15 February 2014

Don't Miss This Opportunity

Yesterday, I found out why I've been experiencing muscle pain and muscle fatigue for the past several months: turns out I have a pretty severe Vitamin D deficiency.  How delightful that my inability to move is not a character flaw!  How delightful is health insurance!  How delightful that, with Vitamin D supplements on board, my children might remember me for something besides collapsing on my pillows!  I am so looking forward to feeling better.

This discovery is a good reminder that we should listen to our bodies.  I've been ignoring my collection of symptoms for a long, long time, assuming that it was just a matter of not getting enough rest, or just because I'm getting older, or just not important enough to pay attention to.  I would never have ignored the ongoing, chronic aches and pains of one of my children; why was I willing to ignore my own?

Think about your own body: are you ignoring anything that you maybe should give a little credence to?  Anything worth asking a doctor about?  Anything worth feeling better for?  Don't miss this opportunity.

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Yesterday, I read a New Yorker essay by Roger Angell* that moved me to tears.  (Updated: The link will take you to full article; The New Yorker posted it in its entirety today.)  So much of my day is occupied by keeping up with my computer and responding to my smart phone that I think some of those tears were due to spending a few minutes with the slick, weighted pages of a good magazine, but most of them were because Angell's writing is exquisite.  His ability to weave back and forth between the personal and the universal is captivating.  I miss reading and I miss writers, and I can't wait to read more and more and more.  Why and how did I ever lose that habit?

Think about your nightstand: does it hold books and magazines you have been meaning to read? Are you making time for Downton and Duck Dynasty but putting off Didion, Diaz or Dos Passos?  Is there anything there worth spending time with?  Don't miss this opportunity.

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Yesterday, while I was ranting on Facebook about mistakenly buying cilantro instead of parsley and being severely disappointed that I couldn't make the dinner I was planning, a family in San Diego was mourning the loss of a 20 year old son, killed while skateboarding by a young drunk driver who fled the scene.  I heard about it, mere moments after my silly FB post, from a friend of mine who knows the family.

There aren't really words for losing a child.  It's too painful to imagine or express.  So many things are unimportant, so many daily annoyances and inconveniences distract us from what really matters.  I read the article about the family: there was a photo of 7 or 8 of them, gathered on the beach facing a makeshift memorial of balloons and flowers.  They stood in a group, shoulder to shoulder, leaning and holding on to each other, keeping each other upright in their grief.  One of them was missing.  One of the people who belonged there was not there, could not help with the holding.

Think about your family and friends: who belongs there?  Are any of them missing?  Can you go grab one and hold him up for awhile?  Can one of them do the same for you?  Do you need to leave aside minor annoyances and tell someone you love them?  Don't miss this opportunity.

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*Thank you Kelly Corrigan, for the Twitter recommendation for Angell's essay.

14 February 2014

Bella Gets Her Wish


Once upon a time a princess lived. 

Her name was Bella.  Bella worked hard for what she wanted, which wasn’t very hard because she got whatever whenever she wanted. 

One day Bella saw normal children doing normal things getting dirty in the dirt.  She smiled.  She wished she could get dirty and laugh.  She always had to be clean and dainty.  She thought “Ick!”

“I hate being all dainty and pretty!” said Bella.  The next morning she woke up in a ordinary green house instead of a castle.  She went into her living room and found her parents but they were ordinary parents not dainty parents.  Bella smiled and thought “My wish came true!” For the rest of her life she will be normal and dirty not dainty, not clean, and not a princess, but a soccer player. 

The End.

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Why yes, we do live in a green house, as a matter of fact.  And yes, we are rather ordinary.  I love this kid's stories.  Here's one from several years ago: The Castle.

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05 February 2014

Kelly Corrigan Has Great Timing


15 years into the parenting "adventure" and some of the shine has worn off the rose just a bit.  Because this?  Is hard.  Really, really hard.

We, my husband and I, are trying to raise people.  Human beings who will hopefully one day be happy, successful (in whatever way is important to them), and kind.

I want them to remember childhood fondly.
I want them to be strong and moral.
I want them to help others.

But first, I want them to clean their rooms and do their homework.  And maybe -- as a bonus -- maybe not look for new and creative ways to torture their siblings.

And that's what's so damn hard, that I know there is a connection between doing homework and helping others later in life, I just know there is, but it's not rational, and it's not linear, and it's messy and complicated, and I cannot for the life of me figure out just what kind of parent I am.

On good days, I know that parenting is art, not science.  On bad days, I'm just sure I'm screwing up on a grand scale.

So Kelly Corrigan, this reflection arrived in my in-box at a great time, a time when I needed to know that other people flip the bird to a retreating child's back too.  (Did you see me do that, that one time, Ms. Corrigan??)

Art and adventure.  And well written words to sustain us.  Thank you, from my little corner of the trenches.

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