to help a friend or a member of his family, even if it means missing out on sleep or giving up something he wants. How cool is that?

You might not be able to tell from this picture, but he’s got a bit of a teasing streak and loves to laugh, too.

This kid shows up at my house on a pretty regular basis, live and in person. Am I lucky or what? He’s still just as awesome as this picture shows.

I sure do love this kid.

Love,

Mom

~~~~~

“Dream as if you will live forever; Live as if you will die today.” ~ James Dean

Categories: Friday Letter to My Kids, Friday Letters | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

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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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…

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

What Ghosts Really Long For

Friday Letter to My Kids – 9/26/14

Dear J, J, L and L,

They don't make them this tall or out of metal anymore.

They don’t make them this tall or out of metal anymore.

When telling stories or when remembering the past, the spectacular, fabulous, extraordinary and unusual stand out the most. Those stories get told over and over, those memories revisited again and again. If I’m not careful it’s easy to believe those out of the norm things represent the norm.

Really though, the normal, everyday stuff of life doesn’t usually get woven into a story we tell our kids or friends. The daily waxing and waning of life rarely gets a mention when the memories surface.

I wonder if some of the most precious of daily moments end up lost in the excitement of the rare odd encounters. I hope not. I came across this quote and let myself wonder about it for a while:

“It occurred to me that if I were a ghost, this ambiance was what I’d miss most: the ordinary, day-to-day bustle of the living. Ghosts long, I’m sure, for the … most unremarkable things.” ~ Banana Yoshimoto

I’m sure I have a few million of those daily moments pinging around my brain, waiting to be noticed, recalled and relived, however briefly.

I mention a few here:

"Skysof" by sof from Toronto, Canada - Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

“Skysof” by sof from Toronto, Canada – Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

Shooting hoops on the driveway with Big J might not merit a long story, but those sweet HORSE playing times still feel priceless. Closing my eyes I can almost picture specific shots you made and I attempted. Never did get my lay-up mastered. You, however, grew much, much taller and could make any shot you want to now.

Seldom do I see a slippery slide without recalling climbing over a ladder full of kids waiting for their turn so that I could rescue Little J at the top. I smile as I remember your eyes bigger and legs stronger than your bravery at two-years old. You pulled that stunt more times than I remember. Your body kept growing and finally caught up to that daring spirit in you. Now I hear about you jumping out of airplanes just for fun and I’m not the least bit surprised.

By DavidMaisel (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)

By DavidMaisel (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)

Big L and Little L, could you guess how many times we ventured into the “woods” in Oklahoma to that odd little park hidden in the middle? It was like we were the only ones who knew it existed. That’s where we found that hunk of fool’s gold and invented a story or two about it. How many times did one or both of you puke from spinning on the tire swing too long and too fast? I can practically smell that sticky sweet sweaty kid scent on your tan little bodies if I think back on those ordinary days we shared. Now each of you have spun off into your own worlds of insanely busy lives that seem to you mundane and yet make up the stuff of memories and stories you’ll cherish.

Waking from bad dreams and middle of the night snuggles, countless bowls of cereal and plates of scrambled eggs, finding shoes and tying them, making and packing up peanut butter and jam, tunafish, or bologna sandwiches, thousands of cloth diapers and thousands of disposable diapers, laundry and dishes, tacos and spaghetti, chili and chicken pot pies, cookies and brownies and scotcheroos, TV transfixed or Lego obsessed, baby dolls and Barbies, balls and blocks, forts and fights, homework and housework, chores and board games, fireflies at dusk, picnics with ginormous squirrels, bath times and story times and bedtimes by the thousands, and so much more filled our ordinary days.

Rebecca Palmer. Crazy Quilt, 1884

Rebecca Palmer. Crazy Quilt, 1884

And yet, looking back from a distance, each day now seems extraordinary and magical and exhausting and exhilarating and boring and exciting. Those tiny scraps of daily this and that, threads of nightly here and there, became the cloth of our stunning, breathtaking, wonder-filled, average family life.

I like to wrap myself up in it some days, when life feels questionable or queasy or tired, and simply feel love.

Always loving you,

Mom

"Bluebird of Happymess"

“Bluebird of Happymess”

 

“To be really great in little things, to be truly nobel and heroic in the insipid details of everyday life, is a virtue so rare as to be worthy of canonization.” ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

Categories: Family, Friday Letters | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Car Talk

Friday Letter to My Kids (yup, on Saturday)

Dear J, J, L and L,

Ya’ll remember the Datsun, right? Or as someone used to call it, the Grasshopper, due to it’s non-functioning shocks. Well, at one point in its colorful existence, it was a brand new baby car, fresh off the showroom floor. Hard to believe, I know. Okay, maybe not totally fresh, it’d been on some test drives, so it had one thousand miles on the odometer.

Two doors, yes. Can you say "clueless future parents?"

Two doors, yes. Can you say “clueless future parents?”

I only bring this up because so many happy things occurred in that car. Conversations being the chief among them.

When Little J first found her voice she told stories that would start at Grandma’s house and not end until we arrived at our place thirty minutes later. Big J and I didn’t get a word in edgewise. Unless Whitney Houston came on the radio, then Little J would stop talking long enough to sing along with the lyrics to “The Greatest Love of All.” She loved, loved, loved that song. (She was three years old.)

But I digress.

Something about sitting in the confines of a vehicle brings out the conversationalist in each of you. Or at least, it did.

Maybe being side by side but without eye contact did the trick. Or perhaps the steady hum of the engine and scenery rolling past triggered some reflex in the larynx. It’s even possible that some chemical in the car interior prompted a letting down of emotional defenses.

It didn’t always work that way, but when we got a good one on one conversation going, it usually happened in a car with just two of us going somewhere.

I’d guess some of us logged more miles together than others. Daily drives to and from school, and fairly regular trips back and forth from lessons, sports, church stuff, doctor appointments, errands, performances and more. Some of you even endured/enjoyed a few just-one-of-you and me road trips. Maybe it all balances out to the same mileage for each of you.

I loved those talks.

Well, mostly.

To be honest a few arguments and screaming matches happened, too. We won’t pretend that never happened.

Some pretty loud silences filled the car on occasion as well.

There’s definitely conversations we should have had that never happened. And probably a few discussions that shouldn’t have occurred, although I can’t think of anything specific. And I ought to have been much more direct and less wishy-washy on more than a few occasions.

If you can learn anything from my mistakes that’d be great. I’m guessing you’ll make your own unique set of communication errors as a parent or as a spouse.

Not our actual car. Ours had a sunroof, remember?

Not our actual car. Ours had a sunroof, remember?

One thing I try to do when I look back at those good times and at those dang-it-I-shoulda-done-better times, I liken myself to our fresh-off-the-showroom-floor Datsun. The first ten to fifteen years of parenting I had hardly any miles worth noting. Not until I’d experienced  *frillions of bumps, detours, twists, construction zones, shortcuts, hills, side roads and breakdowns did I even begin to know what I was doing.  Even then, well, I’m an imperfect and many splendored flawed person grasshoppering down the freeway.

Having your good company has made all the difference as the numbers have skyrocketed on my odometer o’life.

I look forward to many more conversations with each of you in years to come. Here’s hoping you enjoy the many chats you get to have with your own little traveling companions.

All my love,

Mom

photo-23 copy 5

* Frillion: a psychological/mathematical term combining an astronomically high number with near insanity level nonsense and stress

~~~~~

“Sometimes I wish that I was the weather, you’d bring me up in conversation forever. And when it rained, I’d be the talk of the day.” ~ John Mayer

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Friday letter to My Kids: Going, Going, Gone?

Dear J, J, L and L,

About a year from now all four of you will live in a different state from each other. Already I’m in mourning.

I’d like to think that life will coöperate with my plans to visit one of you at least every other month. I promise I’d keep them short visits, if they’re frequent.

We all know how that plan will work out.

There’s so very little anyone can do to prepare for the experience of parenting. And then after eighteen or more years of figuring it out there’s also nothing that prepares anyone for when those kids leave home, or when they leave the state, or the country.

I need to get me one of these bikes.

I need to get me one of these bikes.

You know that scene in the movie ET? Oh yeah, I forget, some of you haven’t even seen ET. (I truly have failed in your cultural development. We won’t even mention that one of you didn’t recognize a Beatles song when you were old enough to date.)

Here’s my condensed version of the movie, skipping all the exciting but less essential parts and getting to the heart of the matter of whatever this is I’m trying to understand and/or explain.

Forget what anyone tells you about Reese’s Pieces, or frogs, or getting drunk vicariously.

The important scene is the one when ET has phoned home and they send a megaship from the home galaxy to pick him up. He’s way past curfew by, I don’t know, a few weeks. He’ll be grounded for light-years. Anyway, he and Elliott, the main character, have bonded in a Spock mind meld kind of way, ish, and now they are best buddies. Elliot doesn’t want ET to go home. ET wants Elliott to go with him. Elliott wants ET to stay.

Now, pay attention, this is the point of this rambling story.

ET has this glowing heart that he points to and says, “Ouch” as he points to Elliott. Then Elliott points to his heart and says, “Ouch.” Of course, everyone except the dog is crying. And then ET gets that magical glowing fingertip and points to Elliott’s forehead and says, “I’ll be right here.”

I don’t know if I’m ET or if I’m Elliott, but either way, tears and “Ouch” and “I’ll be right here” seem to say what I feel about any one of you being farther away than a twenty-minute drive. A two-hour flight is about all I can tolerate. Don’t even consider space travel.

How will I manage?

You all will be just fine. Your lives will go on. Mine will feel like a train leaving the tracks.

Of course it sounds like you’re all leaving en masse, when the truth of the matter is one of you has been out-of-state for a few years now and somehow I keep breathing. And you’ve all left for a while, and come back and left and come back, ish.

I might have to book a cruise, or an Antarctic expedition, followed by a trip to anywhere that doesn’t involve reality or getting on with my life without all or most of you nearby. Or just as real a possibility as any of those, maybe I can get a flying bicycle…

Let me try a different medium.

We’ll leave science fiction and fantasy and try music.

The Phillip Phillips song “Gone, Gone, Gone” seems to capture some of what I feel about the future and the now.

Sure, it’s a love song, but then, so is being a mother.

I already miss you.

 

Love forever,

Mom

photo-23 copy 5

Have a listen, the lyrics follow:

 

“Gone, Gone, Gone”

When life leaves you high and dry

I’ll be at your door tonight

If you need help, if you need help.

I’ll shut down the city lights,

I’ll lie, cheat, I’ll beg and bribe

To make you well, to make you well.

 

When enemies are at your door

I’ll carry you away from war

If you need help, if you need help.

Your hope dangling by a string

I’ll share in your suffering

To make you well, to make you well.

 

Give me reasons to believe

That you would do the same for me.

 

And I would do it for you, for you.

Baby, I’m not moving on

I’ll love you long after you’re gone.

For you, for you.

You will never sleep alone.

I’ll love you long after you’re gone

And long after you’re gone, gone, gone.

 

When you fall like a statue

I’m gon’ be there to catch you

Put you on your feet, you on your feet.

And if your well is empty

Not a thing will prevent me.

Tell me what you need, what do you need?

 

I surrender honestly.

You’ve always done the same for me.

 

So I would do it for you, for you.

Baby, I’m not moving on,

I’ll love you long after you’re gone.

For you, for you.

You will never sleep alone.

I’ll love you long after you’re gone

And long after you’re gone, gone, gone.

 

You’re my back bone.

You’re my cornerstone.

You’re my crutch when my legs stop moving.

You’re my head start.

You’re my rugged heart.

You’re the pulse that I’ve always needed.

Like a drum, baby, don’t stop beating.

Like a drum, baby, don’t stop beating.

Like a drum, baby, don’t stop beating.

Like a drum my heart never stops beating…

 

For you, for you.

Baby, I’m not moving on.

I’ll love you long after you’re gone.

For you, for you.

You will never sleep alone.

I’ll love you long after you’re gone.

For you, for you.

Baby, I’m not moving on,

I’ll love you long after you’re gone.

For you, for you.

You will never sleep alone.

I’ll love you long, long after you’re gone.

 

Like a drum, baby, don’t stop beating.

Like a drum, baby, don’t stop beating.

Like a drum, baby, don’t stop beating.

Like a drum my heart never stops beating for you.

 

And long after you’re gone, gone, gone.

I’ll love you long after you’re gone, gone, gone.

 

~ This song was co-written by Derek Fuhrmann, Todd Clark and Gregg Wattenberg.

 

 

 

 

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

Friday Letters: Water Babies

“Always be like a water. Float in the times of pain or dance like waves along the wind which touches its surface.” ~Santosh Kalwar

Dear J, J, L and L,

One hundred four degrees. That’s the forecast high temperature here today. Makes me wish we still had a backyard pool like we had at the Saint Elena house. I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have survived our first year or two here in Arizona without it, especially since we arrived in late August. Your ages then: sixteen, fourteen, nine, and five. I think it bridged the age gap between big kids and little kids quite effectively.

photo by: The High Fin Sperm Whale (really)

photo by: The High Fin Sperm Whale (really)

I think it’s really true that water is the stuff of life. If I think about it even a little, water plays an integral part in most of my memories of raising the four of you.

J and J, that little sandbox you played in nearly always ended up filled with water after hours of building roads or tunnels or castles. And the blue plastic play pool? Less than a foot of water and maybe six feet across, it got so hot some days even I sat down in it with you. You even managed to add water to the bouncy times at Grandpa’s and Grandma’s on the trampoline, turning on the sprinkler underneath and getting totally soaked.

Hour long baths highlighted most days and brought them to a stellar, soggy end for you two oldest when you were toddlers. Do you remember the big garden tub that we filled with bubbles and containers? You made it into your personal wave pool and played until the water cooled and you both shivered. I sat nearby on the toilet seat or counter top, usually reading a book, out of reach of your splashing and waterfalls and container experiments. It was my hour of mental escape.

Then when we made the move to the Northwest, about the time L came along, we hung out occasionally at Puget Sound, mucking about along the rocky shore. Once you brought home a pail of barnacles that we set out on the balcony. Nothing else smells quite as bad as dead sea life in a bucket.

Mostly we spent about three hours a day or more at the pool all summer long. You two older kids each wore a red tank top with a built-in inner tube. Fearless, as usual, you launched off the diving board about a hundred times an hour. We often brought lunch and lots and lots of snacks and juice boxes. Poor little L would get tuckered out and we’d put her in the shade in her stroller and let her sleep while we swam even longer. You had the brownest bodies, with tan lines that latest until Christmas.

Camping up near Index we always set up our tent beside that creek which you three oldest kids spent hours splashing and playing in. I think you even attempted to build a small dam to pool the water so you could swim. Too bad the water temperature always hovered near freezing as it flowed down out of the Cascades.

photo by: Michael Conti

photo by: Michael Conti

When we finally landed in the midwest, with its humidity and ever changeable weather, our summer days revolved around the local swimming pool hours and what times our friends would also arrive.

By then the red swim shirt inner tubes fit big L and little L or “fish girl” as we should have called her. At two and half, our golden blond baby leapt off the diving board into twelve feet of water like she was born to do just that. Meanwhile, poor big L hunkered at the edge of the pool, hands in prayer form, tipping herself gingerly into the water in her year-long attempt at mastering diving.

By then J spent his time trying to make his enormous splashes off the diving board land on the life guard. And J, like most teenage girls her age, spent her time working on her tan, chatting with her friends and catching the eye of a few too many guys. Ah, those were the days, huh?

When the diving board lost its entertainment value, I recall sitting in the baby pool, while L and L played beauty salon with me acting the role of the hapless customer. Pretend perms, shampoos and styles seem to last for hours.

The smell of sunscreen conjures such sweet remembrances in me. To drive past a public swimming pool all but makes me laugh. Rarely do I add bubbles to a bath without recalling countless bare bums and smiling faces poking out of mountains of white foam. It seems at least half my memories of each of you involve water somehow.

DaVinci once said, “Water is the driving force in nature.” That’s true on many levels. I know it’s especially true for your growing up years. If ever you feel an emotional drought in your life, I hope you remember as I so often do, the wonderful, water filled memories we shared.

With love and laughter,

Mom

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.” ~ Margaret Atwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Family, Friday Letters, Memory Lane | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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