She Runs A Good Race

mothering is a marathon

The Kitchen Floor Chat

Who knew that the kitchen floor would be the place for a monumental conversation?

Kate hopped out of bed one night recently. I was puttering in the kitchen and she plopped herself down on the floor.  I don’t know what stopped me from firmly giving the stay-in-bed-lecture. I stopped what I was doing instead, thankfully, and sat down beside her.

Maybe I intuitively knew what was coming.

Kate:  I wish Ryan didn’t have any special needs.

(THUD…Did you hear my heart just pierce?)

Me:  So do I, Kate.   What makes you say that?

Kate:  It makes me sad.

Me: That is ok to feel sad.  It makes me sad, too, sometimes. (Darnit, then my tears start rolling…)

Kate:  I wish it was a secret between our family and the school.

(Note:  Ryan goes to a separate public elementary school from Luke and Kate, one that better suits his needs.)

Me:  Are you embarrassed sometimes Kate?

Kate:  (No answer. At first, she was silent with this question.)

Kate:  I just wish nobody knew. That it was a secret.

Me:  Well, in our family, we don’t keep secrets.  Not unless someone has a surprise gift or surprise party. (Why I said this instead of just asking her if anyone said anything to her at school escapes me.)

Me:  Its perfectly ok, Kate, to feel that way.  Mom and Dad wish Ryan didn’t have ANY problems or struggles.  We wish he was totally healthy, that his brain and body were not different from yours.  Its ok to get sad, mad or frustrated, or embarrassed about it. We get sad, too.

At this point Chris chimed in and joined the kitchen floor party.

Chris:  You know what, Kate? You are also kind of lucky to have Ryan as your brother.  And he is so lucky to have you and Luke.

Kate’s eyes widened and she said, “Really?”

Chris:  You will grow up to be such a sweet girl, with such a big caring heart.

Me:  And you will be an even better mommy and wife someday because you learned so much from being a sister to Ryan.

Kate:  I will???? (Big smile.)

Me:  Yes, absolutely you will.  God gave Ryan to our family, and even though its hard sometimes, we will all be better people, and nicer, stronger, and have more compassion. (At least I hope so…I think to myself.)

So I stood up from the hard kitchen floor and helped Kate get up.  We meandered to her room, hand in hand, slowly.  I tucked her in and kissed her sweet cheeks over and over.

As I walked away, I prayed silently, for Kate and Luke, to be spared any long-term anger issues, or any resentment or bitterness, from having a disabled brother, and a unique family story.  May they not grow up feeling overburdened or neglected in any way.  May they grow up to be people of compassion and patience, kindness and wisdom.  May they truly know that God is good and faithful and loving even if He allows hardships and hard circumstances in life.

Lord, that is my prayer.


I Desperately Need Arts-N-Crafts Boot Camp

I bought my very first glue gun.  I know, I know…how did I survive 11+ years as a stay-at-home mom without one??  Well, if you have been reading my blog from the start, you KNOW that I dislike and avoid arts and crafts.

Is it that I dislike or even hate these type of projects, or is the truth that I am totally, undeniably insecure in my artistic ability?

Yes, the latter. I told you I would always be honest.

My sister, Julie, AKA “Martha Stewart” in our family, is gifted in this area.  She’s a confident and knowledgeable artist.  And cook, and baker, and basically can do ANYTHING, like even lay beautiful terracotta tile…  NO, I am not jealous.  I am just bragging about my sweet sis. She and God above blessed her three daughters and son in the gene pool with creativity and talent by the way, too. I, on the other hand, don’t have this gene.  It’s gone missing.

So I tend to complain and procrastinate when it comes to my kids’ projects. “UGH!” is how I feel inside. And sometimes a few other choice words.

When I realized that Kate, my kindergartener, had to turn in the famous paper “Heritage Doll” in 3 days, I panicked, cringed, and commiserated with other non-crafty moms. Kate was to choose one of her many heritages (Norwegian, Hungarian, Russian, German, Polish, Irish, English), and dress a flat paper doll in a traditional costume.

When Luke was in Kindergarten 5 years ago, I had the good fortune of my amazing mother-in-law, a former teacher, volunteer to do this with him.  For me.  Without me.  I did not do a thing. (Sorry, true confession time, Mrs. Berry.)

And she was excited to do it. A feeling I could not relate to.  If she were still on this earth, Grandma Sally would have done it with Kate with fierce enthusiasm.

Bribery might work, I thought.  I emailed a creative-confident-with-crafty-stuff friend and offered big money to have her do Kate’s heritage doll.  I would pay well!  Not really, but I fantasized about NOT having to tackle this. I don’t think  teachers realize the anxiety they cause us art class dropout parents.

What does every mom do in my predicament? She marches down to “Joann’s” at the mall and over- spends because she has no flipping idea how to make a paper doll look like a cute traditional Hungarian doll.  I bought a glue gun and glue sticks, crushed red and green velvet, lace, gold fabric, and gold ribbon.  Oh, and did I mention I shopped at two toy stores looking for a white blouse-type top in the doll clothes section? BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW HOW TO CUT AN OLD WHITE SHEET INTO A BLOUSE. Yep, probably in total, spent $50 plus on it all.  Remember, I did buy a glue gun after all.

Kate was so eager to get to work when I laid everything out on our dining room table; glue gun plugged in, warming up. However, when it came down to it, I did most/all of the decorating because she is 6 and cannot use a glue gun without burning herself.  In fact, I kept burning myself! (In case you are reading this Mrs. Berry, she did help, and she did color the face and help tape the yellow ribbon hair on her “head.”)

I love boot camp. I love learning new exercises and sweating and pushing myself to new levels of fitness.  So could someone Puhhh-L E A S E put on an arts-n-crafts boot camp for me, and a few friends?

Sign me up. RIGHT NOW. Before Kate gets to 1st grade.


Tooth Lost, Joy Found

One night as I was tucking Kate (age 6) into bed, she said, “Mom, what is happening?!” and turned around to show me her mouth, which was dripping blood.

I shrieked, “You lost your tooth! Your first tooth!”

But then we could not actually find it.  We searched her bedding, her pajamas, under her bed, and through the shag rug, all to no avail. She didn’t mind she was so belly-laughing-slap-happy that she lost her first tooth! She thought it would NEVER happen.

I cleaned her up, took pictures, texted Daddy (who was out that night), and sent her off to bed with a short talk about the tooth fairy.
“If I don’t have my tooth, will the tooth fairy still know to come?”  I assured her and told her not to worry. Wink. Wink.

Fifteen minutes later while I am in bed reading, I hear her pitter-pat on the wood floors to my room.  I could practically see her grin through the dark.

Kate was so excited, so giddy, she could NOT fall asleep.  She was so happy, so validated in this rite of passage, so fresh and pure in her joy.  She was so overcome that she couldn’t fall asleep.  At all. And needed to snuggle in with me.  Of course I said YES.   It was precious.

Aren’t these the moments we live for as a mom?  The ooey-gooey sweetness with our kids?

I LOVE THESE MOMENTS.  I savor them.  As you know, they don’t happen all day long or even every day.

So when they come, I breathe them in like I’m inhaling sunshine to my soul. It feeds me. It keeps me going amidst mounds of laundry, dishes, homework, and pee-infested toilets.

Amazing mom moments to date:

  • The second Luke came out of my tummy, and I got to SEE him for the first time
  • When Luke completed a shapes puzzle at 14 months of age and I thought certainly he was a genius
  • When Ryan walked for the first time
  • When Ryan first wrote his name
  • When Luke had his first piano recital
  • When Luke said he would “give his life for Ryan”
  • When I found out I was having a girl
  • When Kate crawled out of her crib (not exactly a happy moment for me…)
  • When Luke said he believed in Jesus, for real
  • When Ryan asked, “God gave me to this family, right, Dad?”
  • When Kate volunteered to pray at dinner for the first time; she included our cat, Hobie, in the prayer
  • When I surprised the kids the day I brought our labradoodle pup Gracie home, and Luke squealed, “Today’s the day?! She’s really ours?”
  • When little sister Kate was helping Ryan take a bath, and using the sweetest mothering voice with him
  • When all my children are wrestling and tickling and giggling on the floor TOGETHER

I could gush on and on…and I should, for my sake.  Because I tend to get so lost in my to-do’s and tasks and keeping everyone on time…that I forget these delicious joys.

Dostoevsky said in one of his books that the soul is healed by being with children.  I most certainly agree.


I Avoid The Mother’s Day Aisles

I still miss my mother. 

It’s been 7 years and 7 months since she passed away from lung cancer. And I still. Miss. Her.


I think of her when I buy new sheets and hear her voice in my head, saying “always buy high thread counts.”

I think of her when I buy “half & half” creamer for coffee as a treat and how she poured this over our cereal growing up, like all good moms from Nebraska do.

I think of her when I read Luke’s writings for school, and how she always proof-read and edited my papers.

I think of her when I tuck Kate in and she asks me to rub her back.  My mom always rubbed my back at night, until she fell asleep and then I would shake her arm over and over to remind her she wasn’t done.

I think of her when I am curled up on the big chair in our garage/playroom.  She used to cozy up in this cream-colored lounger when she lived with us her final summer.

I think of her every time I put my cookies in the freezer.

I think of her when I wash her quilts she left me.

I think of her when I see some of her clothes in the way back of my closet, and I still try to smell her. I try to breathe her in.

I think of her when one of my kids has a very special moment, like when Luke had his first piano recital. She would have been so teary-eyed proud to see him play with such rhythm and natural talent.

I think of her as Ryan grows and finally reaches milestones. They were roommates for a summer.  Ryan in his crib and Mom in her hospital bed.  Ryan began to crawl that summer, and she slowly became immobile.


That summer.  That intense summer.  The last summer.  (A post for another day…)

This is why I avoid the Mother’s Day aisles at Target, Rite-Aid, and CVS, etc.  It reminds me she is gone.  I can’t buy HER a card. Or gift.  Or call her when I need cooking advice or parenting advice, or ANY ADVICE.  Or when I want to tell her that Kate was so giddy about losing her first tooth.

I read a quote somewhere once and have shared it many times to others who have lost a loved one. It said, “There is no deadline for grieving.”  And there isn’t.  I still grieve the loss for me, and for my children.  It hurts less than it did 7 years ago, that is true.


YET…I don’t think we ever really outgrow the need for a mother, and the precious gift of her loving, wise presence.