I’m “Pressing” this, meaning I did not write this post, but I do think it is interesting reading, especially for parents of teenagers. Those years can be rough – for parents of both teenage sons AND daughters. My heart goes out to all of you, including those teenagers trying desperately to figure out who they are as individuals while also trying to fit in. Life has a way of unfolding for each of us. We are a composite of all our experiences and our choices and our responses to whatever is thrown at us. You don’t really get “do overs” in life, though you can certainly learn from mistakes. Love yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to all – you never know where life will lead you, but you can be sure it is better to have others’ respect than their disdain; others as friends instead of enemies. Namaste.
July 9, 2013
Prompt: 15 minutes: “supposed to”
She was supposed to get a lot accomplished today, piles of vacation mail littering the kitchen counter, dirty clothes on the laundry room floor, wilting calla lily plants screaming for water from their old pots, long leaves drooping. She turns the pots occasionally, angling them away from sunny windows so they’ll reach out, stretch outward in another way, filling out, not so lopsided from years of inattention save the weekly dousing when she had too much on her mind to cherish every little moment, every little thing.
Life is supposed to last long, keep on going, the canvas unfurling indefinitely, inviting one to pick up brushes full of color and paint your heart’s desire.
But it doesn’t always go that way now, does it? No, sometimes we get so busy we’re like Little Black Sambo running around the tree so fast, fleeing from the tiger, whipping himself into butter he did, I did, we do.
When you are young, it seems like forever between Christmases, you wanting to fit into your mother’s dyed to match green high-heeled pumps, their chunky heels clomp clomp clomping along the hardwood floor, headed for the kitchen where your mother is fixing you and your stuffed friends a tea party.
As a mother, you make a mental note of your daughter’s living in the moment joy while pretending she is all grown up. You snap a picture of her in the netting skirt atop her size 4T jeans, the old burgundy velvet hat that was your grandma’s, the white kid gloves all the ladies wore back then, back when you’re sure time must have passed more slowly. You take the tiny plastic Strawberry Shortcake plates your daughter brings so trustingly to your care for her own “pea darty.” You place equal numbers on each of Cheerios, pretzel sticks, grapes and cheese, knowing she will eat it all, helping out Big Bird, Sally, Ga Ga and Snowy. Life is supposed to be this good and it really is! It really is!!!
Until some days it’s not, it’s just not.
You analyze and debate inside your head what’s missing, what might be if things were even better. If you could be more of yourself in this marriage, if life is supposed to be this conflicted, this painful, this small. You smile at your children during the day, singing soulful lyrics with Amy Grant, Carole King, Carly Simon, as you drive your kids on errands. They learn the words and sing refrains in their little voices, legs kicking, oblivious.
You come to dread 5 pm some days, then weekends, living for Monday mornings, quiet midnight hours when you can fold hot, clean smelling towels fresh from the dryer on the carpet in the hall all by yourself, sometimes weeping. How did it get like this? Surely this is not the way it’s supposed to be, is it? Is it?
That first marriage was supposed to be the only one. They were supposed to live happily ever after. They were supposed to grow old together.
But time can heal old wounds. How nice that finally, they can laugh and break bread together again in their grown daughters’ homes, new partners by their sides, all “one big happy family.” Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be — multiple sets of parents and step parents all together toasting graduations and marriages of their grown up children, reminiscing together about the good memories of the days gone by.
This made me laugh out loud remembering how, in 1986, I painstakingly typed out on my big old Apple Macintosh then printed out on my big old dot matrix printer about 3 full pages of instructions regarding the care and feeding of my first child at age six months when we left her with her grandparents for the first time! It was only a few years ago that I found out they never read it!
July 8, 2013
Prompt: 15 min “Shatter”
Shatter. Shatter the glass ceiling, we women were offered, encouraged to do when we were mere girls living in a man’s world. The 1960’s, ’70’s, a time when, every now and then, a brave soul would rise up to shatter the glass ceiling previously owned, dominated by men, our patriarchal society. We watched the first female astronaut, CEO, swimmer crossing some large body of water.
Blacks, now called African-Americans, knew about shattering glass ceilings, too. We punched those white male dominated worlds together. Raised to fight for civil rights, to support the underdog, my mama identified glass ceilings, pointed out inequality, applauded the shattering. The shattering. Not with violence, glass shards flying everywhere. No, with firmness, sticking to your guns in the face of resistance, obeying the laws, but standing up to the systems she deemed unfair.
I thought I might be one to shatter some ceilings. Little Rock Central High honors poising me to shoot out into the world with gusto, a degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill preparing me for greatness. But I became a stay-at-home mom with two little girls to raise. Determined to stretch beyond the confines of homemaking, this undervalued, traditional role, I started my own PR and marketing consulting business on the side, working nights and weekends so I wouldn’t shirk my maternal duties. Superwoman, I became, my People Pleasing tendencies pushing, pushing, pushing me to do more, be more, give more.
Shatter. And then my world shattered. Slammed me down into the bed, the deep, dark cavern of ill-health I never expected, didn’t see coming, thought I was immune to, actually never even considered.
Now, twenty-three years later, my immune system weakened and so much of my life spent in medical appointments, not shattering any big, bad glass ceilings, my perspective changed, I can only strive to shatter what I perceive as small victories — performing normal daily chores with both shame and a sense of accomplishment: the dishwasher unloaded, the bills paid, the bank statement off by the same amount as last month and the month before, dare I add back in the $537 the bank says I have that my checkbook disagrees with? Combing back through the statements, the checkbook is just too much, just too much. It’ll be all right. I don’t think the world will shatter if I don’t find my error.
From my writer friend, Carol Henderson, with whom I share a mother’s heart at all times. Thanks for sharing yours with us, Carol.
Prompt: 24 minutes: “Ageless”
May 16, 2013
Ageless is how I feel at 53. Such an odd number — not sexy, not old and wise, somewhere in between. Reaching back, just a bit, I am vibrant, sexy, the life of the party. Sparkly, beaming on the outside, in the prime of life supposedly. Yes, I did it well. Successful woman of the ’80’s in a man’s world, my daddy proud. Then I stopped that and became a mom.
Now there’s an ageless, timeless role. It begins so innocently, naively really. Tenderly rocking and offering love from your very breasts in the wee, dark hours of the morning. Pondering life, the confusing, terrifying, glorious miracle of birth, a new life, now dependent on you. Ill-prepared, you read books, ask mothers, doctors, friends — eager to shed a light on the footpath of this ageless endeavor.
And now, decades later, it is still an enigma. Well, that’s not totally true. I’m much less frantic at this stage. Yet less dogmatic than my own mother, stating her opinions as if the are THE right way. Some truths, comments, ideas of hers ring true, timeless, ageless. Then there are the ones you just can’t help but bite your tongue about, realizing she is of another generation, another world, that it is fruitless to try to explain, kinder to let her speak, believe, let her be.
At 53 I am standing in the middle of the road, the intersection of life, spinning, looking up at the cloudless sky, tall pines and oaks sprinkling sunlight all around the cool shadows of time and space. Not ready to commit to a particular path, I choose to linger in this ageless place.
At Ageless, there is an appreciation for the older, wiser; an understanding of the ignorance of youth; a fear when you read the obituaries and many of them are younger than you now. At Ageless, there is still the hope of accomplishing something big, tell me it’s not loo late! To write that book, learn that craft, make that art that might endure even after I am gone — mere ashes on a mantle or floating in the sea. The sea, you see, IS ageless.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, the spirit lives on, the only “real” ageless I guess there is. A soul calling to meld with the nebulous spirit of eternity. Yet while I am in this earthly body, where I can talk to my daughters, listen to my parents, pet my old soul dog, make a marriage work, get outside myself, dig deep inside myself, tap into that ageless stream of life in the intersection of middle-age, I play in the scintillating, ever-moving patches of flickering light.
This is the result of a 10-minute prompt writing this morning, so realize it is merely a quickly dashed off, unedited piece, written without regard to knowing where the pen would take me.
Inside the Envelope
Inside the envelope were photos of days gone by. A smorgasbord really. Photos her mother had gleaned from God knows where she pulled them from. Childhood images in black and white to jog her memory where time had lumped more and more data, spinning faster and faster, squeezing out the images of events and times that made her who she is today.
Oh, thank God for photos. And for whoever invented the camera. And for mothers who collect the captured moments of lives along the way of unfolding persons in the the making. And for mothers who make you roll your eyes when she delivers yet another box of ancient items from one’s past as she clears out the clutter from her house and, bit by bit, it finds its way into your own.
Instead of rolling my eyes and sighing another exasperated breath of “Where will I put this one?”, perhaps a shift occurs. Stark change in perspective. A growing up of sorts as I write these words at age 52: I have a mother! A caring, thoughtful, loving mother. She is alive! Alive and well, with all her marbles! A mother full of envelopes of images, boxes of touchstones to our past – her past, my past, my children’s past, her parents’ past. Clues to unravel the mystery of “Who Am I?”, from a generational point of view at least. The complex weaving of a life of moments lived – the daily stuff and the shiny moments captured by a camera, printed out on glossy paper, slightly curled with age, now shared with me, returned to me, in envelopes, piecemeal, from Mother’s house to mine.