Monday, November 4, 2013

The bittersweet irony of motherhood

A few weeks ago as I came out of my walk-in closet, I stopped to look at a framed collage of my boys.  In it is several pictures capturing some of the best 'every day ordinary' moments of their lives as children.  There's a picture of a 4 year old Kyle kicked back on my dad's riding lawn mower....hands behind his head and feet on the steering wheel.  There's one of a three year old Zach sitting on the river bank with his Fisher price fishing pole waiting on the catch of the day.  There's one of a baby Aaron laying on his belly wearing a denim ball cap and looking absolutely adorable.  Then are several of all three boys where they're simply playing...another posed shot in their Peyton Manning #18 Colts jerseys...and yet another with the big brothers in their Royal Ranger t-shirts, each touching one of their cheeks to their baby brother's cheeks.  

As I looked at the pictures, I touched them, almost hoping to touch those precious little boys again and thinking to myself how badly I want them much I miss them. It's  bittersweet to think back so look into the past and realize just how quickly it's all gone by.  That's the cruel irony of motherhood...that we don't realize just how much we should have savored each moment until the moments are long gone.  

Oh what I wouldn't do to sit up all night and rock my babies.  What I wouldn't give to cuddle up to them and kiss them all over and lavish them with mommy's love.  What I wouldn't trade to get back the one thing I never really knew I would never have enough of...time.

How I wish I had never been too busy...too tired...too stressed out...too determined to stick to a schedule or maintain a routine.  At the time, I just wanted to keep everything moving smoothly...bedtimes, mealtimes, sport practices, homework.  Oh, and there were doctor's appointments to keep, hair that needed cut, teeth that had to brushed, baths that must be taken. There were toys to pick up and rooms to be cleaned. There was so much to do and so little time do it all, it seemed.

Little did I know how short the time truly was.   I blinked my eyes, and they were grown.  Blinked again, and they were gone.  Oh if I had only know how quickly it all was going to go by.  I would have left a lot of things undone back then.  I wouldn't have bothered so much with all those things that didn't really matter in the long run. 

How different I would do things if I could do them all over again.  I'd get dirty more often.  I'd dig trenches with teaspoons and play swords with twigs in the backyard.  I'd build more forts out of blankets and learn to play video games.  I'd play less PIG and opt for HORSE instead.  I'd move a lot slower. Watch a lot closer.  Laugh a lot louder.

But alas, there's no turning back the heartless hands of time.  I can't undo what's been done.  I can't get back what is lost.  And sadly, although I can ask those behind me to heed my warning, they likely won't.  It's just the reality of motherhood...that none of us truly understand the value of time with our little children until more of it is behind us than ahead.  The bigger truth is, no matter how much time we invest in our children, when they are grown, it never feels like it was quite enough.  

So if your little ones are still little, I'll do my best to tell you to enjoy every moment...every sleepless, poopy-diaper-filled, bickering in the backseat moment.  But my words of middle age motherly advice will probably fall on very tired ears.  The busyness of life will get in the way of truly celebrating the moments as they come.  It's just the way it is.  But for you mothers who have been there done that or are there right now, I'll just say hang in there...cause if you're lucky, grandchildren will be in your future.

And that is the beautiful consolation in all this... that when our children go on to have their own children, well, by then, we do understand how time flies.  Being a grandparent allows us to redeem just a little bit of the time we lost out on with our own young ones.  Grandparents feel no guilt about rocking a baby incessantly.  We feel no urgency to do dishes or laundry when grandbabies are about.  The mess they make doesn't bother us and the time they take is of no concern.  We know all too well how precious that time really is.

There's no way around the bittersweet irony of motherhood.  None of matter how deliberately we might try...fully appreciate what we have until it's gone.

Friday, October 4, 2013

One thing (although not the only thing) we should never do as mothers

Motherhood is a balance beam of sorts.  We tiptoe from one end of the beam holding a newborn and turn cartwheels and front flips through the next 18 to 20-some years while trying to navigate the precarious terrain raising children often presents. We teeter and totter, shimmy and tremble, falter and even sometimes fall. As we move along, we tenaciously pursue perfection on the mommy beam until the time comes to send our little bundles of joy off into the world.  And like any Olympic champion, we only hope and pray to stick the dismount.  

Motherhood isn't easy, that's for sure.  We're always walking one fine line or another. Should we let them drink pop?  Are they ready for sleep-away camp?  Is their bedtime too late...or too early?  Are they ready to date?  Drive?  Go away to college?  Are we doing it right?  Is there even a way to do it right all the time?  My guess is, probably not.

Today at work, (I'm a school cook), this 1st grade boy who comes through the line every day, makes his own choices about what to eat, moves his full tray with all the accompaniments...silverware, napkin, straw...from one end of the serving line to the other, enters his own lunch number which he knows by heart and manages to get from the line to his seat in the cafeteria all by himself was utterly stifled by his mother who wanted to 'help' him with everything from picking a carton of milk to carrying his plate for him.  He looked at her with confusion in his eyes.  He did, after all, do this every day...all by himself..with competency and confidence.  And yet, he took his hands off his tray and allowed her to carry it for him.  He let her do for him something he was perfectly able to do for himself.  

In that moment, I'm sure she thought nothing of it.  She was, I'm certain, only intending to make her son's life a little bit do for him something that seemed like such a big job for such a small boy.  But, in reality, she robbed him his autonomy.  She took away a moment when she could have praised him for his ability and instead, rescued him from something from which he need not be saved.

And so what is the one thing I think we as mothers must be careful not do for our children?  Very simply...everything.  

I think as mothers, our instinct is to be that superhero who shadows our children hoping to thwart all danger that may come their way.  Like Wonder Woman with her special bulletproof bracelets, we want to stand between our children and anything or anyone who might present them with challenges or trials.  We want to fix all their problems and fight all their battles.  We want to avenge all their wrongs and lift them above all the difficulties and dilemmas this life might bring.   

The thing is, all those challenges and trials, all those difficulties and dilemmas, well, that's where the best character building often takes place.  Kids don't learn a work ethic by having everything given to them.  They don't learn kindness and compassion by having their eyes shielded from every unpleasant reality.   They don't learn humility and modesty by having their egos continually fed and stroked.  

We sometimes forget that we aren't raising children to just be bigger children.  We're supposed to be raising them to become adults...mature, responsible, productive, respectable adults.  We're supposed to be instilling qualities in them that will serve them...and society...well.  We want them to be able to live without us some be able to take care of themselves and their own be able to make good choices for be able to think for themselves. 

There simply is no easy way to get them from one end of that narrow, treacherous beam to the other.  We cannot carry them the entire way and thus avoid all the perils and pitfalls growing up is certain to present.  The only way to start moving our kids in that direction is to begin to allow them to do some things for themselves by themselves.

We have to resist that urge to always swoop in and 'save' our kids.  Sometimes, of course, when the situation is severe enough, we must.  But sometimes, it's okay to the let them fail.  It's okay to let them take an F they earned.  They need to learn how to lose graciously and deal with the reality that they're aren't always going to the best at everything...the most beautiful...the smartest...or the most deserving.  And they also need to learn how to win just as graciously.  They need to fight some of their own battles...for sure not ones that could kill them (literally or figuratively) or maybe not even ones that could leave serious war wounds...but the occasional scrape gained through standing up for oneself can be quite the confidence builder.  

We need to get over the idea that our children need us for everything.  They don't...or least they shouldn't. To do everything for them is to cripple them really.  And I'm sure none of use want to do that to our children.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

A mother's work is never done

Today started out as 'one of those days'.  At 5:47 A.M., my sixteen year old son jarred me from a sound sleep with, "Mom, I overslept."  A quick glance at my cell phone screen confirmed it.  He had exactly 13 minutes to get ready and arrive at his pick up point for his detassling gig...some ten plus miles away.   Oh yeah, that wasn't happening.  His first instinct was to chuck the whole day and head back to bed.  But the responsible mother in me didn't find that plan to be prudent.  A job is something to be taken seriously after all...something to be committed to...something not to be missed when a full 13 minutes are at your disposal.

So after 'encouraging' said son as he half-heartedly made a couple calls to find out his destination for the day...which I could have done much more quickly and efficiently than he, but which I felt was best if he did know, to learn to handle his own business (oh the day when this dream comes to fruition!!)... I hurriedly made him a lunch while he got himself dressed and ready to go.  Of course, had I simply got him out the door and made my way back to the comfort of my own bed, there would be no tale to tell.

Flashback to yesterday when our oldest son called and asked to borrow a vehicle since his is temporarily out of commission.  Now follow me here...Since my husband in currently donning a plaster cast on his driving foot, we have, theoretically, an 'extra' car and are always willing to help out our kids when we can.  But my husband had offered his car...the nice cool our 16 year old to use for the next couple weeks, so  we had to offer our oldest son his younger brother's vehicle to drive with the condition that he return it last night.

Normally, it wouldn't have mattered so much that the car be returned immediately.  But, because my husband had a doctor's appointment today to which I had to drive him in my car...AND... because my husband's friend was going to pick up the nice cool car and meet us after the doctor's appointment to drive them to a sprint car race tonight, our 16 year old would need HIS car this morning to make that 6am pickup for work that he was now late for.  But guess what?  The oldest son DIDN'T return the car last night.

So the mother in me did what I like to think the mother in most women would do.  I griped about how irresponsible said children if the youngest went to bed earlier, he wouldn't have if the oldest had brought the car back, I'd be sleeping again already...and how all this annoyed and inconvenienced me greatly (I paraphrase, as you other mother's out there probably knew already).  And then, I threw on a pair of sandals, smoothed my hair down and grabbed my car keys.

I actually managed to deliver my youngest son to the field where he was working ahead of the bus's arrival. Score one for mom.  Then, I hastily sent a few motherly text messages to my oldest son...his very own unpleasant wake up call.  Minus one for mom.  He did I.  All was well.  Except, now I had a 16 year old in the fields with no means of transportation to get back home and a husband with a doctor's appointment at roughly the same time said 16 year old would need picked up.  Wonderful. (Denote deep sarcasm.)

And so began a barrage a calls and text messages to try and get my proverbial ducks in a row.  I won't go through the whole litany, but let's just say, it was no small feat to get everyone's transportation needs met today.  And by the time I managed to get a fully functional plan in place, I was teetering on the edge of making my husband late for his 10:30am haircut...just another thing to work into my crazy morning.

So a quick shower, a head of halfway dried hair and make-up-less face later, my husband, knee scooter and all, and I were finally out the door ourselves.  But again, the mom in me just had to make sure the plan was being correctly implemented.  So I asked my husband so send one single text to our daughter-in-law to make sure we were all on the same page.  To which, my husband acted utterly annoyed and said something to the effect that he would be glad when we had this all this taken care of.

 Are you kidding me?  I thought.  "Are you kidding me?"  I said even more emphatically than I had thought it.  "WE"...I don't remember "WE" doing anything all morning long.  I remember "ME" doing it all.  So now he has to type and send one single solitary text and it's a "WE"?  "Just send the text."  I reiterated.  "The mom in me will feel better."  A sigh, a roll of the eyes and a few pecks on the keyboard later, and finally, the mom in me did feel better.

I just wonder why the mom in we women never seems to be able to go completely off duty.  Even when our kids are grown and have kids of their own, we still feel compelled to mother them, to bend over backwards to accommodate them, to put ourselves out so they don't have to.  I guess it's true...a mother's work is never done.  And quite frankly, I'm glad it's true....because even if I have to make a hundred 6am dashes to corn fields or make a million phone calls to get one little duck back safely to the nest, it's all worth it.  Being a mom is the best job ever.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

25 years and counting

My husband and I are about to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.  As my sixteen year old son pointed out, "Not many things last twenty five years these days."  

He's so right.  Over the past twenty-five years, we've really managed to hold on to very few things.  We've collectively had over a dozen different vehicles...4 dogs...3 kids...owned two homes...and yet somehow, with God's grace, just one marriage.

It isn't easy to make a marriage work in this convenience-driven, everything's disposal kind of world we live in.  Let's face it, sharing your life with someone isn't always convenient.  It isn't always fun.  It certainly isn't always rainbows and unicorns.  

There's no secret to marital success.  Although having no secrets does help.  Marriage is work.  It takes effort to love someone when they aren't always put up with their quirks and annoying habits day after day and year after year.  Learning to overlook an offense, to forgive the unforgivable and not keep the score, well, none of that is easy to do either.

Marriage means not always getting your own way.  It means sometimes giving up your right to be right.  It means sometimes putting yourself on the back burner so someone else's flame can burn bright.  And all that's some seriously hard stuff to do too.

So why bother with it at all?  Why get married when it demands so much?  Why?  I'll tell you why...

Because no matter what I've invested in this marriage of ours, the dividends have always been greater.  The time, energy and effort I've put in has returned to me the richest of rewards.  

While I was loving him through difficult times...times when, I promise you, it would have been easier to just walk away, he was loving me that same way.  When I was forgiving him for hurts he caused me...hurts I wasn't sure would ever heal...he was forgiving me for the same kinds of hurts I had caused him.  When I was working like a mad woman to build a bridge to often wobbly, sometimes hastily constructed bridge...he was working just as hard to build a bridge to me. 

And so now, these nearly twenty-five years later, that bridge is basically complete.  We don't have to build so much now as we just have to maintain.  We don't have the same kinds of challenges we did when we first started.  We don't make the same kinds of mistakes.  Oh, we still have challenges; we still make mistakes.  But they aren't the kind that cause us to question our commitment to one another or doubt our ability to stand strong together.  They aren't things that would cause the bridge to fall.  Now don't get me wrong, if we fail to do the routine maintenance, that bridge will be in trouble.

But as we stand together on that bridge now, we have proven ourselves to each other enough times to know we can depend wholly on each other.  We know there's nothing we can't accomplish together.  We know we can stand the test of time, because, well, we already have. We trust each other to keep our bridge in good repair.

So as we go into the next twenty five years where the empty nest and the effects of aging will begin to press in on us, we know we are each other's greatest ally. We know we can count on each other to be there through thick and thin.  And whatever we may or not have, we know we have each other.  And that's worth something for sure.  It's definitely worth all the things we've gone through to get here.  

As I look back over the years, think about the ups and downs, remember the good times and the bad, reflect on this life we've lived, I know for sure I'd do it all again...with him...only him...always him. Because while most things don't last, thankfully some things do.  

Monday, April 1, 2013

Home is where the heart is

When my husband and I first got married, we made nearly weekly trips home to visit our families.  We'd pack our bags...and our dirty laundry...and make the hour long trek from Lafayette to Windfall.  Even after we had kids...and our own washer and dryer...we still made the drive home more weekends than not.  

There was...and is...just something about being home.  It is a place where I can put my feet up and let my hair down.   It is the place where I sleep the soundest...act the silliest...dream the biggest.  It is the place where I am able to laugh the hardest...cry the most earnestly...speak my mind the most freely...and be myself completely, knowing that even if I rub someone wrong, they will love me just the same.  And for quite some time after I was married, that place...home...was still my parents' house.

But somewhere along the way, home became a completely different place.  It was no longer where I grew up, where I learned right from wrong or where I relished the safety and security my mom and dad always provided.  I'm not sure when it happened exactly, perhaps because it happened so gradually that I barely noticed at the time, but happen it did.  

At some point, home became our house...our home.  I don't think there was a magical moment, no grand aha, that caused this transformation.  But there definitely was a time when my preference became being in my own house with my own husband and my own children.  There came a time when the family I was born mom and dad, sisters and brother...moved to the periphery of my life while the family I was creating moved to the forefront.  

And when we moved from our first home to the next, I realized something else.  My home was less a physical place built with bricks and mortar and more a place built with heart and soul.  It was...and is...a place more inside me than me inside it.  

As the years march on, I now find myself on the outside edge of my adult children's lives.  My house is no longer theirs.  And slowly but surely, my home isn't theirs anymore either.  They, like my husband and I so many years ago, are making their own homes with their own  families.  And while this is bittersweet for me, it's utter sweetness for them.  And what parent wouldn't want that for their children?  

So while I miss seeing their faces...miss hearing their voices...miss being a part of the ordinary day to day of their lives, I am thankful to have been part of their first family...their first home...the first place their heart was.  And I hope that one day, when they reach the place in their lives where I am now, that they too will look back with as much fondness at the home they were given as children as the one they built themselves as adults.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Lessons learned

With the heart of a writer, you might think I'd have to give all the credit to my English teachers as being the ones who taught me the things I use the most in my everyday life as an adult.  And while I certainly had great English teachers, the truth is, as those of you who read my stuff already know, I'm really not one to follow the rules of writing much.  I misuse punctuation with regularity!!  I actually have very little regard for proper sentence structure...couldn't diagram one now if my life depended on it.   I'm never particularly bothered by a dangling participle or a sentence ending in a preposition.  And if there were a queen of the run-on sentence, I think I'd be her.

In high school, I took Miss Croxford's senior lit class (which won't mean much to the general population, but T.C. alums will feel my pain)...advanced biology where we dissected sharks and memorized something to do with the DNA helix (yeah, that info didn't stick with me)...I took chemistry, a couple years of algebra and two years of French...I filled my schedule with all the 'important' classes...the stuff sure to prepare me for the real world...the stuff guaranteed to get me where I wanted to go in this life.  But oddly enough, two of the skills I learned in high school that routinely serve me well were learned in two of the do I say this delicately? two of the most benign classes I ever took.

Oh, please don't get me wrong, they were great elective where things of real value were being taught for sure.  But they weren't the classes my guidance counselor...or my parents...were pushing.  They  weren't classes colleges would have been impressed to see on my transcripts.  And even for me, back then when I thought I'd wear a suit and carry a briefcase instead of push a stroller while sporting a diaper bag, I considered them nothing more than 'filler' in my schedule.

So what are these two skills I learned in high school that I use with such regularity that it warrants me noting so?  #1-typing.  While sitting in class with Mr. Farris at the  helm, fingers down, wrists off the table, eyes up, never would I have thought typing would be something I use every single day. In a pre-computer world, it seemed  like an  unnecessary skill to acquire.  But now, when a keyboard is part of so much of our communication, I'm grateful to have learned how to type with ease.  Even though I learned on a clunky old manual typewriter, had to use correction strips (anyone remember those?) and struggled to get margins and headers right for my weekly Croxford paper, knowing how to type with speed and ease certainly has served me well.  And it's more than just being able to easily blog, write emails or Facebook like a pro, it serves me well at work too.  Being the official 'typer' has it's advantages even in the realm of the high school cafeteria.

Secondly, the skill I am most thankful to know, although never so eager to use, is ironing.  Crazy as it sounds from someone who avoids purchasing clothes for herself that will require ironing, I find myself standing in front of that darned ironing board on a near weekly basis during basketball season.  Every Friday, my son has to wear 'dress' clothes.  'Dress' clothes = ironing.  And while I in no way, shape or form enjoying the process, I must say, I am very glad to have learned how to press a mean dress shirt under the direction of Miss Buchanan back in home economics class.

So you're probably wondering what the  point of telling you all this is?  Well, as a mother, I want to make sure my kids know all the 'right' things.  Education is important.  But it's easy to forget that education isn't just reading, writing and arithmetic.  Good grades and book smarts only take a person so far.  Real life requires a variety of skills...some can be learned in classrooms...most are learned elsewhere.  So while I'm grateful to be able to read and write, do math and yes, even type and iron a shirt, I am also grateful to have been taught to love others, to be kind, to be generous, to be a thinker and a doer.  I am thankful to have been shown how to be a good woman by the women who raised me, my mother, my grandmother.  I am thankful to have been able to learn the skills that make me a good wife, mother, friend.  I am thankful to have been taught to have a good work ethic by a father who lived that out in front of me every single day.  And for me, I'm confident in saying that the best and most valuable things I've learned are found in the Bible that I use as my manual for life.

The list of lessons learned goes on and on and grows even now on a daily basis.  I guess, to me, the whole  world has the potential to be a classroom if the student is willing to learn.  And learning that is a lesson within itself.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The 12 year itch

It's year 24 of my marriage...and time for what I like to call the 12  year itch.  It isn't an itch that can be soothed with any salve or ointment like you might use for poison ivy or  poison oak.  It can't be satisfied with a racy car or set of hair plugs like a middle age crisis possibly could.  It has nothing to do with wanting to replace a 40 something spouse  with a couple 20 somethings.  But it totally is about standing at the intersection of one phase of life and having to choose which direction to go as  we head into the next.

Twenty-four years ago, we had the first itch...the itch to be hitched.  We were just two stupid kids  who didn't know exactly what we were doing, but we knew we wanted to face the future together.  We didn't have a five year plan...we didn't even have a five month plan.  We just jumped in headlong and started scratching that itch.

At the 12 year mark of our marriage, we were nicely settled into a comfortable little life with three little children in a very little house.  It was, for the most part, everything we hoped for.  But then the itching started.

As the boys were getting bigger, the house felt smaller.  And while we were just an hour from our extended family, the separation somehow seemed larger with each passing year.  Our dreams just kept growing and growing...getting so big that our once comfortable little life didn't seem to fit us anymore.  

We were no longer the parents of small kids with small needs. And as our boys were growing older, we wanted them to be close to their go to a good live in a safe neighborhood.  We wanted them to have both literal and figurative 'room to grow'.  

The urge to scratch that itch became overwhelming until we finally decided  to pull up stakes and make a whole new life for ourselves.  As our little children became big boys, we traded our little house for a bigger one.  We traded our big town lifestyle or a small town lifestyle.  We lost some things in the move...we grew apart from friends...we left a church we loved...I even gave up a job that paid far better twelve years ago than the one I have now pays today.

But scratching that itch brought us into a whole new life...a rich and rewarding life.  We've made a home here...the kind of home that lives inside us as much as we live inside it.  We've made new friends...friends we love like sisters and brothers.  We're closer to our families, both physically and otherwise.  And that job that doesn't pay so great in dollars and cents has  made me rich in so many other ways.  

 And yet, with all our blessings, too many to count, that itch has started up again. Oh, it isn't 'our' itch...if it were, we'd simply scratch it.  It's my husband's itch.  And it's an itch I'm hard pressed to want to scratch.  

With the boys now men...and daughters-in-law times two..and a grandbaby who has us over the moon, my husband is itching for a change.  A change of scenery...a change of direction...a change of monumental proportions.  Too many changes for my happily settled mind to fully wrap around.  

That free and fearless attitude of his makes me want to dig my heels in and prepare to be dragged by the very horse I once couldn't wait to hitch my wagon too.  Oh, don't misunderstand me, where he goes, I go.  Where you find him is where you'll always find me.  But that doesn't mean I'm thrilled about the prospect of 'starting over'...his words...his very scary words.

I realize there's some level of 'starting over' at this juncture in our lives...whether we stay in this house or downsize to something that better fits the new face of our family....whether we change careers or not...whether we like or not...whether we're ready or not.  I can't stop it.  I can't change it.  I know I have to bend or I'll break...I have to move or get run over.  I don't have the option to keep everything just as it has been.  Oh how I wish I knew how to cure that itch!

And while I don't know what our future holds...I don't know where we'll be tomorrow or next month or next year....while I don't know how much different our lives will be now that we're grandpa and mimi instead of mommy and daddy...while I can say very little with very much certainty, this I know...if in 12 years from now Dan and I are still breathing, that itch will be back...just in time for retirement.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Lost or found

While I was making the trek from the small town we live in to another small town some twenty miles away to watch my youngest son play soccer, I made a wrong turn.  For several miles, I found myself wandering from one desolate country road to another, trying to get back on course.  As I drove down a long stretch of lonely      highway, it occurred to me that no one knew exactly where I was.  At that moment, I realized if something happened to me, no one would even know where to begin looking.  And then, even more disconcerting, the thought that it could be a very long time before anyone even missed me crossed my mind.

Being all alone and a little lost certainly had something to do with the thoughts whirling around in my head.  But another significant event of the past week played a part in it as well.  You see, my uncle passed away last week.  He was my dad's brother.  I hadn't seen him in probably thirty years.  I wouldn't have recognized him even if I did see him.  I know nothing about him really...nothing good.  And he knew nothing about me...nothing at all.  We were, for all intents and purposes, strangers...genetically related but in no other way connected.

What I do know about my uncle is that during his life, he had opportunities...he squandered.  Wives...he abandoned.  Children...he failed.  He had talents...he wasted.  Dreams...he threw away.  He had  potential...he left undeveloped.  He once had a family...he died alone.

It's tragic and pathetic and sad.  To live a whole life and have nothing at the end of it.  To die alone with not even one person to hold your hand as you leave this world.  To live a whole life only to end up having strangers bury your body without so much as one word of eulogy spoken over you or one tear shed in loving memory.

I wonder at what point my uncle got lost.  What wrong turn took him so far off the path that he never found his way back?  Who knows, maybe he never tried to find his way back.  Or maybe he never realized he was lost.

Whether by choice or chance, because of circumstance or consequence, my uncle became the worst kind of lost...hopelessly lost.  My mom said he'd call about once a year, always drunk, usually wanting to rehash the past that had led to his wayward life.  But he never asked for any kind of reconciliation.  He never sought redemption.  He didn't seek to be part of a family that surely would have for made room for him, had he wanted back in.

He seemed somehow satisfied to live with his discontent.  Crazy as that sounds, he isn't the only one I know who lives that way...satisfied with their discontent.  Doing nothing to help themselves.  Never trying to be healed.  Not wanting to get better. Hanging on to a past that only suffocates any hope of happiness a person might have.  Never turning around even when they know they're headed in the wrong direction.  Staying lost seemingly on purpose.

I don't understand it.  For me, even that friendly little welcome sign greeting me as I finally arrived at my destination brought me relief, even joy.  Who wouldn't want to be found?  Who wouldn't want to loved?  Who would choose to be lost?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ignorance is bliss

With two adult children, I'm learning to redefine my role as mother.  Being the mom of 'grown ups' requires one to engage in a very delicate balancing act where we learn to hold our tongues more and express our opinions less.  It means letting our kids make their own choices...and their own mistakes.  It means accepting that the day-to-day job of mothering is no longer necessary...and no longer desired by our offspring.  

As a bit of a control freak, this is a transition that I often find challenging.  My instincts tell me to swoop in when I sense danger, to protest loudly when I see a potential pitfall and to share every ounce of my infinite wisdom...whether it's wanted or not.  But I'm learning to exercise self-control in these react slowly to perceived threats and to wait until my advice is sought to offer it.  I actually think I'm getting pretty good at this intricate high wire act.  And the relationships that are growing among my husband and I, our adult sons and their mates are testament to it.

As evidence, my sons have started to reveal things about their teen years that I had not previously known.  Oh you know the kind of stuff I'm talking about...the stuff they got away with...the stuff I never suspected...the stuff I was probably better off not knowing.  It's nothing horrible...normal stupid boy making a sling shot  to  shoot pencils into the ceiling tiles in the choir room...flooding the boy's locker room during P.E....and one son booby trapping the other one's locker so that a bottle of water dumped on him when he opened it.  They laughed and laughed as they shared story after story about their immature antics.   

And while I tried to act righteously indignant about some of their high school hi jinx, as any good mother should, I couldn't help but be flattered to be brought into the circle where previously, only their friends had been invited.  Events that would have been met with stern reprimands or grounding then could be shared openly and with a good chuckle now.  

And while some level of ignorance truly is bliss when raising teenagers, having relationships with my kids that are still growing and thriving now that they are adults is absolute blessedness.  

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Gynocologist, Walmart and the BMV

We all have places we dread going.  In my top three are my annual 'female' visit to the doctor, Walmart and the BMV.  The first only comes around once a year with benefits that outweigh it's stirrup-induced downfalls, so it's tolerable.  Walmart I can generally steer clear of...although every once in a while and defying all logic, I find myself sucked into the vortex of shopping perdition.  But the BMV is a place that's often unavoidable and almost always a source of frustration.

In the last few weeks, we added a vehicle to our fleet while getting rid of another, and we gained a freshly permitted young driver.  These three tasks would seemingly have required a maximum of three visits to the beloved Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Of course, had that happened, I wouldn't be taking the time to write about it now.

Adding the first vehicle was a breeze.  In and out with no problems other than being some $600 poorer.  But then I couldn't find the title for the vehicle we were letting go.  In all fairness, the BMV isn't at all to blame  for my careless misplacement (or more likely the unfortunate shredding) of our original title.  Nor is it responsible for the bank's failure to release the lien.  But everything from then on I feel totally validated in blaming on them.

My first bone of can't call the local license branch directly anymore.  Like many other fine institutions, the powers that be at the BMV have implemented a voice mail maze that I'm sure is designed to cause enough aggravation to insure patrons either (1) give up or (2) spontaneously combust from utter exasperation.  I chose option #1.

So an unplanned trip to one of my least favorite places to visit became absolutely necessary.   And because I hadn't been able to talk to a flesh and blood human being, I had no idea at that time what the issue was that was preventing me from being able to order a new title online.   I didn't know what to take with me or what to do in advance to prepare for this trip. I showed up empty handed and annoyed.

Once the gal explained that the lien had never been released by the lender even though the vehicle had been paid off for well over three years, I asked if I could have the proper paperwork faxed to the branch so we could get things cleared up right away.  She said, "no problem", and jotted down the fax number for me.  A quick call to the credit union, and it looked like we'd have a relatively simple solution to my problem.  But an hour later...and only a few minutes before closing time...still no fax.  I tried to call the loan department at the credit union again, but after 4pm on a Friday, I had no luck.

The gal at the BMV offered to call me in the morning if the fax came through.  How nice, I thought, even though it would mean another trip to the branch.  So I gave her my number and headed off.

But come Saturday morning, I still hadn't heard from the credit union or the BMV.  Now I knew the loan department at the credit union could be closed, but the BMV was open til noon.  Of course, because of the voice mail h...e...double hockey sticks....I couldn't actually call to see if they'd received the paperwork yet.  So I decided to just wait until Monday when I could call the credit union before making the trip to town.

On Monday, I went in to the credit union with a head full of steam that had built up over the weekend.  I planned to let them know just how annoyed I was to have been left stranded at the BMV for over an hour waiting on a fax that never came through.  But the agent there was quick to show me that they had indeed sent the fax...twice.  And both times it had been returned as undeliverable.  I still had the piece of paper the gal at the BMV had written the number on for me in my purse...same number the credit union had tried to fax...same wrong number.  The agent at the credit union then told me they had tried to call the branch to ask for the correct fax number, but guess what...they had ended up in the automated purgatory all callers to the BMV land in.  And like me, they had chose option #1 and simply gave up on getting through to a real person.

At least I finally had the paperwork I needed to get my new title ordered.  But that was not the end of my misadventures with the BMV.  Sadly, it wasn't even the most irritating encounter I'd have with them that week.

Just two days later, I had to take the last of the little birdies from this nest to acquire the much coveted learner's permit.  We had gathered every piece of identifying paperwork we could find on the boy...birth certificate, social security card, passport, W2 and a bank statement.  He even had his student ID and public library card for good measure.  We had covered all our bases...something from each of their required categories.  The only thing we were missing was a blood test to prove he really belongs to his father and me...which I wouldn't be surprised if they start demanding somewhere down the line.

But upon presenting our stack of documents to the same gal who had provided me with the incorrect fax number, my son's dreams of obtaining his permit were quickly dashed that day.  That W2 and bank statement would be no help in proving his Indiana citizenship.  They needed something with the physical address on it.  But no one is sending things to our physical address...because the United States Postal Service doesn't deliver to our house here in podunkville.

The gal suggested a utility bill.  Seriously??  He's 15.  He doesn't have utility bills.  He doesn't have any bills.  How about his grade card?  Card grades are our P.O. box.  Transcript?  School's out.  There's no one there to print a transcript right now.

Then she tells me she could accept MY birth certificate and two other documents with MY physical address on them.  Although how that proves where HE lives is beyond me. It's just her taking my word for it that he resides where I reside.  But if she's going to take my word for that much of it, why not take my word for the rest of it?  Seriously...we didn't have to provide this much documentation to get the kid's passport or send him to a third world country on a missions trip where he traveled without us!          

But at least we had a solution to our problem.  However, she informed me, the one piece of ID they will not accept that has my physical address on it...wait for it....


Apparently, having proven my identity and residence to them once upon a time no longer is good enough when I'm vouching for the identity and residence of my minor child.  (Perhaps spontaneous combustion isn't just a concern while using the BMV's phone system!)  Strange how the one piece of ID practically every place else will accept as proof of who I am and where I live isn't good enough for the one place that issues it!

But without any other options, we returned home to gather yet more documents.  And then, with fingers crossed and migraine medication on hand, we were off to the BMV again.  This time, thankfully, we left with a a little piece of paper that made my son smile in such a way that made it all worth it.  Maybe we'll celebrate with a trip to Walmart...NOT!!


Friday, May 11, 2012

Mom pay

I got a text at 3pm from my fifteen year old son asking me to please bring his basketball shoes to him after 3:10.  So I dropped what I was doing...nothing important really...went and hunted down the shoes in his 'enter at your own risk' bedroom and headed out the back door.

My husband, who happened to have the day off today, met me at my van and asked me where I was going.  I quickly filled him in, not only on my immediate objective but also on how I had very specifically asked our son if he had everything he needed for his after school activities before we left this morning. I added that I feel like I spend half my life running errands for and following the agenda of our children.  

I honestly don't think that's much of an exaggeration.  For the past twenty-one years, I have logged a lot of miles taking kids to and from everything from church related events to wrestling meets...ball games to dances.  I've made special trips to fetch missing uniform pieces, forgotten homework, field trip permission slips that just had to be turned in that day.  I've made many late Sunday evening treks to buy poster board and art supplies for projects that always seem to be due on Monday mornings. I've delivered after school snacks to boys who surely would have wasted away had they had to wait until ball practices were over. I've made so many trips to and from my kids' schools, I'm certain my van could get there by itself now.  

I couldn't even begin to guess how many hours I've spent sitting on uncomfortable bleachers watching my boys play basketball or wrestle...or how much time I've spent watching baseball in the scorching heat...or soccer in the pouring rain.  Oh, and the time spent watching is nothing compared to the time spent waiting!  Waiting in the parking lot for school to get out...waiting on the bus to get back after an away game...waiting for rehearsal to end or practice to get over.

I'm pretty sure if I got paid by the hour or by the mile, I'd have enough to take a very nice trip somewhere by now or maybe even a nicely funded IRA.  And while I don't except to be financially compensated for my 'work' as a mother, it's nice to be appreciated for it.

So when my husband leaned into the van, kissed me gently and said, "Everyone should have a mother like you,"...all I could do was smile.  Because no matter how many times I've complained about the wasted gas and wasted time spent making special trips just to deliver gym shoes, I'm always going to do it.  And the truth is, I'm going to miss it when it's gone.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Hard Way

When I tell our husband and mine, I like to say we were fearless as we went out into the world and just refused to fail.  But maybe we were just plain stupid.  After all, we did do it the hard way.  Less than twelve hours after graduating high school, I became Mrs. Dan Wyant.  And less than than twenty-four hours after that, we packed up our meager possessions and headed to another state to start a new life together.  We had no jobs to go to but had no doubt we'd find them.  We had no home to call our own, but we weren't afraid to make one.  We had no plan for how to build our future...just two hearts that were determined to make it happen.

By the time I was 21, my twin sons' age now, I was three years married, the mother of two, living with my husband in a town far enough way from our families that we really felt like we were on our own.  We had a little house and a car with a $78 a month payment.  We were standing on our own feet and going to to bed at night with a tired we had earned.  Life was good, and we were happy.

But for me to pretend our lives have always been smooth as silk or perfectly peachy would be as crazy as you believing it.  There's nothing particularly 'easy' about being a grown up, about being married or about being a parent. Putting all those hats on at once only multiplies the challenges.

Let's face it, the on-the-job training program for life is difficult and sometimes painful.  The only thing higher than the hurdles are the stakes.  We've made more than our fair share of poor choices over the years.  We've taken turns being selfish and foolish.  We've made messes and left scars.  We've fallen short and missed the mark from time to time.  Maybe there is no 'easy way' when it comes to this life.

But the mother in me can't help but want to spare my sons all the pains and pitfalls this life promises.  I don't want them to be like we were...doing it the hard way.  I don't want them to struggle or fall short or have to trade their dreams for harsh realities.  I don't want them to settle or sell out.  I don't want them to have to do without or simply make do.  As their mother, all I ever wanted to do was give them....well, everything.  

So it's good for me, that as it turns out, to do have given them everything...would honesty have been to rob them, in whole or part, of the beauty that is their own  life's journey.  Because as I look back at my own life, it was in the struggles and in the times of want and in the arena of the unknown that I did my best growing.  It was when we had so little that we gained an appreciation for much.  It was when we were without that we were often the richest.  It was when we had nothing but each other that we first realized we had everything that mattered.  And who we are today and where we are today would not be nearly so sweet without the insights gained by lives well lived.

So while there was a time when it was my job to provide a safe haven and construct a careful cocoon around the little boys I was so blessed to have call me 'mommy', that time has passed.  And boys no more, my sons...grown men...move away from this place to make their own way.  They do so, for better or worse, for richer or poorer...with women who love them and who walk beside them through this world.

They will discover for themselves all the things marriage and family and real life hold.  They will find their own strengths and learn to help each other through in times of weakness.   They will decide what's worth fighting for and what's simply not worth anything at all.  They will build their own future, burn their bridges, break their own ground.  They will make their own plans, dream their own dreams and pursue their own happiness.  They will find it out...figure it out...and sometimes even fight it out.  But Lord willing, they will endure and overcome it all together.  

So while my sons may not have done everything the way I would have chosen for them...the easy way...I'm sure my mom and dad would say the same about me.  But I know I wouldn't change my life even if I could...and that's what I hope for my sons to be able to say themselves one day.  When they too are old and gray, I want them to look back and say they wouldn't have had it any other way.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Another year older

If there's one thing I know, it's that I don't know much.  As I live this very innocuous existence, rarely venturing beyond my own little world, I realize there are places I will never go, things I will never see, experiences I will never have.  But the bigger reality is that there are places I don't even know are out there...things I can't even conceive of...adventures I'm not even aware are a possibility.

It's a fine line between content and complacent, I suppose.  As I find myself firmly entrenched in this place I like to refer to as 'the middle ages', that line is one I often walk with trepidation.  It's easy to slip into a life of routine, a life of monotony, a life where every day becomes much like the one before it and the one that follows.  

It's easy to become satisfied to know only what we know, do only what we've always done and never reach beyond the place we are.  But is that the life I want as I begin my descent over the proverbial hill?  Just because my hair is starting to gray and my joints sometimes ache, am I past the point of dreaming new dreams and pursuing new mountains to climb?   
Or is the goal to just keep pressure on the brakes so I don't fly down the old mountain too quickly?

I'm torn about it sometimes.  Part of me likes to just sit back and rest on what I've already accomplished.  But another part of me is screaming, 'there has to be more than this!'.  As the kids are growing up and leaving home and my role as wife and mother is being redefined, the me that's been neglected...even the me I was busy being is finding herself again.  She's thinking that she could discover...or at least rediscover...a whole plethora of things to do, places to go and even dreams to dream.  

And while I'm deciding what that all means in real life terms, I at least am able to look over the horizon with a renewed sense of excitement and wonder....knowing that the youth I've lost has made way for the woman I am...and the woman I'm still yet...even at this age...still yet to become.  

Saturday, February 11, 2012


After four plus decades in the workforce, my dad crossed the threshold into retirement yesterday!  He has always worked hard and provided well.  His co-workers think the world of him, and he has made valuable contributions on every job he's ever had.  So as he closes this very long chapter of his life, I not only congratulate him, but I want him to know how very proud I am to have him as my dad.

I think when you're a kid, you don't realize just how much of an impact your parents are having on you.  For better or worse, whether by design or without intent, they set a standard for us.  They impress on us certain values, ideas and world views that we don't fully appreciate until we're grown.

Especially as a teenager, my dad became the voice of reason for me.  He was never really one to just say, 'because I said so'.  He listened to me, entertained my ideas and offered his own in a way that didn't belittle mine even when he surely was hoping to sway me in a different direction.  

It is with great fondness that I look back on the many late night conversations my dad and I would share.  When I would come in, he would always be up.  I never got the impression he was waiting up on me, but now that I have kids of my own, I wonder if he was.  Either way, I always knew he was open for discussion.  Sometimes the topics were light as we both loved sports and sharing the mundane stories of our days.  But often, the topics were quite serious.  It's with my dad that I first discovered my love for talking about politics, religion and all things worth debating.  It was with my dad that I got my first impressions of how life really works.  It was with my dad that I first began to form opinions about all the hard subjects...things that I find even the most seasoned among us still cannot come to agreement about.  

It was with my dad that I really learned my own value.  Because he thought I was special, because he valued me, because he respected my ideas (even when he didn't necessarily agree with them), because he treated me fairly, because even when I was small, he made me feel empowered to do be whoever...I wanted to be, because he loved me, I loved me. And because my dad was the man he is, he showed me exactly the kind of man I deserved to share my life with.  

My dad may be unassuming, but he should never be underestimated.  There isn't another like him...not for me anyway.  And while some men are happy to be measured by their contributions in the workplace, it is in the hearts of those who love him that my dad will always be head and shoulders above any other.  

I love you, Dad.  Thank you for being you...and thank you for shaping me into the woman I am today.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Exposing Myself

As more and more of life lies behind me, I find myself often looking back at where I've been.  For the most part, I look back with fondness.  As a whole, it's been a good life.  More often then not, I've been loved and nurtured.  I've been safe and sound.  I had enough of everything that's mattered.  

But I don't think anyone gets through this life completely unscathed.  We all fall down.  Sometimes we get knocked down.  We know the notion of sticks and stones breaking bones but words never hurting is a big fat lie.  Time doesn't heal all wounds.  Not everything comes out in the wash.

Most of this life's battle scars mar heart rather than flesh.  And while some people crumble under the weight of a broken heart, most of us learn to bandage our wounds somehow and keep on going. 

But our brokenness always reveals itself.  It helps shape us from the inside out.  In our broken places, we are changed from who we were to who we are.  The words spoken, the deeds done, the choices all plays a role in molding us at the very core of ourselves.  

Sometimes people reach into our world and perhaps without even realizing it, they tear a hole in us that we spend the rest of our lives trying to fill.  They steal something from us with their cutting remarks, brutal mistreatment or their cruel disregard for us as human beings.  They violate us somehow...taking something away that wasn't theirs to take or leaving behind for us to deal with something that was never intended to be ours.  

We question our value.  We wonder if they are somehow right to degrade us, to disparage if there is some justification for robbing us of something that was, at it's very root, the heart of us.

We find ourselves changed.  We find ourselves forever altered by things that were often completely beyond our control...sometimes beyond our comprehension.  We find ourselves vulnerable...our wounds open to infection.  We find ourselves defenseless...our brokenness rendering us powerless to save ourselves. 

And while we more often than not find the strength to move on, some part of us bears that scar.   In mistrust, in doubt, in depression, in addictions of every form and nature, in self-loathing, in anger, in whatever the symptoms may be...the brokenness of our hearts is exposed.  

For me, I wear the scar of my personal dysfunction for all to see.  The hurts I hold inside I keep buried beneath the layers of my physical body.  Like a suit of armor, I have built this body to guard my heart.  In some twisted way that only I truly understand, it is my best friend and my worst enemy.  It protects and punishes me all at the same time.  And while I am not generally unhappy in my current form, I do recognize that the me I seek to shelter within this fleshy vessel is just as open to the hurts and heartaches of this life as it would be in a smaller shell.  

I haven't a plan...I haven't a goal...I just have a revelation.  Where I go from here is yet to be decided.  What I know for sure though, is that I don't want to be forever defined by the scars on my heart.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Missing My Grandma

I'm missing my grandma today.  I try not to just sit and think about her too often.  Not because I don't love her and not because I don't ache over not having her anymore.  It's quite the opposite actually.  As I sit here just beginning to let myself wallow in my memories of her, tears pour freely down my face.  I can quickly become consumed in heartache and anguish as I long to touch someone I can no longer reach, as I long to take hold of someone who has slipped so far away from me.

Growing up, my grandma was the axis around which our family spun.  Through both good times and bad, she was the single most powerful force that held us all together.  Despite divisions and strife that occasionally reared their ugly heads, her matriarchal influence somehow kept us in line.  

My grandma was a confidant to me.  I could tell her anything, and she listened without passing judgement.  She was a great sounding board, giving me honest and thoughtful advice at times when I was just beginning to discover who I was and who I ought to be.  

She was my biggest supporter.  When I was with her, I felt invincible.  She always saw good in me when I couldn't see it in myself.  She saw beauty in me when I was sure no one else could.  She made me feel comfortable in my own skin and confident in my own abilities.  She made me feel strong, like there was nothing she thought I couldn't do.  

She loved me.

She loved me like only a grandma does.

How pleased I think she would be to see who I've become.  How delighted she'd be to see the wonderful young men my children have grown to be.  How ecstatic she'd be to welcome my grandchild into this world.  How I wish she were here now to share in this time of my life.  

What I wouldn't give for just one more day with her.  What I wouldn't do to be able to tell her how much I love her and how I hope to be the kind of grandma to my own soon-to-be-born grandchild as she was to me.  

Oh how I long to feel her face against mine and stroke her soft hair and melt into her embrace.  I wish I could smell her.  I wish I could sit on her couch and pour out my heart to her again.  I just wish I still had her.  I just want heaven to give her back to me, if only it could.

I miss you Grandma.  I love you...and I miss you.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Wedded bliss {My spin on poetry. :)}

This is what it is..
a safe place to fall...
a warm summer breeze..
fuzzy socks on a cold night.
It's a tall glass of iced tea and hot cup of cocoa with little bitty marshmallows floating on top.
It's a gentle laugh, a subtle smile, a soft touch.
It's being full...happy...content.
It's being totally vulnerable and completely protected all in the same moment.
It's the highest high and lowest low having a shared center.
It's opening the world to all the possibilities and then closing the circle around the heart of it all.
It's deliberate when it needs to be and beautifully random when it can be.
It's the perfect balance of sophistication and innocence...of elegance and messiness.
It's a whisper and a shout...a song and sigh.
It's shelter from the storms and dancing in the rain.
It's finding yourself enmeshed in someone else and finding someone else enmeshed in you, two becoming one.
It's ups and downs, leaps and bounds, two steps forward and three steps back.
It's giving up on the idea of giving up.
It's war and peace and joy and grief.
It's where hope and reality meet.
It's pure and simple...and complicated.
It's looking into someone's eyes and seeing only yourself there.
It's looking into your heart and seeing only him there.
It's love...and all love promises.
A ring and a kiss.
This is what it is...wedded bliss.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

What part of 'vacation' don't you understand?

I am married to a very hard-working man, for which, I am very grateful.  He takes both his paying job and his job as keeper of the castle very seriously...maybe too seriously sometimes.  Like today, for instance...

I am on day #7 of my Christmas break (one of the very nice perks of being employed by a school system).  In those seven days, however, there has been very little down time for me.  If all the pre-Christmas, baking, wrapping, cleaning...and all the Christmas events...going to see my husband's parents, hosting the big family get together for my side of the family, having our traditional Christmas breakfast with our little family unit...and all the post Christmas tasks...getting mountains of empty boxes and shredded wrapping paper bagged up, taking down the tree and decorations, making a return to two weren't enough, our youngest son has had basketball practice every morning at 9am except on Christmas Eve and Christmas itself.  With all that, there has been little 'vacation' to be found in this break as of yet.  

So this morning, on day #7, we finally had the opportunity to sleep in, slow down and just have a lazy day.  Oh wait, remember that hard-working man I'm married to?  Yeah, well, he doesn't believe in a lazy day.  

As I sit in my office hiding from his to-do list, I can hear him repeatedly calling for our fifteen year old son to come help him as he tiles and grouts the shower in our main bathroom.  My son's response...or lack thereof...indicates to me he has the same opinion about my husband's incessant need to stay busy as I do.  

What's wrong with the occasional day of sheer and utter slothfulness?  Spending the day in one's jammies, watching made-for-tv movies, playing mindless games on can that be such a terrible thing?   Will the world stop spinning or the sun cease to shine if we just let everything go for a single day?  Can there be any real harm in just taking it easy and doing absolutely nothing of real value for just a 24 hour period?  

As I hear him working away, I almost feel guilty for just sitting here now...almost.  It isn't that I don't have a to-do list of mine own.  I haven't been to the grocery store in almost two weeks.  I need to get the Christmas decorations down to the basement.  The checkbook needs balanced.  These are all things I could easily do today that would satisfy his need for us all to stay productive while not causing me to feel overworked on our very first free day. 

Maybe I'll even go offer him a little help...or at least company...while he works.  He always seems to appreciate that.  And after all, I really do enjoy the fruits of his labor so it's the least I can do...literally, it's the least I can do.  <g>

I guess I should just give up the dream of a totally lazy least until January 4th.  That's the one day he'll be back at work, but I'll still be on vacation.  :-)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Flushing Optional

We have two bathrooms in our house...ours and the boys'.  The boys' bathroom is actually the main bathroom for the whole house, but for all intents and purposes, it is the boys' bathroom. They mark this bathroom much in the same way a dog marks it's territory.  In addition to dribble marks on the floor in front of the stool, they also leave their mark with dried blue toothpaste in the sink (sometimes mixed with whiskers), dirty laundry draped over the tub, the daily newspaper scattered about and more often than not, an empty toilet roll sitting on the counter.  

For these reasons, I have often referred to this bathroom as the gas station bathroom and have refused to use it.  But just before Thanksgiving, my husband remodeled their bathroom and made it simply beautiful.  So today, I decided to give this not even two week old bathroom a try.  For the most part, it looked great.  But then I saw the tell-tell sign that it definitely is still the boys' bathroom.  The toilet had not been flushed.

I do not know why my sons consider flushing to be optional.  And in spite of their mantra, 'if it's yellow, leave it mellow; if it's brown, flush it down', I somehow doubt their actions have as much to do with water conservation as simple laziness.  

Unfortunately, that isn't the only thing my sons consider 'optional' around here.  My youngest often considers tooth brushing optional.  When it's to the point where his teeth and flesh are almost the same color, I feel compelled to inquire when he last brushed.  (Were I more gifted, I could probably answer that question by the hardness of the dried toothpaste in the sink.)  He will then, use the inside collar of his shirt to wipe off his though that's a worthy substitute for actual brushing.

Putting sheets on their beds is also optional to the boys.  My mom often says it looks like an episode of 'Cops' around here because the mattresses are always exposed and their bedrooms look like they were ransacked.  I have no idea why they elect to sleep in the remains of their own sloughed off skin cells or why they feel at home in rooms that put the best frat houses to shame.  

Clothing is also optional around here much of the time.  I do not know why I cannot convince my boys that they are past the point where seeing them in their skivvies is cute.  One of them traipses through the house routinely in nothing but his undies, usually scratching himself as he goes.  But at least he refrains from letting it all hang out when we have company, unlike my youngest, who very recently made a trip through our dining room in just a sweatshirt and his underwear (why a sweatshirt with underwear, I haven't a clue) while I had several of my friends over.  Even when I shouted, "Hey, these ladies don't want to see that", he just shrugged and went on about his business.

Maybe these are just issues in our house.  Maybe they are just issues for mothers of sons.  Maybe they're the things that make for annoyances now but will make for funny memories somewhere down the road.  Who knows...I'm just glad I have my own bathroom.  :-)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Reflections of a Middle Aged....Grandma there any way to become a grandmother without somehow also becoming 'old'? 

After receiving the news that our son and daughter-in-law are expecting their first baby next summer, my husband happily staked claim to the name, 'gramps'.  Seriously, 'gramps'??  How old are you?  Like 90? When I hear 'gramps', I picture a little old man with a bushy mustache and a walking stick, maybe sporting a pair of bib overalls or orthopedic shoes.  I certainly don't envision my 42 year old husband, who I happen to think still looks mighty fine and who, I'm fairly certain, would never wear bibs.

Somehow I thought we would have more time before we had to cross this particular bridge.  I at least thought our own nest would be empty before our kids started adding little birdies to their nests.  

I thought when grandparenthood became our reality, we would be older, grayer and more on top of our own lives.  I guess the truth is, 41 is older than I like to believe, and were it not for the help of Miss Clairol, I definitely would be grayer.  

As for being on top of things, here I feel like life is just beginning to settle down.  We are getting to a place where things just seem...easier.  We are hitting a nice stride...moving along at a comfortable pace.  We are, after 23 years of marriage, beginning to see the possibility of being 'just us' again.  

Not that we are pushing our own last little birdie out of the nest just yet, but we definitely are beginning to accept that our days as 'mommy and daddy' are numbered.  And making the move from parents of littles to parents of bigs is one we are fully prepared...even make.  

But grandkids?  Who saw that coming so soon?  "Not I", said the middle aged mom.  I do not feel like a grandma.  I do not look a nana.  I am not aptly prepared to be a mamaw.  I haven't a clue how to move from here to there.  

I have a friend with a grandson and two more grandchildren on the way who cannot believe I am not already over the moon at the prospect of having a grandbaby.  She assures me I will be.  I'm sure she's right.  After all, any child of my child is sure to steal my heart.  

So after mulling it over, I staked my claim to the name, 'MiMi'.  I don't think 'Mimi' sounds too old.  I think I could be a 'Mimi'.  After all, a 'Mimi' wouldn't wear a duster dress and keep her teeth in a cup...would she?  Well not this 'Mimi' anyway.  :-)