Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Love the Mothers!

My son, Tuck, throwing a fit at 2 years old.
I visited Prescott National Forest in Arizona this weekend. No hiking. No sniffing trees (well, deep in the forest anyway). I was on a bigger mission, you see. I was there to snuggle some babies.

My friend, Mary, invited me out for a visit because her husband was going to be out of town for the weekend. While a few years ago, this might have meant late nights and karaoke, maybe even a crazy adventure, these days it is all about family. And survival. With a new baby only a few weeks old, plus an active two-year-old, I was there to be an extra pair of hands and feet.  

I felt honored to be asked. It made me feel like a seasoned pro since I know what it's like to be a mother of two boys, though mine are 10 and (almost) eight now. I should have known my inflated sense of self, and mothering, would be taught a valuable lesson. It happened. This weekend. Big time. 

Here is what I learned from my time in Arizona:

1. I like my sleep. Newborns don't sleep. I've become selfish about sleep now that my kids are older. #SELFISH.

2. The energy of two-year-olds is incredible. I wish I could bottle that shit. I mean, seriously, how do you they not tucker out after hours of jumping, talking, laughing, and running from you? I'm getting exhausted just writing this.

3. Poop and spit up. All the time. Plus, someone always needs milk (out of your breast or out of the fridge). You are a helper every minute from dawn until dusk. Unfortunately, you can't even pass out after that because you're on for the night shift, too.

4. Time makes you forget the overwhelmingness of new babies. This may be so you'll eventually have more babies one day. Sadly, it also makes you forget and become a little less empathetic to those mothers, and your dear friends, working the day, evening, and night shift. Hug them tight. They really do need it.

5. Becoming a mother is one of the most bonding experiences you'll ever have with your girlfriends. No one can explain the happiness, tiredness, love, fear, and exhaustion that consumes you every minute those first few weeks. Well, your whole life really. Only a mother knows.

When I returned home, I hugged my own boys tight, who looked gigantic from those sweet babies in Arizona. I cried, too. I was reminded how fast the years have passed without my consent and how I've moved on to an entirely different phase in my life. A good one, just different. I am now the mother who spends hours at the table doing homework versus rocking her babies to sleep in the nursery. It was a humbling and heartfelt experience.

I then took a three-hour power nap. Parenting is exhausting.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Kids, Supper is Ready!

When people ask me to do something that is out of my comfort zone, I almost always try to say yes. I know. I'm a glutton for punishment. But it's like I need to know in my heart that I can keep growing and learning and improving. 

This is how I ended up writing and delivering a monologue at church this past Sunday about the Lord's Supper. I wrote it from the heart, and then felt so nervous right before delivering it that I swear I heard my knees knocking. I guess I worried no one would care or, even worse, think that silly childhood memories had no place at worship. But I did it. And it felt so good (after the nerves resided) to have shared!

People were so kind. I even got a wonderful note from an encouraging friend thanking me for sharing my heart with a stern, "Now, post this to your blog!" A true blogger knows to do this automatically because consistent posts are key. I'm still practicing, I guess. My last post was in June.

So, here's my speech and my stretch for this week. Oh, and a new blog post! God bless. 

Kids, Supper is Ready

When I was growing up, it was just my mom and I. No dad in the picture. No brothers or sisters. Not…even…a…dog. We lived in this tiny two bedroom apartment on the bottom floor of an apartment complex. Though it was small, my mom was a cleaner and it was the tidiest place you have ever seen. Everything had a place. And with no dad, or brothers or sisters, or even a barking dog, it was the quietest place to grow up. A little too quiet, if you ask me.

So I would leave our tidy little apartment every Saturday morning, jump on my fast moving bike, and circle the neighborhood looking for some fun. And circle it I did. I would ride to the school and swing on the swings. Go to the park and play at the playground. Then grab some five-cent gum at Bob’s Corner Market. But my favorite destination, by far, was the house up the street owned by the Nesheim’s.  

You see, the Nesheim’s were not a quiet family. They couldn’t be. They had eight kids, or 10 kids, or 12. Nobody actually knew. I was friends with Darcy and she was always the one I was looking for when I knocked on the door. But there were plenty more to play with once you got inside.

While it wasn’t a big house for all those kids, it was an interesting house. One of my favorite parts was the long hallway down to the bedrooms. Remember all those kids? On the hallway wall, from the very tippy top to as low as you can go, they had each child’s picture framed, year by year, as they grew. Brothers and sisters, all ages and ethnicity's, because they also fostered and adopted kids, lined wall after wall. It was awkward smile after awkward smile. I would stand there forever soaking all that family in. One day, I even brought one of my school pictures to their house, the small wallet size so it wouldn’t be as noticeable, and I taped it up next to the other ones. I wanted to be one of their kids so desperately.

At dinner time, Mrs. Nesheim would yell through the house, “Kids,  supper is ready…everyone grab a seat at the table!” Kids would come running from everywhere. It was never stated, but always known, that you were always welcome, family or friend, to join them for dinner. They had a BIG table. It was so big, it not only had chairs, but it also had benches. You squeezed in wherever you could find a seat and it was a loud affair. Lots of talking and laughing and passing of food. Even a few elbows and dinner rolls to the face, but it was home. I’m not sure how she did it, because they were not a rich family with an endless supply of food, but no one was ever turned away. I remember being so hungry to be fed at that bustling table.

It also seemed like no matter what time of day you were at the Nesheim home there was always someone to talk with. An older brother to laugh with or a young sister to share with. There was also my dear friend, Darcy, to share my secrets with. I even remember talking with her mom at the kitchen table one night about something heavy on my heart. I poured it all out and someone was there to soak it up and listen. Whenever anyone walked out the door, there was always a big hug with a “Don’t be a stranger now.” I would then return to my quiet, tiny, tidy apartment down the hill with my heart full.

When I was thinking about the Lord’s Supper we’re going to share this morning and its significance at the last supper with Jesus and all his disciples, I kept thinking about the Nesheims. Mainly, how their example and love mirrored so much what God hopes for us as his children. God loves us passionately and unconditionally. He has this huge hallway with all the pictures of his children, all ages and ethnicities and awkward smiles, and we are all part of one big family. Sometimes we feel like we are put together and framed perfectly, but often we are taped up haphazardly, and he loves us just the same. 

Like this morning, we are all invited to his table. It is a big, loud, messy place sometimes, maybe even a few elbows along the way, but its promise is so much more. A place to be fed, a place to belong, a place of hope. There is always a seat at the table for you. It doesn’t have to be spoken, it’s just known.

Just as God loves us, he is also always listening to us. He laughs with us, cries with us, helps us sort out all those things we are wrestling with and talking over and over in our head. He knows our secrets. When we walk out the door and away from him, he squeezes us tight and reminds us to not be a stranger. His love is always waiting for us back home. 

So, I say to you….“Kids,  supper is ready…everyone grab a seat at the table!” You are loved and invited.