Friday, February 24, 2012

Time for Inner Changes

They've already happened, apparently when I wasn't paying attention. And where do I begin? Let's start with a dead car battery...., I was making my daily endrun to get the boys with an added stop; pick up soft pretzels for the evening's Pack meeting. I did that first, then went to get the boys. Nic's pick up was uneventful; G's was until we got to the car. And the damn thing wouldn't start.

Nic immediately flew into dramatic overdrive. "MOM! WHAT WILL WE DO?"

I can't fault him; once, that would have been me.

I pulled out my work BB (my cell phone is officially dead from being dropped one too many times, and yes, I'll deal with that, eventually) and call hubby, and tell him to call AAA (after all, that's why we have it, right?) He says he'll be there as soon as he can.

Which would be at least 40 minutes. I knew it was getting on 6; we needed to be at the pack meeting before 7.

"Why don't you guys go over to look at the monster truck parked over there?" I had gotten out of the van, fumbled around for the hood release. The kids, however, lingered to see what I would do. I went around the back and pulled out the jumper cables, thinking MAYBE some one would stop. I see the pretzels in the back and wonder if they are going to get where they need to go.

Three cars passed. All the drivers looked the other way. The boys, seeing I wasn't going to do anything else for the moment, wandered off to the truck, arguing. Some one pulled over and parked to talk on her phone.

Which gave me an idea. I reached for my BB again, and this time dialed the cub master. "I have good news and bad news," I began. "The good news is that I got the pretzels. The bad news is that we're stuck over in the school parking lot."

Did he laugh? Probably later. "I'll be over as soon as I can."

Which was all the time it took to put on his shoes and drive over. By that time, the woman who had pulled over had driven her car over to mine. Two girls and a set of jumper cables with nary a clue between them about where to start: this is probably where S started laughing.

My boys ran back over. "Mr. R, Mr. R, what are you doing here?"

Giving mom an advanced tutorial. "First thing we do," he announced, "Is untangle the cables."

Yeah. Duh. Sorry.

"Kids, step back, this may blow up." And without missing a beat, he hooked up my car to my other good samaritan's (and cleared the trap of old leaves) and signaled me to start up.

"It died!" Nic wailed disconsolately.

"Nah, it didn't die, it's just tired," he answered.

I turned the key, and the engine roared to life, as did the stereo, which blared "Alone Again (Naturally)" I smothered a laugh at the irony. The kids cheered. S unhooked the cables and handed them back to me. "They're yours? Wow, prepared."

I handed off the pretzels. "This way, I know they'll get where they need to go. And thanks."

I called hubby back and told him to cancel the service call. The kids piled back into the van, and everyone went their separate ways. And I laughed.

"Mom, what's so funny?" Nic asked.

"You guys got to see what friendship looks like in action." And I didn't realize how true this was until I said it. "We had a problem, I asked for help, and I got it. A friend will help you, even if it puts him or her out."

Actually, my thought had been about the pretzels, and the last thing I wanted S to think was that I punted. And of course I knew that he would know what to do with jumper cables.

All this happens against the backdrop of conversations I've had with a colleague over the last few weeks, some one who wants me to look at things another way, to stop thinking 'either/or' and replace it with 'both/and'. In a somewhat related story, I've been thinking a lot of making better use of the gifts I've been given. Yesterday, I was tapped to give a couple guest lectures at a local university--something I had stopped doing for the wrong reasons.

Guess what? I'm back on the circuit. Thanks to another hero.

The larger story is that I'm finding blessings and opportunities in all the things that most people have come to regard as inconvenience (at best) and disaster (at worst). I know there are hundreds of inspirational quotes out there that urge you to think this way, but a vast majority of us really don't; we SAY it, hoping we get to a point where we may actually mean it.

But no. I realized in my drive home that I'm there. I'm really, really there.

And grateful, as always, for the people who show me the way. And remind me.

It's good not to be alone.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Feeling a lot of things right now. Gratitude sits on top. A lot of other things simmer below. I'm thinking primarily of our outing last night; Nic wanted to go to a fund raising event at a local eatery. We went; he knew some kids, we saw people we knew, but it was a zoo. On one hand. On the other, I saw a bunch of guys I knew from scouts there with their kids, like me, who weren't there with anyone else but themselves. One guy even sent his son over to us to offer their seats when they were done.

Nic went off to talk to some kids, and when I returned to our seats, he went off (I found out later) to stand guard at the kitchen for our order and bring the wait person over to our table with our order--a smart thing to do, considering the sheer volume of people packed into the small space.

That was his idea.

I've been quiet here because I've been processing a great deal on the subject of friendships and how they relate to me and the boys. That they do not have the same childhood experiences as hubby causes him anguish; I cope by telling him that their childhood was not all that different from mine.

Revisionist, much? Hell yeah.

I can write volumes on this subject, but to what purpose? Let's keep it simple; I keep the boys busy because it's easier for me to drown out sadness and hubby's angst and limit the kids' screen time all in one fell swoop. Oh yeah. Let's not forget alleviating my own guilt for not modeling better.

I need to write a few lines about this. Friendship did not come easily for me. I found myself casting a wider and wider net as I grew up, knowing that if I were to find like-minded people, I stood a better chance of doing so outside of where I grew up.

(It actually makes a weird sort of sense that my best friend was born on another continent and lived in another state the first 3 1/2 years of our relationship. But anyway....)

But how I got here....I spent a lot of time on my bike, riding far away from my neighborhood, a constant stream of daydreams running through my head. Actually, you could argue that my boys do very much the same between themselves, except they run lines from well-loved movies. And they sing. A lot. While I run them from one activity to the next. I come home, aching, tired, wanting to just sit with a glass of wine and a book, but then there's more to do to get them finished homework, bed time routines (they won't do these alone; every night it's like a whole new experience). Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Then I read this from Thomas Merton last night: "...self knowledge is impossible when thoughtless and automatic activity keeps our souls in confusion....we have to cut down on activity to the point where we can think calmly and reasonably about our actions. We cannot begin to know ourselves until we can see the real reasons why we do the things we do, and we cannot be ourselves until our actions correspond with our intentions and our intentions are appropriate to our own situations."

Here lies the intersection between my spiritual and secular lives; Fr M gave me the book (actually, all the PREP teachers got this book for Christmas), but some one I work with actually prompted me (unknowingly) to read it. And, suffice it to say, some things are coming together for me. I pay a whole lot of lip service to letting Go and letting God.

The trouble is, I have a hard time letting go. I'm beginning to get that. But on the plus side, the boys have something neither their dad nor I had growing up. They have each other. They are best friends. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

So. I have some decisions to make. And some cleaning to do.

Time to start putting my money where my mouth is.