Monthly Archives: December 2008

Problem solved

The boys have been complaining for the past hour or two that they are bored.  Every year this time, as well as over summer, a friend comes and stays here for a week. Usually they play non-stop for all seven days. I hardly even see them unless they are hungry.

Not today. They were sprawling on the sofa earlier, copying the line from some kiddie movie (I forget which):

 “What do you wanna do?”

“I dunno. What do you wanna do?”

I’m a bad mom. I told them my garage is in desperate need of being cleared out. I tried to make it sound like fun, but they told me they are not that bored.  

A short while ago we heard an almighty crash in the bathroom. The older boy went to look and found his younger brother (my middle son who is always up-to-something) in the bathtub. He had squeezed out almost half the soap in my hand soap container into the tub and was amusing himself by slipping around in there.

The visiting boy gave one look at the fun in the tub and decided to get his bathing suit too.

This is when I took a leap of…hmmm…what shall we call it? I can’t even think of a word for my next deed, except that it was very brave and that I will probably regret it later.  

I told the boys that they were far too constrained in the tub. They needed to think big. It could be much more fun if they slid on my painted concrete floor in the tv room that way, on condition that they promise to clean up later. Talk about seeing the faces of a teenager and some almost-teens light up.

The soap was transferred from the tub to the floor.  We poured a thin layer of water on the floor.

As I type, the boys are having the time of their lives, slipping and sliding and laughing on my tv room floor. Heehee!

If I weren’t so old I would join them.

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Stocking stuffer

My dear little muffiny,

Tonight I will write you a little note to put in your stocking, since there is nothing else I can put in there for you except my love. It was excruciatingly hard to hang your stocking up there this evening, remembering the ballerina barbie and hello kitty stamp and coloring books and music box thingie that filled it up last year. Your stocking will look empty this year, but it will be bursting at the seams with my love, your daddy’s love, your brothers’ love, Granny’s, Opa’s, Holland and Sarah and Joseph’s love…and the love of so many more people.

You have left a legacy, my little muffin. You brought sparkles and laughter into our home while you were still here and you taught me to relish in everything girly. When you went to Jesus you taught us to see the eternal value of things and to cherish those things that are important. Jesus has shown us that his grace can follow us anywhere, through you.

We will always count ourselves blessed because you graced our lives with your hugs and smiles and giggles and quirks and yes, even your pouts. 

You are missed here, and loved here, we cherish you in our hearts always and can’t wait to see you again soon.

Until then…hugs, sweetie pie. Let Jesus lavish all the love that is in our hearts for you, on you tonight.

With kisses,
Your mama.

Lament

I was sitting down here trying to wrote a lament. You know a post that is replete with phrases like: it-is-not-fair-that… or why-should-it-have-to-be-like-this… I decided it sounded too negative and that it might create the wrong impression. I am really fine, but some circumstances lately are just driving home Jenna’s absence and I am missing her.

We went to an office Christmas party tonight where I had to answer the inevitable question about how many children I have, from perfect strangers. It is a dilemma. Sometimes it is just easier to answer: “Three boys”. It doesn’t rock the boat, and it keeps the conversation light and simple. There is an inner twinge when I answer the question in that fashion though, because it doesn’t honor Jenna and her place in our family.

Then there are the times I tell people straight out about my 3 boys and my little girl who is with Jesus in heaven. The person who received that answer yesterday immediately clouded over. I could almost see her mentally kicking herself for forgetting about Jenna and feeling uncomfortably unsure about how to proceed with the rest of the conversation, until I made light of it and changed the subject.  

Tonight’s questions set me on a downward spiral, which was only made worse by a family tree project that my oldest son is working on for school.

I started crying when he needed my help to fill in our family history. It was heart wrenching to see him type up his siblings’ names and add little Jenna Anne’s name to the list, only to have to type out in black and white, for the whole world to see, a death date next to that sweet sweet name.

And so I lament.  For now. Tomorrow I will laugh again, but right now my heart aches.

It aches for my oldest boy, who doted on his sister so, who now has to fill in her death date on a scrap of paper for school.

It aches for my youngest, who shows how he misses his sister sometimes by using her voice and her intonation to say things.

It aches for my middle son, who thinks that people are starting to forget his sister because no-one talks to him about her anymore.

It aches for Jenna’s daddy, who doesn’t get his exuberant welcomes from his little girly anymore as he comes home from work.

It aches because this mommy-heart doesn’t know how to appreciate the Christmas lights this season. It has always been my most favorite part of Christmas but Jenna and I oohed and aahed over them so enthusiastically last year that every lit-up house reminds me that she is gone.

Why are there so many lights this year? Don’t they know that Christmas should just stay away? How are we going to enjoy Christmas without the blessing of living it vicariously through a toddler’s eyes this year?

I told a lady at the Christmas party tonight that Jenna would want us to celebrate and we will. I’m so ambivalent about it though.

I wish we could fly to a cabin in the mountains or go somewhere totally different for Christmas. I don’t really want to face a normal Christmas with an absent Jenna.  

Lament over. A few more tears, and then I will smile again. I promise.

So be it.

I have noticed something over the last few weeks. First it came as a vague thought, something  I couldn’t quite articulate, but something that was felt. This evening as I was driving home from a talent show rehearsal, laughing at my oldest son’s silly song in the car, the words came…

Free, abandoned, out-of-the-gut laughter is something unfamiliar to me.

I don’t know how or where it started. I came from a loving, balanced home. My childhood was full of amazing experiences that I could only wish for my kids today.

But… I was always shy. Painfully so. I had a bouncy, outgoing, popular older sister. My younger sister was blessed with the beauty and the brains in our family combined, and sported a sharp wit. I got lost between the two of them and felt I couldn’t compete. So I withdrew into my own world. (Sometimes called Sumi-land. I still go there sometimes. 🙂 ) 

I went to a high school that was extremely snobbish. My best friend from school and I met together in February of this year and puzzled over why that was the case. We both agreed though – we couldn’t think of a single soul that was truly happy in that school.

Somehow, in those high school years I lost my laughter.  I remember a stage when I desperately, painfully tried to manufacture a ‘cute’ laugh. My older sister had this little bubbly laugh, but when I tried to emulate it other children told me how fake it sounded. (I suppose it did.) But the snarky, biting comments of my peers only made me shut up more. Until I didn’t know how to laugh, really laugh, anymore.

I have always admired people who can just laugh, without a care in the world. Who can belt it out from somewhere in their gut and whose laughs are so infectious it gets you laughing too. My oldest son has a nice laugh – and I can pick it out in a crowd at school. It always makes me smile.

The last few weeks, I have been hearing myself laugh. Free, unaffected, and uninhibited. It is a strange sound. It is a good sound.

I think it is a sure sign of something amazing that is taking place in my life. How can I be so broken, and yet so made-whole? How can there be so much pain in my life and yet such joy? It is a mystery.

A colleague of mine commented on the pink sweater that I wore to school this week. I told her: “Yeah, this is my Jenna shirt. We picked it out together.” “Who is Jenna?” she asked, and promptly dissolved into tears as I told her about my girly-girl.

She had no idea. She told me that I seem so happy and normal and she never suspected I carried that kind of grief with me.

I told her then, that God has ordained my steps in a way this year that I never could have imagined. He has truly cocooned me in his grace, like a preacher told me at church recently.  I have never felt so loved, so capable (it even feels strange to write that word) or so free just to be me.

Oh, I do grieve.  My heart catches in my throat many times a day as a situation or sound or smell or sight reminds me that Jenna is not here with us now. The pain welling up in my heart at odd times is a familiar thing now. I know it is transient, so I don’t fight it.

Yet I am in such a good place.  Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time for everything under the sun…a time to pluck down, and a time to build. Right now I am amazed to see a building taking shape, made of His hands, one that I pray he will inhabit and be glorified through. Amen, Jesus…so be it.

I’m feeling it!

Wow. That’s all I can say. Wow.

I have had the longest and most spoiled-rotten birthday streak ever this year. On Saturday my much-too-generous hubby talked me into going into a favorite store to buy myself something for my birthday. They were having their take 40% off clearance prices” sale, so it was pretty tempting. I resisted him at first though (because what I really want is a haircut and highlights. 🙂 ) but quickly agreed that I will need new shoes sometime soon, seeing as I am a working girl now and all.

True to form, I looked at the shoes only to inform hubby that I want to check one other thing…and another….and another. LOL! I am not a big shopper, but any sale turns me into a giddy bargain hunter. We were still there when my mother in law called to inform me that my sister in law had given her $$$ to buy me a gift card at the very same store! So, armed with the knowledge that I could shop to my heart’s content, I proceeded to do exactly that.  🙂

That evening, we took our friends Holland and Sarah up on an offer to let the boys sleep over at their house, so that they could play with Joseph. Saturday was a lazy and cosy evening together for hubby and I. Sunday morning was much more relaxed than usual because we didn’t have to get the kids ready and out the door for church. (I felt sorry for poor Holland and Sarah.) 

We went out for lunch after church and I met with a friend in the parking lot afterwards for a quick hello that turned into a let’s-see-how-much-conversation-you-can-cram-into-forty-plus-minutes-while-your-entire-family-waits-for-you-in-the-other-car session. Have I mentioned before that I have a sweet and really indulgent hubby? He did text my friend’s cell phone though, asking: Who’s the ratchet jaw?  LOL! Take your pick, hubby.

We came home for a short interlude (I did some school prep) before going off to the movies and dinner with our pastor and some other friends from church. Got home late…did some more prep…yawn…and got to bed even later. Whew!

When I walked into my Bible class today my students were all wearing party hats and shouting out a happy birthday greeting. A student had bought me a stress ball for fun! We did only about 15 minutes of work in Bible today, and chatted about girly things the rest of the time. I figured it’s my birthday and I am building relationship with the girls. 🙂

I had this inkling that my journalism class was cooking up something when some students came looking for me before class was due to start and ran off to the classroom very excitedly ahead of me. I entered the class to find a homemade cake, party snacks, banners on the wall, balloons, sweet birthday cards, gifts, and 9 very excited students singing an exuberant happy birthday. They had recruited two students from another class to immortalise the surprise on my face on camera. My kids beamed when I told them this is probably my best birthday ever. (I didn’t tell them about the fleeting moments in the day when I felt like a fist was clenching my heart in its grip because a sweet little muffiny wasn’t here to share the day with me.)

I felt totally. spoiled. rotten. That’s not even all of it but I fear I have bored you already with all the details. Let’s just say I feel the love today and I am soooooo amazed by it.

Wow.