Losing Perspective

I tried to see the world from someone else’s perspective, to walk a mile in their shoes and maybe understand things a bit better. But …

Why in the world would they wear these ridiculous shoes? And where are they walking to anyway? Why are they going so fast? Don’t they care about the scenery? For that matter, why are they so slow? Where is their drive and intensity? Who’s watching their children while they’re on this stroll? Do they even have children? Why so many? Why so few? Are they just okay that someone else raises their kids while they walk? Isn’t there anything better they could be doing with their time? Is this why they went to college? They did go, right? Don’t they know that they need higher intensity than walking? If they walk they may fall and then who’s supposed to come pick them up?

Well, there. I did it. Hopefully they’ve learned a thing or two. Perhaps I’ll just stick with my own shoes. They’re comfortable.

shoes

Myopic Musing

I read somewhere that it can be difficult for prisoners leaving prison to focus on things in the distance. Eyes become accustomed to seeing only as far as the prison walls allow. I don’t know if this is true or not about our eyes (and probably not for all prisons – don’t some have chain-linked fences?) but it makes sense. We focus on our daily agendas because kids have to eat, houses need to not be eligible for Hoarders, and work isn’t going to work itself. It’s so easy to let things beyond the day-to-day become fuzzy and out of focus. We develop a kind of life near-sightedness and don’t see the amazing.

When I was in high school, my family road tripped throughout England, Wales, and Scotland. We logged day after scenic day in our Volkswagen Vanagon. My brother, sister, and I were all reading good books. As we logged in both miles and pages read, every so often my mom would turn toward the back of the van and yell, “Everyone put your book down and look OUTSIDE the windows!” And we would look. And outside the windows would be rolling hills with sheep grazing or an ancient ruin or Stonehenge or a picturesque village or a castle. And for just a moment it was disorienting because we were suddenly reminded to be in awe of where we were.

It was almost like we’d forgotten what an incredible adventure we were on.

And I’m afraid of no one

Today Keith and I went to parent/teacher conferences at Molly’s pre-school. We basked in that particular parental glow that comes when your kid’s teacher tells you how well they’re doing – shapes, colors, letters, beginning reading skills – we’re all over it.

It was a good conference. There was a lot of laughing and love shared in the room about this little person named Molly. With a mind like a sponge, she is learning more and more each day.

There were some things we didn’t discuss.

We didn’t discuss if it was right for her, as a girl, to receive an education.

We didn’t discuss if attending school would make her a target.

Where we live we discuss homeschooling, public school, private school, standardized tests, grades, college prep, etc. I engage in these conversations frequently.

But I have never been in a position to have to defend my daughters’ right to learn. I have never had to put my life on the line for their education.

So, today, as I leave Molly’s conference, I can’t stop thinking about Malala Yousufzai and her father. I am simultaneously in awe of their bravery while heartbroken over a world that required such bravery.

I can only hope that if I’d been born an ocean away, I would have had such courage.

In an interview with CNN from 2011, Malala said:

“I have the right of education. I have the right to play. I have the right to sing. I have the right to talk. I have the right to go to the market. I have the right to speak up.”

It’s sadly easy to sit in my safe life and take these rights for granted.

There will always be tyranny and oppression in our world. There will also always be people like Malala. She is just one person … one girl … one child. Yet the ripples of her bravery and intelligence are felt across our globe. I can’t help but think about all the other people, like Malala, risking their lives for rights that I take for granted.

I can only hope for a sliver of her courage. If she can stare down the Taliban, I can speak up for the injustices I see in my safe corner of the world.

After all, in Malala’s words, “I shall raise my voice … If I didn’t do it, who would?”

Your voice is not raised alone Malala. 

I’m at Teachers & Twits Today!

I’ve been blogging for a while now and I’m consistently inconsistent. My plan is to start blogging more regularly; I find it helps me maintain my sanity. However, one thing I’ve been doing consistently ever since I found Renée Schuls-Jacobson’s blog Teachers & Twits is reading it. She is fantastic – makes me laugh, cry, and think. I tend to read her posts while drying my hair in the morning. And while I love Renée, she has been solely responsible for some pretty bad hair days.

So, it is with no small amounts of blogging awe (nerdy giddiness?) that I’m linking to her blog because today I’M HER GUEST BLOGGER!!! Me, she of the inconsistent posts and bad hair.

Please click on her picture below (I know, I know … she’s beautiful and smart) and comment at her place. Her place! Because that’s where I am!! (Have I mentioned that Renée has some of the best discussions in blogland in her comment section?) 

 

 

 

 

 

I Remember

On 9/11/2011, I was a 2nd Lieutenant stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base. That morning my colleagues and I stood in our Commander’s office and watched the towers fall.

Shocked. Stunned. Scared. Moments etched forever in memory.

And then the day became a blur. The base went into complete lock-down. Everyone focused with intensity on their role.
We were the secure location the President was taken to but I, personally, felt anything but secure. I felt acutely vulnerable as we braced ourselves for the further attacks we feared might be coming.

I can remember thinking that everything has changed; nothing will ever be the same.

Shortly after 9/11, I was working a deployment line filled with men and women heading to Afghanistan. It was during the first rounds of post-911 deployments. While there was a renewed sense of purpose and energy in our military community, it was also a difficult time. Families had not yet grown accustomed to war.

One moment from that deployment line will always stay with me. The large room was filled with spouses, children, and parents having final moments with loved ones in uniform. It quickly became time to end the farewells. This was my job. I walked around the room making eye contact with the airmen or tapping them on their arms. They understood that I was telling them to say their final words, give the final hug, and walk out of the room. Unfortunately, they weren’t the only ones who understood. A little girl, maybe five or six-years old, watched me tap her father. She looked at me, burst into tears, and yelled, “NO!”

One week later, I found out I was pregnant. It was one of the most joy-filled moments of my life. And then I became that little girl.

NO!

No, I do not want my child born into a world where this can happen.

No, I do not want to raise my baby in a world that no longer feels safe.

No, I do not want to have to say goodbye to this little one I haven’t even met yet.

No.

But here we are – eleven years later.

And with time comes perspective.

We all still raise our babies and live our lives in a world where terrible things happen. But it’s also a world where men and women ran towards those towers to save people. A world where passengers in Flight 93 exhibited bravery that defies explanation. A world where men and women put on uniforms every day with purposes like protect and defend.

And yet, like all of us who remember that day so vividly, my heart breaks again on 9/11 each year. Because so many will never get to write the words, “eleven years later.” So many in those towers and planes never knew that they were saying final goodbyes and giving final kisses. So many, both that day and in the years of war that have followed, never came home.

Because the world, while still so beautiful, is still so changed.

What do you remember about that day? How has your world changed?

A Joyful Noise

It’s the little things in life that seem to give me the biggest joy. The miracle found in the everyday. Tonight, it was some beauty found in bathtime.
 
My girls (8 and 4) were in the shower and, as usual, being way too loud and taking way too long for me. I went back to give them the riot act and instead was stopped in my impatient tracks by what I heard.
 
These are my babies in the shower reminding me, once again, about joy.
 

I hope your week goes smoothly and you find little, unexpected moments of joy throughout.

Oh, Parenting

I talk a good parenting talk. It goes something like this …

I’ll not be a helicopter mom, bulldozer mom, snowplow mom, or tiger mom.  I’ll not look at my phone while my kids are talking to me or at least won’t talk to my kids while I’m messing around on my phone. I’ll walk that line of involved but not intrusive. I’ll be a fun-loving disciplinarian and practice structured flexibility. I’ll balance the roles of cheerleader, leader, stand-up comedian, mentor, counselor, tutor, confidant, and parental authority. I’ll teach my children about suffering and the need for compassion while sheltering them from some of the harsher realities of our world. I’ll live in the moment while planning for the future. I’ll nurture while challenging, protect while stepping back, and go to battle while letting them fight their own fights. I’ll keep my superhero cape pressed at all times and I will make homemade crackers, organic.

But, regardless of all these good intentions (or sometimes because of them), I’m instead the mom who sometimes forgets to sign the permission slip, who has to carefully select the picture for Facebook that doesn’t show the laundry basket of shame, and who sends the kid to school with clothes that didn’t have time to fully dry in the dryer. Fortunately, I do normally manage to compliment the wet clothes with mismatched socks.

I occasionally bulldoze and frequently text. I sometimes step forward when I need to stand back. I discipline out of anger and give in out of exhaustion. I am human – flawed, tired, and misguided.

But today, in this moment, I’m going to stop.

I’ll stop measuring myself and comparing everything to some elusive, imaginary standard. I’ll face the fear at the root of my expectations – the fear that I’ll leave my babies wanting, leave them less than whole, less than prepared. I’ll acknowledge my fear that I will fail them in ways so much more important than permission slips and laundry.

So, today I’m going to stop, take a deep breath and enjoy them. And tonight, when I fall asleep, I’m not going to evaluate and replay and second guess. I’m going to pray.

“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for the opportunity to love so powerfully in my life. Thank you for the moments to step outside of expectations and fears. Thank you for their growing minds and tender hearts. Thank you for making me, with all my flaws and fears and expectations, their mother. Thank you for making me enough. Thank you.”