Small cravings

I was in the throes of not so genteel thoughts about the celebrant’s dad at my daughter’s classmate’s birthday party, when I was I was roused from my reverie by  a turn in the discussion at hand. I’d previously lost interest after the debate on the merits of Greek yogurt versus plain, morphed into various dietary meal plans whose primary objective appeared to be the avoidance of mastication. As a person of African ancestors, who’d subsisted voraciously on meat on bone, the use of my teeth, although not usually for that purpose, ranks highly.

But I digress…these thinnish mothers were in hot discourse about key issues; one son’s weak pencil grip, another’s intermittent mumblings, and a daughter’s inverted letters. As their worrying reached fever pitch my eyebrows resided in my hairline. I had no clue, that I should be worrying about these things, as each of my perfect children display a mix of these deviations, though not all at once.  All of our children, themselves unaware of the criticisms being visited on their small heads, played innocently nearby.   

I attributed my lack of awareness on cultural relevance and recalled how MY so called deficiencies were approached while living in Africa. My mother no longer able to afford the exorbitant school fees at the Lebanese Community School where I’d spent a year, transferred me to a local Catholic elementary school. The administration at the new school, decided I’d merited a double promotion from 4th to 6th grade, of which I was extremely proud. When I arrived at the 6th grade I immediately began experiencing problems with math (never a strong subject for me,) compound interest calculations, in particular. 

One Friday, the teacher in deep frustration, marched me to the principal’s office to lodge a formal complaint. The principal, a woman, looked me up and down and thundered; By next Monday, if she continues to REFUSE to learn compound interest, bring her back to my office and I will cane her!

I exited the office, head reeling.

That weekend, despite my mother and father’s separation, and him not being allowed into the house, due to a stalking habit, I learned compound interest with gusto. My father, stood outside the house and tutored me through the window, in full view of the next door neighbors.

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My grandfather’s clock

My daughter is 5 years old and already she understands ebb and flow is a natural part of life–Grandma won’t be here forever, neither will Mommy, nor will she. Despite her tender age, I encourage her to make the best use of what she has right now, especially relationships! This is not complicated, it’s very much like chatting about how a plant comes into the world as a seed, blooms, and eventually withers.

I don’t want her to fear situations beyond her control, especially since we are all destined to accept the inevitable. Recently, I watched the 2006 PBS documentary “A Lion in the House” about children living with cancer and the impact heroic measures taken by their parents had on the short lives of these children. I can’t say what I’d do in that situation but the visuals remain. 

Do you discuss impermanence or even the D word (dying, death) with your children, if so how, and why?

My secret shame

Most of the time I feel like “the not good enough mother.” 

I feel I should be spending more time with my children, speaking in dulcet tones, possessing much more useful hands, and a more accomodating brain.  Always, I want to ask them albeit apologetically, would you prefer another (better) mother? But I don’t.  My children on the other hand, both 3 and 5 years of age, perceptive as they are, may sense my insecurities. Daily, they tell me they love me, I’m the best mom ever, and when they grow up, they will take care of me. I try to do better, but how can I match up to these children who are so perfect and endlessly forgiving? They deserve the best of the best of the best…

Squishy and fat

Today, when I asked my 3 year old son about his favorite teachers, he responded smilingly and as a matter of fact: “Miss Leanna loves me–she’s squishy. Miss Keri loves me–she’s fat.” Initially, I thought he was saying one was better than the other (i.e. the squishy teacher being the thinner of the two), because of body type, then I removed my mental filters and understood he meant that he feels good when he’s around both women, and part of that is because of how they feel, physically.

The Simpler Life

3 years ago I was laid off. It was a job I enjoyed with a company of which I was very proud, and at the time, gave me my identity. I made good money such that when I decided to move back to the Northeast post-layoff, I discovered unopened boxes from earlier work relocations, also multiples of random items (why would a single person need 5 bicycle seat covers?) What changed? I could blame it on my needy partner, compounded with the challenges of having a second child. But it doesn’t really matter. Spending time with my children became more important than working late; travelling across (or out of) the country to give presentations less glamorous. And those frequent early morning meetings conflicting with daycare drop-off? Quite the pain. When I left town with my children, I left everything behind, including, the needy partner, years of accumulation, and the house. Some might even say I lost everything. I say: My children and I are living a much simpler life focusing on the things that really matter to us: family and friends, good health, nature, and spirituality. And, oh yeah I now work from home…

Solitude and Parenthood

Being a mother offers rewards, daily, on many levels. One sacrifice I’ve had to make however, is solitude. I’m now realizing what a truly guilty pleasure it was, those days before children, to browse antique shops, museums, farmers markets, and coffee shops–alone. Although I wouldn’t turn back the clock, now, I rarely have time alone. Instead I work at being fully present with my children during play, homework, meals, etc. But think about it, isn’t solitude simply our attempt at being fully present?