The Liebster….continued

leibster-blog-award

As per Liebster…11 Random Things About Me

1. My two oldest boys are born on the same day three years apart. My husband says he should have bought a lottery ticket that day.

2. I have at least two books in me to write.

3. My third child was a bit of a surprise.

4. I’m going to get a bunny rabbit soon. Been dreaming and researching for months.

5. I believe everyone on the planet could benefit greatly from a form of therapy called EMDR (look it up….seriously). I know I have.

6. I used to hate the color pink. Then I had all boys.

7. I believe big over-arching core values are expressed in small, everyday choices.

8. I wish I had a little more of an achiever in me.

9. I don’t like soda or coffee or alcohol. Or juice. Basically I’m a water girl. Not because I have some moral high horse to stand on, I just don’t like them. And I think that makes me kinda boring, but my friends seem to like me anyway.

10. My children currently cross the spectrum of preschool, elementary school, and middle school. Boo-rah!

11. I used to think I had parenting all figured out. Then I became one. For that matter I used to think I had life all figured out. Then I got one.

Questions posed for me on hiddinsight….and my answers

1. What are you getting for your spouse/significant other for Christmas?
Totally not exciting, the years have been lean lately…..khaki’s and a reversible belt.

2. Where is the kinkiest place you have ever had sex?
**blush**

3. What is your biggest regret?
Hmmm, don’t know that I have one. All my choices have lead me to where I am now. And some have provided rich life learning I apparently had to acquire through experiential learning.

4. What is something that you have done to keep the love alive in your marriage?
Work through my own issues (with the help of a therapist). The more whole I am the more capable I am of loving my husband.

5. What is your “fettish”?
Accessories (although not sure if that is what you mean by “fettish” 😉 )

6. Where is your favorite place to shop?
I am actually not a shopper (gasp!). It will be the thrift store once I learn the in’s and out’s of thrift store shopping.

7. What is the difference between living and existing for you?
Great question!!! Freedom to desire (and wisdom to find the desire underneath the desire if you get what I mean).

8. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
People are judging me? Danggit.

9. When you are 80 years old, what will matter to you the most?
Same thing that matters the most to me now….people.

10. What makes you smile?
Snuggle time!

11. If not now, when?
Ever since my third son came on the scene unannounced I have learned to roll with what life brings because it will likely be a whole lot better than what I had originally planned.

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going “koo-koo”

“Carrot cuddling cuckoo,” I hear him mutter as he trudges to his room. A smirk emerges on my face. My four year old is quoting a book. And his quote is quite astutely applicable in the current moment.

Berkeley Breathed, Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of comics Bloom County and Opus, has also written a book called Mars Needs Moms. (Seriously, go look at those links. You’ll have no regrets.) The title may sound familiar. Current Hollywood trends have been to take children’s books and turn them into full-length feature films, this being one of them.

However, I do confess I haven’t seen the movie. I am not sure I want to. The book is so perfectly succinct. The rhythm and timing are fabulous. And don’t even get me started about the illustrations. Berkeley makes me wish my gifts were in creating visual images instead of verbal ones.

As the story goes from the point of view of a little boy, Milo’s mom is a tyrant. She makes him do all sorts of terrible things like eat vegetables and take out the trash and work in the garden. Then, of course, she is shown to have no sense of humor what so ever when she cannot see what is funny about Milo dyeing his sister purple.

Milo’s mom looses her cool. She yells. At least that is what I am led to believe by the capital letters. My boys like to point out at this particular point in the story that Milo’s mom and their mom are kindred spirits. I don’t always take kindly to it. Which of course only proves their point.

But when we read the book recently, I realized there is truly no offense to be taken by their paralleling me and Milo’s mom. Because the end of the story is so heart warming and wonderful and saturated with love.

The best, most mysterious part of Milo’s mother – the part that was missed by both the Martians and her own little boy – is poignantly revealed on the planet Mars.

I believe the right word for this turn in the story is redemption.

All too often I associate redemption with larger than life, out of this world moments in books like this one. I struggle against a belief I don’t want to hold but can’t seem to shake that people only change when they are characters in books.

Then I discover small moments like this when I find myself smiling at my son’s mumbled quote. Characteristically, I should be fighting the urge to erupt into a volcanic fury fueled by my need to defend myself as a mother.

But instead I land in a moment of honesty and self-acceptance. A moment when a very human, perfectionist mother lets go to see the humor and brilliance of her son’s grumbled words taken from this beloved book.

Maybe people do change outside of literature. Maybe redemption isn’t always in galactic-sized moments. Maybe it dwells in smallness, too. Maybe even in me.

love from Ghee

He is the embodiment of security for my youngest son. A tangible representation of faithfulness, gentleness, support, and love. I do not know how an inanimate object takes on such soulful qualities.

I like to think my son already has those qualities inside of him, which is how he is able to attach them to his beloved blanket. The blanket’s name is “Ghee”, and we don’t quite know how he acquired it, nor how he came to hold all that he does for my son.

One of my friends gave us this once blue (but now grey) cable-knit gift when my son was just a baby. I could swear Ghee was his favorite of all the blankets, but I thought that must be my imagination, the dream of someone who sang to her teddy bear when she was little, wishing that just one of her children would develop a fondness for a security item.

So after one of Ghee’s washings, back in the closet he went while my son developed attachments to the flannel blankets in abundant supply, always lying around handy.

But then one day my son was old enough to point to what he wanted. And when he saw Ghee on the closet shelf he communicated his desire clearly. As the saying goes when telling love stories…the rest is history.

Just recently, my son offered me a gesture of tenderness and love beyond what I ever thought I would receive. Recognizing this gesture required both the anthropologist in me, studying my son’s unique and individual culture, as well as the treasure-hunter in me, always on the look out for glimpses of unearned love.

We had just snuggled into my son’s bottom bunk after stories and one final trip to the bathroom. Ghee was there, as he always is. My son burrowed in closely to me as he always does, hugging his precious Ghee.

Then he pulled away a bit, wiggled Ghee out from underneath the covers and gently but firmly wadded him up against my neck right underneath my chin.

I recognized this offering right away and tried to open my heart as wide as I could to catch all the intimacy and purity of love held by this moment.

I have seen my son do this, night after night after night for as long as I can remember. He holds Ghee in this same spot whenever he is tired and ready for bed, sad and wanting to be comforted, lonely and wanting company, happy and glad to be home.

This spot, tucked under my son’s chin and soothing against the skin on his throat, is where Ghee feels the best to my son. That spot somehow transfers the magical wonders of Ghee the most clearly, the most effectively, and in the best possible way.

And now, with this one gesture, he was offering his most precious of moments to me. He was sharing. He wanted me to experience this wonderful feeling, too. I felt so honored, humbled, loved. Touched by the sacred, ceremonial beauty held out by a four-year-old and his treasured companion.

purging

The day had been a bit of a struggle. Who likes cleaning out the garage? Maybe I would if I ended up with an empty garage in the end. But life with a family of five is a far cry from the simplicity of college when the whole of my possessions fit in my four-door hatch back red Chevy Nova.

But we had made it through. The toys stowed away in the garage for getting rid of served the purpose of keeping the kids occupied while I sorted and sorted and sorted. At least they kept them busy when they weren’t fighting over them.

I must admit; I was doing pretty well all things considered. That is until I started cooking dinner. I could feel myself tighten. I began grumbling in my head. Irritation and resentment started to grit against my soul the way sand does on the ride home from the beach.

I won’t lie. Hormones were involved. I’ve started wondering if PMS is known to get worse after bearing children.

Either way, by the time I got in the car after dinner to drop off a few bags of clothes at a friend’s house, I was thinking what a fortunate thing it was that I would be away from humanity for a few moments, alone in the cocoon of my minivan. Fortunate for everyone involved, that is.

I turned on some of my favorite music and my shoulders released their suction from my ears. I started to talk to God. It was a little awkward. It’s been a little awkward between us ever since my therapy. Not distant per say, just different. I’ll leave it at that.

I was talking to God about some big philosophical things I have been wrestling with lately. Things I don’t have answers to. Things I am not sure anyone has answers to. There were some awkward silences.

And then, somewhere on the drive home, it happened. I didn’t hear a voice or have some large epiphany or see the answers to my questions mysteriously appear in the stars. I sensed that I was loved.

In the midst of my questions and awkwardness and wrestling I knew that I was loved even still. Because I don’t earn love by having all the answers or not asking questions or having appropriate hormone levels or a lack of internal tension.

Love is not earned. This is a truth I cannot be reminded of enough.

reminders

Why do I always need reminders? Don’t get me wrong, I know one gigantic reason is that ½ my brain cells were lost with each baby I gave birth to (and let’s remember I have three children). But I need reminders about more than just, “Where are my keys?” and, “What time does karate start?” and, “Which night is open house again?”

I need reminders about the important things in life. That is why I love reading Francesca Zelnick’s blog so much. She reminds me that there is beauty and love in this world. Because for some reason I am prone to forgetting.

My reminders often come in unexpected, seemingly random ways. Except they seem to be timed just perfectly for what I need when I need it. Funny.

Like a few days ago when I dropped my middle son off at school. I took my youngest to give his daily hello and fist bump to one of our favorite teachers and she had eggs hatching in her room.

I know. So cute, right?

Those new little chicks were a desperately needed reminder to me that new life is just around the corner. I never know when that egg will crack and something beautiful, in an ugly sort of way, will come out and warm my heart.

Once the chicks get fluffy, they are irresistibly adorable. But before that, when they first emerge from their shell, their feathers are wet, their heads are floppy, their feet are well too big for them, and they can’t seem to stand up straight.

And they are so very sleepy. Breaking out of the shell that once was protective and nurturing but now is cramped and restrictive is difficult work. The poor things just look exhausted.

But they are born.

And I am like those chicks, struggling to get my true self out of the shell. There is always something new birthing inside of me. And sometimes there is so much struggle involved in that process. It can feel endless.

So I soaked in those chicks this week because they reminded me. Hope.

Because sometimes, I simply forget.

My new life is around the corner, too.

mr. black

He gives a gift to everyone who walks in the door. I am always a little groggy when I walk in. I have just dropped my oldest off to his early morning Saturday karate class. I walk down to Starbucks, and the moment alone combines with the fresh air and breathes life into me.

His shaggy hair matches his scruffy looking beard with their curls and hues of strawberry blonde. Everyone gets a smile and a cheerful voice, but nothing over-zealous. It is early on Saturday, after all and this is a gentle man. Intentional eye contact is made with each and every person. I watch as something invisible inside his soul seems to whisper to each of us, “You matter.”

I get the feeling he is doing more than just his job as he takes our orders and debit cards and gives us food and drink in return. He is caring for humanity. He sees the inherent value of people and shows it to us in the fifty-eight seconds we are in front of him. This is the gift he gives.

And it is one that we all are in desperate need of. Because it is so incredibly easy to forget that we matter. That although we are imperfect, we are also invaluable. Of course, not everyone receives this gift. Some are so busy with their lives and their selves and their keeping up that their spirits have grown numb to such offerings.

But he gives it anyway.

Today he was just taking his break when I found my place in line. We exchanged hellos and somehow some coffee spilled from the mug he was holding while we were chatting. I walked over to the condiment section, pulled out some napkins, knelt down and wiped up the liquid.

I should be doing that for you,” he said.

“You are on your break. I am happy to do something for you this time,” I reply.

He goes to the back for something and then disappears outside for his ten minutes to himself. As I order and get out my card to pay, the other barista tells me Mr. Black has already taken care of it.

I couldn’t find him outside to say thank you and he didn’t have to do that. Watching him do what he does touches my heart every Saturday. I see the gift he offers and gladly receive it each time. Maybe buying me coffee was his way of saying that today I got to be his Mr. Black.

potato chips and chocolate

The crinkle of the bag brings me hope and dread all at once. My pain draws me to the cupboard without my awareness. I have been carrying around this powerlessness and it is heavy and painful and I want an escape from it. But there is none. That doesn’t stop me from looking, though.

As the salt touches my tongue, it seems to be a numbing agent on my heart. For the moments that my mouth is full, the overpowering taste blocks out my emotions.

Eventually, I finish the bag or the bag finishes me leaving my mouth raw. I sit for a minute, trying to force the satisfaction to stay. But eventually it runs away like it always does and my mind dances with the sweet that would sooth the savory I just consumed.

Another crinkling bag delights my ears. I pull out the handful of dark chocolate chips and let them sit for a while to be warmed by my hand. Then in my mouth they go as the cocoa, rich and smooth begins to soften and ooze together forming a luscious mound of heaven that melts down my throat.

Eventually I realize the break from my pain was only temporary, and the let down sets in. I want this to help but it doesn’t. I try night after night, but the pain remains. I cannot control others. I cannot change what they think of me. I cannot force someone to listen.

All I can do is let go and mourn what is lost. And sometimes that is more of a process than I would like it to be, even with my potato chips and chocolate.