This apologizing and excusing comes into play in motherhood as well. Some moms feel the need to justify their decisions and their child-rearing to their friends and even random strangers. We may be confident in what we’ve chosen. We may firmly believe that we’re doing the best we can for our families. Yet, seeing another mom doing something differently or a stranger just looking at us a certain way and we feel like we ought to explain. I’m sure psychologists have lots of theories and explanations for this. I’m sure I could delve deep into my psyche and perhaps my past experiences and come up with some reasons as well. But that’s not what this blog post is about. This post is about me learning to do something about all of this unnecessary apologizing and explaining.
In the last few years, I have been pushing myself to just shut my mouth. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I almost always still feel the urge to explain myself or to apologize. However, I am learning to stifle that urge more and more. This is for myself, but it’s also for my children, especially my daughter. I don’t want her to apologize for things that aren’t her fault. I don’t want her to feel the need to explain herself to anyone who doesn’t need to know why she’s made the decisions she has. I want her to be bold and confident. And I know that everything I do, every interaction I have that she is watching and learning. Just as she talks to her brother in the same tone of voice and using the same words that I do, so will she mimic this behavior. I’m sorry, but that’s not OK with me. No, wait. I’m not sorry.
You, mama, don’t have to be sorry either. You don’t have to apologize and you don’t have to explain yourself. We other moms probably aren’t judging you nearly as harshly (if at all!) as you think we are. If we are, then unfriend us. Nobody needs that negativity in her life. Here are some things of late for which I refuse to apologize or explain. You can judge me if you want. Go ahead. I really, truly don’t care. If it bothers you enough, click away to another Web site.
- I’m not sorry for feeding my children chicken nuggets for lunch every couple of weeks or so. I recently had a friend visiting and found myself starting to explain why we were having chicken nuggets that day. And then I stopped. She didn’t care.
- I’m not sorry for ordering my food a certain way at a restaurant because I have dietary restrictions I don’t always care to discuss.
- I’m not sorry for picking my son up off the floor at the hair salon when he started throwing a temper tantrum and distract him by looking out the window instead of disciplining him. It was the moment. And it was the right decision at the time. Trust me. That doesn’t happen all the time.
- I’m not sorry for my dog jumping on you at the vet’s office when you got him all excited.
- I’m not sorry for letting my daughter watch a third episode of “Daniel Tiger” so I could have a few minutes to myself.
- I’m not sorry that I need downtime. I don’t need to justify it.
- I’m not going to explain why the one afternoon I had a break from my children recently that I spent the time reading and napping instead of cleaning my house that was verging on a disaster zone.
- I’m not going to apologize for the three minutes I spent checking Facebook on my iPhone during lunch with my children with whom I had been interacting with constantly for the previous four hours.
- I’m not going to explain why my daughter isn’t taking another dance class this fall.
- I have no need to explain why sometimes we eat canned Spaghetti-Os for dinner and my children gobble it up better than if I spent an hour cooking.
- I’m not going to explain why my children are in the car seats they are or facing the direction they’re facing. They are safe.
Every day this list could change, evolve and grow. And every day, someone in my life who I think may be caring about a decision I made or judging me is most likely too worried about themselves to even start to care about my decisions or judge me for them. I don’t have to be constantly sorry. I am not responsible for the happiness of the entire world. I cannot control every single thing in every single situation. I am not perfect.
I’m not even sorry for my imperfection. My imperfection is what makes me human. My imperfection is what reminds me that I need God. My imperfection makes me real and gives me goals to work toward. My imperfection gives me opportunities to teach my children about how to make mistakes and take responsibility for them. I am not sorry for being me even though sometimes I wish I were a better version of me. I also do not owe people an explanation as to why I am the way I am or have made the choices I have.
To some, this is not earth shattering news. That is awesome. To others like me who have struggled with this tendency throughout life, I ask you to join me. Partner with me in working to sometimes just be quiet instead of apologize. Remind yourself that you aren’t responsible for the happiness of the whole world. Remember that you don’t owe anyone explanations. Remember that sometimes you can just keep quiet and that’s OK. You don’t have to apologize or explain. Join me in silence. You won’t be sorry that you did. ;-)]]>
- I get to see sweet smiles every morning and throughout the day every day. Nothing makes my heart happier than having happy children. When they’re happy and smiling, I can’t help but join them. One of my favorite things right now is going to get my son up in the morning or from his nap. When I enter the room he’s so happy to see me that he not only smiles, he laughs. It’s pure joy. To know that my mere presence can cause that in another person makes my heart swell. I usually giggle back at him.
- I get to listen to their stories. Well, this is mostly true just for my preschooler, but more and more my toddler is communicating. I spent so long wondering what they were going to be like and what they thought about that now that they can communicate it to me is such a joy. Yes, I get tired of incessant talking sometimes, but for the most part, my children entertain me and delight my heart as I see them growing into the people they are.
- I get to laugh — a lot. Seriously, I don’t think I ever laughed this much or this often before I had children. My kids are funny. They do funny things. They say funny things. We laugh a lot. And their laughter makes my heart burst with joy no matter what I’m dealing with.
- I get to see my children form their own relationships. I love seeing them interact with their grandparents and other relatives. Even more I love seeing them interact with one another. Sure I have to be a referee sometimes, but more often they are loving on each other. They love to snuggle with each other. Every night at bedtime, my son climbs into my daughter’s bed yelling, “Sister!” over and over. Then she pulls him over to her and they hug tight and kiss good night. Every night my heart melts and my eyes tear up. Man, it’s good stuff!
- I get snuggles. Boy do I ever! While it can sometimes be a bit crazy when they are both vying for my lap and I kind of, sort of just want to be able to sit by myself, I cannot resist the feel of little arms around me or little lips smooching my cheek. I melt. Having a baby, toddler or small child snuggle into you just soothes your soul.
- I always have a snack handy. I carry stuff with me like Teddy Grahams or crackers or fruit. I almost always have some sort of snack somewhere on my person or in my car. It’s great for the kids. It’s come in handy a few times for me, too. Just the other day, I was starving and snatched a couple of the oyster crackers my son had dropped in his car seat as I was getting him out of the car.
- Speaking of having things handy, I almost always can offer you a wipe to clean something with, a baby spoon, a napkin, a hat, a blanket, a pair of small sunglasses, sunscreen, adhesive placemats, toys, books and almost anything else you can think of. I never had stuff like that with me before having kids. It all comes in handy.
- I have a built-in excuse for downtime. Don’t blast me for being so honest about this. When I was pumping or nursing, I got away often with and without the baby. As an introvert, those small breaks were sometimes so very precious to me. Even now there are times when my son needs a diaper change or a nap and I have to go that I’m not all so disappointed to get a break myself. I promise I don’t dislike people, but I do sometimes just need a minute to breathe.
- I get to be blessed by other people in new ways. Before I had children, I didn’t talk to nearly as many people, but now people stop me to talk about and to my children often. I also get to experience the blessing of someone being good to my children. If you’re good to me, I’m happy. If you’re good to my babies, then I’m over-the-moon and likely to be your friend for life. I’m so blessed when others bless my children by being kind to them or going out of their way to make them feel special.
- I get to experience the world afresh all over again. My son is learning more about everything around him every day. My daughter is constantly learning and asking all sorts of questions. I see the world through their eyes. I see the novelty of small things like watching the rain. I am challenged by the questions my daughter has about important issues of faith. I am blessed and awestruck at their pureness and untainted view of the world and other people.
- Probably a minimum of five times a day I say or think how cute my children are. Sometimes the level of cuteness in my house overwhelms me, especially when you add our cute pooch and my cute husband. Gah! I can’t stand it and I love every minute of it. I may be humble in many ways, but I will tell you outright that my husband and I make the most adorable children (thanks for that also goes to God, of course!).
- I get to read some fun books. I’m not to this stage with my son, yet. With him I’m stuck in the read-this-same-book-10-times-in-a-row phase. But my almost 5-year-old is a different story. For a year or so, we’ve been able to read chapter books. I’ve been able to share some of my favorites with her and we’ve found some new favorites together. I love reading. I love books. I love sharing them with my children. I love good books for kids.
These are just a few of the benefits of motherhood I can think of for now. Do you agree? What would you add? Share the with me!]]>
In my life, I have mentioned going to Gen Con to others who have no clue what I’m talking about and still think I’m a bit crazy or maybe even weird once I explain it to them. That’s OK. I get that. I lived that. I wasn’t always a gamer. I wasn’t always this woman who sits around a table with six other people (give or take) pretending to be someone else in a fictional situation who’s movements and decisions rely on rolling the right number on dice. I spent years as a gamer’s wife. And that was OK, too. But, slowly through the last 15 years of being a wife, I have evolved into a gaming wife. I’m glad. I enjoy playing games with my husband and seeing his creativity. I enjoy getting a peek at how his brain works outside of our regular daily life together raising two small children. This transformation took place during the Gen Con years, in fact. The first year we attended, my goal was to write about the event as a journalist since my husband was interested in going anyway. We went only one day. I didn’t know what to expect, but I’ve learned. I’ve become a gamer and we’ve learned the ins and outs of Gen Con. We know how to get into games, we know where to park based on where we’ll be, we know where to go for food and we know where the press room is. My husband has spent time working in downtown Indianapolis and, in living an hour away, we’ve visited there often, so we’re quite familiar with the area, but navigating Gen Con is sort of its own beast.
While the games draw me to the convention, the people also do. And by people, we’re talking more than 49,000 of them. Gen Con attendees flood downtown Indianapolis. They fill up all the hotel rooms. They take up seats in the restaurants. There are lots and lots and lots of gamers. They interest me nearly as much as the games. My view of them has shifted through the years as well. The first year we went to Gen Con, I had no idea what to expect and had preconceived notions of finding mostly a male crowd maybe in their teens and 20s. I anticipated awkward, stereotypical, geeky gamers. I now hang my head in shame for that notion. Gamers are so much more.
I’ve learned that gamers come from all walks of life. I’ve encountered people of all ages at Gen Con from babies to college students to fellow mid-lifers to senior citizens. Some are married; some aren’t. Some have children; some don’t. Some are working professionals; some are students. Some have traveled across the country; some have traveled mere minutes. Some of them dress as their favorite characters; some wear their everyday clothes. But they are all there because they love games of some kind or all kinds. Gen Con is a draw for people who play role playing games, board games, card games, video games, computer games and pretty much any game you can think of. There are rooms upon rooms of people sitting around playing games. There are even rooms of people acting out games.
While all the gamers are different in many ways from gender to age to religion to occupation, they are all the same in so many ways as well. I’ve never met friendlier people. I say that as someone who was born and raised by southern influenced folks and who has spent a fair amount of time in the friendly state of Tennessee. Gamers are friendlier. The stereotypical gamer is a quiet person who might not be all that social. I fall into that category. I’m quiet. I’m a total introvert. I don’t seek out people I don’t know to talk with. That’s not my personality. But that doesn’t matter at Gen Con. Conversations happen all over the place, all the time. There was the grandma who I chatted with while waiting in line to get into the Paizo booth. We talked about my children and her grandchildren while we watched an adorable little 1-year-old go crazy for a man dressed as Gandolf from Lord of the Rings. There were the two gamers from the East Coast who we chatted with while waiting to get into a game about the new Dungeons & Dragons system and what our commutes were like. There were the fellow attendees who chatted with us when we ventured over to a movie theater to watch a screening of the 1986 movie “Aliens.” (My husband was beside himself to see that movie on the big screen since he was too young to see it on the big screen the first time around.)
Gamers are helpful. This is true both outside and inside of gaming. We had an unexpected adventure with a few other gamers coming up in the elevator from the parking garage when the door to get outside was locked early on Saturday morning. We worked together to figure out where we were going and how to get out. Another gamer offered advice when he overheard my husband and I talking about the new spinning dice ring my husband had purchased. During different game sessions when players had questions about their character or the game mechanics, others were quick to offer help and advice. It makes sense to me because so much of gaming, especially of the role playing variety, is based around helping people out. Gamers are fighting in-game for the common good of a population. That extends in real life so that when I was playing a wizard and didn’t know what all my spells did, other gamers at the table were happy to help me with information. When that same wizard had some bad luck thanks to the roll of the dice and ended up dead on the bottom of a pit, those same gamers used their characters to come down and save me. Later one even gave me his health potion in-game when my character was failing yet again. Gamers are good people.
Gamers are polite. Usually in a crowded space like the exhibit hall is, people tend to push and shove. They tend to bump into one another and not acknowledge having done so. I’ve not had that issue at Gen Con. It’s busy. People are everywhere, but they remain civil and cordial and pretty darn polite.
Gamers are nice. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone make fun of someone else at Gen Con. I have heard a vendor or two talk negatively about gamers before (I didn’t patronize those booths). Most vendors are gamers themselves who love fellow gamers even just for the fact they are buying their products. But for the most part, gamers are nice to each other and don’t laugh at the way someone is dressed or what they’re doing. Of course we may laugh at someone’s antics in game when they do something crazy, but never in a derogatory manner.
I think overall that these people, these fellow gamers — my people — are a big part of why I enjoy Gen Con so much. For four days we band together. We fight imaginary battles. We right imaginary wrongs. We take breaks from being who we are the rest of the time. I take a break from being a mom of young children (our kids don’t go with us, but there are definitely plenty of kids to be found at Gen Con). I still do wear my journalist hat somewhat in doing interviews and writing while at Gen Con, but I also get breaks from that. We come together. We share laughs and victories. We share common interests. We spend four days running around the convention center and adjacent hotels and restaurants wearing ourselves out and having fun. We make up the people of Gen Con. I have become one of them and I am honored. Game on! Time to start thinking about Gen Con 2015. Who’s with me?!]]>
And those differing phases were exactly what I was thinking about. Not long after we moved in, this neighbor’s grandchildren rang our doorbell to sell something for their school. They were elementary-aged then. A decade later, they must be mostly grown, I realized. So I got to thinking about time flying. It does with children. My daughter will be 5 in October and, yet, I still feel like she was just born. My son is almost 18 months old and, yet, I still feel like he was just born. I was struck in that moment at the difference in our lives, my neighbor and I. I was also struck by the similarities. I marveled that it was 8 p.m. and she was out and about while I am never out and about at 8 p.m. That’s bedtime for my kids. But, she is beyond that phase. Maybe she misses it; maybe she doesn’t. Maybe it’s a combination of both.
What struck me for the first time is how short-lived this motherhood thing is. I will be a mother the rest of my life no matter how long I live or what happens. It is a part of my identity. It is part of me and it won’t ever go away. However, I won’t be consumed by motherhood the rest of my life. Right now I’m in the thick of it with a toddler and preschooler who need so much from me. But, they are both gaining more independence almost daily. They will slowly and steadily need less of me. In 17 years, my baby boy will graduate high school and move on to college. I will have an empty nest. 17 years! That span of time both seems like forever and also like a blink of an eye. When I think that next month my husband and I will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary, I realize again how fast time goes.
And so I was left to realize that in the midst of all the pressing needs of mothering small children, I must cling to pieces of myself where I can find them. While I need to give myself to my children, I also need to take breaks and give myself to me and to my husband. They really are only with us a short time. I won’t stop being their mom when they are 18. No switch flips like that. My own parents haven’t stopped being my parents now that I’m a grown-up, but our relationship is vastly different now than it was 30 years ago when I was my daughter’s age. I think about what it will be like when my babies are grown. I can’t quite wrap my head around it. I don’t know exactly what choices they’ll make and how they’ll turn out. I don’t know how I will feel when my time of really rearing them is complete. But I do know I will be left with myself and I don’t want to lose her.
It’s very easy to be consumed by motherhood and perhaps it’s completely necessary. However, it’s also quite taxing and leaves little room for much else. Sometimes I forget that I am more than a mom because I simply don’t have the energy left at the end of the day to be anything else. I think that’s OK for now, mostly because it just has to be. I just want to make sure that I don’t completely disappear over these next 17 years. I will change, I’m sure. I have already changed and I wouldn’t go back. I love being a mother. I love being defined as a mother. I love the person my children have made me. I pray and long to be good enough to raise these little ones as they deserve. I pray for strength to be the best me I can be for them. They are my world. But my world is one day going to not be so tight. My world is one day going to go out on its own. I don’t want to forget the Stacey I am underneath the mother I am.
I can only smile as I think about my neighbor and her oblivion to what just seeing her out and about 8 p.m. sparked in me. We don’t know each other well. I won’t ever share this with her. That’s OK. I find myself wondering now whether she has any regrets from her child-rearing days. I wonder how she was left to define or redefine herself when her children were grown. Maybe it’s an abrupt change and maybe it’s gradual. I will see one of these days. But for now I’m going to keep snatching small pieces of myself here and there amidst the chaos and joy of mothering small children.]]>
But, it’s not the town or the food that gets me. It’s the lake. Byrdstown is perched right beside Dale Hollow Lake. This man-made creation is huge. It has a multitude of docks. It has a city still buried beneath it from the old days. It has a history all to itself that is fascinating, but my history is what I think of when I look out over the waters of Dale Hollow and smell that lake water. I have vivid memories of good times with family and I feel as if I’m come full circle now that I’m able to make new memories there with my own family. Both of my kids swam for their very first time in the lake. For me, our vacation is relaxing but it also swirls together past and present for me.
I smell the lake water and I remember swimming off a dock with my family as a small child and my grandpa soaping up in the lake. I smell the boat engines and think of the many, many fishing trips I’ve taken with my dad, grandpa and older brother. We didn’t always say so much, but we were together. We made memories. We laughed when someone went “squirrel fishing” and got their line caught in a tree. We whooped when anyone reeled in a fish of significant size. Heck, if I’m being completely honest I even remember the coffee can I’d use for the bathroom when I was little as all the guys turned their heads the other way before I really even understood that much about modesty.
The lull of curvy roads (which are quickly disappearing) reminds me of rolling around in the back of my dad’s camper truck with my brother and cousin as we wound our way down to the lake. A visit to a local restaurant reminds me how we’d often get to share a hot fudge cake sundae on vacation. It also reminds me of being a child and ordering my breakfast for the first time with one egg scrambled and one fried. My family laughed about that. The waitress look at me like I had two heads. To this day, when I make eggs for myself that’s exactly how I make them. I no longer try getting them that way in a restaurant, though.
While so much remains the same, a lot has changed as well. When we drive along the “new” highway, I remember when I was a child and it was being built. I remember one particular trip with my grandparents, brother and cousin where we walked along the dirt that had been pressed down in preparation for the new road going in. It’s much straighter than the old road and makes loads more sense, I suppose. But it’s different than it used to be.
I also have new memories sneaking in with the old ones. When I look at the ducks and fish swimming off of Sunset Dock, I think of my pooch and how much he likes to bark at them and swim beside them. This trip he stayed home with my in-laws who have his littermate brother and only met us at the end of the trip at a family reunion, but he usually goes with us. He had a back injury flare up, so we knew he’d be better off not going.
When my daughter and I feed the ducks, fish and turtles from the dock, I think of my mom who loves doing that very thing with us. I remember last summer when my daughter was finally old enough to start feeding the fish with us and how much she enjoyed it. I chuckle when I think of making bread balls to sink down to the fish and my husband and daughter telling the fish to enjoy their “spicy meatballs.” It makes no sense, but it is a funny memory to me.
When I watch my son splashing his hands on top of the water at the beach, I remember his sister in her green watermelon two-piece bathing suit doing the same thing.
When I look at the bunk beds where we stay, I remember how for two summers now my daughter hasn’t been allowed to sleep on the top bunk, but she’s loved climbing up there and sitting atop the comforter to read her bedtime stories.
I have so many vacation memories. I have distant ones from childhood. I have ones that are bittersweet as I think of my grandpa who is now in heaven and my grandma who I’m not sure will ever make the trip south again. I have closer ones from recent years. And this year, I’ve added to my collection of memories. I’ll remember my daughter lighting up with joy when we stopped at nearby Dinosaur World on the way down. I’ll remember my son feeling very unsure about the sand between his toes. I’ll remember my daughter snuggling beside her dad on the loveseat watching episodes of Transformers from the 1980s. I’ll remember my son wanting a hat on most of the trip. I’ll remember my daughter being way more excited about the stuffed unicorn she got at a candy store instead of caring about the actual candy we bought. I’ll remember my son already learning to climb up to the top bunk and how my heart skipped a beat when I realized he could as I stood behind him ready to catch him at any moment. I’ll remember the few moments of peace on the dock as the four of us sat together eating ice cream and watching the sun sink lower into the sky. I’ll remember hanging out with my husband watching movies and reading after the kids were fast asleep. I’ll remember the night he got out around 11 p.m. to go find WiFi to download a book for my Kindle.
Of everything, I’ll remember the love and the laughter. We definitely had some cranky moments from all of us. We had a few small challenges here and there, but those are already fading in my memory less than a week after returning. I’m sure there were cranky moments when I was a child as well, but those have also faded.
Along with all of my specific memories, trips to Byrdstown and Dale Hollow leave me with a memory of peace and love. I feel more at peace on the lake than I do anywhere else. I have had moments of struggle and physical pain in my life where I’ve stopped and envisioned being on the lake to soothe my weary soul. All of these feelings and memories are wrapped up in a tiny Tennessee town that feels like a homecoming to me, though I’ve never lived there. I count myself blessed to have fallen in love with this place and even more blessed to be able to continue to share it with the people I love.]]>
As a journalist, one of my favorite things about this country is the whole free speech thing. However, it is sometimes one of my least favorite parts as well just because I get to hear so many opinions and mindless thoughts that would be better off left unsaid many times. Political and religious happenings this week have brought out the best and worst in people. I’ve heard all sorts of opinions and thoughts. I have my own opinions and thoughts, of course, but I don’t feel the need to enter the fray and noise of it all.
So, in honor of free speech, I offer some random thoughts from my head that have nothing to do with pretty much anything. (And, in full disclosure, I’m running low on topic ideas at the moment. So there!)
- I’m still marveling that the boys are 5 today. That’s just not possible.
- I think I’m completely becoming a geek. Last night my husband and I were discussing our upcoming vacation. He mentioned that he’d like to visit a cave in the area sometime. I told him it’d been years since I’d been in a cave and now it would remind me of the Underdark (a complete D&D reference thanks in great part to The Legend of Drizzt series by R.A. Salvatore).
- I have a very long to-do list for today. I’m making a decent dent in it thus far at least.
- I bought a new purse yesterday for the first time in a couple of years. It’s nothing fancy, but I’m quite excited about it. My daughter gave it rave reviews. I like that about her at 4. I know that will change in about 10 years, so I’m enjoying her constant support for now.
- I got my hair cut yesterday. And when I say cut, I really mean trim. I almost never make dramatic hair changes. It freaks me out for some reason. But, I’m happy enough with the trim. And now I need to tweeze my eyebrows a bit since my bangs aren’t covering them so much.
- I need a vacation from getting ready for vacation. And I’m not going to pretend that a vacation is nearly as relaxing now with a 1 and 4-year-old as it used to be before they were born. But, that’s OK, too.
- I am thinking very seriously about having dinner out tonight since we have to get out for a trip to the drug store anyway. I know. Earth shattering information!
- About three weeks ago, I went for the second pedicure I’ve had in my life and got purple sparkly toes. I quite enjoy purple sparkly anything. One of my nine piggies got chipped, though. Unsurprisingly, I had a huge amount of purple nail polish in my drawer to wade through and touch it up. It now looks pretty much like the other nine toes and has bought me some time for redoing them. Sweet!
- I decided not to buy my son a 4th of July shirt this year. My daughter’s from last year still fits her. My son, however, will be patriotic with Spider-man. I mean, superhero red and blue is pretty darn patriotic, right? It is for my family!
- I am perplexed that it is 2014 and no one has come up with a good design for baby bibs to keep them in place and from being pulled off by determined toddlers. I should come up with something and make a fortune. But then again, I’m far from an inventor.
- My husband has a bag of rubber bands. I thought it was party mix and got excited. I may need a life. Or a snack. Or both.
- Sometimes I get an extra five minutes to myself before getting my son up from his nap or for the day simply by turning off the baby monitor. (He’s happy and playing in his crib. I’d be right in there if he were upset.)
- I realized earlier today that I had given my daughter expired children’s Benadryl when she was sick last week. It was only expired by a few months, but I still feel bad about it.
- Speaking of expired, a few years ago I found a container of Parmesan cheese in my parents’ pantry that had expired something like six years before. Evidently once I got married and moved out they didn’t go through very much Parmesan cheese. This is still true and for my birthday in May, my mom sent me home with the small container she’d bought just for my birthday dinner. What’s wrong with those people? Who doesn’t love Parmesan cheese?! I’m happy to report that though my husband doesn’t like it, my daughter has the same affinity for it that I do.
- I think I may talk about food too much when it comes to random thoughts I post on here.
- I’d better stop typing now and go get the boy out of his crib before he tries to jump out of it or something. That kid. He is going to give me a heart attack with all his daredevil attempts!
And thanks to living in the land of the free and the home of the brave, I can share these random thoughts freely without worry. Happy birthday, America, on Friday! I also need to call three little guys so their cousins and I can wish them a happy birthday today!]]>
The good news is that neither kid has been hit super hard with this virus, just enough to make them tired, a bit grumpy and clingy. It could be way worse. However, it’s also highly contagious. Somehow they shared their germs with my mom who hasn’t seen them in more than a week. Fortunately no one else has come down with it. We’re staying in and missing out on a good week of activities to keep our germs to ourselves. Maybe by this weekend we’ll be all clear of contagions. I can’t wait. Sick kids aren’t super fun, but being sick isn’t super fun, so I don’t blame them.
Last evening, though, my son was feeling better but still grumpy. He started getting back into things he hasn’t in weeks, like the dog’s water dish, over and over again. He was climbing on the table. He wanted to simultaneously be in my lap and on the floor. My daughter wanted to play. Her ideas were having me mimic her dance moves. I was tired. It had been a long day. It was the kind of day that lasted longer than my patience. I debated about loading everyone in the car in their pajamas just to go for a ride. I didn’t care where, I just needed to be out of the house and not have someone hanging off of me.
It was also raining. My husband had recently repaired a gutter and went outside to check on it. Lucky duck, I thought. At least he got to get out of the house. (My son might not have been the only grumpy one!) He came back in and said he had something neat to show our daughter. She slipped on shoes with her nightgown. I scooped up the baby and we went out, too. It was raining, but we have a covered patio. The “neat thing” my husband had to show off was an intricate spider web. My son could care less, I didn’t care much and my daughter thought it was pretty cool. However, we were out of the house! We sat on the patio, listening to the rain on the metal roof for a little while. It was the change of scenery that I think we all needed.
Sometimes it’s the simple parts in life that make it so good. I wouldn’t say that this has been an overall great week. It hasn’t be horrible and could definitely have been worse, but it also could certainly have been better. My daughter is missing out on her first experience with Vacation Bible School thanks to being sick. She has literally been counting down the days for a month and was looking forward to having me be with her leading around the preschoolers. I was looking forward to her having fun and learning more about God. She is so very interested in God and Bible stories right now. She has a love for Him that makes my heart burst. I don’t want to quash that. I want to encourage and nurture that. I thought VBS would be one way to do that. However, God had different ideas. And I’d be lying if I said I understood completely or knew what He was thinking. I don’t. In fact, I’ve cried about it this week a couple of times. I’ve prayed about it. In fact, as soon as my son got sick, I prayed that somehow my daughter and I wouldn’t so we could still go. I firmly believe God heard my prayer; He just said no. Sometimes no is a hard answer to hear. I think I’m more disappointed than my daughter is. But, I do know that always God has a plan. I do know that always God is in control. I do trust that I can trust Him even when hardships — whether small or big — don’t make sense.
I’ve learned that lesson time and again even when I doubt. I’ve learned that in living with a chronic illness when I’ve not understood reasons for suffering. I’ve learned that when proverbial doors not only closed on me but slammed shut in my face and smashed some fingers in the process. God doesn’t always make sense. And sometimes in my humanity, I get mad about it. Sometimes I get my feelings hurt. Sometimes I get so frustrated that in trying to do the right thing and making choices God has led me to make that I still can get punched in the face with a hardship. It’s not always fair. But, God never said life would be fair and therein lies the rub. Therein lies the difficulty.
However, I have always learned that even when life doesn’t make sense, God does make sense. I have told my daughter time and again that she doesn’t always need to understand why my husband and I ask her to do something, she just needs to do it because we said so. (Trust me, the girl wants us to explain everything all the time and sometimes she just needs to trust us.) Just like I’d never lead my children astray, just like I have valid reasons for disciplining them when they do something wrong, so does God do the same for me. At the end of the long, hard day even through my hurt, frustration and tears, all I have left (all I really had to begin with) is to trust God and lean fully on Him.
I can look back now other major hardships in my life and see how He worked them for my good. I can look back at other hard times and still not understand them, but I trust that just like I look out for my children, He is looking out for me. My toddler and preschooler can’t understand as much as I do at age 35. I can’t understand as much as God does as the maker of the universe and creator of everything in it. I just have to trust in One Who loves me more than I can fathom.
And so even in small hardships like having temporarily sick kiddos who are missing out on things they were looking forward to, I can trust. I can know that God really does work all things to the good of those who love Him even when little things (and big things!) don’t make sense.
While I wouldn’t mind a bit of a break in the craziness of life this week, I am working to be thankful in all circumstances at all times. Because God really is good all the time.]]>
I read a blog post somewhere recently talking about having a laidback 1970s kind of summer. And that’s sort of what we do around here. It wasn’t just like our summers because it involved things like letting kiddos watch hours of TV on TVLand and one of my kiddos isn’t old enough to watch TV, yet. And it suggested tossing kids outside to stay for the day, and that also doesn’t happen around here for a variety of reasons from age to fair skin to heat. But, the premise was keeping it simple and that’s how we like to live.
So here’s what I’m looking forward to over these next couple of months with minimal activities:
- Time away on vacation with my husband and kiddos. Vacations aren’t the same kind of relaxing now as they were before kids, but they are still relaxing. I’m looking forward to time to just play and hang out with all three of them without chores and obligations getting in the way. We’ll eat good food, hopefully get some naps, visit the beach at the lake, feed some fish, play outside, read books (for the kids and for me!) and end with spending time with extended relatives at my husband’s family reunion.
- Time to hang around our house with the kids and play. Without having to take anyone to preschool, we have more downtime to do this. And, in spite of having done this a lot when I was recovering from surgery and such, it’s nice to do this by choice. We’ll enjoy time in our backyard and play. I’ll let the big kid eat popsicles and the little one have a taste, too.
- A few trips to the local frozen yogurt place where we can top our own yogurt cups and eat outside at the picnic tables if it’s not too hot. Sure we can go when it isn’t summer, but it’s even more fun to go there in warm weather.
- Hitting up the library for story time sometimes and finishing up the kiddos summer reading program. We love to read around here and the kids love to get rewarded for it. There are also some great events the library puts on in conjunction with summer reading that we enjoy. My daughter is especially looking forward to seeing Ronald McDonald’s magic show next week. She loved it last year.
- Going to the annual fairy walk and tea party in our city. My daughter loves dressing up and roaming around looking like a fairy. I even let her wear a bit of makeup to be extra fancy. These events speak to the little girl in me as well.
- Visiting the state fair. We took the big kiddo last year when we got tickets through the summer reading program and will take both kids this year. She loved it and we all had a great time. I look forward to that visit again.
I hope it will be a good summer. We have planned both activities and downtime, which makes for the best kind of summer. It’s good times. And it’s about enjoying our family together.
All of this leads me to my second point of this blog post. I’m looking forward to time with my family over the summer. I’ll still post blogs, but they may not be my regular two a week. And I might even have times I miss an entire week, but I will be around. I’ll try to keep checked in with you on my Facebook page, too. Sometimes, in spite of loving writing my blog, life gets in the way. It’s just what happens. The good news is, though, that if life didn’t happen, I’d have nothing about which to write!
What are you looking forward to this summer? No matter what you have planned (or not planned), I hope you enjoy it and have a good time in warm weather! Check back often and I’ll keep you posted on how our summer is going, too.]]>
As the school year progressed, it was becoming more apparent that shutting down my alma mater was inevitable. And a few months ago the decision became final. I had been invited to participate in events to try and save the school. I didn’t participate. I can’t say that I completely trust the school board in my city to make the best decisions when it comes to education here, but I did understand that money needs to be saved and changes have to occur.
But, then the decision was final. I had a variety of other things going on in my own life that perhaps compounded it, but the school closing bothered me way more than I ever expected. I didn’t think I would care that much, but I found myself tearing up. I found myself feeling a bit nostalgic. I understood the change was necessary. I understood that the community needs most to come together in support of one single high school, but my heart was somewhat broken. I delved deeper into what was going on inside and figured out why this bothered me more than anticipated.
First, this high school has been part of my life since I was a baby — and I mean that quite literally. Both my parents graduated from the school and were high school sweethearts (well, technically their romance started in middle school). When I was a child, high school basketball was what we did for fun. We went to all sorts of the games. We wore our red and white with pride. We resented the other high school in town.
And that brings me to the second point. My entire life this has been a two high school city. This hasn’t always been the case. The school I went to didn’t open until 1962. My aunt, in fact, was a member of the first class to go all the way through the school. (See my roots?) For a brief time there was a third high school, but it didn’t last too long. From the beginning, there was a deep rivalry between the two schools. And by deep, I mean deep. It’s beyond a normal rivalry. For my entire life, my school was the underdog. We were the high school that was deemed to be lower class. It was looked down upon. It wasn’t that. It wasn’t that at all. But, I had quite a number of experiences going to community events representing my school in a variety of ways from academically to musically where I had adults literally stop talking to me once I told them which school I attended. It sounds dramatic, but it’s true. In fact when I asked my high school guidance counselor for an application for a full tuition and room and board academic scholarship application to our university, she gave it to me with a sigh telling me that students from my school didn’t usually get this scholarship. She was very clearly implying I was wasting my time. I got the scholarship in spite of her “encouragement.”
And as a result of the above two reasons, I have also been proud of where I came from. I have never been ashamed to say what school I went to. I have never been ashamed that my school was filled with students who had parents primarily in a blue collar workforce. My dad was among them and spent decades working hard at a factory to provide a great life for our family. I am proud of students I graduated with. Off the top of my head, I can think of a lawyer, a professor and a dentist who were all in my graduating class.
Along with the pride and history I have with the school, I also had a lot of good experiences in high school. I met my husband there my freshman year. Near the end of the year, on my 15th birthday, he asked me to be his girlfriend and I haven’t stopped since. He graduated two years before I did.
I was very involved with school from student government to academic quiz bowl. I participated in marching band in the summer and in concert band all year long. I went to basketball games and football games and played my trombone. I loved it. Band is another component in and of itself. When I graduated from high school, I only felt sentimental cleaning out my band locker. It was a big part of my life.
Knowing all of that history is falling by the wayside makes me sad. I’ve felt frustrated that the school board wouldn’t consider possibly renaming the one remaining high school to avoid adding insult to injury. And then the band came through for me yet again. Band kids are good kids. I am a “fan” of my former high school band on Facebook. A few weeks ago, its logo changed to reflect the new school. The new band name has combined the two band names and made a new name that fits well. The band kids are leading the charge to bring the community together into one. Even before the bell rings in one combined high school next fall, the band kids are coming together this summer as a unified marching band representing our city.
I feel sad to know things that are familiar to me and part of my history will be gone. I feel sad that the school song I can still play on my trombone and sing word-for-word will no longer be used. I’m unsure of what the future will hold for my city and its one high school. I don’t know if in the end this will be a good change and my city will have one really strong high school or if it will flop and the community will balk. I can’t predict the future. I hope that the former happens. I hope in a decade when my 4-year-old is getting ready for high school that if we are still in town the school will be a strong one that I’ll be proud to send her to. We’ll just have to see.
For now, I’m left feeling a bit nostalgic and a bit sad. I’ve found my ways to say good-bye through attending a high school basketball game and then last week attending a ceremony taking down the flag for the final time on the last day of school. Sadly, a part of history is going to be missing in my town. I and so many others are left only with our memories and hope that somehow, in some way our city will find a way to come together as one in spite of a divided past.]]>
But in the midst of that love and laughter, there are struggles. And sometimes we miss connecting the way we used to before we were parents. Neither of us would give up our children for anything in the world. We love them so deeply and profoundly. They have changed us, mostly for the better, in getting us even more out of ourselves. But they also changed us in distracting us from one another sometimes. That’s our reality right now with a 1-year-old and 4-year-old. I’ve been thinking of what I want to make sure my husband knows that I don’t always get a chance or think to tell him.
- You are an awesome dad. There is no one on the face of this planet who is better equipped to be a dad to our children than you. You love them, play with them and provide for them in so many ways that I can’t.
- You think of things I don’t even see that helps our family. You’ve identified issues both of our kids have had before I saw them. You keep me on track in thinking of what we need to do now to prepare them for the future and shape them into great people. You come up with solutions to problems I have that make our life run more smoothly.
- You are still my one and only and always will be. I’m sorry when I don’t always act like it. I’m sorry when I get distracted by our kiddos from showing and telling you how much you mean to me. I’m more in love with you today than I was the day we got married, but I don’t get a chance to show it nearly as often. I wish that was different right now and I’m sorry that it’s not, but I promise you that I know each and every day how blessed I am to share my life with you.
- You are the strong arms of this family. Of course that’s true in the literal sense (thanks for doing the literal heavy lifting!), but it’s true in the emotional sense as well. While God is the center of our family, as He should be, you are the leader of our family in quiet, strong ways. You keep me from sitting on the floor sobbing sometimes. You calm our children when they are upset. I know girls can be crazy emotional and sometimes your daughter and I leave you shaking your head is disbelief, but you still comfort us when we need it.
- You’re so stinking smart. I’ve always thought of myself as a smart person. I did well in school, got two college degrees and all that jazz, but you are just innately smart in so many ways. You see solutions to problems I didn’t even know existed and I respect you and appreciate you for that.
- You keep our house running smoothly. While I may manage the household, you keep the roof over our head from leaking (quite literally a few months ago when you patched part of it) and can do handy things like install ceiling fans, USB outlets and deal with our sometimes wonky plumbing.
- You show up every single day. You don’t have to be here, but you are because you are a good man. I feel blessed that you can work from home often and are glad to do so. I appreciate and love how you see the fleeting nature of childhood and you don’t want to miss any more of our kids’ childhood than you absolutely have to.
- You’re not perfect, but you’re perfect for me. If I’m being completely honest, of course there are times when you drive me a bit crazy. I know without a doubt, I drive you crazy sometimes! But, you are the perfect counterpart to me. I look at you and still see the cute 16-year-old boy I first fell in love with and the now 30-something family man who you’ve become. I see in you my past, my present and my future. I can’t imagine life without you.
And for all of these reasons and so very many more, I say thank you. I thank you, my dear husband. Happy Father’s Day! And I thank You, God. I am blessed. I am so very blessed.]]>