Musings from the Midwest

Month: August 2021

Summer’s Here & Summer’s Gone

Ahhhhh, is it time for
Sleepy summer days
Lazy hammock breezy days
          Catching rays and catching waves
          Flying flags and big parades
               Crickets chirp and birds serenade
               Grills are lighted and friendships made

Busy nights, busy days
Busy bees with bills to pay
Holidays and dream vacas
          Boredom, doldrums, lemonade
          TV, TV, DVD me, catching up on all my streaming
               Nothing to do, nothing to say
               This break is too long the parents complain

Busy bees it’s time to rest
Nowhere to go, nothing to do
Hibernate til summer’s through
          Too hot to move, too hot to rest
          Summer summer at its best
               Sipping drinks and garden flowers
               Mowing neighbors wave and talk for hours

Cooler nights and cooler days
Back to school commercials rave
          Get your deals and get them fast
          Summer days won’t always last.
               Frenzied frantic, almost done
               Summer days, and exhausted fun.
               Summer’s here and summer’s gone.

Gabriele Replogle originally posted on Commonway Blog June 29.2019

Parenting Patiently

I know God must also be a woman, because no man would listen to your same problems a hundred times without sending you a not so subtle “how to fix this” billboard after hearing it more than two times.

People warn you, nothing can prepare you for parenting. No book, no manual, no amount of babysitting.  This is because never in a hundred years would you imagine your bedtime routine would be watching your 5 year old son wrestle with the 20 snap buttons on the onesie pajamas (which you had to shop for in the baby department) on his stuffie Pooh-bear and if you touch any part of these pajamas during this exercise all buttons are undone because he can and must “do it himself.”  Bedtimes with children are pure insanity. The child who had no words for you all day, who wanted to never sit for a book, or play a game with you, now has UNTOLD hours to waste.  One more song. One more tuck.  One more stuffie to snuggle. One more drink.  All needs that have been apparently unmet from the day have come like a dump truck and offloaded onto your waning patience.  It is the same child who interrupted your sleep at 3 am, who wanted to sleep at your feet, on your floor, anywhere but his bed, that now feels the pains of ‘lack of parental attention’ at 8pm.And for some reason, at this point of your sleep deprived day, your “cup does not runneth over.”

Children are curious creatures. Stubborn, independent, yet needy and as sweet as soft and moldable as butter on a hot day and I love my little buttercups.  But what’s frustrating is how simple the command to be patient has shamed untold generations of people who have untold problems that are unsolved.  “Love is patient, love is kind.”  What if that passage was more a definitive statement about what love feels like, rather than a command on doing the right thing? I can assure you, I cannot command myself to be more patient.  Have you ever tried this on any human?  “Now be patient. Your time will come!”  As if the mere logic will subdue the anguish of unresolved anticipation!  Of course, it would be absolutely fabulous if my children (or myself) could learn greater patience, but I can assure, it will not be from me quoting a bible verse or shaming them into submission.

Children learn patience, when they know that you see their need and know their need will be met.  They learn patience, when they have trust in you, the provider, the parent to work all things for their good.  They do not learn patience when they feel unheard, unseen and belittled for their true and inner desires.

When wise grandparents assure you that “this too shall pass”, in the end it is never comforting because you are not looking for relief in the future, you are looking for guidance now.  You don’t care that your 13 year old will unlikely try to cut her hair with cat nail clippers. You are concerned that she will do so again at the age of 3 after already mutilating her goldilocks weeks before her preschool photos.  And of course if vanity weren’t your only concern, her lack of remorse or understanding that this isn’t allowed is a bit appalling. Can’t she do “all things through Christ who gives her strength?”  I jest.  

Parenting as they say, “is not for the faint of heart.”  Of course, you know all of this, but for me the reality didn’t set in until I looked in the mirror and my first time pregnant body wasn’t modelesque but looked more akin to batman’s rival “The Penguin ” all tummy and a distinct waddle. And then my water birth plan was thrown out the window.  Apparently, even my 15 years of babysitting and nannying couldn’t prepare my body for the onslaught of high blood pressure and the trauma of birthing a 4 lb baby who needed to be in a NICU for 9 days, and who was nearly impossible to teach how to breastfeed.  With constant weight check ins, and lactation consultant appointments, and an infant who showed no sleep signals, my intro to babydom was an initial four months of chronic sleep deprivation for both of us– we were fragile and nearing exhaustion. 

For most of us parenting patiently becomes what feels like a thousand deaths a day. This newborn insanity of needs upon needs that rolls in like the tide without concern if we are anchored or ready is the beginning of the storm that will onslaught our delicate sensibilities, our own needs for sleep and tests us to our core.  Add another needy child or toddler to the mix and you got the makings of sainthood. And so it is no wonder that Mother God is the most patient of people, for she has birthed millions, she has cared for us all hours of everyday and has raised us and sustained us all. She’s carried the weight of our worries, shushed us to sleep and granted us one more cup of water until we lay our heads down to our final rest

And somewhere along the way we too gather endurance we didn’t think possible, abilities to function without 7 uninterrupted hours of sleep. Our hearts start to grow with love for something other than ourselves.  We gain an inner strength- and a core that allows us to surf the never ending tide of parenting responsibilities and surf them with skills that on occasion, make it look like a cakewalk.  But that doesn’t mean we don’t crash off the board from time to time or feel the endless paddling with waves unending or tidal waves that we can’t surmount. 

But our Mother God has shown us the way.  Parenting patiently doesn’t mean subduing our emotions and numbing them but in releasing them and learning to surf.  Patience isn’t the opposite of desire, it is the riding of a wave of desire to its final destination.  

This too shall pass isn’t patience, it’s grin your teeth and bare it– I want to ride it like the wave it is. I tally up some more daily deaths and I offer an ear, another cuddle, time for tucking in- sometimes with an eye roll or a sigh. I do my best to cut the toddlers hair into something resembling normal. Not ignoring the hard and the pure insanity of their needs or shaming my frustration. Maybe as a wise mother I too will put boundaries in place- this is your last request and then you’re on your own. Well not on your own, safe in the arms of your Mother God.

Strawberry Subterfuge

I’ve got this thing with strawberries.  This love/hate relationship.  I wait all year till they are “in season” and then I go slay me some strawberries and come home with the whole cardboard carrier each time.  I mean when they are good, they’re good. And luckily no one is allergic in our house and they freeze and everything is just groovy. 

Except when I get distracted or there’s that stinkin’ moldy one in the middle of the carton spreading it’s filth to the rest of them.  And you don’t know that as soon as you reach in to get a tasty red strawberry it’s going to implode on you and get it’s red guts all over the place.  Some of you might be concerned with my binging fruit purchasing habits (and don’t worry my husband is too), but I just can’t help myself. I have one kid who can plow through a whole carton in a morning.  And when they’re cheap, it’s like… why not?! Even if some go bad– it’s still worth it. They’re healthy and strawberry season comes once a year.

And don’t get me started on the whole fake strawberry industry.  Somehow they’ve genetically engineered some of the suckers to look like they’re ripe, but really they are completely white on the inside.  I call these “painted strawberries.”  You gotta test a few– see if they are actually real.  My mother, bless her, always kept her strawberries in the fridge, always.  Which means we probably never ate a ripe strawberry in our young life.  I REFUSE. Absolutely refuse to put any strawberry in the fridge. Is it ripe? Eat it or freeze it.  If it’s not, I’d rather let it ROT. 

Anyway, yesterday was one of the rotten days when time had gotten away from my strawberry sleuthing and practically a whole carton was worthless. What a disappointment. I like to think I’m somehow nourishing the soil by putting them down my garbage disposal since I gave up on composting, but I know better.

I feel like these last few weeks have been like that stinkin rotten strawberry carton. We’ve had some trauma, some disappointing heartache, and I’m just like- seriously?! This whole carton is wasted?  This whole thing– flippin- TRASH!?! It’s so disheartening and disillusioning.  

The sad part is our little trauma was like, perhaps the tip of the iceberg of someone else’s life altering trauma.  And I’m just MAD about it. I’m just fed up. Strawberries are supposed to be ripe, delicious and eaten.  Kids are supposed to be safe, loved, protected and cared for.  This moldy sneaky rotten whatevers that take what’s good and taint it. They make me mad. They make me fed up.  They make me disillusioned, helpless and just don’t even want to be reminded any more. 

Take the strawberries away and flush them down the sink. Take the trauma and stuff it. I don’t want it.  But I know I can’t do it.  My strawberries may not ruin the whole waterway system, but I can’t not deal with this hurt, this problem.  I can’t bury it.  I have to find its proper place. 

I have to go buy the flippin compost and stop wasting these fuzzy strawberries.  I have to use the destructors against themselves and bury it and then turn it over like 5 items. And then sift through it again and then use it to grow something new.  But it’s work, And I’m tired. And sometimes I just want to throw it in the plastic trash and pretend it’s not biodegradable.  

You know? “Do the work.” 

It feels so overwhelming. 

It’s so helpful when in trauma people throw you a life line. They say. Here, call this number#. Here talk to this person. I am HERE, if you need me.  You can do this. “I can do this.”  I can learn to compost. Someone send me the bucket. <I CAN DO HARD THINGS.>

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