God has ways of getting our attention, and I am grateful He does.
I'm gonna jump around in this post a lot, so try to hang with me. Sometimes I have so much to say and I don't take time to write it all down quickly enough and it vanishes . . . poof! Or I jot it in the old timey journal and it never makes its way to the world wide web . . . you know how it is. Busy Mom stuff/ my life has changed SO much. But here is the latest in my story:
I feel like my babies are growing up right before my very eyes. I can't even describe it without getting a little teary. Lizzie still has those baby-fat round cheeks but she is now THREE. She loves lip gloss, nail polish, jewelry, and ponies. She wants to get her ears pierced (like her best friend Riley) and she runs circles around this fat old mommy. At night when I try and wrangle her into my lap for bedtime songs, she is too busy to sit for long, she has to tell me stories about her day at school and her friends and the dog, and her juice cup. I drag her chunky butt into my lap, holding her as she wiggles and try to sing a few songs while she says "I don't like that song," or changes the words while I'm singing: "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Butt."
"Lizzie, don't say that!"
"It's funny, Mommy!! Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Butt!"
And so it goes.
Camden has now finally lost one of his front teeth and that makes me ecstatic. The first three were little teeth near the back but now we are finally making some real progress. This makes me so happy because the two front teeth were nothing but caps. They were ugly, off-white colored fake teeth on the front and silver on the back. They were put into place because his baby teeth rotted out from "bottle rot" in his original home. So to see his "new smile" taking over where those giant fake beaver teeth used to be is downright awesome.
And my little Cole who came to me at 26 pounds of pasty white flesh covered in scabs, is now my golden-skinned, warm and lovable Pre-K student at a solid forty pounds. He talks constantly, tells me every day that I am "the most awesome mommy in the whole world!" and just graduated to the top bunk bed. It was in the car with Cole-bug earlier this week that I was struck by just how fast time is going by, and how quickly my babies are growing up.
John's car is on the fritz (more on that later) and so we are a one-car family for the time. John had gotten a ride to work with his coworker and Cody agreed to put Cam on the bus. Georgia, Mitchell and Samuel all got on the HS/MS bus and that left me and Lizzie and Cole. We dropped Lizzie off first at her daycare and I headed into town toward Cole's school. The radio was blaring because I love some morning radio, and Cole was doing his normal head-nodding, car seat shaking form of dance that he does constantly when music is playing. I heard him say "Mommy," and turned down the radio just enough to hear him.
"Mommy, when is Santa coming?"
"Buddy, it's January, Santa just came." I turned the radio back up.
"Yeah, but he's comin again, right?" I turned the radio back down.
"Yes, Colebug, he's coming next Christmas." I turned the radio back up.
"Yes, buddy?" I turned the radio back down.
"How big will I be when Santa comes again?"
"You will be FIVE." I turned the radio back up.
"FIVE! That's BIG! Will I be a big kid?" I turned the radio back down.
"Yes, buddy. You will be Five and in Kindergarten and you will go to the big kids' school with Camden. Camden will be in second grade, and Lizzie will be in preschool, and Mitchell will be a freshman in high school . . . " Suddenly my voice started quaking and I turned the radio off.
No morning radio show was this important.
Cole sat up straight in his carseat and looked me in the rear view mirror, "I'm growing up so fast!" He explained.
"Yes, you are." I said, a slow-motion movie playing in my imagination. His first day of Kindergarten, Mitchell's first day of high school. Georgia going away to COLLEGE. Amanda will turn 21 years old! All of these things will happen in 2014. How is this even possible?
This really got me thinking about all the times that just blow by like a locomotive - right in front of our eyes. God, I don't want to miss a second, not a moment! But I almost did miss a few precious moments in the car with Cole. Because of a radio talk show.
I kept the radio off and Cole chattered away in the back seat behind me. I listened and tried to tuck away his words and songs and silly sayings in my heart and memory.
"Goin to school, school, cool, pool, bull, drool, goin to school, mool, mool, shool, duel . . . I gonna eat a snack at school! I gonna play with Allison!! I gonna dance and sing! Mah Mah Mah Mah, Mah Mah, Mah Mah! Boo, Boo, Boo, Boo, Boo, Boo, Boo! Watcha Watcha Watcha Watcha!! I'm Cole Ross Line . . . Cole Ross Line . . . Cole Ross Line . . . . I got the best mommy in the whole world! Mommy, you AWESOME!! I got the BEST mommy in the whole world! I'm COLE ROSS LINE . . . COLE, bowl, mole, goal, roll, dole, hole, Cole . . ." and on and on he went. He never stopped talking and I never stopped listening, treasuring every moment.
When they are grown and off getting an education, or growing a family of their own, or chasing their dreams, I will miss their little voices and giggles, and hugs, and sticky hands. I will long for these moments in ways I can't describe.
In the past two months, we have lost the use of our washing machine, John's car, and then our pipes froze in the "Frozen Tundra of Northeastern Georgia" earlier this week. Going without these conveniences has been nearly impossible for our family.
First, two weeks before Christmas, we lost the washer. In one day, our laundry pile was taller than our Christmas tree. The load trapped in the washer had to be rescued with the jaws of life after spending about 36 hours trapped in dirty water. The smell was ferocious and we had to pile it all in our shower while waiting for a solution. By the third day, I took the morning off from work, filled my pockets full of quarters, loaded TWELVE loads of laundry into the back of my car and took off the "The Land of Forgotten Undies" otherwise known as the Coin Laundry. This was an eye-opening experience as people who regularly use these facilities have their own culture. They all knew each other. They shared their laundry secrets and family gossip:
"Hey, Melvin . . . have you tried this new fabric softener?"
"You can use this machine, it's still got about 30 cent on it and it's hot inside."
"Where you been, Doris, we been missin you around here! How's Ed?"
"Does anybody know if this machine got fixed yet? It's been shaking awful crazy!"
I took it all in that morning, the sights, the smells, the characters. I felt like I had walked into Cheers. I was an outsider with my enormous pile of dirty laundry. It took over and hour for me to get into a rhythm. I made two trips to the ATM to get more cash, having only used a coin laundry last in 1998. I poured change into the machines faster than Kate Gosselin at Chuck E. Cheese. By mistake, I folded some other guys clothes because there were so many of ours and I started losing track. By the third hour, I started talking to my laundry:
"Oh, hey, you're doing good in there! Just a few more minutes!"
It was unforgettable. But what I remember the most is that a few days later when our "new to us" washer arrived (thank you, Andrea) I bowed down in front of it and kissed it on its white belly. You never know what you've got until its gone.
Then three weeks later, John's car died on his way to work. Being the athlete he is, he decided to roll it into the parking lot of a gas station/ drug paraphernalia operation and walked up the mountain the rest of the way to work. Yes, that cramped little car is not my favorite way to go but I miss it now like I've lost a part of my body. We now have endless "togetherness" and more logistics to operate on a school day morning that most governments have to do for small countries. You don't know what you're missing until its not available anymore.
And finally, the biggest hit (and I hope the last) was the loss of our water source. Yeah, turns out water is pretty important for a family of nine. The pipes froze when the temps dropped down to the single digits. Never occurred to me this would happen and I was amused at first. Then twelve hours later, my amusement turned to rage and insanity. How is a mom supposed to serve dinner and bathe her children with NO WATER? I turned very creative. I emptied all the drinking water in the fridge into pots. I asked John to run into town and fill up every available vessel at our church with tap water to use. And best of all - I bathed my children in water I had earlier used to steam the broccoli. Yes, Camden was first and he hollered out "Mom! There's broccoli in my bath!" And I shouted back, "I know! It's GOOD for you! It's full of antioxidants!" And later than night as I picked broccoli bits out of Lizzie's hair I considered the way we all depend on running water. Samuel, Mitchell and I took a voyage to my office in the middle of the nigh to fill up more containers. We talked about the important of not flushing the toilet. I told them that (just this once) it was okay to wipe and put the paper in the trash can rather than the toilet. "It's very European, " I told them.
Yeah, it turns out you don't realize how much you depend on something until its gone.
I spent part of the last week "detoxing" with my boss to jump start our next fitness challenge. Yeah, try doing that without a way to flush. It's a VERY strict detox to cleanse the gluttony of the holidays away. Suddenly an apple seemed like a hot fudge sundae while I was depriving myself. I drank only water, and cut out all caffeine, sugar, etc. And once again it hit me, we never realize what we have until its gone.
And Time is the same way, my friends. Time never stops, it just keeps on going and going and going . . . (you get the picture). One day our babies will all be grown up and we will wish we had more time. We will look at their photo albums and little baby teeth in a box and remember their tiny fingers and the funny conversations in the car. And our hearts will long for what we once had.
I for one am going to turn off the radio more. And listen harder. And talk less. And play more. And laugh more. And snuggle more. And argue less. And criticize less. I don't have any time to waste.