Saturday, September 25, 2010

What Matters

The thought occurred to me today that some of the most important things in life are the relationships we keep (and *how* we keep them), being creative and resourceful when needs arise, and learning to be content with what we have. Or maybe I should say that those have been some of the most important things in *my* life. When I was a single mom, being creative with what I had--physically, relationally, and in all other imaginable ways--was extremely important.

I get *very* distracted from those things now that life is not quite so demanding as it once was. Relationally, my difficulty is most pronounced when my kids ask me to do thus and so on a Saturday, and I'm so busy folding laundry that I miss the opportunity entirely. Being Busy is the number one joy-stealing culprit of my relationship with my kids. Not to harp on it, but this may come of having been a single mother for years. There was one bread-winner, one house-cleaner, one child-rearer, one planner-of-all-things for said child. How much time did I have for fun with my kid back then? And yet during those very busy years, I was deliberate about making sure my son had time with people other than me, especially kids. And I made sure he was loved by as many healthy, stable adults as I could muster to my aid.

However, I also bore the burden of the aforementioned responsibilities alone. Now that I don't, I can't imagine why the sense of busyness and urgency persists. I have five days out of almost every seven when my children are at school, and plenty of time during those days to get stuff done when the baby is napping. If I don't get it done by the end of the day, there are two parents in this household, and we work together to get things done. Not to mention the fact that my school-aged children are PLENTY old enough to make themselves useful.

During the single-parenting years, I was extremely creative with my belongings--my clothing, my furniture, objects of high artistic potentiality (I find artistic potentiality everywhere), curtains, vases, pictures by my son. I didn't have much of monetary value, but what I had, I made count. If space was lacking, I was creative with my floor plan, and I used what I had to make it feel like home. If I couldn't find something dressy in my closet, I created it myself. I may have seemed a bit eccentric, but it was an honest eccentricism. I used what I had to make something beautiful, if a bit unorthodox.

So back to what was my original line of thought:

I need to unlearn busyness. I think my husband might giggle to hear me say that (I'll find out soon enough) because I'm the world's worst procrastinator. But even when I'm procrastinating, I live in a pretty near constant state of feeling as if there's something I'm missing, and if I don't get it done, no one will.

I also need to unlearn the assumption that if there's nothing in my closet that appeals to me, there must be something lacking in my wardrobe. PAH! There was a day when I was known for my creativity with what I had available to me in my closet. I have somehow gotten away from that creativity, and I'm intending to find it again.

In a related vein, when did buying things become the answer to the [lack of] space issues in my house? First of all, I know a great many people who make do with far less space than I have, and just as many kids. In the same way that I was once known for my creativity with my wardrobe, I was also pretty well admired for my ability to make any space my own, and comfortable, without spending a dime. Let's find that again, shall we?

And most importantly, I have GOT to learn how to give an unqualified yes when my children want to spend time with me and I am able. This is, perhaps, the most difficult item on my list, because I'm not looking to RElearn it. I am not good at stopping what I'm doing, whether it's a want-to-do or a need-to-do item, and giving of my person to my kids. I'm good at doing *for* them--painting, cleaning, cooking, driving to activities. But painting *with* them? Stopping cleaning to play checkers *with* them? Going to the activity and enjoying it *with* them? I don't think I'm so good at these things. Ok, so I hate checkers. I don't play checkers with anyone. That's quite beside the point. This brand of busyness I have learned, wherever I have learned it, has got to be unlearned.

On that note, I'll close this post, because there aren't any words I need to write at this moment that are more important than the sleep that's waiting for me. Priorities. I think that's what I was getting at here, though I never said the word.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Manufactured Need

It happens every year at the changes of the seasons--at the end of winter and at the end of summer: I forget why I avoid the mall, Target, Old Navy and the like. I have enough of anything I could possibly need, and yet I walk into places that tell me I don't have enough, and nine times out of ten, I go for the bait. Even if I don't buy anything, I walk out of the store with a sort of manufactured sense of need. I'm aware of what's happening. I know it's false. But I still experience it. This particular sort of materialism is one of the banes of my existence. It's particularly tempting this season, having just given birth and feeling rather uncomfortable in my skin no matter what I'm wearing.

This year, I think I'm going to make do with what I have, and try to realize at more than an intellectual level that I'm not really making do. I have so much more than I need. One more sweater, or that shirt or dress that seems so perfect I can't pass it up, won't add to my beauty or my worth. It's just another thing to hang in my closet with the myriad other items I couldn't live without last year or the year before.


21 September 2010

Every stretch once contained
the trying to learn each muscle effort
required to shake the shackles of sleep.
She's better at it now, looks
less dainty than she did just days ago.
Her muscles move intentionally,
in response to something more than reflex.
My little Daisy, already less little than before.

Early Morning

20 September 2010

Refrigerator hummmmmmms.
Scritch scritch scritch scritch.
Tapity tapity tapity tapity comes the dog
down the hallway, where
a clock ticks audibly somewhere out of sight.
I sniff sniff SNEEZE to the whrrrrr and whiff
of the ceiling fan;
watch the sun slowly sigh through
the autumn breeze; the silent trees.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Learning to Finish

I have said often in the last few years that I'm a starter, not a finisher. To wit, I had 2 murals, a dozen paintings, and a quilt started, along with various other sewing and other types of projects I was intending to get to. I think I had just accepted this as the way I function, and had ceased even to try to catch up.

Here lately, I've been attempting to remedy that. I finished my daughter's quilt, made significant progress on a bathroom mural, made my younger daughter's baptismal gown, and completed a computer bag for myself. I still have a quilt to make for my son, the mural in the bathroom and a mural in the stairway to complete, and several paintings for which I've never been quite sure how to bring about resolution. But I'm on my way.

In the interest of keeping myself accountable: I intend to finish the bathroom mural next, hopefully within a week. Pictures will be posted on Facebook. Stay tuned...

George MacDonald

"Home is ever so far away in the palm of your hand, and how to get there it is of no use to tell you. But you will get there; you must get there; you have to get there. Everybody who is not at home, has to go home."

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