Bending in the Wind

11 Mar

The other day I was pulling feature stories to send to a local high school when I came across the feature I wrote about my friend Dinora.

It hit home. Yet again.

As I stood in my office reading the article again and staring at the photos of Dinora and her beautiful, beaming boys the tears started to come. Last year, cancer stole Dinora from her family and friends. It was a long six-year battle, and she was fierce in her fight. But eventually she lost.

And so did her boys. They lost an amazing mother who gave every breath to them.

As I wiped the tears away, my mind jumped to my own boys. Lord, have they pushed my buttons lately. It’s been a month of yelling and fighting. Joey has threatened to leave home more than once, and honestly, in the moment, I wasn’t too unhappy about his threat.

Then, the morning comes. Everyone is happy in the morning.

When I interviewed Dinora for the story so much of what she said stuck with me. But one thing in particular really hits home during weeks like this.

I asked Dinora, as a mom, how she managed with cancer. How she made it through each day? I couldn’t imagine the strength it took.

Dinora looked at me and smiled. She said it’s not all bad. Cancer helped her put things in perspective. When her son wanted to sit and talk about legos or a video game for hours, she didn’t mind. She stopped and listened. She enjoyed the conversation. She engaged and loved.

There’s a lesson there for me.

I don’t often stop and listen. I don’t always engage. I always love, but I don’t always show it.
Life with my boys seems to be roaring down the highway, and I am pushing the accelerator as hard as I can. At the end of the day, I am exhausted and done. I don’t want to talk about legos. I don’t want to hear about the latest video game. I want to get dinner made, homework completed and teeth brushed. We must get to bed on time.

The rush drives me crazy. It makes me agitated. It makes me a little more than robotic. Push through the night to get to another day. Then the ride begins again.

And then on mornings like today, I hear Dinora’s voice. I feel her presence. And I stop.

This past weekend when Charlie was so excited about a new video game, I told him I didn’t have time to listen. I was doing laundry. Yesterday when JoJo wanted to play a board game, I told him it would have to wait. I had dishes to do. It’s embarrassing to admit this – a little like Cat’s in the Cradle, but it’s the truth. (Damn, the song is stuck in my head. Come on, let’s all sing it now.)

It’s easy for me to push Dinora’s voice away. It’s easy for me to keep careening down the same path.
As this season of Lent begins, I am going to try to listen to Dinora more. I am going to try to let her voice in and let go of this rigid structure.

Any structure I had growing up was self-imposed. I hated that. I wanted structure for my kids. Everyone told me structure is so damn important. And it is. But this rigid structure is breaking me, and it might be breaking my kids.

I won’t throw the structure out the window, but I need to let my building bend in the wind. That won’t be easy for me. For almost a decade, this has been my course. My rigid course.

It’s okay if all of the dishes aren’t done every night. It’s okay if we have cereal for dinner every once in a while. It’s okay if we stay up past bedtime to read one more chapter of a favorite book.
It’s time to bend. It’s time to listen and engage.

Maybe my kids won’t push my buttons so much if I play one more board game, if I listen to one more story. Maybe if I just let go a little, the morning can come all day long.

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