I know you read this from time to time. I also know you don’t want me to gush over how awesome you are. I will keep my mouth shut, but only for today!
You’re finally a teenager.
I know you think you’re grown, and you probably don’t want to listen to my advice, but trust me…I wish someone would have given me some solid advice. Non tried. Meemaw tried. The problem is, when you turn in to a teenager, you stop listening and you only hear. Don’t do that. Listen. Even when you don’t want to. Because someday, Meemaw will be gone…I’ll be gone…Ronca will be gone…and you’ll be sad that you didn’t listen more.
Boys are dumb. They stay dumb until they’re 25 (it’s truly a magic age. After 25 they can be tolerated again). Basically, they like girls and sports and eating and watching movies. Keep that hard exterior that you have now. It will serve you well in the dating world. Don’t give away your heart too easily…broken hearts suck. Just like boys until they’re 25. By the way, you can’t date until you’re 40 (kidding…mostly).
Education is valuable. I know that right now all you want is to be a chef. I think that is a fabulous idea, but get a degree anyway. Someday, when you’re running your fancy restaurant and doing a show on the Food Network, you’ll thank me for that degree in ____________.
Try things. Go places. Create adventure (don’t try drugs though. I will kill you.).
Be friends with everyone. Don’t try to join the “in” crowd. Those kids will only lead you down a path of judgment. You will never learn the value of true friendship (friendship that transcends), and really, clothes and shoes do not make a person any more valuable. Besides, someday you’ll be 35, sitting at your table, reading your Facebook feed…and the “in” crowd will be selling used cars, divorced, and still just a judgy as they were then. And you will be able to laugh knowing that you got the better end of the stick!
No matter how big or small you think your troubles are, remember that you have parents who love you and will listen to you whenever you need us. Don’t ever be afraid that something you have done/want to do/regret is too much for us to handle, or that we wouldn’t care. If you just need us to listen and not give advice, one of us will be able to do that, while the other may have a hard time. I bet you can guess which is which…
Just keep swimming (literally and figuratively).
With all my heart, I love you, J. Happy Birthday! xoxo
In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m letting you in on the Secrets to Being a Good Mother.
Remember when I wrote her this? (sorry about the link. Everything got messed up when I moved to this site…)
So, without further ado..
More Things I Have Learned From My Mother:
1. Name your children good names. Or, name them names that will prohibit them from ever having a job which would scare the life out of a mother. Case in point: “Heather, Jack will never be able to be a pilot. His friends would yell ‘Hi Jack!’ and it would scare people!”
2. When your husband is rushed to the hospital via ambulance and you are called to be told he’s had a heart attack—RUSH to the hospital. When the doctor tells you he’s thrown his back out, and is not, indeed, having a heart attack: slap him (the husband, not the doctor).
3. The death stare is something to use only at appropriate times. Like, for example, when your 4 year old stands in the courthouse screaming that he’s not ever going home until you change his name to Luke Skywalker.
4. Erika Kane is not real, and we should not write to her as if she is.
5. One should never, ever tell small children to jump off the stairs in earshot of a mother.
6. It is completely appropriate to have your child and your husband sleep downstairs, wielding barn cats and tennis rackets, to chase the chipmunk out of the house. It is not appropriate for them to make fun of you because you’re afraid of said chipmunk (ferocious he was, I tell ya!).
7. When a very large man falls through your ceiling, and 4 other large men are standing all around him saying bad words, one should always be prepared to cry. Immediately.
8. As Youth Group leader, you cannot expect your own child not to be the protagonist. You should be proud that she could burp all 66 books of the Bible!
9. If your child calls you crying because she hit an opossum, then ran back over it because it was crying and miserable, you should probably not laugh and hang up on her.
10. One of my favorite things she ever did ever…when I was younger she would send me her used magazines–and she would write comments on stuff she liked or stuff she thought was funny (we should do that again, Mom!).
11. The Easter Bunny is a privilege, not a given. Just ask the child who locked his sister in the basement.
12. Everyone should own a terry cloth, one-piece, short, tube top jumpsuit. And NO ONE should ever make fun of them (My personal favorite was the white one with watermelons all over it!).
13. Regardless of what Pappy (my grandfather) tells you, Hippos don’t lay eggs.
14. If there is a large snake in your yard, send the children to kill it. Give Scared (me)a shovel, and Scared-er (brother)a gun. Let’s see how that works out.
15. Being a grandmother is bliss. Have your granddaughter paint your toenails while repeatedly asking her what she calls the Resident Groundhog! Then laugh. Until the tears roll. (J called it the Silver-Backed Beaver. She was 3)
16. At large family weddings, write notes to each other on the program. It’s probably better to not mention that your husband is wearing the same tie to this wedding that he wore to his firstborn’s baptism thirty years ago, though.
17. The correct response to all disasters is: “Oops, We’re gonna need another Timmy!” (extra points if any of you know what I am talking about!)
18. We shall Never speak of the Pepsi Can Incident of 1997 again.
19. My first grade teacher (and member of our church) asked me what lullaby my mom liked to sing to me, and I told her “3-6-9 the Goose Drank Wine!” Naturally!
Happy Mother’s Day Mom…I love you!
Motherhood is hard.
I’ve spent the past few months struggling with my own internal turmoil. The move, the holidays, having family near (yet not wanting to ask for help), dealing with new doctors…you name it! My usual transparency was replaced with this person who I didn’t really like. The person inhabiting my body was not the best me that there is.
I’m looking for her.
And she’s hard to find.
My children…they are my world. Truly. I couldn’t love them more—together and individually—if I tried.
On one hand, I have this beautiful, blossoming young woman who sits across from me at breakfast. She is smart and funny one minute, and quiet and tearful the next. She runs the gamut between emotions on a daily basis. Frankly, I don’t know how to help her. I don’t know how to help her find her own skin when I can’t quite find mine either. I know adolescence is rough, but I don’t want her to feel like she can’t come to me and talk or ask questions.
I also know that the hand of cards she’s been given is not necessarily fair to her. She’s carted to doctor’s offices and has heard more horrific news about her brother than any child should have to. She knows how to hook up a feeding tube, how to work the chest percussion vest, and what meds he gets at what times. While I appreciate her enthusiasm to help, I worry that this is too much for a little person—because even though she’s a big girl (at 5’8”), she’s still twelve. This is a burden for her heart.
On the other hand, there is Jack. He is talking more (we call his language Jackinese) and developing his own personality (he’s funny—really funny!). He’s starting to realize that he’s not quite like everyone else, but he doesn’t know how to embrace that. He asks questions but cannot quite understand the answers all the time. His days are precious to me—every single one that I am given.
My patience wanes. I fuss about “normal” mom things—laundry on the floor, dirty bathrooms, sibling fighting. I worry about providing them each a good life in a happy home. I worry about flu and germs and icky lungs. I worry about finances. I should be graduating in a few months and I’ve started to look for a job—which comes with another set of worries. I worry, I worry, I worry.
I looked in the mirror this morning and thought, “Dang, girl! Pull it together!”
From somewhere deep in my soul, I felt a stir of my former self.
She’s in there.
She’s got hope.
Non liked kids. Non liked chocolate. Halloween was the best of both worlds!
When my brother was little (like toddlerish), he was pretty obsessed with Return of the Jedi. My mother decided to make him in to an Ewok for Halloween. I remember that there was a lot of furry fabric, a screaming brother, and Non came to help. The year I broke my arm, she and my mom wrapped me in toilet paper to be a mummy.
However, this recent snow fall in the area of my homeland had me remembering…
There were years when we first had to put on 5 layers of clothing and a snow suit. Then, you fit all those clothes under a plastic Scooby Doo costume (come on, don’t you remember when costumes didn’t cost a billion dollars and they were plastic with masks?). Non was the only person in the universe who had enough patience to gently slide us in to the costume while simultaneously stretching the plastic so it wouldn’t rip.
And then…she’d go. She didn’t like the kids that dressed up ugly, and she didn’t like kids being bad or mischievous.
42 weeks without her…and it still hurts.
My baby girl. A long time ago, I struggled to keep you inside me long enough to keep you alive. You always want to be first…to get something done before everyone else. You weren’t supposed to exit until mid-October. You chose your own birthdate instead.
9.9.99. Unique…just like you. Then: teeny tiny. Now: 5’6″.
So, today you’re 12. TWELVE. Where has the time gone? It seems like yesterday that I tried to kill you with a jalapeno (it was an accident, OK?) and you tried to eat the cat. What about the day I had to go to school because you drew a hippo on your desk with a Sharpie (because your teacher wouldn’t let you bring Boo Boo to school)? We’ve had Abba karaoke dance parties with your cousins, and held each other to cry when we lost Non.
Other things haven’t changed—you still eat bananas like we have a tree in the yard. Even as a baby, you had me read to you for hours on end…and now, you sit and read and read and read to yourself. You’re so empathetic and extremely helpful (seriously, I don’t know any other twelve year olds who can help change a feeding tube without batting an eye). You’re funny—so funny (you have the sense of humor of your Popeye….very punny!). This life we were given to share has been such a blessing!
Now you’re entering this whole new phase of life called puberty.
I know, I know–we’ve talked about it ad nauseum. You know the very graphic details of what is going to happen, but you don’t know the secrets to it. There will be days when life won’t be fun. There will be moments of anger and moments of heartbreak….but you have to go through these moments on your own (we all have to). Life is not perfect. Make the best of what the day brings you.
Puberty: It’s not fun. It’s not pretty.
YOU are amazing. WE will get through this together.
Some kids, they don’t get along with their Mom when they go through this puberty bit. I’m thankful (oh so thankful!) that you talk to me about everything….that you may not always be happy about what I ask of you, but you do it…that you remember that family is best. I could do with a few less eye rolls and a lot less trying to get the last word in on anything I say (in case you want to work on that).
And speaking of family….thank YOU for showing me what it means to be a True Mother. There are Mom’s out there who don’t care, who use their children as pawns in a twisted game, who manipulate. You taught me to stand up, fight, and prove to everyone that a Mother is the person who would do anything (really…anything) to protect her child(ren). I will never regret making sure that you and Jack are protected from as much ugly as I can (unfortunately, you never know when Ugly is going to call you up and ruin your day!).
Welcome to the next phase of your life, my sweet girl young lady.
I am so proud of you…YOU….the J-bird.
Just grab my hand…we will do this together. Always.
Non grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone else. She had the same group of friends from the time she entered school until the day she died.
Her best friend was Phyl. When Non was here, she’d email and call Phyl. They talked like teenagers about what they were each doing, the local “scoop,” and if anyone had died that week (if no one died, you got the full report on who had what ailment).
When I was recovering from the ripping out of the ute, Non would take J for walks in her stroller around our apartment complex. They’d walk for hours. All Non wanted was for me to find a good girlfriend to help me out. She would return home after each walk proclaiming that there was absolutely no one for me to befriend.Everyone must work, or they must see an old woman walking a baby and go inside. She almost took it personally.
Then, as if the clouds opened up and Heavenly Father himself poured out sunshine…she found me a friend. This woman was 10 years older than me and had a 10-year-old little boy. She was not very much like me at all…very bold and kind of boisterous–and lawdy mercy could she talk! I figured we’d be the kind of neighbors that would wave and say hi, and that would be that.
Yet, something started to blossom.
She became my person. She had been where I was as a young mom and wife. We’d sit and chat for hours. She held my hand in times of fear, and I held hers as she buried her dad. She helped me study during nursing school, I nursed her when she had mouth surgery. Do we always see eye to eye, no. But do I know she’s got my back, yes.
Non got it right…as usual.
(Thank you, P, for being here to help me out this week. I love you!)
The other night I woke up…soaking wet with sweat, heart pounding, searching for my glasses.
I had one of those dreams… You know the ones. The dreams where you feel emotions so close, you actually touch and feel things, and everything is incredibly real.
I dreamed that my mom and I had driven to Pennsylvania alone. Just a girls trip. We were going to go see my aunt and visit my other grandparents. When we arrived, it was a Sunday, so we went to our church.
When we entered, it was just as it always was. The stained glass windows casting rainbow colored shadows across the familiar faces of my youth. The burgundy velvet pew cushions that smell musty, but somehow good. My grandfather was sleeping through “the Season of Prayer.”
And there sat Non.
Mom and I immediately burst in to tears and ran to hug her.
She touched my face, dried my tears, and kissed me on the cheek with her soft, wrinkly, gentle lips.
My mother, now furious, asked Non what on earth she was doing.
Non, calmly took my mom’s hands and told her that she faked her death so that she could get the insurance money and start a bakery!
….I almost believed it.
So, I wrote this whole post about mothers and animals and the zoo…and then it fell apart. It went from a really great idea to shambles in a few short paragraphs.
I think that’s an apt metaphor for life right now.
We had a great weekend! We went to Tampa to see my nieces play soccer. They are growing and changing so fast…moving from baby to young girl (breaking Auntie’s heart in the process—who said they can grow up?). The girls played and swam and giggled their little hearts out.
I have so many different emotions regarding Mother’s Day. Emotions that are hard to put in to words. The husbands got up at O’Dark Thirty to go fishing.
Somewhere around the time the sun thought about rising, I opened my eyes to see Niece B hovering over my face. She informed me to stay in bed or at least not go downstairs. I agreed.
I then met Ronca in the hall to eavesdrop. We couldn’t hear much, but we smelled toast.
Toast…good. They can’t burn the house down, right?
Wait! Wait! Suddenly, we were really awake. There were three little girls cooking in the kitchen—ages 10, 9, and 6. HOLY MOLY!
As we stood there giggling, we smelled something else…EGGS!
Eggs? Eggs require cooking. Ronca has a gas stove. We were fairly sure the house was about to implode.
Footsteps…we scatter…Niece D informs us that we need to have a seat in the playroom so we can be treated to our fancy schmancy breakfast.
As we are oohing and aahing over our Gourmet Meal Fit for a Queen, I asked J how they made the eggs without using the stove.
Niece B explains that it was easy—they used the microwave (OF COURSE! The microwave!)
I asked how they knew what to do…
J says, “I Googled it!”
So that was the height of joy (and OK, Ronca and I laughed until tears rolled). Those girls were so proud that they did something for their mommies for Mother’s Day. They were absolutely unashamedly glowing.
(We must be doing something right, right?)
However, there’s another part of me that aches.
On Friday, we got Jack’s wheels.
We arrived at the store and helped unpack the boxes containing these little tiny wheelchairs. We got to choose which one we wanted…we lifted, sat on, pushed, pulled, and test drove a bunch. We filled out paperwork, and talked about the warranty. We finally settled on our choice, and left the store.
It was then that it hit us.
WOW! Can you believe you even managed to get Mother’s Day cards sent? Good JOB! Seriously, you have had a week, girl!
Mother’s Day has always meant something different for you, huh?
In the beginning, it was all about bringing a homemade card with a potted Dixie cup plant to Mom.
Then, it was about being unable to have a baby…and all the fear of never knowing what it really felt like to be someone’s Mom.
Janson, in all her glory, gave you that gift (and the fright of your life!).
She is becoming such an amazing young woman. That heart of hers is full to exploding with love, isn’t it? She nary says an ugly word to anyone, and she is full of life and hope. Just the way you wanted it.
And, she adores you. You’re each others best friend. Well, for now, at least.
You watched her grow and change–and you knew there was no way to have another baby.
What an entrance he made, huh?
Oh, I know he’s given you sleepless nights, worry, and fear…but he’s also strengthened your heart. He’s teaching the world what empathy is. He’s showing everyone what love truly is.
He is right where he needs to be…In your arms.
Happy Mother’s Day, Heather.