number 5

My youngest, Mikelle is upstairs sleeping on the couch. It’s still early, a little past six a.m. She’s got the country music station on the TV and it’s playing quiet cowboy songs, dripping with regrets and lost love. She must have come in well-past midnight after spending the evening at her brother, Stephen’s. Then she was off to find her friends, Mary, Jordan and Hope, who all came home from college just to spend some time together.

Good friends.

[I told her not to sleep on the couch. Why can’t my kids just listen to me? Don’t they know that’s the last couch I will ever have and it is getting all slouchy and droopy from their constant sleeping on it? We even had to turn the cushions around, for Pete’s sake! –with the zippers in the front– to try and get them back to their original shape.]

[We have a perfectly good bed in the back bedroom with Mother’s mattress and a brand new memory foam from Sam’s. And a cute bedspread and pillows!]

[But my kids come here and sleep on my new couch.]

[No matter how I nag.]

Mikelle. With her cute little bump showing. Mikelle with her white teeth and beauty-school hair. Hair of many colors. With her long strong nails from all her pre-natal vitamins. Mikelle all grown up with a husband, her own friends, a red car that is spotless to match her spotless apartment. [She actually said to me this morning, “Mom, I really think if you would just dust and vacuum every single day, you’d be so much happier!] Mikelle, with her checking account she keeps balanced to the penny every single day. Take-charge, Mikelle, who is self-assured and competent and confident.

Where the heck did all that come from?

This life has been too much for me, sometimes. And it’s been not enough.

How did she ever survive growing up with all my criticism?

Each time I pass through the living room I think I’ll ask if she would rather go into the bedroom, but she turns over and drapes her arm across her smudged mascara and I see, again, she’s all grown up. She makes her own choices. She’s cleared her own path and miraculously found her way to a place remarkably close to what I have prayed for her entire life. What I would have chosen for her if I had had even a smidgen of influence on her.

Thank you God. Thank you again.

She’s smarter than me in relationships. She’s more mature. She’s sure. She won’t spend thirty or forty years without meaningful conversation. She knows what she wants. She’s responsible and a good steward. She won’t care more about the couch than other things that are more important.

But yesterday she said, “It scares me, Mom, some of the things that come out of my mouth. Like Logan was in front of the microwave and I yelled at him — ‘What are you doing? Don’t you know microwaves cause cancer and you absolutely must push the off button and not just pull the door open. You have to count three seconds and then open it!’ ”

“And when Logan was putting the vacuum away I yelled, ‘What are you doing? Don’t you know you’ll pull the cord off the vacuum if you do that? You have to be more careful!’ ”

She said, “Oh my gosh! I’ve turned in to my mother!”

“And I’m always correcting his pronunciation and grammar and spelling and speech.”


I really wish I would have spent more time nurturing and loving and teaching and hugging. I wish I would have been less critical and less criticizing. Things have a way of being crystal clear later, when it’s too late. But if regrets count at all, I regret all the yelling and correcting and pushing and nagging and prompting.

Lesson learned. The timing’s off, but the lesson’s learned.

[But I still don’t want anyone sleeping on my couch.]