Thursday, April 12, 2012

Daddy Doesn't Jump

I can say, with all honesty, that my children are amazing, not perfect, but amazing. They are helpful, kind, thoughtful, and loving; and, with the exception of our occasional Jonah and the Whale type days, I hardly ever have to raise my voice at them. 

However, I have recently learned that despite my compliments to my children, I have still been selling them short. They are even more brilliant than I realized. You see, at the young ages of 4 and 2 (almost 3) they have learned how to work the system, and Mommy has a system.

It's no secret, I like things done a certain way. I try to include the kids in work around the house, but it normally only creates more work for me while I have to undo all the "chores" they have done. About a year ago, I felt it was important that they begin learning how to make their own beds. I started with Elijah, the oldest, teaching him how to pull up his blankets, and put his pillows and animals all on the bed. He had seen me do it hundreds of times, and he seemed eager to learn. Great! Easy Peasy. He was eager for maybe the first week, but then he grew anxious to get to his toys and play with his sister. Plus there was an added bonus. He knew that on bath mornings, Mommy would make the beds while they splashed in the tub, just to save time, and he couldn't help but notice how quickly it got done when Mommy did it.

Then there was the matter of getting pajamas on. We began allowing the children to get themselves ready for bed, at least for the most part. At first they were both very excited about doing it themselves. Oh the buttons and zippers are endless fun! Then it occurred to them what exactly this little night time ritual meant. It meant bedtime. For the most part I would get them ready for bed, or do the prompting anyway, while Jelani had school work to finish up or studying to do. Occasionally though, there would be a night when Jelani would take over, and I couldn't help but notice how quickly things got done.

Similarly, the mornings that Jelani has tended to them, the beds have been made without hesitation.

It didn't make sense.

Dinners without Daddy usually meant me prompting every bite.

"Take a bite."
"Sit still."
"Don't play with your fork."
"Don't yell at the table!"
 There are many times I just get sick of sitting at the table, and I begin shoveling the food into their mouths for them, just so we can all just leave the dining room for goodness sake!

But with Daddy, dinners always go much more smoothly. Less squirming and chatter; more chewing.

Last night, I told the kids to get ready for bed. They whined about it, but slowly headed off to their room to change. After half a dozen yells from them to me about one thing or another, I went in there to find Elijah with an unbuttoned pajama top, and Chastity with her arms in her one-piece, footie pajamas, but with the legs of the pjs flying behind her as she ran down the hall screaming, "I need help!" I had had enough! I looked right at them, and in my toughest mommy voice, yelled "Why is it that when I ask you to do something, you suddenly can't remember how to do it? Something Daddy has you do by yourselves in 5 minutes, won't get done without my help in less than 10!"

In a matter of seconds, I realized that they can make their own beds, and in a timely fashion. They can dress themselves; also in a timely fashion. They can feed themselves; a timely fashion.

They just looked confused (or caught), and I had answered my own question.

When Mommy says "Jump," they whine that they don't know how to, until Mommy finally just jumps for them so that it gets done.

When Daddy says "Jump," they say "How high?" Daddy doesn't jump.

The trick is being more stubborn than the kids, and Mommy thinks she likes Daddy's system better. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Break Through

So far this Easter has been unlike any other, and it doesn't make any sense except that Jesus has purposely made it that way.

First of all, we all know the story of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. Even if you're not a Christian, chances are, you've heard it. It's an amazing story, but one which I've always distanced myself from.


I am the queen of the scaredy cats. I hate horror movies, anything graphic or gory, and basically anything that makes me uncomfortable. The story of that selfless act of Jesus is all of the above.

Many have seen The Passion of the Christ movie that came out around Easter in 2004. Many lives were forever changed because of that movie and it's graphic depiction of how Jesus laid down His life for us. I sat watching it and tried to force myself to cry. Grown men all around me were sobbing, people of all ages were having these incredible revelations and couldn't control their emotions, and I felt it was only appropriate that I squeeze out a few tears for this God that I love and serve. I had distanced myself from the story as if my dad were trying to read it to me on a road trip while I quietly slid on my headphones, which had become a reoccurring Easter tradition for us while I was playing travel basketball as a teen. I did not want to hear it. And in the years since Mel Gibson's hit, I have actually refused to watch The Passion again on every occasion offered.

How uncomfortable a thought it is think that some stranger, seemingly, would go through so much pain for the likes of me? Would I do that for my children? I love them more than anything in this world. I would die for them, but I would exhaust every and all other options before I would willingly submit myself to that kind of pain, torture, and suffering to save them. I would organize an elaborate escape, complete with disguises and deception, and we would make a run for it to some deserted island somewhere. I would likely kill anyone who tried to harm us along the way. It would make a wonderful, and thrilling "based on a true story" book, which would later be turned into a movie staring the beautiful daughter of Meryl Streep, Mamie Gummer, but I digress. What does all of that make me? Human. Jesus did not run, He did not kill anyone who tried to harm him. He didn't even squirm or fight them as they nailed his wrists to the cross. Biblical historians believe that even Gibson's theatrical depiction of Christ's suffering still didn't come close to the true horror which was His death. It could have rivaled anything you've seen in any horror movie, and likely (I know in my case) would have induced vomit.

This Easter, God has opened my eyes and allowed me to fully understand and receive this blessing; this incredible gift that I have the choice to refuse, but that which I can never, ever repay. How do I know that? Well, if I just told you how emotional I've been just thinking about it, or how nauseous I became after listening to a radio broadcast about it, you might say, "Of course! You're pregnant!" And I would laugh and somewhat agree. However, I have been pregnant at Easter two other times. This is my third hormone raging Easter, and it is still like no other. Yesterday, in the car, I heard men talking about Christ's crucifixion on the radio. They talked about how it's believed the nails were actually hammered through the wrists and not the hands. The major arteries and nerves there would have caused shattering pain that I didn't think I was even capable of imagining. But while I was listening to this description I became nauseous...very nauseous. I imagined, for an instant, that kind of pain. My weak flesh would have passed out and died with the first wrist! I thought I was going to have to ask Jelani to pull the car over, I was feeling so sick. He asked what was wrong, and when I told him, he promptly changed the radio station.

He meant well, and that was a very husbandly, sensitive thing to do for his pregnant wife, but something in me, nauseous as I was, did not want to run from the discomfort. I replied with as much strength as I could muster, and a somewhat embarrassed chuckle, "It is a very small discomfort to bear, Jelani."

He laughed and we imagined that Jesus was watching me, saying, "Really? A little nauseous? REALLY?"

Through the emotions and the nausea and the chaos of the holiday, Jesus is showing me what it's about, and guiding me in what to really care about. I did not go shopping to fill Easter baskets this year. I bought some candy, but other than that, the kids are getting one homemade gift each. I made catastrophic mistakes and messes in the kitchen today in preparation for Easter dinner tomorrow that stressed me out, nearly to tears. The bread wouldn't rise, and then wouldn't bake. It tasted like hot, raw dough. The chocolate frosting would not get thick enough, and kept dripping down my cake. The counters were covered in dirty dishes, flour, powdered sugar, and splatterings of chocolate frosting from a mixing accident. To top it all off, I gave myself mild food poisoning with one lick of cake batter, and wasn't feeling up to the challenge of the mess. My incredible husband didn't bat an eye. He told me to sit down while he cleaned it up.

How blessed am I? Jesus cleanses me from sin. He went through pain that I can't even fully comprehend so that I may enter into Heaven.

Then, after He'd done it all; given the gift that can never be topped, He had it in mind to give me a husband who spends two hours in the kitchen cleaning up after me...cleansing me from my own disasters.

I will stop coasting and step out of my comfort zone any time to see how I have been blessed. The view is much clearer on this side. :)

I am very blessed indeed.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Fashion Train Wrecked Pregnancy

It is my personal opinion that the designers of all maternity clothes have never worn their own clothes, never been pregnant at all, or possibly don't have the right parts to ever get pregnant. Thus, my month long writer's block has been lifted by my crabby, mommy complaints.

I'm not even sure where to begin here, but let's start with the sizes, shall we? Everything you've ever read will tell you that you should stick to the same sizes you wear normally, but apply them to maternity clothes. Sure, that might work for some gals, for the lucky, blessed, not-quite-human, gals who don't get bigger anywhere but the mid-section. Good for them. The special gals, like myself, get bigger everywhere from head to toe. My socks don't even fit me normally right now, and I'm only 21 weeks along. So no, the same size rule does not apply to me. I'm normally a 10/12 or M/L. During pregnancy I become a 14/16 and a L/XL. Next.

To piggy back on that just a bit, do clothing companies realize that when an XL shirt is needed it is not needed for the neckline or the sleeves? Just because I need an XL does not mean I need the neckline to go halfway down my back and front, and the sleeves to go halfway down my sides, causing me to showcase more of my extra large self. Next.

I am on my third pregnancy and I have yet to find a pair of maternity jeans that don't slide down. I don't want to be that mom who goes everywhere in sweats. It makes me feel sloppy and lazy, but sweatpants are the only pants that I don't have to pull up every two minutes. Maternity pants don't just slide down either. Noooo. Maternity pants will take your underwear with them. So, congratulations. You're not the sloppy mom in sweatpants. You are the disgusting mom who has to reach down her pants to pull everything back up. I've tried them all; the pants you wear below the belly, and the pants with the belly band sewn into them to cover the belly. The latter are the absolute worst. They'll slide down, taking your underwear too of course, and then you can't pull them up without going under your shirt too. Now you've graduated to the mom who has to go under her shirt and down her pants to keep her clothes on. Isn't that a beautiful thing? What is so hard about putting the waistband of sweatpants on maternity pants? Maybe it looks weird, and maybe the protruding drawstring is an eye sore, but at least you're not digging down your pants for your underwear. Next.

Who in the world thinks that horizontal stripes are perfect for pregnant women???? I had this issue last summer when I went shopping after I had lost weight. I think very few people can pull off horizontal stripes, pregnant or not, but they were apparently the trend then, and I guess they still are. Last week my mom took me shopping for new maternity clothes. Nearly ever rack had horizontal stripes on it, because that's exactly what I'm looking for. I was hoping to have stripes stretched out over my growing belly like an ill advised tattoo.

We don't all have the money of celebrities to have our maternity clothes tailored to fit our bodies, so I guess I will suffer through. In the meantime, just turn away if you see me reach for my pants, but by all means, let me know if my neckline has fallen down to my belly. Thanks.