Yes, this is a Message for My Three Sons on Mother’s Day, it is addressed to my boys, who are no longer boys but grown men. I would love for you to peek over my shoulder…and share your own thoughts and memories!
I have missed a few birthdays down through the years. It seemed every time our church organization’s General Conference would roll around it would land on my middle son’s once-a-year celebration. He wasn’t particularly happy about spending it with a babysitter, or grandparents, but it didn’t seem to leave any lasting scars.
I have been out of the country for my own birthday twice in the last four years. I wasn’t so crazy about that and got a little experience of how he must have felt. He only had his two brothers, I only had The Sweetheart. Family seems to make every holiday just that much better.
This year I am celebrating Mother’s Day, my 34th Mother’s Day, out of the country with none of My Three Sons (or my sweet DIL) around the table.
I am melancholy.
So, since I cannot be with them in person, see their smiles, hear their jokes, and feel their presence, I thought I would write them a note. (Chances are pretty good I will not receive a Mother’s Day card in Malta…not that they aren’t thoughtful, there just wasn’t time.)To my eldest, Kyle Douglas: You were the firstborn. You had to endure my inexperience at being a mother; my youthful approach to life was a plus in many areas and a detriment in others. As far as your parents were concerned, you could do no wrong. Everything you would attempt or achieve was exciting to us as first-time parents and you went at it with reckless abandon.
Your wife-for-life, Rachel, (the little girl I never had), says you must have had the most wonderful childhood of anyone on Planet Earth because you want to relive it all the time. That makes me happy and yet I know it wasn’t perfect because I wasn’t perfect. What I did try to give you was a home that you could bring your friends to and not be embarrassed, a place to be safe and to be yourself, to know someone was rooting for you and that you were loved beyond measure.
We did a lot of cool things together for a couple of young folks. We saw Batman and Robin, a.k.a., Burt Ward and Adam West in person, got the autograph, attended Tom Browning’s perfect game and even met Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott and her dog Schottzie, spending a few minutes in her penthouse with her privately after a game. Hey, we even starred in the movie Hoosiers for crying out loud! (Okay, we didn’t star in it but we were there. Final Scene. Screaming like crazy…like crazy…Hoosiers.)
Who says Mom wasn’t fun??
Many special memories stand out but there isn’t room for them all. One that still makes me smile, and cringe all at the same time, was when you were about 12 and playing basketball in the front driveway with all of your neighborhood friends. I am sure I was in the kitchen making chocolate chip cookies and mixing healthy strawberry powder with water in your favorite Mr. Kool-Aid pitcher when I heard at least seven or eight blood-curdling screams of terror. I ran to the garage door to see who had broken a bone or needed stitches when you met me face to face with eyes as big as dinner plates.
“MOM! There’s a giant snake under the window!”
All the neighborhood boys were gathered around the biggest snake I had ever seen in person, without a cage and not under glass. He was busy though, very busy choking down a humongous frog for his lunch. He could not go anywhere and we were about to catch ourselves a big one.
The boys all wanted to “KILL IT!” themselves so I handed them a garden hoe. They couldn’t get within five feet.
“You do it, Mom. My mom does this all the time, don’t ya Mom?”
Right. All the time. Usually they are four or five inches long not five feet. (I also was a little uneasy that it might be a copperhead. They were popular in that wooded area where we lived. I knew I had to do something, I just wished Dad was home this time to be the hero.)
With the Sandlot gang cheering me on and My Three Sons waiting for me to save the day, I heaved that garden hoe over my head and swung down as hard as I could to chop off the head of that menacing creature. THUMP!
The second try was a little better and, well, I will spare you the gory details. Nevertheless, Mom was a hero. And we all know Kyle loves superheroes.
But snakes aren’t school problems, girlfriends, grades, bullies, student loans, water bills, mortgages and car payments. I couldn’t be there for everything that came along but tried to instill a love for God, His Word, the Church and others in you that would help you survive in an ever-changing world. You have made me proud of the man you are today, sacrificing what some would see as opportunities to instead bless the Kingdom and others. I hope you remember me (when I am old and senile) as that hero with a garden hoe that would do anything to save the day for you.
I have taken in and loved your Rachel as my own, enjoying every minute of having another girl in the house that would side with me and give me another vote in a home laden with testosterone. Thank you, Rachel, for being a friend and a confidante. Thank you for always loving Kyle’s brothers; they were six and twelve when you entered the picture and the three of you have only grown closer through the years. So much so, that they were ready to disown their Big Brother when he moved their best friend and chef back to Tennesee. You always make our family pictures look better!
To my middle son, Kristopher Ryan: Who always thought his name was Kristopher Kristopher Elkins because we couldn’t say his name just once to get his attention. He was elated to learn he had a real middle name!
Ever the impetuous and impulsive child, you have brought even more life into our little family and kept us forever on our toes. I could listen to you talk all day long with your little-bit-of-a-lisp and love for “r’s” with a Boston accent. (I should mention you outgrew that by first grade.) You were all boy and seemed to have to get up every day and remind the world that you had arrived and were here to stay.
Never one to be ignored, I will never forget the time you wanted so badly to talk to our pastor and tugged and tugged on his jacket only to be told to wait by the other adults surrounding him. That wasn’t enough for a four year old so you innocently wound your fist and threw it for all it was worth…unfortunately your aim was perfect and this calm and proper man had to excuse himself to catch his breath and regain his composure.
Everything you did was with gusto.
Climbing on top of refrigerators
Climbing INTO refrigerators and closing the door
Setting things on fire that were not meant to burn
Setting yourself on fire with curling irons and having to explain to the hospital that it was an accident
Yanking your own arm out of socket just by throwing a fit to see Chuck E Cheese
Calling policemen to our house in the middle of the night with just a light switch and a garage door opener
Getting beat up on the last day of school
Using duct tape to stick your baby brother to the wall…two feet off the ground
Breaking your arm while roller-blading through a golf course
Letting your best friend run over your leg with a golf cart so you could spend the summer in a walking boot
Hanging suspended on cliffs in South America
Trespassing, literally, on the famous St. Andrews golf course in Scotland
Singing Chris Tomlin songs in a pub in Ireland
And jumping out of perfectly good airplanes all have brought life and laughter to our family for the last 28 years.
I’ve seen your frustration make you stronger, even when at the moment you wanted to tear the enemy apart with your bare hands. Thankfully, you knew how to pray.
One of my fondest memories of you making a difficult situation more lighthearted was our first summer after we started pastoring our first church. Our new home had a swimming pool and you were in charge of keeping it crystal clean and clear. You learned it quickly until someone at the church suggested you could make your hair more blonde by adding even MORE chemicals, or better yet, just pour it straight on your hair.
Make it blonde that is.
It turned it bright orange. Just in time for your grandfather’s funeral the same week.
I have always had a tendency to stick up for you boys when I probably should have let Dad have his way…so to speak. I couldn’t help it; it was just too funny showing up at the funeral home, and at church, with carrot top hair.
You make every day a little brighter with your phone calls. When Mrs. Perfect comes along someday, I know we will not get as many of those but I will cherish them for now. Your, “What’s up?” is still a highlight of my day.
I know with your nursing degree you will be the one expected to take care of your parents in their old age. I apologize for that in advance but whatever happens to me, even if I am cranky, hateful and cannot control my faculties, I want you to remember one thing:
Remember the Nightingale Pledge you took as an RN…especially this part, “and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug.” I will sleep much better at night.
To the Baby, Korey Ross: I apologize up front for calling you The Baby…again. But to me you will always be the last but not the least. Everyone knows we didn’t plan for a #3 but it sure has been nice to have cute nicknames for the blog! (Whoever heard of My Two Sons??) We would not have been complete as a family without you.
You entered our world quietly and have lived your life that way, unassuming, unpretentious, and never making a scene. As a baby, you were adored even by your brothers. Who knew? Possibly spreading apart your arrivals had something to do with that but you have made such an impression on each of them that even with one, six years your senior and another one eleven, you have managed to be someone they both call not just a brother but a best friend.
You have been through much for your 23 years and have always made us proud of the way you handled adversity and conflict. As a pastor’s son we NEVER worried about you sharing things that were told in confidence, NEVER worried about you eavesdropping or whispering secrets to others. And to your credit, others knew they didn’t have to worry about you breaking that confidence. You have always been trustworthy.
I always appreciated the way you put up with being #3. With the first baby, parents are ever-so-cautious about every little thing. With the second they let up a little on the “He’ll choke on that!!” but seem to lay down more rules and guidelines. By the time #3 comes along…well…we all have seen the T-shirts by now.
#1 made the rules
#2 was the reason we had rules
#3 the rules don’t apply to me
I remember one time when I was cutting your hair, I was clipping along pretty good. I had cut your older brother’s hair through the Doogie Howser era and had given him a trademark with those flying scissors. You, though, had never trusted me with an electric trimmer. I was almost finished, cleaning up the neck area when I saw a place that I had missed just to the left of your ear. Without thinking, (I do that a lot), I just went ahead and cleaned it up. The only problem was that I didn’t change the guard on the trimmer and it was still set short for neck trimming not hair cutting.
I wish we had owned iPhone’s then to have recorded your teenage reaction to an amateur barber’s faux pas. Priceless. (This picture was taken years before, obviously, but still appropriate. Notice your brother trying to get attention as always.)
I didn’t make mistakes too often but when I did…they were noteworthy.
My reminder that “it grows back” was little comfort at that moment.
You are blessed with a talent sent from above when you pick up that guitar; a great musician and worship leader, talented in so many areas and a blessing to any church, I thank God for that every day. I pray you will remember me for my desire to see you used in the Kingdom and introducing you to the literary world: showing you that a nap and a Louis L’Amour book could revive even the worst day. (Throw in a John Wayne movie and chips and salsa and it’s a comeback!)
That you can achieve whatever you set your mind to but should always seek the will of God in all things. I pray you remember that money cannot buy happiness and it is only necessary for the necessities in life. People that can be bought are not worth your money and definitely not your time. And most of all, your job in my golden years will be to sit beside me, whenever possible, and take your turn to read to me. Berenstein Bears will be just fine by then. We have plenty of those.
It’s true. Family is the best and we all feel as if we have the best. I miss my FOUR kids terribly when I am gone for long stretches of time but I also know they are adults and have their own lives to enjoy. I am thankful to be a part of that whenever time and distance allow, you all are the joys of my life.
Thank you for making my Mother’s Day special just by being the great kids you are and loving me whether I am young or old, skinny or fat, a brunette or white-haired senior citizen. If you aren’t kind to Momma? God will get ya for that!
And if you aren’t familiar with the popular 60’s sitcom, My Three Sons, here is a snippet of the theme song!