Monday, December 12, 2011

Let me entertain you

Yesterday my daughter wanted to call child protective services. Apparently, in her mind, the mommy contract clearly states that if the children are not being entertained at all times then their life sucks.

The morning started with her in pajamas on the couch watching Nickelodeon as I checked email, emptied the dishwasher and made cinnamon rolls. This progressed to me bringing up the boxes of ornaments so tree decorating could be done in the evening, starting laundry and cleaning bathrooms. About bathroom number three the pouting began (by her-although I’m sure I always pout a bit while cleaning toilets).

“WHAT are we going to do today??!!”

“Uhhh…I’m trying to get a few things done and then after lunch Drew has a meeting."

“WHAT?? That’s not fun!!  Why can’t we ever do anything fun?”

Yes, I never do anything fun with my kids. In fact-I try to never be fun, funny or even happy for that matter. Just call me Eeyore….thanks for noticing.

Of course anyone besides my daughter that Sunday morning knows that I thrive on joy. I love to laugh and make others laugh. I guess somewhere in that desire translated into me being her personal circus clown, cruise director or theme park.

So I found myself saying the very un-fun speech about life not always being fun.

We all know it’s true. Cleaning bathrooms isn’t my choice Sunday morning activity. But I shove my ipod in my back pocket and try to make the most of it. Attending a two hour meeting with my 16 year old isn’t a barrel of laughs-but we whisper silly comments to break it up. Sitting through her Christmas concert is not fun-elementary band and orchestra can be downright painful-so I make lists in my head or make silly faces at the inevitable toddler sitting nearby to hear them giggle.

There was a women I knew years ago who made a huge impact on my life regarding this subject. She had three kids the same age as mine and had the most amazing spirit. She had lost an arm to cancer and held a continual battle with the disease, in and out of remission.

I had just had knee surgery and was struggling to walk across a field to a soccer game our boys were playing in together. At that time she was slowly losing her battle, yet she was so concerned about my knee it was overwhelming. I told her how it was really nothing, leaving out the word “comparatively.” But really she wanted to discuss the not important, hear the normal, talk about anything but the disease that was killing her. She needed to smile, socialize and enjoy whatever was presented to her, no matter how trivial or mundane.

She gave me a new appreciation for enjoying every moment to the best of my ability. Even if it’s waiting in line at the DMV, getting your flu shot and joking with a nurse, or those hateful events like flat tires or dentist exams can be made bearable if put in the right perspective and humor.

We can tell our kids about starving, sick, abused or simply neglected children and see if that helps them appreciate what they have. But life will teach them that same lesson if we simply show them to open their eyes and see the world around them. And when things are truly not fun, they need to develop the sense of humor to be their own circus clown.
Even Eeyore can see the bright side on occasion:

"It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily.
"So it is."
"And freezing."
"Is it?"
"Yes," said Eeyore. "However, " he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Across the Ocean

I’m on an almost nine hour flight from Amsterdam. This was my third Thanksgiving there. I don’t mind not being home for this holiday. It’s not one I really understand. I know it’s about being thankful for what you have and the family aspect is nice. But I’m with my family a lot and I try to live a thankful life.  My kids only see their cousins on their dad’s side once a year, during this holiday, so it seems a perfect time to see Dan.

We’re beginning year three of a long distance relationship. We take it to the extreme of course. I’m in Pennsylvania and he’s in Holland. Yet more than half of the year he’s in Africa, Asia, South America or some other part of Europe. I have trouble keeping track. But we see each other every two to three months. I fly there, he flies here, or we meet somewhere.

We were much more social than usual this trip. Dan cooked a traditional PA Dutch Thanksgiving, we met his friends for lunch, drinks, and I even helped locate a Krav Maga center in Amsterdam for Dan’s friend, an extremely high profile musician who is often in fear from strange fans or even stalkers.

One of his friends commented that it must be easier now, the distance, after so long. Dan responded that it’s harder. In the beginning it was new, exciting yet so different for us both. Now we fit into each other’s lives so easily that we feel it more when apart.

Yes, we’re both incredibly busy. He works hard and travels the world changing the face of whole communities with his projects. I lead a bit less exciting existence but wonderful in its own way teaching and training at Direct Action Tactical and studying for my coaching certification. My kids keep me hopping with all they do and my friends keep me sane even when I question if they are at times. My horse keeps me grounded and my dog keeps my language colorful. His business doesn’t translate to the United States. My children don’t translate to Dutch.

We are, in my opinion, now experts in long distance relationships. I can tell you about free texting apps, Skype, frequent flyer miles, money exchange, time zones, Google chat or packing light to avoid checked luggage fees. I can tell you my opinions on Newark vs. JFK vs. Dulles vs. Philadelphia airports. I can suggest an inexpensive driver or cheaper parking locations.

What I can’t tell you how not to miss someone. I’m still figuring that one out.