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Tag: motherhood

Challenge the Mundane

Opportunity knocks at the most interesting, inspirational, and even during the dry, does-not-seem-like-anything-is-really-happening-at-all-moments.  Sitting around a kitchen island while my children eat organic macaroni and cheese is hardly an exciting experience in one’s life, yet my inventive spirit often challenges the mundane.  Today is no different. 

As they eat their food with child-fun utensils, a yellow fork in my son’s hand that looks like a bulldozer scooping out his food, and my daughter with a fork shaped like a train, I make a protein shake in the blender.  Experience has taught me that my two-year-old does not welcome abrupt noises; creative approaches are a necessity.  As I am about to hit the On button to the blender, I announce lift off will occur in minus ten seconds, and the count down begins.  Within a 10, 9, 8, my eyes widen to communicate that their participation is necessary to continue.  Then in unison, the count down meets shouts of excitement, “7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.” “Blast off,” I yell, as the blender takes off, pulverizing ice cubes, swishing water in every direction, and combining protein powder until no longer a dry, fine particle exists.  Within seconds, the mixture is compounded by the release of turbo boosters, and “Boom”, with the flip of a button, the high position goes on, as the noise level rises.  A few moments later, the air is silent as the off button is engaged, but the smiles of this trio continue to unite and glow.  Our spirits like to pretend, and the energy that is moved from such moments brings a carpe diem attitude. 

Within a few minutes, my six-year old daughter looks down at the floor beneath her dangling feet, and announces quite nervously, “Look mom, ANTS!” Then without provoking him, my son joins in, “ANTS! ANTS! ANTS!”  I run to their side of the island to see a swarm of hundreds of ants, mainly crawling upon cereal that had fallen aimlessly from the counter earlier, from my son’s breakfast spoon.   My smirk and bewildered look show amusement and amazement at the scene upon me.  The ants are attacking Mighty Bites, gingerbread man-shaped cereal.  It looks like killer ants are attacking people, a scene from a horror film.  My eyes dart back at my children; I see expressions that are neither amused, nor amazed, only bewildered and interested on what my next step may be.  I look up with a gentle smile, a curious look to show my mind wandering freely, and then state matter-of-factly that an opportunity is upon us.  I grab a napkin and kneel down to push the ants towards a circular pile.  My words loudly pierce their ears,”An opportunity is upon me to be brave in the face of the ants that are marching one by one, hurrah.” 

As I begin wiping the ants to the center, I am repeating the words, “Gross, gross, gross, I am really grossed out, but this is an opportunity to be brave.  See? This is what it means to be scared of something, but do it anyway.”  I then go underneath the sink to retrieve some type of ant-killing spray.  Gathering ants to a circle, as they try to escape, is not helpful for disposing of ants.  I did not find any ant-killer anywhere, since potent, toxic spray of such sort is kept in the garage.  Not wanting to leave my children, I searched for an alternative insect destroyer.  This was no time for collecting ants and setting them free outside, as we had done countless times. 

I found a can of Lysol, anti-bacterial cleaning spray.  My knowledge about its toxicity is that it is enough to keep under the sink in a locked, childproof cabinet.  With lemon freshness, I spray the ants with vigor, as my children question my technique; “What’s that, mom?  Will they die?” I speak the truth when I say, “I don’t know.”  Sure enough, the spray sends out a glorious lemon-fresh scent while ants seemed to be stopped in their tracks. 

In celebration, I wipe up the ants and leftover Mighty Bites with a paper towel and begin to march while singing, “The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching ….”  My youngsters, thinking that this looks like fun, join in harmony and we march together around the kitchen, hands raised, and with a rhythm in our step. 

The opportunity to seize the day adds energy to our spirits.  We are uplifted, engaged in life’s music, and we find a shared connection between us.  The contagious laughter that spreads throughout the kitchen, the smiles that emanate across our faces, and the joy that fills our hearts to make the most of every situation that arises, is a strong boost to the mood of the day.  Bringing the dull, uneventful day-to-day experiences into energetic, musical adventures full of gusto, rocket ships, cleaning with Lysol the ants that attacked the fallen Mighty Bites, add such exuberance to our lives.  My only hope is that my children entertain the thrills that the ordinary offers them, to see them as opportunities of entertainment, problem-solving, facing one’s fears with bravery and action.  With a blender, some ants, Lysol, and with song, anything is possible.

As I start to ponder the incredible energy that entered our realm so inconspicuously, my daughter says, “Can we go outside and play now?” as if we were not playing already.  May non-playing always be fun opportunities to seize the moments of the ordinary, transforming them into the extraordinary adventures they potentially possess.  May our inventive creativity always challenge the mundane.

A Pearl of Wisdom

Is it possible to teach our children that the world truly is their oyster?  As a parent constantly searching to improve the outcome of my child’s life, I wonder if I truly affect the early years’ foundation, prior to the external environment’s influences. Is it only my perception that I carry such weight to mold a young mind?  Is destiny already in place?  I believe that the energy I move enables life to shift and with this intention, I influence destiny. 

Lately when I have been helping my six- year-old daughter drift off to sleep, she has begun seeking guidance on what to believe about life.  Recognizing the powerful impact I may have in this moment-by-moment interaction, I cringe at the weight of what to say and what not to say.  I originated from  from a black/white and right/wrong perspective; my aim is to offer a broader outlook to my offspring. 

My child inquires, who am I?  What am I? With such existential questions coming from an incredibly young inquisitive mind, I answer her with the honesty that moves within my heart.  I say to her, “Let me explain it this way.  What does it feel like when we skip down the sidewalk together?”  She tells me that it feels good, it feels happy, and it makes her smile.  I then say, you are that. You are the happiness, the good, and the love when your spirit sores with energy.  You are what it feels like to skip, jump, run endlessly in any direction, and twirl happily in a circular motion, watching clouds roll by and the rainbows that touch our hearts when we see them shine.  You are what makes life smile, I tell her.  Yet as the words leave my lips, I cognitively recognize the confusion I may be causing from the metaphors that escape her understanding. 

However, just as I am about to surrender to the basic rational, right-brained definition, she whispers, “Am I the way I feel?”  I sigh with pride and think, she is wiser than I could have imagined.  I answer softly, “You are that and everything you ever choose to imagine.”  You are not better or worse for the clothes you wear, nor greater or less for how fast you run or for getting in line before another person; you are as worthy as the next person, not more important or less.  What makes you different is how you feel about yourself on the inside.  You were perfect from the moment you were born, and all that follows is what you make of yourself, what comes from your heart, comes from your spirit, and your energy.  Remember that you are what rainbows are made of, where smiles originate, where blue skies get their essence. 

From this conversation, I recognize that a six year old comprehending the abstractness may fail some absorption.  My hope is that some of these moments where I preach pieces of spirituality, there will be a moment later in life, where she may turn to me and say, “Mom, I understand.”  When it comes to self-esteem and self-assured confidence, I trust when approached by a diverse perspective or negative judgment from another individual, she will soon be able to assert that she knows who she is, and that his opinion of her is none of her business.  My estimation is this will take time and be tested over the years. 

These moments as she engages in conversation of how her life began, how fears became established, how to obliterate the doubts that life presents her, she begins to recognize the keen sense she has to empower her life with intention.  May she have the energy to shift her life in the direction she so chooses.  She senses the gems of guidance I offer her now, but is starting to disregard these natural instincts as exposure to the mundane begins to occupy her brain.  Her gift of living life fully enables me to share a description of what she is experiencing.  We act as two-way teachers.  She offers me a gift in remembering my own essence, and I tender an avenue of maintaining her belief that all that she dreams is on its way to fruition.  The fact is that the world is her oyster and her heart occupies the pearl.

The Perfect Stroller

My sister gave me professional mommy advice on purchasing strollers.  She said, “Forget about buying just one stroller.  By the time you are done, you’ll have to buy at least three that all serve different functions.”  Yet as SUPERMOM, I was able to research faster than a speeding bullet and purchase in a single bound.  Therefore, I bought my first, all-purpose, perfect stroller prior to giving birth to baby number one.

Why not?  I had read the reviews in Baby Bargains (my motherhood buying bible), on multiple websites, in Consumer Reports, and within a few other publications that reviewed strollers in detail.  I was one-step ahead of all those mothers who had initially purchased the wrong stroller.  Convinced that my sister had been one of those fools, I proudly purchased the perfect stroller.  I was convinced that this was a lone investment for the all-in-one only stroller ever needed, according to the experts.  It arrived “like new” from an Ebay seller, except for the hole in the bottom basket.  How that happened is anyone’s guess.  I picture some mom, exhausted, frustrated, ready to explode from discovering that her stroller did not meet all her needs, lighting a match and putting it under the stroller, trying to set it ablaze.

Clearly, I can relate to this.  Yeah, you guessed it.  This was not the end-all, be-all stroller.  I mean, yes, it moved and turned and held the baby.  Yet our first trip to Chicago to visit grandma and grandpa with our newborn gave me a fortune cookie warning I have not learned well since motherhood began: attempt to control the outcome and you will find yourself disappointed.   We checked the perfect stroller at the gate, signing our life away not to hold the airline responsible for damage incurred by them.  It should have read, sign here so that we may rip apart your stroller and get away with it.  Because no sooner did we reach Chicago did we find it missing a wheel.  We waited at the gate discussing how we signed away any rights to compensation, while the stroller killers found the missing wheel.  Our perfect stroller was no longer perfect, nor usable.

Here is where we thank our very handy, ready for anything daddy, who just happens to be traveling with Duck tape.  Do not ask.  Just know that he is possibly the most dependable travel guy I have ever met.  Taping the wheel back on, wrapping the gray tape around repeatedly until it looked like a gray cast, we were again mobile.

Rather than dump this imperfect stroller, we held onto it for five more years, through the birth of a second child; it has become our travel stroller. It has always looked like a decrepit victim since its violent crime by stroller criminals disguised as airline baggage handlers. Additional bruises from the normal wear and tear of childhood disasters have also taken their toll.  For example, the chocolate milk explosion that left a major stain on the seat, the handle that fell off one summer that needed a duck-taping repair, a new cast if you will for its arm, and a bungee cord that now holds it closed. Since then, we have bought an additional four strollers: an umbrella stroller for quick errands and short distances, a jogging stroller for the beach and walks around the neighborhood, and a double stroller for the new edition kid that arrived two years later.   I stand corrected and apologetic for my self-righteous behavior.  My sister was right.  Forget about getting the perfect stroller; it does not exist.  Save yourself time and energy, and succumb to the inevitable.  You, too, will purchase at least four strollers before it is all said and done.

Rainbow of Happiness

Rainbow of Happiness 

A glimmer of ecstatic happiness in simplest form takes my breath away.  I sit on an oriental rug, criss-cross-apple-sauce, like a child, exposed to life from the vantage point of my two and a half year-old son.  Seeing the world through his eyes is a lesson in simplicity, joy and magical splendor.  Technically we are in a music class, but I suspect that this little boy could be anywhere and recreate the following emotions and creative play in any environment.  Our music teacher is engaging, entertaining, and musically expert; my son stares at him intensely with curiosity and patience, awaiting the next activity. 

Out comes a plain, blue polyester bag.  The teacher unzips it slowly with intrigue and expressions of surprise as he peaks into it.  Music emanates the room, full of leaping, jingle-type beats, making you want to spring to your feet and dance.  You refrain, awaiting instruction as we, adults, have learned to do from our organized, rule-oriented culture.  The children in front of us model our behavior and remain immobile, awaiting the teacher’s big reveal, in his inconspicuous bag. 

He reaches in with one hand and in dramatic fashion, pulls out rainbow-colored silk scarves, bunches at a time, springing them upward toward the sky.  Rainbows scatter wildly around us, gliding and moving at their own pace with differing wind resistance.  The scarves rain upon us like magic sunlight, sending rays in each direction.  With each beat, the teacher takes out more scarves to share with his students and their guardians. 

Next, to show the possibilities, he begins dancing with scarves in his hands, waving them to the beat, dancing in various directions, wherever the music takes him.  My son follows, feeling the freedom of movement taking hold of his feet and arms; he swings them in a variety of ways.  He smiles from ear to ear; his eyes sparkle at the magical scene of rainbow heaven.  I model the teacher’s behavior as to exhibit the normalcy of this scene, as if dancing with scarves is all I have ever done.  I feel the flow of energy swirl in all directions, my mind enmeshed in the movement, music and magic. 

Joyfulness reigns upon us, when suddenly our guide takes a scarf, holding it by two corners, blows at the center of the rectangle towards the ceiling, sending the cloud of silk into the air.  My son watches, locked in on the scarf, waiting with hands and arms outstretched, moving to and fro to situate himself under the falling, billowing silk, and catches it, hugging it to his chest, as if he treasures the prize he has retrieved.  He smiles and giggles, like crystal being tapped gently, releasing a calm, melodic chime that alters your insides with colorful peace.  This cheerful, brilliant echo of happiness can be felt by others who observe this ecstatic play.  The engaged magician of a teacher repeats this process again and again, recognizing the significant joy he has brought into the room within a child’s happy heart.  He mentions the considerable talent of my toddler’s eye/hand coordination, foreshadowing a future shortstop in major league baseball.  As a mother, all I feel is my son’s sense of pride from repeatedly catching the scarves and the enjoyment he relishes in. 

Soon thereafter, our instructor blows the scarf with an energetic breath into my little boy’s face, for a new reaction.  As the scarf covers my son and he is momentarily surprised and semi-blinded, he pauses, but almost instantaneously explodes with laughter.  The teacher repeats this harmonious flow of movement; each time my little one reacts as if it is the first time.  His giggles flood the area, with an energy that ripples out to an audience surrounding him, producing roars of laughter, especially within me. 

I feel inside a tremendous light, so bright, watching the humorous nature of life’s simplicity.  Rainbow-colored scarves flow through the energy, breath, humor, laughter’s echoes, and freedom; they envelope me with a feeling of inner, harmonious peace.  This is the type of enjoyment we strive for and are especially grateful to glimpse as often as possible.  The reality is that it only takes a moment.  Within an instant, the uninhibited can feel happiness at the core, deep within their hearts, and outpour this blissful joy through movement, music and creative expression. 

The result you find is a rainbow, awaiting the flow of energy, full of love, laughter, and ultimate elation.  My son is no exception in our world, only an example of what is possible if you allow yourself to travel to that space.  He teaches me constantly of how simple it is and reminds me how complicated we adults make finding happiness.  It cannot be retrieved by striving externally towards it.  Joy thrives within each of us; it takes little effort to let it out.  Next time I seek the extraordinary, I know to search no further than within myself for the ingredients: Breath, energy flow, rainbows, smiles, laughter, and love.  These are the flavors of life that take my breath away, an energetic force of happiness.                                                                                                     

L.E. Falcon is a freelance writer, who lives outside of Boston and treasures time with her two children and husband.  She holds an MBA from Babson College and a B.S. in Math Ed. from Boston University.  You may contact L.E. Falcon at LEFalcon@lightalife.com.

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