Wednesday, July 30, 2008
In a lot of these oldie songs, there are lots of boys swooning over girls who apparently have lots of boys after them. "He don't love you like I love you" and the like. Who are these girls and how is it they get to have 2 boys loving them? I'm sure these are the same girls who have boys in fisticuffs over them in the school yard. Girls with names like Peggy Sue, Babs, and Joline. I am not, nor have I ever been, one of these girls.
I was always the buddy. Best friends with the homecoming queen, but still scrambling for a date for the dance. Many a late night phone call to a boy I had a crush on were spent devising plans with them to get K. or M. to like them. I often thought of telling them to date me as a plan of jealousy, but, being a good friend, I put in the good word. My favorite was when my mom would say, "Why don't you date A.? He's so cute and is always so polite?" Well, Mom, besides the fact that he is madly in love with M., he has yet to ever ask me out. Why don't you talk to him?
In college, I thought I was dating a guy named Chris. He was my next door neighbor and we did all the things couples did--hang out, make out, drive each other to class, etc. And then one day we were having lunch at El Rodeo (he paid), and he asked me if my roommate C. thought he was hot. "Umm, I don't know. We don't really talk about you that much." (Which was a lie. We talked about him and his various muscular body parts for hours on end.) He then went on to explain how he wanted to ask her on a date and if I could find out if she was interested. I was so taken aback by this that I wasn't even mad. Turned out that they did end up dating for about a year (you're welcome, Chris) and he went totally psycho on her. PSYCHO. (Sorry, C.)
And then there is Sloan. My sweet, wonderful Sloan. We met and fell in love in three days in Montreat at ARW. On our first date, which was very reminiscent of a Wonder Years episode (I spent the entire evening with my stomach in my throat and constantly feeling like I was about the pee in my pants), I explained the buddy problem. He didn't believe me. I said, "No really, I'm your go to girl if you want to be with the hot chick. I'm the ultimate wing man." And he simply said, "I'd look for you first." And the next morning at breakfast, sure enough, he did.
"I'd look for you first." I can't even begin to describe what it has felt like to be on the receiving in of the smile and nod that comes with being looked for first. It is the stuff that Super Gold Oldies are made of. Sometimes I am still amazed that the boy I like actually likes me back at the same time. I know. I know. It's kind of stupid and childish.
But you see, somewhere in Aberdeen (he's on a business trip), there's this boy I like. He's tall, has dimples, and a breathtaking heiny. And he's mine. And I'm his. And he looks for me first.
Monday, July 28, 2008
So here is what he can say--
Mama. But it usually is more like MaMaMa.
Dada. This is usually accompanied by a giant grin and giggles. Oh how the Pickle loves his Daddy.
No. Unfortunately, this is his favorite word and usually has something to do with finishing his yogurt, getting his diaper changed, or putting away toys. It is never said just once, but more of a mantra---Nononononoonono as he shakes his head.
Dog. He says this whenever Lolly is around. Sounds like "DAW!" And I will have to say that it is very hard to get your dog not to attack your son while he is in his high chair when he delights in feeding her crackers. He thinks it is a real gas and nothing makes him laugh so hard as to have her eat a ritz cracker from his chubby little hand.
Down. Not to be confused with Dog. Sounds like "DOW!" and usually has accompaning gesture.
Friday, July 25, 2008
But it is not just the gym I love. It is my gym. It is basically a cross between a YMCA, a country club, and Wet N' Wild. I love that they know my name and Henry's name and that there is even a 3 year little boy named William that gets excited whenever I drop Henry off at the nursery. They play trucks and cars together. Oh, and did I mention that I love that I get 2 1/2 hours of free childcare a day. But with the advent of the nursery, Henry has been getting sick a lot more lately. I feel we are well on our way to getting tubes. I have very mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I want to never go back there and shelter my son so he never gets another ear infection and he doesn't have to get tubes put in his ears. I call this the "good mommy" approach. On the other hand, what good is having a tubeless little boy with an unhealthy mommy? Going to the gym makes me healthy, boosts my self-confidence, and I'm pretty sure is putting me on the path to sanity. I call this the "selfish mommy" approach.
You could argue that I can work out at home and not put H in the nursery. You're right. I can. But it is just not the same.
Working out at the gym is controlled. Monday, Wednesday, Friday it is weights and cardio. Tuesday and Thursday just cardio. I put on my Ipod and do 3 reps of 12 on the health quest circuit and various other machines that promise to give me rockin' abs, no touching thighs, and arms that would make Angelina Jolie jealous. And if I time it right, there's a Zumba class after that. If not, then it is to the elliptical.
Oh the elliptical, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. For starters, I can ride you Lionel Richie style (All night long) and my feet will still feel glorious. My thighs and butt may be on fire, but my feet love the way you sway and stride without them ever leaving the ground. You have a television. I can watch reruns of Project Runway, the Today Show, or, if I'm really lucky, Neil Patrick Harris guest hosting on Live! with Regis and Kelly. You let me see where I am going. I can watch the little blipping lights that tell me when the resistance will increase or decrease. I can crank it up a notch if I'm really wanting to feel the burn, or turn you down with the simple press of a button if it starts getting a little to real. You give me so many workout choices--manual, cross country, hill climbers 1, 2, and 3 (!), interval, weight loss interval, and you'll even give me a fitness test should I want one. You let me see how long I've been working out and at the press of a button you'll tell me how much longer I have to go. You even let me know just how cardioriffic I am by taking my pulse and telling me how many calories I am burning. You help me to burn 400 calories in 30 minutes. You even hold my water bottle for me.
And all this happens in air conditioning.
Working out at home does not work like this. I've been putting Henry in the stroller and walking around the neighborhood only to find out that I am a bit unbalanced. And not in a "Oh, girl, You so crazy!" sort of way. But an uncomfortable silence and give me the name of your therapist sort of way. For starters, the other day I almost died. I decided instead of just going around the block over and over, I'd do a loop that was about, I was guessing, two to two and half miles. Mmm, yeah, not so much. After walking about an hour where my feet are killing me and the hills just keep coming with no warning at all and even when it looks flat the road isn't level I realized that I wasn't even close to where I thought the road was looping back around. See, this is the problem with walking. Once you realize you've gone too far--you've still got to turn around and get home. So I just turned around and came back. No loop. I kept hoping someone I knew would drive by and I could chuck the stroller in the back and just Britney Spears my baby in my lap what I assumed were the 47 miles back to my house. But alas, no one came by. And sweat was dripping into my eyes after mixing with sunscreen and it was 95 degrees by this time. (I'd planned to be home before it got really hot in the middle of the day, but instead, I'd taken myself and my baby into the bowels of the Stonehenge neighborhood). By the time I saw my house in the distance, I grew weary trying to figure out who was at my house in my parking spot only to have it slowly dawn on me that it was my car.
This morning was much better on the loop, but still not as good as my elliptical machine. I looked up on mapquest the loop. In total, the loop is 3 and a half miles. Completely doable with that knowledge. Horrific when I looked up the address for the house where I turned. Yep, I was.....wait for it..... 3/4 of a mile from my house when I turn around. So instead of being home quickly having walked 3 1/2 miles--I walked a total of 5 1/2 miles to my near death. This knowledge is both aggravating and hilarious. I decided to do the loop backwards, so the landmarks would be more familiar. Yeah, I got to the turnaround house in about ten minutes and felt like a giant boob.
But the not knowing where I am going isn't the only reason why the elliptical trumps walking in the neighborhood. Let's talk about heat and humidity people. ACAC is air conditioned. Midlothian is not. I've got sweat pooling in between my boobs and dripping down my back into my nether regions. And it's dripping down my face. Stinging. This morning, I rocked a twisted bandanna to keep the sweat out of my eyes. Let Olivia Newton John know I'll return her look when I'm done getting physical. I looked awesome. That's not crazy--that's a fact.
But you see, I like to sing. And dance. I put on my Ipod and I rock out. ROCK OUT, people. I don't have this problem at the gym, because there are people all around me to remind me how to behave. Walking in the neighborhood it's just me and Henry (who thinks I am the best singer and dancer in the whole wide world) and the occasional car or dog walker. And those occasional passersby get their money's worth. Chicago comes on and I can't help but belt out about Saturday in the park (I think it was the 4th of July). And did you know that I know pretty much all the words to the entire soundtrack of Rent? My neighborhood does. But as if the singing weren't bad enough, I dance too. And we're not talking just the white boy head bob. Jamiraquai came on and there were some moves stolen from a one Mr. Napoleon Dynamite. At one point, I had to let go of the stroller to twirl. I twirled. I reached up in the air as if to catch a star. I pointed my toes. On Smoketree Drive.
Oh, Lord, pray for my son's health. I desperately need to get back to the gym.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
At what point do we get old enough to stop straightening up when our family comes in town? A nice perk to being in the hospital on bed rest was that I couldn't be held responsible for the cleanliness of my surroundings and oh yeah, there was a very expensive maid that came 3 times a week to clean and mop.
I have a handful of friends that I don't have to clean for. But not very many. For most people, I want to straighten up so that I at least appear to have it together. I clear off the cluttered mantle. I put the salt and pepper shakers back in the kitchen so as not to let on most nights we eat dinner in the family room. (You mean your mantle isn't where you keep your condiments?) I put all the trash cans without lids back on the floor and pray Henry doesn't go through them before the guests arrive. I shove all the toys in their appropriate bin and finally get around to sorting that giant stack of mail, tossing half full cans of Diet Dr. Pepper in the recycling, and use the swiffer duster for something other than Henry's diaper changing entertainment.
But I wonder, how much sanitizing is cleaning up and how much is covering up?
Do I really think that if my house is straight you will like me more? Or that if there are dust bunnies on my baseboards you'll know for sure that I'm really not ready to be an adult, much less a mom? Aren't my guests coming to see me? Or have I, without knowing it, put my house on the Home and Gardens tour?
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
H: Daaaa Daaa.
EJ: I'm Mommy.
H: Daaaaa Daaaa.
EJ: (Pointing to myself) Maaaa Maaa.
H: (shaking his head) No no no no no. (points to the door) Daaaaa Daaaa. Daaaa Daaaa!
EJ: (crestfallen) Oh, he's on his way back from New Jersey. He'll be here when you wake up.
And then he plopped down onto his knees and buried his face in his big stuffed bunny.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
But Henry clapped for me after I sang him "Big Rock Candy Mountain" as I was putting him to sleep. And as I began to sing "Amazing Grace," he rested his head on my shoulder, snuggled up closer, and played with my hair. By the third verse, the one that pretty much sums up my life, he was singing along with me. (No, he doesn't know the words--just sorting of mouthing the rhythm.)
Monday, July 7, 2008
Henry loves the sprinkler ball Gigi picked up at Target. His cousins are horrified that he is wearing pink swim diapers. They were left over at Gigi's house from his cousin Isabel's visit and Mommy was too lazy to go upstairs for his.
Lolly wants in on the action.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
My sister Sonya just moved into an awesome house and despite the fact that there are still unpacked boxes in mine (like say, a huge dish pack box that is full of candles--who the heck needs that many candles?), I am already wishing our new house were a bit more like hers.
This is problematic on many levels. For starters, my sister is 12 years older than me, thereby giving her and my brother-in-law 12 more years of houses on me. 12 years ago they were in a 'fixer upper' in South Carolina so maybe that's 2 points for me. Also, my sister has 7 kids. 7. That was not a typo. So her needs for a house are vastly different than mine. I do not want 7 kids. On a regular basis I dream of killing our puppy and well, I practically worship Henry so I'm not even sure if I have enough love in me for 7 kids. Oh and it takes a team of doctors to get me pregnant, and then another team to keep me pregnant. (Lest we forget the start of this blog--on bedrest with my feet in the air, crapping in a bucket!) And as I type this the aroma of poo is wafting through the living room and I've decided that I'm too lazy to change the poo, so having 7 poopers around would be a real sanitation issue.
This is also horribly unfair to my uber-wonderful husband, Sloan. On the one hand, I love the fact that we have made the financial decision to let me stay home with Henry. And I readily accept the sacrifices that we'll have to make having made this decision. On the other hand, I really love my sister's handmade Mexican tile. (It is sooo authentic that you can even see where a dog stepped in the wet terracotta while it was drying.)
I am also convicted of the fact that I told Sonya that if her walk-in closet with built in hand made mahogany dressers were a man, I'd leave Sloan for it and marry it. Yep, I said I'd marry a closet. It's both funny and horrifying at the same time.
Envy rots my soul. It sends my mind into a frenzy of how can I get that? How can I be that? It builds giant gold cows and then sets them just out of my reach, when I earnestly believe if that shiny cow were just sitting on my mantel my life would be easy, my house clean, my husband constantly showering me with roses and diamonds and trips to Europe, and I’d have beautiful children who would always say Yes m’am and never disappoint me. And I’d be skinny. But the truth is, were I to work hard enough to buy that golden heifer and sit it on my mantle (which, by the way, there is no room on the mantle because with Henry walking and Lolly eating anything within reach, we now have to use it as a danged coffee table), it would need dusting and at some point it’d fall and break. Because that’s what things do. Things break.
Broken things hurt.
For me, even marriage is sometimes a state of constant discontent. Sure, the movies have these romantic stories of poor young marrieds living on nothing but love and Chinese take-out, when in reality—there is nothing romantic about constantly wishing we could go out to dinner, just the two of us, for once. And we’re not even poor. We’re not in debt. We don’t have bill collectors hounding us. We don’t even have student loans to pay back or car payments (thanks Mom and Dad.) I’m not frivolous—I recognize we don’t need a maid, (oh, but how I LONG for one!), newer cars, or name brand butter. But I am warped. I do need a new Ipod because the one I have is the size of a soda and they now are much smaller and have fancy little arm bands I could wear at the gym and look cool in. We do need new kitchen counter tops and a sink, because I cannot stand a stainless steel sink. Stainless, my heiny. We do need new curtains because the one the previous owner left behind don't match the color scheme I want to do. Which brings me to the fact that we do need to hire a painter to paint everything. And we do need a new 500 thread count duvet cover because I don’t like the pottery barn quilt I just had to have a couple of years ago anymore. I'm pretty certain that a new comforter and curtains and a beautiful bedroom painted "Mountain Mist" will bring me real joy. And that’s the rub. Even if I got all of these things, which would be fabulous, at some point they’ll need washing or dusting or I’ll spill coffee on them, lose the receipt and be unable to redeem the warranty I paid an extra two hundred to get in the event that such spilling occurs. Because what I’m really longing for is not things—it’s God. But I’m pretty sure God can’t be purchased at Nordstrom.
Not getting what you want hurts.
A lot of people think it is immature to get upset when you don’t get your way. And to some degree, I suppose it is childish to stomp your foot and cry when you said you wanted an omelet for breakfast and then you go take a shower only to find your husband sitting on the couch watching TV. Didn’t he hear me (I mean you) say I (I mean you) wanted an omelet? But if we are honest, does it bring joy to anyone to not get their own way? Maybe really pious people will say, “In all things, we are to rejoice. So I delight in my disappointment.” I think these people are lying. I think I can rejoice in the end product of suffering, in looking more like Jesus and gaining humility and all, but the suffering to get it really sucks and I just think if more people were honest about suffering it wouldn’t hurt as much.
Jesus tells us in Scripture that the work of the Father is to believe. To believe. And as selfish as I am, I find it much easier to give to the poor or even pray for my enemies dutifully than it is to believe that God is good, He is for me, and that even my broken warped heart is in the process of being redeemed for His glory. To believe that it is God that will bring me joy and fulfillment, not a new Ipod, Mountain Mist walls, or even that valuepack of 100% cotton panties I just saw at Costco, IS WORK.
So what does this birth of belief and death of envy even look like? So far it comes back to me having to preach the Gospel to myself everyday. Of remaining in touch with men and women who love me and who also know the truth so they can remind me of it. I was crying to my dear friend Joanne about this. About wanting more and feeling guilty for not bringing in more money. For pursuing Mommydom, volunteering at the Church, and writing rather than a stable paycheck. She reminded me that I’d applied for more jobs and that if God intended me to work 40 hours a week behind a desk, he’d have given me a desk. She also reminded me that Sloan and I are one flesh and that we each bring into our marriage different gifts. That God knew this when He designed us to be together. So I shouldn’t feel guilty about what my gifts aren’t, but praise Him that I know what they are. She also wisely told me that if Sloan had wanted a wife with a corporate career who brought in big bucks, he wouldn’t have married a girl in Seminary with the lifelong dream of being a stay at home mom and a writer. But even still, I sometimes don’t let Sloan wash the dishes at night, not out of humility or a desire to serve him, but out of guilt for not being the breadwinner. (Sloan would like to say that this doesn't happen all that often, so sometimes my laziness overtakes my guilt. Which sort of makes me feel guilty...)
Essentially I feel guilty for being who God called to me to be. Lord, forgive me. Forgive me for being enslaved by false notions of who I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be. Forgive me for being more concerned about what my big brother believes about me than what your Word promises you believe about me.
When I taught PreK there was a crew of three boys who tried to kill me. Both literally and figuratively. Literally, one of them threw scissors at me, another tried to strangle me, another one hit me in the face with a Candyland box. Luckily I had two girls, Ainslie and Sierra, in the class who were quiet, only speaking up to tell me I was beautiful or had princess hair. Sometimes these boys did things like lock themselves in the bathroom and unroll an entire roll of toilet paper to mummify themselves, or try to flush a plastic gorilla down the toilet, or cut their hair, or tell me I was stupid and ugly and their parents thought so too. It didn’t help much that they were some of the smartest and cutest boys in the class. They had the most personality, could make me laugh so hard I’d want to pee in my pants; I adored them. They were the kids I would’ve befriended and gotten in trouble with at their age and I’m certain that were I in their class I would’ve been practicing to write Mrs. Jacob McCown before knowing how to spell Elizabeth Johnson. These boys made me feel like a horrible teacher, incapable of controlling a classroom. They wore on my patience, confidence, and ability to think straight. I was constantly speaking with their parents who oddly enough, had never witnessed any of these behaviors at home. (Big shock seeing as none of them had twenty three other five year olds at their house cheering them on.) I was always trying to engage them in challenging things, shower them with praise when they did the right things—all the things a good teacher is supposed to do. At home, I’d pray for wisdom to know how to love them and patience to put up with the trials they set before me. I was constantly repenting of wanting to scream at them or just leave them locked in the bathroom. But towards the end of the year, I could see a real maturity in one of the boys. Sure, I still had to ban him from scissors for cutting his hair (but thankfully he cut his own hair, not someone else’s). I sent a note home to his folks to let him know how proud I was of him. Sometimes I could see the other two boys planning some sort of riot and there was Peyton, looking at them and then looking at me. I’d tell them all to make wise choices and more often than not, Peyton would choose to listen rather than to be disruptive. I was amazed at this five year old’s ability to do the right thing even though his friends were plotting my demise. One day he cuddled up to me as I mixed cornstarch and borax to make goo. “Miss Elizabeth, I’m trying really hard to be good.” “I know,” I said and winked, “I’m proud of you, Peyton.” He looked down at the gloppy mixture and began poking at it absentmindedly. “At night,” he said, “I pray God will make me like Sierra. She never gets in trouble.”
My heart broke. All of my encouraging him to do the right thing had caused him to believe that I didn’t love him for who he was. That I wanted him to be different rather than just behave differently. That as much as he and his friends drove me absolutely batty, they are the ones I still smile about years later. "There's a gorilla in the toilet" is a common phrase in the Phillips household for when things go awry. (It is said a lot!) I never wanted another Sierra in my classroom, I just wanted Peyton minus the block throwing.
And God didn’t make me to be like the Joneses—so why should I worry about keeping up with them? I’m not going to get to heaven and hear Jesus say, “You really should’ve been more like your preacher’s wife. You really should’ve been more like your sister.” If anything, he’ll say to me, “I wish you’d understood how much I love you. How I delighted in making you unique, and giving you gifts that I gave to no one else. I wish you hadn’t been afraid to be more like Elizabeth. She’s beautiful.”
But God would probably also admonish me for not changing my son's diaper. The stench has become unbearable. But that's life. You pray and pray for a baby and then it craps in its pants.