Wednesday, July 23, 2014

On finding Grace in disappointment...

I remember Mama’s red eyes well.  She’d been crying and I could feel the hurt and disappointment in the air.

One of my brothers had been caught with something in his room.  Obviously something he wasn’t supposed to have, but I didn’t yet know what.

Through overheard conversations and the events to come, I eventually learned that he’d taken something from the grocery store without paying for it.

Mama made him take back those empty wrappers from the candy bars he’d eaten and talk to the manager at the store.

I have always thought my Mom made good parenting decisions. Ok, well, maybe not as a child, but as an adult, I have appreciated the lessons I learned from her.
It’s funny how you always think, “when I become a Mom, I’m gonna do this like Mom did, but not that.” {Sorry, Mom!}

Now that I’m a parent, it’s not uncommon to find myself wondering what Mom would do in certain situations.  Unfortunately, it’s not always convenient to call her and ask and, many times, the decision or discipline has to be made on the spot.

So when I realized earlier this week that one of my kids was a thief, I immediately thought back to what Mom did all those years ago.
Last Friday, I had to go clothing and shoe shopping for the trip I left for today.  The kids were relatively well behaved, but of course, always ask for things: “Mommy, can I get this? Mommy, can we get that? Mommy, what’s this? Can I have one?”

I get tired of answering those questions and, quite honestly, I get tired of saying “no.”  Checkout stands are the worst! This is where they put the little trinkets and “add-ons” that they KNOW children especially will want.

It was one of these tiny trinkets (the kind that cost .99¢) that ended up in my washing machine basin on Monday night.
As soon as I saw it, I knew what it was and where it came from.  I knew I didn’t buy it and I knew one of my children took it.
As it turns out, another toy went through the wash too.
On Tuesday morning, both kids were sitting on the couch and I told them to stay there: I wanted to talk to them.  I went the to the laundry room to retrieve the toy and the stolen item and came back with one in each hand.

As I held the toy out, I asked, “Who does this belong to?” Sweetpea was quick to respond – “that’s mine!” So I gave it to her and reminded her to check her pockets before adding clothes to the laundry pile.
Then I opened my hand to reveal the stolen trinket and asked who it belonged to.
My son, 6, immediately said, “oh, that’s that thing from that store and Sweetpea stole it!”
I have to confess; I thought HE was the one who took it!

After all, he was the one who asked for it the most in the store. So I thought for sure, he was saying that to deflect that fact that he was the culprit.
I waited patiently for someone to confess.
I watched their faces and tried to read what they were thinking.
Buddy was already crying and insisting it wasn’t him. I didn’t know if I could believe him or not.

And to my surprise and dismay, Sweetpea confessed it was she who took it.
She claimed she didn’t take it off the counter. Rather, that she found it on the floor and put it in her pocket.

I asked her if it was hers.  I asked if she paid for it.  I asked who it belonged to and then I asked what we should do with it.
Luckily for her, she replied that we should take it back {that was my plan anyway}.

Regardless of where she found it, or how small it was, I know she heard me tell Buddy to put it (the same trinket) back.  And, as her Dad said, she wouldn’t have been so upset about it, if she hadn’t already known it was wrong.

The whole process was quite possibly more painful for me than for her.  In her case, the manager she spoke with was very lenient and thanked her for “doing the right thing and bringing it back.” I made sure she knew that it could’ve gone much differently.
While I  could have chosen NOT to go through with taking it back, I learned a long time ago not to let MY embarrassment affect my parenting decisions.  If I do that, I’m not making the best choice for my children.  In the long run, I want them to learn a lesson and grow up to be responsible citizens, not  do them a disservice to protect my own ego.

I want them to know the line between wrong and right isn’t blurred – it’s definite.

For me, as a Mom, I find the line between discipline and grace much harder to discern.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

All Tied Up...

I can remember it like it was yesterday... 
old & familiar all at once. 

Sleeping over at a friends' house... 
Her older sister also a friend... 
We needed pictures for our senior ad in the yearbook, so we decided some silly, fun photos were called for.  
The sister was the photographer. 
We flipped our heads over fast trying to catch the right shot. 
We hung over the side of the bed, we twirled, we laughed - a lot. 
If anyone would've told me then that my friend wouldn't be alive to see those pictures in the yearbook or to walk across the graduation stage, I would've called them a liar. 
I don't know if it's the upcoming HS reunion or unusual number of thoughts about my hometown, but something has me thinking about Stacy an awful lot these days. Not that it's unusual for me to think about her, but generally the heightened thoughts are around the anniversary of her death and that was back in April. 

Little cute bows.

That's how I wish I could end everything.
All nice and finished just so.  
The perfect ending no matter the subject or the story's beginning.

In grade school when they taught us how to write, there were definite steps. A process to make sure you fulfilled the formula; the final peg being the conclusion - the thing that wrapped it all up. 

But the words above?
They're something I wrote weeks ago and I can't bring myself to finish them. There's no nice neat way "to wrap it all up." 
No pretty bow to stick on it and call it done. 

Since I wrote these words, I've been back home for a visit.
Every time I return, as much as I've missed the area & the family there, there's part of me that can't leave again quickly enough. 

It pains me that I feel this way. 
I wish I didn't. 

But as I drove home a week or so ago, I was pretty sure John was beside me on the highway. I caught a quick glimpse but was afraid to turn and look closer. I made a beeline to 95 South. 

And every time I'm home, I think about Stacy. I keep thinking one day I'll go visit her grave - maybe bring flowers -but I never do. 
This too pains me. 

It's the oddest sensation really. 
To flashback & think about an old friend or an old time as if she is right there or it just happened; yet, also realize that person & that time are long gone & can't be gotten back. 

It's kind of like being asleep yet fully aware of the fact that what you are experiencing is just a dream. 

I think back on a lot of my adolescence that way. As if experiencing them at two extremes - nostalgic longing & a desire to run in the opposite direction. I'm not disillusioned enough to think that's not weird.  I know it's weird.

Oddly enough, I think that same concept is what's kept me from finishing the above post.
Some people, you will just always miss and always want back no matter.
For the rest of my life I will miss my friend.

At the same time, thinking about her is painful.
I'm diligent about how far I let my thoughts go when it comes to painful things.

I think I better get used to the absence of little cute bows... 

Friday, June 20, 2014

On 20 years and looking back with wonder...

I wasn't voted "most likely to succeed" in high school.
I wasn't voted "best dressed," "most talented," or half of the "cutest couple."
In fact, I wasn't any of the Senior Superlatives.

Back then?  That mattered to me.
Now? I really couldn't care much less. 

Today is 20 years and 10 days since I graduated from high school.

A lot happens to a person in 20 years.

As much as I always thought I'd never go back - never miss that place; I did and I do.

In many ways, I don't care to even think about high school.  Mostly because of the mistakes I made and dumb things I did.  Some of the hair styles and clothing choices were  embarrassing, really.  Most of my high school friends I lost touch with.  I might be friends with them on Facebook, but my view of Social Media is that it makes us more antisocial than social these days.

Recently, I rewatched the entire series of The Wonder Years on Netflix. {By the way, TONS of now famous people had small roles on that show.  It was so fun spotting them as I was watching.}
I loved that show back then and remember crying when it went off the air.  But I have to say, in addition to doing a series finale the RIGHT way, that show was just in general done well.  It taught a lesson.  The use of the narrator who now has hind-sight was so beneficial. And now, as an adult, the show was so much better for me.  I could identify with the characters as young adults, but also with the narrator whose perspective was so much different looking back on his earlier escapades.

Eric Dane as Captain of the Football team...

Jim Caviezel as a Basketball star...

Seth Green playing what he plays best - a punk...

In the finale, grown-up Kevin, as narrator, says this:

"Growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day you're in diapers, the next day you're gone. But the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul."

And they do.  As much as I'd like to forget some of the dumb things I said and did in high school; the relationships that never should've happened and the ones I wish I'd kept alive through the years, my memories of that time have stuck with me.

My 20 year reunion is scheduled for this October.  Part of me is scared silly and part of me is so excited to see some of those people again.
I'm scared because I know some people will think I've changed and also because I know some of them will NOT have changed.
I'm excited to rekindle some of the friendships that I haven't kept up with.

And in 4 months when the reunion night rolls around, I hope I feel the way I do now:
proud of who I've become and way less concerned with what others think of me than I ever was in High School.

I have changed. And that's ok.
Thank God I've changed, actually. 

Back then, I thought I had nothing in common with "those people."
I wanted nothing more than to leave that small town & never LOOK back, much less COME back.
They were small and small-minded, or, so I thought.
But the older I get, the funny thing is, I have more & more in common with that small town & those "small-minded" people. Some might say I've gone backwards.
Instead of getting more "big-city" and "large-minded" I've come to know the value of that small town & those conservative people.
Heck, I might even be MORE conservative than some of them now.
And you know what? I'm ok with that.
Those people & that town, helped shape me into the person I am now. Just as college, marriage, motherhood & other life experiences have helped shape me. 

And looking back, it was never that I didn't have anything in common with that place & those people. It was just that I didn't know it yet.

So let them say I've changed.

I don't look the same.
I don't act the same.
I don't talk the same. 

Inside, part of me is the same girl I was at 18: ambitious, full of potential, ready to take on the world.
It's just that now, I've worked out most of the kinks of WHO I am. Now I'm free to concentrate on what I'm going to do next, how I'm going to do it, and who I'm going to do it with.

I wasn't voted "most likely to succeed."  

But really, what did any of us know about success at 18? 

20 years and counting! 
Looking back on those years and remembering with wonder...

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Look out, here comes Summer!

So I realized today that there are only 11 days of school left for my kids.

And IMMEDIATELY I start trying to figure out how to get all MY stuff done before that happens.

Obviously, it isn't going to happen, but that's just how my mind works when I'm up against a deadline.

I am extremely excited about one thing, though; summer means no more packing lunches!
Can you hear the angels singing??!! 
I can!

I'm not even sure why I despise this task so much, but I really hate packing lunches.  Buddy absolutely REFUSES to buy lunch at school unless I make him, so I have packed his lunch EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. this year with maybe 6 exceptions.  On those days, it was breakfast-for-lunch day - mini-pancakes, sausage, syrup and the like.  It's generally the 3rd Friday of the month and a much needed break for me.

So the thought of TEN WHOLE WEEKS of no lunches to pack??!! It thrills me!

What doesn't thrill me??

TEN WHOLE WEEKS of my kids at home all the time!

What about you? What are you most excited about this summer?

Linking this post up with Mama Kat's writer's workshop