Posts in parenthood
Jesus on Wheels

My daughters used to attend Sunday School every Sunday. I was more likely to let them play hooky, only because I could hardly sit in church for an entire hour without agitating all the church ladies by my swinging leg and picking the polish off my fingernails. But I wanted the kids to know the Bible stuff, the God stuff, the prayer stuff, at least be educated - when they are old enough, they can decide what to investigate, what to believe in.

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When my oldest was 8, she was absolutely fascinated by Jesus. We’d drive by a nativity scene on a rotary at Christmas, adhere to the 25 mpg speed limit along the outer edge of the circle five times, so she could glimpse Jesus over and over again. Every time we’d find ourselves within a mile of that rotary, she’d yell "Let's go see Jesus!!!!" When I tell you I found the secret to make this kid’s day, I REALLY mean it - I found the secret to making her day.

There's a children's book about the history of the candy cane and part of that history is that when you turn a candy cane upside down, it becomes a "J" for Jesus. She thought that was pretty neat-o. What she didn't understand was the explanation in the book for the red and white stripes...that the red was symbolic for Jesus' blood running down his body when he was crucified. HOLY COW! Her questions about "why were all those people mean to him?" and "will I die?" began to flow. (don't ask me how I answered them because I don't think I could repeat my simple child-appropriate answers back to her without freaking out)

At the mall there was a kiosk of beautiful hand carved miniatures, of the last supper, Jesus on the cross, the nativity, Mary and Joseph and the donkey traveling along a dirt road. This kiosk took priority over Build-a-Bear, the hermit crab kiosk, even McDonalds.

Once in a toy section of a shop in Boston, we came across a display of action figures. Later during lunch with friends, my eldest yelled, "Guess what action figure I saw today!" Everyone guessed…."Superman?" No. "Batman?" No. "Wonderwoman? Bionic Man? Spiderman? Stretch-man?" Noooooooooo.

My little girl stood up on her seat, stretched her arms out wide and with a big grin on her face yelled "JESUS!!!!!!"

Yes, in fact, there were actions figures of Jesus. I bought her one for her birthday that year. He still hangs around in the kitchen - and he has wheels.

Even better though, at Christmas a few years ago, we were out walking around in the newly fallen snow and went into a quaint Christmas shop. Room after room after room of Christmas stuff. A snowman room. A Santa room. A crystal room. A caroler room. A Nativity room. A Christmas train room. Wait....A NATIVITY ROOM!!!!! Of course, we spent some time there, checking out “all the Jesus-es”, as my daughter continuously marveled.

Obviously, we had to come home with a nativity, which we did. Beautifully handcrafted and painted tin nativity manger, along with Jesus, Mary, Joseph, three wise men, some cows, sheep and a donkey.

For weeks leading up to Christmas, at some point each day, I’d hear this little voice calling from the other room "Hey! HEY! HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEY! Anyone wanna play JESUS???"

No Title.
My girls at a concert last year, front row and center...

My girls at a concert last year, front row and center...

There are those things that make me really stop, as I know they have done to you. That is why I can't even come up with a title for this.

The fact of the matter is that we are left wide open to the casually and purposely cruel who are out roaming the world, wielding guns and home made bombs, pushing the gas pedal to the floor, heading towards crowds. When we wake up on days where overnight someone's world has been rocked to it's core, our eyes are forced open wider than before.

And so here I am, my teenage daughters are inside The House of Blues in Boston in a sold out show, likely in the mosh pit of teenagers, screaming against the stage and attempting to take a selfie with the band in the background, and touch the lead singer as he leans out over the crowd. I am walking circles around the block. I am stepping in for another appetizer two doors down at the Lansdowne Pub. I am walking back up to the front door of the concert venue. I am texting them to be sure their phones are still charged and they are standing upright, happy and safe.

My youngest daughter went to school without my seeing her face a few Mondays ago, and was shown a video of the Las Vegas massacre in her History class. 

Like everything, what becomes history is feeling bigger and bigger every day.

When I was my kids' ages, things that I remember worrying about were earthquakes, fires on the hillside and the homeless clan that lived under the bridge on the beach below our house. I know there were more worldly problems at the time, but we were protected by the non-existence of text alerts, the internet, and our household rule of limited television. We had drills to protect from falling earthquake debris and fire, not ones that taught the standard protocol for a bomb scare or a shooter in elementary school hallways.

In 1986, I distinctly remember the school administration wheeling a television into my 7th grade science class and playing the footage of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, which had happened earlier that day. But that...while that was history, it was an accident that occurred due to science, malfunction, and really really bad luck, not the malfunction of unconditional love for the human race, which is occurring more and more every day.

When that Sunday night happened in Vegas, my thoughts went to our day this past May at the Boston Calling Music Festival, less than a week after the bombing at Ariana Grande in Manchester, England. Within days of the bombing, I was the point person for every child we knew who was going to the festival, as I was the lone local parent who would be inside the gates with their children that day. 

I drove down to Boston alone with my two teenage girls, I didn't know the area or anyone else attending. Once we got through security, it was just masses of people walking around green lawns in the sunshine, music playing, with beer taps, lobster rolls and steak sandwiches. In retrospect, I don't remember seeing security inside the event, but I know they were there, perhaps disguised as a concert goer. The spotty cell service and crowds caused me to plant myself on the turf in between two stages where a text message could slowly eek in and out to my kids, with a stack of snacks and pile of water bottles, my phone charging three times over with the help of my back up battery pack.

When I was browsing around the internet this week, trying to find a ticket for myself to go inside the House of Blues concert with them, having second thoughts about dropping my girls off in line, I stumbled across the information that U.S. has already suffered 273 mass shootings in 2017. They say that likely we didn’t hear about all of them. I know I didn't. How is this even possible? 2017 isn't even over yet. That is almost "one per day" if my terrible math talents serve me right. Even if my math is wrong, that is 273 too many. 

I suppose that now, we have more to fear. Or we know to fear more. I am not sure sure which way it goes. As my girls strike out in independence, on the train to the city, flights across the country on their own, I breathe deep and try not to browse the internet too much to read of tragedies that happened too close to home. As they go to concerts with me, or without me, that's when I realize that there is no way to save ourselves from what can come at us in the world. I am just their mum sitting outside on the front steps of the venue because I was letting them be independent and didn't buy a ticket for myself. T I was raised to pray, and even still, I don't know how to do that. I was raised to trust, and even now, I am not sure how I can do that. It is all about learning, teaching, taking the right, sound steps, making decisions, and breathing deep and getting through. 

 

Bulletin: Driver's license passed - my first child has her license
driver's license

If we are Facebook friends, you might remember a post with my daughters on their way to the mall...gulp...on their own. My eldest passed her exam last week, and in a two second call to our insurance company, she was insured and on her way to the mall with her 14 year old sister.  

Of course for the last few weeks we have been practicing that drive to the mall, because in my Mom-mind, I wanted to be sure she knew which exit to take, when to use the blinker, which three lanes to cross over, which entrance to use, and where to park (because I wanted to teach her that if you always park in the same place, you never forget which entrance to go through when you leave. Brilliant, right? Apparently, according to her, I am the only person on the planet who can't remember where she's parked at the mall).

You don't think about those moments or the few first hours, how you feel when your child drives off for the first time in the car. The fact that we are sharing a car means I'm stuck home, in my own head, awaiting for her return. I was asked if I was "nervous". I wasn't "nervous" about her, because she is a good driver...but I am "NERVOUS" because of all the other wackos on the road who are not. Nervous doesn't even skim the surface, I am nervous because she's my child and I'm her mom.

The first time she took off in the car, which was last Tuesday, I wandered the house for an hour and did things like wipe baseboards, organize the spices, and went on a hunt for our Puerto Rican cats. Somehow they know exactly when I REALLY want to hold them, because that's when they disappear. I finally downed two glasses of Cabernet (because hey, I wasn't going to be driving anywhere) and went for a five mile walk.

The upside is that in the last week MY driving time has been cut in half, and I've found myself working more and even sitting down with a glass of wine in my pajamas watching movies like "Under the Tuscan Sun". She has taken herself to work while I stay home, driven her sister to friends' houses, made a candy run to Walgreens, deposited money into her bank account without me, and announced that she was going to the grocery store for vegetables, since we were out. She has driven to meet friends for lunch at Lobsta Land (as if she's 25 and not 16!) and I'm not particularly sure, but pretty sure she's joy ridden around the back shore at least three times and chewed the three packs of gum I keep in the console. 

There's really nothing more to say except that I felt the need to document this. We are one week in and the feeling of time on my hands, feeling of uselessness as a mom, and the urge to take away the keys because I'm just not ready for Baby Anna to be driving "up the line" to the mall, is all pretty immense. 

The end. If you have kids too, you know what I'm talking about.