Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A visual

Just so you know, he's even kinder than he looks.

Smells and Solidarity

In July, my parents were visiting my dad's parents, so that my parents were only a little over an hour away.

It was glorious.

Impromptu visits--four or five of them--gave me a little taste of what I've always wanted: my parents living in close proximity to our family. It was great to have them in our house, eating dinner with us, playing with our children and talking to us late at night.

But my dad did something on one of those visits, something so selfless, that I will never forget.

And it has to do with a toilet.

If you have been reading my blog for a year or so, and if you ever read my Facebook statuses, then it will be common knowledge to you that I have serious issues with the way two little boys (i.e., mine) use (abuse) bathrooms. Particularly mine.

There was this persistent smell. Like someone had peed on a piece of cardboard and then hid the piece in the wall. I'm sorry to describe something so gross, but I'd like you to understand the extent and grossness of The Smell. My parents knew that it bothered me. They heard my same refrain every time they visited: "So I've cleaned the boys' bathroom top-to-bottom, thoroughly and with powerful cleaners, and it still stinks...I'm sorry. Feel free to use the master bathroom."

Well, this last visit, my dad was on a mission. He wanted to help us with anything that needed helping-with. Shampoo the carpets? Done. Buy some food? Done. Carry something heavy to the garage? Done and done. Whatever it was, he did it. So on this night, I was reading to Jaxon and Reed as they fell asleep. And looking down the hallway, I realize that my dad is on his hands and knees, scrubbing around the toilet in the boys' bathroom. I walk in, almost panicked, and say, "Oh Dad, you don't have to do that! It's SO GROSS!" Everything short of "Please for the love of everything fragrant STOP!"

But he looked up, a huge smile on his face and said, "Hey, we're all in this together. I'm happy to do it." I asked softly, "Because you can't stand using that bathroom?" And he answered, "Not at all. Are you forgetting that your mother and I raised seven children?" And I understood that he wasn't doing this to make me feel bad--or even because he was just sick of it--he was doing it because he wanted to help me find a solution to a really annoying issue. He simply wanted to make my life a little easier.

I said sheepishly, "I'll let you, then, I guess...." And he thanked me. So what did I do? I tried not to cry. I know it might sound silly, but it struck me so. I understood that he really DOES have my back. He really does want to make things easier and he really does KNOW how hard the daily stuff of life can be.

"Dad, this is the equivalent of you washing my feet."
"I'm happy to do it."

Not only did my dad find the source of The Smell (people, unscrew your toilet lid from the bowl and look under those hinges....and I won't be offended if you DON'T thank me....), he removed the top shelf of the dishwasher so that we could wash the offending object (okay, I guess I'll just SAY OUT LOUD that we PUT THE TOILET SEAT IN THE DISHWASHER....) completely sparkling clean.

It's hard for me to ASK for help with some of the really gross aspects of my life, but I know I often need the help, and my dad's show of solidarity convinced me that the old proverb rings true--and might I add a twist? It takes a village to raise a child (and to make a little boys' bathroom smell good) .

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hurts So Good

We had a relaxed, quiet Sunday--my favorite kind. Phill put a roast in the crock-pot early in the day, and by 3:00 the delicious fragrance was wafting through the house. We all lounged on the couches, alternately napping, cuddling, and watching movies.

When dinner rolled around, Phill set the food on the table and I followed with dishes. We sat down and immediately the kids began their familiar chorus: "This looks weird." "But I don't like beef." "What are those black spots?" "Can I eat just three bites?" I could feel the annoyance rising within me and fought to keep it under wraps. I remembered something my beautiful cousin posted a few days ago--something from another someone who was definitely inspired. I kept my voice level as I answered with the same calm answer, numerous times: "This is dinner. If you don't eat it, you'll be hungry." I decided to actually spoon-feed Jaxon to get him to try his food--"Oh! Actually I like beef." and convincing Reed to have a few more bites of potatoes before he had more mandarin oranges.

Gradually their protests died. They weren't wolfing down the food, but they were eating, and their voices weren't raised in a dissonant chorus anymore. I realized my extra effort to be patient with them had produced a new environment.

Though they were still loud, the sounds became happy. Then they tried to talk to me all at once, and I found myself surrounded by their joyful voices, all trying to get me to listen to them....and suddenly something that is so often hard for me to handle became music to my ears. I looked at their faces and laughed with them, relishing the fact that they want to talk to me, they want my attention, they love me....and then that love--which is always there but sometimes obscured by all the daily detritus--that love just bowled me over and I wasn't just laughing, but crying, too. How blessed am I? And who am I, to be so blessed? What on earth did I do to deserve such abject joy? It bowls me over at times, so much so that I can hardly stand it, and I understand the phrase, "I love you so much it hurts." Moments like these are the ones I file away for reference in those times when the feeling doesn't come so readily. Moments like these make the difficult times worthwhile.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Summer [In a poem]

My humble apologies I offer to you
not blogging for days--more than a few
my life has been busy, definitely true
but that is no excuse, and I commit anew.

Our summer was full of reunions and fun
visits from family and the flu--I was done.
Don't get me wrong, I adore my loved ones--
but sleep and rest? I didn't get tons.

Instead I got mono of the nucleosis kind,
didn't know I had it through the distracting daily grind
Luckily now, I have put the worst of it behind
and I continue to recover with a freshly-renewed mind

Reed has started second grade, free from boredom's hold
I'm keeping Jaxon home this year, a choice which might seem bold
But he's not yet five, my middle boy, and extra time is gold
I know this was our best choice--and I'll still know it when I'm old.

Savanna grows in leaps and bounds, already three feet tall
Vigor and vim, sweet and sass, she entertains us all
Compassionate and gentle, she's a good mother to her dolls
Though with one shove of her hands she can make her brothers fall....

Phill is active as ever, sports and church ball galore
The man just can't hold still--for him it's really a chore!
With busy-ness, he's happy, and that is what I hope for
I just want to see him smile, this man who I adore

As for myself, I continue to do what I can to progress
through therapy, renewed resolve, trying not to regress
I am definitely far from perfect, but mistakes don't negate success
I keep learning to be brave, and I won't let my fears oppress