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(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

One year later, our kids’ leaving home is entirely different from the first exit. The house is quiet once again, but how we got here is a whole new story.

This is the very first year Christiana and Jackson are not in school together. Unlike many twins, they did not separate for their freshmen year in college. That made our lives easier—one location, one calendar, one move-in day, one school to get to know.

1995 First Day of Preschool


The kids’ initial separation occurred earlier this year when Christiana accepted a job working as a conference assistant for Fort Lewis College. When I picked her up for a short stay between the end of the semester and the start of her job, she was pretty angry with him. We took her back before he arrived home. While talking with Jackson, we discovered he was frustrated with her.

Although they had moved into different dorm buildings, she had moved into his building within a couple months. Easier to spend time to together that way, but also easier to fall into old patterns. We didn’t used to call them “The Bickersons” for nothing—and, yet, they are very close.

Within a couple weeks of being apart this spring, they were already missing each other and trying to figure out how to visit one another despite the 13-hour round trip drive.

All along we’ve worried about whether Jackson could stay at Fort Lewis, but Christiana is the one who started to question whether the college was right for her, ultimately giving notice from her work there after two months and coming home to her old job.

Meanwhile she waited to see if she could get accepted into Colorado State University and get everything in order to transfer for the fall—if she decided to make the change. Jackson was happy to have her back home, but not so excited about the possible longer separation.

The funny thing was that our relationship with him became less strong once she came home. Reminded me of how often those two were a force against us when they were children. Twins can be a powerful team and woe to those who would try to get in between them, even unintentionally.

1997 First Day of School

Here it is the second week of school already for her and the first for him.

She and we jumped through a lot of hoops to get her set up for fall semester. We moved her possessions into an apartment a couple weekends ago and then she and I returned a few days later for transfer orientation—she to stay and I to return home. During orientation, the facilitators’ words allowed me to see I was in mourning for the change myself even though I feel it is the right move for her and am glad to have her closer to us. It’s just I thought I knew what to expect for this their sophomore year.

Very few parents of multiples get to have their kids at the same college—we’re just going through the more typical transition in our family a year later than most do. In the end what matters is that each kid follows the path that is right for him or her.

Jackson had time off work before needing to leave for school, so he insisted on going to visit Christiana to “help” her with her first few days of school. I know he slept in late while she started the next step in her education, but I also think he provided a steadying presence as she starts to adjust to the paradigm shift of moving her studies from a small liberal arts college to a large university.

He came home saying he’d like to live with her again in the few years after they get out on their own. I have no idea if that’s a good plan or not, but I think they’ll have a better idea after they have lived separately for the next few years.

1997


Sherman and I helped him move into his college apartment last Saturday. How strange to be at that school again without her.

The transition back to school lasted a couple weeks for our family this time around—which is exhausting no doubt for all of us.

The road to independence has additional twists for twins and their parents—as well as a possible fork or two. We parents will just try to enjoy the drive, even while traveling without a map.


Today’s my birthday and I’m getting a pretty big present: my daughter.

What a difference a year makes. We took both kids to college—six and a half hours away—in late August. The distance is just a little too far away for many weekend visits and when they do come home during the school year, they really aren’t in town for much longer than 36 hours. Their physical absence from home was pretty complete.

And yet, kids today communicate differently than we did. It’s hard to cut the apron strings when you can be in constant contact through texting, chat, and e-mail.

Those first weeks, Christiana found herself in a less than warm dorm situation while Jackson was having the social time of his life. Although she had plenty of time to call us, I knew she needed to be connecting with her life there and that I wasn’t supposed to be trying to solve all her problems from a distance.

Most of us find it hard to let go of our kids these days, but even agreeing to have her go to school so far away was difficult for me after her dance with depression.

I tried to set up her medical care through the college’s counseling center, but they bungled the care enough that neither she nor we trusted them to come through for her. Continuing to work with longtime trusted providers so far away from where she was living was only slightly better than having no providers at all.

Just when things seemed darkest for her, Christiana figured out—on her own—what she needed to do to integrate better into college. She found a roommate who was living in her brother’s dorm building. Won’t go in to the whole long story, but that place became home.

Which—unfortunately for us—meant she, like her brother, stopped talking with us much.

I know our kids are supposed to separate from us at this point in life, but here’s where I go back to sounding like that really old-timer again. Really, kids today do communicate differently. Because they can contact you at all hours, they don’t contact you regularly. I know from talking with parents that I’m not the only parent who has this problem with their college-aged kids.

Despite being able to talk almost at will thanks to today’s technology, we just don’t. Or at least our kids can’t slow down enough to talk with us during the normal waking hours for middle-aged parents. I think my kids were more disconnected from me than I was from my parents for my three months studying in Spain. We talked once for five minutes, but wrote very detailed letters.

When you only hear from your kids when they are in crisis, you don’t know if they are in a constant state of crisis or if they are only having a bad moment. You lose the connection with what’s going right in their lives and you can’t say whether your perspective on what’s going wrong is very accurate.

Christiana interviewed for and was offered a full-time summer job at school. Although we wanted her to come home, earning for four solid months seemed a pretty good opportunity during these times of high unemployment for young people.

Despite the fact we helped her get set up for staying the summer and then moved her to her new apartment, we just felt distant from her. Without a whole lot of communication or time together, she seemed to be someone we didn’t know anymore.

Meanwhile Jackson came home. He’s been here for almost two months. Even though he rarely called us while away at college, being around him in person has been a joy.

Something just didn’t feel right about Christiana’s being gone still—maybe it’s too soon for this separation, maybe the situation wasn’t right—but when she explained why she’d like to come home, things finally felt right. After working another couple weeks, today’s the day we welcome her back into our home.

Although we haven’t been empty nesters since Jackson returned, it’s still going to be a big adjustment to have everyone in one house. All I know is though I was ready for her to go away to college, I wasn’t ready to feel so far removed from her life.

Welcome back, dear one! Time to create a new normal in our changing relationship.

Happy birthday to me.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

A long, long time ago in a country pretty similar to ours, I was a young adult. Our technology, such that it was, used to give some structure to our time. Before we had cable TV, our stations went off the air at midnight. We could only watch TV shows when they were on and had to wait between commercial breaks. Long distance rates didn’t drop to barely reasonable until 11:00 p.m. Of course, for decades electricity had allowed people to work or play the whole night through, but our world’s transformation to a sense of timelessness hadn’t quite been so complete when I went away to college—1000 miles away from home—knowing I would see my family only every three to six months.

Such transitions in life were different when everything wasn’t available 24/7.

Every Sunday night, whether convenient or not, I called my parents at 11:00 p.m. EST and my brother called them at 11:00 p.m. CST. Long distance was expensive, so we tried hard to discuss anything necessary, money-wise and/or decision-wise at that time, as well as fit in talk about what was happening with me at college and with them back home.

Yes, we had no e-mail, IM, Facebook, Skype, or any of that. Gone was gone. We did not see each other, period. And it was a rare (and spoiled) person in my dorms who talked to her parents frequently on the telephone, even though many of my dorm-mates came from families with money.

When we communicated, we had to make it count.

Now I can see pictures of my kids in real time, thanks to mobile uploading on Facebook and can talk to their images thanks to Skype. They can text me with “send money” requests and call me when there is trouble or decisions to be made.

What we don’t seem to do is connect. I can only surmise how they are doing from Facebook pictures and status updates.

Look, I’m fine with this empty nest thing from a day-to-day living standpoint. I like having a neater house and getting more sleep and not having to decline activities because they conflict with the kids’ events. I am enjoying developing a life after the constant focus on our kids.

But I’m not fine with being disconnected from them while they live 6 ½ hours and several mountain passes away. In the chaos of a 24/7 world, they can’t find any regular time to talk with us on their phones? Really.

In their defense, I think it takes a lot of discipline to fight against letting technology control our lives. We can spend our days and nights responding to instant attempts to connect with us while not initiating those that require us to act rather than react. We can confuse the supposed urgent contact with being the important contact.

And, it’s even harder for people who have ADD, now that the world has gone hyper-ADD itself.

Yes, both my kids have ADD and struggle with time now that they don’t have me to point out the chronos from the kairos. Apparently I wore my chronos role too strongly in our household and they are ill-prepared for a world that, though it may run 24/7, does indeed have time limitations.

However, technology or not, at some point a person has to realize that making real time for people is the only way to maintain connections.

I can’t make my kids contact me and I refuse to sit around waiting for calls that aren’t going to come.

For myself, I’m going to add a little low-tech structure to my life—even if it will cause me to be more reactive than proactive for several months—by getting a puppy and maybe even rescuing or fostering a young adult dog. Short of acquiring opposable thumbs, the dogs will just have to communicate with me face to face.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Just when you think you’re living in the here and now, sometimes you respond in a way that tells you you’re not over the past yet. At least I do.

My days are much calmer than they’ve been in years—and my nights, too. The kids are away at college and my mom’s health has been relatively stable. Sherman and I have been doing projects that have been put off since my mom fell and moved to Denver almost three years ago—and since her rapid decline into dementia became evident and required so many extra tasks—and brought on a whole lot of worry and loss.

Truth is I couldn’t really even give Mom the attention and love she deserved during much of that journey because my life was divided between concern for her and concern for helping my daughter to find a way out of depression.

For so long I lived one day at a time—and for a while there, it seemed I could only focus on more like one hour at a time.

When stuck in caregiving mode, “everyone” tells you to take care of yourself. You do what you can—I exercised and blogged as much as I could. But so much was left undone. And, as I’ve noted before, when I’m upset, I’m less efficient (thanks to those darn emotions!) than usual.

Since I’ve never really been efficient, the “to do” lists were even more overwhelming during our hard times. To retain sanity, I had to pull in and focus on caring for my loved ones and myself. The larger community of this world was going to have to wait for my time and efforts.

Even after a few months of the slower pace of the empty nest, I’m still saying “no” to many requests. I have the time on the calendar—I do—but I just feel pulled to spend time here in my home where, thanks to some of our recent work, the chaos is no longer overwhelming. It’s as if the adrenaline has not quite left my system and I have to take my pace down to a crawl to relearn that not everything requires a “fight or flight” response. I’ve had to be so flexible and reactive for so long that I find it especially hard to give up planned down time—even when people really need help. I also know that there will likely be more surprises on Mom’s final journey.

This is where the little angel and devil begin fighting over my shoulders about what I do and don’t deserve. I can’t tell if this is a moral dilemma or a health dilemma—or both. Part of me feels as if I am acting selfishly right now, but another part is not sure I am recovered enough yet from all the twists in my own journey to reach out to others very often.

As it turns out, lately, thanks to the little physical ironies of aging, I’ve found myself awake when I would prefer to be asleep. Since my usual get-to-sleep techniques don’t seem to be working, I’ve figured out I might as well spend the extra time praying. If I can’t put my hands to work doing for others, maybe I can put them together in prayer.

All my life I have been much better at giving through actions versus with contemplative offerings. My everyday actions were my prayers. I pray that, in the near future, I will have worked through the scar tissue enough to return to living more as the spontaneous, giving person I used to try to be.

In the meanwhile, just give me Jesus . . . and a little more time.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

August already and the days continue to slip away until we reach our new normal.

As I prepare to go to my 30th reunion, I am easily reminded of that last summer before I left home for the first time: working, going on dates, hanging out with friends, rarely being home with my family, and getting very little sleep. There was a frantic feeling of “now or never” with my current friends and an underlying concern that maybe I’d made the wrong decision about my future, especially as friends left for closer colleges, classes began for my friends still in high school, and I languished in limbo.

Why had I chosen to go so far away? To be alone where I knew no one? How would it be having to stay away from my family home for two and a half months, no matter whether or not things were going well?

In a lot of ways, I didn’t consider failure as an option. My choice just had to work. I didn’t have a fallback plan.

It helps that I chose to attend a small school where almost everyone had to make new friends. Even if some of them could go home or might know one or two other kids from high school, most people stayed on campus on the weekends.

But the truth is, there wasn’t a lot of time to be alone—there was too much happening. I remember it as one of the most natural and rewarding transitions of my life.

I don’t know how I figured out when to do my laundry or how much studying to do or how to balance social life with academic life or how to notice when maybe I’d burned the candle at both ends too often. I know I panicked at times, but then I dug in and did what needed to be done. Mostly it worked out and I had a great time. My parents were too far away to rescue me very much. We kids at college helped each other through our crises, although I’m sure I don’t know all the stories of those who somehow didn’t make the transition well.

Christiana and I went shopping on Sunday for things such as sheets, towels, and laundry supplies. We had to laugh because we saw a lot of moms and daughters out shopping, but no sons with their moms. I figure most of the guys are happy to have their moms pick up a couple towels and sheets—dark, of course—and they really don’t care about the rest. Yes, Jackson and I had picked out towels earlier, but softness was the major factor for him—he was perfectly happy with the colors I pointed out that would make his laundry life easier.

So my kids are where I was thirty years ago—and, just like then, sometimes things get a little tense at home. Our family and their friendships are changing, yet the kids have no idea what will happen in their futures. None of us does, really.

It seems to me more people worry these days about college not going well for their kids. Maybe it’s the money, but maybe it’s also the current climate around this transition. The word on the streets is this generation of parents doesn’t know how to let go. Gone are the days when long distance phone calls cost so much that families only talked once a week or less. Heck, I went to Spain for three months and only talked to my parents once for less than five minutes.

Today’s Denver Post has an article on college readiness for students, along with an article on readiness for parents. Apparently, one of the reasons colleges host orientation for parents (made our reservations yesterday) these days is to teach us how to parent from a distance without hindering them from growing by allowing our kids to learn some of those outside classroom lessons on their own. We’re not supposed to burn up the wires (do you think kids today know what that term means?) with multiple text messages, online communications, and phone calls trying to solve their problems. We’re to practice saying something like, “What do you think you will do about that?”

Someone suggested to Christiana that she was being unfair to her parents by going so far away to school. Heck, it’s in the same state—I went 1,000 miles away and could not return until the end of each quarter. Honestly, it’s a whole lot easier to take ownership for your problems and enjoy the social aspects of college when you can’t come home easily.

I’m going to miss my kids like crazy but I know it will be easier for all of us to adjust to our new roles by having some space to force us into the next steps. I think they’re going to have a great time—and so are we, even if it will be a little uncomfortable getting to that point.

Just as when I was pregnant, everyone wants to remind us our lives are going to change. Well, duh! And, as much as I get that, I remember that you can’t really “get” such a big change until you’re living it. But enough with the negative warnings to us: “Your house is going to be so quiet.” What do you want us to do? Put on mourning clothes and say our lives are over?

And stop telling the kids they won’t be able to handle it or pointing out all the areas where they might fail. If the initial experience doesn’t work out well enough, they’ll work through it. In this life there are do-overs and new beginnings—that’s part of learning, too.

Despite the bumps, the kids will be alright and so will we.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

It’s been a big day around here—Christiana can legally buy spray paint on her own. Just kidding, there are a lot of things both kids can do on their own now that they are eighteen—they hate needles, so I’m not expecting any tattoos, though.

This birthday is just another sign of how much things are changing around our house. Pretty much everyone—and I mean almost everyone who knows we only have twins—wonders how we’ll survive this autumn when our house becomes much quieter. The question we keep hearing is, “What are you going to do with your time?”

My glib answer is that we will be able to sleep more and we won’t have to trip over so many shoes on the floor.

I have no deep answers for the question, though, because with all the family health concerns over the past few years, I haven’t had time to develop a plan for most days, let alone for sometime in the future. I know that’s not a good thing, but as much as I’m not that great of a planner in general, I am almost equally as good at doing what I need to do when faced with having to do things differently, with or without preparation. Trust me, going from DINKs (Double-Income No Kids) to sleep-deprived parents of twins who worked together was a major paradigm shift for both Sherman and me.

In the end, Sherman and I had to find our own ways, together and apart, when I gave birth to our instant family. When we face the instantaneous return to a household of two, we will no doubt each have an individual response beyond our shared experience.

However, just because I can respond to change doesn’t mean there isn’t some trauma and stress associated with transitions, especially in those situations when I encounter transitions where I actually gain enough time to think about what I’m doing.

What I do know is that I’m a lot like my mom in that I put my main focus on raising my kids. Frankly, that gets exhausting as the years pass. Some of us do a little better stepping back from that focus when tangible boundaries, such as distance, get put in place. I don’t know how the transition went for my mom, but by the time I came home after college graduation, she was ready to do things her own way in her own house. She was happy to see me, but she wasn’t interested in integrating me back into her everyday life.

It was her turn to sleep more and not trip over so many shoes.

It was also her turn to put some space between the situations and choices that are part of the often chaotic transition to adulthood and to let me handle those years—mostly—on my own.

Who will any of us in this house be next year at this time?

My most recent Chinese fortune about sums it up: “Next summer you will dance to a different beat.”

But tonight we celebrated the eighteen years we’ve had together—and will keep celebrating throughout this summer—before we leap forward into moving with whatever beat we hear next.

Happy eighteenth birthday to both Jackson and Christiana! May you have a great time as you figure out how to dance to the rhythm of living away from our home—we’ll be listening while also finding our own rhythm.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

1998 Kindergarten Graduation

Graduation ceremonies are always a little surreal. They tend to go on too long, especially for those wearing hot robes, and yet they take very little time compared to how long it took to arrive at those ceremonies.

I’ve been through a couple of my own, watched Sherman at one, been present at a few more, and, just a week ago, saw my own two kids receive their high school diplomas. Even the most recent ceremony is already a little blurry in my mind.

Sure the mortar boards and tassels sit displayed on the table, along with the diplomas, but the whole thing makes no sense. Everything’s different now, but we just don’t know how yet.

Transitions are that way. All you know is that you’re not living in the world you knew, but the next step has yet to happen.

So here I sit, exhausted from all the preparations—both those last week and those from the whole 13 year school experience—and still a little stunned. I’m just happy to read a book, putter around with my plants, rest a little longer, and live in this moment. I’m not even overloaded with words or thoughts. In fact, I’m a little bit blank.

That isn’t the worst thing—after all the future’s a bit like a blank check for both kids and parents ready for the next phases of their journeys. And yes, I’m thinking of the check as one you receive, not one you write, even if we’re going to have to write a few of those checks as the kids embark on a much more expensive educational voyage.

What will any of us be when we grow up?

A bright future dawns—I’m wearing shades!

2010 Graduation

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert, Lion High Five

It’s about the learning, stupid.

Sorry about using the terminology—for many years in our house, “stupid” was considered almost a swear word. Because, really, who is to define what stupid means? Does it mean someone who can’t understand something or does it mean someone who puts the focus on our definition of the wrong things? The first person may not have the capabilities or outside help to understand so we shouldn’t dump our contempt on him/her. And the other person, well, I imagine one person’s stupid is another person’s smart and vice versa.

Thirty years ago Mt. St. Helens dumped ash on the cars, even in my home state of Nebraska, right before I graduated from high school as number two—we try harder, you know. Or so the saying goes.

I won’t deny that I worked hard for that accolade and that in many ways I deserved it. In many other ways, it just doesn’t matter.

What going for the grade-point and the ranking didn’t teach me was how to learn for learning’s sake. That educational path made me less of a risk-taker and more of a bean-counter. How many points did I miss? Was everything turned in? Did I study things because I could understand them? Was I good enough if I didn’t get the exact answer even if I understood the concept and why it mattered?

Those in charge of the G/T council I sat on for the last four years will say I was lucky—I got my first B when I lived at home. I didn’t have to go off to college for my perfect record to be shot down.

That helped me to have a wee bit better attitude toward not seeking perfection in college. I figured I’d do OK if I got one B a quarter—which isn’t a bad philosophy if you factor in a lot of other factors. But if you’re thinking you have to get all A’s in the other classes regardless of what you’re studying or who is teaching it or anything, you’re still missing the point.

I had a creative writing professor who tried to get us out living the liberal arts. He said it wasn’t enough to study them—we needed to make them part of our outside lives—and we needed to make experiencing those non-academic things as important as we did our academic learning.

Was he crazy? I had homework to do!

So it was I found myself with unexplained stomach pains and a lack of energy that did not lift until I spent a semester studying in Spain—where I was in a program designed to be less work based so students could learn outside the classroom. Besides, in those classes I could see the benefit of studying a topic in depth versus moving through the breadth of the material at a whirlwind pace that allowed little time for deep thoughts.

Oh, I didn’t quite heal myself, but I understood why I might want to do so. I got that learning is all around us and it isn’t the person with the highest grade-point who wins or even the person who does the most activities—it’s the person who learns with a passion and who applies it to all aspects of life—more power if you can do that with a high grade-point and living as a human doing, but don’t rule out those for whom passionate learning doesn’t convert to achieving conventional accolades. They matter, too.

That’s why I didn’t set out to raise my children as mini-me’s. Not that that would have been possible as they live in a different time, have different genetics, and came with their own abilities and difficulties. Nonetheless, I didn’t think they needed to be pressured to have the top grades. I wanted them to love to learn.

I believe they have achieved that success—through their own life approaches, through how we’ve lived in this house, and through guidance from a few wise teachers.

There’s often no “loving to learn” medal given at many end-of-school awards’ ceremonies, unless you can do it with a high grade-point or other outstanding contribution, but there should be.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Just as there is no medal for helping kids through an educational system that challenges them to work too often in their areas of weaknesses when they have powerful strengths.

Suffice it to say, Jackson isn’t the only one who felt the sting of last night’s awards ceremony. Even his sister, Christiana, who received the top visual arts award and was rewarded for her grade-point, knows that at a school with so many “above average” students, it’s hard to feel your contribution is ever enough.

I’ve got a secret for you—I bet many of those people at the very top don’t know if it will ever be enough. I promise you that a lot of them don’t even know what compels them to push themselves so hard. Parents, peers, teachers, society, habit—so many factors beyond the student’s own urge to learn.

But without knowledge of why learning for learning’s sake matters, it really isn’t enough.

Until a student learns to explore to fulfill a burning curiosity—regardless of the grade or the tangible societal reward—learning is like the shadows on the wall of Plato’s cave. It is so much less than it could be—in fact, in many ways it isn’t even true learning.

I’d prefer not to pack off another generation to college carrying stomach aches in their backpacks—and I’ve tried to start with my own family.

So don’t forget to congratulate the other kids, too: those who fell in love with a topic and pursued it, who figured out how to work around their difficulties, who didn’t give up when the traditional awards were few, who learned outside the classroom, who applied what they studied in the classroom to their outside world, who were kind, who got scholarships despite not having high grade-points, who have passionate work awaiting them, who are still learning who they are.

As a former conventionally high-achieving student, I can tell you that I finally know what matters. To you I may be an at-home parent whose house is messy more amount of time than it is clean—but I take care of what matters first. I never stop learning, only now I do more than try to find the answers someone else determined were the right ones.

I pray my kids do not let a few slights—major or minor—detract them from being the learners they are meant to be—with or without the rewards. Life is the real education—and despite what many want to tell them, there really are few set answers. Thank goodness there are many versions of the real world.

My kids are far braver than I ever was at their age—they already know what matters and they live that way, regardless of the consequences. I couldn’t be prouder.

To Jackson and Christiana, go forth and continue to learn. That’s how you really prosper.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert


The general rule of the green thumb in Colorado is that it’s OK to plant once Mother’s Day has arrived. I am so glad I didn’t follow that advice—I’ve learned enough to know it’s even better to wait until the third week in May. Still, we really did have off and on bouts of snow on the 11th and 12th of May here in Colorado and the cold rain that fell yesterday wasn’t exactly warm either. Frost you kind of expect, but snow?

However, it wasn’t just the moisture that turned cold. A couple days this week I just froze. Despite having lots of extra tasks for getting ready for a graduation party, I couldn’t get myself to do much, not even much of the usual laundry. Bad time for my disorganized brain to put on the brakes.

The weird thing is that those kinds of days don’t usually happen one after another. The hallmark of ADD is inconsistency, so I’ve come to understand that after a day of great productivity, it’s not so unusual to spend a lot of time spinning with little results.

But this was anxiety, a sense of adrenaline rushing through my system. And I couldn’t push the feeling back for very long, even with my usual techniques: do something minor that’s productive, exercise, change what I’m doing, take time out to do something that feeds my soul, eat some protein, you name it. I couldn’t pray, I couldn’t write, I couldn’t whatever I tried. It seemed like a really good time for deus ex machina. (Don’t worry, dear reader, you do not have to suspend your belief to accept the resolution of the problem because there didn’t appear to be one.)

And today, I’m better. In that typical ADD way, there is no good reason, I think, for feeling better unless deep down I’m just so happy that the BS (sorry again, dear readers, but I’m not sure how else to phrase that) of primary and secondary school is ending. Sort of a good news, bad news thing.

No doubt I have been anxious about this big change in our lives at a time when I have to keep a strong eye on what is happening with my mother. There were new worries, as well as tasks for me, thanks to her emergency room visit on Saturday. The incident reminded me that Mother’s Day just isn’t as happy for me in this season as I watch my mom lose her way. Even if she’s a heck of a lot happier now that she’s moved, she’s still not going to get better.

The anxiety is about not dropping any of the balls—for my mom, for my family members, for myself in these busy days. I want my house to be nice for the party—not just for guests, but for myself. Yet I haven’t been able to make myself do the tasks to get there—I am just getting through each day, trying to do what urgent tasks I need to do and still find time for activities that fill my pond fast enough at a time when the water is seeping out from its boundaries. Just looking for a little stasis in a personal world in flux. (Side note: I am not doing a good job of accessing my brain retention of what I learned in college biology, but a preliminary search on the Internet tells me that stasis in a pond is not necessarily a good thing . . . hm.)

For now, my outlook has thawed again, just as May in Colorado has and I am moving onward, excited that this milestone for my kids is approaching, even if I am still not ready for the celebrations—nor this change in our lives. I’ve left this desk several times, not because I can’t get anything done, but because I am responding to the washer—better day that this is, any day this week will probably not be that good for the Zen of writing, doing laundry, or anything else.

I promise I will continue to make it a priority to search for those moments that ground me, but for now the order of the day is multitasking—with both purpose and expectations of tiny successful activities.

My writing friends mention that I can write as if I am an observer of my own life at the same time I am living it. While that analytical approach to my life has value—it keeps me from the wholesale sweeping under the rug of what blocks me or pains me—but I admit sometimes it misleads me into thinking I can control that which is not mine to control.

That’s why a little deus ex machina isn’t the worst thing to have in your tool kit—sometimes, inexplicably and improbably, things just seem better. If it’s only improved brain chemistry functioning versus a true event that changes the direction of the story, it can be enough.

Here comes the sun.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Flyswatter Clock, (c) 2010, Christiana Lambert

Yes, turn up the smarmy soap opera music because this month has flown, maybe even quicker than others. At the beginning of the month I was trying to recover from another chaotic move of my mother the day before and now it’s already the end of the month. I’d like to blame April’s cruel weather swings for my confusion, but it really has been a full month.

Truth be told, in addition to all the changes associated with the move, it’s almost the end of the world as we know it in our household: our only kids graduate in three weeks. Our calendar has been filled with the usual high school activities, along with senior-only activities and preparations for college.

I thought I could write about all these things, but I’ve only written three times this month and once was about our new grand-niece’s upcoming birth.

I haven’t talked about squeezing in a late-night trip to Durango, Colorado following Jackson’s play practice. Sherman sped over a couple mountain passes, but white-knuckled it watching all those deer and elk who watched us as our car passed through their grazing grounds. Or discussed spending a couple days wandering around Ft. Lewis College for preview weekend, attending information sessions, playing silly games to get to know people, and meeting various administrators and professors who will be part of our kids’ new home environment. Or even mentioned how it might feel to leave our kids six and a half hours away, separated by roads that often close due to big snows.

(c) 2009

Nah, we’ve been too busy speeding along with our lives here.

Jackson went through the chaos of designing two (!) posters for Littleton High School’s Senior Theatre Company production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. Oh there was plenty of drama in the drama department. But the performance we saw was very well-done and Jackson did a fine job, both with eating his lollipop on stage and with his lines.

Large Group Prom 2010

Prom came together last Saturday, with its usual time-consuming preparations (for girls!), picture-taking with parents, kids getting lost driving downtown, late night at After Prom, etc. However, I decided I should also make Jackson a vest and bow-tie as I used to do when he was little, so I added to the preparations. Once we found time to go to the store together, he chose something very similar to what he had over thirteen years ago. I got everything done about 2:00 in the afternoon of the big event—let’s just say that our remodeling projects had not left my sewing area functional. (Plus, I added straps to Christiana’s Dressed to the Nines dress.) Nonetheless, the kids looked great, got where they needed to go, danced the night away, and returned home safely in one piece—and uploaded the pictures to prove it by the next afternoon.

SWAG 2010, Littleton High School

In between all this, a long-time Littleton High School tradition fell: SWAG (Senior Women Are Great.) Yes, the senior girls kidnap the boys, doing their hair, make-up and nails and dressing them in pretty frocks. Did I mention the girls arrive before 4:00 in the morning? Christiana helped a group of theatre girls steal her brother away so he could become a pretty, pink princess. She noted that the theatre girls were about the only crowd who didn’t make their guys look trashy—still I don’t think I need to see my son’s hairy legs below pink taffeta ever again. Thankfully his kidnappers also made him take his books and PE clothes so he didn’t go to school unprepared—except for knowing how to walk in heels.

Unfortunately, track has not been part of the busy picture for Christiana lately, but we’ve been to physical therapy, X-rays, an MRI, and a couple doctor appointments for her knee that isn’t going to heal in time for her final season—or her required PE classes. Sometimes that’s the way the knee rolls, whether you like it or not.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Ultimate Frisbee and upcoming AP exams for Jackson, school and district art show for Christiana, as well as IB art examination. Add performing arts and academic awards ceremonies, last day breakfast (which our children say we’re welcome to attend without them—yeah, right!), etc. and it will be May 21 before we know it.

Yet the graduation announcements and party invitations aren’t even addressed . . .

Ah well, this is the season of busyness that predates the calm. We’ll get through it like other parents before us. Like all those other parents, one day we’ll have more time to ponder how it all happened so fast.

And we won’t have a clue . . .

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