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Who's Really In Charge Here?
No one. The answer is no one.
Somehow, it’s autumn in New England. People flock here at this time each year to do what’s called “leaf-peeping,” which I mostly do not understand because I can peep enough leaves from my backyard to sustain me for a lifetime. But they sure are pretty.
Autumn, like pretty much everything else I enjoy, brings with it dueling emotions that like to knock at my edges while they duke it out. The sensory rush of the season is endlessly pleasing. The gorgeous shades of red, yellow, and orange, complemented with just enough green to remind you that winter won’t stop life entirely. The breeze that carries on it whiffs of the coming snow and aromas of the warmth we’re leaving behind. But this pleasure must do battle against the knowledge that, for all its appeal, autumn will be gone tomorrow. It feels like the shortest of all the seasons at this latitude, and the joy of the leaf piles and colorful landscapes is coupled with the knowledge that cold, nasty days lay ahead.
I have a secret for you, though.
It’s not really about the winter.
My 11-year-old asked me yesterday, “Why did you raise us to be such polite, good, thoughtful people?”
Sounds like a self-compliment to me, and also a question I don’t know how to answer. I just walk around every day being me and also a parent.
But it got me thinking. People always remark on how polite, thoughtful, and empathetic my kids are. And now that I have a third, who says “please” and “thank you” and “bless you” and, most adorably, “thank you bless you me” when he sneezes and I say “bless you” to him, I will accept we might be doing something unconsciously to cultivate that.
It’s hard to take much credit, though, knowing how little control I really have. Nearly 2 decades in schools and classrooms has taught me that when children do what you want them to, what you know is good for them, they’re making a choice. They could just as easily choose to do something else.
Even with my tiny baby (who turned two-and-a-half last week 😪) glimpses of that rational thinker are beginning to creep in. He’s starting to say “No” a lot more often, to dig in his heels and refuse when he doesn’t want to do something. And, far more dangerous, he’s starting to think about his options before deciding whether or not to do what I tell him.
Raising your kids to be thoughtful and rational is awesome, until they start using that logic to question your authority. (Know that I’m resisting inserting a Cartman gif here.)
Some things you just have to accept.
The kids are gonna do what they’re gonna do. (Don’t tell them I said that.) The only thing I can do is nurture a mutually respectful relationship and model what I value.
The leaves are gonna change, and the snow is gonna fall. The days pass, the weeks and the years, and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. But I can make the most of my hours and minutes while that happens.
Here’s what that’s looking like this week:
Planning a paperback and ebook launch for Scarlet Lends a Helping Hoof, my 9-year-old’s book about helping others.
Using what I gain during this process to create a launch plan (and setting a launch date!) for When We Were Mothers.
Going grocery shopping with a friend so we can spend some time together.
Working on edits for a couple of projects.
Having coffee and a long walk with another friend.
Reining in my eating habits, which have gone way off the rails and I need to balance out.
Reading a couple of books.
Writing business plans for alllllllll the businesses I somehow find myself running.
Having breakfast with a loved one.
The projects for this week are really meaty, but once they’re done they’ll be done. The hope for the business plans is that by the end of the year I’ll have a plan and a process for each business and it will become easier to manage than the whack-a-mole I’ve been playing for the last… idk, 20 years?
And you’ll notice I’ve scheduled time in for meaningful connection with myself and my loved ones. Say what you will about scheduling that kind of thing, if it’s not on my calendar it doesn’t happen. So into the app machine it goes.
What’s Exciting Me?
I got to write a guest post for my friend Minter’s publication last week, all about how to construct meaningful dialogue when writing fiction. It was really fun!
I’m excited to meet you all at the introductions thread. Stop by and say hi here.
I’ve got some cool ideas for my news business, including a coffee hour, a kids’ version, and a reader survey. I’m also recording another podcast tomorrow, and I low key enjoy doing those.
What’s Entertaining Me?
We’ve been watching The Wire, and after episode 3 I’m convinced I want to watch more. It took a minute. I’m also reading I’m Glad My Mom Died, the memoir by Jennette McCurdy. I just started it, but it’s getting rave reviews and I’m excited to dig in more.
What’s Enlightening Me?
This vague sense of having reached more-or-less midlife. Oh, wait. I said “enlightening,” not “depressing.” Okay, how about the story I read yesterday about the actor who played the little boy in The Shining, Danny Lloyd, who apparently turned 50 last week? Did you know he never knew he was in a horror movie until years later, and that Stanley Kubrick protected him from the horror aspects of the film? Me either!
Eminem is also 50 now. Excuse me while I go cry in the corner.
Until next time,
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