And…a new school year begins. As always, we are off and running. Are you running, too? Let’s take slow breaths and think calm thoughts. This helps stave off the frazzled, panicky, snapping mama that is so fun to be around. Or is that just me?
Last year I remember thinking, “There is nothing more I can add to my plate. This pace is insane.” Well, there is more this year, including more emotion as my darling Cope is a senior. Oh dear, I need to change the subject now…
So anyway, a new school year always reminds me to sloooow down. Which is the definition of irony, isn’t it?
I have two mantras at the moment:
Remember: If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.
Remember: Once your direction is clear, you can give attention to pace.
Priorities became very obvious after this summer. In a crisis, family comes to the forefront every time. Perhaps we needn’t wait for the crisis’ to prioritize.
I’m going to tell you about a very special mother who has taught me a lot about priorities: Ginny B.
Ginny B. has a very wonderful son named Benny B.
If you don’t know Benny B, I’m very sorry. For he’s a good boy to know.
He is one of those boys we point to and say, “Try to be like Benny B.” He is kind and honest and funny and always has a big smile that lights up all the space around him. After high school Benny B. went on to study and play basketball at Brandeis University – and he is still a good boy!
Well, good boys don’t get grown by accident now, do they? Just by knowing Benny B., you have to admire the family behind the scenes.
The Professor and I attended Benny B.’s college graduation a few years ago. I had met his mother, Ginny B. before, but I was very struck of how obviously Benny B. loved her.
I felt – Envy? Longing? Wishing? When my children flew the nest, would we have that kind of relationship?
“Benny B., you and your mom seem really close.”
“Oh,” Benny B. said. “She’s my best friend. I tell her everything.”
I pounced. “How did you do that?” I asked Ginny B. “Tell me all of your secrets!”
“You know, Amy,” she said. “I just always made sure I was waiting at the kitchen table. No matter how old they were or how late it was, I just always tried to be there when they came home.”
I have a pang of guilt every time I think of Ginny B. because there are few things I like more than climbing into my bed…at like, 8. As my children grow older they are not tucked in at 7:30 every night. Darn it. Hmmm. Could the kitchen table be substituted for say…my bed?
I have decided this is a doable substitute.
I’m waiting, baby! (zzzz….)
Benny B. and the great Ginny:
I don’t know a lot about Ginny B. but I know motherhood hasn’t been all honey dew and butterflies. The family has made a lot of sacrifices for Ginny B. to be able to stay home. They make due on one income. Their home is modest and well cared for. There are touches of Ginny everywhere, from the plethora of hostas lining the front walkway, to the homemade quilts hung over furniture. There’s nothing showy about their lifestyle; only comfortable and welcoming (including a lot of delicious homemade food.)
I’m a mom who needs reminders like this. The pull of the world is strong, my young padawans. There are opportunities to be snatched, and of course we need jobs and money to live. But there’s a point where we don’t actually need to accumulate more stuff or more status or more.
Ginny B. made the decision to be waiting when her children came home. Let the chips fall where they may. This is how the chips fell: Her children love their mother. They are best friends. They tell her everything. And I just love that.
Ginny B. even loves my children, too.
Now, I’m sure Ginny B. and Benny B. have had many “moments.” Ginny isn’t, shall we say, a timid or docile flower. For goodness sake, her hair is red. She’s opinionated and fiery! But gosh darn it, she waits and she listens and the children talk.
Here is Benny B. and The Professor. They both have great hair. If you need hair product tips, just sit quietly and listen to their conversations. It’s both hilarious and enlightening.
Back to Ginny B. waiting at the kitchen table.
Remember the most important 9 minutes?
Now listen: this is not a post to cause you motherhood guilt! For goodness sake, if you can’t always be home when the kids walk through the door, they’re not ruined. This story was just good for me to witness. It is good to see a boy with good hair turn out so well. It is really good to see Benny B. love his mother so much and to be reminded that mothers can’t be outsourced. Feel special, gosh darn it. You’re NEEDED.
Carole, a friend of mine, lost her mother many many years ago, and I haphazardly scribbled this down when she spoke – “I couldn’t wait to get off the bus and run to her, even in high school. Even when she was gone I found myself wanting to tell her things – and I can’t wait for the day when I can tell her all the things I want to tell her.”
The thing is, if we’re not around, they can’t tell us all the things.
My mother was a mom who waited for us (and she likes sleep even more than I do.) Growing up, she placed above the entrance to the kitchen: The Gathering Place. (Take heart: my mother hates to cook!)
But even when we are all grown, and my parents moved across the country, she insisted on a home that was big enough for us all to come and gather. And she still drives a minivan! (She says it’s for comfort, but I secretly think she likes to pick up stray grandchildren…:) ) Even now that I’m a pretend grown-up I know she’s waiting. #lucky.
Benny B. and my boy:Wait for them. And they’ll keep coming home.
Thank you, Ginny B.