Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Collection

(This list is a compilation of the things I posted on Facebook and Twitter during the month of November.)

I am thankful for...

Starbucks baristas who greet me by name and make my drink just the way I like it.

Facebook. I love staying virtually connected when face to face is not an option.

Bright blue skies to start my day.

All the people that pour their hearts and lives into my boys. We are blessed by an amazing village.

College Gameday and Saturdays full of football games on tv.

Sprinkles Peanut Butter Chip cupcakes. Even better, we got them for free via Twitter - another thing I'm thankful for.

Favorite books that you can read over and over again. There is nothing more comforting when you are too tired or sick than wrapping yourself up in a beloved book's story.

The amazing worship team at our church. They create a space of worship for me each week.

Mornings with elementary kids. Nothing makes you feel more important than 24 sets of eyes taking in every word you say.

Play dates and sweet friends for my kids.

Fridays, so full of hope and expectation. And so consistent. We get one every week.

First goals of the season. So proud of all Hockey Boy's hard work.

Restful Sundays.

My quirky little boy, Middle Man. I love seeing his mind at work. I love his curiosity and the funny things he says. I love his strong will even when it drives me nuts. I love that he is happy as he is, not needing to follow the crowd. He has strong sense of self that I admire.

My baby who turns 5 today. He loves life and his laugh and enthusiasm are infectious. He is a determined little guy who goes after what he wants. He loves all things sports and he loves his momma. I am so thankful that God brought this little one into our family.

Hockey Boy - my first born. The one that taught me how to love in unexpected ways. I love his inquisitive mind, his tenacious spirit and his commitment to excellence.

Lunch dates with friends!

Air travel and sweet friends who made the trip to see me and my life in our new (old) town.

Glittery nail polish and sparkling vampires. (My girlfriends flew down for the weekend to see the new Twilight movie with me and to shop, eat and be together. So much love.)

My husband who works hard every single day so we can pursue our passions.

The swimming pool being open again and how much my boys love being in the water.

Cozy flannels, a warm house, coffee in bed and a lazy morning with the boy.

Today, and every day, I am thankful for grace, amazing grace.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Who Is God's Favorite?

I have three children. Three boys, three brothers. They are close in age, less than four years separates them. They are the biological children of my husband and I. I say that only to point out that their genetic make up comes from the same source. I see my husband and I in each of them. I see little parts of each in the other.

And yet...

And yet, each of my boys is so uniquely themselves. Their personalities established long ago. One of my boys is a momma's boy in the best sense of the word. He adores me and wants to be with me a lot, more than the others do. He loves to start his morning with cuddles in my bed. One of my boys is quiet, an introvert. He would spend hours looking at puzzle books or laying in bed thinking if his brothers left him alone. He does not like kisses but if I sit next to him on the couch long enough our bodies will slowly move closer and closer until we are touching. My oldest is becoming more independent, more a young man, filling his world with friends and activities. But he still wants to end his day with a kiss from his mom and dad.

My three boys experience me differently. They need me to love and interact with them differently and I do. I have learned how to connect with each of my boys on their terms. I do not change, the essence of me is the same, but each has a unique understanding of who I am based on our unique relationship. They see me through the lenses of their interactions with me. I imagine how they would describe me. So much of who I think I am would be left out because they don't have access to that part of me.

One of my boys needs less of me - less time - less connection.
Do I want more? Yes.
But is that who he is?
What he needs? No.
He is made uniquely himself.

I think about how we relate to God, our Father. How often do I assume that other people connect to God the same way I do? How often do I let other's experiences of God affect how I try to relate to God.

I often feel awkward in rooms when people have strong emotional experiences with God. I feel like I am missing out. Am I too unfeeling? Do I not love God enough?

I am beginning to realize that I am me. And God and I relate in our own way. I am not my brothers or sisters. I don't have to compare my relationship with God to theirs. I see God through the filter that is my life, through my emotional needs, and my interactions with God. He does not change, but He does show up in my life the way I need Him to and that may look very different than how He shows up in someone else's life.

I don't have to wonder who is God's favorite.

Because we all know that parents don't have favorites. We love all our children. We just love them in different ways, depending on their needs and who they are.

(Don't tell God's other kids, but I know I'm His favorite.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

I graduated the year of the first Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm I think was the name. I did not personally know anyone who was deployed though I have an uncle who served in the Navy at the time.

I was married when we invaded Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom. It was right after 9/11. I remember people talking about whether this would be our generations call to duty, like all those boys that rushed to enlist after Pear Harbor. People did enlist but not in droves. I, along with most of my high school class went off to college. I did not personally know anyone who served in that conflict.

By the time the Iraq war began in 2003, I had a newborn at home, a newborn son. His gender felt important in light of a war. Before our troops were called home, I went on to give birth to two more boys. I still did not personally know anyone deployed to the war zone.

Six years ago, Veteran's Day took on a whole new meaning. It became the day after my friend lost her daughter and began a fight for her life in a horrible, tragic car accident. So for six years, November rolls around and I am reminded of November 10th. I am reminded of sitting in the ICU waiting room with her husband. Nothing we did could comfort and yet knowing it mattered that we were there with him. He was a veteran. Now this day, November 11th, only reminds him of the day before.

This year, my kindergartner learned about Veteran's Day in school. His teacher is amazing at explaining things to little kids. She reminded Little One that he does know a veteran. Our neighbor across the street flew helicopters in Iraq. He spent six years overseas and three in Iraq. I learned this today when the boys and I took over some pumpkin muffins we made as a small way to say thank you. His first deployment to the war was six months after he married his beautiful wife. I cannot imagine the pain of separation. I cannot imagine the worry. Those first years of marriage are hard enough without being apart for months at a time with the possibility of death hanging overhead.

Veteran's Day has passed me by for so many years. I think of it as a day off, a respite in our busy schedules. Little One in all his enthusiasm about learning new things reminded me that this holiday is not about sleeping in. It's about thanking those men and women who couldn't sleep well for months and years when deployed so that I can.

I am thankful for our neighbor, for his safe return to his wife, and for both of their sacrifices.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I May Be a Thinker but I Do Have Feelings

So my mom visited last weekend. I have a complicated relationship with her.

It has been a long and often painful road being her daughter. But in the last few years, I have found my way. I have found my own life. I have created my own family.

I have spent years mourning the loss of what could have been with her. And now we move on. No longer as mother and daughter because that relationship was so damaged and dysfunctional that I had to let it go. The only hope we had was to redefine our relationship around my boys - as the grandmother and mother of my boys.

And most of the time that is okay. Most of the time I can hold onto the intellectual arguments about how this is best for my kids.

You know those letters that people throw out, the Myers Briggs test results. The ones that tell you if you are in introvert or an extrovert, whether you are an NP  or a SJ.  I had to take the full test in college, as part of the resident assistant application process. I am a I/E NTJ. And not just a T but a strong T. I am a thinker. I do have feelings but I don't use them for my decision making. I don't trust them. I know they change and often quickly. But thinking I trust. Information and research and thinking through the consequences works for me.

All this to say that for the most part, I can intellectualize the importance of having my kids' grandma in their lives. I can compartmentalize my feelings and invite her into my home.

I can try to hide my stress during her visits. I can smile and pretend I am not worried about what she might say.

I can try to act like her daughter around my kids. Even when she reaches out to touch me and my body wants to jump back.

I can do my best to model healthy adult relationships for my boys.

But there is still a small part of me, hidden deep, that aches when I drop her off at the airport. The little girl in me that wishes so desperately that she had a mom I could call when she was having a bad day.

I may be a thinker but I do have feelings. And it still hurts.