Monday, August 27, 2012

A Rainy Monday Kind of Blog.

I'm just sitting here, looking out my office window, at the ravaging storm called Isaac, which basically equals a rainy Monday. Walker is asleep right outside my door, and to be honest, I'm fighting the urge to crawl up into his crib with him, even though the sleep I got last night was not only sufficient, but it was deep.

Something about rainy days and Mondays.

I happen to like both. Always have. And when they coincide on the same plane, well-- that's just my kind of beginning to a week. I know, I know. I'm odd. And I know that plenty of you are loathing the fact that it's Monday, or that it's raining AND Monday if you live here in central Florida. Some of you are already dreading the next 8 hours or so of predicted downpours, while trying to come up with creative ways to keep three kids under the age of 4 happy without going outside. Some of you are exhausted from a weekend that didn't stop moving and are actually happy to go back to work this morning, but can't fight the nagging thought that it's just another day to do it all over again, and one day closer to another exhausting weekend.

It's okay.

Since rainy Mondays are daunting enough for most people, I thought I would write about the lighter side of motherhood this morning, and give us all a little permission to take a minute, sip on something in a cup without a straw or sippy lid, and realize that you're not alone.

Today, give yourself permission to...

...not feel badly for throwing away some of that refrigerator art. Or at least relocating it to an undisclosed location. And to think, "Oh yay! Just what I wanted-- a watercolor painting of a tree and our house that actually looks like my great Aunt Mary's dog's water bowl!"

...look back at your little ones' newborn pics and think, "Ew." And then silently thank God your little bundles got better looking with each passing month. After all. Are wet newborn ANYTHINGS really cute? Really?

...take a nap when you can. This includes, but is not limited to: red lights, their naps, their TV time, while you're on the phone with customer service, and in the car line at school. Everyone is buckled in and being held hostage. Get in line 15 minutes early and snooze.

...secretly love that your kids want the crusts cut off their sandwiches so you can eat them while you make lunch. your sister alot. She gets it. Especially if she's a mom. And speaking of sisters...

...hope your sister is also awake with HER baby at 4:00 am. If you're up, she should be too. (Sorry, Lori.)

...use the "Mommy needs to go to the bathroom" excuse for more than just using the bathroom. Feel free to read a chapter, make a phone call, or sit in a trance for a few minutes. Or seconds. Believe me-- if something noteworthy happens, like someone finds a paper clip, or the world's biggest booger-- you'll know it. You're in the bathroom. Which equals a flashing sign that says "APPROACH ME NOW".

...count the minutes until naptime and bedtime. All day. a tad bit jealous of your friends who don't have kids yet. They get to sleep whenever they want, use the bathroom when their body actually tells them to, eat food while it's still hot, and never have to plan an evening out around when they can get a babysitter. Go ahead and be jealous. Because any minute, your tater tot will do something to remind you why you made this decision to be a mom. And jealousy will vanish like helpers at chore time.

...worry a little about Max and Ruby's lack of parents. ice cream. Alone. Just because you can.

...feel your eye twitch a little after hearing, "Mom, LOOK" for the 43rd time in ten minutes. a little bit happy when you drop your child off at school in the morning, especially if you have more than one child and even if the remaining children are home with you all day. Less is more sometimes. And by the end of the school day, you'll be aching to see that sweet face walking to your car. *sigh*.

...pick a really big and yummy birthday cake for your child's first birthday. Because Lord knows you deserve whatever cake you want for mothering even a good baby for the first 12 months.

...make a commitment to not talk about the kids on date night. And then break the commitment.

...lay there for a few minutes when baby cries at night or in early morning. Of COURSE you aren't pretending you don't hear her... You're being optimistic and hoping she goes back to sleep. ;-)

...wonder how long those goldfish crackers that your child is eating have been in his carseat, but still not be concerned enough to reach back and take them.

...never having had implemented the "three second rule" with your second child. Or even a "five." Or a "ten."

...order your kid a 6 count nugget kids' meal and feel totally crushed when she eats all 6 because you were counting on the 2 leftovers as YOUR "lunch".

...make a run to Target like "that mom" that you swore you'd never leave the house like. You know- in sweat pants and a t-shirt, hair in a ponytail, no makeup, and kids wearing pajamas and holding sippy cups. Because Target has a Starbucks in it and that's the only hope you have right this second. And it's ok.

...want to punch people who say "Oh, he's growing up so fast" when talking about your newborn who is still doing the same three things over and over- crying, eating, and crying.

...have a pity party. Whenever you want. It's your party and you can cry if you want to.

...not have a shower until Daddy gets home, just in case one of the Banshees decides to close his brother into the refrigerator, empty the Desitin on the baby's head, or try his new-found scissoring skills on the dog. Again.

...count the months until kindergarten and then panic madstyle when your baby turns 4.

...wonder on a daily basis what you've gotten yourself into. your baby breathe while she sleeps. And she's 8. totally convinced that no mother has ever loved her child as much as you do yours. And no child has ever been more perfect.

...because you're right. ;*)

Happy Monday, Mommies.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ode to the First Day of School.

This morning, hundreds of moms across Lake County woke up a little earlier. We sleepily turned on our Keurigs, made breakfast (or something resembling it at least), and crept into quiet bedrooms for the first wake up call of the school year. Ain't gonna lie-- I was a little nostalgic this morning as I crawled into bed next to my third grader. I lingered a little longer than usual and smelled her cheek. I paid attention to how soft her skin feels on her neck as I breathed her in before I handed her over to the school system for another nine months. I looked at her hair, tangled and tousled from a good night's sleep and her blissful unawareness that yet again, her life will change from the very first day of this school year.

I remember so clearly her very first day of school in kindergarten. She had never been to preschool. I kept her with me every day I could until the big day arrived and I had no choice. I hardly slept the night before. My mind would not shut down! What if she falls and gets hurt? Who will pray for her in a public school? What if she can't open her water bottle? What if she gets made fun of? What if she suddenly feels afraid? What if her teacher is not as nice as we think she is? What if she needs me?

All day, I wondered what she was doing. I don't think I stopped praying all day long. At the end of the day, I swear I must have been 30 minutes early. I sat and stared at her classroom door. When the release announcement was made, I almost ran to her. But I stopped myself. I stood, composed on the outside, heart about to burst inside, as my kindergartener RAN to me and fell into my arms in a collapse of joyful relief. She talked non-stop about every kid in class, what they were wearing, what they ate, what they said, what they thought, what they did. The next words out of her mouth?

"Mom, hurry and get home. I didn't pee all day. I couldn't get my belt off, so I just held it."


My heart broke. My tiny tot sat all day, needing to potty and didn't have the nerve to ask her teacher for help. She held her pee for 7 whole hours.

I wanted to BAWL.

You better believe, from that moment on, I thought of everything. I made sure there was extra underwear in her backpack. I made sure her water bottles were unscrewed enough for her to open them easily. I double checked her clothes were buttoned right, her shoes were velcroed just the way she liked them, and her ponytail was looped three times, tight like she prefers. I prepared for everything. Until I realized one day...

We weren't really prepared for anything.

Like the first time she fell and no one prayed for her. Like when a boy in her class called her a demon and broke her tiny heart. Like when a teacher (not hers, but one who was in charge at the moment) called her a troublemaker and humiliated her in front of her friends. (She said, "I didn't know what to do so I just stared at my shoes until everyone looked away). Like when she herself called a child stupid. (God help me). Like when she was burning up with a fever of 102 and having chills when I walked into the office to fetch her.

In His mercy and gentleness, God has taught me a few things about the control-freak tendencies we possess as mothers. Can I pass them on to you?

We are only stewards of His greatest prizes. We love them as much as is humanly possible, yes. We lay down our lives, yes. We would eat styrofoam peanuts in order to give them filet mignon, yes. But on our very best days, we are merely corralling them for HIM. HE is the One that loves them with an everlasting love. HE is the One that laid His life down-- literally laid it down-- to save theirs. We intend to. He DID.

And if He laid down His life, He surely loves them most. For that fact alone, rest easily.

Their hearts will get broken. Deal with that fact as soon as possible, and move on with your life. Take each blow as it comes-- because there's WAY more victories in this life than heartache. Don't anticipate the pain, but expect it. Because it WILL happen.

Controlling their every move, is setting them up for great failure. When your child is old enough, have HER talk to the doctor about what's wrong. Have HER order her meal at a restaurant. Have HER introduce herself to new people. When it's fundraising time, have HER make the awkward phone calls to relatives. You're a parent. Not a gopher, spokesperson, or advocate. Ok-- you are sometimes. Which brings me to my next point...

We have to be their eyes and ears, and we MUST rely on the Holy Spirit's wisdom. Know when to step in! A child left on his own decision making abilities at any age produces a spoiled, entitled, and ungrateful human being. But micromanaging a child is basically emotional paralysis. We have to let them fall sometimes. We have to take our hands off and walk away because it's too painful to watch sometimes. And sometimes, we have to put on our butt-kicking shoes and clean someone's clock for hurting our child. Ask God to show you when each is appropriate.

Never, ever underestimate a good night's sleep.

Choose a confession and speak it DAILY (or more) over your child. Abi's is "You're smart, safe, healthy, kind, and obedient." We say it Every. Single. Day.

Get involved on their campus. Obviously, this will look differently if your child is in kindergarten versus when he is in middle school. But the point is, make it a goal to know the office staff. Take them donuts and coffee occasionally. Send the teacher a Monster energy drink. Make a point to have lunch with your child at least once a month, EVEN IF SHE'S IN HIGH SCHOOL. And don't say you don't have time. Because you do. This is their world for nine months. Become a part of it.

Talk to them EVERY DAY. And not just about homework. But about who has a crush on who, who wore the same color shirt as them, and which kid had the grossest lunch. If you need conversation starters, hit me up on here or on Facebook and I'll set you up! Talk, talk, talk, talk to your child. All the time. Until your ears hurt. Because these little things you don't care about that they choose to talk to you about will one day turn into life-altering conversations that they won't want to discuss if you weren't willing to talk about Barbies, Legos, and the kid who smells like cardboard in their class.

Be prepared for this never to get easier. It's just a fact. It just means we will continually need Him. Always.

All weekend, Abi had said she didn't want me to walk her to class on the first day. Of course, I said TOUGH, and walked her in anyway. She was confident and sure as we walked through the campus toward her room. She made sure I wouldn't do this again tomorrow. I agreed. We got to the door handle. Abi says, "Mom, please don't leave me." I swallow. We open the door and find her desk. My little girl who acted 15 last night, trying on my makeup, wearing high heels, and dancing to Kidz Bop suddenly looked 5 and like it was her first day of kindergarten again. I get her all settled, thank her teacher, and walk out. I stood on the sidewalk for a few minutes, watching my heart look around and take in her new home for the next nine months. She sat, quiet and shy- a vast departure from her normal bubbly nature. After a few minutes, the boy across from her broke the ice. And she spoke back. She turned toward the window, until that moment unaware I had been peeking in. I gave her a thumbs up. She gave me a thumbs up back. And I walked down the sidewalk and back to my van.

It may not get easier. But it sure gets better.

Monday, August 6, 2012

My Cashie.

I believe in the written word. I believe that spoken compliments and words of affirmation are super important for the ear to hear, but that the most faded ink is longer lasting and more cherished than the sharpest memory. See, over time, words fade in our consciousness and we forget the tones and enunciations that made the spoken word so impacting at the moment of its utterance. I'm not at ALL taking away from the fact that we should speak words of love from our mouths to the ears of our loved ones. But I am trying to fortify the fact that if written, words will never lose their power.

I think this is especially true when it comes to our children. Telling them daily that we love them is paramount to their development. However, there's day to day stuff that we tell them and they forget. Things we would like to capture for them to last a lifetime. Things that we want to freeze in time and seal away for them to enjoy when their maturity allows it.

I have a brand new nephew. My only sister, only sibling- gave birth to her second son last Monday. He is perfect. And he is mine. My sister and I have both an unspoken and a spoken "thing" that what's mine is hers and what's hers is mine. We share it all- from our deepest thoughts to our giggly children. When her first son, Legend, was born, I felt like a new part of me had begun. And as we add to our brood (me another baby in February, and hers last week), the love I feel for our kids intensifies. I've written each baby a letter. So, Cash Lincoln-- this one's for you.

Dear Cash,
Today, you are seven days old. This means you have experienced seven bedtimes, seven sunrises, seven 24 hour periods where your parents try to figure out what to do with your newness, and seven mornings now where I've awaken with you on my mind. You're super tiny, still. Your eyes are open alot- you slowly study the world around you in bite sized chunks while you nurse or while someone new cuddles you and rubs your face. We're still pretty picky about who all gets to love on you. You're defenseless and small. But, I can see there's a giant of a man inside you who is waiting to come out.

You are joining two sides of your family who love you as much as the air we breathe. Four grandparents who think you fell off of the throne of God itself. Aunts and uncles who have made it our life's mission to make sure you get the candy you want, and lots of sleepovers with movies, forts, and popcorn. A brother who will get you into more messes than you can count, but who will be your closest friend until eternity. And two cousins who think you were created just for their enjoyment. But really, this is about your Mom and Dad. I know it's hard to tell who's who in this bunch of people who love you. So let me make it a little easier for you and give you the break down.

They're the ones who love you most.

They're the ones who will sit up at night with you until you learn to sleep like a big boy. They're the ones who are responsible to make sure you are fed, changed, somewhat clean, and rested. They will be the ones who say "no" the most, and who will make you madder than you thought it was humanly possible to be. They'll worry if you come home too late, your temperature runs too high, or you don't eat enough at dinner. They're the ones who will drive 45 minutes to get you the pair of shoes you're wanting and watch their least favorite movie every day when you become obsessed with it. They'll teach you things like how to make your bed and how to play the guitar. They'll show you that a gentleman opens the door for all girls and women, even your annoying big cousin Abi. You'll learn from them how to mow the grass, how to walk your dog, and how to change a tire. You'll also "catch" alot of things from them- like how to be affectionate to your wife, how to pray, what it means to be appreciative, and how to look someone in the eye when you're talking to them.

Your mom worked really, reallllllly hard to get you here. But like the other boys born before you in this family, you had to switch things up and keep it interesting. Silly boy-- your head was facing the wrong direction and you were just too cozy to come out and play. When you finally came out, it seemed your daddy would burst with joy. It was a rainy day and everyone, especially your mom, was so very tired from waiting all night for your arrival. But when you came out, there was a special sunshine placed just in our room. Your tininess filled the space around you. It was almost like you were a dream. You're the 4th grandbaby on your mom's side of the family. But don't worry, Little One... you were celebrated just like you were the only one. We counted your fingers and toes, memorized your eyelashes, and smelled your sweet face over and over again that day, and the six days after up until now.

Every thing about you matters. Your feelings, your thoughts. The dreams you will have, the fears you'll face... All of it is part of your story and part of making you into the person you'll become. There will be days when you'll feel like you aren't important. Days when you'll be angry that Legend may be faster than you or Walker is bigger than you- but in those days, my prayer is that you'll be reminded of how very special you are, exactly like you are.

I know you're new here. Literally hours ago you were tucked inside a secret place that only your mommy could provide for you. But you have alot to learn- alot to experience. It's too much to say in one letter, but I think there's some things you need to know.

Life is good. It really, really is. There will be days when it seems like it's not. But those days will only serve as reminders that good days come next. And good far outweighs the bad in everything.

There's always something to celebrate. Birthdays are once a year. Unfortunately, so is Christmas. But there's 363 other days that are great to celebrate, too. Like making it through a whole day without sitting in time out. Or making a smiley face on your alphabet paper. Or making the team. Or that girl finally noticing that you exist. Celebrate big time. Because we celebrate YOU. You are a very worthy celebration.

Sometimes, people are just mean. In fact, they can be really sucky. Grouchy. Rude. And hateful. Not everyone will love you. Or even like you. But those people have boo-boos on their hearts. So be kind to them. Because they'll need you.

People are also very good. There are people who will help you, believe in you, trust you, and support you for your whole life. When you pass someone on the street, smile at them. They may be your future boss, or someone who just deserves one of your precious smiles.

You'll want to quit. Alot. Whether it's football and you can't take the burn in your legs anymore, or guitar practice and your fingers bleed-- you'll reach a point in your life when you're ready to throw the towel in. Remember that you won't become great at your craft without the burn. Push. It's worth it.

Some risks are worth taking. Not stupid ones, you little booger... Not like "Can we beat this train" risks. I'm talking about the "believing in yourself" kinds of risks. You're smarter than you think you are. And if someone has ever done it, so can you. And if they haven't ever done it, remember that someone has to be the first one. It might as well be you.

Sometimes, life just isn't fair. Someone will get credit for your idea. Someone will get the award you deserved. Someone will get a bigger piece of cake than you. That's just the way it is. Decide as early as you can to be okay with that.

Your brother, your cousin, and you will get in alot of trouble through your lives. But, you guys have parents who are looking out for you, watching most of your moves, and relying on the One who loves you most to give us a heads up for your stupidty. We will spy on you, listen to your phone conversations, check your text messages, and show up when you least expect it. And we will not apologize for it, ever. So, get over it.

You're going to think it's funny to throw lizards at Gia. Don't. Do. It. Trust me.

No one loves you more than God does. No one. And you may be able to spill cherry Kool-Aid on your mom's carpet and destroy it. You may be able to break a window with a baseball. You may find 100 ways to wreck a clean house in 30 minutes or less. You can even scuff up and ruin your new shoes in one day. But you will never, ever, ever mess up how incredibly much the Maker of life is in love with you, little boy. Not when you're 6 or 96.

Really, that's all you need to know.

I love you, Cash Lincoln Adgate. I always will.

Love, Bug.