Friday, December 16, 2011






My Little Girl



"You don't have to dumb her down."

The best parenting advice I ever received was to take the time to love and cuddle my kids. And, even though I thought this would be the easy part – the part where I would overlook a tantrum, a child’s artwork on the living room furniture or a lie – following this simple instruction has been the driving force behind my love affair with them.

I naively followed those who came before me into the insane world of Mommy, like a lemming to a cliff. I jumped with both feet onto that hallowed ground, prepared to embrace parenthood with a bear hug, where some fell into it with an ambivalent nod. But, somewhere along the way, I found my own footing and set out with my husband on a road less traveled . It is with few regrets that I confess I have followed that advice to the best of my ability – most days.

As the mother of three, I watch now as our oldest child balances precariously on the edge of manhood, while our youngest is determined to squeeze a lifetime of fun into his dwindling childhood. Then there is our little girl, the very center of my universe. Sandwiched between one brother who keeps a watchful eye out for her honor and the other who keeps a disapproving eye on his missing wardrobe, she lives and breathes with an abandon most envy. Unfortunately, for her, I think, this free spirit is a bittersweet reflection of me in my eyes.


This brings me to the second best parenting advice I ever received. If I have absorbed anything in my years of raising kids, it is that wisdom is often found in the most unconventional and unlikeliest of sources – and so it was with a smile and a wink, that my nephew, still a kid himself in his mid-twenties, leaned in to me, nodding toward our daughter and said, “That one there, she’s somethin’ special!”

In my failings as a mother to my daughter, and honestly as a woman in my own right, I dismissed his thoughtful praise before, even I was aware that the words had come out of my mouth.

“Yeah, she can be a real handful,” I confessed. (Maybe he’ll see that I’m embarrassed by the compliment, I harbored silently. Quick – say something, anything. You know he thinks you believe, she is the most perfect child on the planet. If she is perfect, then you are perfect – and you, my dear, are not perfect!)
“She’s a hard headed little thing, that’s for sure,” I offered as an apology.

He grinned then and nudged me, his shoulder against mine. My nephew is a strapping six foot, five inches, give or take – with a smile so genuine that one does not have to look twice to feel it land on their heart with a thud. The youngest of three boys, big brother only to their younger sister, I would say he knows plenty about wild and free.

“You don’t have to dumb her down,” he offered with that smile. “She is awesome, just the way she is!” There it was – the moment I had been waiting for, since I first recognized myself in my daughter.

The bond, born between mothers and their daughters, is like no other. Often plagued with hostility and mutual discontent, the two cannot help but see themselves in one another. Mothers, still little girls themselves, in heart, search for their own fulfillment through impossibly difficult and unrealistic expectations they place on their daughters – as their daughters spend a lifetime trying to be something other than their mothers.

“If you’re looking for me I’m in the closet.”  ( A note from my daughter ~ 8 years old)

Through my sons, I am reminded of how right it feels to be strong in character, to seek the courage of my convictions and to accept who I am with honesty, a few tears and a good, hardy sense of humor. And, though my daughter is equally strong, courageous, independent and positively sparkling with wit, it is she, who I am eternally grateful – for unlocking my wounded heart, healing my jaundiced eye and indulging my love of self.

Through my little girl, I've learned that forgiveness waits within.
She is me, as I was once as she.
Now, if I can only convince her to clean her room.

Enough said.

"My Life"
(By Colleen, age 10)

I am from the soft warm covers
And dressers cluttered with toys
This is my safety from my brothers, or the boys
From the turtle tank to the messy floor
And my brothers knocking on the door.
I am from Home ~ where privacy is hard to find.

I am from the sweet smell of honeysuckle in the summer
And chickens scratching in the dirt
While watchin’ butterflies flit and flirt
From dogs barking, to watching ponies run and play
And watching my sweet kitty lie in the sun all day.
I am from Home ~ where wildflowers grow.

I am from fiddle tunes and Cardinal games
And down the highway a bluebird sings
From the home of The Arch to Jefferson City.
I am from Home ~ Home-Sweet-Home.

I am from the country of Freedom
From the Statue of Liberty to the Liberty Bell
And freedom rings, can’t you tell
From the American flag to the White House
And the Mississippi River runs swell.
I am from Home ~ Freedom.

I am from German, French, Scottish and Irish
Don’t forget, I do speak English
From Kentucky to Missouri, my family is all here
And to me they are all very dear.
I am from cars, bikes, airplanes and rafts
To flying cars and hovercrafts
From love and happiness, the future is true
And the best part is it’s up to you.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Joy! It's complicated.

Joy is found in the little things. Is that true? ‘Cause I would like my JOY in the form of a Krispy Kreme doughnut, please. Smothered in a sugary glaze. And just off the line warm. I understand this request is only temporary joy, but I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth – especially if it comes with a glass of milk.

Finding JOY is, something akin to, Yukon Cornelius taming his Bumble. Sometimes you just have to wrastle (yes, I said wrastle, auto-correct) this Life into submission, knocking out those sharp teeth, that would just as soon eat you as greet you. If you’ll recall, Bumbles are BIG, not little. There was great JOY, if not an eerie sense of merriment, to be found in that raging, toothless, fluff of white – after our perky little prospector helped him out with his anger problem. “Didn’t I ever tell you? Bumbles bounce!”

Sometimes, I feel like a Bumble.
Finding the Joy in that?
Well, it’s complicated.

Joy is found in the little things.
It’s in that extra few seconds of sleep you begged God for this morning.
It’s in that moment of terror when you found the mouse in the toe of your boot.
It’s in the humor you found today, that escaped you yesterday.
It’s in a friendly wave and a nod from your neighbor, and that unexpected phone call from a friend.
It’s in the smack warm hug you witnessed between two brothers.
It's in your kids and every last bone-headed thing they do.
It's in a song. Not just any song. But, Your song.
It's in the spelling of your name, with your butt, to hear the birthday girl laugh.
It’s in the look you shared with your husband when he danced in his underwear.
It’s in the funny bone you hit on the corner of the shower this morning.
It’s in that look the dog gave you when she caught you drinking from the carton.
It’s in every last twinkly light and handmade ornament hanging from your tree.
It’s in that cup you're drinking out of now. You know, the one that says, JOY, on it!

It is in our desperate search for Serenity, Courage and Wisdom in our lives.
And, It is in all of those things we forget to look for when our eyes are looking down.

Is inside of You. 
May you Find It and Wield It with Reckless Abandon!

                                                             The Joy of Tree!

                                                     The Joy of Baby Love!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Just Call Me, Friday.

(Sarah R. Callender, author of “Sherpa”, posed the question “What do you carry?” If you’d like to play along, please visit her blog inside-out underpants to read her latest “confessions of a musing multi-tasker”.)

Sherpa • 1 a member of a Himalayan people living on the borders of Nepal and Tibet, renowned for their skill in mountaineering. 2 a member of that most awesome tribe of kid-wranglers, commonly referred to as Mothers. Hallelujah!

Apparently, Sherpas often answer to the name of the week they were born. And since I can relate, you can just call me, Friday. I like Fridays. I was born on a Friday. This Sherpa migrated from the hills of Kentucky, knobs really. She speaks fluent dog, cat, bunny, rat, horse, chicken and kid-speak, doesn’t own a llama, but is open to the possibilities; and is considered by most to be out of her mind – and likely a close descendent of The Little Old Lady Who Lived In a Shoe; whom she believes to be a Sherpa of the most sensible cautious variety. (Fearful of losing one of her errant charges, she stuck close to home.) 

Regretfully, this Sherpa must disclose, to the relief of her own conscience and Sherpa law, 1 her general distaste of yaks (arrogant cows), 2 freezing temperatures resulting in icicles forming at the end of her nose hairs; and 3, is opposed to any venture, with she as your guide, which would have her “humping” tanks of air to the top of the world. She doesn’t see the point. Childbirth was good enough for her. If given the opportunity, however, she would enjoy seeing the movie. (Bad Sherpa.)

This one, tasked with carrying the wee bits and pieces of her children’s flights of fancy since conception, the equally unrealistic and somewhat sadistic expectation of turning water to wine (or in this case, a non-existent savings plan into a college education for three children), and bearing the weight of the world on her shoulders, which can hardly keep up with her own sick-and-twisted desire to publish something resembling anything, sometimes feels like Sisyphus (as in, Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus), caught up in that same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to watch helplessly, as the damn thing surrenders to Newton’s laws of gravity and motion tumbling back to the bottom, mocking her very existence. The gods truly must be crazy!

With what, you ask, do I prepare myself and my charges to tackle this world and all its uncertainty? Well, of those things large and small, valuable and insignificant, which were stuffed into my pockets by wee little fingers, or unceremoniously shoved by the Sherpa, deep into the recesses of whatever bag Sherpa slung over her shoulder, I must admit I needed and loved all of them.

The ballerina ripped rescued from her post.
The pennies – all heads up.
The pink and green and orange drink umbrellas rocket blasters.
The snowflakes that never made it home in fuzzy mittens.
The child’s “tickle feet 10¢” coupon, delivered on Sherpa’s birthday.
The locks of hair cut by child, hidden in pajamas by child.
The little gray seashell that looked just like The Big Comfy Couch.

And the multitude of hungry-wet-sleepy baby, precocious-walking-talking toddler, obnoxious-ants-in-their-pants-tween and the knows-everything-teenager STUFF that They, and We, depend on to organize our sanity!    

What do I carry? It’s simple really. I carry the struggle itself. Like Sisyphus and his rock, I am content with the load, because it is absurd and because they look into my very soul with those eyes, which mirror my own. 
“I must imagine (this Sherpa) is happy.”