Thursday, February 22, 2007
My earliest memories of books goes back to my pre-school years. We lived in a very small town with a very small library. It was a dark place with only a few tables, a make-shift sign-out desk and the same librarian was there each time we went. Despite this not-so-attractive visual, I remember it as one of my all time favorite places. My mom took me to story time each week and I was thrilled to sit and listen to a new story. Afterwards there was a race to that book to sign it out. I can feel the carpet, smell the books and hear the rustling of little feet as they scuffled through the aisles looking for hidden treasures. Inside my 'treasure chest' was Frog and Toad, it didn't matter which book of the series it was but it always made the ride back to 17 Pine Street tucked under my arm. We would read that book until the pages nearly turned themselves. Unfortunately, dashing my mother's hopes of having a life-long reader I went through high school going to great lengths to get out of having to read a whole book. There was no good explanation that would have been reason for this except for that fact that I was not making connections to my assigned readings. I would call a friend whom I knew would share the knowledge, buy the Cliff's Notes and just barely skim them or go to class unprepared and fake it. I got great grades, I didn't NEED to read. When I got to college I started to realize what I had missed out on. Classmates were drawing connections between books I should have read in high school and books I still hadn't read for college assignments and I was left to divert my gaze so I wasn't expected by the professor to make connections; I had none to make. Something had been missing from my education. It wasn't until Grad School that it all became clear to me. The book I was reading talked about readers paging through their books, looking ahead for important parts in the plot while also taking time to make connections with the story and finding things that are relevant to their own life. Not before this moment did I realize why I disliked reading so much. I specifically remember being taught in school that "reading ahead" was cheating as we were usually following chapter-by-chapter study guides. Ten years ago I left the doctor's office with the news that I was pregnant. Where did I go? The closest baby store? My mom's house? No. Barnes & Noble. I ached for the pages that would unfold the mystery of this little miracle growing inside me. I started reading because I had a reason and I haven't stopped. I was making a connection, making it relevant to my life. My realization was how important I wanted books to be for this little one I was then using as a book rest. Three children later, sadly "my" little library has been bulldozed and the lot sits vacant but I follow in my mother's footsteps and model the importance of literacy in our daily lives. While my first two toddled through the aisles of the Vestal Library I beamed as I shared in the innocence and wonder of a book through a toddler's eyes. Eight years later and on my third toddler I still make it a daily activity to slow down and cuddle up with a good book. My three babes could possibly go through school the same way I did, abhorring the notion of having to read, but I doubt it as two of the three are book worms already. No matter what happens as they grow up I take comfort in knowing that I laid the foundation and I can only hope they will someday grasp the reality that reading is power.
Monday, February 5, 2007
I have actually been in the shower and wished I had more to do, more to wash, something else to shave, just to quench my thirst for the ever-valuable alone time. I sometimes wish I had an escape hatch in my shower wall! Like a grown up version of the wardrobe that landed those children in that magical place. I know the shower may not a magical spot for everyone. It was not too long ago that I had a three year old and a two year old head-long into their own version of a WWF Smackdown on the bathroom floor while I tried to scrub off the previous day’s worth of dried applesauce and goldfish crumbs. Those were not really showers but mere pit stop rinse-offs in this race I call motherhood. How many more laps? Where the ^*%^% is that *^I%^& checkered flag? My children are older now and I can grab a moment after dinner or first thing in the morning to enjoy more than a few frantic seconds in the shower. Hot water, steam and the sound of the bathroom fan drowning out whatever may be going on the floor below at the kitchen table can sometimes resemble perfection. This is as close to magic as I get these days but it is mine…all mine! Just a few moments ago I was in the shower releasing the stresses of the day; the sibling arguments, the dog, a late husband, a baby cranky from his shots and I was inspired. I was stealing a moment while the water massaged my aching back. I slowly bent over and left my upper body hang, directing the pulsating water to my tired, lower back muscles. I was drinking in the relaxation when I heard, “Mom, what are you doing?!” There I was in a not-so-flattering pose after two kids and too many trips through the drive-thru looking at my 9 year-old son staring at me through the textured glass of our shower door. Ladies and gentlemen, the checkered flag is out! Stolen moments aren’t always times you steal for yourself, unfortunately they are sometimes moments others steal from you. My spa treatment was interrupted and I reminded myself that just a few years ago I would have paid a hefty sum of money for that many minutes in a row of alone time. Steal those moments when you can. They will rejuvenate your mind, body and soul. And if you leave a couple squares of chocolate in your shower stall, they may just qualify as sheer perfection.