Sunday, March 13, 2016
I'm writing this on a Sunday night. I have two twelve year olds in my Jacuzzi tub, living it up like they're at a spa and a four year old running around tooting because he's officially entered the Body-Functions-Are-Hilarious stage of childhood. We had a good, nicely paced weekend and it's that time of Sunday night where I think forward to the six days that lie ahead. The time changed last night and daylight just now disappeared after what seemed like many extra hours and we sat out on the deck and enjoyed the cool air and loved it all.
Tomorrow is Monday.
I don't want it to be just another Monday. No blahs, no icks, no yucks. I just don't want it to be that way. I don't want it to be a day of blues or humdrums. No gray. No bland flavors. No counting the hours until Tuesday. No spinning my wheels. No there-has-to-be-more-than this. No flat soda life day. I want the bubbles and carbonated butterflies in my tummy about life.
I want Monday to be neon. Like Cyndi Lauper meets Vanilla Ice meets black light skate night. I want it to be shiny and blinding. I want it to be one big infomercial for Bedazzle. Sequins and rhinestones. I want the feeling I feel when Man In the Mirror or Vogue comes on the radio. I want to turn the day up to eleven. I want wind in my not washed mom-hair and no stains on my tank top. I want a party in my heart. I want Monday 2.0.
It's a Monday I will never have again.
Never again will I wake up to the same small faces. Next Monday, they will be a little more mature looking. A little older. Bigger.
Never again will the exact questions they will ask me come out of their mouths. Next Monday, they'll know a little more and won't need those answers again.
Never again will I get the chance to kiss them in the exact moment of love that will wash over me because of their cuteness or their mischievousness or their fragility. Next Monday, I'll be captivated by something else about them and today's emotion will have been washed away and forgotten in the sea of six days that follow.
Never again will they need me quite this much. Never again will they want me this much.
Never again will I be tired for all the same reasons. Never again will I be this young. Nor will they.
Nor will our time together.
Next Monday, I will have scratched another week off my calendar, pushing them closer to being out my door and across the country from me. Sometimes, like when I walk across a sticky floor I just mopped or don't have a drop of hot water when I want to take a shower, this thought makes me gallop like a unicorn.
Tonight is not one of those nights.
I just want to make it count tomorrow. I want to immerse myself in the routine and the mundane because those are the moments when they're catching more than I am actually teaching. I want to have given myself to them through the sandwiches I make, the fights I diffuse, the laundry I wash, and the hurts I tend to. I want them to see Jesus in how I talk to people. I want them to recognize His nature in my demeanor and my zeal for the day. I want them to learn to wait like it's Christmas Eve for what He will do next because they saw expectancy for good in my every move, even on Mondays. But you know what? It's more than that.
I want to soak up Monday with my kids because I can.
I can touch them. Kiss them. Hold them. Laugh with them. Dance with them. Snuggle with them. Soak them up. Nibble on their ears and smell their cheeks. I can look in their eyes when they're talking to me and notice colors I haven't seen before. I can stare deeply at them and give myself a moment to be in awe of the fact that a few short years ago, my arms were empty. I can drop everything and play hide and go seek for ten minutes with them or demand we all stop and eat a bowl of ice cream right NOW. I can tell them to blow bubbles with their gum and then pop them on their faces. I can breathe them in. I can jump on the trampoline with them (after I put on an adult diaper because I pushed out said children and haven't jumped or sneezed without peeing a single time since). And at the end of all of it, I can tuck them in and sigh with relief that Monday was done well.
They are my Monday.
And because of that, I am going to put my feet on the floor tomorrow and choose to suck the life out of the day before it has the chance to suck the life out of me.
Welcome to Monday, Mommas. This one will come and go. Decide today to take a bite or two out of it. All these Mondays are flying by. A lifetime of Mondays.
Grab one and make it yours.
Monday, March 7, 2016
A smell can do it. Certain scents of pine and cookie and even an odd blend of the two.
Driving by a house at night with a light on inside it... if the curtains are the right color, they do it.
The smell of dinner cooking when the music for the evening news comes on. That does it, too.
There are a few things here and there that immediately take me back to my childhood in a second flat. I never know what the combination will be, but I can assure you that 99% of the time, the sensation makes my heart full, almost aching to go back to that second in time and be five or ten years old again.
I'm sure you'll agree with me that sometimes, in the day to day of mommying, there are seemingly months at a time where all we do is raise our voices or shout, "NO," or referee fights or dole out consequences for the heinous crimes of childhood. For me, a tough day sometimes turns into another tough day as my kids tag team on who's going to take the lead in the ever breathing game of Let's See What Else We Can Do To Change It Up a Little and it often feels like I have fallen into bed fifteen nights in a row frustrated. One particular day recently, I was having a heated and often repeated discussion with my twelve year old, and I distinctly remember thinking as I was in the heat of my monologue, "Is this all she is going to remember about her childhood?"
Such. A. Defeating. Thought.
As I stand in the kitchen in my two-days-not-washed yoga pants, my biggest fear is that all they'll remember is my hair was always a mess and I was perpetually irritated about the wet washcloths left in the bathtub. I fear that they'll look back on their childhood and think I was constantly irritated with them as people. I worry they will forever attach their mom with the memory of a raving lunatic holding a spatula and mumbling under her breath a language they can't decipher but know isn't a good thing. Or that they'll think I was too busy folding clothes or cleaning a toilet to sit down. I fear that they'll breathe a sigh of relief when they leave this house one day because they grew very tired of hearing me lecture about kindness and chores and following through with what we start. I fear so much that they'll look back at entire chunks of their childhood and think it was the worst childhood of all.
Because of me.
Will they only remember this? The stress of me working two jobs and writing a book while trying to give the best of me to them? Will they remember all the times I raised my voice unnecessarily because I was just so tired, I couldn't manufacture one more piece of kindness to give them? Will they sit on someone's therapy couch one day and recall time after time that I was too impatient when I needed them to get their shoes on quicker, or eat their dinner faster, or clean that mess up or stop the dadgum whining? Will they look back on their childhood and see me in shades of tan and gray instead of the iridescent colors I'll see when I look back at their perfect faces?
I can't stomach that thought.
Then I come back to what I know.
I know that my mom raised two very strong girls. We weren't the neatest, nor the quietest, and were definitely not the most considerate kids on the block. We made messes, created chaos, had temper fits, and talked back. We were as opposite as daylight and dark and both of us required something demanding and consuming from our mom. Knowing what I know now about being a mother, I see that she had her emotional, spiritual, and physical hands full. She had very little money to work with, having the budget of a pastor's wife. She had a high school education and was dedicated to being home with her girls while we were little. She was the class mom, the room mom, and the sports mom. We were her job, her hobby, and her very reason to pull every single one of her auburn hairs out of her head on a daily basis. Yet as I look back on my childhood, I remember the most amazing things.
I remember cookies.
I remember laughing until we hurt.
I remember lots of terrible singing.
I remember sitting in the kitchen to do my homework while she cooked, just to be in the room with her.
I remember the best bedtime stories on the planet.
I remember lying on my bed with her, getting the best advice about friends and boys and Jesus.
I remember homemade Halloween costumes and the best birthday cakes on earth with made-from-scratch icing every year.
I remember many heart to hearts as she brushed out my thick hair or braided it before bed so I would have waves the next morning.
I remember her greeting me at the door with excitement, asking all about which girl was mad at who since HE asked HER out and not the girl we thought he would pick.
I remember running home and into the kitchen to find her to tell her my one-day husband finally admitted he had feelings for me, even though he made me promise not to tell anyone just yet. I remember the happy dance she and I did together as we giggled like girlfriends and jumped up and down next to the sink.
I remember popsicles when I had a fever and sleeping in her bed when I had a cough. I remember comfy beds made on the couch during sick days and "whatever you want to watch" times when I was home with cramps.
I remember home cooked meals and tenderly packed lunches and Christmas mornings out of a storybook. I remember every single holiday being celebrated in grandiose fashion.
I remember so much love.
To hear my mom tell her side, she failed a million times. She raised her voice or got frazzled and lost her cool. She dropped balls and forgot things and even raised her overworked hand in anger a time or two. Oh sure, I remember some of the yucky stuff. But those moments are peppered around in a ocean of all that she did right. To be truthful, now that I am a mom, I get it... those moments of humanity that she felt. And in all honesty, those moments make me love her so much more because I know the kind of child I was and how many more moments of the worst of her I actually deserved compared to the best of her that I constantly got.
She chose me so many times.
She chose to be present in the moments that count.
That must be why I remember the things that count.
Mommas, you're choosing your kids way more often than you think you are. You're getting so much of it right. Give yourself a break. We were never asked nor expected to hit every piece of this on target. Childhood really is a big picture ballgame made up of little pieces of significance along the way. Where you're failing them and you know it, change. But as you're mapping out a winning plan, consider in the human factor. That's the spot where you give yourself a margin of mercy for your failings. That's the part that makes compassionate children over the long term. That's the part that takes into consideration the overwhelming heaviness of being the entire world to your children. It. Is. Just. So. Heavy. You're guaranteed to slip under the weight of that. And when you do-- when you find yourself standing in the kitchen wearing pajamas from two days ago while burning pancakes after you stepped in poop that you aren't sure belongs to which child or what animal and shouting at your children to stop yelling about shouting, I want you to remember three things.
1. What you do after this moment is what really counts.
2. They'll laugh when they tell this story one day.
3. So will you.
Go pour a cup and sip on some mercy.
You're doing just fine.