Tissues

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These days, I don’t venture far from home without tissues in my pocket or somewhere on my person. I never know when the tears will start, either just enough to spill out of my eyes, or an entire flood. It might be sparked by a song that I hear playing on the radio or the sound system of the mall; I might see an elderly man in the grocery store who has a similar posture and gait to Dad, or a young father with his child; or I might catch a glimpse of a rainbow in the sky.

So tissues. I have one or two tissues in all of my pockets, travel packs in my purse, full-sized packages in my car. And I have been pretty good about checking pockets before I do the laundry. (It’s a habit I started after one too many crayons slipped through undetected before they melted in the dryer, ruining an entire load of clothing ….)

Sunday night, I washed the down jacket I have been wearing every day, and I threw in a couple of new shirts that J had recently acquired. I checked the pockets of my jacket, but somehow, a tissue slipped just beyond my touch and escaped notice.

When I opened the lid of the washing machine, I was immediately aware of my oversight. Fluffy shreds of tissue clung to the clothing, stuck there by dampness and deep tissue magic—the kind that doesn’t let go.

A faint scent of detergent wafted from the clothes as I painstakingly picked at the pieces of tissue. I sighed. The fragile fibers so effective at wiping away tears were no match for the washing machine. But I’m pretty sure this is not the last time I’ll learn that lesson.

Teachable moments

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This weekend’s not-so-fun activity involved a morning trip to the Laundromat. After his last camping trip, W announced that his winter sleeping bag was “developing a personality” and needed to be washed. I don’t know about you, but when a 15 year-old announces that his sleeping bag is “developing a personality,” I sit up and take notice. And since his next camping trip is coming up quickly—next weekend, in fact—it was pretty much this weekend or after the upcoming trip.

But a winter sleeping bag is one of those items that cannot be washed at our home in our normal-sized washing machine. It has to be washed in a large capacity, front-loading machine, hence the trip to the Laundromat. Since we were heading there anyway, I decided to bring the comforter from my bed—another item that I have to launder outside of the house.

Of course, there was the need for tennis balls. I have never used tennis balls in the dryer with my comforter because I typically go to the Laundromat on a very windy day and I dry my comforter at home, outside. However, January is not such a friendly time for drying a heavy comforter outside, wind or no. So a stop at Target was necessary.

We picked up two containers of yellow tennis balls and took them to the checkout, where a gaggle of teenage workers was congregating, socializing. As we stepped up to the checkout, one of the teens broke away from the group to take her place at the register and ring in our three-dollar purchase. She thanked us and went back to her “social” group. As W and I walked by the group to exit the store, one of the teens announced to her friends, “I think I’m going to get a different job.”

Well then. There were so many things I could have said in that moment, but I walked past as if I hadn’t heard.

We were not even out the door before I turned to W. “You know what you don’t do?” I posed.

“Talk about how much you don’t like your job while you’re at your job?” he responded without a split second delay. Ah! He, too, had heard the young woman as we walked by. “I noticed that,” he commented.

“That is so not a good idea,” I told him, though from his quick response, I was certain he knew better. “It’s fine to want a new job. Not so much to announce it while you’re at your current job. And while you are standing around doing nothing….”

“Yeah,” he said. “I get that.” Some things are best left for when you are in the privacy of your own home, and perhaps complaining about your job is one of them. Then again, if you complain in public, I may just use it as a teachable moment.

{image credit: Freeimages.com/Ben C}

Snow Day Hyperbole

 

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Tuesday was a snow day for us. When I woke up in the morning, the radio mentioned school cancellations, but I was half asleep and didn’t believe it. Through my five a.m. fog, I reached for my iPad, pulled up the local television station website, and scrolled through the cancellations. Sure enough, our town had cancelled school. The town in which I work had also cancelled school, though there was nothing yet from the university.

I stumbled to the kids’ rooms in the dark to turn off their alarms, trying my best not to disturb them more than necessary. I went back to bed, armed with my phone to take the “alert” calls that would inevitably come. Nowadays, it is so easy to tap into the school cancellation list, and with multiple schools and school districts involved, that can be a good thing.

But later that morning, when I finally looked outside, we had about two inches of snow. Two inches. And a snow day? Clearly, this must have been an oversight on someone’s part. A day off means, the kids will have an extra day tacked on to the end of the school year. Sigh.

In a text to my sister, I told her I suspected the world had grown wimpier since we were kids. I remember schlepping through snow up to my thighs (though I will admit, I was a bit shorter then) to get to school. Occasionally, my boot would become lodged in a snow crater when I tried to step, and I would have to reach my arm all the way into my leg-long footprint to retrieve it. Once, a storm closed school for two consecutive days, but that was a memorable spring storm one April when winter was supposed to be over. That storm dumped three feet of snow, and I can still tap into the feeling of wonder and excitement I had walking through the labyrinth of shoveled pathways.

On days when the world seems wimpier than in years past, I tend to become one of those parents, just like my parents before me, and their parents before them. You know the ones I mean…. Back in my day when life was simpler, we trudged through three feet of snow every day to get to school. Maybe it was a two-mile walk to get there. And it was definitely uphill both ways. And maybe it was 10° below zero every day during the winter because back then, it was commonly believed we were entering the next Ice Age.

Or maybe—just maybe—I tell hyperbolic stories because here in northern New England, a snow day for two inches of snow feels ridiculous, and it’s not something responsible adults feel the need to encourage.

And even though my children roll their eyes at my stories, there is no doubt that 20 or 30 years from now, they will be telling their own hyperbolic childhood stories to their own children, their nieces and nephews, their students. Because this…. this is the way we express to the next generation that we think they are getting too soft around the edges and too wimpy in the middle. And this is the way we let them know that maybe, just maybe, things aren’t quite as bad as they like to believe.

Accepting my role

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I woke up on Saturday to a somewhat quieter house than normal. Only my youngest was home, and I had the brief realization that in another couple years, this—this quiet, this [relative] stillness—would be the norm in my house. When I went downstairs to the kitchen, I found W finishing up breakfast, dressed in khakis and a t-shirt, the beginnings of an outfit chosen for the day’s job interview.

Now, I am good at telling myself I am prepared for this whole growing up thing. After all, I have already been through this with my oldest child. He graduated from high school, left for college, and last week, I dropped him off at school for his second semester. He is doing great, making his way in the world. He is growing up and becoming an amazing adult—and I couldn’t be prouder.

But this?

Perhaps I’m not ready after all. It was one thing when my oldest was making all of these successful steps out into the grown-up world. But my youngest? I never said they could ALL grow up….

It’s times like this that reality hits. These children were only mine for a brief moment in time. That was what I signed on for, though I didn’t necessarily realize it at the time. As their mom, I was responsible for getting them to the point of launch—raising them into independent (or… semi-independent) young people who are capable of venturing into the world, making good decisions, and becoming increasingly self-sufficient and integrated into society.

I have done that, and I will continue to do that. I will support them through their growth, their challenges, their stumbles (and falls), and their u-turns and redirects. I will be here for them in whatever they need as they gain exposure to the world and establish a foothold.

As their mother, I have been here for them when they’ve needed me, and it is my goal to be here as long as I can. They will continue to need me, but my role changes as they change. And I’m beginning to understand that more and more, I am just along for the ride.

I may not be ready, but my kids… they are well on their way, taking on increasing responsibility. I probably wasn’t ready for many of their other milestones either, but that didn’t stop them. So like it or not, I will step back, let them go, and enjoy the ride as I see what the future has in store!

Seeking Inspiration

I am trying to write. Something funny, something creative, something inspiring. but my mind is overworked, active day and night as it deals with life and loss and moving forward. I am looking for inspiration and something to sink my words into. And then there was this:

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Hardly an invitation to creativity.

This book appears to be as uninspiring as any book I have seen, despite the claim on its cover. I am wondering about the conversation in the design room the day this book was being completed. “Hey Boss, I need a cover for this textbook on creativity….”

“Yeah. It’s a textbook. Make it look like one.”

“But Boss, it’s a handbook. Of creativity. Shouldn’t it be fun? Creative, maybe?”

“Nah. It’s a textbook. Make it look like a textbook. Throw some color on it if you want.”

Hmm.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen some much more appealing textbooks. I’ve seen some downright fun textbooks. Most even have pictures or designs on the front cover. Just because a book is designed for learning doesn’t mean it has to be boring. In fact, a splash of color on the cover might make the reader more excited to read this book. I know that for me, the appeal of the cover definitely affects my interest in a book, but apparently, this is a centuries old debate, as indicated by the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” You know, the whole first impression thing….

But then I have to wonder why it is that we are so quick to judge based on what’s on the outside. There is much information held within the pages of this book. The fact that the cover is dry and stilted and downright uncreative is of little import to the material contained within the book. It just seems to me that a handbook on creativity should be… well… CREATIVE.

But I am trying to creative-ize my mind and clear the fog that has been hovering there. Perhaps the words of this book might inspire me. Or maybe they’ll serve to distract me just enough that creativity can slip back in.

To-do List…

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My brain is like a sieve. It is capable of trapping some things and holding on to them, but most things slip right out like sand through your fingers.

There are many things I need to do. Appointments need to be made. Thank you notes need to be written. Expressions of sympathy need to be acknowledged. Thoughts need to be conveyed. And these are all things that have to be done now rather than someday down the road. I have to work them in amongst the daily bustle of my already jam-packed life.

So… I made a to-do list. The other night while I was getting ready for bed, I took a Post-it note and stuck it on my bathroom counter. As I thought of things I needed to do, I wrote them down. I listed the appointments, the people who need thank you notes, all of the extra pieces that need to be addressed. And now, it would seem I’m organized, on top of things, and ready to get things done.

If I could only remember where I left that to-do list….

Grief

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As the year began, it was my goal to blog more than last year, and I started out well. But the roller coaster of life took over. Suddenly, like so many friends and acquaintances my age, I experienced the unexpected loss of my father, and I am now navigating the uneven waters of grief.

These waters are thick and heavy, fighting against me as I press forward, day by day, moving ahead with life. I cling to the things I recognize in a life that will now and forever be different.

My journey through these waters is slow and difficult. The current is unpredictable, and the undertow often grabs me and pulls me under when I least expect it, waiting for me to thrash and fight.

Then, just as suddenly, it lets go, and I float to the surface, able to catch my breath—at least for a moment. But by the end of the day, I am exhausted from battling these waves as they come and go only to come again.

Some days, I feel as though I will never write again, and other days, I feel as if I start writing, I will never stop. Writing for me is a necessity—a place to find sense and peace and light.

Grief is where I’ve been hiding, but in time, I am hoping to blog more this year….