Army of Love

army-of-love“Mom, will you help me make a bunch of paper airplanes?  I’m making an Army of Love.”  Jenny showed me how to fold the paper, told me the color order and where the gas tank went, and we made 13 paper jets.  As we were folding and coloring and giggling and talking of paper cuts, I asked her how she came up with the idea.  “I dunno,” she said.  “It’s a good idea.  I think they should fly over the world dropping candy hearts, like little love bombs.”

While my daughter might have a fine imagination, she also knows of the practicality of forming an Army of Love.  I don’t need to spoil the fun by saying, “Come on, Jen, do you really think there’d ever be such a thing?  Wouldn’t it really be an Air Force of Love, even if it could be real?”

She’s exploring possibility through art and writing.  She’s gotten a taste of the more unpleasant aspects of life.  It’s good to balance that with the freedom to try, to imagine, to pretend.

It’s good to be free to wonder.

It’s good to be allowed to try, with the belief that anything is possible.


When they told me not to quit college, they said it would be a huge mistake, that I’d never go back to get my degree; and I believed them.  But finally, one afternoon in the third week of Spring quarter of my junior year, I found myself sitting in a desk, staring at a chalkboard where an instructor had written, “I&ME”.  I looked from the instructor to the chalkboard to my notes, and back to the chalkboard.  I couldn’t clearly tell if I was in a management class or a Japanese as a Second Language class.

I walked out and quit college.

I went back a year later with focus and determination, and finished my degree.

When they told me I ought to get a real job that paid better, I took their advice.  I spent 18 months sitting at a desk, staring at a clock that either was broken or incredibly slow, because it never reached five o’clock when I thought it should.

I quit that job.

I took a job cooking.  Then I took another job at different restaurant, then a coffee shop, then a bakery.  I worked a lot of  jobs that I enjoyed – jobs that didn’t pay much, but jobs that made me look forward to getting out of bed and going to work.

When they said I shouldn’t leave my husband and raise two kids on my own, I trusted that they knew better.  I spent many nights quietly crying in bed, wondering if I was tough enough to raise two kids on my own. When I couldn’t sleep any more and my stomach wouldn’t quit hurting, I packed up my kids and we left.

Now I sleep through (most) nights, my stomach doesn’t hurt, and my kids are free to be who they are in a healthy, safe and happy home.

When they said I would be making a mistake by taking my kids out of public school, I agonized for months and questioned my instincts.  The three of us wrote pro/con lists for weeks, while Will and Jen complained of upset stomachs and talked of how they hated recess because they just wanted the day to be over.

We made the choice to home school – against the advice of almost every single person we know – and we’ve never been happier.


Now I know what they meant when they were giving me advice. They meant those choices – quitting school, working odd jobs, divorcing and homeschooling – wouldn’t work for them.  Their advice was about them.  They weren’t trying to frighten me or discourage me.  Those folks wanted the best for me, but their suggestions would not work for me.

When Jenny thinks she can create an Army of Love, who am I to tell her it can’t be done?

Are you following advice meant for others?

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  1. Jesse – your post today is very powerful. It really makes me want to sit down and consider whether I am following advice meant for others. After I checked out your blog I checked another one that I often visit, and found that she had a very similar message today. The other blogger is “Mulderfan” and she borrowed an excerpt from an article called “Using Borrowed Spectacles”. I thought I’d just leave a quote from the excerpt:

    “To truly see your problems or concerns and to examine your life you must look through your own eyes, your own spectacles, using your own experiences, your honesty and your values. Not someone else’s. In other words do not use borrowed spectacles.”

    I think the fact that you both posted on the same topic today is a sign for me.

    What a wonderful world it would be if there really was an “army of love”.

    To be honest, when I first read the subject of your post I thought it was referring to the “army of love” that is existing in cyberspace through people connecting through blogs like yours, and sharing their ideas on how to make happier lives.


  2. Reese,

    Love, LOVE your interpretation of the “Army of Love”. I know that Army (you included) has had my back since I started this blog.

    Thanks for including the excerpt from “Mulderfan”.

    Heading over to check it out now.

    Don’t you just love those signs from the Universe?

  3. Why wouldn’t Jenny think she could create an Army of Love? That little girl is FULL of love, warmth and compassion…just like her mom. I love her, Will and you for all you do and are.

  4. Jo,

    You have amazing timing. The three of us were having a tearful pow wow just now.

    As grown up as she is, Jenny hates going to the back side of our ‘humongous’ house by herself. She’s afraid and doesn’t feel safe. She says the only thing that will make it better is having another grown up in the house. Since that isn’t an option, she thinks it would be better if we did things with more of our extended family.

    You are on the list, as are your folks. Expect a call. I need to do a better job of filling her life with others. Before we know it, she’ll have her ‘Army of Love’.

    p.s. I’m hoping all this is a symptom of winter weariness, but in the meantime, I need to call in reinforcements.

    love you


  5. WE. ARE. HERE…just call!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Jo

    Thanks. Sleep well.

  7. Wish you were here. Wish we were there! Sigh . . . We’re in your “virtual” army – we’re definitely there in spirit! Xx

  8. Kate,

    Thanks, dear. Miss you. :)

  9. Jesse, I hadn’t checked in on your blog comments in a while and just came across this thread. I’m glad you popped in while Will did his job yesterday. It’s always such a treat to see you and the kids.

  10. Pat,

    Jenny insisted on calling to see if we could stay. Thanks for being so gracious with our barging in. Jenny needed that.

    Thanks for dinner, too. :)

  11. Makes me feel good that she knows it’s okay to ask.

  12. Pat,

    Me, too. I’m so glad she didn’t get my “Don’t Impose” gene.

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