Thursday, February 28, 2013

go look at the moon

every now and then we get a glimpse that it’s working.  i love that glimpse. truth be told, i even live a little for that glimpse.  i bet you do too.  so often it seems our words fall on deaf ears, our requests go unnoticed, our wishes ignored and that blessed, blessed back door seems always to be left wide open.  even in winter. 

i’m talking about kids.

i’m talking about how hard it is to parent when we don’t always see the progress.  i mean, maybe things are different for you.  maybe it all goes incredibly well at your house everyday.  your kids wake up with sunny smiles each morning and obediently drift off to sweet sleep each evening.  your toddlers don’t tantrum in the grocery store and your teenagers don’t test your patience.  perhaps your children make their beds without being told, put their dirty socks in the laundry and wipe their feet at the door.  heck, if that’s the case, i bet your children do their own laundry and wash your kitchen floors on friday afternoons -- just for fun.   i bet they cook healthy dinners for the family, eat all their vegetables and only drink milk.   i bet they never leave empty ice cream containers in the freezer, empty soda cans in the fridge or empty toilet paper rolls in the bathroom.  they probably don’t sass over the phone, roll their eyes at the dinner table or stomp off to school. they close doors quietly and they empty the dishwasher eagerly. because they love you.  i bet they read books to the baby and help little brother with his math facts when bored.  in fact,  i bet your kids are never bored.  

maybe it works this way in your home.
but that’s not my house.  

nope, not at all.

i mean, we do work hard on these things.  really we do.  it might not be obvious to the casual observer.  you’d have to come and hang out with us for a little bit to see.  if you do, plan to bring your running shoes.  but, truly, we address our issues -- all the time.  i tell myself daily, we are works in progress.  sometimes it seems we are seeing more work than progress, but that’s just the name of this parenting game.   and with five of them, it does seem i am always dealing with someone.  it is easy for a mother of many to feel much like a nag.  like the charlie brown teacher: “wanh, wanh, wanh,wuh-wahn, wahn...” i have seen that same blank look on the faces of my offspring in the middle of a lecture lesson.

do they hear me? 

are my words sinking in? 

God is so clear in His word, “train up a child in the way he should go;  even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  (proverbs 22:6).  and though i’m putting an awful lot of stock in this verse, please notice that no where in His words does He promise it to be easy.  nope, it takes work.  especially the day in and day out stuff --  the nitty gritty of that great training. it's downright daunting some days, isn't it?  heck, even mary and joseph struggled a bit in raising their perfect son, Jesus.  remember the whole losing Jesus at the temple fiasco?  they were on their way to nazareth before realizing he had gone missing. (we can, unfortunately, relate).  parenting is hard.  kids don’t come with instruction manuals and each one is completely different.  and just when we think we have a situation or a child finally figured out, they grow an inch and everything changes.   

blame it on the weariness of long winter.  blame it on the lack of vitamin D.  blame it on the addition of a new puppy.  blame it on whatever you want,  but we’ve had that kind of week: every one of us a little bit off.  everyone a little bit snippy, a little bit snappy, and sometimes, even snide.  the boys wrestling too hard, the girls fussing too much.  the mother not enough on her knees.

 “wanh, wanh, wanh,wuh-wahn, wahn...”

then there’s the stealing of stuff.  thieves!  we have five little thieves living snug under our roof.  sweaters, ballet flats, snow boots and laptops.  favorite pens, novels, headphones and the very last lovely square of dark chocolate.  you name it,  they take it.  lately it’s been my tweezers. yes, my tweezers.  they have been stolen from my bathroom so many times i have had to attach them to a chain.  well, okay, not exactly a chain, but a string.  a really thick string, mind you.  a woman's got to do what a woman's got to do! and it's not just my beauty products, my iphone charger has been stolen so often from the kitchen counter i finally had to write (in sharpie, because this is serious) “mom’s: leave in kitchen.”  notice i didn't even write "please"...we are well past politeness, folks.

i tell you, these are desperate measures for desperate times. 

and speaking of time, it is running out.  if i don’t hurry up and fix my kids, i will have five little thieves grow up to become five big thieves in no time flat. empty-container-leaving, dirty-feet-tracking, messy-room-making thieves! and oh, friends, i cannot bear the great burden of contributing quite so criminally to our society.

even now, as i furiously type this post, my oldest daughter and i are on an airplane headed to texas.  we are flying from the twin cities to dallas-fort worth to embark on the great college tour.  this is our first time visiting colleges for emily and it practically paralyzes me with fear.  how can this be?  how can we possibly be peering over the precipice of our last year with emily in our home?  there’s this part of me that wants her junior year to be endless. continuous. forever.  she drives.  she’s responsible.  independent.  motivated. for the most part, clean.  why or why do we have ruin it all just now and throw college in the mix? of course, i want her to go.  but things have just started to straighten out.  why must my oldest child, my leader of the sibling band, my capable eldest girl begin planning her exit. it has happened too soon.

not to mention she still has things to learn.  only last week did she admit she doesn’t really know how to bake all that well.  i kind of new that, but had brushed it aside, telling myself we had time.  well, guess what? we don’t.  we don’t have that much time left.  i'm feeling like perhaps we should turn this plane right around and head back to our kitchen for some cookie making lessons. 

on occasion, emily still leaves her room a mess, her socks on the floor and her dishes in the sink.  and without a doubt, she is the biggest thief of them all.  let’s just be really clear here, when this girl finally does go off to college i will have to check her bags before she leaves.  i’d bet good money she’ll at least try to take my tweezers.  string or no string.  

so, this crazy, chaotic mama feels time slipping fast between her fingers. we are 30,000 feet up in the sky and traveling at the speed of 500 miles per hour;  and this seems about the pace of my parenting these days.   each one of my kiddos moving on quickly to the next some kind of fast, frenzied video game.  i want to push the pause button and stop this nonsense.  the controlling side of me wants to make a bucket list of all the things we still have to do, to address, to fix, to finish...

“slow down, jody!” i hear your collective yell, "she’s only a junior!"  you have months and months and months with her still at home.  lots of opportunity for lessons and life and lectures (when needed).  but i am on an airplane today flying toward texas at 500 miles per hour and this is how fast it feels these days. 

baking aside, have we covered the important things?

has she gotten what she needs?

has she heard what we've said?

i know i am not alone in my questions.  if you have or have had older children in your home, you know of what i write.  you've asked yourself the same things.  we spend a lot of time teaching our children how to fold their pajamas and tuck in their sheets.  we spend time instructing and modeling and correcting.  we've put every morsel of ourselves into rearing right kids.  we hug them hard and we hold them tight and then we begin to see the day approach when we will have to let them go...

and we fly 500 miles per hour to texas today. 

so, that glimpse i mentioned.  it might not really make sense in this post.  i had a different direction in mind when i began writing today.  but, as if often the case, this is where i ended up.  

that glimpse happened the other night while emily was on her way to volleyball.  she (after, i'm certain, safely pulling over and putting the car in park) texted me this message:  “go look at the moon!!”  that was it.  “go look at the moon!!”  two exclamation points, but still so simple.  some shred of eloquence in that quick text spoke softly and soothing to my mother’s heart.  “go look at the moon.”  i may not produce a daughter who can remember always to return borrowed shoes to my closet, but i have a girl who texts me, “go look at the moon.”  and somehow, that makes the stolen tweezers and the dirty socks and the missing sweaters all worth it.  

those “go look at the moon” moments are what we mothers long for ... listen for ... wait for ... wish for ...

“go look at the moon, mama....go look at the moon.”

her text buzzes in while i'm stirring potatoes at the stove. i read her words and my stirring stops. laying down spoon, i pick up my camera and, without even looking, i head outside in search of this moon. 

because, i know...

i love this photo... notice the two snowmobiles.  snowmobiling by moonlight.

okay, by the way, emily is looking at three colleges this visit:  baylor university, texas christian university and southern methodist university.  we'd welcome any feedback, opinions and letters of recommendation.  
p.s. we just drove through dallas...everything really IS bigger in texas!  


Lori said...

LOVE your pictures!!!
Texas is GREAT place!!! We lived in Dallas for 19 years! Had we stayed there our daughter would gone to Texas Christian University. Hope she finds one she loves!


Paige said...

Love this!!!! Oh the stealing, that was Hank's first big welcome into dadhood with 3 middle school children. He still keeps a pair of nail clippers in his safe:). One of my favorite things we ever did was "don't get mad, get even". Julianne always took the phone to her room and we could never find it, asked repeatedly for her to not do it. One night Hank went upstairs and took her lamp, pillow, computer and anything else he could fit into her bedspread and hid them in his closet....she did not take the phone again hahaha!!

mommymelia said...

Jody, I always love your posts, but this one really spoke to my heart. Melia

Aus said...

Jody - as a dad of three adults (24, 27, and 28) and three youngen's (5, 6, and 10) - let me say from experience that the text you recieved is just proof - well done my friend, well done!

hugs - aus and co.

jodymcnatt said...

thanks aus! i know you get it. =)

jodymcnatt said...

oh, i'm so glad melia! this post was all about the heart, that's for sure!

jodymcnatt said...

i thought of you paige while i was writing this! i remember you telling me that story when we were at di's cabin -- hilarious!!! as parents of six kids you and hank aren't messing around! (well, sort of you are...) it's brilliant! "get even!" =) xoxo

jodymcnatt said...

thanks lori and i sure do LOVE taking them! click. those would be crazy dollar signs if we didn't live in the world of digital -- thank heavens for that! TCU was awesome. emily had a great experience visiting all three schools...only problem is i want to go with her!!! (we really loved dallas too)! such a fun weekend.