Monthly Archives: May 2012

Happy Birthday …to me

There were no big plans – no should I or shouldn’t I – no official announcement – no message on Facebook.  But all of a sudden on Thursday afternoon, I decided.  I’m giving myself a birthday party.

And that’s what we did at Play Shoppe the very next morning.

With streamers hanging, pretend cakes  decorated by the children with colorful shaving cream “frosting”, glitter and other pretty things; a surprise present for all; a fun game of “someone stole your birthday cupcake” as we tried to guess who (not very hard with young children who willingly fess up); yummy cupcakes to eat, and a lovely chorus of voices singing Happy Birthday – it was definitely a party!

It was a most perfect celebration, I thought.

Sometimes spontaneity is what’s called for.  Unlike Eyore, I wasn’t worried about people forgetting my birthday or just ignoring it altogether and letting it pass unnoticed.  But the anticipation of young children to see what’s in a velvet box with a velvet bow on top can’t be matched – even if inside was simply birthday blow-outs for all.

Moments of spontaneity can create memories that last a lifetime.  I know a grandma who’s setting out with her 11-year-old grandson as soon as school is out, on a road trip out west.  Asked what their itinerary was, the answer – “whatever we feel like doing.  We’ll stop when we see something we want to do”.  Wow!  what a forever- bonding experience that trip will be, and I wager several moments of spontaneity thrown in.

As a child I remember lying in my upstairs bedroom along with my two sisters in their shared room.  It was a hot, humid summer evening about 9:00 pm.  and impossible to fall asleep.  We could hear our mom outside watering the plants with the hose.  Until – suddenly, she was at the bottom of the stairs, calling up to us “did we want to cool off by running through the sprinkler?”  “Did we what???”

My mom wasn’t known to be that spontaneous and this hot summer evening experience cooled us all off and filled our hearts with everlasting warm memories.

So keep an eye out for that right moment when you can decide – “what the heck!  Why not?”

It could be a lot of fun!

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You may…

Every once in a while, I think to check myself for using vocabulary that makes what  I get to do sound very tedious and not very desirable.  And the reason for that is my choice of words.

Instead of saying “I get to write my blog this weekend”, it comes out “I have to write my blog this weekend”.  “I have to go to a graduation party on Sunday.”  “We need to go to a family reunion next week.”

How about you?  Do you find yourself putting a bit of a negative spin on the things you are doing in your lives?

Do you have to take the kids to the pool or do you get to take the kids to the pool?  Is there a dance recital you need to go to or is there a dance recital you get to go to?

Words can really change attitudes and responses – our own and our children’s. One word can make a difference in our outlook and kids will notice the note of positive anticipation in our words and that can be very contagious.

I like this gem of a suggestion I found in the book Beyond the Rainbow Bridge.  When you are telling a child to do something, try using the 3-letter word, “may”.  Authors Barbara J. Patterson and Pamela Bradley refer to “may” as “a magic word, not authoritarian or permissive … it contains no question to answer or ignore.  In the word may is the quality of privilege”.

For instance, rather than asking a child to please put on their pajamas, coaxing and cajoling, try “You may put your pajamas on now”.

I love that expression – the quality of privilege.  When we pay attention to the way we express ourselves, the language we are choosing, it can make ourselves and others recognize and appreciate the privilege of what we get to do in our daily lives.

“I’m so glad I got to write this blog!”

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Mother’s Day 2012

Yesterday at a garage sale I met up with a family I know.  They were biking and the young daughter, Beatrice, was carrying with her a small, loved, rubber dolly which I admired.  She immediately took me to the bike trailer to show me that her dolly had a “helmet” too.  It was the top of a plastic egg that fit just perfectly on Dolly’s head.

I smiled to myself as I went on my way.  Playful, imaginative children coming up with their own original ideas – I love it!

But as the day progressed and I began to think ahead to Mother’s Day, I thought back to Beatrice, already caring for her baby – already being a mom who knows to make sure her “child” would be safe.

We start early watching, practicing, playing at being moms.  Even our sons learn much from us about being a mom.

I read a piece today in the New York Times by op-ed columnist, Frank Bruni.  His mom had passed away when he was 33 years old and he still experiences a void on this special day of commemorating mothers.

So, this year he wrote this testimonial to her.

“I was – I am – one of the four luckiest children I know, my siblings being the other three.  We had  a mother who held us in esteem and held us to account; told us we were magnificent and told us we were miserable; exhorted us to please her but found ways to forgive us when, all too frequently, we didn’t; and made certain that we knew she was there for us until, unimaginably, she wasn’t.”

I’m glad I was lucky enough to experience two Mother’s Day testimonies this year – a grown man’s loving memory and a little girl’s active play, imitating the gentle care she is receiving from her own mom.

So with a full heart, gratitude and love for my own mom, passed on but never forgotten, for the privilege of being a mom to our two children, and the good fortune to work with so many moms everyday,  I hope your Mother’s Day reflected all the love you share.

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Today found me growing increasingly frustrated with the space bar on my keyboard.  It was sticking – so all the words I was typing kept bunching up.

I tried to accept it, deal with it,  move on and just remember to bonk down harder every time on the space bar between each word I was typing.  But I realized something more significant was missing. That something else was the flow.

Space give you flow.  It’s hard to experience flow when everything is bunching up and you have to deliberately force the issue to keep things moving.

So all of this started me thinking about the significance of space in our daily lives.  Today’s world promotes a culture that is addicted to being busy.  There are so many demands on our personal time, that it can result in the same feeling as my bunched up letters caused me – frustration.  When we begin adding on too many extras into our lives – and our children’s lives – those extras are going to crowd up and ruin the “flow” – take up the spaces.

We need the spaces in our lives just as I needed the spaces between my words – for meaning, clarity and understanding.

There’s a story I heard a long time ago about a French author and 1947 winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, Andre Paul Guillaume Gide.  Gide was traveling through equatorial Africa with native guides.  After having had one speedy traveling day, he urged his guides to get moving early the next morning.  They looked at him and with firmness said: “Don’t hurry us.  We are waiting for our souls to catch up with us”.

I can really relate to that phrase – waiting for our souls to catch up.

Take stock of your days, your weeks.  Are you feeling burned out, frustrated, experiencing emotional mood swings?  Are your children having meltdowns, or sagging spirits?

Observe the times you crawl into bed with a satisfied sigh feeling all’s really well with your world.  I bet you had some space during that day, some flow.  I bet you swayed to the rhythm that you felt.

Sometimes we just need to pull back – slow down in order to create the space our family might need, wait for our souls to catch up.  Let phone calls go to messages, take a stay-at-home-day even if you are a stay-at-home-parent.  Don’t get dressed til noon, sit with your children and read every book you just brought home from the library, one after the other.  Fill the wading pool, sit in the wading pool,  have breakfast for dinner.

Find the time  – check your space bar!

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