Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Button Trouble

Recently I scored an awesome thrift store find. I found a vintage, early 70's era Irish wool coat.  Not just any wool coat but a "North Dakotan by Straus" Irish wool coat.  I had to purchase it because it was
A: only $10,
B: so heavy it would surely keep the bone-chilling, face-freezing-off North Dakota cold from my skin 
C: it had an amazing and immaculate faux fur collar 
D: My size, which apparently is the same as a 1970's man (?!?!)

It was all a sign that I needed this coat.  It is a double breasted style of coat and I realized after a week I had been buttoning the coat like a female does, right over left.  After realizing I could button it the proper way, left over right, it just felt so weird! Buttoning for me has always been right over left and this just felt akward and uncomfortable.  This feeling jarred a memory for me that happened a few years ago with my son.

My oldest has always fought me over wearing dress pants or jeans.  He would come out dressed for church in a shirt, a tie, and a pair of sweat pants. We would go round and round, tears ensuing from his hatred over "pants that button!"  Really I just assumed he was being lazy or that his sensory issues made him sense the jeans too tight and uncomfortable.  But mostly I just assumed he was being lazy and didn't want to go through the work of buttoning and zipping his jeans.

Then, one day I was helping him get dressed and was standing behind him tucking in his dress shirt. I went to button his dress pants and had a huge "AH HA!" moment.  As I buttoned his pants, I imagined being left handed as he is.  I then imagined being 6, and not having the greatest coordination and trying to button my pants.  I challenge you to try it sometime.  Buttons are made for right handed people.  The dominate right hand manipulates the button through the hole that is mearly held by the left hand.  If your dominate hand is left and your right hand lies there like a dead fish because you are 6 and frustrated, stranded in the boys bathroom because you don't want to be the "baby" who can't get your own pants buttoned, you would fight tooth and nail to wear sweat pants every day too!

This small experience was eye opening for me.  I think often times we attribute adult characteristics to our children; laziness, manipulation, carelessness etc.  While sometimes these are natural characteristics I guess, I think if we took a step behind our kids and saw things from their perspectives their behaviors may make much more sense.  Are they careless or are they exhausted from nightmare filled sleep they aren't able ot recall that is not allowing them to get quality rest?  Is their falling grades because they don't care or because they are consumed by angst from the kid that just won't leave them alone?  Is their behavior resembling a rabid weasel because they are are naughty or because the chicken nugget and fries from their 11am lunch is long gone and their blood sugar is 12 when they get in the car after school?  

For the most part, I don't think young children's behaviors are ulterior or manipulative but moreso reactionary to things happening around them and to them.  Sure there are those times where they may look right at you, and proceed to deliberatly dump their water on the carpet or grin devilishly at their sibling as they shove the last Oreo in their mouth.  But more than not if we can step to the side, or behind them and see situations from their perspective, their behaviors may make more sense. And really isn't that what all of us really want? To be heard and understood?  And to score vintage goods at the Thrift store.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 and 40

2014 brought my 40th year. 40. I am not sure what it is about that number that acts as a reset button for many.  But I guess in some ways, for me, it has.  This past year isn't exactly one I would put on repeat if had a choice.  In late February my brain broke, as I've just come to call it, without (despite no less than 5 well-educated opinons) real explanation and that in itself allowed for a lot of time to sit back and reflect.  I realize I've grieved this year, not the loss of a human, but of ideals we hold onto forever.  The grieving and eventual acceptance of certain things has brought about a sense of calm.  

I grieved the idea of a perfect family, where everyone returns "home" and stuffs themselves full of Mom's cooking and all the cousins play monopoly quietly and politely.  The adults converse of politics and stocks over spiked egg nog, as Andy Williams voice fills the home.

I grieved the loss of the perfect children, those who always remember to say please and thank you, and go to bed precisely when asked. Who complete assignments and remember to hand them in on time and practice piano without asking.  

I grieved the loss of the body that is firm, unscarred and perky.  A body that moves painlessly and quickly.  It is tan and unwrinkled; it is youthful.

40 brought me to acceptance.  I think many may interchange acceptance with approval but it is not.  Some very wise and beautiful people helped me come to understand acceptance for what it is this past year, and it is just that: to accept.  It is like the bow of a present.  You can not get to what lies underneath or the intent of the giver or even the gift without first taking off the bow.  You may think the bow is hideous and squashed or uneven, torn or tattered, but it is still a bow.  And you still have to look at it, and even touch it and deal with it before moving on.  By accepting a sitution, circumstance, or event you have paused to look at the bow.  You have paused to take a deep breath, acknowledge what is or is not in your power and then move forward.

I came to terms that any flame of hope of a "perfect" family was extinquished with a last breath on a snowy morning 11 years ago.  The reality is my Mom's death fractured our family.  And with any fracture, they can heal but scars can remain.    The truth is she was a self-admitted poor cook and we really only looked forward to her green bean casserole, and no-one even likes egg-nog.  I've accepted that we are far from any Normal Rockwell painting, and that is really ok.  I've accepted that "family" comes in many forms and sometimes, oftentimes, family comes in the forms of a red-headed italian or a full-of-love banker or an opinionated stressed-out CPA.  And I've come to accept that family can be established from the entity from which we are born as well as those relationships which we choose to be around.  

My kids are who they are and instead of being so worried about raising good kids, I've decided to accept they are good kids.  Perfect? Heck no. But they are not little asshats either.  The oldest will almost always forget to say "thank you" but is the first to cheer for everyone and anyone in any competition.  He is clumsy like a black lab puppy but is emotionally jarred when he witnesses someone being cruelly or unjustly treated.  My middle would rather chew on glass than admit she was wrong, yet has this uncanny ability to say exactly what I need to hear, when I most need to hear it; she tenderly gives self-worth building statements that are far more profound than her mere 7 years on earth should produce.  The youngest has a hugely annoying habit of burying socks in the dirt pile and a far too great of a desire to go commando, but his comedic timing is on par with those that actually made SNL funny in the day.  They are not perfect, nor do I want them to be.  And I've realized that as I look around at my own home and note what I love and bring me comfort are those things that are weathered, flawed, aged and have a story.  This is what I want my kids to grow into; loved pieces that are not perfect but what stories they will tell!

And my body?  I'm at the point I can look back fondly at my 20-something body, like one does about a great summer memory.  It was good, it was fun, and it will never be again.  I can also look forward to those Greatest Generationists that have maintained their health and strive to be like them.  I've come to accept it will always be a little squishy, it will be beautifully flawed from surgerys that gave rise to my 3 precious gifts and I am ok with that.  I'm at peace because it still works.  I can still move and play with my kids.  I can dance with my husband.  I can still ski behind a boat and watch my kids cheer when I cut a wake and erupt in laughter when I wipe out.  It still works, and for that I am not only hugely accepting, but grateful.

I've come to realize the beauty of acceptance.  I am grateful to those who guided me along this learning process, because it really is freeing. As i close this year with a heart full of love and gratitude, I wish you all a very beautiful, happy and healthy 2015!