Sanity in the midst of chaos

We are a couple of weeks into our voluntary shelter-in-place (the official only began a few days ago). I chuckle as I write this title, because honestly maintaining sanity in the midst of chaos is fairly standard for our house. At least, 90% of the time. Sometimes my fairly well developed patience muscle gives out, and I am forced to resort to what some people would label “self-care”. I just call it “not killing the kids”. And recently, my non-homeschooling but now forced-into-homeschooling friends have started calling me. They want tips. Tricks. Survival guides. So here is my short list for how to stay sane when you can’t get away from each other.

1) Don’t get legalistic about school times. Having a framework for a schedule is great, and helps keep the day moving, but if they are melting down and you are too, RELAX. Take a break. Mix it up a little and go do lessons outside if possible. In a treehouse. Upside down hanging off of the couch. Get it done, but make it fun. Spelling words can be studied using chalk in the driveway. Math concepts for youngers work great when combined with snacks… I am partial to M&Ms. Particularly subtraction, because you get to eat the ones you ‘take away’…

2) Make sure you have unstructured time for them to just be kids. Generally speaking, most kids are done with their lessons around lunch time. I have made after lunch a “quiet hour” for years… mama needs a break, and so do they! Quiet activities like reading or coloring or doing puzzles are fine, but LEAVE MOM AND SLEEPING BABIES ALONE. If you wake the mama bear, heaven help you. Because I have toilets that need to be scrubbed. Baseboards that always need washing. Or if I am super irritated with you, maybe a chicken coop that needs to be cleaned or a goat pen that must be mucked out.

3) Time with the kids is important, but time with hubby is importanter. Yes, that’s a word I just made up. You two have to stay friends, and you need a sounding board. The kids don’t need to catch the burden of your frustrations, fears, or drama… they need a mom who is sure, at peace, and can be their safe haven in a mixed-up world. But the safe haven also needs a safe haven. My hero and I always spend a couple of hours together when he gets home. He hangs with the kids some, but we make sure we have “us time” before bed.

4) Date night. Absolutely imperative. It has been more of a challenge since we can’t go out, but last week our kids put up a shade awning in the yard, moved our patio table and chairs under it, strung up a lantern for mood lighting and aluminum foil heart decorations, and served us our dinner outside. Then they left us ALONE. It was wonderful.

5) Pull weeds. I’m not even kidding. Both in the yard/garden/flower beds AND in your heart. Weed out the negativity, complaining, grumbling, snarkiness, fear, drama… pull it out and replace it with the beautiful plants of positive thoughts and words, thankfulness, confidence, truth and peace. It is frightening how much of our attitude as moms trickles down into our kids… listen closely. What do you hear from their lips that you know they heard from you? If it is good, keep it up mama. If it is ugly, STOP IT. It will only get worse as they and you are stuck in the house together!

6) Look small and look large. Remember when you were a kid and you could watch the fascinating world of insects trundling along in the grass for hours? Be the one who introduces your kids to that amazing little world. Or the beauty of rocks. The shapes of leaves. Or the stars… the other night the kids and I saw TEN satellites come over. We made up our own constellations. Our minds were blown by the thought that if Betelgeuse exploded we would be able to see it with our eyes, but it would have happened thousands of years ago by the time that we did. Oh, the wonder… the special, amazing world that we live in.

7) Love on other people. Today our project is drawing/painting/writing letters to our great grandparents who can’t get out. They are so happy and content making things to brighten up other people’s day! And they are NICER to each other while they do it! Focus is everything.

8) Most importantly, be nice to yourself. You are rocking this mom thing, one day at a time. Nobody else is going to do it like you do, and you won’t be Martha Stewart… give yourself and your kids GRACE. House still standing and kids all in one piece at the end of the day? It’s a win. You ARE enough.

9) Remember one little phrase: THIS TOO SHALL PASS. Write it on your mirror. Post-it notes in the kitchen. Sharpie on the back of your hand. Whatever it takes to remember that being stuck in the house is NOT permanent.

Daily: put on your makeup and get dressed like you were going out into public, even though you aren’t. Maybe try some new makeup looks. Face masks and hair treatments, fun stuff that you wouldn’t normally have time for. Do the fun stuff with your kids, my girls love doing that stuff with me. So does the baby…

He did his “minkup” himself.

So have hope, brave mamas. You WILL get through this. You will be stronger, braver, and more confident than ever. Tell me your stories.

Greatness

“Some are born great; some achieve greatness; and some have greatness thrust upon them.” -Shakespeare

Funny how disasters bring out the best AND the worst in people. Our national stage could easily be mistaken for a soap opera, with drama, finger pointing, and accusations on the one hand, and quiet resolve and grit on the other hand. But whether or not we agree with all of the tactics being used to manage this crisis in our nation, one thing is clear: it affects ALL of us.

Broadly, it affects our economy. Until very recently, “economy” in my mind was a textbook term used to describe faceless data points. But today, it affects my friends and family. My dad is a real estate agent. My friends manage craft stores, auto parts stores, hardware stores. My hero works in manufacturing. The screeching, grinding halt that we have imposed on our economy echoes through every American home- and through every home abroad. No country is left unscathed, no home untouched. Economy now is no longer faceless data points, but people that I know and love. And when the President grapples with the wisdom of keeping our country shut down for months, weighing the economic cost against the increased risk of infection… I do not envy him his job. Because people need the economy to be healthy as much as they need their bodies to be healthy.

Thankfully, my America- the one that I know and love- is not dead, nor is she asleep. The spirit that we see when a hurricane devastates a coastline, or a tornado levels a small town, or a wildfire ravages a community… that spirit is rising up across our nation. There will always be small, feeble minded individuals who decide to profit off of others’ misfortunes. But greatness is rising far faster and larger. There is great leadership being demonstrated in Washington, setting the pace for the world’s response to this virus; but there is greater leadership rising up closer to home. The police officers buying groceries for a 96-year-old man so that he doesn’t have to leave his home. The CEOs of major corporations refusing their paychecks so that they can pay their people instead of letting them go. The neighbors sending each other needed items via RC cars. This is the heart of leadership, the heart of greatness.

A neighbor just left a stack of movies on my front porch because she knew it is supposed to rain today and ALL the kids will be trapped inside.

Our pastor brought three dozen eggs over because he knows the rationing makes it difficult to get enough for our horde.

Our deacon from church brought fresh produce and canned veggies for the same reason.

We are so blessed. We are so grateful. May the greatness rising in our country linger long… may the generation that is young now be marked by a heart of service and determination, much like the Greatest Generation that was shaped by WWII. What an incredible time to be alive- what an incredible opportunity to give, love and serve.

Social distancing

So this new term has swept through our nation, alongside of the coronavirus: “social distancing”. For me, as a recovering introvert, the whole idea of a little extra distance between me and others isn’t exactly torture. But communicating that idea to my kids is another matter entirely.
For starters, we live in a smallish house with one bathroom. Social Distancing for us just means one person brushes their teeth while another person showers. By ourselves, we exceed the recommended number of people in a gathering. I know most of the sheriff’s deputies in our county so hopefully we won’t get a knock on the door ordering us to disperse…
Meetings are happening online all of a sudden, instead of face to face. Even our kids’ classes are happening through meeting apps. I think the reason this necessary distance is so difficult is that we are by nature social creatures. I sincerely hope that this virus skips our house, especially my hero and myself, because keeping the kids at a polite “social distance” would become a herculean feat. I mean, the minute I try to grab a little Mom time… read a book or drink a quiet cup of coffee… five emergencies crop up and everyone needs my attention. NOW. You moms are falling out laughing right now because you know it’s true- they sense maternal relaxation like sharks sense blood in the water, and are drawn just as inexorably to it.

I have to say, the enforced home time has been a little disorienting. We may be “homeschoolers”, but we do a heck of a lot outside our home! Choir, piano lessons, co-op classes, odd jobs for the kids, friend stuff, art stuff, church… all of that busyness has come to a grinding halt. And you know what? It is good. We actually have a garden this year, people! Like, I haven’t even THOUGHT about a garden for two years because I didn’t want to even think about making people weed and water along with all the other craziness! But now we are home and needing employment- and a garden producing fresh food is a grand idea. We also got a milk goat who is within days of kidding… one of my daughters decided that she wanted that responsibility and bought her own animal. So lactose free friendly milk will be accessible at our house soon. I guess we are just as busy as ever, but we are busy HERE. With EACH OTHER. All up in each other’s hair, but also having a blast. Picking dollarweed out of the front lawn by hand and having a competition for who can get the biggest pile. Watering plants turning into a water hose fight. Sunburns. Bumps and bruises from their rough-and-tumble play.

People, this is the reset button that we didn’t know how to hit ourselves.

Reset: our independence as a nation. We realized that we had better not keep all of our eggs in one basket when it comes to sourcing important things like… medicine and medical supplies.

Reset: family time. We might make each other crazy, but when there is NO other option for entertainment and recreation, each other starts to look a lot more appealing.

Reset: self reliance. We have always been pretty stubbornly self sufficient as a family, but now… on steroids. And the confidence that comes with knowing that we are working together to tackle an obstacle is priceless.

Reset: community. I have had more neighbors checking on us in the past week than in the last five YEARS. People are taking the time to reach out to each other. I love it. I love knowing that we are loved, and I love pouring out love to other people. What a blessed, delightful, makes-heaven-sing kind of a cycle.

Social distancing may be the order of the day on a physical interaction level, but emotional connection is happening on a vast and pervasive level. And that my friends, is a very good thing. It reminds us of what it means not just to be a cog in a great wheel of industry, but a human. A neighbor. A friend. A family. That “good ol’ days” nostalgic culture of a bygone era. Maybe, just maybe, those days aren’t as far gone as we thought.

Uncharted waters?

Unprecedented.
Uncharted waters.

These are phrases that keep cropping up in news releases, radio broadcasts, and conversations about this pandemic virus. Blame it on my somewhat suspicious nature, but every time I hear those descriptives lately they bother me.

Are we really that myopic? Is our vision so narrow and shallow? Pandemics happen. Anybody ever wonder how the flu got here? Look up the Spanish flu, 1918. The flu that we expect to rear its ugly head every year is the direct descendant/mutation of that devastating pandemic.

Now. These waters may be uncharted for our comfortable society, but ask any of our grandparents who lived through World War II. Factories switching gears and moving from making cars to respirators, from hard liquor to hand sanitizer… this is nothing new either. The American spirit rises in the face of adversity. This crisis facing all of us brings out the best- and worst- in us. Every day I read stories that bring happy tears to my eyes. Burger King is offering free meals for kids who aren’t able to get school. Texas Farm Bureau (insurance company) covered the starting bid for every single kid who raised an animal project for the fair this year, but was unable to show. Our county agents have worked tirelessly to make sure that our kids (who worked hard on their animal projects, some of them all year) were not left empty handed.
But the worst comes out too. My hero witnessed a couple of women get into a fist fight over toilet paper in their panic buying rush. One man faked a positive coronavirus test to get out of work. A Planned Parenthood worker deliberately came up to pro-life people praying outside an abortion clinic and coughed on them. No surprise that firearms and ammunition is nearly as scarce as toilet paper these days. We hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

We have faced crises before. Maybe our generation has not, on this magnitude, but if we pay attention to history we will have many profound teachers. If your grandparents are still living, call them and ask questions. See if they remember Victory gardens. Rationing. Stamps. Recycling bacon grease for making bombs. Our entire country has pulled together in one herculean effort before when our lives and the lives of our loved ones were at stake. We will do it again, and remember who we are in the process, I believe that we were losing our way, forgetting the value of independence and liberty. We are living a stark reminder of the necessity of being the captain of our own collective destiny. China threatening to cut off our access to crucial medicine? Fine. We’ll make our own. Crude oil in limited supply? Great. We can produce our own energy. Because we believe in ourselves, and we believe in each other. This will be hard. It will be heartbreaking at times. But we will get through this, and be a better nation- Under God- on the other side.

Housebound… with twelve kids.

Unless you have been under a rock lately, you are acutely aware of the virus sweeping the world. Coronavirus, COVID-19, Wuhan virus, whatever you want to call it… it is highly contagious.
My hero and I have been watching this thing since December. It brought China to its knees, marched on to South Korea, devastated Italy, humbled Iran. It is now here in the U.S., and life as we know it is changing with incredible speed. Restaurants are closing their seating areas and doing takeout only. All gatherings larger than 10 people are discouraged. Unnecessary travel or interaction is discouraged, and something called “social distancing” is encouraged to try to slow the spread of the disease. Close to home, our county fair had to be cancelled. The kids who worked all year long on their animal projects wondered what in the world they were going to do with their market animals. Classes were cancelled. We wondered how we were going to finish the school year for our credit-seeking high schoolers.

Fortunately, we are a community of solution seekers. Our county fair board decided to do an online auction to help the kids recoup some of the expense for their animals. Video conferencing is replacing in person lectures for our high schoolers. My biology students are in the living room right now, using Zoom to interact with their class. Life goes on.

On the sanity side… at home, twelve kids, little to no options for getting out. What is a mama to do? Firstly and foremostly, we held a NOW HEAR THIS assembly. In this meeting, all of the kids were put on notice. Fighting and picking on each other will be dealt with swiftly and severely. We can’t get away from each other, so we MUST get along. People fighting will be warned once, then grounded to their beds for the rest of the day if they continue. We also planted a garden which requires the whole family to work in it. We bought day old chicks, which require lots of care. Our mama goats had babies yesterday… a result of excellent planning on my part, obviously. Six babies born to two mamas so far, one more to go. Board games, puzzles, wildflowers, worms, laundry, deep cleaning, building projects, fencing projects, rebuilding old cars… we have plenty to keep us busy. And Mom is blogging again. There has been little time for that this past year, but now with travel being restricted along with kids lessons and activities restricted, here I am again. I will probably have time to post our madness… and I would love to hear your coping ideas for being at home with kids. Stay healthy, my friends-

I’m alive! …….barely.

It has been a while since I blogged. Many factors have contributed to my silence, all of which were growing opportunities… my question is, why are “opportunities for growth” always so challenging? Why can’t we happily, easily blossom into incredibly strong, beautiful individuals? Laws of nature, or something. I guess. But that musing brings me to my latest, greatest. and most relatable challenge for all you Parents of Teens out there: driver’s ed.
Oh yes. I have two (count them….TWO) young people earning their wheels at this point in time. The next time you see me, my hair will be entirely white and my face will be frozen into an expression halfway between a pleasant, controlled smile and panic. The two drivers couldn’t be more different in their temperaments, which translates into completely different panic modes for Mom when they are driving. One is very confident. VERY. CONFIDENT. The thought that that great big semi truck can HIT YOU AND KILL YOU just never crosses the horizon. That kid likes the gas pedal and takes a little while to find the brake… we will find out soon if it is possible to *actually* stomp a hole through the floor board of a car. On the passenger side. Where the brake isn’t.
The other driver is very cautious. VERY. CAUTIOUS. I WISH that kid would find the gas pedal. Especially in the middle of intersections where we have the right of way, and the people behind us are honking because there is no stop sign but we are stopping and pondering our next move. I have discovered a wonderful thing, though: car magnets that say “New driver. Please be patient” Free plug for Amazon, check them out if you are teaching a fledgling driver.
I was having a mom chat with a friend of mine whose daughter is in a similar stage of life, and we decided. The toddler years were exhausting and mind numbingly repetitive. They were cake compared to this. Preparing to launch young adults into the world is a daunting task, not for the faint of heart. And this is the era that my hero and I are facing. In a year and a half, our oldests will be 18. One is determined that he will move out on his 18th birthday. We haven’t been able to fully communicate what ‘adulting’ will require… rent, utilities, food, gas, insurance, being on time, cleaning up after yourself, being responsible with your stuff.. you know. The things. He hears us talk, but I know reality isn’t going to set in until he actually has to DO it. Our other oldest isn’t quite so eager to be a grownup. She understands that she lives a subsidized life, and appreciates it. We might have to give that one a slight push to leave the nest.
Not that we are eager for either one to take on the world. It is an increasingly dangerous and unforgiving environment out there. We have a year and a half to equip these arrows to fly from our quiver. So here we go, charging that hill with our sense of humor mostly intact. Oo-rah.

For better or for worse, in the shop and out…

Well, maybe those weren’t our EXACT wedding vows. But lately a plague has visited the vehicles of our house. It started a month ago with my hero and I on a trip home from the airport. Our flight had landed at midnight and we were halfway through our two hour drive home when out of the inky blackness, two deer appeared in the highway- right in front of us. We missed the doe. The buck took out the front of our Suburban pretty handsomely. My hero pulled off the highway into the grass, muttering choice words about the buck’s parentage. Steam was spewing from the punctured radiator, and our front bumper dragged on the wheel. We weren’t going anywhere real soon. We turned on our hazard lights and went back to find the deer- he was in bad shape. On the other side of the highway I heard a lone eighteen wheeler hitting his Jake brake, slowing down as fast as he could. I idly wondered if he saw us in tbe dark… was stopping to help? Then another pickup with four guys stopped and all of them got out screaming “Fire! Fire!”

Fire? Where?

Oh crud. That orange glow on tbe front of the disabled Suburban was NOT the emergency flashers. The front of it was in flames, and the drought- seared grasses that we were parked in were already burning. My hero and I sprinted back to the Suburban, he grabbed a soda he had been drinking and doused the fire ON the truck, while I snatched a gallon of water out of the back and took care of the grass. The four helpful guys had continued to yell “Fire! Fire!” “Get away from there, it’s gonna blow up!”

We studiously ignored them. Took care of business. Because we were NOT going to be responsible for the next round of wildfires that wiped out Central Texas. Well. The fire department and police showed up as soon as the fire was out, and one officer stayed with us the entire four hours it took a tow truck to find us, out there in the middle of nowhere. Hats off to those guys who take their oath to “serve and protect” so seriously. We made a friend that night.

Once the Suburban was towed home, my hero switched to driving my Expedition as his commuter car. Which was great, until the brakes went out. A week later. He changed them in our driveway, because he is awesome like that.

Four days later, I drove our bus to a meeting in town. When I came out of the restaurant, it didn’t want to start. At all. After trying to rescue me and being unsuccessful in starting the bus, my hero decided we should call a tow truck. But by this time it was 11:00pm so we did it the next day. The shop said it was the fuel pump. 48 hours later we were on the road again.

While the bus was gone I was driving our old farm truck. Nearly t-boned someone in an intersection when the brakes AND power steering went out as I was trying to turn… That was exciting. There may or may not have been a zebra stripe in my underwear  once the power steering kicked in again… so we have an intermittent hiccup with that truck. It decides when it wants the brakes and power steering to work.

So after this saga, my dear hero decided that we needed a reliable, fuel economical car to save money. I concurred. We bought a used diesel VW Jetta, cars that fairly routinely go 450k miles. Drove home the 60 miles like a dream. The next morning we took it into town for an appointment,  and when we were done… it wouldn’t start. At all. Had THAT car towed into the shop. Turns out it needed a new starter AND a new engine head. Fabulous.

I am seriously considering switching my main mode of transportation.  After our luck with vehicles lately, I’m thinking maybe horse and buggy. Do those come in 15-passenger?

The Care and Keeping of a Marine

Congratulations on your newly acquired Marine. This model will provide many years of fun, protection, and enjoyment if treated properly. Please follow these instructions; any failure to do so will void your warranty and may result in a malfunction of your individual Marine unit. 
1) Never ever disrespect the Marine Corps, its origins, motto, etc. No matter how much your Marine may complain about the time spent or the hardships endured in the Corps, they have a fierce loyalty to their “brothers” and the fire that forged them into what they are. Disrespect or disregard for this important aspect of your Marine may cause a short circuit in the unit. 

2) Some level of addiction to weapons, esp. firearms, is normal. Do not be alarmed if your Marine occasionally expresses a need to shoot something. If participation in this behavior is not your thing, make arrangements for him to do so without eye rolling or fussing. It’s a normal part of your Marine’s functioning- don’t fight it.

3) Under no circumstances should you try to give him orders or tell him what to do. These units are very sensitive to respect, and a lack thereof may cause a major malfunction or even complete shutdown of the unit. 

4) Every individual unit has the same “born on” date: November 10, 1775. This is important. Put a reminder in your calendar and do not forget. A favorite dessert is in order, along with a high degree of sensitivity- if your Marine has lost some of his brothers to combat or other tragedy, this is a bittersweet day for him. Just love on him.

5) Colorful language comes standard. Most will try to speak politely while in the company of women or children, but it slips out when emphasis is required or under stress.  It is what it is.

6) Marines are confident, to the point of cockiness. They walk and talk like they are the baddest, toughest things on God’s green earth because… well, they are. Any attempt to challenge their supremacy will result in swift correction of any misconceptions about their abilities.

7) A Marine is NOT a soldier. Soldiers are in the Army (also lovingly referred to as ‘Army pukes’). Marines are very proud to have earned the title “Marine”, and they do not surrender that title upon resignation from the Corps. There are no “ex-Marines”, no “former Marines”. They aren’t born Marines- they are forged by pain and duress, and they will die Marines.

These individual units are designed to be fully operational on their own, but they function best as part of a team. They DO NOT NEED A MOMMY. They need a partner, someone who is also fully operational solo, but chooses to integrate with them. There is no better friend- and no worse enemy- than a United States Marine. 

Glossary of terms and phrases:

  • Devil Dog/ Teufel hunden- an affectionate nickname given to the Marines in the Battle of Belleau Wood in 1918 (WWI). The nickname was bestowed upon them by the German army whose butts they kicked soundly… the Germans thought the hounds of hell had been unleashed upon them when the Marines showed up.
  • Jarhead- nickname referring to the stiff white collar of their uniform. 
  • Leatherneck- see above
  • “Oo-RAH!”- the literal translation is ‘to kill’, but is generally used by Marines to express excitement, approval, or motivation.
  • Semper fidelis- the Marine Corps motto. The Latin phrase means “always faithful”. A true Marine will never betray their brother or their country. They tend to carry long grudges against the enemy (whoever that happens to be) and have a short fuse when provoked by the same. 
  • Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome- the unofficial motto of the USMC. Marines tend to be very tenacious in accomplishing their objective, and very creative in surmounting obstacles. Don’t be one of those obstacles. It won’t end well.

War and Peace

Few roller coasters are as exciting as the hormonal ones. And with three teen boys and four girls in puberty and beyond, we get to ride that up-and-down adventure daily. Wow. Did you know that someone sitting in a chair you occupied fifteen minutes previous warranted a meltdown? Now you do. Oh, and it is fine for you to spit water on other people, but the minute someone spits water back at you, it’s grounds for bodily harm. All the training we did when they were toddlers is getting a refresher lately. 😲

But on the other hand, teenage children are da bomb. I can assign one to cook dinner and know that it will be done AND edible. Another can mow the yard and it will look beautiful when they are finished. The animal care is all their responsibility; and they are truly wonderful babysitters for their small siblings when needed. 

This has been a bittersweet time for my hero and me. Realizing that our babies are no longer babies, but young adults needing to stretch their wings… I will neither confirm not deny that there may have been some sniffles and tears on both our parts. Our oldest two are working hard; one is a construction helper and the other is waiting tables. Our next two have smaller jobs; one works as a mother’s helper and the other builds lawn furniture and sells it. Drivers licenses are looming large in our future. 

Part of me misses the days when they were small. A BIG part of me is so over having a young person tell me that I don’t know how the world works (not in so many words, but if you have ever debated someone less than half your age who knows more than you do, well…. you get it.) And an ever increasingly large part of me is excited. I am watching the unfolding of some seriously stellar individuals. They are demonstrating a solid work ethic, a kind and generous disposition, and a sense of team work that will serve them well in life. 

Right now I have many seasons of parenting going on simultaneously. Hurricane Baby promises to live up to the circumstances of his arrival… his daddy calls him a perpetual motion machine. Even if I am holding him and he is watching the others play, he is kicking and squealing- he is walking with help, and as his daddy says, he’s “a going concern”. Whatever that  means. But it seems to fit. He is learning the meaning of “No, don’t touch”… and as the youngest of twelve, is fully capable of holding his own against older siblings. Yesterday his brother took a toy away from him, so he screeched and bit him back. Ahem. Hard not to laugh… the older one had earned it, after all. But I am getting a refresher course in baby training  and chasing. It’s been a while. Then we have the tooth losing group… tooth fairy payouts are going to break the bank, lately. The tooth losers are also the most intense as far as schooling goes; LOTS of repetition, but so much fun to watch the lights come on. The tweens… whoa. Going to take out stock in a deodorant company. We will be using truckloads for the forseeable future. Also considering starting a drama company, with these as my primary actors. And of course the training and guidance that goes into mentoring our teens into independence is a new adventure… my dad used to say that  his task was to work himself out of a job when it came to parenting. We are figuring out how to do that. Learning to not be needed, but building a relationship with our young people so strong that we are valued long after we are needed- that is our task. You can pray for us if you think of it; I think this may be our most challenging season yet.

In admiration of Dads

It has been a while since I posted. Three of my oldest children are now gainfully employed, but not yet driving… which keeps Momma’s Taxi Service in constant swing. Baby is trying to walk and giving me more gray hairs, summer schooling has relaxed our schedule aMomapmpmMomapmpmommpItle, at least school-wise- socially we are going and doing more than ever.
Today, though, I was 301 W. LOUIS HENNA BLVD.
AUSTIN, TX 78728 about my hero aqndlio the difference that he has made. Not just in our lives, but in the lives of countless others. He exemplifies the selfless leader to his core. His Marines knew that he was tough, but fair; he had to bust one for bad conduct, but he was also that Marine’s advocate. With his friends, they all know that he is as faithful and dependable as the day is long. If you need something, he will be there. His co-workers can trust that he will pull his weight on his shift and then some, making sure that the shift following him is taken care of too. Everyone that knows him understands that he is a man of his word- his work ethic is second to none- and he makes THE best hamburgers. Ever.

I don’t know how a man like this ended up in my life, but I am so very thankful. Because he just lives, and leads, and our boys are watching. They see him go to work tired, and come home more tired, but with a smile on his face- providing for the family that he loves. They are learning to take care of others first by watching their dad. They see him make crazy science projects with them (they just made a vortex cannon that shoots smoke rings out of a paper drum and bungee cords). They are learning to be creative and that school doesn’t have to be boring! They see him treat me with more love and respect than I deserve- and they are learning the secret to a happy, healthy marriage.

The most dramatic thing I have observed over the past three years is the difference in my blue eyed boys. The father in their lives before was an angry, impossible-to-please figure. They modeled that behavior on varying levels, according to their age and maturity. But this past month, I realized that they are modeling a different set of behaviors. My thirteen year old blue eyed boy is serving the family by doing his chores just because it is his job- not because I hound him or because he will be punished, but because that is what he is supposed to do. Wonder where he gets that? My eleven year old blue eyed boy is fascinated by science and how things work. Looks an awful lot like someone I know and respect. My eight year old blue eyed boy wants nothing more than to be a Marine when he grows up. And that little guy can work harder and longer than his big brothers, he is just limited by his size. Again, modeling what he sees in his daddy.

Men, please never underestimate your worth to your family. The weight of your position is impossible to gauge. Moms get lots of recognition and gifts and attention on Mother’s Day, and sometimes it feels like Father’s Day is an afterthought. But the family unit was designed to be led by a team; neither half more valuable than the other, but one half bearing the weight of leadership, and the other the burden of nurturing and managing. The head and the heart. Ever notice that both of those are things you can’t do without? You don’t live long without either one. And for those of us who have done or are doing both jobs by ourselves- there is special grace. I think that God makes special provision for circumstances that are less than ideal, and for that I am thankful. But having been both mom and dad for a while, I see even more clearly how vital the dad’s role is in our home. As a single mom, I knew that I couldn’t teach my boys how to be men. That is a skill set that only comes from watching and observing and participating… with men. My hero is exactly that- a hero- to me and to our boys, because he leads our home by example. He is harder on himself than on anyone else, and serves and gives better than anyone else. That servant leadership is what enables him to leap tall buildings in a single bound, at least in our eyes.

Today is Father’s Day. One day out of the hundreds every year that these selfless men quietly and unassumingly go about the enormous task of saving the world- one family at a time. May your service and your sacrifice- and your incredible importance- never be taken for granted. Thank you for everything you do.