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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Letting Go and Letting God, Redefined.

My dreams for my children have always been ordinary.

I don't really know what that says about me, but it's the truth.

All I've ever wanted for them is that they are happy and find fulfillment in their lives. I hoped that they would marry someone who would love them forever and always, and that they would have children who would also be happy and healthy. I dreamed that they would have a job that would bring them satisfaction, yet also enough income to have everything they need and some of what they want. All of this, along with safety, health and longevity.

Plentiful dreaming, but not extraordinary.

I never dreamed that they would be world renowned for anything- music, sports, inventions etc. That never occurred to me at all.

Since August, I feel that I am being stretched in ways that I never anticipated and honestly, never wanted. Well, I never would have wanted it I'm sure but honestly I don't know that it ever really occurred to me at all.. that I might have a child who was interested in serving his country.

Blithely in July, I took both my sons to visit the Air Force Academy in Colorado. We oohed and aahed over the extraordinary architecture of the Chapel, ate a pizza in the food court, peeked around the bookstore. It was a stop amongst many stops on our five week trip and it registered as no more than that for any of us.

Thus, when my Dad was coming for a visit in August, I planned a day for us to drive over the Annapolis. We'd visit the capitol city of Maryland, tour the Naval Academy and eat at a crab house. A wonderfully enjoyable way to spend a summer afternoon, I'd say. And I was right.


I did not foresee the rapidly growing excitement in my 16-now-17 year old son's eyes. I did not see the sudden fire of desire and passion and then when I saw it, I fully expected it to flame and then burn out quickly.

Now it is nearly December. He is single minded in his desire to attend the Naval Academy. Each test score, each leadership position, each accomplishment is a step in that direction. It is his first choice, his motivation, his dream.

But wait!

What about MY dreams?

I realize now that nowhere in MY dreams did I leave room for his dreams to be different. Not that his are directly opposed to mine of course, but nowhere in my dreaming was there a risk taken that could shatter the comfortable progression I had chosen.

In the months since August, I have wrestled fiercely with my desire to support his dreams while also desperately fearing them.

It's admirable to want to serve our country and I think the Naval Academy is a good school, I really do. I can see him absolutely loving it, actually, and growing by leaps and bounds in his natural gifts of excellence, motivation and leadership. But when I think of the years after the Academy, at least five, when his life will potentially be in peril, I want to vomit. I have a literal, visceral reaction that I've only ever experienced before when I have felt that someone is threatening my children.

That's it. That's what it feels like. It is that crazed Mama Bear response that rises up like the fiercest beast and protector, except that my son is walking toward what I am perceiving as the threat, by choice. He doesn't want my protection in this, and I have no idea what to do with these feelings.

My work over the past few months, my work now, and my work in the next year plus, is to learn to shift my way of thinking. His life is his life, his dreams are his dreams. I will have to put my trust in him to live his life as he feels called and led to do, and put my trust in the Academy (should he go there) to teach him well. And I will be calling on God with every fiber of my being to protect him and hold him in his care.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Evolution of Brothers

It's late Thursday afternoon.
I've just gone to pick up Trey from Robotics at school and we're pulling in the driveway at 5:15.
Chris greets Trey when we walk in the door.

"Hey Trey, come on, let's play Airsoft!"
"No," grumbles Trey. "I don't want to."

I'm not surprised by this. Trey always needs some time to decompress when he gets home from school. He is "peopled out." Usually we set a timer for a half hour of electronics time and then he's back to himself again.

"Come on Trey, please? It'll be fun. We haven't done this for a while!" Chris pleaded, but it fell on deaf ears. Trey was having none of it.

A bit later, after Trey's electronics time and decompression, Trey began trying to engage Chris.
"Hey Chris, let's go play Zombies!"
"Nah," said Chris, "not right now. I don't really want to."
"Ah, come on! You know you want to! Just for a little while! Come on, please?" wheedled Trey, to no avail.

Following dinner, Trey tried again and this time, Chris complied. They headed up to Kate's room, which is currently serving double duty as the Gaming room while we have our basement finished.

I smiled to myself downstairs as I heard shouts of joy, or dismay, or occasionally anger while the boys played their game.

A while later, Trey came down. He smiled at me but also looked slightly annoyed. I gave him a quizzical glance.
"What's up?"
"Oh, Chris just wouldn't put his phone down. He kept texting and he got killed by the Zombies THREE TIMES because he was texting."

I gave him a hug and a gentle smile.
"He has his first girlfriend, Trey. It's kind of taking over things a little bit right now."
"Well, I'll never let that happen to ME" he grumbled and I smiled.
"Give it time, sweetie, you might be surprised when your time comes."

A couple of hours later, I was headed upstairs to read in bed for the night.
Walking by Kate's room, I see the two boys hanging out companionably on the bed, side by side. Each of them is doing his own thing but happily and comfortably together.

After a while, Chris comes into my room and flops across my bed to say goodnight.
"I spent a lot of time with Trey tonight. I think he really liked it," he said conspiratorially.
I assured him that indeed he did and relayed to him briefly the conversation that I had had with Trey downstairs.
"What you are doing is normal and fine, and your brother is going to need time to adjust to sharing you with someone else" I said as I gave him a big hug. "He's used to you belonging to him!"

It has been a pleasure to watch the evolution of the friendship between the boys.
Rob and I both feared that there would come a time when Chris might reject Trey in favor of growing up and moving on.. that often happens in sibling relationships, at least for a time.
Instead, we see a good bit of tolerance in Chris, possibly more than is deserved sometimes.
He has taken Trey running and encouraged him to join Cross Country next year, been mostly agreeable about his Varsity baseball coach including eighth graders in Winter Training, and encouraging of Trey trying out for the play again. What this translates to is my 8th grader and my high school junior spending quite a lot of time together after school at practices and activities, not to mention the drive to and from school every day.

Hopefully over these next months of first loves, mission trips, and preparation for college, these boys will continue to foster their relationship and build bonds that cannot be broken.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Five Day of Christmas Misfire

A couple of months before Christmas, Rob and I toyed with the idea of taking a trip during Christmas vacation with the kids.
We thought about a few places we might go or things we might do, but ultimately decided against taking a trip. Instead, we decided to capitalize on the time that Rob was taking off to spend dedicated and planned time together as a family. From there, the "Five Days of Christmas" was born.

We chose a few activities and planned which days we might do them. We said nothing to the kids. After all the festivities of Christmas Day, we called them downstairs to tell them about the activity for the next day.

As a general rule, we don't often call the kids to the family room for a group discussion. Any time we have had a "family meeting" like this, it tends to be something serious in nature that we want to convey to them. We didn't realize at the time that calling them all to meet up with us would freak them out, but it became obvious as they gathered in front of Rob and I, who were sitting together on the couch.

Kate arrived first and sat across from us on the ottoman, eyes wide, brow furrowed. Chris followed and remained standing. Trey sauntered in a minute or two later, sat on the opposite couch, and got right to the point: "Are we in trouble?"

At this point, toying with them had become completely irresistible. "No, you aren't in trouble," I said sagely to the saucer eyed children, "your Dad and I have something we'd like to talk with you about."


Rob, my lovely dear husband who is often at the receiving end of pranks and not so much at the delivery end, COMPLETELY MISFIRES!

In a serious tone, he states somberly "Your Mother and I have decided to live apart."

It took me a second to process what he said, and I think I processed it in the same amount of time as the kids. Kate's mouth dropped open and her hands shot up to her face. Chris literally dropped two steps back and let out a howl. "NOOOOOOO!"

Trey, perhaps the most seasoned or twisted of our kids, took in the scene quickly, got the "joke" and went "heh heh heh!"

Really, it was kind of an awful scene.

"No! No! ROB!!" My head swiveled between venomous looks at him and looking back at the poor older two. "He's kidding! He's KIDDING!!"

As it dawned on Kate and Chris that this was NOT in fact why we were all gathered, they both started to laugh in an "I just avoided being in a deadly situation" kind of laugh, which for Kate teetered between laughter and tears.Chris sort of staggered around a bit. "I got a cold feeling in my head that went all down my body!"he exclaimed, in that sort of half-laughing, half terrified squeaky voice.

 I was sort of near to tears myself because hearing those words brought back some long forgotten memories and feelings of my own. Years before my parents actually split up in 1993, they had sat us down at the kitchen table and said those same words to my brother and I. It was one of the strangest experiences of my life, because they told us and then NOTHING EVER HAPPENED. It was like I dreamed it. I don't remember it even being spoken of again. But I digress.

It took a few minutes to clean up the pieces from the "joke misfire." Man, my heart goes out to all of you who have had that conversation for real. It was horrible and it wasn't even happening.

From there we told the kids about our plan for the Secret Five Days, and that Day Number One would be a Pajama Painting Pottery thing happening at the local pottery place. :)  The kids are excited (about pottery or our lack of separation is unclear!) and I'm looking forward to five days of fun activities on our "staycation."

Let the fun begin!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

My Grown Up Christmas List

It's seven thirty on Christmas morning, and the dog and I are hanging out downstairs in the family room.

Upstairs, not a creature is stirring. I expect to hear someone soon and then the joyful noise will begin. Teenager hood (and Kate soon to be 20!) has crept into the house and the sounds of children at 5 AM occur no longer.. not an unwelcome change. There is still plenty of excitement at 8 AM!

As I wait, I have been reflecting on the past few days, with all my children home and together again.

Almost all of my wishes now revolve around my children and their futures, which I suppose is how it should be. I don't know. Is there even a "should" for things like that?

I wish for them to find love. A someone in their life who loves them deeply and strongly, who supports and encourages them and who has integrity. Someone who will help them to be even better as a pair than they are alone.

I wish for them to have children, should they want them, whether biological or otherwise. If they adopt, I pray that the child(ren) will have not been in horribly adverse circumstances, but if it is, that the child will be able to overcome them with love and help. I wish that their children are healthy and bring them the joy (and other wide range of feelings on occasion!) that they have brought Rob and I.

Perhaps my greatest wish is that they remain close in their adulthood. I hope that they come together as a family, I hope that their children play together and grow up with shared memories of their own. I want them to support each other, laugh at stupid things their Dad and I did, and have each other's backs when things get hard, as they inevitably will.

My Mom was an only child so she didn't have the joys and frustrations of living with a sibling. My Dad and his sibling weren't very close in childhood or adulthood. Rob and I both had a different experience and love our siblings very much. I hope they replicate this!

I hear footsteps upstairs.. Christmas morning is about to begin!

What is *your* Christmas wish?

(PS- reminder: this blog will go private at the end of this week. If you'd like access, email me or message me on FB with your email address.)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Changes to the Blog

Dear Friends,

At the end of this week, I will be changing this blog over to the private setting for an extended period of time.

Please let me know if you would like to be included by putting your email address and name in the comments.

I'm sorry but if you aren't my friend IRL, or if we don't have an online friendship that I'm comfortable with, I will need to decline.

Thanks for your understanding!