Saturday, February 20, 2016

Sounds Like Life

My son is in the next room strumming beautifully on a guitar he didn’t even know how to play this time last year. His voice joins in harmony with his friend’s as they practice for an upcoming audition. She does this wonderful, improvised thing and he stops.
“Oh yeah! That’s great.”
I can hear the smiles.
It’s the sound of joy reverberating through my home. Joy and perseverance and belief and self-doubt and trial and error and passion.
Thump. Thump. Thump. The ball beats a passionate rhythm against the wall. My family room seconds as a soccer field. This is why we can’t have nice things—because I’d rather have a soccer field in my home than nice things. The thumping grows faster and harder, then a miss, followed by an expletive. Then the rhythm starts again. Slow and steady and sure. Then faster.
It’s the sound of persistence, consistency, determination, sweat, aches, pains, skinned knees and pulled muscles. It’s the sound of missed goals and trophies not won and championships celebrated and hard fought victories.
I stand outside my daughter’s bedroom and listen to her reminisce on the phone with her friends over last night’s dance. They already regret things they didn’t say, dance moves they shouldn’t have tried, and the photo they didn’t take of the three of them while their hair and make-up was still on point. But they laugh it off. There’s still time.
My son comes up behind me and tells me not to eavesdrop, that privacy is a right. “Not in this house,” I joke. “Never has been.”
What he doesn’t realize is that I’m not eavesdropping. I’m not trying to listen in on a conversation. I’m only hearing the sound. I am breathing in the sounds of their voices and laughter and tears and lives.
There’s not much time. In eighteen months, my last two kids will have flown the coop. They will take their noises with them. They will also take with them their triumphs and sorrows and tenaciousness and doubt and faith. And my heart.

I’m not looking forward to the silence. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

I Told You So

I've often heard the parenting advice that we should never tell our children, "I told you so." I think that advice should actually be

You should never tell your children "I told you so" 
unless it's a really big freaking deal for which 
you totally deserve credit forever and all time.

That's my kind of parenting advice.

Ten years ago, I picked up my oldest daughter from another day of middle school. Another awful, sucky, aggravating day of middle school full of stupid mean kids that said stupid, mean things.

I had already tried all the nice, forgiving, Catholic school mom stuff I was supposed to say. None of it had helped. So I finally told her what I really thought.

Kate, don't worry about it. One day you are gonna be in California doing your thing and all those kids who made fun of you and made you feel unattractive or weird or not good enough are gonna be sitting on their couches in Wichita, Kansas, eating corn chips and watching some show on TV that you worked on. 

Today, I can say I TOLD YOU SO! Today, those Roaring Moms words come true. Today, in fact all this week, the productions she has been working on for months are entertaining the corn-chip eating couch potatoes!

While this post might seem like one big Roaring Mom Brag, that's not totally my intention. You all know how I feel about bragging on our kids. Yes and Always! My point, however, is more that it is perfectly fine to say "I told you so"! Sometimes our kids need to remember that we got it right. Sometimes. we need to remember that we got it right.

This morning, in that same church parking lot, I had a similar conversation with another child o' mine. I reminded him that sometimes the doors we want to open remain closed so that a better door can open later on. Had Kate been hired on with Facebook she wouldn't have still been looking for employment when the CBS job opened up. Working for Facebook would have been cool, but I'm not sure it would have been getting-paid-to-hang-out-with-Jeff Goldblum-cool!

What was cool was what happened when church started. The commentator explained the readings for the day. Simon had failed at fishing all day which left the door open for Jesus to instruct him to throw the nets again. Simon's failure had literally allowed him a chance to grow his faith. If he'd been hauling in the fish all day, he wouldn't not have experienced the opportunity for something greater.

I smiled at my son. I told you so!

If the Gospel backing up your Roaring Mom Words of Wisdom isn't enough reason to say "I told you so", surely Jeff Goldblum is.

Roar On!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Failing Forward

Fail Forward! Have you ever heard those words?

Those words make me cringe. When I hear them, I always imagine myself tripping up the stairs in front of important people at a Black Tie affair, breaking my shoes, ripping my dress, tripping the host—that kind of thing. Going forward, yes. Even going up. But it is not pretty.

Who wants that kind of embarrassment? It would take days to get past the humiliation of the fall before you even began dealing with the I’m-a-loser mentality that inevitably comes along with the failure. And have you noticed that the I’m-a-loser mentality is a mental magnet. The moment you ponder one failure, the rest come rushing at you! It can go something like this:

I forgot the grocery list, so I came home without buying toilet paper.
I also forgot to buy Valentines for my kids’ classrooms.
I didn’t work out.
I ate a donut five donuts.
I forgot to pay that credit card bill from Christmas for presents everyone has already forgotten.
I haven’t taken down Christmas and it’s Valentine’s Day.
I burned dinner.
My hungry, Valentine-less children hate me.
I am Valentine-less, too.
I ate six donuts.
I’m going to die alone. And fat.
I am going to die and I haven’t yet made my will.
And I haven’t saved for retirement.
So there is nothing to will to anyone anyway.
I have to pee and there’s no toilet paper. 
I have failed at life.

See what I mean?

A wise man (AKA, my father, the wisest man I know) sees failure differently. He says that failure is the common thread to learning and knowledge. Failure to recognize failure is the common thread of fools. Failure is the first step to beginning again. The opportunity to begin again is one of God’s gifts. He says he knows this because of the number of opportunities available. A new year, a new month, a new week, a new day, a new hour, a new minute.

If failing, the opportunity to begin again, is one of God’s gifts, who am I to want or expect something different? Even if the opportunity comes with embarrassment and humiliation? If you think about it, who wouldn’t want the opportunity to begin again? I mean, if you got it right the first time, beginning again allows you to repeat the joy of a successful experience. If you got it wrong, of course you want a do-over!

So what if your kids assuage their hunger with half a dozen donuts and you spend the last of their tiny inheritance on delivery pizza. So what if they were the only kids that year with homemade Valentines. And so what if you discover that too much aloe-infused Kleenex can clog a toilet? The next day is a do-over. The next week. The next month. The next year.

God is good. Life is good. And so, it seems, is failure.