Wednesday, August 29, 2007

then and now

I walk briskly, pushing the double stroller, hoping to burn off the half-a-package of Oreos I ate instead of dinner. The sugar gives me quick energy, but ultimately lets me down. At least the babies have stopped screaming. From five to seven, nobody’s happy. I walk by the neighborhood school and try to imagine my babies as boys, going to school. Five more years. In five years, I think, I will have a life. I’ll spend more time on my writing, organize my closet, and clean out the garage. I’ll stop eating Oreos for dinner and get more exercise. I’ll have lunch with friends. Surely in five years I’ll have a friend? In five years, I’ll have time for me. It will be my turn.

I navigate baby b.’s stroller down the sidewalk and chat with the noisy boys as we walk to school. “Is today gym?” Twin B. asks.
Twin A. answers authoritatively, “No. Today is ORANGE day. I think it might be music.”
“Actually,” I respond, “it’s yellow day. And you guys have gym on different days. Honestly, I don’t know if it’s gym today or not, B. But you’re wearing your gym shoes, so you’ll be ready either way!” The noisy boys get a kick out of the color system our school uses to keep track of “special” days like gym and art. Or maybe they’re just amused that I cannot for the life of me figure the system out. Either way, it’s a common topic of conversation.

I offer quick hugs as they run to join their classmates and walk briskly home. I put baby b. down for his nap and look around. Three baskets of laundry need folding, the lunch dishes need to be put in the dishwasher, I have four phone calls to return, the kitchen floor crunches, and the family room looks like a bomb went off. I fold laundry while I return phone calls, do the dishes, sweep, and defrost chicken for our dinner tonight. I think about an article I want to write while I snap green beans. Maybe tomorrow, I think, as I get baby b. up for the walk back to school, glancing at the still-messy family room. Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, August 27, 2007


New notebooks, markers, and pencils weigh down the noisy boys’ school bags as they excitedly march down the sidewalk, ahead of me and their dad and their baby brother. We walk the four blocks to school and join the throng of children and parents and cameras, all commemorating this first important day. Other Moms wipe their eyes, and I determine not to be one of them. I focus on the noisy boys—this is their day, not mine, and I truly am excited for them. This strategy works right up until the end, when they line up behind their respective teachers, and I notice that all of the other children are waving at their parents, while the noisy boys are completely focused on eachother, waving and calling out: “Goodbye A.!”
“Goodbye, B. Good luck!”

That’s when I lost it.

It’s also when I realized that separating them was a bigger deal than I expected it to be. And so it is. I am in new territory and it’s overwhelming, but God is here too. And I have a really, really big new calendar ready to hang on the wall.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Authentic Parenting Blog Tour

Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture
by Mary E. DeMuth
Harvest House, July 1, 2007

“Just pick one,” my sister-in-law encouraged me many years ago. I was overwhelmed by the amount of infant-care information out there, and turned to her for advice. “If you start reading too many books, it’s too much. Just find one that you trust and go with it.” Good advice. Back then it was “The Baby Book” by Dr. Sears. That was my no nonsense guide to caring for the two premature, squirming infants in my arms.

Dealing with tandem feedings and diaper rash is one thing, but most of us find that the problems of parenting get more complicated as children get older. The issues are no longer black and white, or even easily defined. I agreed to participate in this blog tour for Mary E. Demuth’s new book, “Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture,” because the title appealed to me. I read the book cover-to-cover in a matter of days, and it resonates with me. Part memoir, part how-to, this book draws on her experience as a church planter in France, and the journey of faith God took her family on while they were serving there. Watching her children struggle in school and deal with bullies and unfair teachers and people hostile to Christianity, Mary did what every Mother I know would do: she freaked out. And then she went a step further and chose to trust God with her children. Again and again.

I found so much wisdom in this book.

Mary writes, “What is the goal of parenting as postmodernity kicks at our heels? Producing perfect children who fit into our American box of Christianity (which leans far more toward commercialism and materialism than we’re willing to admit)? Or is it to raise children who are infatuated with the person of Jesus? Who know life’s not all about them?”

This resonates with me.

Mary writes, “What would our families look like if freedom rather than control measured how well we were following truth? As we parent from infant to toddler to child to young adult, could we see more freedom as our children age? Less adherence to legalism and more capacity to actually walk a faith journey with Jesus?”

If you know me at all, either in real life or through this blog, you know that this is what I’m about. My goal as a Mother is to raise children who love Jesus and are ready to fly. As I nurture their God-given gifts and passions, I pray that they will find productive and meaningful roles in society. And as my children grow and become increasingly independent, I pray for the courage to lovingly guide them on their journeys, but ultimately, to trust God. He loves my kids even more than I do. This book is a beautiful reminder to me today, the second day of Kindergarten for the noisy boys: God is faithful.

I highly recommend this book. Whether you’re a newbie or veteren parent, you will find encouragement here. To purchase, click here.

Be sure to check out the other blogs participating on the Authentic Parenting Tour this week. For a complete listing of the blogs participating in the six week tour, visit here.
Ane Mulligan
A Peek at My Bookshelf
Candle Blog
Declaring His Marvelous Work
Five Bazillion and One
Generation NeXT Parenting
Holy Experience
Hopeful Happenings
In the Dailies
Leap of Faith
Lift My Noise
Llama Momma
Soul Scents
The View from Here
Write On Edge

Monday, August 20, 2007

Look at me

Imagine the scene: You see him from across the courtyard; his body is limp, and his face is etched with hopelessness, as two strong men carry him. He’s big and heavy, and the men struggle under the load, finally setting him down next to the gate near where you’re standing. The crippled man keeps his eyes down, and holds his hands out, hoping to earn enough money through begging to eat today. You watch from a distance, and then walk over to talk to the man. “Look at me,” you say. And then you give this man what you have: the power of Christ to work in his life.

I often imagine myself in the scene of scripture to try to capture the beauty and power of the passage. I’m no theologian, but this scene at the beginning of Acts 3 moves me to tears. Today I imagined from a different perspective: that of Peter instead of the crippled beggar.

I immediately thought of my friend,Kathy Bolduc. Her book His Name is Joel, chronicles her journey as a Mother with a child who is autistic. I met Kathy at a writer’s retreat, and her powerful story has stayed with me. One of the things she discusses in her book is how churches can reach out to families who have children with special needs. Expecting to find information on how to form a committee or special program, I was surprised to find her simple advice: accept this child. Welcome him or her into your faith community. Look them in the eyes and talk to them.

I thought of this advice today. Too often, we look away from need. It makes us uncomfortable, especially when we can do nothing to fix it. But as a follower of Jesus, I need to look people in the eyes. I need to see from His perspective, instead of my own.

I cannot offer a solution to the problems of the world, but I can give people this simple dignity: look at me. And I pray that as they do, I will reflect the acceptance and love of Christ.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

it gets better

Today was the Teddy Bear picnic for the noisy boys. Families pack lunches and head over to the school playground to meet other Kindergarten parents. Finally. A Kindergarten event that I can’t screw up! Oh. Unless you’re actually supposed to BRING a teddy bear to this picnic, which you were. And apparently the noisy boys were telling the truth when they said that EVERYONE has a Webkinz except for them. Yup. That about sums it up.

Oh, and I was the only Mom with two name tags. For whatever reason, none of the other twin Moms were there. And on a related topic, it never ceases to amaze me what people will say to me right in front of the kids. My favorites of the day:

They split the boys up? How awful!
Which one is smarter?

Of course, I’m just reporting on all of the negatives. It’s infinitely more interesting than writing about all of the nice parents and children and the fact that we can’t wait to start school next week!

I’d better double check the date and time of the first day. At the rate I’m going, we might miss it!

Monday, August 13, 2007

It's all about me

I don’t belong here.

I’m not sure when the evening went from a fun family outing to this dreadful realization. When I read our school newsletter last month, I dutifully marked tonight on our calendar: New Family Orientation. After all, the noisy boys are starting Kindergarten, so we’re a New Family. It fits, right?


It turns out that New Family Orientation is for Really New Families. Like families that just moved from Texas and their kids are going into fifth and third grade New.

Of course, by the time I figure this out, it’s too late. The noisy boys happily join the other kids on a tour of the school, and the principal leads the parents to the LRC for a meeting. I find myself following, thinking maybe we can just fly under the radar and nobody will even notice that I’m an idiot. And then baby b. starts to screech. Loudly. So my husband continues into the LRC, and I make a quick exit. On the walk home, I mutter positive self-talk like, “How could you be so stupid?” and “I am such an idiot.” Happy to be home, I unbuckle baby b. from his stroller and reach for the door. It’s locked. So is the back door. And the porch door. A few weeks ago a neighbor was burglarized, and I’ve been neurotic about locking everything ever since.

So back to the school we walk. Back into the LRC to try to inconspicuously get the keys. And back home again, to consider all of the ways I’m failing as a Kindergarten Mom. And Kindergarten hasn’t even started yet.

Incidentally, my husband found the meeting quite helpful since he missed Kindergarten Round-up. And the noisy boys had a great time.

Once again, it’s just me.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


We just got back from a week in Michigan camping at Cran Hill Ranch, enjoying a reunion with my husband’s extended family. Honestly, I dreaded this trip for six months before it came, trying to think through all of the particulars of traveling and camping with baby b. Overall, things went much better than I expected. The first travel day was brutal—the baby screamed for two-and-a-half hours in the car, filled five diapers with diarrhea throughout our first night in a hotel in South Haven, and left my husband and me completely fried and thinking, “Why are we doing this to ourselves?” (Later I figured out that he must have cut a new tooth, which was the cause of his misery.)

But things got better from there. The campground was beautiful. Our rented camper worked out perfectly. The baby had no problem going down for naps during the day at our quiet campsite, and he went down early each night while we enjoyed the campfire. We woke up each morning to his smiling face peeking over the edge of his pack-and-play and his happy babble, which I wish there were real words for so I could share it with you. Is there anything sweeter than the babble of a one-year old? My husband would hit the button on the coffee maker and pull him into our bed for a cuddle. “Ooooh!” Baby b. would squeal and point, excited at his first view of the lake.

The noisy boys had a blast running around with their “extended” cousins. A craft room, a frog pond, canoeing, tubing, fishing, swimming, hanging out at the beach—each day was jam-packed with fun. It was a joy to watch them bond with family we see infrequently. My favorite moment? The turtle races. The kids worked hard catching turtles for several days, and then they each picked one to name and race. What fun! I don’t think I have ever seen Twin B. so excited. He jumped up and down cheering on his turtle, Lightning, and laughed and laughed at the sight of so many turtles scampering through the grass. (As soon as the races ended, the kids let the turtles go back into the lake. No turtles were hurt in this moment of family fun, though I’m pretty sure a few need therapy.)

We half-expected rain all week, but it only really came our first night camping. And boy did it come. But I’ll save that story for another day. For now, I’ve got about twelve loads of laundry to do, and the pile of everything is still sitting in our entryway where we dropped it last night. My husband summed it up on day three when we collapsed into bed. “I’ve never been so exhausted, but it’s so worth it to watch the noisy boys build these memories.” I suppose that’s why any family goes on vacation ever, isn’t it? The memories.

We’ve made plenty. And now I’m ready to stay home for a good long time!

Monday, August 6, 2007

a good christian

I would be a really good Christian if there were no other people around. I would have endless patience, a peaceful spirit, and plenty of time to pray and study the Bible. But I'm not alone, which is a good thing. Most days.

Isn't it amazing how quickly it all breaks down? One day I'm making waffles from scratch and teaching my children how to tell time, but give me one sleepless night, and I turn into a screaming shrew. This morning I jumped out of bed when I heard baby b. up at the crack of dawn, after an up-and-down night of fussy half-sleep. I couldn't push my eyelids open, so I stumbled to his crib and reached for him, eyes still closed. Two cups of coffee later and I feel human. Sort of.

I can function with no sleep, but it's more of a survival situation. Feed the kids. Get dressed. Do what absolutely must be done. Just don't try to talk to me, and whatever you do, don't get in my way. Like my husband did this morning. He got less sleep than I did, but I still managed to be cross with him today when he didn't follow my unspoken agenda.

Time to back up. To pray even though I don't feel like it. To read my Bible even though it doesn't feel like there's time. To be kind to my family when I feel like being grouchy.

This is the real Christian life. I cannot fake it or muster up kindness out of nowhere. In the end, regardless of our situation in life or how great we think we are, it really is all about Jesus and His work in us.

Thank goodness.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


It’s hot. Really hot. We’ve been spending every afternoon this week at our neighborhood swimming pool, just a couple of blocks from our house. We put baby b. down for an early nap, eat lunch, and as soon as he’s awake, walk over and enjoy the rest of the afternoon swimming with our neighbors. Standing in the shallow end today watching the noisy boys, I cannot believe how much they’ve grown. Last year they were straining to hold their heads above water, standing on tippy toes and looking up just to breathe. They’re at least a head taller this year and walk around the shallow end with no problem, climbing out and jumping in to swim. And swim and swim and swim. Amazing.

I can’t believe how much they’ve grown in just a year. It snuck up on me.

Spiritual growth is the same way. It sneaks up on me. Sometimes my spiritual life feels stagnant, and then I find myself back in the pool. I find a point of reference and realize that a year ago, or two years ago, I was fighting just to keep my head above water—to breathe. And then I realize I’ve grown, and the situations that pulled me under before, gasping for breath, are easier to maneuver now.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.” (Psalm 107:1)