Friday, June 25, 2010

Benjamin- my little fighter

It doesn't matter to him that he's younger, half their size and physically outmatched. When his mind is made up prepare yourself for battle because he will never willingly retreat. He's my little fighter and he's always been this way. At 3 years old he gave me a taste of what was to come when he took something from his older brother and refused to give it back. It was something small that fit in the palm of his hand. His little fist squeezed tightly around it refusing to let go. I intervened, trying to persuade him to return it to his brother, but with no success. I then proceeded to threaten him with punishment if he didn't do as I asked. This also was done in vain. He just stood there with a stern furrow on his brow, staring down at the ground refusing to let go. His fist was clenched so tightly it took me a full minute to pry his vice-like grip open from around the toy.

Benjamin has always been a tough kid but what I learned that day was that his strength lies not only in his muscly body but in his resolve to to do what he wants, when he wants, no matter what the opposition or cost he must pay. It is the cause of many conflicts in our home. His older brothers just want him to do what he's told, but if he disagrees there's always a battle. Just today I broke up a brawl between Jacob and Ben and Jacob was in tears expressing his frustration with his little brother. "I just want to beat him up so bad Mom! Then maybe he'll learn to do what I say!"

But even if Ben did get beat up I don't think it would be the end of his resistance. It's who he is, and although it's frustrating, I believe at the core of this trait lies an admirable virtue. His strong will and unyielding resolve (when bridled and tempered by the spirit) will make him a mighty warrior for the cause of truth.

I can see him as a grown man, strong and unwavering fighting on the front lines of battle firm in his beliefs, unyielding to the opposition. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12)
The Lord needs strong men. Firm in the faith of Christ unyielding to the wickedness of this world. They must be valiant in the cause of truth doing what is right no matter the opposition or cost they must pay. Here's to my strong-willed son; may you always be stubborn in your resolve to follow Christ.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Life you've built for Us

When I'm driving somewhere with the kids in the car and one of those new Cameros passes by the boys go crazy....

"Pow, pow, shot that camaro!" they excitedly yell.

It's their unique way of calling "dibs" and owning that "cool car." The other day Jacob told me he was going to buy a corvette when he grew up. I told him how expensive they were and how he'd have to get a really good job to be able to afford one. Then came my motherly discussion on the importance of getting good grades and going to college, blah, blah blah....

As I was talking to them about this I thought of you. I wondered if you ever dreamed of driving one of those fancy cars when you were a boy. Did you? Did you dream about living in a nice house, maybe with a swimming pool? Did you dream of owning your own boat? Then I thought about how hard you've worked to get to where you are today. How carefully you planned your future, setting your goals, putting yourself through college, taking those training courses, getting those extra certifications all to work your way up to where you are today. You're probably right where you wanted to be. But instead of having that fancy car and the "finer" things you chose to be a husband and father and to take care of all of us.

When I saw that new Camaro pass our aging family car (with it's lovely scratches on the side and the bike rack in the back), I thought of how much I'd love to see you driving that car. I sure wish we could have given you one of those for Father's Day. Instead you got your homemade cards and gifts from the kids and you'll keep on driving that P.O.C. commuter and ignore the annoying knocking sound it makes every time you take a corner. I wish your car could be as fantastic as you are. Because you deserve it sweetie, you deserve so many things that you never get.

Words cannot express the emotions that run through my heart when I think of how hard you work to meet our family's needs. Love, gratitude, humility.....they're such empty words.

Do you know how comforting it is for me to know that you'll always take care of us? That you'll provide the food that we eat, the clothes we wear and pay for the heat that warms our home? There's so much that you sacrifice to give our children every opportunity you can. When that alarm goes off each morning you never grumble about having to get up so early for work. You kiss me goodbye and let me keep sleeping. You envy my life of being home with the kids, but if it weren't for you, I wouldn't be able to. My heart is warmed by these thoughts. You give so much and never complain. You work so hard and take so very little for yourself. You always hurry home to be with us and when you're here you spend your time loving us, caring for us, leading us and protecting us. You are everything a man should be.

I feel safe in your care, safe in your love and safe in the life that you've built for us. Thank you, my love.

Happy Father's Day

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Dream

Just before I woke up this morning I had a dream about Jacob. He was a teenager driving his own car and working a job to earn money for gas. In my dream I wanted to see him and spend time with him but he was gone. He always seemed to be working and there were few opportunities to be together, it made me so sad. Then I woke up.

I laid there for a moment thinking about my dream, happy to be back in reality. But sad at the realization that not long from now summer vacations aren't going to be like they are now. Soon he'll be off mowing lawns or working a job and so will his brothers. They might not always be home at the same time, might not always get the same days off. Like an eclipse our schedules may rarely align allowing us all to be together at the same time.

I feel like I'm starting to get old. Not in the sense that I'm aging (even though I am) but that I'm moving into a different phase of my life. I'm not having babies anymore. My kids are growing up, and it's happening much, much faster than I thought it ever would. Last weekend we attended my nephew's graduation and I started getting choked up as they played the procession and all the graduates filed in. I thought about him being a little boy running around with his brother at our wedding reception. How quickly he seemed to transform into this young man who'll be living in his own apartment and taking college classes this fall. It made me think of my own little boys and how they're older than he was when I first met him. Right now Jacob is almost half way through his time at home. In 9 more years he'll be the one in his cap and gown and we'll soon be saying goodbye to his yesterday's at home.

There are a lot of babies being born in my circle of friends lately. Some of them are younger mothers some of them are older but at a girls night this week three of these mothers brought their infants (all less than a month old). It isn't until you're around a newborn and hear those little sucking sounds as they're nursing, or see the quiver of their little lips as they cry with gas pains that I get glimpses from those earlier days and realize that almost as one hardly notices how spring suddenly grew into summer, I have now entered a new season of my life. I'm not the "new mom" anymore or even the "Mom with pre-schoolers". It doesn't seem like long ago that I was looking to the moms with school age-kids and I saw them in a different way because "they had older kids and were more experienced."

That's me now. Almost all of my kids are in school. Next year I'll only have 1 at home. I'm not pregnant, I'm not having new babies and what's more I don't plan on having any more babies. It's strange how that happens. It's strange how a season of your life that for years was all about nursing, and changing diapers, spoon feeding little ones in high chairs, bouncing babies in the the back of the chapel at church and hauling that stinking infant car carrier on your arm like a darn purse has slowly but surely melted away into what it is today.

Today, as I sat with all the kids on the couch, excitedly showing them the latest books I picked up from the library, I felt so happy that we were all there together. And as we read "The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig," laughing at the pictures, trying to guess the ending, I felt happy that when it was done they all hung around for more. I just know that it won't be long when Jacob and then Joseph will start to lose interest in picture books and these moments of togetherness will slip into my pasts, just as those days of nap times, Blues Clues, Wednesday playgroups, and Toddler Storytime at the Library have slipped away into my past.

As I've reflected upon this dream, I'm reminded of an embroidered poem I once saw hanging on the wall of a messy home where I babysat as a teenager . It has stayed with me for years and I'm often reminded of it. When the first line comes to my mind I feel the guilt rush in and I know I need to be better and heed it's message....

The cooking and cleaning can wait till tomorrow,
for children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
I hope that my child looking back on today
Will remember a mother who had time to play;
Because children grow up while you're not looking,
There are years ahead for cleaning and cooking.
So, quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby, and babies don't keep.

If I choose to I can spend all day tomorrow enjoying the kids. Jumping on the trampoline, pushing them on the swings, playing soccer in the front yard, fishing in the pond, catching frogs, exploring in the woods walking down to the beach and building driftwood forts. I can spend all day doing whatever I want. Because today they aren't going anywhere. They don't have to go to work, or spend the day up in their room studying for a test or reading a book for English. They don't have mounds of homework that keep them up later than I can wait and they won't be leaving for seminary at the crack of dawn. They won't have their heart in another place, preparing for a date, distracted by some lovely young lady.

Right now their time is mine. And though they can and often do drive me crazy with their bickering and mischief they are still my precious children that I love with all my heart. Sometimes I wonder if they wouldn't drive me as crazy if I'd just loosen up and take more time to have fun and enjoy them instead of letting myself get so stressed out about the house and the messes and all that I need to get done. What is wrong with me? Why am I so obsessive about cleaning? It's so hard for me to leave a mess and do something/ anything until I get it all cleaned up. Even when I do take time and spend it with the kids it's rarely without that nagging ticker in the back of my head thinking about how much time I can allot to sit and read some stories or play with Play-Doh, a game of chess, a tea party or color a picture. Why can't I just relax???
I get so frustrated with myself. I really need to be better at stopping and enjoying these moments.

Maybe that dream came to me for a reason. If it does come true (as I'm sure one day it will) the only thing that is going to comfort me as I'm missing my kids is to know that I enjoyed them while I could. Right now I know that I am not doing this and it fills me with guilt and pain when I think of the missed opportunities I'm leaving for my future self.

Today was the last day of school and the first day of summer break. I'm going to make more of an effort to be better in this area and try a little harder to catch up on preserving some memories (back blogging) and enjoy the experience of making even more whether I get to writing them down or not, I know they'll at least help me sleep better at night.