Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Another for the "Things That Really Don't Matter" File

I have found myself with an unexpected fifth day off on this ultra-long, long weekend. Five days off, with a three day work week to follow? Who says wishes don't make dreams come true?

I just realized this means I have the time, groceries and desire to cook one more meal (does taco salad count as a meal?) before heading back to work tomorrow.  

I bought an ambitious amount of groceries for this past weekend. My goal was to ensure no salad or food with a "best before" date went to waste. I have almost succeeded.

I now realize I should have set a loftier goal. For example, this would have been a most excellent weekend to clean the garage. But that would have involved the need to wash my hair. I really have to be in the mood to deal with my untamed locks on a day other than my regularly scheduled hair washing day.

Has it come to this? I would prefer to cook over washing my hair?!?

More importantly, I find myself with little more to write about than cooking and hair after five days off. That is the scariest thing of all. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Meandering Thoughts

Nothing too terribly deep or thought provoking has been tumbling through my mind this extra-long-weekend.

I have woken up to four glorious days of "I Get to Stay Home Today!!" and it has been completely and totally amazing. I love being home. I adore mornings when I awake to the knowledge I don't have to pry myself out the door. It has been nothing special but everything wonderful all wrapped up in one small package.

Yesterday, Jet (cat) & I woke up and watched Planet Earth together. This morning Ray (second cat, technically the First Cat) hopped off the bed, threw up on the floor, hopped back into his sleeping spot and continued to rest like nothing ever happened (yes, I need these gentle reminders to nudge me into remembering why I LOVE our laminate flooring). There is truly nothing like waking up to these two black kitties resting on opposite corners of our king size bed.

I issued several invitations into the world. Some worked, some didn't, some were delayed yeses, some resulted in a deep and meaningful telephone conversation instead and ALL of the invitations resulted in me cooking meals this weekend.

I don't do much when I stay home but I DO try to cook (or provide food in some capacity - sometimes it is frozen; other times it is ordered in). Some people may have done yard work and cleaned the garage. Me? I cooked. Twice. Plus, I barbequed hot dogs one night. I feel like a super hero.

I am coming out the end of four days off and I have little to show for it except for leftovers in the fridge. I have a calm and happy heart too. Does that count for anything?

Weekends such as these make me wonder what retirement may look and feel like in my small little world. On one hand, I would hate to create a life where I didn't fully appreciate these wonderful, glorious "small nothings" that mean so much to me. On the other, I totally want to create a world where these extra-long-weekends came about on a somewhat regular basis.

I am lucky enough to have some flexibility within my work world. Maybe I can recreate this four-day-weekend from time to time. Maybe I already have done this (I just checked my calendar to find I have created extra long weekends the past three months).

I do live a charmed life. My wishes are granted on a fairly regular basis. I hope I never get to greedy and hope for more than is attainable. This is a pretty good balance of work/play/family/down-time. I honestly don't believe I could hope for more.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Netflix - The Cat Channel

Jet, our bored little black kitty, snuggled right up beside my head this morning just as I was going to get up. He rarely snuggles up with me, so I grabbed the TV remote control and hit "play" on the next suggested show on Netflix while I waited for Jet to move on with his morning. The next show in the queue happened to be Planet Earth.

The only movement from Jet from that point onward was his rapt attention on the television screen. He was intrigued by the animals but when the birds started showing off their mating dances, his ears perked up even more.

I thought he was going to jump off the bed and go investigate. But he knew better. He simply laid back and watched the show.

All I could see was the back of his head, the subtle movements as I could sense him following the movements of whatever wildlife he was watching and the instinctual twitch of his senses when the birds arrived on the scene.

Needless to say, I stayed still for the entire episode. The unwritten rule of cat parenting is "Don't disturb a content cat".

Jet's attention started to wane when they started showing the melting glaciers and highlighted the warming of the north and south poles. With no animals in sight, he lost interest. He moved from his snuggling spot and started his day...

On we go. A later-than-planned start to the day, with a little added food for thought for the day thanks to Planet Earth.

This world we live on is a miraculous thing. I do agree with Jet though. With no animals in sight, it is a totally different story.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Revelling in the Moment

Life has been very generous with moments which have sparked joy, connection and resulted in an extra long weekend where I am simply waking up with a grateful heart.

My good fortune started a few mornings ago, when I thought I heard the hum of a familiar motor close by but talked myself out of believing it was true. Imagine my delight when I spotted my middle son on our back step, with tools in tow to fix the separated laminate flooring in the hallway.

He had a 10:00 meeting and I had some leeway as to when I should leave for work so we took some time to share a cup of coffee after the flooring issue was rectified (YAY!!!). It was a power visit but not too short to be meaningful.

I started my day with a spring in my step and the day unfolded easily.

Late that afternoon, I received a message from my sister. She was asking if she could utilize one of the spare beds in our home as she had a middle-of-the-night airport drop off and didn't want to drive home alone at that "ungodly hour". My immediate response? Sure!!

My sister arrived at 4:10 a.m., we had a short visit, then we each headed off to our respective sleeping quarters to grab a few more hours of sleep. This resulted in waking up to a completely unexpected and perfectly timed early morning visit. It was such an unexpected gift.

My youngest son and I ended up with a mutually obligation-free day. An easy conversation at home led to a drive, which led to sitting in a quiet, sun filled restaurant. The conversation that came as a result of this most perfectly un-choreographed day was deep.

We covered topics that were parallel to what I had discussed with his older brother the previous morning.

Parenting, forks in roads, the fear of worst case scenarios and eventual outcomes were discussed. I sat in the parenting seat and reflected from my vantage point, while my sons spoke about their side of the same story.

I am so grateful to be looking at these particular moments in my rear view mirror. I remember the feeling well. I was fearful of the impact of handling a situation wrong, missing clues as to what was really going on with my children and the long term effect of life as we were living it.

I see where we are today and I am grateful we have come through the other side of situations which could have played out so very differently.

I think of my own life where I strayed off the path and wandered into unfamiliar territory. I truly believe it was my own personal homing device that guided me back to create the familiar feeling of "family, home and safety" that kept me from straying further. Recreating the home I grew up in was my guiding light and the best way I could try to parent my children.

As luck would have it, I will be available to my oldest son as he has day surgery a few days from now. The opportunity to have one-on-one time with each one of my boys has presented itself to me in the most unexpected fashion. I have no idea how conversations will unfold with my oldest but I am grateful for the occasion to simply show up and be there.

I am revelling in the moment right now. I've issued a few invitations but have few expectations. The door is open to whoever shows up. It is my hope to create the opportunity for "more of the same" but memorable moments can't be planned. They just happen.

"Don't force anything. Let's just go with the flow. If it isn't an easy yes, it's a 'no'. No expectations." These are the conditions I hand out with my invitations. If everyone follows these simple rules, great things may (or may not) happen.

Friday, April 19, 2019

A Very Good Friday

Today has been idyllic. I couldn't have planned a better day.

A completely last minute call from my sister ended up with her waking up here in our home. Waking up to a Friday off and a relaxed breakfast visit with a sister? A most perfect way to start a day.

My youngest son returned from an early morning rehearsal and sat down to visit with us. After my sister left, my son and I gravitated towards our comfortable and inviting living room and had an easy visit which ended up with a "Friday Drive".

The weather was perfect. The sun was shining. My son felt like driving. All I had to do was grab my purse and go along for the ride.

We completed our mission and even though we had a kitchen full of groceries, I said it felt like we should go out for a late afternoon lunch. He agreed. So we did.

We sat in a nearly empty sunny fast food restaurant. We chatted easily. Our conversation started in one place, then led all over the map as we sat without distraction and enjoyed our afternoon without the demands of the day pulling at either one of us.

We spent a few hours together under the same roof, both of us upstairs without chatting. I threw some hot dogs on the barbeque for a light supper to top off our late afternoon lunch.

Eventually we ended up in the back yard and spent some time with our cats enjoying this beautiful April day.

My son has his evening planned so we have parted ways. I'm left to sit back and enjoy the afterglow of a perfectly wonderful Good Friday.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Parenting - It is Not For the Weak of Heart

I have yet to meet a parent who declares, "I've got this! I did this all right and I've raised an ideal human being." Heavens, I haven't even met a pet owner who could make this sweeping declaration.

Children aren't born with user manuals. Even if they were, each set of instructions would be unique to the child despite the fact they came from the same genetic pool of options their siblings were created from. The instructions would change by the minute and one outcome would not guarantee the next. And, even if each child arrived with their own set of specific instructions, it would not account for the parent changing, learning, evolving or simply being an imperfect being. 

We are not hard wired for perfection. Life is action/reaction based. Despite the vast amounts of information on raising children available to us, I believe we are imperfect humans doing our best in an ever changing climate.

As I sit and write these words, the errors of my ways during my parenting years flash before my eyes. I was a young, inexperienced parent with my first child. I was a more mature but still evolving parent with my second. I was pretty laid back with my third child. I was three different parents to three different children. The child I was raising and the person I was in a specific moment in time was ever evolving. 

Now that my children's ages range from 20 to 40 years, I have reached a point where I can relax a bit and simply enjoy the adult human beings I have known since the moment they were born. I am grateful to say I enjoy my adult children. As I watch them navigate the world I am pretty pleased with the citizens they have become and the lives they are creating for themselves.

I look at the variables in place as I raised my young family. What I once deemed a setback, I now see as lesson my children could utilize to overcome obstacles as they lived their life forward. 

While my children didn't do without, they grew up knowing there was not an excess of money to be had. Each of my children took this and it became a tool to either ensure they were in a better financial position ... or believed there was a way out of their existing financial crisis ... or simply made spending decisions based on what money they had in the bank. 

My children weren't raised in a home with a father. One knew their father too well and that didn't bode well for his future. A second came to know that same father and as an adult, he applauded me for walking away from that life and creating the home he grew up in. That same son told his youngest brother to appreciate and acknowledge the dad he had. My third son had a different father and despite the fact his dad and I parted ways, he acknowledged his son on special occasions and tried to keep in touch. Young children often don't appreciate what they have. I was grateful my middle son nudged his younger brother to not only keep that door open, but walk through it and reciprocate his father's kindness.

I never saw single parenting as a disadvantage. Not when parenting together would have created such dissension that it would have affected our children in a negative manner. 

I have spent my parenting years confessing my parenting sins to friends, family and other parents. The more honest I am, the more I hear an echo of a different version of the same story. We are all learning as we go. Reacting the best we can despite all outside factors. We all want the best for our children. And I truly believe we desperately want our children to know we have done and are doing our best. 

As I navigated my day yesterday, I crossed paths with a dad who sounded like he could use a little moral support. I met this dad while I was running my daycare and I still have his child's Daycare Information Sheet (a form I had each parent fill in, so I would have likes/dislikes; medical/emergency contact information; and simply any kind of knowledge to help me get to know the child). Of all the information sheets I collected over the years, this dad's compilation of information stood out. He adored his child, knew him so well and his world revolved around being the best dad he could be for his (then) four year old child.

I took a picture of this sheet the dad filled out 18 years ago and sent it to him. His response was one that I think all parents should keep in their parenting handbook and remind themselves of when the going gets tough:

"I really miss those days. So I need to make decisions knowing that someday I'll think about today and say 'I really miss those days' ".

The most profound parenting wisdom I've ever heard. It applies to parenting as it does to simply living life on a daily basis.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

What Mom Didn't Tell Me

"Aging is not for the weak of heart" is a sentiment I hear, feel and see a lot of lately. One's body changes, a hip or knee goes awry, bones become more prone to breaking, memories may fail, hearing and eyesight is often affected, independence may be lost, housing situations may change, a good night's sleep is often a thing of the past and a myriad of illnesses may or may not be diagnosed, changing the way one lives their life.

Mom was not one who liked to speak of any of the above. I can think of numerous occasions where she would simply scoff and make a comment that made one aware that she couldn't remember the last time she had a good night's sleep. 

Mom simply didn't complain of ill health until she had reached a state where medical intervention was required. Other than her "funny head" we heard very little about aging from Mom. There was ONE time when she leaned in to tell me something I knew was going to be important. 

We must have been speaking of personal grooming, shaving legs and such. In a very hushed tone, she told me "Something you rarely hear, is that your hair stops growing at some point ...", which was translated to mean that eventually you don't have to shave your legs. 

I smiled to myself and recalled this very personal conversation with Mom when I reached the point of not needing to shave my legs. I kept up the habit for a while, then winter arrived and I let things slide.

Spring has sprung and I happened to think of my winter white legs and the eventuality of having them see the light of day. Upon close examination, I found one long black hair on one leg. I thought I would have to shave after all. But I kept forgetting. Then I thought to examine my need for hair removal again and noticed one long black hair on my other leg and a short hair on the leg that sprouted the first long hair. 

I laughed to myself when I realized a razor wasn't required to shave three hairs. I pulled out the tweezers and one, two, three! I was done.

Mom never told me about this. I have reached the age where the stray hairs that grow on my chin have exceeded the hairs on my legs.