Thursday, May 21, 2009

Confession 54: Yea Poop! (and other such expressions I never thought I'd say)

Having children completely changes your life. Everybody knows that. All of a sudden, (although not really--you've had almost a year to prepare, right?) you become responsible, absolutely completely responsible, for another person, another life. Everything you once were gets shoved aside as you shift your focus onto growing and sustaining the life of this little person cradled in your arms. Your child becomes your focus, and you find yourself doing things you never thought you were capable of. Breast-feeding, pulling continuous all-nighters, cleaning up explosive poop, pulling buggers from noses. Most people expect this in some way shape or form when they have children. What they do not expect, what I did not expect, were the absolute changes in vocabulary.

I am an English teacher, so language is important to me. Whenever I sit down to blog, it takes me at least 45 minutes to get through a post. I have to choose my words carefully, edit, revise. I can't even write in a journal without thinking about how I'm going to phrase my thoughts! So, when I find myself chanting, "Go Garrett, go Garrett, make some stinks, in the potty!" I realize I've come to the parenting point of no return. I mean, I have a Master's degree for crying out loud! I can discuss eschatology and the hermenutical circle. I can deconstruct a Robert Frost poem ("Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Day is not about the beauty of nature, by the way) or provide an in-depth literary analysis of Pride and Prejudice. I despise text messaging because it's so grammatically incorrect and I absolutely refuse to put in writing, "how ru?". Yet, all of that seems to be thrown out the window when it comes to my children. Instead of discussing the symbolic nature of Poe, I discuss the symbolic nature of Lightning McQueen.
"Is that Lightning McQueen?"
"Yes, Garrett. That is Lightning McQueen."
"What's Lighning McQueen doing?"
"He's racing."
"Is he racing?"
"Yes, Garrett. He's racing."

Instead of discussing the principles of the Trinity, I discuss the principles of toddlers.
"Garrett, I swear if you're playing in that toilet again I'm going to spank your bottom!"
"We're not going outside until you put some pants on!"
"Did you color on the bathtub? Are you supposed to color on the bathtub? What are you supposed to color on? Is this paper? Then should you color on it?"
"Stephen, don't eat the cat food!"
"Stephen, don't eat the dirt!"
"Stephen, don't eat your poop!"

And finally, instead of speaking with eloquence and thoughtfulness, I speak in raspberries.
"Hey Stephen, how's it going there under the table? Finding any good crumbs to munch on?"
"Oh, really? Well, phlblblblblblbbl to you to, Bones."

Yes, having children definitely changes you in many surprising ways. And as they grow and mature and become their own individuals, you don't ever return to the person you once were. And although your teenage children might see you as a dithering, batty, out-of-touch, nosy nuisance, you'll see that you've raised a thoughtful, eloquent, independent young man or woman and that you've grown in ways you never thought possible. Thank God for our children!

Blessings and Peace,

Friday, May 15, 2009

Confession 53: I Like Warm Fuzzy Day

Yesterday was "Warm Fuzzy Day" at school, a day in which both teachers and students are given necklaces on which a ball of bright yarn strings are attached. Throughout the day, people exchange these strings of yarn for hugs. The kids love it. PDA is acceptable for one day of the year and it gives them an excuse not to learn. Most teachers hate "Warm Fuzzy Day" for the same reasons. I, however, thoroughly enjoy it. Maybe I'm just an emotionally needy person, but I enjoy a day devoted to hugs. It's only once a year, after all, and as high school teachers, we don't really get the opportunity very often to show affection to our students. It's a one-time opportunity to put your arms around your students and say, "You know what, you're a good kid." They need to hear that, and we need to say it.

I've embraced "Warm Fuzzy Day", so much so that I'm actually thinking of recommending to my Congressional representatives that it should become a national holiday. Can you imagine? Think about it. Think about walking into a restaurant and having the hostess give you a welcoming hug saying, "I'm so glad you're here." Think about actually placing the tip in your server's hand, then pulling him in for a hug and saying, "Thanks so much for all of your service this evening." Think about the overly harried woman zooming through the aisles of the grocery store with a screaming child in the cart, a list in one hand, caffeine in the other. Picture yourself pulling your cart alongside her as she frantically scans the meat at the deli counter, placing your arm around her shoulder, smiling, and saying, "You have such a beautiful child." Or, picture the older woman, her shoulders stooped over her grocery cart, shuffling slowly through the aisles, her list grasped tightly in her weathered hand. Her cart is mostly empty, save for a box of Folger's Singles and a box of vanilla wafers. Imagine yourself going up to her as she reaches up for a loaf of whole-wheat bread, pulling the bread down for her, smiling, saying, "That sweater really brings out the blue in your eyes." And give her slight frame a gentle squeeze.

The world would be much different, I think, if we had a national "Warm Fuzzy Day." Instead of cursing other drivers on the road, we could smile and wave. Instead of honking in impatience, we could honk in joy, smiling and waving madly to our fellow travelers. We could hold doors open for people again, ask "How are you?" and genuinely want an honest response, compliment one another on jobs well done. On "Warm Fuzzy Day" hurt feelings would be put aside, anger would be let go of, and adversaries would come together for a warm embrace saying, "It's really good to see you today."

Yes, I am a fan of "Warm Fuzzy Day". It's only one day, after all. How hard can it be to show only kindness for one day?

Blessings and Peace,

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Confession 52: National Day of Prayer

As today is the official National Day of Prayer, I thought I would commemorate it by praying through my blog. When I pray, I just talk, so if it doesn't always make sense, I'm sorry. God gets it.

Dear God,

Thank you so much for this day. Thank you for the sunshine that was out this morning and the warmth and lightness it brought to the day. Thank you that I was able to get out of bed this morning and thank you that I have a job I love to go to, even if I'm half-asleep when I begin!

Lord God, thank you that I got to spend some time with my boys this morning. Thank you for the joy that they bring to my life. I pray that your Spirit would be with them this day, that you would guide and direct the steps that they take. I pray that you would help Chris and I to raise them in your light, that they would come to know you and choose to follow you. I pray that they would know love and peace, compassion and mercy, and that they would show these things to others in need.

I thank you also for Chris, for bringing him into my life. I thank you for his compassion, his honesty, his thoughtfulness, and the strength that he brings to me. I thank you that he is a wonderful father and husband. You made us to be partners in this life, and I thank you that I get to share the journey with him. I pray your blessings upon him today, that he would feel your presence. I pray that you would give him wisdom and understanding as he works, and that you would give him clarity of purpose and vision. I pray that you would minister to him as he ministers to those in need.

Lord God, I thank you too for my family and friends. You have blessed me with an abundance of love and support. Thank you for my sister, for her friendship, for her strength and courage and passion. Please be with her this day. Give her peace in her job and security for the future. Help her see the direction in which you want her to go.

Thank you for my parents, for their truly unconditional love and support. Thank you for their always being there. Thank you for the gifts they've given me and help me to be for my boys what they have been to me.

Lord, I thank you for all of my friends. We've shared so many journeys and walked down so many roads. You know the desires of each of their hearts, you know where they're hurting and where they're questioning. I pray that you would be with each of them today, that they would feel your presence, that they would hear your voice, and that they would know that they are completely and ultimately loved.

Lord God, I know I am horribly imperfect and that I fail you every day. I pray that you would forgive me my sins. Forgive me my selfishness and self-centeredness. Forgive me my judgmental and critical nature. Forgive me for not looking beyond myself and my own needs to see the needs of others. Forgive me for wasting time, for being lazy. Forgive me my impatience, especially with Chris and the boys, and forgive me my lack of discipline, especially with food! Help me to be the person you've made me to be. Let your light shine through me to others I meet along the way so that they may encounter you.

Lord, we live in a crazy world, and it seems to get crazier every day. It's hard to see your presence at times. Please be with those who are truly suffering. Be with those who have lost loved ones, who are grieving this day. Continue to be with the Meyer family as they work through the loss of their son. Be with those who are suffering abuse. Please lead them to safety. Be with those who hunger, let them be fed. And be with those who are homeless. Let them find shelter. Be with those who live in war-torn nations. Let them know peace. Please be with the children of this world. Protect them and keep them from harm. Let them know love, let them know kindness, let them have faith, and let them grow up and change this world to be your kingdom. Be with the leaders of the world. Grant them wisdom as they lead. Help them to make decisions that will further your work, Lord. Speak to them and help them listen to you.

Be with me through this day. Guide and direct all that I do: my actions, my thoughts, my words. Let them bring glory to you. Help me to be an effective teacher, a good friend, a loving wife and mother.

Thank you again for this day and all of the opportunity it brings. Help me not to waste it. I love you and praise you, Lord God!

In Jesus' Name I Pray,

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Confession 51: Tipping the Scales

I should be on my way home to exercise right now, but I just don't want to. It's been raining for a week and a half and I'm tired and am enjoying the quiet of my empty classroom. I've been fighting the Battle of the Bulge again, but my heart just isn't in it. After having Stephen I joined Weight Watchers and lost almost fifteen pounds. I was nursing, so I got tons of points and it was, really, pretty easy. I quit Weight Watchers after I stopped nursing and lost all of my extra points. I thought I could go it on my own and save $20 or so a month. I was exercising regularly and doing okay, until Spring hit. Spring is always a busy season. Warmth returns and people go crazy planning events. It's also the end of the school year in which we teachers try to ram everything we haven't gotten to over the past eight months into our student's with one fell swoop.

I've also had to accept the fact recently that I am an emotional eater. It doesn't really matter what emotion I'm feeling, I eat my way through it. Call me an equal opportunity eater! So, the pounds are slowly coming back on. To top it off, several of my friends are having great weight loss success this spring, and although I'm very happy for them, it leaves me feeling a bit demoralized and strangely rebellious. Some latent jealousy creeps up and I decide to strike back at healthy people everywhere by eating a few cupcakes. Where is the logic in this?!

My husband, with his keen pastoral sensibilities, told me that I wasn't going to lose weight by wishing it away and that I basically had three options: 1) eat less and healthier, 2) exercise more and eat what you want in moderation, 3) accept your weight and stop complaining. I've sort of started a combination of all three, which I think isn't really the point. I don't know why God couldn't have created our bodies to run on chocolate instead of fiber. Carbohydrates could have served us much better than vitamins, right?

Oh well... so much for wishful thinking. I guess I'll go home and make a salad and chase the kids around the house for awhile. That's got to count for something, right?

Blessings and Peace,

My Family

My Family

My Family 2

My Family 2