Only The Lonely, As In Child

Something About Nothing in The Albert Lea Tribune the week of April 17, 2017

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

Whoopie! There is an Only Child Day, and I happen to be an only child! We have a day to celebrate so we don’t have to feel bad anymore when all those people post their pictures on Siblings Day. But what do we do with an only child day?

I think there are many misconceptions about only children. One of the ideas is that only children are spoiled. I was spoiled when I was an only child, but I think it had more to do with the fact that I was born to parents who were in their 40s who knew I would be the only child they ever had. Also, they lost twins earlier in their marriage. Contributing to the spoiling was perhaps the fact I was left with family or alone a lot because my parents were busy working.

There were perks of being an only child. I had a lot of toys. I didn’t have to vie with siblings for attention. In my case, I lived my early years in a household with a grandmother and an uncle who also — especially my uncle — did many special things for me.

He made me my own ice skating rink in the family garden. I had a swing and a homemade teeter-totter and a merry-go-round. My uncle also built me a winter slide from the top of the hay rack, which let me slide down the track across the entire pasture. If I think about that now, I can’t imagine anyone would let their child slide on a homemade contraption like that for safety’s sake today. It’s amazing I survived and never once did the sled leave the track.

I have memories of helping load hay and learning how to drive a small tractor. I spent a great deal of time with my uncle when my parents were working.

As a teenager, I spent most of my time either alone or with my friends. My parents were busy taking care of my grandparents and uncles and running their shoe store. Those who envied my spoiled life or those adults that blamed my parents because I was spoiled, didn’t see the other side of the picture.

I had a wonderful life as I grew up, but being an only child also has its ups and downs.

I spent much of my time with adults, so I learned to talk to other adults, which helped when I became an adult, or in volunteer activities when I was a teenager. I learned to handle death, as it was never hidden from me when a family member died, and I was included in plans. I got to travel with my parents, although at the time I didn’t appreciate all I got to see because I didn’t have other kids to mingle with on our journeys, unless we were visiting relatives. And, I didn’t have to fight with my siblings for toys, bedrooms, time with parents, television shows and whatever it is siblings fight about. I have imagination because I spent so much time playing by myself.

I still feel the downside to being an only child. It can be a lonely life. I spent so much time alone that as an adult in my younger years I did not like being alone. I wish I could experience the feelings others have for their sibling being love or hate or ambivalence. When it came time to making decisions for my mom, I was alone in the decision-making process.

I miss having a brother and sister to share memories with — good times and bad. Most of my mother’s and father’s close family are gone. I miss family get togethers at holidays with other relatives. And I must admit I don’t understand when brothers and sisters do not keep their connection going throughout their life.

My friends had to become my brothers and sisters. I don’t know how I would feel about a brother or sister family member, but I would imagine it is the way I feel about some of my friends. However, there still is a difference as friends have their own siblings and families they spend holidays with.

My being an only child influenced how many children I had. I did not want to have only one child because I felt it was a lonely life after your parents are gone. I am fortunate to have three children and five grandchildren. I still have family.

Can you miss what you never had? I do. Or maybe it is the idea of what could have been and what I see with others who are blessed with siblings. Sibling love is not always rosy, but usually that close family member has your back when the chips are down. In spite of the fights and feuds, the love is there.

I can’t quite figure out how to celebrate Only Child Day. Buy myself a gift? Buy a lottery ticket? Do something I did as a child by myself?

I think I want to celebrate next year and find another only child to share the day with. It’s more fun when there is two instead of one.

Alone With Myself

SOMETHING ABOUT NOTHING

by Julie Seedorf

Published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of March 27, 2017

I was home alone last week. Although my adventures weren’t quite as exciting as the “Home Alone” movie, I did have fun. Grandpa was cat sitting with the catkids. He left his cats at home to keep an eye on me. And they did. They stuck to me like glue.

I like to be home alone occasionally for a period of time. Earlier in my life I did not like being alone. I think perhaps I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin, but now I enjoy solitude for small periods of time when I don’t have to worry about meals, dishes, a clean house or doing what might be expected of me. I can be messy. I can be neat. I can turn my music up as loud as I want without worrying about another’s ears. I can clean in the middle of the night without waking anyone or I can sleep all day if I choose. We all need time with ourselves to rejuvenate and be free.

I took my home alone time to make a mess while cleaning closets, cupboards and whatever. When I clean, everything comes out and it is scattered throughout and then I put it back, but when I am alone I can leave it sit and come back to it the next day because I don’t inconvenience anyone.

This past week I found old papers from my mom’s house. I had stuffed them into a closet after she died, intending to read them a later date. I found my grandfather’s last will and testament dated 1923. I never knew my grandfather. He died in 1924.

I read through my mom’s old teaching materials. She taught in country school, and I was told she and my dad dated for 13 years. I found proof of that. It was her old calendar from 1934 where she detailed her day and what the weather was like, what family she stayed with each night when she taught, and the notations about her dates with my dad, where they went and the movies they saw. Yes, they had movies in 1934. I felt close to both of them as I read and I found a little part of my mom’s life before I was born, which gave me insight as to who she used to be when she was younger. They got married in 1946, so they did date for a long time. The problem in that era with getting married was religion. She was Catholic and he was Protestant, and she had a very Catholic Polish mother.

Then I hit the jackpot. I found all my writing papers dating back to high school and beyond. I forgot I took some classes through the mail at the University of Minnesota where I earned credit, and was amazed to find my grades were As. Why didn’t I lock that into my brain to give me confidence that possibly I could be a writer? The most valued paper I found was a speech I wrote about my dad at a time when he was ill. I was a senior in high school, and he died a couple of years later.

Having the house to myself with no interruptions gave me the time to savor the memories. Otherwise I might have tossed and not read this papers because I wanted to get things cleaned up. Like the kid in the “Home Alone” movie, I did have a few missteps. We will save my burned food adventure for another time, and I have instructed all those involved to silence or I may never get left home alone again.

My spouse is now home, and I am glad he is back. I am sure the fur will fly occasionally, although we always have a lot of fur flying because of our cat babies, but taking time for ourselves always leaves us happy to be back together even if he does hang the toilet paper one way and I do it the other. After all I hung it my way for a week. What could be better than that?

 

Wonderfulicious Weekend Whoopie

Well, it's a start.

Well, it’s a start.

It might seem like a writer’s life should be easy and free of stress because all we do is sit and write everyday, but there is so much more to a writers life and what we do. If we don’t take the time to spread our wings and experience something new it is hard to write, especially if we are not refreshed and replenished.This past weekend my friend Donna, a friend of over twenty-five years, and I decided to have a girl’s weekend and try something new. I would love to share our experiences with you.

Another friend of mine from my high school days by the name of Charlotte Laxen is a watercolor artist. I admire her work and her talent. She was teaching a beginner watercolor class at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum In Chaska Minnesota. Donna and I decided to spread our wings and bring out the inner artist that lives in each of us. Early Saturday morning spring finally arrived in Minnesota, and encouraged by the sunshine, we made the 90 mile trip to the Arboretum. We both were a little nervous because we weren’t sure what to expect.

The setting for the class couldn’t have been more perfect because even in the early spring the grounds were beautiful. Our painting classroom was on the second floor and we could view the arboretum grounds. The class was limited to ten people so it was not intimidating. We quickly bonded and felt at ease with the people in the room and made some friendships that will go on after the class.

We studied the different levels of color on our papers, the different weight of paper, how to use our brushes and experimented with different brush strokes. The classroom was full of laughter and joy. The seven hour class seemed to fly by.  I found another love and realized I have an artist in my soul and it needs to come out. Charlotte also offered inspiration about her life and dreams which inspired all of us going into the future. Now let me clarify, I don’t know that I will ever be good at watercolor but it feeds my soul and that is what is important.

My grandchildren’s mother offered us the use of her home while she was gone. We arrived to find flowers, wine, wine glasses, a welcome note and boxes of chocolates on our pillows. She made us feel very welcome and special.

Of course part of a great weekend is food and we decided  to try places we had never been so we picked Turtle’s Bar and Grill in Shakopee for dinner. I might add at noon we ate at the Arboretum and the food was outstanding. We planned on taking in the movie “Hello My Name Is Doris” with Sally Field after dinner and when we arrived at Turtle’s the place was packed and we didn’t think we would be out in time. We were amazed,not only by our waitress, but by the service. We had our meal within fifteen minutes.

We loved the movie. Sally Field was outstanding. The movie was funny, moving and actually had a good message for what happens in our lives.

The next morning we visited my son and grandchildren and were treated to breakfast and then we continued on to the Spring Arts and Craft Show at Canterbury.  In the three hours we tried some food, oohed and aahed over the artistic people and artwork, which refreshed my creativity and made me want to find a talent and join the craft circuit. Another dream for my life? I ran into my Sisters In Crime friends Jessie Chandler, and Brian Landon and his fiancé.  I need to copy Jessie’s excitement and sales talk. I loved their enthusiasm so much I taped it for a reminder for me.  Of course I bought some of their books.

We couldn’t end our weekend at the Craft Show so we stopped at Mazopiya, a natural foods market in Prior Lake and picked up some healthy food to take home.

Of course our eating had to continue and we stopped in New Prague at the Fishtale Bar and Grill, another place we have never visited. I ordered some soup which name I didn’t know what it meant and couldn’t pronounce, but it was a cream soup with dill and something about a dill pickle and potatoes and green beans in it and it was delicious along with my burger. Donna had the Jambalaya with fish and sausage. Regretfully it was time to travel on home.

However, when we drove into the community of Waseca and past the Dairy Queen we made one more stop. We topped off our weekend with a Chocolate Shake for me and a Chocolate Sundae for Donna. Yes, we probably came home a little heavier and tired but we had a rejuvenating weekend of mind and friendship. In fact we are plotting our next journey into learning something new and trying new places and of course food.

This was our journey and though the way I described it may seem boring, I want to encourage everyone to try something new, take time away to rest and replenish and find that which feeds you. Try something you think you might not like and you may find it is exactly that which nourishes you into tomorrow. You don’t have to be good at it, it just has to feel good to you. You can never go wrong either with a  weekend of laughter and bonding with friends.

My quote from my gratitude journal today: You may be disappointed if you fail but you are doomed if you don’t try. -Beverly Sills