Molly Mae turned 5 last Monday. I have been quite sentimental lately about this milestone representing a chapter in my life coming to a close; I officially don't have young kids. While, I haven't carried a diaper bag or sippy cup for quite a while, #5 seems to nail the big kid plaque on the walls of our family life.
And as everything seems to be with motherhood and my daughters, I often think about their lives linked to existential meanings for me. Are these these milestones about the passing of time for them or for me?
Is it about the big girl or the lines on my face? Is it the milestone of her birthday or my trying to grasp this journey? Last week, as I often do even if I don't have the time to sit and write a blog, I ruminate the significance of our life as if I would put words to events and feelings. In my mind and heart, I was preparing myself to think about and celebrate the big deal of Molly's birthday. I was thinking of how I would describe her phases and moods, her strengths and frustrations and the way she exudes personality with force and femininity. I excitedly thought about welcoming my parents for a visit, including a surprise visit from Daddy Doug and celebrating my mother's birthday. My parents came in on Thursday but on Tuesday, we received some news that has consumed my thoughts and emotions even as I'm trying to focus on Molly and the journeys of our life.
This blog is a place where I get my thoughts out in the spirit of honesty as I share my heart and mind as our story, yet sometimes what is on my mind isn't exactly our story. Elise, a little girl in Anna Cate's class, has been diagnosed with brain cancer. (You can see Elise's beautiful face or read the strong, heart-wrenching, yet beautiful words from her family on their public Facebook page here.) I do not know the family, but have met the little girl at lunch once and heard Elise's name fondly from Anna Cate all year, yet their story has been on my heart and mind ever since. I think about the family so much and can only admit that as much as my heart is breaking, I can not realize what they face, so I just send prayers, including a plea for them to enjoy the present in the face of such struggles. . . absurd as that sounds.
Needless to say this news has permeated my thoughts on my own life as we go on with our story. So without sounding trite, I hope to relay our story.
We welcomed Mom and Dad and planned an elaborate surprise for Daddy's appearance. I went to the train to pick up Mom, but BJ went to pick up Dad. In the car on the way home, Molly cried, "I just don't know why Daddy Doug never comes." After we came home and got settled, Daddy rang the door bell, and Molly could not quit hugging him. It was grand!
Friday, they went to school to have lunch with Anna Cate and that evening, we enjoyed a lovely dinner to celebrate Mom's 68th birthday.
On Saturday, we went to an air and space museum. I let Anna Cate take some pictures:
Clearly she knows how to capture the moment.
We then enjoyed a lovely meal at our friends' Geoff and Dorinda's home. Dorinda and I have been friends for over 20 years but reconnected really in the last 10, and her husband Geoff is sort of like a clone of my Dad.
Dorinda is truly a phenomenal hostess.She is like 14 months pregnant and put on a fabulous spread enabling us all to visit in their beautiful home.
She does everything perfect. . .including an arrangement of the Tennessee state flower.
The next day was the day we had planned to do Molly's party, but winter weather forced us to postpone, so we had a family day with movies and pizza. Molly didn't throw a fit about her party being postponed; in fact she lets a lot smaller things drive her crazy. On Monday, Molly's actual birthday, Mom, Dad, Anna Cate and I took Molly to Chuck E. Cheese for an hour.
If you've managed to avoid it, let me explain the rouse: you buy coins to play the games and the kids want to play as many games as possible to get as many tickets as possible so they can redeem their tickets for a prize. Both girls had a blast playing the games. . .and trying to get tickets.
After the coins run out, the kids go see the prizes they can get with their wad of tickets, and they are junk . . .the kind of things that come in a McDonald's Happy Meal -- junky as the food and the toys. Clearly, the joy of Chuck E Cheese is playing the games, not the prize at the end. That translates well to my heart and mind as we celebrate Molly turning 5.
In general, the focus of parenthood and our goals for our dealings with children are long term pay offs, but often the experience trumps the outcome. The coins metaphorically are the present and should not be disregarded. I am not saying to ignore the values in delayed gratification, yet the theme of life seems to continually call us to savor the journey, and no better teachers of this truth than children.
|Molly grasping her coins on a ride.|
On her birthday evening, she was happy to have her family around for her.
I hope I will always remember the place of my heart and mind as we welcomed the celebration of Molly's 5th birthday. Love and Light.
I don't see all the worries, yelling, frustrations and chores that come with parenthood. I see pure love and light in the hearts of the family surrounding Molly and in the spirit of a little girl.
So as I think about Molly and pray for a family on my heart, my hopes and prayers are the same. By the grace of God, in the midst of whatever the tickets will get us, help us to seek love and light in the ride of life.
All men know their children mean more than life.