Monday, January 13, 2014

Go ahead... ask.

Albert Einstein once said, "it's a miracle that curiosity survives formal education." 

It's true, and in our home, the apples haven't fallen far from the tree.  I am an unusually curious, bold person to begin with, and, of course, I make a living out of asking questions.  My children are already quick to follow. 

The problem is, I don't have all the answers. Why did I ever think I would?

Last night, I was putting my 7-year old smart-boy to bed, and he wanted to know about --of all things-- the Revolutionary War. WTH?  He's seven.  He simply wanted to know if it came before or after the Civil War because if it came before, it meant there was a drummer boy, but if it came after, it meant there was no drummer boy.  How does he know these things?

"Before." I answered. "I'm almost certain," I qualified (embarrassed that I didn't have the exact dates and information; embarrassed that I wasn't even 100% certain of my response).  "Well, mom," (I know when he calls me just "mom," as opposed to "momma" or "mommy," it means it's real), he suggested, "surely you can get on your computer right now to find out and come tell me before I fall asleep."


I told him I would look it up and tell him more in the morning.  But as soon as he fell asleep, and I rushed to look it up just to make sure I gave the right answer (ego)....  Indeed, the Revolutionary War lasted from 1775-1783, and the Civil War began in 1861. 

Mostly though, their questions are mundane.  I hesitate to call them mundane, because aren't those beautiful, ridiculous, insane 'mundane' moments the ones that make up the precious fabric of our lives?  Two days ago, 5-year old princess asked, "Mommy, why is big brother older than me?  My birthday is in October and his is in December, so I'm really older than him, right momma?"

"No sweet girl. You were born two years later than him," I answered, my heart smiling inside my chest.

It continued on... "but what does born mean, mommy?"

(LORD, I'm thinking....) "Sweetie, it means the time you came into the world."

"From your tummy?" she asked, her voice sounding just angelic.

"Yes, darling."

She paused, her eyes drifting onto one spot, looking as though she were in deep, deep thought.  And then it went on..."Momma, how do you spell born?"

(RIPPING MY HAIR OUT AT THIS POINT, but loving every second of it......)

"B - O - R - N."

Later, we were driving to our mommy-daughter dinner and passed a police car, and it started again. 

"Momma, why do 'polices' have guns?"

I gave some non-descript answer about how they have to protect us, and then once we got to the restaurant, one after another.

The lights dimmed, and Curious Girl was all over it. 

"Mommy.  It just got dark in here.  WHY did they turn the lights down?"  The waiter, as if on-cue, showed up, and I made him answer!

Then, it got a little more complex.  "Where is God, momma?"

I told her He was in every living being, in our hearts, and all around us every day.   It seemed to suffice..... for now anyway.  I'm sure I'll be asked more on that very soon....

But the question that really got me came the other day.  I was on the phone with the vet, setting up an appointment to get the dog neutered.  The second I hung up, baby girl started in.  "Why does the dog have to be 'noodled' mommy?"

Big brother smiled at me and helped answer.  "It's 'neuter' not noodle."

"But what does that mean?"  she was relentless.

He had quite the answer.  "It means they're cutting his balls off."

Her face dropped, and she looked at me all sad and confused and freaked. 

I said, "sweetie, it just means Scout won't be able to have babies." 

"But momma, I want him to have babies.  PLEEEEEASE don't get him noodled!"

I tried explaining the whole pet population thing and how we'd have to find the puppies' homes, but her eyes still welled with tears.  "But he will hurt, momma."  She was so worried about the surgery and if the pup would be in pain, it nearly crushed even me.

I assured her we would all take very good care of him.  She paused and her eyes drifted off again like the last time, deep in thought.  She looked at me with wet eyes, and she climbed into my lap for a long, sweet hug. 

I realized then that my children humble me.  Every single day, I yield to their presence, their questions.  Instead of greeting them with my own bold curiousness, I defer.  Instead of thinking what to ask next, I wait excitedly for their next questions.  I know they'll be good.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


I didn't eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day.   I think they're gross.   I didn't eat 'em last year either, and that was a mistake because last year sucked.  

Not trying to sound negative.  And actually, when I think about it, 2013 gifted me with much love, friendship, and beauty, for which I am ever-grateful.  But it also punched me in the face with an equal amount of misery.  No need to go into the gory details (you could just read previous blog posts re:  divorce, concussion, semi crash, etc.).   Just sayin -- if it's true that black-eyed peas bring good luck, I should've eaten bowls full.

I didn't.  I survived.  Life is still good.  People are still crazy.  

And here it is,  2014, with all it's new-ness and hope.  All it's optimism and wishfulness.   All the anticipation that this will be THE year. 

I don't know about all that.  I hope it's a good year.  But that word "hope" always gets me in trouble.  Because with hope comes expectation, and then the bar is set. And if expectation isn't met... well, that's when I get myself into trouble. 

In those moments I always hear my late grandfather's wise words in my head.  He used to always tell me, "a day at a time, sweet one. A moment at a time, if that's what it takes.  Remember, hardships are the pathway to peace.  Accept it all."  

Speaking of my grandfather, what we discovered inside his old house on our land in western Arkansas last week is pretty much all the luck I'll need in 2014 anyway.   

We arrived at night.  It was dark, and the stars were so very bright.  You could see Orion's belt in perfect view, as though you could almost reach up and tug on it.  My boy was the first to walk  inside, and his reaction was so faint, yet so grave-sounding, we knew it could not be good.  

"Oh. My. Gosh.  Momma, you have to come see this."

Then baby girl chimed in.  "Groooooooooooooooooooooss! WHAT are those??"

At which point I went to investigate and -- like the klutz that I am -- slipped on a pile of what I thought were dead bugs.  

They were EVERYWHERE.  All over the floor, on the windows, covering the windowsills, and even in the sinks.

But then brave girl child figured it all out.  They weren't creepy or slimy.  They were ladybugs!
One of the ladybug piles we found

Good luck, right?  

As it turns out, this little beetle is quite full of symbolic meaning.  It's an emblem of luck, and if one lands on you, it is believed your wishes will come true.  Some cultures believe the ladybug is a symbol of protection.  Others think the number of spots on a ladybug you touch equals the number of months you'll wait until your true love arrives.
I think I might believe in the luck part.  If it's true, I'll take it.   But I've never really been too sure about luck to be honest.   Like when someone considers themselves "lucky," I sometimes cringe.   Lucky because they escaped death, or a tornado, or a car wreck, or some horrible fate.   Seems easier for me to believe it just wasn't their time, or they'll get another tough lesson some other day.  I've heard people who believe their lives are good say it's all just because of luck.  But I tend to think maybe it was their attitude or perseverance or willingness to take what life gives instead of what they want.  Some say babies born to rich people are luckier than those born into poverty.  Yet I've watched as wealthy friends who've wanted for nothing in their lives screw it all up and seen the poorest of individuals rise up and enact change 

I'm also not so sure of this whole idea that the next year will be any better or worse than the last one.  Or that my luck will turn - because of black-eyed peas eaten or ladybugs landing, no less.  

And as much as my soul is starved at times for a new beginning, I question and wonder if new beginnings really exist at all.    I read this the other night, and it seems to make the most sense of all to me right now.

“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” 
 Pema Chödrön

Makes sense to me to create space for all of it and see life as good no matter what, rather than label it as good luck or bad luck, right?

But then a funny thing happened.  We were out to eat with our cousins at a pizza place tonight.  In the game room, my daughter won only one toy.  Would you believe, it was a stuffed ladybug?!

Sweet girl immediately started calling her our "Good Luck Ladybug Flower"