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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Who Do You Think You Are?

Who Do You Think You Are?

Ever had these words thrown at you?  Usually it's in a spirited debate.  Lately there's been interesting dialogue about who a person really is versus what they post on Facebook.  Facebook is often your highlight reel.  Isn't that how you really want it to be?  Do you really want me to post about who I really I am, especially the ugly parts.  The true epitome of #nofilter.

A recent spirited debate got me thinking about who I really am.  Lest there be any confusion from the beautiful hydrangea pictures that I post or the funny quips and quotes from my kids and the snippets from my morning scriptures, I am much more than that.

I could quickly borrow lyrics from Meredith Brooks and quote:
I'm a bitch, I'm a lover, I'm a child, I'm a mother
I'm a sinner, I'm a saint, I do not feel ashamed
I'm your hell, I'm your dream, I'm nothing in between


But maybe I should be more specific. I stood back and looked at some of my posts and pictures and can see how one would misconstrue the true fullness of me.  I live in a beautiful home that I sometimes wonder if I deserve, I have a job that I love and kids that so far are looking like they might turn out okay.  It's still really too early to tell.

However, much of what I remember about who I am started in a mobile home, or a trailer as we called it, plopped down on an acre of land given to my parents by my grandparents with a gravel driveway and the most beautiful dandelions a kid could want. Where my mom would stay up late and wait on my dad to get home from night shift, eating the hulls from the popcorn so he could come home and enjoy the good parts.  A place where a can opener in the window would bring my favorite cats screeching from acres far and wide to come and nest and eat and purr.  Where sometimes the animals we loved wouldn't make it home from acres far away, either eaten by survival of the fittest or squashed on the road by crazy Sadie that drove way too fast on our country road. 

I grew up with people that crawled under your house and often in your crap, literally, because my grandfather did plumbing and heating and lots of other jobs that you paid for because you never learned how to do.  You needed him and I learned about hard work and being paid for it.  I learned about sacrifice when many a family meal, he would get up and go because your toilet didn't work or your heat stopped working on Christmas Eve and rather than honor our Christmas meal, he left us and made sure yours was warm and good and dry.  One year, when I was old enough to "do the books" in the family business I charged double time for a holiday visit which had never been done before.  My grandfather scolded me and told me that we didn't do those things and explained to me that those people didn't have that kind of money.  My grandfather curses like a sailor in pain but knows the value of treating people well.

I grew up with a father that worked his way up from a night shift mechanic to a well paid engineer and was too busy working that he skipped that college education part.  Many of his young colleagues fresh out of the frat house and laden-ed with student debt probably didn't want to know that.

I've seen scuffles and fights among family and addiction gripping their very souls and all gathered round the plastic table cloth at grandmas house out of love.  I've seen my mom build fence and take out brick chimneys while my dad was at work and follow the ambulance when our baby cousins were born too early and she didn't want to miss the only breaths he had in case there weren't enough.

I've seen money change hands when we didn't deserve it but just because we needed it without shame or judgement or fear, only out of love.  I've seen many a candle lit on a sheet cake covered in chocolate icing. My language is salty, learned carefully over the years as a generational art form.

With my uncle's permission, I've driven a car long before the BMV thought it was okay and cut Christmas trees on the side of the road in the dark of the night.  I've drank sugar in my milk and stirred it like coffee just like the grandmas and aunts, listening to stories of the factory.  I've watched family take their factory money and turn it into mounds of security and others drink their paycheck before church started on Sunday morning.

So yes, I post the beautiful and the inspirational and the funny and the good.  Not because I don't know the darker sides, but because I do. Because I've cried myself to sleep with hurt and anguish and pain, because I've huddled on my closet floor afraid to face the day, because I've had the awful manager at the fast food place threaten me as a young girl, because I've seen the hurt in my child's eyes from my own words and anger. Because I've gone on the jail visit to see family on Christmas Eve, because I've broken the refrigerator door in a bout of anger.

Because  .....
I'm a bitch, I'm a lover, I'm a child, I'm a mother
I'm a sinner, I'm a saint, I do not feel ashamed
I'm your hell, I'm your dream, I'm nothing in between

And because I know the dark and the light, I will continue to share the light and the beauty and the funny and inspired.  Not because it's all that I know, but because it's all that I seek. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mystery Solved: I Figured Out What's Wrong With Kids These Days

A beautiful sunny warm Saturday afternoon.  Nearly perfect really.  The only thing that would have improved the day at all is if I was in my own yard instead of out running the few errands that this day required.  Everyone is smiling and happy, this weather has been well earned after a long Midwest winter.

I pull into a crowded parking lot with other smiling happy white legged Midwesterners doing their Saturday shopping.  It's spring in the Hoosier Heartland. I stop behind another vehicle that I think is letting a lady and her granddaughter cross the street.  The lady leans down and puts her arms around her little girl smiling and then waves the truck in front of me to go on.  I assume she's waiting on her husband to pull the Oldsmobile around to pick them both up.  I smile thinking how sweet that grandma and her granddaughter are out buying some new spring gear and probably going out for a nice lunch.  I creep past them as the truck in front of me starts to move forward.

Then I realize the truck in front of me has been sitting over the top of one of those Stop signs that are painted on the pavement.  Just as I realize this I hear from behind me, "Nice stop, lady!"  In the bullying voice of a Midwestern grandma.  What!  I look in my rear view mirror to see sweet little grandma with her arms still wrapped around the young girl as she's giving me a piece of her mind!

My first thought is to pull around and pull next to her and get out of my truck to say, "I'm so sorry.  I honestly didn't see that stop sign.  Are you two okay?"  and then I would lean down and give this young impressionable child a genuine smile of concern. Someone has got to model better behavior for this child!  I try to get turned around and traffic won't permit it and I've lost the site of them both.

So there you have it.

Mystery solved.

The reason we have bullies in our schools is because we have bullies in our homes, in our grandparent's homes and in the parking lot of our favorite stores.  I should have been a detective.

Look people, if you want to know what's wrong with the world, look inside your own heart first.  You may not have to join a task force or go on a mission trip, you may just have to be kinder, gentler and more patient and then pass it on to your kids and your grandkids.  That's a start.

Monday, April 21, 2014

I Let My Daughter Fail ........ On Purpose

The book was to be read by today.  She's known since before Spring Break.  She left it in her locker,  quite possibly on purpose.  She told her teacher she left it in her locker over Spring Break hoping she'd get more time.  She didn't.

She loves to read.  She didn't want to read this book.

Procrastination and bad choices eating away at her.

It's down to the last weekend.  The weather is warm and sunny for the first time in months. Spring Fever takes over her heart and her head.  She goes to her friend's on Friday night, they laugh, they play all day on Saturday.  Warm, sunny, wonderful days of play.

Saturday night the hangover of procrastination station is throbbing in her head.  She says, "I have to read this book by Monday."  I glance over, remind her that Sunday is Easter and we will be with family all day.

Easter comes, He is Risen, it is warm and beautiful. Church is good, the candy from the bunny is good, the dress looks good with the shoes.  Lunch comes with Grandma and Grandad in tow. We eat, we laugh, we enjoy.

Evening comes still warm and sunny. The bike and the skateboard and the sidewalk chalk call us out to play.

She states her intentions, "I'm going in at 8pm to shower and read until bedtime."  Sounds good, I reply, reminding her that it is Spring and 8pm will be as bright as day.  She sighs.

It's 8:30 with wet hair and jammies she climbs the stairs to pay her dues.  I braid her hair and watch her settle in.

I leave her to her work.

At 9:45 I tell her 15 more minutes and she's going to have to give it up for the night.  She's crying, crying for me to come and save her or comfort her or just share in her angst.

I climb the stairs and there she is, my small girl clutching the book with far more pages to read then minutes left in her world.  And there on her cheeks are the tears, big balloons splashing down her cheeks.

The remorse spills from her lips with excuses she knows are untruths but she says them anyway trying to comfort her pain.  I listen and tell her I'm sorry she's in such a bad spot.  She smells my "told you so" even though it's not been spoken.  It reeks and fills the room.  I wave it away and earnestly tell her I'm sorry she's in this place.  I help her decipher the magnitude.  How many pages, how much time?  There's the car ride to school, the first prep period before she must meet her judgement day.  She swallows hard.   I swallow hard.

I wanted to try and save her so many times.  I mentioned the book, she fought back.  I chose not to take on the battle with her and for her. I decided it's time to learn a different way.  The harder way, the kind that sticks.

This transition for my baby girl to young woman, what a beautiful mess.  Her trying to navigate the ways of the world, me trying to decide when to drive and when to ride along.  We stumble, we fall, her messes and lessons leaving matching scars in me.