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Elder is home for the summer.

How do I know?

Let’s see . . .

By the sofa that is now positioned four feet from the television and littered with video game controllers.

By the glasses marred with chocolate milk rings and scattered throughout my house.

By my tripping over boxes and books as I try to navigate my hallway.

By my doubled laundry pile.

And, most importantly, by the nightly ritual of him appearing at my bedside for a hug, accompanied by a dip of his head so I can drop a kiss on his blonde curls.

Elder is home.

Where he belongs.

Until August.

Sigh.

 

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Part of the Game

On our first day in San Antonio last week, I wore my St. Louis Cardinals shirt with the number four and the name “Molina” proudly displayed.

And found myself engaging in conversations with complete strangers the entire day.

At one point, I paused on the River Walk, waiting for one group in front of me to snap a picture. Another guy patiently standing beside me and wearing a hat marking him as a San Francisco Giant fan, said, “Hey, thanks for knocking the Dodgers out the last couple years.”

“Sure,” I replied. “Anytime.”

Because, you know, I was such an integral part of the playoff successes against the Dodgers.

I just don’t know what the Redbirds would do without me.

 

Slow Down

Today, I thought I would share an old story from 2000 when Elder was four years old and Younger was one. Today, Elder returns home from his first year at Mizzou. And on Sunday, my oldest nephew is graduating high school.

So fast.

Life happens so fast.

So, even though I have shared this story before, I will share again, just because . . .

Life happens so fast . . .

The other night, as soon as I walked into the daycare, Elder began to communicate with me in this grating, high-pitched voice that can, for whatever unknown reason, only be used to complain, both specifically and generally. Most mothers recognize this as the “whine.”

Struggling for patience, I endured twenty minutes or so, until, standing in the kitchen at the stove with him at my side, his little head tilted back, so that the “whine” can travel the distance between his mouth and my ears just a little better, I recognized my patience was at a rather abrupt end.  So, I turned to him and calmly announced, “Elder, if I have to listen to even just one more whine, I will most likely lose my patience.”

He shut his mouth, looked at me, then said, “Okay.” And he left me alone in the kitchen tending dinner.

So, things had improved slightly but only slightly. Elder still didn’t want to eat his pizza because it had cheese.  Never mind that every pizza he has ever eaten has cheese.  If Mommy actually makes the pizza rather than pulling it out of a box – either frozen or carryout – he doesn’t want it.

Then he didn’t want his bath.  Or to brush his teeth.  Or Younger to look at him cross-eyed.

So on and so forth.

But then it was bedtime and I lay between my two boys. Elder lay his head on my shoulder, tucked one knee on my hip, and sprawled his arm across my chest.  Then he whispered, “I like this part, Mommy.”

And I whispered back, “I do, too, Elder.”

Amazing how even my worst day cannot be so bad when I can spend even a few minutes snuggled between Elder and Younger. So I lay there thankful for my blessings, loving the feel of them snuggled against me, loving the sound of their soft, even breathing, loving the sight of the peaceful faces of sleeping innocents, loving them.

But even those precious minutes are bittersweet. Because I know that too soon I will be limited to those motherly touches that are surreptitiously given and warily accepted.  You know the ones I mean — where I try to smooth unruly hair and they duck away from and beyond my reach or where I lock my arm around their neck in the accepted disguise of a hug or where, in a very public place, I spit on my napkin and wipe spaghetti sauce off their chin while they perish in mortification.

And part of me will laugh and part of me will cry and all of me will remember the little boy snuggled so tight to my side whispering in my ear, “I like this part, Mommy.”

And all of me will silently whisper back, “So did I, Elder. So did I.”

Rite of Passage

Elder is approaching the end of his first year at Mizzou. And, of course, I’m counting the days until he is home.

Seven, in case you’re wondering.

A few minutes ago, I received a text from him explaining that he only had to answer five out of thirty-five questions right to maintain an “A” in one of his classes.

And I smiled. Because I remember those days. The days before finals where every student is calculating the points needed to receive the desired grade.

It’s almost a rite of passage.

I came, I studied — some, I calculated the worst score I could possibly manage and still receive a passing grade, I conquered freshman year.

Ahhh, the memories.