I’m going to let you guys in on a little secret. When I write, I am not always in front of a keyboard. For example, I am now on vacation on a beautiful island in the Caribbean. It’s a balmy 85° out and I have a glass of iced tea next to me. There are no children present, in fact, I am all alone.
As far as sporting events go, Easter is the Superbowl for those of us who follow Jesus. It’s a big deal. We get to celebrate THE REASON we exist. The reason we get up every morning. The Person who loved us first. Man, it is just awesome! And if you don’t celebrate, thank you for supporting those of us who do. Just know, the roster isn’t full yet and the winning team could always use a few more players… in case you’re looking for the greatest coach to ever play the game.
It will never cease to be special to me, but this year it was missing some of the magic… like every single holiday of the pandemic. Part of it is simply a construct of having four kids under eight with a baby. Every little task just seems monumental, especially the thought of trying to do a special weekend or a special dinner. Or a special… anything.
And because of viral concerns, my family hasn’t gathered in a year. I know you are all with me on this. We’ve seen bits and pieces of family, but the big fun holiday gatherings where there are tons of arms to pick up the babies… aren’t happening. No meeting on the field… everyone sits in their own locker rooms… and plays football over zoom.
So we found ourselves on Easter weekend tired to the bone like every other weekend. Dave and I talked briefly about how we both basically do shift work. He shifts in the morning from about 6AM-9PM then sleeps. I’m up from about 7AM-midnight doing all the things. All. The. Things. Janitor, concessions, referee, back-of-house sales, finance and corporate. Everything. And when all of those things are done… suit up and play the game of your life.
Hiding Easter eggs and making pretty candy baskets were not at the top of my fun list of things to do. Screw you, you dumb bunny. Now you make me stay up even later. I was so tired I didn’t even want to picture my kids’ faces when they saw the Easter Basket. Bunny and Santa… you’d better hide because there’s one pissed off mom who does NOT need one more thing to do.
That was tired Sara talking to myself as I trudged up the stairs to try and wrangle the crew in bed. I sat in my room and played with Rachel putting off the inevitable… the boy tribe.
But before I could enter the boy locker room, Josh came peeling into our room crying his eyes out. It was not an “emergency room” cry… it was a “somebody hurt my feelings and I’m going to make sure everyone knows” cry.
In between gulps of ugly-cry fit he managed to tell us that Sammy had slapped him hard. On the face. I looked for a hand print but I was darkly disappointed that I didn’t see one. Definitely “Illegal Use of the Hands.”
I asked him why Sam did it and Josh replied he didn’t know. I can usually tell if Josh was instigating, but he seemed too shocked and broken this time.
Time to suit up and get on my gear. I closed my eyes and sighed, breathed a prayer and went to confront Sammy. When I got in the room he stood there with the guilty eyes. In Sam’s case, they’re the cutest expression his eyes make so it’s not good for the referee who finds it hard to resist such sway.
“Sam… why did you slap your brother really hard?”
He wandered around with some bizarre explanations until I brought him back to the field. “So what you’re saying is that ‘You slapped him because it was fun and you felt like it.'”
He muttered some affirmatives and I had to start in on the mom explanation of “Illegal use of the hands or you’ll incur a penalty. More blah blah blah of the mom pep talk. You guys know. You do it all the time. I ended with “You owe your brother an apology.”
I brought Josh in the room and said, “Josh, tell Sammy how that slap made you feel.” So he did that and I could see Sammy’s eyes go a little watery and back and forth between anger and hurt.
Sammy copped up to a pretty sincere apology. Josh still had angry frown and stone face. Josh could make an entire career of being butt-hurt and even have time for a side hustle of selling drama and holding grudges.
“Josh, what do you say to Sammy? Do you forgive him?”
I leaned in really close to Josh’s ear and whispered, “I can tell he really means it.”
I stood up. I saw both faces soften in the slightest.
Josh: “OK, I forgive you.”
I was trying very VERY hard not to be triumphant. I was close enough, I decided to go for the two point conversion. “OK guys, why don’t you give each other a hug.”
At the same time they both looked at each other and said, “No.”
Me: “OK, OK, I can respect that. Maybe that can come later.”
Messy, messy, messy forgiveness. But headed down that road, nonetheless. I didn’t care so much about the words and actions, I was studying their hearts like a player watches the game plan on the chalk board.
I saw glimmers of progress. And that was good for that night.
As I finally laid my weary head down that night after making the baskets and eggs and treats, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus on that awful night. How his mother had to watch him be slapped and brutalized and spit upon. And as we explained to our kids, Jesus chose it. He chose every bit of it for us. He knew that he had to lose in order to win… and did it all because He loves us. Endured the most hellish “game” ever imaginable because he knew our souls hung in the balance.
Jesus isn’t into neat and tidy forgiveness. He’ll suit up and meet us on our home field turf because he loves us that much. And he also loves us too much to watch us try to keep scoring touchdowns on our own end zone. If we stay down after a hard tackle, He will pick us up, dust us off and turn us toward victory.
This whole last year, I seemed to be lying flat on my back with the wind knocked out of me… gasping for breath and sleep and whatever else while the other tiny little football players ran around me and laughed. But I do know this: I can’t be helped up by a loving hand when I’m already standing. E’en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come. Sorry not sorry for the flagrant running football analogy. I am, after all, a mom of little boys.
#superbowlsunday #heisrisen #forgiveyourbrother #momlifewins #boymom #boymomadventures #boymomsrock #boymoms #boymomforlife #helives #helivesinme #upfromthegravehearose #easter2021 #easter2021🐣🐇 #forgivenessisfreedom #forgivenessofsins #reconciliation #reconciliationday #truthandreconciliation
I was talking to a friend the other day about a favorite topic among boy moms… the gas boys pass.
And they seem to pass a lot.
“But hold on, Lin. Humans pass a lot of gas. Girls pass a lot of gas.”
You are correct. Let me not steer us wrong. I am assuming that both genders pass the same amount of gas. There is nothing in our chromosomal makeup that would preclude one gender from passing more gas than another.
That is purely up to genetics and probably more influential, the food we consume.
The difference is, boys tend to call attention to it. Trumpet it from the mountaintops. And think it’s hilarious. There are exceptions, of course on both sides, but on a whole, boys are to farts as girls are to… nothing. I simply cannot finish the analogy.
From a female perspective, boys are so very gross. I grew up with three brothers and I spent my entire childhood rolling my eyes at the antics: the absurdly gross things they did.
And now, I have three boys myself and I am in the gross zone once again. I have the nose of a bloodhound for sniffing out gas and pride myself in smelling it the moment it happens. Between the booger-picking, the dirt-rolling, the bug-smashing and puddle-jumping, my eyes are stuck in the up position, beseeching Heaven for commiseration.
Except, God made them. And He loves that about them. He loves the dirt and the freedom and restlessness… all the things He put into their little bodies. Their mom, however, wants to see them freshly bathed with clean ears and noses wiped.
Listen closely dear readers, for what I’m about to tell you has never been breathed before. It is too horrible. If you have a weak stomach or you are prone to nausea, leave now. This article is finished for you right here.
Those of you who are now reading these words, proceed with caution at your own risk. What you are about to read is a train wreck and you will not be able to look away.
It was an ordinary day where two of the three boys were getting ready for school. TJ was a baby, all of 1.5 years. He had probably just learned to walk and was making good use of those skills.
I was downstairs probably doing fifty things at one time including but not limited to: making lunches, making breakfast, feeding the dogs, making coffee and paying bills.
It was relatively quiet and I heard Sam start screaming. It was a strange scream that sounded like he had been hurt. Or seen a ghost. It was a scream of horrification.
I dropped what I was doing and ran upstairs, skipping stairs in between.
I heard the screaming from the bathroom: I ducked through one bedroom and ran to the bathroom and stopped dead in my tracks.
I tried to take in everything I was seeing but it was too awful.
TJ was standing by Sam who was sitting backward on the toilet. TJs hands were covered in poop. He had smeared said poop all over Sam’s back.
There was poop on the floor and TJ had stepped in it. Sam was screaming in horror. Even though he was only 3.5 at the time, he knew that just wasn’t right.
I started screaming… an animalistic high-pitched squeal. Dave came running in from our bedroom. He saw the scene. He started screaming.
“What do we do oh my gosh where do we start,” were the words tumbling out of both of our mouths. I had been there longer so I took control.
“You grab TJs wrists so he can’t touch anything else! Take him to our bathroom and don’t let his feet touch the ground because he has poop on the bottom of his feet. Wipe him off then sanitize him in the shower! I’ll take care of Sammy and the mess in here!”
We sprang into action like a Nascar pit crew. After all, changing a tire certainly can’t be more difficult than this.
Dave managed to get TJ in the bathroom and wipe him down before he touched anything and I cleaned up Sammy and the bathroom explosion.
Afterward, we looked at each other. We look at each other a lot this way. The look contained so many words.
“I see you.”
“That was disgusting.”
“No one would believe this is real.”
This is the same man who still giggles at farts. But at least he puts up a good front for the boys. His glances after each incident help me through the cleanup and get me through the day.
There is a new outrageous “gross” incident or three every day in this house, but I’d rather that than constantly worrying and chasing after with hand sanitizer and telling them not to get dirty. Because dirt is the outer shell of creativity.
One of these days, little sister and I will have a running commentary on the gross boys and I will teach her the fine art of rolling my eyes. And she will teach me how to giggle at the farts.
I am convinced that sports uniforms suddenly jump through the Darwin hoops and sprout legs, crawl through the jungles of unfolded laundry, hide in the dank recesses underneath mattresses and marinate in the swamp bottoms of athletic bags. At least, this is the story that my oldest gives me whenever we start getting ready for a game or practice.
He’s been on this earth 7.5 years and by now, we know that he *actually* believes he’s looked everywhere. When clearly he hasn’t. Because when you legitimately look *everywhere*… you will find what you’re looking for.
To build a foundation for this story, I first must give you a snapshot of Josh:
He is highly sensitive and feels deeply. He cares what others think and he tries his very best at everything. His expectations of himself are extremely high, which is why he is crushed when he comes up against something that he struggles with. He tends to keep things inside and only mentions something when he’s held it close for far too long and it eats him up inside.
Out of all the children, so far, I feel the least capable of being his parent. When I look at Josh, I am confronted by the same weaknesses I’ve struggled with my whole life. I’ve only had mild success in “fixing” myself, per se. It is only the transformative grace of God that those demons haven’t destroyed me. Instead, I can live in the reality of being loved and accepted as a whole person by an infinitely Loving God– warts and all.
I get it. I find myself wanting to be the hardest on him… for the same reasons I’m hard on myself. So with Josh, it takes the *most* restraint and the *most* effort of stepping outside myself in the parenting journey. Doing the delicate dance of guiding him through this life with one hand and constantly taking the temperature of our relationship with the other hand.
Back to the problem… at hand. We need that uniform, Josh- your game is in a few hours. What? No, you can’t just go to the game naked. I don’t know where your belt is… I have three more kids and eleventy billion uniforms. You can’t find it? It’s the last place you left it… no…. no wait…. you don’t have time to mope and be sad. That won’t help you find the uniform.
Sometimes I remember to prompt them to lay their uniform out at night, but we all know my brain has usually ended up in the trash can by 8:30.
So this is how Josh ended up lying on the couch, melted in a puddle of dejection and sadness and no uniform. I wanted to tear my hair. I wanted to yell in frustration, “YOU’RE OLD ENOUGH TO FIND YOUR OWN STUFF!!!!” But just as God quietly comes to my side and whispers love and peace, I took a deep breath. And I stepped aside for a few minutes to ask for grace, mercy and humility. You know. The things I’m terrible at.
I walked up to Josh and patted his back and looked him in the eye. “Josh, I know you aren’t great at finding things. I see you. You’re good at a million other things. And it’s ok. However, it’s not ok to throw up your hands and say, ‘well, I’m just terrible at that, so I’m going to give up.’ It’s still your responsibility to keep track of your things, but it may be a little harder for you.”
“You know, I’m bad at some things. Like, really bad. And you know it. What kinds of things have you seen that mommy’s really bad at?”
Josh looked me level in the eye and said, “Cleaning. Mom, you are not good at cleaning.”
“Well, Josh… you are right. I really can’t stand it. I’d much rather write stuff or create stuff or play the piano or play with you guys… a million other things. Your dad is far better at the cleaning game. Let me ask you a question, just because I’m not good at cleaning, does that mean I can just stop doing it?”
“That’s right. It’s still my job to keep at it and keep after it even though I’m slower and not as efficient as your dad. Why? Because it’s my responsibility. I help dad care for you guys and care for this house. But it’s not as easy for me, so I put in a system to help me get things at least ‘livable’ in the house… not perfect, but livable.”
Then we talked about what a system was and how it could help us achieve our goals.
So we went from room to room together and turned each room upside down and then checked that room off of our list. After we had exhausted all spaces I looked at Josh.
“There is only one place left to look.”
He looked at me and nodded.
We said it together: “The dryer.”
The last stronghold of the clothing fortress. We both opened the dryer and half expected a wild animal to jump out at us. We held our breath knowing there just wasn’t any other option. We dug for a few seconds and emerged victorious with pants and a shirt.
We could never find the belt, but I let that go. His pants might fall down but at least he wouldn’t show up in his birthday suit.
Confidence. We can’t build it by fighting their battles. Doing so steals the confidence because we are taking an opportunity they have to wrestle with the problem. It is in the struggle that we either decide to fight or run. What we can do is walk through it with them. To say, “I see you and I see your weaknesses. I love you. I’m with you in this fight. You are safe in this space as we walk together and learn how to handle our responsibilities.” Together… because parents struggle too.
Lately, Josh has been having to learn a lot of tough lessons at school and at home. And we’ve had to call him out quite a bit. He’ll hold on to it and brood about it, taking it as a personal failure each time. I recognize that it’s his personality and journey he struggles with. But on the extra hard days, I whisper to him “Hey, stay down here awhile after we put your brothers to bed.”
He and I will snuggle up on the couch and watch a movie or show, just the two of us. We laugh and talk a little… not erasing the things of the day, but putting some ointment on the relationship that life had burned that day.
We decided to watch “Beat Bobby Flay,” that night. He and I are Food Network junkies and we yell at the television and guess who will win. I wanted a snack so of course, I asked, “Hey Josh, you want a snack?”
We are watching “The Food Network,” after all. I went upstairs to make us some hot chocolate but when I got up there, I realized I couldn’t see the TV. I must have put my glasses somewhere.
“Josh… have you seen my glasses? I cannot for the life of me remember where I put them.”
He pointed above the TV. “Right there mom.”
I smiled. My eldest and I. We are good at finding each others’ stuff.
It’s time for me to address the elephant in the room.
*walks into a room*
OK, I’m here, in the room.
Wait, what am I here for again?
This scenario that you just read happens at least 3 times a day to me. I used to look at my own parents like they were nuts for forgetting what they are doing or trailing off and not finishing sentences.
This is now a regular thing for me. Maybe I write to try and counteract that and help me believe I’m not crazy or losing my mind.
I’ve never had amazing recall, but sometimes I feel like my brain is lagging five seconds behind. Like I’m in an echo chamber and the voices on the echo are the voices of my kids trying to reach me. No wonder most days end in a headache.
In short… I cannot keep up. Especially with Sam, my middle child who has made it to the professional ranks of drawing conclusions. His ability to connect the dots is staggering.
When I picked the boys up from school in my trusty steed, the Silver Pathfinder known as “Martin” (because it identifies as an Aston Martin), both boys piled in and immediately started jabbering about their “Silver Spurs.”
Let me back up for a minute and tell you about this construct.
The boys’ school has developed a beautiful system to for teachers to “catch” students in good deeds and promote character qualities they see. Teachers hand out “tickets” (little slips of yellow paper) and write on it good things they observe in the kids. The kids put the tickets in a lottery at the end of the week and their names can be drawn for prizes.
Josh usually earns all sorts of awards, multiple in a day. Of course he does. First child. Loves rules.
Sammy’s pile isn’t so prolific. He’s middle (boy) child. Rules are a choice, not a necessity.
On this day, Sammy climbed in excited because he got THREE in one day and he described what each one was for. Josh quickly jumped in and said he got one, but that he usually gets a lot more. Like he needed to remind his mom of that stuff. No… it wasn’t about me… it was about him just saying it and letting the words hang in the air for validation. Being a mom, I had to address it.
“Josh… you frequently get multiple Silver Spurs. And we are proud of you. Let Sammy have his moment and shine because we are proud of him too.” The rest of the convo flowed smoothly and the topic died, so I will fast forward you to tonight.
Dave came in from work. After the family had eaten dinner, it was just the parents and Sam left in the kitchen. It was a moment of rare silence. Sammy looked up from the table and Dave and I were standing in the kitchen so we could easily converse.
“Mom,” he began. “Those Silver Spurs…. they are ah, printed from a computer, right?”
“So,” he said, “You could….. print MORE of them, right?”
Dave and I turned to look at him. Then we looked at each other. And we couldn’t hold it in. We starting laughing until we cried. Usually, we can stave off the laughter, but not this time.
“So, Sam… you’re saying you want to copy the and print them, right?”
Then we had a lively discussion about counterfeiting and decreasing the value of the “Spur.” Boy oh boy, I cannot keep up. Sam connects the dots in ways that I get whiplash as he move fluidly from topic to topic.
And given that I’m usually sleep-deprived and in the multiple kid wind tunnel doesn’t help either.
That night, as I got into bed, I had a vision of little Sam behind bars at the state Pen holding up a mugshot sign that said “Convicted for embezzling and money laundering.”
At least he’ll be the cleanest launder-er there. Boy loves washing his hands.
I opened one eye and shining in the darkness I saw the cute little pink elephant snuggling down in the corner.
Well. I wasn’t going totally crazy. I finally made it to the room with the elephant.