A Place to Laugh at Life…or Not!

Posts tagged ‘moms’

Farewell to July! (*sob*)

via Getty

via Getty

Farewell to July!

If ever a poem were written called “Farewell to July,” I haven’t yet heard it.  But I can pretty much guarantee the lyrics are written in the heart of every teacher and every mom and every student.  Because no matter how much you love learning, love structure, and love kids—this song is no rhapsody.

Are you tired of wet towels rumpled around the back door?  Tired of half-eaten popsicles and ant stings and really, really long car rides?  Flip flops that flip but don’t flop?  Setting the alarm for 4 AM so you can wake everyone up to catch the plane that will keep you strapped to your seat for 5 hours?  (And that’s what we call a vacation)

“Why is it,” I asked my daughter, “that when I move over the calendar for a glimpse of August, my adrenaline surges like it’s the 9th month of pregnancy?”  My whole summer to-do list shoots before my eyes like the booming bright fireworks I watched  3 weeks ago.  There’s that one last closet to organize, and that wilting flower bed that’s nowhere near the vision I thought it would be.  I haven’t yet lost those last ten pounds, sent those friendly cards in the mail, or returned that borrowed platter with chocolate chip cookies.

“Maybe,” said my daughter, who had her second baby 5 months ago and freshly remembers the near-panic nesting stage,  “you’re remembering how every school year you promise yourself you’re going to stay on top of things and about 3 weeks into it you realize you’ve lost every ounce of free time.”

“Yes,” was my reply.

That would be it exactly.

Now I’m not about to complain.  I’m not sad it’s over—I’m happy it happened!  Remember that spontaneous swim with all our clothes on, just because we didn’t want to bother changing?   And how hard we laughed when the grandkids exhaled into their loopy straws and bubbled their milk all over the table?  Remember the gas station dinners (a chili cheese dog and black licorice, mind you) that felt ridiculously indulgent?  Sunrise at the beach?  Horses in the meadow?  Fresh raspberry ice cream?  Midnight runs to Redbox?

Why, I even talked my husband into getting a pedicure with me!  Sans the polish.

So I braved Wal-Mart today, because pencil boxes were a dollar each and I had to buy 25 of them.  And you know what?  Those Back To School banners weren’t as awful as I thought they’d be!  I lived, I breathed, I was joyfully consumed in my summer vacation. So what?  No regrets!

And when school begins in another few weeks, I will immerse myself just as richly as I did in June and July.  Because life is good, no matter the season.  And everything brings with it a unique sense of adventure.

Now, I’ve just got to find that last little bit of entertainment on my summer bucket list—I’m just craving a ride on a roller coaster!

Abundance

It's Simple!

It’s Simple!

Abundance

It’s Simple!

  • A few years ago, our family moved from a small town to a big city.  While buying one house, living in another house, and trying to sell a third house, life got a little grim.  Cashflow was scarce, and spontaneous spending had to be cut out completely.  We all knew it was temporary, but life still felt a little dreary. The days no longer carried the same lighthearted lilt they used to.

It was like a starvation diet.

And as much as we grownups hate that “tight budget” feeling, convincing our kids to stop begging for stuff is so lovely, isn’t it?  You’re in some public place, your six-year-old spots the very item he simply must have for survival, you say no, he screams, fellow customers pull out their phones, you stick the item in your cart, wave to the onlookers, then slip the prize back onto some random shelf when your kid’s distracted.

Sometimes my Firm Face is  glad  we can’t afford it. That’s when I agree with my offspring that I am indeed the meanest mother in the world. Other times my Firm Face kind of melts, and my heart too, because I’d really like to buy That Thing for them.  We all know the whole Needs vs Wants lesson.  But when you feel like you’re constantly denying yourself, it’s hard to Just Say No every day, to everyone.

One particularly bleak Saturday, I realized what was happening to us.  We’d been so excited to make this move and have these changes!  We were closing in on purchasing exactly the house we wanted!  But we were starting to let that old “Scarcity Mentality” seep in.  It brings out the worst in people.  So, I figured, what’s the opposite of scarcity?

Abundance!

Here’s what I did.  I sat down next to my 12-year-old daughter and asked, “What does abundance look like to you?”

“Huh?

“I mean…if you could have whatever you wanted…what would your bedroom look like?  Your closet?  Our family room?  Dinner time?  Saturday afternoons?”

I took time to ask each family member, when no one else was listening.  Opening up our minds to possibilities really cheered us up!

We had some laughs and shared some thoughts.  We got to know each others’ preferences in some startling ways.  But even better than that, with our imaginations conjuring up all sorts of richness, we discovered that many of our wishes were not monetary at all!  We could do  these things, or make a plan to get them started.  We even came up with strategies for a few delightful surprises!

Here’s what The Abundant Life looks like for our family:

A checker tournament with Dad     Housekeeper

A framed mirror in the hallway   Red high heels

Frequent walks to the ice cream store      Aquarium

Basketful of apples         Long drives up the mountain

Fresh flowers on the table              Wrought iron fence

A tablet for everyone        Softer bedsheets

More pillows on the bed     Fountain in the front yard

Valet parking when it’s available          Popcorn machine

Popsicles in the freezer       Gymnastics lessons        Palm trees

Theater room         Secret compartments       A tree house

Artist easel with canvas         Cookie jar never empty

Individual cereal boxes with everyone’s favorite        Drum set

Books by the fireplace         Family water balloon fight

Scented candles          New games for Xbox      Cozy socks

This idea worked out great for us.  The grouchies were gone!  We had new fun things to focus on.  And you’d be surprised at how many of them really did happen!  Ask your family what Abundance is for them. It may be simpler than you think!

RELAX, MAMA!

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Pool’s Ready!
School in Session

        The moment has come! My husband, The Pool Guy, who devotes himself (almost) entirely to having a happy wife, has consumed enormous amounts of hours and  $$ to de-winterizing our backyard swimming pool! (Since “winterize” is a real word, it’s a pity I can’t say “summerize.” But that gets a little complicated. De-winterize will have to do.)
Of course, it would be nice if pool care were truly “finished,” but all who own pools know that sort of fun in the sun has only begun. (Take note, it rhymes) But, no worries for me! It’s his job to clean the pool. Me, I do ….pretty much everything else.

But!

As I look out over the fresh light blue, sparkling water that awaits my tired body, I’m thinking how nice it will be when I can actually dive in at any time of the day. In about 3 weeks. I think I’ll call it Anticipatory Set.
I’m a school teacher, life coach, writer, mother, and a lover of life. As the big Last Day of School rapidly approaches, I confess I found familiarity with Jen Hatmaker, the author of one of the funniest posts I have ever read. Located in Huffingtonpost.com, the article is entitled  “Worst End of School Year Mom Ever.”

“We are limping, limping across the finish line, folks.”  Hilarious.

The author describes her conscientious mommy efforts back in September, and the grave contrast in the middle of May. She’s listening to her emergent reader offspring sound out w-o-r-d-s for the 688 millionth time. For 9 months she’s been packing lunches, making costumes, checking homework, reading school correspondence. And now she’s only doing it…sorta. She’s pooped!
Like anyone–moms, dads, principals, bus drivers, school teachers, crossing guards–we’re pooped, too!  Heck, the students are pooped!  It’s that warm spring sunshine pouring into our windows, triggering happy chaos in our heads. It’s not that we don’t adore our children, our students, our jobs.  The World has trained us to start stocking up on beach towels right about now. I mean, when that ridiculous Ice-Cream-Man music sallies up and down the lane, don’t your kids start digging into the sofa cushions looking for quarters?  It’s like autoplay.

That’s why I was more than a little disturbed that someone could even THINK to make a negative comment at the end of Jen’s article. “All children are valuable,” said the commentor, “and their education matters right up to the end, whether or not their mother is tired.” Basically, she was calling out the author for laughing at herself, for making light of the fact that sending five children off to school on the 167th day of the year has officially been declared Overwhelming.
I felt sad for that mom. The mom that saw no humor in that. I thought, she probably bakes homemade Ding Dongs just so she can slip a little kale in there.

I began to envision that Mama obsessively-compulsively-disorderly writing out a chart scheduling her children’s summer days. Of course she’s right!  Not only is every child valuable, but every day is valuable!  Is school-attendance-with-shipshape-parents the only way kids can learn?

Something inside me wanted to beckon that lady’s inner child.

If you’re a mom (or dad) who frets about what living things might be growing inside your child’s backpack, take heart! Education does not end on the 180th day of school!  Every day is a learning day!   Bare-feet-in-the-grass, sleeping bags, cloud shapes, lemondade stands, caterpillars, mud pies, rain dances, treehouses, tide pools…  Maybe even a legendary road trip or two!  As your children watch you embrace the richness of their world, your spontaneity and adaptability will be forever imprinted.  Breathe deeply, Mama,and relax!  The end of the school year is a terrific time to anticipate all the other  ways to learn.  Your child’s mind is swimming with ideas.

Which reminds me…