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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Father Knows Best

There's something about Jamie most people don't know.  He has no clue who his father is.  Well, he has a CLUE, but not a good lead.  He was raised thinking this one man was his father and after two DNA tests it turns out...nope, not him.  There was one other guy his mom said it might be and we contacted him sometime back and after the initial momentum, the dude dropped the ball and we didn't pick it back up for him.  He wasn't really someone we wanted to be a big part of our life anyways, all things considered, but has to be weird not knowing exactly who your dad is.

Jamie's main role model was his grandfather, who I hear was a pretty excellent guy. I never got a chance to know him. He passed away when I was two months shy of bringing Kyle into the world.  I know there are parts about him that show through in Jamie, but we still both wonder about his real dad.  I mean, especially when it comes to things like medical history.  Some guy out there has 7 grandkids and a really amazing man for a son, and he has nothing to do with him.  This just blows my mind on a regular basis.

But what amazes me even more is despite this glaring hole in Jamie's life, he is the most amazing father.  Balanced, fair, loving, inspiring, always on the lookout for ways to bless his wife and his children, compelling us to be better people.  His role is a hard one and he does it with amazing grace.  He has taken this role seriously and every now and then he calls me to the mat. I never love it, but I love him for it.

Yesterday was one such day and I just got one word for y'all: OUCH!!  He called me out big time and in doing so, called himself out and we had to deal with the fact that there is something we are screwing up.  I got really mad at the kids yesterday over something kind of lame.  They lost something I needed and this happens on a regular basis.  I get so offended, thinking they could at least TRY to consider me.  You know, the martyr thing.  Being upset about this thing wasn't the reaction was.  I apologized to everyone before I left, but still, Jamie noticed something and so he wrote me this big thing.  I was afraid to read it, so he paraphrased it and I was left feeling know what I mean?  He's right.

I could do the same thing I asked and paraphrase the whole thing, but I'll let his words speak for themselves.  I am humbled.

This morning you had promised something to someone that you do not know.  I understand that you were trying to bless someone with our excess.  You have a heart of giving, and that is a beautiful thing.  However, something went awry and some of the other parts that you had promised could not be found.  I understand that this embarrassed you.  It would do the same to me.  But the way that you responded was not appropriate.  You were very angry and dissatisfied with your family.  I wish that you would have stopped and looked at their faces.  Calla looked as if she could cry when she was outside looking.  You tore down your family and cut strings trying to serve someone else who is not part of this family.  You allowed your embarrassment to manifest as anger toward your family. 
This is a frequently occurring thing.  On many occasions you have something go missing and tend to think that the kids are out to get you.  Believe me, I know it is frustrating.  The boys take off with my tools (mainly Elijah) all of the time.  So what happens if I get angry and vent my frustration on them?  They will finally leave them alone.  And yes, I am guilty of that one.  Is that the outcome that I want?  Do I really want Eli to leave my tools alone?  If he didn't ever try to use them to create anything, I could probably always find them.  Is it so important to me to be able find things when I need them to stifle his development?  I don’t think that it is.

Think about the things that go missing for you or just messed with.  Knitting needles, crochet needles, makeup, pens, notebooks.  I am sure there are plenty other things that come to mind right now.  And I know that we have “lame brain” kids that leave things here and there and don’t pay attention.  Why do they mess with your things?  It is because they want to be like you.  Think about Eli building shit and playing the banjo.

 I would like to call to attention what the kitchen or your bedroom looks like when you are “creating” something.  A new dish or desert will leave things all over the place in the kitchen.  When sewing, there are scraps of fabric and needles all over the place.  When knitting or tearing apart a sweater little wisps of yarn abound.  Why is that?  Because you are in the moment and focused on creating something.  The thought on your mind is “I wonder what this will taste like or look like”.  And you can’t wait to share it with someone else and be proud of your creation.  I will do a similar thing when I am working on the house or something in the garage.  I am not thinking about the clean up or organization of things, I am thinking about what I have created.  Then, afterwards we have the responsibility developed in us to take action to remedy the situation.  The kids are not quite there yet, but when something does go missing it is an opportunity to develop them. 

Maybe the little bag of bottle parts got thrown into the trash.  I am sure they were probably on the floor.  With kids trying to clean up, they probably grabbed them with another pile of something and didn't even notice they were throwing away something of value.  I am sure that they were focused on making Mom happy by cleaning the van.  Also, I bet that kids look at donate stuff like trash.  It is something that they see as going away as if it is not important to us.  So why does it matter if it gets thrown away?  We don’t need it, right? 

The anger and frustration that we show your family when things like this happens is wrong.  We should not let material things get in the way of building relationships in our family.  Let’s do a hypothetical situation.  Let’s say Eli was messing with my banjo and dropped it and it broke in two pieces.  Would it benefit anything if I threw a hellacious fit?  He would already feel miserable that he did something that let me down.  That would build his character and cause him to be much more careful.  If I am forgiving of him and not condemning I will maintain a good relationship with him.  Maybe even tie some strings.  If I yell and throw a fit, he may decide he wants nothing to do with banjos ever again, and feel guilt that may stay with him for a lifetime. 
So what if they lose or destroy things?  The following verse comes to mind.
Matthew 6:20 - But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
Please take this to the cross with me Melissa.  I think that once we do, you will notice that this will no longer be a problem.   We need to take these opportunities that come as a chance to build their character, not tear it down.

He's right.  I am humbled.  Even after 15 years of doing this Mom gig, I'm still taking it to the cross.  Probably always will I suppose because I don't know where else I'd find such grace.  My frustrations might be based in righteousness but boy my reactions aren't.  To know better, is to do better, right??

Monday, May 6, 2013

If I'm the Apple, Where's My Tree??

It took me over thirty years to get to this place.  A place of remorse for not paying better attention.  Oh, I have memories, for sure....floaty, obscure memories, but they just don't quite get to answering questions I have and at this point it's almost too late.

My grandmother is well on her way to 90 years old, and we aren't particularly close.  That's just not how things are done in my family.  I know she loves me and I her, but we've never really had a connection like I eventually formed with my husband's grandmother.  Yet, I know somewhere, in some ways we are so alike and I wish I had noticed this long before now, before her frail body and mind become confused and not really able to have the talks I wish I could have with her.

And then there's my dad.  On a balmy Friday, a few hours before he was supposed to pick me up for the weekend, I was called home from a friend's house.  My mother and stepfather were sitting on the couch, serious faces...and I thought 'Oh  boy am I in trouble."  But I wasn't.  My father had suffered a fatal heart attack hours before and I wasn't to see him again.  I'm still not sure how I feel about that.  My father adored me and I have only good memories of him, however my older siblings have nothing but bad ones and so there's no one with whom I can talk to about what about me might be from him and that's been hard since becoming a mother.

Yet, I look at my own mother and know that all this crazy stuff about me had to come from somewhere other than her.  We are nothing alike.  She likes romance novels, I like non-fiction.  She isn't hands on with anything, I simply have to create.  I write, she does not.  Never did.  She likes numbers, I think they are devil's spawn.  I am frugal, she never used cash for anything that I can remember.  Simply put, I think I was adopted.  Or something.

Recently my mind has stumbled upon a memory that's so poignant yet so, well..... lame, and I've been mulling it over. And over.  I was sitting with in my grandmother's house, hosted for a few days for Christmas while Jamie was out to sea.  Kyle was a mere toddler and Calla was on her way.  My grandmother's living room looked differently than it had when I had  been there before, and she was explaining what she had done.  She first selected a floral couch that had a pink she loved, and then she found two Queen Anne chairs covered in a mauve silky looking fabric that complemented it nicely.  At yet another store she found an antique table with matching legs to the chairs and pulled off a very dainty, ladylike room.  She was proud of the coordinating blinds and everything was in it's place, tastefully and beautifully arranged.  She seemed so lively and invested in creating this beautiful space and I remember feeling in awe of her.  Here she was, well into the golden years and still had the passion to create a beautiful space in which to dwell.  My mother's house? Still has the same wall grouping she ordered from a mail order catalog back when I was like 12.  I swear, nothing has changed at all.  I go into the bathroom and giggle at the crap *I* put up on in walls in 7th grade, trying to recreate the beautiful homes of my friends, whose mothers kept them decorated and maintained   I was so embarrassed by my house when I was a child.  

Looking back at my father's house, in pictures, I do find it a bit odd that it's also tastefully (for the time) decorated and can't help but wonder why a bachelor had potted plants everywhere and hand-written scriptures and quotes tacked to the wall.  I wish I could ask him (or anyone about this) but my father is like the "One Who Shall Not Be Named" to anyone who knew him.  

So I am left wondering where this drive in ME comes from.  I love old things.  I have a passionate desire to fill my space with beauty, antiquity and things that tell the story of who I am and what I value.  I would never (evereverever) go into a store, find a set of things that look pretty and bring it into my home to decorate.  I feel like that's cheating and completely killing my creative spirit.  But this also means at times, my house looks downright tacky.  See, I've followed the advice in all my country living magazines that say "If you love it, bring it home and it will all be okay eventually."  Man, that's hard . I can't see the end picture or what it will look like and the thing is, you can't walk into an antique store and furnish your home the way you can with places like Rooms To Go.  (Funnily enough I LOVE the way those rooms look and other people's houses.  I find the cohesiveness relaxing, yet if I had to live with it every day, I couldn't handle it....why is that??)  I feel like I'm busy collecting orphans (in a totally non Angelina Jolie way.  My orphans are inanimate so I don't have to worry so much about killing my food budget) hoping they will all get along.  I have everything from old cast iron and vintage Pyrex, to antique furniture I've found here and there.  When I bring something in, it does look nice, but there are tweaks that need made and so far, I'm just not entirely happy with what I've got going. It's a process (Hey, that sounds my house in general.  Did I mention I think DIY remodeling should be against the law? Because when you go this route, your kitchen will suck for many years while you are busy on the rest of the house.)

Right now, I'm staring at my prized chairs from last year, knowing they desperately need recovered and not knowing how or what to do with them (You know what else should be against the law?  White, or cream, or ivory or anything remotely LIKE it being brought into a house with children.)

Remember these?

I had no delusions that these would last forever.  They are just too old for that fabric to survive in this house. When I placed both of these by the big window, within a couple weeks the fabric on the arms started to fade.  I am thinking these were originally in a place without a lot of natural light and you can see beyond all the flowers, these are technically white.

I've priced having them professional reupholstered and it's steep.  REALLY steep and if our house wasn't bustling with so much activity, that wouldn't bother me. But it is.  So even brand new upholstery job will eventually look....used.  (On a related note, I have actually considered having a lobotomy to remove that part of my brain which tells me it IS possible to have a home worthy of Better Homes and Gardens while raising a big family.  Then I realized that operation was kind of expensive and for a lower cost I could buy adequate breasts, and really, if I'm going under the knife...I'd just rather have spectacular cleavage  than realistic expectations when it's all said and done)

So the next logical thing to consider is slipcovers.  Only there isn't one on the entire planet (Fiji?  Yup I totally checked Fiji artisans on Etsy, they don't have them either) that will fit these chairs.  Wingbacks? Yes, but with t-cushions, not square.  They just do not exist.

Me sewing them you say? Bwhahaha! 


Can I sew?  Yes.  Quite well actually.  And if the thing I'm sewing is one dimensional, like a quilt, I'm quite happy to do it.  Any more dimensions than that and I start channeling 1980's Eddie Murphy (my new reference when I'm embarrassed about my language proclivities)

And this is definitely multi-dimensional.  Apparently when you want to create a slipcover, you have to do all this pattern making, pinning, sewing, checking, pinning, sewing some more and this is just not going to happen.

I need a seamstress that won't want to kill me when he/she is done with making slipcovers for this.  I'm thinking of trying to find someone locally.

Unless someone out there can point me to non-ugly-properly fitting slipcovers for these.