Flushing Out Santa

Flushing Santa

It had to happen.  I’ve been dreading this conversation even more than the one we already had about the “birds and the bees.”  After all, that was just stuff easily discussed about basic biology, some good-feeling stuff, and some high-octane emotions all tangled up in a cosmic stew necessary to keep the human race going.

But this conversation was a bit more serious.  Because this involves things like magic, the wonder of childhood, and most important: faith and doubt.

I should have known something was brewing a few days prior when my husband told me he found a couple boxes of laxatives laying on the bathroom counter.  I hadn’t noticed, I told him.  The deep forest of bathroom products on the counter is pretty dense after all. Stay with me, it’ll make sense soon enough.

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You see our baby-yet-not-a-baby-anymore, but rather tweenaged screenager and I had just had a very enlightening conversation on the way to the library.

“Mom, I read an article online that said that NORAD denied the existence of Santa, and they aren’t tracking Santa anymore because Santa is a hoax!  Is that really true?”

Startled, I started going thru a mental rolodex of thoughts simultaneously:

  • I’m about to rip his heart out.
  • Why did I wait so long to talk to him? I should’ve had this conversation long ago.
  • He’s going to think his parents are LIARS!
  • If he can’t trust me at Christmas, how in the world will he trust me in bad times?
  • He’s going to lose the magic of Christmas, right here and now, while we wait in the Starbucks drive through line.
  • Christmas is going to be sad now.
  • What if he doubts what I’ve told him on other things, like the existence of God?

“Well, what do you think?” I shot back.

“That’s why I’m ASKING you Mom!  I need to know.”

Since we were in a drive through line, I asked him to show me the web article on his phone.

So he showed me this:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/u-s-air-force-retracts-claim-santa-claus-not-real-article-1.3593233

“Wait a minute,” I said.  “It says right here, and I quote:”

In response to a story from the Washington Examiner — titled “Air Force confirms Santa Claus isn’t real while chiding quarreling bases on Twitter” — the Air Force walked back its initial claims.

Santa is real!” claims the article’s author. I quoted this line from it: “Bluffing to get @Whiteman-AFB and @TeamMinot in line. Tracking him in Dec.”

“See! You just have to read the last two paragraphs of the article” I said obviously stalling.  “You see, there is always someone that wants to kill the Christmas magic, even in the military sometimes, but it clearly says at the end of the article he is real.”

Wrong choice, Mom! (Screams my inner voice)

I could see he was getting more agitated.  He started telling me scientifically it just doesn’t make sense.  There are too many houses–houses without chimneys and millions of kids who live in huts or high-rise apartments.  He doesn’t have to totally understand Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to realize somehow that if Jeff Bezos can’t get birthdays done with a jabillion employees, how in the world does an overweight, ever-aging Santa pull Christmas off each year?

“I just don’t see how Santa delivers all those presents to every kid all over the entire world!”

Believe me, it ain’t easy!  I internally screamed thinking only of my three kids over the last 30 years!

More questions ensued.  I just kept asking him what he believed and thought.

And then it hit me.  The jig is up.  It’s time to come clean about Santa.

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I was just about to open my mouth to speak and tell him the bittersweet truth in love.

But then he surprised me with this:

 “So that’s why I got the baking soda and the laxatives out earlier.”

“Wait, what?!”

“Yeah.  I’ve been checking different websites online and about half say Santa is real and the other half say he isn’t.  It says here on this site, if you want PROOF that Santa is real, you should sprinkle baking soda on your floor and that way when he puts out gifts, he’ll probably leave a boot print.  And it also says you should put laxative pills in the milk we leave out with the cookies.”

“WHAT?!?!?   WHY??” I asked incredulously.

“Because that way if it is your parents, you’ll know for sure, because they’ll be in the bathroom a lot on Christmas day.”

Okay.  Now I knew he needed to know the truth for sure.  If only to make sure my plan for a desperately-needed, post-holiday nap would not be foiled. Instead this little angel child was actually considering wrecking my intestinal balance in order to prove a scientific hypothesis he had been contemplating.

“Are you trying to tell me you would actually allow your parents to be semi-poisoned to prove your theory denying the existence of Santa?  Furthermore, what IF Santa IS real?  Now you just gave him the gift of the runs after he was so kind to pay you a visit.  Is that anyway to treat someone who’s been so good to you all these years?

At that moment we both started laughing.  We laughed so hard for so long. But inside I was crying a little bit.  Then we both grew very quiet.  He was looking out the window as if far away.  And looking in the rear view mirror at my last-born son, I knew this sweet magical tradition we’ve carried for a little over three decades  with all our kids was finally coming to a close.

I know.  Don’t say it.  I waited way too long.

The thing is, I didn’t mean too.  The truth is, a bunch of things happened along the way, and time slipped away while I was so busy tending to more urgent things. Suddenly, like his siblings before him, he too has grown up, perhaps the fastest of all.

I mean, it seems like yesterday when he sat joyfully on Santa’s lap year after year.  Well, except for the year when he was two, and for some reason this was the year he was traumatized by the mere sight of the jolly fat man in the red suit at the mall.  In his annual portrait that year, he is sitting on his middle school-aged sister’s lap.  She is holding back hysterical laughter.  His red teary eyes are more blood shot then Snoop Dogg on a Sunday morning.  I’m terrible, but in some ways this is my favorite picture of all.  Partly because it’s funny, but partly because I knew then he would grow so fast.  That moment that seemed so scary then, would be met with joy and elation the following year.  And it was.

And the year after, and the year after that.  Until suddenly, it was this year, and I realized we forgot to get our picture made with Santa this year.  And last year too.  And probably even the year before that.

“Son,” I told him.  “Now, you know another hard truth in life.  The Santa that you had always envisioned in your head doesn’t really exist.  But there was a real Saint Nicholas.  And there are many people of days gone by and many people now who keep the spirit of Santa alive by being one of his helpers.  It’s a sacred honor when you think about it. Parents and various helpers (like grandparents and mall Santas and elves) love to keep the magic alive, because they remember how they felt as a child when they believed.”

“I know you know the real reason we celebrate Christmas—it’s to celebrate Jesus birth and remember what He did for us.  And Jesus IS real and so is His power in our lives.  This part of Christmas will always be true.”

“Of course Mom!  I know that’s why we celebrate!  I know it’s not just about getting gifts.”

I continued: “I know you know this too; it’s often a horrible and scary world we live in now.   You know terrible and dreadful things about people in this world now I wish you didn’t have to know, but you do because these things are true.  Denying the existence of these evil things won’t make them any less true.  Some things you have to know, so you can plan on how to stay safe.  But I see that continuing to treat you like an innocent child in this regard isn’t doing you any favors.  I think your heart has been questioning for some time it sounds like.  And I don’t ever want to lie to you.”

“Oh mom!  No, I’m fine.  I was just afraid YOU would be really sad that I was figuring this stuff out.  That was making me sad too.  I’m going through a lot of things in my head these days, but I HAD to know.  I just did.”

“I know.”

By now we were both sipping on our adult beverages.  I’m talking about coffee here.  Don’t rush it.  12 is just 21 looking back in the mirror.

“You know, I’m really excited now that I know mom.  I have a whole Christmas plan!  Of course, Santa will always be real in my heart.  But now it’s even better, because I get to be Santa.”

The next three hours he talked non-stop of things he wants to do this Christmas.  He hasn’t been this excited in a long time.  He talked about things he could do for and with his grandmas.  And his brother and sister.  He mentioned things he could make for his dad and other people we know and love.  He asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I told him anything that is FREE and HOMEMADE means the most to me!  And breakfast in bed would actually be really groovy!)  He talked about everything but what he wanted for Christmas.  That was a first.

I wrapped up our conversation finally by sharing a deep truth found in the bible (1 Corinthians 13:10-12) that says:

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And so we grow up, some sooner, some later, but always right on schedule on God’s cosmic timetable.  Truth is revealed as we are forced to let go sometimes of all which we think we know.  New facts emerge.  We mature and change and press ever onward. Other than faith, change is our only sure constant in this life.  And as we let go, we find a love:  truer, bigger, and better then ourselves.

These are the times we get to be Santa to others because our faith rests secure in the love and true spirit of Jesus.   This is life at its blessed.  This is Christmas.

 

THANK YOU TO ALL THE WONDERFUL SANTAS WHO BROUGHT US CHRISTMAS JOY AND WONDER ALL THESE YEARS!   GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eggy Peggy and the Japan Man

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PHOTO CREDIT:  PINTEREST SITE

 

It happened at IHOP the other day. I hadn’t had my morning cup of coffee yet. And I needed one. Like ALWAYS, I had a zillion things on my mind I was hoping to accomplish, knowing about 92% of them would actually be completed around the twelfth of never.

So I’m sitting there with my clever, sweet 8 year old son and our neighbor’s daughter, a smart, loveable 9 year old girl. They’ve been bus buddies for four years.

However, this Monday, we decided to change it up, trick the bus driver, play hooky from our stop and just have some pancakes. Or chicken and waffles, if you want to be precise. OK, that’s what she ordered. My son ordered the super-soaked chocolate chip pancake slathered in HFCS-laden pancake syrup, complete with a big whip cream smiley face and red-dyed maraschino cherry nose.

I was half listening to their simultaneous conversations happening, as I was mentally strategizing how I was going to get thru another impossible day.

It’s not that life is actually impossible. It just seems like it is. Our endless tasks, jobs, home and family responsibilities, volunteer commitments, bills, appointments, projects, and people to communicate with via email, texts, Facebook, Skype, blogs, Twitter, Pinterest, and heck, even telepathically if you’re as busy as I am tend to make our brain tired. To the point, it’s sometimes hard to actually concentrate on what our children are saying.

Suddenly, I miraculously decided to turn down the volume on my own mental noise. I decided to PAY ATTENTION to what these two precious children, who are strangely almost preteens, were saying. It seems like they were waddling around in diapers only a few weeks ago, yet here they were– lips moving, full of words, thoughts, ideas, and chock full of randomness!

Both were talking at the same time. My son was saying something about Macon Bacon and Eggy Peggy. They were characters on a paper search-and-find placemat. Our friend-like-a-daughter was saying how when she grows up, she wants to marry a Japan man, have two kids, and 3 cats. She was going to name them Messiah, Shiloh, and Little Tokyo.  

Both children continued to talk at the same time about these most random thoughts that had instantaneously occurred to them. Neither topic was related to the other. Neither seemed to care that I had but one set of ears, exactly one to hear half of what each mouth was saying, until the waitress came, asked us what we wanted, and harshed that mellow!

I had no clue what I wanted to eat. I was simultaneously visualizing a grown woman in Japan with two kids and three cats in the yard while my son was running around saying “Where is Eggy Peggy?!?!”

“He’s with the Japan Man!”

“Huh?” said the waitress. Oh. My overloaded brain.

“One coffee straight up please!”

And then it hit me. THIS IS WHAT CHILDHOOD IS ALL ABOUT!

Finding Eggy Peggy and Macon Bacon and living in the now. Dreaming of a perfect future; nothing wrong with dreaming that a Japanese husband just may be the ideal guy, as long as he likes felines. Randomness as opposed to every second of our day micromanaged to obey multiple agendas simultaneously.

I don’t think either one was all stressed out about how they were going to get through the day. I know neither one cared how much the food cost as a ratio in proportion to GDP of the family’s earned income like we adults stress over. They were unaware if bills were caught up at home, and I seriously doubt they were thinking about what will they be when they grow up.  

Suddenly, I found myself just wanting to inhale this exuberance of youth. The infinite time that still seemed to lay before them. The lack of hard core responsibilities and tough decisions.

Right now, deciding what to order was all that mattered. I got out my phone. We watched YouTube videos of Okinawa.   For a quick three minutes, I was somewhere else if only in my mind:

I’m running down the white sands of an Okinawa beach beside a translucent blue ocean. Three adorable exotic cats are running beside me.   I’m in hot pursuit of Eggy Peggy and the Japan Man. And they are running–fast!  As fast as they can, chasing two shadows in the wind–shadows of two precious children, growing up faster than all the ones that preceded them as small voices trail behind them, “Run, run, fast as you can. You’ll never catch us!”

Laughing at me and my tired spectacled eyes, and so many true stories under my belt, sadly, I know they are right.

Give ‘Em Salty Snacks! (The Gift of Uncomfortableness)

 

Stubborn HorseThe last few months I’ve been getting support in a recovery group for those who love someone who struggles with addiction.

At first glance, I thought Hey, I’m not like these folks! They have issues. I’m in much better control than they are!

Ha! But something compelled me to go back just in case I was a little wrong. Uh-huh. By the second meeting, I heard some stories and thought to myself Dang! These folks have nearly the exact same story we do—different name, different day, same story. By the third meeting, I realized I was exactly like these people. Maybe they can teach me a thing or two.    Everything about recovery starts with this:

You are not in control. (Whether you are the addict or the one who loves them, REPEAT: You are not in control.) Only God is in control.

But being the loved one of an addict, with more finesse than a Shakespearean drama, we find our roles to play in our family, because we are motivated by one thing:

The possibility of loss

And that drives everything we do. We want them to stop. It’s wrecking their health. It’s bankrupting them and us. It’s harshing our mellow and messing up our normal. (Now there’s a book!) Our motivations are good. Our love is pure. Our need to control is oh so……addicting! If we could just MAKE them stop.   I KNOW now, I can’t make anyone do anything.

However, somebody I respect dearly, told me something a while back that not only perked up my ears, but was music to my soul. With profound wisdom, and a sly wink, he said:

True, you can’t lead a horse to water and make him drink, but you sure can give him salty snacks!

Oh, friend! What joy those words gave me!

Because even though I believe ultimately that God is in control, I am seeing we do indeed have a role to fulfill, a position in God’s army—a post we are to man!

We can be diligent: We will not ignore our intuition and bury our head in the sand when we know something is wrong.

We can confront the truth in love: We can clearly articulate the evidence we are seeing that shows the destruction or potential for it in terms of health, finances, or legality. This immediately falls into the next step:

We can establish healthy boundaries: Once a problem is stated—clearly, concisely, without condemnation or judgment, we can immediately let the other person know that because we love them we will in no way enable them in terms of money, excuses, or emotional support for the choices that harm them and have the potential to destroy them, and possibly harm or destroy others (such as driving, working, or parenting under the influence here).

We can encourage and help them in every way to seek the help they desperately need, and take practical steps to lead that horse to water. An addict has to first get uncomfortable in his or her addiction.  If we keep rewarding them in anyway (money, acceptance of the habit by believing their lies “it’s just the way I’m wired, etc.”) we are actually partnering in their destruction, possibly others.

Whenever human life is at risk (theirs or others), we have an obligation to protect the innocent. Yes, this means calling law enforcement sometimes. If an addict drives under the influence, has illegal drugs in the home or around children, you have a duty to protect! Sometimes legal consequences are the only thing that finally motivates them. Even if it doesn’t motivate them, as a moral citizen, you have a duty to protect the innocent.

I learned this about boundaries: NO!  The word no is a complete sentence!

We can get help for ourselves. Sometimes we’re not strong enough.   Loved ones of addicts are prone to the same insecurities, hurts, hang-ups, and disappointments that addicts are. Getting stronger mentally, and also physically (working out, getting enough rest, eating healthy) are steps essential to our well-being. We can’t help anyone else if we are falling apart.

We can trust God, our higher power. This is the hard part for me. It’s not that I don’t trust God. I just always feel like there might be one more thing that I should be doing, that I’m not.   I have to trust that when I’ve done all I can do for the day, the rest is up to God. I can’t do more than I did. I can’t know what I haven’t learned yet. I only have enough courage, energy, strength, and grace for today!

If someone you love is struggling with addiction, I pray you get help for yourself. Join a local Alanon or Naranon group today!   This is support: Seeking others with the same struggles as yourself and learning healthy coping skills and perhaps a few “salty snack” recipes so they realize you are no longer a part of the environment that allows addiction to thrive. This is NOT support: Rehashing dramatic stories but offering NO solutions or NOT BEING receptive to new ways of thinking or doing things.

Above all don’t fall into the trap that you are powerless; you’re not!   If you do, you will fall into the same rut as the addict you love. Though you can’t change them and they have to do the work for themselves, you too can learn to think and behave differently. You can give them the salty snacks, also known as the gift of uncomfortableness, in leading them towards the steps to recovery!

What you allow

 

I’m Messed Up; And You’re Totally Wack!

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When I was a child, I remember my mom owned a book titled “I’m Ok; You’re Ok”.  OK, blogger’s disclosure here:  I have never read the book.  Sixty seconds of research on Amazon clearly puts me in my place; this is a distinguished writer who not only has the letters “M.D.” stenciled by his name, but has sold copies in the millions!  As if psychoanalyzing the dynamics of our parent/adult/child relationships to one another wasn’t totally gratifying, this doctor ultimately skyrocketed to fame with his book and subsequent movie “Silence of the Lambs” and “Hannibal”.    Second disclosure:  Glad I didn’t share couch time with him!

Ladies and gentleman, allow me to present myself:  Liz, amateur blogger who has zip, zero, nada credentials other than The School of Hard Knocks and The University of Life’s Experiences.   I am an expert in many subjects though; particularly the ones I deem worthy of arguing over.  Everything else is irrelevant.  Capishe?

Anyway, in my humblest of opinions, I really think most people would find ourselves and could skip years of therapy and countless thousands of dollars if they could just read one of dozens of books I eventually plan to write –barring unforeseen distractions of course!   I will call it:

“I’m Messed Up; And You’re Totally Wack!”

Born just a few decades shy of the new millennium, I, like many of you experienced big life events.  Off the top of my head I remember these events, both external and internal, in a world that started out with time moving slowly. Now time seems to move at the speed of light thanks to the exponential increase in technology and access to world and interpersonal events simultaneously.    This is my truth as I remember it:

  • I turned four in a new house.  This time, it was a two-story home.
  • Our family got a brand new color TV!
  • The next day we saw Neil Armstrong take the first steps on the moon.
  • Our new color TV became my mom’s CNN when the Watergate Hearings started.
  • I turned eight that day.  “As the World Turns” was suspended.    I was covered in poison ivy.
  • President Nixon said he was not a crook.  I remember he was like the Beatles in this regard; he was famous and he also gave America the peace sign.
  • I repeatedly sat in the scorching heat and was bored to death in the back of my mom’s Impala as we waited forever to get gas before it ran out.
  • President Nixon, besieged by scandal, scowly jaws, and a neck that always seemed to turtle into his shoulders, resigned.
  • My cat had kittens and then my dad didn’t come back one day.  Then my parents divorced.  And I had to give all the kittens away.
  • Life was not always sunshine and lollipops.
  • I turned eleven.  On my birthday my dad stopped by.  He tied a red bandana around my eyes, put a cowgirl hat on my head, and gave me some genuine leather cowgirl boots.  We rode in his Porsche convertible 911 Targa to an unknown destination.  When he took off my blindfold, I was standing at a field near a stable. He had bought me a horse—the horse of my dreams!   I was so lucky!
  • I got the consolation prize but my mom got stuck with all the responsibility of raising me during the height of my future rebellion.  We are still very close to this day.
  • Then Elvis fell off his porcelain throne and died on his bathroom floor.  The whole world cried.  Did I?  I can’t remember.
  • I read CS Lewis’s “Alice and Wonderland” and got lost for a few days.  A love affair with words and imagination ensued.
  • I turned 12.  My horse got very sick.  I lay against her belly and cried copious tears on the hard ground when we had to put her to sleep.  I’m not a brave person, but I learned I could face it when the time comes to tell our pets good-bye.
  • I got my period and then over 900 people died in Jonestown, Guyana.  I do remember crying over that when I realized this scene repeated itself hundreds of times:  Parents gave their kids Kool-Aid.  Then they died.   Why?
  • I started high school.  My friend’s brother drove me to school in a 1970 VW Bus with a silver foot shaped gas pedal.  The van always smelled like reefer, but it didn’t bother me because I had a secret crush on him.  We never talked to each other.
  • John Lennon was assassinated.  Then my mom and I celebrated Christmas, just us two and our cats, for the fifth time.
  • Summer came.  I started liking boys more than girls.
  • Second year of high school was in session and John Hinckley Jr. tried to kill President Reagan to impress Jodi Foster.    Then I got my driver’s license.
  • That summer the sandy haired boy with the reefer bus committed suicide.  He left behind a daughter and girlfriend.  He never knew I liked him “more than a chauffeur.”  I was not a good friend to the sister he left behind.  Death makes people who aren’t grown up yet drift apart.  I wish I could tell her I’m sorry now.
  • Next I dated someone who was immature and sometimes cruel.  I got smart quick.  I dumped him fast.
  • I met my second boyfriend.
  • I worked all through high school.  Then I graduated.
  • A week later I moved out into a brand new mobile home with my boyfriend.  It hurt my mom because I didn’t give her any warning.
  • After four years I married that second boyfriend.  We had ups and downs, and stayed busy with three amazing kids who did every activity under the sun.  We traveled, we camped, we loved, we lost, and we loved again.  The cycle of life’s events big and small, internal and external happened, all over again.  Only this time it seemed to go by even faster, and with more of us.  We have a mostly good life today.  Some say blessed; I do.

Why?

It’s because we’ve both learned how to graciously—well, on most days, accept one another and those around us in the world as they truly are.  That is, “I’m Messed Up; And You’re Totally Wack!”

We both had childhoods that were indeed mostly happy, full of play, and learning, friends and family.  Yet from time to time, we took turns getting suddenly thrown out of “Happyville”.  Leaving Happyville, was always followed up by temporary internments in the tenement slum housing known as “Dysfunction City”.

We all went through this.    Yes, we children of the Age of Aquarius, this new dawn of enlightenment and reason, all had to endure these universal hardships of life:

Hurt.  Sadness.  Disappointment.  Unfairness.  Events beyond our control.

But here’s the good news:   The bad didn’t last.  It never does!  As God wove the threads of our life’s tapestry, these hard things became the torn threads that gave our life, our tapestry, its character and its absolute richness.    The master weaver is still at work.

We live and we dream and the world just keeps on turning.   God is in control.  And we’re all going to be okay.  Mostly.

And we know that in all things,  God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

ImageLiz and Her Horse Patches – 1976

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”.

Life is Messy

Murphy was an optimist.  ~O’Toole’s Commentary

      Life is good!  At least that’s the theme of a certain trendy store full of happy clothing, coffee mugs, baseball caps, bumper stickers, hiking gear and the like.  Yeah, it’s good alright, but it’s also downright messy!    Ask any mom of one or more, and you will find confirmation.  In fact as I write this, I’m thinking I may want to market my own clothing line “Life is Messy*” with a disclaimer on the back that says “And That’s The Stinkin’ Truth!”

Wear one of my shirts, and barf and poo will just look like the latest urban trend in fashion design.    You’ll be more than shabby chic, you’ll be the genuine article of the Life Is Messy cult following.  Wear your stains as badges of honor.  The more you have the better parent you clearly are.   Digging in the garden?  Throw some extra dirt on there for good measure.  Kid has a blowout diaper, and you’re out of wipes?  That’s what the shirt is for dad!  Forgot the Kleenexes?  Again, use the shirt.  No hand sanitizer?  Get real!  Use that shirt mama!

Here’s the rub.  That cute little baby you see above?  Well, he grew.  He finally stopped sharing his mama’s milk and his lunch by yellowing every shirt I ever owned, but all that really happened was that the mess was reconstituted into new form.  Now very door frame has a tinge of blackness, and dark fingerprints and hand prints dot the mid line of our walls like ghost chair railing.    Shoes that trampled in dirt have darkened our ivory carpet to a dingy shade of brown.  While the broom catches it’s breath in the closet, the house silently screams, “Warning!  Children live here!”

See I have older kids too.  I’ve already been thru this—twice, in fact.  One day you’ll look back, and you’ll agree it pretty much will have happened like this:

The first few years go by, and the expensive art prints you had framed when you were single will have been replaced by collage frames of your children, of all different ages and places haphazardly thrown together in a single frame.   And of course the real art work.  Yellowing and corner-curled preschool paintings dot your walls and smother your refrigerator.    You know you really should get rid of some of it, but just what if your child really is the next Renoir prodigy?

After five or six years, you’ll tire of sorting and organizing the thirty or so plastic tubs and fabric bins in shelves that you once had the novel  idea that you and your child could practice “sorting skills”.  Now the lessons in sorting get reduced to, “Get this CRAP off the floor right now; I mean it, or this time I really will throw it all away.”

The calendar pages keep blowing into the wind.  Soon you are in the elementary years with school projects and friends and sleep overs.   More food; more footprints.   Bug collections, princess costumes, thousands of stuffed animals,  Barbies, Legos, Beanie Babies, Poke E Mon cards, happy meal toys,  DVDs,  VHS-tapes (if your kids are “old school”), train sets, board games, paperback books, hardboard baby books, rock collections, sticker collections, crafts, and a few hundred other things move in when you aren’t  paying total attention.  While you are sleeping, the toys all have breeding parties and when you wake up, you find they multiplied, but still you’ll be too tired to pick it all up.    Though you’ll weed things out from time to time, they’ll still viciously and systematically take over your house room by room.

Three years of middle school will come and go faster than a rotating door in a hotel lobby.  With these years comes “The Age of Electronic-us”.  Each child will successfully convince you their life will cease to be fully functional without any of these necessary items:  cell phones,  Wiis, Super Nintendos, Guitar hero guitars, digital cameras, portable car DVD players, Ipods and Ipads, Laptops, and chargers, so many chargers.  The batteries that made you nuts only a few years ago, get replaced by long spindly, tangled up things that live like nomads roaming your house and are never in sight when desperately needed.  It’s all good; you’re thinking if the Dollar Tree ever has a half-price sale, you may even try to get some new clothes for yourself one of these days.

By high school, you’ve made an uneasy truce with living a “highly charged” life and you are just mentally counting down the 1,460 days or so left, of “Life with Baby”.    The choking hazards of yesteryear have been replaced by the scary realization that the child who still doesn’t know how to properly put a comforter on a mattress is now actually driving five thousand pounds of deadly force with one or more equally mature friends to an alleged destination they possibly may have told you about three weeks ago.

Three hours after their curfew passes, you’ll attempt for the seventeenth time to get some answers.  You text them this profound philosophical question, “Where are you?” even though your eyes are growing dim, due to your advancing age of forty–plus.    Since their phone mysteriously doesn’t seem to ring or “must be on silent” when only you call, you’ll  get your answer texted back a few hours later, once the consensus has unanimously been crafted as to what is most likely to be the answer that will worry you the least.  Even if it’s a tad short of the truth, it’ll have to suffice for now.

Then the big day arrives!  Graduation!   Congratulations and celebrations ensue.  Suddenly—they’re gone.   You look at your house.  What happened?  The carpet’s long past shot.  Walls need to be repainted.  It’ll take years to just carry all this stuff to the Goodwill or the curb.  And all the ribbons, and trophies, and pictures, and artwork, what in the world are you going to do with it?  You know you have to get rid of it, yet how can you?  This picture they finger painted, this student of the week ribbon, this tattered Cinderella costume, this baseball trophy, that’s who THEY were!  Throwing some of this stuff out seems like parental heresy.

Family life is this:  It’s hard, with moments peppered with hormones, deadlines and cruel calendars, worry and fear, silent treatments and arguments.  It’s also good with clay pinch pots made just for you,  family vacations, hugs when you cry,  and handwritten cards that say, “I love you becuz yur my momy and you play wth me and let me eat chikn” as I tearfully received recently.    Through it all, life is messy.  Be sure to savor the sweetness found in the dirt!

 

Taken from A Friend’s Facebook Page — Author Unknown