What I Wish

IMG_6567I wish I could go back to this moment–to say to this sweet boy whose body had been repeatedly ravaged by seizures, who was exhausted by the trauma of it all not to mention the side effects of the many medications he took, “It’s over–at least for the foreseeable future.”

I wish I had known on this day that he was going to come through it all, get to January 28, 2014, his two-year seizure-free anniversary, with abandon and thrive in ways we couldn’t yet imagine.

I wish I could have told him on this cold early February day in 2012, when he was so tired and so sad, that not only would he one day be seizure-free but medication-free.

I wish I could have held him and told him all I know now.

But all I could do then–and since–was hold him, tell him how much I love him, and then hold him some more.

It’s all we can ever do.

And sometimes it’s enough.

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Knowing I Know Nothing

I wasn’t there, so I can’t speak firsthand as to what exactly happened or how.  All I can report is that my older sons’ former Kindergarten teacher came back this afternoon with two very jubilant boys after taking them to a local storytelling event.

I listened to my oldest son Oscar ebulliently regale me with tales from their afternoon, culminating with an admiring, approving description of his younger brother’s superior dance moves.

Edgar chimed in and said he was the first (and for a while the only one) to get up to dance, after which others followed.  We were impressed but not especially surprised because if we know anything at all about Edgar, it’s that his spirit is as energetic as it is infectious.

IMG_5315It’s what came next that floored me.

After reenacting his dance, which was indeed outstanding, he said, somewhat wistfully, “You know, that was the first time I was ever a leader.  I was recognized, and it was cool.”

And it was at that moment I stopped.  I truly took in what he just said.

If you had asked me mere hours ago which of my sons would be most attracted to leadership, to being recognized as a leader, I would have said, without hesitation, my oldest and youngest, Oscar and August. My sweet middle boy has never seemed especially interested in doing anything other than following his bliss.  Whether others followed or not, to him, appeared to be quite immaterial.

And maybe until today that was the case.

And, then again, maybe it wasn’t.

I realized then that no matter how much, as a parent, I purport to know my children, I don’t.  I can’t.  The stirrings of their souls are theirs—not for me to own and, sometimes, not even for me to know.  And though I would argue no one knows a child quite like a parent, parents never have the full picture.  We are at the mercy of what our children show us and tell us—and even then the dependability of their narrative voices, as is the case with everyone else’s, is in flux and depends upon so much.

I would have told you yesterday my son Edgar had no desire to be a leader.  I also would have told you I knew him inside and out.

And now I know differently and know that I clearly do not.

And that . . . that gives me very significant pause.

A Day in My Life: January 2014

Though my photography skills are amateurish at best, I was intrigued when Clair Dickson, editor of The Creative Mama, asked if anyone might be interested in this project.

The details are fairly straightforward: Each month capture 14 images from any one day in your life and post them (with as much or as little commentary as you might like) on the 24th of that month.

I like this idea so, so much.  So often the photos we choose to share, while often lovely, poignant, and even at times breathtaking, are regularly posed, carefully selected, and heavily edited.  This project challenges you to document an ordinary day–which, of course, is laden with the mess and minutiae of life.

And while photos such as these will never replace the beauties hanging on my walls, they will offer something equally breathtaking to my children: accurate, authentic glimpses of our very real life together.

[Please click here to visit another take on this project–Jhona Oberholtzer’s blog We Weirdos Need to Stick Together.]

Early morning time on the Kindle

Early morning time on Oscar’s Kindle

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Two new cookbooks to peruse as dinner gets planned

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Breakfast is finished, and they are off to play.

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There is no reasoning with a cat.

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Life is expensive.

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The new table gets a dose of mineral oil.

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A digital native at four

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Minecraft

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Guitar in the morning with Dad

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Picking up contributions for our local food pantry in the pouring rain

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At least it’s not snow!

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For our local food pantry–two shopping carts full

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My favorite candle on a cold, rainy night

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A multiplication game fascinates and delays bedtime.

On Families in the Loop

IMG_5249“In the last two weeks my 9-year-old son, Oscar, has volunteered at the local animal shelter, played his violin in concert, made some wicked moves on the board in Chess Club, met with his Latin tutor, and organized a bake sale and online fundraiser that yielded nearly $1,500 for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

“All of his own free will and all his original ideas, mind you.

“I say this not to boast or to vicariously bask in his glory. I am just as proud of the work I’ve done myself over the past two weeks as I am of the work he has done. In fact, I think it’s safe to say my work ethic matches his. However, he is 9 and, well, I am clearly not. . . .”

Read the rest here on Families in the Loop.

Choosing Adoption at Ages Eight and Nine

IMG_5121The sceneOscar, age 9, in the top bunk, very, very tired after a long night of football and Minecraft but still remarkably lucid; Edgar, age 8, on the bottom bunk packed with two dozen stuffed animals, four pillows, two blankets, and a beleaguered mother nestled in temporarily to say goodnight.  Edgar is characteristically chatty and full of nighttime questions. 

EDGAR:  “Mom, do you think I’ll get married some day?”

ME:  “If you meet the right person, you’ll know it.  And if you both want to get married, then you will.”

EDGAR:  “How about kids?  Do you think I’ll have kids?”

ME:  “If you and the person you marry want to have children, then you will.”

EDGAR:  “I think I want to adopt one boy and one girl and name them Steve and Elizabeth.”

ME:  “Well, if you get married, it’s not just up to you, you know.  Your spouse would have to agree.”

EDGAR:  “Really?”

ME:  “Yes, really.”

EDGAR:  “Well, we’re adopting no matter what.”

OSCAR:  “Me, too.  But I’m adopting just one child, a girl.”

ME:  “You know, there are lots of ways to form a family.  Adoption is one, but there are others.”

OSCAR:  “Yeah, but adoption is cool.”

EDGAR:  “Yeah, I love adoption.”

MEPause.  “Yes, it is.  And so do I.”  Another pause.   “Goodnight, boys.  I love you.”

OSCAR:  “I love you, Mom.”

EDGAR:  “I love you, too, Mom.”

And the mother, renewed and a little less beleaguered, nestles in further and decides to linger because, really, where else would she want to be?

Mine, Theirs, and Ours

IMG_5195About a year ago, as I aimlessly and uncharacteristically solitarily wandered the wide aisles of our local Home Depot, I spied a rug I felt needed to come home with me.  Without any thought of either its unforgiving fabric or the fact that I was taking it home to then-eight-, seven-, and three-year-old boys not to mention two rather unpredictable and less-than-reliable beagle mixes and a kitten, I heaved the rolled-up woolen rug into my shopping cart and made my way to the register.

As I rounded a corner, my vision impeded by this large object of my affection, I nearly collided with my children’s pediatrician.  A woman who minces not a single word, she couldn’t avoid seeing me and the obvious bulk of my soon-to-be purchase.  She took one look at it, smiled, shook her head, and said jokingly, “You know you can’t have nice things.”

The physician to my three sons, not to mention a mother of four herself, she of course understood what I, too, quickly learned moments into parenthood—pretty things were no longer for me.  Fabrics that could not be stuffed into my merciful washing machine had to be packed away or given away—certainly not deliberately purchased and conspicuously displayed.

But purchase this nice thing I did; and it turned out to be fine.  And as I sit here tonight, basking in the organization our small house has recently undergone, I am struck by how much things have once again changed:  a kitchen island with open shelving houses breakables on which my youngest, just last year, would have wreaked his customary and considerable toddler havoc; a beloved statue that was until recently stuck, for its own safety, on a high shelf would be within my sons’ reach—if they even knew or cared about anything other than Minecraft and actually knew it existed.

After nearly ten years of prioritizing my children’s safety and comfort—not to mention overall hygiene–in our home, I am starting to reclaim space.  Naturally, my sons still have space, but no longer do they and the clutter of their childhoods have or require all of it.

Someone recently remarked, “Your house is starting to look like it did before you had kids.”  And it does.  In fact, if a crawling baby or toddler came to visit, there is more than enough going on to get him or her into some serious trouble.

And I’m left wondering how all this happened . . . how ten years ago I envisioned blocks and Lego on the floors, safety latches on my cabinets and how now it’s equally dreamy not to be tripping over toys, to be able to put things simply where I want them.

Our house may now be reminiscent of its time ten years prior, but it’s clearly not the same—nicks on the walls remind me of my sons’ play, bookcases overflow with early readers and chapter books, and portraits of our three exuberant children, children about whom I only once dreamed, now grace the walls.

Ten years ago this was my house.  Until recently it was theirs.

And now it is ours.