Tonight? A simple, NOM-y stir fry. Easy to make. Lots of fresh veg and health!
Tonight? A simple, NOM-y stir fry. Easy to make. Lots of fresh veg and health!
No, really. Sometimes I have brilliant parenting moments. Like today, in the car on the 5-minute ride home from school:
“Mom, did you bring me a snack?”
“I reeeeeally want a snack, MOOOOOOM-uhhhh!”
“Well, what kind of snack would you like?”
“Great. I have imaginary gummy fruit in the car and REAL gummy fruit at home. Which do you want?”
“Real gummy fruit.”
“Ok, but then you have to wait until you get home.”
Or that one time we were at the playground and all the other kids weren’t really listening to their moms. Most of them were around the age of two and basically just acting like two-year-olds. I smiled at one of the moms, assuring her that they listen better when they’re four. Because I’m a sage. I’m an experienced mother. Of course, it was at that moment all the moms turned to listen to me, the wise mom, call my son off the playground to go home.
“Time to go!”
Please God, please God, please God let him come.
“Abe, do you want to lose a check mark?”
“No. Ok, mom. I’m coming.”
The other moms were quiet as I silently and INVISIBLY did the wave. One of the moms said, “Check marks, huh? So that’s ya do it. Check marks…”
Now, did I stay and explain to those moms that “check marks” on his chore chart JUST started working in the past three months and that there is NO hope it will work on their two-year-olds and a LOT of the time it doesn’t even work on my four-year-old?
No. No I did not.
There are a lot more moments as Abe gets older that I feel like a rockstar mom. Teaching him to write letters and then realizing he remembers them when we play sidewalk chalk. Helping him button a shirt and then watching him do it by himself the next time. Showing him how to hold a leash and then walking the dogs together every night after dinner.
Now Bella did pull him off a curb and into a puddle and he scratched his knee tonight on our evening walk, but STILL. He’s WALKING.
I know as his mom, my own feelings about mothering him will ebb and flow. Some days I will feel like I got it right and some days I’ll go to bed with a bowl of parmesan stove-top popped corn and watch reruns of Intervention not that I’ve ever done that or that I’m doing that right now. Obviously I’ll never stop trying. And I’ll celebrate every moment that I figure out a way to side-step an argument or impress other moms with my skillz.
Ever have your own Brilliant Moment in Parenting?
I have been busier than I like to be these past few months. I’m working more than usual in order to pay off these medical bills once and for all (I’m so close!). I’m also working to SAVE money, which means I’m cooking more for this new little family of mine and creating the things we need instead of buying them. It’s not been leaving enough room for me to breath and relax and blog, but I’m not ready to apologize for that just yet. My focus is shifted and that’s kind of OK. It happens to everyone, right?
But I heard an AWESOME sermon this past weekend and, in it, Pastor Rick Bezet from Arkansas was talking about words and just how powerful they are (so I needed to blog it). He specifically mentioned the ESPN reporter who was suspended over the awful words she spoke to a towing company representative. But he didn’t bring her up to talk about how powerful HER words were. He brought her up because she made the news: a woman who was yelling at an employee.
Take that same clip but change the roles to husband and wife…and it wouldn’t make news.
Because, unfortunately using nasty or dismissive words in a marriage is far more common.
Now, I’m not abusive with my words and luckily my partner isn’t either, but I have used words I shouldn’t have before.
“Guess what, E?”
“You ended up having to fire that guy?”
Words don’t just hurt. They can kill joy in a relationship. Dr. Phil always asks, “Do you wanna be right? Or do you wanna be happy?” Sometimes it’s not just choosing abusive words, but choosing selfish or thoughtless words that begin to drain the joy out of a relationship.
I am soooooo guilty of being a typical woman, talking all the time while Bear attempts to get a word in edgewise until he eventually gives up. I finish his sentences, I guess his thoughts because I need to know what they are RIGHT NOW, I talk until eventually he talks back (probably just so he can hear another voice talking!)…
Alright, I’m not THAT awful.
But the Pastor mentioned a little acronym in his sermon that I thought Yeeeeah. I need to remember that.
He said that pausing when you’re in a conversation is as easy as W.A.I.T.
Did you giggle, too?
I know there are about 1,000 times a day I could use this acronym on myself. Honestly, I didn’t realize until I began dating Bear just HOW MUCH I TALK, and how unnecessary this much talking really is. Communicating is SUPER important, but it can be done in few words or, even better…LATER! It can be done LATER! You don’t have to say it all right now!!!!
I also continue talking to people who don’t need (or deserve) all the information I’m giving them. My mouth gets going and by the end of the conversation I’ve explained, in detail, how my OBGYN didn’t get to me soon enough for that episiotemy I needed. And the next door neighbor now wonders why he asked how old Abe is…
I don’t think men, on the whole, are quite KNOWN for their communication. Not like women, anyway. But what I’ve learned is that when Bear isn’t talking, he is still actually communicating. Sometimes he’s just saying, “I don’t want to talk.” Sometimes he’s saying, “I am upset and if I talk right now, the words won’t come out right so I’m being smarting and W.A.I.T.ing.” Figuring out that flapping my gums isn’t always the fastest way to get my point across has been a pretty big deal.
How many of us women could stand to let other people do the talking?
What would happen if a few times while you’re sharing, or over-sharing, you ran “W.A.I.T.” through your mind? Would you notice you don’t need to keep talking?
I’m going to try it.
You should try it, too.
Starting right now.
(It’s writing, not talking out loud, so it doesn’t count.)
It’s been almost a year since I broke my leg.
It was this time last year that I was finishing my first round of the 21 Day Fix. It’s a 3-week fitness and clean-eating program that kick-starts your health into high gear. They say it takes 21 days to break a habit. I can tell you that, in my experience, that third week is when the magic starts to happen.
This round was no different.
Suddenly in the third week my weights felt too light. I could easily finish the cardio portions without stopping. And this time, in the third week I started to feel the muscles in my left leg.
When I started working out again, I would go to try a lunge or a squat and I literally couldn’t find the muscles I was supposed to be using. I am so used to favoring my left leg by over-using my right, or by walking in a funny way like on my toe or the outside of my foot, that when it came time to use my leg properly, I couldn’t figure out how to engage my butt muscle, my quads, even my calves. I sat in squats and lunges for 20, maybe 30 seconds just trying to figure out where I should be feeling the movement without the help of any other body parts.
It was incredibly strange.
I still have trouble with that, but it’s definitely better.
I didn’t do this round of the 21 Day Fix to lose weight, or even tone up really (though that was a lovely bi-product). I did it because I wanted to find out if I would ever be the same again. It’s a very strange place, coming down the mountain after a horrendous climb. It’s just as treacherous, just as difficult…it’s just that it looks like it should be easier so no one pays attention to you during your descent back to firm ground. I was sad, just plain sad some days these past three weeks seeing how much my left leg had forgotten. But I’m super happy today watching my leg re-learn a whole lot. It feels awesome to know that it can and will happen. I might always have that pain in my left hip or that pinched nerve in my lower back from the rod or that wobbly-knee feeling. So, like the past year, I can say that better doesn’t equal the same as before.
Better = different.
If you want to try the 21 Day Fix, join up with me and the awesome group of women who push themselves right along with me. They’re moms and teachers and nurses and lawyers and unemployed…just like you. 🙂
Bear has been in home, in bed, all week. This is VERY unlike him. He is usually on the go all. the. time.
But after surgery he has been FORCED to lie down, be still, and relax. It’s a major role reversal.
This morning while running around like a chicken with my head cut off, he looked at me. From the bed he looked at me with a face like, “Hey.”
“What?” I asked.
“Come here,” he said.
“I’m going to be late. I’ve gotta get Abe to school.”
“Come here,” he repeated.
I moved to his side of the bed and sat down. He looked at me, and then reached out to give me a hug, a kiss, and a quick deep stare into my eyes. I breathed quickly, waiting for it to be over so I could get on the road.
“You know, when I leave the house in the morning before work, I am rushed, too.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“And sometimes I have to stop myself and say, ‘You kiss that woman before you leave this house.’ It’s not always natural. But there is nothing more important, not being late or having commitments anywhere else, nothing is more important that us.”
These things, these relationship things…they don’t happen on their own. (Not much does.) Here I have been thinking that it’s this natural thing for him to wrap me up in his arms when he gets home from work, look at me from across a room and tell me I’m beautiful…and surely some of it is. But so much of it I am realizing is INTENTIONAL. It is not up to him to do to all of these things in our relationship because they’re “easier” for him. It is his choice to pay attention to me. To love me. To say good morning to me.
How many things in my life do I expect to just…go? I expect my friends to just be my friends, my job to be there every day, my boyfriend to just love me all the time. And I know I can be intentional. I am intentional with my son’s education, the food that goes into my body, the way I snuggle my dogs. But I somehow think that my car will just stay clean after I wash it that one time. Like…it should just stay that way.
It makes no sense.
My main squeeze, my romantic relationship is the one that is (and should be) teaching me the most. I cannot float through life expecting that the things I care about will not grow and strengthen without my intention, without my focus. And the question becomes: where do I choose to focus my intention? It’s so hard to even SEE where I’m missing the mark. It’s hard to pinpoint the areas that I’m not intentionally paying attention to until they cry out for my attention. When they do, when it’s a five-alarm fire, I can pay attention VERY quickly. As my mom says, I sure can “summon strength.” I can summon intention, too. And so I have to…intentionally…choose the focus on my intention on certain things; like kissing my sweetie before I leave the house. I don’t want my relationship to become a five-alarm fire before I pay attention to it.
I have written the word “intention” way too many times.
Can you find even a single way to add an intentional action to one of your relationships? What can you do to let another person in your life know that you are making a choice to keep them around? I know it’s not something that anyone ever taught me (I didn’t have an example after my father passed when I was 7) and it CERTAINLY doesn’t come easy to me. But it’s a lesson given to me now. And I’m bound and determined to learn these things. He deserves that.
My son is brilliant. Plain and simple.
FAR more brilliant than your kids.
He says things to me like, “I can’t carry the backpack because I’m full of hands.”
Tonight he said, “Mom, I’m feeling frustrated that you’re disappointed with me.”
I was disappointed because he’d spent 10 minutes in the shower wailing that the shower wasn’t a bath.
He has no reservations about attempting to communicate and effectively obliterating the English language and all its nuances. He will say what seems close to being right without an ounce of embarrassment or concern.
Every day I pick him up from school, I ask him if he made good choices. Usually if he didn’t make good choices, he begins telling on himself before I can even ask the question. “Hey mom, today in school Norman had a toy that I wanted and I pushed him and then he pushed me and then Ms. Suzanne had to have a talk with us.” And on the way to school we talk about using words and not hands, taking care of only ourselves, and caring about the other friends in our class. “Today, mom, I’m going to HELP someone play with a toy,” he’ll say. I know he’s probably not going to do that unless someone offers him candy, but still. He says it…and that’s adorable.
The other night I was tired and ready for Abe to be in bed so that, frankly, I could be in bed. I kissed him quickly on the forehead after his bath, helping him to fill out his chore chart, brushing teeth, putting on jammies, and reading a bedtime story, and I turned off his light. “MOM! WAIT!”
“What is it, bud?”
“You forgot to hug me.”
Yeah. Yep. What did that last line do to you right there? Pangs of guilt? An “awwww” noise? The desire to throw yourself at the first random child you see and squeeze them until all their air is gone?
“You’re right. I did. I’m so sorry.”
I hugged him and he hugged me SO tightly. “I love you, mom.”
“I love you so much, Abe.”
There are days he fights over how many snacks he gets, whether or not he has to wear shoes outside, how long he has to brush his teeth. There are days I get phone calls from school about his impulsive behavior interrupting the other kids. There are days that he doesn’t stop talking to BREATHE for hours on end.
Then there are evenings like tonight, when we were at Bear’s son’s soccer game and Abe was bored. “Look, Abe, two other little kids. Go see what they’re doing and ask them to play.”
I couldn’t finish the suggestion before he was bolting towards them. “Hi, I’m Abe,” I heard him say. They immediately all three started running and picking up sticks and pretending to go fishing in the retention pond by the field. He had no reservations about making friends. Nor about explaining to them the kind of “fish” he caught: “This is a Lava Hoomoo fish and it shoots lava out of its tail at sharks and it’s red. This is a Roovey Hoomoo Hama fish and it shoots toys out of its tail so that sharks play with the toys and they are distracted and don’t eat it and it’s grey and red and purple; three colors…” His interactions with them was effortless, and his imagination endless.
Four year olds are really hard some days. They know just enough to negotiate really badly. They are essentially tiny, horrible lawyers. And it’s defeating when you realize you’re arguing with someone who still announces every time he has to poop…in public. But I love this age. I love it so much that I wrote a blog about it. And I wish I could freeze him right here forever. I know a lot of people would freeze their itty-bitty babies, but I would freeze my four-year-old forever.
I only get four and a half more months of a four-year-old. Then he’s five and, to me, that means he’s done being little. He’ll be semi-big. Like, an almost-big kid. I remember staring at him when he was sleeping for 20 minutes at a time four years ago thinking that this would never, ever end. He will never sleep, never walk, never talk, never be ANYTHING but another thing for me to take care of. And the time didn’t “fly by” like everyone said it would. But here I am, now staring at a little boy who will sleep for 12 hours straight and then wake me up in the morning with a gentle snuggle and a whispered, “Mom, can I watch my iPad in bed?”
When I was young, say 10 years old, I discovered the theatre. I found a culture of people who were gifted, creative, incredibly respectful and kind, and who made it be ok to be me. I learned TRUE manners in the theatre.
“Erin, next time you take that cross, please move a little faster. You’re upstaging the action when you move that slowly.”
In theatre, you always say THANK YOU when a director gives you a note. You say it to acknowledge you heard it but also to let your director know that you respect their ideas. The lighting designer might announce light cues, to which the techies would reply, “Thank you.” Everyone is acknowledging and thanking people all day in the theatre, not because they are fake and cheesed out, but because that’s just what you DO.
It became a part of my vernacular as an adult. I thank people. A lot.
“Would you like to donate $1 to the March of Dimes today?”
“No, not today, but thank you for asking.” (Oh, I donate plenty of dollars to the March of Dimes, but I don’t do it EVERY TIME.)
I am constantly acknowledging and thanking people because I spent my formative years doing it.
I spent this past weekend with Bear, holed up in our house because he had a minor surgical procedure on Friday. He’s pretty sore and kind of tired, but in really good spirits. We knew we would be stuck laying low for the entire weekend beforehand, so we didn’t have any plans. Our only objective was to stay together and relaxed.
And so, we ate in bed together. I cooked and he worked himself into a seated position. We watched TV shows. We walked around Target for about 15 minutes, just to look at things.
“That would be a good basket for the table,” he pointed.
“Oh yeah. I like the brown one.”
We also talked. We talked a lot. In a few pain med-induced moments, and some completely lucid, he shared things with me. I told him about how different out relationship feels from any other one I’ve ever known about. He told me stories of when he was a kid and how being with me makes him feel. It wasn’t all romantic and dramatic or anything. It was just…talking. The kind of talking that we haven’t had the time to do in a while because kids/work/hobbies/sickness/etc.
It was one of the greatest weekends I’ve ever shared with him. I waited on him hand and foot and he just sat back and enjoyed the break (something he rarely does). Seems crazy that it would fall into a “best of” category, but it did.
So last night before I climbed into bed, I wrote a thank you note. I literally addressed and wrote an entire, formal thank you letter to God. I didn’t want Bear to have surgery, I don’t want him to be in pain. But I was lucky enough that it gave us a few days to connect and enjoy each other as people. No big reveals. No trips. No fancy dinners. No big plans. Just movies and naps and me organizing the garage while he slept. I thanked God for the weekend we got to spend together and that’s it. I know that we all thank God when something AMAZING happens and I know that we all ask him for a lot of stuff! But my habit of saying “thank you” and my acknowledgment of the little, everyday miracles that came out of that surgery reinvigorated me. I rarely ACTUALLY stop to be grateful for the little things unless it’s because I feel like I should (“I’m grateful for this ice maker.” “I’m grateful for the sun today.”). So this time feels different.
Thank you for reading.
“What’s included in your happy hour?”
“Half-off single well drinks, draft beer, bottle beer, and house wine.”
“Ok. Are the bloody mary’s here good?”
“They are! Most of my customers like them.”
“Right, but do people come here FOR your bloody mary’s, or do they settle because that’s what they drink anyway?”
“I think people come here for the bloody mary’s sometimes…”
“Well, do you like them?
“I don’t drink tomato juice so…”
“Ok, so you’re the wrong person to ask. Well, maybe I’ll just have a margarita.”
“Sure, do you want it frozen or on the rocks?”
“Is the frozen super crunchy or is it like smooth ice?”
“Ok, I’ll have frozen.
“Do you want salt on the rim?”
“Um…is it the kind…no just nevermind. Yes. With salt on the rim.”
“Oh, and it’s still happy hour, right?”
“Yes, but the margarita has two alcohols in it, and our half-off happy hour is only for single well drinks.”
“Oh. Ok. Then never mind. I’ll just have water.”
“The bloody mary is a single well, if you want that.”
“Oh, really? And you said the bloody mary is good here?”
“I think so. People seem to like it.”
“Right, but you don’t drink tomato juice.”
“I can come back if you…”
“No, it’s fine. Hmm…ok. Well, um. I wanted a…no it’s fine. Ok. I’ll have a bloody mary.”
“Alright. Bloody mary coming up.”
“And what can I get for you to drink, sir?”
“Bottle of Miller Light.”
Pastor Furtick said during his Easter sermon that God is already there with a plan for when you fall, turn away, and come back. He didn’t say “if” you turn back in faith, he said, “when.” Like eventually you know you’re gonna. And it got me thinking…I am SUPER good at believing God for things when the circumstances in my life suck. If I’m getting divorced, I lose my job, I break my leg…I have 100% unwavering faith in God. I don’t throw my hands up and say, “Oh great. God failed me again.” I usually say something like, “There’s a reason for this. If I can get through it with faith, the other side will be oh-so-sweet.”
You know what’s messed up, tho?
I don’t turn away from God when most people’s faith would waver. I do it when things are going WELL. I’m counting down the days to the next disaster. I’m not sitting around being all grateful for the upturn. I’m panicking about the next downturn. Or maybe more constructive than panicking, I’m PLANNING. I’m sitting down to a business meeting in my head with the What-If Monsters and ticking through a list of horrible possibilities so that I can plan for every worst case scenario.
Isn’t that adorable? I think I can predict every worst case scenario? Like hitting a tree with a boat and breaking my femur and three ribs?!?! ‘CUZ THAT WASN’T ON THE LIST.
Here I am today making enough money to pay my bills, healthy, and loved on all sides (with lots of love to give, too) and what do I think about everyday?
“Babe? You’re not going to leave me, right?”
“Ummm…no.” He gives me the “wtf are you talking about face” when he answers me.
“Ok. Are you sure?”
“Why are you asking me this?” He looks down at his arms and legs as if his “infidelity is showing” or something.
“I…I….I dunno. But you’re sure, right?”
“Yeah. I’m sure. You’re my one and only.”
“Ok. Love you, Little Bird.”
“But you’re DEFINITELY not going to leave me, right…”
The What-If Monsters aren’t as good at knowing what’s coming as God is. They aren’t really aimed at peace and love and joy, so their predictions are more based on totally ruining my life as opposed to a path that will teach me the most. So that begs the question…Why did God even INVENT What-If Monsters?! Because to have light, we start with dark. To have grace, we start with…the opposite of grace. (I dunno, I googled it but I didn’t find any words that fit.) If I want to build muscle, I need resistance like heavy weights. If I want to build faith, I need life’s roadblocks. And when there AREN’T any roadblocks around and life is lovely, I just use God’s handy-dandy What-If Monsters.
Ok. I don’t think God created What-If Monsters. What I’m saying is: life’s challenges include the ones we create for ourselves.
You are creating a challenge for yourself right now. You’re worrying about the bills, the weather for this weekend, the amount of time you spend with your kids and whether or not it’s enough, whether or not your spouse will be in a good mood today…You’re worrying about problems that aren’t even problems yet. You pre-gamed in college, you pre-worry as an adult. (That’s why college was way better.) So remember that God will test your faith. He’ll do it, I promise. So in between challenges and tests…relax. Have a cocktail. Go on vacation. Smell a flower.
Seriously. Go smell a flower.