Tag Archives: stay-at-home

Carefulness…

Standard

Well, I put myself out there. I applied for a job that I was super passionate about but for which I was a little short on experience.

So many interviews and meetings later and I’m, well, short on experience.

My friend told me last week about the lady who started Spanx. If the junk email in my box is any indicator, she’s doing pretty well. My friend told me that every night at dinner this lady’s father used to ask her how she had failed, what she had learned from it, and what she was going to do next time. In this way failure and risk were normalized for her.

I tried it a couple of nights ago. It didn’t work because no one had failed at anything all day long except me losing my temper briefly before dinner. But today I had a doozy.

“Well, kids, Mommy failed at something today.”

“What did you fail at, Momma?”

“I applied for a job that I really wanted. But I didn’t have enough experience. They’re probably right, but it would’ve been fun. I’m glad I tried.”

I don’t know if they were paying attention, but I hope something sunk in.

The other week my husband and I attended a family class on anxiety after church. The therapist running the class told a story about taking his friend’s daughter to the playground. While this little girl played and climbed he heard her repeating to herself, “Be careful, be careful.” When it was brought to the father’s attention he had to estimate that he said “Be careful” to his daughter up to fifty times a day. He wasn’t even aware.

So, I’ve made note and stopped saying “Be careful” so much. And I’m talking about failure at the dinner table. And I took a chance, failed, and talked about it in front of my kids.

Because if there’s one thing I don’t want, I absolutely do not want my kids going through life being careful.

This Morning…

Standard

The beautiful San Francisco spring has sprung and this morning the weather was perfect. So, I hustled two babies through breakfast and into shoes. We were going to meet some friends at Crissy Field.

I drove past Lake St. and the elegant signs that forbid tour busses and vans over ten passengers from going further. I turned right on El Camino Del Mar where every house presents a lavish example of a particular style. The houses hide the view, but at the intersections the Golden Gate Bridge appears large and startlingly close. Then the houses stop halfway down a block where they meet the Presidio woods.

The road twists left as soon as its free of the confining lines of the neighborhood and in a breath we’re on the bluffs with the ocean’s arms open wide below us. All of the hills and ups and downs of the city are lost to the long flat line of blue horizon. The smell is salty and woodsy, the eucalyptus and cypress leave a tangy sensation in your nostrils. In the quiet moments when I stop at a cross walk the cacophony of bird noises breaks through.

The breeze is cool through the window, unchanging in temperature even as you slip from shadow to sun between the trees. Drawing a curving path through the Presidio I still have to follow the google map directions. The roads run into each other and stop, I have to make three turns to continue in the right direction.

We pass clusters of brick houses left over from the Presidio’s army post days. The yards are trim, sloping up from short stone walls. I find myself wondering as I always do what it would be like to live in one of these red brick houses with clean white trim and large square windows, to live in a forest at the edge of a city. The bikers and tour busses are scarce on a Friday morning at just past nine.

We turn left out of the Presidio onto the long flat road that demarcates the water’s edge. I make a wrong turn, of course, because I’ve only been there a zillion times and have to turn around. And then we arrive in the small parking strip tight up against a steep slope over hung with peeling eucalyptus fingering the breeze.

The Warming Hut is open, people emerge with their paper cups, all plastic pieces one hundred percent compostable. The dogs are off leash, the only law the responsible citizens of San Francisco tend to ignore. Trim people jog by and there are many mothers with babies like me. Fishing lines trail off the pier. Pelicans fly overhead like an arrow, of one mind pointing towards China Beach and their breakfast. We’ve seen them there in the mornings dropping suddenly from the sky, slapping the water in a feathered sort of belly flop. Apparently, all more graceful methods of catching fish have been proven less effective.

And as we walk down the sandy path we see that someone has plucked some order from the stony beach and tall rock pinnacles precariously balanced rise here and there in stiff salute. I’m told by my friend that it’s the work of a quiet old Asian man. The Chronicle did a piece on him. He said it was his zen.

The sun can only be friendly in the company of the breeze. It warms my right temple and winks at me over the rims of my sunglasses. I keep my sweatshirt on and take my shoes off. The bright red bridge consumes the view to my left, quite unaware that she is an icon. The sailboats go in and out under her like indecisive chicks. Alcatraz lies low over my daughter’s shoulder. Sometimes the waves get louder and I look up to catch the disappearing wake of a cargo tanker already distant. And the rounded shoulders of Marin across the bay tend to ignore me, as they always do, facing the sea, always out to the open sea.

And we play in the sand and make new friends and we run away from the waves and then we run into them and we get incredibly dirty and eat sandy cheese sticks anyway and squeal when the water insists on slurping the sand out from beneath our toes.

And I remind myself again that I live here in this beautiful place and I’m alive for this beautiful day and these are my beautiful people. And I think in recognizing it and going to all the trouble to write it down and describe it to you I have done something that works in this crazy long history of the world like gratitude. I hope so, anyway, because I am grateful.

Ash Wednesday…

Standard

The older I get the more I love the liturgy of the Christian calendar.

A few years ago I began exploring ways to add significance to Lent for my small children, but I wasn’t sure I really understood it myself, and then we moved, blah blah blah.

Since then I’ve been circling this idea of a tactile box for the Lenten season with accompanying lessons.

Yesterday, I actually wrote it all out! Whoop!

So, today we will begin and I’ll be posting the lessons here for your perusal or use as you so desire. There are twelve lessons. They go from Ash Wednesday, through the six Sundays of Lent and through the last five days of Holy Week.

Tonight, before we go off to Ash Wednesday service I will place a pie plate on the table and fill it with sand. I will have my son place a cross in the sand and have my daughter place a piece of ash. We will then take turns drawing a winding path from the ash to the cross as we talk about Jesus. And we will read about how Jesus knew his life would lead to death on a cross even before he became a little baby.

Here is the lesson if you want to join us! Feel free to share!

2/18 Ash Wednesday: Leaving Heaven

Where to find it:
A Child’s First Bible by Kenneth N. Taylor: p.174
Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones: p.170 “Get Ready”, p.144 “Operation ‘No More Tears’”
Bible: Philippians 2:5-11

Reading:
Today is Ash Wednesday and the first day of a season on the Christian calendar that we call Lent. On Ash Wednesday all around the world adults and children go to church and get an ash cross smudged on their foreheads. When the priest or pastor draws the cross he says, “From ashes you have come and to ashes you will return.” We say this to remember that God created Adam from the dust. It also reminds us that humans die and turn back to dust. During Lent we remember the time when Jesus gave up heaven to come to Earth as a human. Jesus knew that becoming human would mean he would have to die. Even before he became a little baby, from way up in heaven he could see that his life would lead to the cross.

Lent box activity:
Place the container on the table already filled with sand. Tell your family that you are taking a Lenten journey and remembering the time when Jesus was a human man. Have someone place the cross in the sand because at the beginning of the journey Jesus already knew that’s how it would end. Have someone place the piece of ash in the sand. Take turns drawing a path with your finger from the ash to the cross.

Beginning questions:
• Where was Jesus before he was a human baby? (John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”)
• Where is Jesus now? (Hebrews 12:2 “…and is seated on the right hand of the throne of God.”)
• What sort of things in heaven do you think Jesus had to give up to come to Earth as a little baby?

More questions (for older kids!):
• Did Jesus know that if he became human he would have to die?
• Did God know when he sent his son Jesus to be a baby that he would grow and one day die?
• What choices do we have every day to do the will of the Father?

Family Question:
Just as Jesus gave up heaven to obey God and come to Earth so that we could be close to God, what do we give up to be closer to God?

Family Activity:
Think and pray until Sunday about what if any activity or behavior, you could give up or add as a family to be closer to God this Lenten season.

Pray as a family:
“Our Father in heaven, we thank you for loving us so much that you would send your son away from you in order to rescue us. Jesus, we thank you that you would love your Father and us so much that you would become a human man and rescue us. We thank you for your time on Earth and ask that you bring us closer to you during this period of Lent. Amen.”

Things My Daughter Says…

Standard

So, if you haven’t picked this up, then let me tell you that my four-year-old daughter is a force.

She said to me, “Mom, on Valentine’s Day can you say ‘yes’ to everything?”
“Ha, no, sweetie,” I said.
“Why not?”
“I’m not a good Mom if I say yes to everything.”
“Why not?”
“Well, you gotta learn how to handle ‘no’,” I said.
“Why?”
“Because you’re going to hear ‘no’ in life at some point or another.”
“No, I’m not,” she said.

This is very indicative of who she is. And I find myself wondering if it’s indicative of who she will be. She said it so firmly I actually wondered if she were right. I mean, life might say “no”, but if history is any indicator, she won’t hear the word. Ha ha.

For example, two days ago I noticed her standing in the middle of the floor on her favorite princess storybook, the binding of which is dangerously close to giving up the long hard work of keeping the pages together.

So, I said, “Honey, step off the book before you break it.”
“But I want to break it.”
“Oh, you don’t want it anymore?”
“No,” she said.
“Alright, we’ll give it to another little girl who wants it,” I said.
“Okay.”
“Great, put it by the front door on the bench so I can take it out.”
“Okay.”

A moment later, “Mom, I put the book on the bench for you.”

All of this makes her a difficult four-year-old. And, yet, all of this is going to make her an extraordinary adult.

Hear me, Mommas! There is an upside to having a strong-willed child! I’ll let you know what it is when I get there!

So, this evening, I’m clinging to the big picture. There’s an end game out there and, meantime, in my current moment there’s chocolate ice cream and a cocktail. So, we’re good.

On Being Clean…

Standard

First thing this morning I vacuumed the apartment.

That sentence paints a picture, doesn’t it? I mean, what sort of person am I to begin my day vacuuming?

But the truth is, the vacuuming had been rolled over from the day before and the day before that. This morning at eight am just happened to be the moment that I could do it.

Is that still too nice of a picture? Let me paint further. This morning, directly after my son left for school, I realized with a start that there were few enough toys on the floor that I could possibly pick them up faster than two kids could take them out and if I hurried I could get it vacuumed before the day began and then I wouldn’t have to watch my eighteen month old eat particles of day old popcorn out of the shag anymore. So, I cleaned up, yelling every time they tried to get out a toy and after finding my baby french kissing the vacuum cleaner for the second time put him in his crib for the duration.

There, the vacuuming was done!

And what is the first thing my daughter wants to get out? The large bin of small paper pieces belonging to craft time.

“No!” I said. Too harsh? Maybe. I’m pretty reasonable about messes. I don’t try to keep it immaculate. Goodness, I make my kids popcorn for a snack! But, you know, give me a moment before it all goes to pot again!

And now, my jeans, I washed them yesterday. It is delightful having clean jeans. It was delightful putting them on, feeling their snugness, and catching that whiff of fabric softener.

And as soon as we get to the bus stop my daughter asks if she can climb my legs. “No!” I said. It’s not like I thought I’d be able to keep them clean forever, just, well, I’d been wearing clean jeans for less than an hour, you know?

And then the baby wanted to stand in my lap and then, wouldn’t you know it, I splash coffee on them, just a bit, you can’t really tell, but then tonight was multicultural night at school and I fed an eighteen month old fried rice, soba noodle salad, and lasagna in my lap.

It wasn’t pretty people. In the now-immortal words of Queen Elsa I had to “let it go”.

All of this has me thinking. Because in moms group we’ve been talking about ritual and the meaning behind the things we do as a family. And during a collective bout of whining the other night right around bath time I cupped my four-year-old daughter’s chin and looked her in the eye.

“Do you know why we give you baths?” I said, “Because God gave you to us to take care of and because I want you to know how good it feels to be made clean.”

So, tonight I scrubbed the soba noodles out of my denim. And I picked a few cheerios up off the floor.

And I wondered if this is the ritual my heavenly Father gave me to do, this endless cleaning? Like a dirty faced child throwing a tantrum against the inevitable scrub, do I misunderstand the favor? “See how good it feels to make things new, Barbara? Do it again! Feel my joy at making dirty things clean!”

Today I realized all over again that there will never be a moment in my life when, by the energy of my own industry, I will be able to make everything clean all at the same time. Thank goodness! I rather think I need the practice of dependence in this area.

Hmm, I think I might have just given you a spiritual basis for maid service.

You’re welcome.