Monthly Archives: August 2010

The way things are supposed to be

I recently heard a remark. One that I’ve heard many times before. One that’s difficult to disagree with. Someone was praising a young woman who called off her engagement, saying, “At least she called it off before they got married and brought children into the world.”

Now it’s possible that I’m a tad bit sensitive on this topic, having had two marriages that produced children and then ended in divorce. I do feel the sting of such comments. And I’m so grateful for the exact people that my children are, that I can’t imagine a world without them. And I don’t regret the choices I’ve made.

And when I hear people make comments like, “At least the person didn’t do ____”,  “Thank goodness she didn’t do ____”, I realize how my philosophy of all of that has changed in the past several years.

I’ve come to believe that things play out the way they’re supposed to. The way they’re meant to. The way they just do. Not good or bad. That young woman called off her wedding because it was supposed to play out that way.  Because millions of years ago, for whatever reason, things were set in motion. And each generation shaped the next generation. And as a result of all of that history, each of us came to be who were meant to be. To behave the way we behave because of the forces – parents, friends, circumstances – that shaped our lives. That our parents acted the way they acted because of the forces that shaped their lives. And so on. Back through the generations.

I stop short of calling it predestination. Short of believing in some grand being who knows in advance how everything will play out and watches it all happen. Because then you get into the whole, “how could a loving God allow all those bad things to happen” discussion, and I don’t have good answers, and then it gets icky.

And it’s not to say that we’re just puppets in some big “Kukla, Fran and Ollie” episode (sorry, I’m showing my age here), unable to make our own choices. We are able to make choices. And we do. It’s just that there are reasons why we make the choices we do.

I don’t second-guess the past (much, anyway.) I try to learn from it and move on. I try to inflict as little damage as possible (sometimes unsuccessfully.) But I don’t wish that things had been different. Because they were what they were.

And they are what they are.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Gratitude, Uncategorized

The one where David learns to swim

When Emma was a baby, I threw away all the parenting books. Because I decided that many people who were a lot stupider than me had successfully raised children, and if I trusted my gut, I would probably be okay. (I actually did think those exact thoughts. This was obviously before I learned humility and became the compassionate person I am today.)

And usually when I trust my gut, I’m okay. (And when I talk myself out of what my gut is telling me, I get into all kinds of trouble. But that’s a topic for another day.)

But sticking to what my gut tells me to do is still scary, painful and very unpleasant at times.

David has learned to swim. Not that he has a beautiful stroke or anything. But swim as in “if he falls into deep water he can get himself out without drowning.” Which when you get down to it is really the most important thing when it comes to swimming.

In four weeks, he has gone from crying every night on the way to swim lessons to telling me how much he can’t wait to go to swim lessons and wanting to practice his swimming every chance he gets.  In four weeks, he’s gone from saying, “Why does Margaret get to stay in Level 1 and I have to go to Level 2?” to saying, “Don’t worry, Margaret. Someday you’ll get to be in Level 2.” (Not that she looked worried.)

In four weeks, he is like a different kid.

Many of you know that I almost relented. I was thisclose to telling him he didn’t have to do it. Thisclose to not being able to stand the breathless sobbing all the way from camp to the pool. Four nights a week. For four weeks. And when he wasn’t crying, he was complaining.

But something told me that if I stayed calm, and told him overandoverandover that he could do it, told him to think about how good he’d feel after he proved to himself he could do it, that it would be okay.

I will be eternally grateful to Derek – the patient, kind – yet firm – college student who helped David overcome his fear. (Not that Derek was too thrilled about it in the beginning. He told one of Emma’s friends that he specifically signed up for Level 2 so he wouldn’t have any criers, and he was not too happy that he had a crier.)

Now if I could just get Derek to come to my house and convince David to take the training wheels off his bike.

Leave a comment

Filed under Parenting, Uncategorized

Summer fantasies

Ah, the fantasies of summer.

Each year (round about April) I have this fantasy of the way summer is going to be. Long, lazy days with no homework, no 8 a.m. school arrival times, no cross-country practice, no ACTs to prepare for. No food-service cards to recharge online. No keeping track of when pajama day is. (Or when show-and-tell day is. Or what the show-and-tell theme is.) No identifying 15 things in the house that start with the letter Y.

Nothing to do, nowhere to be. Late dinners of simple, grilled food. Trips to the pool after dinner. Relaxed bedtimes. Relaxed wake times. Low stress.

And I count the days until the end of school.

At which point reality sets in.

8 a.m. school arrival times (to the elementary and preschools 6 short blocks from our house) are replaced by 8 a.m. (ok, “-ish”) arrivals at the day camp program (a 20-minute round-trip from home). And the same trip in the evening.  Homework is replaced by swim lessons four nights a week. The camp also has pajama day. And super hero day. (Which I forgot have no memory of ever knowing about.)

Grilled food is actually a rotating selection of pizza/macaroni and cheese/scrambled eggs after swim lessons. Relaxed bedtimes are actually hurry-up-it’s-late-and-you-have-to-get-up-for-camp. Post-dinner trips to the pool are replaced by I don’t even know what.  Relaxed wake times are not possible because…oh yeah, I still have to go to work in the summer.

High humidities eliminate any hope of low stress. (Stop touching me.)

So here I sit on August 3, fantasizing about the start of school and the start of Fall. Counting the days (or at least the weeks) until we are back in our regular routine. Dreaming of cool nights and cool mornings. Of school shoes and new backpacks. Of hot dinners in the crock pot. Of seeing the other school moms on a regular basis.

And in my Fall fantasies… it will be perfect.

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Parenting