Sharing His Sole

Years ago, when I first got married, my husband would get SO frustrated with finding Evan's shoes in the doorway. He would say, "Why can't he take them off somewhere besides right where he knows we'll be walking?" or "Can he not pick them up and put them somewhere else?" Even though that was before we started radically unschooling, it didn't get to me at all. It was just something Evan did - I didn't take it personally or anything. I would just move them (when I remembered) before my husband got home.

Those shoes in the doorway have become such a loving symbol to me - every time they're there, I think, "Evan wants me to think of him," so I do, and I smile, and send love. I am so grateful to have him as my son; he has taught me so much, this boy who made me a Mama. I would not have started the parenting path I did had he not been so sweet and kind. If he had been a "typical boy" (what does that mean?), it's possible I would have put him in school and he would do OK, and we'd have the regular arguments about homework and time on the computer and video games... and shoes in the doorway.

As it is, his spirit was so great and he was so amazing (and still is!), I knew he needed to be nurtured at home, not forced to become someone he's not in order to fit in. His needs were the inspiration for me to grow, to question conventional parenting, and the impetus for us to make this amazing life.

A recent post on Always Learning made me smile:

You ed: (this was written to the list, but Pam Sorooshian in particular) wrote:

Stop thinking about changing "for good and not just for days or moments." That is just another thing to overwhelm you and you don't need that!

Just change the next interaction you have with the kids.

Stop reading email right now and do something "preventative" - something that helps build your relationship with them. Fix them a little tray of cheese and crackers and take it to them, wherever they are, unasked. Sit down on the floor and play with them. If nothing else, just go and give each of them a little hug and a kiss and say, "I was just thinking about how much I love you."

Okay - so that is one good, positive interaction.

Here's the link:


That thing about the cheese and crackers really jumped out at me then, whenever it was (years ago, I'm thinking) that I first read it. The simplicity of it, the love and tenderness in the gesture. Such an ordinary thing, fixing a plate of cheese and crackers, and yet--and yet--

"Take it to them, wherever they are, unasked." Anticipating a possible need, showing love with action, not making a big deal or grand gesture out of it. It's an active kind of love that is thinking about the other person and putting yourself in his shoes and imagining what would make that person feel happy and loved.

I don't know why that post gobsmacked me the way it did the first time I read it, but it made me examine the best relationships in my life and appreciate the magnitude of the little things people did for me, like the way my husband always keeps our Brita water dispenser filled up. I don't even notice it & could easily take it for granted. I'm the one home all day drinking the water, but I bet I haven't refilled that thing more than five times in five years--probably times he was out of town. He keeps it filled up because he loves me. There are things like that I do for him, and for each of my kids, some things I was doing even before I read that post and started really thinking about how much love there can be in a simple quiet act like bringing a plate of snacks to someone playing a video game. Ever since I read the post, I think of it all the time, looking at my children, thinking, What kind of cheese and crackers could I bring them right now? It's figurative--"cheese and crackers" has become my mental code for looking for nice little things to do for my kids. Or sometimes if I catch myself starting to be cross or distracted, I'll think: "where's the cheese and crackers?" It's a memory-trigger for me, a reminder to be present and nice.

So now, when I see Evan's shoes in the doorway, I think of something kind I can do for him, then I go do that thing. His shoes won't be there forever! He's already 16. His shoes provide me with an opportunity to open my heart a little bit, spread a little bit of love & caring.

I am one blessed Mama.


Faith Void said...

this is Faith appreciating this once again :-)

Lynn said...

Thanks,I really needed that this morning:-)xx

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful. Knowing all of you - meaning all 3 of you- I know how sincere this is and it is another example of how selfless you are, how unending your love is for your boys.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just came over from Lynn's blog and wanted you to know this post has really inspired me. Thanks :) xx

jasmine said...

So beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Interesting perspective. I can't help but wonder though, is this the doorway to his room or the main one, where all who enter will trip over the obstacle? I believe that teaching children to pick up after themselves in consideration of the others around them is also an act of love and caring, ultimately making their life a bit easier.

dharmamama said...

@ Anonymous - As he's gotten older, the shoes are in the doorway less and less, because he's naturally become aware of the effect of any kind of clutter on the floor. I had to pose that picture because it had been DAYS since I had the idea for the post, and his shoes were always put away! They are both smart kids, and have varying degrees of awareness about stuff on the floor. *I*, personally, used to have a blind eye about clutter and things on the floor. I could step over something like 20 times before I went, "Oh! I could pick this up!" It was just part of my makeup, to be kinda clueless. And, believe me, I was "taught" about mess, and objects on the floor, etc. as a child. No amount of yelling, nagging, withdrawal of affection on my mom's part changed my cluelessness; it changed when I was ready for it to change. (actually, probably later, because of residual rebellion against the yelling, nagging, etc.)

He doesn't need to be "taught" that, because he lives in the world; he walks through doorways, too.

He's learning thoughtfulness because we live thoughtfulness, not because I teach it. And he's learning it in his own time.