Today, we’re falling down the rabbit hole into a full-on Disney Digression.
See, my little sister says “I do” in one week and I’m all misty just thinking about it. While most siblings were playing school or house, Lins and I (and our brood of MyChilds and Cabbage Patch Kids) pretended we lived at Walt Disney World. She vowed to be married there, dreaming up a fairy tale wedding more than 3 decades ago. And, next weekend, the wish her heart made all comes true.
So, along the way, we’ve showered her with as much pixie dust as we could muster. And with the magically formidable women in the bridal party, we decided a high (read: boozy) tea in Wonderland was perfect for our princess’s shower.
When you’re mad, hats are just what you need to get in the right head space.
And white doors are begging to dress up as cards. Hearts are a sweet touch. Bonus if you can work in the wedding day or month (Her wedding day is 9/9).
Decks of cards make whimsical garlands and decorations. Just throw them about, all topsy-turvy like.
That’s the shine of wonderland. There’s beauty in chaos and splendor in the higgledy-piggledy. Tea calls for tea roses, right? And they’re even lovelier upside down.
We filled tea cups and tea pots with flowers, straws, candies. Anything but tea, really. Because the secret-recipe sangria was a teense more refreshing.
What kinds of yummy for guests’ tummies? Sammies made with love, chessmen cookies and roses (as they’re being painted red). Drink me. Eat me. Yes, please.
It wouldn’t be Wonderland without a few harebrained games. We invited guests to leave the newlyweds their key to a happy marriage. Date night advice. Then we matched a few Disney love songs to their movies.
And a wonderland flower went home with everyone as a token of the golden afternoon, by way of a teacup.
Hats (errr, fascinators) off to a beautiful bride, the earth’s best bridesmaids and a magical ever after.
It first happened in our upstairs hall last summer while I sorted school supplies into two piles. One for the big one and one for the little one.
I had given Tucker, capable, soon-to-be fifth grader, a Sharpie to label all of his notebooks and folders. But I wrote Case Adams in the other folders myself, in perfect Momma script. I was four deep before he stopped me.
Can I write my name?
Of course you can, I said, even though I really, really wanted to finish. Why? Labeling your child’s things is so parental. It means you’re in control. It means they need you.
I’ve never written with a Sharpie before, he said, giddy and sliding onto his belly to form each letter in permanent black.
He was ready and I missed it.
I missed it because I was all consumed in Tucker’s lasts. His last year of elementary school. Their last year together for years. The last bit of little. I’d been devouring blogs, wallowing in other mothers’ weepiness. Stories about moms who couldn’t remember the last time they’d washed their kid’s hair for them. And, alarmed, I realized that I couldn’t either.
Lost in the middle of the rewind, I was fast-forwarding through the now.
I used to be aware of their heaviness when I carried them upstairs to bed. I don’t carry them anymore. I don’t help them get dressed.
I do still help with the hair. Y’all. I have to.
And, though it’s been country miles from perfect, I’m aware of a shift to first.
Shifting to first. Just as there’s only one last, there’s only one first. They’re easier to miss because you don’t see them coming. Instead of mourning what you had, it’s a shift into relishing what you have. We have fragile, incomparable life springing up, always. And it’s so sweet to catch.
Like the first time a gnarly man stink smacks you in the face; it’s coming from your boy and that sweet swing-set sweat is long gone.
The first time he asks for Axe instead of that unscented organic stuff you bought for him. Wait. What?
A pimply nose pops up in place of a stuffy one.
Baseball cups replace sippie cups. There one sits, on your kitchen counter! The horror! The ew! And you want to scold, because this is certainly not the place to leave it, but you stop, awestruck. No way this type of cup is really necessary?!
Then there’s the first time they defy a life-long fear and ride a thrill, seemingly on whim. And you wonder: how long have they been tinkering with that in their brain?
The first time they peck at keys, typing a report. And the project is their vision, not yours.
The first time they realize I don’t know everything. The first time they challenge me with their eyes, then their anger, then their words.
The first time they come to your rescue. You mess up, they cup your cheek with their growing hand and they tell you it’s okay.
The first time the little one prays for his big brother, out loud, through a toothless lisp, “on our journey to goodness.”
The first time you hear them chatting after midnight, serious conversations about God, girls and Clash Royale between bunks, and you realize that, though they’re made to share a room, they’re choosing to be friends.
A few weeks ago, we drove up to South Carolina to see Jeff’s dad, host to a legion of cancer. Though I never dared let my worry speak out loud, it was a farewell trip.
I know the exact minute it hit me that this could be the last time we’d see him. The truth flickered across my murky brain and seized my gut.
And the moment felt empty. Inadequate. There we sat, in quiet panic, blinking, dumb, circled up in the living room. We didn’t know what to say.
In the middle of that too-still last was the first time I saw my child’s full heart. Tucker climbed up on the couch next to his Gamps and laced his 10-year-old fingers between the cool 67-year-old hand.
In the Venn diagram of fear and the unknown, our boy laced them together with hope.
Days before he died, he gave our sons, his grandsons, a copy of THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN. He wrote this note, in a permanent black:
This from a soul who was a conductor of adventure, vitality and faith, a living example of being ever-present: in his last message, he was encouraging them to shift into first.
I’m just Mindy. It’s not short for anything. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s me. So, what else would I choose?
Well, you know I have to go to my Disney sisters first. Belle, Ariel and Aurora all have meaningful monikers, but they sound a little too prissy-Mc-princess pants for me. Esmeralda is lovely, especially for a hopeless wanderer, but the name is kind of a fluffy-bunny mouthful, right?
I could almost be on board with Merida, especially the way her mother says it.
But it’s not quite right. So, let’s go to literature. Desdemona, Isolde and Cressida promise epic beauty and drama that is so not real life. Elizabeth Bennet has always been one of my best loved characters and I’m drawn to Beth (for short). Short is apropos. And doesn’t Beth sound like a sweet, rock-steady soul?
I’ve also always loved Cara, Irish for “friend”, and Cora. Then there’s Eva, “life” in German. Or Teagan; this gem means “little poet” in Australia. Who wouldn’t want to be called that?
I’ll stick with Mindy/Mommy/Mo-om! for now. What about you? Is there another name you’d choose for you? Have you ever gifted a name with winsome meaning?
I. Dance. In this house, we all dance. It’s a law.
When the kids are mopey or grumpy gills, I tell them to shake out all of their ya yas. We dance in the grocery store. We dance in the car (Sit-dancing is an art. We should make it an Olympic sport.). Even Jeff’s shoulders will shimmy & shrug when the sillies strike.
When I dance, I feel like this:
And I probably look like this:
You can dance & laugh, dance & smooch, dance & happy cry. But you can’t dance & stress or dance & snarl or dance & argue.
Happy magnets flood your muscles, pushing and pulling joy on through.
What do you think? What do you do when you’re down?
My teensy Thanksgiving chair is in serious need of a warm up. I can’t remember the last time I sat still in gratitude. So, today’s the day. I’m settling in my chair, thankful for all of the friends who keep my heart cozy.
My husband Jeff wasn’t a runner when he registered for a marathon. I’m thankful for the friend who bet him to do it–and then coached him through the training and doubt and nipple stickers.
I’m thankful for my friend who followed Jeff’s race progress from across the country, grounded me in goodness and then video-chatted with a Texas-sized toast after he crossed the finish line.
I’m grateful for the friends who believe in starting bus sing-a-longs, post-midnight pajama dance parties and sangria breakfasts.
And what about the friends who notice things and, in a single snapshot, capture the best bits of your kiddos? Your favorite little pieces of life: boy fingernails, fresh freckles, untamed hair, airborne feet.
There are friends who are fountains, not drains. Friends who put your furniture in their truck and drive all the way out to the burbs for you. Friends who know what to say and when to pray. I’m so grateful for them today.
Any Needtobreathe tune. These gritty Southern ditties will feed your brain and rock your soul.
Boyz II Men’s Water Runs Dry. I know the step-snap choreography by heart and I’m not scared to use it.
The Nutcracker score has always put a twinkle in my toes, especially the haunting arches of The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. And a 2016 holiday remix of the piece composed a new magic that left me starstruck.
ANY Disney melody is an instant transport to my happy place. From movies to parades to attractions, they all make me cheese and wish for great big beautiful tomorrows.
The Harry Potter theme song illuminates all the fun our family has had getting sorted and launching our patronus charms into the universe.
But the songs that make me the happiest are the lullabies Tucker makes up for his little brother, when he thinks no one else is listening. The just off-key, just-right compositions that lull a busy little mind to sleep. Le sigh.
Of course I’d like to weigh less, stress less and screw up less. But, I’m kinda done with counting pounds like counting coins, done with the bitter way guilt ruins my favorite chocolate, done with equating everyone else’s triumphs to personal failures.
Instead, in 2017, I will eat more bacon. I’m already off to a brilliant start. And, sure, I’m going to run a little, too.
I want to be a difference maker (who doesn’t?) so, since Jan. 1, I’ve made my bed every. single. day. Game changer.
I’m going to write more. Even if it means posting a Table Topic Tuesday on a Wednesday.
I want to hug more. Some of you may crave personal dance space, but hugging is my love language. And there’s not much a hug can’t solve or soften. I’ve read to never unfold from a hug first; you never know how much the other person needs it. What a beautiful thing to practice.
In 2017, there’s a promise for more magic.
And I’m praying to be a better partner: at work, by my sister’s side and for my husband.
More than anything this year, I want to shift into first. Stay tuned for more on that.
My friend Natalie has 2017 goals, too:
For reals for reals…I want to stick with my blog. (Suprise! It’s the goal of every writer who has ever started a blog.) At least one post a week. Must write something other than ads.