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Poems, Prayers and Promises and Things That We Believe In

On Saturday mornings, I run errands, and when I finish I stop to pick up warm donuts and hot coffee. I balance with one hand and steer with the other as I round the corner toward home. And, then I catch a glimpse of Sully riding alongside Daddy. He pumps the pedals on his new Mongoose bike complete with wild green wheels. He sports his sky-blue Winnie-the-Pooh pajamas. Sully is four.

He sees me and the race begins. He gets ahead. I let him win. And I wonder as he turns his Mongoose into the driveway, honestly; how many more times will I get to see him riding training wheels in Winnie-the-Pooh pajamas? I mean, 25-year-old men don’t ride bikes like that. They don’t wear jammies.

I will be 63 when Sully is 25.

My mind instantly carries me to a place I don’t want to go. I think of men, and how, despite what all the feminists say, how very hard their American lives can be. The day-in and day-out grind of making it; the stupid STUPID things they do try to make their worlds better only to end up making them infinitely worse.

When I worked in downtown Oklahoma City, a stone’s throw from the window I stared out every day, three people in one year leaped to their deaths from atop the parking garage where I parked. Like clockwork, the cops would shut down the street and they’d call in some crew to clean the pavement.

To clean the pavement…

The jumpers – that’s what my co-workers called them – were always men.

Dear God.

By 5 p.m., I’d race across the street and try to get out of that garage as fast as I could, running as I was from the dead man’s ghost or my own imagination.


Sully pumps the pedals hard to get up the incline of our steep driveway. Hours later, I catch him in his room. I pop my head in. Surprised, he jumps a little. I say I want to tell you something, and so he looks up at me from his building blocks and fire truck.

You make me very happy, I say, and he smiles big and goes back to playing.

Later still, he sits on the couch. He watches Veggie Tales. I rub his back. He says it feels good, and I’m grateful for the moment. Juliette is on the computer. The Super Bridgy is asleep. With his back to me, I tell him that God loves him. He turns around and asks how does God love him. I say like this, and I pull him to me and hug him.

I tell myself if he can be secure in my love for him, maybe he will be secure in God’s love for Him. He’ll let that love fill him and sustain him through the day-in and the day-out, especially the cruel parts, which we all must face. This will, of course, be many moons from now, long after the Mongoose bike is in a landfill and the Winnie-the-Pooh pajamas are folded and put under his pillow for the last time.


Sully is four. He pedals his Hot Wheels faster than lightning in circles in the driveway and around my car. He breaks at my feet and asks how come he can ride so fast. I tell him because he has strong legs. He raises his eyebrows, sticks out his chin and shakes his head yes.


Today, I get an email. Subject: prayer request. But, I have enough to pray about, how can I make time for more? I open the email. Pray for our troops. It’s 122 degrees in Iraq.

Oh yeah, there’s a war going on.

And, Gen X in Iraq, a Navy Reservist who was never going to see combat; he’s somebody’s son. I don’t know whose. And, I remember, he was marking time by football seasons. It’s nearly fall. Just one more season to go and he’ll be home.


I rock my son to sleep. I sing to him these words:

And talk of poems and prayers and promises
And things that we believe in
How sweet it is to love someone
How right it is to care
How long it’s been since yesterday
What about tomorrow
What about our dreams
And all the memories we share…*

And, when I’m absolutely certain he’s asleep, I lean down and whisper in his ear that jumping will never be the answer, and there are no guarantees when you join the Navy Reserves.

*from John Denver’s Poems, Prayers and Promises

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. jenX

    @ALL – I feel terrible about not responding to these generous comments. I got sick shortly after writing this and it was all I could do to just post something gen-x related over the next several days. These comments meant so much, ya’ll!

    @DADDY FOREVER – Regarding photo – I just tilted the camera – a Nikon D60 and used the zoom feature on =)

  2. Daddy Forever

    Awesome photo. Did you use a special filter or just zoom the lens during the shot?

  3. Debra W

    First off, I want to give you a big mommy hug…Secondly, can you give me one, too? Sometimes, one of the hardest things about mothering is knowing what a monumental job we have in preparing our babies for the world. The other is trying to get everything in before they stop believing that we know everything.

    Beautiful, dear heart, simply beautiful. And bittersweet and sad. But I do know that they can hear us even when we whisper.


  4. Andi

    I teared up on this one, ack.

  5. le @ thirdontheright

    hello honey bunny … great post 🙂 are not our four year olds just amazing … yes they are 🙂 loving the pic – too clever. talk more soon – best le xoox

  6. Something Happened Somewhere Turning

    Such beautifully written words. I am going to hug my girls when they come in from playing.

  7. Territory Mom

    Oh, I love this. Sully has a great mommy. I’m trying to raise my son to be a great man and husband.

  8. glutenfree4goofs

    Okay, now that I’m over the picture I read your post and I’m humbled and prayerful. You beautifully portray a mother’s heart and remind us where our hope lies. Thanks for this post and your boldness. 🙂 I clicked your comment link at P.W.
    Jessie at Blog Schmog

  9. glutenfree4goofs

    Holy cow, I LOVE that shot! I’ve been trying to get something like that of my little guy (one of them that is) on his bike but I don’t think I can on my point and shoot camera.

  10. Anonymous

    Jen, thank you for this beautiful, insiring, insightful and honest view of the american expirience that most would rather sweep under the rug. Keep up the journalism. Rob

  11. T.R.

    A respite indeed! And getting to see the world in slow motion. You always know just the way to inspire us to be better.

  12. Jenny

    What a great post….extra so for me I have my own 4 year old so I know exactly what you mean.

  13. miruspeg

    Jen I have no words that express the way I feel about this post.
    Suffice to say it is PERFECT.

    What a joy it is ALWAYS for me to visit your blog and read such profound posts.

    Never doubt that you make a huge difference not only to your family but to the whole universe. Your spark ignites a huge flame. Your openness, courage and wisdom lifts my spirit.

    Hugs and love.
    Peggy xxxx

  14. Yogi♪♪♪

    Sully is one lucky little boy to have a Mom like you.

  15. Anonymous

    You did it again! ANOTHER fantastic post. I love it!
    Thanks for sharing…

  16. Jim Smith

    Jen…another great piece. Your writing is a great respite. I know your son will someday treasure these thoughts.

  17. Oklahoma Girl

    ok, ya made me cry. but it’s ok ’cause I saw my son age 4, blond blue-eyed all full of happiness & hope secure, as he is today, that his Mama loves him & that her love knows no end no boundaries. Through some very bad times for me & some for him when it seemed we were both lost never to find our way to where we stand today, he knew above all else that his Mama loved him, would die for him, would slay any dragon. I did & still would if need be. He has grown to a man who will never jump. He has traveled so many miles to leave age 4 & reach age 33. So many trials, so many bumps. When he was 4 I was 28. Now I am 57. It all seems lifetimes ago. He has found his way & so have I.

    Thanks for the wonderful post & the views of Sully. I can’t wait to hug him…& the girls.

    See you Saturday?? What time??? E-mail me.

    Hugs to all!!

    blessed be…

  18. wildbillyelliott

    love this post. God bless the Navy Reserves.


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