Thursday, June 30, 2011

Finding Your Temper

I found a new writing prompt site called The One-Minute Writer.  I was supposed to write about this prompt for only one minute, but when the time was up, I found I wasn't done.  Leave it to me to stretch one minute into five, huh?  Anyway, the prompt was "When you 'lose your temper' where is the best place to find it?"

Sometimes when you lose your temper you don't want to find it.  Remember that jerk in the Mercedes who cut you off in traffic.  Let that one go.

Sometimes you have to find it.  Remember the idiot at work who never does anything but brown-nose the boss?  Remember how you went off on him the other day?  Find your temper in your paycheck, because you have to make it work out especially in this economy.

But sometimes you lose your temper with someone you love.  Your children may be playing loudly or fighting after you've had a difficult day at work.  Before you know it your frustration bubbles over and you scream at them.  You realize they are just being children when you look in their eyes and see the hurt and confusion.

Now what?

Gather your babies in your arms and hold them tight.  You'll find your temper and find it easy to bury it deep inside you again.  You'll chain it down tight and vow to never lose it with them again.  Your intentions are pure but you know you will lose it again one day.

Don't think about that now.  Think about that later.  For now just enjoy the infinite love and forgiveness flowing from your babies.

Copyright © 2011 Denise Duggan

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Communications: Mind to Heart

Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait point
The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of.

Boy, ain't that the truth!

King Charming and I are the proof of this all the time.  When he speaks it's with reason.  When he hears, it's with reason.  When I speak and hear it's with the heart.  He is so logical and I am so emotional and it affects our communications all the time.  For years he's told me to listen to his words.  He says that he chooses certain words to mean certain things and that's exactly -- no more, no less -- what he means.  I've tried.  I really have tried.  But every word in our language has a certain connotation, a certain nuance, and when he says one thing I can usually think of several things that he could mean without my even trying.

I've learned he usually means it in the sweetest or most complementary manner so that's the interpretation I usually presume.


Not always though.  Sometimes, when I'm feeling particularly emotional for some reason or another, I become convinced that he meant one of the other nine things his words could have meant.  That's usually when he starts looking for a brick wall to beat his head against.

Of course, with age supposedly comes wisdom.  But I don't know about that.  The older I get the more emotional I become.  Usually that's a good thing, especially when I have a man who is so wonderful to me.  He really leaves no room for doubt whatsoever that I am thoroughly loved.  And usually the way he treats me is sufficient inoculation against the myriad of ways what he says could be taken.


And when it's not, he has gotten a lot better about understanding where I'm coming from.  He seems to have learned that my emotionalism is something reason just can't make sense of but must just be accepted.  I guess it's only logical to admit that the emotionalism of women is part of what makes us so intriguing to our men.  

As long as they have a brick wall nearby on which they may take out their frustrations.  Anyone know where I can get a portable brick wall?

Copyright © 2011 Denise Duggan

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Duct Tape and Girlfriends

Prompt: Duct tape can fix anything. Almost anything ...

All of my friends know I am a Southern girl through and through.  I like grits and boiled peanuts.  I enjoy relaxing with friends around a bonfire or a truck with a cooler full of Bud in the bed so much more fun than going to any club.  I even know that roadkill can be a valid food source should something happen to the local Winn Dixie.  And, being a good Southern girl, I have a reverence for duct tape.  Duct tape can fix anything.  Well, almost anything.  I have used duct tape to hold tent poles together.  I have used it to fix leaks in a tent.  I have used it to hem my jeans and to fix a broken pocketbook.  Once a group of friends and I used duct tape and cardboard to build an actual lakeworthy vessel in which we let a young boy set sail.

One thing duct tape cannot fix is a heart aching with love for a man that is not around.

King Charming was recently out of town for four days.  Four little days!  One would think a middle-aged woman like me would have more self-respect than to act like a giddy school-girl.  But recently I have felt exactly like a sixteen year old in the throes of first love.  After twenty-five years love should be like a gentle breeze blowing through the soul, but lately there has been a Category 5 hurricane raging through me.  It feels silly, sure, but then I remember I am not the only one to feel this strength of emotion.  To quote a showtune, "when he goes away, that's a rainy day.  But when he comes back that day is fine.  The sun will shine."  So as silly as it is, I know it's a valid and real emotion.  And I enjoy it.  Usually.

It was a rainy day, actually several of them, when he was recently away.  And it was so hard on me.  I knew before he left it would be difficult but even I was not prepared for the strength of longing I felt for him.  As long as I stayed busy it was just a twinge here and there. But when I was alone, all I could think about was how much I wanted him with me.

It felt like my heart was breaking.  Even thought I knew it was only temporary, I knew I needed to fix it if I was going to get through those days.  And like I said, I knew duct tape would fix anything.  But I could not figure out how to duct tape my heart.

My girlfriends knew how, though.  The whole time King Charming was gone they called and dropped by and generally did not let me have too much time alone.  Sure, all my dreams of spending the entire four days writing flew right out the window.  Looking back on it, I shudder to think of the dark pieces I would have written.  It never takes long for my soul to sink into a valley, but my girlfriends made sure that never happened.  They were the duct tape that held my breaking heart together until King Charming could come home and weld it strong.

Duct tape can fix almost anything.  Almost.  But not everything.  And what duct tape cannot fix, girlfriends can.

Copyright © 2010 Denise Duggan

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Mess

Writing Prompt: No matter how much you clean, the house is always a mess.

My house has stayed relatively clean this week.  It’s actually quite soothing to walk in and see things in their place.  It has actually been relaxing to come home from work and see there is not a big pile of everything everywhere.

To get this clean house, I had to send the kids away.  They are off visiting family in South Carolina.  Thanks to Facebook and instant messenger and texting, it feels like they are only across town.  My sister rocks at making sure I know what they are doing.  I do not doubt her abilities at all.  In fact, if there is anyone I trust completely with my kids, it’s my kid sister.  

Of course it’s different from seeing them every day.   For the next two weeks they will be in South Carolina and my house will be clean.

Mind you, I still have to pick up a bit here and there after King Charming.  But he actually does a pretty good job of picking up after himself.  No worse than my Daddy.  Mom says she could tell where Dad had been by following the trail of socks and stuff through the house.  It must be a guy thing.

That is the crux of the problem, after all.  I gave birth to sons and guys being guys, the house gets messy.  I guess it would be too much trouble to take the cheese wrapper that you just had in your hand while making the sandwich, turn, take two steps, and throw it in the garbage can.  Why do that when it is so much easier to leave it on the counter?  There’s a house fairy that comes and cleans up after all the men in the house, right?

Yeah, it’s called Mom.

But for two glorious weeks they won’t be home and my house will be clean.

And quiet.

Too quiet.

Too clean.

No matter how much you clean the house is always a mess when boys live there.  But while they are gone my heart is a mess.  I think I prefer the messy house.

Copyright © 2010 Denise Duggan

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Hardest Thing

Written in response to a writing prompt which said to start a piece with "I used to think..."
I used to think being the mother of a toddler was the hardest thing in the world.  I used to think that, but as my son grew I realized it was only training for what was to come.  As he grew, I taught the basics – don’t touch the hot oven, don’t stick forks in light sockets, don’t pull yourself up on the entertainment center.  But now that I have to tilt my head to look into his eyes, I can see clearly a lack of important knowledge I must have failed to impart.

Grades have become a big issue in our house because my son hates homework (as if anyone really likes it).  He is in high school now and building the student resume that will open or close doors for him in his early twenties.  He talks about going in the Marines and being an aviator.  With his knowledge of airplanes and military matters, that sounds like a career that would fit him better than the flight suit he wants to wear.  But then I look at his report card.  He does well on tests but refuses to do homework.   He sees no purpose in it and is unwilling to let the school win.  Refusing to do it, he feels victorious.  He beat the school.  They couldn’t force him to do homework.  He cannot see the soul ache coming when the Marines tell him he has not proven himself and cannot be an aviator.  It is very hard to watch him throw his future away but since I refuse to stand over a seventeen year old while he does homework I usually try to avoid thinking about it.

I am also teaching him to drive.  What an adventure!  He actually does quite well at it.  He maintains a good speed and stays in his own lane.  He concentrates on what he is doing every time he drives – a skill I doubted he had mastered.  But we still have the occasional problem with rolling a stop sign.  And, of course, whenever we do, I get visions of him broken and battered, lying on the side of the road.  What if he is mortally wounded in a wreck and only has time to call and say goodbye like the guy on the news?  What if his only last wish is to feel his momma’s arms around him so she can kiss him and make his passing all better and he cannot have that?  It is very hard to think about the very real dangers of learning to drive, so I usually try to avoid it.

And don’t forget that the teenaged years bring perfumes as well as car fumes.  Ahhhh, relationships.  He has a very sweet girlfriend that I like very much.  I count myself extremely lucky that I like her, but, of course, the problem is he likes her very much too.  And we all know what happens when a teenage boy likes a girl that much.  Hell, we know what happens if they like her just a little.  Of course, being a teen, he believes nothing bad can ever happen to him.  Yes, we have had all the discussions about safe sex and the incredible responsibility of a baby.  But I cannot be with him on every date and when he goes to see her, I cannot help but think about what I was doing at seventeen.  I refuse to think about it for long, mind you.  It is hard to look at my baby and realize that he is biologically capable of fathering a child of his own despite his lack of preparedness so I refuse to think about it. 

I used to think being the mother of a toddler was the hardest thing in the world, but now I know better.  Parenting was so much easier when he was younger.  As cruel as it sounds, I knew if I let my son touch the still warm oven once it would cause him pain, but I wouldn’t have to worry about him touching it next time it was hot.  How do I help him experience just enough pain to understand “it’s better to have loved and lost….”?  How do I make him understand the desperate and certain self-loathing coming when he realizes he did not beat the school because the school was not playing and he has only himself to blame for throwing his dream away.  Do I wish for a small wreck as some sort of perverse vaccination against a bigger one?  

Friends with toddlers have asked me if it gets easier as they get older.  “When they’re older, they don’t need you near as often,” I tell them.  “But when they do have a problem, it’s bigger.”  And harder on your heart, I know, but I leave this out.  No sense in letting them know they are still in training and have not even begun to face the hardest thing in the world.

Copyright © 2010 Denise Duggan