Month: December 2014

Memories and Dreams

One of our holiday traditions is to put the Christmas tree up as a family. We do it much like an assembly line, then I put on the lights, and then Mike and I pass the ornaments out to the kids who put them on the tree. Each child has accumulated an impressive collection of their own ornaments over the years, and a lot of Christmas ornamentsthem are homemade – which are by far my favorite. We have glittery frames containing their pictures. We have crafty ones they have personally made at church and school. And, for some reason, Drake has many “crafts” that he made out of origami, in shop class, or in sewing class that he decided to put a hook through and turn into a festive decoration. Probably because they weren’t much good for anything else. They always make us laugh.

The homemade ones are my favorite because they transport me to a time when the kids didn’t drive themselves around and tell me when they would be home. It was a time when their touch on my skin left a sticky mystery goo. When they would stay in their pajamas all day long if I didn’t change them. When they fell asleep in my lap. It was a time when I could solve their problems.

So I love to look at those ornaments and remember when Drake used to wear his hoodie over his head but tucked behind his ears, causing them to stick straight out. Or when Emery had chubby cheeks. Or when Makenna was in preschool and Josiah didn’t have any front teeth. I feel stuffed with the memories. It’s like Carson said on Downton Abbey, “The business of life is the acquisition of memories. In the end, that’s all there is.”

And as much as I love to be transported to that memory-rich time, I have to remind myself every year to get caught up in this moment – step into now and get carried away in it. Because right now will be a memory soon. And as wise old Carson further said, “There’s a time coming when memories will outweigh dreams.” So far, my dreams have been fickle – always changing or disappointing. But memories: that’s something worth making.

Welcome Home

My dog sleeps in the three-seasons porch. He loves it there because, being made for life in the tundra, he escapes that pesky heat we pump into the rest of the house. I take him outside early every morning and then invite him into the house, but he ends up back in the chilly porch, napping the day away.

At 3:00, he perks up. He stretches, yawns, and walks around a bit. Sometimes he eats. Then he begins to pace. He nearly wears his paw pads thin circling the perimeter of the porch, stopping at the south window to check on the driveway.

At 3:45 nothing can keep him in the porch any longer. He relocates to the mudroom and gives the door to the garage a stare-down. He sits there, on point, anywhere between 5 minutes and 2 hours, depending on the after-school schedule. But sooner or later, the music brothers hug a dogbegins: scraping metal as the garage door rises, crunching grit as tires roll to a stop, slamming doors, jangling keys, and pounding shoes. His tail nearly dusts the finish off a rainbow-shaped portion of my wood floor as the footsteps pause and the doorknob twists.

And then all is right. For everyone.


Where Is My Hairbrush

“Mom, will you buy me a brush?” Drake asked.

“Don’t you have one?”

“Nope,” Drake said and walked out the door to leave for school. I quickly wrote brush on my list for the store, knowing in ten more seconds it would be forgotten in the haze of morning scurry.

“You know why he doesn’t have a brush, don’t you?” Josiah asked, pausing at the door behind Drake.brothers

“No, why?”

“He wanted to get the hair out of the bristles of his brush, so, instead of picking it out, he lit it on fire thinking the hair would burn in a flash, but his brush melted.”

Grabbing my list I added: smoke detector – value pack.

College Clarity

Josiah Sr. Picture
Josiah Hintz

“I don’t even know why we are visiting this college,” I told Mike as we pulled out of the driveway with Josiah. We were embarking upon the third college visit for the boy whose only qualifier was that the school not be in India. “It’s a nine-hour drive. That means he can only come home for major holidays. And, it’s in the middle of nowhere. How will that benefit a drummer? He won’t be able to find drumming gigs. This is a waste of our weekend.”

“So,” Mike asked as he grabbed my hand, “why are you crying?”

“I don’t know!” I sobbed facing the window so Josiah wouldn’t see.

After the sobs subsided, I looked at Mike and saw him – past and present. I saw the sleep-deprived father of four toddlers, and the finance-deprived father of four teenagers. How did we go from desperately needing a date night without the kids to canceling all plans and rushing home on the rare night that all the kids were home and available to be fed by us? When the kids were little, we needed time without them. Now we can’t get enough of them.

The tears on my face were right. No matter what logic made the college that was nine hours away seem an unlikely choice, it fit like a glove. I suspected it when I saw my son transform into a confident young man in front of my eyes. I suspected it when he nailed his music audition and chatted jovially with the judges who prayed with him after the interview was over. I suspected it when walking around the campus in freezing weather felt like a familiar stroll.

I knew it when Josiah leaned to me during the music lecture and said, “I know I’m probably getting caught up in the moment and we need to think this through logically, but I’d really love to come here.”

“I don’t think you’re getting caught up in the moment,” I whispered back. “This didn’t happen at the first two college visits. I think this is what we’ve been waiting for.”

And my heart simultaneously broke and rejoiced.

The next adventure is just a step away and is thrilling in its potential and its rightness. But, beginning that next adventure puts an end to the current one – the one I am still enjoying. The next step forever alters the path, and there is no going back.

Driving home, I was a tangled mess, an emotional grenade – erupting in laughter that ending in crying, obsessively needing to touch Josiah’s back or elbow or shirt, crying quiet tears that ended in the smile you get when you know the answer to a particularly tough question.

I grabbed Mike’s hand – the calloused hand that was always warmer than my own.  The hand that grabbed a few pizzas on the way home from work because the kid’s friends showed up. The hand that drove to pick up our child who was in trouble at school again. The hand that rubbed the constantly sore spot on my back. The hand that handed his last $20 to the kids as they walked out the door. The hand that changed our daughter’s tire when she called stranded on the side of the highway.

“How can we have so many mixed emotions?” I asked Mike.

“It’s the nature of parenthood,” Mike answered.

I’m not at all sure about this next adventure. I’m not sure I’ll like it, and I know I’m not ready for it. But I’m awfully glad for the hand I’ll be holding.