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good tidings of great joy

15 Dec

The first requirement (or would it be a goal?) of successful parenting is the survival of the parent.

I really dislike whining.  Just ask my children.  And my friends.  And so I have lost patience with me and my sorry emotional state.  I tell myself to buck up.  You wanted them to be in Nutcracker.  You love Ambleside and its drop-dead gorgeous Christmas worship service.  You love three year-olds wearing reindeer antlers and snowman overalls.  You are thrilled that St. Luke’s sanctuary is standing room only when a few years ago enrollment was precipitously low.  Preschoolers singing “Up on the Housetop” with hand motions makes you weep tears of sentimental joy.  It’s that sehnsucht again.  Beauty has smiled again, but not necessarily at you.  Just in your presence, and now she’s gone.

The Lakeview auditorium is just beautiful and state of the art acoustically and for viewing.  Every seat is a front-row seat.  You love watching Helen Clare Kinney, home from Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto, dancing Sugarplum Fairy.  You loved watching her as a little girl as Clara.  It’s sheer poetic and artistic justice.  And, of course, years of dedication and training.  Whatever. It’s just lovelyto see.  You love that you have set boundaries and just said no to supervising the dressing rooms.  (even though you feel selfish doing so).  You love that you live in San Angelo, and that the furthest distance to the most remote hinterlands in Lakeview is still only about 10 miles away, if that.  You love that your boss has children in Nutcracker, too, and hasn’t fired you yet for poor job performance due to maternal exhaustion.  You are even secretly thrilled that the children’s father is away on a hunting trip and can’t exercise his visitation this week or attend any Nutcracker performances, because the children will be all yours during this very difficult and very rewarding week.

You have ALL THIS AND MORE to be happy about.  But sometimes, you still feel like crying.  In the dark at Nutcracker practice.  Is it the beauty of the dancers?  The dedication of even the littlest angels?  The sheer love of Miss Meghann for her etudiantes?  Is it that she is just as likely to correct their grammar as she is their arabesque? (“You had eaten, Molly, not you had ate”).  “Have any of you had supper?  No?  I can tell.  Please, eat something, and then let’s do finale again.  I know it’s late.  I’m sorry.” 

Is it Christmas itself?  the errands undone and gifts unbought or even thought about?  Is it gratitude for your own mother who will drive twelve hours to leap from the frying pan of her own Christmas into the fire of your chaotic single-parent home?  Is it the sinus infection or sheer fatigue?  Is it knowing that soon enough the chaos will give way to silence?  Just you and the dogs as the children accompany their dad and his family to the beach for a pre-Christmas vacation?  What in the world will you do then?  Probably cry.

It may be the three year-old who asks you to read the Bible to him.  So you read him the Christmas story from Luke and he wants to hear it again.  We have some special time together every night around 9:30 p.m. when he has to be removed from his bed so that poor, exhausted, sick Wade can go to sleep without being harassed and assaulted by Henry.  Once Wade  has succumbed, I can put Henry back in bed.  If Wade isn’t awake to protest Henry’s onslaught, Henry gives up quickly.  We have a mandatory, Christmas story-reading time out every night.  Just another step in the routine.

I am sick.  I am tired.  And sometimes it feels like I may be depressed, but I don’t really think so.  I think I am just exhausted and overwhelmed with what it means to be this fortunate.  It is a rich, rich life.

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Baby steps

18 Nov

I am still working on my Gentlemen I have Known series.  It is going well, but I can’t get around to posting any of it because of intervening events: my mother’s birthday, my daughter was sick yesterday, and because one my of soul sisters is having a hard time, and I have needed to spend every free minute comforting her.  Actually there have been two crises, but one worked itself out during a walk at a brisk clip around the Gun Club Road, aka the koa.  It is amazing what walking so fast that you’re out of breath and sometimes running up the hills can do for a bad mood.

You all know about my amazing mother and her birthday from yesterday’s corner-brightening post.  But you don’t all know about my friend’s hard time.  I’m not going to go into the details here on the internet, but if you want to call me, I will fill you in.  Suffice it to say that someone in my immediate circle who doesn’t know how to utter the word “no” and who has never met someone she doesn’t want to help in whatever capacity they need her to has been met with a personal crisis.

I have tried to be there for her every step of the way offering my gift for tough love that I inherited from my mother.  I don’t know if my friend’s tears were from her personal crisis or from my lectures (strictly from a place of great love, I assure you), but there have been some tears.  And some tough love and some interventions.  Not just from me!  Lots of admonitions that “you are just perfect and anyone who can’t see that is crazy.” and “since when do we allow other people to define who we are?”

But I don’t know that I am getting through to her.  So two days ago I did what any good friend would do – I left my “just who’s in charge here?” boots outside her front door.  She didn’t wear them.  And thus, spent much of the day not convinced that it was she who was really in charge.

So yesterday, Anna started the day (in my bed, of course) coughing like a barking seal, and I kept her home from school.  By 8:30 a.m., she was asking what we were going to do for fun today, and I did have some errands to run, so I thought that she could rest just as easily in the car as she could in bed, and off we went.  We ended up at Mr. Boots, and I called my dear friend to implore her to meet us there.  I wanted her to try on some tough, pretty boots so that she could imagine what it’s like to take your power back.

I swear it wasn’t my intent to cause her to spend lots of money (Houston!), and she didn’t.  But she did start warming up to the idea of a pair of cowboygirl boots to round out her shoe wardrobe.  There is just something powerful about a pair of pretty boots.  For one thing, you are immediately two inches taller, which is always helpful.  And your feet feel heavy.  You are grounded and one with the earth, also known as the center of the universe.  In fact, you might just be the center of the universe when you’re wearing the right boots.

I have found that the right pair of boots just transforms one’s whole sense of self and  your knowledge of who is going to define you and who will be allowed to push you around.  It all changes when you have on the right pair of boots, and suddenly there can be no question of just who is in charge here.

My dear friend didn’t buy any boots yesterday, but she did try some on and walk around in them.  She looked at the different styls and colors, she compared prices, she thought about what she might wear them with (a short skirt, naturally – talk about taking your power back!), and she started to see herself as less of a victim and more of a winner in this scenario.  Boots can’t solve all your problems (um, especially the financial ones once you become hooked like I am), but they are definitely two steps in the right direction.