SAL-VA-TION: by grace

E-LEV-EN: children from 1984 to 2006

HOME-SCHOOL-ING: since 1990

DOWN-SYN-DROME: susie and gabe

GRAND-CHILD-REN: since 2010

FAITH-FUL-NESS: my steadfast rock, my biggest supporter, my leader, my friend, my love, my husband

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mom Confessions

A quarter of a century ago seems like, well..., a quarter of a century ago. Back then I didn't think too much about our rapidly growing family. Everyone around me was amazed and shook heads in disbelief as every year or two our family photo grew by one.

We didn't see it that way. We shrugged, or laughed, and just carried on, enjoying every minute (OK, maybe not EVERY minute), but in the general scheme of things we were pretty blissful about the whole arrangement. We loved raising our family!

What I didn't think about was the sudden explosion of life that would take place a decade or two down the road. It started with the teen years and the inevitable shift in hormonal balance and one thing led to another and here we are. In a matter of fewer than five years we have added five in-laws, four grandchildren, are expecting three more, have three teens at home, and still have three more up and coming.

It's not that I didn't consider the possibilities of family growth. But it's more than just that, SO much more! It's meshing the numerical growth with the individual growth and journey of each child finding their own way, understanding who they are apart from family, challenging or accepting not just who they are but who WE are, and then, in the midst of this ideologically challenging soup, leaving and cleaving to their new life mate, while a half a dozen others are in various stages of the same process--it all leaves a mama feeling whooped.

On any given day I can be the best mom ever, the worst mom ever, the most understanding, the least understanding, the greatest blessing, the biggest curse, the most desired, the least wanted, the smartest, or the most clueless.

I never set out to prove that I was going to be the world's best mom and show everyone how it was done. I didn't dream of writing "How to" parenting books or giving lectures while holding up my perfect posterity as examples of my authority. And now that I have a few years and stories under my belt I shy away even more from questions of "What did you..?"

I just wanted to stay home and be a mom. On the whole, I didn't bargain for the great ocean of emotional upheaval that would come with loving and pouring myself out for my children. There is just no way I could have ever understood the intensity of the heartache (in the good and bad) that is part of this job. I've had times that I looked at my husband and confessed, "It's just not worth it. We don't come close to getting back anywhere near what we put in." I dream about being alone and escaping demands and accusations. I imagine not having to be so responsible and accountable ALL THE TIME. I imagine, being the kid.

And then I think of Jesus. I remember that, with him, I AM the kid. I think of his great love and sacrifice and how little he gets in return for what he's given. I see myself, the kid, through my experienced eyes as the parent. And I'm not too happy with what I see. I see, as the child, the same things in myself that I struggle with in my children, and my heart softens for them. I see, as the parent, Jesus' perfect example for my life--giving for me his perfect love in love and submission to the Father. I'm shamed and humbled, but not into despondency. My sins are covered by his forgiveness, my hard heart is washed in his love, I'm clothed in his righteousness, and I'm renewed in his spirit.

Motherhood IS worth it, but not for childish kisses and sweet secret notes, or for late night conversations or expressions of gratitude. It's worth it because it draws me closer to my Savior and helps me see myself in a different light, as he sees me. It inspires me to be a better child. And through all of that it makes me more content and full of love for what I have as a parent. It also makes me realize that in so very many ways I get back much more than I put in.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Not working

Aunt Susie called me on Saturday. This was our conversation:

Susie: What would you think about me going on a memory pill?

Me: You're already taking a memory pill.

Susie: I am? Oh yeah, I forgot.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Troy's Graduation

We officially have more children who have graduated from high school than have not. Troy surprised himself by graduating in the top 10% of his class. Troy was motivated by his desire or need to learn. If a class was interesting or relevant he applied himself (i.e. he dominated the upper math classes but only limped through beginning Spanish). He was not spurred on by GPAs or grade competitiveness. He should do very well at the college level where he can focus on classes in his engineering major. Way to go, Troy!

Lining up to enter the stadium, you can see our very late spring trees still at the end of their bloom.

Receiving his diploma, tenth to the last out of 213.

Switching the tassels.

A perfect sunny, 75 degree day.

A mock interview by the brothers, complete with radio personality mimicry. Shane can do a very impressive Jeremy Mayo!

A group photo of the middle brothers

I took the first photo and Chet said, "OK, take another, I won't stand on my toes." People who don't know his family ask if he's the tallest of his siblings. In many families 6'1" would be the tallest. Not so with us. Shane at 6'5" (for now) is actually the tallest, but Keith at 6'4" often stands the tallest.

Chet has fun playing it up though.

What a handsome couple of guys! As we walked into the stadium one of the students asked Shane, "Hey! Is that your dad?" He acknowledged that he was and the boy replied, "He wears a fedora?! Your dad is the man!" Oh yeah.

Congratulations Troy!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Keeping up with Gabe

I spent the afternoon with Gabe yesterday. Just Gabe and me, for three hours. We did things Gabe-style. I had to stop at a grocery store, but even there I let him direct me. We looked at things he liked and walked where he wanted to go.

We toured a garden center because the piles of rocks fascinated Gabe.

We pulled in to an animal wildlife center and walked the grounds. Gabe ran to see the geese and ran to see the burros and ran to see the fish and hopped on the kiddie rides not caring if I didn't insert a quarter.

We went to playground. It was here that I had a vision of Bill Keane's Family Circus. Gabe was Billy and he ran circles around the park. I could just see the dotted lines in my mind's map of Gabe's playground tour.

Gabe climbed up a ladder and went down the slide, he climbed the rock wall, and went down the slide backwards, up the stairs, down the slide on his belly, went to the merry-go-round, the teeter totter, the big swings, the baby swings, the handicapped swings.

He crawled through the play tube, went down the slide on his belly backwards, went to the baby park, rode the fire engine, climbed the structure, ran back to the big park, hung from the glider, went down the slide on his back forward, went down on his back backward, went down on his knees, went down on his feet, and once he even sommersaulted down it.

He ran to the beach and ran up and down the two piers, he climbed over the rock wall, he ran into the tennis court and lapped the two courts, he ran around the sand volleyball pit.

And then he repeated all of the above several times.

Most of the time I ran and followed and offered a completely unnecessary protective hand. The one time I tried to sit for a minute he sprinted to the glider and commandeered a dad to give him a ride.

We left the park with a tired Mama and a very happy Gabe. As we drove down the road Gabe called out, "Want butterflies!" He began to sing, "Old Macdonald had a farm. E-I-E-I-O. And on that farm he had a BUTTERFLY!" (ceasing with the tune and hollering the word 'butterfly').

Since it was a special outing for two, I honored his request. We pulled into McDonalds for 'french fries'.