Taking stock

I have one somewhat self-deprecating story to share and one more serious thought. Unfortunately for you, the funny story will wait until tomorrow. It will take longer to type and I’m not in such a funny mood right now. Tonight I am mulling over the meaning of life, noticing the old-age, worked-in-the-yard-all-day ache in my knees, and feeling thoughtful.

I had an almost epiphany today. And almost aha moment. I say almost, because I think I tried to push it away and I’m not sure it has settled inside as deeply as it needs to. I don’t like to feel pain. I guess maybe none of us do, but I think I resist the truth when it becomes too difficult to manage. I think I saw it, and waffled too long between running toward it and running away from it.

I don’t like big, ugly things. (This is a metaphor, for all you math majors out there. I’m not calling you OR me fat and hideous.) Big, but not ugly is okay. Or small and REALLY ugly…also okay. But big and ugly? Not okay. The moment you look at yourself in a mirror and realize you have too much to change is a moment that you either decide to do the hard, HARD work or the moment you decide to walk away and live with big and ugly.

Today I decided it’s time to be a better person all around. It’s time for some discipline. Time for taking stock. Time to stop being tired over the fourth child being born, for crying out Lee-oud. Time to be who I’m supposed to be.  Time to be who my kids deserve. Time to be a better helper to the man of the house. Time to become someone who can live without large regrets.

It’s time.

More on that…and the “Rooster Incident”…tomorrow.

Celebrating Amazing

My oldest child turns 12 today. Twelve. Wow. For his birthday he asked for 8000 Pokemon items. Pokemon. Really? I mean, 1992 wasn’t enough? They had to relaunch and make 20 billion MORE DOLLARS on creepy Japanese creatures?

He also asked for a slumber party.  Oh man.

So we did that on Friday night. 5 of his best friends spent the night. As if that weren’t enough short males in one house, we allowed one sibling buddy to sleep over also, making seven short males and 2 short females in one house.

Two tall adults is not enough.

It went fine, actually, and they had so much fun. I survived at least 556 “Your Mama” jokes. But I kept coming down the stairs to them and saying, “HEY! Whose mama are we talking about here…?”

It matters, you know. Cuz, sometimes I’m the mama.

Twelve years ago this moment, I was not yet a mama. The boy had been born but he wasn’t yet mine. I know I do this every year, but for me, it never gets old. For me, every single year I experience the amazement all over again.

Except to search and pray, I had nothing to do with this sweet soul. All I really did was hold out my arms and catch him as he fell from Heaven. I thank God, the Giver, every day.

Last year, I wrote him this letter. I can’t top it, so I’m re-posting it.

Dearest Boy,
Eleven years ago this night you were on the brink of being born. I didn’t know my missing piece was about to be placed into the wedge nothing else could fill. I didn’t even know you existed. I certainly didn’t know you were about to be mine. I get weepy just typing this note to you. You cannot know how much love was sewn into your life’s garment. It’s baffling, really. It took almost 4 years of thinking I knew exactly how God was going to bring my children to me–and failing utterly–to bring me to a quiet, humble place where I could grow into your mom. Without those years, without the emptiness, without my casting around in desperation, I would not have been ready. I wasn’t ready before you. I didn’t know this.

God knew.

Four years of powerful aching was pacified by a wriggling 7 pound baby with big red lips and a deep, beautiful dimple.

Four years of pain now buried under 11 years of the greatest joy your dad and I have ever known.

You were the perfect baby for us–hand-picked by your Creator.
You were perfect.
You are perfect.

Perfect.

Happy birthday, sweet son.

Motherhood

Today is a day of rejoicing in my blessings far more than it is a day of rejoicing in me. It was not always this way. Back when I was still pretty stupid, I expected a lot. Perfect church behavior. The perfect after-church restaurant experience. A present that was clearing a home-run off eBay.

Brother.

I’m glad I got over that. It’s exhausting to be such a pain in the neck. Trust me. Today I am reflecting on four little people; four love letters from God.

The best way I can share how thankful I am is to post a few thoughts I have written over the years.

Thursday Morning in May, 2010
Dearest Son,
Happy Birthday. Happy.Birthday. When we brought you home nine years ago and spent 5 full days staring into your face, I couldn’t have imagined I’d still be staring in awe in 2010. I thought I’d eventually get over you. I haven’t. Tonight you were coughing so enthusiastically that I was afraid you might lose something you were going to later need, like a tooth or your uvula. So I kept you home from church. As you began to settle in for sleep, I rubbed your buzzed little head and said, “I am so lucky to be your mom. So lucky.” You opened your eyes and said, “Why, Mama?” As I told you then, I am telling you now. There are hundreds of reasons. You were the first best thing to happen to our family. You were chosen. You are the perfect oldest brother in a family who needs you. You love to read. You love animals. You love the outdoors. You’ll eat absolutely anything. You have a smile that captures hearts even when you are trying not to capture anything! You reach for your baby sister’s hand during the mealtime prayers and she squeezes you across the table. You try hard. You are everything I ever wanted. When your eyes pop open in the morning, it’ll be all about the anticipation of gifts and after school swimming. Right now, in this moment, it’s all about the God who brought us together and a life that is nothing short of spectacular.
Happy Birthday, Boy.
Love,
Mom

My third child bears a name that means “Bringer of Light” and never has anyone been named more appropriately. She’s a darling that I couldn’t describe if I tried. She is very different from her brothers in her interactions with me. Though I consider the boys to be sweet and affectionate, it is rare that they are still enough to be attentive and receptive to a serious snuggle. This girl likes to be swaddled, even at 18 months, after getting out of the bath. I wrap her in a towel and cradle her until she is ready to get into pajamas. At this point, she just looks into my eyes and talks. It’s a special type of communion that only happens after a bath when she’s wrapped in that towel in my arms. And it’s a special time that only happens because she’s willing to be still and quiet and because she so enjoys this time with just me. It made me consider the difference between her and the boys. It made me consider my own relationship with God. So often, I am like the boys. They love me, but they are racing through the house at break-neck speed with pirate swords, too busy to stop and look into my eyes and take anything away from me. I love God, but how often do I stop and rest against Him so that we can share REAL time? I think the crazy pirate games are great and most of life is made up of such things. But there’s a place for quiet communion. I need to resolve to swaddle myself away from my distractions and let God speak. Thank you, girl, for the lesson.

2011

Dear Baby,

I have written you so few letters in your 3 years of life and yet you are everybody’s darling.

I remember and relish your birth like it was a free trip to Disney with a stay at the Grand Floridian. Though you were extracted from my body through surgery and my accommodations included mu mus and catheters, it is still one of the greatest times of my life. There was a singularity of purpose to it. A peaceful wash of “this is exactly what I should be doing right now.” For a brief 2 days, there was no pull of guilt that I wasn’t spending enough time with your brothers and sister. There was no thought of what I should cook for dinner. I just knew a French dipped sandwich would be steaming and soggy under a tight plastic wrap, alongside a cup of apple sauce.

I didn’t wonder any of that. I did wonder who you’d be. You were perfect. I also thought you were normal and very quiet. I thought perhaps, by some stroke of chromosomal luck, your dad and I had canceled each other out and had a nice, normal baby. This is clearly not the case. We’ll talk about that later. Right now I’m praising you. 🙂

In those early peaceful moments between just you and me, I marveled at the perfection of you lying swaddled in my arms under a dark head of curls and got a chill up my spine as I thought about anything that might have prevented me from arriving at this moment. I’m so very thankful that God always knows what we need and when we need it. We needed you. Happy Birthday, Dear One.

I love you,
Mom

On this Mother’s Day in 2013, I can only say humbly and simply: Thank you, Lord. It always was and still is Your doing.

The book in my head

It’s hard to believe that one week ago exactly I was biking through Central Park, stopping to pop into the Met, and not sweating even a single bit. That was a lifetime ago. It was a beautiful 4 days. I still have more to say about it. I know I say this a lot. But now I have a planner. One that I actually enjoy writing in. I am so on top of life right now. And it’s been two days! ha. So, I guess there’s still a little time before I prove the concept. I have written the word “Blog” on 3 days for next week. Don’t hold your breath, but do write down in your own planner, “Check Missy’s Blog.”

Today I biked in a very different world from Central Park and enjoyed it about 66% as much. It wasn’t QUITE as pretty as a blooming 65 degree canopied sidewalk and it wasn’t QUITE as cool. But it was nice. And it afforded me the time to write the book that has been in my head for about 60 days now. Will I write it? I don’t know. But I see the beginning, middle, and end and I have never been able to do that before.  Where is Keri when I need her. Oh, yes. Mississippi. And there are phones, so I guess it will be okay.

Here is the first couple of paragraphs. I don’t plan on sharing it piece by piece. But I feel like sharing this.

Target Audience: probably 12 year olds. So if you hate it…and you aren’t 12….don’t tell me.

__________________________

I live 25 feet from a Rottweiler that bleeds constantly from the mouth. Well, it may not actually be blood.  But when he shows up in my dreams at 2 a.m., there is always blood. I am never quite sure if it is his or mine, but it’s enough to make me want to never leave my driveway.

I almost didn’t.

Days rolled into weeks before I got up the courage to pedal past the Death Hound. Little did I know he was only the first of my obstacles. I would see 16 more just like him before I even broke a sweat.

It became a part of my daily routine; part of what I did and who I was.

It was summer. And pedaling and sweating was my new normal.

This is my story.

I am the Watcher.

New York State of Mind. Vol. 1

The most notable thing about this post is that I’m posting. Lately, this is a rarity. The second most notable thing about this post is that I am posting from the plane. The third most notable thing about this post is that the first two notable things are all I have to say.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

I am flying back from 4 days in New York City. I liked the city before I visited. Now I am obsessed with it. OB-SEessed. I want to post my reflections in a couple of days when I am slightly less fatigued. It is exhausting being a New Yorker. I know, because I am a Yorkie now. I am developing a list of helpful hints for the Yankee-impaired of How to be a REAL New Yorker.

1.  Master the crosswalks.Know the traffic patterns. Move quickly and confidently. Do not take pictures of cute dogs on the sidewalk or M & M guys on the Times Square jumbotron. Keep moving.

2. Do not accept pamphlets. Just don’t. You’re a New Yorker now. They would never accept a flyer about a city bus tour. Sheesh, man.

3.  The answer to ‘Are you a stand-up comedy fan?´ is always no. Todd took this a step farther when the 5th guy to ask us this rephrased it. The guy said, ‘Do you like to have fun?´ Todd, over it like a true New Yorker, said, ‘No, thank you.’ ‘I’m sorry to hear that,’ the man replied in horror. Of course we like to have fun, salesguy. We live in New York now.

4.  Don’t say ‘No, thank you’ to strangers. That’s distinctly Southern.

5.  Do NOT eat at Auntie Anne’s pretzels unless you really, really like them, in which case you can secretly purchase a pretzel and eat it in a dark alley. Throw out the Auntie Anne’s bag.

6.  Don’t pose with ANYONE dressed in a costume in Times Square. They will charge you and likely kill you. Do you want to be killed by a weird-looking Pooh Bear? I don’t think so.

7.  Don’t like pigeons. It is VERY anti-NewYork to like, or even tolerate, the pigeon.

8.  Be super nice to your cab driver and don’t talk so much. They hate the talkers. They can SMELL the talkers.

9.  While not talking in your cab, pick a window to your right or left and stare that direction. If you try to read, you’ll probably vomit….which is way worse than talking…and if you watch where you’re going, you may gasp aloud in fear…also worse than talking.

10.  Make $3,000,000 a year to support your New Yorkish lifestyle, or go home.

Shoot. Guess I’m going home to work on Plan B.

It was magical. And I’ll be back.