Mr. Curious and Tampax Flight 309

Fireworks Boy

Okay, so tonight was weird. Well, actually it was NORMAL for Mr. Curious, a certain creative genius who resides at our house who has yet to be discovered for the beautiful mind that he is.

Here’s how it all went down: I made fish and parmesan couscous for dinner. The couscous was the only carb I could find since my health-conscious, vegetables-to-the-max daughter returned from overseas and eradicated all traces of sugar, wheat, flour, pasta, and various other delicious things faster than Napalm gives you a sunburn.   We had watermelon and pineapple as our sides and greenbeans and a vegetable medley.   My 8 year old son was stalling this culinary experience by saying he “had to go to the bathroom.”

Translation: Anything could be happening up there.

As my husband and I finished the last of our quiet dinner, I heard him tromp down the stairs as he exclaimed, “MOM!!! Look what I found in (name withheld of specific sister’s) bathroom!!!”

The usual precursory worry looks were exchanged by my husband and me. She’s of legal age, so I figured it could be anything, and at this point in life, really nothing would shock me, except that it did.

“LOOK! What is this?!?!?!?!” Mr. Curious demanded.

And that’s when we saw the item in question. It was a TAMPON. Yes! A tampon!

Only recently did I finally have “the talk” with Mr. Curious. That’s because he learned some colorful words on the bus and started using them not knowing what he was talking about. Sigh. That’s another story. But even though we had “the talk”, it was not accompanied by visuals detailing just how different women are and why. I had not specifically gone over the chapter of “things necessary to being female” yet. And since Mr. Curious lives in our house, generally we keep things of a private nature secure, like guarding the gold at Fort Knox.

“HOLD UP A MINUTE! PLEASE TELL ME YOU DIDN’T GET THAT OUT OF THE TRASH CAN!” I shrieked as my husband started laughing and then I did too.

Thank heavens, it was how can I say this delicately, still in mint condition. Again–thankfully!!

“Can we light it and launch it Dad?” pleaded Mr. Curious as he pulled out a box of camping matches he already had in the other hand.

“Well, we could son, but it won’t really go anywhere, because it doesn’t have any gunpowder in it.”

And that’s when it hit me! Why didn’t I think of that? Why am I not the one who invented the Rocket Tampon? That way when I’m really ticked off and PMSing super bad, I can make my feelings be known at an even faster, much more efficient rate of speed. Say 500 wpm as opposed to 120 wpm.

Perhaps we could obtain world peace once and for all if we fired rocket tampons instead of bullets! It’s the rare courageous man who can actually purchase a box of said cellophane-wrapped cotton rockets for the women in their lives. Can you imagine how quick our nation’s enemies would retreat if under fire by thousands of these little boogers? With the proper Iron Lady in charge, perhaps we actually could see peace in our time.

As my mind contemplated these things, my son made his 5th request, “Come on, let’s go LIGHT it!” It didn’t matter that we told him it would not launch; he remained undeterred. He had to see for himself.

“Someday, he’s going to burn this house down,” my husband said matter of factly, “he has that urge to burn things.”

“It’s possible,” I said. I thought of the story he told me of when he was a kid and and burned most of his neighbor’s front yard playing with gasoline and matches and realized genetically the nut really doesn’t fall all that far from the tree.

I thought of how every time we go camping with the our scouting den, most of the boys simply can not resist testing all of nature’s elements in fire, figuring out which items burn slowly, which burn quickly, which crackle, which cause sparks, and most blissfully: items acknowledged as things that could be truly dangerous, warranting a parental intervention in order to preserve the woods for the next group of campers.

Playing with fire. It’s a universal boyhood desire of curiosity, that we adults are often quick to extinguish.

“Quick! It’s time to watch the Grand Finale!” our pyrogynotechnician informed us beside a micro pile of spent match sticks.

In the end, Mr. Curious’s plastic coated cotton rocket launch of Tampax Flight 309 could only be qualified as a 100% failure by NASA standards. But that doesn’t mean science did not happen tonight. It did. (Cotton turns black when burned, but is not a good source of fuel. Plastic melts. ) But something bigger happened as well.

We all laughed. We hypothesized and made observations. The cats and the dog joined in on the deck, totally unaware of what strange people they’ve had the unique fortune of being adopted by. And out in space, perhaps the man in the moon may be looking down at a little boy on our deck under a warm July sky with crickets chirping in the back yard and see the possibility of the next astronaut.

 

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Princess of Grace

karolina kotkiewicz

PHOTO CREDIT:  KAROLINA KOTKIEWICZ

So maybe I wasn’t born into the Royal Family and beseeched with adoring Brits and Royal watchers the world over tracking my every hiccup, pimple, gaff, dress of the day, pound gained or lost, and event attended by infinite mobs of paparazzi with camera lenses the length of yardsticks.  I’ve never had women faint or men swoon and lay down their coat for my dry clean feet to tread, simply because of my existence.

I’ve never been deserving of security detail, a personal hairdresser, chef, or secretary to manage my job of social engagements and charitable work, though I would love to have the latter three just for kicks!

When I was pregnant with each of my own brood of three children, the world didn’t stop spinning if I woke up hugging the royal porcelain throne.  I certainly wasn’t given a diagnosis with as many syllables as Princess Kate has been given.  No, I was simply told, “It’s normal; now go eat a cracker.”

Yes, it’s not always easy being a mere serf to servitude and simplicity, complex array of daily chaos.   It’s challenging indeed.  There are no minions to blame.  There is no staff to assist.   There is only my individual blood, sweat, tears, and frequent sleeplessness that accompanies the challenge of trying to do it all: work a day job, raise kids, assist parents, volunteer at church and school, clean house, laundry, attend and reply to endless paperwork, pay bills, feed pets, chauffer children to school and activities, help with homework, find time to play, oh and breathe!

The real challenge is trying to find the essential time known as “Liz Time.”  Yes, these are the precious hours necessary to rejuvenate my own soul: writing, photography, my beloved bible study group, or trying to catch up with good friends.

Living life outside the palace is messy.  We sorely lack a protocol of propriety.  It’s not always structured and it’s rarely consistent.  Yes, high drama occasionally exists outside the drawbridge but doesn’t make the press (thankfully)!  There is no portcullis at our home’s entrance to shield us from the dangers of the outside world.  We have no moat to slow down the uninvited guest or Royal Guard to interrogate and arrest the annoying solicitors who all come at inopportune times.  Ready or not, our house is always open.

But before you grab a monogrammed hanky and cry for me Argentina, hold your horses.  I am grateful for my commoner status.  Above all, I am grateful that I don’t live inside a fishbowl where perfection is the water one must constantly swim in.  For I know this much is true:  I would drown.  Quickly.

See I have evolved over the years.  I have reframed my thinking.  I am not a slave to my family or even to forces outside my control.  I am indeed a princess of three things:

     A Princess of Procrastination:   Ask any accomplished, or worse, struggling (aka “wannabe”) artist, writer, painter, visionary (okay…I’ll stop there) and they will tell you this:  You sometimes must procrastinate regarding your duties of life in order to nurture your high calling, even if at this moment it is perceived only by you.   For who knows the plans God has for you?   Perhaps, you were born for such a time as time as this.  Translation: To respond to intuition and to occasionally shirk what others perceive as duty.  Wisdom whispers quietly sometimes.

     A Princess of Prognostication:  Yes, because the winds of perpetual change often blow in and out of our home, it sometimes feels as if our so-called fortunes can only be predetermined by the accuracy of my prognostications.  That is to say, if I freak out better and more efficiently, you will get off your butt and see the urgency this particular situation requires and quickly get on board!  Indeed! A prophet in her own household is rarely met with honor.  So be it.   My predictions, assessments, and royal decrees march onward, until even I am reminded of a simple truth:   Submit.  Pray.   You are not in charge.  Even though you sometimes act as if you are. 

     A Princess of Peripatetic ProportionsNothing lasts forever.  This too shall pass.  Wanderlust.   The world is so beautiful.

These thoughts comfortably coexist in my brain.   Life is sometimes challenging on the home front, but it’s equally good as challenges not only make us stronger; they reveal who we truly are.

In the midst of trial, I’ve been known to contemplate what life is like outside my kingdom.  What is happening at this moment under the Eiffel Tower?  Does the Taj Mahal have a five o’clock shadow?  Is a child crying for her mother in Halong Bay?  Will the Asteroid belt continue holding up around us?  Who is hurting near me?  Can I help?

I realize life is indeed good.  Blessed, in fact.  This is not of my making, but of God’s.  He has given me life, health, and a family to be grateful for and good things too numerous to count.  He has given me tears to assist with trials and a trust to deal with life on life’s terms:  a temporary assignment.    Because I don’t have to be entirely responsible for generating my own strength or controlling outcome, I am immensely grateful.

I am a princess indeed.  A princess of grace.  Thank you.  Thank you very much!

Don’t Get Caught By the Eyeball Police!

Photo Credit: Lambert Hulton Archives/guardian.co.uk

      That’s because in our house Little Brother is watching you!  Yes, he roams the kitchen table like a roaring lion waiting and watching for a disobedient dinner patron to commit this most dreadful of sins:

Praying with your eyes OPEN!

If there was a word that described the pace and structure of our house, it would be this:  HAPHAZARD.   So on the nights I cook dinner, if I’m not utterly exhausted, and if I happen to muster up the energy to clear off random acts of homework, unfinished Lego kits, half-sorted piles of junk and legitimate mail, and other miscellaneous objects from our kitchen table in order to have a “family dinner”, then I usually insist that we say a blessing.

It’s only fitting that we should ask God to bless our food for the nourishment of our bodies and oh did I mention the “hands that lovingly prepared it”?  Anyway, my six year old son still prefers the standard:

God is Great

God is Good

Let us thank Him for our food

By his hands we all are fed

Thank you God for daily bread

 

Sometimes I throw in a quick extra request before everyone can shout Amen and start digging in.  I’ll wiggle a sentence or two sideways in that brief interval before the first mouth utters first syllable “A” and mutter something about a world event, “and Lord, please bless our soldiers who are digging in and trying to stay safe from enemy fire” or “please bless the starving children in Africa.”   Or I may say, “Please bless our daughter as she travels out of town this weekend.”     The point is I try.

Prayer is important.  It’s important to me.  But generally my family just wants to eat, if there are actually full plates sitting before them.  The “please bless and save the world” prayers are preferred at bedtime, not meals.    See my son likes the prayers, but what he really likes is to be the enforcer and check the table for any wandering eyeballs that happen to reveal themselves behind lids that should be closed.

“(Sinful person name)’s eyes were open!”  he gleefully proclaims if anyone opens their eye at any point during the prayer before Amen is stated.

He should be a lawyer I think.  He expects obedience to “the law.”  No mercy is granted, and if my son was sheriff, you would be flogged in the public square for not adhering to the Eyes Remain Shut regulation of mealtime prayers.

I sometimes sigh and wish our grace at meals were more full of….well, grace!  Less legalism, more words full of thanksgiving and grace and Godly requests for others.    I want prayer to be our habit of love, not our obligation to following a rule.

I believe that is how Jesus wants us to come to him…with thankful hearts, with prayer and petition making our requests made known.  And then the peace that surpasses human understanding will guard our hearts and mind in Christ Jesus.

That’s the idea anyway.  It’s just that sometimes that’s when the cat jumps up on the table.  The solicitor phone call rings.  Ding Dong goes the doorbell.  The forgotten oven timer finally sounds reminding us that the food I prematurely took out is now ready.  Prayers are started and quickly interrupted.  Eyes open and my son is taking names and calling them out.

We live in a busy world and when did it get so hard to just make a family meal happen?  You know; the table is cleared and set, steaming hot healthy food waits to be ladled onto shiny white plates, iced drinks await to be sipped, napkins are in laps, prayers are said, and Dad is ready to slice the meatloaf.  Sweet children patiently await the food to be served.  Then we’ll all talk about our glorious day and how blessed we are.

OK, scratch the record at this point.  Still as moms we try, and dads too!  Interruption is our standard and peace seems to be our exception, but still we press on with endurance to have a family meal, complete with meaningful prayer and good food that we are indeed thankful for.

As for me and my household?  Well, we all try to keep our eyes shut as long as possible.  Never mind the plank that frequently juts out from them, we just don’t feel like getting a verbal citation from the Eyeball Police.

A QUICK prayer for your family dinner: 

Lord Jesus, please bless the mother’s hands today who tried her darndest to lovingly prepare a family meal after a full day of work and responsibilities, for kids who are not perfectly behaved or quiet, and a husband who doesn’t make it home on time because he works so hard.  Bless the solicitor who calls because they’re just arriving at their second job because times are tight, and the cat who reminds us he’d like to eat too, if it wouldn’t be too much of a bother, and the little Cub Scout who just happened to sell popcorn at an inopportune time to raise money for his troop.  Bless our over-scheduled lives and our sometimes under-nourished souls.  May we remember that even when we don’t give You the praise for our dinner and even more so for our lives, that You are still watching over us, blessing us, and in control.    We thank you for not only the food that nourishes our bodies, but for You who feeds our spirit and nourishes our life.  Help order our time so that we may enjoy eating as a family and with minimal distraction and drama.  And Lord, please keep us safe from the Eyeball Police!  Amen!

PS – I’ve made this meatloaf and it’s really good. Especially the bacon topper! It’s essentially the same as my mother in law’s recipe, but I was too lazy too type it, so I pulled this from About.Com

1950s Meatloaf Recipe:

  • 1-1/2 pounds ground beef (chuck is best)
  • 1/2 pound ground pork sausage (seasoned or not)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup fine bread crumbs
  • 1 to 2 large cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1 cup diced sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper (sweet capsicum)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 package dry onion soup mix
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste, divided use
  • 2 to 4 strips bacon, cut in half (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine ground beef, pork sausage, eggs, bread crumbs, garlic, sweet onion, bell pepper, oregano, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, onion soup mix, milk, and half of the tomato paste. Gently mix only until combined. Do not overwork the meat or it will become tough. Form into a loaf. Cover with the remaining half can of tomato paste. Weave the bacon strips over the top.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let meatloaf rest 15 minutes before cutting to serve.

Yield: 8 servings

1950’s-style Meatloaf Recipe Photo © 2010 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Dipsy and Doodle and Lil’ Officer Storm the Beach

God really blessed me the day he introduced me to my friend Andrea eight years ago.  I had just taken her prior job as a teacher assistant in Special Education.   She had moved up to a living wage job in a hospital and I was just crazy enough to accept the challenge of her former position.  Some days were hard; the difficulties these kids faced were incredible, but we both loved the job very much.  More than that, we became friends as we compared anecdotal stories about working with special-needs kids.    What bonded us immediately was our humor.  Because if you couldn’t laugh at yourself, you would not survive a job and the heartache of an entirely different world of kids that often made you want to cry.

I only lasted a year since I was suddenly with child at age forty!  Before you say woops, let me just say I’ve always been a non-conformist and leave it at that.  After my little guy was born, she was one of the first friends to come visit.  Up to then, we had only been friends in a professional setting, comparing notes and laughs that only people who work in Special Ed can understand.

We have an easy breezy way with one another.  Mostly it’s because we both passed forty a while ago, we both have three kids (both having two sons and a daughter), we both like to work out at the gym together despite our futility to “get ripped”.  About the only thing we ever ripped together was coupons from Sunday’s paper, but I digress.  We know we need to turn up the intensity of our workouts, but frankly that would be the buzz kill of our conversation time.  So we just maintain the status quo of our walkie-talkie relationship.

We are blonded together in both bottle and spirit.  Both of us are pretty awesome at not fixing what ain’t broken!  In fact, generally, we don’t give a seashell about things that are.  We’re both known for saying, “Pfftttt, who cares?!”

Together we are lazy and we laugh.  Between the two of us, we possess over one hundred years’ worth of wisdom!!    We both passionately love theater.  We both are willing to work triple over-time to see the  great Broadway plays that come to NC a few times a year.  Well, she is.  She works about 70 hours for each of my 30.  She is one busy worker bee!  And there’s this:

We always say that put together, we are the equivalent of one perfectly self-actualized, fully functioning adult brain.

      Here’s the thing:  We both have a lot, and I mean a WHOLE LOT, of what we refer to as “Dipsy Doodle” moments.    These are the opposite of Oprah’s “Aha” moments and more closely resemble the Three Stooges.  “Where in the world did I put my keys?  Did you take my keys?  Oh great, now I can’t find my wallet.  Hold the elevator.  Just a sec; let me run inside and pee!  Do you want me to grab you a soder on the way out?”     Too bad for the family of six who are all dripping sand and water and are anxious to get up to their hotel room.  They will just have to wait a second already!

See my girl Andrea is from Queens, and I’m a Taurus, and she’s nearly one (she missed the cut off by minutes I swear!) so we have this way of making things work out, well…..perfectly.

That’s because we both are barely bossy, yet easily pleased and generally happy.  If our hotel doesn’t have cockroaches or bedbugs, we are more than satisfied.  The important thing is did we get the cheapest one?  Like Trump, it’s all about the art of the deal in our mind.    We know the real secret of a good beach vacation:  Go south, get a cheap hotel with a kitchen and park super close to the beach.

Easy beach access and cooking in the room is great, but our favorite part is when the other guests are SO DANG interesting.      This weekend I told her we were blessed to be staying in what could only be deemed as Redneck Paradise.  It was People Magazine Polar Opposite in the flesh on steroids!  I don’t mean that as a slam; I was just so excited to be surrounded by so many people I hope to include in a future great literary work of fiction.   Real life often reveals people and characters begging to be described that you couldn’t normally even dream of when trying to write fiction.

We saw someone I will call Pete the Pirate, or perhaps Pete the former Navy Seal with his super model girlfriend.  He impressed me on many levels, foremost his sheer comfortableness of removing his prosthetic leg and absolutely loving an ocean adventure!   He had super long jet black hair that whipped his face furiously as he crawled into a very windy and wild surf.    He pulled his personal Christie Brinkley look-a-like into the water where they took turns laughing and groping and majestically kissing one another and splashing in the waves.  It was like watching a dark-haired Fabio come to life in the ocean.  It made me wish I had a camera until I realized that would be tad bit purvey.  When the Pirate and Christie weren’t frolicking in the ocean, they were donning leather chaps sans helmets (it’s SC y’all) and getting ready to ride their Harleys.   It was what can only be described as his intensity and zest for life that made me observe more astutely than normal.

My little boy was quick to point out to a group of foreigners on our elevator that there was a certain smell coming out of their kitchen on our floor.  He also told two wrinkled twin grandmothers in the hotel hot tub that our room was destroyed, utterly destroyed when he was sitting just a few feet out of my hearing range.  I leaned over to Andrea and said, “I better go get him.  He’s probably spilling family secrets.”

Two second later:  The kindly grandmothers let me know, “He’s spilling all your secrets!  He said your room is a HUGE mess!”  Well that was a slight exaggeration, but still as is his custom and ours, he made an impression.  Later, when several grownups decided to take a dip in the tub, he was speedy quick to remind them that sessions are only to be fifteen minutes and they are not to drink ALCOHOL.  He knew that because he could read the signs.  Well then–it’s comforting that we have a six year old officer to maintain order and control!

Yes for forty eight hours, we laughed ourselves silly!  I read an old cheesy beach romance novel  in one morning and lamented the success of its writer who made the NY Times Bestseller’s List–multiple times!!  The entire book was built on sentences only a first grader could write!  We observed that Michelle Obama may possibly have a point in the fact that some people really can’t control their eating or their frequent German lover on the side–Hagan Daaz!    We rejoiced in the fact that we were the “skinny” moms on the beach—well, mostly.  Except for the occasional super model (translation: everyone UNDER age 30).   We laughed about our husbands who weren’t there to defend themselves, but reminded ourselves how thankful we are too.  We talked about dumb things we did in high school and rejoiced in the fact that is not who we are now.  We shared the burdens of being a mom and a wife and a worker, while accepting the realities of aging—being sandwiched somewhere in the middle of anxiety and grace, health concerns ranging from birth to death, aging parents, and children who’ve been known to cause a gray hair or two, and thereby justifying our blonde habit.

We played in the ocean and watched my son like a hawk in the stormy sea.  The caution flag flew the whole time and my back never touched the sand.  My little boy who is scared to fall asleep alone is absolutely fearless in the pounding waves.

       By the end of our short stay, my son newly empowered by taking on the force of the ocean, took his life jacket off and finally got the hang of swimming on his own in the pool.  What an accomplishment!  I’ve waited five summers for this day to arrive!

Our first night we went out for delicious Italian food at Travinia’s.  Later we eavesdropped on a group of French high school kids singing rap songs that sounded weirdly elegant, snobby even, as we ate ice cream outside the theater.  We saw dozens of smiling Batman and Joker imitators and one person dressed up, strangely enough, as a bottle of Mustard.  After words, during another Dipsy Doodle moment, okay make it twenty, we walked around aimlessly because we had temporarily misplaced my mini-van.   The next day we mourned when we heard about what happened in Colorado.  Our trip concluded with what had to have been a 5000 calorie buffet at Mammy’s Kitchen, where yet again, we almost were the skinny ones.

The beach trip went by in a blur.   We talked and laughed so much!  Sometimes we were quiet and just read.  We built sandcastles, jumped waves, and played in the water.  We made and ate good food.  We drank juice-box style Pina Coladas in the evenings.   We celebrated that though life is hard, it is also very good, if you are willing to appreciate the smallest of victories, kind deeds by others, and sheer beauty God puts before us every second of every day!

It doesn’t take money or an itinerary or an agenda to have a great vacation or be a great friend.  It just takes time—time enough to laugh, share, reminisce, pray, and love.    Laugh about yesterday, treasure today, and pray and hope for tomorrow.

    For Andrea—my friend with a GREAT heart!

All Aboard The Care-of-Self!!

Having a two-year old is like having a blender that you don’t have the top for. — Jerry Seinfield

There’s a certain word my son just can’t seem to say.  All kids go through this phase when they are toddlers and learning to speak. Generally,  by fix or six, they have mastered the pronunciation of most words they know.    But one word, my son never bothers to correct, even though I have told him the correct way to say it, is:  CAROUSEL!

He has always insisted it’s called The Care-of –Self.   Which knowing him and his sweet personality, it fits.

When he was a baby, much to my sometimes horror, he would lovingly pat any woman who held him, in the chest—top, dead, center as it is known in mechanical terms.   As a toddler he called these lovely items:  Mashers.  I noticed from the time he could speak, whenever he didn’t know a word; he just gave an item a word that seemed to fit.

Certainly mashers fit the name of someone prone to his proclivity, as well as the aforementioned item being squashed by small hands.   I used to warn moms, grand moms, and even young teenage girls, if they were to pick him up, “If you’ve got them, he’ll get them!”  Thankfully, he’s outgrown this innocent toddler behavior—well hopefully until at least the late teen years.

I wish I remembered more of this early vocabulary he created.  At five, he first became aware that people die and ultimately are buried in cemeteries.   So whenever we’d pass a cemetery in the car, he’d say, “Look Mom, there’s a ghost hive!”  On Mother’s Day, he always wishes me “Happy Saint Mother’s Day!”

One of the funniest words I recall was about a time he had used the bathroom and unfortunately the toilet clogged and ran over.  “Mom!  HELP!”  I came running as fast as I could.  He was tearing up and said, “Help!!  There’s “toilet juice” all over the floor!   It’s disgusting!”   Indeed it was, but I couldn’t help but chuckle at his description.

Another time, even though he was already five, he pointed at a robin scampering across our yard.   Strange little creatures, you’re more likely to see them on the ground, then above your head.  But he saw it and pointed out, “Look mom, it’s a Robin Red Chest!”

Once at the playground, a child bolted down a plastic curvy slide so fast, that his hair stood totally on end!  My son noticed this scientific phenomenon and yelled out, “Mom, his hair ran out of gravity!

Only a few months ago, he observed an apartment close to our home that had burned down several months ago.  Construction crews had started stripping it down to the foundation, removing all of the burned siding, and clearing out the burned interior.   When we passed this apartment, he noticed the new crews working.  He pointed at it and said, “Now all the house needs is its skin on it.”

I wrote down a handful of these words over the years, but the majority of this creative-speak simply evaporated into the atmosphere and that makes me sad.

See he is growing up now.  The first trimester of childhood, that is the first six years, is already up.  How can this be?  He’s my mid-life baby whose sole responsibility is to keep me young, busy, and on my toes until my late fifties!

I have just one piece of advice to all you young, and young-at-heart wonderful mommies out there.  Somehow, somewhere, write down those cute little things your boy-wonder or little starlet says.  I know you already take a million digital pictures, but make sure you jot down somewhere those “first REAL words”.  You think you won’t forget this ever, and by next Tuesday you’ll have no idea what that cute thing was, only that they said “something” adorable.  Keep a notepad in your car, your diaper bag, or purse with attached pen so that you can capture it.  Even if you just shove all your little notes in a folder with your kids name on it, you’ll be glad later.

I know the days of early motherhood can be long.   The duties are harsh, your “to do” list borders on cruel and inhumane, your body is tired and worn out, and all your efforts are consumed with orchestrating nearly everything:

  • Coordinating play dates!
  • Providing top-notch educational experiences!
  •  Teaching little ones to tinkle and stinkle in a potty!
  •   Learning how to read words!
  •  Breaking up fights among siblings!
  • Planning three nutritious meals a day and snacks that are nibbled yet never entirely consumed!
  • Hourly diaper changes!
  •  Grocery and supply shopping!
  • Acres of dirty laundry and hours of cleaning that are never seen!

You spend your days navigating the disaster zone of spilled cheerios, leaking sippy cups, and a minefield of sharp, talking toys, as well as the brigade of ten thousand tiny pieces (kit toys).

Yes, I know!  You moms are at your most amazing, when you feel the least visible and the most vulnerable to losing the last shred of YOU!   Time moves simultaneously at the speed of light and slower than a snail’s pace.

Just remember this:

These sweet days will pass.  These little darlings will grow.  You will get through this!  And ultimately you will be begging your mind to remember one day those subtle moments when each of your sweet children said something precious or did something adorable.

The journey of motherhood is an arduous one.  You will learn a new language and skill set right along with your baby.  So whenever you can, however you can, find the ways to rest your body, and nourish your soul:

  • A call to a friend while sitting down, not tending to a child
  • Read a great book or magazine at nap time
  • A box of chocolates!  Calories don’t count if you’re near tears anyway.

As I hit submit on this post, I am praying this simple prayer:

“Lord, for any mom today that needs encouragement desperately, please let her know she is super amazing!   I don’t know who she is, but I know she’s giving with everything she’s got to her family.  Reward her faith and let her feel appreciated and loved.  Make sure she is blessed with the knowledge that she is a good mom and may she at least once today have the opportunity to board “The Care of Self”.

Don’t Sink the Boat Son!

     The reluctance to put away childish things may be a requirement of genius.
~Rebecca Pepper Sinkler

Today was a good day.  I got things the house picked up and took a break from writing.   I got out a bit and enjoyed my life with my six year old son.

We played two rounds of miniature golf.  He is a real free spirit and tends to slump his shoulders, swing while his feet are in motion, hold a club that would make any reasonable golfer cringe, and listens to instructions about as closely as I listen to foreign language translations while impatiently left on “ignore”, when calling customer service numbers.

Yet for all my attempts at teaching technique, he easily tied my score, simply by playing the way Frank Sinatra would have advised, “I did it MY WAY!”  That is to say, he dragged his club while swinging, tapped around each hole faster than Gregory Hines, and skipped from hole to hole with no regard to keeping score or winning.

Since he’s been born, I’ve always known he possesses that “something different” quality.  I keep trying to teach him, mold him, shape him, and above all instruct him to please follow directions!   I want him to do well in school!  I want him to pay attention!  I don’t want him to get picked on.  I don’t want him to be a teacher’s “pest”.   Basically, I want to spare him any trouble that comes from being a non-conformist.

But you know what?  I can’t.  I can demand, argue, and rationalize why it’s so great to follow directions and how it makes life easier, but it sort of falls on deaf ears.  It’s not that he is bad, or doesn’t want to follow directions; he just has such a strong sense of self—and a propensity to be distracted, because everything is interesting in his world!

When he hears the word no, that is his cue to no-gotiate!  When he gets in trouble, he may not hear you the first five or six times, but then he will turn on the charm to soften any anger after the fact.

He is our creative, and highly hilarious little bug-a-boo!  He is the one who clings to all of us,  from parents to siblings to grandparents.  He loves so deeply and so pure.  A talk show host would say he possesses “rugged individualism”.  Yes…all forty two pounds of it!

At one point, when he was haphazardly hitting the ball all over the place, I asked him for about the tenth time to please stop and LISTEN to my directions.  I want you to succeed in life!  You need to listen and follow directions.  I don’t want you to be like that boat over there; I don’t want you to sink!!    He just looked at me and kind of shrugged and skipped to the next hole.

Do you know what that little stinker did next?  He got a hole in one.  Yep!  For the rest of the day, Mom went into overdrive, competing against a six year old with a vengeance, determined  that if I could not beat him, I would at least join him in the “hole in one” club.  Many shots later, in our second game, I finally got mine!   Ah, sweet victory!

What is the lesson in all this?   The thing with free spirits is somehow things always seem to work out for them.    Sure, they have to accept basic responsibilities in life, but for kids who are determined to find their own way in sports, academics, and in life choices, I’m learning as a mom,  to take a breath, and bend like a willow, rather than stand tall and hard like the mighty oak.

The older I get, I’m learning to follow my own inner voice too.   I am setting speed records these days in giving up control and organization in order to follow my creative side that has been lying dormant for some time.  I’m learning to embrace my weird, wild, quirky, funny, sad, obsessive, angry, and faith-filled sides of my personality that makes me, ME!  No one pushes back harder than I do, when I feel misunderstood or that I don’t measure up in some area or another.  Why would I expect him to not feel the same way?

I think my son is seeing that.  He is learning the joy that comes now by living in the now, seeing where the day takes us, and finding the smallest things that make life joyful.   So color outside the lines, my baby.    Collect other people’s pistachio shells on our walks and give me these “clues” to take home.    Hit all the buttons in the elevator so we can see how each floor is different than the one before.    Bring me your stash of pigeon feathers despite the germs they may carry.

Be you and be happy.  Because your mom loves you always, exactly the way you are!