Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Woman in the Mirror.

A middle aged woman stood in front of her mirror one evening before bed. She was saddened by her reflection and thought back to her younger days. Suddenly, in the mirror she could see her Lord standing behind her, yet when she turned around she could not see him. They began to talk. Looking at her reflection she sighed and said,

"I'm getting wrinkles, Lord."

He replied, "You are growing in wisdom."

"I'm so tired."

"In me you will find rest."

"I'm not as pretty as I once was."

"To me, you are my perfect work of art. You are special and one of a kind."

"I've gained weight."

"I've always provided."

"I lost my job today."

"I won't stop providing."

"People confuse me and I've lost a lot of friendships over the years."

"I'll never leave you. My commitment is unending."

"I'm not sure my children even love me."

"I'm not sure my children love me either. I love you."

"I'm scared sometimes when I'm alone."

"You are never alone. I'm here."

"You are good, Lord."

"Thanks, for saying so."

With that the woman smiled at her reflection took a deep breath and went to bed.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Do you have a frog in your backpack?

I suppose there are many moments in a mother's life when she recognizes that profound willingness to jump in front of a train for the love of her child; the moments when you recognize that the love you hold for your little one causes you to sacrifice self, time, tears and freedom...anything. You know the moments I'm talking about. Today I would like to list a few of those recent occurrences in my life.

1) We are quite certain that our two year old is our last child. For that reason, I think I've tried to keep him a baby for as long as possible. I know, I know that is definitely more about me than him. Nevertheless, he is not potty trained and still uses a pacifier. By this age, both my other children were paci-less and diaper free. I've tried several times to get him off the pacifier and I've given in every time. Most times giving in out of sheer desperation to stop the incessant crying...so again...more about me than him.

Today, as we were leaving Walmart, my third kiddo dropped the paci accidentally and, of course, it rolled all the way underneath the car next to ours.

I thought: Now is the time to rid ourselves of the pacifier. I explained how it was gone and dirty and "bye bye". I expressed to our two year old the goal of being a "big boy" and not using a pacifier ever again. I offered ice cream. I offered cookies. It was pathetic. I even went over how irrational it was to retrieve a pacifier from the ground of a Walmart and the viruses/germs/anti-freeze that was sure to cover it. No go.

Two year old response: GIANT TEARS. QUIET SOBS. Pleading, "mommy, get paci. Pweeeeeese. Pweeeeeeese, mommy...my paci. Paci gone gone, mommy?"

Please understand that if this had been a tantrum, that pacifier would still be in the parking lot getting covered in motor oil. This was not a tantrum. It was pure unadulterated sadness. I could not bear it. So, I did what any other mother would do in this situation. I got down on my hands and knees and crawled under someone else' vehicle to retrieve the stupid thing. I will say, the best part came later when I heard, "oh tank u, mommy. I nuv u. I nuv my paci." It was worth it. Of course, ask me if it was worth it when he is 15 and still chewing on the thing and I'm sure to have a different story.

2) I have dolled out time outs, spankings, groundings, and toy removals all in the hopes that my four year old will stop climbing over the couch. Every day...no exaggeration...every day we go over this. I knew he was going to fall. It was imminent and he did. He fell head first into the heating vent getting a giant bruise over his eyebrow, a black eye and a scrapped up bloody nose. He was screaming.

Normally, when my children are injured my gut instinct is to be the nurturer and comforter. I hurt with them and I have never done well in bloody situations. I am a over-reactor. This time was no different. When he ran screaming into the kitchen bleeding from his face my stomach started to climb out of my throat. I immediately felt that knee jerk reaction to inform him that no other child had experienced such horrific trauma and that mommy will heal all the wounds afterward providing sugary treats until the Disney channel lulls him to dreamland.

However, I knew that I had to hold it together for the lesson learned. Sure, I comforted him, but we had a long talk about why it happened, how it happened, and how to keep it from happening again. These moments are super tough because your instinct says one thing, but your head another. I will fight my knee jerk instincts every time for him. He is worth my discomfort.

3) My daughter brought home a blue slip yesterday. This is the disciplinary sheet that our elementary school uses. Apparently she had, at the request of a friend, sneaked a frog into her backpack after recess. When her teacher asked about it...she denied doing it. Uh oh.

Firstly, I was totally pumped that she touched a frog. I really don't want a squeamish kid that won't touch worms or goes squealing down the hall at the sight of a lizard. That part did not bother me at all. I was impressed.

She lied. That was the worst part. She was very penitent. Through tears, we made her write an apology letter and had a very long conversation about lying that night. Before bed I told her stories about my past struggles with not always telling the whole truth. We talked about that even if the truth hurts someone's feelings or even if you get caught in a bad situation, it is always better to speak the truth because God says so.

At the end of our conversation, my little one prayed and asked God to forgive her (without my prompting, I might add). Then she thanked God for me...for me. I can't express in words what that meant to hear. I love her so much and when I see that just a tiny bit of my faith is passed to her...it makes every diaper, every frustration, every late night and early morning, every fingerprint or glass of spilled milk just disappear and not matter any more.

A close of mine mentioned something to me yesterday that I think has changed my life, a little. My kids are not mine. They belong to God. I get to share them for a few short years and then I must let them go. I would jump in front of a bus for each one them any day, but after all is said and done I also have to be willing to let them go. I am treasuring the moments that I have while I have them. I hope you do the same.

Happy Mother's day, my dear friends.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Memory: the Ghost that Haunts.

I've blocked a lot of memories of my childhood. I am still relatively young and I can't remember so much. I have tendency to punish myself for my past indiscretions; never really forgiving. I will let someone walk all over me and forgive them time and again...but I harbor some pretty heavy ill will for my own past missteps.

The memories that I LOVE come back with smells or particular weather. When I was really little I had a swing in a willow tree in the backyard. I remember days where I would swing for hours singing to the top of my lungs. On windy sunny days this particular memory is triggered and when I hear my daughter in the backyard belting out a tune I think of that old swing. Whenever I make pot roast (yes, i make pot roast) I think of my mom and then I think of her mom, my grandmother. I am so thankful for those Sunday pot roasts and meals with my family and the hug that particular memory provides.

Facebook has rekindled some super old friendships. I just became friends with a girl that was my bestest friend...in the sixth grade. It brought back wonderful memories of young laughter and silly first sleepovers.

I've also become friends with some folks that I don't have exceptional memories of. Friends where we've lost contact...because I stopped keeping in touch. Friends where we stopped talking over silly arguments. Now it seems silly...ten years ago not so much. Some of these memories are so cathartic and good for the soul. It's nice to see that most people grow up, start families and become respectable members of society. I know many think that of me and possibly questioned whether I was capable of growing up.

Lately, I really enjoy visiting the past. I cannot change it. Most days I wish I could. I am more thankful, even when the trip down memory lane is painful, for the lessons I learned. I am thankful for the people in my life, past and present, who made me...me. Each moment, each conversation, each argument, each broken heart all formed who I am today. I could choose to harbor ill will or bitterness because, like I said, the past is a reminder of the old me...the often stupid me. Instead, I think I've decided to grow with it. To allow my past to mature my future.

Memory ghosts are only scary if we fear them. If we face them and accept them... the fear fades. I do wish I could warn my children that although facing the ghosts of past is inevitable; whether they are scary or not depends on the decisions we make now. We will all undoubtedly make bad decisions, but scary decisions become scary ghosts that often travel with us throughout our lives. This merits the minding that decisions today affect tomorrow.

Today, my ghosts don't seem quite so threatening as they did a year ago. I hope the ones that I'm making now will be more like warm sunny days or pot roasts rather than than the darkness lurching beneath the stairs ready to trip me up.