Meanderings

I just erased probably 200 words, decided they weren’t worth your time. Here’s a cute kid instead.
Mayhem: Mom, I slept wrecklessly last night!
Thora: Wrecklessly, huh? Do you mean restlessly?
Mayhem: Well, my covers were all thrown off and I almost fell out of bed.
Thora: I guess you were sleeping wrecklessly.

Advertisements

Filtering

Ever have one of those moments when you see yourself for who you really are–and it’s not pretty? Happened to me last night.

I was standing across from her, noticing her trendy, highlighted haircut and her pretty dress. She complimented me on my tights, I returned with a comment about her nifty boots. And then she had to walk away to take care of something, and as I watched her, I found myself looking for a flaw. Was there a run in her tights? Perhaps that dress didn’t fit as well as I thought?

And then I realized what I was doing. I wasn’t just looking for a flaw…I was looking for failure. I was trying to find some small area where I could say, “See! She doesn’t have that right! I’m better than her!”

What a pitiful, small way to live! And that’s been eating at me all morning. Is this really what I do? Do I really watch and wait, smile and compliment, all the while searching for something in the other person that I can find fault in, something to draw my attention off of my own failings?

If she speaks harshly to her children, then I can say I am better than her, I, who never raises my voice but can use it to cut. If I condemn her behavior, then I don’t have to deal with my own lack of self-discipline. If her haircut isn’t quite up to today’s standards, then my insecurities about my own style can be held at bay.

Except for this: I think I also assume that everyone is doing the same thing to me. If I am critiquing every person I come in contact with, then certainly they must have an equally watchful eye trained on me. What pressure! I sat at a Christmas party the other night, painfully aware that my socks weren’t working with my outfit. My socks. There’s this perceived pressure I’m dragging around with me all of the time, and I’m extending it to those around me.

And now it’s hitting me. Smiddy said something the other day, that he tries to see me the way God sees me. How often do I do that? Have I ever done that? I filter me, and those around me, through this sieve of failings, but that’s not how God sees me.

So…today, I’m trying to see me (and my children, and those I come into contact with) the way God sees me. I’m packing suitcases and fighting off this weird seasonal vertigo thing, and I’m trying to look past failings and irritations, trying to find the grace for myself that I know God gives.

Standing Still

The children were talking about an upcoming visit to Kansas this morning.  They are excited to fly on an airplane, and to see their friends again.  What I noticed was that they speak of their friends as if the friends haven’t changed in the ten months since they have been together.  I wondered if they will have trouble connecting with their friends–after all, my children are different people than they were almost-a-year-ago, and their friends will be, too.  

We change a little every day, and yet, because that change is so minute, we rarely recognize it in ourselves until we look back and compare our now-self to our then-self.  Not only that, but we affect those around us–and they affect us–in so many ways.  We’re growing to fit each other, usually, I think.  So when we move away, when our contact grows farther between and our lives no longer intertwine, then the little sprouts of our lives begin to shoot out in their own directions.  

I wonder if Mayhem’s quiet friend will still be willing to let Mayhem take the lead in everything, or if she will have found a voice of her own.  Will Frienzy’s clingy friend still need so much, or will it be Frenzy left wishing for more?  

All of these questions today, and even they are shaping me and my actions….because none of us are standing still.

Some Days

Some days, you wake up and you grab onto that sunrise, seeing it as God speaking to you, reassuring you, reminding you that He’s got this, He’s in control.

Some days, you use too many commas and you don’t bother to try to fix it.

Some days, you realize that what isn’t said is far more important than what is.

Some days, you write it all down, hoping that will help you remember what the issues are and what needs working on.

Some days, you find old letters to God, old pleas for help and comfort, efforts to sort it all out, and you remember that there is nothing new under the sun.

And some days–you work out and get on with the day because it isn’t going to get any better if you sit here moping about it.

Snippets

Mayhem: I saw a dress you might like, Mommy. But it was skinnier than you.

Thora: Well, it was nice of you to think of me.

Mayhem: It was taller than you, too. You’re really not that tall.

Thora: Any other compliments you’d like to pay me?

Mayhem (looks me up and down, finally says): Your shoes and your shirt match!

Gift in the Blackberry Patch

I was deep in the blackberry patch tonight, edging in around trailing thorns, reaching for that almost-unattainable perfect berry, ignoring petty scratches and hair blown into face. I crouched down for another clump of glistening dark, then glanced up to swipe hair away. And there, against the sky, was a gift.

It was just a weed, really, and one almost dead. But …spiring seed pod with tendrils reaching for sky, so beautiful that I stopped just to look. Each one stood strong, alone against the wind and the cars that shoot by, not knowing or caring if anyone would ever take the time to appreciate.

And my first thought was that I wanted to take a picture, post it to my timeline, text it to my sister, something, some way to share it.

But I didn’t.

Because, I realized, this gift was to be enjoyed by just me. It felt like a gift from God after a long week and a longer day…a reminder of strength and peace. And I didn’t need to share it or have others like it to validate the gift.

So I left it there, un-documented, lonely still.

I glanced back as I worked, noting the silhouette against the darkening sky, another clump of pods here and there.

I was refreshed. Like the rain fall yesterday…standing in the garage watching it sheet down over half-harvested wheat, filling my heart and renewing mind, bringing its own flood of thankfulness.

I may yet journey out with my camera to capture the stark beauty of the seed pods found tonight, and those images will be my gift to you…and my reminder that not every gift needs confirmation, likes, shares, validation, to be worth enjoying.

How Do I Loathe Thee?

CostCo, how do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways:

  1. Thine parking lots are much too small, causing much consternation amongst myself and all other road-weary travelers.
  2. Thou persists in hiding merchandise in the least likely spots, causing me to trek back and forth among the throngs of people, grumbling all the while.
  3. Thou carryest not in one store the products I find in another, meaning I canst not count on finding everything on my bulk list in any one trip.
  4. Thou dost NOT mark thine aisles with contents, so I must journey up and down each aisle to find the goods I seek…and must often consult employees, many of whom also know not where thine goods are kept.
  5. Thou hirest not nearly enough checkers, so that I must stand in line with three tired children, trying to not bump into or be bumped by all the other cranky housewives and their children, while the few available cashiers work as slowly as possible.
  6. Thou drawest crowds of people who prefer to walk slowly down the middle of each aisle, turning to the side only when I attempteth to passeth them.
  7. Thou art not, nor will ever be, Sam’s Club.

More Vic

The dutch oven was scraped clean, and the cake had a large portion cut out of it.  It was the peaceful part of a celebration where bellies and hearts are satisfied, that lull where everyone settles for a moment.

And then…gifts.

The girls loved the presents Vic had chosen, thanking her and Charles over and over.  Janie immediately put her wrap on, and the blue of her eyes sparkled against the cream color and her happiness.  Emmie wanted to go home right away to hang her wind chime, but Steven talked her into waiting until they’d had a chance to Skype with Michael.

They had planned to include Michael in the gifts, but somehow the internet connection from overseas wouldn’t quite connect.  They got glimpses of the face Janie longed to see, but couldn’t converse.  Finally, they decided to go ahead with the final gifts.

There were two envelopes, one for Janie, one for Ellie.  The girls opened them together, their gasps of excitement sounding almost simultaneously.  While they grasped the portent of their gifts right away, Vic did not.

Vic, Continued

As it happened, both daughters-in-laws had birthdays within two weeks, and they often chose to celebrate together. This year, Vic offered to host so each girl could have a night off.

As she stepped into the guest bathroom to do a quick swish and swipe, the new towels caught her eye. They were almost hidden in a basket near the tub, and Vic wondered if Janie would be hurt not to find them hanging from the towel rods. The thing was, when she put those fancy towels out, the rest of the bathroom began to look…drab. The buttercream walls she’d always loved, the simple green glass soap pump near the sink–suddenly the bathroom almost seemed in need of a makeover. And if it had reflected who she was, but now needed a makeover, what did that say about her?

It was bad enough, having that frilly apron stare her in the face every time she opened the kitchen drawer she’d stuffed it in. She had tried hanging it from a hook in the pantry, but it seemed to mock her, pointing out to everyone who passed by that it didn’t fit…or that she didn’t.

Vic gave herself a mental shake; she didn’t have time to spend pondering frilly towels and lacy aprons.  Everyone would arrive in an hour, and she still had to wrap gifts.  She’d chosen each gift carefully, trying to pick something that would be meaningful and useful.

For Janie, she had found the first gift at the store Janie worked at.  She knew Janie often admired the items for sale, but couldn’t afford the couture prices.  With a little help from a sales girl willing to point out a few of Janie’s favorites, and a well-timed sale, Vic had managed to purchase a frothy confection of creamy crochet and lace that the sales girl called a wrap.

The second gift, for Emmie, had been a little harder.  She had scoured garden shops, contemplated at nurseries, even wandered into a few home and ranch stores, hoping for something to jump out at her.  Finally, she’d found directions online to create a tinkling wind chime and spent hours assembling the thing.  She was sure Emmie would love it.

The smell of her famous southwest chilli mac seeped into the craft room where Vic was finishing her wrapping job.  She checked the progress of the dish cooking in the dutch oven and started to get the rest of the food on to the table.

Vic, So Far

Vic stared at the package on her lap, almost horrified at the contents, aware that all eyes were watching for her reaction.  Finally, she peeled the rest of the paper and tissue away and held the item up for everyone in the circle to view.  What had Ellie been thinking?  Was she really expected to wear this bit of pink and lace around the house…in front of Charles, even?  She was almost embarrassed just to have it in her hands.

“Thanks, Ellie.  I really appreciate you thinking of my on my birthday.”  Even to Vic’s ears, the words fell a little flat.  She laid the apron back into the gift box and reached for the next package.  This one contained a full set of bathroom towels in a delicate shade of lavendar…with lace and flowers along the edge.  A soft loofah and a bottle of bubble bath were tucked in with the towels.

Again, Vic was at a loss.  Was she expected to use these bits of fluff or just let them sit around and collect dust?  “Wow, Janie.  You really put a lot of thought into this.”

The next item was from Charles.  Surely his gift would be usable, practical.  She had circled a large dutch oven in the Cabela’s catalog, and the vacuum had been squealing for months now.  He handed her a card, and she hoped for a gift card or note explaining that her new dutchie and Hoover were hiding in the garage.  Instead, the card held a gift certificate.  For two days spent at the local spa.  She almost laughed, thinking it a joke, and then saw the ernest, hopeful look on Charles’ face.  Thirty-two years of marriage, and somehow he didn’t know her at all!  “Charles…I don’t even know what to say.  Thank you.”

She gathered up the wrappings and gifts, stowed them on the counter, and moved to the birthday cake.  She’d baked it herself: two layers of white cake frosted with caramel frosting.  She had considered it pretty fancy–until she compared it to this stack of frilly gifts.  What had they all been thinking?


Later, Vic stood in front of the sink, brushing her teeth and scrubbing her face.  She stared into the mirror, evaluating the curves and planes that made up her face.  Clear green eyes gazed back, framed by dark brows and darker hair.  There were laugh lines at the corners of her eyes and the suggestion of more to come near her mouth.  And there was nothing fancy about her at all.  Even the plain t-shirt and pants she wore to bed spoke more to comfort than style.  It ran through her mind again:  What had they all been thinking?

——————————————————————————————-

Vic was christened Victoriana Elaine, just about the most feminine name a new mother could come up with for her first daughter.  Unfortunately, Vic’s twin brother came stillborn and Vic’s mother followed him to the quiet plot on the hill behind the church just a few days later.  To Vic’s way of thinking, all her mother ever gave her was an ill-fitting name and a fear of childbirth.

When she was four, Victoriana and her father moved in with her grandfather, and then an uncle found himself crashing on the sofa.  Vic’s name was shortened to Toria, then Torie.  By high school she had forgone the second half of her name and started to go by Vic.  She led her basketball team to championship and gave serious consideration to trying out for the football team.  She hung with the guys and often considered herself to be one of them.

Vic met Charles in college, and the thing she loved most about him was that he never expected her to be something she didn’t want to be.  They went to sporting events together, watched action movies and slugged down beers.  He was the first one to kiss her, and she was surprised at the very womanly response of her body.

She wore a pantsuit to their wedding:  elegant white lines and just a bit of sheen.  She carried a single calla lily and he wore one in his boutinaire.  A handful of  people mistook her young stepmother in white lace for the bride.


Despite her fear of childbirth, Vic gave birth to two sons.  She raised them to be manly men but also taught them the gentleness that a woman seeks.  She was comfortable in her home with her men, and she rarely wondered about the raising of girls, much less wished for it.

And then her men got married.

————————————————————————————————

Vic had three men:  her husband Charles, and two strapping sons:  Steven and Michael.  Both married lovely (if girlish) girls and seemed deeply blissful.  Then Steven was called up for deployment in the current Conflict and he left Janie in the care of his parents.  Vic loved Janie, but while Vic had grown up playing “Davy Crockett” in the woods, Janie must have spent the greater portion of her childhood wearing tiaras and plastic heels.

The guest room quickly went from something Marilla might have decorated in Green Gables to seeming to have the contents of two or three Victorian mansions fitted into it.  Little bits of ribbon and lace appeared on coffee tables (and in the laundry, but that was another story altogether); the fridge was suddenly bedecked with flower and butterfly magnets holding photo after photo of Steven.

But Vic managed.  Occasionally she sighed and returned a particularly feminine item to Janie’s quarters, but she never complained.  She simply went to her own simple suite and closed the door for a while, basking in the creams and sea-blues that refreshed her soul.

Then Michael and Ellie bought the house next door.

Vic was thrilled.  Of course, Ellie soon had the flower gardens blooming with all manner of flora, and Michael happily dug up and raised new beds on the weekends.  There were wrought iron shepherd’s hooks and bird houses and feeders and baths all over the yard, and Vic’s gazing ball on pedestal began to look forlorn in the small bed by the steps.

Yes, Vic loved her girls.  She often watched them when they were unaware, trying to understand them, to see what she was missing–if anything.  She was happy as she was, and they were happy as they were.

So when her birthday celebration rolled around, she couldn’t understand what had happened.  Did they want her to change?  Did even Charles wish she was the sort of person who needed to be pampered and polished?