Kids and Candy
My sons are mostly grown now; this year I’ll have three in college. (Gulp).
When they were little, they were adorable. You can ask anyone who knew them. I was the luckiest mom ever. I tried to be a good and honorable one. I strove to feed them well and limit their TV time, read bedtime stories, and give them opportunities to help around the house.
We were happy.
One day, on the way home from karate lessons, they asked if we could stop at a store and buy Air Heads candy. Please! I didn’t believe in feeding my kids candy, at least not often. I had my standards.
As the weeks went by, the asking turned to begging. I began to consider that maybe I was being rigid. They sensed my hesitation.”Please please please please pleeeaaaase!” they cried. They bounced a little bit in their earnestness. They had been good, and they were so darn cute.
We went to Five Below and bought this Holy Grail of candy for the young-elementary set. As we left the store, they tore eagerly into the wrapper and took a bite. My five-year-old waited expectantly. Then his face fell.
“Darn!” he exclaimed, “it didn’t work!”
Work??? What was he expecting? Since I hadn’t seen the commercials, I was stumped. So I asked.
“Well, on TV,” he began to explain, “when you bite into the candy your head gets big and you start to swirl around and go upside down….”
I felt a little bad for him in his disappointment, but mostly was busy trying to look serious, because it was also very funny. I was a little aggravated at the advertising company for making commercials like this for children who believe in the Tooth Fairy.
The kid was disappointed. Weeks of buildup to a magical, mystical event had let him down. Instead of a virtual carnival ride, he was just eating candy. Things could be worse, but they could be better. And he learned a valuable lesson.
A Momma Looked at 40
A decade ago, I was the only woman ever (I imagined) who was eagerly anticipating turning 40. I had an idea of what 40 would mean. I would be really grown. A true adult. Problems solved. Peace and tranquility would abound. I would have everything figured out, be unflappable, serene.
Forty did not turn out as I had expected. My forties brought me two moves, a divorce, and a couple more heartbreaks; a child-centered crisis; the death of my sons’ father; financial worries; peri-menopause. After one of these crises I actually thought to myself, “I’ve seen it all, hurt as much as I could; I really believe nothing can get to me now.” ―I was back to the “magical thinking” of my late 30’s! And, turns out I was wrong.
Pressure to peace
The events of my forties have pushed me and squeezed me. I tried resisting, but resistance, as it happens, is futile. As I look back, it seems that a smile has counterbalanced every tear; for each heartbreak I have experienced something transcendent and beautiful. If I had not suffered, I would not know that grief is the other side of love; that hearts really do mend; that crises pass; that I am never alone; and that things do have a way of working out, if we stay the course.
All the crises, all the pressures I have experienced over the past decade have brought me to a more peaceful place. I will not make the mistake of thinking I am invincible or even unflappable. Who knows what life will bring me next? But I am more resilient and stronger than I was before.
In my forties I have experienced some of the happiest days of my life, and some of the most excruciating. I giggle when I look back on the past decade. I wasn’t too different from how my son had been all those years ago. I, too, had believed in some magical thinking. For him it was Air Heads; for me it was forty. We were both disappointed. We both learned.