Tag Archives: parents

The branch and the tree

We’ve all heard that rusty old adage about the branch not falling far from the tree, but most of us were made from two trees. When you look deep inside yourself, do you see more of your mom or your dad? When you look on the surface of yourself, the physical traits, maybe the ‘you’ that you reveal to the outside world, do you see mama tree or papa tree? For whatever reason, during my morning meditation, my mind got stuck in this fascination, so much so that I started seeing everyone in my with their own bodies and their parents’ faces. It should be say that my mind is supposed to be clear for meditation and I take no drugs whatsoever.;)

My dad was the ‘people’ person of my parents. My mom also was a people person, but on a quieter less severe scale. Dad would do just about anything to make people laugh and he always wanted to rescue people & lift them up, even if sometimes there situations were much to heavy & they weren’t helping themselves. ‘That sounds a whole lot like me’ I think (outloud). And it does! Those are wonderful traits that can also be terrible traits when you allow yourself to fall too deeply into other peoples’ pits. Take that pit as a pun, if you want. As it is, I have completely and unintentionally duplicated my dad’s ‘good samaritan’ side, so much so that it almost destroyed me on numerous occasions. It turns out that dad’s ‘coat off his back’ looked better on him than on me.

Don’t get me wrong. I am Christian. I strive to be like Jesus every day, but I am trying to be more like the man and less like his shoes. Shoes always end up falling apart.

My mom was the ‘strong’ person of my parents. She was the spirit that held our family together. She was my ‘little voice’, and the reason I made so many of the right choices I’ve made in my life. Don’t get me wrong. My mom was extremely generous too. She would let people come back and work for the company more times than I would’ve ever thought to. She had more confidence than she ever let on, but sometimes her pride would fail her. She trusted until you gave her a reason not to, and she believed that everyone should be treated fairly and equally. She was one of the least judgemental people I ever knew and she believed that everyone should have a fighting chance at success. I like to think that I follow in her foot steps. I like to think I landed close to her tree too.

I honestly feel that most of our branches that have fallen close to both of our trees. We got through life, get buried with burden, survive and bloom and grow. That’s how life goes. Some of us were blessed with two amazing parents, whether they remained together or not.

I was blessed in that sense. While my dad was just on this eart for 44 years, and mom for 64, they squeezed more love into their short lives than I can fully comprehend, which is why I am happy that this branch did not fall far from her trees, that I can still see the forest, and that growth is forever possible even after older trees die out.

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Orbiting Onlies

What happens when two onlies date? Studies show that it’s not a good idea. How could two ‘onlies’ be compatible, afterall, when we’re so self-absorbed and self-reliant? How could two people raised in separate families where they didn’t have to compete for attention, didn’t have to share their toys with anyone, didn’t have to share their rooms or beds with anyone learn to get along with each other? Sounds logical enough, but only if you also subscribe to the idea that only children will never marry, will never actively participate in a successful relationship with anyone. Period.

In my experience, other only children truly ‘get’ me in a way that others do not. I’m a sharer to a fault, and maybe  because I’m told by the world that I’m not supposed to be. I have an incredible relationship with a man that is also an only, and is exactly the same way. He is thoughtful beyond anyone I’ve ever known. My best friend is also an only. She has become like a ‘soul sister’ to me in our sixteen year friendship. There is  nothing she can say or do that will change that. We’ve been through our hard times only to learn that nothing can penetrate our bond.  Over the years, I have built relationships with other onlies who I have also had the pleasure of getting to know, and truthfully, I’ve never felt quite as accepted as I have with other only children.

My boyfriend and I have known each other for 20 years, but only have grown to truly know each other for the past two. We spent that time in other relationships, while at the same time building our own friendship based on an understanding that we had this one huge thing in common. As onlies, we have discussed the possibility of starting an ‘only’ support group because we have felt misunderstood at times, and everyone needs a place of refuge. When people have siblings, they have someone that shares memories of their childhood from a perspective very different from that of our parents, whereas as onlies we ‘only’ have our parents with which to share those stories.

My mom was my best friend for many years before her passing last year. She and my stepdad were my world outside of my two sons. I took solace in them when the world seemed to sit squarely on my shoulders. I always knew they had my back, and I could relate to them as well as confide. Now, as an ‘orphan’ I have felt lost at times. No one on the planet remembers my whole life anymore, which makes me feel a little more lonely than I did. So having other onlies that I’m already close to makes the loneliness a little less pronounced, because of one beautiful word: Acceptance.

When I become weird, which I often do, about things like numbers, dates, emotional triggers, I don’t worry about whether or not I will be patronized or that my concerns will be belittled. In reality, I have a huge family of other onlies that share in my struggles and relate to my challenges. I have a built-in support group quite similar to what siblings have. All that I have to do is keep the lines of communication open enough to receive that support. And really, isn’t that all any of us needs to do?

This world can feel lonely, whether we’re onlies or not. All it truly takes is a little bit of trust and sharing to find that none of us are lonely after all.

When I grow up I want to be young

The grass isn’t the only thing that’s always greener on the other side. It’s true with age stuff too. How many times do you hear a preschooler ask for a nap? Probably about as often as a preschooler turns down candy. Yet if I had time to nap every day, I would carry a nap mat around like it were my purse so that any time I had 10 or 20 minutes of pause, I could close my eyes & catch a snooze.

Another case in point is demeanor. When we’re in middle school and high school, the more quiet, pouty and mysterious you act, the cooler you are. Whereas, at 37, I tend to favor the opposite kinds of people. Basically, the more transparent, ‘real’, and positive you are, the more I gravitate toward you. At this point in life, I’ve had more mystery than I can solve, and while experience has taught me loads of valuable lessons, I choose to learn from life rather than from people trying to manipulate me.

So many of my friends in high school had fake IDs so that they could get into clubs, buy smokes, or just pose as ‘older and cooler’ in general…because to be older WAS to be cooler. Now, not so much. If I get carded for beer, I am elated. I talk about it for weeks on end, and go back to the same cashier numerous times just to see if she ever catches on to my little fantasy.

Being classified as a ‘nerd’ when I was in high school was just about as low as one could fall in the social cliche hierarchy culture of my generation. The movie Can’t Buy Me Love wasn’t very far from reality. Nerds were happy, yes. But happy was bad. Hence the whole ‘mystery’ thing (see above).  If we had only looked into the future and seen that ‘nerds’ would end up ‘ruling the world’ just as our parents had predicted!

Which brings me to one of the biggest wrinkles are greener comparisons…(what?); parents. Will Smith of ‘Fresh Prince’ told us that Parents Just Don’t Understand. The Beastie Boys taught us that parents were nothing more than party poopers. What they didn’t tell us was that our parents were the smartest people on the planet, and these people should be revered, respected, admired, and above everything else  LISTENED TO!!! I for one, especially recognized this after becoming a mom myself. She told me to nap when my baby napped. Check! She said ‘the more calm you remain during your child’s fits, the quicker he will calm down’. Check! She said so many things that were spot on, and that’s because she had already been there, done that. I mean, my mom also said ‘eat your veggies’, to which I turned up my nose and acted as if I were gagging. Veggies weren’t cool. Chocolate was cool.

At 37, veggies are indeed cool. The more healthy we eat, the more purely we nourish our bodies, the cooler we are. It’s amazing, and it’s just like our parents predicted. Or did they? Weren’t they really just giving us the gift of their own experience?

The thing about experience is that it absolutely cannot be borrowed, shared, or re-gifted – not effectively anyway. If we do not experience the pain or emotion involved in the ‘learning’, the lesson is just…well, a textbook – which is the same as saying that we get our definitions from a dictionary, when it’s really Wikipedia. Or saying that  we need to search the phone book, when really Google already knows everything with just the click of a button.

So we should think of our parents as Google, and think of age as a search engine. The older we grow the uglier we become. At least most of us do. With wrinkles in the skin comes also facets in the brain; experiences that become knowledge; lessons that become wisdom – until we become our parents.

The grass is not only greener on the older side, it also has more weeds, which also means more possiblities of finding a four leaf clover. Take it for what it is. Take it for what it is not. Growth is as green as we need it to be. Age is simply power; plain, simple, and infinite.

 

 

What’s Under Where?

Six year olds. They’re funny little creatures, constantly dabbling in the humor pool even though they can’t yet swim in the deep. Mine came home with a real side-splitter today. He said, ‘Mom what’s under there?’. I mindlessly answered, ‘What’s under where?’, to which he could barely articulate his punch line through the belly laughs… ‘UNDERWEAR!!!’.

Of course, I responded in the typical parental way. I mustered a chuckle & rolled my eyes unenthusiastically. It may have been humorous had I not been (at the same exact time of his telling) running a chicken race, from stove & oven, to grill, to dryer, to pulling the dog out of the trash again & cleaning up wrapper trails strategically strewn through the house. Ahhhh. At least we all ate a good well balanced dinner; all three people and one victorious Hayley dog with an olive oil glued green bean beard. Hey, all girls need accessories!

This is a typical day, with typical humor, typical dog behavior, and typical mommy eye rolls. Yesterday was not. Yesterday was one of those grumpy days that we all have, but no one wants to admit to having, especially when we’re on a pursuit of happiness. Whether we admit to them or not, however, they’re bound to happen. I’ve posted before about changing our thoughts, or the wording of our thoughts, so that we feel the hopefulness instead of the hopelessness of a situation. Today, I’m back to agreeing with that strategy. Yesterday, there was absolutely no jumping over the hurdle of negativity to get there. It was simply too high, and only one thing can explain such insurmount-ability; the wrong side of the bed.

That’s what’s under there. Under where? Under the bed. That’s where my thankfuls landed yesterday. I write five of them before touching the first foot to the ground each day. Usually, I carry them with me along with all the other baggage. Yesterday, I must have dropped them.

At least I remembered my underwear. For that I am both thankful and humored, which is where my six year old finally rolls his eyes.

 

 

 

 

Momentum Monotony

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Chills in the air that only hot showers, long treadmill runs, and coffee can defrost, are more than I care to experience this winter. Of course, I shouldn’t complain. I live in East Tennessee, and our cold seasons would be considered balmy tropical fronts compared to Northern climates. Still, the older I get, and the more crotchety my bones grow, the less tolerance I muster in the season of bluster.

After 12 hours of Christmas shopping over the past weekend, and 200 Christmas cards mailed in the last few days, I am feeling a little more Grinch and a little less Tiny Tim than normal. I’ve almost given up my spirit of giving. My patience has become impatient, and Ethan’s elf-on-the-shelf has lost her creativity. In fact, she seems to have forgotten for several nights, that she’s supposed to travel up to Santa and return to our home in a new spot each morning for Ethan’s finding pleasure.

But the momentum of this Christmas adventure began with ambitious intentions. My mom and my mamaw were both Christmas nuts. I don’t mean the kind you eat or the kind found in holiday fruitcakes. They were fruitcakes, but that’s what made Christmas fun. Somehow, without both of them here to motivate me into frosty-rudolph celebration, I felt even more determined to do everything they did for the holidays; to make sure that my children had the same experiences I had as an excited and enthusiastic child. So now with 6 days left to go before Christmas, I am severely and sadly burned out. My twinkle has lots its sparkle, and my spritely spirit has lost its luster. But my favorite Christmas memory keeps me plugging along like the reindeer guiding Santa Claus’s sleigh, and I know that I can’t lose sight with that blinding glow of Rudolph’s red.

Many many years ago, my parents and I took a trip, as we traditionally did, up North to visit my grandparents. On our journey, we encountered a blizzard like I had never seen. I remember that the world was white, even though the night was dark. I couldn’t see my mittens or my boots for the creamy drifts that buried my seven-year-old self. The interstate closed, and we were forced to spend Christmas eve in a tiny little hotel room.

All I could think about was how would Santa ever find me there. My determined father hung one of his tube socks, white with two red stripes, from a shelf in our room. I left a couple of twinkies, and a cup of water, complete with a hand-written letter telling Santa exactly what I wanted. I remember lying there, waiting for sleep to carry me away, and wondering if this magical man would know that we were stranded, and that this was the best I could do.

To my surprise, when I awakened the next morning, I found every single gift I had asked for, along with a stuffed tube sock still hanging with bulging candy, oranges, and hairbows. I was ecstatic. Although we had no tree in that cold dark room, the spirit of Christmas filled the air, and overflowed into my little doubtful heart in a way that still moves me to this day. I still have no idea how they pulled it off, but it doesn’t matter. They did pull it off, and my faith in Christmas was restored.

My wish this Christmas is that my childrens’ faith is restored the same as mine was so long ago; that they understand that, while obstacles can and will try and crush our faith, miracles can and do happen. After a year of losing ‘grandma’, and missing out on summer travels and fun, their spirit of Christmas carries me through just as my parents’ spirit did on that stranded Christmas morning, and it was restored entirely in that crazy eighties tube sock.

 

 

 

 

Lost ship

It’s been one of those days. I woke up without wanting to. I crawled to the shower, scrubbed, shampooed, shaved, and dried off without singing. Singing just makes it worse sometimes. Going through the motions has to happen. There is no choice in this. I am grateful. Yes. I try that; starting my thank-you’s each day before the first foot hits the cold floor. Mostly that works. It starts the engine and the wheels of gratitude begin to turn. Then there are days when that voice inside shrinks to a whisper.

Missing mom, missing those that are no longer here, is at times unbearable.

Because I run a company that she built, drive a car that she bought, and live in a home that was once hers, means that at every turn I am faced with her memory, or rather her legacy. Today was my first huge challenge as a small business owner. My newest employee was accused of theft and I had to let her go. I wanted to find a nice cool cave somewhere. I wanted to curl up and sleep. I wanted to call mom and ask her what I needed to do. But since none of those things were real possibilities, I handled it.

That doesn’t make me superwoman, it just makes me responsible. I’m responsible for the jobs of 9 girls right now (when it should be 12 girls). I’m responsible for making sure that 130 houses get cleaned every month, and the even bigger challenge of making sure two boys are loved and guided every day. On days like this, that seems like too much.

In truth, however, it’s not too much as long as I realize that I can ask for help. Sometimes it’s enough just to know that I can vent or have a small breakdown on someone’s shoulder. And sometimes that someone is an employee. But employees are like children in the sense that they learn from you, in how you react to adversity, and how you pull yourself together and carry on instead of throwing in the towel.

So as much as I feel like a lost ship sometimes, I learned today that I may be just that. But also that I may be a lost ship with lots of rescue boats surrounding me. I just have to let them know that I’m out there and need help. This isn’t an easy task for onelies because we tend to believe we can take it all on. Pride takes over and sinks us sometimes. But humility, the sheer recognition of our limitations, can rescue us from ourselves, and guide us back to that island where no man (or woman) stands alone.1339301066156