A lesson I keep needing to relearn.


I had one of those days yesterday, and it ran into this morning. I think every middle aged woman in America will understand what I mean.

Maybe other people feel this way, too, but I don’t know. I don’t know if men feel like this. Or if young Moms do.

I don’t know if women in other countries feel this way.

But I know that my fellow late middle aged women friends will be nodding their heads and saying, “Yup.”

The problem that I was overwhelmed with yesterday was the crushing sense of responsibility that women in my generation feel.

By the late afternoon yesterday, I was feeling that I absolutely had to do something to fight back against Donald Trump. I’m already going to the March next week, but that didn’t feel like it was enough. I write for LiberalAmerica every day, but I didn’t think it was enough to keep calling out the idiocy of our incoming President.

I was upset because my writing wasn’t perfect. While taking care of my 18 month old granddaughter and a puppy and an old hound dog, I had written three articles about the Trump transition. But the mistakes that I made weighed on my mind.

I was upset that hadn’t written and published perfectly. What must everyone at LA think of me???

And while I was trying to write, to make some money because I retired way before I should have, even though I retired partly to take care of my grandchild, I worried that I wasn’t doing enough for that grandchild.

I hadn’t taken her outside for three days! OK, it was pouring rain and 35 degrees and the yard was full of frozen slush. But I know that kids need fresh air. And I was failing.

And I kept getting frustrated with the puppy. Who was acting just like… a puppy. He wanted to eat shoes. He wanted to grab Ellie’s stuffed animal out of her arms and run around the living room. He was driving me nuts. I was not a good puppy mommy.

I was sure that I wasn’t writing enough. I wasn’t writing and publishing well enough. I wasn’t giving Ellie enough attention. I was short tempered with the puppy.

Even though I vacuum every day and dust every week, I was sure the house was dirty. I only baked home made bread with Ellie once a week. I hadn’t made cookies with her for three weeks.

I felt awful. I felt overwhelmed. I felt that I just. couldn’t. do. any. more.

Then I went onto Facebook. Where I read a post that absolutely melted my heart and gave me a strong slap in the face. In all the right ways.

You see, the town where I taught for 22 years is in the middle of a terrible crisis. Children are killing themselves in what feels like an epidemic of hopelessness.

And that has added to my sense of failure. Some of the children who have died were once in my care. While I know that it is the height of arrogance to believe that one elementary school teacher could have made a difference, I still have felt that I’ve failed.

So this morning, when I read this post, I was struggling to greet the day. I was sure that I wasn’t up to the challenges ahead of me.

But.

The full post is here. You really should read it, no matter who you are or where you live.

The author is the mother of a young adult who grew up in that town where I taught for so long, and where my daughter is now a teacher. She is the mom of a child who struggled with mental illness.

Basically, what she wrote was that we all need to take a big step back from our desire for perfection. She wrote that kids should break some rules. They should seek out some fun when they can.

She wrote that we should all accept our best and just move on.

I read her post.

I looked at my puppy. I looked at my sweet, beloved little grandchild.

We all went outside for an hour and got soaked, muddy, dirty and tired.

It was fantastic.

img_20170112_103339

Ellie in the puddle. The puppy is in the woods. The old dog was inside snoring.

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17 thoughts on “A lesson I keep needing to relearn.

  1. What a great photo! I can relate to so many of your thoughts as a middle aged woman myself, even though we are not of the same political persuasion. I took to the streets with my friends during the height of the bank bailouts in protests that would ultimately be called “tea party rallies.” It was fun and I met some wonderful people, but eventually had to refocus my energy on issues closer to home where I could make an immediate difference and impact. Like you, I am desperately concerned with the younger generations many of whom are struggling with depression and substance abuse and a general sense of malaise. Oh, how I wish I had the answer to this seemingly growing problem..

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    • oh, how funny! I was absolutely no fan of those bailouts, either! I think the two groups in power are more alike than different, and I think they keep us growling at each other, lest we growl at them.
      I do worry so much about the mental health concerns of the young, especially in ‘middle class’ communities.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I read a great book over the holidays called “Hillbilly Eligy” .. it was a window into what life is like for so many Americans who are struggling just above poverty- A combination of misfortune, the changing economy, but most intriguing for me, destructive familial handicaps, a culture of self destruction that is mostly accepted generation after generation without challenge- (substance abuse, dropping out, teen pregnancy, abusive relationships, no hope for a better/different life)as if it’s a genetic predisposition- a pre-destination that cannot be changed. In this case it was the story of a family in small-town Ohio, but the parallels to an inner city Baltimore/LA/St. Louis family were clear. The importance of strong, healthy families has never been more clear to me- and it’s going to take a true holistic approach to turn this tide. The problems “our kids” are having are symptomatic of a bigger, broader issue, don’t you think? I am just obsessing over how we as a country can shore up, protect families and help people break out of destructive cycles.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I know. Sometimes we feel like we haven’t done enough or we get in our own way…but each day is a new window and all one can do is the best possible for the moment. Love the photo of your grandchild exploring the puddle… but do you know what, I thought where are the boots. Ha ha! The mom in me! 🙂

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    • “…I thought where are the boots. ”

      I did, too! 🙂 Of course, if she had had boots on, she probably would have tripped on them and ended up sitting in the puddle (not an unlikely occurrence even without the boots.) I think all young animals should come with a handle in the middle of their back because the next step would have been to carry a soggy child with boots full of freezing water and a recalcitrant puppy back to the house.

      As for baking homemade bread more than once a week, just where in the nana contract does it demand homemade bread at all!? You vacuum every day? Arghh!

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      • I just totally didn’t think about boots! But once we got out there, I had to embrace the moment and just shrug it off.
        As for the bread, I’ve been baking it for decades. Its delicious, its easy and kneading it is just about the only exercise I ever get! Plus, Ellie loves to bake!

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    • Right? We had boots in the house, because when I ventured out, it was with the thought of just getting some air. I didn’t know those puddles were there. But the cool part was that I knew my daughter and son-in-law wouldn’t care, and would understand why I wouldn’t interrupt Ellie’s exploration to go inside and wrangle her into boots.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You vacuum EVERY DAY? That’s the most shocking thing I’ve read this week, and there’s been a lot of shocking stuff in the news.
    As for homemade bread, I’ve baked bread once a never.
    Yet I still think I could be a decent — hell, a wonderful — grandmother should my son ever get his act together.

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    • Sons….mine aren’t getting me any closer to more babies, that’s for sure!
      But Kate is giving us another one in June…a boy this time!
      As for the vacuuming, I swear its only because a) two dogs and we live in the woods b) we have wood floors, no rugs c) Ellie likes to vacuum.
      And I learned to bake bread because kneading burns off frustration and angst. I’m sure as hell not about to go running!

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      • Congratulations, that’s wonderful. One of each, you must be in heaven.
        I also have wood floors and used to have two dogs, and it never occurred to me to vacuum every day. I also have the excuse that all three cats are terrified of the vacuum (especially the male cat, whom we call the cowardly lion) and don’t want to subject them to it more than once a week.
        My son is buying his first house next week, so I’m hoping there will be a wife in the picture soon.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Karen, women from other countries also feel the same about achievement ad social responsibility. In the so called third world we have struggled for education, human rights, political independence, economic challenges, cultural development. But these days we have a similar feeling of failure in front of the young generation who are being easily drawn to violent ideologies, fanatic attitudes, religious intolerance, hatred of all aspects of occidental way of life! The struggle for identity is not a good reason for rejection of all differences, still they are very quickly convinced by clerics and other hypocrites.

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    • Ma chere, I just saw this comment! I know; we share so much, in terms of how we feel, what we struggle against, what we love. My heart and my thoughts are with all of you in the Islamic world today, as our awful president tries to slam the door on all refugees.

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  5. Wow – what a powerful blog (and also the one from Erica Taylor) As moms I think we all wish we could do more – I fretted over my children and now my grandchildren…you wish you could take their hurt away – from something as little as a cut finger – to their broken hearts….but yes, we must all learn through experience – and just let them know we are there for them…..but don’t forget to dance! Life is short.

    Liked by 1 person

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