This. That. Mom.

Some of this and some of that. Musings of an ordinary mom.


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Where we’re at with the Move

If you’re new here. . .

We recently found out that we will be moving to North or South Carolina this summer from our hometown in Indiana, where I’ve lived for thirty years (#SoOld!).

I cannot begin to describe how daunting it is to leave everything we’ve known for something that’s completely unknown.

But. We’re leaping. Trusting and leaping.

And dragging 7 kids with us.

Besides the emotional/psychological part of it, there’s the logistical part. For example, where, exactly, are we going to move to?

[first time through, I typed “where are we going to ‘love to,” and that seems accurate, because I’m desperately hoping to fall in love with a new hometown.]

No idea. But we’re trying to figure that part out. So, we spent virtually one meel-y-on hours on the google, then loaded up the kids for an epic road trip over their spring break.

We drove from Zionsville, IN to Greenville, SC the first day, equipped with two etch-a-sketches, 96 crayons (and sharpener!), and an epic playlist on our JBL speaker.

Greenville is in western South Carolina, close to the Appalachian Mountains, sort of between Carmel-sized and Indy-sized, for reference for our Indy friends.

Greenville: first thing we saw when we pulled in was a high-speed police chase, which simultaneously horrified and enraptured our children. But, overall, we all loved you.

So sunny.

Awesome parks.

Amazing restaurants (if kids sit in your bars, where do you guys go to get away from your kids??). This was Barley’s Pizza.

And, overall, a great indie vibe with a gorgeous mountain backdrop.

Then we moved on to Fort Mill. Mid-state, about 30 minutes south of Charlotte, NC.

Awesome area. Reminded us of Carmel, Indy friends.

With amazing hiking.

The public schools here are top-notch, and the Catholic Church was the friendliest we visited. And did I mention the hiking?

Lastly, drove east to Wilmington, NC, where we spent most of our time in Wrightsville Beach. It was touristy and trafficky, but it was just what the kids needed after a week of stopping by schools and churches. And RG may have promised us a beach house someday. . .

After a couple days at the beach, we packed it all up and headed northwest. Stopped by two towns outside of Raleigh but, by that point, weren’t getting many photos.

Here’s West Virginia on our last day, so kindly preparing us for the weather back home in Indiana.

Carolinas, you did not disappoint!

We didn’t *fall in love* with a new hometown like we were dreaming of, but we did fall in love with the Carolinas, and we gave the kids an amazing first impression of both states, which we felt like that was a total win.

And also, that hotel life.

RG and I are headed back out in two weeks to get down to business.

Think he’ll mind if I pack 96 crayons for entertainment??

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To the Class of 2018

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of 2018:

We’re sorry. 

You see. . .

When you were little, we spent so much time cutting your grapes in half and putting pillows around sharp edges.

And we’re not sorry for a moment of that.

But now you’re graduating, and we’re sorry.

We’re sorry that we haven’t cured cancer or world hunger yet.

We haven’t stopped global warming, brought about world peace, or taught everyone the difference between “there, their, they’re.”

We haven’t ended drunk driving or human trafficking.

We haven’t even convinced everyone that it’s always important to be kind.

We wanted to do all those things for you – we wanted to have all the sharp edges of the world covered with pillows before you walked out into it.

But we couldn’t do it.

So when you walk out those doors, please don’t walk out like you need your grapes cut in half or your sharp edges covered because our hearts won’t be able to take it.

Walk out like future doctors, teachers, and lawyers.

Walk out like policy-changers, peace-makers, and history-changers.

Walk out like you’re going to find all the sharp edges of the world and cover them for our grandchildren.

Walk out like Wonder Woman.

Walk out like freaking Will Smith in Independence Day.

Walk out like the future of the world depends on you and you alone –

because it does.

And, for the love.

Be kind.

Sincerely,

Moms


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We’re All Still Alive

When you become a mom, you are handed this little, basically, let’s be real, ball of dough.

And you’re looking at it in just bewilderment and wonder, and you hold it so guardedly, so carefully – like you’d hold an actual, literal lump of dough, because you’re acutely aware that every time you move, and every time you breathe, you’re forming it, molding it. . . and that’s how it begins.

And it gets bigger, but it’s just still so gosh-darn moldable. But you just can’t hold it as carefully – here, I am known to spring on our big boys unexpectedly and throw my arms around them and give them a good *heave* off the ground just to surprise them because middle-school boys aren’t the touchy-feeliest of creatures (and, frankly, neither am I).

It can be maddening, how impressionable and moldable they still are when they’re too big to hold carefully.

Like, when I get up early to shower and get dressed in actual clothes, and I shuttle everyone to school with record speed and organize an entire morning for nine people around a presentation. . . but I’m still five minutes later than every other parent.

Or when I ask eighteen questions about the day, but I fail to ask the RIGHT question, and it’s palpable.

I was making cinnamon rolls a couple weeks ago, and I threw away SEVEN PANS. Maybe I rushed them, maybe I rolled too soon or let them over-proof. . . I have no idea what happened, honestly. But I did it wrong, and I texted RG at 2am in tears (#worktravel). And regardless of exactly how we got there, there were 42 softly-risen, moldable rolls in the trash.

But there are no throw-aways with these little lumps of dough we’re given as moms – there’s no Prime Now to let us start over fresh at 9am. We can only work with what we’ve molded.

When I was a new mom, and RG texted to see how a day had gone, I’d often reply, “We’re all still alive.” This was, at the time, how I defined success. No matter how messy the house was or how exhausted I was, whether or not dinner was on the table (spoiler: it wasn’t), what I could offer was that we were are still alive.

I didn’t know then that as our little lumps of dough grew bigger, stronger, taller (taller than me, even!), they also become more vulnerable, more moldable.

And, horribly, as some of THE BEST mothers know, at the end of a horrible day, Moms can’t always say, “We’re all still alive.” Because the truth is that sometimes despite our best efforts and how much we tried to protect them and mold them. . .

they’re not.

I don’t say, “We’re all still alive,” on a rough day any more because it’s all too real that there’s too much in that statement moms can’t control. At the end of the incredibly hard days (and there are many), now I only say,

“I didn’t give up.”

And, in motherhood, that’s the only true measure of success.

To not giving up. Forever.


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The Eyes Have It

I met my husband at Texas Roadhouse.

More specifically, I met him when he waited on me at Texas Roadhouse. More specifically, I met him when he waited on me at Texas Roadhouse and left him my phone number.

I was 18 and out to dinner with a girlfriend. We were chatting and giggling and looking at the menu. I looked up, and our server was standing there, looking at me.

We made eye contact, and I froze because he held my gaze so intently that I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was looking INTO me. And that he knew everything about me.

And nothing is ever really this simple but, ultimately, that’s why I married him: he SEES me.

I realized recently that I wasn’t looking into our kids anymore. I mean, I was looking AT them, of course. I was watching them and asking them about their days and answering millions of questions. Helping them with homework, making sure they did their chores. Holding them, washing their hair, playing games, giving rides. Doing all the Mom things.

But, at the same time, I was cleaning. And helping older brother with homework. Checking texts, jotting down grocery lists. Folding laundry, making dinner. Wondering if the mom down the street was able to find that lunch meat she wanted at the new grocery store. Already halfway moved on to the next thing, and maybe only halfway there to begin with.

And the truth is: that’s not going to work. If I’m going to parent the kids well, I have to know them well. And to know them well, I have to look into them. And that means stopping what I’m doing, looking into their eyes, and letting them look away first.

This is easier said than done becauseI’ve got a lot of sticks in the fire here, but I’m committed: small moments here and there of emptying my hands, opening my eyes and my heart, seeing things about them that aren’t answers to the question, “How was your day?”

And it’s working.

Here’s looking at you, kids.


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This is me.

This is me, at 2 or 3: perfectly happy, perfectly upside-down. Blissfully not knowing that anything is wrong in the world.

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This is me, at 8 or 9: loving Little House on the Prairie; learning to play tennis; afraid I will have to go to listening and math centers for the rest of my life. Not knowing that my kids will someday go to the same school.

This is me, in middle school: playing in the band; running cross country horribly; worried about fitting in; hanging out at high school football games. Not knowing that one of the football players would become my husband.

This is me, at 18: graduating from high school; heading to St Mary of the Woods; majoring in education. Not knowing I would hate it.

This is me, at 20: getting married; pregnant; going to IUPUI; feeling a bit lost. Not knowing that we’d be welcoming many more babies; that at 30, I’d be pregnant and going to IUPUI.

This is me, at 25: having the kids Baptized; expecting Luke; pulling weeds; dancing with babies in the kitchen. Not knowing that I’d be joining groups, driving carpools, helping with school projects, losing my battle with the laundry.

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This is me, at 27: staying home with the kids and loving it; driving kids to and from practice and dance and watching them thrive; learning at the dinner table about the people they are becoming. Not knowing I’d be eulogizing my dad, and RG would be out of work.

This is me, at 30: still in love with that football player; still losing that battle with the laundry; still learning about my kids; still missing my dad; still trying to take a decent picture; still dancing with babies and taking deep sighs over the kitchen sink; still figuring out what I want to be when I grow up; still dreaming.

20140513-215449.jpgphoto credit Mike Washington photography

Not knowing what I’m not knowing.
And looking forward to finding out.


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what This That Mom wants for Mother’s Day

Besides, of course, a million dollars, five minutes of silence, and a chance to use the bathroom ALONE.

I don’t know what other moms want for Mother’s Day – but I am a mom, and I know what I want:

I want to be known. And I want to be loved.

I want assurances that I am doing more right things than wrong things – that I’m helping my children more than I’m hurting them. I want to hear that my mistakes are okay; that I don’t have to be perfect.

I want acknowledgement that I am trying my best at this whole mothering thing – even when I’m tired, and even when I’m mad, and even when I just don’t know if I can do it anymore. And I want to hear that it’s admirable to try my best, even on the days when my best isn’t very good. Especially on those days.

I want to believe that folded laundry and organized Tupperware cabinets aren’t measures of success – or lack of it.

I want to get credit for my thoughts, not just my actions. I want the time I spend looking out my kitchen window, thinking of and praying for my kids, to find itself a place in response to the question, “What did you do today?”

I want to have room in my heart for all the times of the past, all the things happening right now, and all those yet to come – I want to parent past-mindedly, present-mindfully, and future-mindfully. And that means I need a bigger heart, so I want that, too.

I want to zoom out and see where I fit in the big picture; to understand where we’re coming from and where we’re going. I want to see into the future and know that our children and their children will be in it, prospering.

All these things that I want for Mother’s Day are going to have to wait. Because while I’m still celebrating here on Earth, I won’t meet the One who can calm my fears, give me assurances, and really know my heart – at least not face-to-face.

And so I listen to the ones closest to Him: the ones who gift me jewelry from my own dresser, wipe their noses on my skirts, keep me company in the bathroom. The ones who cry about eating their dinner, don’t want to pick up their toys, stamp their feet about taking a bath.

They don’t judge me by my laundry or cluttered cabinets. They remind me of the memories that I have forgotten and make me promises about the future and the grandchildren in it. They think I’m beautiful, and that I can solve any problem. They missed me before they were born, when they were still in Heaven, they tell me. They forgive me when I let them down. They accept me for who I am, even when they don’t like it.

And that’s what I want for Mother’s Day. That, and also the five minutes of silence.