Happy Tenth Birthday, My Noah

Saturday, November 18, 2017

And so today my eldest child turns ten. It feels like a blink of an eye in some ways, and a beautiful eternity in others. 

What a neat kid this boy is: I am daily impressed with what a tender, patient and thoughtful big brother he is. He certainly has a knack for teasing, but it is never with a mean spirit... always mischief only. And when it's clear he's hurt someone's feelings, he stops. He apologizes. 

He is so helpful and kind to Joe and I. He's FUNNY as heck. He's brilliant, of course... and it's so fun to see where that mind takes him sometimes. 

My hope for my kiddo, as he turns the corner from "little kid" to "big kid", is that he remains tender and kind. That he finds a place in this world for his sharp, funny, inventive mind. That he redefines "nerd" or "smart kid" to be something everyone can relate to and wants to come join in with him. That he continues to be social and friendly to everyone, and that he doesn't feel the need to close the door on us, his family, to stew in adolescence too soon. That he knows we are his biggest cheering section. I hope he keeps giving his siblings a chance to join him. And I hope he deepens his awareness of empathy, charity, inclusion, and love-- that he continues to learn of his Savior and strives to be more and more like Him. 

He's well on his way. And I am the luckiest mama that God saw fit to place him in my care for these first couple of decades of his beautiful life.

That Zoo Photo

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Did you know that if you visit the St. Louis Zoo, you might catch a glimpse of the common "Distracted Homo Sapiens Mother"? I'm not talking about the ones in the wild, even- the ones who come to the zoo to enjoy its many exhibits and offerings but give in to the call of their smartphones while there. I'm talking about an actual EXHIBIT-- a bona fide display of one of those mothers, within the zoo, that immortalizes the Distracted Homo Sapiens Mother in a very bold, colorful and permanent way. 

You have to look close.  Even though this display is duplicated at both entrances, it's not immediately obvious that you're seeing the Distracted Mama. It's not the focus of the exhibit, actually. It is an accidental capture on only one portion of the overall exhibit, but it is authentic. And did I mention pretty permanent?

Did you catch it? 

Do you need a closer look?
Ah. There she is. THERE SHE IS. Permanently on a giant display going on about the many amazing things our zoo has to offer. Distracted Homo Sapiens Mother. IMMORTALIZED. 

Did I mention it is at the North Entrance AND the South Entrance? 

That it has been there for FOUR YEARS?

Let me give you one more good look:

Listen. This piece of trivia about the St. Louis Zoo- this fact that myself, my sons Quinn and Noah, and my sister Beckie are immortalized on two giant display boards at one of the world's best zoos- in equal parts horrifies and amuses me. 

You gotta admit it's freaking crazy. Absolutely hilarious. Clearly the zoo photographer had been out and about on a day we had attended the zoo, and he/she had been assigned the task to capture patrons enjoying the glorious new Sea Lion Exhibit, and because my son Noah's face is the epitome of wonder and joy, this random photo he/she took (a photo we never even knew was happening) was the one chosen to represent the "Bright Future" of our wonderful zoo. This photo. It probably helps that my sister and baby are also showing a bit of awe in their faces. Never mind the poor sap in the front who got caught between expressions. Never mind the RIDICULOUSLY DISTRACTED MAMA looking nowhere near the right direction or showing ANY kind of awe. Or wonder, even. 

Never mind all that. 75% of this photo is all about the AWE and WONDER and JOY, so onto the poster it goes. 


That's really funny. It's so so so so funny. I mean, holy crap. Can you imagine what I thought when a friend texted me four years ago and said she thought she'd seen my photo at the zoo?? I was like, "Yeah, no. That's funny, but no. No way there's a photo of me at the zoo." I'd have known it was being taken, right? They would've had us sign a release or something, right?

But not two weeks later, when I had a random meetup at the zoo, I decided to go look, just to confirm, and THERE IT WAS. Noah was with me (See top photo) as I sat down right there and laughed. I laughed and laughed and laughed and LAUGHED. 

Holy crap.

So yeah. This thing is completely amusing. I still laugh every time. I laugh when my friends go to the zoo and report back that they "saw me again". 

But I'm also pretty horrified, to be honest. 

I mean, LOOK AT ME. I am the picture of "distracted mama".  I am not engaging with my own children, much less the zoo animals. This is ME, bandanna and braids and Moby wrap and all, and I'm STARING AT MY PHONE. 

I kind of look crabby. 


Never mind that what was ACTUALLY happening in this photo is that-- if you know me at all, you know this rings true--I had just taken my dozenth photo of my kids enjoying the zoo, and I was prepping it to post on Instagram. I was posting a photo of the moment, which took me OUT of the moment, and in that moment, I was immortalized as a Classic Common Distracted Mother, and it's there forever, mocking me. 

Making me scramble to explain. Causing me to stutter excuses. Forcing me to ask myself, "Is it REALLY better if my distracted moment was to post a photo? It's still me not being in the moment." Making me chuckle uncomfortably as I wonder if there is more truth than "accidental bad moment caught" in this dang zoo display photo. 

Most of the time, I mostly laugh and trust my gut that this is NOT the "real me"-- ignoring the good stuff to stare at the ephemeral chattering electronic nonsense in my hand. Most of the time, I trust myself and I know that while I could TOTALLY do with some trimming of my phone time, I am a pretty engaged and aware and "in the moment" mama. 

We all are, mamas. 

We are all pretty good mamas, and we would far rather choose an authentic moment with our kids or our surroundings (or both) than choose another two minutes of mindless scrolling. 

But I also mindlessly choose the scrolling more than I probably should, and it is something I think about a lot. Something I work on. And it's that part of me-- the part that still has work to do- that chafes at the permanent reminder that I am NOT a hands-free mama. Probably never will be. 

But the thing is-- and this applies to everything, not just phone habits-- if I'm aware of it, and I'm trying to stay aware, and I am taking little steps to do better, than I'm doing okay. It's not PERFECTION that matters, it's showing up daily and trusting that we can keep trying.  

"Aim for progress, not perfection."

So I'm going to try to lean more to the "amused" side of this Zoo Photo, and tell the "horrified" part of me to go take a nap. Because in spite of what it looks like in that photo, I'm doing okay, I think. 

And the whole thing IS pretty freaking hilarious. 


(Heading to the zoo anytime soon? Go look for us and take a photo and message me some "laughing" emojis. Let's just keep reminding each other that one bad photo isn't the worst thing in the world, and we all are doing the best we can.)

(P.S. Lucy was also there that day. She was in the stroller I am pushing, but is blocked by the poor sap in front.)


Love you, dear readers-- thank you for sitting with me in my mortification and amusement.

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