mortifying siblings


We love our brothers and sisters. We truly do. Still sometimes nothing embarrasses us more making us want to crawl into a hole pulling the dirt up over us sometimes as our siblings do…because, oh gawd, because they do. Especially at school. Especially when EVERYONE at school KNOWS they are your sister or brother.

Um, sis, did you NOT wash your face this morning?

OMG! Why are you dressed like me? Can you just not stand next to me?

Oh, hey. Hi.

I don’t know how you can possibly be my sister. Really. Can you just walk away? Now? Please? I swear to gawd, I’m gonna tell mom if you don’t.

Her? My sister? I have no idea who she is.

Would you believe that this is the first time since 1997 where I have only ONE child in school? School starts next week and honestly I do believe that I am going to need at least a week, if not more, to come to terms with that reality.

 

when I find myself in times of trouble


Sometimes life is just not much fun which I explain to my young adult children is why it sucks to be a grownup. I told them when they were younger too but they never listened then as children anxious to be grown up never do.

Today was one of those days where life pressed down a little too hard…a migraine…the eye twitchy thing…worrying about work (or lack of) and finances and a broke-ass car that we can’t afford to replace but replace we must and my kids (as their mom I always do worry every damn day because I’m their mom, dammit!)…dealing with my brother’s texts full of lectures and fears about Mommy Dearest’s colonoscopy because routine is never a reality for them which only served to amp up the eye twitchy thing into hyper-drive…and a scary-assed, WTF-is-happening-around-us, near miss driving from Stockton with my son in the car this afternoon. Quite frankly I just wanted to curl up into a ball and weep and wait for sleep or relief from any of what was pressing down upon me too hard to come.

And then the neighbors came over.

This kind of helps.

Actually it helps a lot.

give them wings


Lindsay, over at Suburban Turmoil, beautifully described an analogy that is not new to any of us that unfolded outside her front window.

And now I miss back home and cardinals because you just don’t see cardinals around here.

She then posed a question on Facebook:

To all of you who’ve raised children to adulthood- Based on your experience, what’s the best advice you can give those of us who’re still in the trenches of parenting?

So much wisdom was shared. And then I added my 2¢ worth because I am the mother of four children over the age of 18. I’m no expert but I somehow managed to get this far so why not offer? After all, she did ask.

Patience, lots of patience. From the time they are walking and talking teach them and expect them to take on self care, taking care of their own things and doing things for themselves.
As they grow and discover their passion and interests know that it isn’t always going to be the same as yours or what you imagine or expect it to be and begin to learn to be okay with that.
Let them fall down or fail sometimes. Then love them and guide them as they get back up and try again.

Not bad considering I was dispensing such wisdom while standing in line at Safeway on stop number four of today’s errands, which my 12 year old, who accompanied me,  was cool with during stop number one. As I was trying to form a coherent thought to share, he was making sure that I knew he was over my errands. And it was then that I remember why it was I rarely took his older siblings with me on errands once they were too big for the baby sling.

Clearly I need to work even more on the patience. I can’t imagine that I will ever have the patience that it takes to be an extraordinary mom. Still I press on.

But I have managed to nurture and teach these clowns how to take care of themselves. They can do a pretty good job at it too. Some of them are so good at it they are taking very good care of others too. I can thank the time I spent with other people’s high school aged children years ago for the inspiration that someday my kids would know how to keep track of their own toothbrush, do their own laundry, hang up their own clothes, clean their own room, pick up their own prescriptions from the drug store, carry their own suitcase, yada, yada, yada. Sure I failed at teaching them how to bargain shop because Safeway time was “me time” but they have managed just fine because they have come to realize that yes, they can take care of themselves.

The learning that their passions and interests are not always the same as mine has been an education yet surprisingly not nearly as hard to accept as I imagined that it would be. Well, after I accepted the passion that Hollie chose to pursue because suddenly parenting her wasn’t nearly as exhausting when I was watching her do and create and beautify the way that she does. It actually was kind of exhilarating. Added bonus is she makes me look good. These adult children of mine are really just barely getting started still I am working hard at just cheering them on as they chase those dreams, explores those interests and live those passions. Theirs are not mine. They shouldn’t be. Not ever. Still I get to passively live them with my adult children and my world opens up even more.

The hardest part of all has been letting them fall or fail. I am a parent of millennials. Any good parent of millennials would never, ever let their precious angel baby fall or let anyone fail them ever…no, not ever! I’m not really a very good parent of millennials still how could I possibly just stand there and watch them fall?

Right?!

But I do.

I have. I probably have Daniel’s former physical therapist to thank for being brave enough to do just that. But just like when they were wobbly toddlers, they somehow manage to get back up again and again and again. And I praise them because they did it all on their own. I also quietly heave a sigh of relief because I am still mom.

I’m sorry dear parents in the trenches, it doesn’t get any easier even as the nest empties. It’s a lot quieter. There is (sometimes) less laundry. You learn not to cook as much for dinner every night. You answer every phone call, every text, every FaceTime and you hold yourself back and mostly just listen because, more than anything, that is what they need.

Hard?

Hell yes, it’s hard.

How much easier it would be for me to lecture them, tell them what they are doing wrong, what they should do, what they could have done.

But I gave them those wings; wings that were made to fly. So I take a deep breath, I say a prayer, I bite my tongue and sometimes I shut my eyes tight as they do just that. They fly.

Today’s reward:

Clearly I’m not the only one impressed with the magic she makes.

 

 

yes, I’m grateful


Because the opportunity becomes more and more rare now that 4 of my 5 children are considered by the world to be grown-assed adults, anytime I have the five clowns in one place and appearing to be somewhat put-together (hair and makeup for the girls) I must take their picture of the five of them together.

They know.

They usually are prepared.

So that when I grab my camera and say, “Kids! Get together, please.“, they quickly do. The children of the mamarazzi are pros at indulging their camera-armed mama this way.

How else would I be able to get a shot like this?

I look at it and I can’t help but feeling a lot of love. This. This is good. Oh, and I have the best, damn looking family!

True story.

I want to say I am blessed. I feel like I am blessed. Quite a few people tell me that I am blessed when I share this picture on Facebook because I just have to share the most recent picture of all five of my kids together because the last one of all five of them together is from over a year ago! Five beautiful, smiling, healthy people I call my children, how could I not consider myself blessed?

But I hesitate just a little.

I recently read a piece written by Scott Dannemiller that basically calls out Christians for the over-use of the word blessed, especially in reference to the material good fortune that some enjoy. No, I am by no means a good Christian at all…anymore. I haven’t been to church for over five years for so many reasons. Still I too consider myself to be “blessed”

  • that my husband is working regularly…finally
  • for when I get to work and am not cancelled because of low census and my per diem by choice status
  • for the home that we have…the white-walls, rental property that we call home. It’s likely that we will never, ever be home owners again but, be it ever so humble, we have a home
  • for my car, my 8 year old car…at least we have one reliable vehicle that the circus living under this Big Top can count on.
  • for so, so many material goods that we have to enjoy and play with here under the Big Top.
  • for a stocked pantry, refrigerator and freezer even if the clowns living here still wail that THERE’S NOTHING TO EAT!!!

Sometimes it feels like we don’t have much and that we are far from prosperous but the reality is that we are so rich, so much more rich than so many literally anywhere else in the world or even down by Library Park here in Manteca.

Yes, we are bles…wait a minute! Dannemiller has a point, a very good point. What makes me more special than those who don’t have a home, a car, a job, a stocked pantry and refrigerator with not-so delicious-good stuff to eat?

Nothing.

Nothing at all.

Read his essay.

Think about it.

But kids are not material. No, of course not. Still my kids are all pretty happy, healthy, beautiful, smart and talented individuals. It might be easy to say that yes, I am blessed.

But…

So I am more blessed than the friend who is struggling just to get pregnant and has suffered multiple pregnancy losses? God loves me more? Seriously? Me?!

Three of my children have literally come thisclose to death but to imply that we are blessed because they didn’t die insults dear friends of ours who have buried their babies, their precious children. Not a day goes by where I don’t give thanks that Zoë pretty much walked away from getting hit by that truck. Watching Jodie dance I almost always cry thinking what could have happened five years ago. And Daniel…my life, my passion, my career is caring for tiny babies born with slim odds of survival and positive outcomes and mine is one of the positive ones, one of the truly lucky ones…I HAVE to be thankful for that. I am! Every day! I am so very thankful! But to say that I am blessed, that my children are would imply that God favors us more than my friend whose son who woke one morning with a raging headache and was dead by dinner time from meningococcal meningitis…or my dear friend who is grieving as the anniversary of her preemie baby’s death at age 6 months while still in the NICU is approaching.

I seriously doubt God loves me or my children more than them. Trust me, I am by no means more faithful nor more Christ-like.

No.

I am not blessed.

But I am fortunate…lucky…so damn lucky.

I am grateful.

Yes.

new and adorable


There is nothing more adorable than a brand new baby…and the brand new parents. Everything is shiny, new, perfect, clean and sweet smelling. Oh that new baby smell! Then they burp and puke and fill their diaper with the most foulness that is literally twice their body weight. How is that even possible?

Still babies are amazing and the newness of them and their parents discovering it all is oh so adorable. Like how the newbie parents I know with their perfectly precious babies have discovered all things breastfeeding and babywearing and cloth diapering. I mean how did the parents before them…their parents and grandparents… manage before these awesome things? A new parent I know literally said that recently.

?

Oh you brand new parents! Y’all are absolutely precious!

Some of you I have known since you were kids yourselves. You know, back in the day when I seemed to be always pregnant or carrying a baby around…in my baby sling…when they weren’t attached to my breast like that one I nursed until right before she turned FOUR YEARS OLD. I’m pretty certain that my sister in law believed me when I joked that I was going to continue to breastfeed her right up until she graduated from high school. I was dead-pan serious when I told her that in answer to her question, “How long are you going to keep doing that?” And when I wasn’t babywearing or breastfeeding those babies of mine I was cloth diapering them with real SAFETY PINS. What can I say, some of my parenting peers and I were way ahead of our time. We were kind of hard core too because safety pins.

Erm, actually no.

To the generation or two before me I apologize for being certain that my baby parenting style of babywearing, cloth diapering, co-sleeping, breastfeeding was something we parents of the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s invented because, OMG, I was pretty obnoxious about it all, wasn’t I?

Note to the generation before me, this is likely one of the only times I will apologize about my early parenting know-it-all obnoxiousness so savor it while you can.

Now don’t stress my dear newbie parents. I’m not judging you or poking fun at you. I’m just observing and realizing that I was pretty much the same way. I think it is part of the process of figuring out what kind of parent we are going to be and feeling confident in who that is in spite of the grandparents’ well-meaning critiques. Sorry newbies, they never really stop that even when you have somehow managed to raise a human up to be an adult who makes an honest contribution to society…or makes human babies of their very own.

I know. It kind of sucks.

But you did invent this new cloth-diapering style with those sweet little fancy wraps and baby wearing amazing wraps for every day of the week that coordinate with your hipster wardrobe and co-sleeping and breastfeeding and everything else awesome that you are doing for your little ones. I know that you believe this all to be true. It’s okay for you to believe that because there are some exhausting days and sleep-deprived nights where it will seem like that is the only truth you can cling to in order to reassure yourself that you are doing this parenting thing right.

You ARE doing this parenting thing right.

You also might cling to the novel idea that it’s going to get better and so much easier when they are older and can mostly take care of themselves. Then, at long last, you shall sleep…like babies.

Oh you adorable parents of young ones who long for when they are older & can do things for themselves so you can relax and sleep well.

Heh!

You have no clue.

Absolutely no clue.

You think you do.

But you don’t.

Those grown and nearly grown beautiful children of yours go out and sometimes make bad choices. Of course sometimes they don’t because of your amazing parenting skills but they are still out and it is late. Are you beginning to understand now why years ago I declared to darling daughter #1, Hollie, that the car had a curfew even if she was 18 and an adult? One night she came home, bringing the car home in time for curfew and offered that I didn’t have to wait up for her. I immediately answered back that yes I did. Nineteen year old Hollie would never understand that yes I did because though she be all grown up and an adult, she was still my baby girl and how in the world was I supposed to sleep like a new baby if she was out and about town?

How?!

I think mother-of-two-little-girls Hollie might begin to understand…soon…as soon as her girls let her have an uninterrupted night’s sleep. I know that big sister Hollie definitely understands.

Meanwhile, there isn’t enough coffee to get through today after last night’s epic bad choices because part of becoming a grownup sometimes involves making such mistakes…the kind you’ll likely never, ever make again and the kind that you will never, ever let the children you might have in the future (the distant future) ever even try to make.

Good luck with that.

Excuse me, I’m going to pour myself another cup of coffee.