They’ve Changed

There were a lot of family around here during the holidays. I mean, a lot. My family structure is fluid, the configuration changing rapidly and in interesting combinations. People come and go in different ways, births, deaths, marriages and partnerships, divorces, engagements and estrangements.  Relationships morph. Yup, more changes to process.

I’m one step away from the goings on pretty much these days, an observer to the changes, part of the looking forward from back here thing. It’s primarily my offspring, those grown folks, who have to navigate all the transformations, revisions and modifications to our family relationships. (Although there are other members bringing the drama um…involved too.)

When they were young, I lived and breathed for my kids. I loved and nurtured them with everything I had. When they got older they let me know that they would determine how I could love them. Stay in your lane, Mother. My offspring think they decide the level of my involvement in their lives. They don’t really.

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My involvement fluctuates.  I think about all the stuff they’re dealing with and how they handle it. But I don’t say anything. To them. I mostly keep my mouth shut and do what my mother always advised, I watch and pray. Mostly. I’m trying to understand how to be supportive without making suggestions. I’ve talked to other moms (sorry dads, fewer opportunities to talk to you all) of grown kids about the challenges of older parenting so I know I’m not the only one still trying to figure it out. I wrote a poem a few years back when I realized my son and daughters were adults. If you happen to be a parent to grown people maybe you can relate.

Who Are You?

You think they’re strange now,
wait a few years.
You think those tiny people
who don’t understand anything,
who look to you for everything,
who believe you control it all
are complicated?

Wait until they grow up
and dislike you,
because they are
extensions of you,
an essential you,
themselves, but also you.

When you ask yourself why
you are a parent,
wonder if you created them
so you could give yourself
your own love,

when you cry at both
sweet memories
and present truths
you’ll come to realize
how hard kids really are.

(©2018 Kat Tennermann)

And still, I love them. They are smart, wonderful people. And believe me, they’re good to me. I’m grateful for them every day.

 

Butterflies Ain’t Free

How should I tag this post, who knew, never again, don’t let this happen to you?

IMG_1290That little person I play with 4 to 5 times a week told me she likes butterflies. We’ve laughed and pointed when we’ve seen them in the park, flying their colors while weaving back and forth in the air. So who would have blamed me for thinking a trip to the Butterfly Pavilion at the National Museum of Natural History would be a treat for both us. It seemed to me that seeing live butterflies up close and personal would be big fun and educational.

You have to understand, that person doesn’t take trips easily. She can be squeamish and demanding. It turned out she needed TWO pairs of arms to reassure her that the museum was a good idea, because of the butterflies, which she likes. She decided she would be happy to go although she seemed to have some reservations.

IMG_1286So off we went yesterday to the exhibit (I thought it was last week but then I realized it was just that yesterday seemed like it was a week long.) Anyway, I paid and we went. We had to go through the butterfly airlock. It’s to keep the special butterfly air and the butterflies from escaping into the rest of the museum. We emerged from the airlock into the beautiful terrarium-like butterfly space where they have lovely blooming plants and pretty butterflies everywhere. That was supposed to be the major pay-off for packing up all that person’s belongings and walking them and her 2 long city blocks while she gasped for breath in the cold wind. I wanted to see the look of wonder and joy on that face. I had my camera open and ready. Don’t get me wrong, the little person seemed interested, amused even, by the butterflies as long as the weren’t too close and she could look at them from someone else’s shoulders. Remember the special butterfly air I mentioned? They keep it special by blowing mist into the room through pressure hoses. That person didn’t like the mist at all. It came on every three minutes. So the butterflies heard three minutes of screaming followed by three minutes of laughing followed by three minutes of screaming followed by three minutes of laughing. You get the idea. For the sake of the butterflies we cut our visit short. (Do butterflies have ears?)

2011 Natures Best Photography mnh.si
2011 Natures Best Photography mnh.si

After that the little person found the room with all the big color photos of animals. She enjoyed that much more (even though she swore to me she likes butterflies). She ran in her silver pretty shoes from photo to photo identifying the animals. There was a Ba and a Ca and even a Ma and she knew them all. There was a bench where she could also sit and watch a little animal TV, an activity she knows well. She felt very comfortable in that exhibit so who cares that we could have seen it for free at anytime beside the very early morning appointment we had to keep with the butterflies.

I’m going to go ahead and call the trip a success. That little person took a really, really long nap when we got back home, I’ve dropped the big idea of dressing up as the Easter Bunny and that special mist did wonders for my complexion.

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Seriously, the Butterfly Pavilion is a fabulous place (http://www.butterflies.si.edu). One of the volunteers told me that many kids react to the noise of the environment maintenance system so if you want to take a little one, consider their sensitivity level before you go. The Smithsonian museums are unbelievable national resources. I’m having the best time checking them out.