Hey, Baby Bear. How are you spending your summer?
Hangin’ out at Grandma’s…
Gettin’ lots of sun…
and eatin’ chocolate pudding?
Sounds like summer to me! (You’re welcome, Marvel, Jello, and people who make cute aprons.)
There are times when life is sweet and easy. At least, I suppose there are. I glimpse them; mostly, I enjoy remembering them and hoping they’ll be back again someday. A few Sundays ago, I went to church without the Bears (Papa or Baby). I didn’t realize just how cool and easy parenting first and second graders had become. It was crystal clear, though, without the pressing need to chase the baby. Of course, I wouldn’t trade that pressing need for anything. I wouldn’t trade any of my difficult blessings for a simpler, easier, or wealthier life. But when life gets especially hard, I can fail to truly see those blessings.
I love my children. Always. There has never been a moment in time, not the briefest moment, when I have not loved my children. Liking them consistently, though, that was much simpler when they were all babies. I’m ashamed to admit it, and I’m sure someone will tell me that I’m awful and completely unfit as a mother. When life fills itself with hard day after hard day, though, His grace is sufficient…but sometimes mine is not.
Lately, I haven’t even tried to like my children. There hasn’t been time. I’ve loved them and cared for them…fed them and bathed them and cuddled them. I’ve loved them, like love is enough, and I’ve told them so at least twenty times a day. But in between the cuddles and meals has been a startling lack of “like”. I haven’t made time for them as individuals, lately. I haven’t showed them that I like them for them.
A few days ago, the three girls and I held court over a lie that I could not, for the life of me, discern. I let one of them go, feeling sure of her innocence; and, exasperated and tired, I continued to hold the other two. In the end, the guilty party confessed and apologized. Then we all went back to our lives, because lives call more loudly than children. I was painting a wall, downward stroke, when God told me that my daughter was wounded. She, the one innocent held over like she was guilty, had missed out on precious minutes of her day. And worse, her mother had really suspected her; and she knew it.
I dropped my paint brush into the tray, and I went to find my daughter. She was at Grandma’s kitchen table with a cousin, “I cannot believe I got in trouble for something I didn’t even do,” she was saying as I walked through the door. And I called her out, without explaining my purpose, “Come with me,” I said.
She stepped into her flip flops and followed me out the door. I grabbed her hand as she asked, “Where are we going?” But we walked in silence to the Corner Store and straight to the back wall for a Coke. As I placed a cold bottle into her little hands, her eyes lit brightly and she smiled sweetly. “For me?!” she beamed. “Yes, for you,” I answered. “I’m sorry I didn’t believe you today.”
We walked home laughing and joking, both sipping our ice cold Cokes. Tiny Dancer went back to Grandma’s, and I went back to my painting. And when Grandma asked her about the Coke, she just answered in a happy whisper, “My mom likes me!”
For the last few days, I’ve been thinking about “like,” and how our whole self-esteems are built around it. There are many people who have to love us, but no one is required to like us. To be liked is to be special. And that night, after hearing of her words to Grandma, I tucked her into bed and I told her that I liked her–not loved, she knows that–liked. “Why?” she smiled and quizzed, because liking always comes with reasons. And after five minutes of the many whys, she fell asleep with a heavy sigh. We need to be loved, but not more than we need to be liked.
And really, what’s not to like?
I’ve finally found my town, y’all. On Thursday morning, before painting, I walked with my mom to a little resale shop (dangerously situated about a block from my house). She said that I had to go with her that day because, “All the good stuff is there on Thursday morning!” And, she said, “I want you to meet some people; the whole town is there on Thursday.” Whoa, she wan’t kidding. The place was packed out like a Wal-Mart on Black Friday (not that I’ve ever actually experienced that–I shudder to think).
Everyone greeted each other with a smile, husbands lost their wives amidst bundles of new deals, and I broke down and bought Baby Bear a Tonka truck for a quarter. A town where people are actually proud to shop resale?! Yep, this is the town for me!
Of course, the view from my front deck doesn’t hurt, either.
I have a confession to make, y’all. I love white paint–white walls. I love them. I know, it’s not socially acceptable. I know I’m supposed to look through thousands of swatches of color (or a hundred different shades of white). But I just can’t do that when I already know what color I’m going to pick…white white. If I lived in a big house with high ceilings, I guess I might change my mind. But I live in teeny houses with don’t-bump-your-head-on-the-ceiling-fan ceilings. White is just to ticket to brighten things up.
For the past few days, I’ve been getting the new place ready for moving day. The dark, fake-wood paneling has gotten a face lift…and now I need one. It’s a fixer upper on a Wal-Mart budget. I might just have to become a Pinterest fan after all. However, y’all, if you like design blogs but feel they are sometimes unrealistic for your budget (raises hand), stay tuned. I’m currently looking for tiling ideas…so share links if you have them!
I’m kinda crazy about this look, found here.
If I wasn’t a better friend, I’d post painting pictures featuring the wonderful girlfriends who have helped me over the past few days. But since they were so kind to help, and because they are wearing their painting clothes in the pictures, I guess I’ll just keep them to myself.
I’ll find something to take a picture of tomorrow.
I have children who love the water. Because I grew up in the kind of heat that made not getting into the water (wherever that water might be) a ridiculous idea, I just kept diving in – even after we moved to the mountains. Well, now I’m old (past thirty apparently does it), and mountain water is just too cold. But I remember when it wasn’t, and I love watching my little bugs enjoy the water.
Unfortunately for them, with their inherited love of water, they also inherited my irrational fear of water that cannot be seen through. I still think there’s something in there that’s going to get me. They voice their concerns, “Are their sharks? Aligators?!” Check out the fifth picture below. Papa Bear told them he saw a gator, so Baby Bear frightened it away. Ha.
Yesterday, Papa Bear took them to the park- the little ones, that is! Can you believe that I let set seven year old make a trip to the heat of Texas with my parents?! That’s a big step for a home-school mom! They’re coming home tomorrow (with videos on the point-and-shoot that I stuffed in their suitcase), and I just can’t wait!
On an unrelated note, I cannot believe that I didn’t get “before” pictures of our new place! The floors have already been ripped out and the walls have already been primed. But there’s still work (and lots of it) to be done, so I guess I’ll have to post “after,” and then “after after” photos! Those will be coming soon!