Our Magnificent “Middle”

It was one of those moments when, for a split second, I wasn’t sure what outcome I really wanted.  I was standing in the toilet aisle in Home Depot with my husband and oldest son, wondering where on earth our youngest son had gone to in the two seconds I had turned my head.  No sooner had I realized he was missing, than I looked toward the display of toilet seats to see one of them starting to rise and open, seemingly on its own.  “Dear Lord,” I silently thought to myself, “don’t even tell me…but, then again, how funny would that be?”  I kept my eyes glued to the hanging throne only to see my little son’s head peek right on out, a prideful smile plastered on his face from ear to ear.  I was horrified, yet strangely proud.  I was angry he had walked away without telling us, yet couldn’t help but quickly reach for my phone to capture the hysterical result on film before any apron-clad employees shooed my son (and his clearly neglectful parents) out the door.

Today marks twelve years of logging memories such as these with our middle son, Noah. He is, as I just reminded him yet again this morning, One. Of. A. Kind.  He is as spicy as the jalapeno’s that he will eat straight from the jar just for a snack.  He is disorganized and flighty by nature and hasn’t even the slightest understanding of the word, “hustle”.  He mirrors his father in both looks and comedic genius.  He is brilliant with the computer and his artistry is truly something to behold.  He always finds the unexpected funny and lives with a Peter Pan heart, trying desperately to hold on to his childhood and avoid the boredom that accompanies maturity.  He often takes my breath away as he insists on playing dangerously close to the line; the line dividing that which is funny and appropriate and that which is, well, one but not quite the other.  I am brought to laughter in spite of myself over and over again and seem to be lodged in a continuous tug-of-war between reigning him in and letting him be all that he is.

While Jim-Carrey-esque on the outside, on the inside, our Noah is one of those more complex creatures.  Catch him in one of his more pensive moods, and you get a glimpse inside this guy’s heart that is altogether sensitive, fragile and genuinely kind.  His feelings are most often a mystery to me and I pray earnestly for the right clues to be the mother he needs me to be.  This dark-haired, blue-eyed man teaches us much about life, how to live in the moment, maintain perspective on what is truly important, the need to break the rules (once in a while) and the importance of holding tight to a childlike heart.

Dear Noah,

It isn’t easy to find the right words to express how cherished you are.  You are not one for eloquent words or flowery phrases, so I’ll just get right to the point.  Can you imagine what it must feel like for someone to win the lottery?  The buildup to the big announcement? The pure shock and awe at the incredible odds turning out in your favor? That, my snuggly friend, is how I feel about being chosen to be your mom.  I can’t say I’ll ever feel entirely worthy of the gift I have in you, but for whatever glorious reason, God gave you to me and I am overwhelmingly grateful He did.  I don’t just love you, I downright like you; all of you, the whole package.  From the freckles that are scattered across your nose, to the way you cry when you laugh, to the qualities that test the very core of my mothering capabilities, I. Am. So. Thankful. God. Gave. Us. You.

I’d be remiss if I ended without at least mentioning Noah’s latest and greatest.  For those who may have a hard time envisioning themselves voting for the likes of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton to run our fine country, have no fear.  There is another option and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s a great one.  This candidate goes by the name of Dank Peterson. What does “dank” mean?  Literally, it means damp and musty.  In Noah terms, it somehow means “awesome”, in a random, entirely weird kind of way.  A few weeks ago, he discovered he liked the sound of the word and decided to change his name (on Instagram, anyway) to Dank Peterson.  Then came the idea of running for office.  Just a few weeks later, he has a website, a fan club and is now addressed by friends and strangers alike as Dank.  He went to school on his birthday wearing a t-shirt he himself created with his mug shot and the words, “Dank Peterson for President, 2016.”  Self-confidence is not something this child lacks.  Just yesterday he came home from school and told us someone he doesn’t even know walked by him in the hall and yelled, “Hey, Dank!”  And this is how our Noah rolls.

Your politics may be a bit shady my buddy, but you’ve got my vote….today, tomorrow and always.  Happy Birthday.     

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He called me in the morning and asked me to get up and get ready; he would be there in an hour to pick me up.  He didn’t give me any information, other than to tell me to dress warm and prepare for an adventure.  When we arrived in the heart of New York City, my mind was flooded with ideas of what our day might entail.  My earnest questioning however, was not awarded with even the slightest revelation.  He grabbed a backpack from the trunk, took my hand and off we walked through the crowded streets until we arrived at Rockefeller Center.  

We got in line for skate rentals and I finally understood our adventure would lead us out on the famous ice rink.  I was a little nervous as I laced up my skates.  I was far from an accomplished skater and was worried I’d be more of a spectacle than a fun partner.  All my fears diminished when he reached for my hand however, as I was reminded that he’d be right next to me.  Before our allotted time to skate came to an end, he brought me safely over to the side of the rink and asked me to stay put as he “wanted to do one final lap on his own.”  When he made it back to me, he took my hand again and asked if I would come out to the center of the rink with him and watch him “do a trick.”  I’d been with him long enough to know I shouldn’t question these things and happily conceded to his request.

Once we made it to the middle, he got down on one knee, pulled out a ring and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.  To this day, neither of us remember whether or not I actually said, “yes” through all my tears, but we will never forget the unexpected roar from the surrounding crowd.  Our fellow skaters and the hundreds of spectators that circled the rink applauded and hooted and hollered in excitement as my prince took my shaking hand and placed the ring on my finger.

Dear Joe,

It was on our Marriage Encounter weekend when I first heard the poem entitled, “Hands”. Although I couldn’t remember the exact wording, the beauty of the poem is something that has always stuck with me.  I can still vividly recall standing in front of one another and holding hands as this poem was read to us at the end of our marriage preparation weekend.      

These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever.

After sixteen years of marriage, I have to marvel at the blissful innocence, the charming naivety of the two people we once were.  We knew not of what was to come, but trusted wholeheartedly in the union we were creating with God, knew we were holding the hand of our best friend and the heart of our true companion.

These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future.

We’ve done a lot of “work” together over the past sixteen years.  We have put our whole selves into growing our friendship, creating a family and building one life from two.  When I stood on that altar in front of you all those years ago, I would have thought our love would surpass all need to “work” at our relationship.  I now understand that work to be a badge of honor.  You always taught me that “love is a decision”.  I’m thankful everyday that you continue to decide I’m worth the “effort” 😉

These are the hands that will love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.

When I’m holding hands with you, all is right with the world.  If even for a few quick moments, the stress around us dissipates, the demands on our time no longer matter and my restless heart finds peace.  

These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy.

We’ve seen our share of difficult times, but I’ve never felt alone in our sorrows.  Thank you for that.  I see that when I’m hurting, you are too.  Your presence alone is healing, your touch comforting, your heart wide open.     

These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children.  These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one.

Diapering, calming, feeding, cleaning, rescuing, escorting, teaching, encouraging, loving; I love watching you do it all.  Parenthood seems to have put the demands on our hands into overdrive.  I am so grateful that I can always count on you to fold your hands in prayer as we make our way down this bumpy road together.

And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch. (author unknown)