Bad Guys and Hurting People

We had a house full of fun little folks today.  They played and ran and talked and got to know each other in such a way that I am convinced the littles in this world should be in charge of peace negotiations.

They know what’s most important.

Like favorite colors, how to ask for what they really want, favorite Star Wars characters, how to share dressup clothes and stickers, and how to use their imaginations.  They are kind and even when it’s hard, they acquiesce and take turns when they are reminded that’s how we roll.

Yes.

At one point Cooter, all decked out in his shield and body armor and sword (thank you GW Boutique), came up behind me and announced in his “announcing” voice:  “I’m a bad guy.  I hurt people.”

And then he ran off.  To wreak havoc and make superheroes cry, I guess.

He’s a cute little guy, but he’s so much more–sometimes the words that come out of his mouth really make me think.

Like in this instance.

Because what has weighed on my heart today is that it’s not always the bad guys who hurt people.  Their feelings and emotions and sense of being okay.  In many cases, it’s the people we hold near and dear who really hurt us the most.  Or whom we hurt.  Without even thinking.

It’s sad.

The hurt that is caused by “bad” guys is bad, but the hurt that is caused by someone whom we think loves us–whether intentional or not–that pain goes much, much deeper.

And it takes a lot longer to heal.

I am glad that my seven-year old son sees the world in black and white right now.  It hasn’t been long since I realized there are all these shades of gray out there.  I have often heard and even quoted, “Hurting people hurt people.”  And while I think that’s true, I think it’s important to realize that not all hurting people are bad.  In fact many are good–they’re just going through something that is causing them heartbreak and pain, and that gets passed along.

Tonight I’m thankful for the words of my little guy that have me looking at my heart and thinking about the pain I’ve caused, some inadvertently and some, I’m ashamed to say, not.  I wonder how much longer before his world gets rocked and he figures out all who hurt others are not bad.

It’s a lesson I needed reminding of today.

Love to all.

 

 

 

Checking it at the Gate

One evening last week I took Cooter to swim lessons.  It was a quiet night since there had been no swim team practice earlier.  It was just the children taking lessons, and…..

a group of ladies about to get in the pool.

Our children taking lessons were in two of the three far lanes.  These ladies walked over and started getting in the first four lanes.  They spread out and all faced the one woman in the fourth lane.  That’s when it hit me–water aerobics.

They were all shapes and sizes and ages.  Some with hats and some without.  Some with bathing suits on and others with shirts and shorts covering up their suits.  Out of the eight or so women taking the class, it was obvious that for a couple of them it was their first time.

The lady leading the class was delightful.  Really.  She was full of energy and a joy for life.  She laughed as she talked and had her students change positions and movements.  She was so interesting and fascinating to watch that I found myself watching her and almost forgetting to watch Cooter as he swam and bobbed and floated on his back.  (Almost–I did keep track of what he was doing and watch each time it was his turn.)

The women in their rows talked amongst themselves.  As the teacher lifted her arms up, she laughed.  She pointed to her arms and the way they flapped a little more than maybe she’d like them to.  “Oh we don’t worry about any of that.  Just do it.  We all check our ego at the gate over there.  Don’t worry.  No one notices anyone else’s arms or anything.”

The gate.  A place to lay it all down and see where you can get without that heavy weight.

The gate. A place to lay it all down and see where you can get without that heavy weight of ego.

Wow.

I love this woman, you know?

Today I thought back to her and her class, hoping to catch a bit of her pep talk tonight during Cooter’s swim lesson.  Then I remembered she told the other ladies there wouldn’t be class tonight.  It’s her anniversary.  I hope she’s having a blast.  From what I saw of her passion for laughter and life, I am sure she is.

What would I do if I checked my ego at the gate?  If I wasn’t worried about failing?  About what others thought?  What would I venture out and try?  What would I say I could not live another moment without knowing about?  And would I go after that knowledge, that adventure…..if my ego wasn’t in the way?

Tonight I’m thankful for the water aerobics teacher who challenged me to step outside the box.  It’s not a comfortable place to be, but it is fascinating and mesmerizing.  I’m dreaming a little bit today just because of those words–no worries, egos are checked at the gate.  Yes.  That’s really good stuff right there.  What if?

I hope you all take a moment today and ask yourself that same question–what if you checked your ego at the gate?–and then dream big and start to work making that happen.  Imagine the adventures we all could be having.  All the things we could be doing…..

Love and wishes for big chase-able dreams to all.

Mama Instincts At Work

Tonight this Mama is thankful to be home.

With some answers.

Our day started out with our Princess coughing.  She can go from sniffles in the morning to full-blown asthma by nightfall, bless her.  She’s been doing a lot better with these times occurring less and less often.

But today the sound of her coughing was the first thing I heard this morning.  I checked her temperature around 10:30 and again at noon.  Both times it was doing what I expected.  Low grade and slowly rising.  When I checked it again mid-afternoon though, I felt like I’d won “Worst Mama of the Year” award.  It was high.  Higher than I ever remember it being.

And that was not okay.

I took her robe off of her in hopes of cooling her down some, and I called the number I’m supposed to call to get permission to take her to the doctor.  Imagine my surprise when the trained professional on the other end told me to wait it out.  She gave suggestions for home care, but bottom line was, “If it gets worse, call us back.”

This did not set well with me.  I once had a pediatrician tell me to trust my “Mama instincts.”  I really appreciated that, the fact that he valued my perceptions and concerns as an integral part of his taking care of my children.  So today, when I called thinking someTHING needed to be done to help my sick baby, and I was told to “wait it out,”  Mama’s instincts flew out the window and Anxiety Girl showed up.  She has quite the imagination, that one.  And she’s really good at making me panic.

I held it together though.  With the help of those who love us listening and reaffirming my concerns, I kicked Anxiety Girl to the curb, and me and my instincts made the decision to take our Princess in to be seen by a doctor. (Especially when the fever hadn’t broken four hours after taking medicine.) I made a call to the Med Stop to confirm they were still open. When talking with the nurse there, I explained what had been going on.  “Oh yes,” she said.  “Y’all need to come on now.”

They arm "banded" my sweet girl and sent us back very quickly tonight.  She was so worn out, she curled up on the table and went to sleep.  Bless her.

They arm “banded” my sweet girl and sent us back very quickly tonight. She was so worn out, she curled up on the table and went to sleep. Bless her.

And I’m glad we did.  I have a sick Princess, who did need medicine prescribed to get better.

I was worried and wanted her to get the help she needed to feel better so we went "as you are"--pajamas and all.

I was worried and wanted her to get the help she needed to feel better in a hurry so we went “as you are”–pajamas and all.

Poor girl.  I hurried her out the door so quickly, she grabbed my shoes to wear to the Med Stop.

Poor girl. I hurried her out the door so quickly, she grabbed my shoes to wear to the Med Stop.  Today was one of those “do what you gotta do” days.  (No, seriously, you should see all the dishes in my sink.  Ah well, they won’t grow legs and leave before the morning.  Unfortunately…..)

 

Tonight I’m thankful for folks who empower me and my “Mama instincts.”  I give thanks for a good doctor and kind staff who made my girl feel special, even when they had to do what she feared most–stick that swab down her throat.  I am thankful that I went with what I thought instead of waiting for a person to give me permission to be concerned.  And I’m grateful that what my baby has found the most comfort in today has been cuddling with me.  Even though she’s almost 10 and nearly as tall as I am, she still wants her Mama when she doesn’t feel good.  Tonight as we curl up on the couch, where apparently we’re sleeping tonight at her request, and watch late night programming on a channel where the shows are Mama-approved, I will smell her hair and kiss her forehead, and be grateful that we are here together.  And we are okay.  Or will be as soon as the medicine kicks in.

It’s time for this tired Mama to call it a night.  There is little that makes one feel as vulnerable as seeing his or her baby sick and miserable.  But first I want to make sure all you folks loving on your children hear this:  trust yourselves.  Ask questions.  You know your littles and big ones better than anyone.  Trust that.

Love to all.

 

before

for my friend whose Now and today is very hard…..

 

before

 

I’d be twelve, she said

Oooh, me too, twelve was great

I’d go back there in a heartbeat

to before

before

such magic in that word

marking two sides centered around that

one

event

one moment…..

one heartbreak

or joy

one celebration

or sorrow

one chipping away at a soul

or filling a heart to bustin’

one moment, two sides

before

and

Now

forever different, forever changed.

For the nows that aren’t so good,

for the sorrows and the pain and the tears

that are a part of this day

the before is a dream, a moment in time

our hearts yearn for–

a moment when all was whole

not broken

and hearts were beating in time

not against all odds

so different from this Now

with the tears and questions and longing

for

how it was

before,

not this fragmented and cracked

reality

with tears

and sadness

and worry

and all but a tiny flicker of hope

gone

Before

when our feet could carry us everywhere we wanted to go,

and our dreams were only as far away as the branches in the trees we climbed

or inside the pages of the book

tucked away under our pillows with the flashlight

for after lights out

and Now

that it is dark

in this moment

I long for the comfort of that cherished book

and old white flashlight that Santa brought,

when my only worry in life was my

sister

on the bottom bunk

threatening to tell Mama and Daddy

that I’m staying up late

reading

under the covers

 

 

 

Belonging With

Tonight I took a few minutes to catch up on the “news” on Facebook.  I saw yet another post from Humans of New York.  Remember I told y’all this photographer is travelling around the world on a UN World Tour?  Are you following Brandon and his adventures?  Oh, the lives he is touching with what he is sharing daily–and I’m one of them.

Earlier today Brandon the photographer shared that he would be at a park in Delhi this afternoon if anyone wanted to meet up with him.  I had forgotten about that invitation until this evening when I saw a picture he shared of a big crowd of people, some holding up signs and all looking happy to be there.

Brandon captioned the photo with these words:

Thanks to all of you who came to the meet-up in Delhi. It went about as well as a spontaneous meet-up could possibly go. Amazingly, we were able to have a pretty organized, calm speech. Until the very end, of course, when we ran from the police. Coolest part for me was when the police were looking for someone to blame for the crowd, and asked: “Who is he with?” And everyone screamed in unison:  “All of us!”
You can see the post for yourself here.
As I read those words once, twice, I looked at the joy in the picture.  I was moved.  I imagined what it must have been like for Brandon to hear those words said by everyone there–“All of us!”  He belongs with all of us.
Wow.
A couple of days ago, when I wrote my letter to Disney, one of my friends shared it on her Facebook page.  She prefaced it by saying, “Yes!  What my girl just said!”
That humbled me and moved me to tears.  “My” girl.
It’s what we all really want, isn’t it–or is it just me?  Don’t we all want to belong with someone?  To be claimed as one of their own?
The word “with” is powerful–belonging to and belonging with are two totally different things.
With is alongside, with is a partnership, with is taking care of each other and sharing the journey. With is having a place, a spot.
With is belonging.
Is there someone who needs to hear that they belong with you?
Tonight I’m thankful for Brandon’s journey and all of the stories and photos he has shared.  They have opened up my eyes and heart to so many stories I never would have known before.  And I give thanks that he and all of his friends in the park today helped me recognize exactly what it is that my heart and soul needs to feel so very much–to belong with, to be claimed.
May you all have someone who, when the world asks, “who does this person belong with,” raises their hand and calls out at the top of their lungs–“ME!”
Love and belonging to all.

Watching for Wonky Waves

I am my Mama’s daughter.

And yesterday evening, I could have sworn I heard my Daddy laughing over just that, and my Mama in her “pretending to be offended” tone telling him to “stop that right now.”

A moment that made me smile.

Folks told my Mama their stories.  Friends.  Family.  Complete strangers.  Especially complete strangers.  (Actually I’m not sure she ever met one of those.  She could talk to anyone, and she usually did.)  In her they found a great listener with a compassionate heart and a gentle touch.  A safe place to land with what was weighing on their minds.

I got a call back on my query about an item for sale yesterday.  In a few short minutes, I learned why the call had not been made sooner and quite a bit about their family and the sadness in their hearts right now.  Oh me.  Such sweet and kind people, having to deal with the pain of losing someone they love.  In those few short minutes, I heard their story and we became forever connected.  Our stories intertwined.

After I got off the phone and was thinking of these folks, that was when I heard my Daddy laughing.  He used to say, “That’s your Mama.  She’ll talk to anybody.  And they’ll tell her everything.”

Tonight I sat on the top bleacher enjoying the slight breeze as the sun faded away and Cooter tested his swimming skills and learned how to improve them.  The breeze, the hushed sound of water splashing, and children playing.

There were other parents sitting close enough to strike up a conversation.

And many nights I have.  It seems like the thing to do, you know?

But tonight I didn’t.

I hope they didn’t think I was rude.  I chose instead to watch my swimmer boy and listen.  To nothing.  A quick sideglance told me one parent was working Sudoku puzzles and the other was on his phone.  So maybe they never even noticed the lack of conversation.  Or maybe they too were in need of it.

The quiet.  (relatively speaking anyway)

My view this morning.  I didn't want to leave it and start the day.

My view this morning. I didn’t want to leave it and start the day.

This morning when I woke up, I lay there for a while.  I was loath to get up and break the morning open.  My soul needed the peace found only in the quiet and the listening.  When I finally did get up and moving, the day was off with a bang and full of stories.  Hard ones.  With the occasional not so hard. But yeah.  Mostly hard.

People are hurting all over, you know?

And they need someone to listen.

But sometimes it’s all too much.  And every now and then I need not to listen to the stories.  And instead I need to listen to the peace in the quiet.  The calm.  I need balance.

And as I sat there tonight, wonky waving every now and then to the little guy with the toothless grin (oh how sad will I be when he begins to wave like everyone else) to let him know, “I see you.  Way to go.  You are doing just fine–I’m proud of you for trying!  Keep on keeping on,” I was listening.

And you know what I think I was hoping to hear–this just occurred to me right now.

Those exact same words.  From the One who is always near, always wonky waving to me when I’m willing to notice.

“I see you.”

“You are doing just fine–I’m proud of you for trying!”

and then–

“Keep on keeping on.”

Oh the blessing in those words.  The comfort.  The assurance.  That I’m on the right path.  That maybe I haven’t veered off as far as I thought.

It’s not always easy, this journey, is it?

But as I turned to climb down off the bleachers, collect my boy, and head home, this is what I saw, waiting, wonky waving at me, this child who needs to be seen.  Who needs the peace and comfort that comes with the “I see you–you are doing okay.”

 

A little wonky wave can do a lot for the heart and soul.

A little wonky wave can do a lot for the heart and soul.

 

And tonight I’m thankful for this.  And for all the wonky waves I get.  I am loved.  Sometimes I just need to be reminded.

Love and wonky waves to all.

Hard Questions over Spilled Milk

Yesterday I was trying to hurry and give my littles snacks.  We were heading out on our activities du jour, and it was going to be a while before they’d get to eat again.  I served up the last of the brownies and a glass of milk.  As I reached across the sink to the counter to place a glass of milk where Cooter was about to sit with his brownie, I turned the whole thing over.

Oh me.  But no crying, right?

I was actually calmer than usual, especially considering that we were running behind and needed to be out the door pretty quick.  And they still had to have a snack.  AND I had to clean up milk for miles–on the counter, under the counter, on the wall under the counter, on the stool, under the stool, on the rungs of the stool, and alllllllll over the floor.  While trying to keep Miss Sophie from getting into it and attempting to appease Cooter’s hurt feelings based on the assumption that he would now get NO milk.

Sigh.

As I was cleaning it up, our Princess, the peacemaker (well unless she’s having it out with her brother–been one of THOSE weeks around here), who was trying to grab up anything she could find to help clean it up, said in her soothing voice to her upset brother, “Don’t be upset, buddy, Mama didn’t mean to do that.  It’s just sometimes, well, God has other plans.”

Huh.  Well then.  Huh.

So I went with it.  Maybe because I was standing on my head cleaning up milk (did I mention FOR MILES?) or maybe because I was just curious to see where she was going.  Probably both.

“So God planned for me to spill this milk?”

Cooter laughed at that idea.

Princess, who had come around to the messy side of the counter, shook her head.  “Well no, see, I mean, God knows everything that’s going to happen.”

“So God knew I was going to spill the milk, then?”  One swipe, two swipe, almost done.  I stood up.

She looked at me, her eyes wide.  She sighed.  “Why do I think I’m saying it all wrong right now?”

I laughed and hugged her and let her know it was okay.  I don’t know, girl, there are no easy answers.

That’s something we talked about on Sunday night in Evening Prayer.  Hard questions.  And that sometimes, just maybe, we won’t get the answers here.  Or now.  If ever.  And one person pointed out something that my Aunt has suggested to me about Heaven, “Maybe, when we do get there, it won’t matter anymore.”  I shudder to think.  As much as I want to know the things I want to know, it pains me to think I will be able to let it go so easily.  I guess that’s the peace that passes all understanding they talk about though, isn’t it?

Hard questions.  From our children.  What do we do with those?

I found out that a family that my oldest and I both know and love lost their youngest son, not even two years old, in a tragic accident.  I told Aub, unsure if she would see it on social media, and I didn’t want her to find out that way.  She was visibly shaken.

“Mama, it’s already been a rough day and now this.  This sends me over the edge.  My heart breaks for them.”

“I know.  I know.  Mine too.  I’m so sorry.  I just didn’t want you to find out another way.”

We were both quiet for a moment.

“You know,” she said. “They packed up everything, sold most of it, and headed out to do what they felt God was calling them to do.  And now this?  What the heck?  It just doesn’t make sense. Why?  Why did this happen?”

Why indeed.   I had nothing to offer her.  But an ear and heart to listen to her questions.  And echo them in my own.

I’ve found that my children’s questions don’t get any easier as they get older, and neither do mine.  We’ve had some doozies in the past three or four years.  And they still remain unanswered.

I got nothing.

Except that I’d rather they stay unanswered than someone give me an answer that they think should make me be okay with everything that has happened.

There are just some things you might have to accept–yes this happened–but there are things that I can never be okay with.  Doesn’t mean I lose my faith completely, just maybe it hits a bump in the road and needs time.  Lots of time.

Hard questions.  How can I be thankful for those?

I guess tonight I’m thankful that my children ask these of me, with me, and that we can sit in the dark together, asking and wondering.  But together.  Always together.

Love to all.