Better Than A Sharp Poke in the Eye?

Lately, I’ve been reading some stuff. This stuff has lodged in my cerebral cortex and, as I have been going about my business, cleaning my bathrooms and teaching spelling and watching Robert Downey Jr. play Tony Stark in Ironman2 (more on that later), this stuff niggles. It pesters. It demands further review.

Here’s the deal: there have apparently been several different studies published over the past decade that have all come to one resounding conclusion:

Having children decreases your overall happiness in life.

Well. Tie me to an anthill and fill my ears with jam.

You can read more about the studies here, in the April 2009 issue of The Psychologist in an article written by social scientist Nattavudh Powdthavee. It’s a very thought-provoking article, or at least, it provoked many thoughts by yours truly. Don’t worry, I will share them with you. I know you were worried.

Obviously, the idea that children will increase your happiness is inherently flawed. Happiness, as everyone should know (at least intellectually), comes from within, and if you are an unhappy, negative person as a non-parent, you will certainly not become a happy, positive person when you introduce a demanding little suckling into your life.

However, the suggestion, or–seeing as how it has been settled by the intractability of empirical data–the fact that child-free couples are happier than those with children is a bit of a startling concept to those of us, well…to those of us who have ’em, frankly.

Four different studies have apparently shown that, once children arrive on the scene, happiness levels decrease, and marital satisfaction, life satisfaction, and mental well-being all take a serious hit.

Oh my stars and garters, what have we done? I checked my kids; there’s no return address label!

But let’s back up a little bit before we start researching time machines. I’m not arguing with the results of the studies at all. I truly do believe that they are correct, for what it’s worth. It’s just that they beg a few important questions.

First of all, how do we define happiness?

If we are ranking how happy we are, shouldn’t we seek to ascertain if we are all on the same page first?

I would hazard a guess that if your criteria for happiness includes things like a clean house, a peaceful, quiet existence, a toned and fit body, plenty of spendable income, minimal stress, and maximum free time, then having children is almost certain to make you less happy than if you remain childless.

I’m not in any way saying those things are bad, or selfish to want. But thinking you can have them ALL and children too is unrealistic, which I believe hits close to home in the “happy” arena. Many people go into parenthood with a grossly unrealistic view of what it will entail.

The studies were concentrated in Europe and the USA, which is also telling. What other cultures are as steeped in the have-it-all mentality than we are? We are told daily and repeatedly that a certain body and a certain lifestyle will make us happy. Happiness is defined continually for us by the billboards and advertisements that bombard us every moment of our lives. Children are diametrically opposed to that definition.

Let’s look at the facts.

Children will affect your pocketbook. While I do not hold to the popular “how much will it cost to have a child” statistics, it is undeniable that adding children to your life will require certain expenses to increase. Period. You might have to give up weekly pedi-manis. You might have to sell your boat. You might have to give up your home office to make way for the little tyke. You might have to choose between glasses for jr. and the latest home entertainment center.

Children will increase your stress levels. Sure, they bring immeasurable joy to our lives that we would never experience otherwise, but let’s face it: sometimes they can bring levels of grief we never thought possible, too. If you protest that your children have never, ever qualified for that equation, then get out of here. No, seriously. Go away. I don’t want to know you.

The more children you have, the greater your chances for that grief, in the form of sickness, emotional upheaval, or, God forbid, death. You have more to worry about, for pete’s sake. If you don’t worry, you’re some kind of android and, once again, I wish you well, but leave now. Most of us run into issues with our kids, and suddenly it becomes apparent that our superpowers are not going to be sufficient to protect them from everything. And what parent in the world would claim to be “happy” if one of their kids is hurting? And the more you have, the more your chances that one of them is not going to be blissfully content every moment of every day.

Along those lines, can I just say? Having children is cripplingly humbling.  Think about your opinion of yourself before you had kids. You were patient. You were cool. You were intelligent. You were loving. You were kind. Frankly, you were ten shades of awesome. Then kids came along and proved that all previously established levels of the aforementioned descriptives were grossly unchallenged and thus inherently erroneous. In other words: ya never knew just how great you were until you were incessently forced to prove it.

So there you go. The three reasons kids make us less happy:

  1. We can’t have all the crap we want.
  2. We worry more.
  3. We aren’t nearly as bodacious as we thought.

But hold on one minute.

When I see this list, two words come to mind.

Personal Growth.

Now, no psychologist in the world would argue that personal growth is not something to aspire towards in our lifetimes. Sure, our yearbooks all have “don’t ever change!” written in them by our classmates, but who truly wants to remain static, stagnating in immaturity and boredom?

And yet, can I just suggest that personal growth isn’t always a “happy” experience to go through? Frankly, growth is painful, often to the point that it makes you want to lay down and die rather than go on with it. No one going through a trial will say they are “happy”, although once they are through it they will probably assure you that it was for their greater good to have been there. Trials and testings produce character we never could have found in a peaceful little cloister of our own making.

I’m not saying that the child-free have no opportunities for personal growth, just that those with children are prone to daily re-evaluations and personal assessments that might never occur otherwise (should the parents choose to accept such challenges, which is a whole ‘nuther issue).

So, do the results of these studies simply boil down to one real question?

Is happiness, after all, the be-all, end-all goal to life?

It’s a good question. One that we probably don’t really consider on most days. We spend an inordinate time seeking to preserve our well-being, establish a status-quo that ranks considerably above “just okay”, whether we have children or not. But, especially if we claim to be Christians, we are called for quite the opposite: to give our lives away for a greater cause. Happiness was never meant to be an earthly pursuit; our Lord has plenty of it for us where we’re going. Delayed gratification is a concept our culture will never embrace as a whole, but if we individually do not, we will most certainly be desperately unhappy, no matter what lifestyle we choose.

There She Is

She never planned to be a beauty queen. It started out as a lark of an idea planted by a sister-in-law, and took flight from there. After all, why not? She was talented and pretty and, most importantly, just bored enough.

It was the summer of 1962 in East Texas, and the air was thick with cicada song and perfumed body powder. She was nineteen years old and competing against eleven other girls for the coveted title. The winner would go on to compete in either the Miss Texas or Miss Arkansas pageant and from there…who knows but that the Miss America crown might rest upon her pretty head?

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Dresses were bought, or borrowed. Portraits were taken. Lessons in how to walk, how to stand, and how to smile were practiced. A piano piece was rehearsed for the talent segment.

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Would it be enough? After all, mere beauty was not all the judges were looking for, was it? Was it enough to have one tired classical piano piece for her talent presentation? What if there was a baton twirler in the mix? The heart failed even to think of it.

But no. She must add a little something. What was she good at? Really, really good at? The answer came swiftly: making people laugh. Quickly, with input from the aforementioned sister-in-law, they brainstormed a comedy act that began with much mugging, culminated with the classical piece played straight, and ended with the heroine falling off the piano bench with a resounding crash.

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(the little black dress didn’t hurt, either…)

The big night arrived. The local Jaycees decked out the college stage in keeping with their “Carribean Holiday” theme, and under the swaying crepe-paper palm trees, the talent was measured, the questions were asked, and the points were tallied.

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It was enough, and more. Though the competition was heavy, according to one newspaper report, the title was secured when the question was asked “How would you make conversation with Mrs. Kennedy if she was reluctant to begin?” Her snappy answer sealed the deal*.

The crown was bestowed, amidst wild applause. The former gave way to the latter, and the latter was never more surprised.

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She went on to the Miss Arkansas pageant, and should have won but for some unforseen pettiness involving just exactly which side of her border-straddling town she called home.

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She was awarded second-runner up, and was glad to be done with it, truth be told. Double-sided tape inside the bathing suit and vaseline on the teeth was getting old fast.

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The photo album is crackly with age, and the photos and clippings are faded by the years. Telegrams (telegrams!) are handled like artifacts uncovered from a long-ago age, as indeed they are. It is an old story, and one recounted with a smile and a shrug by its heroine, so irrelevant has been its impact upon the greater tale of her life.

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Yet, her children and grandchildren love to hear it. The glimpse into the girl this Mom and Nana once was is tantalizing. The newspaper clippings tell of a luncheon where each girl was auctioned off to the highest bidder (for the honor of having lunch together) in order to raise money for some unspecified charitable cause. Did such a time really exist?

It might as well be a million years ago for all the strangeness it presents. Yet here is the woman herself, the one who wore the crown upon her head, standing before us. She confirms that more than calendar pages have passed into oblivion in the intervening time. We look at the pictures and laugh and admire and wonder.

I know that all children think their mommies are beautiful. Most will insist that their mommy is THE most beautiful mommy in the world. I said the same thing in my childhood. The only difference is, I was right.

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And I still am.

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*(the response? “Discuss her children. Every mother is eager to talk about her offspring, and I’m sure she’s heard far too much talk about her famous husband.”)

To History, and Imagination

Her name was Placida— my mother’s mother– but to me she was Pat-Pat, the fixture of our family vacations, waving from her back porch to greet us as we turned onto the gravel driveway that led to her door. She was soft and welcoming (as the best grandmothers are defined) without being overly indulgent, and going to her house meant coca-cola in bottles and playing with cousins and swimming at my uncle’s pool and all the bliss my small heart could hold.

During our visits my mother became younger, once again the baby of the family, the little sister, the darling daughter, and as the days stretched on in our East-Texas surroundings, her voice settled into a familiar accent and made itself comfortable. We teased her about it, but only because we loved the glimpse it gave us of the person she was before she was Mom. Inside my grandmother’s house, layers of love surrounded and encapsulated me, the tiniest matryoshka doll within the cocoon of generations.

I never thought much about Pat-Pat’s life in my self-saturated youth, never wondered about her upbringing or probed her for details of her hopes and dreams and joys and sorrows. I’m not sure she would have appreciated the impertinence of the questioning anyway. It was enough that she was the woman whose heart had shaped the heart that formed my own.

Nowadays, though, I want to piece together what I know, to make a whole person out of her, to catch a glimpse of what bits I might have been blessed enough to claim for my own, beyond noses and brows and what formal portraits can give me. I rifle through photographs and pepper my mother with questions and speculate extensively.

Placida was a child of the new century, arriving at adulthood in the roaring 20’s, a time I imagine as wild and frenzied and perched on the edge of possibility, when new discoveries were met with excitement instead of glassy-eyed indifference by a society inebriated with technology and bloated by progress.

She was born and raised from French and German Catholic stock, the sixth child of nine. She lost her father, a jovial man who ran the town’s telegraph, when she was eight, and was raised by her no-nonsense mother into a sensible young woman with a prodigious musical talent. Her family was well-respected and genteel. She met my grandfather, surname Patterson, and married him at the age of 20, in the year 1924.

Those are the facts, as I have been told.

Poring over family photos reveals a bit more of the picture, gives wings to imagination and fleshes out the story. Here we have Placida, on a summer outing in the hills of East Texas with a group that included my yet-to-be grandfather, a man who loved to take pictures and later made a living out of doing so.

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I love this photo for so many reasons. I love it for the fact that her hair is in braids and she is poking around with a stick in the water and she is barefoot and she is wearing overalls. I love it because her smile says to me that she is a woman besotted with her photographer, whether she knew it herself at the time or not.

Another picture from the same day shows the photographer himself, claiming space next to Placida, whose right hand is in parts unknown. It is the only photograph I have ever seen of him where he looked the least bit uncomfortable, and whether it is from the sun in his eyes or the suddenness of the shutter, or the fact that he was sitting on her hand, I will never know. I do know that he looks just enough the part of a bad boy to make me like him immensely.

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I like to believe that we would have been great friends, this braided beauty and I, had I belonged to that earlier era. I imagine myself in the picture too, poking into streambeds and giggling over the attention she was getting from Mr. Patterson, lands sakes!

This girl joined her life to the just-bad-enough-boy, and together they raised a family of six through the depression and war years, the optimistic fifties and beyond.  She lost her beloved photographer in 1974, when I was six years old, and I saw her cry. That event is one of my most vivid childhood memories; it was raw and real and startled me with the realization that some things were so sad they caused even grown-ups to discard composure.

Placida lived another 20 years after him, outlived 7 of her siblings, and saw the gracious house she raised her children in levelled by the city to make way for a hospital parking lot. The building had suffered from too many structural impairments to warrant moving it, so she bought a mobile home and infused it with so much joy and life that we hardly missed the old place; if she could be philosophic about it, so could we.

As I became an adult, visits to Pat-Pat’s grew less frequent, as tends to happen. She welcomed the first few of my children before she was unable to differentiate one from the other, and the last time I saw her was a heartbreaking event that impressed upon me the truth that death is most often like birth, painful and confusing and lasting far longer than seems fair.

When she died, I felt that my childhood was officially over, although I was already a married woman with five small children at that point. But I was not the grandchild of anyone anymore; the outermost layer was gone from the nesting doll and I was pushed forth with only my mother between me and the largeness of the world. 

One day it will be only me there, the outermost shell around generations spiralling down through the years. I hope to be like Pat-Pat to my grandchildren, larger than life, a solid and steady fixture no matter how much changes in the world around them, always ready to peel the years away and let them be children again.

Just as she is in my mind, standing on the back porch of a house long-gone, waiting to welcome me back.

Never Has An Accident Been So Loved. Also, There Are No Accidents.

It’s my baby brother’s birthday. Pop over and tell him happy 30th. You’ll make his day! And if you DO pop over, please ignore his Santa post. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

30 years ago my life changed in a fundamental way. My mother went away for several nights and I was left bereft, an 11 year old who had no clue how to cope without her ever-comforting presence. Apparently, my father had even less of a clue, since I found him in the kitchen one morning with two pieces of bread in his hands, befuddlement written all over his face.

 

Which side do you toast the bread on? he asked.

 

Why yes, she DID wait on us hand and foot. What’s your point?

 

When she returned, she was toting an alien being. Red-faced, crumpled, and not all that attractive, he was nonetheless welcome into my heart. It had been 9 years since there had been a baby in the house, and it took me several days to recognize his crying as human and not some stray cat that had wandered in.

 

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babies make such nice Christmas gifts!

 

In the midst of some very trying years involving strife and rebellion on an epic scale (not my own, my older sister’s) in which the house was frequently filled with explosions that flung shrapnel deep into my heart, my baby brother was a singularly bright ray of delightful sunshine that never failed to lift my spirits. Watching him learn and grow and lisp out his first words never got old.

 

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just say no to home perms…

 

Everything he did was exceptional. This was partly because he was exceptional, and partly because I had no frame of reference for what was amazing and what was normal; at my friends’ homes there were no babies, only Wham! posters and sparkly nail polish and Judy Blume books. My friends all thought he was pretty amazing too.

 

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look at me and my bad-ass flash-dance self!

 

When I had my first baby, my baby brother was seven years old. He was a world-class uncle. He thought my kids were the sweetest things ever, and made them feel like their visits were his whole world.

 

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I believe that’s a “rock lord” in his hand. Does anyone else remember rock lords?

 

Two summers ago, he became a father himself, and became, as he put it “a baby man”. His writing about his baby girl never fails to awe me. Here’s my baby brother, all grown up and writing about spiritual stuff. Well…when he’s not writing about boobies.

 

He’s a little random, just like his big sister.

 

It has taken me a while to see him as an adult, I’ll be the first to admit. Sometimes I still want to smile condescendingly at him and pat his head when he talks about his dreams and hopes, and then I realize that I’d have to reach quite a ways upwards to do it. He’s got a real job and a real family and a real life of his own now. And he’s covered in tattoos. And I know they don’t let babies get tattoos.

 

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Ten things I love about my baby brother:

 

1. He cries at cartoons. Just like me.

 

2. He doesn’t think women should be shadows and stick figures.

 

3. He makes me laugh.

 

4. I feel very petite around him.

 

5. He loves my kids.

 

6. He loves his wife and would gladly throw himself in front of a bullet for her.

 

7. He loves his daughter with the intensity of a hot blue star (and no, I don’t mean Mystique from X-men)

 

8. He’s not afraid to admit when he doesn’t know something.

 

9. He’s not afraid to make fun of himself.

 

10. He loves the Lord and isn’t afraid to say so.

 

 

Happy Birthday, Chris. I was happy when you came into my life, and I’ve only gotten more grateful for the fact as the years have gone by!

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Cowboy X has been branded.

 

Four and a half weeks ago he reached up with chubby hand towards a mug of tea, just poured from the singing kettle, and learned what “hot” meant.

 

The liquid poured down his 18 month old arm, destroying everything in its path instantly, soaking into pajama sleeve, shockingly ruthless.

 

The shrieking was severe.

 

The clothes were torn off posthaste but the damage was done. Emergency room patched him up and the next morning we headed to Hillcrest Burn Center in Tulsa to see the experts.

 

How a mother’s heart breaks to watch a child in pain. My eyes brim over with memory and grief. How do you explain to a baby that all will eventually come right? How many times can you say I’m so sorry for an instant’s unwatchfulness?

 

When words do not suffice, it is enough to be held, and to hear the murmured prayers of someone who loves you, someone who cares more than words can say.

 

The verdict was deep tissue 2nd degree burn. The flesh peeled away in horrifying thicknesses, later turning white when underlying cells decided the damage was too severe to recover and gave up their battle as well. Twice daily we bathed the arm and slathered on the ointment thick for healing, wrapping and bandaging to protect the raw and vulnerable from infection.

 

Several times I had to sit with head between knees until the spinning world decided to come back into focus. I am The Fainter, The Squeamish One, The One Who Does Not Deal Well With Blood or Gore.

 

It felt so cruel, this bathing and washing. To unwrap his dressings caused him pain. To expose the damage to water and soap, to pop the blisters and gently help the dead skin release its hold did not feel kind.

 

He cried.

 

I cried.

 

Yet it was not cruelty, it was kindness. Cruelty would have been to leave him as he was. Left to itself, the dead flesh would damage further, spreading infection and disease. 

 

Neglect is never kindness. 

 

Xavier, with hitherto untapped wells of courage, submitted to the actions without struggle. Clinging to his sister, tiny feet wiggling continually in an effort to distract, he would bury his face in her shoulder until it was over and done.

 

And the Lord spoke. Oh, how He spoke.

 

This is what I do for you He whispered to my heart. See the dead, clinging flesh? You don’t need it. It’s a danger to you. Let Me strip it off. Let Me bathe the hurt with healing water. Let Me bind up Your wounds.

 

This world wounds. We are every one of us burned by the daily heat of life on planet earth. Some is self-inflicted, and some is poured out by others and we are simply bystanders, injured by default.

 

All of it hurts.

 

We can guard it. We can resist His ministrations, kicking and pushing Him away, telling Him we are fine.

 

We are not fine.

 

But it’s our flesh. It’s a part of us. We love it. We don’t want to see it go, no matter how damaged and dangerous it may be. I loved Xavier’s chubby little wrist. To see the flesh wash down the drain broke my heart. But holding onto it would not have saved it.

 

See what a blessing it is that he submits The Lord whispered again. See how much easier it is to get done quickly…how much less painful it is to him when he does not struggle. My heart does not delight in your pain. My heart delights in your healing.

 

As sure as I wept over Xavier, the Lord weeps over us. He is distraught over the damage of sin in our lives. He is only waiting for us to be still, to hold the battered pieces out to Him and let Him do His work of stripping and cleaning, anointing and binding. It feels like cruelty,  but it is the sweetest form of love we will ever experience.

 

Cling to Him as He works. It is enough to be held, and to hear the murmured prayers of Someone who loves you, Someone who cares more than words can say.

 

 

(This is the injury:)

 

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underneath

 

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(And this is the cleaning:)

 

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(This is the trust:)

 

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(And this is the healing:)

 

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A Day Morning in My Life

6:45 Try to sneak out of bed to snag a shower before X wakes up.
6:47 I am unsuccessful
6:50 change and clothe X, go downstairs to fetch bottle
6:55 empty dishwasher to get bottle, settle X with bottle and snack, give Gabriel (5) cup and breakfast
7:00 Discover Toby sitting in puddle on bed
7:05 bathe and dress Toby, strip bed, fetch toby cup and breakfast
7:15 Enter shower.
7:45 Exit shower.
7:50 Read Bible, pray
8:15 Go to kitchen to help Charity (9) butter her waffle
8:17 Check the sky. I only make coffee on days that the sun isn’t shining. It is partly cloudy today and it looks like it rained during the night. I make coffee.
8:20 Pour cup. Add sugar. Add cream. Add more sugar. Drink. Feel heart lurch to wakefulness.
8:25 Stop on my way upstairs to admire various dogs Second-eldest is viewing during her daily doggy-site-check on the computer. Mastiff breeds; they are all adorable. And big and slobbery.
8:30 Chase Toby off Chuzzle Deluxe so I may sit at my computer and make my daily rounds
8:31 Log onto computer to check email and surf a while
8:35 Decide I need some Audio Adrenaline. Crank it.
8:38 Dance wildly with 9 year old to “Big, Big House” (yay coffee!)
8:42 Suffer mild heart attack
8:43 Make full recovery
8:44 Dance some more
8:45 Read email from mother
8:47 Recognize a Certain Smell before I’m halfway through
8:48 Change X’s poopy diaper
8:50 Chase Gabriel off my computer chair
8:51 Finish Email and respond
8:52 Surf, surf, surf…………………………………………

9:04 Take boxer to the vet to get X-rays for her random and inexplicable collapsing of hindquarters
Things observed on the way to/at the vet’s:

  • Church sign exhorting me to “live honestly”
  • 3,000 year old man on motorcycle stopping at the donut shop
  • kitten loudly wondering where his testacles have gone

9:30 Home again; do the dryer to basket, washer to dryer, dirty basket to washer thang
9:32 Chase children off computer to finish bloggy rounds. Put Toby in bed for throwing getting-off-computer fit

 

9:53 Write some emails.
10:00 Succumb to haranguing conscience and make bed
10:10 Dry to basket, wet to dryer, dirty to washer, again
10:12 Work on a project for a friend
10:52 Realize this is truly inane and boring. Decide to post it anyway.

A Letter to My Mother-In-Law’s Heart

Dear Heart,

 

We are so sorry to learn of your recent complaint to the management regarding your working conditions. We honestly had no idea things had gotten to such a state of disrepair. We understand that you are disgruntled, displeased, and have had to resort to violence in order to raise some awareness. While we are sympathetic, we wish you could have used less painful means to accomplish the same goals.

 

However, in light of your many years of outstanding performance, we are more than willing to come to the bargaining table with you. We so deeply appreciate your decades of quiet and steady contribution, working around the clock with very little recognition, not to mention remuneration, and we want you to know that we are deeply, profoundly grateful to have been the happy recipients of all your best work.

 

You have loved unconditionally those who have been blessed enough to cross your path. You have welcomed without restraint countless souls who have enjoyed the fruits of your generosity practically from your first day on the job. You have been the vessel of choice to convey your Supervisor’s great love and affection to all who were placed under your care–an aspect of your career which you have performed with the greatest devotion and vigor.

 

In short, you have been an exemplary employee, and one which we believe other workers in your same field would do well to imitate. The world would be a much nicer place.

 

That said, we have taken this recent fracas very seriously. We want you to know that we recognize your demands for better maintenance in the future. Because we dearly, deeply desire you to remain an active and effective employee for many, many years yet to come, we pledge to support those efforts.

 

Please. Please, do not quit just yet. You may be bruised and battered by life, but you have so much yet to offer. We humbly request that you accept our meager and inadequate thanks and do not hold a grudge for past neglect.

 

Dear heart, we do love you so.

 

Signed,

your devoted public

Of Family and Food

Thanksgiving approacheth. Did you know? It’s exactly 9 sleeps away. Let me say that again.

 

THANKSGIVING IS EXACTLY 9 SLEEPS AWAY.

 

In my family, Thanksgiving is about laughing, togetherness, laughing, playing cards, laughing, and what’s that other thing? Uhhhh…hmmmmm….oh yes. Eating oneself into a stupor.

 

Let me just be honest here. Food, and its attendant preparation and presentation, has never been my strong suit. I have a giterdun attitude towards meals. I like to eat, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that I have never been in any danger of succumbing to hysterical euphoria over a menu plan.

 

Not so my sister.

 

My sister subscribes to Saveur magazine. I buy her cookbooks for presents. She has a relationship with food that I will never understand. When I express my (heretical) question that if they can put a man on the moon, why can’t they invent a pill that has an entire meal compressed within, complete with vitamins and calories and necessary nutrients?, she turns pallid.

 

And so Thanksgiving is her Valentine’s Day. A love letter to her extended family, written in green jello salad and signed with gravy.

 

She keeps emailing me updated menus for consideration with regards to the big day, and this is fine with me. I like knowing what I am expected to contribute, and what I can conveniently forget about entirely. However, her precise mathematical formula for figuring out quantities appears to be something like this:

 

Number of People To Feed X 42, plus extra, just in case

And then she asks questions like Do you think this will be enough? Do you think we need another vegetable dish? Are six pies going to do it?

And I reply: We will have 27 human beings in our house for Thanksgiving. Subtract six for pie-haters and those who possess no teeth for pie chewing, and you have 21. I think 48 slices of pie will be enough, yes.

Her power to remember and organize food is borderline supernatural. She senses gaps in the appetizer lineup like Spiderman senses a mugging about to occur, and ensures that justice is done in the name of deprived tastebuds everywhere.

 

In the end, though, I don’t know what I’d do without her. This is the woman who pulled out all the stops to plan and provide my daughter’s wedding buffet when I, in my newborn-fogged, sleep-deprived stupor, was thinking Wedding food? Can’t everybody just eat butter mints and peanuts?

 

I may roll my eyes when I receive the inevitable 2,382nd revision to the menu, but I gotta admit…she puts the Thanks in my Thanksgiving.

High Definition (aka reality)

Sublime [suh-blahym’]: adj. 

  1. impressing the mind with a sense of grandeur or power; inspiring awe; supreme or outstanding  
  2. September 16, 2008, in Oklahoma

My friends, today was one of those days

 

But in a good way. 

 

The sky, it was so very, very blue. The air, it was so very, very fresh. The humidity, it was so very, very…nonexistent.

 

 

 

My father likes to use the word bucolic when describing day such as this one, because it is one of those words that sounds so nasty and yet means something so nice (pulchritudinous, anyone?)

 

It was just the sort of day for a local wildlife park and museum oops they’re closed on Mondays AND Tuesdays, which seems quite excessive but nobody asked me  the zoo. We woke up with springs in our steps and smiles on our faces, and knew that staying indoors would be a travesty of monumental proportions.

 

Discovering our first choice to have gates barred and locked, we rallied our spirits and rejoiced that we now had opportunity to burn! More! Gas! and headed instead for Tulsa, and ye olde zoological park. Mercifully, our family pass was still valid, so we only had to pay for three of our children (I will not digress into a rant against bogus family passes I will not digress into a rant against bogus family passes I will not…whew that was a close one).

I do so love the zoo. It’s just one of those places that somehow retains a measure of innocence in a world overrun with the psychedelic and the strident. No licensed cartoon characters show their faces. No controllers or memory chips required.

 

And that’s the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it. Uh huh. Uh huh.

 

They had two baby chimpanzees who were quite amusing, unlike their elder counterparts who were just plain dee-scusting. However, I was excited to finally find someone whose feet look worse than mine.

 

 

 

On a fine day such as this one, many animals were behaving in ways I had never witnessed before. I mean, the cheetahs were actually moving, people. Moving. Cheetahs! Instead of lying in spotty heaps in the shade, they were walking around like creatures that, theoretically, can run upwards of 60mph. As if!

 

I was amused by this sign:

 

 

 

There was also a racoon who had taken it upon himself to declare Racoon Independance Day. He ran across our path and headed straight into a trash can, where he nommed a large ice cream cone and growled at the nice gift shop lady who peaked at him. She put a rather useless sign upon the can (“Racoon in trash can. Stay away”) and told us that she’d call The Authorities to retrieve the renegade.

 

 

 

But he didn’t stick around for that scheme.

 

 

 

He had places to be, and many more trash cans to investigate

 

 

 

In the end, though, it wouldn’t have mattered how exciting the zoo was. It was more than enough to be together, soaking up the amazing autumn air. Graphics provided by God Almigty. Soundtrack by the same.

 

We think we’re so advanced for all our high-tech gizmos, but how hungry our spirits are for a taste of His simple gifts. I was reminded of them again today.

 

HDTV can’t compare with a beautiful day spent basking in His creation. 

 

My Brain Is A Dial Tone

Since chicken pox continues to fry my brain cells (the baby has it. The BABY has it. Clearly my antibodies are defective), I humbly submit a letter, written by my eldest daughter, to my new grandbaby. I thought it was too sweet not to share.

Grandbaby. Heh.

Huh?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Baby,

You are the size of a small pea, or so they tell me. Your impact upon my life, however, is gargantuan, and continues to increase exponentially each day.

My whole body shook from head to toe the day I discovered you were there, hiding somewhere deep inside me. Tears sprang up as I staggered to find your Daddy, to share with him the two pink lines that boldly announced your existence. Shock and Awe were soon joined by Joy and Wonder, who immediately began to dance with great excitement and sing praises and thanks to your great Creator; effectively squashing Fear's cries of doubt and worry and leaving him to sulk in the corner and bite his nails in solitude.

Now I find that my body shakes from the simple effort of moving from a horizontal position to standing, while I search desperately for the water I must drink constantly in an attempt to keep my churning stomach from catapulting its contents forcibly from my throat. Tears leak from my eyes at the slightest invitation, and continue in floods even when they have been told they are not welcome at all. Yes, I was a weepy person before anyway. But come on. This is ridiculous!

Perfectly good food smells more revolting than I ever could have imagined food smelling. This dismays me, as I have always had a certain…fondness…for good food that seems to have completely fled the scene. I want to eat healthy things for you, to help you grow big and strong. Alas, I'm afraid that recently I've had to resort to eating not-so-healthy things simply because they don't make me gag, whereas the mere thought of anything else induces instant nausea. I haven't vomited yet and I really don't want to. So I choose not-puking over healthier sustenance. Does that make me a bad Mommy?

All in all, dear Baby, I don't feel so good. But I'm taking it as a good sign, and I hope that you're comfy in there, as I am decidedly not. Don't think I'm complaining, though! Okay, maybe a little. But I will gladly give up my own comfort as long as you promise to keep working hard, growing that sweet little nose and all that really important stuff like kidneys and lungs and whatnot. And don't forget the dimples for that dear chubby face that I instructed Daddy to give you.

I love you, sweetheart, so very much. Never forget that, even when you think I'm a terribly cruel and unfair big meanie poopy headed Mommy. I'll love you forever. And ever.