Don’t Climb that Ladder! Living out the Cycle of Life and Love

I’ll love you forever. 

I’ll like you for always. 

As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.

This is the  lullaby of a mother to her son in Robert Munsch’s beloved picture book, Love you Forever.

This mother crawls across the floor of her son’s  bedroom, and if he is fast asleep, she cradles him on her lap while reciting the lullaby.  She does this when he is a baby, a toddler, a 9-year old, a teenager, and ultimately an adult.  Yes, an adult.

Finally the mother is too old and sick to come to her son, so he visits her.  And as he cradles and rocks his mother, he repeats the familiar words, “I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always.  As long as I’m living, my mommy you’ll be.”

After his mother dies, the son goes into the room of his own baby daughter, picks her up from her crib, cradles her, and recites the lullaby.  And so the cycle continues.

Now, it is pure sacrilege to utter a word of criticism regarding this beloved classic. Maria Shriver has praised the book, saying she could not read it through without crying.  It was even featured in an episode of  “Friends”  when Joey gives a dramatic reading at Emma’s 1-year birthday, leaving everyone overcome with tears.

But as for me, my tears dry up at the scene where the mom goes to her adult son’s house.

She brings a ladder and climbs through his bedroom window!

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Publishers Weekly said about this part of the story, “Either it moves you to tears and you love it, or it makes your skin crawl and you detest it.”   Another critic said, “It’s either a touching account of a mother’s unending love or the ultimate helicopter parenting gone bad.”

I find this scene downright creepy.  But maybe that is because, if I’m truly honest, my heart’s desire is to do the very same thing.  I am jealous of those mother-daughter relationships where they talk or text each other multiple times a day.

But I also know that healthy detachment allows grown children to find their own path and parents to find their own lives while remaining cheerleaders, pray-ers, safety nets, listening ears.

So we should probably resist the urge to climb into our kid’s bedroom window in the dead of night.  Much as we want to.

That said, I am going in the garage right now to make sure the ladder is in working order and will fit in the back of our SUV.

Joy here: 

Where was I in 1986 when this children’s picture book was published?? I don’t remember it at all.  In fact, I never heard of it.  I was a bit busy at the time, having made the decision to move back to New York City and finding out I was pregnant with our 1st child.  Nevertheless, a book that so many people know and love (some hate) and that won The Parent’s Choice Gold Award, as well as selling 30 million copies worldwide, is hard to miss!

I listened to it being read on a You Tube video this morning. While sweet, endearing, and touching, it’s a bit of an over the top obsessive mother child story (in my opinion). Cradling your teenage child at 17?!!  Child services might be called in today!!!

I could picture SNL doing a skit on this and having a blast doing so, but I also smiled to myself.  It dovetailed so well with my thoughts on letting go and over texting my adult children.  What’s the right amount of space?  Will they reach out if they really need me or should I be happy that they are trying to work out their own issues?

I wonder how tall a ladder I would need to reach my daughter’s 2nd floor apt?  Kidding!!

Today’s Takeaway…

-A bond between a mother and child is powerful, and for most of us, lasts until our last breath of life.

-Know when to pull back and when to dive in.  It takes practice!  Maybe, by the time your children have children of their own, you’ll get it right!!

As always, enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

Love Factually

I recently had dinner with Sandra (pseudonym), a woman who personifies love and joy.  And not the Pollyanna kind.   Over her 60 plus years, Sandra has battled cancer more than once, heart disease, brain surgery, and broken bones.  She’s the mother of two boys with special needs, now approaching their 20s, her constant companions..

But despite her challenges, Sandra is always on the lookout for others in need. She smiles a lot and basically, shows off God.   “Tell me about your life,” she says.   “How can I pray for you?”

During dinner Sandra brought out her ring of Bible verses on Love which she and her sons are memorizing – Verses for Purses.

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Her son, Mike, with hand signals and guidance from his mom, quoted the first verse on the ring — Romans 12:10 –  “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”   Mike returned to his video game and Sandra beamed with pride.

Later that night, sitting in my car, I reached for the keys.  Wouldn’t you know it – Sandra being Sandra – had slipped her Purse-Verse ring into MY purse!  I smiled all the way home marveling at this woman who honors others above herself.  (She also enjoys wine and a good joke, by the way — lest you think her too angelic!)

So how to be more like Sandra, a Baby Boomer who is relishing her life even in the midst of weighty challenges?

 

Back to Verses for Purses.   Be devoted to one another in love.

But to be devoted to one another, we may need to love ourselves first.  And that takes intentionality.  Best selling author, Louise Hay, has written a book called Mirror Work which entails a 21 day program for learning to love yourself better – without slipping into narcissism.  One reviewer writes,

“Our experience of life mirrors our relationship with ourselves; unless we see ourselves as lovable, the world can be a dark and lonely place. Mirror work—looking at oneself in a mirror and repeating positive affirmations—is Louise’s powerful method for learning to love oneself and experience the world as a safe and loving place.”

 

OK, apologies to Ms. Hay, but I will not be looking in a mirror and saying affirmations (a la Stuart Smiley on SNL).  However, I will give myself the occasional talking-to, especially on Valentines Day.

I am a child of God.  I am dearly loved.  I am also a work in progress!  And today, I will smile more, love more, live better – because the days are short and life is a precious gift.

And I will also look for someone else’s purse to drop a verse ring into.  (I ordered an Amazon shipment!)    So when we’re together, if you’d rather not find a surprise the next day, may I suggest you keep your purse on your lap!

Today’s Takeaway –

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Happy Valentines Day, Loved Ones!!

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my grandmother’s trunk, I packed a…

Remember that memory game where each person adds to the accumulation in Grandma’s trunk?

My friend, Mary Rose, offered this advice as I prepared for a trip, “Don’t forget to pack your love, joy, and peace.”

My suitcase brims with such each morning.  But come evening, reflecting on the day gone by, I note a lack of love, a shortage of peace, and questionable joy.  My suitcase has snuck in self-promotion and a loose tongue, partly the result of one too many glasses of wine.

So with time at a premium for us Baby Boomers, join me in packing a trunk focused on love, joy, and peace.

Many faith practices entail prayer rituals exercised three times a day.  How about setting our phones to remind us to pause periodically for a moment of gratitude, or simply an acknowledgement of surrender, a look outside of ourselves?

Amy Morin in Psychology Today writes about 7 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude.

We will sleep better, have higher levels of self-esteem, enjoy deeper relationships, and experience satisfaction with life. In short, there will be more love, joy, peace.

“We all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate gratitude. Rather than complain about the things you think you deserve, take a few moments to focus on all that you have. Developing an “attitude of gratitude” is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life.”

In my grandmother’s trunk I packed –

Gratitude, Love, Peace, Joy

And a timely cell phone reminder to get over myself.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Psychology Today also tells us that gratitude helps us stop comparing ourselves to others.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

-Hey Loose Tongue, why not spurt out a compliment or two.  The sincere kind.  It wouldn’t kill you!

 

Enjoy the Ride!  We are grateful for YOU!

xox

Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

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Codie’s Self-Help Book: Lessons from a Golden Retriever

Look people in the eye.

Each person is special. Listen more.  Love always.

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When things go wrong, hang in there.

Try to see the positive in all circumstances.  You can choose gratitude. Dinner will come soon. Love always.

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Always try your best.

Just because you failed every class you took, keep giving it your best.   Love always.

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Love is patient.

When you come face to face with crankiness, bear with it.  Try not to get jealous. Love always.

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Lend a paw.

Check in with people.  Think of a gift to bring them. A sock will do just fine. Love always.

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Spread joy.

Find people who are lonely.  Visit them often. Bring a friend.  Love always.

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Laugh more.

When you’re in the car, be sure to look out the window.  You may see something that makes you laugh.   Love always.

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Sleep is VERY important.

Get your full compliment of 15 to 20 hours a day.  If you can sleep on someone’s head, that’s even better.  Dream about loving always.

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Accept love graciously.

When you’re cute, you’re cute.  What can I say?   Love always.

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Live in the now.

All you have is the present moment.  Enjoy it!  Love always.

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Today’s Takeaway:

-Now that we’re retired, we can listen more to our doggie friends.

-Codie’s book will be on the shelves soon. Watch for it!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

and Codie, Winston, and Colby