THAT Mom

blog pic that mom

Let’s talk about treats.  Class party treats.  Birthday party goodie bag treats.  Dancing class treats.  Teacher treats.

Let me first say that I have been THAT mom on both sides of the fence.  I have been the Pinterest Princess where I had the cutest, most creative treats in the room.  When my oldest was in her first year of dancing (13 years ago) I bought little denim purses and sewed fuzzy orange fringe on them and stitched a glitter pumpkin patch to it and filled it with candy.  For Valentine’s Day I made handmade bows for each of the girls.  I spent a lot of time and a lot of money being THAT mom.  Through the years that followed my efforts waned and I succumbed to plastic bags of Hershey kisses if I even remembered at all.

Then came two more girls.  I became the mom who always volunteered for “juice” on the class party sign-up sheet.  Except for that one party when I missed the sheet and the only empty blank was “special treat bag.”  And then I showed up at the party empty handed because I forgot…so I became THAT mom.

But I was determined to change the tide when daughter #2 started dancing.  On the first day of class I walked into the building like I owned the place (truth be told, I’ve been driving to the same studio and putting my check in the same slot every month for 13 years with 14 years left to go that I think a small deed to the property is in order…but I digress) with my bag of treats.  I had taken jumbo white marshmallows, dipped them in white chocolate, doused them with pink sprinkles complete with pink cupcake wrapper inverted on a stick to resemble a tutu.  I walked in the door as if in slow motion with the wind blowing through my hair and swinging my bag of ballerina treats on my finger.  I walked past all of the moms and handed the bag to the teacher all the while thinking, “I rock.  Ya’ll suck.”  This was a new circle of moms and I had just set the tone.  I was THAT mom.  I was the mom with the super cute treats who was super attentive to know that only certain moms bring treats on the first day ever of dancing.  Until two weeks later I was the less attentive mom sitting in the lobby chatting on the phone while her one year old snuck out into the parking lot.  And then two weeks after that the mom who had to call the police to the studio because the same one year old had locked herself and my phone in the car.

Fast forward through two more years of proud juice box only party contributions and no birthday party gift bags…ever…and we come to Halloween week 2016. It will live in infamy.  Molly comes home from Mother’s Day Out with a note the week before about her Halloween party and there in class was the sign-up sheet.  Juice boxes had already been taken.  Who does that?  What other mother in this class is as busy AND scatterbrained as me?  How selfish.  So I choose apples and grapes. They sell those things in individual packages now….easy peasy.  The note CLEARLY stated that the party was at 1:30.  I cannot produce this note as proof nor could I produce it that day but trust me, the note they gave me said 1:30.  They sent some other note or secret group text to the other mothers that stated otherwise. I had two installations that day so I handed that puppy off to my husband.  Meanwhile I also had to figure out Halloween dancing treats for both younger girls’ classes.  Of which I remembered about at 11:00 on the day of that party.  What can I pull together right now?  I texted a friend for an idea and she sent me a picture of what she was sending. She went Etsy on me.  Seriously?  I scroll through Pinterest in the bank parking lot and my expectations lowered and lowered.  Until I find myself in the Albertson’s chip aisle thinking that 5 skeleton shaped cheetos in a ziploc bag could be cute?  My printer isn’t working so I can’t print tags.  I could write something on the bag in sharpie?  That’s when I called my friend back and said, “Hey  put my girl’s name on your treats and I’ll pay you half!”  She had already printed a poem and signed it with her daughter’s name.  Of course she did.  That’s when I realized that no treat at all was surely less embarrassing than this thing I was trying to pull together.  So I told her I wasn’t caving into peer pressure.  I was NOT bringing Halloween treats.  I would make my own statement.  And after seeing the treats that my girls brought home that day…the ribbons, the poems, the clip art, the cricut’d initials…no treat was wayyyyyyy less embarrassing than cheetos in a ziploc.

Which brings us to the day of the Mother’s Day Out Halloween party.  It was one of those overscheduled-how-will-I-get-it-all-done days.  Jacob was handling the apples and grapes at 1:30 and I just had to get her to school with her lunch.  It was also “H” week and we actually showed up with something for Show and Tell.  “B” week was the last time we remembered.  Nailed it is what I am thinking.  So we are walking down the hall and I start to see Buzz Lightyear, Cinderella, and a red Power Ranger running amuck.  What is going on? They must be in another class.  Then I see Belle. One of my daughter’s classmates is dressed as Belle.  I turn to the mom walking right behind me whose son is also dressed up, and ask, “Why is everyone in costume? HOW DID YOU KNOW THEY SHOULD WEAR THEIR COSTUME?” To which she replied, “It was on the note.”  We walk in the room and children in costumes abound.  Teachers in costume skip around the room welcoming them.  And their mothers.  A room full of other mothers with their prize winning party food and treats laden with ribbons and poems and clip art….staring at me and my empty hands with my uncostumed three year old.  Ya’ll.  She wasn’t even wearing a Halloween shirt.  No pumpkin, scarecrow or even fall color.  She was adorned in a hot pink knit dress with polka dot initials.  She let go of my hand and clung to her teacher’s leg.  I think it was her version of flicking me off and I didn’t blame her.  I whispered to the teacher, “I didn’t know they were supposed to wear their costumes.”  She said, “It was on the note.” Bbbbbbbbut we brought something for Show and Tell I thoughtI  also realized that the party was obviously much sooner than 1:30 so I told them my husband was on his way with the fruit and he must have gotten caught in traffic.

Sobbing, I called Jacob frantically.  Instead of responding with sheer aggravation and a too bad attitude, he says, “I’ve got this.  I’m on it.”  Nothing makes a man rise to the occasion than rescuing his damsel in distress.  And nothing makes a man hotter to that damsel than the image of him combing the produce aisle looking for the individual packs of fruit and delivering them to a room full of three year olds and their mothers.  Five hours and two installations later I walked back into the classroom with my tail between my legs.  I picked up my uncostumed child and what she said I will never forget.  “Momma, I love my costume.  Miss Donna said I dressed like a pretty little girl today.  I love to be a pretty little girl.”  And that my friends is what exceptional teachers are made of.  And when I hit my knees that night, Miss Donna and her compassion probably stemming from her own mothering days gone by, were at the top of my prayer list.  Thank you God for the Miss Donnas of the world.  Thank you for the quick thinking she used with Molly which translated into grace for me. Continue reading

The Widow and the Waffle House

Remember the story of the widow and her two coins?  Both Mark 12 and Luke 21 write about her.  Jesus watched people in line to give their offering at the temple. Many gave a great deal of money.  But when He watched this poor widow give two coins He said that she gave more than all the others.  Jesus said that they all “gave out of their wealth but she gave from her poverty.”

I had an appointment in Baton Rouge this week and I was early. And I was hungry.  So pulled into Waffle House to kill both birds with one stone.  I took the last booth.  I should have sat at the counter and kept the booth available for a larger crowd.  In fact I kept looking at the chair I should have sat in but I didn’t want to sit there.  I didn’t want to watch them cook my food or any food for that matter.  I wanted to believe that my omelet was coming straight from the organic farm in the back of the restaurant cooked in the highest quality of cold pressed coconut oil.  While I day dreamed, an elderly gentleman took the very seat at the counter that I should have taken.  We both ate and finished our meals almost simultaneously.  We got our checks and got up at the same time.  He walked over to my booth in his torn, dirty t-shirt and pants and his dingy shoes.  He took my ticket from my hand and said, “I would like to take care of this for you.” And my jaw dropped and I stuttered out a very incoherent, “uhhhhhh that’s okay, I’ve got it.”  And he replied, “I would really like to do this.”  And he left our waitress a $10 tip for his $10 meal and walked to the counter.  The sweet lady saw her $10 bill and said, “Sir!! Thank you!.”   He nodded and walked to the cashier, paid our bills and walked to the door.  I ran back to leave my own tip and caught up to him.  This time I said to him, “Thank you very much sir.  That was extremely kind.” to which he replied “Have a blessed day.”

I got in my car and cried.  Naturally.  What else can you do?  That was an uncomfortable position to be in.  First of all, I am used to being in control.  When Control Freaks Anonymous has their meetings, I am their leader. Secondly, after watching this sweet soul hobble back to his old and rusty car I knew that he gave from his poverty.  I should have bought his breakfast.  I should have paid his electricity bill.  And more.  Instead he bought mine.  He wished me a blessed day but I wonder if he knew that he blessed my day? And turned it upside down on its head at the same time.

My budget is tight these days.  The price of oil is too low and the price of kids is too high. Sure wish those two elements could meet in the middle somewhere.  But torn shirt and jeans with rusty car tight?  Not even close.  How much do I give?  I’m not even sure if I can say I give from my “wealth.”   God loves to mess with us doesn’t He?  We are feeling the pinch from a tough economy so what adjustments are we all making?  Cutting back purchases, trimming vacations and putting off a new car for a year or two.  While many are feeling the punch from a tough life

Every year our organization Lane’s Promise tries to pull off our SPARK campaign at Christmas.  SPARK stands for Spreading Peace through Acts of Random Kindness. Our goal is to SPARK a chain reaction of love, peace and kindness.  The past two years got away from us but this year we put together a Lenten effort.  Most SPARKing actually occurred during Holy Week.  By doing this during Lent, our purpose was to give what we can because Jesus gave all He had.  We put out an email blast asking for volunteers and got quite a few.  We gave out $100 bills to each family and they matched it with their own funds…however much they felt comfortable with.  I have been blown away by their creativity.

Please visit our website http://www.lanespromise.org or our Facebook page for the stories.  And I hope that it SPARKs something in you to give in your own way.  Not just during Holy Week.  Not just at Christmas.

After being the very unexpected recipient of someone else’s kindness, I can attest to the fact that it does indeed SPARK a chain reaction.  I still sit in awe that someone with less than me gave so freely to me.  Oh the blessings and abundance that await him when he meets our maker!  And I pray for the opportunity to share an omelet with him one day at God’s table.  There will be no bill that day because Jesus already paid the tab.

The Merry Go Round

Okay so I was on the “Why me, God?” merry go round for a while.  “How much more, God?”  Nope I don’t have cancer and neither do my children. My house is not in foreclosure. I was however suffering from woe-is-me-itis and after the very long text thread from my soul-sister-very-dear-friend…it was contagious.

“I hate the Easter Bunny.”  And the texts went downhill from there.  She works full time and runs three kids around to their extracurriculars in her leisure time.  And sometimes in her work time.  And with two and a half weeks until that holiday, she was stressed with getting their baskets filled and the errands and ideas that come along with it.  And my response after she finished her lament?

“Oh but no. This is my week to fall apart. You can have next week.  Are you serious?  It is Easter, not Christmas.  You need to MOM up and handle your business.  Are you seriously going to let the Easter Bunny get your goat?”

Okay, I’m paraphrasing because there were a whole lot of other words in there not fit for print.  But seriously?  The Easter Bunny?  Please.

Meanwhile in Queenieland, our journey to Looneyville started about three or so weeks ago with relentless eczema.  (Truth be told, the journey really began 15+ years ago when child #1 was born, but I digress).  Molly, 3, suffers from food and environmental allergies which manifests its ugly head on her skin in the form of “itchies.”  We switched doctors and changed her meds and cream regimen.  Two weeks later she was worse.  At a follow up visit the doctor tells us that yes she has severe eczema but mixed up with it….scabies.  As in the little bugs that burrow themselves under the skin and eat and poop there.  And to make matters worse, I had it too.  So I stared the doctor down, took a deep breath and did what any grown, strong woman would do in my shoes. I burst into tears.  I rocked back and forth in my chair covering my face saying “NO, NO, NOOOOOO.”  And then the doctor went through the speech of how it has nothing to do with cleanliness or hygiene, it is common in eczema kids, they see it 2-3 times a week and it is easy to cure.  Blah blah blah.  I might have rolled my eyes 13 times at her.

Then we leave and everyone gets buckled up and I take a step out of the car to regain my composure.  And as I’m pacing through the parking lot with my hands flying around, the conversation between God and me went about like this:

“Nope.  Nope nope nope nope.  Not gonna happen.  We had a deal.  I don’t do anything with the word “nit”, “mite” or “infestation” in it.  You know this.  Strep?  Bring it.  Flu?  I got that.  Stomach bug?  In my sleep.  Three year old who breaks her foot weeks before she serves as flower girl in a wedding and is stuck in an ugly black boot? Easy peasy lemon squeezie.  Scabies??? Not taking that one. You broke our deal.”

So we head home and face the music.  We treat, we wash, we dry, we bag up and then we wash some more.  18 loads over 3 days to be exact.  And we got rid of those little buggers.  And Molly’s skin started to clear.  Until it didn’t.  And then we said hello to a secondary bacterial infection of impetigo.

In addition to our week of the Battle of the Cooties…our living room TV broke, dishwasher broke, iron broke (as a drapery seamstress, an iron is pretty necessary), daughter #2 starts with fever which turns out to be Flu B (does the B stand for Bahahahaha?) coupled with a flaming ear infection, husband unexpectedly has to go out of town 11 hours away five minutes after the flu swab turned up positive along with our usual week of extracurricular madness.  So that is what brought us to the point where I stood contagious of woe-is-me-itis.

So what do we do when we become infected?  We pay a repair man $238 to fix the dishwasher because in a house of five people who insist on eating every day but yet who also own ipads and iphones, momma gets her dishwasher fixed and the TV waits.  We get more medicine for sick children but we also beef up our supplement stash to help kick this latest bug to the curb.  We text like a mad woman lining up rides for daughter #1 and we cancel drapery installation appointments until further notice.  Because by this point, what is the point of anything else?  What is the point of shaking our fist and saying ok that’s enough.  Because we don’t get to decide that.  He decides when enough is enough for this round.  I personally thought we had hit enough when the darn eczema wouldn’t clear.   But then when we hit the part where we are laughing uncontrollably when the husband tells us he’s leaving town for a few days we realize that we can take way more than we thought we could.

Way.  More.  Because after writing that last paragraph daughter #2 (flu girl) started with the vomiting.  Juice and all of her meds laying right there on Momma’s sheets.  After spiking a fever of 103.7 in combination with not being able to keep anything down sent me on a wild goose chase in search of a pharmacy that could compound ibuprofen into a topical gel.  Of which I found none.  So after an epsom salt soak, essential oils on her feet and a whole lot of prayers, we were fever free by morning.  The rise of the sun also brought more vomiting, more washing, a puddle of water under the washing machine and then came the slow and steady achy, nauseating wave throughout my body that throbbed flu.  Aaaaaaaaand that’s when I broke.  So I just stood there with finger pointed to the sky like any rational Christian mother and said….

 “NO! You and me have GOT to get on the same page here! And I think it would just be best if You got on my page.”

That’s when this Catholic momma got out the holy water and blessed every inch of concrete, wood, sheetrock, and stainless steel along with every finger, toe, strand of hair and eyelash.  (To my non Catholic friends, the power is not in the water but in the prayers accompanying it and the faith to say them.)  And just as precaution I took Advil and vitamin C and went to bed shortly thereafter.   Then the sun came up and with it a new day and a refreshed momma.  Along with a broken garbage disposal.

So what is the cure for woe-is-me-itis?  Is it gratitude for the hand we are dealt and not the hand we could have been dealt?  Is it perspective to know that this too shall pass?  I think that it is both and along with it hindsight that forces us to look at what we have already muddled through to KNOW that we will muddle through this too.  As a mother who has already faced and survived life’s worst hand, I know that the experiences that came before helped to prepare me for that battle.  And today’s experiences only help to prepare me for tomorrow’s battle.  I am 40 years young with three daughters…the battles are far from over.  But the Easter Bunny?  I ain’t scared of him!

Please Note:  My soul-sister-very-dear-friend does not ACTUALLY hate the Easter Bunny.  At the time of her aforementioned discord with him she was in the midst of a much bigger battle.  One that is ongoing.  And he became her easy scapegoat.  Now that her battle which was originally seen as a large burden is turning into its own blessing filled with opportunity, she has since apologized to the Easter Bunny.  She has also apologized to the Tooth Fairy for similar ill feelings towards her and apologizes in advance to Santa Clause and the Elf on the Shelf for future rants she may inadvertently express.  It must also be noted that in the event that I may have also shared any negativity towards the Easter Bunny in recent days…I have apologized to him as well. ***no rabbits, fairies, jolly old men or even leprechauns were harmed as a result of this post***

 

Just Write.

After 40 years on this earth I’ve decided to listen to my parents.  I’ve decided to write.  And write more than the occasional politically charged rant or the more frequent Momma Bear tirade.  My dream is to see my words and thoughts on pages that people actually hold in their hands and flip through.  Maybe even cause a paper cut!   But I don’t know what the Lord’s dream for me is yet.  Right now He’s got me wiping bottoms and noses, sewing up side hems and flat braid trim, running daughters to here, there and everywhere, stuffing pillows and cushions, cooking roasts and Easy Mac, deciding between chenilles and checks and everything else that comes along with a busy mom trying to pay some bills making drapes.

And now He has said, “Write.”  And not just when you are mad or have a point to make.  “Write.”  And write right now.  So here we go.  I’m going to trust that He will tell me what to write, when to write it and how to write it.  Right, God?

I don’t think my writing will change your life.  But I don’t think it will end it either.  I think you may laugh.  My days tend to provide quite the entertainment.  I think you may cry once in a while.  My walk has not been an easy one but it has been woven with the most beautiful people, songs, circumstances, and coincidences that God could create.  I find myself on a perpetual journey recognizing the gifts, blessings and connections He has orchestrated to help knit back together this mother’s broken heart.

I think at the end of our days when He shows us the tapestry of our life, we will see one continuous thread running through it.  Knitted with love, faith and humor.