Monday, February 28, 2011

High Heels and a High Calling

My last post explained that my husband and I recently hosted a huge event for my daughter's 15th  birthday. The celebration, called a Quinceañera, is a long-held custom in my husband's Hispanic culture.  It's a coming of age party, honoring the stage of a young girl's life in which she symbolically leaves behind her childhood and transitions into maturity.  One of the highlights of the reception is "The Changing of the Shoes."  In this time-honored tradition, her Father kneels down in front of her, slips off her flats and replaces them with high heels, symbolizing her transition into a young woman.  Then they have their first dance in her new high-heeled shoes.

I wrote the framework of the following poem when my daughter was two, and it still reflects her personality.  I never imagined this early, scrawling on notebook paper would call to me and evolve into a piece that would wistfully take me back to another life of Barbie high heels, bows and little blond pig-tails as she approached her Quinceañera.  As she grows, I hope her tenacity never wavers and her faith in God is able to move mountains.   I pray that her grasp of God's high calling in her life fuels her passion, fills her spirit with adventure and floods her soul with joy.

Worthy of Repeating:  Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did —except backwards and in high heels.

High Heels and a High Calling
My little girl—
She was sent straight from heaven 
in Barbie high heels—
the ones with the feathery foof.
I can hear her coming,
clack-clacking up and down stairs
and through mud puddles.

Pedaling a trike, she tackles hills
with the gusto of a Wall Street tycoon.
Pumping mightily, pig-tails flying,
she screeches through tears, "I can do it!"
That must be prophetic of her 
emerging personality—
Or maybe she's just two.

 She sings sweet songs in the night
to her bed full of babies 
who lie wonderously wide-eyed.
She doesn’t know it, but in her little heart
she holds the potential for the mightiest Power
on Earth or in Heaven—
a Mother’s love.
As a woman, she’ll pound the pavement 
of Denver or Dallas or Manhattan
with all the chaotic capitalism 
ingrained in her by her Daddy—
Trying out her wings in a great big world—
in her high-heeled shoes.
I know I’ll wish 
I could still hear her coming.
When my daughter encounters
the tempests of life,
 I pray she stands firm through the rain,
 raises her hands to Heaven,
and drinks in God’s power, 
for God tells of His love and His faithfulness
through the storms.
Right now God is forming her,
and He will help her understand
that her call as a woman is to nourish the Earth—
to give back deeply from her bounty,
touching everyone she sees
with a profound sense that, in her,
is Christ’s presence on Earth.
Cathy Cantu

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wet Towels and Womanhood

  I recently planned and thankfully pulled off a huge event for my daughter's 15th birthday. The celebration, called a Quinceañera, is a long-held tradition in my husband's Hispanic culture.  It's a coming of age party, honoring the stage of a young girl's life in which she leaves behind her childhood and transitions into a young woman.  It's very touching, but I wonder when this beautiful, young lady of mine will transition into picking up her wet towels off the bathroom floor.  One can always hope.

          A Quinceañera resembles a wedding—minus the veil and honeymoon.  I labored over the planning for nine months, and it prohibited me from submitting as many posts on this blog as I would've liked.  It was very stressful, but I brought most of it on myself due to my inherent personality quirks.  I stressed for hours about which font to use on the invitation yet forgot to tell the DJ what time to show up.  So, it's perfectly logical that I can remind my kids about their lunch cards in the morning but forget to pick them up from soccer practice. 

          Characteristic of me, I decided 24 hours before my event that the bling factor of the programs was insufficient.  My obsessive/compulsive Martha Stewart demon took over, rising like the Angel of Death in that Ten Commandments movie, from the tri-fold glossy flaps of my Mass program.  I imagined the programs kicked up a notch—ribbon, jewels, sparkly outlining.  You might as well just take me to Hobby Lobby and shoot me.  But not on Sunday, because every frazzled mom with an agenda knows HL is closed on Sunday.  

          Throughout the entire planning process, from deciding on a venue to hand-making the arrangement on my front door, I googled everything to death.  I not only wanted to find a great song for the dad/daughter First Dance, but I wanted to find the PERFECT song that no one had heard before—one that isn't played at every wedding in the world every Saturday night.  One morning after Youtubing songs for the First Dance until the wee hours, I plodded to the kitchen and plugged my IV into the coffeepot.  My bright-eyed daughter trotted up and simply said, "By the way, Mom, you know the Dance I have with Dad?  I want to play "My Wish" by Rascall Flats!"  If I could have a dollar for the number of times that's been played at wedding receptions in just the last month, I could've paid for the whole party.  That's why it's the first song that comes up when you google First Dances, for goodness sake.  She won.

          I spiraled through mazes of open tabs, googling ways to weave our "Aladdin/Moroccan" theme into the invitations, programs, color scheme, cake, chair covers, centerpieces and bouquets.  I scripted everything the priest and family recited in Mass, everything the DJ said, and every explanation of our symbolic traditions. To me, scripting every move meant a perfect Mass and reception.  But in reality, perfection often simply consists of a girl's adoring glance at her father or the surprise she feels entering the ballroom to the rousing applause of her friends.

          That night at the pivotal point of the evening, my husband knelt in front of his daughter and replaced her sparkly red Converses with silver high-heels, symbolizing her metamorphosis into a young woman.  She was beautiful, humble, a little embarrassed, and smiled like Cinderella as she danced with the first Prince Charming of her life—her dad.
          After a dance with her dad, brother and escort, the real party started, and the only thing my daughter had on her mind was Pit Bull and Taio Cruz.  We allowed the party to continue later than planned since everyone was having so much fun.  She stopped her father and me several times, gushing "This is the best party ever!"  That's all we needed to hear.  All the planning, all the late nights and meetings, and all the obsessing about perfection was worth it.  Never again will a party on such a scale be all about her.  Her next big celebration will include another Prince Charming. 
          As I hung up her beautifully beaded, heavy white dress, I visualized her perfect, dark skin, just like her dad's, and her beautiful smile.  I pushed the fluffy white tulle of her dress into her closet and still aglow with the warm fuzzies from a magical night, I silently breathed a prayer asking, "How could I ever be more blessed?"  I turned toward her bathroom.............The wet towels could be a start.  

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Male Vs. Female Approach to ATM Drive-throughs

Please forgive me for stealing this from an old email I received.   It was so good I saved it, AND I could actually find it.  Enjoy!
A new sign in the Bank Lobby reads: 
“Please note that this bank is installing new drive-through ATM machines with updated procedures.  After months of careful research , MALE and FEMALE procedures have been developed.  Please follow the appropriate steps for your gender when using this drive-through facility.”
  1. Drive up to the cash machine
  2. Put down your car window
  3. Insert card into machine and enter PIN
  4. Push the “accept” button when you accept to succumb to the highway  robbery bank will charge as your “convenience fee” because they made stupid loans.  (I added that part)
  5. Enter amount of cash required and withdraw
  6. Retrieve card, cash and receipt
  7. Drive off
  1. Drive up to cash machine
  2. Reverse and back up the required amount to align car window with the machine
  3. Set parking brake, put window down
  4. Find handbag, remove all contents onto passenger seat to locate card
  5. Tell person on cell phone you will call them back and hang up
  6. Attempt to insert card into machine
  7. Open car door to allow easier access to machine due to its excessive distance from car
  8. Insert card
  9. Re-insert card the right way
  10. Dig through handbag to find diary with your PIN written on the inside back page.  Dig through handbag for reading glasses to read PIN number.  Drop glasses between seat and console.  Wing it.
  11. Enter PIN
  12. Press cancel and re-enter correct PIN
  13. Push the “accept” button (see #4 in Male procedure above)
  14. Enter amount of cash required
  15. Check make-up in rear view mirror
  16. Retrieve cash and receipt
  17. Empty handbag again to locate wallet and place cash inside
  18. Write debit amount in check register and place receipt in back of checkbook
  19. Re-check make-up
  20. Drive forward 2 feet
  21. Reverse back to cash machine
  22. Retrieve card
  23. Re-empty handbag, locate card holder and place card into the slot provided
  24. Give dirty look to irate male driver waiting behind you
  25. Restart stalled engine and pull off
  26. Redial person on cell phone
  27. Drive for 2 - 3 miles
  28. Release Parking Brake.