Monday, May 12, 2014

Post-Mom's Day Hangover

No, I was not drunk on Mother's Day.  (jeesh... I'm not that bad). 

But Lord, am I hangin.... The quiet, yet oh-so-heavy push and pull of motherhood leaves me completely worn.

It was a perfect Mother's Day morning.  The children woke me with all kinds of preciousness.  Lovely homemade cards and notes.  My 7-year old son painted a wooden square so beautifully, my eyes welled with tears.  5-year old baby girl personalized a flower pot for me to keep "forever and all the days." 

Then, it was brunch at my favorite spot.   And reality slapped me in the face.

The only table left was outside.  Girl-child started bawling because it was too cold to sit outside (*think wails and alligator tears*).  Boy child put his arms inside the sleeves of his t-shirt and fake-shivers throughout the first half of our meal. 

Then there was the incident on the restaurant's outdoor gate upon which they were hanging... 


No rest for a weary mom.  Discipline-central while the entire mom-brunch-crowd watched. 

Once home, petty property disputes ensued, with baby girl ultimately getting whacked in the lip with a Frisbee and bleeding. 

Oh, the joy!

Let me say this:  my children are not bad kids.  They are well-behaved, polite, thoughtful and wonderful children.  But they are just that:  children.  Kids with minds of their own.  Not to be controlled, but directed and disciplined with love.

And it never, ever stops.  Not even on Mother's Day.  ESPECIALLY not on Mother's Day!

I had a thought the other day that there was no way I was going to be able to do this until they are age eighteen.  Then I realized, it's not going to stop when they're eighteen.  It's never going to stop as long as I'm alive! 

And I'm glad.  And I'm grateful.  It's what brings me the most joy.  What makes me feel alive and spirited, with a purpose greater than what I can understand. 

But man, it's hard, isn't it?  I will confess that it's easier for me to be on-air than it is to be a really good mother sometimes. 

During my morning mediation on Mother's Day, I took a moment for all the women who've never been able to have children, all the moms who've lost children, and all those mothers who struggle day-in and day-out like I do with the mundane toy-fights, hair-pulling, and tantrum-throwing, whether our kids are age two or twenty two.  I closed my eyes and realized I am part of a giant circle of women sharing the highs and lows of this selfless journey called motherhood.  We are never alone.  And that is an exquisite gift.

All of us are sharing these days of meltdowns, tough lessons, cranky moods.  Shaping the behavior of little beings who will hopefully grow up to one day be happy, healthy adults.  Delightful days which also contain laughter and so much love it almost hurts. 

And despite this day-after-mother's day hangin', despite being completely exhausted, there's truly nothing better.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


It's been a week since I first covered the aftermath left in the wake of an EF4 tornado, and my mind won't stop re-playing the images and the stories.

We arrived in the middle of the night.  It was chaos.  The storm hit at dusk, and by sun-up, it was evident that I was standing dead-center in the middle of a disaster zone.  Where we had set up, where our TV trucks and crews would eventually create our 48-hour makeshift base... was in the heart of devastation.  The place where the majority of people died, where the tornado was at it's most powerful when it was on the ground.

I was shaken when I first went on-air at 4:30 a.m. I knew it was horrific, and I knew I wouldn't be off-air for quite awhile, but that's not what I want to write about.  

I want to write about the people.  Our precious neighbors in western Pulaski county, Mayflower, Saltillo, Vilonia, El Paso, Center Hill - whose lives were ripped to shreds.

Colten was the first I met.  Don't even remember what I asked during my interview with him.  But he told me he lost everything and fought back tears when he said that a woman died on his land.  She had been in a truck that was blown off the Vilonia Bypass.  

Colten's friend Gray was an angel.  He lost everything in the 2011 tornado, so he never once left Colten's side.  Offered Colten and his family a place to stay, and when Colten was afraid looters may come, Gray stayed with Colten in a truck on property that night.

Then there was a pastor named Wade, who came to clean up and figure out how and where to rebuild the day after he lost it all.  He lost everything in 2011 and thought surely it wouldn't hit him again.  But it did.  He still shared that he was grateful to be alive, and grateful that he and his family were okay.

Then there were the dozens of volunteers who showed up to help.  Just because as they told me "they can."  Generous hearts and helping hands.  

There were dead animals.  Hundreds of people physically hurt.  Medical care given by anyone who could help.  There were toys and teddy bears strewn about.  Toiletries and personal items and photographs found miles away.  There was a rescued dog that had been blown into a tree. 

These are images I won't soon forget.   

It'll also be tough to forget hearing the Faulkner county sheriff break down when he told me that children were among the 16 dead.  Tough to forget seeing a mother fall to the ground mourning the deaths of those children.  Tough reading the words of a blogger who wrote about the tragedy.  

But what I don't ever want to forget is this:  the spirit of the people affected by this tragedy.  A spirit, which,  in the face of death, out of the rubble and with devastation all around is still shining brightly, with indelible grace and humility.  A people, accepting what has happened with enduring faith and hope.  These people are among the most loyal, solid, salt-of-the-earth human beings I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. 

I returned home after two days of television coverage to my own children.  I drove up to my modest home, staring at the white petals from my dogwood tree that had fallen and lined a path up to my front door.  It felt like heaven. And then I felt so guilty. That I had a home to go to, children to hug.  A feeling of sadness came and really hasn't disappeared just yet.  Why those 16 people?  Why the thousands who took a hit and not us?  My life suddenly seemed so ordered and idyllic, with drawers and bins for all our stuff.  Others' things had just been blown to bits.

It doesn't make any sense.   But it doesn't have to make sense.  I only know this after covering devastation of such magnitude.  The resilience of the human spirit is alive and well in my home state.