You Take The Good, You Take The Bad, You Take Them Both & There You Have…The Facts Of Life

As I get older, I am more able to appreciate people’s strengths and be more forgiving of their weaknesses (as perceived by me, obviously). The black and white perspective of my youth has shades of gray and the judgement that comes with being newer to the world has faded. Life is full of nuances and a feast of all different people. Not everybody can be every thing.

My dad isn’t super plugged into my life, but anytime I need help he is there. He is patient, helpful and scary smart. I choose to appreciate those things about him now instead of harping on the things he lacks. He is there when I need help and can figure out ANYTHING.

When my mom died, I unrealistically wanted my sister to take her place. But she couldn’t because she’s not my mom. Instead I grew to appreciate her thoughtfulness, generosity and pragmatism. She is there in a bunch of other ways when it counts.

We have a friend of the family who is a terrible communicator and can be very difficult to deal with. But he is also generous, assisted us in caring for my mom when she was ill and is always willing to jump in and help.

Expecting people to be exactly what you want them to be seems immature to me now. I think lovingly accepting peoples’ limitations helps us accept our own, too. What do you think?

Observations & Admiration On Memorial Day

I didn’t notice until I got older. All the blanks I could now fill in. About a quiet hero, my grandaddy.

Grandaddy didn’t give opinions unless he was asked. And if you were smart enough to ask, you could count on walking away with some new insight or life lesson.

He didn’t brag about his achievements though there were many. Instead, he set an example that you longed to follow.

He never complained, but worked very hard. He was strong and did what had to be done.

He offered generous help and support when you needed it, but would never mention to you how many times he had come to your rescue.

He had a sense of humor and a devilish grin. Always a new joke to tell.

I remember sitting in Grandaddy’s big Lincoln Town car which was the perfect car for him. Classy, handsome, dependable, smooth, unforgettable.

Grandaddy loved quietly, but kept the people and things that mattered close to his heart.

If I’d Known Then What I Know Now

I came across a word doc on my laptop the other day that was created in 2006. I opened it and found a rambling of my thoughts at the time.

I was lamenting the end of my marriage and labeling it a huge failure. I voiced envy over a friend’s marriage I thought was so perfect. I expressed frustration with my mother. I talked about how sad I was that Hannah was getting older. I ended it saying I thought I need therapy. That made me laugh.

I have learned so many things since then.

Currently, I have no feelings of regret about my divorce. Though I have examined the role I played, I no longer feel like it’s a mistake I can never recover from. In fact, I have learned to be super independent and now have trouble even imagining being married again. But I have a great life regardless.

The marriage I envied has since broken up. I learned not to compare my life to anyone else’s because everyone has problems. You never know what goes on behind closed doors. I have seen this lesson proven repeatedly.

My mom is gone now and I think of her everyday. Though she was not perfect, I take so many wonderful things from her. Now that I am older and wiser, I see her struggles clearly and know that she did her best. When we know better, we do better.

Hannah is almost 12 now and I hardly ever mourn little Hannah anymore. I see great things come with every age. I am proud of her and know that everything is as it should be.

And therapy. I made that statement as a dramatic ending for my pity party essay. But I did get some. Lots of it actually. And things have gotten so much easier because of it.

So I chuckled at my two page novel. And started on a new entry today. I can’t wait to see what future me thinks of current me.
Eightball

Be Gone, Before Somebody Drops a House on You Too!

So Hannah has this “friend”, Sonya*. I knew the Sonya was bad news from the very beginning of this dreaded friendship. I’m 40. I’m an expert troublemaker spotter by now. But it took Hannah time—and many discussions about how this girl was definitely not growing toward the sun—for her to figure this out.

It was confirmed when Sonya educated Hannah waaaaaay too much about the birds and the bees (covered in one of my previous posts). Finally I told Hannah she’s not to hang around with Sonya anymore. She was fine with it.

Fast forward several months and one grade. Sonya has changed, Hannah informed me. “Can I pleeeeease be friends with her again? Really, she apologized and she has really, really changed. For real.” Ohhh, well shoot, if it’s FOR REAL then suuuuuure.

Truth is, Hannah’s school is very small and Sonya will be around most likely through high school graduation. Lucky us. So I told Hannah she was old enough to make her own decisions about the types of friends she wants to have and so it was up to her. I set aside my feelings…my KNOWING….that Sonya was Sonya and she gots issues that would reveal themselves once more. Hannah would have to learn again.

Sonya was on good behavior for a few weeks. Then Hannah started not wanting to go to school. I finally got it out of her that Sonya was up to her old tricks which included, but are not limited to, manipulation, undermining and planting seeds of self doubt and inferiority. Hannah could see it much quicker this time. I listened as she told me story after story about Sonya’s latest betrayals.

It was hard for me to convince Hannah that Sonya acted out of fear and insecurity until I stated a quote I heard on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday:

“People act on the outside how they feel on the inside.”

Hannah gasped. “Wowww, that is really good.” I watched as it sunk in. I threw in “When someone shows you who they are, believe them!” to close out the lesson.

We agreed that we would not give Sonya any more power over her. Like Glinda the good witch told the Wicked With of the West, ““Oh, rubbish! You have no power here. Be gone, before somebody drops a house on you, too.”

*not her real name

My Daughter Doesn’t Take Piano Lessons (And Other Things I’m Failing At)

“Mommy can I take piano lessons?”

I consider this request. I would like her to take piano lessons, but we have no piano. It seems unreasonable that I should go buy one. She suggests a keyboard. Even still. We’ve done dance, gymnastics, acting lessons, soccer and girl scouts. We participate in swimming and drama. Can’t I just let myself off the hook, piano-wise?

The other day, I was folding laundry when a commercial for paper towels came on. The mother just smiles as her daughter “helps” her by sloshing a ridiculously full bowl of soup across the kitchen to the dining room table. Mommy smiles as she notes that her daughter likes to help. Mommy is unfazed as she reaches for a paper towel.

I instantly hate the overly patient Bounty mommy, certain that there are real Bounty mommies everywhere and I am definitely not one. I would have shut down the whole soup carrying thing before she even took a step. I bet Bounty mommy even cooked the soup with her daughter. Meh.

I feel like the Queen of Hurry Up, You Have To and How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You. It’s a kingdom where my minions are Disappointment, Guilt, Remorse and Regret. I know I am not alone in this kingdom. It just feels like it.

I yell sometimes. My expectations are high. I have little patience. A lot of times, I don’t feel like listening to her stories. I cook a real dinner 2-3 times a week. I am on my phone too much. I should make her put her iPod away more. No, your bathing suit isn’t clean for camp. We should be working out together. I need to sign us up for some yoga classes. Yes yes, that would be fun and not at all challenging to fit into our packed schedule. Why aren’t we eating nice summer dinners on the patio more. We watch too much TV. I don’t like getting up in the evening to tuck her in. That is lame.

The other day, out of the blue—
Hannah: I’m proud of the life you made. Even though things didn’t go as you planned, you picked yourself up and built a nice life. You don’t live off of anyone. You did it yourself.

Me: If there was someone to live off of, I would.

Hannah: I’m trying to have a moment here.

And those are the moments when I know I’m doing more good than harm. I smile to myself.

Everything I Need to Know, I Learned From My Mom

I was reflecting on things my mother taught me—this being Mother’s Day weekend and all. It made me think of the types of things I want my daughter to learn from me. So I made a list. I like making lists.

Things i want to teach my daughter:

You have to find a way to accept things when they don’t go your way.

That girl is being mean to you because shes fearful and insecure.

Its more important to be a good person than a good student.

Be kind.

Stand up for others when they’re too scared to stand up for themselves.

For every problem, there is a solution.

Its ok to be imperfect.

70s/80s music is the best music.

Nature is beautiful and we should appreciate it.

Do the right thing even when no one is looking.

Don’t litter.

Doing for others is important.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Do sing with the radio.

Try to be organized–it saves you a lot of time and stress.

Always believe in your ability to deal with anything that comes your way.

Invest in a few expensive items of clothing that you really love.

Being healthy doesn’t mean being skinny.

Don’t ever let someone make you feel like you’re not enough.

Honor your commitments.

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

That I will always love her with my entire heart.

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Who Wants to be a Who?

After her audition, my fourth grade Hannah was positive that she would get a big part in Seussical the Musical—the spring show at her school. We both were. But when I picked her up one afternoon, I could see on her face that things had not gone as we planned.

“I have to be a stupid Who!” she cried through disappointed tears. “It’s embarrassing!
A Who is the worst part you can get! You just stand in the background and hum and sway!” I didn’t know what to say. I let her get it all out.

“You know who else got Who parts? People who cried or ran off stage during their audition…people who had to stop and start or who read like robots…even people who declined to audition at all!” she informed me. I had to admit, it did seem insulting.

As my little girl’s heart broke right before my eyes, I was flooded with feelings of sadness and pity. She told me how she’d wanted to cry when they told her she’d be a Who, but she had to hold it in. How all of her other friends got bigger parts. How everyone was trying to make her feel ok with her Who-ness.

I wanted to go to the teachers and ask them what they were thinking and tell them to fix it immediately! I called Hannah’s dad instead. He was very upset for her, too. “Well you need to write a note or make an appointment with that teacher! Or just tell her not to be in the play! Or I know..I’ll go talk to him,” he told me. I explained that I didn’t think this was something for us to interfere in and that I felt the lesson here was that sometimes things don’t go our way, but we have to find a way to make the best of it. He begrudgingly went along.

So I gave my Hannah the rest of the evening to complain and be sad (and she took full advantage of it!). The next morning, she was still very upset. On the car ride to school, I told her all the mom stuff you’re supposed to say about this happening for a reason and how she will have to accept it and do her best. She really didn’t seem receptive. I told her I wasn’t letting her quit, so it was going to be a long couple of months if she chose not to get on board with her Who part.

When I picked her up that afternoon, she said to me, “Well, I guess I’ve decided being a Who isn’t so bad and I’ll just have to accept it.” I told her I was glad she was feeling better. “Yeah some of the fifth graders told me not to feel bad because last year in the Jungle Book musical, some of them had to be rocks and grass. A Who is better than rocks and grass,” she told me. I told her how proud I was of her.

And it’s true. A Who beats the pants off of rocks and grass.

Photo by: dctheatrescene.com