"The eyes of the world are upon you."

Several years ago, I woke up in a haze just as Sam closed the garage door and headed to work. I confess it was earlier in the day than I preferred to wake up, especially in the summertime with nowhere to be. It wasn't the sound of him leaving that roused me, however. It was the sound of what I thought, in my just-woken stupor, was a lawnmower coming along the side of our yard into the back. My initial thought was, "Oh that is SO nice. One of our neighbors must have gotten sick of our knee-high backyard weeds and decided to mow for us." Then in just a few seconds the sound got louder. And louder. It was so loud that the house began to shake.  As I was now more lucid, I realized it was obviously not the early morning neighborly gesture of a backyard lawn-mowing.  I jumped out of bed, looked out my bedroom window and saw a helicopter hovering above the trees behind our playground.  Not only was a helicopter preparing to touch down, but half a dozen policemen with guns drawn were sprinting across the yard, trying to get into my shed, trying to open our back gate, looking under the kids back porch "fort" made out of a sheet thrown over a card table.  As someone unaccustomed to this kind of excitement, I panicked (code word for "started to cry").  I made sure all of the doors were locked, that the alarm system was armed, checked on each of my sleeping babies, and I called Sam (no answer).

Then I did what every self-respecting woman would do in that situation.  I called my dad - you know, the one who probably wasn't awake yet and lives 800 miles away.  I'm not exactly sure what I thought he could do, but I thought he might be able to talk me down from crisis mode.  Or, at least, be on the phone with me when the serial killer I presumed to be hiding in my house popped out from my kitchen pantry and murdered me.

Thankfully that didn't happen.  And my dad is a very calm soul who successfully navigated a 6:30am phone call with a crying crazy person.  He stayed on the phone until the helicopter was gone, the policemen had dispersed, and Sam returned my call.  It turns out, some men who robbed a nearby convenience store had fled on foot through our neighborhood.  They were apprehended a few doors down the street hiding by our drainage pond.

Local law enforcement doesn't play.  (Thanks, Men in Blue.)

I think about this day a lot.

I think about how fortunate I am to live under a blanket of safety every minute of every day.  I think about the fact that I really don't know what it is to fear.  I take for granted the protections of our local police, the state police, and on a much larger scale, our United States armed forces.  I think about what it must be like to live in war-torn nations today.  And to not know whether you will make it home alive from something as innocent as going to the market.  I think of what it must be like to know that a foreign power has invaded your homeland, and to not know the fate of your future.

And today, I think about the brave young men who landed on a beach in France 72 years ago, as part of a collective effort to preserve freedom. 

On June 6, 1944, across an ocean while most Americans were sleeping, 156,000 Allied troops resolved to fight evil and take back Normandy.  Ultimately, because of this invasion, the liberty of an entire continent and possibly, the entire world, was preserved.

We have no idea what that was like for them - the horrors of what they did, saw, lived through, and died from.  As time marches on, all we have is the memory of a generation of men and women who banded together as a country in big ways and small ways to ensure that the war was never fought on our turf, so that our safety on American soil was never threatened.

As we study history, I am regularly moved to tears by the convictions of those who came before us - how brave and resolute and brilliant they were.  I love this country.  And I'm so thankful to be a citizen of it.  I will never be able to thank enough, the men and women who sacrificed to give it to us.  May we never take our freedom for granted.
“Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.”  – John Adams, in a letter to Abigail addressed July 1777
"They fight not for the lust of conquest.  They fight to end conquest.  They fight to liberate." ~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt, radio address June 6, 1944
“History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.”
–Dwight D. Eisenhower, first presidential inaugural address, January 1953

“Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.” ~ Ronald Reagan, from his first inaugural speech as governor of California, January 5, 1967
The Greatest Generation is quickly dwindling.  I just pray we continue to honor their tenacity, valor, and grit long after they're gone.  May we pick up the baton and run like our freedom depends on it.

Mom Things Resurrected

100 (or in actual reality, eight) years ago when I started this humble blog, I used to do a regular post on Wednesdays called "How to Know You're a Mom."  If I had it all to do over again, I'd name it something more clever and less clunky than that, but if that's my biggest regret, I'm doing okay.

I remembered this list as a cute little diary of sorts a few days ago.  It started back in a time when I was working and blogging was something I did on my lunch break.  Now, I'm a stay-at-home mom with few spare moments to sit down a type, despite my endless "How to Know You're a Mom" material happening right before my very eyes every moment of the day.  Interesting how life works out sometimes.

I sat down to compile a list of these things this week, for old time's sake.  And as I did, it became abundantly clear that something has changed in those eight years.  Whether it's me or society, that's up for debate.  I've written about my insecurities of which I have plenty.  Add that to a culture that stands like a runner at the starting block ready to pounce on someone, anyone for the slightest perceived wrongdoing.  Yeah, that's right.  Perceived.  Some of these things we get up in arms about are simply preferences.  Some of these preferences are based on internet memes that haven't been researched in the slightest.  I know better than to blindly trust a self-declared expert on the internet.  And yet, they get in my head and plant seeds of doubt.  Of course, some of these things are legitimate things to be concerned about, but I'm evidently unable to separate the meaningful from the meaningless.  So that's my mental condition.  Apparently it's not getting any better.

It's prompted this list.  Whether it's once or the resurgence of an old habit, here are this week's Mom Things: 2016 Edition - on Friday (because really, I'm always late these days).

1.  You take an adorable picture of your child climbing on the dishwasher just like her brothers and sisters before her and you want to share it with the world - BUT (!!!), then "the world" (aka the people on your Friends List on Facebook) will know you use plastic plates and cups and, worse, put them in the dishwasher.  You post it anyway and brace yourself for inevitable secret judgments and possibly public chastisement because while most of those plastics are BPA-free, not all of them are.

2.  The Walk of Shame has taken on new meaning as what you do when you parade your kids down the church hallways to their Sunday School classes with pink noses and shoulders from too much fun in the sun on Saturday.  (Or wait, is that better than toxic sunscreen?)

3.  You live in fear of Protective Services coming to your home and taking your children because your five month old's arm got broken completely accidentally during a diaper change by her dear, sweet, and loving six year old sister.

4.  You hesitate to even take your two year old to the doctor for a collarbone fracture two months later, which he earned by trust-falling to no one off a kitchen bar stool in a fit of rage.

5.  Your nine month old cruises around the house in a 90's-era walker like an Olympic track star, but you're scared to document it on Facebook, because, well, you know, the Judgmental Judys.

6.  You pat yourself on the back for remembering to pack a snack for each of your children before their afternoon homeschool co-op.  At the end of the day, your nine year old daughter tells you that a classmate informed her that her Goldfish are going to give her cancer.  You aren't sure if you're angry or scared.  In your house, Goldfish are a food group.  Add that to the list of things you're supposed to consume within the privacy of your own four walls along with hot dogs, Kraft macaroni and cheese, and Lunchables.

7.  You positively refuse to let anyone look in your vehicle and prohibit carseat photographs just in case one of the chest clips has slipped down or someone should happen to notice that your 12 year old is no longer rear-facing.

8.  You went to the drive-thru at McDonalds after an afternoon of exhausting errands with a bunch of sleepy kids.  While they slept you rewarded yourself to a 3-pack of chocolate chip cookies to prolong the nap.  What you didn't bank on was McDonalds having to bake the cookies from scratch while you and your giant, hard-to-miss van parked out front on display for the world to see.  There's no way you weren't spotted at the worst-of-all-bad fast food restaurants.

9.  You don't pay too close attention to the child climbing in and out of your shopping cart with the agility of an ape, because she's been literally scaling walls since she was 15 months old, until a well-meaning observer comments that she really ought to be careful.  You realize this is probably not acceptable behavior and for the benefit of the onlooker, tell her to stop.

10.  You hesitate to mention the times you lost your children at the St. Louis Zoo, Walt Disney World (just as an Electric Light Parade was about to start and you couldn't get down the road to even search), or the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan because that would indicate that you have taken your eyes off of your children for literally 15 seconds (the time it took to get separated in each case).  By the grace of God, they were all safely returned in minutes, and you're thankful no one caught any of those events on a cell phone camera for instantaneous upload on YouTube.

Many of you will probably read this and think "Wow, she needs to get her crap together."  Some of you will think, "Have a little confidence, lady."  Others might feel the same way as me.

All I can say is that I admit my shortcomings as a mother.  I'm not a perfect mom.  But here's a secret, none of us are.  Especially not the ones who think so.  Maybe some day I'll be more heavily convicted about food, carseats, plastics, whatever the issue du jour might be, but for now, I'm just doing the best I can.  I don't think there's any more our children can ask of us.

Let's remember that.

(If I do another one, I promise to be a little less cynical.  Maybe.)

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