I Will Never Judge a Mom Again…

(At least not for a while!)

This is it, right?

This is it, right?

Last night, I baby sat a kid…and I liked it!  Kind of.  But I will tell you, that baby-sitting someone else’s child when you are at the “I could have babies” phase of your life is really different than when you’re 13.  Here’s what happened, some of the thoughts it stirred, and why I have so much compassion for mothers everywhere.

In order to protect the innocent, I shall simply say that a small child of about 3 ended up in my house unexpectedly last night.  I was expecting a house full of men, had planned to finish my cleaning, and retreat to my girl friend’s for a round of dress-up before the ball next week, (another story for another time – but don’t I sound just like Cinderella?)  As I was walking out the door with a pile of gowns in my arms, one of the boys greeted me with, “Morgen, thank you so much for letting us come over, and all this…. ”  Sure, of course” I replied good-naturedly.  I did honestly enjoy having a full house.  He continued, “and the kid too, I’m sorry, I totally didn’t know about that til last minute”,  “Oh, ok…” I was trying to nod and smile and look around…then I was made aware of a short, sweet presence as a smiling creature with cocoa skin and short, tight, black hair waddled down the hall with the person watching him who had came to visit my husband…and of course, several more guys arrived and the house filled with barking dogs, cooking in the kitchen, and rioters laughter as they laughed at their own jokes.

I sprang into “mommy-mode” and separated the “scary dogs” – the big one went outside, the little one went to the bedroom, and once the “nice kitty” realized what was afoot, she insisted on bedroom sanctuary as well.

This COULD have happened I feel...

This COULD have happened I feel…

Ed and I locked eyes over the heads of our guests as I took the little one by the hand, (his care-giver was the chef for the evening and already engaged in the giving of orders to the others with a pot in each hand).  Ed voiced my thoughts aloud, “we….don’t have any toys do we?”  The little one had apparently come with a juice box, swim trunks, and that was it.  Some assembly required?  I found 2 picture books in our book-case, Ed stole a little-used stuffed toy from the dog box, and I sat the baby down in the living room with these meger offerings.  He was thrilled with the books, but of course, wanted me to stay and read them.  I explained I would be back soon, and with a last lingering glance at our wedding goblets perched toddler-eye-level, and blowing out a candle as I past, I gathered up my garments again, and called into the kitchen, “I’m leaving for an hour – I expect the house standing, dinner made, and the kid alive when I return!”  My decree was met with gafaws and more jokes.  I rolled my eyes and retreated hastily to keep my appointment.

Dresses are fun, and girl-friends are funner, and I had a great time talking hair and nails with my gal pal…just like the old sorority days!  Our husbands are in the same company, and there was a small military ball thing the following weekend. So we discussed how best to allocate resources – she was most concerned with nails and hitting the gym, I was thinking my hair needed a touch up but I would do my own nails, and yes a few good work-outs for those shoulders was in the cards.  We traded some dresses and and shoe options, agreed we would not spend money on either, for something like this, not worth something new.  I left feeling like I had a plan, and was happy to hurry along so she could get back to a relaxing night with her hubby, and I could embrace the chaos at home.

Well, sure enough, the men were all loudly saving the world around the dining table with quite a feast prepared and pouring out of every pot and pan I had!  They seemed to be taking care of themselves just fine, nothing seemed to be out of order.  Perfect, my symptoms had been flaring all weekend, and I was looking forward to laying down and cooling off…but then there was the little one…with no one paying him much attention, just quietly looking on.  Oh come on!  He was just so precious!  So of course, I sucked it up, and tried to entertian him as best I could.  I tried to feed him, (he was not impressed with the offerings and demanded cookies that we didn’t have), I took him outside to read, but then he told me “I have to pee”, and before I could take his little hand he had stood up on the chair and let it fly.  Whelp, that was something I hadn’t seen before.

I doubt caution tape would actually do anything...

I doubt caution tape would actually do anything…

After clean-up and changing into the afore mentioned swim trunks, I returned to where I’d left my dinner, only to find two of the guys explaining that the “big dog” had gotten in and eaten the food, and what used to be the bowl was in the garbage. Ah well, I didn’t like those bowls anyway.  I grabbed an apple and my new little friend, and took him for a walk around the neighborhood, while he pointed out bugs and was scared by a duck. He had peed in his shoes, so I alternated between having him walk and carrying him where the ground seemed rough. When we – or at least I – was sufficiently tired, we headed home and retreated to the office.  Now, here is the turning point.  I said I wasn’t going to be one of “those moms”, and Ed is constantly annoyed when he hears about people plugging their kids into a show…but my friends…sometimes…you just need a break. So I logged into Amazon, and after questioning the young lad, we choose Madagascar, and I plunked him in front of the computer, (we don’t even have a tv).  I also gave him a pile of fake gold pirate coins we had left over from a party thinking that would keep his hands busy, and an old derby hat from a past costume which he immediately loved!  This all seemed to be working, so I escaped to the yard to clean up the chair…but when I came back inside it was “potty time” again.  “Oh good!” I praised, he’s telling me this time.  Only to discover that again, it had already happened, and the shorts were wet and so was the carpet.

Me in 20 years

Me in 20 years

I cleaned everything up as best I could, threw his shorts in the dryer, and sat him bare-bottomed again in front of the movie, and helped myself to a glass of the wine the boys had left in the kitchen.  Yes, I did, and I’m not ashamed!!  But as I sat there sipping, and contemplating, I wondered – what is this kid’s life like on a normal day?  He certainly doesn’t seem to bothered by everything going on around him.  He took to me quick enough, he would beat me and call me daddy with a smile when he needed something…so maybe he’s used to different people around?  Not too shy, but not too chatty…what if we adopt a kid this age?  How much of an impact does that former life have on them?  Would they really grow to love you as a parent in that special way?  Would I grow to truly see them as my own?  Ed thinks we will adopt one day, and I’ve always wanted too…but I know it’s a difficult process.  We’ll just have to wait and see what God does in our lives.  I have to get my health sorted out a little better first – that’s for sure.

Back to my little friend – his dad was his normal care-giver, but was at a funeral for a relative who had been killed in a drive-by last week.  I wondered if his mom was around too. I know there are many ways to make a family, and I know it often takes  a village – and there should be a community involved in taking care of a child.  But at the end of the day, I just don’t think anything can quite replace the balance of a loving mom and dad working as partners to give guidance, fun, wisdom, admonishment, insight, and un-selfish love to their little person. I get it – life happens, and we have to make the best of it.  And I truly believe that God can redeem any situation if we let Him.  But I also think that kids need – and actually deserve – a lot more intentionality from their parents then they often receive.  It’s too bad that we’ve often made life so complex that it takes parents away from their children so often, and we try to make it cool, or fine, or more socially acceptable for kids to be raised by the system, or TV, or themselves, or friends…but those things should just be there once in a while when we need them.  Our society should be doing more to support parents having healthy babies, healthy relationships with each other, and actually planning and enjoying being a family the best way they can.

Moms – to you a raise my glass.  Dads who stuck around – for the kid, and the crazy momma – I give you a pat on the back.  You are both heros in my book, and deserve all the support we can give you.  This next generation depends on it.

~ Morgen

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If Only Skin Showed the Heart

Gettin' a lil brown sugar...

“Beauty is only skin deep, but Love is as fathomless as the sea”

I was listening to a comedian today talking about “inter-racial couples”, how he didn’t love it when people referred to him (black), and his wife (Japanese) with that term.  To him, she was just “her, my wife, and beautiful.”  He went on to cite some other stereo-typical things people say when a couple has different racial backgrounds.  Here’s what’s hysterical…I’ve heard them all referring to us! They aren’t even all bad things, for instance, he mentioned how strangers will say, “you’ll have such beautiful babies!”  Now, I love hearing that – and people do say that often which is so kind!  However, I always think of it as just because my hubby is so good looking, and I have such awesome hair, that is just has to be true.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t be willing to even consider pregnancy. I digress…

Love feels the same in every color...

Love feels the same in every color…

This post is about how I’ve found Race to be proof that Beauty is Skin Deep.  Now, I’m not an anthropologist, I grew up in a “privileged culture”, so don’t attack me with all the other implication of race, I know.  But dating and marrying a partner darker than me has taught me: until we know someone, we see race, once we know them, we see soul.  And maybe what we see on the outside isn’t what the world would typically deem “beautiful”, but my theory is that anyone can look “beautiful” by the worlds standards with a little worldly help – make up, hair product, clothes, lighting, etc.  Every reality make-over show has taught us that.  But do those people change on the inside during that process?  Enough so that they carry a new attitude or world-view into the rest of their life?  We can hope so.

Let’s talk about Love.  Love covers a multitude of sins doesn’t it?  Once you’ve fallen in love with someone, it’s hard to see their faults.  Even on the bad days, you leave the house, start to miss them, remember how great they’ve made your life, and before you know it, you’re calling to tell them all those things!  Now, sometimes, as you get to know someone, you find they are hard to love.  That’s legit, sometimes personalities just don’t mesh well, or you are working at cross-purposes in the world, I submit to you that if you kept getting to know someone, you’d like them more and more, because you would be able to walk a mile in their shoes.  The movie “Ender’s Game” sums it up really well,

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them…. I destroy them.”
― Orson Scott CardEnder’s Game

What power there is in understanding….and courage in loving anyway.  In choosing not to focus on detrimental flaws, but on encouraging a individual’s strengths and making space for them in our lives.  Sigh.  Love is truly so enduring, and beauty is really so fleeting.  I will give you just a quick summation of how I see this in my marriage:   When I first started dating my hubby, a friends mother saw his picture on Facebook and asked me about the “nice African American man” I was seeing.  (Ed has not a drop of African, or Mexican which is another common mistake).  Another reminder of our difference came when a friend innocently asked about a gift for his sister, “I’ve never met her, so I don’t know what color to get…is she as dark as he is?”  I laughed so hard because I just always thought of him as having a nice tan, and when people ask him his background, his says “British” – he was born there and still carries duel citizenship.  Because we’ve both lived and traveled in Europe, I think of us as “citizens of the world”, rather than a “bi-racial couple”, and that means something to us.

Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight...

Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight…

What brought all of this home when I heard the comedian today was this discussion with my Love the other night.  I said, “hey honey, let’s go visit this community and just check it out!”  He replied, “Babe, I don’t think we’d be welcome there.”  I laughed, not on the same page, “haha, yes, we are a little bit loud and crazy from them”, and he smiled and my mis-understanding, “no my love, I mean because of me, I don’t think they are used to people like me”, I still didn’t get it.  Because he’s so passionate?  Patriotic?  A solider?  Finally the light went on, “oh…because you’re darker than me?”  He nodded, still smiling, “it’s ok baby love, we can still go if you want to.”  I mean woah!  I am so quick to forget that he feels like he stands out, because even in the military there were fine lines of light and dark in certain rooms.  In my eyes, he is Edward, my love, my husband, a man of faith and integrity, the most kind and compassionate person I know.  How quickly that skin-deep beauty fades in the eyes of love. ❤

P.S.  If you’re still curious:  Ed’s mother’s family is from Guyana, his father’s family are from Poland.  So he’s a little bit Indian…but I’m also part Native American, so we’re both super ethnic.