Peace In A Tin Can

Peace In A Tin Can

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Little Me Time

This weekend, my little Birdie graduated from high school on Friday night, and yesterday we hosted an Open House in her honor.  It was a very emotional and stressful weekend, with an unexpected hospital stay for my husband and a few snafus in our schedule, but we pulled it off gloriously and were able to give our daughter the recognition she so deserves for her many accomplishments.

I went from moments of overwhelming stress to moments of overwhelming pride and love for my family.  When my daughter walked across that stage to receive her diploma, she was not thinking of herself, she was anxious to sneak away and see her daddy.  When her friends came through the next day to help us finish the many preparations for her party, I knew it was because they care so much for my daughter.  I watched her as she gathered her friends for pictures and moved among her guests with genuine gratitude that they came to wish her well.  I knew that, like me,
Birdie was exhausted and emotional and her nerves were stretched a bit too thin, yet she presented herself with grace and a warm smile for everyone.  I was so proud of her, and full of love for my beautiful daughter.

That being said, she hasn't exactly made it so easy to love her prior to this weekend.  I know it's normal for kids her age to start separating themselves from their family.  My friend Susan told me that kids have to create a scenario that they can't wait to get away from, or they would not be able to bear leaving.  So as my Birdie prepares to go off to the big city and start her college education, she doesn't want to hate us, but she has to, or she would not be capable of leaving us.

As Birdie starts the process of separating herself from us emotionally, I find myself doing the same thing.  My kids are growing up, and leaving me, and if I don't find something else to focus on, I won't be able to bear having them gone.  I am looking for a little "me time".

So many women I know reach a point where their role as a wife and mother changes, and they seek new interests and hobbies to fill the time.  The women I know enjoy a variety of pursuits for "me time".  Some join a book club, some set aside a certain day of the week, every week, for dinner out with other girl friends.  I know a few who garden, or attend quilt making classes, or travel often to museums, plays, and exhibits.  A few golf, but most simply go shopping to give themselves something to look forward to.  A day of pampering is also at the top of the list.

Not me.  I go camping.  I don't go often, but when I do I am gone for four days or more.  My family hates it.  The girls complain because they have to do the laundry and cooking when I'm gone, my husband has to attend all school and sporting events, and their time becomes full with the usual demands on my time.  Sometimes I feel a little guilty, but I need my camping trips.  I need my "me time".

I have not had time to write for the past six weeks.  Preparing my home for the Open House while juggling the many tasks a mother of a high school senior has, and still doing my daily chores and taking care of my family, leaves me with very little free time.

While there are countless details I have attended to, I also carved a little time out of each day to photo journal Birdie's life.  The picture posters were displayed at the Open House.  I spent hours scanning old pictures, categorizing them, and creating files for each board.  I took great care in selecting only the photos of my daughter that showed her true personality, her accomplishments, and her genuine goodness.  Then I sent each file to the printer, and once I received the photos, I began creating the boards.

There is a board for every school photo from every year, starting with pre-school and ending with Birdie's Senior Photo.  I love the progression of years, seeing how she changed and how she stayed the same.  Another board is for family, and one is exclusively photos of her relationship with her boyfriend.  The big tri-fold boards are for documenting the amazing and wonderful friends Birdie has kept through the years and for her beautiful journey from infant to young woman.  Then there is the board which tells the story of the sports she has played and her memorable experience winning a State Championship with her high school cross country team.

As I sorted the photos and began creating her story, it was, of course, an emotional journey for me.  I will admit, I take awesome pictures, and Birdie's entire being, everything she is about and all of the things that make me so proud of her were laid out in front of me.  I took a little trip down memory lane and truly enjoyed seeing how my daughter has grown.  The boards were prominently placed during the Open House this weekend for all the guests to look at, point out their own memories of Birdie, laugh at her antics, and experience the pride I feel in my girl.  I felt a sudden stab of panic over the camping trips I have taken this past year.  Did I miss out on something?  Was there one day in my daughter's life that I was unable to capture with my camera because I left my family for "me time"?  The thought left me sleepless.  What kind of mother goes off into the woods to be alone when her beautiful family is growing up too fast?  How could I ever want to miss a moment of this?

But in the normal fashion of high school seniors, my Birdie has attended to her necessary emotional separation from me with the same gusto that she went after outstanding grades and excellence in sports. She is closing off a little piece of her heart to me, for now, with the same passion that she has opened her heart to others.  A few days before her graduation, I finished the final photo journal board, and I couldn't wait to show her all my hard work and passion.  I eagerly anticipated that she would be as overcome by the photo story of her life as I was. But when Birdie stumbled out of bed at 11:00am and sleepily wandered over to look at the boards, her only comment to me was, "I hate some of those pictures, I wish you would have asked my permission first".

I leave Thursday to go camping.  Alone.  I need a little "me time".

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I Do Not Blame The Clouds When It Rains

This is Rocky, the raccoon who terrorized my dog, stalked my nightly bonfire, and destroyed my cooler in search of food.  Upon finding nothing in my cooler but bottled water, Rocky expressed his displeasure by urinating.  In my cooler.

Sally looked so beautiful, sunning herself on the beach, until she took umbrage with my presence and attacked me with the intent of pecking out my eyes.

Let's not forget Sam.  He was delicious!   

The time I spend outdoors is always shared with those who live there full time.  I have learned many lessons during our cohabitation.

 I became friends with Dolly, though she stole my apples and ate them.  She was a sweet girl.

Chipper was a naughty houseguest.  He had no table manners and even though I don't know what happened to him in his past, he had serious boundary issues.

 Woody is a splendid bird, so big and beautiful, and quite stylish in his red hat.  He drills holes in my favorite tree.  Seriously, Woody, there are a hundred trees in my yard; you had to pick this one?

Todd the Turkey Vulture killed my cat.  It's another subject we don't speak of anymore.

I take great pleasure in watching the birds and animals of the woods.  Sometimes these creatures can be a menace.  People will tell me I should chase away the woodpecker, he will ruin my siding.  I should set traps for mice and chipmunks because they dig under my foundation, and the deer should be shot.  It's true that wild animals can cause damage to my home and property, and they have.  But for every infraction a wild creature commits against me, I have committed several more against them.

We cut down trees because they are too close to the house.  We put chemical deterrents around the hostas so the deer don't eat them, and we spray the bees' nest because bees sting.  We pollute the lakes and rivers, we clear land to build more houses, and we are a noisy species.  We forget that all the outdoor creatures are created with a purpose, and an instinct to survive.  In our self-centered world, we think we matter more than they do.  But the animals and their habits are necessary for us to survive.

I do not want to preach about the irresponsibility of humans in a natural world.  No soap box is necessary, I am not joining a cause, and I am not writing a book.  I just want to sit, watch, and enjoy the natural world around me without my friends criticizing me for my fascination with the order and common sense of creatures who don't over think their existence; they all fit somewhere in a cycle of life, death, and propagation.  They each fulfill their purpose.  Can the same be said of people?

I do not lecture my friends on the intricate balance to be found in nature, because I have been taught by the greatest teachers of all that things are what they are.  I watch the timeless dance of predators and prey, it never changes, and all the lecturing I can muster will neither change the way people think, nor will it change their attitude.  So I sit, watch, listen, and learn.  I can't change the way you feel about woodpeckers, any more than I can change the woodpecker's instinct to peck wood.  I can, however, admire the woodpecker's strength and determination, his single-mindedness to his task, and the goal he accomplishes.  I can be inspired.  Being human, I can also hope he chooses a different tree.  I really like that tree.

 I do not blame the clouds when it rains.  When they reach down from the sky and let loose their water, I turn my face to them and let myself be renewed.

I sit, I watch, I listen.  I let Heaven's light shine on me, lead me, and inspire me.  When the creatures do what they do, all is right and good, and I smile at God in thanks.