Sunday, May 26, 2013

Punks need not apply.

My sister-friend Tanya has this saying that always makes me smile. She says, with a hand on her hip and a saucy curl of her lips, "Marriage (and parenting) ain't for no punks." And whenever she says that, I laugh out loud at the way she has perfectly distilled this simple truth down to just a few words.


I will admit that mostly, the marriage part hasn't been the biggest conundrum for me. At least, not so far.  But geeze. I hear Tanya in my ear often when it comes to the parenting thing. I find myself shaking my head while folding up a basket of laundry or reading an email from a teacher or paying for whatever sport-of-the-week we're on saying, "Damn, this being a mama thing ain't for no punks."

And when I'm in the thick of it, the throws of it, that's when I really get what Tanya meant by that. Not punks as in punk-rockers or whatever other thing you think of when you hear that word. But punks as in weak, excuse-laden, lily-livered, milquetoast types that tremble like gelatin under pressure. Yeah, so I get what she was saying because parenting (and marriage) require a crap-ton of compromises, hard decisions, sacrifices, and suck-it-ups--none of which are for punks.

Unnnnh uhhh.

Parenting kind of stresses me out sometimes. Okay, not to the point of pulling out my hair and refusing to let my kids out of my sight. . . but still. It does. Sometimes it does in those "big picture" ways like hoping my kids are confident and filled with enough love for themselves and humankind to make good decisions and treat people well. Especially themselves. And I hope that me rushing them in the mornings or scolding them or being frustrated sometimes (okay, a lot of times) isn't damaging. So I lay in bed and pray things like, "Okay, God, can You just keep all of the good things I'm doing and chunk all the bad things? Thanks." And I'm serious, this is a prayer I say often, almost verbatim. I also say things like, "Protect my kids from monsters, especially the monster in me." And I say that because I mean it and because we are all a little broken in our own ways. So those monsters can come out sometimes to hurt more than just ourselves.

At least that's what I think.

Then there are the little things. Like whether or not my approach to my reluctant reader Isaiah is all wrong or even smaller than that like whether or not I have a solid plan to escape the house with my kids in the event of a real, true emergency. And, of course, I think these things only at 2 AM because this is the very best and most intrusive time to do so. So, in order to fall asleep, I just pray for some protection and for the God I believe in to help me to get it all right.

I'm rambling. I know. But I'm just thinking this morning. Thinking about how parenting ain't for no punks. Thinking about how once you get older there is so much to sift through and how hard this must have been for my parents. I am pondering it all and giving them mad props for what they did with us and feeling glad for their involvement in this round two but still realizing that Tanya is right, even with the help of grandparents, it still ain't for no punks. It ain't. 

Here's the other hard part. If you're lucky, you grew up with amazing parents like I did who provide you ready counsel and assistance with your own children. But ultimately, you have to decide what to do based upon your own judgement and gut and opinion. And, for me, this gets very hard because I deeply, deeply trust and value the opinions of my parents. But. . . . those same parents raised me to also seek and trust my own. Does this even make sense? I don't know if it does, so forgive me. I guess I'm just saying that this ain't for punks.

My guess is that when they raised us, it wasn't back then either.

The other day, Isaiah was sitting at the table reading a book. It was bumpy and he was whiny and I was frustrated. He's a bright boy and a proficient reader but prefers not to do it. And I reminded him that, like Auntie Deanna always said, "Readers are leaders, dude." And he looked at me and twisted his face into the saddest face I've seen in a very, very long time. He said, "I wish so, so bad that my auntie had just stayed a little bit longer." Then he just cried. A perfectly innocent eight year-old cry.

"I miss her, too," I replied.

"There is just stuff I want to talk to her about with school. Just a lot of stuff." And when I asked him what stuff, he said it was little stuff mostly but the kind of stuff he always talked to her about after school. And I got that because most of what I wish I could talk to her about is little, too.

But when it stacks all up, it feels big.

"Last night, I was missing her and cried until I fell asleep. I think of Auntie every single day. Every single day." And he was weeping when he said that. Hard. Getting it out of his little head and into the atmosphere.

"Me, too."

"And now I'm better in chess, Mom. And we could have played and I might have beat her now. I just wish she didn't die."

And what do you say to that? You tell me what do you say? So I just hugged him and listened as he told me a few of the things that he wished he could tell my sister. And, I swear to you, I wished equally as badly that he could, too.

He sat on my lap and I told him that we were lucky to know her so well so we could probably imagine together what she would have to say. And he seemed to like that, so we did. We did just that. And it was okay but still kind of tough. And the kind of thing that definitely wasn't for no punk.


The time thing with kids? The building confidence thing and the discipline thing? The school thing with kids? Damn, it ain't for no punks. Man, it ain't.

But Harry and I slug it out. We do. And thank goodness we are at least equipped with some self worth and love for each other which puts us ahead of a lot of folks. This part I know. And I also know that getting the chance to do this is huge and I wouldn't trade it for anything. But it's just that I am recognizing the enormity of being trusted with raising up little human beings into whole people.


So I'm just thinking. Hoping and praying that the good things stick and the monster inside of me is kept under wraps. And please don't worry because I am loving it all yet trying to be intentional enough to get most of it right. Yeah. So I'm thinking about all of this today, but mostly I'm just agreeing with Tanya that this "being a grown-up" thing--which may or may not include marriage and parenting for some but does for me--ain't for no punks.

No, it ain't. 

Happy Sunday.


  1. Man. Your conversation with Isaiah just touched my heart. I just said a prayer that the Lord will ease his pain. I love the way he so eloquently expressed what he was feeling (wonder where he gets that from :). Such a sweet soul.

    I struggle with those 2 am, 5 am, 11 am, worries and thoughts too. I love your prayer about protecting them from the monsters in the world and the monster in me. Thanks for that and Happy Sunday!

    1. Hey Stace. Girl, you know how much I appreciate knowing that you have my sweet baby's name on your lips. So thanks for that.

      And those middle o' the night worries. Sigh. What do you do? Yesterday it was me wondering if I'd tested the smoke detectors. And whether or not they were in an appropriate place. And whether or not the key to the back door, which would be our escape route, was handy. Ha ha. It wasn't. Fortunately, I fell asleep before I could coach myself to get our of bed to go and put the keys on my nightstand.

  2. Hey sis, can I piggyback this?

    1. Absolutely. You can piggyback on my crazy anytime.

  3. Well put. All of what you just said. My eyes are still wet from reading about the conversation with Isaiah.

    I can tell you and Harry are kickass parents. And 15 years from now you're going to see just what you did and be like "damn we are good". I am seeing this right now with mine that just finished her first year of college. You realize all of your work helped shaped an amazing person. And those things that make your heart swell with pride now when they are young keep coming.

    1. Thanks, Jill. I love hearing these words of encouragement from those with older children.

  4. You're doing great. It's clear as day. The fact that your sweet Isaiah could express what he was feeling so fully, and be so supported, is part of it. Go back and look at all these pictures, at how whole and bright your boys look in them. Go back and read your posts about your sons. And don't fret that you'll keep thinking about them the way you do at 2 a.m. You just will, because they matter more than anything. And you're no punk.

    1. They do matter, Angella. They so, so do. Thank you, sister. I am very inspired by your motherhood walk.

  5. Now that I've got the houseful of teenagers and almost-teenagers, we're going to have to come up for a word that's one up from "punks" 'cause it's pretty outrageous. Talk about CRAZY.

    1. You are all that when it comes to being a mama. I think you're right. We need another word that's one up for the H-O-S household. :)

  6. I completely understand where you are coming from. And I'm not sure if it is just me or the fact that I am an 'older' parent or just that I have at this stage of my life/experience I have the 'luxury' to obsess over things like raising kids. This life is no joke.

  7. Good God, woman. This one is full of The Truth (and yes, they all are, but this one- Big Truths) and no, it ain't easy. Never, ever, ever, except those sweet perfect moments when it is and thank goodness those moments come around too. Rare though they may be.
    And guess what? It NEVER ends. And if you ask your mama and your daddy, I'll bet they would tell you that when the grands arrive, a whole different sort of the same story begins.
    But what can we do? This is why we're here. And we do the best we can. And we hope (and some of us pray) that that is enough. And mostly it works out.

    1. That's real talk. My mom and dad say the grandparenting thing is exponentially more love-filled but also the worry is higher, too. I see that it never ends. The worry, but especially the love.

  8. Oh my. Your post made me cry again. Your sweet boy and his tears for his Auntie are heartbreaking. There's no easy way to explain the hard things to our kids, the unfair stuff. But you did good. This job ain't for punks, it's hard stuff. That part about keeping them safe from monsters, especially the monster in me - that got to me, because I have my moments that make me wish I was a better person. I don't want to be so human and broken sometimes, and I guess all we can do is our best and apologize and hug when we've done our worst. And try not to worry so much, especially in the wee hours. And try to fill the holes left by those who've left us too soon. You're doing fine, mama, you are.

  9. Wow. This is real for me and right on time. Thing is, I read your blogs and think...great parents, great kids, great extended family. Y'all make it look soooo easy. How could it NOT be when everybody is great? Hard not to take a look at my own family and compare. But this was super real for me because I related to every last frustration you wrote about.

    What I learned? Nobody really has it easy, some of us have just learned to appreciate what we have, cherish every moment, and keep on lovin' and livin'...and not be a punk about it!

    Your words really feed people's spirit. You're like an angel on Earth fa real.


  10. Seems to me like you're doing quite an amazing job :)

    Maria, fellow Meharrian


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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