Musical Musings

I’ve had my mind on Mom so much lately but I have been unable to really write…until now.

This past Easter Sunday was the first anniversary of Mom’s last day here with us.

Last week, I kept thinking about the days leading up to March 31st of last year.  There were many emotions running through my mind that week.  I felt hope, yet sadness…doubt and feelings of loss…helplessness and relief…fear and heartbreak.  Talk about some heavy parallels with the journey of the Lenten Holy Week.

So, tonight, as I was searching the internet, I remembered a song we had heard this Easter Sunday titled, “You Make Beautiful Things” by Gungor.  I listened to it again with intention.  After reading about the band and exploring a bit of their blog, it got me thinking in many directions.  Funny how that goes, right?

First, it took me to the music that my brother played in the hospital last year on March 31st.  When my husband and I walked into my mom’s room, surrounded by my whole family, it was overwhelming.  Although we talked on the phone often, I hadn’t seen Mom in months and I knew this would be the last time I would see her again.

The music playing in the background was music she had played for countless hours when I was a young kiddo.  I hadn’t heard much of any of it for decades, and yet, as soon as a song began playing, the melody and lyrics would fill my head…and comfort me.

So, tonight, I found myself playing music…for me…for Mom…for some connection to her.

I could imagine my childhood home and my mother in it, making dinner or sewing, while listening to John Michael Talbot’s Come to the Quiet album.

John Denver had me stomping my feet and remembering so many road trips from years ago, taken as a family.  I could see the pine tree forests beside us and endless highway roads before us.

I still remember my mother, and her best friend, my godmother, who lived across the alley directly behind our house, talking about Cat Steven’s album Teaser and the Firecat.  I can see them passing the album to each other and imagine them talking about his lyrics while listening to the music.  I especially remember studying the album artwork as a child, fascinated by the colors and characters.

While on the way to church this Easter Sunday, Cat Stevens came on the radio, singing “Wild World”.  Our trip in the car was a short one, but it was plenty of time to hear the whole song…as if Mom was there with us, giving us a much-needed smile and embrace.

How does music do this?  How does it deliver you to a place and time so quickly?  How does it connect you beyond face-to-face encounters?

Well, it does.  It did that for me one year ago and it did again for me tonight.  And, it will continue to be a bridge between Mom and me always.  I love you and miss you, Mom.

 

That Smile

I had a “mom look” tonight.   What is that, you ask?  Well, although I couldn’t see my reflection, I could just feel the look I was wearing.  And it had mom written all over it.

It was a long, tiring day of sick kiddos, of sick me and of dwindling energy reserves on my part.  The BSFs were in their PJs.  The youngest was already settling down for the night in bed while my husband read a book to our older BSF in the glider chair.

I found myself clumped in a slow-release…in a relaxing position at the foot of our BSF’s bed.

I closed my eyes, listening to the creative editing and funny voices my husband was using while reading the book.  A smile came upon my face.

Here it was.

Eyes closed.

Satisfied smile.

It was Mom, through and through.  It was as if I could see through her eyes while my eyes were closed.

This was that face she wore…eyes shut…gracing a satisfied smile…most often while in the company of her most beloved family and friends.

I was soaking up all of this and the tears began to stream.  My husband didn’t understand where it came from, but it was clear that something had sparked a “mom memory” in my mind.  He didn’t have to say a word.  He just knew.

And now, Mom, I really know why that look manifests.  Thank you for this gift, momma.  I love you!

 

Nursing Days Are Over

After getting my BSFs to bed late last night, I knew they’d sleep in a little bit this morning.  I took advantage of that time to read my email.  A post from www.carrotsareorange.com, titled “Weaning A Toddler,” caught my eye.

How timely this was for me. My almost 20 month old has been down to one feed a day for weeks now. When I read this particular post this morning, I decided that this was the sign I needed to finally choose today as the day I stopped nursing.

It is bittersweet because as much as I’m happy I was able to nurse my sweet baby for this long, she is my last baby and I’m going to miss this special time that we, as mother and child, have had together.

I’m grateful for the post that came to my inbox today.  It helped me, tremendously, with a tough, but timely decision.

Not only was it timely, but it made me think of my momma today.  She breastfed her children.  I don’t know for how long and I don’t know if it was the same happy experience it was for me.  We never talked about it really…but I’m grateful I was able to give this gift to my children…to myself.

I will miss this special time with my baby, but I celebrate another milestone.

Happy End-of-Breastfeeding!

Now, excuse me, as I enjoy a lovely craft brew.  It is a celebration, after all.

 

It happened…

Today.

Yes, today, it happened.

Nothing could prepare me for it.

I heard the two little words I have dreaded hearing all my motherly life.

All three years of it.

Yes, you can giggle right now.

See this adorable little thing?

This little baby, turned preschooler, said it, as plain as day…at the pharmacy.

Honestly, I didn’t think I’d hear her utter these words until at least five years old, but it happened.

Today.

Did I mention that?

While on the rare occasion that I go shopping with anyone other than the my BSFs and my husband, we went to the corner drug store with Grandfather.  It worked out in the most surprising and pleasant of ways.  I was so tickled that we could all ride together to run some quick errands.

So, back to those two little words.  My three year old, big girl, who can imaginatively play anywhere and anytime, blurted out, while we were waiting and sitting in comfortable chairs at the pharmacy with grandfather, for less than 2 minutes, mind you, the most repulsive words this mother could hear…

“I’m bored.”

Seriously?

Since these words are not uttered in our house, I can only surmise that she has learned them from someone at school.  Surely, whoever has said this in her presence has an older brother or sister since that is the crowd who is usually bored.  At least that is what I tell myself.

“I’m bored.”

Oh, boy.

And, so, it begins.

Get Ready For a Whole New World, Out There, Baby!

She picked out her outfit for tomorrow.  The dress is ironed and hung.  The shoes and socks are laid out.  Her school supplies lay waiting by the door.

She’s sleeping soundly, now.

In fact, the whole house is asleep. Everyone is asleep, but me.

I’m awake, thinking about another first on the list of milestones.

Tomorrow is my older BSFs’ first day of real preschool.

I say real preschool because, although she attended a once or twice a month class last school year, this year, she will attend preschool with a regularity that requires me to write out a real schedule.  I must remember more than just my appointments.  As well, I must add more events to my calendar to schedule in the irregular stuff…class parties, school-related evening activities, snack days, etc.

My late-night musings are just reminders that my BSF is growing up. Each and every day.

There are no tears. Not from me, and not from my BSF. Well, at least not yet.

In fact, she tells me that her first day at preschool will be a “wonderful day”.  No doubt, it will be.

I am nostalgic for the self-initiated play dates that used to dot my free and flexible calendar. Now, I’m imagining car pool, names written with indelible ink, meeting classmates’ parents, newly learned vocabulary, sick kids and sick days, phone calls or notes from the teacher, new friends and more.

I keep thinking, “Is she ready for this new world?” It’s more like, “Am I ready for the world that awaits her?”

I pray that she is…that I am.

So, as I say my bedtime prayers tonight, I will also pray a slightly modified bible verse for my BSF.

I pray that this new world is kind and patient.  That it is filled with and envelopes her in love. I pray that jealousy, boastfulness, anger, rudeness and resentfulness make few sizeable appearances. I pray that justice dominates, and that she feels the equity, especially when it doesn’t work in her favor. I pray that her trust in others is not shaken.  I pray that she doesn’t give up easily, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and that she works through the tough stuff, just as love does.

For all of you who are sending your “babies” off to school for the first time…or the second time or for the last time…I pray the same prayer for your child. Some days, it can feel like a whole new world, out there.

Sink or Swim…or Float

My BSFs are thick in the summer swim mode.

We don’t have a pool, unless you count the itty-bitty Dora play pool in the backyard.  Still, the kids are around friends’ pools enough that they need to know how to safely find their way out of a pool, just in case, God forbid, they fall in unexpectedly. So, they are in swim lessons this summer, learning the basic survival skills.

Growing up, we didn’t have a pool in our yard either.  We spent hours in our neighbor’s pool and at the city pool each summer.  Somehow, I learned to swim without a swim class. I’m sure I learned from my siblings or my neighbors or from the sheer need to stay alive amid a lot of good swimmers.

My favorite thing to do was float. I remember how excited I was when I finally figured out how to do it. I floated and floated in the pool just for the fun of it. As a teenager, I always thought it was a good way to stay cool and get an even tan.  I can’t believe how many years I went into the sunshine and into a pool without a drop of sunscreen…but that’s another story.

Today, my dad was asking about how the girls are doing in class…whether they can float or swim with ease.  I told him that they are both swimming and floating, despite the deafening cries for “Mom” or “Dad” or “Ziggy”, the dog.  Seriously.  Yesterday I had made a joke out of my older BSF asking for her Dad when Dad wasn’t even at her swim lesson.  I continued, saying, “Why don’t you ask for Ziggy tomorrow.  Maybe he will come running to the pool and pull you out.”  So, today, she cried for Ziggy.  Yes.  That’s my girl.

My dad reminded me that my mother loved the water.  She spent her summers at their family lake house.  The whole summer.  What a beautiful luxury that must have been. She was an avid reader all of her life.  She used to tell me that she’d bring a wheelbarrow full of books, checked out from her local library, to the lake each summer.  Her local librarian, Eva T. Canon, lent her the books for the entire time she was gone.  And, she read.  She read and she swam.  Not at the same time, I’m sure, but I gotta know she definitely read by the water.

Isn’t she beautiful here?

Her parents enjoyed the lake, too.

I don’t think they fished especially much.  They played plenty of games – yard games outside and card games anywhere.

The funniest thing about it all was that my grandfather didn’t swim.  I think just about everyone else in the family did.  However, my grandfather couldn’t.

My dad had shared that my grandfather probably would’ve wanted to swim, but he could never get deep enough into the water to do so.  The waters near their lake house were shallow enough to walk out for yards and yards. So, he didn’t really need to swim.  My grandfather could float, though.  And he enjoyed floating in that lake.  Which makes me think of my BSFs.  They prefer to float.  Float. Float. Float.

I’m thrilled that my BSFs are swimming and floating.  It hasn’t taken them very long to figure it all out, and these skills will last them a lifetime.  Maybe, one day, we can take them to their grandmother’s childhood summer vacation place by the lake.  Now, that would be something.