Sunday, May 14, 2006

Ode to Mom But Not As Poetic As Intended

Most people who know me would be shocked to know that I am sitting here at a loss for words. I decided to sit down and type a wonderful "Ode to My Mom" or something that would serve as a fitting tribute. The thing is that I find myself not even knowing where to start.

Yesterday, my whole family, (the divorced side too), gathered to see Sarah perform at her dance recital. She was wonderful. Sarah really has a natural rhythm and energy about her that is infectious. Of course, Mom was there too. At dance recitals, for those who are uninformed about such matters, you don't just watch your child, you watch a whole show of all the children performing in their area of dance. Costumes, music, make-up... It is a whirl of activity! The children were all wonderful. The director had even put together a "Daddy-dance" in which dad's came out and performed with their little ones. It was the cutest thing ever. But, perhaps the thing that entertained me more was Mom's hysterical laughter while watching the little pre-school and kindergarten children perform. She was in stitches. Just because you put a fancy little costume on a child, do their hair, and make them look more precious than anyone could imagine, does not mean children are going to do what they are choreographed to do. Mom takes such delight in that... She loves to watch the children "dancing to their own beat".

I think one of the things I have grown to admire most about Mom in recent years, is her new-found ability to let us dance to our own beat. Sometimes, I'm sure that she isn't as delighted as she was when she was watching the pre-schoolers, but she honors our path and allows us to do whatever we need to do. She rejoices in our successes and prays for us throughout our struggles. Don't get me wrong. Mom isn't meek and mild. She has definite opinions about things. But, usually, she just gives her opinion and lets us make our own decisions.

Growing up, Mom was perfect. She was Supermom with a capital "S". My brother and I were always involved in different things. I took dance as a child, and before the storm I'm sure we had the pictures to prove it. I can remember a little picture of myself in a red polka-dotted costume. My hair was pulled up in curls on top of my head and I was posing for the world. There were also photos to memorialize all of our activities. My brother and I played baseball and softball, soccer, and tried basketball. Mom was in the PTA; she was on the board of the sports league; she owned the preschool we attended; she worked as a Title I assistant at our elementary school... In short, we were the center of her world.

Because of my mom, I have a fabulous sense of who and what I am. Even before our family had embraced a spiritual life, I always knew I was Divinely created. Mom cherished us so much that she related that unspoken message in everything we did.

Sometimes we were so cherished, it was aggravating. She had to know where we were at all times. We weren't allowed to do things other kids did. We were forced to talk to her about stuff. If something was going on with one of us, she wouldn't leave us alone to go stew about it privately, we had to get it out in the open. Even now, she still says, "Let's get it out in the open and let God's light shine on it."

Mom is traveling to Texas this month to watch her eldest grandchild (my neice)graduate from high school. Then, she and J.R. will be returning to take Danielle on a trip to Italy. I am so very excited for her. She loves doing things for and with her grandchildren. She has always had a dream of going to Italy and I am so glad that the opportunity materialized for her. God is truly wonderful.

Interestingly, Mom now has a different type of teaching position. She is the teacher at the Youth Court. When kids get in to trouble for a variety of infractions, they get to go see my mom. The other day, I was in Subway ordering a sandwich. Mom came up to meet me because she was taking Danielle to eat and needed enzymes. (We generally all carry an abundant supply of enzymes... I don't know where her supply was that day.) Anyway, the teenager behind the counter saw my mom and noticed that I was talking to her. He asked, "Do you KNOW her?"

I replied, "Sure. She is my mom."

His eyes got really wide and he said, "I met her at Youth Court after I got into trouble. She talked to me."

I just nodded and winked at him. "Yeah, imagine growing up with her as your mom." He looked awed, fearful and envious all at the same time.

I called Mom over and she had a pleasant conversation with him. He said he was staying out of trouble.

I'll bet he is... Having to have the type of conversation that he did with my mom is not an experience he is likely to forget soon. Both girls have said if they get into trouble and have to go to Youth Court, they would prefer to be transported directly to prison.

What is so terrible about Mom's conversations? Well, it is her ability to see the spark of the Divine within each person. Then she is able to let the "offender" know, in no uncertain terms, that he/she is not living up to Divine potential. The shame, guilt and remorse is a killer. I was a little wild as a teenager, so I have some experience with these types of conversations. [Insert mischeivious wink here.]

The talks, the involvement, the interaction with my mom have made me into the person I am today. I hold no illusions of granduer. I know I don't measure up to Mom. I won't ever wash my children's shoelaces weekly or whip out a Halloween costume on the sewing machine. I just can't rise to that level. But, her love and nurturing have helped me to become a Mom who can make sure her children get treatments and get ready for softball games at the same time. I can flush I.V.'s in the car on the way to the mall. I can stay up giving treatments when Sarah is having an allergy attack and finally dope her up with Dimetapp when we just can't take it anymore and all need to sleep.

When Dan was in fourth grade, she had a problem with a little boy in class. Since I work at her school, I pulled her out in the hallway, gave her a hug, wiped her tears and said, "Honey, I think you are old enough to learn a very important life lesson now..." Dan looked at me expectantly and I told her, "Some people are just
a--holes." She laughed and I laughed and it helped her get through the day. It has become a joke in our family and I was able to share the same bit of spiritual wisdom with Sarah last week when some of the girls in her class were mean to her.

This has become rambling and long... It isn't the flowery "Ode to My Mom" that she deserves. Still, I just thank her for making that commandment about honoring your mother incredibly easy for me.


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Growing through Change

I've heard it said, "It's only through change that we grow." Earlier in my life, I misheard the quote and thought it said, "It's only through pain that we grow." As I have matured, I have a better understanding that change is unavoidable, but suffering is optional. The amount of pain I experience is directly related to my willingness to get out of the way and let God be God in my life.

Lately, I have been able to do that a little more. I am standing back and marveling at the wondrous changes that are occurring before my very eyes. Life is really good today, even amidst the challenging or aggravating experiences I am given day to day.

Dave has been offered a job with Pascagoula School District. (This is my district, even though I work in Gautier. Gautier and Pascagoula are both under one umbrella, which is great because in my opinion there are a ridiculous number of districts here. One superintendent could be paid to do what four are currently doing. ~Sorry... I digressed, even within parentheses.) He has started coaching with them during the Spring Football season. I don't know what to do with myself. The man has been home for dinner every night. At Moss Point, Dave was never home during football before 9:30 or 10:00 at night. I am positively elated at this change. He is happy too. He said the other morning when he got Sarah up to do her vest, he was looking at her and thinking, "When did this happen? When did she grow up?" Anyway, I believe this change will have a very positive impact on our home life during football season. I'm thrilled!

Yesterday, we went to our Homeowner's Grant meeting. We are eligible to receive a grant to help rebuild our home. We meet the qualifications of the program given that we had homeowner's insurance, but no flood insurance. Our primary damage was from the water in our home. Thus, we filled out all the paperwork and an adjuster will be meeting with us in 2 to 6 weeks to look at our home, our receipts and other information we can provide. We are so grateful to meet the qualifications of the grant. However, people need to understand that many people on the Coast do not meet the qualifications and are still having a rough time.

The girls are both doing well health-wise. Dan and Sarah both started to cough again a couple of weeks ago and I felt the fear and dread creeping over me. I have had to go back to a very simple prayer of asking God "only for His will for us and the power to carry that out". Affirming health, renunciating illness, and all the other things I have learned to do throughout my spiritual journey, were just making me feel very frantic. (This may come as a shock, but at times I can have control issues.) So, I have been asking God only for His will to be done and that I have the Power to carry that out through His daily guidance. Life has been much simpler. Any illusion of control I carried is gone and the girls are healthy again. When I get into one of my crazier spaces, I really think to myself, "If I were only more faithful and spiritual, my girls would be healed completely." Then, I begin a self-flogging ritual, attempting to control the spiritual healing process. This only helps to increase my awareness and focus on cystic fibrosis symptoms, which then leads me into wailing like Job. It is entirely a subconscious process, too. That makes it difficult for me to even notice I'm in the pattern. I'm like those planes stuck in holding patterns at the airport. I need a voice from air traffic control to kick in and help me go ahead and land. Anyway, I don't even know if that made the slightest bit of sense to anyone, but just know that I have returned to a simpler relationship with my Loving God and it is working for me today.

My principal, Dr. Catchings, sat me down this past week and told me that my classroom will need to be used by a returning kindergarten class. I share this classroom with Kara and Amy, my two fabulous co-teachers. We also have two assistant teachers who call the space home. This means that we will be displaced again next year. He has offered us a "classroom" on the stage. Now, don't get me wrong, I have always wanted to be on stage. My brother, Tom, dabbled in acting, and I have this really glamorous idea about life on stage. I am envisioning sequined gowns and feather boas every day. Still, the thought of not having a room again is a little stressful. I'll try not to get ahead of myself. I still have to get through the last two weeks of this school year.

I have lots to do today. I need to clean out the FEMA trailer so that they can come and pick it up. We were very grateful to have it, but we are also very grateful to see it go.

A couple of weeks ago, my wonderful friends from Unity joined us in painting our entire downstairs. It looks beautiful. We are working on finishing up the trim. My furniture is being delivered next weekend, and we are getting new french doors and a new front door next week too. I will post pictures when the furniture is in. The picture above is of the UPS (Unity Paint Squad). We are so grateful for their help and friendship. The photo was taken on Easter at church.

Namaste' ~ You are well loved.