Friday, September 15, 2006

Dandelions on the Wind

I ran into an old friend at the grocery store this morning. We hadn't seen each other in a few years, and it was nice to say hello.

By all accounts, she and I should have been good friends. Both unabashedly left in our politics, we were both highly concerned about the environment and conflicted about our roles as stay-at-home mothers. When our boys were young we belonged to the same mothers' group. We'd get together for breakfast or tea, walk to the bagel shop with our toddlers in tow, and even tried power walking a couple of times. She was faster than I was.

We weren't exactly two peas in a pod. I'd bake homemade cookies and stop by with them; she would assume they were slice-and-bake. She entertained more and had more interests outside of mothering.

Things didn't stay easy. Her son didn't like my boys, who besides being loud and boistrous, outnumbered him two-to-one. She watched my baby a few times while I took the two-year old to speech therapy, and her son decided that he was a definite threat.

Soon the social awkwardness went both ways. By the time my oldest was three years old he withdrew socially; other kids were moving past parallel play and expected him to talk, and well, he didn't. When he was four we stopped attending play groups.

For awhile I thought that she was too cool for me; she was cool in ways I only dreamed of. She was active politcally and attempting not to lose herself in motherhood. She had lived all over the country as well as abroad, and I had barely stirred from Southern California since birth.

For a few years I was haunted by the thought that some how I wasn't cool enough to remain friends with her after our children made things difficult. It wasn't just this relationship either; I felt unwanted as a friend each time I made the attempt with anyone new. Marrying young, my fragile self-esteem had never known the dance of connection and rejection. I assumed it was something fundamentally wrong with me that kept me from maintaining more than one close friendship. I assumed everyone else already had great friends and that I kept choosing people who just didn't need me as a friend.

I've come a long way since then. I've learned that people are interesting in different ways, and that my envy regarding someone else's "cool" factor only underlines a need within myself. One woman isn't more hip than I am because she writes; she's interesting because she writes and I seek the courage to see my words in print as well. Another woman isn't "better" than I am because she gets involved politcally; she simply models something that I want for my own life. It makes sense to connect with women who share some of my interests and values.

After I saw my friend I sent her an email expressing a desire to get together again sometime. I realized now that I can do this - send out feelers to various women I meet - without obsessing over the outcome or feeling less than worthy if I don't get the response I seek. I am merely picking dandelions heads and scattering the seeds. Some will take, some won't, and it is no reflection on my value as a human being. Vitality and wisdom are my human birthright; they are the core of all humanity.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Enki Update

We've started our break early. We missed two drawings, but have worked the four processes pretty well through conscious effort in our daily lives. We'll keep that up, and we'll practice reading skills, but that is it for academics. Heck, we may do the drawing in the near future, just because the boys like to draw. But mentally, for my sake, we are on break.

There's too much going on. I've held it together, planning late into the night, always trying to stay one step ahead. We've introduced everything I wanted to introduce in grade 1. We're also tired and burned-out. All I am really doing is making official something that happened a couple of weeks ago; making it official eliminates the guilt.

I need to slow down with Enki, take the break, connect with my boys, read, absorb, plan (slowly). I need to add things in a bit at a time, building the melody of the rhythm (we have the basic container in place). I need to make Enki part of my life, but not the main focus.

Friday, September 1, 2006

What Was I Thinking?

Really. I must be certifiably insane.

I wanted the white dishes unpacked. There were several reasons for this. One, I've been using the same dishes for 18 years. I replaced some of the plates a few years back after realizing that new serving pieces would cost me an arm and a leg if I ever changed dishes, but after a few more years of hard use even the new plates are very scratched (stoneware isn't exactly forgiving). I still have 12 unused plates stored, but I didn't really want to get those down.

I'm not the kind of person to buy new dishes just because. Not that I think it is wasteful, because I am sure someone would use and love the old dishes. No, I'm pretty much just too frugal to buy new dishes. The thing is, I'm not even sure I don't want my old dishes anymore. They are my wedding dishes (though not the pattern I chose), and I spent years scouring outlets and eBay to add many unique pieces. So good memories are attached to them, as well as regret (in hindsight I sure wish I hadn't bought all the accessories).

No, I had another plan. I want to make things easier for my children to participate in the work of our family. I want them to set the table without me having to get down the cups and plates. Growing up we had Corelle dishes with green flowers around the rim (referred to as Crazy Daisy and then Spring Blossom). Corelle dishes are cheap and fairly hard to break; I know my sister was setting the table by the time she was 5. I actually spent a couple of years looking for Crazy Daisy at thrift shops and on eBay; then I found out that my mom bought new dishes and gave all of the Crazy Daisy to my sister. Uugh!

(There is an even funnier component to the Crazy Daisy dishes - Mike grew up eating off the same Corelle. When his parents moved (after we were married) my parents bought all of their Crazy Daisy at the moving sale. Altogether my parents had more than 40 dinner plates, some plain white, most Crazy Daisy.)

I knew I had this set of plain white dishes for 12, bought in some fit of House Beautiful "I must have service for 12 when the family comes for Thanksgiving dinner (which they did once) and the set must have rimmed soup bowls." I bought them at IKEA in 1994, for $13 per service for 4, probably on a credit card. I bought flatware too, for even less, and recently unpacked that and put it in the trailer.

So Mike got the white dishes down for me today, and we unpacked them and started the dishwasher. Then he mentioned that we would need to pack up the old dishes. Okay, that's the part I forgot in my hormonal stupor. Dinner plates, salad plates, luncheon plates and rimmed soup bowls (but only 6 of each), platters, serving bowls, mugs, saucers, butter holder, casseroles, pie plate, vase, canisters, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!

Might I say that I rarely use any of those serving pieces now? I almost always grab a glass serving/storage dish. I have never baked a pie in the pie pan, nor a casserole in the casserole dish; I always use Pyrex. None of the decorative pieces, such as the napkin holder (we don't use paper napkins anyway), butter holder, etc. look that great in my white and yellow kitchen, as they are cream with pink flowers.

The cheap white dishes are clean now, stacked on low shelves in the pantry so that the boys can access them without help. They were so cheap that it won't matter if they get broken piece by piece (and heck, we can save the broken pieces to make mosaics!). Mike remarked that we didn't need so many coffee cups. Thomas, in his magical way of thinking, declared them soup "nogs" (mugs) and he is right, they are the perfect size and shape for a cup of soup (or a bowl for a child).

Really, I think that white dishes and glass storage/serving pieces seems really simple. Think of all of the money we would have saved if that had been our strategy all along. Even cheaper would have been to go with whatever free dishes came our way, no matter the color or pattern. Of course, with kids some things get broken, so for cereal and snacks we use stainless steel bowls made in India, and the boys drink from Coleman enamel-over-steel camping mugs.

More insanity? The food that was on the pantry shelves is now scattered around my kitchen. It's after 4 o'clock, and I am no where near having a kitchen that I can cook in.