Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Oprah Moment

For almost twenty years now, I have lugged around a Franklin Planner. My attachment began back in my Gateway days, when it was a required accessory. (Woe be unto any management employee who dared to use a Post-It note after having been through Franklin Planner training.) Back then it was a “Classic” size, issued in burgundy faux leather.

When it fell apart, I bought my own, a similar version to the Gateway-issued one. Through the years, I discovered the “Monarch” size, which suited me better because it held 8 ½” x 11” documents. I bought two blue leather ones, and today own a black Monarch made of some washable synthetic material. It holds calendars, planning pages, room to journal, an address book, grading scales, lesson plans, and goal pages. 

My planner is vital to me because I have a problem. I can’t stop thinking.

At any given moment, my mind is racing with story ideas, blog topics, ways to help teach my son, scrapbook projects, organizing tips, songs that I wish they would dance to on TV, gift ideas for family and friends, emails I want to send, people I want to help, trips I want to take, obligations I have to meet, crafts I want to try, books I need to read, chores that need to be done, and so on. I’m never bored. Without my planner though, without a schedule, I could sit for hours thinking about it all. My planner keeps me focused and helps me make sure that I am fitting in all that I want to accomplish.

However, ninety minutes is allotted every day for “free time.”  Lately, more often than not, I am spending my free time with Oprah.

Many of you probably know that Oprah has less than two weeks left in her twenty-five year run. She is spending these last days making every show an impact. It’s been a rare day in the last month since school let out that I haven’t been intrigued by her show.

Oprah’s show the other day featured some of her more memorable moments. One such moment included a candid confession by author Toni Morrison. She said that when her children were growing up, she assumed they felt her love for them because she was always doing things for them and helping them function in life. Surely they knew they were important to her, right?

Her world view was shattered one day when her young son brought her a picture he had drawn. She looked at it and smiled and said something like, “That’s nice.”  In front of her, he ripped the paper and threw it on the floor. She asked him why he did that, because she had told him it was a nice picture. How he answered shook her to her core: “Because I saw that smile on your face.”

She knew very well what he meant by “that smile.” It was the smile of a preoccupied mother. The smile that says, “I’m busy with something else, but I will react just enough to pacify you.” Her son knew it well. I’ve smiled that same smile myself.

Toni changed her attitude right then. She decided that from that day on, her eyes would light up when her children walked into the room. Her children started to really know that their mother loved them. They no longer had to assume that she did by the tasks she performed.

Yesterday I had a similar situation. For Mother’s Day, Weston got me a beautiful white floppy hat, perfect for wearing in the garden or at the beach. I loved it, and told him so. I pictured it shading my face on a hot, sunny day at the beach. Yesterday he approached me and said, “You don’t even like that hat I got you.”

“Of course I like it,” I said. “I love it. I told you I did.”

“But you’ve never even worn it.”  Ouch.

How could I have been so insensitive? Why didn’t I prance around the house wearing that hat the day I got it? Why didn’t I proudly wear it to church even though it didn’t “go” with my outfit? My vision of wearing it on a future trip to the beach didn’t mesh with his idea that a person who loves a hat simply wears it.

Years ago, I saw a news segment about Linda Evans, star of The Big Valley and Dynasty. Her former husband, John Derek, said something along these lines: “I used to love being around Linda because every time I walked into the room, her eyes lit up. Then I realized that Linda’s eyes light up no matter who walks into the room.”

Don’t you love it when you see someone you know, and their eyes light up at the sight of you? Our children deserve to experience that same feeling in our presence.

I’ll be wearing my hat in the garden tomorrow.


  1. I loved that show and your story.

  2. nice post Randi... really hit home. :( New opportunity today to change that, so I will. Thanks!

  3. Anonymous: Thank you! It was a touching show.

    Sandy: That show really hit home for me too. I hope I never forget its message.

  4. Food for thought. However, we can't walk around all day in constant wonder at our children. Now Weston might say or think that you're wearing the hat only because he mentioned it. Sometimes, no matter how many compliments kids get, they're still insecure. Grace once commented that a boy at school said that grandparents say you're cute or pretty even if you aren't.

  5. Auntie: Good point. I think the same holds true for adults as well. We probably all know someone who, no matter how many sincere compliments are given, still feels insecure and inadequate.

  6. Well now, that made me think. I fear that I'm also guilty of that smile.
    Randi, you really are living life at a seemingly reckless pace. You need more that 90 minutes or you'll burn out...I speak with authority:)

  7. This post is very poignant. The picture you painted is compelling. Well done.
    I'd love to see a photo of you in that hat :)

  8. Ken: Not to worry--I won't burn out because I love doing almost all of my "have to's." You're so kind to me...

    Life 101: Thank you! Yes, I will take a photo in that hat. :)

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Life 101: I mean I will have someone else take a photo. :)

  11. love this! Great reminder. It's so easy to let it slide and assume they understand.
    (But I do agree with Granny/Auntie M that you CAN overdo it.)

  12. A timely post, m'dear! I gave my teenage daughter EXACTLY that smile today as she was talking to me about music while I was at the computer.I ALWAYS engage with her when we talk about music, but today I was back online for the first time in months and trying to cram far too much in again before I got overwhelmed, or stiff from sitting and had the urge to log off. When I finally focused in on what she was saying, I realised I'd missed a whole phrase, a sentence maybe, and because of that, the rest didn't really make sense. I was too scared (she's a teenager and quick to attack my flaws)and ashamed to confess what I'd done. I feared she'd call me, quite rightly, a hypocrite because I'm always urging her to engage fully and listen actively. Because of an inbox full of emails, I missed a special moment with my baby girl.

    Can I use your blog as a confessional? Not only did I miss a moment with my daughter because of being online, but within an hour of logging on, I'd noticed that someone who knows I've been away for health and family reasons had referred to their blog as a place for sharing the journey several times, this in a post about rebranding and a change of direction and purpose. I know I didn't coin the phrase and have no claim to it but it left me strangely irked about search engines and all sorts of ungracious feelings. Experiencing such petty and unpleasant, ungracious feelings reminded me of one of the reasons I'd walked away from blogging; I don't want to become that kind of person. On the other hand, visiting your blog today has calmed me down, given me back my sense of perspective and made me remember why I got into blogging in the first place; to share the things that get our days on track and to focus on the what's most important in life, in our case, Randi, that'd be the love, pain and learning that comes with being human, and especially with being a mum. I wish I had your gift for blogging about it with humour!

    I noticed that you had a deleted comment space. If it was anyone or anything nasty, please don't pay any heed. Your blog's wonderful, your readers love you and you are a star!

  13. Jill: I agree with the overdoing it part, too. I've seen some mothers who praise their children for every small action, to the point where the child doesn't know what sincerity even means.

    Janice: I've done that more often than I'm comfortable with. And like you, I know when I've done it, because I have to ask my son to repeat what he said when I was too busy smiling, nodding, and trying to do other things at the same time.

    That would be so discouraging to see that someone used your blog's theme and is revamping it to make it their own! Even though I didn't invent the phrase "foreign quang" I would feel the same as you if someone started a blog and talked about life's foreign quang, and said it was about noticing the small things. Frustrating.

    Thanks for being protective of me about the deleted comment. It was actually my own comment that I deleted though because it posted the same comment twice. Thanks for your kind words, my friend! Glad to see you again!

  14. I bet you'll be rocking that hat Randi!! Love the quote about Linda Evans too. Really nice post to reflect upon today Randi :) Love your blog!!!


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