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Flaws and All

Being a mother is a hard job. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It begins with the up every two hours, sleep deprived nurturing of the new born and continues…well, near as I can see from here, forever.  But things do change. As my children have grown, so has our relationship.  It ebbs and flows like a tide. Some days are better than others, some days I’m a peaceful calm sea and others, board your windows kids, mom’s in a mood.

 

Mom, the invincible one. The ultimate soother of the owies, preparer of the favorite lunch and chocolate chip pancakes is suddenly MoooooM, the embarrassing one. There are moments when my face defies the pain that the words off the lips of a child just inflicted on my heart.  But those days are quickly replaced by Mom, the friend. We talk about everything from clothes to dreams to girls/boys to sex and grades. 

 

We are mostly in the you’re my friend and my ATM phase of parenting with the kids, but still at risk of the occasional mocking target, just for kicks. Over time I’ve learned to not take it so personally and the “board your windows” days have reduced with that learned skill. I can’t share a magic for when or how I learned to adapt, but it does happen. 

 

Now I know I’m not up for any “Mom of the Year” award, I’m pretty sure the “f-bomb” infused screaming match with my daughter a few months ago will disqualify me for life, but overall, we must have done something OK.  My kids are close, they trust us, respect us and for the most part like us, flaws and all.

 

 

Life

Christmas Memories from the Youngest in the Crowd

Forget the rain drops on roses, my favorite things about Christmas growing up surround memories of time with our family. I have certain memories etched like old polaroids in my mind and here are my favorites.

I remember my mom trying to get all eight of us coordinated for a Christmas photo she would use on homemade cards. Clever and unique, each one chronicled our life in a family of ten! The one I remember we each held a sign that had part of the greeting phrase on it. I was glad to hold “A” because it was in my name! Hate the haircut, but I was proud of my sign.

My siblings and I would go around our neighborhood in Southern California and sing carols to neighbor homes. I was sure we sounded as good as any singers on the radio!

My Grandmother Mae lived in town in Idaho Falls, she drove my twin and I home after one visit and she sang carols and Christmas songs the entire way home. George and I giggled at how her grandma voice wiggled when she sang and heard verses of Jolly Old Saint Nicholas we had no idea existed.

On Christmas morning, we kids would sneak down stairs and open our stockings and play until a “reasonable” hour and then we woke mom and dad up by singing to them from the bottom of the stairs.

Our last Christmas with all of us together was in Idaho. The house was full, two labs were there, mess everywhere but we were whole and together. As dad always did, he would hand out the gifts one by one and we would watch each be opened and then move on. He had his brown plaid bathrobe on and a Santa hat. Susan was visiting from CA and that was the last time we were with her. I remember thinking her pooka shell necklace was amazing.

And I will never, ever forget my brother Jeff who is no longer with us either. He gave me my first trainer bra for Christmas!! I nearly fainted from the mortification of opening it in front of the whole family, but it was so Jeff!

I love you siblings and mom and dad! Merry Christmas.

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Life, Parenting

A few of my favorite things

It’s December! There is something about this time of year that makes me just plain happy. Everything about this season holds a bit of hope, thrill and delight to me. Sure, I’m a grown woman with grown children, but you’re never too old to believe. These are some of my favorite things:

1. I adore my family. They are my favorite company, friends and fans of Elf, sappy Hallmark movies and treats.

2. I am so grateful for my job. I get to represent an amazing organization that takes care of kids. And part of my job is getting to receive blessing after blessing from our community for the kids. It is moving to see the goodness and kindness of others!

3. I love, love Christmas music. Oh Holy Night is my all time fav. I remember as a kid caroling through the neighborhood with my siblings. Not sure if we sounded good, but we were convinced we were making others merry! For the life of me, I still don’t know what “figgy pudding” is. Pretty sure It’s NOT on my favorite list.

4. I love my neighbors! I’m so blessed to have the greatest family behind us. Their little three year old came in and saw our tree. She picked an ornament off the tree and asked, “can I borrow this?”. That kid could have my kidney if she asked. Absolute innocence and joy makes me smile.

What do you like about this time of year?

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Life, Parenting

Hunt & Gather – Musing About Black Friday Shoppers

It’s Thanksgiving. Well, technically it is the wee hours of the morning after Thanksgiving. I’m giggling silly in the aisles of Target and it is nearing 4 am. I’m not quite to the can’t-stop-giggling-no-way-in-hell-I’m-losing-my-place-in-line-to-run-to-the-bathroom stage, but given enough time, I could get there easily.

Snaking our way through the rest of the questionably sane humanity trying to save five bucks by waiting in line for hours, we have opened our box of pop tarts and are snacking. Three nearly grown kids and I are really buying stuff that is not such a great deal, but I refuse to do this and come back without a kill!

I ponder this ritual and can only assume it’s some primal connection to our prehistoric instinct to “hunt and gather”. As I observe, there are a few distinct types of post-Thanksgiving meal shoppers that emerge.

1. The Trophy Hunter – armed with lists, coupons and exact strategy to each stop, this shopper easily maneuvers the crowds with their eye on specific targets. The big prize. They know what they are after and with laser like focus remain fixed on the best kill. Be cautioned, trampling, shoving and camping may be involved.

2. The “If It Moves Shoot It” Hunter – driven merely by the idea of life-changing savings, this shopper wanders the aisles, flitting from end cap to end cap and throwing anything with a red sticker or sign into their cart. They are typically the ones that clip your heels with their cart as they drive without watching the road.

3. The Socialite – content with the “let’s bond with fourteen thousand of our closest friends” concept, these are the shoppers who try on every hat, cluelessly block the aisles to stop and visit with Susie from the gym and blissfully wander in their bubble, sharing gossip and Starbucks with their fellow warriors.

4. And finally, The Hunter Becomes the Hunted – seriously, at 1:30 in the morning with dozens of people in line, you choose now to do a return? Enough said.

So to all you successful shoppers out there, here’s to your finds and the good times on gathering them!

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Life

In Sickness and In Health

Today as I deplaned from over ten hours of airport travel at my final destination, I saw something so simple, but so beautiful, it almost made me cry.

A man in his fifties, maybe early sixties, bent down and kissed his wife tenderly on the cheek and then began pushing her in an airport issued wheelchair. The kind smile on his face and gentle touch said he was with the love of his life and proud of it. I imagined my sweet hubby and I in that position. He would be the same caring man that would love me no matter what. He is like that and I am so blessed.

I know that because the last couple of years tested us. I am proud to say we stood and are closer than ever. Hubby’s father became sick and was hospitalized for weeks that turned into months and on the eve of his discharge to rehab, he suffered a fall and passed the next morning. His family came and went through our home before, during, after. For weeks, we were the harbor for his entire family during one of their most painful times. We all grieved the loss. My own mother toyed a little closely with that this year as well. Weeks and weeks of uncertainty about the ones we love is heart wrenching at best; emotionally, physically and relationally taxing.

Add to this mix concerns for our own children, two totaled cars after accidents, stress and cuts and change at both of our jobs and the addition of the unknown for my health….it was nearly more than we could take. In many ways, it forced us to refocus on what was important. To simplify our focus was a survival tactic and it was all we could do to cope.

During the time, I was told that I may have MS. A scan of my brain had many white spots that indicate a degenerative disease and I would need to see a specialist. Problem was….it took nearly six months to see him and in the meantime the nagging thought of being a patient for my hubby to care for ate away at me….at him. It was the unspoken conversation in the glances. The fear hanging in the spaces of our conversations. I was scared and tried to be brave. I acted strong and felt as weak as I ever had. Worry ate at my heart. I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want to hold him back.

When we finally saw the specialist he told us I do have a lot of spots on my brain, many more than normal, but no other symptoms of MS. End of story. I wish I could tell you that I don’t think about it, but I would be lying. What am I supposed to look for? Do I come back? I bravely push those thoughts away and avoid them. Until today…they flooded over me again. But this time, a sweet peace settled just behind those thoughts. IF that ever were the case, my hubby would have leaned in to kiss me and treated me with dignity and kindness like this stranger. I am blessed indeed.

Life

So what’s so big about a bird in a tree?

I peeked out the front door to check on the new happy flower faces in my yard today and was startled by a robin who flew out from the peony bush just near the front porch.  She had a big juicy worm.  “Good for her,” I thought and went on my way.

Then later in the day, as I sat in the office working at the computer, the very same robin caught my eye.  It darted around our yard carrying another worm and ducked behind the low branches of our weeping cherry tree. “She must be quite hungry,” I thought as I observed her feathers a little messed and her strangely skinny body.  “She seems so thin,” I thought to myself and then quickly dismissed the bird.

As I sat near the window, something stirred.  What? Could it be?  Through a perfect little “window” in the branches,   Mama robin was feeding three little birds who opened in sync as soon as she entered.  We have a bird family in our tree!

Why is that such a big deal?  Because our home is just five years old this summer and all of the trees in our neighborhood are just getting strong enough to not bow under the weight of a simple robin.  The presence of this bird family somehow feels as if our yard is maturing and that this is where families belong.  It just completes something.

Welcome little birdies! Welcome mama robin!  We’re so proud to have you with us.

Come to think of it…she had the same ruffled and thin look as some of my dear friends who just had babies of their own!