Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Glass-Half-Empty Mother

I have always wanted to be like my Aunt Susan, who exudes positivity and encouragement. When she tells you that she thinks you're wonderful (which she often does), you honestly believe that she actually might be right. Unfortunately, that positive gene seems to have skipped me. Instead, I am a dyed-in-the-wool glass-half-empty person, despite my continued efforts to the contrary. 

Now, don't get me wrong, the glass-half-empty outlook does come in handy, like on back-packing trips when nobody else thought to bring an extra tarp or duct tape, and on family vacations when those darn meterologists got it wrong again. As the glass-half-empty person, you see, I have already thought about the possibility of these misfortunes and have come prepared. 

In some ways, motherhood has made my glass-half-empty personality thrive, thanks to those slight twinges of fulfillment that come when the baby has a blow-out and J looks desperately at me, "Do you have another outfit and a whole container of wipes?" Well, of course I do. Or when Mister finally admits that his size 9 shoes really are too small and that he must have a new pair of shoes right.this.instant. Lucky for him, I bought them on clearance last year. But still, I would rather be less prepared and more positive. 

Until our trip to California a few weeks ago, I hadn't much thought about the impact of my half-empty outlook on my children. The first night at the grandparents, the kids realized that they hadn't put their stack of books into the travel box, so we had nothing to read before bedtime. I dug through the travel box and found a Snow White sticker book with words and read it instead. Mister and Sweetie had never heard of Snow White before. And they weren't so impressed. 

"Well, that's silly," Sweetie said when the story was over. 
"What is?" I asked.
"Snow White, going off with that prince," she said. "She doesn't even know him."
"Yeah," said Mister. "He could be really mean or something." 
"Yeah," said Sweetie. "Reeeeallly mean. Silly Snow White."

Yes, silly Snow White. Such a trusting, glass-half-full heroine. And who knows what ever happened to her? Yeah, yeah, "happily ever after." Do you think I buy that? (Remember, that glass is half empty.)  So, maybe there are some parenting perks to my half-empty outlook after all. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Poem of the Month: "Like Pearls Well Strung"

The poem of the month this time has to do with love (of course). I was going to pull out a few of my favorite sonnets or love poems I studied while taking lit classes in college, but really, one of my most favorite love poems is written by my friend's husband's grandmother, Caroline Miner. Here's the poem:

"Like Pearls Well Strung"

by Caroline Miner

It was high noon. I did not know there was
Before or After . . . or that long hours could grow
with morning stretching long. I did not know
that evening would bring graying mist and gloom.
I only knew that by your side the cause
of things seemed very clear and I could go
with you, and love, and work, and win. And though
the way be rough and hard, there would be room
for us, for love was magic; we were young.
Together we would seek the Holy Grail,
and days and weeks would pass like pearls well strung
on one long thread of gold, fine-spun and frail
as mist. It has been so, will be tomorrow,
together, we will double strength, divide all sorrow.

My favorite part of this poem is the last line: "It has been so, will be tomorrow, together, we will double strength, divide all sorrow." I love this line because this is what love--particularly the love of my husband but also the love of my family--has meant for me in my life. It has meant that in sharing my life, I have received double the strength when I most need it. And my sorrows have been lighter as I have someone else to help me carry them.  Valentine's Day gives me the chance to show that I am extremely glad that "It has been so, will be tomorrow."

The 5 Days of Love

I've been meaning to post a wrap-up to the 5 Days of Love, but my Internet has been on the fritz, so I'm finally getting to it. 

We had a good 5 Days of Love, but I have to say that I'm glad daily love need not be so extravagant. Mister and Sweetie woke up Sunday morning expecting trails of love notes all over their room. Sorry to disappoint, kiddos, but the big V-day signals the end of the fun. Not really, but the end of the heart cupcaking-making, cookie-making, pillowcase-making (equipped with pockets for nightly love notes and/or treats), and the annual Valentine's day treasure hunt (these two pictures are from a past Valentine's day since the camera wasn't charged for Treasure Hunt 2009). 
Mister was also involved in his own love-fest, trying to add to his class's 100 Kind Deeds book that they are sending to President Obama. So he took treats to friends, mailed Valentine's to grandparents, and donated his allowance to Saleh Jafarov in Uzbekastan to help with his efforts to expand his small business in order to pay for his 3 kids' education (see's great). 

So here we are, all loved out, but glad for Valentine's day!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bring on the Love

So my friend smartmama issued a 14 Days of Love challenge on her blog last week.  Unfortunately, I cannot manage 14 days of love in my present state. I'm doing well if I can manage one day, to be honest. So far, it has proven almost beyond my love capacities to gestate a human being, to gestate a dissertation, and to lovingly correct the two children I already I have when they are at each others' throats rather than snapping, sending them to their rooms indefinitely, or turning on Madagascar for them to memorize. So, no 14 days here. 

However, I think I might be able to manage 5 days. Because it's all about baby steps, knowing your limits, or not biting off more Days of Love than you can chew. So 5 days it is. Yesterday, I pulled out the old Easter egg tree from last April, which is now missing more than half of its appendages, and Voila! transformed into "The Tree of Love."  Mister and Sweetie get to choose one little goodie off the tree every day. Attached to the goodies are notes that tell them something that I love about them. 

And so far, so good on the kids' end. In fact, a little too good. They can't keep away from the darn tree and have been known to sneak peeks or tear little slits into unopened little goodies. Today the Tree of Love had to take a time out on top of the refridgerator until two children could remember that one way to show love to Mom is to obey the Rules of the Tree of Love. 

But so far, so good on my end too. Tonight when I tucked Mister into bed, he said, "Mom, you only had to ask me once to brush my teeth.  Is that something you love about me, that I'm a fast listener tonight?" 

"Yes," I said. "That is one of the many things I love about you." 

It's good for me to remember all of those many, many things I love about my kids. And it's good for Mister too. Who doesn't need a little daily validation?  

Now wish me luck on the remaining 4 Days . . . 

Monday, February 9, 2009


"Bluestockingmama, you've finished round 1 of revisions on that second-to-last chapter of your dissertation, what are you going to do?"

"I'm going to Disneyland!"

"What if it rains?"

"Well, then we'll take rain boots, umbrellas, jackets, and garbage bags to cover the stroller. And there will be absolutely NO lines."

"What if someone steals your umbrella while you're on a ride, and J forgets to cover the stroller during another ride?"

"Then we'll be really wet, a little cold, but we'll still have fun!"

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Poem of the Month: "Metaphors"

I missed posting January's poem of the month by one day. Better late than never, right? This one requires audience participation. It's a riddle. A pretty exciting one, if I do say so myself. I always used this poem in the figures of speech unit when I taught intro to lit. So, I'll save my commentary on the poem until later. First, you have to let me know if you figure out the riddle . . . 

by Sylvia Plath

I'm a riddle in nine syllables,
An elephant, a ponderous house,
A melon strolling on two tendrils.
O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!
This loaf's big with its yeasty rising.
Money's new-minted in this fat purse.
I'm a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
I've eaten a bag of green apples,
Boarded the train there's no getting off.