Monday, July 30, 2007

In Only 9 Days...

In only 9 days, my youngest son Aaron will turn 18, and I'm going through a phase. I'm sure it's one of those transitions from one season of my life to another, but knowing what it is makes it none the easier to accept.
In only 9 days, he will suddenly be a man by some worldly standards, yet not quite "man" enough by others. He will no longer be a minor and will fall off my health insurance plan (unless he attends college full-time and I submit countless signed and notarized forms to my insurance company verifying I still provide his primary means of support). He will be able to sign a contract, buy cigarettes (he doesn't smoke), and vote. He will not be able to obtain a CDL (unless all OTR driving is done in the State of Tennessee), purchase firearms, work in a bar, or drink (thank goodness!), yet he can go to war and offer his life for this great nation of ours. Maybe I can still claim his as a dependent on my taxes.

Some distinctions are a little more subtle. He has undoubtedly been marking the days to freedom, that magical point in time when the imaginary bars of childhood fall away and adulthood presents itself with all its limitless possibilities. He'll be leaving home to start college in the fall. It's a good and natural parting, one for which we raise our children, one every parent might expect at such a juncture in their children's lives. But he'll be living with another family and a roommate, and they'll be replacing me, at least in the central arena of his life.

I've been through this before, so why is it so hard? My eldest son is almost 24; I've already survived his graduation, his marriage, and his moving away. It must be that "empty-nest" syndrome sneaking up on me again. It causes me to reflect, reminisce, and pull out old pictures.

18 years ago, Aaron was born on August 8, 1989. His brother David was 5, almost 6. What close brothers they would be, I thought. They would stick together like glue. (I didn't know much about sibling rivalry, little boys, or what a difference 6 years' in age could make at the time).

I only knew they were the joy and light of my life, precious and remarkable gifts from God! Raising them was not easy, as I was a single parent for most of their early-childhoods. But they made every day worthwhile, every sacrifice effortless, every joy more intense, every moment more dear, every milestone more memorable.

They had both been in "school" since the tender age of 6 weeks, the standard maternity leave at the time, as I recall. My heart was broken daily as I left them in the care of others: teachers, ministers, babysitters. It seemed they were always the first to arrive and the last to leave their temporary shelters, not because I was busy climbing some purposeless corporate ladder, but because I had to pay the bills. I think it was harder on me than on them, though, because David told me recently that he thought he had had a pretty good childhood. I cried a silent tear of thanks, for God had taken care of my deficiencies.

He had provided all that we needed, and what I saw as lack, my boys apparently never missed. We celebrated the special times, their accomplishments, their birthdays, friends, family, worship, and Christmas!

We traveled to Cincinnati one year with all of their gifts in the trunk of the car. They wondered how Santa had found them at Aunt Loraine's and Uncle Otis'. How delighted were there little eyes when they awoke to find the small tree in the window surrounded by brightly wrapped packages! Indeed, there was no shortage of presents that year; and more importantly, no shortage of love. They played in the snow (a wonderful oddity, since they were Florida boys), and Aaron played endless games of table top pool with Uncle Otis, until he wore him out (Otis, not Aaron). Even the dog got a bone!

They've grown together over the years, had their differences, their battles, and their victories, and surely they will face the future head-on. They will always be brothers and will be there for each other, regardless of where their paths may lead. They are headed down different roads, each with their own goals, dreams, and vision, and a good foundation. They have been raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, for they are His, loaned to me for a season at their birth.

It's been a few years now since I've had to consciously let go of David. Now I must make every effort to do the same with Aaron. As I committed David to the Lord, I commit Aaron also. God has a wonderful plan for his life, and I release him to fulfill it.

We'll make the transition together, although I think he'll run faster than I. He's been way ahead of me since we took that first step together almost 18 years ago. Well, I still have 9 days.

Yes, in only 9 days, Aaron will be 18. I suppose I'll survive this, too.

Have a blessed day!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Mud Puddles Are Waiting

I have two sons, David, Jr., age 23, and Aaron (a.k.a. Xander), age 17 ("but I'll be 18 in 24 days..."), so I know about getting dirty! They cleaned up well, though, and I'm very proud of both of them. They are very handsome young men.

Yes, it's been awhile since they've wallowed in the mud. I'd almost forgotten. Forgotten how cute dirty children look when they are innocently making mud pies and swirling leaves in puddles on the ground. Forgotten the delight on their little faces as they squish the mud between their chubby little toes, and the squeals of joy as they toddle up and down rain-drenched garden paths, stomping as hard as they can to make the water splash around their ankles.

Then came Anna. Anneleisa is my niece and she's two. She and her mother and father, my brother and sister-in-law, have come to stay with us for awhile. They worked on the yard today, and Anna promptly found the puddles.

Anna seemed so very content exploring the dirt! Why not; here she was in her own private park on a hot day in her underwear (diaper). She was oblivous to all the raking, mowing, and planting going on around her as she ran her binky (pacifier, but she calls it her "lee-lee") up and down the garden rail like a Matchbox car.

Funny how life gets so busy and complicated over the years that we forget the simple pleasures, especially as our children grow up. God has a way of reminding us, though. He's funny that way. Here I am contemplating becoming an "empty-nester," and along comes Anna, for however long that might be. To thrill me with her tiny giggle, her butterfly kisses, and her cuddly hugs.

I'm sure there will be many more days to enjoy watching her playing in the mud puddles. Of course, I'll have to slow down a bit or I'll miss it. I think I'll put off thinking about tomorrow for awhile; the mud puddles are waiting. And her mother can give Anna her bath!

Have a blessed day!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Red Hat & A Purple Dress

"What gives with a red hat and a purple dress?" my uncle asked me a few days ago in response to a recent email. I had referred to the possibility of my someday writing a blog, once I got a red hat a purple dress. Apparently, he had not yet heard of the Red Hat Society.

I sent him this link:

and hoped he would read all about it. Surely he would get the joke. After all, I was certainly not a candidate for the Red Hats. Or was I?

As a matter of fact, I have been getting advertisements from AARP for a good 15 years now, and am about to find myself an empty-nester, come September when my youngest heads for college. Indeed, they have only one basic rule: that is, one must be a woman of 50 or over. Well, I've reached that milestone, but I certainly don't feel like a woman of 50 (or over *grin*), at least not emotionally. Maybe I could slide in with a pink hat instead (women under 50), like my girlfriend, Kim.

Some of my classmates celebrated our 35th high school reunion this past June (I didn't attend; in fact, I haven't attended a single high school reunion). My dh and I just just recently celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary in May by watching "Law and Order," eating ice cream, and going to bed at the wee hour of midnight. My eldest son will be 24 in November, and I can now order off the "senior" menu in some restaurants, although I doubt I'll ever do that, even to save a dollar.

It seems the years are adding up though, doesn't it? So why don't I feel 50-something? Could it be because I am stuck in time somewhere, never having grown out of some childhood trauma or misadventure of my youth? Does one require certain experiences that I have never enjoyed in order to feel as though they have earned the age of 50?

Perhaps I simply need to change my mindset: when I was young, 50 seemed so old, and in fact, 50 used to be older than it is today. Think about it. The median age of grandparents in this country is 57. My grandmother was 75 when I was 18! We in our early-50's are the tale-end of the baby-boomers. The world seems to be at our feet. Advertising is aimed at us for everything from health care and wellness to insurance and travel. We are a large portion of the population, and according to recent statistics, senior citizen population will grow faster than all others in all 50 states by the year 2030. Wow! No wonder "they" are all trying to get our money. The upside is much of it is geared toward helping us to look young, feel young, and stay young.

I have heard the old adage, "you're only as old as you feel." And since we choose our own feelings, I will choose to feel young, even at 50. Is it okay, after all, to "not feel 50."

Not only must I change my mindset, but also the words that come out of my mouth. Negative words ("I feel so old.") reap aches, pains, and curses. Praise and positive words reap strength and blessing:

1. Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 2. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: 3. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
4. Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; 5. Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
................................................Psalm 103:1-5

So, here I am: 53 years young, and writing my first blog. I wouldn't go back for anything, although I have learned, grown, changed, and suffered a lot. I have also gained so much more. As my aforementioned friend Kim says, "I wouldn't trade my ____ years' worth of wisdom for anything."

But, I'll not yet buy a red hat and a purple dress. Not even a pink one.

Have a blessed day!