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Yesterday you turned the big 3-0. Thirty. Take a deep breath. That’s right. You are officially out of your 20’s.
Your 20’s were good to you. They brought you your husband. Your kids. Your career. Your passion.
But they were rough, too. The loss of your brother, your parents. Chronic sinus problems. Back trouble. Bad feet.
You’ve had some good times – times you’ve laughed until you’ve cried, times you’ve cried until you laughed. Sometimes those events were the same day! There’s been lots of lessons learned. Lots of friends made, and more than a few you’ve lost touch with over the years. You’ve learned relationships are tough. Sometimes really tough. Tough just to keep going – tough to put the extra work in to keep the flame alive. But oh, so very, very worth it.
I guess I wanted to write you this to give you some advice. Advice you probably won’t listen to, but you’ll nod and smile and say you’ll listen, and I wanted to write it out here so there were witnesses, so to speak. So here it is. The big advice for you going into your 30s: Do hard stuff.
Life is hard. Marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. Friendships are hard. Work is hard. Faith is hard. Cleaning is hard. Downtime is hard.
Cooking is hard to find time for in light of all that other stuff.
Be kind to yourself – but also, be good at doing hard stuff, because at the end of the day that’s really what life is about. Dig in to the moment, be present and real with people. Acknowledge that you’re doing something hard, and then do it. Give yourself a break when you fail, because you’re going to. Just be ready for it. Every day you’re going to wake up with 57 things to do and you are going to fail to do most of them.
Try to do them anyways. Don’t half-ass it, either, because who wants half-ass attention? No one. So do one thing really good. And then do another, and another, and another. You may end up with 14 good things by the end of the day. Awesome. You did good. You failed at 43 things, but they don’t matter because you rocked at 14 things.
When you turn 30 (if you’re me) you start to think about your legacy. At the end of my life I want to be known as someone who was real. Someone who had to dig her way through life with broken nails and tear stains and dirty tennis shoes who was a real person to the people she interacted with. I don’t want people to think I’m something I’m not. I’m a mess – just like every other human being on this messy broken earth.
By the grace of God I’d like to fight against that brokenness – the brokenness that destroyed my parents, the brokenness that threatens to take others every day… I’d like to BE KIND and DO HARD STUFF because it helps fix some of that brokenness. And if on any given day I can only do 14 good things, or even just 1 good thing, it means the world is that many more things better than it was yesterday.
Six days ago you turned three. My mind still can’t wrap around that entirely. Where did the last year go?!
Year two was definitely the year of the superhero. You have embraced a world where superheros exist and it is weaved into the fabric of your life.
You have learned so many things in this past year.
You have learned about cancer. You have learned about hospitals and beeping machines and how Nanny is sick and there’s nothing we can do to fix it but take her to the doctor and pray.
You have learned about death. Having to explain to you that Mimi (your Papa’s Mommy) had died was difficult for us. Making that decision on whether or not to take you to the viewing was a tough one to make. And now, just a few weeks later, you’re in the car traveling again to Senatobia for her husband’s funeral.
You have learned how to sing. It makes me so happy to hear you in the back seat of the car singing about how the Wonderpets are going to save the baby deer. “Wonderpets! Wonderpets! We’re on our way! To help the baby deer and save the day…” Even though I think that show is a bit obnoxious.
You’ve learned about counting. We’ve been teaching you about counting for ages, but you’ve finally learned how to *actually* count things. You can tell me how many fingers I’m holding up, and if I ask you to count how many of something there are (like, apples, or shoes on the floor) you can usually count each item and give me a relatively close number. Instead of just counting to 12 really fast, you’re taking the time to count now.
You’ve learned to say “I love you,” and “you’re pretty,” without prompting. Oh, my, how you melt my heart when you do.
You’re so young, and the world is still so full of magic. I hope we can keep that alive in you even in spite of tragedy, struggle and heartbreak.
You have a baby sibling on the way – you keep telling me you want two baby sisters. I keep telling you that you only get one, but I’m not sure you’re convinced. We had initially only planned on having you, and adopting another child, but the more we thought about it the more we thought you’d benefit from another sibling earlier in life. We’re still open to adoption or fostering, but we’ll see how this new baby fits into the family first. Girl or boy, I have high hopes that you will be a great older brother.
You have a lot of friends, you’re quite social. You call all small children “my kids!” If Aedan and Kaylee show up to play: “My kids are here!” If Dylan and Noah show up: “My kids!” When you leave church, “I had fun with my kids!”
For your third birthday I asked you what kind of party you wanted. You said, “I want a Batman party!” When I asked you a week later, “I *said* I wanted a Batman party!” So we had a batman party, and we invited Batman to come to the party. We spent WAY too much on a really good Batman costume rental, but considering the adults had as much fun as the kids did, I’m calling it a success. You were afraid of him at first, when he picked you up and tried to take you away from me you burst into tears and snuggled into my neck for safety. Once he introduced himself to you, though, you warmed up to him. It was amazing. He played with you and “your kids” in the backyard and through the house. I’ll probably never tell you that “Batman” was played by your Uncle Cory.
Oh, son. This was such a fun year. You’ve been a beast for quite a lot of it, I won’t lie. You’ve spent lots of time in the corner with your hands on the wall for various transgressions. But you’ve also spent a lot of time having FUN. Running, playing, swimming, jumping, and going on adventures. I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for us.
One of my friends posted about this poem on facebook, and I thought it was worth posting here. Happy Father’s Day to my amazing husband who is one of the best Father’s I’ve ever known!!
A careful man I ought to be,
A little fellow follows me.
I do not dare to go astray,
For fear he’ll go the self-same way.
I cannot once escape his eyes,
Whatever he see me do, he tries.
Like me, he says, he’s going to be,
The little chap who follows me.
He thinks that I am good and fine,
Believes in every word of mine.
The base in me he must not see,
That little fellow who follows me.
I must remember as I go,
Thru summers’ sun and winters’ snow.
I am building for the years to be,
In the little chap who follows me.
by Rev. Claude Wisdom White, Sr
I have a sourdough starter in my refrigerator. It’s been there for months. When I first made the starter, I had grand visions of delicious sourdough bread. However, life happens and before too long it was placed into the back of the fridge on the shelf of forgottenness. Back when I started the starter (heh!) I named it Goob, after the adorable character from Disney‘s “Meet the Robinson’s.” If you’ve seen the movie, the rest of this post will make sense to you. If you (by random chance) haven’t seen it, drop everything and go watch it. Seriously. It’s amazing.
So at any rate: Goob was good to me, and then I abandoned him, and now he stinks.
I opened the fridge today to put away some pizza, and there sat Goob. My failure out front, in the open, for all to see. I turned to my husband and sighed.
“I’ve got to take care of poor Goob. I’ll try to look it up tomorrow and see if there’s anything I can do to save him.”
My husband immediately pops up with: “Go back in time, don’t neglect him so much.”
I love my husband.
Last week you turned the big TWO!! I was reading the letter I wrote you at 21 months and it’s amazing how much you have changed. Even over just a few months you change and grow.
You still talk and talk and talk. You love to run through the house, play with swords, and tickle Mommy and Daddy. The dogs drive you crazy (especially Frankie), and when you and Frankie are energetic and chasing each other you both drive US crazy. We’ve been swimming half a dozen times this summer and if I put you in your swim donut you can swim around the pool yelling “Kick! Kick! Kick!” as your legs frantically propel you forward. It’s a joy to watch.
We had your birthday party the day after your actual birthday. Lots of friends and family came over. I made you chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with chocolate and vanilla ice cream. You started crying when I lit the candle on your cupcake and everyone started singing. I’m not sure why – maybe the attention? Maybe the singing? However, as soon as we were done and you got to eat the cupcake, you were much better!
You got some neat toys for your birthday and love to play with them. Lots of animals and blocks and cars and trucks. Puzzles and dinosaurs and oh, my, the vehicles. Our house has become a speedway and you are the driver of racing machines darting in, out, and over the couch.
We took a trip to California almost two months ago. We were worried about how you would do in the plane, but we shouldn’t have worried. You love any kind of vehicle, planes included. Daddy sat next to you on the plane and talked about how you were going to go really, really fast, and go up, up, up! You loved it. We rode in the car for ages and ages, and you rarely fussed about it. We drove through random subdivisions in Elk Grove, and you asked if we were going to Mae Mae’s house! It was the cutest thing, and you made Mae Mae’s mom giggle about it when I told her. We went to a wedding for my best friend Amy. You love Amy, and you loved dancing at Amy and Keith’s wedding. We went to Monterey Bay Aquarium, and you had such a blast hanging out with your 3 cousins. We went camping (which you LOVED) at my old camping site in California. It was heart-wrenchingly beautiful to see you scale the same rocks I had scaled as a child. To see you in the “rock club” and down at the water’s edge was an incredible experience for me. Even though the water was freezing cold you stood in it until your feet turned to chubby little icicles, and you loved it. Watching you eat s’mores with your cousins is a memory I will treasure forever.
A few weeks ago we travelled to Senatobia, Mississippi to visit Papa’s parents. Mimi and PaPaw loved you, and we loved visiting them, and you had a good time running around their house and showing off. A mere week after that we went down to Houston for your cousin Austin’s graduation. Each road trip you demonstrated your willingness to sit still when needed, your love of movement, and your love of music. I love how you love music.
Son, I’ll be honest, because it’s my letter and I’m allowed to be: I don’t know what the future holds for you. What I do know is that you capture the attention of people – your joy, your mannerisms, and your movement. Watching you is like watching life take place – it’s like observing the best the world has to offer. Maybe you’re just like every other two-year old on the planet, I’m not sure. I hope that I can teach you to harness that attention-grabbing skill and use it to better the world around you. I know that living with you teaches me every day the meaning of slow down. Observe. Breathe. Love. Be patient.
Your Daddy and I talk about you, often, after you’ve finally given up and gone to sleep. We lay in bed, snuggled, and talk about whether or not we’re doing a good job (most days we think we’re doing OK). Recently we were talking about your exposure to television and video games. We don’t want to shelter you from the world and its issues, but we don’t want to desensitize you either. It’s tough to say “No, we won’t play this video game while Benjamin is awake, because it depicts violence too accurately,” but that’s exactly where we are at.
This world is dangerous and violent and broken, son, and you’ll have your whole life to learn that. I hope that we can teach you about the beauty of the world first, and it’s dark side later.
Eventually, Lucky will die, and you will learn grief. Eventually, you will ask where Mommy’s parents are, and you will see me cry. Eventually, you will ask why Jesus hangs on the cross, broken and beaten, and you will learn about sacrifice.
Our hope, though all of that, is to teach you about love. Love that shines through grief and brokenness, love that taught Mommy how to heal, love that makes Daddy get up even on the days when his depression beats his heart and soul, love that put Christ on the cross and love that triumphs all of the dark things in this world.
However, before you have to learn all of those things, I want you to know joy. I want to continue to see my baby boy, beautiful and full of grace and energy, running around squealing with laughter. I want to continue to love you so much it hurts. I want to see animals for the first time all over again, though your eyes. I want to continue to chase the dogs in the backyard until we collapse into fits of giggles. I want to dance with you in the living room until I’m sweaty and exhausted. I want these good and wonderful things for you so that when darkness seems to sneak in, you can remember the things from the light.
I hope you understand, one day, how hard it is trying to figure all this stuff out. I hope you have enough grace to forgive us when we mess up. I hope I have enough grace to forgive myself! But either way, we’ll muddle through this crazy adventure together. Being a Mommy is quite an amazing experience in general, but being Mommy to you – well – I think that’s my favorite job yet.
I love you son, happy 2nd birthday.
In honor of Valentine’s Day (which I actually thing is a lame holiday) I saw a few bloggers I read doing this and I thought I’d join them and tell you guys a bit about my hubby and I!
Last week was not a good week for working on my balance. However, it was an amazing week for working on my work-related development! I was able to take an instructor course that helped me learn how to create lesson plans, match a power point to said lesson plan (which I pretty much knew, but the review was beneficial) and teach within a certain amount of time.
Those of you who know me will not be surprised to hear the hardest part for me was keeping it within a certain amount of time ;)
Usually training is not very energy-consuming, but this class took up all of my time/energy/brain power to pass. It was very informative and definitely worth the effort, but I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with the family. I’m really looking forward to next week, which will be much less stressful and unbalanced.
It’s interesting how much more mindful I am of the “balance” of my life now that I’ve listed that as my word to focus on this year. I always had issues with resolutions, and this is much less of a resolution and much more of a constant reminder – it seems to be working so much better.
I have grown to love bath time with Benjamin when he’s not being a complete and utter pain. He eagerly wants to help us wash him, as long as it’s not behind his ears. And I know I posted this on facebook, but it bears repeating:
Justin and I tend to give Benjamin baths together. It is one of the few, precious moments where we can be together and enjoy each other’s company without someone running away (ahemBenjamincough). One of our favorite things to do with Benjamin is teach him words. Words, my friend, are power. Words help people communicate and ask for their way!
So we teach him words, especially animals because that is the age he’s at right now. And he loves it. He loves horses, dogs, frogs, fish, turtles, sheep, pigs, cows, bunnies, dogs, bears, monsters, and did I mention dogs? So we’re in bath, and Benjamin has this mat from Target (which I love because of the Octopus, which is sadly not pictured). We ask him, where’s the shark? He points to the shark. Good job, Benjamin! Where’s the fish? He points to the fish. He also identified the octopus and the yellow fish (hey, it’s never too early for colors!)…the yellow fish thing might have just been a good guess, though, because he couldn’t find the green fish (or red fish, blue fish, haha, just kidding Dr. Seuss).
Then Justin asks him to find the frog. He starts looking. I get a bit confused – I’m looking at this very clear underwater sea diagram and thinking “oh no, am I losing it? I don’t know where the frog is!”
But then I spot a frog, beautiful and tiny and green, on the washrag floating in the water by Benjamin’s left foot. I look at Justin. He grins. “Snnneeeaaakky!” I tell him with a smile. He shrugs, “I know. I want to see if he’ll find it.”
Benjamin, meanwhile, is staring furiously at the bath mat looking for the frog. He finally expands his search, his eyes travelling around the length and width of the bathtub. His eyes dart back and forth, his tiny perfect hands still with dirt under their nails searching the air and water for the frog. He is still at this age where he searches with all of his being.
Finally… he finds it! He points to it triumphantly and says “FROG!”
My heart swells. Such joy from such a tiny creature, such love in these tiny moments. When this stuff happens, when my heart grows to bursting and my tears want to fall at the beauty of everything… it is in these brief moments that I feel the most balanced.
p.s. If you have a child (particularly a son) I highly recommend reading this.
Yesterday we really wanted to go eat out with a friend (who we randomly ran into) for dinner but we couldn’t because we hadn’t budgeted for it. I’m not going to lie, it sucked. If not for the strength of my husband, I would have caved and put it on a credit card.
So we didn’t eat out and the credit card was saved that expense. We went home and ate hamburger helper. And today, when we got paid, I sat down to pay bills saw how much money I had for groceries the next two weeks… and I was thankful my husband talked me out of eating out yesterday.
See, we are really trying to get our finances under control after all the health issues we had last year. Rebuild our savings, pay off the credit card (whoops), etc. It would be much easier if we didn’t have three weddings – two of which I’m an integral part of – and a new dog. Trust me, I am not complaining, I’m blessed to be a part of this important day for two people I care deeply for. And the new dog is adorable to watch. I’m just saying, it’s hard to save money when you want to spend extra money on fun stuff. Saving money is not fun. But sparkly things (and things that go ruff! ruff!) are definitely fun.
Luckily, my husband is a strong man who stands by me as I pout about not eating out. And pout about not buying cute shoes. And pout about not eating steak anymore. In the long run, he makes my life much, much more rich!