These Are The Days

This is a selfie (did I really just use that word?) I took on a casual run while the kids were at school. It was a nippy, but gorgeous Friday morning and I felt amazing! I’ve learned never to take these runs for granted; I’ve been injured so many times, I now know better.

And this is me wearing a back brace only days later. Because I know running is not sustainable, I often try to get into other things. So I tried out barre. And I threw out my back. It was an awful week of pain and I will never go back. Must we all simply lift weights? I want a more fun option. I just want to run and hike and play. Do I really have to make my bones stronger? Ugh.

And so…Barnes and Noble is our literal haven in times of trouble.

Two weeks later and the pain is minimal. Don’t get me wrong, it was TERRIBLE for days. I could hardly move, so even a walk sounded dreamy. Also, something awful happens to my brain when I get hurt. I think it’s called depression or something. I start researching vitiligo and seeing pictures of my future and it’s all downhill from there. I think the best part of feeling physically better is getting back outside. Being outside is tricky for me because of the sun, but winter is kind to me.

This morning my children slept until 7:30, nothing short of a miracle, and I found myself already feeling nostalgic for this sweet time when we don’t have to rush to school in the morning. Every morning after breakfast, the kids play in the living room. I drink my coffee and load their backpacks while they get along or argue (or both). Slowly but surely, they get dressed and I do too. We often make it out the door with enough time to swing by the little free library. None of this is special, but it’s what I will remember. I will remember the crazy house we drive by 3 months out of the year (because that’s how long it takes them to put up and take down their 25,000 decorations). I will remember lingering at the SHPC playground after pick up because we have nowhere else to be. We are living slow right now. My house is wreck, I may never be caught up on laundry and I have no clue what I’m cooking for dinner. But, man, I love my kids. I love that Brooks is a Lego-maniac and Sabra quite possibly knows more about dinosaurs than her brother at this point. I love that Sabra pretends she knows the words to songs and just blurts out sounds. I love that Brooks is off-roading on his bike and that he and his sister will play out back until the sun goes down (note: adult must be present for outdoor play). The days have been long, but they are coming to a close. Elementary school is around the corner and life is about to shift. BUT, we still have about 8 more months, so we will soak it up until then!

 

My Monet

Here’s what I have learned about my son. Brooks Williams does best when he has zero information. For instance, when he asks what is on the agenda for the day, it is better if I shrug and say I’m not sure rather than give him the rundown.  Spencer just texted me: “Taking B hunting after we go camping. Don’t tell him.” This is similar to me not letting him know that I’ve signed him up for art this spring.

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We started back to preschool today after a lengthy three-week break, but the Monday art class does not begin for another two weeks. It does me no good to let him know that he will be part of this class ahead of time. This is a boy who draws and crafts every chance he gets. He will forgo TV to color hour upon hour and gets giddily amped up at whatever the special craft is that Grandma’s concocted for her weekly visit. You would think a kid like this would be dying to do an art class (and I already know he will love it), but this is one curve-ball of a kid. Every time we think he’s going to love something, he hates it. And when we are sure he’ll throw in the towel after five minutes, he pushes through an hour. In the end, we’ve learned that the build-up and anticipation are not our friend. For whatever reason, it’s his biggest turn-off.

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This picture came up on my Facebook page yesterday and it caught my attention for two reasons.

  1. My lips are sealed.
  2. I am young enough to give bangs a legitimate shot.

I have no children at the time of this photo. I want them, but it won’t happen for a while. Whatever tricks I have to make it through the sticky stuff at the point somehow won’t work on my future children. Because they are so unique, each their own puzzle. The pieces of Brooks’ puzzle were dumped out onto our table almost 6 years ago and it continually amazes me how we may think a piece goes along the side, but then we realize it’s a key bottom piece. We have 18,000-piece puzzle that we are only a few thousand pieces into completing. It’s a delight to step back now and then to see some beauty, a little progress in this parenting process. Mostly we are up so close that it just looks like a mess. Colorful, to be sure, but not enough information to make out anything of substance.

Our little work of art is coming together. I hesitate to say those words, because Brooks is ultimately God’s masterpiece, but baby-step for so long that the leaps take my breath away.

Yesterday, he sat with us during the church service. I read scripture from the pulpit and I looked out at him, ¾ of the way into the congregation and snuck him a tiny wave. I was so proud of this boy. He slumped and covered his ears while we sang and colored on the program, never cracking a single smile (or uttering a single word to The Lord’s Prayer), but he did it. He whined the whole way to church and the free donuts after the service may be the only thing that makes him happy there at this point, but he’s growing. And we get to be a part of that.

I am trying to land the plane here, maybe somehow tie this back to keeping my lips sealed or the puzzle thing, but I’m only a C writer at present, so I need to keep practicing (at both momming and writing).

Not into Mutation

Spencer gave my last blog post a solid C, so I guess I need to keep practicing. There is nothing super profound with this one, except that I don’t want to forget it.

Brooks Age: 5.75

Brooks
Age: 5.75

As I put Brooks to bed each night, I sing Jesus Loves Me. He then says The Lord’s Prayer the best he can and then I say it., emphasizing those spots where he is fuzzy. He always misses a few words and gets a couple of things wrong, but it warms my heart to know that after five years of saying this prayer to him daily, it’s sinking in. He knows it. Mostly.

“Lead us not into mutation,” he says. “But deliver us from evil.”

I feel like I could really delve in to not being led into mutation and what all that could mean, but I don’t have the energy. All I know is that when these words come out of his mouth each night, I tell myself to write them down so I won’t forget. And to remember that even though he refuses to utter a word of this prayer during church each Sunday when the congregations recites it in unison, it’s down in there. God, thank you that it is in there!

I’m sure God sees me using my own made up words and rules and just laughs, noting that one day we will look over these things together. I never feel God’s compassion for his children more than when I am tucking in my own. I don’t care if they get it right, I just want their love.

Insta-life

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The days are so long. It’s easy to take pictures and give them snappy little captions, then move on with your life without ever really thinking things through. See, that’s what I’ve done for the last year. The kids in this picture have been heavily photographed as documented every move we’ve made, all in the sacred name of Chatbooks. It’s simple, convenient, and you can make everyone look phenomenal with filters. But that’s not life. Instagram certainly isn’t real life either.

As I flipped through old photos, this one caught my eye. The kids are so much younger, as are we, yet I was blogging much more. But it wasn’t the photo that caused this deep heart change. No, it was a very un-special car ride with my son last week that made me ache to get back to the keyboard and delete Instagram from my phone. It was a cold December afternoon and as we sat at a red light, Brooks pointed to a man on the corner holding a cardboard sign.

“Mom, what’s he doing?”

I glanced up in my rear-view mirror to make eye contact. “Well,” I said, “He doesn’t have a home. He’s asking people for money or food.”

“Maybe he could come live in our house,” he suggested.

My heart has never been so warm. Sure, I’m a ragged, exhausted parent, certain I’m screwing up my kids most of the time. But then one of them says something like this and gives me hope that God is salvaging some of my efforts.

I don’t want to miss these moments. I don’t want to simply take cute photos of my kids. I want to put my phone away and engage with them fully, later following up on the page.  I love writing. I love my children. And I love making sense of this parenting life through words. I will go on making my Chatbooks, but the Insta-life doesn’t serve me well, so I’m moving on. Because there is nothing “insta” in this parenting game and it requires time and effort to fashion these kids and these thoughts and words. I can’t think of the perfect antonym for instant, but “slow-cooked” comes to mind, so that’s what I’m shooting for.