Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Kappa Chi


The social club (sorority) I was a part of in college was Kappa Chi. It is now falling on hard times and with very few members left is in danger of disappearing.  Our long-time, beloved faculty sponsor asked us (alumna) to write "What Kappa Chi has meant in our lives." Here is mine:

I have a September birthday, so I was always the youngest in my grade. My  parents dropped me off on Lipscomb University’s campus in August of 1993. I was 17 years old.


All of my best friends from high school went to big state schools – Tennessee, Western Kentucky, or Alabama. Not one of my high school friends went to LU. In a way I was glad. I could make a fresh start, meet new people, and try to find out what God had planned for my future. I was hoping I could do that easier at a small Christian college than a big state school.  My serious high school boyfriend was going to college far away in Indiana. Fresh break, fresh start. Nothing holding me back. I wasn’t one bit scared.


 Well, it wasn’t all instantly sunshine and rainbows. I had been placed with a random roommate in Elam who was miserable and obviously did not want to be at LU. She hardly spoke at all. I avoided our dorm room. I was not feeling at home. I remember driving all around Green Hills that Fall semester in my little red Celica just to listen to music.  I was only 30 minutes from home, but I didn’t want to go there either.  Sure, I met the girls in Elam but I was still not finding my people. It was a slow process and by Christmas break I was wondering if Lipscomb was the right place for me or not.


 I had heard talk of the Social Club scene and was very interested. I knew Freshman couldn’t pledge until Spring so I figured I would stick it out for the year. My mom had been a Chi Omega at Tennessee and I grew up knowing about the wonders and beauty of Sorority Sisterhood. 


 Thankfully, I met some other girls that I felt comfortable with and after Christmas break I moved dorm rooms to another floor.  I moved in with  a girl who would eventually be a pledge sister and we were next door to 2 other future pledge sisters. We were on a hall and around the corner from other KX girls and they started inviting us to Open Rush events. Ok! I found them! These were my people.  I knew without any doubt these girls were my sisters, my people, my family.


On Bid Night, I only wrote down one club- KX.  I was in the Spring 1994 pledge class. There were 10 of us. We were awesome.   I went on to have the 6 best weeks of my life during pledging. I would re-live them in a heartbeat.


 Kappa Chi is probably the real reason I stayed at LU and have an actual degree (from a now $43,000/yr university.)  If I had not met those KX girls who invited me to Open Rush events, I don’t know that I would have stayed without the Greek system. I was craving the sisterhood that KX gave me. I am an only child. This in itself is an entire other article, but I think it is the main reason that I needed that Sisterhood so very badly. Not all girls do. Some girls are very happy with their college life without a sorority. I needed to feel like I was part of a family, with sisters, and a purpose, and an 8:30 meeting to be at every Tuesday night.  I was vice-president for 2 of my 4 years and this also gave me a job and a purpose. I enjoyed the entire process of Rush and Bid night and planning events. KX is notoriously bad at rushing girls, but I loved it! I loved meeting the younger girls and trying to make them feel included because SOMEONE DID THAT FOR ME and it made all the difference. 


I still talk to my KX sisters on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis. My sister in law is a KX sister and my mother in law is a charter member.  KX has had a lasting impact on my life. I know KX has had its share of struggles over the years and recruiting and rushing girls has never been easy. This is almost an unspoken quality of a KX girl. We just can’t make you like us. You either do or you don’t. But, for me, KX kept me at LU and changed my life.  And some of the best memories I will take with me to my deathbed include my KX sisters and really loud laughter.


 PEACE AND LOVE. 


Monday, July 10, 2017

Boy Mom

I guess I just always assumed I would have a girl baby. I don't know why, but I did. That's how I saw myself. I always just wanted to be a Mom and when I would play babies growing up with Missy, we always had baby girls. In dresses. And bows.  I mean, I was a girl.  I didn't have brothers, so that is all I knew. Girls and girl stuff.

So, I was pleasantly surprised when I found out Will was going to be a boy. How fun! A boy! What a surprise! How unique! We had our name pretty much picked out for us, so that wasn't hard. What a great treat for my Dad, to have a grandson. I got on board with the boy thing very quickly. Big brothers are great ( I was already thinking down the road to future siblings,) every girl needs a big brother to protect her. How fun! A BOY!  And I would spend MUCH less money on clothes! This is great!

And Will was born and he was perfect. He was an angel. He was the answer to every prayer I ever prayed. He was everything I needed and never knew. He was beautiful with his bright blue eyes and blonde hair.

So, about 2 and 1/2 years later we were unexpectedly expecting another baby. I hummed and hawed and couldn't decide if I wanted to know the gender or not. But, we were in a position where I really needed to plan ahead for many reasons. So, we found out we were expecting another boy. Shock. I was in shock. We both thought for sure it was a girl.  We both would've bet the farm it was a girl. What in this world? Why would we want two boys?  I think John Will even promised me it was a girl. I  called my Dad first and told him while he was playing golf that he was getting another boy. I think he was secretly disappointed. Nana, however, was convinced of John Will's masculinity after siring 2 boys in a row. I spent 9 months wrapping my mind around the idea of a little brother.  Two boys. Who did God think I was? Expert boy Mom?

And Ryan was born and he was gorgeous. And we have never been happier to hear a baby cry after 45 minutes of silence and a wrapped cord. He was big and beautiful and exactly what I needed. He is the second half of my soul that I never knew was missing. He has hazel eyes and broad shoulders and the compassion and strength our family needed.

So, where is my girl? I am still looking for her. I have had Greta and now Betsy, but they are not exactly the same.  Not that I miss the drama and eye rolls. No ma'am, I don't need anyone telling me constantly what to do and what to wear. But, I wouldn't mind shopping at the American Girl doll store. Or, picking out  a wedding dress. Or helping someone out in the delivery room some day. I doubt my daughter-in-laws will welcome me in the delivery room. And I doubt they will want my advice. And they won't call me with cooking  questions. And I will be lonely. And that makes me sad. I might meet my girl some day, but it won't be this side of Heaven.  And, I guess that's okay.

Because being a boy mom is awesome. My boys are sweet and kind. They are smart and strong. They tell me I'm beautiful and cuddle with me at night. They could not care less what they wear.  I have happily watched more baseball games than I ever envisioned in my future. I have heard more Mindcraft stories and Pok√©mon stories than I ever needed to hear.  I have witnessed excitement over new Star Wars movies and ping pong tables.  I have seen my son cry real tears over a Tennessee football game. What more I could want? I have no idea.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Adulting

I have had to do a lot of things lately that I really did not want to do. I think this has been labeled "adulting" now by Millenials and other people who are younger and generally cooler than me. Adulting is doing things like paying bills, going to work, and generally doing things adult humans have to do in life.  Apparently this generation likes to eat Brunch and drink Mimosas. Sounds good to me, but it is not reality.

Last Friday I had to watch my husband be a pall bearer at his best friend's wife's funeral. She was 44. She has a 9 year old daughter who spoke at the funeral.  These are things I do not want to witness.

I have had to make some medical decisions recently that I did not want to make. Decisions that 41 year women have to make.  I did not want to make these decisions or think about these things. I want to be 27 forever. And weigh 114 pounds. But, alas, the reality is much grimmer.

I am having to watch our grandmothers get older. JW's grandmother is now in a nursing home. She is not happy living there and his mother is having to take care of her. This is brutal to watch.
My own young and beautiful Nana is now getting older. I do not want to accept this at all. I want her to be young and active forever. And make me Totino's Party Pizza, and style hair, and tell people they have gained weight.

My own two boys are getting older. They are having to go places like middle school. Gross. We have to make academic decisions for them like signing their life away to things like AP Calculus and Statistics. Decisions I do not want to make for my 7th grader. They are growing and learning things that older kids learn. This is not what I want. Why can't people stay small and watch Thomas the Train forever?

I have had to sacrifice things I have really wanted to do because my boys needed to be somewhere or do something. I sit at hot and dusty baseball fields at dusk even though it means when I get home I won't be able to breathe all night.
And to be honest, I don't even care. I am constantly shocked and amazed that God thought enough of me to bless me with these two boys. Highest compliment I will ever be given.

But, I don't like the getting old part.  I just don't. It is "adulting" at it's height, and I could do without it. JW and I both lament getting older. Everyone is a liar. They say "oh 40 is so great. 40 is the new 30."  Liars. All of them.


We will not hide them from their descendants;
    we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
    his power, and the wonders he has done.

Then they would put their trust in God
    and would not forget his deeds
    but would keep his commands.

PSALM 78


Friday, February 5, 2016

Over Achiever

It is a cold, sunny February morning. I just made my 3rd cup of coffee despite the fact that I have piles of laundry and a 42 pound terrier that wants a walk. It is Friday morning and I am tired from waking up in the dark to a 6 am alarm all week.

I had my yearly physical yesterday and I really am thankful for my good health. My doctor told me I was "biologically 30" instead of 40. I do not know if this is really a medical thing or not, but I'll take it. Most mornings I feel 40, though.

Musings from my 40 year old mind today:

I married an over-achiever. It was inevitable, really, since I was raised by an over-achiever.
My father was the hot stuff of his small west TN town. He was salutatorian of his high school class and captain of the basketball team. He was in student government, popular, and friends with everyone.  He went on to succeed in  college and then Air Force officer training school where he graduated 2nd in his Flight school class. He went on to be a flight instructor and then had a successful career as an airline pilot. The man knows how to fly at least 5 different airplanes. He has retired from flying airplanes and now, at 65, has started a successful financial planning business. He has an MBA and is a CFP. He is athletic, handsome, and rarely meets a stranger. He has succeeded at everything he has ever attempted. I often say he has lived a charmed life.

My mother was raised by a strong, single mother in a small TN town. She was a cheerleader and a college beauty queen. She was a true Chi Omega. She is petite, beautiful, and smart as a whip. Besides her physical beauty, she is truly an angel. Everyone that has met her knows this. I have been her daughter for 40 years and have rarely heard an unkind word come out of her mouth. She embodies Proverbs 31 and defines the term "Godly woman." She lives to help people.

As an only child, this was quite a lot to live up to. I have often said I didn't have anyone to help spread out the disappointment! Seriously though, they never made me feel like that.  All this to say, I know why I was attracted to John Will.

Mom has been on a cleaning kick for, oh, her whole life. But, recently she gave me back boxes with all my old journals that I kept all through high school and college. In one of the college-era journals I made a list of characteristics I wanted in my husband. At the top of the list (along with Christian) were the words: "someone smarter than me." Now, some might say that wouldn't take much, but I specifically remember breaking up with guys that I felt were not quite smart enough.  I was never attracted to guys who didn't take school seriously. I needed someone that I knew I could trust to be smarter than I was. I know that sounds crazy. I just read it and it does sound crazy. But, when I met John Will I knew. It's as simple as that. I knew he was the one for me and 16 years later I am still crazy about him.

Last night Will got yet another phone call from a classmate asking about an assignment. This used to make me mad, but it happens so frequently now I am over it. Ryan asked me: "why do people always call Will about school work?" I answered: "because Will knows everything."  And it's true.

Our community was crushed last week when a Senior at the high school committed suicide. He was a National Merit Scholar, had a 35 on his ACT and had a full ride to his dream college. No one knows why he did it and he had showed no warning signs. It was a total shock.  Our middle and high school are nationally ranked public schools.  People in our community are extremely proud of our schools reputation for having high test scores and lots of National Merit scholars. Many kids go on to Ivy League schools. The rigorous academics are a source of pride.  But let me make this clear: IT IS NOT WORTH IT. A child's life is not worth it.  I have just spent this entire post telling you about my over-achieving parents and husband. But, I am now telling you I do not want this burden for my boys. It is just not worth it. If it comes easily to them, great. If it drives them to the point of insanity, then by all means let's just be average. I once read an article entitled, "The World is Run by C Students." This may or may not be true but the lesson here is that it is okay to not be perfect. It is okay to not be an over-achiever.

So, today I wish you love. I wish you many days filled with sunshine and happiness. I wish you a healthy acceptance of who you are and who God made you to be. Nothing more and nothing less.





Thursday, September 3, 2015

This is 39

Disclaimer: I did not write the essay below. But, I wish that I had written it. I can identify with every single word. Every. Single. Word. I only have a few more days left in my 30's. It is hard to take. Hard. I could have written every word below from the fact that WAY too many people I know get diagnosed with cancer to wondering about Natalie Merchant and hoping she is okay. I cannot deal with the mall but I still love Guns N Roses in an unhealthy way.  It's scary, but here I am. Turning 40. As my Dad would say, think of the alternative. 
This is taken from the Scary Mommy blog



I am feeling my age. Age is a loaded word and concept, but in my case, what I mean is that I feel this year of 39 completely: this is not just another year in the life. When I was younger, the milestone birthdays seemed to be 13, 16, 18, and 21. I remember announcing what I believed to be the last of them at 25, a birthday I felt marked the beginning of when “everything counts” as well as my ability to finally rent a car on my own. But 39 has been a milestone too — maybe even more than 40 will be. I feel as if I am standing in a more significant threshold, leaving one place and entering another.
This is my 39…
At 39, you splurge on Justin Timberlake concert tickets because you love him in a way that almost feels inappropriate — even though you still remember his hair circa the ’90s — but then you find that his concert homage to Bel Biv Devoe’s “Poison” thrills you even more than “Suit and Tie.”

You do all your Christmas shopping on Amazon — not because you are all savvy and techy, but for the simple reasons that you cannot bear to deal with crowds and parking at the shopping malls and you don’t have time to shop on foot anyway. ( I  once spent New Year’s Eve in Times Square. I went to Woodstock in ’94. When did I become such a wimp and so “busy?”)

People you love have cancer. Way too many people you love have cancer. It makes you angry. And scared.
Thus, you look at moles differently. You start staring in the bathroom mirror for long bouts of time, trying to figure out what is going on above your upper lip and what to do about your forehead and WTH that tiny bump on your temple is.
You dish with your college girlfriends about miracle devices that remove chin hairs and the most comfortable yoga pants for school pick up. Because, you know, that is hot.
Your husband remarks to you that Taylor Swift seems like “she’d be a really cool girl to have… as a daughter.”

You find yourself keeping the car running so you can finish hearing that Guns ‘n’ Roses song on the radio — on the easy listening station (the hell?) — because it reminds you of college. Hall and Oates take you straight to the backseat of your parents’ car on road trips to the beach when you were a child, and Paul Simon and Billy Joel sing the songs that you hold sacred, the songs that your parents used to play on a record player  at parties that went past your bedtime.

You cry at commercials and flipping You Tube videos. You don’t want to watch violent movies. You wonder how the teenagers at the mall have parents who let them dress that way. You realize with a start that although you believed you were Carrie when you watched Sex and the City on HBOyou now think of Carrie and her friends as “young,” and they totally wouldn’t hang out with you.

You hear through the grapevine about friends separating and divorcing, a stark contrast to your 20s and early 30s when there was another wedding every weekend. It feels surreal; divorce seems like such a grown-up thing to do, even more than mortgages and minivans and babies. It’s threatening, like a tornado that might randomly hit you or someone you love. Even though divorces are not random at all, they feel random — which is terrifying.

You spend lunches with friends comparing local memory loss facilities and living wills for your parents in the same breath as preschools and tennis lessons for your kids.


Everyone you know is training for some kind of race — whether it’s a half marathon, a full marathon, or an Ironman (overachievers). Your friends wear CrossFit T-shirts and Zumba pants at the grocery store because they actually do those things. Fitness is the new mid-life crisis.
Still, you very possibly might drink a Diet Coke with your lunch of kale and quinoa salad. Details.
Speaking of beverages: hello, hangovers. Every drink after your first is now some huge risk and gamble on whether tomorrow will be absolutely miserable.
You squint more. You consider appliances a viable gift option. You don’t know any of the bands playing on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve — and you don’t want to — but you can totally beat your kids at Just Dance (and only Just Dance). It ticks them off in a very satisfying way, but you are pathetically sore the next day.

You find yourself wondering whatever happened to Winona Ryder and Natalie Merchant. You hope they are okay, because they feel like distant cousins you grew up with once upon a time. You have a soft spot for Ethan Hawke and John Cusack and you always will, like the boys next door growing up that you can’t forget. Jake Ryan will always be the hottest boy who ever lived, and no, you don’t want to see a picture of what he looks like now. Thanks.

Your parents are slowing down and retiring. Some of your friends are losing their parents. It feels like some kind of seismic shift to realize that our generation is now up to bat. We’re the ones leading our countries and churches and corporations and the world. It’s us. Donna Martin graduated and has four children now — and so do I. The same people I drank with in college are now in charge of universities and hedge funds and corporate giants and Homeland Freaking Security. Gulp.

That blows my 39-year-old mind, because I feel like a teenager in middle age clothing. I still feel like someone else should be the grown up. Still, I do feel ready to take responsibility for life and my place in it. I am not afraid to speak up for what I believe. I accept that not everyone is going to like me, even if it still hurts. I know I am never going to be perfect, and I no longer even want to be. I feel like I know what I want from my life, regardless of the expectations of others; unfortunately, I also know that my own expectations for myself are the hardest to bear and the least forgiving. I’m still getting used to the idea that this blur around me is my life happening, but I am getting there.

So, I’m happy to wear ballet flats instead of stilettos, and I have finally decided that Spanx are not actually worth it — I don’t care who is going to be at the party. And I have realized that I am the only mother my kids are going to get, so I better treat myself well and let them know that as imperfect as I am, I’m still valuable . Someday, they will all be imperfect, valuable 39-year-olds too.
I cannot lie: 40 scares me a little bit. This is the big-time. But it scares me in a good way, the kind that feels all tingly and full of possibility. If this is 39, I think that there is a lot to be hopeful for in my 40s. As long as I can figure out that whole what’s-going-on-above-my-upper lip thing.
- See more at: https://www.scarymommy.com/this-is-39/#sthash.KsxSpOMQ.dpuf

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Identity


I have been going to a Sunday School class at church this Summer that I have really enjoyed. I am usually downstairs in the preschool wing teaching 2-3 year-olds to sing "Jesus Loves Me." I love that too, but sometimes it is nice to sit in an adult class.

This past Sunday we talked about identity and transitions. Most humans do not embrace change well. I would be first on that list. We wrap our identities up in different things. One example he gave was the woman who has a husband with an important career who works long hours and kids who go off to college and is left with an empty nest. Who is she then? Where is she left? I immediately felt defensive. Well, huh, I am super proud of my husband. I have supported him every step of the way. I am his number one fan. I honestly think he is the bees knees.

I am super proud of my boys. Listening to my 12 year old play Ode to Joy on the piano is almost more than this Mother's heart can take. Watching the way Will treats people and respects others makes me so proud. Seeing my 9 year old have intensity and faith beyond his years is amazing to me. Ryan would step in front of a moving train for his brother. No questions asked.  They are both smarter than either one of their parents and seem to have gotten the best traits and qualities of all their family members. Grandparents included.

When I was about 8 years old I remember wanting to be a ballerina. I took dance for many, many years with my best friend, Missy. Neither one of us had a lick of coordination when it came to dance, but good gracious, we had a blast.  In high school I shadowed a female attorney on Career Day because I wanted to go to Law School and be a lawyer. I still think that would have been a good move for me but by 1998, I just wanted to graduate with a college degree. The thought of more school and more paper-writing was atrocious to  me. In the mean time, I also remember wanting to join Greenpeace and save the whales. Wanting to go into journalism and be the next Anna Wintour or Jane Pauley. Wanting to get a Ph.D in Southern Literature from Vanderbilt. Wanting to go to Ole Miss and get a Masters in Southern Culture. (Because there is always such a high demand for experts in Southern Studies.)  In the end, after I met my future husband, all I wanted to do was be a Mother.

For better or for worse, I promise I won't lay on my deathbed and wish I had done anything else. My life could end tomorrow. I have already seen too many friends my age diagnosed with cancer. I promise I won't think: "man, I really shouldn't of wasted my life raising two boys to be men." "I really should not have loved them so much." All that time driving people to baseball, soccer, school, and church activities. All those wasted mornings packing lunches, walking my dogs and folding laundry. All the hours spent at school, in my kitchen making cookies, prayers prayed, friends counseled. All the bike rides after dinner. All the days spent at the pool.   No, I'm good.  So, yeah, at 39, staring 40 in the face, I'm good with my identity. Thanks anyway, though.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Its May Again. Cue the Emotions.

3 1/2 more days of school left this year. This year will be a big transition for our family as Will goes to middle school and the boys will no longer be in the same school together.
I need to recap the past week. It may take me all summer to recover.

This past Friday our school had the 5th grade promotion ceremony. This is a beautiful, well-done ceremony where each student is recognized. They sing songs, have a slide-show and give awards. We have six 5th grade classes and each teacher chooses one student to receive the outstanding student award given based on exemplary  character, achievement, personality, etc.  Well, this being my first 5th grade promotion ceremony to attend, I did not know this award existed.  Will Dawson won the award for his class. I was a mess. I am not surprised Will won the award, but I am so proud his teacher recognized him.  I told him I would be equally as proud of him if he never won a single award, but I am so happy his wonderful teacher saw the light in him that I have always seen. He is an amazing kid and he makes me proud every day, award or not.


Ryan just ended a tough baseball season. He played up in a select division this year for the first time. He was on a new team and they had a hard time hanging with some of the other more-seasoned teams. Little league baseball is a tough scene for me. They are 8 and 9 year old little boys expected to play a very mature, impossibly hard game. Some of these kids will play up to 50 games over a couple months time. Parents on the road traveling every weekend. Thankfully, our team did not have that kind of schedule but we played teams that did. I loved watching the games and supporting these boys who honestly game 110% every time they were on the field. The sad truth is that in our area of town only the very best will succeed and end up playing on a school team. These boys will have personal trainers and private lessons year-round. It is hard for me to accept that truth. Ryan can be very intense and competitive, but he is only 9. Who can decide what they want to devote their life to when they are 9?  We take it one season at a time.

Ryan is still my love. He still can't pass me without touching me or hugging me. He wrote me a Mother's Day piece in class and on "What is one of your favorite things about your mom?" he wrote: "when she laughs."  And that, my friends, made my whole life.