the blind side

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Words are important to me.

My husband has to hear them, day-in and day-out, as I download my thoughts and he acts as the sounding board.  As a young girl I would write them in my diaries; the ones I burned when I sold my childhood home in 2003.  My sons can attest that I am always insisting that they say their words.  I tell them to advocate for themselves because, one day, Mom is not going to be here to speak for them.  I continue to type them, daily, in emails, comments, texts and blogs.  I am a communicator.

There comes a point, though, when the consonants and vowels, strung in sentences, are ineffectual.   Words.  They are powerful.  But they can be misconstrued, misinterpreted and used against you.  They can bring hurt and devastation in their wake.   They blind side.

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blind side: transitive verb. 1:  to hit unexpectedly from or as if from the blind side <blindside the quarterback>  2:  to surprise unpleasantly.   (n.d.). In Merriam Webster Online, Retrieved October 21, 2015, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/blindside.

I heard the words of my girlfriend, mobile phone in hand, as she processed the words in the text; blind sided.   I had dropped off one child and was en route to pick up the next; my Tuesday evenings the busiest in our week.  It was all I could do to hug her before I shuttled off for another child and my heart hurt; knowing she was angry and trying to make sense of it all.  I had no words to help her heal as she considered options on how to help her tween daughter navigate through queen bees and wanna bes.  I do not envy the middle school years, distinctly remembering the hormones and cliques.

But I recently realized that it is not only our children who experience these social dynamics of adolescence.  Adults experience these things too.  Exactly a week before, as I picked up the same son at the same location, the phone call came from another girlfriend; also blind sided.  It is painful for me to observe adults navigate in the same way as the adolescent tweens.  I find myself speaking the words no one chooses to say; the others choosing to be politically correct versus morally correct.  It’s the harder path to follow; it’s easier to feign ignorance.

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Respect is not a word I use lightly and when a person earns it; I will humbly serve and fight for what is fair; knowing that I most likely will be burned.  But at the end of the day, I have to know that I do the right thing; for myself but most importantly, for my sons.   I can’t tell them how to do the right thing.  They have to see it with their own eyes.  Actions speak louder than words.

I value integrity above all else.

I am a work in progress and have to restrain myself to sit still, to keep quiet, and to hear what others have to say.  To not throw words at people as I verbally spar.   To not shoot off the email that sits in my drafts folder.  To not interrupt when I want to correct or push for my point of view.  In my marriage I am the extrovert and it is my introvert husband who balances my tendencies.  He is a man of few words; but he is also one of action.  It frustrates him to have to hear my issues without the ability to fix them and as I share, he counters with the following quip to our sons and I.  Nobody loves a whiner.

For every problem bring me several solutions.

I try hard to re-teach myself to think this way.  To stop with the words and to seek resolution; even if the process is ugly and arduous.

Exhausted as we were, last Sunday, after working all day at an event; we made the effort to trudge through the local tourist attraction away from the distractions at home.  It takes effort to step away from the daily demands and schedules to make time to spend with others, just because.  When our dear friends offered free tickets, we knew it would be tight.  But the hubs and I constantly say we want to spend unstructured time with our boys before they leave our nest.  Our time grows short.  Fortified with coffee on four hours of sleep, we made the trek into the city to tour back lots and explore movie magic.  The hubs, a native, had never actually been here.

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As the sole female in my household, none of my sons speak in paragraphs; merely short, monosyllable sentences or grunts.  Each day, upon returning home from work, I ask each one, individually, how their day went.  I use multiple tactics to make them share, to leave my questions open-ended, to turn down the volume and stand directly in front of them.

Mom, the day goes just like any other day.  We go to school.  We do homework.  We hang with the same friends.  Why do you ask so many questions? 

I have been tempted to stalk them on Facebook, Steam,  Instagram or texts (I have the ability to do all of these things and they know this) but have come to realize that they will tell me in their own good time; most often when it is least convenient for myself.  No longer am I their sole confidante that can fix all things.  It was this a-ha moment that made me realize that this is how my husband feels about me.

And so I just do.  We walked the various attractions, stood in long lines amongst foreign tourists in hopes of meeting my girlfriend and her family in the park.  We never found one another; both the hubs and I’s phones ran out of charge as the park came to a close.  When the exhaustion hit, in the sixty-five minute Transformers line, I leaned into my husband and watched my boys observe everything around them; everything new.  I was grateful for this time; away from the sibling squabbles, school and work demands or daily chores.  My house remains a mess but the time spent was worth it.

I think of the shared post from the girlfriend above, a photographer.  To focus the lens on what’s important.  To develop (from) the negatives.  And to take the next shot.  We create our own portraits of who we are; the words unseen and unheard.

I want the portfolio of my life to be filled with shots and compositions of the people who choose to be transparent, authentic and do the right thing.  Those who will walk on my blind side and point me in the right direction with love, respect and integrity.

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I know the tween has her work cut out for her, to learn to walk away and to feel confident in her own skin.  That her worth is not defined by the quantity of friends but by the quality and that actions speak louder than words.  That her mom does not enter the drama and can advocate and mediate respectfully for what is right.   It was in high school that I learned to finally stand up for what was fair; mediating amidst a songleading squad full of prima donnas and alpha females.  I find myself in this role, once again, amidst adults; hoping someone will follow-through, that the words are not spoken in vain and that action will be taken in the right direction.

I seek resolution (both in action and high def pixelation).

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