Mom. mom. mom. uh…mom.

A mom is never off duty. It doesn’t matter if she’s across the room, across the hall, across the street, or as I witnessed recently, even if she is across the country. My sister-in-law, Kalie, left her awesome husband and three great kids behind to fly out and spend a week with me. The purpose of the trip was to spend some time together, but also to work on a scrapbook for my son. Zach will be graduating in a few short months and Kalie, who has awesome scrapbooking skills, helped me put together an album for Courtney when she graduated a few years ago, and so she came again to help once more.

Kalie’s kids, ages 14, 12, and 9, kept in touch with phone calls and text messages while she was away from them. Here are some of the messages she received while she was 590 miles away from them…and awesome dad was NOT 590 miles away.

“Hey mom, I want to make Jello, there’s a big package and a small package, how much water do I use?”
No answer.
“momma?”

“Hey mom, can you tell me the iPad code”
“so..”
“huh..”
“mom, can you tell me the code”

“hey mom, we need some oranges”

12:09 AM
Jared:
“Mom, my stomeck hurts bad”
Kalie:
“Go tell dad, hon. Feel better”
Jared:
“He’s in bed”
“Mom”

“Mom, Jared’s bus drove by and didn’t pick him up.”

Seriously, I don’t know which one cracks me up more! The we need oranges one is hilarious – so random! But the stomeck one is so funny too ~ mom is 590 miles away, dad is across the hall! And the bus one…dad, who was in town, did not receive a text, but mom did. That’s just funny.

Apparently sometimes (or a lot of the time) our kids feel like they need us – and no one else will do. That’s an honor, right?

With all the scrapbooking I’ve been doing, I wrote “Don’t untag yourself from your life” over here. Its about about keeping yourself in the picture – no matter what.

Sometimes it’s Hard being a Mean Mom

Getting real….

Today at 4:35 I walked into the middle school and tapped my youngest on the shoulder. He was standing in line at a cross country team pasta dinner, I told him he was not staying, he was coming home. I went over to the coach to let her know he was leaving, that he had failed to tell me about the dinner, and I wasn’t going to sit in the parking lot for 30 minutes waiting. (Especially since I had done this once and made it clear if he failed to tell me again about a pasta dinner that I would come into the cafeteria and get him. This boy should know by now that he can trust me to follow through.)

Friday night at 10:00 pm as he went to bed we asked him what time he needed to be at school in the morning for his cross country meet. He had no idea. He said he didn’t know where he put the paper. Of course. It’s been the same story each and every week all season. Thursday he didn’t go to the evening practice; when I suddenly realized we should have left 30 minutes earlier – he told me he knew that but believes it’s my job to get him there. Well….he will be 15 years old in just over a month and we’ve been working on personal responsibility for years now, let me be clear, it’s not my job to be responsible for him in that way.

But back to Friday night, I eventually told him the time that we needed to leave (I happened to see the paper earlier in the week on his floor) and told him he MUST get up independently and be ready to go in the morning – every other Saturday morning meet we’ve had to get him up. We were very clear, get up independently and we will do our part and get him to school on time, or don’t get up and miss the meet. Personal responsibility.

He didn’t get up.
He missed the meet.

There is much, much push back from him – every time I turn around. He is to fill out his assignment book and bring it home daily. He does not. We give consequences, but they don’t seem to impact him. He, like the other kids, have daily chores, he doesn’t do them, so he doesn’t get his monthly budget, he doesn’t seem to care. He states he doesnt like our rules, doesn’t want to be confronted with his wrong choices, and has asked us to un-adopt him so he can go back into foster care. Fortunately for him, he can trust us to do what we say, and we said he was ours when we adopted him almost three years ago.

I wanted the coach to understand why I pulled him from the dinner tonight, but that would take too long and she doesn’t really need to care about that. She needs to do her job and I need to do mine…and sometimes mine is hard.

A Snapshot of My Day

Mailed a package to my college girl.

Hair color.  (yep)

Home to discover our new dog went into Zach’s room, went through his garbage, scattered it over the floor, grabbed a mini photo album off a shelf and chewed that, and took his new Bible off his couch and chewed that up – no actual scripture, so that was kind of funny – just the cover and first few pages.

Let the dogs out.

Trip to the Christian bookstore to get a new Bible.

But not before I found myself at the grocery store parking lot instead. I was talking to a friend while I was driving and apparently went on auto pilot. Sat in a parking spot talking for a few minutes before I realized I had driven to the wrong store. Oh my goodness. (Have you ever done this?)

Made it to the bookstore.

Went back to the grocery store.

Let the dogs in when I got home.

Unloaded and  put away the groceries. Washed all the fruit, (because no one seems to eat it unless it’s clean and finger ready), made a big salad to last us the week.

Picked up the house, cleaned off the bathroom counters and mirrors.

Let the dogs out.

I made dinner, and we all enjoyed a relaxing dinner as a family which included a youth leader from our church.

Walked the dogs.

As I was cleaning off the bathroom counter this afternoon I had a moment in which I wondered if what I do matters. (Don’t comment with Yes it does, I’m not looking for affirmation, just stating my thoughts from today.) My kids were at school gaining an education, my husband was at work leading and supporting us, I was cleaning up, running around, preparing.

I don’t even know if I want anything to change. I love the freedom of my days, the availability I have for others. I enjoy providing for my family in this manner.

Maybe as these kids of ours gain more and more independence, this might just be the beginnings of another round of growing pains – which may end up leading to a growth spurt.

Oh, To Have Tea with You Again…

Dear Courtney, Zach and Erin,

While cleaning the basement today I ran across The Tea Set in its floppy, coming apart, and original packaging. Every time I run across this set it brings a flood of memories and your sweet voices that somehow are able travel in a way that I almost hear them. I believe this set was a Christmas gift for you, Courtney, from Grandma Trudy and Papa, about eighteen years ago.

The many tiny, little pitchers of juice and pop – which you thought looked life coffee – that were consumed bring me back to a place where I hear this, “Oops, I spilled again.” So many napkins were used during so many tea parties. You felt so grown up pouring and drinking your own pop tea.

The miniature plates held endless tiny triangle sandwiches. I don’t know why peanut butter and jelly and tasted so much better when cut this way and served on these plates, but it did. I would put them on a saucer and set them in the center of your little round wooden table, and then you would serve each other, passing that plate back and forth. The manners you used…it was amazing and precious.

Courtney was the first to use this tea set. You would serve your stuffed animals, and me, and dad, and Ben. Oh, Ben…our neighbor from two doors down – who in all reality was a grandpa who loved each of you to the moon and back. How many tea parties he and Bernice enjoyed….

After Christmas, the first year you received it, you sat in your playroom with dad on many Saturday mornings and poured pop coffee for “Aunt Kathy, Grandma Trudy, Papa, Grandma Verona, Uncle Lorne, Aunt Tracey” and more…so many family members served by you – from 500 miles away. I loved to hear the names of our family roll off your tongue. Dad, ever patient, would sit there and enjoy every minute – even as he sometimes had originally been making his way to the garage.

I will always remember (and in case I don’t, now I have written it down) when you, Courtney and Zach, pretended to be in a hotel restaurant having lunch. Courtney, in your sweetest little five year old voice you would say things like, “Could you please pass the sandwiches, husband.” And likewise, Zach in your little 3 ½ year old voice would say, “Of course, wife.” and pass you the plate. I also remember him spilling many times that day and you cleaning it up over and over and telling him it was OK.

And Erin….oh Erin. Do you remember your 5th Birthday party with your friends? They came home with you after morning kindergarten – all wearing pretty dresses. We had gloves and hats and even a boa or two. You had your Tea Party Birthday lunch in the dining room and you and your friends drank endless little pitchers of pop coffee. Suddenly there was all kinds of burping coming from the dining room, accompanied by so much laughter – and then a reminder (by you) that you were ladies and shouldn’t burp like that – but then you did. That memory makes me laugh even today!

For eighteen years this little set has been kept in its original plastic packaging – which is now falling apart. I found a new container for it, and as I pack it up to put back on a shelf in the basement, I just have to put this note in the box as well. You know how I am – sentimental and all, I am thinking of when you will have children of your own.  I imagine your children with their tiny little hands touching the same plates and spilling from the same little miniature pitcher.

There are some things that I just have been unable to pass on to another, throw or donate. This is one of those things, I believe it’s because each time I see it, there is just so much that comes to life in my mind.

Maybe I’ll pack it in napkins.

Love, Mom

On Break

Christmas break is over. I know that because I have planned, prepared and served really great and well balanced meals the last few evenings.

Over the Christmas break, I don’t cook…much. I’ve heard a few gasps and had a few questions lately about what I do for meals if I’m not cooking, so I thought I’d share about that here. Let me begin by framing my view of being “on break”..

I’ll begin with my kids, their lives immediately shift gears when that last school bell rings before break. They exhale, smile, relax and are instantly free of homework, alarm clocks and schedules. They are on break.

Our oldest returns from college and trust me….she is on break.

Then there is my husband, each year he is on vacation between Christmas and the new year, sometimes he even adds days on the front end of that. So he also shifts gears. He quits setting an alarm and his day moves at a completely different pace and…in an entirely different environment. He is on break.

Then there is me ~ the stay work-at-home mom. My work environment stays the same, except now there are more people on my lunch break. (And I love this.) In addition, the Mom Taxi is no longer running just after school hours, it’s on call all. day. long. (Which is fine.) Plus, now I’m the head baker of all things Christmas. Oh yeah…and during this season I move to professional shopper status. (Which I enjoy.)

If you’re a mom, you might be saying, AMEN! I mean, how many extra duties do we moms take on during this season? And I haven’t even touched on scheduling holiday travel or family get togethers, work parties, friend gatherings, Christmas cards and more. Which brings me back to why I don’t really cook over Christmas break….I want to be on break too.

I manage this by heading to Sam’s Club and buying a ham, a variety of crackers, chicken salad, lots of hor dourves, and other similar wonderful cuisine. On Christmas morning I make an egg casserole and homemade caramel rolls (technically I prepare all of this the night before), and this year Kevin cooked a turkey so we could have turkey sandwiches – for many days. It was awesome. We also eat out more than usual, and I’m good for a homemade pizza or two. (Well, actually three so we can have leftovers!)

I love having a break from planning, preparing and serving dinner. It allows me to have time off as well to refresh. But now everyone is back to school and work, (except for my college girl who will be here for a few more days) and I am back to providing healthy meals for my family. The first night we sat down to eat, my seventeen year old son made a comment about how nice it was to sit around the table and eat a great meal. The second night I heard several compliments on the fish and homemade bread, and tonight the pecan chicken and I got rave reviews.

I’m good with not cooking much during the Christmas break. I appreciated the time off and now my family is once again appreciating my efforts to provide a daily dinner.  We’re back into our routines and we’re all happy in the new year.

Sidelined

It takes a lot to knock us moms off our game, but last week a fever and horrible body aches knocked me way off of my game; I spent 36 hours either in bed or on the couch. Although there was much on my plate for the week, and my kids and others were counting on me, there was nothing I could do.

Late in the afternoon on day one Courtney sent a text to ask how I was feeling. That was so thoughtful. Then later Erin received a text message from Courtney letting her know that she (Courtney) would be making dinner. Wow. With Kevin not likely to be home in time for Erin’s softball game, Zach said he would drive Erin to her game and stay to watch her. Nice.

It is amazing to watch these children grow up, sometimes right before my eyes. Every so often I miss the little kids that they were, but I am amazed constantly by the young adults they have become.

I’m glad to be healthy and back in the game now, but seeing how the other players moved to make sure things got covered assured my time on the sidelines was not a total loss. Thanks team. Its heartwarming to know you’ve got my back.

Let You Go?

It was a Monday afternoon when she said it. She was in the back seat as we were running errands. There was no drama in her voice, just a simple sentence. “I don’t know how I’ll go to first grade next year mom.”

“Well,” I told her as I glanced in the rear view mirror, “just like you go to kindergarten…on the bus.”
“No,” she said, “I mean I’m not sure how I’m going to let you go.”
How do they do that? How do they take your grown up heart and make it come undone?
Overall I am pretty confident in my role as a mom. But I have to admit there have been days where it seems everything else comes before them. There are nights I have tucked these kids in and thought to myself, I have met their needs, but I’m not sure I have even looked them in the eye once today.
At the time, Erin’s comment made me wonder, how was I ever going to let her go? When I’m on the phone, cleaning or running errands with her in tow, I comfort myself with the thought that I can give her some good attention later. Not really thinking that at some point later won’t really be an option.
So I pondered the question I sometimes ask myself, Am I a good mom?
As I helped her dress the next morning, she stopped and looked me in the eye and very purposely began, “Mom…” She went on to tell a story, and I stopped, looked her in the eye and gave her my full, unhurried attention. It was a moment when I felt God whisper, “This is it” and I knew in my heart that I was a good mom.

Its moments. There is not much this side of heaven that is non-stop, continuous, uninterrupted. There will be days in which I feel guilty, there will be times that “later” never arrives. But there will also be days that I get it all right, where the time is invested in the right place at the right time, where deep discussions and light laughter take place over macaroni and cheese. There will be moments that I know, “This is it.”
This article was originally published November 12, 2002 and is being published here today specifically for the moms in the Sonrise MOPS Group, where I serve as a Mentor Mom. Be encouraged and reminded that you were the one chosen to be the mom for the children in your home. Look them in the eye, get your errands done, take time for yourself, soak in the moments that matter, believe in yourself, trust God for placing you here. ~Sheri

First Day of School

Many of us have traditions we follow on this day each year. Most of us mark this day with photos ~ on the porch, on the steps, by the tree, with siblings, new haircuts, new clothes, with friends and neighbors and the dog. So many emotions wrapped up in those photos…with many of those being felt by the ones behind the cameras!

One of the traditions we have is freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, ready and waiting when they walk in the door after school. I set the table, chill the glasses in the freezer, and as we share cookies and milk I hear things like what friends are in what classes, who they had lunch with, first impressions of teachers, if they got lost, how the locker combo thing went and more.

I love preparing for this. When they walk in the door I want them to instantly know I was thinking of them and that I am grateful to sit and soak up every detail of how this new year is looking and feeling to them. Its one way we mark the beginning of the new year at our house.

How do you mark the first day of school? Do you have traditions you would share with us here? Sharing parenting ideas is one of the things that makes us all better moms. Use the comment link to share your ideas. Happy 2010-2011 school year!

My oldest will start classes at college Monday, maybe I will send her cookies in a box? Hmmmm…new territory. Ideas?