Saturday, July 11, 2015

Holding His Hand

My Beck. He's nearing ten years old...and that is just the strangest thing I could have possibly written. In my life. Ever.
Ten. I mean. That's real. That's a real age for a real person. 

Do you ever have those moments? You look at your kid and think, "Oh my're an actual person. Who is turning into an even older person. How did this happen?" 
Please tell me I'm not the only one. 

My kids ask me who my favorite kid is. Often. And I always go through this spiel about I don't have a favorite and I like each of you for different reasons; and I list those reasons. You know, the mom thing. 
And the reason I always say for Beck is that he's the one who made me a mom. We started out together. A couple of babies just trying to figure out how to deal. And he loves that. Gets this little grin on his face and looks at me sideways. 
And every once in awhile, I think it's when he needs a bit of reassurance, he says,"Who's the one who made you a mom?" And we grin. And we was us first.

Yesterday I took Beck and Evie to the movies. We don't get out enough on our own. It's all about the baby over here these days. So we did a big-kid thing. (Side note: if you haven't seen Inside Out yet, do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. Darlingness.)
Evie grabbed my hand while we were walking out of the theatre and I reached out reflexively to take hold of Beck's hand. He held my hand for a total of maybe .2 seconds and slipped his hand from mine. I looked at him and I saw on his face this dialogue (maybe it was because I'd just seen the movie) inside his head..."Cool guys don't hold their mom's hand." 
It was the first time that has ever happened...up until now we were all over the PDA.

The way he stuffed his hands in his pockets at that moment and his walk became a little more swaggering was pretty funny. I almost laughed. And I would have if there hadn't been this darn lump in my throat that I couldn't dislodge. 
It didn't hurt my feelings really, moms know way better than to have their feelings hurt by these things. It just...shone a big, bright, harsh light on the fact that my little partner is not so little anymore.

See that guy up there? That curly mop-headed boy? With the giant brown eyes and the corn kernel teeth and the chubby fingers? That's who I still see when I look at Beck. He's still 4 and just learned how to poop on the potty and stutters a little bit.

In the dark parking lot I said, "So, your inner cool-guy didn't want to hold my hand?" And I made some whimpering sound trying to caricature a sad mama (to cover up the real sad mama that was inside).  I asked if he would hold my hand now that it was dark and no one could see us. He smiled and snatched my hand. Almost as if he were relieved to give up the charade of being too cool for it. 
I was relieved too. I heaved out a sigh for the relief of it...of holding his still-small hand in mine. 

All the way home the kids chattered about the movie and it was all foggy background noise to me. I had tears in my eyes, a tight chest. I'm just remembering and hoping so many things...
I'm remembering when he was placed on my belly after labor and I touched those tiny clenched hands. They were so much warmer and more real than I anticipated. 
I'm remembering all of the times I washed those pudgy fingers. 
I'm remembering the kisses blown and the "I love you" sign language flashed between us.
I'm  remembering the first time I cut his fingernails when he was 2 weeks old and I cut his fingertip along with it. We both cried.
I'm hoping he does big, noble things with those hands. 
I'm hoping they're capable and steady and kind.

And I'm hoping I held his hands enough...

Thursday, July 9, 2015

1000 Gifts...Again

(This is a re-post from my blog in 2012 but I re-read it today and it stung me...all over again. Ann Voskamp's book is one I need to keep on constant rotation in my reading. I'm picking it up again today.)

This morning I was ugly.

I was blind to it until my husband's voice, from the kitchen said, "You complain a lot."

Like a punch to the gut.
Not a mean-spirited punch...just...truth.

I stopped in mid-action.
Folding yet another pair of rip-kneed jeans that had been left on the floor.
My hands froze and I rewound my brain through the morning to view it like a shameful movie.

Me: scowl on my brow.
Me: taking in the mess of life all around me.
Me: with words coming forth full of negativity.
Me: overwrought.
Me: undone.
Me: ugly.

And then I rewound again and watched, not myself, but my family.
Them: numbering three.
Them: running, laughing, eating, smiling.
Them: making messes and then surprised at the fury coming from my mouth.
Them: healthy, breathtaking, smart, funny.
Them: joy.
Them: the face of God.

And then I saw Mr. B.
Him: making three lunches.
Him: carrying the heavy weight of responsibility.
Him: tuning the iPod to a higher volume to tune me out.
Him: a blessing to me.

I was shamed.
And then I cried for forgiveness. 
What can I do to stop this?
My plight - the plight of all mommies - is not going to change.
There will always be plates that sit in the sink, unmatched socks, floors to vacuum, crumbs on the counter, broken toys to step on.
I can't change that...but I can change something.
I can change me.

I've talked about Ann Voskamp's book before.
How it worked in me to make a difference.

And I started a journey there.
A journey of gratefulness, of counting my 1,000 {and ever more} gifts.

I saw the fruit of noticing His goodness to me in my life.
I saw myself realizing the blessing in the simple, the mundane, even.
But then I stopped.
The journal got pushed to the bottom of a pile and soon I stopped fishing it out to chronicle the good.
And I miss that now.

The list was young in these photos.
In it's 20's. 
It has grown to be in the 200's but it stalled there.
I'm ready to pick it back up.
To remember the gifts.
I miss the gifts.

I found my notebook and set it back out on the dining room table.
Open to it's page left from March...

Gift # 213. Warm foreheads and Disney movies to rest.

#208. A new two-year-old

#65. Honey-Vanilla pound cake.

#78. Little pink leotards and tutu skirts.

#129. Funny Friends.

#203. Humming of the dishwasher & dryer...quiet home.

#168. The first mosquito bite.

#172. Red wine and pizza.

#47. Safety from the storm.

I'm going to start reading the book again.
And penning my gratitude.
Because, she's right, there's something about searching for the gifts 
{and finding them, because they are always there}
that heals that broken spirit.
The spirit that is accompanied by creased foreheads and negative words spat before you think.
I need to be healed...again.

I may post some gifts from my list here on the blog now and again. that I'm not alone, would you please post just one 
{or two, or...however many you can come up with}
of your gifts in my comment section?
A gift is not a gift until shared. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Boxed Banana Bread

This morning my girl and I woke early, before the noise and hustle of rowdy boys, to mix up a little breakfast. 

I love a from-scratch recipe. Revel in the creating something from a few eggs, flour, sugar...

But some seasons in life demand a change; a shift from the ideal to the doable. 

I am a perfectionist. Like...the sort of perfectionist who wants it all right and wants it all right now. And if I can't have those things I don't do it. I just quit. 

I haven't baked in months. Something I used to do quite regularly with the kids. But the demands of baby around the house and business commitments and working outside the home and homeschool and...and...and...the list never seems to end and it has totally taken the mojo out of my inner Domestic Goddess. Like, that girl is hiding under a rock somewhere. She's hibernating. 

I bought a boxed mix of banana bread the other day. The Domestic Goddess peeked out, cringed from her remote corner of my subconscious, and went back into hiding. 

My kids have been begging to use the kitchen with me. Especially my little shadow and former sous chef (you know...back when I had the time), Evie. So that boxed mix was our re-entry point. Back to the kitchen we go. With our box of dry ingredients in hand and a giant smile on my girl-child's face. Dear Domestic Goddess, shove it.

Really there are some things you can do to a boxed mix of banana bread that redeem it. Did you know?

You can toss in some dark chocolate chunks or walnuts - which is the route we chose. Chop up some candied ginger and enjoy the little zing that gives you (the Goddess really appreciates that one). Put in an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract or a drop of cinnamon or nutmeg essential oil.

Anything! But, for goodness sake, get in the kitchen with your kids even if it takes a boxed mix to get you there. Just show up and make some kitchen magic with your babies. Mine literally did tribal dances around the house (yep...the boys woke up mid-bake) when they caught the scent of baked goods coming from the oven. The three big kids all sat around the table buzzing with satisfaction and the baby got her first taste of straight-from-the-oven bread. If I had a baby book for her (hi, fourth child...forgive me) I would write the date there. It's important.

Also. Just a note. There is something sexy about chocolate chunks as opposed to chocolate chips. I shall never buy chocolate chips again. How gross. Chocolate chunks, all irregular and earthy, those are my new sex-pot ingredient. The Goddess is nodding. 

If you have the time and want to make something truly fantastic, visit my old blog here. Sigh...I love that place. Memories. And make the super-fab Banana Bread for Grown-Ups. My very, very favorite. It's got the chocolate and ginger and walnuts. Oh my. And make it with dark chocolate chunks because it's for grown-ups and...the chunks are sexy. So. You're welcome.

Another boxed favorite: Ghirardelli brownies. They will not disappoint!