Saturday, February 26, 2011

Are you a keeper?

I was at the market and saw a man wearing a t-shirt that said, “I’m a Keeper!” My first reaction was to look at his face to see if he was handsome enough to justify his wearing that shirt. He wasn’t. “So much for being a keeper,” I thought. When my cynicism wore off though, my thoughts turned to some less shallow things that would have made him a “keeper”. What qualities in a person would make him/her a keeper??

I looked at the people I love and enjoy being around and tried to identify the qualities that I value in them the most. Here are a few I’ve come up with:

1) Obedience. I thought of how my children behave and of their willingness to obey. It feels so wonderful when my children obey what I have asked of them even if they don’t like it or agree with me. I think of when I worked in a finance office and later as I ran a preschool. The employees I appreciated the most were those who did what they were asked to do without anyone nagging or reminding them.

2) Forgiveness. I am very quick to judge and slow to listen – hence the requirement for me to often ask forgiveness of others for hurt feelings or misunderstandings. How grateful I am to my family members, friends, and others I interact with who willingly and repeatedly forgive me when I do something rude or insensitive or just plain selfish.

3) Love. My husband is very good at overlooking the surface and looking to the heart of the matter or person. I ascribe this to the fact that he is a loving person. On days when I feel like road kill and look worse (hair hanging in my face, sweat trickling down my back and face, smears of peanut butter or garden dirt on my clothes, and my last ounce of patience used up hours earlier) he looks at me and says, “you look beautiful honey.” Or when I am confused and can’t seem to cut through to the heart of an issue to see a clear decision, my husband says simply, “you are very capable and no matter what you choose I am sure you can make it work.” Love breaks down so many barriers and clears your vision like nothing else can. How blessed I am.

4) Industriousness. There is nothing so sad as a person with so much potential wasting it in laziness or inactivity. I value those who can work and work hard. Through work we are blessed and receive far more than a physical reward for our work. We receive spiritual and emotional rewards that build self esteem and make us feel like we can conquer the world. Sad is the man who makes leisure his sole work - he can never take a vacation.

5) Kindness. I am grateful to know a few people in my life who would never consider saying anything bad about anyone else. They always look for the good in others. They can almost always be found thinking of others and doing things to help them. When there is an argument between others they are always there striving to keep the peace. When confronted with another person bent on being contentious, they refuse to take the bait and get upset, and many times will simply walk away. Kindness is a quality I need to develop in myself.

Now back to the guy with the t-shirt…. What makes you a keeper? What makes other around us keepers? I am going to try to look for the good in others around me and find out what makes each one of them a keeper.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Red eyes and white clouds

Recently my family had the distinct privilege of having pink eye. My first reaction was of course a negative one: “Great, now I get to deal with grumpy kids wiping at their eyes and spreading the germs everywhere so I will get pink eye too. I DON’T have time for pink eye!” Well needless to say, the most contagious disease in the world found its way into my eyes.

My sons and I suffered through our uncomfortable ordeal while my daughter and husband - somehow immune – experienced nothing! I felt like shouting “I hate you” at them as my eyes watered profusely and discharged enough gunk to supply millions of science classes with bacteria cultures….

While we were thus suffering, I remembered the saying that every cloud has a silver lining, and I’m like, “Yeah, sure. Not this one.” As I wipe my eyes and put on my sunglasses to keep the light from making my eyes hurt and from becoming a gushing, bacterial-infested waterfall. (Can you tell that I’m a germophobe?)

Little did I know that my silver lining was about to appear. To escape from the monotony and boredom in the house, I took a mattress out onto the front porch, donned my sunglasses and lay down to enjoy the breeze and the sound of the birds. MY little four year-old was already out on the front porch with his sunglasses on singing and talking to himself. When he saw me he came and lay down with me. As he cuddled in close he looked up at the clouds in the sky. His chubby little hands guided my face upward to see the clouds too. “Look Mommy I see a trotadaddle [crocodile]. Look, look, da trotadaddle is eating a big piggy.” As I lay with him I too began to see shapes, events and stories unfold to us in the clouds. We spent an hour watching the clouds and laughing and talking together.

Silver lining??? No, it was GOLDEN!!! Had I not had pink eye – I would have been rushing around too busy and caught up in my “important” things to stop and enjoy time with my son.

I thank my Heavenly Father for red eyes and white clouds!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Home Alone

Today was the first time in over 18 years that I have been home alone.

I feel to pause and savor the moment.

What will I do first? I think I will call all my friends and go out for breakfast with them. Or maybe I will spend the while day uninterrupted on the computer. Maybe read all the books I have started over the last few months but never had time to finish. Maybe do some exercise, clean the house the right way (since the kids could care less if they do it right or not), or even jump on my bed in celebration. I think I'll observe this day annually as my independence day!

Okay now that I have savored and dreamed let me reveal the truth.:

What did I do as soon as I got home from dropping off my babies (aged 7 & 4) at school? My babies who remind me daily that they are "NOT BABIES anymore! We are big and grown up boys, Mom." And I say to them "you will always be my babies even when you're old men." They laugh and roll their little brown eyes at their silly Mom. Anyway, I walk in the house after dropping them off and I sit down on the couch and ......... CRY. I cried harder than when I sent my oldest son off to school for the first time.

If I had my way I would keep all the kids home with me forever. I love spending time with them, talking and laughing with them, watching them learn something new, and laugh and play with each other. ( I will not miss the bickering though). I look back on my childhood and adolescence and think of my Mom and all she must have felt as she watched her children learn, grow, and eventually leave her. I am not ready for my kids to grow up. I feel like a little kid whose best friends have moved away.

My Dad once said that boys when they grow up leave and don't come home again, but girls - they leave and keep coming back. Maybe my Mom feels a little better than I do because she had a houseful of girls with a couple boys thrown in the mix. I have all boys. I miss them all already and they haven't even left yet.

I look at their baby pictures on the wall and say to them, "Why can't you just stay small a little longer? The world can be a scary place - just stay here with me - Okay?"

I repeat - I am not ready for my kids to grow up!!! My oldest will graduate from High school this year. Every time I think of that I want to cry all over again. He was the one I experimented all my parenting strategies on (and wound up throwing away all the parenting books). He taught me how to look at life with excitment, and wonder. He is still patiently teaching me everyday how to be a better mom, a better friend, and a better person.

I have watched him grow from a michevious little boy (that would put Dennis the Menace to shame) into a mature, responsible young man. I want to say to him the same thing I say to my little boys, "You will always be my baby even when you're an old man. I thank my Heavenly Father for the priviledge of being your mother."