I love my front porch. The house we built, all began with a front porch. I really think that I can solve any problem from there. My front yard is always so pretty…nice flower beds. trees along the road, sloping yard. (No comment on the backyard with its dilapidated swing set and trampoline, but I digress…) My front door is rustically elegant. There are two rockers, two swings, and Mary sits out there with me in her grotto. Well I sit, she actually stands. The view from my front porch is so peaceful. It all makes sense on the porch. My husband and I sat out there a couple of months ago on a Sunday afternoon and he said We don’t do this enough. No we don’t. During Holy Week I sat out there alone, no doubt hiding from my kids, and I thought about Pilate. As in Pontious Pilate. So much so that apparently I wrote it in my little notebook I keep with my bible and prayer books yet only discovered the note a day or so ago. If Pontious Pilate had had a front porch, I bet he would never have condemned Jesus to die.
Other people like my porch too. We solve a lot of problems on my porch. We sit. We rock. We laugh. We cry. Oh boy do we cry. We sip. We sip even more than we cry. It just makes sense on the porch. I don’t have any proof but I’m fairly certain that Kenny Chesney and David Lee Murphy wrote “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” on my porch. Life just makes sense on the porch.
Well moms, we did it. We survived another year. When you’ve got kids, time is measured in school years, not calendar years and we checked another one off the list. I know for me this one was a doozie. Lots of front porchin’ this year and yet not enough front porchin’ this year. First grade ain’t no joke ya’ll. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a first grader but oh my word have things changed. It is going to take me the next year just to recover from it. Then I get to do it all over again. With Molly. I wonder what one year of boarding school costs… This year we also had ourselves a driving teenager. That ain’t no joke either. There ain’t no worry like a momma’s worry with her first born on the road kinda worry. And let’s not forget the traveling husband, the kitchen flood of 2017, my month in the orthopedic boot, the seven year old broken wrist and the two hour round trips to see the healing nun for the four year old’s ongoing skin battle. But more than the school year, moms…we survived May.
I don’t like May. For as long as I can remember I don’t like May. It goes back ohhhh I don’t know, about 13 years to be exact. And along with the burden of that one day comes utter and total chaos. But this year I was prepared. My nearest and dearest were also prepared (by that I mean my closest friends…surely not my family given they’re the cause of the chaos.) On April 30 one texted and said I’m walking into yoga so I can get my Zen on and I’ll be ready to handle you in May. On May 1 the other one texted a prayer about handling May. So I suited up and we did May. And May did not disappoint. May showed up with all of its fury and might and gave its best shot. And more than once May brought me to my knees (literally), throwing a few sucker punches but just as May showed up, God showed up too.
For the third year in row, at the same time each year, my oldest has taken a risk and strived for something. Being way braver than I ever was at her age, she has put herself out there and reached for something–a different something each year. And for the third year in a row the answer was no. It’s hard enough to be told no yourself. Watch your child get a no…all bets are off. And this year was the toughest. When she got the news we sat on the porch and cried. And I mustered up my best pep talk. You know, these are only four years of your life. And for some, the best things that ever happen to some kids happen in these four years. I want so much more for you than these four years. So if I have to pick for you to soar now or soar later, I choose later. She dusted herself off and went inside. Then I got a text from a mom checking on my girl and I learned a little more of what went down that day. I went and asked her about it and clearly she had held back some of the details of the day’s rejection. She knows her momma and she knows when the claws come out. And as the tears rolled down her face as she filled me in, the claws grew about eight inches. I WANT NAMES I kept saying and she refused. More often than not she is the adult in our relationship. So I breathed deeply, took my cues from her, we hugged and she dusted herself off yet again then left for dancing. I kept my composure until she turned the corner and I headed for the porch but I kept going. And that’s when my husband found me bent over the A/C unit sobbing. Like full on ugly cry trying to tell him what happened and he couldn’t understand a word I said. Until he did. A momma bear has claws but a poppa bear has fists. That poppa bear made three laps around the house with his fists clenched until he could utter a word and when he did, it wasn’t pretty. And certainly not fit for print in the blog of a Christian mom. But in the light of day we learned a lot from our 16 year old. How can kids be this resilient and full of grace? I wanted to expel, sue or egg somebody. Talk about a lesson in humility and let it go-ness for the adults. And the day after that she already had her plan for what her goal was for the next year. Out loud I said Good for you! You go girl! but inside I whined Seriously? Please nooooo. I can’t take it again. I can learn a lot from that girl. She’s a far better person than me! And thank you God for that.
In our house, there’s regular school year mom whose rants and handle fly offs are sporadic. Usually brought on after stepping on a lego or finding dog poop in the dining room. There’s December mom but caramel lattes and mint Kit Kats usually keep her in check. There’s birthday party mom who doesn’t do treat bags and orders grocery store cupcakes the day of. Then there’s May mom. May mom throws Shopkins out of the car window when she’s heard enough fighting. She doesn’t even care that “that” one was a limited edition. May mom has been known to reach in the backseat and start swatting at whatever leg she can reach…even if it’s the wrong leg. And when she’s at a red light during the swatting of the legs, she’s been known to roll down her window–mid swat–and tell the obviously childless guy on the side of her to LOOK AWAY MAN…LOOK AWAY…YOU DON’T KNOW!! May mom’s head spins around 360 degrees Exorcist style when asked the question “What’s for supper?” before she starts giggling and says “I’m sorry I just can’t seem to remember to cook supper these days…here’s some cheetos.” May mom passes herself in the hall and crosses herself on the road. May mom says a prayer over the calendar and tosses holy water on it when she tears off April and then she sings Amazing Grace when she tears off May. RIP May.
And then there’s June mom. The angels sing a sweet lullaby when June mom arrives. June mom grocery shops on a Saturday like she’s got no other place to be. June mom does the laundry at her leisure, not in a mad Sunday rotation. June mom sits on the porch til dark instead of just 5:30- 6:00– which is after homework but before baths because June mom doesn’t have homework and June mom thinks the swimming pool bath is good enough. Ahhhh June mom. She’s a hoot. A delight to be around. June mom has all kinds of plans for summer. Lots of swimming and popsicles, 1/2 price shakes after 8:00 and library story time. June mom plans to cook hot breakfasts. June mom bought matching K and J mugs so she and her BFF can drink coffee on the porch all summer long. June mom has a koozie in her purse for afternoons when she sits on someone else’s porch. June mom plans to exercise and read books without pictures. June mom is freaking awesome.
Wanna make God laugh? Tell Him your plans. Thank you Lord for another survived and somewhat thrived school year. Thank you that summer is here…it’s gonna be a great one. You shoulda known not to tell Him that in May. May ain’t over til it’s over. Because on May 30 you sat in the doctor’s office with your other half and got some rather shocking news. Nothing devastating, just surprising. And it didn’t take long for perspective to sink in once the doctor said Look, you could be sitting in an oncologist’s office but instead you’re sitting in an orthopedist’s office. Gulp. Noted. Could be far worse. But ya’ll. You wanna test the limits of the in sickness and in health part of the vows…tell this momma that she’s going to be trying to get a 41 year old man back on his feet all summer long. Driving him everywhere, catering to his needs. B-b-b-b-bbbbbut God it’s summer. I’m pretty sure in that convo with the Almighty I referred to Him as “dude.” As in Dude, what are you thinking? It’s summer. Let’s revisit this around February.
But now we’re a few days into June. Ahhh sweet June. Lots of porch talks since that appointment. And in the words of Kenny and David, everything’s gonna be alright. Yes you are going to wake up from the anesthesia (**eye roll that we had to have that discussion**), no I won’t need to cash out the IRA to survive since we’re only dealing with a few bones (**more eye rolls**), I will be the best damn nurse/coach/cheerleader there ever was and get you back on your feet like a BOSS (I’ll even wear a nurse’s outfit if that’s your thing), I’ll handle all of the husbandly duties like yard work and trash and whatever else husbands do…and when you’re 100% back to normal three months later (just to be clear–summer will be over by that point)—insert strategic slight pause on my part before he said, “You will need a break so why don’t you plan on a beach weekend with your friends once this is over.” There it is. That’s why I married you. You get me. I can do anything if the beach is waiting. There are three types of people in this world. There are beach people, not beach people, and then there’s me. The beach and I are one. (It should be noted that we will still get to the beach mid-recovery even if I’m pushing him in a wheelchair balancing the ice chest on my head but I’ll have my kids in tow. And we all know that a week at the beach with kids is actually a week at the pool. But we also all know what a trip to the beach is without kids…it’s why we have kids in the first place. So we can go to the beach without them.)
It’s June. I can handle anything in June. Walkers and all. He’s got a phone. He can text me when I’m on the porch. I’ll come in. Probably.