Tuesday, April 30, 2013

death is a thief
death came and took you down
a giant of a man
and I thought
joy had left the world

death is a thief
but death is not forever
I learned in time
you are only
a veiled room away

death is a thief
but death is not the winner
I have you with me
I can hear you
in my own laughing

life is a gift
life is more than a body with breath
we are beyond time
rich, immortal, together

Monday, April 29, 2013

One of the great things about the internet is that everybody can just say their opinion at any time and there is a distinct possibility that a billion people will read it. This is also a very, very terrible thing about the internet. 

Now, I was raised by people who followed the philosophy of the great Rhett Butler. He, if you recall, frankly did not give a *darn*. Their strategy was part confidence and part arrogance, but it did teach us, their children, to not pay too much attention to what other people thought about what we said or did. So even with parenting, I've always observed the mommy-wars and baby message boards with a bit of detachment, because, come on, I know these kids, despite what hottiemommy08 might think. 

Still, I remember as I watch my 2 year old eat french fries off the floor, I remember what some people think about that kind of thing. It doesn't stop me, but I am aware of a potential side-eye at any moment, because I might have progressed from laid-back to borderline negligent in my 14 years of parenting. 

All this to say, when I purchased a "baby leash" after Tristan a) ran down the driveway into the road b) ran away at a picnic and was found exploring options to get in the creek c) met all the DOGS everywhere and d) has propelled me and/or the MOG into a full-effort sprint on multiple occasions, I heard them, the leash critics, in my mind. (Just take a second and realize how many commas I put in that sentence. I am out of control.) Like cmip for example: 

But now I am old, and he is fast and reckless like a Vin Diesel car and I just want some control. So we harnessed him and took him to the lake. And you know what, priusmomof3? It worked. Pretty much. 

At first he was like: 

but then he figured out he was tethered and he was like: 

and then he was like, I'm gonna go IN THE LAKE anyway: 

 and finally we just found a big open road and let him be like: 

In the end, we're all figuring out these humans God gave us to raise. So grace to you, however you figure out to do that. Me, I'm gonna strap him down and feed him cheeseburgers until he falls asleep. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

There are so many times in life when I think, "I wish I could draw." Also sometimes I really really wish I could do a standing backflip, because life often warrants the kind of celebration that only a standing backflip can convey. "Yay!" I say, lamely, unable to communicate inside my earthbound prison. But the drawing, that's because I have these funny ideas in my head that maybe a picture could say so well, but I can't draw, so I have to write a thousand words to describe it instead, and then the MOG is like, "eh, that blog is too long," and I can either post it anyway, because I am the boss of this blog, or I can take his advice and chop words until my picture is a skinny little surgically altered Housewife version of my original thought, i.e. Twitter.

And sometimes it's harder to get the words out of bed than you might think. Like this morning and every weekday morning of my life, when I am sitting in my big chair swilling chai tea while small people fire questions at me at breakneck speed. You know that part in Star Wars and also all of the movies when you go turbo or warp speed or whatever and all of the sudden the galaxy is all stripy and blurry? That's like every morning. "Put on your shoes," I say robotically. "Put on your pants first. Put on your pants. Put on your pants. Put on your pants." While I am aimlessly repeating phrases, they are doing cartwheels, acting out massively complicated scenarios in which Sonic the Hedgehog ninja-chops a lot of bad guys, and then the bad guys cry a lot because they got ninja-chopped FOR REAL, and then they run in circles until everyone in the house is awake and demanding "breaktist and gartoons" and I stare bleakly into the cosmos, "Put on your pants," I say.

If I could draw, that could be like one picture. But I can't, and besides, I'm tired. After the Battle For Pants comes the Battle For Everything Else like Put on Shoes and Eat Your Cereal and I Don't Care About Your Opinion, Wear Those Shoes and many, many more battles until the war is won except Put On Your Seatbelt, which can last for upwards of 2 hours while we sit in the driveway and I gently weep into my steering wheel. "Is your brain having a stressful day?" Toby asks gently. "Put. on. your. seatbelt," I sob into the Toyota symbol.

"Drink coffee," you tell me, and a) I would, except that coffee, despite smelling like a log cabin full of sleepy kittens and soft blankets, tastes like what I would expect if I were to lick the undercarriage of an 18 wheeler after a long drive through Port Arthur, Texas, and b) it doesn't make me feel awake, it makes me feel nervous, which would take Robot Mommy to Jittery Crack Mommy, which is worse. So. No coffee.

I'm sorry this is long. I can't draw, see?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

We live in dark days. More and more, the business of an average day is shattered by gunshots, an explosion, a disaster. In those moments, the world grinds to a halt and we all stand for a moment, speechless with shock and loss. For some, that moment of silence ends far too soon. My heart is always so grieved when people take to the “air” of social media with their answers and their agendas while the blood is still being washed off the sidewalk.

I’ll tell you my experience. The night that my sons died was the darkest night of my life. It felt like my body was going to rip in two from the weight of the grief and regret, the questions, and most of all, my aching empty arms. The people who loved me the most were the ones who just waited, just sat in the crater of silence and waited. They had no words of wisdom, no explanations, just presence. Years later, when the loss has become more of a dull ache and the memory of my sons is sweet, those friends and family are still the ones I trust with my victories and defeats.

Today, families and friends of the victims of the Boston Marathon don’t need to hear why guns would or would not help. They don’t need to consider conspiracy theories and they don’t need us, the movement that fights for awareness of the value of every human life, comparing their violent and senseless deaths and maimings to the death of millions of babies. It doesn’t matter if your cause is righteous. Be quiet and honor the dead. Anything less is not pro-life.

Today, I urge you to be quiet, sit in the silence and pray. Pray for the people who carried out this act, pray for the families of the dead and wounded. Pray for the medical personnel and law enforcement as they forgo sleep and try to bring comfort to the injured and their families. Pray for our nation as we once again grieve the loss of our brothers and sisters. Just pray.  Only God can help us. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Me: So here’s what’s gonna happen. You’re going to get a shot-
Me: And it’s not gonna be that bad, it’s like a pinch and then-
Toby: It’s not that bad, Brynn! It’s like a pinch, See, I’ll pinch yo-
Me: And, it’ll hurt for a minute and then it will be done and we’ll get ice cream and-
Toby: See me, Mom? See how I’m brave?

Nurse: Okay, Clark family, wow, brought the whole bunch today, I see
Toby: This is my sister Brynn. She is scared. She is gonna scream-
Me: After this, Tristan, once we’re done
(uses rolling stool to climb on paper-covered table, runs and jumps)
Me: C'mere you
Nurses: Now, Brynn is 3rd percentile on height. Did you know Brynn is small?
Toby: Did you know that this room is decorated like Star Wars? This is the Star Wars ship
In my head: It’s the Death Star. Our pediatrician has the Death Star in her office.
Nurses: Does Toby have any allergies?

(Tristan is pulling stickers out of the drawer and throwing them in the air)
Nurses: And you’re getting shots today?
Me: Yeah, but I have this chart
In their heads: Oh good, she has a chart
(Tristan has removed his robe and is working on his diaper)
Nurses: The doctor will be in shortly.
In my head: Define “shortly”

The sun rises and falls, dictators rule and are deposed, the cold rain washes canyons in the earth. A tiny foal struggles to stand and becomes a mighty stallion. A tree is bent by the raging winds and grows to tower above the changing landscape. And still we wait.

She enters and interviews me. I am Geraldo, standing on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico as debris ricochets around me. There is a light saber jabbing me in the side, a nonstop monologue about Mario in one ear and an underlying wail from the one man vaccination protest camp. Their voices are lifted in song, in story, in chaos. She types laboriously, tracking charts while all around us the world burns.

And then she is gone, much quicker than she came. She sends in her henchmen and they hold people down and inject them, while I stand innocently by, making weak promises of ice cream and ponies and vacations. And then it’s over, and we are suddenly cut loose, free to roam about the free world. 

Home now, with the only reminders a collection of bloody smiley face bandaids and Tristan's hair full of ice cream. I remember, though I'd like to forget. Maybe I should take up drinking.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dating is complicated sometimes. I mean, I'm sure it's complicated for you single people, too. I was never single so I don't know. My life went like childhood, girl meets boy, girl's parents sign consent at the courthouse, girl and boy live busily ever after. So, I don't have advice for you today. I have tons of advice, in fact, one of my most popular posts is about dating. But not today, try to stay focused.

Once you're married for a while, there aren't a lot of surprises. In fact, surprises after 10 years or so are typically not good surprises, so being in the know, that's a good thing. But you know, you've told all the good stories years ago. And movies don't help, because they always portray "bad dates" as the ones where the guy slurps spaghetti or the woman is griping about her shoes the whole time, and silence at dinner in a movie is always like 2 DVD skips away from adultery and divorce, so you start to worry.

The thing is, maybe before that you were relatively happy with conversation like, "Hey, remember yesterday when that Coke exploded in the kitchen?" and he's like "Yeah. That was crazy." and then you just eat chips and sort of hang out. But then you start to worry, hey, are we bored with each other? Why don't we have witty conversations and butterflies? Hollywood, you are creating a monster.

You're writing the story, you're living the story, I have to remind myself. Some days will be dreamy and butterflies and most days will be living comfortably and uncomfortably with someone who is part of you. Marriage is work, it's hard and it's a continual decentralization. It's also a partnership and a friendship. It will never be perfect, but it can be really good and deeply satisfying, much more than moonlight and hookups and "magic". Living together, cleaning the toothpaste out of the sink, changing diapers, holding hands at a gravesite, dancing awkwardly and briefly at a wedding, slamming a door, hanging up and calling back to apologize, days and days and days of the mundane; we are living precious history.

So go on a date with the person you picked, or the person your tribal leader picked or whatever, and talk about the kids and the weather and don't worry about being  witty or original or lame or boring. Real life is all of it. We get to live life together, and that  is magic.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Okay, Tristan, let’s have a talk, you and me. Lately, you might have noticed I’ve been saying “no” quite a bit. I can tell that you think it’s cute when I act like I’m in charge. I know it might be a little bit confusing when I am saying “no, no, no” but I’m laughing a lot. And sometimes, it seems at random, I exert some kind of discipline. Maybe during lunch on Tuesday, you smacked your brother in the head and nothing happened, then today you did the same thing and got your fork taken away. Perplexing. Sometimes I try to prevent you from getting inside the dishwasher or the oven or from writing on the TV with a marker. It seems like I am perpetually trying to keep you from living your dreams.

I’m going to need you to level with me, though. No more lies. When I ask you if you stink, no more running away as fast as you are able with a loaded diaper, yelling, “I NO TINK!” I think we are bigger than that. Honesty, unless it is me lying about how many cookies are left in the box. Also, raisins are candy. 

Sometimes in life, you can’t find the help you’re looking for. And even when you yell “INEEAGRUNGAR” as loud as you can, repeatedly, for one hour, I might be unable to locate the grungar, because that is not a thing. Let’s reason. Let’s watch cartoons, okay? Let’s watch a lot of cartoons, because that is a lot like a grungar. 

Another thing we need to talk about is humor. There are times when you hit the window very, very hard with a blunt object while laughing hysterically. I don’t want to try to quantify comedy, it’s subjective and we both know that. But when I ask weakly for you to please quit breaking the house, I am not shooting for “funny”, even though it seems like I have you in stitches. Other times, when you try to empty Daddy’s file cabinet and I am laughing but Daddy is not, I might be sending a mixed message. Let’s play with toys. How do you feel about toys? We have a lot. Despite your current preferences, you might find blocks and squishy animals every bit as fun as screwdrivers and coasters. Agree to disagree, got it. 

Listen, I don’t want to get on your bad side. I think we all remember the incident when I tried, absurdly, to make you eat dinner instead of cookies, and you screamed until Daddy put you to bed with no cookie. It was a bad night for all of us. I admire your persistence, it takes a lot of dedication to repeat the word cookie until you fall into a sweaty and frustrated sleep. When you wake up the next morning, cheery and smelling like the bowels of hell, we will be friends again. I might need to change your diaper, but you have to believe it’s not something I want to do, so let’s just try some cooperation. Okay? Please? 

I think we’ve covered a lot of ground today, good progress. We both have things we’d like to happen, changes. So, let’s compromise. I am prepared to give you whatever you want, instantly, as long as you stop screaming. Also, if you make a really cute face, I will give you whatever you want, instantly. Okay? Okay. Good talk. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

I was raised on mischief. My dad was a prankster and a comedian, even when you really wanted him to be serious, and my brothers were always on the wrong side of the line, you know, the "you just crossed the line" line. So I love a good joke. Now, the Man of God likes jokes okay, but he draws the line at pranks. That was particularly ineffective when we were youth pastors.

Our youth group kids, primarily the boys, continually delighted me with their efforts. It was the trial of my young life to not respond-in-prank to their shenanigans, but I was limited by the ol ball and chain, telling me not to escalate. If I could go back in time, I'd probably just escalate without mentioning it to him first, so I wouldn't be unsubmissive and stuff. One of my favorite things they did was the time they tried to sell my car. Luckily we came out and found the For Sale sign with our phone number and a hilarious price before the calls started coming in. Another time they duct-taped our front door shut. We were serenaded at 3 am by a trio of white teenage mariachis. One prank involved a stuffed parrot, kidnapped and held for ransom with a series of clues and photographs. I am confident Ned would be stuffed in a bass drum to this day, had we not had an informer.

Every April Fool's, EVERY one, I try the sink-sprayer trick. Every year it doesn't work. He is never amused. I think I quit for a few years but this year I decided to give it another try, doing a few little computer shenanigans and always, the sink sprayer, and my audience of Toby and Brynn were fiendishly delighted at the idea. Their energy is prompting me to give pranking another try, and so I must press on. For the children.
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