Be IN the picture…

This is a picture of me and my boys at the first Cross Country race they did together. As I snapped a picture of just the two of them, another mom said, “Do you want me to take a picture with you too?” “Yes! Yes, I do!” It’s something we do too little of. I know I’m not the first person to write about this, but it needs to be repeated. A lot…Until all of us moms get IN the picture!!

Tonight there is a family going through photo albums. They are gathering pictures for an upcoming funeral. How many pictures do you think they will find with her in them? How many times was the mom behind the camera instead of in the pictures? How many times did she feel not thin enough, not pretty enough, not dressed up enough, not “put together” enough? Those moments can’t be re-done. We cannot get them back. The pictures spark the memories and without them, we miss out on some reminders. We miss out on silly moments. We miss out on a gift to give our kids & grandkids… a glimpse of US.

There is a picture on my desk of me & the boys in our back yard having s’mores. I had been working outside, I was dirty and too many pounds overweight. But the photo hangs on my wall. My boys don’t care. They just loved having s’mores together.

I’m not a scrapbooker, but I do make Shutterfly books when I can. They love to look through them, but it’s mostly of them. I need to be OK with being in the picture instead of just being the one holding the camera. I need to remember that I am enough to my kids, my family and my loved ones. I want them to have so many pictures of me when my time comes, that there are too many to choose from.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough…and get IN the picture!!

You’re a good mom…

Well, clearly these are turkeys & not my kids, but it made me laugh. “Slow…kids at play” sign with a group of turkeys. I didn’t look close enough to see if they were a family, but I thought it was funny… almost like they were getting coached to come this way, right towards the flag. Or perhaps there was a mom turkey leading them. “Get over here!” “What’s taking so long?” I’m sure she’s a good mom.

In the last 4 days, I’ve had an oddly high number of people tell me I’m a good mom. I’m not saying this to “toot my own horn”… it’s just very strange how many times this has come up. Do you ever need a message and you don’t quite get it – or you do get it but you’re not paying attention? Yeah, I think this is it. I’m not alone in being the kind of mom who worries about her kids & if I’m being a good enough mom for them.

I emailed my son’s 6th grade teacher to let her know about a sick relative & how it might be impacting my son. Thursday night, my son & I talked about their “DQ run” on Friday for cross country practice. He needed to bring money. I didn’t set it out at the time but I realized it at lunch time. I dropped off $5 at his school so he could have a treat at the run. I emailed his teacher & told her about the money in the office & said I am not the mom who swoops in & saves the day, because I think they need to learn responsibility, but this seemed different. (Your relative is dying & you don’t get ice cream on an 85 degree day – nope). She emailed me back that she understood. “You’re a good mom.”

I ran some errands for my oldest son because he had cross country practice after school and then had to mow two neighbors’ lawns. I was supposed to get goose decoy weights, cord and a call. I went to the local Fleet Farm with some texted pics of what I should get. I was telling a co-worker about my trek to pick up something I knew nothing about. “You’re a good mom.”

My husband was out of town and my oldest son wanted to go goose hunting. He has a Saturday cross country run at 8am. This means getting up at 4:30am to get stuff ready & go set up decoys so that he can hunt for an hour before practice. I was telling my friend about this upcoming event and how I know very little about hunting, but we were getting up early to go in Saturday. “You’re a good mom.”

My point is, I don’t think this message was just for me. It’s the small things that make a difference. Showing you care about things they like, making sure they can get a treat with the other kids when they’ve had a rough week. If you’re a mom, this message is for you too. “You’re a good mom.” No, I’m serious. “YOU are a good mom.” You may think you’re not enough, but you are the perfect mom for your kids. You are on this journey, learning from each other. So, be sure to tell someone they’re a good mom. It could be just what she needs to hear today.

Would you wave a magic wand?

This is one of my favorite pictures of my boys. 5 years ago, on a still day at the lake they were just fishing. The reflection on the water makes it look like they are surrounded by clouds. I feel like this is my oldest son’s version of heaven. This picture came up on my Facebook memories and I got kind of emotional. An unexpected flood of emotions… making my eyes well up. They are so innocent here. This was before my cancer diagnosis. This was before their uncle’s farm accident (he miraculously survived). This was before their loved ones were ill. So much has changed. Part of me wants to reach into this picture & hug those little boys. I wish I could protect them from the heartache. I wish I could see that sweet “carefree” look in their eyes.

But I can’t do that… & part of me doesn’t want to. All of those scary things taught us something. As crummy as it was to tell my kids that I had cancer, it brought us closer together. It taught us how to ask for help. It allowed us some quiet time. It changed my perception of life in general. Their uncle’s farm accident taught us how to pray intentionally. It taught us how to let others hold us when we feel like we are falling apart. It showed us that miracles are real and they do happen. Their loved one’s illness taught us that health is important. It taught us to listen to our bodies, to love and respect these vessels that we have been entrusted with. It made me even more aware that life is short & we should take the trips!

Yes, part of me would like to wave my magic wand and keep them from the pain. But, those painful moments make us realize how sweet life is. Cancer happened for me, not to me. I was asked shortly after radiation, “So, has cancer changed you?” Yes. Yes, it did. I didn’t fully realize it at that moment, but I will never be the same… and not in a bad way. I will always try to make it to my kids’ events. I will honor and listen to my body. I will hug more. I will take the trip. I will sit and pet my cat. I will practice meditation & prayer. I will enjoy the life I have. I will give to others. I will show up for them when they don’t know what to do next. I will know that silence is ok, just being there means a lot.

None of us are promised a “tomorrow,” but I will do my best to live my life to the fullest. When my time comes, I hope to end up in a place like this picture… more beautiful than I can ever imagine. I really do wish you peace on your journey of enough. Peace is a powerful thing. Learning to sit in silence and absorb all of the good around you is good for the soul.

What’s your patchwork?

This is my purse. It was an impulse Amazon purchase on “Cyber Monday” last year. It sat in the bottom of my closet for a while because I didn’t like the handles at first. It sat there waiting. Waiting for me to decide my other purse was too small (or I just wanted a change), and I brought it out into rotation. I lost count of the compliments I get on this purse. It “goes with” everything! It’s a patchwork of many colors. Someone took scrap leather pieces and made something beautiful. I think that’s one reason I’ve always liked quilts… a patchwork of small pieces, coming together to form something beautiful.

We are like my funky purse. A mix of qualities that might not seem like much by themselves… but put together, they form something beautiful. Something unique- those qualities form you. I told someone that I felt like an odd mix of things – growing up I was a cheerleader, in drama & speech, band & choir, art, 4-h, attended church regularly, went to parties… things that contradicted each other, but mixed together created something unique – me. She said, “what if you are ALL of those things… and that’s what makes you… you.” None of it is a mistake. All of those experiences helped form me into who I am now. Who I am now will not be the same 10-20 years from now. I will have more life experiences, I will have new skills, I will have traveled to more places, met more people… and my patchwork will be different. Maybe I’ll learn to quilt by then.

As we start a new school year, I hope that my boys will add to their own patchwork. They will learn some new things, meet new people and grow as men. Their lives in 10-20 years will be drastically different. They will likely be out of our home, just visiting on weekends or holidays. They may have families of their own. Things will change, but my love for them and their father/my husband remains.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you add to your patchwork this year and help someone add to theirs. We are all in this together!