When You Can, Do This

The Fella went on a trip to do the do that he does.  For three and a half weeks.  He was scheduled to come home today.

He did not come home as scheduled.

I’ve had this day circled in my mind, my heart, and with everything that has gone wrong around here–I’ve counted down the days.

The backed up kitchen sink.

The brand new washing machine flooding water on the laundry room floor.

The vacuum cleaner belt broken.

The dryer running hot, and therefore, not at all.

Each thing, I’d say–we can do this.  For 21 more days, fifteen, ten, six, two, and then yesterday morning I woke up thinking, “One more day.”

I almost cried.

We’ve had some good times while he’s been gone.  Cooter tried out and made the swim team.  The littles wrapped up their summer gymnastics fun.  Aub got an A in her summer class, and worked out continuing her summer job she loves so much as a Fall internship.  We’ve visited with friends and family and eaten breakfast for supper and lots of yogurt and pizza.  We’ve gone and gotten peaches, and I’ve put nearly all of them up in the freezer.  The littles have played at their cousin’s, and Aub and I’ve had a couple of “Big Girl” days.  All in all, we’ve not only survived, but we’ve lived.

However, this day, today, that I had circled in my mind, was the day I was going to pass the reins over to another adult and sit down and take a long needed deep breath.  (Oh and someone else would be taking out the garbage. Yay.)

Yesterday afternoon, after the crew and I had been out running errands, doing our day to dailies, I was tidying up in the house a little.  The littles and Aub were scattered around the rooms, doing different things, when the phone rang.  Our Princess answered, calling out that it was Daddy, and then she talked for a minute or two.  After that she handed the phone to Cooter.  I was back and forth between the room they were in and the kitchen.  When I walked back in, Cooter was off the phone.

“Did you hang up?”  He can get easily distracted, so it would have been like him to be so distracted his Daddy would say he’d just call back later.

“No,” Cooter said.  “He said he had to go.”

Huh.  Well, that was weird.  He didn’t want to talk to me?!  I was working up my indignation, when Anxiety Girl whispered that maybe the plane had broken down and he was trying to come up with a way to tell me he wouldn’t be home on time.

I walked back into the kitchen and heard Aub coming in from the garage.  I wondered why she’d gone out there.  I also wondered why she was closing the door so carefully instead of tossing it shut like she and I usually do.  I was about to call her out for doing that, saying that it made me think the Fella had come home early, when I realized I saw her feet in the recliner.

And I saw my Fella standing in the doorway.

With the biggest grin on his face.

We don’t have to go into detail about my expression (goofy), but the only words I could get out were, “What are you doing here?”

And then chaos and laughter and “gotcha’s” ensued.

Seems that the original return home date was only for the first few days of him being gone.  It was then backed up to Friday and had been for about three weeks.

And he kept the secret this whole time.  Every time I’d say “so, Saturday the 2nd, right?” calculating how much more I could handle without losing my cool or how I could do laundry considering and so on–he would reply, “Yep, if the plane takes off on time.”

Ha.

That man had the biggest grin on his face the whole afternoon and evening.  Pretty pleased with himself he was.  At one point I looked over, glad he was home–he had already fixed the dryer, thank goodness–and I asked, “What were you even thinking?”

And he said, “Well, I figured you were due for a good surprise.”

Yessir.  I think I pretty much was.  We all were.  And that he struggled to keep his secret for that long (and believe me, as much as I asked him about it–and even three days ago said “just go get on a plane and come home early”–it had to have been a struggle) makes it pretty awesome.

Tonight I’m thankful that all that fell apart while he was gone, including emotions and worries and vacuum cleaners, have all pretty much been repaired.  Now we are all catching up on sleep and preparing to say goodbye to summer together.

Which is really when we are at our best.  When we’re together–all five of us.  Oops, six–sorry, Miss Sophie. I’m pretty sure she thought something really bad had happened to him the way she refused to let me out of her sight.

If you ever get a chance to give someone a good surprise, big or small, do it.  Please.  There are far too few of those in this lifetime.

Wishing you all something that makes you smile so much you just about can’t stop.

Love to all.

Oh My Heart

Today I was going over some of his Grammar/Literature work with Cooter.  In one lesson the concept of “cause and effect” was presented, and there were opportunities to talk about it in the context of stories.  Then he was given a situation and he had to think and write about possible causes.

The first one made me sigh and laugh:

Your brother or sister is crying.  Cooter wrote:  because Princess hit her  

(He and his older sister have been at odds lately.)

The next one was very, very true, but it rarely happens (the cause he described, that is):

My mother and father are very happy.  Cooter wrote:  because I cleaned my room

Yeah, buddy.  We sure would be.  *hint hint*

It was the last one that made my heart hurt.

You have a new shirt or dress to wear.  Cooter wrote:  to the feunerlale

translate:  to the funeral

Oh bless.

He didn’t know how to spell it, but he knows what it is.  All too well.  From way too early an age.  New shirt.  New shoes.  More than likely a funeral is happening. Or about to.

Tonight I’m thankful for these insights into my child’s mind.  And heart.  It is a privilege that I don’t take lightly.  But I do wish my children didn’t know so much about pain and loss.  Especially when tonight, just before supper, my little guy looked and me and said, “I want to call Maemae and Cap.”

If only…..

Hug your people.  Tell ’em you love ’em.  Hold on tight for as long as you can.

Love to all.

Turn That Music Down!

This morning Cooter took his math and headed to his room.

Where he started playing one of his CD’s.

At full volume.

And, for the first time with this boy child, I heard myself hollering, “Turn that music down!”

For the love.

He’s eight, y’all.

He really needs to rein it in.  What do I have to look forward to when he’s fifteen if he peaks now?

He says the music helps him do his math quicker.  As I walked in to make sure he heard me over the music, he looked at me and said, “See I’m already done with one page.  It does make me work quicker.  My brain works better with music.”

Oh me.

It’s been one of those kinds of days.  The ones where time is passing by so quickly I feel as though I am on a Merry Go Round, watching the world continuing to go on around me.  And in some respects, without me.

When did the little guy whom I cuddled his first night on this earth and promised all the good things to turn into this music loving, dancing, singing, Star Wars expert, silly joke loving, mischievous, passionate little man?

I don’t even know, y’all.

But I’m going need for time and my children to slow down.

Wishing you all a moment to step off the Merry Go Round or roller coaster or log flumes and just be.  Still.  In the moment.  Stay there for as long as you can.  Because I’m learning we can’t stop it from passing–but maybe in appreciating each moment a little more, we can slow time’s passing down.

Love to all.

My Happy Place

Instagram with all its captured photos is my happy place.  I do not follow many folks, and I rarely post myself.  Most of the people whom I follow are creative and joy-filled.

All the loveliness.

There’s no arguing over what issue is most important or which candidate is going to do what.

There’s no heartbreaking stories or upsetting attitudes.

It’s just lovely.  Because I won’t let it become anything else.

Occasionally a comment, if I let myself slip up and read one (I usually avoid the comments section), will make me a little crazier than normal.  Like one day the brilliant Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery wrote a brave post, baring her soul about brokenness and loving folks through that, and someone commented, “Girl, your arms are rocking!  How do you keep them looking like that?”

I am sure you all heard my eyes roll and my sigh from wherever you were, though you might have wondered what it was.  Seriously, that’s what they got from her beautiful words?  Her arms?

There are a couple of witty folks I follow over there.  One is Pick Your Plum.  It’s a shop with interesting things–the items change on a regular basis, but I mostly follow because the person behind it is very clever.  I love her sense of humor.

Yesterday she posted this.

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It’s funny, right?

But I’ve been thinking on it today, and I realize that yes, sometimes doors close simply because the wind was blowing or someone closed it on their way out or the floor is slanted and gravity pulls it shut on a regular basis.  Or maybe they were raised by someone like my Mama who said, on a regular basis, “Close the door–you’re letting out all the bought air.”  A closed door doesn’t always MEAN something.  Sometimes it’s okay to go over and open it again.  And make it work.

In the words of my folks, time to “keep on keepin’ on.”

And that’s what so many of my days are like sometimes.  Yours too, I imagine.  We just keep on going, pushing through, getting things done the best we can, even though…..

we’re tired.

we’re worn out.

we’re overwhelmed.

we’re sad.

we’re lost.

we’re confused.

we’re broken.

we’re lonely.

we’re just not sure what else to do.

So we keep on going.

Good for you.  And me.

When that door shuts, let’s open that sucker back up and keep on as planned.  Doing the best we can.

I guess if it shuts again, then maybe I’ll take it as a sign.  But sometimes it just means we need to go about opening it a different way.

May we all find something that makes us laugh and a friend to hold the door open for us today.

That’s the thing about doors, isn’t it?  They’re a little easier to go through when there’s more than one of us heading that way.  We can help each other through.

Love and laughter to all.

falling in love again

I love waking up to the bright light of early morning
and walking outside to an already hot day
and smelling the smells of cut grass or water from
rain or sprinklers, evaporating in the sun.

I love sandwiches for lunch
with a side of pineapple
or fresh peaches,
pimento cheese has grown on me over the years.

I love the look and glorious smell
of fresh-picked squash cooking
in the cast iron skillet on the stove.
Or the sound of peas cooking in the bubbling water,
bouncing them around, tossing them to and fro
until they are tender and done.

I love afternoon naps in the heat of the day
and damp towels left over from water play
or dips in friends’ pools.

I love the angle of the sun through the windows
at 4:30 in the afternoon. That’s the time my Daddy
always came home, the same time he went Home.
That light is spectacular.

I love the way children emerge from their homes
to play and ride bikes and run up and down the sidewalk,
their little legs pumping and jumping,
when the sun starts its journey downwards behind the trees.

I love the way the frogs start to come out
and sing their songs as evening comes to visit. Their songs
a serenade the breeze dances along to, teasing all around
with moments of believing it might one day be cool again.

I love the bathwater warm muggy nights, when sweat collects
and drips on little heads and big
and how, even though we are all hot and sweaty, we are loathe
to climb off the back of the pickup trucks where we sit and visit
to go inside.

I love the cool air that hits my face and the comfort of a warm shower
to wash the day away.
Or a cool one, the boy says that helps when he’s itchy from
rolling in the grass and talking with the bugs
as they crawl back home to rest.

I love all the hot and humid days and evenings and nights that
barely relieve us from the heat of noon. I love bare feet on warm
grass and the smell of sunshine on puppies and tomatoes off the vine.
I love sweating as I stand and laugh with friends, passing the evening sharing
stories and recounting adventures of days gone by.

It was as though I had forgotten all of this,
grumbling, staring wide-eyed at the dashboard thermometer, until–
this evening as I carried out the trash, I took a deep breath
of heavy summer air,
and I remembered my love
for Georgia summers
and all the stories she has shared with us.

I looked up at the stars, nearly visible,
and I remembered–people and stories–hot summers
spent with people I love.

They are gone,
but she remains with me
and holds me close
as I stand with her and
remember.

earthworms on the sidewalk

one foot in front of the other
as the sun rises
and the steam does too
up from the paved sidewalks
winding along as
the road’s amenable companion

there are worms all over
and I step around them
respectfully
avoiding the carcasses
as most are already dead
though it’s not even nine

occasionally I come across one
still wiggling
trying to escape the heat
that attempts to take its life
I feel pity and if there is a stick
or leaf
around
I will lift it up and toss it in the grass
in the hopes that it will live another day

but if there is no stick
or leaf
I leave them to their fate
their life dependent on nothing more
than a speedy belly crawl
and a good sense of direction

why do I do that?

is a slimy hand too much to pay
to save a life?

I feel for them
winding their way in the darkness
the feel of the pavement cool and different
than the grass of home
seemingly a harmless, adventurous choice

and yet
in the light of day
the truth comes out
as does the heat
and lives are lost

some days I am like the worm
and I give thanks for those
who take a stick
or a leaf
and lift me out of the mess
I’ve crawled into

and some even use their hands
taking mine into their own
leading me safely home

By Elizabeth Ann Colette (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Elizabeth Ann Colette (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Payphone–the Song and the Questions

This evening on the way home, this song came on the radio.  My little guy can read the title and artist of songs from way back where he sits in the vehicle.  When he saw this one, the conversation that ensued–well, I suppose I should have been prepared for it to come up eventually, but I was not.

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Nevertheless, it made me laugh.

Cooter (as soon as the name came on the screen): What’s a payphone?

Huh.  Now why didn’t I see that one coming?  So obvious, right?

Me:  Well, what do you think it sounds like it is?

Cooter: A phone.  You have to pay to use.

Me:  Yes.  Exactly.

Cooter:  How long could you talk when you paid?

Me (using words I haven’t used in a long time): Well, it depends if you were calling long-distance or not.

Cooter:  What’s long distance?

Ha.  Yep.  Here we go. He can be a question machine sometimes.  

Me: It’s when you call someone outside your calling area.

Cooter: So how long could you talk when you called long distance?

Me:  You know, I’m not really sure.  Not for very long anyway.  And you had to stand in one place when you were talking on a payphone.  There was no walking around.  No going wherever you wanted while you were talking.

And that’s when it hit me.  How far we have come.  How very, very far. My children have no idea what it’s like to have to plan a call around when you had time to sit in one place.  They live in a world of smart and smarter phones and devices and asking for wifi passwords, for goodness’ sake.

I remember calling my folks from a payphone at the movie theater to ask if we could see a second movie before coming home.  I remember calling from one to let them know we had arrived safely at our destination.  I remember scrounging for quarters to make a call, and then hearing the dreaded voice telling me how much time I had left in the conversation. No such thing as unlimited minutes back then.

Tonight I’m thankful for a world where communication is so much easier.  And yet it frightens me as well.  With great privilege comes great responsibility.  With all this communicating at my children’s fingertips, there’s also great potential for miscommunication.  I hope they strive to rise above that, and that they use all this potential for interaction for the good.  Of their relationships, community, and our world.

Interesting that a trip down Memory Lane can come simply from the chance playing of a song on the radio.

Love to all.

“Pay phone”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pay_phone.jpg#/media/File:Pay_phone.jpg