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It starts at the Marrakech Grill…


“What DO you want to be when you grow up, Shar?” It’s the same question my husband has asked me for years. Only this time, I have an answer. I hesitate before speaking, though, and think about how to respond.20160116_121227.jpg

We are at the Marrakech Grill in Denver, and I am on the hunt for the Happy, Fat, and Full. Those are three words that have become important to me. I don’t use them to describe my belly. I use them to describe my overall well-being. The short word would be BLISS. If I am happy, fat, and full in the wallet, I can relax. If I am happy, fat, and full in my marriage, I can relax. If I am happy, fat, and full spiritually, I can relax.

The Happy, Fat, and Full means I can enjoy the moment.

I look down at my plate and start the mini ritual that makes up my meal. Thinking of the salad scene in the Barbara Streisand movie, “The Mirror Has Two Faces”, I skewer the tender bite of Shish Kebab chicken on my fork. Then I add a bit of green pepper for balance and crunch. Next, I lightly skim the bite through the tzatziki sauce. Lastly, I plop it on the mound of Saffron rice, picking up several grains, to make THE PERFECT BITE. I bring it to my lips and… MMMM… it is.

The Perfect Bite. 

Munch Munch Munch. Chew Chew Chew. My husband watches me through this ritual, like he always does, with amusement and patience. He knows I am stalling, and he knows I know he knows. Twenty-four years of partnership is a good start to getting to know each other’s habits, I guess. He takes a bite of his own food, Chicken Shawarma with Basmati Rice, and seems content to wait me out. I swallow and start talking. “I want to write on purpose. With purpose, I guess. I want to be a travel writer.” My husband swallows, takes a swig of his Coke, and says simply, “About dang time.”

And it is.

For twenty-four years he has asked me what I wanted to do, or be, when I grew up, and at first I thought he was just teasing me. I mean, what else could I be, other than a mom and a wife? I had started off early with those two things on my resume, and had become resigned. Eighteen years old early, to be exact. But even before that, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to be. The closest I got was knowing I wanted to travel. I wanted to see the world.

pic of grantsvilleGrowing up in a small town had given me a taste for solving the mystery of what it was like Somewhere Else. Anywhere Else, actually. My parent’s library painted pictures of rain-forests on misty mountains, and gently lapping waves on a sandy, palm tree-laden islands. I wanted to see everything in reality. Up close and personal-like, and it all started outside of my small town.

But how to start? It just seemed a bit overwhelming.

My older sister got out to see the world. She was an exchange-student in France, and then a nanny back east, and I admired that. I didn’t like her when she left. We fought a lot growing up. But when she came back, she was different. She talked differently. She walked differently. She dressed differently. She was calm, and confidant. She seemed happy and… content.

I wanted that.

So I decided to be a nanny as well. In spite of my dislike for children. Uh… yeah. I, at 18, had no desire to be around children. And may I just give a big ‘ol apology to the kids I babysat, and also to their parents? No, nothing bad happened while on my watch. No, your kids weren’t monsters. No, I didn’t neglect them. I just didn’t know what to DO with them. So they played with board games or watched TV, and I watched them play, kept ’em safe, and looked at the clock. I had no clue how to engage with them. Mediocre, for sure.

new born baby ultrasoundImagine my surprise, then, when I picked up a permanent babysitting job. My own child. Karma started early, I believed, so I cancelled the nanny job I had lined up in Washington D.C., right after graduating high school, and began the adventure of motherhood. No regrets, whatsoever, for my son. He is 23 years old now and an amazing guy. Four sons and one daughter has given me quite a journey. However, my husband would ask that question every once in a while, and it would make me wonder.

He would usually ask while I was changing a diaper or feeding someone. And I would usually return the question with a withering look or a bark of a laugh. Being a mom and a wife was my life. My journey. My adventure. It’s all I had time for.

Right?

Well, as I finished my delicious food in the beautiful atmosphere of the Marrakech Grill with the love of my life, I looked back at my adventure. I realized how much I had hidden my head in the sand when it came to his question. “What do you want to be when you grow up, Shar?” This was a question I secretly shied away from. Because deep down, I wanted nothing more than to be out exploring as much of the world as I could get to. And that did not include me being in one spot, watching everyone else experience their life while I was “The Heart Of The Home”.

I didn’t feel like the heart of a home. It seemed ludicrous for me to play that role, actually. Especially starting out at 18 years old. I was to be in charge of prepping the place for others to enjoy. I was the warden, the custodian, the support group, and the clean-up crew for the family, of which I had created and which had come out of my loins, so they could learn, be safe, and grow.

Ludicrous!

I wanted to explore the world, but did not allow myself to think about exploring, because that would be the opposite of responsible. And it became supremely important to be responsible. In fact, it became everything. All consuming. I had to show others, and myself, that I could be a grown up. So I did. I did it the best way that I could, pulling on whatever lessons and experiences I had at 18. I learned along the way.

Spoiler Alert: It Got Good.

Looking back, the journey got intense. Many times. But, along with the intensity came this: THE LOVE. THE COMPANIONSHIP. THE BONDS. I hadn’t counted on that. I don’t know why. I mean, I had heard so many times in my community that the calling of motherhood was the highest calling there was. A huge blessing. I just never believed them, while I was having back labor,  fainting with every pregnancy and earning bed rest. I didn’t recognize the blessings while cleaning up toys and books and dinner and kids faces for the umpteenth time in one day. imageI surely didn’t see any while holding a crying infant as my two-year-old screamed bloody murder at a Wal-Mart, with so many of those same community mothers looking on disapprovingly. I didn’t count on the blessings of love, because I was busy babysitting. Nevertheless, the bonds between my kids and husband grew.

That bond grew between those kids and I, in spite of the chaos that is motherhood. As they grew up, my adventure became less about being on the hunt for sleep and privacy, and more about individual memories where they would play the piano with me, or dance around with abandon while I played it. Or sharing jokes and stories while we drove around, going from scouts to camps to play dates.

Eventually, I knew what to do with these kids. I stopped babysitting, and started mothering. And it got good. Along with being responsible and in charge all the time, the good stuff canceled out the heartaches. I think it still does. So now, my journey of motherhood will not stop, if I start writing and traveling while I do it. It will just be a different role: Empowerment Coach. “Yes, it is about time, Husband.”  In the Marrakech Grill, I have found my Happy, Fat, and Full.20160116_121213.jpg

 

 

New place, New moment.


“Ya know something good about being old? Ya just don’t care anymore. You’re lucky, Mom. KBYEEE!”dropping off L. at school in slippers I still remember this sentence coming from my sweet seven-year-old’s mouth, and at the time I was horrified because I knew exactly what he was talking about. He had decided, based on my unkempt presence that day, that I was old enough to not care if I wore shoes or slippers, or even day-time clothes to take him to school. (I had also forgone the bra and makeup that hectic morning, which just made it worse.) He hugged me quickly, jumped out of the car, and thought no more about it.

I went home and ate some chocolate.

That was during my chaotic time as a stay-at-home mom of three boys, one husband, and a household to boot. It was when Elementary School and the ultimate homemade lunch was all consuming for me. Shoulds ruled my life. I SHOULD be a part of PTA. I SHOULD be a better cook/wife/mom/container gardener/scrapbook-er. I SHOULD be put together, somehow. I would SHOULD all over myself regularly, but at least I had my youth. I was twenty-seven at the time, and was pree-ty proud of myself for surviving any given day.

I just felt tired constantly, that’s all.

Now L. had no idea he wasn’t complimenting me. There was real admiration in his words that day. All he knew was that I spent time with him each school day approving some semblance of an outfit for him, but lucky me, I got to wing my wardrobe. And that was something to look forward to. It’s been fifteen years since he bounced off to school after dropping that bomb, and it’s taken me until I reached the ripe old age of forty-two to agree with him.

Now L. was talking about clothing choices, but I am thinking of the SHOULDS.

I never did buy in to the PTA. Or scrap-booking. I just let ’em go, somewhere along the line. Probably in my Thirty’s. I worked on being a better mom/wife/container gardener, and I’d say there is good improvement, but room for more. But I have outgrown the SHOULDS, for the most part. They are exhausting, demanding, and unrealistic, and who has room for those things AND uncomfortable bras?

Just sayin.

I say I am now old enough to start loving the skin I’m in. And shoes? I am old enough to be happy with my choice of shoes, slippers or not, no matter who’s looking, but that could just be because my shoes are of a bit better quality now, and therefore comfy. I dunno. Let’s just call ’em investments. But while I am on the subject of age, let’s get to the good stuff. I am old enough to make myself a priority, and it looks like this:

  1. Aloette skin care product lineSkin Care. I’m not talking about using the same lotion my husband uses for his callused feet. Nope. I mean my own stuff. The good stuff. With words like Moisturizing Beads, Soft and Silky Radiance, and Satin-ee Serum. (I am not doing the Plumpers, Pouty-Faces, or Lashes-For-Miles. Let alone Age-Defying anything. I’m no Betty White, for crying out loud.)
  2. crab-legsCrab legs. Spiders of the sea. Bottom Dwellers. Whatever you wanna call em, I’m a fan, and I am old enough now to splurge a bit for a lunch or three. I frequent Joe’s when I want to sit in the sun by myself, open up my laptop and write in peace and quiet. Scotty the bartender knows me by name, and he knows that when I ask for extra cherries with my Coke, what I ACTUALLY mean is an entire bowl full of cherries. “Because life is like a bowl full of cherries. Maraschino, even.” Scotty says it, and I believe him now.  I tip him well, just for that.
  3. nap with slippersNaps. The greatest part about being old enough for my kids to get themselves up and out the door for school/work is my naps. KA-CHOW, SUCKAHS! While my kids are out using their boundless youth for things like curling luscious teen-age hair for hours on end, or screwing up their 20’s with rash decisions, I am watching them walk out the door with glee, just to book it back upstairs to climb into my very soft, very luxurious bed. With a push of a button, I enjoy a massage at zero gravity while listening to the sounds of ocean waves from Alexa, the electronic robot that husband ordered from Amazon.
  4. bliss-out-yoga-pose-vivian-neoFinding my bliss. I know, I know. My kids and my husband are my bliss. They are, actually. But I have time, now, to enjoy a hobby/job/cause that brings me joy in addition to them, and so I hone my education and skills at being a Financial Coach, renew my annual pass at the Rec Center for Deep Water Aerobics where I am the youngest one in the class, and Write about whatever the heck makes me smile or cry.
  5. lady cryingCrying Whenever I Darn Well Please. Nope, I don’t turn away if my kids come in the door. Or my husband. Or a stranger. I’ve been through some SSS….tuff. I’ve earned the right to be authentic, and nuts to whomever feels uncomfortable about it. I went a lot of years pretending that “It is no big deal”. Whatever the deal was, it was imperative that I didn’t upset the kids. Or anyone else. Well, that phase is done, and they all have big kid panties they can put on. I know, because I gave them as Christmas gifts.

You will notice that cooking classes have not made it onto my list.

So now I am older than 27, and I found 7 gray hairs last week alone. I pulled them out immediately, of course, as I’m not ready to be Betty White, but I realize that I am more fine with them than I was before. I think it is because I simply didn’t know that it could get good. Getting older, I mean. I didn’t really think that becoming a little calmer, wiser, happier, and having a little fatter pocketbook could balance out the start of wrinkles and gray hair, along with a few more lady lumps.

In the youthful years, I did not take into consideration the look that so many parent’s of 20-something’s have on their faces. I didn’t recognize that small, knowing, smile that the oldsters would give me as I passed them in the halls of church, or in a park, or at a store. I thought those faces were smiling at me because they envied my youth and ability to keep it together at 4 pm, in spite of having 3 boys, a stroller, and a dog as my entourage.

Nope. Not even close.

Those 40- and 50-something parents couldn’t care less that I had water bottles for hydration, snacks that were organic, and that I had just managed to have my oldest son hold on to the pet leash AND his terror of a younger brother without having an all-out brawl. In fact, they probably glazed right over the drama and smiled simply because they knew that once I survived that part, I could partake in what they were on their way to do: Go have a conversation that had nothing to do with kids or bills. It was an encouragement smile, tinged with just a bit of relief that they didn’t have to get involved. It was a placeholder smile, just waiting for me and my entourage to move past them so they could high-five each other and say, “We’re out of that phase! Hallelujah!” and then head on over to find something to do that had nothing to do with surviving the day.

Who knew that was an option? I certainly did not, as I let L. out of the car that day so many years ago. It was a hope, but not a certainty, all vague and foggy, and as I learned that I was no longer as young as a youth, it let me start revving up for the good part. The Today’s.

I’m older, sure. But not old. Old, I have decided, is just about 20 years older than I am at any given moment. And when I am Betty White old, maybe I will look to change my passion to acting.

And then they can make a Bobble-head of me, too.betty white bobblehead doll preview

 

 

 

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The Broccoli Dilemma…


Stranger number 1. “Mormons. Can’t live with ’em, can’t shoot ’em.”
Stranger number 2. “Pssshhhhh. Can’t live without ’em, either. They’re the first ones to show up when a disaster hits.”
Guffaw.
Harrumphhh.
Clinking of the mugs.
And on to the Broncos.

I overheard the comments at a diner and it got me thinking. And feeling. My thinking was, “Amen, brothahs!”, and my feeling was, “UHHH! Ruh-ooode!” Offended, yet understanding and agreeing. Both. How can that be? How? Easy. Life is not tidy.

I am a Mormon. And… I am also, not.

I am a Mormon because I have a name and a blessing, have been baptized, and have had church callings many many times. Actively participating or not, disciplined or not, it has been part of my culture. You could say I am a native. I am Mormon because I strive to be as Christ-like as I can be, choosing Mormonism as my vehicle of organized religion. Yet…I am not Mormon in this way. I am having a crisis of faith. In praying and seeking answers to questions, I have found that I currently do not agree with all views and policies in my religion. I feel very un-faith-like, in this faith-based religion, actually. In my mind, I have divided my faith into two distinct parts. The Church, and The Gospel. It’s how I justify putting up with one so I can enjoy the other.

OKKKKK. Let me stop you right there. This is not a pro- or anti- rant. There is no platform or soap box. So if you are looking for that, head right on back to Facebook. Ahem.

So the “yes I am” and the “no I’m not” kinda feels like… like this. Like dipping broccoli into Ranch dressing. I dig the Gospel principles of love and kindness, and turning the other cheek, and peace from a source who has a much bigger design than I can comprehend. I am good with that. That’s the Ranch. The Church part, the human part, the inconsistency part where there is paperwork and differing personalities clashing and keeping the bills paid… well… that is the iffy part for me. It’s the Broccoli. The have-to have to enjoy the get-to have.

Now, you won’t catch me with the fridge door open in the middle of the night, guzzling Ranch dressing from the bottle. Rest easy, Mom. But you won’t catch me ordering a vat of Cream of Broccoli soup, hold the soup, either. My religion has been my version of a healthy snack. Kind of a no-brainer snack. Only, I am tasting the Broccoli a lot more, lately, and it almost tastes like Brussel Sprouts.

So where does that leave me? How do I categorize myself? In limbo? On the fence? Is there a fence? Hmmmm. I guess there is. And I realize that there has been, for years.
This is an opportunity to look at the fence I am sitting on.

And I know fences.

I grew up in a small town in Utah. Many fences. Way more potholes than people. No stoplight, but lots of community involvement. I, like any other kiddo growing up, had many spoon-fed concepts, from many different sources. For instance:
1. (MOM) We have inside voices and outside voices. Please use them correctly. (ME) Ok.
2. (SESAME STREET) We say please and thank you. Always. (ME) Ok.
3. (DAD) We go to church and all church activities. Every time. (ME) Ok.
4. (NEIGHBORHOOD) Many hands make light work, so pitch in and watch out for ways to help. (ME) Ok.
5. (SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER) Be kind, always. (ME) Ok.
6. Change your underpants every day because you never know when you will get in an accident and have to go to the doctor. (ME) Uhhhhh. Okkkkkaayyy….(That came from Grandma, bless her soul. Sound advice.)

The natural assumption I took on was that a line of authority wasn’t questioned. It didn’t need to be. We all had roles, and mine was to grow up, be good, and have fun. That was as far as I looked.  I naturally assumed that authority was there to protect and provide order to those with less experience and knowledge. It was a learning process, and a safeguard against being hurt. Moms and dads guided and protected us. Adults protected us. We kids respected and listened to them. It totally made sense and worked.

There really wasn’t anything to ponder about. Nothing I needed to change because everything ran smoothly. Not that I always followed them in real world applications. Ask anyone in my family. I was the middle child. Boo Hoo. It was HARRRRRDDDD to follow every assumed custom AND every rule EVERY time. So I messed up. Sometimes I tried really hard to keep it all together, and sometimes I got fed up and did what I wanted, knowing there would be consequences. My choices, my consequences. Pretty cut and dry, right?

You see what I’m saying.

Stay with me here. Many assumptions. My easiest assumption, by the way, was that because I learned these things in MY home and neighborhood, everyone learned those things in THEIR home and neighborhood. Everyone, everywhere. And, I lived a very cut-and-dry, right-or-wrong life. Simple. Until the ripe old age of Kindergarten.

When I was six, I went to elementary school and noticed that not everyone had the same experiences and opinions, or even habits that I did. It was just a quick adjustment, but by the end of the first day I had learned about Root Beer Bubble Gum, Puff The Magic Dragon, and just how many kids there were in my grade. I saw that manners were subjective. (Nose-picking was a lot more common than I thought.) I learned that some girls knew how to do back flips, and immediately wanted that in my life. (Gymnastics was a passion for me for the rest of the week.) I saw a 4-square game outlined in yellow paint on the black-top at recess and immediately needed the giant rubber bouncy ball in my collection of toys. (I didn’t get one.) There was a lot of cool stuff to take in, and I wanted to know about it all.

Well, almost all.

I experienced bullies at recess, right along with back flips and 4-square. They were different than the big-brother bullies, simply because they clashed with my sensibilities so much. (How dare they not be polite? They don’t even know me, yet! We are all supposed to be kind, except for big brothers!) Sometimes, as I went through the grades, bullies would be in packs, and other times they would be on their own. Now I wasn’t always subject to them, but all the classes knew them. We knew who they were, and unofficially formed plans to counter those attacks. Luck helped sometimes. Sometimes not. When a plan fell through, and we would see a victim come back with a story, we shared in that hurt. (Here. Have a piece of Root Beer bubble gum. It’s my last one, but you can have it.)

So here’s the thing. I went out into the wider world, but when I came home, there was a sense of safety and peace. It was a familiar place where I belonged. I could tell my family about the good and the bad, or come back with scrapes and cuts, and my mom and dad would make things right. They never went after those bullies, but made the place where I lived a safe haven. Yep, there were arguments and things I didn’t want to do. Yes, I felt very picked on sometimes. But overall, it was an assumption that when I was home, I was safe. So when certain people were invited into our home, people who were assumed to be safe, but weren’t, it rocked my world.

It didn’t make sense.

How could people so deceitful and sneaky and terrible be allowed in my home? I had no answer that made sense, and at six or seven, I needed a simple answer. Nothing made sense, so I went with the logic that was available at my young age. I simply understood from that time on that because they were in our home, the logical conclusion was that my parents were somehow fine with it in our home. Ergo, they were fine with something terrible existing right along with the safe environment, even scolding me when I didn’t want to be around those guests. That was something that did not make sense, but nevertheless WAS happening in reality. The REAL WORLD stuff was not in alignment with the SHOULD-BE’s. That’s how I knew that life wasn’t black or white.

The reality is that my parents did not know. They were unaware that a terrible thing was happening. In fact, it simply was not a possibility to them that someone would take advantage of the love and kindness that they showed. And because they did not think of that possibility, they came to their own conclusions about my lack of civility to these guests. It became apparent to them that I was moody and over-dramatic and prone to over-exaggeration or fibs, even. My truth became that my mom was cruel on the inside and kind on the outside, and dad trusted mom’s judgement. We all formed our opinions, and life went on. That became the reality.

I bring this up, not to bring you down, but to look at something. I experienced something completely different than my parents did. In our safe haven. In our same family. At the same time. Simple as that. Our experiences led to assumptions about ourselves and each other and that became our reality. Were we both right? In a way, yes. We acted from interactions that actually happened. The actions were obviously right there. And yet…in another way, a resounding NO! I had only one view of an event.

So did they.

The events in their entirety did not just reveal themselves to me, on their own, by the way. Nobody came to me to clarify what was going on at all. It took me actively questioning my side of the past events over years, as an adult. It took talking several times with people about uncomfortable things. It took me allowing myself to follow my gut feelings as well as my head. It took getting out of my comfort zone. And I became the target of some pretty unpleasant words from those completely outside of the situation. What I found, over years of digging, was an opportunity for information to be shared, for relationships to be strengthened, and for my angst to be laid to rest.

So back to the diner. And my fence.

My relationship with my faith has been complicated. Am I Mormon? Yep. I was born and raised in the faith and know how to do all that is asked of me. I have felt love and peace many times over the years, through my faith. Do I feel Mormon? Not exactly, simply because I am questioning the reasoning and accountability of certain parts of my religion. And feeling uncomfortable doing it. My logic says that it should be cut and dry. There is a natural line of authority, put in place to lead, guide, and love a group of people who want peace and joy and love in their lives. The same goes for a natural line of authority in government, companies, and any other leadership organization. It is trust. It is there to give direction to those who do not have all the answers or experience in an area and are wanting that safeguard.

I am having an event, which is a part of a series of events, that I have felt is the whole event. Until now. Now, I feel there is a major lack in the whole picture that I am experiencing.

So do I rock the boat? The Church boat? We-heh-heh-hellll. Let me tell you, rocking the boat is… exhausting. Fighting for answers takes time and commitment. Going up the chain of command is frustrating to me when answers aren’t easy to explain or find. I hear it is the same in the military, the education system, and in corporate life. So the big question for myself is, “Do I want to go here?” I have kids, exercise, work, bills, husband, sleep, fun, reading, living of life to do. Do I really want to move that stuff around? Hey. It’s only my spiritual, eternal self I’m talking about.

Sitting on this fence is starting to get mighty uncomfortable.

Now, my experiences and assumptions are mine. Only mine. Some may have similar stories, and others may not relate at all. A few may even doubt my honesty about my stories. Some have. But worrying about someone else’s opinion is not my business. What I do with my experiences and assumptions, are. So this is what I choose.

1. I choose to use information and facts over opinion and assumptions. It’s certainly interesting to get everyone’s input on a subject, but it is subjective, in the end.

2. I choose to listen to my gut feelings, and temper them with my logic. Because if I don’t, then there isn’t a complete picture.

3. I choose to have a line. I am allowed to form a line of safety. My safety and moral compass is on one side of the line, and on the other side is the stuff that I don’t want in my space. Not for manners sake. Not for comfort sake. Not for other people’s comfort sake. It is a line.

4. I choose to question things so I know how I feel. I am ok with going on faith in some instances, and questioning in others. BOTH.

The diner experience leads me to realize that it is time to search for the questions about certain policies that I have just been waiting for others to answer. It is time to be proactive. Right or wrong? For or against? Yes or no? Puh-leez! Those are about as polarizing as it gets. And that just doesn’t work for me.

There is more to it than either/or. Life is not tidy. My grief is about my conflict. I am grieving the simplicity that I so want in my life. I am grieving my former reality. I am conflicted because I know that I am coming down off the fence. Not only coming down off my perch, but I will be pulling up the fence and seeing what leaves my space, and what stays.

I know I want love and light and peace in my life. I know that duplicity and deceitfulness and looking the other way have no part in my space. Not from myself, and not from others. Even when it would be simpler/easier/nicer to just do nothing.  Am I Mormon? Am I not? Do I believe?

Meh.

How bout…. I am… Hungry. It’s time to hit the fridge and browse. Ranch can go on many things. Not just broccoli. Who knows? In my search for the perfect snack, I just may create a fantastic meal.

 

There’s The Wedding, and Then There’s The Wedding…


There is going to be a wedding.

The question was asked. The answer was given. The status change happened on Social Media. It’s gonna happen. I couldn’t be happier for them. I mean, what isn’t awesome about the opportunity for a stellar day dedicated to a fantastic couple, right? The decor and food, the people and gifts, the love and the toasts and the vows and the dresses and the pictures and…and…

Wait. WHAT?

What was that one word? VOWS? Oh. That’s right. The Vows. The part of the wedding that is, after all, the point of the wedding. The MARRIAGE part of the wedding. Well. There is the wedding, and then there is The Wedding.

Look. I don’t want to get all preachy. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer. I don’t want to… blah blah blah (cue all the other politically correct sayings that preclude me softening the blow of what I am going to say anyway)… but what I will say is something I wish I had listened to a long time ago. Like 24 years ago, to be exact.

It is this: The Wedding is, first and foremost, a WEDDING of two souls. A blending and a taking on of each other’s lives. So take it seriously. It is a commitment for two people who were (up until this point) just hanging out together and enjoying each other’s company, to become one team.  Like, One Team, One Dream, baby. A well-oiled machine. And that takes commitment, yo. Intention with commitment and time.

Oh.

And before you decide to bring up the “I have to be me/I need my own space” debate, let me stop you right there. It would be pointless to have a clone of yourself, or the other person. Dur. So that’s not what I mean. I am talking about stacking the deck in your favor. When people go from being single to being married, they are forming a different entity. They are merging their lives, their beliefs, their traditions, their finances, their family and friends and habits and CREATING SOMETHING NEW. Something more than they were before. Now listen up. I didn’t say something INSTEAD of what they are. I said something MORE. That means you get to be you, AND you get to have more of what you want. It is an enhancement package. You get to be a team.

That is something to celebrate, for sure.

Now being part of a team means bringing each person’s strengths to the table, so to speak. It is laying out the strengths and weaknesses honestly, and saying, “Look. We have a goal. In order to accomplish this goal, we’re going to need every idea, talent, intuition, and resource we can get, so here is what I have.”  In a marriage, by the way, the goal is to love, learn, grow, and have joy…TOGETHER. To be married because it’s a want-to, not a have-to. So get that “I need me time” crap out of your head right now, because you are automatically assuming you can’t have BOTH personal and married time, and that just sets the expectation that there is never enough. Which is crap.

Kapeesh?

If you can buy in to the wanting to be married, then buy in to the importance of making a marriage a want-to instead of a have-to or a  should. Ya know, “I HAVE-TO be getting home. I SHOULD tell him/her about this. I SHOULD see if I can help. I HAVE TO cook/clean/fix this.” Living in “Should’s and Have-To’s” sucks. Stack the deck, right up front by doing some legwork. So get all of the resources out where you can see them and use them. What do we like to do? What do we not like to do? What will we avoid at all costs? What can we do well without even thinking about it? This would take a meeting, logically. (And if anyone reading this has ever been in a meeting, I need you to quit rolling your eyes. Seriously.)

My husband and I don’t work for the same companies, but we are in meetings constantly. He works with teams a lot. So do I. We both use project-based goals. We both work from home, but work with clients, teammates, and have people we report to. We interact with people both in our home and off-site. There have been large, and I mean LAARRRGGGEE amounts of conference calls, Skype, and in-person meetings between the two of our careers. So please get where I am coming from when I say we have some experience in knowing what makes a pointless or annoying meeting, and what makes a productive, positive, even fun meeting. Basically, it goes like this: A big key to a successful meeting is communication of what roles people play. But an even bigger key is knowing what the point of the meeting is, and sticking to it.

Keeping The Thing The Thing, ya know?

Look, it doesn’t matter who caters the meeting, or where the meeting is, or who runs the meeting. I mean, it makes for a more pleasant meeting to have something to chew on while Bob or Dorkus starts a PowerPoint slide show, and I absolutely pay more attention when my tush is on a cushioned chair instead of a plank of wood or standing in a doorway. But no matter how decadent the setting, if the meeting is not relevant, then my time has been wasted, and so has everyone else’s.

So isn’t it kind of key for two people who want to align their lives, to take some time looking at what is important to each of them? Uh…YA-UHHH! Thus the meeting. The sit-down. The beginning. Anything important and lasting and good takes planning for it, right? A trip. A job. A party. A place to live.

A life.

Alrighty then. Here is where I wish I would have taken this advice. My wedding was my wedding. There were guests. There was a cake and gifts and music and awkwardness and laughter and then…. It was done. I intentionally left out all the describing words because it ended after a day. That part is irrelevant, other than as a memory. Harsh, I know, but the advice I minimized cost me YEARS of frustration, trying to figure out how I could have been taken by surprise when this particular topic came up, or when that particular situation reared its head.

I skipped the legwork.

My husband did not marry the venue. Or the cake. Or my dress. Or the music. But he did marry all of what comes with me. We chose to blend our lives, and that is the good and the bad. The positive and the negative. Which, I am telling you, came as a SHOCK down the line. Now granted, we didn’t live together first. We went from our parent’s homes to our own home, so everything from morning breath and snoring, to attitudes about keeping the house in order, was a new thing.

Those things got worked out, eventually, but there were things that really should have been talked about before we leaped into a committed life together. Things that would have made our lives, and our children’s lives, simpler. Things like…Religion. (GASP!) Life Insurance. (Hand over mouth.) Budgeting. (Ewww.) Parenting Styles. (Well, now that’s just too far.)

Suck it, Propriety.

I regret only a few, few, few things in my life because I deeply feel that the good and bad has made me who I am now, and I worked quite hard to accept and enjoy who I am, but seriously… I would be an idiot not to regret asking the hard questions when it would have made our life easier. We stacked the deck against us in so many ways because of it. I was too enthralled with having a wedding to ponder for long on what the wedding was for. The wedding could have been planned for and executed and thought of later with just as much joy and excitement as it already was, but with a more complete understanding of what to expect, if I had simply spent more time heeding advice to make The Thing the Thing.

The wedding is exciting. The wedding has a lot of magic to it, and should be remembered fondly. But The Wedding Vows… that is a FAN FRIKKIN TASTIC ride. It takes time, and heartaches, and patience and joy and love and loyalty to the team and goal to make it valuable, and it is SO WORTH IT. But for crying out loud, have a meeting first. Take notes. Get some great munchies and a soft place for your butt to go while you do it.

And then….?? Well, then, maybe you both can watch the PowerPoint slide show with the lights dimmed down…

 

What Do I Do With What I have?


SALT-DOUGH-CLAY

My mom used to make us kids homemade clay. It was salt dough clay. As a little kid, I would be thrilled to open the twist tie on the little sandwich bag of homemade clay, plopping it out onto the kitchen table and immediately squooshing it into my fingers. It could be red, or yellow, or just plain ‘ol dough-colored, depending on my mother’s ambition that day, and I had no wondering about how she made it. It just showed up sometimes on cold winter days to keep us occupied, and I thought she was magic because 1. SHE COULD JUST….. MAKE!… A TOY HAPPEN, POOF!! and 2. It was ACTUALLY EDIBLE. A FER REALSIES EDIBLE TOY!!!

Cheerios necklaces would have to bump up their game to compete.

OF COURSE, the first time she told us about the clay being edible we were skeptical. But that didn’t stop us from biting into a chunk of it as soon as her back was turned. She knew we would. She counted on us testing it. She told us casually that this was clay that we could even eat, IF WE CHOSE TO. (She said this last bit in a softer, quicker, glossed-over tone that I recognized later as the tone used at the end of a used car commercial.) We ignored the ominous and mysterious tone of those words as she walked away from us and over to the counter.

polaroid cameraShe turned back around with a Polaroid camera just in time to catch our puckered up faces. Which is exactly what I did when I put the foul stuff in my mouth. She pushed the button of the clunky camera just as I took a big bite of the clay and the picture shows a little kid in pig tails making a startling discovery in her mouth. That kid’s nose was wrinkled up, one eye squished shut, and her tongue shoved out of her mouth in an attempt to expel the mushy mess.  It tasted bland and salty and boring. I felt totally ripped off. I assumed that magic would have been better tasting.

I guess Cheerios wasn’t out of a job just yet.

Taste aside, I used the clay and just knew it was there FOR ME. I owned it as soon as it plopped onto the table. It was my blob to use as I saw fit. Sure I would look around, eventually, to see what the other kids had created with their mass, but mostly I was into my own experience and that was enough for me. That clay was the tool I used for my own imagination, and there was no right or wrong way to mold it.

clay snakesIt wasn’t until I got older that I would start to compare my creations with the other blobs around the school tables. I mean, I noticed the clay snakes, and the more advanced snakes that got wound into clay snake-bowls, and, of course, the flat circles with fist prints all over the surface when snake bowls were as far as we could go, creatively. I could admire them a bit. But it wasn’t until elementary school that I would compare my snakes and bowls to the sculptures of elephants and human faces that Jay, the kid on the wobbly stool, would make.

What the?

clay elephant I remember coming to his end of the table and just staring at the miniature elephant and thinking, “Um… Nobody told me THAT was an option or possibility with THIS clay…” It had never occurred for me to use the stuff for anything other than playtime nonsense. Or as a test for my mouth. This dude had taken a toy and transformed it into something that mattered. Something better than what it started out to be.

That was when my mom’s salt dough stopped being a toy, and started becoming a challenge.

My clay bowls stopped being tubes of rolled up clay all wound around on itself, and started emerging with a flattened circle molded up and around just so and… and… that was as far as it went. The sad little bowl would crack on the side as it fell back into a circle, and I would look left and right to see if anyone noticed my failure. They didn’t. They were too busy craning their necks as Jay would create pictures on paper as well. This kid was a genius, clearly.

And then it was time to go out for recess. That trumped all.

Jay had his life, and I had mine. We would pass each other in the halls, or at recess, or in classes, but we simply didn’t have theTrumpet same strengths and talents. Art was merely something I took in school as a class. For him, it became a way of life. I chose the trumpet, instead. That was my dad’s influence as he shared that he had been in a band, once, and, in my imagination, he had traveled the world, practically, so it was my duty and joy to pass on his legacy. Making dad proud got me through some harsh practices and criticism from my band teacher as I started working on my craft. Music became my passion, and between the trumpet, the baritone, and the piano, it still permeates my life today.

So what does that have to do with my mom’s clay?

It’s all about the opportunity. And the work. That lump of salt dough, primitive and simple, opened up a doorway of possibilities. It showed me a way to put my imagination to work, and then see the results in real time. It let me see that, no matter how far down the road I chose to go with my talent and dedication in salt dough sculpture, it was doable to make one thing transform into another, better, thing. That a-ha moment transferred over to baking/cooking (not well, but still). And writing. And tennis. And turning kids, a husband, and a house into a home.

girl-playing-pianoIt transformed my teen years. I was melodramatic, idealistic, and a bit hormone-ee. I would get mad at my siblings a lot. And my mom, for being so mean. She wouldn’t be JUST my friend. She wouldn’t support me in running away to live in a tree-house with my friend. She wouldn’t change with the times. How DARE she be a mom first, not letting me get away with compromising the great for the now! Harrumph!

Middle kid syndrome, and all that.

I would pound out my frustrations on the piano. (Also mom’s fault for giving me the freedom and lessons to play around on those keys whenever I wanted, no matter how loud and repetitive I got.) I would pound and play, and at some point, I reasoned that if Beethoven’s ideas could be turned into song, then nothing was stopping me from using my own imagination to turn teenage angst and passion into writing music that other people could admire. So I started risking. It turned into a joyful outlet. (Also, being over-dramatic helped. Um…helps.)

Now I’m not a world-renowned… anything…, but that’s my choice, as I see it. A chunk of natural ability and affinity obviously helps, in Beethoven’s and Jay’s cases. But the hard work and determination…well…that’s up to them. And to me. I have no idea how far down the road my imagination will take me in different areas, but I’ll never know until I take that possibility of talent out of the plastic baggie. Maybe take that first bite of saltiness and roll it around in my mouth to decide if it is worth working with. Anything is possible, right?

dough-snake Just ask the salt-dough snake.

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2015 in Life

 

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Move… (Story Idea)


Dear Husband…

My suggestions worked best as letters, I’ve found. We, Greg and I, have taken to checking the mailbox out front every day, just in case the flag is up. It lets us know we were thought of. We have done this little method of honey-do’s, love letters, and just-because’s for a few years now. Complete with those fake stamps that come in the mail when you order a new set of checks. It’s a more complete look. I am well aware that email is an option, but really, who doesn’t love a handwritten letter addressed to them? Plus, it gives the new mail-lady, Merna, a reason to hang out for a moment, wondering why there is a letter from our address, going TO our address.

Which she does. Every time.

I make it a thing to be there at the front window at noon-ish, to watch. The envelopes are random enough that she scrunches up her eyes all crinkle-like and purses her lips for a minute. I can practically see the lightbulb pop over her head, over and over again. I chalk it up to her advancing years. Amusing.

Ahem…

Dear Husband,
I am writing to inform you that I have come to a brilliant conclusion. We should move back home. Home to our roots. We grew up together there, married there, and it has been a long time since we have been back. Enough time has passed that most of our co-conspirators will have grown mature (like us, heh heh), moved out of town, or still be serving time in prison. 🙂 Our original community, our family and neighbors, and the general feel of belonging may just be fun after our jaunts to The Great Outside, gaining our own habits and traditions.
What say you?
-Me

I mailed it, put the flag up, and looked at my list of things to do. House stuff, bills, and errands were at the top, of course. I chose to make another list, however. I flopped down in The Queen’s Chair, my big leather recliner, and enjoyed the quiet as the sun warmed the room through the big window. The King’s Chair had our cat, Move, in it. She was there in defiance of my husband’s proclamation: MOVE, CAT! YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED IN MY CHAIR. She looked at me sleepily, and promptly closed her eyes. She makes LAZY a career. I turned to my phone. It had one of those notebook apps on it, and I used it way too much. It was a jumble of random thoughts, lists, and phone numbers.

I added to it.

I added all the things needed for the move to our hometown. I ignored immediately the reality of the list. Or the facts about things like… details. Nope, I just bounced around to the beginning of the end of our time here, in this house.

-Take a trip to hometown to look for just the right house. Preferably the beautiful one on Main Street with that wraparound porch. I want to watch the parades with ease.

As a former marching band member and parade participant, I wondered what it would look like from the sidelines. I remembered the practices throughout the summer, marching down various streets, lanes, roads, and avenues, carrying an enormous instrument and knowing I was part of the center of attention for those moments. The attention had made me a bit nervous and self-conscious, practicing on songs that I may or may not have flubbed, until I would notice various kids, out playing in their yards before the heat hit, waving and waving and waving for us to… what? Nod our head? Come over and see their stick art in the sand pile? Wave back? They would watch us play, perform our various maneuvers, and as we would march away, would go right on back to their stick play.

What is it that makes people wave at their live entertainment, anyway?

I remember me waving fanatically at a huge cartoon mouse at Disney World, a couple years ago. Couldn’t help it. Just a knee jerk reaction. I didn’t even have a little kid with me to use as camouflage. Other adults would be holding a little one, pulling up their kid’s chubby arm and make it flap in the air. This was the strategy to gain favor with the kid, while using their own grown-up enthusiasm to convince the child that seeing a giant mouse coming toward them for the first time was natural, normal, and pleasant. Worked like a charm. Kids all over the place would giggle and grin, heedless of the drool running down their chin. Older children would jump up and down, one hand on the pantleg of their adult and the other waving desperately to be seen. That grown-up would usually take pity on them and swish them up and over and onto their shoulders for a better view.

There was no one pulling up MY limb, urging me to gain favor with the mouse. That energy just burbled up, and before I knew it, I was just as happy as the 4 year old standing next to me picking his nose with the handle of a lollipop. I waved, the mouse waved back, probably to the 4 year old, and I felt special. End of story.

I would nod my head at those kids as I marched on, by the way. I’d nod my entire brass instrument to do it, and it made me feel gracious, doling out my special acknowledgement as I marched down the street. Hello to you, young one. And to you, flag-waver. Nod for you and your cabbage-patch kid, as well…. It would make up for the enormous, wet ring I would gain from that mouthpiece being attached to my lips for 2 hours. It would make up for the blisters from the ridiculous plasticky shoes I was forced to wear. They matched the Colonel Sanders get-up that someone, years ago, decided was a good idea for a uniform. Bright red WOOL suit? In July? What kind of monster were you, former Band President??

I believe the waving also made up for my face getting splotchy from the dehydration. Sickly white patches would contrast with hold-your-breath-for-as-long-as-you-can red spots around my face and neck when I would exert myself. Ask anyone that played tennis with me. I have heard, “OH YOUR POOR FACE…” way too many times for my own good. It was always accompanied by, “Can I get you something? A doctor?…” and it would bring on my canned answer, “I’m FINE, really. I’m alright. I get this way when I’m having fun. HaHaHa…” Not attractive, a’tall.

The looks I would get from marching were worth it, because as I became accustomed to the routines, the notes, and the stares, I’d enjoy the day. The flags. The floats and Mustangs filled with this county’s royalty or that little league championship team. The fire engines spraying water and throwing taffy simultaneously, daring the kids to come close enough to grab the treasure.

There were the elderly ladies holding court under the big elm trees, their grandkids and husbands opening coolers full of soda for them. They would wave benevolently at the parade participants, many of whom they had taught in church. Their wispy, fine hair, shaped in a perfect ball, would crown them in subtle hues of blues, grays, and silvers.

I would pass the extended family sections, cordoned off by folding camp chairs and die-hards, camping out for the prior 24 hours to get the coveted spot under the broom trees. Dozens of grown-ups and gaggles of kids, all with faces painted red, white, and blue to match the shirts, socks, and hair bows their moms had so joyously created from scratch. All would wave and clap as we went by, hoping we would stop and perform a simple routine for them. Just for them, it would seem.

And then there was the house I loved. Victorian, large, and grown seamlessly from the informal, yet tidy yard, a happy crew of twenty or so would be barbecuing and playing water balloon games on the big lawn. Yelling and laughing would follow my ears as we marched to the cadence of the drums. That house meant love. It meant Rest-From-The-Cares-Of-The-world. It meant a sigh of relief at the end of a full day.

I realized two things then, as I reminisced. 1. Move had moved from the King’s Chair to my lap, and 2. I had started snoring.

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2015 in Life

 

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Snowballs, Slugs, and Cohorts…


A snowball whizzed inches from my head. It beaned Greg, the skinny kid with a huge nose and too much acne, on the side of the face. Greg fell back with a grunt. That guy had the WORST luck. I ducked down fast, and looked around. Jerry was inching his face around the side of the fort, low and slow, an expert in the art of snowball war. Look at that form. He’s a natural!  He had three snowballs at the ready, and his hand was groping for them, waiting for the right minute to… BAM! Quick as lightning, Jerry launched ONE!, TWO!, THREE!, snowballs and, as the enemy was looking to dodge them, he shot his hidden fourth missile, smacking the leader. It creamed him right in the kisser, and boy was he ticked! I bellowed a triumphant “TAKE THAT, BROTHER!”, the tamest of my teasing, and stood up to gloat. Looking backI probably should have kept those words to myself because three big shapes bounded from the opposing snow wall. It looked like Jerry was in for a world of hurt.

Wait a minute… I WAS IN FOR A WORLD OF HURT!

And we were. Gone were the gentleman’s unspoken rules of snowball fighting. The part where opponents stay behind their own forts, except when TIME OUT is called. Or to scramble for mounds of snow when the current pile is used up. The rule where plans were made and carried out with whispered commands and nods of the heads.  Those rules became moot with that last insult. It put my brother over the top, literally, as he leaped over the fort itself, and the older, grumpier boys barreled right on after him to pummel us.

Jerry received some punches, but they were doled out with respect. After all, he had a great arm and great aim, and in the snowball fighting world, that meant something. Greg was also spared the brunt of the attack, but mostly out of pity. I mean, the guy was not a threat. With his gangly limbs and enormous glasses, he had mostly been taking up space. But I… well… I was the real target. I was mouthy and talked big. It was time for them to put me in my place.

Richard, my older brother by about 2 minutes, is all, took some real whacks at me. My nose got bloodied, and my right arm went numb with the knuckles of his fist. We had bruised his ego, my friends and I, and by unspoken rule, he had to let me have it. His cohorts backed him up loyally, if not quite as enthusiastically. He wanted me to call uncle, but suddenly I rallied. I’m not going down like this, no sir!

As unbecoming as it was, I yelled an obscenity. A full obscenity about mom, which surprised us both, seeing that 1. Swear words were not an option at our house. 2. I was willing cross the line about our respected and feared mother! It signaled to my gang that all bets were off. My team scrambled backwards over the snow, getting a bit of space between our enemies, and then went back in. I kicked and slapped and bit. I pulled hair and tweaked any part of loose skin I ran into. My buddies lunged into their own particular forms of scrapping. In short, we fought like … like… well, we fought like girls. I was fine with that. After all, I WAS a girl, and my gang was firmly under my leadership.

Jerry switched up his moves from the dodge and weave, to the yell and kick. Screaming,Hi-Yaaa!”, at the top of one’s lungs could be surprisingly effective. Greg spit a loogie as he got close to his enemy’s hair, and I wondered if that wasn’t going too far, but the technique was flawless. Richard and his right hand man, Dan, skittered back as if it were venom. There was no holding back. And in that moment, something great happened.

I realized that being the younger, smaller twin didn’t mean I had to be the weaker twin. I had bowed to my brother for most of my life. He had my back when my mouth got us in trouble, but against him, he made sure I knew he was in charge. Well, Not Today!!

I punched my brother as hard as I could in the stomach, pouring my new found confidence into my fist.  I got ready to take the hit that should have come back. I even closed my eyes for a second, anticipating, and then…nothing. I opened my eyes and saw the surprised look on his face as he experienced my determination. Richard was hesitating, probably for the first time in his life. I saw him go from a husky, swaggering 10-year old, to a sullen pre-teen that didn’t know what to do next. I had stood up to him, and it threw him off.

I could see the gears turning in his head. My team was supposed to take the hits, and he would save face. Instead, our little gang found some backbone. Some grit. After all, my team was willing to SPIT to defend ourselves, and that was commitment. We didn’t care about his expectations, and that was new. And Richard did NOT do change well. His pack noticed his reluctance, and slowed up a bit. Then stopped altogether. We were at an impasse.

All of us gulped great breaths of air while looking at each other. I needed this win, so I was grinning as I was gulping. I knew I was winning simply because I gave as good as I got. I noticed a cut on Richard’s cheek, and remembered where my nails scratched his flesh. I had also given him a good kick to the behind, but knew he would never acknowledge that. I had cheated unabashedly to gain my win, fighting all girl-like, but, I reasoned, he started it when he broke the rules of the snowball fight in the first place. Also… we were 10. Fairness was still a loose interpretation. Fluid, if you will. As long as Mom didn’t find out.

She didn’t.

Our gangs broke up, claiming the need to go home for chores/dinner/homework. Richard and I walked into the kitchen together, and mom asked immediately about our scrapes and cuts. She scolded us for our rough play as the marks showed their brilliant reds and pinks. Mom demanded to know what had happened, and who’s mother needed calling, but we shrugged it off as no big deal. She huffed and puffed, shaking her stirring spoon and threatening to tell our father, but we knew she was reaching. Eventually, she went back to cooking dinner.

Richard and I never spoke about the broo-ha-ha after that, but we had established mutual respect, and that went a long way in the years to come.

“And that was the beginning of standing up for myself, Dot.”

I was sitting at the edge of her bed as Emily, my granddaughter, listened, occasionally hiccuping through tears of frustration and pain. I called her Dot, short for Granddaughter, when I wanted her to know I was in her corner, and this was one of those times. “Never confuse being strong with being mean. I know your mom would say you shouldn’t have fought back, but I think you were spot on.”

Emily had been banished to her room. After a humiliating event of being sent to the principal’s office, she had to watch the manoffice%20of%20the%20principal make a phone call to her mother. It had been a long day all around, and she looked miserable. She now held on to her childhood blanket, only acknowledging it at all when she was distraught. (Emily was way too old for it, she had claimed, but allowed it on her bed “for her mom’s sake”, who was all for sentimentality.) Emily now scrunched the tattered corner of the yellow blankie, wringing it back and forth in her hands.

That’s how I knew she was in anguish.

She had been part of an “altercation” involving 2 other girls in the hallway. Mr. Calloway, her principal, had scolded her soundly for fostering “an atmosphere of hostility”, letting her mom know there was no choice but to suspend her from school for 3 days. Emily’s mom had needed to take time off work to pick her up immediately.

“The ride home was awful, Nana. Mom yelled at me the WHOLE WAY!” Emily snuffled a bit as she started talking, and wiped her nose on her blanket unconsciously. Dot is adorable when she’s angry. She gets that from me. She was so vulnerable, but had started down her path to defiance. I felt honored to share this time with her. I looked attentive, keeping my musings to myself, and let her keep talking.

Apparently, Emily’s mom, Andrea, was outraged at the barrage from Mr. Calloway, and wouldn’t hear a word of explanation from her daughter. “Do you know what I had to interrupt to come pick you up?”, Emily mimed with exaggerated voice and motions. “A very important meeting with my BOSS!” She tapped her nails on an imaginary steering wheel and huffed a bit. “Now it looks like I’ve got family problems, and I already have to compensate for being the only woman on the team. UUUHHHH! I’m so disappointed in you!…” On and on Emily ranted, not letting up until she finally felt done.

“Then your mom pointed her finger up the stairs, and off you went to your room, right?” I concluded for her. “You promptly called your Nana, and here I am. Nana will fix it. She’ll stand up to Mom. Plus, she spoils me!”  I did my own imitation of Emily, exaggerating my motions with my arms folded and a HARRUMPH at the end. “So you waited in your room, fostering your outrage by mentally conversing, first with the assumptive principal, and then your unfair mother. I know you, Dot. You do this, just like I used to do it.” Emily smiled, faintly, and I knew I was right.

“Let me guess what you said, okay? I bet I’m close.” Ahem. 

“Oooooo… you have to pick on me JUST to make yourself important, you old geezer. You strut around making commands and don’t have a clue about whats REALLY going on!” That’s what I should have said to him. I don’t even care. Hmmph! What is with his hair anyway? That comb-over isn’t fooling anyone. And that wrinkly old suit? He wears it every day! EWW! He is such a jerk!

Emily smiled a bit more, accompanying it with expressions of derision and a bit of eye rolling. It felt good.

“And you, MOM! Just stop! Let ME speak for once! It wasn’t even my fault!”  Emily was especially angry with her mom, as she wanted desperately to impress her own hero. Her smile lessened and her eyes went down to her blanket as I mimicked her frustration. “I hate that you just assume I was fighting for no reason. And saying you are DISAPPOINTED in me? Well… maybe I’m disappointed in YOU!…” 

Emily pounded a fist into her pillow. She was that angry.

“You were probably plotting your agenda to run away when I came in, weren’t you? Well, I’m here now, so you tell me why it all happened.” I hugged her, and then listened. Haltingly, she explained that she had been the brunt of gossip, and then jeers and insults by 2 girls in the school hallway. She had tried to ignore it calmly, but when they started in on her single mother being only able to afford second-hand clothes for her raggedy daughter, she exploded.

Emily hurled an insult or two, Also gotten from me, and the girls pounced on her. “FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!” The crowd chanted, and was broken up, but not before there were slaps and gouges exchanged. She gave as good as she got.

“I tried so hard to let it go, Nana, but I just…couldn’t. Mom works her tail off so we can be ok, and I had to just… you know, do SOMETHING, and now Mom is mad at me. I HATE HER!” Emily shut her eyes and leaned back, sullen. I leaned back next to her. “Dot, give your mom some time. She didn’t stand up to her bully when she should have, and now she has to fight every day for her place at work. Let’s wait a bit, and then we will talk with her together. You scored a victory today. They won’t challenge you again, at least for a while. And the other students know not to mess with you. I’m proud of you.”

Emily’s hiccups eventually slowed, then stopped. We spoke of boys and … boys. Then it was time to take on my daughter, but Dot now knew she had a cohort, and that made her brave. It was a start.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2015 in Life

 
 
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