Monday, April 30, 2007

Saturday morning I went to Bellingrath Gardens, a beautiful place to visit in the spring. My friend Jen had invited me to help her out with one of her Girl Scout programs, and I was excited to be a part of it. The theme revolved around the book The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, which is one of my all time favorite reads. I read it over and over as a child and I keep revisiting it as an adult because of its wonderful characters and themes of regeneration and redemption. Plus I love gardens and growing things.

Jen's program started with a discussion of the book, then a tour of the gardens with a scavenger hunt, lunch, writing haikus, and creating tussie mussies. It was really a well-put-together event, and I enjoyed seeing Jen in action. I hear alot about her programs but I've never actually been to one. Jen is really amazing in her organization, planning and execution of these events. She is really gifted, and I was very impressed! The gardens were wonderful, and it was fun to see the little girls enjoying the different flowers, fountains and all the winding trails as they walked about.

Here are my haikus:

The water is clear

See the fish swimming around

Blue green gray fins shine


Green is the great lawn

Bordered by tall blue foxgloves

Bees hover weightless


Mermaid in the sun

Cascading water droplets

Will you make a wish?

Bellingrath Gardens

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Somedays I am just frustrated. I feel thwarted in most of my pursuits. Some days I just want to do something that I want to do. Today I want to work in my yard. It needs a lot of work and I've been itching to do it, but Mac rarely naps long enough to get it done, and I doubt I could get it done with him out there with me. So these days of frustration build up and then I end up in a full scale pity party.

Right now Ruthie is lying in her bed saying "paint my toes, mommy," and Mac is working up to a full scale wail.

Now Mac is asleep and Ruthie is wailing. She has started fighting naptime. This is not a good development.

Yesterday I went grocery shopping and usually when I go into a store people admire or come see Mac and comment on how cute he is or something along those lines. Yesterday this sweet old couple, probably in their 80s came to see him and ended up telling me how they had three sons who died from various causes. It was sort of awkward, and very sad, and they were saying to enjoy the children while I have them. I mean, what do you say to people? I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Wow. They were really a sweet couple, and I took what they said to heart. So then TODAY I'm at Lowe's buying a few plants and this lady in her 50s says, "Look, Mom, (to her mom) a baby boy." Then she turned to me and said, "I lost my grandson three days ago." She proceeded to tell me how he had fallen into the pool when no one was around, and basically drowned. This may sound horrible, but I was annoyed. I am sorry for her pain, which I'm sure is consuming, but I just don't think you tell complete strangers things like that. What a horrible story to tell a complete stranger with two children(unless it is meant as a warning to watch out for pools). It is an unthinkable tragedy, and I'm not sure what she wanted me to say. So two days in a row I stood there, sort of dumbfounded, saying I'm sorry, I'm sorry and trying to get away. I am not going anywhere tomorrow.

But I love my son and my daughter and I hold them close. I hate to draw a cheesy lesson from these morbid moments, but maybe that's why they happened. I don't know.

I think people these days have no sense of propriety. Everything is revealed; for example, I was sitting in my pediatrician's waiting room one day, and a lady came in with her little two year old girl. She saw someone she knew and here's the gist of their conversation (names have been changed to protect the innocent):

Mom #1: Hi So-and-so! How are you?
So-and-so: Hi, what're you here for?
M: Little Mary has a lesion on her butt and it just won't go away!
S: No kidding? Do they know what's causing it?
M: They think it's a staph infection. It's been going around. What's wrong with little Johnny?
S: Oh, just an in-grown toe nail.
Continue small-talk.

I was directly in between the two women, and I was really surprised at their lack of discretion in revealing their children's health issues. Seems like they could have waited to discuss it when Mom#1 sat down beside So-and-so, on the "well" side of the waiting room. I think our world of "reality shows" and news shows revealing everything about everybody has fostered the creation of a society of people who have no tact and no shame. On the other hand, I know some people are too closed-off, and invulnerable, building walls to keep other people out. But some things need to be handled gracefully. The lady at Lowe's showed no emotion, it just seemed like she wanted attention or some sort of sympathy from me, someone who doesn't even know her name. It was not as if she was crying out for real help, but merely sharing a sensational, shocking story in order to satisfy some sort of pain that maybe she doesn't know how to deal with. By doing so, she created an awkward situation and cast a dark cloud on someone's day.

Now Mac is crying and Ruthie has given up and is resting. Oh the drama of it all.

Now I'm holding Mac and I suppose I won't get my plants planted today. That's ok. And Mac just pooped on me. That's ok too.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ruthie loved seeing her dancing rockstar mommy so much that we made her one too!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Friday, April 13, 2007

blah blah blah yackety shmackety

I guess I can say the reason I haven't written for a while is that I've been a single parent for two weeks. Jay has been up at Camp LeJeune for basic combat training. I've only gotten brief snippets of what the heck that actually means based on our brief phone calls, but I think it was all worth it because he got to fire a grenade launcher. He is flying back today and I am very glad.

I stayed home the first week he was gone, determined to tough it out and test my self with the thought that there's a good chance he will be deployed in the next few years, for six months or more at a time. My week went much better than I thought it would, partly because we stayed busy, and kept to a pretty tight schedule. I even got to watch one of my favorite movies, "Wives and Daughters" which is several hours long. I was definitely exhausted by the end of each day, and longing for adult conversation. My parents came for Easter weekend, just as Mac and Ruthie were coming down with colds. I don't know what it is about them getting sick when Jay is gone, but it seems to be a trend. So we went to our church's egg hunt, and Ruthie just wasn't feeling well. Her favorite things were the pink-frosted cookie she got and the tiny bottle of water that she could drink out of all by herself.

This brings me to some of my thoughts on parenting. Sometimes I do things with Ruthie because I think she will have lots of fun, and when she appears to not be having fun(or not having fun in the way I thought she should or would) I get very frustrated and I want to shake her (not dangerously) and say, "would you have fun because you are a little kid and this should be totally fun for you! What's your problem?" And I realize I should add, "and I would be fulfilled as a parent when you act as I think you should and be the perfect little daughter frolicking excitedly around the egg hunt, getting as many eggs as you can and looking so cute so I can get a good picture." It is crazy to me that I feel this way and get so intent on having these "happy" moments. I am a generally laid back person, and I never wanted to be the mom who forces her kid to do things just for her own gratification or because of some sort of control issue. If I don't get the reaction I want, I need to let it go and say, ok, sit and enjoy your bottled water. Delight in what you will, it is still precious two-year old delight, even if it is not so picture perfect. Forget the eggs. She is only just two for crying out loud. (And she was not feeling well.) So I did get over it and let her sit and happily chug her little Nemo bottled water, while I got some cute pictures which I will post when I get home.

Ruthie's trend is toward introversion and I don't want to force her to be something she's not. I also don't want to label her at this young age and use it as an excuse or plant the seed in her mind that this is what she is and always will be. I was a very shy child, but really turned around as I grew and became very outgoing. And I'm not saying being an introvert is bad, by any means. I just want her to be free to be herself, yet I want to challenge her and shape her carefully, without crushing who she is. I'm glad my feelings at the egg hunt bothered me and made me think about my motives and figure out what was behind my frustration. Do I do things for her enjoyment or for my own? Is my fulfillment contingent upon her meeting my expectations? Does she know that she is free to enjoy things in her own way? And why do I get so hung up on getting a good picture? (This could be a whole-nother post for another day.)Am I trying to create her after my own image? Thinking is a good thing. Over-analyzing isn't usually a problem for me.

Yesterday we took Ruthie and Mac to the Gulfarium just outside of Fort Walton Beach, FL. It was a beautiful, no, glorious day on the Gulf Coast and my brother and mom took the day off to take our families to see the dolphins. I was trying to not have expectations for Ruthie's reaction, and it was so sweet to see her eyes light up as the dolphins swam past us in their underwater tank at the windows for viewing them up close. She was so excited, and said "hi dolphins!" and laughed as they came back around. She loved every bit of it, the stingrays and sharks, the loggerhead turtles and sea lions and penguins too. I loved seeing her experience and enjoy these creatures and I think that's what it's all about.

Now I'm going to go outside and enjoy our San Diego weather.