Yesterday, I had an epiphany – a revelation. You know, one of those moments when everything becomes clear. The Catalyst? – My Grocery List.
Now, I recognize that having an epiphany over a grocery list is not, well, the norm. But, in the moment I looked at my list that day while standing in front of the grocery store, I happened to be thinking about my son’s struggle at school with the neatness of his work. And, when I looked down at my confusing, messy, helter-skelter list, it suddenly dawned on me – Genetics can be so very cruel.
The thought instantly led me to begin a mental check list through all the ways in which Mother Nature had potentially failed my sons.
I thought about:
Every time one of my sons comes home, yet again, lacking the needed details that were clearly discussed but not absorbed by him, and I can hear my successive childhood “I don’t know”s to my Mom in her quest to discover times, details or specifics.
Every time my son struggles with spelling and I have to run for the spelling dictionary I was sent off to college with oh so many years ago.
Every time one of them finds themselves separated from classmates due to excessive in-class socializing and I get a mental flashback of the solitary desk in the corner where I spent a good part of the 6th grade.
Every time their obsessive love for a particular activity keeps me on permanent chauffer status and I realize how well and for how long my own Mom had to wear that hat.
And as all of these things quickly ran through my mind, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of…Thankfulness.
Yes, thankfulness. Because, as I stood there, poised at the automatic glass doors, grinning like a dork in front of the Boy Scouts and the all too premature ringing Santa, I felt:
Thankful for all the imperfections I have shared with them.
Thankful for all the struggles I get to go through with them.
Thankful that no-one else in the world is quite like them.
Thankful because the proof that they are part of me is never so apparent as in our shared imperfections.
Thankful that they are wonderfully, beautifully, magnificently, perfect…in every single way.
Sometimes I surprise myself – learning to snowboard when I freeze at 60 degrees, embracing co-habitation with the black snakes that occupy my yard, attempting parenthood (thank goodness for that therapy fund). Well, my most recent questionable endeavor came in the form of a job.
A few months ago a call came with the request to do a show at a local professional theatre. And when I say ‘do’ a show, I do not mean as an actor on the stage – where I have spent many a moment throughout the years – but as a dresser in the thick of the behind-the-scenes action.
I reasoned, how hard could it be? I mean, I have dressed myself successfully for many years (although those severely torn Levi’s – self-patched with leopard print and worn frequently in the 90’s, may not qualify); And, I dressed my boys (hopefully they were not able to read the tags on the accidently purchased girls wear). So, without any concern for the poor, unwitting victims actors, my desire for a new experience convinced me to say “Yes!”
However, when the time arrived, I discovered that dressing a real live, full grown actor through what was to be 20+ quick changes per show, in the dark, backstage, during near silence onstage, turned out to be more daunting than anticipated. I will admit – I made mistakes. And, I felt bad. More than once, I decided I had kissed my end of the show ’tip’ goodbye along with possibly all or most of my paycheck. And I will admit I spent a few nights beating myself up over it.
Ok, maybe just one.
Because then, I remembered something. I remembered how dearly I love to laugh.
You see, as long as
- No limbs are lost (broken bones I’ve got covered!),
- Everyone is still breathing,
- No eyes are poked out…shot out…gouged out,
- And no natural disaster has ensued
I can handle the small stuff, like, I don’t know,
- Sending an actor out onstage with shoes on the wrong feet,
- Attempting several times to poke same actor in the eye with glasses,
- Dropping a few or say, several props on hard floor during complete onstage silence,
- Habitually refusing to remember one particular assigned job without constant reminders,
- Or, forgetting my start time on opening day and almost taking down a few pedestrians crossing a small town Main Street in my haste to get to the theatre.
The best part is, once I remember I can handle the small stuff, I find I can laugh at them as well; which is like a gift and something of which I am very fond. The only thing better being when others laugh with you.
So, in closing, please accept my sincerest apologies:
To my Actor friends – who had to endure my fits of ineptness, thank you for letting me laugh at them and for (hopefully) laughing with me; and,
To the Pedestrians – who, I fear, will never look at the safety of crossing a small town Main Street with the same abandon again.
An intermingled ode to a favorite bedtime story my Grandma Ruth used to tell, some of my fondest ‘chick’ memories with my Mom, and loved children’s book author, Laura Numeroff of the If You Give a Moose a Muffin fame.
If you give a Chick a Shopping Trip, she will want to go right away.
She will want to go to the mall.
When she gets there, she will decide she needs to buy something.
She will want to go to her favorite department store.
At the department store, she will see a beautiful dress in the window. When she sees the beautiful dress, she will decide she needs beautiful shoes to go with it.
On her way to the register to buy the beautiful dress and the beautiful shoes to go with it, she will try all the perfume samples. She will probably smell funny.
Before she reaches the register, it is entirely possible she will see a beautiful coat to match the beautiful dress and beautiful shoes.
She will buy the beautiful dress, the beautiful shoes and the beautiful coat to match.
Shopping will make her hungry and she will want to go to lunch. When she gets to the café, she will order a Vanilla Coke.
Drinking the Vanilla Coke at the café will remind her of her Mom and all the shopping trips they have taken together. Thinking of her Mom will make her homesick and she will want to go home for a visit.
When she gets home, she will want to give her Mom a present. She will give her Mom the beautiful dress, the beautiful shoes and the beautiful coat to match. She will insist her Mom try them on right away.
Seeing her Mom in the beautiful dress, the beautiful shoes and the beautiful coat, will remind her of their shopping trips.
She will want to go on one right away. She will want her Mom to come.
When she and her Mom go on the shopping trip they will see a beautiful dress in the window.
And chances are, when they see the beautiful dress in the window, they will need beautiful shoes to go with it, and a beautiful coat to match.
Happy Birthday, Mom
Nothing happened today.
While getting ready for school…
H: “Mom, I had a dream last night that you and Dad had gained tons of weight.”
P: “No, honey that is what you call a nightmare.”
While running out the door for school and work…
K: “Uhh -Mom, why are you wearing two different black shoes?”
While making an afterschool snack…
K: “Mom, I discovered a new way to pull out loose teeth…blue Jolly Ranchers.” (K produces out of pocket blue Jolly Rancher encrusted tooth).
While doing math homework…
H: “Mom, what did the Zero say to the Eight? …. ‘Nice Belt’”.
While making dinner…
P: “Hey, guys, if you smell plastic melting in the kitchen, that’s because, well, it is.”
(peanut gallery comments ensue)
K: “If you smell the dinner burning, that’s because, well it is.”
H: “If you smell the house on fire, that’s because, well it is,”
While getting ready for bed…
K: “What do you think the Tooth Fairy will give me for my jolly rancher filled tooth?”
K: “Half the usual gold dollar?”
P: “A quarter to call the dentist.”
Today was a good day – maybe, the best day ever.
But then, there is always tomorrow.
Sometimes life is stranger than fiction. For example, why do aliens only abduct sanity-challenged recluse people? What are artificial bacon bits really made of? And, how does a born and bred California girl end up living in rural Missouri? Rural Missouri, mind you, where roads have letters instead of names, directions are given in reference to so-and-so’s house – whether they still live there or not – and…it snows!
Well, in my case, I was either crazy or in love, or both. Whatever the case, the predicament of surviving the winters became glaringly apparent upon the first snow; A feat which my California upbringing had just not prepared me for. Therefore, for those of you who have found or may find yourself in a similar fix, allow me to share 5 of my hard learned survival tips.
1. Be Prepared: If you are to survive in the harsh environment of cold, ice, and snow, you must have the proper tools. Following are, in my experience, the most important items.
- Cat Box Pooper Scooper – Oh, sure, you will be told that having an ice scraper is what you need to clear off your car windshield every morning. But, in my opinion, the everyday cat box pooper scooper makes much more sense to get the job done. It is always handy, never gets taken by other family members for use and well, has multiple functional purposes (need I elaborate?).
- Ugly Shoes – Trust me on this one. Those peep toe pumps will sing a good song, but when push comes to shove (or rather ice comes to driveway) those pretty shoes will leave you flat on your behind. The ugly shoes, however, will be your friend for life. They will keep you warm, be devoted to your happiness, and never let you go down looking like a flapping dodo (bird, that is).
- Hair Dryer – You would be surprised how often a good blast of hot air will come in handy for various frozen things and/or body parts.
- A Hammer – No real function, but it will make you feel like you belong – like one of the natives.
2. Be Wary: Never trust ice – it is the enemy and yes, it is out to get you. It will freeze your pipes as soon as you stop dripping them in order to head to the mall. It will freeze the Frappuccino you left in the car overnight. And, if you have a change of heart (i.e. panic attack) about driving on it, it will promptly and not very graciously, introduce you to the side road ditch.
3. Be Audacious: When that fluffy white stuff starts pouring out of the sky, get in your car and just go for it. And when I say, ‘go for it’, I mean, when your husband tells you to drive fast to get over snow drifts growing in the road – DO IT! Otherwise you might find yourself stuck on top of one of those pretty drifts like a whale bellied up on the beach (which is, fyi, not near as much fun as bellying up to the bar). And, it may take every relative and friend within a 20 mile radius to come and dig you off.
4. Be Mindful: As in all things, there are pitfalls to watch out for during the long winter season.
- Do NOT discover online shopping.
- Do NOT, under any circumstances, decide the inside of your house needs to be painted all colors of the rainbow. (You may not be fortunate for to spring to arrive moments before project commencement).
- Do NOT try to eat your weight in chocolate.
However, DO, have as many snowball fights as possible, roast marshmallows over a candle, and treat yourself to every ‘icure come spring.
5. Be Canny: Sooner or later you will be faced with a suspicious random occurrence that can only be experienced in the rural wilds of winter. Therefore, when you, for example, find a several foot long shed snake skin in a storage area behind your bed where said snake clearly hibernated the winter with you, don’t, whatever you do, tell your snakephobic husband.
Goodbye and Good luck.
Recently, I was given the privilege of showing my appreciation to the Men and Women serving our country overseas. This honor was made possible by my young cousin Megan as she compiled letters of thanks to send to her fiance marine, Jared, and his Brothers in Arms – spending the holidays far from home on a final tour in Afghanistan.
To recognize all on this day, Veterans of the past, present and future, I wanted to share my letter.
Dear Jared and Brothers,
My day today was typical, uneventful – routine even.
I woke up, took a shower, made breakfast, forgot to make lunches, sent my boys off to school, went to work, drove to the store, left my grocery bags in the car, watched my son ride his bike around the block, went to the post office and bank, helped with homework, took out trash, wished husband was taking out trash, drove kids to soccer practice, waited, talked on the phone, cooked dinner, watched the Cardinals get beat by the Rangers…again, read my book, prepared for the next day…
But, here’s the thing. Today was also the most extraordinary and amazing day ever. Today, I got to do all those things feeling safe, protected and free. Today, I got to enjoy all those mundane, wonderful things because;
There is nothing typical about your dedication to my protection.
There is nothing uneventful about the personal risk you take to secure my safety.
There is nothing routine about the distance you have to spend away from your loved ones so that I can watch my son freely ride his bike around the block.
Not even by a long shot.
So in these closing moments of my typical, uneventful – routine even day, let me say thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for every moment of your phenomenal day that enables me to rejoice in my typical day. It means more to me than you can ever know.
Come home soon.
Come home safe.
Come home proud.