Thursday, January 28, 2016

It's Wednesday

Like everybody else, I have different groups of friends.  People from different places and different times and different interests.  I met up with one of those groups for dinner Tuesday night.  We all go way back to junior high and high school.  Back to acne, bad hair, and toxic levels of awkwardness.  We get together a couple of times a year which is too infrequent since we live right here in the same town.  But, life has its way of building up speed and before you know it, it's been too long.

We've tried to stay in contact through the years.  The college years.  The newlywed years.  The birthing years.  The play date years.  And on and on and on until now we're either all snug in our empty nests or we've got one foot over in it.  We're having our 30th class reunion this year.  I remember when that was something old people went to.   

Our conversations have changed through the years.  From weddings to labor to potty training to teenage smart mouths.  Now, we talk about the crazy cost of college, aging parents, and health issues that are beginning to creep in on us.  Time passes and it changes what's on our minds.

We met early.  The tables around us filled up......and emptied......and filled up again.  And we just kept sitting.  And laughing.  And talking about this place where we are now.  We watched people coming and going and passing outside the window by our table but we were just content to sit there and enjoy the coziness of friends until the whole place had cleared out.  Just a few old friends, who were all passing the same mile marker, talking about the journey.  Texts and phones and social media can never replace the sight of a friend across the hard as we might try, sometimes. 
Time passes differently now than it did.  When I was a kid, it seemed like Christmas would never get here.  The month of December was just shy of an eternity as I thumbed through the Sears Christmas catalog.  Every day, I'd carefully watch the time in class waiting on three o'clock to come and the second hand on the classroom clock seemed to move at a painfully slow pace.  When I was a teenager, I thought the weekend would never arrive.  So many exciting plans but it dragged its feet and was never fast enough to suit me. 

Now, before I get up good, it's time to go back to bed.  One Monday turns into the next Monday.  Seasons change every couple of weeks.  It's hard to keep track of which birthday you're celebrating when they're spinning like a top.  And we put away the Christmas decorations only to get them right back out again.  When I was younger, I remember my mother would be writing a check and she'd always say something like, "My word, is it the 19th already? Where has this month gone?"  I never knew what in the world she meant by that but I have a pretty good idea now.       

I was wondering why that is.  Why time passes so quickly as we get older.  Maybe when we were kids, there was a lot of time to do whatever we pleased.  It was a time to play and have fun and few worries clouded our mind.  It was an age that we were convinced had no end.  When we were teenagers and young adults, maybe we were anticipating the next step in our future and in our independence and because of all that excitement and anticipation, time seemed to crawl at a snail's pace.  Maybe when we had little kids, we were so tired from making bottles and running here and there that bedtime and potty training and sleeping through the night seemed like they would never come and bring us relief.  But, maybe when we get a little older, like us, and our kids are moving toward independence and away from us......when our parents begin to show age, our house starts to get quieter, and our joints commence making that popping noise when we get up.......maybe that's when we start trying to slow down this thing called life.  When you look back behind you and then look out in front of you and it seems like there may be a little more time behind you than what's ahead.....maybe that's when you start to feel like life is a runaway train.  It's kind of like when you're on an awesome week vacation and you start to get a panicky feeling around Wednesday knowing that it's all passing by so quickly.

We went down the street for dinner tonight.  Our good friends from way back live in our neighborhood and it seems like we see them less than anyone else.  We always talk about how ridiculous that is and, tonight, they so graciously invited us over to eat.  We laughed and caught up and talked about......our oldest girls who are off at college......our youngest kids who are about to drive.....and our husbands who are so close to retirement they can almost smell it.  Not at all what we talked about just a few years ago.   

We decided to try to make the weeknight dinner visit a regular thing because, well, we're all on this awesome vacation......

And it's Wednesday.

Y'all have a great weekend. 



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Dream Weaver, I Believe We Can Make it through the Night

I've always been one to have crazy, epic dreams.  They're very detailed, full of action, and seem to go on for hours and hours.  No matter what they're about, I always remember them the next day.  I've had friends tell me that they never dream and I can't even imagine that.  Yeah, when I go to bed, I never know where I'm going to be that night.  Falling off a trapeze.  Locked in a freezer.  Delivering pizzas.  Raising goats.  Digging a moat.  Sometimes, the dreams are happy and I don't want to wake up and, sometimes, I will sit straight up in the bed with my heart relieved it wasn't real.  

As a side note, I've read that people who dream and people who stay up late are usually very intelligent.  Let me tell you what........if that's the criteria for brilliance, I must be a genius!  You can ask me anything.  Go ahead.  Anything!    

Well, over the last few weeks, I've been having these vivid dreams in which I've found myself with the same, recurring problem......I wasn't ready!  So, today on Motherhood and Muffin Tops, we're going to do an exercise in dream analysis.  The latest dream I had was last Friday night, so we'll start there and work our way back.

Dream 3:  I was in the Miss America pageant.  Now, I know what you're thinking....."well, that's not so far-fetched."  And you'd be exactly right because you can just look at me and tell I've always been the pageant type who enjoys the spotlight and feels right at home on a national stage.  And on stage with a microphone and in my swimsuit?  Well, hello, that's even better.  Where do I sign up?

Anyway, in my dream, you only had to turn in some forms to qualify to be in the Miss America pageant and, because some of my friends were doing it, I decided I would, too.  I suppose if they'd signed up to jump off a cliff, I would have signed up for that, too.  After I'd turned my paperwork in, I really didn't give it that much thought.......until we were all backstage and my hair wasn't doing right.  I was looking in the mirror and thinking how I looked a lot like Bea Arthur and I wasn't sure that was the look the Miss America people were going for. 

Anyway, I was standing there in my red dress, trying to do something with the frizz in my hair while I waited for my turn to perform my talent.  "Wait a minute," I thought......"my talent!"  I hadn't practiced.  I had just put down on the form that I would sing Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" and I hadn't thought of it since.  Not to mention, I'd never even sung a solo in my whole life.  So, I panicked.  I thought it would be a good idea to, at least, hurriedly hum the song all the way through in my head to make sure I knew all the words and, you know, trivial stuff like that.  I mean, I was going to be singing on national television so I wanted it to be kinda good.  "Every night in my dreams, I hear you, I feel you"......"this is easy enough," I thought......."that is how I know you go on."  It was in my range.  Everything was going swell.  Then......"Oooooonce mooooooore you oooooooooopen the door."  "Ok....this is a problem," I decided as I tried to hum other Celine songs real fast to see if I could find one more in my range.  But, the Lord was merciful and I woke up before I started in with "The Power of Love" and sweated completely through my pajamas.       

Dream 2:  I was asked to be an angel in the live nativity along with my cousin, Amy.  We dressed in our flowing, white gowns and majestic wings, and we were fitted with harnesses and wires which, when the time was right, would hoist us up into the air to fly above and around the audience.  Well, the lights dimmed and, all of a sudden, I realized that I hadn't been to any of the practices.  Dang it!  So, I decided I'd just watch Amy and do whatever she was doing.  The time came and we were flung up into the air......back and forth and all around the room.  Amy was doing sort of an interpretive dance in the air with her arms gracefully waving and her legs moving in a beautiful scissor motion so I just tried to mimic her.  Amy sprinkled fairy dust down on the audience and so I did, too.  (The angels sprinkling fairy dust at Jesus' birth is one of those details that the gospels don't really address but we took some artistic liberties there.)  Back and forth and around the ceiling we went.......the angels from the realms of glory, we were.  Each in perfect unison.........except one of us on about a five second delay.  I have never been so delighted to see the light of morning as I was that day.        

Dream 1:  This was, by far, the most traumatic.  I had gotten to church and made it all the way up to the choir room where I realized I'd forgotten to wear a top.  Now, there are few things that I hate more than when I forget to wear a top.  That's just the worst.  Anyway, I thought it would be fine since we wear choir robes but, on this particular Sunday, as luck would have it, we were told not to wear our robes.  "Well, I better not sing in the choir today," I said, but my choir friends insisted it would be ok, you know, like choir friends are bad to do.  "You'll be fine," they said.  "There will be someone standing in front of you and no one will ever notice," they said.  "Oh, ok, you're right," I agreed.  So, I filed into the choir loft last.....the very end of the line.......and the chair in front of me?  Empty.  "This is just great," I said to myself.  We stood to sing the first hymn and I suddenly felt confident that I could sing it by heart and make better use of my song book.  I woke up and was so relieved that I wouldn't have to change churches after all.   

Ok.  So, I'm thinking.  I've dreamed all of these in the last month and, while I'm no psychotherapist or dream interpreter, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say it would seem that there's something that I am feeling woefully unprepared for in my life. 


All I can say for sure is that, whatever it is, it will pale in comparison to trying to hit a high D on national television or discovering wardrobe deficiencies in the Lord's house. 

If you are a psychotherapist or dream interpreter and have found my dreams to suggest something even more disturbing or serious, I don't want to know about it.  Ignorance is not only bliss but it can also be your very best friend. 

So, be careful out there in dreamland, people. 

It can be a dangerous place. 

Sweet dreams, y'all. 



Sunday, January 24, 2016

This is Snow Disappointing

Well, I see that a large portion of the country is/was affected by the big snowstorm.  I've seen so many beautiful pictures on the news and social media of snow covered landscapes and kids all bundled up and having a great time outside.  I would post some snow pictures for y'all but I don't have any due to the fact that, well, we live in Mississippi.......and not even in northern Mississippi so that, right there, always takes our snow chances down a pretty good bit.  It has been unbelievably cold here though.  Well, for Mississippi, it's been unbelievably cold but you can't very well post pictures of that, now can you? 

Living with snow disappointment is just something that comes along with being a southerner.  I know there are some of you who would be more than delighted to donate some of your snow surplus to us, the less fortunate.  Some of your kids probably don't even think that much about the snow because it's such a common thing where you live.  Kind of like our kids  Ok, bad example.  But, southern kids, well, there's not much that thrills them more than a good snow and, where we live, that may only happen a handful of times during one's childhood. 

Because of the rare snowfall here, there are a few things that only those living in the deep South can understand about winter weather.......

1)  Dirty snowmen.  We see the beautiful snowmen you make up North from your storehouses of sparkling snow.  They're 6 feet tall and round and plump and a beautiful, alabaster white.  Just like in the Christmas movies.  Those are really nice.  But, ours just don't look like the ones you make up there.  Southern snowmen stand about 2 feet tall, marbled with mud, and have so much pine straw protruding from them that they look like voodoo dolls.  It takes a whole front yard worth of snow to build one of those two footers down here so the southern mama has to get pictures of all the kids standing in front of the house before they can make one.  After that, you're just left with wet grass and wet grass doesn't make good pictures.  Not only that, she needs to keep the camera handy because in about an hour, that snowman will be melted down and looking like the Washington Monument.  Time is of the essence but, even at its peak, the southern snowman is nothing to be very proud of.    
 "Ok, stand by your ugly snowman and smile." 
2)  Insufficient cold weather gear.  Down here, there just isn't much reason to have the heavy duty outerwear so, if a snow comes, you can be caught ill-prepared for long periods of play.  The goal of the southern mama is to piece together enough components to keep the children from having to have anything amputated at the end of the day.  Down here, the term, snow clothes, is synonymous with hunting clothes so you'll see an awful lot of camo in southern snow pictures.  When I was little, if we didn't have enough hats to go around, someone would invariably end up with Daddy's hunter orange toboggan on their head.  And when we couldn't find our gloves because we hadn't used them in two years or when they got all wet or muddy, a thick pair of socks on our hands was never out of the question as a suitable back up.  Because such frigid temps are uncommon down in these parts, mothers will always go overboard as we think that the cold is responsible for any and all sicknesses that lead to death.  We can't help it.  It's what our mamas told us.  Cotton balls in the ears, a hat pulled snugly over the eyelids, and three layers zipped up to the chin.  With all the bundling, southern kids can't see, hear, or turn their head but it's always a good time. 
Don't know who this little dude is but I'm pretty sure he's a southern boy getting ready to tackle the snow. 
3)  Going to bed with so many questions.  It seems like most of our snow chances are greatest after the kids' bedtime.  We never have snow that's so bad that they'll call school off the night before.  The ten o'clock news usually announces that the schools will be making their decisions about closures the following morning.  This can make for a long night for the kids.  I remember every time I'd wake up as a kid, I'd look outside to see if there was any sign of wintry precipitation.  "Oh, I think I see snow falling," I'd think......but it would just be the sleepy in my eyes and the hope in my heart playing tricks on me.  Oh, how southern kids long to see their school's name scrolling across the bottom of the television screen.  Just once.  But, the morning usually brings disappointment for them as they head out to school and the only thing crunching beneath their feet is the dead, brown grass. 
"Oh, please, say Northside Elementary!  Please, please, please."
4)  What to do with all the bread, milk, and canned goods.  Down here, if the weather man uses the words, snow, frozen precipitation, sleet, ice, accumulation, or any combination thereof, the grocery stores shelves will empty within the hour.  You see, we don't know how to drive in any of that down here so our tendency to overreact is real.  I mean, I guess you never know when the "Big One" will come and you'll be trapped in your home for a week with only 6 cans Hormel chili with beans standing between you and death.  And if ice was predicted when I was young, we had the bathtub filled with water.  I never understood what we were going to do with that.  It was just what you did.  I don't ever recall using the water but, by golly, it was there if we needed it.       
Clearly, this wasn't taken in the South as indicated by the fact that there are still Twinkies and powdered donuts on the shelves.  Hello? 
5)  White Christmas, my foot.  We sing all the same songs y'all sing about dreaming of a white Christmas and letting it snow because we have no place to go but the truth of the matter is that the odds of it snowing here any day of the year are slim and the odds of that illusive day falling on Christmas are just slightly higher than Hell's odds.   
We're usually more prone to a wet, humid Christmas.
6)  Make-do snow toys.  Well, needless to say, we don't have sleds and snowboards in our garage like the Northerners do.  In the South, that would be the modern day equivalent to Noah building the ark out in his dry front yard and how all his neighbors laughed.  "Y'all move down here from Canada?" they'd want to know.  "Y'all Olympians or something?" they'd jeer.  No, instead of the traditional, store bought snow accessories, we usually just make do with what we have.......and garbage can lids, laundry baskets, pool floats, cardboard, kayaks, rope, and ATVs are what we have.  Sometimes, you have to use things for purposes other than for what they're intended.  Southerners are the best at making do.  
I can't be totally sure but I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that this was taken in the South. 
So, half of the country never wants to see snow again as long as they live and the other half is hoping that they'll just get one snow day before spring.  The snow is always whiter on the other side, I suppose.  I hope if you're in the half that's sick of the sight of snow, we'd love to send y'all one of our warm fronts to melt it all away.  And if you find yourself on the side of wishing for just one day to frolic in the white stuff, may an arctic blast sweep down and make your dreams come true, too. 
One thing's for sure though.........we can't always get what we want. 
I hope y'all have a great Monday!                         

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

When Mama's Gone: The Three Stages

So, I'm back from a few days in Atlanta.  The stores are looking pretty bare since the Christmas rush and with a third pharmacy/gift shop scheduled to open in a few weeks, we needed to do some major shopping at market. 

Blair is my usual market partner but she was working at market this week, exploring the field of sales.  She had the greatest experience and the best time, met so many people, and is now considering some job offers that she received as a result.  Isn't that what all parents want?  For their kids to find the niche that fits their special, God-given gifts.......oh, yeah, and to pay their own bills.  Hallelujah and Amen. 

I was thinking about all the different ways that life has unfolded through the years to bring her to this place.  God's handprints are all over it........I mean, if it was a glass door, we'd need a big ol' bottle of Windex.  One thing has built on another thing which has led to another thing.  She's developed the relationships which have been integral to all this as a result of opportunities that I was given several years ago.  And even the smallest details like a place to stay and transportation into the city were taken care of with the cool neighbors moving to that area and Fredie working only a few blocks away from where she was.  I don't know why it surprises us so much when we see God's work become unveiled before our eyes.  Sometimes, it's subtle and understated but, other times, it's so pronounced and in your face that it would be much harder to believe that things just fell into place any other way.  That's how this experience has been.  Undeniably God.  It screams my favorite verse......
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.  Ephesians 3:20
 And there won't be a day that goes by that we don't all thank Him and give Him all the credit for going before her as she makes those exciting steps from college to the working world in May. 
So, that brings me to my trip to market.  Because Blair wasn't able to be my shopping companion, my cousin, Amy, and her mother-in-law, Dianne, went with me.  Amy and her husband own the pharmacies and I do the buying and displaying for the gift shops.  We had a fabulous time together and spent large amounts of time laughing like three 13 year old girls.  That can happen when women get off from home and away from their usual responsibilities. 
Anyway, everything was going smoothly......until we checked in.  You know it's not a good sign when they look at you and then look down at the computer screen and grimace.  We'd made our reservations for a double queen room back in August but had been bumped down to a one queen and one pullout room.  Well, we stood at the counter and protested as much as we felt we could and still call ourselves beacons of the Lord's light.  And, with market going on, we knew everything was booked solid so, after getting nowhere except a modest refund, we took our key and headed up to our room.  When I used the word, room, there, I was being overly generous. I believe "room" 207 was the janitor's closet in its former life.  And the pullout, where I slept, completely blocked the narrow path to the bathroom so if you were in the queen bed and needed to get to the restroom, you would either have to pole vault over me or crawl across my mattress and knee me in the shins.  I suppose there are advantages to staying in cramped quarters with two other people and lots of luggage.  I just can't think of them right now......unless you'd count the ability to prop your feet up on your bed while sitting on the toilet or being able to start the coffee pot and the microwave without leaving the comfort of your bed.........and laughing an awful lot about the ridiculous situation. 
Anyhow, Amy is a young mother with elementary age children.  My kids are high school and older and much more independent.  Dianne's kids are grown and gone.  So, I observed and listened to snippets of our phone conversations and texts from back home and it occurred to me that there must be three stages of "Mama's out of town". 
1)  "Our world, as we know it, is ending".......When you're a young mother, you have kids hanging on your legs, begging you not to go.  You get phone calls all day long and facetiming when they just can't go another second without seeing you.  "When are you coming home, Mommy?"........"I miss you tucking me in, Mom"......."How many more days until you get home, Mommy?" or "Will you come kiss me goodnight when you get home?" and other sweet stuff like that. You know, when they're little, you're their world.  You're the one who knows all their needs, so detailed instructions are left with the remaining parent on what time they have to be where and who is to wear what and which medicine needs to be given to who..........but, additional calls or texts may be needed to clarify issues that your notes failed to address.  Heck, you're still reading Goodnight Moon, smelling their hair to make sure they washed it good, and even wiping an occasional behind is still not out of the question, so when you're gone...... it's kind of a big deal.  As a result, travel can be a little emotionally stressful and you can feel pulled at both ends.  And, upon return, you may be taken down to the ground by excited, little people.        
2)  "We can't find stuff"......When your kids are older, they don't notice your absence as much.  They can fix their own cereal, dress themselves, and have mastered the art of personal hygiene.  Most of the communication from them will likely come in the form of text messages.  They might shoot you a text, here and there, just to say hi but most communication from home, at this stage of the game, primarily revolves around things they can't find.  "Mom, do you know where my blue hoodie is?"......"Mama, please tell me you put my apartment key somewhere before you left"......"Have you washed my new khakis?......I can't find them anywhere"  or "Where do we keep the hot glue gun?"  Your primary job requirements now can be broken down into two categories......laundry and location services.  If they knew where stuff was, you might never even hear from them when you're away.  Sure, they're glad to see you when you get home but no one, except the dog, is jumping up on you and drooling with excitement.  As a result, travel at this phase is just not that big of an inconvenience for anyone and can be quite enjoyable. 
3)  "Yes, I'm eating the chicken salad".....When your kids are grown and gone, the dynamic changes.  Because there are only two of you now, when you're away, you can't help but worry if your significant other and your animals are all right.  Phone calls to home, at this point, touch on concerns about proper nourishment and pet care.  "Are you eating that chicken salad that I left you?"....."Don't forget to bring the dog in out of the cold tonight" or "Don't fall asleep in your chair and stay there all night."  Yeah, your kids are grown and have families of their own and they may or may not even remember that you're out of town.  There's no more worrying about them when you're gone but there is someone who will be happy when the house isn't so quiet. 
I'm smack dab in the middle of "We can't find stuff" but headed toward "Yes, I'm eating the chicken salad" at an alarming rate!  Slow this thing down!                      
So, I'm sorry that I went off the air for several days.  I just have this thing called a job but I always miss this when I get busy with other stuff.  It's good to be back.
Y'all have a great Wednesday.                                     


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Places You Go Alone

Today, one of our good friends lost his mother after a roller coaster illness and weeks in the hospital.  Seems like we've had a lot of friends and acquaintances lose their parents in recent months.  I suppose we're getting to the age where many of us are being called to the front of the line.  Quietly moving forward a step into the spot once held by the generation before us.  There's always seemed to be comfort in knowing you weren't the head of the line.  That you were still surrounded by generations of love.  There's something warm and safe about being cushioned between your parents and children but, I suppose, we all eventually come to the age when we're no longer nestled in on both sides.      

It's had me thinking about my own brushes with loss.  My own memories of grief.  I'm no expert. Don't have any degrees which would deem me qualified to speak with authority on the matter.  There are scores of people with more grief experience on their resumes.  Some that I wouldn't even want to think about much less live out.  But, I have loved and I have lost.

Today, while my friends were making phone calls and doing all the necessary tasks that come along with a death in the family, I was remembering the feelings of those first days.   

When someone you love dies, you are frozen.  Almost in a stupor.  The world continues to buzz around you but you seem to have become disconnected from it.  You're at a standstill.  In a daze.     

Nature seems to be oblivious to your pain.  It goes on with its natural course.  The sun comes up as scheduled and spreads its cheery light across the earth. The birds wake and sing their same happy songs.....oblivious to the sadness you feel.  The roses open into full bloom to show off their vivid colors.  The waves still crash and the sea is full of life.  Doesn't God's world know?  How can it be so joyful and carry on with its usual sequence?  How can the stars twinkle and the frogs sing?  How can the river not stop in its tracks?  Creation seems to be so unmoved in the face of your loss.  Its sounds and movements and changes go on as planned.  How can it not reflect your pain? 

People are going on about their day....their lives.  The sounds of them laughing, singing, and talking are almost offensive.  Sure, they don't know you or what you've lost.  They walk by talking about their lunch plans, ballgame scores, and other things you might have been interested in.......yesterday.  To you, they seem to be insensitive and unusually loud.  They're on their cell phones, playing outside with their kids, jogging past your house, unloading their nothing has even happened.  No one seems aware of this gaping hole in your life.  It's just another day for them.  Another day to run carpool, pump gas, and mow the lawn.  They don't even seem to notice the absence that's so obtrusive to you.               

Cars still zoom by.  The interstates are busy.  Drivers are honking at every little inconvenience.  Planes still land and take off again.  The garbage truck makes its rounds.  Your clothes still need washing.  Store owners unlock their doors, registers beep, and open signs flash.  Office lights are flipped on and telephones ring.  The emails keep coming and coming and coming.  Regular programming is blaring on the television.  How can something so devastating happen to you and the swirl of life around you not even slow down?  The traffic lights turn green and then yellow and then red......just like they did before.  It's business as usual like what you lost never even mattered.   

Your loss isn't printed on the front page.  It's not covered on the evening news.  When you walk past the magazines, there's no mention of it there.   

It's like the busy world doesn't realize what's missing.  

Sure, friends know.  Family knows.  Acquaintances know.  They are willing to walk beside you.  They promise to be there if you need them and their intentions are sincere and noble.  But, they don't understand that there are some places they just can't go with you.  There are some paths you have to walk alone without the company of other mortal souls.  There are some places so personal and some losses so intimate that you have to climb the narrow steps alone.  No one knows how you feel.  No one knows what you've lost.  No one knows what you shared.  So, you know that no other person can bear this for you or with you.  Even if you're grieving for the same person, you know your loss is different from theirs.  Only you can grieve the loss of your unique relationship.

It's in the moments when you find yourself walking alone on that road too narrow for human companionship that you feel God slip up behind you.  Only an omniscient God knows the places where you hurt and the spots which feel the most empty.  Only an omnipresent God can meet you there in those places and soothe them and start to fill them in.  Only the God who created everything can fully appreciate what you've lost and recognize the difference they made for you.     

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, the flames will not set you ablaze."  Isaiah 43:2

Hope tomorrow is a good day!





Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Way a Mother Sees It

Blair left for Atlanta today.  She has an opportunity to work for 8 days in a field she wanted to explore before she graduates.  It has absolutely nothing to do with the degree which she is four months away from earning but what fun would that be to work in the field you're studying?  Anyway, she's driven places by herself, of course, but never quite that far and into traffic as crazy as Atlanta's.  When she left here, I felt kind of like we were on that Subaru commercial where the parents are watching their daughter getting ready to drive off and suddenly she turns 5 again in their minds. 
Sure, I know it's not like it was when I was her age.  Back in the day, we'd just have to sit on the side of the road in our broken down car until someone realized we were missing or we'd have to get out the gigantic map and unfold it for a couple of hours until we could see where we were.  Now, there are cell phones, GPS, internet, and all those things we didn't have back then.  But, there are also drunk drivers, distracted drivers, road construction, high crime areas, road rage, flat tires, and a host of other possibilities.  Yeah, kids have to grow up but for moms it can feel like we're sending them off in their little red and yellow Cozy Coupe to maneuver the world the best they can. 

Of course, I had to hide any concerns I may have had about all of it from my mother because if you think a mother has trouble seeing her children as grown then you should see how their grandmother views them......
I am happy to report that Blair made it safely.  Davis and I felt great relief when she texted us.  She's staying with our former cool neighbors....not to imply that they're no longer cool because they are certainly still, oh, so very cool........they're just, sadly, no longer our neighbors.  They have rolled out the red carpet for her and we appreciate their hospitality so very much.
Along those same lines, Carson and I had a night out together a few days ago.  We try to find an excuse to do that every couple of weeks.  I have the best time with that boy!  We grabbed some dinner and then shopped around for a new pair of Van's for him.  I was sitting across the table from my son and noted how he was looking so much older.  Seems like I was just cutting up his chicken and blowing his hot mashed potatoes a couple of months ago.  I could still see that little boy in there somewhere but there was also this unfamiliar, more mature person who I would catch a glimpse of from time to time. 

We joked and laughed over dinner.  He was a gentleman and treated me like a lady.  Someone who we knew walked in and he rose to his feet, looked him in the eye, and shook his hand.  Like a man.  We left the restaurant and the mother inside me would've been happy to just strap him into a car seat in the back.......but he drove me home instead.   I know it won't be long before he'll be driving off without me, too.

And I'll get through it.........just like I did today.

Oh, if only everyone could see us like our mothers do!  We'd all look so much younger! 

Y'all have a great Monday!




Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Top Ten Worst Things about Starting a New Year

The 10 worst things about starting a new year....

10) You have to go places that require pants.  For the last week and a half, lycra/spandex/cotton blends have been your constant companion from the waist down, at least.  Whether you were napping on the couch, napping in the chair, napping in the recliner, or being extra productive and walking to the mailbox, your stretchy pants were there for you.  No buttons.  No zippers.  No judgment.  Just you and the God-inspired invention of elastic.  Your relationship had really grown over the last couple of weeks.  The two of you had become one and it was hard to leave them all alone lying on your bed when you left for work.  You'll think about them all day and rush back home to their comforting embrace just as soon as you leave the office .    

9)  Fire Drills at 6 am.  For the last 10 days, the subtle nudge of the mid-morning sun has been your only wake up call.  Now, this strange, obnoxious buzzer is blaring in the darkness and you become only semi-conscious and addled.  In Christmas Vacation Time (CVT), 6:00 am is considered still the middle of the night.  While making the difficult time change back to Reality Standard Time (RST), this ominous, relentless sound may confuse disoriented and unregimented souls for the first few days, causing them to activate their family fire evacuation plan and all meet up in the front yard. 

8)  You're at work and get a sudden nagging feeling that you're missing a bowl game.  When one watches football all day long for 2 solid weeks, it is difficult to suddenly snap back to normal life activities.  This is why, for the first week back at work, you may suddenly get a panicky feeling that you could be missing a bowl game while standing at the copier or the fax machine the lesser known Philip's Milk of Magnesia Bowl or the rarely heralded Bath and Body Works Bowl.  With time, this anxiety should subside as you adjust to the college football-less time of year. 

7)  You are forced to hear about everyone's new diet plan at work.    Suzy is detoxing and she is as grumpy as a grizzly bear.  Grapefruits all day for Barbara.  Bob's Slim Fast shakes are taking up the whole break room frig.  Fran is frantically counting her points.  No carbs for Jim....only beef and bacon.  And you'll be getting regular updates on how long Joan's new Yeti tumbler is keeping the ice in her 750 oz. daily intake of water.  Take heart mid-February, everyone will be back to ordering Italian takeout with you and the frig will, once again, be stocked with Mountain Dew, pudding cups, and queso dip. 
6)  You miss the UPS man.  You never knew of your affinity for a man in uniform until one started visiting your porch in his starched brown ensemble every day for 2 months straight.  For the first couple of weeks in January, you may find yourself running to the door at the sound of a diesel engine coming down your street only to discover that it is just the school bus.  While you can't deny that you like children, you'd rather see Etsy packages on your porch any day.   

5)  You're reintroduced to the forgotten meal, breakfast.  You can't remember the last time you had a breakfast bar or Cheerios.  Probably because ever since Christmas, you've gotten up at that awkward time of day when you're not really sure what would be appropriate to eat.  The term "breakfast" is really no longer in play when the sun is up that high.  Now that you're back to getting up in the middle of the night (Christmas Vacation Time) you'll need to throw some Nutri-Grain bars and Honey Bunches of Oats in the shopping cart and embrace the long overlooked meal. 

4)  Your house looks bare.   After the decorations come down, the house takes on a eerie feeling of emptiness.  This may cause the woman of the house to ask, "Honey, are you sure you got everything back down from the attic?"  No one quite understands this phenomenon.  Perhaps, it's just that after Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, their flock of sheep, a trio of kings, their camels, the angels, some cows, a donkey, a heap of mistletoe, a fat, bearded man in a red suit, his reindeer, a 9 foot live fir tree, 55 large wrapped boxes, and a partridge in a pear tree stay with you for a whole month, the house is sure to feel a little more roomy when they're all gone.  Only baby Jesus is welcomed to stay all year.   

3)  You find stray pine needles in random places.  After all the decorations have been packed away, Christmas tree needles will show up in the most unusual places until around Labor Day or so.  The bottom of your cereal bowl.  The toe of your sock.  The bottom of the bathtub.  In the bristles of your hairbrush.  On the dog's back.  It is Christmas' way of saying, "I had a great time and I'll be back." 

2)  At 1:00 pm each day, you find yourself staring blankly at your computer screen.  Your head bobbing like the old man in front of you at church when the sermon runs long.  It's been a couple of weeks since you had to make it all the way through the day without a nap.  This is like the beginning of first grade all over again when they abruptly revoked your KinderMat and gave you a fist full of worksheets in its place.  And just like back then, you're thinking, "Well, dang." 

1)  Your friends all want to challenge you on Fitbit.  We all feel that some accountability will help us reach our new fitness resolutions.  The new year beckons the triathlete inside us to emerge and the Fitbit app awakens the competitor in all of us.  So, when it sends you a message at 10:25 pm that your friend has met her step goal and you haven't, well, you'll get yourself right up out of that chair and start walking in a zig-zag pattern up and down the driveway until your Fitbit vibrates, too.  I don't care if it's 11:00 pm, 30 degrees, sleeting, and the neighbors are wondering why you're pacing up and down your driveway like Rain Man.  You will not be outdone.  

I hope this week of adjustment hasn't been too painful.

These things just take time.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

A Clean Slate

Another year is over. 
And the new year is usually our time to reflect and readjust.
It's like the first day of school.
The notebooks are new.
The crayons have perfect tips. 
The paper is unmarked.
The grade books are empty.
Everyone has a clean slate. 
The same opportunity for a fresh start.   
Only we can decide what we'll write. 
How much effort we'll exert.
How far we'll progress. 
Looking back over the last year, I feel pretty good about some of it.
The rest....not so much.       
There were things I wish I hadn't said. 
Times when I should've spoken up.
There were people I should have called.
Others....I'm glad I did.   
There were hours I shouldn't have wasted.
But, some were well spent. 
There were days when I was the bigger person.
And days when I was pretty small. 
I went the second mile for some. 
For others, I refused to budge.
I was selfish, some days......not giving any mind to anyone but myself.
Too busy for people who needed me.
Hoarding my time away. 
There were days I wish I could do again.
And days when I wouldn't change a thing.
Sometimes, I sought God's will.   
Other times, I tried to shut out the still, small voice.
I could've prayed more.
Worried less.
I made some good decisions.
And others that I regret. 
I wasn't always as kind as I could've been.
But, there were other times when I was generous and warm. 
There were days that I cried because my heart hurt.
And there were other days that I never wanted to end.
I lost some things.......and pouted.
But I gained some, too.
Sometimes, I felt I was in a rut.
Other times, I tapped into the excitement and thrill of living. 
Some days, I was scared and needed reassurance.
Other days, I felt like I could take on the world......full of confidence. 
At times, life seemed to pour out the best it had to offer.
Other times, I just wanted to put the day behind me.
There were things that made me smile and things that made me laugh.
There were moments I carefully filed away in my memory.
And ordinary ones that I've already forgotten.
Some days, I felt like I was pretty good at this parenting thing.
Other days, I really flubbed it up. 
I could've been more understanding and patient.
And given the same benefit of the doubt as I expect to receive. 
Sometimes, I used my words to build others up. 
Other times, my words could've been chosen more carefully.
There were nights I couldn't sleep. 
Days that seemed to go on forever.
Moments when I was overwhelmed with gratefulness.
Mindful of the less fortunate.   
Other days, I acted like a spoiled child who didn't have enough.
There were times when people I love were close to my heart.
Other times, I took them for granted.   
Sometimes, I was the giver. 
Sometimes, I received......awkwardly.
I forgave......not always forgot though.
And, plenty of times, I needed forgiveness and mercy for myself.        
There were moments when everything was right.
And days when it all seemed to go wrong.
I fell into some of the same holes......over and over and over.
Some days, it seemed like I took two steps forward and three steps back. 
Sometimes, I fully comprehended the brevity of life. 
Other days, I felt like I had all the time in the world.
There were times when I was energetic and productive.
And days when I just wanted to curl up and do nothing.
Sometimes, I desired to pursue eternal investments.
Other times, I was more than happy to just satisfy temporary wishes.
Each hour. 
Each day. 
Each year. 
Each....a new beginning.
Sometimes, I make the most of them....investing them wisely.
Sometimes, I wad them up and throw them aside like they're plentiful and worth very little.
Each New Year presents an opportunity to look behind me and change what I don't like.
I can choose to learn, give, and grow.
Or I can choose to settle and sit.    
It is up to me to decide.
What will I do with my clean slate?

Happy 2016 to y'all! 

And may God be merciful to you as you have to drag yourselves back to work today!