Election season. Yea. Sometimes you just need to step back from it and bleach your brain out. So I’ve been thinking on the things that make me smile, that make me feel grateful. These are the bottom lines of my life, so to speak, the things or people that, when I think about everything that is hard or negative or wrong I remind myself of–yea, this sucks, yea, people can be crappy but my kids are safe, happy, and well loved; my husband is there for me, a true partner and a stunning example of unconditional love. Or they are the random focal points of my life, the things that help me come back to myself if I get upset, that lift me when I’m down, or just make me smile. I thought I would put a few of those things in this blog just to remind myself that they are far more important than any negativity and ignorance, that they impact my life in greater ways than random asshatery.
First in line is a very silly poem my husband and I wrote when I was pregnant with our first child, Liam, now eleven years old. Last night I stood in the doorway of our office and watched Liam typing away on the computer, hard at work on a project for school. It was one of those moments of clarity, “Whoa! Eleven. Wow.” How did that happen? He’s always seemed older than his years, he’s an old soul, that one. He’s also scary smart and his school here discovered that within about five minutes of meeting him, so they asked if we would be okay with moving him ahead a grade. We hemmed and hawed, a lot more went into it than is relevant for this particular blog piece, and agreed. He struggled academically last year, for the first time ever, it wasn’t a bad thing. He learned he had to work, be dedicated, be responsible. This year I’ve seen him rise to the challenge of seventh grade and, last night, he said “I’m not going to use my video game time today, too much homework.” Without grumbling, just this matter of fact statement. If you know any 11-year old boys you’ll know this is a big deal. Watching him mature into a young man who makes me very proud brought me back to this poem, written very close to his due date, when he was just a little creature kicking it in my womb:
Twas the night before Christmas and in our little house a tiny creature was stirring underneath Heather’s blouse
The hospital bag was packed with great care in hopes the sweet baby soon would be there
Parents-to-be snuggled warm in their bed while visions of dirty diapers danced in their heads
When suddenly in the quiet there arose such a clatter “Ouch! ouch!” “Is it labor?” “No, it’s just my bladder.”
“Patience, patience” said the Daddy, the Mommy just sighed. “Oh this waiting!” she exclaimed. She was fit to be tied
So on Otto, on Moya, on Arthur, and Guini! Please bring us labor pains and bring them aplenty
We’re waiting, you see, for this sweet little baby. Will he be here next week? Who knows! But, just maybe …
Next in line is this rug:
When my husband was serving in Iraq it was hard on our entire family, for whatever reason it was hardest on our middle child, who was seven. She had a tough time talking to him on Skype, I think it was just too taxing emotionally, and she would cry after because she missed him so much. Hardest was bedtime because he is the story reader, she didn’t even want me to read to her, I wasn’t daddy. One thing you should know so the rug makes sense is that she has a phenomenal imagination, she creates different characters for herself and weaves fables around those characters. So, on his first R & R, he brought her this rug. He told her it was a magic rug and that, when she sat on it and closed her eyes, she would fly on the rug to Iraq and they could be together. After he went back to Iraq I would see her sitting on the rug in her room with her eyes closed, a smile on her face because she was with her daddy.
Then there is the absolute silliness and charm of our youngest. This morning he was upset because he’d hurt his mouth, I was considering keeping him home. For a sore mouth. My husband just laughed, shook his head, and held up his little finger. “This is Ry.” Then he wrapped his other hand around his finger. “This is you.” Ha! It’s true though, for some reason that little one has me wrapped tightly (also, his grandfather, probably even more so, AMIRITE, Dad??). All I have to do is see his face and I smile. How could you not?
There’s also this, my husband leaves the flowers from our gardenias and roses on my bedside table so I see them when I wake up or when I am rushing around to get ready in the morning
To complete this list is the music of a man I discovered the first year we were living in Ireland. We’d gone to see one of my all time favorite musicians, Christy Moore, and this man was a guest of his–to say his music has been a cornerstone of my mental health since is a slight understatement. He is an incredibly gifted singer, songwriter, and musician but, more to the point for this list, he is a person with great compassion, empathy, and passion. He has a way of examining the difficulties of life, in the personal and political, and still remain unfailingly positive and whole. His grace shines through in his music and has lifted me many times:
Title track of his new album:
Rainy Night in Soho, written by Shane McGowan and covered beautifully by Damo here:
Interview that encapsulates, in three and a half minutes, why this man is so special:
So, there it is. This will be the piece I read during this election season when I get angry, frustrated, bogged down in the spins and nastiness. These people, memories, and things are my antidotes.