Fade to Grey

    Black and white is easy. 

I come from black and white. I don’t live there anymore, but it is where I started.

    Growing up, I had an ironclad vision of the expectations that were placed upon me. Black and white. Wrong and right. Not a whole lot of in-between.

    I’m sure at the time I probably didn’t view it all that favorably.

    Now I do.

    But it isn’t just nostalgia.

    Parenting in today’s 3D Digital world can be deeply disorienting at times.

    It makes me long for an era when the rules were simple and clear. And laid out by somebody else. Sometimes I think that the only thing scarier than the fact that my friends and I are in charge is the thought that someday our children will be.


    And what tools have we given them to handle that responsibility?

    On off days, I think –not nearly enough.

    But then I look to the black and white world my parents gave me and wonder how grey became my favorite color.

    Like my parents, and theirs before them, I’ve tried to add to what they built.  My own structure may look different and feel unsettlingly unstable at times, but the foundation of it was long ago set. I started from the same premise they did –to give to my kids more than I had. Just a little bit more. And in some ways, I have. I’m just not sure I’ve always chosen the right ways.

    Our literal house is bigger and our town smaller. We have more land and less worries about it. We’ve taken more vacations. I’ve spent more time on fields, in parks and on playgrounds. More time in my kids’ classrooms. I’ve had memberships to the library, the PTO, the museum. My children have had a lot of lessons, and teams and coaches. My daughter orders her clothes online as if it’s a part time job. My son thinks Zildjian cymbals are the only kind worth having and so he has them. My kids have had access to a whole lot of stuff. Material things –lots of them.

    But they often don’t make their beds. And have to be reminded that dishes go in dishwashers. And clothes go on hangers that hang in closets. Their rooms are messy and they don’t share them with anyone else. They’ve never had paper routes or shoveled snow or washed cars to make a buck. My daughter forgets to make those birthday thank-you phone calls. My son goes to bed without saying goodnight.

    Something’s off-kilter. How is it that they do less, and get more?  How is it that I –and I don’t think I’m alone- have allowed this to happen?

    It’s different.

    Sounds like a cop out, huh? But isn’t it different? I want to say that times are different; were different. But then, that phrase sounds too reminiscent of my parents: Those were the days. You don’t know how lucky you have it. You have it easy. It sounds too much like my parents sounding like theirs. And I don’t want to lay blame on a past that’s faded by hues of nostalgia.

    Instead, I place the blame on myself. And I don’t think our parents did that. They might have known guilt, but not doubt. At least not when it came to raising their children. Black and white. Simple.

    I often think that my muted tones don’t measure up.

    But then I look to my own beginnings and realize that my parents laid some solid ground work. And I have built upon it. And in spite of the shaky ground on which it sometimes seems to stand, I’ve got to believe that it can withstand even the seismic activities of late.

    Because its pillars are made of some pretty powerful stuff.

    Pillars of strength -and love. Trust and belief. Respect and encouragement. Kindness and warmth. Family. And food. . .

    A few weeks ago, my daughter texted me a rainbow. There’s a story behind it, but that’s not important. What is is that she knew that sending it to me would make my day. I kid often about how we’ve all lowered the bar with regard to the expectations we place on our children. But the rainbow wasn’t low. It was pretty high, actually. She looked up to the sky, appreciating a specter which many do. Then, she snapped a photo from her phone, and forwarded it along. To Me. Because she knows me. In a way that I may not have known my mother.

    So I’ve been thinking. If I had settled upon only the black and white I knew, I probably would have missed a whole lot of rainbows.

8 thoughts on “Fade to Grey

  1. Yes I can relate to this, but the one line that stands out to me is: my son goes to bed without saying goodnight. My children have never gone to bed before me!

  2. Love this weeks blog Linda! Thanks for making me appreciate the gray for what it truly is and for confirming that it is not just my girls who have messy rooms, sometimes don’t say goodnight, and most times cannot find the dishwasher! I too have come to make the most of their little gestures which translate to great big I love yous!

  3. I have to laugh. When my husband recently asked why Alex and I woke him up in the middle of
    the night with our argument, I pointed to the time. He then agreed and said -why is she staying
    out so late? I told him I was pretty sure her brother was paying her. He’s the one who’s trying
    to kill me. Michael, however, does need his rest.

  4. My sister-in-law and I always laugh about how very low the bar is.  A please is usually
    prompted. A thank-you gets way high marks. And an “I love you” is met mostly with
    skepticism and the feeling that he’s either kidding or there’s another shoe to drop -soon.

  5. As you and I have discussed, the bar is low and because of that the smallest “wins” can make our day. Any time our kids think long enough about us during an average day to send us something or confide in us is a day to remember and to cherish. Well done.

  6. As usual, Linda, your posting is eloquent and oh, how I can relate! I think our parents had doubts too, but we kids were too busy trying to grow away from them to notice. I try to recall how I treated my parents – did they have to ask me to help set the table, or put the dishes in the dishwasher or make my bed…my parents didn’t demand very much of me, but I know I did all those things without being reminded (my room was a mess, but the bed was made). As a parent, I didn’t compromise on the foundation of respect and love my parents taught me; I chose not to sweat the neatness requirement. Turns out that Zach’s college dorm is neater and more organized than his room at home ever was.

  7. Linda, Great blog on Fade to Grey. As many of the others wrote I’m glad to hear my girls are not the only ones with the messy rooms and that they have so much more than we ever had and yet do so much less. I just worry about the long term- have I given them a strong enough base to build on? I’m not sure I will or want to be around by the time they have kids but the answer to that question remains to be seen. In the mean time will continue to try and build the foundation whenever I can.

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