I do better when it’s planned, and I can mentally prepare, but I’d just gotten the phone call, my contacts had finally arrived. I’d been sporting my broken glasses for two weeks, my vanity was starting to take a hit, and we were out of toilet paper. So there was both, vanity and necessity.Continue Reading
Josh is quiet and studious. But goofy if he’s comfortable. Max is an extrovert who’s “legs hurt so bad” if he has to clean his room without someone watching him. The fear of being alone almost paralyzing. Anna is self-contained, responsible and creative. All so individual, and yet I see my habits, mannerisms, and beliefs reflected back at me in each one of them.
Scientists are still trying to determine the effect that genes have on personality, musical ability, athleticism and a myriad of other characteristics. The results are inconclusive.(Psychology Today, June 2013).
But, whether it’s nature or nurture, we see ourselves in our children.
Physically my brown-haired, brown-eyed, freckled children look nothing like me, and yet…
There was the time Anna yelled, “What the hell,” at an unsuspecting boy at the park who had copied her latest trick on the monkey bars.
How Josh clenches his fists and screams, “AAGGHHH!” when he gets mad.
Or when Max sweetly covers me with a blanket when I’m sick, kisses my head and says, “I’ll cuddle you for a minute.”
Their obsession with “Warning Labels for Stupid People.” can also be blamed on their mother.
Their Dad also stares back at me.
Key phrases, “I wasn’t talking mean I was talking firm.” are echoes of him.
Josh can become so absorbed in what he’s doing that only a direct assault will break his concentration, just like his Dad.
All three of their love of being in the ocean comes from their father.
It’s not just quirks and mannerisms that can be a reflection of a child’s parents. How he acts is a reflection of how we act toward and respond to him. What he thinks is important, what he knows – shows us our priorities.
Four-year-old Josh got up in church one Sunday in front of hundreds of people and said, “I know Jesus is real.”
Four-year-old Anna got up and said, “I believe Jesus is true,” amongst other things. She’s a little more chatty.
The oldest two asked permission to do it. It was self-motivated.
Four-year-old Max tells me he doesn’t like Jesus books.
“Why not?” I sit down next to him, a beautifully illustrated book in my hand.
He shrugs and runs off to play.
A large part of the difference is due to personality. Max likes to be on the move. His attention span a fraction of my other two children’s at his age. But my heart hurt a little. What could I be doing differently?
I reflected on how life had been different when the other two were younger. Less busyness, fewer friends close by, memorizing a scripture every month, in the hopes it would become a part of their heart, more Mom directed activities, more Mom time in general.
Now, I make sure that I take time to play with Max even if a friend is available. I started doing a brief joy school when it’s my turn to babysit him and his friend, instead of letting them run wild through the house the entire time – now it’s only half the time and everyone is happy. We started memorizing scriptures again and he is so proud of his accomplishments.
The other day at breakfast he told me, “Mom I just can’t wait to meet Jesus.”
In the end, I can only change myself.
Last week I turned 33. I lay in bed longer than usual that morning. Partly because it was my birthday, partly because Justin was still there – his arm around me – and partly because I was reluctant to be officially 33.
At what point does that happen? I now occassionally forget how old I am, is it 32 or 33? What year was I born? What year is it? OK I’m 32 – yep pretty sure I’m 32, except now I’m 33.
I heard the boys as they galloped down the stairs and prepared myself to get up. Their footsteps had been rambling around upstairs for awhile and I knew they’d be getting hungry. Josh had let Max sleep in his bed that night, “So he’ll wake me up instead of you Mom.” That boy is already so wise, giving his Mom the gift of sleep.
Justin rolled out of bed planted a kiss on my head and wished me a happy birthday. “What can I do for you today,” he asks
“I just don’t want to have to do anything,” a day off. He smiled.
“I’d take the day off if I could,”
“I know,” Mostly I just have to give myself permission to take the day off. Happy birthday to myself.
He headed off to get ready for work and I followed him a few seconds later. What says 33? I looked over my clothes, trying on this and that, changing at least 3 times. I finally settled on a white shirt, jeans and red lipstick. Clothes that make me feel most like myself.
I headed toward the kitchen and almost stumbled on the noise maker outside of my door.
“Close the door go back to bed,” Josh yelled.
I quickly obeyed after catching a glimpse of him in front of the skillet, Max on the counter, “helping”.
I grinned as I crawled back into bed in my jeans. They arrived a few seconds later. French toast, scrambled eggs and hot chocolate.
“Don’t worry I pulled off all the mold for you,” said Josh with a grin from ear to ear. They were so proud of their accomplishment. So excited to serve.
“Thanks bud,”I replied with a glance at Justin, who just smiled. The boys cuddled and chatted before heading off to get their own breakfasts. Justin came back in a few minutes later with a plastic bag and discreetly took care of the French Toast for me. He’s a keeper.
After that it was a usual and not a usual day. I babysat, but took my charges to the park and felt no guilt in sitting in the sun and reading instead of playing, a visit from Grandpa, lunch with friends, a nap, more reading by the fire.
I got a “Happy Birthday! Birthday girl!” from Max’s best friend along with a picture he drew himself. He waltzed in with his wrapped present in his hands, after I’d opened and admired it, he spotted another present on the counter. “What’s in that one?”
I showed him the new shoes from my Mom.
He shrugged, “Mine’s better.” and went out to play.
I got a “Happy Birfday, Neecole!” from my 2 year old nephew Jackson that melted my heart.
Then after gymnastics and basketball practice we settled around the table for fondue. Justin had gone to several stores to gather all the supplies. My sister Jessie and my Mom prepped everything while the boys were at basketball and Anna was at gymnastics. I got to hold baby Benny and watch.
We agreed that it was the best birthday dinner ever.Anna didn’t like the cheese, so she settled on strawberries and chocolate and was quite content with that choice.That morning Josh had asked me, “Mom if you could do anything you wanted today what would you do?”
He had me floored for a bit. Anything? really anything I wanted? Would I want a day to myself to read and write? Yes, but then I would miss my kids and Justin…. Would I want to go do something fun with my family? Yes, but I would also want to have some precious alone time.
I settled on getting on a flight to Peru with the whole family. Since that wasn’t an option I think what actually happened was a great second.
I got many birthday wishes that day, but here are two of my favorites:
“Happy birthday dear friend may the day bring you a good book and a long nap.”
“Happy birthday to my new friend, may your children take long naps and the writing muses smile down on you.”
They know me well.
Max is giving up his naps. I know I shouldn’t complain. By four years old my other two only napped occasionally. But it still hurts my heart. Partly because on days he doesn’t nap my alone time is shortened by shouts from his room. “Mom is quiet time done yet?!” and “I’m getting so bored.” He even tries to lay on the guilt. “I’m scared in here alone!” Followed by a couple of convincing sobs.Continue Reading