Confession of a Tired Mama

As a parent, I have my good days and my bad days.

And good moments and bad moments.

This one is about a little bit of both.

This morning Cooter woke up, as he is prone to do on weekday mornings, earlier than I would have liked for him to.  This is one of the perks of homeschooling.  We do not have to, and so we do not, start our days at oh dark thirty.

I heard him coming.  He’s not the quietest mouse in the house.  It was one of those split second parenting decisions that you can reflect upon later and and second guess or guilt yourself or wish you’d done it differently.  But in that moment–

you just react.

I reacted.

And closed my eyes.

I just wasn’t ready yet, y’all.

So when I heard him come in the room pretty much like the proverbial bull in that China shop, I remained still, as though I were still sleeping soundly.  He paused for a second when he came over to my side of the bed and saw me sleeping.  Then he got quiet and crept the rest of the way until I could feel his breath on my cheek.

“Awww, Mama’s so cute,” he whispered with the sweetest tone.  Then as my heart was about to bust with all the feels, he leaned over and tried to tickle my armpit, which he knows doesn’t work, and he left the room fairly quietly–at least for him.

Oh bless.

I opened my eyes and listened for clues as to what he was doing.

Ah.  Legos.  He was working on his birthday Lego set, the biggest one he’s ever done by himself to date.  He’s been diligent and methodical, and it’s been really cool to watch him as he works it out.

And so this morning when I exhibited parenting skills that could be labelled as “less than stellar,”  two things happened.  Two things that needed to happen, I believe.

First, I heard Cooter’s thoughts about me.  It’s funny how often I peek in on him sleeping and have that exact same thought–he’s so cute, adorable, precious.  For him to think that about me and for me to hear that, it blesses my heart and gives me all the warm fuzzies.  As we spend many of our days with me hounding him to get certain tasks done and him teasing me about being the “mean Mama,” this–that he sees someone other than a frazzled, worn out Mama–is a treasure.

Second, he went and occupied himself with a worthwhile task.  Without being told to.  He didn’t stay there and pick and poke and prod until I “woke up.”  He didn’t go and bother his sister until she got out of bed, hollering at him usually.  He didn’t scrape the stool across the kitchen floor to get his cereal or complain loudly about whatever was bothering him at the moment.  He sat and entertained himself and thoroughly enjoyed working a little more on his Lego set.  I’m really proud of him for that.

Tonight I’m thankful that tomorrow I get another chance to do better.  As a Mama and as a person.  Those new mercies every morning are everything–the real reason I’m able to get up in the morning, because I’ve shed the weight of all the missteps and misspoken words from the day before.  That grace is what helps me rise from slumber in the mornings.

But not too early.  This Mama is a night owl who needs those baby birds to sleep in just a little while longer.

Wishing you all the beauty of new mercies…..and for you to find out someone you care about thinks you are cute.

Love to all.

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Cooter and What Matters To Him

This evening Cooter, who has been a little puny with the sniffles today, came and sat next to me.  He wanted to show me a video he found.  This video showed row by row a display of every Star Wars Lego minifigure ever made.

EVER MADE.

TEN WHOLE MINUTES.

About two minutes in, as he was counting aloud and pointing out to me how many Yodas, how many Lukes, how many Stormtroopers, and so on, he looked up and said, “This might not matter to you, but it really matters to me.”

Then you know what, buddy?

It matters to me, too.

That’s pretty much how this whole things works.

A few minutes later (did I mention it was ten minutes long?) he pointed out Darth Maul in a Santa outfit.  Wait.  What?

“Nooooo, that is not okay,” I said.  A minute later there was Darth in a Santa suit.

“Well, that’s another guy I don’t want to invite to the house for Christmas.”

“Oh Mama, no.  He has some good inside of him. He really does.”

And in that moment, I loved Star Wars more than I ever had before.  Thank you, Star Wars, for teaching my son that there is good to be found even in the most broken of people and situations.  Thank you for helping him look for that and see it.

Tonight I’m thankful that my little guy still wants to sit next to me, and that he wants to share things with me that matter to him.  That is a gift which I am trying not to take lightly.  Even when the music begins to repeat over and over and I get dizzy from trying to read the nameplates underneath ten minutes of Lego minifigs.  I am thankful for that gift.

And just in case y’all have ten minutes and nothing AT ALL better to do, here’s the video so you can watch it too.

Wishing you all the eyes to see good in just about everybody.

Love to all.

Why I’m Lord Business and Other Lessons from The Lego Movie

The rule in our family is we celebrate birthdays for more than just the one day.  So Happy Birthday Weekend to my baby boy!

Today we went to Lego Building School with Bricks 4 Kidz.  After we went to lunch at his favorite pizza place.  He loves him some pizza, and we ALWAYS get our money’s worth with him.  The last of the fun planned was going to the movie theatre to see “The Lego Movie.”

But you probably saw that one coming, didn’t you?

I don’t want to spoil it for anyone in case you haven’t been able to rush out and see it in the two days it’s been released.  I think Cooter is fairly certain that this movie was released at this time JUST FOR HIM.  Well, why not?  I’m not telling him otherwise.

It was an interesting movie.  If your life has been inundated by Legos, Lego movies on-line, dreaming about Lego sets, and constantly hearing the newest set to make the wish list, then you will definitely get the little hidden bits of humor.  When one of the characters was looking around the area trying to build something, and she kept seeing set numbers next to different parts, that was hilarious.  Lego Star Wars made an appearance which thrilled all three of my children, and Billy Dee Williams played Lando, which I thought was really cool.

It was a little disconcerting during the violent parts, when I thought about how I would NOT be letting my littles watch such violence were it not just Lego parts flying around in the aftermath of one of the many attacks that were waged on the main characters.

The ending has a twist that surprised me, and without revealing too much, I felt very guilty over my claim that if I EVER lost my mind and bought Cooter one of the big (read expensive and MANY parts) Legos Star Wars sets, I would be supergluing it to keep him from tearing it apart.  I mean, all that time and energy–woe be the child who takes it apart, right?  Wrong, apparently.  Yes, I did feel guilty, like someone had been watching and listening to my thoughts on the subject.  I am Lord Business, and I don’t even have to take one of those “What character are you in The Lego Movie?” quizzes to see it.

The best part was a very small side story.  One of the main characters was a Legos 80’s astronaut named Benny.  A little scuffed but very enthusiastic guy.  Whenever the good guys needed something to get away in, he started building a spaceship.  Of course.  It’s just that the heroes were always looking for something else.  Benny would be so dejected.  Until the time finally comes.  He offers half-heartedly to build a spaceship, and after a moment of quiet, they all give him a definite YES!  He can hardly believe it, and he immediately gets to work.  In the span of ten seconds it’s built and they are soaring away to safety, with Benny calling out as incessantly as the seagulls in “Finding Nemo” (“mine” “mine” “mine”):  “Spaceship.”  “Spaceship.”  “Spaceship.”  “Spaceship.”  He is so excited it’s downright endearing.  We were all laughing gleefully with him.

Haven’t you ever had a moment like that?  When you’ve found something that you were good at, and you finally have your shot, and you do a great job with it?  Don’t you want to just shout it loudly and often what you have done?  Yeah, I have.  There’s nothing like that feeling, is there?

One other moment in the movie touched my heart and empowered me.  Poor UniKitty.  She was all about being positive and chipper and not letting all that was going on wrong around her bring her down.  She was the Pollyanna of the group.  I mean, she holds it together, stuffing all those emotions down inside, through some pretty harsh stuff.  (Good thing it was all Legos, because it got pretty intense.)  And finally, she is giving herself a pep talk at a point when all seems to be falling apart, and something clicks.  Gone are the rainbows and sparkles–it is time for “fight back with all you got and stand up for yourself and your friends” kickin’ attitude.  I cheered inside and clapped.  Good for her.  There comes a time, you know, even with the nicest of folks–a time to say, no more.  Enough.  I was glad to see her go there, to stand strong in the face of adversity.

Tonight I am thankful for the gift of spending time with family and enjoying special outings for a very special occasion.  Good stuff that.  I’m thankful for the privilege of going to the movies, and for entertainment that is creative and thought-provoking.  Most of all, I appreciate the good company we had today.  There is nothing like a good old family happening to celebrate the good things in life.

Love to all.

Lessons in Legos

pic of legos

Today we went to what my littles call “Lego Building School.”  It is put on by the local franchise of Bricks4Kidz, and my crew all love it.  It is a combination of free play building with all sorts of Legos and a mini-class, where they learn about something and then build a model according to the directions they are given.  In the past we have built mechanized spiders, a dragster, and a windmill.  Like most things, it is the people who run it who make it the most fun.  They love what they do, and they take the time to get to know the children there.

Last month the assigned project was a Venus Flytrap.  Thanks to the lesson about them, my two became interested in these fascinating plants again, and we are on the lookout for one.  We had my nephew with us that day, as my sister was in China and we asked my brother-in-law to let him join us.  My little man paired up with his Daddy to build the Venus Flytrap model.  My poor nephew was stuck with me.   It was a complicated model, complete with friction bushings and gears that had to meet just so.  Oh let’s face it, I was totally inadequate when it came to helping my sister’s baby boy with this.  In the end, he gave up on me and wandered off to test the one the teacher had built.  Correctly. Mine never would snap just right when triggered.  One of the instructors tried to correct whatever it was that I done incorrectly, bless her.  It was not salvageable.  I left with my head down, feeling like I had let my nephew down.  Though I don’t think he was much upset.  He still got his mini-fig that he built to take home and a lunch of pizza after.  I’m pretty sure he has let it go.

I only wish I could.

Today we arrived to find that we would be building two projects.  As my two were the only ones there (whoo hoo!), they handed my husband a kit.  One of the instructors asked if I would like one too.  The shame from last month overshadowing me, I said rather meekly, “Oh no, I don’t think so.”

However the other instructor, Mr. Tom, did not hear me.  He brought me a kit and a manual and told us we could start on our projects–a paper crimper.  Okay.  Sure.  I was very hesitant as I pulled out the 1 by 12 tech plates and bushings and so on.  But my confidence gained when my gears were moving together.  Could it be I was on the right track?  The Venus Flytrap in my mind whispered and giggled, “As if!”  Oh my.

But there it was.  The last step.  I was finished, and I was ready to attach the battery.  As I was the first one done, I had no idea exactly what it was supposed to look like.  I gave the switch a flip and voila!  It was running.  I was handed a pile of 1/4″ wide paper strips.  I ran one through.  Coolest. Thing.  Ever.  (or at least this morning)  So cool.  It came out all crimped up like those fancy strips you can buy to put in gift baskets or bags.  Awesome!  Win.  Soon all four of us were whirring paper through and laughing triumphantly.

Our Princess with her Lego paper crimper running smoothly

Our Princess with her Lego paper crimper running smoothly

Time to take it apart and build the second project–which was a stand for spiral art.  It spun a plate in circles while you held a marker in place.  Really cool art resulted.

As I was attempting to put the pieces back in their correct spot in the kit, I noticed a “Key to Difficulty” on the last page of the directions.  Wow, I thought.  I wonder how hard this one I just did was.  I was probably a little full of myself at this point, I have to admit.  I felt redeemed after last month’s failure.  I just wish my nephew had been there to see me.

I turned to the front cover.  A green dot.  What did that stand for?  I looked back.  Green dot.  Green dot.  Green.  Dot.  Oh my.  Easy.  (Facile)  Sigh.  My spirits sank.  I think I may heard the Venus Fly Trap snicker.  I tried to let that go, and I put the Spiral Art Stand together.  Again, no problem, and it was so much fun making the picture.  I did not even look at its level of difficulty.  I have a feeling I know.  And there is the looming feeling that perhaps my failure last month is the reason for this month’s projects’ levels of difficulty?

It was this evening when a couple of things came to mind.

If I had let last month’s failure keep me from participating this month, I would have missed out on an awful lot of joy this time around.  I mean, it was really, really fun.  Lesson #1.  As Mama and Daddy said, “Try, try again.”  (Or “When you fall off the horse, you have to get back on.” Literally, in my case.)  Pretty obvious, that one.  But for some reason I have to keep learning it.

When I saw the level of difficulty, I let some of the joy escape for a minute or two.  In a sense I was comparing myself to the “others” who set the skill level.  Daddy often said in his later years, “When you compare, you lose.”  Every.  Single.  Time.  Errahday.  Thank you, Daddy, for that reminder.  Lesson #2.

When we have failures, no matter how little, it is hard to get back in the game.  We tend to compare ourselves to how so-and-so or the generic “they” would have done it.   But I’m thinking tonight we should give ourselves grace in these situations.  Steps, even if they are baby ones, are still steps.  Some days that’s just as good as it can get.  And if we find joy in the “easy” or “simple,” so be it.  We should embrace that.  If it brings you joy, and it ain’t hurting anybody, don’t let anyone, especially not an old Venus Flytrap, tell you it’s not worth doing a jig over.  Take that joy and hold it close.  Joy don’t grow on trees, so when you do find some, treasure it.  Even if it’s VERY FACILE.

Joy and beauty with Legos.

Joy and beauty with Legos.