IMG_0108Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be “that other mom?” You know the one.

The one who’s different from you.

Maybe she works,works from home, is a SAHM, home-schools, public schools or private schools her kids.  Maybe she’s organic right down to her shoes and makes her own laundry soap.  Maybe she’s got tattoos or purple hair. Maybe she is younger, or older than you were when you started the whole mothering thing. Maybe she’s an immigrant and English is her second language. Maybe, she’s Muslim, or Jewish or Christian. Maybe she struggles with a chronic illness, child with special needs-or has a different marital/family situation than you do.

I’ll be honest- I’ve done more than wondered what it would be like. I’ve made assumptions and judgments about what it must be like and  how and why she’s different from me.

I mean- my way of mothering is obviously the right way. That’s why I do it this way. Duh. So of course I judge. In order for my way to be right- her’s has to be wrong. Over time, I’ve let those judgments and assumptions build up into walls. Walls that keep “other” moms out of my life.

Over the past few years, God has been doing something interesting with those walls. He’s been tearing them down. Brick by judgmental brick. For the most part it hasn’t been in miraculous Jericho-like ways. There haven’t been horns or 3 day marches. Just- meetings. Accidental meetings where I take the time to get to know some “other” mom.

What I’ve discovered is this: a lot of my assumptions and judgments have been 100% wrong.

I think, I’m learning to love- the other. Here is [one of the ways] the Bible defines love…..

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Cor 13:4-7 NIV

I’ve been doing the opposite. My judgmental walls have been built on assumptions of impatience, unkind thoughts, envy (the grass is greener- over there…) pride- my way is the right way, dishonoring other mother’s unique callings and personalities, seeking to prove I’m right, anger over being judged by others and keeping a record of the “kinds” of others who’ve judged me, delighting when others fail- because it makes me feel like I’m succeeding, not really caring about the truth as much as assuming I already know it,  defending myself instead of protecting others, doubting instead of trusting, giving up that I can connect with others if they are different or if it’s hard, instead of persevering.

What started out as an accident- has become a passion. Those “accidental” meetings have become friendships- friendships that have changed both my me and my mind. For the better. I’m making fewer assumptions and asking more questions. Now that I’ve gotten to know some “other” moms, I know how much I’ve missed out on by keeping them out of my life. I’ve also learned that we never know if, when or how our circumstances will change. Being surrounded by women of all kinds and backgrounds- gives us a collective wisdom to depend on when they do. 

Settling for judgmental walls isn’t good enough anymore. I want to love more. I want to love better.

I can’t help but wonder what the world would be like- if women (and mothers) grew to know and respect each other instead of judging and assuming? What if we learned to love the other?

I think that instead of being threatened  by our differences and spending so much time defending ourselves- we’d be better- if we mothered together.

Even when we disagree-we need each other.

 As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 

I’m not naive. I know that differences can cause conflict. Have you ever seen the ironworking process? When iron sharpens iron- sparks fly- however-the results are worth the risk and the work.

They are worth the risk in relationships, too.

My questions for you- do you catch yourself judging others? Do you make assumptions based on moments you experience from the outside- as a grocery store voyeur- or mall maligner? I have.  Or,  do you take the time to try and get to know that “other” mom?

I’m ready to tear down the rest of my walls. I want to engage with and learn from: YOU. The other mother.

Who ever you are. Similar to me, or different.  I’ve had a taste… I want more. I need more.

So- I’m ready to walk some miles- in the shoes of others- when I can, so I can get to know by a bit of experience what your life is really like- next to you when I can’t walk in your shoe-by listening, to you who live there-  instead of judging.

It’s gonna be a grand adventure.

It already has been;) Besides- it involves shoes! Who doesn’t love shoes???? :)

I have a feeling that if we stopped all the judging, competing and assuming– the whole Mommy Wars thing? Would be over.

Which: I’m ready for. How bout you? Looking forward to sharing more of the journey:) Stay Tuned.


Photo1I never got in trouble for what I doodled in the margins…. it was always what I scrawled in the middle of the page that caused the problem. No, I wasn’t writing scathing book reports or running an underground newspaper in elementary school. I didn’t blow the cover off the faux meat lunch room cover-up or create a tabloid laden with pre-pubescent gossip….

I was boring. (Still am.) I just plain had illegible handwriting. (Still do.) No matter how hard I tried- it always looked like I’d doodled my homework. Let’s just say- I loved Scan-tron tests…. I could almost always fill in the little ovals in a way that could be read by the machine…. almost.

Yesterday, we talked about the art that can happen when we allow some doodle time in the pages of our lives. Today,we’re talking about the marginal. What happens when the margins take over the page.

My primary life goals are to- 1) love and honor God and 2) love others.

The truth is- my calendar and to-do lists rarely reflect this.

Here’s a sample:

6:30- wake up

6:31- do what all women who’ve had 3 children and the bladder to show for it- do.

6:33- glare at the coffee pot while contemplating mainlining coffee grounds just. this. once.

7:00- start the wake up process of a child who hates mornings.

7:10- begin making the threats that will eventually force him to both get up and get dressed. (Threats may or may not include and are not limited to: Nude school attendance, starvation, ice water dumpage, video game grounding.. you get the idea..)

7:15- discuss the physics of soggy cereal being a natural cause and effect of dawdling. I.E. your own fault.

7:25- nag about homework placement. (“Is it IN the folder, or shoved into the backpack? Is it complete? Don’t forget to turn it in…”)

7:30- explain that shoes are: WHERE THEY ALWAYS ARE. and yes- socks are part of the dress code. I SAID So.

7:32- begin the carpool countdown.

7:39- push- shove and generally throw the child out the door toward the SUV of the  neighbor/angel who drives him to school each day….

Kind of hard to find the whole… “Love God- and others” priority there.

I suppose you COULD make a case for the whispered prayers of “God, please help me not kill this kid.” being an honest connection with God. You could also say that getting a child launched out the door- clothed, fed, prepared and threatened into his day is a form of loving care….. maybe.

If my day became less hectic and more focused- you could even chalk that first 69 minutes up to- just being a mom….

The truth is- it rarely does.

There is always “stuff” to do. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, preparing, shopping, errands, appointments, carpool….

Chances are- if I’m not actively doing something- I’m guiltily thinking about the things I should be doing….(Like all that stuff I “Pinned” on Pinterest..)

At the end of my day- I find myself wondering if I really accomplished anything that matters.

Of course- the “stuff” of mothering matters. Naked children at school would be bad. (less laundry- but bad.) Feral children are generally frowned upon in even the most un-polite society.

But still. I wonder- is all this STUFF necessary?

I’ll be honest- I know it isn’t.

(well- clothes, food- safely maintained surroundings…. are… ) But- does EVERYTHING really have to be done PERFECTLY? Does EVERYTHING have to be Pinterest or photo shoot ready?

I’ve decided- it doesn’t.

If I spend less time on the “stuff” of mothering (and living)  I can do more of the HEART of what I want to invest my life in….. loving God and others.

The only way for there to be a margin of time  in my life is to stop scribbling all over the page of my days with never ending to do lists written in a striving for perfection.

I have to leran to let the marginally important become marginal in my life.

New rules:

1) Clean enough- is clean enough.

2) Good enough is good enough.

3) Start with the most important then add the lesser.

4) Do less- focus more.

5) Say “No.” Not “I can’t.”

Why? because:

1) Clean enough IS clean enough.  I refuse to spend my life cleaning. God has a bigger plan for all of us than that. (if you struggle with that- I encourage you to check out ) A free way to find that balance of home maintenance and spending all your time cleaning….

2) Everything doesn’t have to be home made or perfect. Sometimes it’s okay to-buy the cupcakes for the class. Sign up to bring pop instead of a dish to pass. (Gatherings are about people- not a Food Network challenge…) Save that hour to pray. Read. Make a phone call. Meet a friend. Soak yourself in something encouraging you can pour into others…Don’t use it to clean the windows.

3) No really. I mean it. I need to force myself to start with connecting with God and people FIRST. Work can always be done later. Homework can wait until we’ve had a chance to talk- have a snack- be together. Time with God can begin before the coffee is finished…..I can get up a few minutes early to make it possible to have caffeinated devotional time. I can make the phone call early in the day before it becomes too crowded to really connect.

4) Somethings just don’t have to be done. I don’t have to sign up for every volunteer position. I don’t have to always cook a 3 course meal. Confession: I have lived at this house for 12 years. The windows have never actually been “washed.” We can still see out of them. (I do however constantly clean finger and nose prints off of them….- otherwise we wouldn’t be able to see out. Which could be a form of insulation- I suppose- but I’m not willing to try it. I have standards.)

5) When I say “No.” I’m afraid people will think I’m mean. (They may.) However- when I say: “I can’t” because- it feels like a lie. I mean…If I really tried… I usually COULD. (I can change schedule conflicts, I can rearrange my life- I can live with or treat the pain caused by….)  ( I have serious neck issues- I’m currently in a neck brace until at least June…certain things cause me physical pain- I can say NO- and not suffer it- or say yes… and hurt myself. It’s a choice I have to make.) Saying “No.” Isn’t mean. It simply doesn’t leave room for people to try and problem solve how you “can” instead of how you “can’t”.

Sidenote: when asking someone to do something- I think it’s better to ask if they will- vs. whether they can….. we need to allow each other to say “no” too. 

It’s time to get some margin into our lives.

It’s time to let the marginal take it’s rightful place….. to focus on the most important- and get that done, first.

Dear Lord- I confess- I often scribble all over my days. My to do list looks like one of my elementary homework assignments. If I try to read it- the point is lost. Illegible. I completely forget about margin because I’m so busy filing the entire page with the less important. Help me to be wise- to honor and love you and others first- help me to let the marginally important take it’s rightful place…. and help me to focus on the most important. Loving you- and loving others. Amen

How about you? Do you focus on the marginally important? How do you make time for margin in your life? What have you let go of? How do you save time?

Tomorrow we’ll complete the series- “Margins- Marginal and the Marginalized”….by talking about the Marginalized……..making room in our lives for those we are tempted to keep at arm’s length.

A blue backpack has taunted me all weekend. “How are you going to send him out into this kind of world? What IF….”  The backpack stops from this:short.  Even an inanimate object doesn’t want to voice the fear we all feel.

My brain battles back… “What are the chances? Our school is safe. I have to trust God….”  But, still. tonight, I’ll pick up that backpack and do what moms all over America are doing. I’ll check homework. I’ll pack a lunch. I’ll sign notes and layout tomorrow’s clothes. Only, tonight, instead of a soundtrack of mental to do list review and complaints about smelly lunch leftovers in a lunch box, there will be a cacophony of fear:

  • “Maybe I should homeschool.” (Again. I’ve already been there.) 
  • “Are there flak jackets that fit under uniform shirts?” (I’m afraid to google this. If child sized flak jackets exist… well.. it just makes me sad.- Sadder. Which is hard to imagine.)
  • “Can a backpack be retro-fit with kevlar? Are there bulletproof backpacks? Should I talk to my kid about what to do…. IF?”

If I were a bazillionaire- I’d be tempted to buy an island and build a compound where my family and loved ones would be safe from sick or evil people. I’d put a bubble over it to protect us from chemical and biological warfare. I’d filter our air- and be sure to have a sustainable agriculture model that would feed us healthy, chemical free foods. I’d make sure we are UV protected. I’d have internet filters that would keep inappropriate content from ever being visible. (I can’t imagine surviving without the internet at this point…) I’d stockpile:  food, medicine, books and yarn. (We all have our vices.Oh and probably have weapons.. but as you can tell, i’m more about comfort than weaponry.) We could probably survive a zombie apocalypse, but, I’m not sure we could survive each other. I’ve been with these people on car trips.

We’d probably die of suffocation. Emotional or otherwise. Which- would make me a mass murderer, wouldn’t it?

It’s probably good that I’m not a bazillionaire.

Since I’m not, and honestly- even if I  were- I’m not sure I want to be locked away on a secluded island with even just my own brand of crazy….What DO I do next? What do I do Monday morning? After 20 children and their teachers were killed…. in their classroom? And a mother was killed in her home. And a broken, sick, messed up 20 year old killed himself?

Parent’s everywhere have experienced yet another paradigm shift. What once felt safe…. feels unsafe. What once was unthinkable, is more than real. I’ve spent the weekend trying not to think about it. I turn off the news after brief updates. My husband put up the Christmas lights. I did laundry and knit gifts and ordered other gifts.

But now- it’s Sunday, and the blue backpack beckons. The clock is ticking. Monday is coming. So is: carpool and pickup and leaving my child all day in the care of others….

Out of my control. (As if I have control here… but that’s another article, altogether…)

What next?

There’s only one answer….. I will pack the lunch. I will check the homework. I will pack the taunting bag and make sure he doesn’t forget it. I will layout the school clothes. I will wave goodbye as he carpools. I will be there to pick him up. I will do the next thing. Because that’s what moms do. To do anything else would be to let sickness and evil win.

I will be nervous. You may be too. I will have fleeting thoughts of island oasis’ and stockpiles that would make a “prepper” look like a sadly outfitted overnight camper.

I will pray. I will trust.

I will pray that God will protect…… I know He does… but I will also pray that God will be present – even here. Regardless of the circumstance. As he was- in Sandy Hook. In the heroic acts of teachers- and first responders, and the invisible loving arms that welcomed little ones too soon, into eternity. After a year of facing several surgeries, and cancer and financial struggles and all the rest of life we’ve experienced…- I know this for sure: Awful things happen- But- he is near. Even here.

Friday- I chose love. Today? I choose trust. In my fear. Trust that no matter what happens Monday- God will get us through- as he will those so hurt on Friday and everyday.  To choose to withdraw and to try and seclude ourselves into safety… would only be letting evil win.

Which is all grand to say… but that backpack. It still taunts. I am still afraid. The world is not safe. I want to choose trust… but how do I manage the emotion?

What works for me:

  • Honesty. I will talk about how I feel. Even though I’d rather avoid it.
  • Connection. I will listen to the fears of others. I will find solace in not being alone.
  • Compassionate Action. I will do something to help others. I need to remember that this isn’t about ME. Nor, is life.
  • Prayer for me. I can’t change my emotions…. but God can, and He can help us get through anything- even a normal Monday shadowed by fear- which is what most of us will experience tomorrow.
  • Prayer for the grieving. I don’t have words- but I can weep with those who weep- and pray that God will be present in their pain.

So- let’s start now…. together. Pray with me?

Dear Jesus-  I come to you with a weary, fear  and grief burdened heart. I come to you with a backpack taunting me…. how can I send my child out into a world that is so dangerous? A world so full of all the things that cause tragedies like the Sandy Hook shooting? How can I trust …  when I know that death, murder, sickness, abuse  and accidents all happen? I trust by remembering your presence in other pain. I remember your tender care at the cancer center. In hospital rooms. In funeral parlors. I remember your love in the darkest pains of my life and how you [eventually] bring light into the darkness. remembering helps me trust. I love you Lord- and ask you to be near the broken hearted. I ask you to be with every parent fearful as they pack backpacks for Monday. I ask you to be present as we face fear and choose trust. Lord- I know that in the end- sickness and evil will not win….let the defeat begin in me. In Jesus name- amen.

Moms, dad’s how are you feeling? How are your kids feeling? What works for you?

And… if you happen to be a bazillionaire… do you have any room for a nice family of five in your compound? (Just saying…… still feels like an option….) If you’re new to my site- and are wondering why the nest pic? Enter  “Even here” into my search bar…. you’ll find the stories of how God has shown himself  in nests….

**note: I use the term evil — not as a moral judgment- but to represent all that can break people and create fear and acts like SandyHook… – abuse, mental illness, sin, evil…

“Mom, why is?……”

It happens soon after children start talking. It’s an important part of their development. I call it: “The Question Phase.” (I’m extremely creative like that.  And , I am currently too lazy to Google the appropriate term and too addle brained to remember it. I’m lucky to remember my cell # at this point. ) Anyway- During this phase a child’s only known method of punctuation is: the question mark.

“Why is?  Why does?  What if? When will? Who is? What is? How does? ” The questions pour out with every breath.

Some of the questions are cute… some are awkward. (Noticing the differences between boys and girls often coincides with this phase, thus exponentially increasing parental fun.) Some are downright embarrassing. (Epic embarrasing question upon walking accidentally walking into my backside: ” Mom? Why is your butt so boinky?” )

Fortunately- most are questions parents can easily answer. (Even if Google-fu is involved. Confession: I’m a Google Ninja. The answer to the boinky-butt question? Cupcakes. The end.) And- while the constant drip of questions can be as annoying as a leaky faucet- it can also make a parent feel absolutely brilliant. I admit it: knowing the answers to my kid’s questions makes me feel like a Mommy-Einstein.

At least, it used to.

Until, I stopped being able to answer them.

No- I didn’t suffer a massive brain injury (unless brain farts count as massive brain injury. But, I doubt they do.If so- there would be a lot of middle aged people on disability. Justsayin.) Nor, am I suffering from early onset- well…anything. The truth is-as my kids have matured-(My oldest two are 20 and almost 23)  so have their questions. What used to be simply answered with a quick and sure reply- are now often answered with “I don’t know.” And: “What do you think?”

We now often share the same questions. Questions that can’t be answered easily.  BIG questions.  Questions about: pain, suffering, morality, politics, Old earth, Young Earth, (Middle Earth?) God, Grace,  whether Twinkies will cease to exist and how long the current supply will last-and whether the Mayan’s should have been able to predict their own demise if they knew the world was going to end in 2012.

The truth is: I miss being the go-to for info. I miss having all the answers. Instead of feeling like Mommy-Einstein I feel stupid. and, as my kids ask the same questions I do- I worry about the answers they come up with and the discomfort they will feel when there isn’t a clear answer. But- I’m learning to enjoy the adult- child intimacy and wonder of shared questions.

That is- I enjoy it when I don’t feel afraid. When I was the go-to person- I knew what kind of answers they’d receive. (The right ones- duh.Like every other mom- I’m always right. Of course.) But, now? The truth is- I have less control. I used to be a fact-checker for their lives… and now they do their own fact checking. What if they are: WRONG? (We shall refrain from thinking about all the times I was wrong in answering their questions…. sorry about that- guys.)

This morning, as I prayed about questions and answers and kids…… I found myself feeling sorry. Sorry that I don’t have all the answers. Sorry that I am so inept and limited. Basically- sorry that I don’t know everything.

Which is about the time I remembered- I’m not supposed to.

Every phase of parenting has it’s own challenges of trust- in this phase it’s trusting that God becomes the Go-to for their questions- as He is mine.

And- that where there are no answers found- faith will bridge the gap.

As it should.

Isaiah 55

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Dear Lord- I don’t have all the answers to my [adult] childrens’ questions- the truth is- i don’t have all the answers to my own questions. Help us to always turn to you for answers and help us to turn over to you the unanswered.. in faith and trust. Your ways are not ours- your thoughts are above ours- as it should be. I love you lord- thank you for the incredible children you’ve blessed us with- and thank you for the work you are and will continue to do in each of them- amen

Are you in the “Question phase?” Tell me the questions your kids are currently asking…. I love the way kids think! If you’re in the- sharing questions phase of mothering- how does it make you feel? What are you doing about it? I find myself praying more- this is a good thing;)

“If I see any more of _________’s chest (Okay, I may have said boobs) I’ll scream. When did hooch become prime-time appropriate?” Is what came out of my mouth.

However, I swear, that in my mind- it sounded a lot more like: “Modesty is a virtue that we value, even when others don’t. Please turn the channel.”

I don’t want to admit that in my twitter feed, I posted something even more obnoxious, but funny. Because- you know- funny makes the mean,  acceptable, right?

Maybe not. Unless you’re Simon Cowell. Which, at least at last check, I’m not. Although I do like black t-shirts. (Admittedly, Simon may be a sweetheart in real life- but his TV personna is known for his curtness and trademark-snark- so for the rest of this piece, I’ll knowingly be playing hypocrite by using him as an example of humorous-mean-ness. Which could be bullying. But I don’t think he minds. Hey- at least I’m honest.)

Anyway- I thought I was making a humorous point…..But later- I heard my child (10) refer to someone else as “looking like a hooch.” I didn’t have to ASK where he’d learned it-  I know where: from me.  Which  itself, is a parenting fail of epic proportions. (Way to teach your child to disrespect others, Tracey. You Go! Not.)

This morning the news is buzzing about a news anchor who confronts a bullying emailer who commented on her weight in a mean, critical, Simon-like way. A couple of weeks ago I heard about a girl who lives in my state who’d been elected to homecoming court as a prank– and has been a constant target of bullying.I immediately “liked” her facebook page and if it was’t creeper-like I’d have totally taken that kid out to lunch, because-

My heart goes out to them both. (It helps that the news anchor probably wears the same size as I.) I keep thinking: “What’s wrong with people? Why are people so mean? This bullying thing has got to stop.”

Yup. The very same heart that sits in my comfy spot on the couch, calling women hooches and tweeting about their cleavage like a 10th grade bully. The same momma heart that taught her son it’s okay to call women hooches- by doing it. Ouch. (more…)

“Mom, I just want you to know- the lecture today is stuff I already know- and I could miss class but I’m going.” 

“Okay- I know it’s lame- but sometimes you gotta sit through stuff you already know- cause it’s the right thing.”

“Love you- drive careful.”

And he did. But you can only be so careful when someone stops in the middle of the freeway instead of merging. Which is when you get the call every mother of driving age kids dreads:

“Mom? I’m okay,everyone’s okay, but I had an accident.”

Your heart stops. (Not forever- it just feels like it.) “What about the other people?” (Yes he just told you everyone is okay- but you ask anyway. You have to. ) Then-you don’t believe that he’s actually: Okay. So you ask again: “Are you sure you’re okay?” “Where are you?”  Then you ask a string of stupid questions that you can’t remember later. (I could make some up, but whatever lame thing you’re thinking I may of asked? I did. Probably twice.)

“We’ll be right there.”

And you grab your jacket, purse and shoes. If you are as vain as I am you also grab a hat because these things never happen when you are appropriately dressed, made up and have your hair done. You don’t bother with things like: bras, socks or weather appropriate clothing. It’s a come as you are type thing. All you can think is: “Must see kid’s face: NOW.”  Because that, is of course-how mom’s know if a kid is really okay.

If your husband is home, you then pace, stomp your feet and call to him (may 14 times in 3 minutes) : “I’m leaving, are you coming or not?”

Apparently, Dad’s may want to change out of their star wars pajama pants in order to deal with things like accidents, police officers, tow trucks and collision shops. I don’t know why.

After maybe the 15th yell up the stairs and then going up to hurry the poor man along- you may realize that you are a bit of a basket case and that it may be better for the sane human wearing pants to go to the accident scene. Go with that gut instinct.

Of course- you will then text and call every 13.2 seconds because you will want to know all the details AS THEY HAPPEN. Things like: the overall attitude of the officer,  (doesn’t matter- you won’t like it regardless of the fault- or details.) the look on the face of the other driver and the names/ ages of their children- even if they aren’t in the car- and whether or not you know the other people involved. (You kind of hope you do and don’t at the same time. If you know them- they may handle it better- or worse. it’s a 50/50 shot.)  You will also want to know again: IS HE REALLY OKAY?

At some point you will remember that you have other children. They will probably have to be somewhere in 12 minutes. You get dressed in actual clothes- checking your phone for missed calls and texts between articles of clothing. This “child” will most likely need to drive, because of course- he’s taking his road test on Saturday.  You need to let him. You will not want to.

Then you will most likely have to drive by the accident scene. Which is when the tears well up in your eyes and you realize: how bad it could have been. This is a freeway. That is your kid. He could have…..yeh. you get the idea.

Blink. a lot. Don’t let the tears start. You have to function. Say something stupid. Keep going. (Told you the kid should drive.)

When you get to the ATM for cash for the scantron for college boy-do not be overly alarmed if you cannot remember your PIN number.

Actually- do not be overly concerned if you screw it up so many times that the bank locks you out of your account and your card is declined at the college bookstore. Use the other card. Laugh- because- really? it figures and you’re human. Buy the Chem book that costs more than your first 3 credit class in college. (Slight exaggeration- but only slight.) Also: considers stop using your debit card for everything and start carrying cash. You don’t need a PIN for cash. Justsayin.’

You will want to take care of this problem. You will want to fix it. You will want to make the calls, set up the appointments, explain to the officer, blame the other driver.

You can’t. Well, you could, but you’d be missing out on one of those stupid opportunities- you know- where you walk THROUGH something with your kid and show them how to handle it instead of handling it for them. Yeah- I hate those. It’s hard.

But it’s even harder to have never let them learn to walk on their own.

Look at my blog header- see the tree-trunk man legs all the way to the right? Picture me trying to carry around that college kid.  My neurologist would not approve.

Today was a lot like the day he learned to ride his bike….. we held onto the handle bars and seat just enough to keep him upright- then we let him go. And he did it. Even though this time- it’s not something either of us ever wanted him to have to do.

He can do this, So can I.

And- if someday you get “that” call- you will be able to- too.  And I pray that the oucome will be like ours- that everyone is really okay.

Cars can be replaced. Kids cannot. I am so thankful the irreplaceable one is fine. (And the the other is insured:)

It was a long day. For everyone.  But we made it.

Confession- I wasn’t “okay” until I actually saw his face. Not until I hugged his giant man-boy neck. It was hours after “the event’. LOOONG DAY.

But- we weren’t alone. My always traveling husband- was home. (Good thing.) My kid is okay. Insurance will cover the problem. And now I know what it feels like to get “that” call.

God was present- even here.

Good thing- too- because I was: a mess. I’m better now. (well- better- is relative- we’re talking ME here. so yeah. I’m just normal crazy today.)

So- have you been here? Do you have a driving kid? Any accidents? How was it? What did you do? What didn’t you do? What would you do differently next time?  Comment away……

PS- Mom? You know when you got “that” call? I’m still sorry about that. And I love you. – signed a mom- who was also a kid- (funny how that works)

PPS- The topper of the day? After everyone was home- youngest rode his bike to a friends….. and flipped it. Yes- he hit his head. No, he wasn’t wearing a helmet. Yes- there was a hospital visit and a slight concussion. No- mothering never stops.

Neither do moms- we just- keep swimming.

The whimpering, shaking cry was not the typical “I didn’t get to pick the game we play and my feelings are hurt, or the “Everybody hates me. I have no friends” Kind of cries I’ve come to expect midsummer. This was a “I am in mortal fear.” Type of cry. And I don’t mean mortal fear of grounding. I mean- my youngest was crying like someone had threatened his life. And he believed it.

To say he was hysterical is an understatement. His words flowed out like an avalanche. They picked up speed and lost organization as they flowed. “”****y’s Dad.” (Name with held to protect the not so innocent- but still cared for.) Was the only thing I could make out. (That whole- Mom’s always know what their kids are saying, thing?  Total lie. )

Fortunately, I had an interpreter. Unfortunately- he was almost as hysterical as the emotional  avalanche in Nike’s. My oldest. Who at 22, is usually pretty much not hysterical. My interpreter told  me how he’d overheard a parent (male- 6’4″) screaming at and threatening (a veiled threat- but to a child- a threat- all the same.) my youngest. The interpreter suggested that he’d  go out and “take care of” the adult.  I didn’t think this would help the situation.

Once my youngest heard his brother lay the ground work- of the story-he gathered his thoughts into (mostly) sentences and filled me in.  He was shaking and crying. He also told me he  had to change his pants- before telling me the rest- because he was so scared he’d wet them. (He’d not had an accident since pull-ups- he seriously thought this dad was going to hurt him. And he was scared to death.)

The bottom line- The neighborhood kids had done  what kids do- they decided that one kid would be left out of a game. (To make life more interesting- or to shoot for a reality show based on our neighborhood- or just because kids can be mean.) The child went home upset- and the parent came out furious.

What followed could have been the pilot episode of “Real Momma Bears of the Cul De Sac.”

As my guys told me what happened- I got more and more angry. It wasn’t just emotional- it was primal. I wanted to hurt that man. At least- I wanted to scare him so bad he wet HIS pants- but- at 5’4″ I knew I didn’t have much a chance at that. I considered taking my oldest up on his suggestion. But, I was pretty sure the police would end up involved- and that couldn’t go well for a college kid- even if he was provoked and protecting his baby brother.Besides- honestly?  I wanted to be the one to take this guy on.

I marched across the street and rang the doorbell. (more…)

“Ding….” The “dong” of the doorbell was immediately drowned out by my barking dogs. I expected to find yet another door to door salesman. (It’s that time of year, isn’t it?) Instead I found a neighborhood rescue crew coming to tell me there had been an “incident” and my youngest needed me. (Yes- they said: “incident.”Our neighborhood kids are ALL weird. Including mine. My heart started to race at “mommy marathon pace.”

“Is he hurt?  Is there blood or is he upset?” I peppered them with questions, as I walked out, without bothering to grab shoes. “He’s sad.” My heart rate slowed down a notch. As a mom of 3 boys who’s made more trips to the ER for stitches than I can count, “sad” is preferred to “blood.”

My relief was short lived. I found my youngest huddled in the bushes next to the neighbors house, crying hysterically. “What’s wrong?”  I asked- looking for blood- just in case. Between gasps and sobs and from under a waterfall of tears- he said: “I did the worst thing ever, and I don’t want to tell you.”

My mind raced: “What did he do? Will the police  be involved? Is someone else bleeding?”  I looked around. Everyone else seemed fine and accounted for. There were no dead bodies or weapons visible.. No blood. Everyone had their clothes on. (Hey- we moms worry. What can I say?)

I took a deep breath and said “No matter what it is, I love you. And we’ll get through it. Let’s go talk about it.” I tried not to show the panic I felt. Honestly? I wasn’t sure- that no matter what it was- we could get through it. I mean- I knew HE could.. but sometimes I’m just a basket case- and I screw up. I over react- or under react. It’s like I sometimes parent from a pendulum- swinging from one extreme to another. Something told me this was a time to parent from stable ground.

I threw up a desperate mom prayer: “Lord Jesus, I don’t know what’s up- but you do. Please God help me-to help him, and not wreck him. Amen.”

After a few minutes of tears he spilled the beans: “Mom, I did the worst thing ever.” My heart dropped to my feet. “What baby?  It’s ok. (Yeah, I said it was ok- even though I was afraid- it may not be.) “I called my self an effin- idiot.” He said it with more repentance, humiliation and fear than the thief on the cross. I tried not to laugh. Not because I thought it was funny- (it wast) But, because I was so relieved. The police would probably not need to be involved. Whew.

“Did you SAY the “f’ word- or “effin” I asked. (Why?  I have no clue. Just seemed like I needed to know.I mean- saying “effin” is not as bad as actually saying “f-ing- right? Hello-my legalist roots are showing here. )  “I said it.” He admitted. His eyes were still full of fear. I could tell there was something else- too….”I love you. What else happened? Is something else wrong?” Then- he poured out his heart- the “come backs gone bad” that they’d been caught up in… and then- he said he’d done something else. The VERY worst thing ever.

“I told “T (name withheld to protect the somewhat innocent:P)  to go to h***. But, but,  I didn’t mean it!  I feel so bad! It was the worst thing ever. Mom- I sinned.” His tears continued. He was crushed. Honestly?  I was relieved. While it wasn’t a stellar moment-it’s not language I want my kid using- even when pushed and angry- it was far from the “worst thing ever.”We talked and prayed and cuddled on the couch. Later (on his own) he apologized to his friend- and all is now well. (As well as it is at the end of July- when these kids ned to GO BACK to SCHOOL- anyway.:P)

But later, I started to worry- “If he thinks that was some horrid unforgivable sin..(which he made clear he did.)  have I made to big an issue out of it? I mean- the bible talks more about ignoring the poor and pride than it does about language and swearing…..I know I am the queen of judgmentalism.. and language is something that bugs me.. so maybe I’m communicating things out of balance……..But…..then again…his sensitivity should kind of be appreciated – I mean we SHOULD feel bad when we sin… shouldn’t we?  — is this how God wants us to feel? But something about that just felt wrong. When I walked up to that scene- I saw my child. The child I love. No matter WHAT he’d done. I knew there was forgiveness for whatever he’d done. Even if it was the “very worst thing ever.” Not just forgiveness from me- and his friends-but from God.

I was afraid- but I knew the truth- he is loved and was already forgiven. There is nothing he could do that would change that. Nothing.

As I sat thinking about all these things- the scene of him huddled in the bushes crying (hysterically) about how he’d done the worst thing ever- and didn’t want to tell me- replayed in my mind over and over.

I’ve been there. I’ve felt like the worst sinner ever. I’ve done things I wish I could take back. Things I know were wrong. I’ve huddled in prayer ashamed to admit my sin… and found nothing but love and forgiveness when I finally “spilled it.”

I wonder if God feels the same as I did, every time he finds me huddled in hysterical tears (or pouting and furious with myself) because I’ve blown it again……I wonder if he’s relieved when I finally spill it.. I mean- he already KNEW what I’d done anyway…. and was ALREADY- ready to forgive me— wasn’t he?

Yeah….I think- he probably does. He’s kind of promised it….

Romans 8: 37-39

 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Dear Lord- I thank you for your grace that covers all my sin. Thank you for loving and forgiving me even when I’ve done the “very worst thing.” Help me to remember that there is nothing that can separate me from your love. Help me as I parent to always extend grace- even when there are consequences to behaviors. Help me Lord- to keep your priorities and not get wrapped up in my own issues.. and turn them into “the very worst thing.” Give me your eyes to see and your heart to love—- thank you lord- amen. 

I admit it- I suffer from PTRS Post traumatic report card syndrome.

I think it started in 3rd grade.  My deep and abiding fear and hatred of report cards, I mean. I’m not sure– they all start to run together into one huge NOT SATISFACTORY heap of the same:  “Tracey talks too much” , “Tracey doesn’t complete her work on time” “Tracey should spend more time working and less time socializing, in class.” , “Tracey needs to make more of an effort in class.”

While I’ve always LOVED learning– I was one of those people who breathed a deep sigh of relief when I finished school. NO MORE REPORT CARDS.

And then?  I had a kid. (more…)

“I’m thankful for my family, my neighborhood, my friends and I’m even thankful for -insert name of child bullying my boy here,- even if he’s being a bully right now.”  Noah S. 8 yrs old.

I wasn’t sure how to respond. My brain sifted through his words in an attempt to analyze,  Was he expressing some sick co-dependant relationship issues? Was he working the bully thing for attention, and loving it? No.. he’s doesn’t seem thankful for being bullied…. He’s had several meetings with the principal to confront and problem solve the issues and I’ve been driving him to and from school to minimize his contact with the bully in question. He doesn’t like it. But, I had to be sure…

“Are you saying you’re glad he’s been bullying you?”

“No, I’m just glad that God made him and that he was my friend. Maybe, he will be again.”

He’s hopeful that the child will give up his bullying ways, and will again, become a friend. He sees the good parts of the child in addition to the difficult. We talked about how sometimes people just don’t click.. kind of like legos and other building blocks.. that you don’t always fit together as friends…and that’s ok. (I didn’t want him to get his hopes up about being friends with the bully….) He remained hopeful and thankful.

At which point I realized:

I wish I were more like Noah.

My response to being bullied…or aggravated by someone else is NOT to be thankful for the person. It’s more likely to be defensive, and to insulate myself from them. I may even give others a “warning” about their bullying ways and complain to God about their mere existence…I wish they’d be banished from my life.

I’ve ever been thankful.

I want to be like Noah when I grow up. Probably cause he’s so much like Jesus….

“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” – Jesus of Nazareth, as recorded in Matthew 5:44 (NIV translation)

Dear Jesus.. during this thanksgiving time I pray that you’d stretch and grow my thankfulness.. let it include the things and people I struggle to be thankful for. And Lord- I pray that you’d bring peace and your love into this relationship that Noah’s struggling with.. I love you lord, amen.

*** Also- for those who may worry- Noah’s “bullying experience” is pretty minimal in the scope of bullying.. he and another boy are just not getting along…lots of teasing and picking at him but nothing out of the norm for boys.