It Comes in Threes

The other day, I broke my moratorium on posting to write a few words about a friend I never formerly met. Sometimes it feels like I spend a lot of time writing about death. Death, travel and family probably sum up my posts. One being my least favorite thing, and the other two being my most favorite. This week, we had a lot of interweaving of the three.

Friday went like any other day. Work, racing kids around here and there at night, and me looking forward to crawling into bed to relax. As I bustled around getting the kids ready to head to bed for the night, I began my nightly routine of making sure the animals were all fed. I started downstairs and worked my way upstairs to feed the guinea pigs their nightly veggies. I knew almost immediately something was wrong. They had swapped houses, and one was laying in a strange manner in his little grass house. The other looked unsettled. I gently lifted the house and saw my little piggie laying flat, breathing, but definitely not well. I panicked. I could tell without a doubt he was dying, and not far from it. I mulled over the options. I knew there weren’t many. He didn’t care for being picked up at all, it just wasn’t his thing, and I knew me trying to pick him up would cause him stress. I also knew trying to get him to a vet likely wouldn’t be helpful at this stage, and that the frigid temps would probably shock him into death as well. This wasn’t a case of simply being under the weather. I had to tell my kids the situation, and I explained it all the very best way I could. He was gone not too long after.

Now some people will say “meh, it was just a rodent”. In our home every life matters, no matter how big or small, and a loss is a loss. Our pets are all a part of our family, and we love them all dearly. My daughter and I do the most with the guinea pigs, and we were certainly hit the hardest by the loss. My husband and I cleaned the cage, set up a little coffin for our deceased piggy, and tried to comfort the other piggie the best we could. My daughter had fallen asleep before she knew he had died, camping out on one of her brother’s bunk beds, and was devastated. We held a funeral for our lost pet in our yard, my husband saying a little prayer. Years ago my father in law gifted me a large stone engraved with my mother’s name for my yard so I’d have a place to go and think about her since she’s buried overseas. I asked my daughter if she’d like to move the stone over where her little lost piggie was, and that seemed to really comfort her. It was a somber day.

The same weekend, I got a call my great uncle had passed away. I felt saddened to hear the news, but knew that the past few years had been physically very tough for him, enough so that he was unable to attend his brother’s funeral (my grandfather) which had upset him greatly. I felt relieved he was no longer suffering, but I did get upset when I realized he was the last of that generation for the family. The three siblings and the little boy my great grandparents took in during WW2, all now deceased from cancer or old age. A whole generation of love, stories and memories, all gone. It made me inherently sad.

One of the few truly happy things that came out of my grandfather’s funeral was meeting his cousin, who regaled with me with stories and love for my grandfather. Those two got along famously, and I’d never met her before. I just called her to inform her of the loss of my great uncle. She had heard already, but the two of us had a quick chat. She and I are two peas in a pod really. In the short time I’ve known her I’ve found she’s feisty, silly, and a bit messy, just like me. Our birthdays are a week apart. She’s in her 90’s now and the last one of that group left. I’m hopeful she’s around for a long time, and will go visit her when I get back to England. She’s amazing, and I am sad for not having met her sooner.

One the bright side, this year is shaping up to be pretty awesome so far, and I sure hope it continues. Plans are falling into place. I was able to make some big moves on a personal level which will open up some opportunities for my family. Travel is on the horizon, with at least 5 trips planned this year, possibly more, and I’m hopeful for a big trip next year. Mindsets are being changed. Big plans are coming down the pike. I’m more content than I’ve been in years. I’m freeing myself from anything and anyone that brings me down and it feels AMAZING. I’ll expand more when I can.

In a week, I lost 3. It’s a reminder to focus on the good, and work to fix the bad. While I’m sad for the losses, it’s a reminder, no matter how cliche, to live loud and big. I don’t want to regret not doing things. I want to go places, see things, love people with all my heart, and on my last day, know that I gave it my all.

Friends We Don’t Know: A Tribute to The Real Old Housewife.

You know, I started this blog about 8 years ago or so, along with my corresponding Twitter account. I used to write mostly about the Real Housewives franchises, and gained a small following and subscribers here. I had two small kids and spent my evenings home, so I watched quite a bit of TV while they slept. Over time, the blog evolved to include more of my adventures in motherhood, marriage, my relationship with death, crazy people, and plenty of posts where I laugh at my foibles. I spent less time on Twitter, but did manage to keep most of my followers and “Twitter friends”. One of whom, was Linda.

To be fair, I never knew her real name. I knew her by her Twitter handle. I often giggled at her posts as I scrolled through my feed on occasion. She and I saw eye to eye on a lot, and I enjoyed her posts. About a month ago, I popped onto Twitter and saw a post from her that left me unsettled. She posted that she had been diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer, and it had spread into her neck and spine. My thumb stopped scrolling. I paused, and began to cry.

My mom died from lung cancer. It’s the number one killing cancer, with an estimated 200,000 people diagnosed each year and 150,000 people dying from it. It’s a beast. I have multiple friends who’s parents died from lung cancer. It is swift, cruel, and painful. I felt so heartbroken for this woman I didn’t even know in person Perhaps it was the link with losing my own mom, perhaps it was just the knowledge of how it would likely play out, but it hit me harder than I ever would have expected.

Over the next few weeks, I found and followed her blog, where she details her experiences and thoughts. I read about her doctor visits, her husband, hospice, and how she felt about all of these things. I read about how she took charge of her care, telling the doctors she wanted to do things on her own terms, and I cheered her on from my little corner of the world. I worried about how her husband would cope without her. I was relieved that she found such good care in her hospice team. I felt dismayed I hadn’t seen her blog before because her writing kept me so enthralled and entertained. I was amazed at her grace and humor even during such a difficult time. I became invested in this stranger, and I was rooting her on, dammit.

It hadn’t occurred to me that I was checking Twitter daily to make sure she was ok. I didn’t write her too much but I was rooting for her from afar. Last night as I wearily crawled into bed, I suddenly realized I hadn’t checked on her all day. I hit my Twitter app, looked up her name, only to see a sweet post from her husband that she had passed away. I paused, and then broke down in tears. How do you ugly cry for a stranger you’ve never met? It’s funny how people have a way, even through just Twitter, to impact your life in a positive way. Maybe it’s the way you relate to them on some level, maybe it’s that they make you laugh or feel something deeply. Whatever it is, Linda struck a cord with me. She brightened the days with her frank humor and she handled the toughest of moments with grace, honesty, and a good old laugh.

I’m going to miss her, and if her timeline is any indication, you can see the wealth of people posting love, tributes and prayers for her. One person can make an awfully big ripple in this big pond called life. Thank you, Linda, for all the laughs you gave me, for the strength you showed me, and for posting a picture of yourself so we could see the beautiful face behind it all. Thanks for creating a ripple that reached me, and let me into your life a little bit, because I am better for it.

We were all better for knowing her, even if we didn’t know her well behind the screen.

Not the New Year I Planned

Well, folks, it’s New Year’s Eve! 2018 is coming to a close. It’s been an interesting year. I see all the “2018 sucked, bring on 2019” posts on Facebook and Twitter. I can’t say that 2018 was a great or terrible year. I’m saying goodbye on a happy note, albeit today hasn’t gone great.

We had simple plans to take the kids and head over to my Brother in law’s house. We love hanging with them and I was excited to see them while still having a low key night. I don’t need the drunken nights at the club or massive hangovers. I did that stuff in my 20’s and some of my 30’s. I don’t recover as well after a night of heavy drinking these days. Anywho, my daughter had begged to go for another horseback riding lesson today, so I set my alarm early and called to see if they could squeeze her in. They said the could, and I was happy to surprise her. When she came downstairs, however, she was in tears that her stomach hurt terribly. Within a few minutes, she vomited and had the runs. Now every year our family seems to get a stomach bug I. January. This year, we beat expectations by squeaking it in December 31st! I cancelled her lesson, put my favorite pj’s on, and settled in for a day at home. We’ve had a lazy day and will stay home tonight. I’m sad about cancelled plans but hopeful a restful night will help little one feel better soon.

It occurred to me that lazy days don’t come often for me, and while I feel a bit antsy as though I SHOULD be doing something, I have enjoyed a quiet day of reading articles online while little one slept or watched some TV. I fooled around on Facebook and am enjoying seeing people post resolutions and goals.

At the end of the day, I doubt many people stick to their resolutions, but I still love reading them and hearing them. Why? Because it’s hope. Hope is a glorious thing. Hope is what keeps us moving forward, even on the hard days. I love seeing people hope to improve upon their life.

There’s something about New Years that makes us take stock in our lives more so than other days. We think about what went right, what went wrong, and how we can be better in the upcoming future.

In 2018, I began the year with a hysterectomy. It was a bit scary, but ended up being very freeing. After the initial few weeks of healing I was back at work (earlier than the Dr preferred but not alarmingly early) and since the surgery I feel a million times better. We had some tough days. I had friends lose parents, there Will bills I struggled to pay, and we got scary news about my daughter’s teeth. We plodded on. We took an amazing family vacation. I learned some hard lessons on that trip but also had a fantastic time. I got some hard news. I learned things I didn’t know about family. I got into the Christmas spirit. This week a close family friend had an aneurism and went in for brain surgery. She so far is doing well, and while I’m not a praying type of gal I am certainly keeping her in my thoughts and sending well wishes her way. I got to watch my daughter find another passion and help her try new things. I got to laugh with my son until my sides hurt. I’m spending some fun time with my husband.

I want to set some goals for the new year. Who knows if I’ll reach them but the very idea of hope and happiness inspires me.

I’d like to spend more time outdoors.

I’d like to lose a little weight.

I’d like to advance at my job and learn new things.

I’d like to ride a horse.

I’d like to swim more.

I’d like to travel.

I’d like to laugh a lot and cry a little.

I’d like to spread a little kindness.

I’d like to ensure toxic people stay away from me.

I’d like to take better care of myself.

So there you have my list of I’d like to’s.

I’ll be mulling over some ways to achieve the above while I’m cozied up at home tonight with the family. What are some of YOUR goals? Inspire me!

Have a wonderful New Years! Stay safe!

Messy xx

Mama Clause

Well, it’s Christmas Eve! I can’t wait to see the kids open their presents tomorrow (and my husband too!). I LOVE Christmas. My mom and dad (mostly my mom) always went above and beyond to make Christmas magical. Christmas was big in our house. As a mom now, I realize how much effort my mom put into things to make Christmas seem as magical as it always did. She had a great attention to detail, and she must have worked her ASS off to make everything seem as perfect and special as I remember.

Speaking of mom, I have been missing her a lot lately. 12 years later, I still miss her presence, her laugh, and our daily phone calls. Today I was feeling a bit down this morning. As I left the house to run to the store, I saw a bright, shiny new penny sitting on my from door step. I bent down to pick it up and briefly though of “pennies from heaven”. It made me grin and I slid the penny into my pocket. I hopped into the car and pushed the start button. The radio came on loudly and Adele was belting out the lyrics “hello from the other side”.

A smile crossed my face and a tear rolled down my cheek.

I have been working hard to get things ready for Christmas, in the hopes I can make my kids’ Christmas as magical as mine always were for me as a kid. Tonight will be full of baking, prepping, and last minute wrapping. Most of their gifts are wrapped. I learned the hard way last year when I was wrapping until 3 am. I spent Christmas feeling broken and exhausted last year. The magic escaped me. This year, I sacrificed Christmas cards to get more wrapping and prepping done. I didn’t get Christmas cards done this year. With the trip overseas, orthodontics, activities, shopping and every day life, there just wasn’t the time. I have a love hate relationship with Christmas Cards. I love getting them, hate writing them, but I know the older family members overseas like them. That being said, something had to give, and the cards were it. At the end of the day, sometimes, you just can’t do it all. I see posts where women are beating themselves up because they didn’t get it all done. The fact is, most of the things we stress about will go unnoticed. In an age of Pinterest, it’s so easy for folks to see what we think we SHOULD do.

My gift to myself this year is less stress, and ok, a new Joules coat, but I digress. My husband joined in to my less stress mantra and ordered a tray of food as the entree for Christmas dinner. It’s one of his faves, and he wanted to make things easier for me. I no longer need to spend the day locked by the oven. Instead, I can whip up some side dishes and easy desserts. Score! Pair that with some wine and it will be an easy peasy meal.

Merry Christmas, y’all. I hope your day is magical, in whatever way you wish it to be.

Love,

Messy xx

Mommin’ ain’t easy

Some days, mommin’ ain’t easy. We’ve had a few of those this week. Yesterday was a prime example. I awoke to the sound of a wounded animal outside my bedroom door. It was a primal call of fear. I immediately ripped my earplugs out (key to a happy marriage), and quickly searched for the strange yet familiar noise. It was the boy child doing his sound of panic as he realized he had missed the bus. I told him to get ready, and I would drive him. I raced him to school, raced home, and picked up the girl child. As we pulled into her school’s driveway, she announced “mama? My ear hurts.” and headed off to class.

45 minutes later, I get a call from the nurse. Little one is in her office, sobbing with ear pain. I ask if she has Tylenol, which she does (but isn’t really supposed to give her) but I beg her to dole some out to get the pain under control, call the dr, and ask the husband if he can get her and run her to the doctor. Thankfully, he agrees, and I jump on my conference call appointment. Soon after, they arrive home, announcing an ear infection, and let me know I will need to go get her antibiotics. I work, take a quick lunch break, and try to frantically wrap a few gifts in private. The gorgeous gold glittery paper I purchased is stunning….and tape won’t stick to it, rendering it UTTERLY USELESS. I try different tape, I try patience. I consider glue and realize that’s far more effort than I am willing to exert. I punt kick it across the room in frustration.

As soon as work is done, little one and I run to grab her medicine. She also reminds me it’s dress down day at school (they normally wear uniforms) and she needs a holiday themed shirt. I sigh. I COULD run her home and drop her to her brother, making my shopping trip faster, easier, and without hearing “ooh, I want to add this and this to my Christmas list!” just a few days before Christmas arrives. I mull over my options. It’s getting late, I still need to cook, so I bite the bullet and we race to the mall. The store I planned on going to has no holiday stuff left aside from Pj’s, so I hit the holy grail, Target, where my daughter finds a Santa dress. I bump into my sister in law, who joins in the coercive effort of trying to convince my daughter to abandon the Santa dress and go with something she can wear more than once. She leaves, and I fail to do the job. We leave with the damned Santa dress while I question my choices and lack of will power.

We race home, I cook, and we do the orthodontic key turning. There are tears. I clean the guinea pig cage. I give kisses and hugs. I plan to do more gifts. Instead, I collapse on the couch to watch A Million Things (A Million Little Things?). I head up to bed, puffy faced and red from sniffling at a sad story line that come a bit too close to home. Sleep is welcome.

Today involved shuttling kids (we had flash flooding so I ended up driving all the neighborhood kids home from school, which required some deep coordination). I had to call to sort out a gift for the kids from my dad. One involved getting a GC, but the woman told me I had to use it within 4 weeks. It seemed really strange, and it wasn’t until I chatted with someone who told me the place was sold and closing that I realized why. Luckily it’s a cash only place so I was supposed to drive there tomorrow to pay for it and pick up the certificate. Instead I found another place (that plans on staying in business!) and can get one from there instead. Why would you not tell someone you are going out of business? Incredibly shady to say the least. I worked, almost got mowed down by a gymnastics mom who wasn’t paying attention in the parking lot, and got the boy a haircut on my break. My treat to myself for Christmas arrived from England, and it’s too big, meaning a return is in order, which will likely be a complicated nightmare. Soon, I will be racing to get the little one and dropping both kids off for a sleepover with the Aunt and Uncle. Then I need to do wrapping of presents and cleaning for Christmas.

You know what though? It’s crazy. It’s chaotic, and it’s not easy, but it’s my life, which is a hell of a good one.

Parents, at least a good chunk of them…they bust their asses on the regular. They do what they can to raise the best kids they can. It’s REALLY hard some days. Some days, it’s the best feeling in the world to see things fall into place and see your kids succeeding at being happy people. At the end of the day, we all want our kids to be HAPPY. Happy kids, in my mind, are successful kids. I don’t much care where they work, who they love, as long as they are happy. When you have kids, the older folks will tell you “cherish every moment, it goes by so fast!” They aren’t lying. As the kids grow up, it goes by even faster. You start to find yourself wishing you could slow things down, keep them littler longer, and keep all the memories locked in a safe place. The days whiz by, with the mom or dad taxi running place to place. Activities, school, work, cooking, cleaning, hugging, loving, managing, planning, keeping all the balls in the air while you juggle life at full speed.

It ain’t easy.

I wouldn’t change a thing though.

Social Media and the Surge of Douchebaggery

Social media is exhausting, isn’t it? Were people always douchebags or does  the douchebaggery intensify when social media gets involved?  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m often seen perusing Facebook, occasionally on instagram, sometimes on Twitter, and Pinterest.  Social media is an easy way for me to stay in touch with family overseas and across the US.  It certainly has its merits, but it also comes with some angst and annoyance. 

First stop on the social media annoyance train?  Those stupid “this one random person is offended by XYZ, so now everyone should get up in arms about it and complain” posts that are common.  “Some random person in the middle of nowhere says Santa should be gender neutral” is put on Facebook and MILLIONS of people take to Facebook in anger about how “nobody should be messing with MY Santa!” or the ironic “People are so sensitive these days!  Why don’t they worry about themselves?!”  Look folks.  If you haven’t figured out by now that certain groups put stupid stuff on social media to distract you from the important stuff going on in the world, then I don’t know what to tell you.  People get offended ALL the time, about all sorts of ridiculous stuff. You only have a choice on how to deal with it.  Either mind your business and do what you’re going to do, or consider their point/feelings and then make a change or continue as you were.  Not everything needs to be an argument or needs your opinion of how sensitive everybody is.  Know why? Because you’re being equally as sensitive.  

2nd stop: having to suss out fake accounts.  I’ve made no secret of the fact I have a person IRL who stalks me online.  Heavily. They’ve been doing it for years, have had their coworkers joining in, and admit they make multiple fake accounts to do so.  They hate everything I say but created fake accounts to get notifications of when I post on here.  Go figure.  So occasionally, I have to spot check followers, likers, and social media hits because you never know when crazy gets riled up.  Also, people outside of that scenario use social media for sketchy purposes. I happen to generally be pretty aces as sussing out fake accounts, and block them  I have no time for nonsense.  If you followed me on here and I took you off incorrectly, let me know so I can add you back on. Mistakes happen. My apologies. 

3rd stop: TMI:  Look, if you have a TMI story but it’s hilarious and self deprecating, I’m all for it.  If it’s funny, I’m in it to win it with you.  That being said, some folks put ALLLLLLLL their business on there.  Hey, I am pretty open book on here, but it’s my blog.  I blog about the good, the bad, and the ridiculous.  I love a good self deprecating story, as long as it’s got some humor about it.  

Part two of the TMI? Don’t bash your spouse or partner on social media.  Why?  First off, the internet is forever.  Secondly, and this happens all the time, people bash the shit out of their spouse on Facebook.  All their friends and family take their side, which is nice for a while, until the couple makes up.  Now that person’s friends and family don’t like the spouse or partner any more.  Everyone has beef with the spouse or partner now, except for the original poster, who now gets angry everyone else is pissed at their significant other.  Plus, once you post public cracks in your relationship, don’t be surprised when shady folks come lurkin’ around.  My husband and I have driven each other to anger before, but we respect each other enough not to bash the other person on social media.  If you’re bashing each other online,  chances are you won’t last long together, because you don’t have that respect for each other.

Next stop? Attention whoring.  Facebook posts where you announce you’re leaving, only to return with 48 hours later.  Look, nobody cares. Go. When you’re done with whatever required you to do a whole deactivation, and big announcement of your departure, then go right back and go fuck yourself because nobody cares.  It’s exhausting. Posting vague comments and when people ask you if you’re ok (even though they likely think you’re being an attention whore and exhausting) you say “yeah, I’m fine” or “DM me”.  Why bother posting it then to the general public just to say to take it private?  I get that Facebook, Twitter and the like are a narcissist’s dream, but once you achieve complete attention whore status, it needs to just end. 

Finally, my favorite: Endless political posts.  Look, we all have our beliefs. Even if your belief is that politics are the root of all evil and shouldn’t be followed, it’s a belief.  The fact is, however, that people won’t change their beliefs because you post some meme about something.  They will either nod because they agree (regardless of whether you post is true…another pet peeve of mine is sheeple who spread misinformation without taking 2 seconds to research anything) or roll their eyes and keep scrolling.  Nobody is changing their minds off your meme’s. 

Speaking of sheeple…folks, not everything on social media is true.  Take the time to research, and not from any leaning websites.  Get some objective information and learn.  Just because it follows your thought process does not make it true.  Smart is sexy.  Research is cool.  It’s no secret Facebook has been used to sway thought processes by the posts selected and placed for you to see.  Be mindful of that.  

Death Before Christmas

Yesterday I woke early, and decided to luxuriate in bed for a while to scroll through my Facebook feed before beginning the day.  The first post I saw was a picture of 2 hands holding on to each other that began with “Today I lost my best friend…..”  I immediately glanced at the name of the poster and began to panic.  I read the post and saw my fear was correct.  My good friend’s father had passed away.  My heart sank, and I found myself crying for my friend’s surely broken heart.

My friend, I’ll call her Sue, is a single mom of 4 I’ve known for many years.  We live close to each other and often chip in to help each other out.  We pet sit for each other, borrow sugar or flour, jump cars, and mow lawns for each other.  We know we can count on each other in a pinch, and there is never any judgment about our often messy houses, chaos, or asking for a favor.  We both lost our moms and we understand how deep that loss goes. We get each other.  It is a simple and easy friendship that I treasure deeply.  

Sue’s dad has been her rock.  He was often swinging by to help fix things, or take care of something she needed help with.  I never met him, which seems strange to me now, because he was such a prominent figure in her life.  When times got tough for her, he would give her money to help out.  He kept her afloat when she thought she might drown and she simply adored him.  She was always grateful for him and told me on many occasion that “I don’t know what I’d do without him”.  She spoke of him glowingly and acknowledged how lucky she was to have him.  

Last week, my husband and I went by to help her when her Christmas tree fell over, not once, but twice. She mentioned she was going to visit her dad to check on him because he had felt out of sorts.  It didn’t even occur to me that he would end up passing away a few days later.

Once I read her post, I sat wondering how I could help.  I WANT to help.  I want to do something, anything to ease her pain, but I’m so unsure of where to begin.  Death, especially death of a parent, is so very difficult.  I’ve often posted about how deeply the death of my mother and friend have impacted me.  That being said, when I asked myself “what did I want or need when my mom passed away?” I came up sort of empty handed.  I remember feeling utterly alone.   My dad was 300 miles away, the rest of my family 3000 miles away.  I had my husband, and he tried his damnedest to get me through it all,  but I still felt alone.  I realize now I’m not sure if I alienated myself a bit.  I had so much overwhelming grief I didn’t want to burden others with it.  I didn’t want to have to console other people.  I just wanted to get through the grief on my own terms.  The problem was, I was newly married with an infant, so there was no time to grieve properly, not in my eyes anyway.  I just got on with things the best I could and let the grief seep out when I could….5 minutes here, 10 minutes there…

My husband suggested cooking a meal.  Meals are good.  I know this.  The problem is, I’m not a super cook, and she has some dietary restrictions (her son is also a very picky eater).  In the end, I saw her best friend was with her and I messaged the friend that Sue could call in an order to any place and I’d fly and buy, or I’d pay for whatever meal she wanted.  Also, if she needed to talk, to vent, I’d be here, day and night, any time she needed. 

It’s a fine line of offering, being there, but not imposing.  I wish I could say or do the perfect thing to ease her pain, but I know I can’t. I can just be here if she needs a friend. 

Death before the holidays seems particularly painful.  People are rushing around, cheery game faces on.  This is the time of year we tend to focus on love and family.  How do you console someone who has had such a huge loss?