Friday, May 31, 2013

One thing leads to another…

I was determined to get at some long-overdue writing projects tonight.  I’m not sure where I went wrong…

After supper I turned on my laptop, took out my notes for my writing, and was just about to sit down when I thought I’d quick load the dishwasher.

Looking out the window while loading the dishes, I saw the clothes still hanging on the clothesline.  Knowing rain was coming tonight I went outside and took the clothes off the line.

Brought them in, folded them and put them away.

Throwing out a t-shirt of my husband’s that could have walked itself to the trash, I realized the trash needed to be taken out to the garage.

Which I noticed was full of leaves from the wind blowing them in.

So I swept out the leaves, and couldn’t help but notice the dust on the car.

That all but begged me to wash it, so I did, and then dumped the bucket of extra water over some of my plants in my flowerbed.

Which needed weeding.  And dividing.  And transplanting.

After all that digging and hauling, I went inside, drank a gallon of water, and was hungry again.  Specifically for a root beer float.

In a house with no root beer, or ice cream, I then had to make a trip to the grocery store.  Where, as long as I was there, I picked up items for the weekend.

And for some reason, when I got in the house, unpacked the groceries, made my root beer float, and finally sat down to eat it—in front of my computer—I found I was too tired to concentrate on writing.

I’m a little unsure of where I went wrong.
But I know one thing—for some reason, I didn't get any writing done tonight.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A slice of Perspective served today

It was a long weekend, beginning with a head cold and sore throat, and feeling like I’d rather crawl back in bed yesterday morning instead of driving to the Twin Cities for a wedding.  But I wasn’t going to miss it ~ Jake is the youngest son of my best friend who died last year. She couldn’t be there, I would.

Yesterday was long, fun, emotional (I sobbed like a baby through most of the thankfully-short ceremony), and tiring.  After hitting the water park this morning at the hotel with kids, I was ready to head home.  Meaning about six stops in Brainerd at stores on my way through the town.

By late afternoon I couldn’t wait to get home and relax.  I was sure I’d hit every red light today and every clerk at the stores seemed to move in slow motion.  The final straw was my $10 off coupon of a $10 or more purchase.  I was stopping at that store to get something “free” even if I had to crawl in on my hands and knees.

Of course, this store is known for their coupons being only good on nothing anyone really wants to buy.  But I was determined I wasn’t leaving that store until I got $10 off of something-I-didn’t-need-anyway.

After way too much time spent in that store, I was done, my car pointed towards home.  And not a moment too soon as I was very frustrated at how long everything had taken me today ~ I was going to arrive home about two hours later than I’d planned.

Practically peeling out of the mall parking lot, I passed a woman hunched over some makeshift walker on wheels, shuffling, stopping, shuffling some more.  I drove right past, still ticked off at how long I’d wasted in the last store.

I drove about two blocks before I stopped.  My barely-registered flash of that woman was suddenly haunting my brain.  And my Catholic Guilt kicked in.

I turned my car around, not even knowing for sure what I could do for this woman.  Give her a ride somewhere?  Her makeshift cart had many things hanging from it, and with my full backseat, I had no clue where I’d put everything if I offered to give this elderly woman a ride.
Finding myself pulled up next to her, I’d kept my eye on her and how little progress she’d made since I carelessly drove past her minutes earlier.

When I stopped the car and rolled down my window, I was surprised to see the woman who turned to greet me.  She was likely younger than me.

I asked where she was going.  “Burger King.”
“How far away do you live?”
“Two blocks.”

My mind digested this a moment.  I’d watched her cover maybe 25 yards in five minutes and this woman was walking two blocks each way to go eat at Burger King?

Eyeing up her walker, I knew it wouldn’t fit in my car.  How could I help this woman who was answering my nosy questions so easily, as if her crippled, hunched- over body was somehow my business?

“Are you okay?  I see you keep stopping.”
“I get tired so I stop every few feet.”
What could I say to that?

I ended up handing her money, telling her I’d like to buy her a few meals.
Then I left.  And thought about that woman for my forty-five minute drive home.
Why did I give her money?  She hadn’t asked for it… was it guilt?  Pity?  She didn’t want my pity and certainly I had nothing to feel guilty about.  But I did.  On my drive home I thought about how impatient I was at the fact I was “running over schedule”, especially after a long weekend where I was feeling run down.

What a joke!  That woman would never know the ease of stepping on the gas after waiting at a red light, to take off and fly down the freeway.  My aches and pains from a cold would likely be a walk in the park for her compared to the aches and pains her body must feel.  Every single day.

And her meal at Burger King was probably the highlight of her day, compared to me wrinkling my nose up at another fast-food meal.

The money I'd saved with my stupid coupons on unnecessary purchases, meant nothing to me. 

And I’ll forget what I bought far sooner than I’ll forget her.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mother-Daughter relationships - paying forward the embarrassment

My mother can flip her eyelids back.  I’m not bragging when I state this, it’s just an unfortunate fact.  Of course, I’m sure she rarely does it now since she doesn’t have the audience she once had for her tricks.  Namely, my friends in grade and high school.

Generally, moms want what is best for their children so it blindsides children when their mom goes out of her way to embarrass her kids.  It’s a talent mom’s seem to develop around the time their first child reaches middle school.  It happens whether the gratuitous words of ‘adoptive’, ‘step’, ‘foster’, ‘grand’, etc. precedes ‘mom.’  Whoever the woman was who raised you, surely took the class titled ‘How to embarrass my child’.  If you ask my children, they’ll suggest I took that class more than once.

Here’s the thing, I am only trying to outdo what my mom did to me.  She performed headstands on the grass while my friends and I practiced cheerleading, checked the mail barefoot in the snow in winter (that was before I understood the term ‘hot flash’) walking down our long, cold, driveway.  Then there the endless bake sales we’d have at my Catholic grade school (back when you could bring home-made food to school) where I discovered not every mom ‘sampled’ their pan of bars before sending them to school with their child.  Oh, if I could have just fit under by desk!

Nothing fazed mom.  When I’d plead my case of horror/embarrassment/humiliation over her impact on my social status, she’d just smile and say something witty.  She found humor in everything and pasted our fridge with Erma Bombeck newspaper clippings.  Mom didn’t care what she looked like but she did care about what was going on in our lives.  As a teenager, I’d have called her a busybody, always asking what my friends and I were doing.  Now, in retrospect, I’d have to call it caring.  The way she’d sit at the kitchen table at night when my older brother and I would get in late from high school events, hypnotizing us with her great homemade chocolate chip cookies and extracting information about our night from us as we devoured the cookies, not realizing we were smoothly being interrogated.

I was sure my mom had plenty of flaws, apparently my friends didn’t.  They thought she was funny.  Even my boyfriends liked her.  I was positive they were just being polite.  I wanted my mom to be invisible.

That is, until I needed someone.  The few times in my life where I honestly felt like my world was crumbling, who do you think I called?  My mom. Even if I knew she had no fix for my problem, just knowing she’d always be there for me, to share in my pain, which is a lot harder to do than sharing the joy, was comforting.

The day I turned eighteen, I moved out and was sure I’d walked away from any impact my parents had made on me.  Then I became a mom a few years later.  I was positive I hadn’t inherited anything from my mom, yet I found myself uttering the same phrases to my kids, the same threats, reassurances, and rules I was raised with, and the same tendency to embarrass my kids that I swore I’d never do!

I may not flip my eyelids and I have never been able to hold a headstand.  Instead, I tend to break out some embarrassing dance moves.  And I love to dress up in character.  Knowing my actions mortify my children, I just can’t seem to help myself. 

The cycle has continued.  My daughters, who had their own odd tendencies as children, are the same ones who were (and still are) horrified by my antics, swearing up and down that they will never embarrass their children.  Hah!  My oldest, Jamie, who is soon to deliver her first child, used to cram her feet into cabbage patch shoes when she was a toddler, and as a pre-teen, decided to tape one of her eyes shut and call herself ‘eye-patch Patty’.  Then there’s the day she shaved her forearms. Don’t ask me why.  When my daughter Heidi was in grade school, she’d cut and pin material together, dressing in bizarre ways, even by my standards.  And then there was her wig fetish and the Elvis sideburns she made and wore.

I can see my vindication on the horizon and I’m hoping my mom (who started it all) will be by my side.  I envision my mom and me at Jamie’s house when her kids are teens and she is walking around the house with her feet crammed in cabbage patch shoes and tape over one eye while their friends look on.  And, if things go right, a similar scene will play out at Heidi’s home as my mom and I help her create outlandish outfits to wear in front of her mortified children and their friends. Then I will know that I’ve done my job right as a mom and passed the torch of humor and humiliation!