29 August, 2012

The Enormity of One Drive

It's 8:48a and i've already been humbled.

If I haven't mentioned yet, I am an intensely introverted person. I know this is shocking to anyone who has heard me speak or teach, but I stick pretty close to the vest in social situations. My social anxieties also make marital social events difficult because my husband has a stamp a his forehead that says, "Talk to me, I want to know."

Last night after a really long day and a last minute change of plans we joined a group of Kevin's old friends and their kids for a gathering. I was doing okay after the park. Lots of space, lots of attention on the kids, I could remain fairly annonymous. Then my worst nightmare, the park closed at sunset and the gathering moved to my sister-in-law's home.

4 little boys and 2 little girls. Adults drinking - which I have NO problem with (in fact a beer may have curbed my anxiety a bit), but I choose not to drink on nights before I work because even small amounts of alcohol and I don't function pleasantly in the morning. Mosquitos biting. No air-conditioning. It took all of 20 minutes for my blood pressure to rise and my breath to quicken. As the noise level grew, I bit my lip harder to keep from bolting out the front door to catch my breath. I didn't want to lose it or heaven forbid, cry. I sat quietly in the recliner refereeing my children and watching the "germils" take turns running on their wheel. I know that I was being anti-social, but it was better than having a complete emotional breakdown.

Eventually the night ended and we packed two sweaty little kids in the car for a fairly quiet ride home. I was exhausted. Completely. I didn't even want to talk to my husband and it wasn't because I was angry.

The pall still hangs over me this morning. I had to prepare a pot of soup for a staff lunch and in the hubub of the evening had not gotten to the grocery store for the last minute ingredients. I shot out the door when the sitter arrived to stop at the "neighborhood market" on my way to work in a neighborhood that quite frankly, puts me on guard.

It took me 10 minutes to wade past all the crap aisles to find beans and then I had to weave into a hidden corner of the store to find fresh produce. I settled for collard greens because this is not the kind of place that you're apt to find kale. May I add, this place is a nutritional nightmare for the people in this neighborhood.

I got back in my car and continued down to the next intersection where a middle-aged man was sitting on a decrepit concrete barrier drinking a beer - at 8 in the morning. Yet one more block down I see a twenty-something woman, about 8 months pregnant, waiting for the bus - smoking.

Now, I can't judge the God-given lives of these people. I don't know their circumstances, but is this what our society has come to as a collective whole. And, while I will not down play my own anxiety issues or my experience, I sure have a new perspective from which to look at it from.

It made me go back and read my own recent post at Catholic Mothers Online. Even if I can't turn the frown upside down, what am I going to do today to make my life less about me and more about bettering the world around me?

16 August, 2012

The Man and the Airplane

A few weeks back John Ross had his first dentist appointment. In preparation for his little boy anxiety (couldn't he have just gotten my eyes???), I scheduled the appointment first thing in the morning. I stuffed granola bars down their throats on the way to the office since an 8:00 appointment didn't allow much time for their leisurely breakfasts.

Ultimately, the appointment went well. They looked at his teeth and even cleaned them ("Mama, I don't like that sandy stuff..."). He didn't even gag once! (That trait could be attributed to me, but I'm going to pin it on his daddy). So, I decided to make up their morning nutritional balance with a special treat: McDonalds!

I rail against the fast-food mentality of our culture, but there is just nothing like a McSchmuffin for a special treat. However, anyone who has been to a typical McDonalds in the morning knows the scene: business people, moms and college students in the drive-thru, the senior and shift-work crowd in the dining room.

So, I march in there with my two under 3, order a breakfast platter with milk and a McSchmuffin and procede to herd them into a booth. After a few squabbles over the shared milk, we settled into a nice meal. We often talk about where our food comes from and this morning was no different. They were for the most part well-behaved little friends.

As I began to tidy our trash and older gentleman walked up to the table. He begins with the phrase any mom dreads, "I have something for you if your mama says it's okay."

What??? Admittedly, my mama-radar raised to level orange. "We're in a public place," I think to myself, "he can't really do anything."

The older man goes on to pull a little Packer's airplane toy out of his pocket and hands it to John Ross. It pulls back and rolls foward and at some point had light and sound capabilities that long ago lost their battery power.

He then turns to me and says in a gruff voice, "I'm single and I eat out a lot. There is nothing harder to tolerate than a bunch of little kids screaming and yelling and running around. So, when I am out and about I pick up little toys and things to give to kids I seeing behaving in restaurants."

Then he walks away. I proceded to explain to John Ross that he had gotten the toy because he had been so polite and quiet and that man was able to eat his breakfast pleasantly.

I'm not sure how I felt about the older gentleman's fairly crumudgeon intentions because his intolerance is a bit unfriendly to families, but it was a wonderful enforcement of the public behavior lessons we've been working on. Some things seem to be so much more effective coming from a stranger.

Moreover, I can't tell you how affirmed I was as a parent. What a blessing it was for someone of that generation to compliment the result of my parenting efforts instead of criticize. That man did more than he'll probably ever realize and for that I am grateful God sent him to us.

06 August, 2012

The Way My Mother Made Me

I was blessed to have a wonderfully deep conversation about mothers with some dear women recently. The sun warmed our bodies, the food nourished our stomachs, and a cool August breeze signaled to all of us a time of change in our lives.

Over delightfully cold glasses of lemonade we shared about work, ministry and motherhood. As the last few bites were taken the conversation turned to the topic of our mothers.

While I hold very dear the insights, fears, joys, and questions that were raised during this unique conversation and would never betray the trust of my two dearest friends, I will say this and I think it runs true for all women: we are each the way our mothers made us. We live with and learn from their choices, their manners, and yes, even their thighs. We carry their absence and presence with us. We hear their voices, their lessons, and their theologies within just about every moment. Sometimes the lessons are found in their failings or our missing wants and desires, and sometimes they are in the questions that remain unanswered. Nevertheless, they make us who we are.

I'm not going to make that something more than it is. Birth mothers, foster mothers, Godmothers, grandmothers, Virgin Mothers, let it find you where you are and let it speak to you.

Grateful for the beautiful women who blessed me so deeply today with their great honesty and trust, I treated my daughter to her very first tea and biscuits before bed tonight. I relished every blessed motherly moment. As we laughed and giggled and talked about all the good things God makes for us, I prayed somewhere in the hidden realms of my soul that someday the smell of chamomille and lavender will find my Clara remembering her own mommy-dearest, worts and all.