Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 05/21/2019

Don’t Go Banging on my Privacy

45383578I know better. Really, I do.

I got a friend request from Derrick. His picture was of a be-speckled, middle-aged man in a suit. He looked like an attorney or a stockbroker. Not like a two-time felon or anything. Here comes the how-many-brain-cells-do-you-have part. I accepted. I figured we probably had a friend or two in common.

Not five minutes later, I get this:

“Hello Patti, I’m sorry for banging on your privacy I was hanging around when I come      across you fantastic profile page I decided to distract your intention By saying Hello to you, if possible I would want us to know ourselves more better as friends hope you are not mad at me

Sic, sic, sic, sic.

Fortunately, I am happy to say that my friends are exponentially more literate than this fellow is.

So, this guy is banging on my privacy and wanting us to know ourselves “more better“. But he needs reassurance that I am not mad at him!

This Facebook stuff is something else. It’s really comical. Is this guy looking for love in all the wrong places? Has he tried Match.com without much success? How does this fellow land on my Facebook page (my fantastic profile page) and not someone else’s? What are the chances that we cross paths in the viral world when there are a billion people on Facebook?

I unfriended him. I didn’t need the guilt of breaking his illiterate heart.

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Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 04/04/2019

Kansas State Fair

109603759Last year, as the summer was winding down, my husband and I took off early on a Saturday morning for Hutchinson, Kansas, a three-hour drive from our home in Kansas City.  Neither of us had been to a State Fair before.  Me, a girl from the Bronx, had only seen pictures of cows until I was fourteen.

I loved the sights and sounds and smells, and the people-watching was a huge bonus.

First stop:  Two corn on the cobs.  Once ordered, the cashier dunked both cobs in a vat of butter and handed them to us. I left that booth with butter dripping all over my hands and making its way from wrist to elbow.  I must have looked completely uninitiated because some stranger came to my rescue with about five napkins that she dug out of her purse.

Next:  A game on the Midway.  See how quick I got into the jargon of this experience?  Yup, I got suckered into one of the games that I knewI couldn’t win but handed over $5 anyway.  A bucket of rings, a little smaller than bracelet-size, which you tossed toward about 100 bottles, three feet away.  It looked like it should be so easy. I adjusted my technique as I made my way through the bucket of rings….throwing them haphazardly, then tossing them upward so they came down straight, presumably onto the bottle. The bucket must have contained 50 rings….and not one. single.one came even close.  My sore loser response was that I wouldn’t have wanted to lug a big stuffed animal around all day anyway.

We watched a bunch of 4H kids showing goats, pigs, horses and chickens. Who knew you could show chickens? Not a single kid had any semblance of control over the animal they were showing, many a 4H-er being dragged in the direction their animal wanted to go.

We wandered over to The Birthing Center. This was a huge metallic barn sort of place, easily the size of three football fields.  One side of it contained bleachers, and in close proximity, three cows, each in their own chain-link enclosure.  One, a Holstein (I know, impressive….you don’t learn these sorts of things in the Bronx!) was in transition.  Yup, no mistaking that phase of delivering baby or beast.  She was pushing, she was up and down, standing, lying on her side, restless, moaning, panting.  If this cow needed a birthing coach, I was her woman.  I was transfixed.  Captivated. Feeling a deep synchronicity with her efforts, her pain, her bravery.  K-State vets were standing watch.  Finally, mama was given an assist and they broke her water.  And then……it was miraculous.  The front hooves made their appearance and within two minutes, the calf emerged.

And tears….unexpected tears for the miracle of it all.  For the solidarity, the blessing, the privilege of being female. We have such a unique role in this world, and it took a haggard, weary, female Holstein to bring that point home.

 

 

Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 03/08/2019

Marie Kondo and the whole “sparking joy” thing

Marie_Kondō,_2016_(cropped)The latest rage in television is Marie Kondo. She is an organizational consultant, author and cleaning guru. She was one of Time’s 100 Most Influential people. She’s all about assessing every single item in your home and deciding if it “sparks joy”. If not, out it goes. No warbling, no indecision, no I’ll-have-to-think-about-it. OUT.

I missed my calling. I am a saner version of Marie Kondo. I am an organizational Rock star. My spices in alphabetical order. Yup. I have a folder for income tax stuff. I can literally find anything anyone is looking for. That goes for twist ties for trash bags, passports, paper clips, my eighth-grade yearbook, the nozzle for the outdoor hose, batteries – AA, AAA, C, D and 9 Volt. I know where the dental floss stash is that the dentist gives to me at every appointment, the picture hangers, the spare keys for every car we’ve ever owned, the washing machine troubleshooting instructions, extra check registers and a list of social security numbers for all the kids. Additionally, I can find any book in this house, because, you guessed it, my books are categorized by genre, then alphabetized by author. The photo album is caught up. I am OCD about that. I gave up on recording milestone stuff in the kids’ baby books sometime around the third kid. The remaining five, nothing. Blank pages. I threw all my efforts toward the photo albums to record history. I didn’t ask any of my things if they gave me a sense of bliss. Don’t have any future plans to, either.

My spouse and I raised enough kids to field a basketball team with three subs. I oversaw their organization too. Each kid had a “junk box”. I know, Marie Kondo would need an EMT and paddles. It was my way of controlling the bedlam. But the kids knew that that one junk box was it. They had plenty of toys in the playroom, but this was their own secret stash. Bottlecaps they found in the road. A napkin from a birthday party they’d gone to, little bits of icing still stuck to it. A scattering of toys from McDonald’s Happy Meals. Tiny little Barbie shoes. Rocks. Old keys. Sea shells. There was a time when snail shells made their way into a junk box. The bad news is that the snails were still in the shell. That’s called junk box stench.

“The more stuff you own, the more stuff owns you” says Marie. Sorry, I just can’t buy that. I have stuff. I see no benefit to giving a huge portion of it away. Decluttering is one thing. But just about everything I have in my house has a story behind it. I have an old-fashioned bread board on my dining room table. It is piled high with heart-shaped rocks from near and far, domestic and international. I have 40 photo albums crammed with pictures that highlight our family’s journey for the past 38 years. Baptisms, trips to the park, Disneyland, Christmas, Thanksgiving, graduations, summers in Cape Cod, prom pictures and all the in-between things that when all pulled together, memorialize our lives. The kids come home for holidays and at some point, the photo albums come out and they laugh and remember and reminisce. I love that. It makes my heart happy.

One of my kids is a real traditionalist. She came home from college one weekend and discovered that the yellow Rubbermaid bowl that had touched the heating coil in the dishwasher and no longer had a stable base on it was gone. Still usable. But it didn’t give me joy, because I like my stuff nice, in good shape, but it was one of several similar bowls ,so I tossed it. She was horrified. “That’s the bowl you’d send us to bed with when we had the flu!” She saw it as a keepsake. Me? Out. One woman’s treasure is another woman’s discard, it seems.

We are empty nesters now. We have downsized. Really, we have “rightsized”. Marie Kondo would be on life support if she came into my house. Picture frames of the kids on every surface. A church pew right by the front door with piles of stuff, organized by which kid it belongs to. Books…books everywhere. A dining room with 2 candlesticks from my mother-in-law’s house. On a kitchen shelf, an Italian vinegar and oil set that one of my kids picked up at a thrift store with me in mind. A school-art project dish by the bathroom sink that holds lots of earrings, made for me by my son that says in his third-grade handwriting, “Happy Mother’s Day 2003”. A picture my daughter Margaret drew of she and her sister. It’s a picture of the two of them, leaning into each other, heads touching, in a four-year old’s crude penciled way. A green tinted watering can, sitting on the mantle, dented and rusted in places, reminding me of dozens of Sunday trips to Greenwood, scuffing around in antique stores, kids with hands mostly in their pockets, so they weren’t tempted to touch the merchandise.

All of that stuff sparks a feeling. A slice of a bygone time that still evokes an emotional response. I don’t want a coffee table adorned by a perfectly centered plant. I want to be surrounded by things that bring to life memories…and thankfully, thankfully, there’s no limit to those.

#MarieKondo – #sparkingjoy


Photo By RISE – Flickr, CC BY 2.0
Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 02/24/2019

“The Bachelor”….Please, just get a room

_My template small ccI’m probably one of the few who has never seen “The Bachelor”. It’s a two-hour long television show. I watched it.  Once. And that’s two hours that I can’t get back.

The premise behind the show, a once-a-week-for-seven-weeks series, is the lucky bachelor gets his pick of somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty bachelorettes who are wined and dined, hoping to be chosen by this single guy. Each bachelorette should bring their best game. Girls are eliminated each week. And the one girl left standing gets him as the prize. That, according to the rules of the show, should result in an engagement.

First of all, anyone who gets engaged to someone, anyone, after 14 hours is an idiot. The Bachelor, filmed in exotic destinations is nothing like real life because neither of the two has seen each other with the flu, untangling Christmas lights, arguing about whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher, trying to wallpaper a room together, or going to McDonald’s drive-through and ordering a plain double cheeseburger, only to get home  and find it slathered with ketchup. That, my friend, is real life. The gritty stuff. The annoying stuff that makes you grind your molars together, that is part of living together day-after-day. For years. And decades.

There is a lot of backstabbing. Lots of girls running to the bachelor with the dirt on the other competitors. Mean girl stuff. I mean this is drama on steroids. Certainly bringing out the very worst side of these women.

But this bachelor has it pretty darn good. Passionate kisses with each woman. Sometimes within an hour of each other. He proclaims his go-to line, “I think I’m falling in love with you” with appalling regularity. Yuck. Disingenuous at best. Morally bankrupt at its worst.

And the women. Mostly in their early to mid-twenties. Barbie dolls. Mostly blond. All with fake eyelashes and plenty, I mean plenty of cleavage. And the desperation just oozes. They grovel and say ridiculously syrupy stuff. I think every one of them said “I feel very special” in a whispery kind of trying-to-be-sexy voice at some point in the show. Special? When there are nineteen other girls waiting in the wings, ready to lock lips with him? These girls are willing to do whatever it takes to win.

I have to wonder what kind of lame logic anyone of the contestants has. The bachelor is certainly being duped. How in the world can he think that all twenty girls have fallen in love with him in seven weeks? If so, the statistics are definitely running astronomically in his favor. And the women? A five percent chance of winning. Putting herself out there, allowing herself to be manhandled in front of millions of people for those odds???

 

 

Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 02/18/2019

Growing old gracefully

19924695The years have left their mark. The mirror confirms that.

Yet I know that the wrinkles tell a story. A personal journey, that includes being scuffed up, scabbed over, times I should have, could have, didn’t. A fair share of broken promises, impatient moments, at-the-end-of-my-rope days.

The gray hairs, the nostalgia that seems more prevalent now. Introspection, a sense that there are many fewer days going forward than in the rear view mirror. A sometimes overwhelming feeling of where does the time go. Not wondering in a trivial sort of way, like the shrinkage of time that occurs when you don’t get your Christmas shopping done on time, but the sadness for the passage of time.

But happy things cause wrinkles as well. Those are the laugh lines, parentheses that frame the mouth. The goofy stuff, the laughing at the hilarity of raising eight kids. The things we laugh about when we are all together.

Mary, getting sucked in by a slick-talking timeshare salesman, that her then-fiancé had to do some fast-talking to get her out of. Matthew, who could still be chewing his meat an hour after dinner was over, eating a Tootsie Roll pop and saying, “I like this kind of meat” as he came to the chocolate center. Claire, telling everyone in her first-grade class that her middle name was “Annette”. It isn’t. But a way to explain to everyone that her grandfather had invented the clarinet. Claire Annette. Margaret, the baby, was told by her sisters that she lived in Japan until she learned differently when she got to Kindergarten. No geographical genius there. Kathleen, throwing a fireplace log, saying to her sibling, “Duck”. Her sibling looking into the sky, saying “Where?” as the log made contact with her forehead. That goose egg was one for the record books. Meghan, sporting that curly hair, made all of us smile, and marvel at the chemistry of the spirals that covered her head. Elizabeth, not a care in the world, coming out of first grade with her unzipped backpack with papers flying all over the parking lot. And oh yeah, having lost her third winter jacket of the year. Andrew, backing out of the garage, opening his driver’s side door to hear what his sister was shouting to him from the house, ramming into the side of the garage, dislocating the car door in the process.

That, a hundred-fold, gave me those matching C’s around my mouth. Kind of like the opposite-facing C’s of the Chanel logo.

No Botox here. No “work”. Okay, maybe blonding. I guess that sort of makes me the real deal.

My heart is full. Content. Grateful. Sometimes overwhelmed, sometimes broken.

But the heart, the heart has no wrinkles.

Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 02/11/2019

#metoo

Dreaming girlI felt no need to participate in the #metoo on social media.  It felt too much like an indictment of the entire male population. Too broad a stroke of the proverbial brush.  Besides, I’ve seen lots of sanctimonious men, casting aspersions on their male counterparts. Eager to take everyone else’s inventory, instead of looking at their own behavior. Suggestive comments on Facebook. Double entendres. Off color remarks.  While not assault, it is disrespectful and belittles women. And I see it every day on Facebook.

I’ve had what in 2019 called a #metoo episode, twice. The first time I was 7. Walking home from a friend’s house in the middle of the day in my Malvern, Pennsylvania neighborhood. A man drove up, parallel to me, and gestured for me to approach his car, saying he needed directions. I did and found an aroused male, masturbating. I can still see the look on his face as I gasped, wide-eyed. I ran all the way home and unbelievably never told anyone about the incident until four decades later. The second time was on the New York subway, when a male sat down next to twelve year old me and put his hand on my back, moving southward, at which point I shot away from the bench and changed seats, only after putting a three-car distance between us.

What’s all the #metoo about? A solidarity amongst women? United against men? That gives me no satisfaction. I get no feeling of unity from that. Haven’t we always known the prevalence of this assault? Knowing my next-door neighbor had to endure this isn’t comforting.

And the timing of #metoo doesn’t make much sense to me. This is a horse-has-already-left-the-barn conversation. Wouldn’t we be better served amplifying the no-means-no narrative. Preventative stuff. Smashing the boys-will-be-boys cliché. Slamming the well-what-were-you-wearing angle. Teaching our daughters that they don’t have to tolerate disrespectful comments or actions.

I oftentimes wonder why that eight-year old self didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t think it was my fault. Shame? I really don’t know. I can’t put my finger on the why. Why stay silent?  Why bury this deep inside? Why keep it in the shadows? I can’t reach back far enough to “get” what I was thinking as a seven-year old. I still remember it vividly. I can mentally replay what happened that day. But I don’t know the thought process that had me deciding, at some point, that this was something that I had to keep silent about.

So let’s give women the voice they deserve. So we can eliminate #metoo, without disparaging some really good men.

Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 02/06/2019

Short-sighted busyness

2073550At the eye doc this morning. Sitting in a too-chilly exam room, listening to the doctor in the  adjacent room talking with an elderly male patient who apparently had nothing else to do today than converse with a too-busy medical professional.

That was the beauty of the overheard conversation.  No one would ever guess that this doctor had a crowded schedule.

She had a way about her.

She listened.  She responded in a way that didn’t scream, hey-I’m-busy-I’m-not-here-to-have-a-big-conversation-about-stuff-unrelated-to-your-eye-care.

He talked about his last trip to Arizona, complete with temperature and humidity percentages.  He talked about his wife who always misplaces her readers.  He debated, out loud, over whether the third letter of the fourth row of the eye chart was a z or a 2 or an s.

And she listened.  And was gracious.  And made him feel important and cared about.

She would say that it was not a big deal, part of her job, etc.  But we know many professionals that could/should do that and don’t.  This isn’t a skill that’s taught in med school. There they teach in and out, backing toward the door after 3.8 minutes.

She had a way about her.

Why are we in such a hurry? Why do we race around like our hair’s on fire?  When the microwave isn’t fast enough for you, that’s a pretty good indicator that you are on life’s superhighway. And that’s only good if you’re a car.

Better yet, have a way about you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 01/17/2019

The train is a small world…

39202445The train is a small world moving through a larger world.  – Elisha Coope

I recently rode the train from Kansas City to St. Louis.  A quick, no-stress five-hour and forty-minute ride. No crazy drivers to contend with, no detours, no work zones with double the fines, no stops for gas or snacks (I’m a big believer in snacks — I’m like a twelve-year old with ten dollars in a 7-Eleven!)  I was traveling solo, so I had lots of time to gaze out the window of the “Missouri River Runner.”

We certainly have no lack of cornfields in Kansas and Missouri.  But I also got a glimpse into what could be considered the underbelly of the Midwest landscape, depending on the mile marker, a series of staccato snapshots.

I saw lots of newly-harvested farmland, and the Missouri River. Interspersed were some cows.  My NYC background certainly doesn’t make me an expert on bovine-behavior, but I believe that there Is a direct correlation between lying-down-cows and impending rain.  I actually asked a real farmer at the Kansas State Fair if there was anything to that old wives’ tale  – while my husband stood by, smug, smirking and eye-rolling.  The farmer rubbed his chin, in the thinking posture and said, “Well, little lady, when cows are lying down, they’re tired.”  The look on my husband’s face was enough to get us a quick, uncontested divorce.  I wasn’t too terribly happy with the farmer either.  Maybe he wasn’t really a farmer, but a faux farmer dressed in overalls.

I saw barns, lot of them.  All in disrepair, with tired red paint, bleached-out siding and caving roofs, abandoned long ago.

We passed a rundown trailer park, clothes lines laden with clothes, little kids running around, too-thin dogs barking and cars being worked on.

There was a razor wire prison, where we warehouse those that just can’t follow the rules. Signs warning to not pick up hitch hikers.

Under concrete bridges, with rebar showing through where the concrete had fallen away.  Gang graffiti, with its splash of color, enhanced the look of this worn out bridge, that begged  for attention. Along the tracks, a scattering of teens, who on this weekday, non-holiday should have been in a classroom somewhere.

We passed several homeless camps.  Down-on-their-luck human beings who just couldn’t find the resources, wherewithal, or motivation to seek shelter.  Many , if the statistics are right, with significant mental health issues..

All this with the background noise of a hissing train engine that slowed  and sped up as we chugged our way into to small towns.  And always, preceding our arrival, the sound of the train’s whistle, a mournful sound.

So, what’s the takeaway?  This is probably a microcosm of what ails our society.  The prison, not about rehabilitating, but sticking men and women in a cage. Human beings who are treated no better than animals.  Teens wandering the railroad tracks.  Besides tacking a truant label on them, can we not find out the why?  What’s the why? Is there no adult that even cares they’re not In school?  Is there not one single teacher in the school building who would take an interest in a kid who’s lagging behind, struggling, sporadically showing up and then disappearing for days at a time?  Just think, if every single teacher in the United States – 3.6 million of them, took an interest in just one kid….the difference could be staggering. No need to even do the math.

Our country is vast, diverse, terrific.  But there is room for compassion, room tor every one of us to roll up our shirtsleeves and do a little more.  Just a little.  I’ve worked with the homeless for a long time, and I still can’t get my head around homelessness.  It’s both a lifestyle and a mindset.  They would joke with me,”Hey, I have no car to worry about fixing, no Visa bill to pay, no electric bill, just what I can carry with me.”  But what they didn’t say was that there is no safety, no respite for whatever weather is thrown at them and strangers for companions.  Most of the time, family that has long ago discarded them in disgust.

Come on, America.  Do something.

Before the train leaves the station.

Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 01/15/2019

Tick tock

45382458I had time.

Time enough to understand that this young woman, irrespective of her addict-status, needed to talk.  About her mom who just broke her hip and dislocated her shoulder in a fall on an icy Kansas City sidewalk.  About her psoriasis, that oozed and stung on her glove-less, chapped hands.  About the mammogram she had two years ago which uncovered three lumps in one breast and two in the other.  She never could scrape the funds together to go and do the biopsy she needed.

I handed her the list of services available to her at our free clinic. She clung to that sheet of paper, embracing this unexpected resource.  Grateful. Maybe not just for the piece of paper, but for not being judged for the ragtag clothing she wore. Pants swallowing her, held up with rope, too small a coat, that barely wrapped around her, not quite able to merge the two parts of the zipper together.  It had a campfire smell, mixed with odor of stale tobacco.  Hair that begged for a shampoo.  Fingernails dirty. After she left, I sat for a bit, ignoring the fact that there were others waiting to be seen…and had an epiphany.  This volunteer job wasn’t about handing out flyers.  It had nothing to do with agencies that could help or phone numbers or pamphlets about safe sex and drug safety on the street.

This was about having time.  Time for whoever came through that door.  Offering those down-on-their-luckers warmth, someone smiling, instead of the disgust of passersby who used the sidewalk as a way to get somewhere rather than a “dwelling”, where they lay their head each night.

Time. Fleeting.  Never-get-backable.  It keeps going, in much the same way an escalator doesn’t wait.  But I could be that agent of change.  I could throw the ticking of the clock out the window and give everyone who came through the door the gift of stay-awhile.

And how many times have I not taken the time?  Rushed a toddler, trying to get out the door, already late.  Or been short with someone on the other end of an l-800 number trying to sort out a billing issue.  My voice becoming more clipped as I am asked to recite what seems like an annoying and unnecessary litany of security questions.  Or someone in the grocery checkout ahead of me, when she realizes that she’s forgotten milk and makes a mad dash back to dairy while I wait.  Tapping my foot.  Exchanging a knowing glance at the cashier.  Not quite an eye-roll, but close.  Or begrudgingly letting someone over into my lane when the traffic is already backed up for miles.

Yup.  The Catholic in me roars to the surface every so often.  “For whatever you do to the least of my brethren….” (Matthew 25; 40-45)

Tick tock.

 

 

Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 01/12/2019

#ThisLife  ………….reminiscing

White chrysanthemum flowersWe just celebrated our forty-fourth wedding anniversary with dinner at one of our favorite Kansas City restaurants — Lidia’s in the Freight District.  We are no strangers to a sort of stream-of-conscious reminiscing, nestling it into the conversation at a celebration of our lives together.

The reminiscing began with some basic math.  We’ve had kids “boarding” for thirty-four of the forty-forty years.  Without even needing a calculator, we added eight Baptisms, eight First Communions, and eight Confirmations.  We have eleven grandkids, have six married kids and have lived in three houses.  Our kids have participated in eleven different organized sports – soccer, tennis, baseball, wrestling, basketball, swimming, softball, track, gymnastics, cross-country and volleyball.  We’ve negotiated the purchase of eight kid-cars on some very questionable and very-used car lots.  We have two Eagle Scouts, we’ve sent seven checks to Outward Bound, sent one boy to Space Camp, and sold more than several thousand boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

We’ve had forty-four Christmas trees tied to the roof of the car. Two fell off.  We’ve attended dozens of school skating parties, hosted a boatload of slumber parties, resulting in sleep deprivation all while listening to the stereophonic sound of giggling girls.  We’ve attended 120 school conferences, some of which went better than others.  We’ve waited by the mailbox for sixteen ACT test results.  I don’t even want to know how many college tuition checks we wrote, even with scholarships factored in.

We’ve called in hundreds of lukewarm pizza delivery dinners and buckled in for eight hair-raising efforts to teach kids to drive.  We watched one kid take her “maiden voyage” riding with two wheels on the sidewalk and two on the road, halfway down the block. (They couldn’t have covered that in Driver’s Ed???)  We spent dozens of Christmas Eves putting together Little Tykes kitchens, tool benches and outdoor playhouses.  We’ve picked up thousands of Playmobiles and Legos scattered throughout the house, including under the couch cushions, in the air vents and in the dryer’s lint catcher. We’ve walked the neighborhood in rain, shine and sleet conditions for Halloween trick-or-treating.

We’ve read thousands of bedtime stories, poured gallons of milk into sippy cups, and made hundreds of trips to the pediatrician – including two broken collar bones, one from a kid running around the corner in socks on a slick wood floor, the other from a kid catapulting herself out of her crib. And oh yeah, a compound fracture on the playground.

We’ve played hundreds of games of Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders and Old Maid.  We’ve scheduled untold number of every-six-month dentist visits.  I’ve said a million “Hurry ups”.  We’ve ridden to Osceola, Missouri for Boy Scout Summer Camp a dozen times.  We have one sorority kid who pledged Theta. I baked a stratospheric number of cupcakes and cookies for school functions.  There were many, many skinned knees, covered by any number of cartoon band-aids.  We buried both sets of parents.  We scheduled five tonsillectomies.  We’ve welcomed two cats, one snake, dozens of hermit crabs, two rabbits and dozens of gerbils who didn’t even pretend to understand overpopulating.

I said hundreds of “Stop it’s”, wiped away a million tears and perfected multiple teenage “attitude correction” conversations.  (Okay, monologues)  I listened to “Maaa-ummmm” yelled from three rooms away, which meant something catastrophic happened, like an overflowing toilet, a toddler running around the house with a permanent marker with no cap or a baseball that just came through the living room window. Two of the kids won the M.S. Read-a-thon.  We spent our summer vacations, eighteen of them, in Chatham, Massachusetts.

I tied the laces on a million shoes and carted kids to before-school orthodontist appointments where more often than not I left feeling like the bad-mom because the orthodontist figured out that whatever-kid-it-was wasn’t being “retainer compliant”.

A life full, hearts overflowing.  Sometimes it was hard, when a day felt like a long week.  When the exhaustion was so overwhelming, I wondered if this parenting thing was a good idea – (don’t judge, you’ve had the same thought!) But always something yanked me back from that poor-me precipice…..a kid coming through the front door with a fistful of tulip flowers, crushed in their tiny hand, or an I’m sorry” with a quivering bottom lip and eyes ready to splash tears. Or an adult kid, managing a cross-country move, or new parents able to see the miracle of identical twin boys who demand so very much of the mom and dad, or a kid who stumbles, picks themselves up, brushing off the disappointment and trying yet again.

It is these moments, these moments, for which we live our lives.

 

 

 

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