These are confusing times we are living in. Things that are unprecedented going on all over while other things that are frighteningly precedented take place close to home and across the world. Some days, I just want to sit with my book and dog and read and escape with the sounds of the littles playing in the background.
It’s hard to know what is right and wrong, you know? Hard to know how to make things better…..how to wrong the rights…..how to help the hurting. And it feels so overwhelming, wondering how the little things I do in my day to dailies could possibly make a difference.
Is it any wonder we are all so tired?
Yesterday for the second time in three months, I found myself sitting next to an elderly woman in her 80’s expressing her thoughts on the world, our country, the situations on her mind. Different women, different circumstances, but both times I sat trying to find balance in the situation. Would my firmly stating how much I disagree with her change the world for the better? Should I speak loudly and strongly what I believe is right and wrong? Would I make things better by trying to explain how she wasn’t seeing things in what I believed to be the right light, or would I only alienate her and make things worse?
I couldn’t be sure.
Both times, I said something like, “Well, it is hard.”
“People are hurting.”
“I am not sure that everyone sees it that way.”
“It’s hard to know what the right thing is, isn’t it?”
Because it is. None of what I said was an untruth, but I didn’t come out and say, “I BELIEVE YOU ARE WRONG.”
I just couldn’t. And both times, I left feeling bad–wondering if I’d let down those who are hurting.
The difference yesterday though was that my littles, Cooter who is now 10 1/2 and our Princess who is almost 13, were there and listening.
As we left and got in our vehicle, I answered questions that Cooter had about what had transpired. He wanted to know all kinds of things, like what the woman had been referring to and why she believed what she did. One part I could answer, the other I could only guess. And I told him that. Then we talked about how we all see things differently.
And then we moved on to other important subjects–like what was for lunch. Cooter is very meal-focused these days. Must be that whole growing boy thing.
Then this morning, Cooter brought his Grammar/Literature book to me. Some days there are readings that he is asked to read aloud to me. This morning he came with an urgent need to read it to me NOW.
“Mama,” he said. “You have to hear this. It made me think about that lady yesterday.”
And then he read from his text–
Japanese Culture: Part 2
by Jennifer D. Lerud
Family, honor, good manners, and outside appearances are very important to the Japanese people. They have two forms of behavior: omote, which is the public, formal, and conventional behavior that governs how close they stand to each other and who shakes hands first, for example; and ura, which is their private, informal, “relaxing at home” form of behavior. They believe it is proper to agree with anyone older than themselves–even if the person is wrong–in order to avoid humiliating or bringing dishonor on an elder person. The Japanese people display people’s ages in newsletters at work, and school and work desks according to age, and even hand out cups of tea in order of age. Social ranking and status are important things…..
(from The Good and the Beautiful, Level 4–Book 2 Course Book, p. 11)
“See, Mama? That’s what you did yesterday.”
I’m not writing this to debate about whether I should have stood up yesterday or three months ago and called these women out. It didn’t happen, and I don’t know if it will happen tomorrow or next week or next year, should such a situation arise again, as it likely will. I’m writing this because I’m trying to wrap my brain around a child who was paying attention, and a timely lesson that spoke to him, and the fact that he saw the connection and shared it with me.
Most days it’s all little things that are dots that I don’t connect into a big picture until much later–if ever. It’s reminding Cooter umpteen times to rinse out his oatmeal bowl before it becomes glue in the bowl or listening to our Princess practicing “The Carol of the Bells” for her piano recital. It’s making sure that swim suits and dance leotards are clean and dry, and that scripts and epi-pens are in hand as we head out the door. It’s grocery shopping and meal planning and reminding little people to empty the dishwasher. It’s talking on the phone with our law student and trying not to miss her too much, knowing she’s where she’s supposed to be. Sometimes it’s even making time to read my new favorite book or watch the newest Hallmark movie.
And most of the time, these little things don’t connect…..
But today, they did. Today I’m thankful for a perfectly timed (I’m looking at You) Literature passage that gave me grace…..for that same passage that spoke to a little fella and helped him understand the ways of the world a little more.
Mostly I’m thankful for this process of “raising children”–that label is so limiting and not at all what we are doing together, y’all. Together, all of us, we are growing hope. As these little people watch and listen and read and begin to understand and teach us through their eyes and with their hearts–we are raising the ones who will carry our stories, our love, our light, and pass it along to the next generation.
And today, that is everything to me.
Love to all.