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Going Home

home

Flights are booked!  I have been absolutely giddy the past few days now that are family trip is coming together.  It’s crazy to think that in just a few months I will be on a plane traveling to where I was born. It’s funny, I always consider it as “going home”, but when I am on my way back here, I also say I am on my “way home”.  I saw the quote I pictured above and it hit me how true this rings for me.  On one hand, it is hard to have all the people I love scattered around the world, but on the other hand, I am so very, very lucky to have those same people always there to welcome me “home”.

Home is where my house is, a house filled with mess and chaos, but also giggles, laughter, cuddles and intense love.  It is where my amazing husband and children are.  It is the bed I sleep in with my beloved dog snoring next to me in his bed on the floor.  It is where my cat lays sprawled in the sun.  It is the place where laundry gets away from me, and I grumble about the mess, but am grateful for a roof over my head.  It is where my local coffee place makes my coffee perfectly.  Home is running kids to gymnastics and sports, school, and for ice cream.  It is where I know I am loved and cherished.

Home is also about 300 miles away, where my dad and stepmother are.  Home is where I can go when I need to have downtime, to see them, and where I am told no problem is too big in life.  Home is seeing my first hero, who knows me and knew my mom better than anyone else.  Home is being spoiled a little bit as only a parent can, but also told when I need to get my act together, like only a parent can.  Home is their house on the lake, where I can go sit on their boat and drink coffee and have quiet time.  Home is fishing with the kids, going to the farmer’s market by boat, and eating fantastic food.

Home is the house about 5 minutes away from my dad’s house. We don’t own it anymore, and I struggle to visit it, because it holds so many memories, but I drive by anyway because it’s home.  Home is a house you don’t even live in anymore, but it contains the memories of the last time I saw my mom, memories of her before she got sick, and laughter…lots and lots of laughter.  It’s the place where my mom buried my cat Sam in the yard under the shady trees when I was too crushed to do it.  Home is where I spent time growing up.

Home is 3000 miles away, where most of my family still live.  It is where I was born.  Home is hearing “ey up mi duck” and feeling comforted. It is Flake 99, brilliant colored landscapes, and remembering that time when I attended school there and got chastised for not putting a “u” in the word color.  Home is sitting around the table with my aunt and uncle, nights at the pub laughing with cousins, who are the closest I have to siblings.  Home is where people know where you come from, know who you were before life took over, and who know all the family stories.  Home is where my cousin is, who flew across the world to stand by me when my father remarried because there was “no way I’ll have you do that without family there to support you”. Home is trecking across the emerald colored fields, with dogs at your side and wellies on.  Home is seeing a castle out the window.  It is the news shop that has been around since before I was born, where I got candy and bought magazines as a kid.  Home is going to the cemetery to sit by my mom’s grave and tell her all the news.  Home is seeing that orange monarch butterfly landing on my grandfather’s grave after telling him to “look after mum” after she passed away.  Home is having your mom’s cousins show up at the pub to surprise you, making you feel really special. Home is trying to get used to grandparents and older generation starting to pass away and feeling a bit lost now that they are gone.  Home is love. Home is various homes belonging to family members.   Home is the farm house I grew up in, no longer in the family, but that the current owners let me come visit.   It is the memories, the love and the fact even though I only get there once every couple of years that I’m stepping right in where we left off.

While I am not a religious person, home is also this church:

Melbourne_Church

 

This church, with it’s arches, columns, worn stone steps from centuries of use, and heavy wooden door, is a different type of home.  This is where my parents were married.  Decades later, on the same weekend, it is also the church where I got married.  It is where I was Christened, where family members have been married, babies Christened, and walks were taken. It is the keeper of many memories.  I still, after all these years, feel a sense of awe when I step through it’s doors.  I still remember midnight masses held there.  I remember the crunch of the tiny pebbles outside under my feet as we stood waiting for family brides and grooms to step out into the sun.  I remember my grandmother looking a bit like the Queen of England at my wedding, while she stood with my son.

Home is also the places we’ve traveled over the years where amazing memories have been created.  Home is Heinz field in Pittsburgh, where my husband and I take an annual trek to watch our favorite team play.  Home is the Red Parrot in Newport RI, where we head every year for an amazing meal with family (and where we ate on our honeymoon!).

Home is where the love is, where the memories are, where the people who make life special are.  I consider myself very lucky to always feel a sense of coming home, no matter where I go.  Of course, I always feel like a piece of me is elsewhere, and that is a bit difficult at times.  I am sad I don’t get to see my family overseas as much as I would like.  I am sad I am missing my cousin’s kids grow up.  I wish I was there more.  Hopefully, with planning and effort, I can travel there more in the future than I have been.

I can’t wait to go home…..and then, come home.

 

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Looking Forward

They say a key to happiness is to have things in the future to look forward to.  It’s been a tough summer watching everyone on exciting vacations and with amazing experiences.  Know where I went to this summer?  Work.  I went to work, y’all.  And while I love what I do, it’s not a trip to an exotic location, you know?  What it is, however, is a means to an end, and that end is vacation.  I’ve kept relatively quiet about it.  There are seldom more obnoxious folks than those who tell you about their upcoming vacation at every twist and turn. (Honestly, nobody really cares where anyone is going on vacation, and frankly, if you’re constantly posting about it on social media, you’re asking to get your house broken into).   So, I’ve held relatively quiet about it, but as the time approaches, I must admit I’m getting more than a little excited.  We’re taking a family vacation to see folks we haven’t seen in a while, do things we can’t do at home, and attend a big celebration.  There will be running around, relaxing, and long walks in the countryside.  All things to be happy and looking forward to, for sure.  Best of all, we’re doing it all as a family.

Aside from my glee for that trip, I am also squeaking in a weekend at the lake, so I’m absolutely joyous about that as well.  I don’t even care that it will be a short trip.  A trip is a trip, and memories are to be made.  Then there is another trip planned out of state to attend a huge fair we go to each year. My new goal is less stuff, more travel!   Heck, I’ll sell some of the stuff to get out of town for a weekend!

As a kid, I got to travel quite a bit.  I’ve been up and down the east coast, out to Mexico, the Caribbean, Bermuda, England, and other places as well.  Travel had a big part in shaping who I am.  Travel really is the best teacher, and I am so grateful my parents were able to give me those experiences.  I look back and have memories of each trip.  I don’t remember all the toys they bought me, all the treats purchased over the years, but I do remember those trips.  I remember seeing things I’d never seen at home, tasting new foods, seeing picturesque beaches and tiny tin shacks that people called home.  I certainly remember getting sun stroke, burning my eyelids shut, and other mishaps.  I remember parasailing, and how close my feet looked compared to how far away the water was.  I remember the excitement every time I stepped off a plane into a new place.

I’m in a different financial place than my parents were, and travel with 2 kids in today’s society is a lot compared to what it was years ago.  That being said, I’m making efforts to taking my kids on trips.  Even if that trip is on the other side of the state for an overnight, or a quick trip to visit my dad several states away, we go.  We did Disney one year. (That was a hefty trip to fund, mind you). Every time we travel somewhere, I’m reminded how much I love it.  I’m reminded when we are on a car trip and the kids start reminiscing about prior trips we’ve taken.  I’m always amazed at how clear their memories are of the trips they have taken, and their experiences on each one.  They remember tiny details that even I have forgotten.

One year, my goal is to take them to England for an English Christmas.  I want them to experience the same magic I did as a kid over there.  I can’t explain it, it’s just a different vibe and feeling over there at the holidays.  It’ll be no easy task, getting gifts etc over there, but just once, I’d like them to have the same experiences I did as a kid.  We’ll have to see if it’s feasible in the future.  I also want to get my son to his first NFL game.  I want to take my kids to new cities, new towns, and let them soak up the sights around them.

It’s been a relatively calm summer.  At least, it’s felt calmer.  Outside of the normal 2 months of chaos, we slid into August quietly.  Some of that may be due to the fact I made some life changes to calm things down.  There comes a point where you have to cut back on the chaos, and I had to go through, see what was causing me stress, and cut it.  As soon as I made the changes, I felt calmer and ready to head into the end of summer. Now it’s time to start prepping for school to start.  This year will have some big changes.  Both kids head to new schools.  There will be bus schedules to examine, drop off and picks ups to work around, and supplies to be purchased.  They’re sort of bummed there is just a few more weeks of summer left.  I’m almost glad to get back to the organized chaos of fall.  At least some planned adventures are getting us all excited for the upcoming months.

How I Got Beat Up on My Daughter’s Birthday

This blog post contains adult language. I would say “inappropriate language” but the swears within are perfectly appropriate for what happened.

Consider yourself warned.

Yesterday was the little’s 8th birthday.  We had her party the day prior for family, but yesterday my husband and I both took the day off to spend the day with the kids for her birthday.  This in itself was a treat, as we typically have opposite schedules, and the kids rarely get us both for an extra day unless it’s a holiday or birthday.  We started the day off with gifts, then headed off to do what she wanted.

Aside from a quick trip at the Rec office, which is where in my last post you’ll hear about me yelling at a stranger across a counter, the rest of the day was on 8 year old terms.  Lunch was at Taco Bell, followed by some shopping at Justice with her gift cards, where she got to pick out what she wanted, and then off to the trampoline park for 2 hours of jumping and games.  The kids ran off to play dodgeball on the trampolines, while my husband I relaxed at a table.  I noticed some massage chairs and commented we should go relax after all our hard work at the party the day before and get a massage.

 

chairWe lugged our stuff over, and my husband sat down.  He put in his dollar, handed one to me, and I went to put my dollar into the slot. Just as my dollar slid in, my husband said “oh, OW! Jesus!” and he began to warn me that this chair was no joke…in fact, perhaps I shouldn’t do it because I have  bad back and it could be bad……

The chair gave zero fucks.

The leg massagers clamped together with such force I couldn’t move my legs.  I was nervous they might break my leg if they got any tighter. “Oh my God!  My legs!” I squealed.

The chair tilted back suddenly and hard nodules started pummeling my back from every angle. “ow, ow!  OW!” I gasped.

I couldn’t move though.  It had my legs. It was NOT LETTING GO.

Now, the fact I am really short didn’t help.  The chair was probably at some point trying to massage my neck, only I’m so short it instead punched me in the back of the skull repeatedly.  My head was bouncing all over the place and I began to laugh because the whole situation was so ridiculous. As I am getting punched in the occipital bone repeatedly, I try to look at my husband and the chair effectively punches me in the cheek.  My husband is clearly not comfortable either but is holding it together.  I hear him go “aaarghhh” and “oof” but he is leaning far forward to escape the beatings.

With my short little legs captured by the chair, and the position I was in, I couldn’t lean forward.  I was laughing maniacally, my eyes watering from the discomfort. The whole situation was ridiculous.  I was trying to have nice relaxing massage and instead wondered if I might end up in the ER.

Y’all, that was a long 3 minutes.

3 minutes of getting my legs clamped on so hard I feared a bone might fracture, while the back of the chair beat me like an escaping prisoner.

Finally, the legs started to release.  I thought it was over.

And then it happened.

The chair punched me in the snooch.

No lie, I got cuntpunched by a damned massage chair.

The level of shock I had was indescribable.

My husband saw my face open up into a look of disbelief and I stammered “It punched me in the snooch”. THE CHAIR PUNCHED ME IN THE LADY BITS. He helped me gingerly stand up and the two of us hobbled away like two broken beating victims and went to sit back at the table.  We couldn’t stop laughing.

I woke up today still sore.  My whole body hurts.

And that my friends, is how I got beat up on my daughter’s birthday.

 

 

Yelling at Strangers

I am so tired, I feel that shit deep in my bones.  After a busy work week, with plenty of added jobs, I also had my daughter’s birthday party to prepare for.  In the past we have had her family party at our house or my sister in law’s house (they have a big house with lots of space and a pool, which they have generously offered to us to use for the party many years).  This year, I decided to keep everything super simple.  No theme, no extensive decorations, no tons of planning.  I’ve done it all in the past and I usually end up exhausted.  Frankly, my daughter doesn’t care about all that stuff anyway.  She simply wants a day with her family, playing with kids, opening gifts, and ice cream cake.  She REALLY wanted an ice cream cake, which I found out later on.  This year, I stepped outside my comfort zone and rented a pavilion at the beach. Our town allows you to rent out a pavilion at a reasonable fee.  This spoke to me.  Laid back, beach day, with sun, sand, water, and a playground close by to keep everyone entertained.  I pictured getting leis for the people coming, keeping the food cookout style, and I would simply jump on the grill and it would be a relaxing day for all.

I booked the pavilion, and figured all was well, until my anxiety popped up.  I had this unshakable feeling that we would arrive to set up only to have strangers at the pavilion, and I would be forced into getting someone from the rec dept to have them leave.  I asked the woman at the rec dept what would happen if that situation occurred.  She said “go to the gate and they will have someone come over and sort it.”  Ok, sounded decent, and I tried to not worry.

Then the weather turned. A scan at the Weather Channel app was a rollercoaster of emotion.  I also realized they have likely no idea what the upcoming weather would be.  The weather changed day to day, varying from horrible thunderstorms to partly sunny and warm with a nice breeze.  Each day was a new adventure as far as the meteorologists were concerned. Every day I waffled between seeing we’d have a lovely beach day or a monsoon.

The day before the party, (THE DAY BEFORE!) my phone rings.  When I heard the woman on the other end say she was calling from the rec dept, I KNEW something was wrong.

“So, there is an issue…..we made a huge error on our end…….DOUBLE BOOK………we want to make it right….other alternatives……heading to the beach now to see what can be done…..”

Unimpressed-Dog-Meme-08

I offer to meet them at the beach, and headed off with daughter in tow.

I arrive at the beach and meet up with two women from the rec department.  They honestly couldn’t have been nicer, and were up front with the fact someone had booked the pavilion in June for a gender reveal party and somewhere there was a mix up.  The pregnant woman who booked it had come in freaking out and irate after hearing about the issue.  I can tell they were nervous about speaking with me but were grateful when I kept calm about it.  They offered a different area, said they would set up tents etc, and offered a few options.  The wind that day was coming off the water so hard it was blowing my hair straight up in the air.  I looked at them and said “Look, if the wind is anything like this tomorrow, which it likely will be with storms coming at night….a tent is going to LAUNCH”.  After all was said and done, the options they gave me didn’t feel right and likely would have been a nightmare.  My other brother in law graciously extended an offer for us to have it at his house since they have a large deck and lots of open space.

I excused myself and stepped aside to talk quietly with my daughter.  She said she would be perfectly happy wherever her party was held When she saw me look upset the plans had been all turned upside down, she whispered in my ear “mama, it’s not your fault.  I appreciate all your hard work, but please don’t be sad, it’s OK!”

I’m not crying. I swear.

I walked back and told the women my daughter was ok with us moving the party and the other woman could have the space.  One of the women leaned over and told my daughter how kind and special that was, and how nicely she and I were taking a bad situation and making the best of it. I was promised a full refund, but that I would need to bring the parking passes I had prepaid for all the guests in to get refunded for those.  I wasn’t happy I’d have to retrieve them all, but agreed I would try to bring them in.

I headed off to get my daughter an ice cream cake, which I found out she had really wanted (but would have been impossible at the beach). I let her pick the flavors, the design,etc, and I had a very happy little girl.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING: The party was a success, we all had a great time, and my daughter was thrilled.

Yesterday I took the passes I had and went to the rec center.  It was my daughter’s actual birthday and we had a lot of stuff planned.  I was still recovering from all the work involved for the party and I felt that extreme tiredness in my SOUL.  One of the women I had spoken with at the beach was at the counter and smiled when she saw me. She wished my daughter a happy birthday and handed over a huge bottle of bubbles for my daughter as a gift and as a thank your for being so understanding.  I thanked her and explained I didn’t have two of the passes, but could they let it slide due to the circumstances? She said she’d have to clear it with the other woman, but felt she would probably say yes, because we had been so gracious about the error and so lovely to work with.

Just then, another lady who works there and who I have watched berate another employee there in front of me chimed in and started getting loud with the woman helping me. “WHY WOULD YOU EVEN SAY THAT? WHY WOULD YOU SAY SHE PROBABLY WOULD?” The woman helping me looked extremely uncomfortable.

Not today, Satan,

Not today.

“HEY! DON’T YOU YELL AT HER!”  I shouted.  “This office made a mistake, and could have ruined my daughter’s birthday party.  These two women have been honest about the error, tried to make it right, and are trying to rectify the situation in a positive manner, which is the ONLY reason I have not created a big issue here.  This is not the first time I have seen you berate your coworkers, so why don’t you sit there and go back to your paperwork and make sure this situation doesn’t happen again?”

She huffed.

“GO HUFF IF YOU WANT BUT DON’T YOU BELITTLE HER!”

Yeah.  I became that person.  I became the woman yelling at a stranger over a partition wall because I hate seeing nice people given crap for something when they are just trying to do the right thing.

The woman getting yelled by Grumpy St Bitterbritches is always super sweet and friendly to me.  The last time I went to the office to get the parking passes I watched the other employee belittle another woman who worked there, get sarcastic with a town resident, and make a sarcastic comment to another.

Not today.

I can let a lot slide if people are honest and apologetic.  Accidents happen, mistakes can be made.  A sincere apology without excuses goes a LONG way with me.  My daughter and I had been very accommodating all things considered, which the 2 women we spoke to at the beach were clearly grateful for.  I am sure they saw it was a birthday party for us and a gender reveal party for the pregnant lady and thought it was going to be miserable for them either way because of the mistake.  Instead, it went relatively smooth.  They knew I wasn’t thrilled, but I was honestly kind of ok with it.

To be honest, everything was less stressful for me in the end.  No worries about weather (we had everything outside but moved inside later on so we missed the rain).  I had a fridge, freezer, and everything I needed at my fingertips.  My daughter had the cake she desperately wanted, and a good time was had.  I got to invite more people.  At the end of the day, things fell into place.  Plus, I am getting refunded the money I spent.

But don’t test me, bitter lady in the back of the rec office.

Mama don’t play that.

 

 

She Can Do It All, Until She Can’t

wonder

I grew up the daughter of parents who never made me feel I couldn’t do something just because I was a girl.  I was taught I was equal to men, could hold my own, and to be fiercely independent.  I lived in a two parent household, and my parents stayed happily married until my mother died.  Of course, there were some stereotypical roles that fell into place.  My mother was a stay at home mom, and my dad worked to support the family.  My mother cleaned the house to spotless perfection and looked after me, dinner was on the table each night at 6, and she was the arranger of all the plans.  My mom was the glue that seemed to hold us all together.  My father traveled extensively for work, sometimes even for weeks at a time, and my mother was always the figure in the home who held down the fort.

With that being said, my mother always made it clear that she had been the primary breadwinner before we moved to the US.  I knew she stopped working to look after me, and also because it made more sense financially.  She always told me to make sure I was ok on my own if I ever needed to be, and to make sure I always had my name on the house, cars, and other assets as well as my husband.  She’d had friends who had gotten divorced and ended up screwed because they hadn’t looked out for themselves as well.  In other words, while my parents lived in many ways an old fashioned set up, I was always taught to be a modern, independent woman who could look after herself, and why that was so important. I also learned that I could be a good wife, a good mom, and that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do just because I was a girl.  Women in today’s society are told we can have it all, the career, the family, the home, and all that comes with us.

We can.  Many women do.  But sometimes, it’s really hard.  Like, really, really hard.

I hesitated to write this, because it’s hard to be vulnerable.  Usually when I admit a vulnerability, it gets thrown back at me.  That being said, I am who I am, and unapologetically so.  I own my mistakes, I own who I am, both on my best and worst days.  The other week someone tried a jab at my parenting when I “lost” my daughter.  (More on that in a future blog). Yet still, I owned it. At the end of the day, I am bluntly, without apology, or explanation, myself.  With me, you know what you are getting.  My filter isn’t very good, and my face will say my thoughts anyway.

So with all the things.  The work, the parenting, the house, the jobs, the peopling, the endless obligations that have stacked up….it’s gotten to be a bit much to manage on my own. My husband is always supportive of me in everything I do, but he works long hours and our schedules are opposite, so much of the stuff around the house and scheduling the kids falls to me.  I am trying to hold all the pieces together of the life puzzle and I ran out of hands.  I’m left tired and drained.  They always say on a plane to put your oxygen mask on first so you can help others.  I have been doing the reverse and I ran out of air. The more I couldn’t focus on a few things, the more everything started to spiral where it got to be just a bit more to manage.

This week I hit a wall.  I’ve only had it happen a few times in my life, but this week was one of them.  This week something snapped.  The year of yes came to a crashing end and I just wanted to say no. I looked around and for all I was doing, it just wasn’t amounting to what it should.

And I stopped.

I cried a little, I’ll admit it.

And then I did what I hate doing the most.

I asked for help.

I hate asking for help. I always think it’s an imposition.  It feels like I am failing at something, and I sort of hate that.  The funny thing is, I always encourage others to ask for help, and always am willing to help others.  I suppose we are always hardest on ourselves, right?

I’ve suffered from depression since I was a teen.  I went through some very bad times with it, went on medication, until I finally got it under control.  The fact is, I will likely always have it, but for the most part I rarely suffer these days.  I haven’t been on meds for it for years, but I do stay very mindful of when it feels that it’s starting up.  Yesterday I realized I need to stop and breath.  I looked around, and realized I needed to ask for help to ease the burden of things for a little while.  I called my dad and said I wanted to come visit and have a mini vacation.

I had an honest chat with my family and the response was amazing. I said I am overwhelmed, and they stepped up to ask how in turn they could each help. That’s family. Even the little things stack up to help.  This morning, my husband offered to run the kids to camp and returned home with a coffee for me.  He called from work to check in, just to make sure I am ok.  He knows that usually, I keep it all together, but when I am struggling, he is there to check in…just to make sure I am hanging in there and to see if I need anything.  The reminder that he is there to back me up and lift me up if I fall is a great source of comfort.

The next week or so is going to be busy.  Much to plan, to do, and to coordinate.  That being said, I will be pausing to breathe more, saying no when I get overwhelmed, and asking for help if I need it.  I will try me best to take care of me a bit better than I have been.  Maybe I’ll even use that gift certificate for a massage my aunt sent me.  Seems like a perfect time to use it.  Rest and recharge amongst the chaos, so I can minimize the chaos.

Yesterday, when I felt my worst, I looked around at ALL the THINGS that needed doing, and I felt like a failure.  My mom had always made things seem so effortless.  I look back and realize how much I took for granted.  I realize I looked at her and she made it all seem so darned easy.  I came home from school to find my laundry done, the house clean, a meal on the table, and I never really comprehended the amount of work that went into making all of that happen.  I also realized she would have told me that while she was a stay at home mom, I work full time.  I have less time for some of the things than she had. I know she would have reminded me of the times when she seemed short with me or stressed that she too struggled with getting it all done.  She would also remind me that sometimes, you just have to go and take a nap and figure it out later.

When you grow up and you watch your mom do it all, you think you can too.  There is a big push on social media and the media in general to be the mom who can be perfect.  Everyone portrays themselves to be super moms.  They post and pin and they present the perfect outside image.  Their immaculate houses, their vacations, their endless smiles.  The fact is, I’m sure there’s a lot of women who feel they too need to pause, take a deep breath, and escape from it all for a few.  To not have ALL the THINGS in their heads and to do lists every moment.  So I’m waving to those ladies, from my yard that needs weeding, my house that needs cleaning, surrounded by all the jobs I need to do but have no time to do them in because there’s only so many hours in a day. I hear you. I see you. I’m one of you too.

 

Keep it Simple, Stupid.

Posted on

Oof, it’s been an exhausting few weeks.

June is always a chaotic month for us.  We have family birthdays nearly every weekend, the end of school, the beginning of summer, and there’s always some extra chaos peppered in for good measure. I always reach July hot, sweaty, exhausted, and ready for a nap.

We entered June in a bit of chaos after hearing that our whole school district was getting shifted.  While we will stay at the same school, most of our school friends will be leaving.  It’s very depressing, and if I’m honest, it’s even more depressing because the whole situation smells like racial and economic segregation to me.  I chose to put my kids in a diverse school, surrounded by kids from all racial and economic backgrounds, in order to mimic the real world they will enter after they finish their schooling.  It feels like we are going backwards in this country sometimes.  Racism seems more on the forefront that it has, and I’m becoming acutely aware that people have a general distaste for poor people. I am concerned that some of the decision making was done for the wrong reasons, and it sickens me. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think so.

As I mentioned, I also joined the PTA.  I am not sure at the moment if I am a good fit.  I am very much an eternal optimist, peppered with sarcasm, and frankly, I’m a bit of a savage.  I’m the mom most likely to drop the F bomb.  I go at things 150%, but I think that scares folks.  I need to figure out if it will work, and I need to do so quickly.

June had the usual nonsense by the usual.  The problem is, people don’t realize I’m hot, I’m cranky, and I am smart enough to always stay one step ahead when under fire.  I’m a survivor, with a smattering of OCD, that touch of savagery, and I always will be.

It was also the anniversary of my mother’s death.  You’d think by now I’d handle it like a pro.  The fact is that over the years, it started to get a bit easier, and then it got harder.  Harder because I realize all the things she is missing out on.  I watch my kids grow and see them accomplish things, and I know just how stinkin’ PROUD she would be.  I know that some things would just be so much easier if she was here.  I have my “other mothers” who are women in my life who have stepped into that mom role for me, and for that I am eternally grateful.  I even have a woman who says she considers me one of her grandkids, and signed a recent note “love you like a granddaughter”.  A someone who has lost both of her grandmas, this made me feel so touched.  These women who have stepped up as “other mothers”, they are moms at heart and soul, who not only mother their own kids, but see a kid in need and step in, even if that kid is in her 40’s. This year was a tough one.  I can’t explain why, but I wasn’t having any nonsense from anyone, and pretty much holed up in the house by myself.  My husband knew it was a tough day for me, and came home from work early armed with buffalo wings.  We curled up on the couch, ate, drank beer, watched a comedy, and all was right in the world again.  He’s the best.

The other turn of events was that I treated myself to a dress.  I had no damned business buying that dress, mind you, but I was obsessed with it.  I had seen it when I went to buy a dress for a family event, and I LURRRRVVVED it.  I tried it on, and I fell in love.  The problem was, it was out of my budget, a bit snug, and frankly, not going to work for the event I was attending.  I left without it.  My heart was sad.  I watched it go on sale, 10% off, 20% off…but it was still more than I can justify spending.  The day I was holed up mourning my mother’s passing years ago, I got an email that said the store had a massive sale.  The dream dress I loved was on sale, for almost 70% off.

I bought it.

No shame in my game.

Ok, I feel a little shame.

It’s not exactly a dress I will get tons of use out of.  It’s a bit formal.  HOWEVER, I do have a big party coming up later this year so I can justify buying it for the price I paid.  Oh yes, I noticed the sku ended in my mom’s “lucky number” so I convinced myself she’d say “oh go ahead”.

Camp started today.  My son LOVES his camp.  It’s not fancy, by any stretch, but he loves it.  I had asked my daughter if she wanted to go to camp, and she declined.  She prefer to spend time with family members, or at home.  I did keep her in a sport activity once a week, as well as sign her up for a camp that’s a half day.  She did her first day today, and when I showed up to get her on my lunch break, she asked to stay.  It was damned near 95 degrees out, but she was having fun.  It made me smile to see the kids tired, sweaty, and worn out tonight.  It seemed like they had had a productive, fun, and tiring day.  I topped off the evening by cooking on the grill, and it felt like a summer day.

Know what else felt like a summer day? When my home office was about 100 degrees.  WooNELLY it was HOT.  Thank goodness for a window AC, although I can’t run it while I’m working on certain projects.  This heat is awful.  I’m not cut out for heat at all.  Well, technically  I am not cut out for anything too hot or too gold.  I’m like an old version of Goldilocks.

So now starts our new normal.  School days have been traded for camp days and field trips.  Early mornings, later nights, and events at every turn.  The little one has her birthday this month.  God knows what we’ll do for a party.  I always figure it out though, usually by the skin of my teeth.  Keeping it simple is normally a good plan, so I think we will go with that.

Keeping it simple sounds really good right about now.  Roll on July…but keep it simple, ‘k?

 

 

When The Chickie Wanders

The other day, I wrote about our adventures with trying out more of the “free range parenting”.  That post is here: Let Them Be Chickens.  I’ve found it’s been super successful in teaching my children responsibility, street smarts, etc.  That being said, we hThe daad a wrench thrown in the process this past weekend, so in the interest of being open, I’m going to share it.  I’ve already been attacked for it, chastised, etc, but if I cared about any of that, I’d have different kids because I’d be raising them based off of everyone else’s opinions and not my own.  That’s not how this whole parenting thing works.

So this weekend, my daughter asks to go outside to play.  I was in my office doing something for work, so I said sure, and that would watch her out the window.  I watched her grab her scooter, her helmet, and start going up and down the sidewalk.  Up and down, up and down.  She came to ask me if she could go to a neighbor’s, and I told her no, not today.  I watched her scooter, do some gymnastics in the yard, then hope back on the scooter.  After a few minutes, I realized that I hadn’t seen her ride by.  I called her name, but got no answer.  I yelled louder.  No response. I went outside….and she was nowhere to be seen.

Utter panic set in.  I called for my son to check the house and the back yard. I went to the neighbor’s and asked if she was there.  She wasn’t.  I checked at another neighbor’s, and she wasn’t there either.  The neighbors called other neighbors, and within minutes, a group of people banded together to look.  I didn’t even hesitate…I called the police and my husband.

Now this was scary.  Worst case, had someone grabbed her?  That being said, her scooter was nowhere to be found.  My husband pulled in, along with the police, and I showed them pictures, gave a description.  My husband walked the street and saw her scooter in a neighbor’s driveway.  She was in their yard playing with a friend from school.  I don’t know the family, so I hadn’t thought to look there.  She was crying when she realized what had happened, how worried we were, and that the police were there.

Once she was home, she went inside the house, and the police officer asked to speak to me.

Some of what he said:

“Don’t be afraid to let them outside to play.
“What you are doing is correct.  If you helicopter over them, they will not learn to be self sufficient.  We see kids all the time that if their parent is 10 minutes late they become paralyzed with fear, because their parents haven’t taught them to be ok by themselves for a few minutes”
“It’s important to have a plan.  You have one, she just needs reinforcing on the plan.”
“The days of people driving by and snatching a kid off the street are pretty much long gone.”
“I know you’re freaking out right now, because things went awry, that you’re a bad mom.  You’re doing good. ”

So today, it has been an inside day.  My daughter learned a harsh lesson about being responsible and following the plan.  My standard of “You will get privileges as long as you are responsible with them” is in effect, so she will need to earn back her chance to go back outside to play with the neighborhood kids.  She apologized unprompted and explained that she had done the wrong thing in not communicating to me what happened.

Out of this scary situation, came some really positive things.

  • I have amazing neighbors.  Within moments, keys were grabbed, cars mobilized, and other neighbors called in to help look for my daughter.
  • I reached out to the neighbor who has the house where she was, and we have planned to schedule a playdate and to communicate if the kids are playing together.
  • I saw the very best of our police department.  They got here in moments, asked me quick questions, and banded together.  Once she was found, they talked me of the proverbial ledge and reminded me that we have to raise kids to be productive members of society.  They joked with me, each other, and when it was done, they gave me a thumbs up for how I handled it and left.  Super kind, and super efficient.  I couldn’t have asked for better.
  • I have some great family members who were supportive and understood what I am doing, why I am doing it, and that sometimes things go wrong.  No judgement, no hassle, just support.
  • At the end of the day, I have been pretty vocal about what happened.  Sure, there’s been those that judged or had some negative things to say.  Shrug.  I had fears of that before saying anything but at the end of the day, I own my choices of how I parent, and own who I am.  If people don’t like it, don’t follow my lead, and do you, boo.  I’ll do me.  I definitely am left feeling confident about owning who I am.

 

So, we excelled, we faltered, and now we begin again.  Lessons learned, and we were fortunate that out of a scary situation, a ton of positive results happened.  So we begin again, with a plan a bit more fine tuned.  Someone said to me “perhaps this is exactly the lesson she needed”.  I believe it is.  She learned a lot of lessons that day.  She learned about responsibility, about sticking to a plan, communication, and why all of that is so important.  I just need to reinforce all of those lessons going forward.