Not today Satan



Today is technically Mother's Day, 2018.  Technically, I say because holidays around Waltersville aren't always the ones on the calendar.  One of the first things a new fire-wife will learn as she enters into this career with her husband, is that holidays are celebrated according to fire department calendars, not traditional calendars.  Santa has to come early some years, late for others.  Birthday parties happen when they can, and especially when the kids are younger, mostly when daddy can be there to watch his kiddo celebrate.  And today, Mothers Day, around here anyway, is just another day like the rest..  I got up, went to church, and came home to unload the dishwasher, cook some chicken strips and fries for the boys as they basically ignored me and moaned about how hungry they are.  Same old, same old. 

But the true celebration is in the details,  Kid 1 gave a little social media shout out to his Mama that I heard about through the grapevine.  Kid 2 wrote me a heartfelt and very sweet letter that he snuck into my room last night and left for me.  And Kid 3 sent me a Happy Mothers Day text while I was out and about earlier this morning.  Then he gave me some of his famous Kid 3 hugs that I love more than almost anything.  No, make that more than every anything.  And a couple of weeks ago when we had the chance to have the whole family together and we went out to lunch at the Arboretum, I actually declared that to be  my early Mothers Day celebration.  Gotta party when you can, right? 

And then this:  a screenshot from Fireman Dave who obviously sat around the station on this fine day and read his Bible.  Good for you, Fireman Dave.  But he sent me this in between his saving of the world, his watching of a new TV crime drama, and studies in Biblical perspectives on motherhood.  



So then I went and put on my, "This is the best day ever" sweater and took a nap.  

And I guess my final and most important thoughts on this subject are this....  me being the biggest, meanest scroogiest of them all at Christmas, and hater of commercially forced Valentine love - my hope is that I have raised boys that know the importance and value of giving and sharing and appreciating the people they love every day of the year - without having to be reminded by Hallmark or having to condense thankfulness and emotion into one 24 hour period.  I think I have.  

Like I told Kid 2 today, I am the luckiest mom in the world when my kids come and in and tuck me in to bed at night - now that they can outlast me by hours.  I am the luckiest mom in the world when they sit with me on the couch and watch TV, or come into my room and ask about the book I'm reading and tell me about something in their days.  That is mothers day at its finest to me, and I'll not only take it, but I'll keep it. 

Now, onward and upward....

We had this really great wicker chair that I had on our front porch for a few years.  One of my finest and proudest side of the road, big trash finds that I fixed up and called my own.  Then about a month ago the big trash fairy dropped an outdoor love-seat and matching chairs out onto the curb a few blocks down and I grabbed the love-seat, thinking I had the chair part taken care of and wanting to leave plenty of treasure for the other hunters in the hood.  So I put the love-seat on the front porch for a while till I decided that it was causing me undue stress in finding affordable cushions for it, and then I moved it away again.  So I asked Kid 3 to retrieve the original wicker chair from the back yard and move it back to the front for me.  Please and thank you.  And he is so sweet and did exactly that, but somehow missed the front porch part of my request and just cleaned it up and put it out on the curb for someone else to choose and enjoy.  So basically, long story, shortened..... I am in need of some awesome love-seat cushions at an affordable price point, and if you happen to see my chair around somewhere, tell it hello for me. 

And one day I forgot to pick up Kid 2 from school because I thought he was riding home with Kid 1.  Another case of Why do they let me be the Mom?  Anyway, I had Kid 3 at the dentist and was waiting for Kid 2 to arrive for his after school appointment, but only got texts that Kid 1 was nowhere to be found and has never come out of the school.  So by then I was mad and estimating how much a last minute dentist cancellation was gonna cost me.  I had earlier messaged Kid 1 to ask if he could bring his brother to his appointment - and I THOUGHT he said he had no football practice.  So I took that as a yes.  But after my adult temper tantrum, I looked back at the message and saw that he did not say that he had no practice - he said NO, he has practice and can't deliver the goods.  Anyway, by that time I was already driving around the back of the high school, slowly stalking the football practice field in search of my disappointing son, and may or may not had already text - yelled at him that if he didn't answer me immediately I would tweet to the world that Kid 1 Walters needs to call his mother.  

So basically I'm mean and jump to conclusions and mis-read clues and messages that mostly are just an inconvenience, but could in all actuality one day jeopardize life and limb or even an important meeting with a celebrity.  Or something.  I think he forgave me and filed it under the general category of I really need a new mother.  

And to sum it all up, I really just had a week that made me pull out another of  my themed sweaters - but this time, the one that reads, "Not Today Satan."  Fireman Dave laughs at me every time I pull that one out, but I told him he is laughing in the face of faith and basically, how dare he.  Sometimes I just need a little empowerment in times of weakness and if it's in the form of cute clothes, I'm digging it.  

And finally please let me give an update on my mom.  I took Kid 2 and Kid 3 to visit her a few days ago, and all was not well.  And I had to apologize to them for walking them right into the exact environment that I worked so hard to shield them from for the last years.  But maybe it was good for them to see that I had my reasons for putting them in the Mom Protection Program, but I know it was hard to watch.  But it appears that she will be moving into a memory care unit as soon as next week.  

And y'all, I feel like I am in the third, going on fourth round of grieving the loss of my mother.  I think the first was when I was so young and knew even then that I was missing the mom that was supposed to the guardian of my galaxy - a nod to Kid 2's fave movie right there.....  And then again when we reconciled over the birth of my kids and had a functional relationship for many years based on the shared love of these boys, I felt wholly the loss of her when I had to draw that hard line between what was expected and what was good for my family.  

Then she and I met again, by surprise, just a few weeks ago, and I rejoiced with the angels for the opportunity to meet her again, but cried for the loss of who she was - no matter who or what she was.  She didn't know me then.  She didn't know me a few days ago, and I'm not entirely certain she ever did.  And now I'm dreading the grief that is still ahead as we watch her make her final climb toward Heaven. 

And in honest to goodness terms, I think the whole thing just stinks.  And I think it's way unfair and a mean and ugly trick of the universe that has kept me wanting and waiting for a relationship with a mom that wanted the same from me.  Maybe that's what I'm grieving the most.  

Not a lot more to say on that one.  

You've come a long way baby



A few updates....

Rita the dog had a terrible time of it last week when I put her outside for the day because she scares the housekeeper ....  the housekeeper that visits me two times a month because I learned a long time ago that I can't be all things to all people all the time.  Basically, we can't all look good - it's either me or the house, and I choose me. 

Did I ever mention how afraid Miss Rita is of the wind?  So afraid that she tried to climb the fence to escape the wind..... silly dog... and she tore out a claw on her foot.  The patio and back fence looked like a battle scene from a war movie, but all turned out okay because of Fireman Dave and his emergency medical dog skills.  He treated her and casted her all up in bandages and one of the boys' mismatched socks that come out of the dryer with every load.  Because y'all, what can the man not do?

And an update on my library project for my favorite little African village - Y'all, basically I'm on hold till I come up with a better plan.  Seems that I have no lack of ability to collect children's books, and I think that I could figure out a fund raising plan to get them shipped, but the receiving end is presenting a problem.  My friend, Vornita, would happily accept the books and be a joyful community librarian -  however, she has to have a manageable way to get the books from the post office or other shipping location, all the way back to the village.  And here's how she does it when only picking up pen pal letters and small packages - ride a motorcycle taxi - a boda boda - to the nearest, larger taxi stand where she gets on a 15 passenger van for a long ride into Kampala.  Shop, go to the post office, take care of millions of other things then ride the van back to catch another boda boda home - where she carries everything in her lap back to the village while trying to not fall off the bike. 

So herein lies our problem - I could ship tons of smallish boxes of books in order to be size appropriate and avoid insane Ugandan import taxes upon receipt, but be very inconsiderate of shipping costs to make that happen.  Or find a shipping organization to handle it for me in bulk, but then figure out how to hire a heavy lifter day laborer to get the books from point A to point B.  Geez.  I just want the kids to read some good books and have the fun of being able to have unlimited access to checking out and borrowing like my kids grew up doing.  So for now I'm giving it some better thought.  Maybe a collection for my friend to buy some books at the local market - few but decent offerings, often Christian teaching titles, paper back, think grocery and dollar store style books - and be content in knowing we did some sort of good.

I thought I had found the perfect solution in a charitable organization that organizes book drives for African communities and allows anyone who needs service hours to organize their own library to be shipped to a needy place.  Sounded perfect until I called them and they go to some awesome places, but not Uganda.  I'll keep trying.  And if you already donated books, trust that they will arrive to their destination one way or another. 

And more about Uganda..... yesterday I had the fun opportunity of video chatting my girl, Loyce.  I wish I could've live taped it and shown it to you, but seriously, it was all I could do to handle talking and aiming the camera at the same time.  My kids rank me in the oldish to slightly geriatric category in the technology department and sigh in clear disgust disappointment every time I yell for one of them to come turn on the TV for me.  Especially Kid 2, though he tries to hide his ever so frustrated feelings behind a thin veil of compassion and a hug, he thinks his mama is ready for the modern technology nursing home, constantly reminding me of how things are different these days.  I believe he actually used the words, "back in the 1900's," today at lunch.  Um, back in the 1900's I was cute and smart and somewhat talented with a side of amazing.  If they only knew. 

And my video chat with Loyce was fun even though I had to work hard to hear her sweet voice over the sounds of a million curious little villagers and a very loud rooster.  And we talked about what we might want to do if we were visiting each other - me in Uganda, her in Big D.  I think if I was with her today in her hometown of Bulonde village,  I would have her show me the sights - her water well up close and in person and then I'd find out a 13 year old girl is stronger than me when we tried to carry our 20 liter jerry cans full of water back to the house.  Then we'd hang out with her sisters and her mom and I'd tell her mama what a good job she is doing raising all these lovelies.  Then I'd probably get all sorts of embarrassed as I tried to help cook over a coal stove like she does every day and give up and invite her back to my place where we would order in Uber Eats Africa.  And if she was here, I would spoil her like nobody's business - in so many fun ways, but remembering that my ways are not hers, and that she is happy with her life the way it is.  I've had to learn that over time - that I can't change their way of life.  I can't fix the economy, and I can't assume that she misses things that she has never known.  I can only share her contentment and happiness at having what she needs while sprinkling her with a few surprises.   

Our talk was special to me, though much of what I said was lost in translation due to my not so subtle Texas twang.  Remember I told you that she speaks 2 exotic languages, and her third language, limited, yet very proper English?  Well she does.  And I speak Texan.   But we made it through just fine and had a sweet time of it.  I asked her if she likes to read her Bible and she says yes, a little, but mostly enjoys the part about when God created some things.  Yes ma'am that part is so good, but darling, it gets even better... 

So I asked her to learn Proverbs 31:25.  She is clothed in strength and dignity, she laughs without fear of the future.  Y'all, one thing I've learned about Loyce in our time together is that she is full to the top of kind and sweet and loving, but that she is meek of spirit in so many ways.  She looks to her best friend and her sisters for guidance and approval, and she waits to register her actions and responses based on what is expected.  I am praying for this young girl the gift of confidence, and I am working in each correspondence to teach her that she is fearfully and wonderfully made.  That she is completely clothed in the strength the dignity of the God that made her and loves her as his own. 

Then I asked her to write to me something that she would like for me to learn.  Seriously, no promises, but I can try for the sake of love and friendship.  I wish I could upload this video for you, but you can click HERE to see the follow up video I received a bit after our conversation.  This is Loyce reading and soaking into her already sweet heart, the promise of the verse we talked about yesterday. 

Before we ended our conversation, she got to meet Kid 3 and Rita the dog - 2 of my other favorite people.  And we ended with kisses blown from American all the way to Uganda and back.  Who knew blowing kisses was a world wide love language?  Turns out it is. 



And today this happened.  We went to the Arboretum after church and had all three of my sweet babies with me.  We were in the elevator to the parking garage with a tired mom of two little boys who thought they remembered which level the car was parked on.  They didn't, but I totally get it.  I'm forever trying to get into the wrong silver car in packed parking lots.  And the mom was apologetic and asking if Fireman Dave and I have kids..... so I gave her the Vanna White Wheel of Fortune hand sweep across my 3 handsomes standing quietly in the elevator with us - and she was, shall I say, shocked that the three grown "men" in the elevator were indeed our own version of littles. 

I've noticed that about moms of young kids - I remember doing it myself back when - that big kids seem SO BIG and SO GROWN UP, and SO FAR DOWN the ROAD.  Until day by day, they morph and change and become on the outside, as my friend Loyce would say, big people - but on the inside they remain very much your babies.  And yes, I still call each of mine, baby, and pumpkin head and anything and everything else that drips of love and affection.  I plan to keep it up till we're all too old to know each other anymore. 

A few random kids and I had to have some serious parent to son talks this last week.  And I'm talking the  no nonsense, hide your eyes from embarrassment if you want to, kinds of talks.  But the kinds of talks that I am committed to having with my boys to make sure I can deliver them safely to their Godly ordained life destinations.  Or something like that.  Really I just hope to deliver them safely to  adulthood with the ability to live both independently and responsibly, and I'll consider that a prize of this life. 

So we talked about sex and the consequences of.  About sex and the price thereof, and what all of those choices look like from the other side of the teenage years.  We talked about decisions regarding the crap content we fill up our minds with each day via music and TV and social media - and how all brain roads lead directly to the heart and have even bigger prices to pay on that end.  And in plain Kristi/Mom talk, if something you are listening to or viewing or reading or whatever the h-e-double hockey sticks you are doing - contains lyrics, words, or a  script that you can't read out loud in front of me, then it's probably something you shouldn't be dabbling in.  And yes, Kid 2... when that little voice is nagging you to text your mother and ask when she might be home from running Kid 3 to his friend's house so she won't have to listen the that foul language movie you chose on Netflix - then you can be assured that the little voice is pretty much your body's alarm system that something is totally messed up in this situation.  Danger, Will Robinson...... abort mission. 


then and now.....





But then things like this  roll around  - and I can look back at all that has happened and can still happen and call it good.  Much like God did with his own creation, but on a much smaller scale.  Here is a before and after picture at the Dallas Arboretum, almost 17 years ago with Kid 1 with me and Kid 2 on the way. 

Man, we were both babies back then,....  but as the old cigarette ads of my youth claimed, You've come a long way, baby.  Kids 1, 2 and 3, we all have.  Fireman Dave included, of course, but the sentence flowed much smoother written like this.... 

And finally, last weekend I actually had a really tough time of being me when the whole family had things to do and places to go  - except for me.  And then it rained and darn if the the lonely didn't show up -  and I just had a bit of a struggle like no other, and finally ended up starting a new Netflix show and letting the troubles of others replace those of my own.

Y'all know that about me, right?  I'm all good when everything's busy and loud and plans are swirling about... but leave me alone for too long and the dark side appears out of nowhere like that rare eclipse we had around here not too long ago.  But I muddled through, I hung out at the fire station and bothered the guys and ate their food, and basically moved one foot in front of the other till I got to a better Kristi place. 

I've had to learn that sometimes times like this happen, and that 9 times out of 10, these times pass on by to be replaced with something far more favorable and productive. 

All in all, I'm going to channel my inner God voice on it all and call it good. 

surprise births - and surprise family reunions in my driveway


I had the nicest conversation with a woman yesterday. We talked about people we know in common, places we had lived, and for how long.  We talked about volunteering for our kids' school events and activities and why it makes a difference in their educations.  And we talked about our houses, and how she feels like she's been to mine before.

We talked about how her mother had an antique, red pie safe and I told her that I have one, too, in my kitchen.  It was my grandmother's, and it's filled with old dishes and things from my mom, grandmother and sister.  Some things so old and been with me or them for so long I forget its story.

And we talked about our kids.  She asked me again and again how old mine are, and funny thing is that she has grand kids that are about that same age.  And when I told her the names of my kids, she said she has grand kids  with those same names. Small world. 

And I asked her if she knows me.  She said she did - that my name is Kristi and that she just saw me standing in the driveway as she was driving by and decided to stop and visit.   She told me that she has a daughter named Kristi.   But she didn't know it was me.

I knew this day would come sooner or later.  I just didn't know it would be at 1pm on a Wednesday afternoon,  pulling into my driveway, and watching a car pull in right behind us.  Sort of pinning us in - in a weird sort of driveway robbery sort of way - except that most hardened criminals don't drive little Kia wagons and carry little old lady passengers and home health care nurses along with them.

But there was that very funny scene in the movie, Raising Arizona, where Hi Mc Dunnough robs a convenience store when he runs out of diapers for the  kidnapped baby that he gave to his wife as a present  - and using that as my guide, I figure that really, almost anything can happen. 

But we had a lovely time visiting in my driveway, - talking non stop and catching up for what seemed like maybe an hour.  She knew my former piano teacher, almost all my elementary school teachers, and she recognized Fireman Dave immediately as the preacher's son - because he obviously still looks 12 years old in her mind, and was just invited over to be friends with my brother but chose me instead.  And trust that there's a life long story that goes with that one... but y'all, another day, please.

I haven't seen my mom in six years, except for one short visit to the hospital after she called and left a message on my phone saying that she had been kidnapped and was being held hostage and that all of everything was pretty much bad news - and thank heavens for caller ID because I could tell that she was at the hospital and not tied to a chair in a dark basement-like place that I've seen way too many times over the years with Fireman Dave and Kids 1-3 and their love of action adventure/spy movies.  Think mostly James Bond with a side of Mission Impossible.

I actually first heard from/about my mom about a month ago when this happened.  Here's Kid 1 and his Nana. 



The details don't matter all that much, I suppose, but I wrote about it here in case you missed it.   It would be impolite to tell everyone how old my mom is, and trust that if I live this forever long and someone dares to even think it okay to share that info via blog, conversation over afternoon tea, or even in the quietest of whispers a million miles away from my ancient old ears, I will hunt them down and put all my years of athletic training into practice to show them that I am still capable of shutting them down.  And I'll probably show up again later to toilet paper their yard under the cover of darkness.  But anyway, she's not young anymore in mind or body.

But it wasn't long ago that she was one of the youngest grandmothers I've ever known... the kind that liked to get out and drive on the icy roads after an ice storm.  The kind that would drive all the way to Wherever and Back because there was a sale on bras and because of course, they have a Baskin Robbins Ice Cream way out that way, too.   The kind that would take care of my three littles and take them to Mc Donalds', the donut store, and all those picnics in the park.  Yes, they remember.

But her mind was going years ago, and that's sort of what started the whole family feud.  I think Person A got confused over what was real or not, then told Person B about it and Person B happens to be insane.  And not in the dementia diagnosis usage of that word.  I'm talking about the kind of insane that made angry, threatening phone calls to my house again and again. The kind that accused and pointed in all the wrong directions, all while under the influence of something other than healthy foods and Jesus, and broke a relationship that was already hanging on by a thread.

And know for a fact that if I had the power to influence or change any of it even way back when, I would've done it.  But my health and safety and that of my kids had to come first.  And if it meant that me keeping my distance all this time never allowed me to defend myself against what would, I'm sure in the court of all that daytime TV I watched as a young person, be deemed as slander and slight and malice and just plain ugliness - it meant that I had time to heal.  And I had time and space to raise my kids in the values that I see as right and true for our family.

And over these last 6 years, I have walked through not only regret, but through panic and anxiety and a full on emotional tight rope, dealing with things from my childhood that had the nerve to creep up on me even as an adult.  And if I could've separated Person A from Person B and put them in separate rooms and held an intervention for each of them, cleansing their minds of the wrong ideas and their hearts of all the weirdness that came with being part of my family, I would've called in that priest from the Exorcist, and a whole host of super heroes to fight all the bad and restore law and order.  

My superhero of choice?  Thor.  Or maybe just that adorable actor that plays him even if he shows up without his tight leather suit and only those bulging biceps of steel.  I happen to have seen every Thor movie with Kid 2 because he's totally into all things superhero and we both agree that Thor represents them well with his strength, powers and wit.  And I just happen to think he has beautiful blue eyes plus some other things.  Anyway, now I'm all confused and feel like watching The Avengers.

And y'all, I thought our reunion would be under far different circumstances, and end up shedding some light on things like my misery, low self esteem, and life long inner conflict.  The things of my youth.    I thought it would be talk of why - why did you say this?  Why did you say that?  And do that and that and that.... that made me feel like the most unloved kid on the planet. 

But I was wrong.  My lady in the car.... my mother .... listened to me as I told her about how my mom baked the best things ever, how she always had muffins or cookies or something freshly baked for us after school.  And how my kids loved when their Nana baked the same things for them.  And we talked about how my mom worked hard and how I knew how nice the house was going to be when I came in from school and it smelled like Pine Sol.  I love a good Pine Sol clean to this very day.   And we talked about how I learned to volunteer at my kids' schools and be a leader in organizations like PTA and booster clubs because I watched my mom do it all the time.  And how proud I was to be the kid in the class whose mom was the one hosting the Christmas parties, the Valentine parties,....

And she laughed and said how she had more fun than the kids at those parties and carnivals when she used to volunteer at her kids' school ... and I told her that I know her kids are proud of her.  And how they know how much she did for them.  Now granted, intermingled into our conversation she would occasionally trash talk her own daughter Kristi.... and I would think to myself, Good Lord THAT Kristi sounds pretty awful and I bet she's out robbing banks or convincing old people to hand over their wallets right about now....

But maybe one of the most important things we talked about is how hard raising kids can be.  And I told her that at the end of the day, more often than I would like to admit, I have to humble myself to my boys and ask if I can start again.  And I told her that so far anyway, they've always said yes.  Just like when we go to God, day in and day out, admitting again that we didn't get it all quite right this time either... and may I please start again?  Y'all, he always says yes.

It was all a bit confusing.  Talking to her like I was catching up with a neighbor that I hadn't seen in a long time.  And talking to her, trying to tell her that I turned out pretty good, considering.  And trying to get hints of if she thinks so or not.  I may not ever really know, but I'll just put that on the list of almost everything else I don't know.  Right now I'm at about chapter 201 of Things I Don't Understand About Life.

But honestly, I felt no anger.  I teared up a few times trying to get a point or two across, but I think I did okay, given what I had to work with.  I remember being terrified of giving birth to Kid 1 and praying with all that I had for God to sneak up and surprise me when it was time.  I often suggested the grocery check out line as an option.  And y'all, as proof that God listens, I did indeed get surprised over 5 weeks early with that particular birth story.  And I think he knows me well enough by now to know that I am indeed strong, but that I don't really and fully accept that as my only choice, opting far too often for fear, worry and self doubt.  So he stages surprise births  - and surprise family reunions in my driveway.

And he gives opportunities to heal that I have prayed for a million times and then strength to get back up and share that healing with others.  I ended our conversation hugging my new, old friend, and telling her how nice it was to chat, and that her visit brought me joy.

How I feel today about it all is a little teary eyed.  A little torn and a little confused about all that we talked about.  I guess really just a whole mix of sad and relieved and mad about all the time that I've lost with her.   I'm predicting a fair amount of crying in my future, actually.  But it's a step forward.  

post script - no.  my mom was not driving a car.  My brother was driving and my mom didn't get out of the car.  She doesn't walk much more than a shuffle step.  But put that to music and it could be something wonderful... is what I'm thinking.  She has actually been placed on hospice, but knowing the women in my family, I'm not yet convinced that will stick.  God only knows, right?  Anyway, the brother part of the story still has some repairs to be made, but he offered his apologies for his portion, as is in anything - we all have a piece of the pie to share.  

But my prayer is for full healing - of disappointment, of hurt, of betrayals and inconsideration.  And if last Wednesday was any indication of the power of Godly surprises, I'm a bit on the excited side to see how far this goodness can travel.   
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