She’s the baby. But really she’s an old soul, this youngest of ours. Years ago, when this Mama thing was so new, exciting and terrifying, I wondered how we would ever survive with the house being all quiet and almost boring when the older three had grown up and journeyed out to make their own way.
I’ve been praying for a few friends and dear boy mamas this week who are struggling as they send their little guys off to school. And as I crawled into bed a few days ago, a picture of my boy on top of a mountain popped up on my phone. Along with it came a flood of thoughts about my own little ones, most of whom are girls and all of whom are now taller than me.
And then a picture of a friend’s little guy looking so small and forlorn reminded me of my own who had a habit of hiding behind my leg when someone spoke to him. And now? Well, now that timidity is unrecognizable, partly because of my hubby’s encouragement to let our boy be a boy and grow into who he was wired to be.
Now let me just say here, there are so very many times I’ve messed it up, this Mama thing. My boy and I have had our share of tough days and hurtful words and we still have plenty of room, and prayers, for our relationship to grow stronger with each passing year. But through it all, I’m so grateful for God’s grace to help us remember the beautiful moments and to cover those that were just plain “less than” in one way or another.
So for all you Mamas of boys struggling in these first few weeks of school and for those who find yourself still waiting for your boy to return home, please know that you are being prayed for and that you are brave. And perhaps find a little encouragement in the flood of thoughts that bombarded my memory on the other side of this grand undertaking of raising boys into men …
Dear Boy Mama
Dear Boy Mama,
Yeah, it’s scary. This releasing them into this big world when we’re never quite sure they’re ready.
They’re sure, sometimes. Other times, not so much.
As hard as it is … we let them go. Their first big day could be heading off to kindergarten, or it could be more like our oldest whose first day of “real school” included car keys and college textbooks.
At some point, they’ll toss the phrase “I was born ready, Mom” or some other cheesy cliche over their shoulder as they head out the door as if to prove their readiness to both themselves and you all in one fell swoop. You might as well know they very well may be trembling inside a bit too, but seeing you believe in them helps them to do the same.
Either way, we let them go and quickly find that when they return they’re full of stories. Some comforting, others not at all and sprinkled throughout there may even be a tear or two. You’ll listen to their stories and wipe the hurt from their eyes as needed. Then they’ll tell of newfound friendships, those also falling into the same categories of comforting, not so comforting and those capable of bringing a fresh flow of tears.
Laced throughout are a few stories about new things they’re learning and suddenly you see a deeper passion ignited in their eyes than had been there before.
Then they grow. And they grow. Typically a good 6 inches in some random summer when we looked away for a mere moment. And suddenly we find ourselves looking up at them in conversation instead of the other way around.
And the shoes and adventures seem to grow one right alongside the other. All the while their voice is deepening and their personality is emerging with greater confidence than ever before. And prayerfully some of those encouraging friendships of days gone by have grown deeper with each passing year.
Before we know it they’re heading off on some grand adventure to do daring things of which we would never approve were we standing there beside them. Nothing illegal or immoral mind you, just daring and bold. Definitely bolder than we feel watching our hearts waltz right out the door to conquer the world, or maybe just their little corner of it.
They’ll send pictures. Maybe not lots and lots of them, they are boys after all, but they’ll send the coolest of their collection. You’ll gasp at how close they are to the edge of safety and, from where you sit, sanity.
Yet you’ll beam because deep down in the very depths of your soul you know they were made for this. They were formed for this scaling of mountains and this swinging from trees.
You’ll hear, more than once mind you, “Love you, Mom!” just before some daring feat or grown-up decision. And you’ll want to look away for a split second just hoping it to all turns out okay. Somehow you know this “Love you, Mom!” is a veiled request for affirmation of some sort because we’re all wired to need such things from those whose opinions matter.
They’ll drag in a good kind of exhausted from the adventure of it all. And you’ll hear more stories. Oh the stories, and more pictures if you’re lucky, but mostly you’ll see the light in their eyes from the sheer excitement of it all.
And you’ll just smile as you listen and soak it all in. Every sight, sound, smell and touch of them and who they’ve become. And then you’ll smile even deeper knowing that this learning to let go is the greatest gift we can give these young men of ours.
The freedom to scale the scary mountains that lie before them. If not for scaling them, how could they ever be ready to move them in the days ahead? And who’s to say it’s not precisely that for which they were created?
It’s our gift to them, this letting them go, season by season. And thankfully it comes bit by bit, for our hearts could never handle this letting go all at once.
And their gift to us? It’s the coming home. It’s a way of saying “Love you, Mom!” for letting them go in the first place. For believing in them enough to unclutch our hands for them to fly. For being the voice in their head cheering them on. For a Mama’s hug, because there’s just nothing quite like it, and perhaps a batch of their favorite cookies too.
So smile deeply, Mama. Yes, your lip may quiver. That’s okay. As you well know, this being brave often happens in the face of fear, not the absence of it. You’re brave enough to give one of the greatest gifts you possess. And those always seem to come with more sacrifice than we believe we have to offer.
For without this letting go for them to soar there would be no glorious homecoming now would there?
Just in case you get a little bored with seeing the same commercials over and over during the Olympics for the 27th time … Let’s revisit the Messy Family Olympics held every Christmas with the Moore clan in south Florida.
… this was originally posted in December of 2015 …
We can hardly wait for this year’s final video and 600+ pictures!
And yes, ideas are already brewing for next year’s contest and dethroning the reigning champions. Even though deep down, we all know the title really isn’t the point!
Now you can take the next few commercials to plan your own Family Olympics, the messier the better! I’m guessing you may have a few other fun games to add to the line-up too. Let us know in the comments below so we can add them to our line-up!
Part of Summer’s beauty is found in being outside and having a slightly slower pace to enjoy those around us. Granted, we don’t all enjoy the childhood privilege of having the summer off, but the pace tends to be slower in many ways. To quiet these summer days and create even more summer thriving, alfresco dining is a great option.
We spent this past week in Birmingham and found this wonderful little street cafe, Delta Blues Hot Tamales. It was just perfect! From the ivy covered patio entrance off a bumpy old brick street to the bamboo shaded tables and a nearby waterfall.
The food was delicious, but the atmosphere made it even more enjoyable, even at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. I was a bit beside myself to have found a dedicated gluten-free restaurant too, those are hard to come by!
Somehow, taking any meal out to the deck just makes it taste better. Whether it’s a few minutes alone, or gathered with family and friends, there’s just something significant about it. Maybe because it so easily lends itself to lingering a little longer after the eating is done. And picnics and summer? Well those two were made for each other.
With the freshest ingredients
If it’s just entirely too hot in your zip code, then the next best thing might be stopping by a local Farmer’s Market. We have several in our city throughout the week. It’s fun to browse the tables and find new fruits, veggies and flowers that I never knew existed, and fresh produce is always tastier than canned or frozen. Just think about it, if you have to go grocery shopping, it’s just more pleasant to do so surrounded by food laden tables, fresh flowers and the sound of the outdoors as opposed to the piped in music and fluorescent lighting of the grocery store, no matter how nice your grocery store is?
If it’s just too beastly hot or if your alfresco plans are hijacked by rain, just move the party inside. Throw a blanket on the floor and have an indoor picnic, followed by a game of cards, becausemost of us moms have no appreciation for frisbee in the house.
And a hint of extra flavor
While you’re at it, add a bit of fresh mint or fruit to your water or tea. It’s amazing how refreshing a plain old glass of water can be with a sprig of mint or a splash of citrus, or even some lemon essential oil if you forgot to pick up lemons.
What are your favorite tips and recipes for eating alfresco?
We’ve been flooded with pics and snap chats from the other side of the world for a full week now. I’ve been a bit more tied to my phone for that very reason, as I check for updates and glimpses into the “to Russia with love” adventure.
This morning’s pics were from Red Square. It’s at the top of the tourist “must do list” for Moscow. It’s iconic. I suddenly realized that we now have one of almost our entire family posing with cousins, an Aunt and Uncle or Grandpa in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral.
I knew in my head that we had all been there, but somehow seeing this morning’s picture just brought a flood of gratitude. To watch our kids experience such a grand adventure that we could never have imagined, and to do so with their cousins, Grandpa, Aunt and Uncle.
My memory fails me so much more than I like these days, which is precisely why I have to record these gifts somewhere. Whether that’s in my 1000 gifts journal or here in this space, for my own sake and that of our kids, I have to make note of it.
So today I make note of the blessing of travel. The blessing of family. The blessing of new friends. The blessing of grand adventures. The blessing of ministry wherever we may find ourselves. The blessing of things that are so much bigger than we are.
So how about you? What blessings are you counting today? How do you prefer to make note of them?
It seems summer schedules are just packed full of adventure, aren’t they? Some days it becomes a bit much for a Mama to keep up with.
And suddenly it dawns on her that these adventurous schedules will bring more crissing and crossing than intersecting. Us Mamas simply must have the intersecting for things to be right deep down in our souls. It’s how we’re wired.
Even if the intersecting is only for a snippet of hours. It’s still quite necessary. So much so that we’re willing to travel for it. And we may even be able to convince others to tag along. Though I must say, it usually isn’t a hard sell.
That’s exactly what our next handful of hours will look like. An early morning drive through the mountains with the hubby and the sisters taking turns behind the wheel. With plenty of snacks and anticipation to make the time pass by right quickly, I’m sure.
All for a highly anticipated late afternoon and evening with our camp counselor boy. To see his face, meet his new friends, hug his neck and hear just a few of his stories. It’s sure to be a late night that won’t last nearly long enough, followed by an early morning hike up Rattlesnake Mountain and the promise of “the most spectacular sunrise you’ve ever seen, mom! Honest!”
And back into the car to head home again, with hearts full of moments to treasure until the end of this summer’s adventures. I’m sure there will be a few tales from the two who stayed behind and the ever faithful furball too.
So if you’re looking for me, I’ll be right here. At this intersection we’ve created. This place where we’ve pushed the pause button on the crissing and crossing for a matter of hours to soak up a bit of together.
And next summer? I’m sure it will bring more than it’s fair share of adventure too. They always do, don’t they?
What sort of adventures are you up to this weekend?
Some months are just packed full of one celebration right after another, even one right on top of another. Occasionally it’s one week, seven days worth of big events. And every now and again, there’s that one day. One day when several people close to you are celebrating major events.
Take today for instance. Today is the birthday of one of my bestest friends in the whole wide world. It’s her 29th. Again. Or not. Our continuing friendship requires that I not reveal her year of birth, other than to note that it was not nearly as long ago as mine.
Just two years ago we had what we like to lovingly refer to as her biggest birthday party ever.
We’ve been friends since our kids were little, even before some of them were born. Between our 4 and her 5, play days were always full of energy and adventure … at least for the kids. Us Mamas tried to complete an entire sentence a time or two and mix up cookie dough to nibble on before we were discovered. Sometimes that worked, other times not so much. We’ve been there for the birth of babies, the loss of parents, the celebration of holidays and all sorts of huge milestones with our kids.
Two years ago, she was gracious enough to coordinate one of the biggest celebrations for our family to date. Our girl’s wedding. On her birthday. And what a day that was.
These two had dated for four years. Three of those being extra long because they were living several states away from one another.
It wasn’t easy for them. But it was good.
And it led to this moment …
And it was worth the wait.
Now two years later, they find themselves in a new home in a new city and new state, finding new jobs. Our city and state! For now – our very home!
What a fun surprise to have them move here with us. And for all the terrible stories you here of kids moving back in, it’s been a pretty sweet month together.
Crowded? Yes. Chaotic? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely yes. And also temporary.
Soon they’ll find their own place to live here in town. All the while adding memories and anniversaries to their marriage. And we get to be a part of those daily moments.
I’m guessing that your social media feed has been blowing up these past two months with graduation and wedding photos just like mine. It’s fun to celebrate with friends and their kids as they reach these milestones on their journey, even if it’s only through online pictures and well-wishing.
My favorite pictures have always been those where the subject’s personality shines through.
I have to say when this came across my screen I cracked up and did the whole ROFLOL thing. I could be wrong here, but it seems right to put that in all caps because that’s how hard I was laughing.
Summer Thriving | Photo Session Fun
Our niece Olivia was among the graduates of 2016 and she has a crazy fun sense of adventure. Her mom is our family photographer and her brother is the family videographer. Needless to say, she’s comfortable around a camera.
Here’s her fun take on “Senior Pictures” …
I don’t even know how many times I have scrolled through these pics and keep trying to choose my favorite. They’re all such fun that I finally gave up on the favorite thing!
Now it’s your turn …
When the kids get bored this summer, pull out a camera or phone, dig through the closets and let the cameras roll.
Don’t have fun props or clothes at home? Check out a local thrift store and make a day of it, picnic lunch included.
From “Senior Pictures” to a “Heading to Work” portfolio to a “Hollywood Photo Shoot”, the possibilities are endless. And most likely, the number of times you scroll through the completed pictures will be too!
Because dahling …
And when you post your photos to social media, and in the comments here, add a #summerphotofun hashtag. I’ll be waiting!