Being a “Good Adult”

As I cleaned the house this evening, I was paying half-attention to a movie that the Bug was watching while coloring. The Little Prince is a Netflix film about “an overscheduled girl befriending an eccentric aviator, he regales her with tales about the adventures of an unusual boy who lives on an asteroid” (Netflix).

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I didn’t see much of the film, but what I did see struck a chord with me. The “overscheduled girl” didn’t simply have a busy schedule, her entire life was planned out for her. Literally. The girl’s mom is so worried about her being a “good adult” that she doesn’t give her even a chance to be a kid. From interviewing for the most elite school (the child that interviews before our girl comes out bawling, as do his parents) to then moving to a home where she is forced to go to said school, to her Life Plan. (Side note, I couldn’t figure out how to imbed a YouTube video so check out the link above.)

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And it was at this point that it hit me, is this how my students feel? Do they think we only see their future and not their present? Because…man, I get that the mom’s heart was in a good place but holy jeez – give the kid a break! In fact, when the Little Girl does break the oh-so-precious schedule it does not go over well with mom.

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I want my kiddos (students and Adalynn) to know that their future is important, but so is their present. I truly believe that we get so caught up in preparing students to be “college-and-career” ready that we forget about allowing the time to explore, make mistakes, and most importantly BE CREATIVE. In the film, the ‘corporate word’ neighbors think the aviator is crazy because he doesn’t fit into the “box” that they have build their lives into.

little prince houses

He is creative, lives in the present, and doesn’t care what others think. Does this make him less of a “good adult?” Absolutely not. He allows the Little Girl to be creative and think outside of her reality.

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I want to find a way to prepare my students to be “good adults” without making them think daily about it now. They don’t need to play every sport, be in every club, make every grade, do every activity to be a success. Maybe letting kids be kids is what makes them into good adults.

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I am from

I am from a coffee pot percolating in the kitchen,

books piled, dog snoring, cuddled under blankets hiding chocolate wrappers.

From church, education, music, high-heels, fixed hair, mascara, lip gloss, and dresses.

I’m from adoptions and the joining then breaking of families.

From alternating Christmas and Thanksgiving, Halloweens spent waiting at the window.

Easter in dresses, in town, quick phone calls to the farm.

The 4th of July with bonfires, cantaloupe, and fireworks late into the night.

I’m from the pull on both sides, a tug-of-war played with words and emotions.

I am from three homes but many houses.

From the white farmhouse bought on a dream and promise.

I’m from the Grandfather clock never chiming on time, a wood stove burning through the cold winter night with wood chopped and collected earlier that day.

From sisters all piled in one bed – shoulder to shoulder to shoulder – Dad telling stories to help us forget the cold and put us to sleep.

I’m from pretending to not see his tears when his dream was shattered with four words, “I want a divorce.”

I am from the Sunflower house – yellow with green shutters, pink and red flowers in the yard, notes from the piano drifting out of the perpetually swinging door.

From chocolate chip cookies, 3 ladybugs, summers spent outside on bikes or in the pool.

I’m from hiding at night from the screaming and fights. Shoving chairs under doorknobs, three sisters staying safe from the monster outside.

I am from the small, tan, ranch style home always in renovation,                                               with the German Shepard guarding the door – protecting his family inside.

From winks, antique malls, “Fools Rush In,” and finding a small piece of calm in chaos.

From the three Japanese Maples in the carefully sculpted landscape.

The Yoshino Cherry planted for the beautiful child who changed our home forever.

that will grow with her

year by year.

I am from family. Broken and whole.

From love. From dreams. From home.

Inspired by “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon

Continue reading “I am from”

(un)balanced.

meditation-833864_640Warning: Deep honesty and self-reflection ahead. You may want to turn back now.

It’s amazing to me how quickly an individual can change in such a short amount of time. Four years ago I was a totally different person than I am today.

Four years ago I had just married my husband – and as stuck-up as this sounds – I was determined to be the “best” of the police wives. I was going to be successful, kind, healthy…. the type of wife that when the guys talked would make the other officers think, ‘Dang, Bryson is so lucky.’

So, I started doing daily devotionals, prayed in the morning and at night, did something daily for me. I joined the gym and started working out.  The feeling of lifting weights, cardio, waking up sore the next day was like a drug to me. (Although if anyone would ask, I put on the “It’s horrible, I have to ‘make’ myself do it” attitude.) I would eat fresh vegetables and fruit for lunch. Drink tons of water, watched the amount of sweets that I ate, and meal planned. Dinners were homemade and balanced. Often full meals were delivered to the police department for anyone on duty. I dressed nicely each day. Our home was tidy and clean. And I loved it. I loved being the type of wife that my husband deserved. I loved myself.

But things have changed, I lost sight of who I am.

Circumstances have changed, people develop, blah…blah…blah…I’ve heard it, I know it, I get it. But I miss me. I feel unbalanced.

The other day, I did a 30 minute walking workout tape (YES…A WALKING TAPE) and I felt like I was going to pass out. Vegetables? Hahahahaha I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time I cooked a vegetable. Dinners for the past (how old is my daughter?) two years have (for the majority) come from a paper bag. Cooking leads to dirty dishes, dirty dishes lead to ego-1010017_640.jpgme having to do them, and that leads to me being bitter that even though I’m not the only one who ate, I am the only one who cleans it up. Clothes are piled in laundry baskets around my house. While I sit in sweats that, if I am honest, are too tight and uncomfortable. I’m a mess and I don’t care enough to do anything about it. I’m not a wife that my husband can be proud of. Most days I can barely look in the mirror.

So why put all of that out for the world? Frankly, I’m scared. I’m terrified that if I don’t find myself soon I will be lost forever. But where do I start? With so far to go to get back to
me how do I start? What if I fail…again. Google “Find yourself again” and tips/steps to follow will pop up like crazy. As though an internet “how to” will magically “fix” everything.

People will say, “You’re fine Laura” or “You’re over thinking things.”I  learned early in life that outward appearances don’t tell half the story. To keep things hidden, don’t share your true self, and be who they want you to be. So I do.

Life has taught me to follow along, fit in. When everyone is venting,  I complain about my husband and immediately feel a sense of guilt and betrayal. Diets? Sure I’ll say I’m on one, only to stuff myself with junk whenever I’m home. Being a ‘control freak?’ You betcha, as long as you don’t know that I am barely grasping at straws the majority of the time. Teacher who loves her students? Of course I am! Until the doors are closed and a feeling of dread, gloom, and despair fill me so deep it is hard to break through.

There have been a few times when the surface has cracked. When life becomes so much that I can’t keep face. Comments slip out, I lose control, and I regret every.single.time. that has happened.

One of these times happened right after we were married. We had found out we are expecting, but not really. For three weeks the doctors went back and forth on if I truly was pregnant. They couldn’t figure out what was happening. At the same time, Bryson’s Aunt had passed away and we were left in charge of her hoarded duplex. I kept it together for three weeks. Then one day we found out that yes, we were pregnant. No, the baby wouldn’t survive and we had to terminate the pregnancy for my safety. That has been my biggest crack. I was starting in Cameron the same month, and I would blurt out “I’m dealing with an ectopic pregnancy.” to anyone. I don’t remember saying it. I know I did because the awkwardness of it comes up a lot. If people bring it up, I laugh. “Sure I say things I shouldn’t – awkward Laura!” But inside, I am mortified. I was going through something that to me is still traumatic. I can’t think about that time in my life without cracking, without wanting to go and hide. But I laugh….silly me, saying things I shouldn’t!

So I find myself now wanting to go back to me, without ever having truly been me.  A journey it is. A clear slate, Wiki’s Step 4 in finding yourself again:

Prepare to begin again with a clean slate: 

  • This step may take some major rehabilitation for some individuals but putting it into the too-hard basket won’t make it go away. Remember, you can’t drive your life forward if you are always gazing through your rear-view mirror!

Thanks Wiki for the advice, I’m sure it will be as easy as you tell me!

I will try to find balance by finding my true self. Failure? More than likely. Success? Slim…oh so slim. But those that I love deserve me to take the chance. I deserve the chance.

 

Cake, Momma

Dear Adalynn Jun,

Last night we made a two layer cake. It wasn’t anyone’s birthday or an old family recipe. However, this cake is one I will remember for a long time.

I have been a not-so-attentive mom the past few weeks. I have been selfish and putting myself before you and Daddy. And I am completely filled with guilt and regret. My New Year’s resolution was to be present and I am completely failing at it. It’s not because I’m spending a ton of time on social media or streaming movies.

It’s grad school. One thing that I love, learning, is taking time away from the people I love. And my heart is breaking every day.

So, we made a cake. I wanted to do something that you would enjoy and would keep your attention. I wanted you to have my complete undivided attention. Especially since lately you have stopped asking for me and started asking for daddy. I can’t help but feel like this is because of how I haven’t been present.

The recipe was a simple Sweet Strawberry Cake from Kraft – it was easy and delicious. You got to add the ingredients, stir, mash the strawberries, and help me pour it into the pans. While cooking, we cuddled on the couch and watched Zootopia. Every few minutes you asked me to turn on the oven light so you could check the cakes.

When they were done you helped them cool by blowing on them. Watching your excitement at something so simple reminded me how grateful I am to be your momma.

To a lot of people, this may seem like a silly thing. A moment that would come and go without second thought. But for us, baking a cake was a reminder of what was important in life. Spending time with those you love.

Sadly, after the cake was iced and eaten, I went back to work and you went back to independent play. Please stay patient with me, sweet girl, for the next few months. I know that I am saying “Not right now” or “After my homework” a lot lately. And for that I am forever sorry. But know that if I didn’t think it was important for you to see me achieve a life-long goal I wouldn’t be doing it.

I want to be an example for you that anything is possible. You can do and be anything you want. And when you choose what that dream is I will be right by your side – just like you are by mine now.

I love you dear Bug. A Bushel and A Peck and A Hug around the Neck.

The piano

Growing up we moved, a lot. After my parents divorced we moved into ‘the little yellow house.’ The house was small but perfect for a mom with three daughters. We ended up moving into this house three different times in ten years (twice of these in less than one year). Add in two different farmhouses, two duplexes, one move across the state and my family has become moving experts. Seriously, we could start a business.

The first thing that we moved every single time was our piano. My mom had gotten this when we first moved to Oregon. It was her dream that each of her children be able to play. So when we started kindergarten, we also started piano lessons. It was a non-negotiable.

My older sister Melissa started two years before me. For her, it was like there was no learning curve. She was a complete natural. Seeing the ease at which she learned created an excitement in me. “Melissa is so good at this,” I thought to myself,”it looks so easy…I’ve got this!”

Ha….ha….ha.

Our first piano teacher, Darla, tried so hard with me. Correcting my finger position while counting & labeling each beat. Showing me again, and again, and again where the notes on the page matched the piano keys. Eventually she moved and we had to find a new teacher. To this day I’m convinced that she moved because of me.

Our second teacher, Peggy Anne, was a saint. She was always dressed head-to-toe like it was Easter Sunday. Little heels, perfect hair, a startched dress with matching jewelry. Oh, and bright red lipstick on her front left tooth. Peggy Anne always had Melissa practice first while I sat politely and quietly on her couch for half an hour listening. I think she was hoping if I watched and listened enough that some of Melissa’s talent would rub off on me. It never did. I practiced twice as much as my sisters but I was never as good. (My younger sister? She was even more of a natural talent that the older one. Super annoying.)

I stopped lessons in tenth grade. Figuring after that long throwing in the towel wasn’t “giving up” just accepting reality. In college I needed a music credit, so I enrolled in piano. It was like reliving my childhood all over again. I was the worst in class even though I practiimg_2329ced longer and harder than everyone else.

On the first date with my husband, I mentioned that I grew up playing the piano. While the hubby can’t remember to pick up his laundry or rinse out his milk cup, he does remember random comments that I have made throughout our relationship. Comments such as, “I would love for my future children to grow up with a piano in the house.” For my  first mother’s day my husband surprised me with a piano for our home.

Sentimentally, I love it. It reminds me of evenings in the living room, taking turns practicing while the other sisters read. Sadly, the piano sits. Most of the time unplayed. Honestly, I’m scared to try again. I know that it will be hard and I’ll get frustrated with myself. But then my heart pipes up and the piano calls to me, “You love me. You know you want to play me. Come on over and sit down.”

But for now, it sits with decorations on top, unplayed, out-of-tune, and waiting for attention. Maybe one day I won’t keep walking, but will sit down and relearn one of the very few consistencies from my childhood.