The Power of Suggestion

“Can I jump with you guys on the trampoline?”

“Sure, Mommy.  We can jump together.  Just don’t break it.”

“I’ll sure try not to.  And maybe I should wait until my knee gets better before I try jumping on the trampoline.”

After the fall on the ice a couple of weeks ago, my knee is now a battleground of blue, grey, brown, and green bruises, and itchy, itchy, itchy.  The craziness of the itching is how you know it’s on the mend, they say.   So maybe I’ll get that incident behind me before I go playing Crack the Egg on the trampoline.

“Or you could lose some weight.”  Tucker’s suggestion.

“That’s an option, yes.”  (Pause.)  “Hey, buddy?  Here’s a good rule to remember: Never, ever, ever suggest to a girl that she should lose some weight.”

“I know.”

“You know?  But you still said it to me?”

“Well, I know not to say it to girls.”  Right.  And, still.

“If you say that to your girlfriend, she might not love you anymore.”

“I don’t have a girlfriend.”

“But someday, it’s likely you will.”

“She won’t love me, but she’ll like me.”

“She might not.  This is what I’m trying to tell you.  If you suggest to a girl that she should lose weight, she will think you’re saying she’s not beautiful the way she is.  She will think you would love her more if she were shaped differently.  And you don’t want her to feel that way.”

“Right.  That’s why I’m only saying it to you.”

“Well, it’s still not my favorite.”

“That’s why I’m only saying it to you.”

And I’m finished with this conversation.

At The End of The Day

“Mommy, I wish you weren’t an author.”

I have just finished an evening of teaching.  It’s been a long, rough day, as is the nature of a day when I’m teaching: there’s no way the Enemy is going to let me sail through the day without a snag.  It has something to do with speaking truth: I become most aware of my own indiscretions.

The boys have spent the evening with a girl we adore.  Miss G is my right-hand girl, nearly a resident babysitter.  I love her, and so do they.  And now I have come home to two children who have resisted the bedtime routine, one is playing with his homemade ‘grappling hook’ made from shoelaces and a boomerang, and the other is a weepy puddle of fears.  We are on the couch, a tangle of arms and legs.  And shoelaces.

“Why, lovey?”

“Because I don’t want you to teach other places and be gone and travel to all these other countries.”

(The upcoming country I’m visiting is called Ohio.)

I try to remind them that we’ve spent the last three evenings together.  I try to remind them that we had a great Trio Date last night, with extra cheese on our pizza.  I try to explain that this is my job now, this author gig.  I think about explaining words like “mortgage.” I try to tell them that I’m obeying God by speaking the words he has given me.

But none of these things matter to them.  And too much of “God’s will” could just make them resent God for keeping their momma’s calendar full.

I let them talk and cry (and grapple with shoelaces) until I realize this cycle is going nowhere good.  It’s after nine o’clock, and we have in our genetic composite a curfew on rationality.  Stay up too late, and we’re toast.  No closet lights can shine a light against irrationality.  Sleep is the only cure.

“Mommy, maybe you can write a poem for us.  So when you die, and Grandma and Poppa own us, then they could read it to us.”

Nothing I can ever say will ever help them believe I am safe, here, and not secretly dying.

I carry them to their bedroom.  “Boys, let me tell you a bedtime story.  It’s about two boys, and their names are Toby and Tanner.”

“They start with T, just like us!”
“Are there sisters in the story?  There should be sisters.  Taylor… and Twister.”
“Twister is a boy’s name.”
“Then she could be called Rosie.  Toby, Tanner, Taylor and Rosie.”
“I want them to be called Tucker and Tyler.  And Tricia.”
“Oh, like us?”
“Yes.  Us.”
“Which one are you?”
“I’ll be Tucker.”
“And I’ll be Tyler.”

Deal.  I’ll be Tricia, and this story is getting much easier to tell.

“Once upon a time, there was a mommy and two little boys.  And the mommy became an author.  She wrote books, and people read them.  And sometimes the people wanted her to read to them, or talk to them, or teach them.  So the mommy, Tricia, obeyed God and she shared all the words he had given her.  And sometimes that means she was gone for an evening or a day or a night or two.”

“Or four.”  Right.  That upcoming trip to the country of Ohio will be for four days.

“But, no matter how many books she wrote, no matter what people called her – writer, author, speaker, teacher – the most important name was was the first one she had been given: Mommy.  She loved her children more than anything in the world.”

“More than God?”

“Well, she loved them differently than God.  God made her, so she worships him.  And God gave her these two boys, so she worships him.  But she loves these boys more than anyone in the world.”

They study my face, looking for truths in the twin bed with us.

“The mommy traveled sometimes, but she always came back.  And they could call her anytime they wanted to, and they could do Facetime, and she left them gifts to open every single day.”

“Did she mail them?”

“No, she prepared them before she left.”  And now she’s adding this to her List of Tasks before Traveling Next Week.

“She always came back, she was always there when they needed her, but they did not always need her.  They are smart, safe boys, and their mom loves them the most.”

Someone tooted in that tender moment, which was just the tension breaker we needed.  And my cue to wrap things up.

I kissed them each, I hugged them tight.  “Good night, my loves. I love you more than all the books in the world.”

I stepped into the darkness of the hallway.  I blew them one more kiss that they’ll never see.

God, help me to do this well. 

The Second Year

If I were to describe my first year without Robb in just a few words, I would choose these:

Shocked.
Terrified.
Blind.
Numb.

I was in shock of many kinds, emotional and physical.   I spent months not believing that this was really real.  I spent nights writhing in panic and disbelief, the freezing sweat of remembering.

I was terrified.  For more reasons than I can name.

I was blind, walking forward without a map, never ready for the next blow.  And there was always, without fail, another blow.

I was numb because that’s what the body does when one must survive.  It stops feeling.

Those are big, bold words.

With those major players on 2011’s roster, there wasn’t room for sadness.  She needs a space all her own.

Now that I am one month into this second year, I can see that it is different.

I am no longer shocked; these facts have become my life.
I am no longer terrified; I am actually unspeakably brave.
I am no longer blind; I have lived through one full calendar year, and even if I don’t like what’s coming next, at least I know I’ll surpass it.
I am no longer numb; I’m starting to feel.

Frostbite doesn’t hurt when fingers are frozen.  It’s when those nerve endings start to warm up – that’s when frostbite cuts like a knife.

I’m starting to feel.
I’m starting to cry again.  I hadn’t in a long while.
But these are different tears,
warm and healing.

Perhaps the first year was for my head;
perhaps this second year is for my heart.

A New Chapter Starts Today

Thoughts in 2007…

Well, here I am.

A stay-at-home mom with two little tiny guys.
Tucker is two,
Tyler is four months old,
Robb is loving us and climbing the corporate ladder,
and we’re tangled up in diapers,
a double stroller,
adventures to the park,
and pleas for my sanity.
I need an outlet.
Maybe I’ll start a blog.
I’ve heard that’s a good idea.

My profession is teaching, and I guess I still am a teacher. Instead of a class roster of 29, I have a full time following of 2. But I’m still teaching.
I’m ‘Teaching Tuck and Ty.’

So, sure. I’ll give it a go.
Let’s see… Start Your Own Blog Here.
Click.

And, now, here I am.
More than four years later,
More than 1,500 blog posts,
More than a thousand daily readers.
Tucker is six,
Tyler is four,
I am a widowed single mom,
and I am still teaching Tuck and Ty.

The irony of that blog title isn’t lost on me.
I thought I would write about the daily musings of teaching two little boys, and I did.
But my genre expanded to include the daily thoughts of how I may

teach them well as their only parent,

teach them to be men without the help of their dad,

teach them to grieve and laugh all in the same day,

teach them that even though we were once a sturdy wagon,

we can be a really strong tricycle.

The boys have grown taller,
I have grown stronger,
the story has grown bigger,
and it’s time to give all of this a new home.

Welcome to The Thoughts and Writings of Tricia Lott Williford.

A new chapter starts today.