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Category Archives: Parenting

Endings and Beginnings

October 10, 2012

Grandma with her grandkids

My mom is sick. Really sick.

There are so many other things I wanted to write about. But my mom is sick.

It is so hard to think about it. I wasn’t sure if I should write about it. But, my mom is sick, and I find that I can’t write about anything else.

Last weekend, I went to Minnesota to be with my mom and dad. I found myself doing things for my mom that I am used to doing for my young children. Helping her get dressed, cleaned, and fed. At this stage, it is like our roles are reversed. I am now mothering my own mother. It is as though, in the circle of life, she is getting closer to where she started out. It is true that we end very near to where we begin.  And maybe that’s what this is about — endings and beginnings.

For the last 8 years, my mom has dedicated much of her time to being an amazing mother and grandmother. She watched and held babies whenever she could. She took grandkids to music classes. She travelled to Switzerland for the express purpose to play with her grandchildren. She often stayed back with the youngest grandchildren while the older ones went on to bigger things with the other adults. I think that was her favorite role.

As a mother and as a teacher, she has always had an affinity to small children. I’ve often thought she is like a kid at heart. Playing and singing and watching for hours, after most other adults would have gotten bored or gone crazy.

She can no longer do those things.

It is, at least for now, the end of another stage of life. She is no longer the babysitter, the hostess, or the traveler she has been. But, an ending also means a new beginning.

Right now, it is difficult to accept, not to mention embrace, this new beginning. Partially that is because we didn’t choose this situation, and also because we don’t really know what the new situation is. Between each ending and beginning is that nasty thing called transition. That’s where we are stuck right now… in transition.

Transition is hard. It means change. It means uncertainty. It means waiting for time to tell. It means adapting to what each day brings.

It’s been several months, and we still don’t really know what is wrong. The doctors don’t know. And perhaps that is the biggest frustration — not knowing. But we live in hope, and also in fear, that maybe the next doctor, or the next appointment will bring some answers.

At least with knowledge, we can embark on a new beginning.

Wasted Time

September 26, 2012


I just went for a walk around my neighborhood, and up the street there was an old man laying in his front yard listening to the radio and pulling weeds by hand. He greeted me and joked about having a weeding job for me (at least I think it was a joke). Then he said, “Keep an eye on that patch,” pointing to a patch of dirt in his yard about a foot in diameter. “If that patch doesn’t have weedless grass in the spring, then I’m just wasting my time.” I smiled and agreed to keep an eye on it, assuring him that I didn’t think he was wasting his time.

But it got me thinking. What if there is no grass in the spring? What if it grows back with weeds, which, more likely than not, is what will happen. Does that mean the beautiful sunny day he spent working outside was wasted? Absolutely not! At the end of today, he will have a sense of accomplishment, not to mention a lot of fresh air. What happens 9 months from now won’t change that. If his efforts turn out to be a failure, does that mean he shouldn’t have tried in the first place? That it was a waste? On the contrary, he should learn from his first effort and get out there and try again.

This is important to me right now, since I’m spending most of my time trying to do two things: raise my kids and start a business.  The idea of parenting being a waste of time is laughable, though there are individual moments when I wonder whether what I am doing matters. But what if my business fails (as many do)? At times, both of these things feel like an endless field of weeds. I work hard pulling weeds, planting seeds, and praying for rain. And inevitably more weeds pop up. And I do the work not because I expect to have a perfect lawn, but because I believe that each small success along the way makes a difference.

Trying to make the world a better place, one child, one business, or one patch of grass at a time is never a waste.