Tuesday, August 29, 2006

On being weird...

"I'm weird."
"Nooooo...you're quirky. Quirky and weird are...two very different things."
--Runaway Bride

I am weird. There, I said it.

It's not that I ever tried to be weird; in fact, quite the opposite. All I ever aspired to in life was normalcy. (perhaps that is weird in and of itself!) But, I have found myself making a mental list of things I do or think that are just at home in the weird category.

For instance:

--When adjusting the television volume, I must have it on an even number. 16 or 18 is fine--17 or 19 is not. If 17 is the perfect volume at the time, I will still lower or raise it and have it too loud or too soft. Sacrifices must be made.

--I think that if I never buy a 12- or 15- seater passenger van that I can pretend I don't have 7 children and therefore retain a level of "coolness" while driving. (You know, because my filthy, white, almost-10-year-old mini-van with the "Troopers wear safety belts" license plate cover just screeeeeeams cool)

--I find myself deliberately buying odd numbers of canned goods when shopping. Look--I realize this flys in the face of my "even number only" T.V. volume thing, but in my defense: this is a complicated system, folks.

--I blow a kiss to the roof of my car and shout "Mazel tov!" when running a yellow light. (this I blame on a high school boyfriend)

--I think that "away" uniforms in football look wimpy. Therefore, I have reached the following conclusion: when they lose on the road, it's not that they don't have home field advantage. It's that they look wimpy and the other team thinks they can take them. For real.

--I have to ask my husband how old I am. This is completely understandable in the context that age is a number and numbers involve counting and counting is math and I stink at math.

--If my house is clean when a guest enters my home, I no longer care if it stays clean. They have seen it clean, and they recognize that since it was clean when they got there and now it no longer is, it is somehow their fault and not mine.

--I have to have reading material wherever I go. Bathroom, driving the kids around, doctors appointment, eating, going to a party. I have actually made myself late for things looking for something to read for if I got there early. Oh, yeah. I am just that good.

Well, I have decided to embrace my weirdness. And I invite all to do the same. Glory in your collection of eccentricities! Heaven knows somebody should.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Woman's Touch...

I've always believed that a house was the reflection of the woman who lives there. I think that the way a home is decorated and kept says volumes about what is important to the woman who claims that space as hers. How she feels about herself and those she loves; what she finds beautiful; what matters to her--it is all there within those four walls. And it doesn't seem to matter who else shares that house with her...there will be glimpses of others but the heart of that house really will be the heart of that woman.

Never was this more clear to me than this week.

We helped our dear friend say goodbye to his wife yesterday. She died this week after a long illness. And we have tried, as best as we can, to help him and his family through this painful time. When I first was told that Christie was gone, I didn't really think about much beyond the grief that her husband and 8 year old son were feeling. It didn't really occur to me what I would miss about her.

Then I walked into her home.

Suddenly I was surrounded with memories of Christie. The detailed conversation about her paint treatment on one wall; the laughing and joking in her backyard eating area; her rambunctious dogs scaling the backs of her sofas while she rolled her eyes and explained they believed they were cats.

And it wasn't just memories; it was how the house just was her. Christie. Warm, stylish, centered on family. There was the wall; the one that she patiently added photograph after photograph to until it was filled from top to bottom with the smiling faces of family and friends. Her kitchen; organized and filled with every thing she needed to be hostess to her friends. Every nook and cranny filled with something interesting to look at.

In high school, whenever I saw Christie I felt compelled to watch her. I wanted to see what she was doing and what she was wearing...she had such charisma. And I found myself feeling that again, standing there in her home. I wanted to see it all and soak it all in and just enjoy what she had put together. So I did.

After being in Christie's home, knowing she would never return, I have had cause to evaluate my own home and the legacy that lives there. I hope that when I leave this life, that my home really will be filled with me. I hope that one day, people who didn't even spend much time with me could come to my home and understand who I was. Like I was able to do with Christie. I wasn't her close friend, but being in her home...I could feel her and know her in a powerful way.

And I am grateful for that. And so I go away with her example, and I will do as she did--live my life and keep my home with my very own touch.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Listen, Kid: I'll tell you when you can think for yourself...

One of the least amusing challenges in parenting is when your children figure out that they can make up their own minds. I mean, really--how dare they? We've been doing a perfectly fine job of handling that for them. (with the exception of the time we thought we'd save money by cutting their hair ourselves, what was that?)

It starts with the day they find out that if they want to, they can refuse to wear the clothes you'd like them to. Then, its pretty much war--unless your mommy fantasies included your sweet toddler girl wearing a flowered skirt with an entirely different type of flowered blouse and bright green (a green which does not exist in nature, let alone on her skirt or blouse) snow boots. Or unless, deep in your heart, you really truly hoped that your little man's outfit of choice would be cowboy boots...and a smile.

Then it moves into a lot of other arenas having to do with what they like and don't like; who they choose to be friends with; and what they are going to do with their time.

I had some ideas. They weren't big ideas, but they were my ideas about what my kids would like, and do, and be. In a cruel streak of divine humor, my kids have exactly NO desire to even HEAR my ideas--let alone embrace them. Dang it.

"You should really think about cutting your hair, like in a bob, it'd be so cute if..."
"I don't see why you don't try out for the debate club, I mean really--all that good arguing skill just being wasted on your parents..."
"Honey, please, could you just wear this outfit, there are going to be pictures taken and people there I want to think well of me..."
"Why don't you spend more time with the little Jones boy? He seems so sweet and polite..."
"You know, when I was [insert age] I would have LOVED to have the chance to..."

But, no. The little buggers seem to be determined to to find their own way, make their own mistakes, and decide for themselves what things are of value to them. And really, when you get down to it, that is really what we should want for them. To find their own way. To discover where their hearts are, to learn what they are passionate about and what makes them happy. There are a million different ways--all fine and all legal--for a child to live their life. But I think sometimes as parents we are so afraid that their choices may bring regret that we push a little too hard for them to be what we want. And really, what we want for them is what we want for ourselves. Maybe, instead, we should become who we want to be and let our children do the same.

As we raise our children we do the best we can to instill in them the things we hold most precious. We can teach them and train them and hope it sticks. But in the end, it should be as a wise prophet once said, "we teach them correct principles, and let them govern themselves."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Toddlers & Teenagers...

There is very little difference between a toddler and a teenager, I've decided. And since I currently have more than one of both, I feel fairly qualified to make this claim.

They both:

...function under the assumption that the world revolves around them.
...scream and cry if they don't get their way.
...hate whatever is put in front of them at the dinner table.
...want to wear clothes that make no sense whatsoever.
...speak in a dialect that takes great patience to understand.
...never think anything was their fault.
...tell you they hate you when they are mad.
...NEED to have control of the T.V.
...can't sit still in church unless they are sleeping.
...try to get behind the wheel of a car in spite of the clear and present danger of them doing so.
...expect to have their needs and wants RIGHT NOW.
...spend too much time in the bathroom.
...believe life is not fair.
...make messes that they figure their mom was born to clean up.
...are at their sweetest when they are asleep.