Five Minute Friday: Miss

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300I miss my mini-van. It made life so easy with kids, pets and equipment. Everyone had a seat near a window and rarely did anyone complain that “she’s sitting too close to me”.  I had space to breathe in that car, space to be present but not super imposing even when all seven seats were filled.

Sometimes my memories become a befuddled mess though, caught between missing and longing.

I get sucked into longing for that mini-van, longing for the moments when the girls sang Disney tunes non-stop and we listened to children’s books on tape. I long for the cool spring afternoons a child would fall asleep on the way home from Mother’s of Preschoolers and I would park the car in the warm afternoon to read a book rather than wake her to come inside.

But longing is painful. It feels like grief and tarnishes the happiness of life’s moments. Longing makes me think that my happiness has passed, creating discontentment and a sadness that is not easily squelched.

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The Hare

Last night I took most of my home school materials to a used book sale sponsored by a home school group.  This is my last year teaching at home. After four years, The Hare is finishing 8th grade and will be attending a preparatory high school next year.I am already feeling that sadness seep in to my thoughts when what I should be doing is just acknowledging that it’s OK to miss her next year. I will miss our daily chats over breakfast. I will miss snuggling on the couch to read or watch a documentary. I will miss going on personalized field trips and learning side by side. I will miss hearing every detail of the book or show she just finished. I will miss listening to her same music playlist all day long. I will miss science experiments at the kitchen table and picnic lunches in the back yard. I will even miss arguing with this very analytical and opinionated little soul because at least in those moments, even in my frustration, I knew exactly what she was thinking.

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The Tortoise

The Tortoise is also graduating this year and will be attending college in the fall. I know I will miss the unexpected hugs and kisses. I will miss hearing the garage door opening after a night out and knowing that she is safely in her bed. I will miss hearing unguarded laughter both in and out of the house as we entertained small armies of kids most weekends and all summer long. I will miss the fire pit being in constant use and remnants of smore’s left on the kitchen counter. I will miss our driveway and garage crowded by a influx of cars coming and going. I will miss the impromptu runs to get ice cream and watching Grimm together after everyone else has gone to bed. I will miss her voice filling the house with beautiful music as she practiced and practiced.

I know that I need to be careful to enjoy the moments and miss the memories but not drown in the emptiness. I need to be careful not to long for days past but just be thankful or else I might miss the beauty in this next season of my life.

Now I drive a little hatchback that seats four comfortably, but rarely has more than 1 or 2.

At some point, I’m sure I’ll miss that too.

 

Expect Nothing

Expect prompt

I’ve spent a lot of wasted time expecting people to be different.

Expecting them to be thankful or honest.

Expecting them to love unconditionally or be tolerant without question.

Expecting them to be compassionate, self-less or encouraging.

Expecting them to apologize.

But mostly, I think I’ve just spent a lot of wasted time being disappointed, time that would have been better spent giving wholly of myself without expecting anything in return.

As I crossed over the 40-something threshold a couple of years ago, my perspective changed. My focus became less about being and more about doing. My mind’s eye has finally partnered with my heart’s desire, working together to hopefully leave this world a better place than I found it and without any expectation of being recognized for my efforts.

Give without getting.

Forgive without an apology.

Trust without hesitation.

Help without judgement.

Love without condition.

The more I work through my days looking for opportunities to do good, the lighter my spirit becomes and the more relaxed my body feels. Holding on to anger, disappointment and frustration is cumbersome and suffocating. It weighs heavy on your heart, puts a physical ache in your bones, making it hard to feel anything else.

Some days take more effort than others.

Some days seem effortless.

Just a month after our foster child came to live with us, I found myself saying “I love you” as I tucked him into bed at night. It felt natural, especially after putting The Tortoise and The Hare to bed. I know my words of affection carried through the house, and it pained me greatly to think of this little Peanut going to sleep at night without the reminder that they are loved. One night as I whispered “I love you” and gave a quick kiss on the cheek, arms suddenly wrapped around my neck, keeping me from pulling away.

Our eyes locked.

Our breath in unison.

“Is it okay that I don’t tell you that I love you back?” Peanut whispered.

“Of course, little one, ” I replied, “How you feel about me doesn’t change how I feel about you.”

Peanut pulled me closer, hugging me tightly.

“Is it okay that I love you?” I asked.

I could feel a smile press against my cheek.

“Sure,” Peanut said, “and you never know, if you say it enough I might even say it back one day.”

*This post was inspired by The Daily Post and Two Shoes in Texas

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Welcome

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300Two hours notice.

There were a few quick phone calls back and forth between us and them while we were driving for Thai food and placing our dinner order.

We had two hours notice that you would be standing on our doorstep, waiting to be welcomed inside.

I’m not sure why I felt it was necessary to clean the bathrooms again, or dust or vacuum one last time. Nervous energy probably. I doubt you would have noticed the remnants of our day scattered around. I doubt you would have cared. You just needed a safe place to rest your head, a place to wait and wonder what would happen next, predict how long you would be in purgatory.

Inside the foyer, our four bodies stood in silence. My hand gripped the door tightly, suddenly very aware of our abundance. You glowed under the porch light, holding nothing more than a couple of small duffel bags and wearing a Batman Mask.

The sounds of crickets and the warm summer night air rushed in between us.

Before any of us found the courage to speak, blink or even breath, you stepped inside, offering your hand to DW. You shook it with conviction. You introduced yourself with ease, welcoming us with your smile. We were speechless, staring dumbfounded at an unknown, unplanned and unfamiliar future. As we all moved deeper into the house, your humor and quick wit broke the silence. We found ourselves laughing within minutes, welcoming your resilient spirit, your unconditional trust.

You quickly grabbed the board game Sorry off the sofa table and welcomed us to our own kitchen table.

“Let’s play a game together,” you said, “and make popcorn or something.”

It was the first time I felt like a stranger in my own home.

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Write for five minutes using that week’s inspiration word; unedited.

Perfect Moments

Two Shoes TuesdayI made stricter house rules this summer for the kids in hopes of keeping them from spending the next three months absently laying in front of the television, a computer screen or their phone. It was a well-thought plan, a list really, of alternatives to glowing screens. Things like being creative, reading a book, spending time with friends outside and helping out with a small household chore are but a few. So far, it has been effective for both girls, and it has allowed me time to focus on the things that get neglected during the school year. I can’t possibly be full-time teacher, chauffeur, meal-planner, event coordinator  and housekeeper from September to May. Summer is my time to re-group. Summer is my time to try new recipes or re-organize the closets. It is a great time to purge our basement and filing cabinets. These next few months help me prepare for the next school year, the next swim and gymnastics season.

However, it’s easy to get caught up in the daily tasks of life. There will always be something that needs or should get done.  Cleaning and organizing may be as much a mindless addiction for me as television and gaming is for my children. And I know, deep down, that having a perfectly cleaned and organized home is not a true reflection of our family. A clean house does not build relationships or create new memories or adventures.

hammock profileSo, between the sports camps and the vacations, between the running around to friends houses, and the chores, the most perfect moments are usually the ones completely unplanned. I am trying harder to look for those perfect moments hiding in forgotten corners of our day. Things like cuddling on the hammock with one of the kids while we both read a book or take  an afternoon nap together. When they are home, I’m trying to be diligent about putting down a broom and picking up a badminton racquet. I want them to remember music festivals and people watching rather than a long list of movies they’ve already seen. I want to fill our scrapbooks with goofy faces and unexpected giggles from days spent swimming in the lake.

nap outside in hammockAlthough I am aware that life is not perfect, I do believe that we can string together enough perfect moments to make life all the more wonderful.

“Life is not perfect. It never will be. You just have to make the very best of it, and you have to open your heart to what the world can show you; and sometimes it’s terrifying, and sometimes it’s incredibly beautiful, and I’ll take both. Thanks.”― Graham Nash

 

Five Minute Friday: Belong

5-minute-friday-1I picture you here, snuggled under layers of covers, watching movies with your sisters. I picture Sunday morning pancakes, Friday night pizza parties, and ice-cream runs in the middle of the week. I picture Lego building marathons, afternoons baking cookies, trips to libraries, the museums, and the soccer fields.

I picture you.

You were not a mistake.

You were wanted.

You were thought about for years.

We planned for you in our hearts, made space in our home. Our family is your family and would not be complete without you. You belong here, with us. I don’t know your name or the color of your skin. I don’t have a clue if your hair is long or short. I’m going to make mistakes and forget important things like what is your favorite food, your favorite color and your favorite bedtime story. I’ll have to learn what makes you scared and take note when you smile. But I  will learn.  I will cherish every moment, even if you are angry with me for wanting you. I will cry in private, in the shower, away from you on the days that are harder than others because I will want to greet you with constant open arms, constant love and acceptance. Life will not be the same without you and we will wonder how we ever managed before you. I will want to kiss you goodnight and ask how you slept. I will wait for the day when you let me hold your hand.

But I will not force you.

I will not rush you.

I will just keep reminding you every day that you belong.

That you are important.

That you matter.

That you are loved.

There will be no division between the children born of my womb and you, the child born of my heart.

* Today I’m linking up with Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday. Each week bloggers are asked to write on a topic for five minutes. No planning. No editing. Just five minutes straight from the heart. This week’s word is Belong.