Saturday, May 28, 2011

Moving out

Shannon is moving out.

Today I sat on her bed with her and we counted the money from an old piggy bank she’d found when she was going through her stuff. We needed a level place to stack the coins, so she pulled an old picture book off her shelf, a beautiful version of Puss in Boots that I used to read to the kids over and over when they were small.

The large green eyes of Puss stared up at me from over his ruffled collar on the back of the book jacket. I stacked pennies on his face in groups of ten. It takes a lot of stacks of pennies to make three dollars. We stacked, and then we started rolling, and then Jon called to see if he could get permission to go to a drive-in movie with the church youth group and I was pulled away, which was a loss and a mercy rolled into one.

Her room is different now, as she has boxed up her books, removed her clothes from the closet, cleared her shelves. I don’t think she has thrown much away, and for now, that is a-ok.

I don’t remember leaving my room like this. I just don’t remember. I don’t remember my mom crying, or shopping for me, or stressing out about whether I had a toilet brush for cleaning my bathroom. Maybe it didn’t happen. I think we borrowed Al and Jackie’s truck and loaded it ourselves.

When I go “home” to my parents’ house (and somehow, no matter how old I get, I think that place will always be home), I feel so young in my old room. I can be 27, or 32, or 44, and I still feel all the uncertainty of 14 when I sit on my old bed and look into the full length mirror on the wall next to the closet. Instead of seeing the wrinkles and the gray hair, I see the frightened eyes and trembling lips of a young girl, and I feel like I need somebody to tell me what to do.

I still feel like I need somebody to tell me what to do, and to help me do it. Even in my own home, I feel like I can’t handle it, I am not qualified. I never oil my woodwork or my dining room chairs. Somebody ought to make me do that... I would love if somebody would come alongside me and do it with me.

Maybe this is why I feel so overwhelmed for Shannon. Because I am overwhelmed myself and always have been. I was never able to teach her the things I didn’t know.

But that doesn’t mean she can’t learn them somewhere else. She is the bomb at chemistry, and I didn’t teach her that. I may have sparked her imagination with acid-base experiments using red cabbage juice. We did those when she was in fourth grade and I homeschooled her. We also used turmeric on coffee filters to make homemade base indicators. She wanted to do science every day. I should have had a clue...

But I did not teach her real chemistry, and I did not teach her how to manage a home, and I did not teach her to be mysteriously feminine. I did not know enough about those things myself. She will have to learn these things or not, on her own, according to the will of God.

I love her so much. I will miss her so much. Why does a happy, exciting time have to be so heart rending?

Shawn and I went for a walk tonight while it got dark. Under the glow of the streetlight, maple seed helicopters shone white and messy across the asphalt road. I picked a perfect one and brought it back to the house. Shannon and I played with it in the open foyer, tossing it from the top of the stairs and watching it spin down.

I hear the hose running water into our pool because a new liner was installed today, and I hope I remember this evening forever.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

**very introspective (I'll do better next time)

Shawn bought me this little, itty bitty laptop for Mothers’ Day. It is really cute, and I can take it anywhere. For instance, I am sitting in the red chair in my bedroom right now, instead of in the study. Piper is scratching around in his dog bed in the corner under my bed, and the vacuum sits reproachfully at the base of my oval mirror, the one that is almost full length.

There are a dozen antique pink roses in a vase downstairs on the kitchen table. Ordinarily I discourage people from buying me roses for Mothers’ Day because at Wegman’s, where they sell roses for the everyday low price of $9.99 on 363 days of the year, they charge $34.99 on Valentine’s Day and Mothers’ Day. Even Aldi marked up their bouquets from $3.99 to $7.99 in honor of us moms. (Right.) But Shawn and I happened to be in WalMart picking up a prescription for one of the boys, and they had Mothers’ Day roses, twelve for $10. I was willing to accept roses on a major flower holiday if we could get them at that price!

The other morning as I was drinking my tea and staring absently at my flowers, I thought of how I would love to arrange flowers for somebody’s wedding sometime. There are websites where you can order flowers for close to wholesale prices. I would love to plan wedding flowers with somebody and place an order for a bunch of carefully selected flowers, and then arrange them when they arrived.

I doubt if I could ever do this for one of my own daughters if they got married, as there would probably be 10,000 other things I would need to be taking care of, and getting the flowers all set up would certainly impede my ability to get myself ready for the Big Event. So I would need to do this for somebody else.

It struck me that I would not want to do this for money. I would just want to do it for fun, and for love, and to be helpful (I would want them to pay for the wholesale flowers, but I would arrange them for nothing). I am terribly unambitious. I never want to do anything for money. I really hate being paid for things.

It isn’t that I don’t like money. I’d (on a certain level) love to have a job, a career, a salary. I’d love to be able to make a financial contribution to my children’s college expenses. But the things I like to do—teach Sunday school, teach Bible studies, watch people’s little children, arrange flowers—I don’t want to do for money.

There is a part of me that would love to be paid for writing, and then there is another part of me that recoils from it. I want to write what I write without regard to what people think or whether (for goodness’ sake) they would pay me. I’d love to write a book, a fiction book with chapters and a really fantastic plot, but maybe a children’s book and not a novel. But I don’t want to write it to be published, to sell. I just want to write it. Of course, I would like to see it in print. If people liked it, it would be rewarding to get money for it after the fact. But I don’t want to write it for profit, as a job, to make money. I want to write as a blessing, something free and beautiful and God-ordained. And then I’d like to let the chips just fall wherever they fall. If my book is only ever something I print on my computer printer and put into a three ring binder for my children and grandchildren, so be it.

I wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong with me, that I am so unmotivated, so unambitious. I am certainly un-American. So many of my friends work and contribute to their families’ finances. I have no desire to do this, no desire at all. And I do not even homeschool. I am a drone. I have not even been teaching Bible study or Sunday school for the past six months, and still I do not clean my house regularly or organize it or (now that spring has arrived) work on the yard or the flower beds.

I am satisfied, for one thing. If I really had a hunger to build that house in the country, I could be beating the streets looking for a job. But I am completely satisfied with the house I live in. I like my kitchen and my bedroom and the new shower in my master bath. I like my neighborhood and the fact that I am within five minutes of three or four grocery stores. I do not long for more clothes or more vacations (usually) or a new car. This is not to say that I don’t need a new car, just that I don’t want one.

I wish I could figure out what God wants from me, my calling, my vocation. Here I am, 45 years old, with no clue what I’m going to be when I grow up, no desire to grow up, and no desire to make money.

And I wonder why one of my kids is unmotivated.  Ha.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What I would like

I would like to go to bed early some night, with the sunset.

I would like to be in my own bed, yet have it be dark and quiet. No conversations in the hall or out on the street, no TV, no music, nothing but a gentle breeze in the leaves and maybe the sound of Piper wheezing softly under the bed.

I would like the sheets to be freshly washed but soft and broken in. I would like warm feet, a cool face, a soft pillow, and the scent of lavender, not too strong. I would love to have no headache, no neck ache and no aching in my knees.

I would like to sleep all through the night, deep and dreamless, and not wake up even once until the sun begins to rise.

I would like to get up when it is light, but before the sun is all the way high. I would like to step out of bed and stretch and still have warm feet and warm shoulders that do not ache. Then I would drink a glass of water and head downstairs to make tea for breakfast.

I would like to find that my house has been relocated to a beautiful tropical island so that I could sit at my kitchen table and sip tea while watching the sun come up over the ocean from my sliding glass doors. I would open the glass slider to the screen and let in the scent of wildly blooming tropical flowers, the ones canopying my deck.

After breakfast, I would put on flip-flops and shorts and head out my front door which, since my house has been miraculously relocated, now faces a stunning mountain bedecked with leafy vines and waterfalls. I would run up the mountain until I got to the top of the first waterfall, which would also be the bottom of the second waterfall, and I would stand in the spray with vines shading my face as I looked out to sea at bright blue sky and deep blue water.

I would run back down the mountain, and now it would be getting very warm, so I would go into my house and put on my bathing suit and head out to the expansive white sand beach that is now my back yard. My skin would soak up the sun without burning as I worked my way deeper and deeper into the warm, gentle waves of salt water. I'd sit down in waist deep water and let a wave knock me full in the face, and then I would laugh.

When I was pickled in salt water, sand and sunshine, I would head back to my house, my own house, and take a long shower in sweet fresh water. I would have time to put on lotion and essential oils, to brush out my hair and rub cocoa butter into my feet. I'd dress in a white cotton sundress and feel pretty and clean.

I would eat strawberries for lunch, and maybe pineapple. Also avocados and almonds, maybe almond butter on a banana.

Of course, my family would be there. But they would not need me to make their food, or to clean up after them, or to arbitrate their disagreements. They would just be there, enjoying the beauty alongside me, and there would be an abundance of peace and joy and love.

And in the afternoon we would read good books
and talk about deep ideas
and walk around in the sun
and the shade
and the sumptuous flowers
and the fine, white sand.

And then dinner would be ready, with no mess and no stress, delicious cold chicken sliced over tender young greens, served with nuts and a delicate, freshly concocted vinaigrette dressing. A small ensemble of musicians--strings, or perhaps a woodwind quintet--would play beautiful music at a distance, the sounds carried to us on the wind.

And then as the sun began to set, I would like to do it all over again.

But I may need to settle for a strawberry smoothie and an eight-pack of marigolds. Which is not half bad, especially if combined with a back rub. (*smile*)

Monday, May 2, 2011


It is raining again, but that isn't what this post is about.

I've been buying pots and pans lately. And measuring cups, rubber scrapers and dish sets.

Shannon's moving out soon. To an apartment. For graduate school. It is so weird to me.

She needs everything. Before I moved out, I had a bridal shower (actually, a number of bridal showers), and a wedding. I went to Dayton's and registered for everything I needed, and people bought it for me as gifts. I am still using most of that stuff today.

Shannon needs everything a bride needs (well, half as much, anyway). But I guess we're on our own here. There are no going-off-to-graduate-school showers.

And by the time she has a bridal shower, probably she will be fully stocked.

Life is so nuts.