my observations as I sit among women

My eighty-something year old neighbor opens her Etienne Aigner purse and puts some church announcement sheets in there, making a little noise as she does so. She wears a scarf around her neck and has her cane propped against her chair. She is steady and strong.

The woman sitting to my left holds her grandson on her lap, assuring me that she has let him skip going to nursery because he is in strong need of a nap. Sure enough, within two minutes he is out cold, his little sweaty blond head bobbing around as he tries to settle in to those comfy arms.

To the far side of the room is an older woman who is gentle and kind. After we lost our little Olive in March this friend told me that she lost three babies at the same point in her pregnancies. Her eyes were shiny that day as she connected with me in this experience. I respect her. And an added bonus, she has never once colored her hair, which is still a beautiful auburn.

At the podium up front stands my friend who sometimes gets self-conscious when she is in front of people. She mumbles a little as she starts, and then she talks to us about the lost being found. About individual struggles. About being committed to gospel things.

And I sit here and realize that I/we are doing the best we can. Some are still rocking babies. Some are mourning. Some are tired out tending to family members who are demanding.

Some are lost.

And some are found.


my own

I have been doing a lot of driving lately.  Up and back to drop my son off at work, and then, on some days when my husband can't make it, up and back again to get him a few hours later (the price of sharing 2 cars between the 3 of us).  I also take my youngest to his cello lessons each Monday afternoon.  Like the great mom I am I wave goodbye when he goes in and flip the switch on my nice electric seat and lean back for a little snooze.  Or sometimes I use the half hour to catch up on some church emails or even call my mom or sister.  Time well-spent, even though I watch the other moms go in and out of the teacher's house with their own children/students.  

During these past 3 weeks of intense chauffeuring I have come to appreciate my one-on-one time with that particular passenger I might be transporting.  Also, the alone time on the one-way is not so bad.  Sometimes I pray.  Or I sing.  Really loud.  Or I just think.

I like myself more in my 40s than I did in my 30s.  I can be alone and be totally satisfied.  But at the same time, I appreciate family and good friends now more than ever.  

I am coming into my own.

lessons from the passenger seat

When my husband found this old photo this week I was immediately transported back nearly 20 years. Back when there were only four of us. Back when these boys did whatever I asked.

We have done maybe 8 cross-country trips in these last 20 years, and we keep learning a lot of things every time we do. And our numbers have changed too. Our first trip was when we drove from VA to LA to start grad school in '89. There were just three of us then, and I would turn around and feed jarred plums and apricots to my nine-month old.

Through the years we added 3 more sons and a couple of dogs to our passenger list. Lots of visits to historical sites. Lots of eating on the road. Audio books. Jokes. Even arguments.

But through it all I learned a lot about my family. I learned how healthy it is to explore new things together. I learned that #4 will eat a burger with everything on it (thatta boy), and that #2 talks in his sleep (got that from his mama). I learned that Geo needs a little reassurance as we head east that he will still be important to me as I stay up until 2am laughing with my sister or reminiscing with my parents about growing up in the Huck Finn place that was my home town.

When I look at that photo of my little guys in the tall grass I think, Many things ahead, my sons. Many things.

my power

I remember when I learned about the power of the first-born.  

We were sitting in the back seat of the car during a night drive, my two younger brothers and I, and I looked over at them right when some head lights hit my face just right.  My brothers scooted closer to each other and shivered with fear as they saw my big dark eyes glaring at them. Unintentional scariness, of course.  Once I figured out that without a word I could wield that kind of power, I found ways to use it to playfully (honestly) intimidate them.  But after a while I came to learn that I was really just kind of scaring myself.  There is a real "thing" about a first-born, whether it is the stereotypical charismatic leader, or someone who does it more subtly.

I like, but don't need, to be in control.  I am a problem-solver.  In a small group I am comfortable leading out.  I can do that.  Not necessarily bossy, but firm and confident enough.  I admit that the challenge I like best is charming people into trusting me.  Not in a slimy salesperson kind of way, but in a public relations kind of way.

This has been a real benefit in my profession, where parents have to trust my judgment.  They need to like me enough to believe me.  And they need to look at my eyes, when the head lights are hitting them just right, and choose to trust me rather than to be scared.  It is a good kind of pressure that I want to measure up to.  It allows me to satisfy my first-born tendencies and help these little kiddos at the same time.  Awesome combo (honestly).