Sunday, June 27, 2010

Momma Weary

6:20 am and it starts again. "Momma, what's for breakfast?" "Momma, I can't find the remote!" "Momma there is a fly in the kitchen!" "MMMMMOOOOOOMMMMM! I CAN'T FIND MY FLIP FLOPS!" "Momma, can you put my flipflops on?" "Hey, Mom, can I have another snack?" "Look, mom, I have ten fingers!" "Momma, I know how to spell McDonalds. M....O....M. There. I did it." "HEY! Where are you, Momma?" Couple the "Momma" with "Can I help" and "No. I don't want to," by the time 9:00 pm finally arrives, my patience pool is dry. I love being a momma again, but I am a little momma weary. So I cope. I find I linger in the bathroom just a little longer, secretly walk to the chicken coop a little more often, and hope Bob will get home a little sooner.

Take a Leap of Faith!

Take a Leap of Faith!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Never Waste a Crisis

TJ bounded through the back door, throwing her school papers and notes on the kitchen bench. I dreaded telling her she would miss her swim test today and would not be able to sail down the long, curly, blue water slide. "Momma! I'm home!" I cringed at the thought of the conversation we were about to have. Having rehearsed it for the past two hours, I felt well prepared. Her radar honed in on my exact location. "I'm ready for my swim test!" I girded myself. "I'm sorry TJ, but we won't be able to go today, but you..." "NO!" crossing her arms, stomping the floor, and screaming, "You said I could go down the slide today! I DON'T WANT TO STAY HOME!" Hmmmm, I thought, I could pass this off on Bob and he can deal with the fallout. "Maybe you could ask Daddy if he will take you when he gets home." But, thinking again, this would be a good life lesson for her. It's not all about TJ and what she wants when she wants it. Life is full of disappointments, cope. That was really the best option. Never waste a good crisis! I really was prepared for everything . . . except this: TJ bounded through the back door, throwing her school papers and notes on the kitchen bench. "Momma! I'm home! I"m ready for my swim test!" I"m sorry TJ,but we can't go today, but you can take your test on Monday." "Oh. OK." She found the remote, threw herself into the green overstuffed chair and began watching 'iCarly.' Another crisis skillfully averted.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Six Legs

It was nice for a change; TJ came home from school excited about going to her swim lessons. Jordan, my 3 1/2 yr old granddaughter, was joining us at lessons and then for a short swim afterward. TJ was excited to show off her new skills, but she had one warning for Jordan, who only stands to her shoulders: "You can't go out in the deep end, Jordan, because it is six legs deep."

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Is That MY Reflection?

I stood in front of the sink staring at myself in the bathroom mirror. Dressed in my pjs, gray hair pulled back in a stubby ponytail, I loaded my toothbrush with a pea-sized dot of tooth paste and looked over. TJ, to my left, loaded her toothbrush with a small dot of toothpaste. I put the toothbrush in my mouth and powered on. I watched the bulge in my check move in circles, side to side, and up and down. To my left I was surprised to see TJ looking up at me with her toothbrush in the side of her mouth moving in circles, going side to side, and up and down. I moved to my front teeth. TJ moved to her front teeth. Again, circles, sideways, and up and down and again, she followed. She continued this parroting for two minutes. I spit, she spit. I rinsed off the tooth brush and she followed. We put our toothbrushes and paste back in their respective places. I cupped my hand under the running water, took a sip and spit again. "How'd you do that, mom?" "I put the cap on the toothpaste and dropped in here, then . . ."NO!" I was interrupted. "No. How'd you do THAT?" It took a minute before I understood that she wanted to know how to cup her hand, catch the water and drink. She had been mirroring every move I made. *I wonder what else she will mirror. Will she reflect my generousity or my selfishness? my piety or my sin? My prayer, is that above all things, she will become my love of God and mirror Him.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Circle of Four

"Momma! Dad!" Anna ran down the hall of East-West Middle School with arms open wide. She latched onto Bob with fervor, putting her head against his chest, "I'm so glad you're here!" I was next for the squeeze, rocking me back and forth, "You really came!" Once unhooked, we followed her into the cafeteria where clusters of parents stood with their blue-shirted children, laughing, hugging, and telling tales. In the midst of all the reunions we formed our own little circle of four. "Anna," I said, "TJ doesn't think your're coming home." This concern of TJ's caused her a lot of anxiety. She had heard of other children being with us and her own half sister left for school one day and never came back. Was this going to happen to Anna, too? "OOOOHHHH," Anna cooed, "I'm definitely going back home. I miss you! . . . but I won't be home until Saturday evening. Is that OK?" "That's OK, but..." and then TJ launched into a litany of things Anna has missed and she deemed important - how to feed Big Dog his Milk Bone, but the little ones don't like them, and her elephant puppet she made at school is purple, and momma's jelly is runny . . . on and on she went, but no one was listening. The evening rambled on with a pot luck dinner provided by the local Methodist churches, praise songs led by blue shirts, and a slide show of all the homes the groups are working on. Finally, an introduction of all the participants and I wondered if it bothered Anna that she was the only African American on the team. The presentation ended and Anna walked us out to the car. We said our good byes and hugged one last time and Anna smiled. "I want to come back next year." I smiled, too.

Monday, June 14, 2010

God, Where Were You?

God, where were You? Anna was such a small, frail little girl when that loathsome man began his horrific secret life. Where were You when he slithered into her bed and her tears slipped quietly from her eyes. Where were You when she trembled in nightly fear at every creak and feigned step. Her nights turned into years of nights and her tears dried up; rebellion, distrust, and anger replaced them. What were You doing for those seven years before finally moving her into a safer place? I will not presume to know Your mind. I am not God. I don't understand. But I do know this: I trust you beyond reason. Anna now has a home where she feels safe and is trusting again. She is loved the way a daughter should be loved. While she is on her mission trip heal her - every little bit of her. Make her whole and make her Yours. In Your holy name. Amen

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Anna's Anxiety

Anna's excitement has morphed into anxiety. She has been packing her bags for three days, preparing for her first missions trip . . . 30 miles away. Two and a half weeks ago one of her caseworkers asked if she would like to help repair homes in our county. Anna's face broadened and brightened. Before asking any questions, she committed a week of her summer staying in middle school classrooms with over 100 other local teens.

In her enthusiam she began listing 'must haves'. Her primitive excusion required a myriad of hair products, a flat iron, make up, moisturizer, and a variety of fragrances. It wasn't until the final few hours did she realize bug spray, sun screen, and a sleeping bag might be desirable.

Now, just hours before she leaves, anxiety has blossomed. Anna is concerned we may eat something fun, run out to McDonalds, enjoy a family game night, or - who knows - we may brave the thorns and pick blackberries, all without her. Already missing the dogs and cats in her bed and TJ's constant playfulness, Anna is sullen and shaken. Her seven days away from home are not looking like so much fun now.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Blind-sided, bush wacked, sucker-punched.

Another call came unexpectedly late Tuesday night. The news made me want to vomit. After two failed visits with TJ's biological mother, one more had been scheduled for the next morning at 10:00. The only other visit had a devasting effect on TJ. She began wetting herself, became beligerant, defiant, argumentative, disruptive in school, and hit and pinched other students. Just a week before that visit she received the Star Student Award in her school. The two weeks following the initial 'appointment' were dreadful. TJ's behavior was so horrid that Bob and I found ourselves out of patience within a few hours; one of us would hide in the bedroom and recouperate while the other spent time being bombarded by her insults and disrespect. It took weeks before we had our sweet Tj back.

Now the news of another meeting.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

First Swim Lesson

Seven 4 and 5 year olds sat at the shallow end of the olympic size pool, gangly legs dangling in the water. The instructor securely put her hands around the waist of a waif of a girl and gently lifted her into the water. Her eyes and mouth widened and she squealed a high pitched "Ohhhh." Her small hands began grabbing and scratching at the instructor's hair, nose, ear lobes - anything that she might latch onto to safely pull herself out of the water. Next, a marshmallow faced boy, sure of his expert swimming skills, lunged himself into the water and directly sank to the bottom of the pool. Calmly, the instructor grasped his underarms and raised him back to the surface his grin broadly covering his puffy face. TJ, confident after watching the first two children, permitted the instructer to guide her by her waist into the water and gently sway her back and forth so as not to traumatize her. Suddenly - a mother's voice echoed over the pool, "She can swim! She's great at the doggy paddle!". All eyes turned to me, 'Another pushy mom'. TJ, unsure of whose directions to follow, flashed me a confused look. "TJ. Show her. Show her you can swim!" The instructor reluctanly let go of her waist and TJ of the instructors neck, and off she splashed. With her finger extended toward the deep end of the pool, the instructor said "OK. That class down there." TJ beamed with the knowledge that she had just been promoted to the mid-level beginners class. * TBC...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Mom's Wisdom

My daughter to my mother: "The Dr. told me that J's (her 12 month old son)banging his head against the wall is normal. He said 20% of boys do it." My mother to my daughter: "I wonder how many mothers do that."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Living in LALA Land

Anna stood on the back porch peering down at TJ in the pool and me, gliding on the swing. "I'm home, Momma," she yelled, her smile, evaporating every cloud. Plopping down next to me and sending the swing into convulsions, she told of the great fun she had at school: her teachers love her, she has made wonderful friends, and she believes her grades are coming up. "I can't wait until next year! I'm going to be a SOPHOMORE!" I tried to sound cheery. "Yeah. It's too bad you will be a sophomore in the 9th grade." She widens her eyes, shakes her head back and forth, as if that will change the reality. Anna, Bob, and I have been having this same conversation since her first progress report in October. 'You're in high school now. You pass or fail by the class not by grade level. You fail the class, you repeat the class." After each conversation she constructed a plan of 'gonna do's'. 'I'm gonna study for my tests. I'm gonna pay attention in class. I'm gonna keep up with my homework. I'm gonna ask for help. I'm gonna stay organized.' All her gonna's became 'was gonna do' and eventually became 'didn't do.' Here we are at the end of her first year of high school and Anna has failed all her core subjects AND ART! In the past she has not had to struggle with any of her failures. She has a broad smile, a warm heart, and an even temperament - most of the time. Everyone who meets her loves her and believes if she just had a break she would soar. And breaks she had. Now, her LALA Land living has to come to an end . . . or so I would think. But, no. She still believes her teachers are going to pass her because she is so wonderful. Her bubble won't burst until the first day of her 2nd freshmen year.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

F-5 on the ground...continued

Having picked the little silver slivers out of the carpet, I tucked myself back into bed once again. I heard TJ coming and going from my bedroom, the TV murmuring in the background, her giving instructions to imaginary friends and then quiet. A few minutes later, still quiet. Then the pat pat pat of bare feet from the living room to the kitchen, running water . . . quiet. I fell back into a fevered sleep and when I awoke . . . still quiet. Once again I roused myself and shuffled into the kitchen. "TJ," I called quietly. "What Momma." Very controlled and very quietly I asked, "What have you been doing?" Blue water pooled my kitchen and a trail of splashes led through the dining room into the living room. Her child sized chair pulled up to the counter gave her ample height to fill the round, plastic container of blue water that sat precipitously on the edge of the counter. Wads of fading blue paper drowned and settled to the bottom. I made my way into the living room to see TJ sitting at her small table intently covering a torn piece of paper with a blue marker. "Well, Momma, I am tie dying and this is how you do it. Now watch and learn. . . " I wasn't listening. When she began her lesson I went directly to prayer. "God I am sick and tired. I have no help today. Tj is into everything and won't sit and watch TV like other children. I am out of patience; there is nothing left in me and the day is not half over. I am too old to parent a five year old, even when I am healthy." "Follow me," TJ instructed and she led me to the kitchen counter. I felt the voice of God. "I never said it was going to be a convenient ministry, Love (yes, God calls me Love). Ministry is messy and sacrificial. You were messy and look what I did with you!" I believe I heard Him chuckle. I looked at TJ who was looking at me waiting to hear what a wonderful thing she had done. Blue circled her lips, dripped out of her nose, and speckled her new white shirt. She was a mess; I was a mess and we were in the middle of a three room mess. . . and God said He could do something with this. I reprimanded TJ and together she and I cleaned up. There were two more of these incidents before the sun finally gave up on the day. I put her to bed, none too early for me, and I crawled back to mine and cried.