Remember the Simple Things

This morning while I was driving to my internship I was listening to the radio.  The hosts were talking about a recent news report that stated that the people of Norway (I think it was Norway) are much simpler in their parenting and in what they do with their children, and as a result their children are happier.  They then shared their memories of their childhood and what stood out as the best things that they remember doing with their families.  All three hosts remembered very simple things like going for a ride or playing a game in the back yard.  I thought it was interesting that even though they had “bigger” memories, such as trips to Disney as a family, these trips were not the thing that stood out to them.  It was the simple things.

I couldn’t help but think about what I remember about my childhood.  I remember, and appreciate the trip to camp at the beach and going to Creation as a family, but I think the memories that mean the most to me are much simpler.  I remember going to yard sales with my mom and/or grandmother.  I remember going fishing with my dad, or groundhog hunting, or sledding.  I remember renting movies and watching them over a snack.  Even today grilling and having a picnic dinner or sitting around the fire pit is the kind of thing that my family loves to do together.

It really is the simple things.

My kids are growing up.  I wonder what they remember most?  Is it the big planned activities?  Or was it much simpler?  Did my husband and I do enough of the quieter, easy-going stuff?

I’ll have to ask them.

They Really Weren’t Kidding!

When I was a young mom and had a toddler and a preschooler, the days could be very long.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved being a mom and was blessed to be able to stay at home with my kiddos.  There were just some days, however, that never came to an end!  The kids were getting into everything, or were sick, or I was sick, or there were any number of things going on that just made time pass incredibly slowly.  I remember people telling me in the midst of these decade-long days that time would pass very quickly and that my baby birds would someday fly away.

I believed them.  I smiled, and acknowledged their words, saying that I was treasuring these days as best as I could.  I knew in some general way that they wouldn’t last forever.  But darn it!  Those days lasted forever!

And then they were gone.

My babies are 18 and 20 now.  One will graduate from high school next month, the other is finishing her second year of college.  The aren’t quite exactly GONE yet, but they are very close to it.  Those days that seemed to last forever don’t really happen anymore.  I am not my children’s whole world anymore, nor are they mine.  What I wouldn’t give for just one more day of long and tired and “mommy” instead of waiting for them to have time to sit with me.  Boy, that time went fast!!!

How is it Possible that I have a 20 year old???

Tomorrow is a big day in our household.  Our oldest child, my baby girl, is turning 20 years old.  It’s funny that we are surrounded by all of this snow right now!  About 2 weeks before our daughter was born twenty years ago we had the Blizzard of 1996.  When we brought our little one home from the hospital, it was sooo cold!

The last twenty years with our little girl have been nothing short of an adventure.  From day one, we were first time parents, navigating all of her firsts right along with her.  I can remember a time when she was very little that it seemed like she would always be that little, always need us to read her stories before bed, always want to be right by our side.  I knew she would grow up some day, it the distant future, a long time away from now.  A long time from now has now arrived.  What happened???

I am so very proud of our little girl.  She has grown up to be such a talented person, who writes and tells stories that can mesmerize a person.  She is so creative and sensitive, and so compassionate.  She makes me laugh, and her sense of humor is unique and brings a lot of joy to those around her.  I cannot wait to see what is in store for her in the next twenty years!

But still….how is it possible that I have a 20-year-old?????

Why is it that when my husband pays me a compliment I get all weird and self-conscious?  I am a blessed woman in that my husband tells me regularly that he finds me attractive, beautiful, and desirable.  Part of me loves it, and I am very glad to hear it, but there is a part of me that pushes it away and hides from it.  Why do I have such a hard time believing it of myself?  Why do I struggle to accept it and be confident in it?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I have a daughter.  I have been thinking about the kind of mom I have been over the years and how I have modeled womanhood to her.  She is now 19 years old and is developing into a woman in her own right.  I see her struggling with confidence and I wonder how much of that is because she watched me struggle with my body image and with who I am?  Just what did I vocalize in her presence?  What response did I give to my husbands praise while she was listening?  How did I dress and carry myself in her presence?

I think that one of the many mistakes that I made as a mom was to model for her a woman who was not confident and who did not believe in herself.  A women who did not realize that my weight and my other physical attributes did not make up the whole of me.  Yes, I struggled with my weight for many years, but that did not detract from the beauty that I had (and have). When my husband looked at me he did not see a fat woman, but a funny woman, a beautiful woman, a loving woman, a desirable woman.  He saw his best friend.  I think I placed too much emphasis on the physical and not enough on the qualities that made me who I am.  If I could go backwards, I would show my daughter that physical stuff is not all important.  Even though I was a bit heavy, I was beautiful and I had a lot to offer.

I guess it isn’t too late for me to model a better attitude for my daughter.  The things that make me beautiful are not things like weight and my make-up.  It is my attitude toward life, my sense of humor, my compassion, my faith and my giving spirit that matters.

leaving home

I will admit upfront that I am in a rather mushy mood.  You see, this time next week we will be moving our first-born child into college.  It is an exciting time and a scary time.  She is on the cusp of her future and she is ready to take this step.  She is leaving home and will be moving further and further away from childhood.  In some ways, this is good and right and we are all ready.  But I am her mom.  How can I truly be ready for this?

I keep thinking about when I was pregnant with her.  I was so scared that I would mess her up!  I had never been a mom before.  I had no idea what to expect, and there was so much conflicting information coming at me from all directions.  I was afraid that taking the wrong advice would adversely affect my child!  It took me a long time to relax and realize that though I wasn’t perfect, I was an okay mom.  We plodded through together.  I feel confident now.  I know how to approach things with this child and work through anything that comes up.

In some ways I am feeling like a new mom again.  I don’t know how to parent an adult.  I’m not quite sure what my new role should be in her life.  I know she is in college and still a kid in many ways.  I also know she is legally grown and her own person.  How do I make this transition with her?  I don’t want to handle it wrong and mess up her future.  This is uncharted territory for me, and again there is so much conflicting information coming my way. 

I guess the answer is that we will plod through this together.  We will build our adult relationship one step at a time.  I also guess I will be spending a lot more time in prayer for this child.  Time learning to trust God with her future and safety and maturity.  Learning to let her go.

Let her go.  That seems strange to even say!  Wasn’t she just learning to talk and walk yesterday?  Wasn’t my husband teaching her how to ride her bike yesterday?  Wasn’t she and I exchanging tooth fairy letters yesterday?

I guess that is how life goes.  Quickly.  But she does walk and talk, and even write rather well now.  She can ride a bike and keep her balance.  We exchange texts and talks about all kinds of things.  She is ready!  And she is able.  I am so proud of this kid!  So proud! 

I can let her go because I know she is ready.  I know that she will always need me, even if it’s not in the same ways.  I know that she will love college and will grow because of this experience.  I know that we will find our way.

But I am still going to cry my way through the next week at least!

Thank you for this Child

Dear God,

Thank you for this child you gave me

For the years of love and laughs

For tea parties and dolls and butterflies

For trucks and legos and baths.

 

Thank you for the kisses and hugs

For the bedtime stories and songs

For the cuddles and the tickle fights

For those special moments for which my heart now longs.

 

Thank you for the memories

For special moments of change

For my child has been growing up

And is stepping out into the world so strange.

 

Protect my child, Oh Lord I pray

Guide and lead and protect

And help me God, be with my heart

As my heart reflects

 

Thank you for this child you gave me

Help me to let go

Help this child to soar and fly

To happiness help them grow.

For the Children

Today is a sad day indeed.

I picked up my kids from the high school at 2:30 today, as I do every day.  I watched them as they laughed and told me about their day.  Emily shared with me a piece of gum from a pack her friend had given her.  A normal day.  The sight of their precious faces and the sound of their laughter and words touched my heart in a way that normally just doesn’t happen in the midst of everyday life.

This morning my husband let me sleep and he took my children to school.  It hit me.  I could have missed the last moments that my kids were with me.

Other moms and dads had breakfast this morning with their kids.  Some may have been running late and were cross with their dawdling kindergarteners, warning them that they would be late if they didn’t hurry.  Some other moms (or dads) slept in while their spouse took the kids to school.  Some hugged and kissed their little ones and put them on a bus.  They fully expected to be meeting the bus later in the day, getting another hug and kiss and hearing their precious little voices laughing and telling about their day.

Fully expecting it.  But never receiving it.  Instead of a mundane day Hell came to earth.

Tonight, I have hugged and kissed my kids a few extra times.  I have told them I love them again and again.  I have reminded each of them how proud I am of them and how proud I am to be their mom.  I don’t think I am remiss in this most days.  I just can’t seem to help myself today.

I just can’t imagine the empty arms of the other moms tonight.  I cannot imagine the emptiness, the grief, the anger, the confusion.  How do you, as a parent, live through this?  How do you go on, knowing that your baby’s last sight was a crazy man with a gun, that their last moments were spent without you there to protect them?  How do you go on?

Oh, God, you know!  You know what it is to lose a child in a violent way.  You know the grief and the emptiness.  You are the only one who can truly understand.  I am selfishly so thankful that my child has been spared, that my child is here with me.  You were with my child today.  Yet you were there, too, with those little children.  You have not forsaken them.  You have not forsaken their mommy.

But oh how I can imagine that they must feel forsaken right now.  There are no words that can heal the pain they feel.  Help them Oh Jesus!  Help them!