Spontaneous Changes

Tahoe Park sunsetTahoe Park sunset

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.

Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow.

Let reality be reality.

Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

Lao Tzu

What is spontaneously changing in your life right now?

Are you resisting change, or letting it flow?

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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A Perfect Summer Day

a perfect summer day

My girl’s idea of a perfect summer day

Starts in the dark, before dawn

waking up in a narrow dorm bed under well-worn covers

stumbling across the tiny room to quiet a blaring alarm

and gulping down a quick bowl of cold cereal with  milk.

My girl’s idea of a perfect summer day

doesn’t involve a plan for cruising the air conditioned shopping mall

tanning by the pool in a teeny tiny bikini

or a mani-pedi with girlfriends, chatting about the latest celebrity gossip

My girl would rather pull on her red and black speed suit

knee high magenta and orange wool socks

slather her freckled face with sunscreen, hair in a messy braid

throw her pack on her back and grab her Volkls

My girl’s idea of a perfect summer day

isn’t like mine was, playing jacks on the cold linoleum kitchen floor

reading Nancy Drew in the soft grass

or dominating the world at RISK

She’s climbing high above the clouds

looking out from the edge of her world

hoping for sixty seconds of air time as she zigzags down the snowfield

wind brushing her face, bright blue eyes shining behind pink goggles

golden brown braid blowing in the wind

My girl’s idea of a perfect summer day

fills both our hearts with happiness

and gratitude

What does your perfect summer day look like?

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Pandora’s Box: Preserving Her Scraps of Childhood

When she was little-not more than two- she was obsessed with a silky yellow and black polka dot swimsuit. It wasn’t a bikini- I shied away from the ‘Toddlers and Tiaras‘ set-instead, it was an adorable one piece tank style suit with an simple little ruffle that covered her rump.

Lily and RoseLike many little girls, she wore and wore that suit until it climbed up too high and I had to convince her that it fit better on her stuffed bear, Rosie. Carefully I placed Rosie’s long, spindly legs and arms through the swimsuit and tied a knot just below her neckline to keep it secure.  She was happy with the arrangement, and snuggled Rosie gently every night as she fell asleep.

Now, fourteen years later and several sizes larger, that memory surfaced as I was hanging up her lime green American Eagle string bikini after a night of hot tubbing with her friends. I’ve given up the battle over skin bearing suits, and trust her sense of modesty and self-confidence. Gone are the silver sparkle sneakers, the bows and headbands, and all the other innocent childhood fashions that kept her young forever.

Where has it gone?

I remember thinking that I could never survive the end of her childhood, sure that each subsequent stage couldn’t possible replace the absolute beauty of the one before. Gently I filled my pine wedding box with scraps of artwork, certificates and letters written in her childish hand. I tucked away unused diapers, baby socks and her favorite pair of red overalls, just to justify that she really was once that small. Photos, videos and journals fill boxes in my armoire as testaments to each moment, each step towards the moment I’m fearing the most right now: the one when she leaves.

She herself is hardly the sentimental type. Left to her, the memories would stay locked up inside, no tangible proof of the time she moved up from guppy to turtle in swimming lessons, or the little Colombian clothespin doll she created in honor of her great-grandmother’s heritage. Birthday cards, tied with ribbon, and letters that she wrote to ‘Jen’ professing her love mingle with newspaper clippings from gymnastic meets and ski races.

I can hardly bear to open the box right now. In fact, I can hardly write about it with my eyes tearing up with an overwhelming sense of absolute and overpowering love, tinged with a touch of sadness.

But I won’t let myself go there right now. Twelve months from now, when decisions are made, deposits placed, and the calendar ticks down to the remaining summer at home-maybe then I’ll crack it open and begin the process of unwrapping the last 18 years we’ve spent together.

Is this the way childhood is supposed to end? Bits and pieces of memories, tied together with love and tears, helping me to hold onto motherhood as I watch her grow up and away?

Is this how the Universe eases my grief? Squirreling away scraps and fragments of times joyous in the moment, melancholy in the past?

I’m fairly certain she has no idea the lengths I’ve gone to in keeping these moments alive and untouchable. But the one memory I don’t hold onto is Rosie. She was never willing to give her up, and although long removed from  under her covers, she resides somewhere close to her heart.

Maybe the time will come, twelve-or-so months from now, when she will reappear, and give me something to cling to, something to ease my grief, something to symbolize the love we created in her childhood. Until then, I’ll continue preserving her scraps of childhood, bit by bit.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Tolkien, Time, and Why Does It Go So Fast?

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring

Observatories always have scared me a little bit.  I’m not sure why, other than my extreme childhood motion sickness that kicked in every time the stars and planets swirled around overhead.  I much prefer the real thing.  Laying on my back on a wooden dock, looking up at the meteor shower, or watching the sunset from my upstairs window, or witnessing the dawn over the ridge of the Sierras creates much more meaning than seeing the entire universe spin before my eyes.

It’s all about time, though.  Stretching my brain big enough to encompass the billions and billions of years our solar system has existed simply exhausts and terrifies me.  I was born in the 60s, a time of revolution. A time of possibility.  A time of purpose.

So today, in the 21st century, how is it that the exact same number of seconds, minutes and hours that every human has possessed, the precise amount of time, does not constantly fill me with possibility,  purpose. or revolution – instead of panic?

Live in the moment. Seize the day. Live every day like it is your last.

I’ve heard them all.  We are all busy, busy people. We all have a new day every 24 hours to use as we see fit.

So why is it that my day, which starts well before dawn, never seems long enough? Is that why I’m always running a e message in my mind?  Slow down, focus, be in the present, there will be time for that later…

I wish it was as simple as Tolkien said.

Nicaragua Lily and Cameron

I wish all I had to decide was what to do with the time that is given us.  I wish that such a simple decision wasn’t so complicated.

I’m great at it in the classroom. I maximize every single second. I don’t believe in wasting one minute of the 55 I get with my students each day.

When the school day ends, and I start my second job at home, I feel the same way.  The afternoons and evenings are jam packed with chores, homework, lessons, and a bit of reading, writing, cooking, and the occasional chess game.

Weekends- November to April are in the snow.

Summers? Travel, camps, gardening, and catching up on the neglected issues from the school year.

I wish every second I have could be frozen, duplicated, or held in my heart. I am acutely, painfully aware that the time with my daughter at home is rushing by. My son is on the cusp of all that is good and terrifying about adolescence.  It’s  not really as simple as Tolkien says.

I tick the hours by; days turn into weeks, then months. Then years.  Suddenly, it’s been nearly 18.

Time is more precious now than ever.

Someday soon, I will have more time than I can imagine.  Endless hours to decide what to do.

Just not who I want to spend it with.

 

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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The Sixteen-Year Test

Sixteen years ago today I was waiting to give birth to my first baby.  Today, I’m waiting for that baby to take her first SATs.  The words of my grandmother ring loudly in my ears, reminding me of how fast the time goes.
I always thought that was old people just complaining, whining about missed opportunities and broken promises.  I wondered if they wished they had done life differently, had spent more time pushing their kids in the swing or reading them bedtime stories.  I briefly considered how that would feel, and tucked it away inside that long list of things I would never do as a parent, a list carefully created over years of trying to correct other parents mistakes that ended up in my classroom.
She was probably in her eighties when I started noticing the pain in her voice as she recalled her glory days of pigtails, freshly ironed short pants and dinners around the oval oak dinner table.  Most vestiges of her children were long ago relics of days she cherished, only the occasional tear in her eye as evidence of when she felt truly happy.
Sixteen years ago, I was not thinking of the memories that would be building from the moment she was born; I was thinking of how strong I could be to make it through the labor, and not much else.  I worried about how life would change and could I do all the right mommy moves to make sure she was safe, nourished, and nurtured.  Never did I think this far into the future that she would be walking out of my car and working towards leaving me.
As I sit here, watching car after car pull in, I tense as the clock ticks towards the starting time.  Kids continue to pour in even after they have no hope of admission through the testing door.  I watch them come back, rejected, and notice a mom not willing to take no for an answer.  Her son protests as she resolutely marches him back in, determined to give him another chance.  Minutes later when she returns alone, I see love etched into every fiber of her face; the kind of strength it sometimes takes to be a parent.
Sixteen years ago, I had no idea what it would take to be a parent.  I knew it was something I wanted for my life, not understanding the determination, dedication and sheer will it would take.  I didn’t understand why it would be so hard to watch her ride off on her bike alone, to let go of her hand at the corner of the school building, or let her take over the car steering wheel.  I did not imagine the pain of watching her cry or struggle through friendships that had ended or defeats on the ski hill.  I didn’t comprehend the many, many hours I would lose sleep to hold her tight, rock her gently, or support her through the different phases of growing up.
Sixteen years ago I never imagined the tests my baby would put me through, or how she would help me grow into a better human.  When she walks back to me today I will welcome her with the swirls of my grandmother’s voice running through my head, and realize that what she said really is true:  they do grow up so fast, and the years pass by far too quickly.  I will lock this memory into my mind, knowing all too well that when she finishes this test, another will present itself, challenging me to dig deep and take it on.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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