When I was twenty-two, I packed up everything I owned, and
drove my mom drove me to the big city. I had enough money for one month without a job….until my roommate bailed to shack up with her boyfriend and I had enough money for zero days without a job. I went to get a haircut….like I always do when I’m losing my mind. Oh, and then September 11th happened….and I stayed in bed for two days straight. While I was getting my haircut, though, the hairdresser told me about a job opening at a pretty famous downtown hotel. I’d been in a similar line of work for a few years, and thought it sounded like the perfect job for me.
My job consisted of squeaking the phrase, “It’s my pleasure to connect you!” before pushing a button to transfer the call to another line. It sounds easy enough, now that I think about it. But there were hundreds of buttons and a lot of calls. Add to that the fact that if one were to, say, change up the script a bit to avoid complete mental break down, one might just get a dirty look from the gal in charge. During my break, I’d put my head in my hands and I’d cry.
After my third day on the job, walking home in tears for the third time (which, sadly, doesn’t make you stand out all that much in downtown Denver), I decided that life was too short to do something I hated….especially during what was supposed to be the highlight of my single life. I quit the job over the phone, and I never picked up my undeserved paycheck. Then I walked down to the mall to get a Chicago style hot dog, and I grabbed a job at a clothing store while I was at it.
After a few months at the clothing store, and watching the shoe shine girls through my front window, I was approached by one of them and asked if I wanted
to join their cult a job. I said ‘no’ until I found out how much they were making. Then I said, ‘Heck yes!’ and I embarked on a six month journey that not only paid my downtown bills but will for the rest of my life make me smile.
It was hard work. I’d challenge just about anyone to an arm wrestling match during that time. I didn’t like wearing gloves because I took the detail work very seriously, so I scrubbed my hands with bleach and water every night. I loved it, though. I loved it when a guy would sit down just because he thought I was cute and then yell out, “Oh my gosh! My shoes didn’t look that good when they were new!!” when I was done. I lit the wax on fire and snapped the buffing rag as well as the sixty-year old man on the corner. Some said I was better, but I’m not gonna brag. I couldn’t walk down the street without hearing, “Hey, it’s the shoe shine girl!” I briefly considered changing my name.
I still carry around my heavy shoe shine kit….from place to place when we move. “Maybe someday,” I say, “I’ll find a use for it again.” But the truth is, probably, that I just enjoy the memories too much to let go.
Did you ever have a job like that? What’s the strangest [legal] thing you ever did for a dollar?
When I was in the second grade (or somewhere around there), I had a crush on the little boy that lived behind us. His name was Kelly and he had a younger brother that knew I liked him (and loved to rub it in). I think that’s a lot of drama for an eight year old. But I have two five year old girls who are already sure they know who they’re going to marry (thank goodness they each chose a different brother from my BFF’s sons). Tiny Dancer has picked out a $14,000 wedding dress (thank you, TLC). But she says that she doesn’t have to have it because as long as her and Hudson are together, she’ll be happy. Apparently, Hudson is equally sure of their fate. But I don’t think he’s lying awake at night talking about her. Just guessing.
I love that I know about my kids’ crushes. I love that we can lie side-by-side and lay down the ground rules about, “No-way-Jose kissing until you’re a grown up and Mommy and Daddy think you’re ready to get married.” We live in a sexualized and romanticized culture, and that’s just all there is to it. Their cousin came home talking about kissing after the very first day of Kindergarten. There is no bubble small enough to vacuum seal them from the world. And I wouldn’t want to stuff them in it if there was.
I’ve been afraid, basically since my first pregnancy, that I wouldn’t know how to talk to my kids about crushes or kissing or sex. I never could figure out how to talk to my parents about that all important area of life. It probably had something to do with being the only girl. But I’m so glad that my silly babies don’t share my communication issues. I’m feeling a whole lot better about having five teenagers someday….now that we’re off to a good start.
What’s the scariest thing about parenting to you? What’s your plan (if you have one) for crossing that bridge?
Tonight, with our rotisserie chicken that we picked up from the store, we had my favorite baked mac ‘n’ cheese….the grown up version. I was gonna call it “adult,” but then I thought I might as well add three Xs. It is a little spicy. But it’s also family friendly.
First, finely chop one jalapeno and one small onion. I wanted the flavor of the jalapeno more than the heat, so I deveined mine before I chopped it.
With butter in a hot skillet, saute the onion and jalapeno until tender. Then add four [more] tablespoons of butter and cook the “raw” out of two tablespoons of flour.
To the roux (fat and flour), slowly whisk in three cups of milk. Once your bechamel (fat, flour and milk) has reached a boil, lower the heat and season with two teaspoons of cayenne pepper sauce (for mild), one teaspoon of garlic powder, one teaspoon of parsley (more if fresh), one and a half teaspoons of salt, three-quarters of a pound of shredded sharp cheddar and a half cup of Parmesan cheese.
Under cook three cups of dried macaroni noodles (2 1/2 for creamier) and quick rinse them under cold water. Once thoroughly drained, stir the noodles into the hot cheese sauce and pour the mixture into a buttered casserole dish or nine by thirteen pan.
Bake the macaroni @ 400 degrees for 10 minutes, and then brown under the broiler before serving.
In the past four months, all four of the big kids have accepted Jesus as their lifelong, heart-mind-and-body Savior. This has all taken place while Papa Bear has been away. My journey with Jesus began when I was four years old, but I’ve never been particularly eager to have them began their walk so young. Maybe that’s because I have a difficult time remembering the details of my experience. Or, maybe it’s just because I don’t have any worry about their souls being safely held and protected at this age. Whatever the reason, Papa Bear and I have just talked about Jesus. We’ve explained theology and publicly repented as a purposed lifestyle lived out for our children, but we’ve never said, “Are you ready to receive Jesus?” We’ve just waited for the day they would ask. And while I’m rejoicing in four new souls being added to that eternal Kingdom, the timing has broken my heart. Their daddy and I have toiled together to plant Jesus in the rich soil of their hearts. It’s a bittersweet experience to reap alone.
The three girls made the decision within just a week or two of each other. Lil Prince seemed completely disinterested; and I was, to be perfectly honest, glad. I thought it’d be special for our first-born son to pray with Daddy. Just a few days ago, during school time, though, Lil Prince said something that required a response. “I can’t pay attention,” he said. “I can’t because I’m not a Christian.”
“Do you want to become a Christian?” I whispered.
“Yes,” he nodded. “But I don’t want to be dunked in water.”
“Well, honey, Jesus tells us to be baptized. But when you do that will be your decision.”
“OK,” he perked. “I want to be a Christian!”
And, so I began to pray. What I’ve prayed has sounded different with each child, but the basics are of course the same. We welcomed the Holy Spirit to fill his person and empower him to serve the Lord. We thanked Jesus for His gift on the cross, and we claimed it for all of his sins. I think it was then that he stopped mumbling and started screaming the prayer. He’s become an emboldened little saint, and he now screams whenever he prays! I’m not sure I’ve ever witnessed a more powerful or sincere salvation experience. I know I’ve never been moved as deeply. And when we were done, he hollered to raise the roof, “Now I want to be dunked in water!!” Apparently, some fear deliverance was happening too. Ha.
Since Tuesday, about twelve times a day, he hugs my legs and says, “I am so glad I’m a Christian!” So I asked him if he’d like to tell all of you….
Apparently, the term “single mom,” when applied to me, makes me throw up a little in my mouth. It’s been two months since my husband left, and I still reach for him in the middle of the night. I still think he’s coming home at five o’clock. And while I do believe that he will, in time. The fact is that, right now, he’s not here. And it sucks.
On a less pathetic note, life’s decisions, big and small, are falling on me and me alone. In the spirit of “helping,” many have suggested that I put the older kids in school and get a job. And while I’m not going to pretend that the thought has never crossed my mind, I’ve known what I wanted from motherhood for far too long to allow another person’s decisions to steal those dreams. And so I’m working, late and grueling hours, to ensure that our lives change as little as possible. I’ve gone back to freelance writing. My fun writing, my blogging, may suffer.
I’ve also made a decision about moving….and I’m not. Well, I do have to move from this cabin before April 1st, but I’m not going to leave these mountains. I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but I’m standing in a spot that is directly beneath God’s bucket. He’s pouring His blessing out on me and my children, and I pretty much have to take that as a sign. When and if the cloud moves, I’ll pick up my babies and I’ll chase it. But for now, we’re staying put. And there’s the peace.
I’d better pour another cup of coffee and get to work. I pray you’re all warm and fed tonight, and that you know just how deeply you are loved by God.
in on the *ahem* very, very shallow and thickly frozen* river.
And had a snack.
And listened to the water running under our feet.
And drew family portraits.
And now we’re inside getting warm.