Friday, May 31, 2013

The First Decade

Cory works 24-hour shifts at his full-time job so we don't go to bed together about 30% of our nights.  When he's gone, I crawl into a rumpled bed because making my bed is one thing I almost never do (blush).  But when he's home, I never have to.  Prior to crawling in, Cory always makes my bed.  And not just makes it, but makes it exactly how I like it.  He pulls the fitted sheet super tight, like a hotel bed.  Then he puts on the flat sheet, then my electric blanket, and turns it on to level four.  Then he double folds the comforter so all of my covers are heavy.  And I swear to the heavens, when I crawl into my bed, I feel so loved and cared for.

I'm a strong, independent woman.  I can manage the household, work my job, debate the issues of the day.  I can teach and raise my children, and care for my husband.  I cook dinner every night and keep the laundry done.  But there is something deep inside me that absolutely loves being cared for.  

Cory and I are celebrating our ten-year anniversary today.  We are blessed to be in a marriage that isn't perfect, but is darn good.  And relatively easy.  Even though we fight, we almost never go to bed angry.  Cory works hard to support us and is an exceptional father.  And we work because we're respectful of each other as human beings, we are excellent communicators, and we love each other deeply.  And there may be grand gestures in our marriage, but the little stuff -- like the made-up bed -- are the best parts.  

Life is busy, and can be painful.  Parenting is sometimes overwhelming and so much work.  So today I am taking a moment to be thankful that I have a partner who loves and appreciates me like Cory does.  I wasn't looking for him when he came into my life, but God knew I needed him for the rest of my life.  Thankful for this first amazing decade and looking forward to many more ahead of us!

Sunday, May 26, 2013


When Matthew was two, and Jack was a baby, I lost him at the mall for about 20 minutes.  At Ridgedale, there is now a Chipotle where an Arby's used to be.  I had gone in to review some photos at a studio in the mall and on the way out, I was grabbing lunch for Cory and Cole.  There is a stroller-rental right outside the restaurant, and Matthew was playing on those strollers.  I was looking at the menu, and when I turned around, Matthew was gone.  

It'd be hard to me to put into words what happened then.  I had Jack in a stroller.  I quickly scoured the area and went into an instant panic.  I've not felt something like that since, or before.  My whole body shut down. I ran into a tailor shop, pushed my stroller all the way to the back and asked the seamstress if she had seen a little boy.  I called Cory, freaking out.  Someone must have called a security guard because one showed up.  The area is right by the exit and all I could think is that someone had taken him and walked right out of the mall.  My whole body shut down.  I kept thinking, "My life will end today.  If someone took my baby, my life is over."  I couldn't think.  I didn't know what to do.  The security guard assured me that this happens daily and assured me someone would find him.  I was in shock, and could hardly move, and at the same time I couldn't move fast enough.  I needed someone to take my stroller so I could move faster.  

Only a short time passed before they told me that someone found him in JCPenney, in the homegoods section.  He came walking out with a security guard.  I dropped to my knees and started crying.  I hugged him and hugged him and when I leaned back, he was looking at me, puzzled.  He still remembers it.  That unbelievable relief after sheer panic.

This week, there was a news story about a family that went camping and lost their two-year-old.  For 48 presumably AGONIZING hours, they couldn't find their baby girl.  Since I heard about it, I have had a tightness in my chest. A feeling of guilt because my life just continued while theirs absolutely stood still. Because that happens.  People, awful people, steal other peoples children.  Who would do that?!  Unfortunately, they have found their daughter, in the lake.  She isn't here on earth anymore. And I'm sure their pain is awful, and my heart is broken for that mother.  It happens so fast.  It's no one's fault.  But they will grieve the loss of their precious daughter their entire lives.  God.  So sad.  And yet, I'm glad Jesus got her, and not some awful human on earth and they won't have to spend the rest of their lives wondering where their child is, like so many unfortunate parents the world over.  I cannot imagine a greater horror.  

I'll keep that family in my prayers as our lives continue.  And all families who lose their children too soon, in any manner of death or loss.  It must be unbearable.  Today, I am thankful that my babies are all under my roof safe and sound.  Pray God keep them safe and secure every day of their lives.

And if you ever see a panic-stricken parent in a public place whose little one has wandered off, stop what you are doing and help them.  They will appreciate it.  Our sole purpose as parents is to keep our children safe, and when we are unable or have failed, life stops for a moment.

To Daisy's family:  I'm so sorry for your loss.  Parents everywhere are grieving with you.  God wrap his healing arms around you and give you peace.  Amen.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Oh, brother.

Matthew and Cole have had an interesting relationship.  Historically, I've always felt like Matthew was annoying to Cole. I feel like they fought a lot.  I have often said to Cole, "You are eight years older than him," or "He's four. You're twelve," or whatever the age they were when they were fighting.  But suddenly, it's not like that.

Cole has started talking about his future.  His current plans include leaving us after high school.  Like, really leaving.  And we'll encourage him to chase his dreams, and be all that he can be (ahem. subtle hint.).  Whatever he decides.  But then, tonight, I had this realization:  His leaving is going to crush Matthew.  It is going to be very, very hard for him.

They have become such good friends.  If you walk into my house at any given time, you might see Cole doing arm curls with Matthew in his arms (he calls it his Home Gym).  You will see them wrestling (and the baby freaking out because she hates rough play).  You will see them on the trampoline.  And however you find them, you will find Matthew in fits of hysterics.  He's a stoic kid, primarily.  But he thinks his big brother is HILARIOUS.

I was thinking of it through Matthew's eyes.  You're eight years old.  Your big brother is 16, has muscles, sometimes has girls over, and he burps super loud.  He comes up with ridiculous nicknames for you, and regularly calls you "sweetheart," and refers to you and your little brother as "ladies."  "Good night, ladies," he'll say to them, "Sleep well!"  You just might have a love affair with your ever-teasing big brother.  

I guess this realization, while difficult, might be preparing me too.  I know how fast the next two years will go.  I know the changes we'll go through during them.  I know that we have to start preparing for the bird to leave the nest.  Change is inevitable.  It's exciting.  It's hard.  Pulling deep into this mother's heart to remember that they'll be brothers first, and brothers forever.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


I've been telling Cole that I'm going to send a singing telegram to school for his 16th birthday.  And if they won't let me do that, I'll just make an announcement over the intercom:  "Happy Birthday Cole!  We love you SO MUCH and are so proud of the young man you are becoming!".  He told me that if I did that, he'd run away.  Or kill me.  But today, when I asked him if he enjoyed the telegram (that I didn't send) he told me that he was nervous all day, and he said he actually wouldn't have been that mad.  He wouldn't be that mad!  So, next year, he's getting a very special singing visitor at school.  With no warning.  Because that is what I took from the conversation.

It'd be pretty hard for me to describe how amazing my kid is and how much I love him.  I've known Cole for eleven years now.  I doubt he remembers a time when I wasn't part of his life, and if he does, he probably hates that part.  Okay, that was a pretty risky assumption, and probably isn't true, but you know what I'm saying.  When I met him, and he was five, I couldn't imagine this part of life.  I didn't know what kind of relationship we'd have.  I couldn't have imagined that a decade could transform a relationship from a stepson and a stepmom into one that transcended all odds and became something so completely remarkable.  He's not my flesh and blood, but he's my heart.  I am so proud to be his mom, and thankful to all the people who allowed and encouraged me to be here for him and let him be a whole part of my life.  No stepparent could wish for better than I have it now.

That shirt?  It's called a bro-tank. 
 Don't call it bro-stupid; he won't appreciate that.

One thing I've learned about life is that nothing is perfect.  Life is messy, and parenting is no exception.  Parenting your first child is particularly difficult, because you're doing everything for the first time.  I'm sure Cole would agree that I've not done everything well.  I don't always know what to do, or what to say, and I second guess myself.  But here's something else I've learned:  You gotta talk to your kid.  Talk about everything, even (especially!) the hard stuff.  If you come up with a good communication system, the rest will fall into place.  I think talking is one of the things we do best.  

And this kid, he talks to me.  He flaps on about nothing, and he asks me questions about everything.  He asks for advice, and he sometimes even takes it.  I am most grateful for that gift, even when it's noisy and chaotic.  My deepest prayer is that we can continue to communicate his whole life.  Please keep talking to me, G.

This week, he got his first job, celebrated his sixteenth birthday (today!), he gets confirmed tomorrow, and takes his driver's test Friday.  It's a big week.  It's a big life.  It's the beginning of what will be a remarkable adult life for him, and I cannot wait to walk with him the rest of the way to adulthood.  I cannot wait to see what he does as a man in this world and what kind of choices he makes.  He's going to be amazing and I am so so proud to have played a part in what he is becoming.

This blog post would probably embarrass him, but not as much as a stranger singing Happy Birthday in his lunchroom at school (I think.  Stay tuned for next year's birthday blog entry).  So I'm going to publish it at the end of a really amazing birthday, in the midst of a really amazing life.  Today, I'm celebrating the things that are easy about parenting -- not the least of which is loving my son.  Happy Birthday, Cole!