Monday, October 15, 2012

Weekend Discoveries

I’ve discovered a few things this weekend. Not life lessons, necessarily, but just little “take notice” things. For instance:

Chloe went on a play date yesterday. Now, she has friends that she plays with sometimes, but usually they are family friends, where all the kids play together at once. This was her very first schoolmate play date. I’ve said before that Chloe is the perfect middle child. No, really, she is. So far, she has none of the infamous middle child characteristics (which her father sports so well). She’s more like the perfect filler to our kids. She’s easygoing. Happy. Gentle. She is the perfect cohesive balance to Ashton and Atleigh, who are definitely more high maintenance- Ashton with all of his intellectual angst and “Nobody understands me” drama, and Atleigh with her high-flying, devil-may-care, baby of the family mindset. So having her gone all day on Saturday was a huge eye-opener to me. I will admit, somewhat abashedly, that because of her low maintenance personality, my poor Princess tends to get lost in the shuffle sometimes. She’s not really assertive, but she’s confident enough in herself to not be needy. She just floats along on the maelstrom of the Box House, a happy little butterfly, singing, dancing, pretending. But I missed her yesterday. Missed her being the sweet little icing in our Oreo. Ashton and Atleigh have nothing in common. Nothing. The stress level in the house ratcheted up about 10 levels without Chloe there to be buffer between the two A’s explosive personalities. Who was going to play the computer, who was going to sit in the coveted corner of the couch, heck- who was going to use the bathroom first. Who cares who uses the bathroom first?? When she came home Saturday evening, a sense of balance returned to our household, and I realized for the first time how much of a true unit we are. How we all need each other, balance each other out. This was a happy discovery for me, to know that we are our own little entity in this world.

Here are some other, several less happy, discoveries I’ve made this weekend:

* Not sure how it happened, but Chloe’s Betsy Ross costume that we bought, for her speech competition, was missing her little mop cap. The only thing I can think of is that it fell out of the bag when she tried it on in the store. This was a very unhappy discovery.

* No stores carry JUST mop caps. None that I found anyway. None of the four that I went to, or the three that I called, had them. This afternoon was an unfulfilling one of trekking around in absurd high heels (more on those in a minute), searching for an elusive circa 1776 piece of white cotton headwear.

* As far as I can tell, there are no belts for boys with snaps to change belt buckles. Ashton got a Confederate Soldier belt buckle to wear with his Stonewall Jackson getup, but no belt he owns supports such a thing. Add that to my unfulfilling afternoon.

* Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. Today I had to get inventive. Here’s what I did: I bought a $5 belt from Walmart for Ashton, along with an 84 cent seam ripper to tear open the stitching holding the buckle in place. The seam ripper broke off  three stitches in, after which I progressed with a dull serrated kitchen knife, all the while having vain imaginings of putting a huge jagged cut somewhere in the region of my eyebrow, and wondering how that would play out with my schedule for the week. Thankfully, nobody was maimed. I finished ripping the seams out, tossed aside the original buckle, and fitted the CS one onto the belt. Then I folded it back over and superglued it. The glue started to melt the synthetic materials but, hey, it was only $5. Voila! Instant Confederate belt! For Chloe’s annoying mop cap dilemma, I bought some red gift wrap ribbon (not even cloth ribbon. PAPER ribbon! Betsy would have rolled over in her grave- which I found out on Wikipedia is not actually where everyone thinks it is, by the way) grabbed my favorite white(ish) knit beanie, and threaded said ribbon through the knit holes, and then tied in a knob on the top. Not quite the same effect, but hopefully close enough for a classroom of first graders.

* On top of all this today, I wore high heels. I bought a pair a few weeks ago that I’ve been eyeing for months, and I finally gave in. I NEVER wear heels. I mean, ever. Not since I started dating Jeremy, who is only a few inches taller than I am. Here was my discovery concerning the shoes: High heels are ridiculous. And sexy. I heard at least 5 comments about my shoes. Yeahhhh girl. Despite the torture, and the resultant blisters, and the many times I whispered under my breath “fuh fuh fuh fuh” (which is NOT a shortened term of the expletive, just so you know; it’s just how I breathe when I’m in pain) while telling myself I just had to make it to the car, just had to make it across the parking lot, beauty is pain and daggone you look sexy girl, I’m pretty sure I will be wearing those shoes again. So, there’s a little discovery about myself: I’m an idiot, and a sucker for admiration.

* Contrary to what I thought, not all patches are iron on. I discovered this the hard way tonight, while trying to iron Ashton’s patch onto his costume jacket. So, what did I do, instead of just nixing the idea like any sensible person would? I did the non-sensible mom thing, and sewed it on the sleeve instead. Another discovery: I’m no seamstress (actually this isn’t shocking news to me at all. Domesticated I am not). But, the patch is on, for better or for worse. I wondered aloud to my sister if she thought that the soldiers during the Civil War had to sew all their own patches, darn their own socks, etc., or did they get the nurses, or their mothers or sisters or wives or daughters to do it for them? We concluded that they must have had to do most of it on their own, on the march and in the trenches. And they probably did a much better job than I did. I contemplated rousing Ashton from his barracks to sew his own flipping patch on, and let him really experience what those men had to deal with, but again, I decided to do the mom thing and let him get a good night’s sleep before the day of his big speech.

Once most of the costume issues were resolved, I took the kids outside to take a few pictures of them all turned out. While there, I made a few more discoveries, which are probably elementary, but to a mom whose kids are just starting to grow up, it was an epiphany. While I was behind the camera, watching them laugh and tease each other, I had one of those out of body experiences we moms sometimes have, looking at our kids and thinking, “This is mine. I made this. I can’t believe I’m a parent.” It seems so surreal sometimes, when I really think about it. I think a lot of time as mothers, parents, whatever, we tend to see our kids as just an extension of ourselves. I know I do. I sometimes don’t acknowledge them as their own people, wholly other from me. I mean, so completely other. Yes, they are a part of me, and I a part of them, but really, they are not MINE. They are their own, and ultimately, HIS. And they’re growing up so fast. So, so fast. They have their own interests, senses of humor, ideas of the way things should be. What am I going to do? My years of influence are swiftly waning. These little people, who will sooner than I can ever imagine be big people, who are mine but not mine, will soon be grown and gone. And so here was my final discovery of this weekend: My time with them is short. These next 4 or 5 years are going to mold them more than the last 9, 7, and 4 years put together. What am I going to do with that time? I hope I discover newer, deeper waters in these little souls I’ve been entrusted with. That I can discover all the best parts of them and cultivate those good, sweet, wholesome things into a thriving life. I pray that I never contribute to brokenness in them, and that I can help heal any that comes along, as I know it must. And I pray that when the time comes, I discover new strength in myself to let them go, to be who they are meant to be.

So maybe I need to rethink my opening statement of not learning any life lessons this weekend. Apparently I’ve discovered more than I thought.


Here are a few of the pictures I took tonight. As you can see, by the time I got to Ashton, I was losing light, but I decided to embrace the graininess as totally period, and therefore acceptable and cool. 

 Remember, I said we would do what we must, when it came to the Old Glory themed costume.

 Those eyes.

 This is the face of a child who has read one too many Civil War histories (oh yes- he has read them). He was so excited for me to take his picture, and as soon as I lifted the camera: Instant serious face.

As usual, you can follow me on Instagram, @mbsmoot, to see my life and discoveries in photos.

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