Saturday, January 23, 2016

January 23, 2016: A Seat at the Big Table

Grant at a Creighton game ~ Fall of 2007
Baby Grant got his school driving permit yesterday. My days of carting kids and playing taxi driver are almost behind me. A bitter sweet time. Although I will be gaining a new found freedom, I have actually enjoyed this car time with the kids.

But instead I am reminded daily that my youngest is now a young man, not a child, and that he is no longer just the tag-along little brother. He played that role well for many, many years.

From the toddler to junior high, Grant watched hundreds of baseball, basketball, and football games with his brothers on the field. Grant's vantage point was typically in the stands, under the stands, or behind the stands. With his dad as coach for many of the teams, Grant would also tag along to practices; learning great skills in keeping himself busy and finding fun in people and things on his own.

Now almost 16, this training has served Grant well. He never lacks for something to do and is quite skilled, too much at times, in keeping himself busy and surrounded by friends.

Over the years Grant has loved to go to the Creighton basketball games. During the pre-double-digit years, Grant didn't miss a beat; wearing Creighton blue and painting his face to match. He sat by my side watching every play and participating in the dance-offs and big screen entertainment.

Turning ten, he became more interested in locating his friends and hanging with them. When not gathering behind the stands, he and his large contingent of pals would find empty seats to sit in together. Usually this meant the very top row in the nose bleed section. The best seats in the house, according to them.

For the last five years, although Grant would ride with me to most games, I wouldn't see much of him until the end. Last week, to my surprise, that changed. Like a child moving from the kid table to the adult table, Grant sat next to me in our designated season ticket spots. And he was by my side, enjoying a good game, all 5 foot 10 of him.

Prior to the game, I had an interchange with him that was very similar to years past.

Me: There's a Creighton game tonight. Do you want to go?

Grant: I don't know if anyone else is going.

Me: I'm not bringing anyone. You can sit by me.

Grant: Yeah. Sure.

And then he did. The whole game. Just like his adult brothers.

It's an interesting transition in a mother/son relationship as they move into their early adulthood years. I think this is especially true of the youngest. The baby. This is the hardest one for me to both let go and to accept.

After the game last week, I reflected on this transition that was becoming more and more apparent in our daily lives. Coincidentally I found our family Christmas card of 2007 when cleaning out a closet.

The words and pictures on this treasured find made me smile. Nine years have gone by. Really? Where did they go?

2007 was a year filled with joy and youthful happiness. Lots of car rides and boy fun. Grant was in his prime as the little brother. Zach was in his sweet spot of oldest brother as a busy eighth-grader turned freshman in high school. And Ben, always the middle child. But always with a clever idea and a smile on his face.

I have no doubt the adulthood years will continue to bring a whole new kind of joy. The boys will always fun. That I do not doubt. With others. With each other. And they will always make their mother smile.

A good thing :)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

January 17, 2016: Life Lessons

Picture of Ben and his Uncle Jason on my shattered phone
I dropped my cell phone today. I have done this many times. But today it shattered.

And the culprit for my carelessness? I was trying to take a selfie while hiking.


My first phone call post-hike was to my middle son, Ben. For years I have scolded him for having a phone with a broken screen in his possession. This was more often the case than him having a nice, unbroken screen. I have often lectured him on the need for using a durable phone cover and the merits of ‘being careful’. Common statements from me to Ben…

"Don’t text on the trampoline in the rain" or "Don’t put your phone in your athletic shorts pocket while attempting a basketball slam-dunk."

Today it was me, not Ben, making the call from a completely shattered phone. Ben’s phone is beautifully intact and has been for months. But just as I have asked of my own kids, I had to own my failing. And then I complimented Ben on his good efforts.

Later during the day, Ben and I exchanged texts during the Broncos game. Although difficult to read, I was able to make out the interchange on my jumbled screen.
Ben: Watching the game?

Me: Yes. Not good.

Ben: Hoping for the best.

Me: Shaquil is playing.

Ben: I’m watching.

Me: I’m still mad that I shattered my phone.

Ben: Live & learn.

Me: Life lessons.
Life lessons. One of my favorite subjects to discuss with my boys through the years. Typical conversations would include statements like “I know this has been hard for you, but a good life lesson” or “Sometimes the best lessons in life are from the failings while living it”.

Then they would typically look at me like I had three heads. No one wants to be dealt a bad hand and then be told ‘it was a good lesson’. But in the end, this reflection isn’t a bad thing.

On this same hike today with our failed selfie, Garrett and I had a great conversation on life lessons as they relate to our children. Living in a bubble with the goal of avoiding adversity is a bad thing. Dealing with the adversity ultimately builds character and helps our kids live life to its fullest and know how to better deal with similar adversity in the future.

Part of being human is being dealt a bad hand of cards. This will likely happen countless times in our lifetime. It is inevitable. Unfortunately, adversity seemingly hits more on some than to others. But knowing how to best deal with it and move forward, positively and as a better person, is the key.

The unfortunate phone drop today turned the table on me. Instead of me being the lecturer to my kids, I was the one looking in the mirror. I also had to own that this life lesson extended beyond a dropped phone. I have been spending months beating myself up over mistakes in judgement. Wrong people, wrong choices, misguided trust. All part of life.

And then my forever hero, Mother Teresa, smiled at me yet again. A very impactful quote came across my news feed in a very timely fashion. Reiteration to what had been filling my mind through the course of the day.

“Some people come in your life as blessings. Some come in your life as lessons.” ~ Mother Teresa

This time, I am dealing with my own life lessons. It is good for all of us to reflect on the blessings and lessons in our life, regardless of our age.

My values haven’t changed. My belief in what is good in the world and the means to correcting the wrong hasn’t changed either. But rather than beating myself up on past decisions, I need to use them as lessons. Lessons to guide my future decision-making and alignments.

Quite frankly, some life lessons are actually very apparent after-the-fact.

Case in point: Two fifty-year-old's should not attempt a selfie on a foothill with gloved hands in 30-degree weather. There is a high probability of a fail.

I get it. And yes, Ben, I will ‘live & learn’. As I stare at pictures on my shattered phone, I am also reminded of advice from my very insightful mother.

My mom always said 'you can't ruin art'. My kids took art lessons over the years and when little Ben would get frustrated with what he felt was a mess-up, his grandma would guide him through a little added stroke or block of color to complete his artwork. Grandma never alluded that any unplanned adds were part of a cover up, but instead, a work in process.

Just like the wrinkles on my face that have been earned over the years or the bum knee that was part of a bad twist of fate, each lesson and decision defines my future journey. The portrait.

Sometimes what appears to be brokenness or a mis-stroke can really be one stroke away from a great piece of art.

Thanks, Ben and Mom. Your advice is well taken.

Many, many blessings have been had. But there are just as many lessons to be learned for all ages. Art and life really are a work in progress.

Watching a Broncos win today.
Work-in-progress tomorrow.

Friday, January 1, 2016

January 1, 2016: A Change of Words

Boys playing a charade game in the back seat in route to Vegas
I went to bed last night planning on writing a blog about my three sons. The story in my mind centered around my observations of their spending time together again. Brotherly bonding for them. Heart warming for me.

And then I awoke to terrible news. Our friends' son died tragically last night. My parenting perspective quickly changed from one of warm fuzzies to a feeling of complete disbelief and heartache.

Life can be so cruel. God has a plan and although that plan inevitably includes death, it is so difficult to grasp the death of the someone so young and so full of good.


Life changing overnight is a wake up call to embrace the fullness of life. We do this by centering ourselves around the people in our lives who really matter, while walking away from the noise that holds us back. So often we get caught up in our daily routines without perspective in our focus. We need to be more like the young man who tragically died, living each day in a Godly way.

Although my three sons were together in Fort Collins, I called each of them individually this morning. I told them I loved them. And then I told them about our friends' son. They understood the call.

The fragility of life should never be taken for granted. Each cherished moment with the people we love is a blessing.

My advice for the day....

Hug your kids and call your parents. Reach out to the brother you haven't talked to in months. Send a note to an old friend. Tell them you love them and give them the gift of your time. Every day and every moment matters.