A Blessing . . . And a Curse

Can you guess what all this means?


I’ll break it down for you.


Sofa cushions tossed on the floor.


Empty milk container tossed on the floor.


Empty candy wrapper tossed on the floor.

Any guesses as to what all this means?


I got to spend a precious weekend with my Elder.

And I have nightmares about the state of his apartment.

It’s a blessing.

And a curse.


One More Time

Today, I helped Elder carry boxes, baskets, and bags to his car. Then he wrapped his arms around me and pressed his cheek to the top of my head.

“I love you so much, Mom,” he told me.

“I love you so much, too,” I responded, patting his back.

Then I watched him climb into his car, surrounded by a significant portion of his material belongings. And I stood in the driveway until he and his car bounced onto the gravel road, heading towards another school year at Mizzou.

This parting thing — it doesn’t get any easier with practice.

Just sayin’.



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.



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.


Maturity 2.0

So, last night, I decided we would have breakfast for dinner. And I bopped around the kitchen gathering ingredients for pancakes.

First, flour. Then sugar, baking soda, and salt.

I was on a roll.

With all the dry ingredients in one bowl, I beat eggs in a different one then turned back to the refrigerator and pulled open the door, only to release a growl of frustration.

“What?” my husband questioned, as the refrigerator door thunked closed and my hands remained empty.

But then from the living room, Elder volunteered, “You need me to get some milk, Mom?”

“Yes, please,” I answered with patience. “Thank you for offering.”

“Well, I did drink the gallon in two days.”

Yes, he had. In two days, an entire gallon of milk.

But, apparently, in one semester, he had gained the maturity to realize he could help me solve a problem he created.

Maybe by summer he’ll actually text me a note when polishing off a gallon of milk.

Milk as evidence of maturity.

Who knew?



The other day, when I questioned Elder about one of his classes, he answered then asked with honest confusion, “Why do you care?”

“Because you’re my son,” I responded. “Because I’m paying part of the bill.”

“Dad pays the bills.”

My mouth dropping open, I was unable to reply for a few, long seconds then I squeaked, “What do you think I work for? Popcorn?”

“Mom,” he replied, patiently. “Dad is the one who sits down and pays the bills.”

Of course, my literal son meant the statement literally.

And since we were on the phone and I haven’t actually mastered the art of reaching through a phone for his throat, he survived the misunderstanding.

Not that I’ve ever reached for his throat.

I mean, you know, literally.