Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dear Kids

Check the date. You'll be surprised to note that I'm writing you before any of you were even born. But you were thought of -- often. Now I'm preparing. I'm preparing to meet your father and preparing to be the best possible wife and mother I can be for my family. Sometimes the void in my home, arms, heart makes me think I'm impatiently waiting for people who will never come. I become distressed and depressed and I have to force myself to remember that there are many things in life that are within my control and many things in life where the lesson of patience lands me face planted into a brick wall time and time again.

I have yet to learn it, which means I would be unable to teach you. And I lack the compassion to forgive, which means you'd all be fighting with one another and I couldn't show you examples in my life where I had been wronged and decided to let the anger go. I sleep in -- til the afternoon when I can because I stay up so late and my body needs the sleep. Yes, I'm ready for you but I'm not quite ready for you. My time, my precious time is mine to squander and I need to start disciplining myself with it now before you arrive so that I don't feel overwhelmed with the endless responsibilities of motherhood. Yes, I'm ready for you but I'm not quite ready for you because I don't like cleaning up after people and I need to see the role of servant as a loving act of service -- which is not at all how I feel about it now!

Yes, I'm ready for you! But in the way that a 15 year old looks forward to having his/her driver's license. Teenagers view driving as freedom, independence, self-reliance. It's all of those things and a whole lot more. It's responsibility. It's not choking under pressure in the exact moment you need to perform well. It's being aware of every single possible danger and knowing how to respond accordingly. After a while, it's just an act we do from muscle memory and yet our minds still need to be focused on the task 100% because accidents happen. Driving isn't just about the license or the brand new (to me) car in the driveway on a celebratory occasion. It's about the pulsing anxiety that floods your body when you're driving on a six lane highway at 1 am and you're stuck between the median and a tractor trailer truck. And it's pouring. And there are people in the car -- not just you, other people you love. It's about staying the course even when you're so tense and afraid and you want to pull over and quit or stop and quit but you can't. Lots of things in life evoke these same kinds of feelings.

I don't envision motherhood the way a teenager would. I've matured enough to know that children take more than love than they ever give back. But I'm also smart enough to know that good parents learn and grow as much as their children do. But I also know, there's no way real way to prepare for driving in the storm other than lots of practice of driving when it's sunny. The confidence we gain from the tiny triumphs build up and we feel confident to take on the greater challenges. Which is why I feel ready for the next phase of my life even though it's quite clear God has not brought these blessings into my life.

Remember that. When there's something you desperately want. A career. A family. A driver's license. :) A boyfriend. A new pair of skinny jeans. A better life. Remember that they're all blessings from God. Remember when you start to fret about anything that waiting isn't the same thing as preparing. Remember that feeling isn't being. Remember me. Remember me at this point in my life where I'm faced with lessons of gratitude and patience so that I can prepare myself for motherhood.

(Not that you can ever really be ready for driving on the highway at 1 am in between two tractor trailer trucks during a hailstorm with a screaming baby in the car. But you can get pretty darn close!)


Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Special Post for the Birthday Boy

Allan turned 5 years old today and I'm bummed that I missed his birthday party. I also feel like a bad Titi because I was a little absentminded last week and completely forgot to shop for his gift. Luckily, anything I would have purchased would have paled in comparison to what his mommy bought him -- a PSP!

Allan is such a sweet little boy and I'm so glad he's a part of our family! Those two boys are so completely different from one another -- in every conceivable way. Allan is full of energy -- my mom says he's "wide open" and I never really understood how she came up with that one -- but it's definitely true. Sometimes I call my mom on Thursday or Sunday nights -- her grandma duty days -- and it sounds like there are two dozen kids running around the house, and not just two. Allan is also super smart. He picks up on things really easily and is genuinely interested in learning. He loves being destructive, like any boy that age I suppose, but he's also really into singing songs, practicing his ABCs, practicing his Spanish, and he loves when someone reads to him! Jay's the exact opposite! Even as a toddler and young boy, he didn't enjoy story time and tried to weasel his way out of it.

What I like best about Allan is -- it may be too hard to just fine one. Allan is really honest. Sometimes, I'll ask him if he's been behaving badly and he'll admit to it and then cry that he doesn't want me to yell at him or send him to time-out. But I love that he knows not to lie. (Although that may be because both he and Jay said when I'm angry it's really scary. That actually made me kind of sad and I thought maybe I was yelling, but Jay said it's not that I'm yelling, it's just that you can tell I'm really mad and I make really mad faces!) Allan also reminds me a lot of myself (when I was a newly turned 5 year old, that is.) He loves his big brother so much and looks up to him. I know what it's like to be the younger sibling and crave attention from your big brother/big sister. Hopefully, as he gets older he'll develop his own interests and friends and won't feel so slighted by his big brother. And hopefully, his brother learns to be more patient and loving with him.
Allan is by far the pickiest eater I've ever met, which is saying something because I'm pretty picky myself!

He pretty much only consistently likes grits and cookies. Can't say I blame him. Sometimes my sister will call and I can hear her begging him to eat a chicken nugget or to take one more bite of pizza before he has cookies. Or sometimes I'll call and not know they're in the middle of a meltdown because my sister baked cookies and Allan wants to eat them ALL. Again, can't say I blame him -- but maybe he'll start to like new things as he gets older and his taste buds change. It didn't happen for me -- but we can all hope.

It's great having two nephews. I'm forced to love them differently because they're so different. Jay's generally really introverted and likes to stay home, so it's nice that we've bonded over movie nights and cooking meals together. Anytime we've been outside, other than a park, it's been because I initiate taking a hike or going for a swim. I have a feeling, Allan would much prefer to be the kind of boy who wants to be outside roughing it out. It's these relationships that make me change my expectations for all interpersonal relationships. It's not that I don't have expectations from either of my nephews -- because I do. I expect them to be obedient and kind, generous and thoughtful, respectful and loving-- oh and hardworking. Anything after that kind of falls into the category of not important. Do I want either of them to grow up to be neurosurgeons? Nope. I want them to grow up knowing that the world is full of endless possibilities and that if they work hard and cultivate a passion for their work, then they can make whatever dreams they have for themselves come true. I want them to take the best of their relationships with their parents, siblings, extended family and try to give that very best that's in each of us and give it back to the world somehow. I hope they'll be be loving and attentive fathers someday -- when they're much much much much much older (and married!) I hope they'll be respectful and loving to their wives, that they'll practice what we've been preaching for the past 5 (and for Jay 10 years).

Love you, Al!