Profile

Inspired by One Word Sunday: Profile

 

Many years ago…

During a rare visit from long distance family, I caught this moment of rest for three very sweaty and tired cousins. Collapsed on the living room floor after a hot August day spent playing outside in our backyard. More than ready for some down time.

My son and two of his cousins…watching television all in a row.

cousins 1993014 copy

 

 

Believe Me

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #60: Belief

This week, let’s think about the beliefs – personally, socially, culturally – that define our realities.

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bxw rock

 

The most profound disappointment in life is when your truth is not believed.

When reality becomes distorted. By people who matter. And even by people who don’t matter.

But those close to you…that’s when the knife cuts the deepest. Because the hope hangs on. And on. And on. Maybe if this, maybe if that….then they’ll believe me.

Wait, I know that’s what happened. I was there. I heard it. I saw it.

But what if we are programmed from an early age to tell the world – or, more specifically, our world – family, friends – no everything is just fine.

My father would stare into the sad face of one of his children and chant over and over: Don’t Smile! Don’t Smile! Don’t Smile! Laughing…as he repeated his mantra. He’d crouch down and get right in front of a small unhappy face, his mouth stretched tight in a wide grin. His brown eyes, behind thick glasses, betrayed the frivolity. They were mocking. Perhaps fearful.
As if we presented the impossible possibility that one so small and helpless could struggle with an emotion so complicated, so fraught with need.
Need for compassion, understanding, some measure of support. Validation. That we mattered.

I understand now why. He had no idea how to respond. Maybe he was overwhelmed. As it reflected his own dark emotional beliefs. The message: Don’t Be Sad. Deny the Sad. It’s not okay.

Of course, it didn’t take long for our smiles to take shape. If for nothing else, to make the laughing father stop. Smiles did not match up with the eyes or heart. And especially they did not reflect our truth.

My mother, on the other hand, would ask us what we did wrong to cause this emotion that made her so uncomfortable.

I didn’t know what to believe.

Now I do.

 

deering A

Photo a Week: Timing is Everything

Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week Challenge this week: Timing is Everything

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO OR TWO FEATURING PERFECT TIMING.

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When you are a 9 year old girl with a 3 ½ year old brother…on a family vacation…enjoying a lake swim…chances are there will be shenanigans.

You might even be minding your own business…practicing your crawl stroke. Watch Me! Watch Me! Or just hanging out and relaxing in the shallow water.

After a busy year in third grade, a kid needs some down time. That’s what vacations are for.

And then along comes the little trickster. The one with the ready grin, giggles and surprises up his sleeve. Even when there are no sleeves.

Up he sneaks…at just the right moment…perfectly timed…for a well aimed splash.

GPC 1991 splash
Lake Winnipesaukee, NH
August, 1991

Let the games begin!

 

[35mm film]

Five Words

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge: Just when I thought…

Life seldom unfolds in straight lines. It’s not necessary to repeat the prompt phrase, but this week let’s think about the times when life has turned an abrupt corner, or caught us off guard.

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This topic jettisons me back almost 30 years to one of those moments. Which caught me off guard…and remains clear in my memory even now.

You hear so much advice as a new parent. Or a young parent. It comes at you from every direction. Other parents. Friends. Family members. Books. Magazine articles. I’m talking pre-internet…when I was raising children.

In the midst of all this advice, there were times I neglected the inner barometer. My parenting radar and instincts still not fully developed.

My 3 year old son’s 8 month experience at a local daycare center was one of those times. When I should have picked up on the signs. That it wasn’t the best place for him; even at only 2 days a week.

Irritability. Anger. Clingyness. But not all the time. I increasingly felt something was off, but rationalized my uneasiness…as over-reacting to normal toddler adjustments.

Until an exchange one evening while changing his diaper. When paying attention became front and center. And a turning point for me…

I am a bad boy.

The words jarring and new…from a child who talked little. Dark green eyes glanced up at me, and then away.

I froze; his two ankles balanced between the fingers of my left hand as I tried to still their movement. He was anxious to be off the changing table. Arms and legs swinging up. Down. Sideways. Body twisting. Trying to roll over. Two damp middle fingers plunged deep in his mouth. No more words came as the sucking became rhythmic.

With my free hand, I smoothed blonde hair back from his forehead.

His eyes met mine. SweetieYou are a Good Boy. A wonderful boy. And I love you!

I pulled the diaper up between his legs and gently held it on his belly. I let go of his legs. They scissored the air like bike pedals. Wrinkled fingers slid out of his mouth.

Bad Boy he repeated.

I leaned closer…You are the best boy in the whole world.

He strained to be upright. I pinned the diaper, pulled up the pants and stood him on the table. We were almost eye-to-eye.

I felt my outrage growing, the tears close behind….

You Are A Good Boy.

I kissed his cheek. Wrapped my arms around him. Lifted him up. He hooked his little boy legs around my waist and rested his head on my shoulder. His body finally still.

I knew there was only one place he could have heard those words…and gotten that message.

I withdrew him from the daycare center.
I quit my consulting job.

And learned a hard lesson…

t beach

Follow your instincts.
Pay attention.

Children let you know what they need.

 

Choice Connections

Inspired by Lens-Artist Challenge #53: Your Choice

Happy Anniversary to the women who host the Lens-Artist Challenge – celebrating one year by…suggesting that you respond to today’s challenge with any subject that’s near and dear to YOUR hearts, as we’ve done with our images today. If you’d prefer some guidance, choose any of the four subjects we’ve selected this week (Friendship, Imagination, Connected or A Country that’s special to you).

~~~

What subject is near and dear to my heart?

My family below…and scenes like this one from post Christmas 2017 festivities.

Enjoying a family sing-along.

Complete with my husband, son-in-law, son & daughter on guitar and my 18 month old grandson on his new kid-size djembe drum.

I am carefully balanced on a step stool trying my best to capture the moment. While singing.

 

sing-along 2017
Family Circle 2017

 

Grandparents

Nancy Merrill is hosting a photo challenge. The prompt this week: Grandparents

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO OR TWO FEATURING GRANDPARENTS OF ANY KIND.

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I think of my grandparents often. I have written about them in this blog many times. I miss them still. I have included links to their birthday posts for those who would like a peek at the lives of these exceptional grandparents. Two of my favorite photographs are posted below.

 
My four grandparents were the definition of unconditional love.

 

May 1957 opa oma 042 copy
Opa and Oma with me (age 3) and my sister

Opa – my mother’s father, wrote me countless letters (which I still have). I was his “Pen Pal.” He showered me with words of encouragement and support in all my childhood adventures. His sense of humor is family legend. He awakened my love of all things cards and games. Opa and I would sit across from each other playing Pinochle for hours on end…one of my last memories of him.

Oma – my mother’s mother, learned to drive a car so she could make the 45 minute trip from NY to visit me – her first grandchild. At the age of 47. She baked birthday cakes for her grandchildren and made a mean macaroni and cheese. She wrote to me at camp and sent postcards from her and Opa’s many trips around the USA. We became very close as she spent her last few years near my home.

 

grammypapa and me
Grammy & Papa and me (age 3)

Grammy – my father’s mother, lived many hours away from my family…but she wrote me countless letters – full of details of her life “down South” with her sisters. After Papa died, I got to know her better as she made extended visits to stay with us. She was a character and not afraid to speak her mind. An expert seamstress, she made dress-up outfits for my sister and me. Doll clothes too.

Papa – my father’s father, made an impression on me during the short time I knew him…as he died unexpectedly the year I turned 10. I still have a few of his letters. I remember him as a quiet, sweet and patient man who made me feel special.

 

[As a grandparent to a spectacular 3 year old, I now understand how much fun it is!]