The “Perfect” Christmas

Christmas treeper·fect – adjective -ˈpərfikt/
1. having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.

My morning routine includes watching the news headlines before I head out the door. This morning, Christmas Eve, was no different. I want the headlines – not the fluff – and have done my best to tune out the idle banter when the anchors drone on and chit-chat. However, when I heard this phrase again today, I reached my proverbial breaking point.

How to have the “perfect” Christmas. Ugh!

No, I am not a Grinch or a Scrooge, but I am tired and weary of the media and advertisers dangling a dream that can’t be achieved in front of our faces. There is no perfect Christmas, because there are no perfect people.

It really is just that simple.

People, women in particular, spend time, energy and money chasing that perfect scene. The perfect gift, the perfect baked goods, the perfect tree, the perfect decorations, the perfect outfit, the perfect hair. How much valuable time and money is wasted on achieving perfectionism? I mean really good, quality time, with laughter and memory making – are these lost among the strive for perfection?

When did everything have to be perfect? Not just holidays – but everything in general? What we do, where we live, what we say, what we believe. The truth is, we are flawed, and no matter how much we try, we cannot achieve perfection. That doesn’t mean we should be arrogant jerks, but instead of trying to be perfect, why aren’t we trying to be kind, compassionate and caring? Instead of worrying about appearances, maybe we should worry about how we act towards our fellow man.

Christmas has become a “make or break” holiday. When it doesn’t live up to our perfect expectation, it depresses us. We miss loved ones – gone due to deployments, distance, divorces and death. I understand that part of the holiday all too well. And, for me, I feel that pain whether it is Christmas or Independence Day. But we have become so fixated on the Hollywood version of Christmas, that we have lost the sense of the celebration. If our celebration doesn’t look like one we see on television, then we are doing it all wrong.

Earlier in the week, I kept thinking that it “didn’t feel like Christmas.” I kept wondering why? Am I jaded? Getting older and wiser? Feeling pressured to “feel like it’s Christmas?” I am pretty sure I wasn’t the only person feeling this way.

Christmas is when we observe Christ’s birth. Yes, we can debate the pagan roots of decorations, the actual time of His birth, but, since we do not know the particulars, for all intents and purposes, this is the day Christians world-wide celebrate our Savior’s entry into the world. It is our holy day.

There was nothing perfect about Jesus’ birthday – born in a stable, sleeping in hay. Humble, rustic and for germ-o-phobes, pretty dirty. But here, in the midst of an imperfect world, in an imperfect setting, to imperfect people, there was a moment of perfection – Jesus was born, and He would shoulder our imperfections.

He didn’t come into our world so we would stress about His birthday.

Maybe, as adults, we don’t feel that holiday spirit because we are so wrapped up in making things perfect. Children approach Christmas with sheer joy and anticipation. They aren’t seeking perfection. They are filled with wonder and awe.

My wish for you is to see Christmas as a child. Enjoy the wonder and awe of this Perfect Gift. May you find joy in giving forgiveness, in sharing of yourself and your talents, and in making your area of the world better and brighter for others.

Wishing you a joyful Christmas!

© Lynne Cobb – 2013

 

 

 

 

Straight from heaven – a message from Dad

fall sunrise

Given the current climate of our country, and our world, anxiety seems pretty high these days. I know I am not alone. For me, I can toss in mid-life adjustments, family circumstances and an insanely busy schedule to the big bowl of life, and mixing it all together, I can attest that I am feeling a bit on-edge and hyper; simply put – anxious.

Add another ingredient of life into the mixing bowl – my dad passed away a little over two years ago. I still miss him. He was my “go-to” guy when I felt anxious. He didn’t always try to fix things; most of the time he just listened.

The father-daughter bond we shared was very strong, and even though I can’t physically see or hear him, I think of him daily, and I believe he communicates in his own special way.

For instance, a few hours before my dad passed away, we experienced an early evening, mid-summer storm. Strong winds, thunder, lightening – the works. A vibrant and a most beautiful rainbow appeared shortly after the storm… and a rainbow occurred monthly at the same time – the 23rd day of each month – for several months after his death. Anyone who has lost someone so dear marks the monthly anniversary until it becomes a yearly observation. (Oh, this was amazing, too – a rainbow appeared on the first Father’s Day we celebrated without him.)

I will be going about my day, thinking of Dad, and then, one of his favorite songs will be on the radio, or one of his favorite hymns will be listed in the church bulletin. During times of incredible stress, I have seen Dad in my dreams. He says nothing, but has the most peaceful smile and always gives me a hug.

It is all too vivid and the timing is way too perfect to be called a coincidence.

When fall rolls around, I think of him constantly. Anyone who knew my dad also knew he had an immaculate yard, and during the fall, he declared a full-on attack of leaves. Yes, this is the man who would stop mid-conversation to go outside and grab a leaf off the front lawn. And yes, this is the same man who “slid” off the roof and broke his leaf blower because, yes, he was on the roof, ridding it of leaves, so that they wouldn’t land in the yard.

During Dad’s eulogy, our pastor shared these stories to all who came to celebrate his life. There was so much laughter. Seriously, who gets on the roof and, essentially, rakes it? One year, my siblings and our spouses wanted to bring bags of leaves and dump them all over the yard as a prank, so that when Dad grabbed his morning paper, he would be greeted with 3-4 inches of leaves covering every blade of grass. We didn’t, because, well, we knew that could have caused a major health event. We didn’t want to bear that burden the rest of our lives!

When we interred Dad’s ashes in a memorial garden at church, there was a hush of quiet as our immediate family gathered. It was a pretty fall day, and the earlier rain had subsided in the nick of time. Pastor was reading some Scripture, and said a prayer, and then there was a quiet murmur, which turned to some mild snickering… because in the spot where Dad’s remains would eternally rest, in that just-opened space in the memorial wall, what does our pastor find? A leaf. He wondered if we should remove it, or leave it there to drive dad crazy for all eternity.

See what I mean? I swear he sends us messages from beyond.

Well, I have really needed my dad these past few weeks. What I wouldn’t have given to just talk to him, which I still do. I guess what I really wanted was to hear his voice.

This past Sunday, after worship, my youngest daughter and I took a stroll through another garden at church. It was a nice walk, and we had just heard our pastor’s sermon about angels. The garden, still sporting some roses in the early fall, was peaceful and pretty, with a calming fountain and lots of stones with Scripture verses along the path. Halfway through our walk, one stone stood out to me because, of all things, there was a leaf laying on it. One, lone leaf, which, of course, caught my eye. Any time I see a random leaf, I can’t help to think of dear old dad.

Oh my gosh…I had to grab my phone and snap a photo, because I honestly could not believe my eyes! Straight from heaven – a message from dad!

do not be anxious

Right under the leaf, the Scripture verse read: “Do not be anxious about anything.” Philippians 4:6.

Teary-eyed, and a little shaken, I looked up, and whispered, “Thanks, Dad.”

© Lynne Cobb – 2013>

Let me know if you have received a message from heaven!

 

Graduation thoughts – decades later…

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“Keep in mind that neither success nor failure is ever final.” – Roger Babson

So today, June 13, is the 33rd anniversary of my graduation from high school. Wow. I know, I know… I just dated myself…

Maybe I am nostalgic because my third child graduated last month, and baby number four will graduate in two years. Maybe I am nostalgic because my granddaughter graduated kindergarten on the same day of my graduation anniversary. Maybe it’s hormones. But today truly has been a day of reflection.

First, how on earth did 33 years fly by so quickly? I haven’t done half of what I had planned to accomplish on that sunny day back in 1980. My plans were to head to college and become an accountant. Fame and fortune and a corner office downtown were waiting. Those plans changed quickly when I bombed pre-calculus and realized I didn’t love accounting enough to waste the time on trying to pass the class a second time around – on my dime. (Yes, I am one of those rare breeds that paid for my schooling.) So when I saw that the accountant gig wasn’t going to pan out, I fell back on to my childhood dream of being writer, and I was going to be the next, best reporter. Ever.

But then, marriage and four kids came along, and I never finished that journalism degree. In hindsight, maybe that was good, as print journalism took a nose dive. The military life had us moving around, and by the time we finally settled back home and my brood started to enter school, I had left the world of newspaper advertising and began freelance writing for local and daily papers and magazines. It was a wonderful balance.

I married a great guy – my soldier, a true hero – and we have four great kids of our own, and two recent additions – our son-in-law and daughter-in-law. We have two beautiful granddaughters. We receive wonderful accolades on our children – better than a Pulitzer or a byline in a newspaper.

The gal with the diploma didn’t have a clue that she’d meet her husband on a blind date, become a military wife, a mom times four, a military mom or a struggling writer. She didn’t know she’d live in Hawaii or visit other areas of the world. She didn’t know the joy and pain of being a parent; how hard it would be to watch her children struggle, face disappointments or to send a son off to basic training; she also had no clue as to how it would feel to have her husband and son deployed back-to-back in a war zone. She didn’t know she’d watch her dad succumb to the ravages of the worst disease ever – Alzheimer’s.

She didn’t know that she’d realize what her faith meant to her, and that she’d echo the same sentiment as her dad – that the only thing that really mattered was that her children came to know Christ. She didn’t realize what her mother went through, until she, herself, faced similar life situations and drew on the strength of her insanely strong mom.

That very shy graduate, the one who rarely opened her mouth back in the day, couldn’t possibly have known that one day, she’d have op-eds published in two Detroit dailies. That she’d defend her babies and march right into the school on two occasions, confronting teachers that bullied her daughters. That, paid or not, she’d keep her dream of writing alive. That she could face her fears and shyness and actually perform a few skits on a stage. In front of large crowds. That above all, God, family and love would be the priorities in her life.

She couldn’t have known that her fellow graduates would also face life struggles: divorces, deaths, job losses – and that they’d find fellowship in supporting each other as they grew older. That the smaller, more intimate gatherings weren’t to see who was the most successful, but to support each other and cheer them on – during the good times and the bad.

When I think back to the 18-year-old girl grasping the diploma, I wonder – did I disappoint her? I didn’t become the bang-whiz accountant or the ace reporter – that’s for sure. But, what I didn’t achieve for her career-wise, I sure think I made up for in other ways. She has a Master’s in the school of hard-knocks, which went a long way in developing her character. You see, that young kid is pretty damned content with how it has all turned out, and she learned that true success is measured in love.

And by that measurement, she knows that she has been repeatedly and abundantly blessed.

Do you ever reflect on your high school graduation? Let me know in the comments below.

© 2013 – Lynne Cobb

Giving thanks and Christmas goodies

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This holiday season has been a challenge for me. Because of its ups and downs, I have incorporated into my daily routine a moment to stop and give thanks in all things. I am here to tell you, of all challenges a woman of faith faces in a day, giving thanks in all things is simply not easy. Looking adversity straight in the eye is not comfortable. And thanking God for it? Well, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!

Today has been a very tough day for me. The last final days of preparing for Christmas have been hard because I am missing some of those who are most dear to me. So, procrastination has set in. I have created lots to do – all that has absolutely nothing to do with my very long to-do list.

But that is okay, because my feeling of being a bit blue has led me to a distraction, which has led me to a wonderful opportunity to give thanks in all things.

While cleaning the office, when I really should be cleaning the bathroom, I found an old column of mine – my very first published column – ever! A former editor, Steve Stein, took a chance on me, and on Christmas Eve, 1998, I was published.

The memory of the excitement of seeing my byline, combined with the words I wrote 14 years ago, gives me the opportunity to thank him and so many others who have helped me along the way. I can never thank my former editors and writing colleagues enough.

“Sugar Buzz” was written when my oldest was 13 and my baby was one. This column reflects what Christmas used to be like in our home, 14 years ago. Of course, I miss those days of Christmas past, and in giving thanks in all things, I look forward to the memories of Christmas present and future.

I hope you enjoy this column! God bless you and your families as you create special moments together.

“Sugar Buzz,” written by Lynne Cobb and published in The Mirror Newspapers, December 24, 1998:

I know I read somewhere that sugar does not affect children’s behavior. Well, this experienced mother can truly dispute that statement! Any parent who has ever hosted a child’s party or helped out during classroom parties can attest to this fact as well.

But who am I to complain? Growing up, there was always “something sweet” with coffee after dinner. This tradition has carried over to my household as well as those of my siblings. I have a panic attack if we have surprise visitors and there is nothing sweet in the house.

Now, as parents, my husband and I try to keep our children’s sugar ingestion to a minimum. (I said try!) All four of them were born with a sweet tooth. Dessert is part of the food pyramid, right? And Christmas is coming, which means – more sugar and goodies.

I honor of all the parents who will try to talk their children into vegetable sticks in lieu of candy and cookies, I lift my cup of cocoa to you. And here’s a tune I penned to “Silver Bells” to get you in the mood:

Sugar Buzz

Sugar buzz, sugar buzz,

It’s Christmas time in my kitchen.

Butter rings, fudge and things,

Soon kids will be spazzing out.

City children, country children,

With their hands gooey-gross,

Keep eating the cookies and junk food.

See them laughing, see them jumping,

See them bouncing around.

And they just keep on chowing junk down!

Sugar buzz, sugar buzz,

It’s Christmas time in my kitchen.

Angel wings, sugary things

Soon kids will be spazzing out.

Grandma’s baking, candies making,

See the kids beg for more.

Mom and Dad roll their eyes – plead for mercy.

Hyper children, sticky clothing,

Today’s the year’s longest day…

And tomorrow we’ll start this again!

Sugar buzz, sugar buzz,

It’s Christmas time in my kitchen.

Red food coloring, fined everything

These kids just can’t simmer down!

Merry Christmas!

© Lynne Cobb – 2012

Bruised bumpers and the Blues

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”  – Sophia Loren

A few events over the past week brought me to this “A-ha!” moment: With age comes wisdom.

Heading to lunch with my husband, I was busy reading email on my phone when a huge thud jarred me: figuratively and literally. Some debris, either from the car in front of us – or kicked up by said car – walloped our front bumper. Talk about being shaken.

It was then I realized that my calmness, as well as my husband’s, was a sign of the times. In our younger days, we would’ve been madder than a wet hen at the young driver. She was completely oblivious to the fact that either she hit something or lost a large part of her car. With her tiny dog in her lap, I noticed the dents and dings in her car. She was completely unphased, and we couldn’t get her attention – as hard as we tried – to let her know what happened.

I didn’t even think to yell or scream at her. Maybe I envisioned one of my own children, having car trouble that could cause a major incident, and hoping that an encounter with another driver would be educational and not dangerous. Even when we reached our destination and looked at the damage, we were both surprisingly calm. Back in the day, not only would we rant and rave, we’d wring our hands and wonder how we’d pay for this mess, that was no fault of our own. Instead, we were thankful it didn’t break the light-housing or come flying through the windshield, which would surely caused injury to one or both of us.

With age comes wisdom.

Last weekend, we had the opportunity to attend an art gallery opening. The featured artist, whom we never met, is the husband of a colleague and friend of mine. She and I chat several times a week online and meet for coffee when we can. To be able to see her husband’s incredible art was a moment in our lives that we felt truly blessed to be able to share – alongside them and many others.

Exactly a week later, we had another great opportunity. Our neighbor and friend has been in the fight of her life. Diagnosed with a very aggressive, late-stage form of breast cancer, this woman has been a courageous inspiration for many. And just as it seemed that surgery, chemo and radiation had done their job, the bad news came. This fighter now had to face even more extensive surgery, just as she thought she had gotten back to her life. After six weeks of healing, doctor appointments and rest, this trooper was on back stage last night. And we were in awe. I firmly believe that The Blues were written for her to sing. Confident, smiling and blowing us away, she beat the crap out her cancer, and we were there to watch her comeback gig – completely in awe of her amazing talent. Who knew that this tiny little powerhouse could sing?!

But the most amazing thing happened after both of these events – and it was the humbled response of these artists. While we were so thankful for being invited to share in one of the most memorable moments of their lives, they thanked us for attending!

Hmmm…I think I am beginning to get it.

With age comes wisdom.

Back in the day, when I was a younger woman and desperately trying to seek fame and fortune through my writing, my focus was completely wrong. Please don’t take this as a judgement call, but in our twenties, many of us embraced our gifts as “ours.” We didn’t share – we had what I will call an arrogant talent. What will my talent get me? Some of us foolishly pitched that gift when it didn’t bring us the income or fame we thought it should.

Additionally, some of us shelved that talent when we started having families and felt pursuing a dream was a waste of time when there were kids to raise and an income to earn.

But as we got closer to or reached that half-century mark, the talent that was buried for various reasons began to sprout back to life. Maybe because we now have more time to nurture it, but maybe, I think, we have just come to realize how important that gift is.

We realize how fast time is ticking. I think, too, that we become confident in our place in life. Maybe we are a little less shy in sharing certain aspects of our lives.  Seeing that life has smacked all of us around by the time we hit this age makes us more humbled for sure, and most often, kinder to others. We have felt the sting of loss;  whether it was a job, a house, a loved one, or health. We embrace good news, and to celebrate accomplishments and talents of those around gives us time to pause from the mundane and experience joy.

We also change our attitudes when it comes to our talents. Instead of wondering what we get from it, we are more concerned about what others get from it. Our motives don’t revolve around making it big – they revolve around making a difference.

Will Doug’s gift of art inspire someone to experience the smell of paint and the feel of a brush meeting canvas? Will Annie’s gifted voice inspire someone to sing, take a dance class or play piano? Most likely, yes. But the biggest gift of all came from these artists sharing themselves – putting themselves out there for all to see. To bare their souls, not because they are awesome (which they are), but because of their choice to share their gifts with others.

God has graciously gifted everyone. Some have the gift of art, music, photography and such. Others have the gift of service; some have the gift of teaching. Still others can build and repair anything. Then there are others that can turn ordinary grocery items into the most extraordinary meals. Or grow beautiful flowers and delicious produce.

Our gifts are endless.

No one could have ever convinced me that going into decade number five would be one of the best times in my life. And, admittedly, there are days I long to be in my twenties again. (Sometimes it is because I long to see myself minus the little wrinkles forming around my eyes, or so I can wear short shorts because I’m not sporting these awesome varicose veins!) Seriously, though, revisiting my twenties is more because of my want to go back in time and smack that twenty-something me in the head, then bestow upon her all this wealth and knowledge and insight that I have today.

With age comes wisdom.

Here’s to settling down and not flying off the handle over the little things in life. Here’s to enjoying your older, wiser self. Here’s to sharing with others. And if you are burying that talent, unearth it today. I double dog-dare you to share that God-given gift of yours with others. In doing so, you will experience a joy that can’t be described.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

When my world stopped turning

“Where were you when the world stopped turning, that September day?” – Alan Jackson

Where was I on September 11, 2001? Dropping my youngest daughter off at preschool. My memory of that day is as clear and crisp as the weather was that morning.

It was a perfect day, and I found myself lingering outside, chatting with a friend. Her youngest son was in my daughter’s class, and her older son was a classmate of my oldest son. We shared so much – even the fact that we had been military spouses. We spoke of how we were blessed to be military spouses during peaceful times, excluding a brief stint during Desert Storm.

Our conversation stopped only because of our need to accomplish our morning routines while the little ones were in preschool. Our time was precious – the hours would tick quickly between drop-off and pick-up. If we wanted to accomplish anything, we’d have to leave now and continue to chat later.

I jumped in my van, half-listening to the news. A plane crashed in New York. Sad, but nothing too odd, I thought, except that Bryant Gumble was on air. Hmmm, I thought, it must have been a big crash, because it was all I heard on every station. I stopped pushing the buttons, and eventually shut off the radio. I did continue to ponder why a TV host was live on the radio.

Being gone a little longer than I planned, I had messages waiting for me when I got home; more than usual. Putting down my purse, the phone rang. I was interrupted by a hysterical call from my sister, who shouted, “Put on the TV! We’re under attack!”

What? I still get goosebumps from that slice of memory.

Grabbing the remote, I put on the TV. In disbelief and horror, I changed the station. Over and over each broadcast showed the same thing: a plane blowing through the World Trade Center.  In shock, I saw the camera replay as plane number two sliced through the other tower.

My head was spinning, reeling, trying to process this? Are we at war? Who did this? Who is next? Do I go get the kids from school? I couldn’t reach my husband on his cell. I wanted to turn this off, but I was drawn to the images coming in from New York.

Not wanting to be alone, I left and sought sanctuary at the church we attended. My pastor was there, and we grieved with others who also sought refuge and wanted to pray. I had never seen this man as disheveled as he was at that moment. He and his family had recently vacationed in Washington D.C. and in New York. He was stunned, reeling like everyone else.

The surrealism of the day continued into the evening, where our front porch began to fill with neighbors, friends and family, several whom were veterans. We all tried to make sense of the day. Located not too far from a small airport, the stillness of the silent skies added another layer of surreal to the day.

The smell of coffee, beer and cigarettes permeated the air, and we were getting updates from folks driving by, sharing their experiences of waiting in long lines at gas stations and grocery stores. We kept a very watchful eye on our kids. Nothing felt safe anymore.

Surrounded by so many people, yet feeling so very alone. I think we all felt that way.

No one could comprehend at that moment how our lives would change forever. How we would cling to each other. That we would find the love for our nation that seemed buried. That pettiness would be shoved aside for the greater good.

I wouldn’t have dreamt that, because of that day, I would become a military spouse with war zone experience. Or that because of that day, I would be one of many military moms losing sleep because their baby was in a foreign land, defending our nation.

I wouldn’t have dreamt that, because of that day, here, 11 years later, we are a nation so divided politically that it breaks my heart. Like we forgot how to be united. Friendships are being taxed by the divisiveness. Warring words from political camps and pundits fill the airwaves like a continuous assault.

If I could pick one blessing that came from that tragedy on 9/11, it would be that we, as a nation, stopped the bickering. That we raised our flags and helped where ever we could. That we were united.

As a military wife, as a military mom, and most importantly, as an American, I pray fervently for God to bless America, and that we remember how just how good it can be here in this country when we are a nation – united.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

So which team am I going to cheer for?

“Football is like life – it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.” – Vince Lombardi

Fall. Sunny days and cool, crisp evenings. Football weather. The chance to reconnect with  friends at the stadium. Hoodies printed up with team logos, marching bands, brats grilling, whistles blowing – Friday nights under lights across the U.S.

Memories flooding. Some folks may feel torn. Some may be ambivalent. Some, like me, find the irony a bit comical.

High school, and once again for me, it is a bit awkward. Why? Because, should I decide to go to the game, who will I cheer for?

This week’s football game is an “us versus them.” Only for me, “us” is my kids’ high school football team going up against my old high school, who is now “them.”

If I let it, it could prove to be quite a dilemma. The school that helped shape me, that educated me, that housed friendships and memories.

My past.

Days of teenage angst; feeling like I didn’t fit in. The square peg in the round hole. The one who didn’t measure up against my peers…

I haven’t been to that football field since I graduated. But since then, I have met up with some classmates I graduated with, and we have had a great time together at each gathering. Life has beat us all up, and we’ve dealt with stuff we would have never dreamed of when we graduated and parted ways some 30-plus years ago: deaths, deployments, divorces, downsizing… none of us unscathed by life.

But it makes for better friendships and deeper conversations than it did back when we were teens.

I would love to root for my old alma mater.

But I can’t. It is the past.

I am in the present.

In the here and now, I have to cheer on my new home team, which boasts of some pretty good guys. The young men who, I swear just yesterday, were about half the size they are now, goofing off and eating pizza in a classroom party I helped host.

Some of these young men have been over to shoot hoops in my driveway. A few of them were here to help with a science fair project that consisted of putting Mentos into diet soda in anticipation of pop shooting all over the sidewalk. (They weren’t disappointed.) Some of these young men were loud boys who needed to be reminded to be quiet at 2 a.m., because, yes – even in the summer – parents have to work. One of these young players has a good throwing arm in part because he and my son tossed bricks to each other to practice (until I shrieked for them to stop!) Many of the guys on the team have grown up with my son; they are some of his closest friends, and their parents are now among my some of my dearest friends.

I will cheer for my new home team because it boasts of a lot of young men I have watched grow and mature over the years.

I will cheer for my new home team because it is the team my son cheers for.

I will cheer for my new home team because my youngest daughter, a JV cheerleader, will be there, rain or shine, sleet or snow, for her home team.

I will cheer for my new home team because each week they bring the hope of a win, a reason to gather, a sense of community.

While I am not forgetting my past, I am putting it behind me where it belongs, while enjoying the present.

To my new home team, and to your young fans, I cheer for your future. I hope that the bonds you make today with your friends continue to grow deeper with time. When you part ways at graduation, I hope you stay in contact with each other. When life beats you up and you have mud on your face and you’re up against hardships that you never knew were possible, I hope that you will find yourself grounded and firm because of your home team.

When you graduate from college or trade school and have a family of your own, I hope the values you learned growing up in this town stay with you. That you welcome a yard full of kids, running, swimming, shooting hoops, squirting each other with hose. (But for Heaven’s sake, please don’t let them toss bricks!)

And after a few years, maybe even a few decades, when you meet up with your classmates, I hope you will find that your friendships are stronger and your conversations are better.

And if you find yourself in an awkward spot on a Friday night, please know that it is okay to cheer a new home team.

Even if it feels a bit odd.

The new home team will appreciate it, and the old one will understand.

Trust me on this.

© 2012  – Lynne Cobb

Newsflash – Batman is a senior

Wasn’t it just yesterday that he was three-years-old, donning a costume and zipping around our house as the cutest caped-crusader ever?

Wasn’t it just yesterday that our neighborhood street was safe, all thanks to him, cruising up and down the sidewalk in his very own, battery-powered Batmobile? (Undoubtedly the very best gift Santa brought him. Ever.)

Wasn’t it just last Halloween when I asked, “What do you want to wear for trick-or-treat?”

Wasn’t it just this last birthday that he requested a special cake?

Wasn’t it just yesterday that it didn’t matter whether we were choosing a birthday theme, a gift for a friend, a Halloween costume or a Christmas gift, his answer was always the same, year after year after year:

Batman.

Wasn’t it  just yesterday that my little boy was Batman, wearing his cape everywhere? To preschool. To the grocery store. To his grandparents’ house. (But not to church. He had a polo-style shirt with a Batman logo embroidered on for those special occasions.)This little superhero had more Batman-themed clothing, toys and accessories than one could ever imagine.

Wasn’t it just yesterday, that I’d iron out the wrinkles in his overly worn cape, making sure it was perfect for the fall costume parades at school?

So how did it happen that today I was pressing a dress shirt and freshening a tie for his senior pictures? And when did he become old enough to drive off in my car, not his Batmobile?

Because somehow, some way, time flew by and Batman is now a senior in high school.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that he entered kindergarten, and his oldest sister graduated from high school?

Wasn’t it just yesterday that he played in the sandbox with his older brother, making roads and rivers and forests with mud water and tree branches?

Wasn’t it just yesterday he watched cartoons with his baby sister as they drank apple juice from sippy cups?

Oh Batman, how I miss you. But I am so proud of the young man you have become. Go forth, my son. The world is at your feet. Be respectful. Be kind to others. Be empathetic and sympathetic. Pray daily. Never take those you love for granted. Work hard, to the glory of God. Always do your best, especially when no one is looking. Give generously of yourself and of your gifts.

When the world seems harsh and knocks you down, get up, brush it off, keep going and remember that you are loved.

And if all else fails, just quietly whisper to yourself of something you’ve always known…

“I’m Batman.”

Love, Mom

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

 

Patience – it’s really not my virtue

My lack of patience must be genetic or something, because there is no real clear reason for it. It is such a character flaw, that it has to be inherited. Certainly someone in my family tree coined the phrases, “Are we there yet?” and “How much longer?”

Oh sure, I can wait for bread dough to rise. I can sort of wait for the first layer of paint to dry. A wet floor – sure, I can wait – especially if I am the one who mopped it. Waiting on a robust cup of coffee – no problem. I’ll even patiently wait for a good cup of tea to steep.

But sitting in a waiting room at the doctor’s office – not so much.

Normally, I have my knitting with me, a dual project of trying to keep my nerves calm and to get lost in time. But seriously, you can’t really knit when you are constantly interrupted.

“May I see your insurance card?”

“Ma’am, can you sign this?”

Not only do I have to sit and wait, I am constantly interrupted while I do so.

This is how last evening went for me: I find out at 5 p.m. via a panicked text from my darling teenage daughter that she HAS to have a sports physical for cheer. Today. Sports registration is tomorrow.

“But mom, know one knew it!”

Apparently, this is the year that the district is enforcing registration. And she was right – I got the email – today was registration.

So, right after practice at 7:15 p.m., off we go to an Urgent Care that offers sport physicals. And, bonus, “We’re not busy right now, so it’s a great time to come in!” says the perky receptionist.

Score!

Ten minutes and several reams paper – in the tiniest of print ever – we are ready! Woot – she can get her physical and we’re outta here!

Except that, in the time it takes me to deliver the paperwork to the front counter, sit down, go back up with my ID, sit down, and run back to the counter to sign something, sit down, and bring my credit card and swipe it, someone comes in to the Urgent Care, and she needs stitches.

Luck is also a genetic trait I inherited.

To pacify me, they stuck us in an exam room to wait it out. Maybe that is the front desk’s way of making one feel like they have progressed in the Waiting Game.

Looking around the a-typical exam room, I strolled down memory lane, remembering comforting my little girl during well-baby checks. Such a bland, sterile environment that is creepy. Back in the day, I could usually calm her with a mass of cotton balls made into things.

Except, now, I was the one who needed the calming. My patience was pushed to the max. Was there really only one doctor in this clinic?

Yep.

I leafed through a parenting magazine, looked up, and saw a box of exam gloves.

You know what happened next.

Giggling like a girl, I blew the glove up like a balloon, posed it and took photos of it modeling in the exam room.

And my darling daughter, why, she gave me the best compliment:

“I gotta hand it to you, Mom, that is pretty funny!”

Yep, sometimes you just have to laugh.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

The Mom Who Cried, “Pizza!”

“If you want to recapture your youth, just cut off his allowance.”  Al Bernstein

What started out as a little joke was rather revealing. Now, to preface all of this, I’m a mom of four, two of which are out the door and married; and two teens who are still at home.

It’s an awesome time, in their lives and mine. And I do mean that! It is a time of tremendous growth for the kids, and, at the same time, it is a time where a tremendous number of gray hairs grow on my head. There are plenty of stressful issues: driver’s training and sports injuries and teenage angst and such. But there is a lot of fun, and joy, too, in watching my teens turn into young adults.

We teach each other lots of things. I have shown them how a washing machine and a vacuum cleaner work. They patiently work with me on new technology, like how to use my cell phone. And how to Twitter. Plus, I’ve had some real deep conversations via text, too. So it’s all good. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss them all being little, home around the dinner table and tucked into bed by 8 p.m. each night.

This summer is giving me a peek into the future. Between their work, social, and – dare I say – sleep schedules, I don’t see them much. My husband and I are getting used to dinner for two. Come fall, when they are back to school and on a schedule, I’ll see more of them, I’m sure.

So… here’s my weekend faux pax using texting: purely by accident, I found a sure-fire way to get a teen home for dinner.

Picture this: a wonderful dinner of barbecued pork-chops, seasoned grilled potatoes, fresh pineapple slices and veggies was being served at 6:45 p.m. One teen was at work, so I sent the obligatory text to the other available teen. And here’s how it went:

Me: “Will you be home for dinner?”

Teen: “Doubt it. What are we having anyway?”

Me: “Pizza.”

Me: “But does it matter, you aren’t going to be here anyway.”

Me: “Oops – I mixed up the “P” meal…it’s Porkchops, Potato, Pineapple.”

And that was it. No reply at all to any of my texts.

It looked like another quiet dinner for two.

But in what seemed like seconds, here is my beautiful teenage daughter, in person, at the table.

Teen: “Where’ the pizza?”

Me: “Didn’t you get my texts? I was joking.”

Teen: “No, I was riding my bike home. I can’t believe you did that. M-o-o-o-o-om! I could have had pizza with my friends! That’s what they were having!”

She said it laughingly, not appreciating the joke but totally appreciating knowing that her presence is missed at the dinner table.

Since she is a whiz on her phone, without ever missing a text, I never dreamed she’d read “pizza,” shove her phone in her bag, jump on the bike and head home without a text response like, “Pizza? Really? Awesome! Can my friends come, too?”

Wow – I totally underestimated the power of pizza.

Seriously, she really was a good sport about the whole incident, but I wouldn’t dare do that again.

I could get the reputation of “crying pizza.”

So the next time she texts, “what’s for dinner,” I’ll text back, “Chinese food.”

She likes almond boneless chicken as much as pizza…

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb