Tag Archives: remember

Friendship Friday ~ Adult Daughter

Hi mama I miss you <3

The text comes through at 8:33pm, shortly after returning home from a failed shopping trip with one of her younger sisters. I am in tears, parenting solo this night, trying to get everyone what they need and where they need to be. I am up to my eyeballs in the thankless hard work of it all.

My partner on the journey is off on a well-deserved break, nurturing his creative outlet. Connecting with the adult daughters is a bonus he looks forward to. I encourage him in this endeavor, realizing he doesn’t get enough of it. Time for himself, that is.

The long day had morphed into a daunting evening. It is in the clothing store while experiencing deja-vu that I consider clarifying my life mission to Ruining the lives of young girls, one daughter at a time.

Pulling out my lifeline phone, I begin composing a text to an adult daughter who has already walked this same road with me as a tween/teen. Then I delete it, chiding myself for feeling a need to involve her in my struggle, having already survived the torture that was my mothering.

Tween daughter and I leave the store empty-handed, invectives and accusations searing my ears over the lack of clothing choices and my failure to mother well, every weakness noted and footnoted and trigger pushed. Tears sting my eyelids. Heart pounds in my chest. I cling to composure and arrive home to tuck the younger sister into bed and bid adieu to my shopping partner, whom I clearly fail by the minute.

Settling into my room, allowing tears sobs to flow freely, the text arrives.

Hi mama I miss you . . .

I respond with how I am feeling, and she reminds me that it is a phase. She shares her adult daughter perspective with me. She demonstrates love for the younger sister with her words and reminders to me about how it feels to be young with big feelings. She speaks words of kindness and truth about my writing and her thoughts on where it is headed and encourages me to keep on in the bigness and hard of it all.

She reminds me it is okay to rest, and when I text, Thanks. That’s what I need to do. Just. Go. To. Bed, she replies with Or a bath and bed. 🙂

That’s my girl. I feel so blessed.

Often, Steve and I comment to each other that it would be nice to say, Oh well, too bad we screwed up those four kids. At least we tried, and then go on with our life NOT having to keep up with parenting four more. It is hard to stay engaged and energized.

Then there are moments when a text comes through from an adult daughter turned friend that reminds you that this, too, shall pass. You are not alone.

In Which I Have a Dream

. . . about puppies!

It’s Leap Day, and before it ends, I want to write about something light-hearted and fun.

I blame my sweet friend, Davene, and her copious Facebook puppy pictures and posts filling my feed. I’d much rather focus on puppies than Presidential Primaries, which is saying something, because dogs aren’t even my favorite.

Just yesterday there was a video of the puppies venturing outside for the first time, and I watched it. Then there was the blog post about it. Then the dream.

I am fascinated by these puppies, seeing as I first heard that they were on the way on the eve of the big snow. Davene and I ran into each other at the library, and I asked about Willow and found out that she was great with puppies. Turns out, she gave birth to them during the storm.

I have followed their progress, often thinking, At least I don’t have 10 puppies to care for! in the midst of my overwhelm. We all have our own stuff, you know. Some people have puppies. There is lots of love to go around in the Fisher household and lots of schooling going on and lots of learning. It is pretty incredible.

Davene is pretty incredible!

On to the dream. It was one of those that comes in the night and just sticks. I still remember it, even after writing it down this morning in my Dream Journal.

We went to the Fishers’ house to see Willow’s puppies, finally, after talking about it for some time. As usual, there was attitude from a certain child or children who shall remain unnamed. Not unusual.

We were still driving our big white van, parked it, and got out.

We went into the house, and puppies were EVERYWHERE. They were anywhere you looked. Puppies. Crawling into this and out of that. The children noticed two that they wanted. In true dream form, they looked nothing like any of Willow’s ACTUAL puppies. They were more cocker-spanielish in appearance.

The Fishers were more than happy for us to take them, so we began making plans for that. I noticed an unusual-looking black puppy that seemed to have a collie-like appearance around the face and ruff around the neck. It also had stripes on its sides and a bushier tail. I noted to myself that it seemed to have gotten all of the recessive genes, and looked rather skunk-like.

That is when we noticed that it really WAS a skunk. It jumped onto my back and began clawing at me as I ran around, freaking out, in true Christmas Vacation form. THERE IS A SKUNK ON MY BACK!!!!!

I ran outside where it was somehow removed.

We loaded up and headed home with two new puppies to add to our menagerie. The dream ended with them being introduced to Dewey, Zephyr, and Buddy.

There you have my latest dream. It’s not big or life-changing or risky, unless I choose to analyze it. Then, maybe, I had better look out! Because, you know, there was that skunk and all of those puppies.

All of the Cuddles I Did Not Read

As the littles grow bigger and grow up and outgrow, it is finally time to downsize and de-clutter certain items. Children’s books are at the forefront, lately. We have piles and shelves of them.

It is a standing joke between my almost-teen and me that he never liked any children’s books. He will throw out titles laughingly, The Little House, The Biggest Bear, The Fat Cat, If I Ran the Circus. His standard line is, And that piece of crap book Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. I NEVER wanted you to read THAT.

Translated, You spent hours reading me Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel AND The Little House.

I read a lot of books, but I’m not the only one. My husband, and adult children, also spent hours reading to littles.

Make Way for Ducklings, The Polite Elephant, Fireman Small, All of the ORIGINAL Curious Georges. Goodnight Moon. Little Critter anything and Richard Scarry, too. Tinker and Tanker and the Pirates. Choo Choo, the story of a little train that got away, and speaking of trains, the little boxed set of Thomas pop-up books, and Blue’s Clues lift-the-flap books. Green Eggs and Ham. Wacky Wednesday. Anything by Dr. Seuss or Theo LeSieg 😉

Big stacks of books.

And cuddle. Always cuddle. In our family culture that is bedtime story reading. You didn’t read me cuddle! or lately, May I do extra media for my cuddle?

There are all of these precious books with special memories. There are also lots of bookshelf fillers. These books are extras that hang out to be read once or twice, but they aren’t loved. They don’t hold special meaning. As I am going through them the question now becomes, Would I want to read this over and over to a grandchild one day? Does it hold a special memory with me and a little?

Sorting into save and give-away piles, I realized that I should ask Steve if he had any special memories with the books I was sorting. One by one I held up some obvious keepers. Of course! he laughed.

Then I showed him some that, to me, were obvious give-aways. Mostly. He surprised me with wanting to keep one or two. He reacted strongly to the last one. Are you crazy? Are you being serious? OF COURSE that is a keeper!

That’s when I realized that the other cuddle-reader, in fact, the one who probably shouldered MOST of the reading, if I am completely honest, the one who still spends a good chunk of the evening reading chapters of books to tweens, has memories and feelings about the books, as well.

He read all of the cuddles I did not read.

So we are going through this process together in small steps, reminiscing, laughing, wondering how we EVER survived the hours and hours and hours of reading. How we are STILL surviving them! We have been, and will continue to be, reading to children for a long time.

Ew Gooooody!

Resisting Redemption

I picked up my fourth-grader from school yesterday. Excitement radiated from her as she shared about her purchases at the Knight Bucks Store, a shopping venue set up with donated items. Students used their incentive dollars, Knight Bucks, to buy gifts for friends and family and then maybe select an item or two for themselves.

There were even people wrapping presents, and they were professionals. They didn’t just tie a plain ribbon around the present, but they used scissors to actually curl the ribbon and make it all fancy.

I don’t know what that says about the wrapping skills in this house, but I was grateful for the teachers and parents who took time to man the store and the wrapping station. I was thankful for the fancy, because through the eyes of my child, it was exquisite.

I got a present for Collie.

Now, Collie is her sister’s stuffed dog who has a personality and a voice all his own. In fact, there is a whole subculture in this house revolving around Collie and Bessie. It made complete sense that when the gift was opened, it was a cow.

Collie and Bessie

From what I gather, Collie was nourished on Bessie milk as a pup.

To be honest, I always felt uncomfortable to hear them talking about Bessie milk, because it sounded like breast milk in their high-pitched, slow-talking animal voices. I realize as I admit this, that breast milk is what all of my children were nourished on, and that the crunchiness-level in our house should make phrases like Bessie milk a non-issue, but triggers abound, and awkwardly using the correct words for body parts and functions continues to remain one of mine.

It’s redemptive that I can push through and allow my children to use correct words for body parts and functions, even though I inwardly cringe.

The excitement that younger sister felt about bringing a gift home to older sister’s treasured stuffed animal was sweet to behold. The joyful playfulness they shared by the light of the Christmas tree, acting out voices of each animal was quietly witnessed by me as I prepared food in the kitchen.

My heart wanted to expand, and at the same time shut down. Hence, the resistance.

I don’t have fond memories of myself at the age of my girls. I don’t look back and feel sweet or fun or generous. When I think of myself at ten and beyond, it’s not with kindness, especially in relationships with my siblings. To witness and focus on the kindness of my girls and the friendship they share at this age offers an invitation to taste redemption.

Sometimes I taste it, and it’s sweet. Other times, it’s a bitter pill of grief that I struggle to swallow. This redemption that shows up in strange places is an invitation to participate in the process. It is an offering of light brought to scatter the darkness.

It is a gift I will choose not to resist.

This Cup

She arrives home from school with a sunny face. I accept her offer of tea brought to my room where I have been holed-up sick today. Lemongrass green tea has just enough caffeine to take the edge off of a headache and just enough lemongrass to soothe angry intestines.

She is growing up. Tonight is her first middle school musical, and she is on stage crew. I am proud of her initiative and drive. She grasped this opportunity on her own. Her wings are growing at breakneck speed, and she eagerly strains to try them out at every opportunity.

I’m grateful for big brothers to send to the opening performance for support. I am grateful that Roo got to see the show on Tuesday as part of a school trip. I am grateful that her dad can go tomorrow night, and I can go on Saturday.

I am grateful that her face lit up when I mentioned going along for pizza afterwards with the cast for Saturday’s cast party. Her face doesn’t always light up at the idea of having me close, but sometimes it does.

I am grateful for the cute outfits her dad helped her to find earlier this week. She looks grown-up in the best of ways as she changes into dark patterned leggings and a black shirt and comes to hug me goodbye.

I love her. Today I can actually feel the love. It’s big. I am grateful.

I’m grateful for the words and music of Sara Groves and Ellie Holcomb from the song This Cup on Sara’s latest album, Floodplain.

What if my whole world falls apart?
What if my life could be different?
What if I sat right here and took you in without the fear
and loved you whole
without the flight and didn’t try to pass
this cup?

I often struggle with my cup. Struggle to take it and embrace it and delight in it. Struggle to love and be present in the hard. That’s no secret. But in this moment with tea at the right temperature and a heart full of gratefulness for a girl growing up, I lift this chipped, imperfect, coffee cup filled with tea and love.

tea

Mommypancis

Have you ever wondered about my screen name? Have you even noticed it? Sometimes I get asked about it by those who wonder how it came to be. What’s the story? It has to do with a ten or eleven year old girl and her baby brother.

I was ten when the baby boy of our family was born. That was thirty-four years ago. Thirty-four years?!

I remember that baby boy. He had a rattly sound when he breathed due to a floppy epiglottis. I had one when I was born, also. We had that in common, separated by ten years. I loved holding him, playing with him, and watching him grow.

Siblings

When he was a toddler I remember thinking he was the cutest thing. Maybe it was because I was growing up and becoming more maternal. Maybe there was now enough distance between me and a younger sibling that he wasn’t viewed as a threat for attention. Maybe I understood that he was a baby. The baby.

I gave him a nickname. Gregorypancis. Pronounced Greg-o-ree-pahn-sis.

I don’t know how or why it came about. It just did. I give the ones I love nicknames, just ask Beatrice, Kippy, Mabeccabo, Kierbear, McTirkle, Coco, Roo, and Maemo (Little Mae).

Fast-forward to the internet age and the advent of AOL and email addresses. When I set up my first email account and was looking for a screen name that didn’t need a number in the thousands after it, I thought, mommypancis. Mom-me-pahn-sis.

NOT mommyPANICS, though she often does.

I was in the thick of being mommy. It was available. Whenever I need it, it is there. It’s me. Mommypancis.

Mommypancis

This is the face of Mommypancis, designed by my firstborn girl. With Maemo, of course. Can’t you tell?

And what about that little Gregorypancis?

Gregorypancis

He is a Daddy who will meet his little one face-to-face in a few short months. Babypancis will make an appearance in late November. I am thankful.

Happy Birthday, Little Brother! I love you much.

And, yes. I DID sew that orange and blue patch pillow in fourth grade. That is another story in itself, but the fact that it graces my baby brother’s toddler bed attests to the love and affection I had for him. Still do.

New Puppy Dewey. / Guest

Do you know what it feels like for orphan eyes, almost all pupil, STARING at you? A tiny, tiny thing, gazing at you from behind bars?

Well this started not long before my sisters birthday. I knew she was getting a guinea pig, my little sister had said that she and my brother were going to get her one. That night I talked to my dad, I wanted the first pet. My dog.

After we talked, my youngest sister was in bed, and dad got on the computer. How would you like a Cocker Spaniel? Not what I thought I would get, but I like all dogs. Sure dad.  Then dad looked them up. Oh, it’s fine, they are hard to take care of.

Well, dad kept on looking, till he looked on the SPCA list of dogs. We saw Dewey, 2 month old puppy, in play stand. Dad said, He is cute, but we can’t have a puppy.

The next day, Wednesday, we were talking about dogs at the dinner table. My older brother said, If we got a dog I would want a puppy. And so the conversation went.

After dinner dad looked on his phone, The SPCA is open till ( sometime ) on Wednesday. Let’s get in the car. I rushed everyone out of the house.

When we got there, we went to the puppy room. Teeny black orphan eyes, Glossy black, dark brown, and just a hint of grey coat, wagging not-docked tail, one ear flopping, the other up, the puppy smell, corners of the mouth turned up, glossy white teeth but all through bars.

Mom had a surprise. All the I thought he was TEN months old! junk.

She and my younger sister stayed out of the room, touched by the dog barking. Harry, the older puppy in the cage beside Dewey, watched us. I could have cried.

Mae

The front desk said we could walk Dewey around the front yard, and dad said he might use the bathroom. He didn’t until dad scratched him under the chin.

We came to see him every day, loving him more every time.

Thursday, we found out ANOTHER FAMILY WAS THINKING ABOUT GETTING HIM, THEY WERE APPROVED, AND WE WEREN’T! Out cat needed a  vet appointment and shots.

However, God opened a place at the vet for her that day. The next morning I rushed everyone out of the house, I needed Dewey. Right when the lady unlocked the doors, we were two steps behind. We took the small puppy outside, and we ran, me and him. All around the yard.

Running with Dewey

After that, we crated him in the pet carrier and filled out the papers. He was mine. MY dog. 2 good 2 b true.

When we took him home he explored everywhere.  Later we took him to Pet-co.  We were getting him things when My sister came. “Dad dad! I found the perfect Guinea Pig!!!” Mom and dad talked, and for an early b-day present, She came home with a guinea-pig.

IMG_3742

At the check-out, Dewey had a great idea! ” Hey, how about I pee on the clean floor? ” And that’s just what he did. Charming.

Dewey spit-up a lot but stopped soon.

HOUSE-BREAKING.

Even now, he pees on the floor. For instance, Me, him, brother, and my 2 sisters were rough-housing on the living room floor. Mom told us many times, Don’t let him pee on the floor in there. And just as we were going to take him outside, he peed. I had to sneak around the house for things to clean up with.

He has eaten peanut butter, bacon, purina, and anything safe I give him. We took him to klines, and got him a doggie bowl. A scoop of vanilla, topped with a milkbone.

When Wren comes over, we watch them horse around, Dewey yelping for mercy, then chasing, (little did he know Wren was going slower for him.) He tries to climb on top of her to bite, but always ends up under.

We took him to the vet a few weeks later and he is new 5 months, so the SPCA was wrong,

=D Deweys the best. Cuter then all pups on earth. And My brother and youngest sister are almost fully thinking of him as part of the family.

Dewey

On Psalm 23

Lord,

You are still my shepherd. My Good Shepherd. I am not lacking. You are providing for me in ways I cannot see or understand, but you are making me lie down and the pastures are green. You are leading me and the waters are calm.

Leading means moving away from one thing and towards another. Whether it is moving away from the known to the unknown, from safety to risk, or from summer to fall, you are leading.

Sheep are slow. I am slow. Movement takes time.

You restore my soul. Restoration from devastation.

You are leading me in paths of righteousness for your name’s sake. My life is for you. You are using me to fulfill your purpose, and I am not alone.

Even though.

Whatever my even though, what can separate me from your love? Not even walking through the valley of the shadow of death ~ whatever that death may be.

Today it looks like the death of an expectation, but sometimes it’s the death of a dream, or a season, or a person, or of self. It’s a place of deep darkness.

I don’t need to fear.

Evil.

It feels pervasive these days, yet it is not new. It is not a surprise, and you are with me, comforting. Your rod and your staff are close. I trust in your defense of my heart. My life. You fend off evil so that I can eat at the table you have prepared for me.

I am not an afterthought.

My life is not an accident.

You have chosen me and anoint my head with oil.

You care.

My cup overflows. It is messy and cannot be contained.

Goodness and mercy follow me ~ in what direction am I heading? I am ever~moving on towards the time when I will dwell in your house forever, leaving behind a trail of goodness and mercy.

Amen.

Harmonious Song

Miss McAfee taught fourth grade girls. Short enough to wear high heels all the time and stylish enough to feather her hair, I was most enthralled by her manicured fingernails. They curved down over the tips of her fingers so as to appear long while still allowing her to play the piano without clicking the keys. They were always painted.

Miss Langdon taught first grade. Wearing jumpers and clogs, with straight chestnut hair and bangs, she, too, was enthralling. Her lip-glossed smile and bobby-pinned hair were fascinating. She directed the elementary choir, which is where our paths crossed. I had been singing since second grade, and this year my sister, Deborah, would join the choir. She sang soprano. I sang alto.

Together we sang for our family and friends.

Miss Langdon and Miss McAfee were a musical team, one directing, the other accompanying. Both were superstars, in my opinion. The dynamic duo. Rehearsals involved us sitting in pews in the church sanctuary, in some kind of order, listening for our notes and echoing our director.

Soprano!

Alto!

Miss Langdon would direct Miss McAfee to strike the interval on the piano, motioning the difference in pitch with her hands, singing each group’s note distinctly while leading into All things Bright and Beautiful or I Would Like to Know or Michael Finnegan.

Molding my arm to the curved, carved pew rest at the end of the row, I watched Miss Langdon’s directing pattern for whatever song we were singing. Sometimes she swayed back and forth, her long hair waving from side-to-side, a motion that I would try to imitate in front of a mirror at home while practicing conducting myself.

Music was a joy to me.

My dad was the minister of music at Capitol Baptist Church, and hymns were a big part of my background. So was church every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night. Special Music, Choral presentations, and favorite hymn night were all ways the monotony of church was broken up for me.

I was fascinated by the singers in their choir robes. Especially intriguing was the lady who sang tenor, which was obviously a man’s part in my childish mind. It was interesting to see her female face mixed in on the men’s side of the choir. I always listened for individual voices and vibratos, even though they were supposed to blend into one sound. I always watched the mouths as music poured out of them. Such expressions!

There was the male tenor whose voice reminded me of a sheep or goat’s bleating, the elderly soprano with shrill vibrato, and, of course, that woman who sang low like a man. All blended together to make a joyful noise. A joyful, slightly off-key, small church choir noise.

And I was fascinated.

Choir brought out my voice. It gave me confidence.

This confidence was further built one morning in that fourth grade girls’ classroom.

Miss McAfee passed out a song to our class for opening exercises. My Country Tis of Thee was photocopied from a hymnbook or other song book and placed into each of our hands. We began singing. I confidently read the alto line, blending a harmony with the voices around me.

Almost immediately a hand was raised or a voice was raised or some sort of alert was raised.

Miss McAfee, Julie isn’t singing the song the right way.

My teacher’s response was kind and endearing and wise.

Actually she is reading the alto line. Julie comes from a musical family and can read music and harmonize by ear, as well. She is musical.

Class continued. We sang. I felt affirmed and seen and recognized and heard.

I was musical. I was understood. Thank you, Miss McAfee.

Escalating

Thursday I picked up a friend from the airport. As part of this journey I had chose to ride some escalators in Dulles Airport. Standing at the bottom of the longer one, I snapped a picture and posted it to social media.

escalator

There’s a story behind this that I must not have heard! commented a friend.

Of course, there is a story. There is always a story. Are stories.

A vivid memory of my first field trip, taken in kindergarten or first grade, to the Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. places me at the top of an escalator, looking down. I am not able to step on, because I am terrified. I am small enough for the chaperon to have to carry me down the escalator, which he does. I feel safe.

Questioning my parents about this confirms that it is a plausible memory. We lived in an area where field trips to the DC area were common. It could have been a family trip, since we went there often with family and friends, but it seems that I would know the difference between a parent carrying me and a safe stranger.

Family trips contain memories of not getting freeze-dried astronaut ice-cream or not eating in the cafeteria but packing sandwiches in a cooler. Family trips would have most likely involved elevators due to the number of small children and the stroller. And somehow I knew there was a chaperon. That word is in my head. 

Of course, as an adult and a teacher looking back, taking young children to the National Air and Space Museum seems stressful. Did it really happen? I am grateful to have listened to this podcast on memory this week. I appreciate Dan Allender’s perspective and insight on the subject.

“But the question itself betrays an assumption we make about memory—that if memory is true, it is accurate to a degree that it would actually be comparable to watching a videotape. […] That’s not the way memory occurs. It’s not the way we even remember what we ate or who we were with for last evening’s meal. […] No memory holds a kind of videotape accuracy.”

I have an adult escalator memory, as well.

Years ago, when our eldest children were 4, 3, and 22 months, we took them, and my 8 year old sister, to the National Zoo. There was a double stroller involved, yet as with most stroller activities, the littles weren’t riding in it.

Steve, my sister, and firstborn were ahead of me trucking along to the escalator that would return us all to the Metro from the zoo. I was carrying a toddler and holding a little boy’s hand behind them.

As the three of them stepped confidently onto the descending stairs with the double stroller, I froze at the top with two small children in hand. My feet feel numb and legs itch even as I type this.

With no free hands available, I tried to pep-talk myself into taking that first step, but I just couldn’t. The little boy holding my right hand would follow my lead forward only to be jerked back at the last second.

Ok. The NEXT time a group of people steps on, I will go. They will at least break my fall if we go pitching forward. Lift foot. Jerk back. Confuse son. Vice grip daughter.

I was stuck at the top in a minor panic.

My husband reached the bottom, looked up, and immediately realized what had just happened. Going into rescue mode, he located the elevator, returned to the top, and escorted us to the elevator and safely to the bowels of DC (is that an oxymoron?) to be returned via subway to our minivan.

Over the years, I have risked and grown in my use of elevators. I do much better when I am alone or with other adults and not responsible for small children or reckless teenagers. I can even navigate a piece of luggage going up. Going down is a little more stressful.

Here you see me risking two years ago when we took the littles to DC and rode escalators at some point.

Clench a jaw!

Clench a jaw!

DSCN0295

Fearless one.

I was reminded of this as my friend and I made the trip in reverse, she with a large rolling suitcase.

Do you want to take the elevator down?

No, I’m fine.

Ok.

I took a deep breath, reminded myself of her adult status, and held on for the ride.