Monday, December 22, 2014

Dear Allison...

Dear Allison,

      Today is somewhat of a bittersweet day for me.  It's a day I knew would come, of course.  A day I have been excited about, yet a day I have hoped wouldn't arrive as quickly as it has.  Today, you turn 16.  As I write this, you're standing in line with your Big Daddy at the DMV, getting your license.  I want to go pick you up right now and force you in the car and tell you how driving is overrated and momma will drive you everywhere you need to go for the rest of your life.  But I can't do that.  First of all, it's weird.  Second, I don't want to drive you around everywhere forever.  Third, you're a good driver and I know you're ready for your license.  And fourth, this isn't about a driver's license at all.  Not even close.  I am a big ball of mixed up emotions.  I am happy that we've raised an independent, responsible, smart, kind, Christian young woman.  I'm happy that we can trust you to make good decisions, but I'm realistic that you're still a teenage girl and there needs to be room for mistakes.  I'm happy that you're outgoing and funny and you aren't afraid to try new things.  I'm happy that your life is progressing the way it's supposed to.  So what is wrong with me?  I'm excited, but a little part of me is sad.  Really, really sad.  Every mom can say, "Oh, it seems like just yesterday I was changing their diapers."  There is so much truth in that statement.  It really does seem like yesterday.  Perhaps it seems like yesterday because my life has big one big "baby-fog" over the last 16 years.  All of your "firsts" are so fresh in my mind.  Your first sneeze (December 23, 1998...biggest sneeze I ever heard come out of a baby.  You still sneeze super loud), your first poo-poo-all-the-way-up-your-back diaper (January, scared me to death.  Didn't know babies could do that), your first steps (Thanksgiving Day, looked like a chubby little drunk, stumbling across the living room at Aunt Jessica's house), your first day of Kindergarten (August, loved it, and I was relieved that I was able to save my tears for when I got home), your first day of high school (August, wore parachute pants and tried to convince me they were back in style.  Whatever.  You wouldn't let me walk you into the school building that morning.  I don't know why.  I wouldn't have cried or anything.  Maybe just given you a long, lingering hug.  Just long enough to be uncomfortable for those around us.  Then maybe, just maybe, I would've gently released you into the lion's den that is high school with my favorite motherly advice, "Make good choices today!!"  It would be the most embarrassing moment of your life, ah yes, the moments I live for).  I can still remember the way you smelled as a baby, the way your chubby little legs looked in ruffle-bottom bloomers, the way your eyes would cross when you were taking a bottle.  Sometimes, if I concentrate really hard, I can still feel you lying on my chest, peacefully sleeping...the ONLY way you would sleep for the first several months :)  I miss that.  I miss the way your crazy, curly hair would look when you woke up after a nap, or if it was humid outside, or if a storm was coming.  The bigger your hair was, the closer the rain would be :)  I miss the way you couldn't pronounce the letter "R" until you were six years old.  I miss the little songs and stories you would make up. I miss the way you would smile when I sang Frank Sinatra songs or the "All in the Family" theme song.  I miss all of that.  I have prayed a silly prayer over and over again for time to slow down. But God doesn't answer that prayer the way I want Him to.  Time, if anything, is speeding up and I see what He is doing.  He is leaving time as it is, which "forces" me enjoy the time with my babies all the more.  He is allowing me to see the blessings that each of my daughters are and appreciate the little things, like sneezes and parachute pants.  I don't think He intended for you to stay dependent on me forever.  That's not good for either of us.  I think what He intended to happen is exactly what is happening, you're growing up the way you're supposed to and I just have to accept it.  So I will.  Eventually.  Slowly, but eventually.  Be patient with me.  I've never been on this side of it before, the mom side of it.  It's weird and different and much harder over here.  I just need you to promise me a few things.  Promise me that you will keep making the right decisions, no matter how hard they are.  Promise me that you will choose a college within 30 minutes of home (I'm kidding...sort of).  Promise me that you will always remember that you are loved wholly, unconditionally, and in that crazy ,over protective, I-will-break-the-legs-of-anyone-who-tests-me kind of way and that will never let up.  Finally, promise me that when you are a mother, you'll be better than I have been.  Take what you think I've done well on, and improve upon it.  Discard the things that you don't think I did well on.  Just be better.  Know that when you are going through these same things with your children, I'll be here to cry with you because all the things you will be feeling at that time will still be fresh in my mind.  I'll be able to tell you that everything will be okay, just like my mom is telling me now.  She's right, and I'll be right too. 

I almost forgot...promise me one more thing.  Take every opportunity to embarrass (not humiliate) your kids.  You could, oh I don't know, dress up like Alice Cooper and show up at their school on the last day, or run the coat check room at their Homecoming dance and make weird, semi-threatening comments to all the boys and then let them know whose mother you are, leaving your sanity in question to those around you.  I'm just throwing ideas out there.  Your kids may pretend they don't like it at first, but they'll be funny stories to tell later.  Happy Sweet 16 :)



Monday, January 6, 2014

Lend Me A Hand...

            I have a slight obsession with checking out people’s hands.  There, I said it.  It’s weird and perhaps socially unacceptable, but I can’t help it.  I love to look at hands.  They say so much about someone.  A man’s calloused hands and dirt laced fingernails might suggest that he works hard for his family, putting in long hours at his blue-collar job.  A woman’s perfectly manicured, soft hands may say that she is particular about her appearance and takes good care of herself.  A child’s sticky, Play-Doh scented hands say, “I’m a kid.  I’ve been playing all day and I don’t have a care in the world.”  There are two pairs of hands that I’m very familiar with; hands that I’ve seen work, play, and serve others my entire life.  They are the hands of my sisters.

            My sister, Jessica, is six years older than I.  She was like my second mom when we were growing up.  I always loved her hands.  She has long, piano-player fingers and beautiful fingernails.  Her hands were always so gentle with me, whether she was braiding my hair or hugging me, her hands brought me comfort.  I always wanted my hands to look like hers, smooth and flawless.  Now as an adult, I see past the physical appearance of her hands and I see how she uses them to serve those around her.  Jessica’s hands work tirelessly raising her three children all on her own.  Her hands rise early in the day and don’t rest until late at night.  Her hands take care of other people’s children all day in her career as a teacher.  They are calm and kind hands that don’t become easily irritated but have the patience of Job.  Her hands comfort crying children and are always there for a certain little sister :) They are hands that can cook, clean, and single-handedly run a household.  They are hands that I’m sure feel as if sometimes they are running out of steam, but they are hands that keep going, because they have no choice.  They are hands that I hope and pray a sweet, loving man holds in his someday and thanks the Lord for this precious woman by his side.  Jessica’s hands are hands that deserve a man’s respect and adoration for all they have done and for all they continue to do.  Her hands should be admired for being delicate and graceful, but should be regarded for their strength and resilience that is below the surface. 

            My sister, Meri, is older than me by three years.  Meri’s hands are physically the opposite of Jessica’s. They are small and square, like mine, but her hands are nothing short of beautiful because of what you can’t see. Her hands held mine when we were little girls, playing house or when she was reading to me.  Her hands threw a pretty mean punch when we were in high school…but only when absolutely necessary :)   Meri’s hands wiped the sweat from my forehead and fed me ice chips when I was in labor with my fourth baby.  Her hands wiped the tears away from my face when being in labor with said baby was almost too much pain to bear.  I saw Meri’s hands comfort others when she buried her first husband, when it was our hands that should’ve been comforting her.  Her resolve was so great to attempt to heal from that tragedy, and I watched those small hands pick up the pieces of a broken life and rebuild a new one.  Her hands found love again and are now held tightly by the one who loves and adores her ‘til death do them part.  Meri’s hands serve others in every way they can.  Whether she’s reaching in her purse to give out a piece of gum, baking someone a wedding cake, or bringing a meal to someone in need, Meri’s capable hands are always taking care of those around her. Those hands have seen the depths of heartbreak, yet refused to allow any circumstances to keep her down.  With every valley those hands have fallen in to, they have clawed their way back up to the peak and dared anyone to stand in their way on the journey upwards.

            I love my sisters and the examples they have been to me.  They continuously do for others, no matter how tired they may be.  Their hands live to serve and I can’t help but think their hands are not theirs alone, but the hands of Jesus.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Another Trip Down Memory Lane...

      Some time ago, I wrote a post about my early childhood memories.  I wrote it mainly because I had absolutely nothing else to write about and that dreaded "writer's block" has struck again.  So, I'll submit for your approval and for your reading pleasure, (can you tell I love Rod Serling?) my next installment of, "Someone Else's Memories You Don't Really Care About ".

            As I said in my last "memories" post, I remember lots of stuff; unimportant, weird stuff.  I spent the first seven years of my life on a farm in North Dakota.  It was cold and snowy, but I loved it.  To me, it was a huge wonderland that was perfect for a kid like me who just liked to wander around and think about stuff.  One overcast day, I was on one of my "expeditions" in the little clump of trees surrounding our house when I came upon some delicious looking red berries.  They looked like holly berries in a way.  I was getting pretty hungry during this long journey around the yard, so I picked a handful of the berries and ate them like you eat popcorn at the movies;  popping each one in my mouth one-handedly.  I decided after snack time, it was time to go inside.  When my mother saw my face, covered in red berry juice she yelled, "What is all over your mouth and cheeks?!  What did you eat?!"  In my four year old honesty, I said, "I ate those red berries that are all in the trees."  My mom gasped and said (more like growled), "Oh Lindsey!  Those are poisonous!  Why did you do that?!"  Telling her I was hungry seemed like a stupid answer, even to a four year old, so I just shrugged my shoulders.  She made me sit down and drink some milk and she watched me closely for the next half hour or so.  I couldn't figure out what was so bad about what I'd done.  The berries didn't taste bad, a little bitter, but some sugar would've fixed that.  After realizing I wasn't going to die, she sent me to the bathroom to wash my face and hands.  While I was standing at the sink, I thought I better get rid of the pocketful of berries I had saved for dessert.  I took them out and flushed them down the toilet.  I would never know if they tasted better with sugar.

I could never look at Lady Lovely Locks the same way again.
            Sometime after I ingested poison berries, my two older sisters and my older brother and I were playing "Army" out in the woods around our house.  I was on my sister, Jessica's side and we were quietly and carefully treading through a small clearing in the woods.  Jessica would look over her shoulder every so often and put her finger to her lips to "shush" me.  I took "Army" very seriously.  If Neil and Meri heard us, they'd capture us and then we'd lose the war.  Who wants to lose the war?  Not I.  While my fearless leader was proceeding onward, something caught my eye.  It was this huge mound of dirt, hanging from a tree.  I thought it best to go check it out...I did have my gun after all (Not really, it was a huge stick...I was six.  Give me a break).  When I got closer to it, I thought, "This kinda looks like a piƱata!"  So I hit it...hard...and it crashed to the ground.  But instead of tons of delicious candy bursting forth, a swarm of angry hornets descended upon me.  I started screaming and dancing around like an idiot.  "Be quiet!" Jessica warned and then she realized what was happening.  "RUN!" she screamed.  And run I did, faster than I ever have before.  Hornets were stinging me all over and my running and screaming just seemed to spur them on.  I made it inside the house and my mom came to see what all the commotion was.  "What did you do?!" That seemed to be her response to much of what I was involved in.  Not waiting for my answer, she stripped me down to my "Lady Lovely Locks" panties and proceeded to slap me...well, she was slapping the hornets.  For whatever reason, she made me lie on the kitchen table so she could assess the damage.  While she was pulling out stingers and putting cream on each wound, my dad came home.  "What's going on?" he asked.  "Lindsey knocked down a hornets nest with a stick," my mom replied.  My dad, ever the sympathetic said, "Judas Priest." and walked out. That was his go-to phrase when he couldn't think of anything else to say :)  Later that day, we were visiting my mom's friend and my mom proceeded to pull my pants down, exposing those beautiful "Lady Lovely Locks" panties, and show her friend my stings, right in front of her friend's teenage son.  Fantastic.


My beloved.
 For my sixth birthday, I wanted a Keyper.  It was a rubber and plastic toy that came in the form of a snail, or my favorite...the orange and yellow turtle. They came with a key and you could unlock their shells and hide stuff in there.  I thought of all the little goodies I could hide in that shell. My plastic bracelets, maybe some candy, my sister's Michael Jackson card with the still photo from "Billie Jean" that she got out of a gumball machine.  Oh, the possibilities.  My sixth birthday arrived and low and behold...I GOT A KEYPER!  She was lovely, that orange and yellow turtle, smelling of weird, processed fake orange scent mixed with a little whiff of molded rubber and plastic.  I played with that turtle all day, carefully selecting what to hide in her tiny shell.  After I had proudly crammed everything I could think of in her shell, I locked her with the special key and carried her out to the kitchen where my mom was so I could show off my beauty.  I set her on the table and admired her factory-fresh beauty.  Just then, my little brother Stewart came walking in.  I always knew when he was up to no good, just by the smirk on his cute little chubby face.  His eyes were locked on mine and I knew a showdown of epic proportions was looming.  Somewhere in the distance, I'm pretty sure I heard that music from old Westerns when there's about to be a shoot-out.  Stewart swiped my turtle off the table, held it above his head, and threw it on the linoleum kitchen floor.  It all happened so fast.  Curse my slow reflexes!  My beloved lay on the floor in pieces.   She was finished.  We were finished.  The sad remains of my turtle and her secret contents lay scattered about.  I cried and Stewart giggled and ran out.  I felt like my head was on fire, "Mom!  Look at what Stewart did!"  My mom glanced down and said, "Oh, I'm sorry.  Pick up these pieces now and all that other stuff that spilled out of her shell."  Clearly, I was alone in this tragedy, left to my own devices to cope with this grief.  My day in the sun with my ever-longed for turtle was over.  Forever.  As for Stewart...I got him back years later when I tore all the stuffing out of his prized sock monkey.  Long story as to the circumstances surrounding the monkey's demise, but Lindsey-1, Sock Monkey-0.

           Thank you for joining me on yet another rambling trip down memory lane!  I really hope you'll join me next time :)