Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Epiphany

Thank you, Cathy Luft Goll, for your comment about Gracey being a strong independent woman, who at least had a rationale for not wanting to do what I wanted her to do. This is the basis of my epiphany.

As we go through life, we are encouraged to be independent citizens of whatever land in which we are a part. As independent citizens, we are encouraged to use our unique gifts and talents for the good of the entire community. This makes for a well-balanced life for not just ourselves, but for others.

As each of us learns to be independent, we go through phases of learning, whereby, we are called on to make a choice - me or them. Early on in our learning, we most often will choose "me". It's natural and it's also why we have those more wise to steward us until we can get to a point where all of our decisions are weighed against the "me" or "them" choice, with the "good of all" being the best option - no matter what it costs us individually.

Back to the Gracey situation from yesterday. Gracey wasn't at the "good for all" place in her learning yet...she is embedded in the "what do I have that is unique?" aspect of her learning. In this test of decision making yesterday, she passed with flying colors!

I, on the other hand, failed miserably at the test, because I took my stewardship role and made it a dictatorship, ordering the "subjects" to do my will merely because I said so.

I was not wrong, in wanting the family to be united in look for the church directory. I know, from experience that 10 years down the road, people will look to the pictoral directory as a way to reference things like, births, deaths, colleges, life moments, etc. I know that I use the directory to refresh my mind as to "whose mom that was", when I hear of a loss in the parish...or "when did that little Jimmy get old enough to be in college?" The purpose of the directory went beyond Gracey's understanding. She hadn't experienced the directory like I had; therefore, she had no reason to simply do what I wanted her to do without explanation. Or did she?

How often are we led to do things that we simply don't want to do, knowing in our heart of hearts that we have a darn good reason to not do them? How often do we take our own road, when those who love us and are stewarding us out of love, tell us to take a different avenue? It happens pretty often in my own life.

We MUST trust our steward! It's the only way. We don't know the big picture. We may think we do, but we really don't. We aren't that learned yet. Thank God that he is a wise steward and not one that rants and raves about obeying Him simply because "He's the mom" and "He's in charge."

If I had to do it over, I would have tried to explain a little more to Gracey why it was important for our family to have a united front. I don't think this would have changed her mind in the least, but at least she could have progressed in her learning in a more positive way. As it was, I "abandoned" her by saying, "I don't like you, anymore." That's not stewarding out of love.

Once again, God has taught me a valuable lesson through a suffering moment.....or it could have been that I just forgot to take my meds that day.


Saturday, November 27, 2010


I had a snapping moment yesterday. Here's what happened:
Our family was scheduled to have our family portrait taken for the church directory. I ordered all in the family to wear any combination of black/white/jeans. I helped Mickey, I tried to help Katie Rose but she couldn't get over the fact that she had misplaced her black leggings and really couldn't get beyond that. Everyone else was on their own.
When it was just about time to leave, Gracey came downstairs in purple pants and a black sweater with aqua zigzags all over it.
Me: Nope
Her: Why not? It's black. I don't get why we all have to match anyway.
Me: Wear your black pants and come upstairs. We'll find something else in my closet.
Her: I'm wearing this sweater.
Me: No, you're not.
Her: Yes, I am.
Me: No, you are not.
Her: Yes. Yes, I am.

I have not ever seen this kind of defiance in her outright. It's always been more subtle. It was a very interesting turn in our relationship. At that point, the discussion was no longer about what she was going to wear. It was about who was the boss. It was time to remind her that I am the mom and she is merely the daughter.

I was going to do my darndest to be the kind mom who gently eased her into doing what I wanted her to do. I mustered up all of my mommy skills from when she was a little girl.
Me: Come on. Those black pants that I gave you are in the laundry room. I just folded them earlier today. (Heaven forbid that she do her own laundry - okay...disregard that last comment. That was just my mean side coming out adding to my anger)
Her: I think by us wearing matching things, we are giving the people who look at the church directory the wrong impression of who we really are as a family. We aren't matchy-matchy.
Me: It doesn't matter, at this point, what you think. I'm the mom and you will wear what I want you to wear. Moms are in charge of pictures - no one else. So come upstairs and we'll see what we can find.
Her: Okay, I'll put stuff on, but I'm NOT going to wear it. It's just a waste of time making me try your stuff on.

We go upstairs. I point out some things hanging in my closet.
Me: How about this?
Her: Nope.
Me: This?
Her: Nope
Me: What about this one? It's...
Her: Nope. I'm not wearing it.

At this point, John comes in, looks at his watch at declares that we have to go. We are going to be late. I pleadingly look into his eyes, put my hands up and gesture to him that Gracey isn't wearing what she's supposed to wear and is refusing my order.

John: Oh, just let her wear whatever she wants. We're going to be late.

Really? I mean, really? Does he not see in that split moment that all I was trying to accomplish has just flown out the window?

That's when it happened. That's when I snapped. I stormed out of the closet, got my coat, told everyone to get into the car and I was eerily silent for the drive to the church...until...until...SHE decided to say:
"I don't why this is such a big deal."

Snapping Speech by Diane Dolan
(Imagine I'm saying this in loud words) THIS is why it's a big deal. I am the mother. YOU are the daughter. Pictures are the MOM'S realm...NOT the daughter's. YOU are only sixteen. I am the boss of YOU. THAT'S why this is such a big deal. I don't like you anymore. I love you, but I don't like you.

I will continue with the epiphany I had while praying about this situation this morning, because it stayed with me for a long time and I talked about it for hours afterward, commiserating with my sisters-in-law, who shared similar experiences.

I'd continue now, but my husband is hovering, wanting me to get the house ready for a showing in 1 1/2 hours from now. But seriously....check back because the epiphany makes this entire thing worthwhile.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Sleeping In Joke

I woke up this morning at 5:30am. I LOVE waking up that early, because it gives me a goodly enough time to reflect on my life before beginning the "real" day (the one in which reflection becomes fleeting, at best).

As I was headed downstairs to start coffee, I had a thought - an idea really - and decided to act on it. I went into Mickey's room and turned on the light. "Mickeyyyyyy. It's time to wake up." I ran my fingers through his mussed up hair. "Wake up, buddy-boy." I gently shook his shoulder and he began to move. I could just make out one of his eyeballs as he struggled to open his eyes. I shook him again. "Come on, Bud. It's the last day of school before vacation. Time to wake up."

(When I wake the children up, it is understood that I won't leave them alone until a) they show me their eyeballs or b) they give me a thumbs up)

He brought his hand out from under the covers and gave me the "thumbs up". That's when I let him in on my little joke. "Just kidding. You can sleep in for another hour."

In his sleepy voice, not really knowing what to say, he says, "You rascal".

I turned off his light and continued downstairs to make my coffee. That was fun.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fried Green Pickle?

Last Monday, Nov. 8, 2010, I woke up from a night's sleep, groggy, making coffee, having a cigar. After checking my email, my facebook and generally following my morning routine, I went upstairs, showered, put makeup on and tried to figure out what I was going to wear.

I pride myself and dressing "different", but hopefully in a cool way - not so much of a crazy bag lady way. I chose, that morning, green tights, a vintage dress of turquoise, green and black. I finished the ensemble off with a green blazer and a scarf. I think I chose boots. After I'm dressed, I walk downstairs to give the children their two minute warning.

That's when I see that I have a new text message on my phone. I would like to share that text message with you.
"I haven't spoken to my beautiful mother in a long time, and me and Chass are talking about what a wonderful inspiration you are. I love you! Thanks for being you:)"

This text is from my son.

Well, my heart is full and giddy and I'm smiling and just in awe of how someone's words can make such a difference in one's outlook on the day.

That's when Gracie comes upstairs, takes a look at me and says, "You look like Snookie."
I ask who Snookie is. "She's on (I don't remember the show). For Halloween she dressed up as a fried green pickle. That's what you look like...a friend green pickle."

Wha?....oh yeah?....well let me read this text that your brother sent me. I read her the text from Johnny. She just looks at me like "what does that have to do with anything?"

Oh yeah?......well....(I think real hard about how to respond and this is what I come up with).

"I guess we know who my favorite child is, don't we?"

The End.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A First

The other day, I was helping out Katie Rose with her baby sitting duties. She had rehearsal and I took her charges for her. The children are 8, 6 and 3. I was walking them home from school. The two younger children sat in the wagon as I pulled and the older child walked along side.

We stopped at the park, swung on the swings, enjoyed the fresh air, threw twigs into the creek over the bridge and generally had a fabulous time.

As we headed home, we had to cross a busy street, whereby a crossing guard waited to usher us. It was a busy street, near a railroad track, so we had to wait a very long time before our light turned green.

We took up conversation with the female crossing guard.

She began conspiratorially, whispering almost (as if she and I had a secret thing in common), "In a couple of months I'M going to be a grandmother, too."

(Too? TOO? - as in "as well as?" I wear glasses and all. I had a long coat on with high heels. I must have had a "fresh air" kind of smile on my face. But really? A grandmother?)

My reply? "Wow, that's great. Where do you get your hair colored?"


Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Social Studies Test

On Wednesday night, Katie Rose whined that she had to take a Social Studies Test the next day and she needed help studying. First of all, I hate studying on the night before AND I hate it when Katie Rose waits until the night before to study because she is VERY crabby and nothing goes well.

I ask her, what can I do to help her study? She says that I can read her some questions. This would be fine except that I would have no idea if she was getting the answers right or not and in her "night-before-studying" crabbiness, I knew it wouldn't go well.

"Give me the book. What chapter are you on?"

"Mommmmmm...I HATE it when you have to read the book to study."

"Well, how else am I going to learn the information so that I can help you study?"


The chapter to be studied was on the French and Indian War, the Stamp Act, other acts, The Boston Tea party, General Pitt, General Wolfe, George Washington and stuff like that.

I began to read the chapter out loud, but assigned roles to the big names in the story. Gracey represented France, Johnny was Spain, Mickey was Britian and Katie Rose was the Native Americans. I got to be Washington, John was Benjamin Franklin and so on and so forth. Pretty soon Mickey was in on the action and we were all getting quite emotionally involved in the history.

After a couple of hours, it was time for bed. We had all had a good time and I learned some pretty interesting information. I was curious as to how I would fare on the test, if I had to take it.

Seeing as I work at the school, I went to the SS teacher during Katie's Social Studies period and asked if it would be okay for me to take the test with the students. She agreed and the students were sort of excited.

I finished the test - it was harder than I thought it would be. There were two essay questions and some extra credit stuff.

I turned in the test when I was finished and as the students prepared to go to their next class, many asked what I had answered for certain questions - comparing to see if we answered the same or different. I learned through one of these discussions that I had totally mixed up The Townshend Acts and The Intolerable Acts. Bummer!

I saw the SS teacher later in the day and eagerly asked, "How'd I do on the test?"
"Geesh. You're just like one of the kids. I haven't graded them yet."

I arrived at work this morning with the graded test on my desk. I got a 90%! Katie Rose was excited for me. Mickey was hoping I'd get an "F", but when I told him that I never hoped he got an "F" on a test, why would he want me to get an "F", he relented and was happy for my 90%. Now, 90%, in our school, is only a B. I knew I had mixed up some stuff, so I knew I wasn't going to get 100% and it was really interesting to look over the test and see where I had gone right and where I had gone wrong. (On one question, I put down two answers, because I couldn't remember what the answer was) A note in red writing from the teacher said, "Mrs. Dolan, you have to choose only one answer."

All to say, it was a fun experience. The other students were excited to find out what I had received on the test and I think it was good for them to hear that I thought that the test was harder than what I had imagined. I hope it encouraged them in that they saw how much fun test taking could be.

My only fear in this exercise was that Katie Rose would not do as well as I had done on the test....but it turned out that I didn't need to worry. She got a 103%.