Tag Archives: family life

Why Everyone Needs a Superhero

Halloween at Gabe's daycare

In the dark early hours of the morning, I saw a shadowy figure in my bedroom, and my first thought was that it was Jesus.  I’d been reading some Anne Lamott the night before—the part of Travelling Mercies where she describes what she later came to believe was Jesus’ presence in her bedroom as she was struggling alone, drunk, strung out, through the aftermath of an abortion.  Anne writes that she could feel the presence so strongly that she got up and turned on the light to see if someone was there. 
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Filed under courage, family life, parenting, spirituality

As Cool as the Air in a Redwood Grove

One of the chapters of Anne Lamott’s Travelling Mercies is an account of a health scare she had with her son Sam.  Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, depending on your perspective (and mental health), we had a similar experience this week with Gabe.  But before I tell you about that, I want to show you this picture by Toni Frissell, a female photographer in the 1940’s and 50’s. 

It’s from an underwater shoot of models all wearing white, fluidy gowns.  To me, it evokes many things: surrender, descent, freedom, and something of the seductive power of depression.  It also reminds me of the scene in “The Piano” where Holly Hunter almost drowns because she lets her leg get tangled up with her piano when it falls overboard.  (Hunter plays a mute woman in the 1850’s who is sent to New Zealand for an arranged marriage.  Her piano is, quite literally, her voice).  She is very calm at first, quietly observing the water around her, gracefully allowing herself to be pulled down, down, down.  Then suddenly it’s like she wakes up and realizes what is happening, and she struggles to free herself and swim to the surface.  The camera shows her discarded boot sinking slowly deeper, while she swims up, towards a life that she is not sure she wants, certainly one she knows nothing about, but one she is not ready to give up. 

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Filed under anxiety, courage, depression, family life, spirituality

Transitions & Resilience: “Just do your best, then say ‘Amen'”

Today in Target I had one of those thoughts that I suspect you should probably not say out loud.  For the first time in my life, I thought, “I’m not sure if I should have had kids.”  Since I am not Jennifer Aniston, i.e. since people are not constantly querying me about my desire and motivation to have children, and since my children are already here, I’ve never spent much, if any, time thinking about whether I should have had them.  And I certainly think someone should have had them; I truly believe they add something to the sum of human goodness.  I just don’t know that that someone should have been me.

Me before I had kids

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Filed under courage, parenting, poetry

Summertime and the (Family) Living Ain’t Easy

I’m interrupting my regularly scheduled slog through the 43 Eternal Truths to bring you this update on our family’s summer, which started when the boys got out of school back in May, i.e. about 700 years ago, and to announce the invention of a family summer plan which may or may not get all of us through to September alive and sane.

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Filed under creativity, family life

June Heart of the Month: Bring Your Heart to Work

Well, I’m getting June’s Heart of the Month in just under the wire, but I have a good reason:  today my mother, MaryAnne Crowley, officially completed 34 years and nine months of a truly inspiring teaching career.  She did a few other things in the meantime, such as gave birth to and stayed home with three children, moved house 5 times, supported my dad as he went to law school at night to pursue his own professional dream of becoming a lawyer, got a Masters Degree as a Reading Specialist, learned to play golf, travelled to more countries than I can think of, and compiled a truly spectacular shoe collection, especially for someone with size 5 feet.  The best line at her retirement party was spoken by one of the younger teachers my mother has mentored: “You may have tiny feet, but you have very big shoes to fill.”

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Filed under family life, happiness, teaching

To Read in Your Leisure Time (Ha Ha Ha!)

If you are a Dr. Phil viewer, you may have seen the recent show on Dr. John Robinson’s time-use study claiming that “Women have at least 30 hours of leisure every week.  In fact, women have more leisure now than they did in the 1960s, even though more women are working outside the home.”*  If you are a working woman, you may have already used Google Earth to locate Dr. Robinson’s home, somewhere in the Baltimore area, and are currently figuring out how to make something very large and very heavy fall onto it.  And if you were doing this, by the way, you’d be using your “leisure time.”  As Brigid Schulte wrote, in her Washington Post article on the study, answering emails or using the computer for anything other than work is leisure time.  Other examples include:

“Watching movies with the kids. Visiting a sick friend with the kids. Talking to a friend about her leisure time on the cellphone to report this story while taking my son’s bike to the shop for repairs with the kids. Leisure, leisure, leisure.”

“Printing out a gift card to Best Buy for my friend’s son while yelling at kids and husband to “get into the car now” two minutes before leaving to go to a birthday dinner. Leisure.”

“Sitting in a hot, broken-down car for two hours on a median strip and playing tic-tac-toe with my daughter while waiting for a tow truck. Yes, that, too.”

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Filed under family life, parenting, poetry

You Can Learn A Lot About a Person By How They…

 Maya Angelou has said: “I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”  To these words of complete truth, I’m going to add that you can learn some important life lessons by watching how people behave in a Butterfly House.

We visited a Butterfly Conservatory on our vacation to Niagara Falls last week, and I wrote about it in an earlier post.  I love them.  If I could live in one, I would.  They’re one of the only places where I feel completely calm, except for the reptiles.  Those would have to go.    
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Filed under family life, mindfulness