Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Just Say NO!

Just say No! ... to drugs, to alcohol, to cheating, to lying, to living above your means, to judging others, to wasting resources... these are the messages we hear constantly via family, friends, media.
But there are other things some of us should say NO! to. Things we are ashamed to talk about. Things that we are afraid will make us look bad in other's eyes.
I am one of those people who should say NO! a lot more often than I do. And not to bad things...
I am ashamed to say that I should say NO! to requests from the PTA, Sports Teams, DeMolay, Rainbow, family, friends... I should, but I don't.
I teach my children that to Give of One's Self is the reason we are put on this earth. To help others when we are able, to think about the other person, or the greater good, before ourselves is how God wants us to live our lives. That if you say you will do something then come hell or high water you do it. Your word is your bond. Your Integrity is the best measure of the person you truly are. If you cannot be trusted in small things then you will never be trusted in large ones.
These are the simple truths that I base my life, and how I live it, on.
Now I have come to a place in my life where saying NO! is required more often than I want to admit, not because I am lazy or getting old or even uncaring. No, it is worse than that, for me at least. I am tired. I am literally tired of doing, going, planning, making, building, organizing, calling, begging- for the schools, the sports organizations, the youth groups, family, friends, and work. I have cut and pasted. Made phone call after phone call. Planned event after event. Often used my own money with a small hope that I would be re-paid, and more often not.
I want to say No! really, I do! But then I get a call from my Mother-In-Law. Would I go to chemo with a family friend- just to make sure he is okay on his own? Of course I can. Oh crap- I was supposed to say NO! to that wasn't I? But what if that were my loved one- husband, child, mother, father, sister, brother... alone in a world of medical terms and unknown outcomes? Wouldn't I want someone there to be with them? Isn't that what I teach my children we should do? I lead through example. My children see me volunteering, helping, giving of myself- even when I have nothing left to give. But to do otherwise would make me one of those "Do as I say, not as I do" people. That I could not abide.
And if I had said No! to sitting with a family friend while he recieved his chemo treatment I would have missed out on a wonderful, lively and intelligent conversation. I truly enjoyed talking with him about common interests, life lessons and lives we lived in the past. I gained more from him than I could have possibly given.
And that is why I continue to say YES! to so many requests for my time, energy and resources. What I gain is so often more than I can possibly give, the lessons learned, the people met, the time well spent is almost always worth any sacrifice I had to make to keep my word.
Just Say NO!--- yes, I do say no more than I used to. I am easing into it. It is hard to change the way you have lived your life for 40-something years all at once. I think that by the time I am old and gray- okay more so than I already am- I will have this NO! thing down.
Until then, I will continue to make small strides toward that end. I will still say YES! more than I should- for my own health and welfare- but I still have children that are learning how to be good people and the only way I know to do this is by DOING what I tell them they should do.
So... please, only ask me for help if you REALLY need it... you know that I cannot
Just Say NO!... not yet anyway!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Do you ever wonder...?

Do you ever wonder why we do the things we do?
I do... and I am sure I am not alone in this endeavor. Although, I have no idea why I spend precious time wondering about these things.
I have also noted I spend time worrying about things I have no control over or cannot change.
I do not recall spending this much time on such things when I was younger- not to imply that I am older now- just that maybe I thought about what I was thinking less than I do now?
Alright, you got me. I am older. And wiser? I'd like to think so, but then that gets me thinking about things I need to remember (in case I suddenly get alzheimers or something) and the things I want to remind myself to remember ( like where I hid the cookies so the kids wouldn't find them then I forgot- they're probably stale by now anyway). Then I start thinking about all the things and people I have forgotten and that turns the wheels and the mind skids to a grinding halt reminding me of my class reunion in July ( that I am the planner of and have much to do yet) and the thought of July brings me to the eagerly anticipated birth of my first grandchild due the first week of July which brings me to... wondering when the baby will be born, who she will look like, will she be smarter than the generation that has gone before, will she be successful and happy and loved and appreciated... and why do I even spend the time wondering these things in the first place? Then comes the worry. Will she be healthy, will my daughter survive the delivery without killing her husband, will I be in town when the baby is born ( she better wait til I get back from vacation!), will she be tiny or big ( like her mother and aunts and uncles were)?
So here I am back at the beginning, again.
Do you ever wonder why we do the things we do?
My answer is no... I'm too busy wondering to actually DO anything!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

It's Raining... Again!

Hey there! Today is my mother's birthday. In addition to that we celebrated my oldest daughter's coming baby in the traditional way- with a shower ( how appropo is that?).
Again add that tomorrow is Mother's Day and that yesterday my oldest niece turned 16... this is a very busy week for us. Did I mention that my oldest son was 20 a few days ago and his girlfriend became the same age the day before that?
As you can see just keeping up with the goings-on in our family can be trying and quite exhausting all by itself. Now add to the equation RAIN. Yep, that lovely life-giving manna from heaven that has been falling from the sky every single day for the last 10 days without fail. Granted, not every day has been a torrential, never-ending downpour; but quite frankly many of them have. When I have made allusions to keeping an eye out for an Ark to come floating into my back yard over the last few weeks, I have been only half-joking! The rain came down so hard on Thursday the water rushed off my roof in such a volume that it completely jumped the gutters and fell like a waterfall to the garden below. Of course it continued this way for hours at a time off and on throughout the day. And again, may I reiterate, this is not the only day in the last 2 weeks it has done so.
Upon waking yesterday I was stunned to see a brilliant shining orb of such a golden hue it gave the appearance of a highway warning sign flashing across the horizon. I should have heeded it's warning. I should have realized it was indeed flashing a warning to the unsuspecting and oh-so-naive humans below. It was shouting out, " Hey You! Stop and Enjoy My Warmth cuz I Ain't Gonna Hang Around Hear All Day Long!". Man, I should have been paying attention. Perhaps then I would have spent an extra few minutes enjoying my morning cuppa joe and watching the hummingbirds and house wrens in the yard. Perhaps I would have taken the time to walk leisurely through my yard and appreciate the new green blades of grass and the patterned petals of my clematis unfurling among the emerald green vines climbing the trellis by the walk way. Perhaps, I could have done all of these things, if only I had paid attention.
When , you may ask, did I begin to notice the lovely world in which I live? When the storm clouds came rolling in and the winds forced the last die-hard blossoms from their tenuous hold on the branches of my cherry tree. That is when I looked up and realized that golden globe was obscured from vision by grey-white, slate and nearly black ominous clouds that were moving across the sky. And with them came the electrically charged air with the scent of ozone riding high and fast. Yes, only then did I stop and appreciate the beautiful day, er part of the day, that God had given me.
So today dawned bright and full of promise for a sun-drenched day full of the anticipation of the many lazy days of summer to come. I took note of this sign of spring and renewal of life. I made the time to stop and really become a part of it. I sat on the front porch with a cup of coffee ( or 3) and watched the high floating white clouds drift along. I listened to the 'Cheerio' of the cardinals and the 'thruuuuuuuuummmmm' of the hummingbird's wings as they came and went among the garden plants below me. And I made the time to thank god for his gift of another day started with such grace and beauty.
It's a darn good thing I did too! The clouds have already rolled through bringing darkness and oppressive humidity in their wake. They have opened their floodgates and poured down upon the already soaked to over-flowing earth yet more of their liquid refreshment.
Yes it's raining... again.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Remote Control

Who here knows what a remote control is?
Ok, stupid question, or is it?
There are remote controls in my home for the TV, stereo, DVD player, ceiling fan, garage door... and I am sure there are some for hubby's techie things that I have no inkling of.
However, I think that in our house we may be missing the most important remote control.
What else is there you ask?
Remote--- means what? Away or from a distance. And Control? Well it means to manage or to have exclusive handling of a thing or person. Look at the words in this way and remote control means to manage a thing or person from a distance. Remote can also mean isolated. So to manage and isolate something or someone...
In our home we are loud and active and , well a bunch of gregarious game-playing, sports-watching, competitive people. Of these the worst is probably the competitiveness, and I am the most guilty. I have always been competitive and have spent my life striving to do better, be more, exceed and succeed at everything and anything that I do.
I now have a 13 year old son who is very competitive, and like all 13 year old boys he is growing. Not just in height, but in physical and emotional ways that teen aged boys cannot adequately be prepared for. This is where the missing remote control comes in ( bet you thought I forgot what I was talking about again, didn't you?) To manage and isolate something... I think that we have not taught our son, me most especially, to manage and isolate his feelings of angst and aggression. To take hold of his competitiveness and funnel that energy and drive into less angry expressions and activities and into more focused and, dare I say it, controlled and structured outlets. And I think that I need to help him find a way to monitor his thoughts so that he does not feel that he has to suppress his feelings and try to be something he is not. Let' s face it. Being a 13 year old boy is hard, but in these times of economic uncertainty, constant peer pressure and the need for approval added to the pressure to succeed in school- from pre-k through 12th grade so you can get into a good college, excel at extracurricular sports as soon as you can walk so you have a chance to get a scholarship and the expectations that every parent has for their child to be THE BEST at everything... Who wants to be 13 again?? Really, anyone? You there in the back jumping about wildly waving your arms... you don't count because you haven't reached puberty yet!
All kidding aside, has our society put these pressures on our teen boys, or have we as 40-somethings who grew up in a time when not everyone could go to college because there was no money, or because we did not realize the good grades had to start in kindergarten or because , well I'll just say it, our parent's didn't go and they turned out fine; are we the ones who have pushed and prodded our children to become over-acheivers, with more hectic schedules than our own, with no down time to just be a normal teen ager with the normal highs and lows emotionally and physically?
In my case I will admit to expecting my son to do his best and be the best at everything he does. This is what was expected of me as a child and I fared not too badly.But, perhaps I have not taken the time to nuture his emotional side and emerging sense of self. Because he is extremely intelligent I find that I expect more from him than of my other 5 children at this age. I have done my son a disservice and I need to find a way to let him know. I also have to find a way to help him voice his feelings and to nuture him and let him grow, inside and out, into the amazing and caring and absolutely wonderful human being that I know he really is.
What prompted me to go down this road to self-awareness and acceptance of my failure ( GOD I hate that word! I hate to fail at anything, but this is the only thing that I cannot afford to fail at-- being THE BEST parent I can be) as a parent to my 2nd son. I expected him to be like his big brother and did not change this expectation as he grew, even though I knew he was a totally different kind of kid. This is my shortcoming as The Mom and I have to take responisibility for this. Again, why am I worried about this at this particular time? He has grown more than a foot and gained over 30 pounds in the last 10 months. He is as tall as I am and stronger than I had imagined. He also has a quick temper and the mouth to go with it. He has gotten into trouble at school for lashing out at other students twice this year. He needs to learn to reign in his temper and to step back, to attempt to see things from another's point of view... he needs to learn that he is not always right and that sometimes the feelings of others are so much more important than being right or being the best... he has to learn REMOTE CONTROL over himself and I think that that lesson has to start at home. And I believe that it will start by him reading this entry and seeing that evaluating ones self is important, but owning up to and changing the things you see are problems is even more so.
I think he and I have some hard lessons ahead, but I KNOW that the missing Remote Control in our house is about to be found and put to use. And I know that he can only get better and be more wonderful because of it.
Me on the other hand, I am not sure how I'll fare, so if I send out an SOS please come rescue me from an opinionated, hard-headed and stubborn young man... oh forget it, he is just like me so I will just have to deal and maybe I will learn a few things from him along the way.