Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mother’s Judging Others

The hardest part of blogging for me isn't finding subject matter or even the words.  I spend all day with kids and I don’t talk to other adults much.   What is hard is knowing that the reader may judge me for what I write.  And knowing that sometimes makes me hesitant to write… but it doesn't stop me. 

Last night with a group of friends who are mostly moms, I found myself relaxing.  One says they sometimes feel terrible because they just hate their kid and we all give that knowing head nod and wait… sure enough she says, “Okay, I don’t hate them, it’s just so hard some days.  I mean I love them to death but…”  <Long sigh and a shrug of the shoulders.> this is where she expected judgment, but it wasn't coming from any of us.

Any mom who says they haven’t had that moment at least once is lying to you or herself.  Caring for someone else is hard.  Having to teach them everything is harder.  Having others tell you you’re doing a bad job is the hardest. 

A mom’s guilt goes deep; so many of us are still dealing with things in our own childhood that we can’t quite get past.  Even mild things like being told we sung poorly when we come home with medals saying otherwise.  Then my child sings and I almost repeat the same words I heard over and over again.  To them it was in good fun.  To me it was heartbreaking.  So while I was thinking the words, “You sound like a dying calf in a hail storm.”  I stopped mid-sentence; “You sound <long pause> wonderful.”  I teared up thinking how could I possibly regurgitate that mess?  She sounds great.  She can carry a tune and even has some soul that makes this mama proud.  But it almost slipped; just like it did over and over and over again with my parents.

We’re learning as we go.  We step back after a tough situation and we look to see if there’s development or devastation.  And try to figure out what to do the next time to make it better or sustain what we have.  And it’s not easy.  Between childhoods that have holes to adult lives that can get overwhelming to friends who say your kids are the devils spawn in jest, but you suck in your breath thinking, “Really, that’s how you see my children?”  The kids who hug everyone who walk in to the house?  The ones that love to help when they see someone carrying something or clean up with a song and a smile.  These aren't devil spawns; these are kids with so much joy they can hardly contain it.

So what am I doing wrong?  Am I being too honest?  Should I just show Justice’s A/B report cards?  Should I tell everyone how great she does in Tae Kwon Do or that she’s writing music and lyrics and wants to give them to the church.  Just so they can all praise God together with the music that comes from her heart?  Is telling the world that my kids are kids just too much?  That they make messes or that they fight at times?  I've seen other kids, I know what happens in our house is no different… except perhaps our house is quieter.  We don’t yell.  We don’t discipline out of anger.  And we take a breath before we speak so that the words we say don’t do damage in the future… just to stop a moment in the present.

I want to take this moment to tell you who my kids are.  So there is no confusion.  So that no one will ever call them the devil’s spawn or suggest that I might not spend enough time with them.

Justice the artist.

Justice is 9 and excels at math and science.  She loves to read.  She loves martial arts.  She loves art in all its forms.  She sees the kid on the side of the playground and she calls their name and asks them to join in.  She addresses the bully with love and apologizes to her teachers for not working as hard as she could.  Justice is curious and drives me nuts with all her questions, but her insight to life is amazingly accurate.  She is still so innocent and whole heartily believes in fairy-tales and magic and though she is starting to question it all I know she’ll love continuing it for her brother and sister… because she cherishes them.  Yes they fight, but every night I check on them before I go to bed and she has her arms wrapped around them both.  She is wild in spirit and happy in heart and she fills both of mine daily. 

Marshall the worker.  

Marshall is 3 but works harder than many a grown man.  He loves work.  He loves to help his daddy carry his gear in from church.  He helps with projects getting tools or holding things together.  Like his daddy he has a servant's heart and wants to lend a hand wherever he can.  He mimics his daddy from the way he walks, the way he stands to the quiet way he conducts himself and how quick he is to help others.  I see a boy who will one day fill his daddy’s shoes and he will do well… or perhaps excel.  He is my gentle soul with a loving heart.  He fills my day with so much love I’m brought to tears by its simplicity and honesty.

Mercy the entertainer.  

Mercy, also 3, is all energy.  She skips wherever she goes.  She loves to yell at the top of her lungs whether it’s out of happiness, sadness or frustration.  She’s small and wants to make sure she’s heard… always.  ;)  And though this can be frustrating the amount of excitement that this little girl produces is contagious to almost everyone within a 50’ radius.  Whether we’re in the store where she stops the lady and her brand new baby and tells her how pretty she is.  Or the old woman who stops to tell her she’s cute and Mercy asks to hug her.  She is what love looks like with its passion; messy and fierce and barely contained.  If she’s allowed to stay that way she will set the world on fire.  She fills my life with excitement and shows me that life should be lived without worry.

I often use my friend Brooke's photos because she 'gets' my kids.
She sees them the way I do.  I love her all the more for it.  

Those are my kids, and not on their best days, but everyday.  They are  little people with big ideas and dreams that make me want to try harder.  They challenge me everyday with ways to entertain them, to teach them and to love them.  I fall short of those expectations, but they never fall short of mine.  I will make mistakes but they will know they never were.  They are perfectly who they are meant to be today and as they grow and learn and love they will be perfectly who they should be then.  Markers on walls, scratches on wood floors and a 33 on a paper doesn't make me a bad mom and it certainly doesn't make them bad kids.  It just makes them kids… and by me loving them no matter what will do better at teaching them what God’s love looks like then telling them they should try harder.  The world already tells them to try harder, to go to school longer, and that success is measured by your ‘stuff’.  

My kids are learning that school can teach you how to succeed in the world but not how to succeed in life.  That the value of our things are not a measurement of who we are but that our actions and how we love and care for each other are.  My children are learning character and in that I can rest easy in knowing I’m doing my job.  

Friday, April 19, 2013

April Fly on the Wall

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 12 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.
This past weekend:  

I’m all kinds of excited!

A friend from my school-bus-riding-days has asked me to write for her new website: Joy Comes in the Morning. This isn't my first time to write for her either. 
Back in the MySpace days, the dark ages of social media, I wrote a few articles for her mom page and have even dusted those same articles off for the local website I worked on here in Abilene.
*So I’m guessing after 7-years it’s time I wrote some new stuff. Dang it. ;)
She’s still building the site but should have it opened later this month. Till then check out her Facebook page Joy Comes in the Morning.

Thanks Angela for asking me to help out. I’m very excited! :)
Monday:  As we drive home from picking up the oldest from school I see Little Man nodding off, "I'm not sleepy mom!"  Mhmmm....

If the Wicked Witch was a boy...  and cute.
I like how the tea set is just teetering on the edge of the night stand.

Tuesday:  As we rush out the door to get Karate Girl to practice I slam right in to the front door.  See, I'm usually fast like a ninja when it comes to unlocking the front door and ushering the kids out towards the car.  But today the key didn't move and I didn't have time to stop my momentum…and neither did the three kids behind me;
"Mom, what's up?"
"The lock is broken.”
I look down to see Little Man smiling and Blondie point to him quickly, “He did it!”
“What did you do?”
He looks down slowly at a green piece of plastic: a Pick-Up-Stick that was now twisted and a small piece broken off.
“Did you do this?”  <angry eyes well in place>
“Um…  <head shaking no, eyes screaming yes>  I sorry?”
<sigh>  “Everybody run to the back door!!!”
We had to jump over the chairs that lined the porch (not where they belong) then we faced the padlock to the side gate and then navigating around the side porch, the new growth on the meanest bush ever and a quick sprint across the front yard… but the twins didn't have shoes on so I had Blondie in one arm and Little Man hanging 1” from the hot concrete.
“Where are y’alls shoes?!  Why do y’all never have shoes on?!!!”
<quick wave to the neighbor, guilty smile for my shoe-less kids and their sad attire and I was backing out the driveway yelling to them; “Stop talking and engage your seat-belts now!”
…and the whole time they’re giggling.  From the front door till we made it to the martial arts center.  <sigh>  Does no one in the house understand that we have things to do?  

I braided carrots JUST so I can take funny
photos and make my own memes.
If that's not lame I don't know what is.  

Is it a leek?  Is it garlic?  It's actually Elephant Garlic... a kind of leek.
But still I have to wait a bit longer to harvest.  (I'm just here to help folks.)  ;)  

Thursday:  In her stack of 90's and 100's was this guy. He had to be signed by me or she wouldn't have recess. She told me it was her fault, that she didn't' understand the purpose but she does now and she's sorry. 

"Kid, you brought home a dozen A's. I'm not upset about one paper. Don't worry about it."

But she did worry and wrote an apology letter to her teacher. I'm not kidding. I didn't say a word to her. No punishment. No 'talk'. Nothing. This was all her doing.

I'm so proud of her but she's been elevated to uber geek now.

*Oh forgot to add. This is her new 'style'. Detailed hair with no face. It's to challenge the viewer to see the person without the face. I'm.not.kidding! Her words people. I'm sending her off to art school where they understand her better. 

Late Thursday Night:
Okay, Week 1 Day 1 of Couch to 5K done!

While doing it there were a few observations made:

1. Wii makes it fun.
2. Wiimote in the back pocket doesn't register as well as in the hip pocket.
3. Wiimote in back pocket does register walking better. 
4. The husband informed me the reason he likes me to 'slow down' all the time is not that he can't stay up with me, but that my butt moves more when walking apposed to jogging.
5. I will no longer walk slowly anywhere!
6. My husband is a dirty perv.
7. I ♥ my husband.
8. Don't jog, even in the same place, without tennis shoes.
9. Wood floors are notoriously squeaky, especially wherever I'm standing.
10. My husband cheats by shaking the Wiimote or just shaking his hips like an idiot. (Hidden camera one day... it's gonna happen!)

...and this weekend:

Two of my friends are headed to West, Texas with truck loads of supplies to help out the fertilizer plant explosion victims   I'm so proud of them!  
*Tia with Story of a Girl  and Chelsey with Chelsey's Lovely Lockets  thank y'all both for all your efforts.  I <3 U both!!!

Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links for a peek into some other homes:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Family Undone

I've been talking a lot about researching my family tree and those things left in closets.  Some have said that sometimes things are better left there... in the past, on a closet shelf collecting dust. 

To that I say; "You are WRONG!"  If we don’t understand our past, we can’t learn from it and we sure can’t correct the future.

When a child is abused and no one talks about it that child may see abuse as normal and find themselves doing the same thing years later to their own children.  Not knowing why they do it or how to stop themselves.
I once mentioned to my mom that I only remembered one time when she hit me.  I was 5 and back talking her in the car just before school.  It was a mad rush to day-care or perhaps she was taking me straight to school.  I don’t remember the details, but I do remember vividly her hitting me across the face with a wooden brush. 

I never remember her hitting me again…

What she said next opened my eyes to my own denial; 

“God is certainly good if all you remember is the one time.”  

She told me the reason daddy always handled the disciple wasn't that she wanted to make him the bad guy but because he could control himself and she wasn't sure she could.

The problem is her solution did make him the bad guy and created tension between him and me as well as my mom.  Because she was unable to discipline me and wasn't comfortable talking about much of anything I lacked respect for her.  Eventually I began to hate my dad and what felt like rules made to punish me instead of guide me.

Years later, with an open mind, I started researching our family history.  I had heard the family rumors of my mom’s mother dying from an overdose of pills at the age of 35 and about a year later her dad dying of a heart attack.  His 3rd in his 39 years of life and one that came shortly after numerous court cases with allegations of him murdering his wife, sodomizing his nephews and the start of custody battles for his 5-daughters. 

In the end all the charges were dropped.  But it was too late.  A wife and mother who couldn't bare the humiliation of her husband’s sodomy charges chose death.  He, having seen how his wife’s family regarded him made sure they didn't raise his daughters.  And because his family was unable to care for all 5 at the time, he named a couple as their guardians.  An older couple, no kids, questionable character but to him a safe place for his girls during all this mess.

He would have no idea that his decision 
had made a bad situation worse…

So no, I won’t shut the door and toss the key.  I’m yanking those doors wide open.  I’m dusting off the past, finding where the demon hides and with the help of my family and much prayer, we'll expose him to the light and let him know he’s not welcome any more.

The hate, the abuse, the suicide… it stops here!  

Friday, April 5, 2013

April Secret Subject Swap

Welcome to Take One of April’s Secret Subject Swaps. This week, 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts. 

My secret subject:  What would you do if you found gold in your back yard?

Wouldn't that be amazing?  For so many reasons.  But mainly because the husband could fashion it in to something beautiful... and then we could sell it for more than the gold was worth.  SCORE!!  ;)
Triple Gold Hoop Earrings

Gold Hoop Earrings
Texas Star
Our Shop Logo
And then I'd want these for myself:

I'd take the left over gold or profits from the gold sold to have
Wonder Woman cuffs and a tiara made.
Cause ya know... every mom should have a set.  ;) 

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:                                                                                                                           

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lessons in The Car

"Grandma and Grandpa are rich." says the oldest on our ride home from school.
"Why do you say that?"
"They have satellite TV."
"So if someone has satellite TV they are rich?"
"I guess."
"Do you realize there are people who can't pay their bills that still have satellite TV?"
"Yes.  We don't have satellite TV because your dad I don't watch much TV."
"But y'all watch a movie every night."
"I wish it was every night, but yes, we watch a movie a few nights a week.  Netflix costs $17 a month.  Satellite about $70.  We get a movie or two each week and you kids can watch cartoons without those dang commercials telling you what toys you HAVE to have."
"Yeah, y'all don't like that."
"No we don't."

There's a long pause in conversation as we both laugh at the twins as their heads bob in their seats, both fast asleep.

"Are we poor?"
"Some would say so.  We don't drive new cars, our house is small, I don't work so our income has been cut in half.  But we don't have debt except the house."
"So we're not poor?"
"What is poor to you?"
"I don't know.  I guess not having things."
"Do you want for anything?  Food, clothing, toys, a warm bed?"
"My bed is too warm with the twins."
"...and yet you wouldn't sleep in a separate bed when you had the chance."

She laughed and continued;

"Being poor isn't about money is it?"
"Why do you say that?"
"I feel rich even though I don't get everything I want."
"Why is that?"
"You and daddy and my annoying brother and sister.  I'm happy so I must be rich."

*5-minutes in the car from school to the house... each day... new lessons learned.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

If These Walls Could Speak

I'm drawn to cracked paint, twisted shutters and creaking floors.  It's true. Our first home was built in the 20's.  If not for the neighborhood I'm pretty sure we'd have stayed years longer. But after 10-years and a new baby we thought it was time to 'upgrade'.  A newer home, a concrete foundation and walls that had seen so very little life.  All new and shiny and not me.

The first 6-months after leaving my job to stay home with our daughter I painted every room in that house.  I landscaped and helped build a deck(s).  I did everything I could to make it feel like I belonged.

I never did.

It was ideal from the cul-de-sac it was on, to the 1/2 acre fenced in yard, the wooden play-set,  the deck(s), the set up of the house.  Even the landscaping was finally how I wanted it.  But it wasn't home.

We've been here for 4-years.  Our 1940's frame house.  The two car garage too small for our over-sized vehicles.  The crumbling driveway, the paint with it's bubbles and oxidized trim.  Trees that are going in to their final stages of life.  And grass that looks green in spring, but by summer is brown and brittle.

The chipped window seals, the beat up baseboards, the hardwood floors scarred from chairs and Matchbox cars.  The one bathroom with it's rusty porcelain sink that the previous owners; even though they had replaced the cabinets and counters, just couldn't part with.  Along with the porcelain tub.  I have a special place in my heart for them.  They got it.  The importance of a home.  The strength of character in a 'thing' that though it's value has been diminished by time it's purpose has not.

There is beauty in the old.  A reflection of our self seen in things we use daily.  It's life in the un-living and I cherish it.  We may move away and leave it behind for someone else to hopefully love and cherish.  But just like our first house, the new owners didn't know the number of hours I spent on the nursery stencil.  It's multi-layered morning glories and hand painted dragonflies, but I still have pictures and memories.

And all the hard work we put in to our first and second homes have shown in this our 3rd.  From building awnings and decks to fences and playhouses.  We don't fear the challenge and enjoy the work.  It's our home after all.  The place we spend most of our time and share all of our meals.  It's small, especially for a family of 5.  Matter of fact it's the smallest home we've owned.

(Besides the RV we lived in for 14-months before the twins... 
a whole other story.)  :)
Our next project might be expanding the house.  And we'll do as much of it ourselves as possible.  Or we might just buy bunk-beds and have the kids continue to share their room... just as we have to share ours.  ;)  But no matter what we do next we'll do it for ourselves and not the next owners.  I'll not wait till I have to, to sell the house.  I'll do it now so I can enjoy my home.

...and if we ever do sell, and no doubt we will one day.  Perhaps our efforts will help us sell it as fast as our others.  I think when people can see the love and care put in to a home they are more likely to want to share in that.  I know when we saw this one we saw the care and attention on the inside and had to have it.  We're just putting our imprint on the outside now.

Our 1st house:
1920's 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, 1 car detached garage.
10-years we lived there.

I hate lattice work.  Long story, but this was one of our first projects.
A new porch railing and stair rails.  (I had to break out the math on that one.)  :)
*We sold the house in 3-days for cash.

This was the first fake fireplace we removed to get the extra floor space.
And we pulled up 1,500 sq. ft. of carpet one night to reveal the original hardwood.
But it took us 9-months to refinish them ourselves.  :)
Still my favorite piece of furniture.  The bed belong to a neighbor.
The first time I saw it I was a teenager and told her I'd own one like it one day.
I bought it from her 15-years ago.

Our 2nd house:
1990's 3 bedroom, 2 bath, office and 2 car garage
Lived their 3- 1/2 years.
White plastic shutters replaced with homemade cedar ones.
Rocks from my parents place and removed the front porch rails to open the tiny porch up.
*We sold the house in less than a week.
(2nd day we had an offer but turned it down...
as well as the 3 additional counter offers.)

We built an 18' X 16' deck with 24 concreted support beams.
It might outlast the house.

I've never been afraid of color.  White walls... now those are scary.  ;)

Our one and only real fireplace.  And like the first house we pulled up the carpet,
but no original hardwood found... of course.  So laminate it was.

The day we put the house on the market.

Our 3rd and current house:
1940's 2 bedroom, 1 bath, 2 car (too narrow) garage ;)
We've been here 4- 1/2 years.

Told y'all.  Fake fireplaces don't stand a chance with me.  ;)