30 October 2013

when words come back

As a parent, I sure have said some things I regret.  Most every day, I think. 

I've also said things that I desperately hope the boys hear and hold on to, although its hard to know at the time if they do. 

This week I carved two fake pumpkins.  It was super hard.  I knew it would be, which is why I didn't do it last year.  Wilson and Walker have fake pumpkins with their names carved in them and I adore them.  My Aunt Lori +and Uncle Joe made them and sent them to us our first year in Oklahoma.  They make me smile whenever I see them.  When I pulled them out this year, I decided we should make them for Lincoln and Franklin.

Early in the season I saw the fake pumpkins at Hobby Lobby but stepped away quickly when I saw their price tag $24.99.  Yikes.  When I found them for 70% off at JoAnn's last week, I sent Brad a text to see if I should go ahead and get them.  I was half-hoping he'd say no because I just knew it was going to be a hard task.  He said yes.  I chose larger ones because Lincoln and Franklin have longer names, so I wanted a bigger work area.  I didn't realize just how much bigger they were until I brought them home.  Oops. 

I kept putting off the task.  I had even hoped to con my mom into helping while she was here last weekend.  Those two giant, fake pumpkins sat by my sewing table mocking me with their facelessness.

Monday, I printed a template from word with each of their names.  I attempted the make-your-own-copy-paper by scribbling a pencil all over the back.  It didn't transfer like I hoped.  So I tried scoring the pumpkin with an exacto blade.  It broke off somewhere along the third letter of Lincoln's name.  I then realized that if I pressed hard with a pen it would indent the pumpkin.  I ended up using a regular-pumpkin-carving knife (the kind from Pampered Chef).  Lincoln's turned out decently.  I was hopeful for Franklin's - which I saved for last because that dude has a long name.  Why didn't we pick something like Jim? or Tim?  or Al?  

I started with the last letter and began working my way backwards.   When I got to carving the K the top piece fell inside the pumpkin.  I tried not to get too frustrated and thought I could glue that piece back.  Then the bottom fell in.  I carved the next N fine and remained hopeful.  Of course, when I got to the A, it fell in.  I skipped the R because it seemed fragile in that area, the F was cooperative for a time.  Then three pieces fell in.  I had no happy thoughts.

Although these were 70% off, they were not cheap enough for me to feel OK with throwing them away.  Besides, Lincoln's was fine but I was sure I wouldn't be able to find another one at JoAnn's to replace this one.  Did I mention all of this carving was happening outside while the boys played?  They heard my frustrated sighs and groans getting louder.  Stupid, stupid pumpkins.

Wilson came over to check on my progress.  I showed him the missing pieces and halfheartedly told him I hoped I could figure out a fix.  I complained (whined?) about how horribly I was doing.  He then says to me, "Well, its like you said with football.  You can't do something one time and expect to be perfect. You have to work at it."

Wait, what?  I totally thought he blew me off when I said that to him at the beginning of the season.  I certainly didn't think he saw any value in the statement.  And here he stands next to me with my mangled pumpkin, using my words to encourage me.  

Doing something terribly the first time you do it, does not mean you will always be terrible at it. A lot of things we attempt take practice, and result in failure a few times.  I desperately want my boys to know that.  I had never guessed God would use a jacked-up jack-o-lantern to let me know the message is sinking in.  He brought my words back to me.

I suddenly felt relief about how insignificant this pumpkin really was. I salvaged all of the fallen pieces for Franklin's name and put it aside until after dinner, baths, and bedtime.  I decided I could turn it around and carve "Frank" into the opposite side if I couldn't fix the mess I had made. 

While the youngest three were in bed, I pulled out the e6000 glue and started putting pieces together.  Wilson reminded me that this wasn't actually the first time I had glued a mess together.  {I broke a vase and glued it back together at the suggestion of this book,.  Wilson watched a lot of that process.} At first, pieces just fell off.  Wilson had to go to bed, and I kept working along slowly.  Eventually I figured out a way to hold them in place as they dried.  To my surprise all the pieces were still hanging together the next morning.

I carved noses + eyes today and the jack-o-lanterns look just fine (although way bigger then their bigger brothers').  Most people won't even notice the lines where pieces were glued back together on Franklin's pumpkin.  They'll just be reminders to me of this slow work of motherhood, and the surprising ways that God encourages me in the process.

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