This might be the last time (see also: offending object in ear)

At the risk of being suspected of Munchausen by Proxy syndrome, I would like to share the following as I trust I am not alone. This past week I had the double sads. One, Little Man had a 104 degree temperature. Poor little lambchop. My sadness doubled down when I realized this might be the last time I take care of a child who can legitimately curl up into my lap when sick.

Petite, short-waisted mother. Children with large melon heads and lanky limbs. There’s a reason why there’s a role reversal in Love You Forever by Robert Munsch (which sounds a little like Munchausen, though that is neither here nor there, hey?). The son gets bigger. The tiny mother does not.

Little Man was just the right size for snuggling as we monitored his fever. Just a lovely fit for carrying into the urgent care when he said his legs were in too much pain. Perfect ergonomics for holding while he slept in the waiting room.

The shame in my game was discovered upon the doctor examining Little Man, “What’s this green stuff in his ear?”

I wished I had a remote clue. I mean, the possibilities were endless. Sweater fuzz? Shards of a tennis ball? Mutagent ooze?

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After several rounds of ear irrigation (earrigation?) which convinced me of the wonders of both plumbing and medical school, the errant pea-sized serving of neon green play-dough was properly extracted from the ear canal and the origins of his ear infection and possibly the accompanying wicked case of strep throat were discovered.

Totes love when we get our co-pay’s worth!! With a freezer pop to boot!

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The inevitable cocktail of pink medicine and probiotic gummies was acquired from the latenight Walgreen’s and our boy was returned to golden Tylenol-induced slumbers.

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He was back on his bike by noon the next day and even as I mourned the role of wee person caregiver that is starting to pedal away from me like a ninja turtle on a two-wheeler, I gave thanks that this is an anomaly. There are millions of parents around the world who are in constant caregiver mode to sick children or sick parents, whose most precious resources of energy and clarity of mind are constantly depleted (“Thanks, Obama” not necessary).

**Awkward bust-a-move to charitable donation talk**

A couple funds that are close to my heart that I know do a great job of supporting parents as they fight disease or care for children with compromised immune systems, etc. etc. are the following:

JDRF
Ronald McDonald House
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Kinder Key for Nationwide Childrens Hospitals
And you? What are your favorite organizations to support?

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Disgustingly perfect

This afternoon was one of those disgustingly perfect Sunday afternoons where you just want to punch yourself in the face to counteract the goodness. I suppose some would settle for a more polite pinch to make sure they’re alive, but you know that feeling where the beauty just overwhelms. This sweet, intoxicating prelude to summer weather we’re having. You get so high off of it that you forget to worry about your diet, the lawn you need to mow before it rains, the e-mail bombshell that is ticking like a tell-tale heart in your inbox awaiting your reply.

We went to a Chattanooga Lookouts game today and it was bliss. We overbought slushies and overate overly salty pretzels and we cheered and switched seats and ogled fat babies. It was just so disgustingly perfect, all four of us sitting in a row with backed bleachers, Loverpants and I putting the bookends on our little treasures in the middle. I held their hands and prayed a silent prayer over and over. Gross, right?

This school year has been a satisfying one for me. For the kids, it has been much harder. There have been some mean-spirited things done to our children, and by the same token, I have complete faith in the fact that our kids have done mean-spirited things to others in return. But this year things felt a little more magnified. The safe hedge that surrounded them in years past seemed to get cropped out. Kids showed true colors. Cold shoulders jabbed from unexpected places. Silent treatments were prescribed. We talked through a lot of things and role-played more playground theatrics than I can recall.

With all the anti-bullying education that is infused into elementary ed these days, I just have to return to our sun-drenched bleacher bench above first base. I know the next years will be hard on our parent hearts as we lead little hearts toward the truth: They are eternally cherished and made for more than this world. I mean, some days/weeks/months are just going to be plain terrible, right? But our hope is that our kids will remember days like this, where it kind of didn’t matter who won or lost but that they got sick on Dippin’ Dots and too much love.

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On contradictions and bob haircuts

I am more than mid-way through my fourth year of teaching at Small Christian University in the South. In other 4 year installments in life, like high school for example, this would be the time when one would be getting fitted for a gown, sizing up the graduation platform, making plans for the next chapter.

For me, I feel as though I am just getting started. Year four has been very self-actualizing. I am better at teaching what I have to teach. I am better at anticipating questions about what I teach. I am better at knowing what I don’t know about what I teach.

Let me tell you the cool part about improvement: once you’ve improved to a certain degree, you feel like the thing you’re doing is something new. Because it is. In the past, you were doing that other thing, the mediocre thing, the thing that made you feel all bummy and ill-equipped and now you are doing it better which actually changes how you approach, tackle, reflect on that thing. Life is new even though it is basically the same. Except you sleep better and don’t dread everything and you can eat food without having acid reflux and you don’t feel on the brink of tears all the time.

God is pouring a new formula into me. The bottle is better, stronger. The ingredients are of higher quality because they’ve been distilled longer. The label still says Kendra’s Jam. But to me it tastes new and improved.

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In some ways, I am hitting my Finally Stride. Lovey and I can finally go on dates and Little Man does not go mental and thrash about and punish us for days when we leave him with another benign person. I am finally finding a rhythm at work where I can feel good about the work completed and the work yet to complete. We are finally making a dent in our loans. I am finally reading Wild.

Yet, I am also fully aware of how much finality there is in finally. We got Baby Girl’s hair cut the other day. “How are we cutting it, Mom?” asked the hairdresser. She asked how we’re cutting it, like it was a joint effort, her sheers and my master vision. I realized how this might be one of the final times I have any say-so in that cute little bob.

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I realize that in general, we are shifting altogether too rapidly from the phase of dimpled elbows and slurred letters to the full-on independent child phase. It comes in waves, noticing suddenly that their play has become more sophisticated, their desires are more long-term rather than immediate, their cares are no longer whether they got the last pack of fruit snacks but more whether or not their friend who is moving to Arizona will remember them. There is finality in their own little child infinities. Their little ends become our endings, too.

But then there are the whole new epochs of their growing up — the fun and fish ownership and new favorite things. It is all so fleeting and yet it is all so rich. How can something, this parenthood business, be all so ephemeral and yet all so meaningful? Why are the days long and the years fast?

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God, so infinite and so lofty, still continues to make all things new. He makes it all good and perfect in seven days and we burn it and hoard it and waste it and still–He makes all things new. He is in the contradictions. Alpha-ing and Omega-ing all over our final finallies. He lives and works in this busted vessel and calls it a new thing.

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