Today was a definitely a good day, despite losing what felt like well more than the hour since I overslept. Everything was rather chill even though I knew I’d be packing up my first born to go on his eighth-grade trip to Washington, DC. I’m very excited for him and trying not to let my motherly anxiety possess my psyche. This will be the first time he’ll be completely out of my grasp, and staying with his grandparents doesn’t count, by the way. I just may need medication.
I’m fortunate that he’s going with a small group of students, teachers, and other parents that I’ve known for the few years he’s been at his school. This means that if anything happens to him, I know where they all live. Kidding! Mostly - you never know when it comes to mothers and their offspring. But, to stay on a more positive note, my son is armed with his phone and our telephone numbers.
I’m armed with a small handgun. . . I’m kidding. I’m still waiting for the concealed weapon license to get here.
Or am I?
All joking aside, I’m confident that because he attends a smaller school, that because the parents are all volunteers in some form or fashion, and that because I’ve gotten to know a majority of his classmates and their family, that he'll be in good hands. If you’ve ever volunteered to be a room mother/father, or perhaps attended a field trip or two, being a part of this charter school multiplies those opportunities to be involved by a thousand as it’s an everyday occurrence. You can’t help but get to know and love each of these kids as if they were your family. I guess in reality, they are.
And that, my friends, is why I will only need a light dosage of meds this week.
This summer’s social studies assignment for my fourth grader included reading a biography, or autobiography, of someone they want to represent in an American History Wax Museum. The idea is that the kids will dress like the person they read about and be able to tell their story as if it were their own life experience. Gigi and I both sat down and made a list of usual suspects like Abraham Lincoln, Ben Franklin, and naturally, Elvis. I realized that my daughter would only select someone she was already familiar with so I decided to take the opportunity to expand her knowledge considering our history lends itself to so much more than the popular few. I came up with the brilliant idea to make a list that only included women who made their mark in American history.Image: NASA
I first offered Abigail Adams who gave her husband support and advice that even he didn't know he needed - “Remember the ladies” letter comes to mind. I told her about Helen Keller and, of course, Anne Sullivan - favorites of mine when in elementary school. Helen for overcoming the odds of being blind and deaf to be an advocate for those with disabilities, and Anne for helping Helen realize that she could be said advocate. Both very admirable for using their traumatic childhood experiences to encourage others. I wrote down a few others who opened doors for women, such as Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, and as an English major, I selfishly chose Edith Wharton, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction (some of you may recall Age of Innocence, it's not just a movie).
I found it a bit of a struggle to make a soon to be nine-year-old understand the accomplishments of my choices. Or, at least understand enough for her to want to read more about these fabulous women to emulate them for her classmates. So what do we do when we need more ideas? We Google it. As a list of women filled the page I quickly scanned and knew immediately who would fascinate my Gigi to the very end, Sally Ride - the first American woman in space! It couldn't possibly get more exciting than that, could it?
My daughter hasn't quite realized that there was a time women couldn't do what they wanted, so this was a sort of awakening for her. We picked up Sally Ride: First American Woman in Space from the library and it’s been a learning experience for both of us. Did you know that Sally was also the youngest American to ever be in space? According to the biography we read, Sally never considered being a female as an obstacle because her parents led her to believe she could do anything and be anyone she wanted, so she did. This is exactly what I tell my own daughter.
This isn't to say it was easy for Sally to soar above the clouds a little over thirty years ago as she was one of six women chosen by NASA in those early days, but what an amazing bio to share with my daughter. Sally made it happen because she wanted it and worked hard to achieve her goals. That’s the way it’s supposed to happen, male or female, and I want that more for my daughter than I've ever wanted for myself. I want her to believe that being a girl doesn't decide her path, but her devotion to what she wants does.
When I read the line from the first chapter of the book, “This launching marks the first time in history that an American woman will fly in space,” I felt a bit emotional. In fact, I was surprised that I got a little choked up and I really can’t explain why. Maybe I feel gratitude toward Sally, or perhaps a bit of pride? I can only describe it as that same feeling that I feel when someone sings the Star-Spangled Banner, right when they get to the part where we “yet wave” and pause for a bit. I’m good until that line of the song and then . . . hot mess, every time.Image: NASA.gov
I may be a bit more enthusiastic about Sally Ride and her accomplishments than my daughter at this point, but she did interrupt with all sorts of questions and observations. Some being silly, like “Why would Sally like Superman best when Spiderman can shoot webs from his arm?” And, more importantly, “What does it mean when the Challenger only reached a force of 3 g’s? What’s a ‘g’?” In case you were wondering, a “g” is one earth gravity, the acceleration of the objects due to gravity on Earth. There’s more to it, but that’s a whole other blog.
Reassuringly, this means my ever-so-intelligent daughter was, at the very least, paying attention. Her inquisitiveness gives me hope that I’m doing my job right so far as she never seems to consider that being a girl is any reason to not be or do what she wants. I look forward to the day when my daughter decides what she wants to be when she grows up and rest assured that I will be there to cheer her on.
"Young girls need to see role models in whatever careers they may choose, just so they can picture themselves doing those jobs someday. You can’t be what you can’t see."
Just a bit more about Dr. Sally Ride
- Audio of the 1983 lift-off
- "Remembering Sally Ride, Space Pioneer"
Mashable.com - "10 Badass Quotes from Sally Ride"
Sally Ride Science - Founded by Sally Ride to educate, engage, and inspire students
Women@NASA - Honors Sally Ride
I’ve come to realize something about myself...I kind of like clutter. Not the hoarder type of clutter, but my-house-contains-a-family type. I promise, dear minimalist husband, this isn’t a ploy to get out of cleaning the house or purging unnecessary items. And, it isn’t that I don’t want to be organized, because I do. It just seems more appropriate that I refer to my method as organized chaos. I want all the things I love about my busy life scattered about the house in a cleverly structured fashion I've designed. This includes my never-too-many books spilling off every shelf, the kids many drawings hanging on any spot available, and my craft of the month supplies exactly where I left them. All the many bits-n-pieces of what makes our house our home.
This self-realization occurred as I perused the Home Décor boards of Pintrest the other night and found that although I appear fastidious in my selections, that isn’t what draws me to the photo. I may appreciate the color palette, the furniture design, an abundance of windows, and sometimes even just the layout of the room. Essentially, my pins all have elements of what I want in a home, but in reality, my favorites are those cluttered with all kinds of stuff. Isn’t that more realistic anyway? Well, it is for me at least. Items strewn about on the ottoman and stacks of papers on the counter? Absolutely normal.
My ideal desk, but with more books
I do have friends who not only prefer a spotless look, but actually achieve it. They have absolutely nothing at all on the coffee table that isn’t decorative or on their kitchen counters - I totally admire the dedication. And, I know deep down in places my husband would never mention after all these years for fear of impending death that he would prefer I be more like my OCD friends (again, I write that with sincere admiration). But, as I mentioned back in December, that's not me. Admittedly, I do aim for model-home perfection when I clean my house. However, when my kids arrive from school and the living room instantly reverts to cluster of backpacks, shoes, and notebook paper, all hope is thrown out the now finger-smudged window. I guess all I’m really doing is removing some dust and simply minimizing the mess with routine cleanings.
Perhaps this whole revelation is a defense mechanism to keep my sanity after having cleaned all day? Or, not ever wanting to clean all day? Perhaps I've somehow rationalized that despite carefully organizing every single aspect of my home it’s just not going to stay that way. I have three kids and unless I’m willing to devote my entire existence to following behind each them with reminders to put things away, it’s not going to happen. I really don’t need another thing added to my list of things to bark at them about and would like to keep it narrowed down to homework and basic hygiene. Besides, they know what drives me batty - a forgotten 450-piece Lego project in the middle of the floor, overly sharpened pencils left on the leather couch or an empty granola bar wrapper on the side table next to their juice box.
I don’t want to live in a house where my kids can’t feel relaxed or more importantly, where I can’t relax. Now my husband, if he hasn't relaxed by now, he never will. So, call it whatever you like when you have to kick three pairs of shoes out of the way to close the door, or when you have to stack the endless amount of drawings and classwork your kids bring home, or when you have to throw everything into a plastic container until you feel like going through it. You know what I'm calling it.
I know I'm not alone in all of this because of the many "pins" on Pintrest about how to organize your home, whether it be your pantry, hallway closet, underneath your sink or even your filing cabinet. In fact, if you do a search on Pintrest for "organization" you will find a hundreds of ideas that have been pinned well into the thousands. Kudos to those who are doers and not just dreamers - like me. Which one are you?
I really do want to start the new year off right, however I think it would be silly to create a list of resolutions when I really haven’t scratched everything off last year’s. Actually, I’m not even sure I made a list last year. The beginning of 2012 was quite busy as I was starting my second to last semester at UCF, which was my resolution after finishing high school - get a bachelor’s degree. But, I stopped working on that one twenty years ago. Clearly I like the no pressure approach to my resolutions.
Having three kids, a husband in law school and going to school full time myself last year left no room for any other tasks to check off on a list anyway. I have, however, received my degree now, so a new resolution may be in order. I’ve been reading other people’s lists to see if I might want to adopt a few, but they’re really everyday things I strive to do anyway. Be a better person. Try to lose a few pounds. Be more organized. Be more patient with things I cannot control. Shower daily - okay, I added this one, but amazingly enough this is a challenge sometimes with three kids, therefore list worthy.
Perhaps the only thing I should really be resolved to do this year is continue to not plan anything and just go with the flow. My life not going according to my mapped-out design is the one thing that has led to resentment, which is just bad - for anyone. Naturally, a more relaxed approach to life seems like a good resolution for 2013. I found this quote a while back by writer Joseph Campbell where he sums it up rather nicely:
We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
It's a work in progress applying that little nugget of advice whether its for my kids, my marriage or just little ol’ me. I’m not referring to little things like planning a kid’s birthday party, but I guess even then it still may apply. For example, let's say you bought a piñata and painstakingly filled with sugary treats, but it won’t break despite the repeated beatings from impatient children. What's a mom to do? Well, she resorts to using her son’s baseball bat, cursing under her breath and finally ripping it apart with her bare hands. Purely hypothetical of course, and probably not what Campbell meant, but you get my drift.
So, maybe it is the little things we plan as it’s all about adaptability, right? According to Merriam-Webster, adaptation is a modification that makes one more fit for existence under the conditions of their environment. If there’s anything I have become, it’s adaptable. I adapted to marriage. I adapted to each of my three children. I adapted to five different cities. I even adapted to a family franchise business with my in-laws (don’t try to wrap your head around that one). I think my biggest personal adaptation is generating enough courage to go back to college and sit amongst students who I could have easily given birth to. In-laws don’t sound so bad compared to that, I assure you.
And, to finish Campbell’s thought, there is one other thing I can do this year, follow my bliss. A bit odd
sounding, I know, but since I fancy quotes, here’s another fabulous thing he wrote:
If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.
I haven’t quite picked it apart to make it apply to my life, but I’m prepared to call it a resolution. It’s not always easy to smile when things don’t go my way and I very much despise that old adage that everything happens for a reason. Ugh, it’s the absolute worst thing to say to someone who is disappointed in love, life or simply when their ice cream falls off the cone onto their lap. Oh, then there’s the other one people use when they don’t know what to say, “It wasn’t meant to be.” Really? My ice cream wasn’t meant to be eaten? Did you apply your study of Socrates’ method to figure that one out? I must know.
But, I digress. I just really want to be one of those people with a stupid grin on my face when a plan goes awry. Not because I don’t care, but because I have found a way to be content with my life no matter what's thrown at me. I want laugh when I accidently add a cup of salt instead of sugar to the cookies I'm making for my daughter's class party. Actually, I want to cry, but then I want to laugh because it's no big deal...even though it is a big deal because I used the last of the chocolate chips...but I can just go buy more, right?
Oh, I almost forgot - Ha...ha...ha.
See, I'm making progress already. How are you doing with your resolutions?
I came to realize this morning that it isn’t an obsessive-compulsive-disorder that makes me start scouring a cookie sheet pan to remove the those pesky little grease spots along the edge. It isn’t an OCD that makes me start scrubbing around the edges of the kitchen faucet to remove the water stains. And, it's definitely not an OCD that interrupts those two tasks to clean the onion skins stuck to the bottom of the veggie drawer in the fridge. I owe it all to my passive-aggressive tendencies. I have ignored these tasks so long that they annoy me - immensely. In fact, it seems that’s how all of my cleaning chores begin, by sheer aggressive necessity.
According to a really smart doctor at the Mayo Clinic, the following are signs and symptoms of passive-aggressive behaviors. I’ve added my thoughts on how they apply to me:
Unfortunately, for insurance purposes, it isn’t considered a mental illness. Fortunately, you still need therapy which may include mood-altering meds. Oh, wait...did I get that backwards?
Either way, I’ve apparently got a whole bullet list of New Year’s resolutions at my fingertips. So, maybe I’ll give some thought on how to change my “pattern of indirectly expressing negative feelings instead of openly addressing them.” Or, maybe I can simply not do anything until it really bothers me.
My photo adventures in Florida