Sunday, March 1, 2009

Untitled for the Time Being

Visual interest for today are some store-bought tulips I put in the bathroom window. Can I just tell you how much life they breath into a room? I think I can manage to squeeze $5 a month out of our budget for this kind of mental boost.

OK, two things:

First, Brahm, Oliver and I biked to swimming lessons last week. Brahm was on his own bike and Oliver rode the trailer bike that attaches to mine. He knows how to ride a bike on his own but when we go through traffic, I feel safer if he is with me. So before we got there, Oliver's chain popped off twice. This is irritating to me for two reasons: 1) I like to be on time and having to stop to put it back on slows us down and 2) it pops off either when he shifts too fast or doesn't pedal correctly in conjunction with the shifting. Not knowing which it is keeps me from helpig him correct the problem. This frustrates me to no end (plus I'm a grumpy mom anyway) so I say in exasperation, "Well, I guess you'll just have to take gear-shifting lessons from Papa." Though I try to mask it, I'm sure he picks up on the irritation in my voice and I feel bad. Kids miss so little.

Yesterday we biked to the pool again, this time just to swim for fun. Right out of the gate I'm having problems pedaling and I look down to see that my chain has come off my own bike. "Daaaah!" I shout to myself but Oliver is already tuned in. "Well," he chimes in cheerfully, "looks like you'll have to take gear-shifting lessons from Papa, too." Touche´, my friend.

You know, the thing about parenting is that either I think I know what I'm doing or I think I should know what I'm doing (even though the evidence to the contrary for both is continually mounting). That's what makes parenting so hard. If two little lives weren't at stake here, it would be easier to take my job less seriously. What I mean is, maybe I wouldn't feel so much pressure to make sure they turn out right if it weren't so important. At the same time, parenting is a paradox: yes, being a responsible parent is crucial and no, it doesn't all depend on me (and Brooks). Kids are who they are and the further along I go on this path the more it seems to me that my job is simply to cultivate the little seed that landed on my doorstep the day they were born. It seems so easy when I write it — what makes it so hard in practice? I guess it's expecting that I should always know how to coax the seedling along and remembering not to trample on it in the meantime.


All right. Well, the second thing happened yesterday as well. I told the boys when we came home from swimming that I had a surprise for them. At dinner they reminded me about it. Not only had I forgotten what they surprise was, I couldn't remember telling them there was one! Sheesh. Does dementia start this early?? I remembered it this morning, though, and here's what it was:

When the basement was dug out, we put it very shallow window wells (about six inches) around the newly enlarged windows. In the eleventh hour of fall, I decided to plant some spring bulbs in them with some help from my friend Matt. I didn't tell Brooks or the boys because I wasn't sure there was enough soil there for them to grow in the first place but if there was, I wanted them to be surprised by the blooms in the spring. Just a couple of days ago, I noticed some green shoots appearing above all the dead leaves that had collected in the wells over the winter. It worked! I was so excited.
Part of the delight for me is that right inside the window of the boys' bedroom we have created a reading nook. I imagine them all nestled up with a good book on a cold day where they can see the bubs in progress right through the glass. It would be a reassurance to them that warmer days are just around the corner. And on these kind of winter days (whether they are in January or June), I could use this kind of reassurance myself.

As I write it, it seems that raising kids and planting bulbs aren't that different from each other. Both require a certain degree of belief — belief that if I just do my best, God will take it from there. Seeing hope manifest itself in the spring season after season is a good reminder that that, like the bulbs, my boys are ultimately in Good hands, too.


Keli'i and Megan said...

Love this post, Jenny. We seem to be grumpy moms together. I wish I wasn't, but I think I take it very seriously too. I hope I don't trample my little seedlings as well.

Heather said...

It is so great to hear that there is another Mom out there just like me.
I don't know why but I can never express it as perfectly as you can, but it is like you are in my head allot of days. We are two peas in a pod we are. SORRY ;0)

Matthew said...

1. Planting those bulbs was pretty fun; I'm glad they sprouted!

2. I'm not a parent, nor will I ever be. I believe deep down that perhaps my being gay was God's way of ensuring that I didn't reproduce, as I would probably try to take my kid to the pound when he/she was naughty as I have done with a couple of pets. However, I do recognize a good parent when I see one, and you, Jenny Winkel, are a pretty damn good mom. I wish my own mother had been more like you. Don't get too hard on yourself. The fact that you think about your parenting style is a very good sign.

3. I'm glad Oliver suggested that Brooks give you shifting lessons; the idea made me smile.

4. Look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

eugie74 said...

Matty, I'm so lucky to have you as a friend! Thanks for the encouragement. Funny how a lot of times my focus lands on the things I can't seem to do well instead of reminding myself that there are a lot of things I finally have gotten the hang of! I am seeing progress in the other areas and for now that's good enough. :)