I am done, and I am close to my rope's end this week. I have a very simple formula I need to follow to keep my sanity, comfort level and my perspective, and I haven't followed it this week. Essentially, I need lots of one on one time with Jeff and my girls, and I need to be close to my home, so I can have contact with my cats (as much as I say I don't like to bother with them, I do love them) and I need to see my plants, see my own walls, see my stuff.
Oh, and I need to not eat the boiled vegetables with butter that I get at mom's house, and instead stick to the raw leafy green diet that we try to follow at home.
Last Saturday night my mom and I went to the symphony together to hear the 3 women who all played Christine Daae on Broadway sing (Phantom of the Opera). What a treat! She and Dick were supposed to go together but for some reason he gave his ticket to me and volunteered to put the girls to bed while I went out with mom. I think it has something to do with the fact that she likes to go and listen to the music and appreciate the whole evening and he tends to get grouchy in a crowded venue. I'm not sure whose idea is really was to give me the ticket, but I loved every second of it!
I left the Cape on Tuesday morning and headed to my dad's house in Rhode Island. Neither of the girls napped in the car, which left me disappointed but not surprised. When we got to dad's house, we loaded him into the car and all went to the beach to scoop up some stones for Emily's wedding centerpieces. Gosh, those stones are heavy!
OK, I did take those photos but I'm still wading through so many photos of last week that the RI ones will appear later on, I'm sure.
On a side note, things I did not take photos of today but should have include Julie's enormous cupcake made out of snow, built in her front yard in honor of Cade's birthday, I'm assuming... (my nickname for her is going to have to be "Cupcake") and the photo op 'H' did for us tonight while wearing her high heeled pink shoes (plastic dress-up shoes). She is so cute!
Back to last week, I spent Tuesday night at dad's house and then packed the show up Wednesday morning to head back home to NY. It took me a long time to pack up! Marilyn was home that day and dad was waiting until we left so he could go to his twice-weekly volunteer gig at the local food pantry/thrift store. Just before we left, he got a call from the manager saying that the place had been robbed the night before and they were closing for the day, so he shouldn't bother coming in. Robbed! This is a place that serves the people who don't have anything, and they got robbed. These are bad times we are entering, bad times.
The girls and I stopped to see Grandma Millicent on our way out. She lives in the same town as my dad, in a place that is not quite assisted living, but not quite a nursing home. It's a group home for seniors who are ambulatory but need a lot of physical care. They all have serious dementia, but none are in wheelchairs or carry around a catheter bag or an IV. Ever since I had my girls, I have realized what a hit the kids are at these places! Way back when, no one used to care when I came and went -- now half of the ladies and the few men will light up when they see us coming. A woman was there with her guitar and she sang a number of songs that they all knew and loved... God bless America, Over the rainbow, It had to be you.... you get the gist. It was great, and my girls danced and ran all around.
Part of the reason I'm at ends is because I haven't had time to reconnect with either Jeff or my home since I got back. I have just been on the go for the past few days. Hopefully things will turn around tomorrow.
Last night I went to the class I'm taking at the church - it's a Northwest Earth Institute course called Healthy Children - Healthy Planet. Awesome, awesome, awesome. The idea is to come together and discuss how we can raise children who are not only healthy but respect our planet. Last night's theme was "Cultural Pressures" and we talked about how the American family had changed so much over the past several decades, and asked if the current family structure and the issues families face are positive or negative... or what?
One of the things that is so striking is that we (when I say "we", I mean the average American parent - if you're in that group, you'll know, and if you aren't, you will know that too) try to make sure our children are "taken care of" and often, by taking care of them, we disregard the health of our family and the planet Earth. For example, say you think that feeding your child certain foods or giving them a certain type of toy is going to make them physically or mentally healthier, so you get it for them. But what happens if you step back and see that the health of the planet might not be helped by this plastic toy, or by overfishing, or what have you? Now multiply your one example by ... oh, I don't know, say a few million. What happens then? Can you really say that you're taking care of your children when you know that the one thing that will sustain and nurture them - our planet - is put in peril in part because of your actions? I am certainly not exempt from this kind of behavior, and often it doesn't even have to do with "helping" my children. Today I wrapped a gift in clear cellophane and thought, "This wrapping will never break down in the landfill, but boy do I love how it looks, and this roll was on sale!" Ever have thoughts like that?
Our planet isn't the only thing in peril. Our family unit is, too. When families are busy, busy, all day, every day, without having a significant time to come together and relax, wander and connect, it hurts the family. "Rushing" and "hurrying" are two words used to describe what happens to children in a heavily-scheduled environment, and "stressed out" and "overloaded" describe adults in the same situation. It makes me ask, "What are our specific family values and goals, and how do our activities and our use of time support or undermine them?"
There is a lot to think about and talking about it is a good first step. I think even more about these issues after visiting my parents because they are so earth-friendly in their everyday lives. I grew up watching them talk the talk, and walk the walk, and part of what I need to sort out as I get older is how to reconcile my current reality with my upbringing and values, and how to live a life that is truly authentic for me and my family.
I'm taking small steps that feel "right". Keeping 'A' out of a formal schooling setting feels "right". Eating more locally and reducing my consumption in managable ways feels "right". Spending more time looking at the clouds and less time scooting around in the car, talking on the phone and typing on computer feels "right".
Speaking of "right", I am going to go and wake up my sleeping, exhausted husband (he spent the day driving and skiing and connecting with old friends, and chasing around a 2 and 6 year old in Vermont) and give him a big hug! Or... maybe I'll just let him sleep instead...