Tag Archives: love

Five Minute Friday: What Mom Did

Another Five Minute Friday post with Lisa-Jo Baker.

Today’s topic: In just five minutes. Tell me all about what your mama did that made her yours….

GO:

My Mom is one of those rare grown-ups who actually enjoys children. All children. All ages. With a special focus on babies. When we told her we were getting married, the first thing out of her mouth was that she was expecting grandchildren someday: at least a dozen.

We’re doing our part, but my sisters are woefully behind.

If children hadn’t been in the cards for us, she would have been fine. Because my Mom finds children to love everywhere she goes. If there is an infant at the party, chances are it will spend a good deal of time in my Mom’s arms. I can see her hands twitching when we pass a particularly cute specimen in the mall or a restaurant. You just know, she’s dying to scoop them up and snuggle that drooly little person close.

She loved all my friends. And they loved her. Which was great when it meant after school Bible Club for all the neighbour kids in the elementary years (which she formed to appease my evangelistic fervour, since telling all the boys and girls in Grade 1 that they are going to hell didn’t go over so well). It wasn’t so great as a teenager when they used to say “your Mom is so cool. I just love her!” And I’d be like, “what are you talking about! My life is so hard! And my parents are so unfair!” But deep down I knew that they were right.

The best part of having a Mom like that, is that she genuinely wants to hear about your day, and play along with your pretends, and come and see the fort you built-in the living room, and eat lunch with you there. I never felt like a burden or an inconvenience. Not even when she struggled through the chronic pain and fatigue of Chrone’s disease. I didn’t realize that other Mom’s didn’t need so much rest, or time at the hospital, or nights spent in pain. Because no matter how bad she was feeling, she had time to enjoy us.

My Mom enjoys being a Mom. She sees it as a privilege and every child as a gift. I have no doubt that this is at the heart of my happy childhood.

STOP

So here’s me, wondering what my kids will remember about me someday.

5minutefriday

What about you? How was your Mom uniquely YOURS? What do you remember most?

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Five Minute Friday: Beloved

They were on sale the day after Christmas. Nothing fancy. Nothing exciting. Just two plain gold bands. A thicker one for him and a delicate one for me. That’s what you get when you marry at 19.

With the wedding just around the corner (at least that’s how it felt with stacks of wedding magazines and enthusiastic, wedding-crazed mothers in the mix), we knew we had to check one more item off the to do list. It didn’t seem that romantic to find the cheapest alternative at the Boxing Day sale. But, that’s what you get when you marry at 19.

We agonized about what to engrave inside our rings. We may have had a few less frills, but we didn’t want to skimp on the meaningful stuff. We wanted something that would still make sense in 10 – 20 – 50 years. Something timeless. We wanted something that would be ours. Something “us”.

And it has been. When you marry at 19, you grow up together. You live on a laughably small budget. You sacrifice. You change. You meet someone new. Someone lying next to you in bed each night and you fall in love with them all over again, every 10 -20 – 50 years. That’s what you get when you marry at 19.

Those plain gold wedding bands may not fancy, but they are timeless; they are “us.” Inside they say:

This is my beloved. This is my friend.

February 029

So here’s us, 18 years later… still skimping on the extra frills, but heavy on the meaningful.

Once again, linking up with lisajobaker.com for 5 Minute Friday writing flash mob:

On Fridays around these parts we like to write. Not for comments or traffic or anyone else’s agenda. But for pure love of the written word. For joy at the sound of syllables, sentences and paragraphs all strung together by the voice of the speaker.

We love to just write without worrying if it’s just right or not. For five minutes flat.

Here’s how we do it:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat with no editing, tweaking or self critiquing.

2. Link back here and invite others to join in {you can grab the button code in my blog’s footer}.

3. Go and tell the person who linked up before you what their words meant to you. Every writer longs to feel heard.


To Love and To Cherish in Real Life

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength,

while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

~ Lao Tzu

Cherishing…

romanceIt’s not like in the movies. Where they roll the credits and the absurdly good-looking, skinny folks prance off into the wild, blue yonder with nothing but adventure and excitement and passion and equallly good-looking children in their future. Of course, the good-looking children arrive to well coifed, only slightly flustered Moms after 20 minutes of pushing (and the dramatic breaking-of-the-water-in-the-restaurant scene, which always seemed strangely thrilling to me).

In real life, there’s a lot more sweat. And tears. And long stretches of less exciting stuff.

In real life, cherishing is less about passion and more about dirty socks. And casserole. And scraping your wife’s windshield for her.

In real life, marriage is work. But it’s worth it. Not because of the Hollywood-esque perfection of it, but the gritty closeness. The intimacy of the mundane. The humour that doesn’t come with a laugh track, because no one else would get it, but just the two of you.

You can’t cherish someone in a 90 minute highlight reel. It takes a lifetime.

STOP

5minutefridayOnce again, I’m joining Lisa-Jo Baker for her Five Minute Friday writing challenge.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking

2. Link back here and invite others to join in.

3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. That is like the one rule we all really care about. For reals.

So here’s me, where cherishing looks a lot like taking out the recycling bin. And for the record, there’s passion too. Especially if you volunteer to wrestle the kids into their pjs and put them to bed, so that your wife can write her blog.


The Evolution of Sexy

Tonight I find my husband particularily sexy.

He pulled a giant hairball out of my drain yesterday. And no, that is not a euphemism.

That’s just the kind of thing that does it for me.

It got me thinking about the origin of sex appeal. And the movie Magic Mike which was just released in theaters. The trials and tribulations of a male stripper has been cheerfully labelled “Mommy Porn.” It is meant to appeal to women of all ages. Finally, some eye candy for the ladies! But I don’t get it. Not really.

If grown women are going to drool over Channing Tatum, I think his character Leo, in the Vow, would be a better bet. The funny, long-suffering husband who loves fiercely and sweetly. That’s a whole lot sexier than smarmy bump and grind with strangers who paid for you.

I think most of us mature past pointless eye candy. Hopefully. As women, we need more.

Sure, I’ve been known to ogle my man. He has rugged, masculine good looks, deep blue eyes and other physical attributes I will detail for him privately (after all, both our moms read this blog and it will remain PG). Suffice it to say, I think he looks sexy.

But this alone isn’t what has made him irresistible to me after more than 20 years together. He is more than just an attractive physical specimen.

He has snot trails on the shoulders of his black t-shirt. He has a soother and a matchbox car in his pocket. He has a strange clay sculpture on his desk and rainbow scribbles on the wall of his office. He has a sparkly bow in his hair to “make him pitty.” He loves our children without reservation. And THAT is sexy!

He makes me howl loudly – with laughter. He tries to seduce me with lyrics from the Wiggles (I’m Robot number One, flip the switch to turn me on…), and it usually works. He knows all the inside jokes and can deliver a punch line with a single look. And THAT is sexy!

He has perfected his Attentive Listener Face, and is able to contemplate changes to his hockey pool line up while simultaneously allowing me to vent about our latest potty training debacle. He navigates messy family politics and is always on my team, if not always in agreement. He sticks it out to fight through the issues, big and small, though his every instinct screams at him to flee conflict at all costs. He endures hormonal tirades and diffuses teary, self loathing recriminations. And THAT is sexy!

Sexy is strong enough to be gentle.

Sexy is secure enough to respect a woman and want her to succeed.

Sexy is selfless and loves through better and through worse.

So flex and pose all you want, Hollywood. But I’m a grown woman and there is more to sexy than that.

So here’s me, married 17 years today to the cute boy who sat next to me in Social Studies. He gets sexier every year!


From Precipice to Poopy Diapers

A life hangs in the balance. Literally.

Stretched to the limit atop a precipice, men form a human chain, intent on saving the one who has fallen over the edge. Their strength begins to wane. They are slipping closer and closer to gruesome death. Dangling over the edge, the last man realizes what is at stake. With a sigh of resignation and a look of absolution, he lets go; plunging to his death, rather than risk the lives of his comrades.

“NOOOOOO!” Cut to primal scream of the main character.

I can think of half a dozen movies with this scene. Change a few details, rearrange the sequence, tweak the wardrobe… it’s a classic bit.

Sometimes it’s a bullet. Sometimes it’s a bomb. Sometimes it’s a grizzly bear. Sometimes it’s a burning building.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13)

We replay it in the media over and over again, because it resonates. These hero stories appeal to us. Like Christ, who sacrificed himself to save us all. We want to believe that sacrifice like this happens. We want to believe that WE would do the same thing.

When push comes to shove comes to the edge of a precipice… I like to believe I would. Especially for my family or my friends, but even for a stranger. In my daydreams, these Messiah moments are bold and dramatic, with a stirring soundtrack playing in the background.

But it’s not a likely scenario. The closest I’ve ever come is the time I fell down the stairs with baby in arms and turned to take the brunt of it on my back while holding her out of harm’s way. That was maternal instinct, and over in a split second.

The really great love, the kind our world needs more of, is not as glamorous and sexy as those cinematic scenes. It is giving up myself to help someone else in a thousand small, everyday ways. It doesn’t feel heroic, but it is.

Not running into a burning building, but listening to that elderly relative tell the same story for the third time in one phone call.

Not fighting off a rabid grizzly, but scrubbing the bathroom, doing the laundry and making dinner.

Not throwing my body on a grenade, but mopping up vomit, changing the sheets and putting on a sympathetic face.

Not throwing myself in front of a bullet, but calmly handling one more screaming tantrum, knock-em-down-drag-em-out fight or weepy confession.

Not sacrificing my life, but sacrificing my time, my energy, my comfort, my sleep, and maybe even my chocolate (gasp!).

In some ways, it’s a lot harder than the big dramatic exploits. I’m pretty sure I could make the impressive gesture, if given the opportunity. But the daily grind kind of sacrifice… mine is not an Oscar worthy performance EVERY time.

I whine. I get frustrated. I am consumed by my own performance. I overlook all the heroes around me. I resent.

But sometimes I love. Sacrificially. Heroically. Not anything they’ll make a movie about. Not anything people will notice or applaud or hand out awards for. But that’s kind of the point of sacrificial love, isn’t it?

Scroll down to the comments section. How many acts of sacrificial love, that will never make a movie trailer, can we think of?

So here’s me, wondering if diaper changes would feel more heroic with the right soundtrack in the background. Next time I’ll play this song:


Oh Happy Day!

It’s never taken me this long to figure out what to say. Ask anyone who knows me: I am rarely at a loss for words. Possibly never… until today.

There are no words. Just love, love, love

Seeing my best friend at the end of the aisle.

Hearing my daughter’s cry for the first time.

Watching the new big sister put a gentle kiss on the baby’s head.

Celebrating those very first steps after years of physical therapy.

Holding my son in my arms for the first time!

We come bearing gifts. Not just for S, but for his 6-year-old foster-sister. They wave to us from the window. Be cool. Be cool. It’s a bizarre blind date. Please, please God make him like me!

We hug foster mom and then meet his nanny, a lovely woman who has been with him all his life. We sit around the living room while he hides his face in her neck, peeking out at us with a little grin.

He is leery of us at first, especially the noisy little girl who seems determined to hog the spotlight. He pulls out the book we had given him last week, the one with pictures of our house and each one of us. I wonder if he recognizes us?

Small talk, trying not to stare like a creepy stalker, getting to know the sweet family who was raising my son and keeping my hands to myself. Be cool. Be cool.

I will be content with the smiles. I will be content from a distance. I will not overwhelm this shy little man.

We play a game of ball – rolling it between all the sisters and parents – new and old. A strange kind of family. There is nothing natural about this situation, but it is not as awkward as I expected. We all love him. We all want what is best. And they are so welcoming to us. Even when B starts up with the tantrums.

Oh no! Not today, of all days! But that is the reason, I’m sure. She knows that changes are afoot. We have pictures of him everywhere. We set up his room yesterday. We talk about the new baby brother daily. And now we bring her into this strange situation, so many new people, each of us keyed up and excited. About someone else. Unacceptable to the one we sometimes tease is “Queen of the Universe.”

As the afternoon wears on, the kids begin to play more freely, talking amongst themselves, wandering from room to room. B and S have a few very sweet moments. We even catch some on film. And our little guy pushes the stroller all around the room, beaming at everyone. He has a smile that lights up the room.

He literally throws himself across the room, looking to all the world as if he is going to pitch right over, but miraculously staying upright. He moves faster than he should, an unsteady, almost drunken gait, each step fueled by pure determination. He buzzes around like a happy little bumble bee, checking in with his Foster Mom from time to time, touching her face, sitting on her lap, then back into the fray.

He chatters constantly. Occasionally there is a word we can understand – usually “ball.” He reminds me of the Swedish chef from the Muppets. So much to say. Such a happy boy.

But he doesn’t have ANY trouble making himself understood. B helped L make banana muffins this morning and they are a big hit. He eats everything put in front of him and demands more. After three picky eaters, this is a revelation. I can live like this.

Naturally, B says “No” to every question, insisting she does NOT want to eat, but clearly dying to. Sometimes her words express her feelings and not her wishes. At one point I end up taking her to a room on her own. We listen to some music, play just the two of us… the lovely nanny steps in to play with her so I can join the rest. Attention is attention. She is happy again.

Foster-sister has “helped” S make a picture for me. It has my name and several x’s and o’s. Some may see a scribble on a scrap of cardboard, but it looks like a masterpiece to me! I’m pretty fond of that kid too! I think we’ll adopt the lot of them.

All the kids find their way to the bedroom, bouncing a balloon between them. S plays with each of the girls. He lets C pick him up and carry him around. He holds L’s hand. When it is time to go, he joins the crowd by the front door.

I’m pretty sure the puddles and the Great Outdoors are the biggest draw, but we’ll take it. He lets Glen pick him up and hold him for pictures, while we get our shoes on. I am closest to the door. He leans over and jumps into my arms.

I was going to be content with smiles. I was going to be content just to see him. So holding him is such a gift!

He stays quite happily in my arms while we put his coat on and make our way outside. When we put him down he grabs my hand and we walk around the garden, splashing in puddles along the way.

It is so hard to say goodbye.

But I get to see him again tomorrow. So, I’ll reset my countdown clock right now.

This gospel song has been looping through my head today. Celebration. Grace. A gift we can never earn, but can’t live without. It seems appropriate.

So here’s me, happy.


A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Today I hid behind a rack of ugly drapes in the thrift store and wept. Not because I found a brand new Gap rain coat in L’s size for only $5.99. Well, not only that.

Today I saw a picture of my son for the first time.

It was a beautiful sight!

Obviously, this is not one of the actual pictures of S.
We are adopting through foster care
and are unable to post any pictures online.

My Little Possibility is coming home next month! He is 1 1/2 years old. And he is the one we’ve been waiting for.

Clearly, he will fit right in. Just like all my other children, he is insanely adorable! It is clear to me why they would NOT let us see a picture until we had finalized our decision. His huge smile and bright eyes are irresistible!

We were open to children of any race and prepared to throw ourselves into the fray of inter-racial politics and soothe the heartache of a child who “looks” adopted. But he looks just like us. He has the same colour hair as his sisters. The same colour eyes as his Dad – his new Dad, that is.

I can’t help but feel relieved that the only time it will be obvious to others that he is adopted will be the innate talents and personality traits that we clearly can’t take credit for (for example, great mechanical skill or a love of rap music). It’s just so much easier this way. Another part of me wants to declare to the world that we are part of this confusing, bittersweet, but miraculous world of adoption.

We took the family out for dinner. With plates and real silverware… super fancy for our crowd. They were so excited to see him for the first time, immediately asking to text the picture to friends and get copies to put up in their room. The people in the table behind us were not-so-subtly eavesdropping on our excited discussion, so I made sure to hold the picture up high enough for them to take a peek. It’s pretty exciting – of course the public is interested.

Then, over nachos and hamburgers, we discussed the name issue.

Long ago we decided to leave our adopted child’s name as it was. I totally understand why some people do not, but we felt that it is just one more change for a toddler who has established their identity. Also, it is one of the only things birth parents can give to their child and we want to respect that. I was bracing myself for something wretched or bizarre. What if it was “Albert”, like that kid in grade 1 who used to chew erasers and then stick them in people’s ears? Or poorly thought out like “Debree”, which sounds pretty until you realize it is also the word for garbage?

Fortunately, his first name is perfect for our family and we love it!

But we will add to it; so tonight we picked out a middle name. Still honouring his roots with the first name his birth Mom gave him, but claiming him as our own by adding a special family name. His middle name will be the same as Glen’s and his Dad’s; the first name of both my Dad and Glen’s grandfather. There will be no escape – he will be part of us, too. “S. William”

I immediately put his picture in the place of highest honour – the home screen of my iPhone. And I have spent the better part of the day staring at it. And showing everyone I meet.

This is my son.

So here’s me… Happy Mother’s Day to me!


My Little Boy Toy

Last night I snuggled close to Glen, looked him deeply in the eyes and broke the news.

“Today, I bought myself a little boy toy.”

It’s a testament to the seriousness of the situation that he didn’t snicker or even make a “that’s what she said” joke.

I bought a little stuffed dog. It barks when you push the tummy. It’s blue.

After years and years of pink, purple and whatever material has the most sparkle, I shopped in a new section of the store. I never intended to raise girly-girls, but they like what they like. So I steer clear of dinosaurs and cars and super heroes and anything blue. Until yesterday.

I justified that I could give it away if it doesn’t work out. I hastily explained that it could just as easily be for one of our nephews.

But I was lying.

To myself.

Because I bought it for him. It’s his. I wanted to have a connection to him.

Glen was right to ask the questions he did.

“Is is too late? Have you given your heart away already?”

So here’s me, buying blue, because hearts can’t be protected. Not mine anyway.

When you’ve lost more than one child, you learn this. Even if this adoption doesn’t work out, I will need something to hold onto, something to mourn. So I bought myself a little boy toy.


The Voices in My Head

My very first mentor was my Dad’s little sister, my “Auntie Omi”. She was there the day I was born. I was there the day she died.

She stepped in when I was only a zygote and wrote herself into my story. When my Dad was sent out-of-town on business, she stayed. She was the one who drove my Mom to the hospital. She was there when I was born. I could always count on her.

She was my unofficial tour guide to life. Whether it was letting me watch Grizzly Adams and Dukes of Hazzard when my parents didn’t have TV, or taking me to visit her office, she opened up a whole new world to me. She taught me my first joke and then listened patiently while I told it to her 5 million times over the next year. It was only slightly more sophisticated than the chicken crossing the road. It goes something like this:

Why did the fireman wear red suspenders?

To keep his pants up!

ha ha ha ha ha ha…

…ahhhh, good stuff!

When I was a teenager, she did something amazing and totally crazy. She adopted a child. A single women adopting an older child from the foster care system is spelled R-A-D-I-C-A-L, no matter where you come from. But it’s an awesome brand of crazy! It’s also spelled B-R-A-V-E and C-O-M-P-A-S-S-I-O-N-A-T-E.

My aunt was flesh and blood altruism. Her journey was a lot messier, more confusing and more exhausting than she (or any of us) were prepared for. My cousin was 8 when she joined our family, and it was quite a ride for both of them. Watching my aunt learning to love her daughter did me more good than the hundreds of sermons I’ve heard in my life. She wasn’t perfect, but she was faithful and committed. She was a great mom. You could always count on her.

Even as an adult she looked out for me. When we moved halfway across the country, she started sending our family care packages of totally random things she had found in thrift stores or antique markets: a set of tea towels, a weird night-light, blank video tapes, socks, a ceramic bird… Just between you, me, and the entire internet, I didn’t need any of this stuff. Sometimes I wasn’t sure exactly what to do with it. But I loved those weird packages just the same. It was her way of looking out for us. I knew she was thinking about me.

She gave the toast to the bride at my wedding, and I gave the toast to the bride at hers. I dressed all three of my daughters in fluffy blue dresses so they could precede her down the aisle. At a young fifty-something years old, she had finally met the love of her life.

It’s a beautiful story, plus now I can honestly say that “Bob’s my uncle”, which is just as funny years later as when I first said it (obviously my sense of humor hasn’t matured much since the fireman’s suspenders). My girls referred to them as “the bride and her prince”. They were so happy together and it breaks my heart that their time together was so short. Life, and especially death, just isn’t fair!

As I wrote the eulogy for her funeral 2 years ago, I realized that I had, more often than not, written it in the present tense. My aunt is brave, she has a great sense of humour… As I went back to change everything into the past tense it occurred to me – she still is. She still is all those things and more. Like her, I trust the promise that heaven is a place where weaknesses fall away and we fully become our true selves.

I’m not exactly sure what the afterlife will be like; none of us know, really. But I do know that my Aunt loved God faithfully all her life. The bible talks about us having a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 11), and I can’t imagine anyone better suited to watch over us, pray for us and cheer us on. She was always taking care of us. It’s what she did best, and we miss her terribly.

My memories of my aunt may grow hazy as the years go by, but I will never forget who she was. I know I am a better person for all her support and her example. Her death was a terrible blow. But I did not lose her, not really. She is one of the voices in my head. Because our best mentors never leave us.

So here’s me, knowing someday I will be the voice in someone else’s head. I hope I have a Scottish accent.

Who are the voices in your head? What kind of things do they whisper to you?


Love: a Modern Day Remix

It’s one of the greatest love poems in the world. We read it at our wedding. I’ve heard it at a dozen more weddings since. It’s a classic.

It fits well with Valentine’s Day, full of starry eyed wonder and Sappily-Ever-After… But the real life version is more gritty and down to earth than anything printed on frilly wedding programs. It’s more diapers and disagreements than mushy romance. At least in our house…

Love

is changing the 8,647th pull up and repeating one more time that big girls pee on the potty

is laughing at the same joke like it’s the first time, and not the 31st time he’s heard it

…is patient.

Love

is getting out of bed early to scrape the windshield and warm up the car

climbing into bed with your little sister and playing “snoring duck” when she’s having a rough night

…is kind.

Love

says, “Enjoy a weekend away with your friends. You deserve it. I can go to the game another time.”

bakes cookies for her little sister’s sleepover, then stays out of her way for the evening

…does not envy.

Love

harnesses years of “real” writing experience to play editor and cheerleader for his wife’s blog

says nothing about 3 years of perfect spelling tests, but celebrates her sister’s good grade

…does not boast.

Love

makes the first move to apologize and try to understand where he went wrong, even when it probably had more to do with the time of month than anything else

wears a wig and tiara to play the evil princess at his daughter’s birthday party

…is not proud.

Love

listens when she is frustrated with her crazy family, but knows better than to agree too emphatically or say ANYTHING bad about the in-laws

…does not dishonour others.

Love

plays the same silly game with her sister over and over and over and over again, just to make her laugh

makes all the hard calls because his wife has an irrational aversion to talking on the telephone

…is not self seeking.

Love

shrugs her shoulders and sighs, “Oh well” when the baby gets into her stuff, yet again

…is not easily angered.

Love

says, “Honey, I’m just glad that you’re okay. That’s all that really matters.” when she dents the van, AGAIN

also when she gets ANOTHER parking ticket

and when she screws up the budget by charging something to the wrong account, for the THIRD time that month

…keeps no record of wrongs.

Love

says, “Be happy! Mmm-happy!” and encourages hugs and kisses all around when her big sisters are fighting

…does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth.

Love

tells their friends, “She’s so smart and doing really well. She has Down Syndrome and that’s hard work.”

checks the locks at least twice before bed each night, just to be sure

puts his wife to bed and takes over when the flu starts winning the fight

…always protects.

Love

hands over the reigns when it’s time to buy school supplies, clothes, Christmas presents, groceries and pretty much anything the family needs, even though his instincts are telling him to hide every penny away for a rainy day

(a rainy day may or may not be code for “a really cool concert”)

…always trusts.

Love

buys a single rose for each of his daughters on Valentine’s Day

takes each of them out for breakfast on their birthday

and treats them with love and respect every day in between, so that one day they will expect the man in their life to do the same

…always hopes.

Love

is 20 years of the good times, the bad fights and the ugly cry… and still going strong

…always perseveres.

Love never fails.

I see it in the four faces that surround me every day. We are not perfect, not even close.

But when we choose to love each other, it’s always seems to work out.

Happy Valentine’s Day to my favourite people!


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