Why I’ll Never Ask Her to Clean Out Her Room Again

There comes a time in every parent’s life when they take a peek into their youngest child’s room and decide they’ve had enough.

Enough of the teeny tiny toys that pierce the tender undersides of feet.

Enough of the stuffed animals covering the floor like carpet.

Enough of the doll clothes strewn like confetti.

Enough of the two crayons and 4 markers randomly located in the four corners of the room. Along with the 15 pieces of tape strategically placed on blankets, dresser, floor, and animals. (What is that all about, anyway? Do I even want to know??)

Enough!

Last weekend, the time had come for this parent.

“Alright Sweetgirl, mama’s all done with this toys-on-the-floor business. Let’s get this room cleaned out.”

This little announcement, as you can imagine, was not met with joy and excitement.

I began gathering all of the things we would need to clean up this mini-human explosion in the purple room down the hall. Baskets of varying sizes (I had delusions of organizational grandeur), laundry basket, big black trash bag that you could fit a human into.

“Why do we need a trash bag, mama? NOT THE TRASH BAG!?!” (The way you just read that last sentence? Not one ounce of exaggeration in how she presented her case against the dreaded trash bag.)

There are some parents for whom a messy room is their child’s problem, not theirs. It doesn’t bother them one eensy bit. They can roll with it.

Unfortunately for Sweetgirl, I am not one of them. You can only close the door on disaster so many times.

We set to work picking up the stuffed animals, first. As I lifted each one, I’d hold it up for her and ask, “Are we still in love with this one?”

I’m happy to report that she made a fairly large pile of stuffies to donate. Her mantra, each time she opted to let one go was, “It’s someone else’s turn to love them.”

Bless. (Her)

Happy Dance. (Me)

We talked through each meticulously curated pile of toys. She informed me, for example, that the lined paper cut into the shape of a haphazard oval was vital to the comfort of her mermaid Squinkie toy. But, that the pink glitter crayon lying beside them both was magical and couldn’t be moved.

Story after explanation after rationalization was doled out, in the hopes that some piles could remain.

Nope.

We finally got to our last corner of the room, when Sweetgirl put her hand on my shoulder and said, “I love you Mama. You listen to my stories.”

And that? That earned her a smooch and a hug. And a nice long break to admire what we had accomplished, so far.

I told her we could quit for the day. But, she opted to finish what we had started. So, we did.

As we finally, blessedly, wrapped up, I started dragging the trash bag of to-be-donated stuffed animals down the stairs. But, I had to pause on the second step. She had made her way into Sweetboy’s room to tell him something “important”.

“I’m a big kid now, brother,” she informed him.

He asked her why.

“Because, mama and I cleaned out all of my little girl toys today. So now, I’ve got a big girl room.”

A tear rolled down this cheek of mine. It was never my intention to clear out her little girl toys. I never anticipated a need to make her room a “big girl” room. But, she saw it as a rite of passage somehow. It meant something completely different, and, well… big, to her.

I don’t think I’ll ever ask her to clean her room out again.

Well played, little one. Yes indeedy… well played.

A Resolution About Storytelling

Questions. So many questions. I’m watching the ending of a show that began seven years ago. It does not seem like it is going to end well. (And, allow me to define my terms – by ‘end well’, I mean all tied up neatly. With a bow. And rainbows. Possibly even unicorns. Or, at the very least, logic.)

Ending a show on a note of “Huh?” doesn’t do a thing for me. Lost is a perfect example. It ended with loose ends sticking all sorts of out. It. Was. Awful. Many of us viewers put in countless hours dissecting the Dharma Initiative and whether they were living in an alternate universe and making predictions about whether Jack and Kate would ever finally be happy together?

But that ending!

Because, huh?

No questions were answered. Lots of new ones were raised.

Here, exactly, is where post-modernity and I part ways. I like a Conclusion Ending. My post-modernist friends tend to like the Possibilities Ending.

And, I’ve started to wonder how all of this translates into how stories are told.

More importantly, I’ve started to consider how they are received.

Storytelling is an art. And, as with all art, how one perceives it is so incredibly subjective. I might think the podcast “Serial” is the best thing since sliced bread. (I don’t, mind you. I tried. It didn’t speak to me of unicorns and rainbows. Not. One. Bit.) You may be a Walking Dead fanatic. (I tried that one too. Nightmares on my street. Still. After just 20 minutes of the first episode. Again, no unicorns. No rainbows. And the bows used weren’t the kind I’m interested in!) I’m more of a Good Wife watcher.

I’m noticing that many of those who tell stories, now, are less interested in imparting a social lesson, because whose ultimate authority? They don’t often end with a moral lesson, because, whose morality? And they seem to integrate fewer timeless truths for fear of offending those for whom The Truth is not true.

You might be wondering what stories, then, are left to tell?

Plenty! There are plenty of stories that are still universally needed. We humans need stories that bind us together and remind us of how we were created to need each other, rely on each other, and encourage each other. We need stories about family, faith, friendship, and love.

Those stories cross all boundaries and build strong bridges.

I choose to be that kind of storyteller.

To that end, I’m setting my sights on telling stories that encourage love, that share faith, that celebrate family, and that facilitate friendship, in 2015. That is my New Year’s resolution.

And, I resolve to tie this one up at the end of the year with a big fat bow. Oh, yes indeedy!

Any resolutions for you, in this new year?  Share! I’ll send you a unicorn if you meet it by year’s end. (In the interest of full disclosure, that unicorn may, indeed, be drawn by Sweetgirl. But, in that case, you may get a rainbow out of the deal, too. Win-win!)

What I Learned in 2014

2014 was a year full of new challenges, grand adventures, goals met, lessons learned, and a whole host of moments where dark chocolate was desperately needed! I’m including my favorite posts from each month. But, I have to tell you – it was not easy to choose which posts to include. In fact, reading through each month sent me running for the tissue box more than a time or four (not to mention the stash of dark chocolate chips I realized I was going to need to keep on hand just to get through the month of June!)

So, grab your favorite cup of something warm (or cold) and join me as I reflect back on 2014.

Lessons_Learned_2014_Missindeedy

In January, I learned that I was one in a million. I also realized how very deeply I love my Dermatologist.

February reminded me that Sweetman is wicked smaht, and that I need to pay better attention during our conversations.

March was the month where I finally pursued a long-held goal of mine to enter the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. And, although the outcome wasn’t what I’d hoped, it felt good to give it a go.

And, of course, in April, Dentists became dead to me, as we learned of sweetgirl’s boo-boos on her teeth.

May was where I reflected on the BOOM created by the very different Myers-Briggs personalities in my marriage.

June brought a painful lesson in turning the other cheek, from Sweetboy, and reminded us how Autism can have painful ripple effects for a parent – but that it doesn’t win!

July reminded me that Sweetgirl is always watching, and that Autism can sweeten the interaction between siblings – especially when a yoga ball (or two) is involved.

August is when I finally realized where my mission field is. And, OH, how I yearn to work it well!

September was the month where I learned that I can both set a goal and reach it and set a goal and fail! The women’s triathlon was successful. The goal I set afterwards was not. (There is always 2015!)

In October, I proved that I can indeed get along with Commitment, after all. I accepted the Write 31 Days challenge. Because, Grace, I know Him well.

November was full of masks, casts, and WINS! (P.S. If you need me on January 1st or, LORD WILLING, January 12th, I’ll be parked in front of the television, yelling encouraging my beloved BAMA’s football players to RUN THAT BALL!)

And, December, of 2014, taught me to shop a little earlier for the “classics”, as I reflected on the beauty of the lesson in the The Little Drummer Boy.

Such grace laces my days. I was reminded of that on more than a hundred occasions over this past year. I’m encouraged to keep moving toward new goals, maybe even toward an old one, or two, that got dropped along the way.

Hope sparkles on the horizon for 2015.

I’m praying that it does for you, too.

Yes indeedy!

What were some of your favorite lessons learned in 2014? Please, share them! I’m linking up with the lovely Emily Freeman, over at Chatting At the Sky, for her “What We Learned” link up.

 

Just a Few (or 15 ) Things

I’ve been chasing my tail, this merry month of December. Anyone else?

But, I wanted to pop in and tell you a few things before you flat-out decide I am done for.

1. I’m not done for.

2. I don’t even really understand that phrase.

3. Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha = a small sip of heaven.

4.  It also equals a small increase in the midsection.

5.  I was just too lazy to combine numbers 1 & 2 and 3 & 4.

6. My favorite Christmas song is “Silent Night, Holy Night”.

7. To that end, I have been playing The Oh Hellos’ Family Christmas Album on repeat. Number 3 is about worn out. And, number 4. And number 2. And…

8. As we speak, I am only 50% finished with my Christmas shopping. This causes some stress.

9. Stress and I don’t get along.

10. My favorite (and the first) things to put out, when decorating for the season, are our stockings. Each one was lovingly cross-stitched by The Nana. She is an artist! Each has our name across the top.

Stockings

11. Our Christmas tree is up and decorated. This being a year when we are down in Florida with Ahab and The Nana, for Christmas, I call that a win!

12. THESE! –> SnackFactory_PretzelChips_Choc

13.  THIS! –>   Mitchells_Fresh_SalsaDip

14. Do you do the whole #EOTS (Elf on the Shelf) thing? Don’t. Start. I’ve begun to rue the day… Anyhoo, we let the kids play with Jack, our elf, the first day he comes out. They get All The Touching out of their system and then we begin sweatin’ it out looking for new ways to hide and position the little elf dude. Looks like Sweetgirl’s gonna do just fine when it comes time to play this game with her own kidlets. She clearly has far better ideas than we do. (Although, I’m not sure Jack approves.)

Elf_Hangin_Missindeedy

15. Sweetman’s family introduced me to the tradition of watching “White Christmas” each year, to kick off the holiday season. I. Love. That. Movie! Our sweet little family, however, likes far less cultured movies: Elf and Arthur Christmas. We’ve watched these 5 times, already.

It’s only December 10th.

Lord, help me.

And, on that prayer, that’s a wrap!

See what I did there?

Now, if only I could do that with All The Presents.

It is a season for miracles…

Yes indeedy!

When the Landscape of Your Mothering Hood Changes

“I’ve got a job interview!”, a sweet mama friend recently announced.  She was in a mixed state of shock and elation.  And, truthfully, so was I.

It seems like each time I walk out the door to another meetup for coffee, yet another friend from my mothering hood informs me that she’s heading back into the working world.

There is a natural progression of feeling. First, I feel sadness as I consider losing yet another confidante` and partner in motherhood crimes. I almost always feel angry, next, that this economy has forced so many of us to have to go this route. And then, I instantly feel ridiculous for assuming anyone “has to” go back to work. Inevitably, though, I hit the acceptance stage, as I reluctantly admit that change is a part of life.

While I dole out congratulations with a mix of excitement for them and sorrow for myself, I redraw my friendship circles.  This one goes into the “I can meet her for coffee before we head out for our day” circle.  That one goes into the “we can meet at night for dessert, once in a while ” circle. And so it goes, because work schedules are as varied as the friendships themselves.

I find myself shaking and sifting my own daily schedule to accommodate the quick lunch downtown, the Skype session between meetings, or the neighborhood girls night out. And, every jig in the schedule is worth it, because I miss them.

Regardless of whether they re-enter the working world by choice or not, it’s obvious that the landscape of my Mother Hood is changing. Much like the transition from Fall to Winter, it is a bit upsetting to watch. I’m watching friends drop out of the picture like leaves blowing away in the wind.

But, there is new beauty to see, too. Watching mammas transform themselves with a renewed sense of care, is like watching the trees of Spring begin to clothe themselves in bright green splendor. As their children have flown away from the nest, or simply grown up enough to afford them time, they’ve been able to realize dreams that have long lain dormant.

No matter what the reason for each decision a mama makes, it’s clear that each of us is doing the best we can with what we’ve been given. And, I don’t think we give each other enough credit for that.

One of the things that I most admire about a landscape is its ability to transform with the seasons. The changes can be months in the making, like the dormancy of winter bringing about the brilliance of spring. Or, they can be as quick as a strong wind scattering a puffy white dandelion across a field, leaving a lone stem in its wake. I see our mothering decisions much the same way.

landscape_creationswap_Missindeedy

Weathering the changing landscape in my mothering hood is going to require looking for the beautiful in the new. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that a layer of grace makes everything more beautiful.

Indeed.

Change is inevitable. So, when the landscape of your mothering hood changes, seek out the beauty in the new. You will find it. There is so much beauty there.

Let’s Recap, Shall We

Last week, we were all about this:

Hot_Pink_Cast_MissindeedyBecause, Lord knows there’s not enough drama around here. And, I can now add reason number 237 to my list of “Reasons Why I Detest Trampolines”. All I can say is, thank goodness for Hot Pink Castery. (I’m becoming my own veritable dictionary, aren’t I?)

Thankfully, the weekend was more celebratory!

First, this happened:

masquerade_missindeedyWe attended a fundraiser for our kids’ elementary school. It was nice to get all gussied up, talk to other parents (sans children), and hit the dance floor! (I don’t want to brag, but I do a mean Y.M.C.A.) And, although I had to practice wearing heels (again) for a few minutes a day for the week leading up to it, the night was a huge success.

Then, Saturday, it was all this:

Bama_Movin_MissindeedyThis move up in the AP Rankings made me all sorts of happy, because

SEC_Funny

We ended the weekend on this note:

B_day_MissindeedyAnd, I don’t feel even a little bit older. I will say, we counted up the number of teacups and saucers that my grandparents have faithfully sent The Birthday Flowers in over The Years, and… there are a few decades worth. That can age a person real fast.

In the ebb and flow of life, though, I’m feeling like the tide is pretty high. (You see what I did there? No? It’s a Bama thing.)

Yes indeedy.

An Open Letter to the Pest Control Man

Dear Pest Control Man,

I want to thank you for coming, faithfully each quarter, to check on the status of our critter control issues. I also want to thank you for braving the deepest recesses of our unfinished attic. Your willingness to climb a ladder and root around up there on your knees to make sure no varmint have intruded on our homey bliss, endears you to me.

Can we also talk for a moment about how kind you are when you catch me running out the door, forgetting we had a standing appointment? Every. Single. Time. You are so kind. Thank you for that.

And now, I must offer my deepest condolences for what took place on Tuesday. I realize that I cannot make you un-see what you saw.

I had just finished telling the children how wonderful it would be to spend the Veterans Day off of school, in our pajamas for as long as we wanted. I was, in fact, padding to the kitchen for my second leisurely cup of coffee, when you rang our doorbell. My mind was clearly not prepared for your arrival.

Neither, most unfortunately, was our home.

As usual, you were gracious as I opened the door to you, exclaiming that I had forgotten that you were coming for your quarterly inspection.

And, OH MY SWEET MOSES, how I had forgotten!

You see, it was only after you left our home and drove away that I ventured upstairs to put the ladder you used, out of our closet and back into the garage. I know you try not to see my messy bed and clothes piled up on the ironing board and bookstacks, a mile high by both sides of the bed. I imagine you must valiantly try to focus on your destination, as you travel through my master bathroom to get to my closet, which is where the attic door is located. I know that you have seen dirty pajamas, and other things, that didn’t quite make it into the laundry hamper.

And this time, I was able to see that I had left, for your viewing, three freshly laundered bras hanging from the towel rack. Directly in front of the only door you could walk through.

Please, please forgive me!

I will not allow this to happen again.

I will, however, need to greet you the next time from behind a mask. Please, try not to think of how strange it will be.

At least, I hope it is no stranger than walking through a curtain of ladies undergarments to go hunting for evidence of critters.

Most Sincerely,

Eternally Embarrassed

P.S. Siri and I have agreed to alert me to your next quarterly appointment, no less than 10 times in the hour leading up to your arrival. I hope this will prove helpful. For both of us.

P.P.S. Your eyes were filled with an extra measure of mirth, as you left. I believe I know why.