Tag Archive: parenting

Liquid Diamonds – The Most Valuable Diamonds of All

Water over kids hands

I’d like to think we all have a moment, or, if we’re lucky, many moments, when we are suddenly and unmistakably drawn–pulled, even–from our inward-turned world of daily life, when we’re shown something that opens our eyes–and opens us–almost turning us inside out, so we look OUTward.  It is in these moments that we really SEE who or what is right there in front of us, seemingly put three for us, and us alone, at that precise moment, to notice, take in , to be inspired by, to love, to share and to learn from.  Or, we are given the chance to see it for some purpose to be revealed to us later, but we know to tuck it away because it is extraordinary in that moment.  Our senses are heightened, our minds are opened and focused solely on that moment, that something, that someone.

That something could be present in our lives already, even on a daily basis, yet be so mundane, so routine or so seemingly insignificant that it doesn’t register as anything other than ordinary and expected.  Or, it could be a sensation, a vision, a sound, a feeling, an awareness, that we have never experienced until that moment, and it catches our full attention and may even move us deeply.

Sound familiar?  Are you picturing fireworks, bells and whistles, orchestral or angelic soundtracks or some other dramatic accompaniment to the moment of “enlightenment”?  Or, do you imagine complete quiet , hushed, pleasant sounds from nature, repeated mantra or the steady soundtrack of familiar voices and daily activities humming along in the background, as you uncover a gentle reminder about the importance of small, simple things in a gradual, layer-by-layer excavation?  Do you picture a surge of deep emotion welling up inside you and spilling over in the form of tears…or laughter?  Will the moment be fleeting, or be forever teched in your heart and mind?

One of these “moments” in my life happened at a time when I believe I really needed it, which is when, at least in my experience, we are most likely to be shown and surprised by them.

My two children, then five and seven, and I were outside in our yard one hot summer afternoon.  They were playing with a favorite water toy–a waterway, with multiple pieces, curves and drops and a pump to raise and lower the water level, like a canal, and several different little boats to travel the route they created.  I had also filled 2 tubs with shaving cream for them to be silly with, too.  They had sunblock on, an umbrella to play under, and two icy cold drinks in their spill-proof cups, each.  Just shy of patting myself on the back for thinking of everything they’d need, “I’m all set!”I thought.  Soon, I was deeply engrossed in clearing out my garden beds anticipating momentarily getting some long overdue planting done.

All was well, until, as young kids are wont to do, my two got bored with the items at hand, and began asking for “new stuff” to play with.  Squirt guns, the small, impossible to fill, empty-in-two-squirts kind that I should have known better than to have bought, were dropped at my feet.  “Mom?  Mom?  MOM!  Can you fill these NOW?  Please?  I want the blue one!  You get the red one!”  Sigh…  I complied, and off they went.  I had barely gotten my gardening gloves back on when they were back, with the same, urgent request, now bordering on “demand”, since one of them had lost the previous “battle” and gotten sprayed in the face by the other, who was declaring “victory”.  The fourth time they returned, out of “ammunition” and getting crankier by the moment (as was I), I decided it was time to remind them that “Mommy has work to do, and I can’t keep stopping every five seconds (a classic use of exaggeration by a flustered mom) to fill these guys!”  They looked at me dejectedly, and I felt that lousy feeling of frustration and guilt combined, knowing the work I was hoping to do was not going to get done (frustration), and the reason why was because my kids needed/wanted me to help them and play with them and I was doing something else instead (guilt).

I set down my tools and went into the garage to get the two Fire Hose Hero backpack pump-action water sprayers that resembled the packs and hoses firemen might carry to put out a fire.  My two LOVED the fire department, and had won a pizza party the Fall before for “best costumes” at the department’s Halloween tour and costume contest.  They sprayers held a little under a gallon of water, and they were a hit when I brought them out and filled them.  One quick demonstration of how to use them, and they were suited up and off, running around the yard, squealing with delight.  They loved them, and I was happy to get back to work.  But they were SO happy that they were back within five minutes, begging me to fill them again…and again…and I had managed to get only two plants in the ground, with eight more to go.  Envisioning having to abandon what I wanted to do, and not pleased, I said, “Guys, look.  I need to get these plants in the ground!  This is the last time I’m filling these!”

As I reached for the hose to fill my son’s sprayer, he reached out his little hand and held it, palm up, in the stream of water pouring from the hose.  The water missed the opening and coursed over the toy and onto my pants and shoes and his,  In the split second that my mind registered, “Oh, great!  What a mess!  Now there’s no way I’ll get this done!”, my eyes caught sight of something I may never have seen–really SEEN, had I not been granted the gift of “a moment”, that particular moment, to see it.  I have never forgotten eh vision,the feeling and the impact that one moment had on me…

I watched the water flow out of the hose and over his palm.  It was crystal clear, like liquid diamonds, glinting in the brilliant summer sun, and flowing in a  tiny river over his warm and dirt-smudged little hand.  He was open to the joy and the excitement of that moment, and was elated.  He held a little-boy handful of sparkling, liquid diamonds, made of just plain water and sunshine.  But, in that instant, I  saw and felt with my whole being the beauty of what I was witnessing, as simple and ordinary as it may have otherwise been…and time slowed and my heart sped.  Ohhh…his little fingers curled in delight at the sensation of the cool water on his warm skin, and then, he looked up at me and laughed, pure joy written all over his face, and he said, “Again, Mommy!  Do it again!”, and I realized I had liquid diamonds in my eyes and running down my cheeks.

My daughter came bounding over with her Fire Hose Hero sprayer dragging behind her in the grass, and dropping it, laughed and held out both of her small hands, palms up, and the cool water with the sunshine gave her handfuls of liquid diamonds, too.  We were so very rich, my kids and I, in that moment.

Looking down at their sun-kissed blond heads, and hearing their delighted squeals as the water missed their hands and got them wet (my aim was off because there were so many diamonds in my eyes, too many to collect before more came).  I felt a flood of joy and a deep, overwhelming gratitude for the gift, right then and there, of being turned OUTward, eyes opened, and heart softened for me to truly SEE  and FEEL the blessing of my children, my life with them, and the profound gift of being their mother, all in that single, simple sweet moment.  I turned the stream onto my own open palm, watched the sun glinting off it, and felt my whole self washed of all that had closed my heart and my mind,  so as to allow it to be written in my mind and on my heart that THAT, the awakening to a moment of new vision, and moments like it,  are what matter most .

The plants got planted–eventually.  The toys the kids loved then were replaced by book series after book series, two-wheeler bikes were mastered and ridden up and down the street til dusk, and many a kickball game was played with bases that never mattered much when the inevitable silliness ensued.

1016643_716Time passed, somehow faster with each passing year.  Mastery of the eye-roll, then the impatient, “I’ve got better things to do than listen to this”, arms-folded, heavy sigh, look away, foot tap,  and other modes of communicating, like the grunt, the mumble, the silent treatment, and the “WHAAA_TT?” from behind a closed bedroom door when called, rival the complexity of the signals passed between   a major league catcher and his pitcher, and prove to be just as frustrating and confusing to the opposing team, aka, this mom.  But as proficient as they became these, so, too, did they learn to sneak in a gentle hip check or a silly joke, or a “Mom?  Got a minute?” prelude to an unexpected and priceless heart-to-heart about the ups and downs of middle school and high school life.  Hugs from mom being accepted and even reciprocated, eye contact for more than a millisecond, and moments of laughter–and tears…all these have learned to recognize as gifts; these moments, of little hands full of liquid diamonds in the sun, and I am grateful and buoyed up by them, especially on days when it feels like I am sinking.

I know now that the tough stuff will get better, and that we will mature beyond these trying years.  But, in many ways, especially some days, I want time to slow, or even stop, before my two continue that race down the road to adulthood.  I want more handfuls of diamonds days to heal and set my mind and heart right again.  But then, I remember to stop.  I look.  I SEE.  I say the words, “I am thankful.” and those moments, though they may sometimes take a little longer to recognize, or are a bit more subtle and less brilliant now, reveal themselves to me just when I most need them, and as I open my hands, I see them full of diamonds and hear my children’s laughter. 

The Author:  Kathy Clark

“Live to Give” typifies her heart’s truest desire.  She maintains her physical and mental health, youthful energy and sanity through daily fitness training (including Kenpo Karate, cross-training, running, snowshoeing and woods-walks with friends, and will compete in her second Tough Mudder this year).  She loves her kids, siblings and friends.  Clark is a 54 year-old (single) mom of two teenagers.  She is an RN who is happiest helping others in every way possible; her mantra, “Love with her whole heart.”

Kathy Clark

Her hope is to continue to Do Good through reaching out to others through ThinkGood, sharing with all of you her energy and appreciation for the (sometimes hidden-suddenly revealed) moments of beauty in life.

From Ann-Marie Bland, founder of Think Good: My grandmother used to say, “The wall pictures have ears.”  I thought at the time it is when she started losing her marbles.  I later found out she was talking about our children.  Her point was “our children are always watching and listening.”   They observe and take everything in, including how we act, treat others, and treat themselves.  They learn what the see, not what they hear.  Enjoy!

“When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately wanted to paint another one.

I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind to animals.

I saw you make my favorite cake for me and I learned that little things can be the special things in life.

I heard you say a prayer, and I knew there is a God I could always talk to and I learned to trust in God.

I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other.Image

I saw you give of your time and money to help people who had nothing and I learned that those who have somethingshould give to those who don’t.

I felt you kiss me good night and I felt loved and safe.

I saw you take care of our house and everyone in it and I
learned we have to take care of what we are given.

I saw how you handled your responsibilities, even when you didn’t feel good, and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grow up.

I saw tears come from your eyes and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but its all right to cry.

I saw that you cared and I wanted to be everything I could be.

I watched you, and I learned most of life’s lessons I need to
know to be a good and productive person when I grow up.

I looked at you and wanted to say, ‘Thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn’t looking.’”

Each one of us – whether Parent, Grandparent or Friend – can influence the Life of a Child… Be a GOOD influence.

I Stopped and Looked at My Kids: OMG

It hit me like a ton of bricks last week. I was at the community pool, looking around to see what my kids were up to. Then I really looked at them. The big one was playing with her friends, her long arms and legs splashing. The little one was throwing herself off the diving board like a boss. The boy was in the shade, cracking jokes with his buddies. As I sat there drinking lukewarm coffee, I realized, Oh my God. Here I am.

Let me backtrack for a second. The day before had been rough. I’d woken up determined that it was going to be great. That I would not go to bed that night, replaying all my parenting mistakes, per usual. And I spent the entire day being a really good mom. I was engaged and understanding. I was firm but kind. I did not yell at anyone or get distracted by my phone. I was like this all day and it was freaking exhausting.

And of course it was the same day that my kids decided to turn our house into Thunderdome, fighting with each other constantly. I thought ordering a pizza for dinner would help turn it around. Then this happened:

sweet spotThis day really wasn’t going to end any other way.

Have you ever had a day like that? Where everything just degenerates into a huge goat rodeo? It was awful. So there I was the next morning at the pool, really looking at my kids. And even though we were still all fresh from the goat rodeo, I realized:

  • Those are my kids right there: swimming and healthy and beautiful.
  • Wait. Hold up. I’m not sitting in the too-warm baby pool, trying to pretend that it’s not disgusting.
  • And I’m not changing diapers in the sweltering summer heat because everyone in my family can wipe their own nethers.
  • I haven’t had to tell anyone not to drink the pool water this summer.
  • I haven’t used a stroller in over a year.
  • We are all (mostly) sleeping through the night.
  • They hardly ever scream “mommy mommy mommy MOMMMYYY!!!” every two minutes anymore.
  • I can pee by myself (almost 40 percent of the time).
  • They are sort of independent and (somewhat) helpful lately.
  • Yet they still need me and want me to be with them.
  • I can get hugs and kisses and snuggles whenever I want.
  • But they can also take out the garbage.
  • They’re big, but they’re still little.

I’m in the sweet spot.

I sat there for a moment and let it sink in. I’ve been so deep in The Blur for so many years. Not sleeping, eating cold mac and cheese off of Winnie the Pooh plates. Every day determined by nap schedules, nursing, diaper changes and preschool pick up. But that has changed over the past year or so, without me even noticing.

The Blur will do that to you, though it’s starting to soften around the edges. No. That’s a bad analogy. It’s not softening at all, in fact it’s the opposite. It’s sharpening around the edges. Things are coming into focus and I’m beginning to see clearly.

I get it now. They were right. Everyone who said it would go by so fast. It’s happening to me. It’s whizzing by. When my three kids were very little, the days were so long and my world felt very small and sometimes very lonely. If the days were long, the nights were longer. The hour before my husband got home from work? It took three days to get through that hour.

But there was also the smell of the top of their baby heads. And the pudgy, little kissable feet, that are now big and stinky. Their bodies that used to be part of me, are now entirely their own. They’re not little anymore. That part of my life is over. And I find myself here, with three medium sized kids, in the sweet spot. I’m equal parts grateful and terrified.

Oh God, please let this time last. Please slow it down a little bit. I didn’t even realize we were here until the moment was half over. And what’s coming next? Snapchat? Pimples, bras, curfews, pressure to make the same bad choices I did and just… All of it. I can wait for that. Can I just stay here with them a little longer? Can you please keep them safe and beautiful and young just a little while longer?

I spent all day mulling over the sweet spot, my perspective on yesterday’s disasters flipped around. In hindsight, the pizza on the driveway was kind of funny.

That night I had a long conversation with my kids about how they thought our summer was going. At one point, my 8-year-old son started talking about something he’d learned during swim team. Something about pushing off the wall and gliding before you take the first stroke. He was waving his arms and twisting his tanned, skinny torso around the kitchen to demonstrate. Then he stopped — still as a statue — with one arm curved high above him, his face turned and lifted upward.


sweet spot

And I explained to him that I had just been thinking about the sweet spot. And how I had figured out that we were in one right now — as a family. He looked at me with pity in his eyes. It is delightful to be patronized by a third grader. He shrugged and looked at his sisters.

“You know there’s a sweet spot in baseball, too, ” I said.

The boy perked up. He loves baseball. “It’s when a hitter swings, and the ball makes contact with the bat in the perfect place. It’s when everything lines up just right and everything is where it’s supposed to be. And the ball flies. It just soars. It makes a noise. Do you know what I’m talking about?”

He nodded and so did the girls. They’d heard the noise before. They’d seen the ball jump off the bat and fly away. Away from the person who’d hit it perfectly.

I guess the constipated look came back to my face, but this time my kids just shook their heads and went into the other room to watch Call of the Wildman. They left me alone in the kitchen, awkwardly swallowing back tears.

I guess it’s OK that the sweet spot is fleeting. It’s supposed to be. It has to be. As with everything else, it has a time and a purpose. I think we’re supposed to use the sweet spot to align ourselves for whatever is going to come next. To put all the pieces together as well as we can, for as long as we can. So that if we’re very lucky, our kids can glide forward and know when to turn and when to breathe and when to start to kicking.

If raising children is like baseball or swimming, getting it right must be a cocktail of luck, faith, and showing up every day to do the work. And of course, never quitting (even when it all seems like a hopeless goat rodeo). And if you do it well, they won’t just leave you. When they go, they will soar away. And all you can hope is that you set them up TO BE COMPLETELY AWESOME.

Taken from the Huffington Post
Julianna W. Miner has three kids, ages 4, 8 and 10. She teaches at a college she couldn’t have gotten into because she made bad choices in high school. Her blog is Rants from Mommyland, where this post originally appeared.


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