Thursday, February 25, 2010

Needed and Needy

As a mom and a wife, heck, as a woman, I’m used to being needed. Whether it’s my kids, my husband, or my volunteer commitments, I definitely feel needed and, frankly, I like being needed. I like that my husband looks to me as his confidant. I like that my family needs me for tasks and support, great and small. I like that they look to me to “keep the ship running”. However, sometimes I am needy. Sometimes my positive outlook slips into the “hole without joy”. Sometimes, my body doesn’t function perfectly and I feel sick or achy. Sometimes I need the figurative hug of comfort. My husband and my children are usually pretty good about appreciating me and making sure I am taken care of when I need that, but, lately, there’s just too much neediness. Kids with major bumps and bruises (one requiring surgery), other “growing up kid stuff” that needs to be dealt with, a husband with some major stressors, paperwork and tax preparation that seem never ending – no lack of feeling needed for me. But during this “needed” time, I’m also feeling quite “needy”. My body has aches and pains that seem to just keep springing up. The level of stress I’m feeling, from being so needed, has reached an all-time high. Stress keeps me up at night, no doubt adds to the aches and pains, and then the downward spiral begins. If my mom were still living, I’d tell her I need her to come take care of me for a few days. This clash between being needed and needy is tough and I know I’m not alone. I can think of at least half a dozen friends who, I have no doubt, are caught in this same place with me. It would certainly be easier if we could all just separate the times we’re needed from the times when we’re feeling truly needy and not have the two happen at the same time, but life doesn't let us make those choices. So, what do we do? We go on. We do what we have to do: we take care of our families, we complete our work and chores and we make it through the day by always looking for that little smile, hug or bit of support that assuages some of our own neediness.

Post-Script: After I posted this I realized that I should have ended with, "What do I need today? I need to spend the day in bed...and I'm going to!"

Friday, February 19, 2010

My Parents' Legacy

I had wonderful parents who were loving, giving, honest and hardworking. I know that much of who I am today is because of my parents. Recently I have discovered another area in which my parents left me a legacy: my feet! Each of my parents has claimed a foot. In the last couple of years I have developed a bunion on my right foot. My dad had bunions so bad that for the last several years of his life he wore Birkenstocks every day, everywhere and, even then, he had to cut a piece out of the side of the cork footbed in order to accommodate his bunions. I have also had on-going problems with an in-grown toenail on my left foot. My mom had such bad problems with in-grown toenails that she had had the toenail cut way back on both sides of her big toes. As a little girl I always thought her toes looked so funny – big wide toes with little skinny toenails.

I am so grateful to have had parents who set a good example and who fostered strong morals in me, but I’d be completely happy to not share in their podiatric problems. Too bad we don’t get to pick and choose what legacy we receive.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Perfect Gift, Part 2

As my husband and I were talking about my last post, The Perfect Gift, he pointed out that I had missed one of the “gifts” we give each other – the gift of shared dreams. As I’d mentioned, I had heard early on in our married life of older couples who didn’t give each other gifts and I had been determined not to let our relationship get so boring that we wouldn’t give each other gifts. I said that I now realize that the gifts we give each other of commitment to our relationship, friendship and accumulated memories were much more important that any physical item we could give. With my husband’s addition of share dreams to this list, I realized that it is those dreams that keep our relationship from becoming boring. So, on Valentine’s Day, to my lovely husband I give the gifts of commitment, friendship, memories and dreams.

P.S. And to my friend with three small children, I wish for you the gift of relaxing sleep.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Perfect Gift

I’ve always loved giving gifts; they are an expression of my feelings toward and my desire to please those I love. Over the years my husband and I have each searched and searched for just the right gift to give the other for any gift giving occasion. I remember, in the early years of our marriage, hearing of older long-married couples who didn’t give gifts to each other and I remember thinking, I will never let our marriage get dull enough that we don’t even want to give the other a gift. Well, here we are, an older long-married couple and, frankly, I don’t give a hoot about gifts. In fact, for the last few years, I’ve asked my family not to get me gifts for Mother’s Day and my birthday (I still like to have a few things under the Christmas tree, though), but I’d much rather receive kind words or a family activity. This weekend is Valentine’s Day and, while I’d love to present my husband with a gift that truly expresses the love, devotion and gratitude I feel toward him, the reality is that no physical item can do that and anything less seems trivial. The real gifts are the on-going commitment to our relationship, the friendship we share, the history we’ve accumulated. Those are the perfect, lasting, most-meaningful gifts in a relationship. Of course, if my husband wants to visit the jewelry store…(just kidding)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Who's Off Base?

My two older daughters play high school basketball. After the games were over Friday evening, the younger of the two told me that the boys in the student section of the bleachers (this was an away game) were awful and that they were yelling at her, calling out her name and referring to her as Mulan and Pocahontas. My daughter is Asian (S. Korean), but she is neither Chinese nor Native American. She was obviously upset by their behavior and name-calling and my mommy-feathers were immediately ruffled. I told her that if people ever did things like that in the future, she needed to let me or her coach know immediately, not at the end of the game when everyone was gone.

Later, on the way home, my oldest daughter said something about the rude remarks made by the boys on the bleachers and I said, “Yes, your sister has already told me that they were yelling inappropriate things and referring to her as Mulan and Pocahontas.” Much to my surprise, my oldest daughter (who is very clear and proud of her Korean heritage) said, “Oh, well at least that’s sweet – Mulan and Pocahontas are both princesses.” I was shocked! To me, these comments were racially motivated and were intended to single my daughter out from the other girls on the team. Yet my oldest daughter obviously didn’t see them as racially inappropriate comments, even though she is very aware of racial issues, having grown up in a predominately white community. I began to wonder which of us was off-base… Were these inappropriate racial comments or was I just being extra-sensitive about a topic that can, with our transracial family, be an issue with which we do, occasionally, have to deal? I’ve thought about this a lot over the last two days and I think that we were both right. These were racial comments, they were inappropriate and they did disturb my middle daughter. However, I think my oldest daughter’s attitude was so wonderfully positive and appropriate –there’s sometimes nothing you can do about the idiots in the world who don’t know better than to single people out based on racial attributes – and I’m glad that my oldest daughter could look at them and, instead of feeling anger, hurt or hatred, turn their comments around and call her sister a princess – which she is!