Tuesday, July 26, 2011

That Old Bag

Our relationship was not always this strained. In fact, in the beginning, I was kind of entranced by her, mesmorized by all that she stood for, all that she meant. She was the unknown. All that she stood for seemed so glamorous and mysterious.
My first encounter with her began with a sad goodbye to my then boyfriend as he took his first step toward becoming a Marine at OCS Juniors. It was my first taste of the many goodbyes to follow, and there she was. I watched as he walked off with her, into the unknown. I spent the next 6 weeks wondering, waiting for phone calls, looking for letters. It was a long six weeks and it was my first taste of what would eventually characterize our life. Eventually he came home, with her, and it was wonderful. I came to realize that sometimes seeing her meant it was good again. All was right in my world.
As the years went by, she came and went more and more. I saw her off to another OCS, short dets, 6 deployments, and so many "short trips" in between. It has not always been love. In fact, there were many long nights I would watch her appear and the heavy weight of a hard goodbye was at hand. The sight of her often times would bring me to tears. She no longer mesmorized me, she no longer seemed somewhat mystical. She only reminded me that soon she would join Patrick and he would be gone. She symbolized during those times long nights, lonely periods, and heavy loads to carry alone. Just the very sight of her two deployments ago made me physically sick. I hate to see her sitting there, almost in a taunting way. Reminding me he was leaving.
And she doesn't always stir up bad feelings, in fact, sometimes her presence makes me smile. Just seeing her in the corner, makes my heart feel joyfrl. She comes home, she always has and when she does, I love her. She reminds me that deployments end, he does come home.
Today I ran into her in the garage. The sight of her sitting there alone gathering dust made me smile. They tell me she won't be needed for at least 2 years and I am going to hold on to that. I am going to pray that she sits there. He doesn't need her. I don't want her. Over the years she has taken a beating and no longer stands quite as tall. She symbolizes a long career nearing its end, a career that has taken him to places far away from me fighting for the very freedom I love. She has been faithful in that when she takes him away, she brings him home. I am thankful for that old, faded seabag. But I am even more thankful that she isn't needed right now.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Not yet, baby girl, not yet.

I have spent the better part of my adult life teaching; I have taught in elementary schools and now as a Mom and a home school mother, I am still teaching. Everyday and every moment, if I am purposeful, is a teaching moment, a chance to train, a chance to give wings. I enjoy teaching and I always have.
I can say most of my teaching in my own home has been fruitful and I have loved to see the result of my teaching. Some obvious, some not as much. Most of their learning made my mothering easier in some way and it was always an exciting time. I loved teaching my children to sleep through the night, to walk, to use their words or sign language. I loved the fruit of teaching my children to buckle their own seatbelts, to use good table manners, to pick up their own toys, and to tie their own shoes. I loved the end result of toilet training, blowing noses, using utensils, drinking from a cup, swimming, and walking through the grocery store. I have enjoyed my children learing to ride their own bikes, shower by themselves, make their beds, and brush their own teeth. I have recently taught my boys to clean their own bathroom, do their own laundry and am currently walking them through the basics of cooking. I have taught them all to clean the litter box, the little messes from June Bug in the back yard, vacuum, do the dishes, and swiffer. I love watching them dust their own rooms, change their own sheets on their beds, do their hair, and get a snack. So much of what I have taught them has allowed us more time to enjoy other things and I love the confidence and independence they are gaining with each new skill learned.
My last child will start Kindergarten in the fall. I will get to teach the basic concepts of math all over again, the lifecycles of a butterfly, and patterning. I have discovered though as I approach yet another "last" in my children's young lives, there will be one thing I dread teaching for the last time. I am not ready to teach Caley how to read.
I know that may seem so very strange, but let me explain. Since my Logan, now 12, was a newborn, I have read to my babies. Every night. Without exception. We have always had a bedtime routine of bath, bottle, books, bed. Obviously, as they got older only the bottle changed. We have always done this. I loved the smell of a small baby or antsy toddler on my lap pointing to pictures, talking about the colors, or quietly sucking a thumb or finger just listening. Quick kisses while turning pages or lingering chubby fingers pointing to pictures are what I can picture in my head. Sitting on beds with all four or on the floor with just one. There has always been someone in need of a bedtime story in this house. As the years have gone by, my readers have become more independent. Chapter books are much more common and beginning last year with Lillie Grace, the quiet time in individual beds is the norm. The only sound this past year upstairs at bedtime has been my voice or Patrick's reading to Caley, sometimes both girls, but rarely all four. There are moments still that they will all gather for an oldie but goodie like Dogger, any of the Punchinello books, or The Big Hungry Bear. As Kindergarten approaches though, I can see one of my "lasts" in sight.
Last night, my three older ones had retreated, clean, to their beds and were all engrossed in their reading. Logan is reading Carry a Big Stick, Cole, Old Yeller, and Lillie has started a puppy series, Goldie. As I was picking out a book from the shelf to go snuggle with my K, she emerged from her room, wet curly hair and toothpaste remains on her chin, and one of her new school books in hand. "Mommy, will you teach me to read really quick?"
"Why K?"
"I want to read in my bed like Lillie all by myself."
I pictured snuggling with a wet hair little girl, singing read aloud books with two year old boys, smelling the sweet smell of clean babies after a hard day of play, jammies, and Are You My Mother? I am not ready to say goodbye to Dogger, Goodnight Moon, The Cat in the Hat, Angelina Ballerina, or Goldilocks. In one sweet moment, tickled at her confidence in herself....or in me...I was sad. I longed for my sweet chubby one year olds, the sound of a new diaper under clean jammies, and the smell of baby soap in wet hair. My job requires that I be out of a job one day. But it didn't have to be that day.
"Not yet, baby girl, not yet."