Archive for December 2013

Parenthood   Leave a comment

I figured out at some point about ten years ago, after having been a parent for approximately 7 or 8 years, that there is no way you can repay your parents for all they did for you.

Don’t ask me why I  had the idea before this revelation that you could somehow repay that!  I didn’t really think that; I knew that financially you can never give back to your parents all the dough they sank into your food, clothes, clubs, hobbies and college education.  I knew that you can’t do enough good things to somehow balance out 18 or more years of constant love and support.  We know this intellectually.

But for whatever reason at that point I was understood the amount of sheer work it is to be a parent for 18 years since I was living parenthood myself at that point.  Living whatever it is, always brings it home.

And why that almost frustrated me I can’t say.  I’d like to somehow be good enough that they would feel all their efforts had been worth it.  But nobody can ever do 18 solid years of good stuff!

So that’s how it is.  You receive the love and care your parents give you, because that’s by definition what you do as  a child.

Of course, the first 18 years is just a start; it’s impossible to walk away from your young  just because they are old enough to survive.

Sure enough, my parents kept being helpful as I transitioned to adulthood by paying college tuition and welcoming me with enthusiasm every time I was home on break.

They were supportive throughout graduate school and when I was teaching.

Then when I started having children they would come and help out.

So somehow these wonderful people just kept adding to the list of kind things they had done for me, that I could never repay, right?

They had been thinking for several years about the possibility of moving closer to us, since for all these years they have been trekking from Denver to Kentucky.  They were hoping, someday, we’d come to them.  I understood their thinking they should be closer to us  when they get old enough to require our help, but the idea of them moving to us was so new it was difficult for me to adjust to, so my initial reaction to the idea was less than thrilled.  I suppose it’s human nature to want to have things stay the same, or even to pretend that things are staying the same.

This past winter they stayed in our area for several months to really scope out the situation and see if they would find it agreeable to live here.  After about three weeks, they decided it would suit and they could do this.

So they returned to their home state, packed up the belongings that accumulate after nineteen years in one house, and loaded up the U-Haul.  They are now settled in a patio home, have found volunteer work to do and are still visiting churches, as there are a lot to choose from and they haven’t been able to select one yet.  And it has been wonderful having them closer where we can see them on a regular basis, think every two weeks, instead of every 9 months to a year.  It’s really been fun.  Now that the change has come and they are actually here, I’m so glad.

I won’t have to travel for two days one way to get to them when they need me.  What an incredible gift.

So think about this with me: not only were they patient with my initial reaction of not being certain I thought this was a great idea…two people in their seventies have once again done something really nice, for me.

Posted December 19, 2013 by swanatbagend in parenting

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I’m blogging and I can’t shut up   2 comments

I just can’t stop thinking of things to blog about.

This is so bizarre!  I have spent years trying to think of good article ideas, and now that I’ve started writing a lot more in the past two and a half weeks, as I said I planned to do, the floodgates have opened.

I keep thinking of things I want to write, and there’s not enough hours in the day.

What has opened things up?  I haven’t been like this for years.

It’s kind of fun to ride the wave. Who knows what will come next?

Maybe the novel I’ve always wanted to write will come to me.

That would be great!

Posted December 17, 2013 by swanatbagend in writing

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Songs of the Year   Leave a comment

This year there have been a few songs that have stayed with me, that have summed up the year, and what God has been doing.  It has really been a year of blessing.  These songs have literally gotten stuck in my head, in a good way.

This is the first year in I can’t think how long where there are no major struggles or issues that the children are dealing with.

For a while there, it was just one darn thing after another, for a mom to help them with.  There was never a moment to stop and breathe almost, for the last two years, it seemed like.

But for sure I look back now on all the struggles and all the challenges and I do feel this year has been a year of rest and blessing, and I can see it, taste it and feel it.

The weekend that Zach graduated, as I went about the shopping, picking up the graduation cake and all that fun stuff, this song by MercyMe was my companion.

I’ve been the one to try and say
I’ll overcome by my own strength
I’ve been the one to fall apart
And to start to question who You are

You’re the one who conquers giants
You’re the one who calls out kings
You shut the mouths of lions
You tell the dead to breathe
You’re the one who walks through fire
You take the orphan’s hand
You are the one Messiah
You are I am
You are I am

It’s stayed with me the rest of the year, returning as I think about all the mercies God has showered on us, mainly on the boys.  He’s brought them through so many hard times.  He does change hearts and minds in real ways, and we’ve seen that.  So when I hear “You tell the dead to breathe” I know it’s true.  And I’ve seen it in my own life when I was emotionally or physically “dead.”  He’s been the air.

Same with this one by Sidewalk Prophets, was with me on graduation day, fittingly I think, but has recurred as we’ve observed Zach following his road, and as we’ve resonated with him as he’s wrestled with a certain class and subject this fall.

If there’s a road I should walk
Help me find it  If I need to be still
Give me peace for the moment
Whatever Your will, whatever Your will

Can you help me find it?
Can you help me find it?

I’m giving You fear and You give faith
I’m giving you doubt, You give me grace
For every step I’ve never been alone

Even when it hurts, You’ll have Your way
Even in the valley I will say
With every breath, You’ve never let me go

The weekend that we took Zach to college and got him settled there I had another companion song.  This one is not one I had especially noted before and really the only part I know is the refrain. But that was what remained as we traveled around the campus, rode a bus that ran into a car (nobody was hurt), and gave Zach his final hug and words of encouragement before we headed back home.

I know who goes before me I know who stands behind

The god of angel armies is always by my side

The one who reigns forever He is a friend of mine

The god of angel armies is always by my side

Chris Tomlin, Whom Shall I Fear?

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies is always by my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies is always by my side

Seemed like that was provided just for this mama who was, as all are, reluctant to face the final moment of parting.

The song that reached across the whole year however is 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman. I don’t remember when I first heard it, but with how full my heart has been this year, starting with our last spring break with Zach, it has been a song I continually seem to refer back to.

You’re rich in love and you’re slow to anger

Your name is great and your heart is kind

For all your goodness I will keep on singing

Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

Bless the Lord oh my soul, Oh my soul

Worship his holy name

Sing like never before O my soul

I’ll worship your holy name

My heart has been so full this year.  So that kind of summed it up.

I’m not saying I believe that nothing unpleasant will ever happen again.  I know that things will get harder again for us, because that’s just the nature of life.  I don’t know why I’m sailing a peaceful sea at the moment.  I’m just really thankful that I have come to port here for a time, and I thank God for answering so many prayers.

Posted December 17, 2013 by swanatbagend in gratitude

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Missing?   2 comments

It’s Saturday and for the first time since August 24th, I did not talk to Zach today, and I won’t be talking to him today.  We planned to talk every Saturday and we have kept that commitment with the exception of one time it worked better to talk Sunday.

But this Saturday my oldest is incognito as far as communication is concerned.  I can’t reach him by phone, email, fax, text, message, US postal mail. Nor can I talk face to face, for the first time that I can think of.

He’s in another country on a study abroad trip, seeing new sights, having new adventures, and as Dave Barry would say, “learning new words for ‘blood transfusion'” and I’m sure he is enjoying every minute of it.

It’s just one more step down the path of the new era for me.  It’s a fantastic opportunity for him, and I am thankful that he has it, and yet it’s odd that I won’t hear anything from him nor will I be able to reach him for another week or so.

When your children are small, their times away from you are short and prescribed.  You know precisely what they are doing and when they are going to be back.

The notable exception to that would be the time you misplace your child.

Zach took a walk by himself when he was two years old.  I had been outside with him but gone back in to finish dinner, thinking it would only take me a few minutes. When I came back out fifteen minutes later he was nowhere in sight.  It was a December evening and darkness was already starting to come down.  When Greg got home from work a few minutes later, and our neighbor JB heard our situation, the two of them took off down the road two different ways, and I started up the hill, calling for Zach, and berating myself for ever letting him out of my sight.

At the top of the hill, I saw a little red-coated figure bobbing along, accompanied by JB’s dogs.  That was the most relief I think I have ever felt in my life after the longest fifteen minutes of my life.  All at once, everything that had seemed, and for all I knew, been horribly wrong, was made right again.  I knew at that moment, that my child was not a project or activity I kept busy with, but a person who was priceless and could never be replaced, and I knew then just how much his little self meant to me.

I picked him up and hurried back down the hill to let the men know he was all right, telling him I didn’t know where he was and I was so glad he was all right.  I got him back inside, sat him down on the couch, told him please to not go off again by himself like that, and he said, “I sorry. I stay.”

Well, this time I do know generally where he is, but no specifics.  That has to be enough and it is.

He is no longer a small, sweet boy who likes to be outside, looking at bugs, but a large sweet man who likes to be outside looking at bugs.

He has grown up, seems like when I wasn’t looking.  I must have been inside, just for a minute, making dinner…..

Posted December 15, 2013 by swanatbagend in parenting

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You Gotta Love a Cat When He Wants It   Leave a comment

You know how cats are.  It has to be their idea.

So, I try to roll with that, remembering it’s good practice for kids as well.  Who knows what time of day or night someone will really need to talk to me about something or need to be held or need something because they’re sick.

I sit up in bed this morning and a gray shadow comes trotting briskly into my room to join the other gray shadows.

He’s rubbing against my legs and purring vigorously.

I get my socks, slippers and robe on and make my way to the bathroom.  I never like to turn on a bright light first thing so Boris continues to be nearly invisible.  I can feel him when he bumps into my legs in an effort to either trip me or be affectionate, of course.

But it’s when I sit on the toilet that the Lovefest really warms up.

He flops all over the floor purring, rubbing back and forth on my hand as I pet him.

Then eventually it’s up to my “lap,” such as it is, and he flops out, pressing his head toward my hand for the required chin and whisker scratch, purring all the while.  This is his time of day to demand my attention, so I do my best to give it.

Although it’s a bit difficult to concentrate on my business.

But we like to keep the cat happy, and ourselves happy at the same time.

I just told Boris I’m writing about him and he’ll be immortal.  He’s not impressed, he just wants his breakfast now.

Posted December 12, 2013 by swanatbagend in Uncategorized

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“There have been a few changes since you left” — written November 25   2 comments

This is what I may end up saying to Zach when he gets home on Wednesday.  When he left for college in August, while I felt that over three months was a long time to be apart, I didn’t think that anything here would really change.  I anticipated that he would be the one changing.

While I feel sure he has changed, taking in his 18th birthday, handling all daily responsibilities for life, health, classes and planning for international travel himself, since he’s been gone, I am surprised to note quite a few things here that have changed.

We’ve actually moved some furniture around, got a different tablecloth, built something for the cats to climb on.

The dry erase board in our school room, which was command central for Zach and Helena’s school assignments, is now command central for Helena and Beren’s assignments.

The garden of course is finished, and the 10 foot tall okra stocks have been chopped down.  The morning glories, which were in fine form when he left, have frozen, died and been removed from the trellis.

There’s construction on the way to church that has emptied out a lot and it looks really different.

Other things too…..I suspect that Greg and I look just a tiny bit older than we did when he left.

Helena and Beren are probably taller.

How they spend their time each day is pretty similar to when he left, but not entirely since Helena is doing new activities that take her away from home more, and Beren has branched out to take a few science classes, and he was pretty grown up in them I am happy to say.

You wouldn’t think that much would change in a little over three months, but I suspect it has.  Time never stands still, even when you think it is.

I know that although in many ways we are the same, and our relationship will be the same, I will find that there are some subtle differences.  After all we are not on the same daily life track.  He’s doing different things than I am every day, and as much as I’d like to be involved in that out of interest and love, it is not possible, nor should it be.

One thing I am sure of that I’ve learned in the last few years.

I will not take for granted any particular gathering of people, thinking, “Oh well, there’ll be another day like this one.”

I used to think that, not any more.

Posted December 8, 2013 by swanatbagend in Uncategorized

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It’s a Wonderful Life — December 6, 2013   Leave a comment

It really is. Even with the challenges of each day, and the ongoing struggles that have stymied me at times, for years at times, it has been a wonderful life.

Even though I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression off and on, mainly at life transitions, but always there at some level since I was 12 or so.

Even though I’ve been given kids who are special and unique and need more attention and love and nurturing than the average bear, and I haven’t really felt like I was qualified.

Even though I had a cesarean forced on me, that I didn’t need, with a general anesthesia because I kept telling them what I wanted.  Even though that led to a really horrible time for months and bonding problems for a couple of years.

Even though I walked through the bitter, nasty valley of infertility.

Even though friends betrayed me several times along the road.

Even though I have an autoimmune disease which affects me a little, or a lot, depending on the day.

Even though I have an infection that started with a simple cold on November 13th, and I’m still fighting it off, and the side effects from the antibiotic we tried include muscle and joint pain and nightmares.

Even though my back hurts right now, Oh well!

Into every life some rain must fall, and really, I don’t comprehend why I’ve had relatively so little rain.

There have been so many gifts along the way, for 46 years, that even if nothing particularly spectacular ever happened to me again, the good things I’ve already experienced would be enough to provide a lot of fuel for the future.

I’ve always had really good friends; no, make that some really great friends.  Once in a lifetime friends, I’ve been blessed to have several.

I’ve had the opportunity to better myself with a college education I didn’t have to fight for.

I’ve lived in some of the most interesting and unique places in the country, moved around a lot as a child.

So I know now people from all over the country.  I sure enjoy Christmas cards!

I had a truly wonderful childhood with two of the most devoted, thoughtful parents a girl could have.  They just loved on me and were so patient with all my weaknesses.  They made holidays and camping trips so fun and every day a good day, because of their love.

I married the sweetest man I know, who although we had almost nothing in common to start out with, now we have about 28 years of experience in common, and people give us anniversary cards that claim we were made for each other…..which, it seems, we were.  How fortunate can you get?  Not saying it was fun and easy.  Just that it has been a gift.

I have been blessed with not one, not two, but three priceless people who I’m blessed to be able to call my children, when at one point I didn’t know if I would be able to have any.  They have completely changed my life and I would not be who I am today without them.

And I got to have a fantastically perfect home birth with the last one, surrounded by women who loved me.  (That seems like just a bit of a bonus, frosting on the cake!)

I have always enjoyed reading and art and music and been blessed to benefit from all these arts, in home and away.

And maybe I’m not much like George Bailey, yet, not that selfless, and don’t want to be nor claim to be that important to my little world, but I’d like to look back and be able to see that at some points I played a part that nobody else could have played, that helped someone else along.

It is a wonderful life.

Posted December 8, 2013 by swanatbagend in Uncategorized

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