Here and Now

My Boys 

I once had a career in the exciting field of public safety as a 911 operator/dispatcher. It was a chaotic, stressful, unbelievably demanding career that absolutely thrilled me! Every time I went to work, put that headset on, and answered the call, I knew that I was born for it. The job was designed just for me, and I wanted to continue in the position for many years to come.

It wasn’t meant to be.

I miss the days of employment with “my” officers, working hard to get them information as quickly and efficiently as possible. I still have dreams (nightmares?) of answering phones, toning paramedics, and closing radio channels for emergency traffic. I still get irritated when a phone goes unanswered after two rings. I feel disappointment when I hear stories of pursuits that I couldn’t be a part of, although this might not be a sane reaction to such a thing. There are many days when I long to put on my headset again, listen to that slight white noise in between calls, try to manage bathroom breaks, and talk to people in their worst moments to see if I might be able to make their difficult times any better. To see if I might be a part of saving their day. To bear witness with them in their darkest moments, and let them know they aren’t alone.

But God has given me a new task.

I must admit, I haven’t been all that graceful about taking on the role of Homemaker. Coming from adrenaline-filled days full of mayhem to ones filled with dirty diapers, 1st grade homework, and snotty noses has been a huge transition for me. I’m no longer fighting off panic and disaster – I’m scaring away boredom and hunger pains. I haven’t done especially well with my own company. And although talking to oneself seems to be a natural side effect of dispatching, it has grown worse with “Mommy Brain.”

Now, with the routine of dishes to be done and laundry to be washed, with dinners to plan and soccer practices beginning, with an eight month old who wipes baby food or drools all over every item of clothing I put on him…I feel a familiar feeling.

These are MY boys. I will do anything to protect them. I will give up whatever is necessary to get them what they need. I will go without meals, hurry through bathroom breaks, work through all the emotions of the day – just to be sure they are cared for while they are with me. One day, I won’t have my baby boy to cuddle with or stare at while he sleeps. One day, my seven year old will stop blowing me kisses as he shuffles backwards from the car to the school door. One day, I will miss all of this boring routine.

One day, it will hit me just as hard as my last day of dispatching did. My boys will watch out for each other. They will keep each other as safe as possible. Even when I can’t be there to help. Especially when I can’t be.

But in the here and now, I will strive to do my best work. I will be present.

I will cherish every moment. 

Boy: A noise with dirt on it.

Recently, Lil Man disappeared with two of his neighborhood friends after they were told to stay in the front yard where I could see them. I followed the sounds of little boys laughter and rough housing until I located them in the alleyway behind our home, down a ways near the empty lot they like to play soccer on.

Much to my horror and amusement, two of the boys were inside of a large dumpster and the third was doing his very best to hoist them up and out of their predicament – to no avail. Their expressions were determined as they tried to find a way to get free, and soon became a mix of terror and relief when they saw me approaching them with the baby on my hip.

“We just needed that box and a wood board for our ramp!”

“It was my idea, they just said okay and wanted to help!”

“Look! I got it, Mama!! I wasn’t scared at all, and I knew I could climb in.

…I didn’t think I’d get stuck though…”

They all talked at once, covering each other’s words – his friends desperately trying to keep him out of trouble while Lil Man proudly declared his part in it all, incriminating himself beyond where I had found him. In a dirty, old dumpster. Far away from the front yard. In the busy alley that I have several times before told them all to stay out of without an adult…

I had a terrible time being stern with them, giggling to myself at the whole ordeal and trying to get past the amazement I felt. They were all informed of the unpleasantness found in dumpsters, and told of the painful ways you can deglove a finger (as well as other injuries.) In the end, however, I allowed Lil Man to help with the ramp-building, and testing said ramp out after it was completed.

He promised to never dumpster dive again, and had a steaming hot shower.

…And was promptly grounded an hour later when I had to hunt him down again, since he didn’t ask to leave the yard as we discussed him doing only a short time before. (Don’t blink, people! That’s all the time it takes!)

*sigh* It’s a difficult thing to encourage exploration and discovery while still maintaining as safe an environment as possible. These boys are gunna give me a heart attack…

Smarts

This past Friday was parent/teacher conference day for us, and Lil Man is excelling in everything except knowing when to keep his mouth closed and listen. (Our social little guy often distracts his classmates!) His teacher will be giving him more challenging work to do, and she praised his ability to think outside of the box. While we need to help him focus on doing his best work as opposed to hurrying through everything, he comprehends the work needed and the results are correct…albeit sloppy.

But how does one teach focus when it comes to mundane tasks or distant goals? We’ve talked about it many times, about schoolwork and soccer and numerous daily tasks. He has the mental idea of “focus”, but struggles to put it into practice as he flits from one activity to the other.

“The world,” he says, “is just too interesting!”

The battle has been to show him that focusing on one task right now will help him learn and grow, so that he can reach any goal in the future and explore all the world over! It’s a foreign concept for him to think about – that if he learns focus with this little step, he will have focus on the ultimate goal even when distractions come.

But, I think it’s starting to make sense to him.

This last soccer game didn’t go too well. The boys worked hard in the first half, and then almost gave up in the second. The opposing team played tough! But we lost our will to keep fighting, and you could see it in their poor, tired faces. After some discussion, I asked Lil Man, “How could you become a better teammate?”

He thought for a minute before answering, “By trusting my team, and having more focus on the ball.”

And there it was! One of the moments today that made my heart swell with pride for my six-almost-seven-year-old boy, who wants so badly to be the best at everything, all on his own! In that small sentence, he acknowledged the need to rely on others, and showed me that he figured out how to put into practice those lessons about focus.

Now, I need to work on my own trust and focus issues so that I can be a good example for him to follow…

 

“Trust in The Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

Cereal and Sweet Potatoes

Eager to try his hand at what he sees everyone else doing, my (almost) five-month-old has decided it’s time for solid foods. A few weeks ago, we introduced him to a new world of food-variety with the basic: milky oatmeal cereal. He anticipated every spoonful – he just wanted more and more! He couldn’t wait to get his hands on the utensil for himself!

…Even after the traumatic event of choking himself on that little green spoon.

 

We regained control of the offending object, scooped up a little more of the oatmeal concoction, and dutifully flew the next bites right into that adorable mouth-cave.  Meal time is always an adventure in this house! But we just added a whole new dynamic to our dinner table…

Tonight, we had mashed sweet potatoes with our assorted other food items, so I made Bubby his own special bowl to see what he thought of the seasonally-colored root. He sat with his usual anticipation, bib in place and eyes following my every move, until he tasted that first bite. His poor, little face squished up in confusion as his taste buds realized, “Whoa. This is different!” He gave himself a moment to think about it, and came to the conclusion that this was an acceptable flavor. He ate a few more bites before he made that face again, which made the rest of us chuckle, but he finished it in the end!

Pretty soon, he’s going to want to steal everything on my plate…

 

And, occasionally, he likes to eat people’s faces.

(I think it may be a kiss. But Big Brother isn’t so sure! …Dad might not be either…😉)

 

Just Hold Me

“I’m not strong. I’m tired of being told I’m strong. Just for once, I would like to be as weak as I feel.”  – Unknown

“Maybe home is just two arms, holding you tight when you’re at your worst.”  – Unknown

“The Lord is my strength and my shield.” – Psalm 28:7

I was leaving town. I had, in most parts of my life, given up. I no longer wanted to struggle through each day in this small city with nowhere to go but deeper into my despair and loneliness. I didn’t have any desire to work those twelve hour shifts to keep a roof over my young son’s head or food in his mouth, providing for his most basic needs but unable to give him my time. I was becoming more cynical and angry as each day passed. I was tired. And I didn’t like the “me” I was turning into.

So, I was running away from here to there. To the place where my mama lived, where the trees were green and water was abundant. I had a flight scheduled, house hunting planned, and a career opportunity all lined up.

And then, there he was.

A conversation, a smile, a quiet strength. An acknowledgement and acceptance of who I was as a whole, not just one aspect. A sense of humor that lifted my spirits and a persistence that told me, “You are worth it.”  An example of the Father who loves me more deeply than I will ever be able to realize.

 My husband is the perfect human for me. He’s the man I am meant to walk beside, through the good, bad and ugly in life. We have arguments, we have laughter, we have pain…and then healing. Life has thrown us a few curve balls in the journey we began together, not so very long ago in the grand scheme of our story, but he’s been my constant and we are learning to move as one. He’s my partner, he has my back.

With him, I am able to let my guard down and “give up” for a bit because I can trust him to keep our family on track while I breathe. I can have my moments of weakness without fear of losing it all, because he shows me the One who has control when the world is overwhelming. He is my example of the One who shields me in His love.

I can relax in his embrace, lay my head on his chest, listen to his heartbeat, and know that I am home.

Needless to say, I stayed where I was so I could get to know this amazing man. And I’m so glad I did.

Oh, The Pumpkins!

I know, I know.

You’ve seen the memes, you’ve heard the stories, you’ve muddled through all the pictures of tiny humans next to pumpkins and hay bales and scarecrows…But you haven’t seen or heard from me about it yet!!

My dearly beloved husband is a big pumpkin spice latte fan. I know, I know – again!
You read that and gasped, thinking, ‘Not him! He’s so…manly!” It’s true, my wonderful husband has a weak spot for the same rich coffee drink that has the “white-girl-in-yoga-pants” stereotype attached to it. But we are all about confidently breaking stereotypes and thoroughly enjoying what we like around here!
He’s been giddy about the weather becoming cooler so he can drink them while wearing a comfortable hoodie and talking with his sweet, peppermint-mocha-drinking wife. Unfortunately, we live in a warmer climate and the cool-down is going a bit slower than in some places. But! That certainly hasn’t stopped him from enjoying the pumpkin-pie-in-a-cup. He just orders them cold!

We recently took our coffee-date on a road trip with the kiddos to a pumpkin patch, continuing a tradition that makes memories for years to come. And, naturally, there were some photos taken to document the memory-making. My phone’s camera stopped working, however, and saved y’all from a plethora of photos filled with pumpkins, latte’s, and adorable faces. (Thanks, I guess…)

One tiny human ran around the plot covered in pallets of orange gourds, put those deemed worthy onto his green wagon before rushing off to another pallet to attempt to pick up the biggest one he thought he could manage. (Yes, pallets of pumpkins on a plot of land. That’s how it’s done here, alright??)
And the tiniest human in our clan was busy knocking a little pumpkin off the shelf on which they both were sitting. Supervised, of course. Although, we were too impressed with his hand/eye coordination to worry about the other little guy getting multiple head injuries due to falls, and kept putting it back on the shelf next to Bubby…

Now that I think about it, our boys were probably trying to make some of that pumpkin pie filling for later. Hmmm.

   

   

Butt-Pains

I knew from the beginning that Lil Man would be an awesome big brother, but I wasn’t totally prepared for how my heart would swell with love and pride as I watched him interact with his Bubby.

He’s been amazingly patient with Bubby, rarely mentioning the crying and enduring the sudden drop in attention gracefully. Lil Man always wants to read to his baby brother, hunts down pacifiers and comforts him, tells his friends to hush up so they don’t wake him. He asks if Bubby could please sleep in his bed…just in case there are monsters under the crib. (He likes to throw out logical reasons as to why we should agree to whatever it is he’s wanting. Its one of his things.)

Recently, however, Lil Man hesitantly told me, “Mommy, baby brothers are kind of a pain in the butt. And sometimes in the head…when he cries so much.” I laughed, and then told him, “You can be kind of a pain in the butt, too, and so can I!” (Maybe not the best thing to say, but it became a teachable moment!)

This prompted a discussion about how we can ALL be “butt-pains” at times, especially on our bad days. And while he was almost certain he’d never been one of those, he agreed that being hungry..or tired..or grumpy-without-reason..or hurt…can make you feel badly and it shows when you act out. Lil Man’s eyes lit up as he realized his frustration was understood and totally normal. He felt the acceptance he needed in that moment, and was able to take the lesson to heart.

We talked about how people, especially babies, don’t usually mean to be butt-pains. Sometimes it just happens in life as we react to the situations we are in or as a result of our needs going unmet. Sometimes, people act like butt-pains because they never learned a different way to handle what they’re going through. I explained that we can’t really change the person who is being a butt-pain, we can only change the way we respond to them in those moments.

This conversation was a good reminder for me to allow God’s grace to guide my response to others instead of acting out of my own hurt and pride. I realize that some butt-pains won’t ever be resolved as the unhealthy behaviors in others continue and escalate into forms of abuse and/or manipulation. But, while I don’t need to allow these things to keep repeating in my life, I can let go of the anger and allow healing to take place so that I can become a healthier version of myself and reflect God’s mercy and love instead of my own bitterness.

My sweet boys are teaching me that there is usually more to learn in every butt-pain moment than there is in the perfectly happy times, and that we should be grateful for both as we walk through our days. Lil Man really loves his Bubby.

Standing

So Much Love