A Mirror And A Magnifying Glass

My Grandma used to tell me that everybody came equipped with a mirror and a magnifying glass. Metaphorically speaking, of course. It is up to us to figure out when to use which--or both. Sometimes I think we get confused about the mirror. I think we forget to use the mirror we are meant to use, and instead use television, books or other people's lives as the image we want for our own.

I am susceptible to this, I must confess. And I am usually too chicken to use the magnifying glass and the mirror at the same time. It isn't comfortable to look at myself that closely. I read about something in a book, or I see it in a movie, and I wonder to myself why my own --whatever-- isn't like that. My own marriage, my own home, whatever. Even a happy person can feel dissatisfied. I admit that sometimes I feel like I am working way too hard to be this broke. It's all too easy to forget to be grateful that I have a good-paying job (that I like,even!!), that I'm not really so broke. Allocating money to other things doesn't mean we're broke. It's just a matter of priorities. But I still want a new dress for the company Christmas party.

So, I polished up the mirror and I cleaned the magnifying glass. The first thing I am trying to do is take a good long look at myself. Stop being a child, I tell myself. Delayed gratification is something you should have mastered by now! Appreciate all the blessings in your life! Be grateful that you never get the laundry whipped: at least you have clothes to wear. Be thankful for the elk meat in your freezer. Hungry people wouldn't be tired of it. (OK, there IS a small voice in my head saying that if they had been eating it for 24 years, they MIGHT be sick of it. And they wouldn't be hungry.)

I am going to stop using the magnifying glass on my sweet husband, and instead use it on myself. I can be a better wife. The magnifying glass is coming out a little more often when I am tempted to buy something. I'll keep it in my hand all day at work and pay closer attention to detail.

This is going to be quite a struggle. I think, just to ease myself into this new self-examination, at first........... I won't wear my glasses while I look.

More Words

The last post explored the comedy, flavor and color of our use of language. I failed to mention something very important! The emotion of our words.

My younger son is a big fan of the cartoon "Family Guy". He does a great impression of the way Stewie calls for Lois when Lois is distracted: "mom. mommie. mom. mOm. MOMMIE MOM" . What's more, my son thinks this is the most amusing way to get my attention lately. It is pretty entertaining; he has Stewie's voice down pat.

I admit it's silly, but I get a kick out of 6'3" guy calling me Mommie. It's more than that, though. There is some deep recess of my heart that is warmed by one of my children, calling me "Mom". I can hear 50 other kids use the word "mom" in a day, but when it's my child (however much a child they are NOT), calling me by the name that only they can, it tugs at me. My husband will tell one of the boys to 'ask mom', but the name doesn't feel the same as when my own child says it. That might be because if hubby says to ask me, I probably don't want to deal with it, either.

There is great power in some of the words we use, and in who uses them. Some words make you feel warm and comfortable just by their sound. The right words can make your soul feel warm and soothed, the same way holding a cup of fragrant tea can warm your hands and smell so good, too. Sometimes just saying the name of person about whom you feel strong emotion can bring all of that emotion to the surface.

A lot of couples use code words to express deep emotions--private words in public places. We had code words and phrases when our boys were smaller. One of my favorites came out of their grandpa's saying (pardon the grammar), "You got one kid, you got a whole kid. You got two kids, you got half a kid. You got three kids, you got no (expletive) kids at all."

All parents and teachers across the planet know this is a fact: children's behavior deteriorates in direct proportion to the number of children in the group. Three kids together will do things that one child alone would never dare. Grandpa knew that and expressed it in his usual barnyard kind of way. It was the birth of a code-phrase. When our boys had friends over and pandemonium was building, we would tell them "If you got one kid, you got a whole kid." We didn't have to finish the saying. They knew we meant that they were behaving like monsters and were about to be scolded in front of their friends--a fate of unbridled horror.

I especially like to consider the emotional response of ordinary words. I love to hear "I'm home.", and I love to say it, too. Remember a small voice saying, "Mommie, look!"? Since I have boys, that one was often a phrase to terrify me. As in "Mommie, look! No hands!" or "Mommie, look what I found! Can I keep it?"

One of the most mundane phrases is one of my favorites: "What's for dinner?". At least, I like to hear it when I do actually have a plan for dinner. Our soldier boy and his friends were talking about what they planned to do when the went on leave. The guys were talking about going to Las Vegas, or San Diego or New York City. My son said, "The heck with that. I just want to go home and eat my momma's cooking!" Those were sweet words to hear.

The day will come, some distance yet I hope, when a small voice will call me "Grandma". I'm not ready for that day to arrive in the very near future, but I am looking forward to. I think that will reach a place in my heart that is unique to that someday grandchild.

What's your word? Vacation? Friday? Superbowl? Think hard, now...you're looking for a word that reaches right down into your soul and makes you feel wonderful. What is the word? Grandpa? Pizza? Disneyland?