Summer has brought some really great guest bloggers to Be The Difference over the last month. I love the different writing styles, personalities and the heartwarming stories that have been shared every Wednesday. Today I welcome Maggie. Maggie and I met at Lifetime years ago. Maggie and her husband Will took my Tuesday morning class forever! Maggie and I had our babies about 6 weeks apart and have been growing closer every since (we will be having our next two children three months apart!) Maggie also write for Be The Difference almost two years ago. She wrote a Cloth Diapering Series. You can follow Maggie over at Enlarging Marge.
When Maria tapped me to write a guest post on her fab blog, I was honored and eager, especially given the subject. My mother and her family are tradition people. I had plenty of material to work with. But then, when I sat to write, I realized that some of my fondest memories are from accidental traditions. Small traditions. Actions and experiences that occur seemingly spontaneously. “Traditions” formulated by my non-tradition loving dad.
When I thought more about it, I realized that, like my father, standard traditions make me a titch antsy. Where there are traditions, there are expectations. And, where there are expectations, there is frequently disappointment. By bucking tradition and creating special “moments,” my mechanical engineering, plan-to-the-hilt dad embraced spontaneity and left my brother and I with indelible memories.
Peter and I shared a room. When our street-side room in our lakeside home flashed with lightning and trembled with thunder, we trembled too – right across the hall into Mom and Dad’s room. Now, a little background. Mom was our savior. A former kindergarten teacher turned full-time stay-at-home Maggie and Peter minder and magic maker. She cooked eggs for breakfast. Pedaled us to the beach. Wiped our noses and bloody knees. Dedicated her life to our happiness. So, logic would lead you to believe that we’d crawl into bed next to her, or that she’d usher us back to our twin beds so that my hard-working dad could sleep until his Mead Paper 7 a.m. start time.
Memorably, when lightening and thunder was involved, this was rarely the case.
Instead of Mom doing the consoling, Dad stepped in. The three of us would pad along the brown shag carpeted hallway and down narrow staircase to the first floor. My dad would set us up in front of the large picture window overlooking Lake Michigan, pontificating on the science behind storms as bolts of lightening razored from clouds to water. He’d count with us the time between flash and thunderous boom, all the while busying himself in the kitchen.
Ten minutes later, hands laden with a tray holding plates and mugs, he’d usher us onto the street-facing screen porch and a squeaky metal, somewhat musty, gliding couch. There, flanked by two fearful children, my dad would dole out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hot chocolate. Our science lesson would continue as we watched the rain fall in curtains around the streetlamps. If it was a particularly long storm he sometimes slid into a thunder-inspired, dad-fabricated story, punctuated by magic carpets and marshmallow-filled pools.
I don’t remember how he got us back to bed. But, I know that in the morning, our windowsill damp with the night’s rain, Peter and I would meet our mother in the kitchen. Our father would be gone, working at The Mill.
It became a tradition, but not the kind with expectations. Two sun-browned kids, without access to The Weather Channel, we didn’t know when we’d find ourselves fearfully jolted awake by window rattling thunder. It was organically generated magic.
Now, with a two-year old under foot and another on the way, I’ve begun mimicking my father. During daytime downpours, Maizey and I pull the ottoman to the patio door, open it, snuggle together with popsicles and watch the rain. It wasn’t intentional. It just happened. It’s not stressful. It doesn’t require preparation and there aren’t expectations. It is just a special, quiet, spontaneous, storm-motivated five or ten minutes we spend together.
Maggie, on street-facing porch, on the musty metal gliding sofa, with her dad, Bob