My Father's Daughter


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How Sarah helped me blog anew

I haven’t posted on this blog since September 2008. My eldest daughter was born in early October of 2008. Coincidence? I think not. After baby number two I started a new blog called Tales of the Reluctant Mother in order to navigate the murky waters of motherhood and my place in it.

But sometimes I want to blog about other things. I have other journeys, other battles to fight, and other issues to shed light on (and clearly far too many metaphors for just one blog). I’ve been toying with returning to this, my humble blogging beginning. And then, then I read Sarah Bessey’s blog post In which we are saved, right now and it set my heart a-hummin. I wander over to Sarah’s blog periodically without following her formally as I covet her writing talent. But I will take up her challenge to share a post on the same theme. So, here I go.

What is saving my life right now.

What is saving my life right now is the need my babies have of me. Not because I am a good parent, or a better parent than their Dad (I give them too much sugar, allow too much TV and don’t get on the floor to be their human jungle gym). They need me because I am Mom and I am THEIR Mom. I see into their little hearts and know the tenderness there; I hear their laughter and know the wisdom there; I feel their little arms around my neck and know their love – that precious, precious love of a child for her mother.

What is saving my life right now is my parents. The tearful pride in my Dad’s eyes when he thinks of his kids – of me. He’s proud of me. And the pride I have for my mother who at age 66 started a new job and found passion – and because she was passionate about it and because she was perfect for it she excelled at it. This gives me hope for my own career search and dissatisfaction.

What is saving my life right now is my husband. Through 8 years we have navigated (read: fought) our way through the difficult times of work frustrations, personal heartaches, loss, grief, painful growth, and our individual selfishness and are now coming through it to finally start to see each other, know each other, love each other (you know, what we should have done from day one).

What is saving my life right now is finally, finally, finally, understanding at a heart level things I should already know about my God – how he values me, THAT he values me, how wide and deep his compassion is and how amazing is his love. Why don’t I know these things yet? Where have I been? Oh, yeah, lost in fear and doubt.

What is saving my life right now is the big things in my life – the big loves, the big relationships, the big reasons to be alive. I would love it if I was noticing the little things in life to counter-balance the little irritations, but right now my problems feel big, and I need the big things to save me. And I will cling to the big things until I can see clearly enough to notice the little joys in life. I know they are many, and I know they are just out of my sight, I can feel them like a childhood memory that is close to being remembered but still hazy. I will find my balance and breath in crisp air and be happy, see flowers and be peaceful, hear the wind and be relaxed. Someday.

Until then, coffee is saving me too.


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Father Knows Best

I may have jinxed myself. I have been telling people that I have had a textbook pregnancy and have had nothing more to deal with than the expected ‘joys’ of pregnancy. Enter PUPPPS. PUPPPS is the cute name for Pruritic Uticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy (see the reason for the acronym). What it really means is extreme itchiness – ALL OVER.

I have tried a number of different things for itch relief – oatmeal baths, calamine, baking soda paste, Aveeno anti-itch lotion, aloe vera gel, Benadryl (on my midwife’s advice) – basically my poor husband has been to the 24-hour Shopper’s to assist his desperate wife on more than one occasion. Some of these things provided some relief. Enter Rawleigh Salve.

Growing up my Dad, in a strangely similar way to the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, believed any ailment could be cured with one of two remedies: either hot water and salt, or ‘Rawleigh Salve’. I believe these are remedies from HIS childhood (I envision Granddad putting Rawleigh Salve on work-worn, cracked hands). My siblings and I have both mocked and made use of these remedies throughout our lives. Phil now uses Rawleigh Salve for his nose at nights – and a family tradition is carried on. One itchy day I spied it on his bedside table and wondered about the possibility that it might provide comfort for a rashy existence. It has some of the same ingredients found in some of the other creams I’d tried and some of the stuff I’d read about online. Sure enough, it has provided the most relief of anything I’ve tried. I immediately sensed my father, and his father before him, gloating. Right again.

So, I’m a believer. When my child gets a cold, the Rawleigh Salve will come out. He or she will hear how Granddad and Great-Granddad always used this stuff and how it helped Mommy when she was pregnant. He or she will tire of this and will roll his or her eyes and mock me. Then, one day, he or she  will discover the miracle that is Rawleigh Salve and the tradition will continue to the next generation (this post would have been so much easier if Phil hadn’t been against finding out the gender of our little one – saving me all this he/she business).

Side note 1: The container that ‘Rawleigh Salve’ comes in is actually labeled “Rawleigh’s Medicated Ointment” but the company also makes a “Rawleigh’s Salve”, so my assumption is that is what was in my Dad’s home growing up and the name has stuck. An early argument in my marriage was resolved when Phil finally gave up saying “Rawleigh’s Medicated Ointment” just to bug me and found that family names for things from ones childhood should be respected.

Side note 2: For anyone who has, is, will, or knows someone who is, has, or will suffer from PUPPPS, I have also found that “Grandpa’s Pine Tar Soap” is helping – and may even be clearing up the rash. Either it is the soap or a combination of the soap and the Rawleigh’s. Either way I’m grateful to grandfathers for their wisdom on salves and soaps.


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Mousecapades (or The Mouse v. Heather, or Why I Wish My Husband Wasn’t On The Road)

Saturday night our male cat, Mason, emphatically demanded to be let back into the house. As he zipped past me I didn’t notice that he had something in his mouth. He was across the main floor and into the front entryway before I saw it — a mouse. Initially I thought it was dead and he was bringing it in to display his hunting prowess (boys are such braggarts). But when he put it down it squeaked and ran away. Dead mice don’t do that. Before I knew it, I was standing on my couch, my back against the wall. I should mention that Phil was on the road. I was alone. With the romping cat and his tiny prey.

Relevant background: My dear mother and dear sister are TERRIFIED of mice. I was in the kitchen with these strong women one day in my childhood when a squeak sent them into the hallway — literally dragging me with them. Turns out it was the new-to-us fridge we had just gotten, but before they accepted that answer they sent me – young, defenseless, little ole’ me – back into the kitchen to lift a garbage bag in the corner to ensure no rodents lurked beneath it. I have tried not to be so held by this same fear with only minimal success. I’m not as sensitive as my familial female examples are, but one thought of little feet crawling on me and I can get a good jolt of the willies too (in my defense I’ve tried to conquer this fear – I once tried to empty a mouse trap at my parents house but it freaked me right out).

Back to my exciting Saturday night (see, this is why you shouldn’t be home alone on a Saturday night – bad things happen). I was now faced with two options – rid my house of a live mouse (eek) or wait until my cat killed the cute little thing and then remove a dead mouse from my house (eww). Problems with option one were: I didn’t know how to capture a live mouse, I didn’t want to touch a live mouse, I didn’t want to be touched by a live mouse. Problems with option two were: I didn’t know if Mason would ever get around to killing it, I didn’t want to touch a dead mouse, I didn’t want it to die somewhere beyond my reach and/or sight. Then the mouse disappeared. Mason couldn’t find it. Now I had a mouse loose in my house (this story would be so much more dramatic if mouse and house didn’t rhyme in such a Seussian way). So, I did what any rationale grown woman home alone with a rodent running amok in her home would do – I called my Daddy. He suggested, quite calmly and unsympathetically, I thought, that I scoop the mouse up in the dustpan. Now, why didn’t I think of that?

While I was on the phone with my brilliant but bewildered-by-feminine-fear Father the mouse re-emerged and the chase was on again. Then he/she disappeared again. While our quarry was safely hidden I actually worked up the nerve to get off the couch and go into the entryway. Thankfully I’d been puttering about the house in clogs and they were with me – can you imagine barefeet or sandals in such a scenario – shudder! When the mouse came back out for more, I was ready – dustpan in hand, door slightly open. Mason and I cornered the poor thing and I was able to scoop it up. Now I had to get it out the door. Here is where it got a bit dicey – the mouse started crawling up the handle toward my hand. Thankfully I was able to reposition and keep a hold of the dustpan and keep the mouse IN the dustpan and get them both out the door (with only the very minimum of girlish squeals). My adventures were over. I had defeated the mouse. And maybe a little bit of fear.

My mother, sister and a female co-worker have all stated that they would not be able to do what I did. So I guess I am encouraged that my fear isn’t SO great as to be completely immobilizing. And I guess it is kind of interesting to experience that kind of fear – it is so visceral. I really don’t like being scared (HATE scary movies), but on the other hand, if I’m going to experience fear, I’d rather it be at the cold, icky little paws of an itty-bitty mouse than a number of other scenarios I can imagine (great, now I’m going to be paranoid about being home alone without Phil – mouse-catcher and defender).

My only big question about all of this is: How was Mason able to meow at the door if he had a mouse in his mouth?


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Returning red-faced but with good news

Here I am slinking back to my blog. Grand announcement — I’m blogging again — then nothin’. Sigh. Are we surprised?

So what has prompted my re-return? I have a new niece – Breanna Grace May was born Sunday, January 6th at 4:20am, weighing 7lbs. 13oz. (just shy of our Christmas turkey, incidentally), and measuring 20.5 inches. I haven’t met her, but I am assured she is adorable. I hope to meet her tonight.

It’s an amazing thing meeting a brand new person for the first time. Made all the more amazing in this case by the fact that this new person is family — we share genetic material and will, I hope and pray, share a number of wonderful moments over the course of her life. I’ve always said that becoming an aunt is the best thing I’ve ever done; though now I think I need to modify it to say the second best thing I’ve done to leave room for that whole getting married thing — best not to make hubby upset; and third best if we are including committing to God — sigh, it’s in the top five anyway, in any case, I highly recommend it.


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In praise of Mom

When I was a kid, my mom would sometimes (I don’t think I’m generalizing here – I’m pretty sure it happened more than once) ‘make me into my bed’. She would put the bottom sheet on the bed then I would lie there and she’d put the top sheet and blankets on me. There was something so neat and comforting about lying there while crisp, clean, laundry-fresh (sometimes warm) sheets and blankets fluttered down over me. I loved it. I still remember it as a fond memory.

As an adult I’ve come to realize that Mom made this “game” up because she hadn’t gotten to making up the beds that laundry day. As a kid the game was so special it never occurred to me that it only happened because Mom had “failed” to get her to-do list done. But I think that good mothering isn’t perfection. A good mother isn’t someone who always completes her to-do list on time. A good mother is someone who is focused on her children – on their needs, on their positive physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual growth, on teaching them how to fly and then giving them the space to do so.

During my childhood my mom had returned to work full-time so that her oldest two kids could attend a Christian high school (while still being an active preacher’s wife). I don’t remember the state of our house. I don’t know how clean or messy it was (I do remember that Saturday morning chores were always a requirement – and would have been even if Mom didn’t work – so the cleanliness/not-so-cleanliness was a burden we all shared; and that we learned the value of work and contributing to the family). I do know that everything my Mom did was for her husband and her kids. I know that she was committed to us in a way that went beyond how clean the house was, or how often the beds were made before bedtime.

I think my mom sometimes still feels guilty for not being the consummate housewife. But that’s not what was important about my upbringing. What was important for my upbringing was there; and any of her “short-comings” only enriched that. I have learned as much from the failures of my parents (both as parents and as people) as I have from their successes. I have known them as flawed and real people and that was as essential to my development as the food they put on the table.

Thanks Mom, I think you’ve been a “perfect” Mom.


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Eggbert Jolin

If the Jolin’s have a short list of baby names they aren’t sharing. I can understand that. It can be a touchy thing (You’re naming your kid Earl??!!).

But just in case they aren’t yet prepared, a friend and I have come up with some suggestions that might suit baby Jolin:

Nolen
Ban
Morris (then when he gets to the NBA he can be MoJo)
And our personal favourite: Jon Bon*

Thoughts? Favourite? Other suggestions?

*Note: Credit must go to Ian Sykes for this suggestion, made when Mari Alice was pregnant with Ada


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The Terrible Truth Revealed

The other day I overheard some of my co-workers discussing when/how they discovered that Santa was not real. Not everyone can pinpoint that moment. I have a very vivid recollection of when that little bit of truth came to my knowledge; it was the Christmas Eve that I snuck out of my room and peered into the living room only to discover that “Santa” wasn’t actually a white-haired, jolly fat man in a red suit with a red sack, but my father in his underwear with a Zeller’s bag. I graciously kept this information from my little brother, and in fact I didn’t tell anyone for years that my Dad was Santa, because well, frankly, Steve in his underwear just wouldn’t sell as many Christmas cards.