white house, say no to the task, yes to the person, transplanted and still blooming, cinthia milner

Say No to the Task. Say Yes to the Person.

Is no your favorite word? It has been mine. Not so much anymore, although I’m a bit late joining the yes wagon.

Why do we gravitate to no?

When my kids were little, before they even finished their sentence, I was already on NO. They tricked me a few times. “Mom, you want us to clean the bathrooms?” No. Oh, wait a minute. What did you say? Of course, I wasn’t listening, but it’s more than that, isn’t it? Something in our DNA makes us want to say no.

Or is it because we’re told no, over and over? So that, after a while, we quit asking or speaking. Got a boss that only has a no vocabulary, and so you’ve given up with the ideas? You just quit bringing new thoughts or new suggestions to the table because you already know they’ll be tabled? Or a spouse that is going to say no again to date night? Or a long-needed project? Or a walk and a conversation?

I knew this guy once whose father was a small-town, Illinois judge. His mother was a stay-at-home-mom. They lived on a quaint street where children rode their bikes to school. A white, clapboard house with lots of character, but small rooms describes their house. The story goes that the mom asked for years for a wall to be knocked down between rooms, opening up the interior space. The father repeatedly said, “No, that’s a load-bearing wall.” As it turns out, every wall in that house was evidently a load-bearing wall. He said no, and she finally quit asking. He regretted that later, before he died. Why hadn’t he done this one thing for his wife? If it meant so much to her that she asked over-and-over for years, why did he say no? And, when had finally she quit asking?

There. That’s the question to ponder. When did they (fill in the blank–your employees, the people you supervise at work, your spouse, your kids, your friends) quit asking? When did they finally become silent? Or do we silence them?

We all need to say no to more tasks. Our plates are full. I know. The trade I’m in is a feast or famine industry, and right now, everyone I work with is being pulled every which way but Sunday. So, no has its place. But my point is not that we should take on more.

My point is to say no to the task, and yes to the person.

modern family transplanted and still blooming cinthia milner

Looking for My Own Modern Family

I long for a family again. This single mess has gone on long enough.

Late at night on my screened-in porch, I can hear a guy talking 2 screened-in porches away. Because I am a corner house, I have neighbors behind me, and beside me. This guy is behind me. I sit listening in the dark, sliding my glider back and forth, because as much as I love texting, I long for the sound of human voices. And man, does he have a lot to say. Especially in regard to his family. He has opinions about every single cousin, and after 2 years of late night listening, I must say I agree with him completely about his cousin Daniel and Daniel’s wife, Katie. Katie is no good. Daniel really should get the kids. Their court case is next week, and I am tempted to go to the courthouse and participate. I’ve been listening since she was first caught with her old boyfriend, who, by the way, is a drug dealer. I lack sympathy for her. Daniel has given her countless chances. I don’t know that there’s hope she’ll change, and I’m fairly diplomatic. In my own, eavesdropping way, I do feel like they’re family now, though I still do not know this mysterious night-talker’s name. As I listen to him in dark, I nod in agreement. He seems wise, and I feel he was correct on the subject of sidewalks in the town. We need more and wider. His wife never talks. She just shushes the baby, and likely enjoys the quiet of the night, and the sound of her husband’s voice. They leave their light off too, while soothing their little one to sleep.

If you watch much tv (that’s all I’ve done for the last 12 days–it’s the flu) every show seems determined to tell me what family is NOW. Okay, I’m listening because my own family has flown the coop, and I’m looking for a new one. From Modern Family to About a Boy, no one seems interested in a traditional family, but everyone wants to expand the definition. I can’t really say much on the subject since my present family is a voyeuristic, screened-in, eavesdropping experience that I feel is not sitcom worthy. But, I do think after the first little family of Adam and Eve, all other families have been pretty much a blur. So game on for whatever family you feel you might fit with, because isn’t that what family is? That one place in the universe where you just fit? Where everyone knows you and you don’t have to catch them up on the last, in my case, 55 years. They already know, and no they don’t want to hear it again.

Here’s what I’m missing: connections.

I don’t mind chatty conversations about nothing. As these blog posts attest I can rattle on all day about nothing, but I miss human connection. I’m just not sure where to find it.

So, I’ve been watching all these shows on tv. (As if that’s going to help me sort out what family is now–sans kids.) But actually, it does make me feel a little less crazy, because the best shows, the ones you’ll actually watch again and again, are the ones where people connect. It isn’t Cam and Mitchell being gay that makes Modern Family such a popular show. It’s the connection they have with each other, and the genuine love they express. Every time I come away thinking, I want that. I don’t mean a guy and a girl thing, but a whole community of people. The goofy friend, the screechy wife, the bumbling adolescences, the player friend. I like a big mix of people. If you get tired of grandma, go play with a toddler.

I’m just looking for my own Modern Family.

But going out and adopting a family is well, not so easy, and even on sitcoms, sooner or later, the group separates. Maybe that’s why so many people my age move to where their grandchildren are, so they’ll feel as though they’re family again. But then, you risk your daughter-in-law’s ire for eternity, and who can blame her? It’s her turn now to build a family. Does she really want you five minutes away?

I haven’t sorted it out, but I suppose I will. I’ll either make my way down the screened-in porches and help shush the baby while giving my own thoughts on Daniel and Katie, or perhaps I’ll move at least a bit closer to the grand kids. Who knows? But one thing is for sure, its hard to live a life with only friends. Friends are a part of the glue in life, but nothing really beats family. With my kids grown, and far away, and the 70s still a good ways away (okay not that far away, but away), I guess I’m looking for my own Modern Family.

I Want Perfect Children

I want perfect children.

Parents always say, oh, I don’t expect my children to be perfect. I just want them to be….whatever. Whatever. I actually want mine to be perfect.

And, I don’t even like perfect people. They’re boring. Dull. I mean who writes books about perfect people? Nobody. It’s the flaws that make people interesting. It’s the flaws that make my children interesting. They aren’t nearly as cool, fun, quirky people without their less-than-perfect-traits. We have a family language developed around the imperfections of the four of us. Our private family jokes, our most cherished memories, our we-finish-each-other-sentences-moments come not from the times of perfect accomplishments, but from the almost-there efforts. Who doesn’t love the wrong notes played on the cello in the middle of the 5th grade symphony? It is the sum of the less-thans that form the perfection of my children. It is those not-quites that create the unique individuals I call my children (adult children now). It is their oddities that I love most.

So why am I screaming for perfect children?

Because I want some sleep. (Let me add that I write this at 4:07 a.m. Take your best guess on why.)

Because if they’re perfect, then I never have to worry about them, right?

Because it is my heart’s desire for them to be safe. To be happy. To be secure. To be okay, and its easy to get all those things mixed with up the word perfect.

Because here’s the dilemma:  I am no longer in charge of them.

Maybe, write that sentence again: I AM NO LONGER IN CHARGE OF THEM.

When they were 10 and 5 making not-the-best-choice held its consequences, but not life-changing, or possibly, deadly ones. Now at 24 and 20, a misstep can have a lifetime of man-I-screwed-that-up attached to it. Having a of few of my own, man-I-screwed-that-up moments, (that never really go away) I dread the thought of it for them. Mom doesn’t show up to right the wrongs anymore, because little boys only need a Batman band-aid and a kiss on the head, and off they go. Big boys need courage, perseverance  foresight, wisdom, the ability to stand against their peers when needed, the faith to stand where others will not sometimes. Big boys have wives and children of their own. (The oldest has a 2 year old, Miss Priss, and an almost 2 week old, SJ, and they are perfect. Thank God.) They are the providers and guiders now. They live in big people world now, with yes, big rewards, but, sadly, big consequences, too. My ex says he wishes kids matured in dog-years. I wish I did too.

My kids say, “Mom, you worry too much.” (Oh, I do not. Isn’t every mother up at 4:27 a.m. writing a blog about her kids?) They say, “You did your job, Now trust us to do ours.”

Okay, so yeah. It is their turn now. It is their time to see how they fare away from home where Mom and Dad kept a vigilant watch. And, I get that. I just don’t feel that. It is in my head as exactly what parents are supposed to do when their kids become adults, but it hasn’t reached my heart yet. I am still keeping that vigilant watch, and they are long gone. Hence, the kid-sleep-insomnia.

While other parents said good-bye, and rolled over for a well-deserved nap, or got dressed for a night on the town, I am only beginning to understand. They’re gone. And, now it is their turn to shine, and yes, make their mistakes. 

So, what’s the slightly obsessed mother to do? Pray.

Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord, my grown children to keep.(My grown children who aren’t perfect, but come pretty darn close. )


7 Truthful Things About Me; 7 Being the Perfect Number

I’m sick. After a visit with the grandkids, who were completely healthy, and my son and daughter-in-law (it was the son who was sick), I came home with lethargy and laryngitis. Translated that means, I am in my favorite tights, favorite long, blue sweater, and socks with dog paws on them. The socks can be number one on the ten things you wish you didn’t know about me list, if you like.

So, for kicks, lying in my sick bed, I thought I’d just be truthful. As opposed to being that person that tries so dang hard to appear she has it all together. So, here goes. Seven truthful things about me.

1. I do and I don’t like myself. At almost 55, I can give myself a break on most things, but at the same time, at almost 55, I can see clearly now….the idiotic things I did, and how easy it would have been to do them differently. #1 thing I wish I had done differently: Listen to my mom. Bottom line: she was right. #2 thing I wish I had done differently: not be such a know-it-all. Guess what? Other people (even spouses, even ex-spouses) are right sometimes, or rather, are right a lot of the time.

2. I think about my weight as much as a 19 year old boy thinks about sex. Every morsel of food that goes into my body is measured, not by some food/ounce scale, but by the scales in my mind. Every calorie is counted, every crumb weighed, every carb considered. Its exhausting. #1 reason why this is stupid: it just is.

3. I’m all or nothing. Which would be okay, if the all was in the good spectrum, and the nothing meant avoiding the bad. #1 reason this has proven not to be a good thing: too much wasted time on projects/people that proved futile.

4. I can’t tell a joke, and you have to explain jokes to me. This one needs no further commenting.

5. I don’t always like my kids. In my defense, I did like them when they were little, and I mostly like them now. But there are days, that I just hate having adult kids. If I wasn’t wishing my life away, I’d be begging God to jump the next ten years, and let’s just get to the 30’s. #1 thing I don’t like about adult kids: They don’t listen to their mother (refer to number one to see who they get that from).

6. I am so not a detail oriented person that it is possible I will skip a number in this list. This means, I will miss my exit, I will burn dinner, or forget to pay that bill, or forget your birthday (though I am generous so your make-up gift will be awesome), or just not hear that last instruction. #1 reason why I don’t care that I’m not a detail oriented person: I hate details.

7.  I am horribly fearful.  Honestly. People are always telling me how brave I am, but really, I am not. I don’t mean like afraid of the dark, or monsters. I wish monsters were all there was to be fearful of. No, I’m afraid of being alone. Not like, single-without-a-guy alone, but more like, doing life on my own. Am I smart enough to make good decisions about money, work, houses, kids, health, LIFE? #1 way I deal with this: close my eyes and make a decision, while praying.

Make it 8. I am getting ready to watch Emma (the one with G.Paltrow) for the 10 billionth time. Yes, I do like J.Austen.

So, there’s my 7. How about you?