Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Grace at Target

Soaking in a bath may not be relaxing for me--but, there is one place I can go, and clear my head.

My mind begins to rest, my body becomes new, I find comfort and relaxation at Target. Yes, I know that might sound funny to you--but, for me it is like a mini-vacation. I go with a latte in hand, and stroll through the aisles perusing clearance rack after clearance rack. There are no worries, my cell phone does not work inside target, and I rejoice in the discovery of an amazing, "deal."

My husband supports me in this, "getaway." He comes home, and knows by the look on my face--if it has been one of those--"I need to go to Target," kind of days.

On rare occasions, we go as a family to Target. Although, these types of trips are not as relaxing and can create even more stress--I still enjoy the possibility of finding a good deal ;). We still make a stop at Starbucks before commencing with the shopping- I grab a grande latte, Kyle grabs a Dr. Pepper and the kids get a vanilla milk. This has been our Target tradition for years.

It was on one of these family trips, a few weeks ago, that the girls separated from the boys, to look at clothes. As we were searching for something that caught our eye, another mother and daughter were also bargain-shopping. The mother looked slightly frazzled, as her daughter of about 5 or 6 years, tried her best to drive her crazy. I could tell this is what she was doing, because she was whining and moaning. She must have said, "mooooooommmmmmmmmm" at least 100x as we stood near one another. Even as we walked away, we could still hear her ear-piercing wails.

As Alexis stared at this little girl, and I thought I would take the opportunity to explain that this would not be acceptable behavior for herself. I wanted Alexis to hear how silly, and annoying this other little girl sounded. Alexis agreed that the other little girl was being disrespectful and annoying.

Just as I was feeling good about curtailing a future, "target-scene," the little girl and her mother came close to us again. Alexis took this opportunity to speak to the frazzled woman. "Is that your daughter?" As I heard Alexis ask this question, I threw out a prayer, a wish and crossed my fingers that my very vocal daughter would not tell this woman how disrespectful and annoying her daughter was being.

"Yes, that is my daughter- she is not having a very good day."

I held my breath.

"That's okay, we all have those days." Alexis replied.

Sigh of relief.

Wow--had my daughter just shown more wisdom and grace than I in this other little girl's behavior. Had she just made the mother feel better about her whining daughter? How could it be possible for someone so small to show so much love and grace?

And, then I remembered-- Alexis was born out of grace- She reminds me every day that even when we make mistakes, God still loves us and covers us in his grace. Some may have looked upon Alexis' conception as a mistake, but- God took that, "mistake," and made something beautiful out of it.

I pray that I can show as much grace as my 3-year-old daughter. She is quick to forgive, full of understanding and over-flowing with compassion--much like our heavenly father. May I encourage these traits in her, because as a whole we could all use a little more grace.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Cookies and Honey

Our kids have not always been great about going to bed on their own--and I will take full responsibility for their inability to do so. I love to be close to them, snuggle in with them, breathe in their baby scent-- I also know that these days will pass me very quickly, and I will look back wishing I could hold them close.

With much persistence, my husband and I were able to wean them off of mommy, and get them to not only sleep by themselves, but fall asleep by themselves. I know for many of you, this sounds like it would be the easiest thing in the world to do--but, that was not the case for us. We have gotten into a good bedtime routine--and we always expect there to be a little giggling or talking after lights are out. We even accept the fact that sometimes there will be pitter-patter of little feet tip-toeing down the hall to get a drink from the bathroom. There is no action that can not be squelched by a booming, "Get in Bed." from daddy...or so, we thought.

Last night, we put the kids to bed--we heard some giggling, we heard some chatter--we even heard a few pitter-patters. After the usual time we allow for these types of things--my husband went upstairs to check on the kids. When he went upstairs, he did not see them in bed, or in the hall--or anywhere for that matter. He then heard them coming back up the back-stairs. Alexis was dressed in dress-up clothes and they both started running towards their bed--dad close behind.

It was then, that daddy saw what they had been sneaking down the stairs for---foraging. They had brought all of the cookies, that were baked earlier in the night-- upstairs into their bed, along with a jar of honey. The cookies were not in a container of any sort, they had been cooling on a rack--so, the 2 kids had to bring the cookies up by the handfuls...which meant they had gone up and done a couple of times at least.

Daddy was very frustrated with their sneakiness. I on the other hand, was trying not to laugh. Yes, I was frustrated--but, not so much that I couldn't see the humor in the situation. I think that is why God gives us 2 parents--because we each are able to see the humor in different situations--and with any luck, one of us will be able to keep a level head, and laughing heart ;).

Today, I am thankful for a partner in parenting--because I know that is not the norm in this day and age-- I am thankful to have someone to help me see the light at the end of the tunnel, be grateful for today's stress, and to show me the hidden humor--and most importantly, to laugh right along side me. Thank you, Kyle.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Don't grow up yet

My sweet daughter- wants to grow up so very badly. She is only 3 1/2 and she is already planning and plotting out what she will do when she, 'gets bigger'. She is counting down the days til her 4th birthday, the day we let her pierce her ears, drive a car, wear makeup, be a mommy--

I checked in on Alexis yesterday afternoon, after things had been quiet for just a little too long. As I rounded the curve of the staircase, I saw her sitting on the top step, with her pink organza dress piled all around her. She looked like an angel, and more importantly, she looked like my sweet and innocent little girl. The one I dreamed about, before she was ever conceived. However, I must have awaken before the next part in the dream--

My sweet, little girl looked up at me--and I saw these bright blue eyes shining through, what looked like a soot-covered face with bright salmon-colored lips. I am sure I stood there in shock for a good minute, before I said anything...

"What did you do?" I asked, still stunned at the scene in front of me.
"I was trying to look beautiful, like you mommy." she responded with whole-hearted sincerity.

At this point, I didn't know if she was playing the "compliment-card" that I didn't know she knew how to use yet, or if I really did look like a, "hot-mess" when I, "got beautiful."

I asked her to look at her goth-like face in the mirror...and tell me if she thought she looked beautiful. I honestly thought she would say, "yes."

Instead she said, "no--it looks like a mess."

Good--I haven't completely failed her, as a mother and the first makeup tutor she will have.

As, I tried gently to rid her face of all of the dark colors--I got a glimpse into our future-- Of a 16 year old ( I pray it holds off that long) trying to find herself and experimenting with beauty and all of its forms.

I sat on the edge of the bathtub, with a makeup remover cloth in one hand, and as I started to see her smooth, ivory skin shining through--I looked deep into her eyes an I told her how beautiful she was--that makeup could never make her any more beautiful than she already is. As I spoke these words, that I didn't imagine speaking to my daughter for a few more years--a twinge of pain must have come across my face--as my heart wrenched. My little girl was trying to grow up, right before my eyes--and way before I am ready.

I know it is impossible to keep our children, babies. To keep them naive, protected and in the little bubble we have created for them--seems futile. Nonetheless, I cannot quench the desire to freeze Alexis and Jaxen in their youth.

It is not that I don't want Alexis to get her ears pierced, or that I don't want to see her wear make-up, or drive a car (well, maybe not that). It is that I have looked forward for so long to have her in my life--and to be the "mommy." I don't want it to fly by, I just want to sit back and enjoy it. And, I do want to desperately protect from the outside, cruel world--that encourages her to judge her beauty on how much make-up she wears, what clothes she wears, how thin she is--etc.

As, I lose myself in the fear of the future--I am quickly taken back--way back to my own childhood. How my parents must have felt the same helplessness in my own desire to grow up too quickly. I was more than excited to use nail polish and make-up and dress in fancy dresses--and it didn't end there-- I wore make-up before it was allowed, and am pretty sure that there were times when I looked more like a "mess" than "beautiful."

So, today--and everyday I will pray that I can somehow keep my children young--and that my daughter does not try to grow up as quickly as I did.