Mother’s Day Traction

I’ve been thinking about something I read recently, about how one of the most important things a child needs to feel in childhood is to be cherished. If I could only use one word to describe my own childhood that would be it, CHERISHED! So how lucky am I?!

Yet it is so true, I was the fourth and final child, but was made to feel like the cherry on top of the delicious ice cream sundae, the icing on the cake, I was the bonus, the special prize, they were all waiting for me to make life complete. It was as if I was the reason there were six ice cream sandwiches in the pack, then we could all get one, six candy bars in a pack, same reason, I just made everything make sense. That is how they made me feel. I was completely loved. My Mother used to stop me as she pushed me on the backyard swings, just as the swing would need another push, she’d grab the swing with me in it, put her arms around my waist and whisper in my ear, “you are the greatest, the sweetest, the most!” Then she would kiss my face and push me again.

As I have grown up and witnessed the sadness of how many people have never felt that kind of love and acceptance I have only grown to realize what an incredible gift I was given. And now as my Mom spends another Mother’s Day in heaven I am left to say thank you dear, sweet, kind lady, for all that you gave me everyday of my life!

I have great respect and admiration for Mothers because of the wonderful one I had, so I dedicate this blog to all of those that have lost their Mom. I understand your loss and sadness. The more we loved them, the more it hurts on a day like today.

Happy Mother’s Day, and cherish those children, it makes for happy and healthy adults.

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Lost and Found

Did you ever find something that you forgot you lost? When I was about eight years old my Dad brought me back from a business trip a small hand mirror with my name written on it. I don’t have an unusual first name, but for the time it was a big deal to see something sold in a store with my name on it. (Yep, I’m that old) It was also a big deal when my Dad went away on trips. He didn’t travel for work very often but when he did it was very noticeable in our house. For starters we had a much more relaxed dinner menu, we ate everything he didn’t like and to a kid it was all the favorite foods. Despite the fact that he wasn’t home my Mom made it fun and he made it memorable, I still recall the first time he sent me a post card, just to me, I thought it was the coolest thing.

So I find this little mirror the other day at the bottom of a drawer and it immediately made me smile. I still remember being so surprised the first time I saw it. We knew not to expect “things” when relatives came to visit or when Dad returned from a trip but to this day it is still easy to remember the excitement when they came bearing treats. My Godfather would come to dinner and bring four big bags of candy, one for me and my three siblings. They were the family size bags, the kind that if you were lucky your whole family typically received and shared, but he spoiled us so that he brought one for each of us!

These are such little things, such tiny moments in a whole life but there is something about them that many years later they still have the power to remind you of a surprise that is as sentimental as it sounds. It is true, making the ordinary special, taking simple moments and making a lifelong memory. It’s comforting to know that something might be out of sight or out of mind for a while but when rediscovered, when found, it still holds a piece of you. When I come across something like this it makes me wonder if I’ve been that person in a child’s life, have I made a lifelong memory for them, one that instantly allows them to know they are surrounded with love. I sure hope so.

Addition

I was good at arithmetic when I was a kid, I was the champ of my fourth grade math class, even beat the boys, and that was tricky back in my elementary school days because there was a lot of favoritism and sexism and the boys ruled. But before I boast one more second and live on in the glory of my 10-year-old math brain I’ll let go of that tangent and instead share what I’ve been thinking about, a different kind of addition. It’s easy to hear people these days talk about “giving up” something, sacrificing or fasting, sort of subtracting something from the norm. I’ve decided I’m adding this season not subtracting. I’ve been thinking about my life and I think it needs to expand and if I believe the whole point of any season, especially the Lenten season is to grow closer to God I think I need to work on becoming more and I’ve decided this season I’m not going to do that thru less.

In certain phases and stages of my life I’ve felt “practicing” my faith an obligation, sort of like when you’re a child and your Mother makes you take something to the house of the old person down the street. Your first reaction is to say no, then whine about how their house smells funny and they talk too much. She insists you do it and when you go in the house and the woman greets you at the door sitting in her wheel chair you are creeped out, scared because you are alone with her. She’s so grateful that you have brought her the newspaper and her mail you think she’s faking her excitement because how could it be that big of a deal. Not until you are a grown woman dealing with your own physical challenges do you realize how complicated it can be some days to get your mail in or what a comfort it is to have someone bring you something that you can’t easily manage for yourself.
Your Mother made you visit that woman and run errands for her and it took a long time before it didn’t feel like an obligation, until you didn’t mind going, until you actually sat down in the lady’s home and ate a piece of candy that she offered every time you went. It took a long time to not notice the funny smells and to talk to her. Eventually it was easier and your relationship changed. You grew and it was no longer a burden, she had become your neighbor and by the time you were a teenager you never thought twice about stopping at her house to check on her. Your Mother knew what she was doing all along and it seems to me it’s sort of like that with faith. If you hang in there and do the routine, unpleasant, tedious stuff, the boring stuff, the creepy stuff you eventually get to know God and yourself a lot better than you did when it was only drudgery. God feels like your friend because you invested in the relationship. So it seems to me I’m going to add things this Lent, not deduct. My heart needs to grow wider, my attention needs to focus on more than me, my mind needs to expand. So everyday I’m going to research something I know nothing about and learn more about something new every day. I’m going to double up on some of my “practices” that bring me joy. I’m going to add more to my life, grow my mind and heart and hopefully deepen my faith. I’m spilling all of this to you because accountability is a big part of any new endeavor. You are going to keep me honest.

I’ll let you know in 40 days how I did. Happy Lent!

Side of selfish, better yet, supersize it!

I’m thinking about what happened when I was in line at the drive thru. This person went to incredible lengths to cut me off, nearly hit my car, seriously nearly hit my car. I am always initially dumbfounded that someone isn’t teasing when they do something so strikingly rude. I think any second they are about to turn around and say, “oh, that was a joke on you, got you!” But nope, there was no joke. Then I found myself getting angry, feeling like the guy had just done the worst thing. Then revenge kicked in, I wanted to get back at him. So I sat there and I thought what could I do and then the clerk was asking him if there was anything to add to his order, before I knew it these words were coming out of my mouth, I’m suddenly yelling, BE SURE AND GET YOUR SIDE OF SELFISH, BETTER YET, SUPERSIZE IT!! I was so proud of myself, totally smug, thought it was the most clever thing ever said in the history of drive thru.

Then the man gave me the opportunity to wonder who was acting like the bigger fool. He didn’t flinch at my words, not a look, not a frown, nothing, complete normalcy. I mean he’s good, he must have experience at this, ticking people off and then when they react, even yell at him he just lets them, no shrugging, no apology, nothing, water rolling off a duck’s back. So basically at this point all that happened is I looked like a nut yelling out of her car window, pointing at the man in front of her.

I started to think about my Dad. He was a polite man. Back in the day when you had an attendant pump your gas, unimaginable to him to display rudeness or demand attention, rather he’d pose it as a question, “please, fill it up with regular?” and always ended with, “thank you very much.” So if the dude in front of me never had the privilege of that kind of example then what’s the big deal? Maybe that can explain bad manners if it needs an explanation, which apparently in my brain today it does. Although, I think it might be more than that, I think he could care less, and where does that come from and I don’t have a clue how you would begin to hold a mirror up to him. Even if someone ever does I’m not sure he’d even care…..just steer clear of him girls, he’s a real catch…………wow, I’m being so cynical, this guy really did hit a nerve……one I can actually feel!

When it was my turn at the window the person that waited on me looked about as thrilled as anyone standing there all day waiting on polite folks like the guy ahead of me could be. So when he handed me my bag I said, I bet it’s hard to wait on people all day that order a supersize of selfish AND stupidity. He looked at me like he was so puzzled by what I just said and then busted out laughing, responding, “yes, it is.”

I have no happy ending to my supersize story here, just distracting myself sitting here with my head strapped in, wondering why it made me so mad to feel like the guy was being such a “checker” in line. The “how dare you” feeling really kicked in….it brought out the third grader in me and I wanted to yell at him, wanted to kick him. When was the last time I kicked something or some one, yeah, that will get ’em….. kick ’em with my leg I can feel, probably fall over doing it……. ok, on second thought. Well Mister in the big red van, I know you are out there and so far you’re winning. STUPID HEAD.

OK, now I feel better.