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These are a few things I think every person should know how to do:

1) sew a button on (because not everything comes with Velcro);

2) write a proper letter expressing condolences, gratitude or complaint (because “I’m so sorry!,” “Thanks for the nice…,” and “you suck” are not enough;

3) how to burp a baby and change a diaper (even if you think you’ll never be left alone with a human being who might require either);

4) set a table for dinner (because not everyone knows how in this age of grabbing something on-the-go that comes equipped with a spork, condiments and a napkin wrapped in plastic);

5) how to cook one kick-ass meal with less than five ingredients;

6) how to use a phonebook, a dictionary, a library’s catalog (because not everything will always be accessible electronically in every single place you visit);

7) whether one digs the hole before or after when answering the call of nature in the wild;

8) how to change a flat tire;

9) what Rick really tells Sam in Casablanca when he wants “As Time Goes By” played;

10) how to clean a kid’s sudden outburst of “artwork” on a wall painted with matte paint, especially since they will always choose Maroon, Pine Green, Forest Green, Navy Blue and Purple from the Crayola box…(try baby wipes or a white eraser)…

 

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I have survived an entire posting without hearing a single word about the Xmas motif panties.  I don’t know if I’m relieved or disappointed.  This was a big deal for me to confess…I had never mentioned that to anyone other than my husband, and I only told him because he was under the mistaken impression that I am slightly more sophisticated than I really am.

I now offer the second thing in my list of “things I had to do to get here”:

Much to my mother’s chagrin, I was the reluctant child.  I was reluctant to do anything and everything that might be even remotely pleasing to my parents.  This has nothing to do with me being a rebel.  No, no, no…I was anything but a rebel.  I was downright dowdy and nerdy, but stubborn as a mule in spite of my apparent meekness.  My special combination of stubbornness and meekness ultimately led down the path of catastrophe.

Ahem!  The second thing I did to get “here” was perform a whimsical, joyful, uncharacteristically agile song-and-dance number down the path to catastrophe.  Remember Barbra Streisand singing “Before the Parade Passes By” in Hello, Dolly!?  That was me…brass band and all.  Defiantly raging against…I don’t know what I was REALLY raging against.  I’ll get back to you on that one.

I don’t do things half-assed…I don’t just fall, I crash with flair!  I was the mouse that roared…but I was mostly roaring at myself.  In hindsight, I have yet to figure out why I had to be so passive-aggressive; my parents had their expectations and I somehow felt I had to fall short of those in order to live up to my own.

Translation: since I wasn’t allowed the freedom to decide where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do, I was going to sabotage anything remotely resembling an opportunity to carve a niche for myself anywhere. I opted to proactively pursue burning bridges, screaming against battlements and slinging mud…downwind.

I didn’t earn a degree until my third college.  For some strange reason, I chose to believe that my mother knew better than I did, even if at the same time I was rebelling against her.  Instead of directing my efforts towards edging away from my mother’s control, I merely kicked and screamed without propelling myself one single centimeter off the predetermined course.

I shot myself in the foot.  I poked a hole in the bottom of my canoe…while paddling up the creek.  Was this a mistake?  Yes, probably.  Self-sabotage is an ugly, ugly thing, but it serves a purpose…at least in my case.

What would have been different if I had not been invited to leave two institutions of higher education before graduating from the third?  I don’t want to get too philosophical about this, but I do believe that I would have skipped a groove and played an entirely different song or, at least, gotten entirely stuck on a different part of the tune.

Anyway…to get “here” I had to shoot myself in the foot (figuratively), and the wound had to get infected.  Also: I had to not follow doctor’s orders for its care, and I had to be stubborn.  One can only heal if one is willing to participate in the healing process by doing something other than complain about how long it’s taking, how much it hurts, how it will scar.  At the end of the day, the “here” we arrive at, where we get settled and -hopefully- blossom is of our own choosing even if we like to think other people interfered in our deviation from the intended course.

What did I learn from this meek rebellion of mine which affected mostly the outcome of my life?  Everything works out in the end.   Perhaps the way it works out is not glorious or spectacular, but it’s your own.  I learned that I have been relinquishing control of my children’s lives since they were born, and I that the more tightly I hang on to that control, the more difficult it is to accept the normal course of things.

I shot myself in the foot…and it took a while for it to heal, but a lot of the growing and maturing I’ve done over time took place while I was healing.  There’s a scar there, but it’s not so unsightly that I can’t look at it, touch it, and talk about it.  I learned not to blame everyone else for my decisions.  I learned that the mouse that roars eventually goes back to making eek, eek, eek sounds…hence the animation industry’s fascination with mice.  I learned that for every single incident that makes me want to yell at my children, I have one in my background that will immediately cause me to bite my tongue and take a deep breath.

So…second thing I did to get to where I am today: I had to make a muck of things so I could figure out that parts of it get cleaned up, parts are irreparable and life goes on, whether we like it the way it is or not.