Sunday, November 13, 2016

Glass Ceilings, Girls, And Margret Thatcher


So here we are wrapping up the week of yet another American election, and a doozy of an election it was. Unpredictable to the point that all the deodorant companies made a tidy little profit, I'm sure. There were just so many factors that, if I could put a picture to it, were like low-hanging fruit on the branching tree of American history. Not the least of these was our very first female presidential candidate who, understandably, was quite a hero in many eyes. Another was an all-party defying business man who represented something of the old forgotten patriotic spirit of "power to the people" and all that. His ended up the more tempting fruit, which was equally understandable.

Despite the "the people having spoken," there's still shouts of racial this, sexist that, bigot here, phobia there reverberating through these following days. Frankly, I'd say it sounds strikingly similar to the temper tantrums my toddlers throw, but even they're more controlled than some of the population, it seems. One tirade that recently caught my eye informed the female population we're all going to die now and even went as far as to imply that had Jesus been in the running, he would have looked strikingly similar to our female hopeful, so we basically just voted Him out. Um, my friend, I think the more obvious concern there is that if we were voting Jesus in for the presidency then we'd also be electing God as judge - sure you're ready for that? But I digress, because what I'm most confused by is the reaction of the motherhood of the nation who keep moaning something about what they're going to tell their daughters? Now, I'm a mother too so that lumps me in there with the rest, but this... this just sends my eyebrows halfway up my forehead in the perplexed question of, "about what, exactly?"

Because I know exactly what to tell them.

We'll tell them the names of pilgrim women who feebly stepped from rickety ship to wild land with everything they'd ever known, everything, an ocean away for the sake of freedom.

We'll hint that Jane Austin would make a fascinating dinner guest to sit next to, what with her truthful observation of human nature perfectly swirled with Sahara-worthy dry humor, both of which helped make her little novels relevant long after her death.

We'll bring to life the battle in which Molly Pitcher, crouched over wounded soldiers with her pitcher of water, saw her husband collapse, and watch with our girls as she sprinted over body and brush to take his place at one of the few firing cannons that kept the enemy from advancing.

We'll sit them next to Rosa Parks on a cool December evening in Alabama as she calmly sent a resounding trumpet note of human equality from the bus seat she refused to rise from.

We'll introduce them to Margret Thatcher as a young girl who dusted shelves in her Father's grocer, and whisper in their ears that she went on to become the first female Prime Minister of Britain and be known as "the iron lady" because. . . Well, you see what I mean.

If the currently protesting daughters of today knew these women of yesterday not as names in a textbook but as living, breathing, hope filled, chance taking, failing, succeeding, courageous friends. . . would they still be pooping on signs, burning flags, and moaning that the world is at an end? Be honest, because I'm not seeing it.

I get that a female just lost out and that losing is a wretched feeling, but so what. I don't see that as any reason for handing out failure on a golden platter or doom and gloom in a gift wrapped package. Has the "everyone is a winner" mentality so wrecked us that we can't see the opportunity for inspiration here? (Besides the lesson that you don't get anywhere by lying, cheating, and shoving your way to the top, ahem). So, a glass ceiling wasn't shattered. If it means that much don't whine about it, go shatter it.

For now, please excuse me while I dive beneath my pillow to stay until certain fellow countrymen quit embarrassing us all by moving beyond toddlerhood.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Cheers, It's That Time Of Year


As I sit to type this, it's Sunday, and not just any Sunday, it's time change Sunday.

This is that dreaded time of year that mothers everywhere raise their ten daily cups of coffee to call cheers to one another in the shared solidarity of 4am mornings. Dear Father Time decided to take an extra hour's snooze, did he? Well the children saw no reason to do the same, I assure you. Already, we've already read several books, played a rousing game of tennis, rambled around the neighborhood, pulled out the arts and crafts box, and eaten our way through a batch of salt crusted chocolate chip cookies, and what time is it? . . . 10am? Ah, yes, well, I think I need another cup of coffee. Cheers.

In truth, it's not as bad as all that. This year, Lanna's been offering a helping hand with this and that, and her wit shines vividly in the moments I need to gather myself. Out will come a stack of scratch paper, and as she hands 'round crayons and pencils she'll exhort the two little ones: "now don't go using these on the wall or furniture or YOU KNOW WHAT." Here, the little girls will look on with rounded eyes and crayons hanging from their anxiously puckered mouths as she ominously rattles a pen or two in the metal tin they're kept in. The little ones have absolutely no idea what the "what" is, and, frankly, I don't think Lanna does either, but it seems to work pretty well for her. I really admire her tactful dramatic flair there.

Speaking of pens, Wren just peered around the corner with one dangling from her mouth. She learned just last night that these magical tools her sisters always seem to have in hand actually make marks on things if you apply them just so. Glory! I wish you could have seen the way her face lit up when she realized the clever thing she was doing; it looked something like when someone yanks the chain of a lamp in a dark room and it's instantly transformed with a pleasantly warm glow A special moment, however ominous for me.

This may be a touch off topic, but it still catches me off guard how much of life is bulked into these small moments. There'll be a bedtime story here and a stack of dirty dishes there; teaching small fingers to tie a bow today, passing another hot cup of coffee into large fingers tomorrow; stirring oatmeal one moment and tackling the building of a block castle the next. In exchanging pleasantries and all that with an old friend the other evening, I summarized things here at home as being in "a season of consistency." She responded with a sort of chuckle and admitted that consistency is something she's not great at. Her honesty made me smile because I don't think there are many who could say otherwise, but it suddenly struck me how much of that stiff unfamiliarity it still holds for myself. It's shameful to own up to this, but this season of consistency has shown me just how small my faith is.

Living on the brink of barely-making-it for so long got me used to that warmth that came with active faith. Or, maybe not "warmth" as much as familiarity. When you don't have enough in the bank for food or the next semester's tuition, faith looks like praying and trusting and waiting. When you're faced with a two way street of decisions and aren't sure of the right way, you pray and trust and wait again. Etc etc. But, what in the world does active faith look like while rocking screaming babies, sorting a mountain range of laundry, or singing the alphabet to splashing bathers? I know where your mind is wandering and no, I'm not saying my faith was built on the fluff of emotion. What I am saying is that every day laundry sorting, alphabet singing, baby rocking, budget setting, coffee grinding, time change adjusting faith is hard. Dare I say, harder than the other? I mean, if I can face an empty bank account with more courage than another night of lost sleep, what does that say about my faith?

Did I really just write that down?

The girls are all here now, piled in and around my lap, and I'm chugging yet another cup of coffee as I try to hear what they're all saying as they excitedly chatter over one another. What does the faith look like in this moment. Not glamorous, that's for sure. And as I mull it over for the five hundredth time today, I'm thinking that maybe it's just the sort of question I'm never supposed to stop asking, because the moment I do is the moment I'll idolize my efforts. Maybe it's one of those questions you simply answer with "don't grow weary in this; you'll reap a harvest in time if you don't give up."

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

In Which The Trees Begin To Smolder



The trees started smoldering today.

I noticed it as I glanced up on my way to the mail box. The tips of our neighborly Japanese Maples, usually so green, were dancing as newly birthed flames of red and gold against blue sky. Plodding back with an armload of uninteresting mail, I glanced up again. It was such a warming sight and certainly made up for the lack of pleasantries in the box, I mused, willing my bare feet to pad more slowly along the warm cement path behind the quicker pace of the girls.

Late afternoon found me drowning desires for a nap in the steaming depths of milky apple-sage coffee. The girls were off with Luana making up for play days lost to an autumn cold, so Will and I had snatched the opportunity to hold a proper conversation with one another. He's been buried beneath a literal mountain of deadlines this month and I've been busy with my own respective doings, so it was nice to exchange more than the usual snippets of this and that. On the way home, I glanced over the rim of my cup to the trees flitting speedily past my window and realized that the same seasonal display was occurring beyond our neighborhood. Everywhere, trees are sparking a spreading blaze of red, yellow, gold, burgundy. . . . An unusual display for a sunny coast.

I adore autumn but have never quite been able to reconcile myself to our nontraditional version. There's no real call for heavy knits and hot cider; no smoky hints in the air; no true battle between fire and frost. This year though, as I'm caught off guard by the fast advent of the season, I'm doubly surprised to find myself not minding our usual mild autumnal nod. 

I like that I can swathe the girls in sweaters and let them tramp about with bare toes; that we can enjoy warm days at the beach yet come home to combat cooler evenings with hot soup; that every call for use of our unromantic gas powered hearth and every leafy fluttering of crimson and gold never fails to bring wondrous delight. Best though, is this slow enlightening that it's not just the cozy exterior of the season that enchants me, but also the mystique and richness of it. Knowing this, I think I'm learning to dip below the multi-faceted surface of it all and enjoy it regardless of the particular facet facing me. 

But I mean, I really can't help but love a good tree smoldering.