Wednesday, March 28, 2007

pink flamingos to count

this comp book journal page was inspired by a conversation w/ my kids about what i was going to do when they got older. at the time they were about 14 & 16, i was terribly worried about what i would do in life when they outgrew me. i really felt like there was a time in the near future where they would be too busy w/ their own lives and families and careers for there to be much time for me.

i cashed out my retirement at my job and took the kids on a big vacation at 15 & 17, thinking it would be the last time that we had that time to spend together. the times of our family vacations was nearing an end, i thought. we had a wonderful 10 days together that i wouldn't trade for all the world and all the riches in it -- but i have come to a life-changing realization.

my kids aren't going anywhere and they aren't leaving me! they're now 21 & 23 and we spend just as much time together as before. my daughter is now married w/ 2 children of her own, but only lives 6 miles away and we see them very often. my son, at 21, still lives at home while working and working on college. our relationships have changed, but they are still there and still very strong.

now, i first started looking at the time that they would be grown when i first divorced from their father (in 1992) when they were 6 & 8. that was a lot of years and a lot of responsibilities for a single parent to be facing alone. i put parenting and family time as my main priority, thinking that at some point these responsibilities would be lifted from me.

almost as if . . . magically . . . my children would no longer require parental attention after the age of 18. i was terribly disallusioned in thinking that "my job" and "my purpose" would end abruptly then. the disallusionment did give me hope and did help me through some really stressful times. to fill that void, i was planning to purchase a street bike and travel for the summers. since i'm a teacher, i could leave the day after school was out and return the day before school started.

i would have the freedom to just meander from here to there, not worrying about who needed a ride, a doctor appointment, a prescription, a teacher conference, a new outfit for a special occassion. i thought that these things would magically be taken care of by my children who would both be legal age. having had my children young, i had never had the freedom to just come and go as i pleased.

when i first told the kids of my plans to just ride for the summer, my daughter's first response was "well! how will i know where you are?!?" this from the girl who thought i was being too demanding if i wanted to know where she was, what she was doing, who she was w/, and when she would be home. i assured her that i would have a cell phone w/ me and would check in w/ her every single day.

then her next question was, "but what are you going to do?" she didn't understand the concept of just riding for the pleasure of riding or meandering just for the adventure of seeing what i could see. that had no purpose in her eyes. after trying to convince her that it did have a purpose and a meaning to me -- i saw that i was getting no where.

so, as seriously as possible, i looked her in the eye and told her that i was going to ride from florida to alaska and count/document the number of pink flamingo yard ornaments that i found. i would take pictures and make notations about where they were and then bring that back home to show what i had been doing. she thought about it for a bit . . . and then said, "oh, ok."

it's still my plan to buy a street bike in the near future and to ride as much as possible, but i did sort of mess up my plans on that by meeting/falling in love/marrying jerry. his presence does sort of complicate my plans of being "carefree" for months at a time.

although, there are other complications as well -- as i couldn't go more than a week w/o seeing the superspecial little people in my life now. of course i wasn't planning on having them so soon in my life, as i was looking for time off from being a parent before becoming a grandparent -- but life doesn't always cooperate w/ our plans, huh?

since then, pink flamingos have held a special place in my psyche. the people who know me and who have known about this "plan" make it a point to show me things about pink flamingos or send me pictures of pink flamingos. no, i don't want pink flamingos of my own -- i just want to see who has them and where they are located!


Warren Bunch said...

Well, you know the old saying.... Want in one hand and s**t in the other and see which one fills up faster.... It's almost April Fool's Day, and I think it would be hysterical to fill up the yard with flamingos!

And those superspecial little people were my planned intervention to save you from you "needless meandering"! Just joking! Love ya!

SideShowMom said...

Well, did they??