You Know Better!

One of the delights and heartache of parenting is hearing your words come out of your children’s mouths. It cracks me up every time I hear Eden say, “No ma’am!” to her sisters who are being stinkers. However, these phrases…not so much, “You know better!” the worst being “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?”

Sigh. The beauty and wonder of this parenting gig is the chance to launch these kids into the world as a powerful source of love and light. But first, oh first…our own hearts need healing…so that the words that come out are a balm…not a vat of boiling oil. Ahem.

The deal with Eden’s words of admonishment…nay…condemnation toward her sisters, well, those words are my self-talk phrases…the very voice of self-condemnation. It makes me sad that the voice in my head and heart is so harsh…and it encourages me to be more gentle with myself. Cause like it or not, when I get squeezed, that is the voice that spills out of my mouth…out into the world…all over my spouse and my children. I want my words to bring life and not death.

And so, I endeavor to soften my responses to my own short-comings. Let’s see how this goes! Social experiment #921…in play. This should be good.

 

Treasure

We believe our time with the Peas is drawing to a close. Perhaps. Perhaps not. But in anticipation of a life without these precious girls, my heart cannot help but treasure moments. Images of dimples and crazy hair and chubby legs and outreached arms…the way Chick Pea holds my face as we touch noses…the way Sweet Pea says “Ma ma ma,” and sings with me “Ahhhh ahhhh ahhhh”…these moments placed and secured in a trove.

Some folks, lots of folks, shy away from fostering for this very reason…the fear of loss. Oh! But to live each day with the awareness that time is fleeting…such a gift! This  awareness colors our home and relationships…shading the moments of our lives with brilliant hues…making life just a bit sweeter. 

We wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Unfit

So, we’ve been fostering for about three years. And in that three years’ time, we’ve been assigned the crème de la crème of case managers. I wish she could say the same for us…or for me. But she has informed me…laughingly, “Jan, you are not a good foster mom. You are a great mom. But you treat these foster babies like they are yours. And they are not. You must remember, they are not yours.” Yep. It is true. I struggle greatly with the disparity in my parenting style for my “own children” versus my parenting style for my precious fosters. Risk management? What’s that? I figure, as long as the consequence is not fatal…or near fatal…let ’em figure stuff out for themselves. Right? Let ’em play, and tumble and climb and explore. Let ’em be bold and courageous in the face of the play scape or the slide or the tree. Yeah. No bueno for my Peas. No. Bueno.

And in my quiet moments, I realize, I am NOT a good foster mom. There are aspects of this gig that I forget time and time again. But I am learning. Slowly. I am learning. The babies belong to another woman. And my haphazard approach to risk management probably leaves her frustrated…and worried. And I am starting to realize, my inattention to detail is…unkind. Sigh.

Though it will feel crazy unnatural, I am going to try to parent in a way that isagainst every instinct I have. Now, I won’t stop being me…and I’ll make mistakes…and the fact that I am currently parenting a dare-devil of a toddler comes into play. Up til now, my focus in parenting has been for the love of the babies in my charge. My passion for their good. I am going to try to parent in a way that is loving to my charges’ mama. A consideration for her vulverable position of leaving the care of her babies to another.

Here’s to becoming a more loving foster mom…a fit foster mom.

The Wheels on the Bus

We have done it! We’ve taken the leap. We are now a one-car family. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought we’d do this. Yet here we are…with only one vehicle. (How snobby do I sound? Just one of the most ridiculously extravagant forms of transportation First. World. Girl.) But, wonder of wonders, it is wonderful!

To be honest, this was not our plan. It wasn’t even on the radar, which makes it all the more fun. This new adventure invited us to join. And even that…the invitation…was not direct. It went something like this:

We took our red minivan on a wild ride to California and back…well, almost back. About thirty miles away from our blessed beds, the van all but exploded. Driver error. Ahem. Anyhoo, big hole. Right in the engine. But I’m getting ahead of myself. As far as we knew at this point, the thing just didn’t work. We had the van towed to the auto shop to await a verdict…after the long holiday weekend.

And then the new year rolled around. Our car in the shop…awaiting the examination and diagnosis. I casually asked Phil if he had any New Year’s resolutions. If you know Phil, you  know he struggles with time. Never. Enough. So he asked me if I could help him get more than 24 hours into a day. And if you know me, you know that I figured I just might be able to do it. Me and time. We’re buddies. (That’s code for I’m never late. Never. Eh. Almost never.)

After a quick analysis, I noted Phil’s commute was killing him. Forty five minutes to work, forty five minutes home. Then play, play, play with kids…send me to bed…and do a bazillion chores…and put in a few more hours of work. Oh, and take care any crying babies in the middle of the night. (I know. Right? Who is this man?)

“Phil. Your commute is the problem. Can you work from home one day a week?” NOPE. He must be in the office. But not for the full eight hours. Just daily in the office. Sigh. “Hmmmm. How about the bus??? You can work on the way to work and on the way home.” And just like that, a crazy new scheme was hatched.

Wednesday morning, Phil jumped on San Antonio’s public transportation. It has been forty years since he had ridden a bus. Forty. And it went well. He picked up some tips from friends at work who commute by bus. He picked up some tips from the bus drivers. And he picked up a bike…complete with helmet…to help him cover those two miles between the last drop off and his office.

Suddenly, Phil was getting home at 5:00 with NO work to do. None. All work complete via office and bus. We found 90 more minutes for his day. Yea!!!

And then the news came. Hole. In the engine. It would cost more to fix the engine than the van was worth. What. To. Do? We slept on it. For a week. We slept hard because we did NOT think we could swing one car. But, the bus experiment was going so well, we figured…let’s try this one-car thing.

And so, here we are…one car! A brand new adventure. Not sure how long this will last…but… We’re loving the teamwork this requires. We’re loving the simplicity this inspires. We’re loving the money that we’re saving. This might be a long-term fix!

 

Twenty Three Skiddoo

getaway 

Twenty three years ago, I married Chuck Picciuti. In an outdoor ceremony. With no plan B. Good thing the weather held!

January 1. My favorite day of the year? Maybe. Maybe so. For me,  this day simultaneously holds joy and hope beyond compare coupled with incomprehensible grief. January 1, 1994. Me and Chuck. It cracked him up to introduce me thus, “This is my first wife, Jan.” So it is with irony that each January 1st, I reflect on life with my first husband, Chuck.

I am forever grateful for my years with Chuck Picciuti…for each laugh…for each ridiculous fight…for each jaw-dropping moment (and trust me, there were many.) My soul is etched with his name. Not a day goes by that I do not lean on a Chuck-Picciuti-lesson. The man taught me:

  1. To see and embrace the funny…in even the darkest of moments.
  2. Sometimes the rules need to be broken.
  3. Just act like you know what you are doing and people won’t question you. (This move is useful for crashing everything from a Spurs luncheon to the box seats of…any event really.)
  4. The mind has an amazing capacity to override the body.
  5. To trust my instincts.
  6. To fly by the seat of my pants.
  7. To. Do. Nothing. To just sit and be.
  8. When nervous or scared to try something new, to imagine the very worst that could happen and reflect on whether or not I could live with the worst outcome. This little exercise gets me to “jump,” more than anything else.

And of course, he taught me to grieve. He taught me that great love is worth great pain. He taught me that life can be filled with joy and laughter and light even after unspeakable loss.

He was a keeper. And so he stays…etched.

 

 

 

This Mama

Oh my soul. I did not want to be this mama. And granted, my expectations were likely (giggle, giggle, snort, snort) unrealistic, but wow. This mama?

You see, a little something happened in our home earlier this year. A great and glorious event. We…Phil and I…became parents of four little girls…ages four on down. This means that I became a stay-at-home mama to four…ahem…let’s call them little children. (Honestly, I have to daily remind myself…they are ALL age-appropriate in their behaviors. It’s just that their ages are nine months, two years, three years, and four years. Grrrrrr.)

Anyhoo, though I’ve not written much of our fostering journey this go round, it has been rough on this ol’ mama. Rough. I have been stretched in ways that have left me empty, raw, and aching. My nerves are fragile…and my children are no respecter of nerves. And so, yelling has become the order of the day. I yell. A lot. And I apologize. A lot. And I vow to get this thing under control. A lot. And I fail to do so. A lot.

Pretty vicious cycle. But Jesus, in his sweetness, has whispered to my soul. Stop struggling. Stop.

My BEST efforts haves left me in a loop of shame, repentance, renewed effort,  failure. Repeat.

But Jesus has whispered…stop trying to be the mom you think your kids deserve. This is the mom you are…and your kids adore you. You get grumpy and you yell. A lot. And they love you. A lot. Be courageous enough to let them. Let them love you…flawed.

And so, I am this mama. Which is great, cause this is the mama my kids love.

 

 

 

 

Eden — Four and Ten

My heart bursts watching Eden. She’s intense. She’s tenacious. She’s full of love and wonder…with no reservations about expressing herself.

And now, the many faces of Eden:

At four years and ten months, Eden:

  • likes to concentrate on tasks, “Shhh! I’m working.”
  • is fiercely loyal. She told Den, “I’ll always be there for you.” And she will be.
  • enjoyed RV camping! Her favorite part was the potty. (I think that was everyone’s favorite.) “Mom, it would be so fun if I could go potty while Dad drives.” Yep. It’s the little things.
  • found and held her first frog while camping. It was a small brown frog. She was enraptured.
  • feeds and dotes on Sweet Pea. She loves to hold her…and tries to carry her…and I try to let her without panicking.
  • is developing a wit that makes me swoon. Recently, she was pretending to be a cat and I asked her what her name was. “My name is…wait for it…wait for it…CHLOE.” (Ah yes, the name she always chooses. Why Chloe? Who knows? I bet her firstborn girl will be named Chloe.)
  • has taken the lead on caring for Lady. They are smitten with each other. (Well, sometimes Lady is a bit fearful of Eden’s tenacious love.) They go everywhere together. Lady loves to snuggle, which is just fine with Eden! These two are developing a beautiful relationship.
  • gave Sweet Pea a bath.
  • loves and wants to house every stray dog we come across, “But, Mom! That dog has no home. We have to take it home and take care of it.”
  • calms Clancy, our dog, with a gentle, “Easy, Clance. Easy.”
  • is learning that, and I quote, “Only MY grown ups can see me naked, not the visiting ones.” We’re getting there!
  • loved having “Daddy’s brother” visit.