Saturday, June 27, 2009

Three Moms

When I stopped in front of Michelle’s booth, at the local farmer’s market, I was surprised to see her flip a delicious-looking omelet. Through my light acquaintance with her, I had never known that she did this.

So I asked.

And she said: “Oh yes. We are doing this for Olivia.”

Olivia is her ten-year old daughter and and Michele and her husband thought that Olivia would enjoy learning a little bit about business as well as creating something with her family. So, last December, the three of them sat down and came up with the idea of having a food booth at the market, for the summer weekends.

Olivia is beaming and I learn that she is involved in all parts of the operation: creation, purchasing, inventory, production...

As Michelle’s husband told me: “By the time se is 16, she will be able to do this on her own.”

What a gift.

They all seemed really happy and I left the booth feeling uplifted by having briefly touched the lives of such a creative parents.


Last night. waiting (forever) for French fries at the drive in movie theater.

The woman standing next to me had been waiting even longer and as I smiled at her, I noticed that her jacket said something about “F.B.I.”

So, of course ... I asked.

As we talked, she told me how one of her three sons was in the F.B.I. Was a forensic psychologist, actually. I found out that this is the guy who talks to killers and - as she put it - “gets inside their heads.” Think Silence of the Lambs.


She told me about him deciding to do this when he was 16, even though no one else in their family had gone to college. She told me about how strange it felt knowing that he could not talk about his work.

She sounded both proud and still puzzled.

Finally, she told me that until he had turned 16, if she had thought of him having anything to do with law enforcement, “it would have been from the other side.”


A delicious lunch shared with a friend.

Our waitress sporting a new haircut. A creative haircut.

So... yes, we asked.

And she told us that her daughter had just graduated from beauty school. Then she said :”I get new hairdos A LOT.”

That’s it. Just three very short interactions with three women.
Three essential exchanges about the many different ways that we get to be moms.

Three connections which continue to feed me. 

Monday, June 15, 2009

Aie Aie Aie

My son Costa is 11 and has developed a serious crush on planes. Actually not planes so much as flying.

So being who he is, he has been taking flying lessons (mostly paid for by him).

This was kinda pushing the edges of my comfort zone but even though I have not yet gone up in the plane with him, I have managed to watch him take off without making a fool of myself by screaming - or fainting.

And then, a few days ago, he started mentioning flying for the Navy. Landing on aircraft carriers to be specific.

I won’t go into the details of why this plan is sooooo far from my aforementioned comfort zone.

When he wrote a book, a few years ago, I was completely happy with his vision of “writing books while traveling in an RV.” I think he had talked of getting a dog to keep him company and I had felt very much at home with that scenario.

Enters the Navy.

Enters his wish to go visit an aircraft carrier “as soon as possible.”


Now, I know that he is only 11 and that he has time to change his mind 200 times before it really matters.

And I also know what it feels like when you announce “what you want to do when you grow up” and nobody pays attention. Or worse: laughs.

So, yesterday, I took a deep breath and I tapped into the part of me that believes in supporting my kids’ exploration - independently of my own ... stuff.

And I sent an email to a man I met while teaching a class who spends a good deal of time on aircraft carriers.

I asked him if he could take Costa (and me) to visit one, this summer.

He said he thought he might be able to work it out.

Oh boy. 

Friday, June 12, 2009

For the Love of Connection

Sitting at a red light, yesterday, I became aware of this great music swimming in and out of the car’s open windows.

Already high on the simple fact that the windows were open (a pleasure we do not take for granted, here in Washington), I let myself be subconsciously wooed by the sound until my appreciation overflowed a bit and I turned to Chris and said “What IS this music? I love it!.”

The question was out and so the answer had been given an invitation to show up.

Turns out, it lived in a big beige van who was stopped a little bit ahead of us, on the other lane.

I made my way to it just as the driver was putting the CD away.

I leaned out and asked her what that music was.

She leaned out, smiling and told me all about it.

Our exchange lasted a pleasantly long time and the red might have agreed as it did not switch to green for a good while.

When it did, we resumed our connection at the next light.

This woman and I may never see each other again and yet we are forever connected.

We spent a few minutes expressing joint appreciation for a sound.

She gifted me a new sound.

I gifted her my gratitude.

I believe both of our afternoons were enhanced by it.

I just love this.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Little Bit Bad ... and a Lot Good

I received a lot of mail following my last article “A Little Bit Bad”

So it is only right that I now share the sequel.

Here it is:

As life will have it, the day after the article came out, my son Marco called me and asked if I would please go with him to Whistle Lake, the next afternoon.

He told me that he had finally jumped from the 60 ft cliff into the water and that he really wanted me to see him do it.

He told me that all I would have to do was hike about a mile in and then swim for 10 ft feet so I could get to the place from which he was going to jump.

That was quite a scary program and I was trying to think fast of reasons why I could not make it.

You see, I am not crazy about the idea of my kid jumping into a lake from a 60 ft cliff.

And I not at all crazy about the idea of swimming in a lake.

Let me re-phrase this: I am panicked at the idea of swimming in a lake.


No good reason, I know. But for me, between the monster eels, the dark water and the-little-people-whom-I-just-know-live-under-the-water-and-are-dying-to-pull-me-under-with-them, I am panicked.

So I said yes.

I said yes really fast and the next day when Marco bounded into the house after school, I was ready to go.

Well, I looked ready to go, anyway.

So we went.

We hiked and that was great.

We got to the swimming place and that was not.

First of all, it appears that Marco’s idea of 10 ft is very, very different from my idea of 10 ft. From most people’s actually.

I stood there, looking at about 100 ft of (to me) very dangerous looking water.

I stood there and I knew that the only way to get to where I would see him jump was, well, for ME to jump.

I stood there and I knew that I could not do it.

I stood there and I knew that I had to.

I had to, if I wanted to accept the gift that I was being given. If I wanted to get to the other side of “A Little Bit Bad.” 

So I did.

I went in and I swam across.

It was scary and fear never left. But panic never came either. And pleasure managed to swim with me alongside fear. I got to experience both.

I had wanted to enjoy swimming in a lake for many years. It is no fun to want to want something you are scared of.

And I was doing it.

A little while later I got to see Marco fly down from the crazy-high cliff and when he seemed shocked - and a little disappointed - that I had not been more scared to watch him leap, I knew that I had had just faced an even bigger (and quieter) fear.

And this, I think, is what happens “on the other side.”

On the other side of missing our babies lives the opportunity to meet our grown kids in new places. The opportunity to let them guide us (when we are lucky enough to be invited) into their world.

And it turns out that sometimes, in that world, is where we find ourselves too.

And that, for sure, is A Lot of Good.