Saturday, July 30, 2011

Big E!

Little pre-run intimidation.
Getting warmed-up.

Showing off the guns.

And yes, he does look like me.
Ethan starts school next week. All thirty three pounds of him. I'm not all mushy gushy teary eyed. That's not the relationship I have with Ethan (we'll see how Monday morning goes...). I'm just proud of the firecracker. He's going to take this world by the horns and they are not going to know what hit it, exactly what he did to me five and a half years ago.
I had Ethan at home, a home birth. It was the beginning of a new life for me, one that started out so nice and clean and cozy.  I loved being pregnant, loved setting up the nursery, hanging the perfect, unused clothes in the closet by size so I could stare at them and imagine how perfect life was going to be after the baby came. How perfect of a mother I was going to be. The perfect life I would give my child, who at that time I didn't even know was male or female.
The first time I felt any real labor pain I was opening the fridge to get something for my midwife to eat. She was hungry. I remember trying to cover it up, trying to not let the electrifying pain surrounding my abdomen and shooting down my legs show on my face. In my head, though, was the truth: what the hell? Up until that point I was in denial. None of this was supposed to be painful. I had always been spared. I don't get pain, I don't get real consequences. I dodge them, live in denial until they go away. Despite what your life may look like,  my life was supposed to be easy, painless.
For nine months I anticipated my labor. I planned for pain theoretically. But deep down I was in denial that any of this would ever cause any pain, but of course it did. Motherhood has caused me excruciating pain. But it has also caused so much growth. So much realness.
This is how my labor was supposed to go: I'd be a perfect hostess and eventually we'd all be sitting around munching on olives and I'd say it was time and push out a perfect little baby.  And then what? I hadn't thought that far ahead. Probably sleep.
The pain did come though, of course. And after what I can honestly say was the worse night of my life (labor is a B. end of story) Ethan Lear made his way into this world. His name means strong, firm. It fits his demeanor exactly.
He's been strong and firm right from the beginning. He's outgoing and imaginative. He's assertive and displays very natural leadership qualities (which his mother has to counteract every second of everyday). He can be maddeningly bumptious (if you don't know what that means, go look it up. It's a wonderful word to describe your children ages 2-5).  He is also incredibly loving and cuddlable, on a good day.
And when I think about him starting kindergarten, starting the rest of his life, I'm proud of him, excited for him. Whatever he wants, he will conquer it.
Last night we ran in the Moonlight Madness Race at Rancho San Rafael. It was mostly for Ethan; he's been dying to run in his first race. Joey ran with him and although I couldn't see them (I had to stay back with the stroller and Noah) Joey said he started out like a bat outta you know where until he realized the finish line was not right in front of him.  He realized he'd have to slow down and keep a steady pace, and take walk breaks when he needed them.  I was worried about a full-on break down but overall he ran really well and finished strong. Just like he'll do for the whole rest of his life:  take a couple of walk breaks when  needed,  but overall he'll finish strong. I'm sure of it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Listening to God's Grace Rustling in the Aspens' Leaves.

So after a sweet time at church today Ethan got up from his nap and we went outside and had lime popsicles together. Ethan decided they taste like 7-Up, one of his favorite sodas. I agreed.
We sat on the side of the house in the only shade available at this time of day. It's just a small bit of shade provided by the house, but in this heat you need it, otherwise you feel like your skin is melting off your body, like the lime popsicles sliding off our sticks.
As I sat over there I couldn't help but listen to the lone aspen on that side of the house, it's leaves rustling in the gentle breeze. Sounds like a waterfall.
I love aspens. I have six of them at my house, two of which were successful transplants from Graeagle (I mention the "successful" part because we tried so many that didn't make it). This particular aspen on the side of the house was actually a left over; the mother tree had died, but when I went to pull it up, I noticed a lone branch, no bigger than a stick the boys would use as a sword in an outside game, sticking out near the bottom of the trunk. For some reason it still had give to it unlike the rest of the tree which was dry and would crack off if you tried to bend it.
I pulled up the rest of the tree but I left the branch at the bottom. It was growing sideways so I stuck a rock near it's side to make it stand straight up. There was no hope of it ever surviving but at least until it died its natural death it would be straight; at that point in my life I just couldn't put a live branch in the trash can. Seemed wasteful. I'd let it die naturally and then throw it out.
Here's the thing; it didn't die. Ever. It's now one of the most healthy aspens I have ever seen. It's big and bushy and beautiful. That stick in five years has grown into one of our biggest trees on the lot.
There is no rhyme or reason. There was no toil on my part, unlike the work I had put into the many trees before it that didn't make it.
And whenever I look at this particular aspen I hear God's grace rustling in it's leaves, telling me to rest and stop worrying so much. Telling me that no matter how much I plan and prepare and seek advice and do everything  possible a human can do to make good decisions, God's will will be done.
He holds me, he cares for me, he loves me. He knows what trees will grow and what trees will die. So today I am trying to tell my little heart to listen to the shhhhh shhhh shhhh of the leaves, of God's heart toward me.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Maybe Jesus Had Eyes Like Tahoe.

I have the urge to write. That means there is stirring in my soul, conflict, unresolved items floating around, waiting to be sorted out, answered, somehow.
We have been taking advantage of these hot July weekends. We made it up to Sand Harbor again yesterday. That lake is so damn beautiful  you have to let your worries go when you look at it's clear, unbelievably turquoise waters, when you hear it's cold waves landing on the sand. How can you not? It's beauty is overwhelming and leaves no room for worries.
But then of course we drove back down the mountain.
And then, today in church, the song we sang in worship, 'Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face (what the does Jesus look like? He must be beautiful, maybe his eyes are like Tahoe), and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace'.
The things of this earth: mortgages, the housing market, pay cuts.
They can all seem so overwhelming.  I can't just FORGET about them. They exist and are as real as the skin on my bones;  it is our roof and our food and our livelihood. Our life. Yet, somewhere in the midst of all those gnawing details there is beautiful truth I can be overwhelmed with, Jesus and his beauty and eternalness, and still be a good steward and responsible little human, wrestling with the choices we have to make down here on earth.
I haven't figured out how to live the paradox. But at least I know it exists. That's as good as it gets right now.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Hardest Thing.

The truth of the matter is I have everything I've ever dreamed of and I still feel like shit tonight. I have the self esteem of a broken eggshell that just got crushed by an old brown boot.
I have a (two!) jobs I love, I have the best husband in the world for me, I have two adorable healthy boys, I'm not an ugly betty (although I have the confidence of one) and yet tonight I really am feeling low.
I don't get a ton of time with my boys and tonight was going alright until number one decided to play games with his mama's mind at nine PM. By nine PM I am done. I can handle getting off my second job at seven PM, after leaving the house twelve hours earlier to start our day, grabbing my two starving monkeys and driving the thirty minutes it takes to get to our humble abode. I can handle making dinner in chaos, Noah hanging off my right leg, Ethan's non-stop chattering asking me to look! play! watch! see!, all of our tummies growling. I can handle two bed time routines done by yours truly, the fifteen minutes it takes to change Noah's diaper because he somehow manages to wiggle away from me as I try with dainty fingers not to get poop all over myself or the floor, brushing his toddler teeth as he screams like someone is trying to circumcise him sans anesthesia. I can handle falling asleep in the rocking chair as I sing Noah song after song, even though it won't matter: one or twenty, he still wails when I shut the door to say goodnight. I can manage playing "flip up" with Ethan (his favorite 'wrestle' game before bedtime) even though I know it gets him all riled up instead of calming him down. I can manage tickling his back and singing him songs (again, even though it is never enough and he wines for more every. single. night.) but when I walk out his door at nine PM or so, I am done.
And this is when he decides to play games.
He'll say he has a question, or has to poop, or has an emergency, like he found a bugger on his blankie.
I can handle one or two after tuck-in interruptions, but by three I hear a voice coming out of my mouth I don't recognize, and I can only imagine what I look and sound like to him.
There's so many things going into play here.
Number one, he's not obeying. I clearly laid out the rules that when I walk out his door, there is no more talking.
Number two, my confidence as a mother, leading, guiding. I suck at it! I think the worst thing I did ever in my whole life was read parenting help books. Or maybe I need to read more of them. At any rate, I never feel like what I am doing is right unless I can step back and tell myself, "You're doing OK honey. You're voice was a little rough there, but at least he's safe and has a bed and jammies and dinner."
Tonight, after three horrible back and forths with him, I finally just shut his door. Pissed as I was, I knew I couldn't control him. He's only five, and you think you could. But I already see he's on his own, him and the world and God. And I have to be ok with that as a mother, as a person. He'll do things in life I don't agree with. He'll disrespect me.  And somewhere I have to let it go, have the grace to not let my heart harden and hate him.
I've read enough parenting books to know that is a no no.
And I can't live like that anyways. He's my baby boy and now he's in there sleeping with his mouth open, his tiny little legs sticking out of his super hero undies.
This parenting thing is the hardest thing. That's all.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Winning the Big One.

That was the best forth of July since I was a little girl rolling down the lawn at my rich uncle's house. Me and Joey met the boys, my parents, and a whole crew of extended family and friends up at Graeagle. We spent the day at the millpond, relaxing in the hot sun,getting out legs wet up to our knees in the the icy water to cool off, and floating around in circles on floaties. We played my favorite game of all times: water wiffle ball. If you want to have a good time, and forget about what your rear looks like in your bather (ok, that never is going to happen but it at least takes your mind off of it for a bit) and actually get it in the water like you used to before the mascara/hair/wussieness set in from growing up, wrap a wiffle bat with duct tape. Grab some tennis balls and  get at least three people. Batter stands in the water up to their ankles, pitcher is up to their knees or so, and the outfielder gets ready to swim for balls. I love this game, hearing the balls pop as I  whack them  high the air,  watching them splash into the water, and then eventually having to swim out to help retrieve them. It's the only thing that makes me get in the water and swim and I love it.
The boys were fantastic, and by that I mean the day seemed normal: not crazy, not messed up, not frustrating. It went like you think a fourth of July should go. I think that has to do with two things mostly: numero uno, my kids are growing up. Ethan is very self sufficient and I don't have to worry about him killing himself if I lose track of him for two minutes. And although I still have to worry about that with Noah, he's still old enough to enjoy the water. Plus with all the help from everyone who thinks the little guy is just too cute to resist (or they are just being merciful to me), the day went incredibly smoothly. **note to self: when you're old and have nothing better to do feed some poor frazzled mama's two year old dinner for her so she can sit and talk and drink a beer, and maybe even eat a hot hamburger. I love gracious souls who do this for me. I feel indebted to them with my life, and would, in fact, step in front of a bullet for them if it came down to that.
I think the best part of all of this, besides my children not have meltdowns, besides spending the day with Daelynn and her family, besides just being in Graeagle with it's tall dark trees against the sky melting into dusk, was having Joey there with me.
We've spent so many holidays and family gatherings apart that having him there with me is like the difference going on a week long tropical vacation with your favorite person or going alone; or it's like winning the lottery or going bankrupt. With him there I feel like I've won something big, like the World Series. Without him there I feel like I've lost.
We were told that his job would do this. That it would be "hard on the family". When you're young, or at least when I was young, I took so much for granted, especially time. Saturdays, Sundays, evenings, weekends. I thought it would be no big deal to give those up for other times together (why should it matter?) but for whatever reason that I can't explain it does. It matters to have Joey there when everyone else is celebrating.
And yesterday he was (ironically it wasn't even the forth but in Graeagle they celebrate early, which worked out fabulous for us because in real life Joey works tonight and tomorrow).
So yesterday, due to a stroke of luck, Graeagle deciding they celebrate the fourth on the second, and grace, we won big.
Happy  (pre) Fourth.