Doing my part to disrupt the space-time continuum.

Posts tagged ‘mothering’

An Old Backpack Won’t Change The World

But it MIGHT change a cold night.

On nights like tonight, when the weather is ugly to everyone (even babies and puppies), I think about homeless people. Can’t help it. Even in my deliberate attempt to self-medicate through a selfish act of indulgence (a hot bath) and self-serving wastefulness (extra bath salts), I fail to numb the sadness I feel when I picture some runaway sitting alone under a bridge in the cold.

While I’m busy attending to my routine of personal hygiene, taking my hot baths and toothbrush for granted and wondering if my daily rinse with hydrogen peroxide and water is going to blow my head up, there’s someone at that moment who’d give anything for a toothbrush. They might even risk having their head blown up if it meant a fresh, minty mouth. I probably would.

All this contemplation has reminded me of something that happened one winter almost a decade ago.

Every week, my 12-year-old daughter and I made a trip into Atlanta for an appointment with her doctor. On one trip, we saw a homeless guy standing on the off-ramp of I-85 with a sign that said NEED FOOD. My daughter wondered out loud,”How does he stay warm? Or brush his teeth? Or keep from stinking?”

“He doesn’t,” was all I could say. How do you explain to your kid that there are over 20,000 people in your city alone that have no place to call home? That they wash in gas station bathrooms, wear filthy clothes and eat from trashcans? What’s the word homeless mean to a kid like mine? What’s it mean to ME?

The next week, we saw another guy at that same exit with a similar sign. It was even colder and the sky threatened to rain.  From that moment, it was as if all those invisible homeless folks suddenly became visible, popping out of every corner as we made our way past the usual landmarks. Kinda like when you buy a new car and then you start noticing that kind of car everywhere. Only awful and overwhelming and without the new car smell.

Once you see them – you see them. And they can’t be erased. Especially the shadows you take to bed with you at night. Theirs are the shadows that don’t get lost in the dark. Not even when you pull your heavy comforter over your head. They aren’t to be forgotten, either.

My daughter certainly didn’t forget. Two days later she bopped into my bedroom with three old backpacks over her shoulder and announced, “Operation Backpack.”

“Huh?”

“Operation Backpack!” she repeated.

Then she told me her plan to collect old backpacks and fill each one with a bar of soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a bottle of water, socks, gloves … stuff like that. “Then,” she said, “we’ll keep the backpacks in the car for our weekly trips into town. Next time we see someone at the exit or when we stop at a stop sign, we’ll hand them a backpack out the window!”

I was speechless. Honored. Awake. Aware.

We spent the remainder of that winter implementing Operation Backpack and you know what? It didn’t make a damned difference  to the thousands of homeless people in Atlanta or to ANY people in Atlanta for that matter …

Except to seven.

Two of those seven were me and my daughter.

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A Sunday Night Rant About Leggings

I did NOT brave the perils of Black Friday, but I did venture out into Crazy Shopping Land ever-so-gingerly on Saturday. It was disturbing.

In spite of the title, I do love Leggings. They rock. You put on a long shirt or sweater, slip on a pair of Leggings and some cool, hot, sexy boots or shoes and by golly, 48 looks GREAT and the world rotates more smoothly just so you can walk it without falling on your pushing-50 fat ass.

But when that sweater or shirt does NOT cover the bum that’s stuffed in tight Leggings, you catapult yourself and your Leggings into a world where Leggings become ASSINGS.

Leggings are called Leggings for a reason. They are intended to show ONLY your legs as opposed to the butt cheeks. I’d bet my 3rd child and every ounce of that left-over turkey rotting in my fridge that the designer of Leggings said to herself upon the day of the Leggings conception, “Hey. I shall create this tight, clingy, flesh-hugging leg wear for people who want to COVER the derriere with camouflaging outer wear. Rather than accentuate the butt-crack, flabby fanny flesh or sagging, flailing ass blobs – my creation will HIDE those great Continental Divides.” That’s what she said. She did. I just know it.

LEGGINGS ... not ASSINGS!!

While out shopping Saturday, I saw no less that 6 women wearing Assings where Leggings should have been! And I was only out there in the wild jungle of shopping hell for 1 hour and 46 minutes! And NO … I was NOT at Walmart where the Seniors at the entrance pass out Assings and request patrons to wear them while shopping.

I was not happy. Not happy at all.

Now look at what Assings has made me do …  I’m forced to drink heavily. See? I told you this was “Serious Stuff”.

photo by fliker’s kiwinky

Rose-Colored Glasses, Crocs and a Big, Green Booger

My 3 kids amaze me.

Each is unique, smart and beautiful. Of course, I’m the materfamilias, so it’s not like you’re gonna hear me say, “My kids suck! They’re gross! Ew!” Lucky for me, they don’t suck and they aren’t gross so when I blather on and on about the wonders of my kids, all you can really do is just sit there and look pretty.

2 of our 3 kids have jumped the Mother Ship and are now navigating the wonders of the world on their own. I no longer get to screw up their lives on a day-to-day basis … only intermittently and even then, my efforts aren’t taken as seriously as they once were. Damn kids.

Me in my Rose Colored Glasses

When it comes to how I view my offspring, I am quite guilty of donning the proverbial rose-colored glasses. But for me, it’s not that I don’t SEE the flaws. Oh, I see them. Like a big green booger, I see them clearly. It’s just that the glasses help me focus on the potential found even in a booger if it belongs to my kid. It could be formed into something useful, I tell myself, Perhaps glue or add glitter and bedazzle  some Crocs with it. (Crocs are so ugly, they’d probably look BETTER with a glittery booger stuck on them.)

Anyway, the point is this; I think most of us moms do that sort of thing. Not, bedazzle Crocs with boogers, but we view our kids with a hopeful eye and a vision for the future that often INCLUDES the flaws, the weaknesses and the imperfections.

It’s probably true that we’d prefer to view our kids as perfect and overlook the flaws entirely. But in my opinion, if we’re smart, we won’t do that. Instead, we’ll embrace the imperfections every bit as much as the perfections and in doing so, find ourselves  balancing in that wondrous place in the middle where unconditional love lives.

The fact is, it’s often our flaws that make us interesting, unique and … well … US. That’s all the more reason to slip on the Rose Colored Glasses for a clear view of the very things that make our kids the spectacularly unique creatures they are!

On Being A Mom

Motherhood

Giving all of me until
almost none of me was left
Inconceivable it seems
to know not
was it gift
or theft
?


Me and my youngest when he was 3. He's 10 now!

I wrote this poem over a decade ago when my two oldest children were around 8 and 7 and before my youngest was born.

I LOVE being a mom with its many extremes of emotion. Nothing else in my life has the power to consume me like the love I have for my babies. This love has pushed me to the very edge of who I am, tapping into the raw parts of my soul, demanding I play many roles that have stretched, stressed and challenged my strengths and weaknesses.

Momma Bear defends – Doctor Mommy heals – Parent Mother disciplines –  Therapist Mom supports. Homework Mom just says, “Go ask Dad.”  Every year of development has demanded I step up and play a new role. And what worked for one child didn’t always work for the other!  Where was that freakin’ parenting manual when I needed it???

Anyway, over the last 2 decades I’ve often surprised myself by doing pretty damned okay. But there are also a few  dismal failures I can barely face all these years later.  My kids will undoubtedly face those  same failures on a therapists couch somewhere in their 30’s.

Fact is, giving everything for my kids has been both gift AND theft. I freely gave of myself and sometimes it was probably more than I should have …  AND parts of me were stolen when I wasn’t paying attention. There are so many gains and so many losses in life and mothering has been no exception for me.

And I wouldn’t trade it for the entire world.