Sunday, May 31, 2015

Enter At Your Own Risk

I don’t know how you all are, but when I know I have a big project that has to get done, I have to prep myself (and others I expect to participate) ahead of time. I mean like a few weeks ahead of time; I’m no better if I try and spring these types of things on myself than I am if I try and spring it on my “helpers”.

We have one of those rooms that I feel all people have, or at least I tell myself that to feel better about mine. It’s that room where everything goes when “unexpected company just dropped by”, or “this needs to go out to the shed, but I’ll put it back here for now”.  But somehow, we never seem to go back and retrieve anything we put back there, we just continue to add to it.

The last time that room was cleaned was about a year ago, so after fifty surprise visitors and sixteen trips to the shed that never happened later, it’s a wreck, not to mention an OSHA health hazard. If I tripped over one thing or another in the floor once, I tripped and almost busted my behind twelve other times.  At any given time you could hear some loud cursing and carrying-on coming from back there when some unfortunate soul had to go look for an object who had met its sad fate to land back there.

Now to even begin to describe the shelving in there that was supposed to contain things in one area: all of our plastic bowls and containers/lids as well as all my cookware, tea pitchers, baking pans, multiple holiday dish sets and all of the decorations per holiday – it was a disaster!

And gracious at the groans that would go up in the air all around me when I would ask someone to find me a bowl and a lid for leftovers after a meal. If you were lucky enough to find the right size bowl after three times trying and me sending you back for something bigger or smaller, your next impossible feat was to then to find the matching lid.

And let me tell you ladies, because I know am not the only one: I don’t just have all pretty and matching Tupperware bowls; I have Cool Whip bowls, Parkay butter bowls, and the best of them all bowls - those school fundraiser cookie bowls! If I buy something in plastic, and it comes with a lid, it gets washed and stored for later use, over and over again. We never know real butter bowls from left-over lima bean bowls in this house, every refrigerator visit is a surprise. 

I parted-way with a lot of things today; I was picky at first, meticulously going through bags and boxes, trying to sort and keep what was necessary. Three and a half solid hours later, I was chunking stuff into those huge lawn garbage bags as fast as my helpers. Now my curb will look as bad as that back room – until trash day. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Times, They Are A'Changing

This time of the year brings back so many stressful, albeit wonderful memories. All the young faces filled with a menagerie of expressions from unimaginable impatience, to immense joy, to, “Where do I go from here?” and, “Who will I be when this is over?”

They’ve been students at least 13 of 18 years of their lives. They’ve had somewhere to be from 8am until 2:25pm, every August through May. They’ve followed a dress code, student conduct codes, and parental rules for the last eighteen years. Yet they are all on the brink of freedom and you can see that in every fiber of their erratic movements and actions. Everything in this last week seems like a knee-jerk reaction to the coming change, the change that will vault them into adulthood and down strange pathways that most will say they are more than ready for, but few will admit that they are also a little scared.

Some will be headed to colleges of choice, some will take some time off, and some, straight to a place of employment. Some will continue to live at home while going to school, which will provide the comforts always known while experiencing the unknowns in new places with new faces. And some will move out, and perhaps even out of town, as adulthood and strangers surround them all at once, while they try their best to find their footing and appear brave.

But this week there are several required events and traditions that ramp-up the emotions of all, including the parents. As each event approaches in time, our anxiousness and trepidation runs on high, we feel everything from being proud to, “How did my baby become so grown so fast?” We will cry, we will laugh, and we will feel relief. We will be worried, we will feel alone, and we will feel left out. Because that’s the job of a parent: to get them all to their destination the best we can and let go.

The first event is Baccalaureate, which is somber and still. It’s our first opportunity to see them in their caps and gowns preparing us for what’s to come. Next is Senior Night. All the students will be dressed in tuxes and gowns for their walk down memory lane, a 13 years of life slideshow where so many of us will cry and so many of us will laugh with some much needed comedy relief.

Finally, what everyone worked so hard for, parents and students alike: the night of graduation. There will be speeches, smiles, and tears once more. The parents / families/ friends will be watching with rapt attention, not even noticing as we nervously twist our programs between our fingers into swizzle stick forms. 

And then it’s done, everyone is beaming from ear to ear, passing out hugs and congratulations, the remaining anticipation on the back burner for the night. This whole week can be best described / quoted by Scarlett O’Hara saying:  “I can’t think about that right now. If I do I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about it tomorrow.”  

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Family Fadoodle

Everybody has get-togethers: birthdays, holidays, etc. Some turn out to be a lot of fun, some are just average, and some – well some are good times from which memories are made. Who even knows what special element goes into any given day that makes it different from all the rest? I truly have no idea.

I mean, you can prep to the heavens and back, trying to make sure every detail is covered, every possible need will be met, and then still, something is forgotten or doesn’t go quite as planned. If you want to know the truth, I think the times that you try the least is when things seem to turn out the best.

My parents came down for Mother’s Day, and what a great day we all had. My children did all the cooking: Joshua prepared all the “inside” food and Zach was the master of the grill, and good gracious what a spread we had indeed! The night before, Joshua made a homemade pound cake and a caramel drizzle for the icing that was absolutely delicious! I did make a chocolate pie for my Daddy and I did make up the hamburger meat for patties, and a pitcher of sweet tea, but that was truly all I did. Joshua handled the baked potatoes and sweet potatoes, got the beans ready, and prepped all the fixings for the hamburgers and hotdogs that Zach would be grilling.

Zach began the meal with a prayer / shout out to Mamas everywhere, including Mary, who started it all with baby Jesus. Our table was full of good food, conversation, and laughter. I cannot even tell you the conversation topics that were touched, there were so many and so varied.

We took pictures—a LOT of pictures! I hadn’t taken any in a few holidays and it just needed to be done. However, somehow, some way, during all that camera-snapping, including Project: Rescue the Frisbee from the Roof, at the end of the day, I had not one single picture with me and my children! So after everyone left, we piled up back outside and took some more.  After all the pictures were taken and I was back inside downloading them, Zach slyly quipped, “Now you know when you post these to Facebook to that other album, everybody is going to know we’re just an afterthought.” 

The whole day was full of funny references, after-thought pictures, quick-witted humor, and flying Frisbees. Which by the way, was rescued, with a five iron golf club belonging to Zach, by my daddy, who happened to be the tallest in the group and the only one with enough balance and strength to grab the Frisbee with the club and drag it off the rooftop.

As my parents were getting back into their vehicle for the drive back home to Georgia, my Daddy was looking back at his grandchildren when he turned to me and said, “There’s never a dull moment around here is there?” And I said, “No sir, there never is.”

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Lost Tears

For every sixty second’s beyond curfew, I was my mother. For every forced realization that the truth is not always what you hear, I was my mother. For every inconsiderate moment or word spoken in haste, I was my mother. And for every time my rules and my way was not the most popular way, I was my mother. 

Though my children are 20 and 29 years old, there are still discussions about right and wrong, the value of respecting the opinions of others, and practicing what we preach. There are still conversations that feel confrontational and thought processes that do not agree. There are days when all of the above make me tired and weary. And then there are days, when I’m feeling the most misunderstood and trampled upon, that my pouting is brought to light with clear and precise images that make me aware of just how wonderful my children are, and just how good my life is at any given time.

As I watched the national television news the other night, better than ten minutes of the coverage was about the earthquake in Nepal. All of the news stations have been covering this horror story since it began, but that particular segment that particular evening was about a mother who had been standing watch for over eight hours that day as they dug through the ruins, looking for her eight year old son who had been missing since the tragic quake.

The look of devastation that was tightly sealed on her face, was the most heart-breaking image imaginable. For 24 hours prior, she had told the men digging, that she knew approximately where her son had been standing when it all began, and she thought she could hear his cries under the rubble. That last ten minutes of coverage would be when they turned to the mother and said, “No, we are sorry, your son is not here, and we have looked all we can look today”.

She did not cry, but even worse, she stood there with such a pained expression that did not move, but stayed frozen on her face for so long, that it would cause wonder as to whether her face would ever look any different again; if that moment in time would ever remove itself from her mind, her heart or her face.

Those are the realities that nightmares are made of for any parent, but it seems especially so for a mother.  I have spent so many sleepless nights worrying about my children getting from one place to another, safe and secure. But never have I been the woman standing in a pile of rubble for as far as the eye could see, and believing that I could hear my child crying, but truly knowing, that I would never dry his tears again.

Only a woman knows the all-encompassing love of a mother. Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful women who have loved and raised a child. Tell your mother, you love her the most, every chance you get, forever and always.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Last Dance

As I drove-up to the all too familiar property, my truck windows were still up, but I could close my eyes, and already know exactly what would send my smell sensory out of this world.  I was the first to arrive, and sitting there parked against the curb, my air blasting to keep me cool, I began to reminisce about all the times before, and of course I began to frame how today would go in my mind as well.

I’m always early, a trait that was taught by my Daddy; to make an impression, to be early, is always the way to make the best one. That’s not to say that being early always applies in that manner, but it’s been a habit for better than thirty-five years, so it just usually happens regardless.

I opened my truck door, thinking I would get out, take a look around, and try and think of new things to do ahead of time, before everyone else got there. The blast of humidity that sprayed my face with almost instant perspiration helped me to decide differently pretty quickly. I slammed the truck door shut and with a flick of my wrist, moved the volume of air coming from my vents, up about three notches closer to as high as it would go.

Within a couple of minutes I could see the procession of vehicles pulling in behind me. And as I looked out of my rear view mirror, I could see the parade of princes’ and princesses stepping out onto the street, and walking towards the entrance where we would all find lawn beautification at its best.

The young ladies were as beautiful as I had ever seen them, their dresses flowing behind them, as they lifted the hems from the fray of the concrete, their hair done-up in high fashion, and their eyes sparkling with excitement and anticipation of what was to come. The young men in their tux and cowboy boots were just as dapper as could be, their hair styled far different from the usual and both of them missing the hat appendage that is always the norm.

This would be Ramsey’s last official high school dance, and she was surely prepared to go out in style. She would wear a purple strapless gown with silver sequins and he would wear a brushed gray tux with a purple tie and vest to match.  They were a beautiful couple and the next few hours would be a pleasurable experience for sure.

We began our trek through Miss Betty Ann’s yard, with jasmine-filled trellises for background drops and beautiful flower beds and a pool gazebo that would lend style and elegance to our photo shoot. She so graciously extends her home and its gardens every year for the prom attendees and it is surely appreciated by all.

The pictures would be beautiful, stylish and silly; all the things a good time should be. Last dance, last call for Ramsey and high school, and on to a bigger life than even she can probably imagine.