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I only wish I could have more Beth Moore moments.

I only wish I could have more "Beth Moore" moments.

Within the last three days, I have been bombarded with bad news from friends and family.  I have listened to friends tell me that they’ve lost their jobs, been diagnosed with an illness, had to schedule surgeries, homes are being foreclosed and depression is setting in.  Believe me when I say that I am no bystander.  Within the last six months, I’ve had my fair share of worries….a major health scare, two surgeries, radiation ablation, the death of my stepfather, and financial woes which accompany the present state of our economy.  So, don’t feel alone in your time of trial…I’m right there with ya.

However, I’m tired of “it.” “It” being bad stuff.  Illnesses, death, despair.  I’m just sick and tired of it.  I’ve got some serious anxiety lately…wondering where it will hit next.   Sometimes, I have nightmares that God is like some big bad mobster.  I’ve imagined him a lot  like Tony Soprano.  This “Mobster God” of my nightmares just keeps “putting hits out” on people.  My nightmares all end with someone (or me) in the back of a big black limo, headed for the Jersey turnpike…in a pair of cement stilettos.

But this is all no joking matter.  I find myself totally pissed off.  I mean really mad.  I keep asking God, “Who and what could be next?”  I don’t mind asking Him, “Can’t you just give us a break already?”  It’s not like we need any more crap piled up on top of what we’re handling.

Let me just say that I am “saved.”  Yes, I believe in God…and specifically, His Son Jesus Christ.  I wish I never questioned His grand plans.  I really would like to be as sure as Beth Moore, Kay Graham Lotz, or Nancy Leigh DeMoss of the whole Heavenly roadmap.  All of these Christian women just seem so sure about everything.  I don’t always feel like this.  I’d like to be one of those women that I’ve seen at church who, in her time of trial, just serenely quotes some Bible verse with a smile plastered across her face.  (You know who they are….the “Stepford Christian woman”…always ready with muffins in hand).  Anyway,  I’d love to have one of these “Beth Moore” moments.  However, I don’t see it happening.  It’s not in my DNA.

In fact, out of all the people in the Bible…I feel a kinship with St. Peter.  This is who I feel like I am most like.   Peter was totally imperfect, but he loved Jesus.   One particular story resonates with me.  It takes place in the garden of Gethsemane right before Jesus was tried and crucified.  The soldiers had come to take Jesus away.   When one of the soldiers made a move to capture Jesus, Peter took out his sword and chopped off the ear of the soldier that manhandled his friend, Jesus.   Everyone else just stood there.  Not Peter.  Peter took action.  Yes, Jesus admonished Peter for fighting….but, Peter wasn’t about to just do nothing while they took Jesus away.  I’m with Peter.  I don’t believe in just standing there and watching.   I believe in doing something.  Anything.

Lately, this includes arguing with God.

Why am I telling you all of this?

I told a clergy person that I wanted to know why I had to have a health scare.  I was told that God chastises his own.  Hmmmmm.  So, does that mean that I did something that required chastisement?  I took this to God and I told God that I haven’t “done anything.”  Lately, I’ve been living a pretty boring life.  Chastisement?  You’ve got to give me another reason.

Then just the other day, I shared with a group of Christian women that I have been “wrestling with God” over all of the things going on recently. (I was just “sharing.”  I wasn’t looking for someone to give me advice.) When one of the women told me just to “pray more,”  I looked at her like she had three heads.  “You’ve got to be kidding me?” I sarcastically responded.  “Pray more?!  What in the heck do you think I’ve been doing?” I said.

I meant it.  I have been praying.  Hard.  If arguing on behalf of myself and others isn’t praying…then I don’t know what I’ve been doing.  Someone very wise told me that the God of our universe can “handle it.”  God can handle my rage, my arguing, and my defiance over whatever reasons are given to me by well-meaning clergy and fellow Christians.  I don’t have to sing along to praise music and wave my hands in the air.  I don’t have to kneel on the edge of my bed with hands folded and speak sweetly to Him.  I think God is strong enough to handle what I’ve got to give Him.  I’ve got questions.  I’ve got some anger and I want Him to listen to me.  I’ve got a case to present on behalf of me and the people I love.  I can pace back and forth in my living room and shout out to God.  I can run on the treadmill and tell God what I really think.  Today I ran like someone was chasing me.  I had a lot to say…

He’s got to listen.  He’s got to give us a break.  At least, this is what I’ve been praying for.

By the way, it was nice to be reminded that my God isn’t walking around “zapping” us with bad crap.  He loves us.  I keep telling myself that.  Even Billy Graham said, “The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.”

I keep telling myself:

Life is precious.

Life is a gift from God.

God is with me.

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If the word “Maw Maw” was in the dictionary, the definition would look something like this:

Maw Maw (pronounced maw maw), Origin:  Southern U.S.

1.  noun:  slang terminology for grandmother; from the slang term “Grandmaw”

2. adjective:  to describe a grandmotherly appearance – ex: short curly perm, wearing of polyester pants and floral blouse;  to describe “grandmotherly” ways or to describe someone who acts too old for their age – ex: driving a Cadillac,  Crown Victoria, Lincoln sedan (any land yacht) before the age of 40.

Being a “Maw Maw” in my home was always right up there with wearing white shoes after Labor Day.  It just wasn’t done.  My mother prided herself on being totally different from her mother.  My mother was a baby boomer and proud of it.  She was hip and cool and she drank wine…good wine…not like her Southern Baptist teetotalling Mama, who was content to watch Lawrence Welk on Saturday night while she crocheted afghans for the church craft fair.  No, my mother, a divorced professional woman, wouldn’t be caught dead doing anything so…well…”maw maw.”

Alas, I have to say that I miss the days of “maw maw.”  Maw Maw is what I called both of my grandmothers.  They were frugal, God-fearing, collard green stewing, crafty, tight curly perm wearin’ women.   Did I happen to mention that I spent most of my time with them?

If my mother had a date, business meeting, unexpected girls’ night out, vacation, etc….Maw Maw was there to keep me.  I can’t tell you how many days and nights that I spent over at Maw Maw’s house.   I helped Maw Maw plant tomatoes, snap beans, grocery shop, and she taught me to sew.  Maw Maw told me that cigarettes were “cancer sticks”  and that beer was “horse piss.”  (My mother smoked and yes, she drank)  Maw Maw made my Easter dress every year.  If I happened to spend the night on a Saturday, it was expected that I’d go to church on Sunday.  Everyone at both Maw Maws’ churches knew me.  It was commonplace at Redeemer Baptist Church for the organist to cue up “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” when I’d appear on a Sunday morning.  The organist knew it was my favorite hymn.  The only time Maw Maw freaked me out was when she told me about how Jesus would come back in the Rapture and take me alive…if I believed in him, got Saved, and made him my Lord and Savior.  I didn’t tell Maw Maw, but I would secretly pray that God would let me go to college first…then He could come get me in the Rapture.

Why this trip down memory lane?  Well, several of my girlfriends and I were lamenting about not having a sitter for one event after another.  Many of us just don’t do dates with our husbands or bookclub as much as we’d like because we can’t find a sitter.  Plus, with the economy in shambles, many of us have opted to forgo sitters all together.  While discussing this issue, one of my friends commented that her mother lived in town…as did mine.  Why had it not occurred to ask Grandma to babysit?  It seems as though it’s far too complicated to hash out.  When my friend and I looked at each other, I knew that we had the same problem.  We didn’t have a “Maw Maw.”

Many of us “X” generation moms just don’t have a “Maw Maw” kind of mom. They don’t want or desire to be anything like their mothers….and this includes babysitting.  Where the baby boomer mom could just drop off little Sally or Johnny for a day, the same baby boomer mom is just not interested in babysitting now that they are the grandparent.  At least, this is what I’m hearing out there.

(OK, if you are the babysitting kind of grandmother…don’t comment or feel compelled to email, etc.  I’ll cover you in a minute.  Bare with me. Thanks!)

I do know of several moms, who are my age, whose mothers are more than content to babysit their grandchildren.  I have one friend in particular, Patti, who does such a phenomenal job as a Grandma that I bet she’d be thrilled to call herself a “Maw Maw.”  I know Patti would wear this title as a badge of honor.

Sadly, I know too many older women who just never felt like they were “old enough” to be a grandmother…not at 55, not at 60, not at 65.  It’s almost like some women think that the moment they become a grandmother it will suck the lifeblood out of them.  Like grandchildren will become some drain on their fleeting youth.

Some grandparents require two weeks notice before babysitting or refuse to do it at all.  I even know someone who has had her mother cancel on so many occasions at the last minute, that it’s just not worth it to ask anymore.  Another friend of mine, almost lost her job because her mother backed out of their agreed paid childcare arrangement when she was a mere two weeks into a new job and no other childcare could be found.  She finally found an opening at a Mother’s Day Out program at the last minute.

I have one friend in particular who told me that her mother came to visit her and chose not to spend any time with her grandchildren.  Instead, she wanted to shop with her daughter and go out to dinner – all sans grandchildren.  My friend was upset because she felt like her children missed out on being with their grandmother.  I told her that it was the other way around.  Her mother was the one who missed out.

Am I saying that grandparents should babysit?  Absolutely not.  I’m just saying that there are benefits…on both ends…of having a relationship with extended family members.  It helps everyone out.  I know that plenty of us, “X gen’s” listened to our parents advice as they told us:

“Have fun in your 20’s, don’t get married ’till you’re 30, and you can take as long as you want to have kids!”

Not so great advice, Mom & Dad!  Thanks to all of your party lovin’ groovy advice, we’ll be spread thin by the time we’re 50!  We’ll have college to pay for when we should be worrying about retirement…and we’ll have to care for aging parents.  Sandwich generation?  No, call us the pressure cooker generation.  I’m just saying that it would be nice to feel more gracious about what we have to face down the road if the extended family was more deeply rooted.

I also believe that  “do overs” don’t come very often.  We can get the chance, as parents, to parent well with our own children.  If we are fortunate, we can learn from our mistakes and do things better (patience, love, understanding, fun) when we welcome grandchildren into our lives.

Ameriprise Financial Services has a t.v. ad spot featuring Dennis Hopper.  Mr. Hopper and all of the baby boomers are dressed in black leather jackets throwing pottery on a wheel and listening to acid rock.   The ad discusses the “alternative” retirement options for their intended audience.  It can’t be mistaken that the ad doesn’t picture any of the elderly audience surrounded by family and grandchildren.  Instead, the actors are portrayed as living out in Arizona…alone….being creative and hip.  Definitely not “maw maw.”  No, way, man!

Sophistication has its place, but you can seriously miss a lot in life when you are so “grown up” that you can’t relish children.  It’s not botox that keeps you young.  Wearing a Nicole Miller ensemble won’t do that for you, either.  Listening to the latest music doesn’t make you cool.   Throwing pottery on a wheel or listening to the Grateful Dead won’t do the trick.  Youth is fleeting.

I have three sons.  I love them.  I like them as people.  I love being a mother.  I definitely look forward to having grandchildren…but, hey, I really like kids.  Kids keep you young.  Kids know how to really have fun.  I think being a “Maw Maw” will be great.

So I have to ask:  When did becoming a “Maw Maw” become passe?  I’m not sure I’ll ever know the answer to that.

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“Hey!  Don’t you know that juice boxes are for drinking…not for hurling at your brother?!”  This is what came flying out of my mouth as I treated Will’s black eye with an ice pack last Sunday.  Jack and Will were “play fighting” and things quickly got out of hand.  With boys, it’s like they start out playing nice, then the testosterone kicks in and suddenly they’re in a frenzy.   Anyway, I realized after the incident that I have said the most ridiculous things within the past week to my sons.  Here is a sample of some of the things that have flown out of my mouth:

1.  Juice boxes are for drinking..not for hurling at your brother.

2.  Yes, I did know that Jesus loves Spiderman.

3.  No, you cannot eat things that fall on the floor of Chick-fil-A…and no, I don’t care if it’s only been on the floor for five seconds.

4.  You may not stand in the window naked. (I pronounce this word “nekkid”)

5.  Maybe Daddy will take you on his next business trip. (This is said while child is having a temper tantrum)

6.  Yes, Daddy is a lawyer.  Mommy is a lawyer, too…I’m just at home with you guys right now.  (This is said to unbelieving children)

7.  Stop making farting noises in the van.

8.  Eating green beans will not turn you green.

9.  No, I will not drive “real fast” down this hill so that your stomach will do a “flip flop.”  Plus, there’s a policeman at the bottom of the hill…we’ll try it later.

10.  Your teachers do not live at school…they are people, too.  Yes, they live in houses just like we do.

11.  It won’t kill you to drink a glass of milk.

12.  Fruit roll-ups don’t count as a fruit serving.

13.  Big boys always brush their hair before going to school.

14.  Stop making faces at the people in the cars behind us.

15.  Yea!!!!!  Good job on wearing big boy underwear!

There’s more to come…..

Juice boxes are for drinking...not for hurling

"Juice boxes are for drinking...not for hurling"

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Its a three ring circus over here

It's a three ring circus over here

It’s Sunday and we’ve survived the day.  It’s a miracle that we even get to church at all considering the craziness that ensues every Sunday morning.  My husband is back from his business trip and we are trying to get back to “normal.”  Normal means going to church on Sunday, including Sunday School.  When people see us unload our crew from our minivan on Sunday morning, we are a frazzeled bunch.   I half jokingly tell people that it’s a three ring circus at our home on Sunday.  Today went something like this:

Saturday @ midnight (officially Sunday) : Mommy lays out everyone’s clothes to make it easier for Sunday morning.  Mommy goes to bed.

6:00 a.m. – Daddy hits the snooze button

6:30 a.m. – Daddy hits the snooze button…again.

7:00 a.m. – Daddy turns the alarm off.   (We are now running late…let the craziness now begin….)

7:45 a.m.- Jack & Will run into Mommy & Daddy’s room & proceed to pounce on sleeping parents.

7:50 a.m. – Daddy gets up and realizes that he is to be at church early because he is helping with the offering and freaks out.  Family must be at church by 9:45 a.m.

8:00 a.m. – Daddy gets Will, Jack & George into the shower for a “quick soap up and rinse.”  Mommy makes up parent’s bed and places boys’ clothes on top of the comforter.

8:15 a.m. – Daddy hands boys off to Mommy.  Daddy gets into shower.  Mommy dries off each boy in assembly line fashion and gets them dressed accordingly.  Will whines that he wants to wear the blue sweater and not the yellow one.   Boys brush teeth.

8:30 a.m. – Will & Jack go downstairs to watch Max & Ruby on Noggin.  George stays in Mommy & Daddy’s room while Daddy gets dressed in bedroom and Mommy goes into shower.  Jack sneeks back upstairs to change from his church clothes into a Spiderman costume.

8:35 a.m. – George finds sippy cup full of juice in Will’s room and unscrews the top.  George pours juice down the front of his outfit before running into Daddy.  George clings to Daddy’s leg with wet clothes.  Daddy’s pants are now saturated with sticky apple juice.  Daddy & George must change clothes.

8: 40 a.m. – Mommy is putting on makeup, but must stop to help Daddy find another outfit for George.  Mommy finds Jack in closet dressed as Spiderman…with cowboy boots.  Jack doesn’t see what the fuss is all about and announces that “Jesus loves Spiderman.”

8:45 a.m. – While Daddy changes clothes, Mommy changes George.  Mommy convinces Jack that “Yes, Jesus loves Spiderman, but Spiderman’s mask is in the wash, so let’s wear something else.”  Jack agrees and changes back into his original outfit.  Mommy sends Jack back downstairs and resumes getting ready.

8:50 a.m. – Mommy and Daddy hear screaming coming from downstairs.  Will comes upstairs with a black eye.  Will and Jack were “play fighting” and things quickly got out of hand.  Jack has hit his big brother in the eye with a juice box.  Will’s eye has started to swell.   Mommy must abandon attempt to put on hose to get an ice pack for Will’s eye.  Daddy has put Jack in “time out.”

9:03 a.m. – Jack’s time is up in “time out.”  Jack tells Will he is “sorry.”  However, Will’s eye is swelling and it is official…he will go to church with a “shiner.”

9:07 a.m. – Mommy finally has clothes on, but realizes that there is no time to “do her hair.”  It looks like a ponytail day for Mommy.  Daddy is downstairs getting the diaper bag ready when he announces that this would be a great day to get doughnuts.  Boys all scream with delight.

9:10 a.m. – Mommy pokes herself in the eye while rushing to put on mascara.  Mommy’s eye will not stop watering.  Mommy throws on a pair of black sling back pumps.

9:11 a.m. – Because Mommy is blind from sticking the mascara wand in her eye, she can’t see and gets her heel gets caught at the top of the stairs.  Mommy falls as she is descending the stairs, ripping a huge hole in her hose.  Mommy must change her hose…and shoes because her heel broke.

9:12 a.m. – Mommy yells to Daddy to “Get the kids in the van!  Strap ’em in!  I’ll be there in a minute!”

9:13 a.m. – Mommy wonders why the kids couldn’t have just had a freakin’ cereal bar and juice this morning.

9:15 a.m. – Mommy has changed clothes and is running down the stairs…with different shoes in hand.

9:16 a.m. – Mommy is in the van and tells Daddy to “Haul it to the doughnut shop!”

9:20 a.m. – Mommy is ordering doughnuts and is obsessing about whether or not she unplugged the curling iron.

9:22 a.m. – Mommy asks Daddy whether they should swing back by the house to make sure that she unplugged the curling iron.  Daddy winces.

9:40 a.m. – Everyone has had a nutritious breakfast of milk and doughnuts – the breakfast of champions.  Mommy and Daddy load everyone back into the van.  Daddy has agreed to go back home, so Mommy can check to see if she unplugged the curling iron.

9:48 a.m. – Mommy feels like an idiot because she did unplug the curling iron.  Mommy wonders if she has obsessive-compulsive disorder.   Suddenly, Mommy smells poop wafting from the backseat.  Mommy looks behind her and notices that George has a hand full of brown “mud.”  (This is definitely not mud, folks)  Mommy tells Daddy to pull back into the driveway.  Mommy instructs Daddy to go on to church with Will and Jack, as she will meet him there in a second.

10:15 a.m. – Mommy is at church with a clean baby.  George had an “accident” and had to be bathed and changed (again).

10: 20 a.m. – Mommy must check George into the church nursery.  The church nursery rivals the Pentagon with its security clearance procedures.

10: 35 a.m. – Mommy plops down on a church pew.  (The service started at 10:15)  Mommy is very, very tired.  Mommy asks the Lord to forgive her for saying bad words before church and wanting to sleep during the soloists’ performance of “Amazing Grace.”  Mommy finds a half-wrapped mint in the bottom of her purse covered in lint and debates whether to eat it or not.  Someone interrupts her thoughts to comment on how nice the children look today.  Mommy laughs like a crazy lady…

10:45 a.m. – Mommy gives in and eats the lint-covered mint because she is hungry.  She didn’t eat at the doughnut shop due to worrying about the curling iron.

11:00 a.m. – Mommy is nudged by Daddy because she dozed off during the sermon.

11:15 a.m. – Mommy goes to nursery to pick up the boys.

11:30 a.m. – Off to eat lunch.  Woo Hoo!!!!!  We actually made it through another Sunday morning.

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Receiving His Grace

Receiving His Grace

Every year, our family leaves our warm and cozy nest on Christmas Eve to attend a church service.  It may not seem like an extraordinary feat to do so, but try getting yourself, two toddlers and a five year old ready for church and you may change your mind.  Sometimes I feel like Satan is on my shoulder whispering to me, “Hey! Wouldn’t you rather stay at home eating Cheese Doodles and watching Access Hollywood by a roaring fire rather than going to church and sitting on some hard pew for an hour?”  Let’s just say, that it can be rather tempting to stay home and do nothing.  However, I just couldn’t justify doing that…not this year.

We went to church and sang all of the old familiar Christmas hymns.  It is very comforting to sit and listen to the songs of old amidst beautiful candlelight.  However, something in the pastor’s short sermon caught me off guard.  He reminded us all that we should embrace and gladly receive His Grace and that Grace is a gift that is undeserved and unwarranted, yet it is something that He gives us gladly…no strings attached.”

I know that I have heard this a thousand times, but why did this tear at my soul?  Was it that I have never been good at receiving gifts?  Was it the mention of the word, receiving?  Probably.  I’m the type of person that is much better planning someone else’s birthday party or shopping for someone else than I am at doing anything for myself.   This couldn’t be the sole reason that I felt uncomfortable at the pastor’s words.

I pondered the word, gift.  My eyes filled with tears.  Christmas is the time for the giving and receiving of gifts.   In law school, I remember that my contracts professor spent a whole class period explaining the legal differences between a gift and a loan.  A gift is unconditional…it is gratuitous.  I’ll never forget how dumbfounded I was at hearing the definition.  How many times in my life did someone give me a “gift” with “strings attached.”  I cringe to think.  Plus, I’ve heard the story about Jesus’s birth in Luke’s Gospel a million times.  Why did I suddenly feel so unworthy to acknowledge God’s gift to me – His Son, Jesus Christ?

Suddenly, it hit me why I felt this way…this Christmas.  See, it wasn’t but four short months ago that I was diagnosed with cancer.  It was a low level cancer, but it was cancer nonetheless.  Tell a 38 year old woman with three small children and a husband that she has cancer and you’ll see a frightened and desparate individual.  However, I was fortunate.  My cancer was caught early and I had a surgery to remove the cancerous lesion.  Later, my oncologist told me to not look back…enjoy life.  I took his advice.

Throughout my ordeal I prayed.  The funny thing is…I never prayed for myself.  I prayed for my children.  I prayed for my husband.  I begged God to let me live for them.  I just wanted to take care of my family.  I had to.  Who would wipe my sons’ faces when they were dirty?  Who would know when to get those family photos taken?  Who would pack their lunches?  Who would know when to pick up the dry cleaning and when to sign kids up for soccer?  Who, God?!  Who?!

Well, God answered my prayers.  I was given His Grace.  It is totally undeserved.  I was given the ultimate gift.  I was given my life.

So, on Christmas Eve…this is why I was so uncomfortable.  I have been actively moving forward by putting the cancer behind me.  I have been scared to acknowledge that I even had the stupid illness.  I haven’t wanted to jinx myself.  I recognized that I needed to give thanks…this night…on Christmas Eve.  God gave us His Son as a perfect sacrifice to the world.  God gave me my health.  To not acknowledge this is like getting a wonderful gift and never writing someone a thank you note.  Tonight, I thanked God again.  Receiving is good.

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I recently registered on Facebook after several of my girlfriends told me how fun it would be for me to reconnect with old law school chums and friends from college, blah, blah, blah.  After several months of being hassled, I registered and began to fill out my profile.  Facebook asks you for your “Activities.”  I listed chauffeuring my three boys as one of my “Activities.”  It’s the truth.  That’s what I do.  I am the family chauffeur…to school, to soccer, to church, to play dates.

Plus, the more I thought about it, the more I decided that chauffeuring my kids around is very similar to being the designated driver for a van full of inebriated adults.   Let me explain before you think I’m being awful….

If you’ve ever been the designated driver in college, you know what I mean when I say that driving your friends around at the end of an evening out can be like driving a van full of kids.  I’m really not complaining.  My kids are good kids.  They say “thank you” and “please” and I don’t really yell that much.  However, their behavior is totally appropriate for children ages five, three and one. This means they act like they are five, three, and one.  So, at times, I swear that three small children can be as obnoxious as three wasted adults.  No joke.  For instance…

Anytime we are driving somewhere and I hear an old disco tune on the radio, I’ll crank it up.  (I just love Donna Summer) Suddenly, I’ll hear “No Mommy!  That’s yucky music!  Turn on something else!”  Then my oldest and most precocious child, Will, usually screams out, “FREEBIRD!”  This goes on until I solve the problem and put something on that everyone loves – Jimmy Buffett.   Suddenly…nirvana… I hear my sons sing along to “Volcano” or  “Fins” in unison.

I had the same problem with music in the car when I’ve been the designated driver.  First, someone wants to hear Dave Matthews, then another one wants to hear something else.  No one is content until you find music that everyone can sing to…like “Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf or if it’s a bunch of women, “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor.  Before you know it, you’ve got full-blown karaoke in the third row seats.

Sometimes when you are the designated driver, you’ve got to make a pit stop. This usually entails a stop to the Waffle House or Taco Bell at 2 a.m.  Sometimes your group may ask you to make a stop at an all night grocery store if everyone can’t decide on what they want for a late night snack.  This kind of late night stop is analogous to taking three preschoolers to the grocery store.  I don’t ever remember my mother having much of a problem with taking kids into the grocery store.   Back in the 1970’s, women like my mother just let children sit in the car with the engine running while they pumped gas or ran inside the thrifty mart for a gallon of milk.  You just don’t do that anymore.  Now, you’ve got to unload everyone when you pay for gas, pick up dry cleaning, and certainly to do shopping of any kind. It’s a miracle that no one ever snatched me out of the front seat of my mother’s car.  Why didn’t people ever think of carjacking back in 1978?  I digress…

Anyway, taking all three boys into the store for one gallon of milk is no different than taking three drunk sorority girls into the grocery store to buy snacks for the evening.  First, the boys want to ride in the buggy that has the attached little tykes truck and seats four children…then they don’t want to.  This takes about ten minutes to get George, the youngest child, strapped in and for me to repeat the instructions that all of them are to “Be good…or else!”  I’ve untangled the cart straps and successfully fastened them around George.  This is when Jack, the three year old, has hopped on one of those scooters meant for the handicapped or the elderly.  Jack starts up the scooter and is driving the contraption past me and into the produce section.  When I look up, I see that Jack is dangerously close to a pyramid of navel oranges.  I manage to make it to the scooter before Jack takes out the pyramid and a table of freshly baked pies.  I yank Jack off the scooter and take this opportunity to strap him in a seat and repeat the objective of our mission.  We are only here for milk.  That’s it.

It gets better.  This is when Will announces, “I’ve got to go potty!.”  Going to the potty takes a good fifteen minutes or even twenty minutes if Jack decides that he has to go, too.   Now, it’s been almost half an hour since we’ve driven onto the Kroger parking lot and I’ve not even laid eyes on the dairy section of the grocery store.

After everyone has emptied his bladder, we once again head to the dairy department…which is located in the far recesses of the store.  The boys beg for a cookie from the bakery.  I cave and grab them each a double chocolate cookie.  Chocolate is everywhere…on the floor, in the buggy, on faces and hands.  Where are my wet wipes?  I can’t find them.  I want to scream.  I just want milk for Pete’s sake.

I am not paying attention because I am digging through my purse for wipes to clean dirty faces when I stupidly push the buggy down the “seasonal aisle.” It is Christmas, so naturally, the seasonal aisle is laden with Christmas decor, candy, and toys.  All three boys are start yelling, “Hey!  Look at Rudolph!…No, there’s a GINORMOUS bag of M&M’s…how cool!…No, look at those Matchbox Cars…Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!…Can we get one….PUHLEEEEEEEEEEEEZZZZZEEEEE!!!!!!!!”   Just shoot me now.

This is when I have a flashback of my senior year of college when I was the designated driver for a group of my girlfriends after a Widespread Panic concert.  After the concert, we ventured into a Kroger at midnight to pick up a liter of Diet Coke, a Harper’s Bazaar, and a bag of Doritos.  I had to herd five drunk college girls through Kroger without incident.  It was a hot mess.

Mary Kate had to go to “the little girl’s room” and Lizzy opened a jar of olives and was eating them in the deli while talking to a cute stock boy.  Lucy and Beth were sitting on the floor near the pharmacy looking at pictures of Brad Pitt in GQ.  My roommate, Hope, was begging me to consider getting a blow-up Christmas decoration for our tiny dormroom.  “PUHLEEEEEEEEEEEEZZZZZEEEEE!!!  Let’s get that mammoth snowman for our room!,” shouted Hope.  Let’s just say that I didn’t volunteer to be the designated driver for many months after that.

I snapped out of my flashback as we rounded the corner into the dairy department.  We got the milk and bolted.

Yes, I am the family chauffer.  Yes, I feel like a designated driver.  In fact, I may change my facebook profile from “family chauffer” to “designated driver to three boys all capable of embarrassing their mother at a moment’s notice.”  I’m just kidding.  No, really…I am just kidding.  I think.

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Every so often, I have to re-read “Bringing Up Boys” by Dr. James Dobson.   As I re-read the book, my hands are usually shaking and my nerves are shot because I have just returned from the emergency room or the pediatrician”s office.  If I am lucky, I will have only had to take out the first aid kit and administer some Bactine and unpeeled a Spiderman band-aid.  You see, my affliction is that I am the mother of three boys.

If you are still unsure as to what I am talking about…let me digress.   My boys are the rough, outdoorsy kinds of kids.  I have always prided myself on the fact that they are not content to sit and watch hours and hours of television.  My boys would rather go outside and sit atop their fort and pretend that they are pirates in a ship surrounded by a sea of alligators.  They are content to swing from their tire swing and yell out like Tarzan.  When it rains, Will (age 5)  and Jack (age 3) like to pitch a tent in their room and play “camp.”  I’ve even served them “camp food” inside their tent (even George – 18 mos. is allowed inside).  On occasion, they’ve taken naps inside the tent.  In other words, they are typical boys.

Let me say that this is not a rant….I just need the chance to voice my concern over Will & Jack’s latest Christmas request.  Will asked Santa for “Cowboy stuff.”  Will specifically asked for a cowboy belt, hat, chaps, rope…and cap gun.  Jack specifically asked Santa for a full Indian headdress, chaps…and cap gun (bow and arrow were optional).

At the mention of such items, I became nostalgic for the days of the Lone Ranger and Tonto, circa 1959?  I thought it was really cute that both boys wanted to dress up like John Wayne and Geronimo.  I couldn’t help but to think of the photo ops.  Even the cap guns didn’t sound so bad, since Santa would only give them a gun sans caps.  Harmless enough, right?

While getting the boys ready for church this morning, I asked Will about his Christmas list.   This is when said, “Oh, Mommy…I’m so excited about Christmas!  I can’t wait to get my cowboy stuff.  Jack can’t wait either.  As soon as we get it, we plan to have a “real war” in the backyard.  Won’t that be awesome?!”

My heart stopped.  This could mean scrapes, cuts, and the hurling of dogpoo (it’s happened before).  I’ve seen the boys reenact “war” before.  It was right after they saw Narnia and Peter Pan.  They were obsessed with swords for months.  I refused to buy play swords, so every tree branch and stick was brandished as a sword.  As soon as I heard the words, “On guard” or “Walk the plank!,” I was there in a heartbeat screaming, “Drop the sticks!”   See, I don’t want anyone to get hurt…at the same time, I don’t want them to lose their sense of adventure and what it means to be a boy.  It’s a dilemma.  Plus, I’m in constant fear that someone from the Department of Children Services will come knocking on my door any minute wanting to know why Will has a black eye or why Jack ‘s fingernail is peeling away from the cuticle (that happened as a result of climbing the neighbor’s fence and getting his finger caught between the slats).  Even the pediatrician’s office knows our insurance information by heart…now, we are just ushered into the same room – Examination Room #3, thank you.

I guess I’m just giving up.  This is life with boys.  Santa is bringing cowboys gear and such.  I think I better stock up on Super Hero bandaids.  It’s just a hard knock life with boys.  Life would be so boring without them.  I love ’em.  Thank God for little boys.  Thank God for my boys.

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