Thursday, June 24, 2010


I have a confession. On the surface, it isn't pretty. Maybe down deep, it isn't pretty either. Anyway, it is the truth and when you keep the truth from the light, it grows into a little invisible gremlin that sits on your shoulder and whispers mean things in your, here it is..... I WANT TO RUN AWAY. ALOT. The older I get, the worse it is. I first desired it while standing at the bus stop during college. There, one spring, as I patiently waited for my ride, an aroma tickled my nose that was a most familiar smell. What was it? I don't know exactly (honeysuckle, asphalt, a peach that was too ripe in my lunch bag), but it immediately reminded me of my grandfather, Pop. Without warning, tears sprung to my eyes and I wanted to RUN AWAY. To him. To Pop. To childhood. To the familiar place that I lost. To his garden, his yard, his truck, his arms....

The thing is, I don't want to run FROM things. I want to run TO things. I couldn't imagine my life without my children, my mother, my siblings, my friends - but I miss the cicadas. Yep, you heard me. The cicadas. The sultry, humid, heat of tonight's summer night has me yearning for past times, because the cicadas are LOUD, singing and lulling me into a slumber of memory that is seductive and powerful. I don't want to stay in the air-conditioned, pre-conditioned, dutiful cycle of the NOW. I want the days of my childhood that ring loud with similar hot summer evenings when the cicadas were purring. Back then, I was free and my bicycle took me everywhere - I doodled in the dirt and my mother was singing (light, airy, free!). Bugs bit me and I went to bed scratching but woke up happy and looking for more outside adventures. The cicadas sang in my grandmother's back yard, while the grown-ups talked and I circled them searching for lightning bugs to catch in my jar. The cicadas sang and chirped while I played "kick the can" with my neighbor friends under the street lights. When I was a young mother, they sang in my back yard in the heat of the summer while I rocked my first, sleepless baby to sleep. The cicadas call me back, over and over again to a simpler, more free time, when someone else was in charge. Rivers glisten, "Pops" hum, dryers run and I sleep - free from worry or responsibility - sweaty from play and not caring - giggly and giddy and happy and joyful. Childhood. I want to run there. Where the cicadas sing and my daddy is there and I am small and smart and free and I can hear and smell summer without all the traffic in my head sounding out and drowning out the beauty of life.

The cicadas are in my back yard, now. I hardly hear them. I wonder if my children hear them. Sometimes, I walk out there and listen and imagine I am wandering backwards in time to when I heard them in the background of play and laughter and exploration and I had not ONE CARE in the world. That is where I want to run away to. I miss it. I long for it.

My children didn't have the same childhood as I did. They had a more "present day" childhood, with fancy vacations and battery operated cars. They dyed Easter Eggs in the Caribbean and watched fancy, professional fireworks on the 4th of July. They had sparklers and ripe mangoes and corn-row hair in Jamaica. They had big city trips in fancy hotels - bottled water and mints on their pillows. Is there a sound or a smell from those places that will visit them 30 years from now that will make them want to RUN TO ME?

I took my teenage daughters on a shopping spree this week. During the long car ride, we listened to a book on tape, ate LOTS of fast food, shared some secrets and got in shouting matches. I realized I haven't done such a good job in making them appreciative, yet, at the same time, I realized they are good girls. We sang, spoke in foreign accents, told secrets, critiqued our clothes, stopped to pee a thousand times, indulged in chocolate delights (too many), had outbursts, laughed uncontrollably (at nothing) and came back exhausted. But, there were no cicadas. Yet, the cicadas are singing in my mind and calling me back. I want to run away.
I can only hope that some day, my daughters will want to run back to each other. To me. To a happy childhood. To the cicadas. To whatever made them easy and laughing and free. I will be there waiting - as will my father and Jim and other lost loved ones who have enriched our lives.

In the mean time, I will keep trying to live in the present - restored by the past and blessed by the present and .....reveling in my new shoes!! Did I mention that we bought SHOES??? Listen, I don't hear cicadas - but, my shoes are humming.... they are AWESOME (singing their own sweet song of promise)!!!

Cicadas are the lullaby of my childhood, but shoes are the song of my womanhood. Shoes don't lie. Really. Goodnight. ~J

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Ah-Haaaaas of Summer!

First, I was gone for a bit because I birthed another baby.....well, not technically. I birthed a great expression of my "artistic" side - a renovated, redecorated, shabby-chic beach house! In fact, my greatest compliment came from my daughter who said, "nothing goes together and yet, it all goes together"! Perfect! It evolved from a neglected 70's era beach house into a modern, but still "old-fashioned" beach-side cottage. I poured my soul into it. I haven't slept well or eaten well or performed my "other job" very well, but every one has been very understanding! Thanks, guys! I am having a hard time letting it the renters....but I have faith that they will love it, too.
There are many bits of me there....the things that I love and the things that remind me of another house by the sea (from another life/another time). May God bless it!

As I have plowed along on the "project", SUMMER HAPPENED! Yes, my husband and children are getting along with summer jobs and camp and golf and sleeping in - embracing the lazy, humid, days of June. I have tagged along and grasped a little of it: Coastal Carolina baseball (go, Chants!), beach days (sharks teeth!), the farmers market (Caprese salad!), mosquitoes (2 legs full!), pan-seared grouper (YUM!), thunderstorms at night (blessing!) and a little boy who forgot where his OWN BED is (sweet, sweaty breath).....I have been renewed by the encouragement of friends, the knowledge that I am not alone and the revelation that life goes on, anyway.

Keep the summer memories coming~J

Friday, June 4, 2010

What do you "do"?

I am a little sensitive to the question "what do you do?" I know it's a silly sensitivity - I was raised in the after glow of bra burning and g-spots and equal opportunity. I had a working mother, for Pete's sake, before working mothers were "normal"! I know what I do has eternal value and that I am doing a silent, unrecognized and yet ultra-valuable job of providing hearth and home to my husband and children.....and yet, I feel bad that I don't have a business card.

It really hit home when my 6 year old son came home one day and asked me "what do you do?" See, they were studying careers in 1st grade and lots of parents had come in to speak to the class about being a lawyer, dentist, restaurateur, weather-man, teacher, coach - and it was logical for Michael to wonder what I "do". I tried to explain that I cypher, organize, clean, schedule, cook, change, spread, water, paint, hang, hem, hook, plan, pray, defend, discipline, compromise and commandeer the lives of 6 people everyday - and his response was "yeah, I know, but what do you do?!" Jeez.

When I was a little girl, my mother played a game with me every time she buttoned up my dress/shirt/shoes/coat: for each button she would point and say "rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor, lawyer, Indian chief" and wherever the buttons ended corresponded to what I would "do" when I grew up. Would I be proud to be any of these things??

Mom was a career woman with the demands of home and work forged upon her and still taking time to make a riddle out of buttoning my blouse.

What do I do?

Last week, we had 3 trees cut down in our yard. The arborist came to remove the stumps and, later, we stood out in the yard discussing the economy and such. He asked, "How is your business doing?" - and yes, "what do you do?" AHHH!!! I am still stewing over how to handle this from here on out. I am tempted to give a sarcastic response, but that would further degrade the still underestimated station of stay-at-home-mother.

Recently, in a meeting attended by all male professionals (except for little 'ole me), there were introductions via conference call with a well respected South Carolina attorney. Each male was defined by his glamorous title and then there was me....Jeanne title or profession....and then the big shot attorney says "I have heard of you Jeanne, and your reputation as a true Southern Lady"......Can I have THAT on my business card?????
This is my REAL business card. I can't tell you how very proud I am to call myself their mother. They don't know what I "do" either - but God knows and now, you know too!

Good night! ~J