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Archive for July, 2012

I’ve forgotten my stories

In today’s post, Jeff Goins (Goinswriter.com) asks us, “What is your story?”  I stopped and thought,  I used to have the BEST stories.  My friends used to listen to whatever adventure had just occurred in my life, laugh, and say, “You need to write those down!”

I never did.

I was too busy.  Busy – yeah… OK.  At worst, I was married and remodeling a house in my twenties.  I divorced at 29, with no kids but a great cat and a condo.  I had a rather easy, carefree life.  I was missing something, however, and that clock started ticking.  At 36, I married a wonderful guy with two kids, then 5 and 8.  Eleven months later, we added a baby boy to the mix.  Life got crazy.  I sold my condo, and moved in to his “handyman special” he had purchased several years prior to our marriage.  It was a 25 mile commute to daycare, which turned into an hour between the home/daycare/work circuit.  I couldn’t do it.  After two years, we bought a house in town.  Two years later, we still own that first house.  It’s still a “fixer-upper” but luckily, I think we will have it on the market in a year.  I hope.

There are still stories, but they are not nearly as fun as they once were.  I don’t throw clothes in a backpack and take off to parts unknown with a few friends for the weekend.  Concerts?  I think in 2000, I attended ten. I’m fairly certain I went on a five-year hiatus from such events, and am just now catching one a year.   Flights to Florida, England, Vegas, New York, and Yellowstone?  Um, NO.  I don’t get the travel channel on my el cheapo cable option.  Seriously.

I just realized today that I have become a boring, old person.  Just ask my 15 year old.

This sinking feeling fills my stomach, but an anger is starting to rise as well.  “HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?” I silently scream to myself.  This is not who I am!  Why did I let myself become trapped in a cubicle for 9-10 hours a day, only to come home to do more work?  When did the definition of “a good weekend” equate to not leaving the house, no injuries caused by a light saber, and catching up on cleaning and laundry?

I have become old, fat, boring, and I have headaches all of the time.  “Well no duh,” my inner 17 year old yells, “I’d have headaches, too!  You’ve turned into MOM!  You swore that would never happen and now you’ve done it!”  I envision myself at that age, Bon Jovi poster on one wall, Miami Vice poster on another, with Twisted Sister’s “We’re not gonna take it!” blaring in the background.  I look pissed.  I have one hand on my hip, the other pointing at the grown-up me, and those teenage eyes are flashing with anger and betrayal.

Oh shit.  She’s right.  No wonder I have headaches.  It’s not that I have sick family members.  It’s not that I’m trying to be a mom to a 4 year old while trying NOT to be the evil stepmom to a 15 and 13 year old.  It’s not that we own two houses.  It’s not the 50+ hour a week job.  Wait – yeah it might be partly the job.  It’s the cooking and cleaning and everyday life that has taken that wild child, chained her to a wall, and sealed her off, one responsibility after another, brick by brick, until she was gone from view and silenced.

Is this what it means to have a mid-life crisis?  When she somehow gets out?

I know I can’t be 17 again.  Honestly, I don’t want to, but I miss her.  I miss that fierce determination.  I miss that “I answer to myself and God – and everyone else can go to hell” attitude (thank you, Cher).  I miss that “Life is an adventure!” enthusiasm.

It’s easy to have that when somebody else is putting a roof over your head and paying your car insurance.  Life’s biggest challenges were acing the chemistry test and deciding what to do on Saturday night.

So what next?  Label it what you want.  Maybe it is a midlife crisis, but I’m not running to Aruba with the pool boy.  I don’t even have a pool boy.  I’m not looking for one, either.  I think I might get a maid, though.

I’m not going to buy a convertible.  I am about ready to buy a new Toyota Highlander.  I insist on black.  I don’t know why, I just always have.  It will have a jack for my iPhone, so I can play Pandora radio.  I have a Bon Jovi Station.  It keeps that inner 17 year old happy.

She and I will figure it out from there.

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Things I never thought I’d say in church

Do not walk like Yoda

Do not pretend you have a light saber.  No – not even a pretend one. 

Get down from those steps!  You may not jump like Spiderman!  

No, you cannot play the drums on the stage.  Get down!  Right now!  

No, I don’t think Jesus has a light saber.  He really doesn’t need one. 

Yes, God could beat both Spiderman and the Hulk.  At the same time. 

You may not fly down the hallway (arms outstretched, like Superman)

Please do not push people and say “Coming through!”  It’s rude. 

I don’t really think Jesus said, “Don’t color in Sunday school” now did he?  

I understand you like the water fountain, but you may not gargle and spit out the water. 

The G word

The G word

 

Grace.  There, I said it.  I don’t practice it.  I should – if I’m a “good” Christian I should be trying to show grace a lot more than I do.  But people are stupid, and I’m really sick of dealing with stupid people.  Last week, I laid into somebody.  They’d had it coming for at least eight years.  I was done.  There were other people getting hurt, children were getting hurt, and I just let it fly.  Actually, I didn’t let it fly – I thought I held my tongue pretty well for me.  I spoke the truth but it was hurtful.  I was not filled with anger, rage, malice, or spite.  I really wasn’t.  I thought specifically about what I was going to say for at least 30 minutes before calling.  I knew what I wasn’t going to bring up, and I stuck with it.  It was a six minute conversation.  When I was done, I felt great.  I also felt like the person had heard me, really heard me, and would think about what I had said.  

 

WRONG

 

The facebook posts starting flying from my “victim.”  It seems I was now part of the “enemy’s plan” and the devil was on their doorstep.  Hmm….  you put children at risk and this is what I am?  OK.  I’m good with that.  I knew, however, that this would be the “victim’s” excuse to NOT do what was right.  Yep.  Here we go.  Man, I gave her a great excuse:  “I was going to do right by my children but because she was MEAN to me, so now I’m not.”  You GO Victim!  You keep doing (or not doing) what you’ve been doing for a decade.  You are AWESOME. 

 

MEAN.   Seriously?  What kind of adult says that?  “She was mean to me.”  No kidding.  You bet your ASS I was mean to you.  You are a MESS.  I’ll pay for your damn Prozac if you will take it!   You wanna see mean?  LET’S GO. 

 

Oh wait – did I mention something about grace?   Oh crap I did.  What the heck…   Grace?  For HER?   No freaking way.  I’d rather spit on her.  J Oh wait.  Seems like there was this dude on a cross, who got spit on.  Well hell.  Hmm.  I don’t think I want to talk about hell.  

 

Now what?  I don’t know.  There is some satisfaction that while I am not going to get what I want, at least one of the two kids knows this chick is a whack job.  The other one is beginning to see the light.  NO, not by me!  They are just “of the age.”  But back to this grace thing.  I think I’m kinda late.  As this mess unfolds, however, maybe I can bite my tongue for another eight years.  I have to remember she is their mother.  While I stand by my title of “whack job” for her, I also know she is a mess and I need to show a little grace.  

 

I’m going for one year.  You know I have a countdown on my phone for this, right?  There’s an app for that!  One day at a time, baby, one day at a time.  I hope I have the grace to restart it on day 364.  

Wrecked – track marks at a baby shower

I’ll warn you now, this is not one of my crazy posts about my kids.

I’ve been following Jeff Goins the writer for just a bit now, and he’s writing this amazing book, “Wrecked” (check out this link: http://wreckedthebook.com/buy/). He asked us how we’ve been wrecked, and if we’d share our story. I thought I’d share mine here as well:

Track marks. I remember watching the new mom, holding twins and smiling amid a sea of presents. I saw scars on her arms, and as my mind processed what could have caused such scars, I realized they were track marks. “I’m looking at track marks at a baby shower,” I thought, with shock. I realized they were old, and my shock subsided a bit. I remembered where I was and why I was here. My friend had started a ministry at her church, to hold baby showers for women that were not having one. Simple premise: if you are pregnant and not having a shower, we’ll throw one for you. This was her second shower. I had not known about the first, but she had talked about it at work, and here I was. What better way to show the love of Jesus than to hold showers for women who weren’t going to have one? It’s a couple of hours on a Saturday, maybe three if I help set up or clean up, and twenty bucks for a present. Easy.

I didn’t expect track marks.

When my friend was recovering from a critical illness, I ran the program for several months and held four showers. By this time, we had partnered with a crisis pregnancy center and a crisis hotline. When the director of the center called, she had a special case for us. Did I think I could help out?

I didn’t expect a rape victim.

Nine years after that first shower, we have hosted dozens more. Some showers are simply for people that didn’t have a place to hold one: they bring their own guests, cake, food, and presents. We just have the space needed. Others are for women who have no one. Sometimes they can’t even get a ride, so we pick them up and take them home. I’d like to say these stories all have happy endings but they don’t. We have a few women who have become great mentors to other mothers, who show up at these showers, like the ones given for them, with presents and snacks, and really connect with these new moms. Some just drift away, and we don’t know what happens. Some end up in the arrest blotter of the paper. Sometimes, these babies die.

Ripped apart. Broken. Wrecked. That’s how I still feel sometimes, after one of these showers or an update on one of the moms. “How can this happen? How can YOU let this happen?” I scream at a God who feels my pain but doesn’t give me the answers I want. I am reminded that I cannot save the world. God can but we must choose to be saved. For those who choose that road, there is still pain until we get there. My anger turns to a deep sorrow and then to some form of acceptance. I can’t say it’s a happy emotion, but this is something I have to do. I turn my thoughts to the next shower.

Discrimination in preschool

“Mom, I need to talk to you about something,” my 4-year old said. Uh oh. This is NEVER good. Never ever. “Sure, what’s up?” I asked. “I don’t think some of my friends like you,” he explained, “and I think they won’t be my friend because they don’t like you. Because you are different.” Hmm – OK this one has me stumped. Nothing is entering my mind. All the general reasons for discrimination are running through my mind: I’m white, I’m straight, I’m married, I dress decently but not overly high-end…. Oh wait – I am probably 15-20 pounds over my ideal weight. I gear up mentally to deal with this, as I ask, “How am I different?” He takes a deep breath, looks me right in the eye, and says, “You have curly hair, and I don’t think my friends will like you because your hair is different.”

REALLY? I immediately think of two other mothers who have hair that is curlier hair than mine.

It was so hard not to laugh. I mentioned the two other moms that have curly hair. He looks at me like I am the dumbest person in the world, and he really doesn’t have time to explain this – he is playing with his new Star Wars light saber, after all. “MOM,” he says, full of exasperation, “their hair is BROWN.” I’m a blonde.

Oh – well THAT clears up everything!!!

We spent some time talking about how people have different hair: different colors, different lengths, etc. It was actually a great way to talk about differences and why we shouldn’t judge people on physical traits. He still isn’t sure that his friends will like him because of his mother’s hair, but he’s OK with that. Let’s hope I can continue that throughout his life, with other more critical issues.

And life goes on…

Fireworks, tresspassors, and pirate ladies

This year, personal fireworks usage was banned in our county, due to drought conditions. The city, however, was allowed to continue their tradition with a lovely show that takes place over a large river. My husband thought it would be a good idea to watch from a nearby parking garage, on the other side of the river, to avoid traffic. The show wasn’t going to start until 10pm, and that is very, very late for our 4 year old.

We packed a few things and headed to the garage, a few miles from our house. We arrived about 20 minutes before the show was to begin, and there were just a handful of other cars (SCORE- we gotta remember this next year). As we got out of the SUV and opened the back, which was going to be our seating area, my husband noticed somebody on top of the stairwell, by the fans. This is all encased and locked, meaning the person had to scale the fire escape and climb over a locked gate, assuming they did not have a key. We are talking 6-7 stories above ground. As my husband works for the university which owns this parking garage, and after some very unfortunate incidents with students where they don’t belong in recent years, he decided to call it in – that is, until he saw his buddy, a police officer, there as a spectator. His buddy called it in, and the K9 unit showed up. They made the guy come down, searched him, and off he went. Nothing too spectacular, but interesting none the less.

While we are watching this event unfold, one of our “neighbors” for the evening was chatting with me. We wandered over to the edge of the garage to get our bearings and to figure out exactly where the fireworks will be launched. I came back to the SUV, and my two boys were lounging in the back. The four-year-old says, “Who was that pirate lady you were talking to?” You see, my new friend was wearing a bandana around her head. Our oldest just laid down in the back and laughed. Later, he asked, can we have any kind of family outing without some kind of event happening? I looked at his dad and brother and said, “Not with those two.”

The day my son met “God”

About a month ago, my paternal grandfather died.  We headed up north, with all three kids in tow.  As we were seated for the funeral, my 4 year old (who was on my lap) was very agitated.   I wasn’t paying a lot of attention, as I was trying to focus on what I was going to say, when it was my turn to go up.  Finally, I whispered, “What is WRONG?!”  He looked very upset and concerned.  He pointed to the corner, where my cousin Paul was sitting.   Paul is a priest.  At our church, our minister is very informal and does not wear a collar.  Paul, of course, was dressed all in black, his white collar very prominant.  I think, OK, here comes a question about clothes or something.  I realized I also had not introduced my son to Paul, so he probably didn’t know who he was. 

Colin slowly takes his eyes off of Paul, looks and me, and says, “Is that GOD sitting in the corner?”  It was so hard not to laugh.

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