Thursday, August 31, 2017

Now 5, Little Big Ollie Bear

Dearest Ollie Bear,

Today, I think I called you by my little nickname more than the rest of the week combined.  I realized, as we spent so much of the day together, that you're so little big now, and someday soon, there's a chance you'll ask me to stop calling you that for good.  You already tell me too frequently that 'I'm COLLIN' when I address you as my little cub.

But for now, today, and hopefully a few more tomorrows, you're my little Ollie Bear, my teddy bear, my cuddly bear, my grizzly bear.

Collin, I can hardly believe that it's your last day being four.  I don't want it to be true.  I have tried to deny it.    I put you to bed tonight and I said "what is going on tomorrow, again? I forgot." You laughed SO hard and said "I'm FIVE BECAUSE ITS MY BIRTHDAY!"  I hugged you as tight as I possibly could and kissed you before covering you up, declaring our love, and asking you to please stay in your room and go to sleep so I could wrap your presents.  

Today, we were blessed with the surprise pre-birthday gift of time together.  We spent a portion of it with your brother and sister, who are your closest friends and also occasional foes, investing our time making memories at a park, and then adventuring with sea creatures and butterflies.  Your laughter echoed all around us, as you delighted in wonder and also in knowledge about the creatures around us.
Then, we said 'see you later' to them, and we were given time for just us.  It was of immeasurable value, as I listened to you talk about the things you love.  I took you for a special lunch, where you asked to take a fun picture with me.  You talked non-stop with one of the employees there, who you also asked to have cut your hot dog, to which she gladly obliged.  You love people, and it shows.  You are a true extrovert in that way.

Mister Man, I know we definitely have our differences  There are countless ways that it seems we are exact opposites, which makes for some interesting power and stubborn struggles on a regular basis.  You're loud, I'm quiet.  You're a firecracker, I'm more of a Scentsy warmer.  You're demanding, I'm requesting.  You love dirt, I prefer dirtless.  You hate pants, I love pants.

But we are also very similar.  You love with your entire heart, for better or worse, and you have a huge heart in your tiny body.  You care when others are sad and hurting, and you take great care in protecting your treasures.  You love to snuggle, to read, to wrap yourself up in a cozy blanket, to sit and watch the clouds go by, to oogle over babies, and to just sit and be still (sometimes).  You have great passion.  We share that, for sure.

You're starting to really come into your own now, little big boy.  It's exciting to me to watch your interests unfold.  You play sometimes that you don't really "know" stuff, but the moment my head is turned, you blow me away and share your knowledge when you think I'm not paying attention.  You're incredibly intelligent, and it makes me proud.  I'm amazed with the way your mind works.  You've even begun to help me with problem solving of my own from time to time!  Just the other week, I was struggling to figure out how to do a project to make some paint stick on a shiny surface, and you simply said "why don't you paint the back."  It made perfect sense.  Thanks for your genius, Ollie.

This year has been filled with joy and reunification, but also repeated loss, and I know that makes it a little bit of a tarnished birthday for you.  You've been looking for one who isn't around again, and I know that puts some cracks in your little big heart.  But buddy, I promise you, even though one isn't there, you're completely surrounded and enveloped by the love of countless others who are, and I know for a fact that God is going to heal those cracks right up for you in time.

As much as I wish you weren't already turning five, and away from your baby and toddler years toward the big, bright world of elementary school, I am thrilled to see what the fifth year has in store for you.  You're going to blossom so much more, I can feel it in my heart.  It's going to be an overwhelming and wonderful world for us all, and I'm so thankful that I am such an integral part of yours.

Ollie Bear, thank you so much for being you.  Thank you for the struggles you provide that make me a better mommy, and thank you for the calm and love you give me all the same.  Thank you for loving me no matter what we go through, and for being excited to see me at the end of every day.  Thank you for never withholding a hug, even if you're mad.  Thank you for showing me love I didn't know I had.  Thank you, for being mine.

I pray that we both have patience, grace, and mercy as this next year continues. I know that there's going to be big bumps in our road, heated moments, loud voices, and struggles all over.  But, there's going to be thousands of hugs, millions of giggles, tons of kisses, and infinite love.  And that's just from me... it doesn't include your brother, your sister, your family, your friends... your village.

I love you, Ollie Bear.

Happy Birthday, when you wake.
Momma Bear.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Super Powers

It's been an exhausting couple of days, for various reasons, both good and not as good.

Last night, we arrived home right at bedtime, and the kids willingly went into their room to prepare for rest.  They laid there quietly and happily for a few minutes while I got stuff ready before going in to do bedtime prayer and gratitude, give hugs and kisses, and wish them goodnight.

Then, as is common lately, one by one, they all had reasons to get up, or call for me in the other room.  I try diligently to always have a positive attitude or at very least a kind voice when I re-enter, but it's a struggle sometimes.  Especially on nights like last night where it was already nine o'clock and I had a list of various duties to tend to before excusing myself to bed.

Eventually, they coaxed me into laying among all three of them on their bedroom floor, one laying across my arm while both arms were splayed to my sides playing with the two youngest's hair.  The fish tank light was off, the van on for white noise, and I laid there struggling to stay awake myself, my to-do list playing repeatedly in my mind.  That's when the thoughts started rolling in as well.

"This is so hard."

"This is so exhausting."

"There aren't enough hours in the day."

"There's not enough of this Momma to go around."

"I don't know how I'm going to do keep doing this."

"Its going to take some sort of super human strength or some kind of super powers to keep this up forever."

Eventually, they all drifted off to sleep.  I did a half-baked job on my nightly duties and then flopped myself into my own bed.   Then, I realized I had a few more things to do, rolled on out, finished up, and returned.  Then I realized the door wasn't locked.  So, I got up again, locked the door, and then fed the cats, got some water, and went back to bed again.  I think I fell asleep around 11:20.

This morning, I woke, tired as usual, and forgot to make my coffee before we all marched out the door at 7:40.  The children were all in fairly good moods for their shortage of sleep last night, and we were on our way.

As I sat in the waiting area at one of their appointments, the thoughts of last night replayed in my mind.

But today, they were reframed with a feeling of empowerment.

Parenting is hard.  It's crazy hard.  It's hard when there's two parents.  It's harder when those parents are separated.  It's even harder when you're doing it alone.  At least, in my experience that's true, having done all three versions of parenting in the last 7 years.

Right now, I'm back to being a single parent.  I mean single parent, as in not sharing the children with their other parent. I know that to some, co-parenting or shared-parenting is considered or felt to be single parenting.  Again, in my experience, they're wildly different.  So, as I said, I'm flying solo.  I wish I wasn't, but I am, so I pull myself up by my bootstraps (oh wait, my boots are all strapless...) and I carry on day in and day out.

Even when it feels like it's too much.  Even when I'm too tired.  Even when my nerves are shot and my brain is fried, and I go to work with my pants on backwards (yes, that's happened, more than once actually, in the last couple weeks... maybe I should retire those pants).

I won't pretend to be a super woman.  I won't claim to be a super hero.  I won't boast to be a super mom.  Because, quite honestly, I'm not.  It may look spectators that I am when I calmly herd my three littles into a restaurant for supper, and they sit down quietly and excitedly tell the waitress their order.  But then as soon as she turns her back, two of them are sword fighting in the booth, shortly before one of them bites the other one in the bathroom fighting over who uses what toilet stall.  I hug the injured and break out my "mad voice" and my "mean Momma Bear glare" at the other while the wait staff smiles at me with a knowing look.

I don't have it all together.  I'm not a super-hero, super woman, or super mom.

I'm your run-of-the-mill, ordinary single mom just doing the best she can, usually.  Sometimes I'm not doing the best I can. Sometimes I'm doing what I can just to get through the moment... which I guess, in those moments, is actually probably the best I can.

I will be first to admit though, it does take some sort of super power to be a single mom, a co-parenting mom, or a happily married mom (or dad).  Like I said, parenting is crazy tough.

So, as I sat there, this morning, reminsicing about last night as I choked down the straight black coffee I was accidentally given instead of my regular order in the drive-through this morning, after having forgotten to make my own at home like I usually do, I thought about these super powers that are needed.

And, I realized...

I DO have super power.

It's the power of the Holy Spirit.  It's the power of Jesus. Its' the power of God.

As soon as I realized that, I had verses flooding in my mind, and I needed to share them here.

Because, if we want them, we can ALL have super powers.

Every single parent out there.  Every single person without children out there.  Every single child out there.

We're all equipped.  We just have to seek them.

Ask God, He'll give them to you, freely, lovingly, and happily.

That's how I do life right now, when I'm too tired, too overwhelmed, too frustrated, too sad, too everything.  I lay down on the floor with the lights out (or maybe as I drive in broad daylight in the van, or a hundred other places and ways) and I let God in.  It's not always a conscious effort, to be honest.    But, he reaches me, and he blesses me, and through every tear, every sleepless night, every pants-backward-at-work-Wednesday, every joyful-they-ordered-their-own-supper Friday, every big and little moment, I keep on keeping on.  He's the One pulling me up, so I don't even need straps on my boots.

Sometimes, of course, I don't feel this way. I don't see it this way.  Even as I write this today, knowing exactly how I make it through, I'm still exhausted and a bit overwhelmed (even knowing God's going to carry me through).

And you know what, those are my worst days.

I'm praying for less and less of those days, and more days where I'm fully aware of my super power, MY Super Hero.  (Even on those days when I don't think I'll get through it, I know somehow I will, even if I'm too stubborn to admit the real reason.  I'm imperfect.)

I'm praying the same for each of you.