Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I am a mess.

Sunday afternoon, as I watched little Sophie scampering across the parking lot toward the house, the sun lighting her gorgeous brown hair, seeing her so happy and carefree, I marveled at the beauty and simplicity of the moment... and I kept picturing a speeding car whipping through the lot and flattening her.  I had to physically bite my lip to keep from calling her back to my side.

Sometimes I am able to hide the crazy, but it is always there.

Much hay has been made over Harold Camping and his failed prediction of the Rapture and onset of the apocalypse.  I stayed quiet about it, mostly because it seems wrong to mock his followers in light of what must be a very confusing and difficult time for them.

But there is another reason.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

And then...

I have a couple drafts that I need to fill out and polish up to publish here, some thoughts that I've been chewing on for a while.

I have been meaning to get to them all week, and I just haven't done it.  So, frustrated with myself, I decided last night that I would definitely do some writing today.

I woke up at 7 a.m. and nursed the baby for about 25 minutes.  When I got up, my coffee was already made, thanks to Greg's latest gift to me: a programmable coffee maker.  Nice!  So I made coffee and ate a bagel, then straightened up the kitchen and checked my email and Facebook.

At 8 a.m., Joel still asleep, I turned on Sophie's morning cartoons and grabbed the screwdriver so I could replace the broken pieces on one of her underbed drawers.  After I fixed the drawer, I mounted hooks for her sweatshirts and jackets inside her little wardrobe (and then had to remove the doors in order to remove the shelves that aren't in use right now).

About 9 a.m.. Joel woke up, so I put him in his chair in the bathroom and took a shower.  Sophie and I are having a pink-and-green party today, so she is wearing her Oscar the Grouch shirt with pink pants, and I am wearing a grey t-shirt with my pink-and-green pajama pants.  I got myself ready and cleaned the bathroom.

Joel played in his crib for quite a while as I sorted the load of diapers by size and type and put them away (in the dresser that is now his, since his sister has the new bed/dresser combo).  I texted a friend to see how her day was going.

When Joel started to fuss, I took him to the kitchen and danced with him and Sophie.  Glee songs, mostly.  Some Bruno Mars, and Gaga, of course.  While I was dancing, I noticed how gross the stovetop was, so I put Joel in his swing, gave Sophie her Toy Story figurines, and disassembled the stove to soak in some vinegar and water. 

For the next hour, I danced some more, applauded Sophie's block-building skills, cleaned the kitchen again, nursed the baby again, cleaned up the family room floor, and wiped down surfaces in the bathroom. 

Oh, and gathered up odds and ends of dirty laundry. 

And repaired a broken toy (a terrific garage sale find, regardless of what Greg says) with the part that came in the mail today.

And for the rest of the day, all I have to do is put Joel's clothes away in his drawers and closet, put away my basket of clean laundry, sweep and mop the bathroom, straighten up the extra bedroom (overflowing with items for this weekend's garage sale) and vacuum.

And make dinner.

And dust the living room.

And clean the kitchen again.

And nurse the baby some more.

And catch up with my hubby when he gets home.

And be present for my daughter when she wants some attention.

And then I can sit down and blog!  Yay!

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Mother's Day

NB: I started this post on Mothers' Day, May 8, 2011.
This evening, only moments ago, in fact, I watched something beautiful happen. 

The weather being finally appropriate for outdoor activities, Greg had the youth group playing some demented version of wiffleball in our back yard.  During the game, Sophie took a bag of her candy around to each teenager and let them choose a piece.  Then she spent some time sticking the plastic bats through the chain link fence and pretending they were telescopes.  After that, she rode around and around on her new stick horse, trying to figure out how to ride and keep her hat on at the same time.

And no one thought anything of it.  No one ran her over, or got annoyed because they had to watch out for her.  They are used to her being there.  (In fact, the girls often seem to me more interested in Sophie than in the game.)  It blesses me to see someone love my kids. 

*       *       *       *       *       *       *

I started this post as a reflection on Mothers' Day, intending just to capture one of the little moments that I savor as a mom.  True to the title, I am just now finishing it, 6 days later. 

Since I started writing this post, I have done loads of dishes and laundry, reluctantly left my babes to go to work four times, and turned my house upside down in preparation for a garage sale (tomorrow! finally!!).  I have done nothing extraordinary.

And yet my life is just that: extraordinary.  Absolutely extraordinary.

Sometimes, as I have discussed before, I feel like I could easily be crushed under the weight of all the blessings I have been given:

Sophie's little voice, filling the house with off-key songs of delight
the intoxicating smell of Joel's little baby head
talking with Greg as I / we make dinner
Sophie dancing
Joel's look of utter happiness when he sees my face
Warm little bodies tucked into bed for snuggles
Greg's comforting presence, keeping my night-fears at bay

It is staggering to stand surveying these gifts and remember that once, many years ago, I didn't even think I'd live to be 30, much less having 30 be the best year of my life thus far.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fear, Hope and Learning to Mother

(Sometimes, I freak out. This is one of those times.)

A few months ago, our Sunday School class was discussing parenthood, and one of the men in the class talked about how, when one of his children is resting in his arms, completely surrendered and trusting, he sometimes feels a great weight of responsibility.

Today, I can hardly stand up, that weight being so heavy on my mind and heart.


Sophie is growing up. Fast. Every single day, she amazes me with some action or comment or insight that I didn't know she was capable of. (Yesterday, asked about a trip to the park, she gasped and said it would be "exciting" instead of "excited.")  She sees and understands so much more than I give her credit for, I think. She is a whole person, albeit a tiny one. And I'm not sure I'd have sashayed so casually into parenting had I known the tremulation that is Parenting a Toddler.

See, she's beyond the things I felt confident about handling: She can eat with a fork (though she doesn't always), wash her hands (as long as she sings the song), use the potty alone (except when she wants company), and pick out and put on her own clothes (purple-and-black striped pants, green shirt, and pink house slippers, anyone?).

Now what?

Now she's this miniature person, saying and doing the things she sees others (me!) doing. Learning to interact with people, wash the dishes, say "excuse me" and "thank you," learning to communicate, to be impatient or unnecessarily irritated, by watching me do those things.

And oh, how I do those things.

I have shown her love and joy and fun, have delighted her with silly games and painting and fun together, modeled good manners and saintly patience.

I have also shown her rudeness, sarcasm and a quick temper, impatience and irritability and annoyance.

Last night, after we put her in bed, I couldn't get one incident off my mind, so I left baby Joel with his dad and went to talk to my sweet girl.

I sat down on her bed, scooped her into my lap, and asked her if she remembered the day before, when Joel was crying on his changing table, and she went to the forbidden pile of garage-sale-bound goods and brought him his blue music toy. (That moment may never leave me: Me snapping at her to "put that way like I told you already!" and her little heartbroken face, twisted into tears, saying, "But I brought the song for Joely so he won't cry, Mom!" I am a monster.  I recanted and told her how sweet a thing she'd done, but it was ruined by my inital reaction.)

She nodded as I described the event, and her little voice said the saddest words I have ever heard it say: "Yeah. You yelled at me."

Gut check.

Not only did I overreact to completely normal toddler behavior, but she remembered it well and was still hurt by it.

I explained that I was very, very sorry and that from now on, I would use my words to love her. I asked if she would forgive me.

"Yes, Mommy. I forgive you."

I held her for a while longer and cried as we sang some songs together and whispered love to each other.

And since then, my heart has been in quiet panic:
Does she understand "forgive"? How do I teach that?
How many other times have I crushed her little heart? How will I make it up to her?
Am I really enough for these precious babies? Don't they deserve a good mother who won't crush their spirits because she is tired and irritable?
What was God thinking, trusting me with such precious vulnerability?

And on and on, and on and on.

Fitting that it is the third week of Easter, the third week of celebrating the Resurrection. Because of the Resurrection, we live lives of hope. I hope my children will be happy, healthy, stable people, who value themselves and others, and who know and chase after God. And I hope that He will make me what I need to be so they can be what they should be.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Love, Hate, and the Other

Unity among Christians is something that I think quite a bit about (and sometimes write about), and the Rally to Restore Unity going on this week over at Rachel Held Evans's blog has it at the forefront of my mind this week.
Here are some thoughts.

My friends and acquaintances are all talking about Water for Elephants, and since it stars Robert Pattinson, I'm going to have to see it eventually.  And books being almost always better than their movie counterparts (notably excepting the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood), I decided I'd better get on it.  I stayed up until the wee hours this morning finishing it, and as with every book I resist reading when it is popular, I had to kick myself for holding out.  Great story, good writing, lovely experience.

A crucial big of knowledge in this story is that the 1930s traveling circus subculture bears a great, bold dividing line between the performers and the workers.  They don't mix, ever.  The disdain is open and mutual.  Jacob, the main character, is originally helped by Camel, a working man who takes a bit of a risk in order to help Jacob get a job on the show.  Jacob's talents are discovered and he is given a pretty high position, bunking in with a performer named Walter.

Later in the action, Camel has fallen ill and Walter and Jacob risk their own precarious positions in order to take care of him.  On learning of Walter's efforts, another character asks Jacob, "I thought he hated working men."  Jacob acknowledges his bunkmate's surly demeanor toward workers, but explains how Walter has gone out of his way to help Camel, even to the point of giving up his bed for the old man.

And that made me think.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

On the Death of Osama bin Laden

I got the news by text message from my husband.  He is out of town and I had been bathing the children and putting them to bed when the news of bin Laden's death broke.  I read the message in bed, as I was setting my alarm for work in the morning.  "Did you hear the news? Bin Laden is dead."

Hmm, I thought.  And then I got up, because I realized I'd forgotten to brush my teeth.  Then, tucked under my covers again, I used my phone's limited internet capabilities to check the headlines.  My thoughts at that time were disjointed, and they still pretty much are.