rhymes with saints.
Your spouse brings home your anniversary dinner in a take-out container
and you are just happy that you don’t have to cook
and even happier that you don’t have to clean up.
You gaze across the table at your partner
over your child’s head
who is sitting in your lap and audibly passing gas
and it doesn’t even ruin your appetite.
In a curious juxtaposition, the flowers that he brought home
are sitting on the table
amid a pile of socks and underwear
waiting to be folded, since yesterday.
You’re aware that you’ve used the word juxtaposition.
It’s 6pm and you are wearing flannel pajama bottoms
and a shirt with macaroni stuck to it.
You are happy that you didn’t have to get cleaned up to go out
because it’s too much work
For a Tuesday night.
To reward him for putting up with you for eight years
you give him a package of M&Ms
which you will eat tomorrow after he leaves for work.
He gives you a gift certificate for an expensive spa package.
You promise yourself you will give him his “real” present tonight,
the one he really wants,
after the kid goes to sleep.
But you are both too tired.
So you drift off to sleep
in his arms
thanking God for a good man,
a patient man,
a sweet life.
You must be at least 4-feet-tall to ride this ride. Please remain sedated seated and keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times. Do not attempt to exit the ride until happy hour it has come to a full and complete stop.
7am: Aaaaw! Look at him sleeping. What an angel! I adore him. How lucky I am to be his mother.
8am: You wanna wear this shirt? No? Okay, don’t cry. How about this shirt? No? Please, don’t cry. How about this shirt? No? Okay. You’re crying. Don’t cry. You want to wear this? Okay, but that’s not a shirt, it’s a bandana. This is not a fun game. I don’t want to play anymore. It’s someone else’s turn to be the mommy. I want to be the lady who goes shoe shopping.
9am: Ooooh! Thank you for the kiss my sweet little soldier. I wuv oo too punkins! It’s so great to be a mom!
10am: What do you mean mommy’s purse is in the toilet? WHAT was I thinking having a kid? I have no business having a kid. I shouldn’t be left in charge of anybody with less than four legs!
11am: Aaaaw-uh! Look at him quietly watching Elmo, his little eyeballs glued to the TV. He is such a good boy! I love being a mom!
Noon: Why is the VCR smoking? You did WHAT? You put your juice box in the VCR? Good gravy I’m not even a competent baby sitter – what am I doing with a kid?!
1pm: Aaaaaw! Look at him sleeping! My precious boy! What a blessing it is to be a mother.
2pm: Throwing Macaroni and Cheese is NOT an acceptable form of dissent! DO YOU hear me buster? Neither is throwing the spoon! Neither is throwing…. Okay! O! K! FOR YOU MY FRIEND! I am not mother-material! I do NOT! look good in Macaroni and Cheese!
3pm: Aaaaaaw! Look at him coloring in his coloring book. How he loves to color! He is artistic like me! Motherhood is so rewarding.
3:05pm. X#%*&! That’s not a coloring book! That’s my new book on Post-Impressionist painting! So help me! Whose kid is this?
5pm: For the 10th time, I don’t know WHY, okay? I don’t know the answer to anything! Is my shift over yet? This wasn’t on the motherhood syllabus!
6pm: Aaaaaaw! Look at my precious boy helping mommy set the table for dinner. What a good boy. Being a mom is such a joy. Hey can you bring the spoons back please? Hey… where ya’ going with those spoons. Hey….
7pm: It would be better if you kept the bath water in the tub. The water needs to stay…. I’m just saying…. What the hell AM I saying? I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore. Am I still speaking English?
8pm: Aaaaw! Look at him sleeping in his little footsie pajamas like a little mookie wookie! He is so darn cute I can’t stand it. I adore him. I wish I had ten more just like him! Being a mom is the greatest thing ever.
Please watch your step as you exit the ride. The next ride starts tomorrow at 7am.
Today I celebrate my 8th year of marriage to Antique Daddy. We have weathered a number of storms as all couples do – infertility, chronic illness and then my own cancer – but on the whole there have been far more ups than downs. I think I’m good to go for another eight.
Yet even on the days when it’s good that I don’t own a cast iron skillet, there is an anchor that is so solid and heavy and deep that it keeps us steady even in the most turbulent of seas and that is our common faith in God.
We met ten years ago through mutual friends. I was 36 and had been widowed for over two years. He was 39 and had been dating professionally for as many years – neither of us prime dating real estate. We had both had our boats rocked by life. I had lost a husband and he had lost his father at age 11 and then his brother when he was 18. It is in this deep dark place far below the surface where sunlight does not penetrate that for both of us, faith was born. Not in fullness, but in emptiness. Not in blissful blindness or in a dearth of intellect, but in seeking and searching. Not in a joyful hand waving hallelujah chorus, but in a sometimes silent, angry, knee-bruising wrestling with God and His church. Ours is a faith not so much inherited, but earned. It is faith that is at the core of our marriage. It is our faith that dismisses thoughts of walking away. It is our faith that keeps us focused on living beyond the moment and into the future.
And now there is the boy. The boy who has made our marriage more challenging, more contentious, more frustrating, more joyful, more meaningful and more worth the effort. The boy who represents the miracle of life and faith made manifest. The boy who binds us ever more tightly.
So today, we mark eight years into this partnership of marriage. We do not know what the years ahead hold for us nor do we much care — we know whose we are and what we are made of. We just pray that there are a lot more years to come.
Little known fact: The Navajo invented their super-secret code not to throw off the other Indians, but because they had toddlers. Everyone with a toddler knows that they are omniscient — they see all, hear all and are acutely aware of all. Navajo code is the only way to keep information, which they will use against you, out of their hands.
This past weekend we stayed in a hotel and we were enjoying breakfast in the dining room when Antique Daddy leans over to me and almost inaudibly whispers, “Nature calls. I’m going back to the room.”
As Antique Daddy makes his way towards the door, Sean announces to the other diners, “DADDY’S GOING ON A NATURE CALL!”
Anyone know Navajo for Nature Call?
Antique Mommy is taking the day off. Here’s something from the archives.
The morning sun was harsh and blinding as we headed east. It bullied its way through my windshield and bounced around on the dashboard. It was not the gentle, renewing sun that greets me through my kitchen window every morning and baptizes me into another day of life. This sun cut through my cheap sunglasses and directly into the center of my skull like a gamma knife. This sun pushed my “GO!” button over and over like someone impatient for an elevator.
Sean sat in the back seat of the car and provided the color commentary as we drove. “Mommeeee! A pick up twuck!” and then “Mommeeee! A school bus!” We were a good ten cars deep as we approached the four way stop. It seemed as though no one had ever encountered a four-way stop before.
Stop. Inch up. Stop. Inch up. Finally we were just three cars away from our turn before we could zoom on with our lives. And then I saw him. He was sitting on the corner, in a tattered lawn chair. He looked like he might be somebody’s dad. He could have been my dad. His silver hair peeked from under a dirty baseball cap. He wore sunglasses. He was waving at every single car that passed through that intersection. Not a half-hearted flip-of-the-wrist wave, but a vigorous hand-over-head wave. He tipped his chin up to the sun – THAT sun – and with a full smile sent goodwill and greetings out to universe and to those who crossed his path that morning. “Hi!” or “Have a nice day!” he called to every driver.
My first thought was “What kind of nut…” Finally it was my turn. I pulled up to the stop sign. “Look Mommy! A man!” Sean called into the front seat. “Him wave at me!” “Yes Sean, that man waved at us,” I said as I looked in the rearview mirror at his baby face, so pleased. As I pulled through the intersection, the man in the tattered lawn chair made eye contact with me. Even though I couldn’t see his eyes through his sunglasses and he couldn’t see mine through my tinted window, I knew that he had looked into my eyes, that he had laid eyes on my soul. I rolled down my window and yelled “Hi! Good morning! It’s great to be alive!” And I wasn’t even embarrassed.
We continued down the road, heading east. The sun no longer seemed as harsh and my “Go” button had been magically disabled. Such a simple gesture had changed the course of my day and my attitude and maybe even my life.
I thought about that man in the lawn chair off and on throughout the day. I couldn’t let it go. Something had happened to me at that intersection. As I lay my head on my pillow that night, it came to me. Like a feather floating down from the ceiling, it settled on my heart. And it is this: It takes so little to reap so much for the kingdom of God, the kingdom of humanity. If you’ve got a lawn chair, a smile and an arm to wave, you’ve got a ministry.
What are you doing for the kindgom?
I am sitting on the floor in my closet, staring at several boxes of maternity clothes.
Antique Daddy: I wish you were pregnant again.
Antique Mommy: Yeah, me too.
Antique Daddy: I’d be terrified if you were pregnant again.
Antique Mommy: Yeah, me too… Do you think I should give away my maternity clothes?
Antique Daddy: (Silence)
Antique Mommy: Yeah, me too.
* * *
I know most women hate maternity clothes, but I loved mine. When Sean came six weeks early in mid-November, I was so disappointed that I had holiday maternity clothes that I wouldn’t get to wear.
Every time I go into my closet I see these boxes. And every time I see these boxes I think “I should give these things away to someone who can use them, someone who is pregnant.” I am practical. I have pulled out these boxes a number of times intending to pass them on, but I never get further than the bedroom door with them. I am not a hoarder, yet I can’t seem to part with them. To give up on these clothes is to give up… I can’t complete the thought.
Once again, I have pulled the boxes out, and like Pandora, I can’t resist looking inside. Even after nearly three years, the familiar clean smell of laundry detergent rises up. I pull out a tangerine cotton blouse with tiny yellow flowers. I hold it up to myself and look in the mirror. I stick out my tummy, placing a hand where a baby would be nestled inside my body. I feel the sensation of joy fill my bloodstream as I imagine I am pregnant again.
I picture in my mind how I waddled around the neighborhood in that tangerine blouse in a proud display of impending motherhood. I recall what a season of joy that was in my life. I catch sight of myself in the mirror unaware that I am smiling.
I am 46. I put the tangerine blouse back in the box. I put the lid on the box and shove it back into the closet.
I took Sean ice-skating for the first time on Monday.
Some of you know that I was a figure skater growing up, so I was looking forward to taking Sean this first time. He has a lot of natural balance and did well, as well as anyone can do on rental skates. He really seemed to like it and I began to entertain visions of the two of us going off ice skating together, perfecting our double Lutz together, as all mothers and sons do.
When we left the ice, I asked him if he enjoyed it and he said “Yeah…. But I don’t ever want to do that again.”
Just as well. I would probably rather there be no sequins in his future.
If I could give one piece of advice to new moms, it would be this: Never change a poopy diaper while wearing bell sleeves. Not. Good.
You won’t find that in a book anywhere.
When you are sitting in your mom’s lap while she is at the computer checking her Site Meter, and the picture below pops up, ask “Mommy, is that you?”
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