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added Apr.21

Motivation: Happiness
by Bessie Stewart


I am sitting in the Florida room with my guys listening to Good Day Sunshine trying to do a little work while they down some yumalicious dinner. The sun, which has been out all day is setting behind the mountains on the other side of the Hudson River. The trees are still entirely bare giving gorgeous glimpses of the water.

We have set out a circular mound of birdseed around a chipmunk's hole. Just days ago the amazing pioneer of spring had burrowed out through the snow and was sniffing the air much to our glee. We are trying to bring the eager creature out into view so we can see him from the windows of this room and feel amazed by his effortless survival through the long cold winter.

Today has been a day of counting all the signs of spring. Happy chipmunks and uplifting Beatles' songs somehow are finding their way onto the same list. (“Got to get you into my life, ba ba ba ba ba baaaa!”)

We have been living with my parents for a year, nine months and counting since we essentially fled my husband in Los Angeles who was rather unwell at the time. We are waiting for the final papers to be official. The three of us share a truly pint sized room and an even smaller-feeling bed. Luckily, we have few belongings and so the room still functions sparse and clean. However, they have accumulated a plethora of toys and since they are both amazingly prolific artists, there is an abundance of paper that can find its way onto every surface.

(Monty is now breakdancing to the psychedelic final song #14. I have no idea what this one is called and the liner notes are long gone.)

Well, my dad is a bit of a neat lover. He really desires the counters clean, like literally clean and empty, like void of any evidence of life! He really wants the floors free of any tiny indication of chaos. And just basically he wants things infinitely more orderly than I can keep them on a regular basis as a mom of two trying to fulfill my many purposes. I mean, HECK, I like the house that way when it is the way he wants it too, but I have conceded to the fact that things get into their appropriate order often times without looking neat or clean on the outside at all.

With the intensely leonine weather of March, I have let up a bit on the housekeeping because my boys have definitely been expressing some intense feelings of cabin fever. I sense perhaps there are times not to force the rules because physical freedom seems so far away. Needless to say, it is really pushing my father's already stretched wide-open envelope of clean.

Truth is, I have really found it amazingly challenging being home with my parents for such an extended stay. Not for the reasons one might expect but I suppose not excluding those reasons either.

I realize as a crusader for uplifting vibration and as someone who wants very much to walk my talk in my mind as well as in my mouth and feet, that I find it is my truly childish thoughts that are the most confounding.

Today was one of those moments where my dad, actually really nicely mentioned the waning vigil against dirt and build up of papers and toys. Perhaps Grandpa is aware that the sun is out, the kids have been outside since 8AM and all is ripe for rule enforcement and a good house cleaning. But what hits me most difficult is the motivating energy behind the requests. And particularly, where my parents are concerned I am aware that often instead of asking me to do something with an assumption that I am always doing my absolute best, there is often this hyperbolized description of the failure or the negative, to get me to do what is wanted.

Mostly I am past the arguing stage. So the answer was, “Yes, I will clean up.”

But then of course, I have a string of ridiculous mental thoughts about how clean the counters will be, how perfect I will be, how over achieving I will come across that NO ONE WILL EVER OVER INFLATE MY SHORTCOMINGS EVER EVER AGAIN!!!!!

I mean the whole thing is ridiculous because I chose to let the house go very consciously, knowing that I have to pick the most important moment in all things and these are not shortcomings but decisions. There is the challenge of living with my parents, not to respond from a habitual unconscious reaction -- even in the privacy of my mind.

Well, needless to say the house was sparkling within a few hours. (Hey, I said I was working on it.) And now the warm weather rules are in effect, toys only on the porch and the rest of the house will return to its more adult incarnation. This is the goal at least.

The “porch” as the kids call it, or the Florida room, is three sides of huge windows, with Craftsman wainscoting walls and ceiling attached to the house near the old fireplace. It sits on its own foundation so the loud feet are not so nerve wracking and there is no second floor above for voices to carry. Essentially it is like a little sidecar to the rest of the house and boy does it go fast in here.

I have really grown to love the energy of this little room. Many times in thirty-degree weather I have forced myself to come out here and do yoga to warm up, then dance. But now that spring has come, it is just like a little slice of heaven, a promise of the home we will someday inhabit where we can truly be like ourselves on the outside all the time. We can bounce around, yell, play music loudly and basically extend our personalities out into the abyss of possibilities.

And perhaps, as I sit here and type, I am wondering, just a little bit, is it a moment of vengeance sort of, to sit and eat with the kids on the porch separating ourselves from my parents, or am I really motivated by a pure desire? Truth is, I still really cannot entirely tell. And that is what is worrisome about it.

So earlier today, after the house was clean, around 3pm we were out at the Church parking lot “scootering” around. Well, actually Monty was scootering. Griffin was sitting in a large Tonka truck launching himself down an asphalt hill and stopping himself by thrusting his body out of the truck at full throttle to the ground then rolling out in front of his truck as a roadblock. And me -- I was not looking at Griffin and rather gloomily contemplating my motivation for cleaning the house.

It is amazing, and definitely I have a little obsessive perfectionism myself, but I was just finding it impossible to think of anything else. WHY DID I SCRUB THE FLOOR AND TOILET LIKE THAT!!!!???

Finally, when Griffin was safely done nearly killing himself over and over again, I decided to distract myself so I was reading the old tombstones in the churchyard. Monty was eventually drawn away from his scootering and joined me down the hill in my search to find the oldest gravestone. Griffin was looking for “baby stones from when I was dead.” And Monty was following me around patiently asking me WHY we were doing this.

The stones were amazingly all bunched up within these family plots. The oldest was on a worn out stone that on each side had another generation of this family, the Flageran's. Letitia Flageran was the oldest, born in 1779 and dying in 1856. Her grandchildren lived all the way to the late 50's and were included on this weathered white pillar that was obviously placed nearly 150 years ago.

After finding Letitia and playing outside since 8 in the morning and cleaning the house and scootering and doing way too much thinking, we were all too tired to do anything but climb the hill and go home. Griffin had left his truck, helmet and pads on the front steps of the church but he was dilly-dallying around an old waterspout on the opposite side of the church. I was too tired to go get them myself so I said, “Come on Griff. Go get your stuff.” But he was into his thing with the waterspout and he is four and takes his own sweet time to do stuff. Monty was catching up, but Griff was way behind still ignoring me. It wasn't a long minute, but I was ready to go home already. Without thinking I said, “Come on Griff! Go get your stuff before someone takes your truck.”

It came out so seamlessly and it was such a complete impossibility. I had forgotten a tea mug on the steps of the church once during an early thaw and scootering session in February and my dad found it weeks later full of frozen water in the exact spot I forgot it. No one was going to take his truck. And absolutely not in the few seconds between when I asked him to come and when he eventually would get his truck.

From behind me I heard, “Is someone really going to take his truck, Mom?” in perfect Monty fashion.

It was this very funny moment to me all of a sudden, so I said, “NO, MAN. No one is going to take his truck. I just want him to hurry up so we can go home. I am tired!” And Monty is very cool about that kind of stuff, very forgiving and nice about it. So he was very much like, “OH.”

I felt all of a sudden there was a deck of a hundred cards in my mind and on each one was a really teeny tiny moment like that one with Griff fluttering into my hands, and they were mine . I mean, they were me and my kids, not me and my parents. I only had the one from today as an example for my life. All the previous ones were gone without much evidence of having ever been there at all, except possibly right then with Griff's truck and when I cleaned the house like a maniac earlier. WOW! I had to laugh. But I was also pretty flattened.

So while I sit out here now in the Florida room listening to the music of my parents' generation, watching Monty do his thing, I really realize how important this time is for me and for my kids because I might not have gotten this one without being in the thick of it. I might not have seen that I can be what I want, to always strive to motivate them with happiness. Or at least to be patient enough to let Griffin get to his truck in his own time.

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