Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

The snow is softly falling (again) onto the thick blanket of snow already on the yard, the tree is trimmed, the presents are (mostly) wrapped, and the menus are set.  Our little family has settled into our own traditions in the last several years, and I cherish them.  We’ll have a fun supper tonight, and for dessert, a birthday cake for Baby Jesus (complete with singing Happy Birthday to Him).  The boys will acolyte at the candlelight Service, and then we’ll come home and exchange one gift each.  Dad will read The Christmas Story, “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, we’ll leave some cookies for Santa, and go to bed so he can come.  The dogs will talk to each other and the rabbit at midnight (or so my German Grandpa used to tell me that all the animals talk at midnight on Christmas Eve), and we’ll wake up on Christmas morning to quiche, stollen, and coffee…oh, and presents!
My greatest gift this year, however, is that of my family.  I had ovarian cancer when I was 17.  Had I gone to a different doctor, my hopes of having natural children would have been lost (very important to an adopted 17 year old self).  The doctor I saw, however, helped me maintain my fertility and promised I’d have children someday.  I still was worried, and was thankful that I met my husband at a young age and he also wanted to be a young father.  We had our first miracle 11 months after we married; I was 22 and Dad was 23.  The second miracle came 3 years later.  We were blessed.  We had hoped for more (I wanted 6 children, but Dad, the eldest of 6 said “no way!” so we settled on 4), but they didn’t come.  For a long time, this upset me, and when I found out friends were expecting, I was both happy and sad.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I got exactly what I needed and was supposed to have.  They are the lights of my life, and without them, my life would be missing something.  With more, I might just have lost it, for those two boys whom I love can also drive me to the brink some days.
In August, a decision was made, and I was once again a stay-at-home Mom.  I am grateful for a loving and supportive husband who is able to provide for us so that I can be that at-home Mom.  Sure, the “gravy” money is gone, but so much more is there.  I am with my boys in the morning when they leave for school (when previously I left a half hour before they did), and I am home when they are home (when I was working it could be anywhere from 3-5 hours before I saw them).  I am there to listen to their day, help with their homework, answer questions, snuggle, make cookies, and be their comfort zone once again.  I made the decision to return to work when they were in elementary school because I wasn’t a very good “at home Mom” when no one was actually at home back then.  Sure, there were times I felt guilty, and at times now when I reflect back on how much of their lives I missed, I see that it was important for them to see that I, as a woman, can be more than just the Mom that is there to help with homework, make cookies and snuggle.  I can also be a vital part of the workforce, help others who are suffering, contribute financially to the household, and have others listen to me and respect me.  Because I worked, they know that women are truly equals to men.  This is very important to me.  I didn’t want them to grow up thinking that all women can do is “keep house”.  I am thankful for the opportunity to have worked, and for the opportunity to be home.  Through that, we’ve also taught them that with hard work on the part of both parents, there can be choices.  With love and support between both parents, both parents can be happy and fulfilled.
So, as we cuddle together on the couch (which, is getting harder and harder to do as they grow bigger!) tonight and snuggle while Dad reads to us, I will be thankful that God has seen to give me exactly what I needed.  My little family, tucked away safely in our warm and cozy nest, together building memories that will keep us warm for years to come.
May God bless you and keep you, and may you have the merriest of Christmases.

Monday, December 13, 2010


It has been awhile since I have posted anything, I know.  I have had friends asking when my next musing would come, and honestly, I thought this would be a daily thing.  Then I remembered that the creative juices flow when they want to, not when you attempt to summon them.  In short, I had writer’s block.

It is not that nothing has happened on my block ala “Nothing Ever Happens on My Block” by Ellen Raskin, but I think I have been so caught up in the holiday rush between being busy getting ready, and having so many more outlets for those secreted creative juices this time of year.  Or, I could simply be a Mom of boys that has been busy that simply needs to carve out 15-30 minutes a day to write, even if it is just random words or sentences.  That is how our Creative Writing teachers taught us to work through a block way back when, is it not?

I think as a Mom, I do a lot of blocking.  I try block my children from seeing and hearing too many horrible things that go on with the world outside.  The violence, the sailor talk, the overt sexuality of even today’s “Teen Idols”.  I try to keep their world as innocent as I can, yet try to discuss those things to try to ready them for that same world.  Isn’t that an exercise in futility?  We try to block our children from the very world for which we are readying them.

It starts with us, I think.  When our children are infants, we block our own exhaustion, hunger pains, body aches, and fears as we begin our fumbling attempts at care for this new life we’ve been given.  The baby needs to nurse NOW, s/he doesn’t care that you haven’t slept more than 2 hours in the last 24, your nipples are cracked and sore, you haven’t showered in 3 days and you *think* that you had an apple for lunch and it is now 8pm.  So, we hug and kiss that little babe, and put them to our breast.

Then, it is all of the blocking from the literal bumps and scrapes our little baby might encounter once they become mobile.  We cushion our homes within an inch of its life, and walk around behind the baby ready to catch them when they fall.  We are Moms, it is what we do.

At some point, however, we need to start blocking ourselves from blocking our children.  They need to learn to fall down, get hurt a little, and pick themselves up and try again or we will have failed them as mothers.  The older infant learns to put themselves to sleep instead of being nursed and rocked to sleep…they are nursed, rocked and loved for a bit, then put to sleep in their crib while drowsy, but not asleep.  The training wheels come off the bicycle; the newly minted driver is given the keys for the first time.

This, I think, is the hardest part of parenting.  Lack of sleep and endless diapers, teething, tantrums, and potty training are easy compared to the letting go, or the blocking ourselves from blocking our children.

Teen Boy became an Eagle Scout on November 16, 2010.  It was such a proud moment for him, and for me as his Mom (okay, his Dad was proud too).   It was a moment, however, that I was not always convinced was going to happen. 

He did a beautiful job on his project, and his paperwork.  It was the last couple of Merit Badges he needed to finish that I thought would be his undoing.  His father and I gently (and sometimes not so gently) reminded him that he needed to finish those before any paperwork could be submitted.  He “knew” that, and assured me it “would be just fine”. 

I finally told him that I was done reminding him, that this was not my Eagle Rank, it was his.  If he wanted to actually earn it, he knew what he had to do.  Months went by.  Literally.  His project was in April 2010, he finally submitted the paperwork in October 2010.  I cannot tell you how many times over the summer I heard “I’m bored, there’s nothing to do” and I had to block myself from reminding him of his work.  But, he did it.  Without anymore prodding (once he did pick up the work again I did continue to encourage him to not quit, telling him to keep his eye on the prize).

I have had my fair share of blocking myself with Tween Boy as well.  He went to his first Middle School “Fun Night” all by himself.  I did not walk him in, I did not stay to see how he was doing, I just dropped him off at the door and said, “Goodbye, I love you, have fun.”  It was very bittersweet for me on the way home.  Just a few short years ago, we were having picnic lunches on the lawn while waiting for the bus to come and pick him up for afternoon Kindergarten.  Now, he is off on his own adventures.

My children are growing so quickly, there is no turning back.  As I continue to release blocks from them, I think it is time I found some new blocks just for me.  I have always wanted to learn to quilt.