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Monday, September 1, 2014

My son, the writer.

I can't pretend it doesn't make my pride swell a little when I read his stuff. The reason he hates math is because he's a writer. When you passionately love words, numbers seem pretty dumb. He's 10 - here is the beginning of a school writing assignment that he's already gone long on and says he's not even close to finished with. (I can relate!)

"Hello, this is Peyton and I'm here to tell about the time I went to America. One day I was in my bed fixing to get up when I hear a knock. Now, where I live if you get a knock it's rare, so I open the door and this tall skinny guy named James said hello and his name and said the king is issuing a warrant for your arrest. I was surprised about that. Then he said can you please turn around so I can put the rope on your hand. I told him no and he got mad, so after a quick lesson of me showing him how to punch somebody in the nose correctly he called Andrew, Jackson, and Frank. Andrew and Jackson tackled me to the ground. Frank got a chain and tied my hands behind my back and led me to a horse. James tied my legs to the horse with a rope and chain. Jackson got a little chain and tied 1 on to the horses halter and the other and to my cuffs. Andrew let the horse back to the jail house. My trial was a week later. I was arrested for not paying taxes because I lived almost 1 day and a half from the city. The judge said go to jail or go with Christopher Columbus west to India. So I didn't even think, I said Columbus. So, a guard took me out of the court to this woman named kristen who is 6 foot 2 inches, skinny, beautiful, blonde hair, blue eyes, and dark skin. But, the bad part is she is married to Frank. Now, Frank is 5 foot 4 inches, 236 pounds, black hair, mustache and beard, with green eyes. Kristen handed me three leather bags to put clothes in for Columbus' journey. A guard named Noah took me to my house to get my stuff...."

I may be biased but I think that's good stuff for 10 years old!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A note to young, single moms

I woke up this morning, back aching, in a tangled mess of blankets, sheets, feet, and arms. Clinging to my side of the bed, I rolled over and put my arms around my 5 year old youngest daughter, who was already engulfed in her daddy's arms. She turned to me with a sleepy smile, her lion's mane of messy auburn hair all over the place, and said, "You both gots me." 

My heart swelled up and I squeezed her close, and emotion swept over me. In the midst of my feelings of wholeness and thankfulness, I suddenly thought of my 13 year old daughter. And immediately I grieved. I grieved for her the fact that she didn't have the same security in her very early years. 

A child should have both parents arms around them as they grow. I believe that with all my heart. But, too often, that's not the case. It wasn't the case for my oldest daughter. Her dad and I finally ended our tumultuous marriage for good when she was just shy of three. I tried so hard to make just my arms enough for her. I stretched them as far as I could, but I couldn't stop her longing for her Daddy. I still can't! And when she was with him she fought her need to be in my arms still. I was her safety and her security. Children of divorce feel less like both parent's arms are holding them and more like both parents arms are pulling them apart - no matter how amicable the situation is. 

It pains me to my core to think of the emotional scars that my oldest will always live with. The tears in her security net caused by two adults who just couldn't get things straight. I've forgiven her dad and I've forgiven myself. But, still I wish she'd started out with all the stability that my baby has had. 

I can't wallow in that too much, though. That was a long time ago and I did my best. That's what I want to say to moms who are following behind me on that road. It feels so often like your best isn't enough! You're exhausted, you're worried, and you're trying to stretch your whole self to do a two person job - you feel "less than" every single day. But, you're not! It gets better. Your children find their way. But, more importantly, you find your way as a parent. The relationship I have with my oldest is unique in a way I can't even explain. I was her everything and she was my everything. We did a lot of growing up together. I look at her now, 13 and head strong, secure in her own skin, bold, and funny! I did that! I pulled her through the hard times just like she pulled me through! And, we're okay now. We have the same scars, but we are whole and functioning. 

So, when your arms alone feel like they are not enough, know that they really are. Just keep reaching! You may feel like you are about to break, but you can do it! And nothing I've ever done in my life has been more rewarding. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

My best friend

We are different - WAY different - like complete polar opposites in a lot of ways. But, we come from the same stuff, literally! Our dads are identical twins. Which may explain our similar mannerisms and identical laughs.

Our differences fit. She loves to be the star and I'm way more comfortable watching from the wings and laughing! I knew what I wanted to do with my life at 12 years old and she still can't make up her mind. I tell her what I think she should do! Ha! 

Sometimes our differences don't fit. She's loves a night on the town and meeting new people - I'm happy with the people I already know. I'd rather sit comfortably at home with a few people I know well. Sometimes it feels like I stay the course while she explores and wait for her to come back so I can hear the latest adventure! 

Our adult years have consisted of us both trying to weather the storms of life and learn who we really are. I think it shocked us both to realize we are so different because we grew up feeling like no one in the world could be so much like ourselves. I think that's just how it is when your souls are as intertwined as ours.  In the past decade we've let each other down, frustrated each other, had to forgive, had to "love anyway," and gone long periods of time without talking - not because we were mad, but because we have families and obligations and life gets in the way. And that's been scary! Sometimes it feels fragile and breakable. Sometimes I know we both worry that this amazing, unheard of bond we have could somehow break.

But it won't.

There's a picture I have in my head. It was my grandmothers funeral and I was 6 months pregnant with my youngest. I let my 8 year old come to the funeral. I kept it together until I walked up to the casket, and then I just lost it. I remember feeling so overwhelmed with grief it seemed hard to stand. Out of nowhere, arms were around me, holding me up. My best friend. And after I calmed down and sat down, I suddenly remembered my poor daughter who'd witnessed all this and I had left her by herself! I looked back and she was in my best friend's arms.

And, that's how it is. We may disagree sometimes. We may drive each other crazy here and there. It may feel like we disconnect at points along the way, but it is an unbreakable bond. "Best friend" doesn't cover it. "Cousin" doesn't do it justice. At the end of the day, when it comes down to it, it'll be her arms around me, holding me up. It'll be her heart that holds all my childhood secrets. It'll be her soul that sees mine through all the hustle and bustle of life. And, it'll be me in the audience cheering her on the loudest. 

And forever and ever in the world will live the spirits of two little girls playing pretend for hours and hours together as if the rest  of the world didn't exist, and time had no value. A place in our hearts where words aren't needed and laughter conquers darkness every time. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

You can't limit love - especially on Easter

I think one our biggest setbacks as humans is our tendency to not really understand love.  We like to compartmentalize and categorize it.  We take something so amazingly bigger than us and bigger than our understanding and we try to trim it down and cut it up in to something we can more easily digest. 

For Easter Sunday, I invited my ex-boyfriend to church and to our family celebration at my parents' house.  (Yes, I cleared it with my husband first.)  Now, readers will automatically read "ex-boyfriend" and put that in to their own terms and probably find it awkward and maybe really strange (or possibly inappropriate) to invite your ex to have Easter with your husband and family.  However, he was my boyfriend over fifteen years ago when I was in High School and College.  Again, readers will automatically think, "Oh.  High School love.  No big deal. Puppy love."  But, he was more than just the guy I dated in High School.  He was also my very best friend, who I told everything to, went everywhere with, ate lunch with every day, and went grocery shopping with his mom.  We were inseparable.  And, most people are allowed to stay in touch with their very best friend from their late teens. 

Staying in touch with him would not, admittedly, have been a good idea in the first several years after we split up because there were definitely very strong romantic feelings still intact and some raw emotions that needed some years to heal up.  But, after time went by, we got back in touch and stayed in touch here and there over the years. 

I have a hard time with the categorization of love, and always have.  There seem to be so many rules we have put in to place.  You are supposed to love your in-laws and accept them as family, but if a divorce happens, you are automatically supposed to "forfeit" those people as family (and in some cases, give up all contact with them) and not love them anymore.  Some people view love in the form of bloodlines and legal documents.  We have love in compartments in our heart: love for friends; love for family; parental love; people we USED to love; people we love now....

My husband is amazing, as I have touted many times on this blog.  He knows me better than anyone in the world ever has.  He accepts my inability to let people ever completely leave my heart and is secure enough in my love for HIM (which is vast, I assure you) to allow me to love all the people around me, no matter what compartment the world feels like they should be in.  He took it in stride when I walked up to our dinner table on our honeymoon cruise with another man.  (He was disabled and alone so I couldn't just let him try to fill his own tray and sit by himself!)  He has sat on the back-porch of my ex-in-law's house, shooting the breeze with my ex-husband and his family.  He has watched me hug them all and tell them I love them.  He has listened to his daughter call my ex-husband "Daddy Terry" because that is what her big sister and brother call him.  He looks at me and I shrug my shoulders and he shakes his head, but he knows it is how I want things.  He jokingly asks me, "Are we running a daycare here?" when I have 3 other people's children at my house.  I want to allow love to seep in to all the cracks that we create as humans and make things as close to whole as possible.  And he allows me to be me.

When I had a recent conversation with the aforementioned ex-boyfriend (something I have never hid from my hubby, by-the-way) who was going through a rough time, I hung up and called my husband to ask if I could invite him to Easter, and I was a little nervous about his reaction.  I prefaced with: "I have a possibly inappropriate request for you...."  He laughed when I finished and said, "Why would you think I would care about that?"

So, this morning as I sat on the church row with my parents, my aunt, my brother and family who made a surprise visit from out of town, my husband, my children, and my ex-boyfriend from High School, I was overwhelmed by the feeling that this is how it will be in Heaven.  As a kid it is hard to imagine that Heaven will be awesome because, honestly, it sounds boring.  As we get older, it starts to sound amazing.  In Heaven, love will be love.  We'll finally understand it.  That's what I believe - I believe we won't have categories anymore.  I think Heaven will be almost like today was. It won't be about who's blood related, who you have a physical attraction to, which legal documents are filed at the Court House - we will just love each other and we'll be free to do so.  We'll worship God (everyone we love on one pew), no one will think it's strange if we cry while we sing praise songs, if we have trouble putting "ex" in front of in-law, if we still care about our boyfriend from High School, if we love someone else's children like our own.  Love will just be love.  And, then we'll all go back to the house and eat a meal, fellowship, and play football in the front yard together (without getting winded!!  And, I won't be a klutz anymore!) and we'll just be one big family with so much love between each other that it can't be put in categories.  And, we won't miss anyone.  We won't have to watch my brother and family get back in the car to leave with tears and sorrowful embraces.  We won't worry if people are okay when they're gone.  We won't be thinking about those who have gone before us - they will all be there.

I can't wait!  And, I can't describe how grateful I am for the cross - for my assurance that I'll experience all of that someday.  For the love I was surrounded by today.  For the pain that Christ endured for all of us.  God laid on my heart today that even though love has hurt me sometimes - loving someone else can be so painful:  When they leave you, when they disappoint you, when they live too far away, when you watch them suffer, or when they pass on and grief feels like it will consume you.  But, Jesus said to me today:  I suffered and died for you - sometimes loving other people is suffering for them.  But, in the end, the love is still there and it served it's purpose on Earth.  Especially if it helped pave their way to Heaven.

Happy Easter.  I hope yours was every bit as wonderful as mine.

Friday, February 7, 2014

When they outgrow your chin!

This morning I hugged my 10 year old tight and rested my chin on top of his head. Immediately it put me in the mind of holding my babies on my chest and the way they would nestle their heads right under my chin. My oldest would even try to climb up and get her little head as snug against my neck as she could. 
I remember rubbing my chin lightly against their silky new hair, and smelling the sweet smell on their heads that was completely unique to them. Some of the most peaceful, contented moments of my life have been spent in a rocking chair, holding a baby on my chest who was completely pacified by my milk and the comfort of their ear against the deep echo of the heartbeat in my chest. 
The realization that my son's head soon will not fit under my chin and, that my oldest daughter's already does not, brought that brief wave of sadness that almost every mother feels when we think of how quickly it all goes by.  It becomes harder and harder to make everything right in their worlds. Now, it takes more than filling their bellies, swaddling, and holding them close.  As we head nearer and nearer adulthood, my role of mother begins the slow, painful shift towards watching and advising instead of holding and fixing it for them. 
It is a hard shift. And, it was swift!! My "baby" is 5 now. I often just stop and think, how did this happen so fast? But, every time I start to feel like time is a thief, I remind myself how blessed I am. I think of how many parents have lost their children and would give anything to watch their child outgrow the space beneath their chin. So, as I brace myself for that fated day when my son will rest his chin on my head, I remind myself to count my blessings instead of mourning what has passed.

And. I hold fast to the hope that I'll be grandma someday and I'll once again tuck sweet baby heads under my chin! :)