(Flashback Friday)Don’t It Always Seem To Go . . .

What can I say – the holidays make me all kinds of nostalgic.  This “blast from the past” seemed appropriate.

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.

Flashback – Best Christmas Gift Ever

The beautiful young ladies in this video are my daughters.  (Ignore the close-up moments of a teary-eyed me; my son was under strict orders from his sisters to zoom in on my face because they knew it was highly likely that I would cry!).  The song comes from a movie called “The Chipmunk Adventure” that was a childhood favorite of my girls.  The movie stars the Chipmunks – Alvin, Simon and Theodore – as well as their female counterparts, the Chipettes – Brittany, Jeanette, and Eleanor.  My girls watched the movie CONSTANTLY and loved this song.  And each of them can tell you EXACTLY which Chipette is “theirs”.They decided to surprise me by performing an original three-part arrangement of the song for Christmas this year.  My youngest daughter arranged the piece – with some helpful tweaks from the oldest – and they rehearsed in secret when the two younger girls were home from college for Christmas break.  I am blessed beyond words and humbled that they felt I was worthy of such a priceless gift!

Flashback Friday – To a Mom I Never Knew

**I still smile every time I read this one.  It was such a memorable moment.

An Open Letter to the mom in Barnes & Noble:

I saw you.  You and both of your adorable little guys.  At least, I assume they were both yours.  One called you “mom” and I’m not sure who, besides a mom, would brave the mall on the day after Black Friday with two young men who didn’t look quite old enough to be in school yet!  Big crowds and two little ones in tow without another adult along?!  Only a mother would be that nuts!

They were adorable. I’m not just talking the mini-sized flannel shirt and little “work boots” on the older boy.  Or the adorable curls and blue eyes on the littlest guy.  The way they interacted with each other was just too cute for words.

They were SO excited to be at the bookstore.  And they were EXTRA excited that they EACH got to take a book home.  They were showing each other the “best parts” of their books, pointing excitedly at the Christmas decorations hanging in the store, talking about the “cool sweatshirt” that another customer had on . . . they were having a blast.

Were they loud?  Not really.  I mean, not for their ages.  They were excited and the volume was that of a child who was having a moment he simply did not want to forget.  There was so much to see and be excited about – they didn’t want to miss any of it so they were very eager to point it all out to each other.  But too loud?  Not even close.

Those boys were wonderfully well-behaved  – they excused themselves when people needed to get down the aisle they were in, when the youngest dropped his book the oldest stopped and said, “I can get that for you”, the oldest was careful to warn the younger one when he almost stepped in front of a customer . . . all in all, very well-behaved men-in-training.

Then I took a good look at you, mom.  And I saw the tight set in your shoulders, the fact that your eyes kept darting to all of the adults within hearing distance of your little men . . . you were just waiting for that one cranky adult to rear his or her ugly head.  You were waiting for the first eye roll and sigh, for the first comment along the lines of “It would be so nice if people would teach their children how to behave in public” to be said just loudly enough for you to hear.

And my heart hurt for you.  There was nothing about the way those boys were acting that should have angered anyone and certainly nothing for you to be worried about!  But the way you kept “reading the room” told me that you had heard unkind things before.  You’ve run into people who have nothing kind to say about anyone who isn’t exactly like them.  The oldest smiled at me and said, “Mom’s getting me this book!” and showed me his choice – Giraffes Can’t Dance – so I smiled back and said, “That’s a great book.” (It really is – fantastic lesson in that one!) His smile got even bigger and he said, “I know!” Then he turned to you – “Mom!  She likes this book too!”  I think I’m officially a cool kid with the preschool/early elementary set now.  You simply smiled at him and said, “I heard honey.  Shall we go pay?”  And the little guy piped up, “Then ice cream, right?!”  This time it was your smile that grew when you said, “Right.”

I tell you all of this, stranger, to say that it was a joy to watch your two boys even for a moment or two.  They were enjoying one another’s company, being very good to each other, and were excited about having a new book to read!  I wish I could have told you all of that in the store.  I wish I could have encouraged you to simply enjoy the friendly banter and ignore the cranks.  I wish I could have told you that you must be doing more than a few things right after what I saw today. Oh! And enjoy the ice cream!

And those cranky people who feel the need to roll their eyes, sigh or make negative comments?  Just remember this – some people have to leave their emotional “ick” all over the place in the hopes that other will step in it and become just as cranky as they are.  They have to find SOME way to justify their own grumpy attitude!  So ignore the grumps, cuddle your boys, and read them those awesome new books you bought for them today.  (And one last thing – spoiler:  Gerald the Giraffe finds out that he can, indeed, dance after all!)

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.

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?!