Our whole life would change…

If we could see the miracle of a single flower, our whole life would change – Buddha

My daughter loves Grape Hyacinth. She has studied and feels connected to Buddhism. And her whole life has changed.

A year ago, in the midst of a challenging first year of university, Laura realized that she had started down the wrong path. Not that university was the wrong path, but that the university she had chosen possibly was not the right one. Although it was an excellent university and one that had been the perfect fit for her brother, Laura felt out of sorts, perhaps even out of place.

At 18 years old, she made the brave decision to follow her heart – and her head – and move to a university much farther from home, without much but thin threads to her life here. It has been a year. A year of triumphs, smiles, homesickness, adventures, great friendships, a few tears here and there – but without question, an excellent choice.

I visited her in March and had my greatest wish confirmed: she had found her place. It was like she wrote her life story and then jumped into it.

People often say, “it can’t be what you want”.  I disagree. What  I want for my children is what I want for myself: to feel at peace with who they are, find happiness and feel they are living their lives for themselves. To follow someone else’s wishes is not what makes for a life.

So yes, along with her life, my whole life has changed. And at the same time, I am at peace. I miss her, just as I miss the immediate presence of her brother, but I know that they are living THEIR lives. And so missing them does not consume me, but rather is a confirmation that they are on their way, confident in their relationships with us and confident in themselves.

A daffodil in every dustbin…

For me, there’s a daffodil in every dustbin – Eric Sykes

I love this quote and was so glad to finally have a photo to go with it. I found the quote when I was writing the eulogy for my father-in-law’s funeral in 2009. Dad Turner was a man who truly could find a daffodil in every dustbin, literally and figuratively. He was an eternal optimist and he found good in everyone. The literal side of that quote was that dad and is brother, Charlie, loved to go to the dump at the cottage (which they called the Trading Post) to discover “daffodils” – many “treasures” someone else had let go, they were able to put to good use.

I always felt so loved and accepted by my father-in-law and since I did not grow up with my own father, Dad Turner helped me understand what kind of relationship I could have with my dad. Fortunately, I did end up very close to both my “dads”.  They are both gone now and I miss them both keenly, though in different ways, at different times.

The photo above was taken at the family cottage this past weekend – a place that Dad Turner worked so hard to make special for all of us to enjoy. As Kyle said in his eulogy to his grandfather, Grandpa worked hard, but he worked hardest on us – building a family.

Hey dad – woo-ha!

Broaden your horizon

“You must learn day by day, year by year to broaden your horizon. The more things you love, the more you are interested in, the more you enjoy, the more you are indignant about, the more you have left when anything happens.” Ethel Barrymore

I do not have a university degree. This has been, at various times in my life, an embarrassment and a frustration, but always a point that niggles at me.

Sometime over the past 4 years, those feelings have slowly changed. No, I have not returned to school to complete my degree. The shift occurred because my children are now university students. Through them, my horizons have expanded.

Walking through a research site with my son, a biology student, as he patiently explained ant-plant mutualism, I listened closely. And it made sense. I slowly became aware that science didn’t have to be a mystery. Books written for elementary school students about ecology and other aspects of science may still be my speed, but I have someone who sparked my interest and desire to know more. And who always answers my questions. Even if I’ve asked them before.  

Through the eyes of my daughter, I have learned about people, places and events that have shaped the world. She helps me to connect the dots. Nothing is black and white for her; there are many sides to issues and she turns them over and over. The world is not big to her; it is all connected. She has taught me to be curious again. “But why…” was her favourite saying as a child. Now it is mine.

And so, as always, it is my children who have provided the answers to questions I didn’t know I had. Seeing the world through their eyes continues to shape and reshape my life. Broaden my horizons.

The waste of worrying

“Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.” – Arthur Somers Roche

I am a person who sleeps best when everyone is under the same roof and I can count heads before mine hits the pillow. If I am not able to do that, the next best thing is to send a text or an email and get updates. Of course, that only works when one of those heads to be counted is NOT busily working at a “research center in lowland Amazonian forest at the base of Peru’s southern Andes”, putting him somewhat out of range of phones and the internet.

Logically speaking, I know that everything is fine. Not only is Kyle capable and experienced in working at this location but he is among a group that includes his supervising professor and her Peruvian born husband. It is not a concern about his safety (ok, maybe just a little). I miss hearing about his experiences and his life. (Not to mention, the last we heard, he was still recovering from “Peru stomach” which occurred in the 5 days of travel from here to there.)

My brain knows I am wasting valuable time worrying. My mama heart says, whatever.

(I bought some “Not to worry beads” recently. I might need a refund.)

As an update: word came last night from Peru and all is well in the world.

Call it what you may

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind, don’t matter and those that matter, don’t mind.”   – Dr. Seuss.

I cannot figure out what to call this age and stage that I find myself in, but because of my work, I am not a fan of labels anyway.

For more than 22 years, I have first and foremost defined myself as a mom, or more aptly Kyle and Laura’s mom. I love that role and it has fulfilled me and consumed me in the best possible way. But now that my children have figuratively (and literally) “flown the coop”, a re-definition is due. Of course, I’m still a “mom”, but the full-time status has been relegated to the past. 

It is the process of moving out of their lives as they move into their own that is proving to be a challenge.  

They are truly capable, truly able to do everything they want to do and I am here if they need help. And yet, it does take a conscious effort to remove myself. To stop having their wellbeing be the first and last thought of my day.

It’s not a matter of missing them. I do, but my heart does not ache every minute. It’s the practicality of moving from focussing on their lives and their wellbeing to….something else. When every decision has been made for more than 22 years with full consideration being given to everyone, it feels oddly selfish to just do things for myself.

The “finished product”, so to speak, is an accomplishment – we did do a great job raising our children. It was not a perfect job, and I didn’t know what I was doing a lot of the time, but they know they are loved and I hope that I instilled in them the knowledge, as was said in The Help, that they are smart, kind and important. 

The greatest compliment they paid me was to ask me how I did it, how I raised them to be good people. I could not answer that because they raised me too. It was a joint effort.

And now, I have to find a new path just as they are finding theirs.

Perhaps if I just keep doing more and seeing the world from this new perspective, life will point me in the right direction.

How did it get so late so soon?

How did it get so late so soon?
It’s night before it’s afternoon.
December is here before it’s June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?
~Dr. Seuss

Tomorrow, at a truly insane early hour, my daughter leaves to return to university. Today will be akin to very slowly tearing off a firmly stuck on band-aid. It will hurt. Unlike the band-aid, though, I will not be glad that the experience is over. It will be months before I see her in the flesh. Get close enough to steal a hug. How did it get late so soon?

I am blessed with two incredible, capable, loving children. They are really nice people who bring laughter and lively conversation into my world and the worlds of everyone with whom they share their lives. It has been wonderful having my daughter home for 18 days, and my son joined us for a week which truly deepened the experience for everyone.  But suddenly, it has gotten late. Late into this visit.

I think my daughter fears there were moments, hours even, that she wasted that could have been better spent, rather than doing mundane tasks.  What is wasted if you are living life? Taking care of the necessary details? We all need to remember that every moment does not have to be worthy of being photographed and put into a scrapbook. Those are memories to look at, but the real moments that matter can be in the times where you are just doing stuff. Taking care of the business of living. Relationships are not built on moments captured, but by moments lived together.

It has gotten late. And the time to go is nearly upon us. I am seriously sad and yet, I am confident that the best is yet to come for my daughter. Her adventures in life are always upon her and she truly does know how to seize those days, those moments. She values people and relationships and experiences. I feel we’ve done her well to model that for her.

So, off you go. Enjoy.

Ubuntu.