I'm just a wife and mother who earnestly desires to grow in my faith and it's demonstration. DISCLAIMER! I have absolutely no problem with women in the clergy. As a matter of fact, I have several female pastors who I consider friends. In my home, the pastor is a male so the pronouns I use to refer to a pastor tend to be male. This is not a statement of any kind. Just a reflection of my every day life!

Posts tagged ‘family’

Don’t It Always Seem To Go . . .

The title of this blog comes from a Joni Mitchell song that has been recorded by at least a few artists –

Don’t it always seem to go

That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

It’s a well-known phrase and some people even argue that you know exactly what you have but you don’t think you’ll ever lose it.  I can understand that perspective.  But I believe that while you may know what you have, you don’t understand the value of it till you lose it.

And some things you can’t avoid losing.

When my kids were little, we would stay with my grandparents when we went to my hometown to visit.  My grandmother constantly voiced her concerns that the kids were too close to the stairways and could get hurt.  She would wonder aloud if the room they slept in was too cold/too warm.  When my grandfather would take them for a ride in the trailer towed by his lawn tractor, grandma always cautioned him not to go too fast so the kids wouldn’t get bounced around.

As a young mom, it was easy to get exasperated and see her constant worrying as a sign that she doubted my abilities as a mom.  Now I understand that she loved her grandkids and would never have forgiven herself if something had happened to one of them when she could have prevented it.

I would give almost anything to hear her say, “Don’t let her get too close to those stairs.  She might fall” just one more time.

Right up until the day he died, my grandfather insisted that he wasn’t losing his hearing.  He was convinced we were all just mumbling.  So we’d repeat ourselves two or three times until we found the right volume for him to hear us.

Now I know that my grandfather was struggling with what aging does to the human body.  He had been an athlete and farmer, he’d driven a delivery truck for Standard Oil and had spent much of his life working hard at physically demanding jobs.  To admit to something as mundane as hearing loss?  I can’t even begin to imagine how frustrating it must have been for him.

I would give anything to have to repeat myself, just a little bit louder, one more time.

When my kids were little, the constant cries of “Mommy” could get a bit overwhelming.  I had three girls who danced, all four participated in theatrical productions, had outings with friends, a few who did the marching band thing, all four did choir . . . you get the idea!  Having four kids in just under five years meant that there were days I had to work to find space to take a deep breath!  I remember, during those younger years, imagining what it would be like not to have sticky little hands grabbing at me or small people needing me all the time.  I was thrilled when kiddos started driving – or their friends did – so my schedule got a little more breathing room since I didn’t need to play chauffeur quite as much.

As I look back now, I see their “neediness” for what it is – trust.  They came to me because they trusted me to meet their needs and help them with their social schedule.

Now they are all grown and gone.  And I would give just about anything for one more skinned knee that only mom could kiss away.  Or one more “Mom, can you give me a ride?”.

I knew exactly how much I loved each and every one of these people.  But there are things I miss now that I never expected to miss.  I really didn’t know what I had until it was gone.  True, my kiddos are still alive and willing to interact with me via phone calls, texts, etc.  But they aren’t around all the time like they once were.

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26 Years Ago

On this day – August 15 – 26 years ago, my life was irrevocably altered.  Forever.

On that day I became a mother.  My body was cut open, a completely independent, unique individual was delivered through that most welcome scar, and my husband said, “It’s a girl.”

And EVERYTHING changed.

I discovered that I possessed a larger capacity for love than I had ever imagined.  I could stare at her sleeping face for hours and not get bored.

I discovered that I was willing to do anything to protect her.  The first time another child pushed her down to take a toy away, I was willing, just for a second, to cause that child severe pain in defense of my duckling.

I discovered that I could hear the change in her breathing when sound asleep and once it woke me, I wouldn’t sleep for hours out of fear that something was wrong.

Her laughter could make my breath catch in my throat and her sticky-faced kisses were the best part of my day.  And the first time she smiled at me?!  Tears were shed.

She got older and the teen years proved to be a challenge.  She was trying to find her own way, spread her wings a bit, explore a bigger portion of the world.  And I was still trying to keep her safe.  Maybe trying a little too hard.

Adulthood.  This is where parenting gets hard.  Elizabeth Stone said it best –

Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.

Moving away from home, having her own daughter . . . that little bundle of joy-beyond-understanding has done both of those things.  She’s well-respected at her work, has regular clients that prefer to work with her over others, knows what she believes and lives by it and has recently become a mother.  Watching her love on that precious little girl who made me a grandma?!  There are no words.

Most days I breathe a huge sigh of relief and say a quick prayer of thanksgiving that I didn’t screw up too terribly.  And I will forever be humbly grateful that I was the one lucky enough to get to be “mom” to such a stellar human being.

 

My Baby and Her Baby

“I looked at the pictures from the hospital.  She’s changed so much!”

That was my 25-year-old daughter talking about her two-month-old baby girl.  Let that soak in for a moment.  I smiled and told her, “I can imagine.  I was looking through your baby photos recently and you’ve changed a bit as well.”  She will be 26 this August.  What?!  Wasn’t she just a toddler yesterday?!

It still feels weird to talk about my “granddaughter”.  I started the motherhood gig in August of 1991.  After an unexpected c-section, the doctor handed my husband a beautiful baby girl.  On May 5, 2017, that “baby girl” handed me another beautiful baby girl – named Henry Onalee – and I gained the title of Grandmother.  Nana?  Oma?  Grandma?  Who knows what the little one will call me.  For now, I’ve adopted the nickname “peachie pie” for her.  Not sure why but it seems to be my “go-to”.

Having kids changed my perspective on . . . well, . . . EVERYTHING.  Love meant something different.  I was surprised at how fiercely protective I could be.  And I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would lay down my life to protect my children.  I thought nothing would ever be as intense.

Then Henry was born.

I have adored that little girl from the moment I held her.  She was just minutes old.  Once again, my perspective on the world shifted.  I fell in love with her instantly.  And I added one more name to the list of children I would give my life to keep safe.

But cuddling her, feeding her, singing to her . . . those aren’t the only moments that make my heart feel so full it might burst.

My baby is now a mama.  As strange as that reality is, watching her love on her little girl takes my breath away.

I have come to admire my daughter as a woman.  Yes, I will always love her as “my baby”.  But she has built a great reputation at work, manages her finances really well, takes care of her home, and lets her creative side out to play on a regular basis.  She knows what she believes and what she values and she lives her life accordingly.  Truthfully, there are times I breathe a prayer of gratitude that she is “adulting” much better than I did when I was her age.

And I love watching how she loves her little girl.  I’m not gonna lie – I am humbled and grateful that she texts and calls for advice.  I love “selfies” of the two of them that she sends me if I haven’t seen them in a couple of days.  Mostly, I love watching her love her daughter.  “I love her so much” is said often in my presence so I imagine she says it when I’m not around as well.

My baby has a baby of her own to love.  And I am more grateful than I can say that she has invited me into their world so I can watch the journey up close.

What Now?

Parenting is all about changes and phases.

When our kids are helpless infants, the job is fairly simple – feed them when they are hungry, change diapers as needed and give lots of cuddles! As they grow we play with them – who doesn’t love to make a little one laugh?! – and teach them necessary survival skills: how to be kind to others, sometimes the answer has to be “no”, sometimes it’s fun to share, and so on.

With the school years, we find our schedules becoming filled with things like dance class, little league baseball, chaperoning class parties and field trips, and sleepovers.  If they get involved in performing arts activities or sports during their middle school years, the schedule can get down right hectic.

High school brings dances, more sports and performing arts opportunities, possibly a part-time job, dating . . . you get the idea!

Then comes adulthood.  That moment when you look around and the kids are no longer kids.  They don’t need you to teach them right from wrong any more.  They don’t need rides to and from little league practice.  They don’t need you to remind them about their homework because, if they are off at college, you don’t even really know what homework they have!

And the much celebrated AND dreaded empty nest.

Less than 24 hours ago, I became a grandmother for the first time.  I have no clue how to be a grandmother.  I have a strong suspicion that my approach to “grandmothering” will be rather . . . unique (weird?!).  I’m fairly confident I’ll figure it out.

Just minutes ago, my youngest moved out, starting off on his newest adventure.  He received his AA degree earlier in the evening and will be moving in with his sister and brother-in-law, finding a job, and getting ready to finish his Bachelor’s Degree at UNI (the third Laupp child to do so – Go Panthers!).  I’m officially at that stage of parenting known as “empty nest”.

I have no clue how to do this part.  And the random thoughts running through my brain aren’t helping to boost my confidence in this area:

“They don’t need me as much anymore.”

“Oh no . . . what if they don’t need me at all?”

“How often can I call/text/private message without coming across as needy or clingy?!”

“What exactly is my role in their lives now?!’

I know, I know.  This is what’s supposed to happen.  You don’t have to remind me.  And this isn’t the first child to leave the nest.  It’s worse than that.  He’s my last.

So there will be no more “kid’s” activities on my calendar.  No more “Mom, can you . . . ” and no more “Hey, do you think maybe . . . ?”  because they are all handling life on their own – or with a special somone – now.

Which leaves me stuck with the same question – what now?!

Work In Progress

I spent all of yesterday and most of today curled up in the corner of one of the living room futons battling the worst respiratory “yuckiness” I’ve had in a long time.  Maybe ever.  Apart from the coughing, sneezing, and the occasional nap, I had much time to think and even did some praying.  Almost all of this thinking and praying was specifically for a family member who is hurting.  This big sister wishes she could do more than pray but the situation is so far out of my control it’s crazy.

My sister is hurting.  Big time.  Like “can’t-breathe-not-sure-how-to-keep-functioning” hurting.  The circumstance is so huge that it has hurt much of the family – my sister more than any other, but my kids have all gotten stung as well. My other sister, the husbands, my parents . . . all are a little hurt/frustrated/angry.  So take big sister anger and add some mama bear growl . . . let’s just say my first impulse when I heard about the situation a week ago was to jump on a plane and rush to the rescue; with violence, if necessary.

As I’ve prayed for my sister and her boys, I’ve also had to pray quite a bit about my own attitude.  I don’t want to forgive.  The offender hasn’t asked for forgiveness but forgiveness really isn’t about the other person, is it?  I mean, there are so many times when the other person doesn’t care if we forgive or not.  Forgiving is really about my releasing the right to seek revenge for the wrong.  In this case, the wrong was not directly visited on me.  But anyone who has ever been a big sister or a mom can tell you, I would probably be MORE forgiving if it was me – rather than my sister or my ducklings – that had been hurt directly.

I am an imperfect Jesus follower (aren’t we all!) and I know there are areas in which I need to grow.  This whole week has revealed a very big one for me.  I don’t want to forgive this person.  Right now this person shows no interest in being forgiven or trying to make amends.  But I’m only responsible my response, not the other person’s actions. And I REALLY DON’T WANT TO FORGIVE!!!  *sigh* So now I know what I need to work on –

I need to get better at forgiving.

I need to get better at extending grace when others have screwed up big time.

I need to look to the person who “took the direct hit” for my cue on how to respond.

But I’ve also realized that I can drop everything and be there for hurting family and not, even for a moment, regret the time spent.  In the time I’ve spent praying for this, I’ve been very honest about my feelings and asked for help growing up.  And I’ve tried to be very aware of the usual cliches offered in situations like this and (hopefully!) avoided them.

Regardless of the eventual outcome – this whole thing could drag on for a year at the least – I have just a couple things I hope will be true in the end:  (1) I want to be available as a sounding board/person to vent to/shoulder to cry on as often as possible and (2) I want to forgive the “guilty party” even if that person NEVER owns up to the hurtful actions.

Sometimes “adulting” is hard.

Perspective

Something happened this week that kind of made my toes feel a touch stepped on.  It was nothing big and I am all but certain it wasn’t meant the way I took it.  But I made the foolish choice to allow it to get me out of sorts for a bit.  Frankly, I overreacted!

Then perspective kicked in.

A friend from Erie lost her mom to an illness and lost her sister-in-law just days later to violence.

Another friend from Erie lost her dad to a heart attack.

A “young man” – he’s closer to my baby sister’s age than mine – is battling stage 4 cancer.  It’s ravaging his body and they were hoping he would be stable enough to return home.  The pictures of him with his kids and wife were heart-wrenching to say the very least.  It doesn’t look good and they are treasuring every next breath he takes.  Barring a miracle, he is nearing the end of his journey in this life.

I’m oh so homesick this year.  Strangely, so are both my sisters.  The silliest things – a favorite Christmas movie, baking a traditional holiday sweet treat – have been causing tears and fond memories.   I’m missing my grandparents an extra lot for some reason this year.  Maybe it’s the fact that their great-granddaughter’s wedding is in just a few weeks and they won’t be there.   I’ve shed quite a few tears today remembering holidays spent at Grandma and Grandpa’s house and wishing that just once more I would find myself packed into Grandma’s kitchen with my mom, my sisters, my aunt, my cousins and grandma cleaning up from the Thanksgiving meal (after which we’d all sit down to work on a puzzle – it was a thing, trust me).  Grandpa and his Christmas ties, Grandma’s Christmas village, a fire in the fireplace . . . and that ridiculous motion activated Santa Clause – which would bounce up and down and sing “Jingle Bells” when you walked by – that always scared the tar out of me when I came down in the mornings when we would visit over Christmas!

I cannot be with any of the extended family this year and I’m rather pouty about it.  And that “toes stepped on” thing from earlier?!  Yeah, that doesn’t even register right now.  And I still have my siblings, my children, my spouse, my parents, and my nieces and nephews. There is a rich legacy  handed down from grandparents – who constantly welcomed strangers into their home and did whatever good they could in the community where they spent their entire married lives – that I am lucky enough to be a part of.  So tomorrow, there will be a great big meal in the evening with the traditional entree as well as some things that have become traditional pieces of the meal in recent years.  My “almost-son-in-law” will join us as will an honorary daughter who needed a place to call home for the holiday.  I will enjoy the laughter, make more memories, take advantage of the gift of technology to schedule a “Google Hangout” with my sisters, and revel in the fact that those I love know I miss and love them.

Hug your loved ones a little tighter, spend just a second longer sitting at the table and laughing, and cherish whatever stage of life you find yourself in.  For those who are grieving this holiday season because a loved one isn’t with you, this song keeps running through my head so I’m going to share it here:

 

Song for Sunday

Haven’t done one of these in a LONG time.  But this one has been on my mind quite a bit lately.  Might have something to do with the fact that my youngest daughter just spent her last summer break living under my roof.  Six days before Christmas 2015, she will become “Mrs. Hendrix.”  So weird to enter this phase of life.

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