I resisted having a cell phone for years. The thought of having a phone “on me” all the time gave me the creeps. Then I took a job out of town that took me away from home at all different hours and in all different seasons, rain and snow and I gave in.
Before I knew it, I had just the “right” cell phone. My blackberry even had to match my glasses. In no time at all I was hooked. I couldn’t leave home without it.
I dislike cooking. I find cooking, on average, a waste of time. First of all, you have to decide what to make, then you have to go to the store. Another thing I dislike to do and purchase the ingredients Then you spend hours making your delicacy, it takes ten minutes to eat it, and then, guess what, you get to clean the mess up. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy cooking when the house is clean and everything is done, and I am cooking for a get together of family and/or friends. The key here, everything else needs to be done.
I want to be the mom who has kids, that when they mess up, never think “mom’s gonna kill me”. I want their first thought to be “I need to call my mom”. Where did I hear that recently??? It makes me wonder…What builds that kind of relationship? Perhaps the following three events would qualify.
Number one…I pick up Aubrey from her dance class. She is now big enough to sit in the front seat. She holds my hand as we crank the music to the Broadway musical “Mama Mia”. We sing along to “Dancing Queen” at the top of our voices.
Two…I sit on the couch in the living room. My laptop rests between us, our feet resting on the coffee table. We share the 20-year-old crocheted afghan my grandma made for me when I moved into my first apartment after college. Kadon made us “extra butter” microwave popcorn and we are watching a movie he thought I would like…”Wine Country”. (Amy Poehler directs menopausal friends on an eventful and emotional weekend trip).) It was the perfect Netflix choice for a mom and her 14-year-old son!?!
And three…Luka struggles in school. He would rather clean crusty bathroom toilets than go over flashcards for a Global Studies test. But as it gets late, I grab the cards that we made together. He lays on his bed. I read the questions as I scratch his back. He gives the answer and flips the card to check the correctness. As we finish the last card, he sleepily says, “Thanks…I love you mom.”
It’s the small stuff. I think I am building relationships with my kids, block by block, one happy moment at a time.
I have lots of happy parenting memories! There was no question in my mind growing up that I wanted to be a parent. I loved babies!! It was when they started getting a little older that I started to question the idea. I was never the greatest babysitter. I wanted the kids to cooperate and listen to me obediently, but as any parent knows, that’s not what kids do!!
Am I lazy or just inadequate?? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Both in my personal life and my work life. In my work life, I’ve said for years that I want to get back to my computer programming/development skills. I have all the tools I need to refresh this information in my head, so why don’t I accomplish this? What is holding me back from accomplishing this goal?
I was the youngest of three girls and I quickly learned how to act so that my sisters would be pleased with me. The other side of this spinning coin is, I have often been devastated when someone close to me says mean things to or about me. I can never understand why they would want to be hurtful. This results in me wanting to do something or try something, but being held back by the abuse I allow myself to suffer in the opinions of others.
I have a confession to make. I don’t cook very often. My husband was raised in the restaurant business and started scraping gum off the bottom of tables with a putty knife when he was too little to remember. One thing led to another and he started food preparation when he was very young. Being around food and people who cooked well caught on with him.
So often when I look back at days, weeks, months…or years, it feels like I just put my head down and plowed through my life. Accomplishing tasks. Meeting needs. Moving kids from point A to point B. Cooking. Cleaning.
I recently took a yoga teacher training where I learned about svadhyaya. In Sanskrit, it means studying yourself. I love to use journaling to do that. As I look back, I can break my life into several “times”.
Way back, when I was married to my ex, I lived rather thoughtlessly. There were just the two of us, both working, no kids. We watched froreign films with subtitles and used a French press to make our coffee. We explored book stores and listened to jazz music. He played his guitar and I worked in my flower gardens.
Now I have a family…husband. three kids. My time for the past twelve years has revolved around teaching, books, kids, survival.
But I feel like this time is changing, wrapping up, and I am preparing for the next chapter. I’ve been teaching for more than 20 years. Now my kids are older. I’m not moving toward retirement…exactly, but another chapter in my life. One where I’m finding more joy and purpose in writing and creating.
Transitions take energy, focus, and dedication. That’s what I’m doing. But, on a daily level, I too often act like I have all the time in the world to accomplish my dreams. At the end of the day, I realize that there wasn’t enough time to even accomplish the mundane, everyday tasks that were on my plate.
So. Here’s what is helping me…
Being a teacher, I love that my time is organized into blocks everyday and those blocks have a solid beginning and end. Accomplishment is inevitable because all the goals for my class are given a little time EVERY day.
That works in my personal life too. Call it the First Grade system of time management. Everything in a block of time and a block of time for everything.
I’ve been planning the week. Food and shopping. Don’t you find that the energy that shopping and cooking meals consumes a huge amount of energy in the week?
What are my work/life goals?–lay it out. Put it down on paper, sticky notes or journal. Make time for work, sleep, writing, reading, and play.
I schedule walking, yoga, meditation…my “self-care”. It’s not that there is no time for these things, rather, if I don’t value myself enough to honor and protect myself…well…no. one. else. will.
Where does time go?
There are large chunks of time in my day that are spoken for, parts that are committed. Then there are, of course, parts that I get to choose.
When I mindfully and thoughtfully choose, I make a committment to myself and can create the life I want in the long run. But if I don’t plan for this ahead of time, it disappears…and MY time is a terrible thing to waste.
In my mind, cooking equals love. The thinking goes this way…
If I love you, I take care of you.
If I take care of you, I want you to be healthy.
If I want you to be healthy, I want you to eat good food.
If I want you to eat good food, I have to cook.
If I cook, then you won’t get processed or fast food.
If you don’t get processed or fast food, you will be healthy.
If you are healthy, it means that I am doing a good job of taking care of you.
If I am taking care of you, then I love you.
There is only so much within the control of a mom. I can only make my kids do so much. I can grocery shop and feed my family. If I feed them something out of a box, I feel like I’ve failed. I have set them up for future obesity, heart disease, and a life of culinary incompetence.
(I know, I’m a bit over the top here.)
Ok…a lot over the top.
I have been teased about my cooking. I put together strange combinations. Leftovers aren’t leftovers, they are the starting point for the next day’s meal. I cook more “almost homemade” than organic, free-range, or “close-to-home grown”.
If it is soup…I LOVE it! My latest specialty is solid soup.
Salt and pepper? Yeah.
Make couscous in a sauce pan according to instructions. (I add a handful of kale or spinach.)
Salt and pepper? Yeah.
Sauté sliced up onion, celery, and a carrot.
Put this into a baking dish and add some protein—I put in the meat from a couple of leftover pieces of chicken.Then mix in 2 eggs and a can of cream of mushroom soup.Almost sounds like “Midwest Hotdish” or a variation of tater-tot casserole.
Well, good idea. Let’s go with the mushroom theme—sauté and carton of mushrooms with a pinch of salt and place them on top. Generously sprinkle a handful, or two of shredded cheddar cheese. Cover and bake at 350 for about a half hour (or so) and WA LAH….
I recently read the book “All About Love” and connected with the author, bell hooks, when she said that “Women believe it is a sign of commitment, an expression of love, to endure unkindness or cruelty, to forgive and forget”.
I was married during college to a bright and passionate young man. We were married for 12 tumultuous years. During that time, I believed that everything must be done to save the relationship.