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A Letter to Chicky On Her First Official Day of Teaching – You Were Meant to Be…

Dear Chicky,

Today is your first “official” day of teaching.

It is the day that you will finally meet the class that was created for you.

Although you didn’t sound too nervous on the phone yesterday afternoon, I’m sure you’re probably feeling butterflies even as I type this.

I think it’s really neat that, because I am only into my fourth year of teaching, I can easily relate to what you’re going through today…the anticipation…the hopes…the overwhelmingly long to-do list.

You have been prepared for this day by an incredible education.

You know so much more about the “how-to’s” of teaching than I did my first day.  Your students are fortunate, because I know that you won’t waste a second with bad lesson plans because all of your plans are going to be well thought out and based on research-based strategies.

If I can be real honest with you, though, teaching is about so much more than the “how-to’s.”

It’s about building relationships with your children…learning about them as individuals…understanding how their unique traits create a classroom personality that will be different each year you teach.

Cover your children in prayer daily, for you don’t know the homes they come from and the challenges they struggle with after they exit your room.

Build them up with positive words.  Those words will leave permanent impressions upon their hearts.

Remember that you will never be able to love them too much.

There’s simply no such thing.

I am so proud of you!

I am so thankful that those children were handpicked by the Lord to be in your classroom.

Those children will be changed.

Your life will be changed.

Get ready for the biggest roller coaster ride you’ve ever been on.

Hang on tight, don’t take their hurtful words (for they will come) too personally, and enjoy the ride, my precious Daughter.

Welcome to the world of teaching, where you receive far more than you give.

Love,

Mama ♥

40-Minute Phone Calls

Yesterday afternoon, my phone rang.

I was delighted to see that it was my Rooster boy, calling to chat with his Mama.

Rooster’s first words were, “We haven’t talked in a while, so I thought I would call.”

Be still my beating heart.

He proceeded to tell me about the A-Day game he had attended.  A-Day is Auburn’s annual Spring Training game.

If you don’t watch sports, you might have missed the update on the news.  Attendance was at its highest ever for this event…over 80,000!  This was something, let me tell you, given Auburn’s horrible 2012-2013 season.  We have a new coach, and everyone is pumped!

In addition to the game was a somber reminder of how cruel people can be.  Toomer’s Corner has two beautiful oak trees that were poisoned a couple of years ago.  Despite all attempts to save them, it’s time to take them down.  These trees got rolled with toilet paper after every football victory, so seeing them come down will be difficult.

After the A-Day game, fans gave the trees one grand sendoff, let me tell you, and Rooster was right in the middle of it.

After he shared about the game, the conversation veered to other topics…classes…fraternity stuff…summer plans.

Ahhh…summer…when my baby will be coming home to work and just…well…relax.

As we talked, I could tell that he was happy about coming home.

He talked about a friend who is going through some family problems and is trying to grow wings to become an independent flyer, so to speak.

We talked about how much things had changed for us, as a family. 

I told him how much joy I had as I listened to him tell me that he wants to come home.  I shared that one of my greatest fears when he and Chicky went off to college was that they would not want to come back home.

He told me, “You’ve surprised me, Mama.  Although you and Daddy were super strict while we were in high school, you’ve allowed me to go away to school, take classes, and have fun.  I really like coming home too.”

Ahhh.

I had been worried that my over-protectiveness while my babies were living 24-7 under my roof had created hurdles that we would not be able to get over.

Rooster’s kind words set my worries at ease.

How I love my children.

How I treasure every moment I get to spend with them.

Do I regret holding tightly to them when they were younger?

Not really.

I did what I thought was best, and God worked even within my mistakes.

How I treasure such conversations as these.

I look forward to having my babies home in a couple of weeks when these conversations can occur face-to-face rather than over the phone.

Back He Goes

Late Friday afternoon, here’s what I saw in my garage…

Two cars in the garage can only mean one thing…

One of my babies is HOME!!!

Rooster surprised me during a phone conversation last week by telling me that he was coming home for the weekend!!!  I was so excited, but the week got away from me before I could do such fun things as wash his sheets.

Oops.

It didn’t matter.  The most important thing was that he was home.

I headed out to my school’s homecoming game while Rooster hung out with the Mr. before heading over to his youth pastor’s house to visit.

Rooster came home late, and though I’d crawled into bed shortly before, I was wide awake as I heard the garage door open.

We had a delightful conversation as he caught me up on some of his goings-ons.

He headed off to bed, Gambit following close behind…glad to have his boy home again.

We both slept in the next day before he headed out to get a hair cut.

Later, we went to Beef O’Brady’s and watched Auburn get beat…again (story of our lives this year, unfortunately).

Rooster then headed to the beach to catch up with a good friend of his.  Later, he went to a different friend’s house.

Meanwhile, I waited.

No.  Actually, I watched a bit of football and then napped the afternoon away.

I did no lesson planning.

When Rooster came home later that night, we had another wonderful conversation.

He’s such a terrific young man…always a joy to talk to.

That’s why I greeted Sunday with gritted teeth and a Grrr.

Mamas don’t like to say goodbye.

That is what I did, though, as I saw him load his clean clothes (yes, he brought them home to wash…it’s not just something that we college parents say happens).

He also took a bag of canned food that we’d pulled from my pantry for a fundraiser competition Auburn is participating against with Alabama.

Rooster was headed out to hunt with relatives in south Alabama before heading back to Auburn.

He was decked out in all camo…bestill my beating heart.  If you’ve grown up in the South, camo is just one of those things that makes your heart go pitter-patter.

Redneck sounding, I know, but I remember watching the boys in my class come into school after deer hunting…eyes bloodshot from their early mornings spent sitting in deer stands.

Rooster posed for obligatory photos, and off he went.

I threw out lots of “I love you’s” as he drove away.

Back he went…away from his mama.

He won’t be home until Thanksgiving, but I’ll get to see him in a few weeks for Auburn’s homecoming and his fraternity’s parent’s weekend.

The days won’t pass quickly enough for my taste though!

Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy the beautiful Fall weather and satisfy myself with the sweet memories we created this weekend.

Third Time Isn’t the Charm

They say that the third time’s the charm when doing something; however, there was nothing charming about escorting Chicky back to Southeastern so she could start her third year of school (she’s actually halfway through her junior year because she took a few online classes this summer).

She’d come home for what amounted to only four full days.

I didn’t get to see her much because I had in-service meetings all week.

Although her room was a disaster while she was home, she had it all cleaned up by Thursday, departure day…

I did take half of Thursday off so we could begin driving earlier and not get down there too late.

The hotel was very, very nice.  Trust me when I say this because I have stayed in quite a few hotels over the years thanks to her travel soccer adventures.

We had fun playing with Thor, who was thrilled to be out of his cage after such a long ride.

After watching Gabby Douglas win gold in the All-Around, we headed to bed.

The drive in to school was lovely.

Seeing the school’s sign as I entered campus was soothing.

This is a place where the students are genuinely cared for…where the words of Jesus are not only preached but lived out daily.

Chicky had her physical, and we began moving her stuff in.

It only took a few trips to the car because her wonderful roommates helped out.  Every time we walked out, we got to see this…

New volleyball court!  There are even hammocks around the green space!

Chicky’s rooming with most of the same girls this year…nearly all of them soccer players.  It’s a good group of gals.

I watched as Chicky made her bed, hung her clothes, and created order out of the chaos that had only recently been created when we dumped everything in her room.

She’s a pro now after having moved so many times.

As time progressed, my heart began to grow sad, as it always does during move-in day.

I decided to leave before the team dinner because I didn’t want Chicky to worry if I was going to be able to keep my emotions in check.

The rain that poured down matched my mood…

She and I, it turned out, had a few issues to deal with.

Now, let me explain, in case you’re new to my blog and, thus, new to the mother-daughter drama that has existed in my life, Chicky and I have some history.

I brought a lot of baggage into my grown-up life…ugly stuff I had to deal with when I was a child.

Those things made me determined to be a hands-on mother to my own children, but I still deal with the after effects of a very traumatic childhood.

My hurts have led me, at times (cough, cough) to cling to my children, and they have often pushed hard against my mama bear claws.

Chicky and I, being females, have fought the longest and the hardest.

It’s a trend that we’re both working hard to reverse.

During her visit home last week, I actually saw us turn a corner.

We’d had one of those stupid arguments (most are, you know), and we’d both yelled at each other.

Then, Chicky did something quite unusual.

She came back into the room later and spent the entire evening watching the Olympics with me.

In prior years, she would have NEVER done such a thing.

She would have hibernated for days…stewing about things.

I did take note and tucked the moment into my heart.

So, on Saturday, when I was having my “moment,” we cried.

A lot.

It was so hard.

I’m tearing up at the memory, still so fresh and painful.

To see her cry was upsetting as well.

Big crocodile tears on my precious baby’s face.

It just broke my heart because I knew I was getting ready to leave and wouldn’t see her for a while.

Who wants to leave that way?

I went back and forth in my mind…could I pull myself together and eat dinner or would I go?

In the end, I left, but both of us were still very, very upset.

Man, that was just awful.

I cried the entire way to the hotel and even thought about checking out, however late it was, and driving home.

But I decided not to.

Instead, I took a long, hot shower where I cried and cried and cried.

It was awful.

Then, I crawled into bed, determined to sleep away the pain.

About an hour later, through a drowsy haze, I heard my Facebook notification go off on my phone.

After checking it out, I realized that I felt a little better, so I called Chicky to find out what she was doing.

She sounded happy, like our “moment” hadn’t happened.

I asked if I could go back and see her one more time.

She agreed and met me in one of the covered areas that her dorm has on each corner.

She looked good.  She’d changed her clothes, put on some makeup, and was gearing up for the team activities that were soon to follow.

We didn’t have much time.

I apologized for the way I’d left and told her about the epiphany I’d had during the drive between the hotel and the school.

I’d fully expected year three’s dropoff to be less painful and could not understand why it was hitting me so hard.

I’d come to realize that it was because she and I had turned that corner a few days before that I didn’t want to leave her.

Usually, we’re at each others’ throats from the second day of our visit, but not this time.

We’d had so much fun…shared so many great conversations…deep things…some political stuff…grown up stuff.

I also told her that I was PMS’ing.

Folks, let’s get real just a second.

PMS stinks.

More so when the timing is when you’re taking your baby to college.

Even more so when you suspect you’re pre-menopausal.

My emotions are all over the place for a few days during PMS.

Ugh.

Chicky and I shared a lot in the five minutes we had when I returned.

I hugged her.

I told her I loved her, a mantra I’d repeated over and over during both conversations.

My love for her (and Rooster) drives me to act crazy.

Yeah.  I’m not exactly that “mature” mama you typically see.  I go a little nuts when I haven’t seen my kids in a while, and that causes Chicky much angst at times.

I think she’s waiting for me to grow up.

Either way, we were able to clear things up, and she finally conveyed to me that she understood why I acted nutty.

HUGE breakthroughs!

So I left my girl for the second time, and things were better.

Does that mean that I didn’t cry a little when I got back to the hotel?

Of course not.

I did order take out from Olive Garden…a huge deal for me who doesn’t eat much…less so when I’m upset.

I stayed up until midnight watching the Olympics and teared up when we won medals.

I got up early the next morning, bade goodbye to the room that had only, 24 hours beforehand, held my sweet Chicky, and headed home.

I cried when I got home.

I need my hormones to get straight again!

Regardless of my sadness, I know in my heart that Chicky is where she is supposed to be, and I am HAPPY that I did not turn into the mom who didn’t allow her child to leave home (had that done to me and did not like it one bit).

I am THRILLED that Chicky is goal-driven, knows how to take care of her business (she shared an apartment next to campus with friends this summer, held down a job, and took several classes), and is a role model for others.  She has leadership skills that I, at times, envy.

While the third time taking my girl to school didn’t feel charming, I’m thankful for the lessons I learned.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that next year, when I take her for her final semester (yes, Chicky, I am going despite what I said, but I have A PLAN!), I won’t get gushy-eyed.

And if I do, well, I guess I’ll be keeping with tradition.

I love you Chicky, and I’m praying for an injury-free season, a deepening of old and new friendships, and for continued growth in your Christian walk.

Have You Ever Wondered

Have you ever wondered why parents send their children to small, Christian colleges?

Well, the adorable gal in the following video…one of Chicky’s teammates…shares what makes Southeastern University so fabulous.

My nephew and Barb’s son will be attending Southeastern in August.  Super Sis and Barb will shed tears as they drop off their precious boys; however, they can rest assured that the guys will enjoy a well-rounded, Christ-centered experience.

The Results Are In

If you read yesterday’s post (Question #8 – Random Thought), you saw that my Chicky was awaiting the results from an MRI that she had undergone on her shoulder.  The concern was that she had torn a ligament or tendon or something that’s inside that part of the body.

She was scheduled to get her results first thing in the morning…

I had to teach, but I told her that I’d call her as soon as I got out of class.  I have second period planning, you see, and so I wouldn’t have to wait long.

I nervously called.

When she answered the phone, I listened for clues as to how she was feeling.

You know the drill.  If you care about anyone (in other words, if you’re breathing), you always look for ways to determine how your loved ones are really feeling…especially if you’re communicating long-distance.

I didn’t even have to ask a question when she answered:

“Mama.  Nothing’s torn.  I probably have a strained ligament.”

Oh my gosh.

Tears filled my eyes.

I told her this, and she chuckled.

I assured her that I had not been worried and had accepted the fact that we would get through whatever came our way.

Still, she understood my tears of happiness.

She told me she was, of course, relieved as well.

This is a girl who LOVES the game of soccer.

I know I’ve only said this a time, or two, or three, but she really does.

I’ve seen this girl child play with bronchitis (don’t be a hater, but the girl was going to walk across the state if I didn’t drive her to the tournament).

She’s played with a 104 degree temperature and the stomach virus.

So, she’ll resume her play, but she’ll be sporting a shoulder brace, specially ordered (thanks to a teammate’s father).

Chicky will work out with the team’s trainer to get full range of motion, and God will do the rest.

Thank you so much for your prayers.  I am POSITIVE that God heard each and every one of them.

One-Sided Phone Conversations

Last night’s phone conversation with Chicky went something like this:

“Hello.”

“Hello.”

“What’s up?”

“Just got home from the game.  I’m waiting for the shower.”

“Ok.  How was the game?”

“We won, 3-0.”

“Yes, I heard the first half wasn’t good.”

“No, we were a little lazy.”

“I heard that you hustled.  Did you have an assist?”

[insert a brief description of a possible assist]

“How’s your week looking?”

“Fine.  We leave on Thursday for games next weekend.”

“Good.”

“The shower’s free.  I’ve gotta go.”

“Ok. I love you.”

“Bye.”

That was it.

This is fairly typical.

I often wonder when the conversations will change…when they will become two-sided…a little about her and a little about me.

Call this selfish or indulgent if you want, but it would be nice to have this almost-adult child of mine express an interest in my life.

Sigh.

Hormonal?

Perhaps.

Still, the desire lingers on.

Maybe one day…

 

Little Girl to Little Lady

Ten months ago, I traveled across the state to take Chicky to college.

My heart shattered into a thousand pieces as I bade goodbye to my little girl.  You might remember when I wrote about that day.

The first few weeks were very difficult as I adjusted to the void that her absence left.

She, however, was having the time of her life.

Immediately upon her arrival at Southeastern, she was surrounded by older soccer teammates who quickly took her under their wings.

I was able to attend a few of her soccer games, and with every visit, I sensed her growing in confidence and maturity.

Thanks to Facebook, I watched, through photographs, as she demonstrated this new found confidence through her posture and the clothes she wore.

A mama doesn’t miss much, you see.

Her trip home for Christmas break was not without its troubles.  We had to set up some ground rules.  She was used to coming and going as she pleased.  I was used to having teenagers home by 11.

When she came home for Spring Break, things had gotten better.  I sensed a mutual respect growing between us.  I noticed more changes in her.  For instance, she was sporting a new hair color.

Apparently, girls in college like to experiment with hair dye.

Yes, my tomboy daughter had been delving into very girlie indulgences.

During Spring Break, Chicky shared her plans for the future.

She started the registration process for the local community college.  She’s going to take three classes this summer.  The education program at Southeastern is intense, and she’s going to need to earn a lot of credits to finish, so she wants to take a few classes at home during the summers.

I admire her for looking ahead.  A lot of kids her age just don’t have a clue and prefer to live life by the seat of their pants.

Not my Chicky.

Chicky came home for Easter weekend.

That was when we gifted her the car the Mr. had bought her a few weeks before…

She was thrilled to finally have her own vehicle.  She even washed it over the weekend.

While she was working on the car, I was working in my flower bed, and she commented, “Mama, I’m so glad I didn’t get a car when I turned 16.  I appreciate it so much more now.”

It was another sign of maturity.

My family went out to eat after attending church on Easter.  During the car ride, Chicky gave me suggestions for activities I could do with my sixth graders.  She had been doing a bit of student teaching through the Junior League down south.  She also took one or two education classes this past semester.

We had fun comparing notes about our classes and experiences.

We had finally found common ground.

In fact, after returning to school, Chicky, who rarely calls just to “chat,” called me to share the ideas she and a group in one of her classes had for the lesson plan they had to write for their final exam.

Our conversation was the most normal kind you could imagine a mother and a daughter having.

While this may seem insignificant to most people, it means the world to me.

Chicky and I have had a few issues over the years.  I am hoping that this is the beginning of the end of them…the beginning of healing and the creation of a new relationship.

Last weekend, Chicky attended the college’s sports banquet.

It was quite the fancy shindig.  The girls on the soccer team dressed to the nines, and that included Chicky.

Teresa, the coach’s wife (and photographer extraordinaire) took pictures of the girls.  I chuckled when I saw them sporting soccer cleats with their fancy outfits…

Chicky had called me and told me that she had been nominated for an award.  Neither of us expected her to actually receive it.

She’s only a Freshman, after all.

She called me after the ceremony was over.

She’d been given the award.

Actually, she’d received three awards that evening:  Best Defender, Queen of Spring, and MVP.

These awards were voted on by her teammates…her peers.

I was humbled.  I think she was too.

It was the culmination of a fantastic first year of college.

When I rode away from Chicky last August, I never imagined that she would grow and change so much over the course of such a short period of time.

It seems that, in the blink of an eye, Chicky has been transformed from a little girl to a little lady…

…A little lady who can make a pair of cleats and a fancy dress look like the latest fashion craze.

I love you, Chicky!

A Boy and His Key Chain

Observe…

That, my friends, is Rooster’s key chain.

I drove “his” car this morning, not paying attention to the key chain until I arrived at work.

I chuckled as I inspected the various items…

Captain America

 

Drum Key

 

Miniature Drum Stick (?)

 

From our cruise two Thanksgivings ago (I think)

Oh sure, it was funny…until…

I took Rooster to an appointment this afternoon.

You see, something magical happened to Rooster over the course of the week.

Ever since we came home with the first car, Rooster had decided that he better get serious about his driving.

He had been practicing…here and there, anyway.  But, he’d never been super-gung-ho about it.

Until this past week.

I took him to one of Podunk’s busiest streets (yes, it’s actually four-lane) and made him navigate some tricky maneuvers (i.e. turn left in one of those barely marked, no turn signal lanes that runs down the center of the road).  He made a couple of three-point turns on smaller roads.

I ran him through all of the “important” skills just to prove to me that he was ready.

He was.

I figured it was time…

It was time for him to make THAT appointment.

I checked him out of school early this afternoon, and off we went.

I could tell he was nervous.  He had not slept well last night, and he still had a stomachache from the lack of sleep.

I think he grew even MORE nervous as he pulled into the DMV’s parking lot.

We said a little prayer that he wouldn’t get the female instructor who is notorious for failing license seekers.

She’s so good at her job that she has bragged, as she’s gotten into cars, that she’s got the highest failure rate of any tester.

Uh huh.

As we looked around, we didn’t see anyone besides her.

Rooster groaned.

Finally, his number was called.

As he walked out the door, he gave me one last look.

It was the look of a lamb being led to slaughter.

My heart lurched.

I had to find a bathroom.

I had drank an entire bottle of water, and I’d had to “go” for quite some time, but there was no way I was letting my baby out of my sight until I absolutely had to.

I prayed as I did my business.

It seems as if I’ve done a lot of praying in bathrooms lately (remember when I took my General Knowledge Test?).

Anyhoo…

I waited.

I worked on my 6th grade lesson plan for next week.

Every few minutes, I would look up to see if he was coming in the door.

Then, I’d return to my book.

Finally, I saw Rooster.

I nervously got up and walked up to him.

He was smiling.

This was a good sign.

Indeed, it was.

He had passed!!

As the lady (same gal who tested him) asked the perfunctory questions for getting a license, I heard him answer with a “Yes, ma’am” this and a “Yes, ma’am” that.

I raised my eyebrows.

We do live in the South, but my children don’t always do what I’ve tried to teach them to do.

I was proud of him.

We had to sit and wait a few minutes while his license printed out.

That’s when he gave me the scoop.

He told me that he had been very nervous (understandable…Chicky had failed her test during her first try…under this lady…before she’d even left the parking lot).

As the lady began asking him driving questions, he answered by saying, “Yes, ma’am” this and “Yes, ma’am” that.  He told me that he’d gone above and beyond the polite factor just to keep her in a good mood.

I think it worked.

He drove us home, quite pleased (and relieved).

A mere sixty minutes later, he was ready for his first solo flight.

He and the Mr. were going to DQ to celebrate, and Rooster was going to help a friend from church move furniture into his house.  Rooster took “his” car so that he could leave straight from the ice cream place.

Just as I did with Chicky, I took photos as he was leaving…

That’s him, following the Mr.

Off he went, happy as a lark.  He was very responsible, even remembering to text me when he arrived at his destination and again when he was about to leave.

He came home much sooner than expected, and you want to know what the first words out of his mouth were?

“Mama, may I go to so-and-so’s house to spend the night?”

You know what that meant, don’t you?

Another solo drive.

Sigh.

I walked him outside, gave him the usual reminders to be careful, and then I watched him drive away.

I had a few tears this time.

I cannot believe that I will never have one of these days again.

My baby bird has sprouted wings.

It is very bittersweet.

Meanwhile, I can smile because, though he may be making small forays around town, he’s not quite finished growing up.

His key chain is proof of that.

Spring Breaking With Chicky!

Chicky arrived home for Spring Break!!!

She’s already taken over the bathroom…

I’ll admit that seeing her suitcase in her bedroom makes me a teensy bit sad…

The suitcase reminds me that she’ll eventually have to go back.

For now, I will enjoy her while I can and rejoice in the fact that I will only have to endure one more separation before she comes home for the summer.

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