...because life's humor is worth seeking
...because my fourth, doh, make that fifth baby doesn't take up the time between 3 and 3:36 a.m....and it MUST BE FILLED!
...because we can learn a lot from chickens
...and because this has very little to do with chickens and everything to do with grace!
Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! One a penny, two a penny, Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! If you have no daughters, Give them to your sons!
I got a voicemail yesterday:
"Mrs. Wolf, this is the principal from the Primary Center. I had Solomon in my office just now and apparently in lunch he was throwing food at kids in the cafeteria and uh, in Music they are singing the song, um, Hot Cross Buns so at lunch he was standing up, singing that song and smacking his bottom while he, ha ha, was doing it and then pretending to shoot the kids with his finger....."
Imagine getting that voicemail, one in which, not even the principal can get through without cracking up, and then trying to reprimand the camouflage laden seven year old sitting in your car as you wait for the bus to arrive:
"Solomon, you cannot stand up on the table in lunch and smack your bottom while singing Hot Cross Buns....it isn't acceptable behavior." (Said no one with a straight face ever!)
Solomon did his darndest to keep a serious tone as he replied, "Ok, I know, Mom" and then burst out laughing as he almost choked on his words, "BUT IT WAS SUPER FUNNY!"
And I am sure it was. But, as I explained to him after his genuine, uncontrollable and entirely too infectious belly laugh subsided, just because something is funny does not make it right. As Steve Martin so wisely put it in the movie Cheaper by the Dozen, some things are "Funny, but WRONG!"
Parenting this one might very well be a long and laborious journey. And as my bestie down the street so lovingly pointed out, perhaps I need to mentally prep myself for his future endeavors because if the military thing doesn't work out, he might become an aspiring Chippendale performer....
"Hey Mom," Lily said, on a car ride home from soccer one day. "Can I get a blow torch?"
Snapping out of my daydreaming, "Wait, what? Uh, no.....no you most definitely cannot."
"Oh darn," she said, as if she half expected me to say yes.
From the title, you might think I am going to go into a rant about living a life without purpose or meaning; perhaps complaining about the black hole that is being a stay at home wife and mother (and for the record, whoever named it "stay at home" mom/parent, never had kids....at least not 5 of them because there are many days I WISH I could just stay at home!)
But no, today is literally about focus, or the lack there of; about how I turn my phone on to look at my calendar to see what the day holds, get distracted by the idea that maybe if I had a better organizational system things would run more smoothly, so I go into the app store to see what kinds of apps they have for that and I miss waking the kids up on time (or did I wake them and they didn't actually get out of bed? That must be it.) So, at least one kid is late to school but the others hurry to get ready and actually walk to the bus stop as if they do it all the time (first time this year?) and then I blink twice and it's 2:00 and time to pick up kids and start round two and whoa! What happened to the day?
I can waste time like I get paid for it. Come to think of it, I wish there was a job for that: Professional Incessant Time Annilater (my husband would call it a PITA for short 😂) because not only could I work from home, no training necessary, but I would surely make a GAZILLION dollars (assuming there is commission on just how much doesn't get finished) and be the employee of the year! I told my friend the other day that no matter how many houses we have lived in, they have all been starter homes. Every house is a starter home for us because there are always five thousand projects started, but never finished. (That's an approximation of course, could be more....) What can I say? I'm a starter, an ideas person.....not always a follow-througher.....
My world is a buzz of business without accomplishment. There are continuous cycles of dishes, and laundry, and pets and overwhelming stacks of papers. (My family alone has taken out at least one full rainforest.) And then there is the wandering mind that goes from each thing, like a bee flitting around flowers, consuming time, space, life. Sometimes, on a good day, I might make time to breathe. Sometimes.
And sometimes it is overwhelming (unless you are my spouse, then it is ALWAYS overwhelming). Sometimes I liken it to the life of a flea, making huge leaps from one random animal (project) to the next, looking for a choice place to settle down, lay down some roots, really dig in, but eventually, hopping dramatically on to the next thing that catches my fancy.
Hey look! New chore....new project.....new entire life path idea! Let's go try THAT thing instead!
Some of you are reading this and shaking your head (possibly in scorn and judgement). You don't understand how someone can choose to live like that, disorganized, scattered, flying a million miles per hour without a particular destination in mind. (Pat yourself on the back. You are probably a really good adult. Maybe you even have a fantastic career, well behaved and responsible kids, and are on top of everything your life touches. Success is your middle name. Well done, Super Adult.)
But some of you get it, possibly too well. Some of you recognize the plight as similar to your own. Some of you see it as the cross you carry....others maybe even find a little peace in the absurd chaos. There is comfort knowing life is a flurry of activity and whether you control it all or not, the end is the same for all of us. (Judge THAT Super Adult!.....But go ahead and feel good about yourself that you didn't just research therapeutic rabbit wheelchairs for the last hour....)
Maybe Lily is on to something.....a blowtorch might make some things a lot easier.
Here's hoping you have a wildly productive day.....or perhaps a wild day that adds just a little bit of unADULTerated joy.
It has been three long weeks. Kurt left for his hunting trip the day I drove the kids down to Florida to pay our respects and show our love to my grandmother who had passed after 99 incredible years. (More on her in a later post.)
He came home and immediately flew to Italy with our oldest daughter, Madeline, who had been invited to go train with a group of girls at Chievo and Genoa.
The night we went to go pick them up from the airport, after two weeks of flying solo, Liam could not stop talking about the weather. He went on and on. (And on and on and on....) Soon it was a slew of questions about the differences between tornadoes and hurricanes.
"Which one is worse?'
"Which one would you rather be in?"
"Why are we safe from tornadoes at our house?"
"Have you ever been in a tornado warning?"
"What did you do?"
"Do tornadoes have names?"
"How many hurricanes did you survive?"
And on.....and on......and on.....until even I could take no more.
"Liam, we are done talking about the weather and natural disasters," I announced.
"Why?" he asked.
"Because I am done answering those questions. Please pick a new topic." (I might not have been quite so polite.....)
Silence fell over the car. Briefly.
Then I hear Solomon from the way back of the truck say: "Hey Liam! Did you know there is a slight chance of death when you drive on the highway?"
Since we are on the topic of Liam.....recently I took Liam to see Madeline's therapist, Miss H. You see, one of the main comorbidities of people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. While OCD affects around 2% of the general population, 30-50% of people on the autistic spectrum also have symptoms of OCD, if not full fledged OCD. Liam has been displaying some signs of anxiety and panic recently so we decided we would have him seen, hoping to get on top of anything before it gets out of control. (Yes, I still live under the illusion that I have some control in these matters!) While at that appointment, I asked Miss H if it was appropriate to talk about Liam's diagnosis with him and she confirmed that we should probably speak with him about it sooner than later.
So, here's how that went.
Liam, Lily, Solomon and I were sitting amongst the mess of the little boys' bedroom before bedtime when I impulsively decided: Hey, let's have that talk now, without any plan or thought about it whatsoever.
"Liam," I started. "Do you now why you go to the support teacher's classroom everyday?" (Lily's eyes widened.)
"No," Liam said, full of smiles and an air of laughter. "But everyone goes there sometime."
"No, not everyone," I replied. "Do you know why you go to the social skills class in school?"
"Yes....um, no," he admitted.
"Well, do you know how we went to see Miss H last month because you were having some anxiety?"
"Do you know why Madeline goes to see her?"
"Yes. Because she has OCD," he said enthusiastically. (You could almost see him tallying his score in his head.)
"Do you know what OCD is?" I asked.
"Obsessive Compulsive Disorder," Lily chimed in.
"OCD is something Madeline has that makes her brain work a little differently than other people. She has to take medicine to keep it under control and she goes to talk to Miss H in order to work through the ways her brain is different," I explained. "And recently your brother, Aidan, was diagnosed with ADHD because his brain works differently as well. His brain is like your dad's brain and my brain and most likely Lily's brain. We all have various levels of ADHD which means we have issues with certain things like organization and focus and distractibility among other things. You have something different with your brain, too. It's called ASD which stands for Autistic Spectrum Disorder. When you were a little boy, we noticed you did some things unlike other kids and so they evaluated you and diagnosed you with Aspergers which is kind of a high end form of ASD."
"Well, what does Solomon have?" Liam asked.
"Nothing," Lily said.
"Not that we know of anyway," I added.
Liam looked at Solly, grinned and then ecstatically blurted:
"Ha! We all have something....except you, Solly! You don't have ANYTHING!"
Just to be clear, I did not make a movie. But sometimes I feel like I am in the middle of one, that the plot is unfolding with obvious foreshadowing, crystal clear yet dynamically developing characters (oh the character sketches I could turn in now....if only I were still in 9th grade!) and the most humorous and/or grace-filled moments in the most unexpected of places.
But, the problem with being the woman who defines "mess" in "hot mess mom" is that sometimes I miss things....like, big-ish things.
A few weeks back for instance, I was standing near the soccer field, randomly taking over the concession stand duty while watching Lily play when I got a call from Kurt. Liam had just hit his first home run.
Now, I use that term as loosely as a definition can be used. You see, it was the first time Liam had hit a ball that went beyond the foot in front of home plate. For reference, a few weeks before this, my bestie neighbor, who had graciously donated her time to take Liam to his game since we were stretched too thin (aren't we always?), called to tell me that Liam had hit the ball. "Well, he made contact," she said, which she assumed he had never done before because the entire crowd went wild. It was a proud moment for him, one that Kurt and I completely missed but heard about for several days following.
But this was different. Liam had actually made contact with the ball AND the ball moved forward, straight to the pitcher. And then, as if that were not enough to be completely thrilling, just when one thought the play was over at first base, the first baseman missed the catch and Liam, in all his determined glory, kept running. ("Run, Forrest, Run!") He must have had it in his head that he was not stopping until he was either safely home or undeniably out because base after base he ran, through mistake after mistake by the infield who, much to everyone's surprise, simply could not stop him. The angels were smiling on him that day (actually, probably every day to be honest) because the kid, who at nine years old still struggles to run straight half the time, made it all around the bases and safely home to the cheering and adoring fans. My understanding is that both teams' parents were cheering when he arrived at home plate.
Now, I have heard the story so many times, I feel like I was actually there. Liam, who crossed home plate, half laughing, half crying, tears rolling down his face and his whole body shaking in complete exhilaration, had just hit his first "career home run" as he would tell us later.
I arrived an hour too late. Because I'm mom of the year. Duh. (And to make it worse, Kurt showed up right AFTER it happened. The fact is, when you have 5 kids, you miss a lot of things. Sigh.)
Somewhere toward the end of the game, the coach put Liam in left field, next to where we were sitting. We watched as the pitcher threw the ball, the batter swung and hit it; up, up, up it soared, straight toward Liam. Liam watched the ball, adjusted his feet just slightly, actually put his glove up in the air and by the grace of the baseball gods, he caught that fly ball.
His eyes widened. He took a double look at the ball in his glove to make sure he had actually caught it and started waving the ball in the air, cheering for himself. "I caught it!"
He was as surprised as the rest of us. "Did you see that?! Did you see that?!"
Everyone went wild. You would think he had just made the final play of the World Series. It was the first out of some random inning in the middle of a random rec league game. But for him, it was a highlight in his life. The kid who almost quit last season because of fear now hit an in-field homer and caught a fly ball for an out, all in one game. Progress.
He has a blessed life, even in light of his differences. Or maybe, just maybe, it is because of his differences that we are able to see the little things as blessings. And when "life" hits the fan, it is those blessings that continuously hold us up, when we remember to let them.
Admittedly, sometimes it feels a little like living with Rudy....or living smack dab in the middle of Rudy, our own little made for TV movie.... And we are oh so grateful.
Recently I read a blog post from one of the few bloggers I follow. And apparently I like this blogger so much that if you would have asked me her name ten minutes ago, I could not even have recalled the beginning letters. (My attention to detail may be lacking in a few areas....as it turns out, Adderall does not fix everything.)
At any rate, she recently reposted a post that I loved the first time around and clearly she did too because she sent it out again (or maybe she was just out of ideas that day.....or even more likely, maybe it just popped up again when I was trying to clear out the 4,000+ emails in my inbox.....please read my above statement about some things NOT being fixable!)
Her name, for the record, is Ann Voskamp. She is a Christian writer and mom and farmer's wife and I will admit to admiring her on so many levels. Maybe even wanting to BE her at times. But mostly, I am inspired. Like most people frantically making it through this life, I need grounding and Ann offers that in ways I don't even know I need sometimes.
This particular post she wrote really hit home though. To put it simply, she offers you three words, neatly packaged in a sweet little story, to remind you that what you get in life is sufficient. Those words, "I get enough," inspired my new mantra:
I get enough.
I have enough.
I am enough.
Whenever I feel shortchanged, I remind myself that, like the child in Ann's story, I get enough. I get enough of everything I need. Food, water, sunshine, happiness, sadness, challenges, all those ordinary days that seem to last forever and go by too fast...oh, and oxygen! (Laugh, but until my doctor got my asthma under control this allergy season, I was not getting the oxygen I needed and trust me, you definitely want enough of that! I now hoard it. I admit it. I am an oxygen hoarder because I now know how much I LOVE to breathe!) But seriously, I get enough. Growing up, I had incredibly generous parents who gave me more than enough. Now that I am an adult (at least on paper) I have an amazing husband who provides us with a life beyond what I could have imagined. And while that doesn't mean we have no problems, I can honestly say, I get enough.
And because I get enough, I have enough. I have enough messes to clean up; my house is bigger than I could possibly stay on top of....if I lived in a third world country, I could host the whole village....and maybe the competing one down the street with the second watering hole. I have more kids than I can keep track of, more activities than are humanly possible to manage alone, more ideas and dreams than I know what to do with and even if I may try to tell you otherwise, I do. not. need. any. more. cowboy boots. (Or chickens. Or rabbits because holy guacamole, forget the carrots, we have RABBITS coming out our ears!). I have enough.
But the big one. The one that I need to tell myself and hear most often. The one thing I need to believe with all my heart and soul lest I mess the whole of this life up and waste it chasing something I cannot even pinpoint:
I am enough.
This last year, I turned forty. 4-0! About six months before that happened, I started freaking out. Like really, truly, clearly-having-a-midlife-crisis, all out panicking. Now, I do not believe I know anyone who, at some point, doesn't question who they are and what they are doing with their lives (you know, unless they are, say, six) but this was a real monster of a wall. Who am I? What am I? What am I doing? What have I done that is important and noteworthy and worthy of this life I have been given? What about me and my plot in life is good and noble and lasting? What will be my legacy? Do I even have one? If I die tomorrow, will my life have mattered beyond my family and few friends? (And no, don't argue with me that my life's worth is in my having 5 ridiculously wonderful kids because my rabbits do that every. single. month....not impressive.)
Six months I tortured myself. Maybe even longer. And then my birthday came and went, like all 39 before that, and the monster at the end of the book was just me and life kept rolling along and when I finally settled down and realized forty is no big deal, I began to grasp that our ultimate purpose, our ultimate worth, is not some big, impressive something that needs to be acknowledged by the world. Really, it isn't even about us at all. It is simply this: We are, we exist, because God loves us. Created in His image, for His love alone, His hope and desire for us is beyond our comprehension. You. Me. We are enough. Enough for God to create, to wait for, to hope for, to fight for.....Enough for God to love. Even enough for death on a cross. We are enough.
It isn't showy. It isn't an Ivy League degree or a high powered job or a wardrobe of designer clothes or a segment on the national news. It doesn't put us in the spotlight of the world or even in our tiny towns. It doesn't make us a rock star to a flock of chickens or help us win soccer games or fold the laundry or put dinner on the table or build our clientele. And yet.....it is more than enough. More than we could possibly imagine or create for ourselves. And if we, if I am enough for that, I am enough for anything.
And so are you.
And since everything sounds cooler in Latin, I leave you with a new mantra to try out for yourself:
Ego Sum Satis
And if I were preaching this in a church, I would now cheesily have the congregation sing (to the tune "We are the Church"):
I am enough.
You are enough.
We are enough together.....
And they would go about their day, humming it to themselves, remembering. (And trying to get that blasted tune out of their head!) Just like you will. (You're welcome!)
"Mom, I saw something really funny at school today," Lily says.
I try to listen but anymore, the rush of words spewing from the mouths of my kids seems to get jumbled in my already crowded brain and the best I can do is stare at them blankly. Sometimes I nod.
"Lily, I am so sorry. I couldn't concentrate on all of those words. Could you repeat it?"
"Oh, I totally get that!" she says honestly. "So, I read this at school and it is really funny:
Friends are like snowflakes.....
If you pee on them, they go away."
The humor snaps me back to the present and I glance over at Lily. We laugh for a very long time.
* * * *
How did it get to be summer break already? These last few weeks and months have flown by yet in the getting here, their heels were dragging! Or maybe those were mine.
For months I fretted over the impending decade change that I experienced on this year's birthday.....I lost my way, found it again, lost it, stopped bothering to look for it.....but found it anyway when I stopped freaking out and realized that the monster at the end of the book was just me....still me.....fury, lovable old Grover Graceful Chicken. (With an emphasis on the old now I guess.)
Where did the time fly off to anyway?
Playing soccer against a high schooler recently, he was unable to take me on 1v1. He had been smack talking the other boys all day so I said, "Hey, how does it feel to be beat by a lady old enough to be your mother?"
It was really funny at the time but when I pause to think about the truth behind it, I'm stumped. How did I get to be the adult around here? I pondered this question as I helped cut Solomon's fingernails yesterday. He was complaining that it hurt and Lily told him: Well, THAT'S why I do my own! I flashed back to conversations with my grandparents about how to cut and file your own fingernails. I must have been about 5th grade and my grandparents were taking me out to lunch I think. I don't know why it was just the three of us but the moment still stands vividly in my memory. My grandpa thought we were still talking about using the nail file properly but grandma and I had changed the subject to the best way to cut your dominant hand's fingernails, yet there he was, chiming in: "I just hold it still like this and move my other hand back and forth across it like this."
Grandma and I took one look at each other and burst into giggles.
Grandma is 98 now and Grandpa has been gone for over twenty years. And somehow, someone thought it was a good idea to put ME in charge! I mean, for real y'all. I still laugh over 'friends being like snowflakes because they both go away if you pee on them'......that's who's running this show! (At least in part....)
The absurdity of it struck home last week when I emptied out Solomon's school backpack.
Look closely......what doesn't belong? Ding ding ding! That Leatherman knife/tool combo probably doesn't belong in the kindergarten classroom. But this adult in the room? She did not even know she was missing one!
"Solly, you can't take knives into school buddy," I told him, withholding my chuckles as best I could.
"You can't?" he asked, as if he didn't realize it until just now. (He's sneaky, that one.)
"No, Solomon. They will expel you from school if you take in a knife. Do you know what that means?" I asked. He shook his head no.
"It means you wouldn't be able to go back to school anymore," I declared.
There was a pause before he slyly responded: "Really......hmmmmm."
The wheels are a'turnin'. I want to tell him, "Hold on to this moment, Solly, because someday, someone is going to get the bright idea to make you the responsible adult in the room and...." OH! MY! GOOD! LORD!