#funny, #God's redemption, High School Seniors, momfails, motherhood, parenting, Parenting boys, parents love, Perseverance, Survival

To Moms of 231-Month Olds

The Holidays are over and so is the temporary reunion with my college freshman. What a joy to have him in the nest, to greet first thing in the morning at noon when he awakens and to see little love notes in the form of Taco Bell wrappers regurgitated from our dogs. I am struck now as I mail off the forgotten items today how similar my 231-month-old is to his former 12-month-old self.

1. First: Food

His palette is ever-changing. Remember how she wolfed down carrots and got an orange nose one day and hated tubers the next?  This scenario repeats itself 18 years later after you spent $200 on food craved a mere semester ago. Cue whispers of overheard cell phone comments like, “Yea, there’s nothing to eat in the house.”  This Summer I’ll just buy $3,000 in Whataburger Cards. Family food selectors are left to read the non-verbal indicators such as rotting bananas and a half-eaten dunkin’ stick left for dead in the pantry. Look sharp because gnawed-on treats in cellophane sleeping bags are the only clue comin’ your way,  Little Debbie.

2. Second: Shared Space

Surprise!!! Your house is no longer your own. I remember wondering how my home became a yard sale of Little Tykes molded plastic gardens and work benches.  Overnight. Now the living room is all “Call of Duty” couch-compounds and ghosts of Mountain Dew benders past. So, besides extra trips to the grocery and that little commitment called your job, you have to keep the house photo-ready so your kid’s Snapchat background doesn’t look like Syria.  Sure, it has been liberating cleaning house in a jog bra and fat pants since August but, trust me, you’ll want to cover  up lest your girthy mid-section headline in her own hellish Snap Chat Story.

3. Bad ideas are still contagious.

Even before little ones verbally communicate, you know that two unsupervised toddlers together spell trouble. Just a few:

“Let’s climb the refrigerator!”

“Let’s play beauty shop with real scissors”

“The fish wanted to live in the potty”

Now that young adults are eh hemm..self-supervising, it goes something like this: (and oh so very much worse)
“I bet you can’t jump that refrigerator”

“I cut hair all the time!”

“This is a crazy You Tube- Goldie’s new bowl”
4. And most of all: They still require prayer

I remember praying constantly for my two. Jack’s delivery was too quick to squeeze the fluid from his lungs so he began life in the NICU. Once home, sister tried to feed him a cookie. Then in a few weeks he was hospitalized for RSV. Those were super fun prayer prompters.

I prayed so earnestly for my children before they were born and certainly after. Even now my favorite time of the day remains the wee hours of the morning when I meditate on God’s Word. I love to just breathe, be and pray-lax in His love.

I pray for his continued work ethic and personal safety. Of course I still pray that he will “Make good decisions!” As I used to yell as he walked down the driveway and took off into his 2002 Ford F-250.

I am incredibly grateful that a college education was important to my parents and that they found a way through hard work and sacrifice to send the three of us away to school. It proved a key season for becoming my grown-up self. What a uniquely precious experience of going away and becoming your own person by making all those decisions- good and bad- yourself.

It was a blast to have Jack home and scream-sing certain original ear worms which John has forbidden. (deleted Zimbabwe praise song, you know who you are.) I even watched my son play video games just to hang out. What a blessed few weeks for him to check in, recalibrate and remember why home is such a safe place to fall. As exciting as the launch is, it certainly is nice when they return home. If only for a visit.

Hope, humor, miracle, motherhood, Survival

When Ducks Bentley Imprints on You

Ducks BentleyJack’s Spring Break happened this week. While my men worked at the family farm in Troup, TX, I kicked some dust up of my own. I cleaned my 17 year old son’s room. The debris from the cleanup warranted machinery which, instead of returning to the garage, I crammed atop the dryer and shut the door. When John returned home and began his laundry I grabbed my crap pile of tools to return to their rightful spot.

Hands full, I hipped-open the door knob (they don’t lie) and was stunned by the sight of our Lab chasing a baby wood duck. With his teeth. I screamed bloody murder and in my nightgown and morning hair a-blazing I slung my load, snatched the baby and nestled it protectively to my chest. John came running and as usual said something about the neighbors calling the Police about domestic abuse, blah, blah, blah.

Since I’ve seen that Dawn commercial like a 1,000 times I consider myself a waterfowl-recovery expert. John told me to Google proper procedure for duckling care and agencies who would help so I immediately introduced my chihuahuas to the orphan because that was way more fun. Realizing that my duck-whispering dreams were temporarily coming true he gave me my moment and did the due diligence himself.

John looked outside and thought he saw the mother in search of her baby. We kenneled the dogs and let Ducks Bentley out back to see if she would come get him. No sign. He wandered to the front yard with that heartbreakingly displaced cry and no luck. He hopped down the street and I absolutely could not just leave the hatchling to chance with all of the cats and dogs on our street. I continued to walk Eastward but lost sight of him. Eyes closed, I honed in on a faint cheep and kept walking until I saw him.

My friend knew a Veterinarian who rehabs ducklings for the state and said he would take care of it. My heart was satisfied that I had done my duty as a foster parent and he was in good hands. That afternoon when I called to see how the re-homing was going, I got some alarming news. The Vet could not take Ducks and so my friend set him free on a nearby lake. He checked on him later that day and said he looked ok but that if he did not find ducks of his own kind soon that he wouldn’t make it for long. Oh no.

I dropped the phone and headed for the Elks Lodge Lake a few blocks from our home where Ducks had been released. Not letting the “Members and Friends of Members” sign dissuade me, I blazed up the entrance. To my shock this was no pond. It was a LAKE lake. My heart sank. I walked down the boat ramp and called for Ducks Bentley. Looking high and low I spent 15 minutes calling for him. No duckling anywhere.

Walking along the wooded shore I prayed and came to peace with the fact that if I could not find Ducks Bentley that God was just going to have to look out for him. I am a hopelessly optimistic realist I guess. I returned to my car and drove further down the shore. I did not see another entry point for the lake and a foreboding  chain link fence blocked entry to the rest of the lakefront. I did see a jon boat but I didn’t want to push my luck with trespassing and theft. One misdemeanor at a time is my mantra.

In the distance I spotted a pier and parked my car. Getting out, I sloshed through the saturated grass toward the clearing, calling for Ducks Bentley all the while. I scanned the watery horizon for a bright yellow and black wood duckling yet saw nothing.  As I called, the mature ducks swam farther and farther away from me. It dawned on me what an absurd a needle-in-a-haystack endeavor this was and I did not even know why I felt so compelled to find him. Looking for the positives, I reminded myself that at least I had tried.

I spent 10 more minutes alternately calling and listening near the pier. I thought I heard a faint cheeping amid the throngs of other dusky nature sounds. The cheep was weak yet  growing stronger. I set my glance in the cry’s direction but I saw nothing. West to East, North to South I searched for what my ears believed to be the echo of my orphaned acquaintance.  There was no duckling in sight but the ever-amplified cheep fueled my hope that there would be.

Then like a winning lottery ticket I saw a tiny yellow and black speck round a bend across the water and paddle straight for me. This was crazy! I got louder and louder and screamed “Grammy’s here for you! Come to Grammy!” Grammy is my self-designation for all the creatures of the world form dogs to fish and now expanding to the world of waterfowl. Ducks paddled closer and closer and my shock increased.

Maneuvering awkwardly through the lily pads, up came my foster-duckling. He ambled on shore shaking beads of water off and I stood still as not to scare him. He promptly sat on my foot and lifting him, I began to cry at the completely bizarre chain of events. I texted John a picture of my ugly-cry reunion and understandably John was ecstatic over my good fortune. “So, what are you going to do with him?” He asked. I answered that I would find an agency to raise him with his species but we have to stabilize the little guy at least for the night.

I opened the car and sat Ducks Bentley on my lap. He hiked up into my elbow pit and rested, exhausted form his wearisome day. I got an aquarium, a light, grass and meal worms for Ducks which I floated atop the water to teach him to hunt. John engineered the heat lamp and we arranged his habitat carefully. I set a clock next to the duckling to simulate a mother’s heartbeat and turned on the radio for some white noise. The song that came on? “The Dance,” by Garth Brooks. And, no, I did not dance with Ducks.

Today I am looking for a wood duck habitat / agency to take him and reunite him with his people. He needs to learn how to be a duck and I am of no help there. He is precious but he deserves to live happy and free. While I have loved living out a Modern Family episode, Ducks belongs somewhere else. Still, I will never forget this teeny tiny little Ducks Bentley who swam a lake to get back to me.













Hope, maggieleeforgood, motherhood, Uncategorized

Treasure the Perfect Imperfection This Mother’s Day

I pray for a Teflon heart on major holidays but on this day I ask for a double coating of it. I know many of you as well have gotten very proficient in quickly switching channels when the Mother’s Day commercials appear. Thankfully I still have my Mother but nearly six years ago I lost the twelve-year-old who first made me one.

The Mother’s Day of 2009 was a disaster including vitriolic fights over who would hold the breakfast tray, spilled coffee and dog vomit. And that was all before 7:30 a.m. Then came church which resulted in another squabble when I allowed our fourth-grader, Jack, to lean on me in the pew but would not allow Maggie Lee to do the same. She wanted to sprawl out in a skirt with legs balled up toddler style. Luckily John was preaching that day we were right up front.

It was a humdinger of a day where my offspring’s negativity typically amortized over a three-month period was distilled into ONE single day. Somehow my Hallmark holiday like the fleeting melody of an ice cream truck in Summer proved beyond even my most desirous reach. Maggie Lee, sensing my disappointment (by sensing I mean hearing me say, “It is Mother’s Day! Everyone is supposed to be happy today.) illustrated a book of her favorite moments with me and it is one of my prized possessions. The disappointing day birthed an absolute treasure.

So let’s pinky-swear we’ll enjoy every unscripted moment today. The sibling throw-downs and the spilled coffee. You don’t have to enjoy the dog vomit, just make someone else clean it up. You may be shouldering the burden of parenthood by yourself or discouraged about the child which has yet to come. You may be missing your beloved mother or grandmother. With all we could grieve let us look around at what we have left. And revel in the perfect imperfection of it all.

Female friendship, first impressions, little league moms, motherhood

Hand Warmer and The Gypsy: Judgement, Friendship and Little League

Shreveport Little League

The aluminum stands chilled by a frosty Spring night cut through my long skirt and coat with ease sending shivers up to my floral headband. My 5th grader with 3% body fat shifted weight back and forth, waiting for his turn in the dreaded little league  draft. Two long-time female friends to my right were huddled together when the one in scrubs loudly proclaimed a crude comment about hand warmers. The two laughed uproariously. She glanced my way and I nodded politely but with kids within earshot, I was a little taken aback. The ballplayers were released and I warmed the car and readied the Gatorade for Jack. Try-outs were over but the real work had only just begun.

With back room politics which would make Huey Long blush, the 2010 draft was complete and Jack landed on The Dodgers. To his delight he discovered that many former teammates would also wear Dodger Blue. Being the Tiger Mom that I am I was most excited about the hours of guilt-free social time with moms I never got to see. I know there are awesome mothers who know how to bubble in the little score thingy and run the scoreboard. I always considered my lack of volunteering for the book or board my highest contribution. At the end of the first practice I heard a loud laugh from behind me and realized that someone else was a Dodger Mom, too: The Hand Warmer.

The season progressed and within that little league environment of camaraderie and overexposure, peanuts and sweet tea, friendship grew. Hand Warmer proved to have comedic observation skills, unique phraseology and a keen wit. I had to love that. I enjoyed her stories about growing up with deaf parents and began to appreciate so much more about her than I could have ever known at first blush. Coach Trey drove the boys hard and brought out a championship title from them. He repeated this the next year and almost a third. Acutely superstitious, Coach wore the same shorts every game. In support, we vowed to wear the same clothes as well. I was all in before I realized that my commitment meant wearing my peasant dress every night for five nights. In a row. I was deemed the village wench before it was all over.

Our third season together, Hand Warmer and I reminisced about our false first impressions of each other. I said, “Do you remember watching the draft that frozen night and what you said about HAND WARMERS? I quoted her phrase back to her and told her I thought she was a thoroughly brash woman. This time we both howled with laughter at her comment. She laughed and said, “How hilarious, I thought you dressed like a gypsy! In fact before I knew your name I called you the gypsy. You always had some crazy colorful skirt and matching earrings on!”

I thought about Hand Warmer today in the fondest way. Thankful for the seasonal friendship we shared and the respect I still carry for her. While the golden days of little league have passed and our boy’s interests and schools have taken them different ways, I still reflect with love and admiration for the women behind the raucous laugh: a sensitive, kind and beautiful soul. An unlikely woman whose spirit surprisingly warmed me.

What are some of your first impressions of other people which turned out to be all wrong?