Saturday, January 24, 2009

At Home with a Super-Mom

Yes, there is more about the wedding, but later. (Is it just me, or does that lily look...particularly matrimonial?) It takes a while to process. Today: True Confessions of a Reformed Super-Mom.
When I was the mother of young children, babes indeed, I was all about the outings. There were Bible studies, and volunteer work, and actually working, and going to the museums and the parks and the walks, and exercise class (I know, it's a distant memory, but I did) and the birthday parties, and then more Bible Study .. and the practices, and the....bleh, bleh, bleh - all that good-mother stuff I did. . . and did I mention the Women's groups and Bible studies?...and the whatevers I could find to get out of the house? I was all about the outings.
I lived life fast-paced, and interesting, and challenging, and super-charged and way cool and the pace of our life was frantic. I was frantic. Also busy, and so very proud of myself for how much I could get accomplished with all these babies around me. Rock-star in the mothering world. Ask anybody. Ok, maybe not. I was probably scary in my Rock-starness.
Also, I didn't so much like to be alone with myself, and my thoughts, and even our children. They were scary. What if something happened that I couldn't manage? Would I be a failure?

A wise mother of children older than ours asked me "WHY?" Also she was brave. Because I knew so much about mothering and was I so damn COMPETENT, I cannot imagine how anyone dared to challenge me. Our children spent more time with the church nursery ladies and the exercise nursery ladies and the Bible study nursery ladies than they spent with me. To this day, The Sophisticate and BigB take great pleasure in talking about all the many, many nights - even hundreds of nights - they had to eat a frozen TV dinner (the kind with the little square portion of corn, because fast food would have been a sign of bad-mothering) and then go to the exercise nursery. They speak as if it were some kind of torture. And I thought they were having FUN, with nursery toys, and an ever-changing cast of caregivers.Also, I had some chronically cranky children who didn't really know how to entertain themselves at home. (Yikes). Why would they? I was busy entertaining them. Or paying someone else to entertain them while I entertained myself. Watch out.I got them out of the house because I wanted to be out of the house. I also wanted to keep the house neat and orderly, as a sign of my competence. With them there, then they made a mess, which had to be cleaned up. I also didn't like being imprisoned with our little ones.

One day, our wise big boy (who was probably all of 4) said - "Mom, can't we go somewhere to play, only it's home all day?" His sister had been expressing that for days by refusing to cooperate with getting dressed, (i.e., she didn't want to wear the really cute outfit with matching panties, but instead wanted to wear pajamas all day, preferably accessorized with an unfortunate pink vinyl belt) and arching her back when it was time to get in the carseat. Competent, I tell you.

So, eventually I listened, since they always tell you exactly what they need. I did just as LittleKidB suggested - I designated a day at home all day, no outings, no errands, no Bible Study. A day at home every week. It seemed blasphemous and ungodly, but I did it anyway. I wish I could remember how it happened, and I am sure I could make up a dramatic story that would bring tears to my eyes, but honestly, I have no idea what pushed me over the edge. I had to be pushed over the edge to stay home. Contemplate that.
What I found out is that they really wanted to be home and just piddling around home without interruption, without me directing every minute. They didn't want to be interrupted in the middle of playing "boats in bubbles" in the tub, or fashioning frozen dinners out of Play-Doh simply because I was ready to go somewhere! And pajamas all day, with or without accessories are fun too. Actually more fun than the exercise nursery.

So - I learned to give them a day at home at least once a week. It became Tuesday. When my other two babies came along, my Bigs were in school, so we still did a lot of running - but I tried to give them at least a couple of mornings and afternoons that were ONLY interrupted when it was time to go pick up the sibs from school. It made me a better mother, and our children more calm. Also, me, I got more calm. My house got messy. We have since progressed to dirty. There's always a trade-off.Fast forward to the NOW - our older two children, who I trundled all over and kept all of us busy with entertainment and excitement and stimulation - those two want to go OUT all the time, and consider themselves boring social misfits if they aren't going OUT. OUT somewhere.
My younger ones - the ones who didn't have to do all that crap (due to my frantic-ness) . . .have an easier time entertaining themselves - and seem to be able to pick the outings that are right for them. They decide when to go out,
but don't hesitate to stay home. And make pies. For me.I cannot attribute it completely to what we did when they were small -because much is due to inherent temperament and personality, but I can't help but wonder (Oh, how I long to be Carrie....) if I taught them in those wee years that home was NOT a fun place to be, and that we needed to be GOING to be doing something important.
It's hard to know why, but our Young Son and PPP seem to be content at home, when it's home-time. The Sophisticate and BigB? They have had to learn how to be alone with themselves and to be content with 'finding something to do.' Did they learn that from watching me?

ME? Today? I'm agoraphobic. Totally.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


At its best, a wedding is a family gathering to celebrate an authentic love story. As a totally glamorous event planner, I find myself a lot with families as they gather. This one - Wedding-pa-looza.
It's always a sprawling, evolving, passionate story that unfolds, hitches and glitches and all. This one - all that and more.
Whole multi-generational sets of relatives come along. And then there are the friends for all those generations: bride's friends, groom's friends, parents' friends, friends abound - plus dates or spouses and children and cousins. Lots of different people come to the table, so to speak.Or in the case of this delightfully celebratory wedding, they started in May.And came to the tables over and over again. It was kind of like a marathon. Kind of. Not exactly. The Lovely Bride has a close family that is spread out from coast to coast.
They drove in, they flew in - they would have walked to the family celebration.
The Lovely Bride's friends from childhood . . . . . . and beyond! Parents have their own set of friends, associates, relations . . . . . hired hands, all here to celebrate with the Lovely Bride and her family.
Chilly is the Groom. Does that make this a Chilly-pa-looza? Add ImageHis parents bring two GINORMOUS families.They ALL came to the wedding. For real. There could have been entire zip codes left unpopulated for a couple of days. Trust me, I had the list.
I'm pretty sure there was a representative of every single twig on his family tree. And their friends. They came together to eat, drink and be merry. And then, when that session was over, they retired to their hotels and ate, drank and made merry some more. Then they got up and did it all again. Four days - that's stamina. I meant to say devotion, but what's one without the other? With the first party back in May, we realized that Chilly's family-and-friends-extravaganza moves in a large ever evolving group . . .. . . whatever the party. Much like a big flock of birds that lands in the yard and on every branch of every tree, fluttering and chattering away. At some unspoken signal, they all leave together, with great flourish. Whatever they do, they do it en masse.
It would be sad if all families do is eat and drink. They do way more than that. They take pictures, and they pose for pictures. And I think they took pictures of themselves taking pictures. Or maybe I did that. Note to readers: I know I'm not a photographer. But I bet you're looking for yourself, blurry or not. Just saying.
These families are world class laughers. I never wondered if they were laughing AT somebody (like me), they were laughing together. With absolute, unqualified joy. Joy in the morning, as it were.
There is no shortage of hugging, which is an awesome way to greet someone you haven't seen in a while. Or to greet someone you saw about an hour ago. Either way, hugs are in order. Unless someone hugs you with a full drink in hand, and then that drink is spilled down the back of your shirt. But it happened only maybe once. But still.
Indeed, these celebrating families and friends love to talk, even to people they may not know. They aren't at all shy about sharing the love. As a group, they'll pretty much engage anyone who happens by. In Chilly's family, I'm not sure whether or not they all know who is part of whose family or not part of the family or the Lovely Bride's family, or even maybe is a delivery person or a passer-by. They roll with it. Or watch it unfold before their very eyes.
No shortage of tears - tears of glorious delight. When the celebratory pitch gets that high, some tears usually squeeze out. Or flow freely, take your pick.
Thus unfolds the story.It's a glorious love story, built on the shoulders of so many stories of love and devotion. It's the story of one-true-Savior love. A story of authentic brother-love and sister-love.
Devoted-parents love. Delighted - grandparent love. Glorious! Aunts-uncles-cousins-love abounding.
Generations of giggling-cousins love. Friends-as-close-as-family love. Neighbors-with-no-fences love.
My favorite philosopher, Sex and the City sage Carrie Bradshaw sums it up when she calls it "Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't-live-without-each-other love."
Chilly and his Lovely Bride have that stuff. What a love story we celebrated, and their GINORMOUS families along with them.