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Love and a Mist by J.G. McGlothern August 19, 2009

Filed under: From The Heart,motherhood — heartwriter @ 11:55 am

The wondrous smells of rhubarb pie, snap peas from the garden, and fresh dirt take me back to my childhood.  My fondest childhood memories center on my grandparents and their garden.  I would stay with them during summer vacation and have a magical time exploring their acre and a half full of 32 fruit trees, every type of berry bush you can imagine, an amazing array or roses, dahlias, Edelweiss and a huge vegetable garden.  The rows were separated by plywood planks and I remember skipping along the carefully divided rows, day dreaming among the squash, rhubarb, carrots, radishes and snap peas.  I would pretend it was my garden as I snacked away on the string beans and raspberries. 

Ever since I have always had some sort of a garden.  One year in my twenties I rented a home with friends that already had a big plot dug out for a garden.  Determined to relive delicious memories I planted 12 tomato plants.  I learned two things that summer; tomatoes are best eaten right off the vine and you can always freeze what you can’t use.

Today our backyard garden is a postage stamp and quite trampled by our new puppy and his friends.  But the joy my children get from picking tomatoes and rosemary, keeps reminding me…one day I will have a big garden and until then the little bit we have growing is worth the time and effort. The other night I sautéed yellow zucchini from our garden in butter and garlic and my kids thought I was a genius.

An avid gardener lives down the street and has given me different plantings over the last eleven years.  This spring she gave me some starts from Love and A Mist.  She fell in love with the name before she even got to know the delicate white flowers.  She instructed me to soak them with lots of water those first few days in their new ground. I dutifully followed her instructions.  Now with a hot summer the sweet flowers are barely noticeable in the garden but I know next spring I will see them again.  Doubled in size.  Another neighbor friend gave me some Lamb’s Ear this spring.  Their soft petals make it clear how they got their name. They are fading fast in the summer heat, but I know that they too will be back next year.

Tending a garden is much like parenting.  Many lessons to be learned along the way, many tricks shared by friends helps us get through.  Having a garden teaches me to live in the moment.  The blooms only last for so long.  The fruit is only ready when it’s ready.  Since I can’t freeze the good times or the bad times with my kids I will just have to continue to learn how to walk barefoot in the dirt, like I did as a child back in my grandparent’s garden.


Enough Already With The Crying — Tears Part III by J.G. McGlothern August 14, 2009

Filed under: From The Heart — heartwriter @ 5:53 am

I have freaked many people out by my sudden burst of tears.  They shove a Kleenex at me and want me to stop.  By the time they get the Kleenex I’m done.  Tears spilled out…time to move on. I have gotten out what needs to get out, now let’s have a laugh and move on to the next thing.

For the three years I took Prozac, I barely shed a tear.  Not even Charlotte dying in Charlotte’s Web and Wilbur going  back to the farm without her could produce a tear.   Take me off Prozac and I’m crying when Charlotte spins her first web for Wilbur.  Have you ever watched a movie that made you cry and cry and cry and your tears had nothing to do with the movie?

Even when I know a part is coming, like in It’s a Wonderful Life, we all know what Zuzu says when the bell rings and in Love Story we all know Jenny dies, but we still can’t keep the tears from coming.  When Holly Golightly at the end of Breakfast At Tiffany’s embraces Fred in the pouring rain and decides it’s okay to be loved for the right reasons and why she’s at it to give that damn Cat a name, I can’t help but lose it, even after seeing it more than a dozen times.

I definitely don’t cry as much as I used to and I cry more now out of happiness than sadness.  That really confuses people. Do I still get her a Kleenex when she’s laughing?, they wonder.  My superstitious German grandmother used to tell us, That’s good honey, keep crying, then you won’t have to pee as much.  Oh, I wish she was right on that one. And how many times have I cried on the toilet?


Tears of a Clown — Tears Part II by J.G. McGlothern August 13, 2009

Filed under: From The Heart — heartwriter @ 6:06 pm

As a child, I remember whenever I cried and my mom asked me, what was wrong, I said NOTHING, and ran off to my room and slammed the door. As an adult, my mom told me I cried too much and that maybe I should see someone about it. Instead of running off, I told her maybe she should see someone, because she didn’t cry enough.

We have now come full circle. With my step-father in a nursing home and my mom’s life turned upside down, she calls me and lets the tears go. I don’t know why I only cry with you, she says. Out of all my children, you are the only one I cry in front of, she continues. DUH, I tell her. It’s because I get it, mom. Tears don’t scare me away. Tears don’t make me tense. I don’t feel weak, out of control, or helpless when tears fall down my face. Quite aware that not everyone has that experience, I am completely honored when someone cries in my presence. I am blessed by seeing their vulnerable side, it is a gift.

We all have our own story of tears. Our history. Our hidden side. Our own mandates: Never let them see you cry. Only cry alone. Don’t cry at work. Never let a man see you cry……blah, blah, blah, blah. And because we all view them differently and see them in different lights…I see them as one thing….the Holy Spirit.

When a man walks out of a veterinary hospital after receiving bad news, when a couple exchanges vows, when a woman puts her husband into a nursing home, and when a father in a television commercial calls his daughter at college and tells her he loves her, this is all Divine. The Spirit working its magic, touching others, adding beauty to the world, even if that beauty is a little bit painful.


No Crying In Baseball – – – Tears Part I by J.G. McGlothern August 12, 2009

Filed under: From The Heart — heartwriter @ 3:20 am
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Just yesterday I got to witness a thing of beauty. A thirty something year old man coming out of a building with his sweatshirt to his mouth – body language indicating sadness as he was clearly trying to keep it together. He fumbled for keys, hands shaking, struggling to keep it together. Once inside his car he dropped the sweatshirt from his face, leaned back on the seat of his car, and let the tears go. What could it be, I wondered? Did his girlfriend dump him? I watched his tattooed arm lift a cell phone to his ear. Adjusting my vantage point, I wanted to see what building he was parked in front of – a veterinary hospital. I wanted to go knock on his window and offer a hug, praise him for being a real man, tell him I have lost 4 dogs in my life, one just 2 ½ years ago.

Why do we expect men not to cry? Why do we equate tears to weakness?

My dad was a crier. My mom, not so much. Granted dad was mentally ill, but mom thought he cried too much for a man.

My husband cried at our wedding and to this day we lovingly tease each other about who started crying first. Naturally because I am a crier, people think I cried first. My husband insists he started crying because I was already teary eyed. Does it matter? So what if he cried first. But society has drilled it into the male psyche that crying is weak, feminine, unnatural.

It’s okay if men cry over a lost child, terminally ill wife, during the trauma of war, if a pet dies or of course, if they are gay. There is a fine line about when it is okay for a man to cry. And it all starts when they are boys. Don’t cry Tommy, you’re a boy, buck up.  At the age of five, my son is already labeled as sensitive, because he has a huge heart and cries when he misses his dog who died 2 ½ years ago. Cries when he doesn’t get his way. We stick a ball in their hands, rub dirt on their face and encourage them to go…be a boy. It sucks.

Nothing was sexier than that man outside of the veterinary hospital crying…and he wasn’t even my type. Nothing is sexier than a man being real and letting his tears fall on his face.


Rules – Made To Be Broken? by J.G. McGlothern August 11, 2009

Filed under: writer mom — heartwriter @ 3:32 am

On the hottest day of the year last month, when Seattle temperatures hit record breaking numbers – we headed to Block Buster, stocked up on family friendly classics and hibernated in the basement.  That afternoon we watched three movies in a row, ate snacks out of bags, ate dinner in front of the television and had dessert, twice.  Temperatures higher than 72 can turn me into the Wicked Witch of the West.  At 103 I was looking for my broom.  Rules needed to be broken if my sanity was going to be maintained, children were going to stay alive, I wasn’t going to fly the coop.

Taking a break from the movies and getting more Gatorade upstairs in the hot kitchen I thought, What am I doing? It’s a beautiful summer day. – hotter than hell, but a lovely day – and we are inside.  My questioning was brief for I remembered two happy children were sitting downstairs.  Beat and tired from playing hard outside all morning.  Doing this movie thing all afternoon and evening wasn’t going to turn them into couch potatoes.

We set rules for our kids out of love, out of a desire to raise well-rounded, respectful, loving children.  Every household creates their own guidelines and enforces their rules either strictly or loosely, dependent on how the parents were raised themselves – their guilt factor – their standards – their personalities.  Kids need rules.  Kids need to know their boundaries.

Growing up with a single mom, with all my siblings old enough to be living on their own, I believe my mom didn’t set a lot of rules for me, out of guilt for leaving me alone much of the time while she was at work. Then when I was a senior in high school she rewrote the book, giving me a curfew for the first time in my life.  She was torn between giving me my freedom and keeping me out of trouble.

Now as a parent I am faced with the same thing.  I want my children to enjoy the pleasure other kids get from watching that STUPID SPONGE named BOB but I don’t want them to remember the TV lineup like I do from my childhood: Speed Racer, Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Giligan’s Island, Leave It To Beaver, The Partridge Family……..the 6 o’clock news.

Today we have certain channels they can watch – no TV after dinner – and although my kids know who Sponge Bob is, they have no idea what time he is “on” or which channel.

When we veer from the norm and hole up in the basement to watch The Wizard of Oz for the first time after just having watched Brother Bear and High School Musical 3 – they appreciate the rules being broken.  They don’t expect it the next day and they still are respectful when it is time to put away the ice cream and turn off the boob-tube.

The other day when I walked our dog around Greenlake, I had the rule book thrown at me. By a stranger non-the-less.  Walking our very friendly, incredibly social, 8 month old puppy around the lake I was aware of how patient he was seeing all these dogs pass us on their leashes.  He had never seen so many dogs at once and not have any of them pay attention to him.  Until we passed Cocoa.  Cocoa was a Labor-doodle who clearly thought wearing a leash was for the birds.  After a brief exchange with the dog’s owner, we agreed to let them play on the grassy patch away from the walkers and their leashed dogs.  All they wanted to do was stretch their legs before going back to obediently walking aside their owner.  A little dog humping can do wonders.  A romp here, a chase there, a little growl and spit swap.  The two had been at it for less than five minutes when the Grim Reaper walked by us.  There’s a leash law here you know.  I wish you would leash your dog. I obediently hooked my dog back up to his leash and said my reluctant goodbye to my dog’s new best friend’s owner.   (Sometimes I’m too obedient for my own good. Catholic guilt perhaps.)

Shortly after this, a cyclist past me with her mumbled remark that I was walking in the “wheel” lane not the “feet” lane.  The only wheels I past the entire hour walking around the lake.  I wasn’t hurting anyone. Yes, I was breaking the rules, but was anyone getting hurt or just merely inconvenienced?  Their comfort level broken.  Boundaries crossed.

I understand the need for children to have rules far better than I understand my need for them.  Call me hypocritical.  Call me the Wicked Witch or the Grim Reaper.  Just don’t call me late for dinner. That’s at 5:30.  No later.  And not in front of the TV………unless it’s 103 degrees outside.