Thursday, June 29, 2006

I Miss My Little Man

I miss my little man. When my mom had originally said she wanted to take my 3-½ yr old for a week every summer (she’s a high school counselor and gets most of summer off) I thought it sounded like a great idea. This year especially I was looking forward to it so that my husband and I could get some much needed couple time before we become a family of four.

Sunday was great, we only made one comment on how we are usually entertained by him before bed and we’re going to have to come up with something else for the next week. By Monday night we had figured it out and were having fun. I, of course, called at least twice a day to say good morning and good night but Trysten was obviously having too much fun because for the most part he refused to talk to me.

Wednesday night was what we had envisioned the week to look like; we went to a farewell party for Zach’s boss and then went to a bar with two other couples and a singleton. It was admittedly a lot of fun but I was saddened while driving home when I realized I wouldn’t get to look in on a blissfully sleeping little boy when I arrived back home.

I called him today (Thursday) more than a couple times and he’s had a lot to say each time. I think it’s safe to say we are officially missing each other immensely and I’m not only counting the days now but also the hours. It’s not that I don’t love the alone time with my husband; in fact, when we’re hanging out together it makes it incredibly easier to survive without my son. However, it’s times away from the both of them that I reflect on just what I miss about the boy.

In the morning the only thing waking me up now is a kicking baby who wants fed, I no longer hear the pounding on the door of my Trysten Zachary. I miss his first smile when I come in to get him and the hug he so willingly shares when I’m too tired to move. I miss his reenactments of Power Rangers when I open the door after taking a shower and I miss the way he plays with his hair while he drinks his first morning’s glass of apple juice. I miss his giggle when I let the puppies in and the way he yells, “No, Stotle!” whenever our obese lab tries to sneak a few Lucky Charms. The “Bye mommy, have a good day, I wuv you,” is considerably better than the silence I leave before work without Trysten.

I drive by his daycare now and resist the very powerful urge to pull in and see if some other kid will come running to me the way Trysten does; arms stretched out ready for a hug while he runs the 40 paces to me. I miss hearing every detail about his day and trying to decide which ones were just figments of his miraculous imagination and which ones are really part of his every day life. Getting home and having him help me water the flowers; sitting on the counter while I cook; negotiating every bite for dinner; twirling his hair while drinking his milk. “Two more minutes mommy,” as he bats his long eyelashes knowing full well I’ve never been able to resist him or his daddy when they do that.

But I really miss bedtime; I really, really miss bedtime. Giving him a bath and watching his whole body prune-icize. The way he delights in the water and the bubbles and the toys is sheer joy to watch. Getting him out and snuggling with him in his towel. The smell of his lotion makes me remember him as a baby; I catch my self sneaking sniffs periodically throughout the rest of the night. Lying down with him in his bed as we read Harry Potter (okay, I read and he lays on my belly pretending to listen). Hearing his voice as he prays to His maker to watch over him, his baby, his mommy and daddy and his poopers (puppies). And then when he turns to me and plays with my hair. He giggles when it goes in my eyes and will stay there playing with it as long as I let him. Admittedly it’s hard to turn away so bedtime can last quite long when I’m feeling like I need the extra attention. But then to turn around as I walk out of his room and hear, “I wuv you mommy!” as he turns in bed and pulls the covers under his chin. I even miss the devious tricks plays by calling us up after that to go to the bathroom or wipe his nose.

I realize it’s a blessing to have parents (and sister) who want to take my son for a week and spoil him beyond belief. It’s good for them both to see each other so much. It’s even good for Zach and I to remind us of why we first fell in love and learn to appreciate that and hold on to that throughout the rest of the year. But I do miss my little man and I can’t help but be a bit jealous of my family who has seen him every day this week.

So pray for my state of mind for the next fifty hours of my life. And pray that I might remember how much I even miss when he calls me into the bathroom to help him wipe his butt upon his return.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Only Thing To Fear...

I have a fear, a fear I haven’t admitted to a lot of people, but a huge fear nonetheless. I fear that I will die without any warning or notice and without time to tell the people I love how I feel about them. Perhaps it’s irrational, perhaps in another lifetime I was left by a loved one without knowing how they felt. I do know there are a few examples from this lifetime in which people have passed without me ever telling them how I feel.

My ex-boyfriend’s dad died of a heart attack my freshman year of college. After dating the boy for the better part of 3 years, Jon had become my second dad and I loved him very dearly. He was smart, loving, hilarious and full of energy. I have a vivid mental picture from one of my high school basketball games (when I wasn’t even dating his son) of him in the front row yelling, “Go Tesi” at the top of his lungs and then standing and clapping whenever I didn’t screw up. I remember his favorite song was Faith Hill’s “This Kiss” and he held off smoking in the garage whenever I was around because it made my eyes turn red. At his funeral one of their best family friends came up to me and said, “Jon always said he thought of you as his daughter and if he could’ve chosen one it would’ve been you.” (He had two sons, no daughters). Though her words gave me comfort, I prayed so intensely that God was on the other side telling Jon, “She always said if she were to have a second dad, she would’ve wanted it to be you.” I never told him, we got along so well I comfort myself in believing he just had to have known how much I loved him and still think about him all the time.

My senior year of college I called my mom’s office (she was one of my high school’s counselors). The secretary then told me she was in another woman’s office comforting her because her son had just died in a car accident. It just so happened I graduated with her son and considered him a good guy, a friend. I broke down and decided it best not to attend classes that day. Matt was the guy in high school who was a friend of everybody. My “position” in high school was an interesting one but Matt never cared much about that and always showed me the greatest amount of support and respect even when people from his “group” disagreed. He not only accepted my stance against partaking in things he and his friends did, he respected it and told me so on more than one occasion. The day before he died he and some friends were in Iowa City and they stopped by my house. He got to meet my son for the first time and we were able to “catch up” in the twenty or so minutes they hung around. I walked in the house and lamented on how great of a guy he had always been. Unfortunately the lamenting stayed only between my husband and myself, because he was taken from this world not 12 hours later.

So this morning I woke up early and got ready before Trysten woke up so that we could spend some extra quality time before we went to work and daycare. Sure enough, we had a lot of fun. His favorite game is to say something like, “I really like this cereal, but you know what I like more than this cereal?” He waits for me to ask, “What?” And with the biggest smile you’ve ever seen, he claims, “You”. So we played this adorable game the good portion of the morning and when it was time for me to head off to work I gave him a hug and he told me to “share good with my friends” and sent me off. As I was maneuvering (everything is a maneuver when you’re 7 months pregnant, in a skirt, trying to get into a Honda Civic) into the car Zach yells at me, “Tesi wait.” Trysten came out, obviously crying. He came up to me and said, “I sad cuz you left and I didn’t say I wuv you.” I truly was thisclose to shrugging off work for the day and staying with my child who shares my sometimes-irrational fear.

I have to believe it’s at least a small fear in all of us. That even from a small age we innately want “to love and be loved in return”. The ability to love is the greatest blessing God has given us and I am considerably luckier than most that I have had an abundance of love to give and given to me in my life. My husband and I don’t leave each other without a kiss and an “I love you”. My mom and I have long since said it to one another and I’ve slowly coaxed it out of my dad and sister when we’re parting ways as well (I fear I have a long way to go for my little brother). It comes extremely naturally to all the Klipschs, more often than not it’s a competition on who can prove their love more or say the words first. But I hope my family, friends and acquaintances realize those words are more than words to me, that not only do I truly love them, but respect, admire and appreciate them. If I die tomorrow I don’t want them to just remember how I said those words so often but how I made them feel them all the time.

This blog is dedicated not only to my enormous family: blood, extended, in-laws and the like, but also to my friends both old and new, to teachers and mentors and everyone in between. To God, that He reminds me of the people who need to hear what I think of them the most. And that He continuously shows me his love, as his has for all my years. And to everyone out there who might share in this little fear of mine. Go spread a little love people.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Jesus, Are You There?

“The way school needs teachers, the way Kathie Lee needed Regis, that’s the way I need Jesus”.

I’m sure there’d be many-a religious scholars who would have problems with me describing the way I need Jesus like Kanye West so poignantly does in his song “Jesus Walks”, but I’m not afraid. See, it took me a long time to not only admit to myself how much I need Jesus, but also to everyone else. I still find myself wishing for that song to come on the radio so I can point at it and say, “oh man, so true, so true” rather than just come right out and say, “You know what man, I love Jesus and I need Him”.

I don’t think I’m alone in this hesitancy. Ask someone if they’re Christian and there’s a good chance there will be a hesitation and then a long explanation that ends somewhere between yes and no but never sticking to an exact answer. I often do that when someone asks me a spiritual question or asks me to quote a place in the Bible. I fumble around for what would seem to be the right answer like a baby trying to nurse for the first time. It’s not a pretty sight and I fear I tend to distract people from the message, the true message I’m trying to get out. “I don’t have the answers, all I know is the man is a good man and He loves me and I love Him”.

I’m not your typical Jesus lover at first glance. I curse more than I like to admit (though I blame that entirely on my husband), I yell at the dogs too much, I once in awhile make fun of someone else to make myself feel better and I’m definitely not the kind of wife or mother the Bible says you should be. Most my prayers end in me apologizing for being so sleepy and saying something like, “But you know me right? Just listen to my heart and do that please”. I get fidgety when I have to pray aloud, and I am lucky to read passages from the Bible three times a week. I listen to music that my dad so lovingly refers to as “F-this, F-that crap” (as noticed by my two Kanye West references I’m sure). I don’t have a fish bumper sticker, I wear my cross necklace once in awhile, and I have no t-shirts that reference Jesus, God, church, missionary trips or the like, the closest I have is an Oprah shirt and perhaps that counts for some people.

But I do love Jesus and I need Him more than I need anything else. I have a “spiritual journey” just like the next gal, but mine I like to keep a bit private. I still wrestle with my spirituality and sometimes my own wants and needs are the Cael Sandersons and sometimes God’s are, it just depends. It took me a long time to relinquish my control, isn’t that what we’re brought up to want? The American dream, the money, the power, the title, everything. Interestingly enough it’s exactly what God asks you to give up and let Him take control over. It’s just a tough thing to rewire, your whole thought process. Even if you were brought up in a good Christian home like I was, I was also brought up in an intelligent home, one that taught you to think for yourself. It’s only natural that I would want proof and not go on faith alone.

But faith and His grace is what has given me all the amazing things I have now, it definitely hasn’t been my smarts or my beauty (both of which I like to think if ever there was a person that could get by on those alone, it could be me). Only recently have I learned He gives and He takes away with such force and resilience the only thing we humans can do is bow down and worship it. He has given me a beautiful child and taken one away, yet He gives again! He has given me an amazing husband, a beautiful house, a job that makes me happy a good portion of the time, yet has not blessed us with the best health. Ironically the closer I get in my walk with Him, the more I realize it is the taking away that brings me closer to Him. I can for an instant think I am the reason for all the goodness in my life, but it’s in moments of sadness that I realize none of it is about me. In moments of quiet (or loud) desperation I realize it has nothing to do with me.

A couple days ago my husband had to work late so I was home alone with my pneumonia-ridden son. He had been diagnosed a couple days before that but it had seemed to be getting progressively worse. He fell asleep okay but an hour later woke up screaming. I ran upstairs and got him, which usually stops the screaming, but he continued on for the next 10 minutes or so. I started crying and carrying on just like him until he asked, “Mommy, why are you crying”? It took me forever to admit, “Because I’m scared”. This wasn’t a good thing to say as his answer to that was “I’m scared too” and more screams and crying from the both of us. I hugged him and started praying, “God please don’t take him, please heal him, make him feel better, do SOMETHING! Anything, God please.” (Note this was the first time in a long time that I realized this prayer would not end with me sleeping, so I was a bit rusty). But I couldn’t help it I was scared. I was scared I would go in to the doctor thinking he was fine and they would tell me he had cancer or some other life-threatening disease that I was not ready to handle with my angel of a three-year-old. I called my much more grounded husband and we met at the ER. Of course, it was still just pneumonia.

I reflected while watching him with Zach on the hospital bed that I am so out of control in almost every situation I’m in. I may feel in control sometimes, because thank God He gives me the illusion to keep me sane, to keep me happy; but He’s in control whether I like it or not. As tough as that is for me to admit even now, I know it and I love that about Him. He gives me a life much better than I could ever create trying to go at it alone. This is why I love Him, why I need Him and why I shouldn’t be afraid of saying all of that.

Now, “I ain’t here to argue about His facial features, not here to convert atheists into believers”. I’m just trying to say I need Jesus and I’m going to try to be more and more like Him everyday. And next time someone asks me if I’m a Christian, I won’t just take off my shirt and show them my tattoo of a cross, I’ll keep my shirt on and say something like, “Why yes, yes I am and it comes highly recommended.”