/> Raising Angels: August 2015

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Making Memories...Again

Yesterday was day two of school for Felicity. I ordered the big kids to load up for the pool. It worked so nicely Wednesday that I was ready to do it again – whether they wanted to or not.

Since most of the world is back in school, we had the pool to ourselves for the first thirty minutes. The lifeguard let the boys get into the swim fins and off they went. Mackenzie grabbed a towel and headed for her favorite sunning spot. I started swimming.

When I finished, I was worn out so I joined Mackenzie. The boys were having the time of their lives discovering the world of fins. By this time, two other families had joined us and were a nice distraction as well.

I stretched out on the chair and just lay there quietly. It felt so indulgent…just sitting. After some much needed silence, I started a conversation with Mackenzie. We chatted about her upcoming birthday and her sweet sixteen next year. We discussed her new partner for Social and what she’d be doing as a Cotillion Club member. We watched a black and gold salamander crawl across the deck.

I don’t remember what, if anything, prompted it, but she asked me, “Mama, when you were my age, what stars did everyone love? Who did you think was cute?”

I was immediately transported back to middle school when I was head-over-heals in love with Kirk Cameron. Growing Pains was my favorite show, he was just about the right age for me and I was convinced that he was as nice a guy as his character, Mike Seaver.

Before I knew it, it was time to leave. “This has been so fun and relaxing,” I told Mackenzie. Our time together had only been about thirty minutes, but those thirty minutes felt like hours because we had slowed down and spent some quality time together. I loved, loved, loved the fact that I had just carried on a conversation with my daughter that she could have had with one of her friends.

Later in the day, as I was dwelling on what a wonderful morning it had been, I thought back to the summer before Mackenzie started Kindergarten. I signed the boys up for a summer Mother’s Day Out program because I felt my time with Mackenzie slipping away. I had a strong need to spend some one-on-one time with her.

It occurred to me that these few weeks that Felicity is in school before the big kids go back, is that same kind of opportunity. What an unexpected gift I’ve been given. Though I’ve been with the kids ALL summer, it’s been time that’s divided between watching Felicity, keeping up with the house and laundry, grocery shopping, running errands and the like.

I know that years from now, the kids will remember me like that – frantically getting meals on the table and kids out the door, constantly folding laundry and cleaning house. However, I hope and pray what they hold in their hearts is not that side of me, but the side Mackenzie got at the pool - the mama who is very interested in everything they have to say, very proud of all of their accomplishments (even how fast they can swim underwater and backwards with fins on), and very much in love with who they are.

Here’s to making more of those memories.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Just a Moment

Last night, as I sat through game seven of Mackenzie’s two volleyball matches, I had a horrible thought. I stood between one of the matches to stretch, chase Felicity, and relieve myself of the ever-hardening bleacher seats. I chatted with some of the other moms. It was in that moment, as I was trying to hold a conversation, while watching to see that Felicity didn’t fall to her doom off the bleachers, while doling out the last of the snacks to the boys that the thought blasted its way into my mind.

I…will….be…doing…this…for…THE NEXT EIGHTEEN YEARS!

It was deafening. It was as if someone had blown an air horn next to me with a sound so loud I could feel it in my bones. There will be no break, no hiatus, no let down of any of this craziness for a very, very, VERY long time.

Suddenly, there I was sitting (probably on one of those padded, backed, portable bleacher seats) at my umpteenth sporting event, eating my thousandth late night meal, giving a ride to the hundredth passenger. It was overwhelming.

After finding a brown bag to breath into, and bringing my heart rate down close to just below busting, I realized that the marathon of games that started three and a half hours ago had finally ended. I gathered the troops and headed home with a baby that was starving, exhausted, and filthy from her adventures under, around, and behind the bleachers as well as from the fact that she had indeed picked up some form of someone’s left behind or, GASP, already consumed food and…yes…put it IN her mouth. Seriously! The kid is oh so cute, but also a total terror.

The next EIGHTEEN years!

Fast-forward to this morning when I had to peel cleaned, scoured mouthed Felicity out of bed and get her off to her first day of school. Last night, as I was packing her lunch, I realized that I hadn’t prepared for it like I did in the beginning. There was no cute lunch box or miniature backpack for her to carry; she got what was in the closet. There was no new outfit to commemorate her first day.


She got one foot in the door, ran off to the playroom and never looked back. There were no tears. I snuck out and didn’t look back either. Okay, I looked back once. I am still a mama after all. That was it. I just walked out and got in the car and went back home. It was her first time in any place remotely like this. They’ve gotten rid of the nursery at our church (I know Jesus said, “Let the children come unto me,” but I think He meant like when they are old enough to understand to sit still and be quiet.) and I no longer work out at the Y so she’s not been to a nursery at all. I know her well enough not to worry about how she’ll handle it. I worry more about how the other kids will survive her. She can be quite the brute these days. She’s in that what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine and I’m going to scream until you submit stage. Remember, she’s cute but a holy terror. No kidding.

When I got back home, I quickly scrolled through the photos. Aiden had snapped a few as I walked her into the building. I saw her, but what I focused on was how I looked. I saw a cute little redhead being led into the school by a mom old enough to have taught all of the other mothers when they were in high school. I saw legs with veins bulging from the stress of carrying five babies. I saw flabby arms out of shape from lack of time and energy to focus on them in the never-ending summer.

I forced the big kids into the car so we could go to the pool. “Aww mama, why don’t you take a nap? We can just stay home and watch TV,” was their play. I wasn’t going for it. They needed to get out of the house and I needed to too.

I swam a mile in almost complete silence. I was counting laps in my head so there was no room for self-defeating thoughts. There were only the muffled sounds of the kids playing in the pool and the bubbles blowing past my ears. When I finished, I sat on the side of the pool and carried on the longest conversation I’ve had there all summer. And after two short hours, it was time to head back to pick up Felicity.

This time my head was clear, and I was relaxed and accomplished. I met that darling girl at the door walking towards me with her belly peeking out of the too small shirt I chose, a lollipop dangling from her sweetheart lips. She acted like she owned the place and trotted out as if she had been doing it her whole life.

In the car, we quizzed her about her day. “Did you have fun?” She nodded yes. “Did you eat your lunch?” She shook her head no. “Did you play outside?” Again no. “Did you color?” No. “Did you miss us?” No. “Do you want to go back to school again?” Yes!

She was so worn out that by the time I got her home, she wasn’t even interested in a story before her nap. She pointed to her bed, I laid her down, and she grabbed her elephant, rolled over and went to sleep.

I walked out of the room and looked at those pictures again. That’s when I had a better thought - a thought that blossomed from a cleared mind. I looked at those pictures and didn’t see myself. I saw that sweet girl grasping the lunchbox that was almost half her size. I gazed at the flouncy pink skirt mid swish, the tiny white shirt, that red pony tail, and those oh so squeezable, chubby arms. I stared at that puffy, dimpled hand holding mine. Then I thought it.

I…GET…to…do this for the next eighteen years!

My heart skipped and beat as it jumped into my throat. I saw Felicity in that picture, but was immediately taken back to Mackenzie at that same age, looking almost identical. I remembered watching her walk down the sidewalk towards Kindergarten while realizing that in a few short weeks, she will be able to get her learner’s permit.

There I was in that juxtaposition of the sweetness of what was and what’s yet to come. The realization of the gift it is to have the opportunity to do this so many times, each with a little more experience and wisdom to accompany it. The realization that as badly as I want to move through this season at times, I also want to savor each moment.

That’s the lesson here. It’s survival lesson 101. To make it through life, you have to stay in the moment. Sure we have to plan for the future – everything from who needs a ride where tomorrow, to how are we going to celebrate our soon to be fifteen year old, to how are we going to put five kids through college.

We can plan for the future, but we can’t live there.

We don’t have the grace. Grace only comes in the moment it’s needed. And the moment? That’s the place we need to dwell. What do I need to do now? How do I need to respond in this moment? If we can focus on that, there’s not much room for worry, only action. I may not live to see eighteen years from now. I hope and pray I do. I’d love to live long enough to enjoy a few fruits of all this labor, but none of us know how long we’ll be here.

What is certain is the here and now and that’s where we…I…should live.