Perspective

I read an article in a recent Temple Daily Telegram about the proliferaton of weeds as a result of the much needed rainfall we’ve had in the area lately. The rain and mild winter have brought not only the wildflowers out in force, but weeds have popped up too, even among the wildflowers. Jon Gersbach, a Texas AgriLife Extentsion agent interviewed in the article, refers to weeds as “misplaced plants.” He also says, “There are no bad plants, just misplaced plants.”

I love the phrase, “misplaced plants.” The English major in me immediately saw similarity between literal weeds and symbolic weeds. Dandelions are pretty – first as yellow flowers and then as the little ball of fluff that kids (and kids at heart) like to blow and watch the seeds fly through the air. I remember blowing on a dandelion in our yard one time and having my husband freak out because I was blowing little seeds that would produce more dandelions. Paul does not like weeds in the yard, even the pretty ones. Drive into the country and out of the land of manicured lawns, and the dandelions and other flowery weeds look right at home in open fields. One of my favorite prolific “misplaced plants” has been the bastard cabbage. The top is a pretty yellow flower that looks like a wildflower on the top but looks like a weird cabbage near the ground.

At first I related “misplaced plants” to people because not everyone fits into society’s expectations of appearance and success. Thinking about weeds and people more, though, I decided I don’t like the comparison. Who am I to say which person is a wildflower and which person is a weed? I’ve become very conscious lately about judging others. On a side note, I dislike websites and forwarded emails that make fun of other people, like the people in Wal-Mart photos.

Instead of relating weeds to people, I’m pondering the relation of weeds to difficult circumstances. For instance, our move and extended separation from Paul, although difficult, has made me appreciate Paul more. I’m also looking forward to renewing old friendships, and I think I’ll probably live in the kitchen of our new house. I’ve also become more independent (I can change most light bulbs), yet I have relied on help from neighbors and friends  (I can’t reach certain light bulbs, and ladders freak me out. Don’t even get me started on the attic.) more than ever.

Although the bastard cabbage has choked out some of the bluebonnets this season, I’ve also learned to appreciate the pretty yellow flowers.

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If I can’t see you, you can’t see me

Josie, our adorable but high-maintenance lhasa-poo, has a funny way of hiding. She puts her head and half her body under our bed with only her back legs and tail showing. She seems to be saying, “If I can’t see you, you can’t see me.” John did something similar when he was younger. He carried around his soft blanket everywhere. Whenever he was tired, stressed, or sad, he would put the blanket over his head to shut out the world,  and he would stay underneath for an indefinate time.

Josie, John, and I are alike in one major way. We use different ways to avoid conflict and express our feelings. For full disclosure, however, John doesn’t put blankets over his head anymore. I don’t put blankets over my head or hide halfway (or all the way) under the bed, but I’m pretty good at avoiding difficult situations. On various personality quizzes, I have fallen in the turtle/golden retriever catagories. I hate conflict and avoid it as much as possible (turtle), and I also want everyone to be happy (golden retriever).

I am currently in denial and full avoidance mode regarding our upcoming move which will occur on May 15. John and I will leave our wonderful neighbors and friends and move into a garage apartment in Temple for the summer so John can compete in Swim Belton’s Long Course season. We have made some good friends here, and I dread the moving truck pulling up and moving all our furniture to Little Rock. I hate talking about it, and I hate all the preparation I have to do to get ready for the packers.

How do I balance enjoying the rest of our time here with the realization that we are going to be leaving not only very good friends, but our daughter too?

Robert Frost very eloquently says in his poem, A Prayer In Spring,

“Oh give us pleasure in the flowers today;

and give us not to think so far away

As the uncertain harvest; keep us here

All simply in the springing of the year.” 

I’m holding on to the last line and focusing on the present, but I’m still having a hard time with the idea of leaving so many friends and family. I could use a blanket right now. I definitely won’t fit under the bed.

 

 

Fried eggs for lunch

John and I spent the day yesterday at my sister’s house in Waco. John helped Cal with yard work, and I helped Laura host a tupperware party. Afterward, we went next door to meet the new dog and see the chickens. The neighbor, David, gave John and me nearly a dozen farm-fresh eggs. He even moved a chicken off her nest to get a couple. You can’t get any fresher than that. John was excited and said he would make fried eggs for tomorrow’s breakfast. When I woke him up this morning before church, however, he decided he’d rather cook eggs for our lunch.

I was thinking about eggs for lunch instead of breakfast, and those thoughts led to an entire morning of reflection about raising children (don’t worry – you’ll see the connection shortly). When Paul and I first had Catherine, we had no clue about bringing up babies, so we followed a program called Babywise that many couples in our Sunday School class followed. The program was right up my alley because it talked about the importance of getting your baby on a schedule from birth. I like order, and having step by step instructions for getting Catherine to eat, sleep, and play at certain times during the day seemed ideal. The program promoted feeding your baby only at designated intervals and letting him or her cry themselves to sleep in order to learn self-comfort at an early age. The study also emphasized parent-controlled feeding, so the baby would know from day one that he or she did not call the shots.

To make a long story short – This program stunk. I was hit hard with major post-partum depression at Catherine’s birth, and I firmly believe the stress of trying to get a baby to conform to this rigid schedule exacerbated my condition. I was frustrated; she was frustrated, and I think we missed some valuable bonding time because we were trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Six years later John came along, and I still used some of the principles from Babywise, but I was much more relaxed and flexible. Part of the flexibility came from having more than one child and not always having the ability to keep John on a strict schedule. By the time he was two, I threw the entire study in the trash.

I read an article in the Austin-American Statesman about Mayim Balik and her studies in neuropsychology that she related to attachment parenting. She has a PhD in her field, and she talked about the importance of closeness with your baby and comforting them when they cry and letting the schedule work itself out. Ms. Balik also talked about the importance of boundaries but in a perspective of a less rigid, controlling enviornment.

I can sum up the relation between fried eggs for lunch and raising children in two words – Be flexible. In other words, don’t push Catherine to go to college before she is ready. Encourage her to continue working and to enroll in college on her own timetable. I wish we had let her play soccer when she was in first grade, but we were worried that she would miss Wednesday night church activities. In retrospect, that decision was short-sighted.

Boundaries and rules are important, but flexibility when possible is also critical. As I have grown older, I have seen less black and white and more gray. I wish I had that perspective when my kids were younger.

John and I enjoyed our meal of fried eggs and Belgian waffles with white chocolate chips for lunch today. Sometimes having breakfast for lunch or dinner is a nice change of pace.