Thursday, February 16, 2017

Let Mama teach you some manners - a dramatic play by Kristi Walters



A quick run down of activities around the Walters house lately.....

This week was Valentines Day and we started it off with Kid 3 finding that he left his backpack outside in the rain all night - which was no big deal till we figured out that his school owned laptop computer was in it.  We spent the day in the drying process to see if we would be buying a broken laptop from the school district instead of Valentines candy.  

And Kid 2 left his baseball cleats outside in the rain.  Again, no big deal -  till he tried to dry them by sticking my hair dryer inside one of them and walking away.  If you can't imagine what that's like, turn your hairdryer on to high speed, hottest setting, then shove it into a tight, non-ventilated space.  Don't look at it for several minutes and see if you notice an odd smell. 

And we finally got the oven repaired.  But now the dishwasher is washing all by itself, and whenever it feels like it.  I'll deal with that one later.  Actually Fireman Dave repaired the oven because he can fix anything.  I say that to encourage him to try to fix the waterlogged laptop computer, if needed, when he gets home from the station tomorrow.  Three cheers for Fireman Dave trying to save us the price of a new computer. 

Last we spoke I left  you with the cliff hanger of will she or will she not write again about that unnumbered kid from the last post.... And did you figure out which kid I was talking about?  Uh huh, I thought so. 

Well, Y'all, let the suspense come to an end.   I like to call this post, Let Mama teach you some manners

But first let me tell you my new promise - my new method, my new commitment to mothering - sort of -  that I try to step back from the day to day decisions of the kids more and more.  That I try to trust that a 16 year old can make some common sense decisions on his own - and let him suffer the consequences of those if they aren't the best.  I say suffer the consequences  - hopefully they won't be awful or death defying, but it's better to find out now while he has the safety net of home and family and a mom that is just a phone call away if he gets himself stranded or otherwise needing a Plan B. 

And I came to this very mature decision after a week of trying to do it the complete opposite way.  Well, actually, I've been practicing the opposite way for a lifetime, but this week I heard myself complain about the unshaven face scruff and sloppy shorts one too many times and thought to myself, There has to be more to life than this.

So I'm willing to try it.  And I hope the best for all involved.

But last weekend.  Oh my gosh, last weekend went down in the Book of Motherhood as the day Kristi Walters lost her EVERYTHING in the driveway and lectured the two lovebirds on manners and other practical life skills.   I think it best to tell my story in dramatic play form for effect.  Imagine two wide eyed youngsters played by someone cute, but in an imperfect teenage sort of way.  Now imagine me being played by Marilyn Monroe, though a little tired looking and wearing stretchy pants.  This is EXACTLY what I looked like last Saturday when all hell broke loose......


The setting:  Marilyn driving the two teens to and from their events of the day.  Picking them up from the Dallas Museum of Art, our story begins.....

Act 1:  It's gettin a little weird in here, Y'all...... 

Me:  How was the museum?  Chatter, chatter small talk.......

Them:  ......................................

Me:  Did you eat?  Where did you eat?  What a nice day!  Chatter, chatter small talk some more.....

Them: ...................................

Me:  I'm gonna try one more time to make some ridiculous small talk for all of our benefit, but I'm about to give up and abort this mission in its entirety because you're making me a hundred different kinds of mad.  Blah Blah Blah is obviously what they heard.   

Eye the two lovebirds in the rear view mirror looking frightened of Me/Marilyn as I try to drag truth and assorted facts from their teenage bodies.  Notice that they make some sort of disgusted eye rolling motion,.... toy with the idea of killing them.  No not really.  Yes really.  No.  Not really. Toy with the idea of putting their sweet behinds out on the curb at the nearest stop and letting them see how much their love blossoms under stress. 

Them:.......................................

Me:............................................

Them:..........................................

Me:     ....................................until we arrived home. 

Act 2:  Mama Lost Her Bananas in the Driveway. 

The Setting:  parking the car and praying for all the mean words I'm considering to stay where they belong.  Sometimes prayer doesn't work as we would hope. 

Me:  So..... before we go in the house we need to talk.  No.  I need to talk and you will listen.  (Insert Kid 1 beating his disbelieving head against the car seat in anticipation of what he knows is about to happen.) 

You were rude.  Both of you.  You acted like you suddenly became deaf and mute the second you got into my car.  And I don't remember anything jumping in here and cutting off your tongues in our shared time together.  So first, let me remind you that I am not your damn taxi driver.  Second, here is how such a car ride should've gone.  

Kid 1 - this is when you would get in the car and say something like, Hi Mom, remember Princess Chatterbox from Homecoming?  And I would say, Of course I remember Miss Chatter-there - what a lovely dress you wore to the dance and I told everyone how sweet you were to bring me flowers.  And Miss Chatter,  this is the time when you would say something like, Thank you Mrs. Walters for letting Kid 1 spend the day with  me because I know there are so many other things he could've been doing to help you around the house.  Even if this is a total lie.


Then, I explain how I am a believer in second chances and how we will have such a second chance in exactly one hour when we get back in the car and have polite conversation on the way to our next stop - all three of us, if it is the last thing we ever do.   

Act 3:  Second Chances Aren't All They're Cracked Up To Be.  

Shortest third act in theater history.

Act 4:  Stand Back, .....Crazy Woman in the Freezer Aisle.    

Y'all, I'm just gonna summarize this one.  Later that night I went to Kroger, somehow ended up in the freezer section on my phone talking to Fireman Dave, at which point I put on my best Scarlett O'Hara impression of when she finds her strength after she lost everything to fire and war and desperation.  And she decides to replant and rebuild and declare that even if she has to eat potatoes the rest of her life, or something like that, tomorrow is another dayBasically, don't mess with me and Scarlett when we're hungry and mad, people.  And don't you dare walk down this freezer aisle at Kroger unless you want to be a part of the movement.  

Anyway, when I went to pay for my groceries, the kid bagging my stuff looked right in my fiery eyes and asked if I was going home now to cook, or to go to sleep.  Maybe he heard my story from when I was looking for frozen Stouffers crock pot meals a few rows away.  Maybe someone told on me.  Or maybe he saw straight into my very soul and recognized how tired I was of that day.  

I went home and chose sleep. 

post script:  The laptop computer is good.  In case you're one of Kid 3's teachers worrying about it.  I am also okay.  In case you were wondering.  Me, Marilyn and Scarlett  - we're all sorts of strong.    

Saturday, February 4, 2017

You get in trouble. With a capital T.


Here's what happens when you write a post about teen dating for a large, popular publication..... 

You get in trouble.  With a capital T.

Turns out that a post like that will get shared so many times that it'll land in the hands of your friend's teenage daughter who is in World History class with your son's girlfriend.  And your friend's daughter will lean over in class and point out to the girlfriend that the mom of said girlfriend's boyfriend has just talked about her all over the internet.  Then the girlfriend will text the boyfriend, aka, my son... and tell on me.  And tell him that he should be upset.  Or whatever.  Then he will be upset and call his dad to complain about it and the world and all it's peoples will spend a sucky weekend discussing how horrible a mother my kids have.  Holy Christmas y'all - I heard free speech was a thing.

That really happened.  No. Really.  And it was a bad weekend in Waltersville for me.  So I promised to never write about that particular kid again.  I actually think I yelled it via text.  I text yelled it.  Whether it will hold true has yet to be seen.  We Walters tend to make promises like, I promise to clean my room .... I promise to take out the trash.... I promise to act like you're not stupid, Mom.  But some things never come to pass.

I wrote a post about that same line of thought for the church blog here.  Feel free to give me your Facebook like.  That church crowd is a tough one.

But in the thick of things last week I wrote the following for myself.  Maybe you read it before I deleted it.  Maybe not.

"Here's what mothering is.....

It's hard.  And it's mean and it's lonely.  And it has moments of super highs when you see your sweet little ones asleep looking like angels and they're all silent and behaving...but also times of extreme lows when you realize that you've spent the last 16 years basing your entire existence on the outcome of their little lives - only to find out that you have mistakenly based your entire existence on the outcome of their lives.

And it comes with plenty of input, but little to no thanks.  And plenty of people who are right there with you, sometimes way too ready to point out all your missteps and mistakes.

And then there are those who like to ask things like, Did those boys spoil you on Mothers Day/your Birthday?  ......  to which I think to myself, No. No, they didn't. They forgot.  Or they went to a friend's house instead to have a cookout with the friend's mom.  Or that they said their nice words as instructed by their dad or a teacher.  Mostly they like to tell me that they don't have any socks or underwear or that I need to go to the grocery store. 

But mothers still try.  And we laugh sometimes at the ridiculousness of it all.  And we cry a lot over the ridiculousness of it all.  And we look everywhere to find someone who may get it.  Someone who may understand that it's lonely on top.  I mean lonely under all the weight of the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning, and the raising of actual people.

And sometimes it's just mean.  Sometimes I'm the mean one.  Sometimes other people are - even the kids.  Especially the kids, even if they didn't mean to or know it.

And I guess one of the biggest parts of mothering is trying to find your own place.  Whether that be for a few minutes alone in the bathroom when the kids are little, or out shopping - trying to fill your time with something when the kids are older and they don't really need you that much anymore.

Finding my own place brought about the birth of this blog.  But it comes to this.

Sometimes the wrong thing wins over what is right.  And sometimes the right thing that you tried to do forever just didn't make much difference.

And so, I'm trying to listen more.  More for my purpose, more to the needs of my family, my kids in particular.   Maybe I'll hear the divine voice of God telling me that I am woman, hear me roar.  And he may or may not whisper that he totally agrees with my theory that people in general are crazy. 

Or maybe I'll only hear my own voice calming my doubts that are so busy taking over the more rational parts of my brain.  Whatever.    Maybe my heart, soul, and mind will become suddenly all refreshed and beautifully tan.  Or maybe I'll find a new idea, an entirely new format or endeavor.  I'm not really sure. "


When I wrote these words, I was in sort of a funk and decided to let the blog fall apart out of spite for my pathetic couple days of existence.  But then I slept.  And I took time to walk away from the immediacy of having to respond to something that didn't need a response.  Yet.  And I decided that what I originally wrote wasn't all that bad.  And that it was as close to the truth about parenting as you'll ever hear a mom say.  So I'm okay with it.  I edited the whole I quit the blog and quit the world section.... Yep, that was in there.  But you know what?  I may be a quitter for a day or two, but then I remember who I am.  I am strong.  I am a survivor of loss and hurt and meanness of the meanest kind.  I am a survivor of so many trials and failures I can't even begin to count.  And I am a survivor of depression and other assorted mind games that the body uses to trick me into believing that I'm weak.

And I remembered that I'm a writer.  And a speaker of truthful words, no matter how many or few read them.  And then I decided that it's better to be known by God for what I can accomplish for his glory, than to be known by anyone else for things that caused me to forget my place in his kingdom.

post script - will I write about that particular Kid and and his girlfriend, Princess Chatterbox, ever again?  I'm undecided.  Stay Tuned.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

stop, drop and roll with it.....





So..... we had a smallish kitchen fire and I was blamed for it.  And at the same time, shamed by Kid 2 for making him be the one who mixed up the brownies and stuck them in the oven that went crazy. 

I know this picture doesn't quite do it justice... but here are the brownies after they were removed from the oven -  flaming -  and leaving us wondering why we weren't all suited up in our firefighter family gear.... Fireman Dave tossed them out into the ferns on the front porch, much like that time he had another smallish kitchen fire and went running through the house like he was finishing first place in a race - but in a race where you had to juggle flaming pans of grease while running really fast.





Anyway, I swear it was just the day before that he told me I almost caught my sweater on fire at the stove, and all he did was watch it happen and remind me to stop, drop and roll.  I still think he has plans to hire a cute nanny upon my demise.

But y'all, so much smoke filled the house that the smoke alarms went off and we had all the windows open forever, fans going, and angry people who didn't get to eat any brownies.  And the entire next day while I worked outside the home, Fireman Dave worked on smoke damage cleanup -  washing all the walls with vinegar water, and laundering every slipcover and curtain, until he got tired and quit then went to eat lunch with his brother.  They had barbecue.  The house is better, but still very much smells like someplace you don't really want to be.

But the good news came when husband texted me that I wasn't to blame for the blaze - because the night before it was basically a witch hunt around here - telling me I had pushed the broil button instead of the bake button and making Kid 2 hate me for getting him involved.  And making me worry ever the more about my mind slipping further and further out of reach.





But on clean up day when Fireman Dave tried to mask the smell  with an internet remedy of butter and cinnamon, heated in the oven on a piece of foil at 200 degrees, he proved my mind is as healthy as ever.  Well, actually he only proved that we need a new oven.  But imagine a pat of butter with a streak of orange fire reaching the sky  - and that, my loves is a picture of my worries disappearing.  Until this morning when I said a few questionable things in class....... 

So really this week we learned that we need a new oven, and that it is doubtful that Fireman Dave would save me if I catch my sweater on fire while cooking dinner. 

Once again I type the words, I didn't sleep well last night.  Or the night before.  Maybe that's why I say crazy and confusing things in the microphone at work.... but really, it affects everything I do.  I've been so worried about Kid 1 and his speeding bullet of a relationship with his lady love that I can't help but think I need a super hero on speed dial.  A super hero that runs to the rescue of teens about to make huge mistakes and regret them the rest of their lives. 

And I'm not saying either one of them are bad kids, alone or together, but I am saying that age 16 is too young to be thinking such serious thoughts of a relationship, all the while thinking less and less about his own plans for the future.  He's always been my one to have one really good friend.  One friend at a time, and he's either all in or all out.  This time, the friend is a young lady with designs on his future and a propensity to write lengthy love letters and draw cute hearts. 

To put it plainly, I'm worried.  I'm worried that all I've said and done has gone in one ear and out the other, or maybe it was never heard over the sounds of crunching potato chips.  I'm worried that he can only see today, and not even to the end.  I'm worried that he can only see to the next phone call or text, and is completely blind to opportunity and possibility.  Because it's really so very hard to explain to a kid that there is more than today.  And that today is a tiny spot on the map of his life, and how quickly and easily that tiny spot can change his forever course. 

I feel like I've spent a million years telling my boys that they were each created for a purpose that only he could fulfill.  A purpose and plan that God placed in their hearts and put them in charge of for their lifetimes.  And I can only hope that the whisper, the calling of their purpose and plan is louder than that of anything else that tries to drown it out.  Louder than school and friends and sports, and cell phones.  And louder than a young girlfriend who bases her entire existence on his love.  She deserves more, and so does he. 

So no, I didn't sleep last night.  And I worried.  And the house smelled like burned food.  I need to come to the point where I'm able to say that it's still all good.  Or that it will all eventually be good,  and that God can use anything and everything for our good, when we allow him to do it.  Or in fireman lingo?  ... stop, drop and roll with it......    And then place some faith in what I've invested and taught and trusted all this time as a mom.  Then I have to go to sleep and remind myself that the boys could be doing a whole lot of worse things that I can't even imagine.  

post script:  Now this is funny... maybe only to moms, but still.......

Kids 1, 2 and 4 were out somewhere of mystery, on bikes, ... and I got a phone call from my cousin that doesn't even live in town.  She lives about 2 hours away and hasn't seen me or the boys in forever.  She had bought something off Craigs List or Facebook Garage Sale or something and happened to be in our neighborhood and called to say that she just saw my crazy kids out and about.  Yes,.... of course I asked if they were being naughty or nice. 

But to think that this is a cousin that I never see, haven't seen in years, and that she happened upon three kids on bikes and recognized them as mine - Y'all.... this just proves that moms have eyes everywhere, and that God can  place people in the most unexpected places to keep an eye on our kiddos.  I love this.  And I need to place a whole lot more faith in it. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

 

Did you ever see the movie, Elephant Man?    I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being!  Which is exactly what I would like to tell every single person who sees me outside the gym and acts like it's the first time I've ever taken a shower.  

I'm obviously one inch shy of hideous at work.  

So this past week, as many times before over the years, I ran into some regulars from the gym, but outside in the real world.  This time at the post office. And I walked right past them and said a polite hello - in my cute maxi dress with adorable son by my side.   And it wasn't till I was leaving that they recognized me as... well, ME

Sometimes it's at the grocery store or out somewhere with my family.  And in those times and in real clothes, I'm almost always a stranger.  Incognito, with some painted on eyelashes.  And I even managed to catch a man... is my regular response when they step back and look all shocked that I'm, um... kinda okay. 

But truth be told, none of the messy work look even comes close to bothering me.  Because I love what I do.  And I think it shows.  I hope it shows.  And I hope it shines brighter than any sweat ever could. 

And I honestly think that I would rather be known for the person that I am - all the time - rather than the one represented by an outfit or a certain look.  But I have to ask myself if the qualities that I wish to be known for are

#1)  positive, encouraging and giving - albeit with a side of sarcasm that I couldn't stop even if I tried.  And...

 #2)  are they qualities that could and would be recognized in me no matter what, where or when

This afternoon I decided to write a little post about how I can't write a bigger post this week.  And I decided to write that post sitting here on a rainy afternoon in my pajamas.  Because I can't think of much that makes me happier than my pajamas.  But really because I can't compete with all the social media posts quoting the great lines of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  - Yes, I have a dream, but it's quite insignificant in comparison... and come to think of it, my sleepy time dreams last night were bordering on the weird and disturbing. 

And Lord help us all, I can't even come close to the media attention given to our future president and all the attention, for better or for worse, this week's events will bring.  I've taken to wearing my Me For President t-shirt just in case I need to stand in at the last minute. Y'all, I stand ready with a servant's heart.

But here's what I can give.  I can give a reminder of the hope that is in each one of us when we choose to look for it.  I can make mention of God's forever faithfulness even in the craziest of times.  And I can try my darndest to be an example of what I would like to see in the world. 

Or I can sit back and watch all of Facebook and Instagram try to make sense of it all this week by sharing other people's thoughts, opinions, and sideways derived knowledge.  I vote no on that option because - just no. 

I would rather ask this of you - and especially me, .... sometime this week, give of yourself.  Give your own words that encourage and dispel rumor and false truths.  Stop the ridiculous sharing of memes that are just.... ridiculous, and make you look not your very best.  Stop arguing.  Stop fanning the flames of doubt and anger that are everywhere already,  ready to ignite given the right conditions. 

In fact, just stop.  Stop long enough to ask if what you are about to write or speak or share is adding anything positive to someone's day.  Ask if the first person to hear your words would walk away with a smile and a loving heart because of what you gave them.  Then ask if you have something else of more value to give.  I like to think that I do most of the time, but when all else fails, you know what?  I write about my hair.  Or nothing at all.  I think that's a pretty good recipe to follow. 

Y'all, we are all given the same chance to change a life each day.  And we all start out with the same heart..... And I know that good + strong = a desire to spread joy rather than promoting ignorance and hate.  

This week I hope to be known as the girl who smiles a lot at work and who never leaves the house each morning before saying I love you to my people.  And my dog.  And may I go down in history this week as the blogger that said nice things.  Or said nothing at all.

 And that's about it.