Archive for June, 2012

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welcome to the ‘hood

June 28, 2012

There was an episode of Friends in which something funny happens.  (I know, that really narrows it down.  I think it was after Joey did something ridiculous. Hmm…that doesn’t help, does it?).  Anyway, after the laughter fades, the camera pans to Chandler who is vibrating with energy, and he blurts out “Too.  Many.  Jokes.”

This post is like that for me.  Too.  Many.  Too many metaphors.  Too many thoughts.  Too many ideas.

I have three friends who are pregnant right now, each with their first child.  And I keep thinking about what I want to say to them.  What words of experience can I hand down, so that their path of parenthood is just a little bit easier.  A little smoother.  A little less…unknown.

And so, metaphor upon metaphor swirl through my mind.  Experience after experience clamor for their space on the page.  What to say?  Which way to say it?

There is a skin cancer public service announcement in which all of the adults send a message to their 16 year old self.  ‘Dear 16 year old me’.  I love it.  It is poignant, sweet, funny, heartbreaking, truthful, factual, brutal.  And it makes sense to me now as a 40 something.  But would I have listened as a 16 year old?  And more to the point, could  I have heard?  Would I have fully understood? Would I have found the PSA meaningful?

I don’t know.

So, this is where I am stuck trying to write something to mothers-to-be.  The wisdom that I have accumulated comes from walking my distinct parenting path.  What is wisdom for me, may not be for them.  It may be words that don’t make sense right now.  How to bridge the gap?  Is it actually possible?  I don’t want to clog their minds with ideas that only make sense in retrospect, in the sharp clarity of hindsight.  Wisdom I didn’t have a week ago, a month ago, or a season ago.  Would I have understood it back then?

There is lots and lots and lots of advice out there.  Books, youtube videos, checklists.  But advice is just that- someone else’s knowing.  It is words about the doing of parenting.  If I were to add to the lots and lots, these would be on my list:

  • Allow your partner the space to develop their own parenting style.  There is no one right way, the richness comes with different perspectives. 
  • Don’t focus on what everybody else is doing.  or saying.  or saying they are doing.  Do your own thing, listen to your intuition.
  • You’ll spend hours care taking of your child’s body, hours more nourishing their minds, make sure to spend time with their soul.

There are lots and lots of other things I would say about the doing of parenting.
But more important than any to-do list in parenting is the to-be list.  So if I were to give just one sentence of advice, one line of wisdom, it is this:

Be at peace with the unknowing.
Each step of each day of parenting is walking into the unknown.  And the unknowing lasts forever.  So embrace it.  Find a place for it in your heart.  Be gentle with yourself when you do not know.  And welcome to the sisterhood.

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eggs, part deux

June 19, 2012

While in Seattle this past weekend, our graduating cohort spent many hours laughing, crying, and meandering.  A little shop on Queen Anne had this gem I couldn’t pass up.

 

 

The quote around the sides reads:

The family is one of nature’s greatest masterpieces ~ George Santayana.

 

Which brings us full circle  (full ova?).  What is your image?  When you relax and close your eyes, what is there, just behind your eyelids?  And what feelings does it represent?  Can you make space for that inside yourself so you can call upon it at any time when you need to be grounded and uplifted?  It’s like the Gotham city bat-signal in reverse.  Instead of shining it out into the sky to call for someone else’s super-natural help, it is a beacon you can shine within to call forth your own super hero-ness.  What is your image?  Your inner logo?  The color of your cape?  Keep me posted.

 

 

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indigo-orange eggs

June 18, 2012

When I first began my graduate studies, I was partnered with Ellen, a student who was in her last quarter.   Ellen is an amazing coach, and she once asked me what image symbolized where I wanted to be – as a woman, wife, mother, professional, friend.  What single objet  could be the emotional shorthand for all of the feelings I yearned for: being balanced, centered, grounded yet uplifted, hearing my inner wisdom…yada yada yada.  You know the drill.

I couldn’t see anything.  Nothing came to mind.  The harder I tried, the more illusive the image.  Then, once I relaxed (hmmm….life lesson) it suddenly appeared in my brain, fully formed.  A single blue egg, speckled beige and brown, sitting in a twiggy nest.

The next quarter, my colleague Laura and I teamed up to coach one another.  She helped me grow the single egg into three, and whittle down my laundry list of feelings into a simple un, deux, trois.  Being present, trusting, and letting go.

Creative magician Allie, my website designer, incorporated the three blue eggs into my logo and we evolved the feelings into a tag line of embracing. strengthening. releasing.

All of that is the background for the indigo-orange images I’m going to post today and tomorrow.

The first is a gift from my study buddy Allison.  What can I say?  Merci.

What do you Dream.  Wish.  Believe?  Keep me posted.


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how does your garden grow?

June 11, 2012

Friday was Cole’s Moving On Ceremony.  Moving On celebrates the end of elementary school and the transition to middle school without the full pomp rightfully reserved for high school graduation.  It was a sweet, poignant event.  Included in the program was an opportunity for the parents to thank the teachers for all they had done.

This isn’t an exact transcript of what I said on behalf of the families, but nearly so.  I’ve only edited out the sniffles and tears that choked me along the way.

 

Moving.  Stretching.  Growing,  Becoming.

Each grade has encompassed these traits – from the first day of Beginning School until today.  But fifth grade holds a unique position – the capstone of one experience, the gateway to the next.  And so the teaching of this age requires deft skill – global vision, high expectations, a light yet firm hand.  Challenging and nurturing students simultaneously.

It is rare to find a single individual who has the traits required to teach, guide and inspire young learners.  And nearly impossible to imagine a trio of such teachers, each bringing complimentary talents that create a trifecta of excellence.  And yet, here they are.

This spring, the kindergarteners had caterpillars in their classrooms.  Caterpillars. Cocoons.  Butterflies.

These bouquets of flowers are for our teachers – a thank you for the beautiful academic gardens you grew in your classrooms.  Thank you for being such attentive gardeners to these 45 young butterflies.  Watching over them, nourishing them as they emerged from their cocoons this year.  Stretching.  Growing,  Becoming,  Now taking flight.

Moving On.

Thank you.

 

 

 

While this was a thank you written to three fifth grade teachers, it is, truly, a thank you to every teacher, everywhere.  The difference you make in the life of each child is incalculable.  A posy of gratitude to each of you.

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village people.

June 5, 2012

“EMILY!  Emmmm-i-llllyyyy!”  It was the middle of the Alumnae Parade (1-9-9-2 Wellesley!) and someone was yelling my name.  A woman’s voice in a sea of women, and I couldn’t see her face.  Instead, I was blindly embraced in a maternal hug 20 years in the making.  A hug not from my mother, but from Maureen.

Maureen is one of the college custodians.  She’s a Boston area native.  I think.  Let me put it this way- she has the unmistakable accent of New England.  Which, to someone raised in the Pacific Northwest, means she could come from anywhere between Philly and Maine.  I’m sure others with a more finely developed aural palate could precisely place her regionality, but to me she sounds like Boston.

During our tenure as residents of Pomeroy dorm, Maureen looked after us as if we were her own.  “My girls” she called us back then, and called us that again on Sunday morning.  From a place that sells shirts rightfully proclaiming “not a girls’ school without men but a women’s college without boys” you might think being called ‘my girls’ would raise our hackles.  But it was filled with such love that it didn’t bother us then, and certainly doesn’t now.

I screamed for my friends, hollering that Maureen had found us.  We were suddenly a shape-shifting group hug, arms and faces and voices all overlapping, all embracing.  The flow of the parade ebbed around as we stood in the center of the street, oblivious to those surrounding us.  Eventually we managed to disentangle and plan to meet for lunch.

It was clear in our conversations that she remembered every detail- our studies, our loves, our lives.  We asked about her other girls, the women who had come after us.  Oh, they were fine, they were good.  Then she paused.  “But there was one.  There was one girl I broke.  I broke her.”  (I must admit, this admission made me a little nervous.  What exactly did she mean?)  Maureen told us of how she had said good morning (“Hi doll” “Hi sweetheart”) every day for four years to this young woman.  Every day.  And every day the girl said nothing.  Finally, one month before graduation Maureen stopped her in the hall.  “Don’t you like me?  Every day for four years I’ve said good morning to you and you’ve never said anything back.”

“I like you.  I’m just shy.”

Well, that was all Maureen needed.  She took the girl in, and brought the girl out.  She introduced her to new friends and watched her transform.  Laughing, talking, being with others.  Saying good morning.

On the day of this young woman’s graduation, her mother found Maureen.  “You changed my daughter’s life.”

Custodial care.  Motherly love.  Who do we allow in to nourish us?  And whom do we reach out to nurture?  We often hear it takes a village to raise a child.  Who are your village people?  Keep me posted.

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