Friday, August 22, 2014

Firsts...and other life lessons

Hey Peeps—

I pride myself in being a life long learner.  I learned that term in Nursing school a couple years ago, and thought it sounded smart, so I try to work it into conversations whenever possible.  For instance, today I learned that when you eat a whole box of Milk duds, the size you take to the movies to share with a family of 6, but this time you eat it all by yourself in a dark room to comfort yourself, the next day there will be repercussions.  Of the gastrointestinal kind. 

You might be wondering why I needed to comfort myself with food.  You also might not care, and if that's the case, please don't tell me.  It might hurt my feelings so much that I'll eat the Junior Mints next.  I swear I will.  I’m almost embarrassed to admit what had me in an eating frenzy last night.  A lot of moms I know were thrilled to send their kids back to school and regain their freedom once again.  Not this mom.  I've been dreading the day all summer, and today it finally arrived. 

Now it hasn't always been this way.  Several years back, when Jack was in 1st. grade, and had more energy than a rabid rotweiller, and two other little babies were barely out of diapers, then I was sort of glad to have a safe place to send Jack for several hours a day.  I felt guilty for being glad though.  That's how people pleasers have to justify everything.  If they admit to being happy then they have to equally feel guilty about it too.  (Who knew you were gonna get a lesson in abnormal psychology today? You are welcome)

Anywho. Today we drove our sweet children off to school once again.  They knew the drill.  This day we weren't just going to drop them on the curb and head out for a mani pedi.  No, this is the day we all walk in together.  Faith immediately ran to the wall where 6th grade lines up and pretended not to know us.  Will allowed us to watch him play tetherball, but not cheer for him loudly or give him any tethering kind of pointers.  We said hi to other parents and I held back tears when I hugged a few of them, knowing this day is just as hard for them as it was for us.  Faith did end up wandering over to us with her friends, not to really acknowledge us, but more to let us know she was doing okay. We were so glad to see her pretty face one more time before she headed in to begin her new year.  The dreaded whistle blew and it was time to line up. 

At this point in the day, since Will was in kindergarten, I would be full blown in tears.  Not the ugly cry with snot pouring out of my nose, mind you, but the kind that feels like my throat is closing and I'm going to choke back a huge sob that might come out like, "No!  My babies!  No!  Stop growing up this instant!".  Thankfully I never screamed that out loud, but for the grace of God.  This year, this year as my youngest son lined up for 4th grade, something strange happened.  I didn't cry.  I didn't even feel like I was going to cry.  I felt sad to say goodbye, but not the kind of sad where you feel like you can't breathe.  I looked over at Billy and he was smiling too.  And in his arms was our 2 year old Little Miss Sassy Pants, wriggling around yelling "bye" to Will and taking it all in. 

We walked to our car, drove home, sent Billy off to work, and set about to do our day.  The house was peaceful, but not silent.  There was just enough noise to remind me I wasn't alone, and even though my heart was sad, it was also full of gratitude.   I worked downstairs doing laundry and paying bills, all the while my heart sang for joy at the sounds of a little girl up in her room playing quietly with Legos.  Later when she came downstairs to check out what I was doing, she saw her siblings pictures on the computer.  She began to ohhhh and ahhhh at their faces, and said out loud, "Will wuv me.  Faif wuv me.  Oh my Dackie!"  She knows she belongs, and she knows she is loved. 

By the time Little Miss woke up from her nap it was time to go and pick the kids up.  She knew it too.  She woke up asking for them.  We jumped in the car and couldn't wait to see their sweet faces.  First Jack arrived and then Faith and Will.  The reports of the day were wonderful, as we listened and asked questions.   They told us about their funny teachers and about being a friend to the new kid.  Will mentioned he was using a plastic Target bag for a lunchbox, and Faith told me I forgot some important paperwork.  Dear Lord, I'll never have it all together, but none of that stuff matters.     All that matters is we have four kids that know they are loved.  We have four kids that know their identity.  We have four kids that are striving to grow in character and grace, as their mom and dad give them ample opportunities to learn the meaning of forgiveness.  We have four kids that won't be home forever, but tonight they are.  And for that, we give thanks to God. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Goodbye to dead frogs, cousins, rooms, cribs...

Hey Peeps—

Oddly enough a frog that has been decomposing for a year under a bookshelf emits no odor.  We assumed at some point the aforementioned frog location would become obvious, and naturally we would give him a proper burial.  They say time heals all wounds.  I guess that's true, because when Jack and Will found the dead frog yesterday, nobody shed a tear.  In fact there was laughter, but don't tell PETA.  The last thing I need is them breathing down my neck. 

Dead frogs aren't the only situation I've been dealing with around here.  Thankfully, Billy and Jack arrived back home safely from a mission trip to Cozumel, after I managed to hold down the fort with the other three children.  We did make our usual, "Dad's out of town so let's take our new toddler to the hospital so that she won't die" trip while they were away.  Everything is fine, however, Billy is NOT allowed to leave town for at least 10 years.  And now that our travels and free-for-all summer activities are over, real life has kicked into high gear.

As we have been feverishly preparing for the upcoming school year, sadly we sent our nephew Taylor back to Missouri to finish his last year of college.  All of us hated to see him drive away.  I'll miss everything about him, except watching him eating all the Chobani, and the hair he left in the kid's bathtub.  Those two things I could live without.  But time marches on, and we had to let him go.  Will was not as sad to say goodbye, because the minute Taylor drove away, his plan could finally come to fruition.  It was time to move down to the basement and turn it into the "Bat Cave". 

That very afternoon we watched Taylor drive into the sunset, Will began working on his grand plan.  He began clearing his treasured possessions out of the room he's shared with his brother since birth, and took them to his new headquarters.  Jack pretended not to care, and even helped clean out their room.  There were some arguments about who owned the boom box, and who got all the Lemony Snicket books.   After several days the room was set up to Will's satisfaction, and I asked him when he was going to make the big move and actually begin sleeping down there.  He said, "In 5 days mom".  When the 5 days were up I asked again, not because I want him to go, but because all of his personal belongings are down there and I'm tired of him asking me if I have any of his clean underwear in my room.  (I don't.  It's MY room.  Where I keep MY stuff.) 

Two nights ago as I was tucking Will in bed, I broached the subject of his move once again.  This time I asked if he wanted to change his mind.  With tears in his eyes, he asked me, "Do I have a choice?"  Oh my gosh that just about broke my heart.  I told him of course he could change his mind and that we all want him upstairs with us for as long as he wants to be up here.  We talked about how he could keep the "Bat Cave" set up as he likes it, sort of as an escape when he needs to just be alone.  He gave me the biggest hug and said he was going to think about it.  

Taylor departing and Will's possible move aren't the only major adjustments we've had at the Repenning Manor.  The other morning I went in to get Little Miss Sassy Pants up and caught her straddling the crib.  She looked so guilty as I picked her up and tried to explain that we want to avoid Children's Hospital, instead of going there every other week.  She dismissed me with her typical, "I want eat" and it was at this point I told Billy she would be promptly moving to the big girl bed.  Moving a 2 year old from a crib to a big girl bed is no small task, as it took a lot of rearranging and sing song voices about the wonderment of it all.  Faith sewed her a pillow with a giant "Z" on it, which was a motivating factor.  Who doesn't love having a homemade pillow?  I will admit the first night was uneventful, or so we thought, until we went in to check on her around 11 and found her on the floor.  Thankfully I had laid pillows down so her fall off the bed didn't even wake her up.  We tucked blankets in around her and she was successful the rest of the night.  Tonight she's got a bed rail in place to help teach her to stay centered, though at last check, I see we've got quite a ways to go. 

So the summer of 7 has dwindled down to 6.   Kids are moving around and growing up, all right before my very eyes.  I can't keep it from happening, so I jump into the current with both feet, even though I'd rather wade around where nothing is moving very fast.  What I want and what I have are two different things.  However, If I think about it for more than a few seconds, I know what I have is exactly what I have always desired.  My kids are becoming more independent.  They are learning to be secure in themselves even when they are afraid, and need to change their mind.   Most days they keep trying, even when they fall flat on their face.  No it's not unicorns and rainbows, but real life being lived out loud with a lot of laughter, sometimes tears, and the always present knowledge that we are never alone.