The Most Important Thing I Say: Mom Talk
The most important thing I say to my children can be categorized in two parts, true wisdom and “mom talk.” Wisdom is something they embrace, it in some ways defines them and me. Mom talk is regurgitated in heavy doses of misunderstandings and razzing as the children recount the lunacy they believe to be the whole truth.
My oldest is married and runs a successful handmade business. And my second is a Marine, with a wife. My third is a hippie and works at an ashram in Colorado. And my fourth is a genius, overachieving, smart-mouthed thespian-pianist, with a propensity for Disney princesses and violent wrestling matches with the youngest.
The youngest, “the vandals,” Sam and Charlie, are just 7 and 5.
And yesterday was one of those days. Black Friday was sad for me. Thanksgiving day I was too busy to truly miss the three oldest. They were not home for the celebration. One prepared her first feast with her husband and in-laws, complete with, according to Instagram, 15 of the fanciest gluten-free pies, I have ever seen. I have seen her apartment, I don’t know how she fit this many pastries in 900 square feet. The Marine was with his bride in their little base housing condo, on the other side of the country. And the hippie was dining with fellow hippies.
I think they had tofurkey.
So yesterday I grieved a little, missing “us,” and how things used to be. In the midst of that sorrow, I recounted past holidays and toiled with the most important things I did for them, the things I say and wish I could or did say, which I propose is at the core of motherhood.
Mom talk is the stuff we say, and the voices in our heads reminding us of our imbecility.
I wouldn’t say motherhood is measured in the totality of guilt and regret, but guilt and regret make up about 76% of the journey. That’s not scientific data, so don’t use that reference in any journal articles or your graduate thesis. It just seems like a reasonable number for the wild ride of mom life.
I yell less in my late forties with two young vandal sons than I did in my early thirties with the Originals. According to the originals, we used them as slave labor, paying them a less than generous allowance of a quarter a week.
And to this day, even the Marine will cower if my husband whips off his belt.
Which he can do in one swift and terrifyingly threatening movement. Recently, when we were all together with the 3 oldest snickered and teased about how my husband, Justin would bark at them and then in Batman-style, pull his belt off and catch them by the throat as they ran away in terror.
Justin was entirely offended. I have no memory of this and think they watch too many action-adventure movies. But after they all dispersed Justin and I talked about how we were then and how things are now. We both agreed we are a lot more chill with our three youngest. Neither of us ever remember punishing the teen genius, Sophie for anything. No, nothing.
This is in part because she is perfect, also we are a little scared of her.
And Sam and Charlie? I don’t know how to explain it. Sam was adopted as an infant. Charlie was adopted out of foster care. Maybe somewhere in our hearts and minds, we have ourselves convinced, they need a little extra tenderness.
But Justin decided to test our current parenting powers. So he batmaned his belt off, just like in the old days and both of the little boys fell to the floor, laughing. He tried it on Sophie, she glared at him over her shoulder, rolled her eyes, and went upstairs.
Yes, I know, we are not the boss of this house. Don’t judge me.
The older three have video footage on their iPhones of the Marine napping on the couch. The Hippie stood close to the sleeping serviceman and batmaned his belt off. And the 6’4” trained killer jumped off the couch, saluted, and yelled, “SIR, YES SIR!”
Then, becoming aware of his surroundings, he punched the hippie in the throat and said, “Don’t scare me like that you idiot!”
They all think it is hilarious. I have my concerns.
Truly, I can’t complain, they are all basically functioning in adulthood. Although the oldest now thinks she needs a dog. I promise, she would benefit more from a rabid possum in that tiny apartment, which already houses her, a husband, and two cats. One of which is morbidly obese and has a chronic equilibrium deficit and can’t walk a straight line or land on its feet. And the other, who is the meanest and most passive-aggressive feline I have ever encountered. I keep a prayer journal and #16 reads, “Lord God, please don’t let Trout maul Maggie and Christian to death in their sleep.” So far, other than a bloody incident last year, this prayer has been answered. But, for the moment, that is our heaviest concern for our grown-babies.
I know, easy street.
But I am not bragging, and if you are in the throes of adult-baby anguish, please know, I understand. There is nothing more gut-wrenching. Whoever invented the term “terrible twos” never had a three-year-old or a 19-year-old who believes they drive better stoned than sober.
So yesterday, these were some of the things I pondered.
The important things I said, the folly, the missing, and the mom talk, we’re all in the forefront of my mind.
I know I told them about Jesus. And I talk to my second round of small humans about Jesus all the time. Although, the originals could recite the Old Testament verbatim, in Latin by their 5th birthday. And recently, Sam, the 7-year-old vandal asked me who Noah was. He heard some friends talking about a boat with 2 of every animal on the playground and “some guy named Noah.”
Don’t judge me, you’re the one reading this madness.
And this is how I went to bed. Stuffy nosed from crying and missing, and big, deep thoughts about the important things I say, mom talk, the stuff I have forgotten or will never forget.
And I fell asleep wondering if any of it matters or if all they remember is the mom talk.
Frankly, much of the good and bad get lost in translation. Even if we were homicidal, serial, child abusers, the state of Texas let us get two more children. Seriously, I know there had to be some glimpse of dignified parenting for that to have been permitted.
I mean, in most cases basic biology allows for the majority of reproductive motherhood. We had to have character witnesses and legal documents to acquire Sam and Charlie. But right before I fell asleep I quickly added another prayer to my journal.
#347: Please let the most important mom talk I say to my children be something they cannot deny, “Just Jesus.”
I have said this before, I will say it again, you can’t make your children love Jesus. You can tell them about Him. In their youth, much like Santa Claus or the tooth fairy, you can jazz Him up and make Him loveable. But at some point, they will have to make Him their own. You cannot do it for them.
And while, most certainly, the above text makes me sound less than skilled at giving parenting advice, I promise, this is the most important of truths. We as mothers do not get to decide who the God of their hearts will be.
All this to say, I am wide awake at 3 am, to profess aside from the mom talk dribble, they hear us.
I am pretty sure Maggie will get a dog. And, I am nearly positive she will regret it. I am pretty confident she is just trying to stuff the need to breed.
And mom talk won’t fix what she is craving. I can tell her I think she needs to pray about the decision, but I cannot make her seek Him, or His wisdom.
What I can do is trust what I know I did say and He who I said it about.
I must have tossed and turned quite a bit. And believe it or not, I do have something important to report. Because at 2:56 am the bedroom door opened and I opened my sleep-deprived eyes to Sam standing next to my bed.
“What’s wrong little man?”
And Sam said, “I had a badder dream. Say to me, ‘Jesus be all over you,’ so I can go back to sleep.”
I pulled him close and breathed in his musky buffalo boy smell, counted back to the last time he had a bath. And I neglected the head game, mom talk about how awful I am and said, “Jesus be all over you… help my boy to sleep.” Sam retorted, “Fanks.” And went back to bed.
Knowing I was done pretending to sleep, I got up, looked for my stupid computer in the afterglow disaster of Thanksgiving to write a post about mom talk… and the most important thing we say to our babies.
I wholly subscribe to the notion, I mess up plenty. The vandals are in desperate need of a bath.
My littles don’t have the same parents as my bigs. We are just different, there is no point in trying to change that. But different isn’t necessarily bad. Consistency isn’t what will be written on their hearts, but the name of Jesus remains.
No, I can’t make them love Him. But I believe in Him more than I believe in me. And while they might stray, eat tofurkey, and certainly struggle with basic common sense and spiritual strengths and weaknesses, there is power in what we say to them.
His name is Jesus.
And He loved them before I knew them. He died for them as He died for me. They are my babies, but they are also my brothers and sisters in Christ. What goes for me, goes for them. Where I go, He goes. The Lord of my heart is the Creator of the babies who make me question every other aspect of my life.
The power of His name is the most important thing I will ever say.
Mom talk, the good, the bad, and the made-up, matters.
And because of this everything else is simply… well.
I am going back to bed.
Don’t judge me.
May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Jami
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