Monday Mantra #37

Listen to the mustn’ts, child.
 Listen to the don’ts. 

Listen to the shouldn’ts, 
the impossibles, the won’ts. 

Listen to the never haves, 
then listen close to me…

Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.

-Shel Silverstein

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Monday Mantra #36

Just remember there is someone out there that is more than happy with less than what you have.  –Unknown

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image via h.h.

Happy Birthdays

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My mom celebrated her 62nd birthday this week, complete with pizza, cupcakes and three loony-but-lovable grandsons. We sang and she blew out a candle. We toasted to her and gave thanks for our family and a vast array of blessings. It was a great day.

This month we will celebrate ten birthdays in our family as well as the birthdays of several close friends. Included in that lot is an extra special 40th birthday that may or may not involve exactly 23 hours in Vegas.

There is something undeniably magical about birthdays. Beyond the hoopla and fanfare, birthdays provide a unique opportunity to pause, connect and grow in the ways that really and truly matter.

Birthdays are fence posts in our own personal histories. Each is a marker, a way to hold onto and remember our pasts, our very own time stamps. We can all remember those special days..where and when and how we celebrated. These posts brace together all of those long and short days in between. And if we’re lucky, our fences run alongside our road for miles and miles and miles.

Not only do birthdays connect us to ourselves and our stories, but they also link us to our loved ones, to those who showed up or shared in our celebrations. Birthdays remind us of the most important people in our lives, the people who recognize and love us because of, and in spite of us.

But, most importantly, each and every birthday is an incredible gift. A whole new year full of news…new experiences, new people, new joys from the highs, new life lessons from the lows, new adventures, new books, new movies, new photographs, new firsts and new lasts.

With every birthday we gain more understanding. We become more dynamic. We become wiser. With every birthday our circle of loved ones becomes larger. We have more reasons to give thanks. We have more chances to contribute. With every birthday we gain courage and we take a few more steps toward our potential.

Birthdays give us these gifts. Birthdays link up our histories and connect us to the ones who share in those histories.

So really, how can birthdays ever be anything but happy?

Don’t miss the magic.

And definitely don’t miss the cake.

KID

 

Monday Mantra #35

Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water, and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim.  -Tyler Knot Gregson

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Monday Mantra #34

It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too.

As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours.

I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.  

-Joyce Maynard

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image via Calvin, age 5

Something to Love

At a recent birthday party, my husband and I crossed paths with another mom and dad of three boys. And when I say crossed paths, I mean, literally, crossed paths as we darted around them chasing after our hooligans.

While our boys were wobbling aimlessly, digging through drawers and pulling down every single expensive decorative item within eyesight and arms’ length, we struck up a “we have three boys too” conversation with this couple.

They were about twelve parenting years ahead of us (in real years, that’s eighty-four) and their boys, of course, weren’t within miles of that party. They were off doing teenage boy things with other teenage boys and would return home, as teenage boys must, at some point before curfew.

This patient couple stood while we made figure eights around them, and the four of us exchanged words of admiration: “Wow, it must be nice to be able to go to a party with your kids!” (them) and “Wow, it must be nice to be able to go to a party without your kids!” (us) and glances of nostalgia (them) and longing (us).

When the twins stumbled, again, literally, upon a random box of jellybeans, we knew their discovery bought us a few minutes to exchange complete sentences without interruption.

The mom told us about her boys. Her eldest was headed to college in San Francisco next month. Her youngest just returned from a fun vacation in Mexico. But the good stuff came when we asked about her other (middle) son.

She told us that he was a skateboarder and, in fact, the reason why he wasn’t at this party was because he was out skateboarding with some friends. I was almost ready to dismiss it and go back to San Francisco, but this mom continued on, telling us all about the skateboarding—where he likes to go, when he likes to go, how much he loves it, etc. She described his favorite parks with such detail that it was almost as if he was standing right there telling us himself. But what was even more remarkable than what she said was how she said it. She was all smiles, bursting with pride, enthusiastically describing her son’s skateboarding passion.

For someone watching us across the room, she could have been describing her son: the gold medal Olympian or her son: the Academy Award nominated actor or her son: the Nobel Peace Prize winning scientist. That’s how brightly she beamed.

It was impressive.

Here her son had found something he truly loved. And because he loved it, she loved it, too. Because he was passionate about it, she was passionate about it, too. Because he found it so interesting, she found it interesting, too.

It didn’t really matter that it was skateboarding; it could have been anything. She was proud and excited to tell us about it because her son had found something he was proud of and excited to do.

It was a good lesson for me. She taught me how important it is that a child finds his or her something. And how lucky we, as parents, are when that happens and how obligated we are to encourage and foster that passion, whatever it is.

That is my hope for my boys. I hope they find their something. Whatever it is.

Be it a sport or dance or music or art or chess, it doesn’t matter to me. It just has to be something.

And when they find it, I promise I will stand on the sidelines, or in the audience, or in the background, and I will cheer. I will encourage. I will be proud of their something.

Whatever it is, I hope my kids find something to love with their whole hearts.

And because I love them with mine, I promise I will love it, too.

Just as long as they wear helmets.

KID

Monday Mantra #33

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Rocket Man

My son is a builder. He loves forts, he loves Legos, he loves construction sites and he loves the game Jenga.

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The other day he built this rocket in our kitchen. He carefully hauled in items from other rooms and assembled them into this missile. Although at first glance it may appear to be just a pile of blankets and balls, upon further review true artistry is revealed.

Two words: paper towel.

Genius!

He worked on this masterpiece with the kind of precision, patience and thoughtfulness sure to impress both his Mom and Michelangelo. Every article was delicately placed, considered and confirmed with angst and a furrowed brow. And the working conditions were less than ideal with distractions including a meandering pug and some bulldozer twins.

Not only did my little rocket scientist construct this impressive warhead but he also overcame the important hurdle of “How to Protect the Rocket from The Brothers.” He wisely included a semicircle of chairs to prevent entry and the hope that entry would not be attempted on the unprotected side (unprotected due to (a) a lack of chairs and (b) a lack of faith in The Brothers’ aptitudes).

Genius!

He was so proud.

And I was so proud to see him so proud and to see him delight in his own imagination and dedication to seeing something to completion.

It was a really sweet moment in which all of those wonderful characteristics that one yearns to see in a child—creativity, independence, diligence, pride, spirit—all converge together in one invaluable memory.

It was a really sweet moment in which I had a tiny window to his future and a little assurance that he’ll carry those same tools with him for the more important building opportunities down the road.

What a gift.

Genius.

KID

Monday Mantra #32

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

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image via Patrick Hajzler

Monday Mantra #31

A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.
 -James N. Watkins

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image via Dave Dyet