Happy Birthday Jeff!
Apple cheeks, laughing, a bit of mischief around the corners of his mouth.Always wanting to dress up in costumes.
Ripping around the neighborhood on his trike.
Today is his birthday and although I know he has fully embraced manhood by accepting adult responsibilities by buying a car, marrying an amazing wife, and totally owning his education…I still see my little boy every time I look at him.
We celebrated birthdays, enjoyed church, hikes, a Rockies baseball game, museums, picnics, had some good chats about politics/religion and talked about our favorite books. I was so pleased to hear about the fun they had in a local used book store. When Jeff told me the titles of the books he and Alison purchased, I was thrilled to see the path they have chosen to be on with literacy and good books as a hallmark of their life together.
One of the main reasons I homeschooled my kiddos when they were little is because I wanted them to experience reading for the sheer joy of it instead of being assigned books to read by the teacher and curriculum designers.
One day he was telling me about how he wanted to grow up and marry a girl. I asked him what kind of a girl he wanted to marry. He shyly looked down and then pointed at me as he looked up and said, “Someone like you Mom”.
My heart melted.
I feel like he has married a woman so amazing and loving that I cannot believe she is a part of our eternal family. And I say this in all honesty, I pray that she is nothing like me.
My whole adult life I have been completely distracted while battling my demons.
Motherhood was almost a secondary goal to figuring out a few things. And in my distraction from being completely present for my children, I hope and pray that my daughters and daughters in law will be able to focus on their babes without feeling like they have to save the world.
It is no way to live.
I have rarely helped my children with their homework, did not care if they turned in assignments on time, were tardy, or if they even attended school. If they stayed home for any reason, we always made it a fun day and went out to lunch and sometimes to the movies.
I wanted my kiddos to know that their was more to life than a pizza party with the principal.
Homeschool was pretty much an hour of PE, math, a little music, coloring, and then quiet reading time in their beds from one to three pm.
We spent most of our time doing whatever we wanted. Playing, watching movies, chess, board games, and cleaning up the house a little if we knew company was coming over.
Whenever people told me my kids were good workers, (and Jeff was the one who received the most praise from his bosses and people in our life for this prized trait), I would just chuckle. I think those kind souls all believed that I was at home, totally organized, and cracking my whip to get them to work harder, do more, scrub, clean, dust, and mop, cause that’s how you get kids to work, right?
I was actually the anti slave driving mom. We did enough chores to keep food on table, the dishes mostly washed and clean underwear almost always available, but the rest of the house was simply a cluttered mass of human experimentation and projects.
I believe we went through five monopoly sets. The kids would pull out the little pieces and use them to play; car, iron, dog, ship, house, hotel, fake money. A million different games could be played with the monopoly stuff.
Inevitably the pieces and money would get lost and we would buy another set.
I worked as the Boulder County Food Storage Specialist during the late 90’s and taught a class in my home for a couple years.
Every Saturday strangers would show up and I would show them how to make muffins from whole wheat and talk to them about 72 hour kits and short and long term food storage.
Once a group of older ladies came to class and like usual I had completely scrubbed the living room, organized everything for my class, and sent Paul and the kids to Ihop for breakfast while I taught. A few of these women came by later in the week to pick up a few flyers I had run out of.
I was not sure when they would be coming so they “caught us” in full family mode. Boys ripping up and down the stairs, tv blaring some wildly inappropriate show for children, me in the kitchen covered with flour, clutter all over the place, backpacks, shoes, socks (what is the deal with kids and leaving their socks all over the place?) etc etc…
One of the ladies laughed and said, “Ah Ha! This is the REAL Hatch family”.
It was true, she caught us looking our worst, completely unprepared for company, and in the thick of life with four young children.
As I have thought of her words these past twenty years, something that has rang true now more than ever is that when people see us at our best and our worst, it is ALL TRUE.
It was a fact that I was able to pull things together enough to clean my house once a week and teach a free class to total strangers out of the sheer love of the topic. And this presentation seemed to be quite impressive to those who attended. The irony of Paul taking our children out to Ihop for white flour glue pancakes (which they loved) instead of me cooking whole wheat pancakes for them was lost on most.
And it is true that those ladies “caught” us in the act of living our regular day to day life. And they were very relieved to see that we were a normal family.
But I can happily claim that we were, and are, both a normal family, (an inglorious mess) and a group of people who are striving.
We love to relax and just live in our home. And that means that things get messy. We also have the ability and the capacity to clean and present a certain polished look when company comes calling.
In thinking about the life I would like my adult children to live with their own babes, I pray that they can find the balance between clean and clutter, fun and work, school and learning, relaxation and good healthy habits.
It is not easy to figure out how our lives should go and what sort of results we can expect.
I just know that many times as I mothered my little ones with dedicated child led attachment parenting and loose family rules that I was never consistent enough to enforce anyway, a few friends and family members expressed horror to me that my hippy ways were going to ruin my childrens future.
I don’t believe I have that much power.
People are sucessful in life because they choose to be.
My adult kids happened to make good choices even though my consistent message to them was that I loved them no matter what, even if they wanted to spend their whole 7th grade year rocking in the fetal position and sucking their thumbs.
I know their friends have had a huge impact on them, for good and for ill. As cautionary tales when poor choices led to various outcomes and as good choices led to amazing opportunities.
I know they have had a huge impact on each other. And if we get to the end of this mortal experience and they all have stayed faithful mormon and kept their testimonies in tact, I give Heavenly Father all of the glory for that. I also know the many teachers, scout leaders, Bishops, Apostles, and extended family have influenced for good.
The daily family scripture reading that Paul is so faithful about leading also has contributed to their literacy and testimonies of Jesus Christ.
I do not want my kids to be like me.
I want them to be like themselves and raise their kids however they want.
Happy Birthday Jeff!
It is going to be joyful to see your and Alison’s faces etched in the babes you choose to parent.
And I honestly do not give a rip if you choose to go more mainstream and actually discipline your kids and keep your house spotlessly clean all the time and send your children to school when they are toddlers. We all have to make the choices we feel are best for our families.
I love you and I love Alison and I love what you are creating together.