Monthly Archives: January 2016

This I Know

I remember when our first baby was born the teen years seemed like a faraway mission field. We figured when we were the parents of an 18 year old child things would have figured themselves out and that the parenting gig would be simple.

NEWSFLASH: it gets harder as they get older.

Parenting teenagers is not as physically strenuous as the years when you’re chasing crawlers and runners through the house, but it is much more mentally exhausting. It’s not the fault of the kids, though. It’s just part of the process. We have awesome kids. I recognize that I am biased but total strangers tell me all the time that we have great kids. (That is mostly true). You  just have a lot more to juggle is all. Instead of worrying that their carseat is properly installed you worry that they won’t buckle their seatbelt or that someone will crush their soul, or that they’ll decide Australia ( or wherever the other side of the world is for you) is the place they won’t to call home.

There is just so much that you don’t know as they get older.

I may be a little melodramatic today because my firstborn, Kiley,  has turned 18. Officially the change won’t take place until 8:50 p.m., although my 15 year old daughter tells me that if we factor in leap years her birthday would have already happened. That kind of thinking gives me a nosebleed, though, so back to the subject at hand.

My kid is an adult today! She can vote and get married and rent her own apartment. She cannot, however, rent her own car because you have to be 21 to do that.

KileyCollage
Same girl, same park, 18 years apart.

 

I could just gush and gush about my girl. I could share so many stories about me and her. Kiley taught me so much about myself, the way the firstborns generally do. I learned that my body could do so much more than I thought when I insisted on laboring naturally with no epidural in spite of the pitocin being pumped through my veins. Let’s not even talk about that. I learned that I had a passion for breastfeeding because of this girl. Kiley was not easy to nurse for the first few weeks but thanks to an awesome lactation consultant we made it through. I learned that I loved parenting and child development. I learned that I could spend hours and hours just watching her.

This girl of mine has always been tenacious with a capital T. Our pediatrician called her scrappy.  When she was a toddler and I was doing my business (with the door open because there’s no other way to go when you’re a mom) Kiley toddled by the bathroom door holding a butcher knife with an apple stuck on the end. I’m not even kidding. She was not quite two. Another time, when she was about the same age, I walked into the kitchen to find her sitting on top of the fridge. She had shimmied up the cabinets using the knobs as footholds and was so proud of herself.

Kiley has always figured out how to do what she wanted. She’s figured out to use books and the internet to learn to do so much, from crafting to coding.  I just know that once she sets her mind to something it is going to get done. Period. Lately, though, she worries. It’s normal, I keep telling her, to wonder what it’s going to be like, to worry that you won’t always land on your feet. I’ve tried to worry about her, but I just can’t.

Kiley was about 6 when she wanted her training wheels off. My dad, her dad, my mom, me – everyone had advice for her. She just got more and more mad. Like, screaming kicking mad. Finally I said, “You get on, you find your balance, and you go.” We all went inside to watch through the blinds.

Twenty minutes later she was peddling like a pro up and down the sidewalk, a proud grin on her face.

I learned so much about her that day, and so much about the truth of life.

My Kiley, she will always get on, find her balance, and go.

This I know.

 

You Don’t Even Know

“Ugh, I thought you were going to be normal!” my daughter said in the parking lot of Walgreens.

“What?” I questioned, “I thought I was fine.”

“No, you weren’t. You asked us if we could just stop shaving our armpits so you didn’t have to pay for the razors.”

She did have a point. Those razors were $15 after the $5 off coupon. I share the bathroom with my husband’s (don’t tell him though)I can just use his, but they don’t have that luxury. Plus, I was more saying it as a joke to the cashier and person behind me. They knew that I didn’t really want armpits as hairy as their dad’s. Not that there’s anything wrong with women having hairy armpits, there’s not, it’s just not my thing. If it’s your thing good on you, because you are saving LOTS of money by not shaving.

The situation at hand though is that I’m weird and it embarrasses my daughters and there seems to be nothing I can do about it.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t think I was being weird,” I apologized.

“Grrrr. You don’t even know.” was her response as she stomped to the car.

She really did growl but I think that she was smiling.

I wondered, is the issue that she doesn’t want me to talk to people or does she not want people thinking about her armpits? I remember when I was a teenager and I thought that everyone was looking at me (which is developmentally appropriate behavior, by the way) I certainly didn’t want anyone thinking that I even had armpits, let alone have them thinking about my armpits. Also, I did not want my mother talking to anyone that I knew or might know or could come into contact with. I have no idea why. I guess I didn’t want them knowing I had a mother just like I didn’t want them knowing I had armpits.

I am not equating mothers to armpits. Not at all.

I think I really just don’t even know. That’s the age I’ve arrive at. I talk about things that no one else would talk about, maybe. Except when I talk to other mom’s I know that I’m not the only one.

Like, I’m not the only one whose favorite feature on the minivan is the window lock because it’s fun to lock the windows, so they can’t roll them down after I, ahem, break wind.  I am not the only one.

I’m not the only one who talks to complete strangers about the best recipes you’ve tried lately because they are not strangers after you’ve stood in line for 30 minutes.

I’m not the only one who thinks the best acoustics for singing Journey songs is the public restroom at the library.

The thing that my kids don’t know is that motherhood makes your weird. You may start out pretty normal ( I did not start out normal so I am not speaking from experience here) but after a couple of years of sleep deprivation, leaking milk, and being bombarded by the smell of poopy diapers you can become so desperate for adult conversation that you forget what it’s like. Then, when you finally make it around other adults you just kind of spew weirdness. Eventually you embrace the weirdness and find yourself locking your children in the van with your own really bad smelling fart for fun.

At least that’s how it happened for me.

For you the path to weird may be different, but I guarantee if you have a child when they become a teenage person that will mutter at you, “You don’t even know,” and you won’t.

You won’t even know.

 

 

It’s Only Monday

It’s only Monday and I’ve already done something smart, something stupid, and something silly.

The smart thing I did was to organize my boys’ drawers. I’ve been trying to weed out the clothes they don’t wear or don’t fit so that that all they have are three pair of pants, six shirts and one ‘church’ outfit. Around here what constitutes nice clothing is clean, fits well, has no holes and no super heroes adorning the front. I don’t care if there’s buttons or collars or pockets. Whatever my boys will wear to church is fine with me.

It’s what’s in their hearts I’m concerned about.

That, and their pockets.

My 12 year old suddenly doesn’t like to wear anything hot, and he insists that everything is hot. He’s taken to wearing shorts under his pants so that if he gets too hot he can just take his pants off. This horrifies his sisters but has little affect on me. It is a little disconcerting when he takes his shoes off at the start of the sermon and then wriggles out of his pants at about minute 12, but that’s why we sit in the balcony. Our audience is more limited up there.

Organizing their drawers won’t help that situation, but it will make getting dressed easier. Here’s hoping it lasts longer than 30 minutes.

 

The stupid thing I did was this:

IMG_4096
See? Young and girlish.

I looked in the mirror last night and thought, “I look kind of cute and girlish.” My hair was pulled back in a ponytail, my eyes were a little sleepy, but I thought my skin looked pretty and that I did not look at all  like my 42 years.

Here’s where I got stupid. I asked my days-away-from-18-year-old daughter if I looked old thinking she would agree with me and say, “No, you look practically girlish, almost like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.”

That is not what she said.

What she said is this: “Yeah, you do look a little old. Your eyes seem really baggy and you have a new wrinkle. You look like you need to sleep. A lot.”

Stupid, right?

She felt bad immediately after, especially when she noticed my face fall. I think when I started to ugly cry she was certain she’d said the wrong thing. I was given a quick back rub as an apology.

 

The silly thing I have done is lose my birth certificate. This is a long, drawn out story but I’m going to try and condense it. About six months ago Laurel, my 15 year old daughter, noticed that my drivers license has a capital M next to gender. We laughed about it and I completely forgot about it until my doctor needed a copy for their records, a copy of my driver’s license which has me marked as a man.  I felt a little panicked and wanted to explain but left it alone for fear of what the poor soul making the copy would think. Suddenly I grew worried that I was going to get pulled over and thrown in jail for something and be put in with the men because my driver’s license says I’m a male. The hubby and I went to the DMV. Our relationship with the DMV is shaky on a good day. This turned out not to be a good day.

I stood in line for a short while before being helped by a very sweet, very young girl. I quickly explained that my driver’s license was incorrect in identifying me as a male and I would like to have it changed.

“You’ll have to bring in your birth certificate to show that you were female at birth,” she said with a straight face, “then we can change your driver’s license.”

She also told me I’d probably have to pay for my replacement. My husband let her know we’d need to speak with her supervisor to clear up the situation. After I was assured that I would not have to pay for the replacement we left.

The next week, right before Christmas, I went back to the DMV with my birth certificate. It was raining so I put it in an envelope.

The DMV had moved to another location. Across town. Christmas traffic was mad so I decided to wait until after Christmas.

Since it’s now officially after Christmas I decided that today was the day to change the M to F on my driver’s license. I’m sick of the jokes from my family.

Unfortunately I cannot find the envelope that holds my birth certificate.

I have torn my bedroom apart. I have looked in the file I keep those things in no less than 2,357 times.

I think I’m going to have to order a new birth certificate.

Isn’t that silly?

 

When you think you know

This week we celebrated epiphany, partly because it also happens to be my oldest son’s birthday. I read the story of the wise men coming to find Jesus to my 6 year old boy. He was very annoyed with me because he’s ‘heard this story dozens of times’ and wanted me to re-read Jonah, his personal favorite.  Before you go thinking I may be raising a prophet I should tell you: it’s his favorite because in the Jesus Storybook Bible there is a picture of all the sailors in the boat turning green because they’re sea-sick from the storm. That’s why it’s his favorite.

Anyway, as I was reading the story it dawned on me that the wise men had been waiting for a sign for a really, really long time. Then, when the sign did finally come they followed it around for a really, really long time. On camel. They studied about the coming of this new King and knew to be on the look out.

Yet, they were still caught off guard by the reality of the Christ-child, his whole who, when, where, and how.

They thought they knew.

This new King was not to be found in a palace, but in a humble home with humble parents. He was not being raised with cushions and crowns but as the child of a carpenter. Nothing fancy, nothing special.

As I read that story to my kid for the 20th time I found myself wondering – if I had to look for Jesus how far would I go? Would I leave my comfortable life and head out for who-knows-how-long?

I also find myself about the people waiting on Christ, who don’t even know that they are waiting. I see them standing on the corners everywhere in my city, holding card board signs. I run into them in stores, or at the doctor’s office. People don’t know what kind of Love waits for them.

It can become paralyzing when you allow yourself to realize the amount of suffering that takes place in the world. There’s a name for what it’s called but I can’t remember right now. Basically, we humans become so overwhelmed by images of starvation, natural disasters, and deep poverty that rather than allow us to feel it our brains shuts it off. It’s a defense mechanism, and it causes apathy. We become desensitized.

I’m desensitized. I drive by people looking for something, coins, food, booze, whatever, and I pretend not to see them. I do. I do that. I just can’t deal with the magnitude of their problems. I can’t fix it. I can’t pull a Francis Chan and bring a homeless person home with me. I can’t put them up in a house or a hotel. I can’t fix their life so I choose to do nothing, to not even see the person.

It dawned on me the other day, though, that it’s not my job to fix it all. I can offer them a small piece of a giant puzzle. I can make a small gesture on behalf of Christ like sharing a meal at McDonalds. I know it’s not whole foods and that the trans fats are terrible but it’s something. I can see them. I remember years ago on a mission trip the pastor working with my youth group said that when people are homeless they become invisible, which is defeating and de-humanizing. The invisibility further removes a person from our society.

I wonder what would have happened if the magi had not seen Christ because he was not in a palace. What if he had been ignored because he didn’t look like people thought he would or should? Jesus still would have been Jesus, but our story of the three wise men would be very different. In fact, I think the wise men would not be part of the story if they hadn’t seen Jesus.

I want to be part of the story of Christ, I am part of the story of Christ. I have to see beyond what I think I know.

The First Post

Everything and Nothing
Everything and Nothing

The first one is generally the hardest one, that’s for sure.

I’ve really pushed myself on this little project. I think my eyes are bleeding. Trying to learn something new is hard, isn’t it?

I’ve waited for a really long time to start a new blog. I loved my old one so much but I was sporadic with my commitment. Over the last year it has just become a reminder of one more thing I meant to do…and didn’t.

So I just waited for the right time to start a new blog. I find I’ve been doing a lot of waiting in recent years. Waiting to lose the baby weight. Waiting to get my nose pierced. Waiting to put my laundry away or clean out that drawer or to call that friend. Waiting and waiting and waiting.

No more waiting. I’ve decided to embrace the fact that my love will never be calm (and do I really want that?). I’ve decided to allow myself to be contemplative even in my chaos. Apparently God thought I would thrive under these conditions because he certainly didn’t call me to be a nun.

What I’ve come to realize is that all of the moments in my life, the monumental and the mundane, are important, are divine.