“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.”
― Donald Miller
As I walked with my friend, the heaviness in her spirit was written on her lovely face, dampening her normal radiance. She was feeling guilty and frustrated. One of her dearest friends had called to lambaste her, letting her know in no uncertain terms that she had failed miserably as a friend. Apparently there was some sort of friend code that had been broken, a specific sort of support that had been withheld. My friend had had no idea she was so neglectful. She hadn’t even known the friendship code existed.
I swore at my son the other day. Well, not exactly at him, more at his disability and how much work it puts on me. Even as the words flew from my lips, I knew I should be horrified. Ashamed of myself. Instead, all I felt was a bone-deep weariness.
I’m tired. So, so tired.
I’ve been at this homeschooling gig for over 15 years now. Most of those years have been a struggle with varying degrees of language disabilities. It’s hard. My youngest two, who are not learning disabled, have been given the dregs of my time, attention, and enthusiasm.
“What do you think about…?” Hands wrapped around her steaming mug, my friend leaned forward with an open expression. I looked down at my own latte and contemplated the designs swirled into the foam by the talented barista. Not wanting to give a trite response, I took a moment to answer. I feel honored when my friend asks my opinion because I know she takes my words seriously. Even when she disagrees with my stance. Taking a deep breath, I launched into my thoughts on the topic. Our coffee date this month was sure to be a lively one.
There are two dangerous times of the year for homeschoolers. The first is two to four weeks into a new school year. Your enthusiasm flies out the window as you realize all of your carefully plotted lessons need to be scrapped because:
- The curriculum your friend raves about, that you spent an embarrassing amount of money on, might as well be written in Greek for all the sense it makes to you.
- Your kids are struck with a terminal case of Leaky Brain Syndrome and forgot everything from the last school year.
- And my personal favorite; you find out that you are pregnant. Again.
The woman stepping into the elevator likely had no idea how profoundly she would affect my parenting. She was an athletic looking woman, smartly dressed, with stylish graying hair; I pegged her to be somewhere in her 50’s. Her gaze immediately lighted upon my two children and she smiled.
My husband and I were standing sentinel behind two brightly colored umbrella strollers. The kids were snugly wrapped in winter gear for a walk by the beach. We were on a weekend vacation on the coast, our customary getaway since we’d first been married. After children, it was harder to get away alone, so we were experimenting with taking the kids along.
“Are they twins?” The woman inquired.
I’m an affirmation junkie. Gary Chapman would say that my dominant love language is ‘words of affirmation’, but that sounds too tame. I think I may actually have a problem here. The mailman once told me I was beautiful. No, he wasn’t hitting on me, he was simply being his normal friendly self, but his words impacted me. I grinned all day. I ran those words through my head more times than is polite to admit. But more importantly, I felt beautiful because of his compliment.
I used to keep every nice note given to me. Each word of thanks or praise was read and reread, then tucked away for safekeeping. They made me feel good. Mere words on a page have a mystical power over me. Reading them makes me feel loved, and more, worthy to be loved.
Rational people don’t believe in love at first sight. And so, while walking along the boardwalk with my family one warm summer night, I was completely unprepared for the intensity of emotion I felt when I first caught a glimpse of him. I was in awe at his beauty. I immediately wanted to touch him. I knew it was absurd, but I didn’t want to leave him. Ever.
I returned the next day. And the next. Even now, I feel pulled to return as often as I can. I can’t seem to help myself; he is like a drug to me. When I am unable to venture the half mile to his domain, I am unsettled and worried. I just want to see that he is safe and happy. I need to know he still exists.
“I hope you don’t mind,
I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words,
How wonderful life is, now you’re in the world.”
Your Song, Elton John
As I looked down into her sweet, soft face, the chorus of this song suddenly had meaning. I’m not sure where I was or how this particular song came to be playing. While I’ve long respected Elton John as an incredibly talented musician, he was never one you’d find on my playlist. All I remember is that profound feeling one gets when art intersects with emotion and becomes personal. I kissed her fuzzy, dark hair and knew that this was now Her Song. The one that makes me think of her, that makes my heart feel funny in a full sort of way.
Masquerade! Paper faces on parade…Masquerade! Hide your face, so the world will never find you! (Phantom of the Opera)
I glanced in the mirror, then quickly looked away. There was just too much raw reality looking back at me. I grabbed my makeup brush and furiously swept powder over the canvas of my face to hide what was there. Exhaustion. Vulnerability. Self-loathing. Pain.
The parenting class that I began attending several weeks ago has been full of revelations. Truth be told, there is so much wisdom packed into this class, I am having a hard time assimilating it all. And writing about it has proven to be very difficult as each nugget of wisdom leads my mind down a dozen divergent thought-paths. However, I have discovered that this class is doing more than teaching good parenting tips.