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Better than Okay

July 1, 2017

And just like that, I can breathe again!  Maybe – If I ever wake up, that is.  I have been absolutely exhausted all week long.  I think it’s post-wedding let-down.  I was operating on adrenaline for a few days (weeks) there.  I knew that was going on because I had to use Advil PM for about 5 nights straight over the last week because I could not shut my brain off!  But now, I have no problem sleeping – I just can’t get enough of it!

So, yes – the wedding is over.  I have married off my firstborn child.  And I survived.  I did more than survive the event.  I enjoyed  it, which was a huge blessing and answer to prayer.  I just didn’t see how I could, as I envisioned the actual day.  But I was praying and some widowed friends of mine were praying specifically for this concern – and it was a blessing of a day for me.

It was sweet.  It was simple.  It was a very, very God-honoring ceremony.  And I didn’t cry.  Well, I may have fought tears after Will walked me down the aisle and hugged me.  But that was as close as I got.  I even did all right while Will and Arien had “Household of Faith” played.  That was one of our wedding songs.  While it played I didn’t see my children up on stage.  I saw Paul and me during our own wedding as the song played – so many memories.  And I did ok walking back down the aisle – alone.  I had dreaded that part.  I even remembered to smile about halfway up the aisle.

A lot of things they did in the wedding I didn’t know about until it was time for the wedding – probably because I didn’t think to ask.  And if I don’t ask Will, I don’t find out anything!  Things like the decorations – lots of pallets.  Lots and LOTS of pallets.  They are all stacked up outside my garage right now, minus a couple.  David’s been having some fun this week being crafty.  Things like the fact that they wrote their own vows.  Will cracked everyone up when he pulled out his phone during the ceremony and read his to Arien -  off his phone.  Technology rules!  The table Will made in honor of his dad – complete with pictures of the two of them that he swiped out of the scrapbooks, Paul’s Bible, a framed picture of Paul, and a poem about deceased fathers with a note from Will written at the bottom.  Things like the outdoor reception.  I had been dubious of the entire idea, but it turned out really wonderful.  They borrowed chairs from a friend’s church and had a sweet little brownie and ice cream reception – with a DQ ice cream cake for themselves.

It was a little over two years ago this romance began and now it has come to its culmination.  Well, not really – the real romance (and work) has just begun!  Will sent me a single picture this week, with no caption – just two bottles sitting on some sort of ledge with afternoon sunlight streaming through them.  I think it was just to let me know they’re still alive.  Arien’s brother told me they got the same picture.

Now I get to figure out how to quit being Mom and embrace this new stage of life as Friend.

Today is Ellie’s birthday.  What a difference a year can make!  Last year at this time I was pulling my hair out and now things are so much calmer.  She’s still very excitable – some of that is being 6 years old and some of that is the battles over her disregulation associated with her RAD.  But she’s enjoyable now and I don’t have to watch her 100% of the time, like I used to, so that makes life more fun.  She had been wanting to go to Chuck E Cheese’s but I finally decided I just don’t have that in me this year.  To go on Saturday with no help (David took off for camp this morning) – I just can’t do it.  Plus, I’ve already spent a bunch of money lately.  So, we’re going to go to Chick Fil a tonight and then I’ll take them to the play area at the mall.  For some reason, that continues to be a big deal to the kids so we’ll keep doing it as long as they think it’s cool – it’s free and I get to sit down, so it’s a win!

Three weeks ago the boys were getting ready for their Colorado trip.  Wow – we’ve packed a lot in the last few weeks! They had a really good time, it sounds like.  It was good for them.  Ben was really racing there.  He had spent a week at Special Camp, was home for a day and then they left for CO.  When they were finally home from the trip, he sighed one day and told me he had missed me during those two weeks and then said, “What would I do if you were gone forever?”  Awww…Someday he’ll have to figure that out, but hopefully it’s a long, long time from now.

As the wedding approached Sam was talking about how he still hopes Will will come see us.  I assured him that he will and Sam replied, “Good – because Will is my role model!”  And then he added, “I want to be just like him someday.”   He’s such an old soul…
I had a disturbing incident happen just before the wedding at Nobbies.   Nobbies is a party store.  They sell party supplies, costumes, VBS decorations, etc.  I don’t know how many stores they have – I know of one in Omaha and one here in Des Moines.  The owners, I realized later, also own the Oriental Trading Co, which is a mail order business of the same type of supplies.   I get in there every so often.  A week before the wedding Will had kicked us out of the house so he could have his bachelor party (at which one of his friends walked right through my screen door…I was telling Ben’s case manager that this week when she came to the door and it occurred to me that I should probably clarify that the guy wasn’t drunk when it happened!).  Anyway, I ran errands that night and took the Littles to see “Captain Underpants” (despite the fighting toilets, it really was not as dumb as I thought it might be).  I needed to stop at Nobbies and thought while I was in there I would stroll through the wedding decorations section and see if I could find anything else for the rehearsal dinner decorations.  I didn’t and soon left that section to go to another part of the store.  When we reached that section of the store, Lizzie very innocently asked me, “Mom, what’s a _______?” (sexually explicit activity).  I immediately wanted to scream, “Where did you hear this?!”  But I was calm and explained it in a vague manner that she seemed satisfied with.  Then, I casually asked her where she had heard the term and she pointed to the section of the store where we just were and explained that she had seen a box with a man’s sex organs in it and it had the term she had asked about written on the box  - ugh and ugh.  Obviously, there were bachelorette party items over there.  So I casually walked over, staying a distance away, to verify that Lizzie had really seen what she said she did.  It was there all right.  And this time I saw a small sign warning of potentially inappropriate items in the area.  You think?!

Well, the more I thought about this the madder I got.  There was no reason Lizzie should have been exposed to that kind of garbage.  We were shopping for decorations, not sex games!  But I didn’t want to cause a big stink in the store, either, because that’s the fastest way to cement something in a kid’s mind – making a big deal out of it.  Otherwise, I probably would have insisted on talking to a manager that night.  Instead, in a low voice I mentioned my concerns to the cashier.  She immediately became defensive and said that well, there was a sign back there.  I pointed out to her yes, I saw that later, but a sign did not keep my child from viewing inappropriate materials.  She said she would pass along my concerns to the manager (yeah, right).

So, over the weekend, I found the corporate email for Nobbies on-line.  I sent a note stating that I had some grave concerns and was about to take them to social media, but would prefer to address them with the store first.  I had an email in my box bright and early Monday morning from the store asking for my story!  I explained what had happened and reiterated that I did feel the need to put this on social media to warn other parents about taking their children into the store.  I ended with this great line, “My daughter lost part of her innocence and Nobbies has lost me as a customer.” I also pointed out that there are stores at the mall that sell these kind of items and I make a point, of course, to never go in those stores with my children – I didn’t have that choice when I went into Nobbies that night.   Within an hour I had an email from the president of the company, telling me how embarrassed she was.  She said she’s a mother of 5 and completely agreed with my assessment of the situation.  I had offered a couple of alternatives to selling the items if they really felt that was necessary to offer them (a separate room with a large sign clearly indicating the customer must be 18+ to enter or selling them under the counter) and she thanked me for those ideas.  She said that in the meantime she had ordered all their stores to pull those items.  So, I didn’t put the story on Facebook since they said they were dealing with it.  I just need to get over there again and see if they really did pull the items.

A little complaining goes a long way…
 The girls got their first professional braids put in 4 days before the wedding.  What an experience!  I found this lady through a friend who adopted her daughter from Ethiopia.  She has a cute little shop over by the DM fairgrounds – it’s only been open a year.  We were there for 7 hours as the girls got their hair washed, detangled, blown out, and braided.  It cost me $200, which is an awful lot of money (and the reason we will only be doing this for special occasions)  but for that much work, $200 seems really fair.  I thought it was good for the girls, culturally, too.  They do not spend time with other black people, other than their one bio brother.  To a certain extent, they need these kind of experiences.  I thought it was interesting though, when the stylist told me that her “bread and butter” is adoptive families.  She said it is very hard to convince black families of the necessity of paying for hair care and thus, in her opinion, a lot of little black girls are running around with their hair very unkempt.  That surprised me.  I just assumed knowing how to braid was part of the black DNA!  But if a family has a houseful of girls, plus a mom, they would spend several thousand a year on hair, which could be prohibitive for a lot of a families, too.

I bought  new van!  I was really getting discouraged.  Will had been looking for one for me for a couple of months and we just could not find anything within the parameters I desired – and within which I have bought before.  He was even suggesting that maybe I should consider buying a car instead, but I really wanted the room and height that a van offers.  I would have even been ok with an SUV, if I could have found one that wasn’t a gas guzzler.  So, anyway, that was that.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.  It seemed to me I was beginning to get two options, buy something junky for $2000 (not a real option) or spend $15,000 and get something newer than what I had planned.  While my brother and I were waiting on pictures last Sat. we were talking about David’s car needing new roters and it suddenly occurred to me that while he was in town visiting my parents maybe he could find something on Craig’s List up in the W’loo area that we hadn’t been able to find down here.  And he did!  The kids and I went up to W’loo on Tuesday (all 6 of us crammed into David’s little Taurus because Will took my red van on his honeymoon – he wanted to put the miles on that instead of his car) and as soon as we got there Matt, Ben, David, and I  took off to look at this van an hour west of the city.  When we got there the owner (it was a small, Hispanic owned dealership) had it up on a lift, preparing to put brand new tires on it.  This gave Matt the opportunity to examine it from the bottom up.  As he did so, he explained, step-by-step to David what he was looking at.  That’s good training for David.  I was so appreciative of all his work and time finding this for me.  I did buy it.  It’s a Kia Sonata, which is the first Kia I’ve ever owned.  I have a feeling that Paul would have scoffed at the idea of buying an import, but I don’t care.  The van has good reviews, Matt talked to a friend who has owned his same one for 8 years, and best of all, it was right where I wanted it to be price-wise, year-wise, and mileage-wise.  So, I am happy and I now have a pretty light blue van sitting in my driveway!  I already got it licensed and I have a locksmith in DM trying to get me a new key and fob.

And Matt and David also got the roters on his car changed, which was a blessing, too.
 The day after the wedding – or maybe it was that night, I can’t remember – Lizzie said to me, “I just thought of something really sad, Mom.”  She went on to comment that she wondered who would walk her down the aisle someday?  I wondered how long it would take the girls to put that sad fact together…I quickly assured her she has plenty of people in her life who would love to have that honor - including yours truly.  But yeah, it still stinks. 

But then, there is this: Both Will and Arien gave me handwritten letters last weekend.  I think they did that for all their parents and wedding attendants.  Will told me emphatically to NOT read his until after the wedding, so I didn’t.  They were both really special letters.  In Will’s, he said something that has really made me stop and think.  I suppose, as I ponder this, it’s not a new thought, necessarily, but sometimes when you hear it put a different way, then it makes you think.  He said this, “I have seen you change in ways I would have never thought possible. ..It took the worst kind of pain but God is accomplishing what He set out to do long ago: to make you better.”  And really, when you put it like that, it’s what it is.  No, it’s not fair that my girls won’t have a dad to walk them down the aisle.  It wasn’t fun for me to not be able to share Will’s wedding day with Paul.  But, God is using this whole thing of Paul’s early Homegoing as a way to make me better.  It makes me think I must have really been a hard case if He had to use something so dramatic!  And then I also think that I must mean an awful lot to God if He was so invested into my life that He desired me to be better in the first place.

And then there’s David’s thought.  At the reception, all the attendants gave a short speech.  David had been working on his for awhile and had me check what he had written several times.  Both times I assured him it was fine just as he had it.  He made this statement, “The morning of my dad’s death, the first thing Will said to me was, ‘We’re going to be ok.’  And he was right.  We are ok.  In fact, we’re doing better than ok!”

We’re all getting better and we are definitely OK!


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