Wednesday, November 28, 2007

chicken soup for the cynical

Recently, my 8-year-old told me he likes Mondays (and Wednesdays and Fridays, and he had a reason for it - something about how much faster they go because of the schedule those days, but my point is that first part. He likes Mondays.) Being the original-thinking grown-up that I am, the thought rushed to my head, "Yea, you're gonna grow out of that one." But I didn't say it. I barely escaped it - that almost unquenchable need to pass on terrible, redundant, cynical adultisms onto the clean, every-moment-is-a-discovery slate of my children's psyche. Here are some more things I don't ever want them to assume, but which deep down I either kind of sort of believe or I find myself tempted to spew as if I believe . . .

Times goes fast. They grow so quickly, the seasons are shorter than they used to be, you blink and it's gone. They're all kind of true - I even say them, but it's really a subtle way of admitting perhaps I took it all for granted, and I don't really want to do that.

Here's one: I hope they don't take as long as me to try varied foods. I eat foods now that I don't even like all that much, but I appreciate the variety. And I wish I'd gotten to that point sooner.

Being the grownup at Christmas is not as fun as being the child. Not true. It may be harder to believe the magic, but we appreciate it more once it's found.

Jobs are things we endure but don't really enjoy. It's our own fault if we aren't in a job we love or at least like or at least have found in it a reason for which to be grateful.

Activity is basically that necessary evil called "exercise" and we do it because we have gotten too fat. At this point, my children love going to the Y. It's a total game to them. They envy Michael and I because they aren't old enough to use the treadmills whereas if we would just shoot baskets with them more often and run around the living room when the mail comes or every time that really cool commercial comes on, than maybe we wouldn't need the treadmill.

Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, and anything else that is cool and mysterious is always only a hoax. Hey, you never know.

Celebrities really are prettier people, it's not digital trickery. Growing up in the technical age, it won't take them as many behind-the-scenes featurettes to stop believing this as it has taken me, right? Who am I kidding? I haven't gotten it YET.

And finally, a few more things I will never say to them and I hope they never believe: You probably won't really be a professional football player when you grow up, it's not really that amazing that you can spell "ostrich", and it's not that socially acceptable to watch Nemo in a laundry basket.

If only I could keep all the bad away. .. .

Monday, November 26, 2007

i'll take another Zales commercial, please

It's that time again. The time of year when even the nicest, most generous people find themselves letting in the scrooge. It happened to my husband just yesterday: "It's too early for Christmas music." I hear that every year - not just from him of course. It's too early for the music, the tree, the red and green that sometimes appears vomited into the shopping aisles. I know already. It's too commercialized.

I've let in the scrooge myself before. Sometimes it's hard to find meaning in my teeny tiny checkbook balance and big fat shopping list. And that feeling isn't helped along by thinking about it all sooner. But this time, I'm fighting it. "It's Jingle Bells, Michael. It's not a Christmas song, it's a winter song." And besides that . . .

I love Christmas music. I just imagine how much we needed Him then. The world was horrible and sad, and religion wasn't saving us. The best Christmas songs make me think about that. They make me think about the sadness all over our world today and the fact that religion still isn't saving us. Then they make me crazy with happiness that He came. And it's just never too soon to think about that. You may judge me for already having the Christmas music out. But I gotta say, I kind of judge you for dissing it. Just relax and soak it in. It disappears suddenly and completely and without apology on December 26, so we may as well enjoy it now.

I got all four boys to pose for Christmas card pictures tonight. They posed until I was happy . . . and then two goofy times after that for the blooper shots. Michael still won't be putting the music on quite this soon and the little ones don't really understand either that horrible, achy feeling of need nor the wonderful feeling of having it met. But for me, it's time, People. Christmas is on.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"happy thanks-gibbing back"

I'm thankful for this street

and these feet

which aren't nearly this small anymore . . . but they still fit in the cutest little black cowboy boots you've ever seen. I'm thankful for those too. And for the thousand-and-one pairs of tennis shoes that spread throughout this house each day. I'll be so sad when I get ready for bed one evening years and years from now and there aren't any more little shoes to pick up. I'm sure I'll have other things to be thankful for then. But today, I'm thankful for all the usual things - fall leaves, Christmas commercials, cashews in my Chinese food, caffeine-free Diet Coke with a bendy straw, all the movies I can't wait to see and all the ones I watch again and again,

and being lucky in love.

But since I just straightened them - for the hundredth time - onto the little white shelf on the back porch

and because of everything they represent,

I am especially thankful for all the little shoes,

and for

the feet

that fill them.

Monday, November 19, 2007

tag, you're it from the good girls

The Good Girls have posted another Tag: Name three things they don't know about me. I decided to post it on my blog for the sole purpose of showing off the following picture.

My Three Things

(past, present, future)

One: I once sang back-up for Carmen. I'm on the left in the peach shirt, and I'm absolutely certain that is the only moment in which I was staring at him.

Two: If my house were burning I would desperately attempt to rescue our photos and all my old journals, including the current one I use for myself, and the three in which I write to each of my sons. I obsess about this sometimes. I think about buying a big fire-proof safe in which I will store them every time we leave the house for more than a few hours. I really love my pictures and journals.

Three: My one wish is to someday somehow be in a movie - on the set, at least one speaking part, and a free pass to the premiere. Just once! That's all I ask.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

boys, books, and Macy

A paragraph I read in a Dobson book once and copied to my computer:
"Your task as a mother, in conjunction with your husband, is to build a man out of the raw materials available in this delightful little boy . . . Never assume for a moment that you can ‘do your own thing’ without serious consequences for him . . . .this task must be your highest priority for a period of time. It will not always be required of you. Before you know it, that child at your feet will become a young man who will pack his bags and take his first halting steps into the adult world. Then it will be your turn. By all expectations, you should have decades of health and vigor left to invest in whatever God calls you to do. But for now, there is a higher calling. .... Raising children who have been loaned to us for a brief moment outranks every other responsibility."

It may not come as a big surprise to you: I like to write. Even when I don't feel like blogging - after tying up a couple of my thoughts all neatly onto the screen next to a picture, I feel happier. As if I had actually neatly tied my day. Because of so many moments like that, I began to wish writing could be my only job. So I started a blog, I wrote an article, I started shopping around my book - all the usual things to try and break into the bizz. One of these usuals - writing conferences. Mom and Felic and I went to one last weekend. I looked forward to it for weeks, so happy to leave town, escape my living room around which little boys swarm and yell, and be surrounded only by the writing muse and instruction about it. Then, unbelievably, the first night, the first meeting, we shared our building with . . . a boyscout troup. The speaker was very smart and educated and insipring, but all I could hear were little boys swarming and yelling. Mom thought perhaps they were earning their roller blading badge up and down the hallways. But I knew better. I firmly believed they were marching up and down the hallways quoting this paragraph.

Fortunately, I don't actually take myself that seriously any more. I totally believe that paragraph, but there is no way in heck God was scolding me through a boy scout troup.

On the other hand, when another speaker talked about our calling and how we need to focus and "follow our star", I knew for absolute certainty that writing is only a teeny tiny part of that for me. And for right now at least, boys are a huge part of it. I felt proud that I get that, and more importantly, that I love it.

Felicity took Macy with her. This is a picture I took of her as she and Felic sat across from me at a restaurant one evening. She was sucking her thumb, we think, for the first time. That moment sitting in a booth with my sister, my mom and my niece - it was totally and comlpetely satisfying for me. I really love those moments - the really small ones that go by so indescribably we normally wouldn't even call them a moment. Those are the moments when we really find out who we are and if our priorities make sense. Not so much just that they happen, but whether or not they make us happy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"If I weren't going to be a writer, I'd go to New York and pursue the stage. Are you shocked?" Very.

Do you think the Hollywood writers feel that the rest of us should be abandoning our own pens, or keyboards, in solidarity? I've always thought strikes were just appalling - all selfishness and attitude. Until Newsies came out and then I realized that sometimes you gotta take on the giants. Now my only real opinion about them is, "But you'll be back after Christmas break right? I mean, you can't leave us out here in viewer-ville with only -gasp - REALITY."

I've been thinking lately of something Mom said recently. She said that she hasn't truly lost herself in a movie since Little Women, the Susan Sarandon version, (which incidentally also has the guy from Newsies). It made me wonder if our disbelief has gotten more difficult to suspend. Perhaps we find it harder these days to forget about the serial divorces and court appearances and, well, contract negotiations. There's a new show on one of our four television channels - TMZ, the television version. If you don't know, that stands for Thirty Mile Zone, and it's basically celebrity stalkers (photographers, whatever) trying to catch our favorite stars in stupid clothes, temper tantrums, and otherwise compromising situations, in an approximately thirty-mile radius around Hollywood. I wish they had asked me. Don't they know I don't want Hollywood demystified?

What I really want though, is to believe that Little Women was made by people who really believed it when they wrote the dialogue about how "We are all hopelessly flawed." I want to believe that the writers of Spiderman 3 had my little boys in mind when they stuffed it full of the "Make the right choices" moral. I want to believe that everyone who ever puts pen to paper, that they are trying to be the best of themselves and that they hope the same for us. Don't be concerned about me. It's not that I don't know otherwise. I watch the extras on my DVDs. And I actually pick up at least one of the magazines you probably scoff at in the checkout aisle. I know there is plenty of ugliness out there. I'm just saying, it's so nice when you stumble upon a work of art that could almost change your mind.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

My Ultimate Dream

This version of Amazing Grace is the song I have playing on my MySpace page, and I recently wrote down the thought I always have when it plays. . .

I love this song, Amazing Grace. When I listen to it and watch the pictures of my boys fade in and out on the slide show I feel such a combination of pure joy and sheer panic - because I think about the journey of my own faith, the moutains and valleys and doubts and dreams, that all eventually led me to here. I am now totally and completely convinced. So much so, that when I hear songs like this, my emotional response is intense - it comes with all that life and discovery behind it. And at that point I hope, I pray, I break out in a cold sweat at the mere thought, that my children will make it through to that point of faith as well. That one day Amazing Grace will evoke absolute peace in them. I think I have all these dreams and wishes, but in that moment I know for sure that if I could only have one thing in this life, it would be that: That my children would be with me in eternity. That I would have given God every chance to win them, and that He did. If God's real, if He is who I have realized Him to be - and I only say if because of the tiny but huge leap of faith that comes after all the teaching and decisions and process of life that taught me to believe - then I pray that He will show Himself to them as He has shown Himself to me. That is my ultimate dream.