Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Looking Ahead...

I read a wonderful post today that made me think about what I teach my kids. Right now they are mine, but ever so slowly forces are vying for their allegiance. Who will win? An intoxicating culture that revolves around them? A sport that demands everything and promises to fulfill? Or an invisible God that loves them more than I do? I am looking ahead as one mom is looking back. Listen to her heart because it is filled with the wisdom of someone who traveled the road and knows...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Girl Next Door

Actually, she lives down the street. I am not sure what manner of charms she imposed on Toby or if it is just her gloriously shiny blond hair, but he has suddenly become the pre-school version of George Clooney, flaunting three whole years of sophistication around the driveway on his swanky red trike.

He held nothing back. Her eight year old self floated gracefully up on a light purple Schwinn. Something inside him said Toby, she is special. Let her know you are a big kid. So after pointing out that her bike was "pwitty", he reached for the all-time greatest pick-up line anyone under five ever attempted...

"Lexi, do you need to poop? Because I know how to poop in the potty."

Bold move, little buddy. Very bold.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Photo Albums

They are a half-hearted nod to satisfy the unspoken mandate of childhood:

"Thou shalt preserve every memory no matter how insignificant on a four by six square and if you really love your kids in an expensively adorned the heavier the better album."

I have friends with gargantuan books that took hours upon hours of cutting, designing, and gluing to achieve. Special glue, special designs, and special scissors. When all is said and done, the book ends up being about 95% decor from Hobby Lobby and 5% actual photos.

Knowing my distaste for wasted space, I started smaller. Albums with the slidey-inny picture holders and a margin for writing details. If you set the bar low, it is easier to reach, ya know? I trudged through Toby's first year and managed to organize enough photos to account for every season and formally document the most important "firsts". Ughhh. Charlie on the other hand, is approaching his first birthday and the last pictures I officially preserved for him are of his hospital homecoming -- and my mother-in-law had to send them to me because I didn't take any myself. Double ughhh.

Today I had an epiphany. A mother who spends hours cutting and gluing and baubling up an album is probably doing it because it is an expression of herself that she enjoys sharing with her child. Her creativity and thought are scattered all over the book among the ornate papers and specially chosen snapshots. She is leaving a legacy to them that says you were known and you were loved.

I was thinking about a few of my friends that are further down the road, and the legacy they are leaving their children. The stuff that isn't forced out of them to check the box of societal expectation.

My Jen, and her ever-working mind that answers the cool questions to which most moms slap a stock response. Her children know why spider webs have different patterns and what is inside a robin's egg. They traipse around the neighborhood independently, "sciencing" whatever odd plant or insect they discover.

Jerri and her femininity, always knowing just the kind of things to plant in her daughters' hearts to show them they are lovely.

Keri, whose garage is home to more soccer balls than Brazil, spends her summer evenings kicking in the yard with her three kids and husband, laughing and smearing grass stains on joyfully dirty clothes.

Sundie, whose kids are living life with passionate adventure, climbing to the highest branches in the tree, the places most moms would forbid. Her children will never doubt their strength or her trust in them.

For me, I love thinking about my boys. I love reliving our experiences together in my mind and turning them over like precious stones. I love their presence, their smell, their cheeks, their toes.

Toby and Charlie, I know a picture is worth a thousand words, but I hope you will understand why a thousand words is what I am leaving you. This is my legacy, a piece of my soul, and it is crafted with all of the care and thought that I have.

Friday, June 6, 2008


It gets a little annoying.

I can't remember exchanging Toby's personality from pleasantly compliant charmer to compulsively opinionated dictator. Yet here I am with snot streaming down my nose while he separates individual sections of toilet paper into satisfactory squares. No, I won't hurry up, he says as his chubby fingers work to remove a rogue fragment that dangles from the perforated edge much like me to my composure.

I am feeding Charlie a bottle while actually holding him (for a change) and wiping my nose on my shirt sleeve to keep from dripping on his forehead. I just need a real tissue you little OCD Hitler I don't say as I blow my allergy ridden congestion into a Thumbelina sized hanky.

I take the boys walking around the block and Toby must push the stroller. And I must back up. Far away. No not there, over there. Yeah, right there in that grassy, scratchy plant. Stand there and don't think about taking the stroller back. Or collecting your dignity and committing to a well-planned insurgence.

Charlie takes to disdain when he and Toby crawl around on the floor together. Toby, who is curiously adept at assigning sinister motive to unmistakable babyishness, freely tattles and orders and "No's" him until Charlie defaults to some passively simple irritation to counterstrike (if that's possible). Mommy, Chah-wie is twying to take my twains away he says when Charlie playfully explores the bright colored wheels of a red and blue engine with his fingers. No Chah-wie! Charlie stares blankly at him and bangs the train on the table casually, just because.

I imagine him later in life sitting in therapy explaining the angry voice in his head shouting orders as he goes about his daily business sipping espresso or driving to work. No Chah-wie! That's MY mocha latte. Give it to me! Move, Chah-wie I get to dwive the car, its MY turn! he hears until he resigns into a dejected stupor.

At the sandbox we pack damp mounds into plastic molds forming a tractor, a bulldozer, a concrete truck. I relish these times, working together, building and talking, even the windy evening air blowing my hair into tangles. He admires our ingenuity fondly and I think to myself, this is the sweet baby I carried and nursed and snuggled and smooched. His doe eyes look up at me with a hint of wild excitement. Now can I cwash them Mommy? he says like any good tyrant, yellow spade already raised above the sandy masterpieces.

At least he asked.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Running: A Relative Term

Like if you were a slug, a turtle might seem fast.

I am slow and steady too. I get up on running days and double knot my Mizunos with fervor, because how else should I? They don't know that I am no Deena Kastor, blazing a path through the dawn like a whitetail deer. I can lope along the road in the safety of darkness and enjoy the impartiality of it all.

Like if you were a bird, your church would be a hickory tree.

I worship here too. My sanctuary, a hilly stretch of road between grassy undulations of wild Texas fields. I see them when they are still sleepy, eyes blinking open, but not yet stretching and yawning to rise. Their breeze brushes me with onions, and hay, and maybe honeysuckle. Breathing and footfalls are the only song.

Like if you were a tractor, work would be your joy.

Mine is too. My back is wet with sweaty purpose. My legs are swollen with vigorous life. I push them hard, swiftly down the road and they lilt with pleasure. The labor of my breathing is a luxury, my joie de vivre.

When my run is over I stop to walk awhile. The pink dawn bends over the horizon and I drink it like water. This is what I love, my solace.

But it might just be me.