Tag Archives: letters to Gideon

Gideon goes to school

Gideon James,

You are 45 pounds and 4 years of awesome. Independent, loud, cuddly, freakishly coordinated awesome.

For weeks, you asked daily… multiple times daily… when we were going to Colorado. Colla-Waddo. If it wasn’t Codda-Wado, it was camping. When we were camping or in Codda-Wado, you wanted to know what we were doing next. Last night, with a mouth full of toothpaste, you told me again you wanted to go home.

You ARE home, Love.

Oh. I mean Texy. I want to go to Texy and DRIVE. MINES. TRACTOR.


You have always wanted to be where you are not. On to the next thing. Over the next hill. Fast as you can. Nothing to ninety in less than a minute.

And now it is time for school.

Just a little bit of school.


Three times a week for a couple hours each day you will jump into science and painting and Bible stories and new books and field trips and fire alarms. You are going to love school, Gideon James. They have endless art paper and a jungle gym and A BUS! They have kids your age and PLANNED ACTIVITES, son. They are ready and waiting for you.

You told everyone you know, and a few bank tellers and nurses you didn’t, that you would be riding a bus to Rylie’s school this year. All true. You have a backpack and new superhero shirts. You will only wear baseball (read: slippery) shorts, but we’ll deal with winter later. When asked what you were most looking forward to, you answered, “Snack time. AND the water fountain.”

You ask the absolute best questions. I am so excited for you to begin learning things that haven’t even occurred to you yet.

What am I hoping you’ll learn at school? 

vocal restraint at appropriate times 

bathroom etiquette 

to wait for others  

home is safe 

your parents do not know everything

it’s ok to grow big

non-moshing dance moves

actions have consequences

mom will always be waiting for you 


I will never, ever forget seeing you walk in a line returning from recess yesterday. All the parents were milling around the classroom door, waiting anxiously for their Littles to come back from their first day.

You didn’t see me sitting there on the floor with Abby. You were so calm… serious, even?… and CUTE there towards the back. I couldn’t help but whisper-yell, “Gid! Hey, Bud!” And you heard me and you spun around and you found me and you ran and tackled me without a word. Then, as quick as you came, you ran back to your place in line, entered your classroom, and wrapped up your day.

That 30 seconds kind of made my life. 

I got to see you before you saw me…

and you were just fine.

You would have been just fine had you not seen me until the official dismissal. But, you were fine AND you were thrilled to see me. I could not ask for anything more.

I’m your biggest fan, Gus Man.

Your absolute, biggest fan.




Gideon is 4.

It’s always so hard for me to start again, to find my rhythm. When I do not know why to say or how to feel, I write a letter. The music always finds me there. 


Did you think I had forgotten you in all the quiet of Lent? It is impossible to go a second without searching for you… in mind or on foot. Your name is usually said and spelled in ALL CAPS, either out of excitement or exasperation. Lawd, Child… if you aren’t the most full of life heartbreaker I’ve ever met. You must wear socks to bed and “baseball forts” (which, for the record, as actually basketball shorts) under all your pants just in case the weather blows fair. Most folks have never seen you without a baseball cap. You sleep in one most every night and sometimes forget to take it off in the shower.


You grasped the concept of a wish list early and were prompting us for your 4th birthday well before March 11. A trumpet. A kite. A motorcycle. A movie about dragons. A blue helicopter. A soda pop. A fishing pole. A fast bike. A boat. I’m so sorry we weren’t able to come through on some of those… but you have a lot of life left. While I do not know the number of your years, I know the quality of your days. You have logged more smiles and tears in the first four trips around the sun than many do in a lifetime. You do nothing small or quiet or gently. You love big and hit hard, Gus. You will always be my Gus Man.

You wake up slow. You love fruit loops for breakfast. You eat a peanut butter sandwich every day for lunch. You are fascinated by machines and how things work. You struggle with empathy and focus. Abby is screaming in pain because you are sitting on her but wait is that a tractor and where are your fast shoes can you have some candy? You absolutely hate going to bed, and every night since the day you were born has been a battle to that end.


You can drive a tractor by yourself and pull a wagon of passengers behind you. You can ride a 2-wheel bike. You can fly an RC helicopter (sorry it’s red) and make legitimate noise on a trumpet. You know all the names of Thomas and his friends by sight and can jump almost as high as Dad on the trampoline. You are life. Absolute untamed, unfiltered life.

My beautiful beautiful beautiful beautiful boy.

You have thrown me into the high and low drama of being a mother of a son with the potential to change the world. I see Mary in a whole new light after meeting you, living with you, loving you. You can break my heart and save the day in a matter of minutes separated only by tears and laughter. Certainly, you have a mind of capable of comprehension, but should you find yourself lacking you will excel by sheer determination, bruises be damned. You are the middle child with no concept of being lost… only being where you never have been before.


All of these lines across my face tell you the story of who I am: I am your biggest fan, your toughest critic, and your only mother. May you seek God’s face and desperately, gleefully chase after His heart. May I be the kind of parent who you gives you room to roam and as few hints as possible. Be wild at heart and compassionate in victory. I will be the one you see every time you turn around. But look ahead- eyes in front, Son. See all Christ has in store for you, which is immeasurably more than you can imagine, Child. So. Much. More.

You are worth every tear, every bruise, every broken anything.

I absolutely adore you.

Love, Mom

Gideon is born.

Gideon is 1.

Gideon is 2.

Gideon is 3.


because you asked

For every time I’ve said no, there have been 10 tiny yeses. 

because you asked, I will stay just a little longer

because you asked, I will wash your feet in the kitchen sink

because you asked, you are allowed to ride your race car bike, your scooter, your tricycle through the house and around the island around the island around the island this ridiculous winter

because you asked, we will have pancakes for dinner

because you asked, you may say the grace at dinner and thank the Lord for pencils

because you asked, you can wear my heels with your elephant jammies

because you asked, we will find videos on helicopters (again)

because you asked, we will risk emotional armageddon at 4pm on a school day and head to the bookstore to buy your first Bible

because you asked, I will call Dad so you can hear his voice

because you asked, you may have cake for breakfast

because you asked

You will ask for millions of things in your lifetime. I won’t always have this magical power to make your whims and dreams come true… but for now,

ask me another.

Lent, the 40 days of observation and remembrance before Easter, begins on Wednesday. This year I’m going to actively search for meaning and promise instead of waiting for and expecting it to find me.

There will be no regular Monday & Thursday posting here throughout Lent. Instead, I’ll tell my own story of Lent through pictures, following these word-prompts beautifully curated by catholicsistas.com.

Join me?



P.S. #26? Laetare? It means rejoice. REJOICE!

my little man


Mom. Jesus did walk on the water.

Yeah, buddy… he did.

Mom. Jesus did take his friends fishing in the boat.

Yeah, buddy. What else?

Jesus did go fishing and the waves did get big big big. The storm came and the boat did tip tip tip tip tip over. And Jesus did tell the storm to BE QUIET!!! And Jesus did get out of the boat and walk home.



Your friend is here, and he is sad. He will not get off the couch. He will not look at us. He will not talk. You spend fifteen minutes on your knees next to him on the couch, looking up into his face. “You sad? You want mines trucks?” And then you gave him all of them. “You sad? You want a snack?” And then you piled chips, grapes, and a can of tomatoes in front of him. “You sad? You need a hug?” And then you leaned in and patted his back. When nothing seemed to work, you turned to the coffee table covered in train tracks and matchbox cars. “You watch.” You said. “I stay here until you feel better. You feel better, you come play wif me.”

And here I thought I’d need to teach you how to be a good friend.

Turns out, I have a few things to learn from you.


You are exhausted and you will not nap. It is quiet in the house and I get you to lie down with me on the bed while I read and Abby naps downstairs. You talk to yourself for a bit and then I feel you put your hand on my shoulder, as if you need to tell me something but don’t want to interrupt me. I look up from my book and you… you are asleep, your hand a tether to me.

And we do not move for two hours.



Mom, Jesus did go away?

He did, bud.

Where Jesus lives?

RIght now he lives in heaven with God.

Him coming back?

Yep. He is coming back.

Him need to get his boat back from his friends?

Yes. Yes, exactly.


Dear Gideon,

You are my favorite boy.

I love being your mom.

Love, Me



Please, to remember.

gus man

You shuffled up to me with your head hanging down.

It was only yesterday, but I will remember it forever. You don’t shuffle. Usually, you fly. Or bounce. Or slide or crawl or leap. This time, you shuffled up to me… almost quietly. I was sitting on the floor, reading. Abby was napping and you were playing cars. I only wish I could spell this conversation out phonetically so others could “hear” you. Your language and voice have a raspy magic that transform ordinary moments into memories.

Mom, you said with a bit of sad in your voice, Me growing down.

You’re growing DOWN, Bud? Whaddya mean?

Me growing down.

[I set my book down.]

Say it again, Bud. I don’t understand.


Oh, but you are, Gus Man! You ARE getting big! I can tell by your shoes and your chair at the table and your seat in the car. You ARE getting big! It’s slow, but you’re changing… you’re growing UP every day.

[You panicked.]

ME NOT WANT GET BIG! Me want to grow down!

[And you leaned into me, wrapped your arms around my neck, and buried your head in my shoulder.]

Oooooh. I see. I see. You know, growing UP is not really something we can change OR stop. Mom’s still growing up, too. It’s just how God made us. We grow up not down. We get bigger, stronger, taller. We learn more and play more and visit fun places. Do you like being little? Don’tcha WANNA get big?


Why, Bud?

Me want to stay here with mom. Me growing down.

[Here is where my heart nearly broke in half… honey, you were so serious.]

Oh, Buddy. You will always be my best guy. Even if you grow up, even if you go to school, even if you get in trouble, even if you get mad at me, even if you move away… you will always be my best guy. So don’t be afraid to grow up. Think of all the things you’ll be able to do when you get BIG! What do you want to do when you get BIG?

[And you waited. You were not completely sold. But you were thinking.]

[And you leaned back without letting go and looked me in the eyes. Slowly, a grin spread across your face.]

Me get big, ME DRIVE!

[Heaven help us all.]



My children do not listen.

Put your seatbelt on, grab your shoes, you’ll lose that trinket if you yell out again. Brush your teeth, stop itching, you cannot draw on the furniture- again.

My children do not listen.

It is warm out side, wear shorts. It is cold outside, grab  your coat. You are going too fast, you are going to slow, you’re going to get hurt. Where is your helmet?

My children do not listen.

Dinner is in an hour, your dad is at work, your cousins are camping. We’ve gone over this a thousand times- today.

My children do not listen.

It has become my silent mantra: my children do not listen. When I’m making dinner, when I’m re-finding shoes, when I’m driving and solving the world’s problems: MY CHILDREN DO NOT LISTEN. A marching beat. A rhythm. An excuse and explanation.

I’m not saying it’s beautiful. I’m just… saying.

They could not hear me saying it, but no doubt they could feel it. Kids feel exasperation. It is perhaps the emotion they are most in-tune with, amen? Somewhere deep inside I thought, “I am bigger than this. I can change this.” My thoughts and self-talk and episodes have always run on their own power… but what if, for once, I could turn it around? What if I could actually change my mind? And so the next time those words ran across my inner screen, I molded them into a different story.

My children, do not listen. 

Do not listen to those who will tell you’re too little, too small, too young. You are exactly the right size, age, and character to do AMAZING THINGS.

My children, do not listen.

Do not listen to the silence of fear begging you to stay behind. Seek out the lonely, wear the striped stockings, hug your family. Grow. Laugh loudly. Cry earnestly. Love fiercely. It is not safe, but that is not reason to stand still. Wear a helmet.

My children, do not listen.

Ignore the hesitation that comes with change. Push onward, push out. The view up ahead is fantastic, and it will not come to you. You have to run, skip, and jump to it!

My children, do not listen.

Sticks and stones may break your bones but words can never hurt you? That is a lie. Bones heal. Words seep into the cracks and grow into insecurity, chronic bruises. Words stick. So, you choose your words carefully. You make them beautiful and big and heart-felt. Strong and true and soft. You will never regret being kind, and you will never hurt irreparably by speaking love.

My children, do not listen.

The world will shower you with comparison and doubt. But you ARE enough. You are exactly enough.

I can do this.

I can change the words.

since you’ve been gone

My dearest, oldest children who are living it up in Pennsylvania and Ohio my parents,

Since you’ve been gone,

I can breathe for the first time. [source]

I have gone to the bathroom approximately 42 times without interruption, assistance, or crying. Sometimes, I go in there alone just because I can. I don’t even HAVE to go potty.

Abby is a full-on walker now. This is going to ROCK. YOUR. WORLD.

Abby CANNOT walk down steps yet. I repeat: ABBY CANNOT WALK DOWN STEPS YET.

I lost my camera somewhere in Sleeping Bear Dunes. You’re welcome.

We still have 6 baby cows. Two more are on their way… like, within hours… but they are waiting for you to get home.

My fingernail is black and bruised due to a stroller-folding incident whilst camping which we shall discuss no further lest I puke at the memory. Don’t bring it up.

Since you left, I have eaten my own meals, made it to doctor appointments on time, gone to the beach and to camp and out to dinner… no tears, no drama, no exhaustion.

It has been a whole different life.

Let me unpack that a little.

I have missed you. You make my life… our life… so much more complicated than I ever could have imagined. But, also, so much more worth it. You give us purpose. You force us to think beyond ourselves- which, actually, is really, really hard.

I needed this break. I needed you to be with family who loves you and spoils you and is not tired and is thinking only of making memories.

It may come as a surprise to you reading this so many years later, but the past couple years have taken me to edges I didn’t know existed. In my marriage. In my internal church. In my parenting. It has not been pretty.

I stopped thinking about making memories long ago. I wanted only to make dinner and go to bed. I wanted there to be no tears- mine, yours, anyone’s tears. I wanted it to be simpler and easier and more fun. I wanted the good to outweigh the difficult. I wanted something… anything… to change.

PapPap and Nunnie wanted to take you on a short vacation- right in the middle of our family vacation. I fought it at first, not wanting to say out loud that I desperately needed it. But this break has given me the physical space to seek out guidance from friends and experts, both medical and Divine, and make sure I am in the right place, on the right team, or at least facing the right direction. I should be a pitcher or catcher, really. Somewhere in the past few years I found myself in about 8 other positions, some that didn’t even exist and certainly didn’t contribute well.

A mom needs to contribute well.

And, she needs a chance to look at that, quietly, every now and again to get back on track. Clean out dresser drawers. Go to the bathroom alone. Breathe. This, I have done. 

She needs to account for mistakes, take good notes, and move on. This, I am working on. 

She needs to miss you, to crave the chaos that makes the sweeter moments… sweet. This, I do. I miss you. I miss your happy faces and your sad faces. I know I will see much of both in the coming weeks as we put out regular lives back together again as a family of 5…

but trust me when I say that I am in this for the Good and for the Grace. I am not, nor will I ever, give up or give out. I am in process. Both of your parents are always searching, always praying, always trying to be… to be better.

You make us want to be better.

It’s what kids are for.

Love you.

See you tomorrow.


to you

Gideon age 3

I counted yesterday. I think there have been 9 months of your life when you have NOT worn a baseball cap. You wear it when you sleep, Son. When I see you in my head (and in my heart), your face is shaded by a brim and your too-long hair is sticking out the back. And you’re throwing something.

Lately, I find myself split right down the middle with you. Half of me begs time to speed up. Please, I pray. Please let it be 5 years later. Send this child to school. Save my walls from the screwdrivers, the pens, the sticks, the flying Playmobil helicopters. Give him other friends to play with who will hit him back and chase him down and tie him up. I cannot see over the weeds and I am afraid I will be lost forever in here. Send help now.

The other half of me begs time to stand still. Please, I pray. Please let me sit here a little longer with my boy, who silently snuggles up closer on the couch and interlaces his chubby fingers with mine. Please let me hear, “Me wuf Mom” and be asked to jump on the trampoline forever and ever. Let me always hear this child pray at dinner and breakdance to Mumford and Sons. Let me walk into my bedroom and find you standing at my bed driving your matchbox cars over my pillows and under my covers.

The tension here is harder than I thought. You bring out 2 extremes in me… full-blown rage and absolute, total, smitten-ness.

You drop nails all over the driveway.

You stand on Abby for no good reason at all.

You are violent when you are hungry.

You are the loudest thing I’ve ever encountered.

But you are also the best air-kisser, the best trampoline-er, the best wordsmith in this house. No doubt. Truly, deep-down, a sweetheart with epic potential as a hurdler.You have the greatest giggle when caught or tickled, and you know how to work a power drill.

I just love you, that’s all. You make me crazy, but I love you.

And you’re getting tall.

And I love you.

I wuf you.

Gideon is 3.

Dear Gideon James,

Today, TODAY, you are three.

Free! (to quote you)

Oh, sweet child of mine. You are somethin’ ELSE. Is it possible you’ve made it three times around the sun already? You are strong, you are fast, and you are usually naked.  And really, there’s not much more I can say about you in mixed company.  Amen.

What will you want to know when you are older about Gus Man at Three?  Ry is 6, Abby is 1, and you can tackle both of them to the ground in love and/or fury.  You are just over 40 pounds.  You are 39″ tall, which is 1 inch shorter than Ry was at three and entirely too short to be climbing and jumping the way you do. You are obsessed with trucks and trailers and tractors.  You potty trained yourself about one month ago… and I do mean ‘yourself.’ I get no assist on this one in the books… you were one of those weird kids who just ‘got it’ immediately.  This is why you are my favorite son.

birthday 1

President Obama is on his second term in office, gas is $3.60 per gallon, and we have about 25 head of longhorn cattle. You are impossible to talk to before you’ve eaten breakfast (my genes) and breakfast is usually cereal (your father’s genes). Actually, you’re impossible to talk to when you’re hungry, period. You have two levels of activity: none (when tractors are on tv) and tornado (anytime you are not watching tractors on tv). You have only one volume and that is LOUD.

I take that back. You are not always loud.  Yesterday, Abby was crawling towards you to play and you stooped down to talk to her, cocked your sweet little punkin’ head to the side, and whispered, “Abby pay (play)? Abby pay me?” I started to tear up at the sweetness pouring from your little heart, but then Abby stood up and grabbed one of your trucks and you nearly chocked on exasperation, which brought us back around to,




You have your moments, Child.

You do not take naps anymore… not for the past 3 months or so. (Um, I did cry when that became official.) You are a freakishly good swimmer for a stout wee little lad and have an impressive ability to work a cordless drill.  You are crazy fast on your feet and rarely- RARELY- fall accidentally. I do not understand it, really… but I have trouble standing without falling so these kind of skills are foreign to me.

Your Achilles Heal?  Bedtime.  Bedtimes with you are not so fun, Child. About 6 months ago, you caught on to the fact that the world continues after 8pm, and it has been a screaming, sobbing, kicking battle ever since. For you AND your parents. I’m hoping you grow out of it soon… we’re certainly not going to change our mind, though your perseverance is admirable.

birthday 2

You still wear a blue ball cap daily, you hate wearing a coat, and you do not- under any circumstances- like corn. You eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day for lunch, you play well by yourself, and you have a tendency to sit on your younger sister when you want her to be near you. Again, sweet heart, my child.  We’ll work a bit on your form.

Gus Man, you are so loved. You bring joy to so many people with your grin and your antics and your raspy little voice.  May God continue to grow you into a passionate young man after His own heart… with a love for family, with a mind for solutions, and with hands and feet for service.

You will always be my favorite son.

Please don’t make me hafta visit you in jail.



What is YOUR favorite memory or story of Gus Man? Would you leave it in the comments so we’ll have a record of it later? Please and thank you so very much.

Gideon is born.

Gideon is 1.

Gideon is 2.

safety first

Gideon James, sometimes it makes bedtime a little smoother if I read outside your bedroom in the yellow rocking chair.  I close your door, but you know I’m there and sleep usually comes within minutes.

Last week, sleep was a bit out of reach.  You got up and peeked out your door once, twice, three times to make sure I was there and all was right with the world. After the third time, I rather sternly warned you that another ‘peek’ would result in a spankin.’ You replied with your classic compliant, “Yeah.” and scurried back under the covers.

There was much clatter and bumping and shuffling in that dark room, and I was so sad.  I was so sad, Son, because I knew the consequences were coming.  Personally, I hate consequences.  I hate giving them as much as I hate receiving them. It’s an un-awesome part of parenting.

When your door creaked open, I was waiting for you.  When your raspy little voice called out for me, I answered a bit tensely.  When your superman-pj’ed body swung around the door frame and revealed a super hero wearing your father’s motorcycle helmet…

well, I kind of forgot why I was preparing to consequence and started shaking with silent laughter.

Gus.  Where did you find the helmet?  When did you hide it?  How did you find it and put it on in the dark?  Why at that moment? How did your 32-pound body support the weight of the extra 10 pounds on your head without falling over? Why do these things happen when your dad has a late meeting?

So many questions, Gideon.  So many questions.

I took the helmet off, gave you a kiss, and set the thing next to your bed for you as you happily tucked yourself back in (again) and fell asleep.  The next morning, you came to breakfast carrying the helmet.  I ran your bath and watched as you carefully undressed and then put the helmet on before entering the tub.

I wish every person in the whole wide world could know you.

You’re going to be famous one day, Gus Man.  We’re not sure what for, exactly, but you’re gonna be famous.

I love you.