Fair

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of my brother’s death.

I thought about keeping quiet on the topic. I didn’t want to be maudlin, or moody (moreso than normal) or you know, all sad and stuff…  Because, as you know, my normal gig doesn’t really go in that direction. My normal gig is episodes about Escape from the Planet of the Toddlers shenanigans. And I like it that way.

The shenanigans are no longer a mask. They used to be, kind of. A few years back my fall back behavior was frazzled hilarity, and underneath I was a big soaking mess of despair and addiction.

So off the mask came and thus, every once in a while, I post Sad and Thoughtful Things.

I would give almost anything to hear my brother answer the phone at Dad’s work, like he used to do, and how he would then slip into some sort of sarcastic schpeel as soon as he realized it was his little sister.

Anything. Anything. I miss him so much.

Well, not anything.

I won’t give him my life. He gave up on his. I won’t.

I won’t give up my marriage. My children.  He was divorced. He had no children. I won’t give up mine.

I won’t drink today. He drank every damn day. I won’t. I won’t give in to that.

That, I am sure, is how Chris would want it.

 

God is bigger than all of this. And I am so glad. Because I’m not. I don’t understand it or like it at all. There are many, MANY days when a nice, cold glass of wine at the end of a long day sounds SO nice, and sometimes, it all seems just so unfair.

Maybe so. I think I kind of used up my fairness card a long time ago. And God loves me like crazy, even though I am a tangled mess. And THAT, I am pretty sure, is not fair at all, to Him.

He doesn’t mind.

 

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The Dreaded Think, Pair, Share

 

Linking up with Heading Home today for Five Minute Friday.

Today’s word:

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When I was in the classroom, I used to inflict my students with this activity:

“Ok, folks, I would like for you to read the following paragraph, and then (wait for it…) Let’s do a Think, Pair, Share!”

The children would groan. Well, they were too kind to groan out loud. No, they would stuff those groans inside and then slump over with silent, overflowing groaning in mime, as they read and prepared themselves to share.

Think, Pair, Share had good intentions, ya’ll. It really did. The concept was solid – think over something, share your thoughts with another, this allows you to Stop, Collaborate, and Listen, which only then leads us to start nodding our heads along with Vanilla Ice’s horrible riff on Queen, and from there?

Oh, I don’t know. I have totally lost my train of thought here. Probably too much sharing, in that I just revealed to you that I do have the lyrics to “Ice, Ice Baby” still in my head, packed in with too much coffee this morning.

Anyhow.

Think, Pair, Share. It’s not the Thinking or the Pairing that was the issue. It was trying to come up with something somewhat intelligent and inspiring to SAY. Forced SAYING of things does not go well. I, of course, was looking for depth, insight, that moment of zen when a student says, “I feel that Scout had a deep sense of reverence for her father all throughout the book, but it wasn’t until his final speech at the courtroom that she was able to realize it.” Instead, I get this: “I don’t get this book. I read the whole thing. We’re in the last chapter. When is someone gonna kill the mockingbird?” *

I am sharing all this with you to tell you this:

I am not really into sharing. I do like to talk, a lot, about myself. It’s my favorite subject, really. I love to chatter on, witty and all, about my sons trying out their wrestling moves on Steve the Cat.

But sharing is hard. Sharing means vulnerability. Sharing means… I might show someone that I’m not large, in charge, and totally in control. Because, really? I am so not in control. Of anything.

And when I had kids? This takes this sharing thing OFF the CHARTS. Because, if you don’t learn to talk and lean on your girlfriends a bit, after a day of being surrounded by little mouth breathers who have made it their mission in life to MISS the toilet seat as artistically as possible, you will lose your mind. And then, there won’t be any mind to share at all.

Just a tired out, blob of a mom.

When Blonde was first born, I morphed into that blobby mom. I don’t really know how or why… (well, I do know some of it – I was totally post partumming all over the place, and was also looking into the abyss of a very real addiction to alcohol, so it’s NO wonder I got a bit wonky)… and I got so isolated and alone that I actually started to feel like I wanted it that way.

One time, I saw a neighbor friend coming up the front walk, and I so did not want to TALK to anyone, that I actually dropped to the ground to avoid her seeing me through our wide picture window. I know. Nutball. (No, I will NOT divulge who the neighbor friend was. And YES, I will agree, my behavior was a bit silly. But, I’m SHARING, here. Don’t judge. Or, judge, but just don’t message me about it.)

As I was lying there on my carpet, staring at all the mating dust bunnies under my couch, I wondered, “Hm. This is a bit over the top, even for you. Perhaps, you have issues?”

I learned to get out. To see people. To talk a bit. And then, it took me about FIVE years to get sort of comfortable with the concept of sharing. REALLY sharing.

I’m still working on it.

But if we don’t learn to lean on each other, and share the load? Then, we’re all alone, stuck with a big stick, and no one to help us carry it.

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“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
― Mother Teresa

* This is a true story. My student was an avid hunter. He was not an avid reader. The ONLY thing that kept him engaged in this classic was the hoped for hunting scene and that oh-so suspenseful demise of the mockingbird. Poor kid.

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Furry Friends, My Marriage, and Netflix Streamteam

 

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I would like to thank Netflix for the wonderfulness of my marriage. (I was going to say, “…for saving my marriage” but that’s not even slightly true as our marriage status is always at, say, a 7.5 on a scale of 1-10. I am only including this disclaimer because my mother reads my posts and she’ll be calling me later if there is a whiff of trouble brewing. WE’RE FINE, MOM.)

Anyhow.

My POINT is that Netflix has added much FLAIR to an already very happy and content marriage. And by FLAIR, I mean,

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ALL HAIL KING JULIEN!!!

Ok, now before you get any weird ideas, let me explain.

(The lawyer has once again interjected that NO one HAD any weird ideas until I mentioned them. That, perhaps, I am the only one WITH weird ideas. I asked him to leave.)

Friday night at our house is pizza and movie night. We make pizza with teensy bits of green stuff in the sauce (VICTORY) and then we watch some mind numbing movie with Thomas the Incapable, or Christian Vegetables, or some such (FAILURE).  So I sit, eat my pizza, knit, fold laundry, multitask out the wazoo (painful) in some way, and the babies zone out in that toddler way while Thomas yet again proves that he is a bit of a loser who never listens, and he so needs to be scrapped.

Lately? I have found myself a bit… bored. I’m tired of laundry. I’m tired of knitting. And we have watched EVERY Veggie Tales movie in our cue – we need something NEW, ya’ll. Don’t get me wrong; I love vegetables who want to teach us about Jesus. I really do. But I know all the lines. ALL of ‘em.

We need something new.

And in pranced King Julien! Thank you, little furry lemur guy with the funky accent! First of all, you SAVED our New Years Eve with the King Julien countdown (BRILLIANT, NETFLIX) so we got to take the babies upstairs at nine pm and call it a New Year (although, I know, Blonde did smell a rat on this one and kept pointing out “dat it’s NOT midnight! WHY are we going to bed and IT’S NOT MIDNIGHT, MOMMY?”   I answered him, “Because it’s against the law for six year olds to stay up past ten. If you stay up past ten, a police officer will come and knock on the door and interrogate you. Which hurts a bit.” This caused him to blink at me, but since he will be studying for the bar soon, he decided to not argue with the law.)

I do realize that flat out lying to my children has a statute of limitations. It’s a risky move. But I will go there. There was chocolate pie (the non sharing kind) to be eaten, and a movie to watch, and cuddles with the hubs – so I lied. You don’t know my life.

King Julien has enough sass to actually make me stop multitasking for a few minutes and WATCH. And for that, I thank you, Netflix.

Because here’s what happens when I multitask:

1. My brain gets tired. Tired brain = Brain wants bed.

2. Hubs ends up watching ESPN by himself. Nothing good can come from that.

3. Another opportunity for meaningful communication over which movie to choose, or at least a decent foot rub, is lost.

4. Our marriage stays at the 7.5 rating, instead of a solid 8, where it should be.*

 

So now? Movie night is SAVED! Hurrah!

And also, this happened:

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Don’t be distracted by the demon cat with glowing eyes behind me. He’s just jealous because I received my Official Adventures of Puss In Boots Netflix Calender. THESE ARE THE REASONS I BLOG, PEOPLE. SWAGGGGGG.

I am not sharing this little gem. It’s going in MY office, where I can stare at Boots’ furry cuteness and try to stay organized at the same time.

So, I am grateful, Netflix, for my 7.5 of my marriage AND that I can keep track of my appointments and meetings (for the most part because a lot of times I don’t look at calendars. I know. They’re supposed to be helpful tools. Calenders are hard.)

Thanks, Netflix!

 

*Why, you ask, only an 8? Why not, say, a 9? Or, even a 9.5?

Well. A few reasons.

1. I married an engineer. Engineers are rather, uh, shall we say, Spock-ish.

2. I am not Spock-ish. I am loosey goosey. Artsy Fartsy. Feely Weely.

3. That whole “Marriage is not all about you; it’s a refinement; learn to forgive; sacrifice; blah diddly blah blah blah” stuff they talk about in all those marriage books and the bible? Yep. Alas. True.

So, marriage is the cheap toilet paper of life, at times. But for us? only 2% of the time.

LOOK I DID MATH! Maybe I am rather Spocky after all.

 

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And, did you know? Netflix also carries ALL of the Star Trek episodes. All of ‘em. I should know.

Because: Marriage = Big Fat Sacrifices. Blah blah blah.

 

Conversations with Toddlers. Or: Who Really Needs Alcohol Anymore When You Get to Listen to These Two All Day?

In the car. Red and Blonde are discussing their day.

Red starts:

Well, once I got pushted down.

Weally? Who?

Me.

No. (Long pause. There was a possibility that Momsie turned left and Blonde, the litigious one, didn’t hear the blinker, so the POLICE WERE GOING TO COME AND GET ME MOMMAH, DA BLINKER!) But then:

No. Who pushted you down? (Amazing, really, that we still we able to stay with the pushing. Usually the blinker deal would have blown all possibility for details right outta there, and we would have moved on to a Momsie Has Failed theme.)

Jason. He pushted me and I went FELLING through da air.

Yep.

Landed fwat on mt back.

Yep.

Yep. But, it was a bouncy house, so you know. I bounced.

YOU WERE AT A BOUNCY HOUSE? WITH JASON?

Who’s Jason?

 

It is remarkable that I remembered all of this to tell you. Sometimes I try to write it down while driving but then, I might have forgotten a blinker and then I would have ended up on an episode of Cops.

You’re welcome. You may now go on about your day.

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The Funny Thing About Depression

 

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My friend Bethany would ask: “Uh.. funny, ‘Ha, ha’? or funny, strange?”

Well, both. At times. Or neither. You know, just to be clear.

 

Since Christmas, I have had a slow fade back into depression. This is something I have struggled with, off and on, since my teens, so, if you know how old I am, that’s a very long time.

And, well, I woke up yesterday to that once again sinking feeling of dread that seems to wrap itself around my brain in a vice grip of fuzzy thinking and gloom. I just laid there, staring up at the ceiling fan.

“Please, Lord. I can’t do another day like this. I’m tired of trying to feel better.”

Later that day, after I had gone through all my usual list of go-tos for depression squelching:

Praying – but not too much because I get all super focused on meeeee, so:

Praying for others

Gratitude lists

Chocolate for breakfast

Yoga

Good Housekeeping. Netflix. Couch. Rinse. Repeat.

Knitting.

Lipstick. Bright red. Goes well with my eyes.

Hot tea, like every flavor, about forty cups, until I was sloshing

 

I just sloshed over to my computer and knew I needed to post, but darn, it was hard to be funny. It’s really hard to be funny when you’re doomed forever, did you know that?

But then I thought, “Well, you could write about it.”

Ok. So here’s the deal. I am going to write about depression. Yea! And it won’t be hilarious, but at least it will be truth. And, here’s the other part: I am writing about this topic NOT because I am hoping it will make me feel better.

That’s the deal with depression. You have to stop wanting to “fix” it with one easy step. So, posting this is not going to solve it. Just like drinking a small bath tub of soothing camomile tea and listening to Praise Baby Pandora (don’t judge, I like it), and eating chocolate muffin in a mug for breakfast won’t fix it.

Depression doesn’t just kick off one day and say, “Oh hey! My bad! I know I have totally worn out my welcome, or wasn’t really welcomed at all, so I’ll be off.  Thanks for the hospitality. I’m going to move in with the neighbor lady down the street for a few months and see what dread I can inflict on her there.”

Nope. Depression doesn’t follow basic rules of civility. It doesn’t play well with others. It has no set goals or mission statements or any sort of POINT, a lot of times. It couldn’t tell you at all how it sees itself a year from now. It doesn’t really care.

You can try to figure it out – is it hormones? Or bad memories? Or that I can’t drink anymore? Or that I am slowly going crazy?

No. And yes. And maybe all of these, combined, in different amounts. But sometimes. Sort of.

So, you see?

Depression is such a pain in the ass.

(I am SORRY. I know. I rarely use the potty words here. But this time? IT IS SO MERITED.)

Here’s what I DO know about depression (for me):

1. It makes me immobile.

2. It makes me want to cry a lot, which is kind of weird, like when you’re at Scott’s and they are out of your favorite hazelnut creamer and you tear up like one of those sad soap opera women but with less makeup.

3. It makes me feel like having very basic conversations like this: “Hi! How are you? Isn’t it a pretty day?” is about as impossible as if you were in one of those bad dreams where you had to speak Swahili, while naked, in front of an audience of angry people.

4. It is really good at convincing you that you will never, ever feel better.

 

Here’s what I don’t know about depression:

1. Why?

2. When?

3. What the what?

4. HOW?

 

I have tried. I have read books, gone to counselors, researched, asked questions, got my hormones read, got my palm read (not really but I considered it), and basically busted my hiney trying to lick this thing.

And here is what I have deduced, after all these years:

Sometimes it’s hormonal. It helps me a lot to keep track of my monthly, you know, visits from Auntie Flo (so trying to be delicate here, right? Because calling it Aunt Flo is sooooo cute too). I put a cute little  Satan emoji on my google calendar whenever that fabulousness hits my uterus.

Sometimes it’s attached to bad stuff. When my brother died, I kinda walked into a pit of despair for some months. Of course. Eventually, I escaped. And for that I am sure Chris would be happy.

Sometimes it is attached to my recovery. If I haven’t been to a meeting in ages, or I am triggered, or I see one of those beer commercials on tv during a Chiefs game and then, “Lookit! All THOSE people are drinking a lot and they are all so HAPPY! And cutely DRESSED. And they keep high-fiving each other!  I wanna wear sparkly tops and high-five people in a bar too!”

Anyhow.

And sometimes? I have no idea. I have no freaking clue. It’s like the weather in Kansas. We can try to predict, but sometimes? Our weather just be nutball, ya’ll.

No, I am not saying I am nutball. (The lawyer just rolled his eyes.)

For those of you who are going to worry:

Yes, I have counseling in place and yes doctors and yes even a serotonin med, and yes, my sweet Lord has helped me with this all my life – He’s not going to stop. And neither am I.

I’m not going to stop trying to feel better. But on the days when I feel like crap, I at least pray:
Dear Jesus. Lord with me. If I have to feel lousy today, fine. I will put my tools in place. I’ll do the next best thing. But I am so glad, even in my sadness, that You are here to be sad with me. You get sadness, I know.”

And, the funny thing is? Depression has taught me more about happiness and contentment than I ever thought possible.

 

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Let That Be a Lesson To You

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Criminal A and B.

 

 

Every Wednesday night my church has a great event called His Kids, where seven million children alight upon our little brick church and play, eat, run about, and learn about Jesus.

Ok, not seven million. But it’s a lot.

My children, when they were small and adorable, used to call Wednesday His Kids, “Biscuits!!  It’sa da Biscuits night!” This would become even more compounded in meaning if the church meal there WAS actually biscuits and gravy, and my poor boys were swimming in biscuits all over da place.

This was so cute that I never actually corrected it, and to this day my children seem to link church going to flaky baked goods with honey.

There are worse things.

Last Wednesday night, His Kids was wrapping up, and I was attempting to get two boys in coats and boots and out the door before we hit the dreaded It’s Way Past Your Bedtime, and Your Mom Gets Grumpy deadline.

As I headed out the the car, I spotted them, running way ahead, down the sidewalk, to the car, past the car, and they Just. Kept. Going.

Let’s just say that right then is when I passed the Grumpy deadline. Inside, I had warned them, quite calmly, with a lovely and firm but soothing Mom voice: “Boys, head straight to the car. It’s Way Past Your Bedtime. If you stay up much longer you implode with exhaustion and hyperactivity with help from all those Starbursts you ate after diner.  And I am feeling a grump coming on… it’s a small tickle in the back of my throat, so we best get home. Now.”

As I watched them run past the car with only the roadrunner glee that a four and a six year old can, I thought,

“Humph. They are going to learn a lesson.”

So, I got in my car and drove away.

Now, before you start trying to figure out how to call the cops on a mom blogger, just know this: I didn’t LEAVE-leave… I slipped around the back, silent and stealthy as an unmarked vehicle, and pulled in the side. I sat there for about thirty seconds, giving Red and Blonde just long enough to realize I was gone, and then tears and repentance and all that.

I peered around, to the front of the church, looking for two very sad and sorrowful boys who will never, ever disobey again, like ever.

Instead, I saw two small boys who were sprinting like mini Usain Bolts, and they had a three block head start on me. They were going home. By themselves. At eight o’clock at night.

And, then, I spotted it: They were gleeful.

I was told later that at least two members of my church reported back that “Red and Blonde are out running down Lincoln street! Danger! Danger! And, WHERE IS THEIR MOTHERRRRRR??”

I followed them. I kept praying, “Lord, sometime along the way, could some sort of freaking out occur? Could they get cold or get attacked by a stray cat or something.” I sighed. “Somehow, please, could this whole thing not turn out to be an awesome field trip of wonderfulness? Could we have some misery at some point? Please, Lord?”

Nope. They were absolutely thrilled. When I finally pulled in and revealed my cover – Blonde ran to me, cheeks all red and eyes twinkling,

“Mom! Hey, where were you? We started home acuz you left and we ARE ALMOST THERE and I watched at each stweet and lookits both ways! I was very careful!”

Red interjected with a small jazzstep and some “vroom vroom” noises, and then shouted, “DIS. IS. SO. AWESOME!”

I had prepared a long speech for them. I opened my mouth. I shut it. And then I growled, “Your father will talk to you about this when we get home.”

“Okay! But… canna we walk the rest of the way? Dis is fun!”

Well. Let that be a lesson to you.

 

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You’re Welcome

Linking up today with Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300

 

I give you…

The suspect:

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And… the merchandise in question:Screenshot 2015-01-09 08.32.58

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, the Accomplice:photo 1(Well, not really, but he looked cute in this picture, so I included him.)

 

Red recently had a major meltdown because I wouldn’t let him have a candy necklace for breakfast. Red is usually quite an affable fellow, sweet-natured, kind, loves to give kisses, throws his arms around me and tells me he wuvs me, oh heck I just don’t even know, his adorableness has just kinda has paved the way for him in life so far…

Except when it came to the Battle of the Candy Necklace. Which lasted: All. Morning. Long.

I don’t really know why he decided this necklace was the Holy Grail, but he did, and I spent an entire morning with a nutball kid who was jonesing for some sugar and string and my GOSH it kind of blew my morning right outta there.

After a long morning of epic, Days of Our Lives, mascara running drama and pathos, he finally decided he was through and wanted some oatmeal.

The kid came downstairs from his room at 8:37, all swollen and snotty, sauntered into the kitchen and said, “I’m done fussing. I was sad but I am done now.” I eyed him over my eleventh cup of coffee and wondered, Can I go take a timeout in my room now? Maybe I could stay up there long enough to read a magazine and catch a nap? I could really use a nap.

I gave him oatmeal and decided to actually heat it up again, as opposed to the cold gruel (or not gruel at all) I was considering for him. I know. This is not the right thing. The right thing would have been no breakfast, or perhaps bread and water and some shackles, but I was weak. The sobbing. Please. No more of the sobbing.

I spooned it up for him, and he took a long shuddering breath, and I said, “Well, thanks Red for getting over your fuss.”

He looked at me. “You’re welcome, mommah.”

Later that day, I relayed this story to some friends of mine. We moms do this all the time. Or at least I do. I share stories and I hope, maybe, that the sharing will maybe smooth over the deep down fear that I am doing this all wrong and my children are going to end up on one of those posters you see at the post office.

And you know? They laughed, and they got me to laugh. And we shared some similar stories. And I sighed a little and felt a small bubble of grace leave its comfort in my soul.

My mom friends get me, and we are welcome to share, and sigh, and even cry with each other.

Or laugh. We laugh a lot.

We are welcome to come over for coffee and sit in our frazzled state and yoga pants, as our children crawl over us, and share our horror stories, or the cuteness, or even the sadness that we are going through. We are welcome to share even when we are so not sure that all this parenting stuff is even POSSIBLE for us – it is just so hard sometimes…

We welcome each other with open arms and lots of hugs, and one friend gives me copious amounts of coffee and lets me in on a big secret: Welcome to Motherhood. It’s not for the faint of heart.

Good thing we don’t have to do it alone.

I tell my friend, as she hands me yet another cup of piping hot coffee with hazlenut creamer, “Thank you.”

She smiles, and says, “You’re welcome.”