A Letter to My (Other) Mom

Dear Mama Burkett,

I thought of you today as I twisted up my hair.  You taught me this style–half bun tucked into a French twist.  I remember still watching you in the basement comb your long black hair, then explain how to flip that bun over. 

I thought of you on Sunday.  I opened my eyes during prayer when I heard Allie giggle.  Her friend was sitting in front of her, and they were making faces at one another.  I had a flashback to a meeting where you told me to close my eyes by sign language.  

And even as I write this, I think of those conventions as a child.  You and mom were the meanest moms on the grounds.  Thank you for that.  We never got to sit and read.  We never got to skip out on Spoons like some of our friends did.  And, once we were old enough, sleeping there meant we were expected to wake up and serve.

Thank you for your service.  As an adult I learned that the vegetable house at convention is no joke.

They call a pillar such a name because it is strong.  It’s origin means of the nature of stone.  The pillar is the support for a building, and often, when the rest of the building has crumbled away, the pillars remain.  We use it to describe people like you–unmoving, supportive, and ever steadfast.

I’m grateful for the hard choices you’ve made.  And the hard conversations I overheard.  I am grateful for the testimonies and prayers through the years– I can’t quote them, or even recall what one was at the moment.  But they were there.  Steadfast.  Steady.  Strong.  I am grateful for the friendship that you helped cultivate.  And the spiritual love that you helps to fertilize seeds long ago planted.

Love,
Your (other) daughter

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Hope of Rain

Until I lived in the desert, I never understood that hope of rain.  Just a little water falling from the sky freshens the air, the ground, and my attitude.

I have the same hope tomorrow–knowing that two of God’s servants will be in our meeting.  And for weeks from now–as we prepare for Torreon convention and the visitors that come with it!  Even September holds hope in the palm of her hand with the arrival of our larger convention in the next state over.

A spiritual shower may not make my tomatoes grow, but it sure does help love to grow:  Love for my meeting, my family, my place, and love for a world struggling to find a foothold in the midst of chaos.

Rain down on me.

Pure Joy

There may be no greater delight than…

  • Watching my girls giggle together
  • Seeing them cuddled next to one another with arms slung above their heads fast asleep
  • Hearing the old one talk to the new one 
  • Hearing the new one coo at the first one
  • Dreaming of the fun they’ll some day have–telling secrets, sharing sorrow, growing in love

  Ahhh…how sweet it is!
  

Mommy Sandwich Every Night

  
This week my kid had her first ham sandwich.  I don’t typically buy sandwich meat from the deli counter, and if I ever do–it is turkey.  But my first day back to work called for a sandwich, and after a bite, Ale was a ham lover.  She seems to sense when a sandwich has been made, and after a bite or two, she slides over to snatch it from my hands.

Today she asked for a sandwich, and I told her we were out.  She said, with more than a little exasperation in her voice and eyes slightly buggy, “Do we have peanut butter?  Do we have jelly?  Put it together, and that’s a sandwich!

Now it is the finish of a long day, and I am lying in bed with my sweeties on both sides.  I can’t help thinking that this is the only sandwich I want: a mommy sandwich.  I can hear both of them breathing, and every once in a while, a little snore.  Ale is cuddled in her “big girl bed,” which is flush against our bed.  She has her Barbie (with wet hair after her bath) and her baby lying beside her.  (Baby had to come to bed with us tonight, because she wanted chichi.)

My chichi monster is on the other side of me.  She’s propped up on my boppy with her arms thrown up in the air.  Her binky is lodged between her ear and the pillow, where it fell when her suckling stopped.  She’s already kicked her blanket down below her feet, but soon she will be recovered to ensure her warmth in our air conditioned bedroom.  Her breathing is a bit erratic and is interrupted by little grunts.

Some people don’t like sleeping with others.  They say they sleep better alone.  Babies sleep in cribs with monitors allowing the parents mothers to listen from afar.  It is true that I will wake up half a dozen times tonight.  Josie will nurse at least twice.  But sleeping with Mama means that her stretches of sleep are around five hours.  Ale might have a nightmare; that has been happening lately.  Mami can soothe her right away with a little pat or a song.  Victor will come to bed in another hour or so, and that will wake me up too.  Someone may need a diaper change or a drink of water.  We can’t all sleep like a baby husband, so I will be awake at the slightest change in breathing.

I don’t mind.

Being the middle part of a mama sandwich is the best job around.  In fact, you might say that despite the love we have been showing sandwiches these days, a mama sandwich is still the most popular sandwich on the menu.

Mamaw on My Mind

I think of my Mamaw a dozen times a day.  It isn’t that I think of her more now than before, but now I have the second reminder that she is gone.  Now I feel a brief whisper of sadness knowing I won’t see her this summer when I go home.  

I just walked into the bedroom, and felt the air blowing on the floor.  I remember hot summer nights, when I would go sleep on the floor in front of the fan or air conditioner.  Mamaw believed in the power of sleep.  She didn’t believe in freezing interiors to combat sticky Tennessee nights, but she tolerated my need for air.

Today I made myself a glass of iced tea–and thought about making some green tea for a cold drink.  I don’t remember when it was, but at some point (I think around high school) Mamaw started making green tea as an iced tea.  She was on to something.  It is delicious cold.  Mamaw always had a cold drink in the fridge, but more than anything, she loved water.

Mama went to visit sweet friends today, and Maci went along with her.  That made me remember all the times I begrudgingly visited the old folks when I was young.  Now I treasure those visits.  We would eat a bite, and Mamaw would wash and wrap up their hair.  I remember the first time I saw a fake bun that a lady made from her hair as it fell out.  

She was brilliant, loving, and beyond what words could say.  What an amazing woman.  I am happy for these memories of her.  I just wish my babies could have known her (and there it is! Another memory of how she used to say that she wished her mama could have known us…)

Sweet is the Rest



I’m lying here in bed tonight thinking of a sweet friend who died today.  She was diagnosed with terminal cancer nearly four years ago–and has lived years beyond what the doctors told her was possible.  So today she is gone from earth, but still very much alive in the hearts of all who knew her.

I’ve been recalling memories of our friend and her family:  memories of them sitting in meeting week after week.  Memories of their “place” at convention–next to the microphone and speaker soundboard.  Memories of her energy, constant smile, and sweet, sweet voice.

Her life was lived out faithfully, with nothing but words of true faith even until the end: living day by day, giving thanks to God instead of questioning why, and daily encouraging her Facebook “followers” with her spirit.  



While her life was a blessing to those of us privileged to witness her walk, my thoughts cannot stray for long from her daughter, her husband, her sister, her mother… I can’t understand what they are going through right now, but I bet that, like me, they are lying in bed reliving memories of a true virtuous woman.  



Our Hound Dog



This little guy was the sweetest pup you’ve ever met.  He was so excited to see Ale, and she was so excited to see him!  She would wake up and ask about him.  When he would jump on her or try to eat her babies, she scolded him.  He became sick two days ago, but then he seem to be better yesterday.  Today he died.

I loved our little Rocky.  He loved us too, and I am sad that we can’t see our “babies” grow up together.  

He ain’t nothing but a hound dog–but I’m the one crying…

Love in the Sink–Year Three

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Today is our anniversary–three wonderful years! We were talking about going out last week, and I mentioned getting a babysitter for Allie. “Or,” Victor replied, “We can just take her with us.”

What was unexpected was that we would wake up today forgetting it was the anniversary, rush out the door to catch the bus to school, then receive a call from daycare that the punkin’ is sick…again… (Daycare will be the death of us…) The family anniversary date is on hold for the time being.

In any case, I love my sweet husband with that big ol’ heart! These three years have been so full of love for us–sloshing over the side like Ale’s bath water! He never ceases to amaze me with his high moral standards, kindness and compassion for others, and his love for his family. Here’s to another three years!

My cup runneth over…

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A Letter to My Almost-Two-Year-Old

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Hi My Baby,

Today it hit me like a ton of bricks.  You, my sweet angel, are almost two!  How did this happen?!  How did you grow so fast?!  Where have the last two years gone?

I remember two years ago: I was awaiting your arrival with great anticipation.  I must have washed your cloth diapers a dozen times–washing, hanging them to dry, folding them…  I spent my evenings making a blanket for you, and dreaming of the day I could hold you in my arms.  I watched video after video of other births, and prepared for my own by buying everything my doctor would need.  I began to envision the painless perfect moment you would be in my arms…

Now I watch you play with your puppy, both of you a tangle of limbs and bodies.  He pesters you by nipping at your ankles and following you around.  You boss him around, telling him, “No!” when he tries to take your toys or jump on you.  He’s a good fur brother for you to practice on before your space gets invaded by a real brother.  He’s also your first thought in the morning!  You come pitter-patting into the kitchen smiling long before your daddy.  Without waiting for mama to make her coffee, you walk to the door.  “Dog?” you ask, pulling on the knob.

You are a busy little girl!  You are currently “cleaning” with a sponge, but it won’t be long before you are on to something else.  I watch you play mommy with your babies, then set them aside to build towers of blocks.  I couldn’t be more proud of you, my love!  Your twinkling eyes flash mischeviously my way, right before your tower crashes to the floor spilling legos all over.  “Uh oh!” you cry out with glee.  It isn’t long before you begin singing the clean-up song, picking your blocks up to put in your grocery cart.

I know that one day this won’t be amusing, but I am proud of you for knowing what you want…or don’t want.  Your wagging finger and firm, “No,” in response to my question regarding bedtime makes me grin inside.  “Ale,” I ask, “Do you want to put on your pajamas?”  “No!” you say.  “Do you want to go play in the water?” I try out my fun version of asking you to take a bath.  “No!” I hear again.  Most of my questions are met with no–with the exception of one or two .  “Ale, do you want a cookie?”  “Si,” you say, smiling and reaching for a Maria.

“Pup,” you say to me, reaching your arms up to be held.  I snuggle you for as long as you let me, but you have so much to do!  Wiggling down, you run to your markers to write.  A few minutes later you tell me, “Bye,” as you blow me kisses and walk away.  You, my independent little girl, are so full of life!

Little Allie, your mama and daddy dreamed about your arrival two years ago–but those dreams just keep growing and changing with you.  I hope you always take time to play and enjoy those around you.  I hope you continue to keep busy with the things that interest you.  I hope you always feel powerful enough to stand up for yourself and say, “No.”  And I hope that you re never too big to want to climb up next to me for love and snuggles.

My almost-two-year-old, you are my all.

Lots of love,
Your Mami

Sleep is for the Week(end)

When I was younger, I could sleep forever.  No, seriously.  Actually, Victor and I were just talking about how my sleep is very important, so I don’t know if that has changed.  Since the baby has come along, there have definitely been nights where I’ve had to say, “Victor, I am sorry, but you have to take care of her tonight–I’ve got to get to sleep!”  Or even in those early days, I would get up and pump, then he would get up and feed Ale later when she cried.  (A friend just told me the other day that I had a diamond…so true!)

When Ale was young, she slept a lot! I didn’t complain like other new mommies about sleep deprivation all the time (Seriously, people, that can mostly be avoided if your baby sleeps near or with you…)  Now she’s learned that she can fight the sleep–unless we time it just right.  (Most of the time, she just cuddles up next to me and breastfeeds–which makes Bedtime Mommy a lot friendlier.)  In the evening, she will hang out with us, playing and reading, then when she’s tired–she doesn’t fuss–she just attacks me.

When I came to Mexico, I thought I had learned to put work in its proper place.  It didn’t follow me home.  It didn’t sneak into my dreams.  And my weekends were work-free.  Then I got offered a promotion for next year.  I will be the literacy coach for the teachers at our school–and I am oh-so-very-excited.  I am also determined to prove myself.  Here is where the trouble lies.

The monstruo that is inside the heart of every working mom has reared his ugly head.  I have started feeling guilty and resentful for the time I spend at work.  I know it is good time for Ale and Papi, but doesn’t a girl need her mama?  My work can’t help but follow me home.  And when I get home, I really don’t mind cooking.  It actually makes me feel like a better wife and mama–because I know my family is eating healthier than if we go out to eat.  Ale crawls around my feet, and I avoid stepping on her by letting her play in the cabinets.  Then we leave the dirty dishes (most of the time), and we play.  But we play with the conscious effort on my part to put the overflowing in-box of work that is always in my head to the side for later.

This brings us to the present–where I sit typing this blog while drinking coffee at 5:30 in the morning.  This is when I do my work.  It is when Ale and Victor sleep.  This time is productive (usually)–and waking up at 4:00 isn’t nearly as outrageous as it once would have been.  Waking up at four is just what I do to keep Work Mommy and At-Home Mommy from becoming Guilty Mommy.

Sleep?  As my mamaw used to say, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”