Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Tuesday Slice: When you don't have anything good to say

"When you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all."

How does that work, for writers?  Fiction is easier, I suppose.  One just re-enters the world created by the pen and continues where one left off.  Work the problems out, write the happy ending.

Real life isn't so easy to escape.  When bad things happen in clusters--even not-so-bad, just annoying and expensive--an overwhelming funk starts to creep in.  I try to remind myself that these issues are first-world problems; my basic needs are more than well-met, anything else is icing on the cake, and I just need to stop the whining and move on.  

The self-talk and gratitude journaling isn't working this week.  I just want to run away to a retreat center and sleep and walk and meditate and pray and eat salads, then come home to a magically clean house with all my bills paid and everything is fixed and all deadlines are met.  

Maybe escaping into fiction is exactly what I need.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Tuesday Slice: Advent

Little by little, the season appears.  

Leaves fall
Cool winds blow
Trips to the mall

Lights are strung
Cards arrive
A wreath is hung

A manger goes up
Cinnamon in the air
Cocoa in a cup

Little by little, the season appears.

Boxes on the doorstep
Covered outdoor plants
Chilly mornings overslept

Homecoming hugs
Classes done
Red and green mugs

Making room for the tree
Sweaters unpacked
Finding the magic key

Little by little, the season appears.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tuesday Slice: Which weighs more?

The air was crisp, colder in the shade of oak trees refusing to give up their leaves, gleaning the last rays of autumnal sun on the hike and bike trail.  The crunching of gravel seemed almost too loud on this quiet, breezeless morning; I was glad when my path took me onto paved walkways for an auditory respite.

Too quiet.  My mind decided to fill the noiseless void with anxiety-ridden thoughts of parenting fails over the last two decades.

Mother-guilt is something I'll take to the grave.  The times I let them cry a bit too long before picking them up (the books said they're supposed to learn to self-soothe!).  The accidents that happened because I turned my back for a moment. The selfish, soft-spoken pleas to just-go-to-sleep, because I was the one who needed the rest. The times my patience wore thin and my voice got shrill and loud.  The days when I got in the car to drive myself around the block six times to calm down. When I was late for pickup, spent too much time on the computer, didn't set a good example in home-caring/self-caring/ being kind.

In an effort to make myself feel better, I thought of the things I did "right".  Rocking my babies to sleep with lullabies.  Filling the house with books and music and craft supplies to engage their minds and hands.  Reading bedtime stories and tucking them in with kisses and blessings.  Dropping them off and picking them up from school, with talk time in the car.  Attending parent conferences, band concerts, halftime shows.  Taking them to the doctor/ dentist/ orthodontist for physical and emotional needs.  Hallway hugs, phone call check-ins.  Traveling through states, out of the country, and establishing traditions at home.     

The older my children get, the more I worry about our past affecting their present and future.  The guilt makes me rejoice in the accomplishments they make in spite of my mistakes, but grows whenever there are issues I feel I may have caused. 

In the delicate balance of a child's psyche, which weighs more--the love and care we managed to give, or the times we failed miserably in that attempt?  I pray it is the former, not the latter--and that my children will forgive me my faults, perhaps when they become parents themselves.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tuesday Slice: Celebrate me home

For the past several days, I've been waking up to the same song playing in my head.  
It's a bit annoying, as my mind is breaking the "no Christmas songs until Santa arrives at the end of the Thanksgiving Day Macy's Parade" rule we have in this house. (We also listen to Christmas music until the twelfth day of Christmas, January 6th...but I digress.)

I'm guessing the mental jukebox picked this tune because it's our first empty nesting holiday season, and we'll have both fledglings under our roof come Christmas time--one driving home from college, the other flying in from Japan.  My father and his wife will join us for New Year's Eve--the most family members here since our daughter graduated from high school in 2012.  After my father leaves, we will meet our daughter's Japanese boyfriend as he visits our home for the first time.

There's a homecoming today, too.  I join current and former staff and students as we meet in my neighborhood elementary school to celebrate its fortieth anniversary.  Our daughter and son both attended the school, and because of their age difference, I was an Anderson Mill parent for eleven years before becoming a teacher there for three more.  I have fond memories of the tiny resource room I inhabited, all the while working on my Library Science degree, supported by the principal and mentored by the librarian. I'm hoping to see several of my students this afternoon.

We will be celebrating our loved ones home this holiday season, indeed.  Maybe I'm not so annoyed by the earworm after all.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tuesday Slice: A good day

"I've already planned to take the day off.  Do you want me to go to your appointments with you?" I asked over the phone.

"Are you sure you want to spend your day off going to doctors' offices?  I can think of more fun things to do than that," he replied.

"If you get good news, you'll want to celebrate.  I could take you out to eat--to CHEW--afterwards."

"Yeah, but if I get bad news, you'll have to listen to me rant the rest of the day."

"Either way, you'll need someone to celebrate with or yell at.  I'll go, if you want me to."



Appointment number one: orthodontist.

"So, what did the ortho have to say?"

"He said something about this being maybe the second to the last time I'll have to see him."

"That sounds like we're getting close to the end!"

"Yeah, I guess."

Appointment number two:  oral surgeon.

"He looks good.  See here in the x-ray, the bone is just about healed; can barely tell he's had surgery.  Let's put him on the scale...good weight gain, too!  I'd like to see him in a month."

"But what about chewing?" I ask.

"And playing French horn?" the patient asks.

"Oh, yes, chewing soft foods is okay.  And horn playing."

We are both beaming, walking out of the office, high fives in the parking lot.

"Dad's home!"

"What did the docs say today?"

"Let's head to IHOP, so the boy can CHEW some French toast.  Oh, and his French horn needs fixing again. It's been a good day."

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tuesday Slice: The thin veil

And tomorrow, and
The day after that
I will remember

The saints that guide me
Catherine of Siena
Anthony of Padua
Therese of Lisieux
Hildegard of Bingen
Patrick and
Brigid of Ireland
Their lessons I glean

And tomorrow, and
The day after that
I will remember

The ones who loved me
My mother
My grandparents
My cousins
My aunts and uncles
My family-by-marriage
My friends
Whom I love still

And tomorrow, and
The day after that
I will remember

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tuesday Slice: Cowboy boots

Scuffed, pointed toes peek just a few inches from my bootcut jeans.  "I bought them when I was pregnant with my firstborn," I said. "That makes them twenty-five years old. I thought they would be my last big purchase ever, figured all my money would be spent on my kids after that.  They've been resoled once, at the shoe hospital."

The boots, dark caramel brown and creased from wear, sat unused for months at the bottom of my shoe pile until this past week, when the "Wild West" theme of our fall book fair fundraiser called for an appropriate costume.  I bought Wrangler western style shirts, one red and one blue, with pearl snap buttons.  A bandanna and a sueded plastic cowboy hat from a party supply store completed the look.  It was a hit with the students, who commented daily on my "cowboy clothes".

I've lived in this state for over thirty-six years, and those boots still feel like a costume.  Not a huge fan of country music. Don't really know how to two-step or do a boot-scootin' boogie.  Rarely does a "y'all" slip from my lips.  I'm Texan by residence, not by birth.  Two-thirds of my life spent here, and I can't bring myself to call this place "home", though I find thoughts of leaving our house, our neighbors, the lives we've built for ourselves discomforting. 

This must be the legacy of being a military BRAT: no matter how comfortable you are, or how long you stay, a place is never really home--but the people and the circumstances are the closest things to home we know.