Stories to Tell

Oh, how I have missed blogging on a regular basis these past few months. My stories are piling up and if I am not careful, they will evaporate. So to that end, here’s to catching up.

Three days ago I had an accident in the Target parking lot. And I’m not talking traffic accident.

Someone in my family, who shall remain anonymous, frequently urinates on herself. As a child this warranted my empathy. As a teenager this provoked my emberrasement. As a young adult this drove me to prayer. “Lord, please, don’t let me grow up to pee on myself.”

I mean, who does that? How does that happen? Do you not know you gotta go? Are there no restrooms? Are you in a forest? A desert? Running a marathon? Are you in a third world country? How does such a thing happen? I mean really woman, there aren’t any warning signs hitting you?

I promised myself I would never, ever allow this to become my fate. Never.

And yet there I am, bending down to pick up Annie in her car seat in the Target parking lot when, I swear, out of no where, I feel a catastrophic, unstoppable urge to urinate. And in that moment I thought, “Oh Lord, this is the beginning of the end. It’s hereditary. I am my mother.”

I cursed my body. “Body you are rude.” It’s rude to decide you are going to give me no warning. You can’t just do that to someone. It’s tacky. Especially since I just spent an entire year desperately trying to pee in a cup every time I went to see the baby doctor. No matter how much water I had, or how snuggly Annie buried herself onto my bladder, Dr. Waldrep would give me the cup and my body would store water like a hibernating bear. Do bears store water? Point being, when I needed it to flow, it did not flow. And when I so desperately wanted it to retreat it stuck it’s tongue out and smirked at me.

There was, of course, nothing I could do. I knew it was a matter of seconds. Nanoseconds. I knew there was no time to get in the building. There was barely time to get Annie into the car. I knew there was no place to hide. Nothing to wipe down with. No alternatives to the humiliating event that was about to occur. It was as if my bladder became possessed and all the kegal excercises in the world couldn’t prevent the rogue bladder. I knew what was about to happen in t-minus no seconds.

And as I scurried to the driver’s side of the car, the most hidden place I could find, I checked out of planet earth and pretended to be somewhere else. Slightly amused I thought, “This is what it feels like, huh?”


If you realize you’re about to lose it… embrace it. Once I embraced what was happening, it was actually quite amazing. No leg twitching. Hopping around like you got an anteater in your pants. No frantic public runs to the bathroom or desperate plea’s to the ladies in front of you to let you cut. No trying not to laugh too hard just in case. No stomach aches and toe curls and horrible facial expressions as you sit in conversation and wonder how much longer you can make it. Nope. Once you are past the point of no return, forget all of those things, and just embrace it.

It’s kind of nice to pee all over yourself in the Target parking lot if you need to. Completely freeing. A little cold. But, complete freedom.

Whatever. I blame it on having a baby. I figure the first year I can blame anything on her…right? Yep, it is totally her fault.

I thought I saw Santa Clause in the mall parking lot this weekend. Since I refuse to pay for Annie to take her picture with the expensive Santa and I don’t have the patience to wait in line with all those little snot-nose kids for the free Santa, I figured this was a perfect time to snag a picture. Catch Santa on the way to his car. Brilliant.

This Santa was an older man with a hefty belly, big white fluffy beard, flowing silver hair, and a green and red sweat suit on. He was walking towards his truck where his wife was waiting. He was perfect and I was ready to go in for the kill but Ryan stopped me. The kind of stop where I couldn’t really smile my way out of it and do it anyways. It was a real stop. “No. You can’t just ask this strange man if he is Santa, and if so, could our daughter have her picture with you? You can’t do that Jen.”

Ryan looked at me like I was an alien. And like a scolded child, I began sulking.

“Why can’t I? Look at him? He’d love to do it, I can tell.”

Ryan said it was offensive. He said that the man was not in a Santa costume and would not want to be affronted by a mom and her baby who assumed that because he was fat, and had a big white beard, that he was Santa.

I disagreed.

Listen old men of the world: if you have a round belly, don a big beard and long flowing Santa hair, and wear red and green sweats during Christmas, you are simply asking for it. Never mind that you are smoking a cig and are Hispanic (I am from a Hispanic family, still, I have never seen Hispanic elves, have you?)… you are the spitting image of the old man. And if I want my baby to take a picture with you, I will ask. And if you are offended, don’t come out all fat and bearded and jolly and in red and green sweat pants looking like the Clause himself. Wear purple. Or a cowboy hat.

But be warned, as long as you keep the beard, belly, and red sweats, you are fair game for all the cheap, busy mother’s in the world who need their kids picture taken for posterity sake.

We did our first Christmas tour this year. And I use the word “tour” lightly. What was supposed to be a multi-city-baby Jesus-reindeer loving tour ended up consisting of four shows. One show was in Uvalde, Texas in a 100 year old Methodist sanctuary adorned with an abundant amount of stained glass. There were about twenty students. A handful of younger couples. A few families. And then a lot of old people. We were told that the old people weren’t too excited about having us at their annual Christmas party. And that’s always what you want to hear before you go on stage.

And so there we were, all the house lights on, red carpet, pews, little lady eyeballs staring at us, twenty teenagers trying to figure out if they should clap or jump or even stand up at all and I just wanted to crawl in a hole with some eggnog and call it a night. Singing All That Matters to a group of 70-year-old’s who were hoping to play bingo and listen to Bing Crosby for the night was hardly what I had anticipated for this “Christmas Tour.”

The Addison Road Acoustic Christmas Tour for “small churches and communities who could not normally afford a band and all the production that goes a long with a major concert,” was our idea, our way of giving back and affirming the local church. We wanted to create an experience they wouldn’t normally be able to have. We wanted something intimate and meaningful; fun and beautiful; we wanted to start our own Christmas tradition… we asked for this.

That’s what I told myself on stage as the old lady eyeballs looked at me with beady irritation throughout the night.

We asked for this. We asked for this. We asked for this.

I felt a twinge of shame. Was everyone feeling as awkward as I was? Will this concert ever be over? Is that old man breathing? Why are they just staring at me?

Make it go faster… please Lord…put me out of my misery…

Finally, we reached the last song. We ended with an upbeat, funky rendition of “Angels We Have Heard on High.” As Travis strummed away on his banjo, I handed out shakers and bells to the audience and told the rest of the people to get their car keys out and get ready to jingle with us. On other nights this was a really fun cacophony of rhythmically challenged people jingling away. I wasn’t so sure it was going to go that well at this place…

But lo and behold the row of old ladies with the beady eyes who I was convinced hated me for ruining their Christmas party, took out their car keys and began to shake away. Little smiles crept over their faces and their bare boned arms dangled in the air. They giggled and faced each other as they sang along. They looked happy. Really happy.

After the cowbells and all the craziness of the song ended we began to sing, “Oh Come let us Adore Him.”

The five ladies grabbed each other’s hands. One of the elderly ladies rested her head on her friends shoulder. And one of the ladies had tears in her eyes and running down her face. Was she missing someone? Was she thinking it might be her last Christmas? Was she overwhelmed with joy? Did she feel God himself next to her, holding her hand? I’m not sure. But as I watched these ladies I thought, yes, this is why we’re here.

This is exactly what we asked for. Exactly.