Last week I was in Oregon for my brother’s graduation. I am SO PROUD of John for his work at Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine and I am SO PROUD of his wife, Anna, for her work in architecture at the University of Oregon. I wasn’t well enough to travel to their wedding last fall (but “attended” via ustream, thanks to my brother’s new brother-in-law!), but I put this on my calendar in January and have been working up to it all Spring.
I flew, with the kids and husband, to Oregon last week, and had amazing adventures. We visited Monmouth Falls, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (on $2 day! with an amazing exhibit on the technology behind the Chronicles of Narnia films!), we went to graduation and had Dungeness crab for lunch afterwards. We drove by Powell’s Books, and I ducked inside for a five-minute grab of children’s books (which was awesome!). We took family pictures and giggled and laughed as the photographer tried to get all eight of us to smile (eyes open!) at the same time.
We sat and talked around their tumbled glass firepit, and the children played Bocci ball with John until we all were exhausted.
The next day, we went to the beach, where we played in the sand and walked on the rocks and built tiny dams in the tidepools until the waves washed them away. My little ones scrambled up a terribly high rock while the three of us, my husband, brother, and I stood below. My brother was there for safety, he a certified river rescue guide in addition to a brand-new doctor of medicine, and I of course was there as the inwardly nervous outwardly cheering mom. They made it to the top, and pumped their fists in the air with achievement, and my heart sang for them and the experience. They tried something hard, and they accomplished it.
And that is what it is all about some days. Pushing each other to try something hard, and celebrating the accomplishments. We’ve been working on this with little things at home, things like perfecting age-appropriate behavior that has sometimes suffered as we get nervous or sad or scared, and eliminating thumbsucking and armsucking and physical comforts that have helped my little boys cope through the years, trying to replace those things with more age-appropriate coping mechanisms, and helping them see themselves as strong.
They are strong, you know. They are so strong, and I am so proud of these little ones for all they’ve done and all they’ve been through, and I’m learning not to coddle them so much, for they are strong, and they can do this.
We all can do this.
I believe in them, and I believe in John and Anna as they set off to make a new life in another state, and I am learning to believe in myself, that I can spend this time LIVING not dying and clutching magical moments out of nowhere, making them for the children of course, but also for my husband and me, for we matter too, and I know that sounds ridiculous, unless maybe you’re a mother too, who wants everything for her kids and sometimes, somehow forgets to still want it for herself.
At a little store on the coast in Florence, Oregon, I discovered the legend of the Japanese floats. For many years, these glass balls, used to float fishing nets, would wash up along the Oregon coast and come to rest in the sand, a thing of unexpected beauty for early risers to find on their morning walk along the beach. They are rarely found now, but a few years ago, a local glassmaker began to reproduce them, and volunteers would sneak out to the beaches and hide them among the grass, or the tidepools, or the rocks. They added beauty to the world.
There were lupines everywhere, and that reminded me of the lovely children’s story (Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney) about the lupine lady, who wanted to travel and see far away places, to come home and live by the sea, and to do something to make the world more beautiful. I read this to the children a lot when they were toddlers, sometimes reading it “to do something to make the world better,” or “to do something to make a difference.” I should get it out and read it again, to myself, the soothing words sweeping over the quiet room, reassuring me that we need not all do everything ourselves. Not all of us will be the greatest physicists in the world; in fact, only one will be. But all of us, even those the world labels “terminal” and difficult and who some would rather not see, all of us can still make a difference.
I travel next week to the Type A Parent conference as the guest of Bloganthropy, an organization that recognizes women bloggers using social media to support a good cause. The cause is cancer action, and I’m being recognized for encouraging you to join the Army of Women. I’m so grateful for the recognition, because it brings more attention to the Army of Women and to the LympheDIVA/Crickett’s Answer to Cancer partnership providing free lymphedema sleeves for those who need them, but I am equally grateful for the push that it gives me to push beyond my limitations and work a little harder.
Next week, I travel. Again.
I can’t wait to see what I learn there!