Archives for posts with tag: children

“Raising a kid is part joy and part guerilla warfare.” -Ed Asner

 

Hahaha. Well said, Ed.

I’ve often reflected that there is nothing on earth for which an individual would be completely unprepared if he/she had first had the opportunity to be a parent.

Child-rearing requires an extensive personal resume consisting of various skills; everything from tolerance and patience to impressive ingenuity.

We parents have admirable mediator skills and are intuitive psychotherapists. We act as motivational speakers, executive chefs, CEO’s, tutors, nursemaids, professional organizers and more.

There is no vocation requiring a greater range of abilities or a more diverse skill set.

And the hours are ridiculous! No nights off. No free weekends. Forget a forty-hour work week.

And don’t even think about calling in sick. I’ve tried. For some inexplicable reason, children still need parents regardless of your inability to hold your food down.

Go figure.

Despite that, there’s NOTHING I would rather do. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a firm believer in having a rich diversified life replete with varied interests and pursuits of personal growth outside of my role as mother. Few things make you a better parent and partner than becoming a more fulfilled person. Embracing the opportunity to evolve alongside your children, each of us can be stronger, more complete individuals and thus better serve our posterity.

These are things I often find myself thinking as we near the end of summer. The lower temperatures and abbreviated periods of daylight, are harbingers of the coming autumn; a time of resumed school schedules, wardrobe replenishments and all the social milestones this period provides.

It’s a reminder that time is fleeting. That childhood doesn’t last forever and that each day is but a brief expanse of time that all too quickly tumbles into the next.

The days are long, but the years are short.

At the beginning of each year, I choose a box and scrawl the year and school grade on the side. Initially, it’s nothing but a box–a six-sided, cardboard structure bereft of physical contents; holding nothing but expectations for the coming year. Slowly over the years I have composed a structured wall of mismatched boxes bearing the labels kindergarten through fifth grade.

And now, I’m writing the words, “2011-2012. Sixth grade,” on another box. I could invest in a plastic one and have them all be beautifully coordinated, but I am nothing if not a gifted re-purposer and I love anything old. There’s something lovely and romantic about knowing an item had a life before I found it.

Yes. Even a cardboard box.

But, I digress. This year’s box will house fanciful short stories, homespun craft projects, artwork composed of diverse and likely unexpected mediums and highly-informative reports.

You know–all the things that really only mean something to the actual biological relations of the child.

But to me, these things are possessions valued above almost everything else. They’re memories in a more tangible form. My memory alters the inanimate nature of these things and turns each of them into these vivid recollections I have of the numerous bygone eras her life has already presented. These items are representative of all the various stages of growth I’ve seen as a mother.

Not only her growth but mine as well.

So each year when she returns to those hallowed halls of the local elementary school, I pull a special journal out of my desk drawer; one dedicated exclusively to my yearly fall resolutions. They’re a more evolved version of New Year’s resolutions. The preceding months have honed my perspective and the pending emptiness of my home reminds me of a need to school myself in whatever courses the Universe sees me in need of at that time.

I am, after all, currently working toward an advance degree in Awesomeness from the University of Life. I just recently had a grueling final in the form of cancer. For those of you who are curious, I aced it! FYI.

So I’ve decided to dedicate many of September’s blog posts to this whole experience of educating oneself for the sake of self improvement. Developing some good, ‘back to school,’ habits in the interest of graduating to a better version of ourselves.

And, because I’m hyper-aware and super-sensitive, I’ll shed more than a couple tears as Allie returns to school and my life shifts from the lazy, relaxed days of summer to the more rigid, ordered days of the school year.

It’s also yet another opportunity for the Universe to remind me that I’m a work in progress. Just on the offchance that I had forgotten that. Not likely. 😉

“The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.” – Tom Bodett

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“When are you gonna love you as much as I do?” – Tori Amos

Who’s worthy of love? If you answered, “everyone,” then congratulations! You move to the head of the class! And for the rest of you, looks like we’ve got our work cut out for us today. I suppose class is in session.

The topic of love is something concerning which I have an abundance of expertise. “Why?” You ask.  Well it just so happens that it’s been an ongoing issue for me. Yes, that’s right, Holl has her hang-ups. Who would have thought? (If you say you would have, then you can take your snarky self elsewhere;))

We’ve talked about the lack of self-worth so many people have and how that thinking can lead us to some pretty undesirable places, but I’m thinking more lately about unconditional love; about people hiding their true selves in an attempt to present the world with a facade. I think it’s probably a significant flaw of human-kind to feel so impelled to create persona’s for the rest of us to see and I understand the reasoning behind this thinking; we’re all afraid of people not liking us for who we really are. It’s fear that drives us to hide our precious selves from those who populate our circle; everyone from co-workers, peers, neighbors and acquaintances to the most valued loved ones in our lives.

It’s so interesting, this silly paradox of emotion. We lock away our secret selves in an attempt to protect ourselves, but what winds up happening, is we only throw tiny shards of ourselves out there for the world; these measly little bits and pieces that do not represent us accurately. It does us a disservice to withhold so much of ourselves out of fear of not measuring up; of somehow having deficiencies that outweigh our amazing-ness. (Yes, it’s been a while since I interjected some Holl-ebonix, but I knew you were all jonesing for a fix…;))

So Miranda*, a friend of mine I’ve had for the last several years, said something to me very recently amid a torrent of self-depreciating tears. It’s not an unfamiliar principle, nor is it something we haven’t already explored, but the fact that it seems so pervasive, only adds to the cogent nature of the statement. She said she didn’t know if anyone knew what she really was–all the mistakes she’d made and all the flaws she bore–if any of them would still love her. Really? I mean, don’t get me wrong I totally get what she’s saying, but I’d like to think the people closest to me have more to them than just some superficial appreciation of me. That they love me for all of me.

Here’s hoping that people won’t define me based on my greatest flaw; that I won’t be remembered for my most significant deficiency or my worst mistake.

Can y0u imagine if your name was forever linked to the fact that one time in the ninth grade you shoplifted? Or if people always associated you with the time you picked on a kid at school? I mean don’t get me wrong; these things are certainly not things to be proud of and actions that are harmful to others are likely to have a lasting impact on both them and you. The point of life is not to achieve some level of flawlessness and to live steeped in self-loathing and regret when that’s not achieved, but rather to grasp each opportunity for progression and affirmation as they present themselves, to reach out to those around us by first loving ourselves. It’s an invaluable lesson and an effective tool in building deeper, more enduring relationships with the people around you as well as healing the internal rifts caused by years of self-neglect and derision.

It’s kind of like when the flight attendant cautions you to not leap to the aid of those around you until you’ve first secured your own breathing mask. Wise words from the friendly skies.

This is, undoubtedly, easier said than done. I’ve been pretty blunt regarding my own inability to ease up on self-criticism. To give you an idea of just how insidious it is, I remember in the first grade attending parent teacher conference with my parents and listening intently as my parents discussed my scholastic progression with my teacher. My parents used a phrase that was then echoed by my teacher. I had never heard it until then, but it has chided me with regularity since:

“Hollie is her own worst enemy.”

Wow, I remember thinking at the ripe-old age of six. That doesn’t sound good.

No, Holl. It doesn’t.

It think it’s difficult not to scrutinize our actions and achievements and to often find ourselves lacking. In a world where a person’s worth is often measured by their resumes and people are constantly garnering respect and admiration by burning themselves at both ends, it can be challenging to remind ourselves that we’re each composed of something greater. That we’re more than our accomplishments and likewise more than our shortcomings.

To remind ourselves that as human beings, we’re good enough–sans resumes.

I think it goes without saying that achievement is crucial in contributing to the world around us and endeavoring to leave this planet better and the people in it improved for having humored us throughout the drama of mortality. Progression and productivity are essential in creating our best selves, however, to obsess about it–to feel inadequate when we don’t measure up to some ridiculous ideal of what makes a good man or woman–is counterproductive. I think it’s putting the cart before the horse.

Perhaps if we just concentrated on building character, then the accomplishments would fall naturally into place. We would find greater effectiveness in our pursuits, because we would be operating with greater intentions; motives of a better quality.

I think that God created each of us like vessels. That our spirits take on many forms. I imagine a table filled with crystal decanters, vases and glasses of varying sizes and shapes. And likewise of varying capacities. If you are represented by a small, eight-ounce juice glass and you fill it until it’s brimming wouldn’t that be a greater success than if you were a large, cavernous vase 14 inches tall with nothing more than several drops resting in its base?

Maybe we’re each just responsible for attaining the full measure of our own individual creations. That’s what I’m inclined to think.

I’ll extend a challenge–yes that’s correct–a challenge. When you get some time, flip open a newspaper and peruse the obituaries. It seems morbid, I know, but stick with me on this. Scan over the entries. Read the words of the loved ones of the deceased. Soak in the memories these people have of their friend/family member. Absorb the impact that life had on those around them. See what good people are really remembered for and the effect that a person’s life has on others.

I read one a couple of years ago that five children had composed regarding their beloved mother. I think of it all the time and I get that familiar sting in my eyes. Why? Because I’m a big baby who cries all the time when I hear something that moves me. The children recounted stories and memories. They listed some of the greatest, most relevant principles they had been blessed to learn from their mom. Then they shared the one thing she had provided that was of greatest relevance to them:

“She showed us the face of God.” they said.

Wow.

Not, “She made us do our homework. Or, “She made us eat our veggies.” Not that these things aren’t important. I’m a mother and I would feel no small amount of guilt had I neglected to set boundaries and be stern when necessary. But the greatest achievement this woman had was in rearing these exceptional individuals who, in turn, considered her greatest accomplishment to be instilling in them a deep appreciation for spirituality; a belief in something greater.

I’ve said it before: I don’t have all the answers. I am the Universe’s greatest work in progress. But there are things I know that resonate with me; that make supreme sense in an otherwise abstruse world. This principle, the idea that we are each distinctly unique and irreplaceable individuals, is likely the most crucial of them . Understanding this I believe is perhaps one of the great purposes of life; that our mistakes and faults may be facets of our life, but they are not what comprise us. Our humanity is more consequential than that. Our value is immeasurable. And yes, that does include each of you.;)

XOXO

hollie

“Each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against ourselves.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.







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