What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

This morning I took my littles to their last STEM class for the school year.  It was on Robotics.  They got to build their own robots as teams, and they seemed to really enjoy it.

When we first got there this morning, we parked the car and began the trek to the building where the class is held.  As we started down the pathway, a woman–another Mama I’m assuming–was walking towards us.  We caught each other’s eyes and smiled.  I nodded and as she passed she smiled again, and then was gone.

But her smile has stuck with me all day.

I didn’t know her.  I may never see her again.  But there was something about her, the way that she carried herself, that was intriguing.

It was like–

it was like she was comfortable in her own skin.  With her lot in life.  Like she was not sorry for the joy she feels getting up in the morning.

It was almost like being a World Greeter is her  J O B.

You know, like the Wal-Mart greeters?  They are some of the most precious folks I know.  The one I know best, I guess, is Miss Mary.  I will go out of my way just so I can speak to her, ask her how she’s doing, and have her say, with her smile and unique manner, “Hello. Welcome.”  She doesn’t know my name, and whether or not she actually remembers me from visit to visit is debatable, but her welcome and her expression makes me feel as though she does.

Wouldn’t that be awesome?  If we had World Greeters or maybe Day Greeters–folks who welcome us to our life each day and ask if there’s anything they can do to help make the experience even better?

What would that look like for us to be that for each other?

Pretty doggone cool, I’m thinking.

Tonight I’m thankful for folks whose joy overflows onto the paths I walk on.  For folks who are always there when I call or let me know when they’re not, just in case.  For smiles from strangers and from folks I love.  For birthdays of good friends and songs on the radio that stir my soul.  For movie previews of books I love that have me ready to BUY MY TICKET NOW.  For classes on robots and the little people who will one day take that knowledge and do amazing things.  For friends with musical talent and texts that have me laughing for days.  For ideas of what to cook for supper that arrive earlier rather than later and for all the fixings close at hand.  Most of all, I’m thankful for people who know me and call my name.  I think I might have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

A World Greeter.

Welcome, folks.  How can I help you find your way to fabulous today?

Love to all.

 

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But What Does It Do?

This one starts off like the classic meme–

I don’t always watch the commercials on TV, but when I do…..

they make me sad.

Forget the ones that are inappropriate and the main reason I cannot watch live TV with my children.  (Well, don’t forget them, but we’ll set those aside to discuss another night.)

Never mind the ridiculous ones.  I’m a little over the two guys eating in the car at Sonic.  They might have been funny once, but, really?  Enough.

And don’t get me started on the movie trailers that get us all hooked and then they say, not yet rated.  I KNOW what that means, and sure enough, another one we were looking forward to is shelved until the littles are older.  Thanks Marvel and Disney.  Way to go.

No, this one’s about the ones that make me really sad.

The ones for the stuffed animals.  But wait, there’s more.

These stuffed animals aren’t just stuffed animals.  There’s one that rolls into a ball and bounces.  There’s another that you can use as a bag to hide your unsightly pajamas–you know, because tucking them under your pillow just will NOT do.  The one that really takes the cake is the one that has a fish tank in its belly.  I kid you not.  A fish tank.  Or you can store Legos or other small things inside the see through stomach on this stuffed animal.

Wow.

What a world we are creating for our children when even their stuffed animals must multi-task.  What happened to the cuddly stuffed animals that you just wrapped your arms around and let your cares melt away?  I’d even take the ones that talked when you squeezed them over this.

It’s what the world is like now, isn’t it?  We can’t just be.  We must also be able to do…..so.  much. more.  And it breaks my heart.  I see it a lot as a stay at home/homeschooling mom.  I saw it when I was a working Mama.  You’re introduced to someone and the next thing after hearing your name is, “Oh, what do you DO?”

It’s how we relate to each other.  We categorize and compartmentalize and move on.

Now we’re doing it to our children’s toys.  Nice bear…..but what does it do?

*sigh*

What these little folks must be learning from us.  Go, be, do, and then do more.

Just no.

I’m more than my Mamahood, though that is a huge part of me and I love it.  I’m also more than the homeschool teacher.  I’m more than I appear and way more than what I do.  I’m what I feel and whom I love and a composite of every moment I’ve breathed on this planet and every decision I ever made.  I am more.

But not because I DO more.

Simply because I am.

So no, I won’t be ordering the bubble belly bear or the boucing ball hippopotamus.  I just can’t do it.  We’re quite happy with the simple ones we cuddle with and wrap up and play ‘ten like with.  Then they can be and do anything we imagine.

And without letting myself be put in a box, so can I.

Love and wishes for a soaring imagination to all.

Watching the Baby Bird Learn to Fly

When did my baby girl grow up?

Lately it has become very apparent that she’s growing up faster than my mind will let her.  As we moved things from Mama’s house to their various new homes over the past couple of weeks, we decided to move the like new twin mattress and boxsprings into our Princess’ room, as her mattress has seen better days.  We got the set into the house, and the next day we started making the move.  We began by stripping her bedding and lifting up her mattress.  As we prepared to carry it and the boxsprings out, I noticed our Princess looked upset.

“What’s wrong?”

She began crying.  “I don’t want a new bed.  I like my old one. Why do I have to be the one to change?”

I was taken aback.  What? I realized I hadn’t discussed it with her at all.  Just with the Fella.  You mean you have a mind of your own about this?  You have a preference?

Wow.  When did that happen?

So in the end we switched out Cooter’s mattress and boxsprings.  Apparently our girl sleeps just fine on her old one.  Our Princess was happy once again.

Until the following afternoon. I had brought home Mama’s lovely touch lamp–you touch it to turn it on and off.  I thought it would be nice in Princess’ room and that she’d like to have her Maemae’s lamp.  She’d been using a lantern-type lamp that was actually supposed to be in Cooter’s room.  As I brought it in and told her, she gave me a look, and said, “Mama, I don’t want that lamp.  I like the one I’m using.  Why aren’t you asking me about any of these things?”

Ummmm, because in my mind and heart you are still four years old, just beginning to explore what it’s like to be you…..not nine and pretty sure of your likes and dislikes and who you are.

I get that part of it is that she doesn’t handle change as well as some do…..not sure where she gets that from.  Ahem.

Well, yes, she is my child in that respect.  And I remember nine.  I remember thinking that I was about to be two-digits old.  That nine is the last single digit age.  Yes, I was a bit angsty even then.  And sentimental.

In that respect we are just alike.

But I think it’s likely that I was not as sure of my tastes and preferences at age nine.  At least I didn’t feel as free to share them as she does.  That’s something I’m glad she didn’t get from me.  She is finding her voice a lot younger than I did, and for that I am grateful.

There are still things that she doesn’t get a say in:  how far she can ride her bike, if she can roam all over the neighborhood like she wants, if she can have dessert without eating a balanced meal, if she can have Sprite whenever she wants, and things like that.  For goodness’ sake, I’m letting you dress yourself for the most part child, what else do you want from me?

Autonomy.  To come into her own.  I get it.

My Daddy used to call my children when they were babies–“a puddle of people.”  As they would lay in his arms and stare up at him, he said they were “imprinting.”  And then they started becoming their own little people.

I don’t know if it’s because of her usual sensitive, sweet nature, quirky sense of style, health issues, or simply because she’s my baby girl, but I have not let this little girl grow up in my mind at all.  Until she found her voice and told me what she wanted.  It’s an interesting thing to try to grasp.  That this little one, born in Japan, who smiled and giggled as the cherry blossoms fell down like snow around us as she rode on her Daddy’s shoulders during her first spring, is entering a new phase of her life.  She will be in a different age bracket on her next birthday–a pre-teen.

I just can’t even.

But I have a feeling that this sweet girl who gets her height from her tall Daddy, this baby who is nearly as tall as I am and wears the same size shoes, will always be ready for a hug and a kind word.

Just so long as I don’t go trying to change things without talking with her first.

I guess I’d better make a note of that.

My little bird is trying out her wings.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Another Princess story written by her big sister is here.

 

 

 

Which You are You?

Social Media has been overrun.  At least three times a day I see a related post.  Thanks to sites like Buzzfeed and Zimbio, all of us who are lost can get one step closer to finding ourselves by taking a quiz and finding out such soul-shaping information about ourselves like which Beatle we are, which character on Parks and Recreation we would be, and which Disney Villain we are most like.  The past couple of days has revealed a “Which Food Are You?” quiz–I’m seeing a lot of cheeses out there.  People don’t seem to be  too happy about that.   I’ve come across which breed of dog are you, and rumor has it there is a “Which Girl Scout Cookie Are You?”  I’m thinking my good friend and Girl Scout mom could find a way to use that for marketing purposes.  Just an idea.

It’s fascinating, isn’t it?  Aub and Mess Cat and I spent a little while on a lazy Sunday afternoon with Aub clicking through quizzes and asking us questions.  It never failed.  My answers always led to the most mellow of characters or the ones you barely remember.  I don’t know why.  Ahem.  I just shook my head and swore off any more quizzes.  When you get the one Disney villain that gave your Mama nightmares as a child, it’s time to stop the game.  (The Queen of Hearts from “Alice in Wonderland.”  I don’t even know, y’all.)

Why are so we intrigued by finding our identity in fictional characters or animals or food?  There are even quizzes that pinpoint where you should live.  I do not have time for that one.  Some days I barely find the resolve and wherewithal to leave my house–I certainly am not going to be able to move to a different state, based on a quiz telling me I don’t belong in Georgia.  (Which are fighting words, by the way.)

I think we are always looking for connections.  Links to others, a string that joins us, hands to hold–so we are not alone.  If I’m like “Hey, I’m a chocolate chip shortbread” and you say, “Hey me too,” then we are connected and I am not alone.  If the synopsis of said cookie says I’m a really, really superb human being, and you nod and say “It’s true, so true” well, then bam! Validation right there.  Thank you very much.

Then there are the quizzes where I get someone or something I don’t think is accurate.  (Or wish it wasn’t most likely.)  Guaranteed I’m gonna retake that thing.  And hope for a different answer.  It’s madness, isn’t it?  Who am I–but tell me who I want to hear, not who you are really programmed to link me to.

Ahem.

We are always seeking more information.

About ourselves.

But from on-line quizzes?

I don’t know why, but that feels a little sad to me.

I know many of these quizzes are just for fun.  I’ve taken a few just for kicks.  But down deep, I wonder if it isn’t symbolic of us looking for ourselves in all the wrong places, to paraphrase Johnny Lee’s song.  We are taking quizzes, and haven’t we been doing this for years?  What are you on the Enneagram?  What season are you?  What color is your best?  Who is your ideal mate? Remember the INFJ/ESTP personality tests? So many questions, all leading up to the one answer we are seeking.

Who am I?

The truth is I have found out more about myself, my authentic and true being, on a long walk on a dirt road.  Mama used to have mowed paths out back at Blackberry Flats, and walking those I dreamed, I sang, I cried, I talked to God, and I talked to myself.  And I came away with a little clearer sense of who I am and who I want to be.  And peace.  When I was at Wesleyan we had some great places to walk where I could clear the cobwebs in my brain.  Sometimes with a friend, but often alone, walking off with questions and returning with one or two answered.  One of the best days of clarity and peace and feeling in touch with ME came when I was sitting on the swing out by the pond at my alma mater on a sunny spring day with a notebook and a pencil.  Just me and the geese.  And quiet.

I’ve lost touch with that way of seeking answers, of reaching inside myself and coming back up in touch and at peace with my life. Or with a game plan to get to that point.  I’ve not found a place to walk and wander and wonder.  To shut out the noise and messages and commercial interruptions in my life.  And just be.  Instead I’ve let life wrap me up in busy-ness and day to dailies.  The quizzes are fun…..and funny.  I am curious going into the quiz, but truthfully, I know what I’d like the result to be.  Most of the time I find myself left with a lingering sense of “Do what?” or “How is that even possible?” with only an occasional “Nailed it.  Yes!”  When it comes to really knowing who I am though, I’m still left with a sense of longing.

Do we ever really get it?  Do we ever really fully know WHO we are or figure out exactly what we are supposed to be doing?  One of Mama’s favorite shows was “The Greatest American Hero,” about a guy who was given a superhero cape but no instruction manual.  Or did he lose it?  Regardless, he had no directions.  Mama found that very ironic and funny.  We are put down here to live our lives, to build and nurture relationships, and to do the best we can with what we have.  No instruction manual.  And while it’s funny and a great Facebook post or conversation starter to know that I am Jerry from “Parks and Rec” or a number 2 with a 1 wing on the Enneagram or a Pug, none of that is going to bring me peace or help me look in the mirror tomorrow morning.  None of these results are going to help ME keep becoming ME.

Will I take another of these quizzes?  I’m not promising anything.  (After all, no joke, as I was writing this another one popped up–“Which one of Jesus’ disciples are you?” NO WAY am I touching that one!) But what I do know is that this is the next quiz I will be taking–

Where is the closest and quietest dirt road to walk on around here?

It’s time I go out and do some “wondering” around again.

I’ve been missing me lately.  So I’m packing up the 2, the pug, Jerry, INFP, Fall, Lumiere and Cogsworth, and chocolate shortbread–the whole lot of them–and we’re all going to have some time together with ME.  It’s time we all got together again.  And just be.

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In case you haven’t been exposed to the world of these quizzes, here are some links:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/quiz

http://www.zimbio.com/quiz

for the INTJ/ESFP quiz:  http://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test

for the Enneagram quiz:  http://www.enneagramquiz.com/

Just promise me you’ll take a good long walk or soak in the tub or something just you yourself afterwards.  Don’t let them mess with your mind or define you.  Because they will try–they’re crafty like that.  And one quiz leads to ten.  Not that I know this personally or anything.  Ahem.