I Miss you

Dear Mom,

I haven’t even started writing, and there are tears in my eyes. Oh, yes, this month is going to be rough. I find my thoughts are filled imgcache0.11978216with you. And when they are not directly about you, they sneak up and blindside me with some unexpected tie to you.

Sometimes it knocks the wind out of me.

I find I am really not looking forward to this 4th of July. I have looked at the photo taken July 4, 2016, when you didn’t feel up to going out to watch the fireworks, so sweet EM and SM brought in poppers and showered you with confetti.IMG_5133

I wish I had been there to see it. To see you smile. To hear you giggle. To watch you love on those babies. I know you did. That’s who you were… it’s what you did.

And yet you know life was busy. And you were more concerned about me, and all that was going on in my life than you were with your own. Because of the turmoil in my life, you even asked me if I was ok, you needed to know I woFullSizeRenderuld be ok. It is one of the last conversations we had, and it replays in my mind often. Your selfless concern you had for me is unmatched.

Just 20 short days later, you were gone. And my heart still aches.

How I wish and have wished over this last year, thaOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAt I could call you for one more chat. To tell you what’s going on now. What the kids are doing now. What I’m doing now. To ask you about your own grief when you lost Grandma. I remember the trip back, and how you cried. I remember your tears at the funeral home. I don’t remember any more. I never saw you wrestle like I have wrestled. I know we had conversations about Grandma, but I don’t remember telling you through my tears how much I missed my grandmother like my kids tell me.

I want to call and just chat. Especially when I’m driving. The conversations we would have when I was behind the wheel usually were more about keeping me awake then deep talks, and yet sometimes they were really very thought provoking. I miss that.

IMG_6250I miss knowing that if something was important to me, you would care about it. No matter how trivial it really was, you still would understand. You still wanted to listen. You still cheered me on. I miss knowing that even if I had called you five times already, you would still be excited to talk to me if I called again.

I miss driving around town and you laughing, “You never take me home the same way twice.” I miss shopping and calling you to ask what that one thing was in that one dish… and you would know.IMG_6226

I miss being able to talk to you about something and not having to explain the history behind whatever it is. Because you were there and you knew what all was implied.

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I was able to talk to you. Even longer since I hugged you. I hope you know how much you are loved. How much you are missed. Those babies you were so afraid wouldn’t know you… they miss you like crazy.

Anyway, I just really wanted to tell you we all love you.

Move

kaileigh-1107 031Y’all. Yesterday was a month. The first 30 days are now behind us. Some hard moments walked through. Others, as of yet, still unknown. Since music has been such a mainstay in my life, as I have gotten up and moving each day, facing each trial or smile as they come my way, I find I am holding onto yet another song.

Actually, my love of this song started before this last 30 days. I fell in love with it in 2015 when this album hit iTunes. It has become a th-2mainstay in several different ways for me. I have loved TobyMac‘s music for a long time, however, we won’t talk about how long… I don’t know that either of us want to date ourselves like that… I mean we were both just babies when dcTalk started in 1987…

Anyway, his music is always thoughtful, timely, and even pretty timeless. His heart is passionate and purposeful. And there are often several that thspeak to me with each offering. The newest album, This Is Not A Test, is not any different. I love several songs, but there is one that gets to me every time I listen. And over the last 30 days, it has encouraged me in new ways. I find it is the chorus I have running in my head, a sort of background voice telling me I need to get back up:

I know your heart been broke again
I know your prayers ain’t been answered yet
I know you’re feeling like you got nothing left
Well, lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet so
Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
Move, keep walkin’ until the mornin’ comes
Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
And lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet
Heart broken? Don’t drown your sorrow, move. Unanswered prayers? Don’t lth-1et yourself get stagnate, move. Nothing left to give? Don’t give up, pick your foot up and move. Yes, things are hard. It’s part of life. However, morning is coming. The sun will rise soon. Now is not the time to give into the things that make you feel weak. The bridge of the song says:
Hold on, hold on
Lord ain’t finished yet
Hold on, hold on
He’ll get you through this
Hold on, hold on
These are the promises
I never will forget
I never will forget
In 2nd Corinthians, Paul discusses being weak. His conclusion to dealing with weakness is in verse 9-10, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Toby reminds us there is strength in the promises of Jesus. Draw on it and keep walking.
And the other lines that stick in my head and keep my thoughts running are these:
Echoin’ inside your head
Are the words that your sweet momma said,
“shoot for the moon, my dear”
So you took aim out of this atmosphere
So maybe my Mom never actually said those exact words. She never had to. My Mom believed I could do anything, and it was clear every time I talked to her. Play soccer… without a doubt. Go to college… absolutely. Move to Nashville on my own… go for it! Get married and raise six kids… perfect! Whatever I felt like was the next thing to do, she was right there to say, “Yes and amen.” The faith she had in me… well, I can only pray I live up to all she thought I could do.
With the loss of Mom, I know my cheering section is smaller. By no means empty, but for sure she left a vast void. Yet, each time I hear this song, I find my spirits lifted, my resolve stronger, my courage reinforced. I find strength to lift my head and move. I find the ability to continue on with another moment, another breath, another smile, another day. I find strength to hold on… the Lord’s not finished yet.

Two Weeks In

IMG_5131I have now lived two weeks on this Earth without a major piece of my heart. Sun up to sun down. Minute by minute. Mile stone by mile stone. Foot step by foot step. Breath by breath.

I have lost people before. I have lost people I have heavily grieved over before. I am a bit caught off guard at the depth of this loss. Well, I am and I’m not. I mean, how can you not feel a deep loss when you loose the one person who you have literally known your whole life? The one person who’s body was your place of growth and protection before you were even born. The one person who’s heartbeat was the first thing you heard.

My Mom was by no means perfect. She struggled with life sometimes. She struggled with me and my brother sometimes. She struggled with God sometimes. She shut down when she was mad. And, oh boy, she could yell!

IMG_5167But my Mom was also one of the most amazing women on this planet. She was so sweet and nurturing. When she loved you, you knew you were loved. It was like a warm blanket on a cold night. Soft, warm, comforting. She had a smile that would light up a room, soften the hardest heart, and put even the grumpiest grouch at ease. She taught me to give to people. I can not count all the times she gave away blankets she made with her hands and her heart. She loved to talk to people, learn their story. She set you at ease and lifted your heart.IMG_5207

Mom was a thinker. I already miss the conversations we would have about everything, and nothing, and life and living. I loved being able to call and say, “What do you think…” and she would have great things to say. She was my sounding board. A voice of reason when I needed one. A laugh when I needed one. A shoulder to cry on when I needed one.

Not very athletic, she was left handed, and always felt things were backwards, so I think that hindered her desire to work at sports. However, she almost always willing to try something adventurous. She wasn’t one to go play soccer or basketball or baseball. Camping, hunting, fishing, parasailing, zip lining? Yep, she was there. However, if I was playing, boy you bet she was there to watch. Sunny? There. Rainy? There. Snow on the ground and freezing temperatures? There. I wish I could show you the pictures in my head of her on the side line, standing in snow just to watch me play soccer. Even as a 45 year old adult player, if she was in town when I played, she was sitting in the stands and cheering us on.IMG_0089

Her heart though? That was the amazing eight little people who lovingly called her Grandma. Each one of them were her pride and joy. She couldn’t wait to hear what they were doing, what they said or how they did. Or talk to them whenever she could… on the phone or in person. And, how they loved her. She was so concerned when I moved to Nashville, that when I had kids, they wouldn’t know her because she lived far away. It tickled her so to hear them squeal with joy “GRANDMA!!!” as she walked into the house. She was there for each of their births. She was there for plays, and games, and cooking together. They knew her. They loved her. They miss her.

IMG_6714Even sitting here now, I find myself wishing I could ask her opinion or advice. Or just throw my arms around her for a hug. The grief comes in waves. Sometimes they are little waves and just rock me enough to take a step back. Sometimes they are big waves and are impossible to stand up against. And while I’m sure they will slow and become less traumatic, I’m equally sure they will never really calm or be still. There is a void that can not be refilled on this earth.

So do me a favor, huh? If your Momma is still here, call her. Tell her you love her. Go see her. Hug her neck tight. Because when you no longer can, it will be the one thing you really want to do.

Let It Go!

Yes, I know you just sang that title in your head. I am so sorry. However, I need your complete attention. Do I have it now? Good.

th-1A new step in parenting was braved today… It’s been years in the making. There was lots of sweating, heart pounding, pulse racing… all done by Mom. If you haven’t taken such parenting steps yet, let me tell you there is no preparing for the sight. Seriously, there really is no way to prepare for the feelings that run through you as your baby drives off alone for the  first time.

Yes, I thought I was ready. I was one cool cucumber as he got his permit (though driving with a first time driver is unnerving). Maybe, dare I say, even excited at the promises of another driver to help with school runs, practice runs, store runs and general aspects of just getting things done.

On the day of his 16th birthday, we ventured to the land of sloths, otherwise known as the dreaded DMV. Upon our arrival, we discovered a two hour wait before us, putting us right on the start of his one class he felt he really should be present for that day. Sigh. We left  and figured we would be back the next week. But life… and play rehearsal/performance… and soccer practice… and homework… and… and… and suddenly we were into June without a license. It’s summer people. Enough.

You wanna know what put him into gear to actually go? We found a car. An affordable car. His car. And it sat in our driveway. And he drove it with parents inside. Suddenly that license looked like a need to the boy.

So back to the sloths… Early. Before they opened, we were outside their doors waiting. And waiting. And waiting. For 30 minutes beyond their listed operation time. I have no idea what emergency necessitated the delayed opening. Maybe equipment wasn’t working. Maybe a coffee run. Maybe they were slowly telling jokes and laughing while the rest of us stood impatiently outside their door.

Once we were extended The Golden Scepter of the Open Door, prefinished paperwork made for short lines and a quick exit. Let there be much rejoicing in the kingdom!

That is until the child, this baby moving in a near man’s body, walks out the door with keys in hand, and you stand at the door and watch. Yep, he’s actually getting into the car. Without you beside him. Yep, he’s actually starting the car. Without you beside him. Yep, he’s actually backing up. Without you beside him. Yep, he’s actually pulling out into the street… WITHOUT YOU BESIDE HIM!!!

thAnd just like that, he’s out of your line of sight. Off on his own adventures. It is a good thing, you must remind your pounding heart and queasy stomach. It is a good thing. Letting him go is a good thing. You have given him the keys he needs to do well. This is his chance to prove it to himself, and the world. He’s got this.

And when he texts you pictures of another car like his in the parking lot of the mall, you will breathe a little easier. And when he pulls back into your driveway, you will breathe fully again. It is a good thing, Mom. Really. Let it go.

I Love Bethie?

I started this life (well, the part of it I can remember, anyway) the athletic type: strong, confident, probably even cocky. Somewhere along the way to having 6 kids, I turned into Lucy Ricardo! I find myself in situations where I just shake my head and wonder “how did I end up here?”

How did I end up with banana, avocado and marker on my walls? How did I end up with fingernail polish on my bedroom floor? How did I end up changing diapers for 12+ years? How did I end up running to three different schools while trying to keep a baby on a schedule? How did I end up with 6 people calling me Momma (or Mommy-o, as seems to be the current favorite)?

I have written about some of these moments, like the cat tree, the gatorade, the baby powder… sometimes my life feels like one big mess. And not usually one I actually create… though I do that pretty well, too. In my head I, all too often, see Lucy stuffing chocolates in her mouth and think, yep… I’m fighting a loosing game, too!

I am sure some of this is to smooth away that cocky side of me that thought I could do it all. Some of it is just to keep me humble. Some of it is just to make sure I can laugh at myself, something I did not do well when I was younger. Mostly, I think it’s so I can truly appreciate these words from a 9 yr old boy, “Mommy-o, I love you!”

What Are We Doing?

It’s 2012. We have made huge progress in so many areas. A computer in nearly every home. For that matter, a computer in nearly every pocket (oh, and by the way, it also doubles as a phone!). TVs bigger than most people’s windows…

And yet, on other things we seem to be stuck or even going backwards! Sadly, these seem to be on things that are really important. I mean, who cares how big your TV is when someone’s life hangs in the balance?

I just read about a sweet little girl who is fighting such a fight. Who is being told she just has to wait to die because her skin is black. Does that make you angry? It should of it were true. But if it were true, you would be hearing about it everywhere you turn, the radio, the computer in your pocket, that bigger than your window TV…

No, the reason she must wait to die is not the color of her skin. It is something just as uncontrollable for her. It is her brain development. Her mental capacity. Her “quality of life.” Does that make you less angry? It shouldn’t.

It’s 2012. How have we not learned that kids, even if they have “issues,” believe what they are told? In the eyes of the woman carrying the baby, that’s what the unborn child is, a baby. In the eyes of the dr. it’s just a bunch of tissue. In the eyes of this dr, this little girl is just not worthy of his time. In the eyes of her parents and those who know and love her, she’s their princess, worth every thing they have. Who do you think she believes?

I have a nephew. In the eyes of his first grade classmates, he’s handicapped. In the eyes of his parents and those of us who love him, he’s a smart as a whip satirist who makes us laugh. All the time. And he knows it. And he’s probably the key to curing the disease that will kill you if you don’t let him grow up to fix it.

What will this little girl grow up to be? Maybe a great scientist or maybe just a simple ray of sunshine in someone’s life. We may never know if this dr has his way. Welcome to the stone age.

You can read about her here. Now, go kiss your kids, and tell them what they need to hear. They will believe you.

Hey, hey, hey…

I’ve previously written about what nicknames mean to my family. (If you missed it, click here to catch up!) Yep, I have my Boo Bear, my Booga Boo, my Baby Cakes, my Sugar Bear and my A’gator! They all have some flavor and meaning to my little Momma heart.

Imagine my concern when the only thing I could get A to call her baby brother was… Baby! I was so concern… well… if I’m honest, I was flat out terrified!

At first it was so sweet… see my kids are talkers. Which is good! Except, maybe, at 6:30am – I’m no morning person! Do know what happens in a house with 4 older siblings who are talkers? Yep, they do all the talking for her! So when my baby girl walked into the hospital room, climbed up on my bed, and laid eyes on the little cuddly bundle next to me, she threw her arms open, fingers grasping in a “give me give me” fashion, and SAID, “Baby! Baby! Baby!” my heart melted! When, two weeks later, she was still walked into any room he was in and she would say, “Mwha, mwha. Baby. Baby!” because she wanted to kiss him, I loved it! But when 2.5 months later, if I said, “Say Hi N!” she would say, “Hi Baby!” I began to think he would be “Baby” the rest of his life!

Then my hubby, N and I made a trip to Phoenix for a conference. On the flight out there, I looked down at that sweet baby and thought, “You sweet Boo Boo!” And there it was… the nickname I thought wouldn’t come… Oh, yea of little faith!

I tried it out over the weekend. He would smile so sweetly at me… I told the older kids when we arrived home… and they all seemed to think it was pretty cool… Then I looked at my sweet almost 2 yr old, “Hey, A, say hi Boo Boo!” and she smiled, waived whole heartedly right in his face and said, “Hi Boo Boo!”

Yogi would be so proud. I know I was.

Welcome Home
Welcome home Boo Boo!

No Rest for the Mommy

I’m awake. It’s 2:33 am, and I’m awake. I will be leaving the house in about 2 hours… I should be sleeping, but can’t. Seems to be the status quo right now. I keep telling myself I can sleep in the recovery room…

We will be off to bring baby N into this world in just a couple of hours. This little boy who seems to like to dance on my bladder will be taking his first breath of air in just a few hours. Have you ever thought about that? Pretty amazing.

Sweet S asked my friend tonight if N was already at the hospital, and Mommy and Daddy just needed to go pick him up… how nice would it be if it were that easy??? Alas, I have a bigger job ahead then just stopping in at the hospital to pick him up. Since there are two under her already, you would think she would know this. She IS the child who just kissed my belly before dinner tonight. The same one who hugs my belly because she wants to hug N.

G, however, keeps telling me that my bellybutton is a microphone so he can talk to N. Silly boy!

Yep, the kids are excited. Mommy and Daddy too… Happy Birthday and Welcome, Baby N! Now, if I could just get comfortable enough to sleep…

Hey Honey, guess what…

These and, I’m sure, other words have been used to tell my loving hubby about the expected bundle I currently carry. I’m mean, when you’ve done this 11 times, what else can you say. (Go ahead, rub your eyes, clean out your ears, whatever you need to do, YES, I said 11…)

No, not all 11 have gone all 40 weeks. No, I don’t have aspirations to be a rival to Michelle Duggar. But I still get looks from the nurses when we start doing ultra sounds, or when it comes time for the birth… and then I have to go into, we have 5 kids, 2 boys 3 girls and we have had 5 miscarriages, all around 6-7 weeks… and no, they don’t really seem to be less shocked then you, they just have better poker faces.

I find it funny that each pregnancy is as different as each child is. From cravings and feeling ill to the movement of each child, each has their own personality from the very beginning. Sometimes the differences comes down to the anatomy: for each boy, I have had major cravings for tomatoes,, had lots of morning sickness and dealt with Gestational Diabetes. These issues makes the girl’s pregnancies a breeze for me – the girls have given me WAY more drama after they were born than before.

How did we come to this point? Well… sometimes I ask myself the same question. And sometimes I’m not really sure of the answer. I wanted 4 kids. Two girls and two boys. And along that road, we lost 5. With three, and dealing with the last 3 miscarriages, T told me he could be done. Three. I knew that I knew that I knew, I was not done. It was big stress for us for a while. Then my sweet K came alone and I was GOOD! T, however, held that sweet little bundle, looked at me and said, “I think we need another.” Um, what??? Who are you and what did you do with my husband??? And in the middle of THAT conversation (which lasted two years) I became pregnant with A.

Then watching those 4 sweet kids welcome A (and hearing then 2 yr old K tell 9 yr old J, “Don’t touch MY baby!”) T began to question… at first to himself, then with friends and then with me, “Who are we to tell God no?” Come again? Six??? I signed up for 4, remember??? Again, in the middle of THAT discussion, T turned 40 while on a business trip. I made the trip to the city he was in to surprise him for his big day. And we came home with a surprise for us…

So we will welcome number 6, boy #3, into the family in July. And as of right now, I don’t know where the road leads. Right now, I’m just trying to get through the last month. Stay tuned for further updates!