Friday, September 29, 2017

Tis the Season for Snow and Dog-Doo

I get some of my best thinking done while I'm doing a mindless task. Yesterday it was while scooping dog-doo from the play yard. Did I mention she's a big dog? I had plenty of time on my paws.

I was thinking about how cleaning up after our pets is normally one of the kids' chores, but like so many other families with the back-to-school busy-ness, and me with some extra time during the day, I did this terrible task for them. I was curious how long it would take them to notice I'd done this job (I'm betting awhile).

A recent conversation popped into my brain as I tried to remove yet another extra-large poop patty from the ground. It was with a woman whom I don't know well who was sharing about how "sooooooo busy" she and her family are. Oh, with ALL the school sports and sooooooo many after school activities--there was a long list.

Part of me wanted to say, "Aren't all those optional events that you guys are choosing to do that are causing you to be sooooooo busy?" I think I already knew the answer. Along with that I also had the friendly suggestion, "Hey maybe why don't you ask your kids which of those extra-curriculars are the most meaningful to them?" But I'm pretty sure I had that one figured out too. Of course instead of offering my witty wisdom, I just smiled and nodded and made some mild remark about her probably having well-rounded kids with such a wide variety of scheduled electives. After all, she wasn't looking for parenting tips.

What I was thinking about was a thought that's been growing in my mind since I became a mama... I suspect that in an effort to make your kid stand out so others too can see this bright, beautiful, talented star that you know them to be, often a parent can feel overly compelled to show off their virtuoso with others. Being over-busy is just a by-product.

One of Tyler Durden's memorable maxims to his faithful, fighting followers seemed so unkind and wrong when I heard it uttered in Fight Club nearly two decades ago:

You are not special. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.

Now he was speaking to his growing army that he wanted to break down so he could build them back up. THAT is a message that most kids have never heard in their early lives. Quite the opposite in fact. Many youngins today (and I'd suggest the last two generations, including mine, and my own children) have heard many variations on You can be whatever you want to be! You're amazing and special and wonderful!!!

I hated that book/movie line and didn't believe nor try to understand it (even when the then still young, still cool, very sultry Brad Pitt said it). It went against everything I believed and had been told since I was a kid who'd been instilled with self-worth.

But you know what? I'm getting older and now that I'm a parent, I'm starting to think his words aren't so cruel and crazy. I just think they need some elaboration.

To most, you are not special. To many, you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.

But in fact you are a beautiful and unique snowflake, but so is everyone else in this enormous snowfall of Life.

That's what I wish I could have shared with that other sooooooo busy mom. But I'm too tied-up scooping poop.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Birthday Gift from Heaven

Today's my birthday. My husband bought me a present that I asked for after I saw it a few weeks ago. I thought it would be a great addition to our dining room and wonderful piece to store some old treasures--an old primitive style hutch. I convinced him to let me have it a little bit early because I knew there was some work to be done on the old wooden cupboard. I wanted to be able to enjoy it, complete and displayed, on my birthday. Little did I know, that well-loved piece of furniture would be the catalyst to an even better birthday surprise.

I finished up the fixes and sanding on Friday, so Saturday I started to find things to place inside. During my cleanup and sorting of items, I discovered a simple, white tablecloth, one I hadn't looked at in years. It was a clever idea my mother-in-law had for our wedding day. She'd purchased it for our guests to write well-wishes on so that we'd have those to read in years to come. I had placed the signed cloth in the same container as my other ones, and all but forgotten about it since the summer of 1999.

When I rediscovered it yesterday I could barely recall us sitting down to read the thoughtful messages (since the day after our wedding at least). It was so fun to reflect on the kind notes, some of which had been scrawled by folks no longer close in our lives, while others were penned by friends and family we still see regularly.

My heart raced when I recognized my dad's handwriting. He passed away the week after my birthday last year. I slowly read each word, and smiled imagining him thinking about what to say to me and my new husband. It was a thoughtful, loving note, one that I know likely held the most heartfelt words.

The last line before his closing was priceless...

Count on me anytime.

Oh how I love and miss my daddy. How did that sweet little stinker somehow manage to give me the best birthday gift all the way from heaven?!? The reminder and promise of unconditional love.

This is going to be a great year. Thank you, Dad.