And for that promise, I am thankful

So kid 1 had a friend over not long ago.... all day..... a friend that came with his own music.  That played non stop and before long it all started to sound alike to me.  Remember the episode of I Love Lucy where little Ricky was forever practicing the same beats on his drum and Lucy almost lost her mind?  It was pretty much like that.

And at one point as the same electro pop tune had gone on for at least an hour, and they sang along, I decided that I could either ask nicely for them to turn the volume down and embarrass my son.  Or I could just go on in there and start dancing and see how long they stick around.  And again, embarrass my son. 

And he will be glad to report to you that I actually did neither.  Because.  Just because.  For many  reasons actually. 

When I was teaching middle school, ages ago but not forgotten, I remember every year thinking how awful unpleasant the 8th grade boys were.  And not any kid in particular, but as a general species.  And how my classroom across the hall from the boys bathroom was a big battle of the sexes for me to fight every day.   And how it would just do the world a big favor if at that special time of life, every 14 year old boy could move to a deserted island and live like the savages that they are.  Like in Lord of the Flies. Where kids who had exposure to culture and learning right from wrong basically reverted to a primitive state and ate each other alive.  Or something like that. 

And with that long and drawn out intro... here is my real Thanksgiving post this year.    And not the usual list of things going altogether right.  Which, some are.  Thankfully.  Because God always keeps a hand on us when we feel like we're floating away.  And because in all honesty, I can't sit down and write a tell all post where everything is just peachy.  Because someday some searching heart is going to read this looking for hope in raising teens and find a big fat liar on the loose.  On the loose and on her computer screen acting like she knows how to do everything.  Which I don't.  Kinda like when I tried one time to make my husband's favorite lemon ice box pie and he hurt my feelings after a bite or two and said the crust was mushy.  Or whatever.  Living proof right there that I can't raise a teen or make a pie. 

And I really have no problem flying my giant flag of weakness for everyone to see.  Because when I wave that flag for help... read the words again from a few lines back,..... God always keeps a hand on us when we feel like we're floating away. 

Y'all, yesterday I parked myself in front of husband's fire station and had him meet me outside so I could cry and let someone other than me see the tears. Right then and there, staring parenthood in the face again,  .... and admitting that it just doesn't look like what I planned.

Because being the mom of a teenager trying to find his way either in or out of our bonds of love around here is making for some sad times for me.  Because for a mom that has put everything I know how into the last 14 years to grow a responsible, loving, caring, blooming - into - something - beautiful young man, sometimes it seems things aren't going as planned.

And things could be worse.  I know.  I really do know.  And there is my thankfulness.  Because we aren't dealing with secret lives or hidden behaviors or so many other things parents have to deal with so often.  I think we're mostly dealing with a young man and a family at a crossroads.  Crossing paths somewhere between finding yourself and losing yourself at the same time.  On the road to who you are becoming.

And there's that word again that I know I've used before.  Becoming.  And I guess at the same time -  so am I  - becoming all new as the terrain changes around here.  And I'm trying to figure out how to be a mom to a young man in transition.  Lost somewhere in space and time between being a boy and a young man.  

And I have to turn to grace for this one.  Grace for the tears that I cry as I miss the little boy that used to be mine.  And grace in an all new form as I learn to love the young man that he is becoming. And the beautiful gift of grace that I have the opportunity to make of this time of life what I choose.  Tears and all. 

Knowing that every tear clears the hurt and sadness from my heart, allowing God to erase my own vision of what being a mom is supposed to look like.  While waiting for all the pieces of a bigger plan to come together into the big reveal of a new person.  

 Corinthians 2:9 

But as Scripture says:
“No eye has seen,
    no ear has heard,
        and no mind has imagined
            the things that God has prepared
                for those who love him.”

And for that promise, I am thankful. 

Because my calendar clearly says I have two more weeks to prepare to be thankful

Thanksgiving is next week.  And I had no idea.  I thought it was still two weeks away till I was checking emails and my gym had sent a message about our holiday schedule next week.  And I thought them so very organized to be so ahead of the game.  Then at breakfast my husband said something about next week and I decided he must be wrong, too, because my calendar clearly says I have two more weeks to prepare to be thankful.  

And it snuck up on me because I'm not really one of those November, list everything I'm thankful for on Facebook, kinds of people. Though the list would certainly be long.  And wordy.  

But this week I am so truly thankful for my hairdresser who fixed me right up after a top secret hair disaster.  Top secret because I knew in my eyes,  my mirror and my heart that something up there had gone terribly awry.  Wrong.  Because it was the curse of pride..... when I broke every rule of beauty a couple of weeks ago and bragged out loud about how my new low lights were fabulous.  I just may have used the word fabulous but can't commit either way. 

But pride is wrong and it also apparently washes your new expensive hair color right down the drain and into a new shade of orange that you couldn't imagine till you stood under the fluorescent lights at JC Penney and stared at the dressing room mirror in shock.  

So in short, I was wrong. And I wrote a poem about it... chock full of despair.... but it doesn't rhyme.  It might qualify as a Haiku.  And I need to send this to my middle school English teacher who thought I couldn't do one of those.  Anyway...

Orange is the color of fall leaves.  
And pumpkins
Orange is the color of my favorite dress.
And now my hair.  
Misfortune is my name. 

So I called up the gal that did the color and when she kinda' snapped at me on the phone and asked what I wanted her to do about it in an unfriendly manner, I wondered if orange hair was better than the hands of an insulted hair dresser.  But I went in anyway, yesterday afternoon, and chose grace over insult.  And I chose flattery over complaint.  And we got along just fine.  And I won't say how it all turned out because I now know not to speak too soon, but I left  - not crying - on the way to buy some crazy expensive color safe shampoo.  And also some expensive UV filter hair spray to protect my corrected hair from the sun.  

And that is mostly why I had no idea that Thanksgiving is next week.  

Because I can't celebrate anything at all without the confidence boost of good hair.  

So today I started the holiday preparations which included vacumming the inside of the hall closet and deciding to list some of our excess junk on eBay for the low, low garage sale price of ... about what Thanksgiving dinner will probably cost me. 

But knowing we will all be busy and here and there for the upcoming days, if we miss each other, I want to say it today to make sure you know.  I am thankful for friends, family, and most of all the people who join me on here not because you have to.  But because you choose to share some of your valuable time with me.  I am humbled and honored all at the same time.  So much so that it is sending a glow right to my new hair and making it shine like the lights of a million low lighted suns.  

You do that for me.  Really. 

Parenting is like standing naked at the carwash


Parenting, I've decided, is like standing naked at the car wash with a blank stare of confusion all over your face. 

Because I think it says this in the Bible... there's a time to sow, a time to reap,.. a time to be naked and a time to... NOT.  

And honestly, when you set out for the car wash on any given day, today perhaps,  you didn't go there to be naked and exposed, right?  You went there for good things - a clean car, a fresh start, a new beginning of sorts.  Throw in a free vacuum and I'm a customer for life.  But then, let's say, your son sucks your dress into the car wash vacuum tube quicker than you can say Don't suck my dress up in that vacuum.  And you're left standing there half naked, not in your favorite cozy place, and being looked at with fear from the kid that is certain you're about to kill him.  Right there.  With your bare hands.  Or maybe with the vacuum tube once you get your dress out of it and hands free.

That happened.  Ask anyone because there was indeed an audience.  And had I known I was to perform a burlesque show I would've planned ahead and invested in some feathery type underthings for the occasion.  

This weekend was pretty much parenting hell week.  Kinda' like in college where the kids try to do mean things to you to make sure you really want to be a part of their group.  But nothing can compare to parenting teens, I say.  Absolutely NOTHING.   Because this was the 24 hours I have been worried about for the last 14 years.  All come to life.  With scary fangs.  

In a 24 hour period, 2 kids fought, 1 kid wished death upon another, one snuck something that had already been taken away from him, and then made his getaway on a bike.  And.... one kid lied.  To me.  Which is a death wish, really, in my book.  A close second only to sucking your mom's dress up in the car wash vacuum.  But bad is bad and all stands equal in the eyes of mom who stood in a nearby room Saturday night as dad broke up the fight - headlocks, bodies slamming against walls,  - and cried, what the hell were we thinking

And really I'm not sure the difference between a rascal and a scoundrel.  But I would dare to guess that we have all those areas covered nonetheless.  And my brain is kind of numb from all the volleying back and forth the last couple of days deciding if I would still like to see this mom job through to the end... or run away to a sunny island somewhere.  

But back to the question of the moment... what the heck were we thinking years ago when the doctor said it's a boy, it's another boy, and then for a third time... it's yet again another boy

I guess we were thinking of babies and new beginnings and love.  And after I remove all the rough patches that come with the days of growing up, those first thoughts of starting a family are what remains constant.  There's still love, even more of it, though mixed in with a few threats and a runaway kid or two.  There's  still hope mixed in with disappointment that pours down when trust is broken... and along with it, a heart or two.  

And there is still the promise of a new beginning.  The day after the fight or the lie or the whatever.  Because as we told the boys, as we took away every single thing in this world that they love - there is always a new beginning.  And now I trust you to do your best to find it. 

post script...  And oddly enough... sitting at the park this afternoon with these boys, trying to take in our last warm afternoon for a while, I somehow find them leaning a little toward the side of charming after all, as they do dangerous things on the playground.  And spit. 

A mid week chat

Kid 2 is completely worried that someone is gonna snatch me right up.  Seeing that I've been wedding ring-less for quite some time now. And I am, thankfully in his eyes, completely snatch-able.   His concern is a rightful one, too.  All wrapped up in that no one will know I'm married so I must be totally up for grabs.  And though, as I told him, I have had some previous good luck in the man catching department, I am 90% 95% sure I can control myself at this time.  And of course husband hopes so as well.  But I can make no promises if George Strait comes calling.  Or maybe that young guy that plays Thor in the  superhero movies.   

So to keep myself honest and on the up and up in all areas of life... I am now sporting a beautiful, sterling silver look band from Old Navy.  Because I was standing in line there about to buy a really cute flannel shirt to go with denim leggings and boots and looked over the counter to find the solution to all my problems.  And the fact that I had just left a store in the mall where I ran into a gal that I used to know who quite obviously looked at my bare finger and made an unfortunate gasping sound, but in an understanding kind of way.  Because women are like that.... we can bless your heart with our eyes and smile, while on the inside we're dying to speed text all our lady friends that you're no longer wearing a wedding ring.

Back story on that one.... my ring is still broken.  Snagging everything in sight and I just can't afford to replace everything in sight.  So there.  That's the whole reason.  Yet I feel change coming in the form of good things.  Cooler air, much needed rain, and a hint of mystery about husband that makes me believe that he will do right by his woman.   But until then, I had no idea that such cute costume jewelry existed.  So if you ever want to pretend you're married just for the heck of it, totally go to Old Navy and grab an assortment of fake rings.  Now kid 2 can rest easy that Mom won't be swooped away by some roaming romantic any time soon.   

And on another note... I've obviously reached the I don't care point much sooner in this school year than in others past.  As I totally lost it in the car on the way to pick up our car from the repair shop last night.  Maybe it was the pouring rain bringing rain into my very soul.  But I think it's just the school system in general that does little to support the needs of learning different students and makes steam come out of my ears.  And use the occasional curse word.  

And on to the topic of car repair.  This is for your benefit because I love and appreciate you for spending your valuable time reading my nonsense thoughts on life and love and whatever.  Public service announcement for the good of mankind.... always tell your mechanic before hand to put on those little shoe booties before he steps one foot into your car.  Mine now smells like a gas station.  And hamburgers.  So go ahead and tell him not to eat a burger in your car, too.  You will thank me later.  Life is just too short to be driving around in a car that smells like gas and hamburgers.  

And... last but just as important going on around here this week.... the talks with the children.  We started out having a serious parent discussion with one kid.  Then one thing led to another and before we knew it we had discussed life and future plans with all three kids.  As well as their inability to put away their clothes and collect the trash.  Then one started crying and went out the door barefoot in the cold rain and walked the neighborhood till he felt it safe to come home and not be harassed by his parents again.  Then husband and I congratulated ourselves on our involved parenting and called it good, yet at the same time hoped secretly that the kids don't kill us in our sleep.

So that's about it and it's just Wednesday.  Each day is an adventure of sorts. 

And he's probably tall, rich and handsome now

Today I arrived a little after 11:00 for a ladies lunch - at a lovely house overlooking the country club.  But I didn't get to go in because I rang the doorbell once.  Then again and then maybe a hundred times more for about 2 minutes till I gave up.  And I looked in my friend's beautiful glass front door at all her pretty things, but saw no one.  And I tried to remember if I was really supposed to be there for lunch today.  Or was it a different day?  Or maybe it was today but I got the time wrong.  

So I drove around and came back about 10 minutes later as to be fashionably late.  Still no cars in the drive.  So I left a note on the door telling my friend that her house looked lovely from the porch, how I wished I could get in, and darn if I wasn't confused.  Then as desperate as I was not to be rude, I drove away again and sat in the Whole Foods parking lot for another 10 minutes, determined to eat salad with the ladies who lunch ... and then made my third drive by.  Right along with the Dallas police car that was probably looking for me because it was, after all, the country club, and I kept slowly driving by like a would be burglar.  A would be burglar in a gorgeous orange dress and with flashy new low - lights in my hair. Which maybe all burglars in that neighborhood dress like.  I don't really know.  But I eventually gave up and ended up in a place called the Truck Yard with my husband... which was no country club affair...but good, too.

And while sitting outside there in my lawn chair listening to a catchy country song, I got a text from my friend asking me if I was ever coming over for lunch.  And I told her how desperately I had tried  - and to go check her mailbox for my note for proof of my thousand attempts. 

But then I had this really weird unsettling Kristi like doubt.  That maybe.... maybe all my lady friends were already in there in the loveliness, drinking mimosas and looking out the window at my confusion.   And maybe they planned this get together like the one from the movie Carrie... where Carrie gets all fooled into thinking she's Prom Queen when really all the mean girls have plans to pour pig blood all over her.   And would my friends really pour pig blood all over me in the loveliness of the neighborhood on a gorgeous fall day?  Absolutely not.  Because we're 100% classy ladies.  But it's too close to Halloween not to see the similarities between me and outcast Carrie.  Who was just weird and wanted to be accepted.  And let in.  See the similarities? 
But all this made me think of something I just told my husband the other day.  When I received a Facebook friend request from a high school acquaintance.  And I looked at this guy and tried to decide if he was who I thought maybe he was.  Was he that kid that had a little crush on the high school Kristi of yesteryear?  The one who was carrying a torch for an older woman?  An older woman who did him wrong.  

And though I wasn't the meanest mean person in the game, I played along by allowing meanness to happen.  By looking the other way and not saying no -   because I really knew the right thing to do.  But I didn't do it - just like the watchers in the Carrie movie who let the blood pour all over the dance floor and never said a word.  Shame on them and me.  I let other kids in my class write a little love note to that poor boy asking him to meet me at so and so place, at such and such time  - and if he showed up? We would know our true devotion to one another.  Or something like that.   I shudder to think. 

Anyway, the time for pig's blood rolled around, the kid headed to the meeting spot, and ... no Kristi.  And there was never gonna be a Kristi in that situation.  Because I'm an awful person.  And he's probably tall, rich and handsome now. 

Because back then, I wasn't the person that I am now.  And on that particular day and probably more that will need to come out in therapy at some point, I wasn't the person I knew I should be.  And that I knew I could be.  And on a good day I may maintain a 80-90% ranking of balancing right vs. wrong.  

But lucky for me, and by God's amazing grace, I'm still a work in progress - and can look back on my life and categorize events as not worth repeating, do overs, and dear God please help me forget.  All mixed in with a good dose of luck and plenty of things that turned out right.  Thanks be to God.    

And I love the thought of becoming... not only in the sense that our attitudes and actions either are or aren't becoming on us in the eyes of others - and to the God who is the ultimate spectator of all our events.  But that we are becoming the end product that has been intended all along when we allow ourselves to be made into something new and better with time.  And the most beautiful thought of all to me is how we are always able to become more in his presence and infinite patience.  Even those of us that sometimes need a do-over or two.  

And as husband pointed out to me in one of my down and out parenting moments of late, neither will our kids remain who they are today.   They, too, are becoming who they are intended to be and learning and making mistakes along the way. 

Just like I did.  

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