Sunday, May 31, 2009

51! How did that happen?

When I think about the “perfect age” my go-to year is 36. Not because that year was particularly memorable for me, but because it just seems like a good time of life. By 36 I had weathered the deaths of my parents; I felt strong in my relationship with my husband, confident in my parenting, past some of the insecurities and unknown that are the 20’s, yet my body was still youthful, my face unlined and my hair more or less its natural color.

This morning I was awakened at 7:00 by a text message from my twelve-year-old son wishing me, “Happy Birthday!” Today I’m 51, not 36; how did that happen? I started thinking about what has happened in the years since I was 36. What has happened to put me at 51? In the last fifteen years we have welcomed at least three more children into our family (I’ve lost count…); I quit a career I loved (trust banking) and found a cause I’m passionate about (adoption); I learned to make exercise a part of my daily life; I realized that my strong relationship with my husband is a never-ending source of comfort and growth; I’ve learned to cherish the friends from my 20’s while finding my first grown-up group of “girlfriends”; I’ve cooked a thousand meals (more or less) and realized that cooking for less than six people seems a waste of time, driven back-and-forth hundreds of times to soccer fields, baseball fields, basketball courts and dance studios and, perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned that the years are going to go by regardless of what I do, how well I eat or how much I exercise, so I’ve tried to enjoy each year, I’ve tried to relish each change and I’ve tried to remember to be grateful for the blessings of this crazy life I live and love.

Post-Script – After the “alarm clock” of the text message went off this morning, my husband told me that the kids wanted to make me breakfast. I groaned a bit because I knew they wouldn’t want to get up for at least another hour and my body was telling me it needed to eat something sooner than that. So, being a good mom, I decided to wait for my child-made breakfast and just have a small bite to hold me over. But what to have? I had been up in the middle of the night (does any 51 year old woman sleep through the night?) and had needed something then, so I had eaten half a banana and had tossed the rest, in its peel, into the garbage. This morning, being the “mom” that I am, I retrieved my tossed half of a banana, peel still intact, from the garbage can and ate it to hold me over so my children could sleep-in and then get up and “surprise” me with breakfast – like I said, this crazy life I live…

Post, post-script - I wonder if garbage digging is a new trend for my plus-50 years?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Parenting: Sometimes It Even Makes You Smile

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Parenting isn’t for wimps! In a family the size of ours, there’s always something going on with the kids – some good, some bad. There are some days when I wonder if the work is all worthwhile; I had one of those days recently. I won’t go into the specifics, but let’s just say that some of my little angels were being something less than angelic. I fretted, I talked, I reasoned; it was tough – and I’m not a wimp. Finally, with events settling down, I went to bed exhausted. I awoke in the morning to a funny story from one of our older kids about his escapades the previous night. Nothing illegal or bad had happened, just funny circumstances. Then I saw the face of another child who had been out to the first concert sans parents and I reflected on the amusing fact that I was relieved that this child had become lost only four times in route. As I deal with children, teenagers and young adults, I’m constantly torn between the parenting stressors of monitoring, disciplining and training and the parenting joys of seeing the possibilities in each child’s heart and head and loving each one for who she or he is. It’s true, parenting isn’t for wimps; there are days, weeks, sometimes months or years that are tough, but there are also sweet moments and funny stories; sometimes, even when we don’t expect it, perhaps when we need it most, being a parent can even make us smile.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Celebrate Today!

Disneyland is currently promoting the theme: Celebrate Today! As soon as we walked into Disneyland in March, the theme caught my eye and my thoughts. There are two ways of looking at this theme: it could mean Celebrate Today, i.e. celebrate this day, just because it is today; or, it could mean Celebrate Today, i.e. today you should celebrate something.

Recently we were blessed with a visit from Brian’s aunt who lives in Australia. She had three weeks to travel across the country to visit friends and family she has not seen in years. She told me that, before she left, she charged herself with the responsibility to be totally present to whoever was in front of her. I believe that throughout her visit, she Celebrated Today – she was cognizant of each and every day, aware of each and every person with whom she came in contact.

I’m sometimes accused of being a goody-two-shoes or a Pollyanna; I have a bit of a positive outlook on life. In the context of the Disneyland theme, I think that’s because I always try to Celebrate Today. It doesn’t always work and I do have my “down” days, but I try to be upbeat, to find the good in the day.

Whichever way you want to look at it – Celebrate Today!