Tag Archives: Children

The One In Which I Take Pictures of Santa, Children and … a Goat!

My sister organized a fund-raiser at her company offices over the weekend.  For a donation, —- the proceeds would go to a community service project — her colleagues brought their family members to have a photo taken with Santa.   I came on board as one of the photographers before I fully understood what the project was.   As people began to sign up for picture-taking, the definition of family broadened to mean more than children.

Santa goat

Santa goat

For the most part, the children were either overly excited to see Santa — cheesy smiles all around — or they were timid, unsure of the entire goings-on.  A big man in a funny red suit can be pretty intimidating when one is two years old!   The little dogs in the football jerseys were the most difficult subjects:  they weren’t having anything to do with sitting on Santa’s lap to recite their holiday wish lists.

And the goat?  He was the most docile of them all, happy with his hay.   The children thought he was pretty cool too.   Not exactly a household pet, he was skittish about walking into the building with its marbled entryway.    The goat’s ability to turn one eye towards the parking lot to see what other activity was happening was a bit freaky.   He was very interested in walking towards the building to see the reflection in the glass.   Maybe he was calm because he thought there were others of his kind in the area.  Later, after another photographer had begun the second shift, I heard that Santa went outside for a pose with him.

Decades ago I worked in a children’s photography studio, located inside a large department store.   I had forgotten just how difficult it was to take photos of children.  People who make it look easy are true pros!

It was a fun day.

As I was doing the housework…

You know the 5-second rule?  The one about how food is still okay if you retrieve it from the floor if 5-seconds hasn’t elapsed?

I have a different kind of 5-second rule.  I better catch whatever I’ve dropped 5 seconds before it reaches the floor.  Or at least it seems that way sometimes.  But not today.   My kitchen floor is so clean you could eat off of it, although the table is much more comfortable — with plates and utensils, of course.

As I was scrubbing the floor today, fighting the temptation to stop halfway because it was hot and tiring work, I smiled thinking how some might think my current life out of the corporate workplace is a bit like a page out of The Stepford Wives.   Let me assure you that I have no super cool sexy 60’s pantsuits, nor am I obsessive about all things homemaker.

Yet, keeping a really clean house was something that I was never able to do when I was working full-time and raising my child.   I often worked from the time I woke up until the time I went to bed with the ever-present blackberry on the night stand.   Homework and after school activities and sports and cooking dinner and all sorts of other things fit in between when the alarm sounded and lights out.  I was lucky if I found time to use a damp mop on the floor before the tile’s light beige color developed a brown-shoe patina.

I don’t expend  much energy thinking about the “culture wars” between career women and stay-at-home moms.   I’ve been both.   Working, for many years, was not a choice for me.  What was a choice was my decision not to complain about options that I didn’t have.  I worked with some women who complained that they “had” to work, but would have rather been home.   Yet, had they made different choices, they likely could have lived on one salary as I did at that time.  But, it would have come at a cost, a different style of living.  Who am I to make that choice for anybody else?  Had they decided to stay home, I would have respected that choice as much as I did their choice to work.

I overheard someone say to a new mom recently:  I don’t know how you’re going to do it when you go back to work.  It will be so hard.

I seethed inwardly but kept my opinion to myself.   The woman probably had the best intentions, but the tone of the conversation implied that it was unfortunate that the new mom had to work.  What I should have said was It is hard to stay home too.

Raising kids is difficult.  Entrusting them to a caregiver for a large portion of the day is difficult as well.  Staying home knowing that you’ll enter the workforce in the future is hard.   Entering the workforce after not working is hard.  It’s all hard.

My advice to that new mom?  Be kind to yourself.  Do what’s best for your family. Be comfortable with your decision. And hire a housekeeper.   A clean house is nice, but you won’t have much time to do it and it isn’t why you’re staying at home.  Use all those 5-seconds catching your children’s smiles.

This post is my contribution to today’s WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge:  From Mundane to Meaningful.   Find links to what others have written in the comments here.

What I’ll be reading tomorrow

I stopped into a branch of the library this afternoon to return some books. It wasn’t my usual branch so I felt a bit upended, like when you try shopping in an unfamiliar grocery store: you know what is there, but you’re not sure on which aisle. It seems that it shouldn’t be so in a library, with the Dewey Decimal system and all, but there you have it. I did manage to find my way to the catalog, to the shelves, and last before checkout, the new acquisitions.

It was there that I spotted, in between easy summer beach reads and the latest computer manual, Some Assembly Required by Anne Lamott, with Sam Lamott. Lamott is a writer who always makes me laugh, although I don’t always agree with her, and some of her books tire me by the time I get to the last pages even though they are usually quick reads.

I read this on the cover:

…[W]atching Sam changing poopy diapers all the time nearly brings me to tears. My wild son, who like most boys smashed and bashed his way through childhood, with branches and bats and wooden swords who shut down and pulled so far away as a teenager that sometimes I could not find him, ow taking tender care of his own newborn, a miniature who is both unique and reflective. Same is still every age he ever was, from the fetus to the infant to the adolescent to the father. And Einstein would probably say that Jax is already every age he will ever be, but in such super-slow motion relative to our limited perspective that we can’t see the full spiral of him yet…”

I liked this idea of looking at one’s grown child and seeing every age that he has ever been.

A few days ago, while in the midst of one of my cleaning/pitch everything sprees (they don’t happen often, but when they do, I go with it!), I threw a small pocket-sized day planner in the trash can. A few minutes later, I fished it out to see what was in it. Really? I haven’t used a planner this century. What could possibly be in it? A bunch of numbers for old land lines?

I started thumbing through the address book. It didn’t occur to me at first that the only names in it were family. And then I turned to the notebook pages and found a note I wrote to my son July 14, 2001. Why? I wondered, would I not have given it to him?. Then I realized that I had given him the entire planner the first time that he went on an extended trip without any family members. He was 12 when he ventured to Scotland and England on a choir tour.

I read the letter and realized that much of it I could have written to him when he moved half-way across the country last week.

…I am so proud of you. I know that you have worked very hard to be ready for this….I see what a neat kid, a nice young man, you are now and are becoming every day.

I wrote about how he was very observant and that he would observe lots of new things being with a group that was not his family and in a foreign country, but I hoped that he would recognize mostly commonalities, not differences. I was thankful that he had put up with my over-protectiveness and “weirdnesses”.  I knew then, apparently, that he must have been aware on some level of my angst about his going. I closed with this:

Have fun. Sing joyfully. Act responsibly. Smile. Be thankful for the blessings in this life. I am proud of you & love you.

I could see then his past ages and glimpse ages to come. Just like last week as he left to start the adult chapters of his life. I could have said the closing paragraph of that letter verbatim and every word would be appropriate. I can see all of the past ages of him — and saw all of the ages to come as the loaded car pulled out of the driveway.

Last night, a few hours after giving him some suggestions over the phone for fixing a error-prone laptop, I received a text:  Thanks for the Help Desk advice.  I love you.  And not just for the computer help but for all of the mom stuff.

Sometimes your child’s current age is easy to see, which is particularly good at this moment in time because I can’t think of him as being a kid anymore.  I think this may be a good time to read Lamott’s book.