life lessons: at the far end of mothering

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I almost never see a dandelion patch without thinking of a little child – student or son – arm outstretched with a loving fistful of droopy, yellow dandelions for me. And since it’s been awhile since I’ve received one, I’m caught a little surprised at how nostalgic I feel about the prolific yellow bane of our backyard.

There are scads of books on mothering and parenting and raising children.  How-to tomes. What to expect, what to avoid, how to be hands-free and all that. Maybe mothering today’s a bit more complicated.  Or so it’s probably always been to anyone who’s living it.

Personally, I’m at the far end of the mothering spectrum. And I’ve found few books to guide me. There’s a few about boomerang kids, but not much else beyond transitioning through the teen years and we’re past that too. And as far as flying objects go, I’m not much worried about boomerangs and more concerned with balloons.

I’ve had a whole handful of four, beautiful, bright, helium-filled, boy balloons and one-by-one each string loosens from my grasp. One day soon, the final of the four will lift, floating off free. And away from me. As should be. After all, independent, self-sufficient, productive citizens are the end-zone goal.

It’s just that when it comes to expecting … no one ever talks about what to expect at this point in the child-raising timeline. Saying goodbye is  not something you think about as you rock your infant, chase after your toddler, or sit across from your child’s teacher at a parent conference. Honestly, raising children is about as in the moment as it gets. Who has time or energy to think about the future when the here and now is so very consuming.

Truth is, the little dickens start leaving and living their own lives from the very first defiant, No! They have thoughts, dreams, and ideas of their own, and sooner or later – you’re in the way. You know it’s coming, but somehow you don’t expect it. Each milestone stands on its own, a point on the timeline toward departure. And once that last balloon wrests itself free, you watch it float skyward and wonder whatever in the world you’ll do next.

It’s been a wild ride couple of decades through each age and stage, but no fair lasts forever. Near as I can figure out, mothering young adults feels no less puzzling than the first years did. It’s another stage, another question mark in the life-long series I signed up for. I’m guessing I’ll be finding my own way just as my children find theirs – each of us simultaneously starting a new stage of life, on our own – together.

life lessons: jamaica

 

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An Open Letter to the Sandals Corporation:

It’s been two weeks since I walked your Jamaican Ochi Beach Club beaches.  I remember our last morning swim in the Caribbean.  Every. Single. Day. It’s hard to be home – not because home’s that bad – but because Jamaica’s that good.

And it’s all about the people.

Here’s the point I want you to understand, Sandals:  you spoiled us silly and we wanted for absolutely nothing during our stay at your resort. You planned for every possible wish, want, or desire. Food. Drink. Entertainment. Activity. Shopping. The works.

But honestly, I’m not really comfortable with all that attention. I’m okay with a beach and a towel. Some fresh fruit. My love by my side and a beautiful sunset.  And anyway, all that spoiling is not what keeps me coming back to Jamaica. (Nine times now.)

It’s the people I come back for.

Sandals, your people are your greatest asset.

I miss them and their unrelenting optimism.  And let me tell you, the Jamaican people have taught me a lot about gratitude.

Because life in Jamaica is hard. Your people struggle. I know you know that … you’ve established a foundation to help … but I’m quite sure it’s not enough. It never is. And truly, it’s something I think about a lot.

Your people aren’t just doing their jobs, Sandals. Your people inspire.

I want to sing on my way to work in the morning, like they do, light on my face and hope in my heart. I want to bear life’s hardships with as much grace, dignity, and optimism.

In the end, I suppose daily life is all about gratitude.

Your folks know all that – and more.

So, thank you, Sandals, for your hospitality. I am ever so grateful for my time in Jamaica. But much more than that, I’m so grateful for the Jamaican people.

You all have much to be proud of.

In gratitude.

 

life lessons: in spring

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Maybe the most difficult time for a flower is just before its bloom.

Still tight and taut, but ready and waiting. Endlessly waiting. Eternally waiting. Impatient. Tense. And probably cranky.

But bloom it does, finally and slowly. Unfurling and stretching, open face forward into the warming sun.

Free.

The release renders the wait all that more poignant and perfect.

Necessary, after all.

So many life lessons learned just out the back door.

Spring hope.