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First blog post

This is the post excerpt.

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As I am bumbling through this blog design process, I realize that this is no different than virtually every other area of my life: it’s not exactly how I planned it, I’m realizing half way through that I don’t really know what I’m doing,  I’m feeling out of my depth (but not too embarrassed to admit it), I’m wondering how everyone else does it and seems to make it look so effortless, and I’m thankful that people are kind enough to encourage me along the way. Technology is not always my friend, but WORDS are! And since I am nothing if not verbose, unmarried, and the parent of a male child who cannot possibly receive all the words I have to share, I am very grateful for this venue which allows me to share them with anyone who is interested. God bless you!

Celebrating Less than Perfect

Spring is the season of celebrating children in the United States. Graduations, sports trophies, scholarships, achievement awards, recitals, concerts. Schedules are packed with events; our kids, nieces and nephews, grandchildren, our friends’ kids, if we’re blessed enough to have friends like that. Social media is plastered with photos and proclamations of all those outstanding accomplishments; parents sharing their love and pride for their children, as well they should. Excellent grades, excellent performances,  excellent achievements – they are all worth celebrating and sharing. As your family member or friend, I am celebrating with you. And learning to celebrate… less than perfect.

I’d like to post a tribute to all of the children who didn’t quite achieve excellence this year, at least in any quantifiable, measurable, social media-worthy way. In fact, maybe they labored, struggled, barely made it, or even failed. Maybe for each step forward it felt like they took a step back. Or, they had to work twice as hard just to reach milestones that their peers have passed by months ago.  Maybe you struggled together toward goals that turned out to be unreachable, or maybe you felt like your child fought you every step of the way as you used every resource you had to try to help them. Or, maybe they are simply normal, non-attention seeking, happy to fly under the radar kind of personalities living in the shadow of larger than life siblings or friends. Do you love them just as much as those over-achievers? Of course you do! In fact, I’ll bet you have a special soft-spot in your heart and a fierce protective instinct when it comes to them, because you know they struggle, you know they don’t receive all the affirmations and accolades that those other kids do. Their hard-won accomplishments go largely unnoticed; no F’s on this term’s report card! or, you made it through the school year without getting suspended! or, you made a friend, a real friend! or, you are managing yourself and your stuff more responsibly every day! or, you are a kind and decent person and the world needs more of those!

Every parent has a fantasy about their child becoming someone amazing, someone incredible, someone larger than life. It is our greatest desire that our children would surpass us, in every way possible, isn’t it? Because we love them and we want… more for them. But often we are faced with the reality of a child with limitations and challenges – whether they are mental, physical, emotional or psychological, they are facing the world as damaged and flawed human beings no matter how hard we have tried to give them every help, encouragement and advantage that we can. Here’s a news flash for you: SO ARE WE! We, too, are all damaged and flawed, and doing the best we can. Some of us make it look better than others, but we all have our issues. It’s how we cope with our issues, how we deal with our challenges and how we reach out to others who are damaged and flawed that makes a difference in our world.

The end of this school year for us did not come with any awards; not for academics or sports or achievement of any measurable kind. But we made it. Together. And we’re still talking to each other. And, on the rare occasion, at 13 years of age, when we have a serious conversation about politics or social injustice or a life-altering event I am astonished with his depth of thought, his maturity and his kind-heartedness! There is no grade, no certificate, no trophy. Just me, knowing that he really is that beautiful person I have always believed him to be.

Feel free to join me in celebrating less than perfect! Plaster the social media venue of your choice with photos and narratives of those precious, unique and wonderful people who teach us every day: how to survive, how to persevere, how to overcome, and how to make the world a better place.

 

~Love is Risk, and they are worth it!

 

On the Eve of 52

It’s 11:03 on the eve before I turn 52 years of age and I am taking inventory of things I have learned this past year and in life thus far. Turns out, it’s a lot less than I thought it would be by this age. I have more questions than answers, more doubts than affirmations and I am far less likely to give, and take, advice than I was at an earlier age. Here’s a few things I know for sure:

My body isn’t what it used to be, and it lets me know in strange and not-so-wonderful ways all the time now, “Nope. Not going to happen. You might have been able to do that before, but, not now.” I’ve recently discovered I cannot sit cross-legged on the floor anymore; my right hip has decided it does not wish to participate in assuming that simple position. I don’t know how or when that happened, but, it has.

The pets that I took on reluctantly, under intense pressure from my son, have become my ‘creature comforts’. I’m secretly certain that I love and enjoy them much more than he does. I am the primary care-giver, after all. I began my life as an animal lover and I am circling back around to that. I will always have animals and am compiling a list of critters that I wish to add to my menagerie. I asked my mother for a miniature donkey for my birthday this year. She thought I was kidding. I wasn’t.

I used to think that the fact that my son would be going through puberty at the same time I would be going through menopause was some sort of cruel cosmic joke. But, now, I think it’s probably just as well that we deal with our hormonal upheaval together, commiserate as best we can, and move on. If we survive, we’ll be the stronger for it. If we crash and burn, we’ll go down together.

There is no time of day or night that is ‘too early’ or ‘too late’ for a nap. For a single, working mom who operates on 5-6 hours of sleep per night, and a growing boy, when the opportunity for extra sleep presents itself, WE TAKE IT!

I think this surprised me this year more than anything; help and comfort may come from very unexpected sources. Although I’ve been disappointed by friends and acquaintances, I’ve been blessed by new friends and brothers and sisters in Christ who have stood in the gap and provided for us in tangible ways that are invaluable: transportation, meals, mentoring, and unwavering love and encouragement. There are those who say, “You should….” and, “Have you tried…?” and there are those who say, “I’ll be there.” or, “I’m on my way.” or,  “I can do that for you.” or,  they just show up with a bag of groceries, or hot soup and biscuits. I joke about it, but I kinda mean it: food is one of my love languages.

Through the din of some challenging and chaotic times, through my own faltering faith and lack of faithfulness, God has been speaking to me, in the last month so consistently, that the message is undeniable. It is so simple it’s humbling because I must be that desperate to need it concentrated to a single phrase: God is LOVE. That’s it. That’s all. It’s ridiculous, right? But, apparently, my battered, weary soul needed that message more than any other right now. My choir recently sang an arrangement of Psalm 103, and the words have been ringing in my ears for a month; I will bless the Lord, who redeems, who restores, who forgives every sin, who renews your youth. Who at age 52 doesn’t need a little youth renewed? Am I expecting my body to feel youthful again? No. But I am hopefully expecting a youthful renewal of faith in a God whose very essence is LOVE, and whose end game, no matter how bad we manage to mess it up in the meantime, is to set all things right again. That means our broken world, our broken lives and our broken hearts. In moments of intense stress, lately, this has been my meditation.

One last thing I have learned, and some of you may be shocked, but some of you may find this incredibly liberating: it really doesn’t matter if you mix your darks and lights in your laundry. I’ve been doing it for years and nothing bad has ever happened. You’re welcome.

~ God Is LOVE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Kids and Pets Wreck Your Life… But in a Good Way

I remember an evening when I hosted a dinner party for my boss and my co-workers. The menu was carefully planned; one of the guests was vegan, so I had to be creative. The table was beautifully set ahead of time, with matching dinnerware. My house was spotless and cozy with candles flickering and carefully selected music playing softly in the background. As we sat around the table, my boss, who was known to be quite the dragon lady said with a smile, “Your home is just as I’d expected; a place for everything and everything in its place.” I could not have been more pleased.

Yeah, that was B.C.  Before Child. No one would ever make a comment like that about my home now. And dinner parties? Well, they are more a, “Grab a bowl from the counter, serve yourself some soup from the crock pot and sit where ever you want.” kind of fare. None of my dishes match, I no longer have open flames anywhere in the house, music just ads to the din, and now I rarely sit while I have company. I hop out of my chair every three minutes to manage my surly teenager, my hyper and overly friendly dog, and the sassy kitten who thinks she owns the joint. Everything is most decidedly not in its place, even if it had a place. Which is why there is always a pile of papers, pictures and clothes behind my bedroom door and if I get tired of tripping over something long enough, it goes down to the murky depths of the cellar, where I can trip over it every time I do laundry. The 768 square foot house that was juuuust right for single me when I bought it, is a little more of a challenge to contain two humans, a 62 pound canine, an indoor feline, a leopard gecko, and all our stuff. The once oatmeal colored berber carpet intermittently has a pattern; what I like to call ‘Muddy Dog Paw’ print. The kitten has little friends she plays with; she finds them under the furniture and behind the TV; they’re called dust bunnies. My car looks (and sometimes smells) like a college dorm room. And my yard? Well, let me just say this: I recently purchased a bale of straw to spread over the back ‘lawn’ to combat the mud when it’s wet, and dust when it’s dry. That’s one battle I have lost completely.

My sister reminds me that, for much of this, it’s a season; dirty floors, a muddy yard and a messy car – par for the course when raising kids and animals. The child will eventually grow up and move out, and the animals won’t live forever, and order will be restored. But part of me knows, my life has been wrecked forever, but in a good way.

I married young and was divorced and single again after six years. I did not come to alone-ness easily and had never been on my own as I had gone from my parents home to being a wife. I spent the first many years desperately working at filling my life with as many people, activities, and obligations as I could so as to be alone as little as possible. After I found my footing I began to enjoy my independence and freedom and became much more comfortable. Too comfortable. It’s not as if I didn’t have any challenges in my life, in fact, I sought them out: travel, missions, ministry, vocations, home ownership. But it was on my own terms and at my own pace and within a reasonable budget.

When my desire to be a parent out-weighed the prudence of waiting for a spouse, I made the decision to adopt on my own. This wasn’t a second-best option for parenthood for me. I had always wanted to adopt, even while I was married. Of course, making the decision to adopt and having that dream come to fruition… well, let’s just say that the seven years it took for that to happen gave me a lot of time to imagine, think and dream about how parenting would change my life. Yeah. I had NO IDEA. Nobody does. And boy, howdy! he was a challenging kid if you ever met one. And just about the time the child started to turn a corner into, “Whew, I feel like things are almost getting easier!” We got a dog. Same thing. I had no idea. (It was a downhill slope from there to getting a kitten….)

About now, you may have decided that I have lost my mind, and, you may be right. However, if you are considering being a parent, or want to begin with the starter kit of puppy or kitten, or, if you are just in the midst of the mess like me, and have a few minutes between shuttling your kid around and have the dog barking at the back door and the kitten climbing up your pant leg, here is my point: YOU ARE NOT IN CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE. You are not now, never have been, nor will you ever be. Having children and animals will make sure you will never forget this truth. These ‘creatures’ grow and change and move on to the next developmental level so quickly, whether you are ready or not. And they drag you along with them. You learn things you never would have learned, meet people you never would have met, go places you never would have gone. You learn to LET THINGS GO that aren’t important and embrace things that are important and live in the moment, because they clamor for your attention and don’t take No for an answer. Most importantly, they teach you to love deeply, tenderly and selflessly. They don’t fill you up, emotionally, they empty you completely so you are forced to find what stuff you are truly made of, who your friends really are, and in Whom your faith lies.

At the end of my life, for what do I want to be remembered? You could eat off of her floors, they were so clean, and her yard was the envy of the neighborhood. Or: She was a rescuer of lives, human and animal, and when I spilled coffee on her couch, she said, “That’s why I chose brown, because it’s the color of coffee and chocolate.”

If you are finding yourself at a comfortable place… a little too comfortable, kids and pets are a great way to make your ‘perfect’ home and life a little less comfortable, a lot less perfect and much more… honest. You are not in control of your life, but you can allow your life to be wrecked, in a good way.

 

~ Love is Risk, and messy

When Christmas isn’t Merry

I’m about to make a statement that may initiate hate mail and get me kicked out of several social circles, so brace yourselves: Christmas – not my favorite season. I’ll go farther than that – I, for the most part, intensely dislike (I generally avoid using the word ‘hate’) Christmas music. For a person of the Christian faith and a musician, not absolutely LOVING Christmas and LOVING Christmas music is, well, sacrilegious.  Even though I sing in choir, and have nearly every year of my adult life, beyond a few ancient and sacred classics, I can barely tolerate Christmas music and avoid it whenever I can. And as for the entirety of the Christmas season, I am, at best ambivalent.

Please let me explain. I grew up in a home that had every good Christmas tradition in place: family, church, food, decorations, gifts, and yes, even music. It was all good and I loved it, sharing it with my parents and my siblings. But, my ability to continue to live out my concept of that ideal was cut short by my divorce at a young age and many years living as a single person. There was still family, but it was not a family of my own. Although I never spent a Christmas alone, I did most of the Christmas season alone: shopping, cooking, decorating. While my friends and siblings were taking their children to sit on Santa’s lap, baking cookies with them and going as couples and families to see the lights, I was… not. I had rehearsals and performances and parties that I attended, but I did it on my own. If I were predisposed towards depression, these would have been my darkest days. I functioned. I made the best of it. I did my best to reach out to other single people and people who had no family in town, and I think I enjoyed Christmas day, itself, but it was a concerted effort.

Then, I became a mom, and everything changed, right? Yes, but not in the way you might think. My son had the attention span of a squirrel (and the energy level), and nothing about our Christmases together felt… traditional. It only took a year or two for me to realize that my hopes for at least a couple of family traditions for the two of us, the Nutcracker, the Singing Christmas Tree, driving around to see the lights, even decorating together, would probably ever happen, at least not without some sort of awful scene. The simple task of lighting candles on an Advent wreath he made in Sunday school and reading a short (very short) devotional became more a lesson on fire safety than Advent. There was no baking, there was no shopping (there was me, ordering online at midnight after I’d finally finished the dishes and laundry), and his contribution to decorating was to stand on the lights while I was trying to string them and to break at least one of my favorite ornaments each season. It seemed everyone else was able to achieve at least some version of their Rockwell-esque scene during the holiday season while I felt like I was, if not faking it, then, putting on one heck of a brave face.

Then came the coldest, darkest, saddest holiday season of all; last Thanksgiving day which ended with my father in the ER, in ICU for two weeks, never to return to his home, moving my parents to a retirement home in December, my dad gravely ill during Christmas and by January, he had passed away. It was the coldest winter with the most ice and snow in many years, I had just started a new job so I had no paid time off and was navigating treacherous roads in the dark, to and from work, to and from the hospital, to and from my folks. I spent those months in a haze of grief and worry, barely able to eat and sleep. I just had to make sure that my parents were cared for, my child was cared for, and I didn’t forget to buy toilet paper and dog food. I honestly thought that was going to be the year we didn’t have a tree up or any decorations. I just couldn’t muster the energy. At some point, someone gave us a pre-lit tree and I told my son who was home alone during Christmas break, if you want a tree, you’re going to have to put it up yourself. And he did, bless his heart.

OK, so, there have been some amazing and unique experiences, like when I had a Japanese friend stay over Christmas eve and come with me to my parents’ on Christmas day because she had no one with whom to celebrate Christmas. She was the only Christian in her family; all the rest were Buddhist. She was full of joy and gratitude, just to GET to celebrate Christmas. One year, I flew to Spokane on Christmas day to visit my sister and her family and it was snowing so hard they had to circle the plane till they could plow the runway. The flight attendants made everyone on the plane sing Christmas carols till it was safe to land. Then, there was the year we call our Kosher Christmas. My parents, who have traveled to Israel countless times, met and befriended a group of young people from Israel who were selling beauty products from the Dead Sea in a kiosk in the mall. “Wouldn’t you like to see what it’s like to celebrate Christmas in a traditional American home? Well come on over!” The catch? A couple of them had Jewish dietary restrictions. No problem! Kosher Christmas dinner it is! And the one year I let my 10 year old stay up really late so we could attend a midnight mass with a friend, who sneaked away from her sleeping family to come pick us up. None of us are Catholic, we just had always wanted to see what a midnight mass was all about. All memorable, but, not exactly Christmas card-worthy.

Christmas just isn’t always merry. Sometimes, it’s downright dysfunctional. Sometimes there is grieving to be done, and sometimes, I’m just slogging through life, doing the best I can. Even when things are going well, I find it to be exhausting and disillusioning. With jam-packed work schedules, school schedules and social calendars, who has time to ENJOY Christmas? But if I close my eyes really tight, clamp my hands over my ears, I can see, hear and feel it in my own way. I hear angelic boys’ choirs in great cathedrals, “Gloria in excelsis Deo!”, mysterious Gregorian chants in stone monasteries, “Veni, Veni Emmanuel”, guitars in country churches with broken pipe organs, playing Stille Nacht, and the very sweetest tenor notes ever written, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people”. I can see a rocky hillside in Bethlehem, the ground of which I’ve walked with my own feet. I see a manger carved out of stone used as a cradle. A baby crying. Of course he cried. He never held back his emotions as an adult; why would he as an infant? I feel the tension of nations perched precariously on the brink of war, people longing for something bigger than themselves, bigger than everyone and everything else that has disappointed and failed them, to hope in.

O ye beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.
For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold,
When the new heaven and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace, their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

Christmas doesn’t have to be merry. But it does have hope.

 

~Love is Risk

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the Whole World’s Gone Mad

How do I let my child walk out the door each day, when the whole world’s gone mad. I’ve been asking myself this question a lot, lately. My son has just become a teenager, and although he’s nowhere near driving a car, or going on dates, or working at a job, he is asking to do very teenage things like hang out with friends at the mall, or walk to a friend’s house, or, just in general, go places and do things without me, which he should; he’s 13, after all. I knew this was coming. This is good, right? These forays into the world are the necessary steps towards developing independence. But do you KNOW what’s going on out there?! Good grief! I don’t want to know, and I still know. I rarely watch the news and I don’t read the paper, but doggonit, I still find out – the world has gone mad! Petty and dangerous despots are ruling countries like petulant, bratty boys bullying a playground full of children, only they have access to nuclear weapons! Neo-Nazis are brazenly flaunting their hateful dogma. And it seems like not a week goes by without a report of a gunman in a school, church or shopping mall, which are pretty much all the places my kid is these days.

Which brings me to another question I’ve been asking myself, lately: How many times can you have a conversation with your child that involves the term ‘active shooter’ before it gets weird. “Be on your best behavior, be respectful of adults and remember, if there’s an active shooter, there’s always a back door in every store – you don’t have to go back out into the mall to get out.”  Massive eye-roll, heavy sigh, “I know! You’ve told me! I got it.” Here’s another one: How do you explain to your 13 year old (who is black and looks like he’s 17 or 18) why you are spending a Saturday morning at the DMV to get him official ID to carry as proof of his age without using the words ‘police brutality’ and how do you foster an attitude of trust and respect with law enforcement while still telling him things like, “Now, if I get pulled over, I want you to stay quiet, be completely still and keep your hands in your lap.”

Is anyone else having these conversations with their kids? No? OK, it’s just me, then. Maybe it’s not on a daily basis, and we have a lot more mundane, hourly grind sorts of things to hash through to get through each day, but there are times when fear overwhelms me. Feel free to insert your favorite spiritual platitude in here- “You have to trust God! Pray for him! God is in control!” But, the truth is, not one of us knows the number of our days, nor the number of days of the ones we love the most. OK! Good talk. God bless! Have a nice day!

You were hoping for a cheery and inspirational conclusion, weren’t you? Well, here’s the best I can do: a sobering reality check. If the world comes to an end tomorrow, or if all is well and my worries were for naught, will I regret letting my son experience every good thing he can in this life that is in my power to allow? No. Either way, no.

You want to ride on a city bus to the mall with your friend? I don’t even know how to get to the mall on the bus! But your friend knows how? He does it all the time? (Internally gasping for breath.) Externally: OK. How much does it cost? Call me if you need a ride home. (By the way, riding the city bus is ‘fun’ when you’re 13. Who knew?)

You want to walk to McDonald’s to meet your friends? You mean McCreepy’s in the ‘hood?! Absolutely not! That’s the worst part of town. “Mom, my friends LIVE right next door to that McDonald’s….” Oh. Well. When you’re done eating, why don’t you go over to the park. Wear a backpack so you can take a football. (Apparently, when you’re a teenage boy, you don’t get tired of eating at McDonald’s even when you live next door.)

You want to go on a ten mile hike with the neighbor and his girlfriend whom I’ve only met twice? “But, I know them, Mom. I’ve played basketball with him for like, three years, and he’s super nice and he’s my friend.” But, how do I know I can trust them? “I trust them!” Sigh. Let’s go walk over and talk to them. Go with you? Heck, NO! I can’t hike ten miles!

So, how DO I send my child out the door into a world gone mad?

Take your wallet. Do you have money? Is your phone charged? If anything happens, remember – “Mom! I got it!” There is no hug and kiss goodbye these days. If I’m lucky I get a “Love you, too.” as I watch him go. And I trust that God is in control (Sometimes, on a good day), and I pray. And life is lived… in this mad world.

 

Love is Risk ~ and so is life

 

 

 

 

When I am not Enough

I really want to believe that since God chose me to raise my son (and I do very much believe that) that I am the perfect parent for him and completely sufficient for the task. I recently watched a very sweet and humorous internet video blog posted by a mom who was attempting to encourage parents, mothers in particular, to believe in their unique ability to parent their children and not compare themselves to other parents. And while I appreciate her intent, and I was quite encouraged and entertained by her video, when she emphatically stated over and over, “You are enough!” I knew in the deepest part of my heart that simply is not true.

Never mind the fact that the moody and often hurtful teenager who lives in my home reminds me of this fact almost daily, I see evidence of this in the broken lives and broken relationships of the people around me; family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances whose children have made bad choices, broken ties with their families, and destroyed themselves and the people around them. It’s very rare when I see a family like that and think, “It’s no wonder – with a mother like her, who could blame him? I’d go off the deep end, too!” Most of the time I find myself thinking, “If it could happen to them, it could happen to us.”

When I find myself so inadequate – in battles waged on behalf of my son, Ah! there are so many! And battles waged with my son, Oy! too many to count, and that’s just today! I know for a fact that I am NOT enough. It is a very rare moment (moment, not day) when I feel like I have made steps forward without taking at least a step back in the process. Perhaps yours is not a moment by moment struggle with your child, but a hit you on the blind side blow, or a sudden downward spiral, or a frog in gradually heated water till it’s boiling crisis. And you realized: you are not enough. Yes, God chose YOU to parent THIS child. Yes, but…  how? How did we get here? This is not how I thought it would be.

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 2:23. It’s one of those cruel to be kind verses. All. You, me, this child, that awful harsh world out there, those teachers who don’t get him, those friends who are leading him astray, family members who don’t understand him. All. And the kind part, verse 24: “and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” We don’t have to be enough, we can’t be – we’re all on equal footing in this respect; flawed humans in need of a savior. Jesus is enough. He out loves us, out reaches us, out forgives us, and out lives us. He knew from the beginning that we would be inadequate and chose us to do it anyway.

So, we live to fight another day, and we will… fight, another day, and the day after that, till we die…. It may not be pretty, but it is noble, and absolutely ordained by God.  And where my resources are limited, His are limitless. Where I fall short, He not only gives grace, but gives it freely. What a wonderful word, freely. Good thing, because I need a lot of it.

~ Love Is Risk

 

From 3 to 13; a Decade Together

My baby turns 13 tomorrow, except he wasn’t my baby. He was someone else’s baby and came to me three months shy of his 3rd birthday. Motherhood and toddlerhood were nearly instantly established and we became a family. The adoption journey took roughly (and I mean ROUGHly) seven years, and it took a full year after I took custody of my son for our adoption to finalize, but we were certainly mother and son from the first day we began living in the same home together. In fact, he called me Mom the second time I visited him. I wasn’t sure how that would work. He was so little, barely verbal, and there was no Daddy to say, “Look! There’s Mommy! Give it to Mommy.” And his foster parents would only refer to me by my first name. So, how would he know? A stranger, appearing in his life, a different race, a different face than he’d known for the past nine months. He knew. And called me Mom, almost whispered it the first time, as if he was afraid someone else would hear him say it and challenge him. Within a week, he was in his own home, in his own bed, in his own family, and calling it endlessly as only a toddler can do; Mom, Mommy, Mom, Mom, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Moooooooommmmmy!!! I was sure I would never get tired of hearing it. I did. But it took a long time.

So, in a decade of motherhood, what have I learned? Well, if you’re expecting pithy parenting advice, it shall not be forthcoming. I got nothin. Because, first and foremost I have learned that I am not the mother I thought I would be. If I hold myself to the standard of the parenting examples I regard highly; my own parents, my siblings, close friends and people I admire, I usually feel I fall short in nearly every category. I suck at providing healthy home-cooked meals, I have NEVER been successful at getting my son to bed at a decent hour (ADHD don’t do bedtime), apparently I’m a yeller (didn’t know that until I became a parent) and for some reason, ever since my father died, I’ve been known to swear, occasionally, which has shocked and mystified my son as much as it has me.  There’s no point in laying ALL my dirty laundry out for public viewing. Nobody needs to see that. You’ve all got your own, I’m sure.

The other thing I’ve learned is that my child is not the child I thought he would be. Who is that child, anyway? He is male with an XYYYY! He doesn’t think like me, act like me, talk like me, move like me. He is not good at many of the things that come easily to me, and he excels at all the things I’ve never been able to do. I am a deep thinker, a person of words. He is a physical person and a person of movement. And the most startling discovery: my priorities for his life are very rarely his priorities, and my dreams for his future may be very, very different than his dreams for his future. I think that might be the biggest paradigm shift of parenting.

I think there ought to be a 12 Step program for parenting. Not for any particular addiction or abuse, just for regular parenting. It starts, of course, with Rule #1: Admit that you have a problem, and your kid does, too, doesn’t he? We all do! We’re all flawed. My son came to me from the foster care system and was so very broken, but then, I was broken in my own way, too, having been through a divorce and, well, just experiencing a lot of disappointments that come from living long enough to know life’s not fair. There’s been times when our brokenness has compounded one another’s and I felt like we were just a hot mess, and other times, when sharing the experiences we’ve had, either as individuals or together, transcended family; I’m not just your mother, I’m a person, you’re not just my son, you’re a person, we’re human beings, made in God’s image, dearly loved and desperately in need of redemption.

What do you do for your 10th anniversary of parenting? Well, a vacation AWAY FROM EACH OTHER is a good idea! Which I did; a weekend at the beach with a dear and trusted friend to rest, reflect, counsel, pray and face the reality of what my expectations were and are for my child and how they may, or very well may not, ever come to fruition. And a gift? If anyone is asking: carpet cleaning.

Love Is Risk (and hard on carpet)