I hit my knees in mass one morning with a plea. Well maybe a strong wish. Okay a demand. I got on my knees, looked at the cross and said Je-SUS… fix this and fix this quickly. When you’ve got girls, and I’ve got three of them, there is always something that needs fixing. A tub drain, a tire, a phone, a flat iron, a curling iron, a curling wand, a stain, a front bumper, a back bumper….a heart. I said Je-SUS, I don’t wanna do these next couple of years with my middle. I don’t want to navigate the friends/not friends/back to friends and the tryouts and the study struggle and black heads and the tears for no reason (hers and mine). I don’t wanna do it. I can’t do it. I’m not cut out for it. Okay Je-SUS, I’m not made to be a girl mom and I’m sorry if you think that after 21 years of being a girl mom that you think I can do this but you’re wrong….Je-SUS.
I am in the middle stage of parenting. I am rounding third with my oldest….only three more semesters of out of state tuition and overpriced rent and ridiculous Kroger credit card charges til she’s an all grown up engineer and I am off the clock. Nevermind the fact that as 46 year old all grown up people ourselves, my husband and I have to ask my daddy how to light the fireplace every winter and I had to ask my momma what to do because my driver’s license expired. I’m on second base with my middle. I know what’s coming because I’ve done it already and that’s how I know I’m not up for it again. But I know where we’ve been and I don’t want to go back there either…or maybe I do? I could do Kindergarten again, maybe even 2nd grade. But I digress…And I’m on first base with that caboose of mine. Although I’m pretty sure that one could raise all of us. I don’t believe in reincarnation but that one has been here before. So my head is on a swivel constantly covering all the bases of momhood, all the time and all at the same time.
This new song by Jordan Davis “Next Thing You Know” is kind of ruining my life. One minute he’s in a bar meeting a girl then the next thing he knows he’s got grandkids in the yard that he’s teaching to fish. And as I hear every word I remember every time I blinked into my own next thing and my heart hurts wishing I could stop the blinking because I’ve got my own girl who’s met a boy, not sure if he’s “the boy” but he’s a good boy and so the next thing I know she’ll be the star of this stupid song and the next thing I know the other two will be the stars of this stupid song and the next thing I know I’m the one in the yard with the grandkids wondering how, why, when and was it enough? So I look to my left and see my own boy from the bar and I look to my right and I see the yard. And right now I’m in the middle of the stupid song. The stupid song that I play on repeat on Spotify.
I have no doubt there is a whole theory in psychology on what Middle Child Syndrome is and why it’s even a thing. But as most of us moms are basically also doctors without the prescription pads (I mean…can we make that a thing? Give moms their own Rx pad. Can you imagine the convenience? With reasonable drug writing powers– antibiotic**but never Augmentin**, phenergan, the pink eye drops, bactroban, and albuterol– that would be the dream). But I digress…. So as one of those moms I can tell you why middle child syndrome is a thing. Because we don’t focus on the middle. We’re always just trying to survive the middle. The middle of anything. It’s oh we’re pregnant, it’s so magical and this child of mine will cure cancer then the next thing we know it’s omg I can’t believe this is my last baby, my last crib, my last booknic, my last tuition check. And then we had all this stuff in the middle right after two pink lines and right before the last mother of the bride dress (which I will rock all of them by the way). But what happened in the middle?
Everything happened in the middle. Everything happens in the middle.
As Christians, our two biggest days are Christmas and Easter. I mean we really shine on these two days. Standing room only. Everybody comes out in their finest linens (or velvets) and we–bring–IT. The seasons leading up to these days have their own titles– Advent and Lent– when we spend weeks getting ready to celebrate each. Jesus was born. Jesus died and rose. Trumpets, parties and gifts. But all the time in between, is called ordinary. Seriously, as Catholics that is what the middle is called– Ordinary Time. You know when the churches are not full? Ordinary Time. You know what stories and traditions and scripture readings are hard to remember? The ones between Luke 1:28 when the angel appeared to Mary and John 20:16 when Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene at the tomb. How often do we celebrate the stories in the middle?
It’s like a road trip. Every family starts off on a road trip with such ambition…the games, the snacks, the charged electronics. And it ends with either vacation or home. Either way we’ve arrived. But the middle? That’s where we find out what we’re made of. That’s where we find out how much we value those vows and does anyone actually sell their kids to the gypsies? Where does one find a gypsy? Is there a Waze notification for that? Disclaimer: My parents used to always threaten to sell us to the gypsies. Not sure I ever really believed they would…til about mile 208 on that 754 mile trip to Disney. Circa 2016. I think I mighta-coulda-woulda…but they didn’t have Waze then.
I sat in my longtime counselor’s office the other day…(when I say longtime, I mean longtime. She confirmed that I am most definitely her longest running client. I wear it as a badge of honor. I have earned it). But I digress… God made a way in the literal middle of December for me to sit on her couch. I hadn’t been there in over a year. I’m surviving on coffee, shredded cheese and loaded tea in between hand stitching side hems, school meetings and Amazon and Etsy ordering and Target pickups. God decided I needed a tune up I guess. That’s the thing about trauma. Or so I’m told. Just when you think it’s all resolved and all the boxes are checked, then the page gets flipped and oh wow we’re gonna deal with THIS chapter now. And you’re right back in the middle of the thing. The thing that most people think isn’t really a thing for you anymore. The thing that sometimes even you think isn’t a thing anymore. Til you sit on her couch in the middle of December and your brain takes you back to the thing. And you say it’s never going to go away is it? No it’s not. Because it is the thing. It’s the thing that has determined all of the other things–your faith walk, your parenting style, your approach to friendships, your marriage, your world view….your Christmas.
Every Christmas Eve I sit in a pew with my four people and I always wonder what will this life look like next Christmas Eve when we sit in this pew. I’ve been doing that ever since there was just one other person in the pew. When you’re a mom, getting to that pew on Christmas Eve is your biggest accomplishment of the year. #IYKYK. And moms know. But it’s from Christmas Eve to Christmas Eve that more happens. Everything happens. And it’s because of everything that happens in the middle of those two days that we do everything we do until we get to that pew. How many more Christmas Eves until she is in another pew, in another church (y’all better check on me when that day comes)? How many more Christmas Eves will we drive across town to drive back a few hours later to put cookies out? How many more Christmas Eves will they all go to sleep under one roof–this roof? When you’ve got a thing–the thing–that apparently never goes away, you know. You know that you don’t know how many.
Today I sit in the eye of the storm. Can’t call it the calm before the storm because this Christmas storm has been raging for weeks. But today is the eye–where all is calm and all is bright (and in south central Louisiana, all is cold)–where nothing is happening. I look to my left and see the shopping, mailing, lists, cards, traffic, planning, decorating, flocking, and more lists and even more traffic. I look to my right and see the cooking, dressing up, exchanging, visiting, more cooking, dish washing, more exchanging, picture taking beautiful chaos.
Today I am in the middle of it all. Where surprisingly nothing is happening but everything is happening all at the same time. Because the next thing I know I will only be able to look to the left and wonder if it was enough. I hope so. I pray so.