Friday, June 27, 2014

Enough

 She exhales it like the rest of us exhale carbon dioxide.  She breathes it out to the world.  Offering it through her smiles, her kind words, her sweet gestures.  It's so natural for her this thing called love.  She sees the best in people, and only chooses to believe the sun shines even when she can't feel it on her carmel colored face. The day she was born and they handed her to me, I cried. One tiny tear, for the precious gift I knew I held tightly in my arms.  When she opened her emerald eyes in my direction, my breath caught, and I prayed.  I said a prayer of thanksgiving, but also one of guidance.  I was going to need God's help, I knew, to raise this tiny princess.  7 years later, I pray harder for my tender-hearted beauty.  

One day this past year, she was unusally quiet on the drive home.  Very out of character for my chatty daughter, especailly after a full day of first grade.  I noticed her gripping something very tightly in her hand, but I decided to wait it out and give her a chance to talk to me when she was ready.  Sure enough before we got home she began to open up.  What I heard broke my heart for my little girl.  She explained that she had no one to sit with at lunch because her best friends were mad at her.  Her little heart had developed a crush on a very sweet little boy, and they had become very good friends.  Problem was her friends wanted her to sit with them at lunch and play with them at recess, but so did this little boy.  She didn't know what to do, she told me through tears, and both parties ended up mad at her.  What she held so dearly in her hand was a letter to this little boy who was special to her, asking him to please not be mad at her. Apologizing over and over again throughout the letter. It took every ounce of energy to not let my past experiences affect what I said to my vulnerable daugther.  So I took a moment, and prayed. 

We talked about how she had done nothing wrong and did not need to apologize.  We discussed that being in the middle of a situation like this wasn't easy and it wasn't fun, but it also wasn't going to be the last time it would happen.  She understood that it was okay to be her, and any decision she made would be okay because she cared about all of her friends. The next day she came home, like herself.  Chatty, happy, and relaxed.  She talked with her friends, including the little boy, and shared how she had felt.  They communicated better than some adults based on her version of events, and decided to all sit together and play together.  No separation needed.  Joy ruled our car ride home again.  Crisis averted.  First of many I am sure.  

Yes, I still pray for my daughter.  And I will continue to pray for her.  I pray that the world doesn't harden her heart.  I pray that she always sees the good in people even when its buried deep down inside them and it's

hard to notice.  Mostly I pray that she will know her worth and how valuable she is.  That she doesn't have to apologize for being who she is or what she feels.  I pray that she will love regardless of what anyone else says or does.  Because she is so special.  So loved.  And so valuable.

-Esmer


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Once a Mom, Always a Mom by Carolyn

Have you ever noticed that all moms seem to do certain things? You might think that they all go to Mommy School to learn to do these things, but that is not the case. In the absence of formal training, I speculate that these mommy-actions are instinctual, flowing down through thousands of years, multitudes of generations, of mommies. What I find fascinating is that these mommy-behaviors continue long after the need for them has grown and left the nest.

For instance, I have been known to throw my arm across the front of a passenger (even a full-grown adult) who is riding in the front seat to keep the passenger from flying through the windshield when I have had to step on the brakes a teensy little bit too hard. It is an embarrassing moment, but the response is completely beyond my control.

I have also noticed myself, more than once, swaying gently back and forth when someone in my presence is trying to placate a fussy baby, just as I did many years ago when I was trying to pacify my own crying infants. My swaying efforts are of no help whatsoever in calming the whimpering infant in someone else's arms (and I'm sure I look a little silly), but still I sway. I may even hum a tiny bit.

Remember when your children were small, and you licked your fingertip to wipe something off their faces? I would guess that you continued doing that long after they were capable of cleaning messes off their own skin, and that they did not tolerate it well. Even worse, have you ever unthinkingly wetted the tip of your finger and without thinking it through, extended it toward the face of a person who was not even your own child, just to wipe off that little something on the chin? How embarrassing!

I have also noticed that we moms often bus the tables for everyone in our group when we dine out at casual restaurants. We automatically grab each other's used napkins and empty plates to take them to the trash. If someone spills at the table, we all simultaneously jump up to go get more napkins. I guess we develop the habit of taking care of our own families at the dinner table (because no one else does it), but the instinct persists even when it isn't needed.

We moms also tend to carry everything that anyone might possibly need in our bags. Notice what happens when someone sneezes or begins to cry. We all reach into our purses and pull out tissue. Does someone need a button sewn back on? Let me pull out my emergency sewing kit. Going out into the sun? Here is some sunscreen I just happen to be carrying with me.  Have a splinter? I have some tweezers right here, just for such an occasion. Bandaid, anyone?

Sometimes we have to stifle our mommy-ness. Many, many, many times, I have wanted to correct the behavior of someone else's child, even when the parent is in close proximity. On such occasions I have to remember that my opinion of what is proper is not shared by everyone. It is very difficult to bite my tongue when screaming and tantrums erupt or uncontrolled whirling dervishes run circles around me, but I try. I'm usually successful.

We might also want to stifle our mommy urge when we are preparing for a car trip. It is okay, and probably wise, to ask your own small children if they have used the restroom before they get into the car. It is not acceptable, and not well-received, to ask your husband, grown child, parent, sibling, or friend the same question!

I am a little worried that when I have grandchildren, I will be overcome by those instinctual mommy actions, and try to do too much. I will try to restrain myself and leave the mommy-ing up to my daughters-in-law, but I suspect it will be very difficult. Keep a close eye on me, and remind me that I don't have to be the mommy - I get to be the grandmother instead!

-Carolyn






Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Anatomy of My Disappointment by Susan

When I was four years old, my father told us that we would be going to a new place on the Caspian coast.  Not the same straw huts with no running water or bathrooms, but somewhere more like a hotel with beds.  In my mind I had pictured that place to be right on the beach, where I could be playing in the sand as my parents sat on a veranda and sipped tea.  When after the four hour drive up one side and down the other of the Alborz mountains we arrived at the new complex, I saw that the place was a three story villa with multiple rooms set in a citrus orchard in the middle of the city.  To get to the beach we would have to get into our cars and drive and still use the straw huts with no running water or bathrooms!  I can still remember the sensation at that moment when I realized that what I had expected was not what I was getting.  My eardrums felt like bursting, my fists and my jaws clenched tight and I cried inconsolably for hours.  That is my earliest recollection of the taste of disappointment.  The last time I remember feeling that exact same sensation, I was an adult woman with a small child.  We were supposed to fly to a wedding where my husband had a business meeting.  I had my heart set on seeing lots of friends and spending a weekend away from our routine.  At the last minute the business meeting and with it, the airline tickets, were cancelled.  I was so mad I wanted to break the phone that brought me such disappointing news.

It's been a while since I have felt such strong emotions.  I am not saying that I don't ever feel disappointed; that I don't cry or feel like breaking things when things don't turn out the way I expected them to.  But the time it takes now to go from disappointment to acceptance and resignation has diminished considerably.  It is one of those perks of getting older.  It is also about giving up control. When we get disappointed it is because we feel dissed that we did not get what we thought we were appointed to get.  We want a certain job, the attention of certain people, the prospect of spending our time a certain way.  And when we don't get it, we get mad.  Even feeling disappointed in people comes from wanting to have some control over how others act and behave, or even who they are.

Another word for resignation and acceptance is acquiescence.  It is not a word you see or hear often.  It comes from a Latin root meaning to find rest in.  Whereas resignation brings up images of a deflated ballon, acquiescence makes me think of floating freely in an inner tube down a calm and cool river, letting the flow take me.   I like that image of finding rest after being agitated and wound up over a disappointing situation.  It would be a lie to think that I will never experience strong emotions when I don't get what I want, but I would like to think that I can get to that quiet restful place a little quicker each time.  And like anything, change happens little by little and with practice.  One day I get that dress I ordered online that arrived late but just in time for the big event.  I put it on and realize that somewhere in this world people who use a size small are really small.  My eardrums begin to feel like bursting, I clench my fists and jaws but . . . quicker than I expected, I get to that quiet restful place which allows my brain to think of a solution.  I let out the seams in the back, buy the proper undergarment and the dress fits!

-Susan