Thursday, December 18, 2014

First Semester and All is Well That Ends Well

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We are getting the college student back from her first semester abroad in the wilds of Tucson, AZ.

She got some good grades, bought some life experiences, joyfully declared her major and is ecstatically confident about the choice to be a Rehabilitation major working directly with the special needs students beginning in January. She has found time to dance on her own, take yoga, and break more than one heart. She has even survived a few crippling life events that have occurred here at home in her absence. For this first semester all is ending well with high hopes for the future. There is relief in my soul. I'm not done worrying about my girl, but she doesn't need to know that. Yet.

She might need to know just how ridiculously proud of her I continue to be. Oh, I hope I remember to tell her.

Here's a follow-up to the text questions never sent in the post " It's Been Five Days Since You Left for College and We're Still Here, But You're Not and It Is So Quiet"

Texts that would like to be sent:

Do you like your roommate?'s probably better that you don't know anymore than, well....
Did you finish hanging up your pictures? Yes!
Have you made anyone laugh? Too much! Mostly from my innocent mistakes.
Are my favorite shoes having a good time in college? Way too much. Seriously. Too much.

Have you looked at the 52 page photo/quote album I made you and left for you to easily find the moment I returned to your childhood home and left you in the wilds of a college dorm? Yes. :)
Have you read any of Dad's "Phils-osphy" book? All the time. I love it.
Are you flossing? No....

What's the bathroom like? Dropped my iPhone in the shower, had to buy a replacement with the emergency fund that was gifted with the words "This is the money to use when you have emergencies you don't want to tell your parents about"... Mom questions: "Is the shower a good place for a phone to be? Why did you bring it into the shower? Is it a safety reason? Or were you planning on doing a little communicating during the conditioner phase of hair care?"

I guess technically they're your shoes, even though I paid for them. I miss them.

Are you always with another person when you walk on campus at night? NO?????
Are you carrying your mace? The only right answer to this is, yes.

You should see your bedroom here. You actually do have carpeting. I just vacuumed it. Please let it stay visible while you are here.

I miss you.

Your replacement, Chewiethedog, keeps stealing your Minnie Mouse slippers and your Minion. Chewiethedog is coming with me to pick you up today!!!!!

Your Dad wants to keep your bedroom door closed. Well, now we have to keep it closed so the cat won't pee on your bed. Surely is a little mad that you are gone...too.

Did you apply for a job yet? Sigh.
Do you miss home? A resounding yes!
Are you sleeping enough? Actually it seems so.

How often have you gone to Starbucks? It might be time to purchase some stock in this company.

Your sister misses you terribly. :(

It is so quiet. Deafeningly quiet.

The mayonnaise and ranch dressing are taking up too much space and remain unappreciated in the fridge. I wouldn't have either of these things at this point. They need to be tested for icky-ness.

I'm considering moving. Yup. Still.

What are you reading in English? Have you written anything yet? An A in English???? Good news.

Please. Stay. Strong. ??

How many parties have you been to? Any of them Campus Crusade for Christ? Sigh.

Are you scared? Sometimes.
Are you free and happy? Sometimes.
Excited for your potential to be exposed? Sometimes.
Frightened you don't have any? Sometimes.
You do. BTW. Yup.

Please don't lend the pretty shoes to your roommate. I'd like them to visit someday. Soon. Shoes had better be packed to come home for the holidays. I have an event in which I'd like them to accompany me.

Do you want to stay? She wants to stay in college and come home for Christmas. All is good.

This marks the end of the texting questions.

I would like to point out that yet again, everything I worry about, causes every bad thing not to happen.

But, I'm worn around the edges because of it. This Christmas I deeply wish and pray to look at the facts right in front of me as living proof that we will all be alright, and to trust the Lord for the outcomes in the rest of our adventures. Oh goodness. We will be altogether in our beautiful home, that is lit with so many twinkling lights we could guide planes to safe landings, and life will be back to it's chaotic sweetness. All is well.

And I vow to enjoy the full family in our midst.

On a side note:

Here's a link to a pretty fun video from SNL about daughters coming home from college. Do not watch it if language is offensive to you. Language is offensive to me, however, this was sooo true!!

Honestly, do not watch it if you are sensitive to crassness...and other ,you know, harsh stuff.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Wanna Have Lunch?

Food for the comfort of the mother's soul.
Just a little follow up to my previous post.

Broke down and called the-daughter-who-has-now-had-five-days-of-college-life. "Are you coming home for the weekend?"

"I don't think so."

"Wanna have lunch then? I'll come there?"


And off we drove - the parents, the little sister, the grandma. It's only an hour and a half away to us, it's a world away for her.

She LOVES everything about this new world. She is literally and figuratively having the time of her life.

But, again, how not to worry? Because if I don't worry, if I just let her go without a thought about her safety or her intellectual curiosity or her determination or her, well this list just goes on and on and on, if i don't think of every bad thing that could come her way, then I am a bad mother. If I worry about everything - then nothing bad will find her. I know this from experience - everything I worry about, never happens.

That's all. Lunch and grocery shopping with Olaf (he didn't follow her home). We discovered she has already become quite popular, she is wearing the pretty, pretty shoes out - a lot. She swears she is staying strong. I believe her.

I remain vigilant on the home front armed with nothing but the innate ability to worry her into a safe existence. That whole "let go and let God" thing is merely a suggestion. 

I'm workin on it.

Yes, Grandma, I'll get a flu shot

Shopping with Olaf and she is wearing the pretty shoes.
They've been having a blast.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It's Been Five Days Since You Left for College and We're Still Here, But You're Not and It Is So Quiet

Follow my blog with Bloglovin 18-year-old daughter moved out last Thursday...The daughter who graduated with high honors and was voted "Best Personality" of her senior class. The first child. The test kid. The experiment in parenting. The first heart to leave the house for longer than just a week away in L.A.

You know - the moment I've waited impatiently for through 18 years of living with the "best personality." The unexpected moment of such overwhelming grief and pride and insecurity that...was just more than a little surprising in it's intensity. I am happy for her adventure. I am thrilled she got in to a good school. I am haunted by the mistakes I made along the way. Sincerely and truly. It was the sobbing, mascara stained, sisters clinging to childhood, that my hand to God, stopped our existing world.

Give her space. Don't call. Don't text.

But, if I don't contact her how will I will she will we go on?

Texts that would like to be sent:

Do you like your roommate?
Did you finish hanging up your pictures?
Have you made anyone laugh?
Are my favorite shoes having a good time in college?
Have you looked at the 52 page photo/quote album I made you and left for you to easily find the moment I returned to your childhood home and left you in the wilds of a college dorm?
Have you read any of Dad's "Phils-osphy" book?
Are you flossing?
What's the bathroom like?
I guess technically they're your shoes, even though I paid for them.
Are you always with another person when you walk on campus at night?
Good night.
Are you carrying your mace?
Good morning.
You should see your bedroom here. You actually do have carpeting.
I miss you.
Can I come down for lunch on Friday?
Or dinner?
Have you thought about coming home this weekend?
They're just such pretty shoes.
Your replacement, Chewiethedog, keeps stealing your Minnie Mouse slippers and your Minion.
Your Dad wants to keep your bedroom door closed.
I won't let him.
I love seeing the carpet...
Did you apply for a job yet?
Are you getting all of your books? Legally?
Do you miss home?
Are you sleeping enough?
How often have you gone to Starbucks?
Your sister misses you terribly.
It is so quiet.
The mayonnaise and ranch dressing are taking up too much space and remain unappreciated in the fridge.
I'm considering moving.
What are your teachers names and do you think you can hang in the university collective of intellectuals?
What are you reading in English? Have you written anything yet?
Please. Stay. Strong.
How many parties have you been to? Any of them Campus Crusade for Christ?
Are you scared?
Are you free and happy?
Excited for your potential to be exposed?
Frightened you don't have any?
You do. BTW.
Please don't lend the pretty shoes to your roommate. I'd like them to visit someday. Soon.
Do you want to stay?

What I actually text after letting an agonizing 24 hours pass:

Get vitamins when you go to Target.

That's it. Well, more followed, in yet another 24 hours that felt like 3 weeks, but the vitamins seemed to be the least....overly-protective.

Now, let go. And let God.


It is so quiet.

(She likes her roommate, all books purchased legally, she looked at the photo album I made her, she had a sandwich today. That's all I know as of now.) 

(I'm going to try to not go see her tomorrow.)

(Hoping to hear good news that the pretty shoes are having a wonderful time. Quietly in her closet.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

To Talia on Her 17th Birthday

While on vacation in California this July, I received a text from the youngest daughter, Talia, announcing that a dog had been rescued and was living with the two teenage daughters currently at home alone. In this text from the youngest daughter was a long list of why said dog should stay. Mainly, she stressed that this dog would be the blonde replacement for the blonde older sister, Hannah, who was leaving for college in two weeks. This sentence was followed with: "Please tell Dad."

I gave her 10 days to potty train this dog. (I wanted to name her Mary Murphy, but was told that she was not my dog.) 

10 days have come and gone. She is not entirely potty trained. But...well, here we are:

Talia the Rescuer

Sherman, the 13-year-old cat in the shelter for six months
came home with a tearful 13-year-old daughter.
6 months after Sherman, the 14-year-old cat died,
 there was Shelly, the 12-year-old cat in kidney failure

2 months after Shelly passed,
Surely, a 4-year-old obese fluff ball came home too.
Surely- the *%#!@ 
She's a cat too.
She's not very nice.
Her full name is Surely You Didn't Just Call Me Surely.
It fits.

well, yeah, maybe, I brought all of these animals home.
But, I brought them home for Talia. Who wanted them.
I swear.

And then there's
Talia rescues me when I'm a sobbing, pitiful failure
By raising herself out of her teenage self to encourage.
She always knows how point out that I am not as pitiful as I think.

But mostly,
there's Chewie.

A matted,
Tossed around,
Not yet a dog when found frantically trying to get out of a lake.
But now,
 Chewie is the sweet rescuer of the perpetually sad Talia,
Snickers, the 13-year-old first pet dog who is romping again
Surely, who is less of a *%#!@
Hannah, the sister who moves out today and turns to mush at the sight of Chewie,
Me, again, who sees the change in all of the above,
the Dad, who is more in love with Chewie than anyone else.

We all laugh at, love, play with, cuddle and adore

A scrawny, mess of calm grace and playful gratitude.
A little portable mop that found our home
Because Talia is a rescuer of vulnerability
And abandoned, hopeful causes.

Where there is an ache,
There will be
Talia to the rescue.

Thank God.

To Talia on her 17th birthday:


Take good care. 
Both of you.

Friday, June 6, 2014

This Last Year

It's 12:15 pm on a Wednesday and she's asleep on the couch. Again. After two hours of this unconscious state, she will send 42 texts about, well, hard to say. With great difficulty she will then tear herself off of the couch, rearrange her tangled hair and within a split second be "ready" for work. She will drive 15 minutes to the mall to sell teensy strapless t-shirts and jeans for three hours to the same demographic she has been texting.

It's day 47 in my daughter's high school senior year. 

This is the last year I get to watch her sleep.  “Hush little baby don’t say a word, momma’s gonna buy you a mockingbird…” Well that explains a lot. I should not have promised her a mockingbird for her silence. She now expects that mockingbird to land in her lap. And why wouldn’t she? I have set her up for a life in which she won’t cry out loud and gets rewarded for every little thing that disappoints her. The bird won't sing - here's a diamond ring. The ring won't shine - how about a diamond mine? And if that diamond mine runs dry, mama's gonna bake you an apple pie. I didn't know all the I made some up...a parenting style...make up what you don't know. As usual, I can trace every act or inaction to my failure as a mother.

Why does she sleep so much though? It’s almost ironic. 17 years ago trying to get her to sleep consumed my very existence.

“Yes, she sleeps through the night and takes three naps.”  I proudly told my friends, not mentioning that every time I peeked into her crib I prayed she was still breathing. Always petrified I couldn’t keep her alive and well back then. Now, I just want her to stay awake long enough to ask why she keeps falling asleep.

I check to see if her chest is rising and falling and whisper, “Sweetie, why are you so tired? Are you bored? On drugs? Scared? You know, you can’t hide here forever.” Maybe she just has senior-itis and some free time.

Although, last Thursday, when I asked her to do…anything… at all, a mini-explosion occurred "You know, I don’t think you appreciate the fact that I’m not doing drugs. I don’t sleep around. I have nice friends and I’m a good person!” she said rather emphatically.

            After an uncomfortable silence she continued, “All we ever talk about anymore is college!”

“Oh, my sweet girl, I am thrilled and relieved about what you don’t do. Deeply. But, what are you doing? Are you scared? About leaving? About going to college?” I replied.


“Do you want stay home?”


The thing is, I can see she’s scared. And as much as no drugs, no sex, nice friends, good morals will get her very far in life, I know these fabulous qualities aren’t enough by themselves in the long run.

Except that there was another school shooting in Colorado today. So, I want to wrap her and her sister, into my arms and tell them they are perfect just as they are. And protect them. From depression and violence. And fear. I want to lock the front door. From the outside.

But, maybe this isn’t the moment for protection. Maybe we are in the moment of lighting fires under butts to send an educated, hard-working, morally strong woman out into the world. Maybe my fear needs to stay silent in order to quell hers. For the moment, sleeping is her only escape from the fear of growing up.

“Why am I standing over her forecasting her aimless descent into a frivolous life?” I ask the ever-present dog. Thank God we have a dog, frequently she is the only other living being who will listen to me with her wise, unconditional, blank stare.

There just hasn't been enough time in-between napping and texting to guide her into the kind, fearless, delightful person she promises to be almost every day. Sadly, this is not true. I've had 17 years of opportunity.  What have I been doing? Oh, right. The laundry. And the dishes. It's the regret that's doing me in.

The memory of that first day I was left alone with a one year old and a one month old, comes careening around a corner of my brain, “Just pray we’ll all be alive when you get home from work.” I begged my husband as he dragged me clutching his left ankle out to his car. If we hadn’t been so broke, I wouldn’t have let him go.

When he walked back in at the end of the day he found all three of us upright and laughing. “I’m relieved,” he said. “Alive, standing up, and laughing at the end of the day was more than I expected.” This set the bar for the rest of their childhood. Upright, alive, and laughing…a gracious way to live. But, has it been enough?

There is less than a year to be alive and laughing together at the end of the day.

Yesterday, when she came home from school she announced, “I’m going to the prom for the special needs kids! I’m so excited!” She glowed. It’s the happiest I’ve seen her in a long time.

“I am in awe of how you love these kids. Please never lose your tender heart.”

“Okay Mom.” She replies with thinly veiled sarcasm, covered up in that sparkling smile.

The expression on her face when she talks of these special kids is beyond gut wrenching. Her tender spirit is vulnerable here. Maybe she should stay on the couch. It’s safer than what lies on the other side of the door.

“I can probably borrow Taylor’s red dress from homecoming to wear. Oh, and Taylor, Evan, Anthony and Katie are coming over to watch Elf tonight. Okay?” She is still beaming.

             “Okay. That sounds like fun. I’m gonna miss those guys when you’re gone.”  I can’t bear the thought of the silence you will leave behind.

She is so much more than I ever believed would come from me. It's a good thing we had her father around. Maybe we've been a good combination in child rearing. Mostly, it's Grace.

Can she survive on what she's yet to learn in half days of high school, afternoons on the couch and evenings selling clothes at the mall? I guess I survived doing almost exactly that. Just not the survival I dreamed of when I was asleep on the couch in high school, or the life I envisioned for her when she smiled at me the first time.

Beautiful young woman, face smashed into the side of the couch cushion, displaying the one, adorable dimpled cheek she arrived with. From her apocalyptic bedroom, I retrieve her well-loved, yet barely recognizable stuffed monkey, and tuck it gently under her arm.

As I watch her innocence sleeping peacefully on the couch, I ponder the best way to get her up. Smoke alarm? Change all the clocks to 6:00 AM and then gently bellow “YOU’RE LATE! ” (I really want to do this one....)

Maybe I should be nice and just pull the couch cushions on to the floor and start vacuuming near her head when she and the cushions hit the ground? 

I’m wasting more time than she is by standing here staring at her. I wish I had spent more time sitting next to her than standing over her. This is ridiculous. I will be the good mother who does not let her precious daughter stay coddled in the coziness of her embrace. I will force her to grow up and relinquish childhood gracefully. I will bring about a good, strong person who is ready to live a good life. I will absolutely…wake her up.

I will absolutely say:

“Wake up! You are sleeping away your life and if you don't get up now, you’ll be here forever!"

But, I don't say it out loud. I tickle her instead and there is an explosion from the couch. Hair heading in every possible direction, glaring, with eyebrows furrowed, she hands me the stuffed monkey with an eye roll. Muttering “goodness gracious” under her breath, she slides into her flip-flops, grabs her phone and on her way out of the door texts me "I love you Mom." And drives to the mall. Well, at least she’s up.

In the silence left behind, I text back, “I’ll miss you. I love you too.”

For both of us, to be known in this moment and still loved, is enough for now. I have less than a year left to say something else. Out loud. I remain petrified that I won’t be able to keep her alive and well. Even though I know, deep in my soul, she is going to be just fine. In fact, I know she is going to make a sparkling difference somewhere in this world…when she is brave enough to wake up and walk out of the door that I will unlock, on her own.

Next year will be the last year for her little sister. Another last year to survive. How? How to let go of childhood? The childhood I hope I gave them that prepared them for life.

I pick up her monkey and lay down on the couch.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I Didn't Notice

I didn't notice how you loved me yesterday.

I prayed that you would show me, that I would see one significant sign that you are still close and that you still love me.

But, I just ran errands and worked. I went shopping and bought chicken and green beans and cookies for dinner. I went to the bank to deposit a check from an extremely rare acting job.

I solved an emergency prom dress issue with what appeared to be luck and too much money.

My husband came home. He kissed me. My children talked to me. And hugged me. And laughed out loud.

I drove to work and home. Three times.

I had dinner with my family, something I am rarely home for. Because I have four jobs.

Late last night, in a quiet house, I laid down on the couch under ice. And watched Breaking Bad.

The cat purred next to me.

The hamster rolled by in her ball.

The dog stopped barking.

We all laid our heads on soft pillows and slept peacefully until the dog started barking again.

I didn't notice you loved me yesterday.

Until today.

Thank you.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Down Side of Raising Kids You Like

Everything was all well and good until I was taking down the Christmas decorations yesterday.

I have been in a blissful, protective state of denial. Denial, which gets an undeserved bad rap, allows us to move ahead in the face of certain pain or imminent failure and go confidently in the direction of our dreams. Without denial, no one would get up in the morning. Or is that hope? Maybe I'm confusing denial with hope. Whatever.

Okay, so I may have been denying the certainty that life changes. It's a protective skill. I'm an expert. I believe my children are still little and will not be graduating from high school in the next nano second when I hang what are now 15-year-old hand made Christmas ornaments on an over-loaded Christmas tree, and shop for pajamas to open on Christmas Eve and purchase what seems to be hundreds of presents for the 12 family members staying for Christmas while baking bread and sweet potatoes and ham and mailing family photo Christmas cards that were as funny as I could make them.

It's when the celebration has passed and it's time to put away the precious childhood ornaments, that the truth shows up in shocking, uncontrollable places to point out that hands have grown bigger and daughters have become full-fledged human beings with lives to lead away from our blissful, protected home.

I really was doing quite well until I took a hand print Christmas paper plate lace trimmed ornament off of the tree and the poem fell off the back. I glued it back on and sobbing unattractively for 2 hours, waited while it dried. In the 200 times I read it before tearing myself away to sloppily hug the child/now laughing teenager who made it, I lived through every sweet moment and every mistake I've made as a mother and a human being.

So here, in my awakened terror, I wait for the day she isn't home when I hang it up and take it down again. There is no fairness in parenting. We blindly take these itsy-bitsy people into our homes and while we unconsciously care for them we learn to love them and become used to their noise and progress and friends and laughter and kisses. And then off they go, leaving us as they found us; blindly going about our lives, but now with a near adult shaped hole right in the middle of our path and taking the sweetness we have become accustomed to with them.

The down side of raising children you like...they leave. I just hope they come back or at least stop by.

My wise brother-in-law gave the best gift to his wife on the day his last daughter left for college. He cleaned the entire house, lit hundreds of candles and had The Grateful Dead playing when his wife walked through the door at the end of the day (well...this is the band he and his wife like). He handed her a glass of wine and said "So, where were we, when we were so rudely interrupted?" They danced for hours.

The possibility of dancing with my husband, uninterrupted for hours, keeps my head above the floor.

And my mind busy enough to survive the certainty that life changes.

Today my hand is small,
but how quickly I will grow.
Just how big and tall
is for only God to know.

So look upon this plaque

hanging on  your wall,
and memories will come back
of me when I was small.

Merry Christmas

I love you!