Sunday, July 22, 2007

the corniness that is the "circle of life".

I call it corny, because until you experience it, it does seem rather, well, "corny". Seriously, The Lion King scene is playing in my mind with that song that Elton John wrote. And that other song, "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?"

My mom recently went back to Michigan where I am from, and visited all of our old church friends and revisited some places that hold fond memories. (My "corniness" is now telling me that "fond" is such a mild and inaccurate word for such an important thing. Memories are NOT fond, they are foundational and pivotal to the human soul. Hmmph, "fond".) Among some of the places she visited, she went to our old house and the first apartment that they brought me home to as a newborn.

This "corniness" began for me when Ben was brought in to this world. I just could not have appreciation for memories, upbringings, childhood memories, until it became relevant to me. And it only became relevant to me when the roles were reversed a little bit and I became Mom. Every single day I learn just what it means to enjoy the single moment in anything. Does that mean I always do it? Heavens, no. But I have learned through a two year old that life is just a chain of single moments all put together and that change happens so fast your only option should be to accept it and breathe it in - beause IT WILL BE GONE. And some day it will only be a "fond" memory. A child really shows you that because they change with the day. And while it can bum rush you - you really can look back at some point and realize that it was all for the good. They *need* to change that much.

As for my mom's trip to Michigan, she provided me some pictures of her trip that gave me a little "hindsight". It is so easy for me at times to get stuck in the "now" and think that the way things are now, are always going to be that way. I especially think that way when things are going badly - ie. sick child, onerery toddler behavior, life in general, etc. Here are some of the pictures that she sent to me.
My first apartment. The place my parents met. The place they lived in when they got married. The first place they brought me home to. Obviously I don't have many actual memories of this place, but I know my parents do and I know it means a lot to them. And it is a mile from the house you'll see below. I can tell you the memories of first time parenthood for us, and I know it was emotionally charged at times. I can tell you that Rob and I never had a single argument until we had Ben. Life was good, and when we had Ben it was better and still is better. But, it was an adjustment. "Agreeing to disagree" became a bigger challenge, because there was a life at stake. A life at stake that we both love immensely, and when two opinions conflict in terms of parenthood, it's not a disagreement that you can just shrug off.

Here is the home we lived in for the longest. We moved there when I started 5th grade. Please notice my tree. My tree. The one I planted. The one that was just a tiny sapling. The one my dad didn't think would really grow. Sounds negative? Well, at first, yes. But I look back at it now, and he never said much about helping me plant it. He just humored me and helped me stick it in the ground per my request. To me, that speaks volumes. I know it takes great strength and faith - even if only the size of a mustard seed - to just take a break from "parenting" and just let your child do what they will. I know, that I haven't even acquired this skill, strength, what have you. Ben's only two and already I want to control. What he eats. When he naps. How hard he plays *all* day. He hasn't even had a birthday that ends in "teen" and it's already hard for me. Anyway, this sapling I brought home from school was a gift to all the students at Challenger Elementary which was named after the space shuttle, and was given to all of us in memory to the astronauts aboard that shuttle.

Here is a rear view of our house on Bringham Lane. The upper right hand corner of the house with a ledge under the window was my bedroom. Here is where I played out some of my rebellion - at night, I would sneak out my window, and sit on the skinny ledge and smoke cigarettes. You know. Because it's cool, and your parents really have no idea anyway what's good for you. (heavy on the sarcasm.) Even that surgeon general guy on the pack was probably wrong, too! :) It went unnoticed until my neighbor mentioned that he had cigarette butts in his lawn. And while he, too, smoked, he also loved his lawn and would never think to litter his filfthy habit on his beautiful lawn. In fact, he and my dad would often stand near eachother at the edge of their respective lawns and just stare at the lawn or watch the sprinkler and chat. Guy bonding, what else can you say?! (yes, I know now smoking is bad for you. ha.)
Back to the present. We just returned home from vacation in Florida and Disney World. What a fun trip. While Ben had a blast - the real fun was for his parents. Talk about reliving childhood. Talk about reliving the things your parents wanted you to enjoy when you were a kid, but you couldn't really because you didn't have hindsight, relevance, perspective. Geez. I suppose that "youth is really wasted on the young". But - the corny "circle of life" brings it all back to you, when you get to watch your children grow and change and you only can smile and say to yourself "someday they will know and understand what it's like to be a parent". And when God grants the peace and promise of that, you can really sit back and just enjoy reliving through your kids.

Here are some pictures that I know will be a good dose of corniness someday.

Ben and Pluto.

My Uncle Bob and his wife Emily.

The happiest place on Earth.

tea cups.

friendship. ten years in the making.

Rob and my vanilla wafer. Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota.

Ben says, "wait for me, birds!"

Rob's cousins, Tori on the left and Elizabeth on the right in Melbourne, FL.

first day at the Shades of Green resort at Disney World.

my boys.

Friday, July 6, 2007

napoleon’s girl.

(Note: written some time back – before my last post.)

I promise today that I will not ramble, for it isn't a "big" deal at all. But rather a "small" one. Ha! Let me make some sense.

I have realized that I am "that" girl. Not like in Eve's song, "who's that girl… la la la la la-la-la". I used to love that song by the way. Geez, I have already digressed. This Saturday morning began with a trip to our local coffee shop followed by a trip to our neighborhood Lowe's. We are buying all the materials for Rob to build a patio cover for our backyard. I would really love this, because it gets quite hot when Ben and I are outside. So we obviously save the big things for last – ALL THE LUMBER. Rob needs an assortment of all sorts of blah x blah x blahs – so Rob and I are lifting them end by end into the big cart. Let alone we have a shopping cart and a big cart for the 9 bags of sand for Ben's sandbox-to-be. So a big burly black guy adorning the Lowe's red vest comes and says "Here how many of those do you need? Thought you could use a bit more muscle."

Now here is the pathetic turning point. Why – oh why – do I get like this? This is the embarrassing part. I politely thank him for offering his help and then reply "I'm having a baby – otherwise I could be a tough girl."

CAN YOU BELIEVE I SAID THAT?! I feel so stupid for admitting this here – but it really got me thinking about stuff. Why did I feel like I needed to mention that? Why was I so worried about what someone thought of my strengths and capabilities? I dunno, but, man, was I worried about my dignity at the time.

In the car on the way home, I said to Rob, "I am that girl."
Here was our next exchange.

Husband: What do you mean?
Wife: I am that girl, who is so afraid about what others think.
Husband: (smirk)
Wife: What?! I just don't want him to think that because I am not tall or big, that I am a wimp! Cuz I'm not.
Husband: I know you're not.
Wife: And he should too.
Husband: Cry from Napoleon himself!
Wife: (speechless)
Husband: (another grin)
Wife: Well, in that case, I feel bad for Napoleon. People thinking that he is incapable of something just because of his size.
Wife: (feeling as though I need to continue defending myself). AND it's not like I'm doing it in a bad way. Napoleon went about it the wrong way. I'm not trying to overcompensate for it.
Husband: Wanna buy a big truck with a lift kit, too?!
Wife: I still feel bad for him.
Husband: The man who oppressed and tortured massive amounts of people?
Wife: (hmmph)

I guess we all in some way or other want to prove our worth to others. This was a moment for me, and realizing it, I should really find my self-worth through the God who created me. And as our conversation progressed in sporadic jokes – Rob asked me, "So – do you think that you could bench press as much as that guy at Lowe's?" That also got me to keep quiet. And that big burly guy was probably stronger than me in certain ways.

But I bet I could outrun him any day. (there I go again)

I guess when I really thought about it, I just didn't want him or anyone else judging me based on only what he saw.

What is it in you that you want others to know about you – that they may not know by just meeting you? What do you put out there for the world to see? When should you worry about it and when should not care about what snap judgments are made about you?

And when it really comes down to it, all you can do is put your best foot forward and promote your best features and characteristics by just being you.

I will try and work on that.

I will try to not be Napoleon's girl.