Category Archives: Family

Bittersweet Journey

An ache swelled in his heart he had not known before. For many winters past, he’d found his way from childhood to manhood in this wooded area he called his home.  There had been a time not long ago that he welcomed the chance to leave, but the spirits unseen would have their own say. The tasks that had been put before him were not to be ignored, and like the acorn that strained against its shell to become the mighty oak, he’d found the strength to become the warrior his mother had wished him to be.

Across the field, the weathered trees that interrupted the horizon swayed in obedience to the insistent breeze, causing a shudder to pass atop his shoulders.  The forest and the plains had not changed overmuch, and almost seemed to have stilled its heart, but to his astute senses, this place, and the very air that surrounded it, he knew was not the same.

He allowed the breath in his chest to escape and he put his feet in motion.  It was time.  Time to let go of all that he knew.  There was no one left, no one for him to protect.  The accomplishment was bitter in his mouth, for as he had watched them leave one by one, a piece of him had also gone.  Oh, he would have those pieces back if only he could, but to ask would merely show a weakness he felt compelled to hide.  No, at 20 summers he’d shown his worth and earned the respect of the people who gave it.  There would be no going back.

A single breath caught against his ribs and he focused, as he’d done so many times before, upon his mother’s everlasting glow that surrounded him always, the constant he often forgot to remember.

His footsteps faltered as he turned to look back once more.   No one needed him.  No one called his name.

Yes.  The time had come.

He followed the path he’d walked on with his brother not so long ago, holding his head high, keeping his eyes alert.   He crossed the bridge to where the portal stood, his footsteps still crying out for the memories to follow.

From beyond the shimmering portal, his mother’s welcoming arms opened to him, and his little brother smiled  with pride.  Without looking back, and with his hand firmly on the hilt of his sword, he bit down on the memories, and left the homeland to begin the journey of an adventurous new life.

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The Summoning

She ran the stone one last time along the edge of her sword, restoring its former sharpened perfection. It’d been a single year’s passing since it had been used.  From such a distance it was of little use to her, hence the blade had become blunted.  In the mountains that she left, there had been intrusions, events that had come to pass that were far from her control.  The will that she could not bend darkened the forest even more than she thought possible.  Her sons, who stayed behind, had seen a side of human nature that no child should ever see.  It was time to stop the madness.  Her youngest son, in particular, needed protection that she could not provide from that distance.

She stood, testing the strength in her arm. That, too, had become soft, but the memory of how to rule her kingdom was etched in her fibers, ready to be summoned at will.  And now that time had come.  He was coming home.

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Had it only been one year?  He scrubbed his hand over his face.  So much had happened in that time, most of which he’d rather forget.  They’d be safe, she told them, until she prepared the way and summoned them, but no sooner had she left, than the shadow awoke.  Without his mother’s protective energy, the darkness filled the crevices of the forest, threatening to steal his soul.  The landscape had changed in a few short weeks after she had left.  No longer were there stable paths lined with hope and promises of a beautiful tomorrow.  The footing had become unpredictable, with no clear vision of what the next moment might hold.

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If it were not for the quiet hum of her lingering energy pulsating beneath his feet, he would have fallen many moons ago.  Oftentimes he would press his cheek to the ground and weep, struggling to drink in the light that she had left behind.

The shadow had raised its head time and time again, lashing out at him, crying out for her.  Their savior, their strength.  So far away.

The villagers converged and surrounded him, took him away, and offered protection when she could not.  Though kind and generous, ‘twas not enough. He missed the connection, however frayed and blackened the threads were, for it was all he knew.  Little by little he found his way back to the forest edge.  But nothing had changed.  The never-ending pulsating force still beat strong. Too many nights he sat, watching from afar as the shadow sat alone, tipping his head back, letting loose a soul-crushing howl, so full of sorrow, pain, and loneliness.

“It is not what we once knew,” his older brother said one night.

He clung to his brother, his only ally in the unrecognizable terrain. Though not much older, he still exuded stability and comfort.

“The forest is deceiving,” he continued to say. “The shadow hides well within the darkness.  No, little brother.  It is beyond repair now, and I would have you stay with me.”

So his brother led him away that very night.

“I miss her,” he said, blinking back the pain in his heart.

“As do I, but we will be as one, until we unite with her again.”

Displaced from the home they knew, they ventured out, and took to honing their skills of survival.  Left to fend for themselves, their minds and shoulders broadened with seeking the truth and wielding their swords.  No longer thin and timid, together they became a force to behold.

At long last, the summoning arrived.  Settled now into his routine, he looked around.  Could he truly leave everything and everyone behind?  It had become a place he so desperately wished to escape, yet so desperately wanted to remain.  He was strong now.  He had proved that to himself.  He could stay.  But there was no choice.  She had made that decision for him.

With heavy feet and saddened hearts, they walked together to the portal that would take him home.

“You’ve always been there for me,” he said.

“And will always be there for you.”

They clasped forearms and stood awkwardly for a few moments before pulling each other into an embrace.

“You behave yourself, little brother.  Do not give her trouble.”

He swiped his sleeve across his eyes.  “When will you join us?”

“As soon as I can,” his brother said, ruffling his hair. “I promise.”

He nodded.  A shuddering breath and quivering lip betrayed his confidence.

“Go.  She is waiting.”

Grasping the hilt of his sword, he was ready to face the adventure before him.  There he would learn of different clans, different languages, a new way of life, completely leaving behind all that he has known.

The portal shimmered before him.  His mother, the pillar in his life, stood on the other side, her image steadfast through the wavering fabric of worlds.  A smile that promised a different path for him encouraged him onward.  A smile that reminded him of her comfort, her strength, and that he would not be fighting battles alone.

Her arms extended into a welcoming gesture, beckoning him to join her.  His shoulders squared in response, for though he was eager to see her, he was too old, too changed for such emotional release.  Taking one step forward, he stoically reined in the feelings that unexpectedly bubbled to the surface.  A sense of urgency swirled in his legs and feet and the corners of his mouth lifted against his will.  The burden of the past, the nights of burning tears melted away into a lightness he had not known since he was a child.

He turned to his brother and removed his scabbard from his waist.  “I won’t need this anymore,” he said, handing his sword to his brother.  “I’m going home.”

He stepped through the portal and quickened his footsteps until he found himself surrounded by his mother’s arms.

She looked to the portal and held out her hand, a question forming on her lips.

Her oldest smiled through simmering eyes and shook his head.

“Soon, Mama.  Soon.”

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The Path…Interrupted

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The path had been washed clear a fortnight before by the season’s first gentle rains, and in the days that followed, the spring’s warmth absorbed any hint of dampness that would cling to her feet.  She could find no fault with her path or her duties as Guardian, and though optimistic, she remained vigilant, anticipating what she could not see.

A sudden wind stirred the grass and an unmistakable rumble rolled beneath her feet.  The ground shook and dread fell from the trees.  Her pace quickened to match the beat of her heart, but where to turn, she did not know.

The shadow loomed to engulf her, the forewarning she knew too well.  She did not have time to change her footing, as the beast came at her vicious and strong, tackling her from behind, forcing her to taste the harsh reality of her choices.

Not willing to relive yet another blow, she scrambled to her feet, but slipped.

Thick, oily, green-gray mud bubbled up from between the cracks on the once smooth path, through the seams she had spent years of her life mending.

The blue sky swirled with fear and darkened to a toxic hue, then unloosed its watery fury, pelting her with shards of wet, gleaming steel.  Her shoulders hunched against the pain as each stab created divots in her armor.  With cold and shaking hands, she swiped at them uselessly.

Footsteps approached.  Some fast, some slow, but she recognized each one. They’d always been there, surrounding her, urging her forward.  Never had they allowed her to falter or lose sight of her task.  Normally she basked in their presence, but now she dare not look up, for she did not want them to see the uncertainty in her eyes.  The need to run and claim to the menacing skies “Let me be!  I am not as strong as you believe!” exploded from her cells, howling for release.

Wisps of light circled her, hovering only moments until she closed her eyes in surrender.  Blue-white heat grazed atop her damaged armor, the depressions filling in and strengthening her with resolve.  Tears spilled, but quickly evaporated in the knowing that the path before her, though flooded with sludge, was solid.

With each step her load lightened and the curve of her back disappeared.  Instead of studying the ground before her, seeing only the small section of the path, she stood tall and faced the beast that now stood before her.  She grasped the hilt of her sword, ready to strike it down.

Its eyes were rimmed with sadness, but could easily have been mistaken for anger.

She paused.  The air stilled around her, quiet as the impending death, and with ancient eyes watching the slow movement of her thoughts, she drew her sword from its sheath and held it steady at her side.  Her fingers twitched, anxious for a reason.

The great beast’s gaze slid down the length of the sword and held fast at the deadly tip.  Its bristly hairs stood on end.  It slowly raised its head, the sadness in its eyes replaced with venom that spilled over and trickled down its time-worn cheeks.

Her armor did little good when he looked at her in that vile way.  She knew it was time.  Time to leave the forest behind, lest he draw the light from within her heart that she held so close. One step back, one last look, before she turned.

“Why do you leave?” the beast roared, its pain-soaked voice ripping through the thin fabric that cloaked her soul.

She slowly turned, her hand once again tightening on her sword.  Whispers penetrated her mind, a reminder of her strength.

“Why do you stay?” she asked.

“The forest is dark.”

“The meadow is light.”

They stood, face to face, bound together by time long past, a bond neither could break.

“I cannot go where you lead.”  The words spilled from their lips in eerie harmony, entwining like the overgrown vines suffocating the abandoned forest they once shared.

She shook her head.  There was no more for her there, and though she found a bit of relief, the sadness grew inside.  Sadness for the beast who will never know peace.  Sadness for herself, for neither will she.

It Never Rains In Southern California…

Perhaps that’s true, but the tears still flow – for joy, for fear, for sadness, for guilt – and it all stems from breaking out of my comfort zone, headed toward new paths, leaving behind that which I knew so well.  The urge to go back is strong at times.  Some days I feel like I’m in over my head, swimming in unfamiliar waters.  It can be scary at times and exhilarating at others.

 This journey that started a few months ago has been an odd mix of freedom and bondage.  I’ve had the freedom to pursue goals in Los Angeles with the determination of a locomotive, yet a part of me is still tied to old habits and beliefs I embraced in Idaho.  If you can imagine that one… yeah, I’m feeling like an emotional Gumby being pulled apart.  

I ain’t gonna lie. It hurts terribly to be apart from my boys. This time away from them stretches my emotional boundaries farther than I ever thought possible.  Those days when my boys text me “I miss you :(” are the hardest on my heart.  I battle the “being there now” versus the “paving the road for a better parent, a better me, a better future for us all.”  But the same guilt that causes me to pause and question my reasoning is the same guilt that motivates me to push forward.  It’s a guilt that won’t let me stop until I fulfill the promises I’ve made.  And quickly.

~“Strong is what happens when you run out of weak.” ~

I’m much stronger now, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  The softer edges have once again sharpened, but in a different way.  I’m decisive and quick to rid myself of that which doesn’t serve me anymore.  Every moment is motion forward.  And when the time is right for my boys, they’ll walk beside me, albeit on their path, and hopefully I’ll have done one or two things that they can learn from.

Besides… I can’t turn back, because I know too much.  I know I have focus.  I know I have perseverance.  I know I won’t cave under pressure.  I know that by stepping out of my comfort zone, I’m expanding the boundaries exponentially.  I know “fear” is no longer a part of my vocabulary.  I know I can step into the thick of things and figure it out.  I know what I’m capable of by the progress I’ve made and the people I’ve met.  I’ve seen the true me.  It’s the me I want to show my boys.  It’s the me I want to show the world.

Hang on, because the ride is far from over…

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The Wake Up Call, The Kick in the Ass, and The Silver Lining

I never thought it would happen to me, but there it was. I had known about it for six months, but assumed I could right the sails and keep the boat afloat.  I got caught up in what many families are facing:  The end to a well-paying, long-term job.  During those six months, like a cornered animal, I got a tad cranky.  I felt threatened.  After 18 years of working in my bunny slippers, with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine in hand, I had a wake up call. One I didn’t want to answer.

I was about to be thrown out of my comfort zone and into the world of *gulp* job hunting.

Which wasn’t easy. Especially in this small town where professional jobs are at a minimum and the lines are long for the rest of the jobs that open up. Small towns are awesome.  Small towns create a sense of belonging. I love knowing everyone at the bank or the grocery store. I love the fact that one of our busiest streets really isn’t so busy after all.

But none of that matters when the well runs dry, when I’m faced with decisions, when I feel like a failure.  A new plan was needed fast.  The more I thought about it, the more I looked at the circumstances, the choice was clear.  I needed to look outside of this town.

If I were to be honest, I’d been feeling as if my wheels were spinning and that I forgot who I was – still.  I’d been talking about a finding new direction for awhile, but since I was swimming in my comfort zone, I had no reason to get out of the pool.  Well, guess what.  Losing my job was the kick in the ass that I needed to move forward.

What I hadn’t counted on, though, was that I would be going at this alone. The boys and I had been a tight unit and I assumed we’d move together. But ‘twas not to be.  They wanted to stay with their father in Idaho for their own reasons. Reasons I understood, but still I felt I failed on many levels. Was I that bad of a mother that they didn’t want to be with me? Shouldn’t I sacrifice a few more years and stay here just in case they needed me? How much would this hurt them in the long run?

Infused with guilt, I spoke with my uncle who reminded me that, in the face of knowing we would miss each other, would miss the routine we’ve developed over the years, both boys made a very deliberate decision.  Sure, they could have taken the easy way out and followed me, looking to me to handle things, but I’ve taught them to be free thinkers and to make choices based on what they felt was best for them.  It had always been my intention to pass at least one morsal of something to them, and here I had my proof.

Feeling somewhat better, I chose to practice what I preach:  Do something that is best for me.  After putting my needs on hold for 25 years, now is my chance to follow opportunities that will further my choice of career. Opportunities I cannot find here in North Idaho.

I want to show my boys a side of me they haven’t yet seen before – the woman who waited patiently behind the mother.  I want my sons to see me as a healthy and successful person, not the overbearing, overprotective mama bear who pushed them to realize heights I knew they were capable of, all while I was feeling frustrated because I wasn’t reaching my own potential.  I want to be the best person I can be, to show them that my happiness is as important as theirs. My reasons for doing this, as painful as the process might be, will serve them as well as me.

And the timing is right.  My job had allowed me to work from home for the last 18 years and over those almost two decades I’ve seen my oldest through to graduation and my youngest get through middle school.  I’ve taught them as many life lessons as I have experienced myself, taught them social graces, and how to be kind to others.  Now the rest is up to them.

Yes, I’ll definitely miss the little things, the daily routine, the chance to hug them when they’re feeling sad or happy, but through Skype, texting, phone calls, and Facebook, I’ll still be able to nag – I mean, guide – them through the trials and successes and celebrations big and small. The moments we share will be sweeter, the visits will be anticipated events.

The silver lining to all of this is that I will have the opportunity to discover who I am and what I need to feel whole, because when we become mothers and wives, so many of us lose sight of ourselves.  It’s a continuous process, one I started two years ago. I have a very specific plan A, with no plan B, so there won’t be any falling back.  Only forward movement. By expanding my horizons outside of this town, I will be able to bring more of the world to the boys.  It’s the put-on-the-oxygen-mask-first-before-putting-it-on-the-children mentality.

My uncle also told me, “Go ahead and feel guilty if you must, but it would be a mistake not to try.”

So try, I will.

This song, The Reason, by Hoobastank, is for you, boys. You are my reason.  I love you.

If You Let Them Go, They’ll Stick Around

I had no idea that the gap that launched me into single status could possibly get any wider. I can see now, though, how inevitable it would be, for as I kept taking steps backward, slowly turning away from the disaster my life had become, and finally running like hell, my scenery changed, my viewpoint cleared, and my vision sharpened.  I found myself standing in a place my ex would never understand.  The rules regarding school work, curfew, healthy eating – the rules that united, albeit loosely, the ex and I together – soon became the mother of all disagreements.

Seventeen years ago, as part of my efforts to be the “perfect” mom, I adopted other women’s examples of what raising children “should be,” even if it didn’t resonate with me.  Man, was that exhausting.  I had rules up the wazoo and fought to keep them in place.  And the boys fought back.

But eight months ago the blinders dropped to my feet and I found that I had forgotten to preach what I practiced.  The solution was so simple.

Let them be.

Which is exactly how I prefer to be treated.  I don’t want anyone telling me what to do or telling me what path to choose, so why should I do that to my boys?  Sure, my body may be older, but my children’s souls are just as experienced as mine.   These boys aren’t mine in the possession sense.  From a spiritual point of view, I don’t have the right to put borders around their spirits and make them the exact image that society or even I believe to be true.   I’m here to guide them, not mold them.  They know who they need to be.  Besides, what a waste of time when quite possibly after 18 years, they’re going to do and be what they want anyway.  I know I did.

It is my belief that we come into this existence knowing what our life path is.  The road map has already been printed up, although our free will sometimes overrides that map and takes us on some wild side trips.   When we truly deviate off that path,though, it doesn’t go unnoticed.  Don’t we feel the discord when we want to go one direction and someone tries to convince us otherwise? Especially if the only source of righteousness is in their own mind?  Or what about compromising on something we truly believe in?

My mother pushed me to go to college because it was what I “should” do, yet all I did was spin my wheels, lost a lot of brain cells, and ran up a student loan that never should have been.  Besides, halfway through the first year I realized I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up.  This is one area I won’t push my boys on.  No amount of lecturing is going to make this the right choice for them.  True motivation must come from them.  Otherwise it becomes my job to keep them going, a burden that will have us both resentful.

In the months past, I’ve gotten a clearer view of who my boys really are.  Without the shoulds masking their true source, I’ve been able to appreciate their way of thinking.  I’m beginning to understand what makes them tick and why they don’t fit into the boxes I’ve been trying to put them in.

Sex, drinking, drugs, school, safety, curfew – those are issues I will never compromise on.  Honestly, though, I have no control over their ultimate decisions on those topics, but I’ve made damn sure they know what the consequences are if they deviate from my “recommendations.”  So, armed with that information, it’s their decision as to what outcome they desire.

Some may think this is the wrong approach or the lazy way to parent, but it is actually very difficult at times.  To stand back and watch their actions put in motion a set of reactions (whether they be mine or someone else’s) makes me want to peek out from behind splayed fingers.  It’s nothing short of a challenge to stay back and let them do damage control.  On the flip side, when they are really thinking it out and the outcome is in their favor?  It’s awesome.

It felt good to finally release the ties, because forcing the boys to do what they clearly do not want to do didn’t resonate with what I was all about – freedom of choice and independence. I’ve let my boys make choices of when to go to sleep (though the connection between late nights and being tired the next day still hasn’t sunk in), meals, what school classes to take, and friends.  As long as safety isn’t an issue and they’re not hurting others, I’m good.

Which might explain why they gravitate to me and not to the “other.”  That “coolness” factor I seem to have with the boys and their friends is, I believe, actually the elation they experience when they connect with who they are.

Think about the people we tend to gravitate toward – those who speak to and understand our souls.  Not those who contradict or repress our fires, but those who stoke it, feed it, and encourage it to rise.

My boys’ path is their own.  I’ll be there to dust off their knees, put a band-aid on a broken heart, give them advice on hangover cures, and I’ll give them room to fly, because they’ll need it to get over the Grand Canyon-size crevasse of thought that yawns between “the other half” and me.

Looking For Love In All The Right Places

My childhood was fairly isolated.  I had no social life to speak of and only a couple of friends because my mother was terribly overprotective.  I was even isolated from extended family.  My dad wasn’t fond of my mom’s side of the family, so my brothers and I were effectively cut off from cousins and aunts and uncles.  We’d go years without speaking to them.  It was pretty pathetic.

I grew up, but outside of my wild college days (when I made up for lost time), my life continued to be isolated, especially a few years after getting married.  Not by choice, mind you, but there was work, family, and more work, expectations, and mistakes that took precedence over a social life.

I fell into a rut.  Working at home made the isolation even worse.  I could go days without leaving the house.  I never had a chance to make new friends.

And even though my father wasn’t around to forbid me from calling my cousins, I didn’t try to rekindle those relationships (please forgive me Toria and Maria!).   I figured since they all lived so far from me, how could I develop a relationship over the phone or through email?  It just wasn’t the same as seeing them in person.  I avoided reaching out because, if I wasn’t going to do it right, I wasn’t going to do it at all.

That was before July 2011.  After July 2011?  A totally different story.

So what changed for me?

This week I’m blog-sitting for Elena Aitken (one of my cyber sistas) while she’s on vacay.  I’m headed over to her blog right now to finish this discussion and I’d love for you all to follow me over there because I want to tell you all about how I’ve come to appreciate the beauty of having cyber friends…

A Nasty That Can’t Be Cured With Penicillin

You know what it is.  Sometimes it’s hereditary, sometimes it’s picked up from the environment we’re in.  It can be in the air, easily passed along from one person to another.  A lot of the time we’re scratching our head wondering where the hell it came from.  And it’s not gender specific.  Both male and female can be afflicted.

Though there are a few people in the human population who are immune to this, like, say Mother Teresa, most of us are able to steer clear of it, but even the toughest ones can fall prey.

Like me, for example.  I contracted a bout of this many years ago after being around someone with a similar affliction.  It was short-lived, fortunately, but from that day on, I’ve been diligent about keeping myself free and clear.

What is this Nasty?  Pure, undiluted Meanness.

The day it hit me, I had a slap-in-the-face reality check.  After some particularly choice words from my ex over the subject of laundry, of all things, I came back at him with a line so vile, so below the belt, both of our jaws dropped.  Neither of us could believe that I, one of the nicest people I know (okay, I’m in the top 100 of those I know), could have actually said what I did.  It was so out of character, so…so…not me.   All I could do was close my mouth and slink away.  I couldn’t even say I was sorry.  Because I had meant it at the time.  That was the part that shocked me – that I was even capable of saying something so hurtful.  Since that day I have kept my mind and mouth in check, because the look on my ex’s face will burn forever in my brain.

But what about others who do this on a constant basis?  Earlier this week some friends, including “T” from Give Me A Valium With My Latte, and I were talking and the conversation turned to women who were nasty, bitchy, and just plain mean.  We’re not talking about comments in the privacy of our own homes or amongst friends, but out-in-public mean – words intending to hurt, words that travel with such high velocity, they embed in others, compelling the receiver to “pay it forward,” or at least shoot it right back at the originator with intent to maim.  It has a ripple effect and unless we’re skilled at dodging that bullet (which few of us are), many of us tend to get defensive, ball up our fists, and get ready to throw the insults right back.

That is an example of a short-lived case, sort of like the flu or a cold.  As  soon as the offending person leaves our orbit, we’re back to our sweet selves.

I see that situation on a daily basis with my boys.  Separated, they are angels.  Together, I’m packing my bags, ready for a Tijuana run just to avoid their energy.  My oldest asked me once, “Mom, why is he so mean?”  I wanted to shake him into next week and ask, “What do you expect when you treat him the same way?”  But I didn’t.  We’d had that same conversation at least one hundred times.  There was no need to repeat it.  My words obviously weren’t going to be sinking in anytime soon.

Some people, unfortunately, are raised in that nasty kind of environment, so when they step out their front door, they are ready to face the world with a frown and a bad attitude.  They are the ones who suffer with chronic meanness.  They are the ones who have no intention of entering rehab.  They are the ones my friends and I were having a “discussion” about this week.

It’s sad, really.  Friends and family are alienated from our lives because of the words they choose to utter.  (My big brother and I, for example.)  Cultures are separated because of the inability to reach for a positive or grateful thought.

I’ve never understood the concept of being mean to one another, to purposely set out to dig under another’s skin until they bleed.  Perhaps it feeds the need to feel superior.  I don’t know.  Like I said.  I don’t get it.  “T” and I, along with many of my friends, prefer to live in a “no drama zone,” and I think that’s where I’m going to set up house.  Not only is it easier on the body, but just think how much money we’ll save in Botox injections.  Sheesh.

Okay, I Give Up

The life I give my boys is an outside-of-the-box kind of normal.  Our house is lovingly referred to as “The Pit Stop” as we are rarely there and when we are, it’s to sleep and grab a shower and perhaps a few Z’s before we head out the door again.  My erratic work and writing hours revolve around the boys’ equally erratic hours, shaped by their activities and sports.  And the time that we actually spend at home, we spend together, yet apart.  We have vastly different interests and temperments – I’m a hummingbird on speed, my oldest a little faster than a snail, and my youngest, somewhere in between.

I love reading, writing, exercising, yardwork…my boys don’t.

They adore Skyrim and Zelda…I don’t.

My oldest enjoys making decadent desserts.  My youngest enjoys eating decadent desserts…I don’t, on either count.

My oldest and I love watching movies…my youngest doesn’t.

My youngest and I love hiking…my oldest doesn’t.

That being said, I’ve tried to reverse things a bit and make it “normal,” but failed miserably every time, ignoring the fact that when I’d tried to do what other mothers and fathers did with their family lives, it felt wrong for me, felt wrong for us.

I’ve pushed the boys on eating habits, on school, teen-tude behavior, and all I got was a big shove back.  Not fun for either party involved.

Although rules and regulations are set in place, I gave up on trying to “be normal.”  And it was freeing, because I didn’t have to pretend anymore.  But skipping not too far behind that freedom was its annoying friend – guilt.  I thought I had it all figured out when I wrote the Girl Power post, but I still found myself looking at all of my friends, wondering if I was off base.  Shouldn’t I be playing board games or something?

I realized that trying to do what is “right”, for me anyway, is a lot like being a kite.  Flying freely, yet anchored by the shoulds of the string, I’d feel “normal” and “accepted.”

But when the kite string is released, the more visible my free falling or “different” behavior is. While it’s kind of cool to do the rebel yell thing, there is a moment of ahh…damn…should I really be doing this?

I’ve come to the conclusion certain things aren’t going to happen – it just doesn’t work for us, no matter how hard I try.   So one day after sweeping up the pieces of my latest attempts, I sat the boys down and said, “Listen.  There is no ‘normal’ here.  Our routine is just what happens as the day unfolds.  We may not bond over playing catch, but we can bond while we do the Warrior Dash.  I may not bake at Christmas time, but I’ll share a box of Oreo cookies with you.  I’ll even be there for you if you want a tattoo.  You know how completely unorthodox I am…”

My oldest had stopped me and said, “We know, Mom.  We like you that way.”

*Happy dance*  They know I love them, and that is the glue that keeps us together.  But then again, it could have been the Double Stuff Oreo cookies…

Why Should We Give Thanks Only On Thanksgiving?

Photo: thanksgivingwallpapers.blogspot.com

Why is there only one day out of the year that is dedicated to verbalizing how thankful we are?  Same thought with Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, Secretary’s Day, or Veterans Day.  What good is acknowledging someone or something one day and leaving to chance the other 364 days of the year?

Don’t get me wrong.  I love holidays and all of those special days that are set aside to showcase a certain someone or something in our lives.  It’s a great reason to hug each other and have parties and buy cool stuff for others.

But what has always bothered me was that the specialness of it all was confined to 24 hours.  For example, the day before Mother’s Day my boys would be in their usual form of…well, being themselves. Then on Mother’s Day, they’d turn into perfect little angels the one day that all mothers get the day off from chores, cooking, cleaning, and if lucky, get taken out to dinner, only to find that it’s business as usual the next day.  It’s a great big bone thrown to us mothers just to keep us going until the next year.  Personally, I’d like to see Mother’s Day be celebrated everyday, but I would settle for once a week.

Now from November 1, when the stores start filling their aisles with Christmas stuff, when most of us get warm fuzzies and show extra love to our family and hug our neighbors, until the evening of December 25, the feeling of gratitude does prevail.  It’s a beautiful and uplifting experience.  I only wish that the feeling would go beyond the holiday season.

And I’m thinking Hallmark and boxed chocolate companies would make a hell of a lot more money if they would promote this idea of gratitude and giving all year round.

Photo: thenibble.com

I must say, though, that there are a lot of people who already put this into practice – I see it all the time on social sites such as Facebook, and that’s awesome!  They are all way ahead of the game.  They know that giving gratitude every day (or at least the majority of the time) only brings on more people, places, and situations for which to feel grateful for.

It’s easy to forget this in the face of life’s issues, but if we can remember to be grateful for at least one thing, one person, one experience every single day, it would be my guess the world would be a better place.  I know the effort that something like that takes better than anyone.  My days tend to pass in a blur and my head hits the pillow at the end of the day without an utterance of thanks, but it’s something I strive to remember every day.

Gratitude.

So, like everyone else, I’m being swept up in the season love.  I’m grateful for the events that have brought me back in touch with high school friends.  I’m eternally grateful for whatever inspired me to take Kristen Lamb’s blogging workshop which in turn gave me new friends from her classes (WANA sisters and big bro!) and new friends whose light I soak up in Twitterverse.  I’m grateful for my family, embracing cousins, aunts, and uncles, neighbors, and friends I have known since moving to this town.

My list of gratitude is long, as I’m sure yours is as well, so I’ll leave it at that for today.  Starting tomorrow, I’ll begin the list of 364 more.

Global Gratitude - Thank you, Universe

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!!