Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bones in the Winter

Not too long ago just about this time of year, I attended a Bone Mother ceremony. This is a way to help teach women to listen and to hear the wisdom of the mothers who have come before us that is carried in our bones.

Many cultures believe that some knowledge is passed down genetically in our very bodies. Scientists are starting to realize that some animals exhibit behaviors that seem to support this assertion. If we accept that this can be true, we can feel comforted that, perhaps, when we listen deeply to ourselves, we listen to the voices of all the mothers who came before us and we carry their lessons into our lives.

I believe that the gathering with our elders in this time of the year when the Earth begins to prepare for slumber, when the darkness creeps in a little more each day, when we are worrying about heating the house for the Winter and "putting by" enough to eat, is in some ways, about listening to the voices in our bones. We draw close to our own mothers (spiritual or physical) to listen to their wisdom in a time when it is easy to doubt our own voices.

For some, this is really a symbolic exercise but, for others, it can be more traditional. Maybe you all sit around and tell stories of your elders before you or you learn at your Grandmother's elbow exactly what she puts in her dressing this year. Maybe your Grandfather tells you a story about how he met and courted your Grandmother and you learn how you wish to be looked at and cherished. Maybe this year is the first year you are allowed to eat at the big table.

Maybe you learn, for the first time, the traditions of your new spouse or maybe you simply continue to learn the traditions of his family.

Maybe your lessons are less positive or happy. When the past's rusty doors squeak open, we can't say which memories slip out on cat's feet.

Still, here we are closer to death than any other time of the year, it is true. We are also closer to more lives than we normally have access to; those whose lives we carry in our bones.

Listen to your bones.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Chuck E. Chili's

My husband and I have no children, not our own nor from any previous relationships. It's a choice we made and we are happy with it. We don't hate children and they aren't evil. I handle child noise and such better than he does but even I get a little on edge with the screams sometimes.

I understand, as does he, that we cannot expect a restaurant that caters to families to ever be child free. I don't think it's a lot to ask that it be screaming-jumping-running-shouting child free. I also don't think it's a lot to expect a parent not to use in a restaurant meal time to encourage a small child to squeal loudly and shriek at the top of it's lungs. But then, what do I know?

We went to Chili's tonight. It's a weeknight, a Monday no less. Half the restaurant, literally, was empty as in no one at the tables at all. It was about 5pm when we got there. The hostess started to seat the two of us in a corner with three families with small and already shrieking children around us. We asked if we could sit in quieter area and she gladly complied but we were still on the same side of the restaurant with the families while no one NO ONE was on the other, much quieter, side of the restaurant. Hey, I get it. You don't want the limited wait staff to have to cover the whole place like a volleyball team playing on a football field. That makes sense.

Then, the hostess, who seated us in this quieter area (a relative term I assure you as the music was turned up loudly enough so that we had to almost shout to be heard) proceeded to fill all the tables on all sides of us with families with loud screaming children.

The manager asked if there was anything she could get for us and I told her a cone of silence would be awesome as I couldn't hear myself think. She laughed and said she didn't have one and I said I thought not. We finished our food as quickly as possible and left. We even discussed taking the food to go and eating it next door in McDonalds because it was actually quieter there but I was too stubborn to give up.

I get it. You want to go out as a family. I get that it's impossible to keep a small child from occasionally shrieking in delight or displeasure. It happens. I don't really want to hear it while I'm eating though. It doesn't mean I hate children. I hate noise.

Why can't a restaurant like Chili's just seat the patrons with children in the same area together and double up the wait staff in that section and then seat couples or groups of adults without children in a separate area, like on the other side of the bar? Ask the childless adults if they would like family seating or something more low key or find any phrase you like to describe it. Please, I beg of you, let me have a quiet dinner out. I now dread going back there. Loud music, screaming kids, a hostess who doesn't understand the meaning of quiet.... I want to relax with my husband somewhere where other people will cook for me and I don't have to take out a second mortgage to afford to eat.

Please understand. It's not really about the kids. It's about the noise. Whatever your arguments on what to expect as appropriate behavior from child in a restaurant, I make no judgement on that.

Just please let me relax in your establishment without so much noise and PLEASE turn down the music while you are at it. It really only makes it worse.