Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rambling--Another Kid-Raising Philosophy

I was visiting with some old high school chums a while back. We were discussing our kids, life, and how we were definitely not getting any younger. Someone brought up the "G" word. Is anybody from our class a grandparent? I grew up in a small town in Arkansas and we were a pro-lific young class. It was inevitable that at our age someone was going to be a grandparent. We knew of one for sure. We also knew of several that had grandchildren by stepkids that they had helped raise.

I shared with them an email that I received some 5 years ago with pictures attached of our classmates new grandbaby. I sat in front of the computer and cried for 30 minutes because it couldn't be possible that we were old enough for GRANDKIDS!!!!! Then, several days after that mind-boggling revelation I received an email from another classmate informing me that she was expecting her third child. Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy! We are not too old!!!

During our visit, one of our classmates joined in the grandparent conversation. This girl was (in high school) a very quiet girl who never said a whole lot and when she did it wasn't loud or outrageous. She was, back in the day, in a group of girls that got married the week before we graduated from high school. Her husband was in the military, she moved to Greenland right after graduation and started having babies. Now, it's not like she had a gaggle but she had 2 pretty close together.

On this day, she added some ingredients to the conversation that left the rest of us trying to find something to neutralize the topic and get back to the 'good ol' days' talk we were sharing. She started out by saying, "I put my girls on birth control when they became teenagers." Dang! That was bold to come right out and say in public for everybody to hear...don't ya' think?

A few faltered away and began talking to other people. She didn't stop, she was on a roll. I can understand that to an extent. But, also when people are intrigued by what I am saying, if only for a moment, I tend to talk louder. I am the center of attention and that doesn't happen often so I must make the most of it. Such was the case with my friend.

"I told my girls since they were little bitty," she continued, "that I didn't intend on being a grandmother at 35 and I didn't care if I had to chop up birth control pills and put it in their oatmeal and orange juice. I was NOT going to be a grandmother at 35." Again, Dang! Not just 'Dang!', but can you imagine the horror of being told at 5 or 6 that your breakfast had been spiked with some sort of drug. I know it is the most important meal of the day; but, Flintstone chewable birth control seems a bit much.

At this point, she pretty much lost her audience. But, did this cause her rantings to cease? Not at all. In fact, she chose to focus her ramblings loudly to the one person in the group who was cursed with the gift of making great eye contact even though they were somewhere in the tropics in their happy place! That would be me! She kept on going! I couldn't tell you exactly what she was saying because I was on the beach (in my head) basking in the sun.

This had to stop. The Caribbean beat that was soothing me was turning into Mayan war drums and it was busting up my happiness. I said to her, "You know how I took care of that? I insured that I would not be a grandmother at 35 by having my children at the ages of 29 and 37. Kinda hard to be a granny when you don't have kids yet!"

We brought a few people back into the conversation and got off of this topic. It's amazing how 20 something years will change a person. Just a mention of that type of thing in high school would have embarrassed the fire out of this girl. Now, she was embarrassing everyone around her .

Did Sarah have to Deal with People like this?

When I was in school I had a bad case of diarrhea of the mouth. In other words, when I had something to say...I said it. But, it wasn't just me, all of my friends had this problem. I remember in 7th grade; we were assigned the task of writing a paper about our career plans after school. One of my backup plans was to be a radio disc jockey. One of my good friends piped up, "you certainly have a big enough mouth for it." My response was "you must be going to be a belly dancer then." We never had to guess what our friends were thinking, we always knew. Perhaps that is why after 20 plus years we are all still friends.

However, over the years, I have learned to restrain my self somewhat. I have learned to refrain from expressing myself fully and immediately since most people that I come in contact with I haven't known all of my life. But, sometimes I have to just let it go. I take it for as long as I can, red-faced and about to bust, until no amount of imodium could hold back the explosion. This baby is going to blow.

My mother didn't want to start her family until after she graduated from college; she did so at the age of 35. She gave birth to 3 beautiful children; the last one (moi) born 2 weeks before she turned 43. While my mother did an awesome job with my brother and I (our sister, her first born, passed away at 6 weeks old), this is not a path that I would have chosen for myself. But, God had other plans for me. And, his plan is always PERFECT! I had my first child at age 29 and my second at THIRTY-SEVEN!!!!!!!!!!! I repeat! I would not have chosen this plan for myself; but, I have come to trust that He knew what he was doing.

Having said that. What is with people who think there "God-given" plan is more perfect than yours??????

Not too long ago, I was sitting around with a few friends. Each of us were at different points in our lives. One was in her twenties and expecting her second child; another was 35--her youngest was entering 5th grade and the oldest a senior in high school, while her husband was 20 years her elder; and me. We were discussing our children and where we would be in 10 years.

My 35 year old friend was sure that her life was set up perfectly. God has blessed her richly; but she was certain that I was being scourged because I am 40 with a toddler. She said, "In 7 years, my baby will graduate and be out of the house." ***My mother would have, of course, intervened at this point because my brother and I neither one were out of her house by the age of 18.*** I bit my tongue and said nothing. She went on, "I AM going to be FREE from kids at the age of 42 and I am going to GO OUT AND HAVE SOME FUN. While you, at age 42, will have a 4 year old, barely out of diapers and you will be tied down with kids until you are 55." Now, this is true. But, she was saying it like it was a bad thing. You know, like her perfect plan was better than mine. She went on and on and on and on and on; laughing all the way at the demise that I was facing while she will be out enjoying life with her friends.

I had turned the other cheek and when it got slapped, I was out of cheeks. There was nothing left but for Ol' Faithful to erupt. I took a deep breath and thought carefully to make sure that I didn't leave anything out of MY assessment of her life much like she had done me. She gave me the respect of expressing her true feelings and she deserved the same.

My oral presentation was something like a political campaign speech and went like this--

"When I graduated from high school, I went to college. While in college, I went out with my friends on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights and had SOME FUN. When I graduated from college, I got a job. On Friday and Saturday nights, I went out with my friends; still enjoying life. I got married when I was 27. When you were the age that I was then you were at home with THREE kids; the youngest was 2 and the oldest was 9! Some of us chose to 'enjoy life' as you call it when we were young. I enjoyed life when I was a kid instead of raising babies when I was a teenager. Good luck, going out partying with your friends when your 40 something and too old to kick up the proverbial heels and enjoy life. While it is true that I will be at home with a 4 year old at the age of 42, he WILL....hopefully be out of diapers at that time. You on the other hand will have all of your kids out of the house and just in time for that 'old man' of yours to be back in diapers. And, let's not forget that by that time, your kids will have probably shot out a couple of grandkids and you will of course be left with the responsibility of caring for them while your daughters go out and 'have some fun.' While when I am 42, my oldest child will be at the perfect age to babysit her 4 year old brother while my husband and I go out for an occasional life enjoying experience."

That was all. I was done. In the words of Forrest Gump, 'That's all I got t' say 'bout that.'

She took a step back looked at me, cocked her head to the side and with a big ol' grin on her face said, "It's gonna be like that is it."

I said, "YEP! I guess it is!" We had a good laugh and we are still friends. She is still blessed with her perfect plan and I am still blessed with mine. I just wonder though...When Sarah gave birth to Isaac at such a perfect age, did she go through the same thing? I guess I'll ask her that when I am in that "Old Ladies with Babies" Club-Heaven Chapter.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


A few days ago my daughter was sitting in the floor beside me after a day of being semi-tortured by her little brother. She asked me "Do you remember when I was in the 1st or 2nd grade and I wanted you to have a baby?"

I looked at her with a smile on my face. "Yes I remember that. Are you rethinking that now?"

Her response was simple. "No, I'm not rethinking it. But, do you also remember that I wanted a baby sister?"

I paused for a moment. I remember the scenario well. She prayed for almost a year asking for a baby sister. She told everyone in the town where we were that I was going to have a baby girl. For almost a year, I had people coming up to me with congratulations. Some people even inquired as to how I knew that I was having a girl when I wasn't even showing yet. It got so annoying after a while, I had to threaten her. Another child was not in our plans.
After this year of prayer and meditation by my young daughter, I learned that I was pregnant at the age of 36. I was devastated. I would be 37 when this child was born. I was already tired and worn out and now I was starting over!!!! No more going out with my friends during the day or just being able to drop everything and go.....anywhere. I was very disappointed to say the least.
I knew without a doubt that this child had to be a girl. Moriah had already told everyone that she was having a baby sister and she had known that for over a year. It isn't often that you come across that kind of prophecy. But, it didn't matter to me. People would come up to me and ask if I wanted a boy or a girl. My response was always the same, "Moriah wants a sister, John wants a son, and it doesn't matter to me because I really didn't want either one." That was hard for some people to get. I was just being honest. I didn't want to be pregnant so it didn't really matter which flavor it was, I would be okay with it.
I also remember that moment in the doctor's office when it was obvious from the ultrasound that it was a brother we were a-having and not the long awaited sister. I remember the screams of "NO! NO! Change your mind! It's a girl!" that were heard throughout the doctor's office. Oddly enough, John and I were crying as well. John-tears of joy and well, I had been crying for months about the whole thing. But, as you know, I could not change my mind about the pregnancy or the gender. It was indeed a boy and a-coming he it or not.
But, some 3 years later, I have acquired a somewhat different attitude about the situation. On this particular day, I thought for a moment about how to respond to my distressed daughter. She was exhausted from hiding from her brother for fear of yet again having her hair yanked until her head flung back like a little Moriah Pez dispenser. I knew how she felt. It appears to bring him so much joy.

This is the response that I came up with--"I know that you are disappointed that you didn't get the little sister that you wanted. We don't always get exactly what we want but we get what God knows that we need. How cool is it that out of all the little girls on this earth that God could have sent Luke to live with, he sent him to be your little brother? Isn't that cool?"

"Yeah Mom." she said, "that is cool. But.......I STILL had rather had a sister." We laughed and went on with the rest of our blessed day.

This morning in church the thought of this conversation with her and the answer I had given came back to me. The preacher was defining the prefix "dis" as apart from or a negative or reversing force. That hit me in the face like a ton of bricks (which was evident by my swollen face that I tried to pass off as a sinus issue). I realized that while expressing my disappointment, I had neglected to see that I was proclaiming my apartness (is that a word?) from my appointment. God said to me at that moment: "While I could have entrusted that precious little boy to any mother in the world, it was YOUR appointment!"

How cool is that?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hymn of A Band Director's Kids!

I was on (another) trip from my parents' home to ours with my two children. Moriah was in the front seat with me and Luke safely strapped into the backseat. As we were leaving city limits and the speed limit increased, I sped up to set my speed control to the maximum limit of 55 (okay, I set it to 60 but that's usually allowed, right?).

I noticed out of the corner of my eye that my daughter was leaning over to my side of the car. "What are you doing?" I inquired. I was unaware at that particular time but that one question set the tone, if you will, for the rest of the trip.

"Uh, I was just checking that speed thingy and noticed that you are driving a little moderato."

'What?' I thought but didn't say anything. I didn't have time to respond. Out of the backseat came screams of laughter and joy. "ALLEGRO! Momma!!!"

"No, no, NO Luke! You do not want her driving Allegro!"

I yell out "Presto!" She screams in dramatic terror as only she can do. I start to laugh. She asks if I am aware of how fast I am going. I said, "Yes. I have the speed control set on 60."

"SIXTY!!!!!!!!!!! It looked like 48 from over here."

"Uh! Yeah! That's what I meant....48. I'm going 48 miles per hour."

"You are not! You really ARE going 60, aren't you? That IS Allegro!!!"

Luke is getting all excited and yelling 'Allegro, allegro, Momma!'

"Mom," Moriah pipes in, "You should always drive Adagio!"

At this point, I'm thinking 'Layoff you little Staccato!' But instead, I answered with "If I drive adagio we will never make it home! Can I at least go Moderato?"

I thought we had reached the finale but apparently it was only a coda. When we came into a small town, without thinking of the consequences of my notes, I said in what I thought was a piano voice, "Is this adagio enough for ya'?" Oh no! I was flat wrong....mezzo forte!! She heard me!

She glances over at the speedometer and quirks, "Yes!"

As we reach the city limits on the opposite side of this town, I said in the most uncool smart aleck voice I could come up with, "Crescendo!" She says "What does that mean?" HAH!!! Something she didn't know. I realized at this point that it had nothing to do with speed. I had to act quickly so as to not appear like a total moron. I said, "It means to gradually get louder; like this..." as I reached over and turned the volume up on the radio to fortissimo.

She turned it down and began to tell me about a dream in which she had the night before. An interlude if you will. In this dream, she and her friends that live across the street were building party buses like Miley Cyrus has and when they finished they helped Luke and Baby Carly (from across the street) build little baby party buses. This drone went on for 25 miles. But, since we are cruising along at allegro, is it really that long??

We came to the next town, it seemed only natural to stay on the motif. I interrupted her dream sequence to say "Duh-min-u-end-O." She pauses for a moment and then says, "Mom!!! Diminuendo has nothing to do with speed! Do you know nothing about music?....." This was followed by a reprise of musical knowledge that made me feel like a complete and total drooling ritard and turned my whole evening into a deceptive cadence.

I learned valuable information from this evening though. The key to survival in our little Capriccio is (even though you might feel the need to on occasion) refrain from choking your children with a chord and never beat them; instead, keep harmony in your household by treating each precious little one like a fermata. Hold them. Fine (Fin-A).