Roots and Wings

In the blink of an eye, parenting takes you from this

to this

and suddenly you are putting your baby on a plane to Japan and there she goes!

I am NOT freaking about her. She is the least of my concerns. It reminds of how protective my dad was when I first started driving the largest car ever made my any American company, the ever-lovely and oh-so-popular with teens of the eighties, Olds '98. I've talked about it before so I won't bore you again, but it was large and could seat eight comfortably. My dad wasn't worried about me as a driver. He was worried about all the other crazies out there he could not control and so that large hunk of metal was the only shield he could provide. 

Lucy has a shield. She has peers and chaperones and a rich fifteen year history between Misato and Winona. 

But what she doesn't have is me. She will carry my voice, one that whispers eat! sleep! stay hydrated! be polite!  The very act of sending her shows we believe in who she is and what she can do.  My girl will be forever changed by an experience that is uniquely hers and all I can hope for is that she carries the very best bits of our thirteen years together into this foreign land and calls upon them as needed.

I believe in all of what this experience is supposedly about- a cultural exchange that teaches young people what the world has to offer. But I have done some of my own travelling and what really happens is you learn more about who you are and how you relate to the world and what you are capable of doing outside your comfort zone.  It is hard and terrifying and exhilarating and wonderful. She will miss me and I wll not be there. She will get tired and have to push through. She will not know exactly what is being said and she will have to fight to just figure it out.

She can do it and I can do it because I believe in both of us. I believe that she can take off and I can let go and we will begin our separate journeys apart.

But I can also feel sad about saying goodbye. It is just the beginning, just the first step of many where we watch how our little girl become someone we couldn't even dream she could be way back when we were rocking her to sleep every night. I would read and sing and whatever dreams I may have had seem so far away. I don't remember when I stopped dreaming for her, but it is clear she has taken over.  And isn't that just what every parent hopes for? The desire not only for their kids to dream, but their willingness to act on those dreams? 

She is flying so high and so far away, and I am more grounded than ever.

My March Madness

The other night Thing 2 was discussing teachers. He said, "You know, some like to capitalize on your weakensses. You go up to their desk, ask them a question, and then in a booming voice he or she announces to the entire class that you don't get something. Now why would I ever ask another question?"


So Thing 2 says that maybe, just maybe, that teacher is simply a loud person and maybe, just maybe, he or she is trying to teach the whole class. Hasn't that ever happened? she wonders to Thing 2. Teachers are looking for moments to teach. Maybe he or she is just trying to help the entire class.

This gets debated back and forth. They carry on so pleasantly that I keep sneaking glances to remind myself that these are MY kids.  This feels like a record exchange.....kind, conversational, thoughful.

I look around. Where am I?

I see the familiar piles and dust bunnies so this is most certainly my home.

In another stunning moment, they move on to homework and if I understood the situation correctly, it appears like Thing 2 asked help from Thing 1 and she gave it WILLINGLY. WITH A SMILE.

I have a rosy glow. I am so gobsmacked I can't talk. There is hope, I think. My kids like each other. They can talk to each other. I quickly take a picture because this is a day of days.

Here, take a look!

Suddenly the mature and forward thinking teen is bellowing like a stuck pig because Thing 2's stinky sock TOUCHED her pant leg and WHAT WAS HE THINKING?

My glow instantly fades because I know what is coming. Two gigantic steps forward, three hundred back.

Thing 2 is now pinching Thing 1 and her bellow now sounds like a mewl.

Seriously, after crying babies, I just didn't understand how loud kids could be. Maybe it's just mine, but the noises they emit are not only effing weird. They are loud.

"STOP IT!" roars Thing 2. As much as he just has to pinch, he hates loud noises. Sadly, the connection between those two things has never been made.

Thing 1 has decided retaliation is in order. She is flicking his ear as she tries to walk past him. He snaps his old blanket in her face and instantly the crocodile tears swell to dramatic (are there any other kind?) proportions.

I want to bellow because I am a stuck pig. Instead, I slink to my room and lock the door.

I have never smoked. The wine is in the fridge. Those littel fiends found and ate all of my chocolate and someone (me) has not been charging their phone. The walls aren't thick enough so I can still hear even without my hearing aids because OF COURSE I took them out. I decide to take a shower. It is in a room within a room. Maybe I can get far enough away.

Eventually I come out. I can't hear anything. It seems the dust has settled. I tiptoe back into the wreckage but all appears calm if not exactly bright.

The homework is done. They are both drawing and talkng.

I feel like I have survived some sort of emotional whiplash. I wonder how they feel?

I don't really want to know so I don't ask. Instead, I check the softener salt in preparation for my certain future. It's full and we have reserves.

Game on, as they say. My March Madness has clearly begun.

My First World Problems

I was discussing a problem with a friend the other day, something that on the surface seems pretty minor when you put it into perspective. I have never really loved the house we live in, and yet I am grateful for what I have because I have so much. 

Eventually I shrugged it off and said, "You know, it's a first world problem."

She responded in a way that took me by surprise. 

"Look," she said, "it's still your problem. I hate when people say that because you still have to figure out how to live with your feelings and thoughts about whatever it is you are living with-first world or not. You still have to make decisions and take actions and figure out stuff. It's your stuff. It's your life."

So I have been thinking about this a lot. I have been thinking about how to ride that space between being grateful for what you have and going for what you desire. I was talking to a different friend about why it feels really hard for me to take actions on things- especially when it comes to actions regarding my own self and she suggested Al-anon. I grew up with a brother who is an alcholic (He's recovered now. Three years! Go Kelley!) and this apparently, has left it's mark though I am only now piecing it together.

I wanted to blame my reticence on really taking action regarding my home to just not being grateful for what I have when I see now that it is a pattern developed at a really young age. 


I say all of this because it's mind boggling to me how it all fits together and how long it has taken me to see it.

I guess the best part of all of this is that I see because I am willing to look. 

And this makes me wonder about people who are unwilling to look- those of us who keep riding through life sort of blindly not willing to really look closely at our stuff. 

I know you might be sick of me now, always bringing up The Red Boot Coaltion like it's some sort of therapy. It's not. It's just that if you are willing to claim certain things about your own experience, you can't help but start to question how you have been living and how that comes out in all aspects of your life.

I find this sort of personal inquisition really wild and I can't help but think of how we might interact with each other differently if people were willing to pull a chair up to a table and get real about who they are. 

Neither of these conversations with friends occured within the parameters of my Red Boot meetings, but I have wondered if I would have had them were it not for what was going on inside of me because of the meetings.

So after a tumultuous 2014, I have to say 2015 feels, still, sort of crazy. I have a new job that I am still figuring out. I have kids who need me in much different way as teens/tweens. I don't have to dress them or hold their hands to cross the street, but taking their emotional temperature seems to never end.  I have a new mission in sharing more about The Red Boot Coaltion and how I think it can make our lives richer.

And apparently I have more discoveries to make about who I am and how I live in this first world life of mine.