Saturday, November 27, 2010

No ready answer

Over the course of four days, while visiting family for Thanksgiving, my daughter asked me a couple of very heavy questions:
  1. What happens to people who don't believe in Jesus?
  2. How does your baby come out?
I guess when you have no schoolwork to do, your mind wanders.

Admittedly, I wasn't prepared to answer such big ones right away.  And Bella doesn't usually plan out when she vocalizes her ponderings, so they're usually ill-timed. 

Guess I'll be doing some investigating this week.  God, help me.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I was THAT mom

It wasn't a dream- a nightmare that ends in the relief of realizing that it didn't actually happen.  But it DID happen, and I wasn't able to cope wrapped within my cozy comforter in a warm bed.

The morning started out lovely enough.  Small, pleasant conversations with the kids as we got ready for the day.  Banana nut chocolate chip muffins fresh out of the oven for breakfast.  A shower for me.  DVD in the minivan for our 40 minute trip to meet my best friend for some Christmas shopping.

Even when we'd parked the car and ran to Nikki with hugs, the only pinch was the worsening pain in my back.  It's been there for weeks, but I was starting to sense that it was something more than a heating pad and a Tylenol could fix.  I pushed through and we successfully conquered 2 stores before the kids got a little whiny.  We decided to do lunch.

That's when the kids rebelled.  They crawled back and forth under the table in the booth.  My 7-year-old daughter started to talk back to me like a teenager, rolling her eyes and flicking her head.  My 3-year-old kept wanting to lie down everywhere, because this is what he does when he has to poop and refuses to use the potty.  I tried to keep my cool and maintain a sane conversation with my friend.  All the while, my back was killing me, and I could hardly concentrate.

Thankfully, we left the restaurant to try the mall.  Bella got a little word of advice from her mother before she got back in the van, so I didn't suffer much more disrespectful talk after that.  Which is good, because now it was Brody's turn to misbehave.

I knew what I was looking for, so I just needed to get to that section of the store.  Brody, however, kept lying down on the floor or the shelves, saying he wanted to sleep.  So I finally gave up on my task and took him to the bathroom where he sat and did nothing.  Great.  Then he started running away from me- a rule that we went over before we left for this Christmas shopping adventure.  And each time, we reminded him with words and timeouts.  It was all for naught.  Brody had officially transformed into a wild thing.

Thank goodness Nikki was there (of course, I apologized profusely for my kids later).

Then he pooped.  Looking right at me, that preschooler pooped in his pants, and I had not brought his bag in with us.  So I let Bella go with Nikki, and took Brody's hand for the long walk out to the parking lot.  He was sorry.  I practiced some grace-based parenting, and exhibited great patience through the ordeal.  He wanted to play, but all this was cutting into our time.  Then he was bummed to lose his Thomas toy, which is the deal when he doesn't use the potty.

And my back was killing me.

After returning to the mall with a fresh pull-up, I let Brody join a group of kids playing while I sat down to find the chiropractor's number.  By the time Nikki & Bella met us, it was time to drive back home before traffic clogged the roads.  Since we were right there, we decided to top off the day with a cookie treat on our way out.  As we're walking to the counter to order, Brody took off into the store across the way and tried to squeeze behind a display of Snuggies. 

The rest was like a dream- but it wasn't.

The towers of stacked boxes started to wobble while my 3-year-old hid behind them, as I tried to coax him out.  Then it happened.  One tower fell.  Then another.  And with his hand in my hand, Brody and I watched the boxes tip each subsequent stack like dominoes, ending with the sign displayed in the window.  I sat Brody down and looked at the mess my son had made.  The lady working in the store gave me an evil look and silently watched me as I bent over to re-stack each Snuggie box back in the best way I remembered it. 

I'm 7 months pregnant, my back is still killing me, and my son is now yelling, "Mommy, can I have a cookie?!"

After a few minutes, the lady dismisses me with a "Don't worry about it.  I'll get it." 

I'll take it. 

I lift Brody up, and reply with an "I'm sorry."  Leaving the store to meet my friend and my daughter at the cookie counter, I dread telling Brody that he has lost his chance at an afternoon treat. 

When I do, he unsurprisingly wailed, "I want a coooookieeee!" 

I can only respond with, "Mommy didn't get one either."  I hoped it would ease the pain.  I truly wanted a cookie too, but I kind of lost my appetite and just wanted to get home to lie down.

However, the entire way through the mall, in the elevator, by the food court, into the courtyard, and out to the parking lot, I held my son's hand as he screamed, cried, and pleaded for a cookie.  And I just looked straight ahead.  There was nothing I could do.

It was one of those life moments that humble you and make it almost impossible for you to ever judge another parent.

Because yesterday, I was THAT mom.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The other beautiful

My very favorite picture of late:

We planned on transforming my blonde-headed Bella into the adventurous sea princess, Ariel, but I didn't quite expect to be blown away by her beauty on Halloween night.  While all the kids raced from door-to-door in their various costumes, asking for candy to fill up their bags and buckets, I kept staring at my daughter in her sequined gown amidst an array of her black-garbed friends.

She is beautiful, I thought.

Maybe it's because I'm with her all of the time and so intent on keeping her straight.  I realized that it's possible that I, her mother, may not tell her enough what everyone else so quickly comments when meeting her,

"You know your name means 'beautiful' in Italian." 
"Yes, I know," she so easily replies.

We planned that.  Her dad & I.  When choosing names for our kids, I always look at the meaning.  Where does it come from?  Who does it represent?  I feel very strongly that those names can define our children to a certain extent. 

But I try to impart in my 7-year-old how beauty is so much more than what you can see.  It's what people feel when they are around you.  Being beautiful is more of a verb of action than an uncontrollable adjective.  People may or may not think much of your exterior, but they'll certainly be in agreement with what you exhibit from the inside.

I don't know who gave it to her, but we've read this book to Bella since she was a little thing, and it sends the exact message I want to convey: Princess Bella and the Red Velvet Hat.

When God shows me moments of beauty in my daughter, whether above or beneath the surface, I must remember to tell her- not leaving out that " should come from within you-the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit." 1 Peter 3:4 (International Children's Bible)

One day, someone may try to tell her otherwise.  I hope that she will believe the truth.

Bella IS beautiful.
I'm not bragging.  Just telling it like it is.  Share it with YOUR daughter :-)