Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Lifesaving Skill of Floating

Our favorite family comedian does a bit about having four kids.  It goes something like, “You know what it’s like having a fourth kid? Imagine you’re drowning, then someone hands you a baby.”

He nails it...and it doesn't seem to get any easier.

The only way to survive parenting four children is to teach them to swim, all of them - even the little ones.  Especially the little ones.  Teach them to be resourceful, find flotation devices when possible and conserve energy.   Teach them the lifesaving skill of floating.  A skill, I might add, that has been perfected by my mother who we believe was an otter in her past life.

To survive as one of four in our family you can not afford to let things drag you down.  You have to make do and move on.  Mini-Monkey, now affectionately known as "Moody-Monkey" wore Middle-Monkey's old baseball cleats last year in the snow complete with bread bag sock covers.  And she survived.

Could we afford new snow boots?  Sure!  Does she have an army of people who will buy her anything her heart desires? Absolutely.

Yet somehow size 4 snow boots fell through the cracks.  We missed the boat and Moody found herself bootless for the Big Snow.

She had a choice - sit inside lamenting her lot in life - wishing she had appropriately sized girl boots or improvise.

And now this is her story.

Concrete evidence of her problem solving skills, flexibility and innovation showcased with a solution sans parent.

And just where exactly was I when the "cleat-clad" child took to the winter wonderland?  Who knows...Maybe at work? Maybe cracked out on a street corner - that part of the story is hers to embellish each time she tells the tale...

The point is that Moody Monkey worked it out on her own.  Resourcefulness is the gift that keeps on giving and it's never too soon to start.  

There are many times that I lament the fact that my children do not have a "matching Tupper Ware," "remember the teacher gift" kind of mom.  Most days I flail wildly in the choppy waters of parenthood trying to not to drown.

But every now and then I allow the buoyancy of the sea to support the weight of my body.  I stop fighting against the waves and I float.

Head back, eyes to God, every ounce of my being filled with gratitude, thankful for all of my blessings.  In those moments I can see so clearly what a gift it is to learn to float.  I am so happy that our parenting style is making our children into capable, apt adults, the kind of people you would want to spend time with.

For a moment I am confident that we are, in fact, doing it right...

And then I say a little prayer that someday their therapist will explain it all to them the same way.  

Monday, December 19, 2016

Quality Control

Words fail me.

I am trying to explain to my children why their father isn't "qualified" to coach football this upcoming season.  After 3 years of coaching football, 25-3 record, and dozens of supportive parents and happy players -- he is now considered "unqualified."

Sliding in the space between angry wife and protective parent I want to be diplomatic.  I want to be positive.  I want to find the silver-lining lesson.

But I can't.  Because this is a hatchet job.  Plain and simple.

Leaving only one question,  "Why?"

Their father is their hero.  He's mine too.

He is strong, sturdy and solid.  Like quality oak furniture.

Not many frills, just clean, classic lines.  His style doesn't suit everyone but there is no denying his quality craftsmanship.

He's a little rough in some places and like oak, he has a coarse texture that with a little effort can be sanded extremely smooth revealing a beautiful inner grain.

But this hatchet job has done a number on him.  This gash, this break in his confidence allows the doubt to creep in.

And now he is hurting.  He is broken in more ways than one. The wound to the wood compromises the structural integrity of this once solid man.

Now when pressure is applied the crack lengthens and threatens to snap the great piece in two, down to the deepest grain.

Though this crack can be repaired, the oak will never again be the same.  Some glue and some screws will hold together the once flawless wood with a lick and a promise.

But there is no way to truly repair the damage.  No way to fix this wrong.  And the loss is ours.

His optimism is fractured , splintered and jagged with sharp points jutting out.  His glass half-full lies shattered on the ground, his bright-side is dimmed.

Oak, like the father of my children is incredibly durable, a favorite choice of wood workers.  Oak like my husband is accepting of stains and lacquers better than most - the workhorse of wood.  But oak, like my husband must be cared for properly.  

After being left out in the elements, my great oak has become dry, brittle and in need of conditioning.
This great broken oak will be beautiful again but has been forever changed.  Once the support beam of our family he now needs to let others brace him.  He rests some of the weight on those who love him. The initial adjustment was scary, uncomfortable and uncertain but the new structure is exciting and unique - and most of all, stronger than ever.  

My love is as sturdy as an oak.