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Friday, September 28, 2012

October Look Book

It's starting to feel like fall here finally! I'm so excited to be pulling out my cozy sweaters and corduroys after the longest, hottest summer in Midwestern history. See you next year, September, and don't let the doorknob hit you on your way out!

Now that I've back-to-school shopped for everyone else in the family and done a few fall style consultations for clients, it's finally time to shop for some new pieces for me. I thought I'd show y'all a little look-book of the things that have caught my eye as I've made my preliminary pass through a few favorite on-line stores.

If you hover over each page, you can see the details about the items I'm showing you.  If you click on the photo, you can read more about the item and order it online.  I know, too easy, right?  I'm sorry and you're welcome!



After last year's addiction to layering, I'm feeling pulled to more simple combinations of gorgeous, wearable pieces that I can throw on and look fabulous but not fussy. The pieces above fit this new philosophy, but will also allow me to pop on a jacket over or a button-up shirt under to create layered, textured looks as well. I like that above all else, cool-weather clothes are all about versatility. For someone who rarely wears the exact same outfit twice, that's a huge plus.

Hope you get to do a little shopping for yourself this season. Happy weekend, friends!


Disclaimer:  The items in the look book above contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission for any purchases you make when you click on them.  This doesn't mean you'll pay more for the items, it just means that a portion of the sale comes to me.




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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I'm a Praise Junkie, and I Hate It

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I'm going to vent a little bit of my crazy here. And not just because I need to write to process the crazy, but also because it seems like when I vent my crazy, others come up alongside me in that crazy, and I think knowing we're not alone in our crazy makes all of us feel better.

See, I'm a praise junkie. I pretty much live for a compliment, bask in the glory of attention, and float on air when someone leaves me a sweet comment here on the blog. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that I'm addicted to being liked, both in the actual sense of the word and as meted out in social media clicks. By addicted, I mean that I've gotten a little praise here and there and liked it so much that now, if I'm not mainlining a steady stream of love and admiration from the people around me or on the blog or Facebook, I quickly spiral down into a deep emotional chasm of "I'm useless and no one likes me and woe is, woe is, woe is me" from which only an even bigger new hit of adoration can lift me.   (I hate how this addiction makes me a slave to my social and on-line life, when I'd really rather have those parts of my life serve me.)

They say words of affirmation are some people's love language? For me, words of affirmation are the oxygen in my blood.

Worse yet?  To me, silence indicates disapproval. No compliments on my outfit? I'm a fashion flop. No comments on the blog? My writing is useless drivel. No cheering over dinner? I need cooking lessons. No Likes on my status update on Facebook? It's not that people are busy or distracted or focused on their own lives, it's that everybody hates me. And oh, heavens.  When I watch others (even people I myself love and admire very much) revel in a (usually deserving) shower of praise or kudos, even though I don't desire to take their spotlight away, I hate how the glow on them makes me feel as if I've slipped into the shadows.  (I hate how this addiction sets me into completely unwanted competition with people I'd so much rather just like and respect and enjoy.)

I've been this way all of my life; it's a chicken/egg quandary for me. Did I feel like my older sister was my parents' favorite daughter because I already had this breed of crazy in me, or did the craziness result from never feeling like I could measure up to her amazingness in Mom and Dad's eyes? (Dad, Mom, I'm not pointing fingers, just wondering aloud.) It's hard to know for certain which came first, but I do know it's so ingrained that I go totally overboard always trying give both of my children perfectly equal amounts of my love, attention and praise. I even notice occasionally that my own insecurities and need for approval and acceptance lead me to make questionable parenting decisions in order for them to never feel the sting of being left out or second best to anyone.  (I hate how this addiction takes my eyes off the real, individual needs and hearts of my children as I am stuck looking at and translating their lives through the lens of my own brokenness.)

Do I know intellectually that my deep craving for human affirmation isn't healthy and stems from age-old insecurities I should shore up immediately? Oh, sure. I'm in touch with how learning to derive value from within myself and from God would transform me into a much happier, more productive Mom, wife, friend, daughter, sister, you-name-it. It's almost ridiculous the amount of time I've spent reading and studying and praying for God to fix this part of me, and yet as deeply I know it in my head, the understanding of my own intrinsic value never seems to make it down my brainstem into my heart. I will preach to you all day long how vital you are, how special and amazing God made you, and then I will turn aside to myself and just as vehemently spit the venom of ineptitude and worthlessness into my own face. And if the world agrees in complicit silence (which it will), my own venom echoes and echoes on and on, into that quiet void.  (I hate how this addiction silences the lips of my Creator, while inclining my head to His enemy, all the better to hear his lies.)

And so I am always looking for a way to drum up some attention, to garner praise, to make myself matter, to be the favorite and in that way to drown out the voices in my own head who want me give up on myself with louder external voices who say I'm worthwhile. But it's tiring, this always striving, always performing, always seeking, always hanging tightly on other people's opinions of me, and it indicates a faithlessness that compounds my despair with guilt and disappointment. Compound crazy. Crazy to the second power. That's where I am right now.

And for once I'm not going to wrap a post up with the pretty bow of resolution. God knows I'd prefer to, and just think, I'd get more praise and glory if I could. But I truly don't have an answer to this life-long riddle.  I will tell you this, though.  In times past when I've come face to face with this truth about myself, I've just stepped up and tried harder to make other people give me what I think I need. This time, I know for sure that's not ever going to the answer.  I see so many people who are absolutely showered with praise and glory and attention from all sides, year after year, and inside they feel just as small and insignificant as I do.

I have to find a way to understand and own my value from the inside out, not the other way around.  Full-stop.  Because this busy, also-crazy world isn't interested in devoting itself to making me feel good about myself. I have to do that.

And I want you to know that if you're a praise-junkie too, waiting for affirmation and spitting venom at yourself in the silence, you are not alone (so completely not alone), you are NOT all those terrible things you believe about yourself in the quiet void, and you ARE worthy of learning to love and value who you are, no matter what the world says or doesn't say.


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Monday, September 24, 2012

Help Me Get My Family's Life Organized

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Lately I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants. Well, let me be honest, I’ve pretty much been in seat-of-my-pants mode since Peabody joined the family four years ago, so “lately” is misleading. Up until my second-born arrived, I’d been able to keep this family’s life organized and on-schedule using only my own brain and an appointment card or two tucked into the side pocket of my purse. And even back in my career days, I was never “lost without my daytimer,” or reliant on technology or other people to keep myself, my home or my finances on time and on track. I’ve just always had a head for keeping up with dates and times and routines and lists.

Not so anymore. In the past four years I’ve been perpetually about fifteen minutes behind schedule and I’ve forgotten, missed or shown up on the wrong day for more appointments than I had in my entire life prior to that. I forget to pay bills, I lose important paperwork, I stand up service-providers and neglect to respond to emails. My GymBucks and Kohl’s Cash expire unused and my husband’s fresh shirts spin, forgotten, on the laundry-go-round in the front window of the dry-cleaner’s store-front for many long, dizzying days despite the fact that I drive right past there at least six times a week. And it’s not like I’m just here lying around on the sofa eating Cheez-Its and reading People magazine, y’all. I’m constantly cooking, cleaning, organizing, planning things for the kids, writing, and generally being productive, it’s just that for the first time in my life, I feel like I’m so busy I don’t have time to organize the busy-ness into a framework that keeps all the plates spinning and me under and in control of them.

It’s time to take myself and my schedule in hand and start getting my life back under control. I need something. Some sort of on-line system (I don’t like paper calendars because I lose or forget them or don’t have a pen handy or whatever. There’s always some reason that option fails me.) that functions asa calendar, a planner and an alarm clock. Something I can use for daily, weekly, monthly routines, appointments, trips, reminders, lists, everything, for me and my whole family. It needs to be simple, quick and fool-proof (I’ve been known to accidentally put appointments onto the calendar on my phone on the right day, at the right time, but in the wrong year. For real.) and I would love to have the option of printing things out to give to Al or Bean (and eventually Peabody) when I need to.

And yes! This could certainly be as easy as sitting down and working with the calendar on my computer that syncs easily with my iPhone. But I need something or someone to sit me down and show me how to make it all work together, smoothly and easily - how to maximize efficiency and minimize the time I’d spend working on it. And somehow, I need to force myself to keep it up, keep it current, and obey what it’s telling me. In short, I need lessons and accountability in managing my own schedule. Like a personal assistant, but without the salary.

So tell me. Are you organized and efficient? Do you have your life under control? How do you do it? Tell me, teach me, oh organized ones!


(I'm linking this post at The Parent 'Hood. Have you written about kids or parenting recently? Come join us in the 'Hood!)

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The Parent 'Hood Week Three

It's Monday, and time for you to spill the proverbial beans about how the week with your kids went!

Last week in the Parent 'Hood, several of us were thinking the importance of reading to and with our kids. Meanwhile, a new mama wrote about trying out some new things to get her baby boy sleeping longer at night. And as one Mom started preparing to go back to work after her maternity leave, A new stay-at-home Dad was born. There were just so many great stories, ideas and heart-words. Thank you all so much for your submissions in Week Two!

I didn't get to visit every single post last week but I'm trying to make the rounds slowly but surely, week by week. So keep writing, keep sharing, and please, please take the time to click on a few of the posts written by your fellow parents.  Read their stories, feast your eyes on their gorgeous pictures, laugh at their kids' antics, and just get to know some awesome Moms and Dads in the blogosphere. That's what the Parent 'Hood is all about.

I can't wait to hear about what's happening with you and your kids this week.



Please read these guidelines before linking your post:

1. Today’s link-up will run from this morning through the Sunday night. A new link-up will start next Monday morning.
2. Link the unique URL of your parenting post, not the homepage of your blog or your parenting post will get buried under new content on your homepage and be hard to find when readers click through on your link later in the week.
3. We ask that you please include a text link to The Parent ‘Hood (on any of the hosting blogs) in your linked post.
4. Share your own posts and read and comment on other blogs. Any good 'hood is all about community, right? Read, comment, share and enjoy as you have time. We are promoting many of your posts weekly on our Facebook pages, as well as on Twitter using hashtag #theparenthood.






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Find me on Twitter and Instagram.  There, as anywhere, I'm simply 'FriedOkra.'

Friday, September 21, 2012

Girls' Weekend

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Photo credit Kelly Sauer

Faces of screen-sisters emerge from alphabet-blue and now at last you’re real in ripest flesh. Your messy buns and babydoll bangs, your fiery curls and midnight waves and holy tears spill and linger warm on my shoulder in our trembling anticipation-drenched embraces. Your eyes just sparkle into mine when I pull my face back to meet them again and again.

Finally blessed with the sacred gift of one roof, one moon above us all, we easily flow like smooth, sweet golden honey to serve one another with prayer and touch and poured wine and broken bread and soap and scrub-brush and camera and velvet and wood and paper. I kiss your baby’s head and delight in the wondrous round bellies of this one and that one, skin stretched tight over a hidden her and secret them.  I've learned your soul and now soak in present, perfect companionship with your smile, your voice, your living, breathing loveliness.

We pour and plunk our pain and joy and fear and insecurity and worry and brokenness and healing and hope and bravest love together in a swirling pot, this beautiful stone-soup feast of heart-words, and weep to feel God stir it all and fold us one into the other. My fingers twine timidly around yours and yours back around mine, because maybe now we finally belong to one another in the way we’ve always almost-belonged to one another in some distant land, then found and held onto, real, for as long as time allows.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

45 and Still Me

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Photo credit Kelly Sauer.

Growing up, I’d lie on the driveway with my best friend Marie, looking up at the Carolina sky. We’d call out years into the future and figure out how old we’d be and describe what we’d be like then, how our lives would look. I don’t remember if either of us ever called out 2012, but I do remember the time we vetted 2007.  That was the year I turned 40.

Today, I’m 45. I’m 45 years old, so you can hardly expect me to remember all the details of my 10-year-old’s mental portrait of a 40-year-old me. I can tell you that my own mother wasn’t even 40 yet and my grandmothers were absolutely ancient to me, somewhere into their early 60s. This left me with pretty much zero empirical data on which to base my vision -- so it was all hunch and extrapolation -- about as accurate as that same 10-year-old’s notion of romantic love, which at the time consisted of Shaun Cassidy’s concert-dripping hair draping over one of his gorgeous dark brown eyes as he looked down with the other into the front row, spied me and immediately jumped off the stage, grabbed my hand and Da Doo Ron Ronned out of the arena all the way to the nearest wedding chapel.

I had the notion in my head somehow that 40-year-old Megan would be, well... old, and pointedly maternal in aura, with hair as coarse and grey as Brillo, round of face and body, wrinkled and worn. As I tried to feel my 40-year-old-me feelings and think her thoughts, what came to me was a sense of surety, of establishment, of knowing. Having married Shaun and born his children and provided a shoulder to cry on when The Hardy Boys didn’t get picked up for a fourth season, and then somewhere squeezing in a powerful, memorable career as The President of Something Huge and Important Involving the Stock Market from which I’d already retired, my life and times would have by forty made me into someone firm and sure and permanent and impervious to the shifting world around her.

I’m here to remind you that at 45, I’m not Mrs. Shaun Cassidy. I’m not any of those other things, either, and OMG AM I SO RELIEVED ABOUT THAT. Because how boring was she, completely flat and devoid of the ever-evolving, ponderous wonder and always-hopeful potential of the real me?

Also? Her hair was hideous.

I spent this past weekend at a writer’s retreat with some precious heart-friends of all ages, lo, even way down in their 20s (this meant I had to keep my stupid bra on all weekend) and as a few of us sat ruminating on life and love and the happy-angsty burden of writing about it all, a sage old 30-something shared with some of the younger girls a thought I’ve thought a million times, “Yeah. I’ve been about three different people since I was in my twenties.”

And well... Yeah. Me too.

But I had to add to her very astute observation that while I’ve been three different people too, lived three completely different lives or more since I lay on the driveway with my childhood bestie, there's this critical caveat: Deep in the core of me, I’ve always and ever still been just me. I still look out the eyes of that same 10-year-old and see things from exactly and only my own unique and individual place in this world. I’m still full of wonder and doubt and hope and discovery and despair. I'm still carrying the same innate fears and pain and desperation to be loved and unwavering hope and creativity and naivete and wit.

Even though life has never for a moment stopped giving to or taking away from this girl, by God's grace I've responded by growing and changing and becoming new.   Even through the many long, terrible years of denying my own truth and toiling to be all that I'm just not, everything I bloomed and became, good and bad, managed to bloom right out of the epicenter of that original me God first set in motion. Even when I've tried to escape her, I've felt deeply His created, gut-level Megan - the girl I’m pretty sure now that I’ll never stop being - in every joyous laugh and broken sob. And I may stormily blame the sobs on her and criticize and question God about her tragic flaws and ineptitude, but I've also learned to bear each joyful laugh back to her and Him as conciliatory reminder and reward for never giving up on one another.

I hope I still have two or three more people left in me before my true self meets her crazy, wise Maker, (I’m sorry I called God crazy, but if you knew me, really knew the real me, you’d see I’m totally right about this. I’m living testament to His completely inexplicable ways.) I hope to have much more given and taken away, I hope for many more broken sobs and joyous laughter.

And now more than ever, at 45, I fervently hope that through it all, I'll just keep being Me.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

The Parent 'Hood Week Two

Talking to Young Kids About Death

Perfection.


Bean and I sat over lunch the other day and I coaxed her to eat her carrots the same way I always do: Make sure you eat all those carrots, they’ll help you grow up big and strong.

“Will I be bigger than YOU if I eat my carrots?”

“Well, not immediately bigger than me, but maybe someday you’ll be taller than I am.”

She looks at me thoughtfully and remains quiet for a minute.

“I know when I’ll be bigger than you! I’ll be bigger than you when you get, um, um –,” she trails off, and a look of worry — almost panic — spreads across her face.

“When you get …” she tries continuing the thought again. “You know, when you get … I can’t say it. When you’re really (she hunches over and shrinks herself up like she’s aged 70 or 80 years in a second) … and you have to walk with a stick.”

“When I get old?” I finish for her, cringing inwardly.

And she starts to cry.

“I don’t want you to get old Mama! I don’t want you to get old! I want you to stay just like you are now, forever.

“I know, B. I don’t really love the idea of getting old, either, but everybody’s always getting older, all the time. That’s just how it works, babe. You’re getting older every minute. Older and bigger and smarter and stronger.”

“But Mama if you get old does that mean you’re gonna die?”

Sigh. I gather my wits about me and quickly rattle off the best answer I can coax out past the aching cry blooming grey like a storm cloud in my chest and throat

“Yes. Someday I’ll die, but not for a very long time. You’ll probably be my age before I die, honey. Don’t worry about it right now, okay? I won’t die before God is ready for me to, and that means He’ll make sure you’re strong enough to handle it, too.”

(She sobs.)

“Will Nana die?”

“Yes,” I say calmly.

And I just fall silent — I’m a terrified animal trapped in a net, wild-eyed and panicking. I want to shriek and scratch and claw my way out of this discussion.

“What about Peabody? Will Peabody get old and die?”

“Eventually, everyone does, Bean. Everyone who lives has to die. But you and Peabody will have one another for such a long time, sweetie. There’s no need to worry about this any time soon.”

“When you die, we can just take you to the hospital and have them make you better.”

“No. When we’re sick, we go to the doctor or the hospital to get better. But when we’re dead, that’s the end. That’s all. We can’t get better anymore. But Bean?”

“What, Mama?”

(I take a deep breath. I don’t really have anything ready on the whole Christianity/God/Eternal Life thing ready for this child in this moment, but I instantly assess and know I’ve got to get it in here, in this first Big Discussion, to build the groundwork for discussions to come.)

“Remember what Daddy and I’ve told you about Jesus and His sacrifice for God’s forgiveness of the bad things we do and how God is our Father in Heaven?”

“Well, when we love God and we let Jesus take over our lives for us, then we really don't die. We leave here, and we leave our families for awhile, but we go to Heaven to be with God. And Heaven’s a wonderful place where nothing bad ever happens and everyone is always happy and never hurts or cries.”

(It comes out very awkward and halting and like I doubt it all, even though I don’t doubt it one little bit. I’m just unsure of how to adequately convey something so abstract to my very smart, very pragmatic, very thoughtful little girl. I know I’m not mentally or emotionally prepared to answer the next round of her questions. I have no idea where she’ll even want to go with this. It’s just all too complicated for her mind to comprehend, yet too important for her heart not to hear. I’ve been blindsided. All I can do is hope I don’t say something that makes her more fearful.)

And honestly?

She glazes over a little bit.

She tells me one more time she wants me to stay her young Mama forever and OH YES! Not go to Bunco tonight.

Then I watch her face as she realizes, in an instant, that if I go ahead and go to Bunco tonight, Daddy’ll let her watch Sponge Bob, or perhaps break out his boxed set of Looney Toons DVDs, and they’ll eat popcorn together in our bed, and she changes her mind.

“Wait Mama! Actually, you CAN go to Bunco tonight, after all. I’ll be okay.”

Off she trots to find her flip-flops and head outside to ride her bike.

And I reach for a box of tissues and force myself to begin the work of figuring out how to make my own heart more ready for the next Big Discussion.



And now it's your turn to link your parenting posts from this week.

Please read these guidelines before linking your post:

1. Today’s link-up will run from this morning through the Sunday night. A new link-up will start next Monday morning.
2. Link the unique URL of your parenting post, not the homepage of your blog or your parenting post will get buried under new content on your homepage and be hard to find when readers click through on your link later in the week.
3. We ask that you please grab and include the Parent 'Hood image and link above somewhere in your linked post. 
4. Share your own posts and read and comment on other blogs. Any good 'hood is all about community, right? Read, comment, share and enjoy as you have time. We are promoting many of your posts weekly on our Facebook pages, as well as on Twitter using hashtag #theparenthood.








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Monday, September 10, 2012

The Parent 'Hood, Week One

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Yay! Welcome to The Parent 'Hood's inaugural week!  I'm so excited to get started with this weekly synchroblog that I'll be hosting each Monday.  We've created The Parent 'Hood to be a place where bloggers who write about parenting can share their work, meet other writer/parents and hopefully make new friends and build a fun community.

How does The Parent 'Hood work? It's simple. You write a post, any post, about anything at all - your reflections, stories, tips, lists, photos, questions, musings, whatever - on the subject of parenting. Each Monday and for the rest of that week, you link your post to The Parent 'Hood here at FriedOkra, Vita Familiae, To Think is To Create, Joy in this Journey, Love Well, O My Family or Lovefeast Table. No matter which blog you use for to link your post, it will show on all of these blogs (thus lots of exposure), for all readers and participants to see.

After that, you just hit the 'hood and read posts shared by other parents, comment on them, get to know new friends, and enjoy making connections with other Moms and Dads.

A few quick details about being part of The Parent 'Hood:


  1. Each link-up will run from Monday morning through the following Sunday. A new link-up will start on the next Monday morning. You may link posts written any time, but my hope is that at least for me, this will inspire me to keep writing new things about my kids and my life as a Mom at least once a week. (It's not always easy, is it?)
  2. You will want to link the URL of your specific parenting post, not the homepage of your blog. Otherwise your parenting post will get buried under new content on your homepage and be hard to find when readers click through on your link later in the week.
  3. We really hope this link-up provides you not only with a place to share your own posts, but also the opportunity to read and comment on other blogs. Any good 'hood is all about community, right? Read, comment and enjoy as you have time!


Since we're just getting started this week, we invite you to share a favorite post you've written about parenting or kids no matter when it was written. Next Monday, we'll challenge you to share something new you've written, so get ready!

Oh, and hey! I promise that next week I'm going to actually include a parenting post of my own! I just don't want this post to get so long that you give up reading before you get to the link-up tool.

Ready, set, link-up! I'm really looking forward to meeting you (those of you I don't know already!) and seeing what you're writing and sharing about one of my very favorite subjects.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The First Day of His Junior Year (of Preschool) -- A Study in Ambiguity

At the top of the world with my little man.

"I not goinga school today," Peabody said to me this morning as he chewed a clean, crisp slice of an early-season apple we'd bought at the farmer's market yesterday. He's said this every day since we first put his big sister on the bus one morning two weeks ago. He floats the idea out as a mixture of question and statement every time, and each time prior to today I've said, "No, not today, but soon," with a hidden cringe of dread for the day I would have to answer differently.

"Yes, today, you are going to school," I responded gently, but with what I hoped to be the right mix of firmness and empathy. And then, internally, I ducked, waiting for his tears, his shrieks, that typical four-year-old negativity redoubled in conviction by his long-standing ambiguity about school. They never came. He bit off another piece of sweet fall flavor and chomped at it for a moment, before climbing backwards off his wooden bar stool and heading up the steep, turning staircase to his room. He's big enough now to make the stairs creak a tiny creak.

I arrived on his heels to find him scaling his great-grandfather's dresser (now his), and peeked from behind the door-frame to watch him carefully bat down the sturdy brown box that contained his equally sturdy and brown new school shoes. He half-climbed, half-leapt down behind his treasure, knelt before it and tossed the box's lid aside to pull out one suede and leather shoe, hold it up to his face then to his nose. He noticed me and peered over the shoe into my eyes. I just held his gaze and looked down at him, a keen expectation in my gut like the pause at the top of the highest peak in a roller-coaster car. Where are we going with this?

"Dese shoes smell GROSST," he asserted, and took the second out of the box. I braced myself again, and then exhaled as he breezily asked, "Can I wear dem to school today?"

And with that, we were just bip-bop-boop getting dressed and ready for the first day of his "junior year" of preschool. It was raining, so we three piled into the car and drove Bean down to the bus stop. As her bus glided away through a damp canopy of umbrellas and waving mothers, we buckled up and headed off out of the neighborhood towards his school. He chattered brightly, not even a whisper of anxiety in his voice. I answered him through the veil of my almost-alone, tip-of-the-solitude-planning thoughts. Halfway there, by the drugstore on the corner, and he broke his steady banter briefly, collecting up another batch of thoughts and questions.

"Can I go into school by myself? An' you stay inna car?"

I actually giggled out loud. He cannot be serious! Is he serious?

"Ummm... You want to go into school without Mama?"

"Yes."

I was stymied. What just happened here?

"Well, buddy, since it's the first day and I haven't seen your teachers in a while, I think I'd like to go inside and say Hi to them today. I'll let you go in by yourself on Friday, okay?"

"'Kay."

We parked and walked to the door of the school, and he grasped my hand, pulled back a bit as he spied teachers and students inside, smiling out at him. But he followed me inside and hung his backpack on the hook under the bright banana sticker that bears his name. His class theme is monkeys. Yes, of course it is.

We looked at the class's resident mouse, in a cage at the back of the room, and I could tell my boy was ready for me to go in the same way that he sometimes feels ready to get a BandAid off a boo-boo, but dreads the ripping.

I hugged him. He hugged back hard. I kissed his sweet round nose. I drank him in as I wondered to myself in half-a-second thought if these teachers can see what I see in this little boy of mine. I know in my soul that God created my heart to love Peabody most and best, yet what speaks out of those expressive, soulful eyes, the amazing range of expressions he commands with just the flick of an eyebrow or the slight pucker of a lip -- wouldn't they completely captivate anyone with a heart?

I let go and leaned back, but he came close again with warm arms around my neck. I just let him hug and closed my eyes into the moment. Again we parted, and over his shoulder I saw his teacher, watching with understanding. He turned and saw her too, and flickered his best I'm not smiling smile at her - obligatory pout painted over a growing willingness he'd rather we didn't know about.

But we knew, the teacher and my son and me. And I could walk out, and even look back at him, and know that he's going to have a worry-free day, going to be undeniably himself, going to say something funny and probably inappropriate about poop, going to walk on his tip-toes when he's hurrying, going to only wash the palms of his hands before snack, unless someone reminds him to wash the backs too, going to ask for more, going to want to know where the pink car is, going to sing "Thriller" or something by Katy Perry during free play time, going to be delighted to hear "Sticky Bubblegum" for the hundredth time.

And then he's going to greet me in three hours with a face-splitting smile and the sweetest Mamaaaaaaa! I've ever heard. And I will realize that I have missed him deeply, even though the truth is I popped a gleeful imaginary wheelie as I drove out of the parking lot after that last hug.



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