Monday, June 14, 2010

Safety in Numbers

I like to watch, I like to look, I’m a bit ashamed to admit it, but I’m a Facebook voyeur. I love looking at all of the pictures and profiles of people I knew 30, maybe even 40 years ago. I confess, with chagrin, I really enjoy seeing how everyone has aged, how many kids they have and what their favorite songs are. I can't believe how some of these people have aged when I look just the same and I can’t believe they all turned out to be Republicans.

Marty and I will occasionally peruse the photo sections of people she knows and it's a great way for her to reconnect. She has some of the same voyeuristic instincts and often provides a running commentary on some of the pictures. Marty’s sarcasm would have made for some classic status updates.

Over the last year I have had the pleasure of finding and reengaging, electronically, with a lot of old friends and one or two old flames. Yes, I did have girlfriends before Marty, I know it's hard to believe that Marty's Husband was a player, or is that playa? Okay, I was a player only if you think George Gobel was a player, and most of you never heard of him.

One of these old flames wrote me a message recently. She said she had found someone, she was happy and she was moving. Besides being pleased for her pleasure and her courage and willingness to take one more leap of faith, one of the things she wrote really caught my eye, she wrote, "my kids and my family are really excited." I take this to mean they are pleased with her reunion and the accompanying move.

I like that her family is happy for her, I like that her family is supportive of her reaching for new things, I like that it matters to her. Families and children can have such a profound impact on our lives, for some it's good, I know for others it can be a nightmare. Marty and I are lucky, for us, our family makes life better.

This weekend Marty and my entire family enjoyed time together at the wedding of Presbyterian preacher Kate and Liverpoolian Lee. Being with my family, my entire family, at these events reminds me of how much I enjoy being with our children, even without the grandchild. Being at these events remind me of how forever connected we are.

As I sat in the chapel and listened to Kate and Lee swear love, faith and allegiance to each other I couldn't help but feel a real sense of contentment that we were all there, we were all together enjoying this one moment in time. The sense of connection made me feel strong; it made me feel things were right; it made me feel blessed that Marty was still with us and we could all be together.

It's strange and a bit wonderful how we as parents move through our lives wanting our children to be happy and wanting to be excited for their life choices. It's equally strange and wonderful how somewhere along the way another aspect of life dawns and we begin to want our children to be excited and happy for our life choices and how we are living; we begin to seek their approval as they once sought ours.

I'm not sure when it started to matter but somewhere along the line I developed this need for my children to approve, to like, to respect how Marty and I are living our lives. They are really good at challenging me to find ways to keep Marty involved and engaged. Some times I accept this input graciously, other times I kind of chafe against the thought of the child leading the parent, but then I remember they are no longer children, they are adults who love and honor their Mom and want to help us with our journey. How lucky we are.

It is a strange and wonderful trip. I’m grateful, regardless of my demeanor, for all of my family and their desire to help us and include us. It makes the frightening choices we sometimes have to make a little less frightening because there is safety in numbers, there is security in connection.

To my red-headed ex-flame, go forth with the support of your children and family; be courageous in your choices. You will survive, you will prosper. You won’t make these steps without fear, failure and challenges, but it’s clear you won’t be alone on your journey, and that makes it survivable.

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