Shall I Compare Thee

Recently, I went to a writer’s conference. Since I am having some trouble with my eyes and have not gotten my eyeglass prescription quite right yet, my eldest son drove me. He is not a writer. He writes computer code, but that’s about it. His reading selections tend toward technical nonfiction, the Bible, and a little Sci-Fi.

We were chatting with a writer and I asked her what she wrote. The boy had no idea what Rom Com meant. It kind of rhymes with Comic Con, but he knew they were not otherwise related.

Later he asked me, “What did she say she writes?”

“Romantic Comedy.”

“”Oh,” he says. “Like A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Even though Shakespeare basically invented the genre, for some reason his answer tickled me to no end. Maybe I was fatigued, but for whatever reason it struck me funny.

“Well,” he said, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the only romantic comedy I can think of, except for The Taming of The Shrew.”

I promise, this guy has sat through some chick flicks, but apparently they didn’t cut the mustard.

Maybe all some guys need is Shakespeare. You know, a man could do worse than to borrow from The Bard. If your fella could sing Sonnet 18 to you at a key moment, it would impress.

Old fashioned is still romantic.

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The Book Nook

 

Just Visiting

Every Friday bloggers and writers get together and write for five minutes on a one word prompt. Join us.

Today’s word

Visit

My boy finally got his paperwork on his first house in order yesterday. Soon he will pack the truck full and drive away to get settled in his new place. My house will not be his house anymore, but only mom’s. When he returns it will be for a visit and no longer the place he calls home.

Yesterday he told me, “I’m getting up in the morning and going to my house to shower.”

“No you are not,” I said. ”You will bathe before you leave. What if you get in a wreck?” He may be a homeowner now, but I am still mom.

He put new door locks on his house, and turned the water on. He needs a toolbox. I bought him tools years ago, but too many people in the house and not enough organization has rendered them community property.

He sent me pictures of the treasures the previous owner left behind. One picture of dogs and duck hunters, which he hung on the wall, several vinyl records, and some 33 cent stamps. He also sent me pics of his curtainless windows.

duck pics

I have a chair matching the one beside my bed. It’s out in the shed. I think I will gift it to him. For when I visit.

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Five Minute Friday

What We Keep | Five Minute Friday

This is my  first Five Minute Friday post. We are given a one word prompt and five minutes of time. No edits. Scary.

Here we go.

KEEP

I keep many things

Old knick knacks from my grandmother’s shelf

Tiny dollhouse furniture

only to be looked at

Made of tin cans by a man she once knew

Its red velvet cushions not to be touched

doll funiture

A ceramic cat, curled up, unnatural yellow painted fur that doesn’t make me sneeze

The box my viewmaster used to be in

Other things collect themselves there now

Pictures and drawings

Cards from my children

Misshapen hearts constructed of red with flaky streaks of glue from a decade ago

Of all the things I keep I wish to keep a heart that loves

Full of forgiveness for the tattered bits and mismatched colors

the dust that clings to the corners

and sharp edges of all that is kept in my memory

Kept in my heart.

 

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Grownups Need Coasters

My son has been nudging me, poking at me with his behavior and mess.

Every day he leaves a greasy frying pan full of egg bits, knowing he’s breaking the rules. Dirty dishes and clutter on the counter. When he walks through my house he doesn’t walk, he tromps. Almost yelling, he talks too loud. Way too loud. He is getting on my last nerve.

I know what he’s doing. You can count on one hand the weeks he has left in this house.

It was exciting, buying his own home. Three bedrooms, two baths, and property lines marked by barbed wire. There are woods. He has already found the perfect spot for a someday fort. Not the usual first home.

He has stayed here, at my place, to help with things out of necessity. Meantime, he has saved his money, for the most part. As a momma I confess, anytime saving is brought up I tell him he could save more. He can.

It bewilders him that he can easily afford this home he has signed on.

He decided early what he wanted in a house and this one is it. It’s funny. The location is highly desired, the property in demand, and yet there it sat for six months. Waiting on him. I used to go to Bible study at that house. I told him, “That’s a good house. Plenty of praying’s been going on there for years.”

Everything worked out perfectly. Inspections, papers, appraisal, homeowner checklists, maintenance charts, budget. All that is left is the waiting.

Now he follows me into my room and sits in the chair across from mine, his form settling down into it with an odd deflation.

“It’s a big house,” he says.

“Yes, it is.”

He sighs.

He looks at me with those eyes. They are a bit too shiny. I do not tear up. Mother’s hearts are elastic and hold in things that are of no use at the time. I can mull this over later, take this emotion out of its gilded locked-tight box and hold it close.

 

I lift my head and firm my chin. In my packet of mother wisdom, I rummage around, searching for the words he needs to hear on this last leg of our present journey.

The heater kicks on, the warm air whooshing quiet dryness into the space between us.

“You know, your siblings will probably stay with you quite a bit.”

He nods.

I know this is not the same.

He sighs again. It will have to do. His spine bones straighten a bit, taller in the chair.

“I was online, reading a list of what I need to buy to set up house, and it said I need coasters.” He frowns. “I’m not sure I need coasters.”

By seven months of age he had commandeered my coasters. They ended up in his mouth, gummed, sloppy with baby drool. In his hands, my coasters did more harm to tabletops than good. A favorite thing he liked to do was use them to scrape back and forth on the varnished wood. He would bang, bang, bang them against the furniture. The lovely sound made him pause, cocking his head to one side and crowing before he began again, a wonderful endless game.

A blink later, coasters were used as mini Frisbees, flying through the living room. You could put an eye out with one of those missiles. Too busy trying to keep him off the counter tops, I had little time to worry about the damage small rings of water could do. The coasters went into a drawer somewhere a long time ago.

We generally use bits of junk mail or magazines that are lying about, maybe a potholder. More than a few times, a clean sock from the laundry pile conveniently located on the couch would do. Strange how family habits take over and proper niceties are forgotten.

“Yes.” I affirm. “Grownups need coasters.”

“I’ll use a towels.”

I grunt. “You don’t have any towels, either.”

“Yes I do,” he protests, pouting. “I have two.”

I laugh, missing him already, and take today.

We’ll think about coasters tomorrow.

 

 

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My Mother’s Day Post

2014-05-07_14-22-39_640

I wanted to write a nice, heartfelt mother’s day post, but I’m having a hard time. Here’s a confession: I have allowed myself to be snared by the entitlement trap. The one that makes you question, “Is it too much to ask for a little appreciation one day out of the year? One measly day?”

I know letting these kinds of thoughts in only makes me and everyone else around me unhappy (If Momma ain’t happy . . .) so I try to not be that way. I really do. But when other moms start posting their pics, that familiar monster of discontentment rears its head and takes a big old bite out of my good intentions.

I know them all well, every member of my little family. I know the intricacies of who each one of them is, their hopes and plans for the future, and how they like the jam spread on their toast. Sometimes I want them to know me, too, to see me as something more than she-who-takes-care-of-us.

It makes me cranky. Extremely.

Here’s the very, very foolish thing about this mind set. I say all the time that what I do, being a mom, is the best investment I could ever make. I love being mom, and there is absolutely nothing I would rather spend my time doing. I mean it with every single molecule of my being. I say it to friends, strangers and my beautiful family constantly.

I think I want breakfast in bed, and nicely wrapped gifts of writer’s books that show deep consideration and thoughtfulness. Something that shows me they recognize my soul. I do get gifts. And I appreciate new cookware, it’s only that I would like a more personal gift item every now and then, perhaps one that reflects my interests. I want to be seen, acknowledged.

But instead of recognizing me as a writer or the girl who likes roses, this is how they see me:

The fixer.

Reader of every single text you send her. Ever.

Possessor of magic mommy spit.

Emergency cash fund.

Lady with the mop bucket when they get sick all over the floor.

The soft, cool hands laid on a forehead and a kiss on the cheek.

Mender of torn clothes and tattered pride.

Advisor. Advocate. Rear-end Kicker.

Roast-cooking, sandwich making, vitamin-pushing nourisher.

Listener of stories and complaints and dreams.

The one to run to with happy news. The one to run to with bad news. The one to run to with the worst news of your life.

The one who lets you cry, even when it kills her.

The safe place.

Home.

They don’t tell me these things, but I know this is who I am to them because I live it every day.

I hope they never, ever see me as anything less than mom.

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Beautifully Fragile

I feel very fragile lately.

I have been fragile for years, but it was a moment of clarity and surprise when a medical assistant shook her head and said so to me.

You’re so fragile.

The idea was foreign to me. I was the girl who dug trenches in hard, red clay to bury water lines, planted gardens and carried heavy loads. The girl who bathed dogs and people and wiped up vomit from the floor.

When she told me I was fragile, I laughed.

Who has time for that?

Now I have time. I’m not a girl anymore.

It’s a strange place, but not bad. Tears dampen my cheeks almost daily. But what days they are.

My daughter comes in from a trip to the movies.

“Bree asked me if I was a daddy’s girl.” She bites her bottom lip, trying to hide a smile. She looks at me from underneath her lashes but I can see her eyes, the way they shine. “I told her yes.”

And here I go again, wiping my eyes with a tissue.

My middle boy, the one who drives me crazy, the one too much like me and too much like his father, says to his little brother who is now a man, “I am proud of you.”

Their conversation continues to flow around me while I am stayed, becalmed in the current, bathing in that singular moment, hardly able to breathe and not really caring if I ever do again.

I cry at the note taped to the television, “Watch anime with me,” and at the memory of how he always laughs at my lame joke about anime and anemone. An invitation into his world is a prize. This is not a carnival prize, but a gold medal prize to be carried and worn over the heart.

My husband comes in, weary from work but too stubborn to admit it. He stands, reading the endless to-do list on the refrigerator. When I see him with the youngest man-child and get a glimpse of the crazy, terrorizing love that comes with being this boy’s father, the wild rawness, the manliness of it, moves me.

Against such things it’s hard to keep fists clenched tight around the small threads of bitterness gathered up over days and years. Maybe that is where the salt for all these tears was being held, waiting for release.

There are always ready tears for my eldest, who does nothing to make me cry, and so I do. What can I say? Mothers understand.

It took a long time to get here. I always, always knew it was all worth it. All the books and articles and wise women said so.

So the fragile girl laughed and wiped up vomit and held tight to little (and not-so-little) hands whether they wanted it or not. She waited by the phone and did not yell. She saved her keening for another day and stood as tall as five foot something allowed. Love made her strong.

It’s not a bad place. Not a bad place at all.

 

 

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Momma Told MeTitus 2 Tuesdays, UNITE

On Raising Conversational Men

 

Talk to him.

Talk about everything. Talk about things in the news, and things he likes and things he reads about, and things his friends say and do and about his dreams and yours.

Listen as much as you speak. Never laugh at his opinions. Let him keep his voice. Do not give yours away either, but temper it when he needs you to. Always flavor the conversation with generous doses of love.

Never answer “Why?” with “Because I said so.” Explain yourself in concise words. If you don’t know, admit it. If it’s the best you can do, say so. If you are wrong, apologize.

Talk about hard things. Those things you’d rather not even think about but expect a man to know. He will not find his way alone, or maybe he will. Maybe he will take another, darker path than the one he should and cause your heart to shatter. The harder it is to speak of it, the more you need to speak of it. Do not wait for him to bring it up. Speak and wait and listen. Let him be quiet when he needs to be. Allow him time to process. Give him room and space to think, so his thoughts can find him.

Then bring it up again.

Teach him to respect all people. Teach him that allowing others to have an opinion does not invalidate his own deeply held convictions.

In time, reveal your fear and your anger. He needs to know you are you and he is himself. He needs to know how to speak, listen, and think. So do you. Let him see your cracked places, without breaking him. A grown up man-child can handle your unwatered, passionate views.

Talk to him often, and rest in the words, and in the inbetween.

Do this.

If you are blessed, one day he will come up beside you and, without thought, steady you with his words, spoken and silent. And you will weep at the kindness of your son.

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