Little Boys, Grown Men

Today, I have been a mother for twenty-two years.

I’ve learned so much.

And still know so little.

But Elder has been a patient son. For the most part.

He doesn’t let me count little fingers and toes anymore, but he still hugs me when he sees me and when he leaves me. He doesn’t hold my hand when we cross a parking lot anymore, but he still tells me when he makes it to a destination safely.

He doesn’t think I can solve all of life’s problems anymore, but he still thinks I can fix many of them.

Sometimes, I miss my little boy.

But then I hear my grown man laugh.

And I know my little boy is still with me.

He’s just taller.

A lot, lot taller.


Stealing Daddy

Today is the last day my husband gets to be 44 years old. As he was leaving for work this morning, I told him to enjoy his last day to be so young. I didn’t ask him to repeat his reply.

But, anyway, in honor of him, I thought I would share an old story from 2000, when four-year-old Elder still thought his Daddy was a pretty special guy…

The other day, the boys and I left the house before my husband. Younger and I actually walked out the door before Elder — which is usual.  The neighbors are most likely accustomed to my constant urging of Elder to hurry.  So, when I finished tucking Younger into his car seat to find Elder still on the front step, I wasn’t surprised — frustrated but not surprised.

I stalked around the front of the car and tried to shoo him towards his door.  Trying to keep one eye on me — preparing to run, if necessary — and one eye on the step — trying to prevent his downfall, so to speak, he gingerly lowered one foot to the ground, motioning to the door behind him.

“I locked it,” he told me. “I don’t want the bad guys to get Daddy.” He nodded once.  “That will keep the bad guys out.”  Then he cocked his blonde head to one side, considering, and added, “It’ll keep the good guys out, too.”

Only a few months ago, he believed the reason that we locked the door was to prevent strangers from watching our television while we were gone. Now, he thinks they want his Daddy.

He was probably closer to the truth the first time.

Happy Birthday to my husband!

And a Happy New Year to all of you!


Don’t Tell

The other day, my husband dropped Younger off with his friend of the poppy seed muffin fame. (Secret Family Recipe)

He came home with two jars of homemade jam.

Eyeing my husband and the jars suspiciously, I asked, “What secrets did you give up now?”

“No secrets. Just your birthday.”

Well, my birthday isn’t a secret, I guess. I don’t exactly advertise the age, but I’m not afraid of a little number.

The big numbers, now those are terrifying.

Maybe a little homemade jam on a biscuit will blunt the fear.

Or a lot of homemade jam.

Straight from the jar.

You know, either way.

Not Ready

Last week, between a doctor’s appointment in one town and weight training in another, Younger and I stopped at a convenience store where he bought a sports drink. Back in the truck, he twisted unsuccessfully at the lid, shrugged, then shoved the drink into a cup holder.

I glanced at him, raising an eyebrow. “Don’t you want the drink before weights?”

He flashed a palm, grinning sheepishly. “The lid hurt my hand.”

“Want me to open it?”

He shook his head. “That would hurt my pride.”

Ahhh, well, he’s honest, I guess. Although at one time, not all that long ago I feel, I was allowed to open bottles. And straighten mussed hair at church and hold his hand as we crossed a parking lot and kiss him on the head in public.

On Sunday, he will be sixteen.

In the midst of senior year and then graduation and then college preparation for Elder, I just shelved the reality of my baby becoming a young man.

And all those compartmentalized boxes are now falling around me.

Those really hurt when they hit you upside the head.

I’m not ready.

I’m just…

Not ready.

Never Grow Up

The other day, I asked Elder about his plans for his birthday, reminding him that I needed some notice before he invited a bunch of friends to our house.

“Hey, Mom,” he said, grinning at me. “Let’s rent a bounce house.”

He’s over six feet tall.

Not to mention, days from being nineteen.

He’s a young man. His friends are young men.

And he wants to rent a bounce house.

But, I’ll tell you, I’m actually considering it.

Because those pictures would be worth more than gold.

And everyone needs a retirement plan.

Love and Marriage

The other day, I commented to my husband that many people might avoid saying how old they were but everyone was always proud of how long they had been married.

And the wise one responded, “Well, being married for thirty years feels like living through sixty.”

Despite making such a comment straight to my face, he lives on.

But even more slowly than before.

Poke, Poke

I apologize for posting a day late. Yesterday was my husband’s birthday and I guess I focused so much of my attention on him that I forgot it was a Thursday.

I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Actually, the kind of attention I gave him, he may thank me for the neglect.

The other day, he and Younger wandered into the house after an afternoon on the farm. And almost immediately they were engaged in a wrestling match in my kitchen, while I tried to step around them between the counter and the stove.

“Hey, Mom,” Younger panted, attempting to thrust one finger successfully between my husband’s swinging arms. “You need to poke, Dad.”

I ignored him.

“No, Mom, hey, poke Dad,” he insisted, still struggling to thread his hand through my husband’s defenses. “I’m serious. You need to poke, Dad.”

“I know he’s ticklish, Younger. So is Elder.”

“No-oo-oo,” Younger drawled. “Not ticklish.” He connected successfully with his target, earning a groan and flinch from my husband. “Sore. From chopping wood all morning.” With a grin, he sauntered from the room. “You can think me for that piece of useful information later.”

So, yesterday, while I was trying to watch Mizzou, my alma mater, in the Citrus Bowl, my husband aggravated me and abused me and taunted me with his bring-it-on attitude until I jabbed one finger into his pectoral.

“Ahh,” he groaned then laughed then groaned again because laughing hurt worse than the poke.

And from the other room, Younger hollered, “You’re welcome, Mom.”

All day long — aggravation, abuse, and taunts ending in a jab and a groan and a hollered, “You’re welcome, Mom.”

So, yesterday was my husband’s birthday…

But I got the gift.