Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Bubbies!

This blog is not intended to be a documentation of our life as a family, but there will be some exceptions and this happens to be one of them.



Today my baby boy turned two.  This seems unbelievable until I find him standing on the kitchen table with the toilet brush in one hand and then there is no denying.  Emerson is two.  He has balanced out our princess filled home with trucks, trains, and Toy Story. 



To celebrate his big day, he made a call to 911, smacked his sisters and kicked the dog.  When I sing him Jesus Loves Me before bed, he now lifts his head from my shoulder looks me nose to nose and whispers "Shh!  No. Don't sing dat."  He then proceeds to tell me what to sing. Tonight he requested "Happy Birthday" for the tenth time today.



 
Emerson is a kid who hates change (much like his big sister).  He has a temper that can clear Target on a Saturday and a vocabulary that keeps us constantly amazed.  Not to mention, a smile that melts my heart!



From the first days Emerson was born, people would ask me if it felt different to have a boy.  Not really.  He's a baby.  Same as the other two. But as he neared his first birthday, something changed.  This little brown eyed boy pulled strings in my heart that had never been tugged at before.  Suddenly, I understood.  I can't put it into words.  There is no way to explain how this adorable little boy, who creates so much chaos, can pull so tightly on my heart, but he does. 


I always thought the saying "Mama's boy" was about the boy.  Now I know it's really about the Mama.  That boy is mine.  Toilet brush and all.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Twilight Zone

Today was a "Me" day.  Twice a month an angelic women (whose name I will not give for fear that you will steal her from me) watches my maniacs from 9:30 am to 3 pm free of charge. I have no idea why she would offer such a thing, but I'm not digging.  You never know when she may realize the error of her ways.  Up until this fall, these "Me" days were unplanned.  I would run errands ALONE, shop ALONE, have lunch with friends ALONE, stare off into space in complete silence ALONE.  You know, all the things moms put on their bucket lists.  It was glorious.

Then this fall I decided to sacrifice my "Me" days to work in Paige's classroom.  You can hold your applause.  I get plenty around here.  You see, Paige is a quality time kid and I saw this as an opportunity to give her some of my undivided attention.  Plus, that laminated "Volunteer" name badge makes me feel important.  So instead of having 5 1/2 hours to myself, I have exactly 1 hour to do everything before I need to be at school.  Everything usually amounts to a quick grocery trip. And I do mean QUICK! 

Today, however, in an effort to make this week a complete educational bust, our school was cancelled.  Seriously, a holiday, a delay, and a cancellation in three days??  Anyway, despite our school situation, my Angel phoned to say that she would still be happy to take the kids for the afternoon.  Can you hear the Hallelujah chorus?!

At 12:30 I dropped off all three kids and made my way to Meijer where I purchased a Grande Low-Fat Upside down Caramel Macchiato.  I then proceeded to meander the aisles sorting through coupons and snagging deals.  Life is good.  That is, until I entered the soup aisle.

Now, I am not an impatient shopper by nature.  I am courteous, forgiving, and all smiles most of the time.  And when I entered the aisle to find a women in a motorized cart filled to the brim balancing a very large dog bed on top all while clearing an entire shelf of canned soup, I just waited patiently until she was done.  And then when the woman behind me had her motorized cart blocking the entire selection of chicken broth, I waited for her to finish before grabbing my items.  Then as I found myself trapped between her cart and her friends cart, I tried to stay calm.  By the time I zig-zagged past them at the cookies, I was ready to keep my distance. 

I turned the corner into the cereal aisle found a place to park my cart and scanned the sales still a bit annoyed by the hassle of the soup aisle.  And then it happened.  Down the cereal aisle came two motorized carts carrying a husband and wife.  As they passed me arguing over how much coleslaw mix to buy, I began to think on the odds of having this many scooters in the store, but before the thought could really take hold, two MORE came rolling towards me.  As I watched the parade of 4 driving down the aisle, it took everything in me not to let out an audible laugh.  Instead, I shook my head and said to myself "Erin, you have entered the twilight zone. Proceed with caution."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Finally

When I left Taylor, I got married and had a baby within 2 years.  This wasn't an accident.  The baby wasn't either.

I loved my little family.  It was everything I had ever wanted.  Yet very quickly I realized that I was alone.  I had my husband, my baby and my family, but my friends where suddenly miles away (both physically and personally).  None of them had babies.  Heck, few of them were married.  They had jobs, boyfriends and graduation.  I had diapers, laundry and grocery shopping.  I had taken an early exit and they were still heading down the highway.

The closest of those friendships soon became my focus obsession.  I needed a best friend.  I was hanging on for dear life and in turn choking the living daylights out of her.  To expect one person to be everything is never fair.  Unfortunately, I couldn't see that.  My quest to keep a best friend was doing the very opposite.  Soon, we were over.  Yet another item to add to the list of "Things I Would Change".

God must have known that I was unable to make this one-on-one thing work, because through the most random of events, I found myself smack dab in the middle of a mom's group/playgroup/gimme the coffee I've been up all night group.  These seven women were a breath of fresh air. Our mornings together offered more than a distraction from the day to day (though that in itself would have been enough).  They offered encouragement, advice, laughter, compassion, and friendship.  For 5 years, once a week, eight women sat in a living room scattered with toys, sippy cups and pacifiers sipping coffee while 16 children around us.  Our husbands often asked, "Is it worth it?"  The answer always rang the same. "YES!"  Those mornings will live in my heart for all time.  These women walked through the trenches with me. 

More recently, I have found myself in a bible study small group that has called my bluff, kicked my butt, and offered no apologies.  They have also picked me up, carried my load, and dried my tears.  I think I remember a bit of laughter and sex talk as well.  Sorry mom and dad.  That was inappropriate.  Seriously though, we have a good time.  They encouraged me to write this blog on a day when I wanted nothing to do with it and they support my efforts even when I'm not sure they should.  They offer balance to my life when I offer mayhem.

For the first time in my life, I know that I have friends.  More importantly, I am committed to being a good friend.  Somedays insecurities still get the best of me and sometimes I still expect to much, but I hope that I am approaching my relationships with less pressure.  I want to value the matchlessness of each relationship instead of longing for inclusiveness.  I don't know if I'll ever be able to fix the relationships that I have ruined, but I'll never stop trying.  If I can come this far, anything's possible.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Joy Abounds

Whew!  Glad to be moving on and in turn...up. 

In the fall of 2000, I moved car load of belongings into Hauser Hall on the TUFW campus a mere 20 minutes from my parents house.  Crazy, right?  I might agree with you. But I can't.  Every penny that I spent to live in that tiny dorm room was worth it and the friendships that formed inside those cinder block walls are priceless. 

I only lived on campus for one year.  I only attended Taylor for 3 semesters.  In that time there were camping trips, heart to heart talks, midnight Stake-n-Shake runs, pranks (mostly mine), heartbreak, crushes, a trip to San Fransisco, and loads of laughter.  My roommate and I were often confused for sisters/cousins/childhood friends though we had never met before that sticky day in September.  Our neighbors across the hall and next door were nothing less than exactly what I needed.  These friendships were easy.  They challenged me.  They laughed with me.  They loved me.  And I loved them. 

Our lives have taken twists and turns. Some of those friends I haven't talked to in years.  Some I see regularly.  In either case, I am grateful that my life was touched by theirs.  They taught me the joy of friendship. 

Last week I had dinner with two of those dear friends.  We talked about motherhood, marriage, bible study, and life.  Then we laughed until we cried.  Right in the middle of the Children's Place. Over absolutely nothing.  Because that's what we do. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Ugly Early Years.....

In order to tell you about high school, I need to begin in college. (I know that's backward, but hang with me.)  During my first month at Taylor, someone said something that would forever change me.  I have no idea who made the comment or why they felt compelled to speak.  What I do know is that for whatever reason, this person looked me in the eyes and simply stated "You're so nice."  That may not sound like a life altering statement to you, but it rocked my world.

You see, all of the sudden I realized that NO one had ever said that about me.  Now, I'm sure that my parents or family friends had uttered the words, but my high school "friends" had never. What was more alarming was that, in that instant, it all became perfectly clear.  I wasn't nice.  I wasn't outright mean, but I wasn't nice.  I was disapproving, self righteous, and critical. I expected everyone else to live by my standards and I offered them no grace or love.

There were very few who withstood the wrath of my convictions.  Everyone knew where I stood on nearly every issue and I didn't even have to say a word, the condemnation was written all over my face. I was a resounding gong (1Cor. 13) and no one wants a gong at their party. 

I wish I could apologize to each person who received my judgement instead of love. I wish I could tell them that I missed the boat.  That I should have loved them just like my Savior loves me. I wish I could tell them just how wrong I was and just how sorry I am to have missed an opportunity to show them the love of Christ. 

I am thankful for the few friends who loved me in spite of myself.  For those who stuck around to see me into adulthood.  Mostly, I am thankful that God doesn't need lousy old me.  I am grateful that he covers my mistakes and loves me right where I am.  Ugly and all.

Coming soon

As some of you may already know, I have vowed to "find" my friends this year.  I'm not sure exactly what went wrong, but somehow over the past four months I have completely lost touch with nearly every friend.

My quest got an early start and is continuing on a decent pace, but all of this friend finding has me in a reflective mood..  These dear women that I am rediscovering are treasured gifts that I do not take for granted.   You see, friendship has not always come easily for me.  In fact, at times, it has been intensely painful.

In the next few blog posts I am going to take you through my evolution of friendship.  Our starting place is ugly.  So ugly that I hesitate to begin there.  But I don't read books backwards.  So we will start in the trenches and from there, we will only have one way to climb.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mama's Sick

That's right, you heard it here first.  This mama's SICK!  I have fought off the runny nose-sore throat-head in a vice germs for months on end, but at last I have succumb. 

Of course this misfortune must come on the same day as Ohio State's Bowl Game.  Try as he might, my dear husband has zero ability to hear ANYTHING that is happening when a football game is on.  Trust me.  I banged quite a few dishes around in the kitchen.  I even sighed loudly as I carried laundry in to fold.  Still...nothing.  He really does mean well.  He attempted to help with bedtime, but all three of those ankle bitters insisted on "mommy" putting them to bed.  He told me to go to bed as soon as he got home, but really?  Can you imagine what the house would look like by morning??? 

I could have asked for help.  I should have asked.  Isn't that what my mother has been hammering into my head for the past 9 years?  "He doesn't see what you see.  You have to ask him."  Had I asked, he would have done it all willingly.  What is it about him offering to help?  Someday I will get over my pride and just ask.  For now... I will sip my tea, blow my nose and lay on the couch until I inevitably dose off to sounds of scarlet and grey.  Maybe tomorrow I'll let Starbucks make my tea.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Focus

My mom was one of “those” moms.  You know.  Their the ones that dread the beginning of school, the ones who live for every moment of school vacations, the ones who cringe when “other” moms cheer for school to begin.  She can’t help it.  It’s who she is.  Since childhood, I have wanted nothing more than to be just like her.  To be a mom who LOVES her job.  Last December, my dreams came crashing down around me.  Or so it seemed.

You see, the two weeks of Christmas vacation were pretty much the worst two weeks of my mothering history.  Just a few months before, I had cried my eyes out as I left my tiny six-year-old standing alone in a Kindergarten classroom.  OK, she wasn’t technically alone, but it felt that way.for both of us.  By the end of December, she was not only comfortable, she was settled.  Two weeks away from her routine was not in her plans and she intended on making that perfectly clear.  There’s a reason teachers don’t give out their home phone numbers.  This was it.

As I counted down the days, I cursed the mom that I had become.  This was not the mom who raised me.  This was some “other” mom.  I had no desire to make the most of these days I was just trying to survive the noise level.  Memories were out of the question.  All I could think about was getting her back to school.  My kids deserve better than that.  I just wasn’t sure I could give it to them.

This year as Christmas break draws to a close.  I am reflecting on “that” mom and realizing that maybe she had it all wrong.  After two weeks of Christmas, ice skating, shopping, family traditions, laughter, and very few fits, we are ready for routine.  We have had a blast, but now it is time to get back on schedule.  My longing is not to rid myself of my kids, but to regain the normalcy of life.  Just like at the end of every vacation, I am ready for my own bed.

So what if the difference was simply my focus?  What if instead of longing for school, I long for routine?  While that may seem inconsequential, I believe it is essential.  My focus will affect my attitude and my attitude always affects my parenting.  Today as all three of my kids played “parade” up and down the hall all the while singing the Dreidel Song at the top of their lungs over and over and over again.  I just had to laugh.  My kids are not the issue, it’s my schedule.  Day after day of flying by the seat of your pants will wear a person out both at 2 and at 29.  Routine gives us stability.  It keeps us from completely losing ourselves in the chaos of life.  I will always long for the routine after vacation and I think that’s OK.  Turns out, my mom feels the same way.