I’m sure this will sound kind of weird to some people, but I have found myself lately missing some pretty obtuse things. This morning, for instance, I miss the way my mom sliced the bananas for my cereal when I was a kid. (Told you it was weird.) Since my husband passed, my mind does all kinds of crazy stuff. I have always magnified things that some folks see as little, but this glorification of simple acts has been snowballing more and more. Maybe it’s the fact that I have another birthday on the horizon. Maybe it’s just that old folks’ reminiscing spirit overtaking me. Maybe it’s the loneliness of life giving my head way too much time to wander. Whatever it is, my bowl of cholesterol-lowering Cheerios sent me down a path to a banana tree today. As I haphazardly sliced my banana and watched the fruit chunks hit my cereal, I was disappointed I didn’t have that innate draw to perfection my mom did. I apparently missed that box on the mom checklist.
I sat in the den next to the Christmas with my paper bowl of cereal, and my mind took a sharp detour. (Yes, it appears we will have some squirrel chasing again. Blame it on the fibromyalgia, the grief, and/or my aging mind. Who knows?) As I sat looking at the tree lights, I realized how much I miss the excitement of Christmas, too. Even in my busiest days as an adult several years ago, there was a magical feel to this time of year. The warm fuzzies captured my heart and mind, and I fantasized about what Christmas morning would look like for my little family. I wanted that made-for-TV movie energy from my kids, and I longed to be “that” mom and wife with the perfectly wrapped gifts and picturesque hot cocoa. I never quite got that part down, but I tried. I never figured out the family pajamas and groomed hair for those “spontaneous” first moments of Christmas photos either. Uniformly banana slices for cereal—strike one. Highly coordinated Christmas apparel and magazine cover ready photos on Christmas morning—strike two. This doesn’t look like a good trend.
Then I looked at the tree skirt, and, man, did some guilt hit. I’m not a stuff person. I don’t want my kids to be stuff people. The ability to provide for my kids has been shifted in a very tangible way though since my husband passed. Add to that the social shift—lots of people disappear, that’s just reality—and the landscape of Christmas is just totally different. Now today, the tree skirt is sans gifts mainly because I’m worried the not-my-dog dog will chew the packages, but the reality is there will be fewer gifts even when the packages are placed. My kids are getting older and understand some of the realities of our adjusted life, but they are still kids and have heart squeezes. We used to have mounds of gifts to give others, and the kids had their fair share of things, too. I read posts from two other wids this week expressing the same. One is a widower in England who simply doesn’t have the money to buy for his kids. The other is a widow here in the United States whose family has dropped her and her kids, and they don’t have the size or number of Christmas gatherings they once did. Parent guilt is tough. Widowed parent guilt swirls people into a really yucky place. So now, banana slices—X. Photo ops—X. Holiday “normal”—X.
Oops! Looks like the three strike rule…but…
I’m about to wake my kids from their slumber in warm beds. They, too, will have cereal and milk then will get ready to get in a car the runs to go to church. We will come home to complete homework because they are both getting educated. They will likely shoot basketball and/or watch tv for a bit, and then after another meal, they will pile back in those warm beds. They have shelter, food, and structure. They have a mom who tries to keep balance and love in their home even if she doesn’t slice bananas to perfection. Maybe baseball rules don’t apply to every facet of life, huh?
Cherish the Good
I may need to give myself the pep talk I regularly give my boys: it is fine to look back and cherish the good times, but we need to appreciate the now and look ahead with anticipation of the good that can happen tomorrow. We certainly don’t want to miss something in front of us because we were so busy looking behind us.Carry the good, and learn from the not so good. As long as your heart is good and you act with good intentions in mind, your effort will be enough. Click To Tweet
Now I really do need to wake them, or they won’t have time for that cereal in the throwaway bowls…and I won’t have time for that last cup of coffee by the sink.
Until next time…
Bio-Melinda Campbell is a retired educator who currently focuses her efforts on raising her two teenaged boys, advocating for individuals with special needs and against drunk driving, and serving in her local community. Melinda has been gaining recognition for her writings labeled “Reflections from my Kitchen Sink” since the tragic death of her husband Michael in 2015. In her stories, she shares observations from her daily life including moments she has as a solo parent, a widow, and a woman who battles significant health issues including fibromyalgia and depression.