Archive for August, 2012

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Daughters of the Night.

August 21, 2012

 

Call me Tisiphone, Megaera. or even Alecto.

Sometimes I wish I were a goddess- the classical kind-  filled with strength, truth, beauty, justice, power (rounded out by patience and humor).  But I’m not.

When I most resemble a deity it is as The Furies.  Not just one, but all three.  The legends vary but the women are described as having serpents entwined in their hair, eyes that dripped with blood, wings of bats.  In some tales they were born children of Nyx- the night.  And their role here on Earth was to punish the wicked unceasingly and without pity.

Not, I assure you, a pretty sight.

There are plenty of childhood antics that lead us to frustration, exasperation, even desperation.  Yet in my very unscientific survey of casual-conversations-with-friends, nothing, not one other act, whips us up like offspring squaring off against one another.  Squabbling.  Bickering.  Arguing.

Why do The Furies erupt within us at the sight of our children fighting?  Why, when we hear playful banter escalate to painful tears do we reach an internal temperature rivaling the sun’s?  What is going on?

I think it is both simple and complex.  Child One instigates.  Child Two retaliates.  The scenario plays out in mind-numbing repetition over and over and over and over again.  Maybe with the slight variation of the players switching roles.  Even though their behaviors makes us mad, this is the simple part.

The complex piece?  I think the true Fury is aimed at ourselves.  We are the wicked, and the ceaseless punishment is pointed at our tender vulnerabilities.  It is fury masking fear.  Fear that somehow all of our hard work- our blood, our sweat, our tears, and most of all, our love isn’t enough.  Fear that as parents we are failing.

Yes, we worry when kids aren’t learning to read, or ride a bike, or tie a shoe.  But our well of patience is deep.  We know these tasks take practice.  Learning to be kind, generous and respectful do, too.  No one behaves perfectly.  We help our children untangle the knots of shoelaces, we can teach them how to untangle feelings.  Slowly, with understanding, we can model how to resolve conflict, stand up for ourselves, exit a situation.  And just as we keep an eye on wayward laces that threaten to trip us up and fall, we can watch over our children as they practice communicating, stepping in before there is harm.

It all sounds good.  So easy.  So straightforward.  So manageable…but…what about The Furies?

As the stories tell, it was Athena who helped transform The Furies from avengers to The Graces.  The Goddess of Wisdom called to them again and again and again, and finally, finally they relented.  And changed.  The same can be true for us.  It will take practice to bank the fires of Fury and enter the peace of trust.  We are benevolent.  We are compassionate.  We are wise.  The children we love, despite the moment’s evidence to the contrary, are loveable and filled with love.  And we are, too.  We are enough.

Athena, where art thou?  If you see her…keep me posted.

 

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lowering the bar

August 17, 2012

How low can you go?

Yesterday it was, roughly, a bazillion degrees outside.  In the morning the kids had dance classes.  Then we rushed home for lunch and a quick transition out the door to swimming lessons.  Only to realize the reason I felt so pressed was that I had misremembered the start time.  We were half an hour early.  (‘See Mom.  It wasn’t worth getting so frustrated with us, was it?’  touché, Cole, touché.)  Get everyone back in the car, return home, hang out for 26 minutes, go back (stalling for 30 minutes in someone’s back yard was not an option).  Outdoor swimming lessons in the hot summer sun are fabulous- unless you are the sweltering parent in the shade.

On the return return trip home, the kids ‘heatedly discussed’ who would be the first in the shower.  All this was brought to a grinding halt when we walked in to the house and smelled…the dog.  The dog who had had explosive diarrhea all over the carpeted stairs.

And by all over, I mean all. over.  Dripping from one stair down to the next.  I am sure I will be cleaning well into the next millennia.

As I was scrubbing I kept thinking…hmmm….radical acceptance, being fully present, life lessons…nope- I got nothing.  There was no positive spin I could possibly put on this.  (unless you count the exercise of running up and down the stairs, refilling the bucket of water- I suppose I could look at it as training to be a fire fighter circa 1871.  Maybe they could have used my help in Chicago.)

So, not 24 hours later, what’s the take away?  Things could be worse.  Not worse worse like pestilence, famine, war.  But the every-day kind of worse.  Coco, who has inspired me before, has done it again.  This time she has very graciously given me the opportunity to lower the bar.  When the kids are bickering, the laundry is piled high, the refrigerator is empty, (the wine cabinet bare), I can put it in perspective.  ‘At least the dog’s intestinal tract is healthy’.

No matter how well we plan, how hard we try, we cannot control doggie bowels the outcome.

I love writing my blog.  Love it.  But sometimes I worry that if I change it up, I will somehow be letting you down.  I felt that way when I introduced indigo-orange.  What if they are expecting a thoughtful essay and all they get is a short quote?  What will happen?  Then one of my sister-in-laws mentioned how this one lingered with her for days (thank you, Terry).  Her quiet reassurance gave me the breathing space to go on.  It reminded me that the most we can do is put ourselves out there.  Then let go.

I’ve been mulling for a while adding a third kind of posting.  Still my words, but less essay-ish and more conversation-ish.  Written in a relaxed, laid back, maybe slightly irreverent style.  I’ve tossed a few names around in my head for it: ‘parenting bites’ comes to mind, and now the newly-inspired Coco Loco.  But I realized that labeling it, putting it in a box, was like wrapping a present with paper that is printed with a warning:  this gift may not be what you wish for.

But none of us see the world through only one set of lenses.  Much of my blog is written wearing studious, librarian glasses.  Now some will be done with martini glasses, instead.  Variety is the spice of life, right?  What do you think of the new flavor?  Keep me posted.

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indigo-orange: boundary

August 15, 2012

“Boundaries…enclose our inner gardens, preserving the sanctity of our souls.”

~  Diane Dreher

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twilight

August 13, 2012

Last night we pulled into the dock at eventide.  The sky was still blue, but the clouds were molting from fluffy white to pearlized pinks and deepening purples.  As we maneuvered a sharp left into our slip I looked up and was momentarily caught.  There was an occupant in the small craft next to us.  I nodded to him, and he to me.

The boy is not new to me.  I have seen him before.  He is often part of a roving pack of teens that live aboard ships of varying levels of sea-worthiness.  For our marina is a collection of flotsam and jetsam.  Some large yachts, yes.  But there are also holes in the docks large enough to demand attention, and floating sections that list to the salty sea as if permanently drunk.  And boats to match.

The flotilla of derelict boats, I secretly believe, sails in the night.  For the fleet is always present, but the formation shifts, individual boats never in the same slip as before.  They are the sailboats that had high adventures years ago when owners thought they could afford them.  Once well loved and now abandoned, they forlornly bob, lashed to cleats, waiting.  Waiting.

But last night there was not just a boat, but the boy.  Tan, with hair bleached blond by summer.  Sitting aboard.  Imagination unfurled.  An approximate 14 year-old, a dignified captain.  One hand lightly resting on the tiller, the other hand’s fingers entwined with the line tying boat to dock.  As we bustled about packing up our day’s adventure, he surreptitiously moved dockside.  But kept his hand on the rope.  The boat is not his.  He knows that.  And yet she still calls to him.  He had great dreams for that boat.  Dreams I will never know.  I am reminded of The Wreck of the Zephyr; of my friend Sara and her family, sailing around the Earth’s oceans; and I see, this is what dreams look like.

The twilight of summer is upon us.  Autumn is quietly beginning to call in the lingering cool of the mornings and the rustle of back-to-school lists.  Before the shadows of the fall fully descend, remember.  Remember the childhood breeze of curiosity on your face.  Remember the details of entire worlds of possibility.  Remember the longing?  The wanting?  The wishing?  Lean closer to your child.  Can you hear their whispers?  Watch quietly.  Do you see the wistful face of a dreamer?  Look in the mirror.  Do you see your own?  Twilight is the time to return to Neverland.  Second star to the right, and straight on till morning.  Rediscover your dreams, keep a light hand on the line, and keep me posted.

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