Archive for the ‘rituals’ Category
The December doldrums have set in. There’s something about this time of year that just gets to me. I know I’m not alone, but that only makes me feel marginally better. If I know this feeling is coming, why can’t I get over it?!
For parents, this time of year is riddled with guilty feelings.
- Am I buying my kids to much?
- Am I buying them to little?
- Will they become little brats demanding material things, never realizing the true meaning of the season?
- How can I teach lessons that things are not what makes you happy when the tree is surrounded by presents?
- If I don’t deck the halls with every Christmas decoration available, am I robbing your kids of the Christmas experience?
- If I think that the Holiday Store at the elementary school is the biggest waste of money and refuse to participate, does this make me a bad parent?
- If I think Elf on The Shelf is a scam and don’t want to participate, are my kids missing out?
- If I don’t make ten different kinds of Christmas cookies because I try not to have a lot of junk food around, will my kids turn into junk food junkies?
See all the angst the season produces for me?! And this is only the tip of the ice berg. Questions like these run through my mind constantly during the month of December. Add in Aaron’s birthday on December 5th, and I am a simpering ball of pathetic trying to be a decent parent.
Yes, my only aspiration is “decent.” I know I can’t be perfect. I’m just hoping that none of my kids pens a Mommy-Dearest type tome during my lifetime. With my luck one of them will and it will be all about how I sucked as a holiday mom.
Anyone else feel this way?!
Thursday evening we went to a memorial service for Jim’s aunt. She was 81 and led a full life. The memorial service was one like you see on TV where people got up to tell stories about her.
While the stories were told and the tears were shed, a photo slide show passed across the front wall. From childhood photos to Hollywood-star type wedding photos with Jim’s very very handsome maternal uncle to pin-up girl pictures on the beach to photos with her children and with her grandchildren.
The stories were funny and touching. I didn’t spend a lot of time with her, but after the service I liked her even more. She was treasured as a friend, neighbor, mother, and aunt. There were stories about the time she punched a future alderman of Chicago as a child (he was a child, too!) and how she was generous and kooky and how much she loved Jesus.
That made me think. Who will tell my stories when I die? And what will they be? How will I be remembered?
I live so far away from family. My kids are teenagers who think I am daft. I have great friends. Who else can tell my stories? Do I need to cultivate people who can tell them? Can I put an ad somewhere?
How do I want to be remembered? I want to make people smile when they think of me. I want them to laugh at things I said and did. I want them to be inspired by me somehow. Most of all, I don’t want anyone to remember me as ordinary. Please, don’t let me be ordinary!
I guess mid-life is when we begin thinking about these things. What seeds has our life sown? What crops will be harvested by those who remain behind?
Do you ever think of these things? Am I being completely macabre? Who will tell your stories? What will they be?
September 21 was world gratitude day. What are you grateful for?
I try to live a life of gratitude. I know, I know. That sounds pretentious and preachy. It’s how I choose to live my life. I don’t have any expectations for your life.
Living a life of gratitude really helps with my Buddhamom persona. No, I’m not smiling and cooing 24 hours a day. I still complain about things. There are things that make me mad. But I think being grateful more often than not has made a difference in my life.
I started doing a twitter hash tag about gratitude. I’ve only done it a few times. I’m changing it up and calling it Gratitude In A Minute (#gratitudeinaminute). When anyone gets the urge, tweet that it’s time for a minute of gratitude, add the hashtag, and let’s see how many people we can influence!
I end each day with my gratitude list, which is a nice way to go to sleep. I always list five things, and someday it’s a struggle to get those five things. It makes me realize that my day is full of little things to be grateful for.
Right now I am grateful for:
- My family being together
- Jim being such a great husband and father.
- Chobani yogurt.
- Drive through banking.
- The squirrels playing in the lot behind my house.
Quick, what’s on your list?!
I’m thinking about kids a lot these days as my family goes through transitions. The twins are done with high school in a few weeks. I turned 45 yesterday. It’s strange how my thoughts have segued quite nicely from having a baby of my own to one day having a grandchild.
Turning 45 has made me play the what-if game a lot this week…
What if I had gone to law school like I originally planned instead of getting my master’s in clinical psych? Would I have been a good lawyer? Would I have been a lawyer who makes money or a legal aid attorney, helping the less fortunate? Would I have ended up being a children’s rights attorney?
What if I had stayed married to my first husband? Would we have had kids? Would I still have finished school?
What if I never met Jim? Would I still be living in my apartment, living the swinging single lifestyle?
What if we hadn’t decided to become adoptive parents? There was a time when I worked in social services where I swore I would never do anything involved the Department of Children and Family Services ever again. Yet, I put ourselves and our lives under their microscope.
What if we hadn’t adopted Jeremy and Jermaine? What if we hadn’t adopted Aaron? Would Jim and I have continued living our double income no kids lifestyle? What do couples do who don’t have children?!
What if my Bestie, Kelly, and I hadn’t gotten so close? Would I still be sane? Would I have curled up in a ball in the corner, chanting nonsense? Would I still laugh as much as I do?!
Mostly, I wonder how I got so blessed and lucky to be living my life. I have a wonderful husband, the greatest kids (no one has annoyed me in minutes!), great extended family, wonderful friends, a nice home. When I think of the things I have I realize they are so much more than I ever allowed myself to wish for!
And, the truth is, that kids have made it all better…
With kids, you understand good times versus bad times. You learn to appreciate the small miracles. Honestly, the other day when Aaron bent over and picked up a remote control that had fallen to the floor, I nearly wept with joy. A random text from one of the boys will make me smile like I just won the lottery.
Kids make you fight less as a couple. I’m starting to think it’s because you’re too damn tired from fighting with the kids to even have a fight with your spouse. Your husband annoys you? Trust me, there is nothing a grown man can do that compares with a 12 year old boy. Nothing.
Kids are a great way for friends to bond. Because if you are honest with your girlfriends about your kids, you realize that all kids are demons at times. Beware: you can’t have this relationship with the parent of The Perfect Child. Your friends have to face their kids’ flaws for true bonding.
Kids help define your priorities. Things you swore were important end up not being so. Things you thought were deal breakers soon go out the window as you all learn the art of compromise. For instance, I really want Jermaine to get a haircut. So I politely remind him every day that I am available at any time to take him for one. Jermaine chooses to react to my suggestion by turning his head and making some comment under his breath. We are compromising. Because I’m not about to drag him for a hair cut and he’s not about to tell me to take a flying leap out loud. That’s compromise, folks.
Kids make you resilient. They never do the expected. They always carry with them the element of surprise. They are never boring. They keep us on our toes!
I can’t imagine life without kids. Can you?!
I came across this article about the failure to repeal the Moment of Silence law. This law provides students with a minute of silence before the first class of the day. They can use it in whatever way they wish. Rob Sherman, a liberal activist and atheist located in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, sued to have the law repealed and the repeal failed this week.
I asked the boys if they had the moment of silence. Honestly, it’s been awhile since the law went into effect and the initial uproar was forgotten. I was surprised to hear that all three boys–two in high school and one in middle school–have the moment of silence. It is sandwiched between announcements and the Pledge of Allegiance. According to them, no one has explained what the moment of silence is for except, “quiet reflection.”
I have no issue with the moment of silence. No one is encouraging them to pray in any certain way; they are not being taught religion of any kind. If the people in charge of education in the state of Illinois believe this minute is beneficial to students, let them have it.
“Quiet reflection” can encompass a huge range of things. I could whip out the Our Father, Hail Mary, and the Prayer to the Holy Trinity in a minute during my Catholic school hey day. (I still know the Our Father and the Hail Mary, but had to look up the Prayer to the Holy Trinity here. I think I knew it as the Glory Be.) But I’m certain my high school days were filled with anything but prayer when I wasn’t actually in mass or doing a classroom prayer. My mind flitted from the cute boy sitting next to me to what I was doing Friday to making sure my hair was still cool.
I don’t think high school students today are any different. When I asked the boys what they do during the moment of silence (they know no prayers), they all shrugged and said nothing. I’m sure their minds aren’t blank; their minds are probably a lot like mine in high school.
I wonder what the purpose of the law is, actually. If you are a religious or spiritual person, your entire day is filled with prayer of some sort already. I might not recite the prayers of childhood all the time now, but I do give thanks for the things I encounter throughout my day: an early robin, a great flower, a beautiful sunset, my gorgeous sons, my gorgeous husband. I don’t limit myself to a single minute of quiet reflection and I don’t guess that the more evolved high school students don’t either. Heck, I bet even the lesser evolved students pray when a hard test is presented to them!
I don’t have a problem with the law. But I do have a problem that my state’s legislature felt it had to spend valuable law-making time putting this into effect. Honestly, in my cash-strapped state wasn’t there something of greater value? Would laws encouraging new industry in the state be more responsible?
Sure, it’s nice that we have a Moment of Silence built into every child’s day when they attend a public school. But children who needed those moments of silence were probably getting one by themselves. Children know what they need and how to get it. They don’t need politicians telling them when to do it.
Go ahead, take your single moment of silence right now. I’m timing you…
We started it the year Grace was born. She was only 10 months old, but we decided to have a team competition making gingerbread houses. My husband and Grace were on one team, and my grown niece, Carla and I were the other team. We bought gingerbread house kits, built them, decorated them, and then I took pictures and emailed them to everyone I knew so they could vote on their favorite house.
This is our 8th year of making gingerbread houses, and the competition is getting fierce. We now have 4 entries, as two of my other nieces joined the contest last year, along with my nephew and Carla’s fiancé. My son Luke has been added to my team since he is only 5 and mostly only cares about eating the candy. I joke that if anyone else wants to join the contest, we are going to have to rent a hall because my table isn’t big enough. The creativity everyone brings to the table is amazing. We never use only the candy that comes with the kit. I’ve been collecting candy since right after last Christmas, when we bought a bunch on clearance. We use cereal, pretzels, coconut, marshmallows, old Halloween candy that no one will eat. We also make a rule every year that you can only use edible items, and that rule is always immediately broken (usually when we assemble the houses using hot glue because they stay together so much better). Some people, who will remain nameless, even steal the baby Jesus from my nativity scene to use in their display. In the past few years, we have spent more time and energy decorating what we call “the yard” of our house than the actual house.
We usually start our adventure with a trip to a local place that has a giant gingerbread display of their own. Then we follow up with dinner at my place, and then the contest begins. My favorite part is the laughter and teasing that goes on, and trying to find ways to disqualify the other teams. Voting now takes place mostly on Facebook, and we have received great feedback and people seem to look forward to getting the pictures and placing their votes. Last year I made a traveling trophy out of a gingerbread house ornament that I glued to a votive holder. I am proud to say that it is currently displayed in my house.
Right now I love the holidays. I’m excited about Christmas. I’m enjoying the newness of the decorations, lights, and Christmas carols. When I go into a store, I want to buy everything and decorate…decorate…decorate.
But check back with me in a week or two. By then I’ll be so tired of the decorations, the lights, and the Christmas music that I will want to run screaming from the stores. I’ll be tired of my fellow shoppers, many who are looking downright demonic as they scour the aisles looking for the perfect gifts.
The worst place to venture is the toy aisle. You can see the panic as people search for the right present for the children in their lives. The ones I feel most sorry for are the parents who have carts stuffed to the gills, toys plummeting over the sides, as they try to fulfill some need by over-giving. I wonder why they do this. Guilt? Vanity? Why do they think kids need a hundred different packages to open for Christmas?
Christmas isn’t the only holiday. But it is The Holiday Season and seems to be the one that I dread the most. I think it’s the sheer pressure that comes with it.
I feel a need to decorate the house like a Martha Stewart clone. I want a gorgeous tree be-decked with handmade ornaments and other baubles that I put together at night with my family. The reality is that the tree is a scrawny artificial one and we have plastic, shatter-proof ornaments because the animals tend to climb the tree.
We don’t even put presents under the tree until Christmas Eve because the animals tear up the wrapping. I’m sure you’re getting an idea of who runs the house here. It ain’t we humans!
Plus, Christmas happens in winter. Sometimes there is snow. I hate both winter and snow. I hate going out in the cold. I hate scraping windows and shoveling snow. I am not a winter person. Christmas comes smack dab in the middle of my winter doldrums where I am pondering why I ever moved to Illinois and why the hell do I stay?!
Maybe this year will be different though. I’m feeling a difference. I’ve started decorating, despite Jim’s a no-Christmas-decorations before Thanksgiving rule. But I’ve put up a few things. And the tree will go up this weekend.
I’ve had an urge to bake. Maybe this will be the year I make chocolate crinkle cookies. If I can find a recipe that uses cocoa powder. We’ll make fudge and so many batches of seven-layer bars that we get sick of them. I’m even considering doing cut-out cookies.
I know I sound like a Scrooge. I just can’t live up to the image we moms have forced upon us of perfect housewives, mothers, and hosts who do it all with a smile and nary a complaint. So I do my best and my family–hopefully–knows no different way of doing it. They don’t know–yet–that I am a Martha Stewart Finishing School drop out!
For as long as I remember, the anticipation of a Friday night filled my whole week. By noon on Friday, I was a quivering mess from the excitement of Friday night!
Back in high school, that meant driving around endlessly, flirting with boys, sneaking a few drinks, dragging Main Street* until it was time to go home. We’d repeat it through high school and early college. Our parents did it. It was weekend entertainment in Hays, America.
When I moved to ChiBurbia, Friday night meant happy hour after a long week of working. Again, it included flirting with boys (OK, men!), drinking, and then dancing our asses off all night long. Friday night was an endless aerobics class as we shook and shimmied. Mostly it was a group of girls dancing, but it didn’t matter.
Always there was that swell of anticipation that built all through Friday. By mid afternoon Friday, the young people in the office started talking about what we were doing that night. Go home? Read? Watch tv? Why? We were young and unattached! We had to drink and dance and flirt.
As I got older, I noticed the anticipation waning. It was a slow process, but there came the week when I didn’t feel like going out. By that time I had kids and was exhausted from working all week and taking care of them. Friday night meant I could crawl into bed (with or without kids) and watch old movies on tv.
Sometimes I miss that feeling. I want to want to go dance my ass off again. But now I don’t really know the music, most of my friends are married women who are tired like me, and I’m sure my inflammatory arthritis has cut down on my graceful dancing style. Still…I’d like that excitement once again.
Crap, I guess this means I am officially old because I’m yearning for the good old days…
*Dragging Main deserves it very own post to come soon!
Aaron’s teacher sent home a list of activities that would start family rituals. That got me thinking…do you have any? Because I’m not so sure we do here in KlineLand.
We eat dinner together every night. That’s our big one and I know it’s supposed to make my kids bigger and better than all the rest. Hey, I saw that on TV!
Other than that, we’re pretty open to suggestions. Jim always coaches something. That’s been a steady ritual since the twins got into organized sports.
I used to attend all sports events until it came to pass that the sun kills me. Literally, I get rashes and flu-like symptoms. One afternoon in the sun takes three days to recover. Not worth it, really. But I do attend night games.
We used to have our Saturday night poker game. But that’s fallen to the wayside since the introduction of the XBox Live into our home. It was fun though and I think it’s time to bring that back!
I’m reminded of an episode of The Middle where Frankie, the mom, wants more family rituals. Except they all just end up sitting on the couch watching TV. We don’t even do that! I take to my bed early so I can read without the background noise of the cartoon channel.
Jim’s mom and dad took the boys every Wednesday night for years and years. It was a little mid-week date night. That doesn’t happen any more, so we don’t even get a regular night out with just the two of us. We save that for the biggie–the Anniversary! Wow, once a year…
So I am in need of some suggestions for family rituals. Because I don’t think yelling, “brush your teeth, go to the bathroom, and for god’s sake put on some deodorant!” every night counts.