Friday, May 18, 2007

OPM Anonymous

Hi. My name is Eileen and I'm an Over Protective Mom.

~Hi Eileen!~ (That's your line, speak clearly, reach for the back row.)

I'd like to tell you there is a day that it started. Maybe the day I got that horrible email about the three year old who was abducted in England. Maybe the day someone I "knew" from the Internet had a child killed in an unfortunate driveway accident. Maybe...but probably I was born this way. I'm not a risk taker. I was the sit and read books kid. I had a fear of things like bleeding. I avoided it at all costs. Which might have been nice for MY mother. Maybe. But it really doesn't do my two boys any good. Two boys.

You know I have heard people say things like "How can you look at a sunset, or a flower, or a new born baby, and not know that there is a God?" I dunno. I look at that as astounding circumstance, the brilliance of cause and effect and chance. But if there ever were an argument for the existence of the almighty, I believe it would be the fact that this wall flower, book reading, liberal, pacifist, candle meditation loving round girl somehow birthed the modern day version of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn (I'll let you decide who is who...) That, to me is evidence of not only a higher power, but one with a sense of humor, (and may also support evidence that this higher power is kind of mean).

So last night after a good couple of hours of, "Please don't touch that. Hey we don't throw rocks at cats! Why are we pouring water into a cardboard box? Where is the hamster now? Oh, no, please not in your ear...or no...not there either...Are you licking me? Why are you licking me?" I was laying on my bed blinking. I wish I could tell you some grand epiphany came to me but my brain had stopped working. The realization was old and new and old and new. They aren't going to change. You have to adapt.

And I do, not just for my own sanity, but for theirs. They are boys. Boys experiment. They bleed. And they like it. And sooner or later they'll be better men for it. And I might survive too. But I have doubts about the hamster.

Ironically enough, I got a book recommendation today. I ordered it for the boys, hopefully it will be here just in time to take on our vacation next week. Read the interview with the author at Amazon. Written by brothers dontcha know. Anyway, I guess summer is as good a time as any to begin living a dangerous life. I'll bring the band-aids.

The Dangerous Book for Boys
By Conn Iggulden
Release date: By 01 May, 2007

Saturday, May 12, 2007


It was tentative and uneasy, but I slipped my shoes off and slid my toes into the grass. I remember suddenly that no matter how lush and lovely it seems, that it will always surprise you with sharp angles of thick cut stalks and the coolness of it. I'd told someone recently that putting my bare feet in grass always made me remember my grandmother's laugh. That only made me realize how long it had been since I'd done it. I couldn't force myself to stay long. The rush of memories was so strong, so pleasant, so...uncomfortable. I'm not sure why uncomfortable.

The best days of my life were spent in the company of my grandparents. I wanted to say "in the company of my grandmother" but I know in truth, as hard as my relationship with him was, my grandfather contributed a great deal to that bliss. I remember waking in the attic bedroom, crammed full with artifacts of several lives...theirs, their parents', my mother's, even mine. There was never enough room to do much more than walk around the bed, but it was my favorite room in the house. I dug through boxes, imagining my grandmother in this dress, my grandfather smoking that pipe, or marveling at strange things that seemed to have no logical purpose. There were books and fountain pens, hats and dime store jewelery. It was a treasure trove.

But what I remember most of all is waking up, bright light, a fresh breeze and the lilting sounds of a tiny town waking up wafting through the windows, lifting the curtains in a lazy dance. There was the familar smell of eggs frying in my grandmother's cast iron skillet and the unmistakable sounds of dishes clattering and my grandfather coughing himself awake in the bathroom. I would hear my mother and grandmother talking, and Paul Harvey or the local weather on the radio. And bad country music. I'd do the obligatory dance outside the bathroom door as I waited for my grandfather's endless morning preparation to cease and then would sit sleepily down to my glass of Tang and whatever cereal I'd talked my grandmother into that week.

The summer days we spent there were endless chores that seemed like vacation to me...painting the screens, hanging laundry on the line, peeling potatos for dinner. I built sand castles in the street (it was the sandhills after all and the "street" was indeed sand!) and hiked up the road to look at the neighbor's great nasty Thanksgiving turkey, strutting around the yard and scaring the chickens. I snooped through my grandfather's shop and wondered about how many ways there was to put all these things together and the marvelous things I could build. Grandma and I would play Kings on the Corners, and she didn't let me win because I was a kid. In fact, she didn't let me win because she was a kid herself at heart. At night, after the dishes were washed and put away the grown ups would sit in lawn chairs and I would sit in the grass looking for four leaf clovers. While the clover was the bane of my grandfather's gardening experience, for me, it was the best thing his lawn could offer. I would lay there for hours examining each individual clover, excitedly plucking some out, only to realize that I had been deceived. I would pull up a healthy three leaf clover once in a great while and tear a leaf down the middle, trying to convince myself that I'd found one, but it was just a game I played to keep my spirits up.

My grandmother was diagnosed with lymphoma in 1982, the summer I was 13. While she lived for another four years, she never came home again and it was never the same without her.
I did eventually find a four leaf clover though. She was gone by then and I was 22 years old. I put it in her jewelery box. It was gone the next time I came home. I suppose my mother might have found it and thrown it out. But I like to think Grandma found it and knew it was something I wanted to share with her.

I had a friend recently ask me to think about what home feels like. Home feels like bare feet in the grass. Home feels like a treasure trove waiting to be discovered. Home feels like people you know and you trust waiting for you with a glass of Tang while the wind blows the curtains beside your bed.

Happy Mother's Day, Grandma, wherever you are.

Happy Mother's Day to you too.

Yes, I did.

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