What’s Your Legacy?

I am insignificant.

I cannot name the hometown of grandmother. I don’t know the names of my great-grandparents. I could not tell you how many siblings my grandpa had. Those people are insignificant, too. Yet without them, I would not be here. They are insignificant, but important.

There are four young boys who call me “Mommy” and I matter to them. My attitude, choices, and example influence theirs. But their grandchildren will think of me in passing, if at all.

Every day I interact with more than two hundred students in my role as teacher. I matter to them, but their own children will not hear about that teacher who held their hand when they were scared or helped them learn to be a friend. I matter, but I’m insignificant.

I am insignificant, but important, influential. I will leave a legacy. We all will.

What will that legacy be?

Opa dancing on the back deck with his granddaughters creates memories of fun and silliness. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Fishing trips with Dad let you know that a favourite pastime is better when shared with someone you love. Relationships matter.

Being ridiculous and crazy and uninhibited with your children teaches that life is to be lived joyfully. Small things have a big impact.

Serving others and sacrificing for a greater purpose says that there is more to this life.

Going for that bike ride with your son fulfils the promise you made. Honour your commitments and live with integrity.

What you choose to do here may seem insignificant, but it has a lasting impact. You will leave a legacy. Intentional or not. Planned or not. Purposeful or not. We will all leave a legacy.

The legacy will go on long after we have left this earth. What will yours be?

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Broken

I am wrecked.

Emotionally.

Wrecked and drained and weary.

I am okay. I can go upstairs this very moment and pick up my Little and tell him that I love him and smell his sweet little boy smell.

But my heart is aching for another’s unspeakable loss.

My heart cannot contain these two opposing realities. I am grateful to be able to tuck in my boys and listen to them tell me about their days. Yet parents I know are saying good-bye to their cherished Little and I am broken.

How dare I feel sad? This is not my tragedy. This is not my loss. But here I am, wrecked and drained and weary.

We have the comfort that she is in heaven, I know. But in the meantime…

In the meantime, her room sits empty, her toys are still. Her parents miss her. They miss her and they ache and that will never subside.

All I have to do is walk upstairs. I feel incredibly sad and grateful.

It’s not about me, but I am broken.

I Never Knew

As the adults in the lives of young children we seem to spend so much of our time teaching them. And we do. By our words, our actions, our inaction, by how we spend our time with them. But the small children in my life have taught me a lot. Before I became a parent, I did not know so much.

I never knew how selfish I could be.

I never fully grasped how much my parents love me.

I never knew how much I would appreciate those teachers who really get to know their students and meet them where they are. Thank you.

I never knew how outraged I would be when another kid hurt one of my boys.

I also never knew how upset I would feel when my toddler hit a non-family member (but he certainly found out in a hurry).

I never knew how selfish I could be.

I never knew how much my attitude and response impacts those around me.

I did not realize that sometimes a hug and a kiss really can make it all better.

I never knew the true power of the words, “I don’t know – what do you think?”

I never knew that milk does taste different depending on the colour of the cup you use.

I never knew that I could enjoy buying clothes for small children even more than for myself. Or that shopping for new socks could be an outing on its own.

I never knew how selfish I could be.

I never knew my heart could grow so big and yet always be so full.

I never knew the truth behind the phrase, “I might not like you right now, but I will always love you.”

I never knew that raising our family together would make me love and appreciate my husband even more.

I never knew how amazing giggles sound.

I never fully grasped how much my parents love me.

I never knew how flawed and imperfect I am.

I never knew, really and truly knew, how selfish I could be and yet how much I would be willing to give up for the sake of the four boys I call my own.

I never knew that having children would give me a clearer glimpse of just how much God loves me. Selfish, flawed, imperfect me.

I never knew. But I’m beginning to.

Remember that time?

Remember?

When you recall fond memories it’s about something that happened, not a “thing”. Even if it’s a special gift, that Cabbage Patch doll you were longing for, there’s a story behind it. It’s not just the doll, it’s the story of how it became yours. The real gift is the story.

What matters is the story.

My friend and I have an ongoing conversation about how trips and events are special, but what our kids will remember is the time we spent with them. Vacations are great and can be the catalyst for memory-making, but it’s the time we are together that counts.

You know what our boys ask for the most? Aside from treats and screen time, they are kids after all. Our time.

Play with me. Read to me. Listen to me. Tell me I matter. Show me I am important, that I’m valued.

“Can we go to a movie just you and me, Mommy? As part of my birthday present?”

“Wrestle with me, me, Daddy.”

“Can we go on a breakfast date?”

“Will you take just me to the store?”

Time.

And stories.

“Tell us about the time you threw the carrot cake on the ceiling, Daddy.”

“Tell us the story of Uncle Rob running into the glass door.”

“Tell us again about the time your neighbour caught a skunk and Grandpa told you to throw pebbles at the trap to see what would happen.”

“Tell us again how Auntie broke her arm.”

Tell us again.

Stories. Remember? Remember that time?

We’re creating stories with every meal we eat together, with every crazy family dance time, with every time we patiently wait for an unsuspecting family member to exit the washroom so we can yell “Boo!” With every family movie night.

“Remember the time Big poked the kiwi?”

“I didn’t poke it!”

“We saw you!”

“It just looked like I did.”

“I watched you pick it up and your finger went right through the skin.”

“No, the hole was already there.”

I can recite this script verbatim because we have jointly retold it dozens of times. It even has a theme song. It’s become Moyer family folklore. It’s one of our stories.

Remember? Remember that time?

Time.

“For Christmas I want to take you for frozen yogurt to that shop you said you wanted to try, Mommy. Can we go today? I can show you how it works, you make it all yourself. I’ve got enough money for both of us.”

And so we add another story to our collection.

It was delicious
It was delicious

Remember?

“Remember that time we went for yogurt, just the two of us, and I got coconut and gummi worms and you got two flavours?”

Remember that time?

Ferris Wheel Moment

Recently a kindergarten student was struggling with going to music class. His biggest concern was the noise and busyness of so many kids singing together. A coworker and I debated about how much we should force the issue. It was a tough balance between expecting him to do what the class was doing and respecting his sensitivity.

What to do, what to do.

Then I told him a story.

When I was in about grade two, my dad took me to Niagara Falls. They had the biggest ferris wheel ever. It was so high you wouldn’t believe it. Now, I don’t like heights. Being really high up makes my stomach feel funny and I get scared. My dad knew this. But he also knew that the ride might be a once in a lifetime moment. So he made me a deal. He said:

“Try it for one rotation. Just one. We’re the only ones here. I will tell the operator that if you want to get off, I will signal him to stop it after one time. But if you’re okay after one time around, then I’ll give the thumbs up and we’ll go again. Every time we get to the bottom, I’ll signal to him and you can decide when you want to get off. Deal?”

Even though I still felt nervous and scared, I got on the ride and we went around. And you know what? It was amazing. I did love it. Yes, every time we got to the top my stomach flipped a little, but my dad was with me and I trusted him. I saw things from that ferris wheel that I would never see from the ground. I was glad I tried it out.

Then I looked my little friend in the eye and said, “This is your ferris wheel moment.”

I asked him if we could make a deal. He had told me he didn’t want headphones on because they hurt his ears, so that wouldn’t help him in music class. No problem, no headphones. I suggested he could sit right at the back, close to the door. He agreed. Then I suggested we give it a try for five minutes, he countered with one, I came back with two and we shook hands. Off we went to music class. And he did it! He sat in his spot and we were both surprised when my timer beeped announcing the two minutes was over. He declined my offer to stay longer and we agreed that next week we would try for three minutes.

This is your ferris wheel moment.

Bookends and Swings

“Are you taking just the Bookends then?” Bearded Husband asked as I headed out the door. That was a new nickname he came up with as I got ready to take our oldest and youngest to the park. The Middles were happy playing Camp in our bedroom, so I opted to leave them be.

Off we went, the Bookends and me. Those two boys look the most alike of the four. Watching the toddler sometimes takes me back eight years to that special time I had with just #1.  We don’t often have a lot of time together, just me and the Bookends, my babies.

As we walked to the park, Oldest asked Little if he wanted a piggyback ride because, “I can do that you know, Mommy.”  I remember giving you all kinds of piggyback rides, baby, and am glad you still ask for them albeit less often.

Oldest raced to the swings, his main reason for coming along. He loves to scale the poles and climb. He is particularly fond of swinging higher and higher and then jumping off.  I stopped myself from saying “be careful” and instead admired his abilities. I remember when the slide was too scary to try without me, buddy, now look what you can do.

“Watch me, Mommy! See what I did, Little? Want to come on the swings with me?”

Little raced over and hopped onto the swing beside his biggest brother.

“No high, Mommy, no high.”

“Go high?”

“Yeah, no, no high.”

“Not too high?”

“Yeah.”

You got it, baby boy. 

And there I was pushing my Bookends on the swings. Memories of taking #1 to the park just the two of us came flooding back, followed by snapshots of each of my boys at that age. The giggles, the grins, grabbing their little feet.

“I want to swing at the same time as Little,” Oldest asked. So I changed the pace so they could swing side by side. They grinned at each other, swinging in tandem. But slowly, Oldest was going higher and faster again and they were back to their own rhythms. After a few moments, Oldest abandoned the swings and Little started to follow. I sat down and slowly began swinging on my own. And I thought, this is how it’s going to be. My boys are becoming their own persons.

Then my Oldest, my original baby boy, turned back and came to push me. And Little hopped onto my lap. And I could smell the sand and heat from his neck and see Oldest’s shadow as he gave us one last push before climbing a new challenge. I watched him scale the fire pole with Little cuddling with me and I realized: This is how it is supposed to be. 

We walked home for dinner and Little decided it was okay to hold our hands. As we walked along, Oldest and I did “One, Two, Three…Wheee!” and swung Little repeatedly the whole way. Yesterday, I was the little one being swung, I blinked and I was the one swinging. Slow down, slow down.

“We don’t have time like this very often, just the three of us do we, Mommy?”

No, baby, but we should. We will, my Bookends.

Me, The Maze, and My Boys

The boys begged me to take them to a local farm that has some fun attractions, including a corn maze. So one morning we hopped in the van and took off in hopes of high adventure in a corn field. We were not disappointed.

Come see our fortress!
Come see our fortress!

“The maze is ready!”

“This way, Mommy!”

“Come on, Number 3, let’s go see! We’ll show you around!”

“I wonder if they made it trickier this year!”

The Bigs could not wait to get going and rushed ahead, encouraging their younger brother.

“Don’t worry, Mommy, he’ll be with us,” they reassured me.

I was in charge of the littlest Little who was not going to let those big boys out of his sight.

The first time I took them in the maze I had Number 3 in the baby carseat and was hesitant to let them explore. The owner knows me and could see the slight worry on my face as I contemplated how I would schlep the baby and the boys through the mucky field.  She asked her kids to take the boys through and they were thrilled. And I released my hold on my boys a little.

The next year the four of us went in together. Number 3 was toddling after his brothers while I stuck close behind him, catching him before he tripped on a rogue cornstalk or tumbled a little on some uneven ground.  I could here the older boys giggling with delight as they tricked me, hiding between the rows. And I released my hold a bit more.

Wait for me, guys!
Wait for me, guys!

The third year, I had a newborn again, but had grown wiser and put him in the Baby Bjorn so I could venture into the maze with the three boys. Now the games included Tag, Hide-and-Seek, and racing back to the top. I lagged behind, but was able to keep them mostly in my sights. And my tether to them lengthened and loosened again.

Last year, our baby boy was a spunky one-year-old up on Daddy’s shoulders, then Mommy’s shoulders, then back to Daddy. He loved spying his big brothers from his perch way up high. There was no point in trying to hide with him on your team since his excited yelps gave us away every time. My baby was becoming a Boy. And I released my hold on them a little bit more.

This year, we had incredible fun together, me and my boys. The only rule I had was that if I called their name really loud, they had to reply so I knew they were okay. And I promised them that if they needed me or just wanted to know where I was that if they called, I’d stand in one spot yelling, “Right here!” until they found me.

You can learn a lot from a corn maze.

There are many different paths, some short, some long, some smooth, some a tad treacherous, and it’s up to you to choose which one you want to try. It’s okay to double-back and try another path because eventually you’ll get to where you need to be.

You can choose to run, walk, or saunter. Maybe do a little bit of each.

You never know when you might discover a hidden fortress, a secret lair, or an amazing spot for a fort. It’s okay to go off the well-trod path, but not forever. Someone made the paths for you because they knew the best way to travel through.

A corn maze can be fun on your own, but it is better with a friend, and even better with a group. Sometimes it is good to hold hands, but it’s okay to let go, too.

There are dips and bumps and mud and itchy things along the way, but the adventure is worth it.

And if you ever feel alone or afraid or unsure, stop and call your mom.

“I’m right here. Right here.”