Just hand over the chocolate…

“It must be nice to live in your optimistic, sunny damn world.”

That was the insult hurled at me by my truly handy husband at the moment of his exasperation.  He was in the middle of hanging a very large TV from an impossibly uncooperative mount above our fireplace.  At the moment of his greatest frustration, I said something about how amazing he is and how I knew he would have it solved and looking good in mere moments.

Truth be told, had it been me in his place, I’m quite sure I would have been uber annoyed by the chirping of happy thoughts too.

However, I do think attitude is everything, and I know happiness is something you have to help yourself to.  Sometimes, though, I forget.  Moments like this one with Tom happen and they are like little post-it notes from the Holy Spirit.  They help me to remember how my attitude influences the quality of my relationships and how joyful my life is each day.

Some things we can control (like choosing optimism), and others we cannot.

Controlling the fact that my oldest son is soon moving out of the house isn’t something I can or even want to control.  Still, it’s the most bittersweet thing imaginable and it’s never far from my mind.  I’ve read the articles on what I should expect with this “limbo summer” and how normal and natural it is for my kid to do all the things he’s doing.  It’s the slow untangling to his more independent life.  I get it.

I’d been told about the rising tension between us that would come from nowhere and I’d hoped those moms were just wrong about me and Nick Fred.  The warnings were clear about younger siblings lamenting the loss to come and trying to cling a bit to their brother, but that I should expect that will be to no avail.  The warning about him staying up too late, retreating to the basement and spending every available moment with everyone but us was issued.  Those “mentor moms” around me have warned me.  It’s normal.  It’s fine.  I thought I was prepared.  I’m not.

So, today, it’s time to reframe.

What I reeeeallly want is for my son to just stay right here by his mom and talk to me.  I want him to know in his core that he is loved beyond measure and that we believe in him.  I want him to know he must work hard and be honest, and have fun, and dream big and laugh often and be true to himself.  I want him to know I’m not really mad about the giant pile of clean laundry that sat for DAYS in his cubby in the mud room.  I want him to know it’s not really a federal offense that when he did eventually move it that he put it on the staircase and made an even more gigantic mess.  I need him to understand that he DOES need to finish the thank you notes for all the generous graduation gifts but that my nagging tone about all of this really just hides the incredibly proud and completely broken heart that is underneath the noise of my always loud voice.

In 2 months, his giant pile of folded clothes which has fallen over sideways will be gone.  That silly green “Tebow” Jets t-shirt which matches NOTHING will not be waiting for me to fold it again and roll my eyes.  Part of my heart will be living in Cincinnati.   I have this lump in my throat that won’t go away.  Also, I am bursting with excitement and pride.  Reconciling all of that has been a struggle.

What this Jesus girl does when she’s struggling is look for guidance.

“Certainly sons are a gift from the Lord.”  Yep.  It’s right there in Psalm 127.  BOOM!

So, I’m not delusional.  I know I will continue to be a complete contradiction of feelings.

Mostly, though, I just feel love.  How unbelievably grateful I am!

God is love.  That’s another thing I know and good gosh it sure helps.  If God is….well….God, and I am just Shelly then I’m thinking He probably loves my kid even more than I do.  Come to think of it, He must love ME that much too.  It will all be well.

For 18 years, I have known the face of Jesus through this kiddo.  He is indeed a gift from the Lord.  Tom and I?  We have been blessed beyond measure by this big bear of a kid named Nick.  It’s time.  He’s ready.


Nick Fred and me after the baccalaureate mass.

Happiness is available, and I hereby choose it.  That feels like the grateful, optimistic and holy choice I can make that will honor the God of the universe.

THAT SAID:  If you have a kid in the class of 2020 moving into Buenger Hall on the campus of Xavier University this August 18, I recommend you carry chocolate with you.  My research tells me that 20 out of 20 people like chocolate and I am definitely one of them.  Just hand over the chocolate calmly and no one will get hurt.

St. Francis Xavier…..pray for us!

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