Me and my little lightbulbs in the bluebonnets!

Me and my little lightbulbs in the bluebonnets!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Seven Years of Birth and Bravery

Today marks a birthday. And an anniversary. My youngest son was born seven years ago today, which, on its own is very hard to believe. It seems just yesterday I was holding his tiny little hand for the first time. Now, I see him sprouting into this young man full of vigor and lifethirst that astounds (and exhausts) me.

The day he was born marked the first day of my first real faith test. You see, up until that day I had worked full time for the same company for nearly eight years. I loved my job, but the call to be with my children was greater than my corporate ambitions.

This, let me point out, was not an easy decision. My husband and I prayed and talked and prayed some more before I finally went to my boss with the idea of forming my own company so I could work from home. He tried to entice me with a part-time option, but I knew it had to be all or nothing. Thankfully, he believed in me enough to give it a shot.

My husband and I made the same amount of money in those days, so my not bringing in a full-time income was going to be a huge risk. But, feeling led by the Lord, we did what we felt we needed to do.

I often tell people it was like jumping off a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean. The ship I was on was very comfortable, even fun. It had all the security I needed; I knew it would float in the midst of a storm. Still, how could I find out if I could swim if I didn't jump? So, that's what I did. 

Now, suddenly here I was with a newborn, a toddler and a new business. That's when the depression hit. I don't remember a lot about the first month after I brought Beau home. I was swimming through muddy waters at this point, dissolving into a puddle of tears for no reason several times a day. My mother finally drove me to the doctor where I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and given a mild anti-depressant.

Before too long, the waters cleared a bit and I could see a little better where I was going. The days, at first, were still challenging. I was suddenly wearing sweatpants instead of dress pants, carrying a diaper bag instead of a briefcase. I was growing human beings and a new business. It was, to say the least, daunting.

I can't even begin to count the number of times Beau accompanied me, diaper bag and all, to business meetings with new clients snuggled into his baby carrier.

We kept swimming.

Over time, I figured out how to balance diaper duty and conference calls, and still managed to work with my toddler on his ABCs.

Today, that toddler is 10 and his little brother is 7. They are amazing little people, full of fun and life, intelligence and imagination. And I can't imagine not being here to witness it.

I won't lie. There have been moments over these last seven years (particularly when wiping poop or barf off of something) when I have had nostalgic longings for the "working world." 

I've often wondered what would have happened to my career had I not left at its height. But, then I look at those two beautiful faces and remember the firsts I witnessed in person: first smiles, first walks, first days of school, first heartbreaks.

I realize that I might have abandoned the ability to buy an expensive home, new cars and fancy vacations for my family by making the choice I did. But, in the end, I realize how much more we have because we followed God's guidance.

I wish beyond words that every woman had the opportunity and ability to chart their own course. Because, as I celebrate my son's birthday, I also celebrate the seventh anniversary of a brave choice - one that has given me much more than I deserve. One that I am ever thankful for.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"Take Your Hands Out Of Your Pants!" and Other Things I Never Thought I'd Say Until I Had Boys

I used to be an equal opportunity thinker. As a Southern quasi-feminist, I always thought the only real difference between boys and girls was strictly anatomy. I mean, we're all human, right? That was before I had to RAISE boys. They have a tribal instict that is not nearly as prevalent in girls, making them part human and part animal. I say this with love, of course. Because, while, keeping them clean and clothed presents a challenge, they are the greatest huggers ever, and those are well worth the effort.

Need evidence that boys are part animal? Here are seven things I never thought I'd say before I had these little lovable critters: 

1) Yes, you have to wear underwear. Always. 

I actually spoke these words to my 6-year-old when he insisted this was an option. I'm convinced he will grow up to be a nudist someday. You see, boys think that most clothing is not so much a necessity as it is a consideration. And, if you can actually wrestle them into something passable as clothing, they will find a way to shed it as soon as possible, as evidence by the trail of socks I have to pick up throughout the house every day. 

2) Stop killing your brother! 

Thankfully, this was during a pretend sword fight. But, when sticks are involved, sometimes you have to step in. Given how they play together sometimes, however, I do wonder if this is a comment I may have to utter in a real-life situation one day. Let's hope not. 

3) That's not where we pee! 

This was to my now 10-year-old when he was 6. I caught him peeing in the front yard as cars passed by. Boys seem to view the entire outside world as their own public toilet. The only place they seem to have difficulty urinating is actually IN the toilet. Go figure. 

4) Take your hands out of your pants when you talk to me. 

My 6-year-old seems to immediately assume this position whenever he's stationary. Reading a book. Talking to me. Watching TV. Why is this comforting? I have no idea. But, it's an on-going issue that my female brain is still trying to comprehend. 

5) Don't talk to your brother while he's on the pot. 

Really? Why must I even HAVE to say this? It seems my boys are constantly having deep and meaningful conversations with each other when the other one is going to the bathroom. This. Is. Beyond. Me. Not to mention, highly inappropriate. If I'm still saying this when they're teenagers, then I think therapy is a must - for them as well as me.

6) Stop sticking things up your nose. 

My 6-year-old followed in his father's footsteps when he was just 4 years old by lodging no less than six green beans up his nostrils. We couldn't believe it! Just when we were poised to rush him to the ER, he sneezed them out, much to our relief. But, since then, he's continued to experiment with other objects, like rocks, forks and straws. At one point he managed to lodge the tiniest Lego coin (literally two millimeters in diameter) into his ear canal. After I (breathlessly) eased it out with a pair of tweezers, I lectured him on sticking things into his ears. Still, there could be a whole cache of toys in there I know nothing about. Go figure!

7) Take the bucket off your head. We're going to church. 

When my oldest child was around 2 years old, he received a Wendy's meal in a bright orange Halloween bucket. After lunch, he commenced to wearing said bucket on his head. Everywhere. All the time. We would go to the store, he'd put on the bucket. We'd go for a walk around the neighborhood in his toy car, on came the bucket. He even slept with the darn thing. He did this for nearly two years. I was, officially, the mother of the bucket head. And, you know what? I didn't really mind. I mean, how many times can you actually get away with wearing a bucket on your head? Not when you're an adult, that's for sure (unless you want to be committed). So, he wore the bucket until his head got too big for it. Not all boys wear buckets, but costumes in different forms seem to come with the territory. So, if you are having boys, my advice is stock up on helmets, swords, cowboy vests and toy guns. You're going to need them.

Needless to say, much of my scolding has to do with bathroom matters. I'll never quite understand what in the world boys are thinking, but I do know there's never a dull moment. And, you know what? I wouldn't change a thing. Well, maybe I would wish they could aim better, but otherwise ...