Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Author: Michele Minehart (page 2 of 299)

The blessing of the youngest

The youngest’s birthday passed without much remark due to circumstance; we spent the day like the previous 4 and the following 2, at the beach and in the pool with the family. We had celebratory (GF) brownies and he managed to get everything he asked for throughout the day. The following morning he attempted to extort something from his papa, and he was informed that it was no longer his birthday, so he couldn’t have everything he wanted.

This didn’t compute for the little guy, mainly because most of his life he gets what he wants.

These babies of the family . They’re something else. And I argue there’s a mathematical equation that relates the number of children in a family to the yountest-ness of the youngest. The baby of two simply doesn’t bear as much youngest-ness as does the baby of nine. I’m sure someone has written a thesis about this. And while someone with a Ph.D. can argue that the trend exists, I’ll pontificate on why it tends to be, at least as it has grown from my own experience.

As parents continue to have more children, we have to open up our hands (and our hearts) a bit more to make it all fit. So, naturally, we let go. Those firsts, we hold tightly.  The voice of our duty to love and protect rings in our ear. We want the best; we strive for it. We take in everything we can as we learn along the road of parenthood. We see things sitting along the side of the road and we put it in the garage “in case we need that someday” because we just don’t know what is coming along next. It’s likely we’ll parent our firsts all the way through in this manner.

As our youngests grow, we get more familiar with the terrain. We learn what we might need and what just gets too heavy to carry along. It’s like comparing our first trip to Disney last week, our backpack filled with all the “essentials” to my cousin, who makes multiple trips per year, and walks through the gate empty handed. He knows exactly what he’ll need in a day, and where to find it so that he doesn’t have to carry it along.

So in the experience of parenting our youngests, things get lighter. We still have the same desires to make things right and good for our children, to offer them the most opportunity and help them become the best humans they were created to be. Yet we also recognize that lugging along a spare of everything “just in case” won’t be what makes it happen. The day won’t be ruined because we didn’t bring a second tube of sunscreen, it will be ruined when we loose sight of the fun that exists without trying damn so hard.

And so goes parenthood. We won’t ruin our children because we didn’t do X, Y, and Z. I think our chances are much higher that their childhood becomes a negative experience when we carry the baggage of the shoulds, the musts, and the if-we-don’ts.

So, the baby of this family gets more of what he wants. (And let’s be honest. The little guy deserves to get a few privileges to make up for the the massive amounts of hand-me-downs he has had to, and will continue to, endure.) Now it matters less what he believes to be true when he gets to pick his own spoon rather than use the one I’ve given him. That’s a power struggle I no longer need to win, because I don’t carry the fear of being “wrapped around his finger.”  I’m making space to carry the parenting essentials for all of these children and the if-we-don’ts won’t fit in my pocket anymore.

Essentially, I fear less with the youngests. Fear is tiresome, and it has robbed me of too many beautiful moments with my firsts, and I don’t want it to get the best of my youngests.

I read an unattributed quote the other day that said, you can do things out of love or you can do things out of fear; but you cannot serve two masters. My parenting approach has shifted with more babies and much of this is because what I mistook for love was actually fear. And honestly, as I keep parenting my oldests, it continues to be the case. These unknown trails of raising humans are wrought with fearful moments and places. With every new developmental stage and age, I remember, once again, that I have no idea what I’m doing. (And I’m getting better of remembering that no one else does, either.)

As a human being, I’m wired for fear, to protect myself and my species, so there’s no shame in that. The gift of these youngests lies in familiarity, remembering that I need not to be afraid all of the time. Now I get to live – and parent – from a different place.  Instead of traveling with constant concern of what lies behind the bushes, I now get to walk the path of raising children with a bit more reverential beholding of the beauty of it all.

 

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Riding on the Clouds

I distinctly remember gathering with fellow first graders in Mrs. Beitler’s classroom to watch a 1986 Big Deal Space Event. (It turns out this was probably the Challenger fiasco. I have no recollection of the disaster ending, so the teachers must have been on their toes. Or I simply blocked it out.) My six-year-old self knew it was exciting stuff, but men had already been on moons. For the entirety of my life, in fact.

I’ve read from more than one author that the fact that God did not live above the clouds was a discovery. “We went to space and God was not there.” I shrugged it off the first time, but the second time I let it simmer. I asked a friend. Wait. You mean people were disappointed and confused when we found that outer space isn’t heaven? I’ve never known the greater atmosphere to be anything but the domain of moons and planets and less gravity.

When we discovered something new about our world, from my perspective, we learned something new about God. My 1980’s-kid self doesn’t completely grasp the challenge of simultaneously holding both truths, because both truths have always been evident to me.

Does anyone know how this shift in understanding was accepted among the most literal readers of the Bible? Was it a government hoax for a while? Did they believe that Neil was a used car salesman?  Is this why JFK was shot?

I don’t mean to belittle the belief systems of those who grew up pre-Neil Armstrong. (Because this includes basically every human being in history, save the ones born in the last 40 years. Slight majority.) Actually, I’m confident my generation will come across a shift in interpretation of the Bible with a magnitude equal to God’s change of address. How will I deal? How far in will my heals dig before I relent that perhaps we weren’t supposed to read the poetry so literally?

How did these space-not-heaven conversations go down in the generation that had to deal with it? What bridges were built to pave the way to acceptance? How many people let go of their faith because they found out it had been in an idea about God and not faith in God?

We’re raising a generation of God-lovers in a constantly expanding world. I’m hoping to arm mine with a worldview that can take what I may deem as unfathomable that they can accept as basic knowledge. The goal: they won’t need to toss the concept of God in order to hold evident truths of the universe.  So, what does it mean to have faith in God and not only the ideas about God we’ve been taught? Can we know the difference? Do we need to?

I have too much hope in the world God created to believe we’ve reached the end of opportunity for exploration. There is so much more to discover. The bigger the universe, the bigger God becomes to me. So how do I instill a faith that expands with our revelations?

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New with Tags

It’s yard sale season, the perfect occasion to score a new-to-you anything. Sometimes you can tell the set of golf clubs has been well-used and the owner is exchanging his “starter set” for a better brand. The best finds, however, are the NWT (new with tags) items. These are the things purchased with the highest intent. Maybe it’s some sort of ab gadget or an entire Bowflex lifting system. A set of pastels with the one included canvas missing. A 10-year-old snowboard which kept its sheen thanks to an expensive case and little time on the slopes.

Garage sales, be it the online FB version or the old fashioned stop-on-the-side-of-the-road sort, tell the stories of our best intentions which fizzled.

In talking to a friend about wanting to rediscover her artistic talents, she revealed she missed pottery. She wanted to buy a wheel and a kiln to rekindle the habit of creating. I asked her if she ever took a community class when it was offered, or spoke with the local art teacher about getting access to materials before taking on a costly and space-consuming attempt.

“No, I just figure that if I have the things in my home, that I’ll use them more often. It’s so much work to try to get to a class or a studio.”

I anticipate my friend will become not a potter, but an owner of a potter’s wheel.

Not to dismiss the need for the appropriate gear before setting out to try a new hobby, but our garages tend to give us a glimpse into our society’s approach to change. We try to better ourselves by buying something for ourselves. We mistake consumption for transformation.

I heard once that any problem that can be solved by throwing money at it isn’t a very interesting problem. I believe the theory to hold true as it pertains to our personal growth. If a bigger budget would make you the person you wanted to be, I’m just going to say, you won’t be a very interesting person.

Money, and subsequently, stuff, makes things easier. We like easy. But rarely does easy equate to good. Quicker? Easy can do that. Cheaper? Easy can get behind that one, too. Easy cannot give depth, however, or longevity. It doesn’t bring about change that lasts.

The writer who will lock herself in the closet at 5am with pen and paper when a laptop isn’t available is a writer. The gal with the Macbook Pro sitting on her desk with a few scribbled notes about the next big book idea is an owner of a Macbook Pro.

The guy who laces up in the middle of winter because he needs to get in 10 miles is a runner. The guy with brand new Under Armor fleece lined compression pants sitting in his drawer owns nice running gear.

We are not a sum total of our stuff. Our character is revealed in how we live. As Annie Dillard said, “How we live our days is, of course, how we live our lives.” What we keep in our garage, basement or closet has only the smallest influence on those things.

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