Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Summer...It's Here. Get Used To It!

Guys, we are only in week one of summer break. And I am already learning a few important things.  First. Going to Dunkin' Donuts does in fact count as a family outing if you have a coupon. If you have a coupon, then it's financially responsible because you are saving money on something that brings the family closer.  Without the coupon, it is just contributing to childhood obesity! Also. Almond Joy flavored iced coffee is SO not worth the money you saved with the coupon.  It really sucks. We don't plan on taking a trip to Dunkin' Donuts every day of summer, but we needed a little pick me up today to get things back on track.
Our oldest child is away at camp on this, the first week of our summer break and we are really missing her!  Specifically, my youngest daughter and I do not know exactly what to do at home without her. My husband simply asks me each day, "Any word from Nana?", as if she has figured out how to send smoke signals from the campsite. I woke up this morning all rosy cheeked, bright eyed, and bushy tailed, ready to face the day.  Lulu was feeling less than eager to do anything that didn't involve watching "Ant Farm" on Netflix.  For the last two weeks, my kid who hasn't cared about TV for over a year, has been obsessively asking to watch "Ant Farm".  It's one of those really great kids' shows that make parents out to be bumbling idiots who exist only for the sake of prompting canned laughter at 15 second intervals! After two shows, I excitedly clapped my hands and said, "What would you like to do together today?!", with all the eagerness of Julie Andrews (pick a role).  "We could go to the pool...the library...the park..."
She lazily plopped down on the couch and mumbled, "Let's just stay here until (our neighbor/bff) comes home."
"She's not coming over until tonight."
"That's ok. I'm good here."
My Julie Andrews inspired plans were squashed.  I can't really say anything.  She is my child.  I have a tendency to laze about if I'm not given other instructions. But suddenly, I have a vision of us, laying about all summer long, unwashed, lethargic, and slothful! I can start to feel the walls closing in on me and just knowing that I no longer have the school day to grocery shop (pretty much daily because of poor meal planning skills), buy hair supplies, and all those other riveting things I do that I can't recall at present, makes me feel twitchy.
"We are not doing THIS (gesture wildly) all summer...we have PLANS! Let's get going."
It was a battle of the wills and I think I just needed to prove to myself that life as I knew it would continue normally this summer.  There was much delay and resistance. We put our bathing suits on and took them off twice.  We played a game in which I had to taste jelly beans and guess what disgusting flavor they might be. I did the dishes. And finally, Lulu agreed to take a ride with me to sign up for summer classes.  We argued briefly about what music to listen to in the car.  There's only so much Adam Levine I can take without becoming irrationally angry. We had to compromise and listen to Pentatonix because apparently I can only stomach pop music when it's sung acapella. Once we arrived at our destination, Lulu bravely agreed to try a gymnastics class because in the words of my own mother (you can't do nothing all summer).  Success!
We even made it to the library, to get our new library card.  When the librarian excitedly told Lulu that tomorrow there would be dancing M&M's performing at the library, she smiled politely and then gave me a squinty eyed look implying that dancing M&M's held about as much interest as getting a head start on multiplication tables or having one's cavity filled. My willful girl refused to check out any books, insisting that she had plenty to read at home, thankyouverymuch.
Together, we found a shelf containing old, worn paperbacks that were either 25 cents or free to borrow if you return them on the honor system. There was an elderly woman with a crazed look in her eyes (seriously) tossing books in her library bag, who said excitedly, "You can take as many as you want, as long as you bring them back! I've read most of them.  I like to take 30 at a time!!"
She nodded and pointed aggressively at the sign. I tried to play it cool while she was standing there watching me, but I gave in to the excitement and started hugging books to my chest.  What can I say? Little excites me more than old paperback, romance novels called things like Honeysuckle Devine, Hearts Aflame, or a personal favorite, Led Astray, which my cosmetology instructor once misread as Lead Ashtray.
Lulu got into the frenzy too and began picking out books for me.
"Mama, do you like this one?" she asked as she picked up a Sandra Brown throwback from the 90's.
"No, Mommy doesn't really like the murder mystery books. That's what Mimi likes.  Mommy likes books where everybody gets married and lives happily ever after in the end...and pirates. Pirates are good."
Just kidding. I didn't say that last part. Cowboys are better. Obviously.
In the end, it was quite a little adventure, after all.  Mommy got free books galore to borrow. Lulu even eventually caved and checked out a graphic novel about a mouse who is married to a rock star. And you know what? We thoroughly enjoyed reading the Bible together for our reading time.  The Message version on my You Version app is easy enough for kids to understand and if I leave out some of the more intense Old Testament smoting of people, it is an incredibly fun read.  If I sound surprised, it's because this is the first time I've spent much time reading it regularly!
We finished up our outing with a trip to Dunkin' Donuts and now we are home, anxiously awaiting our neighbor friend and my client. Is it going to be the most exciting summer ever? Almost certainly not.  I'm sure there will be many more temper tantrums over not wanting to run errands, plenty of trips to the pool or library, and plenty of sibling rivalry. I'm sure we won't do nearly as many educational or creative activities as we should.  We will not grow our own vegetables and no one will learn how to crochet baby hats to cover the heads of premature babies in need. But, if the beginning of summer has taught me anything, it's that this time is precious.  When my oldest daughter headed off to her first activity as a Girl Scout (overnight!) camper, without even a glance back at her needy, old mom and dad, I could practically see her at 18, headed off to college with a grin on her pretty face.
Lulu has decided that she will be eternally devoted to us, never leaving to get a job or go to college, never to marry; ultimately, she's hoping to own many cats. But, I think she will one day leave, even if she sleeps between her father and I until she is 18.
Lately, I think I can actually see them growing.  They are getting so long and lean.  Their faces are thinning out and their tummies are less round.  They are starting to understand more sophisticated humor and are becoming more sure of themselves and their ability to make their way in the world.  So, I will kiss their heads as much as they will allow it and try to speak more gently and take deep breaths when I need them.  I will try to use my "texting voice" a lot less. As in, "Mommy, you are using your texting voice."
"Hmmm? Oh, sorry!"
And, really...just try to live in a place of gratitude for these silly, little moments as often as I can.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

What are You Running from?

I remember fondly, riding down the elevator, stuffing a delicious egg sandwich in my mouth, as a friendly woman, sharing the elevator asked, "Are you running this morning?"
I practically spit the eggy deliciousness out of my mouth.  Ha!
"Nooooo. No, I don't run.  I'm here to support my friends who are running the half and full marathon today.  I'm just making my way to the finish line so I can cheer them on." And anyway, I thought, if I were running, I'd be probably doing that instead of eating this and talking to you. 
"Girl, say no more.  I hear ya.  The only time you'll catch me running is if somebody is chasing me!"
I have been an excellent cheerleader (I made signs...and SHIRTS) for friends who race a few times in my life, but my one pitiful attempt at running a 5K was a bit of a disaster when I was actually trying to be a runner.  I remember pleading my dear partners, my support team, that day,
"Please, go on without me! No, I can't make it.  Got to walk. Going to puke." It was like a scene in a melodramatic movie, when the tragic protagonist says, "I feel so coooold.  Cough, cough. Hold me for just awhile." 
Okay maybe not that bad, but it was a little hard for my ego to swallow.  I had been training for 2 months.  For a 5K.  Yeah. But, that's really beside the point. Because pathetic as that might sound, those 2 months of training really transformed me internally.  For the first time in my 33 years, I found pleasure in physical exertion.  I found joy in the discipline of exercising everyday and competing with...me.  That had never happened before.  Honestly, I was always the kid who would rather take a detention for ditching gym class than face the sweaty masses, eye balling me, as I was once again the last to be chosen for a team. My stomach actually turned and dread caused my skinny knees to shake and my hands to sweat at the thought of any sort of ball hurling toward my head.  My mom, lost all street cred with the gym teachers because she wore out her monogrammed note pad, writing me excuses to sit out.  I even pulled the "female problems" card too many times to count. Balls flying at high speeds in my direction resorted in me either ducking with both arms covering my face (must protect our best assets) or better still, leaping away from the ball while yelling, "Your ball!!" to a poor kid nowhere near the ball. You get the picture. The only gym class activity I delighted in was the parachute game, beloved by 3 year olds everywhere, that involved standing under a parachute while the class tossed balls into the air over your head, squealing with delight. Now THAT's a sport!! 
So being able to run a mile without puking, wheezing or wanting to lie down in the road, was HUGE for me.  Since then, I haven't run very much, but the feeling of strength, power, and tranquility that I experienced stuck with me. A couple of months ago, we hosted two friends of mine, who were running in the Tobacco Road Half Marathon.  As I watched them bravely cross the finish line, seeing just how much that distance cost them by the sweat pouring down their bodies and the pale cast to their faces, I thought, "I want that." 
I want that. Not the race. The races, while being such a high for the people who enjoy them, only create anxiety in me. Even the short ones fill me with the weight of expectation. But, I am in awe of the people who do them and push their bodies to the brink of exhaustion; to a place far past the initial pleas that the brain makes to "Please stop! We can't do this!!" 
What I desired was not weight loss or a better ass or nicer thighs. If those things consequently happen from my running then I'll be the first person to embrace the tighter buns and flaunt them in butt squeezing athletic wear. But really? I love my body; the width of my hips, the flattest of butts, the soft tummy, the slightly stooped shoulders. I don't take any of it for granted because all of the parts work beautifully. They get me where I need to go,  and allowed me to bring two babies into this world. Plus, I really enjoy the occasional cronut with my coffee. Cronuts are so necessary.
What I really crave is the feeling of being so connected to my body, so in the moment, that anything feels possible and within my reach. When I'm running the short distances that I can run, all of the worry, the what ifs, the negativity that hides in dark corners of my mind, disappear. I have a panic disorder. And I have learned to manage it very, very well but it still causes me to wake gasping for air sometimes. It still feels like a weight, resting on my chest some days. It's like leaving the house, knowing you've forgotten something, but not being able pinpoint what it is. You are filled with unease and wish you could figure out why. 
When I run, the self talk that so often can be critical and harsh, becomes as soft and encouraging as an elderly Sunday school teacher, full of grace, who reads to you and prays for you. "You can do this, Girl. Just a little further. I believe you can finish." 
Each bounce of my feet off the pavement, each time a hill becomes level again, each landmark I pass,  is an accomplishment. Something I couldn't do before. 
Running doesn't just make me stronger; it transcends the garbage that wants to make me small and out of control. There are so many people in this world who are trapped in the prisons of their own minds. Everyone knows someone like this or maybe you have been this person. Perpetually negative or worried; always suspicious and disapointed. It's why in 2013, The New York Times claimed that more than 30 million Americans were taking antidepressants.  Antidepressants can be a beautiful thing. They are my friend. But everyone should have ONE thing. One thing that they don't do because they have to but because they want to. Something that allows them to be in the moment, right where their hands and feet are. Something that tunes out the white noise and tunes in what's good and true. 
Its probably not running. But whatever it is for you, I hope it makes you feel safe and content. I hope it blocks out the bullshit and hones in on what's good and true about you! 
And if your ass gets a little bit tighter in the process, then give thanks and order some new yoga pants off Amazon to show that sucker off. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

One Martini, Two Martini, Three Martini, Floor

So...I'm back here. After almost three years...writing! Not quite sure what to make of this but I had an old post jump up in my Facebook feed and I felt a nudge to write. So here I am. This blog was a dear friend to me during a major spiritual growth spurt several years ago and it's a bit like the mate to a pair of Doc Martens I found in a moving box this past summer, after having been MIA for 10+ years. It feels good to dust it off and slip into it again! So hello, old friend. 
Can I just say something out loud? You know how to tell if a friend is REALLY worth their 
salt? She walks up to you and knocks on your car window, only to find you binge eating your feelings via a roast beef sub (lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, cheese, mayo, mustard, oil, and vinegar), in your own driveway, no less, and instead of running screaming or averting her eyes and pretending not to notice, she says "Oh Honey...let me give you a hug!" She embraces you in all your crummy, lettucey glory. Kind of like God would if he were a Southern woman. 
I think God sends you people like that just in time. When we first moved into our current house, I was going on week 5 of chronic daily migraines. I was hiding behind my sunglasses in a sour mood, when the very same friend knocked on my car door, smiling. 
"Are we really going to do this?," I thought. "Yep, looks like we are." 
I was pleasantly surprised to find that her sunny exterior was 100% genuine and she's one of the most guileless, kind hearted  people I've ever met! I like to think of her as my car angel now...and so much more. Just when I'm feeling too overwhelmed to exit my car, and I'm planning my demise...death by submarine sandwich, my car angel knocks on my door and doles 
out hugs. 
Today, I was hiding because I'd just spent hours at the hospital in the pediatric radiology unit with three nurses and a radiologist trying to comfort my screaming child who was yelling, "Mommy, you told me I wouldn't remember it! That it wouldn't hurt!!" We were having an invasive test done for kidney reflux and had requested a sedative that would help her through the ordeal. It was the equivalent of slamming two glasses of Chardonnay and saying, "Yep, I'm good. Ready to have my bladder blown up to the size of a bowling ball. Oh and make sure you use a cocktail straw to get up there. Then I'd like to pee on command while four chicks and a dude I've never met watch." 
I told her how sorry I was because I didn't know. I just had no idea.  I sang her the awful Barney "I Love You" song that we sang when she was little. I prayed quietly in her little ear for it to be over quickly. 
It wasn't. She got the award from the doctor for being the child whose bladder held the most 
liquid she'd seen, EVER. Not a great award to compete for if it means doing this!
When it was over, I just averted my eyes and remained quiet because I feared that if I made eye contact, I might very well throat punch the staff, and I knew that wasn't nice. Especially because they were just following their protocol and did their jobs well. Plus, one was pregnant...so there's that.
But to the doctor who suggested the mild sedative was totally unnecessary, I wanted to say, "How do you like me now bitch?!" when all was said and done. We didn't need two Chardonnays. We needed three martinis, extra dirty, Dean Martin style: one martini, two martini, three martini, floor. 
But, at the end of the day, my baby is okay. Probably more okay than I am. And it's been a rough week but Spring Break starts tomorrow so the world will be set to rights. I haven't throat punched anyone all week and my daughter's kidneys are doing all the kidney things they should. I'm thankful for supportive friends and family that care about my kids! I'm thankful for car angels that don't run from the crummy version of Kate but embrace my crumminess. I'm 
thankful for hospital staff that don't get emotional under pressure. There can only be one Mama. 
And, I'd really like to end this day by trying the martinis, minus the cocktail straw/bowling ball/peeing in public trick.  Bring on the floor!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Brave New World

Wanna know a secret?  Come a little closer...I have this secret life.  I am a stay at home mom by day and a call girl by night! 

Wouldn't that be an awesome opener if it were true?! I bet I'd get a ton of hits on this baby! Not like, "Awesome about the prostitution, Kate!" More like, "Wow! I'm definitely going to finish reading!" 

No, my secret is so much less explosive.  My secret life exists solely in my head.  There are plenty of days when my mind is relatively quiet.  But, every now and then, my baggage rears it's ugly head and starts talking.  Usually, the chatter coincides with major changes in my life...like riiiight about now!  Let me just clarify before you send me comments suggesting that I need to consider psychotropic drugs.  I'm not actually talking to pretend people in my head. That would be not so secret, me thinks.  

No, it's just that when my routine goes through a major shakedown, as wonderful as that may be, I can't seem to turn my nervous thoughts off.  We, as a family, are on the brink some big changes, and well...change and me...we're not so good together.  I truly believe that God has plans to prosper and grow me; great plans for my family's future.  My heart is light and happy, friends! I just wish that that knowledge would somehow make it's way to my stomach, my clenched neck muscles, and my erratic breathing! 

There really has never been a time in my life when I have not struggled with the billion dollar word that drug companies love so much: anxiety.  It's not a constant in my life anymore, thank God.  But, it is very real and pervasive in times of transition for me.  I can remember the year that we moved to Chicago, as I was entering the 7th grade, like it was yesterday.  My little brother, who could make friends with a lamp post, would have five new friends before the moving truck had even rolled out of the drive way, no matter where we lived.  He has the kind of personality that children, adults, and animals are drawn to like a heat seeking missile.  He might disagree, but he has an easy going way about him that puts people immediately at ease.

While he was out playing flashlight tag, kickball, and creating new scar tissue on his roller blades, I was on the verge of developing rickets, due to lack of sun exposure!  I could spend hour upon hour huddled in my room, playing Barbies (yes, that's totally normal in middle school) and watching "Golden Girls" reruns (also totally normal) and the Jerry Springer show (you'll always have the 90's, Jerry).  My mom would beg me to join in the outdoor festivities, but I really couldn't make it much further than the stairs before having to run to the bathroom with IBS symptoms.  Oh, the angst!  I was too small and serious for my age (Barbara Walters was my favorite TV personality) and I preferred the safety of my little indoor world to the great unknown. 

Finally, my mom and a neighbor ambushed me with a blind date of sorts. The kindly neighbor invited us over to meet Molly, another sweet, serious soul with pretty red hair who was just as nervous about starting the 7th grade.  Molly and I became fast friends and we shouldered the burden of being awkward tweens together. A few weeks later, I discovered another hidden treasure. Another too-tiny-12 year old sat silently a few rows behind me in chorus class.  I complimented her on her white Barbie high tops (she still wears high tops) and we quickly bonded over our love of Elvis Presley.  Now, Anjali, has two beautiful children of her own and I still thank my lucky stars that I had the good sense to pick her out of a crowd!  

I learned at a young age to seek out friends that love and accept me for my idiosyncrasies and don't mind if I don't do small talk very well.  Knowing that wonderful, strong women have your back can make all of the difference in your world.  Having a husband that actually cares about the best and worst parts of your day is a beautiful thing.  But, no amount of reassurance or encouragement can quiet the busybody in my head; always questioning, second guessing, assessing, assuming the worst.  That, is just an inside job.  Anxiety is not a choice. It is one part of me; just like my brown hair, my flat derriere, or my green eyes.  It does not define me, but it can be a heavy load to carry. My heart aches, at times, for my husband and children because try as I might, I can't seem to give them all of the attention that they deserve. 

The other night, my brother and I were texting, our main method of communication.  He is so concise and intuitive!  He said, "You are smarter and stronger than most.  Why not act like it?"

Um...gee...thanks!  I don't know.   (I am very concise too!) 

Why don't we act as smart and strong as we really are?  For me, I think the answer is that I avoid feeling anxious at all costs.  If I acted like a stronger, more confident version of myself, people might not like me as much, which would create anxiety.  There, you have it! Is that true?  Probably not.  But, the fear is real; nevertheless.  Maybe you have found reasons over the years to make yourself small.  Do you know why?  

Instead of wringing my hands and stamping my forehead with "Lost Cause," I choose hope.  I choose to believe that by putting my faith in the future God has planned for me and making positive choices, I can be different.  I can practice being stronger and assuming the best, for a change.  I can be humble for the right reasons.  

And, if that negative voice starts to chime in, I can just yell, "Somebody tell that bitch to be quiet!" 

No?? Would that be weird?  Okay, then maybe a little deep breathing and prayer, instead!


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Keepin It Real

Boy, would I love to write a post sometime this decade that gushes about how fabulous my life is!  Everything's looking up, my future is so bright I need shades, wine and roses, bowl of cherries, you get the picture.  I would love to be able to stay, "Stop! Enough with the blessings already! I can't take any more joy!"  I would love to say to my children (in this exact order), "One day you will grow up, go to college, have an exciting career, meet the guy of your dreams, have beautiful children, and live happily ever after; the end."  But, I can't really say that in good faith because my experiences have shaped my vision of the future, and if we're keepin it real, which ya know I do, the future looks hard as hell.  

I'm not trying to be a Debby Downer; honest, but my forecast of life in general is a whole lot of rain with just enough rainbows tossed in to keep you off the sauce.  Okay, that was seriously, Debby Downer.  Sometimes I look at all of my Facebook friends' postings and think, "Hmmm...maybe it's just me.  Maybe, they are all really happy, enjoying a life of barbeques, a game of touch football with the kiddos, inspirational quotes courtesy of Pinterest, and Sundays packed full of family togetherness." I wonder what would happen if I posted, "F*%$ me! I'm going to run away from home!"  How many likes would I get?  

I worry, in particular, about my babies.  Because they are so precious and innocent.  I, for one, do not want to be responsible for taking any of the light out of their eyes.  They have no concept of the problems they will face as they enter puberty, and then, adulthood.  All they know is that mommy and daddy love each other and them.  That God is good and takes care of us and everything that we need.  That they have nice friends, a nice house, and a big family full of people that adore them.  Oh, if only I could freeze this state of grace for them and place them in a little bubble!  

How can I prepare them for the harsh realities of this world?  I was thinking of writing a series of children's books with a fresh take on fairy tales; you know, make them a little more realistic.  Once upon a time, there lived a Queen, a King, and two princesses.  The Queen was fair and tenderhearted (me, of course) but she had high blood pressure from stress and saw a counselor for her generalized anxiety disorder.  The King was a kind and loving father, a heck of a hunter and gatherer, but worked too many hours and was exhausted and stressed the majority of the time. 

Nice, right?  Just sort of ease them into realistic expectations for the future! I'm kidding, but I do think that Walt Disney has really done a number on the female brain.  Hey, just look at the authentic, original Grimm fairy tales.  Those guys weren't holding any punches. The step sisters get parts of their feet hacked off, for God's sake!  And Rapunzel's guy ends up with his eyes gouged out...not quite the fairy tale ending in "Tangled," right?  I mean, do I need to even mention the whole cannibalism theme in Hansel and Gretel? Gross!

Like I said in my previous post, hope is hard for me.  Life for me today is living hour by hour, putting one foot in front of the other, and pushing ahead.  I have no earthly idea what's in front of me, and I try not to look too far behind me.  I try to take pleasure in the small blessings; the thumbprints that God leaves on my life.  Thanks, Lord, for finding me the perfect seat on the airplane the other day.  The conversation I had with my fellow traveler took my breath away.  She is this beautiful, smart, black woman in her fifties who just happened to be reading one of my favorite books of the Bible, Colossians (or anything written by Paul).  We talked about faith, her courage to leave an abusive marriage after thirty years, the strength it took to step out in faith and start over at 50, and finding her way back to the Lord through the pain.  She was a blessing to me that I will not soon forget.  

If we met in any other circumstances, I would like to think that we would become friends.  I am drawn to strong women, who have suffered and persevered, lost a battle or two, but lived to win the war.  I am drawn to women who tell it like it is, even if you don't like what they have to say.  I am drawn to women who will not shy away from controversy, but do not need to seek it out.  Maybe because I want to be like them? I admire people who choose to do things entirely on their own, but I will never be one of them.  My support system is everything to me and I pride myself on knowing when to ask for help because it is not easy.  

Right now, I could use a little help from my friends.  If you are a praying person, maybe you could pray for some healing for my family.  If you are a positive vibes kind of gal, maybe you could send some out into the universe for us.  We could use a little peace and calm in our lives.  Your happy thoughts and prayers are much appreciated.  I am grateful for every last one of you!  



Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Lt. Dan and Me

Hi Friends! Long time no talk.  It's not that I've given up on blogging; not at all.  It's just that I've been a little lost.  Most of you know that my family has been through some life altering events over the course of the last few years. And you know what?  I think we've come out on top...perhaps, a little worse for wear, but so much stronger as family than I thought we would be.  We all know people who have suffered great losses or lived through traumatic events, don't we?  If you are like me, you've always looked at those folks and thought, "Wow.  They are so strong.  I could never survive something like that!  I'd be on the first paddy wagon to the crazy house if that awfulness showed up at my door!"  I am in awe of people who have lost someone they love dearly, for example, and just keep on truckin'.  Somehow, I always thought that if the bottom were to drop out, I would just cease to function. 

But this is not so!  Quite the opposite, in fact.  Regardless of how crappy or stressful life gets, the world just keeps on turning.  I find that to be incredibly comforting!   While, I know that life can be painful and the future will hold many more bumps and bruises along the way, I know this truth: I am strong.  People are resilient.  Nothing can keep me down for long.  Believe it or not, I just found this out about myself (slow learner).  This truth is a rock that I can stand on, a place to plant my feet firmly on the ground.  With God's grace, I will not only survive, but thrive again!  "There but for the grace of God, goeth I." 

I also learned that you should not tattoo inspirational mottoes onto your body because there will be a new one on Pinterest that you'll like next week.  

With all of this inner strength under my belt, I've had another realization.  Who you are at 18, is not any indication of who you will be at 34.  My counselor said today, "Ah, to be 34.  That is a really great age, isn't it?" He is Australian and everything he says sounds like he's reminiscing about the golden days of his youth Down Under.  He is right! Despite the crappy year, 34 is really pretty fabulous. It's young enough to have small children, but old enough to have complete ownership of your uterus and boobs if you so desire.  And I do! Whoo-hoo, no more procreation (sorry Mom and Dad)!  It's old enough to have worked at a job that you were really good at and young enough to decide that you would like to pursue a new career. It's old enough to have been humbled thoroughly and young enough to rebound from the hard stuff without any bitterness.  Ugh! To be 25 and think that you know it all...I'd rather have my impacted, wisdom teeth pulled again.  

Now, that the dust has settled, I am learning to be excited about life again.  It's been a really, really long time since I experienced excitement.  I am opening myself up to new career opportunities, new education, and new habits. I am not making any plans for the future because I still find myself with a spirit of fear concerning that four letter word, "hope."  Hope is super hard for me.  I have this irrational fear that if the universe catches me hoping, it will snatch up my dreams before they can materialize.  What can I say...it's a work in progress.  

The only unsettling piece of the puzzle is spiritual.  If you have read my blog for three or four posts, you know that my identity has been largely defined by my faith in God.  I cannot remember a time when I did not feel wholeheartedly connected to God through my faith in Jesus and His word.  I was so sure, so confident in the role that God plays in my life, my future, that I was almost prideful about it.  "Look at me!  Look what God has done for us!  He will do it for you too if you just believe!" Looking back, I realize that the box I have placed God in is quite small (you know, for the creator of the universe).  

I still believe in a God who gave his only son, to suffer on the cross and die for my sins.  I still believe that He is the greatest of healers and that His love is endless and perfect.  I just don't quite understand how I am supposed to relate to Him.  Do my prayers really change the course of events?  Or do they just change me?  Has everything already been predetermined anyway or is there room for change?  If we're all part of a perfect plan, what is the purpose of praying about events?  If you could type up a thesis on my theological questions ASAP that would be awesome.

My philosophical quandaries remind me of a moment I shared with a Holocaust survivor who spoke to my middle school class, years ago. We had just finished reading, Diary of Anne Frank, and my little heart was full of righteous indignation over the suffering of the Jewish people.  This kind, soft spoken, German man spoke to us youngsters about his awful ordeal as a Holocaust survivor during WWII and offered afterward to answer any of our questions.  I bravely (super shy) raised my hand and asked in a little voice, "Do you still pray to God after everything you've been through?" For a moment, he was silent and looked uncomfortable.  Then he said, "That's a little too philosophical for me. Next question?"  In that moment, I was wishing that the floor would just open up and swallow my seventh grade body! 

I realize now that he just didn't have the answers.  I don't have the answers either. And you know what?  I'm okay with that.  God is patient and merciful.  I believe that He will grant me the time I need to work these doubts out.  I imagine myself shaking an angry fist at the heavens in the midst of a storm (like Lt. Dan on the shrimp boat...Forest Gump, dude) and finally, the storm will pass and I'll hurl my body overboard and backstroke away, smiling.  It's a metaphor...just roll with it.  Hopefully, I won't be handicapped, wearing a wife beater, and working on a shrimp boat when I figure these things out.

But, like I said, I'm open to new possibilities! Preferably, ones that don't involve me living on small boat that smells like fish.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Are we having fun yet?

On the count of three, let's just all say what stay at home moms the world over are thinking right now.  Ready? One, two, three...no, not that you wish your thighs were smaller and your breasts were perkier; that's a given.  I'm talking about the other thing...say it with me..."Summer sucks!"  Now, doesn't that feel better?  I think at this point, a couple of weeks into summer, there should be a workshop held for moms who are spending 24/7, 168 hours a week, with their children.  The only requirement is that you bring your own baseball bat and your vice of choice (beer, chocolate, ice cream, pizza, wine, etc...nothing kinky please).  Remember those inflatable pop up clowns that used to spring back up every time you punched them?  We will have those stationed all over the room and the baseball bats will be used to beat the ever-loving crap out of them.  Either that or I was thinking a rusty old car?  My mom did that once at a feminist rally.  You get the idea...just something to beat the s*$% out of.  That activity will be followed up with the consumption of your favorite food or beverage in mass quantities.  

If you have the financial means to enroll your children in many day camps, you are allowed to come because you still have to haul their asses around all over town.  If you have a full time nanny like Charlotte from Sex and the City, you best be keeping that to yourself.  

Perhaps you might respond to this post negatively.  You might say, "My children are like manna from heaven and I just can't get enough of the little creatures!" I'm gonna call B.S. on that one.  Why?? Well, did you know that the average four year old asks 437 questions a day?  And if one parent is spending 90% of the day with said four year old, who do you think answers those questions?  Yup! If the U.S. government knew about this powerful method of breaking down an individual's sanity, they would allow four year olds to infiltrate terrorist cells all over the world!  The standard "Uh-huh" response doesn't seem to cut it anymore with my youngest. She is on to me!  If I am not paying attention, she will ask, "Mommy, is your brain not working?" My oldest will just say, "Earth to Mommy...anybody home?"

Don't get me wrong, I really love those guys.  They are the best.  Literally.  There is so much wrong with the world, so much hate, heartache, and brokenness.  They are what is right.  I can't even remember what it was like to be that trusting, that idealistic, and innocent.  They see the very best in everyone and every situation.  They say their prayers at night, nestled in their beds, believing wholeheartedly that they are safe.  The biggest worry Lilah has is how many treats she will be allowed to eat in one day.  Savannah only worries about how much time she's going to get on my Kindle tomorrow, and whether Lilah is going to mess with her stuff.  There is so much light in their faces; so much hope!

I recognize that I have the greatest job ever.  These years with them in my care are precious indeed.  It's just that I think I'd do the job so much better if I had 24 hours out of every week to myself.  No questions to answer, no fights to break up, no messes to clean up, no toys to step over; just solitude.  Can you imagine?  I actually got so desperate today that I started looking at Megabus schedules just "for fun."  It's okay...you can shake your head.  But, did you know that for like twenty bucks you can ride a Megabus from Atlanta to New Orleans?  Or Memphis, Tennessee?  I've always wanted to see Graceland, the way that some people want to see the Eiffel Tower. If I ever go missing and they put out an APB on me, just check Graceland first...I will be in the jungle room eating a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich.  

Nothing really prepares you for being a mother. From the moment that child is handed to you, the transformation begins, and suddenly it's just not about you anymore.  Without a second thought, you would take a bullet for that tiny bundle in your arms.  The scariest part about motherhood for me, has been realizing that even when the worst things happen, you don't get to fall apart.  No longer is there someone around to take care of you...you are the caretaker, the nurse, the one with the stiff upper lip.  This is nothing new; women have been keeping calm and carrying on for thousands of years.  But, it is relatively new to me...and it's overwhelming. 

Tonight, I really just want to raise a glass to mothers all over the world.  Some of you are being both Mom and Dad to a child and doing a great job of it.  Some of you are working 60 hours a week and still make time to love on your kid.  Some of you are doing this tough summer gig year round, educating your children at home, and I am in awe of you.  Some of you are exhausted, just like me; trying to catch your breath after the toughest year of your life.  That's okay.  We're all just doing the best we can.  And if the smiles on their faces are any indication, I think we're doing a pretty good job, don't you?