Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Moving

I moved 11 times from birth to age 18.  Since then I have relocated 7 times.  To date that brings my grand total to 25 different homes, neighborhoods and communities.  One thing I know how to do is start over.

Every two or three years I get the 'itch'.  No, it's not a rash, it's the itch to shake things up.  As a single person or as a married couple that meant adventure and seeking our fortunes in the big city.  Now, as a mother, it has an entirely different meaning.

Recently my husband and I decided it was time we worked for ourselves and made the big move to full time consulting.   It's terrifying to come out from under the safety and security of a 'real job'.  It is also exhilarating to escape the confines of previously painful employment experiences. 

Finally, after three months, the consulting opportunities have begun to emerge.  Currently, there are two.  One is for a previous client and works to support meaningful high school reform in Philadelphia.  The other is to become a full time political consultant for projects which would span the entire country.   Both are a move up in influence, responsibility and pay.  Both are important and exciting.  Both would require a relocation closer to civilization (i.e. airports, Trader Joe's, etc.)

I decided years ago that I wanted my children to grow up on the same block, with the same kids as we lived in the same house.  I wanted to have the closet door on which there were lines denoting their growth.  I wanted to look at the cement steps and see little hand prints or footprints.  I wanted the exact opposite of my own childhood for my own children.

Not that being an Army brat was terrible.  It afforded me opportunities and experiences most people only read about.  It made me strong and resilient.  It made me appreciate being an American to the depths of my heart.  It also made me slow to trust and ready to leave at a moment's notice.  It also made me feel like an orphan with no real identity.

So here I sit, in my father's dining room, on the precipice of determining whether my own boys will have the closet door with the lines, or a suitcase.  I am stuck, knowing either decision will ripple through all our lives for good or for not so good.  I am still, hoping to hear a whisper of God's wisdom in my heart.  I am waiting, breathless for the 'sign' to point the way.  Here I blog, un-moving.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

If Only

I am on a business trip and this morning I wandered down for the free breakfast.  As I approached the breakfast room, a beautiful little Princess toddled up to me.  She had sparkle shoes.  I told her how much I loved them and how I wish I could wear shoes like that.

By this time her mother had joined the wandering cherub.  She was tall, dressed as formally as her daughter with a sparkled head scarf in the Muslim tradition.  She smiled and then began the age old ritual of mothers of toddlers-chased her children around the room.  She reprimanded them in a mix of English and her mother tongue. 

As I searched for something I could grab and go, late as usual, I smiled.  She did what I, and every other mother have done, she repeated her child's name a thousand times.  "Hana! Hana!  See they have yogurt. Hana! Hana! Hana!"  Why do we do that?  As if our littles have forgotten who they are and if we repeat it often enough they will come to their senses and become instantaneously obedient. 

I waited for the muffin to toast, tried to block out the hundredth "Hana!" and listened to the morning news on t.v.  It was tuned to the protests in Egypt.  They were discussing the Muslim Brotherhood.  The anchor was desperately trying to convince the audience that they are no more than religious folks wanting democracy.  The leader was asked directly, "Will there be freedom of religion if the Muslim Brotherhood take over Egypt?" "Yeah, sure," he answered.

I know better.  The following is a quote from their website, ""Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope."  Doesn't sound so free to me.

I was struck by the images of the religious and political war playing out on the news.  I looked at the Muslim woman who was chasing her beautiful children around the breakfast buffet.  The gulf between her and my religious beliefs couldn't be wider.  How did she perceive the political machinations in Egypt?  How did she perceive the religious rumblings?  No matter how hard the pundits and news anchors try-under such a system, I would be persecuted.  I wouldn't be alone in a hotel, free to chase my children around a lobby.


I wasn't brave enough to engage her in a conversation.  I had to dash to my conference.  Yet, tonight I can't get that Mother and her little Princess out of my thinking.  Irrespective of how we worship or what we believe or what nation we are from or what tongue we speak-we are mothers.  We love our children.  We repeat their names ad nauseum.  We chase them around hotel lobbies. 

If only that were enough to still the murderous rumblings of geopolitical unrest.  If only Hana and my sons could grow up in a world where one will not control and manipulate the other-with oil, with money or other means.  If only...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What I Miss About Mom

One year ago today my mother left this earth.  Suddenly she wasn't there anymore.  She hadn't been there emotionally for years.  I took for granted she would always be here physically.  Now she is not.

There are stages of grief.  My shorthand list of the stages of grief are: shock, anger, numbness, shame, explosion, beer/chocolate, and dealing with it.  (No one ever said I was a mental health professional.)

I am dealing with it-most days.  I grieved for her over years of strained conversations and emotional chasms.  I was accustomed to not having.

When we reconciled, awkwardly and anti-climactically, in a cold, dark hospital room, a small glimmer of something flashed in my heart.  Perhaps we could build on this glimpse of connectedness.  Maybe we could make something out of nothing.  We only had six weeks.  We  built something. 

That something rises up at the oddest times.  In a restaurant I'll see a mother and daughter of any age and a tightness will grip my heart.  On vacation, I made a mental list of souvenirs to be purchased and I noted where I could get her a turtle-even though she never liked them in the first place and, frankly, doesn't collect them anymore.

Today I took two roses to her grave-one for me and one from my brother.  I also placed a turtle in the icy snow in front of the red quartz marker.  It made me giggle, because it looked so happily ridiculous.

Today I won't shred my soul and ask the questions for which I know there are no answers.  Today I am going to focus on the things I miss about Mom.  I share them with you so maybe you can take a moment to remember things about your mom whether she is still here or not.
  1. I miss laying on my Mom's lap. 
  2. I miss green jello with cabbage cut into rhombus shapes and arranged on lettuce.
  3. I miss her weirdly accurate accents.
  4. I miss turtles.
  5. I miss her plastic yahtzee game which was laying on the table by her favorite chair.
  6. I miss one and half sugars and a dash of milk in coffee.
  7. I miss looking out into any audience and not seeing her.
  8. I miss seasoning free cooking that fed the soul.
  9. I miss her laughing with me when the baby spit up all over everything, including her and I.
  10. I miss the possibility of hugging her small, strong frame.
  11. I miss her.
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