The One Thing They Never Told Me

On my out and abouts and errand running yesterday, I found myself in the Getting Place looking for a birthday present and picking up some things that we needed around the house.  I was walking past the endcaps in the baby section and I saw these.

img_1413

Adorable.  Right?

Yes.  They are too cute.  Robes.  For those little bitty babies with their little bitty toes and precious little smiles and coos.  Robes.

Don’t do it, people.

I can just about guarantee you that every Mama to be with that clicky gun thing in their hands, creating their gift registry for that very first baby shower–she’s clicking on THAT.  Yes, she has to have that little robe.

Oh me.

I remember (over twenty years ago) when Aub was a little bitty 3 week old baby.  We went and stayed with my folks for a few days.  One afternoon while we were there, Daddy noticed that she was still wearing the same thing I’d put on her after her bath the night before.  (One of those rare days when a wardrobe change was not necessary every three or four hours.  Ahem.)  He teased me and pointed out I used to change my baby dolls more often than I changed my live one.

Yessir.  And there’s a reason for that.

All those precious toes?  And fingers?  And hands and arms and feet and legs?
They wiggle.

All.  The. Time.

They make changing clothes and getting dressed after baths a very difficult undertaking.  It’s the epitome of “take two steps forward and twenty-five back…..” or something like that.

So why for the love of everything little and wiggly–why on earth would you want to add in one more change between bath and pajamas?

Trust me on this.  If you are a parent to be, go ahead and click the little clicky gun on the bathrobe.  Open the wrapped present, because people WILL buy it for you and not tell you the truth of it all, and oooh and ahh over it.  Wash it and hang it up in your little bathroom.  But please.  Do not pressure yourself to use it.  You will be functioning on little sleep, you will be so tired that bathing your little one and keeping that slippery little love above water will take all you have within you.  So use the hooded towel, the cute one with the duck face or name embroidered on it–use that to wrap up your little bundle of joy–no arms or legs tucked anywhere required.  Then go straight from A to Z.  Diaper and pajama that wee one and move on to the next thing.  Trust me.  The robe is cute, but making the effort to get it on–and then off again–and then into pajamas?

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

I share this only because I care.  And I wish someone had told me that.

Before the cute little yellow ducky robe that I just had to have.

Learn from my mistakes.  Pick your battles.  And trying to get your little wiggle worm dressed is only the beginning of those.  Don’t make it harder than it has to be.

img_1414

And y’all don’t even get me started on this one.  Just NO.  LET THEM BE BABIES FIRST.  PLEASE.

Love and laughter to all.

 

In the Waiting and Uncertainty

Yesterday I was at the Getting Place getting some “stuff,” and this gave me pause.

Black jelly beans.  They were Daddy's favorites.

Black jelly beans. They were Daddy’s favorites.

And made me a little sad.

The Easter Bunny brought us jelly beans every year, tucked in our green plastic grass that was put away in a bread bag every year for safekeeping until the next Easter.  And every year, I would dig through and pull out the black ones first thing.  And pass them to my right.  Where my Daddy sat at the end of the table.  They were his favorites, and little on Easter morning brought me as much joy as giving him these favorites of his.

This was in the day before they bagged the black ones separately all by themselves. Once they started doing that, I usually picked a bag up for him–sometimes for Easter, sometimes just because.

He’d keep the bag with a twist tie on it, and it would be stored in the little wooden box that sat by his recliner in the living room.  Daddy would pull out the bag, untwist it, pour a few in his palm, and eat the licorice flavored sweets.  Then he’d twist the bag back up, and tuck it away until his sweet tooth called out for them again.

I read something years ago about Holy Saturday, which is upon us now.  That first Saturday–the day after Good Friday.  It was described as a day of waiting, of uncertainty, of in-between.  A day of not knowing.

I think back to the time after Daddy was diagnosed with Lymphoma, his Giant to fight, in 2009.  So much of that time felt just like that–waiting, being uncertain, weeping for what we were most afraid of, feeling in-between, longing for resurrection in the form of good news–remission, a cure, a misdiagnosis, a miracle, something, anything.

What I didn’t know or see at the time is that in those moments of waiting, there were many small moments of redemption and life-affirming joy.  In the midst of the fear, there was faith.  In the grasping for answers, there was hope.  In the moments of worry and sadness, there was laughter and light in his eyes, his voice, his stories, and his words.  In those moments of being in-between, the who we were with conquered where we were.

And that’s as it should be, isn’t it?  Even in the hardest of situations, because of who I was with, I was able to get through the where and the what, and move beyond with a tad bit of hope and a whole lot of love.

Daddy’s jelly beans.  A precious memory.  But what makes it so special is the memory of his hand held out to accept what I offered from mine.  The smile on his face, acting like he was surprised that I didn’t want them myself.  The way his eyes lit up when he bit into the first one every year.  Daddy loved black jelly beans–he loved us even more.  And in the waiting, in the uncertainty, it was that love that conquered all.

May your waiting find you surrounded by those who love you, and may you find the joy and peace of Easter waiting for you on the other side.

Love to all.

 

Tea Olives and Tales and Teasing

The littles and I went to visit our “Pirate” at my alma mater–her college today.

I am not old enough to have a daughter in college.  Seriously.

When I started school and began first grade, I had Mrs. Partain and Mrs. Crouch.  Most of my time was spent with Mrs. Partain.  Everyday before I left for school, Daddy would tease me and say, “I’m not old enough to have a daughter in first grade.  You need to tell your teacher that.”  And every afternoon when he came home, he asked, “Did you tell your teacher I’m not old enough to have a daughter in first grade?” And everyday I said no.  Until one day in the spring, I surprised him.  I answered, “Yes.”  When he got over the shock, he asked what she had said.  “She laughed.”  Which made him laugh too.

He was 31.  Way younger than this Mama of a college student.

We wandered around the campus.  Do I miss it?  Yes.  I told my oldest last night that I would so “Freaky Friday” her in a heartbeat.  Those were good days.  (Only I probably didn’t recognize it each and every day.)

It’s home.  So many landmarks. So many memories. The fountain I got thrown into every birthday I had my four years there and when I was engaged.  (My friends weren’t crazy or mean–it’s a tradition.) And the place where my husband and I married almost twelve years ago.   The window to my freshman dorm room (turns out it was across the hall from where our resident ghost hung out–I did NOT know that at the time–thank goodness), my sophomore dorm room, and the manhole cover I’d always walk over because I like to hear the echo.  The window to the office of our favorite professor, who was known to poke his head out if he heard us calling.  The building where I learned how to fail and try again.  The pond where I rode the paddleboat with a classmate from India and she read my palm.  I could go on and on with the memories.  They’re all still there.

As we were heading back to our girl’s dorm and maybe for a walk by the pond, it hit me.  That smell. I sniffed again.  Intently.  I turned around.

“What are you doing, ‘Dre?” she asked.

“Tea olive.  I smell tea olive.”  As I turned completely around I saw it.  It was so big I had dismissed it as being a tea olive.  We went over and soaked it in.

Soaking in the smell of the tea olive

Soaking in the smell of the tea olive

There is NO smell I love better on this earth than the smell of a tea olive.  Except for maybe a clean baby smell.  I don’t know, it might be a tie.  I wish I could bottle it up and take it everywhere with me.

Years ago Daddy planted one at the house, Blackberry Flats.  The first time it blossomed and I smelled it, I found myself drawn to it, soaking it in.  I told Daddy that I hoped Heaven smells just like that.  It is the most perfect scent there is on God’s green earth.  Hands down.

Daddy's tea olive at Blackberry Flats

Daddy’s tea olive at Blackberry Flats

When we moved to our house here, there was one planted on the side of the house.  I just noticed it blooming the other day.  The scent hits you first as the blossoms are tiny.  Then you see them.  Precious.  In the midst of all the chaos of the past year, my wise gardener friend brought me one, knowing how much I love them, and planted it where I can smell it from the rocker on my porch.

When Daddy died, we were so fortunate to have a kind and witty and compassionate funeral home director work with us.  She asked about a spray.  We had no idea but knew that Daddy wouldn’t have wanted anything fancy.  She suggested we take cuttings from greenery at the house to the florist to be worked into it.  I remember well that crisp fall day, my Aunt and I out cutting small branches from the cedar that had come from their parent’s farm over thirty years ago and from that tea olive.  It turned out beautifully and it meant so much.  Daddy had planted and tended to both of those trees over the years.

So it was that in March of last year, on Daddy’s birthday, our first without him here, Mama and the crew and I took Daddy’s shovels and went out to the little country church where they both are buried now, and we dug a hole and planted a tea olive there.  It was not an easy task–us and the shovels vs. Georgia red clay.  I spent a whole lot of time getting to know that tea olive last year.  Mama saved her milk jugs, and she or I would haul eight gallons out there twice a week to water it all through the dry summer.  I spent a lot of time out there pouring water into the big bucket with slow draining holes my wise gardener friend had loaned us.  As I poured I talked to Daddy.  The conversations were private, but suffice to say, there weren’t always happy and grace-filled.  There were times I just wanted to lay down out there and give up, I missed him so much.  There were days the sky was filled with angry clouds gathering, but much like me, they were all talk and no rain fell, so still I watered.  I knew how to look for new growth on the tree because my Daddy had taught me, so I was pleased when I saw some, and I pointed it out to him.

I love the smell of a tea olive.  I think I may have to go out there and see how it’s doing.  I haven’t worried much about it with all this rain we’ve had this summer.  And it’s seemed harder to go out there lately.  But if there’s the promise of blossoms and that smell, well, that might just change everything.

I hope the smell will bring comfort to my children just as it has for me.  And maybe my oldest will find herself walking out of her way to sniff the tree that very likely was planted about the time I was there, oh-quite-some-time-ago.  And I think that would be just fine.  It is my hope that she too will take root there and grow and hopefully bless the world as she blossoms into who she is becoming.  I’m already seeing new growth in her too.  And though it’s not easy, what follows, just like the scent of the tea olive, will be downright beautiful and worth every bit of the effort.  I promise.