Monday, February 14, 2011

Neither Here Nor There

We've been having some truly frigid weather, and the temperatures the past couple days in the 30's and 40's are so refreshing. I swear there was a warm breeze. Although there is still snow on the ground, this kind of weather always reminds me of Easter for some reason. Early warm breezes take me back to Easter egg hunts at Salter Park that my Uncle Herb put together for my cousins and I every year. Some years we were shedding our sweaters as we searched for that last egg (with a $5 bill in it!) and other years we were freezing and racing back to the car as soon as we were finished. Back at Aunt Char and Uncle Herb's house, I looked forward to the predictable menu of ham, homemade potato salad and noodle salad, hard boiled eggs, and seven layer Jello. I hate mayonnaise and Miracle Whip (and I'm not sure which she uses), but love my Aunt Char's potato salad and noodle salad. I should really get those recipes from her, even though I have it in my mind that it won't taste the same if she doesn't make it. There were also the little glass dishes full of pastel M&M's, jelly beans, and all sorts of candy goodies for me to grab as I strategically walked by them over and over again because my mom never (ever) had candy in the house and I had to get my fill anytime I could. (Yes I did get candy in my Easter basket. But other than that - never, and especially no candy in accessible little dishes scattered throughout the house.) As much as I loved candy, I think my favorite Easter gift ever was the set of Anne of Green Gables books my mom got for me one year. I should get those out for Bethany. I hope she enjoys them as much as I did.

Two years ago my Uncle Herb died, too young and too painfully. Three of my kids knew him, but not nearly well enough. Maybe their lives are better in many ways than my own childhood, but it makes me sad that there are so many things they have missed out on that I had, like Uncle Herb's Easter egg hunts. Like spending day after day with cousins and aunts and my Grandma all summer while my mom worked. I have lots of wonderful memories of those days, even though I'm sure my mom would have rather been with me than at work, and I'm sure there were lots of days I wished I didn't have to wake up early and could have stayed home and played with my friends in the neighborhood. Instead my kids have a mom who is home with them everyday all summer, and I'm so happy for that, and I know they will have their own brand of special memories. 

My kids don't have cousins, but they have each other. There are no bored and lonely days around here, like I had as an only child. They have two parents and a level of stability that I never knew until I was an adult. What they've never had is the adventure of leaving everything and everyone they know and getting on a train to Phoenix to start a new life, which my mom and I did when I was 6 years old; of needing to depend upon the kindness of strangers, and having playmates who don't speak the same language. They've also never known the tiresomeness of making new friends with the start of every new school year, which was hard but taught me a lot about relating to others.

I guess I'm kind of rambling, so what's my point? Maybe just that there's more than one way to have a happy family and a happy childhood. Endless ways, in fact. Maybe we worry so much about doing the whole parenting thing "right" when the truth is we make our own "right" that fits our personal lives and families. There's a give and take, and despite our best wishes and efforts we can't have everything and we can't give our children everything. 

My kids have to miss out on some things to get other things. They don't have the (relatively) adventurous, rambling life I had as a kid, but they have something different and maybe better. So they are missing some things I took for granted, like friends from different cultures, seeing first hand how people live in different areas, needing to have the skills necessary to meet new people and make new friends on a regular basis, the ability to improvise out of need, a sense of wanderlust. In exchange, they have friends they've known for years. They have their own beds (something I didn't experience until I was in 3rd grade...I shared with my mom, slept on couches, and even used an orange vinyl beanbag chair as a bed for a short time). When I was a kid, I always wanted to be like my friends who had known each other since kindergarten, with brothers and sisters, and two parents, and a regular home. And now my kids have that; they have what I wished I had. I'm grateful. But I also want for them some of what I had. 


I have a lot to be grateful for lately. I've had people, some I don't even know, offer to help me get to the bottom of my health issues. People are generally nice and caring and want to help. The generosity I've been the recipient of has been truly humbling and so sweet and appreciated. 

My wonderful preschool co-board members took it upon themselves to decide we would meet at a coffee shop last week, even though the meeting was scheduled to be at my house. They knew I had been sick and maybe didn't need one more thing on my plate. 

Lucy went to a super fun birthday party over the weekend for a preschool classmate. Like I've said before, I love preschool. I love the other kids and their families. So Lucy got to ride a horse at the party, which she was very excited about. Which is funny because in the past she has been extremely reluctant to even ride the smallest pony. I guess she is growing up.

My friend Julie's little girl also had a birthday party over the weekend. She is turning 2 this week. All 6 of us went to her party, and since I love Julie and I love her family it was a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon. And the kids loved it all the more because it was held at a restaurant where they were given the opportunity to repeatedly put tokens in a couple of machines in exchange for crappy candy and plastic junk. What could be better?

Today was my working day at preschool, and it was fun being there for the Valentine's Day party. Otherwise Valentine's Day is one of those days that doesn't really mean much to me. Maybe it should, since it's a day for celebrating love. But I think everyday is a day to celebrate love. And Chris and I don't really go for romantic mushy gushy stuff anyhow. But happy Valentine's Day nonetheless; go spread some love.


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