Friday, May 27, 2011

Moving On and Growing Up

I remember nine months ago driving to work, tears clouding my vision.

My little boy was starting kindergarten.  My baby.

I was heart sick.

How could our time together already be coming to a close?

How was it possible?

What would I do with my time on my two days off without him there with me?

I couldn't stand the thought of being in that house without my kids.

I went and was fingerprinted and had a background check and received my substitute teacher certification, so that I could spend some time at the very school they went to.  It would help me to fill the empty days.

But do you know what?

I never found the time to actually give it to the school.

Not one day was I simply at home without something to do.

In fact, I could count on one hand with fingers left over how many days I was at home the entire time between their drop-off and pick-up from school.

Where does the time go?

 Earlier this week we all loaded in the car and headed for B's kindergarten graduation.

Did you "hear" me?

KINDERGARTEN GRADUATION!!!


As I watched the Class of 2023 enter the gymnasium I felt my eyes get misty....and my chest swell with pride.

B was so proud of himself...and I was proud of him, too.

(Plus, I was determined NOT to cry because B told me he wanted me to cry so that he could laugh at me.)

(Geesh!)

(You'd think they would cut me some slack!)

Just nine months ago I had a little boy that was anxious about so many things, primarily change, and today, he is embracing it more readily.


He was all smiles as he got ready to go up and get his diploma. 


And he was even more excited after he got it.



Although, truthfully, I am not entirely sure it was the diploma that excited him or the fact that he knew that in just a few moments, he was going to get to toss his cap.


Because, let's face it.  Whether kindergarten, high school, or college graduation, we ALL look forward to that moment where we can just let it fly.


Steven and I are so proud of our children.  Each one is completely different than the other....and yet, great compliments to each other.


I am continually amazed at the amount of love that you can hold in your heart....and how I am more blessed than I ever dreamed I would be.

Surprisingly, I didn't cry at B's graduation like I did at L's. 

I didn't see Steven let the flood gates down either.

Maybe we are ALL learning something through the years....like how to embrace and enjoy each moment and milestone, how to bask in the light of who our children are becoming, how to accept where we are in life and the gifts that we have been given, and maybe, just maybe, how to love....without looking back

Of course, B has learned a lot this year, too.

Last night he told me that since he was already reading chapter books, he thought he should skip 1st and 2nd grades and go ahead and enter 3rd grade with his sister.

I may have learned, and grown, a lot during this past year.....and I might not be fighting the passage of time quite as hard, but I am certainly not ready for THAT!

Thankfully, I think that 1st grade will suit him just fine.

And it will suit me just fine, too.



Of course, I reserve the right to regress at any given moment....

Monday, May 16, 2011

As far as the East is from the West

Last night, after I tucked the kids into bed, I went into the bathroom to get myself ready for bed.

It had been a long day and I was ready for the relief that sleep would provide.

As I laid in the warm (almost hot) water of the bathtub, I thought of how easily I could drift off to sleep.

In the total relaxation I expected to find silence within my mind, but instead my thoughts sped up.

I am not sure what sent my mental wheels spinning in the direction they did, but they were spinning all the same.  I would hate to speculate what happened in between me finishing the final chapter in "Don't Make Me Come Up There" and sinking into the waters of the tub, but my thoughts turned to me, my blog, the blogs that I read and the idea others may have formed about me.

Now I know I have all of two readers and that I am not making any shock waves nor has anyone lost any sleep over me and anything I have written on this blog. However, my personality has always been one of full disclosure, (my close friends can attest to this) and I want to emphasize that I realize that at times I make references to God, His gifts, and His word, and I certainly believe in all three, but I worry that I am unintentionally making myself look better than I am. 

(I don't know that better is the right word.  I am not sure what the right word is. More Holy? More knowledgeable? Pick one....because any of them I most definitely am not.)

I was raised Catholic.  Where I live, I was/am in the minority.

I remember going through school and feeling like an outsider as my friends would recite the books in the Bible..... in order..... and fast.

Some could go backwards too.

Not me.

I also remember friends knowing Bible verses by heart.

Not me.

Oh sure, I knew the ones that were the most used. Those printed on doilies or plaques. Those on signs held up at ball games. Those stitched into a quilt sampler.



Those I knew by heart.


But the other verses?

Hardly.

I remember going to Bible School at a Baptist church when I was young.  They always played Bible trivia.

Can you guess who NEVER won?

Yeah.  That's me.


In fact (gasp) I have never read the Bible.

Now, you see, I have picked it up, thumbed through it, and read verses here and there.  I have, at times, started reading with purpose and found myself either confused, or anxious.

Because, really, there are a lot of confusing and anxiety inducing things in the Bible if you aren't sure what exactly you are reading.  (And sometimes even if you do.)

Now, although I haven't read the Bible, it doesn't mean I haven't heard His word.

At Mass, which is what Catholics call our church service, each Sunday there are readings from the Old Testament, Psalms, New Testament, the Gospel and then the priest "preaches" and gives us ways to apply God's teachings in our everyday life.

But as you probably know, Catholics are also very ritualistic.

There are things that are repeated every Sunday.

And there is a certain amount of reserve executed during Mass.

This is probably why I still feel a little bit like an outsider as I read some other blogs and feel the passion and fervor they exhibit and why I wanted to clarify what you read on mine. 

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE what I read on other blogs.

I have been inspired in ways that were totally unexpected and ways that changed me...and the person I want to be.

I have found a desire to understand more than I do.

To know more than I do.

To feel more than I do.

But I am still human....and still "in the dark" compared to many others.

But I am trying. 

I am not perfect. 

Not even close.

Not even close to close.

However, thanks to google, I am able to broaden my Bible verse knowledge when I feel compelled to find something in God's word to help express my inner feelings.

No, I still don't know them by heart.

And thanks to the children's easy reader Bible I bought my daughter, I am now able to read -and understand- more than ever.

(Who knew that Methuselah lived to be 969 years old?  Not me! I knew he was old, but 969!  Wow!)

(And it took about 100 years to build the ark? )

(Bring on the Bible trivia!!!!)

(Just kidding!  I'm not ready just yet!)

I hope to make a point to read this with my children every night- to add this to our nighttime ritual.  I feel that we have grown together with something as small as bedtime devotions and after days like I had last week.....it feels like a good way to end the day when sometimes they don't start off so great. 

However, I can't even trick myself into believing that this will be done without fail.

As I said, I'm not perfect.

But kids love when  you read to them.  And I want them to feel familiar with their faith; for it to be second nature to them.  I want to educate them about the Bible....as I know it will educate me in the process. 

Because I want those things for me, too.

And I hope that I can do this more times than not.

So, when you read -if you read- my blog, please don't look at it, or me, and think that I have it all together.  Because those people I mentioned before?  The ones who know me well?  Well, they know that I definitely don't. 

(Maybe they gathered that when I was singing some questionable hip-hop song to them.)

Also don't look at my references to God and my Bible verses used and think that I am trying to pretend to be someone other than I am.....

Because I am not pretending.

I am trying to be better than I am.

Because, really, in some way, aren't we all?

Holding My Breath

It's funny, isn't it?

The person we are vs. the person we want to be.

Generally they aren't the same.

Similar? Somewhat recognizable?

Maybe. At times.

The exact same?

Hardly.

I want to be the mother that comes home from work, kisses both children on their foreheads, ties an apron around my waist, and makes a four course meal while still in her heels because she wants to look wonderful for her husband, while my children sit around the table doing their homework in their wonderfully clean home.

Granted, I have found myself cooking supper while still in my heels, but generally instead of an apron around me there is an air of resentment, hurry, impatience, the feeling of being over-whelmed and instead of looking wonderful, or like a scene out of a 50's sitcom, I look like a disheveled mess.

People often ask me how I do it all....or if I have more hours in the day than they do.

Instead of making me feel good and empowered and like a master time manager, I instead cringe a little inside because I know how a lot of it gets done.

In a hurry and with a feeling of inadequacy.

My fear?

That I am passing that on to my children.

This morning as the kids climbed on the bus and I rushed inside to pack my lunch, grab my purse and make it to town in less than 20 minutes, I thought back over the morning and wished for a re-do.

As the kids started to rise from bed, I found myself in the floor folding laundry.  I then stripped the beds of their sheets and threw them in the washer.  I fixed them breakfast and put up the laundry I had gotten out of the dryer. 

(I realize that there is nothing abnormal about any of that.  This is the life of a mother....)

But instead of being sympathetic to my daughter who was up many times during the night wiping her nose, or taking time with my son to make sure that he was getting around in plenty of time for the bus, I found myself rudely asking them to be quiet so I could "Puh-lease listen to the weather so I could know what I needed to lay out for them to wear." {Insert sharp exhale.}

Yeah.  I'm good.

I also found myself heaving my shoulders at one point and sighing in exasperation as I handed L some Tylenol when she went on for the 100th time in her most pathetic voice, "My head just feels so bad."

I should have rubbed her shoulders and her head and told her how sorry I was that she felt bad....but instead, the overwhelmed part of me found myself aggravated that in one moment she could sound so pitiful and the next be talking so loudly and so animated. 

For goodness sake.  She's 8.  I should cut her some slack and not hold her to the expectations I would have for an adult.

But this morning?  I apparently did.

And by all accounts, I wasn't even holding up to the expectation I would have for an adult.

Taking in my overall demeanor L looked at me and said, "Why are you mad at me?"

Who was being pathetic now?

I told her I was sorry and that it was just hard for me to know how much credence to give to her complaints since she has been on-again, off-again "sick" since last night.  One moment dramatically lying on the couch covered with blanket with an ice pack on her head and the next minute outside playing with her cat telling me she felt fine.

The weight of providing, and schedules, and finding B in his room quite literally in she shape of a "V" with his feet and head on the floor while the weather appropriate (ahem) clothes I had laid out for him were sitting to the side, and later him sitting in the floor tying his shoes before he put them on his feet, and faces that weren't clean because apparently I am the only one that hears me when I say, "please wash your face" had wore me down.  Way down.

Again.  This is nothing new.  This is the life of a mother.

And although I try really hard to be a good mother, quite simply there are times I AM NOT.
I walked the kids to the bus and kissed each of them goodbye and told them I loved them.  I said a quick prayer that these are the times that they will remember.....not the ugly side of me I showed this morning.

I am acutely aware that these times -ugly and not-are passing too quickly and that soon I won't have to lay out their clothes, and that them not listening to me tell them to wash their face will be the least of my worries, but sometimes........the moment, the stress, the responsibility catches up with me.

And I find myself wondering how all the other mothers do it?

How do they seem so relaxed about their day to day requirements? 

Do they do more?  Or less? 
Do they care more?  Or less? 
Is their patience more?  Or less?
Do they spend more time?  Or less?

I think sometimes mothers end up looking to other mothers in an effort to find how they are either different....or better...or worse.

I think that we should look to other mothers in a hope to find that in some ways we are the same-and that I am not alone.

Working at a funeral home I have the opportunity to see people as they reflect on the impact others have had on their lives.

Sometimes it takes loss to do that.

But the memory that stands out in my mind, and that I took to heart even before I had children of my own, was at a funeral where grown children -and there were several of them-got up to speak about their memories of their mother.  Each child started their portion of the eulogy with, "I was mom's favorite".

I want that for my children.

I want each of them to know that they are my favorite.  My very favorite one.

Maybe that is what I am trying to show my children through my rushing to make our home "perfect", my written words on this blog, the scrapbooks I make for each of them, and the unsaid words in my heart that sometimes, in the rush of this hectic life, don't make it out of my mouth.

I need them to take to heart that they are my very favorite one.

Very. Favorite. One.

And trying to be perfect, and put together, and serve home-cooked meals in a perfectly clean house is not a good translation of my love for them.

I love them even when life isn't perfect.

And it isn't.

And I most definitely am not.

And when my imperfections come oozing out of me on a hectic weekday morning, as they did today, I will try to be patient, and nod with understanding, when THEY are the ones heaving their shoulders, exhaling loudly and sighing an exasperated sigh.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Best Mother's Day Weekend EVER!

I love my kid's enthusiasm.  It really is contagious.  They get so excited about the everyday things that it's hard not to follow suit.

Last week our old, dilapidated mower called it quits. 

I am the one that generally is in charge of "lawn care", and that's fine.

When the mower works.

I, however, am not patient and our old mower was requiring patience.

I had mowed the yard three times this year and each of the three times something happened with the mower that prevented me from being able to finish.

Once the battery died while I was on it.



Twice it just lunged across the yard sporadically before dying.


And last week, mid-way into the 2.5 hour job, it threw a belt that I couldn't replace and I had to wait for Steven to come home and fix it.

(I hate not finishing jobs I start.)

So, on Friday evening Steven made the executive decision that we were going to have to get a different mower.  We discussed it and I decided that I didn't really need a fancy wancy zero turn mower (although they are NICE), I just wanted one with a bigger deck - and a cup holder.

It really is all about priorities.

And so, Saturday morning, the day Steven and kids referred to "Mother's Day Eve", Steven and the kids went to town and came back with mommy a Mother's Day present.

It really is all about killing two birds with one stone....

I was on to Steven's "bird killing" but I didn't care. 

When the kids piled out of the truck they couldn't get in the house fast enough to retrieve me and take me outside to see my new ride.  Their squeals and laughter made it into the house before they did.  They kept saying "It's the best MOTHER'S DAY EVE EVER!!!!!!!"

(Every exciting thing is the "BEST EVER!!!!" for them!)

They then gave me a replay of everything that went down during the course of the purchase with over-excited animated moves and expressions.  The kids gave me thorough explanation of all the features, B lifted the hood to show me the motor and battery and L even did an impression of her daddy saying, "Can you take any more off the price?"

********************

After the yard was mowed and Steven had finished working in the field, the kids decided that we needed to have a picnic. 

It was 2:00 p.m.

We had already eaten....but that was just a minor technicality

Since L was wanting to ride her horse and B was wanting to ride his go-kart, we decided that we would just meet at the designated spot.  L was anxious to get to pack drinks and snacks in her insulated saddle bags that her Mi Mi and Pa Pa got her for her birthday and B was equally as excited to use his old Coke cooler that was given to him by our friends, Deanie and Linda.

As I climbed in the go-kart with B, and we pulled out of the driveway, I enjoyed the view of my freshly mowed yard.


Although I was again amazed at how well B controlled his go-kart, I remembered the last time my confidence in him left me a little.....wet.


We headed out to find the spot in the woods where we were supposed to have our picnic.




 And when we spotted Daddy and the hot pink saddle bags we knew we were in the right place.


 So L got out her snacks and drinks she had packed and B opened his Coke cooler......



 and everyone got down to business. 


(What!?!?!  You don't eat leftover Subway on your picnics?)

I knew I was doomed when L brought out the Swiss Cake Rolls.  I can resist many things, but I have a hard time resisting Swiss Cake Rolls.
 Or this guy.

 I have a hard time resisting him, too.

Why even try?

************************

B decided that we needed a bridge so we could cross the "creek" and keep from getting our feet wet.


I can plainly see that he has a deep aversion to getting his feet wet.


 Since B had went to so much trouble building us a bridge we decided to "use" it.

We took a walk deeper into the woods.


 The kids enjoyed "discovering" new things whether it be a bend in their "creek" or a tree that made a bridge or a rock fire ring that we had built back when B was a baby.



 However, despite B's hard work to help us all keep dry (ahem),



 some people kids are just destined to get wet. 


It's like water just finds them.


 As Steven and I took our time walking back to our "picnic area", the kids raced on ahead ready for the second leg of their trip hollering out into the woods, "That was the BEST picnic EVER!".



 As I climbed back in with my wet and wild man, I wondered if he would be the only wet one when we returned home.


Surprisingly he took it fairly slow through the water and the only thing that got wet was my feet. 

While L and Steven continued their horse ride, B and I took a ride of our own.  We made rounds in our neighborhood covering about 10 miles. We visited with a couple of our neighbors and continued on our way.  B said he was having so much fun that he wished that he could just keep driving until he ran out of gas.  He said it was the "best time EVER!"

When we returned back home Steven and the kids decided to take me out to eat for Mother's Day.  We ate at one of my favorite places and ended up the night at a park where we watched the kids play, joined them in play, and then walked together on the mile trail that wound through the park.

As we headed back to the truck Steven and B took out on a foot race, each one trying to beat the other.  L looked up at me and squeezed my hand and said, "I LOVE my family".  I scooped her up in my arms and said, "I love MY family, too!"

Times like that are the best gift I could ever be given. 

(Even better than a lawn mower that actually runs.)

**********************
After church on Sunday we (along with Sarah and Jason) took Mi Mi and Pa Pa out to eat.  There was some discussion on Steven's part with Jason as to whether or not they technically had to buy dad's meal since it was technically Mother's Day.

Needless to say, dad came out ahead.

After lunch we all went our separate ways and returned home.

I found myself lounging in the hammock in the mid-afternoon and marveled at how relaxing it was when I finally gave myself permission to relax.

It was Mother's Day, after all, what else would I do? 

Laundry?  Nah.

However, never having enough time to get her fill of riding horses, L talked her daddy into another ride.  This time she saddled up Weston and we hopped on the cart behind Big Sexy.

It was during this time that I fully realized how comfortable L was on Weston.  When she took off in a run, throwing caution (and fear) to the wind, I am pretty sure it landed smack dab in the middle of my lap.

I couldn't help the butterflies in my stomach as I watched the horse speed along.  I told Steven to slow our horse down hoping that she would do the same.

He obliged but he also laughed at me.

This girl of mine....she is totally his.

She is led by her heart and her love of riding, and her horse.  She doesn't have time to be afraid.

She LIVES life.



The boy sitting in between Steven and I on the cart?  He is mine.  All mine.

He measures risk and is cautious.

I think it is why he prefers his go-kart to a horse.

It gives him the illusion of control.

I get it.  I live it.

I hope one day we both learn to travel this journey of life with wild abandon like Steven and L.

In the meantime we will just ride shotgun and enjoy the ride and the view.


That won't be hard.

I kind of like the view from where I am.

After all, "It's the BEST view EVER!"

*******************



"The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace."
                            Numbers 6:24-26



Thursday, May 05, 2011

Running in place

I feel fortunate that we live in a small town with a small school that still has "Easter parties".

In fact, there are several fun little things the kids get to do in the week leading up to Easter; one of which is the egg drop.  L has participated for the last two years and we think we have found what works.  We packed our eggs in our 7x7x7 box, surrounded by bubble wrap and crumpled up Wal-Mart sacks. 

(How's that for recycling?)

The principal of the elementary then climbed to the roof top to drop the eggs to the concrete below. 



The kids waited anxiously for their box, or sack, or parachute, to drop, and upon it's landing they all enthusiastically gauged whether the egg had "survived" based on the sound it made upon impact.  Those who felt the egg had indeed "survived" gave loud "whoops!" and cheers, and those they thought were "scrambled" received moans and laughter.  The kids, of course, wouldn't know for sure until they opened the container housing their egg upon returning to their classroom.
L felt pretty certain hers had survived.  This wasn't her 1st egg drop.
B also was betting that his made it, although he was a little more nervous about the outcome.  He had never done this before and didn't want to have a scrambled egg.
Luckily, both kids' eggs "survived".

***********
The next day they were out of school and went to work with daddy.  They were excited to spend the day with him and even earned $5 for all their work.  They took down an old board fence and danced on the hood of the truck.

True story.

He even told me that he let them drive the skid steer.

Yes...they are 5 and 8.  Please don't call child services.

I think they even finished the day with a new found appreciation for each other.

I had a new found appreciation for Tide.

By Easter Sunday I had finally managed to scrub them clean.

Although the Easter bunny hid the eggs inside, and only a few on the porch, the kids did get to hunt eggs outside after church.  Although, I definitely don't mean "hunt" in the literal sense. 

When the eggs are lying on top of the grass in plain sight, there isn't much hunting  to be done.
We were able to squeeze in two successful outdoor egg hunts on Easter Sunday in between rain showers.  One at church.....
and the other and MiMi and PaPa's.
Although there are several grandkids on that side of the family, some were unable to make it to Easter dinner, and some were still too young to hunt.

Like Elsie.

 

L felt especially big holding her little cousin and L had quite the motherly instinct.  Her cousin Elsie actually ended up falling asleep......as did L's arm.

On the way home Easter evening, I found myself thinking back to when L was Elsie's age.  It seemed like it wasn't so long ago.  It hit me really hard when I realized that when Elsie is L's age.....L will be 16.

That physically hurts me to think about how quickly time is passing.
******************

And as if I needed further proof of how big my girl really is, we celebrated L's 1st communion on Sunday.

Being a life-long Catholic, I think that many of the faith's religious customs become second nature.  And although there is some good in that, there is also the very real threat of finding yourself just "going through the motions" and not really thinking about the very faith I practice.

On Sunday, I had an awakening.  As I sat there thinking about this child of mine getting ready to further her relationship with God, and her faith, I couldn't help but think about how great God is....and how great my responsibility is as a parent to show my children the way to Him.

Although it is my responsibility to show them.... most often I think they show me.

As the first child in L's Sunday School class went forward to receive their 1st communion, I found myself swallowing hard and blinking away the tears in my eyes.

The gravity of the moment, and God's presence, had most definitely been made known to me.  I felt it all around me, and I felt it stir inside me, as Steven and I placed our hands on L's shoulders when it was her turn to receive the body and blood of Christ for her first time.
After church was dismissed the kids went outside and sent their letters to God via a helium filled balloon.

When the kids filtered back inside to have their pictures made, I hugged L and told her how proud I was of her.  She spoke softly and told me that at one point she had tears in her eyes.

Considering how L is so strong and rarely shows any weakness, or loss of emotional control, I knew this was big.

Steven and I both told her that was more than OK, and completely understandable.  It was a big moment.

I then shared that I, too, had tears in my eyes.

I hope that somewhere in L's letter to God she might have mentioned for Him watch over her momma and never let her lose sight of what really matters.

After all, life IS really busy and time DOES move really fast.

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."