Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Crazy and the Calm

Its been the kind of week where I haven't had 5 seconds to rub together.

The kind of week where my train of thought is interrupted so often that its no longer a train...

The kind of week where you just try and get through...and the most depressing part is it's only Tuesday.

There aren't many moments within this kind of week (and you all know exactly what I'm talking about, because we all have weeks like this) where it is quiet long enough for me to take a deep breath, much less spend time with the Lord. Its more like a 20 second bathroom break that is combined with a "Jesus, help me. I'm losing it. Help me," prayer time.

Here are a few of the highlights:

1. Nate ate the fortune inside his fortune cookie...he said he didn't do it on purpose, but I swear he knows those things have papers inside them, and he was trying to get a laugh.

2. I couldn't figure out how to open the hood of my van so I could help my best friend jump her car. I literally had to get out the owner's manual (after several moments looking for it) to find out where the lever was.

3. I went into the half bathroom (for my daily 20 second prayer time) and stepped onto the rug...and it was soaked. For several long moments I was convinced I had stepped into the contents of an overflowed toilet. Thankfully it was just a leak in the flush tank, so the water I was standing in, and then mopping up, was clean. Still, that leak put the most-used-bathroom in our house out of commission for a few days. You want to see boys running FAST, watch them when they realize they have to make it all the way to the other side of the house before they pee their pants.

4. I ran a bath for the boys the other night...and Gabe climbed into the full tub of perfectly clean water...and peed.

5. Several splinters required a needle. Enough said.

6. Laundry. (insert all appropriate curse words here)

7. I offered to give away as many of my children as my sister was willing to take. She said she would only take them in trade...and she had a husband she was willing to hand over...but husbands are every bit as difficult as kids, maybe more so...and we were mostly just venting anyway.

8. As I listened to my second grader and kindergartner read, I told myself over and over "It'll get better. Everyone says, when they hit 3rd grade, the reading gets better. Just breathe, it gets better."

9. My daughter, who is 11, lost her very last baby tooth.

10. I had a moment of total silence, which lasted all of 7 seconds, and I heard the Lord speaking to me. He reminded me that I was looking forward to the end of so many things about this stage of my life, and I was forgetting to see the joy, and the magnificence, in it.

Because Nate may eat paper in order to elicit a flabbergasted reaction from me, but he also climbs onto my bed every nights and tells me he loves me and he thinks I'm beautiful. And he may not always do that, so I should be thankful for those moments.

And Gabe pees in perfectly good bath water, but he also says "Mommy, guess what? I love you and I think you're cute." And he might not always.

And Clay screams his head off when I'm digging out his splinters (seriously, people passing by our house will think I am pulling out his fingernails with pliers.) and he reads at the speed of SNAIL, but he makes me laugh every single day with his funny personality, and when he's grown up I will miss that.

And Faith might say she is doing laundry, but actually just throws dirty clothes into the washer and then walks out of the room and leaves them for me to take care of, but she also talks to me like we are friends, and she thinks I'm cool, and she seeks my advice. And she might not do that for a season...a season that is coming in the not-so-distant future.

So, before I descend back into the abyss of wrestling matches, hide-and-seek chases, urine infested bath water, digestible paper, dirty clothes, leaking toilets, tired feet, unshaven legs, un-brushed teeth, and all the rest that drowns out all attempts at coherent thought, I will say this:

Every stage is filled with insanity, and every stage is filled with beauty. And if we focus too much on one, we will miss the other. I for one would rather miss the insanity than miss the beauty.

Take a breath. It only has to be a second. Breathe in His presence. See the beauty.

It's enough for this moment, Lord. Just enough.

Remind me again in a minute.

Monday, April 22, 2013

...Fear Not...

You know how they say that you pass things down to your kids? Not just green eyes or saddle bags or dramatic personalities or a love for music. Those things are okay. (well, all but the saddle bags, but there's nothing I can do about it. I inherited them, and my daughter will too, poor girl.) I'm talking about the things we wish we DIDN'T pass down- like sassy, smart mouths, and the stress switch that goes from zero to 500 in a heartbeat, and the ability to LIE with a straight face.

And fear. I have struggled with it since I was a girl. I remember listening to one of my favorite records (Charity Church Mouse and Psalty The Singing Songbook...and it was an ACTUAL record, too) and getting SO scared when Risky Rat tricked Charity Church Mouse into signing a contract with him, even though it was a dream, that I had to go and sleep in my parents room.

And later, I would turn on all the lights on my way to and from the bathroom at night, because the light lessened the fear of monsters and robbers. And I can remember even as a 10, 11, and 12 year old, sneaking into my parents room and asking my dad to pray for me, because I was scared and couldn't sleep. In fact, I have called my Dad to pray for me because I was scared more than once since I've been grown.

I truly, truly wish I could have somehow kept from passing along this particular trait to my kids. I hate it when they are afraid. Seeing the terror in their eyes hurts my heart.

I know its unfounded fear, of course. There aren't monsters or robbers waiting for them upstairs who will magically disappear if I walk up with them and turn on the lights as we go. But I also know, because I have experienced it, that the fear doesn't hear the rationale. It fills you with panic, and your heart races, and you wonder how you'll catch the next breath, and in a last ditch effort, you run as fast as you can to the person who isn't afraid, because they can protect you.

My poor little Gabe, who is 3, has recently started waking up in the middle of a dead sleep, crying and shaking, saying there are monsters or bad guys in his room, and he's scared. Not only when he's sleeping, either. Yesterday he came careening down the hall and launched into my arms in the middle of the afternoon, telling me that a bad monster was chasing him.

Over the last several weeks, as he would wake up screaming, I would do what my dad always did when I woke him from a dead sleep. I would pray. "Lord, I ask that You would settle Gabe's heart, and that You would be with him, and remind him that he doesn't have to be afraid, because You are here. Amen."

But yesterday, all in a flash, I remembered something that changed me as a girl. I remembered the first time I decided I would pray for myself. I was terrified about something (I can't even remember what) and I said, out loud, with my voice trembling, "I don't have to be afraid, because the Lord is with me. And Jesus lives IN me, and His angels protect me. So why should I be afraid?"

And just saying it myself calmed my heart. Something about His name, and my lips using it with authority, made the fear shrink.

I've done that for years, every time fear rises in my heart. I did it today, when I was trying to make a decision that I was afraid wouldn't be the right one. Out loud, I said, "Jesus. Help me. I'm afraid. Be with me." And my heart calmed, and my hands stopped shaking quite so badly.

Yesterday, when Gabe bolted into the room in terror, I remembered that first time I took charge of the fear, and I pulled him close to me, and I said, "Gabe, remember what Mommy told you? Jesus lives in our home. And His angels protect you all the time. Monsters can't get you. So you go tell the monster that, okay?"

And my sweet little baby set his lips, and drew his brows together, and turned. He looked down the hall, and he pointed his finger. And he said "Monster, you can't get me. Jesus and angels take care of me. Go away!"

And I cried.

Because his monster is fear, and he looked it in the face and told it to go. I'm glad he did that, because it reminded me to do it too. And I needed the reminder today.

Every time my hands shake and my heart races, and every time the dark seems thick enough to suffocate me, I am going to remember those curls bouncing on his head as he stomped his foot and pointed his finger at Fear...and told it he knew Who was with him.

"The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid?" Psalm 27:1

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Old Yeller

"Old Yeller" is one of the worst movies EVER.

Its right up there with "Where the Red Fern Grows" and "E.T." and "Little Women" and a handful of other movies I can remember (with shocking clarity) SOBBING while watching as a kid. (Side note- who makes horrifyingly sad movies and targets kids with them? Sadistic, stupid, terrible people, that's who)

I watched Old Yeller as a kid, and I remember thinking, after I had finished crying and crying and crying, that I would NEVER WATCH THAT STUPID MOVIE EVER AGAIN.

And I held to that for many, many years.

And then my brother let his kids watch it, and they told my kids about how awesome it was...and my kids began begging me to get it.

"NO!" I responded. "That is the worst movie in the world!"

"WHY???" they pleaded. Well, I didn't want to spoil the movie for them, and I even managed to convince myself it wasn't as bad as I remembered...and I gave in and broke my boycott.

Big mistake.

We laid on my bed and watched it (because my room is the only place with a VHS player, and I borrowed my mom's VHS copy of the world's stupidest movie, because I didn't own it. (DUH)) and by the time the wolf and Old Yeller were battling it out, and the mother was screaming "Travis!!! Get your GUN!" I was screaming too, and covering my eyes and saying (out loud to my kids who were in rapt attention ) "this is a stupid movie!!! I can't believe I let you talk me into this!"

And another thing- what kind of dumb family builds a huge fire when they KNOW that rabies is on the loose? And why were they dumb enough to FORGET to bring their gun? Isn't the number one rule of the wide open plains "Always have a gun with you?" I have never lived in the untamed wilderness, but even I know that rule.

Stupid movie. (I guess this is as good a place as any to apologize for all the times the word 'stupid' appears in this post. Also, to give you a spoiler alert...I will be ranting about the end of this movie, so if you haven' seen it...well, actually, I highly recommend that you never do, and so the spoiler doesn't matter)

Right, so of COURSE Old Yeller comes to the rescue of the stupid family. He fights off the wolf, and the mother screams "Travis! Bring your gun!" and Travis brings his gun, and moments of terror follow where the growling and snapping and fighting can be heard, and Travis waits for just the right shot so he doesn't kill his beloved dog...and then BANG! The wolf is slain, and Old Yeller is alive, albeit covered in blood and dirt and bite marks.

And then the mother breaks the potentially horrible news to Travis. "That wolf was MAD." Meaning Old Yeller just got into a death match with a rabid animal.

Travis is optimistic. After all, Old Yeller has survived a number of close scrapes so far in the movie. But he agrees to pin his dearly loved dog up in a pen until they can be sure he hasn't contracted the deadly disease through any of the numerous puncture wounds inflicted by the wolf.

Oh yes, you know where this is heading. After several days of Yeller looking just fine, and Travis growing more and more sure that things will turn out right, he goes to the pen to feed his dog, only to find Yeller growling and snapping and foaming at the mouth and trying to attack the door of the pen where Travis is standing.

And once again, Travis gets his gun.

See what I mean? STUPID movie.

As a kid, I cried and cried over the tragedy of Travis having to kill his beloved dog. I related to the family who had lost their pet (who was really more than a pet).

But as an adult, I had a different reaction.

I found myself relating to Old Yeller.

I, too, am willing to lay down my life for my family. I would fight off a rabid wolf for them (In fact, I do that every day. The rabid wolf's name is LAUNDRY) and I am frequently locked in a pen (otherwise known as my house) against my will.

Old Yeller loved Travis, but the rabies made him MAD.

I think maybe I have rabies.

Because sometimes I find myself snarling and baring my teeth at the people I love most in the world.

The argument can be made that it wasn't Old Yeller's fault. The family was stupid, and careless, and Old Yeller was just doing what all good dogs are supposed to do. He protected his family, and then they locked him in a pen and SHOT HIM.

The other day we were driving down the road and Nate said "Mom, here, my gum is out of taste" and tried to hand me his ABC gum WHILE I WAS DRIVING. He dropped it, because I couldn't reach back and get it while safely operating the vehicle, and he couldn't find where it had fallen...and my rabies jumped to the surface.

"Nate! Are you kidding me? Its almost summer, and that gum is going to get all sticky and melted, and someone will step in it, and ruin their shoes and our van. You will find it, or I will never give you gum again!!!"

And in their minds, my family was thinking "Travis, get your GUN!"

Yes, I still think Old Yeller is the world's stupidest movie.

But, sometimes, rabid animals (and mothers) need to be SHOT.

Thank goodness my own personal rabies has an antidote. Several, in fact. My kids know that when I bury my head in my hands and start praying out loud, they better run for the hills, because the fangs are about to come out. Praying is a good antidote for my MADNESS.

As is laughter. Being quick to laugh at the crazy antics of my wild bunch keeps my foaming mouth at bay.

Reminding myself of the big picture helps too. "You love them, you don't want to rip them to shreds. This is a small thing. They can't help it they built a huge fire, forgot their gun, and didn't see the rabid wolf until it tried to attack them. You love these people. You will protect them and lay down your life for them, however absurd they are acting!"

Time with fellow Old Yeller's (otherwise known as my sister and my friends(sorry for calling all of you potentially rabid dogs)) also relieves my itch to snarl and snap. Something about baring my urge to bare my teeth makes the urge lessen slightly.

So, to recap: Old Yeller is a stupid movie that should never be watched-EVER. Sometimes I act like Old Yeller and need to be shot. My friends and my sister have been compared to rabid dogs. Praying helps me not kill the people I love.

On that note, the rabid wolf of laundry is howling and must be fought off, however lethal the results will be for me. Pretty sure rubber gloves and puncture proof suits are needed before I attack the basket in the boys room.

Snarl. Growl. Snap.

"Travis, get your gun!"

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sibling Sensations

Its Sibling Day. (yes, apparently that is a real thing)

I didn't know about it until today, when my sister posted it on my Facebook wall.

It got me thinking about families, and siblings in particular. And it makes sense to me that if we celebrate mothers, and fathers, and Presidents, and veterans, we should also celebrate siblings. And before you gasp in horror that I have placed brothers and sisters in the same category as George Washington, and our military vets, and our parents...just here me out. I have prepared my arguments.

We give honor to our mothers because they take care of us, and sacrifice for us, and hold our heads in their laps when we are sick or sad. They love us unconditionally. Period.

We give honor to our fathers because they protect us, and work hard to make our lives better, and correct us when we screw up, and when they tell us they love us...our hearts feel safe.

We give honor to our Presidents and veterans because of their sacrifices for our country. They fought battles, and obstacles, and they kept fighting to secure the liberties we enjoy, the lifestyle we love.

But what about our siblings? What is so special about brothers and sisters?

I can only speak from my own personal experience, so that's what I'll do.

I only have one brother. He's two years younger than me, but he's been bigger than me for most of our lives. He has nearly gotten into a fist fight on my behalf, he has yelled at me, he has cried with me, he has laughed with me and AT me, he has danced with me, he has put his arm around me and called me his "little sister" and he has been a CONSTANT in my life since he was born. I have very few childhood memories that don't include him. His name is Daniel.

I have three sisters. First is Joy. She was the shy one, the quiet one, the one who shook her head and laughed at my craziness, who always reminded me of the big picture. She loved to ask controversial questions, just to get a discussion going. She folded my laundry and put away my dishes every time she was at my house. Other than my husband, she was my roommate for the most years. When I was reading "This Present Darkness" late at night, and she was sleeping in the room, I would tell myself everything was okay, because my sister was with me. (as if she could have protected me from anything. She was a skinny little bean pole of a girl...but she was pretty tough.) She is one of the most remarkable people I have ever known. Saying "I'm Joy's sister" gives me a sense of pride and love that is impossible to convey.

Then there is Sarah. She's like me...a LOT like me. She is the one I text or call when I am having a bad day, and she is the only one who hears ALL of my horrifying admissions. Things I wouldn't say to my best friend...I will say to Sarah. I've been telling her everything since I was 16 and she was 10, and I had just been kissed for the first time and HAD TO TELL someone. We've been mistaken for twins several times. We laugh until we cry every single time we are together. I LOVE for people to know she's my sister. She's just that fantastic.

And finally, there's Rachel. When Mom was pregnant with her, I sincerely prayed for a brother (because I already had two sisters to wreck my stuff, and I wanted Daniel to have someone to wreck HIS stuff) but when I met Rachel for the first time...I was hooked. I'm the oldest, and she's the baby. We have that special connection. I taught her to tie her shoes, and listened to her read her school books, and made her get up in the night and go pee, and told her stories about the angels protecting our house when she was afraid. We have been at each other's throats, we have been each other's biggest fans.

We are siblings. We protect each other, correct each other, fight for each other, fight WITH each other, spend time hating, spend more time loving, and no matter what, it always comes back to one thing. THESE ARE MY PEOPLE. I will land on their side. Period. Unconditionally. Always.

Not just because they have seen me when I was covered in chicken pox, and not just because I know how long they picked their noses and played barbies, and not just because I am SUPPOSED to be on their side. I love them. They are part of who I am. They helped to mold and shape who I am, just like my parents. They are the presidents of my fan club, and the veterans of all the Bausum World Wars.

Sibling Day is definitely a legitimate thing. And if I'd known about it in advance, I would have tried really hard to spend this day hanging out with as many of them as I could...

If you don't have siblings like this, I can only say I'm sorry.

They. Are. The. Best.

Happy Sibling Day to Daniel, Joy, Sarah, and Rachel, the most wonderful siblings I could ask for.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Fake it 'til you...fall flat on your face.

Confession is good for the soul, or so the saying goes.

My soul must be doing great, because I have a completely uncontrollable life mission to confess all my craziness on a regular basis, to everyone who will listen, and even those who won't. Ask anyone, and they will confirm this.

I think its because I spent the better part of my teenage years (and my early 20's) putting on the mask of "got it all together" over top the mask of "stellar Christian" which was concealing the mask of "perfect wife, daughter, sister, friend, mother" and underneath all of them was the "confident, self-assured, knows who she is" mask.

And then I nearly had a nervous breakdown at the age of 23.

Its too long of a story, with way too many moments of crazy followed by way too many tears, to share.

But one day, as my 3 and 1 year old sat taking a bath simply because I needed them to be confined and happy for a moment (while I was laying in the floor next to the tub crying), something dawned on me that I had managed to keep hidden under all the smiling, masking, faking.

Faking it 'til I make it...isn't working. I'm not 'making it' anywhere. I'm only making myself and my family CRAZY.

Now...9 years post depression, post stress-induced insomnia, post FAKER...I seem to be suffering from the opposite problem.

Now I can't conceal my failure. I SHARE IT. All the time.

Today during school, I let my three year old play with thumb tacks. He may or may not have stuck one into the palm of his hand.

This week I took the same child to the doctor for a nasty cough...and I may or may not have secretly hoped he was contagious so I could get out of doing something the next day that I really didn't want to do.

I may or may not have referred to my children as "pains in my @#*" within their hearing this week.

After being stranded in the house all week with sick kids, I think its totally acceptable to make a trip to Target, with all the kids in their pajamas, even if the reason for the trip is purchasing a new pair of sweat pants after the death of the previous favorite pair. (hypothetically, of course)

This morning when I thought for a brief moment that we were out of milk, I may or may not have offered a three year old a Coke instead.

When the schoolroom got too filled with noise and complaining, I may have tuned it all out and played a level of my favorite game on my phone. But I may not have.

When my husband honked at me while he and the kids were in the van and I was still gathering things together in the house...I may or may not have stood in the entry way and counted to 30 before emerging, just because...well, because that will teach him to honk at me.

When he complained about me taking a swallow out of his cup at supper...it then became totally acceptable to spit in the glass of tea, thereby making it mine. (again, hypothetically)(although, while we are on this particular topic...what's the big deal about my spit in his cup? We share each other's spit a million times a day, just ask our kids)

I may or may not watch the minutes leading up to 5 p.m. tick by, because when 5 p.m. comes it is officially an acceptable hour to have a wine cooler.

When I meet, or hear about, or read about, a mom who has it all together, and loves her life all the time, and can't stop smiling, and is always waxing philosophical about how blessed and wonderful they feel all the time...there is a distinct possibility that I am thinking one of two things. "You are such a faker, no one feels like that all the time" or "I want to punch you in the face right now."

See what I mean? I'm way too honest. My husband will undoubtedly make his yelling face at me.

But I have found that I relate to/sympathize with/want to be around/die laughing at/say amen to the other moms out there who are tired of faking it, and just vomit their craziness at the first possible moment to anyone who will listen.

News flash: WE ARE ALL FAKING IT MOST OF THE TIME...and none of us are making it. So lets all quit faking, and then no one else will have to, and we will all be less crazy, and my husband can make his yelling face at the whole lot of us!

I went first.

Your turn!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Confessions of the compassion deprived

There is an excellent possibility I am a terrible mother.

When my kids throw up, I absolutely WILL NOT, under any circumstances, allow them to drink anything afterward. They may, carefully, swirl water around in their mouth and spit it out (to help rid them of the nasty puke taste) but they are never, ever permitted to swallow the liquid. In fact, they must be vomit free for at least 3 hours before I allow them to have anything to drink.

Last night my son really didn't like the egg rolls we were eating as part of our supper. He even gagged in his attempt to chew and swallow it. My response after he had finished throwing up? "Too bad, buddy. Go put in the next bite."

When one of them gets hurt because they are jumping off things or walking around with blankets over their faces or running full speed for no reason at all...I usually say something along these lines: "If you were watching what you were doing, you wouldn't get hurt all the time."

I have, on many occasions, bodily restrained my child in order to dig a splinter from their foot.

When Clay was little, he had a real problem swallowing things he didn't like (this is the same child who threw up last night after trying to swallow a bite of an egg roll) He would open his mouth for a bite (because he had been disciplined many times for refusing) but once the bite was in...there was no telling when it would leave his cheek and makes its way into his stomach. One day, after close to an hour of him holding a bite of a banana in his cheek, I'd had enough. So, I laid him down on his back, plugged his nose, and waited until he opened his mouth to breathe. Miraculously, as soon as he did, the offending banana slime slid down his throat.

I firmly believe that anything they can find to eat makes an acceptable breakfast. Potato salad, twizzlers, or a cup of coffee. Its a free for all. Anything goes.

I intentionally exposed my oldest two children to the chicken pox. (This was back when the vaccine for it was new, and I was nervous that it wasn't as good as actually having the pox themselves)

It doesn't bother me a bit that my kids stay in their pajamas and don't brush their hair all day. Or that they go in public that way. I encourage it, in fact. I am living vicariously through them in that regard.

I have said to my sons, many times, "Be tough. You're men."

I have said to my daughter, many times, "Suck it up. You're a tough southern girl."

The thing is, its not that I don't love my kids...I love them like crazy. I think they are hilarious, and smart, and beautiful, and the most overwhelmingly amazing blessing in my life.

Its just that I have a minor compassion deficiency. If there is no blood...then they are probably okay. Even if there is blood...if its not a lot, they are probably gonna live.

I'm not really sure why these things make me a bad mom...I'm just pretty sure most people judge me for them.

But...my kids are tough, and independent, and fearless, and fantastic...and my lack of compassion hasn't seemed to injure them too badly. Yet.

There is no point whatsoever to this blog post.

But there is a shelf to display my "Bad Mom" awards. I have a lot of them.