Coffee in a college town

wp-1464611943472.jpegI’m sitting  here at Java Jack’s in Nacogdoches, drinking a latte and eating a vegetarian croissant. I always seem to find a good coffee shop wherever I am. This one is in a geodesic dome, has an upstairs and a really good vibe. Perfect for this college town.

I’m here to help my youngest daughter move. We spent yesterday going in and out, up and down. For her senior year she’s moving from a first floor two bedroom to a studio, which just happens to be up a hill and second floor. And it was HOT! My fitbit tells me I walked nearly 7 miles, and I feel it. It was a good workout, though!

We got everything out yesterday, so this morning, before I head back to H-town, will be spent in unpacking and putting away what we can. Inside in the air conditioning, so it won’t be a sweaty endeavor like yesterday. However, her new place is packed with boxes, and some of this stuff has got to go!

She has a lot of clothes and things she’s collected from her favorite hobby, thrift store shopping. I’m hoping we find her silverware and some food staples today, among other necessities.

This is an eye-opening experience for her- to see how much stuff one can accumulate in a short time. Since she plans to move to another city in a year, she has a directive from MOM (me).  1) Stop shopping! 2) every day put one or two items (or more) in a box to give away. Easy for me to say, I know. She’ll thank me, next year.

 

Through the eyes of a two year old

I spent some time with my granddaughter yesterday. She is at that age where she has started to think about things, but is not yet able to express all her ideas verbally. She is stringing words together, but most of what she says is delightfully unintelligible.

“Swing and slide?” she asked in her sweet baby voice. So I put her in her stroller with her baby doll and pushed her the mile to the park, a green patch in the city. I wonder what she thinks, as the cars swoosh by, and we pass random people. She puts out her hand to touch some hedges along the side walk. We stop to smell some flowers.

She got restless the last quarter mile or so, asking me questions I couldn’t understand, talking and occasionally singing. I was glad she was happy, and I would point out things along the way, telling her we were almost there. Finally, we were at the green, first passing the dog park, which brought on a stream of dog like sounds from baby, then there we were at the playground. There were a lot of other kids and parents out on this warm February day.

wp-1456191076862.jpegI helped her out of the stroller and she headed for the swings. All but one were occupied, so I lifted her up into it, and “swing, swing” she laughed and sang as I pushed her. She gazed in fascination at the little girl in the swing next to her. “Baby!” she chortled with delight.

I spent the next 45 minutes following her around the small play area, guarding her as she climbed ladders meant for older children, laughing with her as she slid down the numerous slides, pleased that she cooperated with other children. Often she would stop and just stare at another child, and I wondered what she was thinking. Another little girl around her age was not having a good day, and as my little sweetie observed her crying, she said “baby cry? night-night?” Good observation, I thought!

I was wearing out before she did, and, anticipating the trek back, coerced her back into the stroller with the promise of a snack and taking her shoes off. Thus settled, we made the journey home, with her chatter and singing delighting me. She tweeted with the birds, and, pointing out a squirrel, “get nuts?” she queried.

Arriving home, I took off my sandals and sat on the tub to wash my dusty achy feet, which turned into a bath for her!  We splashed and laughed and it was absolutely delightful!

It wasn’t until I was leaving that she had a meltdown. She was trying to communicate something to do with a toy car that looks like “Sassa’s car” and it seemed to be important that she take the car outside but since she was naked Mama and I were saying no. So she threw the car and quietly crumpled and threw herself around a bit. This is when parenting is hard. What is it going on in the mind of a two year old that is inexpressible and therefore frustrating? What is a grownup to do?

Fortunately, her mother practices gentle parenting, and spoke to her gently but firmly. She offered to put a diaper on her and take her outside, which was satisfactory. There was still something on baby girl’s mind, but she was less upset, and was happy to see my car, for whatever reason, and we kissed and hugged and I went on my way.

All this to say, a two year old lives moment to moment, joy and frustration being dealt with as it comes, and we grownups have lessons to learn from it. If you have a two year old, remember this the next time they throw a tantrum. They don’t have the words to express themselves yet, so it’s not a punishable offense. And you? Take life a little less seriously, and enjoy each beautiful moment.

 

 

7 things I learned from raising 7 children

1. Love multiplies

2.Mistakes will be made

3. Spanking doesn’t work

4. Everyone is unique from birth

5. It’s better to minimize toys and “stuff”

6. Pick your battles

7. You have to let them go.

 

Here’s 7 more:

1. Some children bite, and won’t stop til they grow out of it no matter what you do.

2. Some children will do anything to conquer all obstacles

3. Some children are dreamers

4. Some children ask questions about everything

5. Some children are born comedians.

6. Some children are born with heartache.

7. All children are gifted.

image (16)My oldest is 36, my youngest just turned 20. And there are really 5 in between. While they were small, and my life was busy with their needs, I was often overwhelmed. Now that they are all grown, I look back on the years and they flew by. I am very grateful for each one, and for what I learned from having them in my life.

What have you learned from your children?

May your day be merry and bright

Peace on earth, good will towards all. Joy to the world! I am happy and grateful for the peace and joy that I have in my own small world. I pray for the peace and happiness of all beings.  I hope for an end to strife and prejudice everywhere.

Christmas treeI have started my 60th year of life on this earth, and plan for 60 more! I remember the wonderful Christmases of my childhood, always plentiful, without much thought of the rest of the world. Then  I think on the Christmases of my 20’s and 30’s, with many children, trying to teach them about giving, not just receiving. The Christmases of my 40’s and 50’s were more difficult, having to deal with divorce and teenagers, but still we lacked nothing. The last few years have seen another shift as my second marriage came to an end, my spiritual beliefs continue to evolve, the rest of my children left home, and I found myself in a new and wonderful relationship.

I treasure each of my children and my grandchild, and have hopes that we can all spend a Christmas together again. Over the years we have drifted away from that, finding other days of the year for reunions. I have even purposefully worked at my job on Christmas to avoid family reunions, partly due to my own sense of inadequacy. But that is behind me, as I have embraced forgiveness of both myself and others. I am hoping that the pendulum will swing back, and that we will again enjoy the magic of Christmas as a family.

In the meantime, I am happy for the near-to-Christmas celebration earlier this month, the travel to North Carolina and time with old friends on my birthday weekend, and a quiet Christmas Eve with my partner.

May the spirit of the Christmas season stay with us throughout the year.

 

Happy Father’s Day?

I’m seeing a lot of great tributes to fathers on social media. I am happy for everyone who has had that kind of relationship with their father. Every time I see one of those posts, I feel a twinge of sadness. My father, although a good man, was never that kind of father. We had a good life with money and great vacations, but no emotional closeness. Now, although he is 87 and failing in health, I rarely speak to him because of his choice of wife, the woman he married 5 months after my mother died 5 years ago. I’m not going to go into all the details, but if you are interested, you can read the letter I wrote to him (but didn’t send) here and here. His wife is a toxic person but my father has chosen to spend his life with her, rather than have close relationship with his offspring. C’est la vie.

Baby girl smelling giant roseIf you didn’t have a close relationship with your father, or had an abusive or not present father, today isn’t an easy day. I encourage you to write it out, if you haven’t already, and spend time with family or friends who are affirming and that you can share joy with. As for me, I will call my father and hope for the best. And I’m going to visit my sweet baby granddaughter, and smell flowers and play in puddles.