Monday, July 15, 2019

And There She Grows

In June I sat under my parents' pavilion with my teenage niece and nephew. I was staring a 600+ mile drive in the face the next day and longed for another set of arms in the front seat that could throw snacks and drinks at the kids as I kept it on 10 and 2ish. After some begging and promising of half my savings account, Addison decided she could in fact take 3 weeks out of her summer plans to make a trek to the desert.

So for 3 weeks (and 2 days) I watched my niece. When we left Arkansas I had seen her still as the little girl I've always known. By the time we got back I realized she was no longer the child I had remembered. Yet she wasn't quite a young woman either. My mind circled this through time and again. Not a girl. Not a woman. What does it mean to be right there in the middle?

lawn concert

helping in the backseat

I think society lets boys grow up faster. Whether that is anti-woman or unfair or even completely true, I am not here to debate that. I simply think it is how it is.

Addison is old enough that she was able to watch Henry and AnnLouise for an hour at a time. She could help get them down for naps. She could shop for clothes with me and actually articulate what she knew looked good together. She talked on the phone with her friends in the most mature conversations. For instance she asked a friend what her sister's major at college would be and followed along in depth as another friend shared stories of her family's vacation. Addison is not a little girl.
makeup with Ashlee of Let's Face It Makeup Studio

Then she would not think about taking off her pajamas until I told her she simply must change before we went into public. No unicorn fleece PJs at HEB today. When my other nieces came to town, all younger than her, she played so sweetly with them. And most often I felt she played with the older two as though they were friends and not kids she was strapped with watching. Together they created backyard families and plastic meals and made-up games that didn't even make sense. The imagination of a child still lingers in her mind.
catching a ride to Mimi's

imagination central

I found myself hoping her imagination stayed. Not only Addison's but all 6 of the kids in my backyard. My heart yearned for them to keep their innocence. Their daydreams. Their childhood. Yet I could almost see Addison's youthfulness slip away as the expectations for her to help with a task lured her back inside.

It kept me up at night wondering when little girls become young ladies. What day does that happen? When do they play pretend in the backyard for the last time? And then, what, the next day they just sit on the porch and watch while they talk about boys? How do we hold their childhood dearly and then know when we can let it go?

I wonder the last time my mom called me in from the backyard? One day I was back there shooting hoops getting yelled at to come eat supper. Today I'm doing the cooking and yelling and so forthing. Or when was the last time a friend stayed the night with me? Did I have a friend over one night and the next day decide I just don't have slumber parties anymore? 
camping in Ruidoso

only brave one to pull out the rubber rat when geocaching
A few things in life we have definitive time frames for. Graduations, weddings, births. Those days we know the next day will look different. But coming of age doesn't have a timeline. It has memories and pictures, but it doesn't warn you that's all childhood is about to become. Coming of age lingers through the teenage years. It gives you dreams of things to come while holding you captive with innocence. It makes you want to move on but desperately cling to what you know. It gives you the space to venture but yanks the rope to bring you back.

These meandering teenage years and the confusion they bring are just settling in on Addison. My hope for her is that she clings as long as she wants to childhood, not allowing the pressures of middle school to grow her too fast. But as time does to all of us she too will eventually be pressed into a new age. When that day comes, I pray she stares down womanhood and embraces all of its wonderment and beauty. And then I pray we open our cradled arms and watch her soar.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Life and Lessons from the Pitcher's Mound

Last September I wrote about our family hosting a minor league grinder. In April we were ecstatic that he was heading back to Midland. However, we knew our time was likely fleeting as he had had an awesome season last year and even started Spring Training at Major League camp. When time is limited but you don't know by how much, you try to make every moment count.

On Friday the kids were at MDO, so Cash and I and our favorite baseball player went out for pizza and bundt cakes. It was a chilly, rainy day--rare in Midland in May--and we savored a chance to just get to hang out with him. Not a worry in the world except for his poor buddy scheduled to pitch that night in 45 degree weather.

We had planned to go watch him Saturday when he was scheduled to pitch, but he came out of his room that morning still in a state of shock and excitement that he had been called up to Triple-A with a flight out in less than 24 hours.

And that's how fast it goes.

One day you're eating pizza talking about the weather. The next day you're cramming all you can into 1 suitcase and saying goodbye to everything you know right now.

Yesterday morning I had to work, but I went into the church about an hour late so I could say a proper goodbye. The kids and Cash took him to the airport and wished him well on this new phase of life. And there he went. That evening I turned on MiLB TV and saw him in the Las Vegas dugout giving a high five to a new teammate who had just hit a grand slam.

Last night I went into his room to turn off the air. I just stood there and caught a lump in my throat wondering how time really did pass so quickly. In June last year we had 24 hours to prepare this room before a stranger walked into our home. By this May I couldn't hold back tears as I turned off air and lights and whispered goodbye to the 5th member of our family.

I've spent the past day reflecting on motherhood. Naturally. What an odd turn for Mother's Day weekend. I thought a lot about his momma who must say goodbye every Spring. I thought about how she sent me a message in March when she finally had the strength to wash his sheets again knowing he wouldn't be there for so very long. How she had stood in a room just like this so proud of him yet missing him so deeply.

I thought about my mom. How she is always there in Ozark, Arkansas. I never doubt it. How I get to go "home" and it always feels like home. How it has been 15 years since she stood in the driveway and watched me head out to conquer the world. I knew nothing (and she knew that), but there I went ready to learn it all. And for 15 years I have driven back up the gravel driveway knowing that once I cross that cattle guard I will smell fall scented candles and know I'm home.

I thought about my husband's mom. How she watched her 2 boys get married and begin to make a life with a different woman. How she watches Henry and reminisces that it was just that long ago when that was Cash saying those same things and getting those same spankings.

And I thought about what it means to be a mom myself. How we put up a crib not even 4 years ago and it is already in the attic having cradled 2 babies in that short time. I thought about these moments of sitting on the back porch watching them hammer dirt and knowing this is the very time that is passing by. How it will feel like it has been 10 days when I walk into their rooms and turn the air and lights off. How we'll stand in the kitchen and give a hug and wonder who in the world will cook for them or buy ice cream for them or cheer them on as they go into the next phase of life. How we are now the comforts of home for someone; the ones who will always be right here when they long to come back one day.

I learned a lot about baseball this past year. Perhaps though I learned more about life. I heard him talk about pitch counts and a girlfriend and buddies and GoT. But I heard his momma talk about him. I saw in her that goodbye doesn't mean life is over. It is just starting again. She taught me to allow others to invest in your kids and be a part of their lives. She reminded me to celebrate people for whom they are without their jerseys more than for whom they are with them. She encouraged me to embrace this phase of motherhood and be there in the little moments of right now.

We gained much more than a 5th member of our family through minor league baseball. We gained perspective. On time. On motherhood. And on strikes. It depends on your view. From the batter's box a strike seems too fast or too inside or a missed opportunity. From the pitcher's mound it looks like a fist pump.

This year I learned to give time and motherhood a fist pump. Every day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Get Off My Coattails

Late last night I was scrolling through Twitter when I came across a public figure who declared 7 or 8 times that fetal tissue is not a person. She then signed it from those who have "abortions and miscarriages." Since planning my own unborn child's funeral over 2 years ago, I have not weighed in on this hot topic. Until now.

You see, for 2 years I've struggled. Something I once was staunchly against I was now doing. Kind of.

The doctors shared the statistics of a girl with LUTO: 100% of them die. We had two choices. We could either give birth at 20 weeks and let her pass being premature. Or we could give birth at 40 weeks and let her pass of suffocation. Both are terrible choices and neither do you want to make for your child. At last we chose 20 weeks. If given the same circumstances again, I'd still choose 20 weeks.

Many of you know at 18 weeks we discovered God miraculously healed her. She was born at 38 weeks happy and healthy with Prune Belly Syndrome. She turns 2 years old next month.

Since then I've praised God for His miracle and spent as much time hating myself for choosing an abortion. I hated it was called an abortion. I hated I had to make that choice. I hated I DID make that choice. Thank God that choice did not have to be lived out. For a long time after that I wrestled with where I stood on abortion in general.

I wrestled because had it not been for a political debate we would not have had to make a decision before 20 weeks. I wrestled because when faced with this dilemma myself, my choice didn't seem fitting for an ultra-conservative, Bible-belt mom. I wrestled because the wild politics forced us to have to deliver in a different town with a different doctor during the most crucifying time of our lives because abortion isn't allowed in our town. I wrestled because for the first time in my life I walked in shoes I had never worn and my eyes were opened to another side of the coin.

I hated the pro-life group who put up a billboard next to my OBGYN's office, because I wanted my child so deeply. Yet here I was seeing this sign about my terrible choice when my choice was death or death. I hate that billboard. It pierced my heart deeper with pain than you can imagine. I still see that sign when I go to the same building for labs for that same child. It still pierces my heart. And, honestly, I think it is distasteful and the folks who put it up have no idea the suffering they've caused every mom in my shoes. No idea.

So for 2 years I have kept quiet about abortions. Mostly because I didn't fully understand how I felt anymore and somewhat because it felt grey. And maybe somewhat because I was embarrassed I chose 20 weeks.

But last night I saw this tweet forcing together abortions and miscarriages. I saw line after line repeatedly stating fetuses are not humans. And my rage and emotions that have built up for 2 years exploded.

Abortion is wrong. Not because you don't get a say in your body. Go for it on your own body. But because you don't get a say over life and death for that child. At least you shouldn't.

Abortion for babies who are going to die at any stage in the pregnancy aren't abortions. That needs to be law. If hospital boards and legislators on either side of the aisle had a shred of human decency they would quit calling a delivery of a child with a fatal medical condition an abortion. I have cried my own tears and I've cried with friends whose babies never could make it out of the womb yet medically were considered to have had an abortion. We could not deliver our beloved daughter with our own doctor because our local hospital has policies against abortion. Great. Love that. Just separate medical issues of the child from behavioral issues of the mom.

Lastly and most importantly, abortion activists who market themselves as "pro-choice" better get off my coattails. I harbored a lot of grief for far too long wondering about my own beliefs. It hit me: my choice was out of love and had to be done while abortion activists make decisions like mine cloudy for their own gain. If we quit having elective abortions, then my child's medical condition wouldn't have been a moral issue. She could've gotten the affection she deserved because our minds and medical boards and governing bodies wouldn't have had clouded judgments of what an abortion is.

I have heard the cries from the left about a mother's choice. I have understood the argument about a young lady in poverty who finally gets some attention from a man and the outcome would be a single mom who can't do it on her own. I shutter remembering a woman who said she needed Jesus followers at the backdoor of the abortion clinic more than at the front door. I have heard them. I mean really heard them. And I 100% believe we as Christians need to get to that backdoor. We need to love women so hard that they know their worth before, during, or after an abortion. We need to pick them up with such mighty hands they choose to go and sin no more.

But I don't believe you get to choose what you want with no consequences. No matter your morality, it will hit you one day. I don't believe abortion has anything to do with a mother's choice. I think that's such a poor marketing scheme that these groups use to justify themselves but ultimately has killed millions of children all in the name of making themselves feel okay. I believe the church should step up and help, but I don't believe you get a free pass for an abortion until they do. And I believe abortion activists need to quit hurling themselves onto the traumatic endurance of having to choose the most ethical way for your child to die because she has an incurable medical condition. Get off my coattails. I let you ride them for 2 years, but today I start fighting back.

Also, P.S. The little girl who was supposed to be "aborted" and is now almost 2 is quite the sassy thing. And she's tired of abortion activists using stories like hers to legitimize their abhorrent behavior. You won't want to get in her way.