Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Just Thoughts

I am baking bread today. It may well be one of the last days cool enough to enjoy some hot soup with homemade bread and butter.

Yesterday was 75 degrees+, blue sky, popsicles, sprinklers, dirt -- a beautiful day.

Today we've had rain, some wind, not-too-much cooler temps and cloudy skies. These kinds of days often put me in the mood for soups and Christmas music.

It really is so cute. We have a DVD of Clare College at Cambridge singing Christmas carols, and they are lovely. I can put Benji on the couch, with his bear ("baby") and blanket and he will curl right into the crook of the arm of the couch, snuggle his baby and put his little thumb in his mouth. And he will just lie there. He loves watching and hearing the music.

It kind of amazes me, actually. Both because it is so sweet, and also because it surprises me that an almost-twenty-month-old will sit and soak it in like that. It is one of the many things that I love about him.

I get told, frequently, how cute these boys are. I completely agree, but I am a 100% biased party. But even I step back sometimes, when they glance up at me, laughing, or tease me somehow and I watch this little personality emerge and feel like I am with other people, not just my children. I am amazed at what they are, what they think is funny, how they come up with things out of nowhere and it seems complete confirmation to me of being born with a spirit all their own.

Maybe it's kind of like looking in the mirror every day, and not noticing the changes in yourself, necessarily. Once you start looking at old photos, you realize how you've changed.

Sometimes it is a bit like that for me with these boys; I see them every day, but sometimes, I look -- and it takes my breath away. They are beautiful. They are so funny. They are so clever, sweet, refreshingly pure. My flesh and blood.

I saw in the paper yesterday that someone who was very significant in my childhood is retiring at the end of this year. I dropped her a line last night, and was thinking about how important figures of your childhood -- people who made you feel loved and like one-in-a-million to them --seem to stay that way. It is a beautiful thing to watch folks get older and feel the gratitude swell inside yourself for knowing, for being blessed by others, for being able to have been loved by these people -- and we all have them.

It is actually a very inspiring thought for me, because it makes me think about/realize the type of individual that I hope to be to those around me. As frail and flawed as I am, I hope that I can leave a legacy of love and devotion. I think that may be my ultimate goal.

I read, once, in an office a saying that said something to this effect:

People will not remember what you did (or wore or something -- can't quite remember this phrase); they will not remember what you said; but they will always remember how you made them feel.

I think that's really true, and also a bit daunting.

And because this is a kind of random thoughts post, I thought I would post this quote from this book I am currently reading. I thought it so interesting and insightful:

"...the challenge I face with children is the redemption of adulthood. We must make it evident that maturity is the fulfillment of childhood and adolescence, not a diminishing; that it is an affirmation of life, not a denial; that it is entering fully into our essential selves.
I don't go along with the people who say they'd never want to live their childhoods again; I treasure every bit of mine, all the pains as well as the joy of discovery. But I also love being a grownup. To be half a century plus is wonderfully exciting, because I haven't lost any of my past, and am free to stand on the rock of all that the past has taught me as I look towards the future.
The youngsters' rejection of adults often shocks us so much that we in turn reject the rejection and are angered at the violent means by which they repudiate parents and teachers. They drop out of school and college because it just doesn't seem worthwhile. Or they want a college degree without having to work for it. Or they have trial marriages, or just share a pad, rather than entering into relationships which are intended to last for life...with the concomitant philosophy that if you try marriage and it doesn't work, you quit. They are rebelling not again our morality and our discipline but against our lack of morality and our lack of discipline. They are unwilling to commit themselves with promises of fidelity in relationships because they have known too many grownups make these promises and then break them as though they didn't matter. Somehow or other, promises, as well as adulthood, must be redeemed. My seminar students asked me, 'But isn't it better not to make the promises at all? Isn't it more honest?'
I shook my head. 'No. I don't think so. And I think I do have a right to talk to you about this, because I've been married to the same man for almost twenty-five years, and we love each other more now than we did twenty-five years ago. When we were married we made promises, and we took them seriously. No relationship between two people which is worth anything is static. If a man and wife tell me they've never had a quarrel, I suspect that something is festering under the skin. There've been a number of times in my marriage when--if I hadn't made promises--I'd have quit. I'm sure this is equally true of Hugh; I'm not an easy person to live with.'
I'm quite sure that Hugh and I would never have reached the relationship we have today if we hadn't made promises. Perhaps we made them youthfully, and blindly, not knowing all that was implied; but the very promises have been a saving grace."
(From Madeleine L'Engle's A Circle of Quiet -- I highlighted my favorite sentences)

Now, I am not making the argument that all marriages should stay together; I think it would be naive to say that all marriages are better if they don't dissolve. Some are unhealthy, abusive, or very damaging in one way or another. But I will never be the judge of that, thankfully. But I know I will be judged on how I treat/love others, and that's what is important. I think we each do the things we have to do, and that is sufficient.

But, I am a proponent of the importance and sanctity of marriage. And I loved this quote because after marrying -- amidst the truth that my husband is my best friend -- I also suddenly gained a whole lot of respect for folks who had been married for years and years and who are very happy together. I realized how much work a relationship like that takes. And there have been times when I have honestly questioned if I am "marriage material," if I can be the kind of spouse that I hope to be, if I have the kind of love to make a relationship like that. And, even in four short years of marriage, my promises have been questioned. It has been more than I bargained for at times. It has been full of brilliant moments of joy, as well as difficulty and pain, growth, understanding. And this quote really resonated with me because I loved that she said that the promises, in large part, have been a saving grace. I think I can say that has been true for me as well.

And one more note before I sign off. Today is my mother's birthday.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

I want to publicly tell her how much I love her and to thank her for all that she has taught me, for her sensitivity and goodness, for instilling in me a love affair with words and language, for giving me life. She is a remarkable person. I wish you all could know her.

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