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Friday, October 25, 2013

Miracles happen in airports

Dear God,

Traveling is super when you are five! Thanks for showing a tired old mom driving to the airport that a sunrise has at least eight different shades of colors moving, reflecting, and transforming into pictures and shapes each second. A sing-song voice narrated the whole show to me this morning. 

And get this, Skypark has a tall dark brown man with a wide grin (made by you) who gives you free chocolate doughnuts with 312 colored sprinkles on them that you can eat while riding a shuttle to the airport WITHOUT a seatbelt. Plus, if you are five, everyone everywhere wants to talk with you about everything. You can tell them about your cousins, your polka dot suitcase, and how you can hop on one foot. And their blank stares transform into happy animated life when they hear you talking (except that one grumpy lady who wouldn't let me sit by her.)

Praise for Hello Kitty pink pillow night lights which are just right for resting in cars, shuttles and on airport floors. Did you design them that way on purpose? And, oh God, security checks are so darned fun! You get to take off your shoes, skip through a tunnel, and spin these metal spinners that shoot your backpack right out at ya. Then at the airport restaurant-- guess what-- more free food!! Oyster crackers galore (if you are five, you call them "yummies") sitting right next to the grape jam on the table. Thank you!

God, I love my little girl. Thank you for giving me priceless time with her. Time to see the world through her mind. You make miracles happen, even in airports.

Now I have got to ask...Could you help all of us to lift each other up like a five-year-old can? To see joy in tiny places and share it? Could you help us smile on each other, make room for silly laughter and mistakes, like many of us do for a five-year-old? 

Here I sit. I forgot how wonderful it is to sit. And since I'm flying to Chicago today, you are allowing me to rest on my rear end for over 5 hours and think about all my blessings. I never knew flying economy, buckled between my wide-eyed daughter and a stranger, would feel like a big, luxurious gift from you. Better than chips with guacamole or a new pair of shoes.

Lord, I pray we could all think like five-year-olds more often. I think we would make you smile even more than you already do.

Thank you God!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I Need Your Help!

God, I'm trying to reach you! I'm leaving town and I need your help!

Plus, you know I have this huge fundraiser to attend tonight. Thank you God that this year I am not the speaker. Cocktail dress, hair all done, make-up, nylons, high heels. Calm smile.

And to make thing more frantic, tomorrow morning I'm jumping on a plane with my daughter, leaving my two little boys and husband behind while I visit relatives. Second trip away since having kids! I am jittery. Lord, I have zillions of things exploding, chattering, buzzing around in my head. Such as:

Will the house be recognizable when I return? Will everyone get fed, get to piano, soccer, church, birthday parties, Halloween parties, eye appointments, therapy appointments, school?? And will they arrive smelling decent? Will my husband still love me when I return? Will I remember to bring my mouth guard, my daughter's socks, a warm coat, will my clothes match, and will I not get lost on the way to the airport?

And this week as I try to calmly prepare, it seems that you are not anywhere to be found, God. I have tried to find quiet moments to talk to You, but I think I'm breathing too hard. I tried doing yoga at 5:30 this morning, but found myself instead doing 25 push-ups as hard as I could and then kicking that good ol punching bag until I collapsed. Not very enlightening, but thrilling!

You did not make this week easy. Two days ago the pet snake Corny was attacked by the cat. I had to make the decision to have him euthanized. Did you want me to be the type of person who would spend $700 to try to rehabilitate him, or the person who would be able to take a kitchen knife to the little guy and end his life quickly? Clearly, I am neither. I cried so hard when I saw him suffering. Three different vets have now lectured me about snake ownership. I am so irresponsible. Even if the cat did attack the snake after Grandpa was helping my 8-year-old feed it (and then forgot about the snake, leaving it on the floor.) You know I think it was all my fault, and everyone else does too.

And God, my very sensitive boy is turned inside out over the loss of Corny. He has asked me about 1,000 times when we are going to get the next corn snake. He is carrying Eddie the gecko everywhere,  hugging and kissing it. I am paranoid he might leave Eddie somewhere and the cats will have another treat.

But I'm leaving town, and I'm going to get organized this morning...

Except, you threw me another little curve ball. The teacher isn't coming today to teach my spinning boy. She, of course, is sick. And my boy is moving about 40 mph. Running around the house, dogs barking madly, cats skidding out of the way. I just turned on a video so that I could write to you since breathing and closing my eyes is not feeling possible. This feels much more productive.

All I can figure out to do now is to go shopping for a corn snake and pray that you take care of all of the rest. You always do.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Are You Watching?

Sorry to sound rude, but are you there this morning God?

I'm shaky. Droopy, tired. I haven't had enough to eat. I don't feel  happy. I need a shower. I have so much to do, but I have no idea where to start. So I'm writing. This helps.

When I'm flailing around, managing the chaos, like I was this morning, I wonder if you are watching. I wonder if you approve of the job I'm doing. Being a mom has felt like a climbing Mt. Everest today. With an 80 pound pack and no water.

You are my Father, so you must be watching out for me, right? I'm sorry to say this but I feel so isolated, like no one notices the floors I swept, the crap I shuffled around, the hair I brushed, the dishes scrubbed, the dogs fed. I'm not laughing today, not making jokes. Today feels heavy.

I know, I know, I'm supposed to have faith. I should know you are there. So could you please respond quickly?

Did you see the careful plan I made to get my hyperactive defiant child into the car? Did you see me smile at my children? Did you see how carefully I controlled my voice when the kids were screeching in response to my boy grabbing toys, throwing things, spilling things, running, shrieking, refusing to put on clothes, refusing to do anything-- out of control. You noticed how I felt-- right? My insides were bubbling, my chest was tight, air was stuck inside of my body, I wanted to run outside and keep running. I wanted to hit that punching bag on my patio really hard. I was not feeling good. Not good at all.

I smiled though as I drove my SUV into school. Even had a little lip gloss on. Moms driving by might have thought I had things all together. Ha! If only they knew.

Thank you God for helping me get my kids to school today. For their hugs despite the chaos. For their twinkling eyes and their smiles. Thank you for teachers with open ears, listening to my little ones thoughts, and making them feel loved. Thank you for sisters who chatter with me on the phone, centering my world, making it slow down. Thank you for husbands who write me love notes in the morning, confirming that the world is a good place.

I'm going for a run now. I'm going to run fast and far. I'll feel better.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Maybe You Listen to People Like Me

Lord, forgive me! I'm so sorry that I am not very eloquent with my prayers. I hath not the correct background to write thee. But word has it that you listen to people like me, anyway. In fact, I have heard that the more honest I am with you, the better. I hear you already know everything I'm thinking. Before I think it. Oh Lord, I'm in such big trouble!

As you know, today I don't feel particularly grateful. In fact, I wouldn't mind slipping right out of that sliding door by my bed right there and running off to have a nice time all by myself. Sipping wine under a tree. All day. Didn't Jesus do something like that? (Minus the wine.) You know I won't do it though. I'm not dressed right. So off I go, limping, hair in a tangle, into the kitchen to start the morning craziness. Getting everyone fed and ready for church.

In all honesty, Sundays are not a sabbath for me in any way! Forgive me. Sundays are a day when my husband and I start with the delusion of a day "off", but everything seems to be turned on-- HIGH. You know what I mean? Like I fantasize about sleeping in, soft, classical music playing, the smell of coffee tickling my nose. In my dreams, I saunter into the kitchen to eat waffles with whipped cream. I giggle on the phone as I chat with my sister. Or that best friend (Since having kids, I don't have any time for best friends...you know that Lord.) I dream of a Sunday morning just like the pictures I see on Facebook.

But Lord why do I hear kids shrieking as I duck below unidentifiable objects lobbed over my head? I spin around to catch a cat escaping through a door left ajar. My feet stick to the carrot juice someone half-drank, drizzled across the floor. My vacant face and pulsating head choke out a plea to "lower the voices, please." I attempt to focus on my sweet, large husband leaping around, eyebrows raised, trying to make sense of the chaos. Lord, can you please tell my children that I am in charge? I mean, after my husband of course.

Is it OK that I'm back in my bed, hiding underneath the pillow? Because I feel kind of guilty. I hear guilt is a sin. Damn.

Lord, even though this day hasn't started out in any way like I think it should have started-- not according to the parenting or marriage books, not like the movies or tv shows, not churchy (remember how that pastor told me I should be?), and not at all like the Facebook posts (sorry to be repetitive.) Could you show me what to do? Because I think you are pretty amazing, and I love my kids and my husband in a way that hurts. Often. I would never want to do this day without them. Plus I live in Marin... God, why in the world would you put a sinner like me in Marin? You know I know I don't deserve any of this.

Now that I have had a moment, I feel like I could do almost anything today. Lets go! Oh I get it, you are trying to make me laugh. And admit that I am in need of you, Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Lord, Let Us Eat Chocolate This Morning

This is a day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice in it and be very, very grateful. Let us eat chocolate in the morning and have cereal and no fruit-- on this glorious day who needs the five grain flax chia oatmeal with berries and smoothies eaten while reading nifty new Halloween story. Lets have cereal. In front of the TV.

And Lord, let us not worry about getting our kids to brush their teeth. Just for today. No one will notice. Let us forgo brushing hair, celebrate mismatched socks (or no socks?) and milk mustaches.  Let the missing backpacks and homework stay where they may and let us not worry about unmade beds or rooms covered with legos before 7:00AM.

Lord, the cats will be OK eating food off the counter, won’t they? They look pleased. And the snake, six bullfrog larvae, and lizard can wait to eat until tomorrow. Lord, I love nature. Can dogs eat cereal too?

And forgive me Lord for my sagging eyes, but I’m not going to cover them up this morning. Well maybe just sunglasses.  But no shower for me! Too much to do, and I am proud of my body.

My house looks pretty bad, Lord. But I’m grateful for it.  Laundry baskets everywhere, dirty socks in random places. Dog hair lining the stairs. Counters covered with crumbs. The reptile cages and cat litter boxes need a cleaning. But I will still rejoice. I will!

Lord, let me be real. Help me make it very clear, through my words and my appearance, that I am a mom who does not have it all together. Because clearly I do not. And Lord, I hope this helps some other mom out there-- rejoice!

On this day, Lord, and for your sake, lets not ride bikes to school. No no. We will take the SUV. And we will be late.  

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Do Less, Give More

Last night I was tossing and turning at my usual 2AM time. My sweaty head vibrated as pictures bounced around flashing misplaced keys, scissors and socks; sports, play dates, school pick-up times crashing and overlapping; volunteer commitments incomplete, thank-you cards overdue, phone calls and emails I had forgotten. I felt so behind. My chest tightened, and I fought off the urge to leap out of bed and attack all my tasks. I sucked in air trying to imitate the deep, deep breaths I have seen others taking, but the chaotic images were still there. And I just felt more dizzy. Dosing off two hours later, after taking three different homeopathic sleep remedies, a big glass of CALM, and a small chip off of a sleeping pill, I wondered-- what am I DOING?

I mean, what am I really doing? Well, I know, I'm taking care of my kids. I have figured out that motherhood is significant -- on my clear-headed days I feel like I don't need a medal or a paycheck. I can see my work in my kids' healthy growing bodies. My payment arrives every time I watch one of my children overcome an obstacle. A simple smile or hug from any one of them can make me feel like a Very Important Person for the day. Motherhood is cool.

But I'm thinking that the greatest gift I could give my kids is not simply my love, but the demonstration that I love many people, many children-- not just them.

Some friends tell me I just need to focus on taking care of my family. Don't worry about the rest of the world. They say I have the ultimate excuse-- I am very, very busy with three young children, one home schooled. Heck, I'm barely keeping it together, so what do I have left to give? But sometimes I wonder if my worries are an indulgent distraction from what God wants for me-- to give more, do less. I wonder if I really need to worry about whether my house looks good for the next play date, if my children need that box of organic raspberries from the grocery store NOW, if it matters if my oldest guy is late (or even misses?) swimming this week, if my middle one absolutely needs to be practicing one more instrument...

This month my goal is to AX that growing, spiraling, controlling list of mine. Do less, give more. Here is a start:
1) DON'T sweep the floor today, DO call my friend who is feeling lonely.
2) DON'T get those extra five items at the grocery store, DO (genuinely and slowly) talk with the person in line next to me and the check-out lady too.
3) DON'T organize the kids rooms, DO spend extra time talking with my husband about his job.
4) DON'T make the counter sparkle and look uncluttered, DO spend time organizing volunteers to serve needy families.
5) DON'T make that extra, optional trip to the grocery store, DO stop and talk to an elderly neighbor or someone new at my kids' school.
6) DON'T buy new clothes for my kids this month, DO buy food for a family who is in need.
7) DON'T schedule another kids' class, DO find time to invite a kid over to play who might be feeling left-out at school.
8) DON'T cook something fancy, DO call a friend or family to come over and share a meal-- anyway.
9) DON'T clean the dishes until later in the day, DO find a way to thank that person I saw put her heart into a service project for our community.
10) DON'T spend time worrying about why I can't do life better, prettier, cleaner, faster, smarter. DO spend time thanking God for how much he has given me to give. To give more.