Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Finding My Rainbows

Many of you know that I have often said that I never wanted children. This kind of sounds like an insult to the little babes sleeping peacefully upstairs in their warm beds. This also kind of sounds like an insult to the many loving women I know who were mothers in spirit long before they invited little ones into their homes to raise. My statement was never intended as an insult.

You see, I have chronic insecurity. Somehow I seem to push through and even thrive in spite of it. But, it does stir up a storm of anxiety. Growing up in a controlling and unstable home makes one anxious. It also made me feel completely unqualified to mother. 

I am not denigrating my parents. But the truth is the truth, and my truth is that I was not protected. I was exposed too early to too much. For a time we were nomads. It was when I was around Jack's age. We had a few hard years. These were followed by more hard years although with more geographic stability. 

Freedom arrived in the form of college. I moved away from a hometown where I always felt I wasn't quite enough. Truth be told, I haven't looked back. I just kept moving west. Clemson to Atlanta to Colorado. Trying to outrun myself, my pain. 

As for becoming a mother, I just didn't want the responsibility. Not because I needed to focus on my career, not because it would get in the way of travel time or reading time or bubble bath time. Although, let's face it, kids did end my bubble bath days. No, the responsibility I didn't want was that of their safety. I didn't want to do it unless I could guarantee they would be protected. I wanted their beginning to be different than mine. 

I thought I had reached a point where my children would be safe. We were stable. Money, home, marriage. It all seemed so right. And it was. It is. I guess I just got confused with what I could control and what I couldn't. Or maybe I just needed to learn a few lessons about letting go. 

Gracie was born with hip dysplasia. Really not a big deal unless you are the parent handing your three month old daughter to stranger to cut open. But this experience just about broke my spirit. How was it that I couldn't protect her from this pain. That was two years ago and typing those words still bring tears. That was of course hard because of the work and exhaustion. But my biggest heart break was in the knowing that I had let her down. I had not been able to keep her, so tiny and new, from her first major scar. It felt unnatural and it left a scar on me too. 

I guess I still had some things to learn because my boat wasn't done being rocked. Last year about this time Jack started having fevers. After a few months of undiagnosed fevers our pediatrician suggested that we do blood work. It was during a fever episode and I held Jack close to me while a needle entered his arm and drew out his blood. This was bad. But the worst was yet to come.

The test results showed up online on a Saturday. No doctor to call; only Google to provide information. White blood cell counts were off. Other stuff I had never heard of was high or low. Google just showed up leukemia. I wanted to rip my skin off of my body. Those were the longest 36 hours of my life. On that Monday when I spoke with Jack's doctor she assured me that Google was wrong. We needed to do blood work when Jack was not having a fever in order to confirm a diagnosis. And we needed to wait a few weeks. 

A few weeks passed and Jack had his second blood test. The results were all normal. A rare condition called PFAPA. A fever condition with no real cure and no real long term effects. He is fine. Perfectly fine. Did God hear my desperate prayers and change the outcome? Did he know that I just wanted to keep my babies safe? Did he understand that try as I may I couldn't rip off my skin and that I was stuck in this same old body living out my continued history? Or maybe I just finally learned the lesson. I cannot control it all. 

The lesson that the quality of my mothering is not tied to the quality of my raising. The lesson that my past does not determine their future. The lesson that they are protected by this momma bear. The lesson that illness, heartbreak, falls and mistakes will come to them but I will be there to hold, love and nurture. 

They are safe and I am too. And we, our little foursome, are tight. We are bonded by a force of love and dedication that may not keep all the storms at bay but do keep us looking forward to the rainbows. The decision I thought I would never make are my rainbows in the form of little faces I kiss while they sleep. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Star Wars Obsessed

I am not sure how it happened but over the last six months Jack went from adoring Lightening McQueen and Thomas the Train to idolizing superheroes and Star Wars. Will someone please stop the clock? Time is moving way too fast y'all.

When did this baby

turn into this little boy?

Summer is quickly approaching, well except for all of the snow, but either way school will be out soon. Although Jack only attends preschool two mornings a week, I am very excited to have him home for the summer. Lord help me when he leaves for college.

But anyway, this post is about a little boy's obsession with Star Wars, not a momma trying desperately to pause time and snuggle her growing babies.

Jack's interest started when he discovered four little Star Wars holiday ornaments in my Christmas bin. I wasn't even going to put them on the tree but sweet Jack was so darn excited that I let him hang them.

After that Jack saw his older cousins with Star Wars legos and the rest is history. He was in love. Now, I am weird about television with my kids. I don't let them see the news or adult shows at all. Sports is the only grown-up thing I will have on while they are awake. And even then I have Christian change questionable commercials.

Needless to say, I was delighted when Christian saved two Lego Star Wars movies on the DVR. Jack could watch Star Wars without actually watching Star Wars. A win for all.

My mom sent Jack money for Easter and while usually I put any money presents straight into the kids' savings account, this time I allowed Jack to shop for a toy. He bought his first Star Wars set.

Jack was in heaven. But he was not prepared for the next big Star Wars adventure. Christian showed Jack his Star Wars toys that had been stashed in the basement this entire time. Jack lost his mind. Daddy played Star Wars when he was a little boy. What is more awesome than that?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I Hate Pooh

As a mom, I am constantly searching for which issues matter and which do not. Somehow I decided that potty training and binky weaning do not matter one bit to me. Have a binky and wear diapers until you go off to college. I don't really care.

However, there are a few things that I do not tolerate. Hitting, disrespectful talk, and running away from me in public are my big ones.

Yesterday Jack and I made chocolate chip cookies while Grace napped. I am pretty laid back when I cook with my kids. I let them crack eggs, measure stuff and lick the bowls and spoons. I also always let Jack eat chocolate chips while I am mixing the ingredients.

We were finishing up the baking process and Jack asked for more chocolate chips while I poured him milk. I said no and turned to put the milk in the refrigerator. I heard Jack say, "I hate you."

I turned around to face him with my mean mommy face and sternly asked, "what did you just say to me?"

Jack replied with a scared look on his face, "I said that I hate pooh." Smart boy.

It was hard not to laugh and I didn't address the issue further. I think he got the message from my response. But his creativity did make me smile.

And I guess that is really what parenting is about for me. It isn't about a strict set of rules or severe discipline when a lesson has already been learned. For me, it is about finding ways to teach my children boundaries, respect and self-control. If a mean mommy face and a stern voice stops the behavior then it is a good day for me.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Listen to your Mother

Am I a writer? I sure want to be but I always feel silly when I say it out loud. For goodness sakes! Harper Lee is a writer. Judy Blume is a writer. I am a stay-at-home-mom with a marketing degree.

In January I saw a post on a local mom's group calling for writers to audition for the Listen to your Mother Boulder show. A huge knot formed in my stomach as I emailed to schedule an audition time. What if they thought I was horrible? What if I made a joke of myself? I mean, I write, but am I really a writer?

As soon as I read about the Boulder show I knew the story I wanted to tell. Way back in 11th grade I wrote a simple story about my mom. I knew that version would never cut the mustard. The story poured out but it still wasn't good enough. After five drafts, late night inspiration struck and the story was written.

Interestingly, I wasn't nervous for the audition. After all, I'm not really a writer so what is the harm in trying. But the day the email arrived saying I was chosen for the cast, joy filled me. Someone liked what I wrote. My words made an impact.

However, the day of the first rehearsal, I was nervous. I felt like a little girl dressed in an oversized bridesmaid's dress. What if they made a mistake? What if they didn't actually mean to chose me and just got confused?

The rehearsal was outstanding. The room was filled with women of all ages and one man, a college sophomore. This group is solid. Business owners, professionals, mothers, daughters, mourners and saints. Beauty shared through our written words.

We each read our stories in the order we will present our work during the show. I follow the college student and then a mother of teenagers. Somehow the combination of these two stories left me weeping right before it was time to share my simple little story. We are talking full on ugly cry. The rawness, venerability and love touched my soul.

Truth be told, I was scared to death to read my story. It seemed insignificant in comparison to the magnitude of the words already spoken by the writers in the room. Yet, I read my story and the beautiful people in the room received it with loving grace.

I am humbled to be a part of this group of talented writers. The stories shared are beautiful. Each one captures a moment about being a mom, loving a mom, or just trying to survive childhood with a mother. They are funny, sad, hopeful and extremely honest and real.

Am I a writer? I am still not sure, but in that room on that night I sure felt like one.

If you are interested in hearing these fabulous stories, visit The Dairy Center website to buy your ticket for the Mother's Day show. The show is May 12 at 7:00 p.m. Bring a friend and tissue and share in this exciting experience.

Monday, April 1, 2013

My Easter Loves

Easter is one of my favorite holidays. This is mainly because it is in the spring and when Easter arrives I know I have made it through another Colorado winter. Here are a few pictures of my Easter loves.

Happy Easter!