Sick Day (A Belated Mother’s Day)

He sits parked in his “rock rock chair” as the morning sunlight fades to noon and it begins to rain, again, for the 5th day in a row.

We haven’t left the house in 3 days, he and I.

I feel a bit stir crazy and a bit at peace all at once.

It’s nice to occasionally forgo the trouble of getting dressed.

I walk barefooted into the kitchen collecting granola crumbs as I go. Living with a toddler makes crumbs become a part of daily life.

I methodically count the cups of water as I pour them into the pot. Even though we are doing a CSA, we still have a bag of Bear Creek soup left that I am so thankful for. Though a more seasoned cook would not count the cups, my specialty of non-cooking allows me to find comfort in exact measurements and package directions.

As I count, measure and pour I think back to my own childhood. Days of fevers and coughs, breathing treatments and inhalers. I spent may days spewed out on the blue microfiber couch eating chicken noodle soup, watching tv, and soaking in the scent of White Shoulders perfume from my mom.

I don’t have to do this with him too often. Days of nothing and sick and chicken noodle soup. But today, a 101.5 degree fever keeps us home and leaves school and to do lists waiting.

I’m not sure I’m very good at it. My mom always knew how to comfort me and just the right remedies. Sick care is not my specialty.

I spent childhood in and out of hospitals, frequently missing school, always having an inhaler on hand and years of nightly breathing treatments. Severe asthma and allergies makes frequent sickness a part of life. As miserable as it was for me, I can’t fathom the toll it must have taken on my mother.

I am so thankful that, for the most part, our little guy is healthy. There are not many days spent on the couch with soup here.

I think about how thankful and in awe I am of my mom, who spent many hours cuddling a sick child, wringing wet wash cloths and spooning medicine in between caring for two more little ones and working night shifts at the hospital.

The soup finally takes boil on the stove and I survey the pile of dirty coffee cups decorating my counter top and laundry piled in the basket on top of the washer. Didn’t I just do dishes and laundry yesterday? I am so often bored by the monotony of my job description.

“Here you go, sweet boy,” I say as I place a bowl of soup on the coffee table for him. We are breaking the rules and eating in the living room to a background of Peter Rabbit.

“Mmm, soup!” He says as he stirs in his ice, his favorite method of quick cooling.

I cuddle up next to him and take a sip myself.

And then it came full circle, the cliche you always hear about, how you will never know your mother’s love for you until you have a child of your own.

For such a long time I’ve felt like this was just my journey, me finding my footing on the path of motherhood while my son teaches me what he needs. It’s taken me a long time to fall comfortably into this role, even though I know I’ve done the best I could since the beginning.

I know, intrinsically, that it is my mother who taught me everything I know about being a mother. How to care and love and comfort and sacrifice.

I watch my son spoon his soup slowly.

“Mommy, why do you always look at me and smile?”

I continued my gaze, unaware that I was softly smiling. “I just love you very much.”

And I’m so thankful for the person that gave me that gift.

 

Happy Belated Mother’s Day to the amazing woman I’m lucky enough to call my Mom.

 

My Mom, Noah and I at the White House for a Friday Night Mother's Day dinner

My Mom, Noah and I at the White House for a Friday Night Mother’s Day dinner

 

My son and I at the Botanical Gardens on Mother's Day

My son and I at the Botanical Gardens on Mother’s Day

 

My very favorite Mother's Day Gift: a card written by my 3 year old

My very favorite Mother’s Day Gift: a card written by my 3 year old

 

 

 

Home

Home used to exist in a house on Macedin Drive in a sleepy Georgia town.

It remained there throughout my college years, throughout my various apartments. The spreading of my wings was still grounded in an old blue house and with the realities and memories of the five of us.

And then home became elusive and undefined. The blue house was sold and painted white. It became a shell of what it used to be and though I would sometimes drive by when I was in town to visit, I knew it was no longer home.

Home became different from house.

My son and I have been traveling a lot lately. A big trip to Georgia to visit family. A trip to Alabama for a wedding. And most recently a trip to North Carolina to visit my best friends.

Lost in thought on yet another long drive I pondered home.

For over the past few weeks I have found home hidden in unexpected places, slowly revealing itself to me in tiny pieces.

I mostly find home now in an old house in Richmond, VA. We’re drawn to homes with character, my husband and I. I find home in this house’s creaky stairs and funny phone nook and the yard that sprouts clover instead of grass.

I find home in my husband’s smile and in toddler bear hugs. My son gives the best ones.

And then in our travels I found home again in the Georgia air. Ten hours south of where we are now, there’s just something different about the atmosphere in Georgia. Something comforting about old familiar roads and memories.

I always find home in the company of my mom and brother and sister. They will always be the first and best parts of my definition of home.

This weekend, I found home in my best friends. In memories of being young. In recalling how we met and who we used to be in the midst of who we are now as adults and mothers.

“Home is where the heart is” seems cliche and stagnant, though drenched in truth.

Home, to me, lies in memories and the comforting security of familiarity.

Home, it seems, exists not in a place, but in a collection of pieces of who we are and who we are yet to be.

And at every turn, it feels good to be home.

Be Still

The 4 and 1/4 inches of snow that covered Richmond. We lost power for 12 hours and I was given the much needed time to be still.

The 4 and 1/4 inches of snow that covered Richmond. We lost power for 12 hours and I was given the much needed time to be still.

Be still and know that I’m with you
Be still and know that I am here
Be still and know that I’m with you
Be still, be still, and know

Lists of not-finisheds  and to-dos float through my mind

Lots of too-muches and not-enoughs

When darkness comes upon you
And covers you with fear and shame
Be still and know that I’m with you
And I will say your name

I’m rushed and overwhelmed and under inspired all at once

If terror falls upon your bed
And sleep no longer comes
Remember all the words I said
Be still, be still, and know

Too busy to stop in the midst of the organized chaos that composes itself into my life

And when you go through the valley
And the shadow comes down from the hill
If morning never comes to be
Be still, be still, be still

Decisions plague me, for I’ve never been good at making them

“Follow your heart” comes as needed advice I do not know how to take

If you forget the way to go
And lose where you came from
If no one is standing beside you
Be still and know I am

And then the world stopped for just a time, when the snow coated our world with it’s white blanket

The power went out for 12 hours and my phone’s battery was gone. The toddler’s school was cancelled and for just a moment the must-dos turned into can’t-dos

And I was forced to be still

Be still to leave the lists for another day

Be still to make decisions when I am ready

Be still to leave the laundry and the dishes in their piles

Be still for toddler snuggles and long evaded sleep

Be still and know that I’m with you
Be still and know I am

“Be Still” lyrics by The Fray

Blended Pieces on Moonfrye

“The sun was peeking through the clouds giving slight highlights to our morning as we traced the familiar steps to the car.

My son climbed into his almost too small car seat. I remember when he seemed so small in it and though he will always be my little, he sees himself as big.

I like these morning rides, these insights into his toddler mind as he asks me questions or tells me stories.

The engine reluctantly warmed itself to start in the cold as I adjusted the heat and put on the silly songs CD my son likes to listen to during our drives to school.

A rushed pulling out of the driveway left us headed to school just a few minutes late, because try as we might we can never make it out of the house exactly on time.

As I turned on to the next street I slowed as a kitten ran across the road.

“Oh, no, get out of the road little kitty!” I exclaimed.

“Why, Mommy?”

“I just saw a kitty run across the road but I don’t want to hurt it.”

“No, because then it would be squished and have to fly up to God.”

I paused at his certainty but responded with “Yes, then the kitty would go up to heaven with God.”

I then gave pause to my uncertainty as I added, “Mommy’s Daddy lives in heaven.”….”

Join me at Moonfrye to read the rest of this post as I take on the tender subject of talking about my Dad to my son. I would love to see you there. xo

The Noise of Silence

I can only write in the quiet, in stolen moments of peace from the often chaotic pace of my life.

My words come alive when I sip coffee in the quiet of a house granted when my husband is at work and my son goes to the few cherished hours of school he attends each week.

They dance onto the computer with a late night cup of tea to the symphony of snores that parade around the upstairs in the darkness of nightfall.

“Hey babe, I need you to look this over,” my husband asked/demanded in his stress of gathering materials to apply to a fellowship.

I sat down at the desk cluttered with test scores and resume drafts and felt overwhelmed.

“How do you turn this noise off? What window do you have open?” I asked in a flustered way.

“Hang on, I’ll fix it,” he said, reaching over to close the many tabs that helped him find his way around this project and the one that played music.

“I can’t write with noise,” I explained matter-of-factly and determinedly.

My husband’s face was incredulous. He is a lover of background noise; music on his phone or the computer, the TV always on when he’s home, a game on the x-box on just to be on. “I can’t do anything without noise,” he replied.

This, I know about him. I’ve learned it through years of living with him and his background noise. Add in a loud three year old and I feel constantly on the verge of over stimulation.

I am a lover of the silence. I find it peaceful and reflective; a chance to listen to the things in our minds we often shut out through out the business of the day.

I can only blog when I have the time to meditate in the silence of life, moments that are rare and treasured to me.

And so I write, think, and dream in stolen silent moments, welcoming my rare background noise of silence.

 

The Balance

Cold rain fell from the sky as I navigated the dark road home. I felt mostly alone, though city lights and distant cars passed in a blur through my peripheral vision.

“Maybe it’s too much” I thought.

I have not had an evening at home since Saturday, and will not have one again until next Sunday. That’s over a week of missing bath time splashes and stories with my son. A week of missing night-time cuddles and sleepy prayers. One of these weeks that is so busy and moves so quickly that you might just miss it.

I am in an opera. Just writing that sentence is amazing to me. It’s new and familiar at once to have performance take a prominent place in my life again. Our performance is this weekend, so this week is tech week; a week of run-throughs and dress rehearsals and polishing.

I sometimes wonder what it would have been like if I had pursued this when I was younger; if I had made performance my profession. But then I remember that there’s no point in looking back when the only accessible direction is forward.

I love my job as a stay at home mommy but there is something magically intoxicating to me about being able to perform. I wonder if I can pull off doing both.

Is it too much to miss the night-time cuddles? Is it too much to spread myself out in these diverse roles; the stay at home mommy, the Parent Council Chair, the writer, the performer?

Sometimes it is. And sometimes it’s all exactly what I need it to be.

This week’s too much will be evened out by some week’s not enough.

***************************************************************************************************************

I arrived home just before midnight to a quiet house lit only by the lone light from our entry table lamp and a note:

I smiled and ate a midnight dinner in the quiet. This balance isn’t too much. It’s just right.

***************************************************************************************************************

I woke up this morning to rain, ice, and thundersnow. “Look Mommy! It’s snowing!”

My son and I snuggled up in the big bed and looked at as we watched the rain turn into snow and accumulate on the branches just outside the window.

Texts and emails came in slowly. School is closed. Rehearsal is cancelled. Take caution while driving or stay at home.

The day was cancelled. In the midst of busy there would be an entire day of home.

I smiled again, because this reprieve in the midst of juggling chaos was exactly what I needed.

My son and I are embracing a day of pajamas, movies, and snow watching as we sit curled up on the couch downstairs.

And at once my world is right.

“happiness is the settling of the soul into its most appropriate spot”

~ Aristotle, philosopher

Only Three Things

I feel like there’s a lot on my plate lately. Partially because there is, the juggling of the every day, the balance of the activities that take up the space on my calendar and the time in my day.

But there are also big decisions on the horizon that seem to loom over me as I ponder potential paths.

My husband is a medical resident and we are only 18 months away from the end of his four year residency. 18 months away from our next chapter in life, and I am not at all ready, for I am quite pleased with where we are now. After 4 years of college, medical school, and residency, we will be in a position to either do one more year of training in a fellowship year or go ahead and job search. The tricky part of this, is that we can not agree on where we would like to be.

Since moving to Richmond, VA in 2010, I have fallen in love with it. I love our home, the city and the sweet friends that we have made here. My husband wants to move back to GA, where we both grew up and where most of our family still lives. Though I see where he’s coming from, I am so tired of starting over in a new city with no support systems every four years. I wish we could just stay here.

So the current compromise is that my husband will apply for a fellowship year here in Richmond, and then we will do a job search in Georgia to move in the summer of 2015. It at least gives us one more year in Richmond.

The next big decision looming over me is next year’s preschool for my son. Next year we could stay at the private preschool he’s been going to since he was 2, or we could move him to VPI, Virginia’s free public preschool program. Financially, we would love to save the tuition, but I just don’t know if it would be the right choice to move schools.

And finally, there’s this dialogue beginning to open about potential family planning. My husband and I have had this conversation before, and decided that we would have an only child. Though I have been a “one and done” advocate since my son was born, part of me feels like maybe I should at least consider giving my son a sibling. I feel this huge time crunch on this decision, too, because I just feel like our window for potential siblings is shrinking. I guess I feel like if they are too far apart it would not be worth having another one because the age gap would be so large. And I’m also finally, FINALLY not completely traumatized by my birth experience  I am owing it partially to my New Year’s Resolution to “let go” and partially to the fact that after 3 and half years, my mind and body are beginning to be at peace.

So I have all of these rough drafts of ideas floating around in my head and my husband and I were passionately discussing them this weekend while he cooked dinner. Our son was making play dough pancakes nearby and asked, “What are you guys talking about?”

I answered, “Oh, Mommy and Daddy are just talking about some important things coming up. We have a lot of big decisions to make, like where you will go to school next year and where Daddy is going to work and family planning.”

After some quiet pondering my sweet son replied with the perfect perspective, “But, Mommy, that’s only three things.”

My husband and I laughed and agreed with his evaluation. “Yes, I guess that is only three things.”

And three things isn’t really all that much, is it?

Suddenly Overnight

It happened subtly and suddenly all the same.

Just as you notice leaves slowly coating the ground in the fall it is still a bit of a shock to notice bare branches out of the blue in the winter, as though it happened overnight.

I see him everyday. I am with him more than I am with anyone. I have an up front seat to his growth and development and changes and yet overnight, he grew up.

I was the mystery reader in my son’s three-year old class Tuesday, which meant I came into the classroom while the students were on the playground so that when they came in I was there as a surprise with a book to read.

I loved seeing my son’s face as he realized I was the mystery reader, and I loved getting to sit in the teacher’s chair with him as we read one of his favorite books, “Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late.”

On Tuesdays, his school offers an after school art class  The art teachers were setting up as I read the story. When it was over, I was expecting to take my son home, but instead, he said he wanted to stay for art class.

“Please Mommy! I want to take art! Will you sign me up for art class? Please?”

We had already missed the first few sessions in December since the holidays were so busy. The art teacher jumped in to say, “We can pro-rate the classes if you would still like to sign up.”

I felt torn and put on the spot, but how could I deny him an art class?

“Please Mommy? I will see you later ok?”

“Are you sure? You don’t want to come home with Mommy?”

“Nope,” he said casually as he took a seat at the art table. “I will see you later Mommy bye-bye.”

“Ok,”, I somewhat reluctantly agreed, “I love you!”

He smiled and blew me a kiss as I walked, dejectedly,  towards the door. His teacher said, “This is so good! This is really what you want! I know that’s not how you expected your afternoon to go.”

“I think I need him now more than he needs me,” I responded, realizing that this now, is the truth.

And so I left a very content and happy little boy at school while I made up something to do to fill another hour with out him.

Just like the leaves on the trees, I have noticed his growth every day. But now I feel bare like the winter branches, and it all happened suddenly overnight.

 

I Didn’t Tell Him

I spent Friday morning getting my three-year old son ready to go take pictures with Santa.

We drank hot chocolate and changed chocolate stained shirts and only argued a little bit about the daily task of putting on shoes.

We headed to a local children’s museum where we waited in line for our turn. My son stepped up to see Santa and told him his Christmas wishes and smiled for a picture.

We returned home and continued our day, which that day included getting ready for Christmas and a trip out-of-town for the weekend.

A few states away in Connecticut, I imagine that families went through the same daily routine of getting ready in the morning, and maybe even went through a struggle to put on shoes.

Then the parents dropped their children off at school and went on with their days, which may have involved crossing off a to do list for Christmas or getting ready for a busy weekend.

And then their lives were changed forever when the unspeakable tragedy of an elementary school shooting took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

Our world is full of tragedy. Of news stories that break our hearts and make us want to lock our doors tighter. Of devastation.

But this wasn’t a story about “bad guys” shooting each other or a natural disaster that no one could control.

This is a story of people living every day lives, and children being in an environment where they should be safe, and a gunman shooting innocent children.

I have found myself following the news closely, searching for information. What I realized was that I was searching for understanding, searching for a way to turn back time and make it go away. Searching for the impossible.

I found myself in tears as I watched the story unfold and I also found myself trying to hide it from my son.

Not because I don’t want him to see me cry and not because I don’t want to share my emotions with him. But because I still wanted to protect him from this; from everything.

I have experienced the devastation of losing someone I love when I lost my father when I was 18. I have lived the moment when time stands still and your world is changed forever.

I have attended the funeral of a little girl I baby sat for when she passed away in an unexplained accident when she was only 9.

I have taught, loved, and cared for classes of students when I taught Kindergarten.

And I have experienced the indescribable, all-consuming love of being a parent with the blessing of my son. I am the mother of a little boy named Noah, the same name of one of the children killed. His funeral will be held today.

This tragedy isn’t about me. It happened to people I don’t know, in a state I’ve never visited.  But oh how my heart aches for these families that have senselessly lost loved ones.

My husband says to turn off the media. Knowing what happened does not changed what happened.

My son lives in an innocent world not yet tainted by such tragedy.

And so I sneak news articles on my phone, and I pray silently in the darkness of the night. I let my tears fall into the stillness and the fabric of my pillow. And I pray fiercely, stealing moments at stop lights and in the quiet moments before drifting to sleep.

I didn’t tell my son and I have been hiding my tears, though it seems to be consuming my almost every thought.

I didn’t tell him, because I want to protect his three-ness.

I want him to still be able to live in a world where monsters are just imaginary things hiding under the bed and not real things taking the lives of children in an elementary school.

I want him to live in a world where school is a safe place, not a place to be scared of.

I want him to live in a world of pretend and cuddles and kisses.

I could not look in my son’s eyes without tearing up through the weekend, because this tragedy awakens the darkest of scenarios in our minds, the unimaginable tragedy of losing a child.

I have read many articles about how to talk to your children about this tragedy and about how we should hug our children tighter.

The truth for me is, I couldn’t hug my child any tighter than I normally do. I couldn’t love him any more than I do every day, with the all-consuming ferocity type of love I have only experienced since becoming a mother.

And I am choosing not to talk to my son about what happened. I am choosing to let him continue to live in the world of a three-year old, where he is still discovering his world and our greatest struggle is putting on shoes.

My prayers are with the families in CT, as their worlds and lives will be forever changed.

My heart will be overflowing with love for my son, as it does everyday. And for now, I will continue to let him live in his three-year old world not yet tainted with broken hearts and dreams.

I didn’t tell him. Because there will be life to live that will jade him and take away the pieces of his innocence and this world will disappoint him and scare him.

I didn’t tell him, but I am telling myself, and I am mourning with the families in CT as they begin the life long journey of grief.

I am choosing not to tell him. But I am not choosing to ignore this, or stop my prayers, or allow myself to remember those moments of pain or touch on those parts of my life that can faintly relate to the devastation the families in CT are experiencing.  Because in these moments, I think it is important for Newtown, CT to know that they are not alone.

 

 

 

 

The Space Between If and Then

IF ____ happens, THEN ____ will happen.

Maybe.

But what IF ___ happens, THEN would ____happen?

Hard to tell.

I am guilty of this line of thought. Of over thinking, over analyzing, and of imaginary worries.

Guilty of made up scenarios that taint my perceptions and, often, my mood.

Guilty of planning a future that may never take place, or building an argument that didn’t actually occur.

It’s silly, really.

But it’s so real.

The desire to forecast our lives, and try to put into context where we are now to try to understand where we are going.

But what if there is a space between IF and THEN.

What if we could let ourselves believe that it’s not up to us to make these predictions.

What if we could truly believe that we are not in charge, and that there is something greater driving our lives.

What if there is a space between if and then?

IF there is a space between if and then, THEN maybe I could stop borrowing worries, and just trust that there is someone else who knows exactly what His plans are, and I am exactly where I am meant to be.