Sunday, August 22, 2010

Life Surprises Me

1. The twins were watching a movie with me, and asked about a father and daughter dancing during a wedding reception. I explained that it's a sort of tradition, and it is called the Father-Daughter Dance. And as I said that, I had to pause because a huge lump turned up in my throat, and I had trouble speaking. I wasn't consciously missing my dad - I think about him daily, but not at that particular moment. Just SAYING Father/Daughter Dance overwhelmed me with emotion - and I was completely caught off guard. Losing a parent leaves such a void, and you become adept at either going around the void or filling it in so you are better able to avoid it -- but then your 8 year old asks about something as simple as a dance, and you find yourself swept into the void without having recognized you were anywhere near it.

I do have to point out that I had a splendid dance with my wonderful father at my wedding 21 years ago. : )

2. I thoroughly enjoyed the book "Red Hook Road" by Ayelet Waldman. Cannot recommend it enough. It tends to get classified as a book about sisters - but it is really about family, loss, and how relationships change over the span of time. I particularly liked how the parent-child relationships changed - and did not change - over the years.

3. I watched the first episode of a new show on Showtime called "The Big C". Laura Linney stars, and she is wonderful. If you can overlook the occasional colorful language (including swearing at people one would not typically say such things to but would probably wish to), it is a show with a strong script and very little reluctance to talk about those things people rarely talk about out loud - most specifically, cancer. But that was not the most surprising thing about the show - what caught me off guard was when Laura Linney's character said one of her reasons to not pursue cancer treatment is because it would mean other people taking care of her, and that is what she does - take care of other people. And she just couldn't face the idea of having to have others care for her in that way. And I understood what she meant, 100%.

Oddly enough, a couple of days later, I found myself in a conversation with a friend, talking about taking care of our families. She does a a great deal for her kiddos, her husband, her work - and I said that is exactly where I am in my life. I take care of my kids, my husband, my job, my pets, etc. - and right now, I don't do a great deal to take care of myself, in terms of "me time" and putting hours into hair care, etc. (not that I will ever put lots of time into hair care, anyway), -- and that is all right. THAT is where I am right now, and I try really hard to enjoy where I am right now. She totally understood what I was saying.

Taking care of my family and my household and my friends - and working, writing, etc., - is what I do, and if it means not doing certain things for myself or temporarily putting certain goals on a shelf for the time being, that is what I choose to do. Not what I am forced to do. I happen to be pretty good at taking care of others, and it brings me a certain joy.

Now don't misunderstand - I am no saint and I am certainly not filled with joy in everything I do. Joy is hard to find in some of the detritus of daily life - I know joy is definitely off-site when I have been waiting 35 minutes for football practice to end. And it is rarely nearby when I'm breaking up yet another name-calling contest between the boys.

It was just surprising to see a t.v. show said something I had been thinking, but had not put into words.

4. A children's book recommendation - Berkley Breathed, who is the genius behind the fantastic comic strip originating in the 1980s called "Bloom County, wrote a book for young adults called "Flawed Dogs". The twins and I are reading it together, and the plot is definitely NOT dumbed-down in anyway. The feelings of the dogs in the book are so on target with what dogs look like they might be thinking. And while some of the humans in the book are awfully reprehensible, there are also humans who are clearly the good guys. Get a copy and give it to a kiddo you like. Better yet, buy a copy and give it to a school library.

5. Last thought for today - there is a saying "Bloom where you're planted". What that says to me is this:
Realize how lucky you are while you are lucky. Be aware of blessings as they come your way, even if those blessings look a lot like fighting kids or houses in need of new windows. When you can think of nothing you want more than a quiet house, find a spot to find that moment of silence, but don't forget that some time in the future, the kids and dogs and aquariums making all of that racket will be elsewhere, and the quiet you seek now could become the quiet you try to fill with television and CDs.
Being married and raising a family is work. And man, there are moments when it is SUCH HARD WORK. Egads, somedays there are days and days when it is such hard work. But you know what occurred to me recently? It should be. It doesn't GET any more important than that. Funny how we all understand that becoming a doctor requires all of those years of education and training, and we all say "but it's worth it". But then we are all taken off guard when parenting is hard. Raising itty bitty human beings to grow up and be kind, civil, hard-working members of society is no easy task, and the world is doing parents few favors in terms of help along the way.

All of that being said, I love the idea of blooming where we're planted. Seeing the good before we get snarled up in the bad, difficult and icky. So, I'll just keep doing what I'm doing, and I'll be over here blooming if anyone needs me.

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