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(c) 2014 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2014 Christiana Lambert

How many of us have attended weddings where we listened to Bible verses read from 1 Corinthians 13? The passage that begins with “Love is patient and kind” introduces one of the most detailed treatises on love in the Bible. The Apostle Paul did not set out to address the love between partners or even friends or family, but instead spoke of agape love—which is divine love of and from God. Still, many of us think of these verses when we think of romantic love and commitment. These words model godly love as an example of how to behave toward all people whom we love, yet we, who are human, most need them to remember how to treat the most constant person in our lives—and thus the frequent reminder at wedding ceremonies.

Why is the person who is most precious to us—and the one who puts up with our failings so often—the one we find so hard to treat with the respect and love he or she deserves?

Everyday life intrudes upon the drug-like euphoria we feel when first falling in love. When we begin to know someone, we can’t imagine acting self-seeking or rude to them. That person is a perfect fit for us. And yet no one really is a perfect fit—it’s more a question of what we can live with or live without and what we must have in order to continue together happily enough.

In other words, if love is a drug, what benefits must a person receive and what side effects are too much? For example, look at stimulant medications used to treat AD/HD—medications that are often abused illegally. Contrary to popular beliefs, when properly prescribed, these medications aren’t supposed to give a high or create a life filled with peaks and valleys. Too much stimulant can leave a person feeling anxious and irritable even if it might give the focus to pull all-nighters. The appropriate dose and type of medication for the AD/HD patient is the one that brings the person into the moment and that provides a sense of calm as well as confidence that the person can find balance in life and manage necessary matters in his or her life, including relationships with others.

Some love seems more like the stimulants abused just to feel the highs—even when the lows are simply caused by a mismatch in the needs of the individuals in a relationship.

When I fell in love that first time, I couldn’t imagine coming down from that high. But when the lows came, I didn’t want to recognize just how much I was trying to force what we had just to get back to the highs. And the more I forced, the less my own love acted like that 1-Corinthians-13 love, even as I tried to let those words be my guide. All I wanted was more time with him, but what he needed was time for sleep, sports, schoolwork, and helping others. Our love was like too much stimulant—incredibly high and energetic until it became irritating and fragile. Despite his desire to live out a 1-Corinthians-13 love, he could not do so with me any more than I could with him—trying harder to follow these tenets would not make it happen. The side effects of our drug of love were too numerous and too damaging to continue together.

On the other hand, when we’re compatible with someone, it’s not as hard to have a 1-Corinthian-13 type of love—assuming we believe in and strive to follow those words. This is what I have found with Sherman, my husband of 26 years. Yes, maintaining a day-to-day love long term still has some challenges, but it is not all-day-and-all-night difficult. With a lasting love, much of it happens easily because we love who they are—with us and away from us. We can be in the moment together and confident that who we are together will be good and will also allow us each to be the individuals we are. For all their eccentricities, we love more of them than we do not. As Sherman likes to say, “You marry the strangest people.” To which I always respond, “You certainly do.”

Though our wedding ceremony did not include reading the 1 Corinthians 13 passage, we see those words as an explanation for how to live out the passages we did choose from John 15 and 1 John 4, including the following:

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:11

If love is at all like a drug, then it’s more like a medication prescribed by God, the healer—don’t settle for one bought from a street dealer. Love is patient and kind—and that also applies to loving ourselves enough to have the patience to wait for a 1-Corinthians-13 love.


Still life by Christiana Lambert, 2010

Still life by Christiana Lambert, 2010

So after my last posts about biology and how it should not affect the ability to get an education, biology is back on my mind. Is biology destiny? And how do you confront biology that might be a bit flawed in one area—can systems and/or willpower change approaches?

Why do I ask? I’ll tell you why—I’ve just moved my daughter again and it’s a lot like moving my mother, even though my mother’s no longer here to demonstrate her lack of organizational abilities for my daughter. Yes she had dementia, but the moving difficulties were really more related to lifelong patterns and approaches. Neither of those two could load a dishwasher in a way that makes any sense to me—nor to even those in the family who are not quite as obsessive about it as I am. My spatial abilities are specialized while theirs might be or have been almost non-existent.

You see, ADD runs through the family, but how that manifests varies in each of us. Besides, I am not certain how far along the scientists are in tying what difficulties to what genes in this area. And though our family participated in one of the first big studies involving ADD and genomes, it wasn’t the sort of study that provided any information to the participants. We have no idea if in some lab somewhere, a scientist looked at all the traits reported and started to make sense of how the information on our DNA connected with our behaviors.

As for my mother, we know little about her biology other than the fact she had a head injury in an early car accident. By the time we were helping her, she was hopeless when it came to packing, either because of the biology, accident, and/or lifelong patterns.

I pray there is still help and hope for our daughter—and, consequently, us. If nothing else, she hasn’t had any head injuries and she’s young enough that she still can learn and still search out tools to help her.

The girl loves her stuff! And as an art major, she has a lot of supplies, too, that she actually needed at one time or still needs. Bins, stacking organizers, shelves, dividers, etc.—I keep trying to find something that will help her keep it all semi-together. Would it be too much to ask her to search out solutions herself, even if they might not be successful? Ask my family—while I have found some really good solutions for myself, there are many more I have tried that just did not work for me. When your mind isn’t wired to realize that there should be a place for everything—or that such a concept even exists—you have to concede you need help and search for whatever tools that work for you—and keep searching when you haven’t found a reasonable solution yet.

The Battle of Too Much Stuff is a constant in this household—and it would be so much better if I could rally more troops to fight against all that stuff instead of having troops who add more stuff to my stuff. I am dealing with my own biology on this—I don’t need other peoples’ stuff and biology to exacerbate my own disabilities. Really.

Love my daughter and loved my mother, but their stuff? Not so much.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

Almost a decade ago our newly-relocated washer connections started spewing water all over the basement floor—sounds I heard from upstairs. After running down the stairs, I spied my then-twelve-year-old son staring intently at the game on his computer screen. Our conversation went something like this:

“Jackson, do you hear the water?”

“What water?”

“Can you grab me some towels immediately?”

“What towels?”

“The ones in the linen closet.”

“What linen closet?”

I finally got him to follow me to the linen closet (the one in the close-by hallway space between his and his sister’s bedrooms) and very soon we were sopping up the mess on the floor together with the aforementioned towels.

We live in a 1940s house where storage space is at a premium. Our house didn’t come with amenities such as coat closets or linen closets—where we can, we have added storage places. Sometimes, however, we can’t really change a space so we add organizers. The only linen closet is still in the basement—even the bath towels for the upstairs bathroom remain there because there is no room for them anywhere else.

And while keeping bath towels so far away isn’t so inconvenient, I found it too hard to switch out the smaller hand towels and washcloths as often as needed without keeping them upstairs where they were used. For years I kept the built-in bathroom cabinet overflowing with all the towels and products that could not fit on the small counter. Almost every time I opened the cupboard, towels and all sorts of items would burst out since the organizing containers inside could only contain so much stuff.

When you’re as naturally disorganized as I am, you have to devise organizing systems that give you some chance of success. I’m definitely one of those “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” people so there were many good reasons for moving some of that stuff out into the open—which I finally got to do about six months ago when my daughter moved from one living space to another and no longer had such a tiny bathroom space herself.

That’s when I claimed her over-the-commode (doesn’t that sound fancy?) organizer and went searching for containers that could remain in the open, but still keep me organized. No more toilet paper, bath linens, bottles, and makeup either spilling out of the cabinet or remaining on the countertop—well, on many days, anyway.

Last night I removed one dirty hand towel and ran to put it in the washer before setting out the clean towels. In the meanwhile my husband grabbed some other towel (really, more a rag than anything I would use in the bathroom) to use instead. Now this part of the story is just a matter of two different people seeing matters in a different way, but what follows is similar to the story of my son and the linen closet.

Me: “Oh, the spare hand towel is in the basket in the bathroom.”

Husband: “What basket?”

So today I sent him a picture of the basket—now full since I’d put away the clean towels.

“Where is that?”

“In our bathroom.”

“I thought it was somewhere else. I’ve never seen that.”

“We got it in August after we moved the girls. It’s on the shelf next to the Kleenex container.”

“What Kleenex container?”

Then I sent him a picture of the whole arrangement and he still professed amazement and shock.

This goes on for quite awhile until he then says, “You do know I am pulling your leg, don’t you?”

What he does and does not know about this arrangement apparently will remain a mystery to me, but I’m pretty sure he really did not notice the original basket. And maybe it never occurred to him that things weren’t falling out of the cabinet at the same rate as they have since, well, forever in this house-of-little-storage.

You may be asking yourself, what’s the point of this post? There are few.

First of all, don’t assume someone else “sees”—or “hears” in the case of my son—what you do. Sometimes it doesn’t matter and sometimes it does, but awareness that you don’t always know how something appears from another’s shoes is big. Next, what I might be good at doing and what you might be good at doing are not always the same. Also, you may not even care about something that matters to me and vice versa. Finally, those of us who enjoy applying process improvements in order to make some aspects of life easier aren’t always going to receive the respect and appreciation we expect.

What I think of as having my ducks in a row might lead to no more than being asked, “What ducks?” Here I go—just me and my towel stories—trying to demonstrate that one man’s or woman’s simple is often another’s, “Huh?”

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

There are no guarantees when raising children, no matter how hard you try to do the “right” things for them—for some families, getting those children to adulthood leaves behind plenty of scar tissue for all involved. For the most part you try to move forward despite the scars. Then something is said or happens that is like a spark to the tinder that is your buried emotions—anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment, and whatever else connects you to the pain.

From personal experience, I understand my children are not easy to help, so I do have some empathy for those educators and mental health professionals who worked with them. However, I’d have appreciated receiving empathy back from more of them. It’s hard enough to deal with challenging situations with your kids without encountering people whose presumptions get in the way of resolution—when the people in the helping professions turn the problems back at parents based on what they assume is true, we parents feel very alone and begin to lose trust in finding answers from professionals.

For example, just because one of the big problems facing educators today is uninvolved families or families who do not support those in authority does not mean that every student having difficulty fitting into a school system has that problem.

Two of the closest friends I met through PTA and school accountability committees also raised boys every bit as beat up by their school days as my boy is. Again those families had two parents in the home, regular family dinner times, attendance at church, expectations that they would respect authority, and parents who volunteered with the schools and participated in the community activities. In our own ways, we were the Ward and June Cleavers of our generation. We were the families whose kids should have fit like gloves into the schools, but did not. And when our families turned to the schools for help, we were rebuffed. Of course, we also looked to outside help—paying for counselors and tutors—but first received few answers from the schools and little empathy. Each (now) young man and his family continue their educational struggles to this day.

Our son’s troubles began in grade school while our family was dealing with his grandfather’s terminal cancer. Those troubles never went away, but we did keep searching for solutions. High school found him older, but us not much wiser about dealing with his difficulties or how to work in partnership with the school.

Despite having read the 27-page educational analysis report our son had received after costly consultation with a trusted local university, the special education director at our son’s high school asked him questions such as, “Do you want to be here? Don’t you think you should do your work?” Nothing the report said or that his experienced tutors said in 504 accommodation meetings ever changed the school’s willingness to follow the university’s suggestions.

And for us, “Do you check the school’s online system often to see if he’s turned in his work?” Of course, she knew the answer—the system recorded logins. We had stopped checking frequently because the data was updated too infrequently for us to base consequence decisions on what we saw. Besides, why did she think we spent money out of our pocket to have his abilities/difficulties assessed? Partly because we wanted to see if some knowledge could help him to keep up with his work better.

Meanwhile, while our family life had become more and more disruptive due to the homework battles waged with our son as we tried to be responsible parents who supported the school, our daughter was falling apart. She did her work—and worried about her twin brother. She tried just as hard not to cause any more trouble in our family. Add in one grandmother on her way to becoming lost to Alzheimer’s and our girl became one sad kid. Did the family conflict and her grandmother’s illness cause her depression or did her biology exacerbate the problems?

What I do know is that when she was finally hospitalized for those problems it was hard to find mental health professionals who really attempted to recognize the role of biology within her difficulties. So much focus from them fell on the family. My kid didn’t do chemicals or sneak out of the house, but was treated as if her depression were a form of rebellion and we were treated as if we were just too stupid to see that she was lying to us—just as all the other kids did. We tried so hard to complete the prescribed family counseling (20 weeks or so) but finally stopped when we realized it was making things worse for everyone. I could have understood if they taught us and her to work with her biology but the program acted as if biology had little to do with her problems.

What did I learn from these experiences with schools and mental health treatment? First of all, that too many professionals believe that a one-size-fits-all approach works for all. And, secondly, that if it doesn’t then the problems stem from the family.

So, we muddle on on our own. Thankfully, we have met helpful educators, disability coordinators, tutors, student services advisors, and counselors along the way—I thank them with all my heart.

But to those who questioned our devotion, just know that if we could have made our kids fit better into the world just by trying, it would have happened. Please stop blaming the families who seem to have been dealt more challenging cards than others—so many of us are trying so much harder than you’ll ever know. Somehow the systems also need to try harder to figure out how to help those who don’t fit the molds.

(c) 2012 Sherman Lambert

So the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right?

Yet sometimes it seems so wrong when the apple falls from the tree in a way that is so hard—that is even harsher than the way I fell from the tree.

Ironic that I am a writer when the thing that seems most likely to stand between my son and succeeding in education is his writing.

Oh, not his knowledge of conventions or formatting—all that can be taught or guided somewhat in a writers’ workshop. No, his writing problems are more about forcing big concepts into what he considers inadequate forms of expression.

I only worked briefly in my college’s writers’ workshop before my bout with mono brought my neophyte tutoring days to an end. For a few weeks I worked with a student from Puerto Rico. The workshop director matched me with him because, in addition to my studying English literature, I was also majoring in Spanish. In my few sessions with the student, I quickly realized his difficulties had little to do with his knowledge of English and its foibles.

You see, he was a highly analytical thinker who excelled in statistics and mathematics. The bigger problem for him was his thinking style. Here was a black and white mind faced with writing the gray in his philosophy papers. I am guessing he had the ability to write papers for his areas of study with little difficulty. To this day, I wonder if his liberal arts experience taught him how to become more flexible across the disciplines or if he instead had to find a different school that did not require him to open his mind quite so much. How frustrating for such an intelligent person to be doing remedial work because of how far his brain leaned in one direction.

My son at least can see the gray—oh how much gray he can see—but the black and white parts of his mind do not seem to allow that gray to fit into the parameters spelled out in syllabus descriptions.

And so it’s been for him since elementary school. How many hours has he spent amassing knowledge and thinking about his topics only to find he can’t make what he knows into a writing piece that is good enough to say what he means? Keep in mind that “good enough” is a standard of his own invention, not something found in the rubric provided first by teachers and later by professors. How many of them would be surprised to know just how much he cared about those papers he did not turn in—those for which he preferred to receive zero points versus discover that he had submitted what he considered to be a sub-standard product?

Students with ADD or AD/HD have many possible reasons for why their academic success may not match their intelligence level. However, for my son, this inability to call a paper or a lab report or an assignment good enough for him to consider it completed is the biggest challenge he faces for getting ahead in his education—whether in 4th grade, middle school, high school, or during his current college philosophy course.

Unlike the student I tutored, he can consider possibilities—too many, in fact. He approaches even short papers as if he were preparing for a dissertation—without the benefit of years studying the dissertation topic. In his mind he does not have enough knowledge to make the definitive statements necessary to produce what he considers the Truth.

It breaks my heart to watch such a gifted mind stall out so often in writing a paper—something that is necessary to complete his formal education. At the same time, I know he also watches other less brilliant thinkers move through their college courses quicker not only because they can follow the directions on a syllabus but also because they can either tune out the infinite shades of gray or because they don’t even see them in the first place.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Not so funny how his difficulties remind me of my own. Though I could follow a syllabus in school, I still have a hard time completing longer projects when I am in charge of all the details—so many options, so many possibilities, and yet so little completed production for all my ideas. But at least I can blend enough of that gray so that piece by piece I come up with something that shows up in black and white . . . letters, anyway.

Oh, to find some way to feed this tree and that apple so that we grow out of our limited focus on black, white, and grays in order to expose the Technicolor shades that truly reflect the brilliance of our minds.

(c) 2012 Trina Lambert

After a month of moving either our daughter’s things to college or (seemingly) everything in our home, last night we got to end the month on a high note—or more likely several high notes: Sherman and I went to go see both B.B. King and his band as well as the Tedeschi Trucks Band perform at Red Rocks Amphitheatre thanks to Jackson’s generosity for Father’s Day and my birthday.

Really, I was too tired to go to a concert, but we’ve been waiting a long time for last night’s performances. And, at soon-to-turn-87-years-old, B. B. isn’t getting any younger! (I know, I know—neither am I.)

After a hot, dry day and an even hotter, dryer long summer, the Red Rocks’ weather kicked up quite a wind and cooled things down. It even rained a little in my own yard first—why does our planning to go to a concert there change the weather in a summer with seemingly unchangeable weather? (Last month we went to hear the Lumineers and Cake—and I got soaked and frozen—good thing the weather improved as the night went on, as it did last night.)

I love the interaction at live performances and even the lack of polish you hear sometimes—if I wanted perfectly engineered music, I’d just stay home and listen to the edited music.

But what I don’t love is how many people really don’t pay attention at concerts. OK, now I’m going to expose the “country” person in me when I say this, but these people seem to have too much money and too little sense.

The problem isn’t new, of course. I remember going to a Jimmy Buffett concert in the late 80s and standing behind a large group of couples who talked to one another and often turned away from the stage throughout the whole concert. It was almost enough to endear me to the loud, off-key singing from all the nearby Parrotheads.

Look, I have ADD—I sometimes disrupt other people’s experiences by commenting at the wrong time or being too loud. But I get the impression that a lot of these people talking through the concerts or walking back and forth across the aisles don’t even realize they should act differently. I don’t expect white gloves and party manners—stand up, dance to the music, whistle, etc.—but could you try to be a little bit more engaged in what’s going on down on the stage or at least move to the sides?

Now I am going to sound like that stereotypical old person—I think with fewer and fewer boundaries in society and more distractions, more people don’t know how to, first of all, behave in group situations so others can have a reasonable experience, and, secondly, try to focus on the experience itself. For every person talking loudly through the songs, there was a person who was scanning emails and news and whatever else on his/her cell phone.

When I think about the difference between the environment in which my mom’s (just guessing here about the diagnosis) ADD was molded and the one in which mine was molded and the one now, I wonder if anyone now who has the propensity for ADD is going to have a chance at mitigating the more negative sides of ADD without experiencing a few more boundaries. And beyond that, if you don’t value something, such as minimizing your disruptiveness, then you’re probably not going to attempt to do things differently.

Seriously, I felt like one of the least ADD people around last night, but I had plenty of work to do on one of my own less-than-stellar ADD traits: hyper-focusing on noise and other nearby distractions while missing the big picture.

I didn’t really miss it—the music was great. I’m glad I got to see a legend and his band, as well as the stellar musicians in the following group.

But, seriously, people, going to a concert isn’t about you—it’s about all of us—together. Just because all the world’s a stage doesn’t mean your performance should supersede the ones listed on the ticket.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

About a decade ago my local library sponsored a different kind of a book club: one where people talked about the different books they had read recently. After one woman described how much and why she hated one particular book, I knew I had to read it! (Yes, I was that kid who would get up to eat just one Lay’s Potato Chip just to prove that somebody could eat just one Lay’s Potato Chip. And, by the way, I really loved Peace Like a River by Leif Enger, just as expected.)

My husband Sherman and I read books aloud to each other at night—it’s a great way to spend time together—and have someone else keep you from staying up reading all night. Usually we take turns being the Sensible One in the matter. Thanks to reading together this way, we really do have our own little book club, although quite frankly, with the craziness of our own lives, we have been more attracted to formulaic mystery book series than ever before. These days we often don’t want to care about the person who is the Body in those stories that much, if you know what I mean.

You’re probably asking why I’m writing certain phrases in caps. I’m going to blame the most recent book we read—the one we just can’t stop discussing: Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. Turns out there are a lot of people out there on the Internet who can’t wait to tell you why they hate this book, which probably explains just why we couldn’t put it down, even now that we’ve finished it.

Now, maybe one of the things we like about the book is that the narrator seems to think in that oh-so-very-wordy way people who have ADD do. Let’s just say maybe we speak that language, if you know what I mean. Or, maybe, as Sherman suggested, it’s a lot easier to read that kind of language out loud versus silently. True, Sherman has a lot more trouble reading the long sentences than I do. I may be not only experienced but also gifted in Speaking ADD. That’s not bragging, is it? (I think I just admitted that the only reason I can follow this language pattern is because it is so familiar to me.)

The book runs over 500 pages so you know we didn’t get through it quickly, even if we were a wee bit obsessed with reading it. Lucky for us, after we’d been reading it for a couple weeks, we went on a close to 950 mile-round-trip road trip by ourselves. But reading it took longer than planned because we kept stopping and discussing the “what ifs” of the plot. We did not finish the story by the time we arrived home, but, since Sherman had taken off the day after we returned, we finished the book the next morning.

Now, of course, we both want to reread various sections and keep discussing possibilities.

Apparently the possibilities are one of the reasons many people hate this book—which is funny since at one point in the book one of the characters talks about how Americans despise ambiguity in their literature, preferring instead to tie up stories into neat little endings. Maybe it’s the English major in me and the computer science major who studied a lot of Philosophy in Sherman, but we don’t expect to know all the answers at the end of a story. In fact, maybe we like the chance to dig into the possibilities—trust me, I always preferred essay tests over multiple choice and/or True/False tests.

The final chapter really is a Final Exam, tying up the theme that began in the form of a syllabus with required reading. Some readers suggest the author is pretentious for sliding in erudite references throughout the story. They expected something different from a story with a narrator who is a gifted student attending Harvard and who was raised a little too closely by her professor father?

Hey, I enjoy many stories written for the masses, but when someone can throw literary references into tales with compelling plots, I am especially hooked. Believe it or not, but many of us continue to apply the lessons from college days to our everyday lives—heresy in these times when so many are suggesting students should only study practical degree programs such as engineering, science, and business—as if the liberal arts do not apply in any way to lifelong learning, especially in the work place.

And, if those critics read closely, they’ll see that though the narrator read constantly, her canon ranged from high brow tomes to books with numbers on them that she could find in any grocery store.

What she learned was that in so many ways Life is literature and vice versa.

Anyway, I remain intrigued by the book and am not quite ready to stop thinking about the imaginary people and happenings created within it—and the clues as to Who Really Done It and why.

(c) 2011 Trina Lambert

Spent yesterday mostly away from the computer—does yard work count as an Artist’s Date a la Julia Cameron? Well, I suppose for some it counts as a joyful activity, too, but for me, the benefit in turning to a physical and/or “domestic” task is that non-mental activities often help me jumpstart my creative thinking again, plus the task accomplished often removes a mental obstacle. As for yard work, I like choosing my flowers and arranging them a whole lot more than I like working in the dirt.

However, I can’t really enjoy the more creative aspects of planting if all I see is chaos in the rest of our not-so-great outdoors. So first I was just going to mow the lawn, right? Well, as with many ADDers, momentum is my great friend. Mowing led me to see certain weeds in the grass that just had to go. And, then I needed to mow over by our trellis of “killer” climbing roses. Seriously, when the roses have not been pruned, walking in that area of the lawn reminds me of poor Snow White’s run through the forest. Just ask my husband—we both know what it’s like to have branches grabbing at us!

Can you say obsessed? First it seemed silly to work in the yard and then shower for Pilates—I was going to sweat there, too. Already dirty and sweaty, why not do more once I returned home? When you’re like me, if you’ve got a bee in your bonnet, you better just keep wearing that bonnet and let the bee sting you again! Sting while the stinging’s good. (Thank goodness my young neighbor has informed me that not all bees die after one sting—that makes this metaphor corny but possible.)

Weeding and pruning. Don’t know about you, but I am long overdue for those activities, especially since last year kept me from most yard work—and from moving forward in my own life.

Yesterday in Pilates, my instructor wanted us to do an activity—for the third week in a row because it’s her new personal favorite—that I don’t think is good for me or any of us with lower back problems—which is most of the class.

Well, I modified my form so much that the activity really didn’t seem that worthwhile—and others did the same. I don’t know about them, but I spent a couple thousand dollars (yeah, read that and weep), put in a lot of extra exercise, had to stop moving way too much, and had to prune too many activities out of my life to have anyone else’s personal favorite activity prune any more from me.

Still, with the energy I didn’t use for that particular move, I came home and attacked weeds and any dead branches. Last year’s forced inertia left the lawn overrun by the detritus of nature and the house with other people’s possessions, so unless I throw myself into pruning and weeding, I will continue to be stuck where I am.

Some things will never again grow in my garden and must be cut away—without mercy—to make space for new growth. And, whatever else is toxic cannot remain to choke out that growth.

My body aches today while scratches criss-cross my body from those thorns reaching to hold me back, but I couldn’t stop myself. I wasn’t going to leave any more dead wood on my trellis even as I recognized the utter hubris of plunging into the thorns time after time. Truth is, I don’t mind a little pain if it moves me forward instead of backwards.

To everything there is a season . . . and this is a whole new season for me, baby.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Maybe I’ve always had mixed feelings about nighttime—or maybe those feelings didn’t begin until after my brother Scott and I saw a man in our bedroom when we were two and four.

As far as I know, that’s as scary as this story gets, but I don’t think that memory is ever very far from my consciousness. There’s not much to tell, really, except we both agree that it happened. One night, in the brief period when we lived in a rental house before moving to our own home, my brother stage-whispered to me from his twin bed, “Trina, there’s a man in the room. Hide under the covers.”

I hid and eventually fell back asleep. The next morning we both told the story to our mother, who doubted it until she discovered the cellar door unlocked. Though we had just moved to a town of no bigger than 600, apparently a man who was losing his battle with mental illness had a habit of entering peoples’ homes in the middle of the night. One resident woke to see a lit cigarette glowing in the kitchen and discovered the man relaxing at the table.

My brother Scott and I in 1964.

Put my early experience together with a vivid imagination and my quicksilver ADD mind, and you can guess that I didn’t really grow up falling asleep too well. My increasing levels of nearsightedness probably didn’t help either. Even though I lived in two more homes before I left for college and then again to strike out on my own for good, my insomnia never abated in my family’s homes.

Luckily, the worst of my insomnia ended with that final move. No idea why—I’ve lived in six places since—all different as far as I can tell.

Which is not to say I’ve made complete peace with the night.

First of all, let me say that I love staying up at night—it’s not just about avoiding falling asleep. I am the queen of getting a second wind around bedtime. However, I don’t really like mornings and I do “get” that if I stay up late all the time, then those mornings will feel even more unpleasant than they normally do.

Second of all, I know that sleeping with my husband makes a big difference. I’m lucky that I haven’t had to sleep alone much in past couple decades. Plus, he got me Lasik surgery which means I can see if any bad guys are in the house—haven’t seen any, thank you very much! Still, he’ll tell you that everyone in my family of origin—including my father, mother, and yes, my brother Scott, as well as our own two children—has or had some problems with sleep.

He likes to say something such as, “What do you people have against going to sleep? I like going to sleep—why don’t you?”

Good question. You see, I like sleep a lot—I just don’t like going to sleep.

After you go through all that sleeplessness when your kids are young—and then again when they’re teenagers and young adults—you really learn to like that sleep. Not waiting for someone to come home and/or living with someone on a vastly different time clock was one of the greatest benefits of our short empty nest period. Doesn’t it seem so ironic, though, that the time when my body slept best happened when I couldn’t sleep much because of my kids?

Let’s just say that lately we’ve been working on improving our sleep setting and our habits since these days it doesn’t seem to take much of a distraction to interrupt our sleep. First we had to deal with old dogs that had to go out in the middle of the night and who played musical dog beds all night—without the music, of course. Then we had to deal with a puppy—at the same time my back began hurting. Well, the puppy got older but then Sherman’s back started hurting, too.

(c) 2012 Trina Lambert

So our latest step in the quest for a good night’s sleep was saying goodbye to our waterbed (with much regret!) and hello to a new mattress, box springs, and bed-frame. The almost eight-week transitional process started when we put the mattress in the waterbed frame (can’t we ever pick anything not on back order??!!), then continued when we set up the new frame and added the box springs, and ended when I also got fitted sheets (never needed those before) and a new comforter.

Even if I’ll never quite forget my early experience, we are finally enjoying sweeter dreams.

Crescent moon on high.
Handful of stars in the sky.
Night—sweet guard of dreams.

by Trina (Lange) Lambert, Age 10

(c) 1992 Sherman Lambert

What woman thinks she’s going to face infertility, at least if she’s relatively young and healthy? I thought you planned for the right timing and then everything else fell in place. And so it seemed at the beginning of our quest to become parents. After the second month we tried, we believed we were on the road to parenthood. However, that pregnancy slipped away from us within a couple weeks of receiving the initial news.

Well, I still thought pursuing the right timing was important for causing the least amount of disruption in my workplace. That’s when I started charting my cycles and noticing that some patterns didn’t seem right. While driving to work, I’d hear Bonnie Raitt singing “Baby Mine” on the radio, but I’d begun to wonder if there would be a baby mine.

Just under a year after the first time—with some additional help from the doctors—we’d merged back onto the road to parenthood. However, I’d stopped worrying about disrupting work—I was starting to understand that babies are disruptive—no matter what! But, we still experienced problems—which led to our discovering early on that I was carrying twins. I prayed at least one baby mine would make it. Through medical interventions, my focused behaviors, and the grace of God, those babies mine did arrive, just a little early but so healthy we only got to stay in the hospital one day.

Turns out that amateur who read my palm before I ever met my kids’ father had been right about a couple things: I did have twins and each was strong-willed, even if they weren’t both boys.

When your only two kids are twins, each developmental phase is new to you no matter what. If you are also blessed with strong-willed kids who also have ADD, you soon learn that helping to guide their individual development can be exhausting even as you love them. Add in advocating to schools and medical professionals and somehow life becomes so much more complicated than you ever expected.

Now those babies mine are legally adults in many ways—I can’t access their educational or medical records on my own—but they are learning about many of the difficulties associated with life after high school. The world doesn’t really care that kids with ADD are supposed to take longer to figure out how to manage many everyday daily tasks. In fact, the world doesn’t really care that science is showing that even the brains of people without ADD don’t really finish developing until they reach their mid-20s.

My son doesn’t know what exactly he wants, but he seems to be floating on, finding happy moments in each day. For him I worry that he doesn’t worry enough about figuring out how to find a place in this world. If college isn’t his thing now, what is?

And, my daughter—well, I mourn the happy-go-lucky child who brought sunshine into my life. I glimpse her and then she slides back into her worries and sadness. I’ve searched for solutions for her, but in the end that quest isn’t mine.

So we’ve reached the point when I can guide them to resources, but can’t make them access them. What a hard place along the parenting journey . . .

(c) 2010 Sherman Lambert

I’ve run my part of the course of both their developments—the steps aren’t mine to take anymore. I just have to trust in the process and know that I can’t really control the timing for when these babies of mine find their own separate ways in this world anymore than I could plan when they arrived in this world.

Though I don’t know the grand plans for them, Someone else does.

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