The Matronly return to the blog has thus far been somewhat somber. Here, she will update regular (for those hanging in!) readers with news of the day.
Wait. She means year. Slim blog pickings lately, she knows.
Friends, she is relieved and stunned to announce that it is a good era in the family life. For the most part, people who live here like one another. The details?
He Who Cannot Be Named (HWCBN) has one foot out the door. The middle of his junior year is so far defined by academic and debate (varsity team) successes notable enough to be already be opening college doors in a variety of ways. More importantly - on a minute by minute basis for a 16 year old -- he is the proud owner o fa 1999 Lincoln Continental, purchased from a neighbor by a fraction of the Blue Book value and stocked with music like this --
Okay, there is less palatable fare but we'll leave it at that.
Important to the Matron on that same minute by minute basis? He is nothing but compassion, grace, and dry wit toward his mother. These are the reasons she is not unhappy to get up at 5:30 am on school days to prepare a heartfelt breakfast (bacon! scones! eggs!) -- every morning. For which he thanks her.
Much has been written here about Scarlett, veteran of the stage at age 10. Dearth here -- in fact, the Matron thinks that her last Stage Mother update was nearly a year ago! Much has transpired since, none of it predictable.
Scarlett was first diagnosed with vocal cord nodules, a not -uncommon condition which resolved itself only to reveal a large lesion and hemorrhage previously hidden by the nodes. These conditions? Not so common. Not only was the daughter immediately whisked off stage (she even quit a show, which is unheard of only to the point of tsunami in theater) her doctors at the University of Minnesota's Lion's Voice Clinic (best around) sighed that surgery was the most likely option.
Very Fine Surgeon Specializing in Singers: "I would be unethical to perform this risky surgery on a 14 year old. There's a .5% chance that the lesion will heal on its own. We have to take it."
But the chance? Required one month of complete vocal rest.
That child -- the one onstage since 8 and the center of an astonishing array of friends and social events -- was suddenly silent. She took a medical leave from school. She communicated with a white board and dry erase marker. She said 'no' to sleepovers and trips to the mall. No friends, except those able to adhere to the guidelines (few). Instead of being in shows, she saw them. She follows the surgeon's rules to the letter of the law, all in the hopes of avoiding a dangerous (to a developing voice) surgery.
And . . . she did it!!
The Matron remains in awe of this young woman's resolve and discipline. She also remains . . . here, she is at an uncharacteristic loss for a single pithy word. How to describe having your 14 year old daughter tethered to the home front for a month? The Matron is hugely grateful for that time -- but the medical leave from school and month of silence was a family endeavor. Psychological fortitude was in demand from all the players (maybe even more so for the mama?).
She wouldn't trade that month for the world. Or do it over.
Merrick remains the tag line, adorably uneventful at 9. Give him a dog and a stick -- still --and promise him there's no school tomorrow and you have the prototype for Ideal Human. The richer, more complex addendum to the tag line that is the youngest is that he is a full-body person, the kind who does not necessarily thrive in school or willingly pick up a novel. No.
Merrick's Teacher: "Mary! It's so interesting that Merrick doesn't turn in assignments during the day. He just does a couple of problems or something halfway and then finishes. I ask him 'Merrick don't you notice that everyone else is working' and he says, yup."
Matron: "Can he stay inside during recess or somehow have a consequence for this?"
Teacher: "I don't believe in punitive measures. This will sort out.'
Indeed. The Matron thinks that 'punitive' is sometimes promising -- and actually, a fact of life. Also a fact of life, this mother would rather the teacher do the dirty work. So much easier that way. Unfortunately, parenting is not the easy path and this mama and her husband? Trying to build responsibility into Merrick's bone structure.
Life is good for the young people in the house are, in a word: poised. One is readying for college and another for that next audition, both ready to make that mark somewhere outside of the home. The youngest doesn't yet know that he too is ready for launching, as it's the parents who be lighting that cannon. Still, it's happening.
And yours truly?
After 16 months of agony and defeat, the Matron has accepted reality and the new number that comes with it. She has no problem declaring her rightful claim on 50. Indeed, she appreciates that there are some things in life that are, now, a younger person's game. That's okay. But there's a secret, enduring tool that yours truly possesses and that is her great, big, highly-functioning brain. Now, this entity can give her no end of trouble (oh, the roads we take!) but can also shine when the body and beauty ache. She plans to use it.
Starting with . . . . yours truly has been commissioned by an actual, real, professional, theater company to write a play!! She's a hired gun here and grateful for it, so can't spill any details - yet. But she will when the time is right. In the interim, know that one intrepid writer will be getting paid for her work. Other people will experience her work: it will be staged!! Tickets will be sold and an audience, clapping!
This makes one 50 year old very, very happy.
Now, you say: how does she do it? Career, teenagers, elementary school child, college looming, theater, marriage to maintain, play to write, dogs to coddle?!!
Here is the Matron.
Actually, not quite. Her will of steel hasn't loosened but her desires have. Slowly, steadily, the Matron has learned not to worry about work. She doesn't. Her job -- while it has its moments - is largely like chopping vegetables: a task that must be done. It isn't stressful but takes time. When one is immersed in the task, there is joy in completion and excellence. That's it. She doesn't chat about colleagues or worry what might happen next, but has learned to show up and be a great teacher. She dabbles here and there in other interests, as required, but as learned the language of "No but thank you." This has meant a shift from being deeply engaged in college-wide issues, serving on lots of committees, and being tapped (and saying yes) to take on all kinds of leadership or interesting positions. Not now, anyway.
Being a great teacher, she also has learned, does not mean spending hours and hours on semicolons in student papers. That, friends, has proven a tremendous waste of time. More on that, later. But a more refined focus on writing instruction that doesn't require The Teacher as the only expert in the room has made this task much easier as well -- and pedagogically sound. Blog post on this soon, she promises.
Perhaps the most significant change is much less quantifiable. Indeed, it is nearly inexplicable and warrants her attention on its own little page here, which will be coming. Suffice it to say, those 16 months building to that birthday weren't wasted away but produced transformation. Something majestic, even.
Finally, the Matron's stalwart companion of 21 years? John too turned 50. Instead of wringing his hands for an entire year or buying a Harley Davidson, he woke up on May 19th and said: "well, I'm 50" and then mowed the lawn. While patiently watching his wife's extended breakdown. He's eithe a keeper or crazy himself!
There, is the not so pithy but more complete, update!
Happy holiday season, of all sorts, to each of you, dear friend and reader!