Wednesday, October 2, 2013

It's There When I Look In Your Eyes

Tis’ the season… no not The Holidays. Tis the Season of Love! The lyrics to Love is in the Air by Tom Jones and Love is All Around Us by Billy Mack (a.k.a. Bill Nighy) orbit and swirl through my head on a regular basis.

I’ve broken out in song at Target, the grocery store, Jazzercise; well, pretty much everywhere. Except for one place. Wherever my kids are. Because as we all know, once you become a parent you are not allowed to sing in public. I’m sure even the likes of Paul McCartney, Gwen Stefani and Celine Dion get told to shush if they so much as hum a tune once their kids turned ten years old.

Why those two songs versus all the others, I have no idea. If I play the game, "say the first thing you think of" this is what comes to mind. A few years ago I was on the same flight as Tom Jones … he’s much shorter than you’d imagine and the way his head swiveled around baggage claim he gave the impression that he was looking for adoring fans. To be fair, a few women (myself included) were staring at him, but I think we were all trying to see what had induced women to throw their knickers on the stage. Bill Nighy is a seriously fascinating man to watch; his eyes are full of devilment, his voice oddly soothing, and as an actor he is quite quirky. This list of words is important: short, swivel, confusion, acting, quirky.

Back to the question, where does this focus on love come from?? Well, I’ll tell the story, but will keep names to myself as I want to remain loved by those in love.

It’s Middle School! The Hypothalamus kicks in and screams to the Pituitary Gland, “Make Estrogen!” Or “More Testosterone needed!!” The body chugs and churns, producing more and more of these little critters, 24/7. Soon the body is pulsating with the stuff. It ripples through the minds and into the veins of Middle Schoolers in quantities mostly forgotten by those over the age of 20. And all this churning takes place inside short, confused, quirky people who are trying to act cool and in control.

Though I know love is alive and well everywhere, I think there is nothing quite as amazing as witnessing the seemingly overnight transition of kids who’ve never before noticed the opposite sex to suddenly realizing they might like to talk to and possibly make physical contact with the object of their amour.

Not all that many years ago I held tiny infants in my arms and wondered all sorts of things. Would they like broccoli? Would they like to read? Would they be able to carry a tune? (MacGyver has an issue with this particular skill.) Every day has been about learning the answers to these many questions and so as one piece of the puzzle gets placed, the picture becomes more complete.

When your kids are little, they are your whole world, and you are theirs. Gradually more and more people enter the story. Yet, at the very beginning it is just you and them. In quiet moments when I wondered about broccoli, algebra, and having rhythm, I couldn’t fathom the day when their heart would be entrusted to someone who could nurture them or break it to smithereens.

What is fabulous is that while your kids become more of who they are, so are you evolving. As time has passed I have watched in awe as tentative conversations and sweeping gestures have been made. Way back when my fluff-ball was in First Grade, a lovely boy gave her a charm bracelet just before he moved far away. He wanted to give her something to remember him by. The charms were well thought out, it’s made of real silver, and she has kept track of it all these years. (No small feat given three moves, the transition of toys to make-up, and the revolving/evolving clutter that is in her room.)

The boys’ mom and I watched them scamper down the path to a tree they always hung out in and watched the tender exchange. The only sadness I felt was that he was leaving and that she would be without her best friend. Of course, they were six years old. So, gentle for us all. Though he remains in her memories affectionately, she moved on gracefully.

This past summer my kids, who are in their early teens, started hanging out with me less and less and more and more with other kids. Trying to do the right thing, I read parenting articles, called friends who had already turned this corner, and then went with my gut. I must say, it was a summer unlike any other. Though there were roller coaster moments, there were many, many more where I watched clusters of kids chat and laugh. Music is a really important medium for kids to bond around, so while I chauffeured herds around town, I listened to them sing… loud… and mostly off-key.
Then, wham! School started. New kids came their way, old friendships were re-established, and with just a few weeks of the three R’s barely under our belts, the lyrics to Love is in the Air began to swirl. Because, So-and-So is dating What’s-her-Name and You-Know-Who is crushing on That-Guy-Who-Wears-Contacts-But-Now-Has-Braces!”

“Love is in the air, Everywhere I look around! Love is in the air, every sight and every sound!”

I will simply say that as the parent of a child who is smitten and is being smitten back, my thoughts are no longer about broken hearts or feelings nurtured. I am trying keep my child focused. While I rejoice and am touched by the exploration of feelings, experiences, and all the rest, I need homework to get done!! Chores to be remembered. And one other tiny thing… other relationships. No, I am not jealous. It is about teaching balance. There are still only 24 hours in a day and all the usual needs to happen, as well as the Cutie-Pie waiting for the phone call. (Incidentally, I am starting to understand my parents better and better.)

Okay, more love to be witnessed! My lovely niece married her Bride recently. Both wrote their own vows and while I don’t know if either knew what the other had written beforehand, the words spoken were heartfelt, funny, in sync, and deeply personal.

“Love is all around us, it’s everywhere we go.”

We need love, much like we need water. And we find love in places unexpected. As I sat looking at the calendar a few weeks ago I realized that all my nieces and nephews have been married in September. This September also marked my knowing my man MacGyver for half my life. I fell  headlong into twitterpation with him in September. It is the month of love!

My parents met Mac the day after we were engaged (to be fair, he and I live a few hours from them and it was less than three months into our relationship). I invited Mac to attend my father’s ordination into the Episcopalian priesthood with me. We had decided beforehand that we wouldn’t share the news as it was my father’s big day and my mother’s birthday. Two days before I had seen my brother, and being the savvy guy that he is, he sensed something was up. At the reception following the ordination he asked me what was going on. Mac and I shared a moment of telepathy and then happily announced we had become engaged the night before. Like wildfire, my siblings found out. To stop the random strangers, who were overhearing this news, from congratulating my parents, we decided we’d best tell them. So, standing in a huddle in the midst of a few hundred people I shared our joy with my parents. Because love is like that. When it is in you, it wants to burst free and work its magic on anyone within proximity.

It was only after we’d been married a few years and had faced a few bumps in the road that I realized the true enormity of commitment vows. Two people making ginormous promises to see each other through all kinds of stuff... stuff that most of us can’t know about until time passes, decisions are made, and then decisions are lived with. Our parents sit back and watch us take these vows and I’m sure they hold their breath and wonder when they can exhale.

It’s mostly easy being the aunt, watching beloved nieces and nephews grow up, follow their hearts, and make commitments. Not because I don’t worry about them, but because I know and love them differently than their parents do. Maybe it is objectivity. I don’t know. I’ve actually tried to put words to my feelings, but all I come up with is that their choices feel right. My beloved family is happy and there is nothing I want more.

As my kid’s mom, I have to say that I’m sure along the way I will have moments of trepidation, many experiences will not go according to plan, and even if they do, something is going to end with a splat. I’ve said it a thousand times, but my kids dazzle me. They are pretty solid people. Yes, they are works in progress, but I feel excited about this phase that we are entering. It’s a lot like the broccoli question. Of course, way back when, I also wondered who they would find interesting, attractive, and trustworthy. They have shown amazing judgment in life so far and while the path isn’t long, the path has been easy to follow.

So, while I expected a blonde and not a brunette, this new young person is helping us spread our wings, and we'll be forever grateful to sit on the sidelines and learn about love in a new way.
Finally, to witness one of the most interesting duets EVER, !
As always, thanks for reading!