You Can’t Always Get What you Want

We just came back from a culturally invigorating trip to New York City.  I am so glad that I taught my kids to appreciate the arts by taking them to plays and museums as young kids. It is a very cool experience to hear from your teenagers about what they know about artists and their work, the chemical formation of gems and minerals (I must have slept through that in chemistry) and discuss symbolism in theatrical productions. 

 I saw that Pippin was playing and jumped at the chance to buy tickets to a matinee.  I had done this show in high school, and really wanted the kids to see it.  It  is  a phenomenal new production with the same amazing music, but with incredible acrobatics and a new ending.   It’s a bit racy for young kids but mine could handle it.  What I didn’t know is that the theme of the show couldn’t have been more appropriate for the evening ahead of us.  

After the show, we rested in the hotel for a couple hours because we had tickets to the NBC Studios tour where we would see the SNL set and some other tv show sets.  I looked over to Aaron to tell him that it was time to go, and he was visibly upset.  “You didn’t get into Duke, did you?”  “No.”   I think I then said an expletive and jumped on the bed with him.  Lauren started crying, and she and I just enveloped Aaron in our arms.  We let him get everything out that he was feeling: all of the emotions that go with the injustices of being a kid who has worked so hard even during tumultuous times and rarely asks for anything.  Hmmm.  I had a choice.  I could have very quickly and easily become Mama Bear and defended my son.  I could have told him that this all was not fair, that he deserved to get in and that Duke was the worst university on the planet. I knew that wasn’t true.  I decided to take the advice that I often give out to parents in conferences to “look at the big picture.”   I gave him permission to be sad for two days only and then it was time to pick himself up and get on the new path.  This is what his Dad and I did each time we got bad news about the cancer.  We would curse the universe for our misfortune and scream our lamentations to God who didn’t seem to be listening to our prayers.   Aaron had an amazing offer from the University of Virginia and many kids would love to have the opportunity to go there.   Transferring to Duke would not be an option because he would never allow  himself to make connections at UVA and immerse himself in the amazing college experience.  I am a big believer in intention and if your intention is to find light and joy, then that is exactly what you will encounter in your life.   I told him that I am not a huge believer in fate, but that we were going to give it a chance in our lives.  This could be exactly where he needs to be:  close to his Virginia roots at one of the most prestigious universities in the country.  As far as money, I told him that it would all come together.  He would have to do a work study and take out a small loan, but I would figure out the rest.  He started to come around a bit after the NBC tour and at dinner we talked about the theme of Pippin which I didn’t fully appreciate as a 16  year old, but I definitely do now.  

Pippin searched endlessly for something that “had to be completely fulfilling.”   He tried being a soldier, a king, a priest, an artist, and frolicking with beautiful women.  He was taken in the home of a widowed woman and her son and for the first time, felt love and contentment. But in a moment of feeling trapped, he fled, still searching for something more to life.  It turns out, there wasn’t anything fulfilling.  Living a life of simple joy and love was everything that Pippin needed.  I told both kids that their own father was constantly pushing himself in his career, often lamenting when the music industry didn’t “get it” and pursuing the ultimate moment of fulfillment in his music career.  It never happened, and it wasn’t until the last two months of his life that he said, “I have had everything I’ve ever needed even though I didn’t get what I wanted.”   I smiled, kissed him, and told him I knew it all along but he had to figure it out for himself.  I am eternally grateful  that he recognized it before he passed away.

 

Am I disappointed for my kid?  You bet I am.  I waited to have an ugly cry early the next morning in the hotel shower.  But, more importantly, I’m grateful that I resisted the urge to blame or denounce but instead pulled myself back to point out the beautiful lessons of rejection.  It won’t be the first time that Aaron is rejected in life, but I’m here  to give him the tools to deal with it down the road.  I’m here for him just like I was when he would fall on the sidewalk and scrape his knee or when his ice cream cone would take a nosedive into the sand.  He will probably search for gratification in worldly things  just like the rest of us have done, and he may even get everything he wants in life.  Who knows? Some people do.  What I really pray for is that he gets everything he needs.Image

 

Give up what you know…

The yoga I do is Baptiste yoga, a heated, power flow.  It’s very physical, but it can be done by anyone and perfected by no one.  One of my favorite things that Baron Baptiste talks about in his books is to give up what you think you know.  The older and wiser I get, the less I really know and the more questions I have. Today, I had a couple reminders that I really need to rid myself of preconceived notions.  I’ll share one and keep the other between my Epic yoga teacher friends. 

 A very southern tradition is cotillion.   I really thought I grew up in the south but have learned since I moved to Tennessee that Virginia isn’t that southern.  Virginians don’t say “fixin’ to,” eat boiled peanuts or fried okra, and I don’t recall ever hearing of a cotillion.   When Lauren first joined the Brentwood Girls Cotillion, I have to admit that I wasn’t terribly excited.  I knew they called the club a “sorority,” I had heard rumors of parties with drinking, and it just seemed a bit snooty to me.  But it was clearly so important to Lauren that I paid the dues.  Heck, even I fell for the Jordache jeans and Candies heels (which looked like hooker shoes)back in the late 70’s/early 80’s  so I understood the need to go along with the crowd.   The club has had some meetings,  a dinner, and a few charitable fundraisers.  But it was time for the last event of the year: the presentation.  My inner Gloria Steinem was totally against a daughter of mine being “presented” to society in a virginal white dress, finally eligible for marrying and birthing babies. Ugh. I have  learned that sometimes the best thing to say is nothing, but I will admit that I’ve done my share of eye rolling over this whole thing.  I helped pay for some of the dress, and even helped with the jewelry and gave her tips on makeup which she actually followed!  I know.  I’m shocked, too.  I  rushed home from yoga training today to jump in the shower, throw on a hat to cover my yoga hair and get to the event to show my support, not necessarily to the idea of this, but to my Lauren.  Turns out…it was fine.  No big deal.  I was wrong.   She looked beautiful and laughed with her friends as I looked on with pride.   This has been another lesson for me on this journey.   Give up what you think your life was supposed to be. It is what it is.   If you have been hurt in love, give up the notion that you are not made for love.   If you have preconceived notions of what love is supposed to look like or when it is supposed to show up in your life, give that up.  I recall my late husband telling me when we were juniors in college that I was exactly the right girl at the wrong time.  I said that was fine with me, and he quickly figured it all out.  Give up what you think you know about parenting because as most parents know, just when you think you have it figured out,  something new pops up and you are left to improvise.  Give up what you think you know about being afraid of being alone because as I found out today with my friends, I am really never alone.  

Today has been another step forward in the story of how Sarah is getting her groove back, slowly but surely.  Who knows? Someday, I may even borrow that silk, ivory cotillion dress  from Lauren, wear it on a beach, barefoot, happy and in love again.  Better yet. Maybe I will wear a bikini and a toe ring  and throw out everything I know.  

 

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Deja-future

I’m having one of those evenings that instead of a deja vu, it’s a glimpse of my future.   A few weeks ago, I had jumped on an opportunity from a friend to see Jack Hanna, the famous zookeeper who often does the talk show circuit, freaking out David Letterman with snakes, tigers and obnoxious monkeys.  He was doing a private show downtown for a group of benefactors of a charitable organization.  The kids had a busy weekend, and I was a bit worried that they were going to be too overwhelmed with homework, but they weren’t.   Instead, last evening their friend convinced them to go out to eat tonight and then to downtown Nashville for a hockey game. Brentwood High School is playing another local rival for the state championship.  I encouraged them to go and even threw in some money for their dinner out and tickets.  I came in from yoga and they were leaving.   We exchanged goodbyes, I reminded Aaron to be a safe driver, to have fun and they were off.  They hadn’t really remembered about the Jack Hanna date night with Mom and that’s fine.  But, some things came up for me after an intense yoga practice today.  My instructor reminded us of how we go through our yoga practice always anticipating what the next move is going to be.  He challenged us to give that up both in our yoga practice and to stop living in autopilot, constantly anticipating what lies ahead.   I reflected on this on the drive home. I think my autopilot life started with getting pregnant.  At the school where I taught at the time, four  teachers, all good friends became pregnant with our first around the same time.  All of us read What to Expect when You’re Expecting, the sacred book of pregnancy and delivery, where you learn every detail of your pregnancy, including comparisons of  your baby’s size each month  with some sort of fruit (“Wow! Your baby is the size of a blueberry this month” Yuck!) When Aaron and Lauren were babies and toddlers, I would be in constant preparation for the next meal and for the next nap.  I would question everything, wondering when they would reach the next milestone.   What was wrong with Aaron that he didn’t have any teeth yet when Sean was two weeks older than him and he had three?   Why wasn’t  Lauren walking yet when some of my friends’ kids were running?   We went through the motions of each year of school, planning for Christmas vacation months ahead of time, spring breaks and summer camps.  Things have changed, but we are still going through the motions. Now, it’s all about planning for summer jobs,  college, and  preparing for the dreaded junior year of high school.  I have learned that the best life for me is one without regrets so I won’t begrudge my past decisions to plan ahead.  I think there is probably some truth that my kids are well adjusted and do well in school because they plan and budget their time.  I know that I can’t stop meal planning because as I’m writing this there is a chicken roasting in the oven for tomorrow night’s dinner because I have a meeting after school.  I really want to live a more present life, a “go with the flow” mindset, but the truth is that my Jack Hanna-less night has given me a glimpse of a very quiet house, something I really didn’t plan on. 

Real love

I wish it weren’t so, but my teenage daughter is hooked on the tv show “The Bachelor.”  Call it middle age experience or possibly cynicism, but every week when she catches up on the latest episode on Saturdays, I troll about the kitchen muttering all sorts of things to myself.  She usually has to pause the dvr and say, “Ok.  Mom.  Stop already. I get that you don’t like this show.”  I refuse to apologize.  I fear that this generation is not going to know what real love is all about.  This show is anything but ‘reality tv.’  First, I feel it takes women back to the years where our only option in life was to marry well.  I watch these women preparing themselves for their presentation to the guy, gathering in a big room in slinky dresses to sip champagne, giving nasty glances to the competition and bashing the other girls any chance they can get.  Charles Darwin would have a field day.  My other problem is how easily they throw out the three little words.  Raquel (all names have been changed to protect the innocent, but actually I have no idea what their names are) today said, “I am finally going to tell Chaz that I love him.”  And then Chaz proclaims how he feels that he really is falling in love with two of the women.  What?  Please!  These people have no idea what real love looks like. I would like to see a Bachelor episode with a little relationship reality.  How about having the guy pass gas in front of her after a couple of chilli burritoes?  That always takes the relationship to a new level.  How about he finally comes home after two weeks of recording and leaving the bachelorette to take care of the kids (ok for the show they could put her in charge of 2 baby goats,  but they have to be in the house) and then he decides that he needs to get away from it all with the guys in the band for a little ski-trip-male-bonding. Yes.  That happened to me once.   Ask me if it ever happened again.  How about she works all day and then he snores all night, but doesn’t want her to sleep on the couch or go to the guest room because it makes him more secure to have her body next to him in bed.  Yes.  This happened off and on for 20 years. I finally learned to hold his nose until he stopped breathing and then he miraculously would stop snoring.  I really wasn’t trying to kill him.  Wink…wink.   I think Americans would enjoy watching this reality show.  Gosh….snoring, selfishness and flatulence.  Do I miss this?  Maybe a little bit.