Guest Post: Paula Tohline Calhoun

I am honored to share with you this first guest post for March. Paula is a reader that has become near and dear to my heart. It is wonderful to get comments on your blog, but when she comments – well, they are like personal letters of encouragement not just as a writer but as a mother. Paula is a wife, mother to three grown sons, a grandmother to one and another on the way. She has walked in our shoes ahead of us, and is now reminding us that “this too shall pass” but hopefully not too quickly. In her most recent email to me she said,

“When our eldest son was 3 weeks old we went to visit some friends in a community where we had formerly lived.  As they held Joshua and rocked him, Carol, our friend said, “Paula, don’t blink. As soon as you do, he’ll be graduating from High School.” When Josh graduated from HS, we sent these dear people an invitation to the ceremony, and I wrote at the bottom, “Carol – I blinked!”  Truer words have never been spoken, so I will close this inordinately long missive by saying, “Don’t blink!”
 
…I want you to remind yourself on those days when the legs just won’t cooperate long enough to get them into your flannel PJ’s, that these days will be golden in your memory.  I guarantee it.”

A little bit about Paula

Most of the vital info on me is found on my blog pages, Reflections From a Cloudy Mirror. I’m passionate about many things. My Faith, my Family, my Friends, reading, music, writing, poetry, films, and photography. After the three “F’s,” the others are in no particular order, their importance varying according to the day and my mood. I believe that I am a good friend, and always working to be a better one. I have been blessed beyond measure by the friends I have. Though I am not always successful, I try to live each day in thanksgiving. My deepest desire is to authentically reflect the life of a Christian; to live a life that becomes the Gospel, even as I write my own.

The Early Years

My husband is a now-retired United Methodist pastor. Early  in our marriage, he was called upon to lead a congregation through the process of moving and then building a new church home and sanctuary. This was accomplished over a stay of 4 years. When we arrived there, our eldest son, Joshua, was just 2, and I was pregnant with our 2nd, Matthew, who was born 2 months after we arrived. My mother had come to stay and help me in the last couple of weeks before Matt was born. I have a distinct memory of the day she left to go back home – which was the day after we brought our new baby home. My husband and I stood on the stairs – Hubs with Josh, and I holding Matt and as we waved goodbye, we each thought:

“You’re not leaving us here alone with these two babies are you? Really?”

Well, she was, and it really was the right thing to do. You’ll never learn how to care for two little ones until you have to! So, my adventure began. . .

About 6 months later, I thought it might be a good time to start “toilet training” our elder son Josh. I had read somewhere that you just let him run around naked, and take him into the bathroom every once in a while and stand him in front of the toilet, or seat him on his potty chair. What did I know? I hadn’t yet learned, as I later did, that children toilet train themselves, and the idea of “toilet training” as it was used then is actually “toilet training” the parents – not the child!

On one particular day, life started out with a bang! Hubs was super busy with committee meetings from dawn to dusk, and Matt was a very demanding breast feeder, and generally was content only when firmly attached to me. He had awakened me early, as usual, and then Josh needed me – one thing after another, and when I looked up at the clock it was 2 in the afternoon! And I was still wearing – sans robe – my filmy, white, see-through nightgown. (Not to be sexy, mind you – it’s just that it was easy to nurse in!). I was chasing my little naked Josh around, trying to get him down for a nap, tending to my breast-attached son Matt, and figuring out how I could jump in the shower and get a couple of minutes for myself. The doorbell rang.

I simply had no idea how I looked – I stayed away from mirrors as much as possible in those days – don’t most young Moms? The doorbell rang, and being the good pastor’s wife that I was, I answered it – forgetting that I had no robe on. There at the door was one of the most dignified woman I have ever known. She was chairman of the Board of Trustees of the church. Elegant, mature, and childless. Now a widow, she had spent the majority of her life as a teacher, and was retired. Just as I invited her in, I caught a glimpse of myself in the hall mirror, gasped, and then little Josh came running up, naked, and peeing as he ran! What on earth could I do?

I’ll tell you what I did. I laughed. I started laughing and I couldn’t stop. The tears were rolling down my face, and my laughter must have been contagious, because that dear, sweet, dignified lady, Mrs. Vivian Ingalls, just laughed along with me.

She said, “My, you must be busy! I just wanted to drop these papers off for your husband!”

She kept her eyes on my eyes, never let them stray down to the rest of my exposed body, and then kindly winked at me, and left. She never told another living soul. . .but I did. That dear lady died a few years later, but I have never forgotten her, and her grace and kindness to me on that particular “pajama day.” So, I closed the door, cleaned up after Josh, got him in bed – Matt is still attached, mind you, but finally got him to lie down without me. Just then I realized that I hadn’t started dinner – so I went off to do that. It was a long day, and I never did get my shower, nor did I get out of my gown. As I recall, I think I got to take it off and change into something else the next day, but my memory gets kind of hazy about that. . .who knows? Might have been another week!

Visit Paula Tohline Calhoun at Reflections From a Cloudy Mirror

5 thoughts on “Guest Post: Paula Tohline Calhoun

  1. I’m still in my pajamas and robe, sipping ocld coffee because I’m too comfortable here to get up and warm it in the microwave.

    Thanks for the good read this morning. As a mom, I too can relate. Sadly, I also own a nightgown or two…just like yours!

  2. What a great story, AP! Being able to laugh your way through adversity is one of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned from you. I love how you always make me and everyone around you laugh. 🙂

  3. Oops! Actually, when I wrote that to Emily, I forgot to tell her that it was not public knowledge. . .oh well – guess it is now! Besides – you guessed it already. I will make a big announcement soon, but I’ve got to check with Josh and Srah Beth first! 😀

  4. That’s hysterical.

    But I’m still pissed at you, sweet cheeks. Why are these readers learning about a 2nd grandchild on the way before us???

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