Ragamufffins?

The telephone’s ringing woke me from late evening tv sleep. The oldest son’s name glowed, backlit by the screen. His voice is deeper and softer than the other two.

“Momma, do you remember ever calling us ragamufffins?”

What? No. Sleep clogged my memory bank. Had I? I hoped not. Where’d I heard the word last?

A silly conversation between my son and daughter-in-law had led to the phone call.

After we’d sorted out the memory and searched for a definition of the word, I’d concluded, no, we’d never called our boys ragamufffins. No, we’d straight up used the word orphan, which the beloved son then remembered. Yes. That was it. Orphan.

A ragamuffin or an orphan is someone who doesn’t belong. That’s not always bad. Not in the way we usually define those words. Sometimes, they’re just people who are not caught in this world. They belong to another, to a greater being, to a higher power.

I shook my head, sighing as we ended the call. Great, just great. Good job, mom. Of all the child rearing triumphs and failures, this is one of the memories that sort of stuck..

Thirty minutes after the phone call, I remembered my last run-in with the word ragamuffin. Rich Mullins and the Ragamuffin Band. I’d shown the movie to my boys a few years earlier and gotten mixed reviews.

Well, I’d liked it. Rich Mullins had been popular in my day. And the movie is good. So, I text my son. Maybe he’d remember the movie, too. Not that the movie really had anything to do with the earlier phone call, but I had a sudden need for him to remember.

This post from a few months back sat drafted and forgotten amid the rush of my work days and my menopausal sleepless nights. Then today, the blue-eyed boy and his bride sat with us for a stolen hour, the last of their Christmas week off before a few hours of driving home.

Have you ever tried to breathe in every moment, like a scent you want to remember? Grown kids move away. Their phone calls become the filler between gasping absences and their visits like our need to breathe.

Ragamufffins? Hardly.

Lists, regret, and belief

Hello Beautiful – Mercy Me

I hear parents all the time talk about what they’d do differently now. Wisdom and regret mix like oil and water. But pure joy at watching these kids become the adults I envisioned is a balm that soothes this momma’s soul.

So the next list. It’s shorter. The listing doesn’t come all at once anymore. The numbers have begun to require more contemplation. And that’s okay. I don’t want these thoughts to become cliche. They’re not trite. I’m not nearly philosophical enough for all that. Just a mom. Dyed blonde to cover the grey. Soft where there were once defined angles. So, here we go.

  1. Don’t let anger rob you of wisdom.
  2. Think before you speak may be the best advice I can give you.
  3. Be you. You’re not us. At some point, you have to decide not to be a product of your upbringing or that becomes just an excuse.
  4. Hurtful, angry words are hard to forget. Don’t let those define you.
  5. When you’re older, you’ll look back and realize how young you were.
  6. When you have kids, every year you’ll see a little more of what your Momma sees.
  7. Remember the time that coworker of yours called me your Moms? Does Moms have an apostrophe? Anyway, that’s one of my favorite memories.
  8. I usually think of you within five minutes of waking up. Crazy, huh? It’s a mom thing.
  9. Sometimes I still picture you sitting in the car, your little feet hanging over the edge of the seat. You were that small once upon a time.
  10. Did you know meeting you was the scariest and the most thrilling day?
  11. I’m so proud when I watch you overcome an inner battle.
  12. In a very public place, someone shared a life experience with me that has had traumatic repercussions in their life. This person then asked what we’d done to cause the trauma in your life. That question felt like a punch to the gut. Glancing around, noticing the surprised faces on those closest in range of overhearing, I struggled to reply. I fought back tears. I stumbled over words, regrets, and broken memories. Sometimes, people will dare to touch your most tender fear. How you handle those moments will change with maturity. But, what’s more important than your response in the moment, is that you continue to lay down your broken things at the foot of the cross. You can’t undo the done. You can pray for healing. You can pray for compassion. You can pray for forgiveness. Don’t let mistakes or regret shape your responses or your prayers. Let faith. Let hope. Let love. Let trust. Let wisdom.

These twelve. A longish short list. We’re ever learning. I don’t believe our mistakes make us who we are. I don’t believe regret has value. I believe in telling you the truth as much as I can define what truth is in this life I’ve already lived. I love you heart and soul.

Mom

When waters rise and we learn an awful lot about letting go

This has been a hard day. My family is in the Hurricane Harvey zone of southeast Texas, and we spent the entire day cleaning out a flooded home. The Entire Day. I still smell the stench of rotten food, wet carpet, and the mud.

Water soaked four to five feet high of everything. The ground. The furniture. The walls. We set mildew covered shoes out to dry, and I thought about yesterday when I stopped to tell a total stranger how sorry I was about his apartment flooding. That man shook my hand and thanked me for caring. Simply for caring. I still tear up remembering.

But today, I lost a little of myself. And now I’m dealing with that left over bad taste of anger that somehow mingles with regret and makes you feel a little sick inside. So here I am, and I don’t even know you, but I need to tell you something anyway. See, we’ve come around this table. We’ve come here to a common place, and I hope you’ll bear with me.

I lost it today. We salvaged what we could from the flooded house. And then we salvaged water ruined things. The unsalvageable, the irreparable, the soon to be molded and mildewed. (Is that even a word?)

Yesterday, I spent all day traveling around the area, seeing home after home with piles of debris. I kept trying to fathom how you lay all your hard earned possessions at the curb, water soaked and ruined, and just walk away. Then, I spent today arguing with someone who needed to and wouldn’t.

Neither day felt right. I have this ache inside spreading slow though my veins. The grief for their loss. The heartbreak over my angry words. I’ve spent a week distraught over what others have lost and in one day, I’ve demanded that someone see reason, let it all go, and walk away. Turns out, for some, it really isn’t all that easy. It isn’t just stuff and those two benign sounding words are cruel.

I’m wishing hard this were someone else’s post, someone else’s day. I had expected to feel good about our labor today. Instead, I’m sore body, heart, and soul.

Floods take away more than stuff; floods take away pride, possessions, comfort, and memories. Floods leave behind ground that needs to be found again, turned over, and revived. It turns out that getting to the good ground is the real labor, and the stuff is the harvest of previous labor.

Tomorrow we’ll try again with the pulling out and packing up. Tomorrow I will find myself. I’ll apologize. I’ll extend grace. And I’ll quietly pray for the flooded out to find the ability to throw out and start again.