June 23, 2010
On Tuesday, I took my kids to see Toy Story 3. Great movie! As I was sitting next to my son, who just turned 15, it felt bittersweet. There's a scene at the end of the movie where Andy and his mom are standing in his empty room as Andy is getting ready to head off to college. His mom chokes up and throws her arms around him saying, "I just wish I could always be with you." And I was reminded that, in only three short years, Taege will be headed off to college as well. Andy says to his mom, "You will be, Mom." And I guess that's true.
Everything we have taught our children, said to our children, experienced with our children will follow them into their adult lives. And we can only hope the positive impressions will outweigh the stupid mistakes we've made as parents. (Yes, we've all made them.) This hope is what's getting me through these teenage years.
As I do every year, I spent an hour on Taege's birthday looking through old photo albums with him - the baby and toddler years, grade school, sports, the births of his sisters, all his "firsts." It's a wonderful way to keep those memories alive. My favorite photo is one of Taege at three years old holding his "Sunshine" puppy and a "Poo-Boo" and jelly sandwich. His taste buds have matured a little since then. Saturday, his birthday dinner of choice was sushi, with unagi (eel) being his favorite.
He's matured a lot in other ways, too. As I've mentioned before, he's learning to drive (and doing a lot better since running over my lamp post a couple months ago!). He's almost as tall as me now and is shaving. I tease him about his tiny mustache. We've been through the s-e-x talk many times now and, of course, he thinks he knows everything. He committed his life to Christ last year and is very involved with his youth group. He even went on his first mission trip last spring break and is now working at youth camp. He can be found hanging with his friends a lot and, most of the time, they pick him up in their cars. And he has begun moving into that "friend" relationship with me, as older kids do, at times forgetting that I'm still his mom (who makes the rules) and not one of his peers.
Blane just came upstairs with Taege's giant stuffed cat in her arms. "Look what brother gave me!" she shouted. Of course, his stuffed animals have been shoved into a corner of his room for a few years now. But still, another sign that he's leaving his childhood behind. If you've seen Toy Story 3, I'm sure you'll understand the significance of this moment. Like Andy, Taege is a little ambivalent about moving into the next phase of his life. But in the end, the possibilities are enticing. And yes, I'm excited for him because, like Andy's mother, I've realized that I'll always be in my son's heart.
June 13, 2010
One piece of advice I always hear is not to talk about religion or politics if you want to keep your readers. And, for some reason, I've listened to that advice...up to this point. Sitting in church service this morning, however, I realized how ridiculous that is because it's my faith that makes me who I am - as a mother, daughter, sister, friend, co-worker. It's my relationship with Christ that keeps me afloat in the often tumultuous waters of single parenting, and life in general.
This morning, our pastor challenged us to give up (for a week) the first source of information we routinely turn to each day and, instead, devote that time to God, praying and studying his Word. The first thing I thought of was Facebook. I would say, quite honestly, that this has become one of my addictions. Every morning I get on to check out what's happening in the lives of my friends, view photos posted, share what's going on in my life and see the latest updates on the pages I "like." It's like my morning coffee; I can't start my day without it. So, I'm giving up Facebook this week for face time with God.
When I told my kids about this, the two youngest looked at me funny. But it gave me the opportunity to teach them more about our faith and it set an example for them, planting another seed that I'll continue to water as the years go by. This, I believe, is my most important job as a mother - one I take very seriously. And one I won't be talked into hiding - here or anywhere else.
June 9, 2010
Sunday was Blane's first-ever dance recital. We painted her nails a bright yellow to match her costume. I put her baby fine hair up in little pigtails with bright blue bows. And, of course, we applied the obligatory stage make-up - I stayed on the light side to avoid that garish pageant girl look. As I was putting on her mascara, I asked Blane if she was nervous. "A little," she said, "The lights are really bright and everyone is watching." Reminded me of my first time on stage - the excitement and the butterflies all at the same time.
I helped her into her tights, booty shorts and costume. SO cute! She smiled big as I took her picture in front of the mantel and on the front porch just before we left. Then we picked up Brother Bear and Sissy from their dad's house. Blane was SO excited they were coming to watch her.
When we got to the high school, I walked her to the backstage area to drop her off with her group. She wouldn't be going on stage until about halfway through the program. I wondered if those butterflies would keep fluttering that whole time. She looked a little nervous. I told her to "break a leg" and she looked a me funny, so I had to explain that one. She gave me a big hug and kiss as I was leaving.
We took our seats and waited for the show to begin. I enjoyed the other performances, I really did, but I couldn't wait to see my baby girl. Finally, her group took the stage as the audience "ooohed" and "awwed" at their cuteness. They started the dance with their backs to us. As the Jackson 5's "ABC" started playing, they all turned around and, well, I couldn't take my eyes off Blane. She came to life, shaking her groove thing and smiling every time she looked at me.
I was so proud of her. So proud that I started tearing up as they finished and took their little bows. I mean, I was seriously on the verge of a full-out cry. This happens to me any time my kids perform, receive awards, get a goal, etc. I don't know how to explain it other than it's this feeling that grabs me by the heart, wells up in my chest and makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Yeah, kind of like that. I guess that's what happens when someone you love so incredibly much makes you so proud.
Anyway, Blane was amazing. Afterward, we fought through the crowd to find her backstage. She threw her arms around me and I handed her the flowers I had bought for her. We all told her how wonderfully she had danced, and my baby girl was on cloud nine for the rest of the night.
June 3, 2010
So, my girls asked me to come outside and turn the jump rope for them yesterday. No problem. What fun to see them chanting rhymes from my childhood - "Cinderella, dressed in yella, went upstairs to kiss her fella, made a mistake, kissed a snake, how many doctors did it take? 1-2-3..." Of course, there were new ones I hadn't heard - Strawberry Shortcake and Ice Cream Social. They took turns holding the other end of the rope and jumping.
The simple joy they got from such a simple activity took me back to my childhood - back to a time when my most difficult decision was what game to play on a summer afternoon. The days of waking up late to the sunshine peeking through my curtains. A lazy breakfast with my brothers. Jumping on our bikes and heading out to explore the neighborhood. Playing in the woods behind our subdivision. Riding to QuikTrip for a Slushie and Sweet Tarts. Chasing each other through the sprinkler. Swinging and sliding on the playground. Racing around the block. Playing kickball in the culdesac. Ah, the freedom. The freedom of being a child with no responsibilities, no worries, a time before I knew heartache.
"Mommy, it's your turn," my girls said. My youngest took the rope from me. I hesitated for a second, then started jumping at their coaxing. As they chanted the Cinderella rhyme, that freedom filled me up again. Their laughter was contagious. It was that pure and simple joy. I felt like Cinderella at the ball - young and beautiful and full of life.
I finally had to stop. I was out of breath from the jumping and giggling. I took the rope back from my youngest...and then my coach turned back into a pumpkin. Someone forgot to remind me that I'm over 40. A sharp pain shot through my lower back and wouldn't go away. I doubled over as I was turning the rope. "I'm too old to be doing this," I told my girls. They laughed. But I sucked it up and kept playing.
They say you're only as old as you feel. Well, I didn't feel so hot physically after jumping rope, but I felt a million times younger in spirit. And that little glass slipper I now carry in my pocket is a constant reminder to revisit my childhood on a regular basis. It not only keeps me young, but also keeps me closer to my kids. And that's so worth it.