Thursday, May 30, 2013

We Met on Our Bikes

Happy Birthday Lisa!  This is a day early because something happened today that I had to share.   
Well, it has actually been building up to today.  Rylee's BFF at school, Madeline, has a birthday 
today.  Rylee had me mark this on the calendar about two weeks ago.  Last week she picked out 
a few presents to give her friend.  And yesterday morning she picked out what she would wear on 
Madeline's bday.  Her shirt says something about friends on it.  She wore this same shirt on their 
first play date some months ago.  Out of the few things Rylee picked out for Madeline, the one she 
was most excited to give her was the "Best Friends Forever" necklace from Claire's.  She didn't 
even want to wait until she got to school; she said she wanted to give it to her on the bus.  I could 
actually see Rylee opening her backpack to retrieve the inexpensive treasure as her bus pulled away 
this morning.  I smiled because my heart was so happy to see my daughter starting to enjoy giving.   
I'm not delusional, she's six, and she’s all about receiving gifts.  I just couldn't help but be excited at 
the joy she was experiencing over thinking about someone besides herself or someone in her family.   
She notices things she wants to buy for other people more and more.  Granted, she's not forking over 
the money, and we have to say no often, but it's the thought that counts!  

Before my sixth grade "graduation".  Lisa sat through the absurdity, then we went to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch!
All this to say, I realized the first person, other than a family member, I was excited about giving 
presents to and making cards for was Lisa.  We grew up across the street from each other.  Her older 
brothers babysat my siblings and me.  We swam together, built forts, watched the Monkees, stuck up 
for each other, wrote letters to each other even when we lived just across the street, and also when Lisa 
moved away.  Lisa was happy to let me do her chores, because to me, feeding her farm animals was 
new and exciting.  For Lisa it was avoiding a monotonous task she had to complete daily.  She 
introduced me to pomegranates and kumquats, they grew in her backyard.   I also enjoyed one soda 
a week on Saturdays thanks to her mom, Sue.  Sue also prepared us the most amazing after-swim-meet 
breakfasts.  Sue can cook a mean waffle.  
Lisa was a grade ahead of me and when she moved away, I was devastated.  I didn't know how I would 
make it in Jr. High without her.  I did it, but it wasn't easy.  I visited Lisa every chance I got.   
She moved to a place where it snowed and we took advantage of sledding in the great outdoors.   
Time passed and the letters dissipated.  Then I moved even farther away, to another state and it got 
harder to maintain our friendship.  We were learning how to navigate high school, boys, 
peer pressure, life.  We were figuring out who we were and that takes a lot of time and energy.  When 
I visited California I would see Lisa and marvel at how much she changed.  She got so tall!  But for all 
the changing we were doing, going from girls to young women, Lisa didn't stop being my friend.   
The girl I grew up with was still there, thank goodness.  Now we talk once or twice a year.  We live in 
different states and far from where we grew up.  We both married men named John and we both have 
beautiful girls of our own.  We've experienced significant loss but know God has a plan for us.  We 
know we aren't each others BFFs anymore and that's okay.  We're still friends and love each other.   
It's the sweetest end to an era when it fades but doesn't leave a bitter taste in your mouth.
Lisa, Me, Dave (the eldest bro)  See, Lisa got way taller!
 I still have the half of my “Best Friend Forever” necklace that Lisa gave me. I don't remember when 
she gave it to me.  I don't remember if it was for a birthday or Christmas or when she moved.  It really 
doesn't matter.  It’s one of my prized possessions.  I still have the card she made me when I got the 
chicken pox, also a prized possession.  I cherish the fact she came to my wedding, and regret I couldn't 
make it to hers. No matter what, I had an amazing childhood and one of the biggest parts of that was 
because of Lisa.  I know my daughter may not have this current BFF, Madeline, forever, but her 
memories are starting now.  She's learning what it means to be a friend.  I'm glad I had someone like 
Lisa to help me learn how to be a friend. 


Saturday, May 11, 2013

She Still Teaches

I sat around a lot today.  A lot.  I watched Rylee play at a birthday party.  I watched Rylee play at a park.  I watched Rylee draw while we waited for John to do something at work.  I sat in the car while John took Rylee into a store so she could pick out a Mother's Day gift for me.  I sat around a lot today.  By the end of the day I was spent.  Sitting shouldn't make you tired, well it can whether you're 27 weeks pregnant or not.  If your brain isn't being stimulated, your whole body gets pooped.  I wasn't angry about my day, a little frustrated, but not angry.  Of course I would rather have been doing something a little more fun than waiting on everyone else.  I wait on my husband and kid most days now.  It's part of my life.  I'm not complaining, just acknowledging a fact.  When you are a stay at home mom, without the luxury of extreme wealth, you realize your job is your family.  It's not a chore, it's privilege.  You have to remind yourself of that fact sometimes. 
My mom pregnant with me, Jessica the Magnificent.
There are lots of moms out there who would rather stay at home to be with their kids.  Some are married, but still have to work.  I was there, I did that.  Some moms are on their own and working more than one job.  I cannot conceive how hard that must be for them.  I try to think of them on the days I want to get away from my kid.  I love my daughter, obviously, but if your entire day consisted of the company of only a six-year old, you might find yourself talking to strangers at the grocery store more often than is probably normal. 
Brand new mama, October 1978
I am now in a position where John and I are making life work without me having to actually go to work.  My mom stayed at home with my sister, brother, and I for a long time.  I have no complaints about my childhood.  It seemed pretty fun to me.  Here I am, on some days, exhausted by my one daughter, and I stop and think about my mom.  She had three to look after.  Granted, when there are multiple kids, they do a great job of occupying each other.  But there are moments when kids need something more.  For my siblings and I, it was water.  We were either in the pool or at the beach.  My mom watched three kids at the pool or at the beach a lot.  Sometimes more than three kids, if one of us brought a friend along.  Snacks, sunscreen, toys, sandy butts, tar covered toes, seagulls, towels blowing away, sunburns.  How did she do that without losing her mind?!  
I'm sure I never cried, and was always an angel.
I know I went through a phase where I could not sleep when it was bed time.  I would sneak and try to watch TV through this triangular shaped whole that was on our stairs.  I have no way to explain what that looked like, but I can tell you I was good at not getting caught.  The few times my parents did catch me I couldn't understand why they got so mad at me for being out of bed.  Sheesh, can't a girl watch a little Carson before bed?!  Yea, I get it now.  I get the yelling, "Back to bed now!"  Dad worked a hard day at the Gas Company.  Mom put up with our shenanigans all day, they wanted us to go away.  And then mom went back to work full-time after Caleb was in school.  How the hell did she do that?!  I still can't figure it out.  Now I understand the urgency in which my parents left for a weekend retreat with our church.  I can't prove it, but I'm pretty sure they skipped to the car while we were inside crying with a baby sitter.  And I swear the tires peeled out of the drive way as they left the house.

I have been so blessed to have so many amazing women in my life, who at one point or another have been there for me as if they were my own mom.  Those moms know who they are.  Over the years they may have received a mother's day card or two from me.  It's not out of obligation that I send them a card, but out of love and thanks for the love they have given me in their own unique way.

My mom, however, is the mom I admire most.  She's the mom I strive to be.  I remember being in the check-out line at a grocery store and watching my mom strike up a conversation with a stranger.  A seed was planted.  If my mom can laugh with a perfect stranger, so can I.  I have made friends this way.  Rylee sees me talk and laugh with strangers now.  Sometimes she asks if I know them as we are headed to the car.  I tell her no, but it's okay because that's how you meet people.  I tell her that if she's with me it's okay to talk to strangers, because you never know, you might be blessing them, or they might bless you.  My mom taught me friendship. 

October 2005

My mom has faced many struggles in her life.  Many of those she faced while being a mom.  Through all of those "character building" moments, my mom never stopped being there for me.  During many of the difficult things she was going through, I was too young to understand she could have used a break from us kids.  She didn't stop being my mom just because she was sad, upset, angry, hurt, or grieving.  The hardest thing about my brother's recent passing is seeing the hurt it has caused my parents.  I am a mom now.  I don't want to experience the pain my mom has experienced due to losing a child.  The past months my whole family has grieved in different ways.  I am now realizing I have put some of my grieving on hold, and I believe it's because I have had no choice.  I can't tell my daughter to go away because I want to lay in bed and not do anything.  I can't schedule a weekend where I send my daughter off to her aunt's so I can plan on grieving.  It doesn't work that way, I don't operate like that.  My mom has still been there for me when I have need to cry or vent or laugh, even in the midst of her own grief.
My mom taught me grace.

Three Generations

I don't remember the year, but I remember the gift.  There was a Mother's Day when my dad took us kids to pick something out for our mom.  I don't know what store we went to, but it was something like JCPenney's.  There it was, on a round display table with 100 other jewels just like it.  A "Genuine Austrian Crystal" clad heart-shaped pendant.  It sparkled like the Hope Diamond.  I had no idea what the Hope Diamond was back then, but now I know the cheap glass jewelry we saw was better than any real precious stone in the whole world.  "Dad, this is it!  This is what we want to get her!  Please Dad!  Pleeeeaaaasseeee!!!"  I don't remember if he hesitated, I don't remember what it cost, it doesn't matter, Dad paid for it.  It was probably $16.99, which to us was incredibly expensive because we had no concept of money.  And because we thought it was incredibly expensive, it made the present for mom that much more exciting.  Surely she would gasp, she would faint, she'd regain consciousness and cry tears of joy.  She'd hold us in her arms weeping over our generosity and impeccable taste.  Was is too much to think she might never make us do chores again?  One could hope!  But we didn't let ourselves get ahead of ourselves.  After all, this was mom's special day.  We couldn't think about our selfish dreams of not having to actually pick up after ourselves.  Do I remember the moment we gave it to her?  Nope, nothing.  Where is that "Genuine Austrian Crystal" clad heart-shaped pendant you ask?  In her jewelry box, missing several "Genuine Austrian Crystals", but it's still around.  

An Original Masterpiece by Rylee Roemer - May 11, 2013

My best Mother's Day memory as a mom, so far, was when Rylee walked a card over to me from across our living room.  She had just started walking so it was a very big deal.  I cried the happiest tears you can think of.  She's six now and this is the second year she has been excited to get me something.  Last year she set out to find me a necklace that had MOM and a heart on it.  John said she was waiting to find the right necklace.  She found one, and I love it.  I really do wear it.  It's after midnight as I finish writing this, now Mother's Day, so I don't know what she got for me yet, but it doesn't matter, I know I'll love it.  The thing that is making me so happy right now is that she is learning to read and write.  She has an amazing and detailed imagination.  When she is left to her own devices, she draws the cutest things and has the best stories to go with them.  In the midst of all that waiting I did today, Rylee surprised me with a drawing that brought me to tears.  The picture above is her giving me my Mother's Day gift and she drew me with a surprised face.  She didn't have to explain the picture, it's obvious what she was trying to convey.  And the words, "Happy Mother's Day" aren't perfectly spelled, but she's doing exactly what she should be doing, trying.  The "I love my mom", well, no words are necessary to explain how precious that is to me.
My mom taught me how to be a mom.

April 2013