Who I’m trying to be

JR and I are working our way through Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quintet. I remembered loving A Wrinkle in Time when I was a kid, and once I read the opening sentence (“It was a dark and stormy night”), JR was hooked.

At this point, we’re a few chapters into the audio version of A Swiftly Tilting Planet. It’s the third book in the series and is built on the premise of Charles Wallace’s task to travel through time (and through people’s mind) to prevent nuclear war.

Yeah. Heavy stuff, given the current whackadoo feeling of the times.

JR is partial to the first book, but at this point I’m all schmoopy over the second one: A Wind in the Door, due much in part to a paragraph that occurs early on in the story. Mr. Murry is attempting to comfort his wife in a moment of desperation. Not just desperation, really. More like borderline hopelessness. He says…

Those words were like a punch in the gut to me when I first read them. But a good punch, if there is such a thing.

Yes. That. I remember thinking, feeling a lump rise in my throat as I read the words aloud to our son nestled in the crook of my arm. I had to pause and blink back tears before I could go on. There’s something about holding my boy tucked into his bed that makes everything about the world–good and bad–seem so much more…more. Everything feels so big and so small at the same time.

You see, I want those words to be true. Sometimes I even believe they are. And in the times when I’m less sure of them, I want to at least be one of the people Mr. Murry is talking about.

I want to be a person who keeps promises. Let’s all be that. It’s a start.

It’s quite something, really.

Hama

When JR was around a year old, he started doing this thing when he needed help. It was sort of a whine, sort of a goat-ish whinny.

Eeeeehhhh. Eh. Ehhhhhhhhhh!

As you can imagine, hearing that on repeat day in and day out gets to a person. So in order to preserve my sanity, I offered him an alternative that was a little more verbal, a little less guttural.

“Help, Mama,” I suggested. “Say ‘Help, Mama,’ and I will.”

We practiced it–me showing him how to shape the sounds in his mouth, him pushing out his interpretation of them: “Hep-ama.”

As time went on, he eventually mashed those sounds together, and they became “Hama.” And because much of a mother’s (or parent’s) role in a child’s early years is to provide help, I soon became “Hama” to him. When he needed help, I answered. To him I was no longer Mama; I was Hama.

***

For the last several years I’ve participated in a weekly Women’s bible study at our church. We’re studying Mark this semester, and today we looked at Chapter 10. Jesus teaches about quite a few things in this chapter, but we spent a good chunk of our time talking about three short verses:

“And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’ And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”

Most of the women who attend this study are mothers to young children, so it was easy for us to imagine how children receive things: relentlessly and joyfully, without pretense or hesitation, and with unfiltered expectation and acceptance.

That’s how Jesus wants us–all of us–to receive Him. That’s how he wants us to come to Him.

What if I could approach Him in the messy, grabby, stoked way a child pursues what he or she wants? What if I accepted His grace in that way? What if I believed–like really, deep-down-in-my-gut-believe–in what Jesus says about the Holy Spirit in John 14?

Oh the have that kind of faith. A faith that changes His name to Help, Jesus.

A thing

This afternoon we will go to JR’s second soccer class. It’s very important to JR that you all understand he is not on a soccer team; he goes to soccer class. He doesn’t feel confident enough to play on a team yet, so we’re going this route to build up his skills. Then we’ll see. We aren’t going to push him either way. Ross and I are both non-athletes (I don’t count schlepping myself to-and-fro in the name of cardiac health as being an athlete), so we didn’t expect to have a sporty kid on our hands. Even if JR does look very much the part when he dons his headband before heading out onto the field with his teammates classmates.

The way we see it, right now it’s our job to expose him to a variety of different “things”, in the hope that one day he’ll find his “thing.” He did Tball last Spring and swimming the year before that. On the 28th he’ll do his second kids run. And in the summer he’ll take a stab at coding with CodeVA, an awesome organization in our area that is fighting to make computer science more than an elective. His soul-crushing obsession with Minecraft tipped us off that this particular activity would probably be a good fit.

I’m interested to see how it all goes. As someone who doesn’t really have a “thing”–I mean, I can be funny sometimes, and I think I read more books than the average mother of an elementary schoolers, but I dunno–I’ve always felt like I’ve missed out. I don’t play a musical instrument or a sport or make anything with my hands on a regular basis–no skill that I’ve taken time to cultivate and turn into something. I really want that for my kid, whatever it turns out to be.

Unless it’s Minecraft. I might have to exercise my parental veto on that one.

Big-little

Lately he seems so big. He leans on things casually. He makes jokes. He rolls his eye at the appropriate times, for Pete’s sake.

But every now and then, he gives me a glimpse of his babyself, making me pause so I can soak it up while it’s still there.

So long sweet summer…

Today is Labor Day which basically means Summer is over (even though next week’s forecast indicates that Richmond is going to drag her feet about cooling off). Today is also my “Last Monday” with JR.

His school offered us the chance to increase his number of days from 2 to 3, and since he’s getting older, and elementary school is no long very far down the road (WUT.), we decided to make it work. Thankfully, my job working for our church seems to grow at the exact rate I need it to, and this was a good time for me to take on more hours.

We’ll still spend Tuesdays and Wednesdays together, and I think my extra time in the office will allow me to really make those days about our time together, instead of still having to squeeze work in every now and then.

It’s a good thing for us. JR is stoked to have more time with his friends, and even though we’ve got the added expense of an extra day at school, my new hours should be enough to give us a little extra breathing room, financially.

But I’m sad. Saaaaaaaad.

Because here’s the thing: he’ll be gone 3 days a week. Next fall we’re hoping to get him into the pre-K program at our neighborhood public school. Pre-K is all week long and lasts all day (or at least regular school hours). So basically this next phase marks our final days of “being home together” before he’s at school 5 days a week…until he graduates from high school and leaves me forever.

As you can see, I’m feeling a bit dramatic about it. But I don’t care because, dudes, my baby is a boy and he won’t quit growing and it’s really REALLY pissing me off.

Also, here’s a video that has nothing to do with anything; it’s just cute:

SAHM, WOHM, WAHM, WTF, Y’ALL

(Look! A post! With real words!)

I’ve been wanting to write about this for several days, ever since the hooplah over Ann Romney and Hillary Rosen all exploded in everyone’s faces and that horrible term “Mommy Wars” started popping up everywhere…again. I even agonized over whether I should share my thoughts in the parenting column I do over at RVANews because maybe it would be a welcome departure from me being all gooey about JR.

But when it came down to actually putting pen to paper (which I actually do when writing those columns…at least before putting fingers to keyboard)…I realized I didn’t really have anything to say. Nothing particularly inspiring or provocative at least. Because here’s the thing: I’ve been pretty much every working/not working while mothering scenario since JR made his arrival. And they are all hard. That’s it. End of story. They are hard.

I spent the first few weeks of JR’s life as a stay-at-home mom. It was hard.

I spent the remainder of JR’s first year as a work-at-home mom three days a week and a work-outside-of-the-home-mom the rest of the week. It was hard.

I spent almost 18 months as a full-time, work-outside-of-the-home-mom. It was hard.

I now work outside of the home two days a week and spend the remainder of the week as a stay-at-home-mom (but sometimes a work-at-home-mom, depending on how well my days in the office go). It IS hard.

IT IS ALL HARD.

Don’t get me wrong, each scenario has some wonderful parts, some fantastic “perks”, if you will, but each also comes with struggle, guilt, stress, and (as always) exhaustion.

Mothering is hard. Parenting is hard. But I wonder if we could maybe make it less hard by fighting the urge to judge one another on how we go about it?

The way I love you

I know it’s been nothing but videos and photos up in here lately, but, well, I’m just being kind of lazy these days. AND LOVIN’ IT.

I wanted to share this video with all of you because it is fantastic and will make you cry ugly-yet-happy tears. And then you’ll go and hold your babies so very tight because, oh my, how time is cruelly and wonderfully fleeting. Also: why did I never learn to play the guitar and then become a beautiful singer with a wonderful voice and an ethereal quality bystanders cannot help but love?

(Thanks to Patience for posting this last week and to The Checkout Girl for telling her about it.)

In related news, I’ve got a piece going up on RVANews tomorrow (Tuesday) about the lullabys (lullabyes?) I sing to JR. I so wish I could go back in time and sing this song to the baby version of him. Anyway, keep an eye out for it…and make sure to leave a comment sharing your favorite baby-lulling tunes.

On the hunt

I mentioned in my last post (that went up like a bagillion years ago) that I’d like to be more intentional about how I spend my time with JR. I don’t have plans on scheduling us to the point of exhaustion, but I’d like to have this conversation a bit less frequently…

Him: What are we doing today, Mama?

Me: Um. Well. Hmmm…hey, here’s some crackers!

So the other day I decided to take advantage of the nice(r) weather we’d been having and sent JR on a scavenger hunt. He was in charge of holding the list, finding the objects, and checking them off as we went. I was in charge of taking pictures so we could show his dad when he got home.

Here’s what we found:


A red car


A soccer ball


A stop sign (the sun was in his eyes)


A squirrel (it’s up in that tree back there, I swear)


A flower (also in the background…and I don’t know what JR is doing)


A bike


And our checklist

The whole thing took us about 30 minutes (JR has a tendency to get distracted and we had a lot of “No, YOU the hold the pay-perrrrrr” at first) and ended up being a lot of fun. Recommended!

On the fly

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Earlier today JR declared he wanted to do a “prahyect.” (That’s “project” for those of you who don’t speak preschool). So I came up with this, all impromptu like.

Yep. This former elementary school teacher’s still got it.

*dusts off hands, pats on back, various preening behavior, etc.*