Today started like any other day – coffee and a hot shower (neither of which I take for granted). The difference is, however, that I am at the beach with my children – my grown children. I am grateful to have special time with them as they create their own lives; I am grateful for the delicious food we’ve had today; I am grateful for the giggling granddaughter that runs like the energizer bunny. Still, the difference in the day is a little sad – as I try to fill all of my days with joy and gratitude on this day I feel the loss for some reason – on this day of thanksgiving. Don’t get me wrong, I feel the joy too. But when I look into the faces of these young adults I can’t help but see the small children they once were. It’s not really sadness…nostalgia maybe?? I don’t know who said these words first but I have said them often. The days are long, but the years are short. Enjoy every moment that you can. Every. Day. Thank you for taking this journey of gratitude with me over the years. I appreciate having the audience! #choosejoy #gratitude #3things #emptynest
According to Merriam-Webster: home (noun)
- one’s place of residence
- the social unit formed by a family living together
- a familiar or usual setting : congenial environment; also : the focus of one’s domestic attention
- a place of origin
- an establishment providing residence and care for people with special needs
- the objective in various games
Home 1. Piedmont, South Carolina; Home 2. With my mother, so I may never find it again. With my children – so it comes and goes as they do. With my husband, till death parts us; Home 3. Beavercreek, Ohio – my familiar setting; Home 4. Mishawaka, Indiana – from whence I hail; Home 5. all of the above – we all care for one another and each of us has special needs; Home 6. Home = base; a safe haven and hopefully, you can always go home again. Ghosts in the graveyard, flashlight tag…all memories of home base.
The heartfelt, real meaning of home…sitting by the fire, watching tv with the kids. Cooking dinner in the kitchen with the kids setting the table and telling me about their day. Washing their clothes, watching the onesies turn into ripped jeans and sweatshirts. Tucking them in at night, even as teenagers. Going over the best and the worst of the day at the dinner table. Kissing my husband goodbye every morning and hello every afternoon. Laughing with them all as we recall funny memories. Merely looking at my hands and seeing the hands of my mother and my daughter. Bickering children in the backseat of the car (I used to call my two youngest the Bickersons). Tears as best friends move away. Cuddling, hugs and kisses. Going to bed every night next to the man I love. These are home to me.
Recently I found myself far from my current address while my family remained. I experienced great nostalgia as I returned to the hometown of my childhood and adolescence. Strong memories of my parents and my older brothers flooded my head, exploding into feelings that ran the gamut of emotions. Mostly, the ultimate sense of comfort and knowing – knowing that I was loved, knowing that regardless of our dysfunction – love was in our home. During a moment of sadness, however, I longed for so many things from my youth, mostly my mom. The click-clack sound of my mother’s high heals out on the driveway as she left for work each morning, the warmth and comfort of her embrace, the smell of her Design perfume, the sound of her goofy Woody Woodpecker-like laugh, her sense of humor, and her model of undying loyalty. As my sorrowful memories began to make me feel alone in the world my youngest daughter sent to me the image to the left with the message “I took this for you because I know you like the sunset with the black trees”. HOME.
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Please Pull Up To The Cone.
Each day on my morning drive I encounter three schools – elementary, middle, and high. My commute spans four to twelve minutes, depending on the parents in the other cars. The days of dropping off at the elementary school ended a few years ago. I will save those days for another post. Now, my youngest of three attends middle school. I drive her to school mostly because of her large Baritone Saxophone that she carries back and forth to band and home. Sometimes, it is so she can get there early to practice in the band room.
In the car circle at the middle school there is a very large, bright orange cone. The simple, well established rule that we all learn during the first weeks of the sixth grade – pull up to the cone. This very simple rule allows for the maximum number of cars to safely unload the precious little cherubs and keeps the line flowing at a tolerable pace. In the early part of the school year the administrator remains dutifully in the area, waving his arm, ensuring all parents learn the rule and all cars pull up to the cone. This complex pull to the orange cone system has been in play for years at the elementary school, as well. So this concept should not be a shocker to anyone.
As the school year progresses the arm waver begins to disappear, leaving parents on their own to follow the rule. Inevitably, parents fail to pull up to the orange cone in order to drop their own child off at the optimal point. To be honest – the arm waver never really deterred the determined parents. He served more as a reminder to those that try to do the right thing. Clearly, not pulling up to the orange cone slows down the line, backing it up into the street, forcing unsafe traffic maneuvers by those not dropping off, and, quite frankly, takes a little more time off my life. Rather than five or six cars unloading at once, only one or two let out their cargo before the line moves again. This is not a new phenomena – parents thinking that their kids are too special to have to walk the ten to fifteen more paces than a less deserving child (see the aforementioned orange cone at the elementary school).
So why do we have rules? Let’s go back to the basic of common courtesy. Rules allow a society to function and exist. At every school I see parents breaking the simple drop off rules for their particular school – and don’t even get me started on the chaos of daily pick up. These are likely the same parents that get the email or phone call home that their entitled child cheated or cut class or hurt another child or was insubordinate….and they immediately take the side of the child, failing to even consider the ideas of integrity or honesty or true consequence. Not only do these parents have the “not my child” attitude because they sit with blinders on, they also have the “my child is special and does not have to follow the rules attitude”. After all, the rules are for the “lessers”. Why should my child have to follow the rules? They see me break the rules for them daily. The rules clearly do not apply to us.
Similarly, why have rules in the house? So kids know how to function within the parameters of the rules of society. Life is not a free-for-all. By not setting reasonable boundaries for kids and leading by good example – parents are setting their kids up for failure (or to be jerks). True, there are successful liars and cheaters and jerks all over the world. Everything in life is a trade off and I suppose, once again, it depends on perspective…what it means to be successful. I want my kids to follow the rules, be considerate, have compassion. I want my children to show empathy, help others, and be courteous. I want my family to know love, security, and pride. I do not want my children to think that the world owes them something. I do not want my children to be entitled buttholes.
The demise of our society begins at not pulling up to the orange cone. We teach our children through our actions. We teach them humility and fairness, or we teach them entitlement. So I choose to pull up to the orange cone – every time – giant instrument and all. She will survive walking the extra fifteen paces carrying that thing. I promise. This is why I pull up to the orange cone, every time – because it is such a simple and courteous rule to follow, to model for my daughter. How could I expect my kids to follow the hard rules, if I can’t even follow such a simple one? Pulling up to the cone shows my daughter that she is not the center of the universe; she is not entitled to any special treatment. Choose to pull up to the orange cone – both literally and metaphorically – and teach children accountability, consideration, and humility.
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