Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Jared's Little Brother

This Sunday in church, Clint and I had a foretaste of what it will be like when we're once more parents of an only child. Jonah was out of town with his cousins (thanks, Ric and Katie!), and Lauren was acolyting, so we just had Jared in the pew between us. Kinda cozy.
Jared was quietly drawing a happy eight-legged monster for the first part of the service, but he must have started to feel lonely because suddenly, he set the monster aside just as he was adding a lurid dollop of earwax and turned to a blank piece of paper.
Quickly, he sketched a head and two round ears, then he added a body and the limbs. "What are you drawing now," I asked, "a monkey?"
He looked at me, exasperated. "No, mom," he replied. "It's my new brother."

When you consider just how much a parent's education and imagination are clearly lacking, it's surprising there aren't more toddler uprisings.
So anyway, I am pleased to present the newest addition to our family. His name is Junior (which you can read on his hat, if you'd like. I wrote that for Jared; his super-fine motor skills aren't capable of such tiny letters yet). He might look somewhat simian, but he is most definitely human, as Jared will strongly insist. He is still pretty young, thus the orange bottle on his left, full of milk. He likes his toy rattle (which is, clearly, on his right) and he's eager to open his present (to his far left), which, you may be able to see, is a teddy bear under the red wrapping. He also has a pet ladybug which is flying overhead. His name is Charles. And in case you don't realize how much value we place on safety, you should recognize that Junior is sitting in a five-point harness car seat.
Junior was quiet in church, which made me happy, and he doesn't eat much, which makes Daddy happy. He's hanging out on our fridge currently, so feel free to stop by for a visit if you'd like to meet him. His personality is a little flat, but I think that he's far more interesting than one might expect, considering his close relation to the great apes (don't tell Jared I said that) and the fact that he was fully formed in under twenty minutes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Evil Genius

There is an insidious plot, I fear, afoot. It starts so innocently:

You walk down the driveway to your mailbox, skipping a little because it's such a nice day. The forsythia is a golden haze, and that bush you love--the one with the pink flowers--is bursting with color. You marvel at the variety of green God created: the bold green of grass, the dark green of lilac leaves, the tender green of new leaves. You want to roll around in all of that green, to breathe it in and absorb it, but then you remember you're on a mission: you're supposed to be getting the mail, not cavorting in the new grass like a winter-crazed wood-nymph. (Although, honestly, you do feel quite nymphish indeed.)

You open the mailbox, grateful that it is early spring and the ants have not yet begun to nest in it and produce their tiny, wriggling white larvae. When that happens, of course, it's time to send the children out for the mail, for no self-respecting nymph-like mother ever stretches her hand into dark depths crawling with maggots. Nymphs may love nature, but nobody loves maggots.

What you find in your mailbox sends all blissful thoughts of spring skittering from your brain. This thing you pull from the mailbox, innocently nestled between a bill for your daughter's braces and an envelope containing a plea for a charitable donation is the full-color, slippery-paged advertisement for That Store.

You know That Store, right? The one with unbelievable sale racks? The one where you can find a birdcage necklace--with a little twirling teal bird inside? Yes, that store. And of course, the advertisment has a sticker you can peel back to reveal your savings. Of course it's tantalizing. You just may be the lucky winner of a Thirty Percent Off Coupon.

You wait until you get into the house to peel back the sticker, with each step now blind to the glory around you as you think about your son's math homework from last night in which you helped him figure out questions about probability (okay, truth time: you told him to look back at the lesson and figure it out for himself. Teach a man to fish, right?) But you're thinking about probability nonetheless and wondering what might be the probability that you'll land the Big Three-Oh.

Inside your house, all is dim, the sunlight itself seeming to have hidden its eyes in anticipation. Slowly, you slip your fingernail under the edge and then begin to lift the sticker. Then you pause. Maybe you don't want the 30 after all. For if you get it, you'll feel obliged to at least go to the store and check the sale racks. 30% off something that's already marked down 70%? It's practically free! How can you not go? But if you only get a 15, then maybe you won't feel any compulsion at all. If you only get a 15, then you can stay home, oblivious to any possible sales, convincing yourself that they probably weren't that good anyway. You will save money! Saving money is good!

You lift the sticker, hoping now, desperately hoping not to get a 30. You're lifting from the right, so the first digit you spy is a "0." Could be a 20, you whisper. I can stay home with a 20. I won't get sucked in with a 20. You shut your eyes and tear off the rest of the sticker, a painless rip like your mother used to do with band-aids on your skinned knees.

What you see is not painless at all.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Today in church, our pastor talked about how mothers make a sacrifice that is almost divine when they give freely of themselves for their children. He likened this sacrifice of a mother's soul to a burnt offering that, when laid freely upon the altar of motherhood, is instantly consumed by a divine fire and that the smoke then lifts up to heaven where its divine essence brings pleasure to God, Who knows most intimately the burden and delight such a sacrifice brings.

On this day, as I spend pleasant hours with my husband and children, I would like to honor my own mother, a woman whose sacrifice of self has been such a blessing in my life, and indeed to every life she has touched.

Mom, from the first moment I became cognizant of your beauty and your grace, I have loved you and sought to become more like you. You are the measure by which I judge myself, the pattern by which I seek to make myself. Thank you for showing all of us how mothering should be done.

From you, I have learned what grace I have. From you, I have learned the importance of selflessness, the value of a long hug, and the necessity of patience. Because of you, my own children have the benefit of knowing a mother who was cast (imperfectly) in your mold.

And as I teach them the things you taught me, I hope to impart a sense of your greatness in their lives so that your legacy will live on and on.

Thank you, mom, for being who you are and for making me who I am. I love you.