Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Gift of Remembrance

The kids and I have been talking quite heavily about gifts the past few weeks. ‘Tis the season for whispered conversations in the utility room, squeals and a flurry of movement as doors are slammed on an offending sibling while the other is wrapping their present. Everyone seems to know exactly how much money they have in their possession and spending limits are taken very seriously: “Mom, if the limit is $20, is that $20 before tax or after?”

When the kids were little my husband and I bought the gifts for the kids to give each other. It was easier than trying to take two toddlers and a preschooler to Walmart and make a somewhat pathetic attempt at secrecy. We found it exponentially simpler to go buy color books, hair bows, new markers, a new piece of furniture for the dollhouse and stick it under the tree ourselves. 

Now we have two teens and a tween. One drives. My life should’ve just gotten a whole lot of simpler. Then Oklahoma decided to have the snowiest winter in YEARS. Abby’s S-10 pickup doesn’t do so well on the ice rink of a road to our house, so for the past few weeks she's been borrowing my 4WD Durango to do her errands, thus leaving me sitting home not buying presents. Although, the deal was, if I allowed her to use my car, she must take a sibling with her so they could do their shopping as well. I was kind of proud of myself for using that little bargaining tool.

I guess there will never be an “easy” Christmas shopping season for us. When they were little it was a task to keep track of what action figure, Barbie, or Kidz Bop CD they had and pray as I stood in the checkout line that I wasn’t buying a repeat. (If I barely had time to shop before Christmas how on earth was I going to find time after to stand in the return line?) Now I find myself trying to remember if that boy child of mine has a particular tomahawk, knife or military issue whatever. I’m nearly going mad what with trying to remember if girly teen girl’s favorite sweater is more of an aqua or a teal so I can buy her coordinating earrings and bracelets. And we can’t forget the hormonally charged tween who has a shoe size larger than her older sister’s, but feet freakishly narrow and shaped like a rabbit’s foot -- and has only asked for shoes and boots this year.

These years will be fleeting, I know this. In the near future, Christmas gifts will morph into gas cards, mixers, toaster ovens, maybe making a car payment during the holiday season when they themselves are struggling to find the Lego set that every other parent is also searching for - and come up with the money to buy it. I will long for the days of re-decorating the tree after the kids go to bed. I will dream of icing and sprinkles and colored sugar on every surface of my kitchen. I will miss the days of last-minute runs to Walmart for batteries – or 7am runs to a convenience store for batteries when the days before Christmas found us exhausted and scatter-brained and absolutely certain that we had plenty of batteries in the cabinet.

We are creating a new tradition this year. It’s called “together”. We are a homeschooling family and typically spend a lot of time together anyway, but this year on Christmas Eve, the cell phones are going off, the iPads and iPods and smart phones will be put away (if only for a few hours) while we make cookies and cake balls, watch Elf and A Christmas Story (for the umpteenth time) and Christmas Vacation  (something the kids have never seen - I'm such a bad mother) while this momma soaks up every single minute of Christmas 2013. I will commit to memory every single giggle, snarky remark, thrown ball of cookie dough, obnoxious burp, joke, snort and awkward teenage sibling hug. 

 And someday when I am snuggling my own grandchildren, I will remember.

Oh yes, I will remember. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Today You Are 12

My dear, sweet Kady Bugg,

Today you turn 12 years old. I don't even know how that happened. You are growing up way too fast! But it seems you've always been in a hurry and definitely apt to doing things your own way. You tried to come into this world way before you were ready and after a sincere heart-to-heart, you were convinced to stay in and cook awhile longer. Then, when it was okay for you to go ahead and make your entrance you were like, "Nah, I'm good. I'll just hang around here awhile longer." Oh, my Kady....I think you just wanted to make sure you had our attention.

Your Papa Leo used to get such a kick out of you because you've always wanted to do the things your older siblings and cousins were doing. Even as a toddler, you weren't about to let your age or size get in the way of you doing something that looked fun. You've always kept me on my toes.

I have always had anxiety about your safety for some reason. Maybe it's because we had a scare where we thought I had miscarried you before we had even fully gotten used to the fact we were even having you. Then we dodged a bullet when you didn't come as early as you wanted to. It seems like I've spent your whole entire existence just trying to contain you.  I am learning that containing the exuberant and hilarious windstorm named Kady is just nigh impossible. And I'm learning to be okay with that.

I know I tell you to "rest your voice" a lot. Truth be told, you sometimes wear my ears plumb out, kiddo. I seriously don't know where on earth you get the energy to speak that  many words in a single day. But can I also tell you a secret? I wouldn't have you any other way. On the nights you're not at home? I miss your words. Your daddy and your sister don't talk much at all. Your brother speaks in fits and starts. But you...you definitely got your words and ability to speak them with great volume from me.

So, baby girl, speak those words that bubble up inside you. Speak them loudly and with passion! Even if I tell you to rest your voice occasionally, please don't ever - for even one second - think that I am telling you to stop speaking. Speak loudly for what you love and believe in. Forever. But sometimes my ears need to rest. My heart doesn't...but my ears. Oy vey.

If I can wish one thing for this coming year it's that I hope you and your brother get along soon. I hope you find a friendship that only a brother and sister can have. I love and adore your Yaya, my own sister, but I always kinda wished for a brother, too. I wouldn't trade her for the world, but I hope you soon realize what a gift you have in a big brother. He would walk across hot coals for you, little sister. He'd probably ask you to reimburse him for the cost of his medical bills later, but he'd still walk 'em for ya.

You two used to get along. See?  

Oh and that big sister of yours? Trust me when I say that I totally get how she is sometimes. If you'll remember, I'm a big sister, too. Ask your Yaya. I used to be pretty awful to her. There's this thing called "Growing Up" that you'll both do and I hope and pray with all that is in me that you two girls will have the amazing relationship that my sister and I share. Go easy on her, even when she's not that easy to extend grace to. She's got a lot on her plate right now. Be patient. Love her through it. It will be worth it.

Sweet Kady Bugg, you are simply one of the best things to even happen in my life. I've said it many times and will say it many more: We never knew how badly we needed a Kady in our lives until we had one. 

Now life would be totally weird without you. Of course, sometimes life is pretty weird with you in it as well.

 You've brought glamour into our world.
And a fair share of drama and tears. 

You're far more social than your siblings and make friends easily. I got so tickled on the second week of  homeschool co-op when a mom walked into the parent room and asked, "Okay, so who does this KadyBugg belong to? Because she seems to be somewhat of a celebrity around here!" I'm glad you are well-liked and friendly. Kids and adults alike seem to see something special in you. You're amazing.

You are a sweet, kind spirit and you're not afraid of much. You have an amazing talent with babies and little kids. I don't know what it is about you, but they are all drawn to you. You're like a sassy Pied Piper with braces and big feet.

I'm so proud of you and I am enjoying this adventure of getting to be your mom.

You make me laugh, you make me want to scream, you make me proud, you make me glad I'm your mom.

Happy Birthday, Bugg!

I luzz you.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Today You're 15

My dear Sammy, 

Today you turn 15. I find it so hard to believe that the screaming, red-faced infant that turned my world upside down is now 15 years old. 

You have always been noisy, son, but I think you know that. You always grin when we tell you stories about your epic screaming fit that the staff at Branson Olive Garden probably still talks about, and the time you flipped every switch, spun every dial and pushed every button in Papa Leo's car while he scrambled to control the curiosity that was compelling you to touch everything you could get your pudgy little hands on.

Today it still scares me a little bit when you get quiet. I guess old habits die hard - for about the last 14 years, silence has typically meant you are into something. I have to remind myself frequently that you're not a baby anymore and that silence is okay when you're a dude. Now silence usually means you are drawing up an evacuation plan, sketching blueprints for an underground safety hatch or going over your list of survival supplies. I am totally content to let you prepare to save us all and will give you all the quiet you need to do so. I'm counting on you to be our Darryl Dixon. 

You have brought so much joy and laughter to our lives. You bring life to any situation and at the risk of sounding incredibly lame and sappy, you really do brighten up a room when you enter it. You have such a sweet spirit and such passion! My goodness, if you truly pick up a cause or belief, you will defend it to the end. I admire your determination.

You dealt with some heavy stuff in public school and while it was hell  while we were going through it, you came out so much for the better. All those horrible days of being picked on and bullied just made you stronger. You took bad situations time and again and learned from them. Of course, you also punched your way to victory a time or two as well. I was totally okay with that. A momma can only take so much.                                                                      

When you came to me that autumn night at the age of 11 and said that God told you that you were going to preach, I can't say I was surprised. I think every one of us knew that God has had a special job for you from the get-go. When your daddy and I dedicated you to God when you were just tiny, we meant it. And now that we are in our third year of ministry ourselves, we know the hardships, struggles, heartaches and turmoil you will endure. Ministry is not easy. However, we also know the joy, victory, love and satisfaction you will experience as well. and we can't wait for you to experience it all. Even the not-so-fun parts - they make the really cool stuff even cooler. Trust me. 

Please don't ever lose your ability to laugh. And the ability to make others laugh as well. Those two things will serve you great purpose. Again, trust me.

As you get older, I get a little more melancholy at the prospect of you growing up and leaving the nest. For some reason, the though of sending Abby out into this world to make her way as an adult, a wife and a mother isn't a stretch for me. But you.....the thought of you not being in that back bedroom full of camouflage, weapons, dirty socks and survival gear makes me very sad. Please don't think that it's a lack of faith in your ability to make it on your own - it's just that you're my baby boy. Just as your daddy is having a hard time letting your big sister go (and will have just as hard a time with your little sister), your mother is having a very hard time watching her little boy grow up to be a man. Be patient with me. Please.

Please know that I pray for your future wife and you already. I pray that you find a girl with a heart for God, a girl God has already set aside to be a minister's wife. She will need to be tough, sweet, patient, gentle, determined and giving, but most of all she must be a servant of God. I have no doubt God already has your path set to cross hers. I hope she likes me, but I hope she loves you more.

Happy 15th Birthday, my sweet Sammy. You drew a rough spot in the family line-up - it cannot be easy being the only boy sandwiched between two sisters with such strong personalities. I have no doubt that this has made you stronger and more patient and infinitely more ornery. All of those are okay things to be.

Never doubt how much I love you and believe in you. And when the zombie apocalypse happens, there is no one else I'd rather have leading me to safety.


Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Today You're 17

My dearest Abby, 

Today you turn 17 years old. Exactly 17 years ago, right now, they were finally taking you away to the hospital nursery for the first time. I had spent nearly 10 months with you inside me, spent an hour with you in person and when they took you away for your required two hours away, I had to let go of you for the very first time. That was really hard. 

And now, I'm having to let go of you again. It's slower than a simply taking you from my arms. It's a long, drawn-out process. It's even harder than that first time.

Not long ago, I started to wonder if I've done enough, taught you enough, and showed you enough in the time I've had. I've had the amazing privilege of staying home with you for almost your entire life and for the last year and for the next, I get to be your teacher as well as your mom. And even with all that time we've had together....I realize I haven't done, taught and shown you as much as I've wanted. And then I wonder if I'll have enough time to do for you, teach you and show you before you leave our house and go make your own.

I probably won't. And no parent ever does. I don't think any of us parents send our kids out into the world with a hearty pat on the back and a cheerful, "Yep, you're ready!"

No, I think we all panic and think, "Oh crap....I forgot to...." and want nothing more than to grab you up and cram all that we forgot into your head and heart as fast as we can.

And strangely, the things that keep popping into my head when I think of sending you out into that big ol' world is how to fold a fitted sheet and how to make gravy.

Silly, huh?

You are amazing. You're beautiful inside and out. You are kind and compassionate. You're brilliant, talented, wise beyond your years and confident. You amaze me. 

You were the hope your daddy and I thought we had lost forever. You were the answer to so many prayers. Please, please, please don't ever think for one second that you aren't loved and cherished. 

As we go into your last year as a child - although you rarely act like one anymore - please go easy on your ol' momma and daddy, okay? But especially your momma. You're the first and you know you are the practice child, right? You have paved the way for your siblings from the beginning, so you get the new, raw, unknown emotions from us. Your brother and then your sister will still get these weird outbursts of emotion from us, but they won't be as new to us and hopefully we'll be more prepared to handle them. 

In the meantime, we are going to struggle with this. You will, too. You are growing up and there isn't a dadgum thing any of us can do about it. We know you're just itching to get out there and GO. And while we are excited for you, we are sad for us. We are going to miss you and your hamsters when you move out.  

We will never feel like we've done enough, even though I'm sure you're screaming on the inside, "Seriously? You've done so much I feel like I'm smothering!" It's okay to feel like that. I can tell you from experience, I felt that way. My mom didn't like it when I felt that way and I don't like it when you do. However, she let me do things my way and was there for me. She still is. 

And I will always be here for you, too.

I love you more than I could ever say.

Happy 17th Birthday, my Abby Girl.

We....the people

Originally published in The Miami News-Record, July 2020 Everything is different now. I’m not just talking about masks and social distancing...