Thursday, May 21, 2009

Which came first...

...the wakefulness or the urge?

Since I am vertical now, I might as well get my horizontal thoughts out.

Last weekend we took a trip to New Castle, PA for a church conference thingy. We flew to Pittsburgh and then drove to New Castle. This isn't about the meetings. Stay with me.

I found a book in the airport on the way home. I bought it based on the title - unreviewed, unrecommended, unheard of (by me) until that moment. The Girls From Ames might not have grabbed your attention the way it did mine, but then again you may not have grown up in Iowa with a tight-knit group of girlfriends that you've known so long you can't even remember when you met. I did. When I saw the book I said to my friend Robyn,

"Someone wrote my book!"

Ya snooze, ya lose.

Robyn told me I should still write my book. I love that. She said this book is not my book because it's not my story, and she's right. It is parallel though. That's why I bought it and read it in four days and wrote notes on nearly every page. I could have read it all in one sitting. I think you should read it even if you didn't grow up in Iowa and it could have (should have) been your face on the cover.

It's a book about friendship.

Read it. I need to discuss.

Now that I got that out, I have to say that this isn't even really about the book, though the book is marinating in my subconscious, and may have directly influenced my wakingupinthemiddleofthenightneedingtopee thoughts.

My thoughts followed a progression that began with something that happened to me as a teenager. Many teenagers in Iowa get summer jobs detasseling. My friends and I detasseled. It was hard, filthy work. It was also fun.

Ten years ago, as we were thinking about moving our family here, people were amazed that I was 33 and had never seen an ocean. They thought I was some kind of deprived. But I've spent hours in an endless ocean of green with my friends, riding the waves of leaves, often completely immersed. It's an immersed you can breathe under. I've heard the ebb and flow of popping tassels, each one a distinct, plaintive cry. I've dived in as one person and come out another. Who's deprived?

Sometimes detasseling was not fun. Our crew cleaned up the fields after the machines went through. It was our job to get the tassels that the machines missed. Some parts of the field were easy while other parts of the field were untouched. That's called 'full pull'. Sometimes I got a bad row, and my friends went on ahead.

I was alone in my row, all about pull drop pull drop pull drop, when I turned and came face to face with a huge spider. A huge spider with a huger web spanning my row and blocking my way. I was just inches away from the spider; it was at eye level. I'd seen thousands of spiders and whacked down thousands of webs with tassels, but this close encounter left me paralyzed. I must have screamed because suddenly there was a crowd in my lonely row. One of the foremen had to lead me between cornstalks to another row to pass by the spider.

Then there was this.

Shortly after Steve and I got married, we were going somewhere in our little red Ford Escort when a spider crawled across the windshield. It made it's appearance on the inside of the windshield and on my side of the car. The same paralysis took me. I must have screamed because suddenly Steve smashed the spider right there on the windshield. It was at eye level. He was angry with me for nearly causing an accident. Rightfully so.

I was angry with myself too. Even though we were newly married and we were not even considering having children at that point, I vowed to never let my children see how terrified I was by spiders. I've done pretty well, I think. I suck them up in the vacuum. Or I get a piece of paper and try to coax Spidey to take a ride to the great outdoors. Or I calmly yell for Steve. Practicing not showing fear has made me less fearful.

So what was I really thinking about?

One of the biggest lessons of parenting that I know well and I am still learning and am not sure I can even wrap my mind around is this.

I must let my kids live their life.

I have a hard time keeping my big mouth shut when they choose something that I don't agree with. I'm not talking about the bad choices. I'm talking about when they decide not to do something that I can see would be good for them. I can advise and I can coach and I can teach, but they have to face their own eye level spiders. It's their choice whether they will run from spiders, or whether they will deal with them.

Still, you can bet that I would gladly take my girls by the shoulders and direct them to a new path or squish a spider with my bare hand if need be. All they have to do is scream.

Birds begin chiping here at 4:24 am, FYI. And the urge has returned.


Tracy P. said...

I'll have to look for that book next time I'm at the library. I had no idea you were from Iowa. My college roommate detasseled in the summer. I see blogger doesn't even know that's a word.

Let me know how the letting your kids live their life thing turns out. We're just getting started at that. Yesterday it was encouraging Bethany to brainstorm ways she could deal with her brother having to be the first one on the bus, instead of chewing him out like she wanted me to. I just saw her get on a minute ago. First. ;-)

Star Forbis said...

I am so getting that book! And I will think of you when I read it.

Star Forbis said...

I've awarded you a Blog Award. You can pick it up on my Blog. Thanks for making my heart smile.

not-so suburban momma said...

I love books like that that grab you and suck in for days...I was wondering if spiders might be your spirit animal-I wonder what they represent in terms of qualities they possess?

angie said...

Good books that make you think are the best.

Woman in a Window said...

Oh, that last line is perfection! I believe you.

Ask for spiders and I recieve.

MommyWizdom said...

Ok, I am going out to find that book so I can read it and we can discuss. We can have our own, private book club.

That was a great story and I feel the same way. I am not fond of bugs, really, and I always defer them to Hubs when he's around. But when he's not, I do the same as you. I do not want my kids to see my fear of bugs. We either calmly leave the room until Hubs can clear it out, or I gently coax the bug into a glass and dispose of it wherever is nearest.

I enjoyed this post. You made me feel like I was inside those fields with you! :-)


Straight to Your Hart said...

I will have to check out that book.

Also, spiders make me scream. No, not a mouse just those creeping, crawling, been in my hair/bed creatures that usually see there fate thru a shoe or tissue...flush!

Star Forbis said...

I bought the book! I'm reading it, and so far I'm really loving it!! Thanks for sharing about it! I wish we lived closer together, then we could have our own book club! :)